Some comments on human existence

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I woke up not so long ago with this silly little idea running through my brain and thought I’d share it if for no other reason than I’m obsessing and need to get rid of it.

So the thought started out innocently enough, “Why are we here?” But then it got more complicated (of course, because that’s what my brain does, complicate– nothing ever gets to be simple). Perhaps the answer is that it’s an experiment in species survival, or to learn lessons, or how about as entertainment for the Great and Infinite?

If human beings are only an evolutionary experiment designed to test the parameters of species survival, what would be the point? God already created the ant that for tens of millions of years* has survived quite well, thank you, and without the encumbrance of self-awareness (unless of course you believe the Aesop fable of the ant and the grasshopper).

But, but… some would say that we increase the likelihood of survival by being a species that can function beyond its instinctual software and no one would argue that the ant is predominantly an instinctual being.

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But instinct can actually become a downfall. Take for example the “death spiral”, or “ant circle” phenomenon of an endangered colony of ants where everyone follows the ant in front of them as a means of self-protection but at the possible consequence of just continuing on and on until they all drop dead.

But humans too have instinctual responses that their so-called self-awareness won’t pull them out of, witness also the fear response that the American Republican party taps into to get the masses to vote for people and things that are not in their best interest i.e. walking around with guns on their hips because they’re convinced that this will handle their fear and make them safer. Or how about societies that demean and make all their women second-class out of some fear that to do otherwise will upset the spiritual order of things? In a very real way these are human equivalents to the ant colonies’ death spiral.

Okay, perhaps we’re here to learn lessons?

That would work if the lessons were either for us individually so that we could then take them to the next dimension of existence, or to the next inhabited being, or to use the lessons to increase our chances of survival as a species (see paragraph one). Certainly they’re not for God in that an omniscient being has already learned all the lessons, heck, it created them in the first place including the answer sheet. But an awareness extended beyond the physical being into non-physicality i.e. life beyond death, would fit with the idea of the Great Infinite we imagine God to be so why not expand the lessons infinitely as well? Maybe we can actually take it with us!

being-of-light-energy1.jpgLastly, maybe we’re here as a means for God to see itself, thus we’re imbued with infinite ideas and personalities (something I’ll bet all those ants don’t have). When you’re the only one, that is if you’re everywhere, the only thing in a universe, there’s really nowhere to stand and observe yourself. Seems to me you would need to create something “not you” through which you could look back and say, “Damn I’m good looking!” And you would have to create infinite permutations of the “not you’s” because after all you’re, well, infinite.

I guess we’ll find out when the body dies i.e. we continue to be conscious, though bodiless or we won’t and won’t know that we won’t– pretty much a win-win I think.

My head’s starting to hurt again so I think I’ll stop. But now you’ve got my silly idea running in your head, sorry!

And I’m transported into a world where everything is possible, where I’m connected to everything and everyone else, where I no longer have to defend myself or my positions, where survival is not my main purpose, where I am just fine the way I am, and where I’m no longer alone and asking this question of why am I here.

Have a great day and peace be with you!

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* Some researchers suggest it’s been as much as 110 – 130 million years. That’s about as long as dinosaurs, though the ant lived through what it was that killed all the dinosaurs, so take that you big bullies! Currently they are Earth’s most successful species, though certainly I’ve tried to make it otherwise when they keep crawling into my food pantry.

Tarot cards in dreams.

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Tarot cards sometimes show up in dreams. Two such dreams were submitted for interpretation a couple of years ago and though its been sometime since I interpreted them I thought I would share some of the meaning of these cards and a few extra that have shown from time to time over the years.

Part of my interpretive source comes from the book Tarot ReVisioned by Leigh J. McCloskey, Olander Press Ltd., 2003.

Interestingly these cards reflect what G.G. Jung would have called ‘archetypes’ in that their image represents similar meaning across all cultures of the world– some of our dream material seems to be hardwired into our brains and rise from the collective unconscious of the human psyche into our dreams.

For me Tarot is another example of how the human psyche projects itself into the symbolism of our lives. I believe that a gifted reader can tap into the querent, the person for whom the reading is being done, much as a few rare people can psychically ‘read’ another person’s thoughts and emotions during other forms of psychic endeavors. As with a dream interpreter the reader’s visions and suggestions should always be filtered through ones own inner wisdom and sensibility i.e. if it resonates, use it to explore further if not, let it go.

Because the article is longer than usual, I’ll be splitting the represented cards between today and tomorrow. Today I’ll be looking at the Fool, Magus, and Empress while tomorrow I’ll look at the Emperor, Temperance and Death.

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Tarot, the Fool: This card when seen in a dream can symbolize the archetype of awakening to self-knowledge. The Fool sometimes suggests that in all things spiritual one must always act as a beginner. It can also suggest that one may be blissfully ignorant of something (either they’re being foolish or fearless with some predicament). For Sufis the Fool is the voice of wisdom and humor and knows that it is madness to seek power and money as ends in themselves. He can also represent choice, that no one is ever really compelled, that there’s always a choice.

 

 

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Magus (or Magician): This guy is also known as the Magician. The connection between the spirit self, the unconscious psyche and the conscious self sort of a divine intermediary. In the creation story where the “everything” wants a means of knowing itself it needed to create an “other than itself” i.e. the world and us. Thus the Magus becomes the mirror to the spirit’s real self, to our real self.

The Magus is also the balancing point between intellect and inspiration i.e. between the external world an ones inner life. He teaches that true magic isn’t about trying to have power over the world.

In a dream he may suggest that some issue may be trickier than you thought, perhaps you need to look at something from another perspective? His presence in a dream might also mean that you may be trying to fool yourself. If the magician is causing trouble he may represent deception. Are you trying to control something or do you fear someone else’s attempts at control?

 

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Empress: Also known as the Great Mother, the Virgin Mary, Isis, Hecate, Qwan Yin, the Hindu goddess Kamala, and Gnosis. This card can sometimes represent Mother Nature. She can be seen as the sustaining nurturer, symbol of love (e.g. in her Venus form), and mother of ideas. She represents the potential of humankind.

She can be seen as a gateway to the light and the ultimate divine nature of humankind. She is also both wisdom and folly. She can represent the bridge or connection between the ineffable, what cannot be experienced in words, and the manifest, how the divine translates into the everyday. She is essentially the mother of creation.

I have seen a form of her in my dreams where she has appeared as Sophia showing and inviting me to take the path less traveled into a higher understanding, aka awareness, of reality.

In a dream she can represent power and honor and influence both in the positive and the negative. She can represent the influences our own mothers had, and in most cases continue to have, on our life and how we perceive it.

In a male’s dream she may represent a need for independence from ones own mother or a better or different interaction between his masculine and feminine personality selves/traits. Without a separation from his mother image a male might be always looking for her in all his relationships and only be projecting her image onto these relationships and never seeing the real person.

 

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Emperor: The masculine archetype of leadership, assertiveness, and courage. He is the doer of the potential of the Empress. He is the energy behind the creative imagination of the Empress. He reflects power but not force. To confuse the two becomes destructive, not creative. He is the applier of the love represented in the Empress. He directs and applies the energies of the Magus and the Empress, essentially the igniter of their energies into the world. He represents the divine reason to the boundless imagination of the two. Essentially he is the yang to the Empress’ Yin and suggests the need for balance and the proper exercise between the masculine and feminine traits.

In a dream and in his positive aspect he can symbolize the need for action, decisiveness, completion and balance, or the need for harmony. Consider that his negative form would represent the opposites of his positive qualities, force instead of power, imbalance or disharmony and destructiveness. He can represent the negative or positive father, even God or the devil. The Emperor can also be represented by a priest, or ones own father. Sometimes ones father traits or habits can be helpful or debilitative. He often reflects our inner expectations for ourselves for good or bad.

He can represent control by others or self-control. In a female’s dream he can represent her animus her own inner masculine positive or negative and the need for balance and the manifesting of some needed trait e.g. assertiveness or decisiveness.

 

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Temperance or Hermaphrodite: (the marriage of Hermese and Aphrodite) representing the conscious and unconscious, the masculine and feminine attributes, and the blending of opposites­ – it temporizes the headlong flight of the Fool. This union of opposite attributes can be seen in the Lovers card as well (notice that in this card a Temperance-like angel seems to be in the background). sometimes these images are speaking to the need for some kind of adjustment to a way of thinking. These cards can also speak to a way of bringing harmony to ones contrary thoughts. They can also be seen as a symbol of the need to unite the conscious and spiritual selves. Ultimately a dream with either or both of these images might be about love, giving or getting and what it is to mature and sustain it.

 

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Lastly, I bring up the Death card: In a dream this doesn’t always mean ones own death or the death of someone close but can be symbolic of an ending or the need to end something. It can mean the death of a way of being, an idea, point-of-view or of a relationship of some kind. In a dream it can be about transformation or the need for it. It can symbolize change. Behind death waits something new so it can sometimes represent the generative power behind a new beginning.

Sometimes death in a dream symbolizing the lack of resistance needed to diminish the power that the resistance to evil actually gives to evil. The fear of death is often an impediment to healing and growing. Death’s dark aspect is often used to avoid dealing with scary things and yet there is treasure hidden in the darkness of death’s potential.

Death in a dream can be pointing to ones inner demons and the need to deal with them appropriately, to take personal responsibility for them and accept that they are a part of oneself. Accepting without becoming and acknowledging ones dark side without judgment begins the journey toward real change. Thus death can symbolize the need for or the beginning of real growth. Death in this light is a transpersonal image, a means for transcending the ego-self.

By hook or by crook: The restricted feminine and its effect on society

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The Yin Yang symbol represents among other things  the feminine Yin and the masculine Yang personality aspects in balance.

Unexamined events in our childhood lives have left indelible marks on our unconscious landscape. These marks, or shall I say wounds, have effected how we relate to the world and to ourselves throughout our lives.

I always wondered why I related to people the way that I have and in some ways still do. Why do the actions of some people upset me and others don’t? As I’ve grown older I’ve also become interested in what motivated and motivates my actions and have become convinced that much, if not most, of my behaviors were automatic responses to patterns laid down and built into my unconscious mind during those formative years.

Sometimes those patterns, a template for perception, will reactivate during some modern day events. It’s as though the event reaches deep into my unconscious mind and “hooks” a pattern, a feeling, and/or an early similar event and I find myself feeling and acting in a way alien to my current emotional state. In fact, psychologists label these motivating elements “hooks”.

For example, a person might have experienced a mother who was for some reason, (from the perspective of the child the reason is irrelevant) cold and indifferent to them as a child and out of that learned to do whatever was necessary to gain acceptance and acknowledgment, trying also to be loved and cared for. Of course this would never produce the desired result though over time may become the primary motivator, or hook, behind their material success– a material success with little feeling of love or personal attainment i.e. there’s a lot of very successful people out there who don’t think they’ve really “made it” or feel unfulfilled despite their achievements.

When the fear of disapproval, or failure or the potential for shame comes up many people are hooked into certain response patterns such as denial, withdrawal, and/or rage making it difficult for them to respond effectively.

There are also materially successful people who are self-critical and mildly depressed and full of fear. There are many marginally successful and those that might be considered unsuccessful by the current patriarchal society whose early critical upbringing has added a poisonous aspect to their world view e.g. hooks such as insecurities and powerlessness and who have great difficulty overcoming the negative affects of a less than optimal childhood.

Many males experience a stunted masculinity due to their inability to employ their emotional selves, as do females who have opted to put theirs on the back burner while trying to make it in a patriarchal environment.

What may have caused this damage to our individual and societal potential for happiness and fulfillment has been a depreciated feminine aspect of compassion, intuitiveness and self-forgiveness. Our patriarchal drive toward rationality, high productivity and material success has quite literally cut us off from the feminine side of ourselves and that of our society.

Far too many women have subverted their feminine side in order to compete in a patriarchal system and far too many men have rejected their less dominant feminine side to their personalities due to an unconscious fear of a women’s disapproval engendered from the early mothering of their childhood.

It is said by some psychologists, most notably Carl Jung, that within each of us an archetype, a human race image, of the ideal mother, The Great Mother. Unconsciously everything in our waking world is compared to this image buried within our subconscious. Clearly this affects what we perceive regarding our conscious world mothers both positively and negatively.

Now I’m not mother-bashing here, most mothers do a herculean job of raising their children, but they are human and do make mistakes and on occasion do things that are more in their best interest than the child’s, but what the child does with those instances of not being the best mother are what leads to the negative affects I’ve detailed above. In a society where the father is supportive of the feminine these minor effects would be mitigated but many of these fathers have had their own inner feminine stunted and demeaned if not outright buried. In a society that pays no premium toward looking at its emotional self the feminine aspect cannot bring balance to an overly masculinized environment.

The consequences of restricting the feminine aspect in all of us has profound and long lasting effects on each of us to achieve our potential and ultimately to live in an environment of fulfilled happiness. Sure, we are the most militarily, economically, and productively powerful nation on Earth, but at what cost? We certainly aren’t the happiest, contented, the best cared for, or loved and loving people on Earth and the fear of possible failure haunts nearly every activity. Both males and females in this society seem to feel inadequate and diminished or are running from the possibility of these feelings.

We need to bring greater parity to the sexes not only in the economic realm but in the psychological and emotional realms as well.

Precognitive dreams

 

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Over the years I’ve had a number of people share dreams where they thought they may have known what was going to happen in the future. I usually skirt the issue and deal with the more tangible images of the dream. When I have commented on the idea of prescience (keen insight), or even the more startling idea of precognition I’ve pointed out that for this to happen you need to have either a keen sense of intuition, or effect would  have to precede cause. Another explanation may be that everything has already happened and we are each living it out, though sometimes our brains malfunction and get ahead of themselves.

Some physicists have studied the phenomena of time and the direction it seems to go in and as it turns out not only does the past seem to make the present, but, oops, the present also seems to make the past and not just a person’s present experience of the past.

At the very miniscule quantum level, that is at the size of a photon of light, it appears that decisions made in how to observe an experimental result actually feedback to the beginning of the event and changes it. In short, the effect can come before the cause. Huh?

Does that mean that not only do our choices today affect the future, but they also affect our past? And does that then suggest that our future affects our present? Does that mean I can change my present by affecting my past? No, is the answer presented by Dr. Fred Alan Wolf PhD popular physicist and author of Taking The Quantum Leap (1989) and Time Loops and Space Twists (2010.) According to him there needs to be a conservation of continuity with regard to time that is when something has happened regardless of whether you’ve affected it in the present toward the past, or the future toward the present it cannot be changed to do so would quite literally split the universe into two universes where each of the two-time lines can co-exist side by side, but not as one.

But does this phenomenon exist in the macro world of our everyday life? In my book The Dragon’s Treasure (see Books by Author at right) I spend an entire chapter on time and report on a study done by two psychologists, Kolers and Grunau, from The University of Toronto (pg 154) where the results suggested that perhaps our minds don’t actually interpret events chronologically. The work of Dr. Roger Penrose also suggests that the ancient Hermetic axiom, “as above, so below” is true in that the quantum realm may be reflected in the macro, or human scale as well.

This asynchronous experience of reality shows up in dreams more often than not. Dreams seem to follow something other than linear time e.g. a nonlinear time, cause and effect is often turned on its head, and in fact everything seems to come at random. Why is this?

The answer may lay, in part, to one of the purposes of dreams e.g. to down load the days experiences, sort through them and encode those that may be of survival benefit and trashing those that may not. These memory fragments may come forward through association, one image associating with another thus appearing random in nature, or irrational. Also that part of the brain called the conscious mind is set up to perceive linearly, but that is the part that is shut down during sleep and the unconscious doesn’t need to work linearly. But both seem real when we are in them. They are even complimentary in that they both see reality, but from different temporal perspectives, thus they offer the potential for the wholeness that doesn’t exist in either, but does within the integration of their opposition–a process Carl Jung called Individuation. Following this concept of complimentary opposition it is no surprise that linear consciousness has its corollary in unconscious nonlinearity.

Sometimes in order for us to perceive reality as it is we need to function outside of linear time where we are not bound by the rules of cause and effect. It is in this realm where the creative composer, artist, poet, and writer dwells and expresses their spirit. It may also be there that we can remember what is yet to become.

It’s as the White Queen in Lewis Carroll’s, ˆThrough the Looking Glass” said to Alice, “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”

 

Some more thoughts on the inner animal.

 

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Found on theprovince.com

Stepping out on the porch and into the night I saw silhouetted at the edge of the lawn an animal all in black, its back arched high, tail erect, and ears plastered along its head. A low guttural howl rumbled from deep inside it and grew louder with each passing moment.

I scanned the yard for the object of the black beast’s ferocity and there, cowering against a low lying bush, a white cat critter lay hunkered low to the ground with its hair raised high along its spine. Both animals stalked and circled each other and issued a racket loud enough to raise the dead.

The air was heavy, and thick with fear. I was about to witness a mindless clash of titans.

“Oh for goodness sakes you two, knock it off!” I exclaimed while stepping rapidly forward. “Shoo, shoo!” said I while dismissing the combatants with a wave of my hands. They then scattered to opposite ends of their territory and slinked off into the night, living yet for another day.

I can remember as a school principal saying the same thing, minus the “shoo-shoo”, to a couple of boys squaring off on a high school campus. Cats, lizards and teenage boys sometimes have a lot in common, especially when they set whatever higher thinking skills they have to the side and begin to function from their reptilian brains. It’s the same brain that convinced me when I was thirteen to put on some old roller skates and hitch a rope tied around my waist to the back of an ice truck just before the driver headed out onto the main blvd. What was I thinking? And that’s the point, I wasn’t, nor were the two cats or the two teenage combatants. We were functioning exclusively in our reactive instinctual mode (self-preservation isn’t high on a teenage boys list, after all they’re immortal).

We seem to observe this mode more and more often these days, in our politics (a lot of lizard-brain posturing there), in our neighborhoods, and in the work place. Fear is the primary stimulus for reactive positioning and it is fear that is being exploited in governance, politicking (“he’s destroying our country!”), on the radio & T.V. (facts, who needs facts?), and commercial advertising (e.g. “kills 99.9% of all disease causing bacteria”). And when we get entangled in our fears we go out and buy guns, and begin to make any number of bone-headed decisions that ultimately make us even more fearful.

Overall, our animal natures are just barely subdued and held in check and when bombarded with messages of fear the veneer of self-control begins to wear dangerously thin. And when finally pushed into a defense mode we shut down the also thin thinking layer of our brains and begin to operate from the vast repository of the unconscious and the animal within arches its back and growls a warning.

These warnings show up in our waking lives all the time with low volume growls of “Bitch, bastard, A_ _hole!” and any number of even more vile expletives meant to demean another being as a means of defending ones own. They also show up in our dreams as dogs that bite, snakes that hiss, spiders threatening to ensnare us, and large animals that chase us down and attack.

Once caught up in the unconscious animalistic and irrational fight, or flight mode, it’s hard to get back to the rational thinking mode. However, no matter how threatening, these animals also have immense capacity for good. When observed prowling in our hearts or in our dreams we can use them as a signal to take note of what is happening around and within us. If we can stop in mid expletive and observe what’s happening we have a much better chance of functioning out of conscious rational choice rather than be reactively controlled by our unconscious animal. When we can be more conscious of our socio-political environment and our reactions to it through the monitoring of our dreams we can also be more at choice in our responses.  

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Eagle Dancer by Bud Barnes . Animals in dreams are depictions of

 

ourselves stripped of our social controls

 

and often present us with our unedited

 

feelings. They depict our drives and

 

urges for procreation, love caring and

 

nurturing. Their skins were

 

once thought by early native tribes to

 

impart the power, personality and

 

wisdom of the animal they once belonged to.

 

Animals continue to give their power

 

in our dreams. –RJ Cole (Book of Dreams)

 

 

I think we need to be able to “shoo” away our inner and outer animal and stand between our warring aspects in order to scatter them and give space for more measured and thoughtful responses. God gave us a part of the brain not given to the lizard and the cat to aid us in this endeavor and I think we better start using it a little more often if we want to survive our darker natures.

 

 

The Moon, Sun, Stars, and Planets in our dreams

 

Yesterday’s eclipse was an awe inspiring event. The Moon traversing and shadowing the disc of the sun has provided much mystery over many millennia. Though the Sun gets top billing during an eclipse of the Sun it is the Moon that is the lead actor in this heavenly drama. The Moon and it’s other solar brethren have special meaning to those of us staring up into the sky both in the everyday  and in the realm of our dreams.

S28.1Selene.jpgIn the photo at left is Selene the Greek Moon goddess and guardian of the night. She was, according to legend, daughter of Hyperion–the lord of light– and sibling of Eos the goddess of the dawn and rebirth. She’s also known Luna, the Roman Titaness.

A character in the Archipelago of Dreams, Eo is named after the Celtic goddess for rebirth. She is cast as a Phoenix bush– that which burns, but does not die, becoming reborn anew. In the book she plays a role as a healer of souls and guides Robert in the processes of healing.

The Moon has even more meaning than meets the eye. An eclipse of the Moon can suggest that ones feminine side is being overshadowed, or that some hidden aspect is about to be revealed. The moon eclipsing the Sun could very well be a union of the feminine and masculine aspects of ones self. The new light peeking from behind the Moon as the eclipse passes could be a new light, knowledge, or a new perspective.

The moon is often a symbol for the Priestess, or Goddess who may in a man’s dream be about second-sight, or insight, the intuitive, and a messenger guide (this was so for me in the dream, The Blue Fresco) from the unconscious mind.

The full Moon may represent wholeness while the crescent can represent transformation (Shiva in Hinduism is the god of transformation and is represented by the crescent), openness and resurrection (as with the middle eastern crescent of Islam). A waning Moon, can symbolize letting go, whereas the waxing Moon can be about growing insight and awareness.

A red Moon can be about violence, disaster and strife, while a blue Moon can represent rarity. The moon also represents the receptive and wisdom. The Virgin Mary and Sophia were likened to The Moon of the Church, the reflector of the light of the Christ (often symbolized by the Sun). The Star of David can signify the union of Heaven and Earth.

The full Moon in the book The Archipelago of Dreams represented wholeness and completion and a goddess messenger for success. Viewing it helped the hero, Robert, to calm himself and get to sleep before battling the shadows of the Dark Lords.

Stars in ones dream can represent knowledge (universal and self) and the divine. Sometimes a star can be like an angel, a messenger from the divine spirit. In some Native American tribes the stars in the sky are the campfires of dead ancestors, with their spirits forever looking down upon you. Here too the star played a prominent role in Robert’s transformation while in the Archipelago. (from flickr.com)

The morning star (Venus the goddess of persuasive feminine charm and for the Romans, the mother of them all) heralds the rise of the Sun (the Moon’s male counterpart). This was a good sign for a new beginning and for enlightenment. However, some Christians saw the same symbol in opposition when they determined that this star represented the devil Lucifer that means “Morning Star” in Latin. Interestingly enough the archetypal image of the devil usually refers to a dark and unwanted side of our own nature that can only be dealt with in the direct light of day e.g. through conscious awareness.

The five-pointed star called a pentacle shows up in many Christian churches as a symbol to ward off evil, though in opposition, or inverted, the star represents evil. The European Roma call it the Star of Knowledge. When an apple is cut in half across the core a pentacle becomes evident–no wonder the apple gets such a bad rap.

Shooting stars are often seen as a divine sign, or as a messenger from God, hence the ancient ritual of asking (praying) for some intervention as it shoots across the sky.

Generally, stars in ones dream can represent success i.e. fame and fortune, aspirations and high ideals. Or you could be putting your fortunes into the hands of the stars e.g. luck. A star can also refer to the dreamer, the star of his or her own life.

Planets may be about creativity, exploration and adventure. Each planet has its own particular meaning e.g. Jupiter may be about success and extravagance, while Venus may represent desire, beauty and feminine power, whereas Mars may be energy, drive, passion, and masculine power.

The Zodiac is a system of explaining the universe through the movements of the stars, around the ecliptic path of the Sun, Moon and planets. To see the zodiac in your dreams is to see a representation of the various traits and aspects that one uses to connect with their universe. For those who are familiar with the signs, a particular sign may point to a particular trait or aspect in the dreamer. The zodiac can also be a metaphor for the passage of time, or the mysteries of life as well as being a metaphor for destiny e.g. something over which you have little or no control.

Alice in Wonderland revisited or whose rabbit hole are we trapped in, yours or mine?

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A while back my granddaughter and I snuggled up and watched the film Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp. In it Alice tries to pinch herself out of what she assumes to be her dream, but is it a dream? She wanders confused and unable to assert that she is even who she claims to be.

 

“’Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I – I hardly know, sir, just at present – at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’”

–Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

Like Alice are we in a dream? And like her is it our own unmet fears that keep us there? Is it our unwillingness to assert our true self that keeps us trapped in our own little madness?

Often the whole world seems a confusing place and trying to figure it out is like trying to answer the Mad Hatters oft repeated riddle, “Why is a Raven like a writing desk?” The point is that sometimes there just isn’t an answer, or meaning–sometimes life is just absurd. As one looks closer at the world we’ve made, it all gets “curioser and curioser”.

Falling down the rabbit hole into the dark underworld of our dreams will lead us to a curious and confusing realm. But if you were to imagine falling up the hole and into the daylight might it be the crazy conscious world we’ve all adapted to that is mad and the dark world of the unconscious holding the actual enlightenment we seek? Ah what then?

Trapped in a hole of our own making, preferring to limit ourselves to a very small landscape rather than to open our selves up to the endless view of our real self i.e. to be willing to live in hell for fear of heaven–what madness is that?

 

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.”

–Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

Ah, but we all think that it was happenstance that we’re here, that we didn’t choose to be here. Are you sure of that? Maybe that thought is your ego’s way of not having to be responsible for how it all turns out?

But what is madness? Deviating too far from a norm or from what is the standard for common sense? Was it madness to believe that sound and image could be broadcast through the air across great distances? Or that women could ever be the equal of any man and deserved the same rights and privileges? And that there would ever be a willing confederation of traditional enemies as is being witnessed in the European Union? Was it crazy to believe that humans could be made to fly or step foot upon the moon? Or that two young college dropouts could change the way the world communicates? At one time the answer to all of these and more was an unquestioned, “yes, it is madness”!

 

“The Mad Hatter: Have I gone Mad?

Alice: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

–Lewis Carroll

 

Real madness seems to be a society that fights desperately for its freedom and then votes for someone to restrict and oppress them. Then there’s a society who believes that the answer to personal safety and security against guns is to buy more guns, bigger guns, with more bullets, and more power. Or how about those who believe that if you punish hard enough the transgressor will learn not to do bad things (look how well that works in our penal system) or that if you hit a child for hitting that it will teach him not to hit? And why the human love affair with retribution and revenge, how’s that working?

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I’m sure that the readers of this blog could come up with many more bits of curious madness than I’ve detailed here. The point is that perhaps in our madness we’ve reversed what it means to be sane. Maybe we all ought to be a little more mad? In the best sort of way, of course, I mean, all the best people are.

How odd the truth sayers: Most people won’t read this blog because they aren’t interested in truth…real truth

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I Ching on hexagram 61. (The wind blows over the lake and stirs the surface of the water. Thus visible effects of the invisible manifest themselves. The hexagram consists of firm lines above and below, while it is open in the center. This indicates a heart free of prejudices and therefore open to the truth. On the other hand, each of the two trigrams has a firm line in the middle; this indicates the force of inner truth in the influences they represent.)

 

The gist of this blog came from both John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And a Flannery O’Connor’s quote, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you odd.”

We live in an age where truth is whatever you want it to be– that is whatever makes you right (or at least makes you think you are). We also live in an age with unprecedented access to facts. One click of the “return” key on a computer keyboard can give you billions of facts. Never before has the ability to dispel ignorance been so available to so many. And yet…

For the sake of personal need, or greed, or zealous beliefs the truth as it is reflected in facts is ignored at a profound level. It’s as though the world is embracing ignorance at an ever-increasing rate. If you don’t believe this just listen to those who run for political office (or are currently in it), or those who dominate the radio waves with political ranting–twisting and turning truths into macabre representations of reality. Religions no longer represent the truth of the Spirit from whence they were born, but for many have become a form of sanctioned self-delusion.

We wrap these delusions in something we call “conviction” and once settled these strong beliefs need no evidence, or proof to exist. But it is these convictions that are the enemies of truth. Worse than lies, they keep us bound up and unable to fly free. In short, our beliefs are a prison for they don’t allow for truth.

 

“Truth will have no gods before it. The belief in truth begins with the doubt of all truths in which one has previously believed.”

                                                                         –Nietzsche

 

But many are lazy, too lazy to think for their selves, so they leave the truth up to others. When those truths align with what is already thought then they are embraced as truth. The folly of this approach is that we then only perceive what we believe. How much we miss with this approach especially because God does not exist within the small confines of our beliefs. Heck, even you and I aren’t really reflected in the narrow confines of what we believe ourselves to be.

 

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.”

                                                         ~ Winston Churchill

 

Deep inside us is an unconscious part of ourselves it is full of shadows, bright glowing spirit, joys and fears. It is the home of our instincts, our intuitions, and stimuli for creativity. It can also be the home of truth for us. Truth is not something that is preached from the outside because it only comes from within.

How to tell if it’s truth vs. just another idea? If it nurtures, if it encourages growth, if it enlivens and frees the spirit, if it engenders love and acceptance, and fosters forbearance and gentleness it is said that it is then the truth. Anything else is an ego-self prejudice.

In the I Ching it is said that when the heart is free of prejudices, it is open to the truth. The intractable mind cannot hear the truth. Any form of self-righteousness prevents the discovery of truth.

I suggest that Truth is the essence of immortality. It is in the prisons of belief and conviction that we are mortal, that we are doomed to the dust of the earth. Truth is also something that can be chased after, something like happiness, but never caught as a function of the chase. The pursuit only prepares you for when truth enters the door.

Is there “the” truth, or is it as the Lebanese philosopher Kahlil Gibran suggested, “I have found ‘a’ truth?” And is it forever a truth, or just in the moment? Is it as the physicist Niels Bohr said “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth?“

I suggest that truth is a state of enlightenment, a place where the ego that you think you are becomes silent, when thought itself becomes still. It is here that you can hear the truth. It is here that you awaken and begin to seek. You may look as though you are alone, but in truth there is God all around you and you begin to glow.

A follower of truth, listens to the inner voice, not the one in your head that is talking right now, or the one in the radio, or TV, or even the pulpit (yes, I know, and even this blog). The true follower surrenders their ideas, their thoughts and beliefs. The student of truth accepts their shadow selves as well as the “self” that they imagine them selves to be, or wish that they were. Truth does not tie itself to any illusion, any time or place. Truth is not a judgment, belief or thought, or anything else that one may have attached themselves to. It cannot be held, or given to another. It cannot be pursued, or sought after and only comes to you when released. It cannot be found in efforting and can only be found in the moment. Truth may only come in the letting go of it, or of anything for that matter.

 

“The ultimate Truth is beyond words. Doctrines are words. They’re not the Way. The Way is wordless. Words are Illusions.”

                                   – Bodhidharma, founder of Zen

 

Truth is not something apart from you, it’s not something you discover and take in. It’s always been there. It is not in your words, but is sometimes hidden between them. And it can only be found at the moment of death. The death of what you think you are.

Indeed, following the truth might make you odd.

Like Peter Pan each of us need to find our own internal Wendy to reattach the shadow we’ve become separated from.

One of the paradoxes of being human is that we hold within us both the dark and the light.

Carl Jung the Swiss psychiatrist described how each of us has that part of us that we identify with and present to the world and that part of us that we keep hidden, the dark and unbearable characteristics of ourselves. This shadow, or dark, side of our nature is kept cut off from the rest of our being but is still attached through the unconscious part of our selves.

 

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Jung went on to say that our growth into wholeness required that we come to terms with our unacceptable aspects– our desires, hidden impulses, hostility, greed, and selfishness. What he believed was that we all long for the essence of ourselves, what some might call the soul, that part of us that is connected to the divine.

Prior to being born we may have been fully integrated with the wholeness of the universe and only after acquiring a body and by extension an ego did we become separated from this whole. It is then thought that each of us in our own unique way is going through a process of reintegration from the incomplete status of a separated body and soul toward the harmonious fullness of a being integrated with all other beings.

Thus the process of integrating our shadow parts is a major goal of spiritual growth, but how to do this?

It’s a little like Peter Pan trying to get Wendy to help him reconnect with his shadow by having her sew it back on. The way we do this is to reacquaint ourselves with what we’ve cut off from ourselves. What keeps us from doing this is fear.

We know that this part of us has a negative charm attached to it and whenever we get too close it will invalidate and make wrong any of the good in you. This extends to the world as well. Have you ever noticed how anger, fear, and negativity comes up whenever it looks as though peace is about to break out?

While the lower thought forms of our unconscious mind control us we are stuck until we learn to transcend the forces that lay there. We can only do that by bringing to light what is hidden in the darkness.

We can’t overcome the shadow by hating it for hate is of the shadow itself. The shadow is only the wounded part of ourselves that needs to be reunited with the rest of us much like Peter needed. And it was only through the love of Wendy that this could be accomplished, which is why he came to visit in the first place. The answer to dealing with the shadow is through love, compassion, and forgiveness. This is true for both the individual and the society in which he lives.

It’s our own individual and collective arrogance that disallows the points-of-view of others and won’t give deference to the spiritual views of others. On an individual level this is a person who runs rough shod over the beliefs of others. On a collective level like the United States for example (and I only use this example because it is where I call home) the great American shadow through capitalism and its powerful defender, militarism, tends to take whatever it wants and disallows the spiritual principles of anyone and everyone.

It goes on to display an arrogant disregard for the effects on others and the environment that it too often exploits. Corporate America affects more than the other countries it shares the world with it also disenfranchises the people of its own country. This will only get worse because America refuses to acknowledge its shadow and wields its heavy hand all over the world.

Oh it has better angels within itself and these do a lot of good in the world, but its unacknowledged dark side causes it much self-inflicted grief and prevents the outbreak of peace.

Now, America is not the only country that ignores its shadow and the effects it has on the world, arrogance is not limited to only one country, or one people, there are many, many other perpetrators of this kind of grief– its part of the human condition to be arrogant and dismissive of what one thinks is not them.

But the transformation needed to reintegrate the fragmented self begins with the individual– you and I and what we support in ourselves and in others around us. Do we support what brings joy and healing or do we continue to maintain the separateness through our own self-righteousness? It’s up to us– you, me.

Like Peter Pan each of us need to find our own internal Wendy to reattach what we’ve become separated from and become whole again.

 

 

The Never-Never

 

“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.”

 

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A metaphor for our Unconscious Mind?

In several blog articles I’ve explored how myth reflects the workings of the human psyche. Though not myths in and of themselves there are also popular fantasy stories that have added to our cultural mythology that themselves are allegories to the workings of the psyche. I’ve looked at such stories and poems as Shakespeare’s Mid Summer Nights Dream, Louis Carroll’s’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Today I thought I’d tackle yet another of the English-speaking world’s favorite fantasy stories, Peter Pan.

“The second star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning.

But, Peter, how do we get to Never Land?

Fly, of course.

Fly?

It’s easy! All you have to do is to… is to… is to… Ha! That’s funny.

What’s the matter? Don’t you know?

Oh, sure. It’s… It’s just that I never thought about it before. Say, that’s it! You think of a wonderful thought. “

 

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From Disney movie Peter Pan

And thus began one of fantasy’s most incredible magical journeys, Peter Pan by J.M Barrie.

What is this Never Land of which he spoke?

Barrie thought of this land as a place found in the minds of children. Each land is as different as each child, though there are some basic similarities as it is between children as well. This seems not unlike the archetypal images of which Jung spoke which would make Never Land an archetype for the psyche’s imaginal realm.

In this way Never Land might be likened to the dream world with the “mainland” of Wendy, John and Michael Darling representing the waking world.

Barrie’s Never Land was probably a reference to the popular name for the Australian Outback i.e. The “Never-Never” that was to be found in the deserts of the Northern Territory. This wouldn’t be too far fetched when one thinks of the Australs as the southern most land mass on the planet and thus analogous to the unconscious mind from whence all dreams are born.

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Never-Never National Park

Neverland can only be reached by flying and in the dream world, flying is a metaphor for freedom and independence, it’s also a central theme in Peter Pan’s world.

The star in the beginning of the story serves as a guide or map to the place of their desire; where they aspire to be i.e. Never Land. In dreams stars also relate to ones aspirations and desires. There’s also an aspect of fate or luck in the story because you’re encouraged to believe that you just have to follow “the 2nd star to the right and then straight on ‘til morning”, a star in ones dreams also symbolizes this same aspect of luck.

In the book The Archipelago of Dreams Robert also followed a star that drew him into the Spirit World of his deeper self where he also tempted fate.

Growing up in some way is also an aspect of many stories both in the desire and the resistance to it. We all want the seeming independence of being grown up and in charge of our fate, but how many times have we all, when overwhelmed with the responsibilities of our grown-up status, wished for the simpler days of our childhood? In our dreams this often shows up in images of our childhood home, friends, events, or family.

You see, our fantasy stories as well as our myths come from the same place as our dreams– they are projections of our deeper, and all too hidden, nature.

 

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