Poetry and the loss of soul

12006963_f520.jpgAs I sat working on a workshop on poetry I’m developing I began to list answers to the question, “What is poetry?”

When I came to the end of my list I wrote down, “Everything, and every event in life is poetry. The soul of our being is a poet!”

Poetry speaks of and from the imaginal. When it “speaks of” it’s the soul trying to understand itself and in the “speaking from” it is talking about a nonlinear, non-rational, imaginal, and animating force behind the human quest and thirst for meaning.

Poetry for me is an imaginative activity that encompasses everything in life. Imagination is at the root of all poetry and may very well be the essence of our souls as well. It seems that when my soul desires to break free of my egoistic rational and literal interpretation of reality it speaks to me through poetry and metaphor in my dreams and the events and people in the world around me.

Poetry is about images not literalisms or naturalisms. It is about alternative ways of seeing the world and ourselves. Poetry helps us reconnect with our soul.I say “reconnect” because our society seems to be suffering a loss of soul where it has lost its connections with others and with self. This affects those within the society by robbing them of their sense of belonging and communion.

Our personal myth has also gotten lost, as has that of the larger myth of the greater society. Meaning has become blurred, as has our reason for living.

The current social situation infecting the country and the world is a symptom of our loss of soul. Radical and violent approaches to regaining what is lost reflect the unrecognized panic people are feeling associated with this loss. But this panic is also a symptom of the loss of soul and trying to treat symptoms is futile; It may temporarily relieve the pain but doesn’t cure the cause. Addressing the loss behind the symptoms is critical.

It’s the imaginal needs of the soul that are missing and this has separated us from that which gives life meaning. We see some attempts to address these imaginal needs of the soul in the growth of interest in astrology, divination, magic and fantasy. Even poetry is experiencing a revival. But the society in general is trying to deal with the loss through literal thinking e.g. more jobs, better wages, better medical care, and walls and laws. These may have their merits but are not what the soul is crying out for. Achievement of these goals might temporarily satisfy the ego, a voracious consumer of temporary satisfactions, but will do little or nothing for the soul.

We seem to have lost our excited and loving connection to life. We are in survival mode and this abuse of our souls that we have tolerated for so long has led to the symptoms of disconnection that we see in our communities and greater society. This disconnect is the herald of our greater loss of soul.

Humans are being treated as commodities, objects to be manipulated, and subservient to the power and greed of others. People have become just a means to and end for producing ever-increasing capital. To that end they (we) only have one purpose until they are no longer needed. There is no soul in this and that has stripped people of their own soul expression, their raison d’etre. Modern society implies that a human’s meaning is in what they can produce outside itself. It ignores the inside meaning and demeans the experience of spirit, humanness, individuality, essence, purpose, emotion, mercy, morality, wisdom, and God. Our soul has become secondary to our utility and with this shift in our meaning is the loss of meaning in life.

Are we just cogs in the machine or plug-ins to the corporation god or do we have greater meaning than that? I know that you know the answer. So what are you going to do about it? Hint: the answer is already in the text of this post.

 

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And what do you think of that?

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While cleaning up my desk from all the notes and paper, books, and articles I collect over time I ran across the following missive written on a napkin from some long forgotten coffee shop experience.

 

“Everywhere I look light is playing with me. Rays, rainbow streaks, dancing shadows and flying things winking in and out of existence as the sun plays off their wings before they dive into the shadows of the no-see-ums.

The tall tree sways in the breeze like the soft fur of a Persian cat being gently petted– the light playing off its many strands turning green into a palette of golds, rusts, and orange.

Suddenly a ball of light catches my eye. It radiates into a moving mandala with a center of pure light– delightful! Like a beam from another universe inviting me in.

“What am I?” It says.

“I don’t know.” I say.

“That’s right!” It says. “And what do you think of that?”

The Wind in my life part 2

 

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“Floating to the surface of an impenetrable water a pulsating mandala whose rings appear and disappear when a disembodied voice exclaims, “Where’s the wind?” and is the last thing I hear before I wake up.”

Excerpt from April 8, 2019 posting from The Book of Dreams Blog

 

Yesterday I wrote down a poem generated by a dream the night before and titled it, “The wind in my life.”

Now normally I think of the wind in a dream as symbolizing ones soul, life source or energy but it also reflects the changes in one’s life and it was these changes that floated to the surface and demanded my attention.

But change has always been attached to people so that every change event came with a person or persons introducing it or acting as the co-navigator(s) for the ship of my life.

It’s not too far off course then to think of the people in my life as the souls of the winds of my dreams. It’s people who for whatever reason have blown me in directions I didn’t know I wanted but perhaps needed to go.

In looking back across my life I see moments where people entered my life at precisely the right time to help steer me into a new direction. As I wrote in yesterday’s poem, “…I don’t know where I’m going!” So it’s a good thing these navigators keep showing up or I’d be foundering in some uncharted sea or held fast on some unseen shoal.

How these souls find me when I most need them is a curiosity. It’s as though we are somehow attached at some as yet unseen level. I wonder if our souls communicate with each other though we aren’t always open to their message or willing to let go of the illusion of thinking we know something and allow ourselves to follow one who does?

In the poem I curse the winds that never stay put like a pulsating mandala whose circles of completion and new beginnings forever seem to appear and disappear but it may be the wisdom of these symbols of the psyche to forever be changing for the change is the pulse of the universe within itself continually individuating and transforming the separate into the whole. 

Because I really don’t know where I’m going I will sometimes curse the wind and the curse itself will become part of the whole for which I search and the pulsating mandala that is my life will sometimes float to the surface of a dream and add light to the journey.

The wind in my life

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Floating to the surface of an impenetrable water a pulsating mandala whose rings appear and disappear when a disembodied voice exclaims, “Where’s the wind?” and is the last thing I hear before I wake up.

This was another night’s dream that stayed with me as I awoke but this night’s dream brought with it one of those rare delights, a poem that I share with you now.

 

 

 

It was so very long ago,

just yesterday I think

We set sail and followed the wind

Into this very dark and unknown sea

with only a promise fore and aft.

Born in opposition

An incomplete whole

A compromised mandala

Searching for a self

Here not there

A there in potential only

and forever becoming.

Like the wind Psyche’s rings won’t stay put

With the rhythm of the heart

They rise and fall

Rise and fall with every beat

Never solidly there.

Like an on-shore beacon

Of a home not seen

For oh so long.

A Guide-on that gives light

To the there

We set out to find.

Arrived!

No?

Not here?

Maybe there?

And we tack into the wind once again

And run once more toward home

Are we lost?

“Where’s that damn chart?” I say

“What chart?” You say.

“The one you were following.” I say

“There’s never been a chart

I was following you.” You say.

“But I don’t know where I’m going!” I say.

And we tack back out to search for that

damnable wind that will never stay put.

Don’t believe in the Cosmic Mind, or God, or goddess? It’s okay, they don’t believe in you either.

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Belief: Wikipedia defines it as “… a mental representation of an attitude positively oriented towards the likelihood of something being true”. It doesn’t require empirical evidence that something is true. In general they are just personal attitudes and not necessarily reality. Each of us create our own reality i.e. our own attitudes and judgments about what we see or experience. These may or may not correspond to what is actually true. Mostly we don’t bother to look too closely at whether there’s any real truth, in other words, when it comes to belief most humans aren’t very introspective. Most of us walk around thinking that we know what the world is about.

But don’t believe everything you think.

And that should be the default mantra of every thinking being, “Don’t believe everything you think”. Mostly what we think we believe is delusional or better yet illusional i.e. our beliefs are deceptive and misleading. What we see depends on our motivation and that usually involves dealing with fear– fear of the unknown, fear of being out of control, fear of loss, fear of being wrong, fear of being vulnerable, fear of dying, fear of nonexistence, fear of pain, fear of being unworthy, fear of being unloved, fear of commitment, fear of not surviving, fear of meaninglessness, fear of not being important in short, we are all looking for that which will help us handle our fears.

So what can one do to remove the barriers to just being with our fears, no I’m not saying to our becoming or embracing those fears I’m suggesting having them and looking at them honestly? Life is generally fearsome which is why we create beliefs in the first place i.e. to help us deal with them and that can be good but then we act as though what we created was real. What would happen if we just laid ourselves open to what’s actually there without our guard up (no I’m not suggesting we put ourselves into real danger)?

If we were to put our beliefs aside what might we see? If we could really just be in the moment, what might be there? If we could be aware of our fears what might we learn from them? Might we learn how we’ve been letting them determine the direction of our lives? Might we learn that these fears and our reactions to them have over time boxed us up and left us smaller than we actually are? As a reaction to fear we often use our beliefs as a way of limiting risk, what market people call risk aversion, but too much of this leads to a contracted life.

So why did I title this piece, “Don’t believe in the Cosmic Mind, or God, or goddess? It’s okay, they don’t believe in you either”?

The so-called belief in a Cosmic Mind, or God or goddess as an illusion for purposes of self-protection is like a crutch. They are just constructs to help with day-to-day fears. But do they exist? They may exist as representations of our spiritual aspect in that they speak to parts of our being– the deeper aspects to who and what we are and as such don’t require that we believe in them in order for them to exist. They just are or it just is and exist outside our rational brain. And it’s the rational brain as a construct of our egos that the spiritual doesn’t believe in for it is just an illusion. But some may argue that it’s all illusion, but whose illusion? Ah there’s the rub.

Metaphor in the sky: Stars, planets, and the Moon can talk to us in our dreams

 

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I bought myself a new Moon Calendar for 2019. I stick this on the refrigerator both as a means of tracking the moon’s phases but also to add a little of the mysterious and anticipation to the every day.

I’ve always been fascinated by the Moon as it waxes and wanes across the sky. It shows up in my dreams and I’ve even marked special occasions and special people in my life with phases of the Moon. But the Moon has even more meaning than meets the eye.

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In the photo at left is Selene the Greek Moon goddess and guardian of the night. She was, according to legend, daughter of Hyperion–the lord of light– and sibling of Eos the goddess of the dawn. She’s also known as Luna, a Roman Titan.

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

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

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

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

Sometimes there can be a month when there is no full moon. This is known amongst Astrologists as a “Black Moon” month. For me if this were to present itself in a dream it might signify that something is missing in my life or that I’m not feeling whole and complete or that my inner light is somewhat diminished i.e. that I’m not reflecting the full light of God or the Spirit.

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

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

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

 

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Photo by Greg Hogan

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

 

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

The six-pointed Star of David can signify the union of Heaven and Earth–body and spirit.

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

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

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

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

Flowers have a special place in our dreams

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My last blog of the year is on flowers and their meaning in dreams.

 

 

OPHELIA:

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts. There’s fennel for you, and columbines—There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. We may call it “herb of grace” o’ Sundays—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference—There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. “

–In Shakespeare’s Hamlet

 

On a walk with my wife early this summer I was admiring all the gardens along our route, not just the quality of the landscaping but the profusion of flowers as well. While bending down to take in the fragrance of a rose I recalled an earlier dream where a rose played a prominent part. This got me to thinking about flowers in general and the special place they have in all our lives and dreams.

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Poinsettia-not actually a flower because the red flower-like top are leaves called bracts.

We adorn our church sanctuaries with flowers, brides carry a bouquet of flowers as they walk down the aisle and the space is often covered in flowers. The poinsettia shows up at Christmas, the lily makes an entrance at the Christian celebration of Easter, and the Lotus is divine, symbolic of creation. Gods and goddesses sit upon the Lotus that symbolizes purity and raising them above the common, muddy existence of desire and attachment.

Flowers are at our funerals, our graves, our love affairs, our weddings, on national and regional flags, significant celebrations, and we even name our children after them is it any wonder that they also show up in our dreams?

Though today flowers tend to be just pretty emblems of occasion they once had great social and spiritual meaning.

Though Roses may mean a declaration of love today, Marigolds once held that position. Basil is pretty much an aromatic herb for many of us, but for many Indians it is the symbol for the god Vishnu and can be found in a place of honor in their family gardens. Forget-me-nots are the flower of Pisces from the Zodiac, the Yellow Wattle is symbolic of Australia, Tulips are symbolic of Sagittarius and heralds of Spring, and Daisies perfectly symbolize young innocence.

 

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All mandalas have concentric circles to represent layers of consciousness as it moves from outer to inner i.e. from the world to the soul.

Carl Jung, the 20th century Swiss psychiatrist and guru of dreams saw the rose as representing the Mandala, a symbol of the unconscious self. He thought that dreams with roses were very spiritual in nature and that they were the equivalent of the lotus signifying transformation.

Across the millennia people have assigned mythical and religious meaning to flowers. For example, Lilies might represent the Trinity or the Virgin Mary, Easter, rebirth, or royalty (as in the fleur di lis).

The morning-glory is appropriately named, because the flower blooms in the morning and dies by the afternoon. Georgia O’Keeffe brought the calla lily to prominence with her series of close-up paintings of single calla lily flowers. She wanted the viewer to look closely at the fundamental form of the flower without any preconceived notions. Many of her paintings are considered by some to be spiritual in nature, though some see many of them as sexual so I’m not sure how successful she was at having people see her paintings without preconceived notions. However, the concept of “seeing” something with no preconceived notions is often the Eastern way of seeing a thing’s true nature.

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Calla Lily by.- Georgia O’Keeffe 

 

Continue reading Flowers have a special place in our dreams

Crossroad to reality: Creation, time,dreaming

 

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For many years I’ve been fascinated by creation stories, probably because of my curiosity for how and why we got here.

It seems as though every culture, extinct or extant, has a creation story explaining how they and their world came to be. To me they all read like a dream. It’s my intention across a number of my Blog entries to touch on the dream states of cultures in some detail.

One of these cultures in particular is very much a “dream”. It’s even called the “Dreamtime” and comes to us from the Australian Aborigine. I choose this group to be first because they come from the land of my birth as well, though I am not Aborigine, but of the Europeans who invaded their land some 250 years ago.

These people have lived the vast land of the Australs* for some twenty-two thousand generations, that’s 40,000+ years. Before the arrival of the Europeans, some 200 different language groups existed. Though there are now only seventy groups remaining with each calling their land something different, they all tell a similar story of the creation of the world–the story of the Dreamtime.

From the Dreamtime, Rainbow Snake and others “Dreamed” the world into being. Areas in their world are named for the Dreaming of that part of creation that took place there. The word “Dreaming” symbolizes another aspect in that it represents the individual tribal beliefs and spiritual understandings. For example, one tribe might refer to themselves as having Kangaroo Dreaming or Honey Ant Dreaming. All that comes into the world such as a painting, or other object, or idea, is still dreamed and is claimed by the person or group that has produced it. To them everything comes from the Dreamtime. Individual lives come from those of the Dreamtime as well and return to it when the body dies. In all the people there is an eternal part borne through the mother in time from the originals of the Dreamtime.

The visions of the early Aborigine and to some extent today do not differentiate between men or their surroundings. They experience an undifferentiated state of mind that makes separation much less common among them than with modern man. I believe the western mans general lack of caring for the world and each other comes from this separation. In the Aborigine there was no separation between their daily living, eating, working, sexual, and religious lives. All were either dreams or waking visions. And all come from the “all-at-once time”** and are born into a “life in time.” In a way the Aborigine lives in a dream within a dream.

Through the waking dream (awake state) and the sleeping dream and various altered states, the Aborigine interacts with his reality–indeed with his soul. To him everything is connected.

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*Variously known as Australische by the Dutch and Terra Australis Incognita (The Southern Unknown Land) and Colloquially since the early 20th century as Oz.

**Known in quantum physics as the super temporal or in metaphysics as time transcendence.

Anything worth being you already are*.

 

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“Inner being” –The ‘spiritual’ art of Freydoon Rassouli

 

In my last blog I ended with this sentence, “Is being empty of yourself being full of yourself?”

That wasn’t just a play on words. There are a number of “selves” of which I speak. There’s the “self” that you have named and allocated thoughts and beliefs to. Then there’s the self that each of us presents to the world. There’s also the self we would like to be and the self that we think we are.

But there’s more. There’s the self that your parents projected onto you with their “you’re always” or “you never” or “you can’t” or “why can’t you be more like…” statements. And then there are the limits that society places on you with its can and can-nots, shoulds and shouldn’ts that also come attached to and are often held in place by our religious beliefs all of which together define your social-self.

As you can see we are already full of “selves”, ourselves, and all of these make up what is known as the “ego-self”. While wearing this ego-self there’s no room for our real self to be expressed. We spend every moment of every day that we are here on this earth developing and filling our life with the “untrue self”. We spend so much time doing this that the real self is barely if ever visible to us.

“If you do nothing, truly nothing, God cannot help but to come into you.”

“If you leave, God can enter.”

–Meister Eckhart

Basically he’s saying that when you are full of yourself i.e. focused on the development and maintenance of your ego-self there’s no room for the Other.

When we try to be “something” rather than nothing i.e. when we think of ourselves as being objects e.g. body, emotions, beliefs, personality we shut out our true nature. When we think of ourselves as being all these selves the real us can’t come into our awareness. This odd way of being is pure ignorance and illusion and robs us of our true inheritance.

So the act of emptying yourself of all these selves allows for your cup to be full of what you really, and already, are.

In conclusion and as I quoted from the Tao Te Ching in the last blog, If you want to become full, let yourself be empty”.

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*The title of a supplementary meditation manual that I authored in 1979 as part of a Title VI-B Federal Grant supporting the identification of and curriculum development for adjudicated youth with special education needs. https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/5393374

 

The all knowing knows nothing until he knows he knows nothing and becomes all knowing.

coffee_spilling_out_of_a_cup_ie357-008.jpgWe all act as though we know what is real and what is not real. We act as though we know what is fantasy from what is real but are we right? Many think that to be knowledgeable is to be wise, but is this so? If we acquire enough knowledge will we then gain enlightenment and wisdom?

Fantasy, illusion, myth, intuition, the subjective, imaginal, real, sensory, rational, or objective are always seen as opposites of what is considered reality when in all possibility they are just aspects of the whole. There’s an objective reality that each of us interact with subjectively i.e. the subjective creates the objective that in turn creates the subjective. We project onto everything our image of it. Basically the reality that we see is imaginal even what we call ‘rational’ is imaginal and subjective. Yes, it’s all real, but what real and whose real?

All the so-called opposites i.e. the real and not real things are actually compliments that support each other. They are facets of the whole each contributing to the whole and without them there is no whole and without the whole we do not exist.

Get it? No?

Let me try a few quotes from people who are smarter than I am.

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”

–Daniel Boorstin (also attributed to Stephen Hawking)

So you think you know? In short,

“It’s hard to fill a cup that is already full”

–Tao Te Ching– Lao Tzu

“Your cup is only useful when it’s empty”

–RJ Cole

Have you emptied your cup today?

“If you want to become full, let yourself be empty”

–Tao Te Ching

They all seem to be saying, ‘Be less so as to be more’. But aren’t these opposites? Try living that for a while and you’ll see the truth in it. Maybe more and less define and complement one another and are not in opposition.

So if being more knowledgeable or ‘all knowing’ doesn’t gain wisdom, how do we gain wisdom? In order to find wisdom we might need to open our hearts and minds. Perhaps knowing a lot or thinking that we know cannot help because they fill us up and close us off, but an innocent and curious mind might open us to see what’s really there. This is what Buddhists call the “Beginners Mind”. It’s the mind of a child that is open until we fill it with all kinds of sense and nonsense.

“Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

–Jesus of Nazereth

So whadda ya think? Is being empty of yourself being full of yourself?