Tag Archives: wholeness

Chuck’s Place: The New Ethic—Wholeness

Now in the cauldron... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Now in the cauldron…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

As current events clearly evidence, we, as a world, are in a heated cauldron of violently clashing energies. What is cooking in the cauldron will eventuate in a newly formed world which includes a reconciliation of all the factions currently at war.

Erich Neumann, a German Jewish Zionist psychologist and medical doctor, who settled in Palestine in 1934 and who was also Jung’s greatest protege took up the issue of this great transformation, in the midst of World War II, in his book, Depth Psychology and a New Ethic. In this concise work, Neumann made clear that the core issue that confronts both the individual and the human species as a whole is its confrontation with the shadow side of its nature.

The ethic that has guided humankind to its current state of consciousness has split the self into good and evil. The dark, evil side of the self is rejected, denied, suppressed and repressed. This gives rise to a scapegoat phenomenon where the dark side of the self is projected onto the darker or weaker “other,” currently the Muslims, illegal immigrants, resident people of color, and women. An effort is made to rid and protect the self from the dangerous other through walls, bombs, prisons, and destruction of Planned Parenthood, to give a few examples.

We have reached the stage where the disowning of our own darkness and the destruction of its projected carrier has reached lethal proportions everywhere in the world today. There is no safe place.

For Neumann, the old ethic of maintaining world order through splitting, projecting, and destruction will be replaced by a new ethic of wholeness. Wholeness means the truthful acceptance and integration of all that we are into a balanced whole. Being “good” or being “bad” are replaced by being “whole.”

Being whole means loving all that we are. Loving means full acceptance of the truth of all that we are. This includes acceptance of all of our animal, physical, instinctual, earthy, emotional impulses as real parts of who we are. Loving means sitting with the emotional tension of all of the most abhorrent and unacceptable parts of the self and finding a creative way to integrate them into our lives.

The old solution of suppression and repression, of negative judgment toward and denial of the dark side of the self can no longer be contained in the scapegoat mentality which now threatens to tear us, as a world, into bits. We can no longer seek refuge in the purely spiritual. Even Tibet, the holiest of holies, was forced into diaspora, to foreign soils of lowly earth beyond the sanctuary of secluded mountaintops. There is no sanctuary in spirit alone.

Humankind must value and reconcile with its creature side; spirit alone is one-sided and falsely representative of what we are. And our materialness, the earth—the feminine—must be granted its true throne as the other side of God, the material, instinctive, and wild as equal.

To accept does not mean to give carte blanche to all that we are. To accept means to suffer the tumult of finding wholeness. Nothing is condemned in wholeness, but again, this is not license to act out the forbidden, though it will require a journey with the forbidden.

Compassion within leads to compassion without... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Compassion within leads to compassion without…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

On the journey to wholeness the judgments of good and bad are suspended. Good and bad are labels for different parts of the self. In wholeness, all parts must be accepted. How could it be otherwise? How can we be whole if we eliminate parts we don’t like about ourselves?

Acceptance then comes in the bearing of tension of the unacceptable and finding a way to creatively being all that we are, in a new balance that takes life forward in a new direction, into a new ethic of wholeness.

It is from this new ethic of wholeness that we can look at all sides of ourselves with equal love and compassion. And indeed, full acceptance and integration of the shadow within the self offers the basis for true compassion without.

Bearing the tension of the opposites,




Chuck’s Place: We’re All In The Same Dream

Chuck starts off with our first blog of the New Year, restating the intent that we embody, to take full responsibility for who we are and how we choose to participate in the dream of this reality. It’s what we at Riverwalker Press are all about. As the New Year begins we invite all of you to participate in dreaming a new dream with us. Happy New Year!

Warmly, with love and gratitude from us both,
Chuck and Jan

This is the dream we are in today... What does your dream look like? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
This is the dream we are in today…
What does your dream look like?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Every cell in our body has a life of its own. It is challenged daily to obtain necessary resources for its survival, maintain balance, rid itself of wastes and spawn new life. Little does that single cell know that it is actually part of a much greater integrated whole, a human body.

The interdependent reality of our wholeness escapes us as we focus daily, like every single cell within us, on our individual tasks of survival and fulfillment. Nonetheless, if we contemplate our greater cosmic reality, perhaps we might glimpse, through reason or intuition or experience, the oneness of everything. And, from that place of oneness, all of us are responsible for the dream we are in and where we are going to take it. We are all empowered, through consciousness and intent, to advance the dream, that is, to change the world we live in.

Over the past couple of days, the stock market has been in a downslide. Why? Because the price of oil has been plunging rapidly. Meanwhile, the auto industry has had its best year in sales in decades, due in large part to increased sales of gas guzzlers, the consequence of cheaper gas. Meanwhile, many, whose economic survival is dependent upon the stock market, are faced with threatening losses as “safe” investments like oil plummet in value. Behind all these challenges to daily survival lies the reality that fossil fuels are a major contributor to the rapid destabilization and destruction of the planet that feeds and houses us.

We, as individuals, are empowered to decide where this dream will go next. Many are so focused on personal survival that they feel obliged to make the best investments, irrespective of environmental consequences or the total destruction of lives and cultures outside of their own. Gas guzzling cars are one of the things that most of us use daily and yet most people can’t afford to switch up to hybrid vehicles or they are drawn to the perks of less fuel efficient cars, while still others have much more basic needs of daily survival, putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads.

If we look to government to solve the greater issue of climate change we are confronted with the likes of today’s headlines: Big Threat For Obama’s Climate Efforts From GOP-Run Congress.* It’s easy to indulge in powerlessness and point fingers at the GOP, but to be truly responsible we must examine the GOP within ourselves. No one can separate themselves from deciding which way this dream will unfold; we’re all part of the same whole.

The GOP reflects an old dream that insists that the world is ours for the taking, that consideration beyond the needs of self and ours is unnecessary. That dream downplays the interdependent reality and the global concerns that effect us all and instead focuses on the individual’s responsibility to ensure survival of the personal dream. That dream has been given full latitude to play itself out and now finds itself approaching nightmare, as that dream and the world it has generated are unsustainable. This nightmare has caused many to wake up and face the facts, but still many others, reflected in the newly elected American Congress, remain staunch champions of the supremacy of the old dream; self above all.

The truth is, we are all living cells of the same dream, each empowered to decide, within the context of our own lives, which way the dream will proceed. On a concrete level, if I refuse to invest in fossil fuels, I am changing the dream. If I choose to buy a fuel-efficient car, regardless of other sales’ enticements, I choose a different dream. If I choose to replace my light bulbs with an expensive, highly efficient LED bulb, I choose a different dream. There are even simpler choices we can all make, such as to recycle or to be less wasteful overall.

How powerful a little pocket of intent is! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
How powerful a little pocket of intent is!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

When Jeanne was in this world—as the Hindus say: at the gross level of reality—she strongly preached the power of the purse to effect change. Now she resides fully in the astral plane, the next, finer dimension of reality that houses our soul or spirit, guiding us to exercise the power of intent to effect change in our lives within and without. Though the main fuel of the astral dimension, intent is equally effective in the gross dimension of our reality, awaiting our discovery of its power.

When we pray, when we state our intent, repeat our mantras, send love and compassion, we are transforming the dream world we are in. Everyone who loves their enemy reconciles with their own divided wholeness and advances the dream.

If I can love the GOP within myself—the part that demands individual responsibility but is also so susceptible to self interest—exploitative and greedy—I can make responsible choices in the myriad of decisions I make today to advance the dream in a new direction for all living beings. Such a decision might be as simple as where I choose to place my awareness, how I choose to think or spend my personal energy.

If worry and fear beckon, I might shift to some moments of intentional release of tension in my body, into calm, deliberate breathing. This simple act changes the energy I bring to the integrated wholeness of the one dream that we all live in and are dreaming together.

Imagine if each of us decided to awaken to the power of intent and bring it into the gross dimension that we all live in in such a calm and nurturing way. It might just be a strong enough intent to course-correct the orbit of the dream we are now in, sending us into a new dream of sustainability. We are never powerless.

Staying awake in the dream,

* Headline in The Huffington Post January 6, 2015

Chuck’s Place: The Three Vexations

[Here is Chuck’s blog for this week. We are dealing with some computer issues and thus no pictures accompany this post. Look for a blog from Jan later in the week. In the meantime, here is some good stuff to ponder as you take your own deepening journey. And don’t forget to check in each morning for our daily Soulbytes!]

In his 1477 poem, the Ordinal of Alchemy, Thomas Norton, the English alchemist, warns any seeker of this Sacred Art of three major trials: haste, despair, and deception. These three devils are the gargoyles that all would-be adepts must pass by if they are to find the path to achieve the Opus, the Grail Cup.

In modern terms, seekers of individuation through the path of psychotherapy and recapitulation will meet these same vexations cast upon their conscious intent.

Norton states: “He who is in a hurry will complete his work neither in a month, nor yet in a year, and in this Art it will always be true that the man [or woman] who is in a hurry will never be without matter of complaint…” (Anatomy of the Psyche, Edinger, p. 5)

We enter psychotherapy because life circumstances have mobilized our ego intent to find resolution to the conflicts that thwart our fulfillment. Our mobilized ego is frustrated or in great pain and is highly pressured to achieve freedom from these constraints. These are the conditions that set the stage for haste. We want to move on quickly, move deeper into life. We do not want to suffer a moment longer.

The rationalistic psychologies of the modern world promise just such results with well-laid out plans and programs promising great success. Would that the problems that befront us were all of the world of reason! Unfortunately, to solve our deepest issues we must sink into the depths of nature, far beyond the purview of reason. And for this healing adventure the ego’s demand for results in a timely fashion will only be met with disappointment and complaint. To enter the depths of the psyche we enter a world outside our familiar space and time where we must acquiesce to the healing tides of nature.

“If the enemy does not prevail against you with hurry, he will assualt you with despondency, and will be constantly putting into your minds discouraging thoughts, how those who seek this Art are many, while they are few who find it, and how those who fail are often wiser…than yourself.” (Ibid., p. 5)

Deflation of the ego, diminished self-worth and self-esteem, negative thinking, doubt that things will ever get better—these are the many faces of despair that seek to derail the concerted effort needed to prevail through the long, arduous, and often physically painful and emotionally terrifying journey into the inferno of recapitulation. A willingness to keep the candle of intent lit within the self, even though one feels utterly alone and abandoned as one takes the journey into the abyss, is critical if one is to prevail through this trial of despair.

“The third enemy whom you must guard against is deceit, and this is perhaps more dangerous than the other two…” (Ibid., p. 5)

By deceit, I believe Norton is referring to the helpers who come to serve the journey. Many of these so called “helpers” are the characters of the shadow self, entities that offer insights or respites in the form of inflations and addictions in exchange for allowing them to act out or take possession of our lives as we traverse our journey.

There are many tricksters within the self promising treasures in exchange for habits that subtlely drain our energy and resolve as we struggle to keep our course set on our goal of wholeness. Many an oasis offered can be a tricky resting place, claiming decades of our lives while we wait to awaken from our slumbers in a poppy field of a needed break.

Know that the vexations of haste, despair, and deception are the guardians of all paths of heart. They cannot be avoided. Better to see them as worthy opponents that forge us into the Grail Cup that can fully contain our wholeness, the goal of the opus.

We are all taking the journey in one form or another,

Chuck’s Place: The Opus of OCD

Alchemy in nature... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Alchemy in nature…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be viewed as the psyche’s attempt to achieve its wholeness through the ego’s encounter with its projections upon the outside world. On the surface this might appear contradictory to the debilitating impact of obsessions and compulsions, but a deeper understanding of the psyche’s drive for perfection, through the challenge of sorting through this disorder, may serve to redirect the focus of these powerful debilitations toward the far greater opus of achieving wholeness.

Carl Jung spent much of his professional career rescuing the archaic texts of alchemy from obscurity and through channeling alchemical information from the Akashic Records through various alchemical characters of his active imagination. Many astute clinical scholars have been utterly perplexed at the clinical usefulness of these musings. Jung never cared much for making his discoveries easily understood; he was an avid explorer of the unconscious who left for the future the task of discerning their pragmatic utility. Hardly a scholar, I find myself nonetheless tasked with making some of his discoveries relevant. And so, with OCD I find incredible alchemical relevancy.

Alchemy was, in an outer sense, the precursor of modern chemistry. But at its inner core, alchemy was the mystical tradition of many renowned scientists—Sir Isaac Newton among them—who sought to experience and resolve the mysteries of the soul. The opus of the alchemist was to take matter and transform it through a series of processes into gold, the symbol of ultimate value. These processes involved the differentiation, purification and synthesis of opposing elements into a cohesive whole. Similarly, the goal of human life is to reconcile the great polarities of living in this world with the energetic dimension beyond this world to achieve a golden wholeness of completion.

The alchemist started with matter in all its impurities—called the nigredo—that is, matter in its completely contaminated, mixed up state. It was then subjected to a series of alchemical operations to reach the full purity of gold. These purification processes included such functions as solutio, the dissolution of matter in water, as well as calcificatio, the burning off of impurities by fire. Jung saw these steps in the process as the alchemist’s projection of their own psyches onto the matter, and their ultimate art as a process of transformation. Transformation requires a sealed container where these operations can be securely housed.

In OCD, the psyche frequently projects the impurity of its internal polarities onto the contents of the material world. This intermingling is analogous to the mixing of the contaminated material at the beginning of the alchemist’s opus. In OCD, powerful compulsions elicit behaviors to separate out this contamination through ritual practices. An individual under the influence of these powerful projections is tormented by the potential danger of contamination and frequently engages the alchemical function of solutio—excessive hand washing, for instance—to rid the self of the impurities of contamination. Eventually, these unconscious projections inundate and ultimately overwhelm and severely restrict even the simplest of functions in daily life.

Beginnings of transformation... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Beginnings of transformation…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The opus for OCD treatment becomes one of detaching from the control of, and the automatic infliction of, the projections onto the outer world. The ego cannot control the projections, but it can take a behavioral stand against the compulsions that issue forth from the unconscious. Thus, although an obsession insists that “I’m contaminated” after a handshake, I can refuse to do the cleansing behavior that the compulsion insists upon as a means of relief. The true cleansing, the true purification process rests here, in the ego’s stand for reality over the projective veils of illusion. Here the ego acts as the sealed container for the alchemical process by bearing the tension of the urges of the projective psyche through not following its commands.

In its contained retort, the ego seals in the energy of the projective psyche and bears the mounting tension of its energetic pressure. This mounting pressure, seeking release, is the fire that then burns through the veils of the projective illusions. The substance is clarified and true reality is readied for synthesis into gold. The ego, thus having passed its test, accrues a piece of its lost wholeness. The Opus of OCD meanwhile moves on to its next mysterious projective challenge.

Eventually, the energies of the psyche transform OCD itself into a fact of a former life, no longer an energetic determinant. When that happens, the clarified energetic awareness thus achieved moves forward, freed to see and be in the world as it truly is.

Everything matters,

Chuck’s Place: Sobriety & Ecstasy

Mastery of ecstasy leads to wholeness… - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Mastery of ecstasy leads to wholeness…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

Addiction is a very pejorative term for behavior that seeks, at its heart, some form of ecstatic joy, comfort, and satiation in transcendental wholeness. The addict pursues bliss with dogged determination, regardless of the negative fallout generated by the object of choice.

Of necessity, we focus on the toxic fallout of the chosen object, but, in so doing, neglect the purity of the underlying need. All humans are driven to seek union with their lost wholeness—it’s the core riddle of life in the human form—the golden treasure that lies at the center of our existence.

Once the addict has glimpsed this golden treasure through the path of chosen object, that object invites the addict on a journey of compulsive desperation, as the object, unable to deliver the addict to the promised land, becomes a source of increasingly diminishing returns.

The only cure for addiction is the mastery of ecstasy.

Sobriety is really the establishment of an adult personality that can withstand the impact of our true wholeness. We must first be able to withstand the full truth of the wholeness of the life we have lived—with all its traumas, choices, disappointments, and losses—in order to clear the channel to transcendent wholeness. Short of this, the quest for wholeness is commandeered by the need to stay whole through numbness that obliterates the discomfort of life unaccepted.

We will not be able to tolerate all that we must feel and release without the sober grounding of the adult self. Don Juan Matus stated that for shamans to face infinity, they must first master life’s apprenticeship by facing the cruelest of petty tyrants without regressing into the shields of self-pity and entitlement. Such attachments, like addiction, are traps that keep our liberation bound to numbing objects, as we remain disconnected from our wholeness.

Only the maturity of our sober adult self can take the journey through life’s deepest somber truths and free the self to open to love and the ecstasy of transcendent wholeness. Only the sober adult is ready for the real deal.

The addict, meanwhile, repeatedly seeking the satiation of deepest need in the object of choice, can’t get away from its dogged pursuit. When the addict finds true sobriety, with the adult self in charge, the road is cleared to transcendent ecstasy—life’s true deepest quest.

Wishing you all mastery of ecstasy,