So what gets between us and our divinity? There are consequences for letting fear run our lives.

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In today’s news media we hear about all kinds of mayhem i.e. murder, war, oppression, financial meltdown, high unemployment, ethnic strife, and extreme political partisanship. I’ve also noticed that the more I read, the more anxious and fearful I become and I grow more defensive.

What, I wondered, was causing the seemingly escalating chaos? Could it be something as simple as unchecked fear and was this fear then feeding upon itself? As human beings attempt to deal with their fears, they show up as images in their dreams that sometimes morph into dark and frightening chimera–nightmares. In the Archipelago of Dreams Robert is constantly reacting to his fears and doesn’t know how to effectively deal with them as they come fast and furious and threaten to overwhelm him.

Alas, our typical human response for dealing with that which scares us is to shove it down into the hidden realms of our subconscious mind. In the short run this seems to work and allows us to get through yet another day, but over the long haul the fears become too large to hide and too difficult to manage and we begin to function through our fears as though they were real.

When people operate out of fear their ability to see reality becomes compromised–everything becomes a threat. For those who live in fear, defense–self-protection–becomes the overriding theme of their lives. This posture then fuels their response to their medical needs, leadership, virtually every aspect of public safety, and sometimes even dictates what foods are eaten.

Fear comes from thinking that you are vulnerable to your circumstances and to the events of your life. It is spawned from the animal part of us that reacts instinctively and without thought–the little archaic lizard, or reptilian, brain that hides at the base of the skull. In humans it is incorporated into the ego-self, a construct that imagines itself to be small and isolated and thus vulnerable to the world. The reality is anything but–we are immensely bigger than our image of ourselves.

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However, in a world where the inhabitants are blind to their reality, they build walls around themselves and “things” become important to their defense. How many things and of what kind becomes a preoccupation. As the inhabitants strive to gather more and more things so as to feel safe and secure they themselves become a thing as well and separate themselves even further from each other. And the separation results in each person exploiting the others for what they think will be their personal gain–what they think will quiet the fear.

When you are separated and alone you begin to feel vulnerable and helpless and the fear grows. It is out of that fear that dictators are born, that institutional and religious dogma is created to control the hoards of unpredictable “others,” and where people create points-of-view designed to protect their selves against what is not them. What was born powerful becomes fragile.

In The Archipelago of Dreams Robert leaves behind the fragile ego of his being world and discovers that he is something much more than he ever dreamed of. As he confronts the real cause of his fears, an awareness grows regarding the cost of self-protection–greed, pride, usury, hate, anger, lust, envy, and the ubiquitous self-righteous points-of-view and all of this resulting in overwhelming disruption in both the personal and collective order. The land is raped of its abundant resources and people become objects toward self-centered ends as the bankers, moneylenders, merchants and political leaders use them for their personal lust for safety.

Eventually the scale that is the world tips too far and everything slides off leaving bankrupt institutions and philosophies, wars, political gridlock, and oppression. And the people rail, and wail, and blame, and build their walls even higher. The walls become so high and fortified that the people lose sight of the soul of the world, what the great American Psychologist, James Hillman called the Anima Mundi, and their own soul as well.

It is from this dysfunctional world that Robert comes to the bigger world of the Spirit that we all come from and will all return to. It is in this world that Robert has been tasked to aid in the reconciliation that must take place within a human being in order for mankind to reunite with his soul and his bigger Self, his Spirit Self.

We were meant to be the light of the world and yet we embraced much too much of the shadow. Robert must find a way to reconnect his lost self, our lost selves. But as he learns all too quickly, this will not be easy and much evil conspires to maintain the status quo and to protect the separation. He had to find something within him that he was sure didn’t exist, and he had to find it fast because time was not a friend there, and it didn’t flow in only one direction.

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.

 

 

Imbalance, dissociation, polarization, discontinuity and fear: What I learned in the archipelago of my dreams.

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The Archipelago of Dreams

 

At one level this article may look like a political statement, but it is not in that vein that I present it. All social animals e.g. Wolves, Apes, bees, ants, porpoise, human beings, etc. have some kind of cohesive principle, some kind of leadership, or coordinating system. In large social systems anarchy just doesn’t work. Scientists have even found this principle at the molecular level–most of us would not be able to survive for very long if our internal systems didn’t have a coordinating system and/or if the system were to become polarized and its parts weren’t willing to cooperate with each other.

From the very beginning of recorded western thought philosophers like Heraclitus and Hippocrates believed that there was “one common flow, a common breathing. Everything is in sympathy. The whole organism and each one of its parts are working together for the same purpose.” The Roman scholar, Agrippa spoke of an essence beyond the four known in his day as water, earth, air and fire and that it held existence together. He called it the World Soul. A more modern thinker, Carl Jung, called it the Anima Mundi. It was the glue that kept existence together, the balancing effect that kept everything on an even keel and in balance.

In The Archipelago of Dreams Robert discovers that the balance that keeps the world functioning has been dangerously tipped and that he has been conscripted to help in bringing the world back to equilibrium. But his own fears and the fears of others muster powerful physical and psychological forces to prevent him in achieving his mission. These same forces are acting on all of us on a daily basis and at an intensity that endangers the fabric of human life.

I’ve said this before; fear affects decision-making, what I haven’t said is that it kills as well. It not only kills innovation, but the body also. When there is a threat to the body the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA) kicks in and all systems are diverted from growth and development to reaction defense mode–fight or flight. Adrenalin pours into the system and mobilizes the body for action. The immune system is repressed because right now the external world poses a greater threat than the inner and the forebrain, the center for reasoning and logic, is slowed–no time for thinking, gotta act. Vascular flow is limited to the limbs, for running or fighting and conscious volitional action is curtailed, better to let the instincts take over.

Now under normal circumstances this state of affairs only lasts for a few minutes at best, just enough to survive an attack. And thank goodness, because the body begins to deteriorate after awhile when on high alert. The HPA is an excellent system for responding to immediate threat, but it was not designed to be activated continuously. Hyper vigilance eventually dissociates the body from the mind and the community from its leadership.

This kind of hyper-vigilance eventually wreaks havoc on the health of the body. When the immune system is suppressed all kinds of viral and bacterial bad guys can attack and take over–while focusing too much on external safety a fifth column of micro-nasties compromise your health. When the body is reflecting on the external too much it neglects the internal and is thrown precariously off balance.

In our society fear, or its smaller cousin, anxiety, has at some level become de rigor, the emotion trend du jour and we find ourselves constantly on alert. Since 9/11 we have entered a continuous state of protection and our quality of life has become impaired. A constant background state of fear (exploited politically) keeps the HPA system activated and our lives become more reactionary than thoughtful–you can’t think straight when emotionally involved. After a while the body habituates and it sees fear, or something to fear, everywhere. One of the first things to happen under these conditions is that we lose tolerance for anything that is different, because “different” often translates to something threatening.

Lack of tolerance leads to an impaired ability to cooperate for it might be ‘every man for himself.’ We see this intolerance and lack of cooperation in many social contexts, but most notably within our political systems that really only reflect ourselves. In an environment of fear reactionary opinion trumps reality and the rational takes a back seat to self-protective beliefs­­–clear thinking becomes a victim and the society begins to dissociate which is a fancy psychologists word for separating from one another–to disunite. Nothing can be more debilitating for a community whether it be a community of biological cells, animals, insects, a business corporation, or people in general.

Continuous fear consumes our energy toward getting our needs met as well. We seem to live in a constant state of being out of control of our destiny and as we throw up more walls and fences to keep out what threatens us we begin to lose independence, autonomy and ultimately our ability to enact free will. On an individual level we become sick and vulnerable to diseases or just a lack of focused attention that can affect us creatively. On a national level we see our ability to innovatively compete globally impaired, and on a global level the reaction to our inability to get our needs met can be seen in the Arab Spring, and the protests in Greece, Russia and the United States. The “Year of the Protest” may very well be a correction toward the extremes perpetrated by those in power. Would that these powers could see that it is in their best interest as well to let this correction take its course. In the short run things may look scary, but healing isn’t always pretty–sometimes you have to scrape the scab to let what is underneath it “breathe.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt said after the last great attack against our country that, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself!” Truer words have never been spoken, fear can kill us–it can destroy the genius of the country and sicken its society. The very essence of the World Soul is in jeopardy because it has become every man for himself as we belittle the efforts of our leaders and refuse to listen to each other. The scale that keeps the world in equilibrium is way off center. It is imperative that we rediscover our balance–a center of being from which we can manifest our broader, deeper, truer nature!

In the Archipelago of Dreams Robert learns what needs to be healed in order to bring humanity into equilibrium and in the process learns how to heal himself as well.

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

 

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Some of my dreams express my own intolerances, points-of-view, and how resistant I can be sometimes to those points-of-view that don’t agree with mine.

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 socio-cultural 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” *.

______________________________

* 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 therefor the foundation for all exclusion, prejudice, intolerance, fear and bigotry.

 

 

Fear breeds Bigotry and Bullying

 

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As most of you know I tend to not take sides on issues but recent events I believe require some kind of response.

Only a few months ago certain members of the GOP presidential candidates made some of the most intolerable statements that have made it clear to me how dangerous and unqualified they are to lead a great land of great people.

Bigotry is like a dark cloud cloaking the land and seeping into every crack in our national being. It is the very real manifestation of the damage unchecked fear can cause.

 

By definition this word breaks as the following:

1.Narrow or weak-mindedness, bias, discrimination.

2.noun, plural

3.stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.

Weak mindedness and narrow thinking suggests an inability to make rational observations and decisions. Lazy minds create ignorance and bigotry as does fear and radicalized belief systems. When Donald Trump says in effect, “shut out all Muslims” he is of course acting like a bigot and a bully but he is also reflecting a very strong undercurrent of bigotry and narrow thinking in certain segments of white America.

When GOP candidate Donald Trump makes his prejudiced remarks about other people, races, women, or religions he’s showing evidence of some very serious Cognitive distortions:

Absolutism: an All or nothing thinking process. Most things in this world are gray.

Overgeneralization and labeling: leaves no room for reality

Mental filtering: Focusing only on one aspect of a multi-aspect reality.

Jumping to conclusions: usually based on no evidence other than feeling or prejudice.

Magnification: Exaggeration and focusing only on worst outcome scenarios.

He is also doing extreme violence to everything America says it stands for. He is making us look like hypocrites and eroding our standing as the world’s most effective and open Democracy. We who disagree with his way of being must be wiling to show the world in the most positive way that he and his kind do not alone represent who we are.

 We are heartfelt people who are not gun wielding cowboys who shoot from the hip and shoot off our mouths without thinking and even though we defend his right to shoot his mouth off we are not in support of either his words or his way of thinking. We are more than that. We are bigger than that. We need to stand up to bullies and stand up for those who are being bullied. Enough is enough!

 As human beings we are so much more than what this segment of any society represents. But to make this an everyday reality we each need to stand up for this better way of being.

 Demographically I am white America and I am of an older generation, I served my country as a Marine in Vietnam and until five years ago was a registered Republican and I won’t tolerate the extremism of a Donald Trump and his supporters. I am more than that.

 Fundamentally my country is an inclusive country, my country is a tolerant country, my country is a loving country and I intend to stand up to any of the world’s bullies whether they be home grown or from foreign lands.

 

The violence of the fearful mind

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I awoke one morning not too long ago to an off screen gunman shooting an automatic weapon causing all the people in the dream to drop to their bloody deaths. What kind of dream is this? I thought and then saw it as an allegory for the troubled world.

One needs only look around to see that the world is becoming more and more polarized and intolerant even when it’s abundantly clear that the intolerance doesn’t provide any greater safety, if anything it creates even less.

I spent the good part of an hour digging up what others had to say about the plague of intolerance and  present a few of my favorite ideas here.

 

Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.

Mahatma Gandhi

 There is no religion that was founded on intolerance – and no religion that does not value the sanctity of human life.

Mohamed ElBaradei

 Military dictatorship is born from the power of the gun, and so it undermines the concept of the rule of law and gives birth to a culture of might, a culture of weapons, violence and intolerance.

Benazir Bhutto

 Defeating racism, tribalism, intolerance and all forms of discrimination will liberate us all, victim and perpetrator alike.

Ban Ki-moon

 For Rumi, the 13th century poet intolerance is the absence of love and one cannot truly experience love unless he gives it to others.

I think that intolerance is also a form of bullying, it’s exclusionary and selects people out to be “less than” for no other reason than they are different or think and believe differently. It may have been part of a survival strategy when we were all running around in animal skins and huddled together in dark caves throwing stones and sharpened sticks at anything that was not of the family, or not of the tribe, but in the modern world where we all literally depend on one another in order to shelter and feed ourselves it’s archaic and self-defeating.

We cannot hide in the relative safety of the clan anymore in that it’s no longer a viable survival strategy. We truly need each other now and to ban something or someone merely because they’re different or have different ideas or beliefs is stone-age thinking.

One cannot hide from what is scary either by ignoring it or by trying to kill it. Ultimately we have to learn to live with our fears. We can’t kill everything that isn’t us– eventually we will turn the gun on ourselves. It’s a very simple rule that to live by the gun is to die by the gun and that violence only begets more violence. Look for yourself, is that not so?

All of it is of the ego and as such does not know love– it knows hate and fear, self-interest, and exclusion but shakes at the thought of love and inclusion for to love is to be vulnerable, something that ego fears a lot. The secret to cleansing the world of intolerance is to listen to each other, to be open to each other and to not shun and bully because of differences. We need to pay greater attention to potential ‘blendings’ instead of ‘scatterings’ in order to hear each other.

When we don’t listen it shuns the other’s point-of-view and frightens the mind into some kind of defensive posture and when consumed by fear human beings will do great horrors to each other, horrors that only drives the mind to even greater fears.

“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

 We live our lives as separate and divided and through fear of the “other” we have dimmed the light of our true being and forced ourselves to only see the differences in us instead of our common core. If we could only learn to work as hard on dealing with our own shadows as much as we try to rid the world of the shadows of others, perhaps then we could see this core more brightly.

“There is a path from me to you
that I am constantly looking for, so I try to keep clear and still
 as water does with the moon.

This moment this love comes to rest in me,
 many beings in one being.

In one wheat grain a thousand sheaf stacks. 
Inside the needles eye, a turning night of stars.”

 –Rumi