Soul Violations

by admin on March 11, 2014

I’ve gone through a rough few days. A respected spiritual teacher who read my book and interviewed me last year announced a new course and teaching he’s offering – using much of my language, ideas, and soul’s declaration as his own.

What made this harder to swallow is that this teacher reached out privately last year communicating how moved he was by the transmission of the book and how our interview was “cataclysmic” for him. But when his newsletter and 10-page brochure arrived in my inbox last week describing his own transformation and new teaching focus (that he’s now sharing with other influential spiritual teachers), my name was not mentioned.

Through some lenses, this is a classic story: older male spiritual teacher not properly acknowledging the divine feminine and the spiritual influence of a younger woman, but unfortunately, I’ve experienced this with women as well. In fact, this scenario is painfully familiar and all too common in the spiritual and self-help arena and therefore the rest of this piece comes from an amalgam of many personal experiences, not just my experience with this teacher.

Why does this happen? For some obvious reasons that involve our psychological shadows and the spiritual marketplace’s relentless commodification of the Sacred, but in my opinion, essentially it’s also because no matter how much spiritual practice we’ve done or how evolved we feel or how devoted to the divine feminine we are or what our best-selling books, fancy websites, exciting newsletters, and tempting teleclasses convey …

we still don’t understand or respect the soul.

We blanket our “taking” of another soul’s hard work without acknowledging our human source of inspiration with “spiritual cop outs” such as:

“No one ‘owns’ any spiritual words, ideas, practices, material. Universal Truth belongs to everyone. It all comes from the same Source. We’re all One,” etc. And if our work specifically involves the feminine the spiritual bypassing voice can sound like this: “We sisters need to always support each other (no matter what) and unify our message in order to help empower as many women as possible and serve the Divine Feminine. We’re all fighting for the same cause and we’re all embodiments of the same Goddess,” etc.

For those of us who are “taken” from, we think that the twisting in our belly, the rip in our heart, and the rage coursing through our veins are unhealthy or “unenlightened” or “unfeminine” reactions. It must be our inner divine diva throwing a tantrum, insecurity, selfishness, competition…so we do our embarrassing inner work and keep silent.

Meanwhile, our soul is screaming.

Because it knows it has been violated.

Why this is such a tricky, complex, and confusing topic is that soul violations happen on the easily-dismissed subtle realms and cannot be “proven,” and because soul violations of the kind I’m focusing on in this piece, often happen unconsciously and are usually backed by good intentions. We are inspired by someone else or their material and perhaps have had some similar experiences, so now genuinely feel we’re being called to share this material too.

But, if we’re not doing in-depth work with our energetic shadow (not just our psychological shadow), cosmic ego (not just our human ego) and spiritual ambition, all of which leak through our wounded psyches and its honest needs (to feel seen, loved, “spiritually significant”), and if some small part of us is operating under the influence of the ever-consuming capitalistic spiritual culture (how can I promote myself, attract more clients, create more empowering programs, keep inspiring my audience, add more meaning to my message and stay on the spiritual cutting edge?), we can end up taking the fruit off a tree that’s not ours to take. Fruit that has not organically grown through the seasons and labors of our own soul’s specific journey.

Also, all of us host “hungry ghosts” created from past experiences of feeling powerless, insignificant, worthless, separated from the divine and cut off from the Universe’s life force. If our hungry ghosts aren’t identified and integrated, they will “feed” off other souls when the right opportunity presents itself.

This is why our upset is not so much about the using of “our words” or “our ideas” by others we have personally interacted with (or who are familiar with our work), but about the misuse of our very life force and soul sweat that has infused those words and ideas.

Case in point: Both in my book and in my interview with this teacher, I quite literally bared my soul. Whenever we dare to bare our soul to others (in a book, talk, interview, conversation with a close friend, making love with our intimate partner, creating a piece of art) a pure and powerful transmission occurs.  A transmission that’s not just of “The Divine,” but also of the distinct soul of the human.

In other words, it’s not just Universal life force that blasts out of our pores and inspires others, but also, our very soul force that should not be “used” by others for their own professional gain (deep bows to Gandhi and MLK’s use of “soul force,” but I’m talking about something slightly different here).

The night after I read about this man’s “new” teaching and course, my boyfriend informed me that I talked all night in my sleep (I’m not normally a sleep talker) in a heart-breakingly sad voice:

“I feel so used, I feel so used. I feel so used…”

Because part of my soul had “been used.”

However, as you might have ascertained by now, when this “taking” happens and we confront the “taker” we can sound like a petty possessive loony tune (“how can anyone ‘take’ the soul mojo of another?!”) because the energetic reality of the soul is foreign to most of us, so the above material isn’t commonly considered, recognized or even discussed in most spiritual circles. It’s not even taken seriously.

Also, because the unconscious reasons (shadows and wounds) behind why the taker has taken are usually painful to face and could demand a dismantling of their current identity and work, so their spiritualized ego might brush off our “strange” claims, downplay their “taking” (“you’re overreacting, it was just a newsletter/class/website/tagline/chapter in a book.”) or tell us we are psychologically “projecting” onto them, or they defend their “taking” like their very life depends upon it (because some part of it actually does), most often by using spiritual cop out phrases (“your trying to control or ‘claim’ something that belongs to the Divine” or “every Being in this Universe”) or by saying they’d been using this language and doing this work in their own right all along.

(mind spins)

Like I said,

This. Is. Tricky. Territory.

Because yes, we are united, thoroughly interdependent, made of and inspired by the same God/dess and growing in consciousness together AND our souls are as unique as our fingerprints and it is only by embodying and transmitting our divine distinctiveness that the Whole Universe evolves. Bottom Line: We need to respect both aspects of our divinity.

The challenge is that soul violation can’t usually be known through the mind or seen via classic spiritual lenses that focus more on spirit (transcendence, unity) than soul (immanence, uniqueness).

The only way to feel when our soul has been violated is through our own soulbody.

To be clear: We’ve all played both roles – being the violator and being the violated. My 4 years in the red tent grilled my ass around my own particular violating habits and made me aware of how much I’ve allowed my soul to be violated by others (also a habit). Both violating and being violated were equally devastating to face, but also incredibly healing and enlightening, and I’m still learning, slipping up, and working on these parts of myself.

Point is, once you become aware of this kind of soul violation  – what it feels like when you’re doing it to others and what it feels like when it’s being done to you, and, most importantly, the underlying (and if you allow, illuminating) reasons behind why you are doing it and allowing it to be done to you – you will not easily dismiss or underestimate this reality ever again.

You can stay silent about it, like I have for years because it feels too risky to share and too difficult to try and explain, or you can speak out about it in ways that aren’t perfect, but are human…like I am here.

(deep inhale)

You see, what happened to me this past week (and repeatedly over the years) isn’t only about what I’ve communicated so far,
it’s also about someone’s casual adoption of my soul’s specific dharma.

a distinct dharma that my soul has spent lifetimes cultivating

that is now, finally, ready to be embraced and embodied as my own Distinct Divine Being and whole-heartedly offered to this planet with no subtle strings attached.

(deep exhale)

In Tibetan Buddhism there are fierce wrathful badass Beings called Dharma Protectors whose only role in the Universe is to protect the dharma of a practitioner.

My Lady morphed into my Dharma Protector this past week.


But, my Lady isn’t as effective without her human (as She always reminds me).

After my boyfriend told me what I said in my sleep the other night, how profoundly used part of me felt, I knew I had to finally confront this familiar and difficult situation and write about it, not to blame or implicate anyone (the teacher has now privately apologized and publicly acknowledged my influence and revealed his very honest human heart), but to show my soul that I’m protecting and honoring her, no matter what it might sound like to others.

Because if we cannot protect and honor our own soul, we cannot protect and honor other souls.

And then, my beloved friends, we would be failing our very reason for being here.

To close this piece (which I realize has several “holes” and will be written about with more nuance and depth in the future), remember, we have all committed soul violations and are re-learning the soul’s reality together. So, please don’t “cheerlead me on” or condemn the teacher (or anyone else) if you make a comment. We need to be radically responsible, unwaveringly fierce AND exceedingly compassionate about this common phenomenon.

Our souls deserve it.

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