Keeping it real with Teal Swan!
Last night, we did an episode on our live stream show called shadow house, all about racism. It was by far the most frightening show I’ve done yet. To tell you the honest truth, it is much easier to simply raise my frequency to a perspective that does not facilitate any kind of identification with fear or pain. This is the vibrational space that I teach from. But when I am not deliberately focusing myself into that vibration, I am…where I am. Like anyone incarnated upon the earth, I am both shadow and light. I too, have pain relative to certain races of people and certain religions. I too, carry the wounds of my individual experiences. And the spiritual journey of my life is to marry those two perspectives.
For thousands of years there has been a strict rule among spiritual teachers. The rule is: be the role. It is considered career suicide to deviate from the role. It is considered career suicide for spiritual teachers to come clean about the shadows of their own psyche. It is a commonly held belief that no one wants to follow a teacher that is anything less than the perfect image of enlightenment. Enlightenment, like heaven has been treated like a goal. People want the promise that one-day it will all be over, whether that version of an end is the state of enlightenment or resurrection after death to a celestial paradise called heaven. But enlightenment is seen as a kind of retirement, like heaven. And we treat it like we treat retirement, as if it is the pay off at the end of a road of pain. When we are disillusioned by our spiritual teachers (who turn out to be real people too), we loose the dream of an end to pain and goodness. We feel betrayed. We feel the same way we felt as children when we found out that Santa Clause didn’t exist. And most spiritual teachers are too afraid of hurting people in that way. What’s more than that, most spiritual teachers are too afraid of the consequence of publicly airing their own dirty laundry in a world that expects that they have none. But the consequence of not doing so is covert corruption. Shadows have a way of making their way to the light. And so, for thousands of years we have seen story after story of spiritual teachers and leaders (who we all thought were perfect) whose dark sides have reared their ugly head. We come to find out that they are having sex with their students (young children even), or embezzling money, or pocketing money from charity donations or even acting as an accessary to (or committing) murder. If we, as spiritual teachers, do not confront our darkest shadows, they will remain forces that are hidden, covertly taking themselves out upon the world. And it does not serve our own wellbeing. Few people can truly imagine the pressure of trying to hide the skeletons in your closet from a world that keeps its eyes firmly fixed upon you.
When spiritual teachers pretend that there is such a thing as a state of enlightened retirement from the contrast of the world, they perpetuate a painful lie. They make it impossible to teach their students how to fall in love with the present moment and find joy right here and now because they promise them a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The lie is: it is possible to live as a physically incarnated being without experiencing that which is unwanted. Contrast (the experience of both that which is wanted as well as that which is unwanted) is what fuels expansion, which is the entire reason we came into these lives that we are living. If we find a state of being where there is no longer any contrast, we will cease to be physically incarnated. There is no longer a reason to be alive.
It does not serve people to believe that enlightened perfection is possible. It keeps us desperately grasping. It keeps us constantly aware of our shortcomings. It makes us believe in a vertical world, where it is possible to be better than or less than someone else. It makes us put those who we perceive as perfect, on a pedestal and in the process, forget the capacity of our own power. It makes us believe that there are things about us that need to be eradicated in order for us to be good or to be loved. We condemn ourselves for where we are when we believe that enlightened perfection is possible. And because we cannot openly own up to where we are, we cannot find healing for the actual issue. We only put Band-Aids on top of gangrenous wounds.
It does not serve me as a spiritual teacher to continue to perpetuate the role we have been playing for so many years. It does not serve me as a spiritual teacher to lie to those who exalt me for the objective truth of my perspective. It does not serve me to let fear bury the truth of who I am when I am in the public eye. This is a new age that we are living in. A time when people will come into a knowing of their own god-hood. Conformity to an ideal, no longer serves us. It cooks us in the furnace of self-suppression. And I have decided that even if it kills me, I am going to lead this shift by example; knowing that when I expose myself, I give people permission to be where they are without making them wrong, unlovable or bad for it.
The entire reason I started shadow house as well as this blog, was for the sake of transparency. On a personal level, there is an ineffable freedom when there are no longer any secrets. A freedom that I believe is an unclaimed birthright for everyone in existence. On a worldwide level, we are all sick of the façade. I’m sick of the pain that this façade causes people. It perpetuates self-hate and disillusionment. And in the absence of the nitty gritty truth of where we are, we cannot find our way to where we want to go. There is no healing to be had. It is like trying to use a map to get to a destination, but being unwilling to admit to where we currently are.
People who identify themselves as spiritual, do not often admit to the difficulty of practicing the art of alignment in the real-time, modern world. But I can tell you that spiritual practice is a lot easier when it is being practiced from an isolated monastery or ashram somewhere. But regardless of whether we have isolated ourselves from the world to practice or walked right into the bowels of the world to practice, spiritual practice is still difficult. And it is just that… A practice. It is a practice that cannot be mastered because source (also called god) is always changing. We feel guilty that we struggle with our spiritual practice. We feel ashamed of our shadow sides. We do not allow ourselves to indulge our true feelings because they do not line up with our vision of what a spiritual person SHOULD be. And I am done with it. I will be as unconventional as I need to be for the sake of demolishing this harmful condition.
I feel fear when I commit the cardinal sin of spiritual teacher-hood, by airing my dirty laundry in public. I feel fear when I expose my multiple Achilles heels to the world. I feel fear that people will withdraw their love, abandon me, write me off or even seek retribution. But the vision I have and the passion I feel for this change far outweighs my fear, as liberation always does. I know that many will not “get it”. But I am not catering myself to them. I am offering myself and my expository actions to those who will “get it”. I am not an authority figure, whose place it is to give or deny any one else permission; but sometimes feeling like we have permission from others, liberates us. So, I am offering myself to those who are as sick of the spiritual guru façade as I am and who are ready to act on the permission that I am giving them to be themselves completely; and to be wherever they are. Because of this, I am committed to owning up to my shadow and exposing my shadow to the world because I have decided that it is worth it, whatever the cost may be. And so it is.