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Friday, February 13, 2009

Existing/Living/Loving – CREDO XLIII

Sweet are the uses of adversity, which like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head; and this our life, exempt from public haunts, finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.
As You Like It, William Shakespeare

I am always learning new insights from nature. For instance, all seeds seem to germinate underground in the dark womb of the earth. Then comes the lovely moment, called by the invisible light of the Sun, when they break through to air, water, and fire. With the help of dew, rain, and the warmth of sunlight, they come into existence. The next stage, if it is an apple tree, is to start to grow, to blossom, to be pollinated, and settle in to the long summer of little green apples. Finally, it yields its fruit for the benefit of others. Out of one single apple pip, potentially an unlimited number of future apple trees have come down to us in thousands of years. This is a demonstration of the process of creativity, ruled by the Sun in astrology.

A human life, esoterically, unfolds potentially in three such stages that coincide with the 28 +/- transit of Saturn around the chart and the 28 +/- orbiting of the progressed Moon. This appears to program us as follows:

I. First cycle: a karmic picking up of our past strengths and gifts and confronting old lessons not learned. Sigh! We exist during our childhood without much choice of circumstances or relatives, neighbors, etc.; then a change occurs at puberty and the ego is ready to go. At 28, we are now ready to move on to living at a new level.

II. Second cycle: the acquiring of new experience and independence. However, if one flunks the karmic lesson of eating boiled eggs, they get served up as scrambled or fried, etc.! (I am being facetious here.) Psychologically, this means dealing with one’s complexes, neuroses, all the while acquiring new challenges, joys, and griefs. This is called living in the world. In the middle of this cycle, comes the midlife crisis and an important opportunity to question seriously the meaning of it all, if that has not occurred long before. It is interesting to note that the feminine life acts out most of these stations physically, with the onset of menstruation (lunar), potential pregnancy, and the cessation of menstruation. Maiden, mother, and crone to come! Men have a harder time knowing the stages of their anima! We are now 56-58 years old.

III. Third cycle of Saturn’s return: the culmination of adding the gifts of I and II. The apples ripen and need to fall for others to relish. At the end of this cycle we are usually a white-haired senex or a crone or out of here!

Now that I am in my 86th year (85½!), I think I am in the apple-dropping phase and they seem to be CREDO apples or a few conclusions about life and its paradoxes. I realize that we all come into existence with a baby’s fresh wee body and leave that body behind when it ceases to exist. In between, with the arising of consciousness, we start to live and for many in the sunset years, we revert to mere existing. So what does real living consist of? For me, personally, it means when we question the meaning of our existence in the first place. This is a very basic and private matter. It may happen at the age of four or forty or never at all. All water does not become wine, yet there is no wine without water. Wine then can be further “alchemically” distilled into higher contents of “spirit” until it becomes aquavit or uisge bheath (whisky), both meaning the same thing: Water of Life. Another triplicity ...

There are highly symbolic connections to this etymological sequence, one of them being Christ’s first miracle at Cana where he changed the water at the wedding into wine. Also, it explains William James’s comment that alcohol is the poor man’s way to mysticism. The word spirit comes from the Latin spirare, which means to breathe, and incarnation begins and ends with breath, as do higher levels of consciousness reached through breathing techniques of yoga or holotropic breathing. Too much or too little of breath results in our passing out, and we have two choices in the matter – to breathe consciously or unconsciously by the body’s remote control.

These factors suggest to me that truly living involves our first connections to the Self or Divine Guest dwelling, as Jung reminds us, in the unconscious. Jung writes eloquently in Memories, Dreams and Reflections of this happening to him at the age of twelve, when he first discovered the two levels of his own psyche: ego and Self. (If you are reading this Credo at all, I guarantee you are living and not just existing!)

There are further dichotomies and they involve the five senses. Jesus pointed this out when he asked, Having eyes, see ye not? Having ears, hear ye not? Do ye not remember?

There is a difference between looking and seeing, and seeing and perceiving,
  Between listening and hearing, and hearing and understanding,
  Between touching and feeling, and feeling and appreciating,
  Between eating and tasting, and tasting and savoring,
  Between sounding and speaking, and speaking and communicating!

And we could add:
  Between existing and living, and living and loving!

The third stage suggests the addition of Spirit. Perhaps this is the level where we give the gift of our living to our Divine Guest and enable that mysterious Presence to become mortal! This is surely the ultimate coniunctio; exchanging gratitude and grace. Here the poet E. E. Cummings expresses it beautifully:

i thank you God for most this amazing
  day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
  and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
  which is natural which is infinite which is yes

  (i who have died am alive again today,
  and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
  day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
  great happening illimitably earth)

  how should tasting touching hearing seeing
  breathing any – human merely being
  doubt unimaginable You?

  (now the ears of my ears awake and
  now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


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