Pass It On!

frog-1709324__340

Here is a quick activity: Think of one mentor who has taught you a valuable lesson. What was that lesson?

Second, how have you sought to impart that lesson to others? What has been the result?

stained-glass-1181864__340

My quick response:  “Patience is a virtue.” (from Diane) I aim to teach this to my students, especially advanced students working on research projects or thesis papers. I have seen many of these students take some great strides. For myself, I use this principle daily, now in yet another book editing romp.

uncertainty-relation-2434282__340

images are from pixabay.com

I am amazed daily at the miraculous interweaving and orchestration of Life.

“Love is all, and do as thou wilt.”

(Stranger By the River, by Paul Twitchell)

Inner Guidance

stones-1372677__340

Let me make no mistake about it, we are living in difficult times. Whatever our beliefs and values may be, they are under siege by opposing values or by the tenuousness of “truth” itself as a standard upon which we can collectively agree.

Some call it a return to tribalism: a refraction of identity into sub-cultural group affiliations. Clan-like factions abound; whom can you talk to or trust? Any stranger might explode at any moment in a public space, opening fire upon the innocent.

commitment-839793__480

What matters then, in such times of potential turmoil? What goals may still hold value? Where can you turn for reliable guidance? 

On a more positive note, you can always Go Within to find truth by attending to your own ‘inner counsel’. I assure you this is not merely a solipsistic response to collective uncertainty; it is an age-old, universal capacity that has steered the course of history. I believe that when we seek our highest Self and the companionship of Spirit or Divinity Itself in our deepest repose through active contemplation, prayer or meditation practices, we can connect with that which is greater than ourselves alone.

earth-2091112__480

“The One with the All One” is a spiritual image that comes to mind.  Or, “One for All and All for One!” In other words, when we seek our own answers that ‘ring true’ within our highest (NOT our lowest or our conditionally biased!) states of positive, life affirming consciousness, we assume our relation to the Whole of Life Itself. To me, this brings us to a position of unconditional love. If we act from this love, all will be in accord with that which serves the highest Good.  That’s my hopeful belief, anyway.

chinese-675119__480

This month I am inviting you to reflect on the role of Helpers in your own—in all of our— life journey. Inner Helpers come to meet us where we seek them out—be it in a contemplative state or in our dreams.  If you keep a journal that includes a dream diary to record your insights that arise from your inner guidance, then reviewing your journal entries once a week or once a month can help you to recognize the help you are receiving in the form of your own Inner Guidance.  Maybe you will uncover a Theme recurring in your dreams or even in your daydreams.  Keeping track of your dreams and daily insights holds open a channel of communication with your ‘inner counsel’ that can help to always to steer you in YOUR right directions.

adult-1870011__480

images are from pixabay.com

There are many excellent books on the subject of dream techniques and inner guidance. Two I have learned from are THE ART OF SPIRITUAL DREAMING, by Harold Klemp, and INNER GUIDANCE by Anne Archer Butcher.

I welcome always your insights and stories!

 

 

 

Follow Your Leaders!

buddha-1053137__340

I am thinking back all this month about the Helpers who have appeared in my life at critical moments to lead me to my next destination or goal. This in fact, as I reflect on it, is a Universal Principle! Life seems so well orchestrated when you pause to reflect. Nothing, that is, seems wholly accidental—or, if it is so to you, at least how you have responded to fortuitous events has woven the beautiful fabric of your life and life lessons to date!

Helpers are role models and Leaders. They have been where we are aiming to arrive, so they know the pitfalls along the path before us.

LW with Orene

(one of my Role Model Helpers, Orene)

Who have been some of your Role Model Leaders? How have they helped you to move ahead on your Quest?

I have had so many Helpers that when I look back at my life it seems these Helpers have appeared in my Path like Stepping Stones, perfectly arranged to lead me forward on my personal and spiritual journey to understand and to work to fulfill my potentials.

stock-photo-superhero-mother-show-her-daughter-how-to-be-a-superhero-against-blue-sky-background-with-copy-207729484

images are from pixabay.com

When you follow a Leader and accept the gifts from your Helpers, this is a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. Every step forward you take benefits not only yourself but also others. I love Martha Graham’s excellent inspirational statement, which a therapist once gave to me as a gift:

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

Rumi and Shams

dance-65035__480

One of the greatest true stories about the appearance of a Helper whose relationship with an ardent aspirant transforms not only that ‘student’ but through him, also the world, is that of Shams-y-Tabriz (one of several spellings) and the gifted poet, Rumi.

mosque-64795__480

Shams Tabrizi is often claimed as a Sufi or Muslim although more accurately he could be described as a “wandering mendicant” who associated with many religious backgrounds but not only one.  Shams found in Rumi a spiritually thirsty, deeply honest Soul who was able to also put aside a single faith tradition in order to experience Spirit in a most direct manner that Shams taught him to embrace.

buddhist-737196__480

Shams may have been murdered by associates of Rumi who thought of Shams as heretical. After his Master’s death, Rumi’s grief and burning love of Spirit Itself as he had learned to experience IT through his Teacher, was so intense that Rumi developed the whirling dervish technique of spinning to leave his bodily consciousness . He also began composing a large body of some of the greatest spiritual poetry known to humanity, including the Song of the Reed.

stock-photo-illustration-abstraction-religion-sufis-dance-drawn-in-gouache-and-watercolor-577506367

Below is one of Rumi’s poems about his beloved Helper, translated from Coleman Barks.

I swear, since seeing Your face,

the whole world is fraud and fantasy

The garden is bewildered as to what is leaf

or blossom. The distracted birds

can’t distinguish the birdseed from the snare.

 

A house of love with no limits,

a presence more beautiful than venus or the moon,

a beauty whose image fills the mirror of the heart.

The Divani Shamsi Tabriz XV http://www.khamush.com/love_poems.html#Love is the Water of Life

 

The Helpers

lighthouse-93489__340

In every Hero’s Adventure—as in your own Journey of life—“when the student is ready, the Teacher appears.” Teachers, Masters, Mentors, Guardian Angels, Guides, and Signs or signposts arrive to escort us or to prepare us for the challenging passage into the Unknown.

meditation-2214532__480

When we look back we can appreciate how a Helper arrived who allowed us to advance in ways we probably never would have otherwise considered. That special teacher appears who lights up a whole field of study for you at school, or that talented role model who demonstrates qualities you long to develop in yourself; by accepting such encounters we connect with our deepest aspirations and claim our life’s motivating Mission or Purpose.

boy-1035485__340

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is playing as I write this, so as we are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of J. K. Rowling’s gift of the wondrous world of Harry Potter, let’s focus on Dumbledore as the archetypal Mystic Helper. The qualities Dumbledore exhibits in his mentoring of Harry are those latent qualities Harry is needing to develop in himself in order to fulfill his destiny: magical abilities, teaching skills, the practice of right discernment, balancing good vs. evil impulses, and dedication based on love foremost.

wizard-1107855__340

Think of a Helper who appeared or is now present in your life and whose example and insights have helped you develop aspects of your own nature that have allowed you to move further along on your own purposeful journey.

How did you meet this Helper? What interests or abilities has s/he aided you to develop?

professor-1992926__340

images are from pixabay.com

This month we honor and celebrate The Helpers.

I invite your Comments and Stories.

Checking In With Your-Selves!

museum-398761__480

Are you engaged in some process that takes a long time yet brings a personal goal to fruition?  School can be like that, or now for me, writing for mainstream publication. I find this activity proceeds necessarily sometimes in fits and starts. During the fits or slow slog periods of editing yet one more time, I find it helpful to check in with my internal selves: those archetypal persona character modes that each have their own perspectives on our shared as well as their distinctive goals with regard to the project at hand. For it may be one or more of these Archetype Allies that has slowed the progress as a way to call attention to an opportunity for improvement before I can move forward more productively again.

stock-vector-writer-writing-on-paper-sheet-vector-illustration-flat-cartoon-person-hands-with-pen-on-working-556859122

Mindfulness is a popular term these days for this sort of checking in with your Self–or, more accurately for my purposes, your selves!  I like using an Archetype Dialogue Practice to help integrate conflicting internal viewpoints. I use an active imagination technique, such as Jung recommended, to “sink” into a subconscious level of awareness where I can make contact with my internally diverse viewpoints or parts of Self.

carnival-2092819__480

You can think of these archetypal personas as being associated with the various roles (or, masks) you occupy in life, as all of us develop somewhat distinctive points of view from the perspectives of each of our role types (e.g. Parent, Teacher, Lover, Nourisher, Idealist, etcetera).   You can have a conversation inwardly and/or journal a dialogue while you are imagining connecting with these internal parts of Self.  Just allow the interaction or conversation to proceed naturally. This is actually a level of subconscious interaction we take part in unconsciously much of the time, as we weigh a decision or an action.

stock-photo-violinist-playing-underwater-with-muse-swimming-around-in-the-pool-450658666

Below is an excerpt from a journaling form of Archetype Dialogue I engaged with just a few days ago about the slow process of editing for publication:

ELDER LEADER     You need to finish the edit and begin taping for the webinar. Time is waning on our sabbatical.

NOURISHER.     Let her be, Marshall. She knows what she needs to be doing.

 LW:  Well I could use all of your input, actually. The editing feels too mechanical now. Taking stuff out is not so much fun as putting ideas into the book. It pains me to have to be removing the lined journaling pages, stripping down to only providing the instructions for library readers to do the techniques externally.

ELDER LEADER.    Yes we understand but that is what you need to do, so library readers will not be tempted to write in the books. That’s the editor’s decision. Why are you balking so much?

ARTIST    I know what you really want to be doing…and it is what I want to help you with… to redesign the Toolkit as a separate aid that readers will be able to download or receive directly as a workbook companion to the book.  The cover art your cousin has provided will fit beautifully with the Toolkit.

LW: Yes but then I also need to get rolling with the webinar production. And a larger than usual docket of classes looms just around the corner in August. Argh!

TEACHER.    One step at a time, dear. That is the best way forward. What is the ONE THING, as you tell people to consider with their own life mapping, that YOU need to be doing, Now?

MYSTIC.   Yes, dear Soul, what is your ONE THING, NOW?

LW:  Well, I want to have a clearer overview of the Whole–of where all this is heading, really. So much work for so many years, and yes we have a publication date, but the whole process feels like it is starting to get away from me, you know? Master, can you help me to re-center, to regain a stronger focus at this interval as I need to deliver these products in full strength and beauty, to best serve the Whole?

MYSTIC    Go within to find your answer, dear. What is your ONE THING, Now?

mandala-1791741__480

As I continued with this internal musing (a fine expression, by the way!), I did arrive at answers. My new process is to produce both the edit my publisher needs and, concurrently, I will generate the Toolkit from the extracted material. So I do not have to lose any of the vitality I want for the book to contain. As well, this contemplation led me to write a full draft script of the opening webinar sessions, so I feel back on track now!

I invite you to develop your own Archetype Dialogue Practice.  I will be sharing a full process for this approach with my upcoming book (March 2018), Your Life Path.

What are some of your own archetypal “parts of Self”? Allow them to present themselves to you. Just offer them a safe, open space for communicating with you. Keep in mind that these are not external “voices” or entities, at all. (If they feel as such ever, then it could be helpful for you to discontinue the exchange! ) These are simply your own INTERNAL points of view that much too often we tend to ignore. So, lend an ear!

illustration-1807105__480

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your comments and stories!

Revelations Can Carry You Forward

image-1607925__340

The last few months I have been focusing a lot in these posts on the trials and descent process necessary in order to embark well on one’s journey of self discovery and fulfillment. Of course that is exactly what is needed. A Quest, to be worthwhile, advances you toward achieving your deepest aspirations so you can express your unique talents and potentials.

This is the High Adventure of the Soul of which Joseph Campbell speaks. The initial threshold guardians, descent and trials are to help you to clarify your Goal, to claim your mission and purpose, and to develop your resolve. You have crossed the first threshold into the adventure itself, but you must illuminate the passage ahead so that your adventure will not simply be wandering through a maze without a centered destination to reach. The revelations from your initial trials are essential. They allow you to refine your goals.

stock-photo-the-castaway-man-standing-on-island-beach-illustration-painting-581686483

I think of Castaway as offering an excellent example of the value of trials and revelations. Chuck, once marooned on his island, encounters many failures in his early attempts to escape until the realization after testing a possible suicide ploy that also fails, that he must face up to the immense challenge and strive actively to survive, opens the possibility, this reader would say, of his ultimate success in leaving the island and sacrificing his solitude there to return to his social arena of life. Chuck Noland learned he could survive on his own yet that was not enough to be truly living. The metaphor of the angel wing sail that let him finally overcome the tidal forces imposing his solitude served literally to deliver the character from his prison of isolation even while that isolation itself brought invaluable lessons about the meaning of life itself.

stock-photo-life-of-pi-625420595

A similar narrative framing the import of trials and revelations is found in The Life of Pi. There the psychological drama brings the stranded ocean wayfarer to the point of challenging his faith in the goodness of God, yet at every critical point of facing the likelihood and the inevitability even of death, Pi thanks God rather than cursing his fate, and it is then that new positive opportunities abound. Pi, too, like Chuck Noland, survives to live out his life more fundamentally assured of the love of God and the interconnectedness of life in its entirety.

dna-1811955__340

images are from pixabay.com

JOURNAL PROMPT: What revelations have you gleaned from your times of trial or testing that have or can carry you forward to fulfilling your Soul purpose in this life?

I welcome YOUR COMMENTS AND STORY!

[P.S. to Readers: I will be traveling until the 25th so will not post again until after that trip, but I look forward to reading your Comments!]

A Wayfarer Tribute for Larry

door-2099446__340

 

Larry is a kind, friendly man who has served as the director of mail services at my university. This past year several times he and I have chatted when he asked me to sign for some mail at my department. Larry was so excited to be retiring this summer. He and his wife have invested in real estate so that they would have a worry free retirement. He encouraged me in my plans to retire next summer, emphatic that sooner rather than later is the best course to take. He was so excited the last two times we talked, with his retirement date and the liberation it represents edging closer and closer.

stock-photo-a-tree-and-vineyard-by-fingers-lake-129767306

Around two weeks ago, though, Larry suffered a heart attack; my understanding is that he passed from this life the following morning. What a turn of events, I thought at first; how unfair his demise after all of his excellent planning.  How precious and fleeting is a lifetime!  As I will soon be 63 and am beginning to have some health concerns, I wonder about what is to come and want to do all I can NOW, in case Spirit calls me home unexpectedly.

heaven-2138568__340

But then a few days ago while I was in a dentist chair trying not to pay too much attention to possibly painful probing in my mouth, I was blessed to see Larry.  Inwardly I had introduced him to my own Inner Guide, and I watched as he and this Master walked forward along a beautiful pathway into the Light ahead. He was happy and conveyed that to me. He was more excited and interested in discovering what was to come than in looking behind to see what he was leaving. He appeared younger and spry of step. I felt happy for him, the Soul of Larry.

stock-photo-as-happy-as-larry-speech-thought-bubble-cloud-text-blue-545774668giant-579214__340

Now I get that Larry HAS achieved a very happy retirement to a beautiful new life, albeit sadly without his wife outwardly. I am sure where he is going will be where he has earned the right to go forward spiritually in all that Soul’s interests and love.

Life is fleeting from the short perspective of a single persona or lifetime. It is also of immense value to Soul, as each lifetime we have a golden, unique opportunity to express our love and gain insights from the specific conditions and relationships we cultivate in the current body state we occupy in that lifetime. I am a strong believer in reincarnation and in the continuation of Soul to higher and higher states of being and levels of service to the whole.

stock-photo-brave-and-romantic-traveler-guiding-woman-to-the-mountain-in-the-wild-intentional-sun-glare-and-407624548

Larry’s departure reaffirms, to me, that we learn life’s specific lessons and take those gems of wisdom with us ever more, wherever we go.  His joyful excitement and love that I observed in his moving along into the next phase of his own spiritual expression teaches me the value of fully embracing this Life for all of its treasures!

stock-photo-stairway-to-heaven-stairs-in-sky-concept-with-sun-and-white-clouds-concept-religion-background-579366700

images are from pixabay.com

What treasures would you take with you if you were called home today?

Trials and Your Life Lessons

great-torii-of-miyajima-1425480__480

Here’s a helpful self discovery tool: Make a timeline of the challenging times of hardship or trials in your life. Map these life events according to your ages when each event has occurred.

First, do you see any pattern in terms of the clustering of these events? Have they corresponded with any other major events such as big moves or regular time cycles?

overcoming-2127669__480

Second, make a separate list of these events and the ages they occurred, then journal reflectively about any Life Lesson that you gained from each ordeal.

stock-photo-overcoming-challenges-and-crisis-mixed-media-519464068

Can you see any connections among your Life Lessons? Is there a deeper underlying theme, or a realization you can glean? After you have learned a Lesson, has your life experience changed course in any significant ways?

Sages say we often repeat similar tests or ordeals, revealing deeper and deeper levels of a major Life Lesson. Why, do you believe? What might this prepare us for?

actor-1807558__480

Sequel stories and some television series serve to dramatize this observation that life lessons can unravel over time, resulting in a gradual transformation of character. The popular Big Bang Theory–one of my favorites–is a good example, where every character undergoes gradual, transformative change based on learning their life lessons from relating with one another in the ensemble cast over time.

stock-photo-lessons-learned-text-written-on-a-notebook-with-pencils-536426884

images are from pixabay.com

So now, what is your life about?

I welcome YOUR Comments and story.

When Your Dream Becomes a Nightmare? Adapt!

nutshell-2122627__340

June brings our new monthly theme at Better Endings for Your Life Path (see Monthly Topics); the next stage as we proceed forward with the Hero Cycle process is:  TRIALS AND REVELATIONS.

I can certainly relate right now at this juncture in my own life’s journey.  This past month, while blogging here about “Descent into the Belly of the Whale,” I sank into a deep contemplation one day while sitting in the center of an outdoor stone labyrinth. I asked my Inner Guide:

“What is it you/Spirit would ask me to improve upon or change as I proceed forward into the next phase of my journey?”

I received a clear answer:

“Adaptability”

glowing-1884274__340

This answer has lingered in my consciousness.  Adaptability is certainly an important TOOL for me to employ as I approach retirement next summer and the release of my book, Your Life Path, next March.

A few days ago, I had a breakthrough with regard to adaptability. I have been conceiving of one and only one destination for retirement.  Yet when I visited that location through the month of March into April, I encountered a terrifying series of ordeals in the form of an invasion of my very body (and my dog’s and car) by parasitic insects. It took six weeks and a heavy load of new credit debt to clear that scourge, and I find myself left with PTSD around these ‘bug issues’ that I am still working on. When I think of that truly wonderful location, it now brings forth a sense of dread: how could I ever feel entirely safe were I to live there? I know this is not rational yet it is deeply entrenched.

dream-catcher-2199258__340

images are from pixabay.com

So I have been thinking about today’s topic: What Can You Do When Your Dream Becomes a Nightmare?

My answer is clear: ADAPT!

With Life Path Mapping, I always encourage people to remain FLEXIBLE and OPEN TO CHANGE. Future life mapping is not about setting a specific location or job or relationship as a necessary or fixed destination. It is about  projecting your VALUES forward into a future set of conditions that will fulfill your sense of purpose, mission, and life satisfaction.

So I took out a map to see where else could I go to satisfy my interests in a retirement community: closer to family, a vibrant community, a lake.  And I found an amazing location I have known of but had not realized how near it is to where I have wanted to be anyway.  I have a new location focus now.

Adaptation rocks!

dragonfly-452754__340

I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

 

Re-Emergence: Ascent from the Darkness into Light

stock-photo-beautiful-amazing-sunset-winter-mountains-a-man-goes-a-sport-hike-in-snow-holidays-christmas-319404749

Descent into the Belly of the Whale is followed by a re-emergence, a resurfacing into conscious awareness after having gained perspective on the rest of the journey ahead. I love the notion that a descent is followed by Ascent.  We must sink to the depths, yet we bring up from those depths vital tools and gems of newly gained awareness to carry forward. This is an alchemical process.

Elements, Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Four

Luke Skywalker’s Jedi light saber is a good example. After Luke’s uncle and aunt are killed by the Empire’s storm troopers, Luke seeks to “learn the ways of the Force,” first from the Jedi Knight Obiwan Kenobi and later from the great Jedi Master Yoda. Luke is given a light saber, a tool by which to concentrate the Force and direct his own positive attention.

character-663357__340

Such devices of Awareness are quite common in mythology, as in life. Theseus is aided by a skein of thread woven by Ariadne, daughter of King Minos. With this thread Theseus is able to ascend or reemerge from the labyrinth after he encounters and kills the half-bull/ half-man Minotaur and delivers his compatriots from being imprisoned there. Theseus thereafter assumes his father’s throne in Athens.

stock-photo-businessman-at-the-center-of-a-maze-333678827

What about you? What Tool or Lesson have you acquired from a time of arduous descent that has helped you to proceed toward fulfilling your deepest purpose?

A degree, for instance? Or some lesson of patience and perseverance? What then is the Quest that your Tool specifically prepares you to accomplish?

stock-photo-old-combination-lock-where-the-key-question-quest-secret-303846815

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

 

Liminal Guides with their Gifts of Magical Tools

stock-photo-a-boy-stands-with-magic-wand-in-the-library-by-the-bookshelves-with-many-old-books-fairy-tales-266723639

How are you to traverse the aqueous or prickly domain of the ‘belly of the whale’ during your liminal descent as you assume the full import of the rest of your Adventure ahead? You will find, if you but care to ask, a Helper is standing by, ready to guide you through the morass. S/he will bestow upon you some device, a Tool that can help you face your internal dragons and illuminate pitfalls and opportunities along YOUR Path ahead.

mag-2282074__340

Mentors, Masters, Wizards, Teachers, and Guides: all are role models who have already achieved the goals of the Quest you are set upon to realize your most noble Purpose.  They can show you the Way as they know from experience what ordeals you must face, but it is YOU who must walk the Path and learn the Lessons set out before you. It would not help you for your Guide to make your decisions for you or to simply transport you immediately to your destination. For this Journey you are on, this Glorious Quest, is your road of trials that prepares you by letting you develop your talents and your wisdom, so you can become a Master in your own right (and time); so that you may become a Guide to other acolytes seeking their own purposeful goals, down the Road.

portrait-1956032__340

images are from pixabay.com

Your Inner (and/or Outer) Guide will bestow upon you devices appropriate to every stage of your journey; Tools you can utilize to traverse the terrain of the specific segment of the adventure you are ready to engage.  It may be a device to illuminate the Darkness (Lumos!) or a weapon to defend against your most dangerous foes. Luke Skywalker, for example, receives a light sabre that lets him focus and direct his positive force of energy as needed; Frodo wears the ring of invisibility that protects him (while at the same time exposing him as he wears it) from the negative Eye of Sauron, Evil incarnate.

All you must do is to be open and accepting, to recognize your Teacher (as they often appear in disguise).   Remember, as the wise adage states: When the aspirant is ready, the Teacher Appears.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story.

Liminal Lives … as Change Agents

 

man-343674__480

Artists including painters, musicians, writers, actors/directors, photographers, and others (including some scientists) who apply their artistic perspective or highly focused talents and perspectives to the work or the vocation they love, often spend much of their lives as what we could call liminal persons.  They might feel or be perceived as “outside” the norms of society, either by happenstance or by design.

As Outsiders, liminal persons can develop a point of view or vantage point at odds with normal convention; it is often this very ‘oddity’ about them that allows them to contribute original or even revolutionary ideas.  They can help a culture or a community to bend and flex in ways otherwise less likely and can help a society to adjust more quickly to new conditions. 

manhattan-1674404__480

The Beatles when they first erupted upon the musical scene in the ‘60s were one such liminal group. They broke up thought forms by what at the time was considered even radical hair styles, musical beats, and ideology as represented in their lyrics. Mostly they sang about love, but the love they celebrated was broader and deeper. They wrote of world peace and love as a generational construct at odds with their own society’s post WWII and more recent Korean War global conflicts and the controversial war in Viet Nam. It was important for the Beatles to stand outside conservative norms in order to move society forward, even bringing non-Western spirituality to the fore in their later songs and lives.

stock-photo-socrates-statue-at-athens-academy-black-and-white-image-237425218

Socrates in classical Greek times was likewise viewed as an Outsider to the established order. He went about encouraging free thinking in public arenas through his method of philosophical questioning. Socrates’ decision not to escape his sentence of drinking hemlock for the crime of “corrupting” traditional Greek thought of the time was in itself a violation of norms, forcing people to think about his premise of the immortality of Soul.

stock-photo-illustration-abstraction-religion-sufis-dance-drawn-in-gouache-and-watercolor-577506367

Let’s list some more names of historically well-known liminal persons whose departures from norms helped humanity to be more open to new ideas or even to revolutionary change:  Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Rumi, Gertrude Stein, Frida Kahlo, Emily Dickenson, William Butler Yeats, Lord Byron, Albert Camus, Immanuel Velikovsky, Nelson Mandela, Andy Warhol, Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Michelangelo. You can add to this list to form a litany of change agents who in the times they lived were relative loners or outcasts.

oscar-wilde-1165561__480non-violence-1160133__480.png

images are gratefully from pixabay.com

So we see the genius of Life inflecting in such broad strokes of diversity–often accompanied by intense sacrifice or by long-term personal isolation and hardship–so as to illuminate and break through boundaries of perspective and limitations of human consciousness in ways that have allowed our species not only to survive but to thrive.

Vive la difference! as the French might say.  Or, as Lennon and McCartney contributed: “Imagine!”

I welcome YOUR Comments and Stories.

Liminal Passages (Liminality, Part Two)  

bridge-19513__480

Victor Turner said of the betwixt-and-between (where one is likely to experience marginalized feelings during this Transition stage of a Rite of Passage) that one is caught up, as it were, within a Liminal Zone—like a limbo or purgatory—which Turner describes as Anti-Structure.  You have left the settled life of being part of the Structure of a society to enter into this no-persons land. You have stripped away or have had stripped away much of your former identity (this point is for my sister to read re. her recent dream of identity loss; Hi, Lee!).  You have obstacles to face in your Descent as you pass through the Forbidden territory of Anti-Structure, before you can (with your successful passage) re-enter Structure but in a new role and status based on the transformation of your consciousness and personhood you will have attained during this important, meaningful Transition. There is usually a role model or Guide to lead you through this stage; s/he has been where you are aiming to go and has achieved the new status/ level of consciousness you seek to attain with your Quest. Your Guide will help you so far as you need, or ask.

stock-photo-happy-loving-family-father-and-his-daughter-child-girl-playing-outdoors-daddy-and-his-child-girl-419104021

Liminality is such an important stage for anyone (or group) seeking to bring about a positive, transformational adjustment in order to realize a deeply beneficial goal, that I want to share more examples here for you to ponder in their possible relation to your own contemplated, desired changes.

Hiawatha and the League of the Iroquois (A Whole-Society Revitalization)

america-1297528__480

Hiawatha has lost his wife and three daughters, who were murdered by a chief of his own village during a blood feud among the Iroquois tribes and other regional tribes.  He wanders in the woods, desolate and alone. Some say he develops cannibalistic (Windigo-like) thoughts which he despises in himself.

Hiawatha, either from a boat looking into the waters or in a cabin looking in a pot of water, sees a figure—a god, as he is called—named Deganawidah, looking back at him. This figure—some say a real man with a speech impediment also in the woods—conveys to Hiawatha a Condolence Ritual to help him and his peoples grieve their losses, and he imparts guidelines for a new political confederacy, an alliance of the member tribes: the League of the Iroquois. Six tribes eventually joined this League, which still has relevance today. They put aside their internal fighting and agreed to select lifelong delegates (sachems), installed by the Clan Mothers, who would adjudicate disputes. Greater peace, and strength, ensued for many generations to follow.

Lost Horizon (A Personal Calling and Realization of True Potential)

stock-photo-light-from-the-temple-at-night-in-vintage-and-dramatic-tone-at-shangri-la-china-533800768

Robert Conway and a small crew of allies (unknowingly hand-picked) are hijacked when a small plane leaving China-controlled Tibet (in the post-WWII era) suspiciously crash lands in the deep snows of the Himalayas.  Porters carrying just the right-sized and number of coats appear and the porters escort Conway’s group through a difficult passage in the Himalayas over several days. Eventually they round a bend and see the spectacular, verdant and temperate valley where the Abbot and staff of the amazing Temple of Shangri-La welcome them.

himalayas-1972525__480

Conway comes to understand after meeting with the aged Abbot that he has been called to replace this spiritual giant when he (soon to be) passes. Yet he has to reach a degree of faith in the validity of this calling and of the purpose of Shangri-La itself in both a world-beneficial and personal sense.  He escorts his cynical brother away from the Temple when his brother nearly convinces him Temple staff have been lying, but once his brother dies in an avalanche and the woman who claimed she was not protected from aging at the Valley suddenly ages and dies, Conway develops but one core ambition: to return to Shangri-La even after he returns briefly to the US. Following another arduous adventure and crossing (a Second Threshold), Conway returns to Shangri-La to return to the woman there he had fallen in love with and to assume his unselfish, divinely inspired role.

branch-1838381__480

Star Wars Episode 5: Return of the Jedi (Spiritual Warrior Training and Transformation of Consciousness)

A name that you all recognize: Yoda.  Luke Skywalker departs (separates) from his compatriot rebels to find this Jedi Master so he can train to become a Jedi Knight, “like his father before him.” Luke’s training has all the character of a Liminal Passage. He feels frustrated and powerless at first, doubting his own abilities and doubting the veracity of Yoda’s capabilities as a Teacher. Yoda shows patience with young Luke and reveals his own strengths only as needed, asking the Acolyte to work at self-mastery instead of relying on his master’s techniques. When Yoda sends Luke into the mysterious, swampy domain where he will meet his own negative side in the form of Darth Vader (his Dark Father nature, after all), Luke disregards Master Yoda’s suggestion that he leave his light saber behind. Luke ends up defeating only himself by allowing his fear and anger to lead him to confront the image of Vader therein, a lesson very important for Luke to learn.

yoda-1675801__480

Luke gains Jedi skills from Yoda, yet he has more to learn in the forge of experience as the saga continues. He returns to the fields of battle to save his friends and to serve the Rebellion as best he is able.

stock-photo-light-saber-fight-red-and-blue-isolated-on-black-lightsaber-futuristic-weapons-war-sabre-sword-359560856

To conclude this reflection on Liminal Passages, consider their role in your personal Life Story.  The more deeply the Liminal Zone is entered into and absorbed, the greater the transformation of consciousness that may occur and with that, the greater the benefits may radiate out from the Hero(ine) to the Whole and its values they are pledged to defend and uphold. The Hero is a Role Model for those s/he serves and  hence can become a guide or Teacher for other Acolytes.

buddhist-737196__480

images are from pixabay.com

And so the Great Cycle continues, life after life, purpose after purpose.  What is YOUR PURPOSE for being Here? What strengths can you develop to be of greatest value to the Whole?

I welcome YOUR Comments and STORY!

 

Liminality: The Betwixt and Between

moon-2245798__480

Why is it that after a hero has crossed the initial threshold of adventure, there is always a descent to undergo before the adventure can be pursued to the point of true fulfillment? An adventure story worth its salt, so to speak,—fictional or yours—is first and foremost a Rite of Passage.

Anthropologists recognize that a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle adventure occurs over three ritual or Hero Cycle stages. The adventure proceeds from:

(Stage 1)  Separation–whereby the hero(es) remove themselves from their normal state of affairs in order to pursue a personally meaningful and collectively beneficial Quest–; to

 (Stage 2) the Transition Zone–wherein they meet themselves and encounter obstacles in the form of trials and tribulations–; to

(Stage 3, when or if the Quest is successfully fulfilled), their Return and Reincorporation–whereby the more mature and better individuated Self benefits others as well as themselves from their positive transformation of values and the maturity they have brought back from their ritual passage.

beyond-2184946__480

The Transition Zone (Stage Two of a complete Rites of Passage/ Hero Cycle odyssey) is where a Descent—sometimes metaphorically depicted as being swallowed up or in the Belly of the Whale—must occur in order for the Quester(s) to develop and strengthen their depth of character quite literally, as in what Jung would call a more integrated and thereby a better balanced unconscious-with-conscious Self. 

In the Transition Zone of a Rites of Passage cycle, the Quester encounters liminality: the experience of feeling as if they are “betwixt and between” normal spheres of reality or society.  As both Victor Turner and Anthony Wallace have described rites of passage, this sense of liminality—whether for an individual or sometimes for an entire society when a revitalization movement occurs—places the person (or social group) in an experience of marginality. They are no longer in the status or role they had before embarking on their adventure, yet they have not yet accomplished or fulfilled their quest whereby they could claim a new, greater role or their successful social-psychological adjustment. I love Anthony Wallace’s description of this (when successfully achieved) process as a Mazeway Resynthesis: a psychological/cognitive reorganization of values and behavior according to an adjustive, fulfilling new Vision of (individual and/or cultural) reality as a whole!

hiker-918473__480

images are from pixabay.com

Here are just a few examples of popular literary/ fictional stories that include prominent LIMINAL ZONE sub-plots or scenes:

Harry Potter: especially in his feelings of isolation from even his closest allies and in his nightmarish dreams of Voldemort from episodes 4-7;

Lord of the Rings: in Frodo’s passage, with Samway and the devious trickster Gollum as companions in liminality, to Mordor to destroy the One Ring in Return of the King;

The Wizard of Oz: e.g. in the Forbidden Forest, the Poppy Fields, and the Wicked Witch’s castle; and

The Bucket List: in the main characters’ unsuccessful outer quest to climb Mt. Everest,  during which they come to realize the true value of love and family.

What about you in your own unique LIFE STORY? Can you identify with a time in your life when you have experienced (or have yet to) LIMINALITY?  I invite you to journal about this experience or prospect. What did or have you to GAIN?

I welcome your Comments and Story!

 

 

Carl G. Jung on Descent and Active Imagination

mask-515257__340

One of my favorite books is Carl G. Jung’s posthumously published THE RED BOOK. (BTW for the past few years it has become available in a “Reader’s Edition” (2012) for only around 25.00; a great buy, although the original has his amazing drawings and mandalas and the original German journal entries.)

The_Red_Book_by_Carl_Jung,_2009

 I have used this book as a textbook whenever I teach a university class on life mapping.  Jung’s self-initiated DESCENT in 1913 for 25 nights and then for some twenty years more with less regularity deeply influenced his therapy practice and theory along with his understanding of the collective unconscious, divinity, as well as personal unconscious ‘persona’ archetypes. Rather than blogging in a reflexive way myself then this week, I present for you below some of Jung’s direct insights (and those of the book’s editor, Sonu Shamdasani). I hope that you enjoy them and I invite you as he would to undertake a process of active imagination and journaling to engage in and record your own encounter with your own unconscious, archetypal parts-of-Self!

“The task of individuation lay in establishing a dialogue with the fantasy figures–or contents of the collective consciousness–and integrating them into consciousness, hence recovering the value of the mythopoeic imagination which had been lost to the modern age, and thereby reconciling the spirit of the time with the spirit of the depth.” (Shamdasani; The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012, Introduction: pg. 49)

stock-vector-vector-illustration-of-the-gods-from-ancient-egypt-osiris-and-isis-225037930

“This was my twenty-fifth night in the desert. This is how long it took my soul to awaken from a shadowy being to her own life.” (Jung, The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012: 145)

…I had spoken to my soul during 25 nights in the desert and I had given her all my love and submission. But during the 25 days I gave all my love and submission to things, to men,and to the thoughts of this time. I went into the desert only at night.(Jung, The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012: 151)

“The spirit of the depths opened my eyes and I caught a glimpse of the inner things, the world of my soul, the many-formed and changing.” (Jung, The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012: 147)

maze-1542270__180

As I do not wish to violate fair use laws and hope I haven’t yet in using these quotes, I will add that at the end of his reflections on his Descent via active imagination, he states that ever since he would invite all of his therapy clients and friends to do likewise: to encounter their own depth personae and to “write it all down” as he did first in his Black Book and then copied with art into The Red Book journal. He painted mandala images when he completed a phase of understanding; you can see these online or in the 2009 original publication of The Red Book.

colorful-1769628__340

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR comments and story!

Descent–Into the Belly of the Whale

mountaineer-2100050__480

For this month of May let’s explore here the stage of the Hero’s Adventure which requires Descent and Re-emergence.  Once an adventurer set upon their glorious Quest crosses the (first) threshold to enter into the domain of their field of action to achieve fulfillment, they are often initially “swallowed up” or they descend into a “forbidden (verboten) zone” of a sort that accords with their needs.  Descent signifies allowing oneself to explore the fertile realms of archetypal unconscious potential. Descent is a necessary process to undertake before you can claim any true progress in attaining your most worthy purpose or goal.

Many an epic narrative illuminates the rich though challenging encounter with ‘denizens of the Deep’, such as is represented by the biblical story of Jonah and the Whale. This is a descent into the “dynamism of the Unconscious” according to archetypal psychologists including Carl Jung, James Hillman and Joseph Campbell.

Your unconscious psychological Innerscapes that you may feel are “below” or ‘beneath’ your surface level of conscious awareness are vital like rich loam, oozing with multiple, too often “buried” perceptions, feelings and insights.

underwater-2141072__480

Halloween, for example, is a time of year set aside to release and engage with such a ‘dark,’ shadowy level of consciousness that may actually represent your own unconscious, ‘inner’ worlds. Who do you like to dress up as on Halloween? What might that say about your own archetypal ‘shadow’ selves?

egyptian-1823488__480

This month I invite you to “step down,” to accept and listen more closely to your own subconscious and deeper unconscious–often called “gut”–voices. They are YOU; facets of your own total consciousness that derive in part from the various roles and lived experiences you have accumulated and enacted in your life, including those usually more ‘hidden’ parts of Self that might feel stunted, silenced or in “Shadow”.

Sink Into Deep Waters: A Creative Visualization Activity

stock-photo-woman-sit-in-glass-bottom-boat-next-to-window-505569568

As a self-discovery, active imagination technique that you can use to facilitate the psychologically energizing experience of Descent, I invite you to imagine sinking deeply into a body of water. Remember the scene from The Graduate when Ben Braddock (the title character played by Dustin Hoffman) is overwhelmed by his conflicting feelings and relationships, so he dives into a backyard pool and lets himself sink to the bottom? He stays there as long as he can in this depth domain, performing a sort of soul searching.

Try this in a bathtub.  You can fill your tub with bath bubbles (if you wish), with time apart from family or others, and sink back (not really putting your head under the water for so long!).  Imagine sinking to the bottom of a pool or of a lake or even of an Ocean. You can breathe, though; do make sure you give yourself this ability.

Now explore: what is ‘on your mind’ or heart?  What deep questions or decisions are you contemplating, do you need answers about from your own inner parts of Self or inner guidance?

I just did this exercise myself about an hour ago and loved it. When I asked my Self what I needed to better understand I found it is my fear of being alone in my retirement.  My dog Sophie was at the bathroom door and I knew she and my cats will be with me, but I do have a fear of leaving all my friends and outer spiritual community behind me in Colorado when I move in just over a year across country.

So I stayed in the tub, continuing to imagine being underwater like Ben in The Graduate. (Actually this turns out for me to be a very apt fictional analog, as I conceptualize retirement as a graduation from Academia as a professor.) I found my inner selves piping up about the various aspects of Self I could connect with in seeking new friends at my new location. I can connect with writers, and readers, and retired teachers; with pet lovers, Scrabble or other game players, hikers, neighbors and of course my family will mostly be closer, plus a highschool friend still there. Even further, the thought arose that through today’s social media, I don’t have to wait until I make this Big Move before connecting to seek out some like minded others.  I can find online networks and begin connecting even before I leave. I have a full year left to do so before I leave. This last awareness felt very liberating to me; an idea I had not focussed on very ‘deeply’ before now!

dive-1849531__480

pictures are from pixabay.com

And so, dear fellows, Go For It! I invite you to try this creative visualization technique, either in the tub or in any environment that allows you to engage in an active contemplation session.

I invite and welcome your comments and story!

Build a Bridge to Your Destiny

bridge-2062748__480

Who Are You? How did you get where you are today? Where are you wanting to go from here? How will you get there?

Here’s a quick creative Tool to help you discover a pathway to a desired next step that you might feel it is too hard to attain:

On a piece of construction paper of a color you associate with Fulfillment, paste or draw an image of a BRIDGE. This can be any sort of bridge you choose, but make sure it is strong, a bridge that will definitely convey you from one side (where you are now) to another (where you wish to “belong”).

bridge-19513__480

You can place or draw images of where you are and of where you wish to arrive at as a destination on either side of the bridge.

On or above the Bridge Path itself, place action words, phrases or images that are actual steps or transitions you CAN make in the foreseeable future that can lead you clearly n the direction of your goal.

For example, “pay off debt” or “exercise 2 times per week” or “write a chapter outline” could be statements you write on the bridge.

bridge-2023956__480

images are from pixabay.com

Then, DO THIS!  Place one action before you that  is easy to set into motion and let that motion carry you over the bridge, across a threshold to your desirable new state or condition.

I welcome YOUR comments or story!

Contemplative Hopping (Internal Threshold Crossing)

travel-1756150__480

Story 1:  Yogic Flying

Sometime in the late 1970’s, a group of Transcendental Meditation practitioners first stunned the world with their release of video (before the Web even!) demonstrating “yogic flying” or “hopping” while in a deep meditation state of consciousness. They would levitate and shift position on their mats apparently as an exercise of Mind over Body.

Yogic Fliers reveal that we are capable of controlling the body directly through thought or Mind. What else can we take away from their example?

theravada-buddhism-1823527__480

Story 2:  Conscious vs. “Unconscious” States of Consciousness

For a graduate school assignment in linguistic semantics one week, our professor asked us to compose better semantic accounts than standard dictionary references for a related set of terms.  I chose CONSCIOUS and UNCONSCIOUS and compiled a wide range of definitions in order to sort these out and arrive at a holistic semantic analysis. What I discovered was that any state of consciousness that is not “conscious” or a “waking state” perception or experience people tend to lump together under the very large umbrella of “unconscious” in American English parlance.

Included under the far-reaching semantic domain of “unconscious”: unconscious, subconscious, dream state, daydreams, ‘other side’, Mind, (unconscious) thought, brain synapses, Self, soul, precognition, memory, lack of awareness. What I noticed about this wide range of concepts is that, simply put, Americans comprehend on the whole very little about anything they cannot directly See, Hear, Taste, Smell or Touch. All the rest, which in my view is the whole-enchilada iceberg under that tiny tip of “conscious” sense awareness, is lumped together as “unconscious.”

nuns-1392541__340

As one who has engaged in daily, active contemplation and dreamwork for at least 44 years, I have discovered that the “Inner” is much more vast and is much more open to exploration and freedom of experience than the “Outer” realm of matter and conscious awareness.  There are many (perhaps infinite) levels of consciousness beyond the outer physical senses and body, and you are free to explore this diverse multiplicity of states and levels of consciousness through various modes of meditation, contemplation, active imagination, dreamwork, prayer, paranormal investigation and/or mindfulness techniques.

meditation-2214532__480

That which is BEYOND the physical body states is neither defined by the mind nor contained or controlled by the Brain.

Implications for Contemplative Hopping—Internal Threshold Crossing

Using Jung’s approach of active imagination, a mode of contemplative envisioning and inner action, I encourage you to try your beyond-the-physical wings!  You do have them, at least figuratively speaking.  Dreams of flying (with or without wings as they are usually not needed!) are a very common early mode of inner travel or shifting of attention inwardly.  Explore an inner landscape, for instance, of an outer place you will soon be visiting “out here.”  Or actively contemplate the results or consequences of some anticipated move or action by yourself or others.

When I  was to make a big move from Buffalo (East) to Arizona (‘Out West”)  some 38 years ago, every night I asked to be shown something about the life I was about to embark upon plus I asked questions to trouble shoot this grand adventure. I was shown four people I would later meet (independently of one another) along with some glimpse of their role in my upcoming life.  I was also shown that  the experience would not be without its hardships but they would be necessary (karmic, let’s say), and when I later experienced what was foretold in these dreams very directly, I had been forewarned so was better prepared to meet the challenges.

radiant-705703__340

images are from pixabay.com

Let’s call your active inner explorations (past, present or future) to be forms of inner Threshold Crossing. I like to say, you don’t have to die or nearly die in order to explore the Heavens as well as really anything/ any state your Heart desires. Sages like the poet Rumi, actually, encourage us to “die daily.” This means you have the spiritual freedom to explore and investigate beyond the limited reaches of brain-mind or body.

See? I welcome your comments and stories!

Cross the Threshold to Your Greatest Adventure

stock-photo-strawberry-fields-the-john-lennon-memorial-in-central-park-60652162

The greatest adventure is living life fully in the NOW (see “Alternate Futurescapes” recent post). Now then, the NOW is not necessarily but does include the Present of time-space. NOWness as well includes your own Past and Future lived and liveable experience (as arrays of possibilities) and the total range of possibility arcs in this lifetime, in parallel (e.g. ‘past or future lives’) and in the mulitiverse at large! Have I blown your mind yet? What the heck am I suggesting here? Yes, that You, as a Soul divinely gifted with a capacity for perception and vision–i.e., your creative, active imagination, not just your mental memory banks or existing synaptic networks–are free to explore, examine, and create forms from formless substances; you as Soul are indeed a Creator of and in your own worlds.

So, I encourage you to exercise your innate freedom of consciousness! You needn’t hesitate to daydream, and pay attention to your nighttime revelations as well as to those waking dreams that bring a message to you in the moment. If you were to lock your keys in your car, for example, how might that be a waking dream for you? Maybe it is telling you to pay closer attention, or not to close yourself out of a potential vehicle for moving forward. Take that job offer, for instance, when this sort of waking dream symbol occurs.

ornament-2016442__340

images are from pixabay.com

Crossing the threshold to your Greatest Adventure signifies living your life to its fullest potentials, Now, and Now too, and also NOW! In this sense the nature of your life event may be less important than how you experience, frame or respond to it.

Life is transitory: its constructs of imagery, form and emotions ebb and flow as your consciousness focuses or directs your attention (or else as we react, based on former constructions; so, far better the former).

So now, take heed and celebrate every blessed moment, not only in this lifetime you are creating but in the Wholeness of Life Itself.  The mystic sages tell us, and I do believe, that in the most ultimate awareness of truth, Life of Itself is only LOVE.

Love (or, Spirit) is: “…that thread, so fine as to be invisible, yet so strong as to be unbreakable — which binds together all beings in all the worlds of God, in all universes, throughout all time, and beyond time into eternity.” (Paul Twitchell, The Shariyat-Ki-SUGMAD, Book 1).

I enjoy and welcome your Comments. I also invite you to send your own stories on these themes that I will post or reblog with a byline for you, by sending them to my email at lwatts@uccs.edu.