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Friday, July 31, 2009

Words of Comfort – CREDO LXXVI

I came across a message I received some years ago and stuck in my Commonplace Book Vol.VIII. It is handwritten and I found it in the bottom of a desk drawer I was emptying. The words came today to comfort me yet again as I seem to be evaluating all my failures at the end of this life. And I think they are worth sharing because all of you who receive these CREDOS, I intuit, are trying to grow, to become wiser, better, and of greater service to others. It seems to be a message for any one of us who tries so hard! These are seeds that may not grow for a while if not needed, but just know that if you read this, you have them now in your Unconscious!

Here it is:
Stop preceding the Love of God
with your own self-judgment!
Accept the healing waters, let them flow crystal clear
as a freshet in the sunlight.
Release, release, release – know that
you are bathed in Love.
Accept this though it come to you
from strange directions and in strange ways
You are not alone.


Monday, July 20, 2009

The Catena Aurae: Teachers – CREDO LXXV

The Catena Aurae is the Golden Chain often referred to as the succession of Socrates-Plato-Aristotle-Alexander the Great, but it has other implications as well. In generation after generation there have been great Teachers, hidden and revealed, who have passed down esoteric truths for the enlightenment of those ready to learn from them.

The image of the chain links not only these great and wise masters in every culture throughout history but can also be applied to all those wise men and women who have influenced you and me, either formally or informally, in person or in print or any of the many new ways of communication. It is like a slowly moving river of invisible love offering itself to all that thirst.

We need to pause and reflect on the influence such may have had on our lives, to realize that each was born a child and had to grow up, often under difficult circumstances, and had to learn and realize and grow and benefit from learning the hard way. For this we need to be profoundly grateful; to pause and think how we, in turn, can pass on the good we have received.

When we think of teachers, our first thought goes to education and school. As I went to several different schools in different countries, I was exposed to a great many different teachers. I was blessed to encounter four great educators. They all had something in common and I will try to explain this in Jungian terms.

1) They taught not from ego to ego alone but from Self to the Self of the student! This means the basic difference between being an in-structor, one who builds in the structure of the pertinent discipline, and being an educator. This word comes from Lat. ex ducare, to lead forth, to make conscious the unconscious of the student. As I profited from this insight over the eighteen years I taught kids myself, I realized at the end I really had not taught them anything but perhaps had engineered a few attacks of insight – those magic words “Aha, I get it!”

This puts the words of Robert Browning’s poem to mind and might explain, by hindsight, M’s prescient mentioning of Browning to me on the first solitary encounter I had with him:

Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise
From outward things, whate'er you may believe.
There is an inmost centre in us all,
Where truth abides in fullness; and around,
Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
This perfect, clear perception – which is truth.
A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
Binds it, and makes all error: and to KNOW
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without.

2) By extension, of course, the Golden Chain involves more than one way of teaching, the most important aspect of all: teaching by example. Looking back 65 years to my spiritual Teacher M, he personified that. For all the years I knew him, I never saw him angry or depressed or careless. He had the knack of being totally present to each of us, of being kind and even fun. Yet there was always a transpersonal dignity and implicit knowing about him. A steady Light and source of Love.

In writing this, now that I am 86 years old, I realize how short I fall in living up to that example! I was 21 when I first met him, and looking back I realize the only gift I had to give him was my ability to make him laugh. As this was in the midst of WWII, he had few occasions for laughter but calling him fondly “Dr. Gumblegurk” helped. I think I was a granddaughter of sorts for him and there was that kind of love between us. He was the inspiration for Gezeebius in my The Beejum Book.

3) Just in terms of educating children, my greatest debt of all is to A. Bronson Alcott, whose two books I discovered – unread for over a hundred years – in the stacks of the Redwood Library in Newport, Rhode Island, and which 35 years later I managed to edit and republish in my book How Like an Angel Came I Down. He was the eccentric father of Louisa May and a Concord friend and conspirator of Emerson and Thoreau. He had the most compelling approach to the education of children and prefigured Jung in many ways in his belief that the psyche of a child is not a tabula rasa, an empty slate. In the appendix of my book, I give hands-on ways I implemented my own teaching of children in fifth, sixth, and especially ninth grades in private schools on Long Island. I am still in touch with some of them today! I feel I was repaying those four teachers I encountered during my rebellious childhood! Each of them saw through all that and summoned my Self, such as it was, and encouraged with trust, responsibility, and no nonsense affection. Many years later I wrote this poem:

The hell I knew had human eyes
angels that were demon wise.
Pain to beauty, beauty's pain
rounded wisdom round again.
Love came down in hate's disguise;
life it is that never dies;
Love it is that tries and tries.
Child and demon, demon's child,
innocent and running wild
stropped for seizing heaven's prize.
When hell is telling, heaven lies;
when hell is selling, heaven buys.
We struggle dreaming struggle's dreams
and reaching where our wisdom gleams,
the child within us cries and cries.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Voluntary Simplicity – CREDO LXXIV

My granddaughter Rowan gave me a copy of a workbook with the title above. It is extremely compelling, containing short articles by different authors and topics for discussion. I was especially struck by the following excerpts and think they are worth all of us considering, given the state of the planet.

Since 1957, the number of Americans who say they are “very happy” has declined slightly, from 35 to 30 percent. We are twice as rich and no happier. Meanwhile, the divorce rate has doubled, the teen suicide rate has more than doubled, and increasingly our teens and young adults are plagued by depression.

I have called this soaring wealth and shrinking spirit “the American paradox.” More than ever, we at the end of the last century were finding ourselves with big houses and broken homes, high income and low morale, secured rights and diminished civility. We were excelling at making a living but too often failing at making a life. We celebrated our prosperity but yearned for purpose. We cherished our freedoms but longed for connection. In an age of plenty, we were feeling spiritual hunger.
(David Myers)


Before you buy …
Ask yourself these questions:
• Do I really need it?
• What are ALL the costs over its lifetime?
• Can I afford it?
• Are the resources that go into it renewable?
• How long will it probably last?
• Is it recyclable?
• Do I have one already that could be fixed or repaired?
• How many hours or months will I have to work to pay for it?
• Am I prepared to maintain it for its entire lifetime?
• Is it worth it?

Avoid the Mall …
Go for a walk; talk with friends. Fact: There are more malls than high schools in America.

Become an advertising critic …
Don’t be sucked in by efforts to make you feel inadequate so you’ll buy more stuff you don’t need.

Splurge consciously …
A few luxuries can be delightful, and they don’t have to be expensive.

[Source: Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic by Wann, DeGraaaf and Naylor © 2001]

As a result, I am busy clearing my house of much stuff that is no longer being used but might be useful to someone else. This is not a noble gesture on my part but in truth a necessity, as I am old, handicapped, and with greatly diminished need for “stuff”! As I once remarked in my wiser teens: Virtue is really enlightened self-interest! A sensible observation, if I do say so, as it cleanses one of pride.

I will keep this short today because it recommends multum in parvum, or there is much to be found in little! Granted, on a national if not a global level, this points to a different economy, not one based on spending so much on acquiring material but in paying more attention to things that matter more. Note the word matter has more than one meaning! But that is another matter for a future Credo!