|08-13-2007, 09:01 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Aug 2007
On Pavlina on fear and love
For those of you with an interest in the more theoretical aspects of Pavlina's model of the mind, especially those with an interest in Integral theory, I am posting below a short article from my blog today.
Until: On Pavlina on fear and love
In "Achieving Peak Motivation", Steve Pavlina explores the roots of human motivation:
I saw there were basically two different paths to a sustained state of peak motivation.I wouldn't describe love and fear in this way, since I use the terms in a different way. However, I can see Pavlina's point. As I see it, he's urging individuals to transform their motivations from lower egocentric levels of fear and love to higher, more worldcentric levels of fear and love. And the process of transformation does, in fact, involve a shift in energy. This shift may even take something like the form he describes, as a shift from inward (Thanatos) directed energy to outward (Eros) directed energy.
Unfortunately, I find the distinctions to obscure my own model of the mind, and confuse the terms of fear and love that I believe best represent what's going on in the world. In my terms, Pavlina is neglecting both healthy inward energy (Agape or homophilia) and unhealthy outward directed energy (Phobos or heterophilia). Thus, the activity he identifies as "love polarization" is actually just one of two major ways of shifting to a love motivation, one that emphasizes transformation. And the activity he identifies as "fear polarization" is actually just one of two major ways of identifying a fear motivation, one that emphasizes fear of translative activity.
This sort of confusion, I think, is pretty much unavoidable when giving life advice to persons at multiple levels of consciousness (say, egocentric and worldcentric). Energies, polarities, and definitions of love and fear mean different things at different levels and recommending healthful changes becomes more difficult. Identifying "fear polarization" as motivated by greed, lust, and power makes it sound like it's an unqualified bad. However, for many persons who have been harmed by inadequate attention to translative activity, learning how to set healthy boundaries, accept what's their own as rightfully theirs, own their bodiliy sensations and desires and sexual wants, and accepting their own personal power are not BAD but GOODS. Advice to avoid "fear motivation" really needs to be couched as avoiding Thanatos or homophobia, not Phobos or heterophobia. Otherwise, the problems of advice-giving are simply compounded.
Sorry for the abstractness of this post. Someone (perhaps I) should eventually get around to adding entries for Phobos, Thanatos, Eros, and Agape in the Integral Wiki. For individuals seeking more precise definitions, I refer them to Wilber's Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality or my own discussion of heterophilia and homophilia in Soulfully Gay.
Lightworkers and Darkworkers
Pavlina's discussion of lightworkers and darkworkers mitigates some of the difficulties of neglecting the distinctions I am advocating, but not by altering his core model of mind. Instead I would argue that his characterization of "lightworker syndrome" is actually a manifestation of pathological Agape (homophobia) and his characterization of "darkworker syndrome" is a description of pathological Eros (heterophobia). Pavlina writes:
Note that being a lightworker doesn’t mean you’re a self-sacrificing doormat for others; that mindset is what I call lightworker syndrome. You’ll often see it in spiritual types who try to hold themselves to high ideals yet can’t even pay their own bills, usually because they inherited a false model of how such people are supposed to live. Serving the greater good means recognizing that you are a part of the whole and that it’s more effective to serve from a state of abundance than one of scarcity. The more effectively you can meet your own needs, the better you can serve.In my own parlance, Steve is not only advocating a "love polarization" (healthy Eros) but also the avoidance of "lightworker syndrome" (homophobia, Thanatos, or unhealthy Agape), he's just doing so in a different lingo. In his discussion of "post-polarization," Steve gets even closer to the approach I'm describing (though still without integrating it into his model of fear and love):
The really interesting part is what happens post-polarization. I’ve said that both polarities ultimately lead to the same place, although it may take many years for this to be realized. The lightworker eventually figures out that if s/he wants to do the best job of serving others, it’s imperative to find a sustainable way to meet his/her needs and create some level of personal abundance, if for no other reason than to avoid the distractions created by scarcity. Similarly, the darkworker eventually discovers that the more s/he helps others, the easier it is to get what s/he wants too. Instead of being faced with the choice between love of others and love of self, it is recognized that the pinnacle of one side is the pinnacle of the other.n other words, over the course of time, persons who are primarily transforming their lives through healthy Eros (lightworkers) and avoiding Phobos are going to recognize that the only sustainable way to continue to translate (read: integrate) is to create "some level of personal abundance" via healthy Agape and avoiding Thanatos. And over time, persons who are primarily translating their lives through healthy Agape (darkworkers) and avoiding Thanatos are going to recognize the need to avoid "being faced with the choice between love of others and love of self" and therefore they're going to learn how to transform through healthy Eros and avoiding Phobos.
Pavlina's preference (and Perez the "darkworker")
Pavlina chooses ultimately to emphasize both the process of transformation and the lightworker path:
I think for virtually everyone, polarization is a key step that shouldn’t be skipped. ...Like David Deida (who emphasizes a spiritual path of polarity via relationships to others on the agency/communion axis), Pavlina emphasizes a spiritual path of polarity via relationships on the self/other axis. So long as Pavlina recognizes that ultimately an alternative path exists that winds up more or less in the same place, then I feel his choice of terminology and his clear distinctions are fully Integral (at the very least in the limited sense that they provide a useful map of the "cross at the center of Everything"--the cross that I describe as masculine/feminine, heterophilia/homophilia).
My own emphasis tends to be precisely the opposite (though it may not be apparent because I don't usually write on the same topics as Pavlina). In my experience, it is not simply the case that most people are sympathetic to polarity naturally and fewer are attracted to infusion. Generally, persons who are in socially dominant and privileged categories (such as male, heterosexual, class privilege, ethnic privilege, etc.) tend towards "polarity"-based modes of relationship and more marginalized persons tend towards "infusion"-based or communion-based modes. Simply put, people born with power need to learn how to put it into service to others; people without power need to claim their power before they can give it away.
Like the darkworker who recognizes that ultimately service to self and service to others cannot be distinguished, I believe the greater challenge in the world today is the need for integration of the disowned and repressed parts of the self. Ultimately, by claiming those aspects of the self that others would have us view as "less than", "sinful", "disordered," etc., the path of "integration" or "infusion" becomes dominant, not the path of "polarity". It is by mirroring that which is immanent to the self, and it is by loving that which is within and like the self, that the self comes to recognize its fullness and completeness as a perfect embodiment of Spirit. Infusion, not polarity, at least in the short-term, is the aim of my own work.
Ultimately, our choice is not between fear or love, fullness or freedom, polarity or infusion, heterophilia or homophilia, Eros or Agape. Our goal is right relationship with all aspects of ourselves and others on a lifelong journey to claim our fullest, deepest self and our emptiest, highest possibilities.
Last edited by writingwolf; 08-13-2007 at 09:32 PM.
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