Saturday, October 18, 2008
He was 1sixteen years older than I. He was born of American parents who divorced. He moved to Genoa when he was six with his mother and lived in Genoa and Florence. His mother was a friend of Isadora Duncan, Ezra Pound, even Mussolini.
Douglass was taken around the Laurentian Library in Florence by Guido Biagi, fostering his love of handmade paper.
We met by chance(!) in 1946 in NYC, and married three weeks later. When Timothy went to Stanford, he met a cousin of Douglass’s, the family genealogist. Turned out the Howells and my Grandpa King’s ancestors came from the same little village in Oxfordshire, Marsh Gibbon, which in 1967 still had a population of only 200 souls!! Went there in 1967 with youngest daughter, Jennifer.
He was an eccentric genius, highly skilled, and focused 100 percent on making the finest handmade paper extant. His motives for marrying me are obscure, but I think the cruel episodes probably erupted out of immense frustration at the interruptions to his one goal as an artist. He had deep psychological complexes and was subject to outbreaks of rage and violence, but he did his best to support us with years of engraving wedding copperplates for Cartier. He was socially introverted, and would sometimes sit in the cellar in the dark.
He could not receive love or smile without a frown. But he did his best to support us, and I must have been a terrible disappointment to him at times, though in the end I worked to support him. But there were bright spells as well. He just refused any authority, a negative father complex. After the divorce, years later, we became friends and he respected my books and certainly taught me a lot in those years of daily lectures!
Astrologically, the combination of our charts was excruciatingly karmic but, in the end, we worked it through.
It is horribly unfair to only hear one side of a story. I wish he could tell his! He seemed unable to receive love. We all tried. You can Google him for his achievements. Just remember that my accounts were based on my projections but from the artist’s point of view, his suffering must have been even greater than mine. He died at eighty-six, a split, gifted, and tormented soul. If anyone could reach him in the end, it was our daughter Beth and perhaps the generosity of my beloved husband Walter.
I could not eat supper or sleep without adding this.
When I married my artist husband Douglass Howell, we were very poor. Thanks to a wealthy cousin of my mother’s, we were given the down payment to a small 30-x-32-foot house in a postwar development on Long Island. On our block were some twenty houses, and all were occupied by second generation Americans escaping the city, mostly Brooklyn. There were eventually at least twenty-five children under ten on our block. The parents, with one or two exceptions, were moving up, as we were slipping down in the social scale. I had grown up in the Social Register, lived in the finest hotels abroad, spoke four languages, etc., but had never lived in a home, or experienced neighbors, let alone kept house. We now lived on the wrong side of the tracks. Eventually we had four children, a hand press, and a handmade paper mill in the cellar.
I mentioned my son, Timothy, in my last post. On Sundays, I took the kids to the Episcopal Church. When Timothy was about seven, he was already taking Sunday School lessons to heart. My kids took the “first shall be last and the last shall be first" as a variation on the normal fight to see who could sit in the front seat of the car!
The other boys on our block included a bunch of good-natured bullies who fought in bunches. Invariably, Timothy would end up at the bottom of the pile. He is a Pisces, with Mars in that sign. Once his Leo six-year-old sister Abby came to the rescue with a stick, and the boys fled from her outrage! (No, Timothy was not a mama’s boy, but he did have Mars in Pisces!) When I asked him why he didn’t fight back, he replied, “Jesus said, if a guy hits you once, turn the other cheek!” Well, I couldn’t counter that, so I finally consulted M. M grinned and said, “To be sure. First time is one; second time is two, but he didn’t say anything about the third time!” Tim took this to heart, and I had my first lesson in masochism.
But I didn’t learn the lesson for myself and suffered for the next twenty years from a horribly negative animus which collaborated with accepting constant putdowns in every department from my spouse. Not knowing much about family life, I accepted this as a norm and became a closet martyr. Then one day on TV, on American Playhouse, I watched Eugene O’Neill’s play The Iceman Cometh! The plot involves a common laborer husband who abuses his wife; she forgives him; next time it’s worse and she forgives him and on and on. The climax comes, as I remember, when he blames her for constantly forgiving and not stopping him, and in the end, he jumps out the window! That was my second lesson in masochism. I was wearing a sign on my back saying KICK ME! so to speak. There are many, many cases of this in the world and still are.
I finally woke up when something so dire occurred that I knew it was wrong. So I went to the library and took out my forgotten friend Jung. I studied and learned that one cannot help anyone by pity, or change anyone but oneself. I learned about a negative animus. I learned that by changing one’s own consciousness, the outer circumstances will change.
I wanted to write my thanks to Jung and tell him that in reading The Secret of the Golden Flower I discovered that I possessed a twin of the Tibetan thangka that was his and is the frontispiece in the book. It was given to me by my mother’s friend, who had bought it in Peking before WW II. But who was I to write the great Jung? He died, and years later I read in his letters that at that very time he was despairing of ever being understood. So my life is my letter to Jung.
I studied Esther Harding and wrote her a seven-page letter and tore it up. Who was I to write the great EH! After twenty-six years, I finally left the marriage, and I read Edinger’s Ego and Archetype, wrote him, mailed the letter, and he wrote back! Phew.
Too late, I read in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas: “That which is within you, if it cometh forth will save you, but that which is within you, if it cometh not forth will destroy you. I just put down my head and wept.
To end on a lighter note, several years later, I took six of my students, boys eleven to fifteen, and my youngest daughter, Jennifer, to Scotland. We were in the Hebrides, and the boys wanted to camp out and cook over a fire, sleeping bags and all. I had driven the van all over the island, and we ended up opposite a quarry. The kids finally went to sleep on a stretch of grass, and I chose a spot with a rock at my back and some loose stony bits to lie on. At dawn, Jennifer came bouncing down and asked me how I slept. I said it was really uncomfortable with all those stones. Mother! she said, why on earth didn’t you move those few feet over there to the grass!! It had never occurred to me! Survival, in my childhood, depended on my adapting. From age five to twenty-three, I never stayed more than three months in one place and traveled to about thirty-five different countries by age fifteen. I still struggle with adapting rather than choosing to change my environment. But a light went on! Aha!
Forgive this confessional, but if it serves to alert just one of you, how meaningful an encounter with Jung’s ideas and applying them can be, I will not have written in vain. When in the Gnostic Gospel of John, in the Round Dance, Jesus chants, "Learn to suffer and not to suffer," he is pointing out that it is the ego that suffers and if you realize you have a Divine Guest, the Self, this is the part who watches and teaches through the grace of Sophia’s in-tuition. When you observe yourself suffering, for that moment you do not suffer.
gratefully and lovingly,
Back in around 1961, my son Timothy attended the same prep school that my father graduated from, The Hill School. Timothy got a scholarship. He was deeply impressed at age thirteen by a course in religion, after which he came home on summer vacation resolved to attempt sainthood. He gave up his bed and slept on the floor; he became a vegetarian; he got a job that involved biking four miles to and fro doing garden work; he was obedient to his severe father, helpful to his mother, and patient with his three pesky sisters! This went on for about ten days to everybody’s astonishment.
One night, I happened to get up to go to the bathroom and passed his door. I heard sobbing. I knocked and entered. Timothy was banging his fists on the floor and tears were streaming down his face. “It’s not FAIR! It’s not FAIR!” he cried. I asked him what wasn’t fair. He sobbed, “I have tried so hard to be good, but now I have fallen into the greatest sin of all!” “What sin is that?” I asked. He replied, “I think I’m better than other people!”
I tried to console him and said we could talk about it in the morning. He calmed down and I went back to bed agreeing with him and praying for a solution come the next morning. I should add that this was a period in which I was immersed in reading and studying Jung.
When I got up, I went to the kitchen to make coffee and noticed the paper towel roll was down to the last sheet; when I took out the empty paper tube, the sunlight flashed through it and I had an AHA! So I took the tube and stuffed the end of it with the last sheet scrap and went to Timothy and asked him to look through it and tell me what he could see. “Duh,” he said grumpily. I whisked the paper out and told him to look again. “Duh!” he repeated. But then I shared the idea that the good that we do doesn’t come out of us but through us from our Divine Guest (Jung’s Self). So we have succeeded in becoming a clear pipe for a moment. Perhaps, he took this in. He graduated from Stanford as a philosophy major and an M.D. and today is an expert and compassionate psychiatrist and gerontologist.
Today, I keep an empty paper tube handy in my office because . . .
Many years later I was finally analyzing with the Jungian Dr. Edward C. Whitmont and also lecturing all over the country and sometimes getting great applause, etc. I said to Dr. Whitmont that I really feared inflation because I was delighted. His words were so helpful, and I need to share them! He said, “Don’t deny it!” I was amazed. Then he said, “Count to ten and offer it up!”
Phew! If we deny it, that is an ego game – see how humble I am! – but if you count to ten, you acknowledge the worth of the tube and send the rest back up where it came from. So, from then on, I would turn my back to the audience and hold up my arms and clap my hands, too. It worked like a charm, an instant cleansing.
Many of us have an awful time receiving compliments. Sometimes we ask ourselves what the secret agenda might be and the compliment goes past us, or we think if that person knew me as well as I know myself . . . ha, they must be stoopid! and the compliment goes thataway, and then we go out in the garden and eat worms – nobody loves me!
These days when I get a compliment, I turn it into flowers and take them to my Teacher.
I wrestled with this problem because I had known a clinical narcissist and thus went to great lengths to avoid any claim to anything including signing my poems. Dr. Edinger, with whom I corresponded, reproached me and said that one has to take responsibility for one’s creative output and I can see that now . . .
I hope some of these thoughts may be as helpful to some of you as they were to me. As usual, my help also comes down from the process hidden in that paper towel holder. It’s amazing what inanimate – ha! – objects can teach one!
Saturday, October 4, 2008
The Blind Spot is a physical phenomenon having to do with optical vision. We all have one! Check it out.
The Wounded Healer or vulnerable hero appears (according to my Dictionary of Mythology) in twenty-seven world cultural myths, and the list includes forty heroes! This surely hints at an archetypal and psychological truth. Achilles’ mother, Thetis, held him in a fire trying to make him immortal but the heel she held him by didn’t make it. Siegfried bathed in the blood of the dragon he had killed, trying to make himself invulnerable but a leaf fell on his back, preventing it. There are many more instances. Chiron is one of the nicest. He was the centaur who ran a school for heroes. Achilles, and a whole bunch of precocious boys. What a job! Heracles, one of his students, shot him by accident in the foot. As Chiron was immortal and knew that mortal Prometheus was deserving, offered to swap his own immortality for mortality and the suffering of the wound. Zeus took pity on him and later placed Chiron in his own constellation in the heavens. Chiron became the archetypal Wounded Healer. He teaches us that the redemption of our own suffering is the ability to empathize and thus more truly serve others.
What does this tell us? Perhaps that none of us is perfect or we wouldn’t be here and that there is an ultimate good that can come from redeeming our mistakes. Any wise counselor knows that “it takes one to know one.” One cannot apply conscious intellectual knowledge alone to help others; it has to pass through one’s being first. Alcoholics Anonymous, inspired by Jung, is a perfect example. Wisdom, it seems, can only come from the humble acceptance of suffering and through the sublimation of loving and willing consciousness.
Which brings us to the third item: Mistakes! We all make them. We feel shame, regret, embarrassment; “have been there, done that”! It is part of the human condition. When I met M, my beloved Teacher, I was twenty-one. I was overwhelmed and rode up and down Fifth Avenue in New York City on top of the bus in tears and shame at the time I had wasted! When I saw him again, he said kindly, “Dearie, if you would spend that energy now in redeeming those mistakes you could put them to use from now on!”
Later on, a definition came to me: A mistake is a loop in consciousness made to expose a greater surface to experience.
In my book The Dove inthe Stone there is a whole chapter devoted to pointing out that trees don’t grow like telephone poles! The trunk aims in the vertical direction and the branches spread out laterally, and each leaf is exposed to a common source of light, the Sun (symbolically our Divine Guest). Each leaf is the result of an AHA! and many of those Aha!’s are the result of redeeming a mistake. The trick is not to keep repeating the same one.
Slowly, I got the hang of this and felt quite pleased with myself until I learned the next step. Being conscious of the mistake is only half the job; the other half is acting out the correction! This runs the gamut from a spelling mistake to a misdeed or unkindness made either out of ignorance or negative intent. Our tree of life has to keep growing, and karma sure is a great teacher.
When I began teaching kids in school, I would spend the first day explaining three things: the first was not to be afraid of making mistakes! The second was to be willing to ask a dumb question; the third was that my intention was not to get them into the next grade, but to expose them to something useful for their whole life.
M taught us by example rather than only words. I remember that during WWII we were invited to West Point by one of his closest friends, a graduate, a stockbroker, and now returned as a teaching officer. The occasion was a cocktail party. Now M was the wisest, most impressive and knowledgeable person I had ever met. He sat on my right, a lady on my left. She began to share some very simple idea that had come to her. To my astonishment, M began to ask her the dumbest questions, drawing her out and allowing her to grasp new insights with palpable delight! What a lesson for me!
After eighteen years of teaching kids, I concluded that I really never taught them anything but I did engineer a few attacks of insight! Those gratifying cries of “Oh, I get it!”
The real meaning of education is ex-ducare, Latin for leading forth, which is the process of Sophia, in-tuition. So we all need to remember this: it’s not what we say but what the other hears! It is not what I am writing but what you are reading that counts. And I guarantee that in every case, the result will be unique. In-struction, on the other hand, building in, is the framework necessary to every discipline. Music requires scales, notes, keys, etc; grammar, geography, sciences all have necessary basic tools that are essential, but usually by sixth grade enough of a beginners’ kit is at hand for exciting things to develop. Intellectual curiosity, at least a few decades ago, was untrammeled by sex, drugs, and the like. There can be a freedom at that age not likely to come until retirement, when the delight of learning just for learning’s sake can re-emerge; so many responsibilities intervene . . . but many of you are as nuts as I have been all of my life!
Taken symbolically, the parable of the Prodigal Son is another story of the ego’s adventure into the extraverted world of painful experience, making that loop in consciousness, ending in being drawn back home to our Self (Divine Guest) by the loving in-tuition of Sophia, Holy Wisdom.
PS: Came across a lovely quote:
Give attention to your pain as you would to a child, giving it loving and soothing attention.
– Jack Kornfield
The summer I was seven and a half, 1930, my grandma King rented a house in Dublin, NH. I knew nothing about death. Innocently, I was conducting an experiment of plowing with a kitten, a string, and a pencil. The kitten ran off under the house and got stuck, but was rescued. Grandma scolded me saying I could have killed it! It could have strangled! I was puzzled, but a few days later I found a wee dead bird and carried it to Grandma King, who explained that all living things die.
I spent three nights terrified. Then I reasoned that if all die, it must be natural, so ok. So I went into the corner room that had her desk in it, closed the door, and called on God to make a bargain. If I lived a good life and helped people, would he kindly give me a Happy Death!
Fifty-three years later, my cousins invited me and my husband to visit them in the house they had rented in Dublin and gave us the directions. To my astonishment, it was the same house!! So, I was able to go back into the same room and, needless to say, reminded the dear Lord of our bargain.
This is to share with you when the time comes for me that I hope to be celebrating and so should we all.
In The Beejum Book, old Mr. Rathbone is on the train with Teak and the critters headed for Beejumstan. Teak, the little girl (moi) asks why. The rabbit Lonesome explains he is on his way to celebrate his Aberduffy Day. Well, Mr. Rathbone was real. I met him when I was six in Rome at the Hotel Flora. He was the uncle of the actor Basil Rathbone and a friend of Grandma King. They were both in their seventies, and Mr. Rathbone treated me as an equal and we had long and interesting conversations! From a Jungian perspective, he addressed my Self and taught me a valuable lesson about teaching kids later on. I remember he said what I really needed was an En-cy-clo-pee-dia. Needless to say, my mother explained it would not fit in my suitcase.
I want to add a comforting observation of a Tibetan lama I met. He said that the English language makes a grievous error in making antonyms of life/death. They should be birth/death, which are both a part of a greater Life. He then drew a circle with a horizontal diameter, put birth on the left and death on the right. In the upper hemisphere “unmanifest Life” and in the lower “manifest Life.” To me this is an important insight and worth sharing.
Just as the ego cannot define “God” through the duality of consciousness, it cannot describe life after death, but at the center (Self/Divine Guest) of the circle we can get glimpses because there we may remember . . . Paracelsus said “Let nature be your guide!” Nature recycles. Nothing gets wasted. Scorpio rules death and resurrection and recycling.
When my oldest grandson was four, I babysat him while his mother was giving birth to a baby sister. I drove him to school and we passed a cemetery. He commented solemnly, “Gaga, that is the place they put you when you die.” Then he added, “But not the important part.” Intrigued, I asked him where his important part had been before he was born. He thought a moment and then hit his head and exclaimed, “Oh, I forgot!”
Not the same as “I don’t know.”
The idea of life after death is hinted at by prehistoric man, who buried the dead in the fetal position, covered with red ochre in some cases, in the womb of the earth. But it reached full written expression during the Age of Taurus/Scorpio in Egypt and Sumeria circa 4000–1800 BC. I will conclude with an Egyptian poem of the period:
DEATH IS BEFORE ME TODAY
Death is before me today
Like the recovery of a sick man,
Like going into a garden after a sickness.
Death is before me today
Like the odor of myrrh,
Like sitting under the sail on a windy day.
Death is before me today
Like the course of the freshet
Like the return of a man from the war-galley
to his home.
Death is before me today
As a man longs to see his home
When he has spent years in captivity.
Now to go and knock myself live!
Needless to say, I visited a great number of zoos and museums. I saw a gazillion medieval masterpieces that depicted a three-tiered version of heaven, earth and hell beneath the earth!
When I was 12, we were in Belgium and I went to an exhibit of pictures of the horrors of WWI – I could not believe what I saw! In Boston in 1937/38, I saw newsreels depicting Japanese shooting and killing Chinese in Manchuria, and in a wretched boarding school in Rhode Island I learned of the early torturing of Jews in Germany. They were made to dance in their own feces on a table while Nazis laughed! I went out in the school courtyard and leaned against a favorite tree and wept and decided right then that hell was NOT underground but right here on earth!! And what an insult! to nature the concept was. Throughout my childhood, nature was the only constant in my life that I could trust, a few earthquakes excepted. And as for the stars, I decided that the one comfort that existed was that the universe continued to run on time.
It still does. Remember that.
So I moved hell up a storey and placed it on earth. Today, looking at the hellish black smoke, fire, rubble and ugliness in Baghdad, I’m sure many would agree with that assessment!
Ah, but there’s a BUT! Many decades later, the Gnostic Gospel according to Thomas was discovered and it were the wonderful words “Heaven is spread upon the earth, but men do not see it.” And then years later, I discovered in a footnote in Aurora Consurgens (possibly the work of Thomas Aquinas) a footnote, put there by M-L von Franz: Petrus Bonus, the alchemist, wrote, “The secret of the Philosopher’s Stone is to look with the eyes and see with the heart” (my paraphrasing). In other words, to look with a loving eye.
Then I remembered another alchemist writing that the Philosopher’s Stone is lying on the road and wagon wheels roll over it!
Then I had my most recent dream of Jung. He shouted at me: “Consider the obvious! I did!” When I looked up the derivation of obvious, it comes from ob via, on the road!
This sequence of fortuitous flukes clued me in to the fact that the truth is lying all around us – nothing is hidden, it is we who are blind!
So heaven on earth has come to me in utter conviction through the process of Hagia Sophia, who in the Old Testament as Holy Wisdom is co-creator with God (giving form to life) and is said to be full of delight (!) and wanting to be helpful to mankind. Jung tells us that she was part of the original Trinity and feminine but got translated into Latin as spiritus sanctus, which takes a masculine pronoun! Another Greek synonym is "paraclete," which means Comforter.
As you cannot kill an archetype, she hid in fairytales as the Fairy God-mother, whose process is to help bring forth the Divine Guest in each of us through the coniunctio of ego/Self.
The secret is simple and obvious – look at any object and ask it what it does. Turn nouns into verbs. Feminine wisdom considers the obvious. To live a sacramental life is to rethink the definition of a sacrament: “A sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible [grace] MEANING!”
To do this is to find glimpses of heaven on earth, to discover Spirit hidden in the obvious all around us on earth and above all in each other.
Find tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.
– Shakespeare, As You Like It”
Silly Old Woman
It is one I seem to have spent a greater portion of my life committing, albeit unconsciously, which is part of the problem.
It is taking the physical universe for granted.
For me, as I approach my 85th birthday in November and ipso facto my “Aberduffy Day”* (or demise), it is late but for the rest of u, I hasten to bring it to your attention.
Margaret Fuller, a Transcendentalist and friend of Emerson & Co, said “I accept the universe.” I always was impressed by that. It seems so sensible. But now I would rather be remembered for saying, “I appreciate the universe.”
I am in awe, constantly blown away by the wonder of the intricate workings of this body that I ineluctably will have to leave behind. I think of the tragedy and waste of miracles: the 9 months every soldier, every man/woman in today’s world was carried in some mother’s womb, nurtured, educated for years only in a split second to be wiped out, wounded, crippled in mind or limb . . . how time-efficient is that!
But let’s start further out. When I was teaching kids in ninth grade, they were looking into drugs called “speed.” I asked them if the following was not sufficient. So, as you read this, take a moment to feel how fixed in time/space you are at the moment. What an illusion!
1. The earth is rotating at 1000 mph.
2. The earth is orbiting the sun at 60,000 mph (spinning as she goes).
3. The sun in the galaxy of the Milky Way is moving at 481,000 mph.
4. The Milky Way, in turn, is whizzing at 1,350,000 mph.
So, if anyone you know is depressed, just think what an accomplishment and miracle it is that each of us can go to sleep and wake up in the same body with the same name and identity!!! It is staggering and yet we take it for granted.
My mother once told me a Beejum story in which I went to sleep and woke up the next morning and looked in the mirror and saw the head of a rhinoceros! I was about 5 at the time. It must have made a lasting impression!
As I understand it, there is a ratio proposed that the average number of atoms in a body might equal the number of stars in the universe, and each atom is a miniature point of energy whizzing around in a dance of its own. So Heraclitus was spot on when he said panta rhea, everything flows.
So what invisible processes conspire to materialize all this in manifest order and beauty? Surely they are the basic archetypes of life/form, yang/yin (male/female), expansion/contraction, light/dark which primitive humans intuited were divine and when talked about were given the names of gods/goddesses. In history, the names change from age to age and culture to culture, but the processes never do! The names are personifications. These opposites are interconnected by the hermaphroditic process of communication, personified as Hermes (Mercury).
What I have discovered for myself is that the end result is objects! Manifest not only in nature but in cups, pencils, buttons, pots, windows – you name it. The manifest world is a mute testament to Light, Life, Love.
These are attributes we give to the Mystery we call Spirit (Creator).
To quote the alchemist Petrus Bonus, “To find the Philosopher’s Stone, look with the eyes and see with the heart.”
Look with a loving eye! Jung’s ‘The longest journey we need to travel is from the mind to the heart’ or the coniunctio of ego/Self, made by the grace of Sophia.
Last week, I looked down at a candle and saw the center wick. That is Jung’s Self, the center of the mandala of the psyche.
The flame that lights it is the Divine Guest. There are many, many individual wicks but the flame that lights them is the same flame. It is related to the Sun, the center of our solar system. This sun is a manifestation of what we might call the Sun behind the sun.
To quote Sheik Muzzafer, whom we met in Istanbul: “Allah says: How can I not reward you when you have sought me for so long by revealing Myself in the beauty of this world!”
Phew! Time for my Scottish Communion . . .
* Aberduffy Day, which is in The Beejum Book, came to me in a dream many years ago before I met my Polar Bear. I dearly loved an older man; in the dream our fingers were touching through a wire-linked fence. I was weeping at the cruel separation. He said: “Don’t cry, my dear, we will meet again on Aberduffy Day!” I woke up on a wet pillow but convinced such a day existed. So I checked all the Celtic festivals, etc. No luck. Then I realized from the little Gaelic I know, that aber is connected to ‘river’ and ‘duffy’ comes from dubh, black. Black River = Styx = death!! So, who the heck wants to die when they can celebrate Aberduffy Day! Remember that when I am gone.
In The Beejum Book, Mr Rathbone is on the train to Beejumstan . . . Mr R was the uncle of the actor Basil Rathbone. I met him in Rome when I was 7. He was a friend of my Grandma King. Both were in their 70’s. My R treated me like a grown-up and we had many serious discussions. I loved him dearly. He told me what I needed was an en-cy-clo-pee-diah. My parents explained that this would not fit in my suitcase, which was all I had for many years to come.
Where Theravada and Mahayana had practiced the cause leading to a goal called buddhahood, the six sub-vehicles of Vajrayana practiced the goal itself as an ever increasingly subtle path, starting with ritual acts calculated to break the grasp of ordinary, everyday projection (which is generally of a privative nature – “Oh, it’s only a dog,” rather than recognizing the miracle of the fact that a dog and one’s awareness of dog could actually be) and culminating in the view that, from the very first, everything has always been beyond all conceptual grasping. Awareness itself – the only thing of which we can be more or less sure in this universe – is said to be essentially empty, clear and vivid by nature and all-encompassing in its compassionate energy. This is said to be like the sun shining from cloudless space or like the surface of a mirror that reflects whatever appears before it.
Ordinary, everyday consciousness with its dualisms of subject and object – situation and owner of the situation – and their concomitant likes, dislikes and lack of interest is regarded as like clouds arising in basic space or dust on the surface of a mirror. It is fleeting and non-essential . . . in Zen terms, the ‘guest’ rather than the ‘host’.
Once the dust is cleared away, the mirror reflects. When the clouds disperse or night lifts, the sun is always there, bright and shining. It has never been anywhere else.
Furthermore, clouds are part of the very nature of the sky, just as waves are of water. Therefore whatever arises within or from awareness will have its being in and as awareness and then dissolve back into it, really like clouds in the sky. There is nothing to seek for in that awareness – pure awareness (an attempt to translate what is meant by the Tibetan term rigpa which in tern translates the Sanskrit, vidya, cognate with the Old English verb ‘to wit’ and the more modern ‘witty’) is our very nature. Everything we know arises from and as it and dissolves almost instantly back into it. Alice knows the story of the little fish who asks the Dragon of the Ocean what water was . . . This is that.
Thanks for the Buddhist letter – am folding it and keeping it in Dilgo’s book. Shakespeare says something like it in The Tempest:
You do look, my son, in a moved sort,
As if you were dismayed: be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
– Prospero, The Tempest, 4.1
The first dream I had of Jung, we were in a wood. He had a cane and poked a hole in the earth and said: Ein Loch ist auch eine Mandala. A hole is also a mandala. So, if we look at the circle with dot in middle, and since a point has no dimension(!) that justifies the no-self Buddhist definition and proves that ultimately Eastern and Western mystics agree. They seem to be paradoxical or complementary definitions.
A funny thing happened to me in Los Angeles in 1982 when I was promoting something along these lines in a seminar and writing on a large blackboard. Suddenly the huge blackboard fell off the easel and landed WHAM! on my foot!! It hurt so much they had to seat me in a chair w/a bucket of ice-water. I was using ‘Woodstock’, my cromag or staff as a pointer and wearing a cotton mumu [long dress], so everybody agreed I looked like a Tarot card! But the message was clear – as long as we are in the body, which Buddhist teaching declares is a wondrous privilege, we have to live with compassion and accept “chopping wood and carrying water.”
The value of a window is provided by the wall that holds it. AHA!
Incidentally, I had to go to hospital emergency room. It broke my right toe!
For me, as I have said previously, Buddhism is not a religion per se but a meta-religion, if you will. It describes the how of the Only Way. It stresses compassion towards all sentient beings, never tries to convert or force others. I have met many lamas personally, including the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala – he who says: My only religion is kindness!
One thing they all have in common – they are merry! Without exception.
It’s getting late and I am tiring. Perhaps I will share the story of our meeting his holiness in Dharamsala in a future post.
No. It will be the gradual discovery of the “Christ Consciousness,” the atman, the centerpoint of Jung’s “Self” within each of us and certainly not just Christians! If you think about it in terms of the Astrological Ages and the Evolution of Consciousness [the topic of my recent book THE HEAVENS DECLARE ], there seem to be messengers that make the bridge between one state of collective awareness and another. In the East, there was Krishna for Hinduism, followed by Buddha, who was the Bridge to Buddhism, and Padmasambhva, who was the bridge to Tibetan Buddhism. In the West Moses was the bridge between the Canaanites and their worship of the Bull (Age of Taurus). The eponym of I AM THAT I AM is the cry of every Aries, even today, and that Age marked the birth of the collective ego. Jesus was the bridge from the monotheistic and fiercely exclusive religion at that time to sharing that one God with other people, and, dare I point it out, Mohammed was the bridge of the People of the Book (the Torah, the New Testament and the Koran), and if you know your history, you can be of any race on Earth and be a Muslim. If you read the Koran, honor is given to Abraham and Jesus and Mary, only Mohammed saw Jesus as a prophet and not an exclusive son of God. The message of Jesus the Christ was that once you have an ego, it must be surrendered to the Father (i.e., the Spirit). “I am the light that lighteth every man,” says John of the Logos. The hypostatic union becomes a psychological reality and the goal of Jung’s ‘individuation’.
St. Columba was the bridge in Ireland between Druidism and Celtic Christianity in the sixth century. Guru Nanak was the bridge to recognizing the wisdom inherent in all religions. I have been to the Golden Temple in Amritsar and witnessed the 24/7 reading aloud of the famous inclusive Book. Ramakrishna, an Aquarian himself, studied all the religions one by one until he had a vision and so he taught his disciples tolerance. When asked to speak of God, he would answer ‘With or without form?” as easily as “How do you take your tea, cream or lemon”! His disciple Vivekananda spoke movingly at what I think was the first Conference on World Religions and formed a bridge to Vedanta in America, which influenced Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, et al. Then there is Bahai.
The point I am trying to make is that the “Second Coming” is the gift of the opening Age to come. The gift of the Christian myth (myth as defined by Jung is not an untrue story but a story true of the psyche!) is that once we have an ego (center of consciousness) it has to surrender with devotion to the Divine Guest within. Jung points out that this is problematic because the Self dwells in the unconscious! It can only be reached through the heart, can only be done through the heart of love and the realization that the flame on every candle is the same flame! I was an aesthetic snob for years and looked down at what I thought were those saccharine pictures and glass candles depicting a sentimental Jesus with a large radiating heart! Until I saw what it really symbolizes. Now I am ashamed. Jung said that these religious symbols affect the unconscious directly, and now we know that they are perceived by the right brain. A neurologist told me that when you drive down the highway and see a sign that says TURN RIGHT FOR AIRPORT, we read with left brain and the next arrow pointing right, with the left.
It breaks my heart when communion for or anointing the sick can only be done if you are a member of the Roman Catholic Church, as if it were an exclusive club and that in many places today fundamentalists of ALL the religions (except Buddhism) insist that theirs is the ‘only way’. I confess if there is one thing I am intolerant of, it is intolerance!
I read a book by an English admiral who spent five years in a Buddhist monastery and on saying adieu to the abbot was asked what his religion had been. He replied he had been an Anglican. The abbot smiled and replied, “Well, now you can become a better and wiser Anglican!”
I have not mentioned the ethnic so-called pagan religions in the world – they are much closer to nature and filled with instinctive wisdom we have largely lost and need desperately to include.
Fortunately, throughout history there has been the hidden catena aurae, the Golden Chain, of the Gnostics, the mystics, the alchemists, who have kept the esoteric wisdom alive through generations. The motto was “Know and be silent.”
At the turn of the twentieth century, a breakthrough occurs! The last woman spiritual teacher in the West, outside of the church, was Hypatia of Alexandria, who was brutally murdered by the Christian Cyril in 443 A.D. But now some remarkable women emerged: Helena Blavatsky, Anna Bonus Kingsford, and Mary Baker Eddy: the first two founders of the Theosophists and Eddy of Christian Science.
Blavatsky impacted Krishnamurti, who impacted the theoretical physicist David Bohm.
The concept of the Divine Guest is one that goes back to the founders of Hinduism! But Hindu philosophy only reached the West in the late eighteenth century with the first translation of the Upanishads in Germany. After the American Revolution, Bostonians refused to send their sons to Oxford/Cambridge and sent them to Germany. They were exposed to the ages-old wisdom of Hinduism, returned to Boston and influenced Emerson, Thoreau and Alcott, who founded Transcendentalism in Concord.*
Thoreau gave ahimsa (non-violence) a pragmatic twist and went to jail rather than pay his taxes for something he disapproved of! Then he wrote a pamphlet, On Civil Disobedience, which was read by an Indian lawyer living in South Africa. His name was Mohandas Gandhi, and he freed India from British rule without a shot being fired. This in turn inspired Martin Luther King and possibly inspired Nelson Mandela. Both Gandhi and King were martyred, but Mandela was honored this very day by the unveiling of a nine-foot statue of him in London in Parliament Square!
* For more on this read The Flowering of New England by Van Wyck Brooks, who with the poet John Hall Wheelock were classmates at Harvard with my uncle, the composer George Luther Foote. I met the former two frequently when in my late teens and JHW gave me my first job in NYC working at Scribner’s Bookstore on 5th Avenue.
All the world’s a stage
and men and women merely players . . .
Shakespeare, As You Like It
My definition of a person who is cut off from his Self (Divine Guest) is that that individual defines life as “just one damn thing after another!”
There is an analogy to the theater possible. It goes as follows:
1. A guy is an actor and goes to the theater to play Hamlet.
Where does he go first? Dressing room to put on Hamlet costume.
He goes on stage and does the best job as Hamlet that he can.
Goes back to dressing room and takes off Hamlet costume, goes home, and “has a beer”!
2. But what if he went on stage and got stuck there a lifetime believing he was Hamlet! He would be consciously identified with the part he was playing – no beer!
3. Each of us may be playing a part given our own name and identity and we play it for a lifetime, but we are offered a break – one automatically and another thru our intention.
The first is when we sleep. Whether you are a king or a beggar, a wife or a poet, a child or a guru, you are free from the outer world.
4. The other is the conscious intention to meditate, to contemplate, to observe yourself. When we do this, as most of you know already, the ego becomes object to the Self as subject. You have a moment of living your life with captions! “Watch! Alice is suffering.” “She is anxious,” etc. After a while, it occurs to oneself to ask, Who’s watching? Viewed this way, the Gnostic Gospel of John’s ‘Round Dance’ makes sense: Learn how to suffer and not to suffer!
Jung’s description of individuation expressed theologically, he said, was Incarnation. Incarnation, being in the flesh or body requires an ego to play the part of ________ (supply your own name) but that is only your identity in this life! So who you really are is the one who is watching and fine-tuning the part for the Self, ambassador to the Divine Guest.
Next time you look at a regular candle, look at it symbolically. Viewed from above, it is a circle with a wick. The wick = Self. The flame = Divine Guest.
Fire is the one element of the four that is multiplied by sharing. Many candles: One flame, One Light, One Love. So, to quote an old saying: “Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”
When ‘having that beer’ I am increasingly aware that there is a difference between happiness and joy. The ego can be happy/sad when we identify with it, but sharing that consciousness with the Self allows us to give the kick out of living a life to the Divine Guest and to the collective thus making the whole PLAY meaningful. This rewards even us, the actors, with Joy.
As to what the whole PLAY is about, “God only knows!”
A mistake is a loop in consciousness made to expose a greater surface to experience.This later evolved into the parable of the tree in The Dove in the Stone, with the sap running up the tangential branches to the trunk and the leaves on the branches going aha! as they take in the wisdom of the sun . . .
In my own life, I had another realization – I thought then that becoming conscious was sufficient and sat back pleased with myself. But – oh no! One has to apply the realization in real life for it to count!
This led me to think of Christ’s “seamless garment,” or pure aura, and the myths of Achilles and Siegfried, whose mothers dipped them in some magic stuff to render them invulnerable – but no! Achilles was held by the heel and Siegfried had a leaf fall on him. And we all have a blind spot.
My vision was that karma from one life to another represents holes in our would-be seamless garment, which we have to fill in by conscious redemption. I felt fairly polka-dotted with chinks!
A Tibetan lama pointed out that Christianity puts a spin on karma by the concept of repentance. Jesus said plainly that “As you sow, so shall you reap.” But the idea put forward by dogma is that he died to take away our sins, so all we need is to confess and do penance and in many cases the Church gains power to absolve and the sinner goes off and repeats whatever.
In one of his most passionate letters (I think to Dorothee Hoch) Jung says that By Golly, we need to pick up our own cross and see the crucifixion as a model of what we need to do ourselves instead of conveniently projecting it all symbolically on him!
So karma, rightly viewed, is not judgmental in a moral sense, it is a dispassionate fact of cause and effect. So a cynic, as I once was, thinks, “Virtue is really enlightened self-interest!” In a sense that is true: touch a hot stove and you get burnt, etc.
Later in life, I realized what I was missing in the equation: cause/effect is a duality which the ego is subject to. The missing and healing element comes from our Divine Guest (Self, Christ Within, atman). It is Love.
Compassion. In forgiving others, we forgive ourselves. Several parables in the New Testament bear this out. And “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive the trespasses of others”.
This led in turn to my Milkstool Principle! (Three-legged stools are firm.) Love, Wisdom, Power. We need all three!
Love needs wisdom and power to love rightly. Wisdom needs power and love to be compassionate in relation to others. And power should only be used with love and wisdom to serve or lead others.
If you think about it, most of us are deficient in one of the three and we need to turn to our Divine Guest for guidance. Many women have to learn about power and not see it as animus or manipulation. We need to honor the ubiquitous goddesses that represent Wisdom. The masculine gods represent Power. But the supreme Unknown Spirit is offering us the Solar Spirit of Love.
PS: In the body, the Sun rules the heart which gives us Life. In alchemy, the Sun is depicted as looking towards the invisible Sun-behind-the sun, which is invisible Spirit. It gives the "pook" in every atom, in every seed, in every mouse, and in all beauty, hopefully in the “quick and lively word.”
“Love thy neighbor as thy Self!” Any Jung student would get the joke. I also tried to put down a few thoughts that have been helpful to me:
Maybe Spirit is the Self of the Universe.
In which case, there is One Light, One Life, One Self, that is the underlying Unity in the uni-verse.
The same Self manifests as the Divine Guest (Self) in each of us as individuals yet each of us is different and unique. That is Diversity.
The same Light passing through a prism breaks into the rainbow of colors. Each of us has a slightly different prism. Every chart has the same ingredients. No two are alike!
So another way of presenting the dichotomy of the coming 2000 yrs of Aquarius is not just individual/collective but also diversity/unity.
"God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”
Nicholas of Floris
The aim of every religion exoterically is to form a collective social group aimed at a worship of God.
The aim of every religion esoterically is the realization that Spirit is within us and without - in all.
The trap is the identification of the collective ego of each exoteric branch of religion that maintains that it is the Only Way, resulting in the past and present holy wars. The collective Shadow is projected on the enemy. “We have met the enemy and the enemy is us!” as Pogo put it.
The task is to recognize the unity in the collective Self of Spirit resulting in tolerance and respect among all religions.
No mention of evil was made in yesterday’s post. The process of evil is dia-bolos (separating); it is the opposite of sym-bolos (uniting). The ego according to Jung is the center of consciousness and functions through duality. So each of us has a choice. Evil comes from identification with the ego alone (pride) and denial/ignorance of the Divine Guest (Self). Jung tried to point out that the lack of humility in knowing that we are all both ‘good/bad’ and in choosing to deny our own Shadow, we project it unconsciously onto others.
The ego is essential. It is who we think we are, and has our name for a lifetime. But it is not who we really are, which is Spirit wanting to be us and to experience manifestation through us. (God can’t eat a poached egg!) So ego death is out; ego surrender w/devotion to Divine Guest is the Way. It is the function of Sophia’s ‘I unite’, the radiant radius between Center point of Self (Divine Guest) and ego on circumference.
Please, forgive the terse, didactic style of this. It is an attempt to compress multum in parva – much in little – but if you ponder on each statement maybe your own insights can provide a commentary. As I was setting this down, many allusions arose, which I may express later. Just remember Sophia giggles as well and the result is delight, the joy of wisdom and the wisdom of joy.
O Holy Sophia, Holy Wisdom, Holy Joy
hidden for so long
come forth and reveal yourself in the world
and in our souls!
Help us to see with a loving eye
Help us to hear with inwit and intuition
Show us how to be natural and kind
Show us how to find ourselves in one another
Lead us from who we think we are
to who we really are
Let us learn from the flowers
that we need not strive so hard
Teach us to allow that Light from within
To unfold as a gift like your Rose.