Waking up from the dream

 

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The human mind functions at the level of dichotomies i.e. opposites. For it nothing exists but because of its opposite e.g. good/bad, up/down, left/right male/female. For the most part we revel in our differences and group ourselves according to our differences. We put lip service to accepting diversity but this has parameters e.g. as long as it isn’t too different and as long as we reserve the right to accept on our own terms.

In a democracy people are always struggling with tolerance, acceptance, and oppositions and in the thick of the struggle it often looks as though a rigid rule or creative separation might be the easiest way to go.

Unity is one of humankind’s great dilemmas because each of us on a fundamental level thinks of ourselves as separate from everything and everyone else. We just don’t function as though we’re one thing–with many facets, and manifestations, yes, but fundamentally at the level of spirit and soul, one thing that includes all things, ideas, beliefs, and ways of being. For all of us our bodies and minds end at the end of our extremities–at the surface of our skin. And all our institutions reflect this bias (some say it’s a cognitive error) we either create laws, or rules (spoken or unspoken), constitutions, articles of confederation, religious dogmas, or physical manifestations to keep us apart and to protect us from the separated other person.

But we have to do this because we can’t/don’t/won’t trust each other to act as though we are one. We don’t trust each other to hold each other in respect and in love. And nearly everyone has gone into agreement that this is the rational way of being. But is it? As a famous TV Psychologist often says, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” If we look at the amount of guns, bombs, murders, starvation, betrayal, cheating, wars, conflicts, oppressions, locked doors, armies, police, vigilante groups, laws, loneliness, bullying, rape, put-downs, lies, cover-ups, deceits, burglaries, slavery, and rebellion in the world that should help you with an answer.

You’d think if we knew and acted as though we are each other, a single creation from a single creator (regardless of name), that we could at least treat the illusion of the “other” with some respect.

Ah, but that’s the rub! Do we not treat each other with respect because deep down we don’t respect ourselves? In this waking dream where nothing is as it seems, where we stand apart and are only witness to the images that parade before us, we don’t trust ourselves, we don’t believe in the beauty of what we are. We often think of ourselves as a lie because to reveal the real self would cause rejection and then we would really be alone. Better to either be a traditionalist or a rebel than to not exist at all.

But what would happen if you truly loved unconditionally what you are, with all your faults and warts? Would it be a little easier to accept the “other” in the same way?

Whether you’re a terrorist, anarchist, Democratist, isolationist, or religionist you probably want pretty much the same thing–safety and peacefulness, a sense of belonging and of being loved i.e. the right to exist as you believe. But I don’t think any of these needs can come from outside yourself, or in the attempt to manipulate, or dominate others. Peacefulness, belonging, love and the feeling of security have to grow from within before their seeds can ever be effectively sewed in the greater world.

This is all a part of waking up from the dream.

By hook or by crook: The restricted feminine and its effect on society

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The Yin Yang symbol represents among other things  the feminine Yin and the masculine Yang personality aspects in balance.

Unexamined events in our childhood lives have left indelible marks on our unconscious landscape. These marks, or shall I say wounds, have effected how we relate to the world and to ourselves throughout our lives.

I always wondered why I related to people the way that I have and in some ways still do. Why do the actions of some people upset me and others don’t? As I’ve grown older I’ve also become interested in what motivated and motivates my actions and have become convinced that much, if not most, of my behaviors were automatic responses to patterns laid down and built into my unconscious mind during those formative years.

Sometimes those patterns, a template for perception, will reactivate during some modern day events. It’s as though the event reaches deep into my unconscious mind and “hooks” a pattern, a feeling, and/or an early similar event and I find myself feeling and acting in a way alien to my current emotional state. In fact, psychologists label these motivating elements “hooks”.

For example, a person might have experienced a mother who was for some reason, (from the perspective of the child the reason is irrelevant) cold and indifferent to them as a child and out of that learned to do whatever was necessary to gain acceptance and acknowledgment, trying also to be loved and cared for. Of course this would never produce the desired result though over time may become the primary motivator, or hook, behind their material success– a material success with little feeling of love or personal attainment i.e. there’s a lot of very successful people out there who don’t think they’ve really “made it” or feel unfulfilled despite their achievements.

When the fear of disapproval, or failure or the potential for shame comes up many people are hooked into certain response patterns such as denial, withdrawal, and/or rage making it difficult for them to respond effectively.

There are also materially successful people who are self-critical and mildly depressed and full of fear. There are many marginally successful and those that might be considered unsuccessful by the current patriarchal society whose early critical upbringing has added a poisonous aspect to their world view e.g. hooks such as insecurities and powerlessness and who have great difficulty overcoming the negative affects of a less than optimal childhood.

Many males experience a stunted masculinity due to their inability to employ their emotional selves, as do females who have opted to put theirs on the back burner while trying to make it in a patriarchal environment.

What may have caused this damage to our individual and societal potential for happiness and fulfillment has been a depreciated feminine aspect of compassion, intuitiveness and self-forgiveness. Our patriarchal drive toward rationality, high productivity and material success has quite literally cut us off from the feminine side of ourselves and that of our society.

Far too many women have subverted their feminine side in order to compete in a patriarchal system and far too many men have rejected their less dominant feminine side to their personalities due to an unconscious fear of a women’s disapproval engendered from the early mothering of their childhood.

It is said by some psychologists, most notably Carl Jung, that within each of us an archetype, a human race image, of the ideal mother, The Great Mother. Unconsciously everything in our waking world is compared to this image buried within our subconscious. Clearly this affects what we perceive regarding our conscious world mothers both positively and negatively.

Now I’m not mother-bashing here, most mothers do a herculean job of raising their children, but they are human and do make mistakes and on occasion do things that are more in their best interest than the child’s, but what the child does with those instances of not being the best mother are what leads to the negative affects I’ve detailed above. In a society where the father is supportive of the feminine these minor effects would be mitigated but many of these fathers have had their own inner feminine stunted and demeaned if not outright buried. In a society that pays no premium toward looking at its emotional self the feminine aspect cannot bring balance to an overly masculinized environment.

The consequences of restricting the feminine aspect in all of us has profound and long lasting effects on each of us to achieve our potential and ultimately to live in an environment of fulfilled happiness. Sure, we are the most militarily, economically, and productively powerful nation on Earth, but at what cost? We certainly aren’t the happiest, contented, the best cared for, or loved and loving people on Earth and the fear of possible failure haunts nearly every activity. Both males and females in this society seem to feel inadequate and diminished or are running from the possibility of these feelings.

We need to bring greater parity to the sexes not only in the economic realm but in the psychological and emotional realms as well.

Precognitive dreams

 

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Over the years I’ve had a number of people share dreams where they thought they may have known what was going to happen in the future. I usually skirt the issue and deal with the more tangible images of the dream. When I have commented on the idea of prescience (keen insight), or even the more startling idea of precognition I’ve pointed out that for this to happen you need to have either a keen sense of intuition, or effect would  have to precede cause. Another explanation may be that everything has already happened and we are each living it out, though sometimes our brains malfunction and get ahead of themselves.

Some physicists have studied the phenomena of time and the direction it seems to go in and as it turns out not only does the past seem to make the present, but, oops, the present also seems to make the past and not just a person’s present experience of the past.

At the very miniscule quantum level, that is at the size of a photon of light, it appears that decisions made in how to observe an experimental result actually feedback to the beginning of the event and changes it. In short, the effect can come before the cause. Huh?

Does that mean that not only do our choices today affect the future, but they also affect our past? And does that then suggest that our future affects our present? Does that mean I can change my present by affecting my past? No, is the answer presented by Dr. Fred Alan Wolf PhD popular physicist and author of Taking The Quantum Leap (1989) and Time Loops and Space Twists (2010.) According to him there needs to be a conservation of continuity with regard to time that is when something has happened regardless of whether you’ve affected it in the present toward the past, or the future toward the present it cannot be changed to do so would quite literally split the universe into two universes where each of the two-time lines can co-exist side by side, but not as one.

But does this phenomenon exist in the macro world of our everyday life? In my book The Dragon’s Treasure (see Books by Author at right) I spend an entire chapter on time and report on a study done by two psychologists, Kolers and Grunau, from The University of Toronto (pg 154) where the results suggested that perhaps our minds don’t actually interpret events chronologically. The work of Dr. Roger Penrose also suggests that the ancient Hermetic axiom, “as above, so below” is true in that the quantum realm may be reflected in the macro, or human scale as well.

This asynchronous experience of reality shows up in dreams more often than not. Dreams seem to follow something other than linear time e.g. a nonlinear time, cause and effect is often turned on its head, and in fact everything seems to come at random. Why is this?

The answer may lay, in part, to one of the purposes of dreams e.g. to down load the days experiences, sort through them and encode those that may be of survival benefit and trashing those that may not. These memory fragments may come forward through association, one image associating with another thus appearing random in nature, or irrational. Also that part of the brain called the conscious mind is set up to perceive linearly, but that is the part that is shut down during sleep and the unconscious doesn’t need to work linearly. But both seem real when we are in them. They are even complimentary in that they both see reality, but from different temporal perspectives, thus they offer the potential for the wholeness that doesn’t exist in either, but does within the integration of their opposition–a process Carl Jung called Individuation. Following this concept of complimentary opposition it is no surprise that linear consciousness has its corollary in unconscious nonlinearity.

Sometimes in order for us to perceive reality as it is we need to function outside of linear time where we are not bound by the rules of cause and effect. It is in this realm where the creative composer, artist, poet, and writer dwells and expresses their spirit. It may also be there that we can remember what is yet to become.

It’s as the White Queen in Lewis Carroll’s, ˆThrough the Looking Glass” said to Alice, “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”

 

Anger and violence in dreams

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Dharma Chakra mandala Hinamayatantra

Anger in dreams usually reflects the emotional state of the dreamer in their waking life. Typically this anger has been suppressed and uncommunicated in the dreamer’s waking life. The dream is a confrontation with the unconscious and suppressed material that one stuffs while awake. In the dream the anger has permission to vent so it’s better than nothing, but the unresolved issues that have triggered the anger have to be dealt with directly and in the light of day.

In our waking lives the way to deal with these negative triggers is to neither seek revenge nor use violence. This is the second of the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path1 and is known as Right Intention. I use it here because it speaks directly to the premise of this article– that anger and hate are instinctive reptilian reactions to real or perceived threats, but rarely effective in bringing balance to human interactions and will never lead to happiness or equanimity.

Revenge2 as a means of reducing ones anger is counter productive in that revenge begets revenge. One need only look at the ethnic battles going on in virtually every country or neighborhood in the world to see the truth of this.

Bottom line, revenge does not, will not, cannot restore equity, or balance, to any relationship. Every attempt to use it only escalates a negative cycle. When punishment is used to bring fairness into the equation neither the punished or the punisher is ever able to let go and truly move on.

Violence as a means of righting a wrong doesn’t work either because violence only begets violence. Hate perpetuates hate and hurts/damages both the hater and their target. And the damage is not only psychological, emotional and moral, but physical as well because the body’s health is severely affected by anger and hate.

There is nothing more damaging to the human Psyche (soul, spirit) than doing or sanctioning violence to another human being, regardless of the reason or justification.

Now I’m not suggesting that you reject anger by denying it because you can’t, it’s a natural reaction to threat– to the self or to those one loves. There are ways to deal with it when it comes up however, ways to prevent it from taking you over.

The first step when you find that anger has reared its ugly head is to not respond to the provocation i.e. do not respond to anger with anger. Try delaying your response for several seconds (this is like the old “count to ten” method). This will train self-control and give some time to engage the brain.

Quick to anger is a Lizard Brain (lower brain) reaction and can be overridden by the neo-cortex, the non-reactive higher cognitive part of the brain (that part that separates us from the other animals). Engaging the introspective higher brain will allow one to thoughtfully “respond” rather than instinctively “react”. Delay will give the higher brain a chance to respond in a non-escalating fashion and will result in much less damage to both parties.

Another important step in reducing anger is to treat others with kindness and compassion. This includes those who are not like you or don’t believe what you believe. This also includes those from a different ‘tribe’ i.e. family, neighborhood, village, gang, religion, school, team, city, state, or country.

We are all humans who are trying to survive, feel safe, love, and be happy. With few exceptions, mostly by those who have psychological, spiritual, brain, or psycho-social damage, we all make mistakes, want to make a difference and want to feel and be seen as being a good person. We also share another common trait i.e. we don’t always know the right way to go about it. This is probably due to the fact that none of us came with an instruction manual although many scholars and religious leaders have written down a number of rules and laws designed to give us at least some direction even though they aren’t often read or followed when we’re being threatened.

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1The Noble Eightfold Path right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

2vengeance, retribution, retaliation, reprisal, eye for an eye.

What’s the sound of one hand clapping? Think on that for the next 30 seconds before continuing to read. No cheating, now!

 

 

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By Karl Kempton

If you have the answer, then don’t bother to read on, because it’s not about finding an answer. It’s about the paradox and about unsticking the mind by grasping the unknowing, because it is only in the unknowing that something new can enter. This is a type of Zen Koan and is designed to put the mind into a double-bind and thus paralyze the ego-self, that which thinks it needs all the answers.

 

There’s another Zen story about the professor who comes to a Zen master for the purpose of learning something about Zen. The master offers him a cup and asks if he would like some tea. “Yes, of course!” Replied the professor and the master began to pour and pour until the cup ran over and filled the saucer then ran across the table. “But the cup is full!” Cried the professor. “And so are your ideas about Zen!” Suggested the master. Again, it is with your mind full, when you think you already know something, that there is no room for anything new.

Here’s a third story where Chuang Tzu, a Taoist teacher, told of a time when a man traveling in a boat sees another boat heading right toward him. In reaction he yells in anger and shakes his fist at the other boat to come about and change course, but nothing happens and they close the gap getting closer and closer. But now he notes that there’s no one in the other boat and his anger subsides and he himself steers clear. His preconceived notion nearly got him killed.

These stories lead to three more lessons in wielding magic, 1) Embrace the double-bind–the paradoxes of life, but embrace them as mysteries; 2) Give up what you know–actually, give up what you think you know. Until you do, you cannot learn anything; and 3) Learn to respond, not react–don’t operate out of your preconceptions, or your expectations e.g. be appropriate to the moment and action will flow easily.

Actually all three require letting go of the ego-self, the “I” and this leads me to a fourth lesson.

The “I” divides us from the magic that is all around us. It separates us from one another and makes us less than whole. In a men’s group this morning we got to talking about how so often we humans get caught up in dichotomies separating left thinkers from right, conservative from liberal, etc. We talk about diversity being a good thing but rankle when it bumps up against us. Every time a group doesn’t think or act the way we think they should we take our game somewhere else, church denominations split, political parties cut each other off, friends and lovers walk out on each other–separation, separation, separation.

However, I think that the very divisions can point to the whole and we can become more aware of what the whole looks like through the diversity. Each point of view is valid none are superior, or inferior, to the other except through the lens of our egos. And I contend that it’s only when we embrace our opposites that we can feed our souls.

Speaking of opposites, there’s an old Chinese fable that tells the story of the difference between heaven and hell. In both places there is a large banquet table. Each of the people sitting around the table is given 5-foot long chopsticks to eat with. In hell the people try in vain to feed themselves with their 5-foot long chopsticks while in heaven each person just feeds the person across from them. In heaven they surrender their individuality and rid themselves of their self-imposed division.

In church on Sunday we passed the peace of Christ amongst us when I came upon two folks who were deaf. In their signing the peace of Christ I noted that the sign for peace was the clasping of the left and right hands back and forth–how appropriate, peace comes from the inclusion and union of opposites.

Here’s to feeding and clasping your opposite.

Some more thoughts on the inner animal.

 

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Found on theprovince.com

Stepping out on the porch and into the night I saw silhouetted at the edge of the lawn an animal all in black, its back arched high, tail erect, and ears plastered along its head. A low guttural howl rumbled from deep inside it and grew louder with each passing moment.

I scanned the yard for the object of the black beast’s ferocity and there, cowering against a low lying bush, a white cat critter lay hunkered low to the ground with its hair raised high along its spine. Both animals stalked and circled each other and issued a racket loud enough to raise the dead.

The air was heavy, and thick with fear. I was about to witness a mindless clash of titans.

“Oh for goodness sakes you two, knock it off!” I exclaimed while stepping rapidly forward. “Shoo, shoo!” said I while dismissing the combatants with a wave of my hands. They then scattered to opposite ends of their territory and slinked off into the night, living yet for another day.

I can remember as a school principal saying the same thing, minus the “shoo-shoo”, to a couple of boys squaring off on a high school campus. Cats, lizards and teenage boys sometimes have a lot in common, especially when they set whatever higher thinking skills they have to the side and begin to function from their reptilian brains. It’s the same brain that convinced me when I was thirteen to put on some old roller skates and hitch a rope tied around my waist to the back of an ice truck just before the driver headed out onto the main blvd. What was I thinking? And that’s the point, I wasn’t, nor were the two cats or the two teenage combatants. We were functioning exclusively in our reactive instinctual mode (self-preservation isn’t high on a teenage boys list, after all they’re immortal).

We seem to observe this mode more and more often these days, in our politics (a lot of lizard-brain posturing there), in our neighborhoods, and in the work place. Fear is the primary stimulus for reactive positioning and it is fear that is being exploited in governance, politicking (“he’s destroying our country!”), on the radio & T.V. (facts, who needs facts?), and commercial advertising (e.g. “kills 99.9% of all disease causing bacteria”). And when we get entangled in our fears we go out and buy guns, and begin to make any number of bone-headed decisions that ultimately make us even more fearful.

Overall, our animal natures are just barely subdued and held in check and when bombarded with messages of fear the veneer of self-control begins to wear dangerously thin. And when finally pushed into a defense mode we shut down the also thin thinking layer of our brains and begin to operate from the vast repository of the unconscious and the animal within arches its back and growls a warning.

These warnings show up in our waking lives all the time with low volume growls of “Bitch, bastard, A_ _hole!” and any number of even more vile expletives meant to demean another being as a means of defending ones own. They also show up in our dreams as dogs that bite, snakes that hiss, spiders threatening to ensnare us, and large animals that chase us down and attack.

Once caught up in the unconscious animalistic and irrational fight, or flight mode, it’s hard to get back to the rational thinking mode. However, no matter how threatening, these animals also have immense capacity for good. When observed prowling in our hearts or in our dreams we can use them as a signal to take note of what is happening around and within us. If we can stop in mid expletive and observe what’s happening we have a much better chance of functioning out of conscious rational choice rather than be reactively controlled by our unconscious animal. When we can be more conscious of our socio-political environment and our reactions to it through the monitoring of our dreams we can also be more at choice in our responses.  

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Eagle Dancer by Bud Barnes . Animals in dreams are depictions of

 

ourselves stripped of our social controls

 

and often present us with our unedited

 

feelings. They depict our drives and

 

urges for procreation, love caring and

 

nurturing. Their skins were

 

once thought by early native tribes to

 

impart the power, personality and

 

wisdom of the animal they once belonged to.

 

Animals continue to give their power

 

in our dreams. –RJ Cole (Book of Dreams)

 

 

I think we need to be able to “shoo” away our inner and outer animal and stand between our warring aspects in order to scatter them and give space for more measured and thoughtful responses. God gave us a part of the brain not given to the lizard and the cat to aid us in this endeavor and I think we better start using it a little more often if we want to survive our darker natures.