Archive for the ‘Ta Promh’ tag
I searched for a while for today’s photo and decided that this photo taken in February in Angkor Wat deserved to brought forward for you, my readers. I chose the photo before any thoughts as to what today’s post was to be about as I was unsure about the direction of this post. As I come closer to returning to Canada for the summer, I find that I am disrupted from normal routines. I haven’t taken my camera out for a walk in weeks and my sleep patterns are changing as the weather warms up. I find it harder to focus, even to read. It is as though some alien force has clamped an energy suppressant shield over me.
I think some of this is due to the frustration I feel in trying to access Internet and write up posts. At times, the good times, I can simply turn on a browser and log into this page and write to my hearts content, taking time to search for the right photo and browse though a book or two to find words that resonate. Recently that freedom has all but vanished. I use a program called Freegate to try and get passed the Firewall used to limit the access both into and out of China’s web spaces. If there is a small opening in the wall, I can sneak in to catch up on a bit of reading and posting using social media such as Twitter or Facebook, media which shortens the distance between family and friends left behind. However, I can’t post blogs using Freegate as my host site in Canada doesn’t allow proxy access to do so.
Yet adding to the Internet issues is the perennial issue of end of course documentation so that the university can release grades and move on to a new term. At least Internet isn’t an issue in doing this work. However, it is a dull, dispiriting kind of work that drains the energy levels and leaves one lethargic.
I realise that this post is not much more than a rant, and that, thankfully is not typical for my way of being here. Now, if I could only get this tree off my back and renew my presence in both face-to-face life and here in my sacred container, Through A Jungian Lens.
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.
A second photo from the series taken at Ta Promh, a group of buildings and temples near Angkor Wat, shoes how trees have wrapped themselves around doors, walls and windows of one of the temple structures. I took the photo in the late afternoon, a time when light coats everything with a sheen of gold. Though the scene is one of abandonment and decay, there remains a strong sense of what was in place in the times before abandonment. There is a feel of almost holiness as if this was a once-upon-a-time favoured place of the gods.
As I look at the photo, I almost sense a heaviness, a depression. Yes, this is a holy place, but the intent of ego which was responsible for building the temple has been overthrown. The gods have responded to the ego and not in the expected manner. As Hollis would explain it, “the ego’s agenda is overthrown” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 109). What is it that overthrows the intentions of ego, the plans of men and women? Listen to Carl Jung’s thoughts on this matter:
“I know of the existence of God-images in general and in particular. I know it is a matter of a universal experience and, in so far as I am no exception, I know that I have such experience also, which I call God. It is the experience of my will over against another and very often stronger will, crossing my path often with seemingly disastrous results, putting strange ideas into my head and maneuvering my fate sometimes into most undesirable corners or giving it unexpected favorable twists, outside my knowledge and intention.” (Jung, Letters, vol. 2, pp 522-523)
God then is a personal god, one with which one battles. One knows that this god is present and has a presence that transcends all that one knows. Yet this personal god with whom one wrestles is also bigger than just a personal god for one person. This transcendent otherness is also engaging others and in found in places and within images. One knows this presence through some aspect of self and consciousness that is found only on the edges, a numinosity.
This image holds that sense of numinosity for me. This was a place for the gods, and curiously the photo “glows” pointing back to the gods that have transcended the time and place. And what is left becomes a temple that points to a God transcended, not a god tamed by man, contained by man’s stonework.
Going to Angkor Wat is an experience that gets extended with other temples in the relatively nearby area. This photo was taken at Ta Promh, a temple complex that didn’t get the care over the centuries that most of the temple sites enjoyed. As a result nature has reclaimed so much of the site and salvaging some of the site is a challenge.
When I saw these roots almost devouring the walls of the temple, I couldn’t help but think of the temple as the self. I think back of the time when I was so focused on others that the foundations of my self was eroding. I have to admit that I didn’t think of balance in my own life. I assumed that all I had to do was to put myself fully into parenting, being a marriage partner, teaching and coaching and a community member and all would be well. Each of these things I did was something worthy and honourable. Each of these things gave meaning to life and had value to myself as well as to others. So, how was my attention to these things having my self break down?
First, I believed that it was right to be unselfish, I actually still feel the same way. Only thing was in the past, I mistook the meaning of being selfish as taking time for my own mental health, my own psychic health. In most things, this actually caused me no end of problems. Whenever anyone asked what I wanted, I always would respond with figuring out what the person wanted so that I would choose correctly. If I dithered long enough, or simply returned the choice back to the other person, the correct decision would be made based on the wants of the others. Most times I had no opinion, no desires, just the desire to please, to be of use, to affirm the choices of others. But not always.
This was the key point, for each time I had an opinion or a desire and I would defer to another person, it ate at something deep within me. Over time, my opinion stopped being solicited and that added to my sense of unimportance. I taught those around me that my opinion wasn’t needed, that only their opinions and needs were of value. With balance falling further and further away, I became easily upset and as a result angry with myself for feeling upset as it was me being selfish.
Dreams warned me of the dangers of my eroding psychic foundations, but I ignored the warnings and worked harder than ever to fill my life with family, school, sports and service. With the foundations eroding, the control I had over shutting shadow out was evaporating. I became more and more irrational. It was only because of my training in counselling as a psychotherapist that I finally recognised what was happening and took a “time out” in order to bring balance back, to repair the foundations.