Posts Tagged self
What is real? Our shadow or that which cast a shadow?
What we think we are is but a shadow cast by our past.
Yet what is real cast no shadow and lives in the present.
Before we can become who we really are, we must become conscious of the fact that the person who we think we are, here and now, is at best an impostor and a stranger. – Thomas Merton.
The Myth of Who We Are
After many years of intensely exploring all the aspects of what I thought I was, I realized that I was lost in the myth of what I thought I was. From a young age we create a myth about ourselves. We fashion this myth from our early experiences of our interaction with the world around us. For the rest of our lives, unless we ask ourselves what our personal myth are, we live our life according to our personal myth. We limit our potential to what the hero of our myth embodies. If we do not like the way the story of our myth is unfolding we have to change our motivational myth, but first we must uncover just what our personal myth is.
How do we find the origins and the mystery of our personal myth?
The hero must enter the dark caverns of the underworld, look beyond the masking myth of that which we think we are. In the hidden shadows of our being, in that part of ourselves that we hide so carefully from others, there lies the Grail cup of our healing and our real potential.
The theme of the Grail Romance is that the land, the country, the whole territory of concern has been laid waste. It is called a wasteland. And what is the nature of the wasteland? It is a land where everybody is living an inauthentic life, doing as other people do, doing as you’re told, with no courage for your own life. That is the wasteland … The Grail becomes … That which is attained and realized by people who have lived their own lives. The Grail represents the fulfillment of the highest spiritual potentialities of the human consciousness. Joseph Campbell – The Power of Myth
Unless we explore the assumptions we base our lives on we will remain enclosed in an unconscious image of who we are that was created in our child hood and live according to the limitations embodied by that particular image or Archetype.
We believe we are the mask we project but at the same time we know that the disowned part of ourselves is alive and well, and will someday break through the prison of our mask, exposing that which we have disowned and that which we do not want to acknowledge. We fear that the hidden part of ourselves is a hideous monster and by exposing it to the light the ugliness of ourselves will be revealed and we will be shunned by those around us. Especially those whose love and approval we seek. This is just an illusion we created; we are like the ugly old hag in the Arthurian legends that turns into the most beautiful woman when we kiss her with acceptance, even in her ugliness.
Power: Comes from Latin root posse, which means to be able.
We feel bound and limited by what our personal myth represent to us; “I am this” and I am that”, and I can do only this. We feel limited and powerless because we do not understand and know who we are.
The Rainbow of Potential
*The Rainbow Light is the full spectrum of our soul’s energy and the Divine Power – it includes dark radiance, white brilliance, and the entire spectrum of light and color.”
Somewhere in our distant past, one of our ancestors, or more likely a few at the same time, became aware.
I feel… I?
Who, what am I? Like a mirage appearing to the thirsty lost in the desert we never seem be able to reach it. Like a rainbow that appears in the tears of our life, insights to ourselves appear in a blaze of glory, only to disappear into the vastness of the sky.
“If only we can get to the end of the rainbow you can find the pot of gold.”
The problem is that we are looking for the pot of gold instead of looking at the rainbow. We will keep on chasing after rainbows until one day we realize that the pot of gold is understanding the symbol of the rainbow.
The Hebrew word for “I” is Ani, which is spelled with the same letters as the word Ain, which means no-thingness. Thus there is a suggestion that the real I or me is the nothingness within me; that which lies beyond the mirage or the fleeting rainbow. When you turn inside looking for the self, you will not find the self. The instant one turns inward to look at the self, the self vanishes like the rainbow. Yet, when you are not looking for the self, there is a sense of self. We also find this when we are looking for the source of our thoughts; thoughts arise in the mind, abide in the mind, and disappears in the mind, but the source cannot be found. Although this may frustrate us when we are trying to find that pot of gold, it also points to the real bottomless pot of gold.
You are not Limited by your Image of Self
When you observe your thoughts, you will also notice that the mind spontaneously generates thoughts without end – an infinite potential of creation without beginning or end.
The divine destiny of the human being, is implied in the Hebrew word for rainbow, qeshet. Qeshet is spelled Koof-Shin-Tau; Shin and Tau spell the name of Seth, who is the image and likeness of Adam (the human one – transcended human being). Qof, in essence, represents previous cycles in the development and evolution of the mind or soul-stream and, thus, represents karmic conditioning or assumptions of what we are.
In the understanding of Ani-Ain we find an important key to our true nature. According to the masters when Yeshua turned the water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana it was possible because the root essence and nature of water and wine is the same – Ain/no-thingness. Thus, dissolving the Ani (I) of water into Ain, he brings forth the Ani of wine. If you dissolve your Ani (self-image) into Ain what can you bring forth? It contains the essence of what shape-shifting is.
If you think of yourself as limited by what you think you are; bound to one limited manifestation of self or personal history then think about the potential represented in the understanding of Ani-Ain in terms of self-realization. At the very heart of the path to self realization is the ability to dissolve one manifestation of Ani into Ain and thus remanifest Ani at a higher level. You can thus change the limited image of yourself through conscious evolution.
You can dissolve false self-images and bring forth the true image of yourself – a being in becoming
The Hebrew word Eheieh, which literally means “I am” or “I shall be” which is the highest or innermost name of God. Every time we say “I am this” or “you are this” we are actually invoking the holy name Eheieh. This relates directly to third commandment; “Do not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.” In Hebrew “sin” translates as “missing the mark”. We are missing the mark every time we use the words “I am this” or “you are this” in negative terms. When we speak in such a way so as to uplift ourselves and others, we are uplifted. It is a simple and basic truth – it is the power of Eheieh.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others” Marianne Williamson
Perhaps this musing on ‘Who am I” will also give a deeper insight in what self-love is. John Carroll in his book “the/ western/ dreaming,” describes soul love, as the “hallmark of soul-mate love is that any enquiry about who you are, what you have done or where you have been is entirely superfluous. It is the I am in another, hardly needing to speak, but to acknowledge with gratitude and awe: I am known. Someone walks beside me. Then each to each on their journey of journeys, may repeat: Courage. I am. Don’t fear!”
Just so it is with self-love from which flows all other love and life.
In soft green grassy lake
I drift and merge
in unfathomable depths
A rainbow burst in splendour
seeds of light
scattered in the passing storm
In brief glory
of numinous potential
This week I will be mostly quiet, as I moving …
Your house is your larger body
It grows in the sun and sleep in the stillness of
Night;and it is not dreamless. Does not your house
Dream? And dreaming, leave the city for a grove or hilltop?
… And though og magnificence and slendour, your house shall not hold your secret not shelter your
For that which is boundless in you abides in the
Mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist,
And whose windows are songs and the silences of
Night. – Kahlil Gibran
by Greg Kimura
You enter life a ship laden with meaning, purpose and gifts
sent to be delivered to a hungry world.
And as much as the world needs your cargo,
you need to give it away.
Everything depends on this.
But the world forgets its needs,
and you forget your mission,
and the ancestral maps used to guide you
have become faded scrawls on the parchment of dead Pharaohs.
The cargo weighs you heavy the longer it is held
and spoilage becomes a risk.
The ship sputters from port to port and at each you ask:
“Is this the way?”
But the way cannot be found without knowing the cargo,
and the cargo cannot be known without recognizing there is a way,
and it is simply this:
You have gifts.
The world needs your gifts.
You must deliver them.
The world may not know it is starving,
but the hungry know,
and they will find you
when you discover your cargo
and start to give it away.
Posted by Michael McKnight
Also see Hunger and Desire
who I am
what I am
What is worse
the not knowing
or the knowing
for the knowing brings me
to a terrible choice
Did you forget too
did you not see my longing
the music of the eternal sea
reached my soul
did you not see the waning light in my eyes
the very light that attracted you
reflection of the wildness of my soul
were you content
are you content
just to keep me by your side
and tend the fires of your hearth
Was it a dream
was there a time in another skin
that I was free
to ride the waves
to join the laughter of the waves
and dive deep into
the unknown depths
when the mournful song
from the sea did not threaten
to overwhelm me
with forgotten feelings
a fierce hunger
for something unattainable
I thought it was but
an idle dream
Now that I know
I must choose
how terrible the choice
When I first heard the ancient tale of the Selchie spouse, powerful images filled my consciousness, and I wondered about Selchie Choices. The sea of course represents the unconsciousness in mythological and dream symbology. How appropriate the story of the Selchie for choices we sometimes encounter upon our path.
Choices once seemed so simple to make; so easy to decide what is right and wrong. However, when you know the full implication of where your choice will lead it is no wonder that the Sybil are often described as with “unsmiling lips”. To see beyond the horizon; to see the unfolding patterns throughout time, can be a heavy burden. Each way you turn involve risk and potential loss, and you know that someone will get hurt, and yet you know you must make a choice, for even if you do not make a choice, a choice will be forced upon you and you will not be able to live an authentic life any longer. If up to that point you have lived an authentic life, all your gains will be lost, and the fall will be hard. If you do not choose you will no longer really be alive. Yet, whatever choice you make, you must make it with the full knowledge of giving up a part of yourself. Anyone who consciously strives to live an authentic life will encounter it.
In Jung’s “Memories, Dreams, Reflection”, the last chapter, “Retrospect,” I see a reflection of the Selchie Dilemma.
“ Knowledge of processes in the background early shaped my relationship to the world. Basically, that relationship was the same in my childhood as it is this day. As a child I felt myself to be alone, and I am still, because I know things and must hint at things which others apparently know nothing of, and for the most part do not want to know. Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible. The loneliness began with the experiences of my early dreams, and reached its climax at the time I was working on the unconsciousness. If a man knows more than others, he becomes lonely. But loneliness is not necessarily inimical to companionship, for no one is more sensitive to companionship than the lonely man, and companionship, thrives only when each individual remembers his individuality and does not identify himself with others…
“But if a man faced with a conflict of duties undertakes to deal with them absolutely on his own responsibility, and before a judge who sits in judgment on him day and night, he may well find himself in an isolated position. There is now an authentic secret in his life which cannot be discussed – if only because he is involved in an endless inner trial in which he is his own counsel and ruthless examiner, and no secular or spiritual judge can restore his easy sleep. If he were nor already sick to death of the decisions of such judges, he would never have found himself in a conflict. For such a conflict always presupposes a higher sense of responsibility. It is this very quality which keeps its possessor from accepting the decision of a collectivity. In his case the court is transposed to the inner world where the verdict is pronounced behind closed doors.
The man, therefore, who, driven by his daimon, steps beyond the limits of the intermediary stage, truly enters the “untrodden, untreadable regions,” where there are no charted ways and no shelter spreads a protecting roof over his head. ”
The Selchie’s choice represents for me that very aspect, of the ‘daimom’ Jung spoke of, which represents for me personally the passion of my life. Without the driving force of my passion my life looses its meaning and like the Selchie I will slowly close down all my faculties, in order to bear the pain of ignoring the call of my soul. This is why I love Mythos as an expression; it can express multiple layers of perspective at the same time. A single symbol has multiple layers of meaning, from the most mundane, to the most profound of what we can grasp, at a given time.
It is the ‘daimon’ within those of us who strive to live an authentic life that eventually leads us to find our skins, and bring us to soul choices; which we cannot deny.
I see the moon reflecting on the mirror surface of the pool. A ribbon of cloth floats towards me. What bigger piece is it from? I feel its texture with my fingertips, run it across my face to feel what it stirs in my soul. Who was the weaver of the cloth? Who spun the thread, where did the raw material feel the first ray of light to bear forth that, which in the hands of the master spinner and weaver becomes the myth of its origin? From whence this ribbon of cloth? I hold it to my face and fill my breath with its essence. I dive into a crystal clear pool, as if diving into the radiating source of light, so pure. In this source of light I feel myself purified the deeper I swim. I swim until I feel there is no more need for I will never reach the end, I allow myself just to drift, wrapped in peace. Slowly I float back to the surface. I open my eyes; the warm breeze cooling the water drops on my skin.
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. – Albert Einstein
Dreams have always played an important role in my life. The mystery of them fascinated me; yet, I could sense from an early age that they held a much deeper secret than I could possibly comprehend at that age. My first inkling of dream potential came when at the age of twelve I found Joan Grant’s “Winged Pharaoh.” I was so inspired that I set about to record my dreams – which I have done ever since – as well as exploring, telepathic dreaming, dream travel, shared dreaming, dream incubation, and lucid dreaming. Even so, it was only much later that I began to master dream interpretation, and many more before dreams started to teach me about reality.
Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. – Carl Jung
The masters of all wisdom traditions will tell you that life is like a dream, and although we may give the concept intellectual credence, very few have experiential realization of this truth. What is more, there are layers of realization, or “gnosis” of this truth. Just as enlightenment is not just a once off realization, or what some will call a one-stage evolution, but is rather a journey that begins on the surface and then proceeds deeper and deeper into the multi-layered, many splendid thing we call reality. The thousand petaled lotus rising from the dark muddy depths into the light, unfolding to reveal its golden core. To experience this, dreaming offers not only a mirror of our process, but also an evolutionary tool for expanding our consciousness. Dreams are a direct reflection of our levels of consciousness, our fears and desires. Even if we can’t remember our dreams, it still tells us something.
We all have about three or four dreams a night, yet how many do we remember? How many dreams are we conscious of? By training ourselves to remember dreams, we are training ourselves to expand our conscious awareness, for by remembering our dreams we become conscious of what is unconscious.
“What do we long for? We long for self-transcendence. ..We all need self-transcendence and, at the same time, we fervently long for it.” Sri Chinmoy
Although we fear change, we also yearn for it, for we are all seeking ways to transcend our physical, mental and psychological limitations. It is the driving force behind evolution; it is what encourages people to train and improve their physical capacities. This inner aspiration for self transcendence is an important feature of human nature. However, before we can change anything, we have to become aware of it, as such awareness is the key to all self-transcendence. In Wisdom traditions expanding our consciousness, is called cultivating a presence of awareness.
What is consciousness? Consciousness is awareness. Awareness is like the beam of a flashlight; it is a flow of illuminating light towards an object. What we perceive as reality, or what we are conscious of, is only a small fraction of what reality is. This not only relates to the reality of the Cosmos both scientific and metaphysically, but also to the reality of who we think we are. What we think we are is only a small fraction of who we are. Jung described it as a small, bright spot on a large sphere. Our normal conscious awareness represents the small bright spot, whereas what we are unaware of, our unconsciousness is the vast unexplored sphere of the universe, of the whole. We are aware of about 10 – 15 percent of our mind’s thoughts, experiences, feelings, memories and beliefs.
We can relate this to the story of the Elephant and the Five Blind men. We are like the five blind men, each thinking that we know what an elephant is, from what we are experiencing consciously. However, we are way off the mark in describing how the part we are experiencing, relates to the whole, because we have no idea what the whole looks like from our limited conscious perspective. For us then to expand our consciousness, we must become aware of what we are at present unconscious of.
In most of the ancient traditions, dreams were considered important, and were used as guides for future actions. According to the Talmud, “A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read.” Since the Nineteenth Century, the Western World rejected these “letters” as non-sense because we have forgotten how to read them. At the end of the Nineteenth Century, Freud once again brought the importance of dreams to light; however, he still had the Elephant by its proverbial balls.
There is a fine line between dreams and reality; it’s up to you to draw it. – B. Quilliam
If life is like a dream, then what is a dream? Perhaps one of the most basic ways to define dreams comes from the American Heritage Dictionary, 1978, “… a series of images, ideas, etc., occurring in certain stages of sleep.”
Being asleep is exactly what the masters explain as our ordinary state of consciousness, thus our unawakened state. While you are in a dream it feels real, it is only when you wake up, that you realize it was a dream.
In explaining how we view reality, my Tzaddik, Tau Malachi, often recounts the story of a Professor explaining the distinction between neurosis and psychosis as, “Neurosis is when you build a castle in the sky, and psychosis is when you go and live there.” Using this analogy, if our experience of reality is a radiant display of our own consciousness, we have indeed, “built a castle” and gone to live in it, and we are completely unconscious that we have built it. Likewise, in the midst of this life we project all manner of unreal concepts and ideals on ourselves and the world, so that we do not know what is real in us and cannot look and see Reality as It Is.
There is an objective reality out there, but we view it through the spectacles of our beliefs, attitudes, and values. – David G. Myers, Social Psychology
It is also called karmic vision, the vision of ignorance – perception of ourselves and the reality of our experience that is entirely subjective. Our view of reality is like when we go to sleep and embark upon an apparent journey through all manner of dreams, bright, dark and in between. In reality, we have not moved, we have gone nowhere; yet in our experience the dreams become the reality of our experience. From one dream to another, through the long night, we may have been saint or sinner, and we may do many things, apparently good and evil, but when we awake, they were only dreams and we did none of these things – we remember who we really are, and we return to the awareness of the real.
Ironically, the only way we can tell the difference between a dream and waking reality, is by comparing the memories to what we know through our physical senses, and seeing some of the things we experienced in the dream are not possible in the realm we call reality. Yet, memories themselves are an imaginary process, subjective and based on our selective perception. Each time we re-member something, we literally re-imagine it. The intangible becomes tangible again. The mind makes no distinction between memories regardless of the source; whether imagined or real. For the mind, the ones that are most real are the ones with the greatest sensory impact. You can test this for yourself by observing your body’s reactions to real remembered stressful situations, and those that you saw in a movie, or dreamed of.
So how do we know what we think is reality, is reality? This is exactly question the masters want us to arrive at.
“It is only by questioning what people take for granted, what people hold to be true, that we can break through the hypnosis of social conditioning.” – Deepak Chopra
We all dream, the fetus starts to dream within the womb from about 23 weeks. Even animals dream. Why do we dream at all? From within the scientific arena there has been much speculation in this regard. It has recently been discovered that even the platypus displays rapid-eye-movement, or REM, sleep. (REM sleep in human beings is associated with vivid dreaming, and its observable symptoms.) With this information, the question also arises of whether or not dinosaurs had dreams, and whether indeed reptiles also dream.
Recent studies and theories into the purpose of dreams, has brought to light what is called the dream expectation theory. Says, Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell in their book “Dream Reality – How dreaming keeps us sane, or can drive us mad,” The prime function of dreams is to metaphorically act out undischarged emotional arousals (expectations) that were not acted out during the previous day. By dreaming we complete the arousal / dearousal circuit so as to wake up with an unstressed autonomic nervous system and our instincts intact. (An emotion is another word for an expectation.) Stress, for example, is caused by an accumulation of arousal patterns in the autonomic nervous system that are not being dearoused by taking the necessary actions that would do so.
Thus according to the dream expectation theory, if we have happy positive expectations we have happy dreams, but, when this system is overstretched and the dreaming process cannot cope with the amount of negative expectations (as when people continually worry), sleep balance is disturbed, dreams are miserable, even nightmarish, and depression can set in. An extreme stress overload can interfere with the process to such an extent that psychotic symptoms arise (schizophrenia is waking reality perceived through the dreaming brain).
This directly reflects what wisdom traditions have been saying down the ages, that in order to achieve “the dreamless – dream state”, one has to overcome attachments and aversions. Whatever we have an attachment to or an aversion for, will cause emotional expectations, and as such create dreams from the emotional arousal. If we then relate this to the reality of our waking life, we can clearly see the cause and effect of our emotional expectations shaping our reality. Our unfulfilled emotional arousals will create situations in which the arousals can be fulfilled, whether good or bad, positive or negative. If not, we will find “recurring dreams” or life situations occurring until such arousals are either fulfilled, or resolved. It has been been found that even if during the day we experience a high level of emotional arousal, but we resolve that arousal in the course of the day, we will not find it occurring in a dream. Now if we relate this, to what is said happens after life and future incarnations, we can begin to see the heaven and hell scenarios, and the concept of karma playing itself out.
Attachment or aversions relate to our desire energy. Fear and desire for something are two sides of the same coin. We not only become what we love, but also what we fear. The sexual drive, which stems from an emotional arousal, reflects not only pure sexual energy but also creative energy and kundalini energy. Just as the creative impulse can be used to create uplifting and spiritual works, so can it be used for dark and degrading works. Likewise, the desire energy, can be used purely for self satisfaction, or elevated to lofty spiritual heights; for spiritual transformation, or metatonia, as is found in Tantra Yoga, especially in the Vajrayana wisdom tradition, and the Arayot, the mysteries of sexual mysticism in the Kabbalah, which is the upliftment of the “fire serpent”, or desire energy.
If we take it back to each of our individual conceptions, we can then see that our very conception, our very coming into being, stems from the emotional arousal of our parents, and as such we are a concrete dream born out of our parent’s emotional arousal. However, just as our dream metaphors take on a life of their own, with multiple metaphorical meaning, so do we, as offspring of our parents emotional expectations.
To take this further, our emotions, feelings, and desires are the energy; our thoughts, words, and deeds are the forms that the energy assumes. Emotion-feeling-desire and thoughts shape one another and produces images in the imagination. Now according to the Kabbalah, these images becomes vehicles in the astral planes for spiritual forces corresponding to the nature of the desires and thoughts forming them, and through our words and deeds, we become vehicles of those spiritual forces in the material plane. All dreams have a connection with the astral, whether, lower, middle or upper astral. The astral itself represents Yesod in the Kabbalah, and as such is the gateway for all spiritual forces into the earthly realm. Thus just like our emotions, feelings and desires creates our thoughts, which in turn is what we base our actions on, so we can see the reflection in our dream life. Our dreams reveal clearly the forms of our emotions, feeling and desire.
“To understand your dreams is to understand that every part of a dream is in reality a part of you.” – Joshua David Stone.
If every part of a dream is part of you, what light does this throw on reality? Just as we do not see ourselves as who we really are, just so do we not see others as they really are. We project our fears and desires onto other people. Again it is one thing to understand this intellectually but quite another to have actual realization, or gnosis of this. In this regard, understanding your dreams can bring you realization of how we view not only others in our awake lives, but also the rest of creation.
When you make a deliberate effort to listen to your own internal conversations, you begin to notice something astonishing. You may think of yourself as Peter or Mary, thus one identity interfacing with the world, but as you begin to observe, you see that actually you have several sub-personalities. If you are not aware of this, they rule your life. The real you, becomes like a weak leader, swaying between the strongest voices of opposition with no direction. These sub personalities are psychological satellites.
Roberto Assagioli who was the founder of the psychological movement known as Psychosynthesis wrote; “We are not unified; we often feel that we are, because we do not have many bodies and many limbs. And because one hand doesn’t usually hit the other. But metaphorically, that is exactly what happens within us. Several sub personalities are continually scuffling: impulses, desires, principles, aspirations are engaged in an unceasing struggle”.
This is exactly what is metaphorically acted out in our dreams. The people you encounter in your dreams are not themselves, but rather they represent beliefs you hold, just as sub personalities represent beliefs you hold.
Those evil or alien beings you encounter in your dreams are but reflections of parts of you that you have disowned.
This is also reflected in the sleeping disorder that occurs during the Hypnogogic state (transition between awake and sleep, the state of drowsiness we experience as we begin falling asleep) when some people experience what is called sleep paralysis, or a feeling of a heavy weight pressing down on the chest, often associated with “Hag Dreams” and incubus, or an evil presence. Al Cheyne, the head of the department of psychology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, explains that during the hypnogogic phase, the muscular reflexes associated with the limbs disappear, and the sleeper is in fact, paralysed. If the unconscious realization of this penetrates through the conscious level, as during a light sleep, it is then incorporated into the dream, and one could feel paralysed. One person who suffers from sleep paralyses several times a year describes that the terror that many experience during sleep paralysis comes from losing control. “It comes from being in a situation where you don’t know what’s going to happen next, you don’t know if your breathing is going to stop or whether something otherworldly is there. In a way you’re battling against yourself and you don’t have the power to control your body.”
Al Cheyne presents an even more illuminating insight. “The emotion of fear accompanies threats and dangers. When you activate fear you activate a whole set of strategies to deal with danger. If you consider the fact that the part of your brain responsible for fear (the limbic system) is active at the same time that you’re awake and paralysed and helpless, this would tend to aggravate the condition. Essentially your brain strains to find clues to understand what it perceives as a threat. The sound of the fan becomes a whispering voice, a creak becomes a demon climbing on the bed, and when the brain doesn’t have a stimulus, it makes one up”.
In this we see a direct reflection of how humanity reacts when encountering the unknown. It has often been said that humanity fears the unknown. However, if you do not know something, then you are also not afraid of it. There might very well be a threat to your life around the corner, but if you are unaware o this, you are not going to be afraid of it, conversely, you might very well think there is a threat around every corner and live in fear. As soon as we encounter the emptiness of the unknown we project our fears onto it, just like the coat in a dark room becomes a monster, until you turn the light on. This is also reflected in the teachings of the Christian Kaballah in regard to Da’at. Da’at means ‘knowledge,” yet many will call Da’at the abyss; this is because Da’at just like the unknown, has a mirror-like nature – the nature of the mind – and assumes an appearance relative to the one who approaches it. Thus akin to a mirror in which one sees oneself. Depending on your state of consciousness you will see something divine or something dark and demonic, thus facing the Jungian “shadow.”
According to the teaching of all wisdom traditions, we are in reality all one; all separation is “a radiant display”, and all that you experience is a reflection of inner realities. We see the same principal reflected in the Tibetan Chöd practices.
“What common folk think of as a demon is something very, very big, and coloured deep black. Who ever sees one of these is truly terrified and trembles from head to foot”, said Machig Labdrön. Nevertheless, no such demons really exist apart from the mind! The truth of the matter is this: Anything whatsoever that obstructs or limits the attainment of Liberation is a demon. Even our loving and affectionate relatives can become “demons” for us, if they are obstructing our spiritual evolution. Thus the greatest of all “demons” is actually the Demon of Ego, which is your own sense of a permanent, independent self, separate from all others. If you do not slay this clinging to a self, then good and bad spirits (lha-dre) will keep lifting you up and letting you down.”
In the famous story of Milarepa, when on returning to his cave, he found the demoness of the rock had entered his cave and had assumed five utterly terrifying emanations. Milarepa was so amazed to see these demons in his cave that he couldn’t even step into the doorway. He was filled with terror and began reciting the mantra of his meditational deity as fast as he could, and this made it worse. The demons got bigger and greater and then he began meditating upon self nature as the deity and it got even worse. Then he started wrathful mantras and this also didn’t work. Finally, in desperation, he remembered the instructions given by his lama – that all phenomena arise from the mind and that all appearances are just one’s own projection. Then he entered into the awareness of the nature of emptiness, the nature of mind, and immediately they were gone – vanished – no more. Until we realize that phenomena are the projections of our mind, then we can expect that wherever we go, there will always be demons, spirits and problems.
Dreaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which if it were available in waking, would make every man a Dante or Shakespeare. – H.F. Hedge
Just realizing this can have a profound effect on one’s life. When you start to realize that every character from your dreams is a part of you, whether owned or disowned to the degree that it becomes a demon, it becomes incredibly empowering. You no longer react to every situation as a victim of fate but start to look at every situation in your life, as to what it reveals about the patterns at play in your life. If each demon you encounter in your dream reflects an aspect of yourself disowned, then the opposite applies as well. Those godlike qualities you find in a character in your dream, displays aspects of yourself that you have disowned, waiting for you to own as your own. It is called the bright shadow.
As a Sophian Gnostic, one of the primary objectives is to become fully lucid in all states and levels of consciousness. To become aware that you are dreaming while in a dream is called Lucid dreaming. However, before you can lucid dream, you must be able to remember your dreams, or to become conscious of what you are unconscious of. One of the most common practices to induce lucid dreaming is to ask yourself every time you do a simple task, say for example, boil a kettle, “Am I dreaming.” While you are doing this you will realize just how often you forget to do it, thus that you are unconsciously swept away in the events of life. When we are living an unconscious life, we identify with momentary sensations, emotions and feelings. I am this, I am that. We are swept along from one emotion to another. You can only become lucid in a dream by practicing being lucid in your daily life.
Dream work requires patience and discipline, before it starts to bear fruit. It is interesting that research has shown that most people, who experience unintentional lucidness in a dream, will do so during a nightmarish dream. In our awake lives, it is often only a crisis that can induce us to wake up from our dreams, and force us to re-look at how we view reality.
The reason I have found that so few people do any dream work, or even attempt to do lucid dreaming, is because they become discouraged, when they do not have immediate results.
“Dreams are a reservoir of knowledge and experience, yet they are often overlooked as a vehicle for exploring reality. When you realize that everything is like a dream, you attain pure awareness. And the way to attain this awareness is to realize that all experience is like a dream.”- Tarthang Tulku
We live in a world of instant gratification. There are many these days who offer instant enlightenment. Chungya Rinpoche, founder of Naropa University, writes in his book Dharma Art, about spiritual materialism as a danger for the seeker of higher consciousness. The collecting of sublime or ‘spiritual’ insights can be a trap similar to having must have designer brands, the best car, or coolest electronic device. Thus you can say we might go looking for Spiritual Experiences like we go power shopping at the mall. This is not at all something most want to hear about, yet it is the truth. The process of enlightenment, or pure awareness, is not an instant affair, and there are many layers of enlightenment, just as there are levels of lucidness in dreams. Yes, you can instantly be more enlightened than you were yesterday, but it is just a beginning. We have to prepare and cultivate the soils of our inner being for the ability to perceive the multiple layers of reality, just as it requires patience and discipline in dream work.
When we first have a spiritual experience, it is like a blind person who can suddenly see, just as when you have been in the dark for a long time and then go out into the light. You are blinded by the light and cannot see any distinctions of what you have seen. It takes time to adjust your eyes. In the Sophian Gnostic Tradition, it is called the perfection of non-dual realization, the “highest rung,” or Pure Radiant Awareness, Supernal Da’at (direct knowing). To have sudden pure awareness, to see reality as it is, would be like looking straight into sun after being in the darkness. I am reminded of St. Paul’s conversion – Saul on the road to Damascus – “And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink”. St. Paul had a radical experience of enlightenment, which is rare indeed, yet even after this, he spoke of himself as the least of the disciples. He wrote later in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” This gives us a clear indication that to see reality as it is, or ourselves as we really are, will take preparation.
“How long must we sit, limited in our own selves?” – Idra Rabba
This is also corroborated by what is now seen as the function of REM sleep. Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell found that, the REM state is the mechanism that connects us with reality – a reality generator; it is constantly running in the background, searching out at lightning speed the codes needed to match metaphorically to whatever is meaningful in the environment, and thus creating our perception of reality. In the dream state, when REM is at its most obviously active, sensory information from the outside world is ‘shut off’, the templates searching for their completion scan the brain and make metaphorical images from whatever they call up from memory. (This is also seen when people access memories that evoke strong emotions: rapid eye movements occur even when their eyes are open.) It is active when we dream but also when we daydream. It is seen when people go into focused states of attention (trance) and when strong instincts are aroused. It is associated with hallucinations and hearing voices. The dream contains these metaphorical images and, while we are in it, becomes the reality we are conscious of, or the paradigm of our reality.
A paradigm is basically perceptual concepts through which we perceive the world and as such form the boundaries of our imagination. It can also be called a conceptual matrix through which we experience the world. It is this conceptual matrix that shapes the form of our ego. The word ego means “I”. The ego is simply the carrier of what we think we are, and it is through what we think we are, that we relate to the world around us. The ego basically carries our identity, or what we imagine we are. This is clearly reflected in our dreams.
In our dreams each particular metaphorical image contains multiple levels of meaning, because the job of the dream is to deactivate emotional arousals and it can do that with several streams of arousal through the same image at the same time. This also why our waking reality is quite different – it is dramatically toned down. It has to be because, if we always saw multiple levels of meaning in everything, we wouldn’t be able to make sense of, or operate within, our environment. We would end up totally confused in a psychotic state. To deal with this problem, the neocortex of the brain, the rational part of our awake mind, inhibits multi-meaning.
Because we are unable to experience and understand all of reality at once, we must take ‘bites’ of reality the size we can ‘chew’. We then form an image based on this as to the nature of the whole ‘elephant’. The image formed is much like a map of poorly charted territory. We use this map to navigate the events and situations encountered in the world, just as an explorer uses a map to find their way through a jungle they have never previously encountered.
All the impressions, images, thoughts, events and situations the individual has experienced come together in that person’s mind. There they interact with each other to create an internally consistent, dynamic image of the world that provides the individual the means to cope with the environment. Even though the map will be generally internally consistent, it may or may not be consistent with the external world it is attempting to navigate. Sometimes the map will be accurate and reliable, while at other times, the map will not provide the necessary accuracy. The underlying fears and distress that had been allayed will re-emerge.
You can say that in order to map “reality as it is”, we he have to develop the internal software first before we can see “face to face”. According to theories we actually dream to forget, to integrate what we have experienced during the day, giving our systems a chance to upload new programs, and make space for new learning. Although we wish to suddenly be a fully realized and enlightened person, we would go mad without the preparation to see reality as it is. It takes time and integration, to upload new programs, in order to incorporate our wider sense of awareness, or indeed multiple levels of consciousness.
As we have seen the same applies in meditation. Meditation calms the surface consciousness – those parts of the mind that deal with the actual and material world in our ordinary consciousness. Thus, our imagination, our reverie, stops and all idle chatter of the ordinary mind is brought into silence, cessation – a state of mental and vital repose comes into being, and in that repose our consciousness opens to higher and more refined levels of mental consciousness – higher aspects of the mind that are intuitive and sensitive to things of the upper or spiritual worlds, and through which we can contact spiritual forces and experience parapsychological phenomenon. This is why through regular meditation individuals often experience heightened parapsychological phenomenon of various kinds; through meditation individuals may gain sight into the future or sight into things far removed from them, and they may become conscious of contacts with spiritual beings-forces that typically remain unconscious in most ordinary individuals – they experience an opening of consciousness to metaphysical dimensions and spiritual worlds.
Essentially, the imaginative faculty translates the spiritual and supernal experiences of the soul into recognizable imagery, giving form to that which is abstract and formless, as though clothing it in garments – and this is the experience, the dream, or vision in dream, which the incarnate soul may know and understand, and speak about. However, in truth, it is only an interpretation of spiritual and supernal experience, and the interpretation may be more or less pure or impure, more or less clear or distorted.
This, of course, is very deceptive – whether in sleep and dream, or in meditation, because when a person’s mind is not completely clear, perfectly pure, the spiritual or mystical experience is going to be translated into whatever inane thoughts or strange desires are in the mind – this is why in authentic spiritual traditions, training requires such extreme self-purification of the mind, heart and life, and indeed the consciousness of the spiritual aspirant.
Those aspiring to see reality as it is, must learn how to discern between every possible nuance and gradation of spiritual and mystical experience – and they must have a very thorough spiritual education, providing their imaginative faculty with a very large and consistent symbolic vocabulary through which various gradations of experience may be discerned and through which a truer translation of spiritual and supernal experiences may occur. Basically, the images of a luminous dream or vision are created totally by one’s own mind, and therefore what appears is completely dependent upon one’s state of consciousness and knowledge at the time of the experience, and whether that mirror is hazy or clear, impure or pure. One can say, unless the proper vehicle is formed in consciousness, (the proper software is developed), and the consciousness itself is purified and refined, the higher grades of enlightenment, or awareness, are impossible to attain, a fit and pure vessel must be fashioned to receive it.
Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions. – Edgar Cayce
When you dream you have your five senses available to you. You may well ask how this can be when you are sleeping. When you are dreaming you are utilizing your five inner senses of the subconscious mind. Our inner senses are subtle counterparts of your five external senses; inner sight (clairvoyance), inner hearing (clairaudience), inner smell, inner taste, and inner touch. As many of us have experienced, our subconscious mind can also reach out and connect with minds of others, resulting in telepathic dreams; and it can reach into the past and into the future, unearthing information we did not think we knew, sometimes leading to precognitive dreams.
Here we must ask what is precognition, what exactly is prophesy? It will also be interesting to note that in the ancient past, almost all prophesy occurred through dreams. To be able to experience a prophetic state while awake, would be similar to being lucid while in a dream. The boundaries between dreams and reality become thin. Some of course would call it being psychotic, but the difference is whether it is achieved through conscious discipline, or unconscious internal conflict. Thus the aspect I mentioned earlier preparing in a disciplined way to see multiple layers of meaning in waking reality. So how can we define prophesy?
Prophecy is insight into the play of spiritual forces within and behind what transpires, and insight into things that will transpire on account of that play of spiritual forces; likewise, it is insight into souls, the spiritual forces moving with them, and their tikkune -healing. – Tau Malachi
Say we have a dream and what we saw in the dream comes true. What is it actually saying? If we look at the dream expectation theory, it will look like this; we have been observing certain patterns at play in life, and subconsciously or unconsciously we have come to a conclusion that certain events will transpire as result of the interaction of those patterns at play. If we do nothing to change those patterns the event will occur and the dream will be considered as precognitive. You can look at certain patterns at play in your life and make predictions as to where it will lead. However, most of us are not aware of all the patterns playing out in our lives, so the clearer your conscious understanding of what patterns and forces shape your life and those elements around you, the greater your ability to predict future events. As most of us are only conscious of about 10 – 15 percent of all that shapes our lives, it is no small wonder that life seems so utterly chaotic and unpredictable, with us at the mercy of fate. This in itself should be an urgent incentive for us to take note of our dreams as in reality each dream we have is precognitive if we observe closely what it says of the patterns at play in our lives of which we are unaware.
This reflects the very nature of the spiritual life – consciously responding to whatever transpires in a positive, creative and uplifting way. In all things this is the choice we have and the choices we make will determine our experience and the outcome of things.
To take this further, just as I must be careful in how I re-tell my dreams, I must be careful how I view my memories of my life experiences, and past-life memories. Just as I could look at my nightmare dreams from a positive learning angle, so I can view my nightmarish experiences in life. The past is often called “dream-like” and looking into the nature of memories we find this to be true – yesterday’s experience is like last night’s dream, both now existing as memories. Whether dreams or experiences of the past, there is “prophetic” power in how we speak of them, whether for good or for ill – instead of living in reaction we want to live in conscious response, exercising our co-creative capacity to draw out the sparks of blessings from all our experiences, even from those that may seem “inauspicious” or “dark and hostile.” While we may not be able to avoid certain circumstances, situations or events, and may not be able to go back and change the past, nevertheless we can choose how we relate, think and speak of them and choose our reactions.
Dreams are one-sixtieth the power of death, and are a direct reflection of the nature of the afterlife experience. – Kabbalah
“Every morning is a fresh beginning. Every day is the world made new. “We have heard this expression often, as well as “Live today as if it were your last.” Yet, how do we apply this in practice, since most of us get carried away by the sensations of the day, and the worries, and troubles it brings. How often do we not fall into a fitful sleep, carrying all our worries, troubles, and often anger into our sleep? Then to wake up in the morning, carrying all these worries, troubles and feelings like a hangover from the previous day into the new day? Each night when we go to sleep is like dying – we die to one reality, and enter another reality, and awake each morning to a new life. This can indeed, be related to what happens when we live an unconscious, unaware life.
We begin each lifetime, carrying the hangover of the previous life into our new life.
As a child when I read “Winged Pharaoh,” one passage made a strong impression on me.
“I had a little cylinder of stone with which I smoothed the wax before I slept, preparing it for the morning, just as I must smooth all thoughts of Earth from my mind, so that it would be free to record those things I did and saw away from it.”
What one does in the evening before going to sleep is a large influence on one’s dreams. Therefore, if one seeks vision in dream or more luminous dreams directing one’s mind to spiritual and luminous things is a good practice. Although we may have been carried away during the day, it is essential that before we go to sleep, we release the energy of the day and let go of the world as you prepare to go into the dream-time. Thus we clear the mind and bring resolution to the issues of one’s day – clearing oneself of all links formed (especially those that are negative). Reading spiritually uplifting scriptures and especially meditation before sleep is a very good practice to establish yourself in.
In tandem with this, when you awake the next day, whether your dreams were dark or luminous, you have the opportunity, to interpret your dreams as guides to establish what your focus should be. But what is more, just as you would decide what garments to wear for the day, you can decide how you want to clothe that which you call “I”. Will you “dress” yourself as a victim of fate, or as the co-creator you were born to be?
The idea that dreams are “less real” than waking consciousness is a serious misconception according to the Kabbalah. In truth, this world is akin to a collective dream, versus our apparently individual dreams, and both are equally “real” in their own dimension and context. According to the Zohar, consciously working with our dreams we can bring about positive and powerful changes in our lives in the waking consciousness and be better prepared for a conscious transition through the experience we call “death.”
Your body has arisen from living cells that are as old as life on this planet. Your body, mind, emotions and imagination are the screen upon which ancient life can project its wisdom and experience. What arises from the ocean of mind within you depends on who you are, what you are, what you need (not necessarily what you want) and what you seek. Although, the possibility to see reality as it is may seem too lofty an aspiration to entertain, only for the advanced masters, unless we open our minds and hearts to the greater possibilities of being human, we cannot become conscious of them and realize them. In a manner of speaking, we create the neuro-nets in our brains and the channel-ways in our soul or consciousness by talking about such mysteries that might allow us to enter into this mystical experience. It’s a matter of skillful means opening the way.
You already have all the tools at your disposal, all you need to do is become aware of them, and learn how to use them. You can use language just to swear and curse, or just to express your basic desires, or you can use it to bring love, wisdom, and beauty into the world. You have the tools for transcendence at your disposal; it is your choice to take the next step in awareness.
16th-century woodcut by the Bettmann Archive “Man Looking into Outer Space
Somewhere in our distant past, one of our ancestors, or more likely a few at the same time, became aware. I feel… I?… Who, what am I? Since then, this question has set us on a search for an answer. But like a mirage appearing to the thirsty in the desert we seem to never be able to touch it. Like a rainbow that appears in the tears of our life, our insight to ourselves at times appear in its full glory. If only you can get to the end of the rainbow you can find the pot of gold. Then one day you realise that the pot of gold is the rainbow. Just the splendour of its beauty refreshes my being, make me feel alive. Does it matter who I am?
What is important is that I am and that I live my life as consciously as I can. I take pleasure in the myriad rainbow of colour, scents, tastes, sounds and touch that is living life. I have been given the gift of life, a flame so precious that where ever I find it I gasp in renewed awe for the miracle of it. That flame of life that resides in me, the now flickering, now dancing, now blazing flame that constitutes me, that flame burns equally in all things living. And where are the boundaries of my flame? Where are the boundaries of the living heat I emanate? Then I wonder is there any separation between my life flame and that of all other flames of life? Am I just a flame sparking brightly in an ocean of fire? Could I be the sun of another universe?
Life is the most basic component of what constitutes I. What I will be without it I speculate all I want but until I can be fully conscious all the time, I will never really know. Until then I will always have to question whether I am the dreamer or the dream. Just like Alice asked in the land through the looking glass, I have to ask how can I be a dream when I know I am. I can feel joy and pain. I can decide to do something, so I must be the dreamer and not the dream. But how many of the decision I make do I truly make out of my own will?
When you begin to realise how many subconscious factors influence your present decisions, you really begin to wonder how much in control you are of your life, your dream. How can you be in control of your life if you don’t know what you think you are, what influences that which you think you are? It is after all that which you think you are that makes the decisions in your life and so determine your future self. I thought I knew who and what I am.
After so many years of intensely exploring all the aspects of what I thought I was, I thought I knew, but I was lost in the myth of that which I thought I was. From a young age we create a myth about ourselves. We fashion this myth from our early experiences of our interaction with the world around us. For the rest of our lives, unless we ask ourselves what is my personal myth we live our life according to our personal myth. If we do not like the way the story of our myth is unfolding we have to change our motivational myth, but first we must uncover just what our personal myth is.
How do we then find the origins and the mystery of our personal myth? The hero must enter the dark caverns of the underworld, look beyond the masking myth of which we think we are. In the hidden shadows of our being, that part of ourselves that we hide so carefully from others, there lies the Grail cup of our healing. “The theme of the Grail Romance is that the land, the country, the whole territory of concern has been laid waste. It is called a wasteland. And what is the nature of the wasteland? It is a land where everybody is living an inauthentic life, doing as other people do, doing as you’re told, with no courage for your own life. That is the wasteland … The Grail becomes the – what can we call it? – That which is attained and realised by people who have lived their own lives. The Grail represents the fulfilment of the highest spiritual potentialities of the human consciousness.” Joseph Campbell – The Power of Myth
Why is it so hard for us to be the confident Hero of our lives? Because we belief we are the mask we project but at the same time we know that the disowned part of ourselves is alive and well, and will someday break through the prison of our mask, exposing that which we have disowned. We fear that, that hidden part of ourselves is a hideous monster and by exposing it to the light the ugliness of ourselves will be revealed and we will be shunned by those around us, those whose love and whose approval we seek. But this is just an illusion we created; we are like the ugly old hag that turns into the most beautiful woman when we kiss her with acceptance, even in her ugliness.
Physical beauty without inner beauty is like a rose without a scent. Intelligence without wisdom, a form without purpose. Just so the beauty of ourselves will not blossom in sweet scent unless nurtured and rooted in the richly composted soil of our shadows. John Carroll in his book “the/ western/ dreaming” Describes soul love, “A hallmark of soul-mate love is that any enquiry about who you are, what you have done or where you have been is entirely superfluous. It is the I am in another, hardly needing to speak, but to acknowledge with gratitude and awe: I am known. Someone walks beside me. Then each to each on their journey of journeys, they may repeat: Courage. I am. Don’t fear!”
Just so it is with self-love from which flows all other love and life.
In exploring the unknown you will get lost if your intent is not clear. Think of it like you would about a wish, as they say, “be careful what you wish for.”
“There is no act in the universe that is superior to the act of believing, and there is no power that is greater than intent. In truth they are but the two sides of the same coin, and what binds them together is emotion … If, on the other hand, a man has a belief which is charged with emotion, he will go to extraordinary lengths to uphold and defend that belief. Should such a man consider that a particular belief to be essential to his continued wellbeing, then he will choose to die rather than relinquish his belief…However, since the apprentice is not planning to die, but instead to escape the confines of his view of the world, he does the only thing which is possible for him to do – he chooses to believe that it is possible to escape. Since such an escape is the only thing that matters to the apprentice, his decision becomes charged with emotion. It is through this emotion that he first of all manages to activate his intent, and then ultimately to set upon escaping…” – Theun Mares
Intent seeks to unite the unknown with the known. The unknown expresses the purpose of awareness through intent.
To perform effective ‘magic’ three necessities must be present; the need, the emotion, and the knowledge. To help attract, arouse and direct. Magic really just means to materialise something from the unknown. This I found can be applied to any earthly concerns. Need can be replaced with the word ‘intent’ because it directs the awareness (the focus) as well as the activity. The way not to make focus into a hard labour is to use it as if you are looking forward to something special, something pleasurable about to happen. Then your focus is immediately there. Focus brings into awareness what you choose to experience. A decision making, assertive communication. This automatically makes your awareness selective, to fulfil the intent. Energy goes where attention goes.
Children learn to walk, talk and interact with the world by following their intent, which is in turn born out of following the scent of their pleasure, hunger. So for me intent can also be seen as an internal hunger.
Rudolf Steiner likened destiny to a hunger: “The human being, when he is born, hungers to do what he does, and he does not give up until he satisfies this hunger.”
When we feel a physical hunger, it dominates our choices. When we long for the fulfilment of sexual desire, an appeasement of hunger, there can be no denial of our orientation. Real spiritual desire is a raw as these. We are born with a hunger of some kind that needs fulfilment. It is this hunger that steers our destiny.
The hunger becomes the ‘intent’ because it directs the awareness (the focus) as well as the activity. Focus brings into awareness what you choose to experience. Which automatically makes your awareness selective, to fulfil the intent.
I often used to lament that we are not born with a personal manual to guide our unfolding self. Since then I have realised that we are indeed born with a personal manual. Clues for keys to our unfolding is already present within us before we are even born. With our first breath of life, our intent for our unfolding starts to drive us. Just as the dormant seed awakens and start to push its way through the soil, through cracks, around rock and stones. Clues to our individual paths reveals itself through our intent.
Don’t you know,” asked the Sage, “that important secrets must be hidden under an apparently trivial aspect?” Her-Bak
Nothing is as it seems. The more you learn about why we really make decisions, the more you realize what a complex web we are. There are so many aspects that influences our being in the world, how we live our lives. Yet so little do we know until we decide to live an authentic life.
To live an authentic life is much easier said than done. Layer by layer you have to uncover your true self. Uncover the webs of deception, of illusions that we have created to live in this world, and most of all to find the little Faustian pacts we have made with ourselves in order to avoid facing our fears. One of our most fundamental fears is that of change, because it represents the dark unknown. In reality we would rather live in pain and suffering than change. We fear change, but even more we fear the period of chaos that always precedes change. Yet to achieve self-actualization, our highest potential, to find the Holy Grail, we have to change. It is part of our growth process, part of our uncovering. We have to enter the dark unknown of ourselves to truly live.
I have not made any entries for a long time. I find myself in a time of transition When you find yourself in such a state of transition, you have to allow yourself to experience the chaos of transition before you can turn your energy towards the next stage of your life.
For me such times feels as if I have to let go go of all my present expectations. Throw it all into the blackhole of the future possibilities, and wait upon that which abides to settle around the attractor (the intent) of the next phase. That which remains is that which I still have attachment to, and is the basis of my next phase of growth and learning. We see some of this process in our dreaming. That which are most central to our lives at that point, carries through from our “awakened” state into our other reality. This is also what is said happens in the transition from life through death.
“When the end of a Period arrives, one must know how to abandon that which sets its characteristic boundaries, so as to give free access to the Light of the new Period; one must know and hand over to destruction that which is corrupt, so that only what is indestructible should subsist.” Her-Bak
I know I am not alone, in this experience of transition. I look up from my inner contemplations and every where I look I see the chaos of transition. Every part of our lives are in a state of transition, all that we took for granted has been shown not to be what we thought it is. Even our Mother environment, nature have changed from an image of abundance, purity, and a sacred manifestation of the Divine laws, to an image of scarcity, pollution and degraded into a commercial venture. That which once seemed inexhaustible suddenly is at the brink of extinction. An image that comes to my mind is the scene of Jeshua in the temple chasing out the money lenders. This has happened in every sphere of our lives. Nothing is sacred anymore, everything has become something with a money value attached to it. We have forgotten the sacred meaning of why we value things. Perhaps we have reached this state to remember what we really value.
From a spiritual perspective nothing that is, is a without reason. When we speak of transcending or transmuting something, it means that we see the sacredness in something. The way of transformation is seeing the dual aspects of any energy, even though it at first appears as negative. The Way of Truth is realizing the spark of Light in everything.
It is much like the re-telling of dreams. Think about the relationship between dreams and physical life experiences, and how awareness in one affects the other. Night mares strikes us with such intensity that we have to take notice, we can interpret it as a dooms prediction, wallow in the horror of it, or we can see the opportunity to see the real issue, a guiding light for the future instead of a black pall on our future.
We as human beings are driven in this world by 3 basic aspects, whether we know it or not. These aspects are; desire, reason and Thymos. Thymos basically is that something that is in every human that desires acceptance, or recognition from others from which stems our self-esteem, or self-worth. Francis Fukuyama in his book ”The End of History and the Last Man”, goes into the desire for recognition in depth and how it operates almost in an invisible way throughout our history, in economic, political and personal spheres.
“It all refers to man’s need to place value on things – himself in the first instance, but on other people, actions, or things around him as well. It is the part of the personality which is the fundamental source of the emotions of pride, anger, and shame, and is not reducible to desire, on one hand, or reason on the other. The desire for recognition is the most specifically political part of the human personality because it is what drives men to want to assert themselves over other men, and thereby into Kant’s condition of “asocial sociability”… Thymos is something like an innate human sense of justice; people believe that they have a certain worth, and when other people act as though they are worth less – when they do not recognize their worth at its correct value – then they become angry. The intimate relationship between self-evaluation and anger can be seen in the English word synonymous with anger, “ indignation.” “Dignity” refers to a person’s sense of self-worth; “in-dignation” arises when something happens to offend that sense of worth. Conversely, when other people see that we are not living up to our own sense of self-esteem, we feel shame; and when we are evaluated justly (i.e., in proportion to our true worth), we feel pride…
That the feeling of dignity or self-worth that is at the root of of thymos is related to man’s view that he is in some way a moral agent capable of real choice , … this self-perception is innate to or a characteristic of all human beings, whether they are great and proud conquerors or humble… Thymos provides an all-powerful emotional support to the process of valuing and evaluating, and allows human beings to overcome their most powerful natural instincts for the sake of what they believe is right or just. People evaluate and assign worth to themselves in the first instance, and feel indignation on their own behalf. But they are also capable of assigning worth to other people, and feeling anger on behalf of others … The desire for recognition arising out of Thymos is a deeply paradoxical phenomena because the later is the psychological seat of justice and selflessness while at the same time being closely related to selfishness… “
The subtle workings of Thymos is best understood looking at the classic example of the story of the greengrocer written by Vaclav Havel in his essay “The Power of the Powerless.”
The manager of a fruit and vegetable shop places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: “Workers of the World, Unite!” Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of unity among the workers of the world? Is his enthusiasm so great that he feels an irrepressible impulse to acquaint the public with his ideals? Has he really given more than a moment’s thought to how such a unification might occur and what it would mean? …
Obviously, the greengrocer is indifferent to the semantic content of the slogan on exhibit; he does not put the slogan in this window from any personal desire to acquaint the public with the ideal it expresses. This, of course, does not mean that his action has no motive or significance at all, or that the slogan communicates nothing to anyone. The slogan is really a sign, and as such it contains a subliminal but very definite message. Verbally, it might be expressed this way: “I, the greengrocer XY, live here and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon an am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace.” This message, of course, has an addressee: it is directed above, to the greengrocer’s superior, and at the same time it is a shield that protects the greengrocer from potential informers. The slogan’s real meaning, therefore, is rooted firmly in the greengrocer’s existence. It reflects his vital interests. But what are those vital interests?
Let us take note: if the greengrocer had been instructed to display the slogan, “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient,” he would not be nearly as indifferent to its semantics, even though the statement would reflect the truth. The greengrocer would be embarrassed and ashamed to put such an unequivocal statement of his own degradation in the shop window, and quite naturally so, for he is a human being and thus has a sense of his own dignity. To overcome this complication, his expression of loyalty must take the form of a sign which, at least on its textual surface, indicates a level of disinterested conviction. It must allow the greengrocer to say, “What’s wrong with the workers of the world uniting?” Thus the sign helps the greengrocer to conceal from himself the low foundations of his obedience, at the same time concealing the low foundations of his power. It hides them behind the facade of something high. And that something is ideology.
From Havel’s depiction one can clearly see the Faustian pacts we make with ourselves subliminally to keep in tact our sense of self-worth. Francis Fukuyama comments further;
… in communist Czechoslovakia everyone understood that one was forced to do things one didn’t want to do out of fear. Fear itself, the instinct for self-preservation, is a natural instinct universally shared by all men: Why, then not admit that one is a human being and therefore afraid? The reason, ultimately, has to do with the fact that the greengrocer believes he has a certain worth. That worth is related to his belief that he is something more than a fearful and needy animal who can be manipulated by his fears and needs. He believes, even if he cannot articulate this belief, that he is a moral agent who is capable of choice, who can resist his natural needs for the sake of principle.
Interestingly in the Esoteric teachings of ancient Egypt the word principle refers to the Divine energies, or what is exoterically known as gods. Plato calls Thymos – spiritedness. So although within Thymos originates our material system of placing a value on everything, and has led to our degrading of everything sacred, within it, is also paradoxically contained the germ of our spiritual impulse. Let me lead you further down the path of my thought.
Fukuyama further elucidates …” There is a thymotic aspect to many other activities that are normally seen as instances of natural desire. For example, sexual conquest is usually not just a matter of physical gratification – one does not always need a partner for that – but reflects in addition the need to have one’s desirability “recognized” by the other… the deepest forms of erotic love involve a longing for the lover’s recognition of something more than one’s physical characteristics, a longing for what amounts to a recognition of one’s worth.”
It is clear how integral the understanding of Thymos is in our living an authentic life. It is also clear how easy it is for us to delude ourselves as to what our true intentions are, if we are not honest to ourselves about our fears.
” … for if I am afraid of not being liked or being rejected, or I fear persecution, can I be myself and speak truth to stand in my power – can I stand as a righteous warrior? It seems that I will only find myself sorely compromised when such fear is present, and likely bound to deception.” Tau Malachi
Fukuyame also concludes however, ‘ The decline of community life suggests that in the future, we risk becoming secure and self-absorbed last men, devoid of thymotic striving for higher goals in our pursuit of private comforts. But the opposite danger exist as well, namely, that we will return to being first men engaged in bloody and pointless prestige battles, only this time with modern weapons … How long megalothymia will be satisfied with metaphorical wars and symbolic victories (in the business world) is an open question. One suspects that some people will not be satisfied until they prove themselves by that very act that constituted their humanness at the beginning of history: they will want to risk their lives in a violent battle, and thereby prove beyond any shadow of a doubt to themselves and to their fellows that they are free. They will deliberately seek discomfort and sacrifice, because the pain will be the only way they have of proving definitely that they can think well of themselves, and remain human beings.”
These possible outcomes seems to me however, the result of a striving that is devoid of any spiritual content. We recognize deep inside ourselves that we will only feel our worth when we face our fears, yet on the other hand we strive to avoid our fear. When I look at this paradox, what comes to my mind is that paradox only exist in the reasoning mind, in the natural state, it just is. So here lies for me the root of illusion. We strive for recognition from “the other” in our belief of our separateness, yet we know spiritually that we are one. We also exchange energies and talents with one another based on the worth we place on those energies and talents. This too comes from the belief that we are separate and different from each other. I can exchange with you my energy in order for both of us to gain something we think we do not have.
The Biblical story of the Tower of Babel comes to mind.
“The whole earth was of one language and of common purpose. And it came to pass when they migrated from the east they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another. ‘Come let us make bricks and burn them in fire.’ And the brick served them as stone and the lime served them as mortar. And they said. ‘Come let us build a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed across the whole earth. And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, ‘Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”Genesis 11:1-9
As one, with common purpose there is nothing that we can imagine that we cannot do. What prevents us from achieving our higher potential is firstly a belief that we are separate, that we are divided and not of common purpose. We have forgotten that all the people is one, and of one speech, that is common purpose, just because we cannot understand the “others”. Just as the outer world reflects the conflicts resulting from not being able to understand the other, just so the same applies to our inner struggle, and the struggle between masculine and feminine. What according to the story of Babel brought about this state of affairs, if you look deeper? They were already one, so why fear becoming scattered? Was this just an excuse for the real reason – to make a name for themselves? To find their self-worth, the rising of the desire for recognition – Thymos?
It seems to me that Thymos is both the seat for developing our individual conscious awareness and that of forgetting our true purpose, and our oneness. How is it possible for us to resolve this paradox so that we do not destroy ourselves in the process and become “last men” ?
I will give a very simple example of how I resolved it in my practical living. Whenever I pick a flower, a herb, a fruit from a tree, or even pull a weed from the earth, I give my thanks and blessings and something in exchange for the gift. In the beginning I used to give a gift of shards of gemstones. This brought me awareness and gratefulness for all of life. As time went on, I started to make another kind of exchange; my energy. I normally inhale the scent of the plant and that evokes in me the feeling of the spirit of the plant that puts me in intimate communion with the plant’s spirit. Only when I feel I made the connection do I ask for pickings and give my gratitude and blessings, at the same time I let my own energy blend with the plant’s energy. What this practice has done for me is brought an awareness of the plant life around me. I cannot see the plant as a lower life form than mine for I have been in intimate communion. Yes the plant’s energy is different to mine, and I have more free will but I do not see myself as superior. In fact through my knowing the plant intimately, I can see that in many ways I am inferior. At the same time I realize, know the oneness of all, and I see no need to prove myself worthy.
What is it that enables me to enter into intimate communion with something different to me, the other? Love of course. In the beginning I struggled to make the connection because I used my will and reasoning mind to try and connect, but unless you feel the connection, you have not. In my mingling I gained more than I set out to gain, e.g a flower, or a fruit. I felt the oneness of all, and realized that in reality I am never alone. All that separates me from the others, is my lack of awareness, withholding my life/love in the confines of my body. In reaching out to the other with your love, boundaries disappear. Who is the other from which I seek recognition, I seek to value, but myself.
I searched for my enemy
and found myself
I searched for myself
and found the Beloved.
In the Ancient Egyptian system there were 3 ways of higher living, or ascended living. Love, knowledge, and action.
Love means the expansion of one self from a limited selfish self to universal self that give without any expectations of taking back or having.
Knowledge means to unite oneself with the object, concept or idea one requires to understand. Knowledge means unity. You have to live day or night with an object, concept or idea to understand it, get closer to it, and get in tune. Within it is contained the concept of being.
Action is the execution of will. The will itself is a movement towards a specific goal.
These three ways of living are all intertwined together. Love works hand in hand with action and knowledge. The three are inseparable. If you love something you want to get closer to get more knowledge of it, which is an action.
Could we not say then that at the basis of our desire for recognition is a hidden source, that of love, within which is reflected the Oroboros? We seek for our worth through another but through our intimate communion with another, through the agent of love, we find our true worth. In fact we find that we never had to prove our worth at all. You can see the desire for wanting something as the other, a yearning for the Beloved. By getting, or rather by uniting with the other, you will receive that which you do not have. This is at present the basis of all of our exchanges in life. However, this is where the Divine Trickster comes in, because in gaining that which you desire, you might still find yourself lacking, and if you blame it on the lack of the other, you will miss the opportunity in seeing the real truth.
Do we love our whole self, in all of its contradictions, blindspots and filters of conditioning? It is by knowing our true worth, that we discover that self-love opens and empowers our capacity to honestly love others, and it is also through love that we discover our true worth and thus self-love. Love is also esoterically, the desire-energy – the Serpent power. To liberate the desire-energy from the dualism of subject/object relationship, thus seeing through the illusion of separateness, is to learn that love is fulfilling in itself, with or without any external expression.
“Your soul becomes what you most love.”
Insight is the awareness that the external world is but a mirror. Whatever you see therein is but a reflection of yourself.” – Baal Shem Tov
The most liberating thing that one can do for oneself is to tackle the emotion of shame and guilt within oneself. However shame and guilt are probably the most difficult of emotions to fully expose in yourself. It is the secret agent of emotions, with its secret networks and subterfuge, It moves with stealth through your personality, insidious in its characteristics and actions. It uses camouflaged tactics that effects your reactions and actions in life’s situations so subtly that you are hardly ever aware how it influences your life, and your decisions. Its origins are somewhere in the dark shadows of one’s memories. A delicate network that spans generations.
Born as a female Afrikaner Christian, I came into this world with a heavy load of guilt/shame. It took me many years to work through the many layers of guilt/shame that I had. I felt myself unworthy to be alive, yet I realised that only through my living could I make a difference. The more I uncovered the subtle networks the more it surprised me just how far back our inherited guilt and shame stretched.
Within a Christian based society, one of the first things that are impressed on our minds is that we are all sinners. As a woman it goes one added bit more, that we women were responsible for the fall of mankind. Even today women’s sexuality is still feared “as the temptress of men”. The greatest blasphemy is certainly to proclaim that you are guiltless. Some even say that, that was why Jesus was crucified, for in saying that the son of man is guiltless, he became the Son of God. It is well known that authorities use guilt to control and force people to conform to their pre-set standards.
Just what is guilt? “Nearly identical in the way they work guilt and shame generally form a single complex. The way to distinguish them is this: ” Guilt is the feeling that follows perceived wrongdoing:’I did wrong.’ Shame is the feeling that we, ourselves, are made ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ for what we did. Shame is a grief-related feeling… There are three major myths about guilt /shame that often severely limit our lives and makes us miserable. The first and biggest lie is that guilt can protect us from being punished. In fact, guilt is an unconscious ‘I owe you’ for punishment. When we feel guilty, we attract punishment from the world, and we also create it for ourselves. And here’s the kicker: We never feel as though we have been sufficiently punished… A second lie perpetuated in the name of guilt is that the feeling somehow prevents us from repeating our’ wrong’ actions. ” Hale Dwoskin – The Sedona Method
The more guilt you feel the more defensive you become because you are awaiting your due punishment. This leads to projection. ” The ultimate purpose of projection is always to get rid of guilt… If you are to retain guilt… you cannot be you… You project guilt to get rid of it, but actually merely concealing it. You do experience the guilt, but you have no idea why. ” The Course in Miracles
With projection of guilt you feel that if you are guilty then so must be others, so the deeper your feeling of guilt the more mistrustful you become, and the more you need defences. This prevents you from being yourself, for to be yourself would be to expose your guilt to the world and so must be punished. All that is hidden in the darkness will of course fester and eventually erupt into full view. It is easy to see how the defensiveness that leads from guilt and shame affects our ability to love. Firstly, we are not worthy of love in our sinfulness, so that when anyone expresses love to you, they must be worse than you. So then you would start to look for their faults which must be there, and this spells the beginning of the end for most relationships, for judgement and blaming kills the love between people. “… is it not harder for you to say ‘I love’ than ‘I hate’? You associate love with weakness and hatred with strength, and your real power seems to you as your real weakness. For you cannot control your joyous response to the call of love if you heard it, and the whole world you thought you made would vanish… Love seems then as an attack on your fortress of guilt, because you believe that magnitude lies in defiance, and that attack is grandeur. Love cannot enter where it is not welcome. But hatred can, for it enters on its own volition and cares not for yours.” The Course in Miracles
The influence of guilt and shame on our lives even affects our perception of time. “You can hold on to the past only through guilt. For guilt establishes that you will be punished for what you have done, and thus depends on one-dimensional time, proceeding from the past to future. No one who believes this can understand what ‘always’ means, and therefore guilt must deprive you of the appreciation of eternity. The future in time, is always associated with expiation, and only guilt could induce a sense of a need for expiation… By the notion of paying for the past in the future, the past becomes the determiner of the future, making them continuos without an intervening present. Thus making the future like the past… Unless you learn that past pain is an illusion, you are choosing a future of illusions and losing the many opportunities you could find for release in the present. Healing cannot be accomplished in the past. It must be accomplished in the present to release the future.” The Course in Miracles
To truly give unconditional love, you first have to look at the feelings of guilt and shame within yourself. You will have no freedom unless you do. In releasing your guilt and shame you open yourself to the flow of love.