Monday, February 23, 2009
A Test for Inflations – CREDO XLIX
If you read the previous Credo, “Ecce Ego,” you may remember the bit about waving to passing cars. Well, the very next day, I hobbled all the way up to “Trivia,” so-called because three dirt roads meet. The Latin word came to mean “idle matters” because in ancient Rome people would stop and get out of carriages or off their horses to gossip and exchange news. This spot became a turning point for my darling husband and me and, as old as we were, he would play the same game under the big tree there. He would start looking in all directions. I would ask why? He would say, “I’m looking for a maiden.” I would offer innocently to help, whereupon he would exclaim joyously, “I found one!” and then he would hug and kiss me.
My Polar Bear is gone these ten years and the tree is now a stump surrounded by ferns, but I was determined to get up there again. Suddenly a car came by and stopped, and a middle-aged woman got out of the car and effusively thanked me for the months of waving! She said it cheered her up, that it was so special, and could she take my picture? Naturally, I was struck by the synchronicity and the place. In fact, I was delighted!
On my way home, though, I was struck by that word special and its implications. I remembered the words of Christopher Whitmont, my analyst, wise mentor, and later beloved friend. “When you receive a compliment, don’t deny it! Count to ten and offer it up [to your Divine Guest]!” This keeps one from the ego trap of false humility and sends the credit rightfully back up to its source. Oops, watch out!
That night I pondered about the difference between special and blessed. In the familiar “Hail Mary” prayer, Mary is said to be blessed among women and blessed is the fruit of her womb, Jesus. The prayer could certainly have used the word special or unique but it doesn’t. Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig, a Swiss Jungian analyst, wrote a very important book on the Shadow called Power in the Professions. It speaks of the dangers of inflation and the pride of feeling powerful and superior. As many of us are in the helping professions or know someone who is, it is a timely reminder of a potentially unconscious attitude. So often we can refer to patients or clients as “cases,” which suggests an “I-it” approach rather than the “I-Thou” one Jung insisted upon. Jung actually called analysis a maieutic process (note the four vowels!), which means midwifing or helping the patient to give his/her own insight birth.
Then, of course, there is the opposite called negative inflation and the spiritual no-no of scrupulosity in which we consider ourselves the absolute worst person in the world, which is an insult if ever there was one to our Divine Guest!
I think I may have told the story of a client I had who had this problem. We were in the basement of an analyst’s home. I quoted Christ’s words “No man hides a light under a bushel basket.” Her eyes widened in amazement for, unbeknownst to me, there was a stack of bushel baskets in the corner behind me!
This reminds me of another synchronicity in another basement of another analyst’s house. I may also have recounted this before. I was quoting the Hindu guru Dadaji, who said, “God is making love in your heartbeat twenty-four hours a day.” At that moment the furnace went on and the woman, who suffered the same negative inflation, reported that for the rest of the tape she was recording, it went “thump, thump, thump”!
We all need to remember those comforting words! So you can see how blessed I have been by the wise counsel of so many. I hope I can avoid inflation when people call my white hair a sign of wisdom. I can honestly say and will repeat that the more I know, the more I know I don’t know!
ao, about to sign up for cackling lessons!
Posted by IonaDove