Tag Archives: wake up

Chuck’s Place: Spirit In Tent

We must all prepare for our own vision quest... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We must all prepare for our own vision quest…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

After four sweat lodges and several days on a vision quest, Jonas Elrod—the seeker who made the documentary Wake Up that Jan references in her blog earlier this week—reaches out to God, as throughout his quest his concept of God has constantly changed and now he is befuddled. He begs for clarity on the meaning of God, of religion, the correct path, etc., and is met with a vision of fingers pointing at a bigtop tent. He sees that the tent is empty, the posts fall down and the tent collapses. This vision is accompanied by the words: “All pointers point in the same direction.” He understands that what he seeks has nothing to do with religion or church, that there is no life, or only the illusion of life, inside the tent, inside the church. Inside the tent there is nothing.

Jung unmasked the same truth about modern religion: dogma and ritual are dressed in archetypal wrappings with no life inside them, no pathways to spirit. In his youth, Jung had a powerful dream where the heavens opened up and dropped excrement upon the church steeple. He was to spend the rest of his life carving a pathway to spirit for modern humanity.

Jung journeyed through the ancient religions, East and West, in search of valid pathways to the soul. He, like Joseph Campbell, discovered that religious symbolism and practice were relative to the time and place of their emergence. The gods and saviors of one era were merely local masks or pathways to spirit that fit the style and custom of those times. Evolution, however, requires that new pathways emerge, relevant to changing times. All religions that cling to the images of another time cannot support or transport the modern soul to its destiny and fulfillment.

Jung’s greatest discovery was that connection to spirit lies not in attachment to some mask of God, but in direct contact with spirit in numinous experience. Jung’s process of psychotherapy opens the door to direct encounter, direct experience, direct communication between consciousness and the greater self—Spirit—to arrive at healing and fulfillment. The challenge for all seekers and initiates, of all times, is to take the journey into the unknown—like Jonas Elrod did—to become heroes in search of their souls. Such a journey means encountering, confronting, and slaying all the energies that lie in the unknown, in the form of sensations, intense emotions, and powerful beliefs and images.

Do we need to be inside the tent? -Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Do we need to be inside the tent?
-Photo by Chuck Ketchel

In our time, the quest for wholeness with spirit has been largely projected outwardly onto materialism, romanticism, and consumption. As a consequence, spirit has lodged itself inside the empty circus tent of consumerism on a grand scale, in the empty search for romantic love, in the desire for more, and in the addiction to substance. Modern humanity is compelled to seek its wholeness in the tent of emptiness. Spirit is behind this, but as a trickster now, ravaging us with knocks of the spirit as we relentlessly grasp for our wholeness in that which shines with promise.

Spirit comes in the form of the trickster because it needs to meet us where our projections are caught. It’s the only way we can engage it, so it meets us where we are. If we are bent on romantic love that’s where spirit will meet us. It has to have us wake up to our fixation—that’s not a judgment. God comes in the form that God comes in, to wake us up. Hence, the emptiness of the tent, because that’s where we all are. It’s only through fully grasping and crushing in the emptiness, in collapsing that empty tent, that we will be forged for the next step of the journey—direct experience within.

Bill W., ultimately through a connection with Jung, had his direct experience in a vision that lifted his thirst for spirit without—from “spirits”—to spirit within, to inner union and wholeness. AA was founded on direct contact with spirit, with the mask of spirit unmasked. As spirit is freed of its empty substance container, it is brought home, inwardly to self. Thus, AA works as a valid religion when its adherents find their way to direct experience and union with spirit within. Short of that, AA leads only to control of dry spirits.

Jung warned against the seduction of adopting the garbs of exotic practices and ritual as a replacement for empty local religions. He frowned upon yoga and Buddhism replacing religion in the West. Though I think his warning is valid, he himself used yoga to withstand the energies of the collective unconscious as he went deeper into his own night sea journey. The message being: take what works, but go inward and do the work there rather than wearing it outwardly.

We're all just searching for the same thing... what really lies deeper within... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We’re all just searching for the same thing… what really lies deeper within…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The key to direct experience lies in the methodologies, not the wrappings of many ancient traditions. Witness the sweat lodge and the vision quest in Wake Up.

So do engage in the practices of yoga or the meditation techniques of Buddhism, the prayers of many traditions, and the many worlds of dreaming, or whatever works for you.

When Carlos Castaneda would discuss the Magical Passes of Tensegrity, he’d exclaim: “Suspend judgment! Just do it and see what happens!” In other words, avoid the trappings of faith, belief and deity. Just do the techniques, and see what happens: Communion, or not?

Furthermore, if your spirit lands somewhere in the circus tent just accept it. You must pursue it until you unmask its emptiness—the direct experience of emptiness. This is what Jonas Elrod finally achieved during his own spiritual quest, the emptiness that led to his own direct experience.

From the emptiness of the circus tent, you may be ready to encounter spirit directly, in direct experience at home, in the depths of the self.

From in tent,

A Day in a Life: To The Wonder

One day our spirit comes buzzing, asking us to "see"... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
One day our spirit comes buzzing, asking us to “see”…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We watch a documentary. A small, insignificant moment in the film stays with me. I am struck by the scene in which a father, a Native American, holding his infant son in his arms, says that his child still sees all that the rest of us can no longer see, the spirits of the ancestors, the energy all around us.

While the father is speaking, the child repeatedly bats him in the face. At one point it looks as if he’s biting his father on the cheek or neck. The child laughs at something he sees. The father looks upon the child with love and tenderness, taking the swats and bites in stride, aware that his child is innocent, full of all that we are born with. How can he be angry or resentful; how can he take personally the assaults of his innocent young son who is so full of wonder?

The father is present as a mindfully aware observer. He is fully aware of all that his son embodies. He is tenderly and lovingly appreciative of this son so full of life and innocence, fully aware that his son is on his own journey. With this awareness the father is able to remain stable and loving, no matter what the child does. This is what Chuck wrote about in his recent blog, Synchronicities & A Tale Of Two Siblings. This is what we are all challenged to uphold, for the duration of the lives that we are privileged to be but a small part of. Our children are full of wonder. I have written about this myself in a previous blog—Who are you?—as a mother looking into the faces of my newborns, wondering who they might become.

We must remember that we are all innocent at our cores. We must treat ourselves with the same tenderness and calmness as the father in the film treats his son. We must stand present as the knowing adult self and allow ourselves to take our unfolding journeys. We must free ourselves of our emotional trappings, the things that hold us back, that keep us encapsulated in doubt and fear, in resentment and self-pity, that keep us from acknowledging the bigger picture that the father in the film so clearly sees.

This is what we do when we recapitulate. We allow ourselves to take the journey to retrieve our innocence, so that we may take up our true journey at the point where our innocence was interrupted. We are all seeking a reconnection with our innocence, with all that it knows, all that it sees. As we struggle through life, we are all asked, repeatedly, to wake up and return to this innocent, true, self.

Wake up to your own radiance, said the caller! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Wake up to your own radiance, said the caller!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In my own case, my big wake-up call came back in 1997, when I was granted a vision of my future. I have written about this in The Man in the Woods and elsewhere, indeed all my books encompass this theme, the call of my spirit and my own endeavors to respond, and to keep responding. I knew back in 1997 that if I did not answer the call that I would die. My spirit was calling to me because it was being smothered. But I was also aware that I would physically die as well if I did not excavate my buried spirit. This is the kind of call that comes only once. This is the call that must be answered.

The small snippet of a scene that I refer to with the Native American father and his infant son is from a documentary called Wake Up, the story of a young man who did one day wake up to discover that he had the ability to see, what the Shamans of Ancient Mexico call seeing energy as it flows through the universe. In opening up to discovering why and what seeing meant for him, the young man in the film began opening himself to the energy of life as it flows in the universe. Maturity comes in being able to balance the innocence of seeing within a meaningful and productive life, allowing it to seamlessly flow in waking and dreaming, always learning, always heeding the next call.

We often wake up in our dreams, knowing that we have woken up and yet knowing that we are still dreaming. Within this kind of lucid dreaming is the opportunity to experience ourselves as energy, as innocent as that infant in the film, seeing the same way the young man in the film sees. This same kind of waking up is available to us over and over again in our everyday world, in this dream of real life. The opportunities never stop, the wake up calls keep coming. Why is it so much harder to wake up in this life and experience it with lucidity, than it is to wake up in our dreams?

In our dreams, we are already in our energy bodies. We are in an altered state, flowing with the energy of the universe, already in the collective, interconnected energy that we all experience whether we are aware of it or not. At different times in our lives, however, we are given the opportunity to become like the innocent infant again, to truly awaken and see once again. These are the times when our wake-up calls come.

What do you see? I see two tree spirits passionately kissing! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
What do you see? I see two tree spirits passionately kissing!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In order to be able to handle what comes to us, we must take in the bigger picture, as the Native American father in the film so easily does. We must let in what our innocence is trying to tell us in the context of lives lived and life still to come. During recapitulation we train ourselves to be able to do this. Keep in mind that recapitulation takes place on an energetic plane, just as dreaming does. We are fully in our energy bodies when we access a memory; we are like lucid dreamers. And yet we must also be the adult self, like the Native American father, who stands aside and looks on with awe.

We can always decide to go back to sleep; that’s our prerogative. But, as we recapitulate and achieve a new kind of balance in the flow of our lives, we must remember that our spirit will keep sending us wake us calls. That’s its job, to always remind us that if we don’t keep waking up we’ll miss out on the transformational!

To the wonder of it all,