A little night music

 

Nighttime at a roadside inn somewhere near Mt. Shasta.

 

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Banners of blood red and yellow clouds shining brightly in the distance turn grey silhouette upon a mountain’s edge at days end.

There’s a holy feeling as quiet descends across the valley. In communion I stand in an empty field singing to the night.

A bright flash lights the distant mountain kingdom where war sabers of cold and warm meet. The gods of day and night having one last joust.

A knight of the road dismounts his chuffing beast, fills its hungry belly with a sulfurous black fluid, and again flies into the now inky sky.

 

 

How is a dream like a parable?

 

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Both are allegorical in that they both point to something and teach a lesson. “That’s like a fable! You might say.” Though both parables and fables teach lessons, the former uses people, whereas the latter uses animals. Both teach morals, both are a form of guidance.

However, a parable generally refers to spiritual lessons and in this way is not unlike many dreams that help one to develop a connection with their spirit. Over the centuries many people have claimed to have received messages from God through the medium of the dream. Throughout the history of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) dreams were said to have been sent from God to certain individuals that were supposed to be used for the good of all people, or to advance the understanding of one so that they may do more good for others. Parables were for all of these religions a means for communicating religious and spiritual concepts.

Why do parables, fables and dreams exist? The answer may be because that they are easier to remember than a direct example. “Dreams, easier to remember?” You say incredulously.

We don’t remember many dreams these days because it is not encouraged by the culture, but once a dream comes through, it’s hard to forget, especially if you’ve figured out what it means. But just because we don’t use them much, dreams haven’t gone the way of the appendix. Ever notice how much you dream after you start reading about dreams?

Mysteries bewilder us and tend to make us pay attention and to focus. Few of us would want to leave a mystery unsolved. Bewilderment makes us strive to know why, or what, or how–it is the carrot at the end of the stick. Dream symbols also beg that we interpret them just as we tend to add meaning to every event and person in our waking life (though this is most often an unexamined ego-supporting process where we project ourselves onto everything and then label it as reality).

Unlocking the meaning of a dream is not unlike discovering the meaning of a parable in that the process starts with asking the right questions and noting that these questions are affected by our beliefs regarding the symbols. Certain questions will often determine the answers, or at least bias them. So before you ask the questions, take a look at the foundation that they sit on. If you already have an answer, that will drive the question and bend it toward your answer. You see this phenomenon frequently with regard to news articles. This is just another form of, “We see what we want to see.”

 

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The Good Shepherd*, mosaic in 
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna
1st half of 5th century

 

What did this parable really mean? If the word “shepherd” were a metaphor for soul, your soul (your guide), what would the parable mean?

Is it possible to read this parable in yet another way, other than the traditional shepherd/flock metaphor? Might Jesus be telling us of our own divinity, our own spiritual nature and its connection with God? Might he be showing us how we can be following the wrong shepherd (the ego-self)? Might the guide that is within us all and that can come to us through a dream be the unconscious self?

Parables and dreams encourage us to dig deeper into their meaning and then apply the lessons to our everyday lives. Neither have to be an accurate depiction of actual events– they only need to point to the idea being conveyed in order to be instructive.

 

 

*Photo by-The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.

 

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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Two more synchronistic events

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

Enough said?

 

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

Through the Looking-Glass– Lewis Carroll

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 My desire for her is but her desire for me.

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

 I dream her with every breath

 as she is the breath that dreams me.

–RJ Cole 2017

 

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

Rumi wisdom: A different take on “what you seek you shall find”

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You are searching the world for

treasure but the real treasure is

yourself. If you are tempted by

bread, you will find only bread.

What you seek for you become.”

–Rumi

 

Search for intellectual understanding and you’ll miss the spirit. Understanding is the booby prize in life. It will not help you find your soul or manifest your spiritual self. It will not fill the void in your life or provide any lasting meaning. Seek ways to love, to manifest your soul, and find your spiritual self and you will find your true self.

Seek beauty and you’ll become it. Seek outer pleasures and they will fail you. Be in wonder and awe and you will be filled with the spirit. Seek to satisfy the desires of the ego and you’ll miss your real self.

Seek anger and hate and you will become it. Seek mystery and it will fill you with love for self and others. Seek out your shadow self and it will set you free for it is only when you hide it or hide from it that it has control over you. Seek only things and you’ll miss the intangibles, the ethereal, and divine. Seek to give and you’ll receive the whole world. Seek to possess and be possessed. Seek to just be and nothing will own you but you.

Seeking to find that which agrees with you results in missing the truth. If seeking to keep someone you will lose them. Trying to find a truth that fits your reality will forever blind you to reality.

None of these need your understanding in order to become, just their practice will make it so.

 

“You have woken up late,

lost and perplexed

but don’t rush to your books

looking for knowledge.

Pick up a flute instead and

let your heart play.”

–Rumi

Capturing the divinity in everyday things

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

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

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

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

Consciousness. What is it?

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



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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“and Grace will lead me home”

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The other night I had a dream where I was being acknowledged for something I felt I hadn’t really earned. This morning I wondered where in my life I might be claiming unearned acknowledgement when I realized that perhaps the negative might also be true. Where in my life might I be rejecting acknowledgment e.g. claiming unacknowledgment? Then it came to me that I’ve often received acknowledgment that seemed to come from nowhere, unbidden and having done nothing to earn it.

This is the stuff of religions as in the mystical hand of the universe intervening for no reason into the lives of ordinary people. Some people would call this Grace.

Sometimes acknowledgment is just acceptance, assent and affirmation i.e. a declaration of your right to exist, just as you are and as an appreciation of that fact.

There were many times in my life when had not grace been there, I might not physically still be here. Many of us have those traumas in life where we wonder why we’re still here. I’ve been in a situation where in combat the person near me died while I continued to stand. I have stumbled on many occasions where I could have met my death, or suffered extreme trauma and yet I survived unscathed. There have been times when events have presented themselves in such a way that doors of opportunity opened that I had never known existed and I’ve walked through into a whole new world.

None of this happened because I was more special, or had somehow earned the grace offered. The truth is I don’t know why–why me, and why not them? Many of them certainly deserved it more than I.

 

“Through many dangers, toils and snares…

I have already come.

T’was Grace that brought me safe thus far…

and Grace will lead me home.”

–John Newton

 

That line from the hymn Amazing Grace speaks to me like never before. Its meaning for me has evolved over the years. The use of the word, “home” not only refers to a spiritual home, but to the place where my soul resides and where the body rests, or interacts with the other “bodies” of this world. In a very profound way, everywhere I find myself is my home in that it is becoming a reflection, or projection, of the home I carry with me. I consider it grace to have lived long enough to experience my life in this way, not that I’m always conscious of that experience in that I still need continuous reminders like the other night’s dream.

I hope you experience your life as the Grace that it is.

 

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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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