Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Course of the Phoenix

Part I

Ashes spread, mend in flight,
rise above the steepled night,
soar beyond totems carved from creeds
and the fires of aimless greed,
slowly circle Wittenberg's idle stone,
wing past the towers of sleeping Rome.

Roost not in the tree of thy neighbor's deity,
perching always limits what you see...

Glide eastward wounded bird,
have you not heard
that we feed children smoke in place of bread,
make them drink bullets from fiery breasts,
swaddle them in icy skin,
prefer babies with missing limbs.

Missiles are often launched
from the holy waves of baptismal fonts,
as compassion comes to US easily,
watching the atrocities on color TVs,
yet more often grieved it seems
because we don't have larger screens.

Part II

I traded my bottle for a cross
giving thanks for the painful loss,
knelt at the altar to pray for more,
but the preacher bolted Heaven's door...

The Phoenix screamed from his tented cloud,
thunderous rage shocked the crowd,
"Grind marble and oak into a poultice,
sell your Bibles, feed the homeless."

Mutinous fowl, chose a bastard for our sage,
locked him in a gilded cage,
laid him in a tome bound in leather
written by a broken feather.


Last Sunday some mystic hijacked the book,
orange-red words erupted, the building shook,
an ink soaked man left the pages, rung the bell,
each pew was purged by holy hell.

Part III

Ashes spread, mend in flight,
rose above the steepled night,
From the Phoenix, the voice of Spring
"Finally, a living requiem.”

end/michael

“There is nothing more fundamental than I; all worlds, all beings, are strung upon me like pearls on a single thread.” ~ Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-Gita

PILLAR OF CREATION

St. Ignatius throw away your rosary!
St. Hubble has spilled a million pearls
across the sky,
strung them on the thread of night.

New beads polished bright
dwarfs me under the southern arc of Serpens.

Eagle Nebula, hovering like Shekinah,
spawning a skein of eggs in her galactic draft,
stellar incubator hatches such faith, such astonishment…

Suddenly, something bigger than the galaxies rises,
a column of thunder like muscled fist,
Lord Shiva’s angry erection
pierces the haggling pantheon of sixty million deities
scattering them like marbles
before the shaft of superiority.

Modernity has joined the dark ages.
Observatories are cathedrals, and with my sacred eyes
I worry each giant bead in prayer
between doubtful gazes,
and sleep under a newer testament

end/michael

Poem: God is My Emerging Insanity

Religion is “the feelings, acts, and experiences
of individual men in their solitude…”
~ William James

GOD IS MY EMERGING INSANITY

They swarm, bundled insanities
bottled inside of me - I welcome
the godless angst, and I am influenced
as only one can be in solitude.

I fight for calm, steadying the fish bowl
as the building shakes, wondering why
no one seems to care, or analyzes
the civilized globe every time it shakes.

I am no saint, but my role requires
the ultimate pretense; I must conceal
or surrender. Am I weak? Am I wrong?
Is it normal to comply, or right to resist?

I shall pray, not because I believe in God,
but because I am obliged. Perhaps I am
entreating the bundled insanities,
here in my solitude, inviting one to emerge.

end/Michael/6/24/2008

Talking to My Selves in Dreams

WE ALL HAVE MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES



Thesis: Dreams are the voices of our multiple personalities.

Rita Carter’s book, Multiplicity, The New Science of Personality, Identity and Self, presents evidence that we all have multiple personalities, or more than one self or identity. We are actually many selves, each slightly or radically different. Her work provides an excellent balance to Eckhart Tolle's popular book, The New Earth, which speaks about *'the' ego. I appreciateTolle's valuable observations, however, am troubled by the mono-psychological cul de sac he leaves us in when he implies we have only a single self.


Carter says that most of us have a Major or central personality that we display publicly, and 1-20 Minor personalities who emerge in various situations and with different people. The advent of the Internet age - with email, instant messaging, dating services, role playing games, and camera phones has allowed people to experiment more with their various minor personalities. Carter also suggests that we may have one or several **Micro personalities – a self or selves which hang in our consciousness by a thread and barely exist, yet have the potential of becoming a thriving Minor personality, or less likely, a reigning Major personality. She says that some people have no Major, but rather several Minor personalities which they switch between all day long. We usually call such people ‘moody’ or unpredictable.

The dissociative disorder called MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder) is neither minimized nor dismissed by recognizing that we all have multiples. Multiples are considered a ‘disorder’ when they don’t communicate with each other and cause harm to the life of the inflicted person or those around him/her. In other words, the demure third grade school teacher who comes home from class and goes online to become the sensual Madame QueenDom does not suffer from MPD as long as she switches back to the elementary teacher when the phone rings and it is the parent of one of her students. So called normal people’s various selves know each other to at least some extent, and have some control over when and where they emerge, and do little long term damage. They may feel guilty, confused and hypocritical, but such emotions may be the result of the assumption of our mono-obsessed culture which views a single consistent 'self' as the goal of all healthy psyches.

NOT A NEW THEORY

Multiple selves is not a new theory. It has been around for ages. The ***Jesus of the ancient Gospel of Thomas suggested this in saying #84, "When you see your likeness (self), you are happy. But when you see your images (selves) that came into being before you and that neither die nor become visible, how much you will have to bear!"

Goethe, the German philosopher and poet said, “Two souls, alas! reside within my breast, and each withdraws from and repels its brother.” Saint Paul confessed that he had one self which wanted to love God and mankind, and another personality that sought to satisfy only selfish desires (Romans 7:15-20). Carl Jung spoke of discovering two selves early in life; he referred to them as Number One and Number Two. Later Jung would speak of the many ‘little people’ inside each of us. Mike Meyers addressed this humorously in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, through the character of Mini-Me. Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, comes to mind as well, and Walt Whitman who wrote, "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am complex. I contain multitudes."
FROM THE MEDIEVAL RACK TO MEDICAL PROZAC

Our monotheistic, monogamous, monopolistic, mono-psychological West does not typically like the heresy of anything poly (many). We will not tolerate polytheism, polygamy or polyamory. We focus on integration and wholeness. We emphasize law, order, consistency and integrity. We want complete equality between races, genders and religions. Even our professed love of multi-culturalism would have us believe that all humans are basically the same. Unity, united, union and unification are the aims of this culture. Abraham Lincoln sacrificed the lives of over half a million men to keep these states united. G.W. Bush Jr. fancies himself a sort of modern Lincoln, using force to unite the world under American democracy. Being number one is admired in sports and business, all the rest are losers. Any hint of dysfunction or fragmentation is immediately a disorder. We consider insanity (not being whole) the worst fate to befall a human being. Anything bi-, poly-, schizoid or multiple is the scientific equivalent of medieval heresy. We don't put our fragmented heretics on the rack to bring them around to religious unity, we put them on Prozac to make them socially and statistically 'normal'. Medical and Medieval are perilously closely related etymologicaly and ideologically. Both are 'medi' words - the middle, transitioning from darkness and fragmentation to healing and wholeness. These are noble aspirations, but only part of the human condition.

Carter’s theory suggests that our obsession with The One may be out of step with the facts about the human Psyche. The recent rise in interest toward mythologies, via people like Joseph Campbell and George Lucas, portends a new awareness of our multiple selves. Most ancient cultures were polytheistic because the Psyche ex-presses what it is, multiple. This modern rediscovery of myth is not about religion per se, but about our frantic human Psyche trying to recover our many hidden and neglected selves! There are many ramifications to this theory, and I would like to touch on one: the role of dreams as they relate to our several selves.

DREAMS AND OUR MANY SELVES

It seems to me that this idea of having multiple selves may explain the primary purpose of dreams. Perhaps dreams provide voices for the various personalities. James Hillman, writes:

“Dreams tell the soul’s tales in persons… psyche is using a particular metaphorical language system which is very detailed and concrete and seems to accomplish a specific end….” Re-Visioning Psychology, pp. 82-83

If you substitute the word personalities for ‘persons’, then dreams become a means for our various selves to communicate while they have our focused attention during sleep, and upon waking. We ought to pay special attention to those dreams which cause us to awaken with deep emotions. Hillman says that certain dreams cause us to be “afflicted [and] haunted through the day, psychologically on edge. The pathologized images have moved the soul in several ways.” This is reminiscent of Jesus saying, “But when you see your images (selves)… you will have much to bear!" Gospel of Thomas, saying 84

Perhaps our dreams are therapy sessions from and between our various selves on the nocturnal consulting couch. Each person is me. Even the animals and geography are metaphors for my various selves. We most often identify the observing character in our dreams as The self, as me. Perhaps that observing person is just the Major personality, while the other persons and places are the Minor or Micro selves trying to get some attention. They have some important information disguised in bizarre behaviors and symbols to really elicit attention.


Is it possible that some Minor personality is begging to be noticed in our dreams? Maybe the dominant Major personality is asking for a little time off. Perhaps an imperceptible Micro personality is asking to be developed. The human Psyche, like the malleable earth, is always shifting, eroding, dissolving, and reforming. Religions have always recognized and sought such **shifts through rituals and ceremonies.


DREAMS AND EMOTIONS


We need to pay special notice to those recurring dreams or themes, especially those evoking strong emotions. Hillman suggests that we rightly understand the guilt and shame which are inevitably induced by certain dreams, “We can let go of this style of guilt, seeing through it as a defensive business that prevents archetypal fantasies (images) from coming through. For from the archetypal point of view, the matter is less that one feels guilty than to whom: to which person (personality) of the psyche and within which myth does my affliction belong, and does it bespeak an obligation? Which figures (personalities) in which complexes are now laying claim? From this perspective the guilt brought by pathologizing (emotional suffering) takes on radical importance. It leads out of the ego and into recognition that through a pathologized experience I am bound to archetypal persons (personalities) who want something from me and to whom I owe remembrance.”


It is interesting to me that I may have a very weird dream and feel fine until I wake up, and the Major ego personality hijacks the dream. The Minor or Micro is shamed and silenced. Instead of listening, I try to get beyond my pathology and heal the aberrant images. I think this is partially what Hillman is suggesting – that we move past the guilt heaped upon us by the Major personality (Freud’s Super Ego), and ask the question, “Who are you and what do you want?”

I recently had a dream where an attractive young married woman was in love with me, and then suddenly changed her mind. She, husband by her side, nonchalantly told me that she was going back to her husband and had no feelings for me whatsoever. I awoke devastated. My Major personality told me I was a covert adulterer and a loser to boot. Then I applied Hillman’s advice and asked, “Who are you? Which neglected self is emerging? What do you want me to know or remember? What do I owe you?” Immediately, my perception shifted. It was not a dream about me, it was an aspect of me. I was not having a dream, the dream was having me. I saw that one of my feminine minor selves is an aloof lover who runs roughshod over the feelings of those close to me, rejecting them when they get too close. It was a sobering revelation. In the dream she was asking, "How do 'you' like that? That is how others feel when 'you' do that."

If you find this idea interesting, read Carter’s book, Multiplicity, The New Science of Personality, Identity and Self.

http://michaelbogar.com/pages/home.php

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Footnotes:



*Tolkien's book, The Hobbit, takes a poke at our western propensity of mono-ism when he puts the definite article before The Hill and The River where Bilbo lived, thinking there was only one location on Middle Earth. By the end of the story, with Gandalf's help, he discovered many places, and many other selves which he didn't even know he contained- a thief, a warrior, coward, etc.



**This paradigm helps to explain the phenomenon of 'conversion' or radical psyhic shifts which some people experience. A Minor or Micro personality suddenly acquires 'the straw that broke the camel's back' and like a techtonic continental shift, replaces the old Major personality. This gives hope to those of us who would like to experience such a shift, though it is most likely to take place gradually through re-education and psycho-spiritual practices. (cf William James and Big Book of AA)


***One Bible translator suggested that the metaphorical meaning of Jesus’ saying in John’s Gospel, “In my Father’s house are many mansions…” may refer to more than one reality or self. The word mansion is used in other ancient sources to refer to a teacher’s classroom; perhaps Jesus was suggesting that this life contained a number of classrooms or selves, each bringing a different lesson to the growing soul. Keep in mind that those who took Jesus literally in John’s Gospel were considered spiritually ignorant (John 3, et al).










Friday, June 20, 2008

IS THE MEDIA THE NEW CHURCH?

THE BIRTH OF A NEW RELIGION

I am reading a most fascinating socio-religious assessment that rings true to me on many levels. The title of the book is Entertainment Theology by Barry Taylor, and the author suggests that we are in the midst of a nascent, barely perceptible new religious institution in the making. Yes, institution.

It is easy today to observe the huge Catholic Church or Muslim Community, each claiming over one billion adherents; but there was a time centuries ago when each was growing incrementally and would not have been seen for what they would eventually become. Taylor suggests that a new religious movement is growing up around us right now, a whole new organization is forming one little cell at a time which will become a sort of global equivalent to the Catholic Vatican or Muslim Caliphate.

Most of us can't see it because this new movement is not overtly religious, not local, not limited to one culture nor using the usual forms and content of the standard religions. Ideas and forms from all religions and no religions are being utilized. Taylor sees the media as eventually becoming the main pulpit/classroom for teaching the new spiritual ideas. The current sessions with Oprah and Eckhart Tolle foreshadow this new edge approach. The other day, while waiting at a bus stop, I saw a guy reading Tolle’s book, The New Earth. People who have never been to church are tuning into the internet sessions to hear Oprah speak with Tolle about the role of ego in mental suffering.

Mike Meyer's new movie, The Love Guru, was inspired by his attendance at a Depak Chopra seminar after Meyer's father died - and Meyers now values Chopra's teachings, enough to veil the spiritual truths he has adopted in his whacky brand of comedy. Comedian Jim Carrey has become a very strong advocate for a spiritual approach, using comedy to teach universal truths. See Jim Carrey's Secret: Less Prozac, More God By Todd Peterson

A 2005 Barna Research Project Confirms This:

"The reshaping of Americans’ lives is evident in various facets of their life, including the spiritual dimension. A new nationwide survey conducted by The Barna Group indicates that while 56% of adults attend church services in a typical month, a much larger percentage is exposed to religious information and experiences through various forms of media. Radio and television are the most popular Christian media, but faith-related Internet sites as well as religious magazines, newspapers and books also enjoy significant exposure. Although these religious media are a supplement to a church experience for most people, millions of individuals rely upon one or more of these media as their primary source of spiritual input."


I AM SPIRITUAL BUT NOT RELIGIOUS

There has never been a time in human history when there has not been some sort of mainstream religious organization. Many people today like to say they are ‘spiritual but not religious.’ I fully understand this phrase, yet what it really means, when translated, is “I don’t like any of the narrow, boring organized religious groups I have experienced or stereotyped so far.”

Humans organize. That is what we do. As long as there is the spiritual impulse, we will create organizations with places, principles and people to facilitate helpful spiritual experiences. In the emerging paradigm, such experiences are increasingly being mediated via movie theatres, the internet, concerts and other such events. Eclectic spiritual media teachers are gradually rivalling television evangelists. People like Wayne Dyer, if not replacing, are reaching as many as Billy Graham once did.

THE NEW FUNDAMENTALS

Aldous Huxley touched on the future need for focusing on the universal basics of the spiritual life in his book, The Perennial Philosophy, where he enumerated the fundamental global religious truths. We might call this the emerging ‘New Fundamentalism’. Fundamental means foundational. It is a beneficial word when seen in context. It is time to develop a religion which captures the foundational spiritual truths for all humans.
Carl Jung predicted the need for such a new religious shift in his 1933 book, Modern Man in Search of a Soul. Jung rightly pointed out that fewer and fewer modern people are finding the experience of spirituality in their churches. Bill Wilson was a prophet of this new edge spirituality, founding Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935 as a movement which focused on the basic building blocks of a spiritual life without creedal tests and theological union cards for belonging.

We are in the midst of a religious birthing. We are on the edge of something powerful. It has the potential to become very beneficial, or very evil, as with all religious movements. Many will oppose it as the one world church predicted in the Book of Revelation; others will see it as the universal spiritual body predicted by Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Many will not even notice it since the shift is so subtle. Others will perceive it, adopt the universal principles of spirituality, and find creative and personally unique ways to spread the experience of Spirit wherever they are. These people may or may not currently be in traditional churches which will not be going away anytime soon. In fact, the traditional religions will play a huge role in birthing this new religious order, just as Greco-Roman paganism played a huge role in assisting the nascent Christ movement.

The biggest challenge in this new religious movement will be to find personal connection with other people. The media and internet cannot replace the interface of human spirits face to face, eye to eye. Perhaps movie theatres will one day add Conversation Rooms with a Starbucks to their buildings where people can meet after a movie and discuss it, or hear someone speak about it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Imaginal Realm

The Imaginal Realm

The Imaginal Realm is the region of pure Forms located between the region of pure spirits and psychological archetypes, totally unconnected to matter, and ordinary physical reality.

Concerning this Imaginal World, Muslim Suhrawardi's commentator Qutbuddin Shirazi says:

"It is there that the various kinds of autonomous archetypal Images are infinitely realised, forming a hierarchy of degrees varying according to their relative subtlety or density....On each of these levels species exist analogous to those in our world, but they are infinite. Some are peopled by Angels and the human Elect. Others are peopled by Angels and genii, others by demons. God alone knows the number of these levels and what they contain. The pilgrim rising from one degree to another discovers on each higher leveel a subtler state, a more entrancing beauty, a more intense spirituality, a more overflowing delight. The highest of these degrees borders on the intelligible pure entities of Light and very closely resembles it."

Interviews from Beyond the Grave: Jesus and Jim Morrison

Interviews from Beyond the Grave
brought to you by
The Academy of the Dead



MICHAEL: Good evening, I am your host and welcome to another edition of Interviews Beyond the Grave from The Academy of the Dead. Here, we are limited by neither space, time nor geography, and able to access the Imaginal Realm without the forms required by the usual sensory organs. We always bring you some of the most unlikely match-ups imaginable.

Tonight we have Jim Morrison, a co-founder of the popular 20th century band, The Doors, and Jesus of Nazareth who needs no introduction. Let’s begin with Jim, welcome to Interviews Beyond the Grave Mr. Morrison, or should I say Mr. Mojo Risin?

JIM MORRISON: Thank you, great to be here, and I just wanna say how privileged I feel to be hanging out with Jesus, the original Door, the real Mr.Mojo Risin, if ya know what I mean.

MICHAEL: I don’t know what you mean, unless you are referring to the resurrection.

JIM MORRISON: Yep, that’s the risin I’m talking about.

MICHAEL: So Jesus, welcome, and let me ask you about this controversial miracle of the resurrection; we moderns aren’t too keen on this idea that dead men come back to life – did it really happen?

JESUS: Good to be here, and yes, it did happen.

MICHAEL: Can you prove it to modern readers who have evolved beyond the fairy tale mentality of gullible primitives?

JESUS: They are reading an interview with a couple of dead guys aren’t they?

MICHAEL: I see, but they will say that this is an imaginary interview.

JESUS: I prefer the word Imaginal.

MICHAEL: Meaning?

JESUS: Imaginary assumes we made it up and that it never existed apart from our brains; Imaginal recognizes a Realm that actually exists beyond normal space and time – you know, like dreams.

MICHAEL: But could people have touched your body in the first century, was it real?

JESUS: Are your dreams real?

MICHAEL: Yes.

JESUS: Can you touch them?

MICHAEL: Well, not really, but they do touch me.

JESUS: Exactly…the resurrection really happened.

MICHAEL: But Jesus, come on now, we all know now that dreams are just biological burps in the restless brain during sleep, or, how did Ebeneezer Scrooge put in when he saw his first ghost, “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than grave about you, whatever you are.”

JESUS: Have you never wondered why so many people who wrote about seeing me experienced the same biological burp simultaneously? Do you suppose that they all ate from the same underdone potato?

JIM MORRISON: Whoa! Dude! See why I say he is the Original Door!

MICHAEL: Jim, say more about that, why do you call Jesus the original door?

JIM MORRISON: Well, the door metaphor comes from the Gospel of John, as I recall. I was reading it the night I accidentally overdosed in the tub in France - John 10:9 in the King Jimmy Version where Jesus says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” At that point in my life I knew I was no door, more like a bloated alcoholic boor.

See, originally I thought Aldous Huxley came up with the door idea when he was writing about mind expanding drugs and his 1954 book, The Doors of Perception, which by the way is where we got the name of our band ya know – well, actually Huxley borrowed if from the mystical poet William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern."

In 1965 I was reading Huxley’s book one night, trippin out on Mescaline, looked up at the television, and that funky door from the Twilight Zone came spinning onto the screen and Rod Serling was sayin, “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension. A dimension of sound... a dimension of sight... a dimension of mind. You are moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into... The Twilight Zone.”

I think that is the Imaginal Realm Jesus was talking about – it’s not imaginary, or a figment of human fantasies, but an actual realm that is seen with an organ most modern people don’t even know about.

JESUS: I called it the Kingdom of Heaven.

JIM MORRISON: Sounds about right…so I just wanna say I know more now what those guys were sayin, about doors to infinity, narrow chinks in the cavern, other dimensions and crossing over and stuff like that. Jesus was talking about that door a long time ago, and he wasn’t even trippin!

MICHAEL: Jesus, anything to add to that?

JESUS: Not really, it is good to be here, but I do want to take issue with one thing you said in the beginning of the interview…

MICHAEL: Please do.

JESUS: You said that I needed no introduction, well, that may not be so true.

MICHAEL: Meaning?

JESUS: After 2,000 years, there are a few misunderstandings about me. People assume that I was always some sort of mystical do-gooder and lover of humanity - that I dropped from my mother’s womb turning water into breast milk. Nope, I had a very human life before I became Jesus ‘the Christ’. People forget that to become a mature Human or Son of Man and Son of God is to experience the process of going through real life stuff.

MICHAEL: Tell us more about that.

JESUS: Well, Jim Morrison and I are not so different in some ways. I was also pretty wild in my teens and twenties. I have read all those modern books that said I went to Babylon or Egypt and studied with great spiritual masters - one book said I practiced Buddhism for twenty years and another said that I was abducted by aliens and taken to a planet in the Pleides and instructed in esoteric interplanetary wisdom. Nah, all false. I was actually, how do the modern kids say it, ‘partying hearty’ for a number of years. That’s why the Pharisees were always accusing me of hanging out with drunks and hookers; I was.

JIM MORRISON: Whoa! You serious man?

JESUS: Very serious. Remember the parable of the prodigal son? That’s autobiographical – that’s why there is so much detail in that story. I spruced it up a little bit since my father Joseph didn’t have that much money, but I took what he had saved and went to Sepphoris near Nazareth and raised holy hell for a few years. That's where I met Matthew, the drunken, cheating tax collector. He still laughs when people call him Saint Matthew!

I was pretty wild, but always interested in God, and I hated religion! I partied until I was physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually broken in spirit - literally ended up in a pig pen, feeding and sleeping with the hogs. The only thing I had left of any value was a pearl ring given to me by mother, which fell off of my finger into the muck; a herd of hungry pigs knocked me over to get to it and swallowed it before I could pick it up. That’s why I later told people to never cast pearls of wisdom before swine; don’t waste your time on people whose egos are still in tact, especially some religious people. Many of them couldn’t have seen the truth even if God had showed up in the flesh, which is what God always does by the way.

MICHAEL: This admission is not going to be received too well by most of your loyal followers. They say you were sinless; in fact, I am more than a little shocked and disappointed myself.

JESUS: My followers? My followers are those who do the will of God, those who have experienced ego deflation and a broken and contrite heart. That rarely comes to a man or woman without some sort of personal crisis. What kind of Savior would I be if I hadn’t suffered like other ordinary people? Many of my followers are stuck in religious and theological egoism, the most insidious and most difficult egoism to overcome. Those people would rather worship and read about me than examine the demons in their own souls. And let me just add, not every one needs to end up in a pig pen to wake up…but it sure helps.

JIM MORRISON: Amazing! That’s exactly where I was when I died in France. Dude, I was so depressed, discouraged, deflated and in deep despair, but couldn’t kick the smack and Jack Daniels habit. I had tons of money, but my soul was in the pig pen, and I was praying everyday. Why did God fail me?

JESUS: Your death Jim, like mine, did more to move people to God than if you had lived.

JIM MORRISON: Huh?

JESUS: John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens and thousands of people read the headlines the day after you died and looked at their own hearts and behaviors in ways they never had before. Evangelism, as some call it, happens in many fascinating ways on planet earth. Every single action is either an expression of Spirit or a motivation toward the Holy Spirit. You motivated people to evaluate their paths Jim. Your life wasn’t a waste. Everybody is a door for somebody in one way or another. That’s what I meant when I said the ‘first shall be last and the last shall be first.' You got more me people through the Door than most preachers!

JIM MORRISON: So is that what Blake meant when he said, "the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom?"

JESUS: Partly, yes, but he forgot to add that the road usually contains hospitals, jails, courts, treatment centers and morgues. It’s not the road I’d recommend.

JIM MORRISON: Modern versions of pig pens...

JESUS: Potentially, yep.

MICHAEL: Well, our time is up for today’s show. I want to thank you gentlemen for a most fascinating conversation from the Realm of the Imaginal.

JIM MORRISON: My pleasure.

JESUS: Me too, and I was wondering Jim, could you play that ‘Jesus is Just Alright With Me’ song?

JIM MORRISON: That’s the Doobie Brothers, but I can play 'The End'.

JESUS: Cool.

[Overheard as the credits roll:]

Michael: So I understand Janis Joplin and Mary Magdalene are in the Green Room, perhaps the five of us could go out for a bite to eat after the show.

Jesus: Great idea. My friend, Peter, runs the To Hell and Back Hard Rock Café.

Jim Morrison: Cool, is that the place across from the Next Whiskey Bar?

[End of Credits - Screen Freezes]

In truth, all modern education consists of conversations with the dead from the Imaginal Realm. Every eternal Idea or memorable Deed originates from this Realm and is recorded, bound in a tome, and exhumed or resurrected by somber seekers, otherwise known as grave robbers...

Prayer for My Damn Enemies?

One of the most difficult obstacles to peace is learning how to deal with difficult people, also known as enemies. This is especially true when they are family members. Someone recently asked me for advice about how to deal with family members who are abusive and inconsiderate. I am able to share only what I have experienced in this arena. I never claim to have solutions for anyone but myself. If they help another, I am glad.

I once spent years telling horror stories about my members of my family, and I actually believed them all; I had facts to prove my accounts were true. I had the evidence. However, as my personal pain and misery escalated, I eventually learned through various teachers and hard lessons to release the anger, sadness and justified resentments toward these people. This was not easy, until carrying them around year after year became more difficult than letting them go. These incidents, when held in mind, will destory our bodies and souls.

PRAY FOR THEM?

My suggestion, which will initially sound ludicrous, is to pray for them. Even typing it looks like such a religious platitude that I want to erase the suggestion and find a more profound response. But returning to my personal agonizing experience, this has been the key solution. When Jesus, and Ghandi were assailed by enemies, they prayed. We are familiar with Jesus telling us to pray for our enemies and those who persecute or abuse us; and we recall his words from the cross to those who were executing him, "Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing."

Ghandi said:

"I had attended the Christian service in South Africa, but it had failed to grip me. I could not join them in prayer. They supplicated God, but I could not do so, I failed egregiously. I started with disbelief in God and prayer, and, until at a late stage in life, I did not feel anything like a void in life. But at that stage I felt that, as food was indispensable for the body, so was prayer indispensable for the soul. In fact, food for the body is not so necessary as prayer for the soul. For starvation is often necessary in order to keep the body in health, but there is no such thing as prayer-starvation.... "

"In spite of despair staring me in the face on the political horizon, I have never lost my peace. In fact, I have found people who envy my peace. That peace, I tell you, comes from prayer; I am not a man of learning, but I humbly claim to be a man of prayer. I am indifferent as to the form. Every one is a law unto himself in that respect. But there are some well-marked roads, and it is safe to walk along the beaten tracks, trod by the ancient teachers."

"Prayer has been the saving of my life. Without it I should have been a lunatic long ago. My autobiography will tell you that I have had my fair share of the bitterest public and private experiences. They threw me into temporary despair, but if I was able to get rid of it, it was because of prayer."

"Now I may tell you that prayer has not been part of my life in the sense that truth has been. It came out of sheer necessity, as I found myself in a plight when I could not possibly be happy without it. And the more my faith in God increased, the more irresistible became the yearning for prayer. Life seemed to be dull and vacant without it."

PRAYER IS NOT EXCUSING BAD BEHAVIOR

There is much more to dealing with abusers, but praying for them is a good beginning. That does not mean excusing them or pretending they did not hurt us or do wrong. It does mean that we begin to see how sick, miserable and terribly wounded they are, and we begin to express compassion for them in their chaotic and miserable lives. They may seem happy at times, but they are soul-sick and on the verge of despair. We pray for their recovery, for their eventual happiness, for their peace of mind, for their addictions, for their wounded childhoods and dysfunctional adulthoods, for their antisocial behaviors, etc.

THREE RESULTS OF CONSISTENT PRAYER

The irony is that if we consistently pray like this, three things will happen: First, what we request for them, we gradually begin to experience for ourselves. Second, we may actually see changes in their lives, suddenly or over the years. Thirdly, if we faithfully do these prayers every day, after a month or so the resentments melt away and peace reigns. This is the power and necessity of the kind of prayer that Ghandi learned through trial and error.

Lastly, keep seeking. This essay is not a band aid or quick fix. Soul-making requires time, many failures, openness, willingness to try new approaches and humility. Ghandi and Jesus both loved and served people who treated them like crap - however, they didn't keep a list of the sins and failures, and they were able to love them as they were. In other words, they held no resentments for being taken advantage of. Most of us are not there yet. In my opinion, it is best to avoid such abusive people and simply pray for them. As our hearts soften and bodies heal, then we may expand to be of more service to those who are ungrateful and very seriously ill.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Really Good Quotes That Apply and Brief Comment

DISINTEGRATION

Referring to the settling of the American western frontier, one old timer said, "It's big and pretty and I helped make it; but by damn, wouldn't it be fun to tear it down and build it back up again?"

The Universe is so constructed that our various selves over the course of a lifetime, whether in minutes or years is a process of building and tearing them down to build them up again.

JOURNALISM AND THE NEWS MEDIA

GK Chesterton said, "Journalism consists largely in saying 'Lord Jones died' to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.”

Most news has nothing to do with us. I remember visiting my grandmother when I was about eighteen. She let me in her house and then placed a chair in front of the door with the back wedged under the door knob. I asked her what she was doing. She told me that she had just seen a news report about a rapist who had escaped from a mental institution in a town over 100 miles away. She didn't want him getting into her house. Most news creates unnecessary fear and anxiety. It keeps us externally focused so we don't have to deal with the most significant news - the news going on between our own ears and in our hearts.

Monday, June 9, 2008

True Understanding Means to Stand Under: The Ego Surrendered

DANCING SHIVA AND THE CRUSHED DWARF

You may have seen the statue or picture of Shiva, the Hindu God dancing in a circle of fire with one foot firmly pinning a tiny dwarflike creature to the ground. This is often interpreted as the struggle between divinity and the heroic ego self, with divinity eventually conquering and burning away the rascal ego.

This same archetypal image is found in the biblical story of a terrified and subdued Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the LORD in the dark of night.

1,000 FORMS OF MANIPULATION

Jacob means deceiver or manipulator in Hebrew. The name was assigned to him at birth as he emerged from his mother’s womb holding onto the heel of his twin brother, Esau. Jacob the ‘tripper’ or manipulator of men and God would spend his life in one scheme after another, conniving through force or kindness to get what he thought would make him happy. For twenty four years Jacob was very successful - amassing wives, concubines, wealth and children. That is what the ego does; it complains like a sinner or compliments like a Pharisee to get what it wants.

Jacob is an archetype of the inflated heroic ego which runs on self will. This is not the evil ego of so many Christian and New Age harangues, but the normal and necessary ego of human soul-making. Carl Jung said, “We spend thirty five years acquiring an ego and thirty five more getting rid of it.” We are each born with our inner Jacob and a certain amount of conniving and manipulation. No human is exempt, though those who fancy themselves 'nice people' often have a difficult time seeing their subtle forms of manipulation. These folks are frequently in emotional pain, but unaware that they are causing it through self centered 'love and kindness'.

THE TWO COMMAND CENTERS IN THE PSYCHE

The LORD said to Rebekah, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger." Genesis 25:23

In addition to the ego-self, there is a second Self or center in us. Some call it conscience, some call it the social gene and others call it the God gene. Whatever it is, it whispers or shouts through our increasing discontent that something is missing.

Our self obsessive anxious thoughts, fearful life problems and manipulative behaviors come into conflict with that other internal Higher Self - the dancing Shiva or Angel of the LORD which calls for our surrender. This is not some God ‘out there’ who wants to obliterate our existence and rule over us with religious laws or self help formulas, but rather a second command center found in every normal human psyche. That is what Jung meant when he said we must experience ego inflation before we can experience ego deflation. Just as the garden seed must swell and crack apart beneath the dark soil, so the swollen ego must eventually crack apart and bring enough pain into an individual’s life so he/she can evolve spiritually.

Eckhart Tolle writes, “Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of ego.” [Without suffering we would] “not evolve as human beings and would remain shallow, identified with the external form of things. Suffering drives you deeper. The paradox is that suffering is caused by identification with form and erodes identification with form. A lot of it is caused by the ego, although eventually suffering destroys the ego – but not until you suffer consciously.” A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, pp. 101-102

THE NECESSITY OF WOUNDS

Look again at Shiva dancing on the ego-dwarf which is being burned away, and you will have a visual of what Tolle is talking about. This is a painful process.

Jacob falls to his knees after his hip is wounded. He is then able to ask for and receive the blessing of peace of mind. A new creation came into existence. His name was changed from Jacob (ego manipulator) to Israel (overcomer of ego). The story says he ‘wrestled with God and man and overcame.’ In other words, the lifelong struggle between the two centers of self, ego-self and Divine Self, has been resolved in that moment. Those who understand this image find the process ongoing throughout life. A few rare souls, like the Buddah, seem to fully 'bud' with their ego-self continually under the Higher-Self.

UNDERSTANDING IS STANDING UNDER

True understanding is the experience of ‘standing under’. The dwarfed ego ‘stands under’ the almighty Shiva. The manipulating Jacob with the displaced hip ‘stands under’ the God-Self. When we have genuinely understood or stood under the Higher Self, we existentially know peace and joy in the midst of any situation, especially anxious and fearful situations. This is infinitely more than intellectually 'understanding' the spiritual concept of surrender; this is gnosis. The will of my little dwarf self stands under the Wisdom and Will of the Higher Self. Freedom from fear, resentment and anxiety result, always.