Tag Archives: judgment

Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening

I’m going to share a list of 12 symptoms of spiritual awakening that I found on Face Book, formulated by David Avocado Wolfe in “recoverytradepublications.com.” But I’d like to focus briefly on three of them which pertain to the subject of judgment: 9) A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others; 10)A loss of interest in judging others; 11)A loss of interest in judging self.

Philosophy posits the notion of “the faculty of judgment.” My take on this notion is the necessary function of interpretation of our environment and even of our own subjective world. With this “function” we carve our world up into “categories” which is much related to the task of assigning words or “names” to things. And in so doing, we are accomplishing what my background in clinical work describes as “object separateness.”

But this very important and necessary function of our psyche sometimes can run amok and we use it to isolate ourselves from life, hiding behind these “categories” even to the extent that we even know our “self” only in terms of “categories.” We have subscribed to the cultural demand to become “objectified” and in some sense lose our very soul. We become an “idea” and cease to be a fluid, dynamic, subjectively alive spirit.

My life has been a fine example of this problem. I will soon wrap up a 20 year career as a licensed mental health professional in which I utilized my “diagnostic knife” to help the “mentally ill.” And this role in our culture was, and is, a valuable and necessary role. But I realize now even more than then that this clinical detachment was present in my life from my earliest years and that I’ve used to “stand up there” and make detached observations about people, my world, and even my self. I sometimes call it my “god complex.”

W. H. Auden once noted, “We drive through life in the closed cab of occupation.” I still have that “closed cab” of detachment but, having gained this insight, it is much less “closed.” I have gained insight to what I’ve been doing and am much better at just turning it off, recognizing that whatever I am observing “just is” and does not always need my labels or interpretation.

Here are Mr. Wolfe’s list of “Symptoms…”

  1. Frequent attacks of smiling.
  2. An increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
  3. Feelings of being connected with others and nature.
  4. Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
  5. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience.
  6. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
  7. A loss of ability to worry.
  8. A loss of interest in conflict.
  9. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
  10. A loss of interest in judging others.
  11. A loss of interest in judging self.
  12. Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything.

Auden on Judgment and Grace

W. H. Auden is one of my the most important influences in my life. He offers a stunning insight into the human heart and its complex machinations, including in the area of spirituality. I’m sharing here a paragraph from “The Sea and the Mirror,” in which he brilliantly describes the Christian mystery of judgment and grace, poetically juxtaposing the two so that we can see them as something other than mere concepts in reference to a concrete God in the sky, “out there” but something intrinsic to the human experience. You might want to use “google” with some of his terms and images. For example, that “wind-whipped cornice” and our wills “chucking” in our hands made more since when I did some research.


Yet, at this very moment when we do at last see ourselves as we are, neither cosy not playful, but swaying out on the ultimate wind whipped cornice that overhangs the unabiding void—we have never stood anywhere else—when our reasons are silenced by the heavy huge derision—There is nothing to say. There never has been,-and our wills chuck in their hands—There is no way out. There never was,—it is at this moment that for the first time in our lives we hear, not the sounds which, as born actors, we have hitherto condescended to use as an excellent vehicle for displaying our personalities and looks, but the real Word which is our only raison d’être. Not that we have improved; everything, the massacres, the whippings, the lies, the twaddle, and all their carbon copies are still present, more obviously than ever; nothing has been reconstructed; our shame, our fear, our incorrigible staginess, all wish and no resolve, are still, and more intensely than ever, all we have: only now it is not in spite of them but with them that we are blessed by that Wholly Other Life from which we are separated by an essential emphatic gulf of which our contrived fissures of mirror and proscenium arch—we understand them at last—are feebly figurative signs, so that all our meanings are reversed and it is precisely in its negative image of Judgment that we can positively envisage Mercy; it is just here, among the ruins and the bones, that we may rejoice in the perfected Work which is not ours. Its great coherences stand out through our secular blur in all their overwhelmingly righteous obligation; its voice speaks through our muffling banks of artificial flowers and delivers its its authentic molar pardon; its spaces greet us with all their grand old prospect of wonder and width; the working charm is the full bloom of the unbothered state; the sounded note is the restored relation.


(If Auden interest you, you might check out the following link: http://thepoetrycollection.wordpress.com/w-h-auden-1907-1973-in-sickness-and-in-health/)


(NOTE: One reader recently made some suggestions about technical improvements I could make on my blog. I am not very savvy re the technical dimensions of WP but am trying to learn and do appreciate any suggestions you might have.)

Ego-Ridden, Ersatz Spirituality

I’ve shared here several times that Richard Rohr steal’s my thoughts. He continues to do that and is rich and famous and I am still poor and unknown. Life is just not fair! In today’s email he again chides Christians for their “dualistic” thinking and points out how the ego is hard at work in this process. It is really unnerving to realize that something as personal as one’s faith can be little more than an ego function, an escape from life, and not the expression of the Divine that one purports it to be. And that is what I’ve had to learn and am continuing to learn about my own faith. But when this truth began to sink in, the first faint glimmer of light dawned in my soul allowing me to see the darkness in which I lived. And I still live in this “darkness” and will always do so even as that “glimmer of Light” brightens each day. For, I now know…and feel…more clearly what the Apostle Paul meant when he declared that “we see through a glass ‘darkly'”.

Let me explain just one facet of the ego’s presence in the spirituality of my early life. One of the first things I learned as a child was the distinction of “saved” vs “unsaved”, a distinction which paralleled the infinite variety of other distinctions I was learning as my innocent world was being carved up into various categories. And, of course at some point I learned that I could recite the correct syllogism, the magical words, and presto I would join the club of “the saved.” This bifurcation of the world followed me through the first half of my life as I hid behind the facade of being “saved” and from that subjective prison lived and felt separate from the whole world, radically disconnected. Now, I didn’t know about this disconnection as I participated in a “saved” culture which daily reassured me that I was “one of them” because I spoke the right language and lived the right life…at least out in public! However, there was always unrest in my soul, an unrest which in the middle of my life began to grow and became a veritable tumult which is now blossoming fully in my life. But this “tumult” is merely the experience of life unfolding in my heart as it opens up and becomes, “filled with penetrable stuff” as Shakespeare once put it.

Rohr presents spirituality as a “personal” phenomena, not an ideology. Spirituality is not a mind-set or a template through which we are to view the world as “out there” and needing to be made like me. Spirituality is the process of letting boundaries down and seeing the connection between “me and thee” and between the whole of God’s creation. And the process never ends. We never “get it” as there is nothing to “get”. It is a process. “Saved” and “unsaved”???? Well, the concept does exist in Christianity and most religions have some way of setting themselves apart and reassuring its followers that they are “special.” I now feel that the only “saving” I am responsible for is the saving of my own soul…a life long process which always involves relationships with other people…and which the Apostle Paul had in mind when he instructed us to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” This “fear and trembling” is the tumult I alluded to earlier.

Here is Rohr’s observations for today:

Resistance to Change
Friday, March 21, 2014

Sadly, the mind trapped inside of polarity thinking is not open to change. How else can we explain the obvious avoidance of so many of Jesus’ major teachings within the Christian churches? Jesus’ direct and clear teachings on issues such as nonviolence; a simple lifestyle; love of the poor and our enemies; forgiveness, inclusivity, and mercy; and not seeking status, power, perks, or possessions have all been overwhelmingly ignored throughout history by mainline Christian churches, even those who so proudly call themselves orthodox or biblical.

This avoidance defies explanation until we understand how dualistic thinking protects and pads the ego and its fear of change. Notice that the things we Christians have largely ignored require actual change to ourselves. The things we emphasized instead were usually intellectual beliefs or moral superiority stances that asked almost nothing of us—but compliance from others: the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, the atonement theory, and beliefs about reproduction and sex. After a while, you start to recognize the underlying bias that is at work. The ego diverts your attention from anything that would ask you to change, to righteous causes that invariably ask others to change. 1 Such issues give you a sense of moral high ground without costing you anything (e.g., celibate priests who make abortion the only sin). Sounds like an ego game to me.

Whole people see and create wholeness wherever they go. Split people split up everything and everybody else. By the second half of our lives, we are meant to see in wholes and no longer just in parts.
1. Adapted from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, p. 94
2. Adapted from Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,
p. 151