Guru/disciple relationship dynamics and attachment traumas (English & German)

German translation of this blog by Silke Lira Blumbach

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Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 8.48.45 AMMy mother was raised in the French foster system. My father was a product of the Second World War and only reconnected with his mum when he was 10. As a result, they suffered from severe attachment trauma and shame. She was a discouraged borderline struggling with depression and he was a codependent that lost his ability to feel. Because my father was mostly absent, I was parentified and developed a fusional relationship with my mother. Both my sister and I could not receive in this family environment the emotional nurturing we needed to develop secure attachment. I coped by being the best at school and in general the best boy possible so I became the Golden Child and started building strong codependent tendencies. My sister struggled to cope in this family environment and became the Scapegoat and started developing borderline tendencies. When I was 9, our parents divorced. Mum could not cope anymore with the emotional unavailability of dad, and left overnight leaving both my sister and me behind to live with her new companion. She was clumsy in explaining to us her departure. At that point in my life, my mum was everything. She was a stay-at-home, we spent a lot of time together and I was meant to fill the emotional void my dad had left. We had a fusional relationship. While it is natural for a 9 year old to be dependent upon his mother, my dependency was even more pronounced, as she was so afraid of being alone. To make it worse, when she ran away, I was left with an emotionally unavailable father. My new stepmother was a petulant borderline. As a codependent, my dad needed to appear as the good guy so played sides instead of fighting for inclusion. As a result, she saw us as a clear threat to her relationship to our dad. This led to a second abandonment where my dad gave us away back to my mum and we hardly saw him after that. This second abandonment was very hard on me as I asked my dad to stay with him. Though he was an absent father, I had developed an intense fear around my mum unpredictability so felt safer to stay with him at the time instead of going back to mum. But he just gave me back to mum without even giving to us an explanation. As a result, my child self developed the core belief of being “bad”, in fact “very bad” for parents not wanting to be with me. And shortly after being reunited with mum, both sets of parents had a baby son. This reinforced how bad we had to be that we needed to be replaced. My goal in sharing this story is not to throw my parents under the bus as I have repeated myself many of their mistakes but to share with the readers how attachment traumas are created.

I coped with the deep core belief of being so bad by becoming a hyper-achiever. I had a bright mind and used it to my advantage to bury my core shame of being unlovable so that my achievements could give me the positive attention I was desperately craving for. To cope with my attachment trauma, all my focus turned into the goal of being admitted to Ecole Polytechnique, the most prestigious engineering school of France. To reach that goal, I worked insanely for the 2 years after high school. I would study until 12:30 AM every night and only give myself Saturday afternoon to bike in the Cote d’Azur countryside. As it was a national exam, I was competing with the brightest and most hard-working students in my age category in France. I became interested in the occult as a short cut to become super smart as I felt being the best was the only way I could be loved. Actually many kids today that are fascinated by the Marvel super hero movies and comics feel very powerless and out of control as they feel unlovable in their present state. I ended up not making it to Ecole Polytechnique but to the second best engineering school of France Ecole Centrale Paris, which was an excellent achievement. While I thought reaching my goal would bring me happiness, the opposite happened. I had lost the goal that was distracting me from my misery. I felt distressed and I could not explain why. I did not feel I belonged anywhere. I started drinking heavily and my connection with women was limited to meaningless one-night stands. masterI started developing a profound disgust to myself. I had read lots of books from Osho Rajneesh (see documentary Wild Wild West on Netflix) and I enjoyed very much his provocative insights, vast knowledge and wisdom. One day, when I felt particularly miserable and was looking for an answer, I drew a card from his tarot deck. It was the Master card, the 79th card in Osho’s tarot deck. I interpreted the meaning of this card that I had to find a master because I felt so stuck. Awakening felt like the answer to my suffering. An occult group in Paris was leaving bookmarks in Osho Rajneesh books. It was called The Fellowship of Friends that proclaimed to be a fourth way school following the teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, two famous Russian mystics. Osho spoke frequently of Gurdjieff in his books. I contacted them and after three prospective meetings, I was determined to join to put an end to my misery and isolation.

Goethe-Room-DinnerAt first, my experience in the cult was exhilarating. I felt an intense sense of belonging, I was given a new meaning for my life, I was surrounded with many smart, mature and wise people, my mind was stimulated by new and fascinating esoteric knowledge, my ego was gratified by feeling among the chosen ones and having a direct connection to God (called Influence C in that group), I was developing deeper connections with people and my life became full of new exciting experiences and adventures. Being in a cult at that time was actually an improvement to my state compared to the powerlessness, isolation, addiction and depression that I had been struggling with. Actually, a lot of people go from substance or sexual addiction to becoming fundamentalist newborn Christians, this is actually an improvement too. There is a reason why the 12-step program is so religious.

Robert Earl Burton, Self-Proclaimed Avatar of the AgeIf you want to better understand the type of cult I joined, you may be interested to watch the documentary Holy Hell on Netflix. Both my cult leader Robert Earl Burton and Michel Rostand in Holy Hell are megalomaniac and homosexual predators. They believe they are fully awakened. They are highly manipulative and believe that it is an honor to be used by them. They are very authoritative and exercise full control over the life of their members. Robert’s group the fellowship of friends was a bit larger than Michel’s as it reached over 3,000 members at its prime time. Robert demanded 10% of every member income, sex from any male member he found attractive (most of them being heterosexual and having no interest to have sex with a man) and compliance to his instructions as he saw himself more evolved than Christ himself.

HOLY HELL (2016)In most cases unfortunately, a guru/disciple relationship is nothing else than a narcissist/co-dependent relationship. It is a dysfunctional relationship where needs are met in ways that are destructive, manipulative and covert. What is the dynamic of this dysfunctional relationship? Because of their attachment traumas, the co-dependents have developed core shame and believe they are bad and as a result, there are unable to see their own light. They have disown their light and their guru has disowned his shadow. The relationship that they are developing with a narcissistic guru will then reflect their unworthiness and they are therefore a perfect match to their cult leader because of their core belief of being bad. The codependents are attracted to the charm, boldness, confidence and domineering personality of the narcissist. The codependents reflexively give up their power; since the narcissist thrives on control and power, there is an intense attraction between them. The narcissist guru find recruits who lack self-worth, confidence and who have low self-esteem — codependents. Through smart manipulation the narcissist leader is able to conceal his lower motives and maintain an unsullied reputation—at least in the beginning. They are often highly intelligent, possess esoteric information that is very attractive to their followers, and are well aware of mind control techniques. Most use the technique of undermining the follower’s sense of self by subtle criticism or exposing personally embarrassing situations to trigger their core shame—all this in the name assisting the person to transcend ego. They establish their superiority over their followers by claiming super powers that cannot be verified. For example, Robert would claim “I have fully developed higher centers”, “I live in a pure state of presence & being”, “I am omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent”. Anyone questioning the claims of the guru is shamed for lacking faith, devotion or is seen as disruptive for the group cohesion. Because co-dependents have such fear of abandonment, they typically err on the safe side by unconditionally siding with the guru’s views with the rest of the followers. Over time, even as the disciples become aware of the guru abuse, they look the other way, as they understand that the cult leader owns the relationships in the group and any opposition would mean ex-communication, which is perceived as the worst possible punishment for people with abandonment traumas. Once we have accepted the cult as our family, we are stuck. There is another important reason why it is so difficult to leave these dangerous cults. We have disowned our relationship to our Creator, God or Source and believed we are dependent on the group and the cult leader to access it. Leaving the group is then associated with cutting our connection to the divine, which is a deeply entrenched fear in humans. We have been controlled for millenniums by the fear of rotting in hell for eternity. When I announced my departure of the cult to Robert in 1996, he warned me that I would lose my connection to “Influence C” (i.e. God). At the end, I only lost my connection to a demon 😉

I had made the Fellowship of Friends my family, I was part of the cult inner circle, I had adopted the cult beliefs and language, I had very little connection with my blood family. So how was I able to leave it when I was only 23 confronting the cult leader Robert Earl Burton on my last day while so many other more mature, smarter and experienced members stayed stuck there for so many years?

  • First, I stayed in contact with a French healer Jacques who I intuitively felt had many more spiritual abilities than my guru who claimed to be God on earth. He helped my deprogramming in smart and subtle ways.
  • I was not completely dependent on the group as I just started a programmer job in Silicon Valley.
  • I rented a room in a house with an individual that had his own teacher Elias De Mohan, a remarkably psychic man that was not cultish. This again challenged Robert’s claim that he was the most conscious being on earth.
  • After attending so many Robert’s events, he looked like a parrot repeating the same thing over and over again so I did not feel I was learning anything new anymore.
  • The cult organization destroyed my relationship with a woman I was deeply in love with and built resentment toward the cult as a result.
  • I understood how wasteful Robert was with money and I did not want him to do this with 10% of my income now that I had a good job.
  • However, I think the biggest factor came from my own attachment trauma. I had lost my family already when I was a kid and knew I could survive it. Or maybe subconsciously, I wanted to re-experience the pain of losing my family again for healing purpose. In any case, my own trauma benefited me in this situation.

Most of my friends in the cult ended up only leaving the cult 13 years later after all the abuse was made public through this public blog.

In summary, here is what the cult member gets from the transaction:

  • The cult member gets his core belief of being unlovable, bad and unworthy validated, replaying childhood attachment trauma. Many co-dependents have learned that they only get loved by being down on themselves and making the other better than they are
  • The cult member gets belonging & connection with like-minded individuals. He gets a new family (with conditional love)
  • The cult members gets to experience the divine and higher part of them that they have disowned through the guru
  • The cult member gets a sense of (false) security through the guru self-confidence, assertiveness, and views on the meaning of life that are simple to understand
  • The cult member gets new goals and activities so that he does not have to face his own inner turmoil and demons anymore. He is given a new direction that prevents him to dwell more on his/her own misery so feels better as a result. Actually, many of these activities allow the individual to develop his creativity far more than what he was doing in the past. The caveat is that the guru is the one benefiting financially for the disciple newfound creativity, not the individual

img_0913These benefits provide enough value to the disciple that they will often surrender their free will, financial resources and even their own body to the leader. Disappointment with the leader, acknowledgement of the abuse will eventually force the follower to re-own his own power and needs, stand on his own feet to live his own life, a more authentic life. At this stage, the follower feels angry, betrayed and intense grief. What was heaven now seems hell. Eventually, they will need to digest this experience in more objective terms for true healing to take place. They feel like a victim but eventually needs to own how their own attachment traumas played a role to be a match to this experience. They will able to take responsibility for joining a cult and forgiving themselves for doing so. Actually, many people are able to create fulfilling and successful lives after a cult experience if they can learn all the lessons that came with it.

Paradoxically, cult leaders hold often even more core shame than their followers. Their shame is so repressed that they can only see it externally through their own disciples. We have to remember that cult leaders and followers, just like narcissists and co-dependents are simply the mirrored repressed aspects of each other. Many cult leaders are hyper achievers to cover up their own sense of inadequacy, and many have developed special abilities to maintain the illusion of personal greatness so that they would never have to face how bad they actually feel about themselves. Actually, both cult leaders and their members are in a state of dysfunctional and unhealthy dependency. The guru deals with his insecurity around that dependency by creating a large narcissistic supply of followers to ensure that his needs would always be met. It is actually harder for the guru to growth and heal as he has completely disowned his shame and buried his vulnerability. Actually, therapists see a lot of codependents but narcissists never come to their office. This is because narcissists can never admit there is something wrong with them while codependents are so good at finding fault within themselves as they have learned to get rewarded and receive love for showing their imperfection to the narcissist. All cult leaders suffered from severe trauma from their childhood that they never healed. Theo Dorpat wrote in his book “Wounded Monster” about the importance of Hitler’s (the most infamous cult leader of all times) childhood trauma to explain his destructive behaviors.

What does the cult leader gets from the transaction?

sai-babaIt feels alone at the top so actually the cult leader in most case does not get belonging or connection. He feels often alone and disconnected from others. They are unable to develop equal authentic relationships with others as they see the world in a hierarchical way. This is why so many cult leaders, especially if they are men, turn into sex addicts. Sex is the only way they can get the connection they desperately need. In general, the cult leader will get his followers to talk his or her love language whether it is act of service, words of affirmation, gifts, time together or touch to fill the void of their pathological loneliness. The bigger the void, the bigger the need for external adoration. The same pattern can be observed with stars and their fans, or with any narcissistic leader and their subordinates.

The leader gets tremendous energy from their followers and it typically feeds their lower shakras because of lack of purity and integrity: financial security with the first shakra, sexual gratification with the second shakra or power with the third shakra. This energy rarely reached the higher shakras because their character has been perverted: the fourth to experience pure love for their followers through service (ex. burning heart of Christ), the fifth to express it creatively, the sixth to lead with vision and the seventh to stay aligned with the rest of creation.

Ego is nothing else than the illusion of separateness. As the ego gets gratified, the identification with the ego becomes stronger and stronger and the connection with the authentic self weaker and weaker. They become sociopathic then psychopathic as their disorder develops. This means that they are able to cut their own unpleasant feelings through rationalization. As a result, they repress their own emotional pain & suffering which now become externalized in the pain & suffering of their followers that have not completely cut the connection to their heart.

Gurus are often high-functioning psychopath that display superficial charm, a grandiose sense of self, lack of remorse or empathy, lack of introspection, cunning behavior, lying, egocentricity, parasitic lifestyle, and more often than not, sexual exploitation. While their followers admire them, their psychological condition is often worse than the people they abuse. Behind close doors, they are deeply tormented and often resort to diverse addictions to shut the door of their own conscience torturing them. Their mental health is plagued with anti-social disorders, paranoia and self-hatred.

What do they need to heal? A collapse of their universe with people turning against them and keeping them accountable for their own actions. In 1996, during the third year at my cult, I went to Russia. The Soviet block had collapsed and there was a lot of interest for spirituality. I start giving there teaching dinners and running large meetings about the group teaching. The women were beautiful and I was falling in love every day. My success went to my head and I was becoming a mini-guru. The cult leader Robert Burton heard from others that I was taking too much liberty and I was reprimanded and fined at my return to the US. They crushed me and this is the best thing they could have done to downsize my ego that had got too inflated. Of course, the fact that he punished me for actions he would do himself behind people’s back did not sit too well for me and acted as a catalyst for me to leave.

Of course, not all spiritual teachers are narcissist or have dysfunctional parasitic relationship with their followers. What is most important for those seeking spiritual guidance is to keep their critical thinking alive as they approach any spiritual teacher. The questions they must ask ourselves are:

  • Does this teacher walk his/her talk? Does this teacher live by the precepts he/she teaches?
  • Is the teacher respectful of you? Do they automatically assume you are below them?
  • Do they have a grandiose sense of self?
  • Do you feel manipulated in any way by this person?
  • Do they require zealous, unquestioning commitment and subservience to the leader?
  • Is questioning, doubt, and dissent discouraged or even punished?
  • Is the group elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader and members?
  • Does the leadership induce feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members?
  • Do they encourage members to cut ties with family and friends outside the group? Are members encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members?
  • Does the group use subtle maneuvers to make it difficult for you to leave? Do they punish you if you leave? Are you ostracized if you leave the group?

TheLastRestoredDaVinciOnce these question are answered to your satisfaction, this somewhat suspicious stance can be relinquished in order to assimilate the instruction you desire, and to create an open-hearted relationship with your spiritual teacher.

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Love and Compatibility

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horoscopes-aquarius-love-compatibilityYears ago, I went to an Esalen couples workshop and the facilitator shared some wisdom that marked my memory. He said that intimate relationships need three key ingredients to become a lifetime commitment. First, the partners need to love each other. If the attraction is not there, they will never be able to commit and overcome all the obstacles they will inevitably face. Secondly, they need to be compatible as otherwise their differences (cultural, diet, interests, values, social class, etc…) will eventually erode the love they have for each other and turn any passionate romance into a nightmare. Thirdly, they need relationship tools and continuing relationship education to keep increasing their awareness and communication. The third point was an astute and clever way to promote their workshop 😉 I loved that recipe when I heard it. It made complete sense and it felt achievable at the time. I do not feel as hopeful today because I have observed that compatibility and love rarely go together. The person we are crazy about will always push our worst buttons. They will often stretch us to the point of collapse as they are meant to help us re-experience our deepest childhood traumas according the Imago theory. On the other hand, I have witnessed in my life and my friends’ life that we rarely experience chemistry with the people that we get along so well with. They make great friends and companions but poor lovers. We are facing a dilemma. If love & compatibility do not go together, which one is the most important to ensure a happy and fulfilling relationship? Should we favor companionship over passion?

29wedding-bhatnagarAn arranged marriage is a marital union where the families (parents, guardians, even extended families) of the bride and groom decide on the match based on a number of rational compatibility criteria rather than the couple choosing their own partner. In India, historically, most marriages have been arranged marriages. Divorce rates in India overall are pegged at about 1.2 percent vis-à-vis a divorce rate of about 53 percent in the US, a country where love marriages are the norm. Even in India, rates of divorce in love marriages are much higher than in arranged marriages. Actually, as many as 90% of all Indian marriages are arranged and 74% of young Indians (18-35 years old) prefer an arranged marriage to a free-choice one. So if we were to evaluate relationship success by their durability, marriages that were formed through compatibility instead of love were 44 times more successful!

6-ways-love-1The Greeks had six different words for love. They also valued Pragma (longstanding love) over Eros (sexual love). They did not think too of Eros as something positive. On the opposite, they viewed it as dangerous, fiery, irrational and as an addiction that will surely bring you to your demise. On the opposite, they praised Pragma, which was about making compromises to help the relationship work over time, and showing patience and tolerance even in the absence of love and passion.

Pierre_Corneille_2Classical French literature shares the same sentiment. Jean Racine, 17th century French dramatist, starts many of his plays with an all-consuming love story that is plagued with external obstacles: refusal from the beloved, family opposing the union, state matters, conflicting feelings such as guilt, leading eventually to tragedy. The other great 17th century French playwright, actor and poet Molière describes passion as a possession state that endangers our discerning and discriminating abilities. Reason should be preferred over passion at all times. Corneille, the other great French tragedian of that time, goes even further. In his plays, duty always wins over passion despite the initial internal conflicts. The hero is a master of himself and stays lucid in any situation.

CS-LewisMore recently, in the 20th century, the famous British novelist and poet C.S. Lewis is quite explicit in his book called The Four Loves. Lewis praises too arranged marriages over love unions. “I am not at all subscribing to the popular idea that it is the absence or presence of Eros which makes the sexual act “impure” or “pure”… If all who lay together without being in the state of Eros were abominable, we all come of tainted stock… Most of our ancestors were married off in early youth to partners chosen by their parents on grounds that had nothing to do with Eros. They went to the act with no other “fuel,” so to speak, than animal desire. And they did right; honest Christian husbands and wives, obeying their fathers and mothers, discharging to one another their “marriage debt,” and bringing up families in the fear of the Lord.” Lewis warns us against worshiping a false god in Eros “Of all loves [Eros] is, at his height, most god-like; therefore most prone to demand our worship. Of himself he always tends to turn “being in love” into a sort of religion. Theologians have often feared in this love, a danger of idolatry. I think they meant by this that the lovers might idolize one another… The real danger seems to me not that the lovers will idolize each other but that they will idolize Eros himself.” To Lewis, romantic love is simply doomed and short-lived “And all the time the grim joke is that this Eros whose voice seems to speak from the eternal realm is not himself necessarily even permanent. He is notoriously the most mortal of our loves… What is baffling is the combination of this fickleness with his protestations of permanency.”

Teasing-HerLet’s now leave these respectable historical minds and dive into the best seller (just after Harry Potter) of the 21st century “50 shades of Grey” from E.L. James that sold 125 million copies and was translated in 52 languages. I actually only got to see the movie trilogy for the first time with a friend this week. I had low expectations and actually the story plot was well thought out, at least much more than what critics expressed. I believe in the wisdom of popular success over expert opinions. Christian Gray and Anastasia Steele are clearly incompatible. He is a sadistic sociopath magnate that can only get turned on by dominating and objectifying women. She is an openhearted, sensitive and romantic virgin who wants an equal relationship with her man. Mrs Robinson, Christian’s first S&M mentor, is well aware of this incompatibility and attempts to warn the lovers about the futility of their union. Despite all odds, Christian gets actually transformed and healed through their love as he connects more and more to his heart. Anastasia gains a lot of self-confidence and personal empowerment through the relationship. The story shows the cathartic power of love. If Christian and Anastasia had been rational, saw clearly their incompatibilities and believed in them, they would have given up on each other. They chose love over reason and received the ultimate gift. Of course, this is an American novel with a happy end. The lovers get it all: passion and eternal love. Aspects of the story feel far from real life experience. The lovers handle their conflict with too much ease but we embrace this story novocain in our desperate need to believe that true love is possible and can last forever.

wp2147638It is true that most love stories driven by Eros rarely experience the same joyful fate. The statistics do not lie and love unions are marked by instability and are often short-lived. They are however more transformational and life changing than any other relationships. As I mentioned recently, I fell in love 6 times but none of these relationships have endured the test of time. Despite the pain of break-up, the heartaches, the conflicts and all of the challenges, they all have come with incredible gifts, accelerated my growth and transformed me more than any other experience in my life. Carole led me to the beginning of my spiritual journey when I was 19. I emigrated to the USA because of Laurence when I was 22. I left the cult I was a part of at 23 thanks to Janna. Danielle helped me heal the biggest trauma of my life (mum’s abandonment) and opened my spirituality to a new level. Alina catalyzed my success in the 3D world and gave me two beautiful children. Finally, Teal brought me to my authentic self, among many other gifts. Every one of these women has crushed me and it felt every single time that I would never recover. However, like a phoenix that obtains a new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor, I have been transformed and improved every single time. They have relentlessly killed the old and the false in me so that I could wake up to my true potential more than any books, workshops, spiritual teachers or organizations could have ever done. I just wish sometimes the process would be more gentle!

Chemistry-e1372102933765So I am going to go against accepted norms here. I am claiming that the center that governs our sexual attractions has actually the fastest and most sophisticated brain of all. In a fraction of a second, it can see the life-changing potential of associating with a partner. It is closely associated with our soul purpose. And soul does not care about pain, permanence or fairness. It only cares about evolution, awareness, inner growth and opening your heart. An intense chemistry is always reflecting a quality that the infatuated person needs to develop. In most cases, they need to open their mind and their heart to what they need instead of what they want. If Christian Grey had stayed stubborn that he needed a person that would accept all clauses of his S&M contract then he would have stayed miserably unhappy in isolation, and continued to destroy many other women in the process. Chemistry denotes a yearning of the soul for an important missing quality in the personality. The problem occurs when the gap between the soul and the personality desires is too wide to be bridged because of unresolved traumas. In this situation, break-ups are incredibly painful. We think we keep attracting the wrong type of partners but in fact we keep sending the wrong type of signals because we are not healed. Let me give you some examples extracted from clients’, friends and personal experience about the transforming power of love relationships.

  • A shrewd businessman is attracted a very sensitive woman but his lack of attunement keeps hurting the feeling of his beloved. If he is conscious that his behavior is triggering his loved one then this relationship has the potential to restore his sensitivity that was lost in the harsh and cold corporate environment.
  • An insecure and needy woman is attracted to an independent and self-confident. man. If he shows sensitivity to her feelings and that she becomes aware that her possessiveness and control dramas are coming from her fears then this relationship has the potential to support her self-confidence, healing and autonomy.
  • A materialistic and down-to-earth woman and a spiritual and introspective man fall in love. If there is enough love between them two, the woman will become more open-minded and introspective and the man will become more grounded in his spirituality.
  • A strong willed and emotional woman and a quiet, introvert and mental mind fall in love. This is an opportunity for her to use her mind to better channel her emotional state and for him to get in touch with his repressed feelings and become more sensitive.
  • An over controlling man fells in love with a fiercely independent woman. Through that relationship, he will learn to loosen his grip on control, jealousy and possessiveness. He will learn to become more spontaneous.
  • A super ambitious, successful and boasting man fells in love with a down-to earth, humble and self-sufficient woman that is able to challenge him when he is off. This relationship will be critical for his ego not to get out of control and take the better part of himself. This way, he will stay connected to people and not objectify them.

Incompatibility with love has tremendous healing power and can support us to become the best version of ourselves. It works best when the partners are aware of their weaknesses and sees how the relationship is supporting their growth.

alecanyonsAm I being the devil’s advocate to praise Eros over Pragma? In the center of my being, I can only hear these words resonate “Fuck Compatibility and Choose Love over Reason”. It may not be for everyone but this is my truth. The poet Khalil Gibran used to say “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”. Too much suffering can also drive a man to the psychiatric hospital. It is up to each one of us to decide how much adversity we can take and transform so that we can live our lives accordingly.

To be seen

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Men-vs.-Women-cartoon1It is a cliché that men and women feel loved a different way, and it is so true in many ways. Most men feel love primarily through sex and the common joke is that men think with their penis instead of their brain. The famous comedian Robin Williams used to say that the problem is, God gave man a brain and a penis and only enough blood to run one at a time.

Screen Shot 2018-07-07 at 8.24.51 AMWomen feel love primarily by being seen. They feel seen by getting a gift that shows we know what they like, by doing an act of service that we know they will appreciate (ex. cooking dinner on a night where we can feel they are exhausted, or taking the kids when we can see our spouse needs time for herself), by saying something nice and specific about her outfit or hairdo, by remembering special dates related to our love story, by selecting activities together that she enjoys, by noticing how she feels, by giving her heartfelt compliments about who she is as a person. What is important is that she has to feel unique, special and differentiated to show that you truly see her. This is why if you buy an expensive ring without making a conscious effort why this is the perfect ring specifically for her, the gift may not be appreciated. They will also not feel the love if you buy standard red roses, with a landmark card and balloon for Valentine’s Day or organize a trip a ski trip when she is really a beach person. Men feel always so confused about it and unappreciated. They performed the action, spent the money, made the effort but she is still not happy! It is because there was no conscious effort to make her feel seen in the offering and the man way of showing love was not differentiated. It has to be tailored in a way your partner feels seen as the unique person that she is, that you made the effort to understand who she is, and you have penetrated her inner world to do so.

So men try to make their partners feel seen to get laid. Women give sex to their men with the hope to be seen. It is often a frustrating transaction. How did we get there?

For a very long time, men were mocked to show any type of feelings as it evoked weakness. We were not allowed to show sadness, fear, shame, anxiety, grief, despair or helplessness if you were to be considered a real man. So we had to suppress all of these emotions. We were shamed and ridiculed for our feelings but we were always praised and envied by other men by mating with attractive women. This is why so much of our self-worth and identity has to do with sex. In this process of repressing our emotions, we lost the subtlety of being and the appreciation of the invisible things that make life magical. We lost touch with the incredible love to be experienced when we are seen as a person. So we compensated by being seen in ways that are very tangible and more quantitative: our material possessions, the physical beauty of our wife, our societal status, our medals, the school we are from, our profession, and all of our accomplishments. This may be comforting for the mind but it does nothing to our emotional being. In my career, I have met many very successful people with outstanding achievements but very few carried the radiance that you can see with genuinely happy and loving people.

A113I spent time recently with a friend and her 11-month-old baby. The baby kept frowning at me, which was funny, cute and surprising. The mother told me that when she saw this funny expression the first time on her baby’s face, she praised him a lot and gave him a lot of attention as she found it so adorable. The baby felt seen at that moment. So he is doing it now to everyone around because he is craving for being seen, as this is one of our most basic emotional needs. He does not understand yet you frown at people you are unhappy with. A lot of the attachment traumas we suffer come from the fact that we either have not been seen enough as a child (neglect) or seen in something unpleasant (abuse). It is so incredibly important for a baby’s development to be seen as a bundle of joy, which means to be adored, celebrated and treasured.

personality-in-relationship-to-self-awareness-1In my own interpretation of the Creation, God divided itself in trillions and trillions of life forms to see Itself. When he was One and non manifested, he could not see Itself, could not know Itself and could not love Itself. God, too, risked everything for the sake of love and fragmented as a result. When someone awakens, it is said they develop God consciousness. Basically, they are able to see God (or themselves) in everything and everyone. Seeing the spark of the divine in all of creation is the highest form of love we can ever experience. Loving is seeing one’s divine nature in the mirror of creation. First, we require very specific mirrors such as a twin flame to experience that state. Later, as our ego becomes more diffuse and less rigid, all of our creation can reflect our divine nature. Poets understand this more than anyone. A dog running on the trail, the scent of a rose, a river flowing, a sunset on the horizon, the smile of a child. All of it can remind us of who we truly are, so that we can feel seen and loved.

Screen Shot 2018-07-07 at 8.09.09 AMAs a number of my male friends, I have done poorly in my life making my partners feel seen. This has been an area where I struggled in all my love relationships despite my best efforts. I do not think my children felt seen by me too when they were younger and the same pattern limited so of my friendships for the same reason. My parents did not have parents when they were young so they never developed a sense of what it is to be truly seen, felt and understood. Most of our childhood traumas are more about what was not done to us rather than what was done to us. What is not healed in one generation is passed on to the next and I was no exception. An important event happened this week that may finally shift this pattern and this cycle of suffering. I was sitting with an older and very self-aware friend just trying to connect. For the first time of my life, I felt in my body the conscious sensation of being seen by him. I felt he could truly penetrate my world and see me. He made some insightful comments about me that made me feel differentiated and unique that brought tears to my eyes. For the first time of my life, I could understand somatically why women feel love when they are seen because I was this time on the receiving end and I could feel it myself with my whole being. Before, it had just been a mental concept for me, something I had to do to make my partner happy. I was not aware I had the same need to be seen too. I realized how to see each other is the easiest and more natural way of sharing love. And that sharing love is the most important thing we can ever do in our lives. I was bringing in me the capacity of feeling loved the same way the feminine does so naturally.

31-couple-texting.w710.h473We need to be very conscious of social media. Like every tool, it can be used in positive ways to stay connected with family, friends, acquaintances or fans. It can be a learning and marketing tool, a way to share information effectively, or a source of inspiration. But it can also disconnect us from each other. So many people now would rather be on their phone rather than really connecting to the people that are in their physical vicinity. We make them feel small, unimportant and unseen as a result of looking for that small dopamine high. Let’s remember that connection and making each other feel seen is our most powerful way to share love, and there is nothing more important we could do at any given moment. And if you need to respond to an urgent email or text, then consider the other person and consciously ask for their permission to do so.

737ccb255b38a1bb66fc17b21e8e7e00For millenniums, we dominated women but we lost ourselves as a result. We felt threatened by women because they could create new lives through childbearing when we could not. We felt desperate for the love of women and hated this dependency so we attempted to control them. Jesus was the living example on how to marry the divine masculine and divine feminine within us. The patriarchy that was in charge at that time felt very threatened and quickly eradicated any mention of the feminine from his teachings once they became mainstream. During a meditation, I received the transmission that the sign of the cross that most Christians practice had been in fact corrupted. It was supposed to be:

  1. In the name of the Father (right hand on the forehead)
  2. And of the Mother (right hand on the heart)
  3. And of the Son (right hand on the left shoulder)
  4. And of the Holy Spirit (right hand on the right shoulder)

Father is the Yang energy, fire. Mother is the Yin energy, water. From there, the whole world is created. The Son is Christ consciousness in a human body (Jesus of Nazareth), the union of the divine masculine and the divine feminine in one human body to show us that heaven on earth is possible. The Holy Spirit invokes our own responsibility to live a life that is aligned with our soul direction and the higher principles of this universe. So we felt so threatened by the feminine that we enslaved it. By doing so, we lost touch with the invisible world of feelings and impoverished our life in dramatic ways. We stopped perceiving subtle feelings and seeing the spiritual world. God, angels, guides and demons became myths and fables for the weak and superstitious. Science took over spirituality. While this was healthy in a way, we went too far the other extreme in order to compensate from the abuse of religions. We got trapped in a material world and our own material creations started to dominate us as most of our lives are now driven by material pursuits. We can only reverse this trend by bringing back the feminine. And we can do it by learning to love as a woman, by loving intimacy, being seen and being loved as we are seen for who we are. We can rediscover this truth in ourselves by really getting in touch with what feels good. It cannot be a mental process. Let’s ask ourselves what we are really looking for in a relationship and not forcing the answer. It is time for us to make the invisible a priority over the visible. The feminine is supposed to symbolize pure, unlimited, unrestrained and free flowing energy. The masculine has to do about focusing and directing this energy for manifestation but not controlling it. In the same way, when we try to control the energy of love, it goes away. Love goes with freedom and expansiveness. Through our inner work, we can reconnect with the spark of light that is pure love within us, and look for ways to reflect this light back through all of our relations.

Are you ready to marry the feminine and the masculine within yourself?