Feb 26, 2012

Archetypal Map of the Daimon


The starry vault of heaven is in truth the open book of cosmic projection, in which are reflected the mythologems, i.e., the archetypes. In this vision astrology and alchemy, the two classical functionaries of the psychology of the collective unconscious, join hands. - C.G. Jung 
Each of us is born at a certain moment in time. Since each one of us is a microcosm, the configuration of the heavens at this moment provides us with a unique image that can reveal to us many things about our particular cosmos. Our natal chart is our archetypal map of our life, which can lead us into greater knowledge of Soul.

In my own personal experience, I was born with the Sun and Jupiter in the ninth house, the house of philosophy, religion, mysticism, and the quest for understanding of life's deeper questions. Jupiter is the planet of philosophy, thus making this configuration even more powerful for such studies. I did not know this until studying for my philosophy degree in college. Apparently, I was born with these tendencies, which I have felt powerfully since childhood. I have been led throughout my life to ask the deeper questions, to plumb the depths of my own heart in search of answers.

James Hillman's "acorn theory" describes a personal intelligence that one is linked to at birth. This intelligence Hillman calls daimon, using the name given by Plato to a sort of guardian angel that accompanied Socrates throughout his life, always nudging him down the path he should follow. I, too, have felt the pull of this Being, most of my life. From the movies I enjoyed as a child to the sort of books I was attracted to as a teenager, my daimon has led me to where I am at this moment, sitting here writing this article.

The archetypal map provided by the daimon is our natal chart, our "soul's code." From the moment of our birth, we are set on a path that we can choose to follow or choose to ignore; it is up to us.

I've known about the daimon since reading Hillman's classic book in 1996. Recently, I've begun studying the work of Henry Corbin, who discussed the Sufi belief that every person has an angel who desires to manifest itself in the life of its human counterpart. This angel exists in the mundus imaginalis, the world of the imagination, which is an intermediary realm between spirit and matter. Fascinating stuff, to say the least.

Our unique map of the heavens is our angel's imprimatur upon us. Hillman says
There is in each of us a longing to see beyond what our usual sight tells us (Soul's Code, p. 108).
Even though Hillman is not referring here to the natal chart, it is not an unreasonable leap to claim he might consider the birth chart as a way of seeing beyond our physical senses.

Feb 24, 2012

Mirror Image

According to Corbin, the human soul is individuated not through the union with a physical body (as in Aristotle) but by becoming a perfectly polished mirror of its angel in a strictly one-to-one relation. We realize our virtual angelicity through a progressive illumination attained on earth; we are called, by right of our origin and if we consent, to an angelomorphosis (Robert Avens, The Subtle Realm: Corbin, Sufism, Swedenborg).
Aristotle believed that matter is the principle of individuation, i.e. matter is the point of distinction between individual members of the same infirma species (the lowest species), of which there are many. So, two humans (same species, if one wants to agree with Aristotle that man is rational animal), would be distinguishable only by material traits, such as eye or hair color.

I am not comfortable at all with this idea. In my humble opinion, we are individuals, not because we have a unique DNA fingerprint, but because each of us is a unique cosmos, a microcosm of a greater macrocosm. Our exclusive umbilicus to Being, our daimon, is our true face. It is that which we are individuating in this material world.

The Soul's angel is analogous to Jung's idea of the Self. Corbin sees the angel as another mode of being, existing in a very real realm that is intermediate between spirit and matter. Corbin's writing is more theological; Jung is more psychological, but both have the same basic idea in mind, i.e. a transformation of human consciousness into that which a person is destined to be.  Both, however, agree on the method to arrive there, i.e. active imagination.
Only a metaphysics of the  imaginal can attain to "the meeting-place of the two seas", to the "valley of Jehoshaphat", as Suhravardi so admirably demonstrated This mediating function of the active Imagination is essential for spiritual alchemy—that is to say, for the effectiveness of the alchemical operation viewed as a transmutation of the inner man (Temple and Contemplation, by Henry Corbin).
The "transmutation of the inner man" via active imagination is very similar to what Jung posited with his idea of individuation.

An Authentic Life

There comes a time when soul-making is quite painful. Each person has something they are meant to do in this mortal coil. When that calling cannot be pursued due to the circumstances of life, Soul is deeply despondent. One begins to blame oneself, as if our egoic self could somehow change our lot in life. The worst punishment is to possess a gift and not be able to cultivate it properly. Then one must ask, why even bestow the gift if one is destined to languish in life's mundanities to the point where the acorn rots on the ground, or is eaten by some hungry animal?

In America, we tend to think of our destiny as being intimately connected with our vocation. That's not altogether true. James Hillman said,
. . .calling can refer not only to ways of doing — meaning work — but also to ways of being. Take being a friend. Goethe said that his friend Eckermann was born for friendship. Aristotle made friendship one of the great virtues. In his book on ethics, three or four chapters are on friendship. In the past, friendship was a huge thing. But it's hard for us to think of friendship as a calling, because it's not a vocation (On Soul, Character and Calling: A Conversation with James Hillman).
The notion that our destiny is all about our vocation is undoubtedly a product of the Western fascination with the Calvinist work ethic. As long as we're "working hard" and making lots of money for the corporation, then God is pleased with us and all is right with the world. This is one of the most egregious examples of brainwashing in the history of mankind! It has resulted in millions, perhaps billions, of people missing their true callings in life. What with all the products we've been talked into buying, we must work constantly to keep up with the costs involved. Instead of really living, really being, and carrying out that which we are destined to fulfill, we strive constantly to make our plutocratic overseers even more wealthy.

Our world cries out for its inhabitants to be exactly what they are meant to be. An authentic life, as Heidegger is wont to say, is preferable over an inauthentic life. These are two modes of Being, in Heidegger's thought. Most of us live a life of inauthenticity, which, in my opinion, includes obsessions over sports, reality TV, celebrities, and various other mundanities. What would our world be like if we all had the opportunity to cultivate and grow the seeds within us to full fruition? Then, our world would flourish with Being, with Soul!

Feb 14, 2012

Soul And Creation

Skyscape by Nicholas Roerich
The breath-body is not something "spiritual" in our sense of the word. It is character­istic of Western man that he has split apart the physical and the spiritual for epistemological purposes. But these opposites exist together in the psyche and psychology must recognize this fact. "Psychic" means physical and spiritual. The ideas in our text all deal with this "intermediate" world which seems unclear and confused because the concept of psychic reality is not yet current among us, although it expresses life as it actually is. Without soul, spirit is as dead as mat­ter, because both are artificial abstractions; whereas man originally regarded spirit as a volatile body, and matter as not lacking in soul (C.G. Jung, Collected Works, Vol 13, page 51, note 2).
Here we have a statement by Carl Jung, explaining the tripartite nature of human being. I have heard all my life how we are spirit, soul, and body, but it was never clear how spirit and soul were different. Ministers should not speak about such things to curious parishioners without knowing what they're talking about. I was deeply confused about this in my youth. If only I had had Jung to explain it to me!

Westerners are very familiar with the physical body. Just think of how our medical technology has advanced in the past one hundred  years. Some are absolutely obsessed with our material nature. Furthermore, there are those who emphasize spiritual things to the point of being so heavenly-minded they're no earthly good, to use a cliche borrowed from a fire and brimstone preacher I once heard. From one extreme to another, but they have totally missed our intermediate state, which is the most crucial.

Soul is not an objective reality, in the empirical sense. Hillman says it very well:
By soul I mean, first of all, a perspective rather than a substance, a viewpoint toward things rather than a thing itself. This perspective is reflective; it mediates events and makes differences between ourselves and everything that happens. Between us and events, between the doer and the deed, there is a reflective moment -- and soul-making means differentiating this middle ground (Revisioning Psychology) .
Soul belongs to an intermediate universe, according to Henry Corbin, "where the spiritual takes body and the body takes spiritual." We, as Souls, exist in a world Corbin calls the mundus imaginalis. Here, Imagination is of the utmost importance because it creates the physical world. In our world, images are thought of as being less important than "real" objects, but the objects we are familiar with are what they are because they have emanated from a place of suprareality, the mundus imaginalis.

Creation is not creatio ex nihilo, as the Church Fathers would have us believe. The Creator has an intimate connection, a divine umbilicus, to the Creation. The doctrine of creatio ex nihilo sets up an unbridgeable chasm between Creator and  Creation. This is one reason why Western man has become disconnected from the earth, desacralizing it. How can we hold the earth sacred if we are told to think it is separate from us? This has been the root cause of much madness in the world, everything from scientists creating atomic bombs to religious zealots desiring to be "raptured" from the earth to a place more fitting for their holiness.

Our world is sacred. It becomes desacralized because we have allowed a great chasm to form between it and the spiritual world, a void that can only be filled by Soul. Our world grows weaker and more chaotic as the gulf widens. To heal our reality, we must tend to the business of soul-making, the care of Soul, as Thomas Moore has taught. We must be ever diligent. Our Souls are intertwined with the World-Soul. Together, we will thrive.

Feb 12, 2012

Fog

photo taken by flickr user The Jamoker
 I have always loved fog. It's not so great to drive in when it is very thick, but, otherwise, it's a beautiful manifestation of Nature. I don't really know why I am so fond of it, but I have clues. First of all, I see Nature's metaphors everywhere. For me, our entire world is filled with metaphors. They point to a multiverse that has emanated from Being that is beyond our comprehension. If we follow these, they will lead us to greater insight, into not only our world, but into ourselves, as well. But, I digress; back to fog.

I keep hearing the Carl Sandburg poem running through my mind:
The fog creeps in on little cat feet.
It sits on silent haunches,
Looking over harbor and city,
And then moves on. 
This is a great image. The way fog arrives, silently, like a cat creeping. It rests for awhile, hiding what it wishes to hide from our gaze, mysterious, numinous. It is without doubt a symbol of the unconscious. Fog can provide clues as to the nature of the psyche. Sometimes it hides the Truth from us. Sometimes it distorts reality. We lose our direction and get confused as to where we are in our lives. Truth is not always seen clearly.

Fog is a veil that, at opportune times, shrouds things we should not see. It sits, white, like a thick blanket covering the earth, bringing with it coldness and clamminess. It moves mysteriously, swirling and whirling, almost breathing chaotically, always in metamorphosis.

Fog can be a harbinger of doom, as in old horror movies. Every movie I've seen about Jack the Ripper takes place in a bank of thick fog. Of course, London is famous for it. Many musicians have used dry ice in their shows for years, to evoke the eery mood and atmosphere that fog provides.

Fog is a low-lying cloud that pulls the vault of heaven down to earth, enveloping us. In this way, it symbolizes heaven and earth intertwined, an intermediate state of being, the metaxy of Soul. When covered by fog, the the usual hard edges of physical matter are transformed into a surreal world of blurry obscurity, much like an impressionist painting.

Fog can bring a time of obscurity and confusion, but the sun always chases it away, eventually.

Feb 11, 2012

Henry Corbin and the Archetypal Realm

Nicholas Roerich "Song of Shambhala"
The active Imagination is the preeminent mirror, the epiphanic place of the Images of the archetypal world; that is why the theory of the mundus imaginalis is bound up with a theory of imaginative knowledge and imaginative function--a function truly central and mediatory, because of the median and mediatory position of the mundus imaginalis. It is a function that permits all the universes to symbolize with one another (or exist in symbolic relationship with one another) and that leads us to represent to ourselves, experimentally, that the same substantial realities assume forms corresponding respectively to each universe (for example, Jabalqa and Jabarsa correspond in the subtle world to the Elements of the physical world, while Hurqalya corresponds there to the Sky). It is the cognitive function of the Imagination that permits the establishment of a rigorous analogical knowledge, escaping the dilemma of current rationalism, which leaves only a choice between the two terms of banal dualism: either "matter" or "spirit," a dilemma that the "socialization" of consciousness resolves by substituting a choice that is no less fatal: either "history" or "myth" (Mundus Imaginalis, or the Imaginary and the Imaginal, by Henry Corbin).
French philosopher and theologian, Henry Corbin (1903-1978) was one of the most important intellectuals and scholars of the twentieth century. I first heard of him in the mid '90's, after immersing myself in the writings of James Hillman. The latter saw him as a carrier of the torch of Soul, when many in those days were denying its value. In 1949, Corbin attended the Eranos Conference in Asconia, Switzerland, in which he would play a large role, along with C.G Jung.

Most of us are aware of what Corbin means in the above passage by "active imagination." If you're not, read Gary Lachman's wonderful essay at Reality Sandwich.

We know the power and value of this gift that Jung rediscovered for our generation. It was by no means a Jungian invention, for mystics and seers have used it for millenia to enter another, more subtle world. Corbin dubs this realm mundus imaginalis,  the world of the imaginal. He uses "imaginal" to differentiate from "imaginary," and the disparaging connotations it carries in our rationalistic culture.

Corbin's worldview requires a complete cosmology and metaphysics of presence. The West once possessed this, but lost it when the Aristotelianism of Averroes swept aside the Avicennan cosmology in the twelfth century. From that point on, the emphasis would be on res extensa and res cogitans.

Our typical idea of historical consciousness of a world of cold, dead objects and linear time will not work here. According to Tom Cheetham, "the human presence spatializes a world around it in accordance with the mode of being of that presence" (The World Turned Inside Out, p 66). This is very Heideggerian, reminding me much of Dasein. In fact, Heidegger was a major influence on Corbin's work. This mode of being requires a qualitative, not a quantitative space. Our normal idea of space is much too limited for the limitless depths of Soul. That is why our urge to personify machines, as in the seemingly never-ending quest for so-called artificial intelligence, will never produce anything more than a cold, lifeless calculator.

The mundus imaginalis is the realm of Soul, the metaxy, mediating between the physical and spiritual universes. It is the middle course Icarus was instructed to fly by his father, but disobeyed and perished. It is the abode of the Archetypal Images of all existence and the realm of all mythology, which provides for us analogical knowledge by which we can peer into multiple levels of being. Cheetham says,
It is a measure of the depth of the catastrophe to which we have succumbed that we have come to regard this realm as just a fantasy in our heads. It is a realm of Being with its own characteristics, its own laws, and to which we have access by an organ of cognition appropriate to just this realm. The organ of cognition that gains us access to this universe is the active Imagination. It has a cognitive function just as fundamental as sensation or intellection, and like them, it must be trained. Therefore there are a perfectly objective imaginative perception, an imaginative knowledge, and an imaginative consciousness (ibid, p 69-70).
 I don't know about you, but these are very exciting ideas.

Are We Real?

Painting by Bertil Norén (1889-1934)
. . . psychic existence is the only category of existence of which we have immediate knowledge, since nothing can be known unless it first appears as a psychic image. . . To the extent that the world does not assume the form of a psychic image, it is virtually non-existent (C.G. Jung, qtd. in Imagination Is Reality, by Robert Avens, page 34).
To hold that "we are not real" means that the reality of persons and every act of consciousness is a reflection of a fantasy-image: for they are the only actual existents that are not reducible to something other than their imagery; only they are as they literally appear; only fantasies are utterly, incontrovertibly real (James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology, pp 209).
I find myself thinking many times, especially in the past few years or so, that I am not really "real", in the usual sense. I never thought about such things until I entered a period in my life of intense suffering. I'll not go into great detail about that, but it was akin to a "dark night of the soul," described by St. John of the Cross. It was a period of true crisis, a turning-point in my life.

After thirty years of trying to answer the question, Am I real?, I have come to the conclusion that I am only real insofar as I am an image, a metaphor. As an image, I am irreducible to anything else.

All that we usually think of as being real, in the empirical sense of course, was originally an image. The realm of matter, Malkuth in the Kabbalistic sense, has its origin in a more subtle mode of Being.

Everything I am and have been in my existence on this planet is a product of me as image.

Everything I know was first an image.

Everything I will be is here and now an image.

Feb 10, 2012

Other Worlds

painting by TURGO BASTIEN
As people who are fascinated by the mind, soul, consciousness, etc, our language is replete with things “inner” and things “outer,” things “internal,” and things “external.” This is a bit confusing to those who are accustomed to thinking in a literal fashion. We are not speaking literally, of course. It is not that speaking in this way is bad. It is simply a limitation of our language.

“There is a vast universe within us.” This statement is very true, very inspiring, as long as we are not thinking literally. If this is taken in a thoroughly materialistic fashion, however, it is of no value whatsoever. We enter a different mode of being when we speak this way. It is not the same mode of being as when we say, “The plate is round.” What we think of as “inner” things cannot be expressed in the same way because these belong to another level of reality.

There are multiple levels of reality, myriad levels of being. Empirical reality is only one mode; in fact, it is the lowest form of being. We in the West have forgotten how to think and speak about any other level of reality than what we experience with our five physical senses. This, however, is changing. Everyday, I see more evidence of a change in thought. It seems that more and more people are becoming more aware of deeper, more soulful, ways of thinking. Could this be occurring because our Sun is rising; a transformation of consciousness, foretold of for centuries, is occurring?

The sphere of physical matter is the realm of Malkuth, the tenth sephirot in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Even though the realm of empirical reality is the lowest, it is not without Soul. There are great mysteries yet to be discovered in Nature, especially in the way it points, with its plethora of metaphors, to more profound spheres of reality. A good example of this is contained in my essay on Trees.

Western science has been dominated by the materialistic, objective point of view for centuries. We have come to regard any other scientific method as inferior.
Most problematically, meaningful understanding of the world is lost because our 'objective' analyses have denied the language of human experience in this cannon of 'truth'. Meaning however, is manifest only in the context of interrelation. The 'objective' lens of the scientist enforces the separation between the observer and the observed and thus denies the web of relationships which we experience in life. It is not surprising then, that nothing remotely resonant with our living experience has emerged out of this vast array of inert information. It is not surprising that we find ourselves in a time of ecological crisis and alienation from nature: through this veil of objectivity we have severed our meaningful relationships with Her, and therefore, the obligation to interact with nature responsibly. How then do we transcend this mechanistic world view and heal our relationship to the earth (Natasha Myers, Exploring Goethean Science)?
There is a different path, however, to science. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe devised a scientific methodology that was more holistic. Goethean science may hold the key to doing true science.
We are always fascinated by how organisms grow. How, for example, does the magnificent beech tree arise from its tiny seed? How do we explain its form as it changes through time? Biologists are always looking for explanations to get at the mechanisms behind the phenomenon. Goethean scientists on the other hand, seek an understanding of processes by delving into the phenomenon experientially (ibid.)
I invite you to read further about Goethe's scientific methodology. It is truly fascinating and inspirational. Rudolf Steiner expounded Goethe's ideas, as well, in his own scientific thinking. It is a more phenomenologically and participatory method, where there is no separateness between observer and observed.

“Inner” and “outer” are metaphors that attempt to communicate modes of being which we experience. They are images to assist our understanding. Our culture, when it began to emphasize materiality and causality (“outer” things) grew less and less aware of the higher spheres of being. As science concentrated on cracking the mysteries of physical matter, and, because its methodology could not deal with any other mode of being, it excluded all other realities, deeming them “imaginary.” The more subtle worlds (“inner” things) are much more mysterious to us who are more acclimated to this physical world.



Feb 7, 2012

Cthonic Awakening

The following link points to a fascinating article by Vadge Moore entitled, Chthonic: From Beast To Godhead. It's mind-blowing. Here is a taste:
One problem we encounter in the spirituality of this contemporary Western world is a distinct lack of depth or of darkness. Too many people want to immerse themselves in the light and airy, feel-good religions of the New Age movement and refuse to face the dark, evil aspects that have always been part and parcel of all myths and religions. As Moore suggests, "The deepening of religion - making it earthy and chthonic - is one of the greatest challenges facing religion in the West today. Without depth, religion can become too sweetly spiritual and top-heavy with its focus on higher consciousness and the idealized moral life" (From Cthonic, by Vadge Moore).
Read the entire article. It's very interesting in the light of integrating the Shadow.


Daymares

Can you imagine what it would be like to live without timekeeping devices of any kind, except the sun and moon? Clocks, like other gadgets in our culture, have come to be viewed as absolute necessities. Just think of how we rely on clocks to order our daily lives. It is a rare individual who doesn't need to know the time. I was on disability for a few years; I really didn't need to be any particular place at any particular time, but I still had to know when my favorite TV shows came on. It just amazes me how reliant we are on something that is so artificial.

Linear time is really just a construct of the human mind. Kant did a good job of showing this in his Critique Of Pure Reason. The sense of time is just an illusion we create and then we drive ourselves crazy trying to get to work on time, meet certain deadlines, go to meetings at an appointed time, etc, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Such shenanigans are created by the mind to keep us under the illusion that we're accomplishing something extremely important, when, in all actuality, we are like dogs chasing our tails.

So, if linear time is a construct of the mind, there must be other elements of ourselves that experience timelessness. This is obvious in dreams because there is no sense of time. Dreams transport us to another level of reality where time is meaningless.

What if reality is actually taking place while we sleep, in the dream-state? What if our dayworld experience is merely an illusion? To the dreaming-me, these dayworld images make absolutely no sense. Perhaps I, the dreamer, consider them terrifying daymares. I wonder if Dreaming-I tries to interpret and derive meaning from these daymares?

The Akashic Records, Memory, & Musings

The Akashic Record is
a theosophical term referring to an universal filing system which records every occurring thought, word, and action. The records are impressed on a subtle substance called akasha (or Soniferous Ether). In Hindu mysticism this akasha is thought to be the primary principle of nature from which the other four natural principles, fire, air, earth, and water, are created. These five principles also represent the five senses of the human being (http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/a/akashic_records.htm).
Could what some call the Akashic Records really be the realm of Mnemosyne?

There is a Hindu god called Chitragupta who is the keeper of the Akashic Records. You can read more about him here. He is the "Hindu god assigned the task of keeping complete records of actions of all human beings on the earth. Upon their death, Chitragupta has the task of deciding heaven or hell for the humans, depending on their actions. Chitragupta Maharaj (Chitragupta the King) is the patron deity of Kayasthas, a Hindu caste of India" (Wikipedia).

I can't shake this idea that Memory is a very crucial element in the quest for truth. We are just starting to realize the importance of genetic memory and other ideas, such as Jung's collective unconscious. Remembering, recollecting have been important philosophical ideas since the time of the ancients. During the Renaissance, thinkers like Giordano Bruno and Robert Fludd rediscovered the lost Ars Memoriae and constructed complex systems (Memory Palace) for memorizing large amounts of information. But why? How does the imagination play into this? I have a gut-feeling that these things are very important to us, and that mankind, in it's quest for scientific knowledge at all cost, has ignored something that is necessary for its survival.

The Hollow Earth Myth

I've been hearing the stories and theories about a hollow earth since I was a child. How can anyone in our modern technological age believe this is literally true? It does, however, make for a fascinating myth. I had a great time reading Jules Verne's Journey To The Center Of The Earth many years ago. My imagination was kept quite occupied while I made my own journey to the center of the earth.

According to hollow-earth theorists, the earth is, you guessed it, hollow, with the crust being only about eight hundred miles thick. There are, supposedly, two openings, one at either pole. At the center of this crazy, mixed-up world, is not a molten core, but an "inner sun."
Therefore, there exists three worlds on our planet, the outer surface, where we live, the middle earth which purportedly is lined with many caverns, tunnels (made by someone), Inner Cities and people who live there and lastly the Inner Surface. How Gravity works then is the following. For the people who live on the outer surface, Gravity holds them down. For the people that live in the middle earth, the closer they get to the center of the crust (i.e. - 400 miles down), the less effect gravity will have upon them. In the book, "Etidorhpa", when this individual traveling down into the earth reached the center of gravity, i.e. where there is no gravity --- he was able to move by the power of his mind, his heart stop beating and he didn't need to eat. He described gigantic vegetation that lives under the earth as this lesser pull of gravity allows things to grow larger. Lastly for the people who live on the inner surface, they would also feel gravity pull on them to walk on this surface but since there is an inner sun (called the "Atoma", by channeler Michael Kant who appears in our crystal skull book Mysteries of the Crystal Skulls Revealed) they would have sunlight 24 hours a day. There is supposedly land masses and water bodies that exist on the Inner Earth, the same as the outer surface except the vibration and energy in the Inner Earth is more pure and of a higher vibrational frequency (some say a 4th dimensional frequency) (from The Hollow Earth - Fact Or Fiction).
I'm looking at this metaphorically, using a Corbin-esque hermeneutic. Of course, this is pure myth. It sounds like another descent to the underworld tale, similar to Dante's Inferno. It's interesting that there is this inner sun called Atoma. Could this be a reference to the Atman of Hinduism, the daimon of the Greeks, and the Self of Jungian thought? There are many other names for such an "inner truth." It's interesting also that they chose the feminine form of the Latin word for atom (atoma) as the name of the "inner sun."

Just as Dante's descent was an inner journey through the depths of the soul, so is this. This strikes me as a strictly Apollonian vision, however. The sun gives light twenty-four hours a day! There is no place in this saga for Dionysus (or Hades, his brother), which is unusual with myths of descent. And this is an "Inner Utopia," which is strange because it's too one-sided. Everything is magical and seemingly perfect. There must be some huge monsters lurking in the "gigantic vegetation," that flourishes due to the diminished gravity. Even Jules Verne had a couple of sea monsters in his story.

All in all, this is a fantastic tale. Of course, it's got something to do with aliens. Doesn't every good story nowadays? Read the article I have linked above. It will blow your mind. The accompanying drawing looks a lot like a mandala.

Heidegger and Mnemosyne


Mnemosyne, daughter of heaven and earth, bride of Zeus, in nine nights becomes the mother of the nine Muses. Drama and music, dance and poetry are of the womb of Mnemosyne, Dame Memory. It is plain that the word means something else than merely the psychologically demonstrable ability to retain a mental representation, an idea, of something which is past. Memory - from Latin memor- mindful- has in mind something that is in the mind- thought. But when it is the name of the Mother of the Muses; "Memory" does not mean just any thought of anything that can be thought. Memory is the gathering and convergence of thought upon what everywhere demands to be thought about first of all. Memory is the gathering of recollection, thinking back. It safely keeps and keeps concealed within it that to which at each given time thought must be given before all else, in everything that essentially is, everything that appeals to us as what has being and has been in being. Memory, Mother of the Muses - the thinking back to what is to be thought - is the source and ground of poesy (Martin Heideger, Basic Writings, p. ).

In this passage from an essay entitled, What Calls for Thinking?, Heidegger very clearly includes the realm of Mnemosyne, Mother of the Muses, in what we call "thinking." The Western intellectual mindset of our day assumes that the scientific method is the direct path for thinking to take. Heidegger is saying that poetry, myth, music, etc. (the realm of the Muses), "everything that appeals to us as what has Being and has been in Being," must be included when talking about thinking. A place must be given to mythos as well as logos.

Plato was the first to disparage poetry and the arts in favor of what he believed to be Philosophy. According to Socrates, poets were unacceptable in his ideal Republic. Apparently, the emotions evoked by poetry and the arts were unhealthy for the ideal citizen. Sounds a lot like the Satanic rock music scare in the 1980's.

The point I would like to make, however, is that Heidegger is absolutely right. Thinking must not consider myth, poetry, music, plays, movies, dreams, etc. as non-reality. They are just as real as this keyboard I am using. Prior to Plato and his teacher, Socrates, and perhaps a few others, they were included; there was no distinction in thinking between mythos and logos. Western culture took a two-thousand-year detour at the expense of Soul. Sure, we've got exciting technology which is very useful, but at what price? Is there a way for us to get back on the path? Perhaps the Fates deemed it necessary we go down the road of technology for a time.

Finally, here is something I wrote some years ago, which I believe is pertinent concerning Goethe's Faust and his ideas on thinking:

Faust believes that in the macrocosm one can discover truth concerning the microcosm. Hence, when one attempts to sense Nature as it is in itself, one gains self-knowledge, which, in my opinion, is what Faust really wants. Faust believes that Nature and man are one, thus allowing man to learn about himself through Nature. Nature is not to be studied so that we can stuff computer hard-drives full of scientific data, analyze it, sift through it, and catalog it. Rather, Goethe believes that Nature should be studied so we may gain self-knowledge. Furthermore, the basis of Faust's frustration stems from his inability to derive self-knowledge from discursive reasoning alone. I believe Goethe is telling us that we need to transcend discursive reasoning, not jettison it altogether, and to unite it with a higher order of perception, which comes when we truly attempt to see Nature as it is.

Feb 6, 2012

Spirals

Photo by Just Chaos
The spiral is a fascinating image. It is a primal symbol in the history of mankind. They have have been found carved into rock all over the world and date to the dawn of humanity's ability to express itself artistically. What were the ancients trying to convey?

The spiral can be found in three main forms in Nature: 1) expanding (like the nebula); 2) contracting (like a whirlpool); and 3) ossified (like a Nautilus). We live in a spiral galaxy. The spiral may be the most important form in the universe. The very stuff we're made of is a spiral, the famous double helix DNA molecule.

Imaginally, the spiral possesses tremendous imagistic power. Because it is of the utmost importance to our existence, it exerts a tremendous influence on the psyche. It can be taken both macrocosmically and microcosmically. Some take it as a shape symbolizing the evolution of the universe. It can also represent unity and multiplicity. There are innumerable symbolic associations.

One such idea is that the spiral is a circumambulative path to a different mode of consciousness.
According to Jung, it is a symbol both of the unconscious and the inward journey, as well as the underworld. As the latter, it is mentioned in Virgil's, Aenead as inscribed at the gateway to Hades. (Fundamentals Of Symbolism).
In Jung's view, the alchemical attempt to transmute base metals into gold (the philosopher's stone) was actually a psychological process which had been unconsciously projected onto the various material substances used in the process. The alchemists were usually not aware of the projection, according to Jung. They really believed they could turn base metals into gold. The symbols used by the alchemists were really representative of what he termed the process of individuation. Jung stressed that individuation must not be understood as a linear development, but as a "circumambulation of the self," that is, the movement, a spiraling, is toward the center, which Jung says is the Self. One of the symbols in alchemy which represents this process is the Ouroboros, the serpent which devours its own tail. This means that the process is circular and self-contained, according to Jung. 

An explanation, which sounds very Gnostic to me, comes from famed Rosicrucian scholar, Max Heindel. He mentions this in a discussion of the god, Mercury:
[His] wisdom-teaching is symbolically represented by the caduceus or "Staff of Mercury," consisting of two serpents twining around a rod and indicating the solution of the riddle of life, or "Whence have we come, why are we here, and whither are we bound?" showing the pupil the spiral path of Involution by which the divine spark has buried itself in matter, also the spiral path of Evolution by which humanity will eventually again reach the Father's bosom, and the short road of Initiation represented by the central rod around which the serpents twine (The Message Of The Stars).
I noticed recently how similar the caduceus symbol is to the DNA double-helix. That's pretty amazing, considering the caduceus has been around for thousands of years.

The depth and richness of spiral symbolism is such that one could write a large book on the subject.

Deceit, Mendacity, and Manipulation

Photo by Paul B. Toman
Each religion has got their own way of making you feel like a victim. The Christians say 'you are a sinner', and you better just zip up your trousers and give the money to the pope and we'll give you a room up in the hotel in the sky. ---Timothy Leary, Timothy Leary's Last Trip
Guilt is one of the primary tools used in our culture to manipulate us, whether it be by so-called religious leaders, politicians, managers, or family members. It is a deep-seated problem in human existence, especially in the Western mindset. These people are ego-driven and want only to fulfil their own desires at our expense.

For millenia, we have been pummeled over the head with our sin and degradation by religious zealots. We have been told that when The Fall occurred, man turned against God and became a sinful and shameful creature. This is an old myth that has been turned on its head by those who desired only to manipulate the masses in order to control them. I'll not get into my own personal ideas concerning The Fall, but I will say that, in my opinion, it is about consciousness, and not to be taken literally. Most manipulators of myth take them literally, thereby fully displaying their ignorance.

Why do they want us to think we are loathsome creatures? Perhaps they are frightened by the possibility we might discover the truth, that we are really god-like ourselves. Is this the reason organized religions exist, i.e., to control the power and potential of the people through lies concerning their true destiny? This was the secret concealed for millenia by the mystery schools; could it be true? Why were the esotericists intent on keeping their secrets for only a few chosen students? Would it be dangerous if these truths found their way into the minds of the masses?

You can be certain of one thing: we are being lied to daily by those in positions of authority. And though the mystery schools don't seem to be as prominent in our culture as they once were, say, in ancient Greece, there are still those who would conceal the truth from us on a regular basis.

The primary method of manipulating the masses in our day is the television, especially cable TV. TV programs are aptly named, as someone reminded me recently. The masses are indeed programmed via their TVs everyday. Instead of being used as an educational and informational tool to edify our culture, it has long been controlled by giant corporations, whose only desire is to talk you into buying something so the stockholders and CEO's can own many fancy cars, live in many fancy houses, and buy all the cocaine they can snort up their noses.
We live at a time when capitalism's inner demons are beginning to be exhumed from the catacombs of the human ego, when love for the almighty dollar and her sister greed blinds those basking in the hypnotizing light of greenbacks and materialism. This phenomenon, combined with the addictions spurred by power and pomposity, has created in the last several decades a need by the powerful elite to manipulate and condition the masses; to transform and mold us into subservient drones that neither think, question, participate or demand (The Stupefaction of a Nation, Manuel Valenzuela).
The entire article, The Stupefaction of a Nation, can read here. It's very good.

Television is a wonderful invention. If used properly, it can be very beneficial. But, in our so-called corporatocracy, we are mere pawns of the elite, i.e., if we allow them to control our hearts and minds.

I began this article discussing how we've been lied to for thousands of years concerning our role as humans in this world. They tell us we are filthy sinners. They claim to know what's best for us, that all we need is to accept Christ into our hearts and all will be well. Jesus himself would be appalled at the things put forth in his name. He knew what humans really are, for he said, "You are gods" (John 10:34). So, stop watching your TV all the time. Pick up a good book, preferably one that will tell you the truth. Or, if you prefer the TV, get some good movies to watch or some informative documentaries. We don't need all the crap they try to put into our heads, and we certainly don't need all those useless products they try to sell us. Be god-like! Create your world!

Hendrix As Shaman

Shaman, 1930 oil painting by Arman Manookian
 If you've read my essay entitled, Hendrix And Heidegger, you know what I've already written about Jimi Hendrix, the Heidegerrian-style thinker. In this offering, I would like to present Jimi in his role as shaman.

Shaman, according to Witchcraft Terminology, is
a word derived from the Tungas language of Siberia, it is a generic term for healers and spiritual leaders in tribal societies. Traditional shamans induced trance states through drums, dancing, ingesting hallucinogens, self-mutilation and deprivation and virtually any means by which one might achieve an altered state of consciousness. While in such a trance, the shaman crosses over into another world to get information for his people such as the cause of illnesses and other misfortunes. The shaman is the peoples’ link to the spirit world.
Anyone who has given much attention to the music of Jimi Hendrix, especially the live performances, can easily see that he was such a man.

Now, we must remember not to get bogged down in literalism, as we are so prone to do with so-called supernatural things. These are issues of Psyche, where the mythopoeic is the norm; metaphors and images are the rule here. When we hear of "spirit world," we immediately think of some other physical locale, perhaps out in space. We humans are worlds within worlds, so think imaginally. The Spirit world could be the collective unconscious, or beyond. We can't fathom these things, so why reduce them to mere physicality?

We must think of the effects of Jimi's music on our consciousness. What images does he paint within us as we listen to him play? Do we experience a connection with another "level of reality"?

Here is another good description of what a shaman does:
In traditional societies, a shaman is a person who, usually in an altered state of consciousness, acts as an intermediary between the natural and supernatural worlds to predict and control the future, cure illness, generate miracles, and the like. Originally applied to societies in Siberia and Central Asia, the term now is used to refer to various kinds of healers, medicine men & women, witch doctors, mystics, priests, magicians, sorcerers, diviners, and so on, in any part of the world (Zoo Fence).
Recently, while watching the wonderful DVD, Jimi plays Berkeley, I fell into a mild, sort of hypnagogic state. This was when I conceived this essay. In such a state of mind, one feels very peaceful and at ease, a welcome respite from this crazy world we live in. His music, especially the songs he was writing just prior to his death, are incredibly inspirational.

Feb 5, 2012

Imagination Shapes Our Reality

 I've been interested in how the mind works most of my life. Early on, I read a lot of books on so-called positive thinking and creative visualization. I did what they told me and became bitter and depressed because things didn't always work out like I had imagined. I practiced affirmations until I was blue in the face, but usually it was a big disappointment. I figured it was just me. I didn't have what it took to make it work.

But as I look back on those years, I don't think I realized that things don't always work out immediately. I was young and impatient. Most of what I imagined back then has since come to pass, except for the millions, of course. That was probably a fortuitous occurrence, since money causes so many problems, which I would rather avoid.

I've been toying with an idea that I know is not original, but is, nevertheless, intriguing. The akasa, in Hindu thought, is
the most material stratum of the nonphysical energies surrounding our planet, analogous to the soul of the world, it functions as a complete reservoir of memory containing the record of every impression and event that has ever occurred on earth. Filled with potential prototypes of all thoughts, forms, and beings, its operations are outside the space-time reference that applies to the physical plane. The physical world is in fact an extension of the astral, which latter contains a range of potencies and emanations, thoughts and beings, either benign or inimical to life on earth (Mind, Memory, and the Astral Light, by John Van Mater, Jr.)
This medium, akasa, could be plastic and malleable. It is related to what Henry Corbin called the mundus imaginalis, or the world of the imaginal, the realm of the daimones. We may be able to shape it with our thoughts and images. I think this may be what is behind creative visualization and positive thinking. I know creative imagination works to a certain extent, or I would not be sitting here today, typing these words. I probably would not have the ability to walk, after having four very serious back surgeries.

If we can shape the akasa with the imagination, and our lives are a product of molding akasa and being attentive to the daimones, then we are truly creators of our own realities. Fascinating prospect, that.

The Rape of Persephone

The Rape of Persephone, by Rupert Bunny
Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, was gathering flowers one day on the plain of Enna with the children of Okeanos. The day was full of sunshine, the hills green with life. Suddenly, while reaching down to pick a narcissus, the ground began to tremble with tremendous force. To her astonishment, she saw a large fissure open beneath her feet. Out of the gaping earth arose Hades, mighty lord of the Underworld, riding a golden chariot. He cracked his whip upon the horses with resounding force. Persephone, stunned, realized she was to be taken down into the depths of the Underworld, realm of the dead. Her shrieks and wails echoed from deep below, as Hades carried her under, into the darkness. Hades was deeply in love with the maiden. He desired her to be his wife and live and rule the Underworld forever.

At times, all of us have our souls seized by force and taken into the depths below. St. John Of The Cross called this the Dark Night Of The Soul. It is a harrowing experience, full of terror and confusion. It is also described as the Nigredo in alchemy, that blacker than black experience wherein we are pulverized and crushed to a black, stinking pulp. James Hillman claims the rape of Persephone
threatens the intact psychological system that takes its strength from life, holding to human relationships and the natural ways of Demeter's daughter. Rape moves the Persephone soul from the being of Demeter's daughter to the being of Hades' wife, from the natural being of generation, what is given to a daughter by mothering life, to the psychic being of marriage with what is alien, different, and is not given. The experience of the underworld is overwhelming and must be made. This style of the underworld experience is overwhelming, it comes as violation, dragging one out of life and into the Kingdom that the Orphic Hymn to Pluto describes as "void of day" (The Dream And The Underworld, pages 48-49).
What most people do not understand today, especially in America and specifically among the radical right-wing, evangelically-minded Christians, is that this dragging down of the soul is necessary for psychological well-being. They desire light at all cost, to the total exclusion of darkness. But that's not the way things really are.

Regardless of what people believe is happening to them, we all still have our downward experiences; it is natural. It is the perspective we take and the choices that follow that matter. The demon-hunters believe there is an evil spirit behind every hedge, ready to possess them at the drop of a hat. Little do they know, that demon is really their friend.

The Denial of Death


Yesterday afternoon, I viewed the documentary, Flight From Death: The Quest for Immortality. This film deals with ongoing research into the psychological effects of death anxiety on humans and their culture. It follows the theories of Ernest Becker, a cultural anthropologist who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for his book, The Denial Of Death.

Becker's theory claims there is a correlation between the fear of death and the violence we inflict on our fellow humans. Basically, unconscious death anxiety is the cause of violent behavior on those people who are different from us; we gravitate towards those who are similar to us. Here is a quote from the Wikipedia entry for this film:
In a recent study, the research team discovered that reminding Palestinians of their own death through subconscious means inspired conscious shifts in opinion towards wanting to become suicide bombers. This subconscious death reminder inspired the subjects to act aggressively against differing others, even at the risk of losing their own lives. Terror is the result of deep psychological forces, but through the research covered in the film, these forces can be charted and explained, yielding information about terror and terrorism that has never been available before.
The research results are really astounding.

The theory has resulted in a new area of study within academic psychology called Terror Management Theory. TMT is the work of three academic psychologists, Dr. Sheldon Solomon of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York; Dr. Tom Pyszczynski, Professor of Psychology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; and Dr. Jeff Greenberg of the University of Arizona. The following is from the corresponding Wikipedia article:
The theory builds from the assumption that the capability of self-reflection and the consciousness of one’s own mortality, can be regarded as a continuous source for existential anguish. Culture diminishes this psychological terror by providing meaning, organization and continuity to men's and women's lives. Compliance with cultural values enhances one's feeling of security and self-esteem, provided that the individual is capable of living in accordance with whatever particular cultural standards apply to him or her. The belief in the rightness of the cultural values and standards creates the conviction necessary to live a reasonable and meaningful life. Because of this men and women strive to have their cultural worldview confirmed by others, thereby receiving the community’s esteem. However, when one’s worldview is threatened by the weltanschauungen of another, it often results in one’s self-respect being endangered as well. In such a situation people not only endeavour to deny or devalue the importance third party weltanschauung, but try to controvert the ideas and opinions of others which may, as a consequence, escalate into a conflict.
Now, remember, the theory is promoting the view that unconscious reminders of death lead to violent behavior and conflict toward those who are dissimilar to us. What if we learned to embrace our own death through conscious reminders? Wouldn't this have the opposite effect?

Aletheia & Postmodernism


While trying to catch up on my reading, I was happy to find this wonderful article by our friend, Tapio, over at Aletheia called On Aletheia In A Postmodern World. I'd like to quote a few lines, if I may, that I found to be very meaningful and edifying:
. . . for many of us our psyche's are profoundly not resonant with this easily nihilistically colored view on existence. For many of us there is deep within a sense for more profound knowledge. That sense comes from direct inner experience of the Truth of Being, which is dynamic in its nature, and in this much more than just 'subjective' in the totality of the Universe.
Nihilism is something the thinking person constantly wrestles with in our day. Tapio has very succinctly stated what I have believed most of my life. I've never embraced atheism because I think it is more a reaction to theism than it is a philosophy based on the phenomenological, existential experience of being human. I have never embraced nihilism because I feel it is a reaction to the loss of meaning experienced by many when they abandon the religion of their childhood. Even though I have greatly experienced angst, in the Kierkegaardian sense, I have never felt that being human was without a sense of beauty. 

I think Tapio has it right when he says,
What you can be sure about even in a Zeitgeist of postmodernism is that you are the ultimate source of happiness and power in your own life. If you step outside the magic circle of your own Self-based conscious power, you let psychic vampires feast on you and you fool yourself to play with categorically bad cards with your Master Game - your life. As long as you remember to not compromise regarding staying in touch and being informed and inspired by your most noble sense of the Truth of your Being, you base yourself to the most profound source of power and happiness in the world - your Self. This is something that no one can take away from you, that no one can make uncertain or relative - no matter how postmodern the world may be.
 It is true that humans do not experience the immersion in life that we once did, prior to man's so-called "search for meaning." In the West, we have stepped outside the magic circle of our being, only to find a world that is disconnected from the True. The psychic vampires have feasted on us for centuries now. It would be so easy to follow the herd and assent to the positivists, those who kneel at the altar of scientism. It would be an easy road to travel in this world. But that is not who we are.

Tapio uses the word, Self, as Jung did, to describe the truth at the core of our being. This Self is our Soul, our Messenger, our Guardian, our Angel. By our daily actions, and our daily quest for Aletheia, we are individuating this powerful Being, bringing it into our world.

This is it. This is the key. Aletheia. Thank you, Tapio.

Feb 4, 2012

The Ship of Theseus


The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned [from Crete] had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.                        —Plutarch

Read more here concerning The Ship Of Theseus.


I don't really see the Ship of Theseus as a paradox because I don't admit the subject/object dichotomy, except as a tool of language.

The ship exists as a phenomenon in a moment of time. The phenomenon  changes as time changes. Since there is no real self-hood with ontic beings, there is nothing to remain the same. The fact that we call the ship by the same name, even after every part has been replaced, is a quirk of language, not really describing reality as it actually is.

I think there is confusion concerning the definition of "the same," as the Wikipedia article discusses. The whole thing about Aristotle's four causes seems to be based entirely on the subject/object mistake, in my estimation.

I would say that the ship is "ontic," i.e. it has factual existence (see  "ontic" in Wikipedia). This is different from "ontological." Ontological applies only to humans, since they are the only beings to ask questions  about their own being. Non-questioning phenomena are ontic.
Yes, this is very Heideggerian. ;-)

Ta'wil and the Daimon

We might think of the daimon as the ego of one's entelechy, the personification within one's psyche of the higher presence (Jean Houston, A Mythic Life, page 130). . .
Many of us have read James Hillman's wonderful book, Soul's Code, where he discusses the daimon, along with his acorn theory of Soul (See my essay, Follow Your Star, for my thoughts on the daimon). I've always imagined the daimon to be similar to a guardian angel, as in Catholicism. I have learned recently, from reading Tom Cheetham, that this idea is of Zoroastrian origin, and is very prevalent in Sufi mysticism. I have been aware for years that the daimon is a messenger, which is the meaning of the word "angel." Until reading about Henry Corbin's work, I didn't realize how truly important these messengers are for all of us. 

Hillman's acorn theory is really just the introduction to what I will call the Messenger. In the exchanges between Hillman and Michael Ventura (We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy--and the World is getting Worse), Hillman discusses a self-portrait of Pablo Picasso that he painted at the age of ninety-one. It is called Le Jeune Peintre (The Young Painter). It shows a child holding a brush and wearing a floppy hat. He has a happy smile and seems to be enjoying his life immensely. Hillman is of the opinion that it is the image of an acorn painted by an oak; Picasso painted his Mesenger at the end of his physical life, having realized the being of his daimon. Jean Houston says of the painting, "it is the portrait of the seed of the entelechy painted by the fully realized self" (ibid.). Hillman also comments that this portrait confirms Henry Corbin's idea that we are not individuating ourselves at all; throughout our lives, we are actually individuating our Messenger. The thought comes to mind of Jung's Bollingen Tower. Was the tower Jung's materialization in stone of his daimon? I think so.

Hillman goes on to discuss Henry Corbin's thoughts on the Islamic idea of ta'wil, the Sufi art of hermeneutics, or interpretative reading. We must "read life itself." Our Messenger is trying to individuate into this world, to manifest itself; it is up to us to read and properly interpret the Messenger's life and being into ours.

I am just learning about these exciting things, so I may not be conveying these ideas accurately; bear with me. I am trying to listen closely to my Messenger.


LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...