Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Ruling the Inner Chamber August 19, 2014

Dreamwork has been my most rewarding and consistent spiritual practice for 25 years. You might not think of dreams as having anything to do with spirituality but they absolutely do. Carl Jung demonstrated this with exquisite beauty in his recently published The Red Book in which he recorded some of his most meaningful waking and sleeping dreams. Everything he did for the rest of his brilliant and productive life was based on the findings he recorded in that book, which represents three years of committed inner work. Ultimately, his conclusion about the value of this work was that to become who we truly are is our spiritual task and the privilege of a lifetime.

Jung is not the first person to understand this, although he was one of the first Western medical professionals to study it for himself and write about it in a way that could be comprehended and accepted by the Western scientific mind. Indeed, many Asian traditions have taught this concept for thousands of years. Consider this quote by the Hindu professor Ravi Ravindra:

“The struggle to know who I am, in truth and in spirit, is the spiritual quest. The movement in myself from the mask to the face, from the personality to the person, from the performing actor to the ruler of the inner chamber, is the spiritual journey. To live, work, and suffer on this shore in faithfulness to the whispers from the other shore is spiritual life. To keep the flame of spiritual yearning alive is to be radically open to the present and to refuse to settle for comforting religious dogma, philosophic certainties, and social sanctions.”

Contrary to popular belief, authentic spirituality is not just a function of how many souls we save or how well we know scriptures or how hard we pray or how many rules we keep or what we believe or how often we attend our place of worship or how much money we donate to the poor. Likewise, spiritual maturity is not limited to a particular religion or set of beliefs. Rather, it is a function of our ego’s willingness to further the unfolding of our capacity for full living, endless loving, and authentic being.

We’re supposed to discover our true selves and connect with the sacred Mystery within. We’re supposed to learn how to accept and love ourselves because that’s how we learn to accept and love others. Every religion has spawned mature spirit persons whose mystical experiences and intuitions taught them that God indwells the soul. This means that our spiritual growth is not just a function of searching for God outside ourselves but also of honoring the “kingdom” within. (I could just as well have said “queendom” but it wouldn’t resonate as deeply as this more familiar term for sovereignty. I wish there were a gender-neutral word for the inner chamber that is not one-sidedly masculine, but ruled by both the King and Queen archetypes. Any ideas?)

Here’s what St. Teresa of Avila had to say about this realm:

“There is a secret place. A radiant sanctuary. As real as your own kitchen. More real than that. Constructed of the purest elements. Overflowing with the ten thousand beautiful things. Worlds within worlds. Forests, rivers. Velvet coverlets thrown over featherbeds, fountains bubbling beneath a canopy of stars. Bountiful forests, universal libraries. A wine cellar offering an intoxication so sweet you will never be sober again. A clarity so complete you will never again forget.

This magnificent refuge is inside you. Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway…

No one else controls access to this perfect place. Give yourself your own unconditional permission to go there. … Believe the incredible truth that the Beloved has chosen for his dwelling place the core of your own being because that is the single most beautiful place in all of creation. Waste no time. Enter the centre of your soul.”

– Saint Teresa of Avila, “The Interior Castle”, translated by Mirabai Starr

The search for self-knowledge is a path to spiritual maturity and dreams are invaluable tools on that path because they show us unsuspected aspects of our unconscious selves. With every insight we gain, the closer we move to connecting with our sacred core, finding personal meaning, and fulfilling the purpose of our unique life.

What did you dream last night?

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.


19 Responses to “Ruling the Inner Chamber”

  1. Katalina4 Says:

    Last night dreamt of 2 men – one a playful, flirty flatterer, the other a quiet reserved observer. The more forward flirty one felt fun and got my attention at first, the play of the banter, until it was just so over the top it was ridiculous, and I awoke curious about the quiet fellow. Maybe time to start dating again…. :)

    • jeanraffa Says:

      Could be! Or it could also be that the two men are two different aspects of your animus, and while the first seems like more fun initially, the quiet, more reserved one is beginning to capture your interest…? Thanks for sharing!

      • Katalina4 Says:

        Hmmmm, the quiet observer may be ultimately a better ally if and when dating again :0
        Jean, I’m curious, do you look at all dreams as inner reflections, or do you also think some of them are predictors of possible future events a la Robert Moss?

      • jeanraffa Says:

        ” the quiet observer may be ultimately a better ally if and when dating again.” I’d be inclined to agree with you on that!!

        I always begin by looking at my dreams as showing me aspects of myself that have recently been activated by current situations in my waking life. Sometimes that’s as far as I go because I usually get some big Ahas with this approach. But I also always look at the lysis of a dream (the last image or scene or emotion) as telling me where my energy is heading regarding this situation. In that regard, every dream is a predictor of possible future occurrences. And then there are a few dreams which I just know are predictors of future events. I may have already written about one such dream and if I can find it I’ll repost it next time! Thanks so much for your comments and questions. They are helpful to me.

      • Katalina4 Says:

        Oh, my pleasure!
        Fascinating what you are saying about the “lysis of a dream”. Thanks so much for that – really insightful.

  2. Liz Hunt Says:

    Thank you for this column today. I too would like for this spiritual reference to not be gender specific. The reference to God as a male continually is an element of religion that, I think, need not carry into spirituality or the spiritual being, ourselves. I don’t know if House or Home is a better reference. This male philosophy has turned me against even the Al-Anon literature and group practice. Always searching. A seeker, I suppose.

    • jeanraffa Says:

      I know. Masculine-oriented spiritual language has always bothered me. I like the idea of our Spiritual “Home” within. Jung wrote of the “Self,” the core and circumference of our psyche in all its masculine and feminine aspects. He also called it our “Religious Function” and “God-image.” But these are not terms with which the average person is familiar and usually require some explanation. Thank you for your comment!

    • jeanraffa Says:

      It could, indeed. We could certainly speak of it as the Spiritual Realm Within. Thanks for helping me think this through. I’m just preparing to add a great quote from St. Teresa of Avila about the Inner Spiritual Realm so you might want to check out this post again in a moment.

  3. innerpathwalker Says:

    Excellent post, as usual! For me, dreams, dream work, and inner journeys are kindred sources of experience that seem to provide their own pattern of opportunities and limitations, while also resonating with and reinforcing each other. When on an inner journey once, I asked the personification of my Higher Self what to call the realm in which we interacted. I was told that it could be called the “Middle World,” because it was in the middle between my normal waking level of awareness and the astral or higher spiritual realms. As frequently happens in these situations the terminology was mined from the reservoir of my personal concepts and experiences, and anyone else using this procedure would thus have different results. But that is one possible alternative for an approach to choosing terminology. I totally agree with the problems with “kingdom,” other than using it as a side point of association, while meanwhile being engaged in the search for the non-problematic, ideal terminology for ourselves.

    • jeanraffa Says:

      Thank you for these deeply wise words. I love your term “Middle World.” and agree wholeheartedly that mining the reservoir of our own concepts and experiences is a great way to choose ideal terminology for ourselves. Middle World is one that would work for me too. Being raised within the traditional boundaries of organized religion as I was, it took many years of inner work to reach the point where I feel utterly free to replace its “orthodox” terms with ones that hold far greater meaning. That freedom has provided unimaginable relief from a huge burden of guilt. I expect many others still experience that guilt, and, frankly, one of the purposes of this blog is to try to help them find relief from it too.

  4. Dear Jeanie,

    Thank you for such a powerful post promoting inner work through dreams; I love all of the wisdom from various spiritual paths that you seemed to have weaved together effortlessly here. For they all say the same thing, at their core. The same vibrations can be felt in the Vedas as in Teresa’s “Interior Castle” for sure, and those intuitions are what I use as true guide posts.

    I have witnessed how working with my own dreams and creative expression has completely transformed my inner world, and the way I relate to my external world. There are endless reservoirs of Love just waiting to be unlocked in one’s dreams. Witnessing how you creatively shaped your life’s work around championing the Dream is such an inspiration.

    Thank you,

    • jeanraffa Says:

      Thank you, Amanda. You have no way of knowing how touched I am by your words…so I’ll tell you! Receiving this affirmation of my writing from a sister traveler and dreamer is deeply meaningful; and to know you find my life’s work inspiring is a true blessing. I’m very grateful. Jeanie

  5. Tanene Says:

    ‘God indwells the soul’ as you write Jean. So soul could be the word for which we are searching. No only is it not gender related, it is the process of consciously searching that ‘Middle World”, the ‘Interior Castle’, and the ‘Spiritual Realm’ to that unification–unite with the soul stream. As “We Are All One” then as we let go of the ego’s desires, we feel in touch with more dimensions of soul. .Glimpses, Ahas, a sense of streaming presence. As the St. Teresa quote indicates, it is like this and it is like that…yet glimpses. Words seems so much maya yet speaking/writing words brings more clarity at the same time. It is in the searching, in the seeing, experiencing, feeling in the moment. Available yet elusive at the same time?!

    • jeanraffa Says:

      Yes, this is an excellent point, Tanene. Soul would certainly work. It makes sense, too, from what I know of Jung’s writings about Spirit and Soul. The Self is the core and circumference of our psyche, composed of “masculine” Spirit and “feminine” Soul. Jung has said that Soul contains Spirit, and, by association, Spirit would also contain Soul, like the Taoist image of Yin and Yang, where each contains a portion of the other. So while Spirit is thought of as the other-worldly “masculine” part of the spiritual realm, it is also a human, physical, “ensouled” reality. Likewise, while Soul is thought of as the physical, earthy, “feminine” part of us, it is an “enspirited” reality as well. It’s not an either/or thing, but a much more complex and integrated both/and experiential Mystery that encompasses all of life, and as you say, “available yet elusive at the same time.” (I love this.) Which makes me return to “Self” as the ideal word because it encompasses both. Thanks so much for helping me work through this with your excellent comments and suggestions! I’m just going to have to work on bringing the concept of Self into our collective awareness. Warmly, Jeanie

      • Tanene Says:

        it is an ongoing journey–a puzzle to be sure. When I envison ‘Spirit’ I think of ‘the spirit of the matter’. It conjures up grace to me. If we are progressing and growing our presence/being available in the moment, not judging or trying to maneuver to get our own way, then we are in and within the process of transforming self/Self. We are seeking being Spirit as a way of being. Even when we are fumbling, we see/experience/be-coming spirit, then we avail God’s Grace. We are in His care as we are being/thinking/acting in accordance with our current capabilities–we are present to His benevolence–and are often shown our next step. [I use the masculine word for God yet I treasure the Hindu tradition of celebrating and worshipping God as Mother.] I like that the I Ching indicates that the Sage does not work from A to Z; it works in the present moment [my words] going from A to B, adjusting to current conditions, obstacles, setbacks, progressing when the timing and opening (s) are available–then move from B to C. These ‘baby steps’ we can handle even as some ‘tests’ are challenging to say the least. Grace appears to be a state when we have transferred knowledge to wisdom [we ‘get it’]; it is Grace that carries us across to the other side. Thank you for raising this discussion. Sisterly, Tanene

      • jeanraffa Says:

        What you have written here resonates deeply with me, especially the on-goingness of learning from our experiences in A to B, B to C baby steps and the resulting Grace that comes in the “Aha!” This is the opposite of my youthful expectation that ‘enlightenment’ would be a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime, peak experience that would miraculously come from a God outside of me (because I had believed the right things and been ‘good’) and that would destroy fear, doubt and confusion for all time in one magnificent stroke. After that, of course, I would live happily ever after, free of suffering and struggle!! Thus does the barely conscious ego sleepwalk through life, unaware of the boundless reservoirs of love and freedom dwelling on the other side of its blindness to the indwelling Sacred. Thank you for sharing your wisdom here, Tanene.

  6. I did not know The Red Book was recently published.Dreams are such colorful teachers for me. Fascinating post. Thank you.

    • jeanraffa Says:

      Yes, it came out around 3 years ago. Much has been written about it since then, both in books and on the internet. Thank you for letting me know you found this post fascinating.

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