Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Random Thoughts on the Shadow, Human and Divine

Photo of my hands by Michael G. Reed
(All rights reserved by Michael Reed)
Random slamdom part-thoughts >>>> Goethe: "“Everything which affects us is merely stimulation, and we have to thank God if something is touched up and we hear a melody.”
"Things with hands take hands." - Theodore Roethke 

This in my inbox today...2 Jung quotes...whenever a quote about the "shadow" arrives or a client (or friend) shares a shadow dream I know that I have to once again take a look at my shadow parts (too many!) to see if I am feeding them consciously for they crave conscious relationship leading, so Jung asserts, to expanded consciousness, to a wholeness or what I call "holdness" for wholeness is not perfect, it is not "all light" but is, rather, a strong container in which all things do dwell, yes, Virginia, the shadow dwells there especially (whether invited or not), the imperfect, the shadow (what Da Free John calls all our "hairy jiggly meatedness"), the instinctual, the power drives, the repressed, sublimated and projected-outward parts, as well as sublimities, subtleties and refinements, etc. All these contrarieties and innately opposing and imposing forces create the Chaos in which we, our egos, also dwell, strive and contend with. We shape our very selves out of an unconscious chaos into chaos where order, logos, meaning is or attempts to be imposed and reinforced via culture. 
When shadow is made conscious to us in dreams and the dream of life an AFGO has arrived. AFGO?
Another Fucking Growth Opportunity!!
The simplest and clearest definition of shadow work I have ever read is in a poem by zen practicioner and Jungian analyst John Tarrant, Spell To Be Recited For Banishing Loneliness...I'll paste the first verse here and then at the end of the Jung quotes post the entire poem which offers further being with the contrarieties in ourselves, in others, our culture, in our species and, as many would have it, in existence itself. A basic alienation and estrangement inherent in existence is written much of. Carl Jung offers a very plausible explanation of this experience/perception which I will present in another post soon. Hint: it has to do with coming out of primary unconsciousness as a species and into the new brain consciousness which is an awareness of our existence itself, the shock and awe and terror of that "waking up" out of what Ken Wilber calls Typhonic consciousness, the consciousness of "the people of the first light", our ancestral humans first awakened out of old animal brain and awareness and into reflexive self-consciousnss/awareness which underscores (the beginning of) symbolic perceiving, thinking, making sense of in order to orient ourselves in the swarm of life itself, powerful forces of life and death, survival, drives which compel/propel animal human behavior toward territory, mates, food and water sources, etc. all the while the questions cascade as to what conscious human existence is all about and, ultimately, what IS existence about? why is there something rather than nothing? The problem of oneness and seperateness, of the One and the Many, singularity vs multiplicity, and what is the One summation that explains it all. Ken Wilber wrote a book titled, The Theory of Everything. Same old and vital quest from first humans to wherever we are on the "brood and food" brain chain:

Like a good Zen student Mephistopheles
says "Myself am hell."
So all the old accounts are mistaken.
We need to translate,
the meanings are turned around:
for his screams, read "delight,"
and for the tortures he undergoes,
read "he does not shut out
any part of himself."

The last two lines define shadow work and the "right attitude" toward ourselves in that work:

"he does not shut out
any part of himself."

As we may know Mephistopheles, the archetypal/prototypical "human" represents Western culture/religion, meaning, all of us who find themselves in the West whether born here or immigrant, is confronted with his darkest shadow in the Faustus myth and play(s), that shadow is Power (Jung said that the opposite of Power is Love)...he does not succeed in integrating that shadow (like most of us and most likely none or very few of us will BUT we must and can do the work as we can. Jung says this does greatly contribute to the mitigation of the forces of shadow individually, societally and helps to transform the shadow of Western diety too). Shadow work is not only the primary work in all of Western philosophy/religion/culture/society but also of all cultures of the world be they diiferently spiced/flavored. Humans inherit the same psyche, the unconsious the world o're though the archetypes will be conformed/altered to the unique culture/group it is activated in. 
Move ahead to late 20th century after the development of psychoanalytical mapping(s) of the human psyche and with the arrival of Eastern and other mystical traditions in the West (and in the East the West has arrived with its Jesus, its capitalism = aquisition/accumulation/expansion of craving/desire and build a god almighty empire of one or of many serving that one). Religions of indigenous and primal cultures the world over have made an impact. These approaches very much involve conscious relationship with those darker aspects of shadow, perhaps some conscious assimilation of some of these techniques, attitudes and approaches toward the ineffable, we individually and collectively may have a better chance for integrating a fingernail's worth of archetypal, collective and personal shadow. Most certainly these primal religious relations are open to and welcoming of the instinctual sensate aspects of bodlily being and of Nature. 
Jung (as well as many others who have consciously entered the territory/geography of the psyche and its many levels) discovered that the most essential place to start our consciousness work is with with the personal shadow. Much good work can get done there. Freud and post-Freudians have done and continue to do remarkable theoretical and practical work with the personal complexes and shadow. Jung worked that level too all the while recognizing the collective unconscious (and its shadow) which is inherited in our DNA and in the particular culture one is born into, into the intimate culture of immediate family, geneology, race, town, state, nation, and location on the planet. Jung emphasized the archetypal/transpersonal fundaments of personal psychology and personhood. We persons appear to be the species capable of making trans- and other than human personal personal, consciously, subjectively (feelingly) related to. As is related in more detail below, we are creatures of conscious response, a human conscious response, to existence itself which "appeals" to us, as the existentialists have said it and I think correctly, and wants/needs a response from us to give it its "esse" or being as subjectively experienced. Existence, says poet Rilke, "to somehow strangely require us" human creatures and it "longs for an invisible re-arising in us" in order to be somehow ontologically verified and trued. I'll buy that. 

The first Jung quote below states the intimate relationship between archetypal shadow, collective shadow and the personal shadow and the "demonic" impact of all three in self, other, culture and, yes, all living systems which are and constitute our planet:

"No, the demons are not banished; that is a difficult task that still lies ahead. Now that the angel of history has abandoned the Germans, the demons will seek a new victim. And that won’t be difficult. Every man who loses his shadow, every nation that falls into self-righteousness, is their prey…. We should not forget that exactly the same fatal tendency to collectivization is present in the victorious nations as in the Germans, that they can just as suddenly become a victim of the demonic powers.” 

"Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the shadow and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” Carl Jung 


Photo of my hands by Michael G. Reed
All rights reserved to M.G. Reed

This by Da Free John or Adi Da (the guru with a thousand name, a trickster for sure) to add to the mix, from his book of talks, The Dreaded Gomboo:

Master Da: If you want to "get religious" in our time you must first decide that you have the Dreaded Gom-Boo. Then you go to Doctor Pope, Doctor Church, Doctor Jesus, Doctor Mahatma, Doctor Mahatmaboo, Doctor Gombooananda, Doctor Gomananda-Booharaj. As soon as you get the feeling that you have the disease, you start to look for religious answers. Ask most the people around you how they got involved with this Way of Life, and they will describe some symptom or other of the Dreaded Gom-Boo. The Dreaded Gom-Boo led you all here because you were looking to be cured of the heebie-jeebies, the hopefull Three-Day-Thumb-and-Finger Problem, the terrible jiggly meatedness! (Laughter)
Are you telling me that you think God and Truth are supposed to be interested in curing you of the Dreaded Gom-Boo? Is that it? It is about time you realized there there is no cure for the Dreaded Gom-Boo! The Gom is terrible! The Boo is terminal! And this is what you've got, right? I thought so! I could see symptoms as soon as you came in here. Have you got the Boo? The Dreaded? The terrible Gom? Have you? That's what I thought! Tell me true- have you got the Gom-Boo?"


The entire John Tarrant poem could teach an entire course on this one poem...first, amplify its references, Mephistopheles (Faustus and the entire Western religious/cultural tradition), Zen (the entire Eastern religious and cultural tradition and its developmental relationship to human consciousness), HELL (there is an archetypal hell and there is also an evolution of that archetype via human consciousness through millenia), the "accounts" (the oevre of accounts from archeology, cave walls, artifacts, architecture, language itself, earliest conscious human responses to being awake in the 10,000 things, and ensuing developments (advances, or branchings out into many possibilities of understanding), words/meaning(s) themselves and how they shape and therefore construct a model of "reatlity" which is mistaken for reality itself.
The human response to all this is "respondeo ergo sum" translated "I respond, therefore I am" - and in this response therefore everything else IS also....a simple definition of pathological narcissism is "where there is no self, or "esse" (being) there is no other" which is also a practical definition of nihilism as well as psychopathology).
The human response is creative, compassionate, curious, (the 2nd and 3rd verses). The human response is not only intellectual ("what is?") but also and necessarily emotional. 
Zorba the Greek speaks of living "the full catastrophe" which is a way of also saying, "He does not shut out any part of himself (or existence, for that matter). Tall order, indeed. VERY tall order and not an "ego ideal" or prescription for the
Rather, more about PRESENCE, showing up, being-in, being-for, being-with all that is. Again, tall order. In all this being with/for/in-ness is also the reality of human limitation, our pre-human origins, instincts, DNA, primary codings...
...the last two verses implicitly reveal a presense of mind for being in/for/with which includes our "hairy jigglely meatedness" with which we humans have collectively been at war with since the new brain woke us up into "humans, cognitively aware" that we be, we are and WTF?. 
With enough growth in consciousness we each and collectively develop more agency in our choices are responses (not reactions which come directly from the unconscious/instincts), viz flower arrangment, really perceiving "flower" and the subtle yet palpable power of human hands to "bring out of things the light that is inside them" as well as the power to bring out things darkness, the shadow (for it is always/already there, the raw and rich stuff from which we came and must learn to not only live with but to actually more consciously LIVE. 
An axiom re: shadow is: "You got to live it or live with it."

Spell To Be Recited For Banishing Loneliness by John Tarrant

Like a good Zen student Mephistopheles
says "Myself am hell."
So all the old accounts are mistaken.
We need to translate,
the meanings are turned around:
for his screams, read "delight,"
and for the tortures he undergoes,
read "he does not shut out
any part of himself."
I make a flower arrangement
of frangipani like a froth of stars
and a black eucalypt twig.
I don't care why I am lonely;
it's the taste of copper dust and the ringing of hammers,
the feeling of being so huge
that I don't know what's inside.
For despair, read
"when I stare and stare at a flower
it's bigger than me,"
and for grief, read
"the gentleness of my hands brings out of things
the light that is inside them."

Sketch by Aris Moore
All rights to this image are Aris Moore's
You may contact her here:

I paste a link to one of the most influential books I have ever read (and continually reread parts of, this last chapter especially), Existentialism and the Modern Predicament by H.R. Heinemann. This link gets you the entire book online though there are typos as a result its copy and pasting onto the webpage...still it is readable. Scroll down to the last chapter, XII Respondeo Ergo Sum. Don't fret over the discursive discussion of Descartes's famous Cogitio Ergo Sum (I think therefore I am) that most literate people have familiarity with via its tendency to be quotes popularly.

Here are the opening few paragraphs:


This diversion has, I hope, cleared the ground for
introducing response instead of question and answer” as a
key-symbol. Response is more general than answer
which is restricted to speech. Response is an answer
originally given not in words, but in movements, reactions,
feelings, impulses, etc. *'To respond” may therefore
simply mean ^^to show sensitiveness to stimulus by change
of behaviour”. In order to make the connection with,
and the difference from, Descartes’ starting-point as clear
as possible, 
I formulate the first principle as Respondeo ergo
sum- I respond, therefore I am . This principle is not
offered as a truth of indubitable certainty from which
other likewise indubitable propositions -would be derived.
Like Descartes’ Cogito^ ergo sum, it is a matter-of-fact truth,
and not a truth of reason. It does not intend to formulate
more than a key-symbol for the co-ordination of the differ-
ent spheres of our experience, a key-symbol which reveals
to us some of the mysteries of human existence. 
I am in so far as I respond. 
I arise on all levels of my being (body, sense-organs, soul and mind) only by responding... 
...As long as he is alive he responds ; when he is dead he no
longer responds. In fact, our sense-organs are formed in
response to, and as receptacles of, very specific stimuli. 
They would never have arisen except as an answer to these
stimuli, and would be very different in a world in which
other stimuli prevail...
...Our key-symbol allows us further to find a basis for
ethics. Man’s position in the Universe is unique in that
he, as a responding being, becomes answerable for his
actions. This is the moral aspect of his freedom.
Respondeo, ergo sum now means that I am in so far as I
accept responsibility for my actions. It is quite impossible
to discuss here the complex problem of responsibility in its
legal, moral and religious aspect. I can only stress that
without responsiveness there would be no responsibility.
The latter may be defined, for brevity’s sake, as the
condition of a free agent who is conscious of having acted
in a certain way and has the ability to account for his
motives. Responsibility implies the feeling of being
answerable to somebody for something, i.e. for a course of
action which either does or does not conform to a specific
rule. It arises, not as total responsibility in total solitude,
but either as limited responsibility in specific circumstances
or as an absolute responsibility before God. 
Finally, our key-symbol allows us to understand religion.
Man is the only being able to respond to stimuli outside the
“world” of animals. Man alone responds to God, speaks
with God, and prays to God. This fact gives us the clue for
understanding rehgion and the mystics, without forcing us
to admit the claim of the mystics to experience ultimate
reality. The hypothesis is that religion is based on a specific
type of responsiveness of the spiritual centre of man to the
Transcendent, i.e. to powers transcending the sphere of
sense-experience. Religion is not based on a feeling of
dependence (Schleiermacher), nor is it “the knowledge of
the Absolute in a finite consciousness” (Hegel). It is
based on a response to the Absolute which has the power
of elevating man above the misery of earthly turmoil and
of redeeming him. What matters is the manner in which
we respond, not whether God answers or not. In fact,
we can never be sure of an answer. Moreover the
Universe, in which to live is our privilege and fate, is
merely potentially responsive, but actually, in many
respects, utterly unresponsive. 
This is the paradox of the human condition. Living
in complete insecurity under the constant menace of
annihilation, we experience the unreliability of human
institutions and the instability of all finite objects. In our
despair we are inclined to doubt everything, even God’s
existence, of whom we cannot and shall not make an image.
But at the height of our suffering, when everything seems
to break down, suddenly we find ourselves confronted with
an unconditional request which we have to answer. In
such moments we experience God, and we learn that it
is we who have to respond. We have to find our affirma-
tion, which as a personal truth becomes objective if in very
fact it be the right answer to the transcendent call in this
specific situation. It is we who have to do those actions
without which the eternal Light cannot conquer the forces
of darkness. END

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Small Favors Of Mourning - An Early Journey, A Later Arrival (Almost)

Stars, as well as friends,
Are angry with the noble ruin.
Saints depart in several directions.
Be still:
There is no longer any need of comment.
It was a lucky wind
That blew away his halo with his cares,
A lucky sea that drowned his reputation.
Here you will find
Neither a proverb nor a memorandum.
There are no ways,
No methods to admire
Where poverty is no achievement.
His God lives in his emptiness like an affliction...
— Thomas Merton, from the poem "When In the Soul of the Serene Disciple, from A Thomas Merton Reader

"A song to go with your image de moi now that Value is and will be internalized, integrated and is foundation for the further raison d'etre revealing first unpublished book of poetry writ in my 20's and early 30's, pitiful things with some shining moments of image, a musical phrase, an imagistic apt saying/conveying, is titled, 

Small Favors of Mourning.  

It spilled out one basement morning in Harlem 1982 as I wrote a dream for my upcoming analysis session (Jungian)...I had moved to NYC, it suddenly occurred to basemented-me, to consciously mourn the first third of my existence...thank god for William Blake, Rilke, Roethke, Eliot, Kenneth Patchen (a constant companion in my coat pocket always), Asian poets and the very many other poets, writers, artists, musicians and, yes, mystics and misfits of the church and Church (Thomas Merton, others) who ratified the mystic in me whose name, Dark Night, was given to me by an old Swiss-German nun smelling of soap and incense (but not peppermint) on a Greyhound bus crossing the nation east to west late '70's middle of and through the long straight highway night, she with her rosary praying/sleeping/counting an occassional bead between snores leaning in hard upon my left shoulder...I was reading Merton, the Thomas Merton Reader, selections from his then published writing and though I was not yet officially Jungian (but one in soul already) I knew it, She, was no accident...she was curious about me and my Merton book and the other, The Journal of Albion Moonlight by Kenneth Patchen..."vas ist dis Chournal?" she asks me in the illuminated spotlight cone of overhead buslight to read by, "dis Passion fellow?"  

I explain what I know of him, his extreme physical anguish from crippling arthritis, his prolific creativity of writing poetry, prose, and paintings, collages, his readings with jazz musicians playing along with him, his profound mysticism which does not escape the world of suffering but finds the mystical within that very world and its very suffering.  

"Ah," she smiles, nodding her head, pleased, "like Ch-esus, like all mystics, dis suffering renders us to IT, zee mystical, or ist alvays like dis but IT ist such sveetness dis...yah?" Silence. Her hands disappear into the massive folds of her habit, they appear to dig deeply into her thighs but then eventually a hand emerges in the cone of light overhead, opens, a handful of caramels. "So good," she giggles pulling up her shoulders joyfully partaking of a forbidden pleasure. She shares her candy soft and body warm from her deep, dare I say, mystical folds, a pouch, an altar in there somewhere with a crucifix, a scapular, and a bag of Kraft caramels. At her request I read her some Patchen:

"(In my foolish youth, beholding one noxious thing after another, I marvelled at the purity, the kindness, gentleness, sweetness, modesty, and essential goodness of mankind; the mystery increases within me. Right or wrong, rain or shine, I am a man of faith and good works. I no longer despair of the future; yet, having once more considered the matter, despair of it I must . . . 
I am hungry for a good, solid individuality...)" 


"JULY 17 - My window is thrown open by the rain; it beats in with the aggressiveness of liberty. Somewhere church bells peal out over the drenched fields--the eaves drip Sunday. There is something vulgar and satisfying about it . . .On the bed Jackeen lies, her arms flung wide and a perilous spittal on her lips. The hour has come . . ."

Sister, or Mother (I was not at all savvy to Catholic heirachrical designations), nods her head once, slowly. Silence. "I vill pray...I vill pray for zis Passion fellow. He ist und gut man . . . not too long in zie purgatory . . . I feel he has made some-zing beautiful in "zie Hell, from zie fire, for God who ist also fire, who may, I pray, throw open all our windows," she opens both hands and flings outward, "like vat it ist, a rain of liberty..."  

I stare at her incredulously. Wha'? In all my Fundamentalist Calvinist upbringing and education/indoctrination I had never EVER heard such a miraculous statement. Unable to fully comprehend what she said, it IS indeed a Mystery, I nevertheless felt it resonate deeply in my very being, my body being. This, thought I, is Grace indeed...and a chore for me too. Like Passion's, to render "sompzing beautiful from zie Hell." 

Dawn is coming on and in between her dozes and caramels we speak of Merton. Between her sleeps and prayers, bead, snore, by bead, snore, of mystical presence, snore, and suffering, snore, the meaning of an eternally suffering "Jesus" (or Ch-esus in her Cherman charming accented English) who refuses to leave His Cross until all creatures great and small in all forms know the liberating loving presense of the Father is gently suggested...she is the first to reframe my own suffering, "zie Hell" and longing in such a way as I had yet been able to feel was possible/true/accurate and therefore orienting, making meaning of the chaos that was my history and zie then present on-the-bus-in-zie-veeds me.

Just before she exits in Phoenix, pressing another caramel into my palm she quietly says to me, "Here [or was it "hear"?], dear Dark Night [I look around for whom she's calling Dark Night] , some sveetness for your chourney 
t-rough zie Dark Night...He [the mystical Christ, the Shining Stranger] ist sveeter than zis hint [the candy] but take zie Hint und you vill find zat Joy comes as a surprise in zie morning..." She squeezes my hand, full. O full by buslight, in cone light. Darkness yielding to just dawning light, an always everyday new horizon.

Moved, uncomfortable, but knowing that she is probably an angel sent to me at the right time, I accept her candy, her message, and ponder silently as exquisite austere desert expanse passes by the window of my inward-searching and yearning.

Passion/Patchen writes, insists:

"Do not overreach the sky; you will only have another world to contend with...

With the policeman in the alley's black lip. The approach to the inner city. Cats clawing the face of a slobbering drunk. We men at washlines. Chimneys stretching up like the red, pocked thighs of siphillistic crones...

The green tea being poured down the rough throats of the cabmen...

The head of the universe pissing into the gutter...

The great deal of slack to that little lady's churchly ways...

The handsome behind me eats an orange by the garden wall...

The wind blows out the flowers' brains. Not too dark, God. Not too cold, God. Not too lonely, God. What is the case against me?...

I plead guilty. (Get my heirs to explain this.) My parents and friends will attest to the solemnity of my deportment...

Was that a drop of rain?...

Lower childhood into the furrow made by a hurricane of birds....

Close the door on this cell . . . I lament for mankind."

Next stop, unplanned, mid-desert, past midnight, nowhere, further west, opens a bus door. Enters a young Native American youth, probably 16 or 17 years old, sits next to me...he smells of booze and cigarettes. And sweat. He shivers from waiting for hours afer-sunset cold desert sands. He too falls asleep on my shoulder. First a nun, now a young Indian youth, hair long, thin frame pressed against my shoulder/body, perfectly shaped tears slowly falling from his sleeping eyes, I wonder "just what is this bus I have caught for my journey to the west?" 

At a bus stop in another town he awakens looking a little frightened and confused...looks at me puzzled..."we're in ______," I say (can't remember the town)...He blinks, shakes his head, rubs his eyes and face hard and long to adjust himself, to inwardly orient to the moment in his hands, behind his face, and beyond it/them. I offer him a caramel. He takes it. He offers me a sip of whiskey from a small bottle. I decline. A large orange moon slowly lifts though his proffered bottle from behind a jagged dark purple mountain range

Is it
dawn shoe

the Orange

the old
animal heat
turns in on

beneath skin

the bone bruise
fuses out
against what
yearning once
meant in





We strike up a conversation...he tells me he is on his way to ________ to get his brother out of jail. What? his younger brother is in jail, I can't remember why. He's going to get his brother out of the jailhouse and then they are going together, he says staring onto some distant but present invisible map of a plan, "to leave the res..." There are friends and some distant family in California so that is the destination.  

He was orphaned, raised "on the res by the res", grandmothers, families...he is devoted to his brother whom he is very protective of, AND he also loves to dance.  


"Yes, pow wow dance, but," looks shyly out the window, "I want to be a ballet dancer."  

WOW. What?! (this in my thoughts, not said)...

"I saw ballet dance on my cousin's tv and knew that's what I want to do...I love pow wow dance, too, but that's a different thing. I want to fly like ballet dancers do. And I can learn to dance ballet in LA." 

I admire his clear vision though his daily vision is blurred by orphan light and deserted desert plight. He has had his "vision" though via television as have millions of youths now. And he is going to get his brother out of jail, get to LA, settle in, find a ballet school, and dance. Stunned. How much poignancy can I stand from this vortex of a bus ride, this waking dream? The Sister and the Warrior Dancer and me with my lost fartedness and nunfall of caramels, a mystic book, no, two, to eat/drink/think from.  

We connect. Daniel, his name. Daniel Eaglefeather. He thinks that I am Indian (I have some Cherokee from my mom's side and, then time of that ride, I have long dark brown hair and her (mom's) high cheekbones, I am thin with a dreamy but thoughtful look my head always in a book or a cloud reverie) and when he hears my name he exclaims, "Falcon! you Indian, man!" 

Whiskey bottle almost empty, the bus pulls into his destination for brother retrieval. We embrace after I buy us some coffee, some donuts, some peanuts. "No whiskey. Buy you and your brother a good meal then move on out toward the Pacific." I give him $5 bucks of the $10 that I have to my name. He grins, intense, concentratred eyes flashing, turns quickly toward his mission, he is prepared to battle and to even kill to set his brother free, so rushes out the door into the blinding glare of the too too clean streets the 

too too straight 

too too rigid streets 

their planned

murdering geometry

their belly laugh

their gut punch
and rabbit

that moment
of consent
with bridges
orange sky

and assholes
a cigarette
each hand a
bottle of gin

a back pocket
search for
quinine the
brine of men

the run-on
trousers limp
the cobbled
street where
a spring





Why all this recounting? 

All this recounting has to do with the sketched wings, I think.  

And Calling/Vocation, or "raison d'etre" which is daimon - the unique force that drives the stem of the flower, or life, and prayer even when I could then, though young, only "kneel where prayer had once been valid" (T.S. Eliot), already disconsolate.

As the bus pulls out of the jailing city I am conscious enough to pray to the "Mother/Sister/Angel of Mount Caramel" and Thomas Merton and to Daniel's ancestor spirits, the Elements, the Great Spirit, that he be successful in his mission to liberate his brother O Israel from captivity and to become his dream, his wounding into Beauty ("Beauty before me, Beauty behind me...that Hopi Prayer), a ballet dancer.  

I didn't know it then but I was already at my own work in my own way and with my own fledgling already molting wings - "what I do is me/for that I came" (Gerard Manley Hopkins) - what I DO now, who I am now...those early years of childhood/youthful mourning, by the time I got to NYC, not Phoenix, not at all rising, but deeply depressed "these my greatest sufferings (Duino Rilke), had begun to yield some small but signifant and signifying fruit and though the inner weather was despondency-much I began to find that hope, as Emily Dickinson sings, "is that thing with wings" a feather of meaning beginning to arrive from the alchemical sullenities the post-teen murmurs mutters smatterings which brought little surprises of grace - insights, aha's, what I found myself writing down in a Harlem basement room o dark dark as - "small favors" arriving from the big fissures and fractures already

much the

falls for
(One) love
each night
from the

of pitch 

avenue smells
of singed

a humming
boy hums

pokes bits
of scalp on
the walk

white thumbs
alone touch
the white
lattice kiosk

selling the
face again





- from "Midnight In Dostoyevsky", Norman Nightingale, from The Cathected Poems.

So, good news is - 

joy, new Value, new meaning, continually comes through the mourning into the new morning, the new Center, the new raison d'etre formed from/built upon the foundation of the earlier one(s) and always based upon transpersonal fundaments/dynamics seeking to be lived uniquely new life by life, person by person.

I am still, now more than ever 
"Madly Singing In the Mountains" 
- Po Chu-I (772-846)  

There is no one among men that has not a special failing; 
And my failing consists in writing verses.
I have broken away from the thousand ties of life; 
But this infimity still remains behind.
Each time I look at a fine landscape, 
Each time that I meet a loved friend, 
I raise my voice and recite a stanza of poetry
And marvel as though a God had crossed my path.
Ever since the day I was banished to Hsun-yang
Half my time I have lived among the hills.
And often, when I have finished a new poem, 
Alone I climb the road to the Eastern Rock.
I lean my body on the banks of white stone; 
I pull down with my hands a green cassia branch.
My mad singing startles the valleys and hills; 
The apes and birds all come to peep.
Fearing to become a laughing-stock to the world, 
I choose a place that is unfrequented by men.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Father Will's Biography & 2 Dreams, "The Vale" & "The Constable"

Some Gratuitious Autobiographical Thoughts

[Should you wish to go directly to further account of Father Will, his biography and more dreams during the counseling work scroll down to
I believe that James' division of the two types of spiritual health, albeit pragmatic and convenient for rational discussion does not actually acknowledge the fact that both experiences are within and are optionally available as response for every individual. Carl Jung, who studied and greatly valued James, helpfully discovered the binary nature of human consciousness, simply put, that whatever is in the conscious mind has its opposite equally and powerfully in the unconscious which manifest as shadow, symptom and synchronicity for "what one does not live consciously," says Jung, "one is destined to live as Fate". If one is as James says temperamentally healthy-minded then the "sick-soul" attitude is in the unconscious and shows up as shadow and symptom in the self-identified (meaning ego-identified) healthy-minded one. Positive "mind-cure" approaches automatically engender tremendous resistance against locating and integrating the so-called "sick souled" aspect of oneself. Sick souledness is shadow in the healthy-minded one and is destined to be lived as fate, both consciously and unconsciously.

Having personally studied and spent years amongst both religious attitudes which are temperaments I can attest that the denial of the negative side of human experience and of evil is just as unhealthy as the overbearing negative sick souled emphasis I encountered in Protestant Christianity of the Calvinist ilk. More bred in the latter the time spent in the former was well-spent but at some point became out of balance until I realized that both approaches are expressions of the soul which is inclusive of both. I recall here a client overly identified with the healthy-minded viewpoint in compensation for too much suffering in childhood and adolescence. He began to dream repeatedly of high buildings and expansive climbing bridges terrifyingly collapsing. He dreamed of being on the edge of ledges and cliffs at great heights with powerful forces which he could not resist pulling him into the abyss. In other dreams planes fell out of skies, mountains crumbled into seas or into the earth. Having read widely of New Age material regarding thoughts "creating your own reality" and a student of psychic channeling he interpreted the dreams as precognitive and psychic rather than beginning with his need to come down to earth and deal with the painful side of his personal history and the tragic side of existence. It was only when his hair began to fall out in clumps that he began to confront his past, discover compassion and the healthiness of wholing powerful human emotions which the New Age books and channels had discouraged and judged as unhealthy contributors of his, the culture's, and the sickness. I must confess that this is one of the most prevalent and most difficult of belief systems to work with. To take a cue from a client's dreams like these and begin to gently approach the message of imbalance in too much "positive, high-up thinking" puts one in an awkward position as an advocate for the darker side, the down side of things, existence, behaviors, energies. Although I do not seek to change a person's personal belief system nor should I, I have found that the Psyche does which is why I pay attention to dreams.

In my own healing work and psychoanalysis my symptoms, complexes and dreams (night ones, and the dream of waking life) engender ongoingly, without caring for my ego and it conscious beliefs, a "confrontation with the unconscious", to quote one of the most important chapters in Jung's autobiography, Memories,Dreams, Reflections, deconstructing and destroying like my client's skyscrapers falling down along with the waking dream of his hair, my one-sided ego identifications/reifications evident in behaviors derived from what Jung calls the ego complex, the conscious and unconscious beliefs, deductions, conclusions and contusions about my personal existence and the cosmos in general. The psyche addresses, guides, corrects and, yes, demands a change of mind with one's persona and behavior altering (often with resistance, fear and trembling or with relief, joy and relish!) to accommodate the greater wholeness being insisted upon by what Jung calls the "Self", that totality that we are of which the ego is only a part and can know only in part thus the importance of a conscious relationship to one's dreams and the Imagination. This cuts both ways as the psyche also can assert, yea, insist the overtly too positive upon tho ego-identified dour sour puss of self. The psyche does not want saintliness and perfection but rather wholeness which does not mean perfection but, rather, maturing, ripening, evolving and developing in time as one intergrates both positive and negative aspects of self, the opposites, which insist upon living what Zorba the Greek calls the "full catastrophe" of fuller humanity, haloes and hellholes as equally valid options of expression and creation depending upon psychic balances, circumstance and awareness.

Perhaps my biggest "beef" with both healthy-minded and sick-souled religious approaches is that they both deny their opposite while elevating one over the other thus forcing the split in human consciousness further into the shadows and therefore guaranteeing painful yet meaningful, ultimately and essentially creative confrontations with the unconscious. Peter Brooks, the gifted British director of plays and films, in a documentary interview about the life of Jungian analyst, the late Helen Luke, spoke of his "being a realist. If one is an optimist one is too imbalanced. If one is a pessimist, likewise. Being a realist gives one helpful and multi-dimensional recourse to full spectrum living with access to both realities of optimism and pessimism thus enriching life, its experience, its meaning and its art.

This "mind-cure" belief system is still very much the stuff of American popular culture and religion and one only need peruse bookstores on and offline to find how pervasive these paradoxically dangerous and toxic-because-one sided pragmatic "positive thinking" beliefs are which mostly deny and certainly, if acknowledged at all, judge and devalue, the dark, tragic and evil aspects of human existence.

Much of New Thought, Science of Mind and other "new" religious movements derived and developed from "mind-cure" and current New Age and psychically channeled material derives and repeats "mind-cure" beliefs. Interestingly, it is no accident that Jane Roberts, probably the most famous and widely read "best seller" channeler in the hippie and post-hippie New Age movement wrote a channeled book called "The Afterlife Journal of William James." Roberts claims to have never read James but James, American pragmatism, New Thought and other positive and spiritualistic belief systems are such a part of the American psyche and culture, brilliantly intuitive though Roberts perhaps was, it is not a stretch to think that many could have set down something of this American "mind-cure" without knowing of any of these men or movements. It is not necessary today especially since one needs only to tune in popular culture, TV talk shows, films espousing "The Secret" and "Bleeps", Fields of Dreams and reams of channeled material purveying anti-intellectual, non-critical thinking pablum appealing to reptilian brain, child mind and the quest for stuff which we are told will make one happy.

I highly recommend Louis Menand's excellent book, The Metaphysical Club, where he explores in detail the historical personages and personalities of American pragmatism. If one is at all conversant with New Age, New Thought, Science of Mind, Jane Roberts, the Hickeys and other channeled material Menand's book provides foundation to what has come to be a religious phenomenon of positive thinking that could never have happened anywhere but in the United States.

Will's Dream and the Dream of His-Story

Will's dream of dying, his sudden intuitive insistence upon hearing "of the Resurrection" set within the immensities and extremes of remoteness, of heights, of depths, and of majestic yet cold and cruel Nature out the retreat master's window, of the givens of sickness, decay and death, depict his inner tumult as does the violent sea wrack wrenching rendering stone and soil from the yielding shore into the relentless sucking sea. A former religious (one who takes vows and joins a religious order) who lived the severities and austerities required, according to Will's early enthusiatic beliefs, , in order to cultivate holiness requisite for relationship to Go post-ordination into priesthood he eventually left the order after a series of recurring dreams of Vocation where he was continually tending to an abject dieing man in a third world country in extreme poverty. With permission from his abbot he left the order and joined one who served the poor and dieing of India, then East Pakistan. He was there, a young man, during The Bangladesh Liberation War, an armed conflict pitting West Pakistan against East Pakistan (two halves of one country) and India, which resulted in the secession of East Pakistan to become the independent nation of Bangladesh. Many men, women and children were displaced, starved, killed in the warfare or died of diseases.

It was in Bangladesh Will became one "well acquainted with grief" ( Isaiah 53:3). His exposure to sustained human suffering took its toll psychologically, calling into question the supposed goodness of an All Good God. His faith in tremendous crisis, he took his daily and sustaining grace from encounters with the living and the dieing, their attempts at affirming life in the midst of ongoing human catastrophe. He reverently told me of children playing witha mostly deflated soccer ball in the midst of human carnage wit and immediacy of ecstatic presense as only children can have in their resilient innocence. Will feelingly spoke of the passion of Christ, the suffering, the crucifixion, the burial and of the account that while He was dead He descended into hell to minister to the lost souls there. We both mused that if such was indeed the case, that the Great Physician spent time in hell then hell would never be the same after that. We were amused together about "when was the last time you heard a good sermon preached on this most obvious and revolutionary story of Compassion's descent into hell therefore hell would never be the same again from such a Visitation and assumed liberation. Will willed himself to live in the antinomy of the meaningless suffering he witnessed and ministered to and the mystery of the Paschal Christ suffering, dieing, descending into hell and being present with those there. His dream urgency to hear of the Resurrection speaks to his lack of belief in it as a living experience but for the incidents of human kindness in the midst of injustice, cruelty, and suffering.

After some years in Bangladesh Will served the poor in various orders in Africa and eventually, semi-retired, returned to New York City where he taught in several seminaries. The extreme contrast between America, its extraverted materialistic values, New York City being a glaring example, and emphasis upon the self, upon money and all it can buy, became toxic for him. The almost comical and maudlin mostly media-driven "god talk and spirit talk" he heard daily from politicians to TV preachers to talk show hosts, the consumerization of not only Christianity but of other world religions parsed and piece-milled together by choice (remember, America is pragmatic, one picks and chooses a belief by ego and will) in a hodge podge porridge of sentiment and show ("namaste") appalled him. He could not identify with the almost protoplasmic drive of American "greed and gimme gimme", and the apparent, he felt, unholy wedding of many religious institutions, including the one he spent his life within, and spiritual belief systems. From the conservative Christian prosperity gospel to New Age "think and be rich" spirituality which are actually one and the same in terms of means to monetary ends he found himself more and more alienated. He also reacted to the mania, what James Hillman has pointed out as a manic defense, passed off as "happiness" in one of the most, if not the most, depressed country in the world ironically devoted to, in part, "the pursuit of happiness".

He, too, became depressed, a man without a country in his native land, his isolation exacerbated by his life experience of living amongst the most profoundly poor and suffering of the world and witnessing the most authentic joy and happpiness amidst the worst of circumstances of genuine human suffering. Potentially serious health concerns from years of diseases, the physical and emotional hard work in third world nations now prevent his longed for return to live and die amongst whom he believes to be "the poorest yet most joyous". Observing the tragic and buffoonish irony in the manic pursuit of American recreational shopping and acquisition, its addictive and psychopathic disregard for others, even wealthy others much less the less well off and more unfortunate, "culture shock," he said, "does not even come close to what I am feeling here and for all of my inner and outter resourcefulness in the midst of my work with "the used, abused and utterly screwed up" (a phrase he culled from Thomas Klise's profound novel of the decline of the world, The Last Western) I am at wits end to find a way toward meaningful living in a culture which complains but essentially turns a willful blind eye away from any activism and self-examination about this "culture of death." From his work in the third world his mysticism was nurtured and grounded within Liberation Theology which was born and developed in the 20th century in the poorest, most oppressed and ignored areas in third world countries. Globally powerful religious institutions intent on impacting peoples personal morality while not focusing upon and emphasizing focus social and economic justice, not taking care of the poor, "the least of these among you" , he found himself becoming more and more bitter in bloated America.

"My bile is actually a healthy response to what is going on. It's just that I don't have the venues now as an older man that I would have had as a younger, healthier, more resilient man. I'm also humiliated to find that at my age I would be depressed and stuck. I'm not happy though happiness ala capitalist America is not my goal here. Meaningful living with what you, Warren, call the "givens of existence" is enough for me. One takes comfort and gives comfort where one can but I'm in this damned dark night of the soul; at least, NOT the one I expected. Damn it!"

I immediately recalled the last paragraph in Jung's autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

"Will, if we work together I must now warn you that you will hear me speak much of Carl Jung. And I may read a bit of him here and there outloud to you if he seems pertinent and you are game. Jung may fit here if you allow me to read just a paragraph, the last, in his biography."

"I'm game. Read."

Keeping my Jung books near at hand I easily found the book and began to read:
When Lao-tzu says: "All are clear, I alone am clouded," he is
expressing what I now feel in advanced old age. Lao-tzu is the
example of a man with superior insight who has seen and ex-
perienced worth and worthlessness, and who at the end of his
life desires to return into his own being, into the eternal un-
knowable meaning. The archetype of the old man who has seen
enough is eternally true. At every level of intelligence this type
appears, and its lineaments are always the same, whether it be
an old peasant or a great philosopher like Lao-tzu. This is old
age, and a limitation. Yet there is so much that fills me: plants,
animals, clouds, day and night, and the eternal in man. The
more uncertain I have felt about myself, the more there has
grown up in me a feeling of kinship with all things. In fact it
seems to me as if that alienation which so long separated me
from the world has become transferred into my own inner world,
and has revealed to me an unexpected unfamiliarity with myself. 


Manic mode:

this extended quote from the old British Isles region and religion in
which great happiness is taken about the dark, they who dwell aware of
the shadows within and round about, the mysterious and dubious forces
which expand us with fear, awe and if endured, happiness, authentic
happiness which embraces pathos for these dark ones inhabit us, concern
us and our well-being in terms of psychic wholeness, as well.

'hoppin'ed 'pon this' while researching the etymology of the word
'happy', an extended entry upon the word 'hobbit' in which whilst
reading I felt extremely happy to happen upon this entry haphazardly as
luck, which is what 'happy' means etymologically, would have it. Be
sure to read the entire list. Some great names to call people. Here is
the link to what is below:


"Hobbit Look up Hobbit at
1937, coined in the fantasy tales of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973).
"Hobbit is an invention. In the Westron the word used, when the people was referred to at all, was banakil 'halfling.' But ... the folk of the Shire and of Bree used the word kuduk .... It seems likely that kuduk was a worn-down form of kûd-dûkan [='hole-dweller']. The latter I have translated ... by holbytla ['hole-builder']; and hobbit provides a word that might well be a worn-down form of holbytla, if the name had occurred in our ancient language." [Tolkien, "Return of the King," 1955, p.416]
"On a blank leaf I scrawled: 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.' I did not and do not know why." [Tolkien, letter to W.H. Auden, dated 1955]
The word also turns up in a very long list of folkloric supernatural creatures in the writings of Michael Aislabie Denham (d.1859), printed in volume 2 of "The Denham Tracts" [ed. James Hardy, London: Folklore Society, 1895], a compilation of Denham's scattered publications. Denham was an early folklorist who concentrated on Northumberland, Durham, Westmoreland, Cumberland, the Isle of Man, and Scotland.
"What a happiness this must have been seventy or eighty years ago and upwards, to those chosen few who had the good luck to be born on the eve of this festival of all festivals; when the whole earth was so overrun with ghosts, boggles, bloody-bones, spirits, demons, ignis fatui, brownies, bugbears, black dogs, specters, shellycoats, scarecrows, witches, wizards, barguests, Robin-Goodfellows, hags, night-bats, scrags, breaknecks, fantasms, hobgoblins, hobhoulards, boggy-boes, dobbies, hob-thrusts, fetches, kelpies, warlocks, mock-beggars, mum-pokers, Jemmy-burties, urchins, satyrs, pans, fauns, sirens, tritons, centaurs, calcars, nymphs, imps, incubuses, spoorns, men-in-the-oak, hell-wains, fire-drakes, kit-a-can-sticks, Tom-tumblers, melch-dicks, larrs, kitty-witches, hobby-lanthorns, Dick-a-Tuesdays, Elf-fires, Gyl-burnt-tales, knockers, elves, rawheads, Meg-with-the-wads, old-shocks, ouphs, pad-foots, pixies, pictrees, giants, dwarfs, Tom-pokers, tutgots, snapdragons, sprets, spunks, conjurers, thurses, spurns, tantarrabobs, swaithes, tints, tod-lowries, Jack-in-the-Wads, mormos, changelings, redcaps, yeth-hounds, colt-pixies, Tom-thumbs, black-bugs, boggarts, scar-bugs, shag-foals, hodge-pochers, hob-thrushes, bugs, bull-beggars, bygorns, bolls, caddies, bomen, brags, wraiths, waffs, flay-boggarts, fiends, gallytrots, imps, gytrashes, patches, hob-and-lanthorns, gringes, boguests, bonelesses, Peg-powlers, pucks, fays, kidnappers, gallybeggars, hudskins, nickers, madcaps, trolls, robinets, friars' lanthorns, silkies, cauld-lads, death-hearses, goblins, hob-headlesses, bugaboos, kows, or cowes, nickies, nacks necks, waiths, miffies, buckies, ghouls, sylphs, guests, swarths, freiths, freits, gy-carlins Gyre-carling, pigmies, chittifaces, nixies, Jinny-burnt-tails, dudmen, hell-hounds, dopple-gangers, boggleboes, bogies, redmen, portunes, grants, hobbits, hobgoblins, brown-men, cowies, dunnies, wirrikows, alholdes, mannikins, follets, korreds, lubberkins, cluricauns, kobolds, leprechauns, kors, mares, korreds, puckles korigans, sylvans, succubuses, blackmen, shadows, banshees, lian-hanshees, clabbernappers, Gabriel-hounds, mawkins, doubles, corpse lights or candles, scrats, mahounds, trows, gnomes, sprites, fates, fiends, sibyls, nicknevins, whitewomen, fairies, thrummy-caps, cutties, and nisses, and apparitions of every shape, make, form, fashion, kind and description, that there was not a village in England that had not its own peculiar ghost. Nay, every lone tenement, castle, or mansion-house, which could boast of any antiquity had its bogle, its specter, or its knocker. The churches, churchyards, and crossroads were all haunted. Every green lane had its boulder-stone on which an apparition kept watch at night. Every common had its circle of fairies belonging to it. And there was scarcely a shepherd to be met with who had not seen a spirit!"
[Emphasis added] It is curious that the name occurs nowhere else in folklore, and there is no evidence that Tolkien ever saw this."
Important to note that as pertaining pathological happiness, to pathos and pathology in particular, that Tolkien's first note about hobbits is that they live in holes in the ground which is underworld imagery, the place of the dark, the hidden, the mysterious and tricksterish forces. Suffer, the word etymologically means 'to undergo', sub = under, ferre = go, carry. It can mean "under carriage", that part of a cart or car which carries and sustains the weight of the cabin above it. Hobbits are known to be innately happy creatures (see my William James reference in the text below re: 'healthy minded religion' about tempermentally people with positive dispositions. The shadow of hobbits, healthy-minded one, to use James' term, is 'sick-minded', those innately aware of shadow and the pathos dimensions of being. The entire hobbit series can be seen as a hobbit's individuation process of integrating the shadow, pathos, sick-minded aspects of self naturally in the unconscious of those predispostioned to "healthy-mindedness". That hobbits live in holes in the ground belies the as yet to be made conscious awareness and integration of the depth dimensions, the pathos dimensions of existence. But I am ahead of what lies beneath this beginning. I'm in the hole already. Proceed with all the listed nether beings above to accompany you.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Brunch With Nietzsche, A Dazzlement On The Ocassion Of His Birthday

for mis compadres, Low McClendon and Andrew Linton

[Autumn leaves cling on.  Keene, NY.  March 2016.  Photo by W. Falcon]


It's undertow that matters. -- Jango Kammenstein

Dear Friedrich,

I am the man most pursued in last night's dream.
That emaciated thing at my back keeps tracking me.
I remain just out of reach. Classic. Even there
as here I am escaping something, a life time of
practice in this Kingdom of the Canker.

It was no banker who followed me last night
but a starved lacklove rejected by Canker and, well,
by me. Who'd want that part all start and no finish?
Replenishment has often enough meant hiding out
and a demand that it keep at least 5 arm lengths away.

I will try, I tell it, to look at it but I find its presence
most disturbing. Its handful of leaves continually
proffered leaves me in a quandary. What do they
mean, this offering, though my father was a lumberjack?
Perhaps this is a track of sorts to follow for an end
to the mystery.

I am stumped.

One adjusts. Continually.

The persona is adaptation
appearing to be solid but sleep reveals the neutrality
of the animal.

Dreams tell us otherwise
when we remember them as it takes an ego to witness,
to remember.

They reveal that we are
caught up into something so much greater than
flush and stir.

It's a wonder we make do
as much as we do and still call ourselves by name,
a species of animal, 'homo sapiens'.

I regret self pity.
I'd reject it if I could but it adheres,
last resort of old coots born honestly
into it no matter the copious Mercurochrome baths,
the smelling salts obviating the needed nipple.

The stippled trout I nightly catch,
pink insides turned out by blue blade
kept beneath the pillow,

baits me with the riddle
again and again.

Something about a stand of trees,
a man carving some bark,
what breath is for.

Today the Market reports a run on Mercurochrome.

Birth goes on.

I am for rebirth.

A dirth of days makes me suddenly Hindu,
foregoing gurus and bindu point.

I've made my own here.


Still, methinks I'll have your ear
for a little while longer, a handful of leaves only for
my thanks,

one foot well into
Cracked and Crank, the drunk tank a memory
worn out.

Doubt is my companion.

Love, too. No remorse here.
Buys me time, aftershave and
loads of underwear for the trickles ahead.

Thank the gods for all that.

Oh. And one last good cigar.