Tag Archives: suffering

Chuck’s Place: Our Promethean Debt

The power of One…
-Illustration © 2022 Jan Ketchel

Prometheus stole fire from the gods, delivering to humanity the gift of consciousness and the ability to chart its own course. For his transgression, Zeus condemned Prometheus to eternal torment. Human beings must also suffer nature’s torments, as she evens the score for transgressions to nature, within and without.

At the deepest transpersonal dimension of our psyche we all share the same roots and laws that govern our being. These are the instincts and archetypes of the collective unconscious. When the decisions we make deviate too widely from those archetypal roots, our Promethean debt must be paid and, as Jung put it, “from time to time with hideous consequences.”*

This is the usual course of human history with its eternal torment of wars. Outwardly, the conservative laws of the instincts are diametrically opposed to the decisions and directions of detached consciousness. Instinct and reason are fighting for supremacy. The lines are drawn, with no interest in reconciliation.

Inwardly, the consequences of one-sided attitudes are the torments of restlessness, anxiety, terror, and depression. Resolution of these painful states is to be found on the path of individuation, where we reconcile and live the fullness of our wholeness. To travel this path brings benefit, both within and without. It takes but one rainmaker to bring rain to an entire village. As within, so without.

Every one of us is a fragment of the same hologram. Though outwardly we appear unique, at the transpersonal, quantum level of our being we are all all that is. Look no further than yourself to confront the same dynamics being played out, at this very moment, upon the world stage.

Individuation requires that we suffer the opposites of our wholeness. All beings are actually bipolar beings. Wholeness cannot be found in one-sided dissociation. We must suffer full ownership of our shadow, all the parts of us that we reject or simply don’t know about.

It is not enough for consciousness to shine its light into the darkness, it must accept and bring into life all of itself. Sometimes, for example, you must speak the truth, however painful the consequences. As a result, a rejected part of the psyche that had turned aggressive might feel reconciled with consciousness for its willingness to take such heartfelt action.

Those deep truths, though they may appear transactional, and require outer action, actually originate within the interplay of dynamics within the self. Outer truths merely mirror inner facts. Be sure to always bring it home, not leaving a projected part of the self in the person and behavior of an other. Take full responsibility for owning, suffering the torments of, and living your wholeness.

We, each individual, are the world. Every character upon the world stage is within us. The energetics without are the energetics within.

The playing field for our Promethean debt is the structure and dynamics of our inner world. Find the balance within; advance the world without.

In so doing, perhaps the usual course of history might be averted. Grab the opportunity to truly make a difference.

Going for it,

*Essays On A Science Of Mythology, C. G. Jung and C. Kerenyi, p. 82.

Soulbyte for Wednesday March 9, 2022

Great change is only accomplished through great suffering. To experience enlightenment, one must suffer through the darkness of one’s being to reach the light of one’s spirit. To experience peace, one must experience its opposite, war. To experience the light of the day’s sun, one must also experience the darkness of the night. Without contrast there is no change, no difference, no experience of something else. And though suffering is hard and requires discipline, the end result will bring furthering of the human spirit, and love, already inspiring many, will prevail. For just as with everything else, love’s opposite must be experienced before love itself may reign.

Sending you love,
The Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

Soulbyte for Tuesday March 7, 2017

Like stormy weather suffering brings new life, for the sun will shine again. After winter comes the spring, after sleep comes waking life, after a high comes a low, after loss comes renewal. This is how the wheel of life spins, always correcting, replenishing, and bringing new energy into play, looking for opportunities, offering change. Like a new day, something is always on the horizon ready to be engaged in life. Even today something seeks recognition and participation. What is it? Something is calling. Do you hear?

-From the Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

Chuck’s Place: Lucifer

The Moon and Venus...in alignment Early morning 11/09/15 - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The Moon and Venus…in alignment
Early morning 11/09/15
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

As the story goes, Lucifer was God’s brightest star—literally, the morning star, Venus. As the brightest light, Lucifer could see into God’s plan: to incarnate in human form. Lucifer could not bear the painful vision of pure spirit incarnating in animal body, saddled with the suffering of life and death, a virtual crucifixion of the spirit.

With this piercing light of awareness, Lucifer refused God’s plan, bypassing the wounding of his innocence via incarnation in the flesh. Lucifer broke away from God and, along with other “fallen angels,” sought refuge in his own hell. Thus this brightest of stars is actually the patron saint of protecting innocence from the trauma of incarnate life, that is, life in the body.

In psychological terms, protection from life in this world is called dissociation. In dissociation, wounded innocence is swept away from life, deeply shielded from consciousness, relationship, or experiences in this world that could further injure and soil the purity of its innocent soul.

How can we argue the absolute necessity for such a splitting, fragmenting defense? Without it, the innocent soul would indeed be completely destroyed in its repeated encounters with trauma. However, what is the fate of the soul that is kept from its intended incarnation in this world?

Innocence is protected in dissociation, but ultimately innocence kept from life is innocence kept in bondage, in its own private hell.  What makes it suffer is the frustration of its longing for life in the body, genuine connection in the world, its rightful journey.

What once served as an angel of protection soon becomes the devil border guard that dissuades any trespass into dangerous life, that is, any attempts at bringing innocence back into the physical world.

The border guard is negative, critical, and nihilistic. Its intent, at heart, is pure protection, but its refusal to allow entry into life extends beyond its protective reach to become the critic that freezes all sparks of potential life.

Ultimately, that which once was a lifesaver becomes the prison guard that must be defeated to allow innocence its rightful journey in this world. The truth is, however, as Lucifer rightly saw, to incarnate in this world is to indeed suffer a crucifixion. The ego must be willing to suffer the wounding of innocence, stay present to the traumatic experiences that once caused fragmentation, healing the split, and help innocence to live in a world where it will suffer both the joys and pains of incarnate life.

Only when the ego, or adult self, is ready to take the full journey to recover its lost innocence—as well as stay present with it, as together innocence and ego navigate a dangerous world—is it time to take on these deeply protectionist defenses. If the ego is not ready for that level of responsibility, it is perhaps more appropriate to leave its vulnerable self in the protective hands of its Luciferian defenses, as it survives in its more manageable hell of a defense.

On the world stage, America finds itself struggling with this dilemma as it struggles to protect itself yet continue to live and be part of the world community in the wake of growing terrorist threat.

America is, historically, notoriously protectionist in its isolationism, hence Luciferian defense, in the presence of world threat. The current drive to seal up the borders and keep the dangerous world at bay sweeps the nation. Yes, we must protect our vulnerable innocence and yet, as John McCain states: “all children are God’s children.”

McCain, as one who has suffered incarceration in war, knows that protectionism that cuts us off from deep love and compassion is a hell we don’t want to live in. And yes, to fully enter life, to incarnate, we will suffer.

To allow refugees into our homeland is offering life to all of God’s children. But it requires a maturity that America is now challenged to rise to. This is the maturity Stephen LaBerge speaks to when he states, ” I don’t need to see your reality papers before I act with love.”

Of course, we must be sensible and cautious as to whom we let in, but we must also be willing to suffer potential danger to allow life to live, and that includes ourselves. If we arbitrarily seal the borders we sentence ourselves to hell and world condemnation, as we shirk our responsibility of leadership in a world on the brink of madness.

We must arrive at responsible compassion that allows us to navigate the perils of current danger. This is the collective maturity mirrored in the individual ego’s journey to rescue and bring into life its own lost soul. If we live without our soul, as individuals or as a nation, we merely exist to smolder in our own private hells.

While fully appreciating Lucifer’s insight, and at times necessary intervention, we must turn our gaze from this bright morning star to that of the full sun, which enlightens us to the fuller picture and nurtures all of life regardless of race, religion, or gender—all of God’s children.


I wish to thank Donald Kalsched whose work has stirred my imagination.

Chuck’s Place: Child Care

From whence does our ancient innocence come? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
From whence does our ancient innocence come?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The truth is, the child self is older than the adult self. We were all children first. Actually, to advance, the child self had to stay behind so that the adult self could mature.

The child self, who sought the safety and fulfillment of its fundamental survival, who sought unconditional love and acceptance, who sought the pure play of innocence and discovery, had to shut down, hold in, and separate from the seeds of its budding adult self that it launched, while it sank into dormancy, waiting for the day the adult might turn around and rediscover its roots in the purity and innocence of childhood again.

Often, that child self was neglected and traumatized and it secretly bears the weight and torment of its early experiences. Voluntarily, it broke away from consciousness, hiding in the dark so as not to disturb the forward movement of the adult self. Its only hope of redemption, its hidden contract, was that in the triggered moments of adulthood the adult self would come in search of the traumatized child self and lead it to the light of day and help it to become unburdened of its horror stories, terrors, and confusions.

Only the adult self can become the true parent self to its lost child self. Only the adult self can find its forgotten self. Only the adult self can stand with its younger self and bear witness to the full truth of its younger experiences and, in so doing, put them to rest. Only the adult self can free its imprisoned child self and merge its innocence into the play of adult life.

Too often, adults forget their childhoods and only know they don’t want to revisit that horrid period of life. As the child stays cloistered, however, life in adulthood is experienced as barren and lacking, and the adult self seeks to compensate for the lack of joy and freedom by indulging in the myriad of addictions available in adult life.

At other times, adults become parents and inadvertently project their forsaken child selves onto their own children, who they serve as if they were princes and princesses, unable to limit, so deep is the pain of their own forsaken inner children. Sometimes the inner children are projected onto pets or other helpless creatures of the world, whom the adult feels compulsively bound to nurture and save.

Oh, that sweet innocence! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Oh, that sweet innocence!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

If we come to the place of discovery of our own inner child, perhaps at first in dreams where our child tells us its secrets, we may be so appalled by the lack of care given and the hardships endured that we feel bound to serve and protect this wounded child at all costs. Young children do need parents to cater to their needs; its the core of survival. But they do also need parents that will listen to the truth, the whole truth of their experiences, and help them sort out the confusion of who is to blame and why things actually happened. Children may need to be helped to release their anger and sadness, and receive appropriate love and support.

But the truth is, our younger child self is much older than we are and may, in some way, be much wiser and more mature as well. After all, that warrior self already endured pain, suffering, neglect, perhaps even abuse and torture, things the adult self finds difficult to endure much less believe.

The child self does not need to be catered to or compensated for all that it had endured or lost. What it does need, however, is to be relieved of its burdens and its innocence to be welcomed into life.

Too often the adult self struggles with facing the pain, suffering and frustrated needs of the child self and tries to make a life for it where there is no pain or woundings. That’s impossible. As Buddha said, life is suffering. What the child self needs to know is that the adult self will not abandon it again, and that if there are woundings it will heal.

The solution is not to remain overprotective of the child self for the life it has lived, whereby cutting off the opportunity for joy in life, nor in overcompensating or catering to a child who suffered by making unrealistic promises or acting out its entitlement demands. The key to child care is a full recapitulation where the adult self stays present and hears the full truth of the childhood it once lived, ending the child’s isolation, validating its truths, releasing it from its frozen emotions and clarifying its beliefs.

During the recapitulation process the child self and the adult self learn to trust and feel safe with each other. They learn, no matter what is encountered or presented, that they can and will handle anything together in a nurturing and loving manner, without judgment or fear, unconditionally committed to a new and open relationship with each other. With that deep work done, the innocence of the child self merges with the maturity of the adult self and together they are not only ready to lead a new and fulfilling life, but fully open to experiencing all the joys and love that adulthood offers.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for the adult self is to encounter the pure innocence of the child self and to not succumb to a deep sadness and protectiveness that freezes the ability to bring that innocence into life. All innocence must experience the wounding of life outside the protectorate of the fairytale. For innocence to continue life in this world, it must grow to know about pain and suffering.

Resolution, acceptance, fulfillment... - Art by Jan Ketchel
Resolution, acceptance, fulfillment…
– Art by Jan Ketchel

Buddha’s father attempted to encase him in a painless magical kingdom, a fairytale world that he would never leave. Eventually, however, Buddha did go out into the real world and fully experience the woundings of the real world, as did Christ in his own ending on the cross. Nonetheless, it was through such woundings, and the ability to not get swallowed up by them, that each of these teachers eventually ascended to their spiritual enlightenment.

The path laid out for the adult self is to let our innocence out into this world and, through the trials and experiences in its human and spirit suffering, to find fulfillment in the enlightenment of the full human spiritual journey. This is true child care.

Deeply caring,