“Forgive them Lord for they do not know what they are doing.”

can-we-be-forgiven_724_494_80.jpg

“Forgive them Lord for they do not know what they are doing.” This quote by Jesus prior to his death struck me deeply as a young boy. Here was someone enough outside of their own self-interest outside their own ego that they could understand and forgive the wrong thinking of those who not only tormented him but want to kill him.

This could be construed as intercession but it could also be stating a fact about the human condition where most of humankind is unaware of their true nature and therefore can only act out of misunderstanding. Only someone who was conscious of their real self and the reality of the world around them i.e. someone who could transcend their ego could make such a statement.

When people define and categorize each other they cut off their access to love. When they imagine that who and what they see outside themselves is real without the slightest notion of what they personally added to that reality they affect how love is experienced. Too often they experience the love as something outside themselves and the cause of their experience when in fact they are the cause of what they experience.

Later this week I’ll be posting the Love/Hate conflict in the Dark Knight of the Soul blog. Click on the picture link to the right of these posts.

As one begins to see that they are cause of their reality they begin to be more aware of what’s actually out there beyond their skin, what exists beyond the ego. When this happens the next time they experience love they know that it comes from within them and when they experience hate it is because the love has been buried or projected away.

We long for what we are down deep. It is this longing, this connection that moves us when we see love in any of its many forms.

Like Peter Pan each of us need to find our own internal Wendy to reattach the shadow we’ve become separated from.

One of the paradoxes of being human is that we hold within us both the dark and the light.

Carl Jung the Swiss psychiatrist described how each of us has that part of us that we identify with and present to the world and that part of us that we keep hidden, the dark and unbearable characteristics of ourselves. This shadow, or dark, side of our nature is kept cut off from the rest of our being but is still attached through the unconscious part of our selves.

 

shadow-self-1.jpg

 

Jung went on to say that our growth into wholeness required that we come to terms with our unacceptable aspects– our desires, hidden impulses, hostility, greed, and selfishness. What he believed was that we all long for the essence of ourselves, what some might call the soul, that part of us that is connected to the divine.

Prior to being born we may have been fully integrated with the wholeness of the universe and only after acquiring a body and by extension an ego did we become separated from this whole. It is then thought that each of us in our own unique way is going through a process of reintegration from the incomplete status of a separated body and soul toward the harmonious fullness of a being integrated with all other beings.

Thus the process of integrating our shadow parts is a major goal of spiritual growth, but how to do this?

It’s a little like Peter Pan trying to get Wendy to help him reconnect with his shadow by having her sew it back on. The way we do this is to reacquaint ourselves with what we’ve cut off from ourselves. What keeps us from doing this is fear.

We know that this part of us has a negative charm attached to it and whenever we get too close it will invalidate and make wrong any of the good in you. This extends to the world as well. Have you ever noticed how anger, fear, and negativity comes up whenever it looks as though peace is about to break out?

While the lower thought forms of our unconscious mind control us we are stuck until we learn to transcend the forces that lay there. We can only do that by bringing to light what is hidden in the darkness.

We can’t overcome the shadow by hating it for hate is of the shadow itself. The shadow is only the wounded part of ourselves that needs to be reunited with the rest of us much like Peter needed. And it was only through the love of Wendy that this could be accomplished, which is why he came to visit in the first place. The answer to dealing with the shadow is through love, compassion, and forgiveness. This is true for both the individual and the society in which he lives.

It’s our own individual and collective arrogance that disallows the points-of-view of others and won’t give deference to the spiritual views of others. On an individual level this is a person who runs rough shod over the beliefs of others. On a collective level like the United States for example (and I only use this example because it is where I call home) the great American shadow through capitalism and its powerful defender, militarism, tends to take whatever it wants and disallows the spiritual principles of anyone and everyone.

It goes on to display an arrogant disregard for the effects on others and the environment that it too often exploits. Corporate America affects more than the other countries it shares the world with it also disenfranchises the people of its own country. This will only get worse because America refuses to acknowledge its shadow and wields its heavy hand all over the world.

Oh it has better angels within itself and these do a lot of good in the world, but its unacknowledged dark side causes it much self-inflicted grief and prevents the outbreak of peace.

Now, America is not the only country that ignores its shadow and the effects it has on the world, arrogance is not limited to only one country, or one people, there are many, many other perpetrators of this kind of grief– its part of the human condition to be arrogant and dismissive of what one thinks is not them.

But the transformation needed to reintegrate the fragmented self begins with the individual– you and I and what we support in ourselves and in others around us. Do we support what brings joy and healing or do we continue to maintain the separateness through our own self-righteousness? It’s up to us– you, me.

Like Peter Pan each of us need to find our own internal Wendy to reattach what we’ve become separated from and become whole again.

 

 

How is a dream like a parable?

 

th.jpg

Both are allegorical in that they both point to something and teach a lesson. “That’s like a fable! You might say.” Though both parables and fables teach lessons, the former uses people, whereas the latter uses animals. Both teach morals, both are a form of guidance.

However, a parable generally refers to spiritual lessons and in this way is not unlike many dreams that help one to develop a connection with their spirit. Over the centuries many people have claimed to have received messages from God through the medium of the dream. Throughout the history of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) dreams were said to have been sent from God to certain individuals that were supposed to be used for the good of all people, or to advance the understanding of one so that they may do more good for others. Parables were for all of these religions a means for communicating religious and spiritual concepts.

Why do parables, fables and dreams exist? The answer may be because that they are easier to remember than a direct example. “Dreams, easier to remember?” You say incredulously.

We don’t remember many dreams these days because it is not encouraged by the culture, but once a dream comes through, it’s hard to forget, especially if you’ve figured out what it means. But just because we don’t use them much, dreams haven’t gone the way of the appendix. Ever notice how much you dream after you start reading about dreams?

Mysteries bewilder us and tend to make us pay attention and to focus. Few of us would want to leave a mystery unsolved. Bewilderment makes us strive to know why, or what, or how–it is the carrot at the end of the stick. Dream symbols also beg that we interpret them just as we tend to add meaning to every event and person in our waking life (though this is most often an unexamined ego-supporting process where we project ourselves onto everything and then label it as reality).

Unlocking the meaning of a dream is not unlike discovering the meaning of a parable in that the process starts with asking the right questions and noting that these questions are affected by our beliefs regarding the symbols. Certain questions will often determine the answers, or at least bias them. So before you ask the questions, take a look at the foundation that they sit on. If you already have an answer, that will drive the question and bend it toward your answer. You see this phenomenon frequently with regard to news articles. This is just another form of, “We see what we want to see.”

 

"The_good_Shepherd"_mosaic_-_Mausoleum_of_Galla_Placidia.jpg
The Good Shepherd*, mosaic in 
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna
1st half of 5th century

 

What did this parable really mean? If the word “shepherd” were a metaphor for soul, your soul (your guide), what would the parable mean?

Is it possible to read this parable in yet another way, other than the traditional shepherd/flock metaphor? Might Jesus be telling us of our own divinity, our own spiritual nature and its connection with God? Might he be showing us how we can be following the wrong shepherd (the ego-self)? Might the guide that is within us all and that can come to us through a dream be the unconscious self?

Parables and dreams encourage us to dig deeper into their meaning and then apply the lessons to our everyday lives. Neither have to be an accurate depiction of actual events– they only need to point to the idea being conveyed in order to be instructive.

 

 

*Photo by-The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.

 

The Never-Never

 

“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.”

 

flying-dream.jpg
A metaphor for our Unconscious Mind?

In several blog articles I’ve explored how myth reflects the workings of the human psyche. Though not myths in and of themselves there are also popular fantasy stories that have added to our cultural mythology that themselves are allegories to the workings of the psyche. I’ve looked at such stories and poems as Shakespeare’s Mid Summer Nights Dream, Louis Carroll’s’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Today I thought I’d tackle yet another of the English-speaking world’s favorite fantasy stories, Peter Pan.

“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.

But, Peter, how do we get to Never Land?

Fly, of course.

Fly?

It’s easy! All you have to do is to… is to… is to… Ha! That’s funny.

What’s the matter? Don’t you know?

Oh, sure. It’s… It’s just that I never thought about it before. Say, that’s it! You think of a wonderful thought. “

 

th.jpg
From Disney movie Peter Pan

And thus began one of fantasy’s most incredible magical journeys, Peter Pan by J.M Barrie.

What is this Never Land of which he spoke?

Barrie thought of this land as a place found in the minds of children. Each land is as different as each child, though there are some basic similarities as it is between children as well. This seems not unlike the archetypal images of which Jung spoke which would make Never Land an archetype for the psyche’s imaginal realm.

In this way Never Land might be likened to the dream world with the “mainland” of Wendy, John and Michael Darling representing the waking world.

Barrie’s Never Land was probably a reference to the popular name for the Australian Outback i.e. The “Never-Never” that was to be found in the deserts of the Northern Territory. This wouldn’t be too far fetched when one thinks of the Australs as the southern most land mass on the planet and thus analogous to the unconscious mind from whence all dreams are born.

fixedw_large_4x.jpg
Never-Never National Park

Neverland can only be reached by flying and in the dream world, flying is a metaphor for freedom and independence, it’s also a central theme in Peter Pan’s world.

The star in the beginning of the story serves as a guide or map to the place of their desire; where they aspire to be i.e. Never Land. In dreams stars also relate to ones aspirations and desires. There’s also an aspect of fate or luck in the story because you’re encouraged to believe that you just have to follow “the 2nd star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning”, a star in ones dreams also symbolizes this same aspect of luck.

In the book The Archipelago of Dreams Robert also followed a star that drew him into the Spirit World of his deeper self where he also tempted fate.

Growing up in some way is also an aspect of many stories both in the desire and the resistance to it. We all want the seeming independence of being grown up and in charge of our fate, but how many times have we all, when overwhelmed with the responsibilities of our grown-up status, wished for the simpler days of our childhood? In our dreams this often shows up in images of our childhood home, friends, events, or family.

You see, our fantasy stories as well as our myths come from the same place as our dreams– they are projections of our deeper, and all too hidden, nature.

 

first-lucid-dream.jpg

Fragments of Dreams

Dream_fragments-1446379267m.jpg
Dream Fragments by– Margaret Thompson

 

I’ve heard it said that we, and the universe find ourselves in, are but holographic projections. As with any hologram every portion of it reflects the whole. This is true for fractals as well that are fragmented geometric shapes that can be split into parts, each of which is a miniature reflection of the whole.

This idea that parts of something can reflect the essence of the whole can be extended to ourselves as well in that each of us contain an archetypal template of the ultimate self, or soul. It has also been my experience that the merest of dream fragments can reflect transcendent and transformational information equal to or greater than that reflected by whole epic dreams. Sometimes a sentence, or even a single word can evoke hidden associations that open doors to the psyche theretofore unknown to the dreamer.

Even with just a word there may be more than one level of meaning e.g. sometime ago someone shared that they remembered only seeing the color green in their dream. The revelation within this single recall fragment included feelings of being naïve (of having been ‘used’ by another person), of being concerned about their effect on others (the environment of their relationships) and a sense of unacknowledged envy and jealousy regarding a colleague. This person also shared that they had been worried that they were not progressing in their desire to grow deeper into their spiritual quest and had been concerned that they had embraced the interpreting of dreams naively and perhaps incorrectly, as would a novice (someone who is ‘green’). All this from a single word!

What seems like meaningless information can yield immense insight if held in the right context. If it is true that you and I are projecting onto our experience of objective reality our wholly subjective meaning of it, then in everything we see (while awake or dreaming) we can glean information about our inner self—every event* becomes a mini reflection of who we are.

 

_________________________________________________________

*event: a noun (person, place, or thing)

Definition:

  • something that happens at a given place and time (in Zen, persons and things exist in a relational context and are located in time, thus satisfying this definition of an event)
  • a special set of circumstances; “in that event, the first possibility is excluded”; “it may rain in which case the picnic will be canceled”
  • a phenomenon located at a single point in space-time; the fundamental observational entity in relativity theory.

Alchemy and Individuation in dreams

Alchemist_Teniers001.jpg

Some time ago I interpreted a personal dream that included a number of symbols representing a balancing of opposites. Nestled within the dream was a reference to 20K gold as a transforming element within my psyche. This reminded me of a goal (there being many more than one) of transforming base materials, such as lead, into a more precious and higher level metal in the form of gold. Carl Jung loved the symbolism of alchemy, the mystical precursor to chemistry, and likened it to an unconscious attempt to reconcile, or bring into balance, conflicting opposites, in our personality and especially within the psyche. He likened this process in humans as a conscious and unconscious attempt to create wholeness, or self-actualization. He called this process Individuation.

In the dream the base, or common, metal transformation into a higher level, or rarefied, metal such as Gold has yet another level of transformation i.e. the transformation of gold (the accumulated money) into the symbol of the self (a building) thus gold can also symbolize a base-metal-transformation into and even higher form e.g. the integrated human, in this case, me.

Note that the ultimate stated goal for the alchemist was to create the Philosopher’s Stone, that which makes eternal life. In alchemy, sequential chemical transformations lead to an ultimate goal of human existence—to live eternal. Gold was never really the ultimate goal, just another step along the individuation process. In short, alchemy was also the study of the unconscious and thus its methodology, symbolism and mythology of mankind’s psychic conflicts and seemingly unbalanced dichotomies such as masculine/feminine traits is a metaphor for the therapeutic process and the use of dream analysis as a tool in this process. Thus the purpose of dream analysis is to serve as a tool toward the individual access of the collective and personal unconscious for personal growth toward self-actualization.

According to Jung, the integration of humans was a means of reconciling conflicting sides of themselves primarily for religious, or spiritual function. This function has nothing to do with creeds and dogmas, but an expression of what the collective unconscious does to inspire us toward spirituality and love.

In this way this dream seems to serve as a summary of what I’ve learned so far and acts as a bookend to the last several dreams that have dealt with both the waking dream and sleeping dream material that have revealed some understanding of the self and how it interacts with world.

Another message in the dream is that as I learn to balance (integrate) my conflicting perspectives of myself, I come closer to my true self. I have shadow sides of my nature and sunny sides, negative and positive self-judgments, and masculine and feminine natures. Ignoring, or actively denying any of these conflicting aspects causes the balance scale to tip excessively in one direction and the composite that is me becomes less than whole and less able to live my life in a useful i.e. meaningful way. Tipping toward the extremes causes one to diverge from the path of self-actualization and among other things, creates zealotry—an inflexible response to life.

Who are you?

Scan 2016-12-29 16.00.19.jpg
From the Book of Dreams– RJ Cole

An old man tired and at the end of a very long day lay his head upon a rock and soon fell fast asleep.

In his sleep the Other came to him and hovered quietly until noticed.

“Who are you?” the man asked.

“Who are you?” Was the reply in turn.

“Awake I am known as Robert. And you?”

“I am the same as you. In sleep I am what I am when awake.”

“What is your purpose here?” asked the old man.

“What is your purpose?” Asked the Other.

“I’m not sure. What is my purpose? I’ve searched my life over to find my purpose. Are you here to show me?”

“It’s not about searching for purpose, in that you cannot find it. Your purpose will find you. When it does you’ll be it.”

“How will I know when it’s found me?” asked the old man.

“When you’re being it.”

And he woke up.

 

 

A trinity within us: The awesome prayer of the three-way conversation.

xTriskelionCelticSymbolMeaning3.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Ul2I4Llqls.jpg

Most prayer is for things we want and need such as relief from suffering or for forgiveness, peace, justice, love or health. But the prayer of mindfulness, of just observing and being with what is, is a prayer of communion. In this we are taking care of the God we find within us. In this way we bring the conscious mind and the unconscious mind closer together.

The following is a prayer that came to me in a half-awake reverie that called me to crawl out of my dozing recliner and get it down before it turned to the dust of consciousness. It went something like this…

“Musing on what’s going on in and around me I talk to my familiar, he whom I don’t share with any other.

Sometimes it’s as a prayer, deep, fervent, grateful or pleading and it is then that the third in me joins in.

We three are always talking though all too often I think that only the two of us closest to the outside are in private discourse.

But the third is always there, noticed or not, and always informing the conversation.

It is not the third who joins, but I as first and second who joins it. It is the primordial me that continuously touches but is often hidden by the chatter of the other two.

Lost in our incessant conversation and removed from immediate experience. Number one and number two going on and on in abstraction are often brought to kneel by the true touch experience of the third.

We treat our third as Other, apart as though outside but in prayer we hear it coming from within and as part of. When it comes to our table it is as though it’s always been there though we hadn’t noticed. We can only see this when we pay attention and are not lost in our own thoughts.

We are always in relationship, never alone, though it most often seems so when we are running amok and aren’t being quiet sort of like perennial kindergarten school children.

Afraid to look beyond the me of one and two all my energy goes into how I look to myself and to others and I ignore the void within me shunning the contribution of the third.

Nearly always lost in the meaningless conversation of the first two it’s only when he and I include the third that we touch real meaning. In the three-way conversation what seems like me and what seems like not me join together and no longer need perform as though we’ve got it altogether and I begin to see wholeness without the void.

It is the aware conversation of the three in relationship that creates the existence of fully being.”

Two more synchronistic events

Synchronicity.jpg

I tend to think that the world or the soul of the world– God, spirit, Gaia, is always talking to me through what events it puts before me. I call these events synchronicities– or as stated in the dictionary, “The simultaneous occurrence of causally unrelated events and the belief that the simultaneity has meaning beyond mere coincidence.”

Have you ever been thinking of someone you haven’t seen for quite a while and the phone rings and it’s them? How about a couple who have almost identical thoughts at the same time or when you’re looking for a thing to pry something and there on the ground is the perfect tool? That’s synchronicity.

Carl Jung called them “meaningful coincidences” i.e. some kind of spooky connecting principle and something that takes place in the field of energy that surrounds us all. He thought of life as having a deeper order and not just a jumble of random events and that we are imbedded in this deeper order. He suggested that sensitivity to this might be part of the process of awakening to this deeper aspect of the universe. Religious people might label these events as “grace”. This awareness might also show up in our dreams. If one were to imagine that we are always at some level “dreaming” then it is possible that some focused attention to both sides of our consciousness, awake and sleeping, might be useful to understanding what’s going on in this phenomenon called reality.

To this end I share the following two synchronistic events as an illustration.

 

1) One morning I walked into my favorite coffee shop wearing all blue and one of the Baristas playfully exclaimed, “It’s Blue Bob”. I then told her the story of a student I once met when volunteering some years back who had painted her face blue and wore a blue bob haircut. They laughed and at that very moment in walked a girl with blue hair cut in a Bob and everyone nodded at her to get my attention. Was this coincidence or a synchronistic event? I don’t know. The meaning? Who knows, but I am now programmed to notice how many things seem to be blue in my environment and the effect that the color has on me e.g. energizing.

 

 2) Today I’ve been worried about my rather passionate, and somewhat aggressive, response to a friend claiming that autism was caused by the vaccine given to children. Knowing that all studies claiming this have been unequivocally discredited and rejected I argued most loudly. Later feeling bad that I tried to bully his position into submission and yet still trying to support what I considered a reasoned position I wanted to apologize for my behavior, but how to do this without looking like I as weakening the position?

As I sat in the coffee shop I struggled with what I would say to my friend when a young boy perhaps 9 or 10 years old walked up to me and while making no eye contact he reached out and ran an index finger across the length of my mustache. Satisfied, he then walked off. “Must be autistic.” I thought to myself, which I confirmed later with his parent. What was he trying to tell me? Was it that it was all right to have been upset with the person I’d been talking to about the causes of Autism and that my approach of apologizing for my type of behavior without apologizing for what I was defending would work out? When I later approached my friend I shared my apology and then calmly reinforced my position through reason at which my friend said that he understood and took no offense to my earlier behavior. He said that I had given him something to think about.

 

Enough said?

 

“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”

Through the Looking-Glass– Lewis Carroll

The feminine soul comes to me through my sleeping dream bringing with her the secret alchemy of wholeness

7e7762fd6bf9896c6e8ec9dd45415ea3.jpg
Traditionally it is thought that the soul of a woman is masculine and the soul of a man is feminine and that it is this interesting opposition that is trying to be reconciled through our dreams and relationships.

 

Seeking I am lead to a place from which I cannot return.

 I am reminded that I am but a visitor here from a place I never left.

 

 She came to me by dream urging me toward distant hills.

 She opened me that I may give birth to the creative.

 Though I sought comfort in ideas, she led me to the song of my heart.

 

 My desire for her is but her desire for me.

 I draw her unto me as she draws me unto her.

 I dream her with every breath

 as she is the breath that dreams me.

–RJ Cole 2017

 

Who is the ‘she’ of whom I speak? She is my soul who animates me– the spirit guide who comes to me as a means of bringing balance to the archetypal dueling forces of the masculine and feminine within me. She came to me in a dream to help my conscious self unite with my spiritual self and invite me to leave the diversions of both my adult and childhood selves behind and scale the mountains beyond where my true self lay. She is the connection with my soul that I yearn for.