I sat on an immense boulder, while ancient ferns and rotting tree trunks spread out beneath my feet. Towering cliffs rose above me, ancient giants waiting for their questions to be answered. I had come there to explore the seascape, only to find myself trapped in a seemingly endless maze of meandering trails, a labyrinthine convolution that would not be soon explicated. 

My way was lit only by fireflies. These had been my constant companions throughout the journey. I began to contemplate the inner tempest I had endured. The knot in my throat screamed for understanding, but there would be none today. Life was meant for the knot and the knot for life. Many have trodden this path and have never been heard from again. But, they didn’t have fireflies for companions.

Suddenly, I was startled by the sound of Sol rising in the sky. He was angry with Luna and was waging war on Her. As I sat there, a fierce battle raged on before my eyes. Much to my dismay, Sol was victorious this time. Maybe tomorrow it would be different.

After Sol’s victory, the fireflies retreated to the surrounding hills. Some semblance of normality had returned to the primeval forest. I no longer needed a guide because the lichen on the dead, decaying trees glowed emerald green.

Realizing the futility of normality, I decided to lie down among the lush foliage and pass from this world.

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Time Of The Ibis

In the rounding years of one’s life, there are times when light begins to dim, the dusk of being, if you will. I once had such a life, in the distant future or distant past, I know not. It was a moment, a glimpse into something better than this moment. It was a utopian dream, perhaps, but I tend to think it was a spiraling.

What? You’re not familiar with the term, “spiraling”? Well, let me tell you, it is a whirling beat of a drum, a dance. It is a flourishing moment, awash with sorrow that cannot be conceived. It is the memory of a deep place, but not too deep. There are such places; we simply have never heard them.

But, I digress. Back to the gloaming. This is the moment when Being is less interested in the light; it is too blinding and it blisters the skin. Shadows grow strong and wise. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is the time of of the Ibis.

This is my favorite moment.

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A Simple Life

To live content with small means. To seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion. To be worthy not respectable, and wealthy not rich. To listen to stars and birds and babes and sages with an open heart. To study hard, think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions. Never hurry. In a word, to let the spiritual, the unbidden and the unconscious rise up through the common. This is my symphony. –William Henry Channing (1810-1884)

This is such a wise saying. I couldn’t resist writing something about it. If we were to heed the greedy, avaricious, consumer-driven voices of our culture, we would think these words to have been written by an insane man. Thank the gods we don’t listen to them. This is basically the same simple life of Taoism. Chuang Tzu says

Do not seek fame. Do not make plans. Do not be absorbed by activities. Do not think that you know. Be aware of all that is and dwell in the infinite. Wander where there is no path. Be all that Heaven gave you, but act as though you have received nothing. Be empty, that is all. The mind of a perfect man is like a mirror. It grasps nothing. It expects nothing. It reflects but does not hold. Therefore the perfect man can act without effort. (From a translation of The Sage King, Inner Chapters by Chang Tsu)

How such a philosophy, if implemented, would turn our world completely upside down!

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How Much Is Enough?

This quote from C.G. Jung comes from his book, Psychology And The East. It is a very poignant message for our culture. It speaks to the quest for possessions and wanton consumerism that is commensurate with the upcoming Christmas season.

The externalization of culture may do away with a great many evils whose removal seems most desirable and beneficial, yet this step forward, as experience shows, is all too clearly paid for with a loss of spiritual culture. It is undeniably much more comfortable to live in a well-planned and hygienically equipped house, but this still does not answer the question of who is the dweller in this house and whether his soul rejoices in the same order and cleanliness as the house which ministers to his outer life. The man whose interests are all outside is never satisfied with what is necessary, but is perpetually hankering after something more and better which, true to his bias, he always seeks outside himself. He forgets completely that, for all his outward successes, he himself remains the same inwardly, and he therefore laments his poverty if he possesses only one automobile when the majority have two. Obviously the outward lives of men could do with a lot more bettering and beautifying, but these things lose their meaning when the inner man does not keep pace with them. To be satiated with “necessities” is no doubt an inestimable source of happiness, yet the inner man continues to raise his claim, and this can be satisfied by no outward possessions. And the less this voice is heard in the chase after the brilliant things of this world, the more the inner man becomes the source of inexplicable misfortune and uncomprehended unhappiness in the midst of living conditions whose outcome was expected to be entirely different. The externalization of life turns to incurable suffering, because no one can understand why he should suffer from himself. No one wonders at his insatiability, but regards it as his lawful right, never thinking that the one-sidedness of this psychic diet leads in the end to the gravest disturbances of equilibrium. That is the sickness of Western man, and he will not rest until he has infected the whole world with his own greedy restlessness (para. 962).

Jung, C. G. (1978). Psychology and the East. (R. F. C. Hull, Trans.), from The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vols. 10, 11, 13, and 18. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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One World Government?

For some time, there has been speculation that a shadowy cabal exists in our world that has conspired to lead us down the road to a one-world government. Some call this the Illuminati, or the New World Order. Some claim the Freemasons are behind it, or the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, or the Council On Foreign Relations. It is truly a fascinating mythology of the most complex twists and turns. There is some evidence, I suppose, that it’s all true.

What if, however, we don’t look at this “conspiracy theory” so literally? What if we look at it as a story emanating from the collective unconscious? Perhaps the claims are, indeed, factual; most myths have their origin in empirical facts. For our purposes, however, let us lay aside the literal meaning for now and examine the imaginal contents of this theory.

The first thing we must understand is that this theory is a collective myth. It has arisen out of the psyches of many people the world over, in one form or another. It is a story being told by the anima mundi, or World-Soul.

Conspiracy theories have been around as long as there have been social groups, especially secret societies. Things done in secret always arouse suspicion.

The psychological tendency for humans to fear the rule of a one-world government is a reaction against a paternalistic, overly-rational, monotheistic self-tyranny. James Hillman wrote,

To define my person by my waking state neglects [the many dream] figures and their influences. I then become tyrannical, reflecting the jealous monotheism of Number One, who will not recognize the existence of independent partial personalities, and through this denial places them outside in the world, where the internal influences of complexes now become paranoid fears of invasions by enemies.
(Re-Visioning Psychology, page 33, brackets mine)

Hillman is here discussing the temptation of humans to understand the inner state in a monotheistic fashion, ignoring the multitude of personalities who make up the human psyche. The more primal viewpoint, polytheism, actually better coincides with the natural state of the psyche.

Hillman breaks with Jung in a major way. Jung taught that the archetypes, or inner personalities, could be integrated (individuation) into what he called The Self, kind of a Christic Center of the psyche. Individuation equals wholeness. Hillman sees this as just another example of monotheistic thinking. He would rather the archetypes remain independent and unique. The entire monotheistic/monistic concept is a form of ego-consciousness. The heroic Ego, like Hercules, believes it can subdue all others to itself and stand as Number One.

This idea, applied macrocosmically, gives ample evidence as to why nations need to remain autonomous. If it is healthier for the inner persons to remain independent and autonomous, then, according to the principle, As above, so below, it is healthier for nations to remain autonomous as well.

There is tyranny when only one rules. The One is jealous of all others. The mythology of one-world rule is a projection of our inner paranoia, our fear of a self-tyranny.

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The Dance Of Death

Gray melancholy clouds hung overhead, as I watched a leaf being carried by an almost forgotten breeze. I wept when I noticed it, for it reminded me of the Dance Of Death. The leaf was brown and brittle, its life almost sapped. It fluttered in the now indecisive wind, first this way, then that. But, in all it’s dying, there was deep meaning there. It wasn’t something you could rationalize, or put into words. There was something zen-like about it, something feeling-toned.

As I watched it, I suddenly found myself in another realm. The place was dark, mist-filled, enigmatic, inexplicable. It appeared to be a wasteland. I noticed, on the horizon, a path leading up the mountain. Its peak was heavily shrouded in a blanket of fog.

I was quite confused by all this, not really afraid. Even though this was a harrowing experience, I felt a little thrilled as well.

I made my way across a dark field filled with stumps of trees and overgrown brush. It looked as though an ancient war had been waged here.

The undercurrent of the night ran silently along the well-lit pathway, as blue gleams of starlight beckoned to me with outstretched arms. I rode along, not really minding the struggle going on below me. I knew it was simply part of The Plan; it was a necessity.

The path murmured unintelligibly. I couldn’t quite make out what it was saying, but it had something to do with lights above us.

Suddenly, a mirror fell and smashed into the night. I could no longer behold my image, which, like Narcissus, I had fallen in love with. I was torn between a love for day and a love for night. Daytime meant nourishment and growth, but night! O night! It was very pleasant, more sensuous. It was warm and moist and feelings were more whimsical.

I allowed the night to take me where it would. Uncertainty filled my mind, but I knew when the journey ended, I would Be.

A strong feeling of intense euphoria suddenly arose in me. I leaned into it, allowing the emotion to wash over me completely. Eventually, I sensed a spurt of pure energy exit my body, as strange sounds emanated from the valley below.

“Is this satori?” I asked myself, as I lost consciousness.

When I awoke, I was sitting beside a sea of loathsome despair, waiting for death to arrive. The air was black as pitch. The stars above sang a noisome tune concerning their origin and their wish for death as well. The Burning One came and sat down beside me. His shadowy visage recited a dark saga from long ago. The nitre hung from his fingertips like jungle vines falling from trees. He told me of terrible things, things which caused my ears to become as stone. I listened, but after awhile, I could no longer endure the dismal tale.

Suddenly, a banshee howled and all quiet fled away like a dole of doves startled by a gunshot. It turned my heart to ice and my skin to pale green. The moment of reckoning had come. The day of rest was at hand. I knew that I must listen to the scream and I did so until it echoed away into the night. Bright points of light streamed from holes in the canopy above me, signalling to me that a voice, in a whisper, was about to speak. In that harrowing night, it was made known to me why I had been on the earth and what I was supposed to have accomplished. I was driven to despair that I had not done so.

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The Meaning Of Life Part VIII

Photo by BernardP

Modernity is characterized by the fact that man has emerged from his in-ness in a horizon, from his containment in a womb; all the facts discussed under the heading “the end of in-ness” above are evidence to this development. Of course I am here not speaking about empirical individuals. When I say “man” here, I am speaking about the general form of the logical constitution of being human, the concept or logic as the medium of the existence of a concrete empirical individual. Man has emerged from the ocean of meaning. He raised his head above the surface of the ocean and now has it out in the open. He has awakened from the One Dream or Sandplay that existence in the world had been and now is fundamentally and irrevocably extra ecclesiam, as Jung had pointed out, as well as extra naturam. He has lost his myths, his symbols. He now looks back down upon consciousness at large from outside. The flight to the moon and beyond to other planets, the observation of planet Earth from satellites, the looking back down upon the Earth from outer space: all this is the technical objectification of the psychological fact that consciousness has now taken a position outside itself and has become aware of itself and of man as consciousness. He has hatched from the Orphic world egg (End Of Meaning, by Wolfgang Geigerich).

Man has emerged from the ocean of meaning and has no idea what he has emerged from. He does not recall what he has lost. This is why we ask the question, “What is the meaning of life?” Man once swam in meaning, but now he has walked out of it and cannot remember from whence he came.

Spending one’s life searching for meaning seems to have the opposite effect, i.e. the more one searches, the more life seems meaningless. It is akin to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which states that

the more precisely one variable is known, the less precisely the other is known. This is not a statement about the limitations of a researcher’s ability to measure particular quantities of a system, but rather about the nature of the system itself (Wikipedia).

I can say it no better than Geigerich himself:

What is the delusion? The search for meaning seeks something that cannot be sought, because any seeking for it destroys what is to be gained. Meaning is not an entity that could be had, not a creed, a doctrine, a worldview, also not something like the fairytale treasure hard to attain. It is not semantic, not a content. Meaning, where it indeed exists, is first of all an implicit fact of existence, its a priori. It can never be the answer to a question; it is, conversely, an unquestioned and unquestionable certainty that predates any possible questioning. It is the groundedness of existence, a sense of embeddedness in life, of containment in the world—perhaps we could even say of in-ness as the logic of existence as such. Meaning exists if the meaning of life is as self-evident as the in-ness in water is for fish (ibid.).

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