Sunday, May 18, 2008

PART TWO -- So Inherently Hearers -- Agonies/Paroxysms Upon Happiness & Other Diminishing Returns

[I have published this as a draft-in-progress, rewriting, editing, adding more. I do so now for two reasons, one, mercury is retrograding now (5/18/08) and, two, this blog site has already proven to be difficult during composing, editing, formatting in Part One and is proving to be so in Part Two. When rewriting and reformatting texts the saved new work does not "take." Thus I publish what is below as 2nd draft on the way to a 3rd or more in the next few days, mercury retrograde, gmail blogspot and my patience/enduring frustration willing.
The above copywrited photo by Warren Falcon, of an "ojo" or natural spring "eye" at Hieve al Agua, Oaxaca, Mexico, preserved by a round fence. Click on the photo to enlarge it.]


He (Plotinus) seems to agree with the later Jung—that there is a psyche "outside the body." However, his use of the word "transcendent" also suggests that the real distinction to be made is not between inner and outer, but between personal and impersonal. There is a sense, he seems to be saying, in which daimons can be both at once...Personal daimons are not fixed but can develop or unfold according to our own development. Jung might say: in the course of individuation, we move beyond the personal unconscious to the impersonal, collective unconscious, through the daimonic to the divine. Acording to Iamblichus, we are assigned a daimon at birth to govern and direct our lives but our task is to obtain a god in its place. -- From Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld by Patrick Harpur
The gods we have lost (as moderns) are descending on us, demanding reconnection. -- Edward Edinger

The building blocks of the ego are the divine qualities stolen from the gods or products of the dismemberment of a deity--earthly representations of transpersonal principles. -- Edinger

...As the process deepens one realizes more and more that insights come by grace and that development occurs not by the will of the ego but by the urge to individuation from the Self (god/atman). -- Edinger

The process of psychotherapy, when it goes at all deep, sets into motion profound and mysterious happenings. It is very easy for both patient and therapist to lose their way. This is why narrow and inadequate theories of the psyche are clung to desperately--at least they provide a sense of orientation. If we are not to submit psychic phenomena to the Procrustean bed of preconceived theory, we must seek the categories for understanding the psyche within the psyche itself. --Edward Edinger

One of the most common and very real dangers of inner work alone and in therapy/soul work is when one becomes unconsciously identified with the daimon where one mistakes the daimon for oneself believing that its qualities and manifestions belong to oneself. One suffers from inflation, both positive and negative. Inflation is a helpful Jungian term describing what happens when the ego becomes positively or negatively identified with an archetype or a quality of character. Inflation involves what cognitive behavioral therapy calls "all or nothing thinking," and what object relations therapy calls "splitting" where self or other (be they person, place, thought or thing) are either all good or all bad but can't have both good and bad qualities. Depending on the "flavor" of one's personal daimon in an inflation one believes he or she is the daimon or a particular quality of the daimon.

Part of the consciousness work in therapy for one identified with the daimon is 1) becoming aware of the daimon as an autonomous factor within one's psyche, 2) disidentifying by differentiating oneself from it and, 3) discovering what individuation business one has with the daimon, and it with you. This involves working with both the negative and positive shadow (though ultimately the negative shadow once understood, owned and integrated has a positive wholing/balancing effect on a person, one is not all bad and not all good). Shadow work entails working with one's personal history from infancy through childhood and into adulthood ongoingly, never ceasing, in order to discover the archetypal themes and energies, one's "personal mythology," to use a phrase from Jung, which one is usually living unconsciously. Making the unconscious conscious is shadow work and one's personal myth like all myth, religion and art entails encounters with some daimonic destructive/creative events, persons and places. In dreams it may manifest as a devil, animal, dragon, monster, witch, Darth Vadar, And thief to name only a few. The daimon may also appear as a positive figure in dreams. The hero of the mythic quest of one's life is predestined to encounter, confront, slay (integrate), and befriend the daimon and shadow. Befriending often implies some light chummy hanging out with an acquaitance or friend so I want to impress that that is NOT what befriending the daimon and shadow means. These are serious and all too real realities within and must be taken as such. Jung has said that most people believe that these inner forces aren't real. They're just "imagination," meaning "not real." This, says Jung, puts people in deadly peril of the unconscious. He describes it as if people are walking around with poisonous snakes in their pocket and don't even know they are there. Eventually they will be bitten and poisoned. The unconscious must be approached with the proper attitude for it gives back to you the attitude you give it. A naive New Age approach to shadow work almost destines one to have a powerfully negative encounter with the unconscious and the autonomous factors within it. "Dancing with one's gremlins" may be a useful exercise but shadow work is more than a dance and a gremlin is NOT predisposed to dance with others. Neither are dragons, demons, monsters, etc.

"Hell Has Value," My Daimon Reveals Itself
The daimon throws us down, makes us traitors to our ideals and cherished convictions -- traitors to the selves we thought we were. -- Carl Jung
Four years ago I had my most clear image and encounter with my own daimon. I always intuitively knew it was there within me which Christianity, other religious studies/flirtations, collective hibbity-glibbity, complacent, Hallmark card-like, spiritually materialistic, patchwork confections of pirated spiritualities, techniques, psychologies, philosophies, gimics and formulas reduced to psycho-sanctimonious programs, presentiments and presentations could not redeem, enlighten, New Age sugar glaze, namaste or placate with scriptures, dogma, affirmations, past life regressons or soul retrievals!! This, my daimon, when I finally saw him, was a dark, underworld Grendel-like creature (I recommend to you John Gardner's excellent novel, Grendel, which is the story of Beowulf told from the viewpoint of Grendel the monster. The recent movie, Beowulf, portrays a horrific and accurate depiction of the monstrousness which even Grendel himself loathed and could not control, an excellent example of being negatively identified with the daimon).
I finally inwardly saw him while crossing the street at W. 91st and Central Park West one day heading reluctantly and resentfully toward a professional commitment which I had come to loath (I realize now it was the daimon's loathing and my ego was catching up to his dark wisdom). I stopped mid-street and said outloud, "I SEE YOU!! What do you have to say to me?!" A car horn blew and I scuttled to a park bench with 5 minutes to spare before the dreaded meeting. Daimon answered, "I fucking HATE spirituality!!!" I burst out laughing for he had named an as yet unexpressible and until then difficult-to-own truth I had yet been able to confess. As he and I spoke he ragefully told me that I had kept him "in the deepest and darkest depth of Hell" and I knew when he said it that this was true. I wept for I had been very much unconsciously identified with him as him, a persecutable and persecuted monster. He hated spirituality which would not at all embrace his essential instinctual and warlike energy, "SACRED ENERGY!" he screamed. I knew then that I would have to remove myself from all so-called and supposedly spiritual affiliations professionally and inwardly introjected. Excising/integrating these introjections proved and still does to be stubborn and tenacious work. These had served as rigid character defenses propelling me away from the depths, material, psychological and instinctual. I told the daimon that I did not know how to work with and for him but that we could try to find a way. I also knew, and he confirmed, that our work together would offend myself as I knew myself to be as well as many others I had once been associated with personally and professionally. "Was I prepared to lose all this?" he asked. Already miserable I said, "Yes." I then said I wanted to take him out of Hell. To my surprise he told me that I "should not and could not lose the Hell realm. It has tremendous value to the soul but humankind has not been able yet to assimilate this aspect of soul much less acknowledge any value to it." This got my attention!! Having been born into, bred into, and educated into a Christian Fundamentalist church and culture (this permeates all of America and not just the South where I am from) where Hell has no value to humans unless we're cursing others to go there and has value to a rigidly "just and exacting deity" (Jehovah) I was "all ears." This was meat. This was heavy draught. This would not be easily chewed on but chew I would and I intuitively knew of the correctness of Daimon's view. Jung apparently had arrived at a very similar understanding (see his Answer To Job).

I have yet to assimilate Daimon's wisdom on the above but this is my meat and drink and most probably my ongoing life task to work till the end of my days. My Daimon is obviously NOT a Judeo-Christian, neither is he a New Ager, a New Thought "bliss-ninny" nor of many others. Actually, he's more of the ancient religions of early human history, more Greek or Roman or Norse.

James Hillman's book, Dreams and the Underworld, deliciously explores the dimension of the Nightworld, the mythic (read, REAL!) unconscious where, says Hillman, human Dayworld values must be left behind. In the Nightworld, in Dreamtime, in the Unconscious, the world of daimons and more, one enteres often kicking and screaming or, dangerously to self and others, New-Age-naively, to encounter a more accurate and politically-incorrect-to-the-ego-and-dayworld-values view of what individual and collective conditions really are like. Because dreams are ruthless, "impartial facts" from the objective unconscious many people resist them knowing that if taken seriously one's whole view of nature, ego and the self will be profoundly altered.

In Michael Eigen's brilliant and dense and very readable book, The Psychoanalytic Mystic, in a section describing the function of faith in psychoanalysis and therapy work he speaks of "the explosive or catastrophic potential in every therapeutic encounter" (page 124). This is certainly so in any encounter with the daimon. Therapeutic work implies the goal of becoming conscious and making consciousness thus a conscious encounter with the daimon which is explosive/catastrophic is an inevitable arrival in good and patient therapy. Eigen describes William Blake's Heaven, a similar description which my daimon says of Hell and what Hillman implies in his book on the underworld, "William Blake describes heaven as all out war between every human capacity in which all have their say without compromise yet incessantly enrich and are enriched by others. Here faith functions as a boundless or infinite container (pages 124/125)." I have personally found again and again overtly identified-as-spiritual groups containing to be the exact opposite of Blake's description. The so-called "spirituality" and the "spiritual group" demand an absolute merger usually with either a consciously identified leader or often enough a de facto leader who demands merger with that leader and her/his group on that leader's terms. If one begins to emerge and individuate from that leader and group then usually one is identified as a kind of virus, a faction, and is scapegoated and run out, excommunicated or fired. The powerful charismatic leader or leaders are often daimon-identified which gives them direct access to energies within the unconscious, making them numinous (Rudolf Otto's term meaning "frought with sacrality" or, as Jung would have it, possessed by an archetypal energy and thus unconsciously identified with it) which gathers follower and acolytes. Said followers and underlings are also assigned the task of carrying the shadow of the leader who usually can find no shadow in themselves when inevitably there begins to be "trouble in paradise." This inability to find the shadow is willful, very toxic and pathological. The leader or leader identified group experiences her/itself as a victim of that one emerging from the group trance and individuating.
In pondering these dynamics from recent personal experience I had a sudden insight into the brilliant psychological wisdom in the Buddhist idea of the bodhisattva and his/her vow as I understand it. The bodhisatva is one who closely approaches awakening/enlightenment but, most importantly, with ego awareness and acceptance refuses to be fully enlightened until all sentient beings are. The wisdom in this is so profound in that when one is enlightened (if such a thing is possible...I have my doubts) or arrived others are doomed to carry his or her shadow individually as will the group. My understanding is that a bodhisatva, enlightened or conscious enough refuses to allow others to carry their shadow and thus is the healing wisdom in the bodhisatva vow as I most recently understand it. I make much of the image of the sitting Buddha with one hand significantly touching the earth. Material existence is inimical to perfection and perfectionistic agendas, programs, and this hand upon the material plane keeps one a bodhisatva viator at most (not never achievable best), unfinished yet on the way, working it in consciousness work in touch with the material plane of existence, it's exigencies, including imperfection, nature, instinct and sin, missing the mark. In saying this I want to make it clear that I have no aspirations to bodhisatva or perfection states of mind but I do aspire to the most difficult task of owning my shadow, integrating what I can of it, and finding a conscious way to value Hell and other psychological realms and experiences. Daimon brings his own enlightenment, awakening, what Jung calls "conscious endarkenment," real darkness, not excised of evil via slight of hand New Age/privatio boni "good thoughts." (Again, see Jung's Answer To Job where he analyzes god, good, and evil and the notion that evil is just the lack of good).

Jesus, too, demonstrates a bodhisatva viator refusal to be redeemed (Christian enlightenment) in his admonition to remove the log from one's own eye before one righteously go after the splinter in the other's eye. Profoundly, this astute psychological wisdom derives from a man who, according to his story in the Christian New Testament, would catch the negative projections of not only the major religions and the government of his day bus also be scapegoated and identified as the splinter, the log and the whole forest along with every tree that ever existed, this man who was a carpenter who also fittingly died upon a tree. He became the shadow for everyone, says Christianity, in attempt to relieve humanity of it but as Jung radically points out the shadow transformation which occurs in each our owning and working it transforms not just ourselves but the very shadow of god (Answer To Job).

Heaven or Hell or, rather, heaven and hell, divine warfare between human capacities as well as transpersonal powers vie for conscious attention and relating within the individual for humans have the growing capacity for consciousness which is within and partakes of "a boundless or infinite container," the Self, Atman, or any number of words attempting to approach this mysterious yet palpable, experiencable even though unnameble hold. I stress the need for the ego here in this operation, this alchemical operation, this warfare of human capacities "which enrich and are enriched by others." Thus the essential importance of recognizing one's daimon and working with it.

Psychology has an ongoing fantasy (and by fantasy I mean a very real image moving up from the very real psyche into the imagination of an individual and group) of "integration" of part-selves, daimon, shadow, personal history, historical events, personal, collective and transpersonal powers. Some integration is possible but is never ever complete. Our capacity to dream and in dreaming encounter the nightworld reveals a basic faith in ourselves-as-nature of a boundless or infinite container which holds heaven and hell dimensions and expressions of external and internal existence. New Age spirituality and psychology, most historical religions and some cosmologies oriented toward transcendence reinforce the split in humans between these heaven and hell dimensions. "A boundless or infinite container" holds, endures and cooks (in alchemy the cooking vessel is hermetically sealed and firm) both dimensions (the opposites) and from that intense and searing conflict consciousness grows. The human being contains and is the vessel of this divine conflict enduring, tolerating, at least trying to, the intolerable stuff of self and Other/other. The fantasy of tolerance, too, though ideal, is innimical to material existence which is born and fabricated of and from conflict. Realistically, humans can barely tolerate themselves and the other but (I take this after Bion and Eigen as an object of faith), there is a boundless, infinite container to which I can only bow to and be grateful for for I am an often intolerable mess of warring capacities and contradictions ala Hillman as it is the very nature of the soul to pathologize (see PART ONE of this essay for more on the soul as pathology).

All this one endures or must try to endure. When wide awake to the fact that the soul pathologizes one is humbled and liberated all at once to live more freely one's creaturely instinctual self less addicted to transcendence becoming more embracing of the givens of human existence, more embracing of the noble and tragic creatures we humans really are. As Ernest Becker accurately says in his always astounding book, The Denial of Death, we are creatures who cannot get over the fact that we are (conscious, creative) "gods who shit!" W.R. Bion says that the tragedy (and hope) is that we are creatures who have indeed evolved up from animal consciousness enough to intuit/know where it appears we may be going but(t) our bodies and nervous systems haven't evolved enough as yet to handle the tremendous animal drives which demand and command us all the time. Ken Wilber accurately calls this our present Centauric condition, our being at the centauric level of consciousness, half animal/instinct/unconscious and half human/rational-creative/conscious. We are awake now to both and must endure as best we can the conflict of these opposites that we are. I take comfort here in Gabriel Marcel's homo viator to soften Bion's, I believe, accurate assessment of the human species; we are, as Marcel has it, viator, on the way, still evolving or, as centaurs, still trotting.

With Becker's insight in mind any inflation humans have is confronted by this "shit" he mentions in his description of humans as "gods who shit." To think we are gods is to be inflated and thus to be gods who shit, says Becker, comes as a shock to our system as humans. However, I find that the dream of the infinite, boundless container is an image of the alchemical container mentioned above in which the prima materia, the primal stuff, the "shit" begins to be cooked and ultimately, so the alchemical fantasy goes, is transformed into gold (which is an ever expanding hold which includes and does not exclude shit). Jung's discovery of alchemical symbolism in psychotherapeutic containers helps us, gives us faith in transformation. Perhaps that which is most transforming is the growing awareness of the infinite boundless unbreakable container which holds the heaven/hell of Nature and Consciousness, of warring human nature within and without. An intuition of, an experience of the cosmic hold is transformational indeed and reinforces faith in not only the value implicit in the very struggle to transform but in existence itself. Eigen says, "All (warring) capacities find their place within a primary faith."

I call this primary faith animal faith, the kind of faith that the animal has, say, when after the lion has hauled down one of one's own, the gazelle herd just a few feet away from the mauling munching lion bend their heads back to the grasses to also feed life. That bending to the grass is the statement of faith: "Not today, death. I live and eat. And I'll run when need be." Animal faith assumes, contains that facticity that life/death go on. Creation and creatures continue. All are contained in the boundless, infinite container. A good study of kabbala informs us that the Container is not static but alive Itself, ever forming from cosmic material givens, the sephirot (sacred vessels which are archetypes of creator and creation).

Click here for PART THREE (re: Alchemy and the Daimon: Chaos, Shit, the Solar Plexus as the Alchemical Container = Para- and Sympathetic Nervous System in the "Cauldron" of the 3rd Chakra...

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