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Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Shield of Ego – Credo XXVIII

When I was 21, my Teacher M warned me about being too eager to learn esoteric matters. I was astounded and confused – a whole new level of understanding had filled me with enthusiasm. Kindly, he explained that we become morally responsible for what we learn. That some knowledge has to be used with care and never ever to manipulate another person! This affects anybody who counsels or is a therapist or even a priest. The trap is using power unwisely and when used for self advantage, it is a form of “grey magic.” This can occur when counter-transference is strong in a professional setting because it breaks the vessel. This is the explanation for those weird alchemical drawings of couples making out in bottles. Collectively, it happens in sports when the spectators start fighting after the game.

Over the years, I have noticed a common phenomenon. Are there not times when we are reading something very spiritually significant and the paragraph turns to cement! Or one goes to a lecture and one sneezes or is distracted one way or another, and the thought goes thataway and one misses the point. It almost seems that the ego, center of consciousness, is protecting us. The cup is too small and the content spills over. We need for our cup to grow bigger. For example, it is said that one is not to study the Kabbalah until one is forty.

The very first day I had a conversation with my teacher, he mentioned a mysterious book called The Hieroglyphic Monad by John Dee. After an onerous search, I found a copy. Its contents were totally baffling. I have made a practice over sixty-four years, of picking it up every few years, and gradually the propositions, which are numbered, have yielded greater and greater sense. Now, at 85, I see how unconsciously I had to live their proof! Dagnabit! The joke’s on me!

My ego was my protector. The danger is that the shield can be artificially dissolved. Neptune rules the process of dissolving borders and the negative aspect of Neptune rules drugs, alcohol, and fumes. The result is the dissolving of the shield of the ego, and the unconscious swamps it with its uncontrollable contents! Illusions, delusions, and some of these have terrible consequences as the daily news testifies.

The positive aspects are, when guided by the spiritual aim of yearning for the Divine Guest (Jung’s Self) lovingly in meditation or prayer or even dreams, gifts that are bestowed, and for a moment we enter the “peace that passeth understanding”. Here is an example from Yeats’s poem”Vacillation”:


My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.
While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.

It is said that we only discover a new planet when we are ready for it collectively. Neptune was discovered in 1846. This coincided with the dissolving of firm borders in art in “Impressionism” and in music with the dissolving of strict tempos in the outpouring of the likes of Debussy – in science, Marie Curie; in medicine, ether, and so forth. Most significantly, the works of Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott introduced us to the philosophy of Transcendentalism which came as the result of the impact of the first translations of the Hindu scriptures in Germany. Because of the American Revolution, the scions of Boston refused to go to Oxford and Cambridge and went to German universities instead. They brought back a whole new philosophy from the East with its emphasis on mysticism and ahimsa, nonviolence, which Thoreau gave a pragmatic application of in his pamphlet “On Civil Disobedience.” He went to jail for refusing to pay taxes for something he disapproved of! Gandhi read it in South Africa and the rest is history. I am writing this on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.

I think the point I am trying to make is that the ego can protect us from too much, too soon, but we should not give up the quest . One has to live and apply spiritual teachings, not just accept them intellectually. We have to be responsible. When we think about how technology has outstripped the wisdom of its application, we sure have a case in point!


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