Archive for the ‘The Seven Deadly Squirrel Sins’ Category

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Luxury

March 10, 2010

 

Luxury

 Photo Credit: James Marvin Phelps 

John of the Cross interpreted the sin of luxury as one of sensuality, with sexual overtones (lust), and of entitlement. Recognizing that he was writing for monks 500 years ago, I’ve reinterpreted the dark passion of luxury to reflect challenges of the ego.

Self-entitlement positions you to believe that life revolves around you. That belief has hundreds of offshoots, such as believing that all things should work out in your favor, that you are always right, that justice has your name written on it, that bad things should happen only to other people, and that other people were born just to take care of you.

Self-entitlement sets you up to have unrealistic expectations of others and to be endlessly disappointed, not to mention bitter. In an exaggerated form, self-entitlement becomes the right to use others or anything you want to achieve your own ends, be they pleasure or power.

Most people never become genuinely comfortable with their own sexuality. Sex and sexuality become a shadow part of their lives, perhaps the cause of despair in their relationships. Luxury is the dark passion of the third chakra, which is the center of self-esteem and personal power and corresponds to the solar plexus. Numerous physical and emotional dysfunctions arise from stress related to the lack of self-esteem, such as eating disorders, gastric and colon problems, diabetes and pancreatic conditions. Self-esteem is the cornerstone of personal power, without which we walk shoeless on the rough paths of this earth all the days of our life.

  • What do you believe you are entitled to in this life? (We all think we are entitled to something, even if it’s as mundane as not waiting in long lines.)
  • How much of your frustration and anger is due to things not working out as you thought you were entitled to, such as the “perfect” marriage or a successful career?
  • What sexual issues do you struggle with?
  • What makes you uncomfortable about sexuality?
  • What have you learned about yourself through this dark passion?

(Excerpt Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason, Caroline Myss, p.98)

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Pride

March 10, 2010

Pride

Photo credit: Dunno but do read the proud comments in this link; they are good for a laugh.

Pride in its shadow form is often called hubris. For all the fears that have a controlling influence on human behaviour, none is as potent as the fear of being humiliated, which is, of course, a matter of pride.

Most often, when people speak to me of a struggle with forgiveness, what they cannot forgive is having being humilated by someone. Pride can be positively defined as self-respect or dignity, but that hardly sums up what this power encompasses within the psyche.

Pride is our most vulnerable nerve ending, because it goes directly to our sense of purpose and identity, of having a place and a role in life. Pride is an energy that can feel as if it attaches you to your life’s purpose, and your life’s purpose is supposed to be kept uncontaminated. We fear shame and humiliation so profoundly that we will shame or humiliate others just to protect our own pride.

We will avoid trying anything daring, even if we would grow enormously through our efforts, for fear of being humiliated. Ironically, this reluctance to reach for something outside our comfort zone can make us feel shame about settling for “second best.” For all its innate power, then, we have difficulty learning how to manage pride, and it becomes lethal when wounded.

We learn to take pride in ourselves from our tribe, but we also encounter our first scars of humiliation from the tribe in early childhood. Consequently, pride in both its light and its shadow aspects is closely linked to the first chakra, which I call the “tribal” chakra. Traditionally, the first, or “root”, chakra is associated with the base of the spinal column, the part of the body that contacts the ground when seated in meditation. It represents what grounds us, and its corresponding element is earth. But I also see this chakra as connecting us to our family and the ethnic, social, religious, and class groups closest to us. Just as those groups can inculcate positive feelings of loyalty and self-respect, they can also create deep scars by imposing their various taboos and stigmas on us for behaviour that isn’t acceptable to them.

Those can be among our most painful scars and, consequently, the scars that can cause us to harm others. Pride is the cause of tribal warfare, of wounds of hatred passed down from generation to generation. In older cultures in parts of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, many ethnic vendettas have been carried on for so long that the participants don’t always remember the original injury. As individuals, we will destroy our own families out of pride. Few people can get this dark passion under control, and when hubris controls a person, it is like being possessed.

  • What are you capable of doing when your pride is injured?
  • How easily is your ego or pride offended?
  • Have you ever truly asked yourself why your pride is so fragile?
  • What does it take to get back in your “good graces” once your pride has been offended or you have been humiliated?
  • What pain have you caused others as a result of injured pride?
  • What have you learned about yourself through this dark passion?

(Excerpt Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason, Caroline Myss, p.86)

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Envy

March 10, 2010

Envy

Photo credit: Superterrific

The dark passion of envy has not changed over the centuries since John of the Cross wrote about it, nor even before he put pen to paper. Envy can destroy the mind, possessing it like a fever. Envy makes people think that they have been cheated out of opportunities or that they should have what someone else has.

People can be driven to near-madness when envy takes hold of their reason. Suddenly all they can see or think about is the person or situation at the center of their obsession, which becomes a twisted, toxic visualization that they play and replay constantly.

You can’t reason with envy, because it is an illness, rooted in the illusion that you were cheated or that someone got something that should have been yours. This dark passion causes us to diminish all the good in our lives. The inherent command that each of us has to love and cherishh our own life is violated by the toxin of envy, as it makes us see only dead-end streets.

The sixth chakra is the mind, comprising intellect and intuition, a power center that the dark passion of envy contaminates. Envy blocks your ability to see opportunities; it makes it impossible for you to appreciate anything wonderful about who you are.

  • Are you by nature envious?
  • Everyone has had at least one encounter with envying another person. What created that experience for you? What did you learn about yourself?
  • Do you envy others even for their spiritual attainments?

(Excerpt – Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason – Caroline Myss, p.102)

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Avarice

March 9, 2010

Avarice

Coveting another’s goods is one way of describing the essence of greed.

Greed is a ruthless dark passion that can take hold of you with the force of a tsunami. It is a dark passion that every person has to confront, and it has many forms, like the clever shape-shifter it is. Some people are greedy for money, but then there is power, fame, authority, attention – the list is endless.

Greed is a form of insanity. There is never “enough” for the greedy, because greed is not logical. Greed is the perfect example of the shadow side of reason: think of asking a megamillionaire, “How much is enough?”

The second chakra lines up most closely with greed, because it is the power center within the human energy system that governs money. Lower back aches, sciatic pain, and cancers that develop in the region of the second chakra (lower back and genitals) are often related directly or indirectly to financial concerns.

  • What triggers your passion for greed?
  • In what area of your life is “nothing ever enough”? Love? Money? Gratitude? Attention? Respect? Greed has many, many faces.
  • How much of your time and attention is given over to asking, “How will I get my share of this?” and “What do I fear I will not have enough of in life?”
  • How has your health suffered because of greed? Possibilities include backaches, sciatica, acid reflux, stomach and digestive problems, stress that contaminates relationships, and anger issues.
  • What have you learned about yourself through this dark passion?

(Excerpt Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason by Caroline Myss, p.97)

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Wrath

March 9, 2010

Wrath

Photo credit: Unknown

Wrath is extreme anger, a passion that is destructive, cruel, and merciless. Wrath is a dark passion capable of destroyiing lives, or of destroying you: you can be as possessed by wrath as by greed. Both are passions that can take control of the “reasoning” mind and convert it into a weapon of massive destruction. We all have anger running through our veins; wrath goes deeper than anger, however, because it is anger with permission to destroy.

Anger can flare up in a moment, vent itself verbally, and then be gone. In a loving relationship, partners say they just can’t stay angry at each other. But wrath begins to speak in a self-righteous voice, building a case within your mind – your reason – that you are “right” and therefore action is justified. Your reason refused to relent, stoking the fire of anger constantly, because it takes a great deal of fuel to keep the fires of self-righteousness burning. Wrath eventually consumes you on your own pyre.

The fourth chakra is the heart center, and an angry heart is a tragic, dangerous heart, one that becomes unforgiving. An angry heart turns love into torment, punishing those who we think do not love us enough or in the right way. But there is no right way to love an angry heart, so love is always futile when mixed with anger. Ultimately anger pushes love away, again and again.

How many times have you done or said something that was a spontaneous act of anger, in which you couldn’t stop yourself because the anger was stronger than your ability to control yourself?

  • Do you  use anger to control others?
  • How often and in what ways have you harmed others with your anger?
  • Have you repaired the damage you’ve done to others with your anger?
  • Do you excuse your own behaviour based on your childhood or do you hold yourself accountable as an adult?
  • What have you learned about yourself through this dark passion?

(Excerpt Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason by Caroline Myss, p.100)

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Sloth

March 9, 2010

Sloth

Photo credit: James Marvin Phelps

Sloth refers to laziness with a tendency towards procrastination. So many people suffer from living in their minds, from imagining all that their lives could or should be, but find that they can’t make their bodies cooperate with the actions required to make their ambitions come to fruition.

Getting off the couch, getting to the gym, returning calls and messages, and developing disciplined work habits are all that stand between us and making those dreams a reality.  I’ve listened to so many people tell me that they “know” they are meant for something great, but just what that is – um – they can’t figure out. I can.

They are waiting for someone else to make their dreams come true, someone who isn’t afraid to work hard and take on the responsibilities that go along with making decisions. Some people prefer life “in the mind”, where it’s easy and safe and nothing really happens. That’s the shadow of the passion of sloth. Life goes by and nothing really happens.

  • As one of the deadly sins, sloth implies inactivity in the practice of virtue. That it should be the dark passion of the seventh chakra strikes me as extraordinarily perfect. The seventh chakra corresponds to the crown of the head, the “thousand-petaled lotus” that is said to explode like a fountain of light at the moment of enlightenment. But the lazy spiritual mind is one that maintains awareness of God through books and thought rather than through spiritual action; the slothful mind does not push beyond reason into the deeper waters of the soul, but gives up at the first indication of discomfort. It might know what the right thing is, but does not proceed to actually doing it.
  • In what area of your life is laziness most destructive?
  • Where do you give up spiritually? Do you prefer to meet your spiritual life in books or does your spiritual life include soul devotion?
  • In what ways does slothfulness affect your health?
  • Do you ever feel that your life is just slipping away and nothing at all is happening? Review the choices that you make each day that contribute to a lack of movement in your life as opposed to choices that create change.
  • What have you learned about yourself through this dark passion?

(Excerpt Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason by Caroline Myss, p. 103)

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Gluttony

March 6, 2010

Gluttony

Photo credit: James Marvin Phelps

The dark passion of gluttony deals in mindless consumption, whether of foods, drugs, alcohol, negative ideas, the influence of other people’s thoughts, material goods, or anything outside of yourself that takes possession of your will.  To consume without consciousness, just for the plesure of consuming, makes you unconscious of your own actions or your own power of choice.

There is a common saying that a person is a “glutton for punishment”. This is directed toward someone who is oblivious to either extreme self-abuse or abuse coming from another. The abuse is apparent to everyone else, as is the person’s inability to speak up to stop it.

The fifth chakra, which is the power of will and corresponds to the throat, aligns with the dark passion of gluttony. To take command of your will and maintain it against the controlling influences of other people, of outside fears, of all the illusions that prey on us, is the meaning of “becoming conscious”.

To command your will means that you have taken conscious control of the choices you make; that you are conscious enough not to compromise the power of your mind, your integrity, your body, and your soul out of fear for your safety in this world.

The dark passion of glutony represents an absence of control over your will, the opposie of what it means to be conscious. The body, mind, the emotions, and your entire life suffer when you abdicate your willpower to drugs, food, the influence of others, the need for approval, or any outside source. Taking command of your own willpower, your own choices, embodies the challenge of becoming conscious.

  • It would be difficult for you to refrain from your patterns of gluttony because________________________
  • Gluttony represents self-abuse, as opposed to the other dark passions, which tend to give us permission to abuse others. Is abuse of yourself something you approve of?
  • What are your best excuses for allowing yourself to make poor personal or health choices?
  • What does this dark passion teach you about yourself?

(Excerpt from Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason – Caroline Myss, 2009)