Belonging: The Second Step on the Spiritual Journey
STEP ON THE JOURNEY – 1. Belonging
LEVEL – Ego
KEYWORD – Tribe
ACTIONS – Fitting in / gaining approval
BELIEFS – I belong / It’s us vs. them
CHAKRA – Navel
JUNGIAN ARCHETYPE – The Innocent
SIGN – Taurus
Belonging and the ego
Separation was Step One of the journey. In Step One, the ego aspect of ourselves defined its basic “I am” identity and also learned to manage its basic survival needs. At Step Two of Belonging, it now seeks next to resolve the dilemma of its own separation. Since the ego still has no conscious memory of its connection to the whole/to Source at this stage, we experience our need to get out of isolation in the only way we can: by bonding with those around us. The keyword for step two is thus Tribe. Tribe here has many levels, reaching from immediate family, to peer groups, to communities, to nations.
As I mentioned in the Separation article, the ego is neither good nor bad, but simply a necessary part of us. Yet it can manifest tendencies that are more positive or more negative in nature. There are many positive aspects to belonging: We develop our ability to love, connect, bond with, share, and care for others. We see ourselves more clearly through the mirror of relationship. Yet Step Two of Belonging has some negative manifestations as well, and it is these that will catch us up and keep us stuck in Step Two until we learn to resolve them.
Do any of these feelings and behaviors sound very familiar to you? If so, your ego may be spinning its wheels at step two of the spiritual journey:
- Needing the approval of others at any cost, usually by sacrificing your own feelings, thoughts, beliefs, morals or desired behaviors
- Setting conditions on love, expecting others to be a certain way before you’ll love them or accept them fully
- Seeking your identity through the group and feeling devastated when you are rejected
- Co-dependency, seeking your sense of worth through and from another
- Being stuck on either side of a power relationship: abuser/victim, bully/coward, ruler/ruled (often seen in work, where the boss/employee relationship plays out in unhealthy ways)
- Practicing the “us versus them” mentality, where your tribe (at whatever level: family, peer group, religious group, company, race, nation) is superior/inferior to another tribe
The level of Belonging is a state of duality. Instead of the one, there are now two. Yet we are still looking for ourselves from without, and the mirror that is held up by the world of form is always a distorted mirror. Unlike unconditional love, step two’s love is highly conditional and so we still remain incomplete and full of longing, often suffering in many of our relationships, both personal and professional. This occurs at both the micro and macro level, as evidenced by everything from high divorce rates and dysfunctional families to ethnic conflict, religious persecution, racism, sexism, and war.
Belonging and spirituality
Step two of Belonging is associated with the second chakra, the Navel chakra. This chakra is responsible for our ability to feel and to relate, among other functions. We must be able to interact with and rely on each other; not only to survive, but to co-create. This chakra not only drives our instincts for mating at the physical level, physical co-creation, but also at the emotional and subtle levels. “It takes two to Tango” is a good second chakra motto. The Navel chakra drives our desire for all types of partnership, not only romantic.
The Navel chakra manages our emotional reactions, both to others and to all that we have created/manifested with our first “survive & thrive” chakra. Unlike first chakra raw instincts, our second chakra feelings are more refined in nature. It is here we master enjoyment/dissatisfaction, pleasure/discomfort, nurturing/rejection, like/dislike, and all other basic love/hate polarity energies. All of these feelings should not be confused with higher 4th chakra heart feelings, where the soul and unconditional love begin to come into play. Still, they are the seeding ground. Without a healthy second chakra, we will not be able to move our energy up the ladder to heart level love. Similarly, without mastering the basics of belonging within a tribe, we also cannot move ourselves through the next steps on the spiritual path.
Archetypically, the step of Belonging relates to the energy of Jung’s Innocent. The Innocent can manifest positively and negatively. On the positive side, the Innocent within helps us master the ability to trust, to ask for help, and to rely on others. It teaches us about loyalty and fidelity. It is also responsible for our capacity for optimism and hope. The traps for our Innocent are fear of abandonment (causing us to remain loyal even when mistreated by another or by the group), relying so much on others that we never learn to care for ourselves, seeking continual rescue, unquestioning acceptance of authority, and devastation when we experience the shock of betrayal or disappointment. The point of balance comes when our Innocent can practice wise discernment, offering loyalty when it is earned, and facing disappointment while still retaining optimism and faith that the world is ultimately good.
Astrologically, step two correlates to the sign of Taurus, an earth sign and second on the wheel. It symbolizes peace and serenity, simplicity and harmony, and most importantly, security. At the mundane level Taurus is often associated with material possessions, yet this is a surface level interpretation. Possessions are collected during step one of Separation as Aries fights to “survive and thrive.” Once Aries hauls in all these possessions, Taurus responds (like our second chakra) to them emotionally and decides what to keep or not keep, to love or not love. At the deeper psychological level, Taurus is not really about outer security. Instead, our Taurus within seeks inner security, emotional security. It is this longing and seeking for inner security that connects Taurus energy to the second step of Belonging.
The trick with step two of Belonging is to learn to find inner security from within, not from without through our relationships and our Tribal identity. We will see next week how step three of Selfhood takes us beautifully from learning to belong, to learning to differentiate and be independent.