Chapter Eleven-Squares

The Marriage of Spirit

Enlightened Living in Today’s World


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Some years ago I had chronic fatigue syndrome. After trying many different therapies, which all helped to some extent, I had the distinct feeling that the problems I was having with the body were a process. I saw that the imbalances were mental-emotional overlays to the body, belief systems of a very subtle nature. I knew that I could look deeply into the body and process myself out of them. My rationale was that everything is consciousness, including the body. Processing will shift consciousness; therefore processing will shift the body. I would just have to find the right pieces. That was the hard part, finding the right pieces. I made a list of hundreds of polarities associated with the material plane things like: HEALTH and SICKNESS, OLD and YOUNG, STRONG and WEAK, GRAVITY and LEVITY.

I sat on my bed and resolved not to move until I was successful in shifting my condition. It was during this time that I intuited the squares technique. I filled two or three notebooks in my determination to be healed. It took three weeks, but I found most of the issues. Eventually, after experiencing numerous subtle shifts, the most spectacular came with a square on LIFE and DEATH. This involved looking deeply into the issues of why I DESIRED TO LIVE, why I FEARED LIVING, why I DESIRED TO DIE, and why I FEARED DYING. As I completed the square and did the offering, I felt the meridians, or channels of subtle energy, in the body pop open and the energy begin to flow in the body again. The disability was over, and the cure seemed miraculous. I was sold on the squares technique, as you may imagine. Now I would like to share this technique with you.

Understanding the Squares Technique

This technique is a little more complicated than the lists of opposites. It is associated mainly with the physical body and the physical world, although it serves to clear the subtle bodies as well including mental and emotional. The number four and the square are symbols for the physical plane. The consciousness is quite boxed-in at this level, and that creates density. The square is a very a-dynamic form. We even have a colloquial expression in our language, calling someone a square, meaning that they are rather conservative, stuck and boring. The dynamic wave energy of life has been contained in a box and cannot unravel itself easily.

As you read ahead about how a square works, you will see that each corner is an aspect of consciousness that is out of balance. Each corner represents some part of the ego that pushes or pulls you off center. In the normal course of our lives, we tend to live out the corners rather unconsciously. They are our desires and fears. When we live by habit or by rote and don’t examine the nature of our own egos, it can take years, or even lifetimes, to live out our desires and fears represented in one square. This translates as feeling boxed-in and stuck in life, and normally we don’t even know why we feel this way. Usually, most people blame the outside circumstances of their lives, rather than look within to see what needs to change in order to effect outer change.

When we have little or no knowledge of the principle of changing the inner to change the outer, we have to live out in the physical world the experience of the effect of our desires and fears. In other words, before we tumble to the fact that what limits us is the inner, egoic conditioning our—desires and fears—they will cause us to have to live out physically whatever their effects are. Until we realize this fact, we generally don’t experience significant change in our lives. We may try to change the outer appearance, the window dressing, for example by changing jobs or relationships or locations, but we don’t experience a real change in our lives until we begin to examine what really limits us our egoic conditioning, which comes down to our desires and fears. This is why we often find that we have to keep repeating the same lessons and the same kinds of experiences over and over with just a change in scenery, and we feel caught in some kind of bizarre loop. The movie Groundhog’s Day with Bill Murray offers an excellent metaphoric illustration of this metaphysical principle; it is also very funny. It is about a man who wakes up every day and re-experiences the same day—Groundhog’s Day. He finally finds his way out through balancing and clearing his inner consciousness and by moving into the heart.

As you read ahead about the squares technique, you will see that it offers a much faster method of experiencing change in your life than having to live out in the physical world the experience of your desires and fears. Doing a square allows you to complete the experience mentally, rather than physically. All you have to do is write about the desires and fears in your journal. This allows you to shorten the path greatly. In fact, this is also true for the polarities and triangles techniques. Because these are all mental techniques, they offer a very fast way to transform consciousness, rather than having to live out our lessons physically.

When I was given this structure, spirit said to me that DESIRE and FEAR form a pair of opposites. Energetically, DESIRE is the pulling toward something and FEAR is pushing it away, or pulling back from it. Desire and fear represent one of the ways in which we use ATTRACTION and REPULSION. As we have seen, attraction and repulsion are the powerful magnetic forces that shape the physical world. To use the squares technique, we insert the relevant polarity into this powerful format of desire and fear.

The Squares Technique

The oscillations in consciousness, back and forth (the ups and downs in life), are kept in motion by our attractions to things and our repulsions to things, our desires for things and our fears of them. The square processing technique is a diagram for the flow of awareness and energy on a mental and emotional level. These awarenesses form projections and create the events we live with in the physical world. They shape our physical world and the body. So we can examine any one polarity in a way that also takes into consideration that pushing/pulling sensation and effect change right through the mental-emotional levels down into the physical. This is the square.

Step One—Pick a Polarity

To do the square technique, first you pick a polarity that you want to examine in greater depth. Maybe it is one that you uncovered when you wrote a story for polarity processing, a polarity that for you seems to have a lot of charge on it. For example, our old friend of the freeway, Paul, decided to do a square on CONTROL and OUT OF CONTROL.

square regarding control

Fig. 11-1

Basic Squares Layout

Fig. 11-2

Step Two—Draw and Label a Square

Then you draw a square in your journal. You label the two corners on the left side of the square the DESIRE TO _____. The two corners on the right side of the square are labeled the FEAR OF _____. Then you fill in the blanks with the polarities. One polarity goes into both top corners, and the other polarity goes into the two bottom corners.

Using Paul’s example, in the upper left-hand corner of this square, we write the words, DESIRE TO BE IN CONTROL, and in the upper right-hand corner we write the words, FEAR OF BEING IN CONTROL. The desire and fear of the opposite, we write in the lower two corners. In the lower left we write DESIRE TO BE OUT OF CONTROL, and in the lower right we write FEAR OF BEING OUT OF CONTROL (Fig. 11-1).

So for any polarity, we just attach the words, DESIRE TO… , FEAR OF…, DESIRE TO…, and FEAR OF…. Whatever the polarity is, we use the same word for both top corners, and the opposite polarity for both bottom corners. We put the label, DESIRE TO… on both the left-hand corners, and the label FEAR OF… on both right-hand corners. We always use this structure (Fig. 11-2).

Now is a good time to practice the first step of the technique. Try labeling a square in your journal on the polarity LOVE and HATE, for example. Also try labeling a square on WIN and LOSE.

Step Three—Make All Corners Conscious

Once we have labeled the square, then the real fun begins. We explore it. We look at it and try to recognize which corners we are familiar with. If there are one or two corners that we have never seen before, then we try to feel them.

We all contain all four corners of the square.
Some of them may be locked into the unconscious,
but they are all in there somewhere. It is very common to
want to go into denial regarding some of the corners.

Usually when we do squares, especially when we are working with a pair of opposites that we really react to, we will find that there is at least one corner (sometimes two) that we have not seen before. This is our hidden side, the part that is in our unconscious. Everything in each corner exists within us because we are all everything. It is denial to say, “I don’t do that!” If we indulge in denial and avoidance in this way, we are choosing to make something unconscious.

We have to try to remember
an instance when we felt it.

Sample Squares

Step three takes place on a mental-emotional level. Step four will involve writing about this in your journal. For now just think or feel it through, and don’t worry about the writing part. Before we get into journal work, take some time to think about these sample squares.

Dependent and Independent

That is a polarity that pushes on people a lot. The corners are: the desire to be dependent, the fear of being dependent, the desire to be independent, and the fear of being independent.

The fear of being dependent is very common. The image of growing old, becoming feeble and being a burden on ones family usually sends most people into fear.

But how about the desire to be dependent? Perhaps this corner is less easily visible and might require a little more internal examination. But if you look deeply enough, you can see that it is easy to long for someone else to take care of you, to nurture you and to provide for you. It can feel wonderful to be dependent on someone loving and strong in this way. This is the desire to be dependent.

The desire to be independent is pretty easy to see. Especially during the teenage years, we crave our independence. Is there a corner that you have never seen before? The fear of being independent perhaps? That is probably the least commonly felt corner. But if you feel your way into it, you can probably recall a time when you feared your own independence. For example, what about when it was time to leave your parents house and strike out on your own? Or what about leaving a long-term relationship? Usually there is some degree of fear involved in these instances.

Inferior and Superior

The desire to be inferior. Most people try their very best never to feel this corner! You might ask yourself incredulously, “Could some part of me really desire to feel inferior?! How can this possibly be?” But it is true. The desire to feel inferior is a part in the unconscious played by the victim. As the victim, we might find we get attention and sympathy, or we get to blame the outside and feel self-righteous, which feels good and juicy. If you look hard enough, you will probably be able to remember at least one time when you felt this. When you can own this corner, you are on the way to awakeness.

The other corners are: the fear of being inferior, the desire to be superior (we all know feeling), and the fear of being superior.

Approval and Disapproval

Everybody grapples with this one. The desire to be approved of and the fear of being approved of—you start suppressing the natural expression of your innate self because of these two. Most of us know about the desire to be approved of. However, a lot of people develop a self-destructive pattern so that they will not have to deal with success and with being approved of. They cannot handle it, and that feeds into the desire to be disapproved of the rebel. The fear of being approved of is the lesser known part. It will sabotage your efforts, especially if you are working with the public in some way and just cannot handle the praise or the acclaim or the criticism, actually. They both have the power to throw you off balance. Praise is something that everyone craves, yet when you get it, it often knocks you sideways.

Then, it leads to the desire to be disapproved of. For example, maybe that is the reason why movie stars sometimes do outrageous things! For the shock value. You create the outside to reject and push you away. There is juice in that.

Then, of course, you go to the fear of being disapproved of because some part of you doesn’t like feeling rejected. It creates a loop in consciousness. The energy keeps moving, and the corners lead into each other, cycling around and around continuously.

Lack and Abundance

We know the desire for abundance—everyone knows that one!

The fear of abundance can be a biggie for spiritual seekers since many of us have taken a vow of poverty in one lifetime or another. There is a fear that money corrupts. When doing this square, people often think, “Well, you know, if I had money, I would be a bad person.” So they will not let themselves have it. It is too big a responsibility, they feel. They fear they might have to shine their shoes, put a smile on their faces, and go out there to face the world or to take care of other people.

Abundance does not have to mean money, really. So you can examine abundance to see if you have chosen abundant loving, money, generosity, creativity and relationships.

The fear of abundance and the desire for lack are much less acknowledged than the other corners. These corners are usually associated with the belief that asceticism is spiritual and good. Can you find another reason?

The fear of lack runs very deeply in most of us. Some peoples worst fear is about being poor and homeless—being a bag person pushing a shopping cart on the streets.

Step Four—Apply Data to the Square

So, the next step is to divide your journal page into four equal sections by drawing a large cross in the middle of the page. Label the top of each quadrant with one corner of the square. Then, in each quadrant you write down every possible way in which you know that desire or fear.

Many times, you will have too much for one corner to fit it all on a fourth of a page. In this case, you may want to use four pages, one for each corner of the square. If you run out of room using just one page, don’t try to economize with paper. Be extravagant and fill up as many sheets as you need to.

Write words, short phrases, or a narrative of how you have lived out that corner. This includes emotions, thoughts, states of mind, memories, dreams and anything else that comes up for you. For each corner ask yourself, “How do I feel about this corner? How does/did that look for me at one time? And why do I desire or fear this thing? What is my motivation to desire or fear this thing?”

Victim/Tyrant Square Layout

Fig. 11-3.

Sample Square and Journal Entry

A prominent theme in many processing stories is of being a VICTIM who is abused by a TYRANT. In a workshop we conducted, a group filled in the corners of the VICTIM/TYRANT square with the following responses. Before you read their responses, take a few minutes and try this square in your own journal. Then, look at the lists below. Some of their answers will probably be real eye-openers for you.

Here is how you can divide your page (Fig. 11-3). For our example, we have made lists. The lists are long enough for each corner that we have used several pages.

  • In the corner labeled the
  • feeling the need to be punished
  • feeling guilty
  • to get attention
  • don’t have to work
  • self-righteousness
  • at least I am harmless as a victim
  • security of the familiar
  • to get sympathy
  • don’t have to be conscious
  • to be a martyr
  • to avoid conflict
  • I have feelings of unworthiness
  • self-indulgence
  • balancing out bad karma
  • get pampering
  • self-pity
  • belonging to the victim tribe
  • commiserating
  • comparing and sharing wounding with others
  • to get nurturing and love
  • to blame others
  • to manipulate others
  • playing games
  • innocence
  • I want people to have compassion for me
  • don’t have to be responsible
  • have an excuse
  • can’t help it
  • justified anger
  • indignation
  • bad mouthing others
  • as a child when I got sick, I’d get special treatment
  • In the corner labeled the
  • it’s embarrassing and humiliating
  • I’ll never get out of my rut
  • infantilized
  • powerless
  • fear of death
  • lose self-respect
  • lose respect of others
  • fear of no love
  • fear of no intimacy
  • fear of feeling worthless
  • being in danger
  • passive
  • pain
  • being vulnerable
  • being pitied
  • being terrorized
  • exploited
  • shamed
  • fear of dying unconscious, unawake
  • betrayed
  • lack of control
  • hopelessness
  • meaninglessness
  • purposelessness
  • weakness
  • inferior
  • degrading
  • depressing
  • impotent
  • losing
  • despair
  • dependent
  • needy
  • pathetic
  • suicide
  • as a child I feared my father spanking me
  • In the corner labeled the
  • to have power over my own life
  • to have power and control over others
  • self-control
  • to get my own way
  • don’t have to face being wrong
  • at least I know what to expect
  • revenge
  • access to people and things
  • for tough love
  • to get adoration
  • it’s strong
  • to feel superior
  • state of being active (not passive)
  • to feel in charge
  • to get attention
  • to win
  • to get respect
  • manipulation
  • dominance
  • to punish others
  • to have no fear
  • don’t have to feel
  • to enjoy being cruel
  • to vent rage
  • sadistic
  • greed
  • anger
  • hate
  • make others work
  • so I can be lazy
  • create order
  • feeling immortal
  • for fame
  • be a great leader
  • In the corner labeled the
  • could be lonely
  • being punished
  • fear of making mistakes
  • fear of facing my power
  • I’d be unloved
  • responsible for consequences
  • fear of being hated
  • fear of being disapproved of
  • fear of not being accepted
  • isolated
  • fear of being unspiritual
  • hurting others
  • cruelty
  • being despised
  • fear of having no friends or family
  • bad karma
  • could be fatal
  • fear of feeling separate
  • fear of people not being honest
  • can’t trust people
  • loss of love
  • being out of control
Bonus sample square: Withholding and Generosity as discussed in the For Love and Money recording.

Step Five—Offer Up Your Square

Now give the whole square back to spirit. Offer it up with a prayer, just like you did with the polarity processing and triangles techniques. It is important to remember at this point, after you have churned up all of this egoic stuff and feel as though you have emptied your cup, just to let it all go. You don’t have to continue to analyze, fret, figure it out with your head, or be the one to fix the situation. Spirit does the work for you after you have made the unconscious conscious. Remember that all of the desires and fears are not real; they are not who you are. You are pure awareness, and these states just pass through you. You can rest and relax after your offering, knowing that you are releasing everything you have dug up. There is nothing more for you to do once you have made the four corners of the square conscious. You can trust that grace will come in and make the changes for you, bringing you more into wholeness, balance and healing, more into the knowledge of who you truly are the Self.

Step Six—Wait for Grace

Just as with the opposites and triangle techniques, after you make your offering, remember to wait for grace. You can occupy your time by performing some simple, mundane activities, like tending the plants or taking a walk. You will get a shift from doing a square. Try to remain in your neutral witness and just be present and mindful, so that you can be conscious of and experience the shift. If you are sensitive, you may especially feel it in your body after doing a square. In fact, you may have already had an experience of feeling a shift in your body from doing polarities or triangles. But because squares take the process a step further, into the physical, you will be more likely to experience the shift physically, in addition to mentally and/or emotionally. You may also find new insights pouring in. You may find yourself saying, “Oh, I got it. I really got it!” Be open to new information coming in or a next step in your process being presented to you from anyone and anywhere. Or as the layer of the process peels off, you may find that you begin to emote. In Chapter 14—Developing the Witness, we discuss in more detail a way to vent emotion from the place of the witness and to not make the emotion real. This is an excellent way to discharge old, stuck energy and is often a good sign that you have cleared something. If you don’t feel the shift, that is okay. It is happening anyway. You can trust in that.


The Steps of the Squares Technique

  1. Pick a polarity
  2. Draw and label a square
  3. Make all four corners conscious
  4. Apply data to the square
  5. Offer up your square
  6. Wait for grace

Suggestions for Putting Theory into Practice

  1. Choose a polarity that is particularly charged for you. Do a square with it and offer it up.
  3. Do a square which includes the corner, the DESIRE TO SUFFER. Believe it or not, there is a part of us that loves our negative states, and we do not normally let ourselves see how much we love them. Can you work out what the corners of this square would be? (Remember the role of the victim, which we usually keep hidden in the unconscious.)
  4. Here are some other polarities. Label the corners of the squares for these and think about how you play out each corner. Are they conscious corners or unconscious?
    • Honest and dishonest
    • Pleasure and pain
    • Loss and gain
    • Light and dark
    • Security and insecurity
    • Active and passive
    • Over-reactive and non-reactive

Testimonial—Learning Squares

Six months ago I had liquidated my belongings and moved to Santa Fe, guided to come with very few things and a lot of faith. The Museum of New Mexico gave me a position doing archaeology, and friends invited me to stay with them until I found my feet. The work was fascinating, but the wages were low and the hours long. Despite this, life felt very full.

I was in doubt of ever affording my own place or of being supported in Santa Fe on my own. Everyone knows that there are no affordable houses or decent part-time jobs in Santa Fe! I imagined myself in a housing situation with several roommates, perhaps bagging groceries somewhere on the weekends, or asking my parents for money, which I didn’t want to do.

One Sunday shortly after the move, I was feeling particularly frustrated, depressed and hopeless about the situation. The emotions were quite intense and persistently nagging away at me. I sat with my friends at the dining table for an hour or two using squares to look at the issues around my fear and desire to make it on my own. It was rough surf, looking at deep-seated separation and vulnerability issues. One particularly difficult square for me was about abandonment. The opposite side was about feeling cherished, and I got a big shift. Later that very same day I was guided to go for a drive and pick up a newspaper (a rarity for me in those days). I felt a shakiness and sense of surrender because of the changes taking place as a result of the square. My physical body felt trembly and vulnerable, but somehow there was also a new sense of innocence, joy and openness.

Although I had never found a job via the classifieds, I was drawn to look. Miraculously, there was an ad that read: “Small spiritual organization seeks part-time books and tapes manager.” Yes!

My next stop was the rental board at a local whole-foods haven. There was a white index card that read: “Immediate sublet, downtown Santa Fe casita (cheap!)” Yes!

So, within 24 hours of learning squares, I had apparently cleared enough consciousness that I was given my next step. Grace provided me with the bonus of a house I could afford and part-time work that suited me! I see now that because I had become clearer inwardly, my outside world suddenly reflected that level of clarity to me.

This is an excerpt from The Marriage of Spirit, by Leslie Temple-Thurston with Brad Laughlin.
ISBN# 0-9660182-0-6
Copyright ©2000 by CoreLight. All rights reserved.
You may use or reproduce as long as the text is unaltered and appropriately credited.


Pain and Happiness are simply conditions of the ego.
Forget the ego.
—Lao Tsu