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Reply To: The Power of the Personal,” with Mythologist Dennis Slattery, Ph.D.”


    Dennis; Yes my name is James; and thank both you and Shaheda so very much for responding to this question of mine concerning Shame. Yes; as you both surmise this is a huge issue I think that needs so much more attention than it’s been getting and I think in large part because most people don’t really know what it is; but even more important how crippling it can be. Not only is it so hard to talk about; social media and society in general shun any attempt at revealing one’s inner weaknesses and pain because it also exposes their own inner wounds for possibly being criticized as well. So masks are created to hide our pain; often for some through persona devices like self-aggrandizement or more importantly through certain social behaviors like “bullying”. To make another feel small or less important by hiding their own vulnerability this behavior also re-enforces other negative social behaviors like lying or deception which are other ways or forms this infection of the soul is allowed to fester. It is a “Hydra or Medusa” of the worst order; that as you both have illustrated can also be the source of tremendous personal transformation if realized; but herein lies the difficulty I think because to understand and access these wounds one must also realize not only what caused them; but how to heal them.

    Dennis; your lecture on this issue I think provided a very important insight that was further addressed in  Michael Meade’s lecture that same week on one’s “Inner Genius”; when he talked about where our “Inner Genius” lies which is behind our pain and our wounds. But he also approached this critical need by adding another way to think about it which you also addressed by personal writing. Meade said that there is an inner desire to not only “Witness” our inner self; but also it is just as important – “to be Heard”! I think here is one of the greatest gifts humanity has to offer itself; because by entering into a dialogue with our inner personhood and sharing it with both with oneself as well as others we allow others to also become vehicles of healing and wholeness; and the raising of consciousness itself. And whether one’s inner process of dialogue is instigated through journaling, through support groups, or through just sharing one’s pain through that most important of human relationships – (that of Friendship); we become more than just an individual; we become part of our larger community of human family; we become that realization of what Joseph and so many others throughout history have referred to as: “you and the other are one”. And we are not alone; left in the darkness or our own human suffering! For instance if we consider the definitions below:

    “Nihilism” is the belief that nothing matters. Existentialism is the attempt to confront and deal with meaninglessness…to not succumb to nihilism or despair: to not give up or avoid responsibility.”

    Then we must come to terms with the questions of not only: who we are; why we are here; and what does our life really mean; but more importantly how we can answer them.

    I think there is incredible angst going on in the world right now that not only the Covid crisis has opened up; but this sense that because the ecology is in such dire straights looking ahead that we feel alone and abandoned to helplessness and that our ability to make sense of our existence so often hinges on this ability to reach out and express these things by sharing our fears and our deep inner pain. And these aspects and dimensions of our lives as you both point out; can in many ways be both the source as well as the springboard toward a much larger potential of who we can become. But it is within this internal cocoonlike metamorphosis that we must often retreat to evoke the necessary inner alchemy for this transition of transformation to start. And at the bottom of this Dragon’s lair lies “Shame”; waiting to be realized as the child within us all asking to be recognized and given voice to speak.

    (I hope this long drawn out explanation makes sense; because I think this particular issue lies at the very root and heart of much that is going on right now. Suicide rates are exploding; and people are crying out for help to express something they don’t understand. As Joseph mentioned in different ways in different situations that if people don’t address these deep inner needs they risk a schizophrenic crackup because they don’t know what it is that’s ticking inside them. We have fears and repression and anger that needs to be unraveled and understood. Not everyone can afford an analyst; “but everyone can make and be a friend”. That’s Joseph’s theme song he often mentioned of: “the joyful participation of suffering with someone in the sorrows of the world”; and by going into your cave and getting to know your minotaur or your dragon and sharing your fears and sorrows; whether on paper, on your hard drive, through your intimate relationships; or even helping a total stranger in need we become that thing we are searching for; that longing to be whole when we fell from the metaphoric Grace of Eden’s Garden of our Shame; and we are to find that Jesus or Buddha that lies within us all.)

    Again; thank you both so very much for listening and responding to this issue; I have more to add for I think it is a very critical concern right now ; especially with Covid raging across the planet and it’s new variants starting to emerge that may be even more dangerous than what we have been dealing with at present. And then there is climate change and global warming looming in the distance. Not to sound alarmist; but I think it’s so important that we will need to be able to use every emotional resource we have at our disposal looking forward to what Joseph called: “our freefall into the future”. I think is this more than evident when one looks at the news; and even though Joseph stated:” the world is a mess and you are not going to change that reality. What we can do is change ourselves and the way we understand our interior. And I think understanding Shame is one place real inroads can be made.