The Sacred Questions and Self Awareness

There was a time in my life when things were just so bad!  In my mind I felt hopeless.  I could not see a way out.  I was stuck.  I had been taught all my life, however, that we are special and that we humans are meant to overcome our difficulties in life; to learn and grow from them even.  In those dark moments I thought to myself, “If I could just know who I am, I could overcome my problems!”  My question was, how could I know myself?

Like many of us, if not all, we have been taught how to behave since childhood.  Stuffing our emotions is often part of that learning.  As we grow we become more and more disconnected from ourselves, disconnected from who we really are.  Instead we play a role set out for us by society and our families.  This is normal for a society, but in my opinion, when the disconnect is strong, broken people are the result.

“Know thyself!” is an admonition given to us students by our teacher Tom Brown Jr. in Scout Class at Tracker School.  “Know thine enemy!” is the second.  “Sometimes thine enemy is thyself!” he states, almost an after thought, but likely is key to the awareness of self.  These are sayings handed down by the Apache Scouts, Tom says.  “Know thyself, and Know thine enemy,” seems to be a common theme in warfare.  Self awareness can help us learn if we are thwarting our own progress, if we are the enemy we face.

The Sacred Questions are the key to knowing ourselves.  “How am I feeling?  How can I heal it?  What more can I learn from this?” and many other questions that can spin off them take us on a journey of self discovery.  As we move through the layers of emotions and feelings, learning what we feel, why we feel this way, and what we can do about it, we move closer to who we really are.  Meaning, the emotions are not us but are reactions to things in our lives based on our experiences and the people around us.  The problem is the reactions are based on limited perspectives; what we can see and understand from our limited viewpoints.  Our perspectives are so limited we can in no way understand everything around us and therefore our feelings and reactions are skewed by our limited perspective.  In stronger terms, our perspectives and reactions are wrong simply because they are based on limited understanding.

What I am proposing is to get past the emotions and reactions which are the byproducts of our living experiences, and get to the pure self; the essence of who we are, which is hidden beneath the layers and layers of feelings and emotions.

When our class was sent out to our individual sit areas in the woods (where we could be alone) to do this exercise, we were given 45 minutes.  We wrote down each layer and why we felt that way.  I worked very hard to move through the layers because I had paid a lot of money for this class and I was going to get the most out of it!  Shortly, I found myself being distracted after each layer.  My mind would wander off in a day dream until I remembered the exercise and pulled myself back.  Going deep in those layers was surprisingly difficult.  There was some resistance by my physical mind; almost a little tantrum of not wanting to look for another layer, thinking there could not possibly be anything else, and being tired of the exercise.  This resistance was almost painful.

I remembered, though, when Tom sent us out he hollered after us in his booming voice, “If you think you have gone through the layers far enough, keep going!!!”

I am so glad I forced myself to move doggedly through the layers.  This exercise gave me a priceless gem of understanding.  I got to the point there were no more layers of emotions, only a vision of energy, symbolism which I understood, and a sense of who I am at the most pure level: strong, powerful, amazing.  I was shocked at that revelation and couldn’t help bawl my eyes out for the next half hour; not even stopping when we were called in, it was that uncontrollable.  I was full of joy and gratitude for what I saw/understood.  I can never forget that moment and the change it brought to my sad, hopeless and helpless little life.

I share this exercise with you.  Could you make use of peeling back the layers to learn who you really are?  Would this enable you to approach life from a greater understanding.

If you should choose to do this exercise you may share your results here.  I would love to see how it works for other people.

Conversation With Darkness

I sat on the wooden steps of my back porch.  Though the day was sunny and warm, the  feeling of darkness inside me was consuming.  The feeling was that of anger, fear, and hatred, but mostly hatred.  I wondered if the darkness was the influence of some evil spirit, or if it was a part of me, so I asked the darkness a sacred question, “Why are you here?”  Then I surrendered all thoughts and went to nothingness to see what would come to me as an answer.

The darkness said, “I’m here because I make you feel strong.”

‘That’s true,’ I thought, ‘I do feel strong when I am full of hatred.’  Again I asked the darkness, “Why are you here?”  I surrendered for the answer.

The darkness said, “I’m here to protect you.”

‘Hmmmm,’ I thought, ‘that’s interesting, I do feel safer.  When I feel this way, no one can get close to my heart.’  I asked the darkness, again, “Why are you here?”  I surrendered to see what would return.

The darkness said, “I make you feel powerful!”

‘Yes, yes,’ I thought, ‘you do.’   I asked again, “Why, are you here?” and surrendered for the answer.

I’m here to protect you because you won’t protect yourself!”  The answer was strong, emphatic, almost annoyed by my ignorance.

‘Yes, that’s true.’ I admitted, ‘ I don’t protect myself,’  I began to realize that this darkness was not such a bad thing after all.  It was keeping me safe.

Then I asked a different sacred question, “How can I heal this?”

When I surrendered for the answer, I saw pink flowers.  ‘OK, I thought, pink flowers . . . I like flowers.’

I asked again, “How can I heal this?”

I saw an alligator.

‘An alligator?  Really?  That seems odd, but OK.’  I asked again, “How can I heal this?”

I heard the darkness say, “Understand me.”

‘OK,’ I thought, ‘I’m beginning to understand.’  I asked again, “How can I heal this?”

I surrendered and heard, “Love me.”

I thought that was an unusual answer.  Why would the darkness want to be loved.  That was new to me.

I was beginning to understand that the darkness that surrounded me was a buffer of anger to keep others away.  For the first time in my life, I began to understand that there was more to anger and hatred that I had ever imagined.  Things inside me shifted.  My perspective was changing.  I was growing.  I felt grateful for the the darkness that protected me, and in that gratitude I felt love and appreciation for the darkness and all the feelings that were within that shadow.  To feel anger, fear, and even hatred is not bad, it is a part of life and our experience here on earth.  I had no clue, before, that those feelings existed for important reasons.  I had always thought those feelings were bad and I should not feel them.

Then I had a new thought and I asked the darkness, “What if I do protect myself?”

Immediately, the darkness began to dissipate, leaving behind a clear energy surrounding me, just as powerful as the darkness but without the feeling of hatred.  I perceived that if I would protected myself I would not need anger or hatred to protect me.

The next day I went out and bought myself pink flowers, and a little plastic alligator to put on my mantel.  Those feelings, anger, fear and hatred, which were once very confusing, had become clear and beautiful to me.  My curiosity served me well that day.  Asking the sacred questions* and knowing how to listen, to go to nothingness and surrender to the answers, taught me to understand and love a very misunderstood part of myself.

————————————————————————–Is all darkness as wonderful as this “protector” darkness turned out to be?  Is there darkness that is really evil?  What is the source of negative emotions?  Why is hatred so destructive?  Is there a good time to feel hatred?  The questions about darkness, emotions, and mental health, are endless.  Learning to ask yourself “sacred questions” and surrender to the answers inside yourself, being still enough, going to a state of nothingness and letting the answers come to you without controlling what the answer will be, is a skill that can be cultivated by anyone.  I have to thank Tom Brown Jr. for this technique.

*Asking the sacred questions and surrendering for the answers is something I learned to do in a philosophy class at Tom Brown Jr.’s Trackerschool (see resources).