[St. Gregory With Three Scribes. Artist Unknown. Relief: ivory Height: 8 in. (20.3 cm) Tenth century CE Site: Probably Reichenau, Germany Location: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. Click on the image to enlarge it. Please note the bird at St. Gregory's ear, that he writes with a feather pen, inspired]
Demon or bird! (said the boy's soul,)
Is it indeed toward your mate you sing? or is it really to me?
For I, that was a child, my tongue's use sleeping, now I have heard you, Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake...
Never more shall I escape, never more the reverberations,
Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent from me,
Never again leave me to be the peaceful child I was before what there,
In the night, by the sea, under the yellow and sagging moon,
The messenger there arous’d—the fire, the sweet hell within,
The unknown want, the destiny of me.
-Walt Whitman, from "Out Of The Cradle Endlessly Rocking"
Symbols have valid and legitimate effects only when they serve to change our psychic state or conscious attitude. Their effects are illegitimate and dangerous when applied in a magical way to physical reality. - Edward F. Edinger [see full quote and attribution in the text below]
I'll come to reality! but only as a tourist! - Murray, Jason Robards' character in "A Thousand Clowns" by Herb Gardner
Questioner : Teaching One, then why is my mind and my heart breaking?
Lama Sorghem : (Long silence, then) I am for trance. I am for all trance which enhances life in in-fleshed pants and skirts...in breaking minds and hearts, and all other parts! Not being flip here. I am only slip-streaming...
(Silence, then) Listen. Hear me. Trances which serve only as a means to escape 'what is', what is here...what is a given, its insistent crush and...what needs to be released from within - this is a large part of the history of religion, is it not? for it hurts to be here - ...trance may provide needed temporary respite and relief BUT when concretized into and sanctified as received dogmas of escape, then these devalue the material creation and all her creatures...and THAT is to blaspheme Life and its Creator...THAT is to devalue bodies...bodies which can hold hands! Marvelous that, is it not? ...Your poet, Theodore Roethke, says it right - great scripture, this - "Things with hands, take hands." I repeat it.
"Things with hands, take hands."
Yes? Yes? (Reaches out his hand to the questioner).
See?! I just now offered you my hand and you reached for it. Yes? This is trance - offered hands...reaching hands...taking hands. But..EYES OPEN! MINDS OPEN!! Yes?
(Silence, then)...But the heart is promiscuous and easily seduced. And I love the heart. But one is not only heart...ONE IS NOT ONLY HEART. Yes? There are eyes and minds. Yes? And there are hands which do as they are bidden by eyes, hearts, minds...And, most important of all, often bidden by That Greater Personality Which Is Within You. Jung calls it archetypal psyche, the Self. It is not Freud's personal psyche alone. Yes? It is not the ego...you must try to get out of that inflation...this tenet that the ego creates the unconscious! It is quite the opposite...The ego extends, a hand of sorts, from the deeper beyond-personal unconscious. The not-I. Wholey Other. Yes? The Greater Personality...which is not a person, not an ego. Greater Personality can compel a reach not derived from the personal unconscious. With mind one may find That Which Is Doing The REACHING, THAT WHICH DRIVES THE REACH ITSELF!
(Long silence, then) These dogmas of escape also blaspheme and devalue our bodies' miraculous minds with which Greater Personality is always manifestly interpreting Itself in uncountable ways - interpretations of Greater Personality...by Greater Personality-as-us writ small but significantly. Yes, yes, yes! Yes? We mean so very much! all our lived stories told by us living humans, and other manifestations of life. The Greater Personality is there in it all, reaching, taking...and talking, talking...Spinning. Spinning. One reason we sit in silence for a time. Yes? We mistakenly misconstrue maya as illusion. It is much much more than that. But this is for another time to talk. And it is also true that we sit for no reason. Yes?
(Silence, then) Say - what does a spider reveal of the Maker?
Ah, for this question, it's answer, one must...slip-stream in the mire. Don't give up this question so easy! Sit with it. Yes? But know this, next time you meet a spider you cannot help it, you go into a trance! And like Little Miss Muffet, you do not sit any longer! You are compelled by Fate to move, and quickly so! And that perhaps is a sufficient answer. Yes? To respond to what is offered. (Laughter). An exitentialist philospher, Heinemann, says this is to live, to truly live, "Respondeo, ergo sum." I respond, therefore I am. Yes? So! Just move. Fate wants response. Fate wants to move you. So...just...dance. Only dance! Make your body a big question mark and move like that. "Question mark" yoga. Yes? (Laughter) New yoga. First time. Right here. Today. Fresh direct from spidery hands and minds. Yes? Yes? (More laughter, falls to silence).
(Then) All these trances? Spats. Just spats with Reality. Your Frost poet, the cold one. He says, "Lovers quarrels." Yes. That's all. You see now? So easy...so easy. We must quarrel as lovers do with existence. That is a kind of dance, too. Yes?
Why not big spider spats? Yes?
With so many possibilities of hands to take.
Same questioner: Then, Teaching One, why is my mind and my heart still breaking?
- Lama Dorje Sorghem Dungen, Sartorial And Arterial Dreams, The Art Of Slip-Streaming When Mud Refuses To Inspire, Interviews And Asides, Moon Of Alabama Press, Limited publication, Slumberton, Alabama, 1967, pg. xxi footnote
You start escaping into the other!...And don't seek consolations because cheap consolations are available. The mind is very clever in supplying them. When you ask, "who am I?" the mind can supply immediately an answer and the mind is very clever. Mind says, "You are god. You are a soul...immortal soul." These are the ideas of the magician put in the heads of poor sheep. The magician suggests to a few that you are lions, to few that you are eagles, to a few that you are man, to a few that you are even magicians!
- Bhagwan Rajneesh, Opening remarks transcribed from a discourse,"Aloneness Is Tremendously Beautiful", Osho International Foundation, Zurich Switzerland.
The journey from cloud cuckoo land lasted a long time. In my case Pilgrim's Progress consisted in my having to climb down a thousand ladders until I could reach out my hand to the little clod of dirt that I am.
- Jung Letters, Vol. 1, pg. 19 footnote
THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness...
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
- Gerard Manley Hopkins, from "God's Grandeur"
The Business Of Trance, Minding Our And God's Business - A Loathe Story, Part "The One": The Religious (And Greater) Instinct From And For Which The Sexual and Power Instincts Derive-Drive Enthusiatically Along Panentheistic Paths
Religions are in the trance business. Oh, and also the "Grandeur Business". And one cannot draw near to "Grandeur" without also nearing it's shadow, grandiosity, which makes the business of god and god-trances tricky and blood-sticky, a veritible human sin and skin trade for deity wampum and "whomp 'em". Herein is a short, short history of human religions, a drive/strive for a god-gain.
Try as we might and may we cannot be free of the religious instinct within us which, as Jung says, both the sexual and power instincts are expressions and drives toward (See C.J. Jung's, Flying Saucers, A Modern Myth Of Things Seen In The Sky, pgs 44 - 56). Sex and power, forbidden though "fraught-with/fought-with" domains which religions seek to sublimate are not easily spiritualised ala ego acetic agendas to "tame the savage beast", its alpha drive and mating strains. Beneath both these impulses, these drives, is that greater instinct, the religious one, which makes all our striving and failing with both essentially meaningful, less punitive, less, well, Freudian and Adler-ian, not so much to be overcome as to be translated as "frought with the divine" (See any number of Sufi poets to confirm this truth, redeem the tooth, reclaim the grope for godhood's good). One seeks then the "god" within both eros and power striving to arrive consciously framed as Rimbaud calls them, evident at "any altar...impulses toward perfection (from, The Drunken Boat, Poem Two). It can be said that drives are trances which explains our animal-blind obedience to nerves for in them lie nascent, all powerful, implicated "nirvana" which in Sanskrit means, "blown out" as in "a flame extinguished." Some sublime - not sublimated ala Freud or church or acetic, gnostic, life-force negating religious movement or group - bliss is gained via the "Via Negativa", the "Neti Neti Path", the "No. No To Noodles-And-Noddling-And-All-That Traipse" - Not this, not that. Some sublime thing known by what it is not. Trance not trance. That neti neti dance Lama Sorghem advances above.
Now then: "Neti neti, ergo sum".
And it must be pointed out for wholeness/holdness sake that there are three other Vias/Paths to take, phases, facets, faces, phrases of relationship between the human and the other/Other/Wholey Other - Nature and Nuances beyond the five senses but not beyond because the senses fail or flail. They, too, reveal and are revelations. It is the "medicine wheel" of Creation Spirituality ala Meister Eckhart and Matthew Fox who currently interprets it to us. Creation spirituality is creation-centered which acknowledges and honors creation pan-en-theistically . Wikipedia is helpful here: Panentheism (from Greek (pân) "all"; (en) "in"; and (theós) "God"; "all-in-God") is a belief system which posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well. - wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism). Thus God is revealed in the particulars. William Blake encourages us, therefore,to “Labour Well the Minute Particulars, attend to the Little-ones” (William Blake, Jerusalem, plate 55, line 51. Complete Poetry and Prose, ed. Erdman, pg. 205).
To companion and inflect the Via Negativa there are the Via Positiva, Via Creativa, and Via Transformativa. These three paths are inherent companions to the Via Negativa. To read and celebrate this wheel and its spokes (spokens/speakings) of revelation, parsed as Particulars as well as panned (as in "pan" - all, everything-at-once) read Matthew Fox's "conversations" with Meister Eckhart in Breakthrough: Meister Eckhart's Creation Spirituality In New Translation.
To resume, wheeling on:
With popular New Age beliefs now permeating collective culture, with the growth of New Age training programs and seminaries, trance is a major part of the curriculum these days to be studied and experienced. Makes sense. Yes? And great mana is to be gained to the tranciest entrancers with pearly wisdom and powers gained. Indeed, many texts used in these programs are those written by people in trance which are received as "holy writ" but are purposefully understated, referred to as "information" so called, a preferred neutral term used since "revelation" and "prophesy" are charged theological terms which the New Age studiously tries to avoid hoping that the veneer of supposed empiricism and objectivity regarding the "sources" of channeling will be less dubious to thinking minds, to critical thinking minds regarding the subject matter of the text. In all of Jane Roberts "Seth Books which are transcripted recordings of the channeled teachings of that ghostly visitor and spirit wiseacre, the amiable and extroverted "Seth", her husband Robert Butts plentifully, relentlessly and dutifully (and irritatingly) recorded his own experiences and observations of himself, Jane, Jane-as-Seth, before, during and after the hundreds if not thousands of hours of channeled sessions. Jane recorded her own observations and experiences of herself and "herSeth", in an attempt to be objective and, I presume, for readers and students to come who may question, as they should, the verity and setting for Seth visitations, his copious expositions.
It is commonly believed that these channeled sources such as Seth are wiser, more spiritually and now scientifically evolved, viz. Ramtha, J. Z. Knight's etheric visitor financing and fan-dangling with pipe and tobacco props in the surprise hit movie, "What The Bleep Do We Know" with its plethora of experts, more props still, from the sciences as well as religion. However, in fairness, these trance channeled teachings are not an aberration in the history of religion since most sacred scriptures of recognized and valued world religions are - it is believed, taught and preached - revealed to men in trance who wrote what they heard and saw as they were instructed and compelled by divine sources to do. And these revelations are truth which may, it is hoped, render us, and unto us, an experience and a relationship with the divine.
There is a marvelous ivory carving, tenth century [see image above], of St. Gregory, an early bishop of Rome, holding a pen with a dove at his ear dictating what he is writing down. St. Gregory wrote prolifically, one book being "a book of miracles to uplift the citizenry of his beleagured city." George R. Elder in his book, The Body, An Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism, further describes the ivory image pictured above :
Curtains have been pulled aside, and we witness a little bird perched on the bishop's right shoulder, its beak at the man's ear. This is the traditional dove that symbolizes the inspiration of the Holy Spirit...In the register below are posed variously three scribes with large, doll-like heads (typical the period's art), presumably copying, somewhat sleepily, the inspired words of the larger, more important figure. - Elder, pg. 197
This image speaks of an archetypal event repeated throughout world history, an archetypal motif of an experience of revelation from a divine source and an obedient, submissive scribe-priest (or shaman, or grandmothers/grandfathers preserving what has been an received via oral history passed on, and many other similar functionaries with "birds-at-ear" or the equivalent). It is therefore not unusual for the New Age religious to claim and proclaim inspiration from a variety of inspiring un- or once-were-worldy-Other sources which deliver the miraculous and magical to us, the "beleagured citizens" of a nuclear, post-modern age seeking meaning amidst the cyber-swarm of texts and images contexted solely within the medium of its conveyance blinking be-screened and variously i-proffered tourettedly before us in nano-seconds unfilling a falsely linear day on a faux flat monitor, a delusional enmeshment of digital quanta and bio-chemical nerve endings which have yet to deliver us from the dream and expectation, o endlessly, of apocalyptic endings. Thus we need befriendings from the "Other Side" to betide snide modernity, its slick knowledge, now selling us the "divine" corporately focus grouped but NOT corporeally for after all "this too too solid flesh" must be dissolved and "escaped into a dew" dewy transcendence:
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
- William Shakespeare. Act 1 Scene2: O That This Too Solid Flesh Would Melt (Spoken by Hamlet)
The image of St. Gregory and his scribes depicts not only trance and a divine messenger but also the earnest obedient scribes hard at work in the exacting labor of conscious transcription and, it is hoped and most certainly needed, meaningful translation into lived quotidian of profane reality. Touching the sacred the dove enters the profane world which creates a heirophanic (revealing of the sacred) experience which is then subject to interpretations as to what it means in regards to this material world. Mircea Eliade in his book, The Sacred And The Profane, writes that once the Really Real and Wholey Other Sacred Reality enters the Less Real but Real Nonetheless Profane reality both sacred and profane are transformed. One could with some authority argue that the proof of authentic religious experience as propounded by any religion, recognized or other, is whether both the sacred and the profane are transformed via the heirophanic meeting of extrordinary reality with ordinary reality, presumably for the better, the greater good; well, at least for the profane realm. How would we really know if the Wholey Other is transformed except for a hint of that transformation via the ever evolving and transforming god images throughout conscious human history? By history we know that we have changed by our shifts in consciousness. If Consciousness is "God" then we may extrapolate that It/God, too, changes, evolves in a co-dependent (used descriptively, not in its usual description of pathological relationship) dance of changes. Our gods as is our species and evolving creation are "not done," to steal a phrase from the poet, Stanley Kunitz, "with [their] changes" (from, "The Layers", The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz).
Granted, all this flux and flummoxed-ness regarding the sacred, its images and the concrete poured upon and around them, is the source of ancient and ongoing current religious debates and holy wars which greatly complicates things since variations and inflections of the "St. Gregory bird-at-the-ear" image can be found in all cultures, each one prescribing THE sacrality for the profane eyes and ears of ordinary mortals saddled with "too too solid flesh" while longing and hoping to "dissolve" then resolve "into a" meaningful and final "dew." But whose is the Absolute Bird True? How do we tolerate all the Filled With Whispering, At Times Cawing, Holy Aviary? These ongoing questions are never satisfactorily answered though many purport to have finally and absolutely done so. Hence the trees are full winged things sounding it all out in all weathers. When beneath that din one must hear and heed, don't sit in that raucous tree shade. One head may feel such droppings, sacred and profane, and stain one's hope with digested seeds and grains unremovable. But they can, O Mercurius, be reframed.
Trance, Tautology, and Homo Sapiens Prehensile Intuition
Trance and sacred experience are evidently and evidentially tautological, viz., A is equal to A. A religion of any kind without trance does not at all function in the way the very word "religion" indicates, meaning "to link back, to connect again, to relink, to reconnect" to essentially vitalizing and revitalizing sources and forces rendering meaning.
Earliest homo sapiens intuited that there was more to material existence and being here than meets, as I like to say, "the eye or thigh." It could be said that the history of human consciousness beginning with earliest "just rational" (self reflective thinking) hominids has been an ongoing attempt to understand, explicate and manipulate what is within those primal and archetypal intuitions apparently available in examining any and every inner and outer object of reality. The world was then and is now charged with Light, Hopkins' "shook foil" indeed, that Light being Consciousness Itself. However, since the beginning of this human consciousnes, this light, it has been concretized, reified in things as things, this earliest error still ongoingly, cross-culturally made when interpreting symbols.
Called the "concretistic fallacy", Edward F. Edinger helpfully defines this as an inability "to distinguish symbols of the archetypal psyche from concrete reality. Inner symbolical images are experienced as being real, external facts. Examples of this fallacy are animistic beliefs...hallucinations and delusions of psychotics, and superstitions of all kinds. Confused mixtures of psychic and physical reality such as the practice of alchemy, astrology, and the numerous present-day cults of healing (my italics for emphatic focus) fall into this category. The same fallacy is at work in those religious believers who misunderstand symbolic religious images to refer to literal concrete facts and mistake their own personal and parochial religious convictions for universal and absolute truth. There is a danger of succumbing to the concretistic fallacy whenever we are tempted to apply a symbolic image to external physical facts for the purpose of manipulating those facts in our own interest. Symbols have valid and legitimate effects only when they serve to change our psychic state or conscious attitude. Their effects are illegitimate and dangerous when applied in a magical way to physical reality." (Edward Edinger, Ego And Archetype, Individuation And The Religious Function Of The Psyche, Penguin Books, 1972, pg. 111.
And succumb to this fallacy we will and often do, especially in this mostly western, middle and upper class New Age which is more than prone to magical thinking. It is come by honestly enough since intuition does appear to be magical since it is acausal, synchronistic, and does not follow logical patterns of thought, that sequential experience of thinking/sensing/perceiving in Newtonian time and space. The experience of intuition is, indeed, "magical", many preferring the concretistic use of symbols and the archetypal energies they derive from the experience which has put one in touch with the living symbolic life. There are several mistakes here, dangerous ones, the most common being the reduction of a symbol to a sign, an "only just". Another greater danger is psychological inflation which comes from identifying with a symbol, its archetypal image, energy and content, a very real temptation, viz, Hitler, Stalin, Timothy McVeigh, Amy Semple McPherson, Joel Osteen and others to name only a harmful few. All of us have access to the archetypes and their energies. All can use them. "But to what purposes?" is the question. The importance of personal ongoing and continuous shadow work is underscored with this question. There is no resting on one's spiritual laurels no matter how many birds sit upon them with your initials tattooed in golden filigree upon their heavenly smooth, feathered breasts, no matter how psychic, intuitive and power-filled one becomes, no matter the crowds of supplicants and psychophants sitting at one's feet, coffers filling, reputations expanding, trances spectacular and lucrative all around.
More On Intuition And Trance Channels
Intuition has always been a part of sacred experience, the New Age being no exception; however, in the New Age with its now multitudinous channelers, (prophets by another name, but this is a theologically charged word which may, if used, detract from any empirical authority the channel gains as one who seeks objective knowledge regarding the phenomenon since objectivity alludes to empiricism and the empirical scientific method. Intuitive channels seek - and frankly need - authoritative weight for what is revealed, its method and its message in a real sense being one package. Channelers are trance orators of what/who they believe to be elevated knowers, spirits, teachers, energies from a variety of interpreted sources, star beings, aliens (the Pleiadean material which was a best seller in the '80s and '90s"), angels, devas, earth (abstracted) spirits, long dead (and therefore wiser?) human souls now returned to teach and guide humanity into a variety of transcendent awakenings and achievements with a goals of transforming into Light, always away from materiality. This Light, or THE Light, is the goal, the refined, astral/etheric planes are believed to be of greater value than any incarnate, carbon-based plane, being or object, which are lower manifestations of Light in the New Age very loosely formed and hardly thought out cosmology, it being a pastiche of pilfered plumes from many world religions and global indigenous rituals and beliefs mixed with white upper and middle class narcissism with a penchant for "stuff", for material goods all the while disappearing into "Light" (but not too too far from their "stuff").
There is neither time nor space in this essay to go into gnosticism as a historical philosophical and theological movement which was and should be seriously studied by anyone who proclaims to partake of New Age "thought" (I use this word "thought" reluctantly for I have found thinking, critical thinking, greatly deficient in New Age believers and teachers, their being embarrassingly, naively gullible and susceptible, taking as fact just about anything that is trance channeled as divinely revealed "information". The New Age is mostly a neo-gnostic movement, though I use "neo-gnostic" hesitantly not wanting to give weight to the New Age where there is none for, alas, much of its weight is money, not in intellect and discriminatory thinking. Even the word "guru" which sends thrills and chills up New Agers spines means "heavy" which certainly implies some gravitas and substance to the Teacher. But this is not to be found in most New Agers who tend to be light, fluffy-puffy intellectually and as Carl Jung once described some obstinate folks who preferred to purposely misunderstand and misinterpret his psychology, "maliciously stupid."
The New Age is often performance based. Channels are trance performances, rituals are performances where emotions are titillated, followers are consolidated into supposed "mystery schools" of elitist knowers of occult, "secret" knowledge which of late, if not of past, is mostly a haphazard rehash of hardly or not studied gnostic hits and misses mixed with ever popular and slightly shape-shifting "positive thinking" movements which have not much evolved since their inception in the "mind-cure" movement so prominent among American masses in the late 1800's. The successful, wealthy charismatic teachers and preachers in this movement then and now made and make most of their gelt from their followers who tithe from tighter belts hoping to "be like them" the blessed mani-festering prophets who expound pathological positivity while collecting fame and fortune pound for pound.
Unlike the historical gnostics who seriously thought (and, yes, felt) through their beliefs with engaged intellects regarding these mysterious experiences and "revelations" of archetypal psyche, what their source or sources are, and to what purpose they served personally and culturally, the New Age is essentially a-historical though it purports to hearken back even to pre-history or if history must be included to and partake of supposed ancestral teachings and rituals of indigenous and other religious, mostly parenthetical, groups and movements. There is much, indeed, in the parentheses. That which is rejected or consigned to back alleys of thought often contains consciously rejected and repressed shadow truths called "heresies". For all conscious and consciously constructed cosmologies there exist their equivalent shadow cosmologies. This is found in ALL systems of thought. That which is left out or spurned does not disappear. It reappears as radioactive heretics and apostates to the received and canonized teachers and teachings, even within "peace loving, blessings bestowing" New Agers who curse others with positives which are curses nonetheless.
I have found the New Age movement to be more hysterical than historical, incredulity and gullibility more the norm than not. Not all but many followers are indeed light - light in the loafers. Dissociation and loose association in both channeler and followers are reframed as mantras, magical ancient sounds and similar all used for inductive purposes and all subjected to that channeled Other's, as well as its channeler's, interpretation of the channeling event, the "information" revealed, and its affect upon channel and audience. There is an extreme rejection of the profane, of everyday reality, of critical intellect and thinking. There is an uncritical acceptance of and taking-as-fact just about any and everything channeled no matter how split off and fantastical the "revelation" with little or no accounting for psychology, archetypal, analytical, developmental, or social, regarding the said event and manifestation of channelers and channeled material. There is also rarely accountability held to and by the channeler, what is channeled, and the effect of what is channeled.
The last channeling session I ever attended was in a seminary where the unnamed but obvious leader of the program - it was idealistically supposed to be a leaderless group - channeled regarding what new directions the seminary was to take in the near future. The channeler essentially channeled her view, her program changes, her dream for the program while the hearers sat (some of them, not me) entranced, too, receiving the "good news" and proposed changes as divinely, intuitively inspired. And in the months following that channeled revelation the leader piece by piece dismantled the program as it was, deconstructing it according to her will and way. Circumstances arose which allowed her to "in good conscious" essential end the program and "to take her ball and go home." How does one argue with this when the collective feeders buy the channeler and the channeled material as authoritative and "good" and "for their own good" when it most certainly satisfies the power drives and desires of the leader?
Carl Jung remains still hundreds of years ahead of the field in the study of trance phenomena manifest throughout human history and is currently manifesting prolifically with all the force of media and entertainment industries behind them. Rather than seriously studying what Jung so earnestly and astutely researched and experienced to the continual ongoing rejection and ridicule by the culture at large, by both psychology and religion, the New Age has co-oped Jung as their own prophet, adulterating his findings as proof texts for their often weightless, ungrounded, unexamined experiences and teachings. Yes, these experiences are indeed manifestations of the psyche, of the unconscious, but they must be examined and weighed, consciously engaged, egos to archetypes, so that one is not to become as Jung once described "dumb fish" who willfully forfeit freedom of will and mind to collective and archetypal demands for submission, exchanging autonomy for conformity embraced by the collective (as fish are embraced by water). Yet they remain un-individuated though they may access and manipulate powerful archetypal forces and heal and speak with the tongues of angels [see appendix below]. With all the archetypal powers at their disposal, still, it is not individuation, integration of shadow, of anima, of animus, in a conscious relationship to the unconscious, the Self.
Jung wrote appreciatively and thoughtfully of the gnostics giving much study and credence to gnostic thought as evident of archetypal dimensions of the human psyche from whence even the childishly fantastical channelings of many are derived (which does not necessarily make them sacred). I recommend, no! I prescribe a much needed and long overdue compensating balance and antidote to "Spirituality Lite" - those New Age amalgamations and adulterations in cartoon form no matter how seriously spun by the prophets, coffers filling, their followers hopeful pockets emptying - a serious study of Jung and the gnostics along with undertaking a long term Jungian-oriented therapy, inquiry, analysis, counseling which delves deeply into the shadow, the inner masculine and feminine, whicdh explores personal history with an awareness of the archetypal underpinnings of personal and collective complexes, of personal familial and collective shadow, those mythic themes, messiahs and meanies which do shape our lives, often unknowingly, unconsciously so.
As profoundly intuitive as Carl Jung was he engaged in a lifelong serious empirical intellectual study, research, examination of the human psyche, its manifestations historically and contemporaneously, in order to discover what can be objectively revealed of its intuitive depths. Jung neither devalued intuition nor rational inquiry, empirical research and testing. In his lifelong study and experiment using both intuition and science Jung discovered that psyche tells many mythic stories about its own reality and fact. This, without reduction, is the very history of human consciousness. Mythic mind, that first mind of human ancestors still actively present in contemporary humans, has documented and manifested itself via humans from the very beginning. Human history and its manifest cultures reveal these stories, these myths that psyche, that consciousness, tells of itself. To reify them, to value one over others is to imbalance and misuse the power of these stories which are not "only-just stories" but are generators and catalyzers of ongoing archetypal energies which continually, mercurially shape and reshape ourselves and our experience of incarnate existence.
New Age or any entranced flight away from material existence and its creative unfolding in space, time and matter in consciousness of Psyche, its dynamic dialectic of the opposites, must be called out, confronted and engaged with serious openness within the vicissitudes of thoughtful human existence. Compassionate heart must balance critical thinking. The Eternal Child/Wanderer/Wonderer, the archetypal puer aeternus, coincides with the Wise Old Man/Woman of Time, Space and Matter who incarnates and literally grows/manifests/creates consciousness and it's unending manifestations, permutations, creations and recreations in the here and now of coagulate space and time. The New Age is very much a Puer phenomenon which compensates for too much calcifying fundamentalist reification/concretization of once dynamic revealed religious symbols as well as those symbols activated in the natural sciences, all turned into spirit killing doctrines and dogmas represented and rammed by their various institutions. Unfortunately, the New Age reifies as did the religions of old, making concretistic interpretations of symbols.
The New Age seeks to re-enchant the world, one's very self and that self's personal and communal encounter with an equally re-enchanted world. I have no quarrel with that. But is it a nostrum of escape via what is believed to be transcendence but is actually dissociation and splitting from the givens of 'what is'. Murray, Jason Robards character in the excellent play, A Thousand Clowns, about a puer's painful confrontation with reality as it is with consequent possible suffering and loss of a highly valued relationship with a beloved child, when admonished by a reality-oriented social worker to "come to reality" regarding the inevitable loss of that relationship if he did not, defiantly and petulantly exclaimed, "I'll come to reality! but only as a tourist!!"
But to reality we must.
Having said all of the above at the beginning and here in the end, it is not a question of "to trance or not to trance" for this consensus reality we all partake of and call "everyday, ordinary mind" is also a trance. I am for trance. I am for all trance which enhances life in in-fleshed pants and flesh-filled skirts. However, any entranced escapist flight away from material existence and its creative unfolding in space, time and matter, in consciousness with its dynamic dialectic of the opposites continuously seeking and birthing "the third thing," must be called out. With good will and intent it must be seriously confronted and engaged with balanced, critical thinking. Trance may indeed provide much needed temporary respite and relief, but when concretized into and sanctified as received dogmas of escape, then these devalue the material creation and all her creatures; and I believe that this is to blaspheme Life and its Creator, that this is to devalue bodies which can hold hands! The poet, Theodore Roethke, says it right, "Things with hands, take hands." Minds open, working, thinking. Eyes open, seeing. Ears, listening, carefully. Heart, curious, always. Mano a mano, this is trance—offered hands, reaching hands, taking hands. And knowing when to release them. So many possibilities of hands.
APPENDIX ONE - JUNG'S DREAM "A MILLIMETER TO SPARE"
To read Jung's autobiography free online click here:
This excerpt is found on page 217 of the autobiography.
Jung's dream referred to in the above essay :
The problem of Job in all its ramifications had likewise been foreshadowed in a dream. It started with my paying a visit to my long-deceased father. He was living in the country I did not know where. I saw a house in the style of the eighteenth century, very roomy, with several rather large outbuildings. It had originally been, I learned, an inn at a/spa, and it seemed thatmany great personages, famous people and princes, had stopped there. Furthermore, several had died and their sarcophagi were in a crypt belonging to the house. My father guarded these as custodian.
He was, as I soon discovered, not only the custodian but also a distinguished scholar in his own right which he had never been in his lifetime. I met him in his study, and, oddly enough, Dr. Y. who was about my age and his son, both psychiatrists, were also present. I do not know whether I had asked a question or whether my father wanted to explain something of his own accord, but in any case he fetched a big Bible down from a shelf, a heavy folio volume like the Merian Bible in my library. The Bible my father held was bound in shiny fish skin. He opened it at the Old Testament I guessed that he turned to the Pentateuch and began interpreting a certain passage. He did this so swiftly and so learnedly that I could not follow him. I noted only that what he said betrayed a vast amount of variegated knowledge, the significance of which I dimly apprehended but could not properly judge or grasp. I saw that Dr. Y. understood nothing at all, and his son began to laugh. They thought that my father was going off the deep end and what he said was simply senile prattle. But it was quite clear to me that it was not due to morbid excitement, and that there was nothing silly about what he was saying. On the contrary, his argument was so intelligent and so learned that we in our stupidity simply could not follow it. It dealt with something extremely important which fascinated him. That was why he was speaking with such intensity; his mind was flooded with profound ideas. I was annoyed and thought it was a pity that he had to talk in the presence of three such idiots as we.
The two psychiatrists represented a limited medical point of view which, of course, also infects me as a physician. They represent my shadow first and second editions of the shadow, father and son. Then the scene changed. My father and I were in front of the house, facing a kind of shed where, apparently, wood was stacked. We heard loud thumps, as if large chunks of wood were being thrown down or tossed about. I had the impression that at least two workmen must be busy there, but my father indicated to me that the place was haunted. Some sort of poltergeists were making the racket, evidently.
We then entered the house, and I saw that it had very thick walls. We climbed a narrow staircase to the second floor. There a strange sight presented itself: a large hall which was the exact replica of the divan-i-kaas (council hall) of Sultan Akbar at Fatehpur Sikri. It was a high, circular room with a gallery running along the wall, from which four bridges led to a basin shaped center. The basin rested upon a huge column and formed the sultan's round seat. From this elevated place he spoke to his councilors and philosophers, who sat along the walls in the gallery. The whole was a gigantic mandala. It corresponded precisely to the real divan-i-kaas.
In the dream I suddenly saw that from the center a steep flight of stairs ascended to a spot high up on the wall whichno longer corresponded to reality. At the top of the stairs wasa small door, and my father said, "Now I will lead you into the highest presence." Then he knelt down and touched his forehead to the floor. I imitated him, likewise kneeling, with great emotion. For some reason I could not bring my forehead quite down to the floor there was perhaps a millimeter to spare. But at least I had made the gesture with him. Suddenly I knew perhaps my father had told me that that upper door led to a solitary chamber where lived Uriah, King David's general, whom David had shamefully betrayed for the sake of his wife
Bathsheba, by commanding his soldiers to abandon Uriah in the face of the enemy.
I must make a few explanatory remarks concerning this dream. The initial scene describes how the unconscious task which I had left to my "father," that is, to the unconscious, was working out. He was obviously engrossed in the Bible Genesis? and
eager to communicate his insights. The fishskin marks the Bible as an unconscious content, for fishes are mute and unconscious. My poor father does not succeed in communicating either, for the audience is in part incapable of understanding, in
part maliciously stupid. After this defeat we cross the street to the "other side," where poltergeists are at work. Poltergeist phenomena usually take place in the vicinity of young people before puberty; that is to say, I am still immature and too unconscious. The Indian ambience illustrates the "other side." When I was in India, themandala structure of the divan~i-kaas had in actual fact powerfully impressed me as the representation of a content related to a center. The center* is the seat of Akbar the Great, who rules over a subcontinent, who is a "lord of this world," like David. But even higher than David stands his guiltless victim, his loyal general Uriah, whom he abandoned to the enemy. Uriah is a prefiguration of Christ, the god-man who was abandoned by God. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" On top of that, David had "taken unto himself" Uriah's wife. Only later did I understand what this allusion to Uriah signified: not only was I forced to speak publicly, and very much to my detriment, about the ambivalence of the God-image in the Old Testament; but also, my wife would be taken from me by death. These were the things that awaited me, hidden in the unconscious. I had to submit to this fate, and ought really to have touched my forehead to the floor, so that my submission would
be complete. But something prevented me from doing so entirely, and kept me just a millimeter away. Something in me was saying, "All very well, but not entirely." Something in me was defiant and determined not to be a dumb fish: and if there were not something of the sort in free men, no Book of Job would have been written several hundred years before the birth of Christ. Man always has some mental reservation, even in the face of divine decrees. Otherwise, where would be his freedom? And what would be the use of that freedom if it could not threaten Him who threatens it?
Uriah, then, lives in a higher place than Akbar. He is even, as the dream said, the '^highest presence,'* an expression which properly is used only of God, unless we are dealing in Byzantinisms. I cannot help thinking here of the Buddha and his relationship to the gods. For the devout Asiatic, the Tathagata is the All- Highest, the Absolute. For that reason Hinayana Buddhism has been suspected of atheism very wrongly so. By virtue of the power of the gods man is enabled to gain an insight into his Creator. He has even been given the power to annihilate Creation in its essential aspect, that is, man's consciousness of the world. Today he can extinguish all higher life on earth by radioactivity. The idea of world annihilation is already suggested by the Buddha: by means of enlightenment the Nidana chain the chain of causality which leads inevitably to old age, sickness, and death can be broken, so that the illusion of Being comes to an end. Schopenhauer's negation of the Will points prophetically to a problem of the future that has already come threateningly
close. The dream discloses a thought and a premonition that have long been present in humanity: the idea of the creature that surpasses its creator by a small but decisive factor.
APPENDIX TWO - MICHAEL VANNOY ADAM'S COMMENTARY ON JUNG'S DREAM
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"In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung (1963) recounts a dream ...what I call the “Millimeter to Spare Dream.” In the dream, Jung and his father enter a house that has a room that is a replica of the council hall of Sultan Akbar, the Muslim emperor of Mughal India. In that room, Jung’s father prays in the Islamic style. “Then he knelt down and touched his forehead to the floor,” Jung says. “I imitated him, likewise kneeling, with great emotion. For some reason I could not bring my forehead quite down to the floor—there was perhaps a millimeter to spare” (p. 219). Jung interprets the dream to mean that “things awaited me, hidden in the unconscious.” He says: “I had to submit to this fate, and ought really to have touched my forehead to the floor, so that my submission would be complete. But something prevented me from doing to entirely, and kept me just a millimeter away. Something in me was saying, ‘All very well, but not entirely.’” What was this something that prevented Jung from complete submission? “Man always,” he says, “has some mental reservation, even in the face of divine decrees. Otherwise, where would be his freedom?” (Jung, 1963, p. 220)." Adams, 2002
Jung goes on to say, "Something in me was defiant and determined not to be a dumb fish...Man always has some mental reservation, even in the face of divine decrees. Otherwise, where would be his freedom? And what would be the use of that freedom if it could not threaten Him who threatens it?
To submit to God without any mental reservation is for the ego not to engage in free, critical conversation with the unconscious. In this respect, to practice prayer—or active imagination—is for the ego to exercise the freedom not to accept the opinions of the unconscious as dictates but to assess those opinions and either
accept or reject them. The purpose of Jungian psychoanalysis is not for the ego to capitulate, or surrender unconditionally, to the opinions of the unconscious but to relate to them effectively—that is, freely, critically—through dialogue and negotiation. Prostration of the ego before the unconscious may be the Islamic [and other religions] style, but it is not the Jungian style. Dialogue or negotiation with God (or the unconscious) is very different from submission to God."
Jung goes on to say this of this millimeter to spare:
These were the things that awaited me, hidden in the unconscious.
I had to submit to this fate, and ought really to have
touched my forehead to the floor, so that my submission would
be complete. But something prevented me from doing so entirely,
and kept me just a millimeter away. Something in me was
saying, "All very well, but not entirely." Something in me was
defiant and determined not to be a dumb fish: and if there
were not something of the sort in free men, no Book of Job would
have been written several hundred years before the birth of
Christ. Man always has some mental reservation, even in the
face of divine decrees. Otherwise, where would be his freedom?
And what would be the use of that freedom if it could not
threaten Him who threatens it?"
APPENDIX THREE - OSHO'S OPENING DISCOURSE ON LONELINESS
What Jung refers to above as being a "dumb fish", Osho calls being a sheep. Both Jung's dream with Adam's commentary and Osho's opening remarks here relate to trance, being negatively entranced and giving up one's autonomy and free will by completely submitting to entrancers. Here's Osho:
You start escaping into the other. Gather courage. Take a plunge into your being. Let us be acquainted with our own Center. Let us ask only one question, "Who am I?" All else is meaningless. Unless this question is answered all your love affairs, friendships are all nonsense. Unless this question is answered nothing is answered. Go into your aloneness. Let there be only one quest, "who am I?"
And don't seek consolations because cheap consolations are available. The mind is very clever in supplying them. When you ask, "who am I?" the mind can supply immediately an answer and the mind is very clever. Mind says, "You are god. You are a soul...immortal soul." These are the ideas of the magician put in the heads of poor sheep. The magician suggests to a few that you are lions, to few that you are eagles, to a few that you are man, to a few that you are even magicians.
That magician hypnotized the sheep and told them that "you are immortal souls. Nobody can harm you ever. How [can] you be harmed?" The Magician suggested [to] them that, "I am for you. I am the best master you can find ever and I exist for you. And I will do whatever is needed and I will do whatsoever is good for you. Even if I kill you I will be killing you just for your sake."
You have been given these ideas by the society. Your mind is nothing but a projection of the society. It is society within you. The penetration of the society inside you. It is in the image of society. You have been told things and you have believed. This is not your answer! You have been taught by the magician. I am not saying the answer is wrong or right. I am simply saying it is not your answer and when the answer is not yours it is wrong.