• Ch 1. Intro – where we’ve been
    There was an old post here in the blog section that talked about narcissism, my personal experiences with narcissists, and some of the approaches to recovery from narcissistic abuse. It spoke from the usual perspective of someone walking through the difficult journey of awareness, understanding, the healing of trauma, and the building up of personal resources like boundaries, taking ownership and responsibility, tracing back and healing childhood stuff, and maintaining no contact while working on forgiveness, compassion, etc.  Though I’ve worked with lots of people who are healing from narcissistic abuse, the therapeutic focus is not my specific area of […]
  • Ch 2. Intro II – where we are going
    The practice of mysticism is inextricably linked with narcissism, both within the inner world and externally. Narcissists serve as the enemy, the opponent, the often unwitting vessels for evil. They are loud mirrors, messengers, invitations for integration, and wonderful sparring partners for the journey. They bring out all of what does not want to be seen nor acknowledged, operating always by intricate divine design.  Understanding narcissism (though not necessarily the narcissist’s mind) is understanding the ego and many of its goals and functions. Coming completely out of idealizations and denials, brings one face to face often with the horrific sadism, exploitation, […]
  • Ch 3. The oneness of good and evil
    From a mystical perspective, one that allows the coexistence and cooperation of good and evil, we see that the Great Orchestrator (God, life, the universe, however you understand divinity) controls both sides, for our spiritual benefit. “You are to speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I will multiply My signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you.“ Exodus 7 This idea, or set of ideas, isn’t new. It makes […]
  • Ch 4. Accepting the truth
    “Evil is unspectacular and always human,And shares our bed and eats at our own table,And we are introduced to Goodness every day.Even in drawing-rooms among a crowd of faults;he has a name like Billy and is almost perfectBut wears a stammer like decoration:And every time they meet the same thing has to happen;It is the Evil that is helpless like a loverAnd has to pick a quarrel and succeeds,And both are openly destroyed before our eyes.“ W.H. Auden On the surface, evil always wins. It must. That’s how it’s designed to function. It’s stronger, faster, and smarter than goodness. The […]
  • Ch 5. We are all good people
    I shared an article on my fb page, which I won’t link to here, because I don’t want to give it any more attention. It’s one of those previews for an upcoming book; it’s full of hypocritical nonsense and regurgitated popular mis-statements about spirituality, pronounced by a non-practitioner, looking down his nose at practitioners “doing it wrong,” through the purported omniscience of intellectual “scientific” study. Vomit. (I have lots of respect for science; my faith isn’t anti-science, but when science gets into the business of directing spirituality… it never ends well, nor wisely.). But I want to talk for a […]
  • Ch 6. Break the spell of enabling
    If one would have a friend, then one must also be willing to wage war for him; and in order to wage war, one must be capable of being an enemy. Zoroaster This is an unexpected piece of wisdom. On the surface, the suggestion of enemies and solidarity in warfare seems to run counter to spiritual ideals of peacefulness, unity, conflict resolution, and mutual understanding. However, as we navigate the rich depths and practical nuance of peace as an ideal, we find some very surprising counter-currents. It turns out that the road to peace is full of virtue-cultivating battles. If […]
  • Ch 7. From non-judgment to discernment
    I’ve been thinking about how to address this subject, which arises often in spiritual communities, most notably when some kind of harm has taken place. The problem of holding non-judgment as a value, while behaving in accordance with basic ethics and morality, and navigating real conflict with real consequences, presents lots of practical problems. Most often, regretably, the arguments about this issue take place between people of mis-matched levels of spiritual maturity. Some are young and naive, die-hard ‘no judgment” types, while others are more experienced, have a nuanced understanding of how these concepts work together, and are on the […]
  • Ch 8. Blame
    I want to talk a little about blame, and by that I mean the apportioning of responsibility for pain. (I’m going to leave out the issue of intentionality here, which we can talk about later. It’s not so important to parse out in words.).  Blame is one of those subjects which requires contradictory approaches at various levels of development. The instruction on what to do about blame will vary depending on where along the road the practitioner is standing.  We have a nifty Chinese proverb that tells us so: “He who blames others has a long way to go on his journey. He […]
  • Ch 9. “Am I the narcissist?”
    This is a video from Dr. Ramani titled: When narcissists make you feel like YOU ARE the narcissist. (She does lots of wonderful work bringing awareness and clarity to the issues of narcissistic abuse, and her videos on youtube are great.) This question presents one of the paradox problems where psychology and mysticism meet. On the one hand, in the midst of the abuse, the narcissist is trying to project his “badness” onto you, and make you feel responsible and guilty for all the relationship issues. In this dynamic, he pretends to be the good victim and you, the evil […]
  • Ch 10. Saints and sinners
    The irony is that only the realized saint is capable of seeing and understanding the depths of his own flaws and evils. The rest of humanity lives in ignorance of itself, believing that it is good. I’ve been on a strangely unfolding journey about the subject of saints for quite some time. I’ve shared with you here some of my thoughts along the way, and now I think I’m getting closer to the right understanding. The thing that makes a saint a saint, aside from the canonizing process, is not his or her goodness. That’s something we overlay onto them; […]
  • Ch 11. Meaning inside the suffering
    We must receive the one who curses us as a messenger from God, rebuking our hidden evil thoughts, so that we, seeing our thoughts with exactness, might correct ourselves. For we do not know how many hidden evils we have; Only a perfect man can understand all of his own shortcomings. Marcus Eremita There are different kinds of human suffering, templates you might say, hundreds of them, through which the soul learns the various higher order lessons throughout its lifetimes. Each one of us, in each lifetime, takes on particular kinds of suffering connected to the cultivation of particular kinds […]
  • Ch 12. Love your enemy
    I want to connect what I’m talking about here to the “love your enemies” instruction, because I think it’s useful in the big picture. We come to love them (narcissists, I mean), over time, for how they serve our spiritual growth. This is a real love, one that accepts them as they are, and is grateful to them for being as they are… evil.  This doesn’t mean you hang out with them. It doesn’t mean you allow them back into your life. But when all the pain is properly healed, and all the lessons are retrieved, there is a very deep […]
  • Ch 13. Not like them
    As we begin taking a lot of these questions apart, one of the problems we run into often is how to define goodness or good behavior. For lots of people who grew up around narcissists and bullies, the definition of goodness, of good behavior, is “not like them.” It doesn’t have any actual substance on its own; it’s just opposite to however the narcissist is… Whatever you do, don’t be like “that.” For some people that means don’t be confrontational, or don’t be aggressive, or don’t be a bully, or don’t hurt other people gratuitously, or don’t be selfish… You can […]
  • Ch 14. Cultivating authentic values
    I’ve been sharing some of the rich content from the Pathwork Lectures over the last few months on the Wisdom of Sophia Facebook feed. I’m going to do a few posts on some of that material here also. But I want to share a word of caution about it. It is extremely valuable and important to understand our internal depth dynamics intellectually – to make some kind of sense of the darkness. We need the intellect and reason to do all of this work properly. We need honest names and descriptions of the inner terrain. And having these concepts or […]
  • Ch 15. A new understanding of virtue
    Aristotle defined moral virtue as a disposition to behave in the right manner and as a mean between extremes of deficiency and excess, which he considered vices. We learn moral virtue primarily through experience, habit, and practice rather than through reasoning and instruction. This is also called the middle path, or the middle way, and restates the concepts of balance and harmony. While the concept of balance is certainly appropriate and familiar to us, as we think about the shift from outer appearances to the intrinsic inner world, virtue takes on an entirely different meaning. The heart of virtue actually […]
  • Ch 16. More meaning in suffering
    This is an excerpt I’ve written about before in a slightly different context. I will recycle it to make a more relevant point. It’s from The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy.  If you’re wrestling with death, suffering, meaning, truth, deception, loneliness, surrender, toxic spouses, propriety, conformity, expectations, or anger at God, Tolstoy’s got you covered in this book! The book is honest and funny, and really dark, and tragic, and real. Reading it, one might ask the question: what kind of meaning could there be in a mediocre life, surrounded by awfully selfish insensitive people, steeped in misery, […]
  • Ch 17. The path of pain
    Let’s talk a bit about the pain, specifically the path of pain, because that’s important to understand. This might seem somewhat elementary, but we easily lose sight of these things in real life, and there’s been a bunch of distorted instruction on this subject. The way it actually works in the feelings, at a depth of consciousness, is this: Extreme pain demands extreme retribution. When a particular wound has opened up fully, and you are climbing the walls in psychic pain (rage, grief, terror, etc.), that pain wants nothing more than for the perpetrator to burn in hell forever. Severe […]
  • Ch 18. Not winning
    I’ve been writing from a position of failure, from a powerless losing surrendered perspective in many of these posts. It’s not a passive position, because I do quite a bit of fighting, but a persistently losing one. This strange combination of fighting with the constant experience of losing is the proper perspective and disposition for the cultivation of wisdom in these dynamics. If you want to glean the lessons, you have to surrender to what is, but without passivity. You have to get comfortable with losing, and failing, and the injustice and humiliation of being powerless. You have to admit […]