We are continually creating myths regarding ourselves. In The Spiritual Awakening Guide I talk about how our mythic and archetypal selves are the last constructed level of our being– myth and symbol being a bridge between the truly ineffable (pure spirit) and the constructed layers of reality.
Put more simply, if we are interfacing with the Other we may lack words that can ever describe the wild, exhalatory terror, beauty, and expanse of such experiences.
We do have dance, art, poetry, breath (words) as well as symbol and myth that point to such experiences.
Such pointing does allow for some of that beauty and terror to filter through to others who are looking to interface with the Other, or who are looking to interface with it in a new way, but when something moves from what can be only deeply felt and directly known to related, some aspect of falseness, however small, arises.
The best way I have heard our relationship with the “Other” described is through the “hedge” metaphor: within the hedge is what is known, established as fact, and the personal, familial, and societal-religious constructs that make up our conditioned reality.
To go beyond such a hedge means moving beyond a mind that seeks approval from such conditioning, that requires control, dominion, and to feel safe or at least complacent in such a known. We know what to expect from ourselves, from one another, and from our reality within the hedge.
In The Body Deva, I talk about how at the base of our being, we have a central myth that propels us into being. We may have many myths regarding ourselves, and although they can in some regard motivate us, they are restrictive energies because such myths tie us to expected behavior and an expected trajectory.
Such myths can also come from a deeply wounded place, and can serve to perpetuate wounding patterns or loops.
The main way we create our ways of being in this world are through loops. Loops are the repeated thoughts and patterns of being that we find ourselves doing.
We repeat the same phrases, find ourselves doing the same things again and again, or perhaps find ourselves dating the same type of person and having the same arguments again and again. Or perhaps we are in the same relationship and continue to have the same pattern of relating, the same arguments.
Loops primarily come from trauma. When we experience trauma that cannot be processed or resolved at the time, energetically the aspect of ourselves that was traumatized becomes frozen in that experience. That aspect of ourselves then “loops”: it recreates the same scenario, the same beliefs, again and again in the outer world.
Ideally it does this to find resolution and healing. But most of us lack conscious awareness of our loops and so we act out personal as well as transpersonal loops: the traumas of our family, ancestors, and past lives, again and again, without awareness.
We do not create the world. We externalize our inner reality onto the world. This is the basics of “shadow work”: the usage of the external world to see what we have to heal within. What creates reaction in us beyond an understandable or appropriate response for the situation is showing us something that lies unhealed within.
What we project onto the world are these loops– we are constantly casting characters in a play based off of our loops. The most common loop is that of small child looking for mother. Or father. We may spend our entire lives looking for the mother or father that our inner five year old never received the appropriate care from.
We look towards our gurus, teachers, relationships, friendships, and other places, continually casting this character of “mother” or “father” to play out this loop. The difficulty is that we are going to find someone casting their own play, and we are likely to find someone with the same exact wound as our own to engage in this loop with.
The other difficulty is that it is not our current selves that are looking for their mother or father. It is our inner child, and unless that inner child is healed, the recreation of this loop by our adult selves is never going to be satisfactory because the cast role or play is never going to be quite right because it is playing out in the present day and with different players.
Beyond trauma, loops are also created out of societal and religious conditioning, as well as biological mechanisms. These are the sort of layers of awakening– first we awaken to our own trauma, as well as transpersonal trauma (family, past lives, ancestry), then we begin to awaken to conditioning, and finally we come across biological and atavistic instincts.
Our loops in large part come from trauma. They also may come from a long-past biological instinct and/or survival instinct.
Put simply, if we had fire at one point when another person did not that might have meant our very survival.
While there can be a discussion of many different kinds of loops, the most basic form of looping is the superiority-inferiority loop.
All loops have internal and external components to them. The superiority-inferiority loop is one we enact in the outer world because we do not have the consciousness to recognize that we are projecting our inferiority complexes onto external reality.
As far as externalization, this loop can be enacted in a few ways.
First, we can externalize our shadows (the rejected aspects of self, what is unknown or unconscious within us) of competency and mastery onto others. There are many teachers, gurus, bosses, and so forth who are participating in this myth that are only too happy to accept people believing that they are special, chosen, enlightened, and so forth.
While there are certainly individuals who may be more conscious, competent, and skilled at whatever area we are talking about, beyond a certain threshold of consciousness, what you realize is that everyone is enlightened– we just may have a lot of “gunk” covering that up.
A competent guru or teacher in the spiritual space will not re-create or perpetuate this myth, but see others beyond it. Their role is to help others see their own light. Anything else is a perpetuation of this loop.
Second, we can maintain that we are “superior” and “special”, or continually point to others that we feel are inferior to ourselves. This is also an aspect of our shadow.
If we do not feel inferior, we do not need to spend our days convincing others how special, enlightened, and so forth we are, or continually find ourselves pointing to our shadows of inadequacy in the outer world.
What happens when we are traumatized is that we become isolated and disconnected. Out of that initial rejection, we create mythologies regarding ourselves. This is often a myth that will allow for the wounded inner child to continue isolation or separation patterns to ensure safety.
A mythology of superiority or being “special” is then created by the individual and they can spend their entire lives believing this perpetuated mythology. It is only by questioning who needs to believe such a mythology that the wounded and isolated inner child is seen.
I have met so many individuals in this space that spend an incredible amount of time saying how much other people suck, or how they are not “real”. They continually create mythologies about being “chosen” or having “special knowledge” because they are externalizing their inner insecurities and shadows onto others.
This is the superiority-inferiority loop: if we point to others, that means that we are setting up an illusory binary in which we are “real”, superior, enlightened, have mastery or attainment because other people are inferior.
If you have any sort of interface with the Other and see what is commonly sold about some of the topics that I discuss: kundalini, spiritual awakening, shamanism, etc. much of what is being sold and bought is quite silly.
Often it is perpetuating this very loop and the mythology of being special and thus superior. People then take on this mythology, rather than doing the hard task of wondering why such a mythological construct is needed, or what in them truly feels inadequate or not special.
Of course education is necessary, but discerning the motivating factors behind our actions and words is always key.
Quite simply, most people are just fine within the hedge. Moving beyond it requires considerable amounts of personal responsibility as well as deconstruction of personal and collectively conditioned reality.
Realizing and feeling compassion for people being where they are, and realizing why people create and participate in the loops they do, can allow for there to be acceptance of what is, both within and without.
The shadow that really broke me of this loop was a reasonably well-known author whose every post was about how new-agers are horrible. A friend gave me his book, and I realized that he was a very wounded five year old who had set up his whole existence by projecting this new-ager aspect of himself onto others. He was a new-ager, quite simply, but as he was a few steps beyond the people he was pointing to, he could always find more external people to be angry at.
This led me to realize that in the modern world, we are profoundly spiritually orphaned, and that even though I have been a spiritual worker professionally for fifteen years, there will always be a part of me that is impacted by Western christianized, psychological spiritual frameworks.
Taking back projections like this one are always difficult. This loop is so incredibly pervasive, and we create mythologies in large part because they not only explain our existence but we can project our inner pain onto them. It is a lot to ask someone to consider to deconstruct them, but it is well worth our time to do so.
My book, The Body Deva, allows for someone to heal these loops. It is a method of body-based self-inquiry, and working with the book at a more in-depth level you can begin to use the world as your shadow, and recognize your loops, and ask where in your body you are holding them, and to resolve what lies unhealed within them.
Mary Mueller Shutan is a spiritual healer, teacher, and author of several books aimed at helping people undergoing kundalini awakening, spiritual awakening, and healing from trauma. You can read more about her here.