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.

The signs of your deeper self are everywhere you look

Some psychotherapists, most notably Carl Jung, imagined the psychotherapeutic process to be like a mandala. It may be true that the natural process of the psyche attempting to become whole again is also very much like a mandala i.e. that one works their way from where they are on the edge of their psyche toward the center where the Self, the source of their being lay. It’s a healing process really. Spiritually we are said to be complete and whole until we are born and become separated from the whole both psychologically and physically. It’s the Adam and Eve story symbolically imbedded in the birth of every child. But the symbolism doesn’t stop there.

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Most religions have some sort of mandala that symbolizes the Way, the path toward the source of our being, the way back to the Eden prior to our birth if you will. Essentially it is the center that represents the goal whether that goal be the Christ, God, or Source or the healing of a fractured soul. Jung in his book, Psychology and Alchemy (1944), wrote, “The way is not straight but appears to go round in circles. More accurate knowledge has proved it to go in spirals…” (pg. 28 in the English version of the 1993 edition). Dreams can be like this as well in that the symbols of a theme can spiral around a central point of the dream.

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Navajo Mandala–Found on https://nwcreations.com/mandala-monday-native-american-mandalas-by-epouna/

It seems as though certain image patterns, very specific symbolic patterns show up across all cultures and even between species e.g. the auspicious symbols of the Tibetan mandala, the Rose mandala of many Christian churches, the mandala of the Azteca, the Navajo and the Hindu, the circular pattern in a rose or the DNA double helix when observed from the top down. All show this spiral pattern circling toward some center.

These repetitive themes remind me of a favorite quote from my mother, “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” a mouthful that is defined in Wiktionary as “the physical, cultural, moral, or intellectual development of each individual [that] passes through stages similar to the developmental stages of that individual’s species, society, or civilization.” We see our development process, what Carl Jung called the Individuation process or Abraham Maslow called the Hierarchy of Needs show up everywhere we go, in our dreams, the spiral of a nautilus, or the face of a sunflower.

Symbolically all manmade mandala represent the movement toward wholeness. These patterns are archetypal in nature and indicate strikingly similar symbolic meanings.

In many ways the patterns represent life itself and the manner in which it works.

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An example of a mandala in a dream

When these archetypal symbols such as the mandala show up in my dreams I try to pay special attention because I know there’s important information to be had that’s pertinent to my psychological and spiritual growth.

For me it’s heartening to know that the universe is out there always showing me the way if I can just learn to read its often enigmatic signs.

Living in the realm of the “Box-world” and afraid to live outside its illusion of safety

 

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Not too long ago I was dreaming of walking around in a box, wandering the inside edges looking for an exit, longing for something different, and unable to find my way out. The box is symbolic of the context of my life, the milieu within which I live my life.

Context, the beliefs we have about life and about ourselves including our judgments of self and our worries, embarrassments, and self-criticisms all affect how we see others. Look at another person and we pretty much only see ourselves. As a matter of fact if you want to know about yourself, note what it is you see in the people you meet.

Challenging our context expands it and it becomes more inclusive and broadens the amount of material and experience we have to draw on to interact efficiently with the only thing that we truly own, the here and now. The human psyche is always trying to expand its context whether the conscious self wants to or not though many folks pride themselves in being able to resist that expansion– they call it loyalty, or unyielding faith, or being true to ones values and beliefs. Basically its just laziness in that it’s easier to not critique ones beliefs or allow for pesky change.

It’s as though this little-self built a box around itself in a misguided (or cynical?) attempt to keep it (you) safe.

Most of us treat our lives in a very narrow manner and get all upset when it’s suggested that we let go of our comforts and seek change i.e. when we are asked to broaden our context.

“Dear me, no. We, Hobbits, are plain quiet folk. Adventures make one late for dinner.”

–Bilbo Baggins (JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit)

I’m sorry fellow humans but we were built for wholeness and change is what leads to wholeness. Rigid, or doctrinal thinking creates an illusion of safety, it is of the small-minded ego and is, I suspect, contrary to the wishes of God or the goal of the universe. Ultimately life is not safe, you don’t have to be reckless with it, but life can be pretty durable and can allow for one to explore all kinds of options. Why would a powerful being such as God want anything less from its creation? Why would it create something so much smaller than itself? God is not of the small-minded and simpering ego, nor is this ego a reflection of God i.e. it’s not the ego self that is made in the image of God. There’s a much bigger you that gives you life, that animates your being and manifests the wishes of that which created it. Do it justice, give it honor by functioning bigger than the “little self”.

Don’t let the “little self” be the leader of your life, point to where you were meant to go and it will follow.

Where were you meant to go? An answer to that question may lie in listening to something other than your ego-self because this little ego-self will always choose the lower easy or self-enhancing road, always. And when I say listen to ‘something other than’, I’m not talking about reading some book or following some guru, priest or priestess, because nothing outside yourself has the same authority and wisdom as your bigger self– your soul. The books and priests are of the box and can only preach to you of what’s in that box.

When in the box of the little-self there are all kinds of things designed to divert ones attention away from the real power in one’s life. There are holy books and all kinds of preachers and gurus who have painstakingly written about or have been trained in the tradition of boxes to make sure that you don’t get outside the box.

What box, you say? One of the best ways of discovering the parameters of the box is to listen carefully to the “box-people”, the box keepers so to speak. They will gladly show you what the box looks like. Once you see it, then you can work out a way to get outside of it and begin the real journey toward authenticity.

For too long we humans have mistrusted our own divinity in favor for the con of the outside world. That’s because we’ve been hoodwinked into believing that the small-minded ego-self had the answers or at least knew where to find them. The ego-self is noisy, boisterous, incessantly verbose, and self-absorbed and effectively hides the quieter voice of the divine within us. This is because the small self doesn’t think that it will survive if the bigger self were to become dominant. But it’s quite the opposite because the bigger self knows that it cannot attain its wholeness without the little-self remaining intact.

 “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”

 –Luke 9:23-24

 Give your bigger-self a chance to make good on the promise of that which created you– listen to it, it actually makes more sense.

 

 

A conversation with an Elm

 

IMG_3348.JPGSitting in the shade of an old Elm and reading some most interesting books I conjured three experiences expressed in the form of poems with each coming from a different place within me.  The first comes from a break in my reading when my wife came out to share the late afternoon sun.

 

 

“I wonder what the tree is thinking, said she.

The tree doesn’t think, it experiences, said I.

That’s you thinking too much said she.

No, that’s my experience of the tree, said I.

That’s you thinking about your experience, said she.

That’s me sharing the experience, said I.

Again, with the last word, said she.

We both smiled, looked up into the meandering branches, and became

lost within its raining foliage rustling in the breeze.”

 

–RJ Cole

 

The sublime world of the subjective imagination energizes like nothing else. Experiencing reality without objectifying it is a rare treat of grace. It’s like a conversation with God– in a place where there’s no need for words. There’s more than one way of shutting down the judgmental voice in our heads. Peace is what follows.

Have a great morning, or evening, wherever you may be.

Wisdom of the heart

 

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Oft times I find that I cannot say what is in my heart and turn to the poetry and wisdom of others to shine a light on my own story, my own soul. Below is a collection of poems, sayings, and quotes that come from people who had moments of lucidity that spoke deeply into my own heart. I hope they move you as well.

 

 

 

‘Buddy’s Poem’

“Can we be here without a purpose?

I don’t think we can. Earth is too

wise to waste herself on us.

A wound can come and set us

upon a path; the big ones do.

Stepping stone: Learn humility from scars.

Stepping stone: Apprentice to imperfection.

Stepping stone: Claim the beauty of your soul.

Yes, I do believe in traveling this way.

Once I met a high-spirited eagle with

a crooked yellow beak who had been

grounded for life

by the infectious bite of a tiny mosquito.

You’d think that humiliating

for such a bird,

enraging.

But no,

this bird tossed a stone in front of me,

arched his head back

 

and screamed into the heavens,

“Compassion!”

And, I knew, absolutely knew,

in that moment

he meant

for everything.”

© 2013/Jamie K. Reaser

From “Wild Life: New and Selected Poems” (Hiraeth Press in June 2013; )

 

“Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

-Eckhart Tolle

What you meet in another being is the projection of your own level of evolution.

–Ram Dass

“The reason that ego and love are not compatible comes down to this: you cannot take your ego into the unknown, where love wants to lead. If you follow love, your life will become uncertain, and the ego craves certainty.”

–Deepak Chopra

The Art of Self Reflection – What To Remember When Waking

“In that first

hardly noticed

moment

to which you wake,

coming back

to this life

from the other

more secret,

moveable

and frighteningly

honest

world

where everything

began,

there is a small

opening

into the new day

which closes

the moment

you begin

your plans.

 

What you can plan

is too small

for you to live.

 

What you can live

wholeheartedly

will make plans

enough

for the vitality

hidden in your sleep.

 

To be human

is to become visible

while carrying

what is hidden

as a gift to others.

 

To remember

the other world

in this world

is to live in your

true inheritance.”

– David Whyte

 

“When you get to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.

– Edward Teller

 

“I prayed for change, so I changed my mind.

I prayed for guidance and learned to trust myself.

I prayed for happiness and realized I am not my ego.

I prayed for peace and learned to accept others unconditionally.

I prayed for abundance and realized my doubt kept it out.

I prayed for wealth and realized it is my health.

I prayed for a miracle and realized I am the miracle.

I prayed for a soul mate and realized I am the One.

I prayed for love and realized it’s always knocking, but I have to allow it in.”

­­–Jackson Kiddard

 

“I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.”

– C. Joy Bell

 

“Asking the proper question is the central action of transformation in fairy tales, in analysis, and in individuation. The key question causes germination of consciousness. The properly shaped question always emanates from an essential curiosity about what stands behind. Questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to swing open.”

-Clarissa Pinkola Estes

 

“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear. ”

― Pema Chödrön

 

Typically we humans look for easy fixes—a pill, a diet, a prayer, the ultimate work-out machine. And it all needs to happen within 10 days, or your money back! But that’s not the way of the universe. Sometimes one needs to do a little work on themselves to become proficient with something, anything, and becoming more the author of one’s life requires some work.

 In this DreamingWizard link there are a number of techniques designed to bring you into the present moment so that you can begin to be truly relevant.

 

“There is no one who hears, there is just hearing. There is no one who sees, there is just seeing.”

–C. Beck, Everyday Zen (1989)

If I were to carry the idea in the above quote further I might add, that there may be no “I” who is dreaming, there is just dreaming.

 You and I don’t just see people or objects, we see our continuously altered, comparative projections onto those people and objects and then we surmise a meaning to those projections. Fundamentally, we are “Meaning Machines!” in that we assign symbolic meaning to everything.

 

“The wind? I am the wind.

The sea and the moon?

I am the sea and the moon.

Tears, pain, love, bird-flights?

I am all of them. I dance what I am.

Sin, prayer, flight,

the light that never was

on land or sea?

I dance what I am…..”

–Carl Sandburg

 

“The question may be, if all we are is our body, where do we go when it dies? Ponder this and don’t be too quick to answer–discovering the secrets to the universe and to your true nature cannot be found in the quick answer whether that answer comes from some dogma, book, some guru, your schooling, your beliefs, or your own thoughts. Asking the right question in the right way is far more important because it engages more than the mind–it tickles the soul. The moment you think that you “know” something the engaging process shuts down and the soul is shoved aside.

The Unknown is more vast, more open, more peaceful, and more freeing than you ever imagined it would be. If you don’t experience it that way, it means you’re not resting there; you’re still trying to know. That will cause you to suffer because you’re choosing security over Freedom. When you rest deeply in the Unknown without trying to escape, your experience becomes very vast. As the experience of the Unknown deepens, your boundaries begin to dissolve. You realize, not just intellectually but on a deep level, that you have no idea who or what you are. A few minutes ago, you knew who you were—you had a history and a personality—but from this place of not knowing, you question all of that.”

–Adyashanti

 

 

 

Biblical Metaphors for wisdom and Healing

 

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There’s magic to be had from the wisdom center of our unconscious minds and I receive quite a number of dream requests that involve religious themes and images. I thought that from time to time I would present a few of these as an adjunct to my spiritual and psychological musings.

The following dream was sent not too long ago. I have redacted any reference to the dreamer and made a couple of minor changes to aid in flow, otherwise the dream and response are word-for-word.

 The Dream:

I am a Lay Preacher in a church in the United Kingdom. Before the dream I had been reading one of my study units Christ is Alive. I used to only remember the waking moment of a dream, but now I sleep less heavily in a sort of 50/50 world. Often in the dreams I hear a narration or overhear what is said. I had a waking dream this morning and many of the symbol words are not listed on your site. So would be pleased for your view as I am not an interpreter of dreams.

Joseph and Mary where in a garden [&] I was listening to them as they spoke and saw them; it was when she was young. Below is what I heard.

Joseph was saying I will build you a shelter in the garden, I know you and your cousin Elizabeth enjoy sitting in the garden knitting. But the weather is getting colder, you need to keep warm I will build you a shelter, so you can enjoy the sun but out of the cold wind. I will build you an arboretum out of wood, darkened on the inside, and will surround it outside by close-planted cedar and larch trees. I will make an entrance by removing one of the stone pillars and I will make it ‘L’ shaped with a space for your donkey. I will make a seat for you to sit on from a piece of finely polished oak that I have in my workshop. I then saw a view of the finished arboretum before I awoke. That was my dream of Joseph & Mary

A Possible Interpretation:

Let’s focus on some of the images e.g. Joseph and Mary as the parents, or caretakers of Jesus: This may represent your own “care-taking” responsibilities. The garden: This can represent a need to cultivate new skills, or your spirituality. Love is also a factor in this dream. If it were a representation of the garden of Eden it could represent the need to recapture your innocence, or your faith (building this garden might also suggest a building of faith). Building of gardens or being within gardens might also suggest some career development needed. The shelter: This may be a security symbol, but could also represent you, your inner self (much as a house or building would). It could also reflect your fear of things, ideas, and/or people who are different from you.

Trees in general, may refer to your hopes, desires, and personal development. Larch trees are often shamanic symbols of strength and protection as is Cedar (though Cedar is also a symbol for healing).

The warm sun and the cold wind symbols are essentially opposite in nature and may reflect that enlightenment has its colder side even though you are trying to avoid it e.g. shelter from it. This could be read as a need to be conscious of some vulnerability, or that you may need to be open to whatever comes your way. The “sun” can also represent “son”, in this case Jesus, while wind can be the breath of God, but it can also represent some turmoil/stress (inner or outer), especially if the wind is strong.

Pillars can represent strength and stability, something that holds you up (such as faith). It can be how you’re standing up to the stress, or how you’re being ‘supported’ by others. Using it to create a doorway can be about personal transformation into something more personally fulfilling.

I’ll add some of these images to the dictionary, thanks. (This has been done in the Dreaming Wizard Dictionary) http://thedreamingwizard.com/dream-dictionary_263.html

Because many dreamers have asked for a broader list of dream symbols with their possible meanings I have also collected over 5000 dream images from over 3000 dreamers and included them in a new book “Morpheus Speaks: The Book of Dreams” coming out in paperback this November (more on this later).

The Waking Dream:

 The dreamer wrote back that they were indeed having a crisis of faith after two failed sermons, an argument with a church member, and an admonition from the lead pastor. He had to temper his own ego in order to make a course correction. This he did and has had two successful Sundays at the podium since.

The dreamer’s inner place of wisdom came to him in a time of need and offered solutions for growth and healing. Trusting this place within you can add great power to your everyday life. Dreams come to us in part for our health and well-being. They are also a place where the mind works through the experiences of the day. Being aware of this process can give you a leg-up in dealing with what life throws at you.

Love and Acknowledgment

Spiritual+Love.JPGIn one of my dreams a group of frustrated and critical women, an un-nourishing restaurant experience, and a missing suitcase representing unacknowledgment, unrealized longings and social neediness, and a symbol of independence and of not going somewhere in life confronted me. Whew! With dreams like that who needs stress?

But through my dream and subsequent reflection I learned something about myself. Once again I noticed that I was still looking for approval from my mother and as was usual, I didn’t get it. She’s been dead for 13 years now and the part of me that’s still looking for acknowledgment is the part of me that tried to get it 60+ years ago.

I also learned again that there’s no satisfying acknowledgement from outside myself when the inside has yet to acknowledge. I project the unsatisfied acknowledgement onto the stage of the waking world and then blame the waking world inhabitants for not acknowledging me properly. I’ve known this for quite some time, but I always seem to forget until the universe brings it up to me yet again, and again, and again.

This is not to say that the waking world inhabitants don’t have their own acknowledgement issues. I’ve observed many folks either delivering conditional acknowledgements, or throwing up subtle and not so subtle barriers toward acknowledgment coming their way.

Conditional acknowledgment, the kind where one hand delivers while another takes away such as “He’s really good for someone as awkward as he is!” Is like no acknowledgement at all. Don’t bother, I say. Don’t toss an acknowledgment that’s going to drop to the floor before the intended receiver can catch it. You won’t make any goals that way.

Acknowledgment is a tricky thing, we’re all looking for it and it’s all about the approval we didn’t get, or perceived not getting, from our parents. Acknowledgment can be energizing and empowering, or de-energizing and disempowering depending on the sincerity and quality of the delivery. Better to just say “good job” than to get all flowery and come across as disingenuous.

I used to present a workshop a number of years ago called “The Acknowledgment Workshop”. I spent a great deal of time helping people discover what acknowledgment was and was not and what were some of the barriers to giving it and some of the obstacles to getting it e.g. accepting it. What I didn’t do then was to talk about the inner dialog that many of us have that makes it difficult to present, or accept, nor did I spend much time talking about who’s really responsible for getting and giving acknowledgment.

Bottom line– Personal responsibility is more than being responsible for your actions, it is also being responsible for what you project onto your experiences and onto the actions of others. Responsibility includes your interpretation of reality and what you do with that.

Acknowledgment is a dance between the receiver and the giver with each responsible for what is delivered and what is received. We owe it to the one to whom we are giving the acknowledgment to make sure that it is given in a way that it can be received and that it actually is taken in the manner it was given. It is also incumbent on the receiver to communicate to the giver what is wanted and needed.

That last part is by far the most difficult because it can be quite embarrassing and it has the potential for disempowering the giver e.g. it can be seen as a criticism of the acknowledgment and thus insult the giver. Mostly I wait until another time and place and unrelated to the off-putting acknowledgment to make a statement of what I need regarding an acknowledgment, though if it’s just between the other person and me, I have been known to take them aside and let them know that I didn’t really feel the acknowledgment, but for an acknowledgment junkie like me that doesn’t always happen e.g. why take the chance that whatever acknowledgment was there will then be rescinded?

I also learned (again) that one cannot receive or deliver true, unconditional acknowledgment through the ego-self. It is through the larger soul-self that acknowledgment is experienced. It is through that part of each of us that is, and experiences, love. And as with everything meaningful, that’s where acknowledgment comes from either in it’s giving, or it’s receiving–love.

Acknowledgment has the best chance of traversing the distance between people when it comes out of that place of love and is embraced by the same place in the other. Love is never conditional,half-hearted, or self-serving.

Yet love in the form of an acknowledgment isn’t always about “peace and pleasure”*. Love can come to one whether consciously intended or unintended by the giver, in a way that makes the receiver look deeply into their self to see what lies in their heart of hearts.

The Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran wrote in his Prophet pointing out another level of love,

 

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

 But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure*,

Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;

For love is sufficient unto love.”

Though Gibran may not have meant it this way, I believe that there are some secrets of the heart that need to be made known so that they do not prevent it’s true expression. In this way a conditional acknowledgment can be in the service of love because it focuses your attention on what you’re doing with it and provides the opportunity to ask yourself why. For me the pain of an unsatisfying acknowledgment can be useful and healing. My heart is often opened through pain and thus I try not to reject its healing process.

Epic tales, epic symbolism

 

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The Battle between Good and evil –by Robert Adelman found on Deviant Art

 

 

As a boy I was fascinated by the tales of Middle Earth as told by J.R.R. Tolkien. I also knew that if one fought bravely enough that good could eventually triumph over evil.

As I grew older I became aware of the Northern Norse mythology that Tolkien used as the foundational source material for his work. But unlike his stories I learned that the most striking feature of this mythology was that all was hopeless, that the apocalyptic battle at Rognarök was humanity’s doom, and that no matter how bravely the hero fought the monsters and giants would defeat humanity and the gods of Asgard.

But I also learned that for the gods and heroes and heroines of the North loss in battle gave meaning and mettle to the warrior who courageously stood their ground and fought on regardless of the fact that all was hopeless.

What’s this? I was dismayed that these epic battles would ultimately end with evil triumphing over good. How could this be? The purity of courage be damned I thought, it needed to be rewarded and besides winning and defeating was the goal of all good and evil confrontations or so I thought. Oh yes and by winning of course was meant that “good” would always prevail.

It wasn’t until years later that I achieved some insight into these wonderful tales from the North.

From the writings of Carl Jung I was introduced to the concept of the Conflict of Opposites and the effect of either ignoring or battling the shadow i.e. evil aspects of our personal or collective nature. In this context. either ignoring or actively suppressing the shadow one gives it power, diminishes their own power, and leads to their being overwhelmed by it.

I surmised that if Jung were right, then the hopelessness and defeat so often celebrated in the Northern myths becomes an allegorical warning to mankind regarding its relationship with the shadow aspects of its personality. Is it possible that when one resists or denies the shadow either in themselves or the society in which they live that its power over us becomes paramount in that our violent response only adds to the violence of the shadow and increases its power and makes impossible to overcome? Oh I won’t deny that some battles can be won but ultimately the shadow keeps returning ever more powerfully. Will we never defeat it and have a permanent peace?

We are both good and evil. So what does this say about a God in whose image we are created? If then God is also both, to resist this would seem futile and self-defeating.

I remember that in a long ago Judo class the teacher talked about not meeting force with force to overcome ones opponent but by using the opponent’s own energy to defeat them. To me now this simple strategy seems a  useful metaphor for dealing with the shadow forces of our nature. If we allow ourselves to become the shadow by denying it we will be defeated no matter how glorious or courageous our actions but if we learn to accept this darker aspect as part of ourselves and turn its energy toward good it can add to our own best intentions and we can prevail.

 

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