Robert Augustus Masters (Aug 18th from web)
This beautiful image created by A. Andrew Gonzalez appears on Robert Augustus Masters' website. The same image was used by the editor of Shamans Drum Magazine Tim White to introduce my article on the shamanic aspects of aquatic bodywork 'Dancing in Healing Waters' (issue 62, 2002, pp. 17-27).
Noticing this, immediately reinforced the resonance I felt with Robert's work when I discovered it. Robert A. Masters is a writer, psychotherapist, and spiritual teacher whose approach has an unswerving honesty and firm groundedness that always refreshes my own efforts to live a deeper life.
Under the heading 'Guidance for a deeper life' on his website, Robert says:
When I too was down on my hands and knees in the mud, and wondering what to make of the strangely glittering persona of someone I loved who seemed to have thrown me there in his place, an essay by Robert Masters helped me to clamber onto the banks again. He wrote of 'spiritual bypassing'*.
Spiritual bypassing is a dehumanizing practice, however much it may talk about and believe in light and love and compassion....
The greater the pain of our unresolved wounds, the greater are the odds that we - if we are invested in being 'spiritual' or being seen as 'spiritual' - will manifest some form of compensatory self-inflation (however humble its robes), whether it be metaphysical grandiosity ('You created your past ...') or self-proclaimed transcendence of personal issues ...
I was one who minded 'upsetting waves' (see opening quote), and sought so much to calm things around me that I myself became becalmed on a dangerously silent sea. It was the unnerving calm before a storm that apparently came from outside and seemed beyond my control - because I had not honored the currents of my own life.
Once as a teenager, I sat watching the sunset with my peers on a beautiful beach. An older woman had joined us who wanted to befriend these barefooted youngsters. She said 'Oh, the ocean is as still as a mill pond' but it was wild and choppy that night. None of us wanted to put her right, since we felt her loneliness.
Loneliness often makes us fearful that if we reveal our true selves, or speak our truth, we will not be loved. And many of us have been wounded in our self-revelation by a person we have loved. My wounding gave me the gift of walking for many months in shadowy places. But darkness is where light glows.
I recommend Robert Masters writing to you. And the mystical art work of A. Andrew Gonzalez. The image above seems to me to convey the energies of both Fire and Water. It's a combination that recurrs in my explorations on this blog (see for example Creativity: Fire+Water).
You may also be interested in this post on my Aquapoetics website - Trance, dreaming, and aquatic bodywork - in which the work of another Robert Masters (Robert E.L) is described along with more from Robert A. Masters regarding the dream state.
More excellent writing on the subject of spiritual bypassing (a term actually coined by Charles Whitfield, author and long-time recovery counselor) which references the criticism of alternative therapies by science can be seen here: Spiritual Bypass by Bruce Bibee.
*Robert A. Masters' next book will be on the topic of Spiritual Bypassing - now published, see below.