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Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Historic Split – CREDO CXXI

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:

1) Oil!

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!


1 comment:

Jon said...

“With our eyes open, we share the same world; with our eyes closed, each of us enters a private one”

I think it's the other way around. But of course that depends on the activity of the mind when the eyes are closed. In divine silence, beyondthe mind, we share the same world, I believe.