Priest Class #2: Isolation

Isolation is defined as “to place or keep a person, place or thing by itself, separate from others. It is also the non-participation with (or the withdrawal from) the individuals participating within a social group.

Although Isolation is sometimes necessary when training in advance spiritual practices (e.g., cave meditation practice), the chronic social separation of a person from his or her spiritual support group is considered to be an unhealthy practice. If this type of self imposed Isolation is continued for long durations, the consistent lack of contact between the individual’s elders, contemporaries, and younger classmates can eventually lead to the spiritual starvation and emaciation. The consistent failure of the individual to receive the much needed teachings and information from spiritual mentors can also lead the priest into spiritual crises.

Because the function of a Daoist Priest is rooted in the heart of service, it is essential for the priest to continually receive spiritual support, and to be accountable for all of his or her actions and conduct. Without this much need support and accountability, the priest runs the high risk of becoming either worthless as a servant of the Dao (“no-salt”), or “Spiritually Arrogant.” Both energetic states serve as defense mechanisms, in which the memories of an unacceptable act or attitude causes the individual to become further separated from themselves and others in order to avoid the emotions originally associated with the people and/or places that they believe caused them pain.

There are many forms of Isolation:

  • Physical Isolation: Geographic isolation can separate you from other people
  • Discrimination Isolation: Because of your sexuality, race, gender, religious beliefs, intellectual or physical ability, looks, etc.
  • Cultural Isolation: People speaking a different language, have different customs or cultural expectations to you
  • Financial Isolation: Feeling “left-out” due to lack of money
  • Social Isolation: Living with a over-controlling, abusive, or extremely jealous parent or partner. Feeling “left-out” due to having children, not having children,

The Patterns of Emotional Isolation 

The following are specific internal patterns that can lead a priest to experience Emotional Isolation – Please discuss how you would assist someone in dealing with the following internal belief:

    • They feel that they have little to share with others – so they don’t bother
    • They don’t like themselves, and find it hard to believe that others will like them
    • They consistently criticize and/or harshly judge themselves
    • They do not trust people – This can be especially difficult if the individual has had an experience of extreme abuse or violence.
    • They are embarrassed or ashamed of themselves – They may feel “guilty, dirty, ugly, or stupid.” Once these toxic feelings become chronically repeated as part of the individual’s internal dialog, the “story” prevents them from reaching out to others. At this point, the individual believes that he or she is no longer a worthwhile person, and that no one would want to care for them or be their friend. These feelings can also be the result of an experience of extreme abuse, harassment or various forms of violence.
    • They feel “different” from other people. These feelings generally come from living in a society where certain “ways of being” have come to be expected. Therefore, the individual may also feel Isolated if they cannot celebrate who they are, or show part of their true identity.
    • They have a mental health condition, which makes it difficult for them to get out or mingle with other people.

Class Homework – Life Problem #2

As a priest – you will be faced with the opportunity to council others and help transform their lives for the better – Please discuss the following:

A student comes to you with the following problem

Student A does not want to work with the other students in their group  –

  • What would you do to help them resolve their differences and create trust?
  • How can this problem affect themselves and others?
  • What will be the benefits of the resolution
  • What will be the outcome of not resolving the problem?