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Friday, March 27, 2009

Science and Religion – CREDO LXVIII

First, study the obvious, the physical nature of things. The second step is to study the interiority of things, to go inward. The third step is to study the relationship between the two. By drawing on the first three steps, you can come close to knowing the deepest secrets of the universe.
       – His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

When I was ten years old in a Swiss boarding school, a friend and I managed to lie out in a field before bedtime. It was a clear night and we looked up at the stars and asked each other what we wanted to do when we grew up. I told her solemnly it was to reunite science and religion, and I was looking up at the stars! It was a prophetic moment; my mother told me I started on a book titled The World as it is and the World as it ought to be! The first sentence apparently was, “A fish has no neck nor any voice at all....” I guess I got sidetracked.

Later, in 1944, when I was twenty-one and first met my Teacher M in New York, I went back to the hotel on Washington Square. I woke up at midnight with a strange urgency to write. I found myself drawing two facing hemispheres, barely separated, and labeling them Hemi and Demi. Above them an arc embracing both to the middle of both sides, labeled Super omnium. The writing explained that the Demi represented the visible world and the Hemi, the inherent invisible meaning of it. The arc hinted at the resulting insight of joining them into a complete circle! And if you drew a horizontal line joining the two points of the arc, it made another hemisphere to which you could add its counterpart and on and on. I had no conscious understanding of what I was writing at that moment! When I asked M about it, he just looked pleased as punch and said, “Keep it up!” Much of that and what came further is to be found in my book The Web in the Sea, p. 64.

Now, seventy-six years later, I realize that this has been my life’s work: Finding the Sacred in the Commonplace!
I have already written that religion and science, faith and reason, were opposite factors (as they have continued to be!) until the Age of Reason, when science repudiated religion at the time of Descartes. When this happened, religion lost its proof and science its sense of the sacred. This sums up one of the agonizing dichotomies of the entire departing Age of Pisces, now perhaps being healed by the theoretical physics of the coming Age.
Lately, Jung’s idea of hanging on consciously to the opposites and allowing the Transcendent Function, the healing third, suggested a triangle with science and religion as opposite points on the baseline and the resolution at the apex. That suggests a vertical motion! This resulted for me in an attack of insight. Bear with me.

Science legitimately limits itself to three basic steps:
As the professor Ravi Ravindra remarked. The greatest discovery of modern science is the discovery of its own limitations.”

I have tried to summarize it below:
        Abstract / metaphysical
      Step 3: Repeating & sharing
      Step 2: Experimenting
      Step 1: Observation

When we find the same archetypal processes at work in both science and religion, the result is spiritual insight! We begin to understand the unus mundus and find science and religion united by the symbolic experience of those archetypal processes (verbs!). Remember sym-bolos = putting together! This is how we achieve the coincidentia oppositorum that Jung proposed, in a nutshell, and here very oversimplified!!

The Sufis speak of the theophany of the Absolute in the relative, a more concise summary of what St. Paul also hinted at in I Cor. 2:11: For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him/... which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom [science?] teaches, but which the Holy Ghost [Hagia Sophia] teaches....

What occurs to me is that what unites the below and the above is the little word meaning. To make it absolutely simple, let’s take an egg for an analogy.

Step 3: outcome repeatable, can be eaten safely by humans. Yummy!
Step 2: can be boiled, poached, scrambled, fried, etc .
Step 1: Oval object, comes from a bird.

The meta (beyond) physical or spiritual aspects of the egg are so numerous, they take up a whole page in a book on universal mythology! The universe itself is said to come from a World Egg in many cultures. For me the outer shell conceals endless potentiality. In religion, a sacrament is described as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” Grace can be further interpreted as spiritual meaning. So I am back to my belief that the Sacred is hidden in the Commonplace, or the outer shell of an egg conceals literally limitless life and symbolically a universe of meaning for all humanity, hatching out in time and space!

This can shed light on the Easter egg, which is honored on the Sunday following the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox and the sun’s entrance again into Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, all of which invites the constellations of heaven to participate though hidden (!) in the grass and the game of trying to find one. Part of playful (Holy Wisdom) Hagia Sophia’s fun.

This is just a fraction of what science could lead us to if it included the clues to Spirit hidden in matter.

As Agrippa, the alchemist, put it: Virtutes divinae in res diffusae: divine powers are diffused in things. Look for Part II in my next CREDO! I hope to further demonstrate how this can be proven. There is a lot to ponder in this one, so reread as the alchemists advised: Lege, lege, lege et invenia – read, read, read and discover!


Monday, March 23, 2009

My Wooden Spoon from Iona – CREDO LXVII

I got it in 1967 in the gift shop of the Abbey. It sits humbly in a holder to the right of my stove, showing signs of years of use stirring porridge, pea soup, and the like. I have made twenty-three trips to this tiny Hebridean island west of Scotland. Many of the summers I led small groups of my teenage students on tours of the British Isles, and the wooden spoon became our teacher. One boy had commented on the ubiquitous motif in Celtic art and manuscripts of characteristic interwoven patterns, often including animals, birds, and human figures. How come? was the question and the spoon answered:

I am just a plain wooden spoon, but consider the tree from which I came and the millennia of ancestors that provided the seed for me. That tree was cut down by men, whose ancestors stretch back through time, as well. The woodcutters wore clothes that were made by other people of materials that had to be grown in other fields and transported . . .

Now the students laughed and began to contribute the history of the ship that brought the spoon to Iona, the building of the Abbey in the eighth century, the founding of the Abbey by St. Columba who brought Christianity to Scotland from Ireland . . . Then came the question of how Mrs. Howell came there in the first place, inspired by a visit to her small house on Long Island by a one-time visitor called Margaret Stuart who asked her if she had a picture of St. Martin’s Cross in her library. In the search I first learned of Iona’s existence, and bells began ringing in my soul.

You get the idea. If you own anything to which you have associations, it can conjure the world entire, if you choose, and this is what the Gaels, the Scots and Irish Celts were trying to convey. Everything is interconnected, and so this provides the mana or magic inherent in simple objects. Thus is a sacred meaning to be discovered in the commonplace. So by being conscious and grateful for this, as I stir my porridge here in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, the porridge tastes that much richer!

I have another habit that I have developed lately. I inherited a most beautiful Persian carpet. It hangs at the top of the stairs in my house. It belonged to my Teacher M and portrays a mysterious robed Sufi master sitting on a throne being attended by two men who are floating. Above them is the figure of Abraxas. All this is knotted into a large carpet of rich dark browns and golds. Lately, every morning as I go down to breakfast at 5:30, I have taken to stroking the carpet with my arm and enjoying touching something that those carpet makers must have imparted symbolically in designing it. I murmur “God bless the day!” as I do so. Foolish or not, it connects me through the centuries that may have passed since it was made. I assume it was Persian because Arabs are prohibited from depicting human figures.

When I taught history I developed another game called “Touches Away.” It went like this: When my father, who was born in 1894, was a little boy, he was taken to the St. Louis World’s Fair. There was an exhibit of a very old black man who had been born to a woman slave of George Washington. He had held the baby, so the old man was one touch away from Washington. For a nickel, my father shook hands with him, that’s two touches; my father puts me three away, and I would tell my students that when I touched them, they were only four touches away from our first president! This made the human connections through time meaningful and fun. One of my special touches comes from meeting a very old lady in Basel, Switzerland, called Emily Bardach. I was sixteen. She had been the last love of the great Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen, then a much older man, who moved in international literary circles in the early 1800s . . .

I won’t bore you with the number of truly famous people, it has been my privilege to be two touches away from like Freud, Adler, and, many times, Jung, or the meetings with the Dalai Lama and Muktananda in India. Given my childhood of traveling constantly with my parents, I even sat reluctantly by invitation on the lap of Mussolini at Ostia. As both my grandfathers were writers and William Dana Orcutt, was a publisher, he met Henry and William James, and Cardinals in Rome, and Mark Twain , whom my father met when he was nine, come to think of it.

Nowadays, many of you reading this, have no doubt very much the same experience, and some scholar has pointed out that everyone on earth is probably connected by only seven other people.

The point I am trying to make is that we are one, a truth perceived by the Gaelic Celts and taught me fortuitously by my wooden spoon from Iona!


Monday, March 16, 2009

The Secret of Words – CREDO LXVI

Existence is beyond the power of words
To define:
Terms may be used
But are none of them absolute.
In the beginning of heaven and earth there were no words,
Words came out of the womb of matter;
And whether a man dispassionately
Sees to the core of life
Or passionately
Sees the surface,
The core and the surface
Are essentially the same,
Words making them seem different
Only to express appearance.
If name be needed, wonder names them both:
From wonder to wonder
Existence opens.

   — from the Tao teh Ching of Lao Tzu: The Way of Life, 1, trans. Witter Bynner

In the ’60's, I started a serious study of Jung in English, and the result was a sudden eruption of poems placing gods/goddesses in modern settings. What I didn't realize was that these would prefigure my subsequent life's work sharing the fact that the Sacred is to be found in the commonplace because archetypes are divine processes (verbs!). As Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic philosopher, pointed out, Panta rhea, everything flows. These processes are hidden in both the unmanifest and manifest worlds. The latter separates and concretizes them the minute they are named! And yet the hint is there in the Latin origin of name, nomen = noun, and the Latin word for word, verbum!! (Thus does Mercury, the Trickster, fool us.)

Naming things separates them the way a movie (motion picture) actually separates motion into separate sequential images on the film. According to Genesis in the Torah, the correct evolutionary sequence is established in the first chapter. What I notice especially is that God creates by speaking the words Let there be LIGHT, a unity. Now, science can answer a lot about the whats and the hows of light but not the fundamental question Why? Then God sees by that Light that it is good. I quote from the original Hebrew Torah, which the Jews have always interpreted symbolically, not as my mother’s old Bible dated creation as occurring in 4004 B.C.!

1When God began to create the heaven and the earth—the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water—God said, “let there be light”; and there was light. God saw how good the light was, and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, a first day. God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water, that it may separate water from water.” God made the expanse, and it separated the water which was below the expanse from the water which was above the expanse. And it was so. God called the expanse Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
 God said, “Let the water below the sky be gathered into one area, that the dry land may appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering of the waters He called Seas. And God saw how good this was. And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation: seed-bearing plants, fruit trees of every kind on earth bearing fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw how good this was. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
 God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night; they shall serve as signs for the set times—the days and the years; and they shall serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth, to dominate the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw how good this was. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
 God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and birds that fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” God created the great sea monsters and all the living creatures of every kind that creep, which the waters brought forth in swarms; and all the winged birds of every kind. And God saw how good this was. God blessed them, saying, “Be fertile and increase, fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
 God said, “Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: cattle, creeping things, and wild beasts of every kind.” And it was so. God made wild beasts of every kind and cattle of every kind, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. And God saw how good this was. And God said, “I will make man in My image, after My likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth.” And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth.”
 God said, “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food. And to all the animals on land, to all the birds of the sky, and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there is the breath of life, [I give] all the green plants for food.” And it was so, And God saw all that He had made, and found it very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2The heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array. And on the seventh day God finished the work which He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work which He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it God ceased from all the work of creation which He had done. Such is the story of heaven and earth as they were created.

Note that after the creation of the unity of Light, in the very next step, God divides creation into the duality of opposites and names them Day and Night; Earth and Sea , Sun and Moon , fish and fowl, Man and Woman, and blesses them and gives them basically all the gifts of nature. This is significant because now that there is duality physical creation can continue, which also requires the feminine.

The seventh day, God takes a break and rests and is pleased with it all. This is the first version of creation. It is a happy version.

The second version is far more complicated! It involves the Garden of Eden, the two trees of Knowledge and Life, the temptation of Eve, and the expulsion caused by the duality of consciousness of good and evil, and the beginning of guilt and shame: for Catholic Christians the origin of the so-called Original Sin.

The point I want to stress is the connection between naming and separating, which is also the message of Lao Tzu. Both convey the idea that the duality necessary for manifestation is feminine – Mother Nature indeed! She renders the ego the illusion necessary for our living in the earthly world of opposites. Jung calls the healing the necessary coincidentia oppositorum, the bringing together of opposites by virtue of the Transcendent Function of consciousness. We struggle to unite outer experience with inner meaning between our birth and death.

Think zipper! It makes two out of one going up and the wee tab is the Transcendent Function! Psychologically, this counters the emphasis of orthodox Christianity of favoring Virtue and denying Sin, which wrecks the necessary balance that the Transcendent Function of consciousness offers. The result is that the sins we deny go into our personal unconscious and get conveniently projected out onto others! For instance, if the Roman Catholic Church could accept the human feminine as sacrosanct as the masculine, then priests could marry and there would not have been the scandalous sexual abuse that has proved costly on so many levels. (And here the opposites of Scorpio [sex] and Taurus [money] are yet again revealed.)

So what does this mean for us personally? Probably an honest admission that we all have stuff to work out and become conscious of; that, as Jung points out, to try to appear to be too good is bad for us; that to believe, as do Judaism and Celtic Christianity, that by being natural we can acknowledge that any Good we do comes through us as Light from our Divine Guest, not out of us! This solves the problems of ego inflation as well.

The word kind comes from the Anglo-Saxon kinde as in Dame Kinde = Mother Nature! So to be kind is to act naturally. If you check this with Lao Tzu’s wisdom, he too attributes the opposites expressed in words as coming from “the womb of matter,” and matter comes from Latin mater = mother! Even the Egyptian goddess of Wisdom is called Maat.

I guess I cannot stress enough the value of etymology or the study of the origin of words. As my friend Russell Lockhart, the Jungian analyst, and I wrote, Words are eggs. They hold incredible secrets when hatched in a dictionary!


Monday, March 9, 2009

Sacrifice – CREDO LXV

The word sacrifice comes from the Latin and means “to make holy.” It was a concept that I struggled with for many years. During Lent, the idea was to give up something one especially liked. At one point in an English boarding school in Italy, I decided that my favorite food was bread. So I gave up bread, only to be placed in a double bind by the Lord’s Prayer in which we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”! So I gave up giving up right then and there and decided sacrifice made no sense. In addition, the custom in olden times of sacrificing great numbers of animals to God smacked to me of bribery and cruelty. None of it seemed logical. That is until I read Jung’s magnificent essay on “Transformation Symbolism in the Mass.” It is a piece I have reread several times over the years, and I plan to reread it this Lenten season.

Somewhere Jung solves the purpose of sacrifice in the following way: we cannot offer up something we do not already have. So in the symbolic and psychological sense, it is in sacrificing that we become conscious of what we have. That makes sense to me and puts my confusion to rest.

The giving up of food is an act of self-discipline carried to extremes of fasting, especially in Islam. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims deny themselves food and drink, from the moment before dawn when one cannot distinguish the color of a thread to sundown, with exceptions for children and the sick. Catholic Christians used to be obliged to give up meat on Fridays, generally, and during Lent, except for Sundays.

I remember the agony my father’s father, a Bostonian agnostic, put the Irish family cook through by ordering her to roast beef on Good Friday! I found her in tears in the kitchen fearing she was committing a mortal sin. It did not endear this grandfather to me at the time. My mother’s father, an Episcopal priest and a vessel of kindness, would never have dreamt of doing such a thing. But Grandpa Billy seemed to relish the cook’s discomfort as she carried in the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. It took away my appetite.

There is, of course, another way of looking at the whole matter. How can giving up something material make it holy? The act of self-denial is more a matter of self-discipline. But what if were to give up a fault or a destructive habit, some negative psychological tendency, like anger or gossip or criticism? By giving up these, we would be transforming them by making them conscious, thus perhaps making them a holy offering. One could start by examining one’s unconscious projections such as labeling other people or defaming them . . .

Well, today is Mardi Gras, so I now will go in and have lunch and enjoy every bit that I can chew at my age, and before nap I will commence the great pleasure of rereading Jung’s “Transformation Symbolism in the Mass.” As he was a Swiss Protestant, it is a remarkably profound explanation.

Jung had a fascinating “complex,” it seems, with Rome. He could not bring himself to go there, and yet he studied and commented extensively on Roman Catholicism and carried on an extraordinary and lengthy correspondence with Father Victor White. It seems that on one occasion Jung and Toni Wolff were visiting Ravenna when the following incident occurred:

Even on the occasion of my first visit to Ravenna in 1913, the tomb of Galla Placidia seemed to me significant and unusually fascinating. The second time, twenty years later, I had the same feeling. Once more I fell into a strange mood in the tomb of Galla Placidia; once more I was deeply stirred. I was there with an acquaintance, and we went directly from the tomb into the Baptistery of the Orthodox.

Here, what struck me first was the mild blue light that filled the room; yet I did not wonder about this at all. I did not try to account for its source, and so the wonder of this light without any visible source did not trouble me. I was somewhat amazed because, in place of the windows I remembered having seen on my first visit, there were now four great mosaic frescoes of incredible beauty which, it seemed, I had entirely forgotten. I was vexed to find my memory so unreliable. The mosaic on the south side represented the baptism in the Jordan; the second picture, on the north, was of the passage of the Children of Israel through the Red Sea; the third, on the east, soon faded from my memory. It might have shown Naaman being cleansed of leprosy in the Jordan; there was a picture on this theme in the old Merian Bible in my library, which was much like the mosaic. The fourth mosaic, on the west side of the baptistery, was the most impressive of all. We looked at this one last. It represented Christ holding out his hand to Peter, who was sinking beneath the waves. . . .

I retained the most distinct memory of the mosaic of Peter sinking, and to this day can see every detail before my eyes: the blue of the sea, individual chips of the mosaic, the inscribed scroll proceeding from the mouths of Peter and Christ which I attempted to decipher.
(Memories, Dreams, Reflections, pp. 284–285)

Jung then goes on to say that later he asked a friend to send him pictures of the mosaics. The friend responded that he could not find any pictures and was told that no such mosaics existed! And yet both Toni and he saw them in a strange blue light! This combination of events—the vision and the inability of Jung to travel to Rome during his lifetime—suggest to me some traumatic event, perhaps in a previous life connected to the Roman Catholic Church. I am so struck by this that I am hunting down an article by A. Plaut titled “Jung and Rebirth.” Perhaps Plaut had the same idea.

It is now almost a week since Mardi Gras, and I have decided I am becoming conscious of a tad of negative scrupulosity. It comes in the form of dealing with all my sins of omission! The things I ought to have done and have not done! This is one of the psychological abysses. Another, as I may have mentioned before, is the little phrase “If only . . .” Aaaaaaaaargh!

We are in the midst of a mega-snowstorm – actually beautiful to look at through a window in a warm house, but bad news for all who drive.


Friday, March 6, 2009

The Unconsciousness of the Unconscious – CREDO LXIV

Jung defines the ego as the center of consciousness and tells us it is a very small part of the psyche as a whole. We all have to have one when we are awake and have to function in the world. And more importantly, while we are at it, we are identifying with it and thinking this is “I" am. Thus in my diagram it is the little circle on the circumference of the larger mandala or circle of the psyche. It is bisected by the circumference, one half looking out to the outer world and the other looking inward to the unconscious entirety of the Self, whose center point is focused like the wick in a candle to hold the universal flame of Spirit (our Divine Guest). As Jung points out, the problem is that the Self dwells in the unconscious!

So it is safe to assume that most people in this world are completely oblivious that they are unconscious of the Unconscious, and really all of us were until Sigmund Freud came along and explained it. Somebody pointed out that as Freud was doing this, the dark unknown interior of Africa was also being discovered. Certainly, one of the most important discoveries in recent times was Freud’s discovery of the ego, thus making it possible for us to be conscious of the Unconscious! He divided the psyche into three parts: the ego, the id, and the superego, and Jung, his early disciple, broke with him because it left Spirit out. (I am oversimplifying!)

Later, Jung added the complexes of anima/animus, Shadow, persona, etc., and wrote extensively about them in his Collected Works. The result has been that even today there are many who think of Jung as “wooly-minded,” but we and an increasing number of others see him as a prophetic man way ahead of his time. In fact, he seems relevant in many areas besides psychology.

Perhaps we forget that every night the Unconscious tries to come to us in dreams, which is why, even long before Freud, they are mentioned throughout history. The oldest work of fiction in the West, the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, is an example. It has come down to us on clay tablets written in cuneiform more than three thousand years ago.

This unconsciousness manifests itself in all Shadow projections, both personal and collective. Politically and professionally, it can appear in what I call the “Guru Disease,” in which people identify with the Guru being projected upon them, while the Guru, at the same time he is busy castigating his disciples, is brought down by revelations of destructive personal indiscretions! Here Jung’s insights can be so helpful. As I began to lecture around the world, I myself received a good many projections of “Wise Woman” or “Fairy Godmother,” and I will repeat the help that I got from analyst Edward C. Whitmont. I went to him in fear of inflation. He wisely said, “Don’t deny it. (!) Count to ten and offer it up.” He could have put it another way: don’t identify with the projection! Since then I remind myself and others that I am only wise in one respect: I know for certain how much I don’t know!! And as I age, the vastness of my ignorance in all directions threatens to overwhelm me. I have forgotten who said it, but I agree with the certainty of nothing but the heart’s affection.

Knowing about our Unconscious also helps us to understand the wisdom of loving our enemy. Our “enemy” often is receiving our projection, and if we can see that we can learn what it is we abhor in him/her, we might be able to find what we are denying in ourselves. Jung says that he recognized this in himself when the person made him “hot under the collar”! If the person is truly evil, our reaction should be dispassionate compassion, knowing full well the karmic suffering of eventual consciousness that awaits him or her in the future. Father forgive them, they know not what they do.

Psychologically, there is also the “White” Shadow, which consists of hero worship of all kinds. It’s when we admire the good characteristics of others and envy them, not realizing “It takes one to know one!”

Jung distinguished between the personal and the collective Unconscious, the personal having to do with our own individual psyche and its challenges. As we deal with them and grow, we may tap into the collective. This has been reflected in some of the unusual dreams some of us occasionally have. Ira Progoff, I believe, uses a helpful analogy: he likens the personal Unconscious to a well and the collective to that underground stream that feeds all our wells.

The simple stories attributed to the individual life of a Teacher demonstrate this. Take the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. A man talking to a woman at a well is a common occurrence, but that conversation has gone down through two millennia. Or think of his observation about our seeing the speck in another’s eye but not the beam in our own. (He was a remarkable psychologist!) The reason parables, fables, and fairy tales endure is that they raise common individual experiences to a collective level. They reflect archetypal situations that repeat themselves through the ages. They, like the works of some enlightened authors, become classic! Shakespeare, for one.

I see a good reason to rejoice in the step offered us by psychology in the evolution of consciousness: It’s not that the truth has not always been there, but now some of us can say, “I am now conscious that I was unconscious of the Unconscious!” Wow!

The biggest problem remains the fact that the Self itself dwells in the Unconscious. It has now become the object of our ultimate yearning and what “Individuation” is all about, as well as the original intended goal of every religion. The problem with the great Western exoteric (extroverted) religions is that so much of them depend on the conscious ego to achieve this, but the ego is disqualified because it functions through duality .It can only point the way. (God is experienced as “outside” of us, and you have to follow our rules and definitions to find Him.) But, as Jung puts it in one of his letters, “I don’t believe God is all that interested in theology”! Esoterically (introverted), the mystics without exception tell us that our heart knows the only way to approach the Mystery. In other words, Love. Perhaps that is why astrologically the physical heart is ruled by the golden Sun, center and only star in our solar system. Ultimately, it justifies those famous words in the New Testament: She can be forgiven much because she loved much. Or the Dalai Lama’s “My only religion is kindness.”

Just give a moment’s thought to some of the people you have known that you remember who were dear to you. What did they have in common? How did they bless you by being in your life?

Time for lunch. Yum!


Three Challenges in Life – CREDO LXIII

My mother, Penelope King Orcutt, was a woman of wry insight. She was deeply introverted, with much wisdom and a puckish sense of humor. It was as if she lived in an emotional fortress and would send a teasing Joker out a side door. You should know that she was a Taurus, an earth sign that rules both money and the physical joys of comfort and security, which may explain some of the following.

Her method of bringing up her only child, when she was not traveling away with my father, had a lasting impact on me. I remember when I was four years old and would have a tantrum, she would simply drag me screaming to face myself in the full-length mirror in the hall. This would infuriate me even more but gradually I would see what a comic figure I made and would end up giggling.

This paid off oddly when I was in my forties and was desperately unhappy. I was alone, looking out a window on a rainy cold morning, feeling absolutely hopeless, with tears streaming down my cheeks, when suddenly I had the strangest sense of a violinist appearing at my shoulder, playing a tragic melody, and mocking “Wooozoo, woozoo, woozoo!” As I had been reading “The Gnostic Gospel of John,” I had a sudden attack of insight, remembering the quote from the Round Dance, Learn to suffer and not to suffer! I realized that Jung would remind us that it is the Ego that suffers and the Self that watches. As Hindu wisdom puts it, We are all like two little birds – one eats the fruit and the other one watches!

As I grew older, another device of my mother’s, brilliant in its way, was that when I misbehaved, she would turn the tables on me and ask, “Now if you were the mother and had a daughter who carried on this way, what would you do?” This never failed to make me stop and think and respond with serious, sensible, and almost adult advice!
I was a total sucker for reverse psychology and, as I have Uranus rising and almost as a reflex did exactly the opposite of what I was told to do, she would say things like “Of course, you aren’t able to pack your suitcase in time for us to leave for the station!” And, boy, did I show her! It took me years to catch on to this. Or if she wanted me to enjoy a book, she would hide it and let me discover it.

But what I want to share with you especially is her summary of our human lot. She told me in later life that she had decided that as individuals, each of us had to encounter at least three problems: the needs for love, for money, and for health.
She added that most of us faced one of these at a time and could deal with it, but confronting two at a time was a real challenge, and that all three simultaneously could be devastating!

Now in my old age, I realize the profound truth of this. Up through my adolescence, I lacked only for the greater presence of my parents, and then came a long, long stretch of the search for Love. Sigh. When I married for all the wrong reasons, I soon experienced all three at once. Health (I had a near-death experience with the miscarriage of a third baby which left me an invalid for over a year), followed a few years later by such extreme poverty that we were the family the church brought the Thanksgiving turkey to! So I was challenged by Money and Health as well. Had it not been for my abiding spiritual connection to my Teacher, despite his departure from this world, I might have given up. By then, I had come to understand more about karma.

In the end, when I was fifty-seven, ten years divorced and led a new life teaching, I had the positive blessing of all three at once for almost eighteen years, after I met and married my beloved Polar Bear, Walter Andersen, and now thirty years later as I age, I am left without him, confronting Health, especially after the stroke in 1997, which has left me without the use of my right hand and the constant bzzzzzzzzzzzzing of paresthesia on my right side. So I appreciate those wise words of my mother and wonder if you who are reading this would not agree with them. The question I have for you is which of the three is the hardest to deal without. Given the world situation today, humanity is certainly being challenged by the collective lack of all three. My mother’s choice differs from St. Paul’s “Faith, Hope, and Love” in that Health and Money are physical needs, but both of them agree that Love can ease the pain brought about by the lack of the other two.

Just don’t take any one of them for granted and appreciate either Trinity when and if you are blessed or troubled at the moment! It might help in understanding that these challenges help us to grow in consciousness and are common to our human condition!


Institutions and Individuation – CREDO LXII

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalist author and philosopher of Concord, wrote, “All institutions are the prolonged shadow of one man.” There seems to be some truth in that, if you think about it. In the Jungian sense, the Shadow of institutions is the almost immediate concretizing of the vision of the founder! We see this in almost all exoteric religions, which in jig time set up all kinds of rigid rules and regulations, rewards and punishments, and every kind of grading and structuring, tests and trials, and rewards for passing them!

I worked for a time for Frederick Prince, the wealthy heir of the Prince family of Bellevue Avenue of Newport, Rhode Island. He was in his seventies and losing his sight, so I was hired to read to him. Gradually, we moved from the newspaper to history books and long conversations. He was a spiritual seeker at heart but as an adolescent attending a most prestigious boys’ boarding school in New England, came to a full stop when he was turned away from chapel because he was wearing white socks! After I left, he told me he had returned to his Episcopal roots, been confirmed, and had taken his First Communion. I rejoiced for him.

My own middle daughter was prevented from attending the Sunday service because she had forgotten her uniform beanie. In the midst of WW II, on the battlefield, a Roman Catholic chaplain refused to allow a Protestant soldier to receive Communion. The small group perished, and the bitter survivor told the tale. These are reductions ad absurdum, but I relate them as examples of the consequences of the literalism and the power shadow that can overtake any institution going, even Jungian ones! This has caused the recent break-up of many institutes, the world over, into more than one group.

It is also true of education and even some businesses. The paradox is ego conformity and the fear of rejection, and collectively we see this in great political movements down through history. Think only of Hitler, Stalin, and the current situation in North Korea.

A solution is possible, especially in the area of religions and politics. It is quite simple. Inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness! This means going a notch higher and respecting the validity of diversity. Just as there are different races, humanity embraces all. Just as there are any numbers of religions in the world, each has its own worth. As Christ put it, In my house are many mansions. The music scale has many notes, the rainbow, different colors. In fact, together these reflect a single Light.

President Obama is reminding us that this inclusiveness is what our Founding Fathers had in mind and what Roger Williams, who rebelled against the Puritans’ would-be supremacy in Massachusetts, founded Rhode Island to exemplify. Now Jews could worship in Newport, and Quakers were safe, as were Native Americans. In fact, my father’s ancestors threw my mother’s ancestors out of Boston, and I am proud to be descended, along with thousands of others, from Roger Williams as well. This inclusiveness is what the European Union is about – a whole embracing many, a huge step in eliminating thousands of years of war and loss of innocent lives.

One of Jung’s greatest contributions to the world was the concept of Individuation. The word means to be whole, not divided. Given the freedom and understanding of the importance of each of us becoming who we really are, he pointed out that what needs surrendering – not killing! – is the identification with our ego to that center point of the Self (or the wick in our candle, which holds the universal Flame of Spirit). This is what distinguishes Jungian psychology from most others. Jung even said, in so many words, that individuation was not possible without a religious (spiritual) dimension. The paradox is that the closer one gets to individuating, the more the person lives for the good of the collective. It seems that, like popcorn, once you’ve popped you are transformed and can’t go back again!

We honor the saints of both genders with a golden halo, symbol of wholeness, or the Buddhist bodhisattvas, or the Jewish holy ones, or the Muslim mystics; there have been many of them, yet they all have one thing in common – in the end after much traveling through the hurts and heat of commitment they became unique in their lasting contribution to the collective. You could add Jung himself to the list! I can think of not a single avatar who did not travel what Joseph Campbell called the “Hero’s Journey.” And lest we forget the feminine, there probably have been just as many women in every culture but perhaps fewer are recognized until they have departed. We must not forget that the recognition of women as equals to men is historically a recent event, and in terms of financial pay less than a week old! Around 9000 B.C.E., during the Age of Cancer, that was a different story, but even today millions of women are literally covered from head to toe and still forbidden an education.

Tertullian, an early Christian Father, even wrote Habet mulier animam? Does a woman have a soul?

To sum up, what the future hopefully promises is a world of interfaith, a world of mutual respect and appreciation of diversity, and an appreciation of yin/yang or the balance of opposites: positive and receptive. It takes two to tango and to create a new world or a life. We need to respect and honor our differences rather than blending them into a sexless mush; without the tension of opposites, there is no room for relationship, creativity and love. We need and rather than or!


The Divine Guest – CREDO LXI

I don’t know exactly when I took to calling the Spirit Within us, our Divine Guest, but this very day I was reading an interview with Jean Vanier, the French founder of L’Arche, the movement that builds homes for retarded and otherwise rejected individuals around the world. And here is the quote from the New Testament: Behold I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Spirit does not knock the door down. The mystery is that Spirit waits patiently to be heard and to be invited in. It defines itself as a Divine Guest. Thus my intuition makes sense.
In other words, we really do have free will and maybe have to start by “entertaining angels unaware.” Here is a poem by Leigh Hunt, an English poet of the nineteenth century. It is one of my favorites.

       Abou Ben Adhem
   Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
   Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
   And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
   Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
   An angel writing in a book of gold:—
   Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
   And to the Presence in the room he said
   “What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
   And with a look made of all sweet accord,
   Answered “The names of those who love the Lord.”
   “And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
   Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
   But cheerily still, and said “I pray thee, then,
   Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

   The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
   It came again with a great wakening light,
   And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
   And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

It is curious historically speaking that the Christian world up until the Italian astronomer Galileo in the early 1600s maintained that the Earth was the center of the solar system. When he insisted that it was the Sun, he was imprisoned for heresy! Psychologically and spiritually, we could point out that we had become so anthropocentric, we failed to see how the truth was implying a far deeper symbolic meaning because as the Sun is to the solar system, so the Divine Guest or Spirit is to each of us! Actually, the Egyptians and ancient Greeks knew this all along, but the Gothic barbarians destroyed all this knowledge, and during the well-named Dark Ages that fact was lost. The mystical writers of the Gospels, especially John, knew better, saying that Christ (atman, Divine Guest) was “the Light that lighteth every man.” This is the Collect message of Christmas, which we need to remember was in the fifth century arbitrarily made the official birthday of Jesus to supplant the Roman winter solstice celebration of the Saturnalia. Saturn is the ruler of Capricorn, the start of the tenth sign of the zodiac. It rules physical form, and it takes nine full months for a baby to be born. Thus they were honoring manifestation. It seems that Christianity added honoring the Spirit indwelling in manifest humanity.

This, of course, was taught in the East for previous millennia. Their term for that Light was atman. It would be so helpful to humanity at large, so hell-bent on religious differences as a reason for war and mutual destruction, to realize what Jung has added to simplify the matter. He states that the psyche is best symbolized by a mandala or circle with the Self as the center and totality of the psyche.

Not long ago, I was lighting a candle and observed the following symbolic AHA! Each of us has an individual wick, the Self, but the flame, or Divine Guest, (atman, Christ Within) is the same flame!
Now that is a fact, no one can deny! If you think of Spirit as Light of that flame also being Love, the more you share, the more there is! So just maybe we need to realize eventually that the new commandment might be
     Love thy neighbor he is thy self!

Obviously Abou ben Adhem had it right.


The Global Return of the Prodigal Son? – CREDO LX

Hopefully, we are all familiar with the parable of the son who asked his father for his share of inheritance and went forth and blew it all on material joys, went broke, and finally came home, ashamed and desperate. If not, look it up!

Sociologists tell us that for humans to survive they need the basic material things of food, water, and shelter. True, but what they fail to mention is the intangible meaning in and of life. This begs the question of poverty’s symbolic connection to wisdom. In the cosmic drama of history, all the spiritual teachers demonstrated this in the stories concerning their lives. The point here is that many people reject such stories as myths or fairy tales and fail to understand that these are not intended to be taken literally but are profoundly true for our inner psyche or soul. They conceal the gift of wisdom and, even scoffers must admit, have endured for centuries to help us in time of need. As we approach the Christian story of the Nativity and the Jewish story of Hanukah, we can see clearly that both are stories involving need. Joseph and Mary welcome new Life in the simplicity of a stable surrounded by animals (nature) and angels (spiritual messengers) and the Light of a star. Hanukah celebrates the miracle of the seven days of enduring oil for Light, which saved them in their time of need and is symbolized today by the Menorah candlestick. Pagans celebrated the Winter Solstice when the Sun’s Light lengthens day by day to return life to a seemingly dead and frozen world. It still does. Take comfort, the solar system is still running on time!

Gautama Buddha, five hundred years before Jesus, was a king’s son, restricted by his father to the palatial grounds because of a prediction that he would become either a great king in turn or a great leader of souls. The restriction didn’t work! Miraculously, as a youth Buddha encountered a poor person, a sick one, and a dying one. Shocked with compassion, he escaped and went into several years of extreme privation and search for wisdom. We could add a host of others including St. Francis and, in our recent memory, Gandhi, who was influenced by our own Thoreau’s pragmatic twist to Hindu philosophy in his essay “Civil Disobedience” and his own personal practice of non-violent protest, ahimsa. Gandhi, in turn, having read Thoreau as a young Hindu in South Africa, went on to liberate all of India from the British without firing a shot, which impacted Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. Good things can happen to change the world. In the last two thousand years monks and nuns have sought out poverty as the price to pay for spiritual insight. Today, hopefully we may not have to go to such extremes, but we need to distinguish that money is not the root of all evil but “the love of money,” which is the correct quote. With it comes the trio of oogy witches: Greed, Lust, and Power, trailed, I suspect, by a small demon called Scoffing!

Turning to our own times, think also of the number of false gurus who have been hypocrites, such as Swaggart, Bakker, and even the Hindu Rajneesh, all felled by the above! And there are many others. We should not condemn them, because their subsequent suffering has helped us realize a few things. Now, in the last two months we have the pitiful and shocking revelations of Blagojevich, and Bernard Madoff’s $50,000,000,000 swindle! All this on top of the global financial meltdown, the result of greed. What profiteth a man if he gain the world and lose his soul thereby? Surely, we can see the connection to the Prodigal Son. Humanity has been given a lovely earth with wisdom concealed in plain sight within nature and our own bodies; Teachers down through the ages, who spoke in different cultures, have given us spiritual advice, and yet we have wasted so much of our planet, polluted it with plastic and toxic concoctions, and spread it down through history with corpses, the results of destructive wars, crime, diseases, and mindless torture and terrorism. No wonder people are turning to the escapism of drugs! As William James remarked, they are the poor man’s way to mysticism or an unconscious search for meaning.

So what is the solution? For me personally, at 86, it is the certainty that soon I will have to leave every thing I treasure in this world behind! But I am blessed by the wealth of intangibles I have received to carry over. Death is a great reminder. I have learned that its antonym is birth, not Life, which encircles both.

But for most of you reading this, the solution is all there and happening but perhaps unrecognized. We are waking up! We are recognizing the importance of spiritual values. Many even of the wealthy are not just giving away their money but devoting their personal lives to serve others, such as Bill Gates and his wife, Bono, numerous successful actors, Al Gore, and Obama, to name a few of the famous, but there are also countless people all over the world who are reaching out to help others and to save our planet. The real challenge may well be to stop thinking that there is only one right religion, namely mine, and see that the Teachers themselves all agreed that the Light that comes is there to light every living being and is hidden in every atom in the manifest world. It even has a name: LOVE.

As His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, puts it within all our reach: My only religion is kindness. Perhaps that is the way we prodigals can come home.


As Within, So Without – CREDO LIX

The pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, who seems in many ways to be a forerunner of Jung, wrote in one of his pithy sayings, With our eyes open, we share the same world; with our eyes closed, each of us enters a private world. As a paraphrase, one could also say, I am in the world and the world is in me.

As above so below is the famous quote from the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus; this can be balanced by the horizontal As within, so without, or so it seems to me. The contents of each microcosm of a psyche are the results of our projections and introjections

When I was first invited to lecture at the Jung Foundation in New York, I realized that one cannot just give a paper on astrology – it has to be experienced. It took a lot of nerve to introduce a different method entirely. Since my definition of the astrological chart is that it describes the unique way an individual is likely to process experience, I had the group consider the obvious. I asked them to stand in a circle and realize they were sharing that circle but each was seeing it from a different perspective – and each was equally valid. Years later I would add the Stanford theoretical physicist William Tillis’s discovery through biofeedback that when two people hold hands, the energy is squared, so ten can provide the energy of a hundred – a syntropy opposite to entropy! On Iona at a Conference of 72, I suddenly realized we were solving the alchemical riddle of the impossibility of squaring a circle! One has to think outside the box.

We now know scientifically that each human being is unique: DNA, fingerprints, irises, etc., etc., but how often do we realize that our lifetime is like a bubble containing a totally unique set of memories and experiences! God never repeats himself, wrote Martin Buber. As I have often remarked, one person gives a lecture but a hundred listeners will hear a hundred different ones. An artist paints a picture, and down through the ages each onlooker will react to it differently. This is the result of our projections, which the chart helps us understand. Each planetary process gets projected to the outer world in either a positive or negative way; thus the work of the ego is to become more conscious of the subtle choices we have to work on these normally unconscious reactions. Therein lies the profound value of astrology as an adjunct to psychotherapy, something Jung himself admitted.

We all have free will within our microcosm. Jung points out that it is the way we react to circumstances that determines our personal fate, and Arnold Toynbee said the same thing of civilizations! And therein lies the great gift of consciousness! The promise is that as our consciousness changes, so inevitably will the outer circumstances. Not the other way around! Take a moment to reflect on this in your own life. All the spiritual guides in every religion give hints for how to go about this. The Golden Rule is a start.

I had my fifth birthday in November in Berlin, and two and a half weeks later the landlady of the pension we were staying in brought in an Adventshäuschen, a rectangular open cardboard box magically decorated with Christmas motifs, animals, elves, snow sparkles, and so forth. She set it up on the table, lit a candle in the midst of it, and explained that it contained 24 little windows that could be pried open, a day at a time, until Christmas Eve. So the lights were turned off and we sang a carol. Then we guessed what might be hidden behind the first window – a ball, a toy drum, a gingerbread cookie? I was fascinated. We did this every evening until on December 24th the double doors revealed the Nativity. Today I can appreciate the symbolism! The one source of light shines equally through every thing in creation, culminating in the symbolic Trinity of the archetypal holiness of the human family; the sacred Child is reborn anew every winter solstice as the Sun returns lengthening light to the New Year. As I am writing this eighty-one years after the delight of that five-year old, on this second Sunday in Advent, I realize the symbolic message of that event on many different levels!

As the Collect for Christmas Day reminds us, Christ (Atman, the Divine Guest) is the Light in the life of everyone! To me that means all of humanity not just Christians, a timely reminder for us all in these troubled times!

Love one another!


Enantiodromia – CREDO LVIII

Jung was fond of this Greek word meaning “running into its opposite.” It described the compensatory reaction of the Unconscious to any extreme conscious posture we are likely to assume. Put this word in your lexicon!

This is most clearly understood on the collective level. Take the historical matter of the Spanish Inquisition: Those accused of heresy were tortured to confess they were serving the “devil” by well-meaning(?) fanatics trying to save souls from hell. In the hideous practices, the “devil” walked into them! In the process of bringing democracy to Iraq, we seem to have lost much of our democratic rights here at home!

Psychologically, we see it frequently in what might be termed the guru or preacher disease – consciously they preach against all kinds of sexual sins, only to be caught acting them out secretly themselves. It could be what Christ was referring to as the problem of the “whited sepulchre.”

Enantiodromia is a warning against extreme conscious attitudes which inevitably get compensated by our Shadow. The quickest way to catch it in ourselves is through our negative projections. I myself wrestle with the conundrum: I am intolerant of intolerance! (Back to the drawing board!) It might be said that Jung is suggesting that trying to be too good is bad for us! I know he pointed out that trying to be perfect is pointless. The word per-fect itself means done, finished, ready to be put into a museum. No, he reasoned, we should strive to be whole! The mandala of the psyche depends on pi, so wholeness implies a work in constant progress.

When I taught the basics of the different religions to my ninth-graders, I quoted the Islamic tenet that only Allah can make something perfect, and for this reason every Muslim artisan makes a deliberate mistake in his work. I had brought a Turkish prayer rug, with its point tufted into the design so that the rug can be aligned with Mecca. The class immediately concentrated on finding the mistake and actually found more than one!

If we think about it, machines can turn out thousands of identical “perfect” lifeless objects but no individual paints or sculpts or creates in anything but a personal style, and this is what we recognize and honor. Just think of the difference between Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci and Picasso or Rouault, to say nothing of Grandma Moses! Or try the funny papers or cartoons. It could be said that in the end all we have to give the world is our individuality, our uniqueness. As Martin Buber remarked, God never repeats himself.

Comparisons are odious indeed, whether they are made by others or by us as we flagellate ourselves. I had a governess in Rome who kept reproaching me for not being a good little girl like Maria! Hah! Maria, a few months later, told me hers had asked why she couldn’t have nice manners like Alice!

I may have already related my early permanent annihilation of jealousy at that time. I was secretly jealous of another, a golden-curled blue-eyed pretty girl about my own age. I thought it through, lying in the hotel bed, and realized that there was no way I could ever be like Gloria. No way, no how. So I was stuck being me. That moment of conscious common sense has stood by me all these subsequent eighty years! Today with our uniqueness confirmed by DNA, I have decided that all we have to give to the world in the end is ourselves and vive la difference!

Shakespeare put it best in the advice of Polonius to Hamlet:

   This above all: to thine own self be true,
   And it must follow as the night the day,
   Thou canst not then be false to any man.

We are all works in progress. I just had a note from Gerald Schroeder, the author of The Hidden Face of God, one of the best books I have read in the last forty years. He is both a scientist and a mystic and lives in Jerusalem. He tells me that in Exodus 3:14, the Hebrew words of God are: I will be that which I will be, which, unlike the English version, puts the definition in the future tense. This is a significant concept, putting the Creator in constant motion rather than the static “I am that I am.” It makes one feel as if life is one great mysterious adventure. It fits Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic philosopher Jung was so fond of, who wrote panta rhea, everything flows.

The paradox is that our only glimpse of eternity is that it’s always now!

And my now says it’s time to go to bed.


Compliments – CREDO LVII

In the ’70s, I lived in Oyster Bay and sang in the choir of the Episcopal Christ Church. A psychiatrist was a fellow chorister, and I had helped him so successfully with the astrological insight into the chart of one of his patients that he proposed I give a lecture to the Grand Rounds in Psychiatry at the hospital he served. The doctors had just been treated to a lecture on Jung by Dr. Edward C. Whitmont, a distinguished Jungian analyst. As this was a staggering challenge, I wrote out my lecture (something I never do) and mailed it to Whitmont for approval. He invited me to his home in Irvington and I went in some trepidation, little knowing I was about to meet a Magus! Not only was he an analyst, but also an astrologer, a homeopathist, and a mystic. As we met I marveled at his wild white hair, his twinkling eyes, his almost gnome-like appearance, and, like my Teacher M, his spiritual presence. I discovered he was born Austrian and exiled, and we began to speak German together and found many interests in common. An hour sped by and I began to relax. And then he commanded me: “I want you to analyze with me.” I spluttered that I wished that I could but on a teacher’s salary this would be impossible! He just said that he would make it possible, and so he did. Because of my anxiety, I always prepaid him. Later he said I was the only one so to do. Finally, I remembered to ask for the copy of the lecture. He opened a file, took it out, tossed it in my lap, grinned, and said, “It’s fine.” And that is the way I was invited to work, to study, and become the friend of one of the greatest mentors in my life.

The result was that eventually I resigned from teaching after eighteen years and began at another level, subsequently traveling the country giving seminars at centers and universities, ultimately teaching at C. G .Jung Institutes. I owe this to Christopher Whitmont and his patient, loving help in making my obstacles conscious.

So it is with pleasure I now turn to the topic of this Credo. So many of us are uncomfortable receiving compliments! We may on the one hand become suspicious – What is the secret agenda here? – and the compliment goes that-a-way; or we think, If that person knew me the way I know myself, they would never say that, so they’re shtoopid! and the compliment goes t’other way, and we go out sadly to the garden and eat worms.

Well, as I lectured here and there, I began to receive much applause. At first I was pleased but then I began to worry. I went to Whitmont and told him I was afraid of becoming inflated. “Don’t deny it!” he frowned. “What?” I exclaimed.

“No! Seriously just count to ten and offer it up!” Then I realized what he was saying: denying praise is an ego game that says, See how humble I am. Counting to ten gives us time to realize our Divine Guest might have had a hand in it, so we should send it up the pipe to where it rightfully belongs! From that day on, when the clapping began, I would turn my back and clap up as well. If any of you try this one way or another, the problem never even arises. Piece of cake!

I am moved to share this because of the deluge of loving birthday messages, cards, and phone calls I just received for my 86th birthday. When I get any such appreciation, I turn it into imaginary flowers and bring them to my Teachers. Not I, not I, but Thou! But I have to confess that as I heaved my aching old body into bed, the cockles of my heart were very, very warm!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Healing the Negative Animus – CREDO LVI

As most of you know, Jung discerned that all individuals internalize their opposite gender: in men, he termed it the anima; in women, the animus. He started out by perceiving that men, when acting unconsciously, became moody and irrational and women became logical and commanding “know-it-alls,” which we can see reflected in the daily funny papers in the characters of “Peanuts”: Charlie Brown and Lucy!

Jung went on to point out that the male subsequently projects his ideal anima onto girls and women, and vice-versa, causing unpredictable results. He discovered this with a shock in his own personal life! This also explains how often women complain that their lovers and husbands don’t see them as they really are, and so transference in analysis often involves real love for the analyst, who appears interested in who they are and what goes on inside them,

Later these unconscious contra-sexual archetypal components acquired more differentiated characteristics. The negative animus is no Lucy but is the woman who has low self-esteem and interjects all criticisms and colludes secretly with them. Men, for generations have succeeded in keeping women in their “inferior” place. One early Church father went so far as to ask, “Habeat mulier animam?” Does a woman have a soul?

I thought I would share a few healing stories about this so-called “negative animus.” I will start with the negative aspect, as it is one I know full well from personal experience, as do many women of my generation which came before Gloria Steinem and the feminist movement. Incidentally, this crusade began with a collective animus that was angry and combative, almost masculine in voice.

My discovery concerning the negative animus was in the early seventies when I was practicing in New York. I have mentioned two of these women before, because of the synchronicities involved. Both had negatively inflated egos. One was suffering from what the Roman Catholics define as scrupulosity, which is sin-searching in oneself to such a degree that one considers oneself the absolutely worst specimen ever born! She is the woman to whom I quoted Jesus’ reprimand that if you have a light it is not right to hide it under a bushel basket, and, unbeknownst to me, she was looking over my shoulder at a stack of bushel baskets! We happened to be sitting in the basement of the analyst’s house. The other was the woman suffering from a similar complex to whom I quoted the lovely words of the Hindu Dadaji: God is making love in your heartbeat twenty-four hours a day, at which point the furnace went on and pumped throughout the remainder of the session and was recorded on the tape.

These two are examples of inflated negative animus, but here is one not as extreme: the client was a charming young woman in her twenties who was studying at the Union Theological Seminary. She was pretty, pink-cheeked, with golden ringlets. All she needed were wooden shoes and she would have been a classic young Dutch girl. She was a mite plump but not fat. Her problem: she considered herself so ugly that she was almost suicidal! Compared to me, she was a sylph! But her eyes filled with tears and she added a stream of other shortcomings. I was appalled by the history of family put-downs. I prayed for guidance and seeing in her a redeeming sense of humor, it occurred to me that a mantra might come in handy. I proposed to give her one.

She leaned forward eagerly, and I realized the strength of her projection onto me. It was as if she were thinking whatever this woman will tell me, I will apply.

“Well,” I said, “whenever you hear this critical voice within you, this is the mantra: ‘HEAH COMES DE JEDGE!!’”

This is a quote from a play about black people called Green Pastures and is a famous line I think Flip Wilson often quoted later on TV. I share this because I imagine many others besides myself could use this mantra!

I consider myself an expert at this problem, and what helped me most was my waking to my own stupidity in viewing Saturn in the chart as always that negative Critical Judge. The positive personification of his process is the Wise Old Man! I had been living most of my life with an animus Shadow that was like an ugly unloved homunculus locked up in the cellar of my unconscious. Whenever I would have some neat idea of something I could accomplish, he would pop up from below and tell me why I couldn’t do it! So the next time this happened, I shouted at him and said: “I know why I can’t but maybe you can tell me how I could!!

“Well,” says he, as my active imagination continued, “I’ve waited fifty years for you to say this! Now come along and I’ll show you how. You just need your ego to plug into your Self (Divine Guest) and Sophia will connect you.” The result, for better or worse, is most likely the eight books and these Credos that have come so late in my life. But those of you who have visited here may have noticed a stuffed puppet of a bearded dwarf who sits in my office with a pointed hat and a gleam in his eye. His name is Kazook and he came as a gift from a client shortly after I discovered the positive healing aspect of Saturn and my own negative animus. Of course, I still have attacks, but I do use that mantra!


Kindness – CREDO LV

How to love someone you don’t like!

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said, “My only religion is kindness.” I really like that. It is an expression of transpersonal love that anyone can practice because it is so simple and only requires the awareness of the Divine Guest (even if denied!) in somebody else. I notice it comes spontaneously in children. My 9-month-old great-granddaughter eats a cookie and holds it up gleefully to her mother holding her.

Not long ago, on my walk, the school bus stopped and seven-year-old Max got off holding a bunch of flowers for his mother, who was waiting for him. When he saw me, he ran and picked some buttercups by the roadside, which he gave me with shining eyes. I truly believe that kindness is built into our psyches until something inhibits it, like fear.

Today, especially, with so many predators abounding in the news we have to rob children and ourselves of innocent trust in strangers, so the following remarks need to be read with that in mind.

This is for us grown-ups. When we meet strangers, neighbors, or even relatives, most of us have a gut reaction that determines our ego response to the other. From a Jungian perspective, what we meet generally is the persona, the mask that we wear as our protection. Consider, as I had to, the grave solemnity of the funeral director, who came to discuss the preparations for the disposal of my darling husband in a special room at the hospital. He surely needs to remove that mask when he goes home to his family supper!

My teacher M told me the following story. He had a patient who came to him with severe depression. He was a small man, with tragic eyes. This was in New York and M tried to cheer him up. He recommended to the man to go to the circus that was performing at the Hippodrome and raved about the antics of the lead clown. The patient looked at him amazed. “I am that clown,” he said. “I know,” said M.

My own father, a Pisces, who had Jupiter conjunct his Ascendant (the persona in the chart) was one of the most successful international salesmen going, sincerely friendly and beloved by all the many people whose lives he touched. He was still hand addressing 2000 Xmas cards when he retired. What they didn’t see was the man who came home to my mother in the hotel rooms all over the world. As he had Saturn conjunct his Moon, all his pain and emotional suffering, was poured out onto her, awaiting her patient and consoling comfort, as I observed as a child but did not understand at the time. These are extreme examples.

The second encounter is with the ego of the other, and this is the level of friends and/or adversaries. As you read this, go back to a school your first day and how you felt about a teacher. If you disliked her, your psyche contracted like a camera lens, but if you felt you could trust her or him, that lens opened wide. More real learning could ensue. I had many teachers in many schools in several countries, and four of them changed my life. It was not what they said but who they were. Today, thanks to Bronson Alcott and Jung, I know the reason why. They were reaching out from Self to the Self in us. My defense as a young child was to be a rebellious brat but they saw through that and all my defenses melted. They taught me the love and magic of learning and how to find out. They treated me as a grownup. As Jung said, The unconscious psyche of the child is truly limitless in extent and of incalculable age.

I may have written of this example of kindness before but it is worth repeating. About fifteen years ago, my beloved husband and I were scheduled for a very early flight from Hartford, Connecticut, so we stayed overnight at the airport hotel. At about 5 a.m. we went to the breakfast room. It was a grey day and we were surrounded by sleepy disgruntled salesmen, each sitting at a plastic table on a cold floor. Silence reigned. But as each grabbed a briefcase and got up to pay the cashier, a small miracle would occur. The cashier, a grey-haired lady with a warm voice, would engage each man with a cheery bantering comment either about the weather or the prospect of a smooth flight or a question about the guy’s wellbeing. In a matter of minutes, she gave them their change and a friendly “Well bless you! Have a great trip!” or something similar. The man would smile at last and leave with a firmer step. I nudged Walter and we sat back and paid attention. When it was our turn to pay, Walter beamed at her and remarked that she brought the missing sunlight into the room. Her face lit up knowing that we recognized her intentions. I am still basking in the memory of her kindness.

The word courtesy comes from coeur, the French word for the heart, the source of both life and love. It’s not just a matter of good manners, it is an opportunity to really look and see the stranger and transmit a pook of Spirit! A recognition of the Divine Guest in others and a gratitude when it comes your way. It doesn’t cost a thing and you can’t buy it. On a grand scale, it is lying all around us in the freely given beauty of nature and the boy Max’s buttercups!


P.S.: The word “kind” comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word kinde meaning natural. Dame Kinde was their name for Mother Nature and our word “matter” comes from the Latin mater. It seems incredible that for 2000 years the sacredness of matter was considered a heresy by some Christian denominations! Pantheism today is fortunately slowly being superseded by panentheism – Spirit is in every thing. Every atom has a nucleus of divine energy.

Reality – CREDO LIV

Was it John Lennon who quipped, “Reality is what’s really going on while we are busy thinking it’s something else”? I can’t remember, but it seems a propos this frightening October of 2008. There is, it seems to me, another way of looking at it. Astrologically, the tension is between the outer trans-Saturnian planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, which means the impact is collective, global and of historic proportions. This hints that the real agenda might have to do with our collective consciousness.

When in doubt, go back to nature! The alchemist Agrippa wrote, Virtutes divinae in res diffusae, divine processes [powers] are diffused in things. I used to write this at the top of every blackboard at every lesson I gave. So, the reality of our global financial angst may, in a strange way, be alerting us to the necessity for a collective wake-up call to the awareness of the inner psychic reality of the following:

It takes a duality, the physical opposites of a father/mother, to combine to make a new life. When these unite a mysterious “pook” I will call the gift of Life, occurs and, in due time, we are delivered, taking our first breath. This proves to me that we do not create ourselves! Each of us comes into this world, an individual, naked, owning nothing, and for the rest of our lives dependent on others and the duality of the manifest world of nature. We are subject to time and space, breathing in and out, waking/sleeping, eating/pooping, night/day, and loving/hating and on and on. We acquire, use, and discard things, and lately, it seems, become greedy for more and more money, power, sex, and property – so much so that we go into karmic and financial debt to acquire them.

When my son, Timothy, was about fourteen, he substituted for me by baby-sitting a Jewish child one night. The parents kindly told him he could raid the kitchen if he wanted a snack. As he did so, his eye fell upon a leaflet from the service of the local synagogue. It contained a memorable story which he quoted to me the next morning:

A Rabbi congratulated a youth on his Bar Mitzvah and asked him what his plans were. The boy replied, “To finish school.” “Then what?” “College.” “Then what?” “A job, a car, maybe a wife ...” “Then what?” “Kids, a house, maybe a promotion.” “Then what?” “I guess, grandchildren, retirement, maybe Florida ...” “Then what?” asked the Rabbi. The boy began to squirm, “I guess I’ll kick the bucket!” “Ah so!” smiled the Rabbi, tapping his nose. “Is that all?”

This, in a nutshell, is the warning of an unconscious life lived in identification with one’s ego. It is like a horizontal life, interrupted only perhaps vertically by the religious rituals attending birth, adolescence, marriage, procreation, and death. Which if sketched out geometrically:


Baptism > Confirmation > Wedding > Procreation > Funeral

        Moon- ego

birth > puberty > reproduction > menarche > death

[n.b. The whole diagram fits into a circle symbolizing Spirit.] Jung’s ‘Self’ for me is analogous to the individual wick in a candle holding the flame of the Divine Guest common to us all.

A Tibetan lama pointed out the dreadful mistake the English language makes in making opposites of Life/Death. The true opposites are Birth and Death, and both of these are part of a greater LIFE.

If you notice from the diagram, the rituals invite the Sacred to participate in the Physical. At such times we may be caught up by the archetypal and moved to tears. And this actually can be done symbolically at any moment of our lives by making the sign of the cross, which esoterically means touching the Third Eye chakra n joining it to the Heart chakra and inviting Spirit to come into the horizontal of our bodies. In the Orient, they fold hands and tap the points in reverence. The great power of Islam is the daily practice of flexing the spine and the collective power of prayer in common five times a day. This is practiced only in Christian monasteries and convents today. Kneeling.

Back to the topic of Reality! Maybe the positive to be found in today’s crisis is a potential awakening of the Collective Consciousness of humanity that things get left behind at death but their hidden abstract meaning offers us a wealth of wisdom which we get to keep. Nature, and even cups and pencils and blocks and windowpanes, are mute teachers lying all around us, once we join the outer shell with its inner meaning! Having eyes, we do not see. The key is so simple – “Look with the eyes and see with the heart,” as Petrus Bonus, another alchemist, said was the secret to finding the Philosopher’s Stone. You turn nouns into verbs (processes). Ask an egg what it does! This is the gift of leading a symbolic life, which Jung implored us to do! In so doing, we glimpse the true Reality!

Take a moment. Stop reading. Look up and take in where you are, what you have in your possession or environment and realize that all the value lies in your projection upon it. You are making it conscious. As Jung mused, “How does the sofa get into my head?!

When my darling husband died, the shock for me was his toothbrush, his dressing gown, his pen on a letter on his desk. We leave every blessed thing behind! So now globally we are threatened by losing our money, our property, and all those physical things we craved and went into karmic debt for, while all the time nature’s wisdom lies neglected, abused, and unappreciated. Our focus has been totally misdirected. We have not realized that the reality we think is real is hiding the true Reality. “There is another world and it is hidden in this one!” So to live what Jung termed the Symbolic Life is to change the definition of a sacrament by one word – “A sacrament is an outer and living sign of an inner and spiritual meaning!” This is a ‘grace’ indeed but is clearer and takes it out of the various religious rituals that symbolize yet limit it from offering it to all of humanity willing to accept the free gift of Wisdom revealed in the manifest world. Nature doesn’t give a hoot if you are a Catholic or a Muslim, Hindu or even atheist! When I dreamt that Jung shouted, “Consider the obvious! I did!” it sure got me started.

May this be the collective gift hidden in all the current despair, fear, and suffering of so many, the world over. May we discover the Reality of loving one another and getting a kick out of simple things, like cracking the shell of a peanut ! Ha! Or why gifts are so often wrapped in something else ... even by us!

It’s what double-dipping of consciousness can do to cheer us up!