Two more synchronistic events

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Enough said?

 

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

Through the Looking-Glass– Lewis Carroll

The difference between objective reality and spiritual reality

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What defines the parts of ourselves? Take the hand for example, what defines a hand? Is it the five digits radiating from an elongated palm configuration? Is it its color, its ‘jointedness’, its purpose or usefulness? Or is it defined by what it isn’t– the empty space around it? The emptiness surrounding anything creates the essence of the experience. There is the objective reality of the hand and the ineffable experience of the space within which it exists. The content of hand exists within the context of not hand, emptiness. For me this is the spiritual, the context for the objective.

The spiritual is what defines, makes room for, the existence of everything.

Without nothing there would be no things. From the emptiness arises beauty. And beauty enlivens the soul. Within the beauty of an object there is the experience of impermanence, silence and if just experienced as is, meditation. All three are spiritual truths– an expression of the soul.

Each of us are also defined by what we are not i.e. the context created by all the things, nature and people around us create room for what we’re being. But that only makes us a proper noun within reality. Its only when these conditions interrelate that we become context for our lives. It’s only when we are creating that we become something other than mere objects. For example, when we consciously create beauty we create a portal to the soul, the unknown and unknowable.

When we get lost in that space between objects we are confronted with the mystical, the ineffable. But it is these spaces in our consciousness that can be vivifying i.e. enlivening. It can be the empty spaces that connect us with all there is and highlight the soul within. The rational mind cannot perceive what lies within the empty space for there is nothing rational in there. But there is a presence that defies definition though when sensed can cause the conscious mind to transcend its objectivity and enter the realm of the spirit.

That same presence exists between the sounds we hear, it is in the silence between words, it is Turiya, the fourth state of consciousness– that which follows the sound of the universe.

Where did the soul go?

 

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Basically I think all humans are children; whether healthy, hurt, or abused, playful or withdrawn, happy or sad, expressive or withdrawn a part of us never grows up. We learn to put on masks so as to look appropriate and acceptable because to not do so runs the risk of rejection. We learn to say, “I don’t care” when we really do. We learn to hide any emotion that might result in a challenge to our survival. And it’s not just physical survival we care about but our psychological, emotional and ego survival as well.

We come into this world with a number of personalities some of which are heightened and some of which are squashed. The society of children and the parents of children who have their own inner child squashed and compromised inadvertently pass on their hurts and limits until eventually very little of the soul that came into the world is reflected in the being that is enlivened by it.

There comes a time that if we express the free spirit of our childhood at all it’s only through the overindulgence of drugs, alcohol, Halloween dress-up, or singing in the shower.

Perhaps it’s time to break out of the box we’ve built and trapped ourselves in. It’s safe, yes, but safe from what? Life? All too often we are the enemy we are hiding from. We are the fox in our own henhouse.

What then? How can we protect ourselves from ourselves?

But I don’t think we came here to be safe and well protected. We came here to run, jump, play in the mud, finger paint, sing, act crazy, love and be loved. But it’s so hard to do that inside a cramped little box. The ego likes boxes but the soul does not. We try so hard to be accepted and acceptable to everyone and everything that we lose the very side of us that came here to play. And one day we wake up and say, “Where did you go?”

But slow down, take a deep breath, be quiet, and listen and just maybe you’ll hear a little voice from deep within declare,

“I’m still here, deep down beyond the masks, the walls, the fear and worry. Just take one step outside, then another and another and you’ll find me again, waiting to play. Knock on the door and giggle and romp with me, sing silly songs and we’ll tell each other stupid knock-knock jokes. Look foolish and ignore the parent for just a few playful moments, there’s plenty of time to be serious later. Don’t waste another precious moment, come to my house and let’s play.”

 

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A Blog about Soul

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Recently I received an email asking why I write about Faeries and gods, goddesses, things that go bump in the night, and alchemy? Why don’t I just write about dreams given that it’s a blog about dreams?

Fundamentally it’s all a dream whether you’re awake or asleep. We assign meaning to every object and event in our experience whether awake or asleep.

We don’t know reality no matter how much we study it, assign names to it or try to understand it. My blog is not about reality. It’s not really about dreams either.

Ultimately my blog is only a reflection of my soul. I am trained as a scientist holding advanced degrees in behavioral science, psychology, and education. I believe in the scientific process toward understanding the world about and within. But I also have an indefinable something called a soul that is not always fed by science and the secular understanding of the world. The more I learned and thought I understood I still found an empty place within me, a void if you will that could not be filled by intellect alone. The truth seems to be that there is a great something that cannot be defined with all our science and technology.

I write about mystery, deep wonder and awe for these are at the core of our being, our soul. I dig deep within the imagination to find the grist of what sustains me emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. I call this soul and soul is the felt vitality and essence of being human.

Our dreams come from the imaginal, the core of our being, and can open us to the ineffable, the indefinable part of ourselves that gives us life, vitality, and meaning. Without soul there is no meaning just mechanics. Without soul you and I cannot touch each other and we would feel hollow and empty.

Our dreams come from the soul and are continuously telling us what is needed and wanted in order to feel vital and truly alive. Our dreams reflect all our aspirations and where our meaning can be found. They come from the place of our myths, poetry, creativity, and art of all kinds. In short, they reflect who and what we really are.

So my answer to the above question is that I write about soul as I discover all its parts and variations through the medium of my dreams and my reflection upon them.

Do whatever you do for the sheer joy of it

 

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Do whatever you do for the sheer joy of it and to honor, that which gave you the life to do it.

I had a dream the once where I was watching a small airplane struggling to gain altitude, to free itself from the gravity restraints of the Earth below. The engine sputtered and it looked as though it was going to crash into the side of a bridge. At the last moment it pulled up sharply, did a backward barrel roll, and barely missed the ground as it pulled out. I thought him a fool until I could see the pilot grinning as he turned the plane into a corkscrew roll, climbed and dove again, oblivious to the danger of failure and screaming with joy. Then I understood and grinned with him.

The dream reminded me of the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach*. Jonathan was a seagull who lived to fly. He practiced impossible dives and rolls for the shear joy of the flight. The other gulls frowned in disgust and judgment because that wasn’t appropriate behavior for a seagull, but that didn’t affect Jonathan, because he wasn’t doing what he was doing for the approval of others–Jonathan was doing it for his own soul.

Sometimes I find myself dismayed at how few people show interest in my work with dreams. I keep looking at my blog, book, and website statistics to validate that I’m succeeding. But the real truth for myself is that I do what I do because of the sheer joy of doing it–I do it to free my soul and to let it soar. When I allow the judgments of others to define me, there’s no freedom to soar, much struggle, and no joy.

Yes, it’s nice to get acknowledgment for who you are and what you’re doing, but engineering your life so as to gain acceptance is a trap with no joy in it. Yes, you may need to work toward acceptance in order to advance or maintain a career, that’s a good strategy sometimes, but notice that the people who are flying high sometimes take risks as well and nearly hit the ground time and again. Like Jonathan it is in their nature to soar. Deep down I believe that it is in all our natures to break free of our self-imposed restraints and do a barrel-roll through the clouds.

Deep down beneath our cultural, social, ego-bound, and well-trained personae there is a soul struggling to be free of the gravity of our restraints. The first thing to do is to acknowledge that you have such a soul, such a desire, such a need to be free– to fly as your self and not as someone else’s image of what you should be.

 

“He spoke of very simple things- that it is right for a gull to fly, that freedom is the very nature of his being, that whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form.

 “Set aside,” came a voice from the multitude, “even if it be the Law of the Flock?”

 “The only true law is that which leads to freedom,” Jonathan said. “There is no other.”

Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

 

It won’t be easy, even Jonathan crashed a few times before he got the hang of it, but that gnawing void in him kept pushing to be free.

Practice being free, a little at first until you begin to master its technique. Accept that there might be failures and that from them you’ll learn.

Dedicate everything you do to something bigger than yourself. Over time this will free you from your worry-filled ego-self that wants to be accepted, to blend, and not look too weird. Jonathan may have looked as though he was doing what he was doing just for his own pleasure, but in reality he was honoring the creator who never intended that we should constrain ourselves and become servant to our limited images.

Give thanks to your own wings, your own gifts, and the time you’ve been given on Earth to learn to soar.

 

“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way”.”

Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

 

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*Bach, Richard, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a story”, Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc., N.Y., 1970

Peace: An expression of the ‘free range’ soul.

 

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If we are to have peace at any time we need to shift the inner and outer dialog from “How do we prevent violence, how do we make things safer or how do we get rid of fear?” to one of “how do we make ourselves peaceful and soulful?” You see the difference, from a focus on the negative to one focusing on the positive.

It’s a moment-by-moment choice to either act out of fear that is out of a negative context, to one where we choose to act out of love, to express our soulful self.

When I use the term fear I’m talking about the fear that one may experience in jealousy i.e. if you show interest in someone else or love for someone else that means less interest or love for me or the fear that if you have more money than me that means there’s less for me (note how close money mirrors love here). There’s also the fear that if you get to be more powerful than me that means I’ll be less powerful or if you get to be right that means I’m less right or even (shudder) wrong.

This is all ego stuff because that’s what the ego is all about. The ego knows that it’s small and weak so it believes it needs to protect itself and it does that by convincing you that you are small and weak and the only way you can overcome that is through protecting yourself from any further loss– after all there’s only just so much love, safety, money, and power to go around– right?

Wrong! It’s unlimited and the only way to access that power is through love, compassion, caring, giving i.e. the continuous expression of the soul.

Acting out of fear only generates more fear– it sells guns, security systems and elects politicians but it doesn’t make for a peaceful world. It only creates a fearful world with lots of guns, walls (both physical and emotional), domination, and hoarding to prevent loss. And because that doesn’t work to make us feel more peaceful we pile on more of the same– more security, more laws, more and bigger walls, and more restrictions– simply put guns never bring about peace, love brings about peace.

So if this were such a simple thing why haven’t we done it yet? Because peacefulness is not something external to us or something or someone we can manipulate to our will as we’ve been led to believe, it’s an internal condition– an expression of the soul. We cannot be peaceful without being in touch with and expressing our soul. And that’s what most of have forgotten how to do, express their soul– we choose fear instead of love, we choose not to find answers to love but to find answers to fear.

When we operate out of love whatever comes our way can be embraced in love– as a way to express love. For example, I don’t always feel love for my wife or my friends but I always try to choose to act out of love. I don’t love a bigoted message or messenger but I can choose to express another way of being that shows love and compassion.

Many in this country, or the world for that matter, have so walled themselves off with fear that they have become soulless. We spend so much precious time talking about banning people, closing doors in their face, building walls around ourselves, and restricting people’s freedoms which is all soulless rhetoric and only serves to rid us of our soul expression, of love, community, and the essence of ourselves and our lives. We need to resist the temptation to embrace the negative thus living our lives in fear.

We need to embrace our better natures and not those of our basal, more animal aspects. We are not what we think we are, what our tiny egos have convinced us we are. We are so very much bigger than that. When we truly get that, miracles happen, peace happens and there’s no need for the walls against fear.

 

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There be magic in one’s soul

 

 

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From deviant art.com

 

Some years ago I wrote a short story highlighting a young man’s adventure into magic, the kind of magic that we all can administer if we knew but how. It is 9:30 am here where I live and the first of the seven chapters will appear in The Dark Knight of the Soul blog this evening. Why the time-delay? Because this story can only be told when the sun has set and the mind leaves the illusions of the day and begins its journey toward sleep. Each chapter opens the heart to a place found only in ones dreams and for that reason I highly recommend that after reading you be open to the dreams of the nights following for they will magically add depth to the experience and take you further into the story than reading alone.

But first I present a little groundwork for the story.

I’ve written about magic on several occasions. You know, the kind of magic of the every day, a gorgeous sunrise, an airplane with outstretched arms leaping into the air and defying gravity, the silence of a redwood forest, fireflies darting through the branches, the birth of a child, falling in love, the gift of forgiveness, or a prayer answered are all forms of magic. There are also remarkable coincidences that transform life, graces that should never have happened, epiphanies, and miracles. There are moments when somehow you know that you are connected to everyone and everything else and that life is not just about survival.

That’s all magic, but sometimes, just sometimes, I ache for the magic of faeries, wizards and unicorns, potions, spells, and charms. I want to go where the shaman goes in his trance or to raise my magic staff and vanquish all the evildoers. I want to fly, ride dragons and hunt with Elves in a forest.

But when I look more closely I find that what I really want is the energy, the wonder, and awe that lie deep within my heart, my core, and my immortal soul. This is why I search, question and dig into the unknown. It’s all there hidden beneath the conscious images of life.

There is a glowing orb in the darkness that I sense more than see and that when touched it transforms all that I see. It is the other me whom I knew as a child but somehow lost touch with along the way to being grown up. It’s the magic of the child you were and still are, and when in his or her space you remember whom you are and are once again drawn to explore anything and everything because it’s there. And again you remember that you chose this because that’s what souls want to do– explore and express themselves fully.

The process of growing up often leaves a void in one’s soul and only the magical can fill it up. I think we all long for that place of never ending imagination where everything was possible and you were the true hero of your own story. There’s a certain safety and peacefulness in a world of faeries, dragons and unicorns, because there’s always a personal wizard that can make it so. We have lost touch with that personal wizard and thus feel lost in the world of man where no one can protect us from the evil.

My stories are designed to help regain the lost wizard. In the Archipelago of Dreams (2011) Robert regains what he had lost, though it took him many pains to do so. Hidden within the story is a word map that if understood and followed can lead one back to their core self and the lost wizard of their soul. In The Dragon’s Treasure (2009) the reader is lead back to the magic within them that waits patiently to be released once again and the skills of the wizard that resides in all of us are slowly revealed– it is a book that every Wizard’s Apprentice should have on their bookshelf.

Over the next few weeks I’ll explore this nearly lost art both in story and research, through the shaman’s mind and pieces of fact and lore that have been passed down through the ages. Tonight jump into the Dark Knight’s link to begin the story of a young apprentice’s awakening and his journey into the light. Tread carefully through all the pages to come for buried there is magic beyond your dreams.

Soul work: Letting go, is great therapy and great healing

 

 

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A psychology professor walked around a room while teaching stress management to a class. As he raised a glass of water, everyone expected he’d ask if the glass were “half empty or half full”. But instead he inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” The students called out a number of answers.

He then replied, “The weight doesn’t matter because it depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for 20 minutes, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for an hour or even a day, my arm will feel numb, paralyzed and shaky. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer it’s held, the heavier it becomes.”

He then continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Worry about them for a while and nothing happens. Worry about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you worry about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing much of anything.” In short, remember to put the glass down.

There’s another story told by an old Zen master who told of two monks who were walking near a river. At one point they came upon a woman who looked upset for somehow she had become separated from her child who was on the other side of the river.

The older monk went up to her and asked if he could help and she said that she needed to get across the river but could not swim. Much to the concern of the younger monk the older monk said, “climb on my back and I’ll take you across”. And so she did and all three waded across. They bid their farewell but much later down the road the younger monk was so upset that he couldn’t be quiet any longer and had to say something to the older monk. “You carried that woman across the river! He shrieked. You know we are not supposed to have anything to do with women!”

The older monk smiled and replied, “Why are you still upset? You are still carrying her, I left her at the water’s edge some time ago!”

When we hold on to things they tend to burden us and make our journey through life heavier and more burdensome.

There’s also the story of the businessman who goes to a guru so as to find inner peace and the answers to life. When he gets there he sits before the master and tells him to give him the answers to life. The master pours him some tea but soon the tea overflows the cup and on to the table. The businessman gets all excited and cries out, “You are overflowing the cup, no more tea can go in!”

“Precisely, said the master. The cup is like your mind, it is overflowing with its own ideas and there’s no more room to hear what I have to teach! Empty your mind and then we shall talk.”

We can’t really hear anything new if our minds are full of old thoughts and ideas. Whether it’s ideas, beliefs, or suffering holding on to them makes it hard to move on. Here’s a quote from Shunryu Suzuki that hits me close to home:

 “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ”

Shunryu Suzuki

As I’ve said before one of the best ways of letting go of the past and the suffering for what you would have wanted reality to be is to forgive it for what it was. To forgive our hurts and those who hurt us takes great courage, but it also relieves us of great burdens.

Unless of course you insist on holding on to your hurts because at least they’re familiar, or they offer you the chance to not be responsible for what you’ve become. Blaming the past for what you are or are not keeps you from moving on, or at the least makes it damn hard– harder than it needs to be.

Forgiveness is the greatest gift that you can give yourself. It can empty and heal your mind of past insults, self or other-inflicted. Don’t make it so hard!

 

 

 

The unity that brings wholeness

 

 

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In our dreams as in our waking lives we seek connection through friendships, family, weddings, marriages, and sexual experiences.

Because we experience ourselves as separate and not being able to inwardly know what is not us we are profoundly strange to each other and spend much of our waking and sleeping lives gravitating toward some kind of unification.

Ultimately this may reflect the deep desire within our souls to unite with something that is essentially not ourselves. We do this by assuming a persona that reflects what we feel is missing in our lives. We do this in our relationships as well often choosing to be with someone who shows us parts of themselves that are alien to us or who shows parts of us that have lain dormant until brought to life through the experience of the other.

Each of us has several aspects or “natures”. There is the passionate, the spiritual, and the sensual side to all of us in varying degrees and much of what we do in our lives is focused toward finding experience that fulfills our drive to live out our true nature i.e. to express our souls fully.

To that end our dreams not only give insight into ourselves, but help us to intuit the mystery of the other as well thus moving us toward the unity that brings wholeness.

The Presence of Absence

 

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Shōrin-zu byōbu — left side of a diptych by Hasgawa Tohaku who used negative space to define the image.

 

Not too long ago I ran across a phrase that so accurately represented my experience of the dream world that I had the feeling of having been lost yet finally coming home to myself. This was especially true as it related to all those times when I’ve awakened to find only a whisper, or trace, of having had a dream but otherwise lost in a strange emptiness that try as I would couldn’t be filled.

The phrase is the “presence of absence”.

As soon as I read it images of blank sheets of paper, the negative spaces of an artist’s canvas, and that wisp of and rapidly fading memory of a world lost upon awakening and how each defined and gave form to the reality present and the reality to be. To me the dream and the blank spaces that give presence by their absence are where the ineffable soul meets us in the bounded world of the material and where what can’t be described describes what is, was, and is yet to be.

I am always excited by the blank sheet of paper, or blank document of the word processor for in these is present the beauty of the infinite potential of the soul’s creativity. I’m never sure what’s going to happen when I begin to write– each filled blankness being a journey never taken before.

The artist’s use of what is not there to hint at what is has always fascinated me and helped me to realize that often reality is defined more by the abstract and the potential than the concrete and fixed.

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Another example of the use of negative space i.e. what is not there to define what is there.

I also feel the experience of something that becomes more present by its absence every time I am stirred by some event or object to recall a close friend or loved one. In some ways they have become closer through their not being than they were when they were here e.g. I am more frequently reminded of them as I travel about in the haunts of our shared past.

As I looked at the phrase again a memory of a moment in time when I was wandering with friends along a forest trail, my mind becalmed, my body luxuriating in the undefined sounds and smells of the world about me when something quite remarkable occurred. At one moment I was a ‘Being’ walking amongst the other Beings of the forest and in the very next second a new presence consumed me, separation disappeared, everything dissolved, and then folded into one. I was gripped by an ineffable joy that filled me with the never before experience of being the whole of creation. At that moment I knew that somehow I had touched the face of God. No object was he or I for that matter, but its presence became very real in the absence of me.

The presence of absence has often been a defining experience for me and has opened doors into all new manner of realities.