Magic– transcending the common experience of separateness

 

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Found on https://higherdensity.wordpress.com/tag/spirit-and-matter/

In honor of Samhain, the Gaelic festival known here as Halloween I’ve written two articles, one here and one in the Dark Knight of the Soul Blog where I’ve parted the veil between two worlds of reality. It is in this place where magic happens.

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In a seminar of long ago and in a far off place I once sat with a stranger and face-to-face we just looked at each other. First there were all the worries about what he was seeing of me and then came my own judgments and critiques of him and of whether I was doing the exercise right. After what seemed like hours, but only several minutes, my vision of him softened and went slightly out of focus.

The voices in my head that I’d been entertaining that were related to the person across from me, and of myself, and of the process as well came to a standstill and I was left looking– quietly looking. It was then that I noticed that it was myself I was seeing in the chair facing me. There was no other chair, or person in the room, just me, looking at me. My sense of self seemed to expand outward and filled the space of the room. I seemed everywhere, but not really anywhere. It was so real that I inhaled sharply and my partner came into focus. I then shared with him some information about him that I could not have known. When finished he did the same for me.

The exercise was to reveal to the participants that there was a deeper level of communication available to us than the everyday of our experience. The experience was that for one brief moment I was not a separate being from him and something communicated in that space, something that should have only been filed within a separate head, a separate consciousness. It was then that I realized that we are all “communicating” unconsciously on some collective level. The exercise made it possible for our forms to experientially transcend the common experience of separateness. This was my first taste of magic– the magic that is the world throughout and around us.

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”

–CG Jung

Separation may actually be a function of the human brain and not really exist outside these rational and linear stacks of cells encased within our skulls. No that’s not to say that you and I don’t have bodies, or egos generated by memories, judgments, decisions, thought processes, feelings, and experiential input–those are separate, but perhaps our core selves are not?

Many times I’ve prayed to my God for help or guidance and had an answer to that prayer show up within virtually no time at all. How is this? Perhaps in the letting go of my own need to control I open myself up to what’s already available in the universe? When I let go of my projections, personal control, and self-protections, when I’ve stilled the mind of any expectations my vision clears and I can see what is directly in front of me, metaphorically speaking. I find myself in another world, one that transcends the world my mind has created. This feels like magic.

Things seem to work much better when I get my self out of the way, this is what the rituals and chemical inducements of the shaman, the wizard, and the witch are all about e.g. making room for the soul by getting the body out of the way.

Here’s a lesson in magic, when we don’t allow the body, or any of its aspects such as the ego (the internal image of self) or persona (the external image of self), define what we are, or are capable of, then the door to magic opens. When we can transcend the dominance of the body it frees the expression of soul. In short, letting go of ego-dominance allows for magic to happen.

“Magic is a way of living. If one has done one’s best to steer the chariot, and one then notices that a greater other is actually steering it, then magical operation takes place.”

–C. G. Jung (The Red Book, p. 315)

Because we live in two worlds, the one of the every day, and the one of the archetypal unconscious, that which informs most of what we do in the every day, and yet keep these worlds separate we are incomplete in our ability to impact reality, or to even understand it for that matter. Dreams, and meditation allow us access to both these worlds through the portal of the imaginal.

When young we lived in the imaginal that made life a place to play in. We then strove to be others expectations of us. This cut a lot of us off from our magical selves. This happens so much that we often find ourselves walking through life with little or no purpose as though what we do, or have, or feel, or don’t feel is the goal of our lives.

We have lost the magic of “being” because we have lost much of the art of imagining and magic arises from the imaginal. The soul loves to play and when released, amazing things can happen. The artist knows this, as does the writer, the poet, and the musician–anyone who releases themselves from their limits and intentionally creates. It’s when you “let go” of your same-old, same-old and drop into the chaos of uncontrolled play that the magic of the child returns.

Here’s another lesson in magic: If you want to learn about magic, watch the children.

Dreaming wakefulness

 

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Who creates the universe that we experience? The following diagrams are meant to represent a different possibility for the reality we observe, the reality that seems to exist because of its oppositions. I’m just playing around here because I actually know nothing about reality other than what I can touch or intuit and frequently these too are in opposition and conflict with one another.

I’m looking beyond the reality that we create through our biases– conscious or unconscious, and our physical senses. I’m digging around in what some might call the metaphysical. What if it’s all a dream and everything comes from the imaginal part of the human mind?

When I use the word “state” in the figure below I’m dabbling at the surface of quantum physics, at least as I understand it.

 

Dreaming state                                                                                                         Wakeful state

Fig. 1

Fig. 1 Perceived as opposites but perhaps these are not opposites but a continuum i.e. two states of the same dream– and it all takes place in the observer.

 

Reality (empirical/causal)                                          Fantasy (synchronistic/acausal)

Fig. 2

Fig. 2 Perceived as opposites but if all is imaginal then perhaps they constitute two states of the imaginal.

 

States of reality seem to depend on the observer that is, how the observer observes. In the quantum world, that is the unseen world smaller than the atom, everything seems to exist everywhere and ‘everywhen’ what is called super-positionality until an observer chooses how, what, and when to observe. At that point the observer causes this state of super-potential reality to collapse into just one reality. This seems to include the construct of time as well. As the theory goes there really isn’t any time save what the human mind creates so that everything isn’t happening at once. Talk about the ultimate multitasking if it were! Even Einstein showed us that the reality of time is all relative to the position (point of view) of the observer, that it isn’t consistent across the universe i.e. reality is relevant to the the individual and their point of view. So if reality is not consistently the same for everyone is there a “real” reality or are we making it all up?

As the theory goes we may be creating reality by merely choosing what we look at. Interesting, huh?

While in the dreaming state the rules of the waking reality are suspended, so all those pesky concepts of time and space are suspended. That’s why dreams don’t follow any temporal order or any spacial rules either– anyone for walking through walls or flying above rooftops? When we awake a new set of rules seems to take over but these rules are moderated by the efficiency of our sensing and recording apparatus.

There is research evidence that suggests that sometimes we register the future before it happens or on a more mundane level our biases, beliefs, and values determine what is seen or not seen and/or felt or not felt.

There is also speculation based on observation that dreams reflect the un noticed patterns coming from our waking life and that they also create patterns that manifest in the waking life. The imagery research done by psychologist Catherine Shainberg has been used to show her clients a link between ones everyday behavior and their dreams, to seek the patterns in both, and then to choose a response versus just reacting*. Basically she claims that there is no separation between the night dream and the waking dream**.

But we may not be in charge of any of that, that is to say that our conscious self i.e. who we think we are, is being controlled by an unseen force that psychologists call, the unconscious.

It is this unconscious mind that makes up the vast majority of our self that affects what we see and what we do with it. We may be no more in control of our wakeful state than our dreaming state. There might be a very real possibility that both states are but a dream.

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*   Kabbalah and the power of Dreaming (2005)

** For more on the waking dream try Life As a Waking Dream by Diane Kennedy Pike, (1997)

Fool’s errand

 

the-fools-jester.gif“The arc of the moral universe is a long one but it bends towards justice,” is a quote used by any number of people, the most notable of which was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in one of his speeches. The quote was from a mid-nineteenth century Transcendentalist, Theodor Parker.

But this arc that bends won’t just happen, it has never bent on its own. It has always taken active “benders” to move it towards justice.

Peace and Passive are two words that have often been linked to each other even though Peace requires Active not Passive participation. Peace doesn’t just happen and when it does, it doesn’t come from fear or the need to dominate and control, it comes from positive resolve and intention.

Justice requires positive activism, an activism that promotes a context of positive connection between people and ideas.

I’m using the attribute modifier ‘Positive’ for a reason because both negative and positive create context i.e. the ambient condition in which things exist. Positive and negative motivations can coexist within either context, in fact they can inform each other. But the type of overall context tends to bend things toward one or the other way of being.

This tendency is why some efforts to bring about positive change are frequently thwarted because of negative subtext. For example, when a desire to change something is layered onto an unspoken negative such as a feeling of helplessness (at a loss for what will really work), cynical thoughts (‘they’ could change but probably won’t), or manipulation (if I can get them to change I will benefit e.g. will no longer be in fear or I will get my way) it is doomed to fail at some point.

When I use the word “resolve” I’m referring to the power of intention. As Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “Our intention creates our reality.”

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The typical game of world peace , oops I mean whack-a-mole

I’m suggesting that we stop focusing on the problem and start shifting our attention to what it is we want to create (the ground of being or context for what exists). Tackling problems without addressing the context is like playing “whack-a-mole” at the arcade, it’s a forever exercise with no end goal other than each whack has a momentary and terminal feeling of satisfaction attached.

When you have honestly and truthfully defined what it is that you want for the world you live in and resolve to do what is wanted and needed to create that, the action needed will reveal itself as will the obstacles to achieving it. Do you think the iPhone just suddenly appeared fully functional and ready to transform the world of communication? Obstacles become markers along the road to success when they are included as a necessary part of an intentional context. Great inventors know this as do effective social activists.

Intention toward a context will literally change ones consciousness. For example, if you were to have as your intention to change your negative responses to others, or to events, by actively replacing such things as anger, impatience, or fear with compassion, understanding of differing needs, and calmness/centeredness, your experience of the person or event would shift.

Once the personal context has shifted then one can see the action necessary to shift the overall context.

In short, to focus all our energies on solving individual problems as they pop up without addressing the context in which they are created and sustained is a fool’s errand.

Films on dreams: Dreams, a dialog with the dreamer’s reality

 

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Still from the movie “In a Dream”

There have been a number of films made with dreams as the underlying theme for the story. Such films as Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (1990), Total Recall (1990), City of Lost Children (1995), The Matrix, the Wizard of Oz, Spirited away (2001) or the 2010 movie Inception have all fascinated us with their take on the dream world and how it interfaces with reality.

Most of these films are disturbing and somewhat nightmarish as though the dream world were something unsettling and that looking too closely can be dangerous which is why many of us don’t want to look at them. But none of the films I’ve reviewed have been so charming as a recent short film currently on Vimeo, titled “In a Dream”.

Dreams can be a useful tool to open ones life to all kinds of possibilities. They can be used to solve problems or open us up to the world around us that we seem to be missing because we’re too focused on our own issues. Such was the story told about a young woman making her way in the world while trying to find someone to share her life with, someone special. She did all the things the modern woman does dating, getting involved in activities outside the job, on-line dating services but the man of her dreams or more accurately the man in her dreams seemed ever elusive.

It was her dream world that brought up the everyday images in her life that were unconscious to her but that eventually lead her to where she needed to be.

This film magically mixes both the world of sleeping dreams with the outer world of the waking dream and leads to a conclusion that leaves the viewer still engaged in its mystery even after the credits have rolled.

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The dream sequences were well done and were just odd enough to reflect real dreams but not so strung out as to add confusion. Though the film was a little short for me this would make a good story within a film of several stories told around a central theme of dreams and dreaming each adding a thread to the mysterious tapestry of our lives. For the romantics among you who know that your dreams have value to the stream of your every day this film is worth the seventeen minutes it takes to watch.

Great Expectations: The unconscious influence on perception and action

 

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Line drawings of our expectations on the left with reality on the right. Note that anywhere along the line on the right one could compare progress with the expectation on the left and be disappointed and/or angry even though the outcome is exactly as hoped for.

 

Last night I had a dream. In the dream things that I expected did not happen and I started to get upset, then angry, with how things weren’t happening the way I thought they should. In the dream I found myself yelling, “Stop doing that, that’s not the way you’re supposed to do it!” When I awoke I realized that this was a reflection of my unexamined feelings associated with being disappointed with something someone had done. I had been chewing on my judgments of them all the day preceding the dream so it was only natural that the issue should show up in a dream.

The issue wasn’t really about the unexplored feelings however, they were important but something else was affecting those feelings. The issue was really about my expectations for their behavior and it was these that were coloring my inner dialogue. And it was my expectations that were affecting what I was feeling about them.

So what about an unmet expectation was causing trouble in my mind or to put it another way when someone or something doesn’t live up to my expectation of the way they should be, why do I find that upsetting? Whoa, the onus of the problem just shifted radically from “it’s their fault” to “It’s mine”. My expectations are affecting how I see the world and then how I react to it.

There have been many studies about the effects of expectations in fields as varied as science, teaching, marketing, and politics. Expectations affect not only the findings of a scientist but on what they choose to study. They affect a journalist, a jury and a judge on what facts or non facts they choose to believe in and they also affect how a teacher perceives a student that can cause the teacher to either not expect much from a student or to expect more. Our expectations affect how we vote, listen to talk show hosts on T.V. / radio, and the products we buy and all of this opens us to manipulation the kind marketers and politicians use to get us to think their way instead of for ourselves. These real world perceptions also affect the decisions and pronouncements that a politician makes once in office and even affect when a policeman chooses to make an arrest or pull his weapon from its holster.

When I was a Freshman in High School we read Charles Dickens’ book “Great Expectations”. I loved the story but don’t think I really understood how the expectations of both the protagonist of the story, Pip, and the adults and others around him were affected by their expectations and how these judgments of the way life should or had to be ran their lives.

And behind every expectation there lays a judgment, a judgment that anything other than ones expectation is less– less important, valuable, honorable, patriotic, or correct… well you get the idea.

But let me narrow the field a little. In my dream as well as in my waking life I tend to let my judgments get in the way of what I am seeing. All too often I let my labels of what something is or should be affect what it actually is. All too often I will let my labels get in the way of my love for someone or something. This is true for not only how I see others and treat them, but for how I see myself that then will often lead to how I treat myself.

But I will always have judgments, I am like most people a “judgment machine” either judging something “good” (meaning it agrees with my point-of-view) or that it is “bad” (meaning that it doesn’t agree with my point-of-view)– yes I can choose to be tolerant of the so-called “bad” but often that’s just a personal expectation that I hold for myself because I judge myself to be a “good” and tolerant person. See? I’m a judgment machine!

One way that I deal with my judgments that affect my expectations, that affect how I feel about and how I interact with others, is to first become aware that that’s what I’m doing. For example, if I were to have the judgment that what someone is doing is stupid I just say to myself, “I’m having that “stupid judgment” thought again. What this does is to take the thought out of the automatic mode of perceiving the world and allows me then to shift my perspective and to look at myself to see what of myself that I may be projecting onto the event or the person.

Sometimes my judgments lead me to evil thoughts where I play a game in my head of tit-for-tat or an eye for an eye and I spiral down into negativity. What has helped me here is another expectation for myself i.e. that when I notice that I’m playing this negative scenario in my head that I will notice and never meet or counter evil with evil, negativity only breeds more negativity. I can use this negative energy to protest the evil in such a way that it makes some people stop and think about their actions or the actions of others.

But mostly I find that I just make these automatic judgments, expectations and decisions without assessing them and that of course doesn’t allow me to be at choice with either the perception or the response to them. This begs the question as to what degree am I really at choice with anything in my life, especially if I’ve allowed most of it to be run by my unconscious points-of-view – those unconscious points-of-view that the sleeping brain presents to us in our dreams in an attempt at trying to bring consciousness to our choices?

Ah, “free choice”, real choice, of what to think, what to feel, or how to act, how much do we really have? That’s a topic for another time.

Does objective reality exist?

 

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Now I want to make everything perfectly clear I AM NOT A PHYSICIST! I also was not a math major. The hard sciences fascinated me but ultimately it was what are called the soft-sciences (psychology, mythology) that attracted me. I say this to make it clear that I have no credibility when it comes to anything that smacks of physics and yet I’m arrogant enough to want to use it as a means of taking a closer look at what’s behind the theoretical curtain of reality that interacts with psychology.

We’ve all been taught about how BIG the universe is and have been introduced to theories about how it came to be e.g. the Big Bang. Seems simple enough though I’ve always imagined the physics behind it all to be much more complex.

Here’s a basic equation describing the Big Bang or expanding universe cosmology        H2=(a/a)2=8 πG/3• ρ–kc2/a2+ Λc2/3* It seems almost too simple to describe something so big as our universe.

And you’d be right if you were to think that because a physicists’ reality never seems to be that simple.

Steven Hawking at Univ. of Cambridge (holding the same chair as Isaac Newton) suggested that the universe has no boundaries—no beginning and no end. To do this, he uses Imaginary Time that runs perpendicular to the past/present/future, “regular” time you and I experience (I know, don’t ask). However, when using “regular time” there will always be a beginning, or T=0.

Abhay Ashtekar, a Penn State physicist uses a model of gravity that allows him to mathematically waltz right up to T=0 and then pass on through to the other side where he says is another universe that is in the process of collapsing rather than expanding like ours. Does this mean that there is a T= minus 0— A previous cause of a first cause, or a first cause before a first cause, or an effect before a first cause? It boggles!

Now here’s a boggle: The London physicist David Bohm believes that objective reality does not exist, that at the heart of it all is a phantasm—a hologram if you will. He argues that at the deepest level of reality everything is actually an extension of the same basic something.

To make this statement he cites the work of the Parisian physicist Alain Aspect who performed an experiment with amazing, some might say magical, results. He and his team discovered that under certain circumstances subatomic particles are able to instantaneously communicate with each other regardless of the distance between them e.g. one foot or one billion feet between them it makes no difference. But, but… what about Einstein’s nothing can go faster than the speed of light rule?

Bohm says that they are able to do this because their separateness is illusory! They are extensions of the same thing. He uses the following illustration to get a handle on the boggle: Imagine that there is an aquarium with one fish in it swimming around. Now imagine that the only way you can observe the aquarium is via a camera recording the fishes every move. Imagine now that there are two cameras projecting pictures onto two monitors but the second camera is shooting at right angles to the first. If you were to believe you were watching two aquariums and two fish you would see two different movements. But if you were to watch more closely you would see that these movements seem to be linked e.g. when one faces the front the other is facing the side. Because you don’t see them as the same fish its hard to understand the link.

The bottom line is that we are only seeing a portion of the reality and that is what is happening to subatomic particles that are “instantaneously” communicating. At the deepest level of reality the universe is a projection and everything is interconnected.

This sounds like as many theologists’ claim, that everything including you and I are at a fundamental level connected. And the concept that everything is a “projection” appears to mirror what Depth Psychologists have been saying for years i.e. that our reality is but a projection of our own minds.

Science and theology get closer and closer.

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*The Alexander Friedman equation for the expansion of the universe.