The Dance of Illegitimacy & Injustice in Nondual Therapy

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The partner of illegitimacy is injustice.

Esteem has no opposite.

In Esteem, injustice and illegitimacy are one.

“I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.”


Everything we know is based on what we have experienced and all that we experience are phenomenon arising within a boundless field of awareness. Within this field, both the objects of perception and the space between them are alive with awareness. This means that the entire universe is both alive and aware. When forms arise through awareness, they are affirmed, appreciated and unchallenged in their existential, value. Spontaneously arising out of awareness is the subtle Nondual fluid of esteem. The sense of esteem is found in the reunion of consciousness with itself, or life with life, or the miracle of being here in a physical body with the miracle or perception.

Esteem is a powerful, expansive energy of manifestation that is here in all we are, in whatever form, because we are. Esteem is in the trees, the mountains and the rivers. It is in the intelligent passage of a protein within a cell, and in the rising and falling of the tides. It is irrefutable. Yet in negotiating splits in the psyche between inner and outer, self and other, our bodies and nature, our individual manifestation and the True Nature of the whole, our unconditional sense of esteem gets obscured.

Contractions around esteem and self-esteem surface wherever forms of the Separate Self break down. Out of esteem, there is a passion to manifest. We feel special, unique and have a sense that our time here is a precious opportunity. Something momentous can seem to be at stake. Many forms of contraction are based on the evolution of the individual within the whole. In this, individuation cannot be forgotten. Yet there is a stage of individuation where individuality seems to be inseparable from limitation. Out of this limitation, we seek to become better, leading to further investment in the absolute form of identity and personality, and inevitably to despair. The paradox is that at Source, it is true that we are all individual, unique, precious and miraculous manifestations of the whole. We are unique, and it is our deeper purpose to manifest that individuality on earth. This is where esteem becomes thwarted, because the outer world can seem to reject our unique individuality, and that rejection gets internalized. The evolution is in the experience that we are miraculous, unique yet interdependent manifestations of one True Nature – or in the famous lyrics of U2: “We are one but we’re not the same. We get to carry each other…”

This is one of 35 energetic contractions in the psyche detailed in the book Nondual Therapy: The Psychology of Awakening.

Believing in the authority and judgements of conditioning, blocks around esteem show up as the suffering of illegitimacy and the rage at injustice. These feelings of severe devaluation within the greater whole contract our experience to the parameters of that same conditioning which has enslaved us: the beliefs in the verdicts of judgmental mind and as the invincibility of the Separate Self. When we become truly responsible for our own experience, we find the throne of esteem deep inside ourselves. As a rehab professional told an alcoholic client: “You’re the driver of your own life. Don’t let anyone steal your seat.”

Esteem is a spontaneous Source affirmation of form, as form. This includes flowing forms of expression, manifestation and receptivity. It is inherent to consciousness where there is no agenda of judgement. What has been called self-esteem is the same movement within the psyche. We never lack self-esteem, we simply experience contractions around esteem which are created by forms which are not affirmed in conscious awareness – where form is denied. Often, these contractions are internalized mechanisms arising out of rejections from outer authorities. For example, the social field of the playground, where the group bullies one child, contractions in esteem could affect that child for years. Paradoxically, the bullying behavior was probably generated by contractions in esteem within the bullies.


Hollowing out and disempowering the experience of form, the pain of illegitimacy has the power to create substrata of the psyche that resonate with inherent fault, untouchability and a subtle loathing that has a depth that causes us to believe that this vile stuff is what we truly are. This secret sense of the ‘Despicable Me’ surfaces as thoughts telling us that we have no authentic right to manifest and even that our manifestation is hurtful or dangerous to others. Through the suffering of illegitimacy, we can literally experience ourselves as toxic.

Born from the lack of acceptance, affirmation and honor from the ‘outside’ world, the horror of illegitimacy (not being worthy of taking space, here and now), gets internalized and buried between layers of pretense. No amount of certification, legitimization or public applause can alleviate this energetic discharge at the core of the psyche. In fact, it can even make it worse as it seems to inflate the lie.

We are all manifold expressions of illegitimacy. We have the wrong body weight; we’re the wrong gender for the job we take; we are the children of parents that divorced or died; we were born into the wrong class; or we are of the wrong color or religious faith. Reasons for the shock of illegitimacy abound, with goal posts of legitimacy shifting according to perspective. The inner wound in the psyche tends to attract experiences of illegitimacy, particularly noticing where others suffer, which feeds the threat of exclusion from the whole.


Illegitimacy lacks reason and can be perceived as deeply unfair. In this, a rage arises towards the outer world as being inherently flawed and illegitimate in its authority. There is trauma here, as both illegitimacy and injustice have been experienced as survival threats and as causal players in poverty.

This is the rage at injustice. Arising out of the stinging pain of shame and social rejection, the pain of injustice seeks to restore balance through correcting the outer world. This can be destructive and fruitless as it reaffirms the belief in the inherent wrongness of form, birthing ever increasing examples of injustice in the field of perception.

The suffering of injustice awakens other contractions, with emotions of anger, jealousy and hatred. Yet the scream of “It’s not fair!” always depends on a forced kind of equality under certain conditions: for example, that children in a family should get identical presents on their birthday. The feeling of ‘not fair’, precedes the objective situation where fairness is demanded. Yet living parameters shift all the time. Could it be unfair that the mother hugged one child longer than the other? Later, that the other got a longer story at bed-time? In their quest for justice, children exemplify a deep human need for living affirmation in form which is deeply linked to the Nondual Quality of Esteem.

Esteem: Nondual Quality

When we lack esteem, it can feel like we have nowhere to sit inside ourselves. It can be like going into an assembly where everyone is seated, and there’s no place for us. We stand to the side, as if invisible, as if we have no right to exist yet we exist anyway. We can feel like a ghost, haunting the lives of others. Insights into the destructive and incapacitating effect of a lack of self-esteem abound in the world of therapy. Yet few have gone deeper to inquire into esteem, with the shackles of belief systems in the Separate Self.

What is esteem? How does it feel as it arises through the cells, blood and bones of our physical manifestation? How does it affect the energetic fabric of contraction? In its purity, esteem can feel omnipotent. Esteem is the healing kiss of consciousness to form. It has the feeling energy of the biblical creation in Genesis, when God “saw that it was good.” Unconditional, the Nondual Quality of esteem gives an instant sense of legitimacy, power and reward. It’s a source of infinite expansion that can include any contraction. It enlivens without grasping; nurtures without control; and releases without attachment.

If it’s hard to get a sense of esteem on the inside, then we can ponder it around us. It is important not to be misled by appearances of pretended confidence and the broadcasting of status. Try connecting to the esteem of a horse as it gallops in freedom, or of a tree with branch tips stretching towards the sun, or of the sun itself, shining choicelessly and unconditionally and regardless of reflection. When esteem for what we are through all manifestation arises, it is stronger than any limitation of form, yet it blesses and affirms all forms in their temporal magnificence. It perpetuates inherent worth and expands the flow of energy through the psyche, turning problems to opportunities.

Esteem affirms all form as itself, as an energetic source more powerful than any transient judgement. Just as esteem rises through us, releasing the forms of the individual psyche into life, so does it naturally express through an esteem towards others, without compromise.


  1. Recall a situation that you felt to be unfair, and stay with that sense of injustice, letting it expand where it wants to go. Find a space in the body where the sense of injustice is less, and invite it to support the area of affliction. If all experience carries the sense of injustice, then invite the support of a neutral power, such as an ocean, or the sun.
  2. Move attention to the basis of body (pelvic area). Let consciousness affirm whatever appears in sense perception. You can use the words: “Also this is here.” Still at the basis of the body, contemplate the sense of esteem and share it with the bloodstream of the body.

Form does not differ from Esteem

And Esteem does not differ from Form.

Form is Esteem and Esteem is Form.