Archive for the ‘reality’ tag
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 is one of the pontoon bridges that I crossed while on a motorbike tour of rural Vietnam near HoiAn. Like most areas of Vietnam, this area suffered destruction during the American War with basically all the bridges destroyed sometimes just leaving a small section of a bridge to indicate where the bridge had originally been located. The quickest solution is to use barrels to float a rough plank bridge. Looking at the scene, one doesn’t think of war. One is left with an idyllic scene that is all about countryside, water and perhaps poverty. It is only in digging deeper that we see that the scene is all about a relationship that was violent.
But even a historical awareness doesn’t really tell us enough about what it is that one sees in the image. As hard as I look, I can’t truly “see” the “thing-in-itself” as Immanuel Kant had once said “Ding-an-Sich”. James Hollis rephrases Kant’s idea to say that one can: “never know the essential character of an external reality, but only the subjective, phenomenological workings of one’s own psychic experience.” One is trapped by one’s container, by one’s body and limited sense of consciousness. What one does perceive is then all about projection, even concrete things such as this bridge. I can almost hear the denials even in this print space. But just think for a moment about our differentiated responses to “things.” Some of us have pleasurable responses to certain odours or textures while some have an almost non-response or a negative response. We accept these possibilities based on how life experience teaches us to associate these things with negative, neutral or positive experiences. It doesn’t take much of a stretch to see that all external reality then is “framed” by our experiences in context to external “things.” Simply restated, everything has an affect based on projection and thus ceases to be a “thing-in-itself.”
Projections – to have a sense of otherness, whether the otherness is an object, animate life, place, sensory evidence or people can must contain a projection. With time and repeated contact, the projections can be withdrawn to reveal some of the “thing-in-itself” but not completely. The same goes for our awareness of other people. To have a sense of otherness in terms of another human, is to engage in some sort of relationship to that other person whether the relationship is that of family member, colleague, neighbour, teammate, friend, enemy, fan, or lover. As Hollis states:
“All relationships, all relationships, begin in projection.” (Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 36)
Just as we don’t, can’t know the “thing-in-itself,” we can’t ever know the “other-in-his/her-self.” We can claim to know, really know another person. But how true is this when one never does ever get to know the fullness that is one’s “self?”
This is one of the scenes I met with yesterday at WuZhen in ZheJiang province which is just south of JiangSu province where I live in China. Taking photos of water and boats is something I am drawn towards, something that isn’t necessarily planned consciously. And as usual, there is nothing about these kind of photographs that are about recording an event such as the event of yesterday which involved five foreign teachers being shown an ancient water city. Of course, I did take event photos as well as the photos that were simply moments of communion with unconsciousness, the collective unconscious as well as my personal unconscious.
I use Twitter and Facebook, two forms of social media, in order to connect with a larger world as well as reading a number of online newspapers. The words are sometimes overwhelming and confusing. It is easy to get lost in the words, in the constant flow of data that by its expression assumes a legitimacy. Yet I find the truths that run rampant do not fit together well, more often than not, they contradict each other. Images, words, sources, voices – - – all proclaim their truths. How can they all be truths? Wading through the flood of words, I hear voices that proclaim themselves to be masters, gurus, and leaders. I also here voices in panic as they echo the voices of the experts whom they come to trust. ”God is punishing Japan!” is a chant taken up by many fundamentalist Christians talking to other fundamentalist Christians. ”The world is coming to an end!” proclaims another group who study the stars and planets. I just shrug my shoulders and shake my head at these pronouncements and move on to search for something more rational to read. Yet, the echoes of these leaders found in others almost desperate to find something to hold onto is troubling. Words are powerful.
And so again, I look for other words to find something that resonates, something that will bring balance back for me. And, I find words from C.G. Jung, words spoken in 1959:
“. . . the danger that faces us today is that the whole of reality will be replaced by words. This accounts for the terrible lack of instinct in modern man, particularly the city-dweller. He lacks all contact with the life and breath of nature. He knows a rabbit or a cow only from the illustrated paper, the dictionary or the movies, and thinks he knows what it is really like – and is then amazed that cowsheds “smell,” . . . (Jung, CW 10, par. 882)
Words and voices and images that are not experienced in context are dangerous. I think of what is occurring in Libya knowing that there is a rebellion, even a revolution that has now engaged many nations. The planes, the bombs, the fear are real. Death is real. I felt the anger of the world on Twitter, an anger that is polarized with no one sitting in the middle. No one knows where the middle is anymore, a middle ground for the psyche and spirit of a people connected by culture, language and history. Outsiders rant, take sides, supply military weapons to the side of their choice and the encourage their team to kick ass.
All of the noise lets me know that consciousness is missing, that darkness assaults darkness breeding even more darkness. And we look at each other with the belief that we are more conscious than ever because of media, because of words. Personally, I need to be immersed into nature, into the numinous where babble is silent. I sense that it is only there that I can find a reality that isn’t so easily contained and explained, a fuller reality/
Yes, these are bats hanging in a tree, large fruit bats. The photo was taken in a park called Royal Independence Gardens, across the street from the Royal Residence in the middle of Siem Reap. I really don’t know much about bats in general and fruit bats in particular. I do know that I don’t have a fear of bats nor believe in vampires. What I do know is the fact of their being predominantly active in early evening and during the night, and that they are flying animals.
As I did a bit of basic research for this post, I wasn’t surprised to find that the bat has a dark as well as a light symbolic meaning. Since it is a creature of the night, for me, there is a sense of the bat being a go between between consciousness and the unconscious, a dream-world totem. At one cyberspace site, the bat is described:
“She is the Guardian of the Night and represents longevity, double nature, peace and wisdom. Bat is the totem of the shaman, teaching people to go into the night of inner darkness and emerge reborn while reminding them that eyes are only one way of seeing clearly.” (http://www.suite101.com/content/bat-a-powerful-pagan-symbol-a50822)
Wiki has a similar message to tell about the bat:
“Bats symbolize death and rebirth. Sometimes, they are known as the “Guardian of the Night.” It is largely misunderstood and so therefore many of its symbolic meanings are inappropriately fear-based. The bat is a symbol of rebirth and death because it is a creature that lives in the belly of the Mother (Earth). From the womb-like caves it emerges every evening at dusk. And so – from the womb it is reborn every evening.” (http://symbolism.wikia.com/wiki/Bat)
Transformation, rebirth, wisdom – these are ideas that seem to fit. I spent quite a bit of time under the trees watching and capturing images of these bats. There were literally thousands of these bats. I have to admit that I was entranced, wandering, listening, watching and recording. Then, I was returned to earth, to my body because of the bats. As I wandered under the trees, I was showered with bat urine. Returned to daytime reality in Siem Reap, I was reminded that I must be present in both worlds, the world of day and the world of night.
This is a photo I took of a butterfly sitting on a marigold flower in my garden – a real flower and a real butterfly. Yet, as you can see, it is not all that realistic because I used filters and editing to arrive at a different viewing point.
This is the same photo without editing other than cropping. Which one is “real?” Well, the truth is, both of them and none of them. The camera sees the scene through a lens and is limited in what is able to be captured by the sensor and the recording media. The result is an image, not the real thing in itself.
Yet, behind the image is something that is definitely real regardless of the filters through which that “something” is sensed or felt. One doesn’t even have to have the sense of sight to have and awareness of the flower. But of course, this blog post isn’t about the flower and the butterfly, it is about my “self.”
“. . . to acknowledge that whatever reality may be, it will to some extent be shaped by the lens through which we see it. When we are born we are handed multiple lenses: genetic inheritance, gender, a specific culture and the variables of our family environment, all of which constitute our sense of reality.” (Hollis, The Middle Passage, p. 9)
When it comes down to it in the final analysis, the only thing I can truly know must be filtered through my lenses. And as I grow older and perhaps a bit wiser because I have experienced bumping into the world and others, my lenses change. Some of those changes are due to ripples from my presence in life, and others are due to the ripples due to the presence of others. I have learned that I can choose the lens I want to use. And more than that, I have learned to enlarge focus and depth of field at will – or to allow focus to slip into a foggy place where it is almost impossible to be fully present in the outer world. Learning this has been followed by a realisation that it isn’t all under my conscious control. Emotions, complexes and the presence of archetypes have their way with my lens collection as well.
Of course I can always defer to the realities that come from outside, accept their versions of my reality, accept their truths. Most people seem to do this without much ado. But I find myself confused as I know that all that enters into my consciousness only enters through my filters, through my will. It is only by my choice to give up my authority over self that allows the truths of others to replace my own truths.
And so I learn to live with being responsible for myself, and accept that I can only know the world through my own lenses.
Yes, this is another look at the Canadian prairies in early winter time. We are a young country, especially in the western part of the country. Yet for our youth, there is a significant amount of abandoned buildings that suggest otherwise. For me, this tells me that our psyche is indeed old. Thought the places we now occupy are in a new land, we maintain the same ancient head spaces.
I have just finished reading, yet again, the story of the Trojan war with Achilles, Ajax, Odysseus, et al. And this morning on my beach walk, I came upon this sea aged bit of concrete. It reminded me of how things link to stories. And this one spoke to me of a past that has been destroyed by time and the elements. In a way, it is a marker of myths. And in myths we are able to listen to the true stories of the human psyche. Reading and listening to real events and real people doesn’t give us any truths. For, they are conscious constructions and as such are limited in what can be said. Myths are not limited by prosaic facts which are never reliable at the best of times. Myths skirt by detail in order to dive deep into the heart of the human psyche.
In the day-to-day world of being present, I have often seen how individuals in a collective can never see the same event. Having had the opportunity to speak to more than one ‘witness’ I am always amazed that they can be considered witnesses to an event. Sometimes what is seen and heard, even if filmed, is not even close to the reality of the whole event. Rather, like a good anthropologist, it is better to see the artifacts and to let them speak intuitively. When there is a sense of resonance, it is likely that one is close to the full story. And so, it is a wise person who will approach the world of mythology with an open head rather than dismiss myths as just another make-believe fairy tale.