Tag Archives: instinct

Chuck’s Place: Innate and Spirit Entitlement

In balance… within and without…

All newborn babies turn their heads toward the nipple and make sucking movements. This is an inborn program called the rooting reflex that prepares the baby to procure nourishment in the form of milk from the breast. Jung called these universal inborn mental programs, that orchestrate such necessary adaptation and survival behaviors, archetypes. At nature’s insistence newborns are born with an entitled energy to suckle nurturance from the breast.

Entitlement has its roots in nature itself. The energy that the archetypes are naturally endowed with is the energy of entitlement. When an archetype is activated it is potentiated with powerful energy, the energy of entitlement, that allows it to achieve its fulfillment.

The entitled energy of the hunger instinct fuels our ability to work and accumulate goods, property, and money, allowing us to meet our most primal of needs. This instinct is quite primitive and has its roots in narcissism, with the primary focus given to the satisfaction of the body’s primary survival needs.

As we grow, our narcissistic fixation naturally enlarges to include the family, a unit dedicated to survival as a group. The family carves out its ownership of its living space, not to be transgressed by non-family members without an invitation. The family is poised to accumulate for itself and defend its ownership against the competing needs of others. Thus, there is a legitimate basis for entitlement in human physical existence: survival.

Jung observed that archetypes also give rise to spiritual values in humans. This spirit instinct in human beings often comes to life as a result of sacrifice. The initiation rituals of yesteryear that brutally tore the young from their entitled dependence upon family and sent them off to experiences outside of the known and familiar—the world of mother, father, and extended family—are one example of such sacrifice.

Through the archetype of ritual sacrifice, youth became adults and took on greater responsibility for the group beyond family of origin. Vestiges of theses archetypal strivings are seen today in the stylized piercings, tattoos, and drug adventures of young people seeking to cross the bridge to adulthood through some kind of self-initiated ritual sacrifice.

When spiritual values emerge they signal a maturity that takes into consideration the needs of others, beyond the narcissism of me and mine, awakening an energy of compassion that extends to all living beings. This spirit entitlement employs its energy to consider and care for everything beyond the self. Spirit orientation is in opposition to the hoarding attitude of the narcissistic orientation. Spirit employs its personal energy to care for the greater whole and accepts itself as part of that greater whole. Spirit orientation acts to extend entitlement as a broader human right.

Narcissistic orientation bemoans having to give away that which it needs and wants. Spirit, on the other hand, can tend to neglect, negate, or even denigrate the needs of the physical body, its working vehicle for this life.

I would propose that we are presently in an energetic World War between these two instinctual orientations: body instinct and spirit instinct. The current world leader, our own President, exemplifies entitlement at a very primal level. That is, its inherent right to consider only the needs of itself over the needs of the more inclusive world. The degree of support accorded this leader reflects how accurately he taps into the narcissistic underpinnings of survival at the primal, animal, level in all human beings.

What has given rise to our current state of world affairs is a breakdown in the application of the technology of sacrifice to effect spiritual transformation. At one extreme is a failure of the institutions of the modern world to provide effective rites of initiation at key stages of life. Without these rites many people fail to individuate into true adulthood and thus remain fixated at a child’s level of orientation toward the world, entitled and demanding.

At the other extreme is a total renunciation of the body for the benefit of the spirit. One example is the requirement of celibacy in the Catholic priesthood; sacrifice the lower for the sake of the higher. Though this technology of sacrifice was successful in establishing a life oriented toward altruistic concerns, it has created a tremendous body-shadow backlash. Just look at the incidences of sexual abuse among the ranks of the Catholic priests. The entitlement of the repressed sexual instinct has emerged from hiding, deviously preying upon the young and innocent.

In the political arena we see a similar eruption of repressed primal instinct asserting its entitlement to accumulate resources for itself only, casting out the unfamiliar ‘other’ to fend for itself. This is the shadow of American altruism, bursting forth now with a vengeance.

The determination of this entitlement is expressed in its blatant use of lies, misinformation, and manipulation as a necessary and acceptable means to care for its basic needs. No amount of reason or scientific proof can shake it from its deeply seated conviction that it is entitled to care only for its own needs.

At present the lines are firmly drawn between body and spirit, it’s either one way or the other. There is no room for compromise, as each side is absolutely in touch with their inalienable right of entitlement. And they are both right; we are animals and we are spirits. Perhaps the ultimate solution is encoded in the axiom: as above so below. The needs of the body are as important as the needs of the spirit, the needs of the self are as important as the needs of the planet.

Where might there be adjustments to bring these two into better confluence?  As the Pope laments the abuses of his church he might consider the fact that nuns have probably almost never committed sexual abuse, despite their same commitment to celibacy as their priestly male counterparts. If the technology of celibacy is to be maintained, perhaps nuns should be invited into the priesthood to lead the way.

On an individual level, we are invited to truly tune in to the wants and needs of our animal selves, as well as our spirit’s longing for greater wholeness with the universe. For instance, the practice of sacred sex joins body, spirit, and other, in joy, pleasure, and union at a physical/spiritual level.

On a planetary level, the Earth’s body has taken the lead. We are in the beginnings of massive transformation at a planetary level that will force us to be more in step with the true needs of the Earth’s body and atmosphere. For humans this is a spirit/body reconciliation. Respecting the body of the planet is both a spiritual love, moving beyond just the narcissism of self, as well as a deep connection to the physical: self and planet.

The key to reconciliation of our warring instincts is recognizing the legitimacy of entitlement for both body and spirit. Behind the off-putting extremism of today’s headlines are individuals identified with either one orientation or the other.

Can you outwardly appreciate the one-sidedness of your neighbor, but also its legitimacy, in some form? Can you inwardly recognize the one-sidedness of your own orientation and, yes, validate it in some form too? Can you give value and a place to the opposite side, whether it be body or spirit? That is the way to become an integrated, balanced whole being.

Balancing,

Chuck

The Killer Inside Me

I am about nine years old. It’s summertime. I go outside to ride my bike, which is parked in the front yard of our house in the bucolic, rural area in New York State where I live. Just as I reach out to the handlebars I pull back in utter disgust and fear. Some unknown green creature with long legs and wings and a fiercesome looking face is perched on the right handlebar. I almost touched it! What is that!

The strangest creature I had ever seen!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

It looks prehistoric, something I’ve never seen before in my life. I am overcome with fear and nausea. I whack it to the ground and step on it. Shaking, I stand there and look at its crushed body lying on the ground, oozing out disgusting slime, more sickening to look at than when it was alive. I can only feel that I had just saved my life!

At the same time that I feel this I also know that I have just killed a fellow creature and I feel really bad about that. I tell myself I was frightened by it. It looked prehistoric, like a scary small dinosaur, and I couldn’t help myself, which is true, I just reacted and killed it. Instinctual fear drove me to kill.

Years later I read about the praying mantis being an endangered species. It was then that I realized what I had killed that day. To my nine-year-old eyes what I saw was much larger and more frightening to behold than a real praying mantis ever was. At the time I had never seen such a thing and so I could not place it. It frightened me so much that I had to kill it. This was a reaction to the unknown. Sometimes an instinctual reaction crushes the harmless and the innocent in a primitive instinctual projection based on unfamiliarity.

A few years after this incident, when I was about fourteen, I was out with friends. We had come upon some wild grapes. Reaching into the tangle of vines to pick a nice bunch I suddenly felt something clinging to my face. I could not pull it off. I thought is was just a grape vine caught in my hair or something. I asked my friends to help get it off me. They pulled back in horror and screamed!

None of them came to the rescue so I grabbed hold of it, a sticky something clinging tightly, and pulled it off my face with all my might. I held it up and found myself staring at the weirdest creature I had ever seen, even weirder than that praying mantis—a walking stick! It was big enough to cover my entire face. It had straddled my nose and mouth and eyes, stretching from forehead to chin. It must have looked like I was wearing some kind of strange mask.

This time I held the strange creature in my hands long enough to get a good look at it. I’d heard of walking sticks before but had never actually seen a live one. This was huge! I stared at it, freaky though it was, and then placed it carefully back onto the grape vine. Now every time I see a walking stick I am reminded of this experience and I once again remember how I held in my fear and disgust and just looked at this curious creature who shares the world with us. He got to live because I did not let my fear kill him.

In the first scenario I encountered my killer instinct in an automatic reaction to the unknown in the guise of the praying mantis. In the second scenario, although I was equally terrified, I did not react instinctively but instead paused long enough to allow consciousness to work with instinct to mediate and calm my fear, saying, “take a look at what this is and then decide the proper action/reaction.”

I do not judge my nine-year-old self for killing the praying mantis, it’s just where I was at the time. Now I try to live with consciousness as much as possible, pausing, like my fourteen-year-old self did with the walking stick, asking myself pertinent questions: What is the right thing to do in this situation? What is the right thing to feel? What is the right action to take?

We all have killed something at some point in our lives. How many mosquitoes, flies, and pesky bugs I’ve swatted at over my 65 years I don’t know, but I have certainly whacked quite a number of them to death out of sheer annoyance.

At the same time that I admit to that kind of killing, there is another part of me that would never knowingly harm another living thing, but sometimes she’s just not available when I need her. Sometimes the fearful me still steps in and just takes care of business.

A blog by J. E. Ketchel, author of The Recapitulation Diaries.

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

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: Kill The Messenger?

Who is responsible for this death? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Who is responsible for this death? – Photo by Jan Ketchel

“$8 Million Bail for Kidnapping Suspect” read the New York Times headline on May 9, 2013. Once again the headlines shout out the most aberrant, deviant, chillingly evil of human beings. In this case Ariel Castro, the man accused of kidnapping, raping, chaining and beating three young women for a decade, now exposed and in captivity. A sentiment arises in reaction: Execute him by the cruelest of means, avenge the lost innocence, protect future innocence!

Though I hold no sympathy for the devil, I know this devil is but a symptom of our current human condition, a sign that must be fully read and owned if our species is to advance beyond our current rut. To simply kill the messenger is to fail to comprehend the real message.

I’ve spent the lion’s share of my professional life, almost 35 years, penetrating PTSD, journeying with survivors of abuse to retrieve their lost wings and ultimately fly with sheer abandon, finally freed of their trauma. Consistently, throughout the years, the question presents itself: Why? Why are there predators? Why do brothers rape sisters and brothers? Why do fathers rape daughters and sons, mothers their sons and daughters? Why do uncles rape their nieces and nephews, grandparents their grandchildren? Why do neighbors rape neighbors, men rape women, priests their brethren? The list touches every social construction, every relationship in our world.

The myth of our origin is a crime, our hubris—the Catholics call it original sin—our original decision to evolve on our own terms outside the laws of nature. Humankind decided to take nature and further it in its own way. This was the birth of consciousness, of ego at the control, alienated from its god—nature as it had evolved and run for eons based on what worked best, based on its own laws of balance. Then along came man.

Humankind quickly generated its own rule books to regulate and further itself, leaving nature to the animal world. Humankind developed taboos like incest, and instituted rites of passage to regulate and transform the powerful instincts of sex, hunger, and protection. Eventually religions arose to regulate those instincts. Religions were also charged with regulating and guiding the evolving spirit self, checking the tendency of ego self to proclaim itself a god.

Today, we have a world where religions largely do lip service to uphold the norm and support a social identity. Today, the human race has completely lost its real identity. The human race has forgotten that it is an animal. The human sees itself as a supercomputer, a technical wizard-god, capable of creating its own universe. The human being has long forgotten its animal roots. It has completely underestimated the power of its instinctive core.

For most of us, finding a healthy pathway to the instincts is barred. We human beings are either terrified of the disintegrating impact instincts have upon consciousness, or we have completely lost the ability to feel a deeper connection to those instinctive energies. If those instincts do emerge, there is little to guide and help regulate their flow and integration. At best we have a bunch of rules. Few can talk openly about their passionate needs. They stay hidden in the shadows. We are a species dissociated and in opposition to our instincts. They manifest as the sick and maimed ferocious animals of our dreams—our boxed up, imprisoned, disowned instinctive selves.

Under the guise of “civilization” lies the belief that we are an advanced species, and that we are in superior control. Not so! Our instinctive selves have become the predators that lurk within and without. They are the Ariel Castors, the disowned ones, freed to roam and prey outside of us because we refuse to take seriously the power of our dissociated animal selves. The Ariel Castors among us are not separate from us. They are our disowned instincts driven to deviance by our silence and refusal to speak about our sexual nature.

It’s not the animal that’s the problem. Animals DON’T rape. It’s the failure of the human animal to properly acknowledge and wisely integrate its own instinctive nature. That’s what causes the animal in us to become rabid; neglect and disownment are the culprits. The sexual predator lives in the shadow side of a species that has disowned its animal self.

If we squarely faced the animal within ourselves, we’d have no illusions about the predatory potential all around and inside us. We’d have no illusions about the predatory potential of every human being—including our so civilized selves—to do harm to others.

I do not mean to stir up paranoia—although I would warn to be extremely thoughtful before leaving young children alone with older siblings or relatives or a neighbor. Instinctual energies that have not been properly encountered are prone to be acted out in a deviant way where opportunity arises, most often against the innocent and powerless. Our challenge is to face more squarely the sexual instinct inside the self, inside growing children, inside everyone, not to underestimate its power or impact, but to talk about it, regulate it, normalize it, transform it, warn and protect against its excesses. I’m proposing that it’s time to step up to the truth of the monstrous predicament we have gotten ourselves into by our failure to address the topic of our own instinctive selves, now turned deviant due to neglect, an imbalance caused by a failure to address and take responsibility for all sides of our human nature.

In the case I cited to begin this blog with, that of Ariel Castro, this predator must be held accountable and properly sentenced for the crimes he committed against those young women, but the real message for all of us is not to kill the messenger, but to heed his most alarming message. This is what we have become! To kill the messenger is a micro management solution to a macro problem. Let’s get to the broader view of an endangered species that has lost its way. It’s a problem that effects all of us. It’s time to go straight to the management and complain, because if we simply scapegoat the messenger, the sacrifice offered by the innocent ones is lost and we don’t advance our human species, but simply remain entrenched in our current “civilized” illusion.

Who do we, as a species, want to be? Yes, we are spirit beings, but we are first and foremost animals. We will never realize our fuller spirit potential if we do not successfully integrate our animal natures.

Seriously,
Chuck