Saturday, February 19, 2011

And It's About You, Too.

I'll admit, sometimes I forget to look at the whole picture.  This is also about you, too.  Perhaps more about you than anything else.  And as an eight, you, Mr. Magnanimity, and Mr. Self-sufficient - you do not want us to act like this is so much about you.  You are always about looking for the best way to meet the needs of all, even if sometimes you insist that we all see things your way.  But that's okay - you really are looking out for all of us.  So, what stresses you?  What is hard for you?  That old number five - can be such a stressor.  Over thinking all the ways you might be useless or helpless.  Luckily, you recognize when you do that and you also know how to detach yourself from those thoughts, from the outcome.  It's not easy, but you can do it when you must.  And how have you grown?  You are the world's best helper and offerer of unconditional love.  How lucky are those ladies in your life to have access to that?  And when we all offer you a little flattery about how your helping fixed our problems, we see that you may be altruistic to a bit of a fault.

So, even though I may not always be saying or showing you this - it is because of you that I care so much about the others.  I have the same questions for you that I have for her - how can I help? Do you want to talk about it?  One thing I do know, you have always been so strong and able - figuring out how to do what you needed to do as I watched in awe.  I hope I've learned to let you tell me what you need from me.  I know I used to tell you what I thought you needed from, well, the world.  But you proved me wrong, I got a but wiser from the lessons.  And I have always known that this was about you, too.   It has always been about you, too.

It's All About You

This has been a tough day for me.  And when I say that, I cringe with guilt.  It really has been a tough day for me, but only because it's been a tougher day for you.  I know that my life will go on pretty much as it has for decades, affected mostly by choices I make rather than the random things that are affecting your life so profoundly.  As I think about you, I come back to thinking about me.  What should I do or say?  What will I be called to do? - and just know - I will do it gladly.  And most importantly, how are you managing to be so strong right now?  I'm pissed as hell!!!!!!  Of course not at you.  If I believed in god, I'd be pissed at god.  Instead, I'm pissed at randomness.  I'm pissed that it is not me instead of you who is having to deal with this.  I go back and forth.  Pissed, accepting, pissed, accepting . . . . .  

What I want most is for you to know that this time is all about you.  I don't think you might know that because you are a nine.  Yes, I think you are.  A peacemaker.   Your wings - they tell me this about you.   Your six gives you stress because you worry how to appear loyal and true.  Remember - for right now, you can let go of this stress - for right now, it's all about you.  For a change, ask others how they are going to convince you that THEY are loyal and true.   Then there is your three.  Three is so you.  You achiever, you intellectual, you.  Don't try to hide it, you couldn't if you wanted to.  But even with the very strong three, your six sometimes shows through.  And your nine - well, girl that is just you.   Now, don't go changing just because of this, this, thing that you're dealing with.  Whatever you do, keep working the nine, three, six.  Say it with me.  Nine, three, six.  Nine, three six.  Do not, I repeat do not, let yourself get stuck between four and five.  That could happen if you let yourself fall.  No telling how you'd get yourself free from that self-blaming, over-thinking, withdrawal syndrome.  No, stick with your numbers.  Remember, even when you wish you weren't so damn loyal, so six, that's where get your courage.  And your intellect, well sometimes that truth is only understood by you, but keep casting it out there anyway.  Most of all, stay high on that nine.  You said you were going to go seeking serenity - all you need to know that is that you already have it!  It's in you.  It's all about you.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Jung and Ubuntu

In my last post I waxed on about Freud, not because I get Freud or feel he has definitively defined the human psyche.  I wrote about him because I think he provides a good basis for how we talk about things like the psyche, ego, unconscious self, conscious self, pleasure, flight, etc., etc.  Maybe that's how Jung was feeling about him when he wrote to Dr. Freud.  I can just imagine the letter.  Hey Sigmund, You don't know me but I think we may have some common interests - dreams, early life experiences, sub conscious mind, super conscious mind - you know, stuff like that.  Want to get together and talk about it sometime? And so they did.  As with many May-December relationships, Jung kept searching for what was around the next idea and Freud just wanted to stay where he felt comfortable.  I'm told the relationship ended when Jung kept expanding his ideas and Freud said, "enough already."

Speaking of expanding ideas, it was Jung that brought us the concept of a collective consciousness.  Several years ago I was in a dream group.  A fellow member was an analyst/psychologist.  Once when we were talking about symbols, he was trying to explain that Jung believed that there were certain symbols,  or archetypes, that appeared in all cultures and that had similar meanings in all cultures.  When someone asked how that could be, he drew this big circle.  Then he drew several smaller circles with large parts of the little circles overlapping the large circle, sort of like a venn diagram.  He said, "the small circles represent individual minds, which are all part of a larger mind - the collective consciousness."  He said there was nothing we had to do, nothing to learn or study, in order to be a part of that collective consciousness.  That moment was transformative for me.  I felt somehow less weird, not less unique, but more connected to all of humanity and even all of the universe.  Ideas, feelings, knowings - things that I didn't even have language for, suddenly made sense to me.  Thank you Dr. J.

Now, here I am years later in a similar setting, studying to be a spiritual director.  We do talk of dreams and symbols and their meanings sometimes, but rather than looking at things through a psychological lens, we are looking at them through, well beyond spiritual, an ethereal lens.  My teachers base their teachings and practices on early contemplative mystical christianity.  As they teach they try to understand and define the practices of the christian mystics of the third century and earlier - the desert mothers and fathers.  The works of scholars and theologians like Merton, Keating, Armstrong, Norris, Bourgeault, and Newell are assigned regularly.  Six months into this program, a pattern is emerging for me.  That pattern is, to quote Dr. J., "the small circles represent individual minds (not just our minds but our souls, our very essence I say), which are part of a larger mind (not just a larger mind, Our larger Mind, our Souls, the very Essence of all living things I say) - the collective consciousness."  It seems simple, but it is true, I believe the collective consciousness is what we call God.  At least that is how I understand and define God.  The continual thesis of my current studies is simply put, God is in everyone of us, every one of us is in God.  These are my words, the best I can do with a this concept that seems beyond our simple verbal language.

Back to Jung.  While Jung was not a religious person, he did speak of psychological maladies as spiritual illnesses and deficiencies.  His own experiences with what he called neurosis and hearing voices convinced him that when psychological symptoms present, it is an indication an absence of wholeness.  He suggested that alcohol and drug abusers were seeking to fill or repair a spiritual void or brokenness with chemical experiences.  Jung is credited with influencing Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, their correspondence affirms that.  Jung more or less declared that psychological health and wholeness was not possible without a spiritual health and wholeness.

So, I would like to say thank you to Carl Jung, introduced to me by Dr. J and more deeply by Dr. B., for helping eradicate my early concept of God.  That early God - father, omnipotent, all seeing, punishing, angry and loving (can you say schizoid personality disorder???), never ever made sense or helped me feel good about myself or the world.  The God I now can get my mind around, or rather the God that can get it's mind around mine, is the God I can believe in.  In this kind of a relationship with God, I have to take some responsibility (and credit) for what's happening in the universe as well as my smaller world.  Every thought, every action taken by all of us becomes a part of that collective consciousness.  We - all of the universe known and unknown, comprise God.

In closing this post I say Ubuntu.  No, not the cola, the computer font, or the Linux operating system. Ubuntu - an ethical concept of African origin which if it has to be translated into words loosely means - "I am because You are, You are because I am."

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mind Full

(*NOTE - if you find this too tedious, skip down to the poem at the end of this post :-)

I have been thinking a lot recently about how we relate - to each other, to ourselves, to our environment.  Why do we act the way we do?  What makes us feel the emotions we do?  What compels us to make the choices we do?  How do we overcome that which has been put upon us?  Here are some thoughts -

When I first studied Freud, I recall a sense of being annoyed by a white male's explanation of the mind.  Over time, however, I have come to see the benefit of organizing models of the human psyche.  Whether his ideas and explanations are final explanations or just primitive building blocks, they are evident in the works of later psychological scholars either as a basis or comparison.  

Identifying and describing the id, superego and ego are  very helpful to us in understanding our personal, private and public selves.  By this I mean, the id defines the very essence of who we are.  Depending on our degree of healthy and accurate self-knowledge and assessment, the id may be known or not by ourselves.  We are not always conscious  that our actions are reflections of the id, that is our instinctual drives, the drives toward pleasure or away from danger or hurt.  Here is where the flight or fight instinct lives.   I think there is sometimes also an active “invite” instinct where we try to adapt to an environment that we unconsciously perceive as pleasurable or safe.  We try to invite ourself into an environment that may not be compatible with our true self, simply because we perceive that being in that environment may be beneficial in bringing safety or pleasure.  In our inviting, we may place ourselves in places and situations that are in direct conflict with our uncoordinated, instinctual id. 

Our ego is the part of us that represents common sense and reality as opposed to the passions of the id.  It is in allowing the ego to come forth that chooses the life we live.  The ego is our out loud, or in plain sight, expression of who we are.  The superego is the part of us that facilitates the relationship between the id and ego.  It is where our pre-memory experiences, cultural norms and societal messages are internalized and, when called on to do so, sent to the ego for external expression.  It is no wonder that Freud put such emphasis on experiences of the very young and bonds, or non-bonds, with early care givers in forming the superego and ego.  

It is interesting to note that Freud did not use the terms id, ego and superego.  It was his translator, James Strachey, who latinized Freud's terms "das Es", "das Ich", and "das Uber Ich."  Rather than id, ego and superego, these terms literally mean "the It", "the I" and "the Over I."  Too bad that these terms were not used, as they are more self-explanatory than the latin substitutions Strachey gave us.  

So, why does this even matter?  It sometimes makes my brain hurt just thinking about this kind of thing, yet it does help me understand that, probably, since the human race began we have been trying to understand our connection with that something outside of us that is larger than all the universe, yet at the same time wholly contained in every individual living thing.   I believe that something is what people call  God.  Or god.  Or love.  Or divine presence.  Or spirit.  I don't think it matters what it is called, it only matters how it is expressed.  

Perhaps the reason I am so interested and concerned with how the mind works is because I have a sense that in order for one to truly express what we call god, we must first find god.  Our mind holds memories not only from our lives but, I believe,  from the lives of others and every event in the universe.   This bring us to Jung . . . . . . whom I shall leave for another day.  I think more important than knowing and explaining our mind and how it works is our feeling how our mind works - how it helps us make connections to people, to science, to love, to living - to that which is meaning filled for us.  

I have always been a bit envious of the poet who can reduce what took me hundreds of word to say to just a few lines of poetry.  Today, as a full explanation of the meaning of life,  I give you David Whyte's -

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are too tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.