[My "altar", part of it, as it appeared when "Father Will" came for counseling. Photo by Michael G. Reed. Click to enlarge the image.]
[These opening quotes are perhaps the most important texts of all to read for they "open the act", so to speak, and set the stage and tone for what follows. What lies beneath these beginnings humbly, too often dumbly, plods with apologies to these giants.]
Who would be half posessed by
his own nakedness?
Waking's my care--
I'll make a broken music, or I'll die.
-- Theodore Roethke, from "In Evening Air"
O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.
-- Gerard Manley Hopkins, from "No Worst, There is None"
-- Gerard Manley Hopkins, from "No Worst, There is None"
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window
or just walking dully along...
--W.H. Auden, from "Musee des Beaux Arts"
Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me: so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go...
What falls away is always. And is near.
--Theodore Roethke, from "The Waking"
Pathological happiness is a manic defense against depression and death, a denial of the realm of pathos or suffering, from which the word pathology is derived, the path or pattern of suffering in beingness. Great Nature runs riot upon and within that which we can project some thing called "happiness" ('happy', meaning 'happen, luck, an eventing') but without a doubt the crushing dissolution, the decay and ending is Nature's way, Her insistency, despite all our reification of wishful metaphysics, "for these subtleties must concretely be", we choose to believe in understandable desperation. Charles Ponce writes, and rights us, reorients us much neededly toward immediacy of Existence, of Nature in Her appeal, in Her drive for attestation:
"...we rebel essentially against the autonomy of Nature, the natural breakdown of Nature, the need of Nature to relax into itself, even to collapse into itself in the way that trees retreat into themselves with the advent of Winter...We turn away from our bodies in illness and death not because we have resolved the issue of the wound, but because it is far easier to think of an afterlife, far less fearful and painful to surround ourselves with the good feeling that we may not only escape this life in one psychic piece, but that we will no longer have to concern ourselves with our physical humanity...This approach to death robs us of our tie to Nature, strips us of our humanity in favor of an exquisite angelology of the ego. It allows us to slip past the experience of the mystery: that the body is indeed a great temple which moves slowly towards a breakdown and dissolution. The alchemists knew this: that the soul cannot fly, cannot be released from the vessel until the body is broken down, dissolved, and even putrified. When you read the alchemists you will discover that this breakdown and dissolution is the beginning of the Great Work, and that without experiencing and seeing, watching and attending to this momentous operation--keeping the fire of heart and attention at the proper degree--nothing happens. The soul does not fly, the subtle body is not created, nor is the imagination which is the soul's experience of itself open to eternity. It is this focus on the body and the wound in both life and death that leads to the sacred marriage of the alchemists. Paracelsus stressed, "The eternal is a sign of the dissolution of Nature, and not the beginning of created things, and the end in all things which no nature is without."
...A true medicine and counseling should therefore be one that addresses the immediate, the body of things and the body, for if we really wish to enter into the eternal, see the universe in a grain of sand, we must in our imagination understand...the soul's expression of itself through body, and that woundedness, disease, and the putrefactio of our humanity are for us in the West ordained as the focus of a yoga that sees in these sufferings the gods we have rejected." -- Charles Ponce, from "Paracelsus and the Wound", Working the Soul, Reflections on Jungian Psychology, pgs. 25-26.
Sensitive souls have reacted with shock to the elemental drama of life on this planet...this bone-crushing, bone-drinking drama in all its elementality and necessity. Life cannot go on without the mutual devouring of organisms. If at the end of each person's life he were to be presented with the living spectacle of all that he had organismically incorporated in order to stay alive, he might well feel horrified by the living energy he had ingested. The horizon of a gourmet, or even the average person, would be taken up with hundreds of chickens, flocks of lambs and sheep, a small herd of steers, sties full of pigs, and rivers of fish. The din alone would be deafening. To paraphrase Elias Canetti, each organism raises its head over a field of corpses, smiles into the sun, and declares life good. -- Ernest Becker, Escape From Evil, pg.2
"...So I said, "I am going to be a boxer...so I began training hard and hard and suddenly I have a pain in my chest so I say, "It's nothing, a torn muscle," and so I began again and again, training, training, training, and I went to a doctor and say, "Yeah, you have a torn muscle." Wrong. I have an infection in my heart so I went to a cardiologist and he said, "I have good news and bad news...the good news is that you are not a hypochondriac. The bad news is that your heart is completely swollen and that you can have a heart attack maybe today, maybe tomorrow, I don't know. So you have to go to bed NOW." And so I say, "Fuck!" And so I watch my hands. I say,
"My hands may be the hands of a corpse tomorrow.
They will not move anymore tomorrow." So I make
a commitment to caress the skins I have to caress,
to beat with my hands those I have to beat, and to
build something that will survive my hands," and that's
when I began to write furiously without stopping and
I have my studio full of skulls, not real ones but of
wood, stone...and every time I get tired I say, "Arriaga,
you are gonna die. You have to do something with your hands."
So until now I have caressed the skins that I have to caress,
I haven't beaten people that I like but I don't want to be
violent anymore, and I have been writing since then. Thus,
a personal fight against death...so I have two thoughts about
pain--the first, the worst thing you can do with pain is not using it.
You cannot waste pain. Another one is that pain is inevitable
but suffering is a decision so I use pain for writing and every time
I have pain I try to keep it and use it in a certain way...
I personally believe that Death doesn't present once, it presents daily and I always think that Death has a giant tongue that licks you. For example, this [rubs his thinning hair] is death licking my hair and says, "You thought you were okay? Well, there goes your new look." And, uh, cellulite in women and tits going down, it's like Death licking and, you know, we men (makes a gesture of an erect penis deflating), is like wop! wop! wop!...and when you lose someone you love, a woman, you are carrying the corpse of someone you love inside you...
They say that dust is skin flakes and I believe that every time
we wipe the dust we wipe the corpse of who we were at that time..."
-- Guillermo Arriaga, acclaimed Mexican writer, in conversation with Paul Auster at 2007 PEN Writer's Conference, has written screenplays, Babel, Amores Perros, The Three Burials of Melchiades Estrada, 21 Grams, and more. Here is the weblink to hear the entire conversation:
"The right thing happens to the happy man." Irony, indeed. Lately reading of suicidal poets, some favorites of my youth, and of Dostoevski's seizures, his ongoing grief at an infant daughter's death, his gambling addiction, ongoing constancies of light and dark, his continuing to write gripped by an unrelenting personal yet Russian, and ultimately universal, creative daemon.
Transcendence long sought and hard fought for in the act of art, in the depth cry toward surcease and significant if but momentary peace, I no longer wonder that some are wont to take holy vows and, tipping Cosmic Cows, cloak themselves in Blessed Silence, a breath out-sleeved. There may be more to me and thee between How-and-Now Cows, Father, than the undertaker's shovel and the deep blue sky and sea.
...I am a soul man, partial to soul, to space, to time, to locale, at more than a lover's quarrel with the world and very much so at quarrel with spirit. -- from Small Favors of Mourning, the author's journal
Alexis Zorba: Why do the young die? Why does anybody die?
Basil: I don't know.
Alexis Zorba: What's the use of all your damn books if they can't answer that?
Basil: They tell me about the agony of men who can't answer questions like yours.
Alexis Zorba: I spit on this agony!
-- from the film, Zorba the Greek, based upon the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis of the same title
For my beloved, Marianne Damhuis, thresholded,
now threshed by the Reaper requiring her Presence
elsewhere all the more Mysterious for having leapt
past the Skirt's Hem on December 13, 2008.
I can't help but think of her whose stars
she is now tempting in the blazing darkness
wheeling Sufi cartwheels o're our sad heads
not seeing hard enough through the veils,
layered skirts all, to her hair flaming red,
eyes flashing, perpetually exhaling,
bidding Dance! Dance! Dance! for the Beloved is here!
Dare to dance and be god filled, en-thused, laughing
at that rich ruse of Life -- barefeet dreaming of shoes.
Homesick for the dirt she sings,
No arms! No arms!
I've been to Hell and shout it
In a thousand-voiced chorus,
A thousand voices to harm!
I've been to Hell and back again!
I flaunt it like a gypsy's skirts!
And for the "Father Will" in us all, "time harried prisoners of Shall and Will"...
[Please note: Father Will is a composite character, a convenient and necessary fiction drawn from my practice comprised of many, composed by one. Any resemblance to any actual person is completely accidental.]
A client I will call Father Will brings to session a dream that he is dying. On a spiritual retreat in Big Sur, California at a Carmelite monastery and retreat center, the height and depth of geography match his physical and spiritual plight. There it is required that he must walk in spite of illness to the retreat master's house for physical effort must be made to approach what he might need to know in embodied existence before he dies. He closes the screen-door silently behind him, no slams allowed. A large window reveals a vista of sky and ocean, both immense. Tops of evergreens spike into view from the bottom window frame, trees upon the precipitous slope just below and beyond the house. Will reclines upon a combination divan and Freudian couch. The retreat master, his back to the window and the day light, silhouettes, his face unseen. His hands protrude from bone white cassock sleeves, appear to float holding a rosary--his muted voice praying the beads. Suddenly, in the voice of one who is dying Will urgently pleads, "Speak to me of the Resurrection". He weeps, waking up with tears of release and relief at the possibility of new life.
Father Will came to me referred by a client also in the clergy. I recall his chuckle when he came through my office door, looked around the room, not much light but from an airshaft window and another smaller one admitting reflected light from gray bricks in cool shadows between buildings; my endless book stacks on the floor spilling from the topsy turvy bookshelves, my collection from inner and outer travels, floor to fireplace mantle and walls holding statues, images, stones, art, bones, feathers, a black doll's head totem I made during a dark night of the soul, stuffed animals rescued from Salvation Armies and thrift stores the country round, art books opened to images of Inuit bone carvings, another to Grunewald's skin diseased Christ, and more all busily before the therapeutic couch, me in my one armed antique rocker a bit to the foreground of it all.
"Well," says Will good-naturedly, admiringly, referring to the decor, "it is certainly not Colonial American or even Bauhaus."
"Yes," I counter, "more like "post-Hiroshima," to which we both heartily laugh.
Planting himself in the middle of my archetypal sofa, that being the Great Mother in her devouring aspect, he quickly assesses what all the extra pillows are for arranging them behind him so he will not disappear into the couch stuffing.
Once settled he surmises, "I see that you, too, are a sufferer."
"I insist upon it," I respond, still resonant with the opening humor, knowing that I mean every word of what I have just said.
"Precisely. I know what you mean, I think. I don't know you but it has nothing to do with what William James calls "healthy-minded religion" verses "the sick souled" religion" (more on this just below).
"Yes. Happy-happy, good. Saddy-sacky bad," I parody.
We remain silent for awhile, Will's eyes close which give me time to look at him and feel what might be there as yet revealed, if ever. Then from some inner distance he speaks in a measured musical pace:
Let others probe the mystery if they can.
Time-harried prisoners of Shall and Will--
The right thing happens to the happy man.
The bird flies out, the bird flies back again;
The hill becomes the valley, and is still;
Let others delve that mystery if they can.
God bless the roots!--Body and soul are one!
The small become the great, the great the small;
The right thing happens to the happy man.
Child of the dark, he can out leap the sun,
His being single, and that being all:
The right thing happens to the happy man.
Or he sits still, a solid figure when
The self-destructive shake the common wall;
Takes to himself what mystery he can,
And, praising change as the slow night comes on,
Wills what he would, surrendering his will
Till mystery is no more: No more he can.
The right thing happens to the happy man.
Opening his eyes, he looks quizzically at me.
"Theodore Roethke," I say, "Part of the new scripture, at least for me. "The Right Thing" and just the right spin on happiness for that spin is really the Whirlwind, or God as Trauma, or Fate, rendering the personal will, that tyrant, into surrendering. We have options, we rebel, we relent, and choosing either we make acts which may serve, others, the self, and always, inform the blind, amoral Whirlwind of the creaturely experience. Art underscores and secures the point."
William James, the great Harvard psychologist and American pragmatist philosopher, brother to novelist Henry James, teacher of Gertrude Stein, a young psychology student before she became, well, Gertrude Stein, gave still important lectures while at the University of Edinborough, in Scotland between 1902 and 1903. His widely read now classic book about the psychology of religion, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) is taken from his edited Gilford lectures. In them James addresses and "defends a popular movement in the country called the mind-cure movement which emphasized the healing power of positive emotions and beliefs using the movement's therapeutic claims to illustrate the typically American, practical turn of the "religion of healthy-mindedness". Varieties sympathetically surveys mind-cure literature, but also criticizes healthy-minded religion for its limited range and refusal to confront tragedy and radical evil " (italics are mine to emphasize this point so pertinent to any discussion of "pathological happiness". The information in this paragraph is gleaned from this online website with an article titled, "William James, Mind-cure, and the Religion of Healthy-mindedness" by Donald F. Duclow, http://www.springerlink.com/content/pmthy0m5xx8b10rt/).
To further expound upon James' description of these two types of spiritual health, Wikipedia's online site is brief and helpful here:
"James described two types of spiritual health:
- The healthy mind, described in Lectures IV and V under the title of "The religion of healthy-mindedness". The healthy-minded have a naturally positive outlook on life. Perhaps influenced by the popularity of the Mind-Cure Movement, a social pressure group of the day that promoted positive thinking as a cure for disease and depression, James assumed that some people simply are happy. "We find such persons in every age, passionately flinging themselves upon their sense of the goodness of life, in spite of the hardships of their own condition, and in spite of the sinister theologies in which they may be born. From the outset, their religion is one of union with the divine" says James. In the lectures, Walt Whitman is a favorite example of healthy mindedness. James quotes Francis William Newman, describing such individuals as seeing God, "not as a strict Judge, not as a Glorious Potentate, but as the animating Spirit of a beautiful harmonious world. Beneficent and Kind, Merciful as well as Pure".
- The sick soul, described in Lectures VI and VII. Those people having a sick soul are those who are depressed and see the evil in all things. James focused on this "divided soul" personality as the candidate for the benefits of conversion. He believed that the only way for a sick soul to cure itself is to undergo a powerful mystical experience, or religious conversion. He argues these so-called "twice born" souls turn out to be the most healthy in the end, since they have seen life from both perspectives."
“For now we see through a glass, darkly…” (1 Cor. 13:12) -- The Bible
Years ago in order to graduate as an ordained interfaith minister, the seminary required that each student write a cosmology thesis which presented and articulated his or her view of the world. Almost at the outset of the project I became aware that I had two cosmologies going at once. One was my preferred belief system, a system of nice thoughts, spiritual ideas, behaviors and hopes, valid enough for persona and ego concerns, certainly most reasonable and "why can't we all just get along?" The second cosmology, what I call "the Devil's cosmology", was and still is the set of beliefs, presuppositions, assumptions, complexes, insistant unavoidable shadow both positive and negative, comprising a large personal slice of the pie of the Collective Unconscious which I actually lived and was/am most often in the grip of which lived/lives me. My preferred belief system did not really impact this greater default of the Psyche, that irrevocable fact that I was not the only person living in my inner house and that Other did not live or operate by my preferred beliefs, behaviors, rules and rectitudes. Rectal-tudes was more the reality. What was a parson soon to be to do or be when confronted with cosmological duality?
Stoically, I abandoned the first preferred "Good and Happy", "Right and Bright Thinking" cosmology which was actually an inflated ego imposition upon the bedeviling realities, dare I say, personalities within me. Having studied William James in college for my philosophy degree and utilizing his notion of the two religions I pondered that sick souled religion might be my actual religion much as I did not like the pathology implied in its name. Being young and hopeful I postponed the issue (even though more evidence gathered daily) and it was only years later in Jungian analysis and very late in my seminary studies and the clear awareness of my inner split did I actively, reluctantly, humbly, angrily, ambivalently embrace the darkness within which would not, could not, be turned into Light by denial and right thinking in any spiritual "charm school" or class I had attended which often enough did me more harm than good in that they fostered and deepened an already wide split between spirit and matter in me which, no surprise but seems to surprise many, is the human condition. My thesis then-- no real choice now that the split, the division, the duality was even more clear -- would be about darkness, the "Devil's cosmology" and thus I began to compose and read, culling from a variety of sources. Once I began to embrace the darkness, my darkness, the darkness in existence and the sick souled cosmology within, upon, and from which I was oft motivated, I synchronistically discovered two texts which greatly supported me in my explication of the dark.
The first text I happened upon in the "religious seconds" (curious moniker, that, and a fitting description of my spiritual life then and now) book section in the sub-basement (that is fitting, too) at The Strand Bookstore. Its title alone immediately gripped me, Epiphanies of Darkness, Deconstruction In Theology, by Charles E. Winquist. At the beginning of the chapter from which the book title is derived Winquist quotes John Dominic Crossan, "...we do not mourn that we see through a glass darkly, we now rejoice in the dark loveliness of the glass."
"Now that is an intriguing reframe!" I thought.
Instantly seduced, I read on, "To rejoice in the dark loveliness of the glass" is an alteration of values that suggest we can know the darkness, think in the dark, or think darkly...learning to see in the dark is learning to see the light darkly...The task at hand is to replicate the familiar world of daily life in the shadow world of the imagination. The world we already know can then be known in the dark. We thereby teach ourselves to think in the dark so that we can live in the middle. This strange exercise is a taking hold of life. It is a valuation of where and who we are."
Hillman's Peaks and Vales Discovered,
More James And The Vale of Soul-Making
Around the time of my discovery of Winquist's book I had a conversation with a Jungian analyst, a friend with whom I often spoke during my almost completed four years of training in the seminary. I needed an outsider "well acquainted with the dark" to work through some of the more New Age and New Thought (Mind Cure spiritual program) aspects of the program. She mentioned that I might find James Hillman's second chapter helpful in his book of essays on the puer aeternus (the archetype of the eternal youth/boy), The Puer Papers. Once again, the chapter title alone provided two archetypal images which undergird James' two religions, healthy minded and sick souled -- "Peaks and Vales". Mountaintops and valleys. The image of mountain peaks accurately depicts healthy-mindedness just as the vale, or valley, depicts sick souledness. But before I ascend and descend to amplify these images let me first offer a summary and some surmises on James and his two religions.
James' applies his pragmatist philosophy to the study of religion which, as has already been reported, he reduces to healthy mindedness or sick souledness. An implication of pragmatism in terms of religious beliefs is that they can be chosen for convenience because pragmatism places highest value upon convenience and the absolute power of the ego, the "God of Convenience", to choose with it's emphasis upon utilitarian, quickest-means-to-an-end choices creating belief systems of expediency baptized by magical thinking, wish fulfillment, social presumption and dubious promises of personal power. Pragmatism reduces religion/cosmology to rational ego choices thus inflating the ego, making it god-like, all the while losing sight of, and conscious connection to, the archetypal FACT that there is Something or Some Dimension Greater, pluralities of them, than the ego dwelling within us and around us, the Self, Jung's term for that Greater Center from, through, by, with and for which the ego exists. Still, the ego believes it is THE only center while the unconscious with all its contents or "discontents" is a by-product of egoic repressions. This is essentially Freud's view and post-Freudian psychologies have not veered too far from this reduction of the unconscious to a "nothing but", or butt, of repressed consciousness.
James being a psychologist and philosopher was not only interested in the actual religious beliefs and what they did for the believer, he was also interested in how much emotions inform and determine choosing those beliefs, i.e. "I choose this belief because it makes me feel good. " Emotions also play most powerful roles in how religious practices and rituals are designed for emotional impact which also affects choices of beliefs and belief systems "which make me feel good." Healthy minded and sick souled religion reveal temperaments of believers and are most assuredly derived from, and unique to, individual personalities and predispositions. The word temperament in part means a "characteristic state of mind".
Carl Jung read Williams James intently while working on his book, Psychological Types, from which the later Myers-Briggs personality test along with others derived. Jung reports that he felt compelled to write this book in order to understand his own conflict with Freud, along with Adler's and others' conflicts with Freud and himself. Jung arrived at his introversion and extroversion as the two basic attitudes toward existence along with his four types (what I prefer to call lenses) or expressions through which one differentiates and shapes one's personal encounter with the world-- thinking, feeling, intuition and sensation. He found that many of his major differences with Freud, Adler, others had much to do with the differing typologies of each which naturally provoked creative and ultimately divisive conflicts. It must be said that divisiveness is also creative and it is helpful to see it as such much as our personal war flags may be planted solidly on our side, the right side, of course, of the conflict. An excellent example of this important point is that as a result of these conflicts between Freud and Jung and a host of others the intellectual world has benefited greatly from their articulated differences deriving diverse and effective approaches to human suffering and its cures.
Without going further into Jungian typology suffice it say that James' impact and shaping of the dialogue and the language of that dialogue, especially in the psychology of religion, is still significant. The core of American philosophy is deeply pragmatic and James along with other pragmatists continues to shape and flavor this "typically American turn of mind". From Jung's typology I understand that James' two choices are available archetypal dimensions in every human no matter what their innate dispositions or temperaments toward healthy or sick souled religions may be. Both dimensions are complements and compensations for the other and, as Jung discovered, if one is identified more with one than the other then that other is "alive and well" in the unconscious. Integral work which Jung calls individuation with it's drive toward wholeness (what I refer to as conscious "holdness", a containing of opposites) is the continuous hard and meaningful work of making conscious and expressing that which is in the unconscious to compensate for one sided ego consciousness. Thus, if one is too identified with the positive "sunny, always merry and bright" temperament then one is guaranteed a fated encounter with the darker, heavier negative one for as Jung soberingly points out, "that which one does not make conscious he or she is destined to live as Fate". We are all fated to encounter both ranges of psychological/religious experience or we indeed are one-dimensional beings out of touch with the rich opportunities within and in between the two poles of healthy mindedness and sick souledness. The spectrum of nuance and tone deepens and informs as well as shapes and forms authentic character of individuals and cultures.
The nature of human consciousness is dialectical--an awareness of the opposites out of which may come the third thing, the new integral understanding and experience born of the tension between. This ongoing process of thought, this dialectic in human awareness, is the stuff of religion, philosophy, psychology, art, of all human experience. Unitive experiences are derived from the a priori dynamics of opposition, duality, polarity. Dialectically speaking, to nominate the peak as the most numinous, valuable and essential part of the mountain is to devalue and repress the valley into the unconscious which guarantees a fated encounter with the valley. This works both ways although there is something about the valley which figures more prominently and descriptively in the human experience than with the peak. Hillman distinguishes 'spirit' from 'soul' in his essay associating spirit with peaks and soul with valleys. A psychoanalyst and therefore oriented toward soul, psyche means soul, he amplifies the vale archetype defining its vital function by quoting and amplifying the British Romantic poet John Keats' statement, "Call the world if you please the vale of soul-making. Then you will find out the use of the world." I am immediately struck by the word 'use' in the statement since pragmatism seeks those utilitarian uses of things, thoughts/ beliefs, activities and expressions. One can venture that there is a pragmatism of peaks and a pragmatism of vales. Perhaps they overlap or depending upon where one is at are put to different uses to possibly serve a greater whole, although wholeness language is "peaks" or spirit language. Vale language is a polyglot of experiences which re- and de- generate as does Great Nature create and destroy in endless variety preferring the messiness to the dress of order. Wallace Stevens in the seventh and final part of his poem, Sunday Morning, lows:
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.
So. Downward let us go, to darkness, the realm of soul which is a human and inhuman place. Multiplicities. Polytheistic. There are gods of the valleys and even near or upon the copse but the peak points to something other than multiplicity, something unitive and one. The peak is one spirited. Monotheistic. Thus is the history of human consciousness, the question of the one and the many, of unity and diversity, the four essences, earth, air, fire, water and that one essence which holds them all, that fifth essence, the quintessence. This dialectic of running and returning, ascending and descending, is the way of human consciousness.
Soul, says Hillman, is "concrete, multiple, and immanent," it is history, personal and collective, whereas spirit is "one, abstract, unified, concentrated," it's relationship to time is as the eliminator of history. Hillman expands:
"The peaks wipe out history. History is to be overcome. History is bunk...So the spirit workers and spirit seekers first of all must climb over the debris of history, or prophesy its end or its unreality, time as illusion, as well as the history of their individual and particular localities, their particular ethnic and religious roots...the spirit is impersonal, rooted not in local soul, but timeless." By an over emphasis on spirit, says Hillman, "history has become the Great Repressed." Thus our need to compensate too much spirit by psychological soul work which involves going into history, into the valleys where shadows are cast (ancient sun devices tracked shadows thus history is shadow), personal and transpersonal, in order to work "our complexes" [which are] history at work in the soul [italics are mine, WF]...it is so much easier to transcend history by climbing the mountain and let come what may [note the temptation of pragmatism to do the easy thing which is not necessarily the ultimately efficacious thing. See Joan Poelvoorde's essay on spiritual bypassing] than it is to work on history within us, our reactions, habits, moralities, opinions, symptoms that prevent true psychic change. Change in the valley requires recognition of history, an archeology of the soul, a digging in the ruins, a re-collecting. And--a planning in specific geographical and historical soil with its own smell and savor, in connection with spirits of the dead, the po-soul sunk in the ground below [po-soul in ancient Chinese cosmology was the earth soul, characterized by yin]...from the viewpoint of soul and life in the vale, going up the mountain feels like a desertion. The lamas and saints "bid farewell to their comrades" [a quote from a letter by the current Dalai Lama of Tibet. You can read it in appendix 1 below]." Hillman continues, "As I'm here an advocate of soul, I have to present its viewpoint. Its viewpoint appears in the long hollow depression of the valley."
Of History And Soul, Of Fleetingness And
A Thing's Gracious Gift To The EternalI am a soul man, partial to soul, to space, to time, to locale, at more than a lover's quarrel with the world and very much so at quarrel with spirit which "deigns to destroy us," says the poet Rilke, "us the most fleeting of all". Rilke is a soul man who spent much time on the peaks and even more time in the valleys. In the Nineth Duino Elegy Rilke is actually covering soul's ground, expanding Keats foundational statement about vales and the use of the world, meaning a fuller spectrum experience of life and the Eternal's being enriched from the shadows, the surfaces, the subterranean. The Eternal is not complete after all. The Eternal needs the temporal, what is gained there in consciousness, the Eternal needs a where, an orientation, particularity, to be more substantial (substance is in this word) whole, wholeness here meaning an ongoing process of completion and depletion, filled in with something in cycles of chaos and return rather than abstraction. He begins:
"Why, when this span of life might be fleeted away
as laurel, a little darker than all
the surrounding green, with tiny waves on the border
of every leaf (like the smile of a wind): - oh, why
have to be human, and shunning Destiny,
long for Destiny?...
Not because happiness really
exists, that precipitate profit of imminent loss.
Not out of curiosity, not just to practice the heart,
that could still be there in laurel...
But because being here is much, and because all this
that's here, so fleeting, seems to require us and strangely
concerns us. Us the most fleeting of all. Just once,
everything, only for once. Once and no more. And we, too,
once. And never again. But this
having been once on earth - can it ever be canceled?"
As Hillman says, the peak (spirit) wipes out history. Rilke's question, which become an assertion in his asking, (that "having been?" which is to be historical and eternal) asserts that history can never be canceled. It is continuing human creativity which evolves not only human kind via creatures and creation but also the Abstract, the Peak, Spirit.
Lest it be thought that I am voting for sickness over health, gravity over levity, Jamesian distinctions, I suggest that to be is to express and to attest to and for the Blind Universe, that Wholey Other Eternal Abstraction, of the implicate fullness of material being, of incarnation from quantum to quarry where physical being is an agony and an ecstasy and all between. It is this experience with its words, its knowledge, Rilke says, that we bring to the discarnate "angelic" spirit realms:
"Praise this world to the Angel, not the untellable: you
can't impress him with the splendour you've felt...So show him
some simple thing, refashioned by age after age,
till it lives in our hands and eyes as a part of ourselves.
Tell him things."
Refashioned by age after age -- in other words, by history. These things have soul, are soul, are ensouled by our conscious physical existence and our responsiveness in the vales. John Tarrant, a Buddhist, Jungian-oriented psychotherapist and poet says as much in these opening lines:
"There is a blessed fidelity in things.
Graceless things grow lovely with good uses."
And this is true of ourselves. Practical and pragmatic the soul is.
Religion Of Peaks,
Religion Of Vales,
Of Giants And Small Things
While continuing the creative/destructive struggle over my ordination thesis, after having discovered "Peaks and Vales" by Hillman, I spoke of it with my brother, Larry, a Christian minister with an inner city ministry in West Philadelphia, a vale if ever there was one. We often share with each other what we are reading and thinking, our both having voracious appetites for both. Upon hearing me out in the latest throe and woe, Larry read to me from a tale, The Hammer of God by C.K. Chesterton, a well-known British theologian and writer in the early 1900's. In the tale Chesterton writes of peaks and vales as religious attitudes, too, and of a preference for vales, and of the use or misuse and the danger of religious peaks:
"I think there is something rather dangerous about standing on these high places even to pray," said Father Brown. "Heights were made to be looked at, not to be looked from."
"Do you mean that one may fall over," asked Wilfred.
"I mean that one's soul may fall if one's body doesn't," said the other priest.
"I scarcely understand you," remarked Bohun indistinctly.
"Look at that blacksmith, for instance," went on Father Brown calmly; "a good man, but not a Christian--hard, imperious, unforgiving. Well, his Scotch religion [Presbyterian Scotch Calvinism] was made up by men who prayed on hills and high crags, and learnt to look down on the world more than to look up at heaven. Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak."
Practical Mysticism--Pragmatism Of Peaks, Pragmatism Of Vales, Of ML King, Jr. And Jacob's Wrestle With The Angel
A seminary professor whose name I cannot recall -- Johnson? -- who taught Martin Luther King, Jr, made an astute and magnificent statement which could be and is here, at least, a text for practical mysticism integrating both peaks and vales:
"The more I relate to everything everywhere
[peaks language, unity and one, spirit], the more
I must relate to something somewhere
[vale language, diversity, many, soul]."
King knew him some valleys. He also knew knew him some peaks. He surely "had been to the mountaintop" and had seen what lay ahead, "the promised land" below, in the valley. Right use of peaks, to speak pragmatically, is just this having the vision, seeing below and what lies ahead, all the while knowing that there is the "what remains to be seen" for "we see through a glass darkly" even from the peak" though the challenged glass may break. And then? One brails upon the descending trails to depths in order to arrive, strive, hopefully thrive toward the "milk and honey" land, the bread to be made there swelling beneath the enfolded shrouded vales. Speech will come. The dumbness ever dumb still sings for the soul compels it "and the world wags" dialectically on (William Shakespeare). There is an Italian proverb which lays the dialectic out with a tricksterish word at the end to guarantee continual flux of being in time and what can be known : "The world wags on with three things: doing, undoing, and pretending," from "before" + præ-tendere "to aim, stretch, extend" from PIE base *ten- "to stretch", a stretching before or a before stretch implying something ahead, imaginally leapt or gained, darkly fetched or filched.
In the wag of the world there are, indeed, authentic 'peak' experiences integrating conflicting opposites within and without which turns one toward a more expansive embrace of the givens of human existence, full spectrum living which Zorba the Greek calls the "full catastrophe": "Zorba replies: "Am I not a man? And is not a man stupid? I’m a man. So I married. Wife, children, house, everything. The full catastrophe." This is very much the "wag on world with the three things, doing, undoing, pretending", peak and vale, the full mountain lived from top to bottom.
The "typically American" insistence upon so-called happiness, an exaggeration and an idolatry of peaks, a mania of material acquisition of extroverted extreme experiences (from TV's Survivor series to extreme sports to speed dating to strangling oneself or another while masturbating or copulating and so on) results in the ongoing epidemic of addictions (peaks) and epidemic depression, a vale which is meant to bring us down to earth out of identity with peaks and onto and into the earth, a compensation for being too high, too inflated, too "god-almighty" and flighty. One need only reread of Icarus and his identification with the Sun, flying too close, to see him and our culture spun and spinning down to earth where paradoxically, many a "peak" experience is to be had in the valley haplessly encountering the hard ground or the daemon or chthonic spirit/eesh which renders an end to the old ego identity (Jacob of Judaic scriptures,for instance) bringing forth a more authentic and related -to-something-somewhere self (again, Once-Was-Jacob-Now-Israel, meaning in Hebrew, one who has prevailed with God, or as my kabbalah teacher, Shira Kober-Zeller translates, God wrestler).
O run from those sunny ones who
know not and wrestle not with the
might awaken and make "a broken music"
rather than a bliss-ninny, one-note
hummana hum-aum-ana humming
in droning sameness for eternity.
Droll, I tell you, droll!!
know not and wrestle not with the
"unnamed occluded god(s)" wherein the wound which is a blessing one
might awaken and make "a broken music"
rather than a bliss-ninny, one-note
hummana hum-aum-ana humming
in droning sameness for eternity.
Droll, I tell you, droll!!
In more detail here, the Biblical story of Jacob and the Angel wrestling in the desert place the whole night long is a soul story underscoring what is to be gained in the valley -- a blessing hard fought for where the progeny of Jacob continually historically wrestle over disputed birthrights to securely bordered land. Jacob, a liar, trickster, thief and mama's boy (she colluded in Jacob's stealing his older twin brother Esau's birthright by deceiving his blind father), has fled being pursued by Esau, by conscience, by shadow which burgeoned so forcefully that he spent many a day and night in the exiled, waste places. Knowing that his brother's armies were not but a day's journey or two from his being captured and justly punished Jacob encounter in the night a dark spirit, an eesh in Hebrew tongue (eesh is cognate to the name of who was pursuing Jacob, Eeshau, Esau, his swindled brother), with which he wrestled the long night through. Jacob was forced to fight back, to push against the dark force which had so often driven him to unconscionable, egotistical, power mad crimes. This wrestling in the vale, a peak experience if ever there was one, not a happy one but an equally integrating and disintegrating one bearing within it the ongoing internal and historical struggle with hems, boundaries and borders, was a finalizing confrontation with his power devil, his shadow, and with the shadowy deity manifesting in history. As the horizon was beginning to brighten with the coming light of dawn, Jacob, wounded in the thigh (a euphemism for genitals) held tightly to the eesh who, tables reversed, struggled to get free for being a creature of the darkness (the unconscious) it could not endure the daylight. "I will not let you go until you bless me," Jacob demanded. And thus he was blessed by the night-veiled one of the dark vale, the shadow -- his name would now be Israel, God-wrestler.
This story illustrates a pragmatism of vales where one has the disorienting to be reoriented encounter with That which has become fated to be lived and wrestled with until a blessing comes forth. Here is an important soul truth, oh healthy and sick minded ones, that it is pragmatic to wrestle with and demand a blessing from the Dark, the Concealed, the Hidden Contrary in need of a good gripe and grapple hard-scrabble in the gravel and grave of the vale which in the Biblical story Jacob named Penial, meaning, face of god encountered in darkness, veiled, unnamed (for when Jacob asked the eesh its name it refused to give one. I imagine it responding this way, "Don't ask. If I told you I would have to kill you.") No blessing is guaranteed and the blessing which comes may not at all appear as one thinks and affirms a blessing ought to appear. Jacob/Israel may have limped for the rest of his life for enduring and prevailing in the night-long battle but limped he was not, meaning flaccid, drooping, slack, loose, to hang down; also, limbus "hem, border". Interestingly, synchronistically, only in this sense of limbus-limp was Jacob/Israel now historically hemmed in, a border, a literal nation battling still over borders feeling hemmed in by shadows wanting the sacred ground, too, a hemmed in place where history and archetype still uncomfortably meet.
The alchemy of vales can make the very wound the very blessing but one must endure the vale and also know a peak or two in order to endure the dark night where one's peak vision is tested, destroyed, depotentiated or made all the more potent with the lingering stench of eesh and flesh at odds. In the vale, in the waste place, the potential for the decisive and fated transformative encounter may occur and it may be death. In vale religion death admits one even more deeply into history, into ancestral being, with Days of the Dead and other thin-veiled dead soul visitations and interactions with the living in time.
And between the two
the liminal nowhere where
there is no there there yet
one is riveted to the spot.
What emerges there
between peak and vale
was but now is not
but is historical, mythos,
narrative and scar, character,
which speaks to existence,
to having been, to presence as
witness and response no matter
the every where, some where,
nowhere one may find oneself
or selves at, in, with and for.
There is an ecstasy of suffering
equal to that of happiness. One
need only look at images of so-called
saints the world over, their eyes
rolled back into their heads,
excruciating visages hard to read --
joy or pain?
Twice born means twice dead.
How strange is life where a Biblical swindler becomes a nation blessed with generativity beyond measure and born again for all the eesh wrestling to new error and thus to new consciousness. As Carl Jung says, "We must make mistakes. We must live out our own vision of life. And there will be error. If you avoid error you do not live...Carry through your life as well as you can even if it is based on error, because life has to be undone, and one often gets to truth through error...So be human, seek understanding, seek insight, and make your hypothesis, your philosophy of life. Then we may recognize the Spirit alive in the unconscious of every individual," (C.G. Jung Speaking, Princeton University Press, pg. 98).
And thus history wags, unfolds, peak and vale,tooth and nail, spirit and soul seeing and singing "through the glass, a kind of veil, darkly" with swearing and praise to the end while never ceasing to marvel at "the dark loveliness of the glass." The tales tell us so. We contribute our own leaving many sentences dangling in the vales where dangle is allowed or, dangling on the edge of a peak because we have been too long too high, our soul demands that we come down by any means necessary to the "necessary angel of the earth" (Wallace Stevens), the valley, the cleft where that angel, the angel of the Imagination, does its work in the human soul, doing, undoing, pretending.
[Should you wish to go directly to further account of Father Will, his biography and more dreams during the counseling work scroll down to Father Will Dreams And The Dream of His-Story.]
Some Gratuitious Personal Thoughts
I have said already and it bears repeating that 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 responses 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 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 to his and the culture's 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 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 overt positivity upon tho ego-identified way too dour sour puss, what Jung calls negative inflation. The psyche does not want saintliness but, rather, wholeness which does not mean perfection but maturing, ripening, evolving and developing in time as one integrates both positive and negative aspects of self, the opposites, which insist upon living what Zorba the Greek calls the "full catastrophe" of fuller humanity, halos 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 ultimately meaningful 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 of the 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 he, American pragmatism, New Thought and other push-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 intuitively channeled/written 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, radio and TV talk shows, and 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 material stuff which we are told will make one happy.
Louis Menand's excellent book, The Metaphysical Club, 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 Hicks and other psychically channeled material Menand's book provides foundation to what has come to be a religious phenomenon of push-positive thinking that could never have happened anywhere but in the extroverted sensation temperament of the United States.
Father Will Dreams 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. [To be continued. I am currently working on more about Father Will soon to be published here.] *********************************Appendix One:
[The following, excerpts of a letter by the Dalai Lama, is quoted from James Hillman's book, The Puer Papers, Spring Publications Inc, 1979 pg. 59.] "...The relation of height to spiritualitity is not merely metaphorical. It is a physical reality. The most spirit- ual people on the planet live in the highest places. So do the most spiritual flowers...I call the high and the light aspects of my being spirit and the dark and heavy aspect soul. Soul is at home in the deep, shaded valleys. Heavy torpid flowers saturated with black grow there. The river flows like warm syrup. They empty into huge oceans of soul. Spirit is a land of high, white peaks and glittering jewel- like lakes and flowers. Life is sparse and sounds travel great distances. There is soul music, soul food, soul dancing, and soul love... When the soul triumphed, the herdsmen came to the lama- series, for soul is communal and loves humming in unison. But the creative soul craves spirit. Out of the jungles of the lamasery, the most beautiful monks one day bid fare- well to their comrades and go make their solitary journey toward the peaks, there to mate with the cosmos... No spirit broods over the lofty desolation; for desolation is of the depths, as is brooding. At these heights, spirit leaves soul far behind... People need to climb the mountain not simply because it is there but because the soulful divinity needs to be mated with the spirit...[abbreviated]" END Hillman's comments immediately following the Dalai Lama's letter amplify the use of peaks/spirit and vale/soul: May I point out one or two little curiosities in this letter. They may help us to see the further contrast be- tween soul and spirit. First, did you notice how import- ant it is to be literal and not "merely metaphorical" when one takes the spiritual viewpoint? Also, this view- point requires the physical sensation pf height, of "highs." Then, did you see that it is the most beauti- ful monks who leave their brothers, and that their mating is with the cosmos, a mating that is compared with snow? ...And finally, have you noticed the two sorts of anima symbolism: the dark, heavy, torpid flowers by the rivers of warm syrup and the virginal petaled flowers of the glaciers? ...We can recognize what is spiritual by its style of imagery and language; so with soul. To give definitions of spirit and soul -- the one abstract, unified, concen- trated; the other concrete, multiple, immanent -- puts the distinction and the problem into language of spirit." ********************************** Appendix Two 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. I '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 haphazardly upon as luck would have it. Be sure to read the entire list. Some great names to call people!!! Here is the link to what is below: [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search= happiness&searchmode=none] "Hobbit
- 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."