Ladder of Transformation
Sometimes reality will express itself in imagery that Jung would call archetypal—resonating so deeply as to be almost instinctually recognizable to all of us. The spiritual metaphor of Jacob’s Ladder from Genesis is gripping:
Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his headand lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
Out of this dream came the divine promises that Judaism has used to define its identity, to sustain itself over centuries of hardship, and to justify its aggression. Dreams can script us for life; they can script cultures and entire peoples, creating the reality within which they live. All of us are born into one or another cultural dream; all of us are supported yet limited by the assumptions of that dream in countless ways. If we are to ever be free of such chains of gold we must learn how to write our own script, but that is not enough. It has to reflect the priorities of our inner compass.
The following is one seeker’s amazing account of doing just that. This interview is part of an ongoing process. It is hardly enough to bring lasting developmental transformation by itself. What it can do is access perceptual frameworks that are relatively free; what it can do is access experiential states which, if revisited regularly, can turn into an ongoing, permanent higher, more inclusive stage of development.
First comes my interpretive comments on the interview, designed to help you understand what you will read in the interview itself, which follows.
Mermaid has not the usual three, but one over-riding, simple life issue: To love and be loved. This issue is almost like a prayer. Sometimes the power of an IDL interview is a product of the quality and intensity of the intent that one brings to it. That certainly seems to be the case here.
The feeling of love brought up the color blue for Mermaid, which congealed into the form of a ladder, which viewed the world and the good and bad, love and war within it, with complete acceptance. Mermaid imagined that she became the ladder and as it, answered the series of questions you will find in the full interview below. The ladder said that its function is to show Mermaid the way to the Sky.
Now this is an interesting destination for a ladder. A ladder to nowhere? What will prop up the ladder? This is a ladder to nowhere in particular and, on the other hand, to everywhere. This is a ladder to potentials so expansive that they transcend life on earth, with all of its forms and meanings, completely. This is a ladder that holds itself up without effort, without question, in a way that would be seen as either irrational, absurd, or scary to the rational mind of a human.
Its function is non-discriminatory, meaning nowhere does the ladder say that it is for Mermaid’s use. Instead it says its strength is “helping people to go up.” It helps anyone who wishes to use it to transcend their present level of stuckness, their present conditions, if they so desire.
The ladder states that its weakness is that it wishes that it could be long enough to reach the sky. So it shows Mermaid the way to the Sky, the way to transcend not only her stuckness but that of anyone, but does not reach all the way to the Sky; it only points the way to it. If it could change it would be longer; it would actually reach its destination; it would take one all the way out of their stuckness. As love, it would take anyone into a love-filled life.
This is a very high scoring ladder. It doesn’t mind being stepped on. It doesn’t mind being “used,” in fact, that’s why it exists. Can you and I say the same? Don’t we hate being stepped on by others? Don’t we hate feeling “used?” From the ladder’s perspective, those are not problems. It exists to be stepped on! It exists to be used! How would your life be different if you looked at it in such a way? Does that mean that you would be a subservient, submissive, passive, spineless person without rights and without permission to speak up for yourself?
Is that how the ladder is? Hardly. It doesn’t fear anything. It loves itself and those people who step on it. It knows what it is, its job, what it is here to do. Do you? It accepts everyone. It doesn’t allow its great peace to be disturbed either because it is used or it is not used by people. It doesn’t do drama. Instead it observes life. It observes people going up toward the sky.
What is this ladder’s secret for staying out of drama? It knows what it is and what its job is. Do you? It’s job is “a passage for people and letting them put their feet on me…I should be under their feet…I should tolerate their weight…I should help the people who don’t care (about) my steps (but) only use me. I would let anyone and everyone use me, even those who can hurt me the most. I need to not take myself seriously. I am only a ladder…a leader ladder.”
If the ladder scored all tens in these qualities (confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing) it would become aware of how strong a ladder it is. How strong do you feel? And is your strength based on contact with who you really are and what you are here to do or is it based on what other people think about you? Is it based on what you possess? Is it based merely on what you have been taught should give you strength?
If Mermaid lived her life as this ladder, she would be happy. She “would forgive all people who …lie to her, who ignore her wishes, who try to impose their intent(ions) and fears (on) her shoulder(s). (She) would try to live like B (an inspirational friend) and close (her) eyes on their mistakes.” She would focus on loving in all life situations.
Why did this ladder come up for Mermaid instead of the sky or a porcupine or a postman? It says that it is in her life to tell her that she is very important to God because she is a ladder for truth, a channel for His love and truth. In order to fulfill this role she needs to recognize her own value and not fear the criticisms of others, their threats, and to tolerate all pains because God wants her to. Her role is to be a messenger, a ladder, a channel for His love and truth, like St. Francis of Assisi.
Once Mermaid recognizes and accepts her role, her job is to trust it and do it. As she puts it, “You are His messenger…so leave yourself in His arm right now.”
Mermaid now has not merely an image, but an experience of her role of personal connection to the infinite to sustain her and communicate to others. This makes her authentic in who she is and what she does. This is extremely important, because almost everyone thinks they are doing God’s will; most everyone who is a leader, company owner, head of an NGO, or a religious authority, believes that they are a force for good and representative of what is right and just. German soldiers in both world wars one and two went to war wearing belt buckles that said, “Gott mit uns,” or “God is with us.”
So what keeps Mermaid’s experience from being just a self-validating grandiose fantasy? The answer is easy. It is the continued use of Integral Deep Listening.
Interviewing, when combined with a willingness to test the recommendations within the interviews, acts as a cybernetic, or self-correcting, governor for your growth. Your emerging potentials will tell you when you are getting grandiose and narcissistic. They supply “subjective objectivity” from sources that know you better than you know yourself, better than your friends and family know you. When the guidance of your emerging potentials is combined with the perspectives of others who also strive to access their emerging potentials, you are not only relying on the subjective objectivity of your inner compass. You are also listening to how respected others see how you are performing in the world. The third tool is to filter both sources through your common sense. What’s working? What isn’t? What makes sense? What doesn’t? When you combine all three of these sources you do something IDL calls “triangulation:” you make better decisions about your life because you have an ongoing system of self-government based on checks and balances.
Like Mermaid, you too can get clear about your life direction. Like Mermaid, you can place your fears and doubts in an authentic context that weaves them into the beautiful unfolding tapestry of your life. Like the dark threads in a tapestry, like the dark colors in a glowing masterpiece, like the dark moods of the weather, your fears and doubts can find acceptance and function as important parts of the greater whole of all of who and what you are.
Following is the interview. Mermaid’s native language is not English, and her cultural traditions are not Western. But the universality of humanity shines through.
Mermaid writes to a mutual friend, B. The comments in parentheses are mine, added for clarification.
I was interviewing with myself at midnight when you wrote your last letter..I was meditating with my emerging potential (another interviewed character, either from a dream or the personification of a life issue, such as this one) to hear my inner voice to overcome my pains, and your heavenly words gave me rest again..If your job in the world has been being alive till 76 years old with a very successful life and a productive life is something, but I think God saved you from near death only for something else..to write to me in the depth of darkness and among the darkness of my around, so I can feel warmth from the other side of the world,,to feel I am understood by a 76 y.o woman..there is a human being who understands me while she doesn’t speak (my language)..she touches my heart while she is not (of my religion),,she feels responsibility to wash my sorrows that my nearest ones create while she doesn’t have to..thank God for this blessing in my life..Please Take care of B, I need this heavenly woman..B, I know reading IDL interview is overwhelming for you, but this is the same I was writing when you posted your letter.
What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?
To love and to be loved
Which issue brings up the strongest feelings for you?
What feelings does this issue bring up for you?
If those feelings had a color (or colors), what would it be?
Imagine that color filling the space in front of you so that it has depth, height, width, and
aliveness. Now watch that color swirl, congeal, and condense into a shape. Don’t make it take a shape,
just watch it and say the first thing that you see or that comes to your mind: An animal?
Object? Plant? What?
Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teacher or a doctor? It’s easy
and fun for you to imagine that you are the shape that took form from your color and answer
some questions I ask, saying the first thing that comes to your mind. If you wait too long to
answer, that’s not the character answering – that’s YOU trying to figure out the right thing
Ladder, look out at the world from your perspective and tell us what you see…
The world is doing its job…with all good and bad events, with all love and war events
Would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?
I am a ladder toward sky , I show the way toward sky.
What do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?
Helping people to go up.
What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses? What are they?
I don’t dislike myself but I wish I would be long enough to reach the sky.
Ladder, you are in Mermaid’s life experience, correct?
She created you, right?
What aspect of Mermaid do you represent or most closely personify?
Her helping potential toward (helping others to reach) the sky.
Ladder, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would
you change? If so, how?
No it is good, but wait..Yes, I would like to be longer.
(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)
Ladder, how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities:
confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing? Why?
Confidence:??? I don’t fear anything..Is it possible somebody wants to break me?? ! ! !
Compassion:10 I love myself and all people that step on me ! !
Wisdom:??? I know my own job, why should I know everything?? ! ! ! !
Acceptance:10 I accept every person on my stairs ! ! !
Inner Peace: 10 when people use me,,well, it could be 10 when they don’t use me..this is their problem if they don’t use me..why should I disturb my own peace? ! !
Witnessing:! ! 10 I am watching people who go up toward sky.
Ladder, if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different? If so,
(I would be a) strong ladder toward the sky.
How would Mermaid’s life be different if he/she naturally scored like you do in all six of these
qualities all the time?
She would be happy.
If you could live Mermaid’s life for her, how would you live it differently?
Yes, I would forgive all people who tell the lie to her, who ignore her wishes, who try to impose their intents and fears to her shoulder..I would try to live like B..I would close my eyes on their mistakes..
If you could live Mermaid’s waking life for her today, would you handle Mermaid’s life
issue differently? If so, how?
What life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of Mermaid’s life?
In what life situations would it be most beneficial for Mermaid to imagine that she is you and
act as you would?
Ladder, do you do drama? If not, why not?
No, I let people go up.
What is your secret for staying out of drama?
I am a ladder,,a ladder’s job is a passage for people and letting them put their feet on me..I should be under their feet..I should tolerate their weight..I should help the people who don’t care for my stairs..they only use me..I should let the others use me, even J…I need to not make myself seriously..I am only a ladder..a leader ladder.
Ladder, you are imaginary. Why should Mermaid pay attention to anything you say?
It is a good meditation.
Why do you think that you are in Mermaid’s life?
I am in her life to say that she is very important in God’s viewpoint because He has put Mermaid on a ladder for the truth, He has answered her continuous prayer, yes, she has become a ladder, a channel for His love and truth, so she needs to know her own value and not to fear all criticizers..all threats..because God wants her to tolerate all pains ..God wants her to be like messengers ..only a ladder, a channel for His love and truth..Yes, Mermaid, you have become a messenger of God…yes, Mermaid this is the same as you read among all the files of E a year ago…and it came in front of your eyes: “You will someday be a messenger”..
Yes, Yes, that’s why I found it that night..wherever I go, I leave a very blessed footprint..tonight my sister-in-law called me from M and said that I solved her daughter’s problem only by one interview and she thanked me and said that she prays for me a lot..
It is the same flowers who were sprouting wherever you go Mermaid, in the “Mermaid in Wonderland ” dream..Yes, Mermaid’s dreams are true..you became skeptical about the truth of dreams (when you were in M) when all your family punished you for your workshop there (teaching IDL), you cried and asked yourself, “Are dreams a lie????” NO they are not lies..You have become a messenger..so you will face many pains, you will face miseries..but you should never (lose) this anchor point, being a ladder, a channel for truth..like saint Francis of Assisi..Be patient Mermaid..Be patient..and Let All use your stairs , even J..Don’t think of being used by others..Your job is being used..because you are a ladder, a channel..a passage.
How is Mermaid most likely to ignore what you are saying to her?
How can she forget the messenger role?
What would you recommend that she do about that?
Think of B’s words..even when you are crucified by painful words like Jesus..Think of B’s words.
Thank you, Ladder! And now a couple questions for Mermaid:
If this experience were a wake-up call from your inner compass, what do you think it would
be saying to you?
Congratulations Mermaid..You are His messenger…so Leave yourself in His arm right now
When you, like Mermaid, access your inner compass, you know it. You can feel it. It is like water in an oasis after you have been crawling through the desert. It provides rejuvenation, strength, direction, and confidence that you can go the distance, that you can cross your deserts and reach your Promised Lands.
What does Mermaid’s interview say about Integral Deep Listening? It says that as a method it can show you how and why you are stuck, regardless of where you are on the developmental spectrum. It can show you concrete things that they need to do to get unstuck. In Mermaid’s case, it recommends that she remember to experience herself as a ladder, regardless of what challenges life throws at her. Like this ladder, IDL points the way, but it does not get you unstuck; it only points the way.
However, anyone can use IDL in the way that the Ladder transformed itself: as a way to not only see how to get unstuck but to actually access unstuckness, to be free, spacious, and alive. You can experience universal love by accessing emerging potentials that are authentically present now, and that are already there, in the Promised Land, living where you want to be. Not everyone who practices IDL uses it in this way; Mermaid is doing so here, probably because that is how she uses it in her waking life — as a way to give and receive love. This beautiful ladder is a manifestation of her desire to help others to move out of suffering and into a life of love. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?
This Ladder exists within you. It is you. It is not only your destiny, but the destiny of all mankind.