Archive for the ‘spiritual’ tag
As I drove towards Canmore on Sunday for my Grassi Lakes hike, I stopped at Dead Man’s Flats in honour of the many other times I had stopped there while taking my children to visit family on Canada’s west coast. It became a tradition of sorts. I stopped because I saw the moon in the morning sky above one of the mountains and thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to capture that photo. Of course, once I was out of the car I began to wander and be present with where I was. I followed my ears as they lead me to Pigeon Creek. Once at the creek I was surprised by beautiful wild flowers. The time out had worked wonders for me and I was ready to head back to the car and complete the drive to Canmore. But, before I reached the car on my way back to the village, I saw this coyote who was calmly making his way into the edge of the hamlet. And in that moment, a bit more of my spirit was healed.
“Almost everyone who undertakes a true spiritual path will discover that a profound personal healing is a necessary part of his or her spiritual process. When this need is acknowledged, spiritual practice can be directed to bring such healing to body, heart, and mind. This is not a new notion. Since ancient times, spiritual practice has been described as a process of healing. The Buddha and Jesus were both known as healers of the body, as well as great physicians of the spirit.” (Kornfield, A Path With Heart, p. 40)
This is the view I have been meeting each morning while staying with my brother in British Columbia. There is a distinct silence in the early morning so far off the main roads and urban areas. It is as thought the space is inviting one to enter into a different level of consciousness, one that is deeply rooted with the earth, a soul space. I see my brother engage in a ritual of silence before the demands of his life kick in to fill his day with busyness. This is a ritual I have watched happen each of the days I have been here, a ritual I know must be part of his life , a moment of peace in a sacred place.
Rituals and sacred spaces – these are vital to the spirit and to the soul. My writing here is part of my ritual, a ritual that has been abandoned for a few days. Why have I missed posting here? I could say that life has kept me busy and I wouldn’t be lying as it has been an intense number of days, but that would still be an excuse. The ritual also needs a sacred space with both creating a sense of temenos. In Jungian terms, temenos is defined as: “A Greek word meaning a sacred, protected space; psychologically, descriptive of both a personal container and the sense of privacy that surrounds an analytical relationship.” – a physical space, a psychological space, a holy space, a place where one one engages in honesty with oneself and becomes part of an unconscious holiness. I haven’t created such a space for myself because of being distracted. It is only in pulling away from engagement with the local world I finally give myself permission to hear myself and rediscover the portable sacred space that exists within myself.
So what do I learn? There is a place and time that is always there for me if I allow myself to go there. Temenos is found within, not necessarily without.
Ta Promh has gifted me with more photos than I can ever use, as well as a life experience that I will never forget as long as I remain a conscious being. In this photo, a tree rises from the ruins of Ta Promh. The seed that became this tree belonged to the world of possibility. The possibility of life is the greatest mystery. Mystery is one way that I sense the spiritual, the existence of something that humans have given the name, God. As I look at this expression of mystery, I see two faces, one of creation and one of destruction, one of light and one of shadow.
“When we speak of “the gods” we are speaking metaphorically, as befits any approach to the mysterium tremendum, the great mystery. The gods are our personifications, please recall, the constructs of our limited intellects, which point toward the energies which run the cosmos and course through our being. So if one is “depressed,” then our being is not consonant with the intention of the gods. The gods may very well take us anywhere they damn well wish, of course, including depression as a steady state. But when we examine the psychodynamics, that is, the dynamics of the soul, we discern that depression is the expression of an energy transcendent to the ego’s choices, albeit felt as an oppression.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 104)
What is is that resonates for me and others in the presence of mysterium tremendum? Well it is that aspect of self that is the soul. I know the soul is there. here and in all that is me. I am a biological being, but the body is just the container, not the essence of who I am. Whatever it is that is the self is more that the body. Yet, the body has its role, its purpose in the life of the soul. As I come to realise this, I begin to understand better my purpose.
This understanding isn’t an intellectual understanding. My mind resists the fuzziness of soul, of this mysterium tremendum. My mind wants it all to be straightforward, provable to mind analytical mind, verifiable by my physical senses. As I resist the shadow and run into obstacles, my mind is taught a lesson and is reminded that I need to attend to ALL that floods my consciousness, even the stuff that only appears at the edge of consciousness, the numinous stuff. I resist too hard and find out that I don’t really have all the self-control that I think I have. The message is clear. I am not in this alone and I am part of a whole.
I was almost tempted to do a bit of photo editing with this photo taken just a few hours ago just before sunset here in Vientiane, Laos. The scene is the Mekong River as seen from the fifth floor outdoor restaurant in Vientiane, looking across the Mekong River toward Thailand. I was initially worried that there wasn’t enough “light” because I was facing into the west making the picture darker than it was. But, the thought to edit lasted about a half a second at most and I decided to leave it “as is.”
The afternoon spent in various temples as well as a book I am reading on my e-Reader have left me in a pensive mood. I think back to my original foray into Transcendental Meditation in the early 70s, reading Siddhartha by Hemann Hesse back in the same time period and find some peace in meditative approaches that have come to me naturally in the second half of my life. Perhaps it is because I find myself approaching life in the older lane to be a contemplative time. Regardless of the reason, the temples of Buddhism, Hinduism, and a collection of animistic beliefs find a resonance in terms of honouring the unknown.
I am not drawn to any particular “religion” though I am drawn to a more spiritual life. For me, religions and a spiritual life don’t exactly go together. One can be spiritual with a professed religion as one can be rigidly religions without having a spiritual bone in one’s body.I am drawn to the numinous such as is found in this photograph. For me, it is telling that it contains water, land and sunset colours.
I belong to the earth and water, I am made up of both earth and water. And in the natural flow of life, I will return to the natural elements from which I came. And in the meantime, meaning will arise from how I life my life through both my attitude and my actions.
I often take photos that mix elements such as this one where I capture water and earth, the union of separate elements. I decided to use a filter to bring a hint of black and white while still managing to capture a bit of green, a sense of life in what would otherwise be a dark, shadowy swampland. For me, this is a symbolic union of conscious and unconscious, the union of the masculine and feminine.
Of course, I am thinking of this union as something that happens within one rather than what happens between self and other, between man and woman.
That said, there is no question that what happens in the outer world will be reflected in the inner world, at least in opposite energies where what is denied in the outer world is given life in the inner world even if we are never conscious about what is going on within our own depths.
Jung calls this union of opposites, Mysterium Coniunctionis, the central theme of Collected Works volume 14. Listen to his words on the Personification of Opposites:
Our reason is often influenced far too much by purely physical considerations, so that the union of the sexes seems to it the only sensible thing and the urge for union the most sensible instinct of all. But if we conceive of nature in the higher sense as the totality of all phenomena, then the physical is only one of her aspects, the other is pneumatic or spiritual. The first has always been regarded as feminine, the second as masculine. The goal of one is union, the goal of the other is discrimination. Because it overvalues the physical, our contemporary reason lacks spiritual orientation, that is, pneuma. (Jung, CW 14, par 104)
There is so much more that Jung says, but that will have to wait. There are things here that I want to chew on for a bit, especially the bit about urges of physical versus the pull towards the spiritual. Somehow I get the feeling that midlife is a ripe time for this pull towards opposite urges to come to the forefront. The realisation that youth has been left behind and that our bodies are determined to remind us that we are changing is a crisis in itself. There is little doubt that one has begun a downward slide. Focusing on returning to an exercise regime lets one soon know that we can backtrack a bit, but we can never reverse the direction. Then, the shit starts to fly.
Why? What’s the whole purpose of the struggling in the first half of life? The kids are grown up, work is done, retirement is in place – so now what? Is that all there is? The only answer that can give any hope is that there is something deeper than what appears on the surface of life. There has to be meaning, there has to be a purpose for the second half of life that goes beyond taking up space and using up precious planetary resources. And in looking within, one gets to sense the presence of an answer, an answer that can’t be found on the outside, at least for me. It is this that draws me into something spiritual, something bigger than the sum total of my life.