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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Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Monday, August 28, 2017
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
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
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
This too is connected with the karma of the Anthroposophical Movement. It is something that one discovers, not from any rationalistic observation of this Anthroposophical Movement in its external, earthly form only, but from observation of the threads that lead upwards into the spiritual realms. Then one perceives how this Anthroposophical Movement descends. At the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries it is, in very truth, the “heavenly” Anthroposophical Movement. What Goethe transformed into little miniature images in the Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily were drops that had trickled through. But it was to come down in the real sense in the last third of the nineteenth century, since when Michael has been striving — but now moving downwards from the Sun to the Earth — to take hold of the earthly Intelligence of men. We know that since the Mystery of Golgotha Christ has been united with the Earth — with humanity on Earth. But, to begin with, He was not outwardly comprehended by human beings. We have seen also that in the age of Alexander the last phase of the rulership of Michael over the Cosmic Intelligence was taking place. By the eighth century A.D., the Cosmic Intelligence had descended to the Earth. In accordance with the agreements reached with the Platonists, those who were connected with Michael undertook to prepare this earthly Intelligence in Scholastic Realism in such a way that Michael would again be able to unite with it when, in the onward flow of civilisation, he would assume his rulership at the end of the seventies of the nineteenth century.
What matters now is that the Anthroposophical Society shall take up this, its inner task — this task which is: not to contest Michael's rulership of human thinking! Here there can be no question of fatalism. Here it can only be said that men must work together with the Gods. Michael inspires men with his own being in order that there may appear on the Earth a spirituality consonant with the personal Intelligence of men, in order that men can be thinkers — and at the same time truly spiritual. For this and this alone is what Michael's dominion means. This is what must be wrestled for in the Anthroposophical Movement. And then those who are working to-day for the Anthroposophical Movement will appear again on Earth at the end of the twentieth century and will be united with the great teachers of Chartres. For according to the agreement reached in that heavenly conference at the beginning of the thirteenth century, the Aristotelians and the Platonists were to appear together, working for the ever-growing prosperity of the Anthroposophical Movement in the twentieth century, in order that at the end of this century, with Platonists and Aristotelians in unison, Anthroposophy may reach a certain culmination in earthly civilisation. If it is possible to work in this way, in the way predestined by Michael, then Europe and modern civilisation will emerge from decline. But verily in no other way than this! The leading of civilisation out of decline is bound up with an understanding of Michael.I have now led you towards an understanding of the Michael Mystery reigning over the thinking and the spiritual strivings of mankind. This means — as you can realise — that through Anthroposophy something must be introduced into the spiritual evolution of the Earth, for all kinds of demonic, Ahrimanic powers are taking possession of men. The Ahrimanic powers in many a human body were exultant in their confidence that it would no longer be possible for Michael to take over his rulership of the Cosmic Intelligence which had fallen down to the Earth. And this exultation was particularly strong in the middle of the nineteenth century, when Ahriman already believed: Michael will not again recover his Cosmic Intelligence which made its way from the heavens to the Earth. And this exultation was particularly strong in the middle of the nineteenth century, when Ahriman already believed that Michael would not again recover his Cosmic Intelligence which made its way from the Heavens to the Earth. Verily, great and mighty issues are at stake! For this reason it is not to be wondered at that those who stand in the midst of this battle have to go through many extraordinary experiences. - Rudolf Steiner, Karmic Relationships, Volume VI, Lecture 9
I think that people with autism are born outside the regime of civilization. Sure, this is just my own made-up theory, but I think that, as a result of all the killings in the world and the selfish planet-wrecking that humanity has committed, a deep sense of crisis exists. Autism has somehow arisen out of this. Although people with autism look like other people physically, we are in fact very different in many ways. We are more like travelers from the distant, distant, past. And if, by our being here, we could help the people of the world remember what truly matters for the Earth, that would give us a quiet pleasure. - Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year Old Boy with Autism
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
If you consider our teachings in their entirety, my friends, you will realize that the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge must have something to do with the essence of the human being. Being forbidden to eat from the Treeof Knowledge means, as you will eventually discover, that the human soul is not to strive for the kind of knowledge bound to the physical body. This has led to the kind of sense-bound perception we know today. “Eating from the Tree of Knowledge” means becoming bound up with the physical body to the extent that the kind of knowledge brought about by Lucifer now prevails, as I described in a recent lecture. Thus, the Elohim were referring to something inherent in human beings when they spoke of the Tree of Knowledge. And they must also have meant something intrinsic to the human being when they spoke of the Tree of Life.
We may wonder why we see as we do today, how it came about that we perceive as we do. It came about because our soul and spirit, permeated with the being of Lucifer, have become embedded in our physical body and are consuming it, although this is not what was originally intended. This physical body is the Tree of Knowledge, and the ether body is the Tree of Life. After having let themselves be seduced by Lucifer into using their physical body for purposes of perception as we know it now, human beings were prevented from also acquiring knowledge through the ether body. That has been denied us. If you are really thinking, my friends, you will arrive at trains of thought like this one.
The next question to be asked, then, is why the physical body is called the Tree of Knowledge in the language of the gods.
Why do they call it a tree, and why do they also call the ether body the Tree of Life? Why are they talking about trees? It is easy to understand what is meant by this if you recall that the gods in question evolved during the Sun period for the most part and thus assumed some essentially Sun-like qualities. For a moment, just reflect on the fact that during the ancient Saturn period, everything was at the mineral level, while during the ancient Sun period, everything was at the evolutionary stage of plants. Since the gods we call the Elohim developed their characteristic way of speaking during the Sun period, it is natural for them not to speak of things that could only be experienced later, during the Moon and Earth stages of evolution, but about what evolved in the universe during the Sun stage, namely plant life. When using their own language, which is the language of the Sun, it is only natural for them to speak of trees. - Rudolf Steiner, Community Life, Lecture III
If we were not asleep as regards our powers of desire, for instance and the feeling-impulses connected with them, we would develop an extraordinary activity. We would follow the actions we perform right into the body; with everything we fulfilled as will-impulse, we would follow what was inward — our blood, into all the blood-vessels. This means, if you could follow the lifting of a piece of chalk with reference to the will-impulse, you would follow what takes place in your hand, right into all the blood-vessels. You would see from within the activity of the blood,and the feelings attached to it, for example, you would see inwardly the gravity of the particles of chalk, and things of that nature, and would thereby become aware you were following your nerve-paths, and the etheric fluidity found therein. You would inwardly experience yourself, along with the activity of blood and nerves. This would be an inner enjoyment to your own blood-and nerve activity. But during our earth-life we must be withheld from this inner enjoyment of our own blood and nerve-activity, otherwise we would go through life in such a way that in everything we did, we would experience this inner self-enjoyment. But man, as he has become, may not have this enjoyment, and the secret of why he may not, we again find expressed in a part of the Bible towards which we should always feel the greatest reverence.
After those things had taken place which are expressed in the Paradise-Myth, man was permitted to eat of the Tree of Knowledge but not of the Tree of Life. Eating of the Tree of Life meant this inner gratification. That might not happen to man. I cannot develop this motive further here to-day, because it would lead too far; but through your own meditation on the motive here touched on you will be able to find out further things for yourselves. But starting from this point there is something else you can keep in mind which can be of essential importance for you in these days. We are unable to eat of the Tree of Life, i.e. — enjoy in our own inner being our own blood and nerve activity. We cannot do this. But something happens, especially when observing the world through our senses and our intellect, which is closely connected with such an inner enjoyment. In the perception of any object in the outer world, and in pondering over any object in the outer world we follow the senses — that is, we follow the eyes, nose, ears and taste nerves — we follow the path of the blood vessels; and when we think, we follow the path of the nerves. But we do not perceive what might be perceived along the path of the nerves and of the blood. Only what we might perceive in the blood, is reflected through the senses; it is as it were thrown back, and from this, sense-impressions arise; and that which is conducted along the path of the nerves is also reflected and brought to where the nerve-paths reach their end, and is then reflected as our thoughts. - Rudolf Steiner
'The tree of life' is love and faith deriving from love; 'in the middle of the garden' means in the will of the internal man. The chief place that the Lord occupies in men and angels is the will, which in the Word is called the heart. But since nobody can do good with self as the source, the will or the heart is not man's, even though it is referred to as his. What is man's is evil desire, and this he calls his will. Since the will is the middle of the garden, where the tree of lifea is, and since no will, only evil desire, belongs to man, 'the tree of life'' is therefore the mercy of the Lord, who is the source of all love and faith and consequently of all life. - Emanuel Swedenborg, Arcana Coelestia 105
And Jehovah God commanded the man and said, From every tree in the garden you may indeed eat.
'Eating of every tree' is recognizing and knowing, from perception, what good and truth are; for, as stated already, 'a tree' means perception. Members of the Most Ancient Church possessed the cognitions of true faith by means of revelations, for they talked to the Lord and to angels. They were also taught through visions and dreams, which to them were supremely delightful and blissful. They received perception from the Lord continually; and as a result of that perception, when they thought from things in their memory they instantly perceived whether these were true and good, insomuch that when anything false came up they not only had nothing to do with it but were also horrified. This is also the state of angels. Later on however knowledge of what is true and good took the place of the perception which the Most Ancient Church enjoyed, a knowledge based on what had been previously revealed, and later, on things revealed in the Word. - Emanuel Swedenborg, Arcana Coelestia 125
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. Men's desire to probe into mysteries of faith by means of sensory evidence and factual knowledge was not only the cause of the downfall of the Most Ancient Church, that is to say, of its descendants - to be dealt with in the next chapter; it is also the cause of the downfall of every Church. For that desire leads not only to falsities but also to evils of life. The worldly and bodily-minded man says at heart, Unless I am taught about faith and about things that belong to faith by means of sensory evidence so that I see for myself, that is, by facts so that I understand for myself, I am not going to believe. And he confirms himself in this attitude from the consideration that natural phenomena cannot be at variance with spiritual. Consequently it is from sensory evidence that he wishes to learn about heavenly and Divine matters. But this is no more possible than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. The more he wants by this method to become wise, the more he blinds himself, until in the end he believes nothing, not even in the existence of anything spiritual or in eternal life. This arises out of the basic assumption he makes. This is eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And the more he eats of it, the more dead does he become. But the person who wishes to be made wise not from the world but from the Lord says at heart that he must believe the Lord, that is, those things the Lord has spoken in the Word, because they are truths. This is the basic assumption of his thinking. He confirms himself by means of rational, factual, sensory, and natural evidence. And things that are not confirmatory he sets aside. The person who wishes to become wise from the world has for his 'garden' sensory evidence and factual knowledge. His 'Eden' is self-love and love of the world, his 'east' is the west or himself. His 'river Euphrates' is all his factual knowledge, which is condemned; his 'second river', where Asshur is, is his insane reasoning from which come falsities; his 'third river', where Cush is, is the resulting assumptions he makes consisting of evil and falsity, which are his cognitions of faith; his 'fourth' is the wisdom that results, which in the Word is called magic. - Emanuel Swedenborg, Arcana Coelestia 126-130
The feeling dimension of the world is not easily describable in words, but it’s deeply important—especially if you want to touch the dreaming of Earth. Unfortunately, in the West, the feeling sense is not only atrophied, very few people even know that it is a primary sensory modality. As Bradford Keeney relates, in a conversation with a Kalahari Bushman, it is incredibly difficult to convey its importance . . . or its reality to people in the West. I reply as I have before, “The difficulty, my dear friend, concerns how to say it. The rest of the world does not yet accept that a feeling is as real as a tree or a rock.” “Or a lion,” she adds . . . “Are they emotionally blind? Do they keep bumping into feelings and emotions they don’t know what to do with? I bet they keep on telling their hearts to go back to sleep.” The truth is: Every physical object you see has a distinctly different feeling aspect than every other object you will encounter. The object’s visual inputs, auditory inputs, olfactory inputs . . . all have unique feeling dimensions to them. (And every one of them, just as with different musical notes, has a slightly different feeling or emotional tone to it than the one before or after it.) The developed use of this feeling dimension of things—the secret kinesis of physical objects—that is the key to opening sensory gating channels more widely. It’s one of the innate mechanisms of hallucinogens, neurognostics of any sort. They (usually) make people feel very good. Unless you’re having a bad trip (and yes, I’ll talk more about that later) They restore the feeling sense and enhance it. They open the gating channels of the feeling sense more widely so you can feel the impact of the world, its nonkinesthetic touch, upon you while at the same time enhancing the pleasure centers of the brain. They stimulate the reclamation of the feeling sense—and subsequently access to the metaphysical background of the world. This is the real reason they are illegal Reclaiming the feeling sense, and developing it as a primary sensing tool, is one of the main ways to begin to enter more deeply into the metaphysical background of the world. Although it seems onerous, the key to its reclamation, as it is with all art forms, is a lot of practice. So, let’s play with it a bit so you can get a sense of what I mean . . . Let your eyes wander around the room you’re in until something catches your attention—desk, pen, cup; it doesn’t matter what it is. It is just, for whatever reason at this moment in time, interesting to you. It appeals in some way. Now. Look at it carefully, note its shape, notice its color. Really look at it; let your visual sensing take it in. Let your eyes touch the thing as if they were fingers capable of extreme sensitivity of touch. Immerse yourself in seeing the thing that has caught your attention. Now, ask yourself, How does it feel? In the tiny moment of time that follows that question, there will be a burst of feeling, an “intimation of mood or feeling” as Goethe once described it. Your nonphysical touching has just felt a part of the exterior world. There’s a specific and unique feeling experience that occurs whenever this question is asked about something that is acutely observed. What stands revealed is a dimension to things beyond height, width, and breadth. There is a feeling dimension to them. The secret kinesis of things. Now, let your eyes be captured by something else, again focus on how it looks, its shape and colors, and when you are really noticing it, ask yourself, How does it feel? There will be, again, that immediate emergence of an “intimation of mood or feeling.” The thing has a feeling tone to it. Even if you might not be able to say exactly what that feeling tone is, it’s very distinct, isn’t it? And this particular feeling tone will be unique to the thing itself. It’s different from the one possessed by the last thing you felt. In fact, everything you touch in this way will have a slightly, or sometimes very, different feeling or kinesis to it. Now, do it again with something else. Only this time after you ask How does it feel? just after the unique feeling tone emerges, savor it for a while as if you are smelling a unique but delicate perfume or tasting a unique and subtle flavor. Immerse yourself in what you are now feeling. Now . . . shift your attention to yourself. Notice how you are feeling. Interesting, isn’t it? The state you are now in is different from how you were before this exercise began. If you really have immersed yourself in this exercise, you will find that your physiology has shifted. Your breathing will have slowed and deepened, your body become more relaxed. Eye focus will be different, too, more soft-focused; peripheral vision has been activated. You are seeing with Henry David Thoreau’s “unworn sides of the eye.” As he says . . . It is by obeying the suggestions of a higher light within you [he says] that you escape from yourself and, in transit, as it were see with the unworn sides of your eye, travel totally new paths. Colors will likely be a bit more luminous, sounds more resonant, body sensations more sensitive. sensory gating in all systems is opening more widely now Everything around you will feel more alive. State of mind has shifted as well. Your thoughts will be slower and deeper. Perceptual focus is enhanced. You will feel a bit dreamier. Now, do it again—look at something, observe it in detail, and then ask yourself, How does it feel? At the emergence of the feeling tone, again savor it for awhile, then pay attention to your state. Pay attention to how you feel. Now compare that feeling to the feeling you had just a moment ago, when you last focused on yourself. There’s a similarity, isn’t there? There is a particular feeling that accompanies this kind of perception. The particular feeling you have in your body when you do this can be remembered, if you wish, and recreated anytime. You begin to get a sense of the state you are going for. Habituating yourself to this feeling, deeply anchoring it in your experience, gaining familiarity with it, will allow you to drop down into it over and over again. At will. This state, as everyone who trains in it learns over time, can be deepened considerably. It must be if you wish to fully enter the metaphysical background of the world. This first step, you might say, is where you get your foot in the door of it. You can, if you wish, extend it a bit further now . . . Do the exercise again and while you’re in that state, slowly take your eyes off the thing you are looking at and slowly look around at everything else you can see. (Keep breathing from this more relaxed state, let your eyes remain soft focused.) Let your eyes slowly pan the room and allow that feeling part of you to feel everything in the room as a wash of feeling flowing into you from what you are seeing. Instead of feeling the secret kinesis of one thing, you are feeling the secret kinesis of many things at once. At this moment you are feeling the world around you (with the part of you that can nonphysically touch) as a continual act similarly to the way you see or hear the world around you as a continual act. This form of perception is a natural one for all people. But for most people in Western cultures, the skill hasn’t been developed (often it has been actively discouraged). The same isn’t true for our other forms of sensory perceiving. When we were born we experienced a continual flow of visual and auditory sense impressions but we had no interpretations for them. It was through experience that we learned to understand what we were seeing and what we were hearing. By intentionally working with the secret kinesis of things, intentionally activating this form of sensing as a regular part of our perceiving, we learn to understand and work with these kinds of sensory impressions just as we once did visual and auditory impressions. We reclaim a form of perception that was once common to all people and cultures and which is innate in every infant born into this world. Engaging again with this kind of nonphysical touching is what James Hillman describes as “recovering the response of the heart to what is presented to the senses.” Continually sensing in this way is the key to opening the doors of perception more widely at will, the key to entering deep within the metaphysical background of the world. When this form of perception is initiated, the conscious mind begins to move into the background, the statistical mentality begins to be left behind, mechanicalism begins to be abandoned. By focusing intently through the senses and then asking How does it feel? you move out of analytical thinking, out of the brain, and begin to move into a different kind of cognition, one that is intimately interwoven with feeling. So, there are three initial, essential steps to this. The first is seeing—really looking at—what is right in front of you, the second is asking How does it feel? The third? It’s something rather tedious I’m afraid . . . practice, practice, and, still, more practice. In other words, everywhere you go, every place you visit, everything you encounter, ask yourself, How does it feel? How does this restaurant feel? How does that street feel? How does this pencil feel? How does that tree feel? How does this person feel? How does it feel to my sensing, to me? And just an FYI, don’t ask How do I feel? That question takes it into the realm of emotions: mad, sad, scared, angry, depressed, I-don’t-know, pissed off, sort-of-happy. Of all the phrasing I have explored, How does it feel? produces that burst of feeling, that intimation of mood that Goethe spoke of, more effectively than anything else. As you do this you will begin habituating the skill and building an internal database of feeling experiences associated with the multiple phenomena you have encountered. You will become used to using this kind of sensing as a regular part of your life—just as you have done with visual and sound perception. Your feeling sensing will grow stronger as a result; you will become increasingly more sensitive to even the slightest touch of the world upon you, the slightest feeling tone in anything you encounter. And, as well, importantly the novelty of things will begin to increase. One of the truths about habituated gating parameters . . . everything you daily encounter has a reduced novelty to it. That is why hallucinogens are so potent in engaging their user with the world, they increase the novelty of sensory inputs. Because each thing—every phenomenon—does in fact possess a unique feeling dimension to it, different from all other things, when you begin to pay attention to the feeling tone of a thing, its novelty increases against background sensory inputs. you have also created a task set that begins to override gating parameters As the skill is habituated—as you continually perceive the world through your feeling sensing—the novelty level of everything increases. This, over time, opens gating channels more widely as a general condition. All sensory inputs begin to take on the same kind of luminosity that occurs with hallucinogens. You begin to engage the world, as a habit, with more open gating. As more time passes, gating continues to expand, you begin to enter more and more deeply into the metaphysical background of the world. You, in essence, begin to live in the same state that hallucinogens induce. You are, in fact, high all the time. - Stephen Harrod Buhner, Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal World
I still remember seeing a great, ancient maple send shudder after shudder through its trunk one year—for days on end. The entire tree was undulating; I’d never seen or felt anything like it before. Some dimension of the world that I had never encountered before was intruding itself into my experience. It literally felt like the underpinnings of my world view were crumbling. It seemed as if the tree were having an epileptic seizure, something far outside my experience of trees. Then, with a great crash one day, a single giant, diseased limb came hurtling down from the canopy, at which point the shudders ceased. In a flash of insight then, I understood that trees self-prune, that they self-caretake, that I had only the barest understanding of the plant world and finally grasped Einstein’s observation that “we still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us.” - Stephen Harrod Buhner, Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal World
Many behavioural characteristics typical of autism closely parallel the effects of psychoactive compounds such as LSD and mescaline. I believe that if one were to be in a permanent state of altered perception, such as would be the case if the brain was spontaneously producing an endogenous psychoactive compound, you would effectively get the autistic state, which was why I called the paper ‘The Trip of a Lifetime’.
One of the most common findings in the biochemical makeup of autistic children is the presence of high levels of bufotenin. Bufotenin is a minor metabolite of tryptophan, the amino acid precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Another reason to suspect bufotenin is that the tryptophan molecule’s structure is ‘indole’; it is the only amino acid in the body to be so and shares this characteristic with psychoactive compounds such as LSD and mescaline. It is, if you like, the common ‘link’ between the two states.
Bufotenin levels are normally held in balance by monoamine oxidase (MAO). If, however, MAO was inhibited, bufotenin levels could rise to a point where concentrations become such that behaviour is affected and the subject effectively begins to ‘trip’.
This idea seems to be supported by recent research, published in New Scientist, carried out by Dr Ira Cohen, a psychologist at New York’s State Institute for Basic Research in New York. Dr Cohen’s research team has identified a relationship between the more severely affected autistic boys in their control group and a variation in the length of a control region at the start of the MAO gene. The variation determines how much of the enzyme is produced. Dr Cohen’s work also seems to support the prevalence of autism in males, inasmuch as boys have only one copy of the gene, because it is only found on the X chromosome, while females of course have two.
In summary I believe that we should be doing studies to confirm the presence of bufotenin in both the autistic child and in their parents – this would be relatively simple because it’s detectable in urine – and then perhaps developing a drug to block bufotenin receptor sites in the brain. - David Selwyn
A handful can let go the realm of the significant or the literal and revisit the sensory; for some this happens under overload where the passing traffic becomes a whirr, the surrounding conversation a jumble. For others, this overload may be brought on by the effects of alcohol of drugs or the involuntary drug-like effects of viral, bacterial or fungal infections; fluctuating blood oxygen or glucose levels; vitamin, mineral or hormonal imbalances; ; or the effects of food or chemical allergies. When I was about ten years old I used to have a certain billiard ball -a pink one. I used to spend around an hour with it before I could reach the point of resonance with it where I would merge with the . To anyone else this would have looked like someone `psychotic' but if they'd known the physical alteration felt in that moment of becoming one with a some people would perhaps see it as far less crazy than other ways many people may have spent an hour of their lives at the same age - Donna Williams, Autism and Sensing, the Unlost Instinct