What is wholeness?

th copy 23.jpeg
From Gaia Orion

I’ve often used the word “wholeness” in many of my posts as a word for an aspiration or a core being. So what does “wholeness” look like? Simple answer, I don’t know.

I am a container of many aspects, some in conflict and opposition and some in various stages of cooperation. But are they unified? No, it’s all a turbulent jumble barely contained and both creating and destroying. It’s the universe within me doing the same thing as the universe without– a panoply of things creating one another through their existence but is it unified? Perhaps all together in their continuous interaction they are the whole.

Or “wholeness” is not something that my separated and individual self can comprehend because I as an individual’s ground of being is rooted in separation. I cannot see it, understand it, comprehend it, or imagine it because I am using a tool not designed for it. In short, I’m using a “thing” to comprehend a “non thing”. I cannot imagine it from this perspective, from the perspective of the intellect, from the individual ego-self.

It may require a “meta-intellect” a non-objectified or subjective experience, something beyond the physical that’s without description, without words, and without a language. It may reside somewhere within the realm of metaphor and symbol, in images, or in color or sound. It may exist in the silent areas between my thoughts. I may be expressing the ‘whole’ all the time without being aware of it because I am only gifted in seeing its separated parts.

Carl Jung thought of wholeness as something one strived for psychically, a place in the very center of our being. He often likened it to a circular mandala of layered or spiraling aspects toward something called the ‘Self’ as differentiated from the ego i.e., the made up personal persona. He called these circular drawings a God image. But that still doesn’t satisfy my thirst.

Sometimes when a Great Understanding, one without words or images, bursts forth from some unknown place seeming to simultaneously be coming from within and without, I get it, but then I try to run it through the machinery of my mind in order to understand and it melts away. I think that’s because the “wholeness” is not of the mind but of the “something else”– the God that may live within.

I’ve had an interesting week of synchronicity where a meditation prayer for guidance seemed to be answered by an unsolicited email from a stranger from a far off land, a dream, an unsolicited and shared vision and a sermon on spiritual breakthrough. All seemingly lead me toward a new experience of an old awareness, one that I’ve believed to be true for a long time but until now had never actually experienced as being true.

For me “belief” is an imagining that is not necessarily grounded in fact but in faith, something that has never been very easy to accept or hold on to and as such not very satisfying and easily lost or strained. An experience, however, is grounded in the reality of the moment as witnessed by the observer– more fact than faith, more real and for me, more satisfying, sort of a ledge to stand on while looking out across the abyss.

Can one experience the ineffable? I would say yes. Can I tell you about it in such a way that you can experience it too? I would say no. Because it’s so subjective I’m not even sure that I can tell you how to get to your own experience of the ineffable.

What I can say about it is that it comes when it does and when it wants to. You can’t force it or engineer it. But you can learn to get out of the way that is, to get your ego-self out of the way so that you’ll be open to it when and if it arrives. And that was the point of the Dark knight of the Soul posting of December 2017 entitled “Real Magic” and the story of the Magician beginning on Jan 11, 2017.

Who is dreaming?

 

dream-quotes-about-life.jpg

 

Wise men and women have for millennia wondered if what we have assumed was objective reality was only a dream.

Edgar Allen Poe who once queried, “Is life but a dream within a dream?” What a curious question! Is he questioning whether we can distinguish between what is fantasy or reality? Isn’t this inability to distinguish fantasy from reality part of the very definition of what is considered magical thinking and a component of an obsessive-compulsive thinking disorder?

As I looked into this question I found that the Australian Aborigine thinks that we are continuously within a dream that creates what we call reality.

“I do not believe that I am now dreaming, but I cannot prove that I am not.” Exclaimed the 20th century philosopher Bertrand Russell.

The Toltecs believed that we are the dream of God. They suggested that God is dreaming the world into existence. This seems very much like the Australian Aboriginal world-view and not too different in essence to the book of Genesis.

But what happens when God awakens from the dream?

A Taoist philosopher, Chuang Tzu, Relates that he had a dream of being a butterfly and when he awoke he asks whether he was Chuang Tzu dreaming he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Tzu?

He went on to say,

“Someday comes the great awakening when we realize that this life is no more than a dream. Yet the foolish go on thinking they are awake: Surveying the panorama of life with such clarity, they call this one a prince and that one a peasant—What delusion! The great Confucius and you are both a dream. And I, who say all this is a dream, I, too, am a dream.”

 So which is the illusion, the sleeping dream or my waking life? And where does truth lie, in the every day or in the fantasies of my dreams?

The psychotherapist Carl Jung posited the idea of complexes i.e., a core pattern of emotions, images and ideas that influence everything we see or think or feel. Along with these mostly unrecognized complexes there are also ancient archetypes we all share and that are mostly unseen factors that determine our vision of reality as well as our responses to it. These psychic features of human beings show up in both our sleeping dreams and the waking dream we call life.

Many scientists, philosophers, and cosmologists wonder if what we see around us may not actually exist. What we are seeing may only be projections from our psyches. That’s not to say that there is not an object out there to be perceived, but that our relationship to and understanding of it is subjective. The philosopher Schopenhauer stated that there could be “No object without subject.”

 

“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.

When I am dreaming, who is creating the dream and who is observing it? When I talk to myself who is listening? And what about the dreams where I am dreaming that I dream of seeing myself? Is there more than one “I” in there? How many?

Are our dreams like a book that our soul is writing about us? Am I really awake when I climb out of bed and into the waiting day? Is it as Jung once quipped, “Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakens.”

 

“The awakening of consciousness is the next step for mankind.”

–Eckhart Tolle

Epic tales, epic symbolism

 

battle_between_good_and_evil_by_robertadelman-d3hn62c.jpg
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.

 

quote-we-cannot-change-anything-until-we-accept-it-condemnation-does-not-liberate-it-oppresses-carl-jung-97841.jpg