Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

What Is Enlightenment? January 10, 2017

mahavira_enlightenmentWhy am I here? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Am I doing it? How can I know? Will I ever know? Is there an underlying pattern to it all?

These are some of the Big questions that philosophers, Spirit Persons, and ordinary seekers are compelled to ask and answer. Some rely solely on intellectual methods: following teachers, reading, studying, getting degrees, writing books. Some seek answers in traditional religions and ‘religious’ practices. Some experiment with various forms of self-reflection aimed at self-discovery, self-knowledge and consciousness. Some try combinations of these plus alternative practices like body work, mind-altering drugs and artistic pursuits.

As I noted in my last post, our hunger for answers to these questions is motivated by the ‘transcendent function,’ a form of archetypal energy we all inherit just by being human. As a reminder, here’s Jung’s definition:

The cooperation of conscious reasoning with the data of the unconscious is called the ‘transcendent function’…. This function progressively unites the opposites. Psychotherapy makes use of it to heal neurotic dissociations, but this function had already served as the basis of Hermetic philosophy for seventeen centuries. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, par. 1554.

In other words, even though we think of enlightenment as a strictly spiritual pursuit, it also has psychological (mental/ emotional/intellectual) components. Further, I would argue that it has physical components. In fact, I have come to believe that enlightenment is not solely a function of any one aspect of human nature, but of the whole package.

Buddhism expresses this idea through four “Aims” or goals of human life. As I see it, each goal is met within a particular domain of human functioning. Each domain is fueled by a physical instinct and represented by a masculine and feminine archetype. These stand at either end of the pole of energy in which that instinct specializes.

To be fully functioning spirit persons, we need to awaken, activate, and heal our fullest potential—masculine and feminine—in each of these four areas. ~Jean Raffa, Healing the Sacred Divide, p. 203.

Here’s my summary of these relationships:

(1) The aim of Lawful Order and Moral Virtue takes place in The Social Domain. Our social lives receive energy from our physical Instinct for Nurturance.  Psychologically, this instinct is symbolized by the King and Queen archetypes, our inner authority figures who govern our social behavior for the benefit of all.

(2) We accomplish our aim for Power and success in The Physical Domain. This goal is primarily accomplished through our Instinct for Activity. We cannot just think or will our way to success. Our bodies have to be engaged in studied, committed, goal-oriented and self-disciplined practices. For me, the Warrior and Mother archetypes represent the opposite poles of physical energy available to us in pursuit of our goals in the material world.

(3) Release from Delusion:  The Mental Domain. Our search for truth and enlightenment relies on our cognitive functioning, or intellect, which matures as we consciously activate our Instinct for Reflection and its archetypal representatives, the Scholar/Magician and Wisewoman.

(4) Love and pleasure:  The Emotional Domain.  To find emotional satisfaction in life, we need to activate our Instinct for Sex and its psychological equivalents, the Lover and Beloved archetypes. This does not necessarily require our participation in physical sex, but the aspect of our libido which specializes in this kind of energy does need to be activated. In other words, we need to experience passion, and being loved and loving in return.

Since Jung believed we have five instincts, and in keeping with his insight that the transcendent function progressively unites the opposites, I respectfully offer a fifth domain which is equally essential to enlightenment.

(5)  Perfection and Completion: The Spiritual Domain.  In my experience, spiritual growth is fueled primarily by our Instinct for Creativity: our capacity to imagine and find meaning in the inner forces which influence our journeys through life. Our creativity is symbolized by the Couple archetype, or Self, which gradually manifests in every area of our lives via the transcendent function.

I see the Couple as integrating the other four archetype pairs in a sacred marriage of fully individuated and fully related opposites.  This union activates the creative instinct and brings us into the spiritual domain and Epoch III integrated consciousness. ~Raffa, HSD, p. 203.

british_museum_room_1_enlightenmentAs you can see, the search for enlightenment cannot be compartmentalized into one domain, but requires cooperation between every part of us in every domain in which we function. I stress this point to dispel the common misconception that putting all our spiritual eggs into one basket—traditional religious participation and belief—is the only way to attain enlightenment. This obsession with using only intellect and emotion to connect with a loving God not only dismisses the sacredness of the physical body, but it ignores the fact that our actual words and behaviors can be decidedly unspiritual. Moreover, it can lead to a dangerous split between mind and body, spirit and soul.

In conclusion I would like to note that despite all the thought and energy I’ve given to the pursuit of enlightenment, I cannot say for certain what it is. As I wrote in response to a comment after last week’s post:

“I wish I knew what enlightenment is. If it’s a conscious, consistent, ongoing process of trying to understand, individuate, love, realize our true selves, and appreciate the miracle of our lives, then, perhaps all of us who do this kind of work could be considered such. I mean, we know we’re part of a process, and we’re consciously involved in it. But if enlightenment is not a process, but an end-product, then I know I’m not “there.” I keep re-hashing old stuff and coming up with new stuff to process, so in this definition, I’m only as ‘enlightened’ as my thoughts, behavior, and motivations are in this very moment!” ~Jean Raffa

Image Credits: Enlightenment: Wikimedia Commons.  

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Which Masculine Archetypes Are Strongest In You? November 17, 2015

Fascinated by the inner forces that influence human attitudes and behavior, I’ve spent years trying to understand archetypes. Nobody can describe them with any certainty because they are deeply unconscious. However, there are many theories based on research and careful observation of human nature.

My perspective is based on Jungian psychology.  Like Jung, I think of the archetype of the Self—our core, circumference and God-image—as an alchemical blend of so-called “masculine” Spirit (animus) and “feminine” Soul (anima). Obviously, Spirit and Soul have nothing to do with gender; everyone contains both. However, using “masculine” and “feminine” to describe these foundational forces of every psyche can be helpful.  As metaphors, they help us understand differing and often conflicting forces in ourselves and others. But when, in our ignorance, we assign them to the genders and reject the qualities of our opposite, we repress our fullest potential and obstruct our growth.

I’ve found it helpful to think of four main feminine archetypes as Queen, Mother, Wisewoman and Beloved. These serve our drive for  species-preservation and relationship/wholeness. The masculine King, Warrior, Magician/Scholar and Lover serve our drive for self-preservation and individuation. Since the masculine archetypes are more familiar to most of us, I’ll begin with them and discuss the feminine next time.

It is by no means necessary that we all agree with any one way of imagining our instinctual energies. Indeed, the fact that I’ve found it useful to organize them into mental categories simply reflects my masculine penchant for clear, logical distinctions. I could just have easily focused on experiencing them in my body, nature, relationships, needs and emotions. But I was educated with the left-brained academic bias which has dominated Western culture for thousands of years. This does not in any way violate or diminish the power of feminine energy. It simply blinds us to it.  Which is why I believe that clarifying the differences that divide us is a necessary step to integrating them.

I also want to note that while everyone is furnished with the same basic patterns of psychic energy, how we and our culture see, activate and manifest them differs.  Moreover, each archetype changes as our egos mature through three phases of self-awareness and self-knowledge.

In the first phase we see our King as a cultural Father figure, protector, and preserver of law and virtue who leads us with clear thinking and hierarchical order. The Old King is authoritarian and tradition-bound; questioning his law is taboo. But if we keep growing, he becomes a restless, searching, ego-driven Son/Prince who challenges outdated standards and risks breaking old rules. In turn, the Prince can become a mature and wise masculine sovereign of the psyche who, like England’s Queen Elizabeth I or the legendary King Arthur, actively promotes tolerance, healing change, order, virtue and justice in himself and society.

Our unreflective Warrior is focused on perfecting the body and the world. He proves himself and acquires power and success by influencing others with aggressive, impressive behavior while having little real concern for their feelings. In the Son phase he begins to question his motives, methods and values and struggles to channel his dynamic manifesting activity into work that provides a satisfying outlet for his true talents and ideals. In his final phase he is like Merida, the warrior princess in Disney’s animated film Brave, a Samurai Warrior, or a Star Wars Jedi master who channels his expertise, self-discipline, courage, and moral maturity into activities that heal the broken, protect the vulnerable, defend human rights, and preserve every form of life.

The unreflective Magician/Scholar seeks release from delusion by processing information with focused consciousness and logical thinking. He prefers the objective to the subjective and the known to the unknown and keeps the two sharply separated. In his Son phase he questions tribal wisdom and pursues unorthodox and occasionally original ideas and ways of thinking. The mature Magician/Scholar is a creative, reflective Wise Old Man like Hermes, Avatar’s Dr. Grace Augustine, or Professor Dumbledore whose “magical” knowledge, acceptance, and integration of the visible and invisible forces of life makes him an effective thought leader who can transcend boundaries between people and worlds.

Finally, the Lover is the idealistic and passionate dynamic principle in relationships. In his unreflective phase he seeks emotional release and physical love and pleasure with little compassion or moral responsibility. As Son he treats his Beloved with less selfishness and moodiness and more responsiveness to her differing feelings and needs. The mature Lover is a playful, romantic, aesthetically aware and psychologically balanced lover of life. Like Dionysus, poets Sappho and Lord Byron, or William Blake he appreciates the beauty, worth and inspiration of femininity and honors it in himself and his partners.

The negative poles of the masculine archetypes can be as contemptible as the positive are commendable. The shadow side of the masculine drive for self-preservation abuses and destroys otherness. Whether in a male or female, an unconscious King is a morally rigid, biased, rule-oriented and uncaring tyrant; a Warrior is an abusive invader and wanton destroyer; the Magician/Scholar is a cleverly manipulative, duplicitous, and critical know-it-all; and the Lover, a perverted, hedonistic addict.  But when all four are fully developed and partnered with equally mature feminine archetypes, the result is a profoundly powerful, uniquely creative, psychologically whole and spiritually enlightened being.

Next time I’ll address the basic feminine archetypes.  Meanwhile, if you’re in the mood for a little inner work you might reflect on which of your masculine archetypes are more fully developed and which could use some growing.

Jean Raffa’s “The Bridge to Wholeness” and “Dream Theatres of the Soul” are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. “Healing the Sacred Divide” can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.

 

My Animus is Afraid to Trust My Instincts June 30, 2015

puppy-pic2Two nights before my keynote speech to the 2015 International Association for the Study of Dreams I had this dream.

#4,642: My Animus is Afraid to Trust My Instincts:  Old friends have visited us for two days. I’ve just realized they left their dog alone at home. I’m worried about this. Will it have enough food?  I say to the husband, “Won’t it poop and pee all over the house?” He says with a shrug, “Maybe. We’ll see.” I can’t believe he’s so casual about this. It feels wrong.

We drive to their house in another town and go inside. As we approach the sliding glass door to the backyard, he points out little piles of poop that make a trail to the open door. I see their dog sticking its cute brown and white head out from some green undergrowth at back of the cement patio. It moves into the open looking wobbly and weak, as if it’s about to drop.

I go to it, sit on the ground, and pet it. It wags its tail happily and climbs into my lap, growing excited and playful. Another little black dog who looks like Peri [our son’s dog as a child] runs to me, jumps all over me, licks me, and wiggles around in my arms. The husband is watching us from the stoop of the open door. With an ironic smile he looks pointedly at his brown and white dog and says, “I’m afraid of you.” He turns away as if he’s lost interest.

My associations:  I associate the husband with the part of my animus that identifies with the Scholar archetype.  In waking life this man is an intelligent, creative former college professor. The dogs represent my animal, instinctual self, especially my instincts for nurturance and activity. My dream ego enjoys and trusts my instincts, but my animus neglects them and admits he’s afraid of his dog. Why?

The key to understanding this dream is the context. Anxiety about my upcoming speech had dominated my waking hours for over a month. The previous day, an artist friend who used to attend my classes at the Jung Center called and asked if I was ready. When I told her about my concerns she said, as other friends had been saying, “Relax.  You’re going to be great. You always are. Just trust your instincts.”

Bingo! My animus was afraid to trust my instincts. As a college professor, my instincts were of no importance. Nothing but an abstract concept. What was important was task-oriented, single-minded attention to texts written by outer authorities. We (my animus and ego) saw this as the only way to comprehend and express the course material clearly and correctly. This was how a good teacher prepared to teach.

When I quit teaching and began writing over 25 years ago, this habit persisted. By then my reading, studying and writing were focused on Jungian psychology and understanding my dreams.  But as I persisted in this inner work, something changed. I began to rely more on my dreams and instincts and less on outer authorities to guide the direction of my thinking and writing.

Following some inner compass I didn’t know I had, I spent mornings listening to my anima—my creative, feminine, instinctual self—by meditating and working on my dreams. When a dream image, emotion or theme felt unusually fascinating, I’d spend the afternoon—time reserved for my animus to manifest my anima’s creativity—incorporating it into my current manuscript. In respecting the needs of my feminine and masculine sides I was unknowingly activating the Self, the central authority of my psyche, and learning to trust it.

This transformation awakened my passion and creativity and informed my books. Dream Theatres of the Soul:  Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dream Work is the book on which my speech for the IASD was based. I knew this material. It had come from listening to my feminine instincts. Yet, in preparing for my speech I’d neglected Her in favor of His traditional, single-minded, outer-referential ego-mode.  And like the puppies in my dream, She was starved for attention, nurturance, and love.

Understanding this inner reality had a magical, mystical impact. With no mental effort other than a 30 minute meditation/ritual during which I thanked Dream Mother for this dream and reassured my animus that he could relax now, my concerns simply fell away.  For the next several days I was wrapped in a cocoon of calm and trust. Never have I been more relaxed before or after a presentation.

Yes, after 25 years of inner work, my animus’s fear of my instincts occasionally still floods me with anxiety, but so far this tension has served me well. Tolerating the interaction between the different perspectives of my masculine and feminine sides has not only insured my survival and thriving, but created and birthed self-knowledge, consciousness, and spiritual meaning.

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Confessions of a Right-Brained Writer June 9, 2015

Speaking at the 2015 IASD conference about Dream Theatres of the Soul. Don't you love my

Speaking at the 2015 IASD conference about Dream Theatres of the Soul. Don’t you love my “shadow” in the background?
Photo Credit: Walter Berry

“The last big speech I gave was a year ago this March.  What if I’m rusty?”

“I’m terrible at memorizing! I could forget something important.”

“I talk with my hands. People might find that annoying.”

“I don’t notice the physical world around me.  I could trip over an extension cord.”

“I don’t want to say ‘Um’ all the time. If I don’t practice, I’ll forget.”

“I’m not worried about talking to a big audience, but technology is really hard.  I need to be sure I know how to use the remote to my powerpoint presentation and when to click it.”

“I’m afraid I’ll leave out something important.”

These are just some of the responses I made to my husband when he asked why I was constantly revising, practicing, and generally fretting over my upcoming speech for the annual gathering of the International Association for the Study of Dreams.

Fred is a brilliant man with a photographic memory.  As a forensic economist, he can read through a 100-page file over breakfast and testify about it in a trial or deposition two hours later without forgetting one detail.

It took me a year to write my dissertation. I needed hours of uninterrupted solitude, usually at night when Fred and the kids were asleep. Even then, selecting and pulling together relevant thoughts from among the myriad impressions flooding my mind, not to mention writing them down in a logical, clear, and organized way, was a constant struggle.  The next night I spent half my writing time omitting or revising whole sections of what I wrote the night before. Initially it was hard, but by the end of that year I realized I’d never had so much fun in my life.  By then, the revising was as much fun as the creating.

In the early years of our marriage I thought there must be something wrong with him; like maybe he was lazy, or a procrastinator, or had ADD. I mean, how could he possibly be ready to defend his dissertation in a month when he’d only written fifteen pages and was constantly distracted?  Later on, I realized 20 minutes at a time was all he needed to do something it took me hours to do.  Then I thought there must be something wrong with me.

The truth is in between.  There’s nothing wrong with either of us.  We just have different ways of thinking about, processing and expressing information. His way is considered far superior to mine in our Western, academically oriented culture.  And for many years, I bought into that perspective.

Yet we were both excellent students, which tells me we each had access to both ways. Just as he can think in ways that present difficulties for me, I can think in ways that are difficult for him. My subjective perspective is associated with sensitive, receptive, reflective and inner-directed artists, advisors, sages and Queens. His objective way is associated with with tough, logical, assertive outer-directed scientists, warriors, and Kings. Is one better than the other?  Of course not!

Dinner with Fred and sister dreamer Justina Lasley the night before my speech in Virginia Beach.

Dinner with Fred and sister dreamer Justina Lasley the night before my speech in Virginia Beach.

That couldn’t have been more clear at last weekend’s IASD conference.  Fred took care of our travel arrangements and got us to the hotel easily and efficiently. When I walked out of our hotel room and turned the wrong way, he guided me in the right direction.

He found things I misplaced in our room, remembered what time breakfast was served, where the next presentation was, and when it would start.  I had to have a schedule with me at all times. He took pictures of special times with friends when I forgot to bring or use my cell phone.

Having him with me turned what could have been a frustrating ordeal into a joyous experience. Yet, he usually only sees the trees when my ability to see the forest is more helpful. And I often sense underlying currents in situations that need to be addressed when he doesn’t have a clue.

All this is to say that my presentation is over and I couldn’t be more thrilled with it. And I can’t help but compare my new pleasure and confidence in myself with earlier times when I believed his way of being was superior to mine. My months of writing and revising and practicing, plus receiving support, suggestions and assurance from friends who cared, was of infinite value.  It eased my concerns, gave me confidence, and turned what could have been an average presentation into one that received a standing ovation and more compliments than I can count.

And here’s the biggest plus:  After 51 years of marriage (as of June 15), Fred and I have more understanding, respect, and gratitude for each other than ever before—a true partnership in which we have each learned to value the differences in ourselves and each other.

Thank you, Fred, and thank you to all of you who helped and supported me. I couldn’t have done it without you.

A video of my speech will be available in a few weeks.  I’ll tell you when and where as soon as I know.  Meanwhile, here’s a recent Skype interview of me about Healing the Sacred Divide that was coincidentally published just this weekend. I hope you enjoy it.  https://youtu.be/rEvrJGknFWw

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Understanding Archetypes October 30, 2012

After my last post, a reader asked me some questions about the Lover and Beloved archetypes.  Before I answer them I want to remind you that the whole concept of archetypes was only introduced to the West about 90 years ago and for everything we think we understand about them, there’s much more we don’t.  Here’s what I think right now.

Q:  “What is the difference between the Beloved and the true self?  Is the Beloved the true self?”

A:   As I wrote in my new book, the term Beloved connotes many different things. In your physical life it can mean the person you love above all others and with whom you enjoy sexual intimacy. Psychologically the Beloved is the beautiful, soulful, feeling, emotional, magnetic feminine aspects of our true selves that attract and inspire our masculine ego/Lover to undertake the search for love, pleasure and union. In Christianity it often refers to Jesus, or the Church, the body of Christ which is God’s beloved. Beloved can also be an encompassing term for the soul, or for all the feminine archetypes making up the feminine side of the Self, or it can mean the Self itself: our spiritual essence, the sacred Other with whom we wish to unite,  our true self, the Christ within, and so on.

Q:  “Is the Lover the one loving and the Beloved the one loved?”

A:  Essentially, yes. The Lover is the part of us that pursues love and pleasure,  (physical, and spiritual), and the Beloved is the part that receives, accepts and deserves love and pleasure.

Q:  “If our Beloved is unawakened, or not loved by our Lover, is that why the Beloved carries around all the unacknowledged feelings?”

A:   Either or both can be unawakened, which means that we will have trouble feeling and/or accepting the positive emotions of love and pleasure and will tend to look for them in the wrong places.  Until our Lover is awakened—which usually occurs when we have traumatic conflicts or experiences that compel us to acknowledge and work with our honest feelings—he will not have the passion to search for love and awaken our Beloved’s positive and tender feelings. Until he does, she will still be asleep, carrying all our unacknowledged feelings in our unconscious, and we will not have access to them.

Q:  “I thought the Shadow carried the unacknowledged feelings.”

A:  Our Shadow does include the unacknowledged feelings of the Lover and Beloved,  but it also contains unacknowledged qualities other than emotions. Some are mental, like the dogmatic Scholar’s calcified, childlike, one-sided ideas, opinions and attitudes and the immature Wisewoman’s tendency to be too gullible, receptive and permissive;  others are a combination of social, mental and behavioral, like the shadow King’s dominating, authoritarian manner.

Many who are fascinated with the psyche have tried to draw clear boundaries around the archetypes. I’ve worked for years to devise a framework that could help me understand myself, and I’m passing on what’s been useful; however, nobody knows for sure how closely our descriptions fit reality. In truth, it’s not possible to fully understand. Archetypes are unconscious patterns that we only become aware of when we project them onto Gods and Goddesses and portray in myths. The most fruitful thing we can do is observe how their energies move in us, then express them in imaginative ways. If naming them helps, good. But if writing, painting or dancing them helps more, even better! Theories can guide, but only personal experiences can heal.

Something to think about:  What does your Halloween costume this year say about your archetypal energy?  Happy Halloween!

You can purchase Healing the Sacred Divide at Amazon and www.larsonpublications.com.

 

Partnership Between the Scholar and Wisewoman October 19, 2012

In my last post I wrote about the Warrior and Mother archetypes. This time we’ll look at the Scholar and Wisewoman. The instinct for reflection is about the basic human “end” to be released from delusion.  There is something in all of us that wants to know and understand. Children want to see, feel, touch, taste, and smell everything.  As we grow older, if our curiosity is not stifled by too many rules and inhibitions, we want to understand why and how things work. Later still our curiosity about the world extends to the inner universe.  We just naturally feel good about ourselves when we acquire helpful new insights into our behavior because self-knowledge is its own fine reward.

The instinct for reflection is symbolized by the archetypes of Scholar and Wisewoman. The clear, piercing focus of the Scholar is motivated by the drive for self-preservation. He believes the key to our survival and self-fulfillment is the ability to reflect on life, study, acquire knowledge, and learn the secrets that will release us from our delusions. In the mandorla symbol of interlocked circles, our Scholar is the circle representing the left hemisphere of the brain, the logos that primarily processes information with focused consciousness and logical thinking by means of linear, rational, verbal thoughts and ideas. With his preference for clear discrimination and knowledge of objective phenomena, the Scholar’s specialty is the thinking of science and technology.

His archetypal partner, the part of us motivated by the drive for species-preservation, is the Wisewoman, our all-knowing mistress of the hidden arts.  Her specialties are the brain’s poorly understood right-hemisphere qualities of mythos.  The primary functions of mythos are diffuse awareness and analogical thinking. These spawn several ways of knowing: body awareness, spiritual awareness (knowledge of, and connection with, the Other), the ability to synthesize paradoxical messages from diverse sources, and the ability to create meaning from subjective experience, emotions, relationships,  intuition, gnosis, imagination, and symbols.

When the Scholar’s focus, clarity and objectivity are intentionally employed in service to exploring our unconscious depths, the Wisewoman’s intuitive connectedness, self-awareness and openness to otherness are unearthed and activated. Empowering both of these poles of the instinct for reflection strengthens our mindfulness and leads to expanding consciousness. This is a mental state of heightened awareness and receptivity to information coming to us from both the exterior and interior worlds.  Being open to both is the hallmark of partnership in the mental domain. The result of this inner marriage is the activation of the Sage archetype. Other names for this energy include mage, magician, philosopher, prophet/ess, sorcerer/ess, shaman, wizard, medicine woman/man, and wise old woman/man.

This form of archetypal energy can be identified by several specific skills. They include truth-seeker, mental juggler, light-bearer, lifelong learner, wall-wrecker (breaking through our resistance to otherness), chain-breaker (losing old habits and releasing attachments to outcomes), choice-maker, namer (of truth and reality), clown (or life-changing trickster), connector, and problem-solver.

Archetypal psychologist Carol S. Pearson says Sages have little or no need to control or change the world; they just want to understand it.  The Sage’s path is the journey to find out the truth—about ourselves, our world, and the universe.  At its highest levels, it is not simply about finding knowledge, but about becoming wise.  It is our Sage within who, like Wisdom People from every tradition in every age, resonates to the adages, “Know thyself,” “To thine own self be true,” and “That ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

The more free you feel to seek the truth, regardless of societal consequences, the more mature your Sage will be.  How badly do you want to know the truth? How powerful is your Sage?

Find Healing the Sacred Divide at www.amazon.com and http://www.larsonpublications.com

 

Circle of Dreamers July 27, 2012

Sometimes my responses to your comments are so packed with new information that I wish I’d saved them for another blog post so readers who don’t subscribe to my comments won’t miss them. This happened when I stayed up very late the other night to reply to Therese’s comments about the dream in my last post, A Solitary Dance. So I’ve decided to share my reply here instead.  She wrote as if this were her dream and these were her symbols, which is how the members of my dream groups respond to each others’ dreams. I’ve writtten this in the form of a dialogue because I want you to see the value of working on your dreams with another person or group.

Therese:  I just want to mention that I was curious about the difference between the feeling in the dream (“comforting, I wonder, I am impressed… grateful…”)  and the emotional pain evoked reflecting and associating while conscious (bone-deep, abiding pain…burden, responsibility, lonely, misunderstandings, critical, bored, solitary.”)

Me: Great insight! I hadn’t noticed the stark contrast between the feelings of my dreaming and waking selves!  A waking life event had left me feeling hurt and misunderstood the day before I had this dream, and when I wrote it down the next day the same feelings arose again.  The fact that my dream ego feels sorry for the gray man’s pain is a hint that I’m feeling sorry for myself (the gray man symbolizes the Scholar/Writer aspect of my animus); however my dream ego also feels curious,  grateful, and comforted by the presence of these inner characters in whom she places complete trust.

This is an example of how dreams compensate for waking life attitudes by presenting other perspectives. This dream was reminding me that beneath my temporary emotional reactions to day-to-day events there is a rock-bottom layer of unswerving support, comfort and trust. This is Dream Mother’s way of pointing me to a healing alternative:  I can choose to release my self-pity and move back into that place of gratitude and trust.

Therese: The setting of my living room seems significant, as does the gray robed man’s extreme stiffness.  Pain has been associated with his condition.  What else could this stiffness and pain be a symptom (symbol) for, in me?

Me: Yes, the living room setting suggests this was where I was living (psychologically) when I had the dream. And you’ve triggered the insight that the gray man’s stiffness speaks to a mental attitude I had adopted toward someone who had caused me distress.

Therese: And the pulling from his robes of a long pen, which he seemingly uses as a brace/reinforcement.  Could it also be an instrument to draw our attention (point) to an area of malaise, kidneys perhaps? something serving the function of filtering? or do I need to stretch? my backbone? structural support?  (Wow, I’ve just noticed MY lower back has begun to ache…)  My dream ego “feels sorry for” while my blonde animus feels “compassion and understanding.”  You dream an understanding of, “He knows.”  What is it that “he knows”?

Me: You’re so good at noticing dream references to the physical body. This rarely occurs to me. I do get lower back pain and stiffness in my neck and shoulders sometimes. My chiropractor says they’re the result of a misalignment of the atlas, the top bone of the spine, which he corrects with gentle pressure on a spot behind my ear.  I wish it were as easy to correct my stiff-necked attitudes!  No kidney problems I know of, but the idea of strengthening my psychological filters resonates. And yes, I sit way too long at my computer and should get up and stretch more often. My dream ego feels sorry for the gray man just as my waking ego sometimes feels sorry for myself. The blonde man knows how the gray man feels without having to ask. He’s deeply intuitive because he’s suffered himself and knows how it looks and feels. This knowing is where his compassion comes from.

Therese: At the end of your associations you mention “he and I are not alone.”  What is it to be “not alone?”

Me: Two things: In the big picture I’m not alone because there’s a rapidly expanding mass of people, including yourself, Therese, whose search for self-knowledge is changing their ideas about religion as it connects them with the “kingdom of God” within. I’m also not alone as an individual because I have the company of a cast of inner archetypal characters I’ve met in my dreams whose energies are very real and present to me. Spending time with them in dreamwork,  active imagination and writing feels like coming home. So when I’m lost in anxiety, sorrow, or loneliness, recognizing these feelings reminds me who they’re coming from and takes me back “home.”

If Therese hadn’t responded to my dream with her associations I would have missed many of its nuances. Thank you, Therese, for carrying this dream around with you all day! Your comments have made me dig deeper and provided promising new areas for exploration.  And now to sleep, perchance to dream!

Photograph: Circle of Dreamers (Olmec Room, Mexico City National Anthropological Museum)

You can purchase my new book and see my video interview at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

 
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