The Devil on Your Shoulder

balancing-turtleYou know that cartoon that shows the choice between the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other? It’s supposed to represent the idea of temptation. It gives the impression that the devil is the tempter, while the angel is the one we’re supposed to follow.

What if the angel on your shoulder is also a tempter?

I know that may seem a bit crazy, but hear me out. Life itself is constantly seeking balance.  Ecosystems seek balance. There’s a balance of light and dark, warmth and cold, positive and negative. Our human nature is no different. There is always a middle way seeking balance between two extremes.

The middle way is our True, Divine nature. This is the aspect of us that is clearly connected as a mediator between above and below, Heaven and Earth, Spirit and matter. Your middle, balanced way is your Wise Higher Self. It is the part of you that is tuned in to the spark of the Divine that flows through you, and makes you a creator rather than a victim in life. Your Wise Self is the one with the True power to create a life of fulfillment, joy and peace.

devil-angel-sketchIn order to connect with the Wise Self, we are constantly seeking balance between extremes. The angel and the devil on your shoulder both represent extremes that tempt you to stray from the path of your True, most empowered Self, and each extreme tempts in different ways.

Most of us are familiar with the idea of the devil wanting us to do something “wrong” or “indulgent,” but we can easily argue that both characters want us to do something “wrong” or “indulgent” in some way.

The devil wants us to stay deeply immersed in the material world, removed from the connection to Spirit. This is the tempter that would have us worshiping the “God Economy” and focused only on greed, money, technology, science and the idea that the material is all there is and all that matters, thus confusing what is a caricature of life and nourishment for what is provided by the Creator as truly life-giving. The devil keeps us immersed in gravity, feeling heavy, inadequate and individual-focused. We focus on differences and tend toward fundamentalism and divisiveness. We doubt ourselves and others, and may not believe we have any power at all. We tend toward fear, competition and excessive self-involvement, and lose our capacities to take responsibility for our lives and take empowered action that benefits all.

The angel, being the opposite extreme of the devil, wants us to disregard the material and put all of our focus on the spiritual. The angel tempts us to deny our material needs. This comes with excessive levity, causing us to have our head in the clouds and be ungrounded in our lives. Illusion is commonly bought into, as we want to be free from all earthly worry and care. The angel tempter would have us denying our individual selves, seeking only unity, with a disregard for our individual strengths and uniqueness. Rather than heaviness, we indulge in hyperactivity and succumb to overwhelm and frenzy. The angel tempts us to move toward fantasy, and ignore the reality of what is.

We could certainly make an argument for the “wrong-ness” or “indulgence” of each of these extremes. Yet each side is an important aspect of ourselves, and also comes with qualities that we need in life.

The side of the devil is what honors the unique, individual differences and diversity amongst us. It is what can allow us to make technological strides, and understand more about life and our origins through the sciences. It allows us to consider the wonders of what is possible in the world, and appreciate the many ways Spirit manifests itself in matter. It is only “devilish” when we allow our differences to divide us, our science to narrow our perspective, and our fascination and concern with the material to push us toward greed, disempowerment or a false sense of what is living.

The side of the angel is what brings expression through the arts, and appreciates beauty. It allows us to find our commonalities and connection with one another. It is what keeps us climbing to new heights and exploring the unseen realms of existence, honoring them as equally real and important as the material. It is only a tempter when we allow our expression to be an escape out of reality, our longing for connection and unity to dishonor our differences and unique gifts, and our striving for new heights to cause us to seek power and control.

Can you see how each side is a tempter, while each side also has qualities that bring us to balance and help us to discover the empowered middle way of our Wise Self?

Our Wise Self is the empowered, Divine, clear and courageous essence of our being. It does not go into a false sense of powerlessness (devil side), filled with doubt, anxiety and fear that causes us not to believe in ourselves or anything beyond the status quo. It does not go into a false sense of power (angel side), filled with the longing to be above life and its trials, which may cause us to seek control or align with those who seem to have control and power.

Only by honoring the sensual experience of our material world through the inner scientist, while at the same time honoring the super-sensible aspects of reality through our spiritual nature can we truly step into our true task as mediators between Heaven and Earth.

We are nearing the time of Michaelmas, in which our dragons rise up and try to keep us from reaping the harvest of our continued development and growth. These dragons often show up in the form of temptations trying to keep us from realizing a higher level of true empowerment. I’ve created helpful tools in my Balance and Empowerment cards, which you can use to help you see various ways in which these tempters manifest themselves, and how you can stay connected to your true inner power on a regular basis.

As you work toward the middle way and connection to your Wise Highest Self, remember that the tempter can never compel. It can only tempt. You always have the inner power to choose. The capacity to choose wisely comes with the striving to find balance, and the willingness to sacrifice aspects of one extreme for more of the other. With tools to help you see what can throw you off and how misalignment shows up, you can stay strong on your path toward a life of fulfillment and joy.

I’d love to hear from you, and how you navigate through the temptations of life, succumbing or not succumbing to them, and what connects you most strongly with your Wise Self.

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