Archive for the ‘inner world’ tag
Yesterday, I woke up to snow falling while in Lloydminster, Alberta visiting at my son’s home. After packing up after a week of visiting, it was time to drive home through what ended up to be a small blizzard.While in my son’s house, the snow pulled a sense of well being from within me. I saw the snow flakes as soft, clean and beautiful. Yet, it was only an hour later those same snowflakes became a threat to my safety, perhaps even to my survival. I saw one car with passengers end up in a highway ditch in front of me. My response was one of increased caution. I finally got home after a few extra hours on the highway. The last part of the drive was snow-free. It was as if I had dropped out of one universe only to land in a different universe.
I am reminded of the different universes that I meet in the inner spaces of my own psyche and how these universes evoke different responses within me. Sometimes the same inner universe presents me with a different “feel” and “awareness” than is usual. This shift of feel is a reminder that I am not yet ready to claim full awareness, not yet ready to claim that I have discovered a truth.
”Theories in psychology are the very devil. It is true that we need certain points of view for their orienting and heuristic value; but they always should be regarded as mere auxiliary concepts that can be laid aside at any time. We still know so very little about the psyche that it is positively grotesque to think we are far enough advanced to frame general theories. We have not yet established the empirical extent of the psyche’s phenomenology: how then can we dream of general theories? No doubt theory is the best cloak for lack of experience and ignorance, but the consequences are depressing: bigotedness, superficiality, and scientific sectarianism.” (Jung, CW Vol. 17, p. 7)
In my last post, I talked about how I lost my sense of being Jungian, Buddhist, Christian and whatever else I may have latched onto in an attempt to define myself, to hold as a theory of the nature of my individual psyche. That all fell apart and in the process, I began to get glimmers of self that defied any attempt I could make either with or without words. It ends up a very messy thing, but in some strange way, that messiness is freeing and I don’t have to try and force myself to fit into limited, self-created containers. I am free to wonder with a bit of awe and mystery about myself. And in the process, I find myself also free to experience the presence of others as beings of mystery.
My mind has been busy of late even though I have spent a lot of time away from my computer and those things that often feed my mind with all sorts of data. Rather than a focus on books, my mind has been occupied with sorting through sensory data that has been flooding in due to “engagement” with face-to-face life. Taking two weeks off from the “process” of analysis and leaving Calgary in order to spend the time in my home in Saskatchewan has given me an opportunity to break through the routines that somehow shift a person into a more “unconscious” way of being.
One of my latest dreams highlights the need for being “real,” whatever that proves to be. I called the dream “Haqiqia Boots” because in the dream the word “haqiqia” was both heard and seen. In the dream I found myself in a cold, wintry scene without winter boots. The dream was a positive dream in terms of tone and feel, with the main concern whether or not I should have my real winter boots sent to me or if I should buy some new ones. The dream’s location seemed to come out of my distant past where I began my career in education, but with a corresponding resemblance to the relatively recent past where I was still engaged in teaching in China even though I had officially retired, a blend of the two. Just a little side note to add; I was given a “real” traditional pair of winter boots the day before the dream.
Of course, the dream of winter boots is easily explained due to the event of being given the pair of boots. Winter boots require a winter scene. The fact that I used boots similar to these boots while living in Canada’s far north where I began my teaching and school administration career “fit” with the idea in the dream of teaching. But there, common sense came to an end. Why the reference to China? Was it because China was my most recent experience of teaching? It didn’t seem real to me at that point as the urban Chinese experience didn’t fit the location. Looking for something to make the connection, I hoped that the word “haqiqia” would fill in the gap of missing knowledge, missing information that would allow the dream to “talk” to me.
I began to wonder if the word “haqiqia” was a Cree or Dene word, or even a Chinese word given the sense of both Northern Canada and China that was being evoked. Curious, I did a “Google” search and found thatI began to wonder if the word “haqiqia” was a Cree or Dene word, or even a Chinese word given the sense of both Northern Canada and China that was being evoked. Curious, I did a “Google” search and found that the the word “haqiqia” was actually an Arabic word. Using both “Google Translate” and “Babylon Translator” I came up with the same definition – “real.” was actually an Arabic word. Using both “Google Translate” and “Babylon Translator” I came up with the same definition – “real.” Now, I was really confused. How could I know an Arabic word (this has happened on a previous occasion in a dream in 1998, the appearance of an Arabic word)? How could I explain “seeing” and “hearing” this Arabic word in relation to a pair of winter boots, real winter boots?
Now, to go further into the dream work, I had to look at the recent emotional situation of my life allowing for resonance and feeling tones to help discover the intention of the dream. But rather than go further into the dream work here, I want to return to the word “haqiqia” as this was the dominant aspect of the dream as I felt and understood it at the time of the dream and afterwords. “Real – haqiqia.” Out of curiosity I then did a wider search and found that the word “haqiqi” is an Urdu word that means “true, real.” I knew that Urdu is a language spoken in India and Pakistan so I wondered how this could match up with the Arabic word so perfectly. A bit more research and I found that Urdu was a language that came with the Muslim migration to southern Asia. Was all of this taking me further and further from the dream? I was beginning to think so until I realised that the word “real / haqiqia” was being confirmed as the “core” element of the dream, that I shouldn’t be distracted by the surreal aspects of the dream, that I needed to come to grips with “reality,” to be “true” to my “self” on my journey that bounces between Calgary and Saskatchewan.
This photo was obviously edited drastically. I looked for this image after putting in the quotation below and writing the first paragraph beneath the quotation. I was looking for something that could evoke a distance from objective reality, evoke fuzziness so that one can dive right into the heart of a matter rather than getting tripped up by distracting bits of the outer ego-world. In the outer world, all seems to be fairly straight forward for the most part – get up, go to work, make a living, make friends, be active, be in relationship, accumulate enough stuff so that one doesn’t feel like a pauper, enough stuff so that food, shelter and clothing are ensured for decades longer than we can possibly live. It is the inner voices that screw us up, make us question almost anything. Without those inner voices we would be somewhat satisfied, like a dog is satisfied with food, warmth and relationship and a bit of loving attention. No questions asked, no answers needed – life just is.
But as I see in this photo, I can diffuse it as much as possible and still there are things emerging that show “heat,” an energy that defies the objective reality. In noticing this, I sense that there is something at depth, beneath the surface within me that seems to be a face of “other.” That is something “numinous,” something archetypal.
“Since we cannot step back into simplicity, and cannot revive images once the energy that animated them has departed, and since we cannot afford to live ; it is certainly less affectively charged than being swept up in the awesomeness of an archetype, but it is our responsibility to become conscious of what is already true, that is, what is already at work within the individual and within history.” (Hollis, Tracking the Gods, p. 52)
After the recent adventures, it is taking me a bit of time to get back into focus and balance. yesterday was a day of aimless wandering and aimless doing while my body processed the drama. Today I am more “with it” and found myself returning to my reading. As I turned the page of Hollis’ book, I found the above text highlighted (yes, I know, it is a sacrilege to use highlighters in books) and felt the words take on more meaning for me than my previous reading. I am responsible and cannot lay the responsibility onto another, onto any belief system, any faith system. I cannot stand as a victim and give up my responsibility to any outside agency, or more importantly, give up my authority to the unconscious.
I want to look deeper into the drama that was presented as a poem here, yesterday. As I sat through and walked through the “affect” that was more than physical, I began to wonder at a deeper level. If I leave the event as a seemingly “chance” act in which I had the misfortune of being a by-standing presence, the drama has no meaning beyond simply being what it was, a shooting that essentially had nothing to do with me other than that “chance” occurrence of presence. It was what it was and no more. But, if I look beyond the thin skin of reality, something else begins to show its face; something in the depths that is about the connectedness of the universe.
What? What is there for me in those events that is asking to be noticed from the depths? What is there for me to learn? These are questions that acknowledge that life is meaningful, that all life is connected, that there is more than what meets the senses in our world. So now, I find myself trying to understand what was there for me, what was there that would help move me forward from a state of unconscious participation to consciousness?
Of course, I don’t have the answers, but I do have an opportunity to discover, to self-discover. And that, is all I can ask of my self and of the world.
Today’s image was borrowed from Top News. This is a relatively recent photo of Canada’s Prime Minister. My intention is using this photo is to attempt to capture the attitude of contempt. This is a Prime Minister who has no trouble lying to anyone and everyone in public while promoting a vision of taking down other political parties and destroying the social fabric of Canada in favour of vested economic interests which are not necessarily aligned with any particular nation. In my opinion, he is not much different from many other leaders, acting out of a collective shadow in the attempt to gain and keep power. And, I am sure, that inside of all of this darkness, there is a man who is as lost as the rest of us, a good man, who search for meaning in a world that has descended into meaningless chaos.
Perhaps it is because I spent a fair number of my youth in Ottawa, but I have a passion for political engagement and find myself very worried about the state of Democracy in the modern world, the U.S.A. and Canada in particular. In Ottawa, our present government appears to have obtained its majority government power through the use of dirty tricks and outright fraud - actions which had they been done by ordinary citizens, would result in jail terms. What we get instead of justice is a sneering contempt of the citizens and vitriolic attacks on anyone and everyone that dares point fingers or ask questions. As far as questioning the current government, media is limited in the number of questions they may ask, questions which are provided by the current government, and then having the government choose which journalist from Main Stream Media is permitted to ask these questions. To all appearances, democracy is being dismantled in favour of corporate power, a power that has no geopolitical boundaries. I don’t want to make this post a political rant, but I do want to set the current situation in the spotlight for the purposes of looking at the current myth.
“The crises of the world are not just “out there” in the geopolitical sphere but “in here” in the individual soul. The questions, explanations and great rhythms that once guided the soul by way of living myth are still within us, still guiding our lives. And we are obliged to render this process more conscious lest we live blindly, false to ourselves and false to nature. . . . we must more consciously create our own myth or be enslaved to the myth of another. (Hollis, Tracking the Gods, p. 29)
And important reminder – the darkness and chaos we sense in our communities and countries are a reflection of the darkness and chaos within us. As I listen to the strident voices ranting, condemning, preaching, threatening and pleading – all the energy directed outwards in an effort to refashion the world into a different world of which there is no common vision – I become more and more certain that the real work to be done is to first get one’s own house in order; take care of one’s inner world, the inner darkness and chaos. I do have hope, but that hope isn’t for a quick turn around on the collective level. I get the feeling that there is a lot of hurt to come for as Carl G. Jung once said: ”What is not brought to consciousness, comes to us as fate.” And to my mind, there is little evidence of collective consciousness governing our world. We push out the darkness, our personal and collective inner darkness, onto others and as a collective we then find that inner darkness running amok in our outer world.
I just had to take this photo as it has been two years since I last was able to enjoy an new snowfall. The scene was what counted and held meaning for me – the snow that fell during the morning was melting in the late afternoon sunshine which was adding a layer of golden light. The photo wasn’t taken for the blog, but rather just because it seemed like a good idea to take the photo.
But after laying in bed, unable to sleep any more despite the early hour, my head filled with the images, the events of the day and the quickly approaching psychoanalytic adventure in Calgary; this image emerged as symbolic of that need to hold the tension a little longer. The adventure begins in a week and it is important to be present in each of the spaces and places that I find myself until then. The snow fall was a gentle reminder that it is still winter. The sunshine was a promise that soon spring will come and life will become re-animated.
Of course I knew this and wondered more about why I needed to be told this through the image and the experience of taking that image. Why?
Well, I guess it has to do with the fact that though this journey of individuation is a singular journey that travels a hidden path in a trackless universe within me; I really am not making the journey alone.
Stopping for a pause at my son’s home for a few days, I found family being intimately present, fully aware of who I am and what is happening to me. The care and concern and gentleness overwhelms me and serves to inspire me at the same time. Yes, I am embarking on a path that in many ways appears to be an act of self focus (not the same as selfishness); but the truth is that the journey of individuation is all about becoming whole so that one can be in relationship to others in a better way, a way that adds to their life rather than stealing energy out of their life. This is the gift my son, his wife, little Grayson and my nephew are giving me during my stay in the Toronto area.
But that isn’t the whole story of why. The why centers around this woman beside her grandson. This is the second time I have entered into this wild ride in an attempt to battle the demons and darkness of an inner world. Both times have resulted in her putting career aside as she chose me over her own passions and dreams. Leaving China and our lecture positions at the university has brought that part of life to a close, perhaps too early for her as she loved what she was doing and her students adored her (with good reason). All along the way she is facing losses, repeatedly having to go through grieving for what she leaves behind. And I wonder why?
Like me, she has to hold the tension, waiting and hoping that this time the process will do what it needs to do in order to allow her to have her life back. And it is there that I finally understand something important. Her life, similar to my life, is one that is only whole in relationship. The loss of relationship would be the greatest loss. Embracing relationship as whole individuals, even as broken individuals is what animate both of us. She is my anima, externalized, and I am her animus. Though the inner world finds me often engaged in epic battles that make a world war pale, the knowledge that my soul is safe, and with that soul, my life; I dare to strip myself bare to face the demons, gods and goddesses, and the complexes that seek to draw me deeper into the darkness so that they can find a way to escape their inner prison and bring their darkness to the outer world.
Two becoming one; two becoming whole – a holy union. For me, this outward manifestation of the holy union of masculine and feminine in the outer world teaches me, encourages me to continue the inner journey where another holy union will take place, something C.G. Jung called Mysterium Coniunctionis.
Yesterday I posted a photo which was similar to this photo. The difference is that today’s photo puts yesterday’s photo in context. A day older, I find myself shifting my focus away from the darkness to the light, to the golden light. In the darkness of yesterday, there was a reflection of that golden light, a reflection that taught me to look “up” from the depths and to follow my eyes up from the depths to find a place somewhere between the light and the darkness. And so, today, I am finding that I can be here with you from this middle ground.
The voice one uses from the depths is different from the voice from the middle ground and the heights. I have to realise that I am a human that needs to live in a world in the middle. If I fly to high into the light, I will suffer like Icarius. If I fly too low I will enter into an equally dangerous place.
As I am getting older, I am getting a bit more impatient. I want to know too much, to find too many answers in too much of a hurry. My psyche tells me to slow down and allow it all to work out in its own time, to stop “forcing” the issue. But that same psyche doesn’t tell me what is slow enough. It becomes my work to monitor with a small part of my brain and body, what is happening, to make that call of “too much” and “too fast” for me. And I listen to that small part of my body and mind.
So today, I find myself sitting peacefully on my balcony after a morning of sunning and swimming and letting go of the darkness that has engulfed me. I chose the descent and I now choose this time of surfacing. I will be diving again when it is time. This is just the way it is as I take a month in Thailand for the healing work of depth psychology.
I have to admit that I haven’t been doing as well as I thought since the day my mother died. I had thought that I was prepared for her death knowing that it was coming and having had a week-long visit with her in order to say our good-byes. It took four days for the tears to finally come and allow the pressure to ease up.
I descended into a darkness. I felt an intense guilt about still being alive even though it seemed a part of me had died; it was almost as if the creative inner force within me, my very soul had died. I wanted to disappear, forever, into that darkness. I was forgetting to breathe. A vise had seized my lower stomach and was squeezing for all it was worth and all I wanted was for it to stop, for stop to the pressure and pain.
But, I was not alone through this. My good wife was there as well. It is not easy being with one who is often not in this world. That we were on holidays, whose dates were of our choosing more than a month ago, when my mother died was yet another blessing though it tainted the idea of this being a holiday. I didn’t have to bury feeling even more while I would have gone through the motions of teaching. I had a time, space and place to go through this process.
Meditating at least twice a day while here in the Philippines, having adopted this routine of a morning meditation on the balcony and an afternoon meditation in a secluded beach location where the sound of the waves add to the meditative experience, has provided me no small measure of additional release. Now, with this post, it feels as though there has been a shift and I am now emerging out of the darkness.
Today’s photos were taken by my wife. The scene is a cliff-side cave quite a distance south from where we are staying. The rock was hard and sharp, but for some reason, this was okay. At least it let me know that once again, I can feel.
I’ve chosen another image from Angkor Wat to bring here, this one being away from the temples, as the collection of broken pieces has its own story to tell. It’s interesting to me how we work so hard to dig up the past and try to reconstruct the stories that are embedded in rubble and detritus. While in Angkor Wat I got to hear of the usual excesses of power from the past that had been part of what it took to construct the temples which dwarfed humans. Deep within we respond to these excesses and their manifestations as though we are moths caught in the light, unable to shift our focus and attention.
When we take the journey within our inner dark spaces, a process we call psychotherapy or psychoanalysis, we carefully pick up each remnant from the past, almost reverently in order to learn the stories that lie hidden in the darkness and shadows. Our guides in this process are aware of a fuller story but can only guide us to our small truths as we are ready, as we recognize them. Until one is ready, the rubble within is just rubble. When one is ready, images begin to emerge and it becomes a work to fit the small pieces together in order to bring to consciousness that which has been lost.
As I wrote these last words, I thought of the movie, What Dreams May Come, particularly the images of the main actor [Robin Williams] wandering through hell in search of his wife – so much wreckage, so much in ruins. I like to think that C.G. Jung was the inspiration of this film, but I must give the credit to Shakespeare who wrote:
“For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.” (Shakespeare, Hamlet)
Picking through the pieces, one finds a path back into life in the outer world, a life that is more vibrant, more animated. One is reborn into a more conscious life, a feeling that suggests a rising from the dead and ascending into heaven.
I woke up earlier than normal today. I tired going back to sleep when I found out how early but it was to no avail. So I gave in and left the bed in order to check my email. Why did I wake up so early? Perhaps it was so that I could deal with a dream that was remembered. Usually I don’t present dreams here, but I will make another rare exception as this dream may have some meaning that goes beyond my self as an individual. Now, the dream, or at least a fragment of the dream:
I am in a curious place that is both countryside and urban and the mood is tense . . . I soon find that I need to escape the location and the tension so I leave and follow a road out in to a deeper countryside . . . the road is soon bordered by water . . . I walk for what seems to be hours and hours and watch as the background scenery changes . . . the water along side of the road which has now become a narrow sandy path presses closer . . . I look far ahead and see the golden sandy trail continuing on towards a distant horizon and realise that I can’t get there that easily, that I will be hungry and weak and unable to complete the distance to the unknown destination … I walk a bit further then sit down thinking that perhaps I should turn back . . . I resist and decide to go forward but the path is narrow and I don’t trust myself to walk without falling into the water, so I get down on all fours and slowly go forward . . . before too long I stop and berate myself and decide to return back to where it was easier . . . I find the path now under the water just a few inches and so crawl using my hands to pull me along while my body floats on the surface . . . it seems the water is rising or I have taken a wrong turn somehow . . . I press on for a while and find my way blocked with all kinds of long tubing as though I have run into a construction site . . . I have to crawl over the white plastic pipes and find a place to stand on them and look out and back to try and find the real road back to where I had come from . . . nothing . . . nothing but water . . .
As I woke from the dream I knew that this was one dream I would remember. I immediately thought that it would also be taken to today’s blog post. It seemed clear to me that the dream was telling me something that I have long known but not really believed applied to myself. Once one begins to consciously take the road towards a greater consciousness, to dare to be the individual one discovers beneath the roles and masks one wears in community; one can never go back to the way it was. One is left with two choices, to continue the journey in spite of the risks or one can quit the journey and become lost to the self.
I am writing today’s post from the airport in Toronto as I wait for the boarding call to ShangHai. I have been fortunate over the past two weeks to be with my grandson and his family. It didn’t take many days before I was the adult to go to for the little guy, especially as I got to care for him when he was ill and not able to go to playschool. The photo taken above is from yesterday morning. There is little question that the bonding went two ways and for that I am immensely thankful and blessed.
Relationship is vital and unavoidable. I often talk here of individuation and I wonder if some of my readers mistake individuation as being something that exists separate from relationship. Individuation is about getting to know oneself through interactions with others in the outer world, with objects in the outer world as well as the culture and place on the planet in which we find ourselves. Relationship must also consider an inner world filled with its own cast of characters and complexes and landscapes. What we discover about ourselves is only possible through our responses and our awareness of our responses to both inner and outer worlds.
One does not live in a bubble that excludes the inner and outer worlds. In absence of inner and outer world there is no sense of self, no sense of separateness, no sense of otherness. Two weeks watching my grandson expand his awareness of both himself and his grandfather has taught both of us, blessed both of us. And, as a result I leave his home a better man.