Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

The Sacred Laws of Psyche December 18, 2012

The inner universe

The inner universe

The inner universe of the mind is, like the physical world, a living organism that functions according to natural laws.  Deciphering them has been the work of holy fools, for who can presume to understand the sacred inner workings of creation? Yet we do try to understand these autonomous patterns of energy (archetypes) in our individual minds (the psyche) and in the mystery of the One Mind beyond ordinary consciousness (the psychoid) because we feel their profound influence.

Our brains know two languages: logic and imagination. Separately, each has limits, but an individual who respects both can make brilliant inroads into these mysteries. Einstein was one such person. He said, “Logic will take you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell were others. Jung scientifically compared his inner life and that of his clients with the myths and symbols of various wisdom traditions. Campbell developed some of Jung’s themes. Their imaginative work shed much-needed light into the darkness of our contemporary collective unconscious. Following are some natural laws they midwifed into our awareness.

1. The Law of Correspondence: The outer universe is a reflection of the inner universe. This intuition gave rise to the ancient adages, “As above, so below,” and “As without, so within.” Humanity has expressed this in diverse symbol systems such as mythology, religion, tarot, alchemy, astrology and magic.

2. The Law of Synchronicity: Meaningful coincidences between our inner and outer universes occur more frequently with self-reflective practices like dreamwork and active imagination. Synchronicities are not products of “cause and effect,” but of an imaginative, heartfelt search for personal meaning which eventually produces what Jungian Monika Wikman calls, “a psychology of synchronicity instead of linearity.”

3. The Law of Opposites: For everything we know about ourselves (beliefs, values, attitudes, emotions), there is a corresponding unconscious opposite. In our psychological immaturity we see things dualistically, (in terms of either-or, good-bad), and automatically repress or disown that which our egos consider the less desirable option.

One Mind

One Mind

4. The Law of Oneness:  Beneath all apparent dualities lies a fundamental connectedness with All That Is.  We can tap into this One Mind by integrating pairs of opposites to create partnerships which see, think, and behave holistically.

5. The Law of Entropy: When opposites remain isolated from one another, any disorder within them remains constant or increases.

6. The Law of Change:  Energies in both universes are constantly circulating. Change toward stasis and polarization increases disorder and chaos. Change toward communication and integration increases movement toward perfection and completion.

7. The Law of Love: Love is the most powerful healing and unifying force in Life. It has its roots in the heart, i.e. honest feeling, not the head, or logic.

8. The Law of Choice: Our ego, the organizing center of our consciousness, can choose to serve or fight these laws, and our personal choices influence ours and the world’s welfare. For example, if we serve the Law of Love, we respect and integrate ours and others’ religions, making space in ourselves and the world for both. If we fight this law we are choosing love’s opposite, hatred.

We can cultivate our imagination or bury it. View ourselves as separate or as connected. Integrate otherness or fight it. Nurture love or hate. Trust or fear. How can our beloved country serve these sacred laws at this point in history?  How can you and I?

My heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of the innocents whose physical lives were tragically snuffed out in Newtown. Together, may we find a solution to this senseless tragedy.

My newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, can be found at this Amazon link or www.Larsonpublications.com.

 

Alchemy and the Journey of Transformation December 11, 2012

gnosis_21Whether we know it or not, you and I are on a journey of transformation. The same is true of our species. From the moment of our conception, natural forces of growth and change we could not see or control were in operation, heating, intensifying, distilling, mixing, softening, dissolving, separating and transforming fixed aspects of our cells, minds and bodies. They still are.

Scientists devote their lives to understanding the physical aspects of these forces;  psychologists, to understanding the non-physical. Yet our knowledge of them is still rudimentary. Where does that miraculous light that shines in the eyes of every human come from?  Where does it go when our bodies die?  What is this mysterious thing we call consciousness?  Why can’t science find its location anywhere in the body, especially the brain?

Rooted in the mysteries of life and death, questions like this have always haunted humanity and inspired new directions of study including the science, or art, of alchemy. We don’t know its ancient origins but we do know alchemy was practiced in pre-Common Era China and Egypt. Mother of modern-day chemistry, Alchemy searched for the formula for the Elixir of Life and the secret to transmuting base and dense metals like lead into silver and gold.

But, as A. Cockren writes in his History of Alchemy, the accounts of the lives of those who practiced it “lead us to believe that they were concerned with things spiritual rather than with things temporal. They were inspired by a vision…of man, made perfect…freed from disease and the limitations of warring faculties both mental and physical…man made truly in the image and likeness of the One Divine Mind in its Perfection, Beauty, and Harmony.”

Early in the 20th century Carl Jung incorporated the symbolic language and images of alchemical texts into modern psychology. The base metals represented the baser parts of humanity: our unrefined instincts and raw, ungovernable emotions. The operations to purify and transform them, Calcinatio, Solutio, and Coagulatio, and the stages of change they underwent, nigredo, albedo and rubedo had their counterparts in mental and emotional processes and changes. And the longed-for results, gold and silver, were earthly versions of the heavenly perfection of the opposite energies of Sol and Luna. Finally, the holy marriage (hieros gamos) between theis King and Queen created the philosopher’s stone, a symbol of humanity’s highest accomplishment: transformation into wholeness and enlightenment.

sacredmarriageAlchemy was an attempt to understand the soul’s journey through life, and alchemists were Spirit Warriors committed to personal growth and refinement in preparation for the mystery of death and beyond. We are likewise Spirit Warriors who take our inner lives seriously enough to practice dreamwork, active imagination, astrology, tarot, I Ching, shamanism and so on. All these are symbol systems which address the language, archetypal patterns, and processes of our souls.

“Good Christian” that I was in the 1970’s, I was wary of such things.  My church considered them “occult” and dangerous. As if searching to understand ourselves and grow into our potential for relationship with the divine is the work of the devil! Yet, until very recently, this is exactly what most of the “civilized” world thought, which is why witches, alchemists, gypsies and others with inner wisdom were regularly tortured by the Church.

Whether we know it or not, you and I are on a journey of transformation. The same is true of our species. To continue to fight our natural and desirable growth is a choice to fulfill this prediction by Alvin Toffler: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

My newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, can be found at this Amazon link or www.Larsonpublications.com.

 

Culture of Cynicism August 3, 2012

What is wisdom?  As a child I thought all adults were wise and my parents wiser than anyone.  In junior high school civics class I decided America’s founding fathers must have had the corner on wisdom.  During high school I equated wisdom with good grades, high I.Q.’s, and belonging to the “right” religion. In college I realized all adults weren’t wise, the founding fathers didn’t have all the answers, and good grades, membership in Mensa, and correct belief do not necessarily make for wise choices. Still, I looked to my country and religion for wisdom.

I see now that there was a serious flaw in the way I defined wisdom. I thought it was about acquiring the kind of knowledge that the majority of people agree is important. Like knowing scientific and historical facts. Understanding and memorizing scriptures. Having answers to questions on Jeopardy. Following the leads of authorities. Knowing which fork to use at a dinner party.

But does knowing facts, trusting authorities, and impressing everyone really mean we’re wise? Of course not. We all know clever, intelligent people—schools and large corporations are full of them—who we’d never think of as wise. People who are arrogant. Mean-spirited. Impatient. Greedy. Uncaring. Judgmental. Prejudiced. Predatory. Abusive. People who get off on making you feel uncomfortable and inferior. Who enjoy making you squirm. Who don’t care how you feel because they only care about satisfying their unquenchable hunger for feeling worthy, whatever the cost.

Nobody considers people like this wise. Yet if they’re socially adroit, verbally clever, or wildly successful, we still tend to look up to them! Worse, if we’re young and vulnerable we think we must trust and obey them. This is the kind of thinking that makes it possible for the Jerry Sanduskys of the world to scar countless innocents for life. The kind that influences middle management to disown its feelings and betray its conscience while corporate executives destroy the financial security of millions of innocent people.

What has brought humanity to the bizarre place where so many intelligent people tolerate someone’s ability to beat the system by lying, cheating, and doing whatever it takes to win—as long as that person is articulate, attractive, and successful? Why do the media ignore the pain and desperation of those who lack economic stability and social privilege? Why do so many suffer in silence until someone with passion speaks out and turns the tide of public opinion against their oppressors? What brings about a societal mindset that influences a malcontent to retaliate against injustice by killing innocent people who just want to enjoy a night at the movies?

In a world where ignorance, callousness and cruelty are electronically absorbed by the collective soul every moment of every day, we’ve grown so numbed by images of psychological immaturity and social injustice that we’ve become a culture of cynicism. The collective believes it’s foolish to feel or care. It finds perky appearances and clever repartee’ more appealing than character and tender feeling. It considers itself wise in believing that safety lies in hardening the heart and putting Number One first. It assumes compassion is a fatal flaw.

But the individual who listens to the spirit of the deep knows that cynicism is a mask we wear to cover our soul’s devastation at being scorned by the spirit of the times. The collective mind has forgotten how to feel, but the soul remembers. It knows that whenever two people push past just thinking about compassion and actually feel it, the whole hard crust of the earth cracks open and healing new life thrusts through.

 

What Is God? March 23, 2012

How can human beings possibly know the nature of God?  We can’t, of course. Yet ever since our species realized we were alive and part of a vast living Mystery, we’ve been trying. And whether we’re religious or not, most of us have some ideas about this Mystery.  It seems to me we look at God from three major perspectives.

Objective Facts: Using mathematics and tools like X-rays, electrocardiograms, telescopes and microscopes, Science looks for factual information about the mysterious origins, forces, and laws of physical life.

Abstract Theories: Religion interprets the Mystery of life in words, theories, symbols, scriptures, and stories about enlightened spirit persons whose wisdom, compassion, and passion for social justice bring healing and hope.

Personal Truths: Psychology encourages us to explore the mysterious workings of our hearts and minds for insights that bring awe, compassion, and self-knowledge, and to express our experience of the Sacred in creative ways that reflect our individuality.

Until very recently these three perspectives were sharply separated. Scientific investigations took place in laboratories, religious ones in places of worship, and psychological ones in consulting rooms, art studios, and asylums. Moreover, since the invention of alphabets, the viewpoints of religions have predominately shaped humanity’s God-images.

But all this is changing. The universal access to information that technology brings is closing the gaps, and our differing perspectives no longer totally  separate us from ourselves, each other, or God.  In fact, they are  merging into a deeper, more unifying vision. This is deeply disturbing to those who prefer separation to connection, simplicity to paradox, and certitude to dialogue.

However, people who seek truth and understanding above all else find it refreshing and inspiring. Why? Because the newest insights and discoveries from science, religion and psychology confirm the same intuition that spirit persons from every place and time have always shared: that a primary characteristic of the sacred Mystery is Unity in Multiplicity.

Consider the myriad forms of life on our planet. Each has a separate reality of its own yet all live together in one giant, inter-connected home. Look at the variety of religions that have sprung up over the millennia. Despite cultural differences they all speak the same language of love, compassion, tolerance, and the sanctity of life. Look at different individuals. No two are exactly alike, yet we all share the same matter, physiological systems, instinctual drives, and archetypal inheritance. And all our parts work together to help our bodies and species thrive.

Three perspectives; one Mystery. A Holy Trinity as it were. Unity in Multiplicity.

I can think of nothing more sacred than the miracle of life. Without it there would be no science, religion, or psychology. No miracles, healing, or compassion. No people with ideas about God. No God. If the nature of God is expressed in Unity in Multiplicity and we are each living, breathing participants in that Unity, then we are in God and God is in us. I wonder how things would be different if more of us shared this image of God.

 

The Power of Choice April 16, 2011

In this blog I use the framework of Jungian psychology to express my philosophy about life which can be summarized in four words: “Think psychologically; live spiritually.” Because Jung’s discoveries have been so meaningful to me, I’ve hoped to help others make sense of their lives by sharing what I’ve learned.

In my experience, most people drawn to Jungian psychology tend to be curious, progressive, open-minded thinkers who enjoy exploring old ideas and staying in touch with the newest theories in many fields other than psychology. Some of the most common in this mixed bag are quantum physics, astrophysics, astronomy, astrology, anthropology, archaeology, architecture, alchemy, literature, film, religion, mysticism, mythology, philosophy, brain research, dream research, gender relationships and women’s studies. Their goal in familiarizing themselves with such a broad range of knowledge is to gain a better understanding of the reasons for human thought and behavior in the hope of improving the health and wholeness of themselves, their clients, and all humankind.

A field currently yielding some of the most exciting developments is brain functioning, and in particular, the phenomenon of neuroplasticity. MedicineNet.com provides this definition of neuroplasticity: “The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.”

Of most interest to me is the fact that a leading advocate of research in this field is the Dalai Lama who has encouraged Buddhist monks to become “guinea pigs” for scientists wishing to learn if there is a correlation between intentional mind-training techniques like meditation, and physical changes in the brain. The results of this unprecedented collaboration between science and religion point to the startling conclusion that we can change our lives by changing our brains.

The implications are mind-blowing. Until recently, mainstream science has been skeptical of reports that a regular program of meditation creates more compassion, peace, and well-being. But today a growing number of scientists take some of the traditional claims of psychology and religion very seriously indeed.

For example, Dr. Rudolph Tanzi of the Harvard Medical School says we are more than our brains and bodies, which are merely the instruments of an intangible “real self.” If this real self, (what Jung would call the Self), is not in charge of our intellect and emotions — i.e. if our egos do not listen to our thoughts and monitor our emotions and follow our intuition and make conscious, original and caring choices — we are their servant! But with regular mind-training practices such as meditation and dream work we can change our brains and transform ourselves from slaves to masters of our lives!

For more information check out this video of a conversation between Deepak Chopra and Dr. Tanzi. Meanwhile, consider this:  Our mind has unimaginable potential;  our ego is a small, but crucial element of that potential. Small, because its sphere of consciousness is like a grain of sand on the shore of a cosmic ocean of consciousness;  crucial because that tiny grain has the life-changing power of choice. If our lives feel narrow and fulfilling it is because we, our ego selves, have not chosen to do what it takes to enlarge and enrich them. Why?  Ignorance, complacency, laziness, fear of censure, retribution, failure or the unknown…you name it. But regardless of the reason, we can still choose to change our brains and our lives if we truly want to.

 

The Re-Union of Mind and Matter March 8, 2011

The concept of the Kundalini serpent’s transforming evolutionary energy is based on the experiences of countless Spirit Warriors from many religious traditions including Taoism, Hinduism, Sufism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Hermeticism. Although its existence has not been confirmed to the satisfaction of mainstream Western science, (nor has the existence of God, for that matter), it is nonetheless a useful explanation for many otherwise unexplainable and seemingly unrelated phenomena: for example, the effectiveness of acupuncture, the unusual experiences and abilities of some spirit persons, and even the “missing link” that separates primitive hominids from today’s Homo Sapiens.

The intuitive understanding is that evolution in consciousness and spirituality is not solely the result of mental striving, but of cooperative interactions between mental and physical energies. The Kundalini life force, a combination of both, moves through seven chakras (the number varies in different traditions) or invisible focal points in the body which are connected by channels. The invisibility of these entities does not disprove their existence: think of electromagnetic radiation such as radio waves, microwaves, X-rays and gamma rays.

Each chakra represents the confluence of a specific mode of physical and psychological energy. The three lower ones — Earth, Sexual, and Power — govern the basic needs for survival, procreation and will. The upper four — Heart, Communication, Intuition, and Crown — influence more advanced psychological and spiritual activity. The Crown is our connection to sacred Unified Consciousness, and the Heart is the centerpoint, or bridge, which connects and integrates the upper and lower chakras by means of empathy, understanding and compassion.

I’m no expert in these matters but I’ve read that in the majority of people the lower chakras are activated first and the Crown and Heart Chakras are usually the last to be completed. However, in extremely cerebral and spiritually oriented people, it is possible for the upper chakras to be awakened before the lower ones. In either case, no one gets from zero to one hundred in an instant! Evolutionary growth is a slow process, not a quick-fix product.

Thus, someone with a partial Kundalini awakening can acquire great compassion and intuition and still experience difficulty with intimate relationships because of unhealed issues concerning family of origin, sexuality, or power. Another could be a brilliant communicator but out of touch with physical realities like nurturing the body or monitoring what energizes the body and what depletes it.

The point is not literal belief in Kundalini energy and the chakras, but whether or not these symbols give spiritual meaning to personal experience and promote soul-making. Although this is what religions are supposed to do, there came a time when my religion no longer did this for me. But experiencing the reality that “masculine” mind and spirit have no priority over “feminine” physical sensation and emotion was a major breakthrough that got me growing again.

By reuniting our minds and bodies, Serpent Mother returns us to the magical childhood mystery of living in the here and now, but with an important difference.  This time we know the place for the first time and experience appreciation and gratitude for what Jungian analyst Marion Woodman calls “the eroticization of all of life.”

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon link and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Coconut Sailboats October 9, 2010

Three comments after my last post about forgetting a recurring dream inspired this one. George wondered if a dream that addresses our waking thoughts and wishes is an authentic original response or just programming from the ego. William said he often wonders where memories go when we don’t remember them. And Ram0singhal shared his belief that trusting the natural flow of your dreams brings God to your side in the form of creativity.

All three responses are based on the assumption of an underlying Mystery beyond the realm of normal awareness. The only things I know about the Mystery come from personal experiences that have filled me with awe, wonder, meaning, appreciation, gratitude and compassion. But there are theories that add a few pieces to the puzzle I am trying to assemble. I’ll discuss two of them here: one from quantum physics, and the other from Jungian psychology. Although neither uses the language of any one religion, both affirm the underlying truths of every religion because when we talk about the Mystery, we’re talking about God.

Physicist David Bohm theorized about three orders of the universe. The explicate order perceived by our senses is like a sailboat floating on the sea. The implicate order is like everything beneath the boat we can’t see, but which gives rise to and supports everything in the explicate order in the same way that all forms of life originated in the sea. The super-implicate order is like a benevolent Poseidon who lives in a royal chamber beneath the sea and determines how the sea’s energized particles of potential will manifest in the world above.

Carl Jung’s corollary to Bohm’s theory emphasizes three orders of mental functioning. Bohm’s explicate order corresponds to Jung’s conscious self: the me in the sailboat. Beneath that is my personal unconscious, a sea of energy filled with my forgotten memories (as William’s sea contains his), instinctual needs, disowned emotions, untapped interests and skills, and so on. Like the particles floating in Bohm’s implicate-order sea, anything in the personal unconscious can be brought to the surface at any moment. Sort of like a coconut that falls from an island palm, floats around awhile, then turns up beside my boat.

At the bottom of the sea is the entrance to the royal chamber Jung called the collective unconscious. Sitting on its throne is the Self which, like Earth’s core, underlies everything, connects us to everything, and determines what to bring into our conscious world. Bohm called this the super-implicate order. Another name in current use is One Mind. Whatever we call it, it is a melting pot containing every individual mind with every thought, form of energy, or creative idea that ever was or will be. We gain access to this underground cave of creativity via the Self…our trusted sacred center which speaks to us, as Ram0singal notes, in dreams!

So my answer to you, George, is that you are loved by the Mystery beneath the sea and every one of your dreams comes from there. Dream Mother knows you intimately because she always sees you sailing around up above. Since she wants only the best for you, she uses material from all three levels to create the exact dreams you need every night. You might enjoy some of them that pop up — especially the ones about sailing trips — much more than others, but you can trust that all of them are in your best interest and contribute to your creativity. Speaking of creativity, maybe you should start adding sailboats to your coconut art?

You can find Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon link and at Larson Publications, Inc.

 

 

 
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