All posts by Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Psychic Hygiene

The body works feverishly to protect us from outside invaders such as bacteria and viruses. The psyche, the mental self, is similarly challenged to protect us from disturbing thoughts, feelings, and anxieties that originate within the mind, as well as those that stream into us from the outside world.

Experience the calmness of nature within and without…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We humans are extremely suggestible beings, quick to be influenced or rattled by inner thoughts and outer events. Behind it all we are well protected by our ancient natural defenses that unconsciously take over to defend and preserve our sanity in the face of real danger. Evidence of this ancient archetypal defense system is staggering, as the powerful psychic mechanisms that take control during trauma reveal.

In countless examples, trauma victims have been served by ancient inner programs that encapsulate their trauma, keeping it unknown to the fledgling ego that strives, while under attack, to maintain its tentative hold on reality and its cohesive identity while being overwhelmed by shattering assault. The decision to “forget” in trauma is not a conscious one; it is a function of a far more instinctive self that knows what is needed for survival. Sometimes we need to forget for a while, sometimes for a long while.

Human beings are additionally equipped with ego consciousness, which can supplement nature’s deeper defenses and greatly improve psychic hygiene. As we live now in a world in the very early stages of major transformation, with instability in governance and terror daily breaking through its unstable seams, we must take conscious responsibility to stabilize our own psychic balance, that is, we must do our conscious best to supplement the defenses of our ancient self.

With respect to potential psychic infection from the outside world, the ego really does have vast control over the influx of outside energy. In a nutshell, where we put our attention largely decides what comes into us.

In our time, social media is a huge raging river of collective energy that greatly excites and equally exhausts our psychic energy but also can vastly impact moods—highs and lows—as well as our ability to process objectively all that barrages us. The decision to limit exposure to social media promotes psychic balance; it offers as well the opportunity to step back and begin to think for oneself. Collective energy can usurp one’s identity. We can be swept into a tribal identity, losing the boundaries of our “individual” self, losing also the ability to think for ourselves.

The partisan divide currently infecting the whole world can, as well, seduce us into one polarized corner or another. We are in an either/or state right now that does not see resolution in a reconciliation with the opposites but calls for unity through divisiveness. Divisiveness in the psyche sets the stage for psychic disunity, as the disenfranchised parts of the psyche will rebel, usually through disturbing symptoms of anxiety, dread, panic, fear or rage.

Suspending judgment toward all groups in the world, regardless of their political persuasion, with an eye toward understanding the why of differences, can create greater empathy and inclusiveness for all points of view and all peoples. This in turn promotes inner calmness within the self and reflects greater inner acceptance of even the most recalcitrant aspects of the self!

Inwardly, the attitude of ego consciousness toward the vaster unconscious self is a critical determinant of psychic health. For instance, if the ego rules daily life through a narcissistic self-centered lens, it is likely to alienate itself from the rest of  the self, with the result again being far-reaching symptoms, even perhaps the manifestation of bodily disease in an attempt to physically communicate the reactions of the deeper self toward the ego’s non-inclusive leadership in the affairs of daily life.

If the ego can see its role as ascertaining and caring for the true needs of the overall self versus its narrow special interests, then the unconscious will be grateful and better poised to support its ego partner. This can be established through remembering, recording and contemplating the dreams dreamed each night. Dreams remain the royal road to the unconscious, they are a latent golden portal to the deeper self, awaiting just a little attention.

As well, a willingness to calm frantic energy through meditation and a practice such as pranayama breathing can allow for a still heart that communicates objective truths, perhaps even suggesting actions for the ego to follow. This inner relationship with different parts of the self can lead to an inner harmony, greatly promoting psychic hygiene.

An overall willingness to introvert daily—that is, to pull attention away from outside energy, to be calm in nature for instance, or simply content within the confines of the self—is perhaps the most important ego practice to counter the overpowering extroverted draw of our time and restore psychic balance.

There are still rocky seas before us, but good psychic hygiene can provide the necessary ark of awareness to safely maintain our balance through the troubled waters of our times.

Sailing versus assailing,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Letting Grow

When it’s time to leave the nest, it’s time to leave the nest! In this respect our ancient ancestors, much closer to inner nature’s wisdom, obeyed two major rules: the incest taboo and puberty initiation rites.

This handsome dude is off to make it on his own…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The incest taboo is nearly universal in our species. Perhaps its most important function is to create a limited situation that forces the child to leave home and grow up. If the option remained available to have all needs met at home, including sexual needs, a regressive potential in humans to stay in the family home, safe and satiated, would clearly result! The human animal must leave home to mature.

The puberty rites of our ancient ancestors survive mostly on a symbolic level today, in religious traditions such as confirmation and bar/bat mitzvahs. The difference between ancient initiation rites and those practiced today is that our modern practices end with the newly initiated continuing to remain in the family home as children, cared for by parents. In ancient times children returned to their villages as adults, often never to return to their family home, in many situations never to speak with their parents again. These children really became adults. The community recognized, treated and expected them to be adults.

Our modern world, with its lengthy process of education, often extending into the late 20s and early 30s, dissociates young people from nature’s deepest push to become independent citizens truly capable of standing on their own. Furthermore, with such emphasis on family ties and closeness throughout life, emotional ties are encouraged to deepen within the family, dampening truly independent maturity and self-sufficiency out in the world.

Letting go is painful, both for parents and children. Parents must suffer the terror that their children might get hurt or not be able to hold their own in the world. The guilt and fear that they didn’t do enough or did things wrong can be overwhelming, yet when it’s time for the children to go parents must be able to close the door and suffer the separation.

Children too must face life out in the world on their own, learning how things work through trial and error, for truly very few people navigate life unscathed. With our modern cultures so devoid of true initiation rites young people seek all sorts of self-imposed initiations. The tattoos and piercings so prominent in our modern world are such self-imposed surface symbols of initiation, images born from deep within the child’s own psyche of ancient practices now manifesting as mere outer stylings. Often young people go deep into the challenges of addiction, also reminiscent of the fierce challenge of ancient puberty rites, which sometimes ended in death.

Sometimes children find themselves arrested for drug related crimes, resulting in imprisonment, a situation that forces both child and parent to be initiated into a world where there can be no parental savior, where the young person is challenged to survive on his or her own inner resources on the road to separation and adulthood.

In my personal experience, the underlying loving connection and parental protection that I bestowed upon my children may have contributed to both of my sons challenging themselves with every parent’s greatest terror, heroin and crystal meth. It took years of rescuing, countless near-misses with death, and plenty of emotional exhaustion for me to finally cut the cord and let nature take its course.

With one son, I had no contact for three years. We are connected again; the addiction has passed and love indeed survives, but the separation truly was an initiation rite. I suffered inordinate amounts of pain but never backtracked, regardless of the fact that each moment might have been my son’s last.

What has emerged is a mature adult who stands on his own. I notice that we meet now as if we shared no past. There is no sentimentality of childhood. We meet as equal adults, beings who barely know each other. The emotional attachment of parent to child has transformed; it has completely evolved into mature love.

We cannot get away from nature’s archetypes. Eventually they will play out in some form of modern drama, even as we humans continue to ignore and confound our own deepest nature. Perhaps we will find our way back to the ancient imperatives within us, to new puberty rites that are better suited to our times. The whole issue around addiction might lose its grip if we truly submit to initiation by nature’s design.

Really letting grow ultimately means releasing all of our attachments in this world. If we can’t let everything go when we die, we sow the seeds of karma, because how can life proceed into new journeys if we refuse to let go and move on? Not an easy life challenge, but it must be why we are really here in Earth School, to love, to attach, and to allow love to mature and transform when it is time to grow and move on.

Honor thy parents, teach your children well, let go and let grow,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Look In or Lookout!

We are all responsible for the world dream. We are all empowered to steer it to safety. Like the minutest slices of a hologram, we all encapsulate, within the borders of our individual selves, all the energies manifesting in the world.

Time to pull inward?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Like the Taoist rainmaker—who, sealed in his hut alone, brought forth the rains to the parched world when he calmed the energetic drought within himself, returning himself to the tao, to oneness with the natural world—we individually can calm the warring energies without ourselves, whereby delivering peace and calm to the world.

The shamans call it intent, Abraham calls it the Law of Attraction and  C. G. Jung called it synchronicity. No matter what you call it, the technique is the same: build a wall around the self, be with the facts of the self, achieve order within the self and thus manifest stability without.

The outer world currently mirrors our personal inner struggle. We seek safety, we want to be saved. In early societies the tribe would turn to the medicine man for cure. In our time the medicine man we manifested is Trump. Assigned the role of savior, the medicine man is granted far-reaching power and this can be dangerous for the tribe. Thus, in early societies there was dual leadership, a chief and a medicine man. The chief was the worldly leader, the medicine man the spiritual leader.

Jung viewed Hitler, in 1939, as a medicine man, looked upon by the German people as a savior. When posed the question by a reporter—what would happen if Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini were locked together in a room for one week with only one loaf of bread and one pitcher of water?—Jung replied that Hitler would likely pout in the corner and refuse to eat while Stalin and Mussolini fought over the food and water. Incidentally, he felt that ultimately Stalin would win, the Russians having the strongest power motive. Gives one pause, with Mr. Putin in charge today!

The current outer manifestation of our psychic inner reality shows a child ego state seeking a world savior to deliver it from danger and provide the elixir to paradise on Earth. The medicine man thus manifested offers instinctive strong medicine, a cure-all to cure all. Meanwhile, the medicine man truly is not a chief, yet he is enjoying unprecedented power.

Meanwhile, beneath the surface are a couple of well-organized power drives, biding their time, awaiting their opportunity to seize control of the collective psyche. In a nutshell, a combination of bad medicine and partisan leadership that, in fact, unabashedly reveal our true shadow, the dark side, which everyone has. This shadow has covertly been in control, while on the surface it presents golden values and intentions. Perhaps the medicine man is outing the shadow? Which is good. However, should the shadow be the chief?

Bringing this discussion back to the individual—the slice of the hologram that we each are—we must first face our own child ego state, the part of us that wants to be rescued, protected, and made to feel secure. What medicines do we turn to? Substances, relationships, obsessions, making money, hoarding, etc., to rescue us from our fears? How attached are we to these medicines provided to us by our inner medicine man/woman? Are we willing to refuse the seductive trance of this inner figure and take responsibility for where we are, why we suffer, and what we really need to do?

Addressing this level of inner truth, we can face more honestly the hidden power drives that seek to rule the personality. If we look to the outer mirror, at the chiefs in the world, we see the motives of greed and dominance. These are the shadow ego states of the child ego state currently running the show.

In chakra terms, these impassioned shadow ego states are busily battling for control at the level of the solar plexus, the third chakra, the place of power and will. If we can identify these power drives, within the self, and bring stability to the personal psyche through achieving calm in the body, i.e. through conscious meditation breath, we become freed of the states of possession where these drives do nothing but feast for themselves. In effect, we tame the power drives within to serve the real needs of the self. This consolidates and raises an adult ego state to the status of chief of the personality.

Through dreams and active imagination our adult ego state gets to know, value, confront, and find the rightful place for all these characters within us, as they constantly vie to take control of the personality at the expense of a harmonized individuation, that is, becoming who we truly are.

These processes, of looking inwardly and taking responsibility for all that is there, reshape our slice of the hologram and impact the entire world hologram, life as we know it, the dream that we all uphold.

Look no further than looking in, for this is the source of our real power. Failure to look in will always manifest a world where, indeed, we must lookout!

“When you have the right relationship to yourself, that means freedom.” *

Working on it,

Chuck

* -Catherine Rush Cabot’s note from a session with Jung, December 1939 from Jung, My Mother and I edited by Jane Cabot Reid

The Monogamy Dialogues: Sacred Sex

Why is sex so unsatisfying?

At its animal core, sex is an instinct, a biological urgency that comes and goes at nature’s prompting, on nature’s time, toward nature’s end. Most sex in nature appears particularly fast and violent and rarely results in a lasting relationship, in fact, for most animals it results in no postcoital connection.

Create sacred time… consciously…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In contrast, the human animal, freed from its purely instinctual promptings can choose to engage in sex at will. Consciousness, what we refer to as spirit, introduces the possibility of choice as to when one might engage in sex.  For instance we might say, “I love you all the time, but sex is sacred. It needs its own time and space, sacred time.” Animals never have this choice.

Additionally, consciousness, when applied to sexual energy, enables it to be elaborated into a union within the self in the merging of physical and energy bodies—the two distinct human components: matter and spirit—as well as the possibility of a profound union with another human being, as well as a complete merger into the experience of cosmic oneness.

The word sacred means to set apart, to make holy, to consecrate. The decision to set apart, to regulate the sexual instinct for the holy purpose of consecration, that is, a transformation into a numinous experience of oneness with self  or with self and another being, is the intent of sacred sex.

To set aside a definite time for sexual union separates sex from its biological dominance, raising it to an honored, holy status. Hormones have their own timetables, but deciding the day of union is completely spirit based. Spirit says to body, “I invite you to be fully present, fully engaged, at this time and place. I am fully prepared to receive and join with you, this is my solemn commitment.”

Much of life can be dominated by the biological pressure and mental preoccupation with sex. That pressure in an individual may encourage frequent masturbation, in couples an ever-present expectation or burden. Setting aside a definite day within which sacred sex will occur relieves, ultimately, the individual or couple of this animal dominance of being.

At first, of course, the animal will resist. What horse or dog willingly allows itself to be tamed and trained? However, once the instinct sees that this is how it is, that it must wait, patiently, but that ultimately it will be rewarded with deep union and release, it will get on board.

Getting on board means accepting the set-apart time as the time, the only time, the sacred time of sex. All other time is not the time, hence, sexual thoughts, feelings and sensations must be stored to allow for mastery and refinement of formerly unbridled instinct.

And then, when it is time, it is time, sacred time. The commitment is to show up at the agreed upon, set-apart time, body and spirit. Just as the body had to submit to waiting, the spirit must submit to fully showing up, regardless of inner resistance. In the case of partner sex this is not about fulfilling an obligation to another, this is about honoring a sacred commitment to self. Marital duty, for instance, has no place in sacred sex.

Of course, the quality of each meeting is unique. Each partner must be extremely sensitive to the being it seeks to join with. Body has its definite needs, wants and desires, but spirit has its own intentions. To bring the two together in deep union requires a genuine meeting of both these bodies, physical and spiritual. The depth of each meeting depends upon how deeply each of these bodies is connected with, within and without. True connection requires deep knowing of self and other.

The practice of sacred sex is always unique, the growing closeness cumulative. The utter freedom and playfulness, in its sacred, set-apart time and space, allows for a merging with the divine that lives completely outside of time and space.

The rules are simple: deep respect, no coercion, plan with sincerity and openness, show up, see what happens. Obviously, sex needn’t be sacred sex to be right, but sacred sex is offered as a potential mature practice. Have fun with the planning too, make it special, allow no interferences in your sacred time and sacred space; keep it holy.

Even Reni Murez, a direct apprentice of Carlos Castaneda, Carol Tiggs, Florinda Donner-Grau, and Taisha Abelar, acknowledges that although shamans store and use their sexual energy for conscious dreaming and out-of-body travel they also must balance their humanness. After all, they are currently here in human animal form just like the rest of us. Reni agrees that setting apart a special time for sex, be it once weekly, monthly, yearly, or once a decade, provides a sacred opportunity for human union, but also allows for sexual energy to be used at other times for other spiritual work.

No partner? No problem! Either save sexual energy for future union, with the intention that the right relationship will come to pass and that the stored energy will not be taken or squandered but used as planned, or engage in sacred sexual union with self alone, merging spirit and physical body in love.

Physical limitations? With spirit involved nothing is impossible! Perhaps the playing field might move over into dreaming where energy body and physical body can experience the deepest sexual union. Here sacred sex asks the dreaming intent to take over and arrange the magical, sacred meeting outside of time and space.

To get back to the question with which we opened this blog—why is sex so unsatisfying?—we propose the following: it simply isn’t sacred enough! We offer the path of sacred sex as a path of heart.

Of course, if one is in the midst of traumatic recapitulation or a spiritual practice that requires sexual abstinence, the practice of sacred sex is one of sacrifice and abstinence, as the energy of union is deployed toward healing and spiritual transformation instead. Nonetheless, such deployment can be understood as sacred sex employed to the needs and intent of self for the highest good. Indeed a path of heart!

Keeping it holy,

Chuck & Jan

Chuck’s Place: Can’t Find Me Love

Too pretty…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The truth is, we all suffer from an inferiority complex. Those we admire and aspire to be like either hide their’s really well or have truly come to embrace it.

And what is an inferiority complex?

Most of us could start with our bodies: too short, too tall, too skinny, too fat, too big, too small, too much, too little, etc.

Then of course there are our moral shortcomings: too lazy, too shy, undisciplined, unfocused, deceitful, lustful, jealous, power-driven, power-avoidant, self-centered, etc., to say nothing of all our bad habits!

Then there are the workings of our minds: can’t think, can’t feel, can’t be in our body senses, can’t imagine, can’t remember, etc.

Beyond all this there are the warehouses of all the terrible things we’ve thought, felt, and done in our lives. These are the sins of confessions, the personal inventory, all that we seek to forget or blot out from the true history of our lives.

The law of attraction coaches us to become singleminded in our intentions, to draw to us that which we wish to manifest. Of course, there is practical wisdom in this guidance, as prayer and mantra throughout the ages bear witness to. However, no one can manifest real love until they can acknowledge and love their own inferiority, every last bit of it.

Often we seek, in the eyes and hearts of another, a savior to free us from the prison of our inferiority. During the initial spell of blissful romance all inferiority disappears, becomes cute, or simply doesn’t matter. We glimpse the wholeness of complete self-acceptance in the blissful oneness with another. Through this fullness of acceptance we desperately seek to lift the ever-looming feeling of inferiority that nonetheless lurks in the background, stealthily waiting to attack and destroy any sign of loving acceptance of the self.

Those who briefly feel the relief of another’s love assuaging the ever-present disappointment in self, soon discover a compulsive need for constant outer reassurance. Or they simply decide that they’ve merely fooled the other person, for they simply cannot believe that that other person accepts their inferiority.

C. G. Jung was adamant that we must find compassion for the imperfect person, the monster, the eternal skeleton in the cupboard, the ugliest part of ourselves.

He himself could not stand to lose a game. He was notorious for cheating at both simple card games and more elaborate games he’d invent and play with his children. He had an affair with an unofficial second wife for decades with his wife’s full knowledge and painful acceptance. He overtly accepted and included his inferior shadow self into his life, knowing that to ignore it would be a bigger disaster. He also fully bore the tension his decisions created and, in advanced years, was able to admit to finally feeling great pain for the pain his inferior side had created for his wife. He could accept his imperfect self.

True wholeness requires that we accept all of our inferiorities, like the body parts we try so hard to hide. Perhaps it would do us animals well to spend some time in a nudist colony, to overcome our shame of our unacceptable body parts!

Too scared…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In the deepest sense, love is acceptance of all that we are. We will not be able to find true, soulful love until we can fully accept all of ourselves. Until then we will secretly harbor unlovability, endlessly swamped in the mire of our inferiority complexes.

Accepting our inferiorities puts us on the path to manifest true love, within and without.

Accepting,

Chuck