Saturday, September 30, 2017

How to be Good

Someone fully taken over by the wetiko bug is like a kitten endlessly reacting to her reflection in a mirror, thinking it is another kitten separate from and other than herself, as she becomes conditioned by her own energy. Wetikos react to their own projections in the world as if they objectively exist and are other than themselves, delusionally thinking that they have nothing to do with creating that to which they are reacting - Paul Levy, Dispelling Wetiko
While Lucifer sucks the juice out of the lemon, as it were, Ahriman presses it out, thereby hardening what remains. - Rudolf Steiner, Inner Impulses of Evolution: The Mexican Mysteries and the Knights Templar 
I was a hidden treasure; I longed to be known. Hence I created the world so that I would be known. - Islamic Hadith
There are only two principles: goodness and truth. Goodness is merely the desire for truth; truth is what goodness desires. Anything true is desired by goodness; anything good desires truth.

But the priority between love and truth can invert itself. Instead of goodness loving truth, through a slippery slope, "what is" determines the desire for it. You think “Ah! A wild x appears! That must be what I want.” In this inversion, you think that wherever you happen to be is all there is to life, which does not at all follow. This "wherever you happen to be" is what Swedenborg called a falsity, and the desire for it is what he called evil. When George Bernard Shaw said that “patriotism is … a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it,” he wasn’t just being polemical. Nationalism and bigotry happen because we assume that the falsity of the “here and now” is more important than the "thee and then" because it's here.There's no problem with your country; it may be great, but it's not great because you were born in it. Likewise, your football team may be the best, but it's not best because it's your hometown's team. If you fall into the trap of evil and falsity, the near swallows the far and the now swallows the then. 

But wickedness was never happiness. Desires always have goodness at their heart, but they have become hypnotized by falsity and fallen in love with that hypnotism.  If we really want to be happy, we’ll desire what really fulfills that desire, not the convenient, falsified substitute. Every sinful desire, its impulse purified by the truth's context, becomes a virtue. You will not be angry but instead zealous; not lustful but full of everlasting burnings; not egotistical but boastful of God. And this desire, this love, isn’t exclusive to you. Really, anyone’s joy is your joy. The good of each is the good of all. With this shift of perspective, scarcity vanishes. You live as anyone that you talk to, that you see on the street, on TV, or in the history books. This love living in you plays our near and far. It is not constrained by “here” and “now.” It takes no thought for space and time.

And yet space and time are not evil; they are merely the source of evil, and this is only because they appear to separate us from each other and lead us to think that we really are separate. But we are not. Space and time have been in charge, but they belong in the back seat. Space and time are truth, but truth should serve goodness and not vice versa. Then, no longer constrained by where I happen to be, I can finally enjoy where I happen to be. The here and now become a gift instead of a compelling burden. The present ceases to be a fleeting treasure to be hoarded; it, like every other moment, reveals itself as the face of God. The universe becomes transparent, no longer an opaque war of each against each.

So, "how to be good?" Love truth, not abstractions. That is, love the twisting, folding, mutually implicating play that is life itself and not the wooden substitute of your own thoughts. Don't love one side of an arbitrary line over another, whether that line be a fence between countries or your very skin. Put in a different way: don't give up on what is, and don't give up on your happiness. These two great evils are based on the falsity of a crude opposition between truth and goodness, between reality and our longings. We either resign ourselves to being life's slave or try to make life our slave. We must conquer or submit, no in-between. But God isn't a slave driver, and neither are you. Life isn't a chess game. It seems that way because of the wide spaces and long stretches of time in this world, but these emptinesses and intervals, seen properly, do not separate but unite. Imperfection, like the space between the eyes of two people in love, is the absence that allows presence. If you get rid of ol' imperfect you, God has no reality to love. And if you put yourself in charge, you become as lonely as a God without creation.  In neither case are you together. One is the loneliest number, but two - and the emptiness that two needs, is company. And that's the truth.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Victor Oddo on September's (Unprecedented) Energies

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Mormon Face

I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances? - Alma 5:19
 Now my son, I would that ye should repent and forsake your sins, and go no more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross yourself in all these things; for except ye do this ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Oh, remember, and take it upon you, and cross yourself in these things. - Alma 39:9
And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof.  - 3 Nephi 19:25
There is a Mormon Face. 'The Mormon Face has eyes that gaze far, far in the distance, not endlessly, but confidently at a distant goal. This goal is inevitable. There is a sharpness in the Mormon Face, a quality that doesn't cut corners, that holds firmly to the iron rod, that sharply gestures, that turns with the staccato quality of that sure hold. There is no BS in the Mormon Face.

And yet it is overwhelmingly kind. It looks with fondness. It regrets that it cannot embrace when tact says no. It feels a fire that burns and brings tears to the eyes. This love surpasses every boundary.  "If only people knew!" it says. "O that I were an angel...that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!" For it doesn't love indiscriminately, which is just hatred; it loves people as they as they could be, as they will be, given the chance. It loves with keen discrimination. This is, again, the gaze to a distant but certain goal.

And it is sad. It sees wasted potential; it longs to set it free. It wants to help, but it can't. It stands at the door knocking, knocking, knocking. As God weeps, it weeps.

And that's the thing: this face is Christ's. The countenance you see in most meetinghouse paintings is inaccurate. Here is a more accurate depiction:

This sculpture was by Rudolf Steiner, and he says about it: "Yes, that is the Christ. This is how my spiritual eye perceived him in Palestine." Notice the eyes that look with sad fondness, the smile that looks with a love burdened by the weight of the world and yet never wearies. Those eyes contain mysteries that could go on forever and ever. This face is love. 

General Conference is coming up. Look for the Face there. Learn its contours, its movements. Etch it on your own countenance. Christ's Face can be yours..

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Victor Oddo on September's Energies

"Try to understand what I am saying: everything is dependent on everything else, everything is connected, nothing is separate. Therefore everything is going in the only way it can go. If people were different everything would be different. They are what they are, so everything is as it is." - P. D. Ouspensky, quoting G. I. Gurdjieff, In Search of the Miraculous

Spiritual Sun; Spiritual Moon

These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood. These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical. And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differs from that of the church of the Firstborn who have received the fulness of the Father, even as that of the moon differs from the sun in the firmament. - D&C 76:69-71

Looking back into the past we feel ourselves connected with the Moon existence and realise that we bear within us something not derived from the present but from the cosmic past — not merely from the earthly past. In our present Earth existence we unite this fragment of the past with the present. We do not, in the ordinary way, pay much attention to what is contained in this fragment of the past; but in point of fact we should not be of much account as human beings if it were not there within us. What we acquire at the time of descending from pre-earthly into earthly existence has something automatic about it — the automatic element in our physical and etheric bodies. What makes us into particular human individuals is inwardly connected with our past and thus with the Moon existence. But just as we are connected with the past through our Moon existence, so are we connected with our future through the Sun existence. We were ready for the Moon forces, especially in relation to the Beings who have withdrawn to the Moon, even in earlier times; for the Sun which works to-day as an impulse in the sphere of the universal-human only, we shall not be ready until a very distant future, when evolution has reached a much more advanced stage. The Sun to-day can reach only to our external being; not until distant future ages will it be able to reach our individuality, the inmost core of our being. When the Earth is no longer Earth, when it has passed into quite another metamorphosis, then and then only shall we be ready for the Sun existence. Man is so proud of his intellect — but the intellect in present humanity is purely a product of the Earth, since it is tied to the brain, and the brain — despite current belief — is the most physical structure in the human organism. The Sun is perpetually wresting us away from this bondage to the earthly, for the Sun does not in reality work upon our brain ... if it did, we should produce much cleverer thoughts! From the physical aspect the Sun's influence is exerted on the heart, and what streams out from the heart is Sun-activity. Through the brain men are essentially egotistic, through the heart they become free from egoism and rise to the level of the universal-human. Thus through the Sun we are more than we should be if we were left to our own resources in our present Earth existence. Let me put it like this: if we can really find our way to the Christ, He enables us, because He is a Sun Being, to be more than we could otherwise be. The Sun stands in the heavens personifying the future, whereas the Moon personifies the past. The Sun is the other gate into the spiritual world, the gate leading to the future. Just as we are impelled into earthly existence by the Moon Beings and Moon forces, so, through death, we are impelled out of it by the Sun forces. These Sun forces are connected with that part of our nature of which we are not yet master, which the gods have given us so that we may not wilt in earthly life but reach out beyond our own limitations. And so Moon and Sun are in truth the two gates in the universe into the spiritual life. The Moon is inhabited by Beings with whom we were once connected in the way I have indicated. The Sun is inhabited by Beings with whom — with the exception of the Christ — we shall be united only in our future cosmic existence. The Christ will lead us to those who were once His companions on the Sun. But this, as far as man is concerned, belongs to the future. -Karmic Relationships, Volume VI, Lecture 1
"You must also know further, that only one cosmic crystallization, existing under the name 'Omnipresent-Okidanokh,' obtains its prime arising – although it also is crystallized from Etherokrilno – from the three Holy sources of the sacred Theomertmalogos, that is, from the emanation of the Most Holy Sun Absolute. "Everywhere in the Universe, this 'Omnipresent-Okidanokh' or 'Omnipresent-Active-Element' takes part in the formation of all both great and small arisings, and is, in general, the fundamental cause of most of the cosmic phenomena and, in particular, of the phenomena proceeding in the atmospheres." - G. I. Gurdjieff, Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson
"In our system the end of the ray of creation, the growing end, so to speak, of the branch, is the moon. The energy for the growth, that is, for the development of the moon and for the formation of new shoots, goes to the moon from the earth, where it is created by the joint action of the sun, of all the other planets of the solar system, and of the earth itself. This energy is collected and preserved in a huge accumulator situated on the earth's surface. This accumulator is organic life on earth. Organic life on earth feeds the moon. Everything living on the earth, people, animals, plants, is food for the moon. The moon is a huge living being feeding upon all that lives and grows on the earth. The moon could not exist without organic life on earth, any more than organic life on earth could exist without the moon. Moreover, in relation to organic life the moon is a huge electromagnet. If the action of the electromagnet were suddenly to stop, organic life would crumble to nothing.  "The process of the growth and the warming of the moon is connected with life and death on the earth. Everything living sets free at its death a certain amount of the energy that has 'animated' it; this energy, or the 'souls' of everything living plants, animals, people—is attracted to the moon as though by a huge electromagnet, and brings to it the warmth and the life upon which its growth depends, that is, the growth of the ray of creation. In the economy of the universe nothing is lost, and a certain energy having finished its work on one plane goes to another.  "The souls that go to the moon, possessing perhaps even a certain amount of consciousness and memory, find themselves there under ninety-six laws, in the conditions of mineral life, or to put it differently, in conditions from which there is no escape apart from a general evolution in immeasurably long planetary cycles. The moon is 'at the extremity,' at the end of the world; it is the 'outer darkness' of the Christian doctrine 'where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'  "The influence of the moon upon everything living manifests itself in all that happens on the earth. The moon is the chief, or rather, the nearest, the immediate, motive force of all that takes place in organic life on the earth. All movements, actions, and manifestations of people, animals, and plants depend upon the moon and are controlled by the moon. The sensitive film of organic life which covers the earthly globe is entirely dependent upon the influence of the huge electromagnet that is sucking out its vitality. Man, like every other living being, cannot, in the ordinary conditions of life, tear himself free from the moon. All his movements and consequently all his actions are controlled by the moon. If he kills another man, the moon does it; if he sacrifices himself for others, the moon does that also. All evil deeds, all crimes, all self-sacrificing actions, all heroic exploits, as well as all the actions of ordinary everyday life, are controlled by the moon.  "The liberation which comes with the growth of mental powers and faculties is liberation from the moon. The mechanical part of our life depends upon the moon, is subject to the moon. If we develop in ourselves consciousness and will, and subject our mechanical life and all our mechanical manifestations to them, we shall escape from the power of the moon. -P.D. Ouspensky, quoting G. I. Gurdjieff, in In Search of the Miraculous
That the Lord is actually seen in heaven as a sun I have not only been told by angels, but it has occasionally been granted me to see it; and therefore what I have heard and seen respecting the Lord as a sun I shall be glad to tell in a few words. The Lord is seen as a sun, not in heaven, but high above the heavens; and not directly overhead or in the zenith, but before the faces of the angels at a middle height. He is seen at a considerable distance, in two places, one before the right eye and the other before the left eye. Before the right eye He is seen exactly like a sun, as it were, with a glow and size like that of the sun of the world. But before the left eye He is not seen as a sun, but as a moon, glowing white like the moon of our earth, and of like size, but more brilliant, and surrounded with many little moons, as it were, each of them of similar whiteness and splendor. The Lord is seen so differently in two places because every person sees the Lord in accordance with the quality of his reception of the Lord, thus He is seen in one way by those that receive Him with the good of love, and in another by those that receive Him with the good of faith. Those that receive Him with the good of love see Him as a sun, fiery and flaming, in accordance with their reception of Him; these are in His celestial kingdom; while those that receive Him with the good of faith see Him as a moon, white and brilliant in accordance with their reception of Him, and these are in His spiritual kingdom. This is so because good of love corresponds to fire; therefore in the spiritual sense fire is love; and the good of faith corresponds to light, and in the spiritual sense light is faith. And the Lord appears before the eyes because the interiors, which belong to the mind, see through the eyes, from good of love through the right eye, and from good of faith through the left eye; since with angels and also with men all things at the right correspond to good from which truth is derived, and all at the left to truth that is from good. Good of faith is in its essence truth from good. -Emanuel Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell 118
This place turned out to be a meadow with many flowers in it. It was a wonderful meadow, but I knew that it was only an image of a meadow, somehow conjured up and suspended in this new world. The being asked me to play on the meadow, but I could not. I simply did not know how. All of a sudden, I was aware of a tiny bright light far away in the "sky" but rapidly coming nearer and nearer. It was shaped like a ball and it was indescribably bright. I tried to shade my eyes, but I did not need to. Despite its incredible brightness and brilliance, it did not dazzle me a bit! Presently, this light stopped at a distance right above me. It was a sun about the same size as the sun of our world, but it was indescribably brighter. I kept staring at this sun wondering how a light could possess such brilliance. The brightness of the lights in the black world was brilliant, too, but of a different nature. Suddenly I realized that it was scrutinizing me very closely. On that, it opened up, and a beam came pouring down on me. And I heard it shouting at me, "I can destroy you if you do not tell the truth about your being here!" I answered, "But I do not know anything else but the truth!" Then something happened that I would never, never forget. Love, pure, utter love came pouring down on me along with incredible warmth. My whole soul or being was immersed in this love. He lifted me up and gave me a kiss on my mouth. This Being of Light loved me deeply, infinitely deeply, and more and more intensively. I was happy! I could have stayed in this beam of love forever. If my story had been a lie, the Being of Light would have annihilated me. I had a clear conscience anyway, so there was no reason to fear anything. Gradually the loving became weaker and I felt that something was wrong with me - something that made it very difficult for the light to continue with his love. He was trying not to tell me why. Finally, however, he was not able to keep it up any longer and he quickly said, "You have a smelly breath. You need a bath." Although I could not comprehend the reason, I was willing to do what the Being of Light wanted me to do. I was lifted up and put into a red light. I closed my eyes. I could not feel anything. I did not know for how long I had been in this state. After some time, however, I realized that I was being tossed about rather rigorously. It was like being in a washing machine. I cried, "I think that is enough!" Immediately, I was lowered down and the love and the warmth were switched off, but I still remained in this beam (or sphere). Suddenly the sun disappeared and I saw a moon. I was in a different world. Everything was black but the moon, which was right in front of me. It was much clearer and more refulgent than the moon in our world. There was not a trace of blackness in it. The moon was surrounded by a wreath of little, bright stars. I kept staring at this shiny moon when suddenly I felt a strange sensation entering through my left eye and spreading into the deepest recesses of my brain. I was wondering about the fact that I could distinctly see the moon with my left eye that had always been weaker than my right one and I suddenly realized that right in front of me were all the answers to any questions we might have on Earth. I got very excited about this and I tried to locate the place about which I wanted to tell our scientists on Earth that they should come and see this extraordinary place. I tried to pinpoint this place by looking at the left side of the moon and counting the little bright stars. However, in doing so I realized that they were not stars but in turn little moons. Again, I was looking at the left side of the moon and the more I was looking the more little moons were coming up in a straight line, one little moon after the other. There was no hope of locating this place. Then I began to feel cold and I was shivering. I remembered the sun of our world, its warmth that sometimes may have been too hot but, overall, it was life-giving warmth. I desperately wanted to return to the bright, living sun. Only then did I realize that I was looking at the moon with my left eye while my right eye was closed. I wanted to open my right eye to see the sun again but I was not able to. I wanted to leave the moon, which I was no longer interested in. I wanted to go back to the bright, living sun. I tried very hard but in vain, I even felt an extremely unpleasant pain in my head. All of a sudden, however, the moon with its black surroundings disappeared and I saw this incredible bright sun again.  - Guenter Wagner,

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Why Teal Swan is a Medieval Rabbi

So Rudolf Steiner wrote a series of books called Karmic Relationships, and it describes just that: how our relationships in the world are structured and marked by our “karma,” the effect of our past lives on the present one. Of course, I’m a Mormon, and I’m not supposed to believe in past lives. But the way Steiner describes these “karmic relationships” is so gosh darn interesting, revelatory, and fun that it tempts me more than a bit.

For instance, he tells us that Karl Marx was a Frankish warlord in his past life. He governed an estate, but regularly left it to go pillage other estates. But eventually it went badly, and when he came home, he found that someone else had usurped his estate and forced him to be a serf on what he formerly owned. Marx and the usurper, who later became Engels, worked it out in the spiritual world that they’d come back and work our their karma in a beneficial way. Hence the “specter of communism.”

This is fun, yeah? It makes sense more than a bit. I’m in a class about Marx right now (which is why I’m thinking about it), and Marx’s writing reminds me of warriorhood more than a bit. Every verb he uses is combative. It’s all about slavery and domination, and he never uses peaceful language even when he describes peaceful things. This isn’t necessarily an evil thing; it’s just the character of a warlord.

And that’s always how you find out someone’s “karma.” You don’t look at their big achievements or their career; you look at little things like the way they move their hands or the way they hold their pencil. You take those idiosyncrasies and sort of “squint your eyes,” using the eyes of an artist to elaborate those gestures and oddities into a living picture. That living picture, for Steiner, is the person’s “past life,” the character of the life that brought about this one as a way to fulfill its “karmic deficits.”

Like I said, I’m a Mormon. I’m not supposed to believe in reincarnation. But the idea of taking a person’s gestures and elaborating another person out of them is something that’s super interesting to me. I don’t necessarily think that you discover a person’s past life when you do this. Instead, you discover a life that is very bound up in that person’s “I.” And this makes sense to me: in the spiritual world, nothing is distinct and everything comes together by virtue of a shared “inner state” or common focus. You are a focus like this. You existed pre-existently, sure, but that pre-existence was certainly informed and inextricably tied up with lives that have already gone before. And that’s another thing: it’s not obvious how things are going on down there on earth when you’re in the spiritual world. You have to learn (though only in a sense) from people who have recently died to see how things work in the physical world. So you could imagine that Frankish Warlord dude coming up to the spiritual world meets pre-existent Karl Marx, which is always a kind of mind-meld, in a way that leads him to say “Gee! People can oppress other people like that? That’s so evil! I’m gonna fix it.” And this being a kind of mind-meld, it’s also Frankish Warlord Dude who is saying this, though it is only Marx proper who incarnates. He just has soul character from the Frankish Warlord by a kind of reciprocal sharing of identity.

So I want to do this! Will you stay with me if, for the rest of this post, I figure out a famous person’s “past life?” If you saw the title of this post, you’ll know who I’m going to pick: YouTube spiritual teacher Teal Swan, with whom I have a love-hate relationship.

Teal Swan is brilliant. There’s no getting around it. She knows the ins and outs of dialectic and the way opposites co-implicate each other. She moves in and out of logical arguments without getting too stuck. She tests you and pokes you by saying surprising and provocative things. But! In all this, you can see the character of someone who is very tied to the idea of being the person you are. She’s all about authenticity, self-love, self-help, etc. She speaks of “mergers” with others, but it is always in a way that is focused on the “self” being merged with. She always moves toward (a) self, never away from selfhood entirely. This is not a bad thing per se, but it does have consequences.

For instance, she sees no value in humility. In one of her videos, she describes how humility is merely the way society beats down someone and prevents them from being their authentic self. As such, it’s not surprising that she hates both Mormonism and Islam. She doesn’t seem to know the joy that comes from completely emptying yourself and, while in that self-emptied state, being filled with something bigger and brighter that is, nevertheless, not you. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” says Paul, which Teal Swan would never dream of saying.

For Teal Swan is fundamentally non-Christian. She is focused on self, and while selves can merge and blend with each other in a way that makes being together possible, she does not grasp the value of a self-emptying that leads to being filled. This is the Christian impulse: you’re meek, and you inherit the earth; you die, and you’re resurrected. For Teal Swan, death doesn’t exist; it’s always life upon life upon life. She’s always pushing, but always at the expense of receptivity. Meekness, humility, and grace are entirely foreign words for her.

So if we look at a video of Teal, I want you to notice not what she’s saying but how she says it.

See that her eyes often are compassionate; she does want to help; she loves. And yet her facial expressions are firm, focused, direct. She often shows anger. And yet above it all, she is very playful in an ungrounded, airy way. When she’s excited, she often talks very quickly; when she’s most herself, she is flippant, provocative, and at home in her own skin in a way that’s a delight to watch.

So Teal Swan’s character is compassionate yet combative, ungrounded yet fierce. That character is non-Christian, and it is focused entirely on the idea of fullness in a way that excludes emptiness. And we find that type of person in a very specific place that may be surprising: religious Judaism.

Teal Swan was a Rabbi in one of her “past lives.” This Rabbi is caring and devoted to God and to others, even to God in others, but resents the idea of God becoming abject and common in Jesus Christ. God isn’t lowly; he’s grand, full of life, forceful! He will send his Messiah, and it won’t be some common rabble like Jesus of Nazareth but instead someone who will save the world from those hypocritical, self-abnegating Christians! This Rabbi, as Rabbis can tend to do, considers arguing about spiritual things an almost religious act. He looks forward to giving arguments and counterpoints about various points in the Torah. Above all, he is completely content in himself. Life is good; he don’t need no Jesus.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Review: Transforming the Soul: Vol. 1

Transforming the Soul: Vol. 1 Transforming the Soul: Vol. 1 by Rudolf Steiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The soul has three members in Rudolf Steiner's system: the lowest is the sentient soul, the bearer of our passions and desires; the next highest is the intellectual soul, what lets us be rational; and the highest is the consciousness soul, where the I grasps itself.

Each of these members is transformed by the I in its own way.

The sentient soul - the bearer of our passions, whims, and lusts - is transformed through anger. While anger bears the mark of egoism, it is only by going through the temptation to egoism that we can overcome it. If you are never angry or if you suppress anger, you are not selfless. Instead, you have not even reached the selfishness you must overcome. Without it, you are indifferent, complacent, and lack substance.

The intellectual soul is transformed through truth. Truth isn't an abstraction; it's what sets the soul free from itself. The soul is riddled with its own biases, prejudices, and opinions, but these lock it up inside itself. One must learn to love truth, and then you are set free into the wider world that all of us have in common. Still, the only truth that is really effective here is dynamic truth, truth alive with hidden activity, truth that works on you with more than meets the eye. Otherwise, truth is static and abstract. This dynamic truth is represented by Prometheus, who gives the soul the fire of higher worlds. But if you only receive that static, abstract truth, you're like Pandora: since your truth isn't active, it has no part in shaping the future; all that's left is to hope that it will turn out well. This static "reflective" truth is like somebody who wants to help in soccer by standing back and calculating what the best move would be. It doesn't have its head in the game.

The consciousness soul is transformed through reverence. In reverence, the soul comes to love the unknown, what lies beyond the known. However, it is very easy to lose yourself when you do this. So thought has to follow this loving devotion into the unknown, though the devotion comes first. Otherwise, you're basically sleepwalking. Moreover, while humankind has reverence toward God, God's reverence toward humankind is the might he gives to us. If we give reverence to him, he gives might to us. The element that is reverent is the "eternal feminine." The element that animates the reverence with the consciousness that keeps us from mere sleepwalking is the "eternal masculine."

View all my reviews

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Use and Abuse of the Law of Attraction

In the coming years many ways of working with the symbolic world will become known to us. This is part of the knowledge of the coming era that is gradually being made accessible. We will have the opportunity to make our own relationship with our symbolic nature, discover its ways and allow it to teach us how to work with its energies. We will learn how to reestablish a symbolic consciousness through which all of life is an interaction with the divine, a meeting of the inner and outer worlds. What is important is the attitude we bring to this work, that we are in service to the whole rather than following our ego and imposing its desires. Working with the inner world requires listening, patience, and receptivity. One must allow the inner to communicate in its own way: watch, listen, and be responsive to the feelings that are evoked. This is the ancient wisdom of the feminine, which has been so repressed. Part of this deep wisdom is also respect. In previous eras it was understood that through our symbolic consciousness we are given access to the world of the gods.The gods should be approached with respect. We also need to bring an attitude of humility, because we are encountering a world as ancient as the universe which contains the wisdom of the ages. Interacting with the inner world, we are the ones who need guidance and help. The ego should not try to determine the outcome of such a meeting. Indeed there is a particular danger for those who approach the inner world without the “wisdom of humility.” Carl Jung called this “inflation,” when the ego identifies with the energy of the inner. It is easy for the ego to think that it is all-powerful, that it is a magician. The story of Doctor Faustus tells of the danger of using magic for the power purposes of the ego. The inner world is a source of unlimited energy and power. The ego can become attracted by this and try to use it for its own purposes. Entering the inner world, we are exploring a new dimension, and there is the potential for the wondrous and unexpected. But for this encounter to be fruitful, the right attitude is necessary. If one meets a unicorn one should not try to cut off its horn for its magical properties, but rather greet the wondrous animal with respect. Many fairy tales stress that the attitude with which we approach the figures of the inner world determines their response. The stepdaughter who greets the gnomes with kindness is rewarded with magical gifts, while the daughter who seeks these figures for greed receives a curse. In previous ages it was only the initiates who were allowed direct access to the inner worlds. Part of their training was a process of purification and testing to determine whether they had the correct attitude. The elders knew the dangers—not just to the individual but to the whole community—of interacting with the inner worlds with the wrong attitude. If we are to reclaim our relationship to the inner, to learn to live our magical nature, we need to take full responsibility for our attitude and our actions in the outer and inner worlds. What is not generally known is that many places in the inner world are as polluted as the outer world. Our lack of respect for the inner has corrupted its magical realms. Every time we access the inner with a desire to get something for ourself, we desecrate it. Like the base camps of Mt. Everest, now littered with the refuse of hundreds of expeditions, our quest for a spiritual “high” has polluted the inner realms. Decades of this desecration, culminating in recent new-age practices that seem to encourage visiting the inner for the sake of one’s own personal knowledge or gains, has left the inner worlds crowded with the garbage of spiritual materialism. The dense wasteland of debris created by our own egos inhibits light and energy from flowing to the outer where it can bring nourishment and meaning into life. Forces that should flow outward turn back on themselves, contributing to the darkness and negativity of both worlds. The shamans, who were trained to keep the inner dimensions clean, have mostly disappeared. Now the only way to help clear out some of this pollution and open pathways between the inner and the outer is to approach the inner worlds with deep respect and humility, in service to the whole, wanting nothing for ourself. - Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Spiritual Power

Now the basic principle of all white magic is that no power can be gained without selfless devotion. When through such devotion power is gained, it flows from the common life force of the universe. If however we take its life-energy from some particular being, we steal this life-energy. Because it belonged to a separate being it densifies and strengthens the element of separateness in the person who has appropriated it, and this intensification of separateness makes him suited to becoming the pupil of those who are engaged in conflict with the good powers. For our earth is a battlefield; it is the scene of two opposing powers: right and left. The one, the white power on the right, after the earth has reached a certain degree of material, physical density, strives to spiritualise it once again. The other power, the left or black power, strives to make the earth ever denser and denser, like the moon. Thus, after a period of time, the earth could become the physical expression for the good powers, or the physical expression for the evil. It becomes the physical expression for the good powers through man uniting himself with the spirits working for unification, in that he seeks the ego in the community. It belongs to the function of the earth to differentiate itself physically to an ever greater degree. Now it is possible for the separate parts to go their own way, for each part to form an ego. This is the black path. The white path is the one which strives for what is common, which forms an ego in community. Were we to burrow more and more deeply into ourselves, to sink ourselves into our own ego organisation, to desire always more and more for ourselves, the final result would be that we should strive to separate ourselves from one another. If on the other hand we draw closer, so that a common spirit inspires us, so that a centre is formed between us, in our midst, then we are drawn together, then we are united. To be a black magician means to develop more and more the spirit of separateness. There are black adepts who are on the way to acquire certain forces of the earth for themselves. Were the circle of their pupils to become so strong that this should prove possible, then the earth would be on the path leading to destruction.  - Rudolf Steiner, Foundations of Esotericism

“Let me explain. The happiest man on earth would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is. Does that help?” Harry thought. Then he said slowly, “It shows us what we want . . . whatever we want . . .” “Yes and no,” said Dumbledore quietly. “It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts. You, who have never known your family, see them standing around you. Ronald Weasley, who has always been overshadowed by his brothers, sees himself standing alone, the best of all of them. However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible....It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that - J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

“He is with me wherever I go,” said Quirrell quietly. “I met him when I traveled around the world. A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it. . . . Since then, I have served him faithfully, although I have let him down many times. He has had to be very hard on me.” Quirrell shivered suddenly. “He does not forgive mistakes easily. ..." J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign . . . to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin. Quirrell, full of hatred, greed, and ambition, sharing his soul with Voldemort, could not touch you for this reason. It was agony to touch a person marked by something so good.” -  J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

The case herein is this. With him who does good from the heart, there inflows from heaven on every side, good into the heart and soul of him who does it, and by inspiring inspires it; and then at the same time the affection of love for the neighbor to whom he does good is increased, and with this affection a delight which is heavenly and unutterable. The cause of this is that in heaven the good of love from the Lord reigns universally, and constantly flows in according to the degree in which it is practiced toward another. The case is similar in respect to evil. With him who from the heart does evil to another, there inflows from hell on every side evil into the heart of him who does it, and by exciting excites it; and then at the same time the affection of the love of self is increased, and with it the delight of hatred and revenge against those who do not submit themselves. The cause of this is that in hell the evil of the love of self reigns universally, and constantly flows in according to the degree in which it is practiced toward another. When this occurs, the punishers are at once present, who ill-treat the offender; and thereby the evil with its delight is restrained. - Emanuel Swedenborg, Arcana Coelestia 9049

THAT IT IS MAGICAL TO WILL TO MAKE ONE'S SELF GOOD FROM AN EVIL END. To will to become good, nay, to make one's self good, when good is intended, this is good, though it is not known that it is from the Lord; for thus there is received a celestial proprium. But those who wish to make themselves good for an evil end, as of ruling others, of destroying others, and so forth, to these it is magical; the former is from heaven, the latter from hell. A certain one given to magic willed to become good from himself; he hit upon the plan of drawing to himself certain good spirits, and of having them about himself, that they might make him good; but this was turned into hell to him, for his end was to do evil by that means, thus to do what was yet more magical. He was then depressed yet lower, [to a place] whence he could not elevate himself. Hence it is manifest that such a thing is magical; I spoke concerning it that such is its character. - Emanuel Swedenborg, Spiritual Diary 4414

Why Spiritual Life is Fast

Our prayers and spiritual aspirations call down the grace that creates a container of protection on the inner planes to help us do our work in the world safely. But protection is also given through the dynamic of speed. On the spiritual path the wayfarer is “speeded up.” Darkness is denser than light; greed is slower than love. Selfless service moves at a quicker vibration than patterns of desire. The Self is much faster than the ego. The speed of our devotion protects us from the slower energies of ego-desires because these denser energies do not stick to us. We are not so easily caught in their negative patterns. If something is spinning at a certain speed it throws off negative or denser thought-forms, emotions, or other energies that might stick to it. The speed of our inner vibration creates a vortex of light and love that in itself protects us. This vortex is always around us, and it increases when our devotion is more focused, when our heart is more full of longing. Speed allows us to avoid many of the pitfalls that surround us: we are moving too fast to be drawn into their negative vortex. Speed also enables us to change directions more quickly when we encounter situations or energy patterns that could distract or damage us. It enables us to be more flexible and less rigid, less identified with any pattern or form. Through an awareness of life as a dynamic flow of energy, we can see the importance of speed: how it can enable us to move from situation to situation more quickly and be more fluid in our response to any change. The energy patterns of life are continually changing, and the quicker we are able to respond to their changes the more dynamically we can participate in life. Through our inner effort and the practices of the path, we can free ourself of many of the burdens that slow us down: the unnecessary possessions that cling to us, the attachments that sap our energy. Most people are unaware of how their accumulation of possessions burdens them inwardly, draining their energy. Unused or unnecessary possessions are a particular burden; they are like a dead weight. The physical plane is the most dense and slow-moving, and if our attention is focused on this plane by too many possessions, we become inwardly constricted. Our attachments always draw our energy. - Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Working with Oneness

But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it, for on the day that you eat of it you will surely die. Taken with those that precede them, these words mean that it is allowable, by means of every perception obtained from the Lord, for anyone to discover what truth and good are, but it is not allowable to do so from self and the world, that is, to probe into mysteries of faith by means of sensory evidence and factual knowledge. If he does the celestial in him dies. - Emanuel Swedenborg, Arcana Coelestia 126

The Lord is seen as a Sun, not in heaven, but high above the heavens, and not directly overhead or in the zenith but before the faces of the angels at a middle height. - Emanuel Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell 118

In the spiritual world everything is in continuous, mobile activity, ceaselessly creating. A state of rest, a remaining in one place, as in the physical world, do not exist here. - Rudolf Steiner, Theosophy

Some people will say “slow down and smell the roses.” This idea is true, but it is only a half truth. In fact, it’s probably only a quarter truth. The reality is that, if you want to smell the roses, you can maybe best do it by speeding up. For the smell of the roses is too quick, too high of a vibration, to ever appreciate with the everyday speed of day-to-day thought. For reality is fast. That is, spirit is fast. The more you slow down, the more spirit passes you by. Speed is divinity itself. Motion is what keeps reality alive, full of the bright energy that makes it life. If it were to stop moving, it would die just as surely as a plane would crash if it slowed down too much.

By speeding up, we come to appreciate the reality that, in reality, nothing faces backward. In the bright center of everything’s spirit, everything faces forward, and even when two beings face each other there (in this brightness), they both face the common center. They never hesitate, never check, never even reflect. If they do think, itis thinking as an activity, not as a double take. There are only single takes in heaven. For without this factor, everything devolves into a paranoid “checking” to see if saw or thought before actually is true. “Did I really see that?” “Am I sure?” “Could I have been mistaken?” These questions are entirely fruitless. What is is. All things go. If learning and correction happen, they happen by an adjustment in forward movement, not by a complete U-turn. In this forward world of spirit, everything is activity. Everything is circular. Nothing is at rest, and yet there is never unrest. It is complete reset in motion; stillness in perpetual activity. It is quite circular.

You can experience this state if, when thinking, you never pause to “check” what you’re thinking. “Did I really think that?” “Am I sure?” “Better look at that mental image to see what I’m thinking!” No! You always think what you think. You never don’t think what you think. When you realize this, you close the gap between your thoughts and your consciousness of those thoughts. Your awareness can be of the thought process itself, not of the mirror that needs to reflect it. Consciousness becomes pure activity, pure thought. This pure activity, this speed, work in a forward, gyrating movement in everything you see. Every bit of matter, every pair of eyes, every tree, every piece of lint is a pure vortex of spiritual activity that never pauses to ask “what am I?” It knows because it is; it is because it knows. When you too reach the coincide-ence of being and knowing, you can become one with the chair, the table, the plant just by looking at it. Your gyrations run together. You don’t need to turn back; there is only a perpetual motion forward to the center that all things circle around.

This forward movement is the reality of all things. It is energy; it is relationship; it is love. It is what moves without stopping; what becomes without ever being; what is relation without ever being related to. All there “is” is the “is,” the pure reality of “is-ness,” the perpetual motion that belongs to no thing but weaves between things, making relationship itself possible. Indeed, relationship “is” the reality of spirit. Every “thing” slows it down. As such, it is rather lonely. In this perpetual forward movement, there is oneness, but there is hardly the togetherness that comes when we face each other. There is no touch. Touch comes from stillness and density. Touch is the sign of form, of two beings meeting each other as concrete tokens of what they are. At this point, instead of dwelling within the endless movement of pure spirit, they are now static, fixed, still. But this is very necessary. Without it, we would be caught In the circle, going around and around, forever, never standing, only ever flying. You can have an inkling of what this is like if you’ve ever been desperate to wake up from a dream. You seem to wake up and find yourself in yet another dream. You silently wonder if the solidity of reality is just something you imagined. To finally wake up is to say “Ahh. Here I am, standing, solid, firm, secure. I am whole.” This “woke” security is the purpose of physical life. Without it, we would dissolve in the circular hurricane of spirit. With it, we can dip our toes into stillness and rejuvenate our exhausted souls.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Everyday Bodies of Spiritual Beings

Naturally you have a certain practice in order to distinguish dream images from reality and to observe this distinction precisely. But then you come to the point of recognizing that something is there around which everything else is gathering. Normally (I am trying to speak precisely) the situation is that this one thing in the middle of all others can appear in a certain sense paradoxical, even absurd. This situation is that something remarkable, something very strange, appears in a sequence of images of this sort - which is otherwise so beautiful, so magnificent, so powerful. - Rudolf Steiner, Inner Reading and Inner Hearing
Suppose a patient has an unusual dream of being threatened by, say, the waves of the sea, or a lion, but on the outside only complains about the boringness of life and having a headache. You can say that the unconscious has announced an archetypal emotional constellation, an X, but one could not yet say that it has been constellated on the outside. You make a mental note and the analysis goes on for three-quarters of an hour, but all the time you have the feeling that the tremendous drive, the libido of the lion, has not yet been constellated in outer life. Then one day a charming man turns up and asks the woman to go out and have an aperitif with him; the husband makes no objection and they have a very nice time. The headache gets better, the husband dreams about a traffic accident, she dreams of burglars, and now the thing is constellated! One always knew t hat she was looking out the window for an adventure, something wanted to create heat, a conflict and adventure and life. I would say that the problem of the lion, or of the waves of the sea, hitherto latent, becomes constellated. To understand the dream six months beforehand would be to know the germs. A bit of the biography of the woman is now constellated. When she had the dream, it was ahead of her and far away, but when the earthquake comes it is actually constellated. - Marie Louise Von Franz, The Feminine in Fairy Tales
Applying an Agatha Christie approach, the person would look at the [synchronistic] event as a potential meaningful coincidence, asking “Is it ‘commenting’ on an inner situation? Is it a metaphor for something going on in my life? If we accept the idea of synchronicity, every unusual event invites us to pause and reflect on it. This attitude of seeking the possible meaning or potential significance can be applied both in ordinary life and in psychotherapy, to dreams and to synchronistic events. Both are events in which t he collective unconscious is manifested in symbolic language. People often overlook or forget them and first need to notice and remember such events and dreams. Then they can consider the potential meanings by thinking about the symbolic elements and by wondering whether these elements seem analogous to anything currently important or troublesome. - Jean Shinoda Bolen, The Tao of Psychology: Synchronicity and the Self

In a dream I had a few days ago, I had a cool intuition. I wrote it down afterward, but like most thoughts I have while I’m still “dreamy,” it is otherworldly enough that I’ll need to explain it:

There are centers of activity moving through accidents of space and time, for which the accidents of space and time are either more or less relevant depending on the intentionality of those centers of activity. The correct way to speak to spiritual beings is in the way you read a face: some things are directly indicative of the affection, and some things are indicative only insofar as they are the periphery of the direct indications. It would be a mistake to see all parts as equally indicative. The difference between the parts is based on the intentionality of the centers of activity.

When you look at someone’s face and discern their emotions, you don’t do it by looking at their ears. You do it by looking at their eyes. The eyes are the most direct indication of a person’s inner nature, and any other part of the body is only an indication in a more peripheral sense. Talking to someone, you look at them in the eye, and if you notice their mouth, you only notice it in a secondary sense. The hands are also very directly relevant in the way. In short, some parts of the body manifest a person’s inner nature much more directly than other parts.

Notice that I use the phrase “inner nature.” This is what I meant in the above quote by a “center of activity.” For a person, there is one center of activity that manifests in the whole body. However, imagine (if you can) that there were many such “centers” of activity that showed in the body. That is, what if the hands said something different from the eyes? This is that nature of the relationship between the spiritual and physical worlds.

The world is a body for spiritual beings. Like the eyes are for you, there are places in the world that are a more direct manifestation of a spiritual being than anywhere else. And just as the periphery of the eyes show your inner nature in a more peripheral sense, the “periphery” of these places manifest those spiritual beings in a less direct sense.

I mean this very literally. Have you ever seen 11:11 on a clock, repeatedly, perhaps every day for a while? This is a classic sign that a spiritual being is present. It is a manifestation of that spiritual being in the world. However, this example is fairly weak. A more profound example comes from my friend, whose story I hope he won’t mind me telling. He hears, over and over, and in the most bizarre circumstances, the word “Ozymandias.” It became a sign to him, a message that catches his attention over and over. Once he was sitting in a movie theater, thinking “I haven’t heard the word Ozymandias for a while,” when, suddenly, a character in the movie started reciting Percy Shelley’s poem that goes “I am Ozymandias, king of kings…” This is an example of a spiritual being manifesting as a single “center of activity.” The word “Ozymandias” is his “eyes.”

But this doesn’t need to be so theatrical. If Swedenborg is right when he says that this world is a “theater representative” of the spiritual world, we should be able to read the world like a spiritual detective novel, picking up on clues to discern the actors in a given situation. Notice themes in your life. Do certain moments tend to have similar characteristics? Are there repeating patterns? This can even go so far as noticing that you attract the same type of person in relationships.

Finally, if you really want to see this in action, see it while you’re dreaming. Dreams show this vividly and without hiding it. Everything in a dream is merely a “face” for the centers of activity moving through it. When you learn to “read” the dream this way, it’s no longer a chaotic mass of images. It’s a conversation between spiritual beings.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Review: The Nonexistent Knight (And Autism)

The Nonexistent Knight & The Cloven Viscount The Nonexistent Knight & The Cloven Viscount by Italo Calvino
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As someone with autism, I can say that the character Gurduloo from the Non-Existent Knight is a perfect metaphor for what it's like to have autism. You first see Gurduloo pretending to be a duck as a group of soldiers walk past, but immediately afterward, Gurduloo pretends to be an acorn. Gurduloo has no self-concept: he is whatever he happens to see. If he's with ducks, he's a duck. If he's with acorns, he's an acorn. If he's drinking soup, "all is soup."

Autism is a lack of self-concept like this. We don't extricate ourselves from the world and the things in it, so we assume that everything in it is a part of us, and that we are a part of everything. See this in how autistic people get "lost in" obsessions and how they tend not to like change. For if you're identified with whatever you're doing, to switch tasks would, literally, be death. Moreover, like Gurduloo does, you can lose track of who's supposed to say what, or even who is who, is a conversation. Gurduloo says this to Charlemagne, for instance:

“I touch my nose with the earth. I fall to my feet at your knees. I declare myself an august servant of your most humble majesty. Order and I will obey myself!” He brandished a spoon tied to his belt “And when your majesty says, ‘I order command and desire,’ and do this with your scepter, as I do, with this, d’you see? And when you shout as I shout, ‘I orderrr commanddd and desirrrre!’ you subjects must all obey me or I’ll have you strung up, you first there with that beard and silly old face.”

People with autism are identified with whatever they're doing. This has a good side and a bad side. It's good because there is an ecstasy that comes from completely losing yourself in your surroundings, as the Knights of the Grail show in this book (and the late autistic author Donna Williams shows in her book "Autism and Sensing: The Unlost Instinct"), but it's bad because we therefore end up being "prisoner of the world's stuff." We are beneath everything. So sometimes we try to have a distinct identity, and often (though hopefully not always, it tends to be devoid of the life we otherwise completely lose ourselves in. So we are either like Gurduloo, who exists but doesn't think he does, or like the Non-Existent Knight, an empty suit of armor that fights in battles, who doesn't exsit but thinks he does. The first is the stereotypical low-functioning autistic person. The second is the Big-Bang-Theory Asperger type.

Existence is nice, but so is non-existence.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Why Scripture is Powerful

But the book shall be delivered unto a man, and he shall deliver the words of the book, which are the words of those who have slumbered in the dust, and he shall deliver these words unto another; But the words which are sealed he shall not deliver, neither shall he deliver the book. For the book shall be sealed by the power of God, and the revelation which was sealed shall be kept in the book until the own due time of the Lord, that they may come forth; for behold, they reveal all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof. And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth. - 2 Nephi 27:9-11
Some departed prophet and seer of your own island has left, tattooed round the circumference of your flesh, a spiraling revelation, a promise of forgiveness, a complete theory of repentance, a mystical treatise on the art of attaining truth, a riddle in your own proper person to unfold, a messianic text inscribed in your flesh. This prophet came and went long before you arrived.The tattoos are meant for you; they are a kind of story of your life inscribed within your life, but—here’s the trick—you're going to have to die young in order to read them. Order your coffin, lay the length of it and let your life end, die to this world, and then remember that you've forgotten to wash a dish or kiss your wife or sweep the porch or read to your child.Then leap from your coffin and return in earnest to the work of washing and kissing and sweeping and reading, sure and fearless in the time that remains. - Adam S. Miller, Early-Onset Postmortality
Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost? Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. - 2 Nephi 32:2-3
When you read scripture, you're reading the thoughts of God.  That is, you're reading the thoughts of people who - because they were close to God - were able to say that (at certain moments) His thoughts were their thoughts. By writing these thoughts down, they channeled divine light into a fixed form that, instead of dulling it, gives it the unique quality that makes that work of scripture needed. Works of scripture are different because people are different.

And yes, that does mean that people outside the Church can write scripture. The Bhagavad Gita is a very powerful divine work in this way. So is, funnily enough, Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson. The Qur'an goes without saying. These differ from each other in what they teach. However, both Swedenborg and Steiner say that thoughts do not remain after death. What makes Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity distinct disappears in the other life, though that does not mean that Muslims stop being Muslims or Christians stop being Christians. To use a metaphor: the cakes have been made, so we no longer need the molds that made them differently shaped. But though they may have a different "timbre," the brightness in each is the same.

This brightness is divinity itself. As such, it is your divine nature. Ever wonder why, when reading the Book of Mormon, you can learn about your own life in a way you can't elsewhere? It's because your divine nature, your heart of hearts, is laid up for you in the book. It is the "sealed portion" to come forth. It's what "retains its brightness."

As such, when you read scripture, you become aware of the spiritual center of your being. Moreover, you become aware of the spiritual center of the world's being. By receiving the brightness of God,  you start to see things from His perspective. You wake up from the sleep of the natural man and, like a contagion, spread that wakefulness to everything else that has forgotten its divine nature.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

On Photisms

As a general rule, the capacity to perceive suprasensory lights is proportionate to the degree of polishing, chiefly the work of the dhikr [devotional meditation in Islam], which brings the heart to the state of perfect mirror. In the beginning these lights are manifested as ephemeral flashes. The more perfect the transparency (the "specularity") of the mirror, the more they grow, the longer they last, the more diverse they become, until they manifest the form of heavenly entities. - Henry Corbin, The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism

A flame appeared to me so often and, indeed, in different sizes with a diversity of color and splendor, that during some months when I was writing a certain work, hardly a day passed in which a flame did not appear, as vividly as the flame of a household hearth. It was then a sign of approval, and this was prior to the time when spirits began to speak with me viva voce. - Emanuel Swedenborg, The Word Explained

The person who meditates intensely, seeking inner guidance, may find a signal system to guide him. When what he is thinking meets inward approval, the person may suddenly see a flash of light. The light may vary from a pinpoint to a large area, but it is characteristically bright. One normal individual of my acquaintance sees a bright pale-blue light signaling a correct thought and a black spot signaling a wrong one. Some saints report similar experiences. - Wilson Van Dusen, The Presence of Other Worlds

Friday, August 18, 2017

Why Sexual Liberalism is Sexual Literalism

The inescapable paradox of fire - of alchemy, of psyche, of intelligent living - consists in this double commandment: Thou shalt not repress / Thou shalt not act out. … Do not act out; do not hold in. A paradox. And a double negative that suggests a via negativa, a de-literalizing cancellation of both commandments. A mercurial escape form the exhausting oscillation between them. Instead of holding in or acting out, act in. Cook in the rotundum as one vessel was called, referring to both the container and to the roundness of the skull. Hold the heat inside the head by warming the mind's reveries. Imagine, project, fantasize, think. - James Hillman, Rudiments, in Alchemical Psychology

If one works with feeling-images it may well become apparent that one has entered a new realm of time that is little understood. A single dramatic theme can stand in the background of one's life for a whole lifetime, awaiting expression. The critical childhood traumas that psychoanalysis used to find are examples of this. In a similar way, individuals may have whole set of values in the background, waiting for expression. In subtle and little-understood ways these background propensities affect choice and behavior. These timeless propensities can wait forever, or come forth and change in short order. It is as if they can change only by coming through one's life. If the background tendency implies suicide, weird perversions, etc., we are inclined to keep them from expression. Yet when lived out in fantasy, they can change in a few moments. One woman was afraid she was homosexual because she wanted to look at women's figures. I suggested that she look all she wanted in fantasy. The inner wish to look went from legs to breast to her being cuddled like an infant by an older woman. She had been raised without a mother and really wanted to experience being mothered. The real meaning and drift of the inner cannot be understood until it is lived out in some way. Fantasy is safe. In it one can slay thousands, die, and be born again all in the space of a few minutes. The inner is permanent and timeless when unlived. When lived out it advances the individual through acts of a very well-conceived drama. The greatness of the inner plot may be apparent only when looking back on a lifetime of experience. - Wilson Van Dusen, The Natural Depth of Man

Mars insists we honor desire. Mars would say that pornography is a distorted expression of a perfectly pure desire for eros and exoticism. Let’s cook it back and give it fresh expression. Whenever we confront anything negative in our personal lives or the larger social world, we ask, “What did this want to be before it became toxic due to being suppressed? - Caroline Casey, Making the Gods Work for You

Emotional compulsion is often regarded negatively as a failure of control or a sign of irrationality. We might see it rather as the soul yearning for expression and tying to thrust itself into life. Sexual compulsion may show us where and to what extent we have neglected this particular need. Compulsion asks for a response from us, but we might be careful lest we simply react to the felt need. Some respond by advocating "free love," as though the best way to deal with the compulsion were to give in to it literally. This is the way of compensation, which doesn't solved the problem but only places us at the other end of it. The soulful way is to bring imagination to sex, so that by fulfilling the need at a deep level, the compulsion is brought to term.
We may try to keep the power of sex at bay through many clever maneuvers. Our moralism, for example, helps keep us clean of the mess sex can make of an otherwise ordered life. Sex education tries to teach us to avoid "venereal diseases" - the pathologies of Venus - by placing sex under the strong, white, Apollonic light of science. Yet in spite of all our efforts, sexual compulsion interferes with marriages, draws people into strange liaisons, and continues to offend propriety, morality, and religion. Its dynamic is too big to fit into the cages we make for it.
We are in a difficult position in relation to sex: we believe it's important to have a "healthy" sex life, at least within marriage, and yet we also believe that the tendency of sex to spread easily into unwanted areas - pornography, homosexuality, extramarital affairs - is a sign of cultural decadence or moral and religious breakdown. We want sex to be robust, but not too robust.
The man and woman standing in front of Priapus represents two common responses to sex: humor and anxiety. Sex is exceedingly human - bodily, passionate, often satisfyingly improper. Some theories of humor suggest that sex often provides material for humor precisely because it liberates us form the burden of propriety and the repression of passion. Sex also offers the rare gift of deeply felt, unreasoned joy, and laughter can sometimes be the expression of pure joy. On the other hand, perhaps because it is difficult to contain and mold into stable forms, sex can also bring with it considerable anxiety. Sometimes we laugh as a way of reassuring ourselves in the face of anxiety. It is the very potency of sex that suggests it is one of the most significant springs of soulfulness in modern life. - Thomas Moore, Soul Mates

When our sexual thoughts excite us toward new liaisons and new experiences, we may consider honoring these thoughts not by establishing new interpersonal relationships, but by being in life more sexually. A person can live erotically every minute of the day by valuing deep pleasures, beauty, body, adornment, decoration, texture, and color - all things we too often consider secondary or even frivolous. But to an Aphroditic sensibility, they are of primary importance and deserve our sincere attention. - Thomas Moore, Soul Mates

As a rule of thumb, it can be said that what we yearn for sexually is a symbolic representation of what we need in order to become whole. This means that sexual fantasies symbolically complement ego consciousness in a way that points us toward wholeness. Understanding the symbolic meaning of our sexual fantasies enables us to become less compulsive regarding them, that is, instead of being driven and possessed by them, our range of consciousness can be expanded by them.
The most frequent example of how a sexual yearning represents what is needed to bring us wholeness is the sexual desire of a man for a woman, and of a woman for a man. Images of a woman appear in a man's sexual fantasies because she represents his missing half, the other side of his personality to which he needs to relate if he is to be complete, and vice versa with a woman. Of course this is not to say that this is all that sexual yearning means. There is always the desire for physical release of tension, for the meeting of body with body, and for the closeness and intimacy with another person that sexuality achieves and expresses. But it is to say that in addition to these aspects of sexuality there is also a spiritual or psychological meaning.
Sexual fantasies are usually complex. We do not simply yearn for a woman or for a man, but have fantasies about the object of our desire in a particular way. There may be all kinds of romantic stories that accompany our desires, or there may be fantasies of seduction or rape. The possibilities of sexual fantasies are innumerable, and it is quite natural for people to have highly colorful sexual fantasies. If the content of these fantasies becomes too unusual, we call them "perversions," but it is too bad if this leads us to dismiss them out of hand; instead we need to understand why we have this particular sexual fantasy, that is, what the fantasy symbolically expresses.
Edward C. Whitmont, in his book The Symbolic Quest, gives us an example of how one man's unusual sexual fantasy represented symbolically exactly what changes he needed to undergo in order to become more whole. Whitmont's client came to him because he was incapable of having sexual intercourse with a woman until he had first kissed her feet. Naturally, this sexual fantasy was disturbing to him and he saw himself as perverted in some way. Analysis revealed that this man was unusually identified with his intellect and regarded himself as superior to women; accordingly he devalued the feminine side of himself and of life and cultivated an arrogant masculinity. In the act of kissing a woman's foot he had, symbolically, to Lowe his head. His sexual fantasies and desires thus forced the man to do symbolically what he had to accomplish psychologically in order ot become a more whole person: sacrifice the domination of his intellect, give up his masculine arrogance, and, as it were, worship what he had hitherto devalued. As long as he did not understand the meaning of his sexual fantasies, Whitmont's client was simply seized compulsively and driven to act them out. As he began to understand what his fantasies meant, and why he had them, he was led to a change of consciousness, and became both more free in his love making and more whole as a person. One could say that his sexual fantasy came to cure him of a maladaption of consciousness. The sexual fantasy was not an illness; he was one-sided and out of balance in his development and the sexual fantasy was produced by the unconscious to correct this.
Adol Guggenbuhl-Craig gives us another example. A student whom he once had as a client had gotten into trouble with the police because of a sexual compulsion to steal female underwear. One day, Guggenbuhl-Craig reports, his client came in to him triumphantly and read to him a passage from Goethe's poem Faust in which Faust meets the beautiful Helen: Faust, after a long search, finally meets this most beautiful feminine being in the world, only to have her disappear, leaving Faust standing there with her garment and veil in his hands. The young man concluded from this story that he was seized by a vision of the beauty of the eternal feminine image, which was symbolized by the feminine garment that so occupied his sexual thoughts. The object of his desire, ins short, was not woman as such but what woman symbolized to him: the eternal feminine with all of her majesty and numinosity. Like Faust, he had glimpsed somewhere a vision of this, but had been left with only the symbol of the garment in his hands. - John A. Sanford, The Invisible Partners

A special instance of sexual fantasy lie lies in the area of male homosexuality, and because homosexuality is so frequent among men these fantasies are worth some special comments.
To begin with, to refer to homosexuality as though it were a uniform phenomenon is misleading, for there are many expressions of male sexuality that we call homosexual that actually differ markedly. In general, we refer to homosexuality  whenever a man has a sexual erotic desire another male, or for the male organ. Yet such desires may take quite varied forms. Some men are exclusively homosexual and have intimate relationships only with other men. But others marry, have children, and develop a satisfactory heterosexual life, yet are overwhelmed from time to time with what appears to be a desire for a homosexual experience.
IN the latter case, we often find that a middle-aged or older man has fallen in love with a younger man who has the attributes of a young Adonis. The young man who receives the love of the older man seem to embody in himself both masculine and feminine virtues. Typically he has a strong, virile body, yet he also has certain feminine attributes and graces that give him a beautiful, youthful quality; he appears as a young David, an Antinous, or a young god, rather than as a one-sidedly masculine person. Such a youth receives the projection of the Self, the image of wholeness in the psyche of the older man. Most men, as we have seen, project their missing half, the feminine easement, onto a woman. The man then represents the masculine side, and the woman the feminine side, of the masculine-feminine totality. In the instance we are now considering, however, totality is represented in the young man, who seems to include both masculine and feminine in himself. The actual young man is himself not this complete person; he is simply the carrier of the projection of the androgynous soul of the older man. In fact, when the two people get to know each other as human beings, they may be keenly disappointed in each other.
So there are some men whose other side, which represents wholeness for them, is not represented by a woman, but by this figure of the androgynous, divine youth. Mary-Louise von Franz writes, "There is the same idea in Persian teaching which says that after death the noble man meets either a youth who looks exactly like himself, … or a girl of fifteen, … and if he asks the figure who it is, then it will say ' I am thy own self,'"
A good example of this kind of homoerotic desire is found in Thomas Mann's novelette Death in Venice. Author Mann says of the aging Aschenbach, who has fallen in love with the youthful Tadzio, "His eyes took in the proud bearing of that figure there in the blue water's edge; with an outburst of rapture he told himself that what he saw was beauty's very essence; form as divine thought, the single and pure perfection which resided in the mind, of which an image and likeness, rare and holy, was here raised up for adoration."
Such a projection of the Self onto a younger man is possible because the Self image is typically represented for a man as either an older man or a younger man, as Marie-Louise von Franz has pointed out in her book The Feminine in Fairy Tales. This helps us to understand the strong bond that sometimes springs up between a young man and an older man. For the young man, the Self is carried by the older man, who represent the positive father, power, and the authority of the Self. For the older man, the Self is carried by the youth, who represents son, eros, and the eternally youthful aspect of the Self. Because these projections are so numinous, and the longing for a relationship with the Self is so great, the bond between them readily becomes tinged with sexuality, and becomes what we think for as a homosexual relationship. Indeed, the relationship does tend to become sexual, but at its core there is a longing for wholeness, and energy for the relationship is supplied by the deep need each of the men has to integrate into himself what the other represents.
As we have seen, we tend to long sexually for whatever it is that we lack in our conscious development. In the case of the older man who longs for the younger man, we usually find a person who has been too connected to the senex archetype, that is, too rigid, too aging, too caught up in the drive for power, or too intellectual. So the longing is for Eros, for the puer or eternal youth, in short for the spirit, in the form of a symbolic figure that compensates for the man's conscious one-sidedness and offers to bring the ecstasy of totality.
In other types of homosexuality the object of sexual desire may not be another male as such, but a yearning for contact with the male organ. Again, this may occur in a man who is married, or who has an otherwise normal heterosexual life, into which this homoerotic yearning intrudes form time to time. Often such as yearning represents symbolically a deep need for connection with the Self, represents by the phallus, symbol of the creative masculine spirit. Such a longing often intrudes into a man's consciousness when he feels particularly exhausted or fragmented, and needs the healing and synthesizing of his ego through a contact with the Self. It may also come as a compensation for too much exposure to the woman, both the woman within and the woman without, for man finds woman dangerous, and in order to maintain himself in relationship to her he must from time to time renew and consolidate his masculinity. - John A. Sanford, The Invisible Partners

EXCERCISE: Finding Eros This first part of this exercise each partner does individually. Locate an Eros-like image in your dreams. Begin by looking for whatever image naturally conforms to your idea of a god or a goddess, an angelic figure, or a prince or princess. Or you may use a dream image of someone you know who is very appealing to you. This is a fine path to take, however, you will often discover that the Eros figure is instead some kind of distasteful figure. Paradoxically, your inner Lover may first appear as an old hag, a rundown workhorse, a toad, or something equally repugnant. Do not run from this revelation. Turn and encounter whoever shows up. As fairy tales remind us, the Lover is often in hiding, wearing the cloak of the repugnant, waiting for the kiss that will release him or her from exile. In whatever way the Eros figure appears to you, work with it now. Draw it in your journal at least three times. Let it emerge more fully in each successive sketch. Or mold the image in clay with your eyes closed. Let your fingers spontaneously work the clay, with no concern for artistic prowess. Do this several times. Prepare yourself for a journey. The Lover is an image with the power to transform. Like love itself, Eros is complicated, contradictory, and paradoxical. Often as you tend to the Eros image, you will notice changes in its shape and form. This is a natural phenomenon. Allow for the Eros figure to shape-shift. As you depict the image, make sure to stop every ten minutes or so to witness the image as it goes through its changes. Do not get thrown off if the image changes in some way. Stay with it and keep focused. Sometimes the strangest or most difficult image conceals the Lover within it. Eros may live just inside the Beast. Be patient in tending this image. Do not get seduced into idealizing it, or making it into one of your long-lost lovers. This is not a matter of wish fulfillment or lover’s remorse. It’s the process of letting the revelation of the image come forward. Look for the first hints of the image revealing itself. Once you have a sense of the figure coming into visibility, allow a good deal of time to attend to it. This is extremely important. Do not rush to the next activities of the day or turn to your partner to share the news. Take a day, even two, to be with yourself and deepen your newfound relationship to the inner figure before you talk about it with your partner. Feel your heart open, and notice what opens further in the figure itself. You may want to continue with your sketches or sculpture, or you may read—or even write—a poem that captures the feeling of what is occurring. It is good to write your own poem to the figure. This is an age-old romantic tradition, and the dream figure of Love will respond to your offering. As in any new love relationship, bringing yourself fully to the process makes all the difference. When the Lover visits, open yourself to it, offering back what has been bottled up inside of you for so many years: your yearning to express love- Stephen Aizenstat, Dream Tending

EXCERCISE: Tending the Sacred Marriage This exercise each partner can do individually. Identify one of your paintings, sculptures, or writings about the Eros image from step four. Put this in front of you and begin to tune in to the image. Do this at an emotional as well as imaginative level. As you do so, allow the image to animate. Allow the Inner Lover to attract another dream image that feels like its inner partner. What image is drawn to it in some way? Which dream image does this primary Eros figure call into appearance? Who comes alive to meet Eros? Once a complementary dream image presents itself, take the time to express it in art or writing, as you did the Eros figure. Repeat this several times. Let this new image grow into its vitality, just as the original Eros figure did. Once this partner figure has come fully to life, notice the interaction between the two figures. Notice how one figure evokes the other. It will help to spontaneously draw, sculpt, or write what you notice. Let this expression come through your hands into form without any contrivance. Let the dream enactment take on a life of its own. You will notice that as you repeat this exercise several times, the interaction gets more detailed. Do not make meaning out of this now. Appreciate that there is a dance between these two figures that has a rhythm, cadence, and an intelligence of its own. Just observe. You are witnessing the sacred marriage revealing itself through the expression of the images. After repeating the above three times, wait a day, then return to the images. Put your expressive works in front of you. Watch how they again come to life and interact. Notice how things continue to move, transmute, and evolve. Similar to relationships between actual people, the interactions between invisible lovers are dynamic and complex. Write down what you are observing. - Stephen Aizenstat, Dream Tending

EXCERCISE: Honoring the Third Body This exercise is to be done as a couple Identify the dream image or sensation that embodies the transcendent Third Body of your relationship. Look for an image from the dreams of either partner that seems to have a quality of timelessness about it. If you have children, do not mistake one of them for the Third Body. Do not literalize the image to any concrete, external thing. The root image of your relationship exists independent of mortal persons. When you recognize the Third Body and acknowledge it for itself, it will thrive. Give a name to the image of the Third Body. This is a process of openness and intuitive listening. There is no one right answer, just something that seems to come forward naturally from the figure. Develop joint activities in order to tend the image with your partner. For example, when you go on a walk in the woods, you might bring an offering of some sort—a piece of fruit, a flower, or a handmade weaving, or anything that feels appropriate can be used to honor the image. Offer it to the Third Body now. As Dream Tending continues between you, notice how your care for the transcendent image ignites moments of love between you. Take the time to talk about this with your partner. Set aside the business of life to have this conversation. Appreciate that you are feeding the Third Body of your relationship. Become tenders of your relationship’s soul by attending to dreams that respond to your work together. -Stephen Aizenstat, Dream Tending

An axiom of depth psychology asserts that what is not admitted into awareness irrupts in ungainly, obsessive, literalistic ways, affecting consciousness with precisely the qualities it strives to exclude. Personifying not allowed as a metaphorical vision returns in concerted form: we seize upon people, we cling to other persons.  They become invested with repressed images so that they grow in importance, become idealized, idolized, while the psyche finds itself more fascinated, more glued and stuck to these concrete individuals than it would have been to the metaphorical persons that are at the root of the projection onto people. Without metaphorical persons, we are forced into desperate clutching literalisms.
Thus we are more obsessive and enslaved by the sublimated forms of culture than by the original metaphors. We are more pornographically sexualized than our sexuality, more aggressively power-driven than our ambition, more hungry and dependent than our needs, more masochistically victimized than our suffering requires. The literalisms into which we constrict our drives hold us faster than do the drives themselves. The obsessive literalism of our belief in other people holds us tighter than any personified totem or faiths. How quick others are to become angesl or demons, nymphs or heroes; how we expect - how they disappoint! Others carry our souls and become our soul figures, to the final consequence that without these idols we fall into despair of loneliness and turn to suicide.
By our use of them to keep ourselves alive, other persons begin to assume the place of fetishes and totems, becoming keepers of our lives. Through this worship of the personal, personal relationships have become the place where the divine is to be found, so the new theology asserts. The very condition that modern rational consciousness would dissuade us from - personifying - returns in our relationships, creating an animistic world of personified idols. … By means of personification my sense of person becomes more vivid for I carry with me at all times the protection of my daimones: the images of dead people who mattered to me, of ancestral figures of my stock, cultural and historical persons of renown nad people of fable who provide exemplary images - a wealth of guardians.They guard my fate, guide it, probably are it. … No longer is it a question of whether I believe in soul, but whether soul believes in me, grants me the capacity to have faith in it, in psychic reality….Psychological faith beings in the love of images, and it flows mainly through the shapes of persons in reveries, fantasies, reflections, and imaginations. Their increasing vilification gives one the increasing conviction of having, and then of being, an interior reality of deep significance transcending one's personal life.
Psychological faith is reflected in an ego that gives credit ot images and turns to them in its darkness. Its trust is in the imagination as the only uncontrovertible reality, directly presented, immediately felt. - James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology