The Return and Mirrors – Angeles Arrien

Part 1 – The Return

Vivian Wright: This morning in two very short hours were going to try to pack in (laughter) a couple of offerings; one from Angeles on mirrors of projections and community and a break out and an offering from Larry which I think you will find very interesting – and a break out and a little bit of an ending process… So we’ll just see how much of that we can pack in but – that’s my vulnerability in trying to serve the intent of a plan which is just to give you courage to move forward until you know what you have to do. So over to you Angeles.

Angeles Arrien: Good morning everyone! Morning, morning! And also just a couple of things around the return and also Sophie’s offering. What we witness we are changed by, and when we are witnessed we cannot go back to the old way. And what happened on Robben Island – the power of witnessing mutual witnessing, that garners healing is very powerful. Then followed up with Ward’s reading from Larry’s “Subversive Orthodoxy” that we can be unhappy in the best of conditions and hopeful in the worst of conditions, and the future as Rilke says enters into us and transforms itself long before we’re aware of it. One way of tracking the future you started on when we first gathered as we began to take a look at some images that were capturing our imagination. Any image that we put on our book has entered us long before we were conscious of it and the selection of those images is a conscious remembrance of something that has already entered us and transformed us – and has transformed us to the point that we could recognize it.

I love what Carl Jung said that the psychological mechanism for transforming energy is the symbol or the image. The psychological mechanism for transforming energy is the symbol or the image; and so we began our journey together as important strangers, selecting that which had meaning, we gathered, we went with the first movement of gathering what was inspirational that we recognized or had meaning for us. We used that first, and yesterday has been a time of expanding and clarifying or defining and allowing new things to come in and go out and then last night it was a period of kind of settling and integrating and releasing so that we could come together again.

What’s fascinating to me about any gathering of a community, this community gathering, is the same people will not be here in any other formation and so there is something original that happens because no two groups really meet with the same people at the same time and that’s what’s original medicine, that this time that we’ve come somehow to explore subversive orthodoxy, to explore images that have incredible meaning for us to take a look at endings and beginnings; to take a look at where we are in the journey and to recognize where we entered together and where we came to the midpoint yesterday. Today we’re on the westward side of mountain and return and reentering out. At the return there’s also a taking a look at where have I been inspired? Where have I been challenged? What has surprised me while I’ve been here? What has deeply touched and moved me? Where have I strengthened – what has strengthened in me as a result of being here? What has softened or rounded out some of the hard edges or the places where I have been really closed? What has softened – What has opened in my nature? What has fallen into place or come together?

Angeles Arrien
Angeles Arrien

All of that starts to gather itself at the return as a preparation. What will I be taking back? What will I be taking back as a result of being reformed and informed and transformed in this original container of important strangers. And always, always – What’s so interesting is indigenous people say that you know you’ve been changed when once again you can be warm like fire. Fluid like water. Solid like mountain. So where did I become warm like fire? Where did I come home to my heart and what had meaning for me while I’ve been here. Warm like fire. Where did – Where was their flow fluid like water, where did I get in touch with my resiliency while I’ve been here? What solidified – Solid like mountain. Warm like fire. Fluid like water.

In the southwest among the Navajo Hopi and Zuni people being warm like fire, fluid like water and solid like mountain indicates that I’ve touched my inherent wisdom. Wisdom is not age bound…..Wisdom is not age bound. People in their 20’s are very wise people and people in their 30’s are very wise people or in their 40’s are very wise, but after 50 if we are not demonstrating some kind of wisdom it’s less then becoming. (Laughter) And we have an opportunity in any kind of collective work, of any grouping of five or more people is to come to an inherent place of wisdom. And gathering is a way of wisdom, and settling is a way of wisdom, and opening or expanding is a way of wisdom, and the capacity to take in and to give out, those are all movements that support not only creativity, which is happening all the time, but also it supports our accruing of wisdom where ever wisdom is being accrued we’re attending to character development. We are attending to character development, and getting clearer about our ethics and values out of which all subversive orthodoxy is anchored in.


Part 2 – Mirrors

Deep ethics and deep values motivate that which has meaning for us that will ignite courage that we will take a stand no matter what. Along the way the important stranger – There are many important strangers that ignite what it is that are positive gifts and talents and there are many important strangers that ignite: “oooh I don’t want to be like that” – Ignite our shadow. But every stranger, every stranger is original medicine as we discussed yesterday and Rumi says if I see you, I will laugh out loud, or fall silent, or explode into a thousand pieces. And if I don’t I will be caught in the cement and stone of my own prison. If I see you I will laugh out loud with delight, something there that I really like, that I resonate to, or I’ll fall silent because I have been so deeply touched and moved. Or ill explode into a thousand pieces because I have been so stretched and turned inside out and have had to look again at all my belief systems and stuck places and all of that. And if I don’t, I will be caught in the cement and stone of my own prison. Into my own control patterns or mechanisms, or stuck places. Every indigenous culture has what are called mirrors; they believe that every person is a mirror of some aspect of my own nature, a part that is knowable, a part that is unknowable, a part that I resonate to, a part of myself that I dislike, but we all function as mirrors for each other. And so often you will find that in ceremonial head dresses or ceremonial vests or ceremonial pant legs, is that they will be in such tiny pieces of tin or glass to reflect back which is a reminder that we are all mirrors for each other.

Five Stages of Projection – I am learning from you about a different aspect of myself and there are three types of mirrors cross culturally that – The western term for mirror is projection. The good news is about a projection is it is a part of myself that’s out of the bag, that is on its way home It’s out of the bag and I don’t know quite what to do with it so I look around for a perfect fit. To carry it for a while so that I can look at it out there (laughter) before I can bring it home, so stage one of every projection is some part of myself is out of the bag whether it’s a positive aspect of myself, let’s say that my leadership – You know, I haven’t believed that I have leadership skills, let’s say that my leadership has popped out of the bag finally, or that my beauty or attractiveness has popped out of the bag, or my anger that I have repressed, and heaven forbid that I’d ever be angry, like that person over there that’s just out of control (laughter). So my anger is out of the bag but it’s too scary to bring it home yet, but it’s out of the bag so I look around and I find the perfect fit for my leadership and think oh I hope I can lead like that. I look around and I think, “Oh my God, I would have to have fourteen plastic surgery’s before I could ever look like that.” My beauty is out of the bag. Or my anger – Oh that person is really hostile, I don’t want – My anger is out of the bag but I find the perfect fit.

So pretty soon I look around the second stage of your projection, after I have found the perfect fit the second stage is the projection begins to slip. But I don’t want it to slip so I put it back up. For example, the person that I have my leadership on, well I wouldn’t have handled that meeting that way, I mean that was a little off, and then I think to myself, “You know I really admire them in this and this and this but I slip it back up and think well everyone has an off day. Everyone has an off day.” So I slip it back up, or the object of my beauty or attractiveness you know they are so beautiful and together and all this that I notice that it is a safety pin on the hem of the skirt and I notice that the fingernail polish is a little chipped and I notice she didn’t wash her hair really but then I can’t stand that its slipping off so I put it back up as quick as I can and say you know – I know what it’s like to travel and have so many commitments and put it right back up. Mr. Hostile, you know actually smiled, and laughed out loud and I think, or maybe Miss aggressive you know actually smiled and looked soft and I think oh well that was just a fluke, put it back up.

Third stage of the projection or of the mirror is that I can’t rationalize it. It actually falls off and there is no way I can rationalize it, no way in the world I can rationalize it and so what I do is two things. I either look around for somebody else to put it on or I’ll build a case and tell everybody be careful, you know they’re not what they seem you know? They really aren’t, so I build a case. The third thing that I have a choice to do, and if I don’t pick it up and put it on someone else – And many of us do what I call the waltz 1… 2… 3… is that we go through the first three steps of projections over and over and over again and then we finally find different fits until its comfortable enough for us to come home but in stage three I either build a case, find another fit or I just leave it there, just leave it there and I don’t pick it up. I think oh, maybe this is really my material. It kind of dawns on me, which delivers me into stage four which is a stage of grief of recognizing that that part of myself has been away for a long time and yes it was out of the bag but I spent a couple of years doing the waltz 1… 2… 3… trying to find different people to stick it on before I finally got tired of picking it up and sticking it on someone else and stopped building a case, and justifying and defending and all of that and think oh this is my material, you know maybe it’s time for me to own my own leadership without projecting it onto other people and to own my own authority. Maybe it’s time for me to befriend and to own the fact that yes I’m very angry about certain things in my life and what am I going to do about that? Maybe it’s time for me to really look at the disappointment and the grudges, and the resentment that I’ve been carrying that have me so aggressive and angry and how to befriend that or to do some healing work. That all comes in stage four; I know it’s my material and I begin to work with it.

Bob Caplan
Bob Caplan

Stage five which is the last that I incorporate – that I befriended to such a degree that you know yes there’s a part of me that gets disappointed, but I’m handling it differently now and not getting so angry, and there are parts of me that are really vulnerable that I don’t hide that vulnerability with anger. You know I’m really comfortable, I just really didn’t realize that I had – That I loved being a leader and creating conditions where people could learn and grow and I really like that. Or you know I am an attractive person, I’m not overly attractive, but I’m certainly not ugly either you know? So I befriend my own aesthetic and my own beauty and my own sensuality and sexuality and my comfortably with my body image and also more holistic in embracing all the parts in who I am and those are the five stages of projection.

Now I just quickly want to go through the three types of mirrors that we face all the time and for you to take a look in this collective for who have provided that mirroring for you as well and to notice a clear mirror – And mirrors always have charge. In the last stage of a projection I no longer have a charge.  You know I have incorporated that gift and I don’t – I no longer inflate or deflate myself; I no longer make it a problem or an issue, I recognize this is a part of myself and I have befriended it and it’s a gift that I’ve befriended and I don’t inflate it or deflate it. Stage 5 is where there is no charge, there’s no charge at all. I don’t inflate or deflate, I’m at home, I’m comfortable with myself warts and all. You know yeah this is a part of me that’s still undeveloped and this is a part of me that I sometimes get ignited. You know I’m more at choice.

Three Types of Mirrors – Clear Mirrors – Smoking Mirrors – Split Mirrors

The first kind of mirror is what’s called a clear mirror. A clear mirror has a charge. This is someone that I admire and respect and it’s somebody that I want to learn from and grow from and have wonderful communication gifts and they have a great sense of humor and you know they are very creative and they are always coming up with solutions, and the good news is if I can see it, I have it in myself otherwise I wouldn’t be able to see it. But it hasn’t been amplified or developed to the degree of what I’m seeing so it’s a lot of charge and you always know when you have a clear mirror in your life because they capture your imagination and you wonder about them, you know so who have I wondered about since I’ve been here this week, and what there life is like and I’d like to get to know because I see something in them that I really like and that I really resonate to, and that’s a clear mirror.

The second type of mirror is what’s called a smoking mirror. There are three kinds of smoking mirrors. You know I came in on the first day and I looked across the room and I thought oh my god he’s a dead ringer from my ex-husband. Or you know oh my God there’s my ex-wife just the way she turned her head and did this hand thing. Or, oh my God, there’s my ex-employer you know. And its unfinished business that we walk into that we want to avoid. We don’t see the person because they remind us of unfinished business. Or like “that person has talked four times today, I’m so sick of them being an air hog”. You know it’s like, “give me a break.” It’s like an old business, how I could never get my viewpoint across to my family because my older sibling was always flaunting their knowledge or taking up space. So a smoking mirror can be – Reminds me of unfinished business and to give gratitude to – “Oh I still have some work to do around the ex-wife, I still have some work to do around the ex-husband, I still have things to do around siblings. Isn’t it interesting I can’t even see this person without even seeing this other person?”

So that’s the first kind of smoking mirror, and the second kind of smoking mirror is somebody that I look across the room or I hear them speak or I looked at the cover of their black book you know and all their images and they ignite my competition and comparison. Like hmm, hmm, hmm, (laughter) and I find myself when they talk you know I’m going to follow afterwards you know kind of one up the ante a little bit. So it’s always interesting to see who or what in any collective ignites my competition or comparison because it shows me that I have self-respect and self-esteem and self-value and self-trust work to do. And to thank them silently for igniting something that hasn’t been ignited for a long time. You know I thought I’d work through all of that, and I would commit more of myself into my self-sufficiency.

Then the last kind of smoking mirror is who has ignited my Congo line of judgments. You know… 1… 2… 3… kick! 1… 2… 3… kick! You know it’s like I’m silently assessing very critically. Bless those who ignite our criticality and our assessment of how they are doing and that were not just on their case. They could never do it right. And I’m very critically silent – Silently critical sometimes it leaks out and I have a zinger that goes across the room and I can say “oh I was just teasing he he” (laughter). You know but it shows me where I have compassion work to do and to give gratitude.  “Ah, oh boy, I thought I have done a lot of work on my own criticality and judgmental-ness and oh I have some compassion work to do here and can I look again at this person”.  So the three kinds of smoking mirrors are unfinished business, who ignites my competition and comparison, who ignites my criticality, judgment or assessment and the last mirror is what’s called a split mirror.

The split mirror. And there are two kinds of split mirrors. And the split mirror is “Ah you really are – You really like someone and you really admire them and you walk up to them and you lose your power and you get all shy and awkward and you know you think you have four heads and you know you just can’t relax and be yourself.” Usually we do this around authority figures or people that we admire, or people that we want to have more of a relationship with, but is more like looking back to see if they like you as much as you like them kind of thing. And so that’s with authority figures and often shows me where I’m needing to come into my own authority as well or hold my power in the – When I respect or admire or really like other people.

The second type of split mirror is the one that is the hardest for us to handle.  For all of us regardless of whatever age we are, even from pubescence to our 80’s and 90’s or 100’s. And this split mirror is where I am actually attracted to someone – You know when you are attracted to someone right? We know when we are attracted to someone. Like really attracted to someone right? Right? And Sometimes when we are really attracted to someone we don’t go in straight around our attraction, instead we say “ Oh – We go in kind of sheep’s clothing” (laughter) and go “Oh I understand that you’re in organizational development work” “HEEE” (laughter) “HEEEE” (laughter) “HEEEE” (laughter). You know? And I just thought we have so much that we could share and talk about “HEEE” (laughter) you know we don’t go in straight you know?  We go in with this kind of sideways approach and yet when somebody does go in straight someone says I find you very attractive and I find that its getting in the way of me exploring a genuine friendship and I also know that you happen to be married and I don’t want to intrude on that. So there’s recognition and it can fall away. But most of us have difficulty handling the secondary split mirror of our attractions openly and honestly and we often go in in a sideways approach rather than saying I just really find you attractive both inside and out. So those are the three kinds of mirrors.

So who has functioned for you here? Who has ignited you’re clear mirror? Who has shown you gifts and talents that you have and that you’d like to develop even more, or who you wonder about. The three kinds of smoking mirrors and then the two kinds of split mirrors, and they are happening all the time. What’s exciting is that there are a parts of ourselves that out of the bag on the way home, that’s the good news, and then you have the five stages of projections and you know that you are in a neutral place on all of the mirrors and all of the stages of projection when Rumi says out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there’s a field, I’ll meet you there. That’s where we have come to meet each other in our self-respect our self-value and our self-trust. It’s out beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing or out beyond inflation and deflation there’s a field and I’ll meet you there, and that is where I am at home, I am at home. So what in the return in this particular collective that will never have the same combination again has been exactly the right medicine that I’ve needed for me at this time in my journey? And touching upon what Larry said about subversive orthodoxy, you know is really getting in touch with our deepest original medicine, and remembering that we have an original imprint, we have an original voice and we have an original way of seeing the color and texture of our eyes. So there’s a lot more that has happened here than what we recognize so when we come conscious to it every grouping in every collective is a mirror to show us where we are and where we aren’t. It shows us the work that we have done, the work we haven’t done, and the work that we need to do. I just really feel so honored every time that I come into any grouping of people because it is such an incredible opportunity to meet the mystery of who we all are internally individually relationally and collectively.