Thursday, January 19, 2006

Follow-Up: Painful Confession

[Image by Alex Grey]

Thanks to everyone who commented on or mentioned my previous post on their blog.

After thinking about this for a while, and feeling as if I had been foolish to surrender my critical thinking capacity to Wilber for several years, I have come to understand what happened in a new way. Rather than being self-critical, I am looking for the deeper lesson in this experience (thanks to Maude for helping me sort through this).

What really bothered me was that I had surrendered to Wilber as though he were my guru. It wasn't a conscious choice--my rational brain and clinging ego can't tolerate the idea of surrender inherent in the guru/student relationship. However, there is meaning in the desire to surrender--a desire that is now conscious.

Wilber and his work provided a sense that the Universe has meaning, purpose, and order, and that I could possibly get a taste of that. For much of my life until reading Wilber (and Jung, among others, all in a two-year period), I held a very nihilistic view of life. Yet I craved the meaning I once found as a child in the Catholic church. Not in their idea of God, but that there was a God who was wise and compassionate (don't ask me how I got this out of Catholicism, because I have no idea).

One other element, the shadow side of this, also was important. I am a control junky, and I consume information as a way to feel a measure of control in a chaotic world. Wilber presents himself as almost "all-knowing," which allowed my shadow need for control to think that if I simply read all of his books, I too will know enormous amounts of information--therefore, I will have more control.

The shadow stuff is a minor detail, however. The important element that I have discovered is the craving for wholeness, meaning, and safety that is at the base of every human being's quest for the divine. Having dismissed God as a teenager, and having not yet found Buddhism, I sought the surrender to God through a surrender to Wilber as my guru--no matter how unconscious that process was.

Yesterday I was beating myself up for even holding that need. Today I see it as the fuel for the next phase of my growth. I crave the experience of being enfolded into nonduality, of surrendering ego with a full sense of safety. I crave the knowledge that I am loved by some power/force greater than me and my little ego. I don't think I am alone in this feeling.

Ego doesn't want to surrender. I have rejected the guru relationship in my Buddhist work because my ego rejects the idea that anything is greater than it is. Realistically, I know there are few teachers who have transcended their ego enough to be true gurus. Still, there are many who can be good teachers. I am now open to seeking that out.

Looking back over the past several years, I can ask myself if any good came from simply allowing myself to accept Wilber's worldview without question. The answer is yes. I moved out of the hopelessness I once felt as an angry teenager. I have grown as a person as a result of the work I have done with integral theory. I have a magnificent tool for understanding my world. And a door has been opened in me that I can work toward--a door into a region of my life that is beyond ego.

Finally, I have discovered that the only place I ever feel the sense of wholeness and meaning that I now realize has been driving me is with my girlfriend. In surrendering to Kira and the love she offers me, I move beyond my little ego. In feeling my love for her and giving it without condition, I also transcend my little ego.

Relationship can be an integral path. There is no gender distinction in this, no man/woman thing. We all contain a masculine and feminine element. When we are in true relationship, it is no longer one + one = two (male-female, female-male, or primary gender combination of your choice); it is one + one = four (male-female, female-male, male-male, female-female). Add this to the four quadrants, consider the developmental lines, think about states and stages, get to know your various subpersonalities, and never forget the Great Chain of Being, and relationship--the way all these elements interact between two people--becomes an amazing path to self-knowledge and self-transcendence.

In surrender to relationship, I get a taste of that enfolding into divinity that I crave. And I am a better person for allowing myself to need this kind of surrender.
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