Now that Anderson Cooper has come out, my life feels complete. Ha! Like I could give a shit.
Actually, there are a few small things that have come to completion, and this seems to be lightening my load a bit as I look ahead to the rest of the 8 weeks before classes begin again.
I finished building my course website for the fall last night. I really wanted to get that out of the way, and in fact continued working during the last session of the online astrology course.
At least I can say that I have completed one astrology course. I think that this has given a bit more focus to my approach, but time will tell. The astrologer solicited testimonials to put on his website. I did not comply with that request. In a word, it seemed potentially exploitative to me, and I didn't want to have any part of that.
With respect to insights regarding my workplace, it seems that what I'm going to have to do is to do a better job of replenishing my energies through spiritual practice and through pursuing independent interests, but to do so more on the "down low" than I had done in the past. Looking back to 10 years ago, when I moved here to take this job, I can see how I was struggling to make sense of the strange mixture of losses and opportunities that were in my life at that time, and I was anything but discreet or self-contained. There are some things that people in my work environment cannot bear to hear: they just don't know how to respond. I'm gradually coming to accept that that's okay: it's not okay with me personally not to have anybody in my life who "gets it," but validation doesn't have to come from everyone all the time in order to exist at all.
I have had concerns about the astrologer's pop-metaphysics, and I continue to do so, but I do like the way that he focuses on needs for safety and validation in relationships. He prioritizes safety needs, which he regards as being non-negotiable if there is to be a real relationship there at all. Validation needs are important, but it not always possible to get them from the same source as safety needs. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to look after ourselves, and then to hope for better experiences in our relationships with others. At the same time, it's good to review periodically which needs are being met in which situations and which one's aren't being met.
As far as my home life is concerned, I'd like to cultivate ways to accept my situation more easily. I've already been moving in that direction by discontinuing going to satsang, so we can spend more time together. I've also been working on ways to satisfy my need to get certain kinds of work done when I'm on my own, so that I can be more available when he is at home. I think that astrological insights may be useful in continuing this process. I may or may not want to participate in the online relationship astrology class this fall, but I also have some resources at home I can use.
In researching the "map of consciousness" model that the astrologer promotes, and which he credits to David Hawkins, I have found discussion at rickross.com that connects it with Lester Levenson's Sedona Method and with Scientology. This morning I was looking at some posts about LGATs (large group awareness trainings), which are the typical social setting in which "New Thought" teachings are conveyed. I noted some parallels with the setting at Amma retreats, including intense emotionalism, immersion, long hours, limited sleep, and--if successful--the achievement of a euphoric high, which is generally followed by a crash (sudden or gradual, depending on one's particular circumstances) after returning to one's normal life. I have to say that, the last time I went (which was in 2010), the "fatigue factor" dominated my experience, which is why I have been reluctant to go back again. From what I have read online, 2011 (which I skipped) was quite a banner year for Amma, Inc., U.S.A. (just kidding): her primary astrologer left, her personal assistant of 20 years (who left in the late 90s) resurfaced online to tell her story, and her main promoter in Finland was embroiled in a sex scandal. The Finnish devotee appears to be a predatory sex addict who has preyed on young women, including some teenagers, and who carries a virulent strain of herpes with which he has infected some of his (now former) partners. Word is that Amma took him on the U.S. tour with her last summer. OK, maybe she wanted to have him close by in order to keep him out of trouble and to browbeat him into making reparations to his victims, but the only things I have seen so far have indicated that he has manipulated a Finnish Amma-devotee attorney into threatening the young woman who broke the story, and that he has tried to spin the story by allegedly using several online aliases. Doesn't sound too repentant to me.
Among the things I've been looking at this summer, I'm beginning to get a clearer sense of ways in which pathological narcissism can coexist with spiritual practice. Daniel Shaw's (the ex-Siddha Yoga therapist's) explanation of counterdependency helped me to make a sense of a pattern that I have noticed among some spiritual seekers. People who are counterdependent are in massive denial of their actual dependency needs, and so tend to project them onto (and even perhaps into) other people. Perhaps there is some trauma in their background that has made it feel unsafe to acknowledge their dependency on others, but once they become counterdependent it is as if they are somehow able to manipulate other people into an amplification of those people's own dependency needs. For a while, it solves the problem for the narcissist, who is able to feel powerful, "independent" (before a select audience, of course), and magnetically attractive. Meanwhile, the person who is affected by this is waiting, patiently, to be heard. However, as soon as his or her real needs begin to surface, they are perceived as a threat by the narcissist, who then despises the "needy" friend, lover, or family member for being so weak, and then pronounces "definitively" upon the inherently flawed nature of the (by now disaffected) friend, lover, or family member and demands that they reform themselves or be "ex-communicated." Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with the other person except that, in addition to whatever perceived lack of attention or validation may have made them susceptible to manipulation in the first place, they now have the trauma-inducing behavior of the narcissist from which to heal.
In other news, it appears as if my colleagues and I have finally finished interviewing graduate students for next year. I also had a publication come out recently. It is a small review that I wrote last summer. The official publication date is 2010: whatever. Also, the proofs have been sent to me for the article I wrote in February. In some respects, this will probably be the most significant print (as opposed to electronic) publication I have had since the one that was in the editing stage when I moved here 10 years ago. The 10th anniversary of our closing on the house happened a couple of weeks ago, and the 10th anniversary of my mother's visit to the emergency room with a persistent headache is tomorrow (July 4). My father called me on my cell that night while fireworks were going off, so I didn't hear it: I only heard that my mother was in the hospital later, when I heard the voice mail on my home phone. That year July 4 was on a Thursday. That weekend I headed down to Pennsylvania to see my mother in the hospital before her surgery. Strangely enough, my mother's last remaining older sister died while I was working on this recent article. I attended the funeral, but not the burial or the reception, because I needed to return home to finish the manuscript.
And so it goes. So here is something like an unofficial beginning of the summer break.
Om Kreem Kalyai Namaha,