CHAPTER 1: SOLUTIONS ARE SPIRITUAL
The fruits of serious spiritual devotion have an unmistakable flavour, sometimes, even more so in retrospect. It had been a challenging few years. I had been progressing through an existential crisis, an involuntary falling apart of life’s meaning. I felt a deep human aloneness and with all my praying I failed to feel the love of God in any way which could help my state of being. Other than the care and protection of my two little children and my spiritual studies, I had no interest in anything. Everything seemed trite to me; meaningless and often painfully intolerable. I had lost faith in everything human to give solace to my soul. It was not intentional. It is just what happened over the space of a few years. I was at the bottom of the valley – all things lost but nothing gained.
What else could I do but pray? Only God could rescue me. I did not doubt that God would do so but first it seemed that all would be taken away so that new ground would be available for working with. One morning during the earlier years of this struggle, I was walking along a path at a quiet beach near where we lived. I had my toddler in a stroller and my baby in a tie-on carrier. It was a beautiful suburb in seaside Sydney and all the more beautiful for the glorious day. However, try as I did, none of this had any ability to lift my spirits.
Breath of God
The preceding few days had been particularly difficult. Even the tiny bit of hope I was given after prayer seemed to have disappeared. Tears of grief and despair were my increasingly constant companion, though I knew not what I grieved for. Much later, I realised it was the necessary grieving that accompanies the loosening of the hold that the ego has over our consciousness. It is the inevitable struggle of being born human and, yet, the soul seeks release from the bondage of thought that constantly revolves around the precious one – ourselves. We grow up trying to develop enough of an ego to be able to survive and thrive in the world. That, in itself, is a mighty effort. Even before we have it mastered, the deeper Self starts speaking to us, whispering in our ear that this life is not enough. Then we, almost without noticing, begin the quest of pulling apart the ego that we, so courageously, tried to build.
Having no other option but to go forward, I was walking along the beach boardwalk with my little ones hoping that the natural beauty would, even marginally, rescue me. After a while, I must have forgotten about myself. I was looking out to sea and the grandness of it all caught my attention. I simply forgot, for a moment, to feel so bad. That was the chance. And given the chance, It came rushing in. It was so brief that it was over before I even noticed it. But there it was, nevertheless, unmistakable. It came like an invisible breeze brushing past me, coming from the sea, returning beyond, into the Infinite. It wasn’t a breeze. It was the breath of God. As soon as it went, I called internally, “No, stop! Come back. I have been trying to find you. Stay with me. I need you.” I knew it was the Divine by the lightness it brought. It was a sweet presence, softening the mind. It was a very welcome breath of fresh air. It could not stay, at that time, but it would later return and become a progressively more comfortable acquaintance. The veil was beginning to part.
The Dark Night of the Soul
It is, often, in the utter despair of humanness that we become willing to consider deeply spiritual answers. It was through the pathway of Metapsychiatry and the guidance and support of its founder, Dr. Thomas Hora, that I was able to discover a higher spiritual truth. The door and the guide will be different for most people but once the door is open, we are all in the same territory. Spiritual truth irretrievably alters our way of seeing reality and our ability to heal both ourselves and other people. Most spiritual awakening is due to a total disappointment in the human condition to provide any sense of substantial happiness. It is a blessing in disguise. Our greatest need is for the love and assurance that spiritual understanding brings. If it were not for the common experience of human lovelessness and limitation then we would not be driven to seek a higher love.
My initial contact with Metapsychiatry was through a book that was given to me. Not long after reading the book, I was able to travel to America to attend the annual conference of Metapsychiatry. I went with my husband who was an investment banker and twenty years my senior. I was twenty-two at the time and Dr. Hora was seventy. His presence radiated peace, assurance, love, and power. He was, in fact, the only person I had ever met who had the quality of being that I was looking for. He instantly became my teacher, without reservation, and with deep longing for growth and spiritual progress.
Some days, back in Australia, I would simply repeat many times, “God loves me. That is enough.” I read the books daily, listened to the class tapes that were sent to me, and prayed all the time. I spoke frequently with Dr. Hora on the phone; both from Australia and for several years from England, often, in the middle of the night because of the time difference. I was, also, able to travel to America, fairly regularly, to see Dr. Hora and attend his classes and the annual conferences. All of this occurred before the day of the internet and so international communication was certainly not an easy process.
Once, Dr. Hora told me that it was the dark night of the soul. He assured me that it would lift and I would be surprised at how happy I would be. Everything he told me, I soaked in desperately. This period was the crucible which was to be of vital and foundational importance in the development of my spiritual understanding. In all the conversations I had with Dr. Hora, the most often repeated and most important concept which I needed to grasp was, “Donna, you have to understand that you are not here to get love. You are here to manifest non-conditional goodness, for God’s sake. You are here for God and if you are devoted to that idea you will not be disturbed by what other people believe. You will never feel unloved if you know that that’s not what you are here for. We are all here for God and we are to manifest non-personal, nonconditional benevolence, with no strings attached. Love is its own reward. You don’t have to worry about what you are getting or not getting. You are here for God. That’s the bottom line. Once you learn to live that way, you will never be vulnerable to other people.”
To understand this is to understand the love of being loving. It radically changes us. People, in and of themselves, cannot give us happiness. Activities, in and of themselves, cannot give us happiness. At a certain stage of development, one releases all the attachments to both people and activities as a source of happiness. In so doing, one finds a more subtle way of being present in the world. One becomes a loving presence, a centre for Divine grace. Once again, people and activities are enjoyed. In fact, much more so. However, there is no craving or desire to get something, no expectation that the person or activity can fulfil us. One brings something – the love of God.
During this whole period of suffering and mental and spiritual struggling, Dr. Hora let me both suffer and struggle. He, at no point, tried to alleviate my suffering by human means – by sympathy, affection or human advice. He knew that if I just kept going, the understanding of nonpersonal, divine Love would come. Happily, it did. The darkness grew less and the light came filtering in. It was a gradual emergence into Divine consciousness. Once I emerged into the light, it remained a growing presence.
The Two Intelligent Questions
- What is the meaning of what seems to be?
- What is what really is?
The message of Dr. Hora was first and foremost that problems have meanings. What are our problems telling us? Physical symptoms and other problems have corresponding thoughts. If we are able to understand these corresponding thoughts, we will have uncovered the meaning of our problems. All problems – physical, mental, emotional, experiential – are reduced to the thoughts which essentially make up the problem. Far from being a handicap, our problems are our guideposts. They point out the many ways in which our thoughts are founded on unhelpful, incorrect, and harmful concepts. Once the meaning of our problems is understood, we can spiritually correct our thinking. This change in thought will inevitably bring some sort of healing. Healing will manifest in a more beautiful, calm, healthy, loving, and beneficial life.
Fundamentally, thought is energy. It is the energy which creates our human experiences. Some ideas prove to be helpful in our lives such as love, happiness, peace, and intelligence. They help us to prosper. Some ideas prove to be troublesome in our lives such as selfishness, fear, jealousy, and anger. They cause us to suffer. In understanding the meaning of our problems, it helps to be aware of what we cherish, what we hate, and what we fear. These three factors will be magnets for all sorts of experiences. If we cherish spiritual good then the level of conscious contact with divine Love will be high. Recognising what is cherished, hated, and feared will help us to clarify the underlying thought patterns of any illness or problem.
At the human level, there are problems. These problems have meanings. Understanding the meaning of our problems helps us to spiritually progress. Meanings are the mental equivalent of a problem. They are the thoughts we hold in consciousness which are responsible for our human experiences. How do we uncover a meaning? It takes spiritual intuition, a mature understanding of human nature, honesty about what we are really thinking and feeling, and a willingness to be embarrassed. One of the greatest difficulties for mankind is the inbuilt desire to protect the ego by any means possible. In order to heal, one must first be willing to let go of the desire to protect the ego by instinctive and, often, relentless denial. Spiritual healing requires honesty, humility, lack of pretension, and the ability to receive inspired direction from Mind. Eventually, we come to see life from a higher level, from the divine perspective of what really is. This is what our spiritual journey is all about. To understand what really is requires a sincere desire to see the good of God at all times, in all of life.
Who Am I Angry At?
One of the main problems that Dr. Hora helped me to understand and heal was migraine headaches. The headaches were my barometer. They told me when something was wrong with my mental and spiritual equilibrium which, at the beginning, was all the time. The headaches alerted me to the areas in my life which needed healing. Dr. Hora suggested that I ask myself a question whenever I had a headache. The question was to help me understand the meaning of my experience of physical pain. It was, Who am I angry at? At first, I could not think of anyone. That was, however, simply because I was not yet aware enough of my thoughts to know that I was angry with a number of people and very angry with a few people in particular.
When I became more aware and realised the extent of my anger, I went on to consider my anger was perfectly justified, as most people who are angry will tell you. One of the most important lessons we learn on the spiritual path is that we cannot be angry with anyone without hurting ourselves. What a hard lesson that is for most of us. We are so very reluctant to give up our blaming, our righteous indignation, our hurt and anger. However, when we realise that our suffering is in direct proportion to our anger, we may have the wisdom and good sense to let it go so that it is not within our conscious or unconscious thoughts anymore. The headaches were gradually healed until even the memory of them held no more fear or reality.
A positive side effect of working on the meaning of our problems is that we are forced to give up blaming. Nothing could be more beneficial to our spiritual progress. We refrain from blaming our bodies, hereditary factors, economic conditions, our partner, our parents, our upbringing, our boss or any other person. Knowing that our problems have meanings does not mean that we now blame ourselves for our miserable condition instead of other people. It means we understand that our problems are telling us something is not spiritually correct in our thinking. Without reproach or guilt, we understand that we just don’t understand enough yet. However, we are going to. That is why we are students on the spiritual path.
We give up self-pity and complaining that life has given us a raw deal and that we are incapable of doing anything about it. Or if we are nice, we won’t complain. We will still think that life has given us a raw deal but we won’t say it. We will just carry on and be a martyr. Dr. Hora frequently said, “To be nice is not so nice.” To be a martyr is not spiritually desirable. God does not want martyrs. God wants happy, contributing, healthy, loving souls to demonstrate every strong and beautiful idea of divine Truth.
We take a deep, metaphorical breath, take responsibility for our own well-being, and we study, listen, ponder, confront, and pray until the meanings of our problems are clear. Once meanings are clear, we are then free to accept the spiritual solutions. If we try to skip straight to spiritual solutions, without genuinely understanding the meaning of a problem, we will often find that the problem won’t heal. Or if it appears to heal, there is the tendency for it to come back, maybe, in a different form because the thought that is bringing it about is still right there with us.
Telling the Truth
It seems such a simple thing to be authentic, to tell the truth, to be honest. Yet, most of us go to great lengths to avoid it. We do not trust ourselves. Nor do we trust the humanity and compassion of other people. The first great hurdle to spiritual progress is denial. Denial is refusing to tell the truth. When we pass this hurdle and begin to face ourselves honestly we make large steps forward. In order to become honest, it is usually necessary for us to tame our overactive conscience or as Freud called it, the superego. We have to quieten the superego’s parental, judgemental tendencies. We forgive ourselves with the understanding that being human automatically means we have to contend with the naturally selfish and survival-seeking nature of the ego or small self. Our task is to patiently tame the ego into submission so that the loving, divine soul of our being shines forth. If our superego or conscience is too brutal with our failings, we will be forced to protect ourselves and we will not have the courage to face our failings. We progressively learn to tell the truth, forgive ourselves, and turn to the Light in order to grow more beautiful
Relationships and Interaction
While we are learning to recognise spiritual reality, we are also learning to understand the complexities of normal human interaction. We are learning to understand the meaning and purpose of our interactional problems. Interactional problems are our lessons. We are trying to draw the specific and individual lessons from our problems which will help our spiritual growth. Relationships are one of the more painful and also delightful of teaching mediums. Our closest relationships will generally have the most opportunity for both pain and progress. Unlike the common misperception that relationships are for the purpose of making us happy, relationships are generally more suited to making us grow.
When we understand the educational significance of our relationships, we will consciously use them for the purpose of spiritual growth. We will no longer run away from the problems we have. We will welcome the opportunity to further develop our own understanding and that of the other person. This takes courage and honesty. It means facing our own thoughts and allowing our less than desirable, unconscious thoughts to come to the surface. It helps to remind ourselves in this, sometimes, painful process that regardless of our frequently ugly and fearful thoughts we are, nevertheless, a loved child of God. In our true and spiritual essence we are beautiful, good, and pure. The rest is just a mistake. This helps us to face our negative thoughts without condemnation and despair.
The lessons of other people are between them and God. We cannot force, organise, cajole, intimidate, deceive or plead with anyone to do or know anything which they do not sincerely and honestly wish for themselves. Of all people, this applies foremost to our partner and our children. Forgiveness, compassion, and letting-be are spiritually vital qualities. This allows others the space to grow in their own time and in their own way. Although we cannot force the issue of another’s development, just being around a spiritually aware individual provides many opportunities for growth. We can daily demonstrate spiritual principles in the context of ongoing life. Our honest spiritual progress will have a beneficial and encouraging impact on those around us. Life will have its own way of dealing with the consistently ignorant thoughts of those who have no desire to learn. In the end, life will tolerate only for so long harmful or self-destructive thoughts and behaviours. The inevitable consequences will fall into place, one way or another.
As well as the honesty that is required by each individual in confronting his or her own issues, we must also acknowledge the shared lessons of the relationship. There needs to be open and meaningful although, generally, uncomfortable discussion. If we have a long-term relationship and we would like it to continue in a healthy way, we have no choice but to clearly discuss those important issues which need healing. If we do not, the relationship will most likely deteriorate into a great mass of unconscious resentments and fears which, in turn, will lead to unhappiness, illness or other serious problems. One way or another, ignorant thoughts will always find an avenue of expression. They will either be honestly seen for what they are or, if such honesty is not permitted, they will come out in another form. Thought, as energy, needs to find an avenue of expression. We can work on and heal detrimental tendencies before they manifest as devastating consequences in our life experience.
The Prayer of Right Seeing
“Everyone and everything is here for God whether they know it or not.” Thomas Hora
First we learn to understand the meaning or dynamic of the human interaction which makes up the fabric of the shared human existence. While we are becoming more proficient at this, we are also becoming increasingly able to recognise the omniaction that is everywhere. We see life with different eyes. Everyone and everything is here for God whether they know it or not. The gradual evolution of consciousness is through the ranks of interaction and then into the invisible but mighty domain of spirit. It is a blessed and satisfying path and each step is rewarded with greater health, success, peace, and fulfilment. The struggles in outgrowing mistaken concepts are well worth it and quickly forgotten when one is bathing in the light and freedom of a progressively evolving capacity to live from one’s soul.
The Sound of One Hand Clapping
Removing oneself from interactional thinking and behaviour provides an exit from the stresses and pains of the ego’s perspective. It opens the door to the possibility of joint participation in the good of God. Joint participation in the good of God is the awakening of the divine Presence in a loving and mutually beneficial partnership. During the decade I studied with Dr. Hora, another idea which was very helpful to me was the sound of one hand clapping. Spiritual students commonly find that even though they may be interested in the divine presence, generally, other people are not. Most people are interested in interaction or clapping. Our job is to lessen the interactional noise and to elevate the mental climate by, mostly, silent acknowledgement of the allness of God’s good.
This brings to mind a healing of one of Dr. Hora’s patients. A man who had been seeing him was suffering from severe back pain. During the session the man had been complaining bitterly about his daughter. Dr. Hora thought, Nevertheless, you love her very much. He said nothing but silently and peacefully knew the nothingness of interactional problems and the allness of God’s supreme, encompassing, pervading Love. Suddenly, the man stopped complaining, stood up, and declared with amazement that the back pain had disappeared. The sound of one hand clapping may seem somewhat contradictory to the idea of honest discussion within a relationship. However, we are talking about different levels of consciousness. While we are in the human experience, it is important to think, speak, and act in a way which is most conducive to healing problems and to facilitating the healthful and positive development of our relationships.
At a higher level, our spiritual sense of what is really taking place lifts us into a different dimension where interaction and relationships no longer have the reality and power that they have in the lower human world. However, we must not deceive ourselves about our human frailties and life conditions. Honesty is required at every step, in every way. Our human experience is then naturally lightened as a result of dawning consciousness. At the human level, we need a certain type of wisdom in order to maintain our well-being. When we see life from the higher perspective, human issues lose some of their power and relevance. From this perspective, human progress is not really the point. Progress implies something needing improvement. Spiritual reality does not need improving. A perfect order needs nothing but to be seen. This does not mean that we abandon the human detail and become reckless and uncaring in our affairs. Rather, the human becomes increasingly pervaded with the knowledge of divine principles which clarify, heal, uplift, and transform it.
The Eleven Principles of Metapsychiatry
- Thou shalt have no other interests before the good of God, which is spiritual blessedness.
The vast majority of people live their life with innumerable interests before spiritual good and that accounts for the unhappiness that the vast majority of people feel at their most honest soul level. Good relationships, material abundance, fulfilling work, enjoyable and enthralling interests, and glowing health are not excluded by having our undivided attention on the spiritual path. They are an accompaniment to it. For the sincere seeker, qualities such as peace, assurance, gratitude, love, and spiritual good are always of primary and supreme importance.
- Take no thought for what should be or what should not be; seek ye first to know the good of God, which already is.
Dr. Hora would often tell his students that in order to have a more peaceful and harmonious life, we need to lose the shoulds and should-nots from our vocabulary. Many arguments, hurt feelings, and personal stalemates would quickly be resolved by the realisation of this principle. Tightly held ultimatums, self-righteous demands, personal tyrannies, and uncompromising interpersonal rules are the fuel of family dysfunction. Freedom and respect go a long way to dissolving family tensions. They help us to release our own interpersonal expectations and they protect us from the stated and silent demands of others. Families frequently have strongly held shoulds and should-nots about many issues. Do we not see the bitter result of this repeatedly? Neither be tyrannised nor tyrannise anyone else.
When spiritual light is turned to the picture of family life, we see things differently. The sweetest families are those where everyone is free to come and go; where everyone is allowed and encouraged to explore their purpose, their best desires, and their individual expression in the world. Much damage is done in ordinary families in the name of loyalty, which is mostly guilt, and under the guise of love, when nothing could be further from the truth. Emotional and spiritual maturity means that we have outgrown our family of birth and its invisible should conditions. We still love our birth families. In fact, we will be better at loving them. However, we will have outgrown the unconscious desire for the love and approval from, generally, less than enlightened family members which always puts us in a vulnerable and detrimental position.
If we take no thought for what should be and what should not be, it does not mean that we will become lazy, selfish, undisciplined, and chaotic. Rather, we will have an overriding sense of the Divine structure and order. Excellence and good character will be driven by the love of goodness and progress, not by fear. Our freedom and peace of mind will be assured. Far from being forgotten or overlooked, we will be loved for our growing graciousness.
- There is no interaction anywhere, there is only omniaction everywhere.
Dr. Hora defined interaction as thinking about what others are thinking about what we are thinking. Interaction is the basis of ordinary human life and it is the prime meaning of illness and other problems. Problems are predominantly interactional. From the Divine perspective, there is only omniaction. To discover this is our spiritual life mission. It gives us our freedom from the human dream. It does not mean that we become a recluse. We increasingly become a transparency for universal Love, blessing whoever comes into our range of influence without the negative side-effects of interactional thinking.
- Yes is good, but no is also good.
It is human nature to want what we want, how and when we want it. However, as we progress, we learn that insisting on what we want is a great source of frustration and distraction. The remedy is as simple and as difficult as saying, I may not know what is best for me or someone else or the greater plan. We relax into the flow of life, trusting the Divine heart.
- God helps those who let him.
To let God help us requires humility and the learned assurance that God is our best bet. This principle can be used consciously whenever choices and decisions confront us. To let God help us means to suspend all calculative thinking, anxiety, worry, and mental agonising about what should be and what should not be. We need the courage which dares to not know in order to discern what the all-knowing knows.
- If you know what, you know how.
The sixth principle is a reminder to steer clear of operational thinking. If we know that we are deeply and completely loved by Life then we will know how to let it flow through us freely. If we know that the essential force of Life is immensely beautiful and endlessly creative then we will know how to follow our inner guidance. If we know that our true being is spiritually perfect, complete, and pure then we will be healthy, well-balanced, productive, and happy.
- Nothing comes into experience uninvited.
This principle does not mean that we purposely and consciously invite suffering into our life. Nor does it mean that we are to blame for the, perhaps, less than desirable state of our affairs. It means that the thoughts we entertain in consciousness inevitably draw certain experiences. The first intelligent question, What is the meaning of what seems to be? is based on this metaphysical principle. Thoughts translate into experience. Asking the meaning of problems is simply translating experiences back into thoughts. Once our thoughts are understood, we can then alter them, be healed, and grow in our conscious connection with divine Truth.
- Problems are lessons designed for our edification.
Since nothing comes into experience uninvited, it spontaneously follows that our problems have very specific messages for our spiritual development. Without the pain of problems, very few of us would be interested in giving up our human attachments and ignorance.
- Reality cannot be experienced or imagined; it can, however, be realized.
Reality cannot be grasped by calculative, imaginative or emotive thinking. It must be discovered by the soul. The soul in us which recognises Reality is part of the greater Soul which is, itself, Reality.
- The understanding of what really is, abolishes all that seems to be.
This principle forms the basis of spiritual healing.
- Do not show your pearls to unreceptive minds, for they will demean them.
As we grow in spiritual wisdom, we become naturally astute in our conversations. We do not provoke other people’s anger and ridicule by saying truths that ignorant minds are incapable of understanding, and will possibly react aggressively towards in order to protect their own untruthful life force. We develop an intuitive sense of precisely what to say and when to say it. Wise individuals often say very little but what they say hits the mark. Such remarks often remain in the mind of the recipient for a long time, possibly, a lifetime. Wisdom carries power.