Tag Archives: unconscious

Chuck’s Place: Beyond the Shadow of Doubt

The shadow is everywhere…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Reason is the dominant tool of the first attention, what the Shamans of Ancient Mexico call everyday life. Beyond the first attention is the second attention, the world of energetic life, which is replete with all things irrational.

The Hindus note, for instance, that the emotional body component of the energy body, which is the home of powerful emotions and passions, is a prominent feature of the second attention.

Jung calls the second attention the collective unconscious, which lacking consciousness to guide volition, operates through the activation of powerful archetypes that can overwhelm the reasonable ego of the first attention, causing it to perform outrageous acts. To preserve the order and decency of normalcy, Jung asserts that these deeper dimensions of the psyche are repressed and housed in what he called the shadow, a component of the second attention.

Reason and shadow are mortal enemies, hence the natural tendency to keep them separated. Reason insists upon the rules of logic and fairness for decision making. Shadow insists upon the release of intense emotions and passions as its modus operandi, reason be dammed. Reason, in its own condescension, snubs the irrational shadow, misjudging the power of the repressed.

The history of humankind reflects the occasional reckoning of these two dominants in the clashes of world wars. Our current world predicament is a prime example of reason clashing with the formidable energy of the irrational. The world is rapidly disintegrating into such a primal clash at this very moment.

At a fundamental level the worlds of the first and second attention are layers of the same onion. As humans we are both consciously reasonable, solid beings, as well as irrational, energetic spirit beings. The totality of ourselves requires that we integrate these worlds despite their inherent opposition. Evolution is absolutely requiring such an advance at this time. How can we achieve this integration without the ultimate disintegration, Armageddon?

To begin, reason must address the limitations of its own belief system: “Things aren’t that bad… no one would let that happen…” In fact, the shadow thrives on letting anything happen that offers it powerful release.

Next, reason must recognize that shadow is a dimension of its own self. Reason often doubts this, despite the many addictions or obsessions that it notices in its own functioning. Does it also notice its fascination and vicarious excitement with the emotional outbursts of now?  Reason always believes that it has things under control, or that things are, ultimately, under control.

Reason must accept responsibility in developing a relationship with the energetic world of the second attention. When people discover the out-of-body world, they are often at first driven by insatiable desires, repressed in the first attention of everyday life. Maintaining the operation of reason, with the intents available in the second attention, is critical for deep responsible exploration.

I strongly recommend Robert Monroe’s three books, which detail his own journeys into the second attention with the evolving accompaniment of his first attention, reason. With his success and guidance, he is truly deserving of the title of American Shaman.

Exploration and reconciliation with the deeper dimensions of the self offer a playing field of deep soulful satisfaction, which checks the tendency of the shadow to need to project itself upon habits and outer events that mesmerize the ego and take over consciousness.

Ego must humble itself to the existence of energies within the self that are far more powerful than ego itself. Ego has reason, but that’s no match for the irrational. Ego, in its humble smallness, can say no however. What change would happen overnight in the world if all individuals just said no, not driving today, not consuming today? Such a world strike of no would force a different relationship with power.

Nonetheless, ego must not be unreasonable in its demands. The world of the irrational, the world of passion and spirit must be lived. Beyond the shadow of doubt, reason must join with its passionate, spirited, irrational self in deep exploration and life, beyond reason.

Living the irrational, with reason,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Beyond Story

I remember the moment in my recapitulation when I realized that the story I’d always told myself about my life was utterly false. That’s the shattering moment of surrender to the truth.” Quote from Jan Ketchel during a recent morning discussion.

Beyond story, simply perceiving what is... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Beyond story, simply perceiving what is…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We are a story loving species. Can’t get enough of a good story. Our days are spun into archetypal dramas that draw us like moths to a flame. And when we encounter the unknown in our daily lives, our thoughts rapidly fill in the blanks, hand us a plausible explanation, a reality to uphold, the fictional novel of our life and times.

In 1931, in one of his Vision Seminars, Jung described a patient’s vision: “I looked into his eyes and saw therein a great river full of writhing bodies. A few men stood upon the bank and called with a loud voice to the struggling masses in the rushing water. The water cast a few souls upon the bank. Then the men who stood there lifted them up and showed them a star and a sun. This I saw in the eyes of the old man. The old man said: “You have perceived” and he sank into the earth.”

This vision reveals the possibility of true perception, simply what is beyond the veils of our stories. Jung interpreted the river of writhing bodies as, “Like the wheel in Buddhistic philosophy, death and rebirth, the curse of that eternal illusory meaningless existence. In this vision we find the same principle as in Buddhism, the consciousness of what is happening as a redeeming principle.”

Jung goes on to say: “…that river only makes sense if a few escape and become conscious, that the purpose of existence is that one should become conscious. Consciousness redeems one from the curse of that eternal flowing on in the river of unconsciousness.”

Jan’s opening quote about her detachment from the novel of her life, as it devolved into the collapse of the world she had always known, landed her into the bowels of truth that ultimately released her from the current of unconsciousness, spitting her out upon the shore to become a riverwalker, one who walks along the river’s edge consciously grounded in the truth.

Consciousness is pure perception. Consciousness is life outside the story. Total acceptance of what is, of what was, is the bridge beyond the confines even of the story of time. Timelessness is infinity, and freedom from story releases us to perceive all that is beyond story time. In Buddhism this state is known as diamond mind, the true nature of mind.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico called this state inner silence, the springboard to infinity. For them the storyteller within is the incessant internal dialogue that interprets, that is, puts into story format all that we encounter. Freedom from the mesmerizing spells of the internal dialogue is both simple and the hardest thing to achieve.

Suspend judgment, the Shamans recommend. You don’t have to stop the story, but with consciousness you simply acknowledge what it is—a story—and cease to give it attention. You step outside the river, the current of thought, label it for what it is, and like Buddha, don’t attach. Simply perceive what is, beyond story.

Riverwalking,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Ego & Entity**

We are more than we think we are... like this double shadowed being! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We are more than we think we are…
like this double shadowed being!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

If you break it down, the term “un-conscious” is just that—all that we are that we are simply not aware of.

Ego is that part of us that we are aware or “conscious” of. Hence, ego and unconscious comprise the sum of all that we are, the known and the unknown.

Freud was able to prove that disturbing parts of who we are can be pushed out of awareness into the unconscious through a defense mechanism he called repression. Jung subsequently discovered that other parts of who we are, that go deep into our ancestry and phylogenetic heritage, reside in what he called the collective unconscious. These parts appear in dreams, visions, and fantasy and may powerfully influence the quality and behavior of our lives. Jung further discovered that the collective unconscious eventuates in infinity and houses the spirit side of who we are.

Entity can be defined as an autonomous character that is active in the unconscious part of who we are. For a variety of reasons it comes to the surface of our conscious minds and challenges the ego to contend with its will and message.

An example of this might be a conscious personality that sees itself as peaceful and loving suddenly seized by a powerful emotion of rage and unpleasant thoughts as regards a friend or family member. Perhaps in a dream that night an acquaintance they haven’t heard from in decades is encountered. When they amplify the dream by recalling the personality of the dream character, the image of an aggressive bully comes to light, someone they never felt comfortable being around in their youth.

In this example the ego is confronted with a challenge. This exaggerated bully character is certainly a hard one to “own” as a part of one’s own self. This character hardly fits the definition of one’s conscious values and how one knows oneself. However, the problem that has arisen is that one’s own ego is struggling to accept that something has irritated it and that it has an aggressive reaction to someone close to them. This is simply incompatible with how one sees oneself!

The tendency might be to see the appearance of that childhood bully in the dream as a reminder of an evil entity that tried to take possession of the ego and force it into hateful, rageful feelings and thoughts. The strategy may then call for disowning the anger and turning instead to loving thoughts for one’s close friend or family member.

However, a more astute and honest reflection might reveal that the ego has had too narrow a definition of itself, seeing itself only as positive and softly loving, disavowing the stronger and more assertive side of itself. As a consequence, the dream image of the bully may have arisen from the unconscious as a character who could balance out the extreme one-sidedness of the conscious attitude of lovingness with an equally one-sided attitude of aggressive behavior. In this scenario, the unconscious entity compensates for the ego’s imbalance, demonstrating to it the results of its narrow definition of itself, presenting it with the far greater depths of who it really is.

Taken this way, the ego is offered the opportunity to drop its false pretenses of an all-loving being and make peace with its, at times, aggressive reactions. The ego, upon further reflection, might discover that its aggressive reaction to a loved one might in fact be the most appropriate reaction to have, as that person might be taking excessive advantage of one’s loving and giving attitude and require a boundary!

Somewhere in all that darkness and confusion there is a centered and calm being... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Somewhere in all that darkness and confusion there is a centered and calm being…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Of course, if the ego is fully honest with itself it might have to admit that the outer problem probably arose in the first place because the ego felt too uncomfortable with confrontation and sought refuge in its one-sided definition of a loving self, a definition way too narrow to encompass the fuller definition of one’s true Self.

Thus, when ego encounters an entity within, it first does well to question what might have given rise to this entity at this particular time. Before casting out the devil, make sure the devil isn’t the Self in disguise!

Reflecting,

Chuck

** Please note that last week’s blog is now also available for viewing: Orgasm As Divine Encounter

Chuck’s Place: Trickster To Trickster

At a certain level of reality, I and We become One. Growth might be defined as an ever-expanding realization of our essential Oneness. In the meantime, we grapple with the discovery, ownership, and coordination of our many parts.

Who is really in charge here? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Who is really in charge here?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Within the self of every “individual” are many parts: some known, many unknown, and still others disowned. Psychology has coined the terms conscious and unconscious to differentiate between those parts that we know about from those that we don’t know about but also are.

At the center of the known self—the seat of consciousness—is the ego. The ego has many “parts,” including the “face” it shows the world, called the persona, as well as a younger child state, and an adult state. Each of these parts has its own ambitions, needs, and motives. Being conscious “parts” allows each of these centers to have relative accessibility to awareness. That is, we are basically familiar with these states of being. They may, and often do, squabble among themselves.

For instance, the persona—the actor that we present to the world—often sees itself as the true self. The fact that I am a psychotherapist is indeed a real part of me, however, it is not the whole of who I am.

In another example, the adult ego, with its capacity to plan, organize, and make things happen, may trump the needs and desires of its child part, who wants to play.

The permutation of struggles at the ego level alone are staggering, particularly when the parts become tricksters in their maneuvering.

Trickster is a character who has an ulterior motive, a secret ambition or intention that powers its behavior. Trickster has little interest in fairness, cooperation, or consciousness. It’s goal is to get what it wants.

Trickster may be intelligent and cunning, or foolish and obvious, but trickster definitely does not play by the rules. Nonetheless, if we are willing to slow down the action and reflect, the trickster in all our conscious parts can be identified and a resolution to contradictory motives becomes possible.

However, when we approach the depths of the unconscious mind the plot thickens, as trickster can allude all but a very determined introspection.

The unconscious mind, all that we don’t know of who we are, is composed of countless layers. The uppermost region houses all that once was conscious but for a myriad of reasons has been erased from conscious awareness. Here we find many traumatic experiences, as well as parts of the ego-potential deemed unworthy of development.

Traumatic parts have a life of their own and often function as tricksters bent on being discovered by the conscious mind. For instance, a news item on TV might trigger an intense emotional overreaction, brought on by a traumatic memory insisting on being consciously redeemed.

Similarly, rejected ego parts—forming what Jung called the shadow—may function as tricksters by projecting a compelling but distorted perception onto the motives  of a friend or foe that actually reflects the true feelings of the rejected inner part but completely distorts outer reality.

As we go deeper into the unconscious mind we encounter what Jung called the anima/animus parts, the contrasexual components of the psyche, unrealized at a conscious level. These parts have their trickster ability to project themselves in powerful attractions to people in the world that distort completely who they really are. These trickster entrapments form the core of many troubled relationships.

At the center of the unconscious mind is the Self, the CEO of the entire psyche. The role of the Self is to establish balance in the entire psyche—conscious and unconscious. The Self is the higher power of the psyche. Ideally, the ego center of the conscious personality will subordinate itself to the dictates of the Self, which has the interests of the greater whole in mind.

Unfortunately, the ego often takes on its own trickster side, subverting the true needs of the Self, using all its power for decision and free will to accomplish its own aims.

If the imbalance thereby generated is too extreme, the Self counters with its own trickster side and generates symptoms of fear in the ego, such as an agoraphobia, where the ego can’t leave the house. To rein the ego in, the Self can also create psychosomatic symptoms, such as panic attacks or physical illness, to interfere with the ego’s willfulness.

The Self might also generate dreams that preempt the ego’s control through a terrifying nightmare that restores the waking ego to humility.

Yup, that says it all! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Yup, that says it all!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The difference between Self as trickster and all the other personality parts as trickster is its selfless intentions. The Self seeks unity and balance as its aim. When the other parts of the personality employ the trickster, it generally reflects a power play to meet individual needs, often at the expense of the greater needs of the overall Self.

The Self is only forced to become the trickster when the ego refuses to listen to its guidance. When the ego, like a good General, looks to the Self as Ruler, the Self responds with supportive guidance, energy, and freedom from symptoms.

So, trickster to trickster, stay in alignment with the Self, a much smoother ride to wholeness!

Bumping along,

Chuck