Sunday, December 19, 2010
As I have hinted before, archetypal processes are also hidden in physical objects, which suggests that looking at them symbolically can be positively illuminating (sic!). Nothing could be more apt therefore than a candle.
All the major religions have rituals connected to candles, so what is the reason?
(I suggest reading the following slowly and giving each line a chance for you to listen to your inner Self!)
Candles, like people, come in various, shapes, colors, and sizes. They all, however, have something in common: a central individual wick. (This wick can also be symbolic of Jung’s Self.) It is passive, until lit by a flame.
We have to light a candle! Invite Spirit . . .
The wick is at the center of every candle, regardless of shape.
When lit, the flame on every candle is the same flame. It is symbolic of Spirit.
The flame is fire, which links it to the Sun, the source of all Light, Heat, and Life. This fire is symbolic of the mystery many call God. And especially Love!
Transpersonal Love, or agape, is how we can express that “Vast Certainty” many call God. Every atom of manifestation contains that Light.
Darkness per se holds the Light, but cannot put it out.
A candle, therefore, is a symbol for the secret of what Love really is:
With a lit candle another can be lit many times.
Its Light helps us and others to see.
This flame has been handed down through cosmic time and space. It unites us to the bright starry universe. We do not know its origin.
The candle measures the fire safely. When fire is not controlled it is destructive.
The sun shines and does not count its rays. It needs darkness to be seen.
The sun shines. It didn’t have to!
Love is a mystery, shining through us not out of us.
The fires of hell are the flames of God’s Love rejected.
– Dorothy L. Sayers. (Oxford theologian and author)
So say a Blessing this holy Solstice Season and light your candle for the eventual true illumination of all humanity, for Peace, and for our understanding the preciousness of nature, and that we may increase our individual consciousness and spiritual awe of Love.
It is so simple to share. Even a kindly smile and wave will do! Kindness is the beginning.
Just remember this:
Love thy neighbor as thy Self for we both carry the same flame!
P.S.: Don’t forget the animals! Especially these days!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The first Sunday in Advent marks the beginning of the Christian year. The four Sundays in Advent always come around the time of the Solstice on December 21, and there is a reason why. The Solstice, an astronomical feature, falls on December 21, and marks the entrance of the Sun into the earth sign of Capricorn, ruled by Saturn and which gave rise to the riotous pagan Roman celebrations called the Saturnalia. So the early Christian fathers, therefore, chose December 25th not only to supplant the Romans’ but also the birth of Mithra, founder of a rival religion. What all of them celebrate really is the event called the Solstice. And the outer materialism manifest at this time really implies something far more significant. If you think about it, it is the culmination of nine months from the first sign of Aries and it takes usually nine months for the gestation and physical appearance of a baby!
But there is an emphasis on materialism as well, and I am certain that few of us have missed the incredible, almost exclusive, emphasis today in the media on the importance of material sales, profits, and competitions for every penny. Not a word about the Solstice let alone the symbolic spiritual implications involved, So it seems important for us to remember what the Solstice really is and to regain the symbolic import given it by all cultures in the Northern Hemisphere through thousands of years.
It marks the shortest darkest day in the year! This year it will be for those on EST at 6:39 pm. This marks the moment when the Sun appears to stop and move northward (Sol-stice is Latin for Sun-still), bringing Light and the promise, through the coldest months, that we are moving towards spring, Aries! Slowly, by increments of 2 to 3 minutes each day this is the message of hope that new life will bring the greening, blooming, and fertility of the earth again. All of this in reality is caused by the motion of our Earth as it orbits yearly the Sun.
The event is recognized consciously by all the religions and is spiritually celebrated by Christians as Christ’s Mass; by the Jews, as Hanukkah; by people of color as Kwanzaa; by the Norse as Yule; by the Hindus as Diwali. Moslems, Zoroastrians, and Orientals all recognize it, as did the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. Hope comes afresh with the return of Light.
It seems therefore, that we should and could lift our eyes from the bargains being touted everywhere, and realize the grandeur of our Solar System that, despite the never-ending wars and conflicts of humanity, continues to remind us that Light, Life, and Love are still there for us, and that there is a far deeper meaning to this recurring event. So maybe we could stop and remember that we have, like every candle, a center for Light in our hearts and like the wick, it carries the same flame of Spirit.
Thus, these four Sundays of Advent give us the time to appreciate the wonder that awaits us. Despite all our rushing around, it is comforting, unconscious or not, to know that this moment links us literally with the manifest depths of our Solar System, So Happy Solstice! It unites us all.
Monday, November 22, 2010
We tend to think of these two simple words as opposites but they are not. Why? Because there has to be a YES for a No to deny it!
This involves a paradoxical metaphysical question which I certainly cannot answer, but who among us can put out LIGHT? Genesis I raises the same question and offers an answer in the First Day of Creation, when God says, “Let there be Light!”
This Fiat! begs the question, and the ego simply cannot answer.
I probably have related the huge attack of insight I had sitting on the fire escape in Greenwich Village in New York, in 1945.
The Sun shines and it didn’t have to!
It still boggles my mind. It is the ultimate question: The source of existence itself, the primal YES!
You can see the idea in a poem I wrote: “The yes must come before a no sounds.”
The immensity of this is such, I have no further comment, only the desire to share the wonder!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I thought I had already written a Credo on this topic, but am unable to find it. As it is such a fun way to share some insights, here goes.
One day in meditation, I wondered about the antonym for the word symbolos, which means joining together, and in Grk. that would mean diabolos [!!] which means separating. And these two archetypal processes come together in the zipper!
The wee tab of my last Credo, the Transcendent Function, obviously has a Descendent Function, so it was time to reconsider the Zipper. And this is what I learned: it is the best example for Jungian symbolic understanding.
Ask yourself, what makes one out of two going up? And two out of one going down? A zipper.!So the wee tab is ruled by Mercury and going up, it becomes the psychopomp [love that word!], leader of souls, and the Trickster, or worse, going down.
Well, I shared this insight with my beloved Polar Bear, my husband, and from then on, he would gleefully put on his pants in the morning and shout “Symbolos!” and at night, with a wink, reverse the action and whisper “Diabolos!”So this soon became a part of my lectures and showed that Jungian psychology can be a source of humor as well as wisdom.
Now to be serious, Jung called this function the coincidentia oppositorum or the coming together of opposites of any kind, showing the psychological importance of keeping both our positive and negative emotions in full sight, rather than the usual Christian choice of owning the good and denying the bad. Then the negative is cast back into the Unconscious and gets projected out onto someone else! Collectively, the enemy. This insight of Jung’s is vitally important, and it is the energy then that fosters our individual spiritual growth or the ascent of the zipper. It implies a profound humility on the part of each of us to acknowledge that we are not perfect on the one hand nor hopeless cases on the other, as long as we maintain the balance. Duality rules our existence in this manifest world except at the miraculous apex of union or what I call the occasional pook of insight given when a lesson is learned.
I believe I have shared what happened to me when I smugly became conscious of some mistaken attitude – I learned to my dismay I could not claim it until I had applied it! Christ is described as wearing a “seamless garment” or a whole aura. That image translates into a sort of sheath that the rest of us have with holes in it – not spots – and so to become conscious of our lack we need to be wholly present in order to become holy! Ouch!
So the danger is inflation and the wise course is to assume that, okay, I filled that hole, where’s the next one? At 88 years of age, I am no longer able of committing grave active sins, but I know what it is to “sin” on the installment plan!
I honestly think that ‘sin’ is an outmoded word. I prefer this definition: A mistake is a loop in consciousness made to expose a greater surface to experience. [Sayings of Gezeebius] Or the image of a tree whose vertical ascent is dependent on horizontal branches which grow, thanks to leaves exposed to the sun, each leaf crying Aha! Aha!
As I am now a very oooold tree, I am dropping my fruit willy-nilly, always remembering:
What you would grasp
only those seeds that fall
As the archetypal processes work on all levels, I am going to show how simple some of Jung’s ideas can be explained by using simple things. So with apologies to those who already know, let me demonstrate the nature of the Transcendent Function.
Looking at the triangle above:
The base line can stand for the matter in question.
The side lines can represent any opposites: pro/con; conscious/unconscious, etc. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.
The apex represents the solution!
It is like the little tab on a zipper, as it pulls the opposite sides together, it acts as a sym-bolos (joining)
This is another proof that the archetypal processes can be found all around us hidden in things! The secret is to look at any physical object (noun) and turn it into a verb by asking it, “What do you do?” (verb). Then listen to what it reveals . . . !
Try this with a pen, or wrapping paper, a cup, or a candle!! This is a great secret! Nothing is hidden, we are blind! “Having eyes, you do not see,” as Christ remarked.
Have been ill, hence delay in CREDOS, but I did want to share this thought! Will be 88 on the 13th! but as mentioned before, got A+ in cackling lessons!
Monday, October 11, 2010
Angela Morgan was an obscure western American poet who lived from 1873 to 1957. She wrote a poem that made its way into an old collection of mystical poetry called Lyra Mystica, which I happen to own and to treasure. In it is this remarkable poem that expresses something I have written a whole book about—The Dove in the Stone: Finding the Sacred in the Commonplace. You can imagine the kinship I felt with the author as she so poignantly expresses the same idea. I truly believe this poem deserves recognition! I think you will agree.
I am aware,
As I go commonly sweeping the stair;
Doing my part of the every-day care—
Human and simple my lot and share—
I am aware of a marvelous thing;
Voices that murmur and ethers that ring
In the far stellar spaces where cherubim sing;
I am aware of the passion that pours
Down the channels of fire through Infinity’s doors;
Forces terrific with melody shod,
Music that mates with the pulses of God.
I am aware of the glory that runs
From the core of myself to the core of the suns,
Bound to the stars by invisible chains,
Blaze of eternity now in my veins,
Seeing the ruins of ethereal rains,
Here in the midst of the every-day air—
I am aware.
I am aware,
As I sit quietly here in my chair,
Sewing or reading or braiding my hair—
Human and simple my lot and my share—
I am aware of the systems that swing
Through the aisles of creation on heavenly wing,
I am aware of a marvelous thing,
Trail of the comets in furious flight,
Thunders of beauty that shatter the night,
Terrible triumph of pageants that march
To the trumpets of time through Eternity’s arch.
I am aware of the splendor that ties
All the things of the earth with the things of the skies,
Here in my body the heavenly heat,
Here in my flesh the melodious beat
Of the planets that circle Divinity’s feet.
As I silently sit here in my chair,
I am aware.
Monday, September 27, 2010
When I was a teenager, the summer I spent with my grandmother in La Jolla, California, I had an early intuition: Virtue is really enlightened insight! Many years later, after a not especially virtuous life, I began to see the profound wisdom of this. I had grown up with religious assumptions of sin, guilt, if not hell, and that being virtuous was a trade-in for Brownie Points to heaven. This was the standard cultural background for being “ “good.”
Today, almost 88, and a lot wiser, I have learned that if one takes the message on its own worth, eliminating all religious aspects, it becomes a matter simply of common sense. Cause and effect! If you lie, you won’t trust anybody. If you hate, you will make enemies. If you steal, you will fear loss, etc. On the other hand, as I have written elsewhere, “A mistake is a loop in consciousness made to expose a greater surface to experience.” A tree does not grow like a telephone pole; it needs leaves, which grow on branches. It’s as if each leaf, exposed to the Sun of wisdom, is an Aha! helping the tree of life to grow.
So the concept of virtue noted above has to be redefined. The word’s origin comes from vir, Lat. for man. According to the dictionary, Plato distinguished four cardinal virtues: prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice. Christians apparently termed these the “natural virtues” and added the supernatural, theological, or Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity, or virtues infused by God.
All of these smack of Pollyanna, and, as I suspect, Jung would point out, ignore the Shadow of the opposites in the unconscious. This very day, yet another spiritual “Bishop,” a pastor, with a congregation of 25,000, is accused of sexually deviate behavior on the sly. This is a common theme, alas, and from the sad tale of the Roman Catholic priests, it seems to be a warning to all of us. Christ gave it the term of being a “whited sepulcher.”
Perhaps, such religious leaders start out sincerely and, as the kundalini force starts rising, it gets stuck in the first two chakras, which rule sex. Come to think of it, there are plenty of such characters who misuse the third chakra of “power”! The Inquisition is a collective example of that: In trying to exorcize the “Devil” in sinners, the “Devil” entered them! There is a huge difference between good and “good”. . .
Jung put it in psychological language but pointed out essentially that trying to be too “good” is bad for you. So what are we to do!! Perhaps the answer is just to be kind. That word in Old English was kinde and Dame Kinde was Mother Nature! In short, be natural, humble, and thoughtful of others – no Brownie Point agenda.
Not namby-pamby, mind you. “Tough Love” can also be kindness. We need to remember the Milk Stool Principle” (CREDO XXXVIII), that trinity of Love, Wisdom, and Power. Power actually can be a force for good when guided by Love and Wisdom. Think of Jesus chasing the moneychangers out of the temple.
Astrologically, Taurus (money) and Scorpio (sex) are opposites, and Jung advises us to try to balance all opposites, positive and negative, consciously. If we don’t, the rejected one falls into the Unconscious and gets projected out onto someone or some collective group and causes havoc.
If you imagine that I know the answer to all this, think again! Honestly, I only can raise good questions. But here is a prayer:
O Holy Sophia, Holy Wisdom, Holy Joy
hidden for so long
come forth and reveal yourself in the world
and in our souls!
Help us to see with a loving eye
Help us to hear with inwit and intuition
Show us how to be natural and kind
Show us how to find ourselves in one another
Lead us from who we think we are
to who we really are
Let us learn from the flowers
that we need not strive so hard
Teach us to allow that Light from within
to unfold us as a gift like your Rose.
P.S.: I realize that I may have referred to some unfamiliar concepts and terminology in this Credo! Note the words and google them. You won’t be sorry! In his autobiography, Jung refers to his curiosity being the words Why? and How come? which led him from passive acceptance to positive understanding. And look at the results!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
It would seem that each of the three great religions of the Western World, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (in their historical order), have large groups of believers who believe that theirs is the "Only Way" to God or salvation. This has caused centuries of argument, wars, and persecutions. Each developed rules to be followed, guilts for not conforming, and threats. The problem is that the word "way" is always seen as a noun: a single road, a path. Yet, "the way" also has another meaning, as an adverb, or "how to", as in "This is the way to do it!" If you look at it that way, it opens the concept to as many people on earth who are interested in the actual meaning of life!
Furthermore, science tells us that every human being has a unique DNA, fingerprints, etc. Each individual reacts to life according to his own nature. Someone can give a lecture to a hundred people but it will be heard a hundred different ways. Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic philosopher of one-liners, put it this way: With our eyes open, we share the same world but with our eyes closed, each of us enters a private one. True.
Imagine a spiritual baseball park with an entrance for each religion the world over: we would have temples, synagogues, churches of all denominations with rituals and rules to go by. These could be considered exoteric or conventional forms of expression. So a devout Christian or Jew or Hindu could enter and, if truly successful, would exit into the park itself, where there are no divisions whatever! This is the esoteric surprise! Each of the great religions has this mystical dimension: the Jews, for instance, have the followers of the Baal Shem Tov, who, besides great love, had a great sense of humor. The Christians have the Mystics, including one of my favorites, the poet George Herbert; and the Muslims, the Sufis. Few realize that the most popular poet in the USA is Rumi, an irresistible Sufi, and there is also a humorous character who teaches wisdom called Mullah Nasruddin. There is a mystical dimension to Russian and Greek Orthodoxy, and in the East among Hindus, Budddhists, Taoists and followers of Zen, the characteristics are all kindness, love, and joy. Tolerance! In the Old Testament, Holy Wisdom, (Grk. Hagia Sophia) is described as "full of delight"!
This interfaith compassion is being expressed at the moment, in New York City by a Jewish mayor, a Moslem imam, and several Christians in the matter of the placing of a mosque two blocks away from the destroyed World Trade Center, a destruction instigated by a fanatic Muslim, Bin Laden.
By contrast, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is a joyful man, who says, "Really, my only religion is kindness."
Let's try that!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
We owe Martin Buber, the great Jewish theologian, philosopher and writer, an enormous collective debt! In those four short words, he has summed up the greatest problem of all relationships in the world and offers us the wiser choice.
Buber was a follower of Hasidism and, in fact, wrote about our mutual love, the Baal Shem Tov (see CREDO #117). He believed that you met the sacred in the commonplace and that we can meet the Divine hidden within ourselves and find it in others when you realize that, as I put it, the flame on every wick of Self is the same flame! I suspect that Buber was a joyous individual.
As I understand it, Hasidism in this country, several centuries after the Baal Shem Tov, has undergone a kind of enantiodromia, in that it now has very strict regulations for conforming.
Always remembering that the Latin for “I” is ego (!), it is easy to see how ubiquitous the I-It relationship is.
* It is the basis for all murder and wars of today.
* It is the basis in most business and educational relationships: customers, pupils.
* It is the basis in psychiatry and medicine, where patients are “cases” or even reduced to statistics.
* It is the way we perceive the living creatures we eat and animals in general.
* It is the way some of us regard people of other races or the poor.
* It is the attitude of the guy with the gun, thinking “Don’t take this personally, bang! you’re dead!”
Freud placed his patients on a couch. Jung did not. They sat face to face. For him it was always I – Thou, and he even spoke of the psychic space that two people generate, its content becoming the hidden third. Ego and ego meet and invite the recognition of the Spirit implied by the Self. It is as if we are all different lamps but the Light in each is the same Light.
Buber, like the Baal Shem Tov, knew the Joy of Wisdom and the Wisdom of Joy, that true religion was happy and full of delight and love, not just a preoccupation with endless study about definitions or raking one’s soul about guilt. I, for one, when I was eight years old, was indoctrinated with the latter issue in a so-called Christian school in San Remo, Italy, and I spent years feeling guilty. Even today I can feel guilty of not feeling guilty about something!
If you think about it, how careless are we in treating those who casually serve us as “its.” And, yet, each is a human being like yourself, easily comforted by being recognized as a “Thou”!
I may be repeating the story of the breakfast my beloved Walter and I had one early morning at a Hartford Airport hotel. I observed, as the tired salesmen and others went up to the middle-aged cashier, how she greeted each one, without fail, with a friendly comment and a big smile. There was a visible shift in attitude in the shoulders of each customer, as if a silent spark had been transmitted. When it was our turn to pay, I couldn’t resist commenting on my observation. She glowed almost mischievously at being found out! Yes, she admitted, it was her spiritual intent to recognize the human need for recognition. Today, twenty-five years later, I have not forgotten her. Martin Buber would have loved her.
Psychologically, I suppose, when we take the I-it stance, it comes from our unconscious need to feel superior or perhaps the fear that a stranger might otherwise take the Thou as a come-on, especially these days, But a quick smile can do.
As I am old and handicapped, I walk with two tall Scottish cromags (shepherd’s crooks), up our narrow dirt Hupi Road. I wave to each driver who passes, and most of them wave back or even stop to say hello. But a few summer people stare ahead and rush by. One knows right away that these are city people still encapsulated perhaps in the fear of any intimacy, though a crippled old lady shouldn’t really pose a threat! What they miss is that tiny spark transmitted by the briefest of I-Thou.
Theologically, it can be a moment of agape or transpersonal love, now celebrated in many Christian churches post-communion by greeting the ones standing close to you, a nice custom, that came much later in my experience.
It is summarized in Mother Teresa’s creed: I believe in person to person and that God is in everyone. In this Age of Aquarius, the person-to-person is in great danger of getting lost. Even this post is just words magically transmitted by technology!
Any road, as the Scots say.
I sign this
cyber-lovingly, and hope you get the “pook” I send trying to make it Martin Buber’s I-Thou!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
As a child, I grew up with the fictional Beejum “Wise Old Man” Gezeebius, so any pithy saying was called a “Saying of Gezeebius.” One of those that came down in my family, thanks to my parents who invented the Beejumstan that ended up in my The Beejum Book, was, “If you want to be rich, count your blessings! I find myself reminded of that every day, especially with all the distressing world news that threatens to submerge us daily. Thus it is, that though old, weak, in pain etc., I am gently brought back to being grateful by that Saying!
As I savored my porridge and coffee this morning, I realized again that the word gratitude comes from the Latin gratia, meaning grace. Now grace is one of those words with a double meaning; we receive grace when saying grace! Aha!
So, it is by appreciating the love, beauty, and bountiful goodness of our earth and its inhabitants that is out there for us that we receive their blessings. Just writing these words this day when the world news totally contradicts them, seems like a Pollyanna absurdity. The irony is that this rings so true in the prophetic words of the “Gnostic Gospel according to Thomas”: Heaven is spread out upon the earth but men do not see it. Words written almost two thousand years ago!
Thus it is, that I recommend to anyone reading these words to take a daily moment to be grateful for something, if only that one is alive and able, as Jung reminds us, to make it consciously conscious through our appreciation.
The importance of gratitude was brought to my attention decades ago by one of the men who, in my opinion, has been a humble saint among us: Brother David Steindl-Rast. A rare combination of a Benedictine monk and a Zen priest! An Austrian by birth, he is one of the most accomplished scholars, teachers, and writers I know of. And he walks his talk, year after year.Today, he has a beautiful website, www.gratefulness.org! I met him in 1972, when we were both lecturing at Wainwright House, and subsequently many times. He invited me to spend a week at the Monastery of St. Clare in Memphis, Tennessee, actually a convent of forward-looking nuns. They were studying the Gurdjieffian enneagram and I was invited to see if there was any connection to astrology!
The convent was a commodious building, and the nuns were delightful. We assembled and the Mother Superior spoke eloquently about the geometric figure of the enneagram which has nine points. Each marks a psychological type. For three days I struggled to find the connection to astrology, and then suddenly I had a breakthrough: it had to do solely with the Moon, which is associated with the Ego. Then it made sense. While it is far too complicated to explain in a CREDO, what I want to concentrate on is the importance Brother David gives to gratitude!
Gratitude itself is a receptive matter. For me, it shares the physical attributes of a cup or a bowl, which can be filled and poured out. “My cup runneth over”are words from the 23rd Psalm; these are words that contain the essence of gratitude!
But as a Scorpio, I realize that just as the Moon reflects both light and the lack of it, a bowl may be filled with anything: poison, filth, etc. but few of us would be grateful for such contents! Though, some bowls are essential even there! The lesson is that psychologically speaking, we are constantly filling and emptying the cups of our souls, and sometimes we can make a more conscious choice. I thought of this as I savored my morning coffee, and of the simplicity of being grateful for those blessings that we receive and usually take for granted.
One of the secrets, I discovered, is that when you invite your Divine Guest to partake of any moment, you never lose it! I first discovered this on a lonely one-track road on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. My car broke down in a howling storm of wind and rain. I was totally stuck! For almost two hours I watched the terror and beauty of the elements, the greys, browns, and livid greens out the window. Finally, I called on my – what turned out to be – Divine Guest and invited it to share the experience, thinking it was too extraordinary not to share with somebody! I cannot express the awareness of what that moment meant! Not only was I making it conscious, but just the invitation sealed it with gratitude for that first instant of realizing the purpose of consciousness itself! Time and space evaporate as I write these words. I am still in that car, the rain pounding on the roof, and I am in awe of the reality of Spirit. And, of course, to the rugged wet-locked guy in his bright yellow mackintosh, who discovered me, tied a rope between his truck and my car, and set off for a garage in Portree. What we didn’t realize was that his tail lights were not working! So I had to guess when he might stop and I might bang into him . . . I was a wreck when after miles of curving narrow roads we drew into the garage and I was able to totter out and ask for the loo!
But I know forever in this life, that if you want to be rich, count your blessings of any kind. This is the secret of gratitude!
Saturday, August 14, 2010
We all know that this is a geometric impossibility. Why? Because of the formula pi r squared. Pi never works out exactly. And yet on another level, 72 of us on Iona did it quite easily. And here is the story of how we did it:
Dr. William Tiller, a theoretical physics professor emeritus of Stanford University, discovered several decades ago that when two people hold hands, their biofeedback energy results are squared. So when ten hold hands in a circle, that energy would be a hundred. I would call that syntropy in opposition to the better known entropy. The interesting feature to this is that it requires human beings in accord with one another to be accomplished. And if this is indeed so, that energy can then be sent out to bless others, so there may be a way that we can help heal the world, and perhaps this is already happening in prayer groups around the world, unconscious of the physics!
It is the basis of the “silly” practice that I have indulged in called the yum-yum. As I did this in Dharmsala in India with over a hundred Tibetan orphans, who knew instantly how to do it, I can now call it an old Tibetan ritual! To those not yet familiar with this, it is a form of instant communion. People in a circle throw their heads back and cry an extended Y-U-M!! followed by putting their heads down and saying yum-yum-yum multiple times. This is done 3 times and then it’s” hugs to the left and hugs to the right”. I call this Instant Communion. Mother Teresa said, “I believe in person to person and that God is in everybody.” Well put! Most of us believe the second part more easily than the first, and it seems the yum-yum is a quick solution! Anyway, the custom, to my delight, is spreading and I recommend it to all groups. It always seems to end in laughter and affection.
Kindergarten teachers may have noticed that when kids play Ring-around-the Rosy, the energy of the group seems to level out, and the world over in Sufi dancing, Greek dancing, etc., etc., harmony is quickly established by holding hands in a circle. And if you add in Dr. Tiller’s explanation you can see the potential for syntropy in this suffering world. It’s worth a try and full of Sophia’s Delight.
If you think this sounds silly, it is! The origin of the word silly is the German selig, and, believe it or not, that word in German means holy!!
I cannot stress the value of etymology enough, the study of word origins! Oddly, both my friend the Jungian analyst Russell Lockhart and I came up with the idea that “Words are eggs,” meanings hatch out of them. He wrote a paper with that title, and Lonesome, the psychopomp rabbit in my The Beejum Book announced the same truth! So it pays to be silly. Seriously.
Nonsense can be a great teacher. Think of the courage of “Laughter in the void”!
Seriously, but always lovingly,
I have written recently in CREDO CV about the impact of Descartes’ philosophy in the late 1600s. The introduction of the Age of Reason put paid to the symbolic value of astrology. The result was that faith lost its proof and science its sense of the sacred, and it has taken several centuries to heal thanks to Jung and especially theoretical physics. The work of David Bohm, Rupert Sheldrake, Fritjof Capra, and Stanislav Grof come to mind. I have met or colectured with all except Bohm, though I attended one of his extraordinary lectures demonstrating the contrast between explicate and implicate order. I did, however, have a later conversation with him about Jung. Bohm was influenced by Krishnamurti. In his lecture he demonstrated with a large cylinder filled with a white liquid. When he rotated it in one direction, individual blue blobs appeared; when rotated in the other direction, they all vanished. Plicare means to fold. The implication (another plic!) being that the universe pulsates rhythmically over the centuries. All beyond yours truly, believe me!
In Paris at the time of Descartes there was even a symbolic enthronement of the Goddess of Reason in Notre Dame Cathedral. That legacy is still with us, with best-selling books touting atheism and the like. Psychologically, this is an enormous collective identification with the ego, center of consciousness, and an abysmal ignorance or denial of the Self, which, to be sure, Jung tells us dwells in the Unconscious and can only be accessed by the “heart.” The longest journey for most of us is the journey from the brain to the heart! Jung includes the spiritual dimension, the realm of the heart, in his psychology.
Astrology, thus, fell like a fallen woman to the streets and survived as fortune telling and had to wait really till the twentieth century to be rescued, a work that Jung, Dane Rudhyar, and Marc Edmund Jones (with whom I studied at the age of 22) as well as several others undertook. This led to astrology becoming my life’s work. I went on to develop it as an archetypal language of symbolic processes, taught at Jung Institutes, wrote two books on the subject, and lectured worldwide. For me the accurate chart will always offer a description of the way an individual is likely to process experience.
This revival started in the early years of the 1930s and by now, seventy years later, is firmly established and manifested in several professional societies, celebrated in annual conventions, and the source of many serious books. The popular version survives in newspaper horoscopes and a lot of other trivial publications. As I always say, we do not reject Shakespeare because some of the same words may appear on bubble gum wrappers or Chinese fortune cookies!
Personally, I credit Jung for having the enormous courage to study astrology and even place it in ancient history as the ur-mother of psychology! You cannot imagine the delight I had, after studying for years on my own and finding the mythological archetypes cognate with the planetary processes, in discovering that Jung had been doing the same decades before me! As the years have passed, and I am now in my late 80s, I realize more and more, the professional risk Jung took in not only pointing out the historic antiquity of astrology but also proposing its usefulness in psychology! Even today this notion is rejected by most of the other branches of professional psychiatry.
For me, this “cosmic science” reunites and heals the rational split that occurred four centuries ago. Richard Tarnas, whom I met at Esalen when I was teaching there, has written a vast scholarly tome of that title, which recently was awarded by the British as the best scientific book of the year! I cannot help but mention my efforts in the second section of The Heavens Declare, which is on the evolution of consciousness through the Astrological Ages, because it is backed up by archeological and mythological symbolism that is absolutely irrefutable.
The insights it provides are that the archetypal processes from the solar system to every manifest object in it are subject to the same invisible forces, and so eventually we may accept the idea that we live in a holographic unity. We can get an idea of this by changing an object from a noun – “pencil” – to a verb by asking it, “What do you do?” Communicate: a pencil communicates. This links it symbolically with the symbolic applications that are all the province of Mercury! So that pencil can be your teacher, and so can any humble thing your eye may fall upon. This is Sophia’s joke all right – truly nothing is hidden, we are blind. So when Jung shouted at me in that dream, “Consider the obvious! I did!” he gave me a huge hint! That many truths are simple, is a sort of revelation, is it not?
The world at present is seemingly in desperate straits, beset by all four elements: floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes, and now fire on a geographic scale in Russia that beggars description! The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? And yet according to TV news, the serious implications remain unmentioned. It’s “Death and Wheaties” for breakfast, all over again.
My only hope is in my teacher M’s advice years ago, back in the 1940s. He mentioned among many things:
2) The importance of 1 x 1 x 1= 1, implying that each individual’s consciousness mattered and that transpersonal love was a secret to progress.
3) That the dichotomy of priest/congregation, teacher/class would give away to circular groups, where, as the pre-Socratic Heraclitus said, “With our eyes open, we share the same world; with our eyes closed, each of us enters a private one”. Unity/Diversity.
4) That organized religions must give way to spiritual tolerance! Interfaith!
5) He even hinted at a European Union as a solution to international peace and a common currency . . .
Remember, I was in my early twenties at the time, so much of this I recorded without fully comprehending, and yet I can see now how much of it has come to pass.
To sum up: There is only One Way and it is not a noun, it is a VERB applying to each of us. We need a new commandment: “Love thy neighbors, they are thyself!
Forgive the repetition – each of us has a Self, an individual “wick,” but the flame on each is the same flame!!
What concerns me most, at present, is the oblivion of most of my fellow citizens – we seem to be unaware that we need to stop our endless pleasure seeking and realize that the situations globally are truly serious and that it is time for applying 1 x 1 x 1 x 1= ONE!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Some wise person remarked that there is another world and it’s hidden in this one! This is evident when strange synchronicities occur that seemingly break all the rules of chance. I will give three examples from my own life.
In 1964, we put our small development house in Westbury, Long Island, on the market and made the momentous and disastrous decision to move to Tucson, Arizona. Everything was packed into a truck, and I drove our station wagon hitched to a U-Haul. My son and husband were in the truck and my three daughters and our dog were in the car. I said good-bye to the house and got ready to climb into the car. As I rounded the trailer, there on our back bumper was my grandmother’s golden thimble, marked with her initials and birth date of 1854! We later returned to our empty house, broke and jobless, to start anew.
By 1972, I was divorced and lived now in a garage apartment in Glen Head. My oldest daughter, Abby, and family lived up the country road in a rented house. One afternoon she and her six-year-old son, Jamie, appeared at my home. They had walked across a field way back of my house. Jamie held out his hand and said, “Look, Gaga, what I found!” He opened his hand and in it lay seven old Chinese coins! Those brass ones with a square hole in them.
It so happened that I had long wished for them when consulting my copy of the I Ching. (I had been using three silver quarters.) Well, that was just the beginning. Eight years later, I was to lecture at the Jung Institute of Los Angeles. I had met Walter Andersen on the ship traveling the Mediterranean, and he had invited me to stay with him. As I carried my I Ching and the coins with me, I decided to introduce the oracle to him. I explained that he was to think of a question silently, then toss three coins six times, noting the sequence of heads and tails, and then look up the relevant hexagram in the book. He did as he was told, and when he looked up the advice, he burst out laughing! So now he could share the answer to his question. It was “Marry the maiden!” and so he proposed, and, sharing a hug and a kiss, he then 68 and I at 57 became engaged and were married that same October 25th!
By 1998, I had suffered a debilitating stroke the previous winter, and my darling husband had died on April 1st. Yet, I was to conduct another seminar on the Scottish Isle of Iona. I had been there already 22 times. I left New York in a wheelchair at the airport, kindly propelled by my co-traveling friend, Edith Spenser, but gradually got to walking with my staff Woodstock, very slowly yet gratefully on Iona. The weeklong seminar successfully concluded, Edith and I spent a few days in Oban before flying home. It was always my custom to do last minute shopping in the town of Oban, across the bay from Mull, and this time I had my heart set on buying a white cable knit woolen Aran hat. Each day, we managed to walk a little further down the main street, entering the shops. As it was September by then, no luck! The last day, we managed to get to Mactavish, my favorite restaurant, for a quick lunch, and thus fortified, I suggested that we walk back along the parallel waterfront for a change. So I hobbled around the corner and started back to the hotel. Now, in Oban, wherever there is a street corner, short ornamental green stanchions mark both sides. At the second set, there, on top of one of them, was a white hand knit Aran hat!! Without any hesitation, I knew it was mine for the taking, so I took it and have it yet fondly in my closet awaiting another winter! So, I call such events Sophia’s Winks, because when they happen it is as if at that moment the world perceived by the Ego at the circumference and the Self at the centerpoint of the mandala of the psyche flash as one in a our consciousness and remind us to keep going. They tell us we are on the right track, despite all our challenges and concerns.
At our last monthly Prayer Breakfast, we shared how these unexpected events happen in all our lives and perhaps, indeed, can be called Winks of Sophia or Holy Wisdom encouraging us to persevere. In every case, it seems, there is an element of delight involved.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I was given a copy of Deborah Crombie’s book A Finer End, a detective story set in Glastonbury, which sparked the memory of this little-known bit of history. So I decided to share it!
In 1945, I happened to go into a bookstore in New York City and found a pamphlet on Glastonbury by a woman called K. E. Maltwood. In it, she described how in 1922 she had climbed the Tor and gone into an altered state and saw the zodiac hidden in the earth of Glastonbury. She managed to fly in a plane and took a picture of the area and, sure enough, found evidence that she was right. What she had discovered was that King Arthur’s Roundtable was actually the name for a complete zodiac represented by twelve figures outlined in the earth! The only exception was the substitution of a dog for the crab of Cancer. Dogs, however, are ruled by Cancer. Somewhere, I hope, in this house, I still have that pamphlet. The place itself dates back to 3000 B.C. but I have no date for the zodiac, which one presumes may go back to the time of the legendary King Arthur.
As the years passed, I further discovered that John Dee, astrologer, mystic, and alchemist to Queen Elizabeth I, had a fellow initiate confide in him that King Arthur’s Roundtable was hidden in the earth of Glastonbury!
In the 1980s, when I was at Oxford, I went into the famous bookstore Blackwell’s, one of my favorites, and lo and behold, on the bottom shelf of one of the stacks were two large yellow paperbacks on this very subject complete with maps and further evidence: graphics with outlines and further geometric wonders included, put out by R.I.L.K.O. [Research Into Lost Knowledge Organization]! Here in these books lies the proof.
Needless to say, I have visited Glastonbury several times and stood in the middle of that very zodiac. I have also visited the Chalice Well and drunk from its waters, and climbed the Tor where there are two famous old oak trees, Gog and Magog.
As I recall, the legend is that the biblical Joseph of Arimethia, a follower of Christ, traveled to Britain and to Glastonbury and placed a thorn staff in the earth, which blossomed on Christmas Day, I think, with white roses. There is no question in my mind whatsoever that Glastonbury is a power point and has drawn pilgrims to it over the centuries. It is not far from Stonehenge and Avebury, another Somerset center for standing stones, so the chances are that this has been a magical area ever since prehistoric times. As I understand it, it is now a site for crowds of young people who gather there for Glastonbury Fayre at the time of the summer solstice.
The great ruins of the Glastonbury Abbey still stand in mute testimony to an ongoing mystery. Before Ms. Maltwood, a man called Frederick Bligh Bond also had a mystical vision of what the monks at the Abbey were all about.
Nearby is another beautiful, still standing cathedral at Wells. The steps going up to its entrance show the wear of countless pilgrims and the sense of beauty and spiritual peace of Wells Cathedral is something never ever to be forgotten.
On a winter trip in the 1970s that I took alone, I stopped at a medieval inn. I was the only guest, and the landlord informed me that he would lock up and return in the morning; thus I found myself totally alone in this ancient inn. I confess, I slept very fitfully and woke in the night feeling both apprehensive and wary of every possible sound, but I met no apparitions. Still, it is a night I will never forget.
In my family tree, a number of my ancestors came from these regions, and I highly recommend the Salisbury area as a fascinating place to visit. P.S.: I do not know if R.I.L.K.O. is still doing research, but thanks to them there is now much more familiarity with such matters as ley lines connecting holy sites, standing stones marking places where they meet, etc. It seems the more we unearth about the ancient history of Britain, the more amazing discoveries we make. Here is a copy of a letter from Mrs. Maltwood, forwarded to my mother.
Copy: The Thatch, Royal Oak, Vancouver Island, B.C. [undated, presumably before 1976]
Dear Mr. Manley,
Many thanks for your interesting letter with these enclosures. You are very kind to tell me about the Orcutts.
If you are seeing them again, their daughter [Alice] might be glad to see the enclosed about my Guide, as it fits onto Philips Planesphere, from which I took it by pricking the stars through, onto the map of the effigies [the figures outlined in the earth]. If you hold it up against the light, you can see that the effigies were designed in each case to incorporate the constellations through which the sun rides.
I am sure you must have been hard-put to it, to answer some of her questions! Please let me know if I can help. I should be only too pleased to render assistance. The clipping from the local paper is well expressed. I am glad to have it.
With the Season’s greetings and best thanks,
K. E. Maltwood
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Theologically speaking, hell seems to be a nightmare place decorated with every form of torture; Dante’s Inferno is the best travel guide. The Church for centuries has depicted it graphically and symbolically as a place no one would choose to go to, and so sticking to the rules and conforming strictly and consciously keeps society in order. Psychologically, there is a trap however, because we end up judging ourselves and others, and unconsciously this results in our projecting our Shadow on others, both personally and collectively, perhaps forgetting what even the Bible cautions: Judgment is mine saith the Lord!
Now, along comes Dorothy L. Sayers, the British detective story writer, a member of the Oxford “Inklings,” and also, believe it or not, a serious theologian! She happens, in my estimation, to have written one of the wisest things I ever read! It has to do with hell.
The fires of hell are the flames of God’s Love rejected!
The wisdom of that statement rings true, and it heals the split between good and bad and places us back where we truly belong. In my first Credo, I express my dislike of the various names we give to the Mystery and offer an expression used by my grandfather Basil King in one of his brief novels, In Abraham’s Bosom. In it a character speaks of “a Vast Certainty!” and ever since I came across it, it is what I consciously term the Mystery. “The Tao that can be defined is not the Tao,” and since our egos function through duality, we cannot define God! So we either humbly accept or reject that “Vast Certainty.” And that, as I come close to stepping out of my mortality in this life in my 88th year, is what I have come to. But Sayers’ words are worth considering. I truly needed to share this before I depart!
It requires no definition but also no doubt! It works for all creation and every religion and every person. It is what Jung meant when he said, “I do not believe . . . I know!”
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
If you look up the Baal Shem Tov in any current reference book you get volumes of serious information, so go ahead, but you won’t get that from me! Not a one mentions the joyful, humorous, and wise Jewish saint that he was. My love for him is intense because he exemplified the Joy of Wisdom and the Wisdom of Joy, the title of many lectures and seminars I used to give. Religions generally take themselves so seriously or theologically that they totally forget that description of Holy Wisdom in the Old Testament. Let me quote from the British Jungian analyst Alan McGlashan’s book The Savage and Beautiful Country. I met him when he spoke at the Jung Foundation in New York and again when I lectured to the Jungians in London. He was a love.
Delight is a secret . . . delight has a glancing, dancing, penetrative quality, the quality of Sophia, the consort of God, as when she sings –
“From the beginning I was with Him
forming all things: And was delighted every day
playing before Him at all times: Playing in the world;
and my delights were to be with the children of men.”
Playing in the world! That is what Wisdom does. And this is what those sad, resigned ones . . . the will-driven, over masculinized betrayers of life miss.
Delight is a mystery. And the mystery is this: to plunge boldly into the brilliance and immediacy of living, at the same time as utterly surrendering to that which lies beyond space and time; to see life translucently.
To which, I can add my own delight in finding in Skeats’ An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, the following : Silly, adj. simple, harmless, foolish . . . allied to O. Lat. salvus, whole, complete, safe. The German cognate is selig which means holy, sacred.
In the biography of the Baal Shem Tov (Master of the Good Name) called Nine Gates by Juri Langer, he was born in Okup in 1689 in the disputed territory of what probably is today Ukraine. Whatever. When he was young, he observed his fellow Jews all spending hours poring intellectually over the Talmud, when he had an epiphany! God was not to be understood as a concept but in the delightful reality of the experience of nature, of beauty, and joy. So he literally began to dance and worship with a strong sense of humor and delight. He became the archetype of the Jewish comedian ever since, but always with a twist of holy wisdom. Here are some of my favorite anecdotes:
He was always concerned about those in poverty, so one evening he approached some drunken Cossacks in a tavern begging some money to help them. They responded by ridiculing him and throwing him to the floor. He picked himself up and said, “Well, that was for me. Now, what have you got for the poor?” The Cossacks enjoyed the joke so much, they emptied their pockets and hailed him out the door.
Another tale concerns a beggar coming to the door of his home, but he had no money to give him. So he went into his bedroom and took a necklace of his wife and gave it to the startled beggar, just as Channa discovered what her husband had done. She had a fit! So the good man ran to the door and yelled to the departing beggar: “Guess what? It is very valuable – see that you get a good price for it!”
My favorite though is this account: By now, he was well known in the district. He went to a neighboring town and a large crowd was waiting for someone. When he asked about it, he was told a holy man. Greatly excited, he joined the crowd, looking this way and that, shouting “Guess what? A holy man is coming! A holy man is coming!”
His followers started what today is known as the Hasidic tradition, but as Emerson once pointed out, most institutions are the extended shadow of one person, and today, as I understand it, the Hasidim are bound by more rules and regulations than any of the others.
Islam has an equivalent legendary saintly humorist in Mullah Nasruddin, whose delightful teachings have been gathered by Idries Shah. Mullah lived in Turkey in the eleventh century and taught at the time of William the Conqueror.
The Celts defined the goddess Brid as the goddess ruling wisdom, weaving flax, and laughter!
The ancient Greeks gave us the twin masks of Tragedy and Comedy, and their ancient plays reflected this.
Physically, I understand that the synapses (?) in the brain governing laughter and tears are so close that sometimes we laugh so hard, we shed tears.
Shakespeare seems to have understood this because in almost every tragedy he wrote, there is at least some delightful and humrous relief.
The archetype of the Holy Fool is still with us reminding us of the necessity of loving humility and the courage of “laughter in the void”. It seems that laughter is a human attribute and actually a key to peace, if you think about it.
We are living in one of the most tragic challenging circumstances on our planet. It is hard, if not impossible, to see any humor in it. Yet, humor endures and we need its balance. I am reminded of the man on the sinking Titanic calling out: “Anyone want to buy a watch?” And nature quietly spreads its delights everywhere, especially in the miraculous beauty of flowers. The Gnostic Gospel according to Thomas tells us that “Heaven is spread upon the earth but men do not see it.”
Surely this points to the mystics telling us something that Jung always reminds us of: serious groups are a good beginning, but the joy and delight of individuation happens to us one at a time. Christ reminds us that we have to become as little children to enter the kingdom of heaven.
It seems that like popcorn, once you’ve popped, you are transformed!
Saturday, July 10, 2010
I learned some interesting techniques that my mother taught me and even more from my own children as parents. I think they are worth sharing with others.
• When I had a two-year-old tantrum, my mother would simply drag me in front of a full-length mirror and hold me there. Eventually my fury would turn to giggles and the tantrum was over!
• When I dawdled about getting ready to leave, she would taunt me saying, “Of course, you can’t pack your own suitcase, etc.” I showed her!
• When she thought I would enjoy a book, I would usually demur, so she would hide it and let me discover it.
• When I was six in Paris, I was impossible. Mother would stop and ask, “Now, if you were the mother and had a child like yourself, how would you handle her?” Immediately, I would be intrigued and stop and give her an extremely sensible solution! (I found this account in a letter she wrote to my uncle!)
From my son and daughter, I learned how to take a lifetime of guilt complexes placed on so many children who are told how naughty or bad they are. Switching to a neutral position, one simply says:
• That’s a no! Or if they want to do something inappropriate,
• That’s not going to happen.
• Praise and recognition of achievement. For the very wee ones, just clap hands! They usually join in.
• Oops! is a very convenient expression . . .
Friday, July 9, 2010
I woke up in the middle of last night realizing I had made public the name of my dear, now departed friend Brewster in my last Credo, leaving him all those years ago in Dadaji’s corridor. I had named him only to honor him with the gratitude I have never ceased to feel. So now I want to follow up with what happened to him.
Briefly summarized, in time, he met and married a most lovely woman, Sandra, who had analyzed with Dr, Edinger. Their courtship flourished close by to me, and in the end, he was restored to a finer, deeper, and wiser man. He became a much loved and respected rector of a church, not far from the Berkshires, in neighboring New York State. He continued helping others with Jungian therapy, founded an organization that sponsored lectures and workshops, and grew into the wonderful person he was meant to be, aided actively by the warmth and intelligence of his wife Sandra.
The point that I am trying to make is one that both Jung and Edinger have written about: that to become a complete person, we need experience, and only then can we be of help and service to others, because it takes one to know one. Sometimes it is called “the Night Sea Journey.” It was the underlying premise of Bill, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, who was influenced by Jung. It is the biblical motif of Job in the Old Testament, about which Jung wrote so eloquently, and again the ultimate myth of Chiron in Greek mythology.
I am certain that many of you who read these Credos are familiar with the stages of suffering every one of us has to go through, and I share this notion to help anyone still in the process. The best counselor is the one who has walked the talk. Suffered and not succumbed or lost faith! And sometimes the pain is excruciating! I know this for a fact.
No one can help others truly by reading a textbook about how to become a psychologist. Or just passing tests on statistics. Wisdom involves becoming truly human and ultimately finding refuge and comfort in the discovery of the spiritual dimension of true healing, namely Love.
The Jewish philosopher defined it in a nutshell: Is the relationship “I-it or I-thou”? Jung stressed the importance of the latter and likened true therapy to the odd alchemical model of the lovers enclosed in a vessel or bottle! If the coniunctio is kept safe in the vessel, it is a sacred encounter, but the minute the vessel is broken it falls down into the duality of everyday life and the results are all too familiar!
When I was young and eager, I studied and read and read, and I remember my chagrin when my Teacher M shook his head and said I would not find what I was looking for by just reading, I realized that unconsciously what I termed the pook! was missing – in other words , the aha! that comes from the Divine Guest.
The proof of this surely lies with the wisdom of native “illiterate” people all over the world who are spiritually far more advanced than we are! They are the ones who learn from the greatest teacher of all – Mother Nature, Dame Kinde, Hagia Sophia.
In conclusion, I want to reiterate the model that Brewster provides us and the important role of the strong loving presence of the feminine that Sandra played and still does.
In my generation, it was an enormous matter to have a man be interested in one’s soul! So the projection onto the therapist was often a given and hard for a man not to be charmed by, thus falling into inflation and the breaking of the vessel. Ultimately, the best healing comes from the other simply holding up a mirror, which reminds me of my own mother, who, when I was having a tantrum as a two-year old, would drag me screaming in front of a long mirror and force me to watch myself! I usually, as I remember, ended up giggling.
So here’s to the Wounded Healers of the world and a salute of gratitude to my dear friend and psychopomp Brewster!
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
We met him in Ventura, California, in 1982. He was the most exceptional Hindu I ever met, and you will just have to take my word for the incredible feats I am about to relate. There was a meeting of Indians in a private home. There were only four Caucasians present. We sat in a ring and he gave a lecture. He didn’t sound very special, just a dark, wavy-headed man, but as we bid him good night, he drew me down and whispered, “Come back tomorrow morning early.” So, I did. He drew me into a private room, and we had a spiritual conversation. It was as if we were continuing where we left off the last time. Then he asked me if I would like to know the name of God? I was to move to another room.
This room turned out to be the host’s baby’s nursery. Besides the crib, Dadaji had a small altar with flowers, fruit, a small oil lamp, and a few small ornamental bronze deities. I sat in a chair; he chanted a prayer, then took a small piece of paper and wrote a name on it in red ink. When he handed it to me and I unfolded it, it was totally blank! He smiled. Hypnosis?
Then he instructed me to return that evening with my husband. Each of us was to bring a simple sealed jar of water. The trip to and fro was about 30 miles, each way, but I agreed. Accordingly, I filled an empty mayonnaise jar and another, and we returned.
This time, the same group was gathered, and we were summoned in, one at a time. The rest of us meditated silently. When Walter returned, he looked amazed, but I was immediately next. This time, Dadaji was seated in a dark room lit by a few candles. Another low altar was in front of him with flowers and fruit. He smiled radiantly and asked for my jar. I handed it to him, determined to watch closely, which I did. To my astonishment, he took the jar, and prayed over it, and without opening it, it started to sweat water on the outside as he rubbed it! Then with a beatific smile he handed it to me, blessed me, and indicated I was to leave.
When I returned to the group, we sat again quietly. The Indian next to Walter whispered, “Open it!” When Walter opened his jar, a beautiful fragrance wafted out. When I opened mine, another fragrance, but it was different! When we came home and opened them again, the fragrances were still there, and we had been told it was safe to sip. I could not help but think of Jesus and his changing the water to wine at the wedding in Cana. This was still possible!
We soon became good friends and attended informal gatherings, only to discover how loving and humorous he was. He showered us with his books, which I still have. Also a printed portrait, framed. He was reluctant on one occasion to have his photo taken. At last, he relented, but when the film was developed it turned out to be that of a holy man with a beard! In India, he ran a small toy store! He was married. His real name was Roy Chauderi. He lived the life of a simple householder, but once a year there would be a special ceremony where, in the presence of hundreds, he would transform milk into an edible substance. Though I went to India twice, I never made it to Calcutta.
However, he came to the East Coast to Connecticut, and we were invited to visit several times. There he would have an audience, one on one. Brewster, a Jungian analyst and Episcopal priest, and the very one to invite me to lecture at the Jung Foundation in New York, thereby changing the course of my entire future, came to see Dadaji. He had been through hell, lost 40 lbs, and was at the lowest point in his life. He had been kicked out of his professional position, having been publicly accused by his angry significant other of sleeping with one of his patients. Not quite true, as she had quit before this happened, but true enough. So he arrived a broken man and went in to see Dadaji. When he came out, his blue denim shirt was soaked in front and the fragrance was overwhelming! Apparently, Dadaji had stroked the front of it and the fragrance came out of his hands like oil. In India, this is called Padmagandi, and other gifted gurus have the same gift.
As I had been a friend of both Brewster and his angry partner, I urged her to visit Dadaji. When she walked down his corridor, he waved and ordered her to stop. He told her she might return in a couple of years, but he could not see her that day. I had said nothing to Dadaji about the situation of either one of them.
Walter, who was a Reiki practitioner, had compassion for Dadaji, who was clearly exhausted, so Dadaji agreed to let Walter treat him. It helped enormously, and so the two men became dear friends. We were invited several times to visit and had the pleasure of meeting his wife.
Needless to say, this encounter forced me to rearrange much of my opinionated mental furniture! I am by nature a skeptical Scorpio, but I now have a true Saying of Gezeebius: Always keep an open mind and a good crap detector! This has served me well and, by now, you should know that what I have written here was truly witnessed by me. He was an extraordinary human being, and his teachings were wise and loving. I still hear his laughter and feel the warmth of his hugs. Though he is no longer in the flesh, his spirit, love, and teachings continue. He is the one who called himself an anti-guru guru! He told me that everyone has the same access to the Truth; the only problem is that we are unconscious of it, so time is kind by coming in minutes, hours, and days as we live to say aha! In that way, Jung is saying exactly same thing: the Self knows but it dwells in the Unconscious! As you know, by now, I think of this as a candle. Everyone has an individual wick but the flame on every wick is the same flame!
Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise
From outward things, whate’er you may believe.
There is an inmost center 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 splendor may escape,
Than in effecting an entry for a light
Supposed to be without.
– Robert Browning (1812–1889), from Paracelsus
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Here are three true stories that bring a smile whenever I think of them.
Years ago, my father, who was the International VP for The Mergenthaler Linotype Company, received a telegram from a prospective client in Bucharest, Romania. He had obviously consulted a dictionary!
DEAR MR ORCUTT I AM SO LOOKING FORWARD TO HAVING INTERCOURSE WITH YOU IN THE TWILIGHT OF JUNE 25 STOP SINCERELY YOURS . . .
When I was nine, we were staying at the best hotel in Oslo, Norway. I was to take a nap. My mother, who apparently didn’t quite trust me, chose to check on me by bending over outside my bedroom door and peeking through the keyhole . . . just as the manager turned the corner showing some prospective guests to their own room further down! (Serves her right, sez I!)
I am in the process at the moment, of clearing out my files in preparation for bestowing my papers to the Sophia Collection of Smith College on the occasion of my Aberduffy Day (death). Two days ago, I came across a letter describing my arrival at JFK from a trip to Ireland in 1980 with Mary Andersen, my soon-to-be daughter-in-law, and my nine-year-old grandson, Jamie Samuels. As you may remember from a previous Credo “Naming,” it was a family necessity to give names to our luggage, as my parents and I traveled and separated so frequently, they needed a convenient way to identify luggage.
Mary had taken off on this trip with a drab grey suitcase that looked as if it had taken vows of poverty – so I named it “Mother Teresa.” Mary explained she did this intentionally because no one would want to steal it. However, once in Ireland, she stocked up on Irish goodies and had to buy a bright red suitcase.
When we arrived, the crowded plane disgorged our luggage on three different carousels so the three of us each monitored one of them. Jamie got quite excited, and he shouted “I found Mother Teresa but the Cardinal hasn’t come!” Standing, right behind me, so help me, were two priests and a nun!! They got all excited as well, craning their necks at the prospect of such distinguished passengers! Needless to say, I didn’t have the heart to explain the matter further!
Monday, June 21, 2010
I can think of two teaching stories that involve light being lit in the daytime, and they are poles apart. The first concerns a Sufi saint called Rabia who lived in Basra, in Persia (now Iraq), in the late eighth century. She is reputed to have run through the streets carrying a flaming torch in one hand and a pitcher of water in the other. When asked about this crazy behavior, she cried out, “With this flame I want to burn up heaven and with this water I want to quench the fires of hell so that neither ambition nor fear keeps us from loving God for Himself!”
The second tale concerns Diogenes of Sinope, the very astute but eccentric ancient Greek who lived during the fourth century BC. He is the one who walked the streets of Athens carrying a lit lantern. When challenged for his nutty action, he retorted, “Not at all, I am simply looking throughout this city for an honest man!”
It seems to me, that we should take up a national collection for a statue of Diogenes to be fashioned and placed prominently in front of Congress in Washington, DC! It could remind not only our government but each of us citizens, of every age in life, of the importance of honesty and integrity.
We fail to realize the consequences of our negative actions. The liar and the cheat end up trusting no one; the thief swaps stolen goods for the constant fear of being caught. Put bluntly, if one can put the question of “morality” aside: virtue is truly only enlightened self-interest!
This logical approach is the basic notion of karma or cause and effect, but we have, over the centuries, put lack of integrity under the concepts of sin and guilt and religious ideas of divine wrathful if not human punishment. It just seems to me, that a new approach in education might prove helpful. That way, we could get on with the spiritual fulfillment of loving our neighbor because he “is thyself” and concentrating on saving our planetary home, the earth, and respecting animals not just as objects for monetary greed alone but as the living miracle each one truly is. In some ways perhaps, the Internet seems to be pointing in the direction that everybody is everybody!
Lest this seem idealistic nonsense, we could learn from the practical pygmies in Africa – some of them are said to hunt and kill for food, but offer up a prayer for each victim in gratitude and ask that it return to the “group soul” from which it came.
Rupert Sheldrake, scientist and spiritual individual who studied with Bede Griffiths in his ashram in India, is the author of Morphic Resonance. I was blessed in meeting both at the International Transpersonal Conference in Bombay. The basic premise is that when a group of animals reaches a certain collective number, it can simultaneously change its behavior as a group. This opens a new concept of evolution, and includes us as animals. A popular rendition is the story of the Hundredth Monkey. Briefly summarized:
The Japanese Macaque is a very intelligent species. It is the only animal other than humans and raccoons that is known to wash its food before eating it. Researchers studying this species at Koshima Island in Japan left sweet potatoes out on the beach for them to feed on, then witnessed one female, named Imo (Japanese for yam or potato) taking the food down to the sea to wash the sand off it. After a while, others started to copy her behavior. This trait was then passed on from generation to generation, until eventually, all except the very oldest members of the troop were washing their food and even seasoning their clean food in the sea. She was similarly the first observed balling up wheat with air pockets, throwing it into the water, and waiting for it to float back up before picking it up and eating it free from dirt
The story has been disputed, but the idea is sound, and gives us hope that if enough human beings wake up to the futility of dishonesty, greed, and war, we might yet save our planet. Stay tuned and pray that this can come to pass!
Friday, June 11, 2010
I have a dear and insightful friend (who, despite my objection, insists on anonymity); she shared a unique thought with me just the other day. I had leaned back in my chair after a long day’s work and, with a great sigh, exclaimed, “I am exhausted!” To which, she countered, “No, you’re not! You feel exhausted.”
She then proceeded to point out the distinction: I am implies a permanent condition, and I feel implies a transitory one. Transposed to Jungian terms, the Self is and the Ego is what is feeling. What I was really saying therefore was that I was identifying with my ego, which I readily admit!
It is the Ego on the circumference of the mandala of the psyche that feels, and to say I am exhausted is to confess unconsciously that one is identified with one’s ego, and to forget the reality of who one really is. Granted, that is the Self, according to Jung, which dwells problematically in the Unconscious, so it’s a Catch 22 paradox and no wonder that we tend to misspeak! The Self is unable to be exhausted! However, I see the wisdom of my friend’s distinction, and realize that this can truly aid us in a spiritual way by helping us remember who we really are.
The steady Light of the Self can always reveal and help us watch our egos feeling happy, depressed, angry, or worried. By the same token, the Ego can turn in reflection and meditation to transcend the feeling and sometimes reach that Peace that passeth understanding!
For most of us, including myself, this is a huge challenge, but the difference between Being and Feeling opens up a huge insight for me, anyway, of what the Scriptures of all faiths are trying to teach us. To be convinced that it’s okay to feel because that’s our individuation in action, never mind our typology, but that by spending a few minutes daily visiting our Divine Guest at our center, we can derive comfort, and a source of wisdom and hidden strength – something sorely needed these days of turmoil and disaster.
To be con-scious, etymologically, is to know with! Perhaps, that’s a hint to knowing that we have an unconscious companion, that source of Light always available to us.
As an oooooooold lady now, I look back on the many times I felt lost and helpless or overwhelmed with happiness, and see that time has made most of those memories intangible. Ann Foley said it best in one of her books: Things are changed by what comes after!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
We first met him in California in 1980. We went to a lecture he was giving. Physically, he was a small dark Hindu with expressive eyes and a black dot over them. One certainly got the impression that he projected a powerful aura. He was both gentle yet sharp as a tack! As the custom was to bring a gift, or prasad, which was cast into a large woven basket, Walter brought him the last rose from our garden in La Habra, and Muktananda held it the entire time. Each of us came up to greet him, and I was introduced as a Jungian astrologer. His words were translated by his niece, who later headed the American ashram, I believe. I do not remember what he said all of thirty years ago, but I certainly remember the impact of his presence! A year later, I was invited by my friend from Esalen, Stanislav Grof, to speak at the International Transpersonal Association Conference in Bombay, and after the conference a few of us accompanied Grof to the guru’s ashram in Ganeshpuri.
It was the festival of Shivaratri, and hundreds, if not thousands, of people were attending and celebrating. We lined up to meet him, and when it came to my turn, he pulled me down and bent over and whispered to me, “Will you do my chart?” I was astonished by his memory, and so I decided to stay. I had had a dream about him several months before, in which he was seated in a marble room on a throne and had drawn me onto his lap and asked me if he could use my body to speak through. I replied that I would have to think about it. (I was in training analysis with the Jungian Dr. Christopher Whitmont at the time, and when he heard the story he chuckled and said I was making progress: “A few months ago, you would have said. ‘Sure, any time!’”) Imagine my surprise, when I found that room and throne just as I had dreamt it.
Needless to say, I had no materials to do his horoscope, but among the many Western disciples these were found, so I drew up the chart, and waited to be summoned. During the several days of waiting, I had the opportunity of absorbing the remarkable flavor of the ashram, which was beautiful in every respect. There were many disciples from the States and Europe as well as Indians. Every evening, there was kirtan, and the men and women separated into groups and sang and danced in ecstasy. The whole ashram was spotless and well-ordered, and one sensed a strong positive collective energy. I eagerly attended Muktananda’s daily teachings.
Finally, I was summoned. By then, I had the impression that he was considered a divine being, so how was I to do God’s chart! When I entered his room, he was eager but looked exhausted, so I decided just to give him practical advice. I counseled him to seek the company of children and animals, who would not project divinity upon him. Little did I realize that as a Taurus, he had a stable with pet cows! The interpreter was Noni, a Persian, I think, with a sparkling sense of humor. We connected immediately. I asked Muktananda if he had thought of acting out parts of the epic Mahabharata in the ashram. His face lit up. “Yes,” he explained, “and I always played the part of God!” to which, I responded, “Think what fun God had playing Muktananda!” Noni’s translation was perfect, and he burst out laughing. We were off to a good start.
I decided to tell him an adapted version of a Mullah Nasruddin story that had formed itself in my mind a few years previous, back on Long Island. Mullah was an eleventh-century Sufi “Idiot Sage.” So I told him the following story:
Mullah was recently in Istanbul telling his famous funny teaching stories when his friends accosted him and rebuked him. “Mullah,” they said, “you have to stop all this. Don’t you realize this is a New Age? You have to be serious now, you need to find yourself!”
“I do? How can I do that?” “Well,” they answered, “we hear that the quickest way is to go to America and attend this guru Muktananda’s ashram in South Fallsburg, New York” “Oh well,” agreed Mullah, shaking his head ,”if you say so.” Then he sold his donkeys and bought a ticket to the USA. But a month later, he was back in Istanbul, telling his funny stories worse than before. “Mullah, what on earth happened?” asked his amazed friends.
“Well,” grinned Mullah, “I can’t tell you how grateful I am to all of you. I went there, and did all the meditations and yoga exercises to get to the center of my self, and guess what? I discovered that God is the biggest jokester of all. “How come?” asked his friends.
“Well,” grinned Mullah, “you won’t believe this, but after all that searching, when I got to the very center of my Self, guess what? I wasn’t there!”
I was rewarded by Muktananda bursting out laughing! He got up and instead of giving me shaktipat, a tap on the head leading to instant enlightenment, he folded me in his arms and gave me a warm hug and a kiss, and an invitation on the spot, to ride with him in his golf cart to visit his cows. With a wink to Noni, I asked for a Sanskrit name and suggested ‘cowpatti’(!). “No, no,” he exclaimed, “Gomati!” which means Mother Cow. With that, we drove off to see my namesake at his stable and to receive the gift of a picture of him and her, and a lovely scarf. What a privilege!
I owed a lot to Noni, who it seemed had, despite his yearning for enlightenment, a problem with “wine, women, and song.” So, to teach him a lesson, when he was with a woman and at the very climax, he went instead into samadhi, the bliss of which renders one unconscious! He looked appropriately sheepish, when he told me the story, revealing Muktananda’s powers.
Years later, before Muktananda died, his reputation was sullied by, what I believe, a misunderstanding. He was reputed to have slept with young women on occasion. What Westerners do not understand is that old men in India sometimes lie chastely with young women to recharge their astral energy. If you are smirking as you read this, it is true. Perhaps, he did not explain this because he might have wanted his disciples to withdraw their projection onto him and thus find their own Light within. Who knows?
All I can say is that to encounter him was a true blessing. I am especially grateful to him for explaining to me that one of our physical goals is to unite the essences of the pituitary and the pineal glands in the brain, thus producing the Blue Pearl of samadhi or ultimate spiritual bliss, also known perhaps as the ultimate result of uniting the subtle spinal nerve currents of ida and pingala in kundalini.
I highly recommend his books; his center is ongoing in South Fallsburg, New York, though I have never been there except with Mullah Nasruddin.
Monday, May 3, 2010
I cross the rivers of Hades
Cocytus, Phlegethon, Acheron, and Styx,
by-passing the blisses of Letho.
Pluto is waiting
black-eyed and curious.
Few people come down this far, he comments.
He is dark and powerful, as I expected,
but he looks wan of skin and somewhat strained.
Why have you come? The plumbing is very bad here.
It is. The cavern walls are streaming
with tears and flashing with slime
and the usual assortment
of creeping red-eyed monsters are
mewling about, obviously not housebroken.
but I am no longer afraid. This is urgent.
I come to learn of evil, I tell him.
I might be called evil because I looked down here before.
So, replies Pluto. Then you have come to the right place.
I sit on a block of stone and he begins.
Everyone at birth has his own share of Hades,
furnished to taste and prevailing custom, of course,
yet caves are most popular and suitable
as symbols of depth, dark, and unknown terrors.
You are all united by a threading river of fire.
Each of you receives a packing case
shipped down to order.
Charon has quite a sideline,
another Greek shipping magnate!
and in the case: -"
He counts on his fingers.
Rituals, murders, fears of the race.
tortures. screams, tabus of the tribe.
repressions, distortions, guilts of the family,
and, of course, your personal residue.
Quite a Pandora's Box!
Share and share alike, a human debt
to the generations.
These are released, my friend, by degrees.
Some run about the dreams of childhood,
Some sit and whine in the dark corners of the mind.
Did you not tremble as a child
alone with howls and bears and gropings?
Did you not throw shames down here yourself
for your children's children?
Here is your collection. Here.
All to be faced sooner or later.
You would not believe
the stuff that gets thrown down here
century after century!
Here it festers nicely and seethes and makes power.
But how you use this - ah, that is your affair.
He leans toward me, glowing with emphasis.
What you call evil is primeval energy misunderstood.
He lets the flames of his words sink in.
Why, I ask softly, why you?
Pluto gives a twisted smile as if the question pleases him.
I was the proudest. I wanted the impossible work.
Few know that I exist or care to redeem me.
Persephone never remembers messages!
Would you not want to come up to the sun?.I ask.
At times I do but it saddens me
I grieve for months.
Pluto, I ask, must we have this dark kingdom?
A three-headed dog with phosphorescent fangs
appears. I hold out my hand
and it lays its hideous heads piteously
Without my dark, Pluto continues,
you would have no desires.
No strengths in your urges, ambitions, or achievements.
Even spirit needs my sinews for earthly matters.
When you use me, I am called good. I become
almost natural. But when I use you
I am called horrible, insulting names
which vary with religions.
Remember all virtues carried to excess become vices.
That can be tricky!
Either way, I am admired, feared, or damned
but love --?
He gives a short laugh and comes close to me.
Cerberus, for such is his name, slinks away
his tail beneath his tattered legs.
Pluto undresses me;
I moan in my sleep.
He put his dark hands on my breasts
but playfully I put my arms around him
and gave him a hug and a kiss
which he needs more.
He hasn't been hugged in eons!
His voice shakes.
Orpheus came down here once.
Let me tell you that
his lyre sang sweeter songs
because he sang of the Oracles of Night
and lost Eurydice.
He sang for beauty forever denied him
trusting not that it followed behind.
The trees, the grass, the flowers, the springs,
even we held our breath and our tears,
but it was not to be!
Sing of me upon your return, I beg you,
for I am redeemed by art.
I dress again
And Pluto even buttons me up the back.
I give him a chocolate bar, which is all I have
I pity you with all my heart, I tell him.
I will try to understand and to love you.
He rises then majestically and opens his cape.
A swirl of black stars of onyx
falls around me, and I am mortally afraid.
Faintly I hear him singing:
For I am redeemed in you by art, and
I am also fond of pomegranates.
I cannot bid him farewell
for I am gasping up the stairs of my night
Strangely, I feel cleansed when I awake
and so I reach for paper
and set this down.
One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious. – C. G. Jung
Pluto’s Greek name is Hades, and both names mean wealth, which may come as surprise! The archetypal process of Pluto is transformation. I am going to reprint a most powerful poem by the little-known English Victorian Edward Carpenter, because it describes what we have to do individually and collectively with the “evil” we seem to have to deal with as one of the reasons for our privilege of incarnation. Here it is:
And at last I saw Satan appear before me – magnificent, fully formed.
Feet first, with shining limbs, he glanced down from among the bushes,
And stood there erect, dark-skinned, with nostrils dilated with passion;
(In the burning, intolerable sunlight, he stood, and I in the shade of the bushes);
Fierce and scathing the effluence of his eyes, and scornful of dreams and dreamers (he touched a rock hard by and it split with a sound like thunder);
Fierce the magnetic influence of his dusky flesh; his great foot, well-formed, was planted firm in the sand—with spreading toes;
“Come on,” he said, with a taunt, “art thou afraid to meet me?”
And I answered not, but sprang upon him and smote him.
And he smote me a thousand times, and brashed and scorched and slew me as with hands of flame;
And I was glad, for my body lay there dead; and I sprang upon him again with another body;
And he turned upon me, and smote me a thousand times and slew that body;
And I was glad and sprang upon him again with another body –
And with another and another and again another;
And the bodies which I took on yielded before him, and were like cinctures of flame upon me, but I flung them aside:
And the pains which I endured in one body were powers which I wielded in the next; and I grew in strength till at last I stood before him complete, with a body like his own and equal in might – exultant in pride and joy.
Then he ceased and said, “I love thee.”
And lo! his form changed and he leaned backwards and drew me upon him,
And bore me into the air, and floated me over the topmost trees and the ocean, and round the curve of the earth under the moon –
till we stood again in Paradise.
– From Edward Carpenter, The Secret of Time and Satan
Goethe expresses the same idea in his Faust when he has Mephistopheles complain, I am a part of the Spirit that always contrives evil and always ends up doing good! and I am the Spirit that always denies. Which reminds me of the epiphany I had on the fire escape in Greenwich Village in 1944: A Yes has to come before a No can sound!
My intuition about Pluto’s process is that it rules our Collective Shadow! – all the karma of the millennia, the cruelty, murder, rape, torture, meanness, greed etc. etc. – and that the myth of the Herculean “Cleansing of the Augean Stables” applies. Jung, bless him, suggests that as we work upon our individual Shadow, we withdraw that much darkness from the collective one, so there is one of the purposes of human incarnation. This is where the true meaning of transformation comes in.
Alchemy calls it the nigredo and maintains that this blackness hides the gold, non auream vulgarum, not physical gold, which explains the irony of the names Pluto and Hades meaning wealth!
Whenever we see those black curling clouds like the ones issuing recently from the Icelandic volcano or burning oil or rubber, we are reminded symbolically of the destructive power of this archetype.
The planet Pluto has just entered the earth sign of Capricorn. It is at present the furthest out, and it was discovered in 1930 by Percival Lowell. Its orbit is 248 years, so we really don’t know completely what this process entails. So far, the trans-Saturnian planets have shown their negative processes quite clearly at first, and no sooner was Pluto discovered when the Plutonian Holocaust unfolded, the massacres of WWII, and the atom bomb based on the use of plutonium! The threat of nuclear warfare seems symptomatic, does it not?
As I write, our whole country seems under nature’s siege, but the oil spill is manmade. It is hard for me to see a positive side to any of this, but the only cure is the change in the collective consciousness of humanity. Every atom of creation contains a point of light. I challenge anyone reading this to take a moment to examine your seven highest priorities or values. Write them down, and, oh, may Love be one of them!
lovingly, (what else!)