Loss of the Soul

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“Le Vol de l’âme”–by Louis Janmot (1814-1892). It is said that in a dream the soul of a man is symbolized as feminine and with women as masculine.

Because it is not the point of the article, I am not going to go into what the soul is or is not or where it goes when we die. When I speak of Soul Loss I’m speaking to what happens to our souls when we abuse them or when we injure them.

Whenever you’ve said to yourself, “I wish I were dead” we’ve sent a part of the soul to the land of the dead. Every time we give up on a dream or when we lose trust in ourselves we give up a part of our soul. When we play small in our life by giving in to our fears or pride or greed we injure the soul as well for the soul only wants to play large in everything we do. We are constantly banishing pieces of our soul.

In fact many of us cause harm to the soul through our self-destructive habits–drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, self-criticism, overeating, arrogance, etc..

But the soul also leaves us when grief has become so painful that we shut down or when fear becomes too great. Even certain life changes can bruise the soul such as a relationship break-up, a death in the family, or a change in jobs or life style.

Immigrants and refugees suffer this kind of damage when they leave their homes, especially when they are not leaving out of choice. This is of course compounded when their freedom destination has been blocked.

Soul loss is chronic in societies where there’s a small but dominant group of people who control the lives of others such as in autocratic, totalitarian or theocratic cultures or subcultures (this can happen here in the U.S. in villages, small towns, or in peoples homes with an oppressive element). It also happens in cultures and subcultures where opportunities are restricted on an ethnic, class or gender level, or where there is a huge and widening gap between those who have and those who have not. We also see it in cults or with the rigid dogma of some religious sects.

And some jobs are so stifling because of certain oppressive management practices that the soul begins to retreat to the darker parts of our being. The fact is that the soul thrives in creative environments where the individual’s independence is honored and nurtured.

Some say that only trauma will trigger soul loss but isn’t that what I’ve outlined above? Do not all these little traumas whittle away at our souls?

Have you suffered soul loss? It’s possible. Look closely at yourself for a moment do you, or have you, suffer(ed) from depression, constant anxiety, low energy and constant fatigue (any chronic sleep disturbance)? Does the world look gray around you regardless of the weather? Do you suffer low-self esteem, emotional numbness, helplessness or are caught up in and can’t let go of a negative past or some past event? Do you stress over many little things? Are you extremely overweight (or affected by some eating disorder), given up your dreams, or suffered or acted out abuse? Those who have suffered extreme abuse and who have been diagnosed with PTSD are on the rise globally.

Have you ever suffered a loss of self-esteem from a failure or at the hands of a bully personality? Most of us have and most of our negative soul-damaging experiences have been unavoidable. But it’s what we do afterward that can make all the difference to their healing. Often it’s the degree to which we let the hurts steal a part of our souls and when we go into agreement with our darker aspects that the loss was deserved that determines the depth and longevity of the experienced loss.

When we try to stuff the stink of soul loss i.e., suppress it or try to change it by adding perfume to it through a change of narrative the smell becomes buried but isn’t gone. It continues to foul our inner atmosphere until we bring it out of the darkened depths and into the light where we tell the truth about it without drama, judgments, and self-criticism.

Did you know that in some studies in the U.S. almost half the adult population has reported suffering some kind of childhood abuse (this includes neglect, physical, sexual and psychological abuse)? 1 Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident in their lives and that 28% of teens 14-17 have reported sexual victimization.2 Children who live with domestic violence regardless of whether the family is intact or not have a higher risk of abuse and I contend not only suffer psycho-emotional damage but soul loss as well.

But we do not lose our soul permanently or any part of it for that matter. What does happen is we lose touch with it and/or build up barriers to its expression. Meditation, dream work, creative expression, poetry, art, giving, and yoga are some means for healing a damaged soul.

In the fictional novel by R.J. Cole, “The Archipelago of Dreams” is an exploration of how damaged souls are healed in the spirit world.

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1deMouse, Lloyd, The Evolution of the Psyche and Society, Journal of Psycho-history v. 29, #1, 2002, pg.239

2 http://www.victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/child-sexual-abuse-statistics

Knowing your personality type: Excerpts from Morpheus Speaks

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Available at Barnes and Noble, Walmart, and Amazon

Looking for patterns within a single dream or across a number of dreams can be a useful way to decode the dream’s meaning.

Whether or not you are able to see a theme or pattern may be affected by your individual personality traits. Whether you are perfectionistic, possessive, image conscious, self-absorbed, secretive, anxious, engaging, scattered, self-confident, willful, easy going, or self-effacing these traits are at some level going to affect your interpretation of dream themes and patterns.

 

The more you know about your traits, the more you can spot what the pallet you’re using to create your dream picture looks like.

Knowing something about your emotional makeup is also going to help in understanding your waking world behaviors as well as your dreams.

There are several personality type indicators with each focusing on different foundational philosophies of personality and personality development. For the purpose of this book I’m highlighting two that I have the most experience with—The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Enneagram type indicator. Both will provide the user with rough, though usable information.

I’ve taken the liberty of sharing these links to sites that I believe to be useful:

 

 

Both these sites can be quite useful at an entry level to getting a handle on how you respond to the symbols, circumstances and events of your life and make the process and results of dream interpretation all that much richer and meaningful.

In both the books The Dragon’s Treasure and Morpheus Speaks I discuss in some depth some of the variables that affect our relationship to both the sleeping and waking consciousness.

Not only does your personality determine the symbols and the interpretation of those symbols, so does the extent to which you have immersed yourself in the beliefs of a religion and the values of a culture.

The Quran, the Christian and Jewish bible, the Vedas and other books of religion are used to interpret one’s life and to attempt the understanding of God, so why would they not influence your dreams? The danger in this is that rigidly narrow interpretations can sometimes only give you information about what you already know and not what you don’t know.

In any event, I’m not sure that the ‘self’ of the unconscious adheres to any religion, though it may use your belief as a way of communicating to you. This may add yet another layer of complexity to be unpeeled before getting at the small kernel of truth hidden within.

Don’t cast out the demon for he has something useful to tell you: A case for following your dreams

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From Narya Blackfyre

There is an uncontrolled and uncontrollable background world from which we are all born and out of which we motivate our lives. It is only through self-reflection, the art of transcending our conscious selves that we can discover a psychological resilience the likes of which the vast majority of people have never known or even knew was possible.

This is the art of reflecting on our experiences instead of being caught up in them. To do this we need to gain some distance from them. For example, we can experience being depressed and become so wrapped up in the experience that it’s like being caught in a never ending maze where we seem to wander aimlessly forever.

But transforming the experience from one of “being” depressed to the depression as being a signal that our approach to life has been outgrown and that a new approach needs to be developed can take us outside the experience and allow for a new perspective and change.

In short, by being our symptoms you can become lost, but by using the symptoms as signals of the psyche’s attempt to heal itself we can transcend, step out of, the maze of symptoms if only for a few moments but that few moments lets us know that there is an outside. As with everything else the symptoms aren’t what’s causing the imbalance e.g. depression, fear, anger they are only indicators that an imbalance exists. Too often we get caught up in our ego needs and forget that we are actually creatures of a much greater background world.

When we act as though we are our symptoms (fear, anxiety, depression, anger, powerlessness, jealousy, envy, etc.) we automatically try to avoid or cast out the demon. In other words, we try to reject rather than go into relationship with the symptom.

When we reject our feelings, our thoughts, or our unwanted memories we send the pains they cause into the dark cellars of our unconscious mind where they can fester and source all kinds of mischief in our lives. The art of reflection is the first step into dealing with our imbalances directly and one of the best ways of reflecting on our inner self is through the analysis of dreams. It is through our dreams that we can connect with that background world from which we all come.

In the dream it is the soul that reflects on itself while the ego sleeps rather than the daytime reflections of the ego upon itself that rarely produce any useful insight.

A marriage of our disparate aspects

 

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This morning I received a comment from a reader who identified as being non-binary and was musing as to whether women in the current gender equalization movement were suppressing their feminine aspect in favor of their more powerful masculine.

The following is my answer to those comments:

I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said. I too believe that women are suppressing their feminine aspect in lieu of strengthening their masculine. I don’t see this as unusual for any time an entrenched behavior is shifted it takes time for the new behavior to become more balanced, though I also don’t see a call for this balance coming from the movement.

I also believe we are seeing the effects of a gender change in roles that have rendered some males feeling emasculated and others becoming over masculinized as a compensatory effect. However, there is also a small minority that are empowered to seek out and reinforce their feminine aspects so as to be more balanced and effective in their lives. These are all to be expected as well.

Not sure what you mean by non-binary because this can encompass those that see themselves as neither male nor female, while others see themselves as both and still others who might want to be categorized as transgender. As for myself I identify as male but find a lot of shadow aspects to that identity and spend a lot of time learning to strengthen my more feminine aspects e.g., compassion, inclusiveness, intuition. I’m trying to include all sides of my personality and only move one or the other to dominance when occasions arise that may require it.

The concept of non-binary is as I understand it been around for millennia. A form of this can be found in many Native American tribes as an individual called a “berdache” or “two-spirit” person who was allowed to switch gender roles within the tribe and was considered normal and embraced. It should be noted that this was allowing another expression of the soul and spirit of the individual and perhaps even of the tribe and not necessarily a sexual expression.

Interestingly my spirit guides are feminine e.g., A she wolf, a woman, and an eagle. These dream beings usually come to me in when I am in a transition or high anxiety state in my waking life. I reveal all this to say that I don’t want to use a term such as non-binary when describing my inner self. I am looking toward a marriage of the disparate, and sometimes conflicted, parts of myself i.e., what Jung might have called a coniunctio or a synthesized polarity or culminating non-duality. The tension between these dualities is in my mind necessary in order to function as a whole being so I’m not looking to create an undifferentiated oneness even if that were possible while a living human. Another of the aspects that are by definition highly related to this marriage of aspects is that of the intellect and feeling. These can coexist but if one or the other is allowed to dominate a person can become behaviorally skewed.

The attempt to bring into harmony all aspects of the psyche is not unlike what the alchemists were really up to with all their experiments.

 

“It is the moral task of alchemy to bring the feminine, maternal background of the masculine psyche, seething with passions, into harmony with the principle of the spirit, truly a labor of Hercules!” –C.G. Jung

A Cabinet of Wonder: Museum for the Soul

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Cabinets of Wonder, Cabinets of Curiosity, Wunderkammer, and Chambers of Art were sort of the first museums and often served their owners as a place for retreat and reflection, which is how I use my section of the Den where I do my writing and have my own cabinet.

They’ve been around in one form or the other (as whole rooms, warehouses, or in a piece of furniture) since about the 16th century. Click on this Wikipedia link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_of_curiosities ) and you can scroll through a number of different Cabinets and read a little background on the subject.

I also include this link to the Idols of the Cave that as it says in its introduction is, “a site devoted to the experience of Wonder, cultivated according to Renaissance rite and custom.” http://idolsofthecave.com/about-this-site/

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Over the years I’ve collected objects that move my imagination in some way and have placed many of them on display that I frequently just gaze at and let whatever thoughts, memories, or feelings surface as a result. They also seem to serve as food for the soul and help me enter into the imaginal realm. To that end I have collected poems and quotes that inspire and transport me into this realm as well.

The cabinet includes such items as Bismuth (the modern Philosophers Stone), Merlinite, Galena, Aragonite, Lapis, Amethyst, Ruby, Hematite, and translucent slices of agate. Fossils of Ammonites, trilobites, and orthoceras share the dishes of a brass apothecary scale with old compasses, sundials, antique pocket watches and a bronze hourglass crowding the corners.

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There’s a Theodolite surveyors instrument, an 1890s microscope, an armillary and orrerary (planetary models), a brass scale and assorted dragons including a bat skeleton that I’ve relabeled as “Draco Infantia (Latin for ‘baby dragon’). North American butterflies, dragonflies. Bats, a flying Dragon Lizard, and shells from the deepest regions of the ocean adorn the walls while some vintage laboratory glassware sits on a bookcase full of old books and artifacts that have caught my imagination over the years. A taxidermist’s black crow stands watch over a sculpture of old magnifying glasses that serves to remind me that it is the realm of the hardly noticed that can open a whole new world if one were to look more closely at life.

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I believe that anything that opens a link between our soul and us is worth exploring and experimenting with and our own expression of that can be immensely fulfilling.

Books that I’ve collected include the research of alchemists, psychotherapists, shaman, mystics, artists, poets, mythologists, physicists, theologians, fantasists, and holy books, collected dreams, and journals also share the crowded space along the wall and stacked upon the floor all representing a lifetime of interests.

 

 

 

The healing of the anima/animus: So how do you step outside the trap of the box you’ve gotten yourself into?

 

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I’ve been talking in class about the rational, concrete and patriarchal world we live in i.e. the cultural-emotional “box” we live in– the myth that informs and directs how we live our lives and react to our environment.

The question that came up for me when I first realized that the box even existed was, “Okay, how do I get outside it?” which is a typical male response to any problem. I’ve been working on that for over 35 years now. At first all my efforts were for naught because I didn’t really understand the parameters of the box (didn’t know where the walls began and ended) so everything I did was within the context of the box i.e. more box stuff. When I realized that it was I who was creating the box, albeit in partnership with the society I was living in, I began the task of tracking down what I was doing and why, in other words, “what purpose did my behaviors have for the life I was living?”

In my case it was about maintaining and protecting the persona (my presentation to myself and to the world of who I was or at least wanted to think I was) and not dealing with the hurts in my life– most of them gained during the experience of being parented either by my mother and father or the other authority figures in my life, that was pretty much all adults, though there were certain children I gave that power to as well e.g. some bullies, girls I was in love with and who demeaned it, boys I looked up to who ignored me or taunted me with their arrogance.

These hurts are real, though the patriarchal society might say, “Snap out of it you wuss* and get on with it!” To the degree that I didn’t honor the reality of the feelings, of the emotions, is the degree to which they went underground into the subconscious and then grew until they began to effect not only how I viewed myself, but my world perspective and how I reacted to my experiences, in other words, how the material I shoved into the subconscious took over the running of my life.

So how do we begin stepping outside the box we’ve built for ourselves?

Here are a few suggestions that have helped me along the way:

  • Do something you thought that you couldn’t do– perhaps even something you were afraid to do.
  • Read poetry, fantasy, fairytales, ancient mythology**. Step outside the rational, concrete and patriarchal world and into the symbolic and mythic.
  • Become more conscious of your own myth, the story of your own life.
  • Become more receptive to your own inner environment.
  • When you see someone and you’re finding yourself judging them don’t make that judgment real, just notice that you’re judging. Chances are the judgment has nothing to do with them and far more to do with you.
  • Have your feelings, don’t let them have you i.e. don’t become them. Notice them without doing anything with them, don’t resist them***just experience them without judging them.
  • Notice what the circumstances are associated with your feelings. For example, what’s happening when they show up? Remember to just notice.
  • When you reflect upon an early emotional injury (usually recalled when a similar circumstance shows up in your current life) what do you do with the hurt e.g. do you automatically let the ‘perpetrator’ off the hook by taking some or all of the blame? Try letting the emotional experience play out without doing anything with it, don’t even analyze it, just have it. Don’t make it any more solid than it is by either agreeing with it or resisting it.
  • When having a feeling or emotion notice what’s happening in your body. Do you feel tightness anywhere? Has anything happened to your breathing? Are your hands clenched? How do your arms feel? Check your neck, back, chest and face, anything happening there?
  • Keeping our emotional injuries bottled up regardless of their level of trauma i.e. their degree of severity, allows them to fester and grow. Frequently they will find a form of outward expression through the body i.e. through over or under weight, migraine headaches, debilitating pains, nightmares, or stomach ailments– to which the patriarchal medical response is to prescribe a pill, or to tell you it’s “all in your head” and not real.

When I was working full time as an administrator the level of stress that had to be dealt with and endured on a regular basis made life very difficult over time. Eventually I developed pain in my right shoulder that became so painful that it could not be endured and totally incapacitated my use of that arm and severely affected my ability to do my job.

Medically I was sent to physical therapists, chiropractors and eventually was given cortisone shots to reduce the pain and inflammation. The shots worked for a while but eventually the pain returned and sometimes moved to another part of my body such as the neck or lower back. Basically I was ignoring the messages of my body and soldiering on like the Great Patriarch said I must.

For the last two years before I permanently retired I was in and out of the hospital and doctor’s office. Within a month after I retired and I was able to reflect upon all the emotional material that I couldn’t see my way through while in the trenches, the pains disappeared, never to return.

As with all myths there are ‘turning points’, those shifts in personal awareness and perspectives of the hero (in this case, you). Those who take the mythic journey within themselves will also experience these shifts and over time become less dominated by their subconscious and more able to live a life of true conscious ‘free-will’.

It is a fact of life that when all seems the most hopeless and becomes like wandering a wasteland that the stage is set for transformation. Up until then the ego, the center of who we think we are, sustains the lie that all is well and that material success and rational living are the only goals in life.

So what to do?

Women in this society need to acknowledge their inner strength through the development of their animus (inner masculine) so as to forge their own voice and identity. Men on the other hand need to nurture their anima, or inner feminine, so as to polish the sharp edges of their voice and to ensure that it is their voice and not that of another who is speaking for them.

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*a very patriarchal colloquialism implying that anyone who looks too closely at their emotions and inner self is being too girly, i.e. not rational and manly.

**a symbolic, non rational, non concrete activity

resisting is the best way to keep something stuck and growing into something bigger.

What is a True Human Being?

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“A true human being is high without wine.

A true human being is full without dinner.

A true human being seems lost and befuddled.

A true human being is not ruled by eating and sleeping.

A true human being is the king in disguise.

A true human being is a jewel in the dust.

A true human being is not fashioned of elements.

A true human being is a shoreless wide ocean.

A true human being is a rain without clouds.

A true human being sees truth face to face.

A true human being is wise without reading.

A true human being is without belief or falsehood.

A true human being is not burdened with right or wrongness.

A true human being steps out of emptiness, arrives in a glory.

A true human being is secret and hidden.

Oh my dear and beloved you shine like the sun!

Oh my heart, go and find a true human being.”

 

–Rumi

What I hear in this poem is that our true nature is not of the material Earth, the body and what feeds it. We’re much, much bigger than that. Who we are is not of the dust that returns to dust but lies quietly surrounding us within and without.

 

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There is another world inside this one–no words can describe it.There is living, but no fear of death;There is Spring, but never a turn to Autumn.There are legends and storiescoming from the walls and ceilings. Even the rocks and trees recite poetry. 

Here an owl becomes a peacock,A wolf becomes a beautiful shepherd.To change the scenery, change your mood;To move around, just will it. 

Stand for a momentAnd look at a desert of thorns–it becomes a flowery garden.”
–Rumi

 

The world to each of us is the product of what we project, what we see, what we hear and what we feel. It is determined by our own minds and our own prejudices.

To Rumi, those who see their true nature fall in love and it is through that reality that they can live in the “Heaven on Earth” that so many religions speak of.

 

“Without love,all worship is a burden,all dancing is a chore,all music is mere noise. 

All the rain of heaven may fall into the sea– Without love,not one drop would become a pearl.For those in love,Moslem, Christian, and Jew do not exist.For those in love,faith and infidelity do not exist.For those in love,body, mind, heart, and soul do not exist. 

Why listen to those who see it another way?–if they’re not in lovetheir eyes do not exist. 

If you hurt others, don’t expect kindness in return.One who sows rotten seeds will get rotten fruit.God is great and compassionatebut if you plant barley,don’t expect a harvest of wheat.”
-Rumi

 

Basically we live, see and become what we project. Another way of saying that is, “we reap what we sew”. We can only feed ourselves, our inner selves, by the projections that we have put out there. If we see only fear, or anger, or hatred, then it’s only their council we can hear. In short, we are only listening to our own egos.

 

“We can’t be what we can’t see”
-Marian Wright Edelman

 

Another way of saying this is that peace in the world does not exist outside ourselves. It is only when we find it in ourselves that we can make a difference in the peace of the world. Angry, hateful and dismissive people cannot find peace or comfort because they are not being that which they seek.

We need nothing to tell us how we should feel, what we should believe and how we should act. At our core all of this is known. At our core is the “true human being”. It is only at the surface where our egos lie that we are forced to listen to that which is outside of us, because the ego-self does not know what’s inside and because it so desperately wants to remain in control, it depends on extensions of itself to provide the guidance and wisdoms it lacks. But being only extensions of itself it can only project the ignorance it lives within.

Once one finds their core being, their true human self, there is no need for the others outside us.

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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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.

A waking dream experience of a very, very bad day: what happens when one lives in the narrow world of expectations.

 

a_chair_in_an_empty_room_by_ondrejzapletal-dbfnsa5.jpgI couldn’t get a break today. But I should have “expected” it because I was in a bad mood from the start of when my feet hit the floor from a fitful nights sleep of very odd and incoherent dreams. At every turn of events I felt thwarted, frustrated, impatient, and intolerant. What…in my dream or in my waking life? Precisely!

In the morning my wife and I thought we’d take a pleasant bike ride to breakfast. But we kept taking different routes that lead away from each other, and when we eventually met up her cautiousness on the busy streets caused her to frequently dismount from her bike and walk, which according to my expectation made us late (not that we had reservations mind you). To add to my frustration a cross walk light chose that morning to malfunction. After three cycles of malfunction it dawned on us that it wasn’t going to light, so we walked across, keeping a wary eye on the traffic.

My frustration built up like an ungoverned steam engine until it needed to find something, or in this case someone, to vent on. I mumbled, fumed, blamed in my head, and struggled mightily not to take it out on the nearest person at hand, poor Fran. I had made the reality of the ride an unhappy burden in my imagination. Once again my imaginary expectations made a mess in the reality. Breakfast, however, was quite pleasant and I started to relax a little.

Later in the day, a granddaughter came over and we went out to Starbucks at the mall for treats and grandpa/granddaughter time, but I couldn’t find a parking space, “ah there’s one!” I’d say and I’d step on the gas arriving just as someone else would pull in to the empty space. Damn! I said in my head again and again as around and around we went until my patience wore thin and the veiled expletives became less shrouded, “There’s one, oh fu…, funny, how “fu…nny” I choked so as to not upset the innocence in the back seat as yet another car slipped in before I arrived and I took yet another round of frustration. “I can’t get a break today!” I exclaimed. “Poor grandpa! We could go to the one near our house.” She said helpfully, probably sensing that grandpa was not a happy rider on this not-so-merry-go-round.

Finally, on a side street a lone parking space appeared out of nowhere, far from our destination, “but it’ll have to do,” I thought resignedly. After a long wait in line at the coffee shop the clerk didn’t seem to understand my order, “A large non-fat hot chocolate.” I said wearily, but somehow she heard, “A chai latte, please.” I don’t even know what that is, but on discovering the mistake after waiting for several orders that had been taken after mine, they put the correction in the queue several more orders behind that. Then the difference in cost had to be worked out and that took several more minutes and signatures on a reimbursement chit only to receive a 30 cent refund and the wrong sized hot chocolate.

A simple trip to the coffee shop started to feel as though it had taken most of the afternoon. Not wanting to prolong my self-induced agony I took the smaller cup, grunted a not so sincere, “thank you,” and numbly walked out the door and plopped into an outside chair to stare at the passers-by and sip my now cold hot chocolate.

For a moment I felt dead inside, kind of numb, then I forced my self to chuckle. This was definitely not my day! I mused. But my granddaughter was happy as a lark with her chocolate milk, a pumpkin scone and some other little girl to befriend on the nearby play-scape. I couldn’t help but smile and this tamed the weary beast inside me.

My older granddaughter called from her cellphone and asked me to pick her up at a friend’s house and to take her home. This of course was located several miles from our current position. “Where’s your Mom?” I croaked. “Out with Grandmother.” She said as though I were being just too stupid for asking. So I wrote down the directions on a slightly damp napkin (you ever try to do that?). Of course the directions of a thirteen year old were less than ideal and forced me to consult a map at every stop light while she amused herself in texting me every five minutes or so with a “Where are U?” This of course buoyed my spirits, NOT.

I finally picked her up and dropped her at her front door. Out she bolted and disappeared into the house, no goodbye, no thank you. I left the younger one with her mother who had barely escaped being knocked over by the thirteen year old bent on texting while running toward her room without once looking up, lost somewhere between narrow focus and complete obliviousness. “How do they do that?” I wondered silently. Also the six year old had in mind that she and I were going watch the Barbie at Princess Charm School video, but when Mommy showed up early there were tears of disappointment (hers, not mine)–yet another thwarted expectation.

Soon it was dinner and my wife was off playing bridge at the church so I thought I’d try a rib place I hadn’t been to before. Inside and sitting next to the window I looked out on the traffic moving down the Avenue. Something disturbing intruded– A rumble that I could feel in my chest and inside my head. The ground felt unstable here as it shook with each car that passed, the guy behind me made odd grunting noises, and the ribs smelled dead, uninviting. Nothing seemed in balance. Everything was off just a bit, nothing was quite right. Even the air felt as though it were heavier than usual and pressed down around me. Nothing seemed fully real. Perhaps, I pondered, it was the Paulo Coelho book I was reading? No, this had been going on all day, before I’d had a chance to even read the first page.

As though this day were partly within a dream, some aspect of me wasn’t fully here, but lost in some expectation, and I paid the price–perturbation, unbalance, alienation and a strong sense of separation all of which conspired to leave me rootless and not feeling quite welcome in the world. So, where was I? The truth is that I wasn’t fully there because I was mired in the way I “wanted it to be” rather than in the here and now of the way it was.

It seems to me that expectations, like my granddaughters cell phone texting, tend to narrow ones focus i.e. our vision of reality tends to narrow. It’s like sitting in the middle a room and looking out its one small window and assuming that everything within its frame is all that there is. I could get up from the chair and approach the window and stick my head outside which would of course expand that reality, but, no, I sit, fixed in my point-of-view, depending on the world to bring reality into that limited frame and disappointed when it isn’t what I wanted.

I used to tell my oldest daughter when she was much younger and talking about her image of God, “Be careful how you describe him, for if he is that leaf that just blew by and your image doesn’t include that, then you’ve missed him.”

I often complain that things aren’t the way I think they ought to be and then whine, sometimes bitterly, that someone ought to change the reality so as to better align with my expectations. No that’s not how I say it, it’s more like, “Why do they do that? They should do it like this.” Or some form of “I’m right, they’re wrong.” You’d be amazed at the lengths I’ll go to feel better about their being wrong.

For some people right now it may look as if I’ve wandered from expectancy into another restricting trait, point-of-view. But isn’t an expectation just another point-of-view and vice versa? Both require a vision of what is and a narrow vision at that. Both affect what is seen aka reality e.g. experienced and thus inform our actions, or how we feel about them.

In our waking life I think that many of us are standing in the room with the small, framed window. It isn’t until we enter the world of the dream that our frame widens, even disappears, and holds the potential of infinite possibilities. What would happen if we treated our waking lives in the same manner e.g. as a frame with infinite possibility? What would happen if we let go of what we think our life should be and embraced what it is?

What would happen if we were to get up off our tuchus and walk over to the window and stick our head out to get a broader and clearer view?

Well, there’s always tomorrow.