Detachment as a Gateway to Magic (Part two)

Letting go, aka detachment

What we will be doing from here on is disentangling you from all inner and outer attachments of your life—that is, all the things that you believe are real and necessary to life.”

“Uh, excuse me, professor, but with all due respect, you seem to be quite attached to your collection of junk spread out on every surface around here. I mean, there’s chaos everywhere! “

“Ah, but there is a symmetry to my chaos; everything is sorted by how high the stacks are.”

“That sounds to me like the definition of ‘clutter,’” said Adam with a slight grin.”

“Never you mind, young man. One man’s clutter is another man’s filing system. Now where was I?”

“I think you were talking about disentanglement,” Adam said with a slight indictment while he moved his hand across the room covered in all the whatnot.

The magus frowned and went on. As he talked, the room seemed to clear itself of all the so-called clutter, leaving all the surfaces free and clear. Adam was about to say something but then thought better of it.

“Right now you operate as though the only part of your mind that is of real importance is your conscious mind. The conscious mind is that part of you that thinks it knows what is real, but it is like a wall between you and reality. It literally creates the reality that you see, and that reality is often a false experience. Reality is not just one but many. Your mind is caught in only one of those many. By this limitation you are looking through a dark window into your deeper mind—what an old friend of mine called ‘a glass darkly.’

“When your idea of self is able to disentangle from the false identity, the current center of your consciousness, and open to the space between it and the unconscious mind, you will create a new center of being that will then allow you to tap into and include the unconscious, become fully human, and be magic. This is a place of spiritual emptiness—that is, a space of silence where only the real can enter. Spirituality must engage both the conscious and unconscious mind, and magic demands it. Do you understand?”

“I … I do, sort of, though I … I’m still confused as to how I get there.” The boy stammered as he trembled at the thought of what “there” might mean.

“The first thing you will have to do is to give up your attachment to all things,” affirmed the old man rather dryly and without emotion.

“What? What do you mean? Give up my attachment to everything? You mean give up everything I own? Are you kidding?” He noted that this was beginning to sound a lot like all those boring sermons at church when he was a kid. He wasn’t any more likely to give up all that he had worked so hard to get now than he had been back then, when he thought it meant giving up his action figures collection and video game console. He didn’t think at that time that it was much of a heaven where one couldn’t have those things, and the stakes were even higher now.

“I mean, you must give up your attachment to these things, including your ideas about them. You are attached to the outer world, and that is your greatest obstacle to the introspection necessary for discovering your magic. You believe that you need these things in order to survive or be happy, do you not?”

“Most of them, yes … yes, of course!” The boy exclaimed emphatically.

“Most of them?” queried the old man as he raised one eyebrow.

“Well … food, water, breathing seem like necessary attachments, don’t you think?”

“You are talking about being attached to living and to the avoidance of dying, am I right?”

“Of course! I would think avoiding death at all costs would be an obvious goal,” said Adam defensively.

“The many thoughts of death are unique to the human animal. While other animals just instinctively react to any potential death threat, humans think about it a lot prior to and after any actual threat. However, for humans the thoughtful concept of death actually organizes one’s life. It is what brings vitality to one’s living when one acknowledges the presence of it at every turn. Life and death is just another polarity where when one resists the struggle it’s apparent conflict fractures the whole and limits the expression of the magic. The whole idea of free will depends on the struggle and the embracing of death. Your attachment to its avoidance can limit your full expression. Do you not see this?”

“I do, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to stay alive, though I can appreciate the value that this desire can have upon the way I live my life.”

“Okay, for now let us move on. 

*The third and final part will be in August.

Doors into other realities: A Rumi awareness

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

~ Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, Essential Rumi 

Though this poem can be a metaphor for remaining in the present moment, a be-here-now piece of poetry, it is also a reminder that there is a portal between the myopic and distracted awareness we call the everyday world and the more profound and broader reality that exists all around and within. If we can learn to focus and be less distracted by the unreality of the ego and all its projections that put into a state of sleep, we can open the round door into the beauty of the real world, the world not subject to our ego.

Jesus spoke of this when he claimed that “the kingdom of God is within (or among) you” (Luke 17:21). Could he not have meant that the reality that is the actual world is all around us if we could but look and that the looking requires seeing beyond the narrow interpretations of our ego-filled minds?

In another story where two worlds touched, Alice found her portal (in Alice through the looking glass by Lewis Carroll) when she stepped through the looking glass and discovered her authentic self through the allegory of a symbolic world that mirrored her unconscious. Stepping back out, she hid behind the ever protective egoic mask that we humans wear when we don’t know who and what we are.

Rumi also speaks to me when I have succeeded in passing through the portal from egoistic reality to a spiritual reality centered outside the head and in the heart but then fall back through the door when the human reality pulls me back. All my life, it has been a constant wrestling match between awareness and unconsciousness where brief aha moments propel me through the door separating the two worlds and then kick me out when the ego pulls me back. His poem reminds me that I’ve fallen asleep once again, and it’s time to wake up.

Detachment as a gateway to magic (part one)

Detaching from your illusions in order to see the portal into a new reality.

(Excerpt from the book Psyche’s Dream: A dragon’s Tale)

Without even a “good evening,” the old magus motioned the boy to sit on the braided rag rug before him and began to talk. Adam felt a little as though he were back in kindergarten, sitting on a carpet square before the teacher; and now, as then, he was full of fear, excitement, and anticipation for all the wonders to be revealed.

The old man waved his hand through the air, and the room filled with light. 

“There, that is better; we can see each other now. First, you need to remember that magic is not about things. Things have no magic, though there are those who use things, like idols, for magical effect. To the degree that your consciousness is preoccupied with things—the having and not having of them, and your unending compulsive plans around your life—to this degree you will not be able to produce any magic.

“I will not teach you magic, but I will teach you how to open the door to it. There is a greater spirit beyond that which is recognized and worshiped in the religions of most of humankind. It is from this truth that magic flows. This is not the magic of medicine bags, wands, idols, incantations, and charms; nor is it the magic of tranquilizers, drugs, rationalism, positive thinking, or the power of your will—at least not the will of your smaller self.”

“My smaller self?” 

“Yes, yes. You have two selves; the smaller is the one you are most familiar with, and the bigger is your essential self, your real self. We will go into that in much more detail when you have had the experience of this bigger self.”

“Sounds intriguing! Can I experience it now?”

“Not if you keep interrupting!” the magus exclaimed. “Now where was I … oh yes, the things that we collect on our spiritual journey through life are not the source of power; it is their meaning to the person who honors them that is the source of the power. You cannot even begin to see what magic is if you are attached to the world of things. When you realize that you are not one of those things but rather are the container of all things, then and only then will you be open to magic. 

“Let me be clear; things are a false prophet. Beyond the basics of physical survival, love, and belonging, there is nothing that needs to be attained, or even held on to, that is of any real or lasting value. We are complete and with nothing left out. Anything worth being we already are there is nothing missing. All the striving is just so much noise. Whether we think of ourselves highly or are burdened by self-criticism and doubt, it is just so much noise.”

“But what’s wrong with things?” Adam asked.

“Do not mistake my words; there is nothing wrong with things or even in their having. We can have as many things as we want, and the process of getting and having the things can be fun, but the things are not going to make any real difference in our lives. The degree to which we are “attached” to these things is also the degree to which we cannot experience magic.

The very act of unconditional giving or detachment magically becomes a receiving, whereas acts of mostly getting create a dissonance that will separate you from the magic. In short, anything that separates will keep you from the magic. Why do people hoard things such as objects, money, food—whatever?”

“Well, I guess to survive a future time when they won’t have them.”

“Yes, but that suggests that their worldview is one of not enough, limit, and scarcity. But that view only drains the energy for realizing magic, whereas letting go of these attachments allows for the flow of energy that leads to magic.

What we will be doing from here on is disentangling you from all inner and outer attachments of your life—that is, all the things that you believe are real and necessary to life.”

More portal hopping

On my walk this evening, I started to review the events of yesterday when I had seemingly passed through a portal into another world and, in that world, had an epiphany that gave me a whole new perspective. But today, the perspective was gone. It was as though I passed through the portal again, and what seemed like a dream had lost its meaning.

This feeling of portal hopping had happened to me several times before, in Montenegro , where I had passed through an ancient rock portal into what seemed like a simpler 17th-century world, then back again through another doorway and into the modern world where the ancient no longer lived.

I had another portal hopping experience some years before Montenegro where I was in the Santa Cruz mountains and passed through a portal into a world of light where I was part of everything about me; then, after a time walked through yet another gate into the world of right now.

These are just three of many experiences that seemed like dreams, and like a dream, when I awoke in the world, the vision was gone. I was left with only a two-dimensional memory. I know that the vision and its meaning were powerful, but I couldn’t quite recreate it. But this time, I had written it down and was able to return to the meaning or at least a semblance of the meaning.

All my visions have been like dreams, dreams of the waking world if you will, and all presented a similar message that there is a cosmic fabric woven of time, space, object, subject, soul, and spirit and all connected and reflecting the One Being. I have been traveling through its gates and portals for years but have only just now begun to see its essence. It has been with me everywhere I have walked. My world has always seemed so very small, though I knew of and have visited many places. But what I saw of it was just what was in front of me at the moment. I’m beginning to see a broader world that’s all around, and through me, that walks with me. I am not separate from it but am it, yet just a little out of phase.

Occasionally walking through this world, I awaken, and for a moment, I remember that I’ve been dreaming and that the awakening becomes a reality. Alas, like a dream, it fades, and the two-dimensional world returns only now, not so much as before. For now, I know that there is a much bigger multidimensional world where I live. I can’t wait to explore it.

A morning stroll leads to a different portal of reality

Magical portal in between two realities

On my walk this morning I noticed several dramas playing out. A little girl ran out of the house with tears in her eyes then upon seeing me made an about face and returned to the house coming out later with her father who placed her backpack in the back of his truck. I then noticed a little boy running like crazy from up the street stopping temporarily only to speak to the little girl. Soon his trailing mother yelled out for him to stop and wait for her. “We have a runner here” she exclaimed to the man who then corralled him by stepping into his path. The woman sheepishly thanked the man for his assistance as she knelt to deal with her exuberant runaway.

As I walked on, I saw overhead small birds attacking a crow and squirrels chasing each other across the road and bounding up the trunk of a tree. A breeze came from down the street and a flowering acacia dropped some of its lavender petals to the ground.

For some reason these little vignettes of life moved me this morning like no other morning of late. 

This morning I saw the play of life upon a stage that had a much greater presentation than the local theater I had been viewing. 

For some time now I’ve been warring with the ego, mine, and the perceived ego of others. I see the ego as this little flawed piece of ephemeral construct that is the cause of our separation and divisiveness, our problems, arrogance, and disconnections. I’ve also been blaming God for having created such faulty and dysfunctional beings such as us humans. This morning, however, I was seeing every vignette, every flora and fauna, every human interaction as expressions of the world soul acting through the mediating ego with each an expression of the totality, the One Being. Good or evil, passionate, or indifferent, ordinary, or extraordinary It is all the One expressing itself by and through its creation. From this perspective all the perceived faults and activities add the spice and animation to the immense vastness of the One.

It was as though I had passed through a portal and into a different and more accepting experience of reality. 

From this different perspective the collective ego, and more specifically mine, was seen as a contributor to the cosmic fabric that is life and not an impediment or something to demean. It is what gives meaning, a collective meaning made up of all the egos and all their perspectives conscious or unconscious.

Once again, the inner conflict that I’ve been having with the creation melted away leaving me with the freedom to enjoy and just be as I pass on through. 

A primer and critique on masculine and feminine aspects within the psyche that show up in our dreams

Like the id, ego, and superego, the concept of Anima and Animus are systems of explanation, not actual parts of the human brain. They are designations that broadly help to explain certain aspects of the personality that seem to affect all humans regardless of culture.

Anima: female within male– The female in a man’s dream might represent the male’s feminine aspects, such as caring and feeling, intuition, receptivity, and creativity. This female image is known as the Anima. This character can show up in an Elf, Goddess, mermaid, a man’s sister, or any female persona.

Carl Jung, a popular Swiss psychiatrist in the early to middle 20th century, tended to create a splitting phenomenon when he asserted that archetypes such as the Anima, Animus, and the shadow were only in a particular gender, e.g., the Animus in a female’s dream only, Anima in a male’s and the shadow exclusively male within a male and female within a female. 

As Anima, she could also come to the dreamer as an image of Mother Earth, one’s own mother or sister, or as a cat or tiger, cave, or a ship at sea. Even the sea can be feminine in that it can represent the waters of the womb. 

The female in a man’s dream is often said to be the soul image in a man. It’s meaning and associations, positive or negative nuances the interpretation of a dream. However, this idea of soul creates problems for a man if he projects this image onto a female in the waking world.

Dream analyst Jeremy Taylor doesn’t believe that this binary gender designation is valid. In fact, he suggested that these designations of exclusivity were “arbitrary” (his word). Taylor considers the Jungian view to be somewhat masculine and probably reflected unconscious gender stereotypes of the day. 

Taylor also suggested that contemporary women have archetypal dreams of the feminine that correspond to the inner development of the Goddess and deserve to be called the Anima. It may also be the same for the Animus. 

In a scientific age that challenges our stereotypical gender designations according to Gina Rippon in her new book, The Gendered Brain, and suggests that the differences, or alleged dimorphisms, that were thought to exist between the male and female may not exist at all and may be artifacts of societal conditioning. This idea has been supported in a recent study titled “Dump the dimorphism: Comprehensive synthesis of human brain reveals few male/female differences beyond size” that is a meta-synthesis of several decades of sex difference brain studies (published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Review, June 2021 ). Though there may be no anatomical differences other than size, these differences in brain size due to differences in body size do appear to affect the ratio of gray matter to brain size that may affect neurological efficiency.

Regardless of whether there are actual brain differences one can see the obvious behavioral or trait differences in boy and girl children that are not attributable to cultural biases or child rearing practices.

I like to think of these traits as energies i.e., masculine, and feminine energies all of which we share but with some being more latent or dominant in each of us due to the effects of cultural and individual preferences. To bring these energies into balance or to be able to have access to all requires strengthening or moderating them and to use them as the circumstances warrant. To me this process is that of becoming whole through the activity of self-awareness and understanding.

Taylor also recommended that we revisit some of the archetypal definitions attributable to Jung in the light of contemporary sensibilities.

Animus: male within the female– Shown as a man in a woman’s dream and could be represented by her brother or any other male figure. 

Its presence in a dream might indicate assertiveness, mental and social power, latent characteristics, and even her contact with males. Their presence might also suggest the need for the expression of certain aspects attributable to the masculine.

The soul of a female it is said to be reflected by the male within her dreams.

Conflict of opposites

These archetypes have their opposites as well in that whether Animus or Anima in male or female dreams or in the conscious or unconscious psyche, each has its positive nature and negative nature. The positive can reveal inner wisdom and spiritual and emotional depth, but the negative side might indicate that the negative aspects of the opposite gender are taking you over. 

For example, the male in the female dream may be showing an argumentative, controlling, or excessively critical aspect; thus, the dream character could serve as a warning.

Not that a moody, irritable, or judged oversensitive female character could symbolize the negative side of the Animus. These images and their projected meanings reflect the individual’s biases but can also inform the individual as to what’s happening psychologically that might be causing an imbalance.

Jung suggested that there was a proper balance to the inner gender qualities and that an unbalanced dream could serve as a means of guarding against this by not letting the negative dominate or by adjusting the narrative to be more authentic with one’s circumstances.

I tend to think that there’s no good reason for this gender exclusivity given that there are male and female traits in all of us. To rule out the influence of a female shadow in a male trying to resolve his Feminine aspect, or a female trying to do the same with her Masculine seems a bit confusing, even more so for those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transsexual, et al.

There’s also the interaction between males and females in the dream that can show both the positive and negative aspects of gender that can be informing.

Masculine/Feminine traits:

Though I’m using traditional gender characteristics, remember that we each have both in us regardless of gender and that the designated meanings can be mediated by the individual who experiences them. Note also that though we each have both masculine and feminine within us, one or the other tends to dominate often because they are culturally conditioned or because our inner psychic (soul/mind) gender framework dictates it.  

I perceive the Feminine aspect to be:

  • Intuitive
  • Creative spontaneous (creative nonrational?)
  • Receptive
  • Socially expressive
  • Contemplative
  • Inner world directed
  • Inclusive

I perceive the Masculine to exhibit the:

  • Assertive
  • Decisive
  • Physically expressive
  • Creative rational
  • Mental and Social power
  • Outer world directed
  • Exclusive

Of course, there are the negative or oppositional aspects:

The Feminine Receptive can become submissive, and the Contemplative can become indecisive, the Inner world directed can become insensitive to others, and the Creative spontaneous becomesunfocused and scattered.

The Masculine Assertive can become aggressive, physically expressive becomes violent, Mental and Social Power becomes arrogant and overpowering, Outer world-directed becomes aloof and insensitive, and the Decisive can become inflexible or rigid.

Any of the negatives can be expressed in either gender.

In conclusion

In my view, the conflict of opposites as reflected in the gender archetypes presented by Jung may be, as Taylor suggested, arbitrary, confusing, and not reflect reality. Cultural norms, and individual biases and not actual brain disagreements caused by archetypal clashes may be the reason for the conflict of opposites mentioned above. 

In short, there may not be substantive differences between female and male brains as suggested by the Jungian gender designations. But given their usefulness in helping to ferret out problems within the unconscious and conscious psyche, therapists may be forgiven in their continuing to use them to help discover problems that arise and affect our emotional and social balance such as when we find ourselves in blind alleys psycho-emotionally or when getting stuck in well-worn ruts socially or reacting to unconscious early decisions that no longer serve our best interests and then help treat the causes of imbalance.

I for one would rather trust the individual with the help of their therapist to ascertain the meaning of each image and its message of balance, health, and well-being. If gender designations help in this process, then I would support its use. But to describe them as though they exist in fact seems to further reinforce a dichotomous attitude about not only gender but oversimplifies the reality and complexity of the human psyche.

“The illusion of control”

“The illusion of control.” This was a phrase I heard the other day, and my mind started to think the thoughts of letting go, letting be, and surrendering to what is. It all sounded like giving up to me. What about correcting an injustice or alleviating suffering? What good can come of surrendering to this kind of what is? Sometimes we, out of love or concern, are moved to act, are we not? Are not we contributing to the pain of the world when we do nothing? Ah, but what to do? How do we discern what action to take?

Too often, we act through our conditioned ego, thinking that we know what will be in everyone’s best interest. But do we or even can we see the picture big enough to act so as not to cause even more problems? We keep doing things to solve one problem but create others in the process. The truth is that in this world, everything is connected to everything else, and to act upon A will affect B and C that will affect D and E, and so on. Cause and effect are so complex that we can never really predict where our actions will lead.

No one of us can know the effects of our actions, and all too often, in our desire to control an outcome, we create an even more significant imbalance. But how to balance? Is it a do, a control?

Recall when you first learned to ride a bicycle? When you struggled to maintain your balance, didn’t that just make you fall? Instead, letting go of the need to control balance allowed your inner balance to find you, and when it did, you rode the bike. 

We act as though balance is an attainable thing outside ourselves like money, politics, the right house, proper behavior, or degrees, and that if we were to live just the right way and to do just the right things, we could bring balance or control to our lives. But control is not a get, for we already have this inner balance in all things, and when we don’t struggle to find it, it will find us. Unfortunately, our conditioned biases cause us to struggle for control and thus cause an imbalance that leads to failure.

Getting our own biases or self-centered need to control a situation out of the way will allow us to discern what is really wanted and needed and give us room to act in the best interest of the moment. Another truth is that we can’t control anything. The universe is in control. We can, however, let go of the illusion of being in control and in so doing be open to seeing what action on our part is needed at the moment to actualize the direction the universe wants to take.

– 29 –

Do you think you could take over the world

and improve it?

I do not believe it can be done.

 ~

Everything under heaven is a sacred vessel

and cannot be controlled.

To tamper with it is to spoil it.

To grasp it is to lose it.

 ~

Allow your life to unfold naturally.

Know that it too is a vessel of perfection.

 ~

Just as you breathe in and breathe out,

there is a time for being ahead

and a time for being behind;

a time for strain

and a time for ease;

a time to be up

and a time to be down;

a time to grow in strength

and a time to decay.

 ~

The Sage accepts things as they are,

seeing all of life as a movement toward perfection.

She avoids extravagance, excess and extremes.

Tao Te Ching

Dreams, messages, and life folding back on themselves and creating a wisdom synchronicity

Constellation Draco

The Dream:

While continuing to research the image of Sophia (a dream experience from the early 2000s), I “happened” * upon a dream of mine that I had written down in mid-August of that year that I entitled “Vision.” In this dream I saw a long, Light brown ribbon, sparkling as though dusted with glitter, snaking its way amongst the stars–connecting everything with everything.

It’s curving back on itself, disconnected yet connecting everything else, it floats as though on a rippling, flowing sea–Invisible by the lights that it touches.

I felt a part of it, no, embraced by it, and from it, and I suddenly understood that all is as it should be.

Interpretation:

At first this dream reminded me of the theory of strings that is becoming a popular alternative to the Big Bang theory of creation and I just left it at that. I was also reminded of the constellation Draco snaking it way between the stars of the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia. It was not until about three days later when I continued my research into an earlier image of the Sophia, a wisdom image sometimes associated with the feminine aspect of God. In this dream I was being invited to follow a winding light brown path into a far-off mountain and I was struck by the powerful synchronicity (some might call it coincidence) of my study and the former night’s dream.

An Ouroboros

The snake or ribbon curving back on itself reminds me of an Ouroboros the snake image of wholeness, completion, and oneness often used by the alchemists of old as a signal of completion in the alchemical process. It can also be a metaphor for life in how it can repeat itself until we understand and embrace its message. The “Sophia” dream seemed to provide a feeling like a completion dream e.g., a “follow this path and all will be well” kind of feeling.

The study:

It is from Sophia, the goddess of wisdom that we get Philo-Sophia, the love of wisdom, she and Dynamis created the powers and angels who create the “first heaven.” After some 365 creations our world is born, the ultimate ruler of which is the god Abraxas (Αβρασαξ), the Great Invisible Spirit (Gnostic). Jung likened Abraxas as that which combines all opposites into One Being.

Many representations of the Abrasax depict it as a composite of the Sun, Chronos (god of time and in a serpentine form itself) and the head of a rooster (or a lion) and the body of a man. The image is also reminiscent of a Chimera an image that sometimes suggests the disparate parts of oneself that need to be combined so as to become whole. The serpent also represents the inner self (nous) and the quickening of understanding (logos).

I’m not sure what to do with the seemingly unconnected coincidence of these two events other than to wonder if when we become focused on a particular idea the universe seems to present for our consideration a deeper picture to broaden our understanding. From whence this comes I don’t know, but I respect its power. The Dream takes on an even deeper meaning for me.

_________________________________

*As I’ve often said before, I don’t believe in what most people would call a “coincidence” in that too many events that seem unconnected appear too often, lend their meaning so as to discover something much bigger, and revealing that something much more significant is at work.

The alchemy of Grace, a transforming experience

A dream of receiving something valuable for no apparent reason led me to look closer at the meaning of grace and its often mystical expression.

Grace: a spiritual experience of love and mercy, an undeserved gift that is unbidden. Though this definition is mystical in nature it also shows up in the everyday when one goes out of their way to help someone with no expectation of anything in return.

The mystical experience brought by grace. 

Nothing you do can automatically bring you the grace of consciousness awakening and there is much that you can do to get in its way. Part of maturing spiritually or soulfully will however, provide a space for it to live within you and grow. Sometimes grace heralds a spiritual awakening I.e., when you awaken to life, how it really is. Connecting with your soul seems to make these awakenings come more often.

What happens when one’s eyes are opened through the mystical?

“Imagine that you are in a completely dark room. You’ve been told that in this room lives a very large snake. As you sit in the room, you can see its silhouette and you feel great fear as you contemplate the potential for it to bite you at any moment. But one day there is a flash of light which illuminates the room, and you see that what looked like a snake was, in reality, a rope. Although the flash of light was momentary, it gave you a glimpse of the truth. Suddenly your long-held fear vanished entirely, and your experience of the room was never the same ever again.”

–from the Advaita Vedanta meaning “non-duality” that is a school of Hindu philosophy, and is a classic system of spiritual realization in Indian tradition.

This is what a mystical experience feels like: it is like a flash of truth that releases you from your limitedsense of self and gives you a taste of a reality that somehow feels more real.

What Triggers the Spiritual Awakening Process?

Spiritual awakenings can happen at any moment in your life. They can be spontaneous, triggered by major life changes, illnesses, tragedies, and traumas such as life-threatening illnesses, accidents, divorces, midlife crises, war, and so much more. They can happen during the process of a meditation or while taking a walk around the neighborhood.

There are also those times when all seems hopeless and emotionally overwhelming what some call The Dark Night of the Soul. If you’re highly sensitive to the suffering of others and are a deep thinker by nature, it is possible that you have gone through, or are currently going through, a Dark Night of the Soul.

The Dark Night of the Soul is a period in life when you feel completely cut off from the Divine. The more aware you become of your disconnection from the Divine, the more chances you have of experiencing a Dark Night of the Soul.

Going through this experience of the dark night is profoundly entwined with the process of spiritual awakening. Before spiritually awakening, we often “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4) to prepare our minds and hearts for it.

Just think about the analogy of getting dressed. To put on new clothes, you must take off the old ones do you not?

Of course, mystical experiences are different for those who experience them but there are a few commonalities that I list below:

1. Conscious Unity

The boundaries of where you perceive your individual identity to begin and end completely vanish i.e., death of the ego. Instead, you’re left with a boundless and infinite union with all that is around you.

2. There Is No Time or Space

With a lack of a definable identity or environmental recognition, your sense of time feels infinite. You go from perceiving time from moment-to-moment as an individual, to perceiving it as a stream of eternal present moments.

Because your sense of identity is gone, your ability to separate “your” surroundings into individual elements also disappears.

3. Objective Reality

Without a discernible identity comes a sense of greater “objectivity” as though you’re experiencing a much more intricate and profound reality. Everything doesn’t just feel perfect, everything is perfect.

4. Gratitude

Most of your ecstatic feelings stem from an immense sense of gratitude. This gratitude is an overwhelming sense of awe at “your” insignificance in comparison to the vastness of existence.

5. Life Is Seen as Sacred

Your sense of gratitude is so vast that you can feel almost undeserving of having been given the opportunity to experience such a miracle. You develop a new sense of respect for the sacredness of life that allows you to be here.

6. You Understand Paradox

Our sense of self or identity creates duality in our perception of reality (“I” am separate from “That”, He or she is over there, and I am here). However, the moment this separation disappears, you’re left with a non-dual reality in which your intellect finds paradox after paradox e.g., things become both light and dark, here, and absent, human, and divine, limited, and eternal. As you try to understand the experience you might have mind-blowing and expansive realizations.

7. The Experience Is Indescribable

The overwhelming magnitude of emotions and intuitive understanding that you experience makes the attempt to describe the mystical experience is limited by language. To put words to it seems insulting to the experience.

8. The Experience Is Temporary

The very nature of a mystical experience is its transience because eventually, you end up returning to your habitual way of life, but the experience changes something deep inside.

9. The Experience Is Life-Changing

After experiencing such a state, death isn’t as scary as it used to be, and the beliefs or ambitions that you once held to be so important lose their meaning. In fact, the mystical experience often awakens a thirst to try to bring as much of that experience back into your regular day-to-day life as possible that in return deepens the spiritual process. 

10. Retrospective transformation

The experience not only transforms forward but in reverse as well. In retrospect there’s a feeling of understanding the path you’ve been on all along and shifts the experience as though it’s always been that way.

A Jungian primer: A way of looking at the psyche and its dream world.

Gandalf from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit- The archetype of
the sage or wise old man.

Over the years that I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve used several words and phrases regarding the constructs of the mind and how they related to the field of dreams. Most of these concepts have been explored and defined by Carl Gustav Jung, a late 19th to middle 20th-century Psychiatrist and contemporary of Freud. At the risk of oversimplifying Jung’s philosophy of dreams, I believe that he has opened the field of psychotherapy and dreamwork to a whole new way of looking at the human mind.

Archetypes: In Jungian psychology, archetypes refer to a collectively inherited unconscious idea, a pattern of thought, image, etc., that are universally present within the individual. Some dream images seem to permeate people’s dreams all over the world regardless of faith or culture, with very similar meanings. For example, images of the divine, masculine/feminine images, shadow beings, death, and apocalyptic events.

Self: Is also one of the Jungian archetypes, signifying the unification of consciousness and unconsciousness in a person and representing the psyche. According to Jung, it is the end product of individuation, which integrates the opposites in one’s personality, including the conscious with the unconscious, while still maintaining the relative autonomy necessary for a person to become whole.

He thought of it as the central ordering principle of a human psyche, i.e., the show’s Director.

Shadow: Is an archetype in itself. All those things, ideas, worries, fears, feelings, and memories are rejected by the conscious mind and shoved into the unconscious. They frequently enter the consciousness through nightmares. They also tend to affect our decisions and actions when we are awake.

Ego: Simply put, it is the “I” of one’s life. It’s who you think you are and is your sense of self.

Symbols: Attempts of the psyche to express the inexpressible.

Myth: This is a story that expresses symbolically a philosophical or religious idea that evokes a particular response from one’s inner being.

Numinous:  Any image or feeling that relates to the spiritual dimension of reality. It can be an odd and otherworldly sense of presence and often represents a strong religious or spiritual experience. It often shows up when an archetype visits the dream.

Psyche: Soul, spirit, the conscious and unconscious mind, the whole personality with nothing left out, nothing rejected. The psyche is what influences our thoughts, behaviors, and personalities.

Whole personality: This includes the conscious, personal and collective unconscious, archetypes, persona (see below), and ego.

Collective unconscious: A term of analytical psychologycoined by Carl Jung. He thought of it as a part of the unconscious mind, expressed in humanity and all life forms with nervous systems, and describes how the structure of the psyche organizes experience. Jung distinguished the collective unconscious from the personal unconscious. The personal unconscious an individual’s reservoir of experience that is unique to each of us. In contrast, the collective unconscious collects and similarly organizes those intimate experiences with each member of a particular species.

Waking Dream: The idea that most of what we call reality is but a projection of our own psyches onto the world outside ourselves invokes the idea that most of what we experience is imaginal. This projection is not unlike our dream material that is also imaginal and projected by our unconscious minds during sleep. There are some psychologists and therapists who suggest that we can treat our waking world images and patterns of behavior like the images from a dream and glean much information through their interpretation.

Four psychological functions: 

Sensing– Data gathering part of the self

Intuitive– Potentials, innovative part of the self

Thinking– Logical, objective, systematic aspects of the self

Feeling– Subjective, personal part of the self.

One of these is used more than the others in each of us and becomes the dominant way we deal with the world.

Transcendent dimension: That aspect of the four psychological functions used to make contact with one’s inner unconscious being. Here is where we humans can relate to the spiritual world.

Active Imagining: A process where one can embody or reanimate the images of a dream to work with the image further beyond the initial interpretation. For example, one might bring the dream image of a dead loved one into the room and engage him or her as though they were still alive.

Complex: This is a core pattern of memories, perceptions, emotions, and wishes in the personal unconscious organized around a common theme, such as power or status. It is primarily a psychoanalytic term found in the works of Jung and Sigmund Freud.

An example of a complex would be as follows: if you had a limb amputated when you were a child, this would influence your life in profound ways, even if you successfully overcame the handicap. Even those who have dealt with their disability may have many thoughts, memories, emotions, feelings of inferiority, bitterness, and decisions made about life on that one aspect of their life. If these thoughts troubled you, they might be called a complex.

The idea of complexes assumes that the most important factors influencing your personality are deep in the unconscious and influence the individual’s attitude and behavior. 

Synchronicity: The idea of synchronicity is that the relationship between concepts is structured logically and gives rise to relationships that are not causal but are not strictly coincidental. These relationships can show up as occurrences that are meaningfully related.

Synchronistic events reveal an underlying pattern, a conceptual framework that includes, but is more extensive than, any systems that display synchronicity. 

Persona: This appears as a consciously created personality or identity fashioned out of part of the collective psyche through socializationacculturation, and experience. Jung used the classical term persona because it meant the actor’s mask and expressed his role.

The persona, he argues, is a mask for the “collective psyche,” a mask, or an act, that ‘pretends’ individuality.