Taking a break from the news over the weekend, I had not paid attention to the emergence of Naked Athena until I heard NPR’s Michel Martin talk with Portland NAACP President E. D. Mondainé about ongoing protests taking place there. Martin begins saying:
“Let me just go to the piece that you wrote. It’s gently worded, but it’s very tough in its message. You said that I don’t believe it’s a time for spectacle; unfortunately, spectacle is now the best way to describe Portland’s protests. Vandalizing government buildings and hurling projectiles at law enforcement draw attention. But how do these actions stop police from killing Black people? Was there a particular moment in the course of all this that made you feel this way? I mean, in your piece, you speak about the woman who’s being described as Naked Athena…”
Reality is Messy & There is Never One Simple Narrative to Explain It, Ever
I had to see Naked Athena in Portland, OR. When I found her, I did not see spectacle. I saw splendor. For centuries, women have live under lopsided male-centered, patriarchal cultural bondage. It goes on today taking many forms, but the core impulse is to control women and deny them their rights as a human being–often cruelly and violently. The same weekend as Naked Athena made her appearance in Portland, teenage girls were harassed and spit on by the Moral Police in Iran. I heard this report on the BBC and found it written up in UK The Daily Mail.
“An Iranian undercover morality agent spat at teenage girls and asked them ‘where’s your dirty owner?’ after seeing them without a hijab. In a shocking video, which has been circulating on social media, a man stops his car and gets out before hurling abuse at the youngsters.”
Think again. Reality is never as simple as we would like it to be as human beings. It never has been, nor will it ever be. But our propensity as a species to simplify reality is tremendous. It always has been, and probably always will be.
In times long past, humans used myth, folklore, and magical tales to explain complicated, perplexing, and frightening things that confronted them and challenged their survival. In my last blog, The Beautiful Gift of Outrage, I give an example of old Scottish folklore about fairies that swap out a healthy human baby and replace it with a changeling to explain why a new born infant would fail to thrive. They did not know modern medicine. They did not understand that their newborn baby was sick and needed care, not to be left out on a fairy hill to see if the fairies would bring the real child back to them. But our species has created many stories that now days sound strange and outlandish to explain the unexplainable.
And, we are still doing it today.
Untied States of Conspiracy
Frontline is airing an episode tonight titled: The United States of Conspiracy. Also, Fareed Zakaria aired a special on CNN about Conspiracy Theories; Mondaire Jones; Hillary 2016 Communications Director; Your Anecdotal Census; and Protesting During a Pandemic. Both of these episdoes explore the deep roots of misinformation entering into American culture, politics, and the rise of Trump who has long purported kooky conspiracy theories, such as the birther theory hurtled against President Barack Obama. Trump used this cockeyed theory to launch his political career (or more aptly to launch his political farce and mockery of democracy). Zakaria covers all the conspiracy theories of the past 50 years, including one of the most recent to emerge: QAnon, which is a far-right conspiracy theory detailing a supposed secret plot by an alleged “deep state” against U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters. Zakaria makes the connection between believing in fairies and fairytales in times past to believing in whimsical, outlandish, bizarre conspiracy theories today. Doing so, provide simple, linear explanations to reality, especially to people who feel like they are losing control of their lives or their values or their culture.
From the Frontline report , a write up says:
“The United States of Conspiracy includes a striking sequence that illustrates how Trump adopted Jones’ claims — voicing them publicly in a way that shocked even InfoWars staffers as he ran for the highest office in the land.”
As 2015 drew to a close, then-candidate Donald Trump made an appearance that was unprecedented in the history of modern presidential campaigns.
It was on InfoWars, the hard-right outlet run by extremist conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, a trafficker in false information who had exploited national tragedies from 9/11 to Newtown. And it was brokered by Trump’s longtime associate Roger Stone, a frequent InfoWars guest, in a bid to win over Jones’ millions of viewers.
A new FRONTLINE documentary traces how the alliance between Jones and Trump, facilitated by Stone, would help to bring conspiracy theorist thought into the political mainstream — ushering in the current era, in which misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic has spread like the virus itself.
Everything. The spectacle is Trump and the rise of modern myths and fairytales that millions of people believe–stories that are just as strange and farfetched as fairies and changelings. Trump is taking advantage of this human fallibility to win. He got away with it in 2016, but reality is catching up with him. The Coronavirus refuses to comply to his fairytale, and his complete and utter failure to deal with it is causing him to lose in the polls. Of course, he is losing in the polls because of this. We are nearing 150,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19. Meanwhile, many European and Asian countries have successfully gotten the novel virus under control so they can reopen their economies safely and mark COVID deaths in the hundreds… not the hundreds of thousands. But, not us.
What exactly does 150,000 deaths looks like? What if all these deaths were concentrated in one geographic location? What would it look like?
It would be like losing McAllen, Mesquite, and Killeen, Tex.; Dayton, Ohio; Fullerton, Orange, Valencia, Torrance, Pomona, and Pasadena, Calif.; Syracuse, Borough Park, Astoria, and East Hampton, N.Y.; Savannah, Ga.; Bridgeport, Conn.; Naperville, Rockford, and Joliet, Ill.; Paterson, N.J.; Clarksville, Tenn.; Hollywood, Fla.; Kansas City, Kan.; Alexandria, Va.; or Springfield, Mass. Eric A. Gordon captures this for us to imagine in a compelling article titled: 150,000 dead of coronavirus in U.S.: What monument will they have?
So Trump needs a distraction. He needs his loyal believers of his fairy tale about reality to not look at the real spectacle of this moment–his utter lack of interest and ability to deal with reality–but to believe that America is falling into the clutches of the fatal-thinking, wacky left wing democrats. So, what does he do? He co-opts the beautiful, genuine cascade of Black Lives Matter protests and marches that are sweeping across the country, and across the world, after the brutal murder of George Floyd by a white police officer who believed he could get away with murder. Well, he didn’t. Here is a map a professor created of all the protests around the world evoked by George Floyd’s death.
This is the battle Trump is fighting. He is turning a long overdo moral accounting of White Privilege into an urban war to scare the hell out of his core supporters. He and his collaborators (like Barr) are not interested in saving or protecting human lives. If so, Trump would be sending PPE and swabs to hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, clinics in the 70% of the country he said not to look at when he was telling America how well we were doing in combating the coronavirus. He would be much more concerned with human life (black, brown, elderly, and everyone else) rather than abusing his power as President of the United States of America to protect a building in Portland. In the same insane compulsion to win the 2020 election, Trump is systematically and cruelly undermining all the hope and promise that the Black Lives Movement is bringing into the light of day. This means coming to terms and reckoning with everything this country has done to black and brown people–slavery, Jim Crow laws, Redlining, endemic impoverishment of black and brown people due to racism and structural inequalities putting white people first, and police brutality.
This is Trump’s War. He is making sure these changes don’t happen on his watch and that’s why his supporters need to reelect him in 2020, but what he keeps hidden to himself is that he doesn’t have an ounce of empathy for his supporters. He does not care what happens to them after he is elected. He is demonstrating this right now in more outlandish ideas about miracle cures for COVID-19 citing a doctor (just yesterday) who talks about demon sperm. He just wants to serve himself to more helpings of greed and gluttony for another four years.
Wag the Dog
Most U.S. Presidents who have gotten in trouble just before their second term are fabled to begin a war to keep in power. Trump’s war is with Americans. He is sending in federal troops (many contracted military units not trained to deal with lawful protesters) to stir up trouble precisely so he can get great photos and video footage to bolster his lopsided narrative of America falling into chaos and violence. This is the spectacle.
Naked Athena is the beautiful emergence of ancient knowledge and wisdom of dealing with men like Trump and the troops his has sent into cities that do not want them there. It is no accident she was named Naked Athena–the Goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. These ancient Gods and Goddesses are not dead because we no longer believe in them. They live inside of us. They are part of us. They are the building blocks of our psyches that hold the energies inside each of us that move us to take action. How that action is expressed depends on the constellation of archetypes that begin to take shape when we are born and become consolidated when the ego is born at the moment of the Primal Split, as defined through Melanie Klein’s work and object relations theory. Archetypes were first described by Carl Jung. They are poorly understood by modern humans, but they hold the psychological templates of everything that we feel and do: love, fear, greed, war. If we do not pay attention to them and the balance of our inner worlds, they can get triggered and take over our minds–sometimes this is good, often it is bad. They can also emerge collectively in moments like these and quickly turn into monsters. Naked Athena placed herself between the beasts of our collective rage on both sides of the divide. She emerged at the right moment like soothing rain to calm the archetypes rising in rage against each other. That’s what the ancient myths, legends, and folklore are all about. They are stories about our own abilities to create reality or to destroy it. To me, Naked Athena is a beautiful counter force to hate and violence–in her nakedness, she is vulnerable and unadorned by trappings of modern civilization, placing her body bravely in the middle of the line of conflict. Some say this is the moment that these protests descended into spectacle. I say, it is a moment they ascended into a realm of transformation and good trouble. We must remember how to travel and navigate our inner spaces. This is where things become cloudy, inside the mind, for the body is a clear place.
Appendix of Resources
I am not going to digest all these things here, but all of them feed into my ideas about why Naked Athena is part of the Splendor of this moment rather than the Spectacle of it. White people have a lot to work out now and a lot of it is between other white people. So much has been hidden, kept secret, silently enforced. There is a reckoning going on many levels and the streams inevitably will spilt, but the force all of them are pushing back against is the spectacle of Trump, his base, and his collaborators, not naked Athena or any of the protests going on that include examples of Good Trouble and Bad Trouble, yes, reality is messy and there is not one easy, simple, all-inclusive narrative to explain any of it.
A flawed response to a global pandemic. A string of falsehoods concerning the efficacy of mail-in voting. A violent and undemocratic response to nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.
The president of the United States has a lot to answer for in the eyes of his critics.
Ibram X. Kendi is the author of “How to Be an Antiracist” and the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. He’s written a cover story for The Atlantic detailing how President Donald Trump’s racism has forced America to confront its own, especially the prejudiced systems which have allowed the oppression of minority communities in the United States.
Ed Yong is a staff writer for The Atlantic. He recently published a piece for the same magazine painstakingly detailing the numerous failures and inadequacies in the federal government’s approach to combating the coronavirus. Yong explores how the underfunding of medical resources left minority communities particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, contributing to the country’s skyrocketing death toll.
We ask both of them: Is America ready to reckon with its past? And what happens to America’s future?
This is a five-minute listen that is time well spent. One of the thing Jonah says is ‘we are going to see glorious video clips of how violent and degenerate America has become in future Trump for President ads and during the republican national convention.’
Seattle mayor calls Trump’s response to protests ‘un-American’ — Protesters and police again clashed in a number of U.S. cities over the weekend, including Portland, Oregon, and Seattle. President Trump has defended sending federal law enforcement to the cities, but many local officials say their presence is only exacerbating the existing unrest. Amna Nawaz reports and talks to the mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan, about what she’s seeing in her city.
I found the following part of this interview particularly compelling:
Amna Nawaz: Mayor Durkan, I should point out, your critics will point to the fact that, for weeks, protesters several weeks ago had basically taken control of a few downtown city blocks.Your police chief had to go in earlier this month with heavy machinery and riot gear to clear that area. There was already concern about violence over the weekend. The police chief called it a riot on Saturday night.Do you think that the presence of federal forces could help quell these protests before they get out of control, and something similar to what happened before happens again, where protesters are able to take over some chunk of city space?
Jenny Durkan: I think that when you saw that the area on Capitol Hill that we were able to return to normal, that our police were able to go in there and clear that area with very little conflict and restore it back to a place that all the neighborhood and businesses could enjoy it.Contrast what’s going on in Portland, where, night after night after night, it is proven that what they’re doing is not working. They have not quelled anything. To the contrary, they have escalated it.So I do not believe that there’s any evidence whatsoever that any of the strategies that the president is trying to employ will lead to peace. And I don’t think he wants it to.He’s been very clear that what he is doing is targeting cities that are led by Democrats to show that there can be division and the lack of law and order, so that he can run on that as a president.That kind of political maneuvering of law enforcement really is un-American. And I think it’s dangerous for us to go down that path.
Amna Nawaz: Mayor Durkan, very briefly, you weren’t told before the current federal team that’s on the ground in Seattle was sent in. Do you have any assurance you will be told in advance of any further deployment?
Jenny Durkan: So, the assistant secretary did say he would call the chief of police and myself if the posture changed. But I know that — look, there’s one person who’s guiding the activities of this administration, and that’s the president of the United States. And so, regardless of assurances that anyone else might give me or any other local government official, we have to take the president at his word. And he keeps escalating his rhetoric, and then the behavior follows that rhetoric. And so, as a mayor of a city, I will tell you, I do need the federal government’s help. I need more testing for COVID-19. I need to make sure that, as this health emergency gets worse, that my hospitals can withstand it. I need the kids who are hurting not going to be back in school to be able to learn. That’s the kind of help we need from this federal government that we don’t get. A president should step forward and lead the nation. And, instead, he’s dividing the nation. And I think it’s a really dangerous time for America to be on this point of inflection in our history. And what — our choices today will decide what happens for generations of Americans to come.
When Trump first pulled this stunt (with Attorney General William P.Barr serving as his hedge man and is is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee this very day about this despicable day of failed democracy), I published this short video blog:
“White supremacy has made recent local news, between Jeremy Christian’s murder trial in Portland, and the presence of white nationalist groups in rallies across the state. A special edition of the Oregon Historical Quarterly is out now, that reminds residents that the problem is actually rooted deep in state history.
KLCC’s Brian Bull talked to the journal’s editor, Eliza Canty-Jones. Bull asked how ingrained white supremacy is in Oregon’s settlement.”
Chris Cuomo and Difference Between Good and Bad Trouble — The CNN anchor went on to define what is “good trouble” and “bad trouble.” Cuomo echoed Lewis’ assertion that the Black Lives Matter movement was “good trouble,” but noted that the “riots” and “touching to hurt” and “destroy” was not included, suggesting that focusing more on the violence rather than the protests is “bad trouble at work.”
This is a Fox News report. I watched this broadcast when Chris Cuomo made these comments and did not come to the conclusions being made in the Fox article. But, we all do this, twist what we see and hear to fit our narratives. Trump is a master in doing this. He has a natural born instinct how people are reacting and how to twist any reality playing out in front of him to appeal to his willing supporters and collaborators
“To the American reader, references to Vichy France, East Germany, fascists, and Communists may seem over-the-top, even ludicrous. But dig a little deeper, and the analogy makes sense. The point is not to compare Trump to Hitler or Stalin; the point is to compare the experiences of high-ranking members of the American Republican Party, especially those who work most closely with the White House, to the experiences of Frenchmen in 1940, or of East Germans in 1945, or of Czesław Miłosz in 1947. These are experiences of people who are forced to accept an alien ideology or a set of values that are in sharp conflict with their own.”
One of the powerful things Applebaum said during this interview is that politics are just ideas that men and women form in their minds, then get together to try to implement in society, nothing more. Often these ideas have nothing to do with the reality of the people. Rather, they tend to be overly idealized and simplified ideas of how to run a civilization. For Trump, it is even more lopsided because he knows the ideas he promotes has nothing to do with reality. To him, it is a game to see how many people he can get to believe them.
The example of the old Scottish folklore about fairies swapping out a healthy human baby and replacing it with a changeling, comes from Outlander. Claire is the lead character of this series, and she would soon find out why her friend Geillis Duncan warned her not to go up the Fairy Hill. Claire did not listen. She searched for the child, but found it too late. It died from exposure. All she could do was hold it tenderly; her heart broken because she could not find it in time. Her beloved Jamie finds her, puts the baby back in the tree, and takes her home… telling her perhaps believing the real child will live forever with the fairies will bring comfort to the parents who lost their child.
In the next episode or so, we find out why Geillis warned Claire not to go up the Fairy Hill. She was not warning Claire about the fairies, but the town’s people. When Claire and Geillis get arrested and put on trial for being witches, Claire listens in horror as the mother of the child she tried to save testifies to her witchery and spells. She realizes as she listens and looks at all the town’s people crammed into the court that they are turning into an alien, broiling, in-human lump of hate and violence that seeks only one thing: To see her and Geillis burned alive. The Fairy Hill was a metaphor for the townspeople who lived in a one-sidedness that was unsustainable. The monster inside of them all had to be let out once in a while, and it was coming out now as she and Geillis were about to be killed by these gentle folk. They were they fairies, and they were turning into zaries right before her eyes–evil, mischievous, in-human things.
Recently, my husband and I watched the movie: In the Heart of the Sea. It is based on a true story about a whaling ship the Essex that was rammed by a sperm whale in 1820. The whale sunk the Essex about 3,000 miles from the shores of South America. Several books have been written about this disaster then and since. The movie is based on a book of the same name written by Nathaniel Philbrick and published on May 8, 2000. It won the National Book Award for Nonfiction that same year. The movie does an admirable job dramatizing events that led up to the sinking of the Essex and the crew’s 90-day struggle to survive storms, hunger, and despair. The movie also depicts how Herman Melville came to write his magnum opus, Moby Dick, though there are some inaccuracies in this part of storyline as well as in the main plot (see the video below). I think it is interesting to note that Melville was born on August 1, 1819 (one year before the Essex sunk). He died September 28, 1891. Moby Dick was published in 1851, essentially the middle span of his life.
The movie begins with Melville tracking down the last living survivor of the Essex, Thomas Nickerson (this is not historically accurate).
From Wiki: “In 1850, author Herman Melville visits innkeeper Thomas Nickerson, the last survivor of the sinking of the whaleship Essex, offering money in return for his story. Nickerson initially refuses, but then finally agrees when his wife intervenes. The story turns to 1820: A whaling company in Nantucket has refitted the Essex to participate in the lucrative whale oil trade, and 14-year-old Nickerson signs on as a cabin boy.” Wikipedia: In the Heart of the Sea
According to the movie, the rainy night Melville arrives, Thomas is consumed by his inner demons because he has never spoken about his ordeal. It is eating him up from the inside and causing hardships for himself and his wife. After some back and forth about the money Melville is offering Thomas to tell his tale, Thomas finally relents. Melville is shown listening and taking notes while Thomas sinks into the memories that are haunting him. I will not retell any more of the movie, except to highlight a few scenes that stood out to me as relevant to me personally and to our time, which is presently 2020. This is exactly 200 years after the Essex was sunk by a whale, which is weird… but I’ll get to that later.
The first thing that struck me as pertinent to our time was the importance of whale oil to the life and commerce of the early 1800s. It was whale oil that lit the Western World from Europe to the Americas, and then following the fracture lines of colonization to light the entire world. The movie does an excellent job depicting how the whaling industry operated. It shows how the corporations of this time were eager to mine the fortunes to be had from whale oil. And, it would become painfully clear just how willing these corporations were of doing despicable things in order to safeguard their money, their hierarchical structure, and their systems of commerce focused on profit at all costs.
At the end of the movie, there is a scene that hints at the discovery of oil that comes from out of the ground. It is a nod to the fossil fuel industry that will soon replace the whaling industry in less than 40 years after the sinking of the Essex. It is also a nod to the transfer of blueprints from hard-hearted industry to another. However, before the whaling industry would decline, nearly every species of whale is hunted to the brink of extinction. I could barely watch the scenes in this movie when the men of the Essex successfully hunted and killed a beautiful bull whale, then stripped him of every ounce of fat he had, which they boiled down to make the treasured Nantucket whale oil. By 1820, whales in the Atlantic had grown scarce. Thus, the Essex had to sail around Cape Horn, a dangerous strait between South America and Antarctica, to reach the whales in the Pacific. But, even here the whales were being hunted aggressively, and so they were moving further and further away from the continents to get away from man. But, man followed them.
* * *
The next scene I feel is germane to our time was when the men were boarding the Essex in Nantucket Bay. On the docks, there is a group of pilgrim-like people who are praying for the men as they board the Essex. You can see this scene at 6 minutes and 30 seconds in the video below. The preacher is heard saying:
“Oh Father (…) ensure they return safely with a full ship, so that the white flames of Nantucket’s whale oil continue to light our homes and fuel the machines of industry that drive our great nation forward as our noble species evolves…”
Clip of the Preacher’s Prayer from In the Heart of the Whale at minute 6:30
This idea of our species being noble and evolving ever forward plays out again after the Essex has been sunk. The men have been adrift for many days and nights and days. They are surviving on a single piece of hard tact per man per day, and a very small one at that. They are also allowed a single swig of water each day. Since the ship did not sink as dramatically as the movie depicts, the men had time to strip the Essex of her sails and supplies, but only what they could fit into the smaller boats they took out to chase whales, now turned into their life rafts. However, these three boats were hardly big enough to hold enough supplies so the men might survive their 3,000-mile journey back to civilization, especially since they were caught in the doldrums of the equatorial region of the sea. Thus, it does not take long before the men are slowly starving to death. Just before anyone dies, they come upon an island. It is a deserted island, but it provides a short respite from their ordeal. Soon; however, they eat up everything edible on the island. So, they have no choice but to shove off in their little boats again to try to reach the mainland if they want to live.
This is where the next scene occurs that I feel is closely connected to our time. It is the night before they are to set sail to try to make it back to South America. The first mate Chase speaks with the Captain Pollard about their differences. He is making a peace offering because he knows there is no other way to survive but to set aside all differences and work together from a place of unity. Chase comes from a working-class background. He is a man who knows his trade, which is whaling, and he is very good at it. According to the movie, he was supposed to have received commanded of the Essex, but it was taken from him because of his social class. It was given to Pollard instead because he came from a rich family within the whaling industry. But, Pollard did not know his trade, not like Chase did. Needless to say, there were problems. Pollard accepts Chase’s peace offering, but continues to cling to the idea of the supremacy of man saying something like… “God put us here to circumvent navigate the world and rule over all creatures.” Chase replies, “Does it look like we are so supreme given where we are at right now and what has happened to us.” Neither men at this moment has any idea how much worst their situation is going to get, but I think Chase senses things are probably going to get worse before they get better. And, they do get worse–-they get a whole lot worse.
* * *
After the movie, I thought I might dream about a white whale ramming the Essex. But I did not dream about a whale. Instead, I thought about all the signs I missed one month earlier when my beloved dog Cider died in my arms.
That terrible night occurred two days before Christmas. Her heart was racing so fast and her breathing labored. Her body was suffocating because it could no longer keep up with the depletion of hemoglobin in her blood. This was because she was bleeding internally, but we did not know this. The signs were subtle, even the doctors to whom we took her dead body in hopes they could revive her said it would have been hard for them to diagnosis her in time to save her. The symptoms she had displayed, I completely misread and misunderstood. I will not recap this super sad story. You can read it in the previous blog post, but her sudden and tragic death set me back adrift upon my inner sea of sadness, grief, despair, and now guilt, growing waves of guilt. It is a sea that has steadily risen inside me after a decade of struggle that got a whole lot worst just after our family vacation in 2015.
This would be the last vacation our family could afford due to mounting unfortunate and deteriorating circumstances. Now with hindsight (and this movie), I can see that this moment was when our family shoved off from our desert island. We had no idea we had already been rammed by the whale, or maybe I should say the buffalo or bull–or perhaps the buffalos were trying to bring our attention to our imminent danger just ahead of us in time. This really happened to us that summer.
After this trip, every fragile idea and frame of reality we had ever harbored about what it takes to create and sustain a home and maintain safety and security would be shattered, one painful one after another for 5 years in ways that were unreturnable to what we had known before. When people find themselves in such circumstances, overwhelming guilt is inevitable for how else can one confront such devastating losses and continue moving forward? The only other feelings I can say that I was aware of underneath the guilt was terrible despair, overwhelming helplessness, and a rumbling anger… a dangerous anger because this type of anger can blow up into hate, especially when a person feels abandoned, forgotten, or even worst, discarded, dispensable, disposable.
So, you see, guilt is a pretty good armor during times like these because it masks these other more threatening and extreme emotions bubbling up from unfathomable depths and threatening to submerge one’s already shattered ego. At least by feeling guilty, a thin veneer gets created, making a papery barrier that insulates the conscious part of one’s self from those other parts where these powerful emotions churn–and where one can feel these emotions could transform into forces that could sink the listing Ship of Self.
When our frames of reality are first shattered, the feeling of being cast adrift on a vast and foreign sea is almost inescapable. And perhaps it is necessary for these old frames pretty much have to be shattered or abandoned, just like the Essex had to be abandoned after it was rammed by the whale. This is so because they have failed us in significant and fatal ways. After one abandons the mother ship that had been carefully constructed by one’s former smaller frames of reality, one is suddenly confronted with a vast and bigger reality–one that is a great deal bigger–like Pacific Ocean bigger. And, this reality can be brutal. When one finds oneself adrift on this great Sea of Misfortune and Sorrow and sailing in a boat that is too small to sustain you for long, or even worse, clinging to a piece of wreckage, pretty much the only thing you can do is hold on for dear life. One also lacks the most basic tools to navigate by, so it can be hard to get one’s orientation. It is a lot like the situation the men who abandoned the Essex found themselves in without their tools of navigation, or at least, very few of them, which they needed to find their way back to civilization.
If you can hold on during such extreme times, and there is no guarantee that you can because I am talking about catastrophic circumstances that happen to perfectly normal and good people. These are events that come out of nowhere, they cannot be predicted, and they occur through no fault or short coming of the individual (well at least not from our current frames of reality, the ones we are taught from birth and punished if we don’t follow the rules our modern systems purport… so there is a bigger thing going on). These are events that just happen, and they happen to everyone like weather. They are crippling events, even lethal, regardless of whether they originate from inside oneself or come from outside like the whale who rammed the Essex. Now, I understand it is hard to spot a person in such a state. After all, they have ventured outside of the normal frames of reality in which we have all been taught to operate and to stay inside. Thus, such a person may be as hard to spot as the men of the Essex who were 3,000 miles from where most of the other humans who could have helped them were congregated. However, if you do happen to spot someone enduring such trauma and crisis, it is essential to believe this person and be kind to them. Pay them extra attention, so they know they are not disposable like a piece of trash to be thrown away because they are broken at the moment. It is important to do this because these individuals have survived a disaster, and they now possess information about reality that those of us who have not endured such a trial of survival still need to know in order to grow.
It is difficult and draining to support a person in crisis. I will not lie about that. And, inevitably survivors begin to grapple with the whys: why me, why now, why my beloved, why is the world like this? This is hard too, and these are not easy questions to answer. In fact, often they cannot be answered, only endured. But, catastrophic situations might be essential for our collective survival because they force us to confront our most cherished ideas, beliefs, and frames of reality. They force us to grapple with the unanswerable and re-examine how we have come to our beloved beliefs and mental frames, but ones that have kept vast parts of ourselves submerged in our unconsciousness–good parts and bad parts. When we begin to see these parts as a whole, we start to understand how they are essential to be integrated into our growing field of consciousness. Both superior and inferior qualities are essential to help us make more balance choices and live more wisely. With parts of ourself still submerged, we tend to move through the world in a lopsided way. We get stuck just like the men from the Essex who got caught in the doldrums. We do not move forward any more. Rather, we go around in smaller and smaller circles. It is only when we confront and integrate these lost parts of ourself that we can begin to move forward again. And, if bad things continue to happen, we have grown a deeper reservoir of fresh water inside ourselves, this is wisdom, and we can draw on it to help survive and recover from our ordeals a little more quickly.
Eventually, as we continue to do inner work, we also confront the knowledge that what we did not know or understand contributed to the situation that caused us so much pain and suffering and to those we love. This can be difficult knowledge to bear. However, it is precisely this sort of knowledge that help us grow and transform ourselves and our situation. It is a choice of course to grow, and if we do choose to grow, then a lot of work is going to be needed to build a bigger boat. In fact, you are probably going to have to grow the wood, to turn into timber, to build your shiny new Ship of Self because now you are working beyond the frames of reality most people still must work within. This not easy. And, it can be very lonely. And, you need to build it yourself because only you have the blueprint for who you are and what you need to do. There will be many setbacks and challenges because no one has tried to be you before, and so you have to figure it out the hard way, which means lots of failures. So, I do not find fault with anyone who chooses to go back to a smaller frame of reality because, heck, it’s really scary out there. And, now the world has shown you just how harsh and dangerous it can be. And, it has also illuminated how utterly helpless you are. The biggest problem doing this is succumbing to a bunker mentality. So, moments like these tend to mold and shape us in the most significant ways…for the rest of our life… and these choices can ripple backwards and forwards along our thin strand of time… the one each of us spins and contributes to our shared reality.
But, if you choose to build this bigger Ship of Self, then just like Captain Pollard had to confront the idea of human beings a noble species put here by God to circumvent navigate the world and rule over all other creatures, you have to confront it too because it is an idea that forms some of the foundational aspects of Western Civilization. But, are we really so noble? Do we really possess the intelligence and wisdom needed to rule? I wonder if our species might have been better named Homo intelligentes rather than Homo sapiens. It seems to me we are still trying to get there…to wisdom.
I can say with absolutely certainty that I am not noble enough to rule the Earth, nor do I possess the intelligence, or more importantly the wisdom, essential to reign as a supreme being. But now I want to transition from this speculative stream of thought, to say 2015 was also the year this movie In the Heart of the Sea was released. I didn’t see it then. It turns out a lot of people didn’t see it then.
“In the Heart of the Sea was one of two flops released by Warner Bros in 2015, the other being Pan. It grossed $25 million in North America and $68.9 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $93.9 million, against a production budget of $100 million.” Wikipedia: In the Heart of the Sea
But, had I seen it in 2015, I would not have the thoughts I have now here in 2020; not that they are anything special, except possibly to me. During, these five years of mounting misfortune, wreckage, and deepening despair, I often saw myself floating on a piece of wreckage on an endless sea that I dubbed the Sea of Sorrow. It was an inner sea; I drew it many times, as the image below shows (see blog The Sea Within Us). It was also during this time that I came to understand how this sea had been created by my own unconscious choices, but I was not alone in these choices. I had been taught to make them by my culture, by the collective systems within which I must abide to survive. These are carefully crafted frames of reality created by mere mortals who were crafting corporations and all sorts of other systems to run our shiny new modern civilization. And, there are many systems that rule our civilized world: systems of commerce, systems of class, systems of favoritism, chauvinism, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, and many other isms and frames used to exclude certain people while elevating others.
And so, this is why I very much relate to the suffering and hardships of these men of the Essex. Though I must admit I also rooted for the bull whale protecting his pod after the men harpooned one of his females who had a calf. One might say I am divided individual, and Carl Jung would agree with this. Indeed, to be human is to be divided inside. It is another price for being consciousness. How we resolve this divide can determine everything.
After the bull whale successfully saved the mother and her calf, my sympathies returned to the men and their dire situation. Sure, they were surrounded by water, but it was water they could not drink. Sure, the sea was filled with abundant food, but it was food they could not reach. It was rather as if they floated on a vast desert, and actually that is what happens inside of us when we accept frames of reality that are ultimately too small for who we are and what we ultimately need to do in our life. The men of the Essex had most definitely ended up in the middle of the Pacific partly due to their own poor choices, but in a greater part, they ended up their due to the priorities and short-sightedness of the industry for which they worked. A system of commerce hungry for whale oil that made it impossible for the men to turn back home until they had filled their ship with this precious oil. A hunger that would soon be replicated in full within the nascent fossil fuel industry about to burst out of the ground–imagine that.
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The next day after watching this movie and not sleeping very well due to my great guilt over Cider’s death, my husband and I went for a run with our older surviving dog Sasha. I pointed up into the sky and said: “Look — that cloud looks like a White Whale.”
This was not the cloud I saw, but I think we have all seen clouds that look like White Whales at some point in our life. Captivated by the movie, and now by the cloud, a thought popped into my head: “The world has been struck by the White Whale again.”
It is clouds, is it not, that are being screwed up by climate change? Either they are growing too big and dropping too much water causing torrential floods, which are only supposed to happen every 100 years or so, but now seem to occur every other year around the world. Or, it is clouds that blow up into mega-typhoons and hurricanes that are far more devastating and deadly with terrible winds and tidal surges. Or, it is clouds that just don’t form at all, evaporating before they can release their precious water further inland from the sea, leaving the land dry and parched and extremely susceptible to wildfires and devastating famines due to droughts that never end.
Today, we live in a modern world that is populated by nearly 8 billion people, most of whom no longer understand the wisdom of our ancestors or the people who still live closely connected to nature and understand the balances necessary to sustain life. We live in a world where we no longer hear the wisdom of animals and life all around us, really enveloping us and sustaining us. We have become a people who are blinded by ideas of success, glory, and riches to be had in our grand new industrialized world. It is a world we created, but one begotten by short-sighted schemes and greed. And, there is a price for this too.
Recent data shows 2019 was the second hottest year on record.
As our man-made world, powered now by fossil fuels rather than whale oil, pushes nature’s delicate balances ever more out of whack, balances that nature worked out over billions of years, our framing of reality is snapping–just like the timbers of the Essex splintered after the whale rammed the ship. It is 200 year since the Essex sunk, and in this incredibly short amount of time, Earth is breaking, all because of our extreme enamoration with oil and coal.
The price for our collective short-sighted industriousness is going to be paid by all of us. No one will be spared the consequences of the choices made for far too long. We have changed the world to our liking, but it’s not to the liking of life. Despite this, corporate interests guarding their profit margins stay the course, like Captain Pollard going straight into the hurricane. It is a course that supersedes the needs of life on Earth… a dying Earth… an Earth rammed by the white whale. But this time, there is a twist to the story because this time we are the whale. We are the ones ramming our ship that is carrying us through the vast and desolate emptiness of space, and believe me, if we have to abandon this ship, where we end up is going to be a lot harsher than the Pacific Ocean, probably unendurable. This whale that is living inside us feeds on the powerful emotions that are found in great abundance within our inner Seas…of Sorrow, …of Despair, …of Grief and Guilt and …of Helplessness and Hate. Believe me, or don’t believe me, but modern life is full of people who have fallen into such seas.
If we happen to catch a glimpse of how our personal blindness and short-sightedness has contributed to this current moment, it is often overwhelming, and so, it is quickly concealed or we blame someone else for our sad and sorry fate. But soon, there will be no one else to blame. Soon, our individual seas will spill over and merge with every other sea spilling over to create one gigantic wave of despair for this will be the only emotion left to feel, if we survive that long. Much of this will be because of what our small frames of reality have wrought. Most likely, it will be a prolonged and brutal odyssey, just like the men of the Essex endured… unless we wake up, unless we change our frame of reality, unless we put aside our differences, unite, and help each other do the inner work essential to survive what is coming next.
This is not easy or pretty work, but what lies ahead of us is not easy or pretty either. Even though the situation is dire, each and every one of us can take action this very moment. This action is to heal ourselves and to help others heal. It requires one magical, elusive ingredient, which is love. It begins by self-love and being gentle with yourself. Love is what can stop this wave of destruction. But, love is work.
This is what I have learned about healing love:
Is quiet, unless it needs to roar.
Is kind, but not stupid.
Puts others needs above ones own needs and desires, but sees through false appeals for assistance and insincerity, then it simply nods and chuckles.
Listens, hears, and understands what others say.
Waits…sometimes a long time…without judgment… if judgement is necessary, love has a good argument with the Self… and pays attention to all the information, good and bad, then weighs it fairly with the intention of discovering truth and implementing justice.
Rearranges time to do the right thing… rescue a stray dog, listen to a lonely person, help someone in need… these are the moments that really matter… when someone else’s needs truly supersede your own.
Is inclusive knowing all beings are utterly dependent on each other to survive and thrive on Earth. Protects the rights, dignity, and well-being of all living beings.
Penetrates through everything… it is the great mixer of the universe, but even as it passes through every visible thing in the universe, it does not change or destroy a thing or being in any way, not like hate does, which also penetrates everything, but when it does, it rips things to pieces… love unites, bonds, supports, comforts, and sustains.
There are many other qualities to love. I still need to learn more. But, I am ready to keep learning. I am ready to deconstruct and reconstruct my frames of reality daily, if needed. Are you ready to do intense inner work? Are you ready to build a bigger Ship of Self by growing your own inner strength, resilience, wisdom, and capacity to love deeply? All of this is absolutely essential to be ready for the Great Transformation or whatever is supposed to come next because it has begun. There is no time to waste. Earth has already started listing severely to the side from the ramming we have given her.
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One final thought on the importance of doing inner work since I’m all worked up about it. Many people think that we are on the cusp of a Great the Transformation, a Shift, or Metamorphosis, or Great Awakening of Gaia…but if we have not done critical inner work to get ready for it, to grow big enough for it, whatever you think is coming next, will not necessarily be what you think it is supposed to be. Nature does not care one wick for the transformation of consciousness or even if we survive as a species (case in point, note what happened to the dinosaurs). If we leave it up to Her, we might just all be transformed into Banana Slugs (see the 2nd song in the video below: Muy Tranquil — it’s at about 8 minutes… ah Cider is in this video! It is a concept video for one of the characters in the story I am writing).
We are the ones who stepped across the Matrix of Minds into consciousness (I explain what this is in the story I am writing, which you can read when I finally get the 1st book out; otherwise, just make up your own explanation). Now, we must make a choice. One of the choices is to learn how to love ourselves fiercely. And, I am not talking about narcissistic love. I am talking about the kind of love that leaves us in great grief when our loved ones are taken from us through death. This is how we save Earth. It begins with you. It begins with healing yourself, and then helping others to do the same. It is time-consuming, messy work, and one slides backwards all the time, it’s very frustrating… but one does not give up and one does not wince when another to small frame of reality is shed. Of course, this is painful, but without pain we do not grow.
I have included my friend Alena’s paintings, lots of them, because she is showing us through her art how to get back to inner, deeper spaces inside ourselves through dreams and visions and imagination. It is only here where we can see inner storms rising and circumvent navigate them in order to survive them. It is here where we learn that we can live a lot more simply and happily than we have been told. It is here where we can learn how to see, feel, taste, and hear our way back to what is really important, and that is love. When we love fiercely, we fight for truth and justice. We fight for life and self-determination. We help each other grow our fields of consciousness, so that we can all make better choices. Alena brought my attention to Robert Moss who recently published a blog on soul loss and recovery. Much of what I have written above can also be understood as soul loss. This is a beautiful analogy to what happens to us when we face situations and circumstances that overwhelm and crush us. He says: “Understanding soul loss and how our Active Dreaming approach facilitates soul recovery and helps us become shamans of our own souls.”
So, activate your imagination…make time to dream…find ways to re-engage your inner world, and most of all love deeply. When you find yourself in grief, which is a natural consequence of deep love, do not fear it… embrace it. Let it help you shatter your previous frames of reality because they were probably too small for your soul, which needs a bigger body and mind to do what it came here to do, so grow! All the while, love yourself and help others in whatever way they need. We will not survive any other way unless we put aside our differences and unite as a force of healing love for life.
I wrote the following as a reflection from a series of conversations people from around the world had to discuss the climate crisis. As I looked through the wondrous materials considered and assembled by the Conference Weaving Now What? Deep Dives, I was dazzled by the jewels in the Now What?! Consciousness Deep Dive Conversation Harvest. Immediately, I thought of Indra’s Net. Before telling you why, it is important to understand what this net is. And, to find out more about Now What, visit the beautiful new site: Now What?!The art of being fully human in a time of crisis
Śūnyatā (emptiness) – This is a Buddhist concept that has multiple meanings depending on its doctrinal context. It is either an ontological feature of reality, a meditative state, or a phenomenological analysis of experience. [I believe for something new to emerge there must be space for it, thus this feature of reality both outer and inner is essential to all who seek to bring into the world a kinder, gentler, restorative reality.]
Pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination) – This concept “is commonly translated as dependent origination, or dependent arising, is a key principle in Buddhist teachings,[note 1] which states that all dharmas (“phenomena”) arise in dependence upon other dharmas: “if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist”. [I cannot think of a more essential concept to consider as we engage together in these sessions and others along with the weaving done afterwards. I always need to be reminded what dharma means. There is no single English translation for this word. Essentially it is the behaviors that make life in the universe possible. I think fits beautifully with us joining together in conversations that seek to understand and uplift behaviors that sustain life on our planet. If we don’t understand each other, we are indeed stuck.]
Interpenetration (coalescence) – This concept developed from the Huayan school. It holds all phenomena (dharmas) are deeply interconnected, mutually arising, and every phenomenon contains all other phenomena. Various metaphors and images are used to illustrate this idea. The first is known as Indra’s net. The net is set with jewels which have the extraordinary property that they reflect all of the other jewels, while the reflections also contain every other reflection, ad infinitum. The second image is that of the world text. This image portrays the world as consisting of an enormous text which is as large as the universe itself. The words of the text are composed of the phenomena that make up the world. However, every atom of the world contains the whole text within it. It is the work of a Buddha to let out the text so that beings can be liberated from suffering. [So, there you go. Perhaps this is why Indra’s Net popped into my mind as I read through the jewels, which is only a tiny piece of the harvest and this is even a tiny part of what is happening when we connect with each other and seek mutual understanding. We are indeed reflected in each other. We are the jewels in the Indra Net enveloping Earth.]
I imagine two wonderous Indra’s Net. One net holds our universe. It is woven by time and space that create the matrix holding everything we see in our universe. The second Indra’s Net is like the first, but this one wraps around our beautiful Earth. All life on Earth create the threads that are woven together to create this web. Humans have taken on an exaggerated importance in this web because of the level of consciousness we have attained. I am not going to delve into my thinking on this now…perhaps later… but suffice it to say we have changed the matrix from which we were born, and now we have a Herculean Task upon our shoulders to repair what has been damaged by us so life may continue to exist on this precious jewel in the larger Indra Net—Earth.
I think when we come together and listen to each other, we repair Earth’s net. Each of us has a special place and unique abilities that are needed to sustain Earth’s Indra’s Net. Each human being is informed by individual passions, interests, experiences, and failures. Some of us are really good at speaking, others are really good at organizing, still others are healers, and others bring visions. Each human being weaves part of this wondrous web enveloping Earth. To heal and repair our net, Earthneeds all our insights, energies, passions, and gifts.
So, this is the idea that struck me as I read the harvest material from the conferences, deep dives, and other conversations. It seems to me every human being is a jewel in Earth’s Indra’s Net. Through us the energy needed to repair, strengthen, and heal this netis made visible. We are essentially portalsof transformation, and it is going to take as many ofus pulling in the same direction as possible to change our collectivefate.
I have not had much time to read everything, nor did I have participate in the Deep Dives, but what I have seen is beautiful pieces of wisdom being pulled up from depths inside ourselves. Wisdom that has become submerged and lost due to current ways of thinking and living in our world. Let me stress the weaving being done through our collective action is utterly essential for the moment we are in now.
Given limits on my time at this moment, I am only able highlight a few of the jewels that caught my attention as I looked through the excellent excel chart being created to preserve some of the harvest from this collective work. There are also notes and videos of Deep Dives and from parts of the conferences taking place around the world. My selection of a few of the jewels in no way diminishes any of the other jewels.I am a simple and small portal of consciousness informed by my individual experiences, passions, dreams, and failures. All this naturally limits what I can see and how I see it. But, then thisis the beauty of Indra’s Net. Each jewel is unique and reflects every other jewel in the net. I suspect there are as many jewels in Earth’s Indra’s Net as there human beings alive on the planet, and the energy coursing through the webbing of this net is the wonderous life alive on Earth right now.
The first jewel I want to highlight is one that I saw reflected in several discussions. This is the jewel of sacred ceremony. We need to remember our thoughts are powerful. They are able to collapse the infinite sea of possibilities in which we all swim into a single thread of reality. We do this by thinking, choosing, and acting (or not acting). Moment by moment we contribute our strand of reality to all the other strands being created by every living being on the planet. As the strands interweave, this becomes our shared reality. Humans have become particularly powerful in sculpting our shared reality by using our minds gifted with consciousness (or cursed – as many world myths account this moment as man’s great fall). I write about this in other places, so I will not delve into my meaning here, but only say humans emerged from a more primordial state of consciousness into the state we understand it as today. This singular accomplishment allowed humans to not only perceive the world, but to apperceive it. I will talk more about this ability to apperceive our world later, but for now, I will simply provide you with a definition of it:
From Wiki: Meaning in psychology – In psychology, apperception is “the process by which new experience is assimilated to and transformed by the residuum of past experience of an individual to form a new whole.” In short, it is to perceive new experience in relation to past experience. The term is found in the early psychologies of Herbert Spencer, Hermann Lotze, and Wilhelm Wundt. It originally means passing the threshold into consciousness, i.e., to perceive. But the percept is changed when reaching consciousness due to the contextual presence of the other stuff already there, thus it is not perceived but apperceived.
Apperception is thus a general term for all mental processes in which a presentation is brought into connection with an already existent and systematized mental conception, and thereby is classified, explained or, in a word, understood; e.g. a new scientific phenomenon is explained in the light of phenomena already analyzedand classified. The whole intelligent life of man is, consciously or unconsciously, a process of apperception, in as much as every act of attention involves the appercipient process.
The next jewel is the significant of language in constructing our realities. Here again our ability of apperception is powerful for we have civilized and cultivated most of the world simply by seeing possibilities different from what nature originally provided for life to exist. And, so here we stand at the edge of every moment with this power to apperceive infinite possibilities, and language is the tool we use to share our visions of what is possible. So, yes, it is a commanding tool in constructing our shared realities because it allows us to cooperate in collective action.
It also comes with peril, as this group of jewels point out, for we can misunderstand each other if we do not take care in truly understanding how words are being used and what is truly being said. Our ability for language is an ability that we have perhaps grown too accustom to wielding. I really like the idea of reconnecting with other cultures and languages. This is a beautiful way to understand how utterly diverse our ability to communicate with each other is… and through communication, our ability to co-create. Human cultures and civilizations have unfolded in so many incredible and diverse ways across space and through time. So, getting stuck in our head with words that have become too small for our current reality is a trap, and it is good to learn how to get out of our self-created thought traps. Gaining perspective of different languages, different cultures, and even different ways of communication (e.g., dance, visual art, dreamtime, empathy), helps us re-appreciate our ability to communicate with each other in so many different ways. This I believe helps us to perceive nuances better for every word is really a universe. Here is one of my favorite shorts by Dr. Maya Angelou – Power Of Words.
The next jewel is learning to let go of the story. Here the question was asked: What are the actions I might take now that allow me to fully offer my gifts in service to what is needed in response to the possibility that everything is going to work our just fine or it is not going to work out? I think this is wonderful because it helps one to understand they can take an active role in telling the story unfolding right now about Earth and her fate (or a passive role). I think most of us began to believe (for me it was around the 6thgrade) that our voice does not matter, that our thinking will never be good enough, and that our internal knowledge is wrong and has no place in the world of educated men (I do use men here purposively).
To survive in our modern civilization, we learn how to bend ourselves and squeeze into the tiny boxes of perception and apperception that are allowed by the systems dictated to us by our modern, civilized world. Most of these systems come out of Western Civilization for this civilization has had a huge propensity to colonize the world with its particular brand of thinking and mindset. For humans living in modern Western systems, there are patterns for how to make money, where to live, how much free time to spend with friends, family, or anything else that is important, even how to think and use our minds. Since so many human beings are born into this system, we do not even realize how much control of our shared narrative we have given up by making ourselves fit into this story being told mostly by powerful ones inside of Western Civilization.
Most of us do not realize how shallow the conscious waters have become inside of this great narrative. But, we have been told we must swim only in these designated waters—conscious waters that are too shallow to sustain us much longer. I think other cultures and civilizations have not taught this out of their people. This is why we need our indigenous brothers and sisters, but we do not need to misuse their precious knowledge (as another Jewel cautions), rather this knowledge is inside every person trapped inside Western thinking, we need to marshal our courage and venture back into the deep end of our conscious capacities. This is where our indigenous brothers and sisters can be guides, but we must do the work. And, help each other to take a more active role in telling our personal story that becomes part of the collective story…this is so important. Active storytelling is a precious jewel—indeed, it is a super ability.
Another really critical element in this list of jewels is letting go of the ending of the story. When we let go of what we hope or want the ending to be, we put ourselves squarely in the present moment. This is where our power is. It is not in the past (we’ve already been there). It is not in the future (we are not there yetand thusour choicesare only future possibilities). It is NOW—this is where we choose our thread of shared reality. This is where our voice can help guide the flow of the collective story being told about Earth and its inhabitants. By letting go of our attachmentto what the ending needs to be or should be, suddenly all possibilities open up again.
In this moment of infinite possibilities, we can get about doing what we are so good at doing. In fact, we have evolved as human beings to not only perceive the beautiful world around us, but to appercept it. I am using apperception in the psychological meaning of this word, as defined earlier: “the process by which new experience is assimilated to and transformed by the residuum of past experience of an individual to form a new whole.” With this ability, we become transformers. It is what we do better than any other species on the planet, and that is to take our individualized toolbox (the mind) equipped with individualized knowledge, experience, and hopefully wisdom and create something new. Even when we don’t employ our wisdom, when we choose from the infinite number of possibilities swirling around us every momentof every dayand act on one, we collapse the infinite stream of possibilities into one possibility. This becomes our thread of reality.
So you see, we are more powerful than we think… and yet, just like the Buddhist concept of Pratītyasamutpāda, we are completely dependent on each other making the best choices possible to survive within our shared reality—the web we weave together. What a dilemma!
The world cannot be saved by one human being, not even by the most powerful and rich 1 percent of human beings. I don’t know how many it is going to take to save Earthfrom the looming climate crisiswe have woven into the story, but it is probably going to take asmany of us as possible who are awakening to our new role as narrators in this collective story. So, releasing the ending you want is essential because to be a powerful narrator, it is essential to see the present moment for what it is and tell this story as accurately as you can… how you avoided the rocks or boulders in the stream, how you saw and out smarted the poisonous snake laying wait in the rocks, how you navigate the stream of possibilities.
These are power stories. They have always been power stories from timeimmemorial. Now we must learn how to tell these powerful stories about ourselves again against the backdrop of our modern age with all its distractions, pain, and fear thatcreates chaos meant to keep us docile and frozen in non-action. Or at least trap us in polarized action. Such action simply gets cancelled out by its equal and opposite action by others trapped on the other side of a false divide. It is a trick of the powerful narrators of our time who currently control most of our collective narrative. Too many of ushave fallenintotheir trap, makingus desperately grasp at things beyond our reach. This especially happens whenwe lose the firm ground of our inner reality; then, we are especially at the mercy of nefarious forces trying to control the collective story through fearmongering and other dramatic techniques.
We must grow stronger consciously. This is how we strengthen Indra’s Net because each one of us is a jewel in this beautiful net. We can help each other by giving freely our time and attention to lift each other when we falter or fall. We don’t have to leave anyone behind. When we stand on the plain of our present moment and really see what is in front of us, we are powerful beings. This is a link to some of my early writing and visual storytelling about these ideas. This began to emerge inside of me more than two years ago: Consciousness Waves.
Another jewel is pain. Here another critical question is asked: How do we create a space for pain? So much of Western Civilization is focused on avoiding pain at all costs. I don’t know about you, but I grew up feeling it was not OK to admit to feeling pain. Physical pain was fine to admit. Everyone can clearly see if you have a scraped knee or broken arm. But, emotional or spiritual pain…this was scary. Often it is assumed you did not follow the prescribed rules you were taught, and thus you are the cause of your own pain and deserve to suffer. No one deserves to suffer. Hardly any of us has such control over all the things that impact us, it is ridiculous to blame a person in pain for their pain. But, so often this is what we do. I have been going through a year of pretty intense pain, I can tell you one thing: Pain focuses ones attention and time like no other stimuli. Pain tells us something is wrong, and it prods us to seek solutions. When we are in pain, trivial matters, mindless distractions, the things that use to fill our time fade away and the mind focuses on finding solutions. [I captured this idea in a fantastical little story about my trials in The Divine Dodo – Hanga Dyra Mingja.]
So, yes, make space for pain. Do not be afraid of the power pain offers. Perhaps this is what victim blamers are really afraid of… the person experiencing pain finding their power making them no longer so easy to control. Finding solutions to things causing pain is absolutely critical.
In this collection of jewels, there is also discussion about the power of music. I write about the power of music in another story I am writing, so I will not wax on about it here. I will simply say our ancestors understood the power of music and how it can inspire action in the minds of individuals and groups. We have forgotten the power that music and dance give us. We have let them become co-opted into the realm of entertainment and money-making. It is so much more than this. It is part of our internal guidance system. Find your song. Find your dance. This is how the universe moves and expresses itself through us. Our magical powers to transform reality rises from inside of us and through us… and it is through our collective action that what rises from inside our minds is made visible through our collective action in the world—this is our shared reality.
Another jewel closely connected to pain is grief. Indeed, grief as this group discusses, breaks open the heart. The group also shares a beautiful poem expressing grief exquisitely. Grief connects us to our empathy. Our empathic powers are needed now more than any other time in human history. To me empathy is not just understanding that someone else is in pain or is grieving, but it is the capacity to stand beside the person who is suffering, to bear witness to their pain knowing we cannot take their pain from them, but perhaps we can help them hold it for a time… maybe help the person endure it, however long it takes.
I think really powerful empaths can absorb into their own bodies other people’s pain, anger, grief, and the unbearable emotions. I think our ancestors and indigenous people understand how this works and know how to help transmute these powerful emotional states. But, this takes time and skill to understand and most of us in Western Civilization have lost this ability. However, Medicine men and women around the world still possess it, and known how not helping people navigate these difficult parts of the journey can impact the health not only of the individual suffering but of the entire group. In most modern cultures, we have lost the rituals of transformation that can transmute and balance these negative and destructive energies with their equal and opposite energies. It is here where we have our power as individuals and as groups in helping each other find and maintain balance so that wisdom can rise and shine brightly.
This is all I have time to reflect on right now. I wish I could do more, and I am sure my thinking and efforts to communicate are inadequate for the rich reservoir of ideas, thinking, collaborative efforts transpiring through this collective work (collective action of transformation) unfolding right here and right now. I can only encourage each person who has participated in the dialogues or who is just discovering these resources to use your own unique toolbox of thought, perception, experience, ideas to continue strengthening this net we are repairing together. We do this by providing our time and attention in whatever capacity we feel called to do and with whatever time we have available to do so. Time and attention are the most valuable resources in the universe. It really is all we need to be powerful narrators of our personal stories, which of course become a part of the collective story of Earth.
After writing this, I came upon readings and conversations about the importance of emptiness. I quite frankly did not understand how absolutely essential emptiness is when I wrote the above. I intend to write more about it when I have time, but for now I must devote most of my attention to finishing editing the story I began 7 years ago (almost to this day for I remember first finding the thread to the story I have been writing ever since late one September afternoon–this story is Sapience). And so I leave you only with a quote from Carl Jung whom I was reading and finally understood the power and importance of emptiness. He said:
“The archetype corresponding to the situation is activated, and as a result this explosive and dangerous forces hidden in the archetype come into action, frequently with unpredictable consequences. There is no lunacy people under the domination of an archetype will not fall a prey too. “
“If 30 years ago anyone had dared to predict that our psychological development was tending towards a revival of the medieval persecutions of the Jews, that Europe would again tremble before the Roman fasces and the tramp of legions, that people would once more give the Roman salute, as two thousand years ago, and that instead of the Christian Cross an archaic swastika would lure onward millions of warriors ready for death–why, that man would have been hooted at as a mystical fool. And today? Surprising as it may seem, all this absurdity is a horrible reality. Private life, private aetiologies, and private neuroses have become almost a fiction in the world of today. The man of the past who lived in a world of archaic ‘representations collectives’ had risen again into very visible and painfully real life, and this not only in a few unbalanced individuals but in many millions of people”
“There are as many archetypes as there are typical situations in life. Endless repetition has engraved these experiences into our psychic constitution, not in the form of images filled with content, but at first only as forms without content, representing merely the possibility of a certain type of perception and action. When a situation occurs which corresponds to a given archetype, that archetype becomes activated and a compulsiveness appears, which, like an instinctual drive, gains its way against all reason and will, or else produces a conflict of pathological dimensions, that is to say, a neurosis.”
— The Portable Jung, The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, p. 66-67
I was with him when he died. I was reading him the story I have been working on for the past 7 years. The previous night, I made a very difficult decision. He had been making phenomenal recovery from what should have been a fatal event 10 days earlier. But on the 9th day, he was sitting up in his hospital bed. He had a bible under one hand, and a pen and paper in the other. He immediately greeted me warmly when I walked in with a huge smile on his face, and I greeted him equally warmly. I asked him what he was doing. He told me that he had a lot of thank you letters to write but didn’t know where to begin. The nurse came in after a little while and fed him his medicine crushed up in pudding so he could swallow it. That was the problem. The day before, he had been more in a state of delirium than lucid consciousness. That day he worked his feed tube out of his stomach 4 times due to coughing or by using the back of his tongue. His entire critical care team was flummoxed by how quickly he was working it out, requiring it to be reinserted (not a pleasant experience… in fact, quite traumatic). The night nurse that night decided to leave it out. Dad rested peacefully. And, then I found him so happy to see me and wanting to write thank you cards. Everyone was so excited. Nurses who had cared for him earlier popped in to make sure I saw him. There was so much hope he would pull through this devastating event–where his heart had been stopped for more than 15 minutes as first responders worked so hard giving him CPR to get a shockable pulse.
So, here was the problem. To get him back to full health, he needed the feed tubing reinserted to get all the medicines he needed, and the doctors were not certain yet if his swallowing reflect had been damaged. How could we know after reinserting the feeding tube this final time that it would send him into a delirium he would never return from. That’s what happened. If I could do this over, I would have followed my gut and not allowed it. He would have died… I know this… but he would have died possibly more peacefully.
After almost 48 hours of non-stop movement of mind and body, my father was lost in space and time and utterly exhausted. The medicines were not calming him any more. Just before I was about to leave at midnight on the 10th night of him being in the ICU, his night nurse said, “If he was on Comfort Care, I could give him more medicine to help him calm down and rest.” The doctors had talked to us earlier that day about our options. I knew Comfort Care meant he was dying. And, so before I left, I gave instructions to move him to Comfort Care.
The next morning, he was sleeping. He nurse told me he had cleaned him and was doing everything to make him comfortable. He looked peaceful. He never woke, but I talked to him. I had a vision that morning about what I needed to do for him. So, after the nurse left, I told dad what I was going to do. Earlier that summer I promised to send him the latest part of my story. I hadn’t sent it yet. It is set in the time of the Vikings. My father was pure Norwegian. The girl in my story was on a glacier between Odda and Rosendal, Norway. My father’s family is from Odda. This girl in the story had just been in a terrible accident that left her companion unconscious and with broken ribs. My father’s ribs were broken from the CPR.
I told dad I was going to read him the story. It was going to be a sleigh made of sound to help him get across to the other side. In my story, my girl had just made a sleigh out of a bear hide to pull her injured companion across the glacier. So, my voice and this story they were going to serve as a sort of sleigh to help him cross. I told dad that his mother, his brother, brother-in-law, and all the people he knew and loved who had already passed were waiting for him. I told him he could leave any time during the story or wait until the end. Then, I started reading. The hospital Chaplin came after a while, and I told him all about dad. He said a prayer incorporating all the things I had told him. And, he recited Psalm 23.
I continued reading the story.
I read to him until 2:40 p.m. I held his hand as I read. I had just finished reading the part of the story where the priest meets a woman who mysteriously washes up on the shores of Dublin, Ireland. He helps her recover, find work, and get a home. They fall in love. They have to keep it hidden. They have a baby, but she dies during childbirth and the priest cannot admit he is the father, so he gives his daughter to the nuns who live in a nearby nunnery to be raised. I had read to him about this girl’s early childhood and a very scary nun she encounters. I was about to read him the part about Resurrection Sunday when I heard his breathing change–dramatically. I saw his pulse rate dropping–dramatically. I knew what was happening and rushed to him, my heart pounding. I told him mom and my brothers were 15 minutes away, he needed to wait. His breathing quicken and pulse went up, but only briefly. Then, it plummeted again. I knew the nurses could give him a drug through his IV to bring his pulse back up, but I also knew I had moved him to Comfort Care last night. Instead of running to get the nurse, I threw myself over him and hugged him fiercely. His nurse and doctor came in. They held my hand and hugged me. No one said anything. After some time I looked up and asked the doctor if he had gone. With the kindest face and deepest empathy, he nodded. Neither he nor the nurse left. They stayed with me and never once did I feel like they had anything more important to do–though I knew they were responsible for many people in very serious conditions. My mother and brothers arrived 10 minutes later. They had indeed been 15 minutes away, though when I told dad I had no way of knowing this. My brother thinks at the time of dad’s passing they were at the last rest stop, and mom was picking daisies. I had just been reading to dad about daises.
So, one year later, this is my telling of the journey I have been on since his death. It is told through music and art. The starting image I drew on the plane on July 27, 2018 as I flew out to be with my father one day after this heart attack. As I drew, I listened to Asura’s Life2 album. I listened to one song in particular over and over as the image took shape. This song was Celestial Tendencies. Each song from Asura’s album held special meaning and energy for me during this time. The music was a way to hold onto some divine and sublime at a time of great crisis and ultimate tragedy. The visual journey is an expansion of my original drawing in my notebook. Please forgive my indulgence as I spent a lot of time drawing the different layers. Ultimately, I decided to use each of the songs that helped me to be strong for dad and my family during this terrible time. I realize it is a video that probably only I will ever watch in its entirety.
The visual story of this journey can not be viewed. I have tried, but I believe algorithms used by most of the major social media platforms flagged this image possibly as a man on a cross and this has been tied to White Supremacy. I understand this concern. It is validate given our time. I would just say that this is how the vision of my father appeared to me as I flew out to be with him, and that during my 10 days with him, he indeed held his arms out this way many times for he was suffering. I think outstretched arms like this are also a symbol for the suffering of the world, and my father felt this deeply, our collective human suffering. It powered him and transformed him as a force of compassion in the world. As this image progresses, it transforms from an image of human suffering into one of transcendence. I am sorry I cannot share this work at this time, but that is our current reality and I accept the collective wisdom of our time.
You may be able to view the video if you can get to my Art Page on Facebook; here it is pinned to the top of the page.
As COVID-19 has steadily made its way around the world and really hit the United States of America particularly hard, I have thought a lot about those 10 days in the hospital sitting by my father’s side, hoping for the best but knowing he was skating between two realities–one was life, the other death. No one wanted to talk about the death reality, but it was there. It was always there. I could see it in the doctors eyes. I could feel it in the nurses voices. I drew it as I flew out to be with my beloved father.
He fought for life, absolutely he did. But, he was up against incredible odds, unbelievable odds that cannot be conveyed to a living person in good health because until you are at this threshold, you do not know. But, healthcare professionals learn to recognize the signs of approaching death, especially when people are fighting to just breathe, which is what dad was doing at the end because his lungs were filling up with the fluid. The doctors were watching for it because they knew Pulmonary edema or pneumonia is often a result after CPR because to do it right to save a person’s life, the first responders has to push hard often breaking ribs and pushing debris into the lungs, which causes the pneumonia.
This episode that I just heard on This American Life captures so vividly what I saw dad suffer through. I tuned in just as the nurses were describing what has to be done to save a person’s like can feel like torture. And my dad absolutely felt this way that day when he woke up, and he was writing thank yous, and we had a precious, fleeting moment of normalcy, until the feed tube had to be reinserted. This haunts me so much because he was wide awake and to him it felt like torture and he was counting on me to stop it…and I failed because I wanted to save him.
And now so many beautiful people are suffering through the very same thing. To find out more about this episode, click here.
I would like to end with two stories about my father that were given at his memorial service. One is by one of my brothers and the other by me. My father was one of the kindest, most caring, and compassionate human beings anyone could ever hope to encounter. His deep and unconditional love for everyone was felt by all who got to know him, even when they messed up, he held them in patience and love. What a lesson for the times we live in now.
This is my brother’s eulogy:
Monrad Kicks the Hell’s Angels Out of Yellowstone
As we go through life, our impressions and feelings toward our parents change. I’m going to share with you some impressions from my childhood, Around the age of eight or nine when we lived in South Dakota. At this age boys want a tough dad with street creds and unfortunately, I was convinced my father was a wimp. The previous sunday he had preached Yet another sermon on love. By my count the 4th sermon on love that summer .
But it didn’t matter because we were about to commence on a treasured family tradition ; the summer vacation. We’d take a popup camper and head out West for one or two weeks . On this trip, I believe we went to either Grand Teton or YellowStone, let’s just say it was Yellowstone.
We had the camping routine down pat. We’d set up camp, spend a few days hiking or fishing then move on to the next location. In these popular parks you needed to get to the next campsite early, well before 5 pm, or the campsites could fill up. On this particular day we had had a long drive and almost all the sites were taken but we finally found one and a nice secluded spot at that. After we had set up camp and were settling in, some loud motorcycles pulled up to a clearing just across the road from our camper. They wore leather jackets and skull caps. We kids immediately knew who they were because they had been covered in last week’s TV news. This was none other than the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang. About this time Monrad notices what is going on and Yell’s across to the gang “that is not a campsite, you can’t camp there.” The reply came back to “Mind your own business” or something similar. Monrad responded even louder and more angry “That is not a campsite you can’t camp there “. We kids were terrified, we were sure our dad was going to get beat up … or worse. But to our surprise after a few more exchanges, maybe a few insulting gestures exchanged as well, the bikers revved up their engines and moved on.
That was the day I was proud of my father, he just kicked the Hell’s Angels out of Yellowstone.
This is my eulogy:
Born: April 16, 1935; Died: August 4, 2018; Age: 83
My father… Monrad Mandsager… He is why you are here today… Monty! And, do you know what he would have said?
He would have said, “Goodness sakes… you’ve come all this way… for me! You shouldn’t have… thank you… thank you so much… thank you for coming!”
SHOWING UP & PAYING ATTENTION = LOVE
His whole life dad never felt worthy. In his mind, he was a poor, simple farm boy from Iowa who could never quite do all the things exactly the way his dad wanted them done, and he grew up without his mother’s kind and loving warmth and support. These early beginnings always left him questioning his worth. But my dad would always show up and give any task (big or small) his best! For him, what was most important was making time, paying attention, and creating a space to understand the needs of others because dad knew this is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other… for it is the most basic way we show our love to each other. Dad’s capacity to create and hold a sacred space for others was one of his superpowers! He would listen with empathy, kindness, and unwavering attention to someone’s life story, latest frustration, or good news. And, he would remember what you told him and ask you about it the next time he saw you.
SUPERPOWERS OF ATTENTION + LISTENING + UNDERSTANDING
Dad’s ability to pay attention and listen combined with his humbleness allowed him to be there for people at their greatest time of need. I remember one tragedy where dad demonstrated his tremendous capacity to empathize and be there for a grieving family after their 16-year-old son was killed in a hunting accident. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember my parents explaining to me how this family had lost several children before this tragedy and this was their last son. I remember going with mom and dad many times to visit the family after dad broke the terrible news to them. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of helplessness and sadness. But, I also remember knowing being there with my parents was important. I was no older than first grade, but I remember this experience vividly, and I’ll come back to this later for as I was reading through dad’s writings to figure out what I would say today, I found his reflections on this same tragedy for it had profoundly impacted him too. Grief it turns out is not bounded to one day or one week or one year… it is a deeply personal journey and dad understood this. He understood a time of grief is not a time to give people “pat answers” about why death or a tragedy occurred… neither is it a time to tell the person how and when to recover from it. He knew he didn’t know, but what he did know was he needed to be there for however long it took and at whatever capacity the family or individual needed, even if it meant just sitting in silence with them. I’m going to share with you several of dad’s amazing traits (I call them his superpowers), and now that he’s gone, I realize they were precious gifts given freely and in love to me and I suspect he gave them to many of you!
One of his wonderful superpowers was his adventuresome, wandering spirit. Little more than 6 weeks after being ordained at Luther Seminary and marrying mom, they took off to Brazil where dad was to serve as a missionary in Sao Paulo and the surrounding area. Mom and dad had to learn Portuguese and spent almost a year studying and learning it before dad began his mission work. He was one of the first missionaries to give all of his sermons in Portuguese, and of course, this is where I and my brother Craig were born. We learned Portuguese too and spoke it to everyone outside of our immediate family. I am told when we returned to the states, and I met my grandparents for the first time, I sat on their knees chattering happily away in Portuguese as they smiled and enjoyed meeting their granddaughter and grandson for the first time. I was pretty young in Brazil, but I have snap shot memories of life with my parents such as galloping on my father’s shoulders through the jungle with monkeys shrieking at us from high in the trees (that was magnificent)! Watching a steel drum band at a gathering and marveling at the beautiful music coming from the steel cans the musicians had turned into their drums dad had explained all this to me for he loved the steel drums! I also remember traveling with dad in our jeep over muddy, rutted, red roads and being surrounded by hundreds of sheep on their way home, leaving dad and I to revel in the wonder of the moment.
From Brazil, we flew back to the Midwest, this is where my brother Phillip was born. From there, dad helped his brother-in-law Bob start a new church in Southern CA – so, we moved to Sunnymead where my brother Peter was born – and, then our family was complete! I won’t go into all the places we moved or family vacations we took, but dad loved to travel, and he wanted us to experience and see the vast, beautiful, wondrous places of this land, and we saw many thanks to him!
THE DREAMER & LEARNER
My father was also a dreamer and lifelong learner! He loved geology, astronomy, anthropology, paleontology, and even astrophysics; he transferred his love of learning to me and my brothers! Dad would tell you that his love of learning and interests in science was sometimes disturbing to his faith, and he often navigated between the waters of faith and doubt. But, this made dad stronger, not weaker for he was able to transform his doubt into a deeper, vaster faith in God.
In his own words, he says, “Since I am often between faith and doubt, my stockpile of “pat answers” has diminished considerable. Life is discovery, growth, affirmation of faith in God in the midst of doubt. Life is affirmation of the creation of oneself, of others, of the goodness and love of God. Christ is our best light of this, pointing us to a loving Father God through the goodness and light His life has given for us in loving service through suffering even onto death.”
And, so here again you glimpse dad’s superpowers of kindness, compassion, and deep empathy for people and all living beings, and this guided him through his journey between the waters of faith and doubt; and it greatly informed his ministry for he saw himself as a humble servant who would stop to help anyone in need—and this is a gift he gave freely and frequently!
TRANSFORMATION OF FAITH
As I was reading dad’s writings, I found one piece he titled an Account of My Life to Age 43 where he describes honestly and elegantly his life journey, especially about the transformation of his faith. Here he accounts the same story I remembered about the 16-year-old boy. (I’ve changed the names for it seems even after all these years, the family is entitled to their privacy) Dad writes: “…the summer of ’72, we moved to Redway to serve Grace Lutheran Church. At that time, the KindFamily was a family of four: Joe, the father, a Roman Catholic and lumberjack; Corothy, the mother, a member of Grace; David (16) had been confirmed that Spring; and Lucy (13). Previous to our acquaintance, they had been a family of 7—two boys had been born with progressive muscular dystrophy and died in their young teens and a baby girl died of lung cancer at age 3. … About two months after our arrival Corothy talked about going to stay with her husband for a week in the woods – something she had never done before. She was apprehensive about leaving the kids. They ended up taking Lucy, while David was to stay with the next-door neighbors who were trusted friends. They left Sunday. Late Tuesday afternoon, council member, Karl came running up our steps, out of breath, a strained expression on this face. “Pastor, Pastor, something awful has happened, they found David dead beside his motorcycle and rifle along a trail. He’s been shot! This is awful. I can’t believe it… David’sthe only boy they had left! They were so proud of him. He was such a good kid. What are we going to do?”
Dad writes he was equally shocked as he attempted to reassure Karl that with God’s help they’d find a way to help the Kinds. Karl asked if dad would be there when the family arrived home to tell them what happened. Dad said yes, and he’d like Karl to be there too since he was a supporting friend of the family.” This event solidified for dad at a moment of great tragedy and grief, it is not a time to theologize or to tell a person not to protest to God as they grapple with the question why… why… why… Dad describes how he simply sat in the ditch with the father as he wept, and when he asked questions dad answered them simply with the information he knew. Then, they wept together, talked a little more, and wept again. Dad was there for days and weeks later walking with the family one small step at a time. He came to understand, as he tried to answer the agonizing question why, that we live in a world where accidents and disease happen, death is a mystery, and we don’t know all the answers. He came to believe it is not God who appoints the hour and manner of death, but more evil and death have come into our world through the backdoor (as it were). However, God is on the side of goodness and life; nevertheless, since evil, accidents, disease, and death have come among us, God Himself in Jesus, went through suffering, sorrow, and death… because he loves us and wants to show us he understands, cares, and shares our burdens and carries them with us during our greatest times of grief, pain, sorrow, and need. And, so the gift of faith was given to me—a gift dad demonstrated vividly throughout his life!
The Gift of Courage
The last gift I’ll mention today is courage. It was a heart attack that took him down the evening of July 25, and it was the heroic efforts of first responders and hospital staff in Albert Lea and the Mayo Clinic that brought him back along with our good neighbors who brought Mom to both hospitals that night to be with Dad. One nurse who had also been an EMT told me about 4% of patients flown in after such an event survive, so dad was a miracle—even if it was just one week. Each day on the ICU was a battle, but dad made amazing progress regaining consciousness and recognition surpassing the tempered hopes that the excellent doctors and nurses held for him and worked tirelessly to achieve. The best the team could work out is dad probably went without oxygen to his brain for 15 to 20 minutes—most agree after 9; severe brain damage can begin. Despite tremendous gains coming back consciously, his body continued to reel from catastrophic system failures. The doctors figured out one problem was a blockage in an artery in the heart, which they fixed this with a stint, but the other required a pace maker. This was a challenge because dad had several broken ribs since CPR is really only effective when ribs are broken. But, pneumonia set in creating a vicious cycle of needing to cough, which caused pain that sent him into cycles of delirium. It was a delicate balance the medical team at St. Mary’s walked, moment by moment to figure out what dad needed.
Two days before his death—I call it his Lazarus day. I arrived in the morning. He was sitting upright in bed with wonderful color to his face and a sparkle in his eyes. He was holding a pen, paper, and bible and exclaimed happily as I walked in: “Debbie!” I returned: “Dad!” I sat down beside him and asked him what he was doing. He told me he had a lot of thank yous to write but was having a hard time getting started.
The day before had been pretty rough for he had worked his feed tube out 3 times, earning him the title of the Hundi of Feeding Tubes. He still did not have it reinserted, and so his nurse fed him pudding with his pills crushed in it. It was slow, and dad was having a hard time swallowing. But, this day, everyone was so hopeful he could recover at least to this point; however, to do so, he would need the feed tube reinserted. This sent him into a delirium he would not come out of, and this is where the courage comes in… I had to have the courage to see the totality of his reality – I needed to reconcile the hope of his recovery with the despair of cascading system failures in his body. After 36 hours of continuous delirium, I made the tough decision to move him to comfort care, allowing the nurses and doctors to give him stronger medications to keep him comfortable and out of pain. The Mayo team was magnificent in providing me and our family with all the options ranging from further invasive interventions to comfort care, and it was his night nurse, Luis, who said something about being able to give dad stronger medicines that night, which finally made me understand the reality of dad’s situation. We had never made it out of the Sea of Delirium, and dad was suffering and needed me to make a courageous choice. So, I did.
When I returned the next morning, he was sleeping—the delirium was over. His day nurse told me he had cleaned him, and they were making him comfortable. He looked at peace. I could hear the gurgle of the pneumonia in his lungs, but he was not struggling for air. I sat down next to him and began to read part of the book I have written for I had promised to send him the manuscript but had not yet sent it. The Chaplin came in after a couple of hours. I told him all about dad and the past week. He recited the 23rdPsalm, and then he said a prayer incorporating everything I had told him. I resumed reading. His nurse came back to turn him. I continued reading holding his hand, comforted by his warmth. Less than 45 minutes later, his breathing suddenly changed. I looked at his monitor and saw his heart rate dropping just as it had been doing over the past week (this is why he needed a pace maker). I felt panic and pleaded with dad to wait for mom to arrive (for I felt she was 15 minutes away). Dad breathed, and his heart rate went up, but for less than a minute; then it plunged again. I wanted to run and get the nurse to give him a drug to increase his heart rate, but I didn’t… I knew he was going and I needed to let him go… this took tremendous courage… how could I let my father go? I couldn’t, so I threw myself on him, hugged him and cried. His nurse came in and put his arm around my shoulders as I held onto dad, and his doctor came in and held my hand. After a while, I looked up and asked, “Is he gone?” His doctor simply and compassionately confirmed dad had gone. My brothers and mom arrived 10 minutes later. His nurse and doctor stayed with us for a long time. I did not feel for one minute they had anything more important to do than to be a witness to dad’s passing and our grief—a tremendous gift.
The Gift of Love
So, thank you all for being here to remember dad and to celebrate his life and the many gifts he gave to so many of us.
I know dad never felt he deserved this sort of attention, but dad, if you are listening, you deserve it, every last bit of it for your gifts have healed so many people in our broken world, which desperately needs the compassion you shared and your capacity to listen and be with others during their greatest hour of need and to do so in kindness and with empathy, all of which came so natural to you.
The starting image of the video came from a dream where I had already fallen through layers of fear and what was left was a place of sadness. This is where I found the thing. It looks like a conglomeration of rocks. But my dream told me this thing is alive and feeds on fear and sadness.
Carl Jung talks about things that live inside our psyches. You cannot see, touch, or measure them in the ways we are accustomed to seeing, touching, and measuring things in the stream of Western Civilization, but that doesn’t mean these things are not there. Jung and many others defined things within our psyche that affect our thoughts and behavior at the deepest levels of our human beingness. They are not necessarily bad though they can impart nasty effects on us. Nevertheless, we need them to be human. In fact, they provide the energy our minds need to think and feel and dream. They give us motivation, focus, drive, essentially all the things that make us human. During his life, Carl Jung followed his intuition and insights informed by his clinic practice as a psychologist and psychiatrist to define what we know today as analytic psychology. He came to understand human beings are affected by energies that can emerge from the psyche spontaneously and affect us. Working with his patients, he came to understand all humans have access to shared images that encode psychic energies and experiences. He called them archetypes, and they are essential structures of our minds; just as skin and organs are essential structures for our human bodies. These psychic images extend back to primoradial times. They are a sort of short-hand, a memory of humanity’s shared experience of existence since emerging from an unconscious state of being to a conscious state of being; some probably span even further back. Archetypes live inside of us, they are us, and every human mind can access them. Indeed, a human mind cannot function without them.
There are other things living inside our minds as well. I believe my drawing is one of these other things.
While I worked on the drawing, I was also reading a collection of lectures C.G. Jung gave to his peers at the Institute of Medical Psychology in London between September 30 to October 4, 1935. The audience consisted of about 200 medical profession. A stenographic record was made of the lectures and discussions. Later, it was transcribed and edited by Mary Barker and Margaret Game along with being passed by Professor Jung before being printed and distributed by the Analytical Psychology Club of London in 1936. In Lecture 3, Jung clarifies aspects of a word association test he developed to help him understand what is going on inside the psyches of his patients. He explains that whenever a word in his test hits upon a complex residing in his patient, there is a measurable delay in the person’s response to the word.
"Complexes are partial or fragmentary personalities. When we speak of the ego-complex, we naturally assume it has a consciousness because the relationship of the various contents to the center in other words to the ego, is called consciousness. But, we also have a grouping of contents about a center, a sort of nucleus, in other complexes. So, we may ask the question: Do complexes have a consciousness of their own?"
— C.G. Jung, Analytical Psychology — Its Theory & Practice (1968), p. 82
In a previous lecture, he showed a diagram with different spheres of the mind. The center sphere is dark, representing the sphere of the unconsciousness. Jung explains the closer a person gets to the center, the more he or she will experience what Janet calls an abasement du nivea’s mental—or a state where one’s conscious autonomy begins to disappear. The closer to the center a person gets the more under the fascination of unconscious content they become. Jung says:
"Conscious autonomy loses its tension and its energy, and that energy reappears in the increased activity of unconscious contents. You can observe this process in an extreme form when you carefully study a case of insanity. The fascination of unconscious contents gradually grows stronger and conscious control vanishes in proportion until finally the patient sinks into the unconscious altogether and becomes completely victimized by it. He is the victim of a new autonomous activity that does not start from his ego but starts from the dark sphere."
— C.G. Jung, Analytical Psychology — Its Theory & Practice (1968), p. 82
Jung describes a complex as an agglomeration of associations (very much like the starting image of the thing I drew). A complex often originates from something of traumatic character, it is a thing of a highly toned character, and it can be painful to the person who has it. Jung says:
"Everything that is highly toned [in the psyche] is rather difficult to handle. If for instance, something is very important to me, I begin to hesitate when I attempt to do it, and you have probably observed that when you ask me difficult questions I cannot answer them immediately because the subject is important, and I have a long reaction time. I begin to stammer, and my memory does not supply the necessary material. Such disturbances are complex disturbances--even if what I say does not come from a personal complex of mine. It is simply an important affair, and whatever has an intense feeling-tone is difficult to handle because such contents are somehow associated with physiological reactions with processes of the heart, the tonus of the blood vessels, the condition of the intestines, the breathing, and the innervation of the skin. Whenever there is a high tonus it is just as if that particular complex had a body of its own, as if it were localized in my body to a certain extent, and that makes it unwieldy because something that irritates my body cannot be easily pushed away because it has its roots in my body and begins to pull at my nerves. Something that has little tonus and little emotional value can be easily brushed aside because it has no roots. It is not adherent or adhesive."
— C.G. Jung, Analytical Psychology — Its Theory & Practice (1968), p. 79-80
Jung further states: “A complex with its given tension or energy has the tendency to form a little personality of itself. It has a sort of body, a certain amount of its own physiology. It can upset the stomach. It upsets the breathing, it disturbs the heart—in short, it behaves like a personality. Complexes can interfere in unfortunate ways such as if you want to say or do something, but then you say or do something different from what you intended—that is because your best intentions get interrupted by the complex, exactly as if you had been interfered with by a human being or by circumstances from outside.” (p. 80)
Jung previously said in this lecture that: “Our ego is an agglomeration of highly toned contents too. The ego is supposed to be in full possession of the body; however, there is little difference between the ego-complex and any other complex. One can see this most clearly in a schizophrenic condition where complexes develop a certain will-power of their own [that] emancipate themselves from conscious control to such an extent they can become visible or audible to that person.” (p.80-81)
Jung said that he was not interested in the fact a person has a complex. We all have complexes. What interested him is what the unconsciousness is doing with the complex. Jung was famous for his ability to interpret dreams in ways very different from his contemporaries such as Freud. Indeed, Jung’s method began charting an interior territory of the psyche that revealed it to be much vaster, stranger, and bigger than Western thinking ever allowed it to be known to be. This is not true of Indigenous people or of Eastern thinking, which has maintained a connection to internal spaces and realities. Jung analyzed dreams because they provided a window into the unconscious mind and these internal spaces. He explained he did not like to analyze one dream because a single dream is arbitrary, rather he likes to compare a series of dreams (say 20 to 100) saying, “Then one can see interesting things and the continuity of the unconscious psyche.” (p. 87) Jung further states the unconscious is continually processing things and content night after night and even throughout the day. Quite extraordinarily he says:
“Presumably, we are dreaming all the time, although we are not aware of it by day because consciousness is much too clear. But at night, when there is that abasement du niveau mental, the dream can break through and become visible.”
C.G. Jung, Analytical Psychology — Its Theory & Practice (1968), p. 87
Wanting to understand the difference between complexes and archetypes better, I found an interesting article published by a Jungian analysts, Frith Luton in Melbourne, Australia. She quotes extensively from the Collected Works of CG Jungof which there are many volumes. A couple excerpts from her article are illuminating to my quest to understand the differences between an archetype and a complex:
"Complexes are in fact “splinter psyches.” The aetiology of their origin is frequently a so-called trauma, an emotional shock or some such thing, that splits off a bit of the psyche. Certainly one of the commonest causes is a moral conflict, which ultimately derives from the apparent impossibility of affirming the whole of one’s nature. [“A Review of the Complex Theory,” ibid., par. 204.]
Everyone knows nowadays that people “have complexes.” What is not so well known, though far more important theoretically, is that complexes can have us." [Ibid., par. 200.]
— “A Review of the Complex Theory,” ibid., par. 204
Luton points out complexes often form around an archetype like the mother or father. When they become “constellated”, they are invariably accompanied by affect, which is always relatively autonomous.” She says, “Jung stressed complexes in themselves are not negative; only their effects can be. In the same way that atoms and molecules are the invisible components of physical objects, complexes are the building blocks of the psycheand the source of all human emotions.” She quotes him writing:
"Complexes are focal or nodal points of psychic life which we would not wish to do without; indeed, they should not be missing, for otherwise psychic activity would come to a fatal standstill. [“A Psychological Theory of Types,” CW 6, par. 925.]
Complexes obviously represent a kind of inferiority in the broadest sense … [but] to have complexes does not necessarily indicate inferiority. It only means that something discordant, unassimilated, and antagonistic exists, perhaps as an obstacle, but also as an incentive to greater effort, and so, perhaps, to new possibilities of achievement. [Ibid., par. 925.] Some degree of one-sidedness is unavoidable, and, in the same measure, complexes are unavoidable too." [“Psychological Factors in Human Behaviour,” CW 8, par. 255.]
— Collected Works of CG Jung — Volumes 6 and 8
Luton further says having a complex is not the problem, believing one does not have one is a problem. She says, “As long as one is unconscious of the complexes, one is liable to be driven by them.” Quoting Jung, she writes:
“The possession of complexes does not in itself signify neurosis … and the fact that they are painful is no proof of pathological disturbance. Suffering is not an illness; it is the normal counterpole to happiness. A complex becomes pathological only when we think we have not got it.”
“Psychotherapy and a Philosophy of Life,” CW 16, par. 179.
In short, understanding is the best way to come to terms with a complex. I love how she ends her article quoting Jung who says:
“A complex can be really overcome only if it is lived out to the full. In other words, if we are to develop further we have to draw to us and drink down to the very dregs what, because of our complexes, we have held at a distance.”
“Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype,” CW 9i, par. 184.
I believe what I have drawn is a complex lodged deep inside my psyche. It has been there for a long time; in fact, it has been handed down to me from one generation to the next through my bloodline. It is not so much I need to destroy it or dissolve it or doing anything to it, but rather to be a witness to it through the loving light of the beautiful being inside of me. This simple act of witnessing can bring about transformations that unfold over time. This is the journey life affords us. This is the gift of being present with conscious awareness of the goodand the badthese complexes reveal to us over time. Perhaps through conscious awareness the dull conglomeration of rocks (aka living complexes) might be polished and turned into a precious jewel fit to serve at a center of a node in Indra’s Net.
What if the Gods and Goddess of our ancestors are really the stories about the archetypes living inside of us? And, what if complexes are what the gods and goddesses do to us over time? Every human being is connected to incredible inner worlds where endless stories are unfolding inside us all the time. Physics tells us the visible universe is less than 4% of the total universe. The rest is Dark Matter and Dark Energy. It is called dark because we cannot see or perceive it, thus it remains beyond our ability to divide, categorize, or measure. Though we virtually know nothing about it, we know our physical realm of existence (reality) would not be possible without Dark Matter and Dark Energy.
What if we humans are windows or portals into the unseen parts of our universe? It’s a strange idea…I know, but what is the soul, a spirit, the psyche rises from this realm of our universe? Throughout human history, we have celebrated explorers and voyagers who ventured to the furthest reaches of our planet and brought back stories of strange lands and people. We continue to celebrate voyaging into outer space using with robotic spaceships and cameras that send back spectacular images of our solar system with dreams of humans to follow. But, we have precious few stories and maps of voyages into inner space. Many people do undertake journeys into inner space; however, in Western Civilization, due to our inability to verify such journeys, the stories and maps brought back are disbelieved, doubted, deemed untrue, unreal. Our science for exploring this realm of existence is neonatal in Western culture. We are still stuck in our thinking functions that need to see and measure and divide the world into fragmentary pieces. Most of us who live in the Western modern world remain blind to what really powers us as human beings. Living within Western Civilization, we have become cut us off from our vital inner selves. We no longer can hear the beautiful being who lives inside us. In fact, we no longer believe there is anything inside of ourselves expect a complicated assortment of cells—nothing more than a magnificent machine. Using our thinking, we have built a jail that we now happily sit alone inside cut off from each other and from all of life. We live inside our self-created vacuums (fueled by narcissism and arrogance) and this has made us castaways from our true potential and destiny as a human being. Inside our soul prisons, we live cut off from what really powers us…cut off from what powers all life on our beautiful planet. Confined within our tiny jail cells, we can no longer access the wisdom that wells up inside of us and is needed to sustain us through this journey we call life.
Since archetypes can act like gravitational forces that constellate complexes, I wish to highlight a discussion with Jürgen, one of my dialogue partners, about the shadow. This archetype is frequently a troublemaker, and many of us end up with pretty big constellations of complexes that swirl around it. In a comment, he wrote from my pervious blog, he says:
"Quite fascinating what you are pulling to light from your inner world. It reminds me, btw, often times of observations that Paul Levy has made in regard to our challenged psyches and toxic relationships (He calls it 'malignant egophrenia' = ME, = the 'wetiko' of the Cree). In his book, 'Dispelling Wetiko. Breaking the Curse of Evil', he (Levy) writes:
"Modern civilization, though outwardly highly developed, is inwardly very primitive and preadolescent, an institutionalized form of barbarism in modern drag. It makes sense that Native peoples would know about malignant egophrenia, as they were oppressed by civilization yet weren’t, at least initially, under the “curse” of modern civilization. Being under the sway of modern civilization can feel as if something foreign to our nature is being imposed upon us, as if we are living in an occupied land. Modern civilization suffers from the overly one-sided dominance of the rational, intellectual mind, a one-sidedness that seemingly disconnects us from nature, from empathy, and from ourselves.
"It is important for us to become acquainted with the peculiar nature of the beast with which we are dealing. Strictly speaking, the wetiko virus doesn’t exist as a “thing” in the third dimension the way a biological virus does. In our Western, scientific, materialistic culture we have an absurd prejudice that something is real only if it exists in physical, quantifiable terms, while the indisputable fact is that the only form of existence we have immediate knowledge of is psychic. Wetiko can’t be objectified and said to be “this” or “that,” as it is a non-objectifiable phenomenon that is embedded in, operates via, and potentially alters the way we see. Wetiko acts as both a filter through which and a mirror in which we see ourselves. Wetiko is “ineffable,” in that it transcends both of the extremes of existence and nonexistence. From the absolute point of view, the wetiko virus doesn’t actually exist as a substantial entity. If we think wetiko is real, however, we have seemingly made it real, and fallen under its spell, simply by thinking so. And yet, if we decide wetiko doesn’t exist, and that we shouldn’t give it our attention, this stance is a form of ignorance which only ensures wetiko’s continued reign over our psyche. This shows us that wetiko, though ultimately having no substantial existence, is more than merely just an “appearance” conjured up by the way we are viewing it, while at the same time it is a “no-thing” that is precisely a display of how we are viewing it.
"So, ME is not simply evil; made conscious and treated with compassion it becomes a force of creation. Here, I think, we arrive at the point where his writings and yours complement each other in displaying the dreamlike nature of reality. Thank you once more for your writing and art."
— Jürgen Hornschuh quoting and synthesizing from Paul Levy
As I became fascinated, well, let’s be honest–obsessed in understanding the differences and relationships between archetypes and complexes…I did some research. Initially, I found a blog (Analytical Psychology on Complexes) that listed a wonderful list of complexes—some famous, others not so much. I was simply going to summarize this list when I got the idea to include some background of the complex from its originating myths or story for most of the complexes we refer to today have derived their names.
This is when things got really interesting, and I began to discover divergent themes in the storylines of the myths as well as divergent theories proposed by great thinkers in psychology, psychiatry, symbolism, and other specialities. Some of these ideas delved much deeper into the complexes. Upon closer and deeper scrutiny, it became clear to me that there is much more going on inside the psyche and with complexes than we think—indeed they are living and growing and evolving. For instance, I found a fascinating article about the Cain Complex written by Richard A. Hughes. This lead me to discover a series of letters between Professor Hughes and Dr. Leopold Szondi. Here I discovered a vast, uncharted territory both men were exploring on how complexes impact not only individuals, but also families over generations. This discovery validated what my dream had told me about the Thing That Feeds on Fear and Sadness—that it has existed for generations and was passed down to me through my bloodline.
The more I dug into each complex, the more mysterious each became. I began to ponder what if complexes not only impacted individuals and families over many generations, but also define the culture and civilization people live inside over time. What if a group of people all became impacted and affected by the same complex or group of complexes…say for example, the Cain Complex? What if this complex (or group of complexes) became constellated not only in the individual and the family, but also in the group (i.e., culture or civilization)? If this is so, then new psyches being born into (or brought into) the group would need to be broken in similar ways to activate the complex and ensure the new individuals fit properly into the accepted behavior and beliefs of the group. Thus, culture might also serve as a mechanism to impart the same psychic brokenness necessary to survive and thrive in the group. Individuals with the correct complex would understand the challenges the complex imparts, and they could share strategies on how to cope with the complex—some good, some bad—but shared. As a culture evolves, perhaps growing into a civilization, the shared complexes create a foundation for the future members of the group. They create a bedrock and the banks for the river of consciousness new members will flow down through their lives. All who are born into the civilization would need to be broken in specific ways to create the wounds required to activate the complex(es) needed to be a member of that civilization–an indoctrination to civilize the untamed mind of a newborn psyche so it flows properly within the confines of the civilization. For those who are not born into the civilization, this indoctrination can be brutal and cruel.
If complexes can be harnessed by a civilization to make its citizens fit into the collective cultural flow (i.e., the reality the civilization operates and embraces), then the stories about them are a trail of bread crumbs of how we have come to be as a group of people. I think Western Civilization has taken a very specific course that can be traced through common complexes. The story of Western Civilization seems to begin with the myths and stories and later complexes surrounding the Death of the Mother (i.e., the decline and ultimate end of matriarchal societies). Replaced by the rise of patriarchal societies (Patriarchy literally means “the rule of the father”) that are powered by Cain-Abel and Oedipus cycles. These persisted for thousands of years, interspersed with cycles of the Death of the Father mythical stories, which suggests the overthrow of the political structures represented by the father and replaced with the new political structures of the son. Such cycles have defined Western Civilization for centuries, but there have been terrifying aberrations such as Hitler. Professor Hughes and Dr. Leopold Szondi theorized Hitler broke both the Cain-Abel and Oedipus cycle because of a significant paroxysmal drive (i.e., a drive that causes fits of rage akin to an epileptic attack but that manifest as emotional outbursts) combined with paranoia and sadism.
This is all completely speculative, but it is clear to me that we humans (especially those of us submerged in Western Civilization) are barely scratching the surface in understanding our own psyches and how complexes affect us (i.e., their origins, their influence on individuals, on families, and on civilizations). All I can do is leave a mind trail of my questions and quest. I doubt most will find what follows very interesting, but for those who do… this is packing a backpack for a long journey into soul.
An example of a complex would be as follows: if one had a leg amputated when one was a child, this would influence one's life in profound ways, even if he or she overcame the physical handicap. A person may have many thoughts, emotions, memories, feelings of inferiority, triumphs, bitterness, and determinations centering on that one aspect of his or her life. If these thoughts were troubling and pervasive, Jung might say he or she had a complex about the leg.
"Complex existence is widely agreed upon in the area of depth psychology, a branch of psychology that asserts the most significant parts of one's personality are derived from one's unconscious. It is a way of mapping the psyche, and are crucial theoretical items in therapy. Complexes are believed by Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud to influence an individual's attitude and behavior."
A good place to start is the ego. Immediately here I ran into trouble in the definition of exactly what it is. Some say it stems from an idea of the “I” being the self believes itself to be the center of the Universe and requires instant gratification. I think this is rather the Id, which is where we all begin and then as we go through life we have experiences and are taught things that leave their emotional mark on our psyche, and this constellates and becomes our ego. The Wikipedia article says, “Jung included the ego in a broadly comprehensive theory of complexes, often referring to it as the ego-complex as illustrated when he said “by ego I understand a complex of ideas which constitutes the center of my field of consciousness and appears to possess a high degree of continuity and identity. Hence I also speak of an ego-complex.”
I think it is a fair assessment that we would not want to do without our ego complex for without it we would surely be silly putty in the world, incapable of doing much of anything without this constellation of feeling, emotion, and intelligence. Now, as discussed in the main part of this blog, Jung (and many others) observed there are times when our ego complex gets usurped by other entities in our psyche, and these are the complexes. We all have them. This is not the problem. It is remaining unconscious of them that can produce unexpected and unintended consequences in our lives—good and bad. So here are some of the most interesting complexes that seem to have significant long histories in our psyches, especially as Western Civilization rose and expanded over time. It is important to understand other civilizations took different routes that did not necessitate the Death of the Mother or the Father, and thus they have charted very different realms of inner space that we in the West remain mostly ignorant of.
Nature, motherhood, fertility, earth (e.g., Hathor, Isis, Gaia, Rhea); Mary, Mother of Jesus (e.g., motherhood, protective); creative force (e.g., birth/rebirth, growth/regrowth, regeneration); moon (e.g., Selene—Titan goddess; other moon goddesses around the world and time: Gleti, Mawu, Ilargi, Losna, Kuu, Selardi, Silewe Nazarate, Myeongwol, Lona, Hina, Mahina, Coyolxauhqui, Metztli, Arasy, Mama Killa, Ka-Ata-Killa,Hanwi, Awilix–Xbalanque, Huitaca, Chía, Jaci); snakes, triangles, and squiggles (e.g., triangles symbolize the female private area with entrances to old churches built with the symbol of the female private area to signify entering the womb); the Chalice/Cup; (e.g., womb of a woman, chalice is the symbol of the Holy Communion); Crow Mother or Angwusnasomtaka (e.g., nurturing, loving mother); Tapuat (e.g., labyrinth is the Hopi symbol for mother and child, it is the cradle, also the symbolize of from where we all come and shall eventually return); there are many more symbols for mother)
This complex is a group of feelings and toned ideas associated with the experience and image of mother. Clearly it is a symbol of source of life and nurturing and it foundational for humanity to even exist at all on Earth. From the Analytical Psychology Blog:
"Mother complex’ stems from the same roots as the ‘Father complex’, however in mother`s case it might take more serious and bigger dimensions as a mother is the one, who constantly remains with a child. ‘Mother complex’ differs from ‘Father complex’ also for the cause of her pregnancy and a necessity to carry a child throughout 9 months, which can be also saturated with a fear of losing a child or giving birth to an unhealthy person. The mother is the one, who is the most connected to the child and all her life revolves around the urgent necessity to care about him/her. The complex’s manifestations are practically the same as in the father`s case, however, it might take the feminine forms in particular situations, which is individual for each case ‘Mother`s Complex’ is not grave as long as it does not grow into obsession and does cause complications for mother`s life and that of a child."
Then, discovering Daryl Sharp’s Jung Lexicon from Frith Luton material, the depth of mother symbolism and impact on the psyche indeed goes deeper.
"The mother complex is a potentially active component of everyone's psyche, informed first of all by experience of the personal mother, then by significant contact with other women and by collective assumptions. The constellation of a mother complex has differing effects according to whether it appears in a son or a daughter.
A man's mother complex is influenced by the contrasexual complex, the anima. To the extent that a man establishes a good relationship with his inner woman (instead of being possessed by her), even a negative mother complex may have positive effects.
[He] may have a finely differentiated Eros instead of, or in addition to, homosexuality. . . . This gives him a great capacity for friendship, which often creates ties of astonishing tenderness between men and may even rescue friendship between the sexes from the limbo of the impossible. . . .In the same way, what in its negative aspect is Don Juanism can appear positively as bold and resolute manliness; ambitious striving after the highest goals; opposition to all stupidity, narrow-mindedness, injustice, and laziness; willingness to make sacrifices for what is regarded as right, sometimes bordering on heroism; perseverance, inflexibility and toughness of will; a curiosity that does not shrink even from the riddles of the universe; and finally, a revolutionary spirit which strives to put a new face upon the world.[Ibid., pars 164f.]
In the daughter, the effect of the mother complex ranges from stimulation of the feminine instinct to its inhibition. In the first case, the preponderance of instinct makes the woman unconscious of her own personality.
The exaggeration of the feminine side means an intensification of all female instincts, above all the maternal instinct. The negative aspect is seen in the woman whose only goal is childbirth. To her the husband is . . . first and foremost the instrument of procreation, and she regards him merely as an object to be looked after, along with children, poor relations, cats, dogs, and household furniture. [Ibid., par. 167.]
In the second case, the feminine instinct is inhibited or wiped out altogether. As a substitute, an overdeveloped Eros results, and this almost invariably leads to an unconscious incestuous relationship with the father. The intensified Eros places an abnormal emphasis on the personality of others. Jealousy of the mother and the desire to outdo her become the leitmotifs of subsequent undertakings.[Ibid., par. 168.]
Alternatively, the inhibition of the feminine instinct may lead a woman to identify with her mother. She is then unconscious of both her own maternal instinct and her Eros, which are then projected onto the mother.
As a sort of superwoman (admired involuntarily by the daughter), the mother lives out for her beforehand all that the girl might have lived for herself. She is content to cling to her mother in selfless devotion, while at the same time unconsciously striving, almost against her will, to tyrannize over her, naturally under the mask of complete loyalty and devotion. The daughter leads a shadow-existence, often visibly sucked dry by her mother, and she prolongs her mother's life by a sort of continuous blood transfusion.[ Ibid., par. 169.]
Because of their apparent "emptiness," these women are good hooks for men's projections. As devoted and self-sacrificing wives, they often project their own unconscious gifts onto their husbands.
And then we have the spectacle of a totally insignificant man who seemed to have no chance whatsoever suddenly soaring as if on a magic carpet to the highest summits of achievement. [ Ibid., par. 182.] In Jung's view, these three extreme types are linked together by many intermediate stages, the most important being where there is an overwhelming resistance to the mother and all she stands for. It is the supreme example of the negative mother-complex. The motto of this type is: Anything, so long as it is not like Mother! . . . All instinctive processes meet with unexpected difficulties; either sexuality does not function properly, or the children are unwanted, or maternal duties seem unbearable, or the demands of marital life are responded to with impatience and irritation.[Ibid., par. 170.]
Such a woman often excels in Logos activities, where her mother has no place. If she can overcome her merely reactive attitude toward reality, she may later in life come to a deeper appreciation of her femininity.
Thanks to her lucidity, objectivity, and masculinity, a woman of this type is frequently found in important positions in which her tardily discovered maternal quality, guided by a cool intelligence, exerts a most beneficial influence. This rare combination of womanliness and masculine understanding proves valuable in the realm of intimate relationships as well as in practical matters. [Ibid., par. 186.]
At the core of any mother complex is the mother archetype, which means that behind emotional associations with the personal mother, both in men and in women, there is a collective image of nourishment and security on the one hand (the positive mother), and devouring possessiveness on the other (the negative mother).
Connected to the Mother Complex is the Dead Mother Complex.
The dead mother complexis a clinical condition described by Andre Green involving an early and destructive identification with the figure of a 'dead' – or rather depressed and emotionally unavailable – mother. Green introduced the concept in an essay written in 1980, published in 1983, and translated into English in 1986. He saw the dead mother complex as involving a mother who was initially emotionally engaged with her child, but who then "switched off" from emotional resonance to emotional detachment, perhaps under the influence of loss and mourning in her own family of origin. The impact on the child, when it finds itself unable to restore a feeling contact, is the internalization of a hard unresponsive emotional core, which fosters a destructive form of narcissism, contributes to attachment disorders,and reveals itself as a major resistance to progress in the transference. Later, writers have argued for differentiating a range of responses within the dead mother complex, reserving the name dead mother syndrome for the most acute form.
Sky, Stars, Time (e.g., Zeus, Chronos, Rangi); Sun (e.g., Apollo, Ra, Grandfather Sun); Oak Tree; Raven (e.g., the messenger of Apollo, Raven Father, also Falcon and Eagle); Stag (e.g., antlers symbolize dominance, tools, weapons, and status)
The father complex is pervasive and even the most learned of men in psychology and psychiatry have succumb to its powers and been blinded by its effects. For instance, Freud and Jung seem to have fell under its influence and yet denied they had. According to Wikipedia, Freud argued the father complex consisted of fear, defiance, and disbelief of the father. He felt this is why some of his male patients resisted his treatment. Freud writes about this complex, which isthe conceptual core of his book Totem and Taboo (1912-3). Wikipedia says:
"Freud and Jung both used the father complex as a tool to illuminate their own personal relations. For example, as their early intimacy deepened, Jung had written to Freud asking him to "let me enjoy your friendship not as that of equals but as that of father and son".
However, in his own efforts “to struggle free from his psychoanalytic father figure (Freud), Jung would reject the term "father complex" as Viennese name calling—despite his own use of it in the past to illuminate precisely such situations.”Continuing from Wikipedia: “After the Freud/Jung split, Jung had equally continued to use the father complex to illuminate father/son relations, such as in the case of the father-dependent patient who Jung termed "a fils a papa" (regarding him, Jung wrote "[h]is father is still too much the guarantor of his existence"), or when Jung noted how a positive father complex could produce an over-readiness to believe in authority. Jung and his followers were equally prepared to use the concept to explain female psychology, such as when a negatively charged father complex made a woman feel that all men were likely to be uncooperative, judgmental, and harsh in the same image.Eating disorders expert Margo D. Maine used the concept of "father hunger" in her book Fathers, Daughters and Food (Nov 1991), with particular emphasis on the relationship with the daughter.Jungians have emphasized the power of parent hunger, forcing one repeatedly to seek out unactualized parts of the father archetype in the outside world. One answer men have been offered is to move into generativity; to find the lost father within themselves, the internal father, and hand him on to their successors, thereby shifting from demanding parental guidance to providing it.”
“This complex is described as deriving from a natural habit of constant preoccupation and care about child that can grow into a complex. Possessors of it usually publicly call their fathers ‘good fathers’ or “ideal fathers” (i.e., a father who gives their offspring the best without asking any remuneration or gratitude in return). This can set up mental dilemma where the child becomes a kind of parent obsessed. Even when all needs of a child are satisfied and they are grown up, a parent remains ready to run to the ‘child`s rescue’ as he is used to. If he does not do so, he becomes anxious. And even when he does so, he is anxious that is why this complex resembles a sort of vicious circle.
All caring male parents who are sensitive possess a ‘Father complex. It is practically difficult to avoid it as this type of father tends to spend his free time with a child, helping him/her learn the world and providing a happy and adequate life for a child. The father is teacher, guide, protector, advice giver, even if the child does not seek advice, the father gives it. When a child becomes an adult, he/she always remains a child for his/her parent—that is why the ‘parent-child relation’ does not change significantly even as children become adults. This can lead to an even closer relationship or it can cause a ruptureand alienation.”
“Father complex is group of feeling-toned ideas associated with the experience and image of father. (See also Logos.) In men, a positive father-complex very often produces a certain credulity with regard to authority and a distinct willingness to bow down before all spiritual dogmas and values; while in women, it induces the liveliest spiritual aspirations and interests. In dreams, it is always the father-figure from whom the decisive convictions, prohibitions, and wise counsels emanate. [“The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales,” CW 9i, par. 396.]
I will not reproduce all this valuable material for I do not know Daryl Sharp, but this entry ends with this vital insight—something I have never heard about this complex in relation to how it can impact a woman. He writes:
“What has been spoiled by the father” [A reference to Hexagram 18 in the I Ching (Richard Wilhelm edition, p. 80): “Work ok on What Has Been Spoiled.”] can only be made good by a father. [“The Personification of the Opposites,” CW 14, par. 232.]
Powerful indeed. I think culturally, we all remain very much under the influence of the Father Complex—both men and women. And, the father has most definitely become infused with the idea of God. As one looks across religions and time, one can see this transformation. Here are just some of the names of God as Father. Names of the Father:
Judaism – Elohim, I AM, YHWH, "Adonai" ("Lord")—Almost all Orthodox Jews avoid using either Yahweh or Jehovah altogether and use the term HaShem (השם) as an indirect reference to God or Lord; Christianity – “Early Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had used a form like Yahweh, and claim that this pronunciation of the tetragrammaton was never really lost. Other Greek transcriptions also indicated that YHWH should be pronounced Yahweh.” “God is quoted as saying‘I am the Alpha and the Omega.’ Some Quakers refer to God as The Light. Another term used is King of Kings or Lord of Lords and Lord of Hosts. Bog is the word for God in most Slavic languages.The term is derived from Proto-Slavic*bogъ, which originally meant "earthly wealth/well-being; fortune", with a semantic shift to "dispenser of wealth/fortune" and finally "god". The term may have originally been a borrowing from the Iranian languages.” Mormonism– the name of God the Father is Elohim, the name of Jesus in his pre-incarnate state was Jehovah. Together, with the Holy Ghost they form the Godhead; God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.Mormons typically refer to God as "Heavenly Father" or "Father in Heaven". Islam – Allah—meaning "He Who is Worshipped by Right" in Arabic—is the name of God in Islam.God has many names in Islam, the Qur'an says (translation) to Him Belong the Best Names (Lahu Al-Asmao Al-Husna), examples like Ar-Rahman (The Entirely Merciful), Ar-Rahim (The Especially Merciful). Sufism – In Tasawwuf, the inner, mystical dimension of Islam, Hu, Huwa (depends on placement in sentence), or Parvardigar in Persian are used as names of God. Bahá'í– their scriptures often refer to God by various titles and attributes, such as Almighty, All-Possessing, All-Powerful, All-Wise, Incomparable, Gracious, Helper, All-Glorious, and Omniscient. Bahá'ís believe the Greatest Name of God is "All-Glorious" or Bahá in Arabic.Hinduism – The Sanatana Dharma focuses only on formless God. There are multiple names for God's Various Forms worshiped as Demigod Deities (Devata and Devi)— कृष्णKrsna, Bhagavan, भगवान , Brahman,ब्रह्मन् ,Isvara ईश्वर , Brahma, ब्रह्मा ,Maha Visnu/Adi Narayan विष्णु , Siva शिव, Shakti शक्ति. Arya Samaj – Maharishi Dayanand in his book Satyarth Prakash has listed 100 names of God each representing some property or attribute thereof mentioning “Om or Aum” as God's personal and natural name. Jainism – rejects the idea of a creator deity responsible for the manifestation, creation, or maintenance of this universe. According to Jain doctrine, the universe and its constituents (soul, matter, space, time, and principles of motion) have always existed.Jains define godliness as the inherent quality of any soul characterizing infinite bliss, infinite power, Perfect knowledge and Perfect peace. However, these qualities of a soul are subdued due to karmas of the soul. One who achieves this state of soul through right belief, right knowledge and right conduct can be termed as god. Sikhism – some of the popular names for God in Sikhism are: Akal Purakh, meaning timeless being; Ik Onkar, One Creator, found at the beginning of the Sikh Mul Mantar; Nirankar, meaning formless; Satnam meaning True Name, some are of the opinion that this is a name for God in itself, others believe that this is an adjective used to describe the "Gurmantar", Waheguru; Waheguru, meaning Wonderful Teacher bringing light to remove darkness, this name is considered the greatest among Sikhs, and it is known as Gurmantar, the Guru's Word. Waheguru is the only way to meet God in Sikhism; Dātā or Dātār, meaning the Giver; Kartā or Kartār, meaning the Doer; Diāl, meaning compassionate; Kirpāl, meaning benevolent. Zoroastrianism – there are 101 names of God (PazandSad-o-yak nam-i-khoda) is a list of names of God (Ahura Mazda). The list is preserved in Persian, Pazand and Gujarati. Parsi tradition expanded this to a list of "101 names of God.
I explored this a little bit in my Divine Dodo blog
The Divine Dodo — Names of the Allfather:
Dodo hangs in the silence of the black void… stunned. https://sapience207.wordpress.com/2019/04/16/the-divine-dodo-names-of-the-allfather%EF%BB%BF/
Death of the Mother
One of the first things that seems to have occurred in the psychology and rise of Western Civilization is the death of the mother or the ending of the rule of the matriarchy. In the selection below, it is of particular interest to note Robert Graves (mythographer) who translated and interpreted many of the legends and myth fragments about Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, and Orestes. He believes some of these suggest a ritual killing of a “king” (Agamemnon) in very early religious ceremonies, which were suppressed when patriarchy replaced the matriarchies of very ancient Greece.
Orestes Complex – This complex’s hallmark is a suppressed desire of a son to get rid of his mother by all possible means. The Analytical Psychology blog says initial stages may manifest as a son totally isolating himself from his mother until a total cut-off of between mother and son occurs. Final stages can include a son`s manifested aggressive behavior towards the mother, but this can take different forms depending on the mother`s response.
What Happened: "In the Homeric telling of the story, Orestes is a member of the doomed house of Atreus, descended from Tantalus and Niobe. Orestes is absent from Mycenae when his father, Agamemnon, returns from the Trojan War. He brings with him the Trojan princess Cassandra as his concubine. Orestes is not present when Agamemnon, Cassandra, and their two children are murder by his wife (Orestes’ mother) Clytemnestra's lover Aegisthus. Seven years later, Orestes returns from Athens and avenges his father's death (with the help of his sister Electra)by slaying both Aegisthus and his own mother—Clytemnestra. [It should be notedthat Clytemnestra held a grudge against her husband for agreeing to sacrifice their eldest daughter, Iphigenia, to Artemis so he could send his ships to fight in the Trojan war.]
The Consequences: "In Aeschylus's Eumenides, Orestes goes mad after the deed and is pursued by the Erinyes, whose duty it is to punish any violation of the ties of family piety. He takes refuge in the temple at Delphi; but, even though Apollo had ordered him to do the deed, he is powerless to protect Orestes from the consequences. At last Athena receives him on the acropolis of Athens and arranges a formal trial of the case before twelve judges, including herself. The Erinyes demand their victim; he pleads the orders of Apollo. Athena votes last announcing that she is for acquittal; then the votes are counted, and the result is a tie, resulting in an acquittal according to the rules previously stipulated by Athena. The Erinyes are propitiated by a new ritual, in which they are worshipped as "Semnai Theai", "Venerable Goddesses", and Orestes dedicates an altar to Athena Areia.
Deeper Meaning: End of the matriarchies in the Western World: "In The Greek Myths the mythographer and poet Robert Graves translates and interprets the legends and myth fragments about Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, and Orestes, as suggesting a ritual killing of a "king" (Agamemnon) in very early religious ceremonies that were suppressed when patriarchy replaced the matriarchies of very ancient Greece. Graves interprets the sacrilege for which the Erinyes pursued Orestes, namely the killing of his mother, as representing symbolically the destruction of the ancient matriarchy and its replacement by patriarchy. He suggests that worship of the female deity Athena was retained as a cult because, despite the overthrow of matriarchy and woman-rule generally, it was too strong to be suppressed; Graves thinks she was recast as a child of Zeus (born without a mother, directly from Zeus' head) in the new patriarchal myths. As a character in Aeschylus' trilogy, Athena was given the previously incomprehensible role of justifying the overthrow, rationalizing as a "new way of justice" what would have been a horrific crime against the old, matriarchal religious customs. Graves, and many other mythographers including most notably those of the Cambridge Ritualist school, were influenced by The Golden Bough of James Frazer, who postulated that myths often reveal clues to ancient religious practices and rituals.
As Dodo falls back towards the beast, he hears birds chirping, water running, and wind blowing through trees—such sweet, nourishing sounds that remind him of Earth—his lost paradise, which makes Dodo sad for he remains stuck in the endless vacuous void—Hell! The bounce DJ and the drummers gave him was not strong enough to help him escape the gravity of the beast. And so, the only thing he can do is spiral down again towards the beast comforted only by his sadness.
With the mother suppressed, the rule of the father and reign of the patriarchy begins. With it a new psychic struggle for power and control begins as depicted in myths and stories about this struggle. One of the key stories is that of Cain and Abel.
Cain Complex – This complex is primarily viewed as a rivalry between brothers or/and sisters for all-inclusive parental love (in childhood) and highest social status (in adulthood). The Analytical Psychology blog says, “Competition may take violent forms and accepts victory (supremacy) only of one of the siblings.” Another traditional interpretation of it comes from Alchemipedia:
Cain Complex Facts:
1) The Cain complex is characterized by rivalry, competition, & extreme jealousy (or envy) of a brother, leading to hatred;
2) In Psychiatry, this complex is recognized as a destructive form of sibling rivalry which may lead to fratricide;
3) There is usually perceived favoritism from a parental figure.
Cain Complex Biblical Origins:
1) Cain was the first son of Adam & Eve. (Bible - Gen. 4.);
2) Cain murdered his brother Abel (see painting) out of jealousy & was condemned to be a fugitive by God;
3) The 2 brothers, on one Sabbath(?) presented their offerings to the Lord;
4) Abel's offering was of the "firstlings of his flock and of the fat," while Cain's was "of the fruit of the ground."
5) Abel's sacrifice was considered "more excellent" (Heb. 11:4) than Cain's, & was accepted by God.
6) From this event Cain was "very wroth," & cherished feelings of murderous hatred against his brother; leading to the murder of Abel (1 John 3:12).
7) For this crime Cain was expelled from Eden, & henceforth led the life of an exile.
As with the other complexes, I think there is more going on with this complex. A journal article by Richard Hughes in the American Imago (Fall, 1979) entitled Szondi’s Theory of the Cain Complex suggests indeed there is a lot more to this complex. He writes:
“It is customary within modern religious thought to interpret the nature of evil on the basis of ancient myth. This is because modern scholarship has revealed that the forms of religion are dependent on archaic sources. Frequently, the interpretations of human action are developed with concepts borrowed from psychiatry, particularly psychoanalysis. Based upon the Oedipus Complex, the psychoanalytic view narrates the rebellion of the sons against a primal father. They conspire against him, murder him, and replace him with their own political organization.The political community is organized around a totem and the incest taboo.The spirit of rebellion continues to inform political activity, since it consists of aggressive young men who, with sexual desire, plunder their enemies and possess their women. In this vision, evil comes from an original crime, the components of which are aggression and sexuality. The paradigm of evil is the murder of the patriarchal authority.
The psychoanalytic interpretation of evil has influenced considerably recent theological discussions. For the mythical vision of the primal murder translates into a ‘Death of God’ theology. This conversation implies that the reality of God is incompatible with radical evil. Thus, the massive release of evil in the twentieth century—the wars, terrorism, the Holocaust—are analogous with the slaying of God. The provide the occasion for widespread unbelief.
The aim of this essay is to explore an alternative myth structure. While not rejecting the Oedipus Complex as such, the essay discusses the Cain Complex and seeks its religious implications. The Cain concept appears throughout the writings of L. Szondi, a Hungarian psychiatrist who, for several decades, has been practicing in Zurich, Switzerland. Though not well known in this country he has…”
— Richard Hughes, American Imago (Fall, 1979), Szondi’s Theory of the Cain Complex
That is all I can read from this excerpt, but what Hughes is suggesting is profound, even if it is not entirely accurate for how could one theory encompass what has become a global civilization that being Western Civilization with a hallmark of expansion, plundering, and possession of women, but also precious resources in the lands where Westerners have expanded. Perhaps every person who depends on Western systems to survive (e.g., economy, politics, culture) has at least one foot in this complex, if not being completely submerged in it. And so, the son kills the father, which symbolize the replacement of the father’s rule with the son’s version of patriarchal rule, and with each version Hughes and Szondi suggest there was a murdering the previous polytheism beliefs until arriving at to monotheism, and then the final father is murder…the Death of God… arriving at atheism, but also as Hughes says above the massive release of evil in the 20thCentury… a toxic release we have still not let completely out. Hughes and Szondi suggest the Cain-Abel cycle is a necessary balance between the opposites. From a webpage dedicated to Szondi, I found this explanation:
Cain, Abel, Moses Szondi's show of reality is marked by the experience that in each complementary pair of opposites (polarity) the poles are dynamically and inseparably connected, thus forming an entirety. Therefore, it must not be one-sidedly aimed at the good and fought the evil, but rather good and evil must be understood as two sides of a unity which to keep in a dynamic balance. To understand human affective dynamics, Szondi attached much importance to the polarity of Cain and Abel. The duty of man to recognize the complementary opposites in him and to live them, finds its symbolic interpretation in the integrating figure of Moses. In the person of Moses, the outstanding human achievement of conscience and ethics takes shape through the dialectically combined activity of Cain and Abel.
Several other readings that were stimulated from a discussion on the Cain Complex include:
Moulton Lava: The Mark of Cain and the Mark of Pain: An emphatic retelling of the Cain and Abel story and penetrating questions such as Can you recognize an anguished Mark of Pain on the soul of a fellow traveler?
Cognition, Affect, and Learning: The Role of Emotions In Learning: “Our species, Homo Sapiens, is the being who thinks. But we are also the beings who learn, and the beings who experience a rich spectrum of affective emotional states. This article presents research and theoretical models relating emotions to learning and cognition.” I love Figure 4: The Roller Coaster Learning Curve, which also looks like a snake and Jung says the progression between conscious content and unconscious content is always like the motion of a snake… just like this learning curve: “In the above slide, we can see the ups and downs of the rollicking learning curve. We call this ‘Non-Monotonic Learning’ to remind ourselves that sometimes we acquire erroneous beliefs and misconceptions which we eventually have to discard. In that slide, I’ve superimposed a ‘Frowny Face Scowl’ and a ‘Happy Face Smile’ to point out where the emotional states are variously negative valence (unhappy) and positive valence (happy).”
Contagion by Barry Kort – This is short (unlike my blogs) and very important. Here are key take away from the end, but it is worth reading the 5 stages: “The 5-stage pattern can be observed to repeat at all levels of power and for all rivalries and competitions. The most virulent conflicts are over respect, attention, money, power, sex, land, cultural values, or ideology. Ethnic conflicts, political conflicts, and culture wars typically follow this model. At every stage of the model, we need to be mindful of the dynamic we are caught up in, and consciously elect to run the model in reverse. Until now, the great theologians and peacemakers presented this as tenets of important religions or as tenets of ethics or morality. Girard has taken us to the next step of reckoning this model as a sociological or systems theoretical model capable of guiding public policy, especially policy regarding the way we think about law and order or crime and punishment.”
Death of the Father
In the age of the Death of the Father, the archetypes, complexes, and stories diverge in all sorts of ways that continue to fracture and diverge to this day. There is no straight line in the psyche. For instance, there continue to be pockets on Earth where matriarchalsocieties survive, also where the rule of the first patriarchal societies survive, but also where the overthrow of the father by the son has occurred, many times. Hughes and Szondi (cited above) suggest the Death of the Father corresponds with the death of God, which has unleashed untold abuses of power and authority in the 20thcentury. Regardless of which patriarchal rule women have had to survive under, Western patriarchal have tended to be brutal to woman and put them in terrible situations where they have loss of control of even their own bodies and self-determination. Thus, the stories and complexes that follow the Death of the Father seem to be what happens to men and women over time after the Death of Mother.
The most famous story about the death of the father is the Oedipus and Elektra story, but there are others found throughout other times and civilizations. Freud thought these two complexes were the only complexes that affected the human psyche. He built his whole analysis around them. While they are deeply significant, the rift between Freud and Jung started with their differences on complexes. Jung saw there were many more, leading him into his groundbreaking work about them, the archetypes, and collective unconscious.
Complex of Oedipus\Elektra – These complexes are famous and complicated as their myths reveal, thus beware of over-simplified definitions of them. The best-known version of the Oedipus myth is:
Oedipus was born to King Laius and Queen Jocasta. Laius wished to thwart a prophecy given to him that his son would kill him and marry his wife, so he sent a shepherd-servant to leave Oedipus (his newborn son) to die on a mountainside. However, the shepherd took pity on the baby and passed him to another shepherd who gave Oedipus to King Polybus and Queen Merope to raise as their own. Oedipus learned from the oracle at Delphi of the prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother but, unaware of his true parentage, believed he was fated to murder Polybus and marry Merope, so left for Thebes. On his way he met an older man and killed him in a quarrel. Continuing on to Thebes, he found that the king of the city (Laius) had been recently killed, and that the city was at the mercy of the Sphinx. Oedipus answered the monster's riddlecorrectly, defeating it and winning the throne of the dead king – and the hand in marriage of the king's widow, who was also (unbeknownst to him) his mother Jocasta. Years later, to end a plague on Thebes, Oedipus searched to find who had killed Laius, and discovered that he himself was responsible. Jocasta, upon realizing that she had married her own son, hanged herself. Oedipus then seized two pins from her dress and blinded himself with them. – From Wikipedia
In women, this complex is known as the Elektra Complex. In Greek mythology, Elektra was the daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra, and thus princess of Argos. She and her brother Orestes plotted revenge against their mother Clytemnestra and stepfather Aegisthus for the murder of their father. This is because when Electra’s father, King Agamemnon, returned from the Trojan War, he brought with him his war prize from the Trojan War Princess Cassandrawho had already borne him twin sons. Upon their arrival, Agamemnon and Cassandra were murdered by either Clytemnestra herself or her lover Aegisthusor both. Clytemnestra had held a grudge against her husband for agreeing to sacrifice their eldest daughter, Iphigenia, to Artemis so he could send his ships to fight in the Trojan war, thus she killed him upon his return. Eight years later, Electra plotted and helped her brother, Orestes, murder their mother and step-father. – Partially from Wikipedia
Jocasta complex – This complex also originates from the Oedipus myth and it typified by a mother’s obsessive fixation of her son leading to an adoration cult of son. From Wikipedia: In psychoanalytic theory, the Jocasta complex is the incestuoussexual desire of a mother towards her son. Raymond de Saussure introduced the term in 1920 by way of analogy to its logical converse in psychoanalysis, the Oedipus complex, and it may be used to cover different degrees of attachment, including domineering but asexual mother love – something perhaps particularly prevalent with an absent father. The Jocasta complex is named for Jocasta, a Greek queen who unwittingly married her son, Oedipus. The Jocasta complex is similar to the Oedipus complex, in which a child has sexual desire towards their parent(s). The term is a bit of an extrapolation, since in the original story Oedipus and Jocasta were unaware that they were mother and son when they married. The usage in modern contexts involves a son with full knowledge of who his mother is. Theodor Reik saw the “Jocasta mother”, with an unfulfilled adult relationship of her own and an over-concern for her child instead, as a prime source of neurosis. George Devereux went further, arguing that the child’s Oedipal complex was itself triggered by a pre-existing parental complex (Jocasta/Laius). Eric Berne also explored the other (parental) side of the Oedipus complex, pointing to related family dramas such as “mother sleeping with daughter’s boyfriend … when mother has no son to play Jocasta with.”
Medea Complex – This complexrefers to a disturbed mother-child relationship with obvious destructive aspects. An article in the Jung Journal says: “It evokes a central theme that Jung articulated in his writing about the Terrible Mother. The best-known story of Medea is based on the mythical figure portrayed in Euripides’s fifth-century BCE play. The complex, as well as this story, includes elements of betrayal, abandonment, stealing, and vengeance directed at helpless children.”In Euripides’ play, Medea is a woman scorned and rejected by her husband Jason, and thus seeks her revenge.
"In the play, the Nurse gives descriptions of Medea in the prologue, highlighting comparisons to great forces of nature and different animals. There are also many nautical references throughout the play either used by other characters when describing Medea or by Medea herself. By including these references, Boedeker argues that these comparisons were used to create connections to the type of woman Medea was. She holds great power (referred to by the comparisons to forces of nature), she relies on her basic animal-like instincts and emotions (connections to different animals like bulls and lions), and it draws the audience back her original myth of Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece and the sea voyage taken by Jason, Medea, and the Argonauts.
Emma Griffiths adds to the analysis of Medea's character in Euripides's play by discussing the male/female dichotomy created by Euripides. Medea does not fit into the mold of a “normal woman” according to Athenian philosophy. She is depicted as having great intelligence and skill, something typically viewed as a masculine trait by Euripides' original audience. On the other hand, she uses that cunning in order to manipulate the men around her, and manipulation of other people would have been a negative female trait to the Athenian audience. There is also the paradox of how she chooses to murder her victims in the play. She poisons the princess, which would have been seen as a feminine way of murder, yet kills her children in cold blood, which is seen as more masculine. She also has dialogue about her children and shows a strong maternal love and connection to them, something that was essential to “normal women” in Athenian society. Yet at the end of the play she is able to kill her children as part of her revenge. It is through these opposites that Euripides creates a complicated character for his protagonist.
Griselda Complex – This complex is misunderstood. Some say it embodies a father’s obsessive desire of a father to keep his daughter by his side, impeding her getting married. But the roots of this story are much deeper than this. It is a story of a monstrous husband and in-laws and the gentleness and unquestioning obedience of the wife, Griselda. In the book Women, Family and Ritual in Renaissance Italy by Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, I think she hits upon the heart of this complex as she traces this story to the emergence of the Western system of a bride price that transformed into the custom of giving a dowry when a woman married. This particularly become embedded as a ritual custom with the emergence of money and the acceptance of the rights of male heirs only to inherit their father’s estate to the exclusion of female members. She points out that the men of the woman’s clan do this partly to endow the wife as worthy since she is essentially an alien member to the husband’s family lineage. This is really important. We think we are so evolved as modern humans, but deep roots clearly descend down to our most primitive instincts around resource guarding and lineage purity. The story of Griselda is one of husband cruelty and her acceptance of it.
From Wikipedia: In the most famous version of the Griselda tale, written by Giovanni Boccaccio c. 1350, Griselda marries Gualtieri, the Marquis of Saluzzo, who tests her by declaring that their two children—a son and a daughter—must both be put to death. Griselda gives both of them up without protest, but Gualtieri doesn't actually kill the children, instead sending them away to Bologna to be raised. In a final test, Gualtieri publicly renounces Griselda, claiming he had been granted papal dispensation to divorce her and marry a better woman; Griselda goes to live with her father. Some years later, Gualtieri announces he is to remarry and recalls Griselda as a servant to prepare the wedding celebrations. He introduces her to a twelve-year-old girl he claims is to be his bride but who is really their daughter; Griselda wishes them well. At this, Gualtieri reveals their grown children to her and Griselda is restored to her place as wife and mother.Returning back to Klapisch-Zuber’s book, she says (and I think this is getting at the heart of the matter of this story and this complex, which may really be a group complex): “In order to cross the frontier that separates the human world from the supernatural, Griselda has to take on, then rid herself of, the clothing appropriate to that passage [Note: this refers to jewels and wedding dress the husband might adorn his new bride]. Rites of clothing have a profound unity, whether they signal a passage from this world to the supernatural or, as here, are taken by Florentines almost as law. This unity emerges clearly in the formula Tibi res tuas habetothat Apuleius puts in the mouth of Cupid as he rejects Psyche (another version of the same tale), since this was the very formula that signified divorce in classical antiquity. Similarly, a Florentine widow would carry away her dowry goods, and Griselda only her chemise, leaving the rich garments and jewels offered by the husband under his heirs’ roof. Both wore their finery and their jewels only as long as their marriage lasted, be that for a long period of conjugal union, sometimes further prolonged by a chaste widowhood, or for the short span of the nuptial period.”
I leave the reader to parse out the truth of this complex if it be a complex, I believe it is possibly a cultural or collective complex we all fall victim to.
Adonis Complex – This complex occurs in men stemming from a perception he is singularly unique because of his beauty. This belief is enhanced by people around him who notice and are affected by his good looks. In Greek mythology, Adonis was the mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite. Let’s just say it didn’t end well for Adonis. A man with this complex demonstrates a constant perception of his own physical attractiveness. He plays with the power of his beauty and charm. He can be extremely selfish. This complex can take a grave form and threaten the safety of the others, which can lead to forceful isolation of the ‘sufferer’ from the rest of the world.
God Complex – This complex consists of a widespread illusion of unlimited personal potential and/or power. In Greek mythology, Narcissus suffered from this complex. He was so proud to the point “he disdained those who loved him, causing some to commit suicide to prove their unrelenting devotion to his striking beauty. Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, a fixation with oneself and one’s physical appearance or public perception.” (Wikipedia) A person with this complex can become the source of serious troubles between him/herself and society. The idea of being omnipotence can lead to substances use and the constant need to stimulate the brain core (e.g., either regular occurrences of life-threatening accidents or engaging in life-threatening risky activities). Another hallmark is stubbornness and a categorical unwillingness to admit one`s own faults. A person with this complex regularly ignores the opinions of others, especially if they do not agree with their own ideas. This complex tends to grow into a maniac syndrome if treatment and consciousness is not brought to it.
Cassandra Complex – This complexrefers to a belief destiny can be known in advance. In the Greek myth, Cassandra was cursed to utter prophecies that were true but that no one believes her. Such an individual has a superordinate amount of empathy and a strong certainty they have an important mission to accomplish that is informed through insights, visions, and constant warnings about the consequence of incorrect behavior. This strong calling and visions can cause the person to experience physical and emotional suffering that is exacerbated when they try to share the source of their worry or concern because others do not believe them. Their inability, ignorance, or unwillingness to understand cause suffering worse than the visions.
Antigone Complex – This complex is extremely complicated. From what I have read, it is sorely misunderstood, especially by Freud. The best analysis I found is a blog by Mark Thorn in which his last paragraph summarizes a very complicated complex better than anything else I read. He says: “ ‘Antigone’ literally means ‘against birth,’ or ‘contrary birth,’ which most have interpreted to indicate Antigone’s status as the product of incest, a perverse or ‘contrary’ union. However, a literal interpretation of ‘against birth’ is perhaps more significant. Antigone unconsciously wished to return to the womb, to pre-birth; she truly wished to undo her birth throughout the action of Antigone. Antigone embodies the human predicament: the forced renunciation of primary and secondary love-objects, the subsequent substitute-gratifications, the perpetual conflict between social demands and instinctual aims, and the clash between the two irresolvable fundamental drives—one seeking life and pleasure, the other wishing to undo life altogether.”
"Before this Thorn describes the situation and motivations that lead Antigone to kill herself saying: “In Greek mythology—and Sophocles’ Oedipus trilogy is but a dramatization of the Oedipus myth—Earth was an animate being, Gaia. Hence when Ouranos stuffed his newborn children into the Earth, he was literally returning them to the womb of their mother, Gaia; he was essentially undoing their births. Antigone’s wish to bury Polyneices in the Earth may accordingly be considered a symbolic wish to envelop him in a womb, the sexual nature of which is made clear by the psychology of Otto Rank.
In The Trauma of Birth, Rank proposed that the shock of being born leaves indelible impressions upon the human psyche, “that man never gives up the lost happiness of pre-natal life and that he seeks to reestablish this former state, not only in all his cultural strivings, but also in the act of procreation.” Rank views the sexual act as an attempt to restore the primal intra-uterine pleasure—physically direct for the male, physically vicarious for the female. Accordingly, Antigone’s burial of Polyneices, her father-surrogate, may unconsciously signify his entry into her womb and the attainment of the sexual love which she had hoped to receive originally from Oedipus.”
"(…) “As the story progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent that Antigone does not fear but anxiously awaits death. But what compels her to seek death? A closer analysis of her suicide elucidates the unconscious forces at play.
Throughout mythology and dreams, the cave frequently symbolizes the womb. Therefore, hanging in a cave, as Antigone does, symbolizes inhabiting a womb, in which one hangs by the umbilical cord. So perhaps Antigone’s evident wish for death was in fact a wish for a pre-birth state, a desire encompassed in Thanatos, Freud’s death instinct.
Freud supposed that human life was motivated by two fundamental drives: Eros, the life instinct, and Thanatos, the death instinct. While Eros seeks proliferation and activity, Thanatos seeks homeostasis and inactivity; the Death instinct strives toward nonexistence, the state preceding birth. But why was Antigone so anxious to meet death, or rather return to pre-birth? Why was her life governed by Thanatos? Could returning to her mother’s womb satisfy either her primary love for her father or her secondary love for Polyneices, her father-substitute?”
After reading Thorn’s piece, I categorically reject the other interpretations of this complex. It is worth reading his piece in its entirety to draw your own conclusions.
Complex of Don Juan – Don Juan is a wealthy libertine who devotes his life to seducing women. He takes great pride in his ability to seduce women all ages and stations in life, and he often disguises himself and assumes other identities in order to seduce women. During the 1918 influenza epidemic in Spain, the figure of Don Juan served as a metaphor for the flu microbe. Anthony Powell in his novel Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant contrasts Don Juan, who “merely liked power” and “obviously did not know what sensuality was”, with Casanova, who “undoubtedly had his sensuous moments”.
The mother complex is a potentially active component of everyone's psyche, informed first of all by experience of the personal mother, then by significant contact with other women and by collective assumptions. The constellation of a mother complex has differing effects according to whether it appears in a son or a daughter.
Typical effects on the son are homosexuality and Don Juanism, and sometimes also impotence [though here the father complex also plays a part]. In homosexuality, the son's entire heterosexuality is tied to the mother in an unconscious form; in Don Juanism, he unconsciously seeks his mother in every woman he meets.[Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype," CW 9i, par. 162.]
A man's mother complex is influenced by the contrasexual complex, the anima. To the extent that a man establishes a good relationship with his inner woman (instead of being possessed by her), even a negative mother complex may have positive effects.
[He] may have a finely differentiated Eros instead of, or in addition to, homosexuality. . . . This gives him a great capacity for friendship, which often creates ties of astonishing tenderness between men and may even rescue friendship between the sexes from the limbo of the impossible. . . .In the same way, what in its negative aspect is Don Juanism can appear positively as bold and resolute manliness; ambitious striving after the highest goals; opposition to all stupidity, narrow-mindedness, injustice, and laziness; willingness to make sacrifices for what is regarded as right, sometimes bordering on heroism; perseverance, inflexibility and toughness of will; a curiosity that does not shrink even from the riddles of the universe; and finally, a revolutionary spirit which strives to put a new face upon the world.[Ibid., pars 164f.]
Complex derives from constant personal frustrations incurred in intimate relations with women. Sad love story with a broken-heart-end or sexual traumatic experience might also be in the roots of this masculine complex. Complex`s manifestations vary from case to case, whereas, common aspects are the following:
Psychological perception of a woman as a source of pleasure;
Ignorance about women;
Easy-going and superficial attitude towards all women;
Tendency to change the intimate partners frequently, without concentration on someone in particular;
Dramatization of the relations with women, i.e. leaving without saying ‘good-bye’ etc.;
Habit to live at woman`s cost;
Incapacity to love a woman truly and to build a long-term stable relation.
Such people are not capable of raising a family. However, if this person aims at changing his life, psychoanalysis and personal-relations therapy shall be applied.
The number of complexes are probably as many as the number of people alive. The Analytical Psychology on Complexes blog lists many more ranging from Messianic/Redeemer Complex to Complex of an Excellent Student and Complex of Non-Love to Oneself or Complex of Loneliness. Indeed, we may create new complexes with every new generation of human born given the stresses of our modern life. Here are the ten most common psychological complexes:
Don Juan Complex
All we can do is pay attention and hope we can make our way back to the beautiful being who lives inside all of us and is a witness and force of transformation to whatever constellation of complexes and archetypes we have inherited or created in our journey through life.
In my previous blog, I explored ideas about wholeness, consciousness, division, thought traps, and the dangers of dragons and vortexes we create through personal and collective bits of unconsciousness that accumulate in our psyches over time. My ideas were inspired by a piece my friend Jürgen Hornschuh wrote as part of his Yurugu Series, specifically #2: How to identify imperialistic thought. As I wrestled with my divergent ideas, I blended the thinking of Carl Jung, Dalai Lama, David Bohm, J.M. Berger, Aqua Man, and others who are speaking to the challenges of our time. To be honest, I had not read any of Jürgen’s other pieces in his series until after completing the Yurugu Mirror. One exception is I read Fingerprints on water, which is an elegant and deeply enduring piece. Now, I am reading all Jürgen’s posts in his Yurugu Series as well as two other writings that two other friends recommended I read after they read my Yurugu Mirror piece.
As I read and digest new ideas, my thinking-word consciousness is taking a break. However, my art-vision consciousness remains busy. Below are two short videos created from art emerging from dreams and visions from my work on the Yurugu Mirror piece.
The image for this piece, Flying, comes from a fragment of a dream that is obviously speaking to the section on vortexes in the Yurugu Mirror. Putting words to what I have drawn immediately diminishes it, as Western thinking usually does. Thus, it is best to refer you to the vortex section in A Yurugu Mirror and the Role of Consciousness Warriors and watch the video, then draw your own conclusions. I will simply say I believe it broadly speaks to our unconsciousness and how we might impact and affect each other with unexamined (or unintegrated) personal and collective pieces of unconsciousness that glob together in our psyches over time. At least in my experience, it can create a dead weight that can keep a person stuck in the lower realms of conscious existence. But, remaining here becomes toxic over time, and especially so when we compete for psychic recognition and space in our shared reality. The evolution of the images in the video hints at the possibility that what we see and can measure with our physical senses is limited, and there is something far vaster and more beautiful beyond what we can see, hear, touch, and smell. This something is a divine mystery–that is the final image of the video, which I find deeply comforting.
This piece, It Came From Inside, explores the lost inner landscapes existing inside every human being. In the Yurugu Mirror, I write throughout how our inner landscapes are disappearing. The originating image for this drawing was a crumpled skyscraper in a devastated city. I was not up to drawing an entire city, so I settled on a partly destroyed skyscraper in a dried up, barren landscape. On a ridge stands the beautiful being inside who witnesses this devastation in sadness. This is how the drawing begins, but then something miraculous unfolds as a new landscape appears in parallel with the first. This one is whole and beautiful and alive. The video documents the journey between the two evolving inner landscapes as they mature through time. Again, to describe the images with words diminishes them. It is best to simply watch the story told through art and music and draw your own conclusions based on your own journey through time and awareness of (or lack of awareness of) your inner landscape.
From the very beginning of drawing this series, I knew the title was It Came From Inside, which hints at the possibility we may be destroying our shared reality (Earth) by destroying our inner landscapes first. We destroy them by forgetting they are there, forgetting how to get there, forgetting how these spaces nourish and guide us throughout our lives. As more and more of us lose access to our inner worlds, our outer world reflects this lost reality. The song came to my mind just before I started working on the video. I knew I could condense 40 minutes of video to fit the length of the song They Move of Tracks of Never-ending Light (and this 40 minutes condenses hours and hours of drawing time). I had not listened to this song in over a year, but I knew it was the right one to tell the story of this journey. The name of the group This Will Destroy You is also perfect in every way for when we become aware of things inside ourselves or about the pain and struggle of others, we inherit a responsibility that is measured by what we do or do not do with what we know. This burden of knowledge might be a huge reason why so many of us choose to live unconscious lives—it is easier if we do not see the pain inside ourselves or in others, and if we don’t see it, then we don’t have to do anything to comfort ourselves or those around us. To heal is painful, so most of us just live with a wound inside that never heals. One may wonder where the medicine men and women, shamans, and seers have gone. They are the ones who have always been there to help us heal from these deep internal wounds. They have guided people and tribes going through crisis, change, and transformation from the very beginning of our emergence into conscious beings. Today, they exist as musicians and artists—and of course indigenous people all over the world who never lost this capacity. These are the people of our time who voyage into the deepest realms inside the human psyche (and collective soul). They are the ones who bring back glimpses of the treasures and dangers residing deep inside every human being. They are the ones who can get to the bedrock of human consciousness, which is the primeval place where we first emerged from the deep and restless Sea of Unconsciousness. This is where we are barely standing Now, or maybe we are crawling on our bellies too weak to even venture beyond this point of emergence in our unstable, fragile consciousness of today.
When our inner landscapes crumble, disappear, and sink back into our unconsciousness, they become lost to us, leaving us weak, indecisive, confused, and trapped. Compounding this, the more we forget who we really are, the more we cast these forgotten parts of ourselves onto our family, friends, neighbors, and world. These cast-off parts become the “other” who we then give ourselves permission to demonize for whatever it is inside ourselves we lost. This is dangerous… really dangerous… and we have been here before 100 and 75 years ago. We are here again, except this time, in addition to rising waves of war, hunger, and hate, we teeter on the edge of climate catastrophe. I don’t know, but I feel unless we find a way to heal inside….what we see rising today is our future. If we can find a way back to our lost inner places, we can get back to the lost wisdom and knowledge needed to make different choices. This is where the strength can be found needed to be Consciousness Warriors. It is here where we find nourishment that feeds our appetite for life. It is here we are empowered to be a force for good in the world. There is no collective way inside to our inner spaces. This is an individual journey. Each person must find their own way based on their own challenges, circumstances, and pain. I don’t see one great transformation on the horizon that happens in one fell swoop of conscious light that suddenly can be seen by billions. I see it as a courageous journey that must be taken individually. But perhaps it is one that can be encouraged, supported, and helped like comrades who are on a great and perilous journey who support, comfort, and aide each other so they can all make it eventually. If we can do this, then we might have a chance.
I love what Jürgen writes in Fingerprints on water:
“Owning less goes straight against the paradigm of separation; consuming less is incompatible with the locust culture currently ruling the whole planet; and doing less, to me, is the confession that the complexity of the world is way beyond my understanding. I just don’t know what is good for everybody. I hardly know what is good for me. I’ve got an intuition, and I follow it. I don’t know where this ends, but it feels good to trust that feeling, and I do not suffer from less stuff. There is no sacrifice, no loss, no self-denial. It’s rather the opposite – every gadget, every insurance, every untruthful relationship, every idea, every activity that fell away provided space and time for something much more valuable: the essence of it all, the unadulterated sensation of living, the meaning of being alive. Not that I got that to the fullest; as already shared, I still own things, thoughts, personae. Life is becoming more and more interesting though.”
This movement away from everything we have been told to value feels right to me. It feels like moving away from the thinking that has taken us to the great chasm of our time—the chasm that exists inside each of us.
Three things I read within 24 hours of finishing the above suggests a precedence for achieving this elusive inner transformation. They are:
My former philosophy professor John Visvader wrote a piece entitled Reflections on a Chinese Garden where he talks about the differences between Chinese/Eastern thinking and the philosophy of the West. He uses the story of the Garden of Eden to highlight differences in Chinese and Western thinking saying:
“From a Chinese point of view, Adam and Eve turned a garden into a wilderness or wild place by imagining themselves to be superior to the garden, by trying to be equal to the creator of the garden. The moral knowledge they gained told them that gods and humans were qualitatively different from and superior to the world of nature. Thus, they narrowed the realm of obligatory behavior and chose to be associated with gods rather than gardens…”
John Visvader, Reflections on a Chinese Garden
This he suggests created a division in the wholeness that governs our natural world, which we are apart (we really never left… only our thinking did). This is what created the disharmony and incoherence we see today. He ends saying:
“…and our search for our own broken wholeness has made us search out paths long forgotten and lead us to believe that something like the Chinese view of human nature must be true. We have also learned in stark pragmatic terms that we are living in a smaller and more interconnected world than we might have imagined. The idea of wilderness has become a metaphor for that other metaphor of the self-so, the garden. Many of us find that we need to have a place where nature can be itself so that on some fundamental level we can also be ourselves. (…) If we find important healing in wilderness and its preservation we must recommend it to others, but the “correct behavior” which we sense and may try and spell out in terms of ethical or moral principles cannot easily convert those whose sense of self is constituted differently.”
In a lecture to his peers (Analytical Psychology Its Theory & Practice), Carl Jung describes the deeper levels of knowing needed to understand the workings of the unconsciousness and to diagnosis the troubles it can cause when critical parts inside of our psyche fail to be integrated or transformed by consciousness (the engine that strives to achieve inner wholeness). He talks about the learning and understanding developed in the far East saying:
“… We Europeans are not the only people on the earth. We are a peninsula of Asia, and on that continent there areold civilizationswhere people have trained their minds inintrospective psychology for thousands of years,whereas we began with our psychology not even yesterday but only this morning. These people have an insight that is simply fabulous, and I had to study Eastern things to understand certain facts of the unconscious. I had to go back to understand Oriental symbolism.”
Carl Jung, Analytical Psychology Its Theory & Practice (p. 74)
A little later, he describes the concept of Tao to his peers saying:
“… Tao can be anything. (…) I call it synchronicity. The Eastern mind, when it looks at an ensemble of facts, accepts that ensemble as it is, but the Western mind divides it into entities, small quantitates. (…) The Eastern mind is not at all interested in that. The Chinese mind asks: ‘What does it mean that these things [these people] are together?’ The Chinese mind experiments with that being together and coming together at the right moment. (…) It has a method of forecasting possibilities, and it is still used by the Japanese Government about political situations; it was used in the Great War. This method was formulated in 1143 B.C.”
Carl Jung, Analytical Psychology Its Theory & Practice (p.76-77) [Note: This method is the I Ching or Book of Changes]
In a book about the I Ching (i.e., The Philosophy of the I Ching), Carol K. Anthony writes:
“What we learn through the I Ching is a substratum of universal truth that underlies all major religions and philosophies of life. As these universal truths emerge in our learning, we understand the relationships that these truths have to philosophies and religions. By contrast to them, however, the I Ching way is to live in an unstructured manner, free of precepts and rules. Just as we constantly interact with the changing environment as we canoe down a river, so we learn, through the I Ching, to interact with our continuously changing lives. With the I Ching as guide, we learn our natural limitations; as we apply our knowledge, we gain experience; we avoid rocks and underwater objects; we find the channel; we learn when to paddle hard and when to rest, when to get out of the water and portage around dangerous falls. We start with the stream when it is small, at a time when our errors are less serious; then, down river, we are able to face the larger challenges. We are never totally secure; we can never plot what we are going to do more than a few feet ahead. This means we continuously adapt to the conditions as they show themselves. In finding that our abilities are up to the challenges, we develop the courage to take the risks that are always involved in a continuous learning process. Although we have a master guide in the Sage who speaks through the I Ching, who knows what lies ahead, throughout the trip we are only helped to develop our skills. It is we who make the trip, who do the paddling, who take the risks, and who, in the end, become our own masters.”
Carol K. Anthony,The Philosophy of the I Ching (Introduction, p. x)
I have written much about the Fayu tribe who live in New Guinea and remained mostly unknown to the modern world until the early 70s. What was known about them was they were fierce and did not like intruders. In this series, I explored some of their noble qualities as a people untouched by Western Civilization until recently as well as some of their not so noble ones as remembered by Sabine Kuegler in a memoir about her experience growing up as a child among this tribe. Specifically, I explored the idea of how their warrior spirit became lopsided, overpowering and submerging their kinder, more compassionate spirit.
As I wrote this series, my friend Jürgen Hornschuh was writing the Yurugu Series. In his series, he explains Yurugu is an African-centered critique of European culture’s thought and behavior. I found his series compelling for just as the Fayu could not see their lopsidedness until the family from Germany came to live with them, so too we who live immersed in Western culture are mostly blind to the thinking, patterns, and cultural narratives that define our cultural realities. Thus, it is helpful to have tools (such as a Yurugu Mirror) to help us see ourselves and our situation more clearly.
As there is precious little time to prance around whether Climate Change is a thing or not… it is a thing… a big thing happening faster and more devastating than scientists have been predicating for more than 30 years (see Bill McKibben’s book below). It is caused by us—by our burning fossil fuels, engaging in massive agricultural practices, and polluting water systems and the land, not to mention how we claim more and more livable habitat for ourselves, denying other creatures the space they need to live. We have become in a very short period of time an extremely narcissistic lopsided creature.
Given the moment we are in now, I’m just diving into what I hope to accomplish in this piece, which is to highlight the struggle we face today (consciousness), how we might get out of it (balance), and the role of Consciousness Warriors (coaches*). Playing off parts in Jürgen’s piece, I have organized this blog into the following sections: What is a Consciousness Warrior, The Weapon, The Vortex, The Struggle, and The End. Jürgen’s article stands on its own and is worth your time and attention for he succinctly and clearly lays out a compelling idea. I am deeply grateful for his work. My thoughts and ideas are simply mine, which Jürgen may or may not agree. Here is Jürgen’s piece in its entirety: Mach was!? (Do something!?)
* As I wrote this section and searched for a word to help ground the reader in what I mean by a Consciousness Warrior, the 20thAnniversary of the Columbine school shooting took place. In remembering the beautiful souls lost and all the survivors who continue to struggle from this terrible moment, I heard the story about coach Dave Sanders. He coached the girls basketball team, was a husband and a father, and beloved by his whole community. By his daughter’s account, he was an ordinary, gentle man, but his heart was extraordinary for when the shots rang out, he raced towards the gun fire telling students to leave. He cleared much of the cafeteria and was racing to the library when he encountered the boys. One of the students he coached said his style was “quiet thunder.” This is what a Consciousness Warrior is…an ordinary person doing ordinary things to help others, but someone who will run into the vortex of a crisis because that’s what they do help others.
What is a Consciousness Warrior?
A Consciousness Warrior can be anybody for all of us hold a tiny patch of consciousness inside our bodies and minds. The trick is taming it and training it. For gardeners, it is like cultivating a beautiful, nourishing garden. So, how do we go about taming or cultivating our patch of consciousness?
The most important tools that Consciousness Warriors have is time and attention. Where we place our attention, our time flows. Where we spend our time, our reality grows. Time and attention build the landscapes of our inner world. These are the places where our private thoughts, dreams, visions, and nightmares trickle, run, and roar like quite streams or raging rivers. From these place grow our thoughts, which weave the stories we tell about ourselves and the world (e.g., “when I do this, this happens…”). From our stories rise our choices and actions. And this my friend is how our inner worlds are woven into the world we share together—both actions and non-actions that mix, blend, and collide with all the other beings making choices and taking actions to create our Sea of Reality. To change our shared reality, we must begin by transforming our inner landscape and this means working our personal plot of consciousness (i.e., taming or cultivating it). The trouble is, most of us get lost or blown off course by great gusts of wind or tsunamis size waves that come from the unconsciousness, which also resides inside of us.
Consciousness Warriors pay attention to their inner and outer worlds, and they do the work to tame their minds (or tend them like gardens). They have learned how to navigate and prepare for the storms blowing up from the unconsciousness. And, they know every person is infinitely more powerful than we think we are or have been led to believe we are. This is because all of us has emerged from the Sea of Unconsciousness. There are many routes out of this sea as evidenced by the beautiful diversity of people and cultures on Earth. However, today most of us have been assimilated into the monolithic culture we call Western Civilization. Supposedly this is our shining achievement as human beings—but something has clearly gone wrong.
For one thing, Western Civilization places a god-like reverence for what we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch (an extrovert’s delight!). Out of this has grown our civilization’s great love for classifying, dividing, and measuring things, especially things that can be turned into money. This is really fun! However, our intense focus on dividing, measuring, and making money comes at price, and that is our inner worlds. They are drying up, becoming terribly shallow, even turning into vast deserts due to lack of time and attention directed inward. To lead a good life requires a delicate balance between these two realms of reality. But this is where we have taken a wrong turn by directing all of our time and attention to the external world and all the fun things we can do, if only we have enough money. The more time and attention we put into doing things in the world, the more we become attached to these things and our doings. This makes us psychologically dependent on our external reality, leaving our inner reality to wilt away.
I talk a great deal about this predicament in previous blogs (e.g., The Collective Unconsciousness and the Oversoul), so I will not do so here, except to resurrect an excerpt to provide footing for this strange terrain. It comes from Carl Jung in his book The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Here he describes the collective unconsciousness and how it impacts us. His ideas were considered strange during his life, and mostly remain strange today. This is because we have continued to forget and lose words to describe our inner realities—like a person being overcome with Alzheimer’s Disease. Beginning on page 21, Jung writes:
“The necessary and needful reaction from the collective unconscious expresses itself in archetypally formed ideas. The meeting with oneself is, at first, the meeting with one’s shadow. The shadow is a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well. But one must learn to know oneself in order to know who one is. For what comes after the door is, surprisingly enough, a boundless expanse full of unprecedented uncertainty, with apparently no inside and no outside, no above and no below, no here and no there, no mine and no thine, no good and no bad. It is the world of water, where all life floats in suspension; where the realm of the sympathetic system, the soul of everything living, begins; where I am indivisibly this and that; where I experience the other in myself and the other-than-myself experiences me.
No, the collective unconscious is anything but an incapsulated personal system; it is sheer objectivity, as wide as the world and open to all the world. There I am the object of every subject, in complete reversal of my ordinary consciousness, where I am always the subject that has an object. There I am utterly one with the world, so much a part of it that I forget all too easily who I really am. ‘Lost in oneself’ is a good way of describing this state. But this self is the world, if only a consciousness could see it. That is why we must know who we are.
The unconscious no sooner touches us than we are it—we become unconscious of ourselves. That is the age-old danger, instinctively known and feared by primitive man, who himself stands so very close to this pleroma. His consciousness is still uncertain, wobbling on its feet. It is still childish, having just emerged from the primal waters. A wave of the unconscious may easily roll over it, and then he forgets who he was and does thing that are strange to him. Hence primitives are afraid of uncontrolled emotions, because consciousness breaks down under them and gives way to possession. All man’s strivings have therefore been directed towards the consolidation of consciousness. This was the purpose of rite and dogma; they were dams and walls to keep back the dangers of the unconscious, the ‘perils of the soul.’ Primitive rites consist accordingly in the exorcizing of spirits, the lifting of spells, the averting of the evil omen, propitiation, purification, and the production by sympathetic magic of helpful occurrences.”
— C.G. Jung
Jung goes on to explain how psychological barriers were erected in primitive times to keep us safe from the unpredictable and sometimes destructive forces rising from the unconsciousness—much like storms that pass over the land or earthquake that strikes out of nowhere. Our ancestors knew about these events. They knew by coming together they could strengthened the barriers they had created. They performed collective rites and rituals using music, dance, and elaborate enactments that harmonized and united them as a people–a tribe. Later, many of these rites and rituals were incorporated into many religions. The one I am following here is the Christian Church and how many ancient, pagan rites and rituals morphed into its religious doctrines and dogma, which were incorporated into basic tenets of Western Civilization. It is my deep feeling during one of these transfers, a separation from our unconsciousness occurred that was too rapid and too violent—leaving us wounded like a Motherless Child. Despite this wound, the barriers held for centuries (though often brutally) keeping Western Civilization mostly safe from incursions from the unconsciousness. However, as Western Civilization has grown, the barriers have weaken considerably and are sinking back into the unconsciousness, crumbling as they succumb to the tremendous weight of our monolith civilization.
The destruction of the edifices constructed long ago to keep us safe from our unconscious origins is putting us in terrible peril. Just like the Fayu, Western Civilization has become lopsided as it warps under its own weight. When a culture, tribe, or civilization becomes lopsided, dangerous perversions of consciousness can occur that place all individuals living in a lopsided culture at much greater risk for incursions from the unconsciousness—perils of the soul. Our ancestors understood this, but we have forgotten it. Our inability to take collective action on Climate Change is just one symptom of this malady… other symptoms are resurgences of all sorts of crueler ways of thinking and being creeping back into our collective psyche.
Listen or read the interview with E.B. Berger on Fresh Air who says the New Zealand Massacre Points To A Global Resurgence Of ‘Extremism’. Berger has studied the online activity of extremists, and he notes the New Zealand shooter praised President Trump as “as a symbol of renewed white identity” in his 74-page document published before the massacre. Berger says it aligns with a trend he has found studying the hashtags and language used by alt-right Twitter users.
This is where Consciousness Warriors come in as protectors of the people. Consciousness Warriors are ordinary people who have been driven deeper into themselves as they attempted to avoid the inevitable wounding inflicted by people blinded by our systems and their own unconsciousness.
My own awareness of Consciousness Warriors rose due to such a situation when I was fired for being with father when he died. Just before this happened, I had a vision of a girl trapped in the jaws of a dragon. It made me laugh, so I drew it and shared it on Facebook. I wrote a simple story to go with it I called Girl With Dragon. It turned into 20 episodes. I didn’t think much of it, neither did most of my friend who joked about it and some scoffed. I took it all in stride for I was amused by it too until my world was turned upside down and inside out. Then, I understood what the image and story was telling me. The girl was caught in the dragon’s jaws. The dragon was the girl’s unconscious choices mixed together with the unconsciousness of those around her, creating the dragon. We create dragons every day. Some are easy to tame, while others turn into desperate problems with no apparent escape. The girl was the first Consciousness Warrior to emerge in my psychology. As I continued the story with The Divine Dodo, more Consciousness Warriors emerged.
I called them this not knowing other people were writing about and talking about them. I thought I was the only one talking about Consciousness Warriors until I watch a video where Margaret Wheatley was speaking to a group about her book and work WARRIORS FOR THE HUMAN SPIRIT: Training to be the Presence of Insight and Compassion. Then, I read Jürgen’s piece where he writes about even more people who are writing and talking about Consciousness Warriors. So, this is how I have come to know and understand Consciousness Warriors. I am still learning, but I am pretty certain Western Civilization is in desperate need of them Now. Using Jürgen’s Yurugu Series as a mirror, I intend to describe a part of our collective predicament for it is multifaceted problem. Perhaps by figuring out how to make one scale on the dragon disappear, we can figure out how to make the whole dragon disappear. As I go, I will blend the thinking of Carl Jung, Dalai Lama, David Bohm, J.M. Berger, Aqua Man, and others to attempt to see this scale clearly and the role of Consciousness Warriors in making it disappear.
Are you ready?
Ready, Set, Go
The Weapon: Jürgen writes: The answer could be something like this: look out for the imperialist mindset.
This insight is extremely important for it is mindsets and thinking styles like the Imperialist Mindset that have been used to divide and define our reality into its many parts. I suppose our world is less fearsome when it is neatly divided into categories that can be counted, organized, and neatly stored into many different professions and areas of expertise—essentially turning Earth into a museum. Meanwhile the things we cannot physically see, hear, touch, smell, and taste (such as our inner realities) steadily disappear. In doing this, we literally reduce reality.
But, why should we be concerned about the invisible world disappearing? Because these places are essential to transform of ourselves. They are needed to grow as individuals, to grow consciously, and to become what we are truly meant to be. Without them, we get stuck in a stage of arrested development. As awareness of our inner spaces slip back over the edge into the unconscious, it becomes invisible and unavailable to us. We lose abilities needed to be fully conscious beings. The bigger Western Civilization grows, the more lopsided its thinking has become and the deeper the blade this type of thinking cuts away at our inner spaces, creating deep wounds that never heal. Slavery, domination of indigenous people worldwide, the Holocaust/ethnic cleansing, racism…and Now the rise of White Supremacy 75 years after it almost tore the world apart are some of the terrible impacts this thinking has inflicted on our shared reality. There are internal wounds as well. Climate Change is like a fever caused by the raging infection that has settled into these wounds.
To understand the Imperialist Mindset, we must get closer to the unconsciousness for this is where this tool was forged. Let’s start with Aqua Man:
Aqua Man is a modern myth. A myth’s primary function (other than telling a good story) is to convey how archetypal energies affect us. In his origin story, a tool is forged long ago by a ruler of an ancient, advanced civilization. The ruler attempts to use the tool to harness the powers of Earth, but something goes wrong, and the tool unleashes devastation causing the city (Atlantis) to sink.
To begin to grasp the archetypal meaning and energy of this story, replace the sea with the unconsciousness. Thus, the people of this ancient civilization sink back into the primordial Sea of Unconsciousness where the survivors learn how to breath underwater and see in the dark. Some evolve into the advanced beings, of which Aqua Man is one. Others devolved becoming half-fish half-man beings, crustacean beings, and the feared trench beings who live in the deepest trenches of this underworld. It is into the trench Aqua Man’s mother is thrown for breaking the laws of her people by falling in love with a human and giving birth to a half-breed—Aqua Man. Of course, the two worlds become tangled in a deadly conflict that forces Aqua Man to go fetch this lost and mighty tool that destroyed Atlantis. In the wrong hands the trident (the tool) will destroy both worlds (the weapon). In the right hands, it will unite the worlds.
— Bébé’s interpretation of Aqua Man
David Bohm (quantum physicists) expresses a similar idea in a video entitled Wholeness and Fragmentation when he speaks about our dominate way of thinking. He says:
“All thought is broken up into bits like this nation, this country, this industry, this profession, and so on.” (00:43 of video) “Therefore, people cannot see they are creating a problem, and then apparently trying to solve it. Let’s take a problem like pollution or the ecology—the ecology is not in by itself [the problem], it is due to us, right? It’s a problem because we are thinking in certain way by breaking everything up [and] in each person’s doing his own thing now.” (1:03 of video) “The ecological problem is due to thought [because] thought thinks [there] is a problem out there, and I must solve it. Now that doesn’t make sense because simultaneously thought is doing all the activities [that] make the problem, and then there’s another set of activities trying to overcome [the problem]. You see, it doesn’t stop doing the things [that] are making the ecological problem or the national problem or whatever [problem we have created].”
To me, the most important part of his comments are when he says:
“I don’t think there is such thing as original sin. I think it developed more and more with the growth of our society [for] there is no evidence people in the hunter-gatherer society were all that competitive. [However,] the more you made society big and had organization, [the more people] had to get to the top [and thus there would be] people on the bottom [who] would suffer. [Because of this] there was a drive to compete, naturally. And, do you think that perhaps the desire to compete is a weakness? [No, it is] not a weakness that was a mistake!”
This idea of a Thought Mistake is critical to understand for as humans immersed in Western Civilization, we do not think our thinking has caused any problems. We think instead it is our savior, but what if it is not?
Jung thought a great deal about how man has come to reckon with his consciousness. He says:
“…for in certain respects the animal is superior to man. It has not yet blundered into consciousness nor pitted a self-willed ego against the power from which it lives; on the contrary, it fulfils the will that actuates it in a well-nigh perfect manner. Were it conscious, it would be morally better than man. There is deep doctrine in the legend of the fall: it is the expression of a dim presentiment that the emancipation of ego-consciousness was a Luciferian deed. Man’s whole history consists from the very beginning in conflict between his feeling of inferiority and his arrogance. Wisdom seeks the middle path and pays for audacity by a dubious affinity with daemon and beast, and so is open to moral misinterpretation.”
— Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, p. 230
What David Bohm says begs us to consider exactly what is thought. This is another idea Jung explored throughout his career—the acquisition of thought. He says something extraordinary here:
“Thoughts were objects of inner perception, not thought at all, but sensed as external phenomena—seen or heard, so to speak. Thought was essentially revelation, not invented but forced upon us… bringing conviction through its immediacy and actuality. Thinking of this kind precedes the primitive ego-consciousness, and the latter is more its object than its subject. But, we ourselves have not yet climbed the last peak of consciousness, so we also have a pre-existent thinking, of which we are not aware so long as we are supported by traditional symbols—or, to put it in the language of dreams, so long as the father or the king is not dead.”
— Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, p. 33
Thus, the timeless phrase—I think therefore I am—may not have been as easy for us to achieve as we think it was. Clearly our ability to think inside our head is a supreme achievement. It is an ability that was hard fought and a struggle to maintain. It was so precious that humans all over the world created elaborate rituals and rites to protect it, this power, this tool that has allowed us to create and do incredible things (e.g., science, technology, art, architecture). But, it is one capable of terrible destruction as well. Every civilization understood this. They knew there is good and bad in everything and everyone. They understood the essential act is balance. Our ancestors understood this, we have forgotten it.
Jung writes: “The unity of our psychic nature lies in the middle, just as the living unity of the waterfall appears in the dynamic connection between above and below. Thus, the living effect of the myth is experienced when a higher consciousness, rejoicing in its freedom and independence, is confronted by the autonomy of a mythological figure and yet cannot flee from its fascination, but must pay tribute to the overwhelming impression. The figure works, because secretly it participates in the observer’s psyche and appears as its reflection, though it is not recognized as such. It is split off from his consciousness and consequently behaves like an autonomous personality (i.e., the trickster).”
— Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, p. 269
The Imperialist Mindset does not care about balance; it thrives on imbalance. It does not care about justice, fairness, or truth for it grows stronger in the midst of chaos and confusion. Over time, this mindset has placed an obsessive focus on dividing things into smaller and smaller pieces, going a bit wild, even rogue. It is this focus that has placed us squarely in the jaws of a dangerous dragon. One created by our thinking, and one that has become so rigid and lopsided for the moment we are in Now, there seems no escape.
For a spectacular description of how the Imperialist Mindset and similar thinking was used to put us squarely in the jaws of the Climate Change dragon, listen to the Fresh Air interview with Nathaniel Rich who talks about his book Losing Earth: A recent interview on FreshAir. In it he documents how thinking like this was used like a weapon by the fossil fuel industry to sow divisions in the Climate Change debate. By doing this, they successfully turned scientific debate and processes into polarizing Thought Wars (i.e., on one side people believe we are causing the 6th Mass Extinction; on the other side people play upon uncertainty, “We’re not really sure how bad it might be, so we might as well keep the status quo as long as possible… no reason to wreck the economy over something that might or might not happen…”).
No matter what we think using this type of thought and similar mindsets, we will not get out of the dragon’s jaws. We need a different, deeper way of thinking—one that supersedes where we are Now. This is something the Dalia Lama speaks to when he says: “For a long time, science and spirituality were considered to be opposing views, creating this polarization of both subjects. You were either a “Man of God” or a “Man of Science,” with no middle ground. However, we’re now observing a merging of both science and spirituality through quantum physics and the study of consciousness, shattering old thought patterns and putting an end to the previous “tug of war” between the two subjects.”
“I think science has begun to replace religion as the major source of the worldview and therefore if science takes a fragmentary worldview it will have a profound effect on consciousness, but science has always seen as measurement is that no longer true. Science [is] whatever people make of it. You see science has changed over the ages, and it’s different now from a few hundred years ago. It could be different again [in a hundred years]. Now there’s no intrinsic reason why science must necessarily be measurement. This is another historical development, which has come about over the past few centuries.”
By continuing not to access our deeper nature, we lack the ability to understand the true nature of reality. Since Western Civilization is so good at producing men and women who deny their inner realities, we remain stuck. Jung writes about this modern quandary saying:
“The disastrous idea that everything comes to the human psyche from outside and that it (the human being) is born a tabula rasa is responsible for the erroneous belief that under normal circumstances the individual is in perfect order. He then looks to the State for salvation, and makes society pay for his inefficiency. He thinks the meaning of existence would be discovered if food and clothing were delivered to him gratis on his own doorstep, or if everybody possessed an automobile. Such are the puerilities that rise up in place of an unconscious shadow and keep it unconscious. As a result of these prejudices, the individual feels totally dependent on his environment and loses all capacity for introspection. In this way, his code of ethics is replaced by a knowledge of what is permitted or forbidden or ordered. How, under these circumstances, can one expect a soldier to subject an order received from a superior to ethical scrutiny? He has not yet made the discovery that he might be capable of spontaneous ethical impulses, and of performing them—even when on one is looking.”
— Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, p. 267
Jürgen also speaks to what is keeping us stuck when he says:
“European rationalistic ideology has “created” a particular kind of person who can be expected to behave in certain characteristic ways. If the uniqueness to the culture is not understood, the positive possibilities of other cultures will get lost, and, whether consciously or not, this is a thoroughly Eurocentric objective. For this reason, we assume the particularity of the European form and therefore the need to explain its development, not as the result of some “universal” process, but by understanding its asili [cultural core] – a unique combination of factors that in circular relationship generate the personalities and ideological commitments that form the influencing matrix.
This explanation is all the more compelling since Europeans represent an extreme minority culture. It is the realization that Europe is in fact a culture in which imperial domination of others does indeed become a “comprehensive world-view” that is important. This is unique in the world and the characteristics (themes) of European culture – its “rationalism,” violence, and lack of spirituality – are not merely isolated pathologies; rather these characteristics are linked to each other in a developmental matrix (asili) that is itself “pathological” in the context of human societies. (Marimba Ani: Yurugu. An African-centered critique of European cultural thought and behavior, 1994, p392).”
This asili is what keeps us trapped in the jaws of the dragon. It is the point we spin around as a civilization. A point created long ago in plain sight, but it has sunk below our conscious awareness, making it invisible and dangerous. Jürgen is right to say the asili is enforced by an extreme minority of people—that being European culture. I propose it is even smaller than European culture today. I believe using European culture with its royalty and dynasties as a template it has shrunk even more to what we call the 1%, which has pulled us into an even smaller orbit. These people are the royal ones of our time and culture. They have amassed much money and power. They are the ones our civilization has been carefully designed to keep in power. They guard it vigilantly—not as highly evolved, benevolent beings, but rather like rabid bull dogs. Most see their job as making sure the rest of us don’t escape the pull of the asili. They worry if enough of us escape, we might raise the orbit of the greater whole, making their world disappear, and it would.
Most modern elites are stricken with a hunger that can never be filled and a thirst that can never be quenched. This makes them capable of doing anything to keep their power such as whipping up chaos to make us feel like drowning fish when in reality we are fish swimming in waters too shallow. This is because they have been busy damning, redirecting, and draining the conscious streams we need to be human. They know united we are powerful. So, they prefer to narratives full of hate, division, and chaos to create confusion and fear. This is how the bull dogs keep us here (I have just used Imperialist thinking to divide rich from poor, thus myself falling back into the asili).
Since we no longer see the asili and do not believe it is there, we go about our days feeling completely in control of our thoughts and lives. Never noticing the pull it exerts constantly on our thoughts, our choices, our reality. It is always there. It is the Thought Trap of a most cunning design operating on quantum levels like a psychological-spiritual black hole that generates a gravity so fierce not even consciousness can escape it. Around its event horizon, chaotic forces polarize the pieces of consciousness so neatly divided by Imperialist thinking, making them slip ever faster into the center of this vortex.
Quantum physicist suggest vortices create the very structure of our universe literally holding galaxies together with their super massive gravity. The Dalia Lama adds:
“Quantum physicists discovered that physical atoms are made up of vortices of energy that are constantly spinning and vibrating, each one radiating its own unique energy signature. Therefore, if we really want to observe ourselves and find out what we are, we must recognize we are really beings of energy and vibration, radiating our own unique energy signature.”
Thus, vortexes may indeed be the glue holding reality together. The question to ask is the vortex around which Western Civilization spins viable? Or is it fated to destroy us all? It may sound counter intuitive, but to escape this cultural asili, we may need to disappear in inside the vortexes that exist inside us. They might just be worm holes that help us get to our deeper inner spaces faster. We need to get these places so we can rekindle our inner light of consciousness and resurrect the beautiful being waiting there to help us find our wholeness, really to remember it. This is where the energy waits that is needed to transform reality. This is work that must be done one person at a time, but if it starts, it can happen rapidly like fire. It may be the only way out of the dragon’s jaws.
David Bohm speaks about the importance of wholeness in getting out of the thought trap saying:
“It’s not a place you can get [to] the wholeness. I say [it] is a kind of attitude or an approach to the whole of life. It’s a way [that] if we can have a coherent approach to reality, then reality will respond [in a] coherent way to us. [N]ature has been tremendously affected by our way of thinking on the earth. (9:33) Nature is now being destroyed. There’s very little left on the earth [that hasn’t been] affected by how we were thinking. If we have coherence, in what way will our behavior seem to be different? [For one thing,] we won’t be produc[ing] the results we intend rather than the results we don’t intend. That’s the first big change, and then we will be more [capable of living in a] orderly harmonious [way]. You know, we will be happier. I think we could put all that in there man but the first. … (10:03) [Our] major source of unhappiness is we are incoherent and therefore produce results we don’t really want. [And then we try] to overcome them, [but] we keep on producing them. The question is what is the real origin of consciousness exactly in case where did it come from (10:20) was there a time when there was no (10:22) consciousness? Well [if so]. I don’t think it originates in time.”
Bohm is asking the same questions Jung asks about human consciousness. Perhaps Bohm is right about coherence. Perhaps our current way of thinking is incoherent, but we are so attached to it we do not see the incoherence. This is why we cannot get underneath the thinking used to create the dragon. This is what keeps us stuck. But, Stephen Hawking may have a way out. He said black holes can evaporate. I think thought traps can too.
The Struggle: Jürgen writes: Who do we help to make the world a better place?
– To Beat The Devil — T Bone Burnett · The Invisible Light ·“I’ll tell you what you want to hear… I’ll play upon your darkest fear… then I’ll take what I want from you… to beat the devil you must go deep as he stays shallow…to beat the devil you must not be part of the dissonance…nothing that he does will last…”
Time is a limited resource, especially in our super-fast paced Western culture for to live here is to live always running out of time. This is because in Western culture, it is common practice to exchange time for money. To make it even more interesting, there are different levels of compensation for different kinds of workers. This is a code embedded deeply in the fabric of Western culture that benefits the super-rich for it is basically true to make money, one has to have money to buy the best education, to get pass the gatekeepers, and to land high paying, high power jobs (case in point, the recent college admission scandal). To not follow this well-established pattern (the cultural code), it takes tremendous collective social will and effort. And this takes time for it is a moral struggle and moral struggles require the collaborative effort of many people.
My friend Cynthia told me about the struggle in the Philippines to extricate themselves from Colonial Spanish rule that reigned in the Philippines for 333 years. During this time, the Spaniards ravaged their land and did terrible things to the indigenousness people. This is the Imperialist Mindset in its purest and cruelest form, and it has done such things all over the world. In the Philippines after so many years of colonial rule, the people felt powerless and at the mercy of the invading force. But, among them rose a soft-spoken man (José Protasio Rizal) who used his words to awaken his people’s heart. He showed them how to reclaim their dreams through love and compassion. The Spanish killed him. Nevertheless, his words and ideas grew and blossomed, helping his people rediscovered their heart power, which helped them reclaim their passion to resist the Imperialist Force. They overcame the Spanish but were invaded again by the Japanese and the United States who also mistreated them. Still the people preserved, maintaining their identity through it all by keeping their hearts nourished and alive.
So, moral struggles are possible. They just take time because many, many people need to come together and unify to create a center of gravity rooted in compassion, love, and courage—perhaps creating a psychological-spiritual counterweight. If this happens, individuals involved in the moral struggle can tap into energy that comes from inside. This energy is most crucial at the beginning of a moral struggle when it is trying to coalesce for this is when every individual is trying to find their internal center of gravity and power. They also need to figure out where they are needed in the emerging effort. To do this, each individual needs to sink deep into themselves, which means confronting their shadow (i.e., the vortex inside themselves) for this might be the only way to find their personal power and understand how their unique gifts and abilities can help hold the sacred space for the emerging moral effort. This is a very fragile phase of development in a moral struggle because everyone’s energy is so easily dispersed, which can cause the entire effort to evaporate.
People in power know this, and they’ll do anything to stir confusion and create division. Thus, to resist dispersion, it is essential to find ways for individuals to feel empowered and connected. We can do this by seeing, hearing, and understanding each other—think the infinity sign, a never-ending flow of reciprocal relationships, a sharing of energy renewed each time it is passed back and forth between people working for a greater good.
It’s not simple at all because human relationships fall so easily back into old ways, old patterns, old thinking. In short, they return to the Pit of Peril because it is our home. It is what we know. It is how we understand reality. And, it is the Jaws of the Dragon. All human systems are susceptible to this falling into the pit for they rest upon the fragile flow of consciousness passing back and forth between the individual plots of consciousness each of us is attempting to cultivate or tame. In short, the quality of our shared reality rests upon the health of our individual plot of consciousness and our relationships with other–how healthy or unhealthy they are. If we are not watchful, incursions from our unconsciousness and other’s unconsciousness will rise and trip us up in the most dreadful ways. When this happens, it can cause a person to lose their passion and purpose, making them give up. This is devastating not only for the individual, but for the emerging moral struggle because every person is essential in its formation, especially in the beginning when our fragile human relationships tend to self-destruct the most due in large part to the pull of the asili back into the old system, old ways, and familiar patterns of thinking designed to keep us in line, really to prevent people from sinking into their full, authentic selves where their power lies because these types of people are a threat to the system.
Thus, Jürgen nails when he says:With all the many groups of people and their many ideas on what it means to live a good life, it has become increasingly harder to tell who are the ones we would like to identify with, help along, and promote in their efforts to make this world a better place. With so many people lying through closed teeth, so many others pretending to be someone they are not, and with yet so many others not understanding the implications of their own words, how can we tell the real deal from fake and delusion?
Jürgen outlines 3 types of people or personalities to avoid, and I added a fourth. They appear in all cultures, but it is in Western culture where they have truly found a place to thrive because Western systems reward people who exhibit and excel in these traits, behaviors, and qualities. They are:
1. Lying: Those who are lying through closed teeth (They do so to manipulate and divert the good fortune and luck of others unto themselves — See The Divine Dodo: The Corruption).
“A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and in order to divert himself, having no love in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest forms of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal. And, it all comes from lying—lying to others and to yourself.” — Fyodor Dostoevsky (Thank you Colin Kilburn for posting)
2. Masquerading: Those who are pretending to be someone or something they are not—the scammer, the conman or woman, the beguiler, cheater, trickster, or slicker. I will get back to this later…it is important.
Resisting the pull back into unconscious ways of thinking and being takes great inner strength and wisdom. We all have this strength and wisdom, but like Aqua Man, we need to be orientated to our inner realities (e.g., know where our unconscious Pit of Peril is), learn how our abilities work, and train in using our abilities. Consciousness Warriors are deep divers in the Sea of Unconsciousness. They can see in the dark, and they have compassion for those still trapped in old ways, but they don’t take phony, counterfeit, deceptive pretension, or pandering. They draw clear boundaries to protect their inner spaces, guarding their time and attention.
3. Blind:Those who do not understand the implications of their own words and actions.
Being blind to our inner reality is like a sleeping sickness for we have all emerged from the Sea of Unconsciousness, but our systems and ways of thinking pull most of us back under. A person who has been pulled back into the Unconsciousness or put back to sleep tends to use words carelessly because they do not understand their inner spaces; therefore, they say things that are crueler than they need to be and do things that are meaner than they need to be. Neither do they understand how their words carry gravity that can create a hole inside them that can turn into the Pit of Peril. Some think such a pit is handy because it provides a place to toss all their uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. But, this is a mistake because in the Pit of Peril this submerged content is free to morph and twist into all sorts of cruel and destructive impulses that can easily overpower our best intentions to constrain them. Primitive cultures understood this believing evil spirits could possess people. This makes sense if you understand how suppressed, unconscious content can break through into our lives and cause us to act in ways we might not act if we had better balance inside.
Jung wrote a lot about this kind of blindness and how it finds ways to re-emerge and steer us wrong. He recounts walking with a native guide on Mount Elgon in East Africa when they come upon a beautifully constructed little hut near a cave where he lived with his family. Jung knew these huts were built as a ghost trap to protect the family from evil forces. When Jung asked the man if he made it, he denied it with signs of extreme agitation, asserting that only children would make such a ju-ju…whereupon he kicked the hut and it all falls down. On page 269, he writes: “This is exactly the reaction we can observe in Europe today. Outwardly people are more or less civilized, but inwardly they are still primitives. Something in man is profoundly disinclined to give up his beginnings, and something else believes it has long since got beyond all that. (…) The conflict between the two dimensions of consciousness is simply an expression of the polaristic structure of the psyche, which like any other energic system is dependent on the tension of opposites. (…)”
Jürgen says: “…there are quite a few signs by which the Imperialist Mindset can be identified in somebody’s speech or behavior, one of which is againstness, which results in kind of a war mentality.” The 1% know this and use this mindset as a weapon to enflame this mind war by turning our thinking and beliefs against us. Jürgen further describes how the drive for power permeates all of European-based thought, philosophy, and religion, its presence, in most people, goes unnoticed by its carriers. This is our unconsciousness at work, and it is the same forces that make us blind. We are all carriers of it, but it is most virulent in the 1%. This is because of the consolidation of money, resources, influence, and power.
The 1% speak in a coded language. They don’t use many words (often 3-word simple sentences). And, their words come in short bursts that are repetitive, almost musical, and tinged with strong emotions. They tend to say absolutely nothing, but rather fill the soundscape with their voice so others cannot think or hear their own voice or thoughts. They are like hypnotizers who spin fantastic stories about the land of plenty, but these stories are like mirages for they always fade away the closer we get to them. The 1% are more like magical demagogues. They are Master Manipulators who perpetuate narratives of not enough money, not enough attention, not enough recognition, not enough of everything needed to live a “Good Life” creating fear and confusion because we are easier to herd where they want us in these states. They love it! Like Typhoid Mary, they do not appear to suffer from the disease of unconsciousness, but they readily infect others with their unconsciousness.
For more on the language of the super-rich, see:
Inside The Minds Of The Mega-Rich (1A) – Chances are, if you got ten million dollars right now, it would change your life. But would you change for the better? What if it was a hundred million dollars? Or a billion? How would you change, and how would it change you? What impact does wealth have on one’s mind and morals? And what’s the role of the wealthy in easing inequality?
What’s It Like To Be Rich? Ask The People Who Manage Billionaires’ Money (Hidden Brain) – What are the lives of the planet’s wealthiest people really like? Several years ago, sociologist Brooke Harrington decided to find out. What she learned talking to the people who managed their money shocked her: “The lives of the richest people in the world are so different from those of the rest of us, it’s almost literally unimaginable. National borders are nothing to them. They might as well not exist. The laws are nothing to them. They might as well not exist.”
Consciousness Warriors understand the dangers of the Pit of Peril and guard against it and the dangers of attachment by practicing awareness and non-attachment (an old Buddhist practice). Consciousness Warriors employ their super powers of intuition, empathy, and love to help others find their inner spring where love, joy, and compassion rise eternal. They seek words that inspire insights to help others transform their inner spaces that are drying up form lack of use. Consciousness Warriors know they cannot do this for another person, just like a personal trainer cannot exercise for someone else. This is work that can only be done by the person seeking wholeness. Consciousness Warriors can walk with, support, and encourage someone who is seeking the power inside themselves that is needed to transform their inner wasted, barren landscapes. Consciousness Warriors are good listeners, but they also understand how a person blinded by their unconsciousness can hurt others, and so guard their inner spaces and time.
4. Narcissism: Western Civilization is an extrovert’s delight, and people with these abilities are rewarded handsomely, but are we drowning in Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Narcissistic people have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. They feel entitled to everything and require constant, excessive admiration. They expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it. They exaggerate achievements and talents and are preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate. They believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people. They monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior. They expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations. They take advantage of others to get what they want, and they have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others. They are often envious of others and believe others envy them. They behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious—and they are! They insist on having the best of everything—the best car, the best vacation, the best education, the best house, the best office. Have you ever encountered one of these people?
The magic narcissist weld is the ability to split reality. They do this by creating two bubbles of the moment they find themselves in that might be nuanced with good and bad. In one bubble, they put all the negative attributes of that situation, and then project it like vomit on anyone standing too near them. In the other bubble, they imbue all the good and noble things about that situation, and then like Glenda the Good Witch, they step into this bubble and float away, leaving behind a fractured and smaller reality.
In Western European-based systems, narcissists have found a special place where they can flourish because they love to take control. Since most systems in Western society are structured with one person is in control of everyone else, this is a natural habitat for a narcissist. A conscious narcissist might actually do a pretty darn good job at the top, but an unconscious narcissist tends to fall prey to their very worst impulses.
This is so important to understand because here again we come to the edge of the split between consciousness and unconsciousness. So, let’s try to understand this divide a bit better. To do so, it is helpful to understand how human consciousness falls along several spectrums as charted by C.G. Jung. One of these spectrums is the range between extroversion and introversion. To quickly orientate you to this spectrum—an extreme introvert has a vivid internal world. One so deep and vibrant, the edge between the internal and external can disappear. When this happens, the person is most often diagnosed as having schizophrenia because they lost the line between their inner and outer realities and are no longer able to discern what is rising from within them and what exits outside of them.
On the other side of the spectrum is extreme extroversion. Extroverts have a keen ability to read a room full of people and instantly grasp the energy of the room. They might even grasp the mood and energy of every individual in the room, understanding in that moment how to make all the energy flow together to create an unforgettable experience for all working it like a conductor of an orchestra. It is electrifying to be in a room with extrovert because they can dazzle, entertain, and mesmerize everyone in it. People are drawn to them, and they are drawn to others because being with other people energies them. It’s simply how their consciousness renews itself. But, if an extreme extrovert lacks awareness of their abilities and how their mind re-energizes, it can become debilitating for when the crowds leave, extroverts can descend into states of exhaustion, emptiness, and depression. Thus, it is not hard to understand an extrovert has an intense desire to be surrounded by people 24/7.
Now, I am no expert, but I can imagine how it is possible for an extrovert to lose the line between their internal reality and the external world too. If this occurs and a little unconscious narcissism is added to the mix, it wouldn’t be hard for this sort of person to believe the outer world is also their inner world. Lacking the balance that having a more defined inner world provides, such a person could perceive everything outside of them as part of them and thus belonging to them. They could think they can do whatever they want to someone outside of their own bodies and minds because there is no division. When this occurs, we have crossed over into a pretty bad case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
So, what does this mean that these four types of people or personalities flourish inside Western Civilization?
It means we are sick… Western Civilization is sick… it is making everyone inside sick.
The sickness stems from our wildly out of balance inner states that are disappearing ever more rapidly due to the type of thinking and mindsets so prominent in Western Civilization. These imbalances have caused an extreme state of lopsidedness that is hastening the crumbling of the barriers erected long ago to hold back our most destructive impulses rising from the deepest places inside us all—our unconsciousness—something that gets amplified in groups.
It is pointless to beat ourselves up for being unconscious for it is our most natural state of being. We all do our best to navigate our unconsciousness, which is most frequently expressed through human relationships and exacerbated by the cultural asili that keeps us trapped in thinking too small for the moment we are inNow. To escape, we must sink deep into ourselves, and to do this we need the help and support of others.
One antidote is cultivating trust. But to do this, we need to relearn how to truly make contact with each other. Ian MacKenzie talks about this in his blog titled: The Wild Edge of Emergence. I heard him speak recently where he described 4 essential elements for emergence that are:
Contact – What does it mean to truly make contact with another human being…another living creature?
Trust – Can the other person receive you (e.g., will I be judged? Can I be myself with you?). To work in a state of trust means letting go of the masks and personas necessary to navigate in our current systems.
Transparency – What is actually going on with us? Are there hidden agendas that will make the collaborative effort become stillborn? If the seed of new beginnings is not planted deep, it will not grow.
Coherence – Every individual begins to self-assemble knowing that every other individual plays an essential part to the whole (e.g., you got that piece, I don’t have to worry about that). We learn to share our gifts, and probably more importantly, to receive the gifts that others bring. A natural order begins to form like tribal and ancient communities where every individual has essential roles even the elders… they kept the memories and listen deeply.
He spoke about how making contact with another human being takes a long time because there are many levels that must to be navigated to reach deep contact. This is especially true for individual immersed in Western cultural for they have to wear masks and occupy personas to navigate and survive in the systems they depend on to survive—systems filled with the Imperialist Mindset and other sharp styles of thinking and being that are always eager to cut people down who threaten the system and the preferred ways of thinking in it.
Of these 4 stages, making contact is probably the most difficult. Our ancestors knew the importance of our inner spaces, and they understood how the flow of energy between people affect and impact our inner spaces. If our relationships contribute to us spiraling down as individuals, then our thoughts and actions spiral down and the reality we share descends as well. If we can help each other spiral up, then our thoughts and actions spiral up and our shared reality can spiral up too. Our ancestors knew how to mitigate incursions from the unconsciousness that can cause people and groups to spiral down. All of this knowledge is being lost due to thinking like the Imperialist Mindset and other sharp-edged Western thinking styles. We have almost completely destroyed our inner spaces, and we wonder why our planet is dying Now.
These are the only spaces from where transformational change can emerge. If we do not heal our current state of lopsided consciousness and reclaim our lost inner spaces—we will go over the Climate Cliff for it is where our Western thinking has lead us. We need to move away from the danger zone. We can only do this together. We must begin by healing the deep wounds inside ourselves and helping others do the same. This can only happen when deep contact is made, and truly reciprocal relationships occur. From here, anything can happen, even making the dragon’s jaws disappear.
The End – Concluding Thoughts
As I struggled to tie the lose strands of the thoughts in this blog together, I watched Notre Dame burned. I thought of the ancient oak turning into smoke and blowing away as I listened to reports about the sacred, precious relics and art inside. Everyone was wondering if all was lost. It sure looked like it from the powerful flames. When the brave, courageous fire fighters could finally be seen spraying tiny streams of water onto the fire beast, it all seemed too little too late, leaving the only thing people could do was watch and witness, unable to look away.
Notre Dame means Our Lady… Our Mother. She was built as a place for people to gathered—for this is what church means—a place to gather and remember there is a touch of the divine inside of us. Chris Cuomo dedicated his hour that night to Notre Dame saying she was a place where people gathered to embraced by her divine beauty and remember this beauty is inside ourselves and in others too. There is tremendous strength in gathering together in community. We may have forgotten how gathering together in places and ways that elevate and celebrate our highest and best potentials that nourishes us and strength us, even at the worst of times. It was Notre Dame where people gathered after the devasting terrorist attacks in France. It has been a place for people to gather and remember we are more than just flesh and blood for centuries. She reminded us we are beings imbued with spirit, light, and beauty.
As I watched, a thought occurred that what if this is a foreshadowing of what is to come? What if we do nothing to mitigate Climate Change and the monster we have created using our thinking grows so big that our tiny streams of consciousness are just too puny and almost useless leaving the only thing we to do is watch and witness horror and terror of knowing we are losing our home, our mother, the place we have gathered for millenniums, a place so precious, so sacred we will only realize what we are losing as we watch is being destroyed.
After the fire was quelled, we learned about the brave fire fighters and the Chaplin at Norte Dame who ran inside the burning church as fire rained down on them from the inferno above them to save the precious relics and paintings. They saved them, and the organ survived the fire, and the cross still hung on front wall. Even the bees living on top of the roof survived. I don’t know if we dare hope that we can somehow do the same for Our Mother—Earth. That the people who show up and run into the center of the coming disaster can save enough of the precious beauty that has evolved on Earth so that Our Mother can survive and recover. I can only foolishly hope that we can like the fire fighters, the Chaplin, and the bees escape the jaws of the dragon at the last possible moment.
The featured image of this post came to me in a dream two years ago, and just several days after the company I worked for laid me off 12 days before Christmas. I had worked hard for this company for six years, yet despite knowing who they would lay off more than a month in advance, they did not provide advance warning to allow me or the others to prepare. Quite the opposite, I remember the Human Resources guy calling me early in November to tell me I had 28 days of vacation. He told me he so rarely gets to share good news like this, so this was why he was calling me—to share this wonderful news! Little did I know this jolly news was soon to become my life raft for the company was in trouble. It had lost a huge government contract and was having a hard time reckoning with the reality of needing to sacrifice some of its employees for the good of the rest chosen to remain onboard the corporate ship (or perhaps it should be the corporate submarine). Of the small group of employees who were selected to be deep sixth (i.e., a nautical expression that acquired its idiomatic definition because something thrown overboard at or greater than this depth would be difficult, if not impossible, to recover), I was the only writer. Also, I was the writer who had been there for the longest consecutive years and one of the highest compensated writers at that time. Adding insult to injury, the year before my husband endured a similar sacrifice, though the motive in his case was to raid the pot of money sustaining his small department.
It took 7 months to find new job after my corporate Christmas gift, and the job I found paid far less and demonstrated extreme bouts of incompetence. Then, came a moment (a year later) when incompetence met competence toe to toe. In this short amount of time, I had written grants that brought in more than $500,000 dollars, but this little company was not honoring our compensation agreement, so I was calling them to task on this issue. After my father suffered a massive heart attacked and died 9 days later, the little company took that moment to fire me. None of this matters except in our human world people need jobs to live in houses, to buy food, to support their children, and to do whatever other things they must do to care for self and family.
As a younger worker, these cruel culling practices go mostly unnoticed. But, it happens, and it happens for many reasons—greedy corporate executives gamble and lose the companies money and everyone loses their job; higher paid older workers are pushed out years before they are ready to retire; a weak boss fires an employee perceived as a threat; jealous peers gain up to get an employee fired or laid off simply because they are demonstrating more competence than they are; and the list of reasons why workers are culled from the workforce goes on…often good employees are culled at the peak of their adult financial responsibilities (e.g., aging parents, children in college). It is humiliating to end up here, thus many workers who end up in this situation don’t talk about what happened to them and their families. However, once you join this club of culled workers, you begin to understand this is happening everywhere and at every level (blue collar workers to Ph.Ds.). Pretty much anywhere Western economic systems have been embraced, these cruel culling practices are employed. It is probably happening right now to someone you know, and it is not normal.
Just 100 years ago, at the beginning of the RISE of the mega corporation, it was different. In an interview about his new book Zucked, Roger McNamee expresses that back then employees were more highly valued than they are today. He said corporations invested in their workers, the communities where their employees lived, along with watching out for the interests of their stakeholders. Certainly, corporations were not angels back then with many guilty of significant human infringements (e.g., employing children, paying extremely low wages, making workers work excessively long hours and work weeks). However, it seems there was more resilience and balance in our system 100 years ago that allowed workers to RISE and demand better pay, more humane working conditions, and living wages within humane working hours. Many corporations learned (or listened) and amended their ways and/or new laws were enacted (e.g., 40-hour work week, child labor laws passed), resulting in a little bit of a balance between worker and employer to be restored.
Go back another 100 years to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution when most people still worked on farms or in cottage industries—the baker, the shoemaker, and the dress maker. Every town had a baker, a shoemaker, and a dress maker, and cities could support many individuals working in the same area to provide for the needs of the community. These individuals had self-agency, not that this made their lives easier or protect them from cultural biases or discrimination, but they were independent, not owned by a mega corporation or franchise.
Go back even further and sure life gets even harder, but individuals who could creatively problem solve were highly valued. Small tribes in these ancient times were faced with many challenges that threaten their survival and creativity meant the tribe had a better chance at surviving, especially during tough times. When we talk about tribalism today, we often only think of the savage side of tribal communities, failing to see the nurturing and protective side these small group of people enjoyed and thrived within.
It was during my second experience of being culled from the workforce that I came across an unusual musical group called Heilung. I could not understand what they were saying, but it was the only music that made sense to me during this time, so I listened to every song I could find over and over. Several of their songs made their way into The Divine Dodo series appearing as musical guides to help the poor Dodo escape the vacuous void he had become trapped inside. In a post to my small bubble of Facebook friends, I said: “It is not a modern musical group—let me just say this upfront—it is ancient and for most people it will not appeal to you in the least. But what they are doing is so important to modern man for Western ways have become fractured (i.e., mostly the male consciousness), and this is making the world very sick today. This group’s chants go to a very deep place in the human consciousness that reaches states people today might say is awake.” I did research on them and found some of their chants come from the Merseburg Incantations, which are some of the oldest known pieces of Old German literature dating back to the 9th or 10th century (maybe even 2nd to 5th century—this is still being debated).
Heilung describes its work as amplified history from early medieval northern Europe and not to be mistaken for a modern political or religious statement of any kind. They post with many of their songs: “Remember that we all are brothers… All people, beasts, tree and stone and wind… We all descend from the one great being… That was always there Before people lived and named it… Before the first seed sprouted.”
The song I wish to highlight for this post is Krigsgaldr. If you click on the embedded link, you will go to a video Heilung made to dramatize this song. They sing it completely in the ancient dialectic, so you will not understand it, but the emotions are clearly transmitted through their voices. What strikes me is the dynamic balance between the woman’s voice in contrast with the guttural, harsh Rune Reader’s voice as well as the warriors. It is absolutely beautiful. This masterful reimagining of our ancestors demonstrates they probably understood the power and ways of the human psyche and soul better than we do today.
In this version of the same song, the Rune Reader sings his part in English: Krigsgaldr with English portion sung by Rune Reader. It is clear the tribe has been brutally attacked—their women and children killed. The Rune Reader says that they wish to live in peace, but the attackers only understand the language of war. Therefore, the tribe is invoking a ritual to plunge themselves into an unconscious state to protect what they love. Heilung can only reimagine how they might have done this, but what they have reimagined and perform for us is incredible, powerful, and terrifying for you realize how monstrous we can become when we descend into this place that is inside us all—a place that is capable of annihilation. I remember a documentary I saw some time ago that told how Hitler was fascinated by the ways of Germany’s tribal ancestors and wanted to bring them back. But he only wanted one side of them, and this is inherently lopsided like the Black Magician and White Magician from my post Is Collective Transformation Possible? Our ancestors’ held deep wisdom about the ways of the unconsciousness and the depths to which the human soul can fall. Thus, our ancestors performed elaborate rites and rituals to guide themselves through such journeys, especially the downward ones.
This is a similar understanding and ritual to what I write about in the post What Do I Do with the Mad Inside Me? In this post, I write about the elaborate war ritual that conflicting clans within the Fayu tribe engaged before the first arrows were released—a ritual that probably evolved over centuries. It was their way of channeling the Mad Inside them. It is very important to note that I am in no way glamorizing the ways of ancient tribes or saying our modern world needs to return to this state of being. In fact, several chapters later in the book child of the jungle, the author talks about the cycle of death that spun out of control between the warring clans of the Fayu tribe. In chapter 14, she describes how the Fayu did not understand the mechanism of disease or natural death, and therefore they attributed symptoms of disease and death to spiritual or magical causes. She says, “If a member of my family or clan died of disease, it would be my duty to determine who cursed that person. Then, I would be forced to avenge my relative. For example, an Iyarike would have an argument with a Tigre. A short while later, the Iyarike might die a natural death (e.g., from malaria). The immediate assumption would be that the Tigre must have cursed the person who died in retaliation for the argument they had. The Iyarike would then be obligated to kill the first available (i.e., most vulnerable) Tigre.” The Iyarike and Tigre were two clans of the four clans making up the Fayu tribe. The author recounts how this cycle of murder and revenge spun further and further out of control, resulting in the Fayu’s population dwindling from thousands down to several hundred. She says, “their culture had developed a singular focus on revenge without mercy or tender affection.”
We are all susceptible to psychic imbalances—ancient or modern. And, clearly having too little understanding for our outside reality (e.g., not understanding disease or natural death) hinders our development as a human being (and a species), but so too does having too little understanding of our inner reality; this also hinders our development. I do not wish to digress too far down this path for the focus of this post is our current economic reality. However, I would like to draw your attention to another of my older posts entitled The Collective Unconscious and the Oversoul. In this post, I quote Carl Jung who says: “The unconscious no sooner touches us than we are it–-we become unconscious of ourselves. That is the age-old danger, instinctively known and feared by primitive man, who himself stands so very close to this pleroma. His consciousness is still uncertain, wobbling on its feet. It is still childish, having just emerged from the primal waters. A wave of the unconscious may easily roll over it, and then he forgets who he was and does thing that are strange to him. Hence primitives are afraid of uncontrolled emotions, because consciousness breaks down under them and gives way to possession. All man’s strivings have therefore been directed towards the consolidation of consciousness. This was the purpose of rite and dogma; they were dams and walls to keep back the dangers of the unconscious, the ‘perils of the soul.’ Primitive rites consist accordingly in the exorcizing of spirits, the lifting of spells, the averting of the evil omen, propitiation, purification, and the production by sympathetic magic of helpful occurrences.”
In Heilung’s song, the tribe is choosing to descend, but they are attempting to guide (and perhaps control a little bit) their collective descent through an elaborate ritual that is balanced by deep love (i.e., the woman’s voice, their priestess). Today, we have forgotten this, and we do so at our own peril. Around the world, we see the effects of this forgetting for there are many warning signs. But getting back to the role of corporations, I would like to circle back to Roger McNamee and his book Zucked. In the interview I heard, he told Joshua Johnstone (the host of 1A) that what we have today is not capitalism as it existed 100 years ago, but rather a mutated and more predatory form of it. He expressed in this interview how corporations used to hold themselves accountable to their employees, their community, and their stakeholders (as I have mentioned), but now, they value only the stakeholder… the bottom line… profit. Comparing what he says with my personal experiences, it is my belief that when the stakeholders and profit becomes the highest value a corporation measures all its decisions against, they become capable of sacrificing the well-being of the human beings who work for them (or the human beings they say they are here to serve), often in the cruelest ways. Worst of all, this behavior is tolerated by many companies and indeed by us all. Perhaps this tolerance fits within our ideas about survival of the fittest for surely we want the strongest and fittest corporations to survive to protect us, but we have ended up with predators! Thus, this belief is as lopsided, and anything lopsided is going to spin out of control sooner or later.
McNamee is writing about Facebook because he mentored Mark Zuckerberg in its early days, and he is a stakeholder. When he began to see the lopsided nature of their business model and vision, he sounded the alarm. But by then, Facebook was too far in and committed to their model and vision. McNamee says this vision is shared by many modern companies and corporations not just Facebook (so this is a much bigger problem on our hands). In another interview he gave with The Guardian, McNamee talks about two important aspects of the NEW modern business model that has emerged. These are the questions he was asked, followed by his answers:
When did you first realize that things had taken a turn for the worse: McNamee answers: “I met Tristan Harris, a design ethicist from Google, who talked about what he called “brain hacking”, a term that he invented to describe the persuasive technologies used by internet platforms that enable them to develop habits in the minds of the people who use the products. Those habits evolve into addictions, and that situation makes [users] vulnerable to manipulation. Like a stroke of lightning, it made me see what it was that had potentially influenced the election in the U.S. and had potentially influenced Brexit.”
You said Brexit was a wake-up call. Why was that? Wake-up Call: McNamee answers: “It never occurred to me that there would be an asymmetry in the way that advertising works. That in order to command attention, you want to appeal to what [Tristan Harris] calls “the lizard brain”, the things that provoke outrage and fear. Things that essentially create a perception of reward. Those things, when you put them into advertising, can really be bad for democracy. Suddenly a neutral centrist idea gets very little traction on Facebook, where really extreme, emotionally charged ideas are viral. There’s evidence that in the US, the messages of the Trump campaign got 17 times the effective reach per dollar spent as Clinton’s messages, and that’s just a staggering advantage.”
I will not belabor these interviews for I think it is best for anyone who is interested in this subject to listen and read them for yourself and come to your own conclusions. I can only make my own conclusions based on my experience.
I will venture to say I believe we have been lulled into an unconscious sleep by the economic systems we have created to keep us safe. These systems have spawned giant corporations who have become increasingly lopsided in their vision, and they are gobbling up power, perhaps even unconscious of their unquenchable appetite. But, they crave it deeply—this power—and they will not let it go easily…not without deep conscious work. The corporations of today tell us that their behavior is completely normal (i.e., culling older workers, mass layoffs, putting stakeholders of big companies at the center of all business decisions). They tell us it has always been this way, but this is a lie. This type of behavior cuts us off from our shared humanity. It dehumanizes us by pitting us against each other and locking us into intense competition for who gets to stay on board the corporate ship (or rather the corporate submarine).
In this lopsided primal state, we are capable of tremendous cruelty for the sake of survival. But it is really corporate survival, isn’t it, and corporate survival is very different from human survival. Now, our collective human consciousness seems to be sinking faster and going deeper than ever before. One striking consequence of this rapid sinking of our collective consciousness is climate change that looks like it is accelerating faster and becoming much more destructive than we previously thought possible.
Thus, I have come to realize all of this is contained within the image I drew more than 2 years ago…that of reptilian instincts. Given my recent trauma, I animated this image to show an awakening—the eyes of which are distinctly human and clearly feminine—perhaps this is our lost or forgotten balance?
I will add one final insight about this image that comes from a BBC report I heard on October 25, 2018. In this report, they said a mother’s voice works better than a fire alarm to wake children up. Thus, by adding a human voice to smoke detectors, we could save lives— children’s lives.
What if we are these slumbering children who have been lulled into a prolong and extended state of unconsciousness by the system(s) we believe to be designed to sustain us. Rather they are putting us to sleep and keeping us asleep. We need to wake up and make the hard choices required to mitigate the direst effects of climate change for these choices require scarifies. But really, the biggest sacrifices need to be made by corporations, and they really don’t want to change—I’ve heard Trump say these very words often (just replace they with I). Without dramatic changes Now, the climate effects we are witnessing Now (e.g., 1,000-year floods occurring one after the other, huge and deadly wildfires, prolonged droughts, polar ice caps melting, species and habitat destruction) will only get worst in this century. It is happening Now, to someone you know.
We need to hear our mother’s voice. She is trying to wake us up. She has been trying for many years, but we are deep sleepers.
Note: This is a reposting from a former post on my old site Sapience207 with an update of what happened next after first posting this piece.
I woke up this morning clinging to a fragment of a dream where I was sitting quietly listening to a lesson being given by someone I could not see, but who was saying, “The sea is within…within every human being.” I knew this to mean the Sea of Unconsciousness—the vast, uncharted water churning below the surface of normal consciousness filled with hidden feelings, thoughts, and ideas—things that have been buried or have never risen to the light of consciousness. To most normal men and women who go about their daily lives following expected norms and traditions, if such hidden content suddenly became conscious, it would seem strange, even alien. But, there is so much that lies hidden underneath the thin surface of reality that “normal” human consciousness uses to navigate life. Humanity after all has only been on Earth for but a brief moment of time when compared to Earth’s geologic history or to the cosmological origins of the universe. Compared to these measures, humans are but blips in time. But still, even in this blip of time, humans have come to dominate pretty much all life on our planet, even while grasping only a fragment of the whole of consciousness existing within each of us and all around us—like water.
Recently, it has felt to me as if I am a survivor of some great disaster on this sea, and I am surviving only by clinging to a little bit of wreckage scattered on the surface of this endless Sea of Unconsciousness.
This feeling is due to circumstances beyond my control and is probably the reason for the dream, which I interpret as an ongoing effort to understand and make sense of these extreme circumstances. Something else that resonated recently in my sense-making mission is the Coen Brothers’ movie A Serious Man (2009). Yes, I know I’m late in getting around to watching this movie, but sometimes I think we see things when we are supposed to see them and when we need them. And, so I needed it now, and I really related to poor Larry Gopnick who is the main character and a person who has been living by all the rules and beliefs he was taught to follow until he encounters a string of strange reversals and even spooky circumstances that flip his reality upside down. What befalls Larry is so disconcerting and destabilizing it threatens to undo everything he has ever worked to achieve. In addition, he is poorly equipped to deal with or understand his circumstances. So, he seeks help from the Rabbis at his synagog, but each encounter leaves him more bewildered and baffled than before.
For a good read and analysis on this movie, go to: This Ruthless World; specifically, to the March 23, 2012 post: What Does this Movie Mean? “A Serious Man” (2009). However, I would like to highlight several spectacular observations this blogger makes about this movie. Number one, she says the movie is a commentary on the idea that we are taughtto just accept things as they are in life and sail through it without looking for answers; however, this same attitude is what costs Larry his marriage, his family, and his home. She further points out that the viewer might first assume the moral of the story is: “If you don’t tend to that garden, someone else will;” however, the moral really goes much deeper, sinking down into the idea that “the ‘wisdom’ of unthinking, indifferent existence is absolutely wrong and spiritually destructive.” And, this is so important!
Carl Jung believes this is important too, which is probably why I am obsessed with his writings since previously I posted about the Archetype of Meaningand the Archetype of Life. However, Jung says much more about both archetypes, especially in relation to sense-making and meaning, including the following:
“It always seems to us as if meaning—compared with life—were the younger event, because we assume, with some justification, that we assign it of ourselves, and because we believe, equally rightly no doubt, that the great world can get along without being interpreted.
But how do we assign meaning? From what source, in the last analysis, do we derive meaning?
This is a fantastic question that is worthy of every human being’s time and attention; however, it can be difficult work, especially when one is forced to do it due to circumstances that decimate one’s prior beliefs and systems of thinking—like Larry. I use the word decimate deliberately for when we are growing up, we are taught certain beliefs and ways of thinking in accordance with our culture and society (or tribe). These things are supposed to help us make sense of the world and give us a vehicle by which to navigate life’s ups and downs. However, systems of thinking and beliefs are much more like diverse and different wild animals that have been tamed by culture and society to help people survive living together over time. Thus, if one’s conscious landscape is decimated due to a great calamity that kills off a large number of the wild animals (i.e., systems of thinking and beliefs), then it becomes necessary to regenerate the land (i.e., conscious ground), and then to find and tame new ways of thinking and beliefs in order to go forward again. Loneliness ensues, especially for a person who has been thrust unexpectedly into this process, because family, friends, and larger community who have not been crushed by the same circumstances often remain quite happy to go on living in the same systems of thinking and beliefs that defined one’s previously shared reality.
Jung answers his own question of where meaning is derived, and thus how it is gained, in the following way:
“The forms we use for assigning meaning are historical categories that reach back into the mists of time—a fact we do not take sufficiently into account. Interpretations make use of certain linguistic matrices that are themselves derived from primordial images.”
Lets stop for one second to consider the word primordial. Jung uses this word a lot as he advances his theories of consciousness and the unconsciousness. However, I suspect it may create some confusion, so here’s a basic definition of primordial:
Existing at or from the beginning of time; primeval — “the primordial oceans”
(especially of a state or quality) basic and fundamental — “the primordial needs of the masses”
Biological:(of a cell, part, or tissue) in the earliest stage of development.are
To Jung, primordial means all of these things in relation to the origins of consciousness. He believes consciousness existed at the beginning of time and that it is a basic and fundamental state that all living beings are immersed. He also believes there are developmental stages of consciousness that can be traced back through time much like a human embryo transitions through key evolutionary stages before becoming a fetus that will become a human being. Thus, primordial images are structures in consciousness stretching back to the beginning of time. They form the blocking blocks of thoughts and our psychic nature. Thus, primordial images are crucial in helping a person make sense of their world and to find meaning and purpose, especially after a great calamity shatters one’s previous beliefs and ways of thinking.
Now, back to Jung who continues saying:
“Interpretations make use of certain linguistic matrices that are themselves derived from primordial images. From whatever side we approach this question, everywhere we find ourselves confronted with the history of language, with images and motifs that lead straight back to the primitive wonder-world.
Take, for instance, the word “idea.” It goes back to the concept of Plato, and the eternal ideas are primordial images [and thus] stored up (in a supracelestial place) as eternal, transcendent forms [Note: thissounds very much like where the ideas for gods and goddess emerged from the Sea of Unconsciousness]. The eye of the seer perceives them as “imagines et lares,” or as images in dreams and revelatory visions [like my dream].
Or let us take the concept of energy, which is an interpretation of physical events. In earlier times it was the secret fire of the alchemists, or phlogiston, or the heat-force inherent in matter, like the “primal warmth” of the Stoics [i.e., a member of the ancient philosophical school of Stoicism and a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining], or the Heraclitean (ever-living fire), which borders on the primitive notion of an all-pervading vital force, a power of growth and magic healing that is generally called mana.”
I think it is important to take another moment to consider just who the heck Heraclitus was; so, from Wikipedia:
Heraclitus of Ephesuswas a pre-SocraticGreek philosopher, and a native of the city of Ephesus, then part of the Persian Empire. He was of distinguished parentage. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. From the lonely life he led, and still more from the apparently riddled and allegedly paradoxical nature of his philosophy and his stress upon the heedless unconsciousness of humankind, he was called “The Obscure” and the “Weeping Philosopher”.
Heraclitus was famous for his insistence on ever-present change as being the fundamental essence of the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice” (see panta rheibelow). This is commonly considered to be one of the first digressions into the philosophical concept of becoming, and has been contrasted with Parmenides statement that “what-is is” as one of the first digressions into the philosophical concept of being. As such, Parmenides and Heraclitus are commonly considered to be two of the founders of ontology. Scholars have generally believed that either Parmenides was responding to Heraclitus, or Heraclitus to Parmenides, though opinion on who was responding to whom changed over the course of the 20th century. Heraclitus’ position was complemented by his stark commitment to a unity of opposites in the world, stating that “the path up and down are one and the same”. Through these doctrines Heraclitus characterized all existing entities by pairs of contrary properties, whereby no entity may ever occupy a single state at a single time. This, along with his cryptic utterance that “all entities come to be in accordance with this Logos” (literally, “word”, “reason”, or “account”) has been the subject of numerous interpretations.
I like this guy! Now, back to Jung again:
“I will not go on needlessly giving examples. It is sufficient to know that there is not a single important idea of view that does not possess historical antecedents. Ultimately, they are all founded on primordial archetypal forms whose concreteness dates from a time when consciousness did not think, but only perceived. “Thoughts” were objects of inner perception, not thought at all, but sensed as external phenomena—seen or heard, so to speak. Thought was essentially revelation, not invented but forced upon us or bringing conviction through its immediacy and actuality. Thinking of this kind precede the primitive ego-consciousness, and the latter is more its object than its subject. But we ourselves have not yet climbed the last peak of consciousness, so we also have a pre-existent thinking, of which we are not aware so long as we are supported by traditional symbols—or, to put it in the language of dreams, so long as the father or the king is not dead.”
I want to draw your attention to Jung’s idea that primitive humans experienced thought very differently than modern humans experience it. He says thought for primitive humans came as visions, disembodied voices, dreams, and probably even disembodied ghosts and phantoms—stuff from our own consciousness, but humans had not yet developed the powers to perceive and grasp that these things were coming from within. This must have been a time in human development when the world was spectacularly magical as well as unimaginably terrifying for demons are just as likely to pop out from the unconscious as well as fairies or benevolent helpers. No wonder our ancestors developed elaborate myths, rituals, and traditions designed to tame such occurrences and give them cohesion, structure, and function so they could understand and maybe control them, and perhaps, most importantly, so certain psychic states do not inadvertently tear to shreds the fragile shared reality that was being created by early human tribes—and thus the vital role of medicine man, medicine woman, shaman emerged—people who could travel into these obscure and shady realms of consciousness and return with wisdom.
Jung goes on to give a lively account of how unconscious thought can pave the way for conscious solutions by recounting a dream a young theological student had and his analysis of the dream (pages 33 to 37). I will not go into this dream, only noting it involves the dreamer, a handsome old man dressed entirely in black known who is known as the black magician, a magician dressed entirely in white (you guessed it… the white magician), and an extraordinary event that occurs in a country ruled by an old king who is near his death. In Jung’s analysis, it is important to know the two magicians are two aspects of the Wise Old Man who is the superior master and teacher that is known as the Archetype of the Spirit symbolizing the pre-existent meaning hidden in the chaos of life. He tells us that theologian’s dream reveals the old men are trying to show the dreamer how good and evil function together, and presumably to help answer an unresolved moral conflict within the Christian psyche (p.36). Jung writes:
“Modern man, in experiencing this archetype, comes to know that the most ancient form of thinking is an autonomous activity whose object he is. Hermes Trismegistus or the Thoth of Hermetic literature, Orpheus, the Poimandres (shepherd of men) and his near relation the Poison of Hermes, are formulations of the sam experience. (p.37)” (Note: Hermes Trismegistus was credited with tens of thousands of highly esteemed writings, which were reputed to be of immense antiquity. Plato‘s Timaeus and Critias state that in the temple of Neithat Saisthere were secret halls containing historical records which had been kept for 9,000 years. — Wikipedia)
If the name ‘Lucifer’ were not prejudicial, it would be a very suitable one for this archetype. But, I have been content to call it the Archetype of the Wise Old Manor Meaning. Like all archetypes it has a positive and a negative aspect, though I don’t want to enter into this here. The reader will find a detailed exposition of the two-facedness of the wise old man in The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales.
The three archetypes so far discussed—the shadow, the anima, and the wise old man—are of a kind that can be directly experienced in personified form [that is we very easily project them onto other human beings or animals or things in nature]. In the foregoing I tried to indicate the general psychological conditions in which such an experience arises. But what I conveyed were only abstract generalizations. One could, or rather should, really give a description of the process the archetypes appear as active personalities in dreams and fantasies. But the process itself involved another class of archetypes that one could call the Archetypes of Transformation.”
Just like the post from This Ruthless World, Jung is advising us to pay attention to the stuff in the shadow and to sink into the place where wisdom whispers for to not do so is at one’s own conscious-spiritual peril. Thus, I think I’ve come full circle from where I started with my dream that said “the sea is within”—the sea I am floating on now as I try to find new conscious structures that might instill new meaning and purpose to what was shattered. But, will it be enough to survive what’s coming next? Just like poor Larry Gopnick in A Serious Man, which begins with him teaching his physics students about Schrodinger’s cat; it ends with this same puzzle—does Larry and his son live or die after the tornado? We don’t know, and we won’t know until we look inside the box. Or perhaps more appropriately, until the box is rebuilt through the process of sense-making and meaning so the journey can continue—thus the process is ever unfolding, so probably it is never done, which is another theme in the movie: bad things happen…that is life!
I originally posted this blog on my free WordPress site Sapience207 last fall. After posting it and sharing it to my Facebook page, I met Hannelie Sensemaker WorldPainter Venucia who saw this post and the thing I said about it being a piece of sense making in a chaotic time. She asked me to do an interview about my journey as a sense maker so far, and so I did, despite my journey being very heavy, sad, and challenging. Towards the end our interview, I get to hope—to the one thing that still makes sense in my world where every other frame of reference I had developed up until last year was shattered (i.e., the things I was taught about being a good person, a good worker, how the human world works). And, so I am attaching the audio of this interview and the video. Hannelie and I have continued to communicate and are seeing more of how our individual journeys to make sense of a chaotic world merge and blend. We have more creative endeavors planned both individually and together. This website is one, and Hannelie is unveiling the JOY Planet website, which is part of the Embodied Wisdom and Adventure JOY Generation Portal. I believe both web spaces are creative pools where individuals can come and where new ideas might be inspired, grow, and take flight—not just by us, but also the many who are seeking and looking for how to make positive change in a world that seems bent on going in a direction that will not sustain life much longer or human dignity for all. We need everyone Now to tell our best stories possible about ourselves and each other and the world. I believe we can. And as we heal individually and grow, we heal and help Earth heal. Thank you for your time and attention. This is your most precious resource, so much more valuable than money or the physical adornments that are possible to buy with money for only using your time and attention can you come to know the fullness and beauty of your whole self.