Dreaming wakefulness

 

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Who creates the universe that we experience? The following diagrams are meant to represent a different possibility for the reality we observe, the reality that seems to exist because of its oppositions. I’m just playing around here because I actually know nothing about reality other than what I can touch or intuit and frequently these too are in opposition and conflict with one another.

I’m looking beyond the reality that we create through our biases– conscious or unconscious, and our physical senses. I’m digging around in what some might call the metaphysical. What if it’s all a dream and everything comes from the imaginal part of the human mind?

When I use the word “state” in the figure below I’m dabbling at the surface of quantum physics, at least as I understand it.

 

Dreaming state                                                                                                         Wakeful state

Fig. 1

Fig. 1 Perceived as opposites but perhaps these are not opposites but a continuum i.e. two states of the same dream– and it all takes place in the observer.

 

Reality (empirical/causal)                                          Fantasy (synchronistic/acausal)

Fig. 2

Fig. 2 Perceived as opposites but if all is imaginal then perhaps they constitute two states of the imaginal.

 

States of reality seem to depend on the observer that is, how the observer observes. In the quantum world, that is the unseen world smaller than the atom, everything seems to exist everywhere and ‘everywhen’ what is called super-positionality until an observer chooses how, what, and when to observe. At that point the observer causes this state of super-potential reality to collapse into just one reality. This seems to include the construct of time as well. As the theory goes there really isn’t any time save what the human mind creates so that everything isn’t happening at once. Talk about the ultimate multitasking if it were! Even Einstein showed us that the reality of time is all relative to the position (point of view) of the observer, that it isn’t consistent across the universe i.e. reality is relevant to the the individual and their point of view. So if reality is not consistently the same for everyone is there a “real” reality or are we making it all up?

As the theory goes we may be creating reality by merely choosing what we look at. Interesting, huh?

While in the dreaming state the rules of the waking reality are suspended, so all those pesky concepts of time and space are suspended. That’s why dreams don’t follow any temporal order or any spacial rules either– anyone for walking through walls or flying above rooftops? When we awake a new set of rules seems to take over but these rules are moderated by the efficiency of our sensing and recording apparatus.

There is research evidence that suggests that sometimes we register the future before it happens or on a more mundane level our biases, beliefs, and values determine what is seen or not seen and/or felt or not felt.

There is also speculation based on observation that dreams reflect the un noticed patterns coming from our waking life and that they also create patterns that manifest in the waking life. The imagery research done by psychologist Catherine Shainberg has been used to show her clients a link between ones everyday behavior and their dreams, to seek the patterns in both, and then to choose a response versus just reacting*. Basically she claims that there is no separation between the night dream and the waking dream**.

But we may not be in charge of any of that, that is to say that our conscious self i.e. who we think we are, is being controlled by an unseen force that psychologists call, the unconscious.

It is this unconscious mind that makes up the vast majority of our self that affects what we see and what we do with it. We may be no more in control of our wakeful state than our dreaming state. There might be a very real possibility that both states are but a dream.

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*   Kabbalah and the power of Dreaming (2005)

** For more on the waking dream try Life As a Waking Dream by Diane Kennedy Pike, (1997)

Fool’s errand

 

the-fools-jester.gif“The arc of the moral universe is a long one but it bends towards justice,” is a quote used by any number of people, the most notable of which was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in one of his speeches. The quote was from a mid-nineteenth century Transcendentalist, Theodor Parker.

But this arc that bends won’t just happen, it has never bent on its own. It has always taken active “benders” to move it towards justice.

Peace and Passive are two words that have often been linked to each other even though Peace requires Active not Passive participation. Peace doesn’t just happen and when it does, it doesn’t come from fear or the need to dominate and control, it comes from positive resolve and intention.

Justice requires positive activism, an activism that promotes a context of positive connection between people and ideas.

I’m using the attribute modifier ‘Positive’ for a reason because both negative and positive create context i.e. the ambient condition in which things exist. Positive and negative motivations can coexist within either context, in fact they can inform each other. But the type of overall context tends to bend things toward one or the other way of being.

This tendency is why some efforts to bring about positive change are frequently thwarted because of negative subtext. For example, when a desire to change something is layered onto an unspoken negative such as a feeling of helplessness (at a loss for what will really work), cynical thoughts (‘they’ could change but probably won’t), or manipulation (if I can get them to change I will benefit e.g. will no longer be in fear or I will get my way) it is doomed to fail at some point.

When I use the word “resolve” I’m referring to the power of intention. As Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “Our intention creates our reality.”

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The typical game of world peace , oops I mean whack-a-mole

I’m suggesting that we stop focusing on the problem and start shifting our attention to what it is we want to create (the ground of being or context for what exists). Tackling problems without addressing the context is like playing “whack-a-mole” at the arcade, it’s a forever exercise with no end goal other than each whack has a momentary and terminal feeling of satisfaction attached.

When you have honestly and truthfully defined what it is that you want for the world you live in and resolve to do what is wanted and needed to create that, the action needed will reveal itself as will the obstacles to achieving it. Do you think the iPhone just suddenly appeared fully functional and ready to transform the world of communication? Obstacles become markers along the road to success when they are included as a necessary part of an intentional context. Great inventors know this as do effective social activists.

Intention toward a context will literally change ones consciousness. For example, if you were to have as your intention to change your negative responses to others, or to events, by actively replacing such things as anger, impatience, or fear with compassion, understanding of differing needs, and calmness/centeredness, your experience of the person or event would shift.

Once the personal context has shifted then one can see the action necessary to shift the overall context.

In short, to focus all our energies on solving individual problems as they pop up without addressing the context in which they are created and sustained is a fool’s errand.

Films on dreams: Dreams, a dialog with the dreamer’s reality

 

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Still from the movie “In a Dream”

There have been a number of films made with dreams as the underlying theme for the story. Such films as Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (1990), Total Recall (1990), City of Lost Children (1995), The Matrix, the Wizard of Oz, Spirited away (2001) or the 2010 movie Inception have all fascinated us with their take on the dream world and how it interfaces with reality.

Most of these films are disturbing and somewhat nightmarish as though the dream world were something unsettling and that looking too closely can be dangerous which is why many of us don’t want to look at them. But none of the films I’ve reviewed have been so charming as a recent short film currently on Vimeo, titled “In a Dream”.

Dreams can be a useful tool to open ones life to all kinds of possibilities. They can be used to solve problems or open us up to the world around us that we seem to be missing because we’re too focused on our own issues. Such was the story told about a young woman making her way in the world while trying to find someone to share her life with, someone special. She did all the things the modern woman does dating, getting involved in activities outside the job, on-line dating services but the man of her dreams or more accurately the man in her dreams seemed ever elusive.

It was her dream world that brought up the everyday images in her life that were unconscious to her but that eventually lead her to where she needed to be.

This film magically mixes both the world of sleeping dreams with the outer world of the waking dream and leads to a conclusion that leaves the viewer still engaged in its mystery even after the credits have rolled.

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The dream sequences were well done and were just odd enough to reflect real dreams but not so strung out as to add confusion. Though the film was a little short for me this would make a good story within a film of several stories told around a central theme of dreams and dreaming each adding a thread to the mysterious tapestry of our lives. For the romantics among you who know that your dreams have value to the stream of your every day this film is worth the seventeen minutes it takes to watch.

Great Expectations: The unconscious influence on perception and action

 

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Line drawings of our expectations on the left with reality on the right. Note that anywhere along the line on the right one could compare progress with the expectation on the left and be disappointed and/or angry even though the outcome is exactly as hoped for.

 

Last night I had a dream. In the dream things that I expected did not happen and I started to get upset, then angry, with how things weren’t happening the way I thought they should. In the dream I found myself yelling, “Stop doing that, that’s not the way you’re supposed to do it!” When I awoke I realized that this was a reflection of my unexamined feelings associated with being disappointed with something someone had done. I had been chewing on my judgments of them all the day preceding the dream so it was only natural that the issue should show up in a dream.

The issue wasn’t really about the unexplored feelings however, they were important but something else was affecting those feelings. The issue was really about my expectations for their behavior and it was these that were coloring my inner dialogue. And it was my expectations that were affecting what I was feeling about them.

So what about an unmet expectation was causing trouble in my mind or to put it another way when someone or something doesn’t live up to my expectation of the way they should be, why do I find that upsetting? Whoa, the onus of the problem just shifted radically from “it’s their fault” to “It’s mine”. My expectations are affecting how I see the world and then how I react to it.

There have been many studies about the effects of expectations in fields as varied as science, teaching, marketing, and politics. Expectations affect not only the findings of a scientist but on what they choose to study. They affect a journalist, a jury and a judge on what facts or non facts they choose to believe in and they also affect how a teacher perceives a student that can cause the teacher to either not expect much from a student or to expect more. Our expectations affect how we vote, listen to talk show hosts on T.V. / radio, and the products we buy and all of this opens us to manipulation the kind marketers and politicians use to get us to think their way instead of for ourselves. These real world perceptions also affect the decisions and pronouncements that a politician makes once in office and even affect when a policeman chooses to make an arrest or pull his weapon from its holster.

When I was a Freshman in High School we read Charles Dickens’ book “Great Expectations”. I loved the story but don’t think I really understood how the expectations of both the protagonist of the story, Pip, and the adults and others around him were affected by their expectations and how these judgments of the way life should or had to be ran their lives.

And behind every expectation there lays a judgment, a judgment that anything other than ones expectation is less– less important, valuable, honorable, patriotic, or correct… well you get the idea.

But let me narrow the field a little. In my dream as well as in my waking life I tend to let my judgments get in the way of what I am seeing. All too often I let my labels of what something is or should be affect what it actually is. All too often I will let my labels get in the way of my love for someone or something. This is true for not only how I see others and treat them, but for how I see myself that then will often lead to how I treat myself.

But I will always have judgments, I am like most people a “judgment machine” either judging something “good” (meaning it agrees with my point-of-view) or that it is “bad” (meaning that it doesn’t agree with my point-of-view)– yes I can choose to be tolerant of the so-called “bad” but often that’s just a personal expectation that I hold for myself because I judge myself to be a “good” and tolerant person. See? I’m a judgment machine!

One way that I deal with my judgments that affect my expectations, that affect how I feel about and how I interact with others, is to first become aware that that’s what I’m doing. For example, if I were to have the judgment that what someone is doing is stupid I just say to myself, “I’m having that “stupid judgment” thought again. What this does is to take the thought out of the automatic mode of perceiving the world and allows me then to shift my perspective and to look at myself to see what of myself that I may be projecting onto the event or the person.

Sometimes my judgments lead me to evil thoughts where I play a game in my head of tit-for-tat or an eye for an eye and I spiral down into negativity. What has helped me here is another expectation for myself i.e. that when I notice that I’m playing this negative scenario in my head that I will notice and never meet or counter evil with evil, negativity only breeds more negativity. I can use this negative energy to protest the evil in such a way that it makes some people stop and think about their actions or the actions of others.

But mostly I find that I just make these automatic judgments, expectations and decisions without assessing them and that of course doesn’t allow me to be at choice with either the perception or the response to them. This begs the question as to what degree am I really at choice with anything in my life, especially if I’ve allowed most of it to be run by my unconscious points-of-view – those unconscious points-of-view that the sleeping brain presents to us in our dreams in an attempt at trying to bring consciousness to our choices?

Ah, “free choice”, real choice, of what to think, what to feel, or how to act, how much do we really have? That’s a topic for another time.

Does objective reality exist?

 

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Now I want to make everything perfectly clear I AM NOT A PHYSICIST! I also was not a math major. The hard sciences fascinated me but ultimately it was what are called the soft-sciences (psychology, mythology) that attracted me. I say this to make it clear that I have no credibility when it comes to anything that smacks of physics and yet I’m arrogant enough to want to use it as a means of taking a closer look at what’s behind the theoretical curtain of reality that interacts with psychology.

We’ve all been taught about how BIG the universe is and have been introduced to theories about how it came to be e.g. the Big Bang. Seems simple enough though I’ve always imagined the physics behind it all to be much more complex.

Here’s a basic equation describing the Big Bang or expanding universe cosmology        H2=(a/a)2=8 πG/3• ρ–kc2/a2+ Λc2/3* It seems almost too simple to describe something so big as our universe.

And you’d be right if you were to think that because a physicists’ reality never seems to be that simple.

Steven Hawking at Univ. of Cambridge (holding the same chair as Isaac Newton) suggested that the universe has no boundaries—no beginning and no end. To do this, he uses Imaginary Time that runs perpendicular to the past/present/future, “regular” time you and I experience (I know, don’t ask). However, when using “regular time” there will always be a beginning, or T=0.

Abhay Ashtekar, a Penn State physicist uses a model of gravity that allows him to mathematically waltz right up to T=0 and then pass on through to the other side where he says is another universe that is in the process of collapsing rather than expanding like ours. Does this mean that there is a T= minus 0— A previous cause of a first cause, or a first cause before a first cause, or an effect before a first cause? It boggles!

Now here’s a boggle: The London physicist David Bohm believes that objective reality does not exist, that at the heart of it all is a phantasm—a hologram if you will. He argues that at the deepest level of reality everything is actually an extension of the same basic something.

To make this statement he cites the work of the Parisian physicist Alain Aspect who performed an experiment with amazing, some might say magical, results. He and his team discovered that under certain circumstances subatomic particles are able to instantaneously communicate with each other regardless of the distance between them e.g. one foot or one billion feet between them it makes no difference. But, but… what about Einstein’s nothing can go faster than the speed of light rule?

Bohm says that they are able to do this because their separateness is illusory! They are extensions of the same thing. He uses the following illustration to get a handle on the boggle: Imagine that there is an aquarium with one fish in it swimming around. Now imagine that the only way you can observe the aquarium is via a camera recording the fishes every move. Imagine now that there are two cameras projecting pictures onto two monitors but the second camera is shooting at right angles to the first. If you were to believe you were watching two aquariums and two fish you would see two different movements. But if you were to watch more closely you would see that these movements seem to be linked e.g. when one faces the front the other is facing the side. Because you don’t see them as the same fish its hard to understand the link.

The bottom line is that we are only seeing a portion of the reality and that is what is happening to subatomic particles that are “instantaneously” communicating. At the deepest level of reality the universe is a projection and everything is interconnected.

This sounds like as many theologists’ claim, that everything including you and I are at a fundamental level connected. And the concept that everything is a “projection” appears to mirror what Depth Psychologists have been saying for years i.e. that our reality is but a projection of our own minds.

Science and theology get closer and closer.

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*The Alexander Friedman equation for the expansion of the universe.

 

 

 

Living in the realm of the “Box-world” and afraid to live outside its illusion of safety

 

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Not too long ago I was dreaming of walking around in a box, wandering the inside edges looking for an exit, longing for something different, and unable to find my way out. The box is symbolic of the context of my life, the milieu within which I live my life.

Context, the beliefs we have about life and about ourselves including our judgments of self and our worries, embarrassments, and self-criticisms all affect how we see others. Look at another person and we pretty much only see ourselves. As a matter of fact if you want to know about yourself, note what it is you see in the people you meet.

Challenging our context expands it and it becomes more inclusive and broadens the amount of material and experience we have to draw on to interact efficiently with the only thing that we truly own, the here and now. The human psyche is always trying to expand its context whether the conscious self wants to or not though many folks pride themselves in being able to resist that expansion– they call it loyalty, or unyielding faith, or being true to ones values and beliefs. Basically its just laziness in that it’s easier to not critique ones beliefs or allow for pesky change.

It’s as though this little-self built a box around itself in a misguided (or cynical?) attempt to keep it (you) safe.

Most of us treat our lives in a very narrow manner and get all upset when it’s suggested that we let go of our comforts and seek change i.e. when we are asked to broaden our context.

“Dear me, no. We, Hobbits, are plain quiet folk. Adventures make one late for dinner.”

–Bilbo Baggins (JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit)

I’m sorry fellow humans but we were built for wholeness and change is what leads to wholeness. Rigid, or doctrinal thinking creates an illusion of safety, it is of the small-minded ego and is, I suspect, contrary to the wishes of God or the goal of the universe. Ultimately life is not safe, you don’t have to be reckless with it, but life can be pretty durable and can allow for one to explore all kinds of options. Why would a powerful being such as God want anything less from its creation? Why would it create something so much smaller than itself? God is not of the small-minded and simpering ego, nor is this ego a reflection of God i.e. it’s not the ego self that is made in the image of God. There’s a much bigger you that gives you life, that animates your being and manifests the wishes of that which created it. Do it justice, give it honor by functioning bigger than the “little self”.

Don’t let the “little self” be the leader of your life, point to where you were meant to go and it will follow.

Where were you meant to go? An answer to that question may lie in listening to something other than your ego-self because this little ego-self will always choose the lower easy or self-enhancing road, always. And when I say listen to ‘something other than’, I’m not talking about reading some book or following some guru, priest or priestess, because nothing outside yourself has the same authority and wisdom as your bigger self– your soul. The books and priests are of the box and can only preach to you of what’s in that box.

When in the box of the little-self there are all kinds of things designed to divert ones attention away from the real power in one’s life. There are holy books and all kinds of preachers and gurus who have painstakingly written about or have been trained in the tradition of boxes to make sure that you don’t get outside the box.

What box, you say? One of the best ways of discovering the parameters of the box is to listen carefully to the “box-people”, the box keepers so to speak. They will gladly show you what the box looks like. Once you see it, then you can work out a way to get outside of it and begin the real journey toward authenticity.

For too long we humans have mistrusted our own divinity in favor for the con of the outside world. That’s because we’ve been hoodwinked into believing that the small-minded ego-self had the answers or at least knew where to find them. The ego-self is noisy, boisterous, incessantly verbose, and self-absorbed and effectively hides the quieter voice of the divine within us. This is because the small self doesn’t think that it will survive if the bigger self were to become dominant. But it’s quite the opposite because the bigger self knows that it cannot attain its wholeness without the little-self remaining intact.

 “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”

 –Luke 9:23-24

 Give your bigger-self a chance to make good on the promise of that which created you– listen to it, it actually makes more sense.

 

 

Biblical Metaphors for wisdom and Healing

 

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There’s magic to be had from the wisdom center of our unconscious minds and I receive quite a number of dream requests that involve religious themes and images. I thought that from time to time I would present a few of these as an adjunct to my spiritual and psychological musings.

The following dream was sent not too long ago. I have redacted any reference to the dreamer and made a couple of minor changes to aid in flow, otherwise the dream and response are word-for-word.

 The Dream:

I am a Lay Preacher in a church in the United Kingdom. Before the dream I had been reading one of my study units Christ is Alive. I used to only remember the waking moment of a dream, but now I sleep less heavily in a sort of 50/50 world. Often in the dreams I hear a narration or overhear what is said. I had a waking dream this morning and many of the symbol words are not listed on your site. So would be pleased for your view as I am not an interpreter of dreams.

Joseph and Mary where in a garden [&] I was listening to them as they spoke and saw them; it was when she was young. Below is what I heard.

Joseph was saying I will build you a shelter in the garden, I know you and your cousin Elizabeth enjoy sitting in the garden knitting. But the weather is getting colder, you need to keep warm I will build you a shelter, so you can enjoy the sun but out of the cold wind. I will build you an arboretum out of wood, darkened on the inside, and will surround it outside by close-planted cedar and larch trees. I will make an entrance by removing one of the stone pillars and I will make it ‘L’ shaped with a space for your donkey. I will make a seat for you to sit on from a piece of finely polished oak that I have in my workshop. I then saw a view of the finished arboretum before I awoke. That was my dream of Joseph & Mary

A Possible Interpretation:

Let’s focus on some of the images e.g. Joseph and Mary as the parents, or caretakers of Jesus: This may represent your own “care-taking” responsibilities. The garden: This can represent a need to cultivate new skills, or your spirituality. Love is also a factor in this dream. If it were a representation of the garden of Eden it could represent the need to recapture your innocence, or your faith (building this garden might also suggest a building of faith). Building of gardens or being within gardens might also suggest some career development needed. The shelter: This may be a security symbol, but could also represent you, your inner self (much as a house or building would). It could also reflect your fear of things, ideas, and/or people who are different from you.

Trees in general, may refer to your hopes, desires, and personal development. Larch trees are often shamanic symbols of strength and protection as is Cedar (though Cedar is also a symbol for healing).

The warm sun and the cold wind symbols are essentially opposite in nature and may reflect that enlightenment has its colder side even though you are trying to avoid it e.g. shelter from it. This could be read as a need to be conscious of some vulnerability, or that you may need to be open to whatever comes your way. The “sun” can also represent “son”, in this case Jesus, while wind can be the breath of God, but it can also represent some turmoil/stress (inner or outer), especially if the wind is strong.

Pillars can represent strength and stability, something that holds you up (such as faith). It can be how you’re standing up to the stress, or how you’re being ‘supported’ by others. Using it to create a doorway can be about personal transformation into something more personally fulfilling.

I’ll add some of these images to the dictionary, thanks. (This has been done in the Dreaming Wizard Dictionary) http://thedreamingwizard.com/dream-dictionary_263.html

Because many dreamers have asked for a broader list of dream symbols with their possible meanings I have also collected over 5000 dream images from over 3000 dreamers and included them in a new book “Morpheus Speaks: The Book of Dreams” coming out in paperback this November (more on this later).

The Waking Dream:

 The dreamer wrote back that they were indeed having a crisis of faith after two failed sermons, an argument with a church member, and an admonition from the lead pastor. He had to temper his own ego in order to make a course correction. This he did and has had two successful Sundays at the podium since.

The dreamer’s inner place of wisdom came to him in a time of need and offered solutions for growth and healing. Trusting this place within you can add great power to your everyday life. Dreams come to us in part for our health and well-being. They are also a place where the mind works through the experiences of the day. Being aware of this process can give you a leg-up in dealing with what life throws at you.

Love and Acknowledgment

Spiritual+Love.JPGIn one of my dreams a group of frustrated and critical women, an un-nourishing restaurant experience, and a missing suitcase representing unacknowledgment, unrealized longings and social neediness, and a symbol of independence and of not going somewhere in life confronted me. Whew! With dreams like that who needs stress?

But through my dream and subsequent reflection I learned something about myself. Once again I noticed that I was still looking for approval from my mother and as was usual, I didn’t get it. She’s been dead for 13 years now and the part of me that’s still looking for acknowledgment is the part of me that tried to get it 60+ years ago.

I also learned again that there’s no satisfying acknowledgement from outside myself when the inside has yet to acknowledge. I project the unsatisfied acknowledgement onto the stage of the waking world and then blame the waking world inhabitants for not acknowledging me properly. I’ve known this for quite some time, but I always seem to forget until the universe brings it up to me yet again, and again, and again.

This is not to say that the waking world inhabitants don’t have their own acknowledgement issues. I’ve observed many folks either delivering conditional acknowledgements, or throwing up subtle and not so subtle barriers toward acknowledgment coming their way.

Conditional acknowledgment, the kind where one hand delivers while another takes away such as “He’s really good for someone as awkward as he is!” Is like no acknowledgement at all. Don’t bother, I say. Don’t toss an acknowledgment that’s going to drop to the floor before the intended receiver can catch it. You won’t make any goals that way.

Acknowledgment is a tricky thing, we’re all looking for it and it’s all about the approval we didn’t get, or perceived not getting, from our parents. Acknowledgment can be energizing and empowering, or de-energizing and disempowering depending on the sincerity and quality of the delivery. Better to just say “good job” than to get all flowery and come across as disingenuous.

I used to present a workshop a number of years ago called “The Acknowledgment Workshop”. I spent a great deal of time helping people discover what acknowledgment was and was not and what were some of the barriers to giving it and some of the obstacles to getting it e.g. accepting it. What I didn’t do then was to talk about the inner dialog that many of us have that makes it difficult to present, or accept, nor did I spend much time talking about who’s really responsible for getting and giving acknowledgment.

Bottom line– Personal responsibility is more than being responsible for your actions, it is also being responsible for what you project onto your experiences and onto the actions of others. Responsibility includes your interpretation of reality and what you do with that.

Acknowledgment is a dance between the receiver and the giver with each responsible for what is delivered and what is received. We owe it to the one to whom we are giving the acknowledgment to make sure that it is given in a way that it can be received and that it actually is taken in the manner it was given. It is also incumbent on the receiver to communicate to the giver what is wanted and needed.

That last part is by far the most difficult because it can be quite embarrassing and it has the potential for disempowering the giver e.g. it can be seen as a criticism of the acknowledgment and thus insult the giver. Mostly I wait until another time and place and unrelated to the off-putting acknowledgment to make a statement of what I need regarding an acknowledgment, though if it’s just between the other person and me, I have been known to take them aside and let them know that I didn’t really feel the acknowledgment, but for an acknowledgment junkie like me that doesn’t always happen e.g. why take the chance that whatever acknowledgment was there will then be rescinded?

I also learned (again) that one cannot receive or deliver true, unconditional acknowledgment through the ego-self. It is through the larger soul-self that acknowledgment is experienced. It is through that part of each of us that is, and experiences, love. And as with everything meaningful, that’s where acknowledgment comes from either in it’s giving, or it’s receiving–love.

Acknowledgment has the best chance of traversing the distance between people when it comes out of that place of love and is embraced by the same place in the other. Love is never conditional,half-hearted, or self-serving.

Yet love in the form of an acknowledgment isn’t always about “peace and pleasure”*. Love can come to one whether consciously intended or unintended by the giver, in a way that makes the receiver look deeply into their self to see what lies in their heart of hearts.

The Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran wrote in his Prophet pointing out another level of love,

 

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

 But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure*,

Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;

For love is sufficient unto love.”

Though Gibran may not have meant it this way, I believe that there are some secrets of the heart that need to be made known so that they do not prevent it’s true expression. In this way a conditional acknowledgment can be in the service of love because it focuses your attention on what you’re doing with it and provides the opportunity to ask yourself why. For me the pain of an unsatisfying acknowledgment can be useful and healing. My heart is often opened through pain and thus I try not to reject its healing process.

Epic tales, epic symbolism

 

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The Battle between Good and evil –by Robert Adelman found on Deviant Art

 

 

As a boy I was fascinated by the tales of Middle Earth as told by J.R.R. Tolkien. I also knew that if one fought bravely enough that good could eventually triumph over evil.

As I grew older I became aware of the Northern Norse mythology that Tolkien used as the foundational source material for his work. But unlike his stories I learned that the most striking feature of this mythology was that all was hopeless, that the apocalyptic battle at Rognarök was humanity’s doom, and that no matter how bravely the hero fought the monsters and giants would defeat humanity and the gods of Asgard.

But I also learned that for the gods and heroes and heroines of the North loss in battle gave meaning and mettle to the warrior who courageously stood their ground and fought on regardless of the fact that all was hopeless.

What’s this? I was dismayed that these epic battles would ultimately end with evil triumphing over good. How could this be? The purity of courage be damned I thought, it needed to be rewarded and besides winning and defeating was the goal of all good and evil confrontations or so I thought. Oh yes and by winning of course was meant that “good” would always prevail.

It wasn’t until years later that I achieved some insight into these wonderful tales from the North.

From the writings of Carl Jung I was introduced to the concept of the Conflict of Opposites and the effect of either ignoring or battling the shadow i.e. evil aspects of our personal or collective nature. In this context. either ignoring or actively suppressing the shadow one gives it power, diminishes their own power, and leads to their being overwhelmed by it.

I surmised that if Jung were right, then the hopelessness and defeat so often celebrated in the Northern myths becomes an allegorical warning to mankind regarding its relationship with the shadow aspects of its personality. Is it possible that when one resists or denies the shadow either in themselves or the society in which they live that its power over us becomes paramount in that our violent response only adds to the violence of the shadow and increases its power and makes impossible to overcome? Oh I won’t deny that some battles can be won but ultimately the shadow keeps returning ever more powerfully. Will we never defeat it and have a permanent peace?

We are both good and evil. So what does this say about a God in whose image we are created? If then God is also both, to resist this would seem futile and self-defeating.

I remember that in a long ago Judo class the teacher talked about not meeting force with force to overcome ones opponent but by using the opponent’s own energy to defeat them. To me now this simple strategy seems a  useful metaphor for dealing with the shadow forces of our nature. If we allow ourselves to become the shadow by denying it we will be defeated no matter how glorious or courageous our actions but if we learn to accept this darker aspect as part of ourselves and turn its energy toward good it can add to our own best intentions and we can prevail.

 

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What determines what reality is or is not?

 

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As I’ve so often said we each project so much of ourselves onto the world that we see that  reality becomes rather complicated. Because reality has no meaning other than what we as individuals assign to it or what we collectively assign to it we have an empty journal or a blank script or canvas if you will with which to work.

Essentially we get to stand before every moment of our lives and paint our world using whatever colors we like. We also have the ability to just be curators or patrons of the art that others create, or to paint pictures for others to enjoy, or to paint just for ourselves. Like an artist we can become so immersed in the process that we forget to step back from the canvas now and then to admire the work or to evaluate it in the context of an even greater picture.

The picture that we each create is the story of us, what’s inside of us, all our dreams, hopes and fears. Sometimes the pallet has many colors, sometimes only grays, blacks and muddy browns, but it is us who wield the brush through the pigmented oils given to each by virtue of our being here.

I have found that for me the ego-self flashes and flares, fumes and stews sometimes mixing so many colors that the balance skews or the mix becomes muddied. But when I can get this part of myself out of the way amazing creativity and clarity can show up. When the soul is hidden, oppressed, or damaged there is no art, just a confusing mud.

Now I’m not talking about chaos because even in what seems chaotic there’s a rhyme, an underlying beauty. I’m talking about the dull, soggy, sloppy mess we accept as life and that once in a while we escape from through some form of distraction. This isn’t the life of the creative soul but the confused state of the limited, and limiting, persona– the sleeping consciousness. And this part of us represents so little of what we are that it scarcely qualifies to be called an “I”,  “me”, “you” or an “us”.

There is so much hidden behind the walls erected by the fearful and arrogant ego that we’ve begun to think that this wasteland is all there is.

Not so!

We, that is you and I, are going on an expedition to find who we really are. But this expedition’s purpose is not to arrive at a predetermined destination, for where we are going nothing is predetermined and doesn’t exist in any one place. We are going to uncover that part of us that doesn’t exist in time or place. It is that part of us that will never die for it’s never been born– that which came before the physical us and will continue long after the physical ceases. It’s the still, quiet place in all of us, that knows the real us.