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Friday, August 28, 2009

The Consequence of Naming Things – CREDO LXXXIII

I once asked Dr. Edward Edinger, now the late great Jungian analyst, about projection, and he told me all consciousness is projection. This can be further differentiated by the fact that no two people see exactly the same thing because 1) all of us will process what we see, hear, and feel in different and individual ways, and 2) our charts are descriptions of the unique way each of us processes any experience. This is the miracle of unity and diversity, if you think about it. However, some of us are more conscious than others, and, of course, what we choose to be conscious of is greatly determined by our Unconscious!

A toddler learns by naming. So does a student of a foreign language. Naming unites an object with our consciousness. Consciousness, per se, words, and the human bicameral brain are all ruled by Gemini, whose symbol is the Roman numeral II. Words and names both separate and communicate. My brilliant British friend, author and spiritual being Timothy Freke, just discovered the names of Yuk and Yum!! They sound like Beejum Tibetan twins, but those words describe Jung’s projective “feeling function” in a nutshell. Brilliant!

The Chinese sage Lao Tzu (604 BC) wrote the following in his Tao te Ching, translated here by Witter Bynner:

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 into wonder
Existence opens.

So the concept of names, their differentiation, and consciousness is not exactly new. My hope is to point out that the things named also have a function for us! They are not just to be bought, sold, or possessed, they need to be listened to! They can be our teachers because they are manifest proofs of archetypal processes. The Emerald Tablet of Hermes gives us the words: “As above, so below . . .” so if we start with below and think symbolically we can unlock a wee bit of the above of that “heaven spread upon the earth that men do not see,” which the Gnostic Gospel according to Thomas refers to. The trick is to pay attention to what Jung implored us to do and wrote volumes about: to think symbolically and thus climb, step by step, to understanding and wisdom. Or as I have applied this, in what a zipper taught me!

This idea could help us, having eyes, actually not only to see the “heaven spread upon the earth” but might help transform our attitude to the material world that we are so busy consuming, abusing, and destroying! My whole preceding chapter of nonsense has this sense hidden in its nonsense because by naming a few objects, we were stumbling onto the realization that these objects had hidden gifts for us!

The alchemists knew this. Paracelsus taught it, and it was Agrippa who wrote, Virtutes divinae in res diffusae – divine powers are hidden in things! I used to write this on top of the blackboard at every lecture. The reference in the preceding CREDO to the same geometric spiral of the cowlick, the nautilus shell, and the spiral nebula are concrete proof of this – you cannot deny it! So Mother Nature, whose name mater hides in our word matter, is waiting through eons for us materialists to acquire fewer things and stop and learn from what we already have. This is Sophia’s game! Her delight! It is as if every thing is symbolized by wrapping paper. When you unwrap the gift, out comes a surprise! In short, there is a whole new way of applying “materialism.”

So how do we go about it? Stop reading and look for any object and say to yourself, “I know what you are, but what do you do??” Then listen.

This is the flowback of projection, which is active; now one is in a passive and receptive mode. The object can be a natural or a manufactured object, makes no difference. What you are doing is simply turning a noun into a verb. (The word noun comes from Latin nomen, the root of English name). A movie filmstrip is a sequence of “stills,” but when they move they tell a story . . . As the pre-Socratic Heraclitus wrote, panta rhea, everything flows. Nouns stop the flow. (Mercury, ruler of Gemini, as Trickster!)

One of my books, The Dove in the Stone, has the subtitle “Finding the Sacred in the Commonplace.” The title comes from a Hermetic treatise, because it was heresy for the alchemists to maintain that matter has spirit. The priest Matthew Fox was excommunicated from the Catholic Church, just a few decades ago, for saying the same thing! But the time has come for a whole new attitude toward the material world. If this idea can spread, this earth and we ourselves could live to see a whole new world.

Native people all around the globe know this instinctively but the so-called civilized world has forgotten or rejected their insight and continues to stress building an economy bent on getting and having more and more things instead of pausing to listen to them, to learn from, and appreciate the wisdom they conceal. From wonder into wonder existence opens!


P.S.: Lest I be accused of anthropomorphism, I am conscious of the playful projection, but when it comes down to it, it is the archetypal processes that I am honoring. I can see, however, how unconscious projection can lead to the making of idols. Quite a lesson!

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