Strive to remain connected to your inner self, to know this inner self at the deepest level and to try and figure out what it is trying to tell you. It speaks in its own voice and language and acts in its own unique way. Sometimes it is direct, sometimes subtle, but always it seeks integration so that body and soul may know the bliss of union. Your body is the vehicle for your journey through life, and your spirit, that deepest inner you, is both the driver and the passenger. Make sure you are driving with alertness and awareness, keeping to the road that lies before you. There are many ways to travel through life but to travel with awareness is certainly preferable!
The typical splitting of body and spirit into a pair of opposites, though useful in contrasting gross and subtle expressions of energy, reinforces a spiritual prejudice against the body, encumbered with its instinctual life. Most spiritual traditions, while tolerant of life in a physical body, place a premium on sacrificing carnal life for the betterment of spiritual evolution.
Furthermore, the physical world is typically associated with feminine energy, which is equally devalued or seen as subservient to the superior masculine spirit. The body, with its instinctual inclinations, is associated with evil and passions, that which must be sacrificed to achieve spiritual advance.
This stripping of the physical body and instinctive mind of divine association has been the prerogative of ego consciousness, which has the ability to exercise its will over instinct and the archetypes of the collective unconscious. Most profoundly has been the explosive growth of the rational mind, with its associated prefrontal cortex, which claims absolute power over the belief systems of modern humans.
It can certainly be argued that the one-sidedness of modern ego consciousness matches the one-sidedness of our early ancestor’s absolute dependence on instinctual guidance. However, this modern one-sidedness has clearly reached the tipping point, as the world is currently being reshaped by the breakthrough of repressed instinctual forces of destruction.
Marie Louise von Franz, Jung’s most valued associate, reflected on a Romanian fairy tale about a 17-year-old princess who was turned into a cat via a curse from the Virgin Mother, Mary. The curse required that both her cat tail and cat head be cut off by a prince for her to be restored to her human self.
This association of witchy behavior with the Virgin Mother is highly unusual. Von Franz believed it represented the repressed state of the feminine by the Catholic Church. Mary’s shadow delivered a curse intended to fully redeem the feminine.
Von Franz associates the cat’s tail with its dominant animal instinct. Symbolically, the cutting off of the tail represents a humanizing ability to successfully handle the threat of being overpowered by one’s instinctual feelings and sensations. Feelings and sensations are a divine gift, but to be received in a fully human way they must be refined from their overpoweringly compulsive control and integrated as part of a balanced self.
Men who struggle with premature ejaculation learn to breathe and get calm to be able to tolerate and savor the feelings and sensations associated with sexual activity. Divine union must include the wholeness of feelings and sensations.
Cutting off the head addresses the one-sidedness of mental control by ego or the archetypes of the collective unconscious. Most times, the experience of anxiety is the consequence of the projection of an archetype onto a person or situation one is confronting. Thus, if one’s boss evokes anxiety, it is likely that one is dealing with the image of the destructive side of the Great Mother, or wrathful Yahweh, which must be cut off before one can have a human interaction.
Shamanic journeys, active imagination, and dreaming all offer venues to heroically confront and ‘cut off’ the influence of these archetypes that overshadow human interaction. Breath work, yoga, and meditation provide pathways to gain control over the central nervous system to again cut off the power of the archetypes to possess human life.
Similarly, romantic relationships can’t progress to true connection if one can’t cut off the control of an Adonis or Aphrodite mental projection onto one’s human partner. One will always feel less than when their partner is experienced as divine. Mythology is very instructive in pointing out the pitfalls of human and godly union.
While fully appreciating the attraction and beauty of each other, a couple can truly communicate in a real, down-to-earth human way. Thus, the intensified experience of a divine connection with another human being is truly possible if one communicates directly with the actual person they are with.
Mental presence, unencumbered by divine projection, in combination with matured feelings and sensations is the key to divine bi-spirituality. Our spiritual essence is both body and spirit equally engaged, equally valued, equally matured.
Our collective world shamanic journey of now beckons us to retrieve the lost and captured parts of our wholeness, in particular, our feminine and animal selves.
The body is as much spirit as the spirit itself. It must be granted its true value and raised to its highest spiritual potential. This is the essence of divine bi-spirituality: as above, so below.
We can use words to communicate, but connection requires more than words. Connection is meeting in pure transparency.
The intimacy of meeting so directly can be overpowering. The removal of boundaries, at that level, recalls a state of union and oneness that long preceded the notion of a separate self.
The terror of loss of self in such encounters generates ambivalence. Though we might seek the closeness of connection, we seek refuge in the protection of small talk, roles, and prefabricated expectations and interactions. Why do we find it so necessary to hide?
Carlos Castaneda was emphatic that we should avoid looking into the mirror; at most, a brief unfocused gaze for shaving or combing of the hair. For the shamans of his lineage, looking in the mirror results in the fixation of attention upon self-reflection, what the psychotherapist of today calls narcissistic preoccupation with the self.
The more we focus upon the presentation of the self, the more we become alienated from our true selves. The more we stare at our reflection, the more Bobby the Flyer takes command, and we find more and more fault with ourselves, which leads to a state of narcissistic loathing. Why then do we hide? Because we are so damned unacceptable!
Loathing the self is then compensated for by the insatiable attention we seek for our outer presentation of self, what Jung called the persona, or the mask we wear. Regardless of how much attention it receives, it is never enough to erase the underlying belief of unworthiness of the true underlying self.
Mirroring, in the modern psychological sense, happens between two people, not one person viewing their own appearance in the mirror. To mirror with another is to feel, know, and be with the truth of one’s own and the other’s experience in the moment. A meeting of the eyes in that moment reflects an unmistakable acknowledgement of a shared experience.
Mirroring requires no words, though words might be exchanged. Words are not necessary because the knowing of the meeting has already been validated through the mirroring effect. Meetings of this kind crack the mirror of fixation upon self-reflection. Meeting in transparency, with nothing hidden, transcends judgments of self and other.
Mirroring actually requires no special skill. In fact, shamans suggest that we all have access to the direct knowledge experience of mirroring. Direct knowledge is knowledge unfiltered by the mental processing and judging of the mind’s internal dialogue.
The key to direct knowledge is inner silence, a state of mindful presence that shuts down the mental process, that is, thinking. Devoid of thinking we are treated to the experience of what is, unbiased by interpretation.
Connecting at the heart level is mirroring at the level of truth. Of course, this can be experienced as extremely romantic, where “hearts meet as one.” Romance is highly sought after for this mirroring experience of transparent meeting.
Unfortunately, romance soon becomes overwhelmed with archetypal expectations of each other, which quickly engages the judging mind. This closes down the purity of the mirroring channel between partners, who then become utter strangers. The mirroring of romance is co-opted by nature’s underlying intent to simply continue the species, not deepen spiritual connection.
Romance is a limited subset though valuable experience of mirroring. That is, while it lasts. Mirroring is possible in all human and non-human interactions. Mirroring frequently happens between humans and animals, or humans and plants. Mirroring is the basis of successful early parenting. Mirroring is the essence of true bonding.
Mirroring is the active relational tool for the current and coming evolutionary advance of the human species. It springs from the heart because the heart brings us to the true interconnected oneness of everything, which is the active principle in mirroring.
Relax the mind, suspend judgment, and mirror. See what happens!
We are beings compelled to experience our wholeness. It’s intriguing to me how the shaman’s world, the Christian world, and the world in general covet substance—spirits—as the vehicle to parting the veils to divine wholeness. Substances are trickster spirits who would just as soon consume our life energy as let us pass through those veils. The history of AA captures the modern dance with spirits, the struggle with the ravages of spirit, and the eventual solution to lifting those elusive veils, revealing a possible path to wholeness.
Like an orphaned son seeking connection with his long lost biological father, Bill W. wrote to Carl Jung in 1961 to acknowledge him for his seminal role in the conception of AA. The crux of Jung’s input had been his suggestion in the 1930s to his alcoholic patient, Rowland H., that he seek a spiritual cure for his alcoholism.
Rowland H. took Jung’s advice to heart and went out and had a religious experience in an evangelical movement that was sweeping Europe at the time, which released him from the compulsion to drink. Rowland H’s experience was transmitted to Bill W., who at a very low point in his own active alcoholism, cried out to God in desperation and surrender.
“Suddenly, my room blazed with an indescribably white light,” he wrote in Pass It On. “I was seized with an ecstasy beyond description. Every joy I had known was pale by comparison. The light, the ecstasy—I was conscious of nothing else for a time.”
“Then, seen in the mind’s eye, there was a mountain,” he goes on. “I stood upon its summit, where a great wind blew. A wind, not of air, but of spirit. In great, clean strength, it blew right through me. Then came the blazing thought ‘You are a free man.’ I know not at all how long I remained in this state, but finally the light and the ecstasy subsided. I again saw the wall of my room. As I became more quiet, a great peace stole over me, and this was accompanied by a sensation difficult to describe. I became acutely conscious of a Presence which seemed like a veritable sea of living spirit. I lay on the shores of a new world. ‘This’ I thought, ‘must be the great reality. The God of the preachers.’ “
Bill W. never took another drink, and AA was born.
Jung replied to Bill W’s letter in 1961, shortly before he died. Speaking of Rowland H., in the letter transcribed into Pass It On, Jung states: “His craving for alcohol was the equivalent on a low level of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God.”
“How could one formulate such an insight in a language that is not misunderstood in our days?” Jung continued.
Jung knew that the medieval language around God had lost its value to serve the spiritual needs of modern humanity. Jung himself had experienced a profound vision in 1887 at the age of twelve.
“I saw before me the cathedral, the blue sky,” he writes in Memories, Dreams, Reflections. “God sits on His golden throne, high above the world—and from under the throne an enormous turd falls upon the sparkling new roof, shatters it, and breaks the walls of the cathedral asunder.”
Jung had come from a long line of Protestant preachers, but found himself utterly bored when his father was teaching him the catechism in preparation for his Confirmation.
In Volume 9, Part 1 of his Collected Works, Jung writes: “The catechism bored me unspeakably. One day I was turning over the pages of my little book, in the hope of finding something interesting, when my eye fell on the paragraphs about the Trinity. This interested me at once, and I waited impatiently for the lessons to get to that section. But when the longed-for lesson arrived, my father said: “We’ll skip this bit; I can’t make head or tail of it myself.” With that my last hope was laid in the grave. I admired my father’s honesty, but this did not alter the fact that from then on all talk of religion bored me to death.”
“Our intellect,” he continued, “has achieved the most tremendous things, but in the meantime our spiritual dwelling has fallen into disrepair.”
By the time Jung treated Rowland H., he had already taken his own numinous, spiritual journey into a living encounter with the collective unconscious, which he’d documented in his journals, recently published as the Red Book. Through his own experiences, Jung discovered that true healing could only be achieved through a deep, living encounter—a numinous experience—within the depths of the self, the God within/without.
Jung ended his letter to Bill W. by pointing out that, “Alcohol in Latin is spiritus, and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum.”
Alcohol is a spirit, what the shamans would call an entity. Entities are spirits that serve as gateways to the spirit world. The Christian Mass offers wine as the gateway to an ecstatic union with God in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Don Juan used hallucinogenic drugs called Allies to enable Carlos Castaneda to discover his deepest potential beyond the safeguards of the rational mind. However, as Jung clearly understood, such spirit entities that offer access to the deeper self, to union with God in this manner, always exact a price—spiritum—literally, the ravages of the spirit. And that is at the heart of addiction, getting caught in the ravages of the spirit.
It’s obvious that Jung proposed seeking a new means of intoxication of the spirit over imbibing of intoxicating spirits, suggesting that only a true union with God—spirit—could defeat addiction. Carlos Castaneda similarly warned about using drugs, having had personal experiences of the price exacted by the Allies—spiritum, as Jung points out. Castaneda suggested recapitulation and dreaming as the gateways to infinity. Jung developed active imagination and individuation as similar pathways to wholeness. AA developed the Twelve Steps as the Tao of wholeness. Different paths, same dictum, spiritus contra spiritum.