Lately we have been having blog conversations around sense of self. This morning I woke up with a “Boing!”-type thought about something AMANDA wrote yesterday. In her Comment #3 at Extra-credit points from being an empath, she wrote:
“… when I do think about identity at the moment it just becomes one set of Well, its for sure not that, or this after another leaving me feeling more and more comfortably separate from what you call the workaround sense of identity.”
Context for identity, or sense of self, often comes down to spiritual path. Many paths for spiritual development today are for renunciates, while others are for householders. Not that either is necessarily well labeled.
Today’s post will explore ways that a person might experience sense of identity, or definition of self, related to the single most important choice you will ever make in your lifestyle. Are you a householder or a renunciate?
Householder or renunciate, what’s the diff?
By definition, a householder positions consciousness in life to be out in the world, a human among humans. Householders engage in activities like these:
- Developing personal friendships, engaging fully in family relationships
- Pursuing ambitions, interests, and hobbies
- Exploring sex and intimacy
- Making money, enjoying shopping,
By contrast, a renunciate (or recluse or monk, or nun, or celibate-type priest) positions consciousness with God front and center. Renunciates engage in activities like these:
- Serving God through all relationships
- IN the world (reluctantly, to some degree) but not OF it.
- Pursuing the sole ambitions of higher states of consciousness and ever-greater service to humanity
- Celibacy, poverty
- Obedience to the guru or, lacking that, the community of fellow renunciates or religious order
To put this distinction into the language of mottoes:
A Householder Motto might be, “I really, really enjoy everything about my human life. God matters most, but I’m celebrating that relationship through everything about my human life.”
A Renunciate Motto might be, “I love you God and want nothing else to stand in the way.”
Beware life in the middle
Compromise is a great thing. Mostly. But confusion results from taking some elements of householder along with elements of renunciate and mixing them together.
Results of living in the middle include a disappointing love life, decreased success in career, diminished ability to make money, feelings of failure despite working so very hard, sending out a very mixed message to the Universe. And every one of the people you meet.
At the level of auric modeling, the push-pull is evident. Often, the spiritual seeker develops a spiritual addiction… as part of the educational experience.
I believe I have the standing to make this observation because I have been there.
Long story short, I lived as a clueless sort of householder up until 21 when I began a meditation technique that claimed to be for householders but really was for renunciates. I lived more and more in the middle until age 23, when I shifted quite fully into being a renunciate.
Thanks to awesome healer and Wholeness Practitioner, Joanna Lester (my original teacher for cutting cords of attachment), my attention was drawn to a deep conflict of interest that, consciously, I had overlooked. At 40 years of age, I was pursuing a love relationship yet still had the loyalties of a renunciate. In fact, I still was using a recluse mantra for meditation that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had given me, after years of pleading. In short, I had slipped back into the middle again.
Thanks to Joanna, I moved clearly into the householder lifestyle.
Fast forward to this year, becoming an Enlightenment Coach at 64. Now I appreciate more than ever the importance of exploring differences between Householder Enlightenment and Enlightenment for Renunciates.
Although I personally have chosen the former, I have huge respect for the latter. As you might expect.
AMANDA and I have enjoyed sending comments back and forth about poetry recently. Starting with her gorgeous poem at Comment 128 at For Empath Empowerment, Quiz Yourself.
Well, I remember standing in front of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at a course for TM teachers and reading out a poem in honor to his guru, Brahmananda Saraswati.
You made the wilderness your home.
While I am wondering, from my city, what it means to be alone.
Tell me what it means to be alone.
And that was the heartfelt refrain, “Tell me what it means to be alone.”
Trust me, in the years that followed, I learned very well. As a person living in the middle.
What’s wrong with living in the middle?
Great confusion about personal identity, for starters.
- Householders have a sense of self as householders. “I enjoy this and have that.”
- Renunciates have a sense of self as “I am not this, not that. All I want is God.”
- In the middle, “I am trying to enjoy this and have that, only it never really satisfies me.”
The pain only grows worse, until a person makes a choice and follows either the householder or the renunciate path with clarity.
Confusion at Earth School includes wrong labels
Earth School: That’s the big one room schoolhouse all of us inhabit. Every single soul, here for learning… something.
And, like it or not, the grades are not labeled properly.
This lack of labeling especially shows up in spiritual and psychic practices. Often at this blog, I’ve discussed this. The theme also runs through books like “Use Your Power of Command for Spiritual Cleansing and Protection” and “Magnetize Money with Energetic Literacy.”
- Spiritual seekers can be pulled into The Romance of the Astral, being told this equates with finding God.
- Psychic development practices can be taught as a sort of shortcut to God via seeking messages from angels.
- Spiritual addiction can be confused with spiritual Enlightenment.
Good thing that you have self-authority, Blog-Buddies. Self-authority helps a person to discern what a teacher or path really offers.
Self-authority helps someone to find the courage to face facts in objective reality. Spiritual practices are usually described in subjective terms. But the householder vs. renunciate choice is not only subjective. It impacts objective reality and a person’s standing in material life.
With self-authority, you can explore what the human consequences really are from following a path that (correctly or not) is labeled “A Householder Path to Enlightenment.”
In addition to using self-authority about one’s current lifestyle and values, it is so useful to develop skills of Stage Three Energetic Literacy. That way, you can explore your own chakra databanks and monitor the progress you’re making.
If there’s a huge emotional charge over doing aura reading research on a particular theme, or you simply haven’t developed energetic literacy yet, that’s where you might choose a session of Energy Spirituality. During your phone call, or session in person, just say that you want Enlightenment Coaching. Or request aura reading research on various choices you have been making.
A classic technique illustrates the difference between renunciate and householder
A classic meditation technique has a different spin, depending on that householder-or-reunciate orientation.
My very first meditation experience, for instance, occurred in a college classroom in 1967. It was a psychology or sociology course; I’m not sure which. I liked the professor and the class, but it wasn’t one of my standout experiences at Brandeis.
This does seem an ungrateful way to acknowledge my first meditation teacher ever. Yet it’s the truth.
Here’s what happened. As we sat at our desks, the teacher had us close our eyes. He had us notice one level of life at a time. For instance:
“Notice how your body is sitting here right now. But you are not your body.
“Notice how you have a mind that is thinking. But you are not your mind.”
We continued in this manner until we reached that innermost destination, pure silence. That, we were told, was The Self. Who you really are.
“How lovely,” I thought. The full experience was so clear and delightful.
Actually, this was a clear and delightful introduction to a spiritual path of renunciation. Where all you are is spirit and consciousness and energy. The human bits are just a shell.
Talk to anyone who lives in the middle, or a renunciate, about how much that human life is valued and guess what? I suspect that most will express a happy looking forward to the time called “Drop the body.” (Known to householders as “Death.”)
Transcendental Meditation, powerful but confusing
“TM is for householders. The technique supports householders. The mantras chosen as part of the technique are for householders.”
How often I was told that, starting in 1968, at my first Introductory Lecture on Transcendental Meditation. And how often I would say the same thing, serving Maharishi as a TM initiator for so many years.
TM is an extremely powerful technique, and I owe a great deal to it. However, many lies were taught as part of TM.
In hindsight, I don’t blame Maharishi one bit, not for anything. In hindsight, I suspect that all those millions of new TM initiates, plus TM teachers like me who “Rounded our brains out” by doing TM and yoga asanas for as many hours as possible, day after day, on official TM courses… we cleared out enough astral STUFF to make a big difference in the world.
Personally, I feel our big mission was to avert World War III. And we do seem to have succeeded. Not that Maharishi ever mentioned this in my hearing, not even once. And I have spent over a year of my life, in total, literally in the room with him, legs crossed, listening to his discourses.
However, a great deal of confusion was created because TM really does produce renunciates. The technique causes people to live more and more in the middle unless they wind up going over entirely to a renunciate lifestyle. And the mantras chosen are for renunciates just as much as for householders.
So Candy Crowley, who moderated the recent Presidential Debate, has famously started TM. She has done so as a householder. If she really keeps up, over the years, what awaits her? I suspect, her career will be based more and more on the lifestyle of a renunciate.
Other sweet attempts to make householders into renunciates
The age of the great gurus is past. But starting with Swami Paramahansa Yogananda, a series of Indian yogis impacted Western civilization in a very powerful way. The list includes Yogi Bhajan, Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj — a.k.a. Kripalu, Swami Satchitananda — the founder of Integral Yoga, Sri Chinmoy, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
I’m not sure about Yogi Bhajan, the Kundalini Yoga master, but the rest were definitely from lineages of renunciates.
Within TM, explaining the difference between householder and renunciate wasn’t always straightforward. Maharishi solved the problem by, well, lying.
Yogananda was more an advocate of living in the world as a householder while personally being a recluse.
How well does that work?
- If folks pursue such a lifestyle as living in the middle, the results are disappointing.
- Others may, instead, develop the hybrid lifestyle of appearing to be a renunciate while presenting “householder” to the world. That would be more successful. And expedient. (Although not necessarily honest by Rose Rosetree’s personal standards.)
Not that all teachers of renunciation come from India. Any monestery or religious order for renunciates is… for renunciates. And often the esoteric version of the religion or path involves renunciation; this is kept secret from the newcomers.
Back in the day, when I did workshops for various New Age centers, I met many sorta-householders. One explained to me that she and her husband hadn’t made love in 15 years. From what I remember, she shrugged off this quintessentially householder activity as “unevolved.”
Layers of Self Technique for a Householder
Another version of the classic layers-of-self technique was presented to me when I studied with Teaching of the Inner Christ in 1985. You can find it outlined in “Being a Christ,” such as Page 13, “Levels of Sensitivity.”
Body, mind, emotions, inner knowing, etc. are each experienced in turn as “I am” or components of personal identity. For TIC, the self is a jumping-off place for conscious channeling of the Divine. And nobody I have encountered teaches this better!
My work emphasizes human, householder life. Increasingly, I see the work with energetic literacy and Energy Spirituality as part of a larger project, being an Enlightenment Coach to join with all who are helping millions of people to attain spiritual Enlightenment in this lifetime, and to do it as householders.
No surprise, I have adapted the classic layers-of-self technique as part of my method of Empath Empowerment(R). It’s the “Coming Home” technique in “Empowered by Empathy.” And the point is to not only claim layers of self as a householder but to awaken a fuller, stronger sense of identity. This shift in consciousness can help to turn an empath’s gift(s) OFF.
Draw the conclusion for yourself
Because nothing can be more personal.
For householders, layers of self are framed differently than for renunciates.
- For renunciates, layers of self are, “Not me, not me, not me. Spirit counts, alone, as my true self.”
- For householders and skilled empaths, layers of self are, “Me, me, me, me, me, all the way through spirit.”
Two glorious paths. Choose one. Just beware the middle.