Remember that the goal of this teaching is to facilitate the lessons of unconditional love and acceptance. There is no possibility of accomplishing this toward others if you have not first learned how to unconditionally accept yourself.
Here are seven steps to lead you in that direction:
1. Trust In Your Perceptivity
The first step to self-agape (self-love) has to do with developing your ability to perceive. Perceiving is not thinking about, nor is it figuring out or scrutinizing. Remember that perceptivity is a function of your emotional center and that perception is a feeling. This is the ability to size up the truth of a situation, experience, or person by instantly and emotionally sensing what is so about them.
You might walk into a business meeting where a number of people are present and you can instantly perceive whom you can trust and whom you should be careful about. You can instantly perceive as well whether you are going to get anywhere with this team or whether you are going to waste time and money with them.
The aphorism "Don't guess, perceive", applies to this step. This is an important way to look at perceptivity. Your society does not encourage people to follow and trust their own intuitions and perceptions. Characteristically older souls, because of their experience, have inherently good perceptivity skills. The problem tends to be that older souls lose confidence in their perceptivity when they live in a young soul society that places a low value on intuition and perception. Thus, this first step to self-agape is to trust and develop the skill of perception.
2. Ruthless Truthfulness With Yourself
The second step to self-agape encourages you to be completely honest with yourself. Ruthless truthfulness means the courage to state what is so about yourself and your perceptions at any one time. This truthfulness does not have so much to do with perceiving as it does with telling the truth about what you perceived. Often you perceive accurately but then deny what you saw, or distort it so much that the truth becomes unrecognizable.
You may accurately assess that the business team gathered is a bad mix of personalities and that your endeavors will come to grief. However, if you should slide to the negative poles of your overleaves and become, for example, ingratiating, you may deny to yourself and the others your original perception. You will act as if everything is fine and proceed foolishly into a mess.
Knowing and telling the truth, however, can be tricky. Because the truth is unique for each individual, one person's truth is another person's lie. In addition, truth is not always constant but changes as the soul matures and gains experience. The truth for a baby soul is different from the truth for a mature soul. The truth for a baby soul is that law, order, and obedience to authority are the most necessary ingredients to live a good life. The truth for a mature soul is that individual search and questioning of authority is necessary for a good life.
Ruthless truthfulness is a form of compassion and need not be seen as a way of putting oneself down or being self-deprecating. Being self-truthful is not beating yourself up but seeing in a detached way what the reality is and what must be done.
3. Acknowledging that the World (and The People In It) Are Perfect -- Making A Commitment To Be Tolerant
The third step focuses on acknowledging that people are perfect the way they are. Perfect means that each person is following his or her own path just the way that they should. In other words, every person is learning their lessons in his or her chosen ways. The important lesson one person is learning may be the important lesson that another person learned ten lifetimes ago or will learn three lifetimes from now.
Therefore perfection does not have to be a high ideal or look like your pictures of what the world is supposed to be, but in fact what is.
The concept of perfection in "what is" has always been one of the most difficult for students to understand. You may ask, how can the world be perfect if there is killing, war, famine, and disease? How can so-and-so be perfect if he lies, cheats, and steals from me? Should I do nothing, then, to correct or stop these things?
The answer is paradoxical. Yes, all these things are being perfectly done and everyone is learning their lessons exactly the way they had hoped (on an essence level, of course). However, part of this perfection is that when you perceive injustice you perfectly move to correct it. Therefore physical reality is a game that everyone gets to play, the unjust and the just, and in the illusion of time one will eventually become the other, and the game continues.
4. Allow Yourself Your Own Power and The Constant Choice To Be Appropriate With It
Personal power is the result of telling the truth. Telling the truth gives you presence, and presence is perceived as power. Being appropriate with power is a unique task for each individual.
The more powerful a person is, the simpler the message. The philosophical writings of young souls are often lengthy, complex, and difficult to read. The message of old souls tends to be far simpler.
The teachings and concepts of Jesus Christ are immensely powerful and are phrased in the simplest possible terms, as in the parables and in statements such as "Love your neighbor as yourself." The Buddha taught the eightfold path based on the simple truth that to crave is to suffer. Meher Baba said, "Don't worry, be happy." What could be simpler?
5. Erase Fear and Live In Gentleness And Joy
Attention and awareness are the chief tools for erasing fear. Fear is a by-product of the false personality and when you shift your identification away from the false personality and toward essence you automatically begin to dissolve fear.
All seven chief features -- self-destruction, greed, self-deprecation, arrogance, martyrdom, impatience, and stubbornness -- are based on fears. A major life task each lifetime is to erase the neutralizing effect of the chief feature so that you can reach your goal.
When you are realizing your life goal, whether it is acceptance or growth, you feel the joy of essence work. The experience of joy always leads to gentleness.
6. Truly Experiencing Surrender and Therefore Power And Control
This allows you to fully experience the physical plane as well as the truth, love, and beauty of the other planes.
As you can see, step six contains a paradox, calling on you to experience surrender while at the same time experiencing personal power. You need to be able to hold this contradiction at one and the same time in order to be in control.
In one sense, surrender means no longer resisting the events and experiences of the physical plane. Surrender does not mean giving up, but embracing essence-directed lessons and opportunities. When you stop resisting being in a body and the karma that accompanies it, you begin to rapidly accelerate your spiritual growth. As you accelerate you become more powerful because you learn to fear nothing.
Spiritual growth allows you to access the higher centers -- higher intellectual, higher emotional, and higher moving. As you begin to open up to the higher centers you begin to experience the truth, love, and beauty of all the planes within the Tao.
This seventh step is the experience of completion after you have mastered the first six steps. The seventh step allows you to let go of attachment to that achievement and this neutrality is expressed as humility.
Published by Bear & Co./Inner Traditions Intl.
©1994. All Rights Reserved. www.innertraditions.com
This article was excerpted with permission from the book:
Earth to Tao by José Stevens, Ph.D.
Click here for more Info and to Order this book on Amazon. (This book is out of print but is available online through various vendors as either a new or used book.)
A recent book (March 2014) by this author:
Awaken the Inner Shaman: A Guide to the Power Path of the Heart
by José Stevens, Ph.D.
Within you is a greater, wiser self that is not bound by your fears, worries, or perceived limitations. Dr. José Luis Stevens calls this the Inner Shaman -- the part of you that connects directly to the true source of the universe. In Awaken the Inner Shaman, Dr. José Stevens challenges readers reclaim our lost power to heal, see truly, and fulfill our purpose in life. As Dr. Stevens writes: "The Inner Shaman, suppressed and ignored for centuries, can be discovered in the most obvious place possible-within your very own heart."
Click here for more Info and to Order this more recent book.
About the Author
José Luis Stevens, PhD, cofounder of the Power Path School of Shamanism and the Center for Shamanic Education and Exchange, is an international lecturer, teacher, consultant, and trainer. A psychologist and licensed clinical social worker, he is the author of numerous articles, e-books, and books, including The Power Path: The Shamans Way to Success in Business and Life. He completed a 10-year apprenticeship with an Huichol Maracame (shaman) and has studied extensively with the Shipibos of the Amazon and the Paqos of the Andes. He uses his knowledge of shamanism and indigenous wisdom to help individuals create effective life paths. The author's website is JoseStevens.com/