Friday, January 1, 2010

Empaths & Enlightenment: The Levels Of Human Development

Life is a journey from one place to another. Its a long road, full of both joy and pain. But where we start out often isn't where we end up, despite our hopes, dreams and expectations for the future.

I could tell you another person's story to bring this point home, but I think I'd rather use my own story instead. Because this is the one I know best.

My Journey

I used to wonder, as a child, why the world, the universe, and even God, would make my life so harrowing. I would rail against all of them, berating them for my suffering. And all the while, I would dream of bigger and better things for myself: a prince on a white steed rescuing me from the pain, a position that I could lose myself in, a family where I was needed and loved without reservation, and friends who understood me the way I always tried to understand them.

But that was an ideal I put no effort in working toward. I simply expected all of this to fall into my lap. Why? Because I thought I deserved it for how I had suffered in my life, one misery after another. So began a cycle of self defeating behavior for me, based on what I assumed the world owed me for my suffering.

After a while, the pain of the reality of my life, when compared to the shining dream I had, was so painful that I began to emotionally splinter and shatter. Depression and self loathing became my constant companion. And I gave up on that shining dream, believing I deserved nothing more than that which was my apparent fate. I accepted the way I was treated by others as my due and began to believe what was said about me. "You are a burden." "You are a whore." "What kind of life did I live in my past life to deserve the punishment of being with someone like you?"

All of them were like physical slaps which no one but me could see and feel. And they lingered.....oh how they lingered...slowly eating away at my already eroded psyche. It was like living with a gaping hole in my heart, and being invisible so that no one could see the shame that was my entire existence. And it consumed me, body and soul.

And then a moment came, where I stopped fighting and willingly gave up. But not before begging the universe, deity, or higher power (by whatever name you wish to call it), to save me. Because even as I gave up, I knew I didn't want to die. I felt like there was more in store for me than just this, if I could escape that fate. But I also knew, with the surety of my own wounded heart, that this was what fate held in store for me if I didn't receive help, because I couldn't do it alone anymore. I couldn't stand up anymore on my own.

And then, I got my miracle. I met a woman who spoke to me of things that I hadn't heard in many years, with a gentle voice and empathetic understanding. And then as I lay in bed that night, where all lay still and in silence, a gentle feeling overtook me, like I wasn't alone anymore in that moment. It was overwhelmingly beautiful. And there in the dark, I wept for a long time out of grief and out of joy. And in that same night, a part of me also died. But it wasn't a painful death. It was like a lifetime of weight had been lifted off my shoulders. And I knew true peace for the first time....ever in my life.

My life ended in that moment. My life began in that moment, as well.

After that one moment in time, which I keep close to my heart, I began many long years of focusing on my own development, spiritual and otherwise. But I was also impatient, because I felt there were so many things I could do with what I was learning. But back then, something always held me back....pressing me to be patient and telling me to wait. So I did, and instead focused on my journey and my development alone.

And then someone woke me from my hibernation. And I discovered within that catalyst, that it was time to find my voice and learn to speak. But not about the right way to do things, like there is a set course one must follow, because there isn't. More to the point, just to share a simple message with people....that they aren't alone on their journey. Because this is the one thing I was given, when I needed it the most.

The Human Journey

The human spirit, through one lifetime or a series of them (depending on your view of reincarnation), goes through a series of developmental levels. The human heart and mind crave these things, calling them forth to move forward.

Some answer that call and some do not, postponing it for a later time. And some answer that call, and get stuck in one level instead of pushing ever forward on their respective journeys. But eventually, despite the time it takes to reach the mountain top, everyone arrives there without exception.

So to elaborate on the purpose here let me explain a bit further. I met someone recently who sent me on a search of understanding about the different types of people, or shall I say searching for the words to describe what I felt like I had already discovered. But I was not searching for psychological personality types. Instead I was searching for something a bit more spiritual in nature. And I ran across a list of the different types of people, from a Buddhist perspective. And I thought I'd offer it here, not as a judgment to others, but to say we are all on a journey together, despite where we might be upon our individual paths.

Each level will lead you into the next eventually if you open yourself up to your own development, and do not become hindered by the small things in life. One level does not set one above others, because eventually we all arrive at the same place, after traveling the same road.

To me, this is a beautiful concept because it does not set one above another, despite where we stand, what we believe in, how much money we make, what our position in the world is, or how we interact with others. It encompasses everyone, and speaks to everyone's journey, both individually and as a whole. And it is quite.....breath-taking to observe, because it is, at its foundation, the the essence of the human life span and the journey that life takes to find its place in this world and understand the way the world works.

In this list, you might be inclined to jump straight to the end and assure yourself you stand there, while looking at the rest with scorn or derision. But each one is just as valuable as the next. Each one serves to teach us upon our journey. And it is not the end result, or the final step in the list, that is of the most prominent importance. It is the acknowledgment of where you stand that speaks to your own growth and development, despite how much further you have to go. It is a validation of you and your journey. And in that, you will find the biggest key of importance. Because where you stand right now, not where you imagine yourself to be, and the road you have traveled thus far is the truest acknowledgment of self.

9 Types Of People

Being #1 is very body identified. They go to great lengths to pursue pleasure and avoid pain. Agony and Orgasm are the moments of pause and reevaluation at the outer limit of each swing of the pendulum. Even the thought of suicide is anathema unless the body is in un-compromised pain on an unending timeline. This person is not just an athlete or a farmer, it is anyone who is sure that who they are is directly related to the needs of the body.

Being #2 is very energy identified. They protect hopes and banish fears insofar as possible. Their pendulum takes them from bliss to despair; as they arrive at the extreme of each swing, they pause and reflect before the return journey back through the full spectrum of human emotions. As long as they are happy or suffering they know they are alive.

Being #3 is very mind identified. Cogito, ergo sum. I think therefore I am. Life is an unending compilation, conceptualization, and analyses. What does each letter mean? Each word? Each sentence? Each page? Each book? Each pile of concepts? The intellectual never runs out of material to apply his fluctuating mind to. Organizing in agreement or disagreement the ideas that have gone before is fodder enough to run the Thinker’s clock until his/her final breath.

“ All humans on this earth demonstrably have these three aspects: body, energy, and mind. They are the three essential table legs upon which our tabletop rests. Our tabletop holds our three aspects together, and additionally is the launching pad for our journey into our higher self. Are you having any difficulty following me so far?”

“ Not at all.” I replied tersely.

“ Good,” Keeto continued, “Because as obvious as what I just said might be, it is essential to observe it and know it to be true before we continue. My wish is to be certain that you have grasped these insights both intuitively and intellectually. If you have questions about anything relating to this, now is an excellent time to ask them. Further, I wish to reinforce another aspect of your educational process; do not be afraid to compose questions or ask for clarification. This whole process is about actually increasing your understanding. What it is not about is having you simply repeat information that you learn as though you were in an American high school. Repeating the answers of others is a sign of limited abilities, or an inadequate system. It is a kind of training, it most certainly is not education!”

“ Hrrrgh.” Aaraak cleared his throat in an artificial way and I understood that he was reminding Keeto to return to the subject at hand.

“ Everything that you said about the three common or basic types of human beings certainly seems correct to me, but it is not something I had thought about before.” I spoke up, “Therefore I can only say that I intuitively concur but will have to take these insights back with me to the ‘normal’ world and observe in order to add depth to my understanding…”

“ Relax!” Aaraak broke in. “The two of you are taking me back to my high school days…the days of careful statements, wrinkled clothes, and raging hormones! Remember the zits!” he chuckled and his insightful lightheartedness dissolved a seriousness that I was caught up in.

Keeto turned toward Aaraak and paused for a moment before turning back to me and continuing. My intuitive understanding was that Keeto, the academic, had received a gentle reprimand from Aaraak, the master. My understanding of that reprimand was that 1) Keeto needed to refrain from pounding the pulpit of his private causes, and 2) the Dennis was Aaraak’s student to be guided and instructed as Aaraak saw fit.

Being #4 is the tabletop,” Keeto continued, “ #4 is a mature being who understands intuitively or consciously the qualities of Beings 1,2,3 and is capable of acting as an individual rather than being pushed about by a whimsical or karmic universe. People who accomplish much ‘in the world’, who are forceful and successful are often #4s. Many scientists, artists, philosophers, and teachers in the material world are found at this level. This is the ceiling for most humans, it is as far upward as they imagine the spectrum of life experience to extend; the visible hierarchy of western civilization stops here. Actually it is just the floor for the flowering of the higher self, the reference point from which the journey to ‘all that one can be’ begins.”

“ Leaving here happens in a great leap and can only be poorly described with these words. There is nothing mundane about the leap and so all descriptions are certain to fall short. It can be as violent as a Near Death Experience or as gentle as a cosmic expansion that takes off from meditation or some other spiritual practice or simply looking at a perfect sunset or an incredible flower, but by its very nature it is unexpected. Totally unexpected. Completely and totally unexpected.”

Being #5 has taken the bridge across troubled waters,” he continued, “has traveled from the left brain (which has organized and perceived the ‘normal’ world quite rationally), across the corpus callosum, to the mysterious world of the right brain (dreams, visions, memories of ancient wisdom) and enriched the host in ways that defy description. #5 has had one or more full blown mystical experiences and successfully integrated them into who [s]he is. The essential mystical experience that all higher beings share is that of having a profound death experience in a fully awakened state. In the brilliant unlimited light of awareness the House of Personality falls away and the newborn one discovers that instead of being less, as feared, that [s]he is alive and free and full of light! Full of truth, love, and peace!”

“ Wow!” I shot in, high on Keeto’s description and the accuracy of it in relationship to my own experience which had taken place five years earlier. “I certainly have some questions about this experience, about my experience really, and how to integrate it…”

“ That is for us to work on,” Aaraak interrupted, “I am glad that you are excited about it, but for now let Keeto carry on.”

Again Keeto turned his hood and face toward Aaraak and then back toward me. This time I sensed that another unspoken exchange had occurred but I had no clue as to the substance of it. Keeto continued, “Other mystical experiences may happen (every single one is exhilarating and revitalizing) but they are more limited in scope. At this point the Transformed One usually succumbs to the Messianic Impulse and rushes out to set him/herself up as the latest greatest guru, often with a tag like ‘avatar’. The good news is that their intentions are usually good, the bad news is that they usually have a lot more ‘work’ on themselves that needs to be done. In most cases the world would be better served if they waited awhile before unveiling their newfound capacities. In the scriptures it is recommended that one refuse many times when being asked to teach, as many times as possible, but minimally, one must say no three times. One is only allowed to say yes when no is no longer an option. Unfortunately we live in times where the attention span of most can only be measured in seconds.” And here I perceived Keeto to catch himself, to refrain from a parenthetic lecture on unworthy students.

“ These cautions, having been noted, do not mean that the student cannot learn from this largest and most accessible group of spiritual teachers. Often they have useful guidance for the students, it is only themselves that rate to be damaged. This group of teachers usually loves song, music, talking, rhythms, and rhymes. The danger for this group is in discovering their own power, both directly (with siddhis, which Westerners would equate to magical or miraculous powers) and indirectly (with money, gifts, and influence flowing in), which reinforces their ‘specialness’ and seems like a fair exchange for spiritual guidance. But once you accept money and/or favors for the teachings you have set foot on a slippery slope.”

“ You will notice more than a coincidental parallel in this typology,” Aaraak broke in, “to the chakra map. As the Being grows, the chakras open. Or, as the chakras open, the Being develops. I am not referencing a ‘chicken or the egg?’ question here as both happen at the same time. A proper referencing relates to the individual’s practice, karma, and exposure to meaningful teachings.”

Being #6 has become stable in all the advances that #5 was given without developing a spiritual ego,” Keeto continued, “without abusing his/her status as a master of this world. A being that, while understanding the magical nature of the universe, does not manipulate it for personal gain. A being that has many siddhis but seldom chooses to use them. A being that has become one with awareness, that is no longer restricted by time and space. You can go to this master and say. ‘My big purple dog ate my polka-dot icebox and now I don’t know how I am ever going to get another cold beer!’ and the response is likely to be ‘That’s great! Stay with your awareness!’ [as this, or any, drama unfolds]. In the scriptures, this being is described as ‘person that becomes god’. The implication is that this is the absolute peak of human endeavor. It is not. One does not have to be of divine birthright to become divine. Do not allow anyone to place artificial restrictions on you. Arriving here is important, and quite wonderful, but it is just a point on the Great Journey, it is not the endpoint. Each and every level of achievement finds seekers and aspirants who decide to stay there, to stake out their ‘territory’, to rest on their laurels, to be happy and satisfied with their accomplishments. Do not fall into this trap. Press on until all that you are is gone!”

Being #7 is described as “God that becomes person”. Obviously we should all pay attention when an avatar shows up, but just how are we supposed to recognize such a great being? The Divine Irony here is that we are much more likely to line up to access and listen to a #5, after all we can relate to this being, they grew like a great wonderful flower out of the muck we live in. It is amazing to see a great teacher give a free talk to twenty people and then soon thereafter, in the same city, his student, a nice lake beside a mighty ocean, be greeted by 500 students, all clamoring to pay. This is where the left-brain is transcended, where the thoughts are all liberated, where distinctions are dissolved. All that was, all that is, all that will be disappears into an ocean of compassion. This is the solar half of enlightenment, the completion of masculinity in the cosmos, the complete realization of LOVE. Equates to Nirmanakaya in the Buddhist tradition.”

Being #8 is the energetic completion of the human cycle. The full and complete experience of Kundalini takes us to this level. This is where the right brain is transcended, where visions and memories are liberated, where the magical universe dissolves. This is the lunar half of enlightenment, the completion of the feminine energies of the cosmos, the complete realization of PEACE. In the past the qualities of #8 and #9 were lumped together with/as #7, as our upward perception was not refined enough to make these subtle distinctions. This has been elaborated on in a talk about chakras as transcendental chains. #8 equates to Sambhogakaya in the Buddhist tradition.”

Being #9 is the formless formless. All space that includes all space, with or without distinctions. The Oneness beyond the many, the Oneness beyond the one. You will hear the description ‘the center is everywhere, the periphery nowhere’ which is a direct reference to omniscience. This is the actual completion of the human form, the final dissolving of all traces of individuality. We have traveled through the realms of all embodied existence, we have traversed the ‘god loop’, we have returned to our home from which we never left. Here one is all verb and no noun. Here one is the completed realization of TRUTH. Here one dissolves all traces of the five elements rubbing across the three gunas. One, in fact, dissolves into pure light. Equates to Dharmakaya in the Buddhist tradition.”
On one level this list may be hard to digest. You might be left with more questions than answers. But that's alright. It is the the beginning of a journey in itself, of self discovery and self acknowledgment. And none of this, though it is written from a more Buddhist perspective, is necessarily religious in nature. It is simply the course of a human spirit's development.

So think about it. Ponder it. Contemplate it. And find where you belong, to recognize where you've already been along the path of life and where you are headed. Because this, right now in this moment, is where your journey begins, if you let it. It is what your heart cries out for and your mind longs for. It is what calls your spirit to recognize.

Empaths & Enlightenment

Empaths, in particular, are interesting creatures who are sensitive feelers in everything they tend to do. They are highly emotional and prone to shy away from heavy stimuli, like dense emotions (anger, passion, sorrow) and acts of violence.

Added to this, is the ability to quite literally see and feel what another person is going through, from their own perspective. Which in turn gives them a deeper understanding of how humans work.

But being an Empath doesn't mean you are enlightened or even spiritually awakened. It doesn't mean you get to be taken out of that list of levels of human development or skip certain numbers.

What it does mean, though, is that you have a unique opportunity, which many do not possess, to experience life in a way that others can not. You are able to do all the things other people can, and you can experience the world through feeling/sensing/intuiting, as well. And through that gift, if you develop it and work with it, you can perceive the world in ways others don't to truly experience what lays beneath the surface of this reality: how all things are interconnected with one another through shared emotions, shared energy, shared experiences, and the simplicity of shared lives.

Being an Empath isn't just about feeling what other people feel. That is only one level, of many, to which you can take the gift of empathy. And the deeper you go, the more likely you are to awaken spiritually.

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