We here at Rosehare Central tend to avoid using the word ‘authenticity’. This blog post briefly explains why.
There is a new worldwide movement growing momentum that, we believe, will have the same degree of impact in the 2020s that the three-strand braid of civil rights, spiritual experimentation and greater sexual freedom had in the 1960s. This movement involves elements of embodiment (expressing and embracing your body, trusting your heart), intimacy (expressing and embracing vulnerability in yourself and others), polymorphism (expressing and embracing forms of sexual and social bonding outside the culturally-ordained cisgender dyadic relationship paradigm) and world-centric awareness (embracing and expressing the awareness that the ever-present limitless horizon means ‘big ball’ not ‘infinite field’ so maintaining environmental integrity is essential).
Central to embodiment, intimacy, polymorphism and worldcentrism is the notion that we need to cultivate a more open-minded mentality, one enabling us to overcome a pre-existing conditioning which imprisons us in the isolated turret of our head, dead from the neck down and guzzling dietcoke from plastic bottles. The word authenticity tends to get used to describe this mentality; authentic people cultivate embodiment, intimacy and drink personally-blended fruit juice etc etc. It is a laudable aspiration.
The difficulty I have with this word is that, if you stop to think about it, there is the implicit assumption that there is a Real Authentic You deep inside the Rubber Clown Suit of your socio-cultural conditioning. This Suit is the accumulation of muscular tension, energetic sclerosing and restrictive self-limiting beliefs, collectively a contractive response to stress/trauma.
The work you do in the course of your personal journeying involves a shredding and shedding of this Suit so that the Authentic Person ‘inside’ can be freed up to embrace and express the elements of the Embodiment Revolution with freedom and delight. There is, in consequence, a reliance on de-armouring techniques – essentially the shredding and shedding of the Rubber Clown Suit by softening the muscular tensions – to achieve the authentic state.
This, to our mind, is a partial truth. Our work here at Rosehare Central certainly involves a good deal of shedding and shredding.. However, there seems to be a problem in the analogy of the Suit and the Authentic Human Within. How many workshops have you attended in which you felt like you stepped out of all that historical crud that has been weighing you down, driving home on Sunday afternoon with your favourite songs playing full blast, inspired to start new projects…. to revert to that deflated, enshackled Same Old Shit by Thursday afternoon? If we shred the Suit over the weekend through pressure and catharsis, how come it gets restitched and reworn? It’s not that good an analogy, this notion that authenticity requires softening and stripping stuff away like outdated wallpaper on the unchanging old wall that you are. It’s too simplistic.
Freud carries some of the responsibility for this. As a boy he thrilled to the exploits of the German archaeologists who were excavating in Egypt. Back in the 1880s, archaeology was a new field and the idea that if you dig deep enough, you uncover hidden old stuff stayed with him as he began to explore the human psyche. Hence his Topographical Model of the mind with the Unconscious lying deep within the strata of the psyche, waiting to be discovered like a buried city. This notion of Digging Deep To Find The Truth pervaded twentieth century psychotherapy through post-Sixties personal growth strategies to contemporary approaches to wellbeing; The Person You Were Meant To Be lies deep within like the Ruins of Troy, already formed and ready for archeology to dig it up and dust it off.
And yet…workshops wear off. The stuff we do in them may loosen us up somewhat, which is advantageous in itself but the psyche has a sort of shape memory like, well, a clown made out of solid rubber; stretch it, bend it, flatten it and it springs back into clown shape as soon as you let it go. The World Outside Workshops has a way of triggering the Shape Memory Reverting Process. Clearly, the analogy of being a Rubber Clown seems more accurate than having a Rubber Clown Suit with your Truest Self buried deep at its core. We suggest that there is no metaphysical authenticity at our core and the implicit assumption that there is one lends credence to the absolute curative aspects of interventions based on shredding and shedding, particularly in the physical/energy systems. Quite often, exponents of embodiment are skeptical of the value of relational, ‘talking’ therapies, implicitly because they do not shed and shred to liberate the Real You.
So let’s go back to the Solid Rubber Clown. The rubber in this analogy, is energy, otherwise known as prana, qi, life force. Energy flows in waves. Our psyches are condensations of this life force; energy congeals/freezes as personality/character which makes us more rigid and predictable, less creative and joyful as human beings living on Spaceship Earth. Freeing up this energy does not involve a releasing of an authentic inner self but an alchemical transmutation of the very structure of the rubber so that it becomes free and flexible enough to assume whatever shape one wills it to be. And the more we experience this energy as creative flow as opposed to scripted congealment, the more our will aligns with the will of the cosmos.
Tantra (certainly the Rosehare flavour) experiences our self-sense as a flow of energy and a point of consciousness; when our consciousness plays on energy we create our lives as a guardian and celebrant of Life. When we become imprisoned by the shoulds and oughts imposed from without, when we are traumatised and betrayed by our so-called caretakers, when we are culturally exploited and oppressed by those who would project their own personal hells into ourselves, then our free energy contracts as rubber. All the way in.
We do not work on ourselves to liberate a true authentic self; this concept is as limiting as that which we seek to liberate ourselves from. Rather than getting caught up in seeking, we can surrender into noticing how we are, how the world is. We soften rather than try to cognitively restructure ourselves according to what we think our authentic selves ‘should’ look like. Rather than thinking in terms of being ‘authentic’, we think in terms of being ‘natural’.
We are natural when free of limiting beliefs, muscular tensions and energy blocks. Spontaneously, our hearts and minds are married up. We respond creatively and spontaneously to whatever situation arises within and before us. We take pleasure in cherishing friendships, our families, our tribes, the environment. We are filled with vitality and sexiness because all the formerly-congealed energy is now running freely within us, wild, loose and celebratory.
We have no more liberated an authentic inner-self than an acorn liberates a mature oak tree hidden inside it. Instead, the self, like the acorn, evolves through the constant nourishment of light, nutrients and water. It doesn’t need to shed anything because no forces ever suggested to the acorn that it couldn’t grow into the tree it becomes. Naturalness. Like the acorn and sapling, we have no clear idea of what we transform into, we simply nourish ourselves with good company, a practice which energises, softens and deepens awareness and vitality, we don’t do Diet Coke, we leave a light environmental footprint. In short, we live in an unobstructed way.
Naturalness. Not Authenticity.
The Rubber Clown Suit was a term used by David Lynch, by the way. And the notion that we are a flow of energy and a point of consciousness, whilst endemic to Classical Tantra, owes its expression to John Hawken