Going Around in Circles

If we could change ourselves into the calm, creative, life loving persons we want to be, we would have already done just that. Who doesn’t want to feel peaceful, guilt-free, productive? Getting what we want is not so easy. No matter how often we bombard ourselves with affirmations. No matter how many good deeds we do to assuage our guilt. No matter how many craft classes we enroll in.

If we could consciously, with our own will power, change what we want to change in and around us, we would miss what is even better. We would think our rationality is the best thing we have going for us and never open ourselves to the full resources of the unconscious.

Joseph. C. Pearce says that all the creativity we individually and collectively manifest is but about 5% of what the unconscious can produce in us. Imagine! And feelings of guilt and low self-esteem are simply the garbage we have collected which keeps the unconscious from emerging into our consciousness with its power.

We need not fear that giving our Inner Wisdom permission to do what is necessary to eliminate the garbage is going to leave us unmotivated and without direction. (One Christian friend of mine told me he was convinced that without guilt he wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning.) On the contrary, with the garbage removed, our original self emerges—curious, creative, and able to be totally present in the moment so that life in its fullness can be experienced.

The collective confessions and petitions of a religious worship service will not serve, however, as the necessary engagement of our head and heart in genuine dialogue with our innermost self. Each must find his own way, initiate his own conversation. At least, that was my experience.

Engaging in Inner Dialogue

Two of my friends have had life-changing results from inner dialogue. Both, as their cancer returned a second time, were encouraged by their spiritual directors to dialogue directly with the disease. One told me she had an amazing epiphany and learned extremely important information about herself. The other said she began her dialogue considering the cancer her arch-enemy and ended the dialogue befriending and being befriended by it. Both are cancer free and have been for quite some time.

We need not feel something on the inside is eating us alive in order to achieve positive results from a written dialogue. Jungian analyst and writer Robert Johnson says he dialogues with his inner self each morning. Engaging in what he calls Active Imagination, he asks if there is anything his ego is doing to upset his inner self. And he says the answer usually is ‘yes.’

Something in us needs to become curious about what may lie beneath our rational consciousness. Curious enough to ask a question.
Why am I so angry about _________?
Why can I not reach closure on ___________?
Why am I not giving myself permission to ________?
‘Why’ questions usually are the best to begin with.

And understand at the outset that our Inner Wisdom is as playful as it is wise. The responses we receive may very well begin with, “What do you think?” But that very response, posed as a question by a ‘voice’ beyond our head, may be the very question to initiate new thinking that will lead to new insight.

Remember, our free will is never compromised. Dialogue with our Inner Wisdom is not a leap of faith, nor a courageous act, nor surrender. It is simply an interview—questions and answers—an exercise we decide to undertake to learn more about ourselves. A dialogue we can end at any time.

We will know when a resolution to an issue has been found. A satisfactory ending will occur.

Testing Our Inner Wisdom

If there is any doubt that you have an Inner Wisdom dedicated to your well-being, consider the following:

–Think of an incident when a creative idea or humorous response erupted from your mouth without seeming to have passed through your mind’s judging facility.

–Remember an occasion when you felt the need to call someone only to hear the phone ringing as he called you.

–Recall some problem you tried to solve, working at it long and hard, only to find when you gave up that the problem seemed to solve itself.

All these are glimpses of the enormous inner resource at our disposal, ready to make our being playful, creative, compassionate. Inner Wisdom is part of the vast unconscious part of our personality. Its powers are benevolent. It does have, however, a mind of its own. It cannot be coerced into following the dictates of our will, but it is ready to serve us well when we are ready to cooperate.

Consider a test:
Tell your Inner Wisdom you want to want to do something. Something you have not been able to make yourself do or want to do. This is different from “Help me do___.” Wanting to want to do something is asking our Wisdom Energy to give us the impetus that makes us want to do some task that needs tackling.

Pick something you’ve put off—something you dreaded beginning, something you’ve not been able to make yourself finish, something you wish you had never committed to. Consciously say, if you can mean it, that you want to want to do that thing. And then let go of it. Chances are in the not too distant future you’ll have a surprise.


Having It All!

I pondered what might be needed to entice people into dialogue with their Inner Wisdom—a totally non-threatening conversation which could be ended by our conscious will at any time. A poem came to me, the last line of which stated, “…one of us must die so both of us can live.”

If I could only find a way to convince folks that they get two for one. The basic human duality engaging each of us is thinking we must choose between two options when the necessary cooperation with our Inner Wisdom will give us both.

What died in me—what needs to die in everyone—is the garbage I’d collected—the drivenness, the will to power, the anger, the need to win at another’s loss. Our original personality cannot re-emerge until all the negativity we’ve gathered (all in our attempts, by the way, to make ourselves into good people!) is incinerated.

My new interpretation of what Jesus was talking about when he spoke of losing one’s life in order to save it is not losing/giving up the life we cherish but rather that life that has become stale, dry, meaningless; the life that holds no joy and laughter; the life that is killing us. To ‘save’ the remnant of the ‘good life’—and uncover the hidden abundant life deep inside, we must surrender the old, what is no longer working, what is worn out.

In the Jesus narrative, his physical death produced a new being: one with heightened interpretative powers (look at his conversation with travelers to Emmaus); greater ability to be in the moment and create a festive occasion (cooking breakfast for the disciples on the seashore—a culinary first!); and with increased sense of compassion (he tells Peter and others to tend his flocks—not teach, preach, convert, but simply tend). Intellectual, physical, emotional faculties were all totally engaged. Ours become the same as our new being emerges.

My favorite story of all Scripture is called Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac. The truth is, Isaac was not sacrificed. God sent an angel to prevent the deed. God gave Abraham what he had long promised—a son, an heir to be the father of countless descendants. Then God asked for Abraham’s most precious possession, that same son. In being willing to give up what was more important to him than his own life, Abraham was given it back again, with a new understanding of who God is and what is necessary for the kind of relationship with God that God wants him to have.

God has given us a most prized possession—conscious willful control over our lives. Now if we will temporarily give that up, it will come back to us transformed into more than we can imagine,

Being in Control

I began to initiate in-depth conversations with friends who were very much interested in psychology, who read widely in the field and/or were pursuing degrees in counseling.  I wanted to know what they had discovered about themselves in their introspection.  I was eager to know if they had initiated dialogue with their Inner Wisdom.

One said he knew there was something inside that wanted his attention but he was determined not to engage it in conversation.  And he most certainly would not give it any part of his conscious control.  He describes himself, however, as the rich young ruler in Scripture (Matt 19:16-22)–full of sorrow at his own situation.

Another friend readily admitted that for her life was not worth living because she could not have what she yearns for.  She has closed her mind to the possibility that life can hold something even more valuable than what seems beyond her reach.  She rejects the possibility that an Inner Wisdom has a gift for her and teeters on the verge of suicide.

Still another will not allow himself to believe that new life is a possibility.  What he wants it to be is so far removed from where he is now that he can’t imagine getting there even if ‘there’ were a reality.  He refuses to engage in conversation with his Inner Wisdom.

A fourth intellectually understands that the process of wholeness requires a crisis where the old self is sloughed off and the new/real self emerges.  She is, however, unwilling to allow the crisis to come on its own schedule.  She is determined to effect the process by controlling the crisis and causing it to produce mini-crises.  She fears loss of family and friends if she risks letting her inner forces have their way with her.

All four are highly intelligent adults who have suffered greatly.  Most seem to know what is needed to achieve wholeness but will not let themselves experience the existential yearning for new life that lies deep within each of us—a yearning so strong that, once discovered, is willing to give up control (in the form of permission) in order to let a force beyond our control give us new life—in all its abundance.

Perhaps for some of us being in control is more important than being whole.