Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What to Do While "It Does You!"

There seems to be a polemic building around the notion that "spiritual" work (meditation, praying, attending workshops, seminars, and retreats) takes care of underlying psychic issues, so you don't need to undertake any type of behavioral work to complete the self-actualization process:

"... the vast majority of us who are engaging in spiritual practice are making a similar mistake. We tend to put far too much emphasis on the need to “work out” our personal psychological issues as part of our spiritual path.
"The way this plays out practically is as follows: let’s say that you take up a spiritual practice in earnest, and you notice in the course of that practice that you’re deeply defended against life and intimacy. You won’t let other people see you. You always wear a social mask which hides a deep-rooted insecurity.
"The trouble is that although this “archaeological dig” into the depths of your psyche might lead to greater self-understanding, it won’t necessarily make it any easier for you to be vulnerable, authentic and present. Indeed, it might even take you further away from authentic intimacy with life by making you more self-preoccupied than before.
"It’s important to recognize that this tendency toward self-preoccupation isn’t our fault. This habit grew out of our over-psychologized culture which basically told us that we were all damaged by our childhood and that we have “inner wounds” that need to be healed in order to become happy and fulfilled as adults."
~ The Mistake Most of us Make on the Spiritual Path – Craig Hamilton

This appears to go counter to Margaret Dempsey's hypothesis that some psychic work may be needed, not so much to overhaul the psyche, but to help the individual recognize the ego indoctrination process:

"So before any spiritual work is attempted, I strongly recommend individuals, especially those who have been on a spiritual path for many years, do a transformative, self-development programme. In my case it was the Forum from Landmark Education, but there are others. It's not important which one is done. What is critical is doing something to deal with the sloppy thinking in which one presumes that simply by meditating or doing yoga one is going to transform the ego that stands in the way of awakening. 
"Trying to transform the ego on one's own is like a thief turning detective to catch the one who is the thief; it can't be done and leads to frustration and disillusionment."
The First Stage of Spiritual Awakening: Know Yourself  – Margaret Dempsey

To answer the question "What to Do While 'It Does You!'," I created a diagram of the process that attempts to illustrate what happens when you reach the It Does You! stage. In short, it really does do you!

That is to say the Kundalini-Life Force energy starts re-engineering your being (body, soul, mind, ego, psyche, all) and you can sit back and let it work its evolutionary magic, or as Craig Hamilton says, "... feel instantly connected to the heart of Life and energized by the impulse of evolution itself."

The challenge is, at least for me, that I have been living with this energy for 40 years, exploring, as time went by, many facets of my being, and I don't believe that delving into the various aspects of my being has been counter to the It-Does-You! work that Kundalini carries out on a daily basis. In fact, doing this work has helped change my Being. No longer was I simply a body and a mind, but rather a Being with a capital "B" in it, connected to an energy continuum, like the scent of a pine forest is connected to living trees.

That said, I can see how too much psychic self-analysis might short circuit an individual in the You-do-it! phase, leaving him/her prey to what Hamilton terms "inner wounds." Nevertheless, once you reach the It does You!, there's no harm in gaining insights into how the mind and the ego work, especially as pertains to the finer aspects of social interaction. In my case, I never felt the need for psychoanalysis; I got the point of it after reading Eric Berne's Games People Play.

Sunday by the bay
The Marketplace of Inner Wounds

The work I've done on myself since Kundalini took over has been pretty much confined to self-remembering, which is geared toward the issue of self-control, the key to success in the material world, and I'm not using the preceding term in a materialistic sense. I mean it in the sense of learning to respond instead of to react.

Other than that, any polemic brewing over the question of what to do while pursuing self-actualization is a non-starter. I think all three of us (Hamilton, Dempsey, Semple) are basically saying the same thing: It depends on where you are in the journey:

  • If you're in the You-do-it! stage, beware that psychic contents don't usurp your real intentions.
  • If you're in the It-Does-You! stage, you should have the perspective, and the metaphysical knowledge, to manage the important aspects of your life.


  1. I enjoyed reading this post JJ and as you can imagine it has given me food for thought. What was most interesting was the process I went through reading it. I began off mildly curious and then thinking about it and then getting to the source of your first point without much bodily or mental reaction. I noted that I had never heard of Craig Hamilton and made a mental note to look up some of his writings.

    Then I saw my name and immediately and without any thought on my part was a reaction. I felt heat rising and my heart beat a little faster and a kind of sinking sensation. I was immediately on the alert! All of this happened in my body and brain as my amygdala that part of the brain which reacts when any kind of threat is perceived was activated. In this case the perceived threat was psychological (a reaction to the words ‘being counter to’) which in my interpretation was pitting my view against that of another and this created the reaction and behaviour which was to ‘sit up and pay attention’! I had no choice in any of this, it was a reaction pure and simple.

    By catching this by self-observation I can distinguish what are the egoic patterns in the brain which are being activated i.e. past experience of having my writing criticized, patterns of being defensive and then I can say as I did ‘oh this is just a pattern based on some past experience’ and then read on interested and relaxed because I recognized what was going on and I had the choice in how I would deal with it. Without having done all of the transformational self-development work that I have done what I would have had no mastery over conditioned brain patterns and the result would be 100% reaction.

    It is this element of distinguishing and then choice which is so important on a spiritual path. Having the humility to put oneself through the wringer that is one of these courses makes crystal clear one’s motivations. What I had to confront when I did this course was that up to then I had only been pursuing the spiritual to escape from events that had happened in my past. Not the events themselves but what I made them mean about myself and the world. What distinguishes human beings from animals is that we make EVERYTHING that happens mean something and then we live life from that interpretation. Events in and of themselves have no power to shape a life. What is critical is what we made them mean which in the design of human being is hidden from our view which is why being willing to consider this and take the responsibility for one’s own psychological development is critical on the spiritual path.

    I am not talking about years of psychotherapy where very often all that happens is that the ‘story or narrative’ about what happened is kept alive by incessantly talking about it. I am talking about one short sharp weekend where you go into the fire with around 200 other people so there’s no hiding and just deal with stuff that if you don’t and you have a Kundalini awakening, the Kundalini is going to make you deal with anyway because Kundalini is all about releasing blocked traumas so surely it’s better to be ahead and take this on consciously and transform the trauma as opposed to dealing with its symptoms.

  2. When I read his (Hamilton's) article, i immediately thought about your ideas on the subject. The further I read, the more I saw no real separation in what was being said. It's easy to speak in abstractions, but each being is unique. I can only suppose that because Kundalini opened so many points of awareness for me, it helped me manage aspects of my being that I would not have been able to beforehand. As with anything, the more experience one has, the better prepared to face challenges, whether they come from inside or outside.

    One notion that resonates for me is his statement that we already possess the qualities we need for self-actualization, as in: "This is what I call 'the awakening of the Evolutionary Self.' It’s the discovery of a part of our self that was never wounded or traumatized, and that doesn’t need to be healed, because it is already whole and complete.

    "This part of the self has access to boundless energy, creativity, and positivity, and is completely ready to participate in life fully, boldly, passionately, holding nothing back."

    It's one thing to realize this from my present perspective, but, for the previous years of my life, this knowledge was not readily available, or, even if I possessed a sense of some greater purpose to life, it was buried too deeply. Kundalini woke me up in an instant; it was concurrent and spontaneous with the actuality of awakening.