Friday, June 17, 2011
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.
Monday, June 6, 2011
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!