Thursday, January 27, 2011

On Forming a Cult


We had a cult investigator spend a couple of days with us recently. He sent us a very respectful email and asked to speak with us about our beliefs and so we said yes.  David is a Christian minister with a very firm set of his own beliefs, but he wanted to hear about the Divine Love Path, our identities and we shared some interesting discussions. There was no attack or ridicule directed towards us. I have no idea how he will present us to the world, but I respect that what he chooses to do with our vulnerability is a part of the exercise of his free will.

I have many ideas, reflections and fears about this word cult! It seems a convenient way for society’s accepted religious formats (which all began as ‘cults’ themselves) to lump ‘everything different’ into one category. And ‘everything different’ certainly exists across a broad spectrum.

The word itself conjures up fear in many, references to cool aid and mass suicide are implied in its very utterance. Its all very dramatic and I constantly wonder at society’s obvious penchant for sensationalism, doom and gloom. Of course much harm has been done to many in the name of God and religion but we need to attribute the harm to its true cause and not the effect. The inclination to brand and fear groups that are different has its origins in our personal history.

Fear of Cults? or The Cult of Family

I know that there have been very damaging religious movements that have taken away the free will of others. History has documented cult leaders who have encouraged a worship of themselves and discouraged self love in their followers. Of course many other types of leaders, including politicians, economists and celebrities have done the same. I also know that we are not these types of people.

Some of you have heard me joke about ‘the cult of family’. I coined this term because through my experience and observation it is most often families that use guilt and manipulation to control the will of others in their clan. It is most often family members who resist change in the individual as it upsets the status quo of entrenched family relations. I’m not just referring to spiritual change. We know that fathers berated their sons for their long hair in the 60s, that the advent of rock and roll music and free dancing was scandalous for the older generation of the time. Mothers and fathers throughout history have not only sighed and shaken their heads at their off-springs ‘wild’ or ‘immoral’ ways but often they have gone to extreme social measures and emotional pressure in attempts to pressure their son or daughter against change.

I’m not suggesting that we should throw out families or their ‘values’ altogether but I do think we should question the principle that family = sacrifice, or that in order to show that we love we must compromise our own heart’s desires or passions. This seems to be a fairly entrenched belief system in common family life. I also believe that a supposedly ‘loving family’ that uses unloving words, actions or attempts to control their mother, father, brother or sister through manipulation, guilt, or threat of rejection resembles more the harmful and dangerous ‘cults’ they are so quick to imply that I am a part of, rather than anything I am currently involved in.

I believe that the fear engendered by the word cult relates not to these afore mentioned damaging movements that have existed in the past but to individuals’ fears of being controlled and that the most controlling people in our lives have been not religious leaders or school mistress’ but inevitably our families. In my family I felt smothered by the level of expectation placed upon me and I felt I couldn’t take a step without full parental approval. Ultimately I felt controlled and my sense of self did not flourish. (My parents’ current unloving treatment of me and my partner indicates their demands and desire for control over my life were real). Without a solid sense of whom I was independent of my family I struggled to have integrity to any ideal. I became angry at religion or any organisation that I felt was controlling or required conformity. This was because of the anger and pain I had at always feeling that I needed to conform to my parent’s values and desires.

A person with a strong sense of self never fears being controlled and knows that as long as others have a sense of self they cannot be controlled either. Instead of worrying about the alarming instances of ‘cults’, society would do better to focus on parenting and assisting children and young people to acquire and nourish a healthy sense of themselves.


I am not a ‘Member’

I am not a ‘member’ of a ‘cult’. I simply desire to grow in love to at-onement with God and my Soulmate and to love every other person, here or in the spirit world, equally and abundantly. I see that one of the deepest injuries that we carry as humans on the planet today, is the deep urge to ‘belong’, to ’fit in’. We categorise ourselves constantly. We want to create ‘belonging’. This wound is reflected everywhere around us, it is in our language, it drives our penchant to have a role or roles.

Our lives are full of ‘fitting in’ statements:

“I am a mother”, “I’m an Australian”, “I’m a member of…..”, “I’m a doctor, a nurse, an accountant”, “I’m a cricketer, a vegan, a Christian, a labour man….”

We ask questions “What do you do?” instead of “Who are you?”

And what we really mean is “Where do you fit?”

And even more urgently we feel “Where do I belong?”

How invested we become in our roles is a measure of how much we seek a sense of ‘belonging’ to avoid the desperate void within.

The compulsion to fit and categorise is only an avoidance of the deep sense that we carry from childhood – that we are unworthy, that we are alone, that we are different and that is bad.

I am reminded of the words of Gary Zukov and Linda Francis:

“So long as we reach outward in any way to soften the pain of feeling unworthy, or the terror of not belonging, we bring violence and destruction into our lives, individually and collectively.”
*Zukov & Francis (2001) The Heart of the Soul, pg. 25

When we create ‘belonging’ for one set of people, we create ‘conditions’ for loving, and in doing so we unavoidably create ‘not belonging’ for those who don’t match those criteria. Neediness to be a member or feel superior to others is driven by injuries rooted in our pasts. If we are to heal we must face our own sense of not belonging caused by the pain, abandonment and poor treatment in our childhoods. We must grow the sense of self that we lack.

When I see those people who desire to live this Path creating a preference for others ‘on the Path’, when I see them (or myself) living in fear of how others will view us, using words or attitudes that create an ‘us and them’ mentality, I begin to fear that a cult (not of our making) will form. This brings me pain. One of the largest issues with our attempts to teach Truth in the first century was that people could not go beyond the injury of competition, power and control (all products of unworthiness or greed). This created the “Christianity” that we have seen warring with and excommunicating people throughout history.


There are no chosen people – God loves us all, equally. I believe there is only one way to at-onement with my Heavenly Parent and that is through living this Path. This does not mean I feel a ‘member’ of an ‘elite’. Quite the contrary – I feel humbled to have learned the Truth of my existence, I feel inspired to share the wonder with others and I feel deeply that I exist amidst millions of brothers and sisters and I desire to love them equally and to share who I am with them, to be open and genuine with every person regardless of what they believe and what they feel about me.

The way to from a cult is to cultivate an emotion of ‘us and them’, to breed haughtiness or condescension towards ‘others’. This is not my desire, nor Yeshua’s. We seek God and we seek to love. I seek to feel the cause of every emotion of unworthiness, rejection or fear within me – not to placate these feelings by surrounding myself with ‘like-minded’ people. I do relish the company of ‘like-hearted’ people – but these like-hearts are those who seek to love God and others and such seeking does not lead to division or separation.

True belonging is a sense we find within ourselves. For myself it is a knowledge, from God, that I am loveable – no matter what. The absence of this sense, the absence of a sense of self, causes us to seek out ‘our people’, ‘our tribe’, or even just ‘my kind of person!’ This division leads us far away from the loving state of viewing everyone as a brother or a sister.

Our fear of ‘cults’ and the label ‘cult’ really translates to a fear of control and powerlessness. When we heal these wounds we will know that with authentic self respect and love we can never be controlled or have our true power taken from us.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Self Punishment and Joy


I was chatting to our friend Joy the other day. We were discussing blocks, the things that prevent us experiencing our emotions and connecting to God.

I mentioned self punishment, the state of berating ourselves for not ‘getting it’, not being ‘good enough’, putting ourselves down and projecting anger at ourselves.

Joy said casually ‘Oh yes, self punishment, I tried that for a day. It was terrible! No wonder people feel like giving up on this path if they self punish.’

I burst into laughter. Self punishment is HUGE for me. I felt so happy for Joy that she could try it on and realise how damaging it was so quickly. If only I had just tried it out for a day, thought ‘this is ridiculous’ and given it up!

But seriously, self punishment is a big block for me for a reason. I wasn’t born with it – I was taught it in my childhood. If I blamed myself for how I was and what I felt, then no-one minded. If I spoke up, just to say what I felt, if I felt something was unfair, if I felt I was unloved, then there was trouble. I was blamed. The resistance in my parents to feeling their own emotions was so big that I got seriously 'guilted' and made to feel wrong if I triggered them. So I learned that I must be bad.

Right now, in my day to day life, it takes courage to stop self punishing. Underneath my self loathing and bashing lie the feelings of how much it hurt to be blamed, how unloved and alone I felt and how much I feel like a horrible person, completely unworthy of being loved. These are the feelings I must release.

Dr Susan Forward says “until you honestly assess who owns the responsibility.. (for the pain in your childhood).., you will almost certainly go through life shouldering the blame yourself. As long as you are blaming yourself you’ll suffer shame and self-hatred, and you’ll find ways to punish yourself” *

Shame, self hatred and self punishment have surely been my middle names.

The challenge for all of us, when we are finally brave enough to acknowledge what occurred in our childhood’s, is to grieve this treatment and not to go into blame, hatred and punishment of those who failed to love us. This is just another block and only damages us further.

To heal we must face the truth of what happened in our childhoods and grieve the lack of love. Only through the grieving can God reach us and teach us.

The fallacy that our parents did a good job only keeps us suppressing our pain and primes us to inflict damage on our own children when they arrive.

In my childhood I was ridiculed, treated condescendingly and laughed at for being my expressive, passionate self. My desire to punish myself now is only perpetuating what I was taught. It takes courage to cease punishing myself, to honour my own experience, and to submit to the pain. I am convinced however that this is the pathway to happiness and where I will uncover my joy.

little me!



Wishing you courage on the journey to find your joy,

Mary

* Susan Forward ‘ Toxic Parents’, pg 214

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Let Love Lead the Revolution in Your Heart

We have been traveling a little lately and receiving emails. I know that many on the Divine Love Path are feeling a bit lost. AJ hasn’t given a talk for some months and the addiction to his energy and direction is beginning to be challenged in many.

I see some people floundering to know what the rules are for living this Path, seeking to understand it from their intellect. I see many repeating AJ’s words and applying them to situations in which they were not originally applied. People are wanting to ‘do as he does’ without firstly understanding emotionally what and how he does things. This can be a very dangerous practice. The Divine Love Path is not a code of conduct and we cannot grow in love by following a doctrine.

Love must lead the revolution in our hearts and lives; otherwise we have not truly changed. We can develop a list of rules, a code of conduct, formulas that state ‘in situation a, the loving response is b’ but this would merely take us down a path that many religious movements have strayed. It could create a guideline for living and ‘loving’ which requires nothing of our hearts. The Truth is that love dictates that we respond to each unique situation in a way that takes responsibility for our part in its creation, that is truthful, has compassion and desires the most loving and empowered outcome for everyone involved. There is no formula that can match every situation.

We must be humble in our quest to grow towards God and allow our sincere longings to teach us the qualities of what love would do in every moment.

It is true that many of us, me included, have faced the awful truth that we do not really know love. We were taught a mixture of fear, addiction, and expectation in our childhoods and left to deduct that this must be love, for those who taught us these things were supposed to love us. Some of us were told that we were loved and that this was love, others of us were never told we were loved but we clung to the concept in order for our tiny egos to survive.

This damage to how we understand love is now done. All that is left is to take responsibility for these injured beginnings, to grieve the lack of knowledge of love and begin to long to know and understand it again. But because this task feels so great, because we feel so at sea and really because we want to be loved and approved of (we doubt an unloving person could be loved) we want a quick remedy, a ‘fast track’ to ‘acting loving’.

This does not exist.

We can change our behaviour to be smiles and hugs but unless we change the darkened interior, the one that desperately seeks power, control and approval in order to avoid the opposing emotions that exist deep within, our words and actions will inevitably, sometimes subtly, revert to this desperate seeking. Cracks will appear. Our injured selves will seek reassurance even if it is now from behind a ‘nice-looking’ fa├žade. We will not have become more loving.


Our hearts must lead us. And for our hearts’ to lead we must be willing to firstly own what is really in our heart. We must face the anger, resentment, the sense of entitlement, the desire to be the best, the pride, the powerlessness, the terror, the grief and fear. Until we own our true soul damage, until we desire to heal, the revolution cannot even begin.

The utter beauty of this process is one that I missed for a long time. I have been full of the fear of others’ judgements if I owned up to what is really inside my heart. I wanted to be the person I believed was lovable – not angry, not different, not sensitive, not vulnerable – I suppressed all of these things because I believed the world would not love them. I still struggle with this process. But letting go slowly, allowing the real me to come forth is the doorway to the moments of sheer wonder. These occur when I let go of what the world will think, when I let myself feel unworthy or angry, when I own up, that my ‘altruistic’ motivation is really selfishness dressed up pretty, when I let myself get messy, or out of control, crazy, ridiculous, exposed. And this it the part when the beauty comes – when I am sitting in my stuff, in my pain, allowing it, and suddenly I feel the love of my Soulmate, or the love of God – right there.

In the moments when I feel most unlovable - I am loved.

This is the greatest healing I have ever known. It is why I feel God is so essential to any emotional processing and why I believe facing our emotions is so essential to knowing God.

I was taught I am only lovable when I met certain criteria.

God and AJ teach me I am lovable and loved, full stop.

This is the true healing. And as I heal I begin to learn what love is, and what love does.

We can write lists, describe love, talk about Truth, and the absence of fear, but, in the end all of this is just talk. The revolution in our hearts is the only thing that will bring Love to earth.




Once we have changed our hearts and let God teach us Love we won’t need formulas, we won’t need commandments or a rule book. God created a feedback system, the Law of Compensation, to tell us when we have been unloving. We only need to reach our hearts, to be brave enough to connect to our pain, in order to make ourselves sensitive to God’s system of Loving once again.

If the desire to love and to know God guides us on this Path, then we can never be lost. To do this however, we must be willing to be honest with ourselves at the deepest level. We must break through our fears of others’ judgement, through our judgement of ourselves, in order to know and own what we really carry; our feelings of pain, anger, resistance and fear. And from this place, if we turn our hearts to God, if we desire to know love, to give love, then the process is already begun; we have only to allow it.

Our hearts can lead us. If we are courageous we will experience our pain, we will face our fears of love and we will let God Love Us. We will begin to know how to love in every situation.

We live in a world accustomed to ‘20 day weight loss’, ‘2 day detox’, fast-tracked diplomas and no queue check-in. This process I describe does not match our custom. It is longer. It requires longing and changes to our hearts. It means facing fear and pain and really knowing the truth about who we are and where we have come from.

It also brings us the surety of God’s goodness. It delivers lasting joy and it is the only true way to know what love would do.

With much love to you all, my heart bursts with the potential for all of us.

Mary

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Lessons 2010/ Desires 2011

I love this time of year! 

Yesterday I was journaling and reflecting on 2010, what it was all about and where I am at now. As I said previously it was a super year! I found myself looking for the major things that sparked my growth in 2010 and what it was I wanted to nurture or manifest in myself in 2011. 

Here is what I came up with:

My Most Important Steps or Lessons in 2010

Humility – this past year I became more willing to see myself as I truly was, in all my error and addiction! This became the most powerful starting point, a springboard, for my growth. I really learnt that you can’t make changes until you are willing to truly see where you are at! You need to know where you are on the map before you can set your bearings for the destination. 

Passions – I took loads of steps in the direction of my passions. It was a stretch. It was challenging. I felt unworthy and incapable most of the time but, wow, I learnt a lot!!

Letting Go – Some of the toughest moments in 2010 were coming face to face with my addictions and realising if I wanted to grow I would have to let go! It meant owning all of the techniques I used to get what I wanted through control and manipulation. It meant recognising all of the ways I used to stay away from my fears and grief and deciding not to run, not to get angry and not to blame. Life is a lot less tumultuous (and a lot more honest) as a result. 

I challenged many old belief systems. I thought about where I had come from and what my friends and family believed and asked myself ‘If I let go of needing the approval of these other people, what is it that I believe?

I let go of lots of relationships and my expectation that others support me or even approve of my journey. It was sad but also liberating. I now feel much more love for who I am and for those people that I let go.

The Qualities I Desire to Nurture Within Myself in 2011 

Vulnerability – to open my heart and share the authentic me, to allow my expressive, sensitive, goofy self to be present all of the time!

Integrity – the courage to stand for love & truth despite my fears, to make the loving choice even if it means triggering my fears and past pains.

Surrender – to be in a constant state of allowance of all of my emotional experience, be it fear, grief, joy or excitement! I want to face my fear of my memories and allow my wisdom and their pain to overwhelm me.

Creativity – to reconnect with the creative, expressive side of myself – no matter how it looks! I desire to make things, to beautify things, to garden, draw and write more often!

Continued Humility 

Opening My Heart to God and Love and My Soulmate

When I finished my journal entry I decided to channel a message for the New Year and my guides wanted to add another quality for me to focus on. 

Here is part of what they had to say:

“Dearest Miriam, you are reflecting just now on the qualities you wish to nurture within yourself in the coming year which is a beautiful activity and one we see you take great pleasure in. Revisit such activities regularly for they benefit you in many ways – they open your soul to change, they activate your desire (which is very powerful) and they encourage deeper connection with your own self and your humility.

We wish to share with you another quality which we believe to be very powerful for you to nurture in the coming year. It is the quality of faith. Faith is a new friend of yours and you already begin to feel the beauty and the power of it as a substance within your soul. In the coming year it will be important for you to have faith that while you exercise your courage, while you act in harmony with what you know to be Truth and feel to be Love, that God will provide to you everything that you require to grow, expand and develop.

There will be many times when you will need to dig deep for courage, to pray often for understanding of what is unfolding. Know that if you stay true to these qualities that you so desire to nurture that God will provide for you and that your evolution will result...”

Rainbow Over Kingaroy

My greatest passions for the year ahead are God and my soulmate! I strive to complete my connection with these two most beautiful beings in my life! There is so much to be thankful for, so much to be excited about!

Wishing you all a year of growth and expansion.

Have you considered what your biggest lessons in 2010 were? What are your desires for 2011?

Much love,
Mary