Who are you?

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From the Book of Dreams– RJ Cole

An old man tired and at the end of a very long day lay his head upon a rock and soon fell fast asleep.

In his sleep the Other came to him and hovered quietly until noticed.

“Who are you?” the man asked.

“Who are you?” Was the reply in turn.

“Awake I am known as Robert. And you?”

“I am the same as you. In sleep I am what I am when awake.”

“What is your purpose here?” asked the old man.

“What is your purpose?” Asked the Other.

“I’m not sure. What is my purpose? I’ve searched my life over to find my purpose. Are you here to show me?”

“It’s not about searching for purpose, in that you cannot find it. Your purpose will find you. When it does you’ll be it.”

“How will I know when it’s found me?” asked the old man.

“When you’re being it.”

And he woke up.

 

 

Two more synchronistic events

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I tend to think that the world or the soul of the world– God, spirit, Gaia, is always talking to me through what events it puts before me. I call these events synchronicities– or as stated in the dictionary, “The simultaneous occurrence of causally unrelated events and the belief that the simultaneity has meaning beyond mere coincidence.”

Have you ever been thinking of someone you haven’t seen for quite a while and the phone rings and it’s them? How about a couple who have almost identical thoughts at the same time or when you’re looking for a thing to pry something and there on the ground is the perfect tool? That’s synchronicity.

Carl Jung called them “meaningful coincidences” i.e. some kind of spooky connecting principle and something that takes place in the field of energy that surrounds us all. He thought of life as having a deeper order and not just a jumble of random events and that we are imbedded in this deeper order. He suggested that sensitivity to this might be part of the process of awakening to this deeper aspect of the universe. Religious people might label these events as “grace”. This awareness might also show up in our dreams. If one were to imagine that we are always at some level “dreaming” then it is possible that some focused attention to both sides of our consciousness, awake and sleeping, might be useful to understanding what’s going on in this phenomenon called reality.

To this end I share the following two synchronistic events as an illustration.

 

1) One morning I walked into my favorite coffee shop wearing all blue and one of the Baristas playfully exclaimed, “It’s Blue Bob”. I then told her the story of a student I once met when volunteering some years back who had painted her face blue and wore a blue bob haircut. They laughed and at that very moment in walked a girl with blue hair cut in a Bob and everyone nodded at her to get my attention. Was this coincidence or a synchronistic event? I don’t know. The meaning? Who knows, but I am now programmed to notice how many things seem to be blue in my environment and the effect that the color has on me e.g. energizing.

 

 2) Today I’ve been worried about my rather passionate, and somewhat aggressive, response to a friend claiming that autism was caused by the vaccine given to children. Knowing that all studies claiming this have been unequivocally discredited and rejected I argued most loudly. Later feeling bad that I tried to bully his position into submission and yet still trying to support what I considered a reasoned position I wanted to apologize for my behavior, but how to do this without looking like I as weakening the position?

As I sat in the coffee shop I struggled with what I would say to my friend when a young boy perhaps 9 or 10 years old walked up to me and while making no eye contact he reached out and ran an index finger across the length of my mustache. Satisfied, he then walked off. “Must be autistic.” I thought to myself, which I confirmed later with his parent. What was he trying to tell me? Was it that it was all right to have been upset with the person I’d been talking to about the causes of Autism and that my approach of apologizing for my type of behavior without apologizing for what I was defending would work out? When I later approached my friend I shared my apology and then calmly reinforced my position through reason at which my friend said that he understood and took no offense to my earlier behavior. He said that I had given him something to think about.

 

Enough said?

 

“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”

Through the Looking-Glass– Lewis Carroll

The feminine soul comes to me through my sleeping dream bringing with her the secret alchemy of wholeness

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Traditionally it is thought that the soul of a woman is masculine and the soul of a man is feminine and that it is this interesting opposition that is trying to be reconciled through our dreams and relationships.

 

Seeking I am lead to a place from which I cannot return.

 I am reminded that I am but a visitor here from a place I never left.

 

 She came to me by dream urging me toward distant hills.

 She opened me that I may give birth to the creative.

 Though I sought comfort in ideas, she led me to the song of my heart.

 

 My desire for her is but her desire for me.

 I draw her unto me as she draws me unto her.

 I dream her with every breath

 as she is the breath that dreams me.

–RJ Cole 2017

 

Who is the ‘she’ of whom I speak? She is my soul who animates me– the spirit guide who comes to me as a means of bringing balance to the archetypal dueling forces of the masculine and feminine within me. She came to me in a dream to help my conscious self unite with my spiritual self and invite me to leave the diversions of both my adult and childhood selves behind and scale the mountains beyond where my true self lay. She is the connection with my soul that I yearn for.

The Dark Matter and energy of the universe

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I was reading an article on Dark Matter the other evening. This is the hypothetical matter that many astrophysicists believe may account for the majority of the total mass of the universe. It’s the matter that seems to be missing when we add up all the mass that we can see and deduce. They suggest that we can’t see it, but it’s there! It is in all of us, just as are the physical building blocks of the galaxies.

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Physicists also suggest that this matter is not like the matter we see, that it is comprised of something quite different than the usual protons and electrons whose conglomerates we see in the stars and our everyday world.

As I read I was reminded that the “dark matter” of the mind is what is known as the unconscious and that the unconscious as it is expressed in our dreams, visions, musings, and meditations is also not ordinary in form–it doesn’t seem to be cohesive or linear, appearing fragmented and unwilling to follow the conscious world’s physics i.e. it defies, or functions in opposition to, the physical realities of the waking world.

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The unconscious is a realm of all manner of magic where one can render objects to do any bidding without fear of failure e.g. where the dead can be resurrected, and we can breathe underwater, fly, and cause all manner of levitation. In the mind beneath our consciousness time itself can be without either cause or effect, be non-sequential, and even run in reverse. People and animals become interchangeable and often morph into one another.

In the waking world, this world at the bottom of Alice’s rabbit hole would seem irrational and chaotic and yet there’s just a hint of common sense that can lead us to make greater sense of the waking world at the top of the hole.

The dream world is I believe very much like the so-called Dark Matter that makes up most of the universe. Is it a coincidence that both the unconscious mind and dark matter account for approximately 70- 95% + of their respective totals e.g. for the total psyche* or the total physical universe?

 

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All of our myths, creation stories, fiction, poetry, art, and wondrous inventions are allegories of the observable universe. Anything that we find within ourselves may only reflect what is found in nature.

In the Hermetic  tradition of the druids, and Wiccans, there is a saying, “As above, so below”– that which is below corresponds to that which is above**. In this case the ‘above’ is represented by all that is conscious and seen while the ‘below’ is manifest in the unconscious or unseen. It would seem that both the physical and mental realities follow this dictum as well.

It also appears that there is movement toward bringing seeming opposites together to form a whole e.g. visible and dark matter, the conscious and unconscious mind. Both the physics world and the world of human psychology are working toward a Grand Unified Model of reality. Researchers such as James Hillman, Carl Jung, and other Depth Psychologists might also suggest that that’s what all humans are doing i.e. developing toward a unified whole–a process known as Individuation–the recognition of differences and then their reconciliation toward being fully human.

Like with Dark Matter, whether you know of it, or see it, the unconscious is there and a part of you.

 

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

 –T. S. Eliot

 

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*The psyche is the individual’s perceived and perceivable universe and is comprised of both the conscious and unconscious.

**From the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus. It’s also preceded by a Vedic philosophy. The Hermetic philosophy portrays God as a transcendent God i.e. absolute in which we all participate.

A love poem: I dream of Lithia.

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I’m spending a little time in one of my favorite little towns in Southern Oregon when this dream poem came to me.

 

A breeze extends its wings across the pond. A harlequin cloth spreads accross a palette of greens and yellows.

The wake of malards smears the trees bending in reflection upon the darkening pool. Sounds of water and restless leaves whisper in my ear as the sun sets gold and the air stills before the night.

The scent of deepening darkness wraps itself about me as a musk settles and I’m cloaked in her shadowed embrace.

Capturing the divinity in everyday things

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The mystical is not so lofty as we make it out to be. Standing before a multicolored canyon at sunrise, or above a misting forest or wooded trail, staring at the fog rolling in across the hills and into a valley, the crash of waves upon the shore, the first cry of a baby’s borning, a rose in full bloom, falling in love, a piece of music that stirs the soul sending waves of joy throughout your body, the sight of a feast after the fast, middle schoolers swarming the local coffee shop at the end of their day, swarms of birds dancing to the setting sun, or a deceased loved one visiting a dream are all common mystical experiences that speak clearly about the divine in the everything of the everyday.

These moments are sacred and point to the infinite being that we are. When connected with the whole of the every day we are never alone, never lost, or confused. When standing in the moment we are in a religion of our own and open to all that there is and the imagination soars set free from the petty restrictions of the ego.

It is at those times of the common mystical that we can sink down into our deeper self and find our true being. We cannot define the experience but when it happens we know that we have transcended the ordinary and connected with something much bigger, much grander than our limited selves.

The mystical is not limited to visions and dreams. Look for the common experiences of the mystical in every facet of your life. They’re there and will make themselves known if you open your mind and heart to them.

Embodied Cognition: The enlivened Dream

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Not too long ago I was reading an article in the Jan/Feb 2011 Scientific American Mind Magazine. The subject was how body movements and fleeting sensations affect our thinking. This is called “Embodied Cognition.” It reminded me how when I used to give seminars and workshops in the 70’s and 80’s I used to always wear a light colored pastel sweater with audiences that I thought might be resistant, or even hostile to my message. My own research, though narrow, seemed to reinforce the calming and trust inducing effect this had on the audience. Mr. Rogers and his blue cardigan seemed to have it right.

In the article, researchers at Yale University found that rough textures in the environment tend to make social interactions go roughly and that while touching hard/cold objects in the environment would affect the perception of rigidity. The article implied that drinking something warm on a first meeting between people would increase the feeling of warmth toward each other vs. the drinking of something cold.

Physicality has always played an important role on our perceptions and our learning. Educators have known for years that children learn their letters and words easier when they use large arm movements to ‘draw’ the letter, or word in the air.

Using “manipulatives” while learning math principles has also proven effective in elementary learning situations. Adults build models of chemical reactions to extend their learning and to enhance the discovery process.

We also know that simulating an action while reading a story increases the comprehension of that story. This concept is one of the generating principles behind the effectiveness of Gestalt therapy and Active Imagining, both of which I’ve mentioned in earlier Blogs. Mentally simulating body movements has been a technique to help embody a routine in gymnastics or on the field of various sporting activities. When I was in community theater the director would have us go through all our movements mentally before the play so as to help build the action into the body’s memory.

Re-embodying a dream after you have awakened by selecting a prominent image from the dream and bringing it back into the imagination while quietly meditating can allow one to interact with the image and gain greater insight as to why it has visited the dream.

The embodied cognition effect also shows up when you journal a dream. The mere act of writing a dream down immediately after waking stimulates and reinforces the recall of that dream and in many cases the recall of many subsequent dreams.

Causes of world unrest: Thinking that only your point-of-view is the right one.

 

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There seems to be so much unrest in the world and intolerance of each others points-of-interest appears to be at an all time high.

Some of my dreams express my own intolerance, points-of-view, and how resistant I can be sometimes to those points-of-view that don’t agree with mine (of course there is a remote possibility that I’m right).

First a few definitions might be in order before we dive into the factors that may be energizing the world’s current unrest.

Self-questioning

noun

  1. examination of one’s own actions and motives, self-contemplation, self-examination, self-questioning, self-reflection, soul-searching.

Intolerance

noun

  1. unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own. “a struggle against religious intolerance” Bigotry, narrow-mindedness, prejudice, bias, partiality, inequality, partisan

Literalism:

noun

  1. adherence to the explicit substance of an idea or expression. Adherence to the exact letter or the literal sense, as in translation or interpretation: as in biblical or religious literalism.

 

Intolerance leads to contraction (vs. growth), insularity (vs. openness), imbalance (unbalanced point-of-view, unbalanced behavior, psychological disturbance) and death. Basically, the soul embraces diversity and the ego does not.

Literalism can cause intolerance and intolerance can sustain literalism and that cuts off any further development and over time leads to a diversion from reality. When this diversion becomes too severe it becomes a psychosis, defined loosely as an “abnormal condition of the soul” characterized by a loss of contact with reality and exhibiting thought disorder. Some who show psychotic behavior exhibit an extraordinary belief in something that just isn’t true, that the facts will not support e.g. women are weak, men are strong therefor men must control and protect women for their own good.

What usually keeps a false belief (or bias) in place is that the mind that has it has been conditioned to not explore the truth or inner motivations and causations behind the belief. Literalism, again, trumps inner or outer questioning and the false belief remains entrenched. Anyone who begins to question thus becomes a danger to the prevailing dogma and has to be either brought back into the system or expunged from it. Many extremists and militants can be said to exhibit delusional qualities even though they themselves can’t recognize it.

So who’s reality are we talking about? Is the mystic psychotic? Is the fundamentalist psychotic? Is the zealot psychotic? How delusional does one have to be to qualify and when does the imbalance become a danger to themselves and/or others? Usually one needs to exhibit the symptoms over an extended period of time and to a great degree. When the delusions take on paranoid qualities and the person begins to act on or against them they can be injurious to others as well as themselves.

Some people experience momentary breaks with material reality when going through an epiphany or have been under prolonged stress or deprivation while some show only mild forms of delusion due to environmental and cultural influences. These don’t usually trigger the diagnosis of psychosis.

Some of the symptoms of psychoses, especially that of delusions, seem to reflect in those having a mystical experience. However, these are temporary. There’s a shift in awareness that persists over time but the disconnect from reality that the psychotic experiences is only temporary in the mystic. The mystic learns to work with the reality of the everyday through the shifted point-of-view whereas a person with psychosis becomes broadly, if not permanently if no intervention is available, delusional and unable to reliably work with reality in a balanced way.

Also under the right circumstances the psychosis of a few can generate a contagious reaction amongst the many and is usually reinforced and maintained through external psychological and sociocultural influences e.g. religious interpretation, regional cultural beliefs.

As I’ve suggested before reality is an expression of our level of consciousness, what we see is a reflection of our inner development or lack thereof i.e. if you only perceive variations of negative, guess where that’s coming from? And until we come to grips with that realization reality will run us ragged with fears and hatreds and resentments and harden our hearts and minds.

Essentially reality will support our level of development e.g. if we are prejudiced, intolerant, fearful and exclusive, the universe, aka reality, will present us with all kinds of experiences along these lines. In other words, if we say “fuck you” to the world the world will return it in kind– put out negative energy and that’s what you’ll get in return– often the energy is not out there it is within yourself. Without self-examination one is doomed to frequent failure (not total failure because even a broken clock is right twice a day).

 

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

–Socrates

 

Socrates’ statement here might be a little over the top. But he was suggesting that each of us in order to be fully human need to be self-examining otherwise we don’t rise above the level of the animals. I wouldn’t suggest that those who don’t internally question life shouldn’t continue to live or aren’t worth as much as might be implied by such a statement as Socrates’.

But life becomes so much richer and so much less fearful when one examines life while they’re living it. Being free to question life liberates the soul and keeps people balanced while an unexamined and unquestioned life restricts a person’s soul and creates imbalance. As I said at the beginning of this post, “The soul embraces diversity the ego does not.“ Another way of saying that is what rejects diversity is not of the soul, not of the divine that is boundless, but of the small bound-up “skin encapsulated ego” *.

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* A phrase attributed to Alan Watts (theologian and philosopher– 1915 to 1973, though some might say he was an Eastern Mystic in an Englishman’s body). I am suggesting that this socially conditioned “skin encapsulated ego” is the ultimate definition of separateness e.g. what is ‘me’ and what is ‘not me’ and is therefore the foundation for all exclusion, prejudice, intolerance, fear and bigotry.

 

 

Consciousness. What is it?

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“There is an Indian fable of three beings who drank from a river: one was a god, and he drank ambrosia; one was a man, and he drank water; and one was a demon, and he drank filth. What you get is a function of your own consciousness.” 



                     –Joseph Campbell, Myths of Light,  “The Jiva’s Journey,” p. 46

 

Of what do psychologists and philosophers speak when they invoke the word “Consciousness?”

At a rudimentary psychological level some define it as “awareness,” that is further defined as knowledge gained through personal perception, the recognition of something felt—that is ‘sensed.’

In the above quote from Joseph Campbell there seems to be another layer implied e.g. something residing between what is perceived and what is processed. In short, something is acting upon the information coming into the individual that affects the processing of it—a filter if you will.

Filters, we all have them–they are our judgments, biases, expectations, beliefs, philosophies, values, experiences and memories. Whether this material resides in our conscious mind or in the shadows  of our unconscious, these things affect our level of consciousness, self-awareness, and our level of alertness to reality if you will.

At a deeper, and more spiritual, level consciousness has been defined as the “Knower” or the “Observer”–something that observes itself, its feelings and its thoughts, the ground-state of our being. It is, some say, what you experience when you have quieted the mind from its incessant chatter. Others say it is what the chatter is being directed toward e.g. what is listening when you talk to yourself.

At first glance this consciousness, this knower, appears to be located somewhere alongside our mind that is the ego-thing that’s doing all the chattering. But is it? How do we explain the phenomena of distance viewing, or distant communication as when you’re thinking of cousin Harry whom you’ve not heard from in ages and the phone rings?

There’s a great deal of research that’s been done (some funded through DARPA) looking into the reality of distant viewing and finding it to be real under certain conditions. Some people can instantly ‘see’ things that are happening miles away (The Russians just love this stuff!).

Some physicists (e.g. Fred Allan Wolfe and Gary Zukav) have played around with the ground-state, or ‘universal field’, idea of consciousness as well as the concept of remote connectedness that is implied by remote viewing and have made some tentative conclusions that consciousness is independent of the sentient creatures it seems to inhabit–so much so that it exists eternally, or at least since the Big Bang.

It seems that to the degree to which a person can cleanse their perception-filters and thus get a clearer perception of reality this also affects their ability to connect with this level of consciousness. It may even be this consciousness that makes it possible to see things beyond ones temporal and physical location.

Certainly it would at least make it possible to see outside ones bias, the bias that believes there is no bias, so as to transcend the waking fantasy world dream that the vast majority of us humans think of as reality.

Beginning work with consciousness

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Found on: Eddie Calz @ Deviantart

 

Beginning work with consciousness, dreams, or shadow work can often produce a disturbance in ones reality. Many people who aren’t ready for it just say it’s utter nonsense and refuse to even take a look. Looking into that part of oneself that is largely unconscious can be disconcerting, confusing, and sometimes frightening. It’s not something to be entered in on lightly because the journey will take you to places you didn’t even know were there and this will over time transform your life–it will literally shift your reality.

Because of my fascination with mirrors and the perspective on reality that they present, I have a device that I purchased some time ago called a Pseudoscope. When looking through it what is seen shifts with the right eye seeing what the left should and vice versa. In this way the background becomes the foreground, convex becomes concave and the brain begins to fight with the senses for a new reality and creating an uncomfortable disturbance. Typically the brain tries to suppress the new reality, the new interpretation of space that is revealed.

This has become my waking life metaphor for what can happen when exploring a new reality as it is revealed through the interpretation of dreams, meditation images, and mindful awareness.

Most people will make the shift and find that it enhances their experience of the world, but a few will experience great difficulty, especially those who have habitually resisted new input in their lives.

As with anything that you want to master, “practice makes perfect” or at least it makes you better at it. Many people who start to explore the usefulness of dreams find that they begin to remember more dreams. As one develops a greater understanding of symbols and metaphor they also begin to see the world as a much richer experience than they ever thought possible. As one expands their awareness input beyond the basic five senses a broadening transformation happens, subtle at first, but growing as one develops greater skill.

And transformation is an interesting phenomenon in that when it happens it spreads not only within the present moment but both forwards and backwards through time so that former understandings seem almost quaint in retrospect and are understood differently. This of course effects not only the present, but also the future relationship with reality as well.

In the novel, The Archipelago of Dreams* Robert experiences this transformation and expanded awareness and in the How-To book, The Dragon’s Treasure* one can learn the particulars of the transformation process.

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*See Books by Author in right hand column