A mythological journey

 

th.jpg

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.

_______________________________________

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

**everlasting life; the hereafter; eternal life

A “Hidden Music” dream

 

main-image-spiritual-music.jpg

 

“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.

Two poems felt while listening to a flute meditation

 

Copy+%282%29+of+DSC02612.JPG

 

Dream Journey

Sailing into the night beneath the big dipper’s spout

a dragon and a dove fly within each other’s wake

and I tack north till dawn comes starboard.

The Coming

Silver streaks across white cotton skies.

A hill’s edge turns black silhouette and the shadows become arbored spires reaching out to the rising light.

A cock crows, a crow calls to hidden brothers and then the quiet.

Not a leaf twitches.

All are holding their breath awaiting the coming of the light.

It will come, it always does, a holy thing giving of itself freely.

Not a thing out there but a glowing deep within every cell of our being.

With us at birth and at the closing of our days.

Neverland, the border land between sleep and wakefulness

 

6eb141fcb7d819ff3b3c7a1347c1c473.jpg

 

“Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning” was Peter Pan’s answer to Wendy when asked where Neverland was located. It was also Captain Kirks answer to helmsman Checkov when asked “Where to Captain?” in Star Trek VI. In both cases it referred to a mystical place between realities, an ‘unknown country’.

Neverland is also my name for that borderland called the daydream where we are neither in sleep or in wakefulness but certainly lost to both worlds. It is a place at the margins of reality a place that some call fantasy.

Now, a certain amount of fantasy is healthy to a balanced psyche. It can be healing to ones sense of self and help one to recuperate from the traumas of the everyday. This fantasy world often serves the artist, poet, writer, musician, lyricist, inventor, and scientist or just about everyone else. It is where the energy of creativity is born. I suggest that it is the semi-lucid place where the conscious meets the unconscious to where the soul speaks to us most clearly and where its power is felt most keenly.

But the traveler who hikes to realities edge must be careful where he or she steps and to visit too long or too often can lead to entrapment and skew the balance of the psyche i.e. it can separate one permanently from the upper kingdom and thus alienate them forever from friends and family. This was the very real threat that Robert experienced in the Archipelago of Dreams.  It is in our daydreams that all sorts of realities can be explored. In this place the soul is freed from the restrictions of the body and its limits with time, place and idea. Here there is a clarity of mind that can begin to form and inform. No longer restricted by time the future can come into focus. Traveling into the past often affects what’s happening in the present. One typically forgets what they are doing when they travel deeper into Neverland.

In the upper realms when one is tasking the mind narrows its engagement to deal only with the analytic task at hand and compassion suffers terribly. But in the Neverland of the daydream both the analytic and empathetic modes function and cycle through different modes and leading perhaps to a broader understanding. In the daydreaming mind various associations not seen when awake can bring forth understandings that the awake mind has grappled with without success. This also happens during dreaming but it tends to be more random.

Basically we are a daydreaming species. A recent Harvard study suggested that we humans tend to daydream up to 47% of the time we’re awake. But this is not useless idle time because studies have shown that unusual associations and pairings, counterfactuals if you ill, take place during a visit to Neverland. From our unrestricted depths well up all kinds of strange new thoughts that often turn out to be quite useful where new possibilities surfaced beyond what people are already exposed to in their waking lives (according to Baird and Schooler, Psychological Science, 2012). It is suggest here that more creative solutions result when the mind is allowed to wander into Neverland i.e. in general the better one is at wandering through the borderlands of consciousness, the more creative they tend to be.

In closing I share this excerpt from Edgar Allen Poe’s Marginalia (Part V,” Graham’s Magazine, March 1846):

“There is, however, a class of fancies, of exquisite delicacy, which are not thoughts, and to which, as yet, I have found it absolutely impossible to adapt language. I use the word fancies at random, and merely because I must use some word; but the idea commonly attached to the term is not even remotely applicable to the shadows of shadows in question. They seem to me rather psychal than intellectual.

 They arise in the soul (alas, how rarely!) only at its epochs of most intense tranquility–when the bodily and mental health are in perfection– and at those mere points of time where the confines of the waking world blend with those of the world of dreams. I am aware of these “fancies” only when I am upon the very brink of sleep, with the consciousness that I am so. I have satisfied myself that this condition exists but for an inappreciable point of time–yet it is crowded with these ‘shadows of shadows’, and for absolute thought there is demanded time’s endurance.”

 

 

 

The script for our lives

 

mascare.jpg

 

Good morning! Before we start I just want to inform you that this post is not primarily for human beings.

For those of you who may be humans or who are trying not to be human the post might be a bit confusing, but it’s okay you’re still welcome.

I also want to establish a truth that this post is based on.

The basic truth is… we are all liars!

Now I know that doesn’t sound hospitable and may even be seen as being a little rude, I mean after all I don’t know you so how could I make such an outrageous judgment?

First of all it’s not a judgment it’s a fact. If as you are as you claim to be because you are still reading this post, a human being, then you are indeed a liar because all human beings are liars.

Let me explain, each of us wears two masks, each a lie. One of these masks we wear outwardly. This mask is made up to look like what we want everyone to think we are. It’s also made up of what we want to think we are.

What makes this first mask a lie is simply that no matter what we make the mask look like it’s a lie because simply put the mask is not us.

So what about the second mask? This is the mask that we turn inward. It’s the one that reflects all those stories about the way we are i.e. who and what we are and why we are that way. You know what I’m talking about, it’s all those stories about what your parents did or didn’t do, the culture you’re born into, your experiences, feelings, beliefs, and genetics.

Again, simply put, they’re all lies, because we, you, are not any of that!

Oh, I know, you want me to tell you what you are so that you can either embrace it or reject it, but it’s not going to be that easy.

When you’re in the mode of either rejection or acceptance and wanting to change you’re inside the lie and when inside the lie all you can do is…well…lie! While being human you have no choice. Dogs bark, humans lie it’s just what they do.

“But a dog isn’t self-aware like we are!” You might say. “He can’t be anything other than a dog.” Ah, but we aren’t self-aware either, at least not while we are being human and inside the lie.

Again, simply put, we aren’t what we think we are.

The masks we wear are a ruse, a lie designed to make us believe that 1) the body/mind is real and to 2) hide what we really are.

You see if I can convince my real self that what I think the mask I’m wearing is the real me I can also convince myself that I am not you, and if I’m not you, then I must be all those stories about who I am that aren’t about you.

But who made up those stories?

Who indeed!

It’s like we’re all actors reading from a script. But it’s a script that we wrote ourselves– a fantasy that you and I forgot we wrote and think that the protagonist or hero character is actually who we are (the antagonist is also us but that’s another story).

So who’s the audience? I short, we are each others audience, we are also our own audience.

So right about now some of you are wondering how you can transcend, that is “get beyond”, the lie.

Simply put, you can’t. As a liar you can’t change anything. You can create a new lie (e.g. “I am a spirit experiencing a human being”) or write a new script (e.g. “I’m a loving, creative being”) but you can’t stop being a liar. You see it’s the liar that wants to transcend the lie, it’s the liar that wants change, but as a liar you can’t change anything.

Bottom line, when you’re not being who or what you really are nothing changes and when you are being who or what you really are nothing needs to change. What or who you really are is just fine the way it is, it’s only the liar that want’s change. Why? Because it wants to tell a better more convincing lie.

What you really are has always been and will still be when the script has finished.

 

images-1.jpg                             images.jpg

Gaia’s dream

 

17reb27pve3tcjpg.jpg
Starry Night Alex Ruiz

Not so long ago I wandered out to the front of the house one morning and looked up at the five am sky and saw the most beautiful site of the old crescent moon smiling down upon me. Standing awestruck for what seemed a very long time and moved nearly to tears I knew that I had to capture the vision in some meaningful way, so I ran back into the house and gathered my pen and journal and began to write…

 

Diamonds and glitter scattered across a Cheshire Cat moon in a sky not yet blue, but no longer black.

 Cold and a shiver I pull up my jacket, a night I remember so many lives back.

 As I lowered my gaze from the heavens to the world’s edgy line where dark silhouettes dawn,

 A glow of first light urged the Nightpainter to lay down her brush toward another day drawn.

 The Daypainter’s brush traced across mountain and valley and river and dale, warming all touched by this wondrous light.

 Revealing a pallet of a great artist’s canvas making the night’s mare but a half recalled fright.

 And out on the meadow full buttercupped and daisied, were beeflittered poppies all pretty and fine

 Life shivered and shook and began to dance crazy and then greeted me for the 10 billionth time.

 

Dreamwork

 

Dream journal.JPG
Author’s dream journal

Some time ago I met a couple of really serious Dreamers. One had collected nearly 17,000 dreams over the years, while the other sported maybe half that. My measly 3 to 3.5 thousand paled in comparison. What of course was interesting to me was how both have used their dreams to monitor not only their life and what was going on in it but also the progress, or lack thereof, they were making in their personal development. The way one of them described the process it was a little like having their own personal therapeutic secretary traveling around with them. Which would be even better from my perspective if the secretary were to write down the dreams as well–I hate doing that!

 

I’ve never been that focused in my own dream work in that I would often pick and choose which dreams I was going to spend the time interpreting, or even bothering to write down. I also, for the most part, treated most of my dreams as separate entities and only occasionally looked for themes over time, or themes relevant to some identified personal work.

Up to that moment I guess I had been more a dabbler in the personal therapeutic world of dreams what with spending more time assuaging my curiosity about my dreams and the part of myself that they pointed to and having long since decided that the persona I’d at one time was convinced I was, was not as interesting as what seemed to be hidden beneath it.

photo-30 copy 3.JPG
Example of a page from journal

Not that my persona was perfect and didn’t need work, mind you. Besides asking anyone who has ever met me for more than ten minutes, I’m pretty sure I could provide a list of personality material that could be worked on that would definitely make me more effective and if you asked my wife, easier to live with. And I have worked on some of it with varying degrees of success. But as my wife has said on occasion, she needs to ground me for I have a tendency to get lost in other realms of reality that more often than not interest me more than the reality I find myself in.

Though I struggle with being brought, sometimes kicking and flailing, into dealing with the world I’m in, things and people in my life that assist in this process, sometimes unwillingly, unconsciously, or unknowingly are held very dear. This is also the promise of following my dreams.

Dreams as portals to the divine

 

nexus.jpg

I’ve said this for quite some time that we are made up of divine stuff, though I’ll admit that I rarely experience the energy of this “source-being” save with one fairly consistent exception in my dreams.

In my dreams I often find myself square in the middle of my soul-self.

It has been my attention to my dreams that has partially awakened me from the sleep of my so-called waking world. Yes, we are asleep as we walk through our waking dream. The images of our every day are just as illusory as those of our sleeping dream though mostly we aren’t as yet lucid enough to notice.

Dreams are normal occurrences, we all have them whether we recall them or not, and if remembered and worked with appropriately they can provide an expanded way of perceiving. They are quite literally a way for the soul to speak to us and given how much of our life is spent giving the loud voice of our ego-self the podium of our existence it is one of a very limited number of portals into the divine.1

It’s one of the best ways of connecting us with our true self.

It’s only our ego-self, the self that we imagine us to be e.g. the self seen in the mirror either the one we stand before or that we see in the mirror of our mind, that thinks it can fulfill itself, its hopes, dreams, and desires. It’s the part of our nature that desperately wants to make a difference but no matter how much money is gained, or fame that is acquired, or number of degrees, awards, and recognitions bestowed upon us we never fully experience making a real difference not for any sustainable period of time at least .

Why is that? I’m not sure, but I think it’s because “making a difference” is an illusion created by the illusion of the ego-self; an illusion of an illusion if you will. While “asleep” all images are but illusions. While asleep in our every day we are out of touch with our soul, isn’t that so? Just look and see. Are you really in touch with your essence or just in touch with your mind’s image– your idea– of it? I’ll bet that if you are in touch with anything it is just your familial, societal or cultural images and hardly the authentic soul of yourself.

But when you are really in touch with your authentic self you become a magnet to your deepest desires and regardless of the outcomes of life, or how it looks to others, there is a profound, effortless, and deep quiet that you are in touch with and you are able to hear your intuitive voice and start to fulfill your innate potential.

“This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.

Life is no “brief candle” to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

George Bernard Shaw 

 

__________________________________________

1The other portals include art (in all its forms), meditation, and deep prayer and though controversial– psychedelics; actually entering these portals are facilitated by anything that suspends the chatter of the mind e.g. I have had this happen during a strenuous long distance run, as a consequence of extreme fatigue, and as a result of extended fasting.

More Barriers to love and the spirit within: The seeds of our own destruction

 

hidden-bully-behaviors.jpg

 

Not too long ago my wife and I presented a Cornerstone class on conflict resolution at our granddaughter’s elementary school. Project Cornerstone first came to the school district as an anti-bullying program. But over time the use, or over use, of the word “bully” to identify a certain type of behavior has hardened into a type of person rather than a type of behavior i.e. they “are” a bully instead of them “behaving” like one.

When “bully” becomes a label instead of a description of a behavior it leaves little room for the person displaying the behavior to change or even to defend themselves because the use of the word sets them in concrete. The label then becomes a way of excluding someone. Most of us do that with the word “evil”. Once we’ve hung that around someone’s neck they’re no longer a human and they are open to all kinds of abuse.

This isn’t unusual behavior on our part in that we humans often tend to paint each other with a broad paintbrush. It’s easier to do this and doesn’t require much higher-order thinking. This becomes especially noticeable when we are caught up in our fear of something that we don’t understand and begins to escalate radically as the more helpless and fearful we become.

Tribally we humans tend to reject outsiders and behaviors that we don’t understand and when those so-called outsiders seem to be of a particular tribe we tend to paint them all with one color. Even the best of us sometimes fall into this trap as when we condemn a race of people for the actions of some of that race or when we condemn an entire religious group for the horrific behaviors of a certain subgroup.

In recent years we have witnessed the horrific behaviors of a religious subgroup and have rightly labeled their actions as evil, but some people out of their own fear and ignorance have branded all of that religious group as being evil. This is of course a big mistake and totally unhelpful to the cause of peace and our ability to detect what it is that needs to be done to contain the evil behavior and how to lessen the number of those who fall prey to the lure of this subgroup.

While we hold people accountable for their behaviors and while we do what is necessary to end and/or contain the evil we must look at what conditions are enflaming and enabling it and do what is necessary to end those as well.

Yes, we need to fight this, but we need to fight it intelligently and not do it in a way that throws gasoline on the fire thus spreading its damage over a greater area. We need to respond to the presence and actions of evil and not just react.

Reacting is a “lizard brain” action where no thought is required just instinctive animal reactivity. God gave us so much more to work with that lies above the reactionary archaic brain stem and we need to resist the tendency to label everything we’re afraid of or don’t understand as being evil and thus subject to our wrath. We need to stop acting like a frightened snake striking whatever moves and more like the intelligent thinking sons and daughters of a loving God we are.

Simply put, we cannot push back the darkness of evil by simply pouring on more and more darkness– we need to add some light to it. WE (you and I) need to come up with some ways to 1) rein in our own lizard brains and 2) find ways to end the spread of evil and once accomplished deal appropriately with the root causes of it. To do anything else will only perpetuate the evil i.e. you can bloody the land with more killing and that may subdue the evil but only temporarily.

History is rife with lessons on how we humans take the wrong paths toward peace. That’s because we react out of fear instead of responding to it and using it as a motivator to change, a change necessary because we have failed to do what is needed to treat others with the respect we would want for ourselves.

Now, that is not to say that we can end all evil. There will always be those who have been sickened by their own minds and will seek solace from that pain by attempting to dominate and control those outside themselves as though it’s the outsider who causes their sickness. There will always be egos that want to feel bigger and more important and will attempt to subjugate the world around them.

Compassionate Containment may be what is wanted and needed in these cases at least until science can find a successful means of healing them. But each of us who are healthy has the means for controlling our own negative and reactive behaviors. We need to get serious about learning what those means are and start actualizing them.

We need to embrace the real meaning of enlightened civilization and grow beyond our reactive tribal mentality. Currently we seem hell-bent on sewing the seeds of our own destruction.

Barriers to love and the Spirit within

 

praise.jpg

Life is holy, but some people out of either ignorance of that fact or as a self-serving and malevolent expression choose to not treat it as such.

We can either enhance life or diminish it, extol it or denigrate it. What enhances life is love, given freely without strings or attachments. Everything else is just a barrier to achieving and experiencing wholeness everything else is just survival, though of course one needs to maintain the latter to express the former.

But when the survival mode dominates we can only limit ourselves i.e. we take and hoard, hold onto, close up and restrict. In love we give ourselves away and in so doing save ourselves. Survival mode comes from a personal context of insufficiency (there’s not enough) and vulnerability (life is fragile). Survival with no other purpose than to continue life is a form of death. The soul is not about survival but the full expression of who and what you are_ it is about wholeness.

This is what wholeness looks like: No limits, open, truly free i.e. to be unbound by your beliefs, your prejudices, judgments and self-protections.

When we are free of the barriers we put up in order to feel secure, when we can give of our life freely we are then said to be in “possession” of it i.e. it belongs to us and not to someone else’s ideal or belief or dictate or expectation for us. When dominated by our survival mode, or even to the degree by which we have allowed ourselves to be dominated by this mode of living, everything else possesses our life and we are not free to be what we are.

 

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

–Rumi

 

But to be what we are takes immense courage, “The courage to be” as Paul Tillich called it– it’s not about what you do or don’t do, it’s about who you are and expressing that regardless of the evaluation of others.

Your life is holy, everyone’s life is holy and the clannishness we’ve created in order to protect ourselves from seen and unseen dangers is killing us, it selfishly treats only a select few as being holy and only if those few adhere to the clan belief system. There will never be true freedom to “be” with this kind of limit on the expression of wholeness i.e. ‘holiness’.

 

“I am neither of the East nor of the West, no boundaries exist within my breast.”

–Rumi

 

Beliefs that teach that only certain humans behaving in certain prescribed ways are looked upon favorably by God attempt to build fences around the real God. But God cannot be fenced in and fences don’t enhance, they diminish. To denigrate the differences between us does not enhance the human spirit it is a barrier to it.

If you were to strip away the stories, the interpretive overlay, and dogma of every religion you will notice that virtually every spiritual leader, credited with starting a new way of thinking, a new way of being in relationship with each other and with the spirit that created us has done so out of knowing that the purpose of being human is to become whole and to express that wholeness freely and honestly. All have known that what we are is love and that we need to learn to express it more freely. Anything else is not love and it is not an expression of wholeness or the sacredness of each of us.

 

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”

–Rumi

 

Namaste…