First, a Chuck-ku:
Wind blows, seeds disperse.
Earth softens, flowers emerge.
We work very hard each day to stay on top of our responsibilities, to sleep well, to get up on time, perhaps to exercise, to stay abreast of world events, or keep them at safe bay so as not to infiltrate the calm, to be prepared for the day, to show up on time, or quietly sneak away. At the end of the day we want to feel good about our accomplishments, our challenges met, as we plan for tomorrow’s activities or weekend’s repose. These are all efforts of consciousness: decision making, planning, will power, efforts to create structure in our lives. But where’s the juice?!
Where is the joy, the electricity, the experiences that transport us beyond our hard earned structures to a deeper communion with life, a true experience of rapture, wholeness and union with the divine? We all crave this experience, this melding of consciousness with the divine instinctual energy that lies at the depths of our being. This experience we seek, to complete our day in wholeness, is the experience of ecstasy.
The Greek roots of the word ecstasy are ex meaning out of or to stand apart from, and stasis meaning stationary or stagnant. Thus, ecstasy is the experience outside the box of our hard earned ego structures. To get there we must loosen or dissolve the rigid static structures of our egos, stand outside our rules, our strict rationality, our thinking processes, to encounter the energetic fluidity and unpredictability of our deeper emotional divine selves. The challenge is to step outside the box and yet remain fully conscious and present, flowing with this intense ecstatic energy.
The tendency of the ego is to either repress the divine impulse due to its intensity and fear of loss of control or for the ego to volitionally check out, as for example in a drunken binge where ecstatic energy overtakes consciousness in a frenzied reverie. In either case, there is no union, and no true experience of wholeness and divine rapture.
How can we build a solid bridge capable of safely channeling such powerful energy? To construct this bridge, we must engage all the powers of ego and consciousness. Without consciousness the experience of the divine energy is a tsunami that overtakes all structures or simply passes over without notice. How do we build a solid foundation for our bridge? One stone at a time.
One stone is to recognize the stirrings of emotion within as we move through our daily lives. Perhaps we might experience an impulse, a feeling of warmth, of appreciation, of love, of excruciating tenderness in an interaction with another. Can we allow ourselves to stretch and feel the full energy of this emotion? Perhaps we feel quite vulnerable, overly sensitive, seeking to automatically shut down, cut off, and move away from feeling the energy of our experience. Beyond the self, might we stretch ourselves, allowing our egos to lay down a stone by actually expressing out loud our feeling to another? To allow the self to withstand and be reshaped by the energetic aftermath of this wave of emotion is bridge building.
In another instance, we might find ourselves moved by a divine impulse to dance, to sing, to be playful, or silly. Can we lay another welcome stone to this divine energy by stretching our rigid egos to be moved to action by this impulse?
Perhaps we partake of a sip of wine. Dionysus, the personification of divine ecstasy, is also the Greek god of wine. Even the Christian mass includes a sip of wine as a channel to divine communion with God. That sip of wine immediately invites the experience of another world. Boundaries disappear and the experience of everything as energetically interconnected emerges. However, can we stop at one sip, at one glass? Can we retain our consciousness and experience interconnectedness in a modest way? This challenge is certainly another brick in the foundation of our bridge to ecstasy. Too often the craving for more divine contact, so deeply desired, results in inviting too much energy to travel on an incomplete structure ending in oblivion or divine madness.
Ecstasy is its own crucible, its own alchemical oven, its own cross. Pushing the confines of the structure, which can ultimately increase one’s joy, is a painful and lengthy process. Take, for example, love and sex, a very challenging combination, a cornerstone of our bridge to ecstasy. In the beginning of relationship, when nature provides us with an unearned “in love” experience, we are afforded the divine rapture of ecstasy as the boundaries of our individual egos are stretched to merge with our “soul mate.” In this time, love and sexual energy flow freely. If this divine spark acquires duration and becomes a true relationship we are ultimately expelled from the garden. The gift of ecstasy must now be earned through the building of a bridge of conscious relationship. The more we get to know our partner, the more familiar they become, often, the more difficult sex becomes.
Love is a product of consciousness. Love takes work, hard work. Encountering and accepting the truth of our “human” soul mate, as well as revealing our own most vulnerable selves, is an extremely challenging process. Meanwhile, familiarity often drives sexual energy underground. Love and familiarity bring a lot of bright light to a relationship. The spontaneous, unpredictable flow of primal sexual energy seeks the darkness, where play, connection, and abandon are spared watchful, judgmental eyes and a thinking mind. To be conscious and present in abandon, without thought, is the crucible of love and sex. To merge the familiar and the spontaneous, the divine and the earthy, the spirit and the flesh, is a powerful, ecstatic moment. This is definitely possible if there is commitment, but it is often a painful, vulnerable, and frustrating process where the energies seek to escape the containment required for ultimate transformation and ecstatic union.
Stretching and softening the boundaries of the ego to accommodate and join with the divine spontaneous impulse is the essence of ecstasy. Yes, to be able to stand, which is to hold onto consciousness, outside the static structure of the ego, is to open to the flow of divine energy, true ex-stasis. In this piece, I selected the metaphor of a sturdy bridge built stone by stone to represent the place of standing amidst divine energy. The opportunities to lay these stones offer themselves daily in a myriad of ordinary life circumstances where the spark of divine impulse is felt subtly or profoundly within the heart.
Jung chose a different metaphor, that of a cork floating on the ocean. The cork being the place of standing, or consciousness floating upon the boundless, infinite flux. Despite the disparity in size of cork to ocean, Jung would argue that without consciousness there is no wholeness, there is no divine ecstasy. Rumor has it that Jung’s final words, spoken to Marie-Louise von Franz, were: “Let’s have a really good red wine tonight!” Wine or no wine, I suggest that you make your experience di-vine!
If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.
Until we meet again,