Follow by Email

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Instant Cure for the Blues! – CREDO CL

As some of you already know, I had a remarkable spiritual teacher – M. I met him on June 6, 1944, and my life changed from that day forward. I was 21, and today I am living into my 90th year. In all this time I have not once had a doubt concerning him. His teachings have guided me through thick and thin and many ups and downs. Last night I woke up and realized I was tired, and in considerable pain, and perhaps flirting with a potential depression, and realized that I have not shared his formula for this state of mind. It is very simple and it works:

     DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEBODY QUICK!

So I am curing myself in this act of sharing! If you think about it, if you feel sorry for yourself, you enclose yourself in a static circle of self-pity. However, if you act on behalf of another, that dynamic opens you to a spiral, and Spirit flows through you in even the humblest gesture toward another person, animal, or even flower. You are no longer trapping the flow of loving concern and appreciation of others.

This idea is present in the spiritual advice of all religions, not just one! It underlies the concept of our common humanity: that to love another as sparks of the same flame is equivalent to loving the Mystery we call Spirit. So here is just one beautiful expression of it:

            Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

These words were written in the Thirteenth century endure and transcend any religious dogma. They are the words of a mystic and are common to all other mystics. They seem so appropriate to our desperate needs still today, eight centuries later.

May they bring light, love, and life to us as we move towards another Solstice!

lovingly,
ao

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

As Below, so Above – CREDO CXLIX


The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus gives us the phrase “As above, so below,” indicating that archetypal processes operate on a descending level of planes. Now looking back over the years of my long life as I approach my 90th year to come(!), I see the thrust of my life’s work has been starting at the bottom and trying to demonstrate that the “great truths” of our earthly incarnation can be demonstrated as simple self-evidence! We can learn the greatest lessons from the smallest, humblest objects!

This is the basis of the wisdom of fairy tales, proverbs, and even jokes, which contain the essence of religious and hefty philosophical classics. In the past these contained not abstract but physical “object lessons.” Most people disdain them because they are so simple; and thus the more complicated language is used to reach sometimes absurd definitions. Here is a quote from The New Yorker I used in my first book, Jungian Symbolism in Astrology:

   COROLLARIES WE NEVER GOT AROUND TO READING
  From “Prolegomenon to a Theory of Religion,” by Gerald James
  Larson, Journal of the American Academy of Religion
[3.1] The Definition. Within the context of these considerations, let me now proceed to a definition of Religion and to offer as well two corollary definitions that grow out of the basic definition. I suggest the following: Religion is a “complete system of communication” (or a “form of life”) showing in primarily “commissive,” “behabitive,” and “exercitive” modes how a community comports itself when it encounters an “untranscendable negation of . . . possibilities.”

I still have to laugh every time I read it!

What I am suggesting is a device to finding your own wisdom. If you are familiar with the basic tenets of alchemy or astrology, so much the better, but these are not necessary. Plain common sense will do just fine!

1. Look around the room and concentrate your attention on one thing. Ex: wrapping paper (a noun). Ask it: What do you do? (The answer will be a verb.) I conceal.

2. Think now of what this process suggests. Jot down your observations.

3. Its purpose may be to hide a gift, protect what’s wrapped. It differs from what it wraps. It hides the contents.

4. Thinking symbolically, what obvious example might you come up with: How about our body? How does it differ from its precious contents? Your consciousness? Your emotions? Your fears? The real unvarnished private you? Your unconscious? Your unique being!

In Jungian psychology the wrapping paper is the persona, the wrapping paper that we present to the world. My father, a Pisces, was a flaming extroverted friendly representative of the company he worked for. Cheerful, engaging, and successful. When he came home to the hotels we lived in in so many different countries, he became almost childlike, rivaling me for my mother’s attention! His mother died giving him birth, and he chose to turn my mother into his; this resulted in his having a mistress, much to my mother’s distress.

Actors are capable of changing the wrap by consciously assuming other characters. And, in a way, all of us assume different “roles” every day. This makes us socially adaptive beings. Only the very shy, introverted people use plain brown paper to hide behind.

It also is manifested unconsciously by alcohol! Drugs? Some introverts, when tipsy, become hilarious extroverts; some extroverts, on the other hand, become sentimental introverts. Extremes turn into opposites.

I disgraced myself in the hospital when delivering one of my daughters. I was given a whiff of something for pain, and as the doctor was stitching my torn cervix, I started singing at the top of my lungs, “Oh give me something to remember you by . . . !” Oh dear! I’m afraid this daughter has never forgiven me. I just became unwrapped!

lovingly,
ao

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fair is Fair – CREDO CXCVIII



I learned about injustice at a very early age when still a toddler. I remember it vividly. My nanny accused me of wiping my own bottom with toilet paper, which she deemed her own duty. I had not done this, but besides the undeserved scolding, the shock that grownups were not infallible was far greater – in fact, cataclysmic! And so from the age of three to this day, I have been careful not to project 100% certainty on another human being! Nor do I carry the total conviction that I am always correct in my assumptions, which is often harder! Thus I am a true Scorpio, I guess. There is a story of some witty ancient Greek who said, “If everybody lies, can my statement be true?”

Our own bodies carry this warning in that everybody’s vision has a blind spot!

This brings me to the conundrum of the word fair, which can be used in more than one way. To some, it means just and to others, lovely. As both come under the sign of Libra, which is ruled astrologically by Venus, the connection becomes clearer. Its symbol is the scales upon which we weigh and balance things, thus it rules LAW. The sequence being this: if a matter is fair, it is just, therefore harmonious, therefore beautiful, therefore fair! Aha!

There is a story the writer Pearl Buck, who lived in China at the time, tells. She was on a station platform waiting for a train. She noticed a grandmother with a little grandson and a granddaughter. She saw the boy do something naughty and when she scolded him, he blamed his sister. She then took the granddaughter aside and whacked her. Then the old woman saw that Buck had observed the incident with shock. So she explained, “I want my grandchildren to understand that sometimes injustice falls into the lives of everyone in life and that is only fair.”

Too true! How many times have I myself felt the outrage that many kids express shouting, “That’s not fair!” And not just kids, today nations are wrestling with strikes and mobs and outraged citizens all proclaiming the same emotion. We yearn collectively for justice, and perhaps we need to remember the notion of karma, the Oriental concept of fairness dealt to us through our own actions.

I have a confession to make; it is one of the greatest ‘sins’ I have ever committed. It was to use truth as a lie! I was eleven and in a Swiss boarding school. Across from the house we boarded in was a small candy shop occupied by an understanding middle-aged woman. We girls would steal across to it and buy candy with or without our pocket money. If we didn’t have cash, she would enter the sum in a notebook and I always paid my debt. This adventuring was called Auskratzen, and looking back as an adult, I must assume that the teachers knew all about it. Anyway, while on a group walk, I boasted out loud, “I’m going to the candy store!” The kids were appalled because the teacher heard this. Then they all assumed it was an idle boast. It wasn’t! Later that very afternoon, I crept across the road and bought gumdrops. I was not caught and savored both the Gummisalat and my devious device. I had told a truth to serve as a lie!

Now I am almost 89 and still feel guilty – not of the deed but of the ethical dilemma. May the Fates forgive me! I have never done such a thing again. So there it is: a public confession.

I sometimes wonder, statistically how many people in the world have been punished, imprisoned, or put to death for crimes they were innocent of committing? This brings up the tricky problem of karma, the concept of paying eventually for the mistakes we have made, in any previous life even. Is there a difference between an ignorant misdeed and an intentional one? And what of cultural rules such as polygamy accepted or seen as adultery? These are interesting questions.

Sometimes, it is a matter of individual conscience.

One solution in avoiding projecting guilt onto children which I have learned from my adult ones is a simple one, worth repeating (!):instead of telling a child that he or she is a bad boy or girl for doing something wrong, simply say, “That is a NO!” Making the matter objective can avoid imposing a guilt complex! I wish somebody had thought of this 84 years ago!

We know the negativity of the Ten Commandments. Contrast this with the Buddhist alternative. I rest my case by including it here.

        THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH

The Four Noble Truths
There is suffering in this world:
All suffering comes from attachment and desire.
There is a way beyond suffering.
The way is the Noble Eightfold Path:

RIGHT VIEWS
Free from superstition and delusion

RIGHT ASPIRATIONS
High and worthy of the intelligent; worthy of man

RIGHT SPEECH
Kindly, open, and truthful

RIGHT CONDUCT
Peaceful, honest, and pure

RIGHT LIVELIHOOD
Bringing hurt or danger to no living being

RIGHT EFFORT
In self-training and self-control

RIGHT MINDFULNESS
The active, watchful mind

RIGHT RAPTURE
In deep meditation on the realities of life

              – Gautama Buddha , 6th Century B.C.

lovingly,
ao

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Knitwits – CREDO CXCVII


You might not realize what an argyle sock or a hand-knitted multicolored patterned sweater or more likely a machine-knitted one could teach you! Well, if you have such an item, turn it inside out and study the mess it seems to represent. There is wisdom hiding in that there wool. Honestly. It represents what most of us consider our daily if not our yearly lives consist of. That is, if you add in everything your conscious mind has to pay attention to all your waking hours, given your life up to now. There are times, at least as I approach my 89th birthday, that I despair about. Life does often seem just one damn thing after another. So I was ruminating as I picked up one of my colored socks off the floor and pulled it right side out before adding it to the laundry – a familiar task repeated hundreds of times during my life.

Well, guess what? It was as if the sock spoke to me and I had a profound and comforting attack of Jungian insight! What I had been looking at with was my ego, the part of all of us that deals with daily problems and joys, worries and fears, the whole kerfuffle of quotidian life.

What, if at the end we get to pull the sock right side out and see the pattern revealed that our Self, which dwells in our unconscious, has been knitting day by day!!

It undoubtedly will reveal a pattern that will have a genuine meaning and might even be illuminating the whys and wherefores that have long eluded us. Perhaps the patterns will reveal that it was not so much the actual events but the attitudes and emotional motives and strivings that add up mysteriously to one’s conscious or unconscious desires to do what was spiritually right.

All the millions of Earth’s human inhabitants have an Unconscious and many of us act according to the moral input of our time and place. So we may do the right thing for the wrong reason or the wrong thing for the right reason—a theme that has occupied many writers such as Dostoyevsky and Theodorakis. We judge and misjudge ourselves and others constantly! So, is there a solution?

For me, in my old age, there is one: LOVE!

Think back over your childhood and adult life. Are there not people, strangers even, that stand out in your life because they were kind? Kindness is a form of agape, or love that asks nothing in return, has no secret agenda, and is naturally sincere. I encounter it in many ways and gestures: the little boy who got off the school bus with some flowers for his waiting mother and, seeing me, hurried to pick some dandelions for me, which were given with shining eyes, or the cashier at the airport restaurant who looked at every tired salesman, and made a cheerful, genuinely personal remark.

In short, one doesn’t have to be religious to be kind. In fact, the Dalai Lama said it simply: “My only religion is kindness.” Having met him in Dharamsala, I can truly say that he embodies his words, adding humility. My husband had gashed his forehead on an awning; when His Holiness noticed this, and Walter explained, he smiled and said, “Then you will always have a reason to remember your visit to Dharamsala!” Lovingly.

lovingly,
ao

Three Big Little Words – CREDO CXLVI


Let me introduce them before we consider their power: Meet:

            and   or   but

Grammatically they are termed conjunctions because they join modifying words, phrases, or whole sentences, but their power is indisputable!

Consider “I like coffee and tea, but I like coffee for breakfast. Tea is best at tea time, but when I dine out, I like red or white wine, depending on the main course.”

These innocent little words can change meanings instantly!

Laurel and Hardy, David and Goliath.

Love and marriage – not the same as Love or marriage! or Love but marriage . . . ?

And can be healing, as in “Mommy loves you and I don’t like you chewing with your mouth open!” sounds better than “but I don’t like you chewing with your mouth open!” which is conditional.

Sounds simple but reread it as a four-year-old might hear it—subtle difference. In making it simple, I now suggest you imagine emotional confrontations between partners, employers, and employees, or political rivals!

“Shut up or else . . . !”

lovingly
ao

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Importance of Attitude – CREDO CXLV


Owing to the repairs to this house caused by severe winter damage, the meditation room is still empty and awaiting fresh paint. In the meantime, I have made a mini-altar on the wide windowsill in my office. It is directly above a bookshelf, and yesterday my eye fell upon a book I hadn’t read in 28 years. Idly I pulled it out. It was Dr. Athur J. Deikman’s The Observing Self: Mysticism and Psychotherapy. As I riffled backward through the pages, my eye fell upon this gem of a page dealing with the value of teaching stories. The title was “Vanity” [Inflation] and it offers such a simple solution to this, I hasten to include it to relieve the many of us who get caught in trying to avoid the traps of pride/self-blaming. I think it is most worthy of sharing and hope you will agree!

                    Vanity

A Sufi sage once asked his disciples to tell him what their vanities had been before they began to study with him.
  The first said, “I imagined that I was the most handsome man in the world.”
  The second said, “I believed that, since I was religious, I was of the elect.”
  The third said, “I believed that I could teach.”
  The fourth said, “My vanity was greater than all these; for I believed that I could learn.”
  The sage remarked, “And the fourth disciple’s vanity remains the greatest, for his vanity is to show that he once had the greatest vanity.”

  After reading this story, I observed myself doing the same things as the fourth disciple by berating myself excessively for personal failing. As I was doing so, the story came to my mind like a mirror, and I understood the role of vanity in what I was doing. The context was different from the specific situation of the story, but the dynamics were similar. My understanding provoked a wry smile and ended my self-flagellation. Not long afterward, a male patient presented feelings of self-blame whose concealed vanity I was able to recognize, for the pattern was the same. He was castigating himself for having made a “mess” of his opportunities, particularly as he was generally recognized as being highly intelligent and likable. After listening to him for a while, I offered an alternative view: “I think you’re doing yourself an injustice. You’re not a good guy who is making a mess of things – you’re a mess who is doing a good job!”
  He stopped in his tracks, wide-eyed, then threw back his head and roared with laughter. In the next session, he reported that he felt much better and had reduced his self-recriminations noticeably. My recognition of his concealed vanity, followed by an appropriate interpretation, was matched by his own recognition and decrease in his symptoms.

The example above is one of the switcheroo types, a total reversal. There is yet another way of changing attitudes, as demonstrated below in the Chinese classic the I Ching. I have interposed Jung’s words for Self and Ego where they are appropriate. It is important to remember that Jung’s definition of Self implies the spiritual “Divine Guest” dwelling in the Unconscious and giving us the hope of individuation.

                  I-Ching
From a commentary of Richard Wilhelm on the second Hexagram:
Kun –The Receptive.

The attribute of the hexagram is devotion; its image is the earth. It is the perfect complement of The Creative – the complement not the opposite, for the Receptive does not combat the Creative but completes it. It represents nature in contrast to spirit, earth in contrast to heaven, space as against time, the female-maternal as against the male-paternal. However, as applied to human affairs, the principle of this complementary relationship is found not only in the relation between man and woman. . . . Indeed, even in the individual this duality appears in the coexistence of the spiritual world and the world of the senses.

                [Psychologically]

But strictly speaking there is no real dualism here, because there is a clearly defined hierarchic relationship between the two principles. In itself of course, the Receptive [Ego]] is just as important as the Creative [Self], but the attribute of devotion defines the place occupied by this primal power in relation to the Creative [Self]. For the Receptive [Ego] must be activated and led by the Creative {Self]; then it is productive of good. Only when it [the Ego] abandons this position and tries to stand as an equal side by side with the Creative [Self], does it become evil. The result then is opposition to and struggle against the Creative [Self], which is productive of evil to both.


                   
The powerful symbol of the yin/yang above shows the role of the opposites perfectly contained within the circle of wholeness. Each hemisphere contains an inner opposite. From a Jungian perspective, the feminine yin contains a contra-sexual animus; the masculine yang, a feminine anima. Both are circumscribed by the circumference of the psyche as a whole. That is just one small application of this ancient Chinese symbol. It signifies balance in motion on every level – the very tides of time!

lovingly,
ao

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Mystery We Call God

 – CREDO CXLIV


One fish said to another, “I don’t believe in water!”

I once had a dream in Latin! It said: Cogito ergo sum ergo scivio deus est! The first part is Descartes’ famous saying I think therefore I am, but then it continues, therefore I [can] know God is!

I woke my dear husband up and he wrote it down on a scrap of paper. This message gave me sympathy for those who are agnostics or atheists. Having been both in my younger years it gave me a new way of countering the dilemma. There is a ‘Catch-22’ in their argument. Here it goes: the skeptic argues that since science cannot prove the existence of God, and evolution is provable, the conclusion must be that the cosmos came into being by chance.

This is a somewhat specious argument because – granted that he is right – he, himself, must also be the product of chance. In which case, of what possible value is his opinion!

I like the quote of an Indian physicist: “The greatest discovery of science in the 20th century is of its own limitations.”

I became an atheist in Portugal at the age of 11, having been overdosed with Christianity in European boarding schools. I solemnly announced this to my mother, who asked me why. I replied that no one was going to convince me that any old snake hung on a tree and spoke English. “Probably Hebrew,” my mother smiled and murmured, but then she paused and said, “Well, if you want to be an atheist, be a good one!” She told me there were other religions that might appeal to me more and encouraged my looking into them.

I followed that advice and started a systematic program forthwith of reading the holy scriptures of one religion after another, night after night, starting with the Old Testament and making notes in the margins of my red leather Bible. Unfortunately, this relic was destroyed ten years later by my daughter’s red setter who chewed it up to Leviticus! Alas, by the age of 20, I knew a lot about religion but had experienced nothing!

I went into an empty church in New York and wept. Three days later, my father suggested that I see this astrologer Hermes who had just helped him. My opinion at the time was that astrology was the superstitious twaddle of nincompoops, but as a lark, I went. Hermes, a most attractive man, lived in Little Italy within walking distance of the Hotel Holley on Washington Square. He drew up my chart by hand, looked at me, and said, “You have been looking for God all of your life.” Everything he said to me was accurate, and I was intrigued to say the least. He summoned me to return the next morning to meet his teacher M, and my life changed forever.

Since then I have spent seven more decades studying the matter. For me, one of the most valuable lessons I have learned from this is the dangers of literalism, and that the truth is revealed to us through understanding symbolic language and perceiving that what we presume to call God is not a noun but a verb, the very process of ongoing creation. Language, by its own nature, tricks us by turning verbs into nouns. “Swimming” is fun or “to swim” is fun, both as gerund or infinitive, become subject or object of a sentence acting as nouns, and still we are not even wet!

Obviously, I am no longer an atheist but I have deep sympathy for them – atheists have rejected the definition of God at the level beneath them. We all need to keep searching until we can move from believing there is no answer to the vast certainty that there is one, only we can’t apprehend it! Today I realize that the mind is ipso facto disqualified by its functioning through duality. It is the wrong instrument! The Tao that can be defined is not the Tao.

So what is the solution? To quote Jung, “The longest journey most of us have to take is from the head to the heart.”

As a wonderful old Hindu teacher said to me, chuckling, “Why, God is making love to you in every heartbeat of your life!”

lovingly,
ao

Friday, June 17, 2011

“Sweetness and Light” – CREDO CLXIII


There once was a nun who was a hermit and lived alone six days of the week and only joined the other hermit nuns for Sunday Mass. She lived that way for many, many years. Then she came upon a book by Jung and began to read and read his work.

Gradually she began to have nightmares, terrible dreams which truly shocked her. Then finally one Sunday she encountered a nun who had always irritated her and so she hauled off and slapped her! The poor soul then had a near breakdown thinking that she had gone mad.

At her spiritual director’s suggestion she came to me to have her chart done. The chart revealed the enormous self-discipline and utter devotion to God but also the repression and denial of any relationship. I tried to make clear to her that her anger was in a strange way a blessing, because even though it was so negative, it was still a first step in relating. My friend Brewster, a Jungian analyst, said that saying “Damn you!” to God is a huge step in relating to God. In the Old Testament we are told to love God with all our heart, soul, and might, AND our neighbor as our Self (sic) – not as our ego. So the whole point of incarnation may well be to find God incarnate as the Divine Guest within us all.

Jung wrote over and over that only to choose sweetness and light and to repress all the darkness in us results inevitably in our projecting that darkness onto others. So, simply put, trying too hard to be good can be bad for you!

My dear son, Timothy, when he was 13, came home on holiday from boarding school determined to be a saint. For two weeks he was obedient to his father, helpful to his mother, patient with his pesky sisters. He slept on the floor, ate sparingly, and got a job doing work he really didn’t enjoy. At two in the morning, I passed his bedroom door and heard sobs. When I knocked and entered I found him pounding the floor with his fists crying, “It’s not FAIR! It’s not FAIR!” I asked him what wasn’t fair, and he replied, “I’ve tried to be good all these days, and I’ve fallen into the greatest sin of all! “What sin?” I asked. He moaned, “I think I’m better than other people!”

I didn’t think it was fair either, but I did pray for a solution. The next day, as I replaced an empty paper towel tube, the light shone through it. “AHA!” I stuffed Kleenex in one end and went to my son and told him to look through it and tell me what he could see. “Duh!” said he. Then I told him to take out the tissue and look again. He looked again and at me as if I were an idiot. But then he got it: the light shines through – not out of the tube. And the good we do and the love that we share comes from that higher Source – not out of us. To claim it is to identify with it and become inflated. This aha! has been an enormous help to me and others ever since, because the corollary is that when people are grateful to you or complimentary, you can shoot it back up to the Divine Guest, so one doesn’t get trapped in hubris or terrible attacks of mea culpa. The ego can be pleased enough if it can keep the pipe clear. To this day, I am profoundly grateful to my son’s efforts.

No, he didn’t grow up a clergyman, but he majored in philosophy and then in medicine and became a great psychiatrist.

lovingly,
ao

Monday, June 6, 2011

Popcorn! – CREDO CXLII


By now, if you know my theory of finding the sacred in the commonplace, you will not be surprised by the title of this Credo. But in case you don’t, here is a condensed version:

Creation is the manifestation of ongoing archetypal processes. As mankind evolved people realized this and in order to speak of the processes, they gave them names, and because they were universal, they were considered divine, and thus the world over(!) they became gods and goddesses! If you study comparative mythology, you will know that the names will differ but the process of each will remain constant. And the seven original processes were ruled by the planets orbiting and reflecting the center, our SUN.

These processes are also to be found hidden in manifest things as well as subatomic realms – every atom has life at its center. Agrippa, the alchemist, wrote Virtutes divinae in res diffusae (Powers divine are diffused in things). The mysterious Hermes Trismegistus coined the phrase “As above, so below.”
It seems as if my life’s work has been dedicated to finding them below to start with, because there they make sense!

My dream of Jung shouting, “CONSIDER THE OBVIOUS! I DID!” confirmed my mission. The word obvious comes from Lat. ob via, on the road. Christ said, “Nothing is hidden, having eyes you do not see, having ears you do not hear.”

With this in mind, I have discovered Sophia’s source of wisdom as delight! It is simple and anyone can play the game: I will repeat: Think of a zipper, for instance. The word is a noun. Turn it into a verb by asking it, “What do you do?” It answers, “I unite opposites going up and separate them going down.” I chuckled and thought Ego con-jung-o! I unite. So going up, a zipper unites and going down, separates opposites. I have already mentioned how my husband took to crying SYMBOLOS! in the morning as he put on his pants, and winked Diabolos at night. Uniting the opposites is a key to joy, and one way is to take any thing and discover its meaning. DIABOLOS, the process of the Devil or diabolic, separates any opposites, especially the Self (our Divine Guest in the psyche) and our ego (who we think we are). Remember, Jung says the Self dwells in our unconscious, so that’s probably why. The mind cannot reach it, only the heart.
*sym Grk. together; bolein, throw; dia ,Grk, apart: bolein, throw

So what about popcorn?

The great truth I learned from popcorn is quite obvious. Once it has popped, it can never go back again. So it is the equivalent of satori or samadhi or St. Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus or a baby’s first walking steps or any deep meaningful AHA! we all have experienced when a great truth emerges from our unconscious. We are permanently advanced with a pop!

One of Holy Wisdom’s (Hagia Sophia’s) messages is that the truth is also hidden in the commonplace, so my conviction is that if “As above, so below” is true, why not start humbly with the below. Besides, it is far more “delightful,” as Proverbs 8: 32-41 in the Old Testament assures us Wisdom is.

Try this: take any object and look at it, then ask it: What do you DO?

This is the feminine aspect of Wisdom at its spiritual level. (The Great Mother by Erich Neumann [Bollingen Press Princeton] is a great source on this.) Wisdom is feminine in all religions except Roman Catholicism, where the third person of the Trinity (God, the Father; God, the Son; God, the Holy Spirit) in Latin is Spiritus Sanctus, a masculine noun which takes a masculine pronoun, making the Trinity all masculine! On the other hand, the Greek paraclete translates literally as Comforter, which suggests the god-mother who mothers the messages from our indwelling Self into consciousness whenever needed, and her mythical counterpart, the Fairy Godmother, has the comforting presence and gift of transforming the invisible into the visible, and she carries a wand with a “star” on top! Her process is saving us by revealing the sacred in the commonplace. She always mediates between these two and gives the child in us practical advice!

The dark feminine archetypes, of course, are symbolically the witch, the bitch, and the sorceress, which in the male anima feed the collective negative and destructive actions recorded in our daily news. The many arms of the Hindu goddess Kali display both the powerful negative and positive aspects of the Feminine. Perhaps now, we can see this for what she truly represents. (It is essential to view such matters symbolically; literalism paralyzes meaning, hence the danger in all fundamentalism of concretizing understanding!)

My purpose here is simply to give some reason for faith in the future: we need to remember that:

Yes! has to come before No can deny it
.
The Sun shines and does not take back its rays.

And the Gnostic Gospel according to Thomas, so associated with Jung, tells us: Heaven is spread upon the earth, but men do not see it.

As to popcorn, next time you have some, ask yourself how many of your kernels have popped?

As for myself at 88, right now I feel more pooped than popped, so I think I will celebrate my “Scottish Communion,” put my feet up, and have some real popcorn myself!

Cheers!

lovingly,
ao

Monday, May 23, 2011

Unusual Encounters – CREDO CXLI


Recent cyber communications have mentioned Thomas Mann, Freud, and Adler, and I suppose I should mention my surprising brief connecting with all three in meaningful ways.

In the summer of 1939, my parents and I – then 16 – spent the summer at the seaside Huis ter Duin hotel in Noordwijk, Holland. I was living one of the most exciting times of my life: tennis, riding, dancing, swimming, falling in love, being a na├»ve teenager, yet at the same time, writing poems that were being published in the Paris Herald Tribune that contradicted my outward persona. Thomas Mann and his wife and daughter Erika (who later married W. H. Auden) were also guests. Apparently Mann was intrigued by the contrast of my persona and my poetry, and he asked my father permission to talk to me. That given, he invited me to sit with him in one of those hooded basket chairs on the terrace overlooking the sea. Mind you, I had no idea of who he was. I saw a slight middle-aged gentleman with a grey moustache.

He began by telling me he had read my poetry and was curious to know if I wanted to be a writer? When I answered yes, he said that he was one himself and saw true potential in my gifts. Then he proceeded with some serious advice: Get up an hour earlier, start writing anything – just write at least 600 words – and make this a habit. This was something he did himself daily and with positive results. Discipline was the key! He said that if I followed this rule, I would have a career and contribute something to the world. I followed his advice until I went back to boarding school in Switzerland. In the meantime WWII broke out! My career was interrupted, but the Muse hovered for some time until I married in 1945 and she then fled 20 years!

Previous to this, in 1937, I had been utterly miserable in a boarding school in Providence, RI. A total misfit now again in uniform, I had traveled in Europe and North Africa with my parents, never ever more than three months in one place, and those were spent in European boarding schools. I was in the care of my wealthy “proper Bostonian” Uncle George Foote and Aunt Doris living on Beacon Hill. My parents continued traveling as my father’s job selling Mergenthaler Linotypes to print newspapers required this. He was now their Vice-president for Overseas. I was headed for “coming out” as a debutante. My reaction was troubling to say the least, and my Aunt Doris decided I needed therapy. The answer was Dr. Ruth Adler, daughter of the famous psychiatrist Kurt Adler. She was then a plump friendly woman with a short man’s haircut.

I liked her immediately because she understood the dichotomy I felt. I decided that the study of the psyche was right up my alley! One afternoon, we interrupted analysis and turned on the radio to hear King Edward the Seventh of England abdicate his throne in order to marry the divorced commoner Wallis!

The time I spent with Dr, Adler was validating and comforting. I will always be grateful to her!

I met Sigmund Freud’s granddaughter, many years later in Bath, England, when she attended a seminar I was giving in the 1970s in the actual building of the Baths. She regaled us with wonderful descriptions of Onkel Ziggy who secretly supplied her with lemon drops he kept hidden in his jacket pocket. She adored him.

My weekend workshop was given in the magnificent Regency building surrounding the mineral baths prized and built by the ancient Romans during their occupation. Their structure of the large rectangular pool is still surrounded by Roman artifacts. Above it stands the magnificent Regency building, which houses drinking fountains, comfortable rooms, and historic displays. My group met in a downstairs room, and close by was the W.C. used by Her Majesty the Queen. I was informed that Her Majesty travels with her own toilet seat that is installed for her when she visits the small mahogany-lined cubicle we were now free to use, as I remember. At teatime, we were treated to the delicious Bath buns that melt in your mouth.

I discovered the meaning of “to toast” at that time. Apparently Beau Brummell celebrated a yearly event when the Baths were reserved for the exclusive use of a number of naked “ladies” who swam in the nude to the delight of a select group of gentlemen. Beau thought their heads bobbing in the water reminded him of the toast cubes decorating a syllabub bowl filled with that custardy alcoholic beverage served at Christmas. So he raised his glass to the “Toast of the Town!” See what etymology can reveal!

Another association with Freud occurred during WWII when we were escaping in a caravan of two buses, as a group of Americans, from Switzerland to Portugal. The long hot trip through France was hindered by hundreds of refugees on foot or in cars loaded with mattresses escaping the Germans that summer of 1940. We were delayed at the customs at the Spanish border because when we were all strip-searched, a fat lady had placed a German Swiss newspaper between her bottom and the hot leather seat in the bus. The German typescript had offset on her behind! The officials thought it might be code, so we had to spend the night. Fortunately, a kind peasant couple invited us to sleep in their home. The three of us slept on their double bed surrounded by hanging garlands of onions.

Finally, we were able to board a train, but when we arrived in Madrid, we were in every sense looking like tramps. My father was tieless and his face covered by black stubble, as we entered the Ritz Hotel! Fortunately, our American Ambassador Weddell recognized my father and vouched for us. He was the one who had just engineered the escape of Sigmund Freud from Vienna to England. I remember the first thing my mother and I did was taking turns in a bathtub of cold water. The temperature was 110 degrees. We also stopped in bullet-damaged Barcelona, still recovering from civil war. We attended a bullfight. When we reached the border to Portugal, we encountered a Jewish refugee family: grandfather, father, son, all rabbis, two wives, and a small pale four-year old little boy. We gave them the last bits of chocolate and powdered coffee we had. The last we saw of them was at the dock in Lisbon, headed for North Africa.

We sailed home on the S.S. Excambion. We had a cabin, but the lounge had people sleeping side by side like sardines, among them the publisher of Time, and Salvador Dali and wife, who were very low-key and became friends, as did the governess and baby girl who ended up at the Ritz and inspired the character in the book about her: Eloise. I met them by chance later in Central Park. They were still there!

lovingly,
ao

Friday, May 13, 2011

Depression Cure – CREDO CXL


With all the really bad news out there, both geological and political, it is not surprising that some of us sometimes give in to depression! And I include myself.

This early morning, in meditation, a remarkable nutty vision came to me. It was as if the entire Solar System were enclosed in a bubble, and beyond the bubble, the stars were all serenely in their place, and the words came to me, in Scots, “Dinna fash’ yersel, lass, the universe is still running on time!

That notion rings true and should give us all – no matter how terrible things are – another perspective. At 88½, obviously I realize that my entire life is about to be encapsulated and blown away, and I realize that all that remains is that which I have given away: life to four children resulting in further generations, words, spoken and written, and, throughout, the theme of love needed and received yet poured out in various forms. What about hate? Mysteriously, I can honestly say I hate no other. My Teacher M explained to me that after many lives, I had finally dissolved any hatred of people by having compassion on the future karma that they would have to endure. As I have suffered a lot of emotional pain in my life, I can view the lessons learned, but hating just never has been a problem. The evildoers in this world are destined for enormous karmic debt, and this should evoke compassion. “Hell” is living with extended negative consequences to negative actions. The difference is ignorance or conscious evil intent. A mistake is a loop in consciousness made to expose a greater surface to experience.

In my book The Dove in the Stone I recount the story of a conversation with my Teacher M in which he likens consciousness to a tree. Trees do not grow like poles alone. They have branches which go out at an angle from the trunk. The branches have twigs that bear leaves which are open to the sun’s rays and enable them to grow. And each leaf on the Tree of Life is an AHA! And that tree in Genesis is an apple tree. It blooms. And after time, bears apples. The apples fall from the tree and are its gift to the future.

My hates are connected to my own love of perfection – Moon in Virgo – and I hate making mistakes of any kind. So I am grateful for this: “Forgive them, they know not what they do.” Forgiving myself is another matter entirely Sigh.

Here is a poem that expresses my view:

The Poles of Eden

Do not let me mock you, dear
  do not let me hope
  do not let me gather
    a mother and a father
    nor ask them why
  after the release of gold
  after the silver of their peace
  after the sadness and the sleep
    they gave up, turned inward
    each to each his leaden dream
  and left you weeping in their deep
      crying
        screaming
          shuddering
  for comfort and for love to keep.

  Godself has a great pair of pincers
      half a woman
      half a man
  and where they close, where one and One
  in pulsing pinch of promise
      life begins and love began.

  Oh, constant Adam, taste your apple
  roll your tongue about those pips
  and kiss sweet knowing Eve
  upon her musing lips
sons and pentacles and steer
      her womb will render
      and chattel is what those sons
      will hold most dear-
  spliced and sliced out of spit and soil, and split
    One into desperate two
  you seek through sweat and shame
  and serpent dream, and do-
    and you, poor Eve, aborted all that pain
    that Self might gain in Abel and in Cain
      and Adam called you keening
      back to rest - you were his soul
      his hope, your breast
      and Seth he rendered second
          unto death.
  Tell me, son, still young
  and brown, and marked, and hairy
  do you range the desert?
  are you lonely?
  do you range
  where stone and spirit
  make exchange?

      if you quest and thirst and rave
      for answer, seek the mountain
      seek the fountain
      in that initiating cave -
  there you'll find a tomb will mouth
  your prick of conscience
  and swallow continents and questions
  the pestilence of thinking
  deeds and fears
      you'll pass through such a death of seed to peace
      where one in beauty bends to save
      to lead you up bright steps
      by night-webbed gossamer
        to what you crave
  and at that inner height
  you'll find from apple's pride and root
  from knowledge and apple tomb absolved
      grown
  now luminous, now numinous
  your flowering Tree of Light
  your sanctifying Fruit of Life -

  Godself holds a branch of annulating fire
  and flails his grain
  with time and with desire

        and when all and ever
        will be spent
        retted and rent
  He'll gather from the chaff and ash, the spark
  and spin it starwards up
  to spiral out to shimmer in the dark
        then rest and smile
        know and be charmed by love
        filled and fulfilled
  for this
      ah, yes
        is Wisdom.
This is what She meant.

lovingly,
ao

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The USA & the Four Elements – CREDO CXXXIX:


If you look at a map of North America, there are three layers, occupied by Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The US is the largest section and most heavily populated. If you think about it, we are the part beset with severe problems involving the four elements. Canada seems almost the calm brow of our shared continent. One wonders if it’s the negative collective consciousness that is bringing about these constant attacks of nature? Despite the unreported good being accomplished in our country, the output of TV seems to favor the headline-grabbing news of crime, disasters, and discord of every ilk. The ads are often violent and give no regard for the positive. Just tonight, I wondered what a child of five or six would think of a man throwing a dart at another and killing him! An advertisement, mind you, for a dating firm. We seem to forget the impact of such ads on kids.

Here are the four elements as astrologically or symbolically understood. I have focused on the negative impact, which seems to be dominant at the moment.

AIR
  which rules our collective thoughts.

We have high winds, tornadoes and hurricanes, and areas of serious drought:

Confusion and indecision, hype and mendacity?

The antidote would be honesty, good faith, and optimism.

FIRE
  which rules our collective actions.

At the moment we are suffering major fires in Texas, but there have been destructive major fires in several other states every year. California and Florida are recent examples.
Crime, murder, persecutions, and irrational behavior?

The antidote would be acts of courage, responsibility, kindness, and consideration

EARTH
  which rules our collective economy and ecology.

We have earthquakes, mudslides, and volcanic lava.
Materialism, debt, greed, dishonesty, and conceit?

The antidote would be thrift, charity, honesty, and common sense.

WATER
  which rules our collective emotions.

Heavy rains and destructive floods are common, as are blizzards.
We get carried away and react with mob psychology, swayed by ads and politics.

The antidote is self-analysis, transpersonal love, and resistance to group pressure.

          * * *

Certainly, we are not the only nation to suffer but few other countries are beset with all four at once. For me, it raises the basic question, does human collective consciousness impact weather?

There is a lovely story called "The Rainmaker" Jung was fond of relating. Here it is:

              The Story of the Rainmaker

The function and role of the rainmaker is best described in a story. The concept of the rainmaker comes from a story from Jung and for those not familiar with the rainmaker, the following story is taken from The Tao of Psychology by Jean Shinoda Bolen and was told to Jung by Richard Wilhelm. It is the story of the rainmaker of Kiaochau.

"There was great drought. For months there had not been a drop of rain and the situation became catastrophic. The Catholics made processions, the Protestants made prayers, and the Chinese burned joss-sticks and shot off guns to frighten away the demons of the drought, but with no result. Finally the Chinese said, "We will fetch the rainmaker." And from another province a dried-up old man appeared. The only thing he had asked for was a quiet little house somewhere, and there he locked himself in for three days. On the fourth day the clouds gathered and there was a great snow storm at the time of the year when no snow was expected, an unusual amount, and the town was so full of rumors about the wonderful rainmaker that Richard Wilhelm went to ask the man how he did it. In true European fashion he said, "They call you the Rainmaker, will you tell me how you made the snow?" And the little Chinese man said, "I did not make the snow, I am not responsible." "But what have you done these three days?" "Oh, I can explain that. I come from another country where things are in order. Here they are out of order, they are not as they should be by the ordinance of heaven. Therefore the whole country is not in Tao, and I also am not in the natural order of things because I am in a disordered country. So I had to wait three days until I was back in Tao and then naturally the rain came."
              —C. G. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, pp. 419–20

lovingly,
ao

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dealing with Adversity– CREDO CXXXVIII


As so many people in the world are having extremely difficult times, any advice worth listening to seems welcome. Two voices from the past offer this on both a collective and an individual level. The renowned British historian Arnold Toynbee observed that it was not what happens to a civilization [country] but how it reacts that determines the outcome. A case in point, of course, was the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, which resulted from laxity and frivolity, political squabbling, contrasts between wealth and poverty, and many of the other symptoms facing our own country today. Those who are aware of history can think of many other examples, including some positive ones. Yet, many countries started out reacting positively only to fall into the power trap, such as Germany after WWI, resulting in the Nazi regime of corrupt socialism and the Soviet version which degenerated into tyrannical communism. Both countries began with meaningful ideology, and both ended with defeat from inner and outer forces. Then a new development cast off these by people coming out in thousands peacefully demonstrating and protesting tyranny. Today, indeed, we have progressed to the United Nations, the EU and NATO, and yet, the struggle continues, resulting in more violence.

Historically, in our own country in the late 1700s, a strange global sequence took place. Hindu philosophy had come to Europe for the first time and was translated into German coincidentally with the American Revolution, and, as a result, some New Englanders chose to go to German universities rather than England’s Oxford or Cambridge. There, they learned of ahimsa, non-violence. These Transcendentalists in Concord, Massachusetts inspired Thoreau’s On Civil Disobedience, which was read by the young Indian Gandhi in South Africa, who went on to liberate India without firing a shot, which influenced Martin Luther King, and led eventually to the inauguration of our first biracial president, Barack Obama. Phew! Such is the power of ideas! Currently, we are now on edge observing a new rise of the Common Man in North Africa and the Middle East: the power of a united people spontaneously seeking freedom and democracy against a single tyrannical ruler. The concept already has inflamed at least eight different countries.

On the individual level, the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung put forward the same idea, saying it’s not what happens to us in life but how we react to it that determines our fate. Take note, we have a choice! We even say, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!” An extreme example would be blind and deaf Helen Keller, but so many outstanding Americans have demonstrated this way of reacting, coming out of difficult circumstances in youth – one could almost name it a national trait.

Contrast this today, alas, with an increasing segment of our contemporary population that is succumbing to escapism in distorted pleasure-seeking drugs, porn, and crime. Also, the hours spent on TV and video games, to say nothing of the Internet, imply living an ersatz life. In the meantime, we are risking losing our planet through ignorant abuse, our own physical well-being, and our ability to relate to each other in a genuine way. Now, present economic adversity offers us “the kitchen table,” the rediscovering of families around it, and the challenge of reacting in a real and not synthetic way. Our frenetic national extraversion hopefully may adjust to rediscovering some of the rewards of looking inwards and a search for simple rather than "virtual" reality. This implies the need for a profound shift in our values, taking time “to smell the roses,” noticing the suffering and needs of others, of nature itself, animals, and the environment, and offering compassionate service to them insofar as we are able. As Mother Teresa remarked, we also need to remember that God is in everyone, and the importance of person to person. Such a reaction to adversity might indeed save our world.

lovingly,
ao

Thursday, March 17, 2011

E pluribus unum – CREDO CXXXVII


We are witnessing in the last few weeks a new phenomenon in North Africa and the Middle East. It is the power of the common man to use a massive peaceful crowd to overcome a despotic ruler. Gandhi’s “Salt March” was a forerunner, and, to be sure, the Eastern countries in Europe had the Velvet Revolution against Communism, but these were not as clearly defined as what is happening in North Africa. Here the composite Aquarian rule of the Common Man is placed against its opposite sign Leo, the single ruler. Thus begins the New Age in historical terms. Nation after nation, starting with Tunisia, has provided massive rivers of humanity that moved as one to protest against single entrenched dictators; Ben Ali, Mubarak, Ghadafi and others.

The Latin quote which is the motto of the USA, and on every dollar bill, translates as “Out of many, one,” and was also used symbolically previously by the Roman Empire, which had a bundle of arrows called the fasces tied together, giving rise years later to the term “fascist.”

At another level, the United Nations, and the European Union (EU) function as one out of many.

Those are all political examples, but the same process can be discerned in large business companies, universities, government branches in many countries. The USA, however, is a triad of checks and balances: the judicial, legislative, and the executive branches, headed by a single president, who nevertheless is subject to the people, as Clinton demonstrated . . .

Day by day, at present, history is unfolding this new phenomenon. It deserves our attention. The internet, Facebook, etc. are all abstract communities in which we participate without personal contact. The reality of the “other” is a matter of personal projection. Take a certain journalist: you read his pieces, hear his voice on the radio, and you form an imaginary man to fill in what’s missing. Then one day, you finally see his picture and are amazed at the difference from what you had imagined. Multiply this phenomenon by a billion and the unreality of what one thinks is going on and what really is becomes daunting.

Mother Teresa put it succinctly: I believe in person to person and God is in everyone. Aquarius believes in the latter but forgets the importance of person to person. You pay a toll and a little green light comes on with Thank You! An Aquarian guru I knew signed all his computer mail “with heartfelt love.” An Aquarian author I knew was writing a book about the seven mysteries of the universe, but forgot to water his horse, which sickened. As I myself have Aquarius rising, I have spent a lifetime trying to be practical! A need, something my very practical husband Walter finally conveyed to me. His method was very subtle: he never criticized me. No, but he would become very, very silent and when I noticed this, I had to ask – only then would he give the reason. This was very helpful actually because by asking I opened myself to receive the reprimand! Always followed, to be sure, by an affectionate hug.

We really only had two fights in eighteen years. The first was when we moved our joint belongings and discovered the number of musical records we both had. I said the long shelf was for his, and he said no, it was for mine. Aargh! In the end, there was room for both. The second argument was over the virtue or lack of it, of the Emperor Charlemagne! He was for me, a wise and heroic hero. In fact, when Germany invaded Holland in WW II I dreamt he was in a telephone booth and I was banging on the glass shouting, “What are we going to do?!!” For Walter, who grew up in Germany, Charlemagne was “the bloody Saxon butcher” who invited the Scandinavian nobility to a banquet and proceeded to slaughter them, a tale I refused to believe on the grounds that the order came from someone else, a woman whose name escapes me at the moment.

Back to the topic! What the present media offers us is the opportunity to live a new commandment: Love thy neighbors, they are yourself! Even in a family, our relationships are basically the result of mutual complex projections. We serve as multiple masks to one another! As I have written before, many of our relationships are based upon opinion. I remember an experience in India, looking down at night at a corpse being burned on a ghat. Some dogs, whose eyes reflected the fire, were snatching bits of flesh and devouring them. I thought of the hounds of hell. The next morning, I saw the dogs and puppies again, and they were just pooches wagging friendly tails.

So E pluribus unum has a caveat: A chain is as strong as its weakest link. A river of humanity is subject to mob psychology. We desperately need to remember the importance of the unum’s responsibility.

I am reminded of the Hindu image of Indra’s Net. The net is held together with a jewel at each nexus, and each jewel reflects all the others! It seems a prophetic holistic symbol for the fractals of today.

If the dichotomy of the last Age of Pisces/[Virgo] was faith/reason, the individual vs the collective is indeed the dichotomy of our already-arrived Age of Aquarius/[Leo].

We can celebrate this in a form of “Instant Communion”: by making a circle holding hands and swaying back and forth three times chanting “Yum! Yum! Yum!” followed by “Hugs to the left and hugs to the right!” This always ends any meeting in laughter and delight. Try it, as many have, and enjoy. By the way, we tried this with over a hundred Tibetan orphans in Dharamsala in India, and they knew exactly what to do! So now we can truly say it has Tibetan links!

lovingly,
ao

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Pearl Principle of Toynbee and Jung – CREDO CXXXVI

   
This seems a moment in history to remind ourselves of one of the most significant ideas put forward in the last century! Arnold Toynbee, the famous British historian, put it this way (as I remember it):
It is not what happens to a civilization [country], but how it reacts to it that determines the outcome.

And to paraphrase Jung:
It is not what happens to us as individuals, but how we react to it that determines our spiritual growth.

This concept, collectively and individually, is probably one of the most important ideas that might sustain us as we live in these acutely challenging times! Egypt is a current case, in point.

There are many extreme individual examples of this: Helen Keller, born deaf and blind, or Nelson Mandela, the South African, who suffered decades in prison for trying to liberate his country from European colonization, who triumphed in the end and is now a revered heroic founder of this independent nation. These are just two well-known examples, but there are countless others all over the world.

I call it the Pearl Principle. It is the irritant in the oyster that produces the perfection, luster, and beauty of the pearl.

As so many, many people all over the world are suffering, one way or another, as countries under despotic rulers or victims of natural or manmade disasters, never was it more important to realize the enormous import of this philosophical, psychological, if not spiritual truth.

          * * *

Speaking for myself, last evening I was wallowing in self-pity with a dear friend, bemoaning the physical and financial calamity of this brutal winter that has caused the virtual collapse of a whole room in my house, with leaks that cannot be stopped until April at the earliest! The prospect of moving the contents and files, packing everything in boxes, and this includes the meditation room upstairs that requires a whole new window – at 88 and unable to use my right hand, in constant pain, plus the current absence of my beloved secretary due to illness, etc. etc. – this prospect seems insurmountable, combined with the effort to finish collecting materials for the Archives of Smith College! Well, my friend added a well-deserved scolding, and I went to bed in pain and misery, only to wake up with the comforting insights of Toynbee and Jung! Bless them! Hooray for the Unconscious!

Thus, I hasten to share the wisdom of Arnold Toynbee and Carl Gustav Jung, in the hopes of potentially cheering just a few others of the millions of people who are suffering far greater pains than I am.

I must not forget my magic word Vivex! that forces me, without fail, to get up and go on, or my oft-quoted words of the Bishop of Woolwich, In we are and on we must.

Finally, I offer the consolation of looking up to the stars at night: the universe is running on time and this too shall pass. As the medieval French poet Francois Villon wrote, Ou sont les neiges d’antan? Where are the snows of yesteryear?

hopefully and lovingly,
ao

Friday, February 4, 2011

How to Love Your Enemy: Part I – CREDO CXXXV


Now, there’s a tough commandment! Especially when the news of the day is so full of opposite factions striving against each other, to say nothing of killing them. After years of listening to clients and patients griping and growling about their antagonists, it seems a hopeless and unreasonable task.

It starts with blaming, which, of course is a form of projection, and this brings up the lines of wisdom in the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others who trespass against us.

But there is the problem of seemingly real evil and hateful behavior that makes the commandment perhaps seem too idealistic. Here is another way of looking at it:

This is based on the concept of karma, which is simple action and reaction. No “sin” is involved, and it takes reincarnation as a given. If you can allow these two to be a reality, you will know that when your “enemy” does something unspeakably cruel or evil, you should develop compassion for them because they will have to learn the hard way the next time around! That compassion amounts to loving your enemy, but it is not easy.

Yet, here are a few instances that come to mind. One was a young man with an angelic disposition who suffered all kinds of physical ailments and had a history of cruel mental and physical abuse as a child. Let Mark be a poster child for many, many similar cases in our world. It seems so totally unjustified. Consider the possibility that this is a “redemptive” life, and that by maintaining his good nature and kindness, he was erasing the past. In such a redemptive life, one may discover that one’s true nature is essentially to be kind. Here is an extreme example:

One of my uncles graduated with the Edward Sheldon from Harvard. Ned went on to become a famous American playwright and became wealthy in the 1920s. I corresponded with him at the age of 11, when I sent him, at the suggestion of my mother, a play that I had seriously written! I received a telegram critiquing it, and so when we went to New York, my mother decided we should meet. We went to the address on the Upper East Side, and took the elevator up to the penthouse. The small elevator door opened, and I was in for a shock! A narrow bier was in the middle of a beautifully furnished room, complete with a piano. The bier had four tall candles burning at the corners, and on it was the body of Ned. I felt scared until a hearty voice said, “Welcome, Penelope and Alice!” He was alive, handsome, and tan and looked twenty years younger than my Uncle George. He did not encounter the stress of everyday life and he was rolled out onto the rooftop to get some sun whenever possible.

What had happened to him was that when he was about 30, he had been suddenly overcome by a mysterious medical condition which left his body totally paralyzed for life and also blind!! To shorten the story, he continued to maintain his friendships with the literary and theatrical elite, without a trace of self pity, and took the time from that day on to befriend me, to encourage, and to guide me in times of adolescent crises. He became my spiritual confessor. I was to surface as an example of his kindness and wisdom in the biography written about him after his death, The Man who Lived Twice by Eric W. Barnes. Perhaps in the next CREDO I can tell the story, as it is an example of the unreasonable social mores of the 1930s. Ned always communicated by telegram, which in those days, consisted of a tickertape message pasted on a folded yellow Western Union envelope.

There is a saying, “Every saint was once a sinner.” One of the most controversial ideas that Jung came up with was that “Christ” might sometimes wear the mask of the “Devil” in order to teach us.

I suggest to anyone reading this, to look back over your own life and, in the privacy of your conscience, look at your own past and see where you might have made a mistake, a definition of which came to me years ago: A mistake is a loop in consciousness made to expose a greater surface to experience. My youthful error was that when I became conscious of a psychological or behavioral mistake, I thought I was free of it. Not so! I had to apply the new insight. I then had the idea of Christ’s seamless garment, presumably his aura; by contrast, most of us have holes in ours, but when we learn the lesson, we fill that hole and it’s on to the next one. This must be the distinction between being holey and wholly holy! (Forgive me!)

More in my next CREDO!

lovingly,
ao

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Zodiacs – CREDO CXXXIV


There is a big flap going on about astrology in the news. It is based on ignorance. To clarify matters: there are two zodiacs. The sidereal zodiac which is Sun centered and the tropical zodiac which is Earth centered. Astrologers use the tropical zodiac as we live on the earth! But that is only part of the wonder. At the moment of spring, when the sun appears to cross the Earth's equator, stop the clock, and observe. That moment is called the Point of the Vernal Equinox. Imagine a clock hand at this moment pointing out, past the Sun, to the actual stars of the constellations; you would find that it is moving counterclockwise 1 degree every 72 years. Where it lands determines the Age we live in, and it is moving backwards into the constellation of Aquarius, through the spatial interface, from that of Pisces. (This feature was discovered by Hipparchus of Alexandria in approx. 200 BC!) This motion is called the Precession of the Equinoxes.

The Earth-centered tropical zodiac moves through the signs yearly in the natural clockwise direction of Aries, Taurus, etc., so, you have a wheel within a wheel. It takes approx 26,000+ years for the Point to traverse all the constellations, and this is referred to as a Platonic Year.

The flap is caused by confusing the sidereal zodiac with the tropical one, which astronomers frequently do! The Ages have a collective impact on our history, mythology, and psychological evolution that I have outlined in my book The Heavens Declare: Astrological Ages and the Evolution of Consciousness. What is fascinating is that there is physical proof in history, archaeology, and mythology. For instance, during the Age of Taurus, the Bull was worshipped all over the world, and this coincides with the first evidence of humanity moving from a nomadic to a settling down in one place, thanks to agriculture, providing for “civilization.” People had land, and presumably prayed for good weather and no plagues, etc., thereby projecting a sense of property. Even today, we speak of the market being “bullish”!

However, the individual horoscope is based upon the tropical zodiac and is determined by the time, longitude, and latitude of an individual’s birth and gives a psychological guide to how a person is likely to process experience.

I realize that this is a complex explanation but, hopefully, it sheds some light on the matter!

lovingly,
ao

Sunday, January 9, 2011

UFOS – CREDO CXXXIII


There was a piece on AOL recently about UFOS (Unidentified Flying Objects), and I feel the need to express my experiences with them. My husband Walter and I not only saw them 7 or 8 times in the late 1980s and ’90s but discovered that a number of other neighbors also saw them but were too shy to mention them because they were afraid to be considered nuts! My husband was convinced they were aliens but, as a Scorpio, I am reluctant to define them, so what follows is an accurate description of what we saw, and I ask that you trust my veracity. I kept notes in a red book, which has since vanished, when I was moved from my upstairs bedroom when I became ill and was presumed to be dying.

The first time coincided with the night we watched The Pink Panther. We had gone to bed and the lights were out. We happened to look out the large picture window adjacent to our bed, and Walter noticed a very bright light, about the size of Jupiter, shoot across the sky and stop in mid-air, change direction and shoot across the treetops and stop again, totally motionless. This defied gravity! I volunteered to go down for our binoculars. In my absence, Walter noted that a plane moved slowly across the sky with blinking lights and the UFO went dark, but the minute the plane vanished, the UFO lit up again and continued to zap to and fro across the sky. I called two neighbors and they also witnessed it. None of us had seen such a spectacle before. Finally, my husband tired and said he would sleep but I watched for another half hour in a total daze of shock, thinking of the implications of what we had seen.

I will mention another time, a few years later that was outstanding. We were driving home from Connecticut, and, as we approached Monterey, we saw two of them over the treetops, so we stopped on the shore of Lake Garfield and turned off our car lights. This time we had a much clearer close-up view. These were pinkish in hue and were shaped like frisbees and rotating. It was as if they had windows around the rim. They continued to dance and dart around joyfully. At no time were we afraid.

My darling husband died in 1998, and I saw the last one after his death. I was still upstairs, and this UFO was very large, and came closer, and frightened me a bit with its brilliance and proximity. Since then I have not seen any because I fell ill and had to be moved downstairs. My teenaged grandson Cameron saw one later but since it moved in a straight line, I think it might have been a satellite orbiting on a mission?

Now years later, there are photographs, reports from airline pilots, and other witnesses in abundance, so there is no longer any doubt of their existence, and the general public no longer scoffs at them, it seems.

Winston Churchill confessed that he saw one years ago, but felt that revealing this would cause needless alarm in the British public.

Hopefully, in the coming years, scientists will come up with a plausible explanation but for now they remain Unidentified Flying Objects!

lovingly and truthfully,
ao