Archive for January 2013
It’s a gray day here in Puerto Morelos, my last full day in this location. Tomorrow I will be on the road to Belize. I may (or may not) get around to putting up a post between now and tomorrow evening. But then again, it isn’t that I have to put up posts, it is all about whether given time and opportunity, that I find the motivation to write and have something perhaps worthy of being written. I did get to meditate at the edge of the pier this morning though there was no observable sunrise. The wind had dropped to a very cool breeze on my back making sure I stayed present rather than falling asleep. Since I have been meditating at the edge of the pier, it would mean that I would get wet should I fall asleep and roll off the end of the pier. I don’t worry about it because I do know how to swim.
There was no walking along the beach this morning. Rather, the time was spent making sure that all is in readiness for tomorrow’s travels. Now, it is raining and walking has been delayed to later this afternoon, even if it means wearing a rain jacket or using an umbrella. I do need to make it into town and get a bit more money from an ATM and perhaps a few pieces of fruit for the long bus ride south. Then, it will be a walk back to our little casita where we will play some cards, read a book, surf the Internet and somehow pass the hours as we transition from here to there.
“Everything, everything, seems to ride on this thing called love. We love nature, we make love, we fall into and out of it, we pursue love and ask it to save us. Romantic love, by which we mean that élan, that heightened ardor, that intense yearning for the Beloved, that frantic grappling, that profound sorrow when the Beloved is lost, that anxious uncertainty about the fixity of the Other – all this and more is both the greatest source of energy and the chief narcotic of our time . . . one may even suggest that romantic love has replaced institutional religion as the greatest motive power and influence in our lives.” [Hollis, The Eden Project, pp 42-43]
I met this woman more than forty years ago. It was love at first sight for both of us, the classical tale of Romantic Love between two strangers who cross each other’s life paths not even searching for love. Whatever plans and dreams that had been in placed disappeared as all of our energy shifted, all of our individual histories vanished as if by magic. Hollis has it right, for both of us, Romantic Love was our ticket of escape from childhood and youth woundings. We looked to Romantic Love to save us from our own histories, to open a doorway into a Garden of Eden where love is everything, and love would last rever.
Unlike the tragic stories of Tristan and Isolde/Iseult, or Romeo and Juliet, My love and I survived our unconscious submission and submersion into Romantic Love. Like all who fall in love and get married, there was (and remains) an implicit contract that this love must last and stay as the foundation of the marriage. The differences that brought us together, a magnetic attraction of opposites, and not just opposites in terms of gender, were not seen. Each of us was caught in private projections which kept the real person hidden beneath a veil.
“Many marriages simply evolve beyond the implicit terms of the invisible contract. Whatever complexes or programmed ideas of self and Other may have inspired the marriage, the psyche has moved to another place. It is not so much that people fall out of love, but that the original controlling ideas have waned in favor of others – or the complex has decided that the Other cannot meet the expectations of the original agenda.” [Hollis, p. 44]
So this is the answer which perhaps explains why more than forty years later – the psyche has stayed in the same place for both of us. In spite of being different in just about everything that can be compared, we still meet each other’s expectations of Other. That and the fact that in bumping into each other over and over again, we dared face the realities and contradictions which forced us to continually re-evaluate the Other. The shock and pain of withdrawing projections didn’t result in a withdrawal of love. Rather, the withdrawal of projections allowed us to discover newness in each other. With all this newness, we remain awed by the magic of the other, still looking to each other for salvation, for safety, for love.
As I lay beneath the rays of the sun on the beach in Puerto Morelos allowing my body to darken without tan lines, I listen to music on my mp3 player. While listening to the music with the waves rolling onto the shore, the time passes quickly making it easier to be still and at peace, my mind was caught by one song I had listened to many times, Bruce Springsteen singing Secret Garden. I knew immediately as I listened that the song had touched something much deeper than normal. I knew that the song would become today’s post. I wasn’t yet sure, nor am I now as I am writing, exactly what I would say. Before going further, I want to put the song here. The lyrics will be added at the end of the post for those who want to have them in text form.
I know that I typically write about the feminine on Wednesdays, but this deserves being brought here a day early. With the words that talk about being allowed “in her house” should one come during the night immediately brought to mind the she that is a man’s anima. This mystical woman of the Secret Garden is the Magical Other to whom we sewomb farch for in our wives, consorts, our significant others. Of course, no human female can hold all of this and stay sane. At some point we have to realise that this Magical Other is found within our own psyche, not projected out onto other humans. Think of the Garden of Eden, the womb of humankind where the essence of all that is masculine and all that is feminine unites in a holy marriage; a garden where Ego gets in the way, and effectively destroys the garden. This is the guiding principle of individuation in Jungian Psychology, and in Buddhism. We must learn to set the narrow limitations of ego aside and allow the fullness of our psyche to escape from the shadows.
Secret Garden – Bruce Springsteen
She’ll let you in her house
If you come knockin late at night
Shell let you in her mouth
If the words you say are right
If you pay the price
Shell let you deep inside
But there’s a secret garden she hides
Shell let you in her car
To go drivin round
Shell let you into the parts of herself
Thatll bring you down
Shell let you in her heart
If you got a hammer and a vise
But into her secret garden, don’t think twice
Youve gone a million miles
How fard you get
To that place where you can’t remember
And you can’t forget
Shell lead you down a path
Therell be tenderness in the air
Shell let you come just far enough
So you know she’s really there
Shell look at you and smile
And her eyes will say
Shes got a secret garden
Where everything you want
Where everything you need
Will always stay
A million miles away
And I will begin today’s post with some words from David Tacey:
“The problem with surface-level intellectual discourse is that it fails to see the extent to which the archetypes of ‘slow-moving planets’ influence our lived experience. Much sociology of masculinity and gender theory strikes me as hopelessly inadequate; it calls for change and demands instantaneous release from stereotypes without even beginning to reckon with the powerful archetypes that regulate our lives, all the more powerful for not being seen by the intellectuals. … <snip> … It is astonishing how often we are told that masculinity is merely a construct of society, one that can be exploded simply if we stop believing it.” [Tacey, Remaking Men, pp 9-10]
Of course, it is hard to understand what one can’t see, that is, archetypes. Sociology and most psychologies don’t have any room for more than is on the surface, that is the experiences from conception to adulthood, in their attempts to understand the masculine. For a while [and still for too many] there was the belief that if we treated baby boys as gender neutral, then the issue of negative masculinity would simply disappear.
Perhaps even better, have male infants never exposed to toys that are male-oriented, such as toy guns, cars, etc. Add to that the play experiences which instil gentle cooperation in place of competition. We have been trying this as a society for several decades with little, if any, improvement in the issue of masculinity, or the erosion of patriarchy. Rather, we have created more business for counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists and psychotherapists. Now, more than ever, men find themselves disoriented in the world and at a loss to understand who they are as men.
The need to go into depth is vital if we are to construct a societal approach to helping young males become psychologically healthy men. For, it is only through becoming psychologically healthy that we will ever be able to move away from the unconscious participation in patriarchy. The archetypes, that is, the energies that lie buried in the collective psyche of humans that contain the codes for understanding how we relate to both the masculine and the feminine.
Awareness of the archetypes and their place in the psyche allows a person to begin to know themselves, a beginning that is expanded upon when one realises that the movements of the archetypes within the psyche are found in their projections onto others. How does one react to authority figures? How does one react to passive men, passive women? What type of person is one: introvert, extrovert. How and does one have one’s energies (anger, joy, fear, etc.) activated? These are vital questions that will guide one to awareness of the archetypes that are at work. Armed with this knowledge, it them becomes possible to change one’s personal relationship dynamics. And through the change of the personal by enough people, the collective dynamic shits.
It is another beautiful day here in Puerto Morelos. This morning I tried meditating in a different location other than tucked in a corner of the studio apartment. I was able to enjoy the sound of the breeze, the feel of the breeze, and the sound of the water lapping against the pylons of the pier. I sat at the far right corner which sticks out even further into the sea. Because of the hour and time of day, I did keep on my bathing suit while meditating. It was an experience worth repeating, only tomorrow [weather permitting] I will go there two hours earlier, before my morning coffee with my wife. While I meditate, she does yoga, so this is a shared experience in its own way.
Meditation is vital for me. Because of my history as a child and as a youth, I have lived in a self-imposed straight-jacket as I tried to contain the demons that haunted me. When it became too much to contain, it was in meditation where I first found the path to ease the strain and thus be able to move forward into another day of masking the psychic pain that wanted to swallow me. I needed meditation, but didn’t really know why.
“Well, meditation is dealing with purpose itself… Generally we have a purpose for whatever we do: something is going to happen in the future, therefore, whatever I am doing now is important — everything is related to that. But the whole idea of meditation is to develop an entirely different way of dealing with things, where you have no purpose at all. In fact, meditation is dealing with the question of whether or not there is a such thing as ‘purpose’.” [Trungpa, Meditation in Action]
Today, I know why I meditate. I know that this act of letting my ego consciousness give up control, in a way disappearing for a while, allows my body to feel the freedom from the prison of memories. While I meditate I don’t have any history of pain, of confusion, of betrayal or of being someone who has committed his fair share of betraying, confusing and of inflicting pain. I become a being, simply breath, sitting in my space which disappears leaving me freer than it is possible to imagine. I cease being a victim and a victimizer.
My body appreciates this momentary space where all is released, as does my spirit. I breath, I sit, I am. And, that is enough.
The sun has been at the centre of the spiritual lives of humankind for as long as there have been humans. More often than not, the sun is a male deity while the moon is a female deity, usually the consort. In depth psychology, both sun and moon have formed a central core of the psyche, with the sun signifying consciousness, awareness, and the moon signifying the unconscious.
“A solar deity (also sun god/dess) is a sky deity who represents the Sun, or an aspect of it, usually by its perceived power and strength. Solar deities and sun worship can be found throughout most of recorded history in various forms.” [Wikipedia, Solar Deity]
When I think hard on this, I wondered why it is that, even though humankind was at best barely above the status of instinctual animal, humans turned to the sun. It didn’t take too much for a very simple reason to emerge – they were afraid of the dark. When the sun was present, when there was warmth, humans felt alive and thrived. When night fell, fear was natural as there were real forces abroad that threatened existence. In the darkness fear was magnified. And in the dark, bad things happened, especially to women and children. And in the dark, revenge was taken. It is with a sense of both fear and hope that humans waited out the night for the return of the sun.
And today, I find that I am no different as I lift my heart joyfully when the sun peeks out from behind clouds. Modern man, civilised or not, I am like my ancestors worshipping the power and heat of the sun.
I chose this picture today for another post on shadow for a few reasons, one of those reasons being the idea of the ego at the centre, ego being light. As one looks out at the world, the further one gets from the immediate centre surrounding the conscious self, the less clearly, the less conscious one is with regards to what is out there. Looking out from the conscious centre, one sees others, but doesn’t see that behind these others lay shadows that reach into the depths where there is nothing but darkness. One could turn that conscious gaze inwards and get to meet ephemeral images of what are best described as archetypes, presences in the collective unconscious, primordial images that arise from the energy that associated with humans and humanty. If this image tells it like it is, then even these archetypes lose their distinctness in the darkness of what is, perhaps the cosmic unconscious, the unconscious that so many religions and philosophies have called God, the chaos from which all that is both animate and inanimate have arisen.
While conscious, awake with eyes open to the light, it is next to impossible to see one’s shadow. It is only as we cast furtive glances out of the sides of the eyes that we sense that we see something there. We have only what we know exists. We know we exist – our ego tells us us this much. We craft and control disguises that we present to the world as we relate to others, disguises called persona. And, we know, but can’t quite seem to prove that there is a shadow lurking, stalking us seemingly waiting for us to let go of control before it overtakes us. Who is stalking whom?
“Let’s look at the overall picture. Ego, persona, shadow. In Jung’s model of the psyche, these are three major complexes among a whole lot of others. Each has a say in what we are, the way we function, the way we move through the world. The big question is, what do they have to do with psychological relationship? [Sharp, Getting To Know You, p. 43]
I think it is rather obvious to almost all of us how our ego [consciousness] has a huge role to play in how we relate to others. We choose who we relate to as well as how we will relate to them. In our various life roles [father, husband, colleague, boss, employee, etc.] we moderate the way we relate, we limit and control just how much of us we will allow others to see of our true, authentic selves. Not so obvious is the role of shadow. Somehow, beyond my control, and your control, without our even being aware of what is going on, the shadow puts in an appearance in our relationships. We do things and say things that we have no intention of doing or saying. Sometimes we don’t even realise that we have done and said these things after the fact, we deny them vigorously wondering why these people in our lives would tell us these lies.
“Why did you do that?” the wife asks her husband.
“Do what?” he responds confused about what she is talking about.
“You know very well what I am talking about. Why did you do it? You knew it would upset me.”
Even more confused and beginning to be a bit angry at being accused of some unknown crime, he answers, “I don’t have a damn clue what you’re talking about. Stop talking in riddles. What the hell am I being accused of doing now?”
The shadow had put in an appearance and both the husband and wife are left to sort through the litter left in its wake. They are confused and begin to doubt the quality and the strength of their relationship, and at the same time begin to self-doubt. Both Jung and Sharp have nailed it. We are very complexed beings and that complexity shows up in relationship with others who finally give us a chance to see an image of the shadow through the eyes of a person with whom we engage in relationship.