Issue 24 September 2006
SOME THOUGHTS ON ENLIGHTENMENT
I began my Jungian Analysis when I was 22 years old in 1949. My dream process exploded immediately and it has been with me ever since. I very early became aware, as young as I was, of another reality that lived inside of me. I began to experience the Intelligence that lies within the unconscious and that manifests in many different ways in our lives. For me it was through the dream process that this experience of “The Other Reality” became more real and more profound.
Early in my analysis, probably within the first year, I had a very memorable dream. In the dream I had entered a small room that was filled with ancient spiritual books from all traditions. These books were written in all languages but I particularly noticed a series of 12 volumes written in Hebrew that dealt with ancient spiritual truths. A voice then said to me that all of the knowledge of these volumes would become available to me at the age of 56.
The dream had a strong impact upon me and, along with other later experiences, led me deep into an exploration of the world of spiritual reality. The years passed and I immersed myself in my Jungian studies and in spiritual studies in general. I meditated and I prayed and I thirsted for God and I was attempting to move on the fast track towards enlightenment. I read the autobiographies and descriptions of Spiritual Masters of all religions and I pushed myself as hard as I could to reach this goal to the detriment, I might add, of a more conscious relationship to my own family. My primary energetic linkage was to Spirit and much less was available to the central people in my life.
The years passed. I became an analyst in 1961 and then left this world in the early seventies. I began to experiment with a variety of treatment modalities. I found a new appreciation of all of the different approaches and began to use them in my clinical practice. A new world was beginning for me.
In early seventies Sidra and I met and together we began to explore these new worlds and out of this began our work with Voice Dialogue. I was changing dramatically through all of this and being with Sidra galvanized this change. She was a full on woman of the world and I loved her and I had to rise to the challenge of integrating what she carried for me. At my core, however, I was still waiting for enlightenment. I was still chasing God in a variety of ways and this was the case as I turned 56 in 1983.
Somewhere after my 56 th birthday I had a consult with an astrologer friend of mine who told me that I was going to be having a huge experience and change towards the end of my birthday year. That was all I needed to hear. The oracles had spoken and I was about to finally have the experience of enlightenment, of becoming one with God.
Sidra and I had already started to teach all over the U.S. and the world. We planned a trip to Israel towards the end of the birthday year. Since my next birthday was in December, this would mean that I would be completing our work a few weeks before my 57 th birthday. At that time we were trying to train people in Voice Dialogue in Israel and in particular we were trying to establish a training process between Arabs and Israelis to see if we could help at all in a situation that was most difficult at that time and that seemed destined to deteriorate very badly. It was a difficult task and we gave it our best with very little success.
To continue with my narrative, it was now 1984, late in my 56 th year. We had finished our teaching and had some time off. For me however my time was running out. I know that what I am going to share with you now sounds a bit crazy, but in truth the search for God often makes us do strange things. I felt that if my experience was going to happen it was going to happen in Israel where we were really trying to do some very significant work. We were on our last day in the city of Svatt and we planned to leave for home the next morning. I felt that this was it and that once we left we were very close to the New Year and my next birthday. I was feeling very disappointed that my journey towards the enlightenment experience was so very close to being de-railed, maybe forever.
On this last night we are in a lovely old hotel looking out at night over the quiet valley below. Sidra was tired this evening and she had gone to sleep about 9:00 PM. I was standing at the end of an open portico of the hotel, looking out into the night, watching the lights of the valley below and the hills of Lebanon rising in the distance. I was hoping against hope that my enlightenment might still happen on this fated evening.
The time seemed to pass quickly. It was as though I was in an altered state of consciousness. It is now 10:00 PM and then it is 11:00 and then 12:00 AM. I am very much awake. It is now 1:00 AM and then 2:00 AM and then I look at my watch and it is 2:30 AM. I look up again into the night and suddenly I start laughing. I laugh and I laugh and at that moment Sidra emerges from her room and walks towards asking me what is happening. When she comes closer I’m still laughing and I say to her – “Sweetheart – I get it – I finally get it. This is it – this moment is it – right now – this moment is it!”
In those few moments I went through a momentous shift in my life, as though I were re-born. Yet it was so light and so funny. How could I have not seen this?
I realized in those moments that if I walk and I put my foot down, where I touch the earth is my new reality. I am now present in that moment – until I move to the next moment. I saw that my path was a very different path than the Hal who had been there a minute before. I was no longer going to be chasing God. I was going to be learning how to be present in life. I would be surrendered to God, as we all must be whether we know it or not or like it or not. Being surrendered however is very different than racing towards Enlightenment.
The shift that occurred within me that evening opened for me a new level of exploration and joy in the act of life itself. I had always had the notion that I have to get the personal material out of the way so that I could then move more deeply into spiritual realms. The future began to look very different to me.
I am constantly surprised at how the aging process has gone for me in my life. Before this experience my fantasy was that as I got older I would become wiser and deeper and more introverted and always keep moving inward as I prepared for death. Instead I find myself today more involved in relationship, more committed to life and to feelings than I ever have been in my life. I cry so easily now that you would think someone had built a tear pipeline somewhere inside of me. Sidra calls them the “tears of the heart” as contrasted with the tears of pain and suffering. They are really quite different.
There isn’t a month that passes that some new insight doesn’t occur to me that deals with my personal psyche. At other times this is interspersed with other experiences, mainly through my dreams or through Sidra’s and my work together, where the Intelligence of the unconscious infuses me with its images and wisdom.
I shifted at that time from a spiritual path to a psycho-spiritual path and this is how I would summarize the path of the Aware Ego Process. It is Psycho-Spiritual. We must learn to embrace the opposites of body/ emotion/ mind on the one side and spirituality on the other side. Then, after a time, it doesn’t matter what side you are on. I have no interest in leaving this life because I’m having such a good time in so many different ways and Sidra and I together have such a great joy in helping people learn how to move towards the creation of heaven on earth.
Enlightenment is a vision of the Spiritual Primary Selves. It is a beautiful vision generated by the search for Spiritual reality and experience. I honor that path, but it isn’t my path. It is only one side of the coin. There truly are many paths.
If someone has an enlightenment experience, using the term as it is used in the East, does it mean that they have embraced all the selves? I don’t believe this to be the case. Instead I believe it means that such people have devoted themselves to spiritual work and practice and have had a direct experience of god and/or cosmic reality/ cosmic consciousness and certainly many aspects of the great mystery may become known to them major changes in consciousness will most certainly occur within them
Do they know how to live in relationship? Do they know how to raise step- children? Do they know how to earn money and invest it? Do they know how to deal with acting out children? Do they know what their disowned selves are? Do they know when they are in a positive or negative bonding pattern? Do they understand the reality of Dragon energy that is a part of them? Do they know that powerful dark energy of Ghengis Kahn is a part of them? It is very doubtful that this is the case.
I remember once in a dream and I stood before evil and we had been battling with each other for centuries and we were fighting again with each other. Suddenly I looked at him and I felt great sadness and I apologized to him for all of the pain I had caused him through the centuries. He was shocked and then he apologized to me. Then I began crying for I realized at last that Evil was by brother and he knew this too and he too began to cry.
This dream, this meeting with the dark side that I have been working with all of my life, would never have been possible if I had not been blessed by the Universal Energies with the ability to separate from my drive towards enlightenment through my relationship to Sidra and to my dreams. I have met so many remarkable energy systems that I would never have met and one can only gasp in amazement at the power of this Intelligence once it gets going inside of us.
The psycho-spiritual path is much more the path of balance, much more the path of the snake. On this path we are always working between opposites and learning to spend more time in this middle way – the Aware Ego process. We are always reaching for balance as we stretch to encompass all we can that lies within and without of the human psyche.
I am very grateful for the years I spent searching for enlightenment because I learned so much and developed strong transpersonal muscles swimming in this oceanic world. I am also aware of how much I wasn’t present in my marriage and how unavailable I was in many significant ways to my marriage, my children, my friends and my clients.
Knowledge comes from the primary selves. The primary selves are the ones that accumulate information and knowledge. Wisdom comes through the development of the Aware Ego Process because here it is necessary to embrace opposites. If you are in an Enlightenment Process, remember that this is only one side of the coin. On the other side is life itself in all of its manifestations. Our job is to embrace the spiritual on one side and life itself on the other side.
This is indeed a huge stretch for all of us but I can say now with some sense of authority, looking back at the sea of life that has led us all to this moment, that the effort is well worth it and the rewards are indeed great. Possibly we need a new word to stand on an equal footing with the attraction of Enlightenment. I once heard someone use the term Enlifenment. My spell check objects to this term and suggests the word Enlivenment. Either of these would certainly bring honor to these two dimensions of reality and I do believe that the Universal Intelligence would smile, and even laugh, at such a union of opposites.