A mythological journey

 

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A while back my wife and I had been traveling along the coast of and in the waters of the Adriatic, Ionian, and Aegean Seas, the places where Homer penned his stories of the ultimate heroes of the Archaic to Classical eras of ancient Greece and Rome.

While traveling along the Dalmatian Coast one cannot help but to step into the ancient worlds full of myth and fantasy. Myth is the secret opening to the psyche through which the universe pours its wonder and wisdom. Myths are the productions of the psyche.

This psyche of which I speak represents the totality of the human mind, both the conscious and the vast unconscious. In classical mythology it is the personification of the soul, or inner animating spirit and in science the psychological structure of a human being, the center of thought, motivation, and feeling. But in myth, Psyche was a beautiful girl loved by Cupid (Roman) or Eros (Greek) and made immortal by Jupiter (Roman), Zeus (Greek), the King of the gods.

Though myths come wearing many costumes, they represent the one true being. It is said by some researchers e.g. Joseph Campbell, that all of humankinds “religions, philosophies, arts…prime discoveries in science and technology, the very dreams that blister sleep” come from the “magic ring of myth” *.

Myths today are mostly thought to be quaint little fables that the ancients made up to explain their world and that disappeared once science took over. But in science the essence of humankind has been reduced to chemical and mechanical interactions and social conditioning and meaning is only in what can be observed and reproduced scientifically– life is only about procreation and survival whereas the ancients envisioned a much greater significance for humankind whose essence was of the universe and where meaning was to be found in every thing and act.

In today’s modern world there is an almost desperate search for meaning, i.e. something that says we are more than just our parts, our bodies, status, or our fashion statements.

We long to be the hero in our own myth, to slay dragons, earn acknowledgment and win the Golden Fleece, find the Holy Grail, be wooed by the White Knight or win the hand of the most beautiful princess of the land or be dubbed an immortal** by the god of gods.

To the ancients the myths that sustained them were a reality i.e. the gods lived amongst them and everyone accepted this. Today all we have is our unrecognized inner myth or pantheon of dreams.

 

“It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those that tend to tie it back. In fact, it may very well be that the very high incidence of neuroticism among ourselves follows the decline among us of such effective spiritual aid.”

 –Joseph Campbell

 

Campbell goes on to say, “dream is personalized myth, myth is depersonalized dream; both myth and dream are symbolic in the same general way of the dynamics of the psyche. But in the dream the forms are quirked by the peculiar troubles of the dreamer, whereas in myth the problem and solutions shown are directly valid for all mankind.”

We can learn about ourselves through an understanding of not only the ancient myths but those that we have created for ourselves both in our waking and sleeping dreams– we are already the hero of our own myth and much of the story is shared by others– we don’t have to take this journey alone.

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*Campbell, Joseph, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Meridian Books, 1956

**everlasting life; the hereafter; eternal life

A “Hidden Music” dream

 

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“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”

 This is a quote oft attributable to Frederick Nietzsche that I ran across while searching for aphorisms. It stuck with me all week mainly because it seemed to be speaking directly to me.

Two other quotes that seemed to apply came to mind as well, though I don’t recall from where I first saw them and Google didn’t help at all. My apologies to those who first spoke them.

 

“People who don’t understand things tend to reject them.”

 And

 “Let your heart lead and your mind follow”.

(I can imagine the corollary to that might be “let your mind lead and heart will get lost in the dust”.)

 

Not all that long ago I had a dream that seemed to reinforce this notion of some inner voice, or song that few others can hear. The dream seemed to be an extension of the dream I had even earlier that I had labeled The Blue Fresco. This dream could also be interpreted as what I’m now calling a “Hidden Music” dream.

It’s only when I’m quiet, when I’ve stilled the incessant chatter of my ego-voice that I can hear the music. When ruled by pride, fear, desire, worry, anger, distrust, greed, or when I imagine myself better than others I cannot hear the music. When I judge others or myself, I cannot hear the music. When I surround myself with distractions (TV, Facebook, Twitter, video games) I cannot hear the music.

It is only when I seek the sound of silence that I can hear the music of the spirit. It is from this deep venue that my soul waits to be expressed by as Rumi said, “It’s most beautiful face”. To dwell in this place is to dance to the music that few will ever hear, not that they cannot but that they will not and herein lies the cause of our deafness, the “Will” of will not, the be-all and know-all of the human consciousness that hides the beauty of what we all are beneath its suffocating self-centeredness.

It is this self-centeredness of the will that has us search the world for some treasure when the treasure is in us all the time. It’s what Lao Tzu called the Tao, “the origin of all things” the heart of all our being, the essence of what we are. It’s what lies between each of our words and the thoughts that create them. It’s what is beyond our personal and collective motives.

When we become self-centered the music cannot be heard. As Lao Tzu said “the quest for outer acquisition closes the door on the Tao” and it is the needy self-centered ego-self that is always projecting outside itself its unreality because it knows that it is hollow and empty within. No matter how hard it tries, no matter how many self-help programs it takes it cannot fill the void of itself for here there is no music within the void. It is not in the personally created ego that we can find the music of our true self.

As with that dream of several years back (The Blue Fresco) one needs to leave the empty world behind it and follow the intuition of the child into the mountains beyond where the music lies. Therein lies the connection with the spirit, the real self.

A world out of balance

 

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The archetypal union of the masculine and feminine aspects of all humans.

In earlier blogs I have discussed the role of the archetypical symbols inherent in dreams. Carl Jung believed that an inherent dichotomy or dualist quality exists with human beings, if not all reality and that to lean too much one way or the other, that is to allow one aspect to dominate its opposite aspect, will create a destructive imbalance.

In short, Jung believed that what was needed in the world was balance between these dualist opposites. Because the world is dualistic, meaning for every A there’s a B, Masculine/feminine, up/down, conscious/unconscious, spirit/body, soul/ego, light/dark, or intuition/knowledge, or liberal/conservative. Existence of one suggests the existence of its opposite i.e. they generate each other and cannot exist alone.

One of Jung’s favorite oppositions was the masculine/feminine (most likely one of yours as well). He used two mythical figures to describe these traits, Eros for the feminine and Logos for the masculine. Eros represents the intuitive, feeling (including mood), relationship, caring and playfulness. Logos represents logic, progress, reason, knowledge, and order. The world has for sometime been overwhelmed by a masculine dominated ego that has looked upon the emotional feminine as representing chaos and therefore the need for controlling it.

However, within each man is a feminine aspect that allows him to express the characteristics of caring, inclusiveness, thoughtfulness, emotional attachment and intuition. The more “masculine” (controlled by his masculine traits) a man becomes, and the more he represses his Eros qualities, the more likely that he will become unbalanced and fall prey to a lack of objectivity, literally losing touch with the “reality” he holds so dear. Hurt easily turns to anger and resentment because he can no longer see the reality. Contentment and security weakens and the overly masculine male begins to control his external world in ever increasingly violent ways. He is also cut off from meaning and is then forced to look for it in very bizarre ways e.g. through over-control, domination, drinking, lying, drugs, fighting, hyper-sexuality, and/or indulging in risky behaviors.

Women who are cut off from their masculinity frequently connect with men who show enough masculinity to compensate for their loss and will put up with a lot of abuse so as to not lose this compensating link with what they lack. This lack also may reinforce a woman’s greater attachment to family and home and suppress the urge to go outside the home to get her needs met, thus imprisoning her.

On the collective (national, worldwide) level*, this imbalance seems to create an environment where men are dominant and women submissive. But both are unsatisfied in the arrangement. When unsatisfied (unbalanced), the male usually ups the masculine gradient for he knows little else and because, for him, the inner world either doesn’t exist, or is to be feared, so he tries to master his lack of satisfaction by controlling the outer world, through force and manipulation. The female does the same often through passive force and manipulation.

So we’re all running around in a world searching for satisfaction, i.e. happiness, in all the wrong places and desperately trying to gain it through manipulation of the world around us. This is what happens when you leave everything up to the ego by detaching yourself from the spirit/soul. This is what happens when you cut yourself off from your opposite aspects. This is what happens when you treat half of yourself unequally.

 

You can’t find happiness through domination and control, or their

         opposites: avoid-domination and avoid-control!

 

Happiness has the greatest success of being found through a personality that has discovered its opposite and has learned to integrate it into a whole and then project this wholeness into its relationships with others.

My book The Archipelago of Dreams: The Island of the Dream Healer is a story about the imbalance in mankind and how one man finds an entry into the mysterious world of the Dream. Forced to let go of his Being he enters the Otherworld of the Spirit where at the potential cost of his life he will be challenged to right the imbalance and set a new course for mankind.

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*I’ve also explored this social imbalance in a May 2017 blog entry Causes-of-world-unrest-thinking-that-only-your-point-of-view-is-the-right-one