Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Why Go Into the Arts? January 28, 2014

Teen-aged Jeanie (in Sailor Hat) with Uke at Church Camp

Teen-aged Jeanie (in Sailor Hat) with Uke at Church Camp

When the night has come and the land is dark,  

and the moon is the only light we’ll see,

no I won’t be afraid, oh I won’t be afraid,

just as long as you stand, stand by me.”

My eyes close and I take a deep breath as I near the chorus.  I know this part by heart.  By the final chorus I’m rocking my shoulders and tapping my toes.

“Whenever you’re in trouble won’t you stand by me, oh stand by me, oh stand now, oh stand, stand by me.”

I practice it a few more times, then move on to Jimmy Reed’s, “You Got Me Runnin’.”  Then “Falling Slowly” from the movie “Once.”  After that I practice a G lick, a D lick, and an A minor pentatonic scale.

My mother said that when I was three I knew the words to “Bell Bottom Trousers” and sang it to anyone willing to listen. At ten I sang “How Much is that Doggy in the Window?” (Woof, woof!) at the church camp talent show.  That fall I began piano lessons.

By 14 I’d given up the piano, but it wasn’t long before I found a more satisfactory substitute.  On the way to camp that summer a girl showed me two chords on her baritone ukulele and by the time we arrived I’d taught myself to play “In the Still of the Night” and “Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley.” From then on I played her ukulele every time I could get my hands on it.  Somehow I found the money to buy one of my own when I returned home that fall.

In college Fred learned the guitar and we played and sang folk music.  Then adulthood took over and we got serious.  Over the years we’d occasionally play for friends and the magic was back: For a few moments I was 14 again and there was nothing but the joy of making music.  The magic returned a few years ago when our friend Sam started bringing his guitar to our gatherings and encouraged us to play with him. But after a while that stopped too.  Inevitably my love for music would come up against Boris the Bore, my perfectionist bully who criticized my lack of skill until it was too painful to go on.

ukeOne day last October I took my 11-year-old twin grandsons to their weekly guitar lesson. When Jake started playing the blues, tears started falling down my cheeks.  The magic was back and this time it was accompanied by a profound longing.

“I want to take ukulele lessons!” cried Teen-aged Jeanie.

“You’re too old!  You’ll make a fool of yourself,” scoffed Boris the Bore.

“I don’t care!” Teen-aged Jeanie insisted. “I want to! It’s now or never!”

Afterwards, Teen-aged Jeanie dragged me to the teacher. “Do you teach ukulele?” she asked shyly.  I could feel my heart beating.  Boris was breathing down my neck. He couldn’t wait to tell me how ridiculous I was being.

“Sure,” the teacher said.  “Actually, I’ve just started teaching a teen-aged girl.”

“Do you have an opening for one more?”

He did.  I took my first lesson two weeks later.  I’m in my second term now, and I play every day.  By the way, “play” is the right word.  Teen-aged Jeanie and I are getting better and having a blast!  Boris got off a few shots last weekend after Sam convinced me to play “Falling Slowly” in public for the first time, but for the most part he’s been curiously silent.

Why go into the arts?  Your story will be different, but I assure you, the fundamental reasons are the same for every heart and soul:

Go into the arts.  I’m not kidding.  The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable.  Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.  Sing in the shower.  Dance to the radio.  Tell stories.  Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem.  Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward.  You will have created something.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Here are a few of my favorites:   Stand By Me: Ben E. King;   Baby Why You Wanna Let Go?: Jimmy Reed;   Falling Slowly:  Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova.

Thanks to my old friend, Charles Ruehl, for sending me the picture of Teen-aged Jeanie at church camp. That’s him on the left.

And thanks, Sam. This one’s for you.

My books can be found at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Diesel Ebooks and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

What’s the Difference Between the Voices of Ego and Soul? January 21, 2014

egoorsoulThe search for self-knowledge requires us to discriminate between helpful and non-helpful thoughts, attitudes, feelings and emotions.  Until now,  I’ve never found simple guidelines for this practice.  Then I came across an article in the online journal, Waking Times. Rhiame’s post, “How Do I Know if it’s My Ego or Soul Talking?” is helpful to me, and I’d like to share a portion of it.

“Here are the three main characteristics that undoubtedly define ego.

Ego Speaks

“The expression ‘listen to your soul’ is often misleading. Indeed, the soul does not speak; it’s ego that speaks, and as a matter of fact, very loudly. In my search to follow my soul’s will, I often call on her for guidance, and usually, obviously, I expect an answer from her. “Unfortunately, most of the time — if not all the time — the first answer that comes is not from my soul, but from my ego. I’ll use a little story to illustrate what happens in the background of our consciousness.

“Let’s imagine that Mr. Ego and Ms. Soul live under the same roof (body), and there’s only one phone line in the house to contact either of the two. So, every time I call to reach Ms. Soul, it’s Mr. Ego who picks up the phone. He’s a control freak, a self-absorbed, noisy character that wants to be in charge of everything. He makes sure that Ms. Soul never answers the phone, and plays tricks so I won’t recognize him. He even changes his voice and his attitude to make me believe it is my soul talking. But when I learn the right tools to recognize him, I get taken in by his tricks less and less.

“The Soul does not speak. She is a voiceless character that imposes her will smoothly by setting up life situations. She is more of a doer than a talker. When she manifests her will, she usually makes me do things that may not make any sense at first glance — from an egotistic standpoint. Often it sounds illogical and scary, but it is so strong that I feel compelled to do it. An inner state of ‘knowing’ or ‘feeling right’ is created. I’d like to quote Mother who said, ‘If you ask yourself whether it’s the soul talking, then you know it’s not.’ This may clarify, if in doubt!

“Ego Wants

“Ego always wants something or doesn’t want something. He is the one who makes me say: “I want more money“, “I don’t want to be sick“, “I don’t want to live alone, I want to find a companion“, “I need to be recognized”, and on and on. By wanting or needing things, the ego is always attached to a result that is tangible.

“On the other hand, the soul does not want anything. She has no expectations and she is not attached to any outcome. The soul is only interested in the experience, the process…the emancipation of my being, and in the evolution of my consciousness towards who I really am. Any life situation I may encounter is regarded as beneficial for that purpose; indeed, for the soul, there are no positive or negative life experiences — they are all working for…realization.

… And Fast

“Ego wants fast. So each time I feel rushed to do something or to make a decision, I know it’s my ego’s impulse. Indeed, ego lives in a mortal reality where he believes that his time is limited. He is the one who wants me to do as many things as possible in a short period of time. He is the one who is afraid of missing an opportunity, and who does not want to waste time in things that do not fulfill his immediate needs.

“Whereas the soul lives in the infinite present moment and is immortal. So each time I feel rushed to do or decide something, I must stop right away and give myself time to think it over. Concretely, I must shut down my ego’s big mouth which obstructs my clarity and prevents me from perceiving my soul’s inclination. Only when my ego is silenced and put on the back seat of the car can my soul take the wheel, in other words, take the governance of my life, and lead me in the direction that will further her fusion with my body.”

As with every facet of inner growth, wanting discrimination is not enough. It takes practice; however, the results are worth it.  As Rhiame says, “…the more we practice, the faster we’ll get out of this appalling fear-based animal humanity that creates hell on earth!”

Photo Credit: dreamstime

Rhiame has been walking the personocratic path for the last 6 years. She shares her experience and integration with the world through her blog Personocratic Seeds, and e-workshops.

My books can be found at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Diesel Ebooks and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Does Belief in Jungian Psychology Influence Your Dreams? January 14, 2014

dreamtheatres2Over the Christmas holidays Brian Carlin, an internet poet friend whose blog I follow, retreated to an island where he read an e-book form of Dream Theatres of the Soul. Shortly afterwards he published a few poems he called “Dream book 1” and “Dream book 2.”

Delighted to see these poems which were apparently based on his dreams, I responded: “I love it! I’m looking forward to more dream book poetry in the new year and smiling at my ego’s self-indulgent fantasy that my book might have made some sort of contribution to it!”

He replied: “One of those occasions where fantasy IS reality, Jeanie. Your books have lead to some re-assessing of long-held assumptions about myself and my childhood, and, as I said to you before, they read like the words of a friend telling me long-forgotten but known truths. As for reading of dreams I had always read dreams in a simple, wish-fulfillment/fear kind of way. Now you open up the Jungian tool-kit for me and I begin to see them in the full kaleidoscope of mystery they hint at. A naive question for you… as you familiarize yourself with meanings of archetypes etc, do they appear more readily in your dreams? What I suppose I mean is, the more you learn, do your dreams become more Jungian in nature?”

I answered his question but immediately thought of more I wished I’d said. Here it is:

After years of studying thousands of dreams, Jung discovered five principles that have revolutionized modern psychology:

  • Your unconscious self is a very real, powerful and influential part of yourself that influences your waking behavior without your awareness.
  • Your unconscious shows you things you don’t know about yourself by way of your dreams.
  • Your unconscious communicates with a symbolic language of images, metaphors and mythic (archetypal) themes and motifs.
  • This material is about you: your Ego (center of consciousness), Persona (social mask), Shadow (disowned qualities), Animus (unconscious masculine) and Anima (unconscious feminine), and Self (religious function and God-image).
  • The self-knowledge you gain from analyzing your dreams brings you into more balance, health, and wholeness.

Your dreams do change in direct proportion to your study of Jungian psychology. But this does not mean you’re being brainwashed by a theory that may or may not be true or helpful. The fact is, everything you learn and experience is absorbed into your unconscious and some of it is reflected in your dreams.  If you watch violent films, your dreams will incorporate violent images;  if you’re into politics, your dreams will feature political themes and people:  if this material can shed some light on your inner self.

Imagine you were reading a Jungian book about archetypes yesterday and learned about the Wild Woman.  Then last night you dreamed of a strangely fascinating old gypsy woman.  This is more than coincidence. The Wild Woman must be an important factor in your psychological makeup or she wouldn’t have appeared in your dream;  and your ego’s new awareness of this symbol makes this a perfect time for the unconscious to teach you something about her. If you ask yourself what’s happening in your life right now and what your associations are to the old gypsy woman, you’ll find there’s something about her that’s like a part of you.

For example, if you liked her because she reminds you of a woman you admire, the message may be that you’re developing qualities similar to hers.  If she reminds you of a woman you don’t like, the dream could be showing you a disowned part of yourself that occasionally behaves that way. Either way, whether you are a man or a woman, the gypsy represents an aspect of your feminine side.  By acknowledging that she is part of you,  you will have a better chance of recognizing her and altering your behavior in appropriate ways the next time she shows up in your waking life.

The more attention you pay to your dreams, the more growth and healing you experience.  Creative work like recording your associations to symbols,  writing poetry, or drawing helps you communicate with the Self. The Self responds by re-using meaningful symbols and creating new ones that apply to new life situations.  In this way, your ego and Self develop a shared language. Continuing this dialogue on a regular basis is a spiritual practice that not only influences your dreams, but transforms you into a more whole being.

I welcome any other questions.

My books can be found at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Diesel Ebooks and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Psychology and Religion: Natural Enemies or Intimate Partners? January 7, 2014

dreamstime_xl_19724675In my growing up years the relationship between psychology and religion mirrored the cold war between the U.S. and Russia. Other than the fact that each was suspicious of the other, they appeared to have little in common.

But this began to change for me at the age of 17. One morning I was reading the assigned Bible verses at church camp when suddenly the door to a hidden dimension of my being burst open and a flood of feeling and meaning rushed into my awareness. Suddenly I understood words which, until then, were written in a foreign language. And they spoke directly to me!

My heart responded with stunned awe and wonder. God was real. Moreover, God knew me and was using the Bible to communicate with me!

Joseph Campbell called an experience like this “… a profoundly felt, inward knowledge of the transpersonal imperatives and quality of life…” The impact was so powerful, in fact, that I couldn’t get enough of the New Testament and read it again and again over the next several years.

 “‘Archetype’ is Jung’s word for the psychological image of a god, and when an archetype is activated, we speak of its impact as numinous. In other words, numinosity is the charge of energy in whatever we experience as divine or demonic. If you want to know what is numinous to you, consider what you find fascinating, compelling, thrilling, mysterious, horrifying, gripping, tremendous, terrifying, dreadful, or awesome. Think about the things with which you are preoccupied in spite of yourself.”   -Jungian analyst Janet O. Dallett

My experience was numinous. I can use religious language and call it a “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Psychologically I can interpret it as the activation of the Self archetype.  Or I can see it as both. Having no psychological understanding at the age of 17, I chose the former.  But it doesn’t really matter how I saw it. Either way, it happened. And it got my attention in a big way.

The religious part of the psyche is at work whenever you pay attention to something that is numinous to you, whether or not other people feel it is important.”  -Janet O. Dallett

I kept paying attention and had more numinous experiences. Each one awakened awarenesses about the spiritual dimensions of life and created lasting changes in me. I knew I was part of a vast Mystery and I was compelled to trust the stream of life-giving feeling and knowing that was my umbilical cord to the Sacred.

For a long time I dared not speak about this.  Who was I to think God indwelled me, when one of the most respected religious authorities in my church openly disparaged “humanism” and “psychology” because they were the despised “wisdom of man” as opposed to “the wisdom of God?” What was important to him was belief in the word of God as revealed to spirit persons two thousand years ago and recorded in Holy Scriptures.  What was revealed to today’s spirit persons was heretical.

But the Bible, Torah, and Koran are not God. They are symbols that point to the Mystery some of us call God, Yahweh, or Allah. As such, they can trigger life-changing numinous experiences, but only if they activate our archetypal roots—the religious part of the psyche—in ways that get our attention.  Whatever God is, it cannot change us or the world without our growing awareness!

Psychology and religion are not natural enemies, but intimate partners in the sacred dance of life.  We are not only imprinted with the Sacred, we are sacred, just as all life is sacred.

Photo credit: dreamstime

My books can be found at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Diesel Ebooks and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

 
%d bloggers like this: