The void: We are looking for a light in the darkness of mere being.

 

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“I am an orphan, alone; nevertheless I am found everywhere. I am one, but opposed to myself. I am youth and old man at one and the same time. I have known neither father nor mother, because I have had to be fetched out of the deep like a fish, or fell like a white stone from heaven. In woods and mountains I roam, but I am hidden in the innermost soul of man. I am mortal for everyone, yet I am not touched by the cycle of aeons.”

 –C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, and Reflections

 

When we recognize who and what we are we move toward fullness, toward completion and connection with everything. When we don’t there’s a void that settles just slightly above our gut and leaves us sighing and longing for something, we don’t know what, to fill the emptiness. But no thing can fill the void.

We are a consciousness that rests in the presence but that is informed and connected by what is past and through intuition able to project into the future. This consciousness is informed partly by the archetypes that inhabit the collective unconscious and by perceptions and intentions just below the surface of our awareness.

For me the emptiness seems to disappear just when I give up my time to give time to another or at the moment of forgiveness or when my point-of-view shifts then briefly I am filled. But it never lasts and the light flickers out as I fall back into protecting, resisting, judging, hiding and controlling and the experience folds back into the unconscious and the emptiness returns.

Our unconscious mind seems to surround our consciousness thus conditioning us to all sorts of behaviors and perceptions that may not be of our own making. To ignore our deeper selves, our intentional selves, makes us slaves to our darker energies and feel victim to our circumstances whether they are good or bad. I believe that it is incumbent upon every one of us to explore our hidden selves as best we are able so as to reveal the light that is often trapped within. To do less leaves us in a state of mere being, moving or growing neither forward nor back. A life of treading water is not for me

Do whatever you do for the sheer joy of it

 

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Do whatever you do for the sheer joy of it and to honor, that which gave you the life to do it.

I had a dream the once where I was watching a small airplane struggling to gain altitude, to free itself from the gravity restraints of the Earth below. The engine sputtered and it looked as though it was going to crash into the side of a bridge. At the last moment it pulled up sharply, did a backward barrel roll, and barely missed the ground as it pulled out. I thought him a fool until I could see the pilot grinning as he turned the plane into a corkscrew roll, climbed and dove again, oblivious to the danger of failure and screaming with joy. Then I understood and grinned with him.

The dream reminded me of the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach*. Jonathan was a seagull who lived to fly. He practiced impossible dives and rolls for the shear joy of the flight. The other gulls frowned in disgust and judgment because that wasn’t appropriate behavior for a seagull, but that didn’t affect Jonathan, because he wasn’t doing what he was doing for the approval of others–Jonathan was doing it for his own soul.

Sometimes I find myself dismayed at how few people show interest in my work with dreams. I keep looking at my blog, book, and website statistics to validate that I’m succeeding. But the real truth for myself is that I do what I do because of the sheer joy of doing it–I do it to free my soul and to let it soar. When I allow the judgments of others to define me, there’s no freedom to soar, much struggle, and no joy.

Yes, it’s nice to get acknowledgment for who you are and what you’re doing, but engineering your life so as to gain acceptance is a trap with no joy in it. Yes, you may need to work toward acceptance in order to advance or maintain a career, that’s a good strategy sometimes, but notice that the people who are flying high sometimes take risks as well and nearly hit the ground time and again. Like Jonathan it is in their nature to soar. Deep down I believe that it is in all our natures to break free of our self-imposed restraints and do a barrel-roll through the clouds.

Deep down beneath our cultural, social, ego-bound, and well-trained personae there is a soul struggling to be free of the gravity of our restraints. The first thing to do is to acknowledge that you have such a soul, such a desire, such a need to be free– to fly as your self and not as someone else’s image of what you should be.

 

“He spoke of very simple things- that it is right for a gull to fly, that freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form.

 “Set aside,” came a voice from the multitude, “even if it be the Law of the Flock?”

 “The only true law is that which leads to freedom,” Jonathan said. “There is no other.”

Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

 

It won’t be easy, even Jonathan crashed a few times before he got the hang of it, but that gnawing void in him kept pushing to be free.

Practice being free, a little at first until you begin to master its technique. Accept that there might be failures and that from them you’ll learn.

Dedicate everything you do to something bigger than yourself. Over time this will free you from your worry-filled ego-self that wants to be accepted, to blend, and not look too weird. Jonathan may have looked as though he was doing what he was doing just for his own pleasure, but in reality he was honoring the creator who never intended that we should constrain ourselves and become servant to our limited images.

Give thanks to your own wings, your own gifts, and the time you’ve been given on Earth to learn to soar.

 

“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way”.”

Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

 

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*Bach, Richard, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a story”, Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc., N.Y., 1970

Another covenant with reality

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Just as the New Testament of the Christian Bible attempts to portray a new covenant with human reality there is an equivalent in physics. The old world idea of reality can be outlined in what is known as Newtonian physics. You know Newton he was the guy who started pondering the geometry of the universe because an apple fell on his head. In this point-of-view the world outside ourselves was thought to behave in a particular way i.e. individual events were predictable and from this predictability a precise schematic of reality could be deduced. This was the world of Einstein and Sherlock Holmes.

But along came a new guy in town, quantum physics–the study of sub atomic phenomena– and a new testament to reality was born. In this new take on the way things are the predictability of the Newtonian world is turned on its head, instead of being dropped on the head as with the apple, and the predictable becomes unpredictable and probabilistic. No longer can individual events be predicted because in this reality only groups of events have any potential for reality.

It gets weirder in the quantum reality because in this world you and I create reality through our experience and there is no reality beyond our experience of it. In this fundamental world that lies at the foundation of all that we see or seem the old adage that “seeing is believing” is wrong because here “believing is seeing”– we see what we’ve programed ourselves to see (though I contend that outside the physical world this has always been the way for human beings, socially, politically and psychologically i.e. we only see what we want to see).

In the tiny world of the quantum everything seems mystical, intuitive, and irrational. In many ways the left-brain rational view of reality that adheres to a rigid understanding of cause and effect has to give way to the irrational, nonlinear, and whole pattern experience of the right brain.

Note that these descriptions of rational vs. irrational, linear vs. creative, logical vs. intuitive follow the psychological profiles of the inner feminine and masculine that I’ve been writing about. Once again a singular left-brain masculine view of reality begs to be balanced by the right-brain feminine view. i.e. the world can be, and I assert that it should be, both assertive and receptive, rational and irrational1. Most societies reflect a left hemisphere bias on reality, the world of trying to understand everything. But there is room for the right hemisphere that stands in awe and wonderment.

Here’s an exercise to strengthen your right brain experience of reality: the next time you are awed by something just let the feeling be. Don’t try to figure out, label, or understand it. Just let the feeling sit within you–within the right hemisphere of your consciousness. Don’t engage the feeling with thought and logic, let the left-brain rest. Eventually you will ‘understand’, but in a whole new way, a way that words and formulae can’t describe, but every bit as real.

Do this with everything, a leaf, a bird flying across the sky, the rustle of a tree branch, the honk of a horn, the smell of food, a flower, or of a pretty girl walking by. Don’t identify it, label it, categorize it or phantasize about it, just “be” with it. It’s hard, I know, because we’re so used to giving precedence to our left, language based, and rationalizing brain. Practice this when it’s practical to do so (trying it while a truck is bearing down on you and blaring its horn is not a good time to “be with” the experience of it all) and you will experience the world in a much larger way.

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1When I use the word “irrational” I don’t use it in the derogatory sense. I use it to refer an other than linear cause and effect way of seeing things an “other than rational” experience such as is experienced through intuition, or the so-called sixth sense.

What’s a mandala?

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Think you know what a mandala is? Until about ten years ago I thought it was one of those intricate drawings that Buddhist meditators used to focus their mind. Other than that I imagined it to be a ritual tool of the religion i.e. something to do with the spirit.

Did you know that mandalas show up in your dreams as well? I chuckled at this at first for I don’t ever remember seeing a mandala in any of my dreams. But a closer look revealed some interesting results. I had dreams of circles, car and bicycle wheels and a couple of alien UFOs showed up on two separate occasions. Turns out these might have been mandalas.

So I asked myself, and later Googled, what’s a dream mandala all about?

My research took me to a number of different sources some of which I’d had in my library for ages had I bothered to read the books a little more thoroughly, and no I don’t read every book cover to cover, being more likely to scan and skip to what at the time seemed like a more interesting section before getting what I thought I wanted and shelving the book without finishing it.

The truth is that I probably wasn’t ready to hear the information I’d missed until more recently. That happens a lot and that’s why I try to make a habit of returning to a book more than once to see what I’ve learned in the interim that will make the book teach a different lesson. My favorite book to do this exercise with is Richard Bach’s Illusions. It never ceases to amaze me how much more I understand over time. Some people do this with the Bible and books they read as a young adult or child. It’s a good way to track your own growth I think.

But I want to get back to the mandala thing.

In the Book of Dreams that I’ve developed over the years the entry for mandala can be found in the Archetypes section and looks something like the following.

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mandala: Any circle, e.g. a Celtic cross, yantra, a bicycle wheel, rose, and even the shape of your typical UFO represents the wholeness of the personality. Jung believed that they showed up in one’s dreams when you were going through intense personal growth. They can represent the order of ones inner life, the layers of oneself leading to the soul and the center of oneness.

 

 

Usually our minds are in constant chaos in that a maelstrom of issues, fears and passions create a continuous imbalance.

The mandala is like a template, or blueprint, for the mind. It does this by showing us that there is within us a central point to which everything else is related. Both the material within ourselves and the external material interface continuously. The patterns of this interface can help us to understand ourselves and our relationship with the world more clearly.

Interestingly the mandalas across every culture and throughout recorded history have shown a quaternary pattern that literally squares the circle i.e. a pattern that brings order to the architecture of the human psyche that the mandala represents.

The mandala seems to show up across all cultures and displaying such a commonality that it makes it part of the collective unconscious of the human psyche.

Carl Jung saw it as an image representing the self and the wholeness within us. It expresses the fully Individuated person. It is said that the Mandala can be read like a dream so as to get some idea of one’s progress in the march toward wholeness. He also suggested that they show up in our dreams when we are ready to transform some aspect of ourselves and/or go deeper into the unconscious

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“The mandala is the psychological expression of the totality of the self.”                                                                                                                            –Jung

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a fairy tale can lead us home

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Early one morning as the sun was still climbing above the tops of the faraway mountains, I threw on my jacket as insurance against the lingering cold from the night just passing and headed down the street to the old river trail. As I descended from road to trail a cold wind skipped playfully about me and I zipped the jacket tighter.

It was a gorgeous morning full of promise, birds calling to one another, a croaking frog and the buzzing of bees busily working the pollen of the flowers along the water’s edge.

I decided to head toward the little town off to the west and was sure that the path I was on was the true path toward that destiny. But somehow I got lost. “Funny”, I thought “This was always the way before!”

A little further down the path the ground became rocky with pools of muddy water and broken branches making the going much tougher than I remembered. I should have turned around, but I was convinced that this had always been the way to town and that I needed to persevere.

The sky became grey and ominous, threatening to pour down and a stiff wind snaked down the gully pushing me back against the way of travel. What had started off in beauty had quickly changed into darkening struggle, but I soldiered on. Debris began to build up against my forward progress and the rain had become so forceful it actually blew horizontal to the path and every step became painful. The sun had become so covered that the sky was nearly black and I could no longer see either my way forward or my way back.

I was cold, wet and lost and rapidly losing all hope, and to make it worse, the river was rising and lapping at the edge of the trail as it crumbled and began to disappear. A stepped back against a soggy berm so as to not be pulled into the chaotic waters but soon found I had no place to stand and the thoroughly drenched hillside offered no safety even if I could have climbed its muddy flank.

It was then that an old woman came out of the thicket and beckoned me to follow. At first I resisted, who knew what this old hag was up to and what dangers she would lead me into? But after several waves to me I decided that it couldn’t get any worse should I follow her and it was a sure bet that the way I was going wasn’t going to get me home so I let go my pride and followed her into the dense forest she had come from.

The going was tough, but the deeper I went into these woods the quieter the storm became until eventually we came to the edge of a great meadow ringed with tall redwoods. A grove of fruit trees stood to the east of us and it was there that the woman led me. Crossing the meadow the sun began to dry my clothes and warm the deadening cold that had gripped my soul earlier.

Somehow the world had changed, new vistas revealed themselves and just beyond the grove sat the sweetest log cabin I’d ever seen. As she stood at the door the woman beckoned to me to enter and because I had learned to follow her lead I walked inside. It was all I could have imagined it to be, I was home.

The patriarchal society that I grew up in had always told me that I should know where I was going and how I was to get there, but the road it lead me down was never-ending and never ever felt like home– I never felt as though I’d made it.

It wasn’t until I began to trust my inner feminine nature, that part of all of us that teaches us to open to our true Self, the wholeness that we are through our connectedness with everything, that I was able to see the real path for my life.

When we let go of our fantasy of what life is and follow our destiny even though it may not seem like the rational path we’ve been taught was the only true path, when we leave our preconceived goals and ideas and carefully conceived plans, then can we follow a path toward authenticity.

Sometimes the path has to be shattered and all seem lost before we can be open to the outstretched hand that offers us something new. Sometimes we need to let go our stubborn resolve of what is supposed to be in order to create a better way.

Peace: An expression of the ‘free range’ soul.

 

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If we are to have peace at any time we need to shift the inner and outer dialog from “How do we prevent violence, how do we make things safer or how do we get rid of fear?” to one of “how do we make ourselves peaceful and soulful?” You see the difference, from a focus on the negative to one focusing on the positive.

It’s a moment-by-moment choice to either act out of fear that is out of a negative context, to one where we choose to act out of love, to express our soulful self.

When I use the term fear I’m talking about the fear that one may experience in jealousy i.e. if you show interest in someone else or love for someone else that means less interest or love for me or the fear that if you have more money than me that means there’s less for me (note how close money mirrors love here). There’s also the fear that if you get to be more powerful than me that means I’ll be less powerful or if you get to be right that means I’m less right or even (shudder) wrong.

This is all ego stuff because that’s what the ego is all about. The ego knows that it’s small and weak so it believes it needs to protect itself and it does that by convincing you that you are small and weak and the only way you can overcome that is through protecting yourself from any further loss– after all there’s only just so much love, safety, money, and power to go around– right?

Wrong! It’s unlimited and the only way to access that power is through love, compassion, caring, giving i.e. the continuous expression of the soul.

Acting out of fear only generates more fear– it sells guns, security systems and elects politicians but it doesn’t make for a peaceful world. It only creates a fearful world with lots of guns, walls (both physical and emotional), domination, and hoarding to prevent loss. And because that doesn’t work to make us feel more peaceful we pile on more of the same– more security, more laws, more and bigger walls, and more restrictions– simply put guns never bring about peace, love brings about peace.

So if this were such a simple thing why haven’t we done it yet? Because peacefulness is not something external to us or something or someone we can manipulate to our will as we’ve been led to believe, it’s an internal condition– an expression of the soul. We cannot be peaceful without being in touch with and expressing our soul. And that’s what most of have forgotten how to do, express their soul– we choose fear instead of love, we choose not to find answers to love but to find answers to fear.

When we operate out of love whatever comes our way can be embraced in love– as a way to express love. For example, I don’t always feel love for my wife or my friends but I always try to choose to act out of love. I don’t love a bigoted message or messenger but I can choose to express another way of being that shows love and compassion.

Many in this country, or the world for that matter, have so walled themselves off with fear that they have become soulless. We spend so much precious time talking about banning people, closing doors in their face, building walls around ourselves, and restricting people’s freedoms which is all soulless rhetoric and only serves to rid us of our soul expression, of love, community, and the essence of ourselves and our lives. We need to resist the temptation to embrace the negative thus living our lives in fear.

We need to embrace our better natures and not those of our basal, more animal aspects. We are not what we think we are, what our tiny egos have convinced us we are. We are so very much bigger than that. When we truly get that, miracles happen, peace happens and there’s no need for the walls against fear.

 

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There be magic in one’s soul

 

 

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Some years ago I wrote a short story highlighting a young man’s adventure into magic, the kind of magic that we all can administer if we knew but how. It is 9:30 am here where I live and the first of the seven chapters will appear in The Dark Knight of the Soul blog this evening. Why the time-delay? Because this story can only be told when the sun has set and the mind leaves the illusions of the day and begins its journey toward sleep. Each chapter opens the heart to a place found only in ones dreams and for that reason I highly recommend that after reading you be open to the dreams of the nights following for they will magically add depth to the experience and take you further into the story than reading alone.

But first I present a little groundwork for the story.

I’ve written about magic on several occasions. You know, the kind of magic of the every day, a gorgeous sunrise, an airplane with outstretched arms leaping into the air and defying gravity, the silence of a redwood forest, fireflies darting through the branches, the birth of a child, falling in love, the gift of forgiveness, or a prayer answered are all forms of magic. There are also remarkable coincidences that transform life, graces that should never have happened, epiphanies, and miracles. There are moments when somehow you know that you are connected to everyone and everything else and that life is not just about survival.

That’s all magic, but sometimes, just sometimes, I ache for the magic of faeries, wizards and unicorns, potions, spells, and charms. I want to go where the shaman goes in his trance or to raise my magic staff and vanquish all the evildoers. I want to fly, ride dragons and hunt with Elves in a forest.

But when I look more closely I find that what I really want is the energy, the wonder, and awe that lie deep within my heart, my core, and my immortal soul. This is why I search, question and dig into the unknown. It’s all there hidden beneath the conscious images of life.

There is a glowing orb in the darkness that I sense more than see and that when touched it transforms all that I see. It is the other me whom I knew as a child but somehow lost touch with along the way to being grown up. It’s the magic of the child you were and still are, and when in his or her space you remember whom you are and are once again drawn to explore anything and everything because it’s there. And again you remember that you chose this because that’s what souls want to do– explore and express themselves fully.

The process of growing up often leaves a void in one’s soul and only the magical can fill it up. I think we all long for that place of never ending imagination where everything was possible and you were the true hero of your own story. There’s a certain safety and peacefulness in a world of faeries, dragons and unicorns, because there’s always a personal wizard that can make it so. We have lost touch with that personal wizard and thus feel lost in the world of man where no one can protect us from the evil.

My stories are designed to help regain the lost wizard. In the Archipelago of Dreams (2011) Robert regains what he had lost, though it took him many pains to do so. Hidden within the story is a word map that if understood and followed can lead one back to their core self and the lost wizard of their soul. In The Dragon’s Treasure (2009) the reader is lead back to the magic within them that waits patiently to be released once again and the skills of the wizard that resides in all of us are slowly revealed– it is a book that every Wizard’s Apprentice should have on their bookshelf.

Over the next few weeks I’ll explore this nearly lost art both in story and research, through the shaman’s mind and pieces of fact and lore that have been passed down through the ages. Tonight jump into the Dark Knight’s link to begin the story of a young apprentice’s awakening and his journey into the light. Tread carefully through all the pages to come for buried there is magic beyond your dreams.

The world down the rabbit hole

 

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Every time I Google “Spirit Guide” I come up with thousands of mystical references to actual entities– animal, deity, or ancestral. It is not these that I refer to when I speak of my own Spirit Guide. I am referring to an inner voice that whispers direction when I silence my mind enough to hear it. This Spirit Guide is also real, as I am real for it is a part of me and not of some disembodied spirit coming in from somewhere outside myself. But when in my ego-self I sometimes have to imagine into being a guide that appears to be separate in order to interact with it.

It may be ancestral in that it often reflects the ancient archetypes present in all humans, it may even be a spirit in that it reflects the God that is in all of us, and my animal nature also has something to offer when I can approach it dispassionately, but what it is not is something outside myself. The Spirit travels with me wherever I go; it walks the path with me. But it is an oddly twisting path often turning back on itself with each twist a function of who I am at the moment of my arrival.

Because the road is uniquely yours, the Spirit will only give you enough direction to guide, but not enough for you to see where you’re going until you’ve added some directions of your own. This is difficult because as many of you have experienced, the directions don’t remain the same–they keep mysteriously changing! Just when you think you’ve seen the path and where it’s headed, it disappears! Why is this?

Perhaps it’s because it’s not really there! Oddly enough it could be that the path you’re following is only a projection and to complicate that even more, it may be a projection not only from you, but your family, friends, and culture. It may be that we cannot see the path we’re on except perhaps in retrospect, but even there the act of looking back changes what is seen.

Hindsight is like a book on a shelf of memories that when taken down and opened changes not only in meaning, but in style and word as well. Every remembrance alters itself. You could almost say that each review obliterates the previous review.

I wonder if the road we travel in our life is like the Cheshire Cat in the Alice in Wonderland story that keeps appearing and disappearing? And why is it always smiling? Perhaps it is because it knows that what is thought to be seen isn’t really what’s there at all?

Isn’t it odd how fantasy, and religion often reflect reality, albeit a strange reality, and stranger still there’s a reality at the infinitesimally small world that physicists call the “quantum”? When in the quantum world, matter keeps appearing then vanishing like the Cheshire Cat and all the characters that make up the matter of the real world keep changing–creating and annihilating like the Hindu god Shiva.

This path I’ve been following seems to have no end of strangeness to it. For example, many have written me with dreams that they thought might be precognitive. I’ve often responded skeptically, but readings of such physicists as Fred Alan Wolf suggest that at the quantum level the present makes the past. Eh? Really, some physicists suggest that present choices can effect what happens in the past–the past’s future (our present) can affect what happens e.g. a future cause can affect a past cause–an effect can thus come before a cause. As Wolf queries, “can we [then] reasonably affirm that choices made in the future affect our present?” My skepticism regarding the reality of precognizance may be a little too strident.

“Curiouser and curiouser” Alice was known to have muttered in her confusion over the reality of the world she found at the end of the rabbit hole. Sometimes it seems to me that Lewis Carroll was describing a reality we actually live in rather than the one we define in our consciousness. It’s curious how he presages the world of quantum physics before Einstein was even born.

So what to do when on the road of the Spirit? Take it where it leads? Be where you are when you’re there? Where is there? And why take the road in the first place? Is it all to find out who and why we are?

 

“The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.

 ‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar.

 This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’

 ‘What do you mean by that?’ said the Caterpillar sternly. ‘Explain yourself!’

 ‘I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir’ said Alice, ‘because I’m not myself, you see.’ “

                                      –Lewis Carroll (Alice ‘s Adventures in Wonderland)

 

This is the fun of taking this road less traveled, this Spirit-road, it’s an exciting mystery, and confusion is part of it, for in this world, “knowing” is the booby prize.

The Boy on the mountain

 

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I met the boy on the mountain

There with his drum

Tapping out the rhythms of his soul.

 

Hello, said I

Having forgotten his name

And he looked up and he smiled.

 

Then he fixed me with his gaze

And pulled me into the source.

I know the secret, he said.

 

The secret? said I.

The secret to life, he said

And turned back to his drum

 

Will you tell me? I asked.

You already know, he said

You already know

 

But I’ve forgotten, I pleaded.

We all forget, he said

Then we remember all over again,

 

Again and again,

Again and again,

And again, each time new.

 

It’s funny that way

The forgetting and remembering,

But that’s the way He wants it.

 

RJC ’14