Learning to Love our Collective Shadow

I used to live in an extremely cozy home on the moral high ground. Yes, I was a good person but oh how I absolutely loved that about myself. It took a harsh fall from grace for me to realize just how cruel I was actually being.

You see, I professed non-judgment, I always made sure to do the right thing even when it was hard and I cut people out of my life if they even hinted at not living up to my hefty standards of morality, using the disguise of self-love as my reason why.

For a very long time, every challenge that came my way was met with value-filled veracity. Nothing was going to get in the way of me living up to my high standards of values and morality, until one day, as most things eventually do, it all came crashing down.

It’s a funny thing how a deeply toxic relationship can turn a person into someone they don’t recognize anymore. My switch from angel to devil left me isolated by the city of high moral individuals I had purposefully built around me. How could I even hold it against them for leaving me? The old me would have done the exact same thing.

The thing is, it was not the fact that I felt so isolated that hurt me the most but rather the shameful and judging manner with which this at least felt-abandonment was executed.

I realized within that time that I had not in fact, been the good person that I had always idealized in my head. That being kind, good and righteous had become part of my incredibly proud ego and although it was denied, I was judging those who were not the same. Little did I know that this judgment was just a suppression of the shadow side of me: the side of me that could not always do the right thing, the side of me that was weak and not strong and that felt so deeply unloved that it felt the need to attract what felt at the time like a total devastation of my life.

I am still working on loving this side of me whilst not letting it take the steering wheel but, what brought me to my knees even more was when I realized, half way in to my first Ayahuasca ceremony, that we as a society have dismissed our collective shadow. I realized that my darkness and the darkness of the world were one in the same. That I was the pedophile, the murderer and the rapist.

This, I think, has been one of the hardest pills I had to swallow and to be honest, I do not know how to go to a victim of any of these horrendous crimes and present this idea. What I do know is that I have been called to love the darkest parts of humanity. The parts we look at with faces curled in disgust and venom sitting like bile in the back of our throats.

Because what I see these days is not good people looking down on bad people but a collective consciousness looking at itself with disgust.

Now I am not claiming that these people should not be locked up for the safety of the collective but the manner in which we do this I feel needs to change. I have never seen shame create a change. I know that in my darkest moments, shame was the animal that pushed me down further as if to say, you are intrinsically the devil himself and if we truly want to move forward as a collective, we need to put aside what morality we have created in our heads and do what is actually going to change the planet – Loving accountability.

 

 

 

Contributor and FounderDayna Joan Remus

     Previous long-time fence sitter, Dayna now refers to herself as a “wary anarchist” and “part-time vegan” – whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. When she isn’t working her full-time job as a publisher and obsessing over it’Sunny you will probably find her pacing around and reading or singing Disney songs in – and out – the shower.

 

How to truly change the world.

I used to be deep into politics- from being a liberal to a conspiracy enthusiast to a sort of anarchist to a republican to back to being a liberal to an, ‘I -don’t- even- know- anymore-ist’. The best part of being so passionate about politics was that I knew for certain I could probably annihilate someone in a debate. I was always prowling online for the ignorant fools so that I could obliterate them with my intellectual excellence. How dare they challenge me? Those mindless robots will be slaves to their political and economic overlords as long as they refuse to open their minds and think! Okay so it wasn’t that dramatic, but you get the picture.

I didn’t realize then, that my drive to be right, to feel powerful was taking over my pure-intentioned drive to change the world for the better, and many of us do this. Why? Because ego: because we are so scared of being wrong or being shamed in a debate, because in real life we feel so powerless to make any real changes that we think if we can intellectually smash and shame one another, at least we have some power there, right?

The truth is that righteous feeling you get when you beat down an online friends argument or quote word for word from Karl Marx’s’ ‘Communist Manifesto’, is not going to make the world a better place. It’s just going to fuel your ego. As if because you won an argument on facebook you now live in the moral high ground and should join the many martyrs of history. That’s right, take a seat right next to [insert some overly romanticized revolutionary figure]. You deserve it.

What’s sad about this is that ego is the enemy of progress, change and just making the world a better place in general because it turns our good intentions into a competition for the moral high ground. You believe abortion is okay? Murderer! You’re a republican? Racist!

What we need to remember is that most of us just want the same thing- for the world to be a better place. As cliche as that sounds, it’s true.

World Peace GIF - World Peace GIFs

..and the fact of the matter is shaming anyone (no matter how right you are) is not going to help.

What really needs to happen is a transcendence of the collective ego-because until this happens we can fart purple rainbows, try a political system called ‘democroanarchocommuno’ and create as many NGO’s and charity organizations as we want- but nothing will truly change. The ego is what drives us to be selfish, hurt others and to just generally be a terrible person. Right now we are just creating systems that we think will slow down the bleeding whilst not actually getting to the core reason of why we keep scratching ourselves open in the first place.

So how do we go about doing this? It starts with you as the individual. Read some books on this topic (eg: Eckhart Tolles ‘Power of Now’; Adyashantis’ ‘Way of Liberation’), meditate, overcome the constant urge to be right and the greatest moral human to walk on planet earth. Tap into that infinite source of love and wisdom which can lead us naturally and collectively to a place of love and harmony.

This may sound a bit too flowers-in-your-hair and idealistic for many and that’s okay. I’m not trying to convince you of anything. In fact, I am not really talking to you at all. What I am trying to do is strike a remembrance in you of who you really are.

Now before everyone gets up in hands about how ignorant I am being-I am not implying that we should not be thinking about or discussing these issues or that we shouldn’t be taking part in activities which create a positive impact. No, what I am saying is if we can do this whilst simultaneously tapping into this universal wisdom, our impact across the world will probably be more positive and we could probably find ways to work with others who we don’t see eye to eye with more easily.

 The transformation of human consciousness…is no longer a luxury. It’s  a necessity for the survival of humanity. Most of the problems we are facing as a species are actually generated by our own minds. -Eckhart Tolle

Further than this, terrible atrocities could not occur in a world where we literally see each other as one in the same collective organism because, beyond ego, that’s what we all are: one big fat ball of love having a bit of a game that we all take way too seriously.

So how do you change the world? You don’t change yourself. You just remember who you are and follow that stream of unconditional love. As Rumi said, ‘..it will not lead you astray’.

The divinity of the ordinary

Since my second Ayahuasca ceremony, it’s as if a light switch has gone off inside of me. Through months of integration, I was surprised to find that a big part of this emanating light was teaching me how to love or to remember my love for the ordinary.

For practically my whole life I have been running after experiences: skinny dipping, getting tipsy at wine farms with friends, eating at strange restaurants, traveling around the country, going to festivals and just about anything you could probably find on some sort of cliche bucket list.

When I reached my early twenties I decided that now is the time to travel the world but, no matter how hard I tried, it seemed that something was always getting in the way. Through my introduction to the ordinary, I realized that this ‘something’, although seemingly on the outside, was my attachment to the idea of travel. Through my constant seeking out of crazy experience after crazy experience I began to conjure up some sort of belief that if I wasn’t consistently filling my life up with experiences that would make your grandma blush, I would always regret it and feel unfulfilled.

What I didn’t realize was that by trying to turn my life into a real-life reenactment of a Getaway magazine I was missing out on the cool breeze when it touched my face or the feeling of wet grass on my feet. I was forgetting about the satisfying soreness in my stomach that I get when I laugh so hard I can hardly breathe or the way my warm bed feels around me as I drift into sleep. I was forgetting the divinity of the ordinary.

This doesn’t mean that I have given up on my dream to travel the world. Desire itself can be a portal into the divine. It’s the attachment to desire that not only blocks its heavenly  nature, but that prevents the true enjoyment that we originally found in it, from coming through.

Nothing, and I really mean nothing, will ever make us one hundred percent happy- at least not in the long term. Happiness itself is a very addictive drug that has us tiring ourselves out constantly in pursuit of whatsoever we think will give it to us-houses, cars, relationships, travel, enlightenment, little puppies that you can cuddle (okay so maybe puppies can give you eternal happiness. I was wrong.)

“Joy comes in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.”-Brene Brown

My point is as long as you are always running after some novel idea of what you think your life should look like, you’re going to be missing out on the fact that ‘Spirit’, ‘God’ or whatsoever word you want to use, is right here, right now. If you don’t recognize the divinity within the ordinary, you’ll never truly reach the extraordinary.

 

What it’s really like to be ‘spiritual’.

  1. Trying to become vegan. Having someone offer you bacon. Cursing the universe internally.

Image result for fuck you universe memes

2. Having someone teach you how to feel energy with their hands. Internally thinking that they’re full of shit. Going to a friend and teaching them how to feel energy with their hands.

3. Drinking Ayahuasca. Puking your guts and soul out. Promising yourself you will never drink Ayahuasca again. Repeat.

Image result for ayahuasca memes

4. Having Nickelback songs pop into your head in the middle of meditation.

5. Having people poke you in the forehead and say, ‘Lol. I poked you in your third eye.’

Image result for Third eye memes

6. Wanting to poke those people in their real eyes.

7. Having the most enlightening experience that you can ever imagine where you realize that everything is just an illusion and you are one with the universe.

8…but then realizing that you still actually have to go to work on Monday.

9. Trying to see auras.

10. Failing at seeing auras.

11. And finally… Screaming at your crystals.

 

 

 

No Bitterness in the Buddhist temple

I never thought I would be so enamoured by how a building looks. I am a huge fan of new experiences but didn’t really ever see myself as someone who would enjoy the beauty of architecture. Maybe I’m just getting older or perhaps just getting used to being disappointed by the reality of idealized structures. Either way, the Nua Hua Temple, found in Bronkorspruit, just a few kilometers away from the snoozing city of Pretoria, left me awestruck, not only in terms of its beautiful shapes and colours, but the energy that surrounded the area; filling me up as if God himself lived there.

Inside the temple, the three huge and meditative buddhas looked down at me whilst an array of candles and incense adorned them in front and the smell, of what I think was sandalwood, incense filled the air. Although hard to admit, I recognized the familiar feeling of the temple. It was the way I used to feel when attending Church as a young girl. This warm and glowing sensation had slowly been stomped out by the illogical and dogmatic rules, which has given me an uneasy feeling towards religion in general.

Now I’m not sure how, but being in that temple gave me that nostalgic feeling without the extra uncomfortable nudge I always felt in my stomach whilst attending church. This could either be the fact that I did or do not know enough about Buddhism or due to the very well known ‘Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion’ which can instantly give you a relief from the dogma found in most churches. Either way, I felt a peace that usually only occurs after a good hour of meditation and that my friends, is a feat I don’t usually succeed at.

Whilst in this temple I noticed a row of people, patiently waiting one by one to speak to a monk. This sparked my interest although my partner was not too crazy about it and I understood why.

In spirituality, there’s a very fine line between personal seeking and allowing others to tell you the way. If you’re not careful you stop seeking and you start following. My partner, who very stubbornly refuses to be told anything about himself, did not hold any desire to go speak with a stranger about his ‘own’ path, assuming it was some kind of fortune telling-whilst I was a tiny bit more intrigued. Eventually, I managed to convince my very reluctant man to sit down with me whilst we waited about an hour to eventually be handed a beautiful piece of wisdom.

After having a very interesting conversation with a girl in the queue who, against my better judgment, taught me how to feel energy by rubbing my hands together, I reached the front of the line with a fortune in hand that had come around to all of us in bowls, fingers in and searching for some lost sign. Mine read the following:

We must recognize that a good deed that is harmless is far better than one that harms a few. The wise know that a bad deed that helps somebody is far worse than one that helps nobody

My overly-philosophical mind began trying to logically dismember and put together this beautiful piece, opposite to the Buddhist tradition of simple and aware contemplation. The most obvious interpretation I could make out of it was that the consequences of our actions whether good or bad are important. The monk whom I spoke to though held a wildly different explanation which till this day I can’t decide if he simply did not understand the quote himself or whether my contemplation skills were so lacking that I missed it entirely.

He saw that this quote meant that I am a very kind person who does not receive this kindness back, but that I must not give up being this way. In the future, I will be rewarded for my kindness and all those who did me wrong will realize this and come beg for forgiveness. My ego loved that one and even if this monk was just spinning some strange story on me, I went away that day with a new lesson that I think many need to learn which is; don’t let this world make you bitter.

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”-Kurt Vonnegut

A lot of us are struggling right now, whether it is in terms of our personal environment or political one, which, let’s be honest, isn’t the greatest. Yet, we can take in the realities of a harsh world and not let it make us resentful.  The only ones this bitterness is hurting is ourselves.

Bitterness does not make you wiser as though because you are unhappy,  you are intelligent enough to understand the darkness of the world. All it does is rob you of your joy.  We need this joy to help build a better world because it helps us recognize the sparks of hope that still reside in all corners of the earth. Without this recognition, we can not see through the darkness around us and so any sort of dream for a better future is lost.

Letting go of bitterness is a huge middle finger to all those that tried to bring us down so let’s all widen our smiles, raise those digits and reclaim our power.

 

 

 

D.I.Y ways to conveniently run away from yourself by sabotaging your meditation practice.

As a long-time meditation saboteur and laziness aficionado I feel that I am qualified, perhaps even over-qualified to speak on this subject. Therefore,  I would just like to pre-warn all the zen masters and meditation gurus that this article may contain tardiness too high brow for your still and empty minds to comprehend mkay? Now that it’s settled, let’s get our monkey minds to work…

But, like, I’m soo busy. ‘                                                                                  

I get it. You can’t even. Can’t even still your mind! Ha. Well, of course this is the case. You’re using the oldest excuse in the book.  If you’re not going to meditate, please come up with a better excuse than this tripe. We’re all busy and the greatest thing about meditation is that the more time you spend doing it, the less hurried and yet more productive you become. Don’t ask me how. It’s like a fucking magic trick!

Damburger!’

No. Just because from time to time I adorn flowery attire and I casually blurt out the phrase, “It’s all love maaaan” does not mean I am a vegan. This is partially because I have very little self-discipline, love hamburgers and just straight up hate animals.

What this addiction to meat has taught me is that if during meditation you want distracting stomach pains or to replace the smell of sandalwood incense with that of slightly off pickles, you should probably have yourself a few tasty treats beforehand. This can be in the form of hamburgers, pizza, pasta or generally anything that gets your insides going. Damburger!

Check that timer. Again and again.

What if your phone breaks whilst in the middle of a meditative state? What if you forgot to press start on your timer? What if one day, whilst meditating, a tiny community of elven folk and general faerie types steal your phone and proceed to share ‘that’ photo album to all relevant social networks? These are all valid and extremely important questions.

‘I’m just like so O.C.D! LOL!

Firstly, no you’re not. O.C.D is a real thing. Secondly, why did it take you up until now to realize that your unmade bed, clutter-filled floors, and half-eaten junk food drawers do not contribute to a conducive environment for meditation or any sort of productive activity?   I’ll tell you why. You’re just a shitty little piglet.

 

Agriculture, Animal, Baby, Cute, Domestic, Farm
This is you.

 

Honestly, it doesn’t really matter if this article has or has not somehow off-handedly encouraged you to face yourself through meditation or to look within at all. Nope. By all means, run run as fast as you can! Hide behind drugs, food and forced laughter but, meditation or not, you’re going to be running smack bang into your grinning face around every corner. This existence is a hall of mirrors, although if you can open your heart even just a little bit and learn to love that shitty little piglet inside, you’ll realize your arms were always wide open, waiting for you to come home at last.

Ready. Set. Go! : First past the post gains enlightenment!!!

So I have been noticing a certain trend among some in the ‘long-time’ spiritual community lately, where anyone who is vaguely interested in the idea of spirituality or wears some sort of flowery head gear is deemed a sort of, and what I would have called through my Sex-Pistol-obsessed pubescence,  ‘poser’.

images (5)

Although we don’t really use that word. Hipster?  I still don’t understand what that is.

images

Now I am not claiming innocence in this regard. Believe me, the idea that there  might be some girl out there wearing hippie pants, stomping around, blowing bubbles and thinking she’s the new,’ non-mainstream’ Buddha grates my tits just as much as the next ten- years-been-a’-meditatin’ monk. Yes, I am a monk compared to all of you scathing creatures! Not really, and this is exactly what I am talking about.

“Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, contentment or even common sense”-C. Lewis

As one typically does, I shared a picture a few months ago on Facebook, specifically the following….

nam…..and you know what?  It made me feel really damn good about myself. How dare they? I have been meditating for years! I have faced demons that they could not dream of! How dare they? Running around with their thousand rand hippie pants! I like hippie pants too! But would I buy them? NO! I would rather pay for yoga classes! They call themselves spiritual. I’m spiritual! Unconscious idiots! IDIOTUSES! FAKERY! MOCKERY!… Hi, ego! Nice to meet you… once again!  Can’t get this thing off our back now, can we?  AHHHHHHH JEHOVAS!  Maybe, though, it would help if we stopped judging everyone around us or at least be conscious that this is coming from the ego. Also, good on you kid. I’m too much of a shitting goose to try that acid stuff. *Shivers slightly in boots*

images (1)

Now I am not entirely sure what to think of what is deemed by some as cultural appropriation where loony festival-goers have been skipping in circles with  Indian headdresses, or whatever other aesthetically pleasing ethnic attire, as the latest ironically-vested statement. This is perhaps a sensitive and hard topic.

images (2)

Although, and this is simply my opinion, if the ‘originally enlightened’, for lack of a better classification,  really were ones for awakening, I don’t think they would necessarily care if we changed the word ‘zen’ to ‘zock’ and started to painting  yin-yang signs on our asses at peace fests with alcoholic beverages that can get you in ‘the zone’. (I should never host anything. I know.)  I don’t think so because enlightenment isn’t really anyone’s to claim.

Maybe the truth is, and I know this is spot-on for me, that we feel like our ‘uniqueness’ is fading. Spirituality used to be a bit more of a rare breed, and we took insane pride in this. It was the thing that only the ‘deep’ or ‘weird’ kids’ who listened to Tool did and be honest,  even if you claimed to not fit in any non-conformist box you kind of liked being there, all snuggled up against your cozy ‘spirituality’.  Now, everyone is stepping onto your territory and you’re no longer different. You’re just like everyone else. A clone!!  A sheep!!

haa

The awakening, if you’re into that sorta business,  is speeding up and taking no prisoners. This is just one way in which it has manifested. Rather than judge and ridicule, let’s show them the unconditional love that we so often talk about. Welcome home my friends and please, put down the Lennon glasses. I  might just kill you.