Article by Carol Wiener
Published in “Enneagram Monthly”, 1995
When I arrived at Eli Jaxon-Bear’s three week retreat in Sedona, Arizona, I didn’t have a lot of expectations. Instead I had a very subtle, dare I say, cockiness that there really wasn’t much of anything I hadn’t already experienced; that there wasn’t anything new under the sun. I had come to that conclusion after twenty-some-odd years of meditation and dabbling in an array of psycho spiritual and emotional arenas. It’s not that I am spiritually jaded – I’d prefer to think of myself as being more of a spiritual connoisseur.
In the past, I had diligently worked on myself, scrubbing my childhood and parental issues fairly clean using the suds of many different modalities. I’d even taken a toothbrush into the corners and crevices of my subconscious, bravely facing any crud that still lurked. I scraped, I peeled. I did whatever it took; I studied and taught yoga, meditation, co-counseling and rebirthing; even sojourned to India. I manifested wealth, relationships and fulfilled desires.
And then one day I gave it all up. I dropped everything and said no more techniques, no more desires. Enough was enough already – besides, I was in a pretty good place in my life. I’d quit my job and was even playing at house frau for awhile. Rather than going after new things I was in an empty space of waiting and watching. Many times I would pray, let Thy will be my will because I’ve worn out my own agenda – so whatever You want is okay with me. I waited and waited. The Grace of an advaitic teacher came into that empty space – as well as Satsang – right into my empty living room -gatherings of those wanting to abide in the Truth of the Self.
It was at one of these gatherings that someone whispered something to me about Eli Jaxon-Bear and how much they respected his work. But as the months passed I remembered and forgot his name many times. And then a year later, out of the blue, I had an impulse to contact a long lost friend who raved to me about this wonderful work she was doing. I had a gut feeling – this is that guy again – “What is his name?” I asked – “Who teaches this?” And she said, “Eli Jaxon-Bear,” and I thought, “Okay, okay – I get the message.”
As luck would have it, there happened to be a workshop coming up near my home. I blindly signed up for the five-day course on the enneagram with Eli, even though I hadn’t heard of it, let alone spell it! Still, I had the unshakable faith that this landed in my lap for a reason. I was open to anything.
The workshop proved to be an eye opener. I was able to see a core part of my mind that I was still identified with – the part of my mind I still believed, still trusted. I realized I could go round and round and practice every psycho emotional, spiritual transformational process there was, but until I could see where I was blind, there would always be this core that remained fairly untouched; this heretofore elusive core called “me” that I could never seem to get beyond.
All these years of striving for Self Realization and yet here I was attached and identified to a “me” I couldn’t even see.
If you keep trying to see something that is stuck to the back of your head, you turn your head from side to side, straining to see what is behind you. You’re able to see the peripheral area, but because it’s plastered to the back of your head, it’s impossible to truly see. The enneagram proved to be a truly beautiful system to uncover, view and transcend the egoic structure.
Many things about this my personality fell into place; why I hadn’t been able to go beyond a certain place or stage in my own spiritual journey; why I couldn’t fully transcend the mind (how could I transcend that which I couldn’t even see!) As a result of those five days, I better understood Eli’s challenge on his course flyer “If you’ve had enough ego-strengthening and are hungry for what is beyond ego… if you’ve had a glimpse, a taste of the unchanging infinite… or had an inkling that there is something beyond personality, ego; if you are ready to go beyond the endless repetition of the personal history of my life into who you truly are, then this is the course for you.”
Before the course, I hadn’t considered the distinction between ego strengthening and ego transcending. Two different modalities; one addressing the functioning of the personality so that life is more functional and successful, the other to dissolve the personality and the attachment to desires and discover your true nature; pure happiness, pure bliss.
This made complete sense to me. I had seen what I considered to be the pitfalls of endless ego-strengthening; achieving a never-ending list of personal material goals, becoming too absorbed in the past, in some deep wound or trauma and spending literally years processing – all the while overlooking the Truth about who we really are. This seemed like an important distinction to make especially since I was not undertaking this adventure because I wanted a better life, or a better relationship or to heal traumas. For me I was interested to discover greater depths and learn a skill in order to be of service to that Silence.
I had seen many people on the spiritual path try to avoid this ego strengthening piece – the spiritual bypass or denial of one’s own personal story, history, childhood – the wounds, traumas. In fact I had seen many people use the spiritual path as an avoidance of the deep troubling shadows of the past – I had been one of them. How rare to find a place that recognized both modalities, the need for both as well as the pitfalls of both.
Fascinated, humbled, and feeling like a total neophyte in this brave new world, I left the course better able to see the structure of my own ego (and of course more able to understand my dear husband.) I knew there was more that I had yet to discover so I embarked on the three-week retreat which focused on the enneagram, hypnotherapy and NLP as a framework for transcending the ego; the character fixation – my point on the enneagram.
The course was an intertwining of hypnotherapy, neurolinguistic programming and advaitic self-enquiry designed to peel apart the trance induction, the illusion of this body/mind personality and the identification to this person called “me.”
Though Eli’s expert talent and skill at technique was truly masterful – it wasn’t the techniques alone that exposed our frightened egos; It was rather Eli’s emptiness, awareness and love, the depth of his own personal realization, that allowed each client to drop into deeper levels of awareness and to safely reveal the layers of ego.
Eli had a facile, loving way of inviting emotion to release, dissolve. He compassionately guided and supported the client to release the tendency to keep frightening uncomfortable emotions at bay. He worked with the energy of the emotion without the story or history connected to it, which enabled people to expose the traps that keep them in this trance induction of “I am this body/mind.”
Personally, I discovered a lot of traps. Whenever I noticed my mind engaged in thinking and doubting I then noticed what feeling was being avoided. As I let all of the thoughts dissolve, I became more enamored with the stillness deep within. Even though the strong tendency of mind would again and again begin to divert awareness into thoughts, I could let the thoughts dissipate, disappear, and awareness would again be free to sink in even deeper… and in sinking in… I discovered anxiety… and as I let the story of anxiety dissolve there was fear… fear of the death of the body, fear of the unknown. What if I were to truly let go and know that I’m not this body? Would I die? What is on the other side of this fear? Once again noticing the habit of the story, the habit of thinking… and allowing thoughts to dissolve… and experiencing just fear itself… and then dropping through to the other side of fear.
And I don’t know whether or not this makes any sense to you … whether or not something about this experience resonates with a deeper part of you … knowing there is something more … wanting that something more.
I’d like to invite you to explore what might happen if you closed your eyes and fully and completely let go… letting go of needing to control… or needing not to control… letting go of all needs… the need for approval…the need for security… I’m curious to know if you’ll discover… what it might be like … as the illusion of this ego falls away… and you surrender even deeper inside… dropping in deeper… and deeper… and I wonder if you’ll uncover what is on the other side of fear… and that once you let yourself drown in the fear… and come out the other side … If you’ll find yourself… in the utter futility… of conforming to the belief that you are a body/mind….. and the existential despair… of identifying as a human being… I’m curious to discover if you’ll have the courage to unravel this identification… to drown in whatever shows up… The willingness to find out what’s on the other side… and if you find yourself on the edge… of a black hole… not knowing … but knowing …. that this too is part of the path home… that this is where you must go… and as you surrender into the blackness… all concepts, all ideas, all left behind…. falling further still…. until there is … only peace … joy … kindness … love … purity … joy … emptiness, fullness, the everything and the nothing that you truly are.