A heart meditation: letting go

 

th.jpgOf late I’ve had a number of people write about dreams that included the concept of letting go e.g. death and dying images, dropping things, toilet images, even ghosts. Many of the dreams also included images from the past such as a childhood home.

Because most of us don’t really let go of past hurts in that we tend to deny them, push them down, and gloss them over as in “what’s past is past, or then was then” that in and of themselves is appropriate if what you’re actually doing is letting go of the events and hurts. But most of us aren’t letting go.

We tend to hold on to painful resentments, feelings, disappointments, grief, betrayals, guilt, and hurts by storing them in the footlocker of our unconscious mind. After many years and as many memories we have quite a treasury of buried material built up. These buried negatives are something like radioactive waste that after time begins to leak onto the surface of our lives, poisoning much of what we do and think and feel. Most of this stuff seems to arise uninvited, in our dreams, or in troubles we find ourselves in in our waking lives.

We seem to armor ourselves against any future pains by walling parts of us off, or putting up barriers to protect ourselves from others. It’s a slow process and for most of us we don’t notice how much different we are as adults than we were as children. The free expression of the self is often subdued, or cut off, the playful part of ourselves moderated, or pasted on to make it look as though we’re being a free spirit full of fun, where in the quiet of our own homes after the party we nurse the effects of our drug or alcohol induced gaiety and wonder if anyone actually really liked us or bought into our act.

All these stored negatives over time close our hearts to ourselves and to others and weighs us down.

So what to do?

Well, following the theme of letting go i.e. of unchaining from the past, I’ve found that there is an ancient practice that can literally transform one’s relationship with the past and lighten considerably their experience of the present. In short, it heals, it dissolves obstructions, and it opens the heart to other hearts. It shifts our identification with the negative and helps us to resolve the unresolved. It can even help us to regain a positive relationship with our own bodies.

What is this magic of what I speak? It’s called, forgiveness. Really! It’s forgiveness that can heal us back into our own hearts. It’s the letting go of resentments and negative self-judgments. It opens ones heart and lessens pains from the past. It helps us to get back in touch with our soulful, playful self.

When we accept ourselves and others for what we and they are i.e. “as is” it includes even their non acceptance of us. It allows the mind to get beyond it itself.

You can’t force forgiveness, that’s just more of the same old squashing down of negatives that caused the problem in the first place.

A forgiveness meditation:

As with the technique of Active Imagining http://thedreamingwizard.com/active-imagining_291.html Close your eyes in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and bring into your mind an image of someone for whom you have resentment. Make their image as real as you can even to the smell of them if you can.

For just a moment open your heart to them and notice your own fear, or anger, or whatever feelings that seem to arise. Keep looking at them and letting whatever your feeling just sit with you.

Now, look at them and slowly say, “I forgive you, I forgive you.” Watch your feelings as you do this, don’t do anything with them, just let them be there. Now say, “ I forgive you for the pain you have caused me whether you did it on purpose or by accident. Watch your feelings as you say this. “I forgive you for what you did, or didn’t do. I forgive you. I forgive you.

Watch the pain in your heart and see if you can let some of it go. Watch the person and let a little more of them into your heart. “I forgive you.” Let them be in the surrounding stillness. “I forgive.” Let them be as they are and in their own way of being. “I forgive you.” “I forgive you.” “I forgive.” Allow the distance between your hearts to dissolve. Allow them to be touched by your blessing and the potential of your forgiveness.

Now let the person leave when they are ready to go. Just watch them go and notice what you’re feeling as they go.

Open your eyes and sit in peace for a few moments.

The forgiveness meditation works but it often takes more than once. Keeping the heart open takes work and commitment, not to others but to yourself and your own sense of well-being. After many practices over time the forgiveness will stick and the heart expands.

 

Awakening from the darkness of mere being.

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I didn’t know that I was asleep

For it all looked so real, felt so real, smelled and tasted so real

I wrestled, made love, bashed my thumb again and again with what I thought was a very real and very hard hammer

Watching people walk, laugh, argue and play

It all seemed just like every other day

Then it happened, I walked through the door, woke up and everything changed

 

The bed I found myself in was not the bed I had fallen asleep in

And I couldn’t get back to the sleep

What was real was only a dream

What was dream was only a darkened corner of what was real

Consciousness after all wasn’t such a very big deal

What was once a sleeping dark became the light that bathed my world

No longer mere being– What now? What now?

Spiritual images that show up in our dreams

 

The truth is that any dream can be a spiritual guide. Below I’ve listed a number of images that show up frequently that are the more obvious connections with the spirit.

 

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Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”

 

Christ: May represent the symbol of the Self, soul, Oversoul, or the god-man.

The image could be a powerful dream symbol not necessarily connected with the historical Jesus. It is a powerful influence on one’s personality. It can also represent one’s universal connection. A Christ figure can also represent the sacrifices you’ve made or that you need to make. The Christ symbol is often a metaphor for the greater self, the self beyond ones ego.

Christ is also the cosmic mystery that each of us has been born as—the essence of who we really are. To seek this is to undertake a powerful journey, not unlike that of Muhammad in the Night Journey.

Muhammad and the Night Journey may very well have been a journey in quest of the Self, the spirit, the Pneuma. This may be the archetypal journey in the search for the Self, our essence; our real self as opposed to the body or soul. This may relate to the process of individuation that Carl Jung referenced.

Individuation according to Jung is the process that the individual self goes through to integrate its disparate aspects and become a well-functioning whole.

Individuation may be the process whereby a person reconciles the spirit with the ego by standing between them. In the book, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene translated by Jean-Yves Leloup, (as told by Mary Magdalene upon meeting Jesus and transcribed into the Gnostic Gospels):

“Lord, when someone meets you in a Moment of vision, is it through the soul [psyche] that they see, or is it through the Spirit [Pneuma]?”

“The Teacher answered:

‘It is neither through the soul nor the Spirit, but the nous between the two which sees the vision…”

The “nous between the two” may thus be the self-actualized being, the fully integrated and individuated self as the balance between Spirit and ego.

Church: This could be a synagogue, cathedral, temple or mosque and is often symbolic of spiritual belief or ones moral codes. What is holy in your life? What do you hold sacred?

The Divine Child: Is Innocence and redemptive with god-like qualities. It often comes to you when you need to transform your traditional and conservative way of thinking and acting in order to transcend a situation or evolve your psycho-spiritual experience.

The divine child is also the wonderful child that deals with the efforts of growing up. It is the symbol of perfection, re-birth and the purity of primal wisdom. This symbol may reflect your own spiritual potential.

This child is always associated with new ideas and emotions coming into our awareness. It is the spirit that is always pushing for increased awareness and consciousness. It is the symbol for the previously unimagined and the antithesis of the conservative.

It is always the creative vs. the conventional side of you wanting to be heard. But be careful here, conventional authority resists creative change, or change of any kind.

Remember it was the traditional mind that saw a threat in Jesus and ordered him to be killed. It was the conservative element that wanted the colonies to remain loyal to the British Empire, and it was the conventional mind that wanted to keep this nation a ‘whites only’ compound. But the spirit is always pressing to bring new light where there is darkness—to actualize spiritual possibility in our psyches.

It is in the state of the Divine Child that political problems are solved and creative inventions are discovered.

Conventionalism and conservatism tends to prematurely close off ideas and images of potential and possibility. This in essence closes off the power of the Divine Child. Actually either extreme ultra conservative to ultra liberal can preempt the power of the divine.

 Ascetic or monk: This is the archetype of the true inner self and represents ones inner teacher or light within.

It is the loner. This person links us with things beyond the personal and unites us. It is also about withdrawal, or the “monk” that lives alone and represents experience to be gained outside the social norms.

The ascetic is an experience of the connection to be found between all people and ones central or core self. It can be about turning away from the everyday and represent a certain mindful discipline.

Ascension: This is any image that goes upward vertically including elevators, climbing stairs, riding helicopters or when flying (with or without an airplane). It represents the going up into the higher self.

This can also represent purification or refinement and becoming more detached and attaining different and wider perspectives. Ascension is often linked with change and transformation e.g. leaving things behind, moving on, and becoming something new.

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Imaginary depiction of the Holy Grail

Cup: Possibly representing the feminine aspect of nourishment. A cup, cauldron or the Holy Grail is a ritual object of feminine gender.

The Celtic warrior Bran’s life-restoring cauldron was considered a Grail symbol. In physical essence the cup in ritual is often crescent shaped. This symbolism links it to the moon, another feminine aspect—the sacred vessel or the womb. There are many symbolic references to the feminine, the Holy Grail being one of them.

Though descriptions of the Last Supper of Jesus speak of a cup in which Jesus poured wine and offered it as his own blood and that his followers should drink it in remembrance, the famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci (see image at top) shows no cup on the table, only a plate, or dish. Was the plate, or dish the original Grail?

Whether a dish or cup, both might represent the feminine aspect of nourishment– spiritual nourishment. It has a life restoring quality to it. The dish may also be seen as a sacred vessel that would also have a feminine aspect to it—the womb. In “magik” the symbol for a cup or container is a crescent, that is the shape of the moon, another feminine aspect. The cauldron is the symbol for the goddess.

The Grail is the symbol of rebirth, perhaps even reincarnation—the passage from life to death and beyond.

 

 

Self-acceptance

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Heraclitus and Athena. He was the philosopher who posited that seeming opposites and contradictions were actually a reflection of the unity of the universe.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

 This quote from Mathew 25:40 of the NIV bible is all well and good but as Carl Jung, the Swiss Psychiatrist and Dream Analyst asked ‘what if you discover that it is yourself that is the least of brothers and you who needs the alms of your own kindness– what if you yourself are the enemy that needs loving’?

Many would say that we need to reject this aspect of ourselves, but is that so? Are we to rage at ourselves if we too show weaknesses that we are taught to forgive in others?

 

I would suggest that to reject these shadows in either ourselves or in others only gives them power over us.

“We have met the enemy and he is us” is a quote from the cartoonist Walt Kelly through his Pogo character in the comic strip of the same name and for me speaks directly to the heart of what I believe Jung was trying to communicate.

In many ways “the enemy” is inside each of us and then projected outwardly onto others and to the degree that we can recognize this is the degree to which we can deal with the dark sides of our human nature.

All humans exhibit an inner balancing system designed to maintain an equilibrium within. When too much of any psychic force, positive or negative is exerted either through practice or resistance its opposite comes to the fore. Jung labeled this process Enantiodromia. It’s not unlike the process of Yin/Yang. When a counter force is suppressed for long enough it will eventually make itself known, sometimes in very dark and bizarre ways as with a neurosis.

Essentially when any part of the whole personality of a person or group of persons e.g. a society is suppressed for a great length of time the Being will do whatever it takes to bring back balance. Sometimes “whatever it takes” takes the form of War, pestilence and famine e.g. too much, or extreme, good can produce evil.

Material suppressed into the unconsciousness of both the individual and the collective can eventually breakthrough the individual’s or societies conscious control. There are many examples of humankind’s attempt to produce a Utopia only over time to have it transform into a dystopia or authoritarian regime (note the Communist experiment, Christian fundamentalism, or radical Islam).

Wouldn’t it be better to adjust as we go along, accepting and dealing with all of the personality?

“forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,”

–from the Lord’s Prayer (NIV)

This quote reflects the yin/yang balance of the universe as well i.e. If you cannot forgive, then you can’t be forgiven– if you can’t accept your own weaknesses and humanity you won’t be able to be at peace with someone else’s that then reinforces your inability to accept your own, and so on. In short, the universe requires balance and acceptance of every part of itself.

 

The unity that brings wholeness

 

 

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In our dreams as in our waking lives we seek connection through friendships, family, weddings, marriages, and sexual experiences.

Because we experience ourselves as separate and not being able to inwardly know what is not us we are profoundly strange to each other and spend much of our waking and sleeping lives gravitating toward some kind of unification.

Ultimately this may reflect the deep desire within our souls to unite with something that is essentially not ourselves. We do this by assuming a persona that reflects what we feel is missing in our lives. We do this in our relationships as well often choosing to be with someone who shows us parts of themselves that are alien to us or who shows parts of us that have lain dormant until brought to life through the experience of the other.

Each of us has several aspects or “natures”. There is the passionate, the spiritual, and the sensual side to all of us in varying degrees and much of what we do in our lives is focused toward finding experience that fulfills our drive to live out our true nature i.e. to express our souls fully.

To that end our dreams not only give insight into ourselves, but help us to intuit the mystery of the other as well thus moving us toward the unity that brings wholeness.