To be elevated or lowered in thought and emotion is generally the consequence of identification with a power otherthan the self. There are many not-I influences that, unknowingly to consciousness, usurp identity, mental processes, moods, and actions.
On a collective level, we are in the midst of a world rapidly seized by a contagion of beliefs and intense emotions sparking heated rhetoric and threatening behavior. On one level this is the consequence of archetypal projections upon leadership.
The ruler of the personality is predisposed to absorb and mirror the attitudes of outer rulers, be they royalty, presidents, or popes. Even personalities that reject identification with leadership figures are not immune to infection, as they find themselves obsessed with revolutionary, depressed, or helpless overreactions.
Within the personality, beyond the I of the known self, are layers of influence that emanate from genetic predisposition, karma, and the collective unconscious, replete with its powerful archetypes seeking to infiltrate daily life. Contrary to the gods of yesteryear, who were housed on some faraway mountain, these archetypes quake from within, generating anxiety, terror, rage, and euphoria.
We might, for instance, awaken with a questioning thought about the meaning of the words another person had spoken in an encounter the day before. Subtly and suddenly, the thought mushrooms into a powerful conspiracy that ignites tremendous emotions of anger, fear, and protest. The ego then becomes intensely focused on plans to survive, attack, or circumvent the imagined onslaught.
In fact, the ego might find itself under the spell of an inner archetype that has dressed outer reality in the garments of the drama it seeks to enact. And what role will ego be assigned, victim or hero?
If we have the presence of mind to not get overly entranced by the lure of the drama, and revisit its status later in the day, we might find ourselves exclaiming, “What could have possessed me to see it that way? Wow, did I blow that out of proportion!”
In this case, the ego, by not succumbing to the coup of the archetype, retains its energy for reflection, differentiation, and control of the personality. Though impulse might at times save the day, it often masks the will of not-I influences that are seeking a play in human life.
The Shamans of Ancient Mexico characterize these extraneous energies as entities, who feast upon the high frequency energy of human emotion. They counsel that entities have largely only the power to infiltrate thought and perception, which may indeed generate intense fear, but have no real power to harm.
Whether seen as activated archetypes or actual entities, the guidance to the ego is the same: stay sober and grounded. Archetypes and entities seek our energy, our life force. They are merchants of exaggeration who cater to our boredom and our weaknesses. Refuse their offerings, shoo them away, turn in another direction, breathe, use dialogue to affirm the self.
Address boredom by aligning with your own personal Spirit: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Practice bringing ego to the guidance of the heart center. There it will be energized by its true path of heart.
Our weaknesses are demonstrated to us by the archetypes and entities that play and prey upon us. Archetypes offer to solve human dilemmas when ego is at an impasse, or is simply in a lackadaisical state. Entities, as well, can only hook our attention where there is a gap in our adaptation, its opening to enter and play upon our fears and wants.
Refuse the archetypes, refuse the entities, but do have gratitude for being shown by them what needs to be addressed.
When we shore up our weaknesses, through the guidance of our true spirit, we are freed to journey, weightlessly, on a most fulfilling journey in this life, in this world, and beyond.
Had a dream the other night, where Jan and I were caring for two young children, a girl and a boy, who had never been cared for by anyone but their parents. Try as I might to do everything right, I’d flushed a toilet in one bathroom, which disrupted the water pressure in another bathroom where the little girl tried to flush. Flushing didn’t work for her and she became traumatized.
We were all once children. Our bodies, and some parts of our psyches, became adult. But parts of us are still the innocent, naive, shy, frightened, excited children we once more fully were. Perhaps those parts never grow up and transform. Perhaps the adults we become must assume childcare for our inner family. Perhaps that’s what it means to become a responsible adult. Perhaps that’s what wholeness and integration really mean.
Of course, this does not mean that adults should be bound to childish entitlements. Needs must be appropriately met, but neediness or demandingness are not to be catered too.
Children, inner and outer, may bear the wounds of trauma and unmet needs, which require adult intervention to provide necessary healing. However, adults must be careful not to become codependent to victimized parts. The horror of trauma is not healed through reparation or compensation.
The healing of trauma requires adult support as the traumatized child regains equilibrium, as it fully experiences and knows the facts of its personal history. Acceptance of the truth frees the child of the trauma and allows it to blossom. Catering to the dysregulated emotions of trauma only further entrenches one in victimhood.
Adult relationships must contend with child parts. Every adult has inner child parts that projectively feel entitled to attention from ‘parent’ partners or others in life. We may look physically like full-fledged adults, but inwardly we are a composite of many developmental stages.
The challenge is to individually assume parental responsibility for our own inner family. The expectations we place on partners or others frequently originate from our own child parts. Maturity is willingness to acknowledge and assume responsibility for what is ours and not expect another to care for it.
Nonetheless, with consciousness we might agree to be partners to our partner’s healing journey. To hug the wounded child part of another might be a helpful healing support, if voluntarily offered. However, to insist on a partner or another person taking care of a wounded part, or insistently feel entitled to care, entrenches and empowers victimhood. Healing cannot proceed under such conditions.
Ultimately, needed childcare must be provided by the adult self, who becomes the true parent to all the parts of the personality. Parents and partners provide the matrix that activates the issues of the child, but only the adult self can truly care for, heal, and lead the whole self, with all its component parts, to fulfillment.
Many people believe that the basic security they lack, due to parental neglect early in life, must be subsequently supplied by someone, somewhere, for healing and confidence to be established in their innermost being. When I began my professional career as a therapist at The Linden Hill School, a psychiatric hospital for nonviolent, deeply disturbed adolescents, I was told tales of former therapists who had attempted to compensate for the early neglect of caretakers by literally feeding their adolescent patients on their laps with warmed bottles of milk.
I myself once had a cat who’d been separated from his mother prematurely; we called him Ricky. Every time Ricky was held and petted he immediately attempted to nurse on anything his mouth could reach. No matter how much Ricky nursed through the years, this behavior never changed.
There appear to be critical periods for meeting certain needs through age specific behaviors. In the field of ethology, the study of animal behavior, Konrad Lorenz discovered that there are critical periods for imprinting and attachment. For instance, a mother goose will not bond with a separated chick beyond sixteen hours after hatching. In other words, that chick has just 16 hours to get the mother goose’s attention! If that fails, it’s on its own.
In humans, nursing behavior enacted beyond infancy will not supply the archetypal love as it does for an infant being loved through this form of nurturance. Fixation upon the now outdated archetype might persist, but acting it out merely provides a temporary fix, with powerful dependency on others continuing to be necessary to provide basic security. An internalized sense of being loved, with its resultant feeling of confidence, remains lacking.
How then does one fulfill a missed first chakra need of secure footing in this world? Regardless of the state of integrity of our personality foundation as separate beings, our bodies continue to grow. We are forced to adapt to new situations in life even if we are lacking in confidence. Fortunately, some inner parent, what I call one’s High SOUL, invokes a variety of strategic maneuvers which prioritize continuing to be able to grow, cognitively and emotionally, in spite of the lack of completion of a secure personality foundation.
One such strategy of the High SOUL is to prompt a child to make believe everything is OK. An adult name for this strategy is to act-as-if. When we act-as-if, or fake it till we make it, we willfully explore a behavior that stretches us beyond the comfort zone of our habitual repertoire. Though acting-as-if may be experienced as a false self, or may not serve deeper personality transformation, it is useful for adaptation in the moment. It may allow one to stay in the moment and actually continue to grow in vital ways.
Another powerful intervention by the High SOUL is the use of amnesia. Frequently, in the trauma of primal neglect, the memory of the traumatic experience is completely lost to consciousness, stored alternatively in the unconscious mind or somewhere in the physical body. Through this dissociation an individual is enabled to stay somewhat present to the experiences and lessons of the current moment.
Interestingly, as I have witnessed in my personal clinical experience, the High SOUL decides when, at some future point in time, the forgotten experience will surface, often decades after the event. This parental wisdom, exercised by the High SOUL, is to wait until a stage of life when adaptive needs are lessened and focus can shift to the integration of lost wholeness. Indeed, I am suggesting here that our true parent is our own High SOUL, always present behind the scenes, supporting our ability to undertake and fulfill our mission in this life.
Addressing traumatic memory or the fulfillment of basic needs requires a strong adult presence. When one opens to need or trauma, the emotional state of the inner child is evoked through the little soul of the subconscious’s connection to the body and its release of powerful hormones and neurotransmitters to activate emotions specific to the state of the trauma or need. The ego-Soul is then asked to stay present to the activated emotional, cognitive, and body states associated with the memory or need of the inner child.
In effect, High SOUL has determined that ego-Soul is now ready to become the parent to its own child self. This is not a matter of going back to some earlier time and fulfilling a need in the form that was missed out on. What is required is for the adult ego Soul to stay fully present and open up to the experience of its formally dissociated inner child. This means feeling it in emotion and body, and knowing it cognitively as the child believes it to be. High SOUL, who raised ego-Soul, now asks it to become the adult parent to its personality in the time and space of this world.
But how to do this? How does one develop such affect tolerance? One approach is deep relaxation. The little soul of the subconscious does what it is told to do. If, in the midst of a highly clenched physical state, ego-Soul can volitionally place its awareness on the points of tension in the physical body and instruct the body, through suggestion to the little soul of the subconscious mind, to relax the body, the body will respond and lessen its grip. Repeated instruction will deepen relaxation and allow ego-Soul to help its child self to regulate its own emotional intensity in the face of the experience it is in the midst of.
This loving act, of staying present to and helping to transform the inner child’s emotional reaction, opens the door to a deeper cognitive perspective where the child state sees the fuller context of the truth of its early experience, which can clear up false negative beliefs it may have held about itself for much of life.
This adult ego-Soul relationship with its younger self becomes the true supplier of the primal nurturance long sought in life. With this foundation, genuine transformations occur that provide for enriched fulfillment in life, within and without.
Whenever stressed, practice relaxation. Pause, take a breath, shift focus to the subconscious with the instruction to release the body tension. Stay present, see what happens! This is love in action, the right mechanism for archetypal completion, now.
The dweller* is the ruler of the subconscious, in the basement of our human being personality. I also call the dweller the little soul of the personality. The dweller is bound to nature’s survival instinct with sex in the forefront for species survival, and food, shelter, material resource and power acquisition its focus at the level of personal survival.
The dweller relies upon nature’s instinctual archetypes to maintain physical homeostasis and prompt behavioral action. The dweller is extremely conservative, it stays with what works, the programs that have ensured planetary evolutionary survival. These programs are encoded in our DNA, our ancestral memory and, ultimately, in our deepest karma, our high SOUL’s purpose for sending us into this earthly life.
The dweller doesn’t think and is not open to change. Like a conservative fundamentalist, it follows, without question, the commandments of the archetypes. In the absence of new orders it stays with what works. Even if one has been miserable an entire life, from the dweller’s perspective this represents successful survival and, hence, it is loathe to allow new, consciously sought after behaviors to stick. In fact, like a hidden sniper, it patiently awaits its opportunity to defeat them.
The ego Soul, bearer of consciousness, lives in the ground floor of the human personality, as a result of its decision to gain knowledge and make its own decisions in Eden, resulting in its banishment from nature, the dweller’s domain in the basement. Curiously, though the dweller is bound to its programs, like a willing soldier it immediately responds to orders from elsewhere, such as from ego Soul, influential others, or public opinion.
This, in a nutshell, is the heart of hypnosis. The hypnotist becomes the ruler of the dweller through suggestions that the dweller enacts upon command. In fact, we, as ego Souls, are all self-hypnotists, constantly sending suggestions to the dweller through the repetitive internal dialogue of our thoughts. Thus the dweller manifests in the body in how we think about ourselves.
This includes our central nervous system, which the dweller oversees. Thus, if we tell ourselves we are not safe, the dweller activates neurological signals and chemical processes that mold us into body-clenching, anxious beings. If we maintain this belief system over time, the dweller institutes this habitual thought pattern as a permanent program, with its resulting body state—however uncomfortable it may be—as a proven survival program, the dweller’s guiding priority.
Here we witness the familiar vicious cycle of ego Soul attempting to enact change by exercising intent, discipline, mantra, or downright discipline and, after some optimistic initial success, ultimately being defeated. The hidden dynamic is the dweller, at first following ego Soul’s orders but actually opposed to them, laying in wait for a vulnerable moment to defeat the ego Soul’s heroic efforts with doubt and defeatism, whereby restoring the more trustworthy program of familiar hell. In truth, the ego Soul might willingly collude with the dweller’s plot, as glimpses of the unfamiliar lightness of being might scare the ego to death!
Often, ego Soul turns to the upstairs occupant of its human personality, the high Self, who is connected to the high SOUL, to seek solace and guidance and, frankly, to escape from the dweller’s paralyzing grip, which repeatedly freezes the possibility of change. Thus, we might turn to inspirational music, prayer, or positive self-help books to infuse ourselves with the positive energy of heaven, seeking release from the darkness of our private hell.
Many religions offer the technology to cast out and cut off the devil dweller and identify instead with the beings of light: saints and angels. Psychologically, this often results in a state of dissociation where a major part of the psyche is disowned, the consequences of which, in extreme form, can be seen in bipolar disorder, where one swings from living a powerful identification with the dweller to a powerful identification with pure angel.
The plight of the Catholic Church, as well as many institutions and individuals outed by #MeToo, reflects the consequences of the disowned dweller unleashed in the dark, contrasted by only the sunny angel appearing in the light of day. Out-of-body practitioners must also be aware of their own physical body dweller, as the tendency of New Age technologies is to covet the light and disown the dweller in the dark basement. If you are in human form there is no escaping the force of the dweller.
Ironically, both Jung and Trump agree on one thing: we must construct the walls of a mandala sanctuary within if we are to safely integrate the powerful forces at all levels of the personality: little soul, ego Soul and SOUL. Trump reflects everyman/woman in his struggle to contain those forces within himself and has consequently become a major channel to the dark collective dweller archetypes that are currently wreaking havoc on the human playing field. Would that Trump would grasp that his projected wall must be created within himself!
Trump’s journey is instructive to everyone. We all possess the dweller, the angel, and an ego. We must use our ego to fully own all that we are. We must create a container, build that wall within, versus identifying exclusively with dweller or angel while projecting the dark side outside of ourselves onto someone else, or some other race.
As we bear the tension of our mandala container in our own body, with the dweller’s help we can turn toward the angel for inspiration and comfort. And then, well, see what happens! This is the journey of soul to meet its higher SOUL, the topic of next week’s blog. Until then, build your inner wall mandala, the sanctuary and proving ground for your own personal journey of wholeness and completion.
*I am deeply indebted to Elmer Green and his life’s opus, TheOzawkie Book of the Dead, for introducing the term dweller in the context I use it. Jan and I are on our fifth reading of this treasured three-volume masterpiece. It is truly a diamond, cultivated from the rough work of living a fully explored life.
Also Please Note: We are currently publishing Chuck’s blogs on Tuesdays.
My Aunt Virginia, who died in 2012, left me her important papers, a partially written memoir, letters, jottings, and diary entries, which she had severely edited by slicing them out of her journals with a sharp knife, leaving behind only what she wanted posterity to see.
During our recent move to Virginia I came across the box where I had stored her stuff since her death and decided it was time to sort through it. What I found has been a treasure trove of family history, as well as an introduction to a complicated, fiercely intelligent, strikingly independent and delightful young woman.
I knew Virginia intimately my whole life as my aunt, my Godmother, and my spiritual mother, but as I poured over what she chose to leave behind I learned what she had never shared; her deepest struggles to figure out life, to live and love to the fullest, to use and be respected for her intellect. She was determined to not just do what was expected, to marry the first appropriate guy that came along with a decent job. She wanted true love, a soulmate, and she stuck to her guns about it, taking a unique stance for a young woman growing up in the 1920s and 30s, delaying marriage until it was right, in spite of the many attempts to marry her off.
She did meet her true soulmate when she was 30, a vibrant, brilliant young graphic designer who was making a name for himself in the New York graphic design world of 1950. It was a love affair that swept them both off their feet and into a whirlwind of intense love, emotion, and deep spiritual connection. He proposed to her on the first night they met and she accepted, though she was inclined to take things a bit slower than he. It turned out he was right to want to speed things up because it all ended tragically when he died suddenly and unexpectedly two months after they met, on the operating table during an emergency appendectomy of an allergic reaction to an anesthetic.
His death left her desolate, but it didn’t stop her; she sought to recapture that love and intense connection in another, and another. She gained insight and wisdom the hard way, by living and learning, by looking deep into her yearning heart and by using her keen mind. She once said, “It seems that you just keep on and that’s not even so bad, so long as you keep struggling!” The “struggle” she refers to is the soul’s yearning for something that only the heart will recognize when it finally comes around.
Virginia was born in 1919 and lived through the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and World War II. She lived most of her life in New York City, though she loved the countryside. When she was growing up the family always had a house elsewhere to venture to on weekends and during the summer months, a shack on the beach at Rocky Point, a farmhouse in Orange county, and later a permanent home in Dutchess County.
She held various positions in publishing, having worked at Harper’s Magazine, McGraw-Hill and the World Press Review. She was active in international relations during World War II, working at the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA), The United Nations Association, and for Professor and Legal Scholar Clyde Eagleton at NYU’s Graduate School of International Affairs during the founding of the United Nations.
Virginia was an insatiable reader, her library was vast and all-encompassing. She found something of interest in every book she ever read and every person she ever met. A prolific letter writer, she maintained lifelong friendships with several international pen pals, from her teen years until her death, or theirs, many of whom she never met in person. And, always, she aspired to being a “real” writer, like many of the great writers she met during her years in publishing.
Recently, Chuck wrote a blog that included insight into one of our most intriguing human psychological traits, one that we all innately possess, that of projection, and the power we have within us to use the mirror of self-reflection to achieve a higher state of self-realization, especially by confronting our feelings of self-importance.
He wrote: We begin by assuming responsibility for the fact that we, as individuals, reflect the reality we see without. Although it may be difficult to face this shadow truth, it is also quite empowering. You can read the whole blog here.
Among my aunt’s papers I found more than a few pieces that directly confronted her own struggles with this most common trait, the power of projection in the search for a soulmate. As Chuck wrote in Soulmate 101: At the psychological, or spiritual dimension, the soul mediates our spirit’s longing for itself in matter. The root of desire is this attractive force of spirit seeking appropriate matter to realize itself, or to manifest as a physical reality. To accomplish this, soul uses the psychological mechanism of projection.
Virginia was a jazz aficionado. As she wrote when she went to her first jazz concert at Town Hall in 1942: “I was struck dumb. I felt exactly as though I had been slugged with a baseball bat… I had come home. This was the music I had longed for, without knowing it. I knew it at once, though.” After that she could not get enough of jazz. She went to as many concerts as she could, read as many books on the subject as she could find, scoured the record stores for albums, learning as much as she could about this new music that was, as she wrote, “something to believe in.”
The following example of soulmate projection and reconciliation was written when Virginia was 38. She was facing the end of one soulmate projection and was soon to meet another soulmate, her husband-to-be, Max Kaminsky. Max was a well known jazz trumpeter and cornetist and she had been one of his biggest fans, meeting him shortly after that first concert she went to in 1942. They lost contact for many years then met again when she was 39 and he was 50. Eventually, they married and wrote My Life in Jazz together, a memoir of his long career as a jazz musician. Their marriage was intense and loving, and it lasted until Max’s death in 1994, the day before his 86th birthday. Here is Virginia’s reflection:
August 9, 1957
“Dad was talking tonight about how much the old-time performers gave of themselves—and it suddenly struck me—more forcibly than ever before in my life—how little I give of myself.
This is one of my worst blocks—I noticed it in myself in the car tonight with the two women [whom she frequently rode from the city with on weekends to visit the family farm in Dutchess County]—all they really want is pleasantness. I used to be so touchy, thinking that if I gave of myself they would have a power over me—is that it— or was it that I expected so much of them that when they misunderstood I became hurt, disappointed and offended.
But it’s a prison—one I’ve made all by myself. I’m a secretary because I act like one—goddammit—a stuffed shirt. What I have to get thru my thick head is that I am free-free-free, just as free as I choose to be and that it’s not those “other” people who are holding me back—it’s me.
I don’t have to believe in the role Jacques [the man she was in love with at the time] has assigned to me. I am perfectly free to love him if I choose—and in that way it’s none of his business—as long as I don’t, overtly or insidiously, ask for his love in return. That’s the counter, [the] balance—you are free just so long and in proportion to how little you try to exact from others.”
In this piece, my aunt reflects beautifully on herself, coming to a deeper realization that she is responsible for how she feels and views the world. In her analysis, she fully owns her own part in the unfolding of her life, deciding that she can choose as she pleases, as long as she doesn’t take what is not freely given, even energetically.
Here she breaks the mirror of her own self-reflection, withdrawing her projection and owning her own inner soulmate, preparing to live it in her physical life. In fact, it was a pivotal moment; without her even knowing it, she was preparing to enter a new reality, opening the way for further true self-realization. And as we know, she did meet her true soulmate, Max, shortly after this, perhaps because she was finally ready.
At the time, she held a limiting belief about herself, that she was only a secretary. Shortly after this, her papers reveal, she decided to give more of herself and volunteered to read to the blind. She ended up as a volunteer reader for many years, reading to law students, to college and high school students, when called upon. But the actual truth is that she grew far beyond the secretary self that she so bemoaned, eventually becoming the senior editor at Harper’s Magazine. I used to see her name on the masthead, third one down from the top, after the editor-in-chief and the managing editor. And she did become the writer she had always yearned to be.
Having opened the box containing my aunt’s things and discovering what she valued and chose to pass on, I too ask myself, do I give enough? Do I do enough? Am I kind enough?
Do any of us give enough? Are any of us kind enough? How much do we hold ourselves back because of our limiting beliefs, because of our entrenched defenses, our sense of entitlement, our regrets or resentments? Why are we so offended all the time?
I thank my aunt for the little bits she left behind, modest and humble in their number yet full of profound insight into a woman’s struggle to find her place in the world, and to matter.