“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” - Carl Jung
I started doing this work of becoming conscious thinking I was just trying to end my depression, my debilitating anxiety, and to try to get some of this thing people referred to as “confidence”.
I got those things and more. I am now connected to a strength and love inside me that I didn’t know was possible. I’ve had and continue to have mind blowing experiences of how magical and incredible life is. Compassion and understanding that allows me to forgive and move on from even the most horrible abuses inflicted on me. These experiences leave me in a state of awe, of regular gratitude exploding from within me. Almost everyday feels like a new adventure.
But here is what I didn’t know when I started this inward journey. I didn’t know that pain doesn’t end. At least not in the way I thought it would. I thought life would become easier. But no, what happened instead is, I got stronger and more resolved. I realized that life brings me what I need and I spend less of my energy trying to control it and bend it to my will.
To continue expanding our consciousness we have to experience pain often. This pain I’m talking about is the pain of the constant exposure of our self-delusions. It’s so much easier to see other people’s delusions than our own.
Again... It’s SO much easier to see other people’s delusions than our own.
This is why community or a teacher or both can be so vital. For both encouragement and not feeling so alone in this journey. To help us not give up. But also to reflect the truth to us. To help us see our blind spots.
There are many views that support staying away from all seeming negativity. Stay away from negative and dark energy! Protect yourself! Walk away from anyone who makes you feel bad or ashamed.They are bad people! Surround yourself with people that only lift you up and make you feel good. If you take this view and live your entire life this way. Well, it’s your choice of course. But it will keep you safely asleep in your own self-made delusional prison.
Does this mean everyone who triggers pain in you has good intentions? Of course not. Some people intend to harm or bring you down in order to make themselves feel better because deep down they feel small and fearful. That’s true. Yet that can have its own lessons for us too. (if we are honest with ourselves we have done the same thing)
But some will tell you the truth because they care. They are unwilling to settle for mediocrity, for themselves and you. They are unwilling to constantly make themselves small for you. They sacrifice your nice opinion of them.
I don’t have an easy formula for you to discern because it comes from experience for me. Lot’s of it. I do encourage a willingness to face and go through your resistance in order to go beyond it. Connecting to this ‘beyond’ part of me is what has guided me and given me joy.
Anytime I’ve experienced transformation, It involved pain. Sometimes it’s a feeling that I would describe as “agonizing”.
So is it hard? Oh my god yeah, it’s so hard!!
I hate pain. It sucks. I don’t like it. Yet I allow these experiences and that’s why I am a different person today. The transformations permanently altered me at such a deep level of my beingness. So much so that I had to change my name from Lila to Leela because I didn’t feel like ‘Lila’ anymore.
I have to admit something about my teacher Mada. She terrifies me at times, and has in moments during the whole past 7 years I’ve been her student. As much as I feel profoundly grateful to her. As much as she is this adorable spunky petite woman who looks and feels much younger than she is. With her curly blonde hair and her stylish clothes and Adidas shoes.
As much as I have never experienced a profound presence and silence as I do when I’m near her. In the moment when she is exposing something in me, suddenly she seems monstrous to me. She looks more like Kali holding a bleeding severed head. All I want in these moments is to dig a deep hole in the ground and crawl into it.
I’ve never met a woman (or man) this fearless. She is also hilarious and so gentle much of the time (I’m just focusing on the scary times because that’s what this writing is about).
It’s why I think of her as a “Zen Master”. Zen is responding to whatever the moment calls for.
It’s also why genuinely self-realized teachers, the ones who truly want us to come into our own, be truly self-empowered as the mystical amazing beings that we truly are, are often feared, projected upon, ridiculed, and hated. Because they expose our unconsciousness. They expose our darkness. This is exactly why Jesus was crucified.
But I am veering off to another topic.
Back to pain. An example of how pain helped me recently: Over the years Mada has reflected to me that I’m procrastinating and holding back who I really am. She always said this in a gentle way. I procrastinated less but yet was still doing it in many unconscious ways, I wasn't seeing the full truth of what she was pointing to. That’s okay because I was working through so many other things as well. It just wasn’t quite time yet.
Recently she brought this up again. This time not so gentle. The words she chose felt like a burning searing arrow through me. It exposed humiliation and guilt in me. I was suddenly seeing how deluded I’d been and how much I’d been holding back. Ouch. Yet even while still feeling that pain I immediately felt spurred to be more fully myself and take action right away.
However painful it was. It worked. The pain has now passed and in its place a new unfolding of clarity, determination, and gratitude.
That’s what truth does to us. It can momentarily seem like we are being viciously attacked. But there’s no other way to become conscious but to experience this kind of pain as Jung’s quote says. Otherwise ‘being spiritual’ is just dress-up for our ego.
The popular images of the Hindu Goddess Kali; I read somewhere that this is just how the ego sees her. I had an experience one time where I was in a lot of intense resistance and agonizing pain and she whispered to me so lovingly and gently “Sorry dear, I cannot take away your pain right now. Not yet”
She is actually the embodiment of compassion. (notice in the image, the man she is stepping on looks relaxed and blissful - he is in Surrender)
Leela Haris - Expanding Consciousness