Mar 232015

donoharm‘Everything is a Mirror’ can be a powerful and transformative practice as we learn to navigate the synchronistic relationship between the inner and outer life, between self and other.  But the moment we lose sight of the paradoxical nature of life, this bit of New Age fundamentalism can make us too psychically porous and, in certain situations, even put us in harm’s way. It can be especially damaging in abusive or chaotic situations, and can lead to victim-blaming and justification of reckless behaviour.

There are times when someone else’s bad behaviour is theirs and theirs alone. And, instead of reflecting on how you might improve yourself or ‘rise above your emotions,’ you must respect your reaction and Become the Mirror. Which is to say, show the other your strong, clear boundary.

This idea that we should have unlimited patience and flexibility implied in the ‘mirror’ precept trains us to tolerate more than we should, always ‘working on ourselves,’ quelling our disagreements, being ‘more evolved,’ and attaining inner peace. But what if inner peace depends upon your speaking your NO? What if being evolved means wielding the sword of discernment, which knows its own standpoint and isn’t afraid to say, “I’m not in that.”

Photograph by Ben Zank

Photograph by Ben Zank

In the ancient Kabbalastic tradition, the development of the soul is represented by a symbol called the Tree of Life. Its a kind of map to divinity which respects the polarities, and the middle way between them. Upon the tree are 10 sefirot, or spiritual principles, by which the world is created. Though it is a rich and complex system, I’d like to speak about one pair of counterparts; Chesed and Gevurah.

While Chesed is ‘boundless loving kindness,’ Gevurah is ‘no more.’ It is the restraint of our natural impulse to bestow goodness. It’s the line drawn in the sand.  While Chesed draws the other close, Gevurah is boundaries. It is the withdrawal which holds the other accountable.

Together, Chesed and Gevurah act to create a dynamic balance in the soul’s navigation of relationships & the world. Paradoxically, (and here’s the juicy part) it is Gevurah’s withdrawal which creates the potentiality for Chesed to occur! In other words, the discipline you expect of others is actually an expression of love. Different from judgement, Gevurah is the tenacity to our own & others’ greatest potential.

Though asserting your boundaries rarely feels ‘good’ in the moment, it is ultimately a loving gesture to recognize someone’s capability and say, “I expect better from you.” To say NO is a potent medicine which places responsibility where it truly belongs, and invites the other to live up to honouring those limits.

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A writer, artist and tender of dreams, Toko-pa has been interviewed by CNN News & BBC Radio and her writing has appeared in publications around the world. Thanks to Skype, she works with dreamers internationally in her Private Dreamwork practice, based on Salt Spring Island in Canada. You can find Toko-pa on Facebook or sign up for her mailing list to receive news about upcoming events.

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  14 Responses to “Everything is a Mirror (until it’s Not)”

  1. Beautiful post, Toko- Pa! I love the addition of the Sefirot juiciness <3

  2. I so appreciate how you “awake” the laziness, passiveness, and irresponsible character that hides in each of us in fear of the social and political “correctness” of the times.

  3. Awesome! This just frickin rocks. It takes an immense amount of courage to stand strong and declare that boundary. Thank you for the always timely reminder. I so appreciate your willingness to share your wisdom with us all.

  4. Thanks Toko-Pa. Exactly what I needed to hear. I’d love to know more about the tree of life as stages of the souls growth. Love Michele

  5. Recently I heard Byron Katie say that when we say No, it is a Yes to oneself.. I love that, makes such sense! Thank you Toko-pa for your heart beauty.

  6. Awestruck. Literally. Randomly found you and needed THESE words, after stepping bravely into my no this weekend. It’s been an almost two year journey with this particular soul. And tho it grieves me to leave him
    It’s time. The irony of this 3:30 am cell phone discovery is that I met him on SSI! A place that has become my spirit home. I’m still crying after leaving there on the 12th…. We met camping at ruckle. I’ve been back 4 more times. I currently in bumfuck Illinois….. But my soul walks on SS

    Beautiful, beautiful post. Dumbfounded and look forward to reading about you on a larger screen tomorrow.

  7. Although I agree with your concept, words are so powerful and I have never felt the energy of Geb as an action of turning away. I see them more as the pitcher and the liquid, the river and it’s banks, etc.So although I do understand and feel the presence of the boundaries of which you write, I more often feel those boundaries as the form which holds and assists the potential in it’s direction 🙂 <3

  8. Thank you for sharing this. I appreciate it on different levels. Gratitude.

  9. Can seriously suck though when you set a boundary and it is not received. I set boundaries in the hope the other side will care, but this is not always the case, in which case you mist revoke the relationship and more on.

  10. So many timesI’ve tried to explain this to people in dialogue about boundaries, spirituality, self-responsibility.
    When someone is being terrible, behaving badly…how is that my fault!? How am I somehow responsible for others’ actions?
    I point out…hmm. They are abusive, alcoholic, passive aggressive, whatever it may be. And Im not ‘asking for it’ energetically. The person is acting of their own volition. Learning, when I set a boundary, it’s to remove my energy from the transaction.

  11. Roaring your ‘No’ is sometimes the Only way..

  12. Wonderful!

  13. It is true that it can be difficult to know the difference between showing others love and support no matter how they act, and lacking self-respect, which is difficult to see for those interested (obsessed?) in bettering themselves. Thank you for making light on this topic, it put things in perspective.

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