Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Musings on Mortality October 21, 2014

Lamp in the Window

Lamp in the Window

My father-in-law’s funeral last weekend has me revisiting the mystery of death. Organized religions have it figured out.  Unfortunately, their explanations stopped working for me many years ago.  I often wonder if they work for anyone.  Are words and beliefs which originate outside of us really enough to erase our terror of death, or is something more needed? Something powerful and personal that arises from within.

Dad’s church service was beautiful and deeply moving. I was grateful for the opportunity to honor his life in this sacred space and it felt right and necessary to celebrate his memory with family and friends. But this time-honored tradition didn’t answer my questions about death.

Over the years I’ve wondered things like, when I die, what is the “I” that dies? Is it all of me, or just the physical part of me, or some of the mental parts too, or what? If anything lives on, what is it?  Where does it live?

Other questions are about how to deal with death while I’m still alive.  Shall I fight it or accept it? Ignore it or face it? Is there a way I can come to terms with my eventual death or the death of a loved one now? If so, what is it?

And I wonder about people who say, “Why would I want to think about death?  Isn’t it better to be happy and see the bright side of things?  What good can it possibly do to dwell on such morbid thoughts?”

I know many people feel this way, but it’s not an option for me.  I’ve consciously lived with the specter of death (I imagine it sitting just over my left shoulder) ever since life brought my naively confident ego to its knees at the age of 36. Until then I thought I was tough enough to handle anything. But when I discovered I had a shadow composed of everything my ego believed it was not, the shock was so great and the internal conflicts so painful that I began to fantasize about suicide.

That was when I realized I had a choice. I could escape my pain by killing myself, or I could choose to go on living. For me, staying alive meant tolerating some unbearable suffering for as long as it took to understand and befriend the opposing forces in me that had brought me to this point.  It meant choosing to take my needs and gifts seriously instead of allowing them to wither away under a persona of passive perfection and “good girl” conformity. And it meant assuming full responsibility for my choices without blaming anyone else. I chose life.  Having confronted death, I had nothing left to lose by confronting my inner darkness.

Ironically, in facing my fear of death, I began to lose my fear of life!  I haven’t fully conquered every fear,  but if you could magically spend one day in the head of 36-year-old Jeanie and a second day in my head today, you wouldn’t believe they were attached to the same body! (Well, not quite the same!)

I don’t know the answers to all these questions but I have some theories.  I do know that one thing that leaves the body at death is the light in our eyes.  Light is everywhere a metaphor for consciousness. I suspect my fearful ego, unexplored shadow and all my other unconscious parts may die with my body.  But years of inner work have created a new and independent entity of light that does not seem bound to physical life:  a Conscious Observer. Like a lamp shining through a window on a dark night, this part of me can see beyond the walls of self-delusion that my ego has built around my psyche.  I think this light may live on.

And where will it live?  If it is true as some quantum physicists believe that everything in the universe is connected, then perhaps it will join the light of the One Universal Conscious Mind that has been evolving since the first human realized the miracle of his/her life.

How shall I deal with death while I’m still alive?  By carrying on a dialogue with it when it whispers in my left ear, drops hints in my dreams, or shows up in waking life. And keep it up until we’re all talked out.  Then I’ll just keep on living.

Is it better to be happy and positive instead of dwelling on morbid thoughts?  There is no “better” or “worse” answer to this question.  Different souls have different paths. Some are born to fly;  some must explore the ocean depths.  The healing way is to stop worrying about whether our way is right or wrong and start facing our personal realities with courage, honesty and love.

Could there be a better way than that?

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.

 

Dream Symbols of Transition and Transformation October 25, 2011

Inner work causes gradual changes in our inner and outer lives. When an important change has occurred, the Self may send a “big” dream to let us know our work is paying off and to furnish the energy and motivation to continue. Following are some symbols we might expect to see in these dreams.

Dreams use symbols as metaphors for what’s going on in our unconscious and are rarely meant to be taken literally. For example, death is an important symbol that often depicts the end of an old outmoded aspect of our personality or phase of growth. Likewise, the birth of a baby usually symbolizes the emergence of healthy new life.

After a time of inner work we may have an important dream of transition that deals with our acceptance of our anima, or unconscious feminine side. Perhaps we befriend a woman we have previously disliked, or are attracted to an especially unusual and interesting woman. Likewise, a dream about accepting our animus, or unconscious masculine side, might feature men who initially feel threatening but become more friendly; or perhaps we are in an intimate relationship with an especially attractive man. Allowing our femininity and masculinity to merge and overlap as equal inner partners is how we empower our souls to become all they can be. It is also a major step forward in healing our relationships.

Dreams about the union between our feminine and masculine aspects often use the symbol of the wedding.  In his book The Kingdom Within, Jungian analyst John A. Sanford says the most auspicious wedding dream is one in which the dream ego is not too directly involved. When the ego plays the role of the bride or groom, it suggests an “inflated” ego that’s a bit self-important and full of itself.  What matters most is that we be invited to attend the wedding. This suggests our ego is heeding the call of the Self to witness the sacred joining of our inner opposites without taking credit for this miraculous gift.

Other symbols of transformation include the moon (which is transformed each month from a tiny, silver sliver into a full, glowing orb), bears (which have always held sacred meaning because of their hibernation, or death, each winter and their apparent rebirth each spring), and snakes (which shed their old skins, or old lives, and grow new ones). These symbols are archetypal; that is, the meaning attached to them is so universally accepted that we know they come from the collective unconscious. They are also associated with the Self, which is ultimately responsible for our inner transformations.

A dream about an initiation, a dramatic change in direction, a visit to a spectacular garden beneath the ocean, or a dynamic nuclear reaction at the earth’s core also probably signifies that some important life-changing transformation has occurred deep within our unconscious world. While the exact nature of the change my not be immediately apparent, dreams like this fill us with hope and bring special meaning to our lives. It is enough to know that our inner work is paying off in an especially potent way.

Note: This post is an adaptation of a section about “big” dreams from my book, Dream Theatres of the Soul. Since I wrote it, other symbols have appeared in my dreams to suggest important life changes. Do you have any to contribute to this list?

 

 
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