Tag Archives: bipolar

Chuck’s Place: Living In & Out of Time

A young child dreams of seven white geese marching down a street. All the people the geese walk past fall down dead. Surprisingly, C. G. Jung suggests that this is a favorable dream, that this is nature, via the dream, introducing the young child to the world of time. Everything passes. To the child’s world of timelessness, still bathed in the myths and depths of the collective unconscious, life and death are introduced, including her own awareness of herself as a mortal being in this world.

Day and night, time and timelessness…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Life in this world is a bipolar affair. We all grapple with it. At one pole we feel our link to the timeless, as we often live as if we have forever! Though we may negatively judge this ‘slothful’ attitude, it nonetheless is a link to  infinite life in timelessness, as an energy body or spirit. At the other pole is the truth of aging and mortality in a physical body, observed and experienced in fading life within and all around us.

At the beginning of every day the Shamans of Ancient Mexico say: “We are beings who are going to die.” This is their intent to keep their awareness fully present to their limited time and opportunity for life in this world. We are all beings saddled with the bipolar conundrum of life and death.

What Jung highlighted in this young child’s fall from innocence was the introduction of change, which happens when we enter life in time. Everything passes in time. Accepting this basic truth helps us to feel and release a wave of sadness. The pain of loss will eventually pass. In the world of time things mature and change and new possibilities for life will arise.

If we are gripped by a craving or passion, we know, if we hold on, that the compulsion will eventually pass. We may not be ready yet, we may still be too attached to the timeless pole of our being that accepts no limitations, but eventually we may be ready to inhabit our corporeal reality and accept the limitations of life in the body.

The great advantage of life in time, in a physical body, is that we are freed to complete our unique experience of life, what Jung called individuation. In time we unfold into the discovery and fulfillment of all that we are. We begin new things, be they careers, relationships, gardens, or books. We can nurture and live the course of these engagements to completion because in time, for better of worse, everything passes.

In time we can answer the questions of our ancestors and pose new ones for ourselves. To fully individuate in our life in time we must recapitulate. If we leave fragments of our lives unknown to ourselves we will not be able to integrate the full knowledge of our journey and we will leave behind questions that must be answered before completion. Perhaps this is the basis for reincarnation, bardo life, or time in purgatory.

My wife Jan lived in Sweden for several years during her twenties. She always felt she went there to fulfill something unfinished in a past life, to connect with and live out unfinished business with people who had once been very important to her. She was welcomed there with open arms, loved unconditionally, and she loved fully and unconditionally in return. She fully embraced being Swedish, learned the language quickly and fluidly, and did all things Swedish like a true Swede. When it was done, it was done. Time to move on and return to life in present time.

Into infinity…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

My first wife, Jeanne, also completed unfinished business, though she did it in spirit form, after her physical death, reconnecting with the birth mother she never knew in her life as Jeanne Ketchel. It was the completion of her lives on earth, her final chapter in space and time, described in the final chapter of The Book of Us, channeled through Jan.

For although everything does pass in time, that which is not fully realized must be completed somewhere, somehow before we are fully freed to move on in timelessness. As everything passes, as we complete our many paths of individuation, we enter infinity, enriched by our lives and ready to explore new paths of heart, in and out of time.

Finding the timeless in time,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Positively Negative

Sometimes life is defined, balanced, black and white... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Sometimes life is defined, balanced, black and white…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We live in a world of polarities. We come into life; we die. You can’t have one without the other; they are opposite sides of the same coin. To obtain the full value of that two-sided coin we must integrate both of its sides, positive and negative. By merging this seeming opposition into its true wholeness we allow fulfillment in this life and at death, as we seek to continue resolved of this life.

If we consider being positive as seeing the good qualities, the brighter side of life, we can see how a positive attitude invites openness, joining and expansion in our life decisions. Conversely, if we see being negative as a focus on the bad qualities of someone or something, we can see how a negative attitude helps us to create sharp boundaries and separateness, conservatively generating protection from the potential ill-effects of contact beyond the self.

In effect, positive moves us toward greater union, negative maintains protective boundaries. From this perspective we can appreciate both positive and negative as necessary attitudes to regulate and navigate life.

If I am to remain open to new life, be it through a relationship, experience or opportunity, I must be able to see the potential good in all of these situations. On the other hand, if I am to properly protect myself I must be open to seeing the predatory and dangerous potential in all encounters with living beings and life’s offerings.

Successful navigation of life necessitates the ability to integrate both negative and positive perspectives. We are all bipolar beings who must find the right balance of positive and negative perspectives. Bipolar disorder is actually a failure to find a constructive integration of these bipolar attitudes.

In deep inner work we seek to integrate the opposites... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
In deep inner work we seek to integrate the opposites…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In extreme cases we see a lack of corrective balance between poles where an individual clings too rigidly to one pole or another. For example, an extreme attachment to the positive pole can lead to such expansiveness that one gives up sleeping, hits the casinos and exhausts a life’s savings on a whim, seeing no need for limitation.

At the other extreme, over-attachment to the negative pole can lead to such a deep sense of futility in engaging in life that one might sink into a suicidal depression. In actuality, bipolar disorder leads to powerful mood swings. Eventually, the clinging to one pole exhausts into the opposite side, be it from negative to positive or visa-versa.

We live in a time where negativity and cynicism dominate. On one level this is an honest reaction to the expansive one-sided attitude of wealth and capital that sees no need for limitation, sharing, or protection of the environment.

However, when negativity is overly dominant it tends to generate a feeling of powerlessness, with little energy left to make any effort toward positive change. While we need to respect the truths that the negative perspective reveals, we must also be mindful of becoming too polarized to this extreme, which can lead to inertia and indifference.

On the other hand, sometimes depression is necessary, as life as it has been lived must be halted while we go inward to find the seeds of new positive life. Seedlings require care and attention, as does bringing new parts of the self into life. This is not the time of rapid expansion indicative of a dominantly positive attitude.

In our wholeness we become centered, light and dark in balance... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
In our wholeness we become centered, light and dark in balance…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Even in the midst of a depression, however, I generally suggest remaining positively negative. That is, to hold onto the positive knowing that even a depression is but a stage in the birth of new life with its eventual return to expansiveness that in due time will recede and acquiesce to even newer life, as we take our ever-evolving journey.

On that infinite journey,
Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Life is Bipolar

“Dad! Nathan and I just did the giant slingshot! We shot way up into the sky overlooking Myrtle Beach; it was awesome! I feel so great, I’ve never felt like this in my life!”

Ten minutes later, a second phone call:

“Dad. We just got back to where I parked my car. It’s gone, they towed it away. I’m so depressed, I’ve never felt this bad in my life.”

“Well Erica, you’ve just experienced, firsthand, bipolar disorder—a better lesson than you’ll ever get in a psychopathology class at school.”

It is the consequence of bouncing between polar extremes that gives bipolar a bad name, but the truth is that all life is produced and powered by two mutually dependent opposing energies. In my daughter’s experience these opposing energies are opposite ends of the same system. What goes up must come down. What goes way up must come way down.

Everything that exists is a composite of opposing energies. All elements are constituted of opposing energies that bond them together. Electricity contains positive and negative energies, which combined create power. Daily life requires day and night—awake active time and sleep dormant time to rejuvenate and sustain itself. We strive for order but hunger for chaos. The light or ‘rational day’ dims to the irrational release of the night. Boredom is the result of too much living in the day. Addiction is too much living in the night. The human challenge is to reconcile these bipolar energies within the self. Most problems in life arise from an overattachment to one or the other opposing energies. True reconciliation must include an acceptance and joining of both of these primal energies.

In the East, this human dilemma is energetically seen in the spine of the human body. At the base of the spine, in the sacrum bone, resides Kundalini Shakti, a primordial cosmic energy, the divine feminine creative power, corporeal energy at the feminine pole. Kundalini lies coiled up like a snake, dormant, awaiting awakening. At the crown of the head resides Vishnu, the supreme masculine god, associated with light and the sun. Many yogic practitioners focus meditation upon awakening Kundalini to rise through the chakras and ultimately merge with Vishnu in transcendent bliss.

In the East, this androgynous bipolar nature in humans—that is, as containers of both masculine and feminine energy—is depicted in gods with genitalia of both sexes. In the West, these primal energies have been completely polarized and assigned to respective sexes: men as masculine energy, women as feminine energy. The contrasexual nature in both men and women is projected outwardly onto members of the opposite sex, or onto members of the same sex who nonetheless personify opposite energy. Herein lies the compulsion to relationship in the West. If we are sex-typed to only one of our primal energies we are compelled to seek the other in relationship in order to achieve wholeness and completion. The inner mysterious other energy can only be found ‘out there’ in another. We must find it, possess it, and merge with it, after all, it is us—we cannot live without it.

Of course, the opposition inherent in these opposing energies is no less challenging to resolve in relationship than it is in doing years of meditation and yogic practice. People enter relationships, briefly, under the romance of felt wholeness—having finally joined with their lost other, their soul mate—only to shortly encounter the conflicts that naturally arise between polar opposites.

One polar energy always seeks to control or dominate the other. Each wants the world their way. Compromise, more often than not, results in secret resentment. Well-ordered agreement often results in secret chaotic affair. True relationship, deep intimacy, requires a genuine meeting and joining of Kundalini and Vishnu, not a meeting of power and subservience.

The split and projection of polar energies in the Western psyche is also evident in the rise of science and the downfall of organized religion. Religion once ruled the world; early scientists were put to death. In the modern world, though many in the West affiliate with a particular religion, it’s far less a spiritual affair and more of a social identity. Now science rules.

Actually, modern Western religion aligns itself more with science and rationality than it would appear. The deep connection to spirituality—the feminine power of intuition and religious or numinous experience—split off from the tightly controlled, rule-based rational church and synagogue long ago and found life in the secret traditions of alchemy, the Kabbalah, astrology, and the like. We read the weather report to satisfy our rational, ordered lives and the horoscope to feed our mysterious, intuitive, irrational lives.

With the election of Obama, America, and frankly the entire world, saw the transfer of power from the masculine pole to the feminine pole. It’s not just racism that seeks to unseat and destroy Obama; it’s a black and white issue at a deeper level. Blackness is associated with the darkness, the night, the earth, the maternal, the feminine, the mysterious, the irrational, the Kundalini energy of the self. In our fragmented Western world, whiteness—bright, light, rational, masculine energy—that has dominated the world for so long, in a deeply polarized fashion, leading to its current extremely precarious condition, is threatened and reacting with all the hysterics currently played out by the Republican party. Though Obama has, in actuality, fallen way short of Pachamama’s true need to be properly cared for, he nonetheless symbolizes a shift away from the long domineering, extremely polarized masculine energy bent on greed and destruction.

Looking elsewhere in the world, we see the same interplay of polarized energies, interestingly and relevantly, in the main players of World War II. Japan, who destroyed Pearl Harbor in a blast of masculine aggression that drew the United States into World War II, has been devastated by the recent tsunami, with Pachamama directing her energy at nuclear power plants.

On Memorial Day, Germany, the main perpetrator of abuse of masculine power in World War II, announced the decision to close all nuclear power plants over the next decade. Furthermore, Germany’s economy has grown slowly but steadily in the midst of the current world recession. This economic growth has not been at the expense of social programs and basic needs in Germany. Germany has been willing to grow less and take care of the needs of its citizens, as well as prepare to pay more for energy as it gives up nuclear power as a source of energy. Germany, with this decision, is doing the right thing for itself and the health of the world. Here we have a country that, after brutalizing the world and attempting to extinguish a scapegoated people, has emerged with a conscience and a new balance of masculine and feminine energies, showing genuine leadership in the modern world.

Finally, Israel—though well-prepared for prior to World War II, through a well-established Zionist movement—is a modern country created and sanctified as a compensation to a people nearly wiped out during World War II. Unfortunately, as subsequent history has proven, this did not go smoothly, as displaced Palestinians and Arab neighbors have not been so accepting of this decision by the Allied Powers. Israelis in turn, well-schooled by centuries of Diasporas and holocausts, dug in their heels to fiercely preserve their people and their homeland.

Today, that protective fierceness has polarized into dominance by masculine energy and a rigidity that Obama recently challenged by insisting that negotiation with the Palestinians be based on the 1967 border agreement. How will it play out? Resolution will require a reconciliation of the bipolar energies—clear boundaries (masculine pole) that care for the welfare of all peoples (feminine pole).

Our bipolar selves and bipolar world demand that we take on the challenge of finding our wholeness in acceptance and reconciliation of the opposing energies that we are. This requires owning our bipolar nature and forging a relationship with opposing energies. There are hopeful signs in the world now that our bipolar disorder may find its way into the balance of a new bipolar order.

Bi! Bi!
Chuck