It is difficult to find places where we are free to ask the questions that beg to be asked, where it is safe to say what needs to be said, where we are encouraged to step beyond the normal and customary, where we are allowed to be who we are. AA and Quaker Meetings are the two places in my experience that come closest to being Communities of Innocence, but even they have standards of acceptability that inhibit or prohibit free expression and exploration of topics that demand/require the freedom of expression and exploration. In both of those places, we know what we can say and not say, do and do not, and have to fit in in order to belong. That leaves us with Jungian analysis and psychotherapy as the only places I know of where we can say what needs to be said and ask what begs to be asked-- in order to see what needs to be seen and know what needs to be known-- and how many people can afford the luxury of that kind of acceptance, for how long? Which means we can only be so awake, only so aware, only so honest, only so alive... Because we can be only so safe. We can't even be safe alone with ourselves! We need the counter-balance of another perspective, of other human beings, to listen us to the truth of who we are, and also are, and enable us to bear the pain of that truth, of the truth of full realization. We need a community of innocence within which to do the work of seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing, doing, being, becoming. And our best chance of finding what we need is to create it ourselves-- to build around us a community of three-to-five people who are safe places to be, with nothing to gain or lose by listening each other to balance and harmony, realization and illumination, beyond what we all have to gain and lose, namely balance and harmony, realization and illumination.
We do not know what we have to say until we start talking. And then, we are afraid of what we might say, so we stop talking. This is the Dilemma of Truth. We are dying to know and be known, and terrified of what that may mean. So we die unknowing and unknown. We have to summon the courage to bear the pain of facing the truth of who we are and also are. This is the Buddha under the Bo Tree, and Jesus in the wilderness, and everyone who has walked into an analyst's, or a therapist's, office and remained there for the duration. Carl Jung said a couple of things pertinent to my point: 1) "There is in each of us another, whom we do not know." 2) "We are who we have always been, and who we will be." What we fear is right there all the time. It only takes acknowledging what we already know. And acting in light of that knowledge in transforming our relationship with ourselves, our life and other people. Here, Rumi's poem, "The Guest House," points the way. Googleit. The healing process flows from and leads to self-realization and self-acceptance. Nothing happens without that. We grow up against our will all the way. Whose side are we on, anyway?
The thing we keep forgetting is that we have to walk two paths at the same time. All of the time. For instance, we have to live truthfully, and the truth is forbidden where we live. So we have to sneak around. Saying/doing what is true when and where we can, and not saying/doing what is true when and where we cannot-- but knowingly knowing what we are doing all of the time. We play the game of being truthfully duplicit when necessary. Always the rule: Do what is necessary. Do what is called for. In each situation as it arises. It is necessary to not be truthful in situations where truthfulness is not permitted and puts us in danger. We walk two paths at the same time in a thousand ways. We do it by keeping one eye on the other path and one eye on this path, always aware of what we are doing, and doing what is called for, embracing duplicity, for instance, where we must, as the price we have to pay to be true to ourselves in situations where truth is not permitted.
Friedrich Nietzsche thought of maturity as "a wheel rolling out of its own center." That thought works best for me if I modify it to a gyroscope turning out of its own center, relentlessly and constantly maintaining its own balance and harmony through all conditions and circumstances of life in each situation as it arises. A mature individual remains consistently on even keel no matter what is going on in their life-- because of their being grounded in their sense of balance and harmony and anchored to the rock of what is deepest, truest and best about them and their life. They know what matters most and will not be knocked off that foundation by anything that arises in a day to challenge their equilibrium and their focus on being true to themselves and their orientation to their axis mundi. They do what is needed, when it is needed, where it is needed, the way it is needed, because it is needed, moment-by-moment, situation-by-situation, all their life long, no matter what. That's maturity for you. May it be so with us all throughout what remains of the time left for living!