Chuck’s Place: Encounter

Feeling incomplete? Scattered? Scared? Can't quite see clearly yet? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Feeling incomplete? Scattered? Scared? Can’t quite see clearly yet?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

For the past few weeks I have been drawn to the topic of sub-personalities. Jung called them complexes; independent amalgams of ideas, experiences, and feeling tones that operate autonomously within the personality, each with their own motive, voice, and point of view.

These sub-personalities may be actual younger versions of ourselves, underdeveloped parts of ourselves, or frozen parts that were split off during traumatic experiences. As well, these inner voices might be from the transpersonal realm of our psyche: past life, archetypal or mythical entities that have become active beneath consciousness, influencing daily life.

Out of these many sub-personalities emerges one dominant personality that establishes a consistent identity, what we commonly call I, what Freud called the Ego Self.

The ego self is the leader that takes charge of consciousness and decides how we will navigate life. The ego is home base and must be finely tuned and safeguarded to take on the awesome challenge of reconciling all the inner needs and concerns of the sub-personalities, as well as establishing a stable foothold in the outside world.

The ego must also interact with the spirit self or higher self. Ruth White, in Using Your Chakras, writes: “The concept of the higher self…may lead us to suppose that the higher self is in charge and is the integrating force which we seek. Yet the being which we are on earth, the personality from which we function, fully exists in its own right. If we are too anxious to let the higher self take over, we may give insufficient importance to ego development. The tool which the higher self would use is then insufficiently formed and could be subject to delusions of grandeur, inability to make choices, slavishness to authority, a sense of non-being, or psychosis.

Thus, though the ego self must not overstep its bounds, by usurping the identity of the higher self, it is fully charged to establish firm boundaries and decisively mediate actions to be taken in this world. To inhabit this state I often suggest that people draw circles with firm boundaries, representing a firm ego self. Inside the circle exists a state of calmness within which the intent to be objective is set. The ego self must make decisions, and to do this well it must be freed of negative judgments that cloud objective processing. The ego must deal only with facts to process the points of view and nuggets of truth held by the cluster of sub-personalities that reside in the greater self.

The grand work of individuation is to find out who you truly are in this lifetime... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The grand work of individuation is to find out who you truly are in this lifetime…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The ego must be able to hold its own; that is, avoid contamination or states of possession when it encounters the moods, beliefs, images and sensations of sub-personalities that strongly seek to influence the decisions that the ego must make as it navigates life. The goal is wholeness of personality, all parts cohesively integrated. This is a lifetime opus, the grand work of individuation.

Jan shared her dream of the square in her blog this week—her place of power, calm meditation and retreat—where she could be completely calm and safe from the storms of interfering energy within or outside of the self. Like my circle-drawing suggestion, her square serves a similar function, introducing mandalas as safe havens for ego consciousness to get calm, be objective, and process and decide how to reconcile its inevitable encounters with sub-personalities.

After a brief discussion of the circle and the square, Jan and I decided to jointly throw the I Ching, alternating the throwing of the coins. We received the hexagram of Breakthrough/Resoluteness, #43. This hexagram depicts the inevitable encounters we must have with swollen energies that gather in intensity and seek release, the energetics of encounters with sub-personalities. The ego is warned, “Even a single passion still lurking in the heart has the power to obscure reason.” Calm objectivity must be the ruling dominant power in the fortress.

The I Ching further states: “…resolution must be based on a union of strength and friendliness.” Thus, when we encounter sub-personalities, we are warned to stay strong, to not be bullied but to establish that we come in peace, seeking truth and reconciliation.

…the struggle must not be carried on directly by force,” says the I Ching. Thus, if we engage in battle—which is negativity and judgment—with a sub-personality, we risk possession as we deplete our energy in an unnecessary power struggle where we lose our objective edge.

Finally, the I Ching states: “If a man were to pile up riches for himself alone, without considering others, he would certainly experience a collapse. For all gathering is followed by dispersion.” The ego is strongly warned to be fair in making decisions about what endeavors will be funded in the resolute actions of daily life. If the ego is prejudiced in its interactions and judgments of sub-personalities, it risks violent collapse through revolutionary encounters that seek a change of attitude. These can take the form of compulsions or deep depressions.

The true self that finally emerges might look a whole lot different from what you had imagined! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The true self that finally emerges might look a whole lot different from what you had imagined!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The correct position of the ego is as a firm but benevolent ruler that fairly administers the states of the personality and aligns itself with the spirit intent of the higher self.

All encounters have their dangers, but only through encounter can we fully discover and achieve the wholeness we seek. Properly armed with strength and objectivity, we are ready to advance toward union, finally reconciling our sub-personalities. In our new wholeness we are offered fulfillment now, in this lifetime, and as we journey forward and take our definitive journey in infinity.

From inside the circle,

On a synchronistic note: In her blog Jan also noticed how everything was in such alignment. Well, she happened upon this little essay from Eric Francis at Planet Waves, right in alignment with what I had been pondering for weeks and write about in this blog, sub-personalities or what Francis calls The Hemisphere Effect. Take a look, another take on it all.

A Day in a Life: Permission For Retreat Granted

Seeking beauty in calm surroundings... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Seeking beauty in calm surroundings…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I notice how everything aligns, what I’m thinking about, what happens outside in the world, as well as what happens on a deeper subconscious level. The universes are synchronized.

I’m concerned with energetic and spatial alignment and compatibility. I want things in my life to be in good relationship, to each other and to me, as I live and flow through my life. I want to personally be in good alignment with my environment too, both inside and outside the house I live in, as well as inside and outside my physical body house.

While I seek calmness and balance, I must also challenge myself to go beyond my comfort zone, to be appropriately daring but also to not be foolhardy. There are times when we must push ourselves to try something new, but there are other times when it might not be the right time yet. And so patience is part of the process; it may actually be critical that we know when to be daring and when to wait. And so, we must be willing to question our decisions on a deeper level. Am I holding back for the right reason or am I acquiescing to the old self who just doesn’t want to be disturbed? I’ve noticed that the appropriate answer comes when the right question is asked.

My greater intent is to remain in alignment and in the natural flow of things, whether that flow is calm and sedate or frenzied and difficult. I seek to be adjustable in appropriate ways, giving and receiving when right, but also able to pull back and away when that feels right. Sometimes it just isn’t right to be available, no matter how a decision to not engage may appear to others. Sometimes it’s just time to break the old patterns, expectations, and demands of others, and withdraw. Sometimes it’s even time to permanently sever old ties that no longer serve us.

I’m a dreamer. If you’ve read any of my books, especially the latest one, Into the Vast Nothingness, you’ll have encountered my dreaming self. As I recapitulated I became very adept at analyzing my dreams. As I learned more about my own life and began to understand the symbols that arose to show me the way forward, things in my life evened out. I began to access the calmness and balance I had always sought to maintain. Now, at this point in my life, I’ve achieved more calmness and balance than I ever thought possible. During my recapitulation, I’d momentarily access it but it would be fleeting, as I’d dive back into my process or be drawn back in, as was appropriate at the time. Eventually the process took less of my energy and life took more—real life, new life freed of trauma—as life in alignment with my new self took over.

Lately my dreaming self has been going to classes. The other night I earned my doctorate and graduated into a “day of renewal.” The next night I dreamed that I was back in school again, sitting at the feet of an Indian guru, studying the Upanishads. That same night I also studied intent, holding onto my intent to “see” as the Shamans of Ancient Mexico say, seeing energy as it moves in the universe.

You don't belong here! You can't come in! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
You don’t belong here! You can’t come in!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Last night my intent for calmness and balance came through, right in alignment with my greater intent to be in the natural flow of things. I sat in the middle of a solid square comprised of 25 one-foot-square stones, laid out like a patio. This square was my place of power, my fortress but also my place of calm mediation and retreat. Though there were no walls surrounding me, I was totally encased inside this square; nothing could reach me that I did not bring into it. The number 25 was significant. Upon awakening I wondered why 25, but when I drew out the pattern I noted that the 25th stone sat solidly in the center of the perfect square. It was the center of my place of power.

As I dreamed, worry arose again and again. I knew that worry was not necessary, that it signifies something from the past that is done and cannot be undone, or something from the future that has not happened yet and so it was futile and a waste of energy to allow it to have my energy. It was appropriate to withdraw. And so each time worry arose in my dream, I retreated into my square. I sat down on the central 25th stone and grew immediately calm, knowing for certain that it was the right thing to do.

Upon awakening and beginning my day, I carry that sense of calmness with me. It is solid like stone. My fortress is both a spiritual container for my deeper self and protection against all that is outside that wants to get in, the dual aspect of containment that is necessary if we are to achieve and maintain alignment and balance in our lives. In going inside my stone square, sitting at the center of my power mandala, I declare that I am not available right now because my own energy needs rejuvenation and exploration, completely devoid of outside energy.

As we seek to know ourselves on deeper levels, we must learn how to contain our energy for our own use, constantly adjusting so that we can also be available, when appropriate, to share ourselves with others. We all need a center of power to return to as we go about our day.

It is certainly appropriate, and even necessary, to establish a place of retreat, a place where we feel safe and secure, away from the demands of the world and the cogitations of the mind—such as the worry of my dream—but also a place where we can spiritually rejuvenate. This place can be an imaginary fortress like a square or a circle, or it can be a quiet spot inside or outside, removed from everyone and everything. It might even mean sitting in our car for a few moments of breathing before entering back into the fray of life. In offering ourselves even momentary retreat we set the intent to not overextend ourselves or lose ourselves to the outer world, but to give our spirit appropriate time alone.

Like stone, my fortress is solid! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Like stone, my fortress is solid!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

As we give ourselves permission to retreat we also give ourselves permission to reenergize and maintain our power to live life on our own terms. It’s something I worked hard for, as many of you do too, and it’s not something I will very easily give up. So I gladly accept the advice of my dreaming self, taking time for spiritual study, retreat and renewal!

From the center of my 25 stone retreat,

Chuck’s Place: The Right Of Insatiability?

Just keep it simple! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Just keep it simple!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In an economics class in my early undergraduate years of study, a professor stated that human needs were ever-growing, and must be met. This, he stated, was human nature and our economic system was structured to meet those demands. I challenged this unquestioned, sacrosanct commandment that growing needs and demands must be met.

How many parents would agree that their children’s ever-growing “needs” and “demands” are sacred rights that must be met? Needs are indeed a core element of human existence, but limitation is equally a part of life. Catering to needs without limitation is a recipe for disaster, in this case leading to sustained childhood and immaturity.

On the world stage, the impact of this recipe for disaster is palpable as the burning of fossil fuels pushes us ever closer to extinction. And yet I hear even Alan Chartock, the very intelligent President of and commentator on WAMC/Northeast Radio, suggesting that fracking in New York is inevitable given the endless demand for more energy. Again, I hear demand as an unquestionable, unstoppable sacred right that we will even let bring total destruction to the home of our physical bodies, planet Earth!

It is hard not to feel powerless and defeated as we watch the world melt before our eyes. However, as Laurens van der Post—Jung’s friend and biographer—once assured me, Jung was convinced that a monumental change in an individual would indeed change the world.

We are all holograms of the greater world. Cast a light on any of us individually and you will find the world; as within so without.

Following this axiom, we are all empowered to change the world by addressing the mirror of insatiability that reflects deep within our own lives. What is it that we are addicted to? What insatiable need and demand reigns unchecked in our lives? What is it we cannot get enough of or do without? Is it self-importance? Can we not help but check our Facebook likes and status? Can we not turn off our cell phones—even to sleep, shower, make love, eat, drive or watch a movie?

Are we addicted to the critic of failed perfection chanting away inside us? Does the voice of failure, doom and gloom dominate every waking moment and every night of sleeplessness, unchecked by limitation? Are we caught in the ceaseless throes of self-pity, itself a bottomless pit of tortured need, unchecked by any limitation? Are we driven by compulsive actions to fill our voids with substance, “love,” worry, and more and more stuff?

If we look hard enough, we will find insatiability in some form in all of us. Even extreme modesty can mask an insatiable need to control the self; even control requires limitation if it is not to secretly harbor an unchecked addiction to power.

Decide what our true needs are and flow from there? Sounds like a good idea! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Decide what our true needs are and flow from there?
Sounds like a good idea!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Deciding to use less power, to buy a fuel efficient car for instance, does not necessarily solve the energy insatiability issue. First of all, we must question whether an ego addiction to being “better than” or “smarter than” isn’t hiding behind the persona of environmental consciousness. If this be the case we are not advancing beyond a fixation at the level of insatiability. Truly conquering insatiability requires brutal honesty with the self. We must cut through all our self-illusions and face the truth of our habits. Why do we really do what we do? Are we ready to move beyond our addiction to insatiability?

Decisions and behaviors that flow purely from the true needs of the self will accept the limits necessary to maintain health and balance. Every individual who brings themselves into this alignment steps beyond the myth of the sacred right to insatiability. Every individual who achieves this maturity advances beyond illusion into energetic reality where insatiability is properly housed as the quest of spirit to journey into the unfathomable, into infinity, sober of spirit, unending in flight. Ready for that insatiable quest?

Going beyond,

A Day in a Life: Transforming Fear

Is there really anything to fear? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Is there really anything to fear?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

It’s surprising how the first reaction to disturbing dreams is fear. It’s the ego trying to assert itself.

When we fall asleep and dream, momentarily exiting the restless body and mind that we inhabit for most of our lives, we access our ethereal body. Absent of ego, we are freed to travel into a world of symbols, archetypes, and energetic possibilities far beyond our waking conscious lives. Though for the most part hidden from waking consciousness, we nonetheless bump into and engage these same meaningful aspects of life as we go about our daily lives. As we live out our psychological makeup and interact with others, these symbols and archetypes live out and interact along with us. In dreaming, however, like bees gathering nectar that they will take back to the hive to produce sweet honey, we too have the opportunity to take what we encounter in our dreams back into waking consciousness for deeper understanding of who we are.

During my recapitulation I dreamed a slew of dreams about snakes. Frightened of snakes, I saw them at first as evil energy until one day I was given a new insight: Snakes are healing! I was so stuck on my fear of snakes that I could only see them as scary and dangerous. How could they possibly mean anything else? How could they possibly be positive symbols?

As soon as I grasped the concept, however, I knew it was the truth: snakes are symbols of healing and transformative energy. After that insight, things began to change rapidly for me, both in my dreaming and my waking life. As snakes regularly shed their skins in a cyclical process of death and birth, so is recapitulation a similar process, a shedding an old self to gain access to a new self. Snake medicine was showing me how the symbols in my dreams were clearly part of my recapitulation and that the recapitulation that I was undertaking in conscious daily life was equally intertwined with my energetic dreaming self. I was being given meaningful symbols in my dreams that were helping me to gain greater understanding of who I was and what was in store for me as I did my deep inner work.

Recently, I dreamed a frightening dream. At least that was my first reaction. This time, however, it was not a snake that jolted me awake but a spider clinging to my nose! In the dream I was standing between two worlds. On the left was a lush forest. A light being lay like the dying Buddha on his side in the trees of this lush forest. On the right, surrounded by shadows, stood a healer, a dark haired man who was a doctor. As the dream began I was emerging from the earth. Covered in dirt, roots, worms and bugs I emerged spitting and shaking from the wet rich soil at my feet. I stood over a square white table and shook out my hair, watching the debris fall onto the white surface. I pulled bugs from my hair, asking each of the beings if they were ticks. Each time I asked the bug would fly off. Knowing that ticks do not fly I was immediately soothed. Neither of the beings answered any of my questions. They simply observed. Suddenly, a large translucent amber-colored spider was clinging to the tip of my nose, spraying venom into my mouth. Spitting and gagging I tried to remove the spider, but it clung tenaciously. I was aware that I did not want to injure or kill it, but I wanted it off! I showed the spider to both of the beings but neither of them reacted, they simply shrugged their shoulders as if to say, “Whatever.” I feared that the venom would be bitter and detrimental, but in fact it had no taste and I was not harmed by it, but still there was another part of me that just wanted the spider off my nose! As I struggled to remove the spider I woke up dripping with water, earth and bugs, totally freaked out.

As I analyzed the dream, it became clear that it was a healing dream and not the poisoning situation that I first reacted to. My ego self was both offended and frightened by the spider clinging to my nose, but I knew it had to be something pretty significant. My first reaction upon awakening was that there was something wrong with me, that I was ill, or putting the wrong foods into my mouth, but then I remembered that in the Hopi creation myths Spider Grandmother was an important figure, as she consciously wove the world. Before long I realized that, much like my snake dreams during my recapitulation, this was a dream about birthing new awareness. I was birthed in full consciousness this time, as opposed to previous lives when I was birthed into life in forgetfulness. As I studied the dream, I began to see its beauty and power, its symbolism clear, the archetypes of which it was made up clear as well. I readily let go of my frightened ego, so eager to reassert its superiority, and sided with my awakened—in more ways than one—spiritual self.

I came away from this dream more thankful for my dreaming process, knowing that our dreams, as much as they take us into other states and other realms, tie directly in with our evolutionary process here on earth. If we are to truly understand the meaning of those other states and realms, we must first figure out the meaning of our lives here and now. From my own experiences, I can only conclude that the meaning of our lives is to become fully conscious of our energetic potential and then use it to evolve.

Everything is cyclical... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Everything is cyclical…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The spider, like the snakes of my previous dreams, represented infinity and the cyclical nature of everything. She really was saying that I must watch what I put into myself, both into my physical body and into my ethereal body, both of them vitally important as I navigate this life. Only healing food and healing endeavors must enter me. There was a soberly calm part of me that knew this even while I dreamed.

In addition, when I looked more closely at who the light being and the dark being were, I knew they were representing both birth and death, past and future, but also that they were one and the same, each representing a beginning and an ending, an opportunity for shedding and birthing. It became clear that those beings were also me, and as I know myself on a deeper level and experience my energetic self, I know there is nothing to fear in those big moments of transition. Like the spider or the snakes of my dreams, those beings were representing my wholeness. They patiently waited for me to answer all my own questions, knowing full well that all the answers lie within. Indeed, everything becomes increasing clear as I study the dream. My ego is further removed now too, not as necessary as it once was; no need to protect. I am on a new journey now.

I am also certain that if we can begin to imagine ourselves as living in a dream all the time, viewing the symbolism of our experiences in life that same way we view the symbolism our dreams offer us, we can more readily gain access to the mystery and magic of our lives as a whole. Fear and the ego play a critical role in how we decide to interpret both our dreams and what happens to us in waking life, but we can decide to use all our encounters with fear and the ego to advance ourselves now. Are we really dreaming all the time? Why wait until the next life to find out?

Doing it now!