Innovation is the spark which brings wise traditions to life

Ramanuja was a brilliant educator...There is a story about him and a teacher that he studied with. The teacher gave him a sacred mantra which was so powerful supposed to take him to heaven. The teacher gravely cautioned him not to share the mantra with anyone - it was not to be given out indiscriminately and doing that carried the apparent penalty of going to hell. Ramanuja promptly went away and taught the mantra to hundreds of people. The teacher was furious. He demanded to know what the hell Ramanuja thought he was doing. Ramanuja simply replied that if one man had to go to hell to liberate hundreds of others then it was the most empowering use of the situation. The teacher was speechless. Great men are always great innovators and selfless (as far as is practically possible).

Having seen up close the education systems of several countries around the planet...I know an innovator when I see one. Ron Clark is a wonderful example:

http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=qc9TrHlqq_I
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=LOxHZVx7XHs&feature=related
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x56m62_ron-clark-story-2006_shortfilms
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Clark

India needs a revolution in education. The law here says that a school cannot be a business. Absolutely stupid! Every school is a business...if you don't get the business side right its very very hard to get decent education. Of course you can go to an extreme on this and there are of course lots of expensive mediocre schools. But in India the mass of schools have teachers who are not paid even close to a dignified wage. That MUST change. Now there is a challenge.... Something tells me this is the next evolutionary wave in the work that Mohammmed Yunus pioneered - taking micro-finance to education.

If we don't value our teachers...our world is not a very intelligent place. Which is more often than not what it sadly is.

Some background on Ramanuja from Wikipedia:

His life:

From a young age, his intelligence and ability to comprehend highly abstract philosophical points were legendary. He took initiation from Yadavaprakasa, a renowned Advaitic scholar. Though his new guru was highly impressed with his analytical ability, he was quite concerned by how much emphasis Ramanuja placed on bhakti. After frequent clashes over interpretation, Yadavaprakasa decided the young Ramanuja was becoming too much of a threat and plotted a way to kill him. However, Ramanuja's cousin Govinda Bhatta (a favourite of Yadavaprakasa) discovered the plot and helped him escape. An alternative version is that one of Yadavaprakasa's students plotted to kill Ramanuja as a means of pleasing their teacher, but Sri Ramanuja escaped in the afore-mentioned manner. Yadavaprakasa was horrified when learnt about the conspiracy. Ramanuja returned to Yadavaprakasa's tutelage but after another disagreement, Yadavaprakasa asked him to leave. Ramanuja's childhood mentor, Kancipurna, suggested he meet with Kancipurna's own guru, Yamunacharya. After renouncing the life of a house-holder, Ramanuja travelled to Srirangam to meet an aging Yamunacharya, a philospoher of the remergent Vishishtadvaita school of thought. Yamunacharya had died prior to Ramanuja's arrival. Followers of Ramanuja relate the legend that three fingers of Yamunacharya's corpse were curled. Ramanuja saw this and understood that Yamunacharya was concerned about three tasks. Ramanuja vowed to complete these--

* Teach the doctrine of Saranagati (surrender) to God as the means to moksha.
* Write a Visishtadvaita Bhashya for the Brahma Sutras of Vyasa which had previously been taught orally to the disciples of the Visishtadvaita philosophy.
* That the names of Paraśara, the author of Vishnu Purana, and saint Śaţhakopa should be perpetuated.

Legend goes that on hearing the vow, the three fingers on the corpse straightened. Ramanuja accepted Yamunacharya as his Manasika Acharya and spent 6 months being introduced to Yamunacharya's philosophy by his disciple, Mahapurna although he did not formally join the community for another year. Ramanuja's wife followed very strict brahminical rules of the time and disparaged Mahapurna's wife as being of lower subcaste. Mahapurna and his wife left Srirangam. Ramanuja realized that his life as a householder was interfering with his philosophical pursuit as he and his wife had differing views. He sent her to her parent's house and renounced family and became a sanyasin. Ramanuja started travelling the land, having philosophical debates with the custodians of various Vishnu temples. Many of them, after losing the debates, became his disciples. Ramanuja standardized the liturgy at these temples and increased the standing and the membership of the srivaishnava school of thought. He wrote his books during this time. Ramanuja, who was a Vaishnavite, might have faced threats from some Shaivite Chola rulers who were religiously intolerant . Ramanuja and a few of his followers moved to the Hoysala kingdom of Jain king Bittideva and queen Shantala Devi in Karnataka. Bittideva converted to Srivaishanavism, in some legends after Ramanuja cured his daughter of evil spirits, and took the name Vishnuvardhana meaning "one who grows the sect of Vishnu". However, the queen and many of the ministers remained Jain and the kingdom was known for its tolerance. Ramanuja re-established the liturgy in the Cheluvanarayana temple in Melukote In Mandya District and Vishnuvardhana re-built it and also built other Vishnu temples like Chennakesava Temple and Hoysaleswara Temple.

The setting of his life:

By the 5th century, the South Indian religious scene was diverse, with popular religion existing alongside Vedic sacrifice and non-Vedic traditions like Buddhism and Jainism. Indeed, the title character of the sixth century Tamil Buddhist epic Manimekalai is advised at one point to study the various Hindu schools of philosophy, such as Sankhya and Vaisheshika as well as Buddhism, Ajivika, Cārvāka, and Jainism. It was in this context that fears of a Buddhist or Jain takeover spurred a large Hindu revival that reached its peak in the 7th century and continued nearly into the 2nd millennium.

The popular aspects of this revival took the shape of several mystical and passionate bhakti movements, represented on the Vaishnavite side by the twelve alvars. The alvars came from a variety of social strata; their ranks include shudras and one woman. The intense devotionalism of their poetry and insistence that caste and sex are no barrier to a relationship with the Divine is uncharacteristic of classical Vedic thought, which laid a strong emphasis on the performance of the social and religious duties proper to one's place in the social structure. Some of these were collected into a definitive canon known as the Nālāyira Divya Prabandha, or "Four Thousand" Divine Composition, by Nathamuni in the 10th century, and came to be seen as a source of revelation equal in authority to the Vedas in the Śrīvaiṣṇava community.

On the philosophical side, this period saw the rise of the Vedanta school of philosophy, which focused on the elucidation and exegesis of the speculative and philosophical Vedic commentaries known as the Upanishads. The Advaita, or non-dualist interpretation of Vedanta was developed in this time by Adi Shankara and later by Mandana Mishra. It argued that the Brahman presented in the Upanishads is the static and undifferentiated absolute reality, and that the ultimately false perception of difference is due to avidya, or ignorance. Sri Adi Shankara was regarded one of the most profound scholars and preached to uphold the basic tenets of Vedic philosophy.

The goal of proving the Vedantic legitimacy of the popular conception of a personal deity and a genuine personal identity essentially characterizes Ramanuja's project, and the Advaitin school presents a natural object for his polemics. It is this synthesis between the classical Sanskrit writings and the popular Tamil poetry that is the source of one of the names of Ramanuja's system: Ubhaya Vedānta, or "Vedanta of both kinds."

Happiness versus the Corporatocracy

Today was an important day. Senator Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. I'm white and I grew up with a black sister and a family who passionately believed in human rights. My parents helped Chilean political refuges fleeing the insanity of General Pinochet to find a home in England. They had arrived on a ship into Liverpool when I was a little boy. They were warm-hearted people, educated and penniless. Hernan was a highly respected lawyer. One of his clients was a general in the army and, luckily for Hernan and his wife, the general was fond of him. He came to Hernan's office one day and told Hernan to leave on a bus for Peru with his wife that night or he would most likely be imprisoned or dead the next morning (for being a liberal). Good people who had been betrayed by their own country. They were victims of a military coup that had been sponsored and helped by the CIA and the top levels of the US government:

"American media in general ignored completely the role that the American government had in the crimes of not just the coup, not just the reign of terror which Pinochet's secret police extended around the South American continent and across the globe—including the worst terrorist act on U.S. soil prior to 9/11, the assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt in 1976 in Washington, D.C.—but also multiple attempts to overthrow the democratic government of Chile in the years prior to the coup. These efforts were coordinated from the very top of the American government, by President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger."

Ethan Heitner

The world is a big place full of real estate and wilderness (which is also real estate in the eyes of the profit-minded) and it is also full of small powerful elite groups of people very focused on controlling who controls big patches of that real estate and wilderness and what they can get out of it to improve their lot. Abraham Lincoln once said that the greatest art of the future would be making the most of a small plot of land. I don't think he meant it in quite the same, almost tribal mentality, that the corporatocracy world views the same philosophy. Maybe he foresaw, like Malthus, the consequences of a coming time - a time like today - when there would be almost 7 billion people on the planet. A crowded very challenging time when the competition for resources and power takes center stage. We would be wise to listen to the wisdom of the Iroquois and think and act soundly:

"In our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." From the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

The Founding Fathers of America were a fresh and welcome moment in human history. They believed in a government of the people, for the people and by the people. They were amazing men. Jefferson even made his own version of the Bible - he went through it and wrote down every passage where Jesus was quoted speaking in the Bible. Jesus may be many things - and I am not one to get into the politics of Christianity or religion in general - but one thing can be said of Jesus - his message of selflessness, forgiveness and love is a powerful and compelling one. A man with such meditations in his mind framed the Declaration of Independence.

It focused on individual rights and the right of revolution. Abraham Lincoln, beginning in 1854 as he spoke out against slavery and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, provided a reinterpretation of the Declaration. He stressed that the unalienable rights of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" were not limited to the white race. "Jefferson and those who shared his conviction" created a document with "continuing usefulness" with a "capacity to convince and inspire living Americans." The invocation by Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address of the Declaration of Independence is perhaps the best take on Jefferson's famous preamble:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Yes, the birth of the United States was a very welcome thing. At the same time, not one treaty made with the original custodians of that land - the Native American Indians -was ultimately honored. And they were truly people who took care of the Earth with responsibility and affection. Instead one of the worst cases of genocide in history was ruthlessly and systematically carried out.

The Enlightenment brought us Descartes and Newton and a mechanistic world view that heralded great scientific change for the world. "I think therefore I am," was that time's ode to the magnificence and power of the intellect. But thought and reason alone are not the pinnacle of man's potential (indeed thought can be a prison and a cruel master). Thought can build powerful machines and create elaborate and carniving ways to conceal the truth and blind justice. It can do terrible things in the name of vested interest. But only the heart can make use of thought with any wisdom. Reason married with insight and compassion all attuned and in harmony is the pinnacle of our potential.

The President of America is a powerful man and an inspiring leader can bring about important changes with the people behind him. But let us not forget that the world is full of armies poised to attack and defend. Let us not forget that the nuclear submarine - one of the most expensive technological creations of mankind - is a living definition of something that has no creative purpose whatsoever. It is not productive in any way. It's goal is solely destructive. Of course, there is that argument that the nuclear weapons and nuclear submarines that carry them are acting as keepers of the peace by preventing wars - and in a way that is an important truth. But we still miss the ultimate point. Where there is defense there is a sense of lack, a vulnerability. There is also justification for attack. But we are not the body. We are not the little identities that we assign to the body. We are something much vaster than all of that and we belittle our selves when we do not see it. As the Buddha said the greatest of all taints is the taint of ignorance.

The word "art" comes from latin. It means skill. In that sense anything that we give our full attention and heart to can become a skill. Lincoln predicted that the greatest art of the future would be making the most of a small plot of land. With a planet way overloaded and stressed for resources because of the demands of approaching 7 billion people it is easy to see his point. Lincoln's statement is also a challenge to us. It challenges us to live with attention; to live in such a way that the heart leads the mind. It challenges us to make a fair world.

Today was an important day because a black man became the President of the United States of America. In fact he is a black man and a white man. He is the child of two races - one, a persecutor and the other, the persecuted. The world's tribes have had a long and bitter history with their neighbors and we are a long way - collectively at least - from living the truths that Jefferson held to be self-evident: "that all men are created equal." But today was an important step. This does not mean we are all equal in ability or possibility but we are all equal in intrinsic value. Every seed of potential, nurtured with love and care and wisdom, is worthy and contributes to the needs of the whole.

When Nelson Mandela came to power he brought his angry and frightened people together in unity by bringing both victims with grievances (blacks and whites) and their persecutors (blacks and whites) together to find common ground. He created a special court for this very purpose. It was not a court that dealt out punishments. But it was a court that focused on airing negativity and anger with the explicit goal of replacing it with forgiveness, healing and reconciliation.

I wonder if there would be so much terrorism and war - economic and physical - in this world if man had learned to lead the mind by the heart? The solutions to the world's problems do not ultimately lie in the hands of governments and presidents - though they can do a lot (especially if they humbly follow their mandate as servants of the people). Communism and capitalism are not going to change man deeply fundamentally profoundly. Only humanism has the capacity to do that.The real solutions lie in the hands of individuals. Individuals who are interested in meaning and happiness. Individuals whose minds are liberated from the shackles of vested interest, prejudice and tribalism (nationality, racism, xenophobia etc); whose consciousness actually sees the grave and very human responsibility of taking care of life on this planet as is fitting of our role as its present custodians and guardians. The flowering of such a mind only comes about in the right atmosphere - in an atmosphere where education can transform and sculpt in the right way.

Michelangelo once said, when asked how he created David, " I took away all that was not David." That's what education means. "Ex-ducat/ducare." To pull out what is within.To pull out what is potential. Within man there is a potential monster and a potential saint. Whatever your job is - whether you are a scientist or a teacher or whatever - is irrelevant. Only your example counts. You can be a monster or a saint whatever your position or status. The highest refinement of education is to bring out the highest compassion within us - as well as our unique abilities and channel them towards productive and creative ends. That means no nuclear submarines. Imagine if we really made productive and creative use of the world's armies! If used wisely what outstanding humanitarian works could be carried out! Imagine if we could find a way as individuals to share this planet with fairness and affection...without being blighted by extreme greed (I concede that lesser greed can be good for bolstering economic systems) the divisive forces of '"us" and "them"'-mythologies and prejudice.

Yes, it is a wonderful day for democracy. And there are many reasons to celebrate and cherish this moment. But it is also a good moment to reflect that the only meaningful change is change within individuals. And that a new and enlightened world order will only come about when people, to paraphrase the last words of the Buddha, really really do their best. Lincoln has made clear the challenge. To make good use of a small plot of land (and I have attempted to put it in its right context today here). Jefferson made clear the goal: happiness and liberty.

Would Gandhi be a good example of the kind of logic that might bring it about? When asked if he wanted to bring about independence to India and oust the British he said naturally that was what he wanted but outcomes are difficult to nail, and even when we have the best of intentions - nothing is in our hands. The only thing in our hands is how we go about doing things. Gandhi said his way was non-violence and he lived what he said. As the Course in Miracles says: "In my defenselessness my safety lies." It is not easy or difficult to give up the illusions of ignorance nor is it easy or difficult to subdue the taints and mis-perceptions that control our minds. It is not about "easy or difficult." It's about the resolution and the determination to find a way to do exactly that. A transformation in consciousness is what it is about. And it starts and ends within the individual. Within you and I.

Communities that foster service as the highest goal and who nurture individual worth and tolerance know that humanity's problems cannot be solved externally.

Margaret Mead put it all into perspective:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

We need a new yoga of economics. But a new economics will only come about with a transformation of consciousness for economics is, after all, just a map of our collective motivations. The streams and rivers of money in this world and the intentions that push them along are like the nerve system of the body of humanity. If the decision-making Central processing unit is in harmony then the nervous grid or network works well; it distributes power and wealth fairly throughout. When our intentions are wise and they are applied wisely and effectively the world has the potential to become a sane place.

The consciousness of the whole is affected by every thing we do. And in the end all we have to look to is the example of our actions. When we are ruled by the mind we react and perpetuate ignorance. When the heart leads a sane mind we act decisively (in alignment with Life Forces) and from another level of consciousness. Yes. Obama is a wonderful symbol of what might be in a world that desperately needs a different way to go forward. But at the same time the old human problems remain. We can judge and alienate or we can encourage as the Buddha did: "Do your best." Like the Buddha we must extend compassion and we must not suffer the fool within us (or those outside of us) gladly - we must go to the very root of ignorance and uproot it courageously and lovingly. As custodians of the Earth we must outgrow the tribal mentalities that keep us at loggerheads.

The last President of America and the last Prime Minister of Britain lead the world into an unprovoked and unjustified war; war which was really about the geopolitics of oil. The rhetoric that they were bringing freedom is not even worthy of comment for freedom was the last thing in their minds. Control and power was what it was really about. As a race we now face the colossal challenges of overpopulation and the environmental strain it brings. The clash of ideologies and power that produces terrorism, not to mention the horrible dictatorships and cruel economic disparities that are to be found around the world, are all things that demand our attention. With prudence, skill and heart we can conquer all these problems.

The American poet Carl Sangburg wrote in his introduction to The Family of Man:

There is only one man in the world
and his name is All Men.

Whether you are born in China or France or Palestine...the mind of man is no different. Fear and ignorance is not Russian or American. It's universal. It does not matter where you are from or what God you believe in. What matters is that you and I outgrow our fear and conditioning; what matters is that we somehow come to see our essential sameness (for our differences amount to very little) and find the treasures of consciousness and meaning that lie within. When we live with that as our focus, unity and peace are inevitable.

The only world that is worth celebrating, the only world that is going to have any meaning is one without borders; one which unites and cooperates as one family. You don't see borders from space. From space you see a shining jewel in the vastness of the void. Ours is the space age - the age of One family. The only borders in truth are in the mind. And with each of us the responsibility lies to pull them down. To see the good in every one, to make the most of our potential... to be responsible for our own small plot of Earth.
The days are dying now.
Ebbing, flowing,
Passing out of fashion.
Gleaming with the only promise worth keeping.

What remains at the end of the day...
when the shadows descend on the twilight world?

Languages take time to learn.
Horizons stretch to far away places.
The animals leave footprints.

Options are many.
Yet only two paths.
One leads deep into the forest
of dead ends.

The other is a mesh of scaffolding.
In the end
nothing remains of the scaffolding.

The senses agitate the mind,
forever delivering fresh desires to cloud perception.

Can you build a life that stands for something yet does not leave a trail?
Each new dawn beckons with silent suggestion.

Bliss

'When we are active and truly enthusiastic about our lives and jobs, we are often much happier. When individuals don't enjoy their jobs or aren't pleased with some facet of their life, they tend to have less energy; they gain weight, can't get sound sleep and experience lethargy. When we engage in activities that we enjoy and have an occupation that excites us, we feel beeter about ourselves, have greater self-esteem, wake up energized, laugh a lot more, and live longer. Having enthusiasm in our lives can be self-sustaining and affect our outlook more than we realise.'
Ron Clark high school teacher

Life takes care

Tara Singh once asked Krishnamurti does life take care.

Krishnamurti replied, "Yes, but only when you COMPLETELY let go."

What does it mean to completely let go?

Maybe it means to be able to live without an agenda, without fear...with a mind open to insight.

Monsoon child

in the darkness
alone
with the memory of everything

the land is old beneath
the soil accomodates the shifting centuries

freed from the lasoo of the past
we're nothing.
nothing with very high expectations
nothing without passion

the pitter patter aqua night
rain comes falling
washing problems into the thick earth
I lie still; watchful for the kiss of sleep

softly like a february morning
you see the sea-mist rise
heaven and hell are not the end of the road. they are the opposite sides of the road...we wander from side to side along the way...

the road is a flat strip.
after roads came runways
..planes taking off.

We must take off;
...off the heavy masks deceiving us
In transcendence levity is everything.
Then follows the light

Intelligence operates like a happy virus

Thought is not intelligent.

I suddenly had this conception that intelligence, in a way, is like a happy virus. A virus is very simple (like intelligence) and it has transcription reading abilities - it can read the stuff of thought (which is very complicated) and find out what is relevant and what is not (a virus immediately on entering the cell makes a beeline for the nucleus and the genetic material - the heart of the matter).

A very simple thing enters a very complex field and somehow reads it and if effective brings about a profound change in the way the system is run. In truth, viruses don't generally spread happiness -they are very good at spreading pain and misery and yes they completely change the structure and wiring of the system in which they exist. But as a metaphor the happy virus makes a lot of sense - a virus that brings about healing and happiness and sanity is - metaphorically at least - intelligence. Of course, one is not talking about intellect - which is often a very dull and blunt instrument. One is talking about intelligence - which is powered by insight and vision.

If you have struggled in business this will make you feel much better :)

The story begins in the early 1950s when a bright young geologist named Eugene Shoemaker paid a visit to Meteor Crater in Arizona. Today Meteor Crater is the most famous impact site on Earth and a popular tourist attraction. In those days, however, it didn't receive mane visitors and was still often referred to as Barringer Crater after a wealthy mining engineer named Daniel M.Barringer who had staked a claim on it in 1903. Barringer believed that the carter had been formed by a ten-million-ton meteor, heavily freighted with iron and nickel, and it was his confident expectation that he would make a fortune digging it out. Unaware that the meteor and everything in it would have been vapourized on impact, he wasted a fortune, and the next twenty-six years, cutting tunnels that yielded nothing.

Success

People who are unwilling to risk failure are not capable of achieving big successes. The careers of the inventor Thomas Edison and the comedian Charlie Chaplin serve as good examples. Without Thomas Edison, we might still be reading in the dark today. But you know that Edison discovered the lightbulb after a thousand different attempts? When asked what he had learned from those one thousand mistakes, Edison responded that he found one thousand ways in which a lightbulb could not be made. During his early days in London, people threw things at Charlie Chaplin to make him off the stage. Would we be enjoying the starring film roles of this famous comedian today if he had taken those audiences' reactions to heart and stopped pursing his dream to become an actor? Learning to cope with failure makes you strong enough to view every defeat as another step toward success.

Education and Writing

The most valuable of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.

Aldous Huxley

Writers write to influence their readers, their preachers, their auditors, but always, at bottom, to be more themselves.

Aldous Huxley

Thoughts on a balanced life

What happens to the flow of thought and life to make us dip down into depression? The Buddha sort a reason for suffering. He found the source in the mind and the solution lay in a very disciplined mind.

Some thoughts follow on how to avoid being sad and negative:

1. Develop interests: "You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny." Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

2. Identify and Fix your personal problems

3. When you complain, cry, talk of sad feelings, or discuss problems, your friends and loved ones probably respond with sympathy and tender loving care. Unfortunately, these loving responses reward and help maintain the depressive behaviors. Some friends or family even take over chores for a depressed person who stays in bed or asks for help. Again, this rewards the passive or dependent behavior. Perhaps you reward yourself when you drown in negative thoughts or self-pity. Many depressed people eat, spend money excessively, abuse addictive substances, or have sex without love to feel better. Eliminate these and any other subtle rewards for depressive behavior.

BUT - also remember that talking through your problems with loving friends is also healthy if you do it in the right way. Bottling up frustration and anger is not healthy at all.

4. Exercise

5. Eat right

6. Sleep enough

7. Don't compare yourself with others.

You have a unique talent that no one else has and a unique way of expressing it. Find out how you can use that wisely.

8. Meditate - Keep the bowl of the mind empty...don't clutter it with the noise of the old. That way there is space for the new.

9. Pranayama - without breath you have nothing

10. Find ways to give things to people that will inspire them (that takes some creative thinking but builds strong and meaningful friendships).

11. Wherever possible avoid the news - if you want to know what's happening in the world The Economist has a very good view of the world. But the view that is most important is the one created by your attitude (to both the good and bad things that befall you).

12. Find ways to work and live in which you are not dependent on another and when you feel you are and you don't have that person to rely on - then think creatively about how to do things differently. Empowering yourself by finding ways around the impossible builds self-esteem.


The only Symbol that makes sense today

I read once in a book on Tibetan Buddhism that life is infinite and every culture has attempted to draw a symbolic map of that infinite field and our place in it - and each map is called a monad. There may be many cultures all with different monads or symbolic maps, but they all point to something which lies beyond what can be described. Any monadic symbol is only as valuable as the degree of faith an individual has invested in the symbol. And because of the nature of human consciousness some symbols are going to resonate for you while others won't. Some people get moved by Hanuman, others by Christ...still others by Spinoza's God. So there is no universal symbol. In the end it's not the symbol that is important anyway - the important thing is the transcendent experience it points to.

Mankind, up until recently, has been a spread out bunch of (often warring) tribes all looking for meaning in the universe. Somehow language developed for communication and with it came the collective unconscious/collective mind (which was there in animals but on a much more primitive and instinctive level). And with the development of the collective unconscious/collective mind (society) came the subconscious (individual mind) which threw up all kinds of symbols to the conscious mind in man's search for meaning. And the web of those symbols gave us dreams and myths. A myth is a society's dream and a dream is an individual's myth. Since the dawn of time we have looked to the symbols of our dreams and myths (for Beethoven his relationship to his art was his relationship to God) to point to the deeper truths (which of course are things which cannot be defined for they are too vast and so defy description - the description the symbol is never the thing itself). But until recently those symbols have not necessarily been universal. In the West for example an owl represents wisdom, yet in certain cultures (China, Egypt, India) the symbolic meaning of an owl is associated with death. It was revered as being the guardian of the after-life - a highly respected emblem indeed, but at the same time, for many it became a negative symbol.

Many symbols have great power - the Christian cross symbolizes the power of forgiveness - that life is something eternal bigger than the illusion of the body....The Aum Symbol (Amen sounds suspiciously similar - no?) in Buddhism and Hinduism relates to the the Eternal Syllable. According to the Mandukya Upanishad, "Om is the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but the development. The past, the present, and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the three forms of time is also implied in it" Om is not a word but rather an intonation, which, like music, transcends the barriers of age, race, culture and even species. It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, aa, au and ma which, when combined together, make the sound Aum or Om. It is believed to be the basic sound of the world and to contain all other sounds (Aa starts at the back of the mouth and ma finishes the sound at the front with pursed lips...then silence). It is a mantra or prayer in itself. If repeated with the correct intonation, it can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the centre of one's being, the atman or soul.

Why no universal symbol though? Until now mythologies have all been based on in-group mentalities. The borders of our universe have been forests and seas and an "in-group"-myth protects us and makes sense of the world within our borders. It explains the world for our particular tribe. But of course such limited group mythologies don't work anymore. Look at the clash between the Muslim world and the largely judeo-christian world of the West that is going on today. They are all part of the Abrahamic tradition but they still clash because they are not all-embracing mythologies - they are mythologies with very clear fences and borders - which worked perfectly well in another age - but which are no longer suited to where technology has brought us (ie a world without borders - the rocket engine, the radio, the internet, etc has destroyed all of that). In a way the only mythology that can work today is the myth of Buddhism which sees every individual as a potential Buddha being. Now of course enlightened Christians can say the same of the Christ. The Christ is not a man. It's an energy that resides within us - the "anointed one" of correct perception. And of course the word Krishna comes from the same linguistic root. To be blessed with the insight of knowing what your true nature (and consequently the true nature of your fellow human) is of course what all the wise ones are talking about (and it's the task of the spiritual life). But sadly the religions that dominate in the world today are not ones lived out by enlightened people - they are based on outdated mythologies that persist in creating and maintaining fences between "my group" and the "other." Which is foolish and very destructive in a world where technology has made a mockery of all the traditional borders. Our common humanity is the only sane focus left to us.

So what will the new myth be? What will the new symbols be? When the astronauts first went to space and started photographing the Earth - then, for the first time ever, we got to see the real borders of our home. A beautiful green and blue globe floating in the emptiness of space. And maybe that is the most universal of symbols in today's world. In biology today there is even one view of life (the Gaia hypothesis) that sees the planet as an organism - in which all of life is intricately connected in a marvelous homeostatically-balanced experiment floating in the darkness of space.

Einstein once said, "I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind. I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. In his book The World as I See It, he wrote: "A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man."

In Spinozism, the concept of a personal relationship with God comes from the position that one is a part of an infinite interdependent "organism". This of course maps back well to the Gaia hypothesis and the views of modern quantum physics which have proven the interconnectedness of everything (see http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=G5poD3nXdJ8&feature=related ). Spinoza taught that everything is but a wave in an endless ocean, and that what happens to one wave will affect other waves. So Spinozism teaches a form of karma and supports this as a basis for morality (see http://www.waterwind.com/spinoza.html).

Additionally, a core doctrine of Spinozism is that the universe is essentially deterministic. All that happens or will happen could not have unfolded in any other way. Spinozism is closely related to the Hindu doctrines of Samkhya and Yoga.

Einstein was most influenced by Spinoza's thesis of an unrestricted determinism and the belief in the existence of a superior intelligence that reveals itself in the harmony and beauty of nature.

Of course our newest myth is science and it's interesting to see how the greatest scientist of our age saw God (see above). Scientists may argue science is not a myth. But it is a myth. A myth is just the current map man is using to explain the world around him - how it works, our place in it etc and like every myth science has heroes and tricksters, holy grails and tales of sacrifice. A scientist might argue that 3.14 or pie is a universal symbol for truth and in a way it's as good as any. Indeed it was one of the symbols NASA used when it launched its space probes into the deepest darkest reaches of space. Yet I think the only symbol truly worthy of our attention today is the planet.

Will leave you with the words of Joseph Campbell and Chief Seattle (who poetically resonates with the way Einstein and Spinoza see things). In Chief Seattle's words there is this overwhelming sense of reverence for nature and the feeling that we need to honor all creeds and that is really at the heart of challenges of our age and I know of no greater symbol for that than the planet herself.

"Myths and dreams come from the same place. They come from the realizations of some kind that have then to find expression in symbolic form. And the only myth that is going to be worth thinking about in the immediate future is one that is talking about the planet, not the city, not these people, but the planet, and everybody on it.
And what it will have to deal with will be exactly what all myths have dealtt with - the maturation of the individual, from dependency through adulthood, through maturity, and then to the exit; and then how to relate to this society and how to relate this society to the world of nature and the cosmos. That's what the myths have all talked about, and what this one's got to talk about. But the society that it's got to talk about is the society of the planet. And until that gets going, you don't have anything.this is the ground of what the myth is to be. It's already here: the eye of reason, not one of nationality; the eye of reason, not of my religious community; the eye of reason, not of my linguistic community. Do you see? And this would be the philosophy for the planet, not for this group, that group, or the other group.
When you see the earth from the moon, you don't see any divisions there of nations or states. This might be the symbol, really, for the new mythology to come. That is the country that we are going to be celebrating. And those are the people that we are one with.

Bill Moyers: No one embodies that ethic to me more clearly in the works you have collected than Chief Settle.

Joseph Campbell: Chief Seattle was one of the last spokesmen of the Paleolithic moral order. In about 1852, the Untid States Government inquired about buying the tribal lands for the arriving people of the United States, and Chief Seattle wrote a marvelous letter in reply. His letter expresses the moral, really, of our whole discussion.

"The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? The land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

"Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.

"We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are a part of the earth and it is a part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky creast, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man, all belong to the same family.

"The shining waters that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each ghostly reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.

"The rivers are our brothers. They quinch our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give to the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.

"If we sell our land, remember the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sight. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.

"Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.

"This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

"One thing we know: our god is also your god. The earth is precious to him and to harm the earth is to heap comtempt on its creator.

"Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

"When the last Red Man has vanished with his wilderness and his memory is only a shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these shores and forests still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my people left?

"We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother's heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you received it. Preserve the land for all children and love it, as God loves us all.

"As we are a part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you. One thing we know: there is only one God. No man, be he Red Man or White Man, can be apart. We are brothers after all."

My actions are the ground on which I stand

My Actions Are The Ground On Which I Stand

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.
I am of the nature to have ill-health.
There is no way to escape having ill-health.
I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.
My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.
--Buddha

Belief


"Believe nothing, O monks, merely because you have been told it ... or
because it is traditional, or because you yourselves have imagined it.

Do not believe what your teacher tells you
merely out of respect for the teacher.

But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis,
you find to be conducive to the good,
the benefit,the welfare of all beings,
that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide."


--Buddha (Siddarth Guatama)

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

--Buddha (Siddarth Guatama)

Taizokai

"Taizokai is all about looking deep inside of yourself. It's like the micro-view of the universe. The kanji "taizokai" roughly translates to "the secret of the fetus". The concept is basically trying to bring yourself back to the most beginning form (like when you're still inside your mother's womb) and try to understand the universe at the most basic level. In other word, try to understand the meaning of life.

This stage of the practice contains a lot of visualization and is a huge jump from what I have been doing before. This is also consider as one of the most difficult part of my practice. At the end of my journey, around January, a ceremony will be done where I have to be blind-folded and throw a flower onto this mandala. Where the flower landed will represent how well my practices/meditation was during the next two months. Or many people believe it represents how do I shape my world (since each buddha represent a kind/set of wisdom, landing on which buddha represent what kind/set of wisdom one accumulate during the meditation process.) My mom was the only person ever, in our temple's history, who got the highest recognition for Taizokai. She landed right at the middle of the mandala. Talk about high pressure for me eh?

My master/sensei did gave everyone a personal tip for this stage of the practice, and mine was pretty interesting. Since he finds the major obstacle (or karma, if you fully understand what karma means) for me in my practice is that I seem to be not "growing up", he wanted me to visualize myself to be an old monk during the Taizokai practices. He wanted me to literally think that I am with white hair and wrinkles and doing practices. " - from Buddhist student blog

Joseph Campbell: An Open Life

Today, all historical circumstances are changing, and we no longer have the enclosing horizons that shut us in from knowledge of other people -- new worlds are breaking in on us all the time. It's inevitable that a person with any sense of openness to new experience will say to himself, "Now, this won't do, the way we're living." Do you see what I mean? And so, one goes out for one's self to find a broader base, a broader relationship.

On the other hand, there's plenty of reason for those who don't have this feeling to remain within the field because our societies today are so rich in the gifts that they can render. But if a person has had the sense of the Call -- the feeling that there's an adventure for him -- and if he doesn't follow that, but remains in the society because it's safe and secure, then life dries up. And then he comes to that condition in late middle age: he's gotten to the top of the ladder, and found that it's against the wrong wall.

If you have the guts to follow the risk, however, life opens, opens, opens up all along the line. I'm not superstitious, but I do believe in spiritual magic, you might say. I feel that if one follows what I call one's "bliss" -- the thing that really gets you deep in your gut and that you feel is your life -- doors will open up. They do! They have in my life and they have in many lives that I know of.

There's a wonderful paper by Schopenhauer, called "An Apparent Intention of the Fate of the Individual," in which he points out that when you are at a certain age -- the age I am now -- and look back over your life, it seems to be almost as orderly as a composed novel. And just as in Dickens' novels, little accidental meetings and so forth turn out to be main features in the plot, so in your life. And what seem to have been mistakes at the time, turn out to be directive crises. And then he asks: "Who wrote this novel?"

Life seems as though it were planned; and there is something in us that's causing what you hear of as being accident prone: it's something in ourselves. There is a mystery here. Schopenhauer finally asks the question: Can anything happpen to you for which you're not ready? I look back now on certain things that at the time seemed to be real disasters, but the results turned out to be the structuring of a really great aspect of my life and career. So what can you say?

And the other point is, if you follow your bliss, you'll have your bliss, whether you have money or not. If you follow money, you may lose money, and then you don't have even that. The secure way is really the insecure way and the way in which the richness of the quest accumulates is the right way.

...There's a kind of regular morphology and inevitable sequence of experiences if you start out to follow your adventure. I don't care whether it's in economics, in art, or just in play. There's the sense of the potential that opens out before you. And you have no idea how to achieve it; you start out into the dark. Then, strange little help-mates come along, frequently represented by little dark fairy spirits or the little gnomes, who just give you clues, and these open out. Then there is the sense of danger you always run into -- really deep peril -- because no one has gone this way before. And the winds blow, and you're in a forest of darkness very often and terror strikes you.

...Well, mythology tells us that where you stumble, there your treasure is. There are so many examples. One that comes to mind is in The Arabian Nights. Someone is plowing a field, and his plow gets caught. He digs down to see what it is and discovers a ring of some kind. When he hoists the ring, he finds a cave with all of the jewels in it. And so it is in our own psyche [and organizations!]; our psyche is the cave with all the jewels in it, and it's the fact that we're not letting their energies move us that brings us up short. The world is a match for us and we're a match for the world. And where it seems most challenging lies the greatest invitation to find deeper and greater powers in ourselves. - Joseph Campbell

Various Quotes from Joseph Campbell

Various Quotes from Joseph Campbell

http://www.JCF.org


Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.


One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.


I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life
as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.


What each must seek in his life never was on land or sea. It is something out of his own unique potentiality for experience, something that never has been and never could have been experienced by anyone else.


Your life is the fruit of your own doing.
You have no one to blame but yourself.


The way to find out about happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy, when you are really happy — not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what is called following your bliss.


We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.


The adventure of the hero is the adventure of being alive.


There are certain moments in life when you can have insights that can go past the pair of opposites. It's as though you can see in that moment a deeper truth, as if the opposites open and you can see into the unknown.


Schopenhauer, in his splendid essay called "On an Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual," points out that when you reach an advanced age and look back over your lifetime, it can seem to have had a consistent order and plan, as though composed by some novelist. Events that when they occurred had seemed accidental and of little moment turn out to have been indispensable factors in the composition of a consistent plot. So who composed that plot? Schopenhauer suggests that just as your dreams are composed by an aspect of yourself of which your consciousness is unaware, so, too, your whole life is composed by the will within you. And just as people whom you will have met apparently by mere chance became leading agents in the structuring of your life, so, too, will you have served unknowingly as an agent, giving meaning to the lives of others, The whole thing gears together like one big symphony, with everything unconsciously structuring everything else. And Schopenhauer concludes that it is as though our lives were the features of the one great dream of a single dreamer in which all the dream characters dream, too; so that everything links to everything else, moved by the one will to life which is the universal will in nature.

It’s a magnificent idea – an idea that appears in India in the mythic image of the Net of Indra, which is a net of gems, where at every crossing of one thread over another there is a gem reflecting all the other reflective gems. Everything arises in mutual relation to everything else, so you can’t blame anybody for anything. It is even as though there were a single intention behind it all, which always makes some kind of sense, though none of us knows what the sense might be, or has lived the life that he quite intended.


This is the challenge of a marriage [or committed partnership]. What a beautiful thing is a life together as growing personalities, each helping the other to flower, rather than just moving into the standard archetype. It’s a wonderful thing when people can make the decision to be something quite astonishing and unexpected, rather than cookie-mold products.


When you make the sacrifice in marriage,
you're sacrificing not to each other
but to unity in a relationship.


You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don't know what was in the newspapers that morning... a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.


- Joseph Campbell

road trip pictures...












Better man



Just spent time roaming the forests and mountains of Sri Lanka...inspired by cutting the dross out of life and the profound teaching of Buddha - the buddha taught that there is nothing...

There is nothing - just emptiness...This is a powerful teaching because in our world we always want to have something...to say, "there is something." But actually there is nothing.

When one looks at the body (rupa - form), feelings (vedana in pali), perceptions (sanna), the mental formations (sankhara which includes the will) or consciousness (vinnana), for each one of these - there is nothing there. However, it is very difficult for people to accept such a teaching: that there is nothing.

At the same time I heard this song by Robbie Williams in a department store in Colombo - there is nothing...and yet human affection is pertinent...valuable...If one really gets the deep teachings of Buddha and Yoga...one comes to that clarity... that there is great beauty beyond our delusions. How to see through the illusion of stuff... and love another with that wisdom and compassion permeating all that one does...The song below is beautiful - it speaks of human weakness...the need for solace and love...Then there is the voice that is beyond need and that has conquered emotion...that has come to know the mirror of a still mind and what it shows us...such a mind is freed of the fears below...such a mind still wants to love and be loved but it is not dependent in any way...

Send someone to love me
I need to rest in arms
Keep me safe from harm
In pouring rain

Give me endless summer
Lord I fear the cold
Feel I'm getting old
Before my time

As my soul heals the shame
I will grow old through this pain
Lord I'm doing all I can
To be a better man

Go easy on my conscience
'Cause it's not my fault
I know I've been taught
To take the blame

Rest assured my angels
Will catch my tears
Walk me out of here
I'm in pain

As my soul heals the shame
I will grow old through this pain
Lord I'm doing all I can
To be a better man

Once you've found that lover
You're homeward bound
Love is all around
Love is all around

I know some have fallen
On stony ground
But Love is all around

Send someone to love me
I need to rest in arms
Keep me safe from harm
In pouring rain

Give me endless summer
Lord I fear the cold
Feel I'm getting old
Before my time

As my soul heals the shame
I will grow old through this pain
Lord I'm doin' all I can
To be a better man

The moon floats above the pines


The moon floats above the pines
And the night veranda is cold
As the ancient clear sound comes from your fingertips.
The old melody usually makes the listener weep.
But Zen music is beyond sentiment.
Do not play again until the great sound of the Way
accompanies you.

Zen Master Hsuieh Tou 980-1052 AD

the hundredth monkey











In the autumn of that year an unspecified number of monkeys on Koshima were washing sweet potatoes in the sea. . . . Let us say, for argument's sake, that the number was ninety-nine and that at eleven o'clock on a Tuesday morning, one further convert was added to the fold in the usual way. But the addition of the hundredth monkey apparently carried the number across some sort of threshold, pushing it through a kind of critical mass, because by that evening almost everyone was doing it. Not only that, but the habit seems to have jumped natural barriers and to have appeared spontaneously, like glycerine crystals in sealed laboratory jars, in colonies on other islands and on the mainland in a troop at Takasakiyama.



From Wikipedia: Critical mass:

Critical mass is a sociodynamic term to describe the existence of sufficient momentum in a social system such that the momentum becomes self-sustaining and fuels further growth.

As a simple example, consider a big city. If a person stops and looks up at the sky, nothing will happen. People nearby will go on about their business. If three people stop and look up at the sky, perhaps some people will momentarily turn around, but then continue on their way. But only a small number of people is required— say, 5 to 7 (depending on such factors as the culture, time of day, width of the street, etc) — to cause others to stop and look up at the sky, too. This number is called the "critical mass" or tipping point.

Social factors influencing critical mass may involve the size, interrelatedness and level of communication in a society or one of its subcultures. Another is social stigma, or the possibility of public advocacy due to such a factor. Critical mass may be closer to majority consensus in political circles, where the most effective position is more often that held by the majority of people in society. In this sense, small changes in public consensus can bring about swift changes in political consensus, due to the majority-dependent effectiveness of certain ideas as tools of political debate.

Critical mass is a concept used in a variety of contexts, including physics, group dynamics, politics, public opinion, and technology.

Barriers to evolution














"Do you know what it means
to have psychic experiences?
To have the experience,
extrasensory perceptive
experience, you must be extraordinarily mature, extraordinarily sensitive, and therefore extraordinarily intelligent; and if you are
extraordinarily intelligent,
you do not want psychic
experience."

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Gift to the future




















An authentic creation
is a gift to the future

- Albert Camus

Tolerate experience...


Joy, sorrow, heat, cold are temporary
experiences arising out of contact with sense
objects, O son of Kunti. You must learn
to tolerate them O descendant of Bharata.

-Chapter 2, Sloka 14

Bhagavad Gita

The mode of Goodness
















One who does his duty without attachment to
the modes of material nature, free from egotism
and with determination and
enthusiasm is said to be in the mode of goodness.
- Chapter 18, Sloka 26

Bhagavad Gita

Suzanne





Suzanne
Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she's half crazy
But that's why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you've always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you've touched her perfect body with your mind.
And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with his mind.
Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that you can trust her
For she's touched your perfect body with her mind.

There are a few ways to feel this song and the most prominant one is looking at Suzanne as an manifestation of the Anima – (• Jungian term for the feminine principle residing in the male psyche.). With all the anima symbols here it's hard to deny that to myself. The idea of suzanne as 'our lady of the harbor' really strikes something inside of me. He refers to her as an almost holy entity after refering to jesus as an almost human being, this would lead me to believe that Cohen believes human beings are in fact divine.

The standard doctrine of anima and animus illustrates the problem very nicely. We say that when we fall in love we project our unconscious contra-sexual component onto our partner, and this invests our beloved with numinous significance. We leave the realm of the merely personal and the boringly everyday and enter an archetypal arena in which we are god and goddess to one another. So far so good. This even seems to be an inter-psychic theory -- if we stop at this point.
But the theory goes on. It says that insofar as we have projected our own unconscious material onto our partner, we do not see her for the unique individual she is. We are blinded by our projection. True enough, there has to be some “fit” between our projection and the person of our beloved. There has to be a “hook” on which we “hang” the projection. But the projection itself, the anima or the animus, distorts our perception of the person who means more to us than all the world. It is an illusion, a falsification.
No doubt it is gratifying to be a goddess intimately involved with a god. But eventually another more sobering truth will come out. The day will surely come when one or both of us becomes dissatisfied with this illusion. We will complain that we are misunderstood. Or our beloved will react with rage to the confinement in which our projection imprisons her. She is not the woman we want to believe she is. There’s a whole lot more to her. She feels that she has become nothing but our sexual object or our gratifying fancy. If we cannot see her for who she is, she wants to be rid of us.
This sounds like a typical course of events, and Jungian psychology is prepared with an explanation. We have not been relating to our beloved at all, but only to the projection we have hung upon her. Our anima or animus has been nothing but a mask which hides our beloved from our sight. Now comes the hard part. We have to “withdraw the projection” in order to see her for who she is.
As soon as we begin speaking of “withdrawing the projection,” however, we revert to our solipsistic, intra-psychic language. The person of our beloved -- who she is in herself -- is left entirely out of account. “Withdrawing the projection” takes me back to my own, private individuation project. I’m now given the task of seeing what this archetypal image of a woman or a man has to do with my psychology. It’s time for me to withdraw from the illusion and distortion of a human relationship based upon projection and have a confrontation with my own unconscious material. It’s time for “inner work.” Projection is a distortion and therefore a mistake of possibly even neurotic dimensions. But it is also an opportunity. For projection is always the arena wherein we catch our unconscious dynamics in action and are provided with the challenge of coming to terms with ourselves.
There is a tremendous amount of value in this Jungian doctrine. It takes seriously the naïveté of our conscious assumptions and wisely puts us on the track of our own wholeness. It surely addresses the issues more adequately than does the persona field inhabited by most of our American psychotherapists -- who will say that we have simply fallen in love with the wrong person. We’ve got to get out of this relationship and find someone better suited to us. “Find another girl and marry her.”
Jungian psychology is much wiser and deeper than this. But what about my beloved? What happens to her while I withdraw into the hermetic efforts of my inner confrontation? If she is no more than the occasion for my grappling with my unconscious, we are not describing relationship at all. We’ve slipped into extreme solipsism in which relationship -- the deep and extended encounter between two psyches -- is merely an “epiphenomenon” of internal psychic dynamics.
Alternately, we may imagine that our partner, too, has been shocked into an internal struggle. Perhaps each of us finds our own analyst and separately pursues a private goal of greater wholeness. Sometimes this actually happens. Both parties do a sizable piece of “inner work” and eventually return to their relationship much better equipped to avoid their old projection habits.
We like to think they’ll live happily ever after -- even though no one ever does. But let’s be as optimistic as possible. Let’s assume they have a successful marriage, enjoy one another as life-companions, have a satisfying sex life, and -- at the end -- have themselves buried side-by-side beneath a rosebush in honor of Tristan and Isolde.
Does any of the magic of Layla and Majnun remain for them, once they have “withdrawn the projection”? Do the birds cease to sing their messages of love? Will it ever occur to them to say that they are but the veil that hides the face of Layla? Will they ever be madder than a thousand Majnuns? What happens to the archetypal and numinous, once it’s no longer flying in the air between them? --when, in their sagging middle-age, they tool through the mall in their Volvo?
The persona field has an answer for this. Romantic Love is a short-lived affair, an interval of delicious madness which, unfortunate as it may seem at the time, will be out-grown as the partners learn to join forces, facing the everyday details of their hectic and ephemeral joint life with maturity and responsibility. When the thrill is gone, something more sober takes over. According to this view, the numinous and archetypal constitutes a gratifying fling whose purpose is to seduce us into playing the game of the nuclear family. Even the great twentieth-century philosopher of Erotic Love, Julius Evola, says that Eros is incompatible with marriage -- which he sees as characterized by a kind of “sentimental affection.” If the tumult of Eros has to give way to placid sentiments recommended by the persona field, it’s no wonder we recoil from that smug formula “withdrawing the projection.” Keep your old Volvo, I’ll take a Miata!
I have another objection to the standard doctrine of anima and animus. If projecting them means that we are masking one another, conjuring up a fanciful and illusory folie à deux, dealing in falsifications rather than the truth, what are we to make of all those marvelous synchronicities, when we read one another’s minds and telephoned at just the right moment? Are these not real and significant events? Do they not demonstrate that -- however incompletely and sporadically -- we are in accurate communication? And right from the moment we fell in love? Does Majnun not see the face of Layla? Not just the jut of her nose and the limpidity of her eye, but does he not see who she is? Perhaps he hasn’t the faintest idea whether she can cook, whether she lives in chaos or compulsive order, whether she’s in the habit of replacing the cap on the toothpaste tube. But doesn’t he know her more essentially than that? Does he not know what makes her tick?
When we drink the Love Potion with another, we are surely blinded to the hectic and ephemeral, the sober details of everyday life. But what impresses us most is that we see more deeply and essentially than ever before. Entering the self field is an originary experience. Communication is immediate, vivid, and deeply confirming. We feel seen and understood, and our beloved agrees. The distortion is not here. It is somewhere else. For, if we remember what it’s like in the first tumultuous weeks or months of a powerful erotic relationship, we know that there are moments of truth that take our breath away. Sometimes they’re flattering, and sometimes humiliating. But there’s no doubt that deep realities have been uncovered. If we’re honest with ourselves, however, we’ll also recall embarrassing moments of shocking misunderstanding. Some, we are able to dismiss as innocent stumbles, aggravated by our nervousness and the fear that we may be in over our heads. Others are more insulting, bring us up short, make us want to flee or fight.
It won’t do to characterize Romantic Love as covering our beloved with the deceptive mask of our anima or animus. Too much is going on for that. Much -- perhaps all -- that goes on in the self field will never be shown to be false. The doctrine of anima-projection declares that love is always blind. It may indeed be blind in several ways, but it’s also clear-sighted.
When we learn to “breathe water,” when we “become river head to foot,” we come to see with the eyes of the fish -- Jung’s pre-eminent image for the Self, and Rumi’s model for the subtle life of the self field. When Romantic Love is nothing but projection, and projection masks and hides our beloved, we are attending only to those clumsy land-lubbing creatures who merely get their muzzles wet. We become those clever bears who bash the salmon up out of their subtle river and snarf them down to support a lumbering life-style.
What about fana’? What about that sublime “passing away” from our power-driven strategizing in the hectic life of the persona field? How can our narrow and one-sided ego be annihilated for the sake of baqa’, the discovery of our greater Being, if all is premised on illusion? How do I “pass away” through my beloved, when she is hidden behind a mask of my own neurotic devising? Does not the prospect of our transforming fana’ shimmer before our eyes immediately upon swallowing the Potion? Is this not our first and lasting hint of the truth to which our erotic involvement is guiding us? No doubt we remain ignorant in these first sublime moments of the obstacles that lie before us, temptations to abort the disturbing prospect of annihilation -- of dissolving into the we. Drinking the Love Potion is a dangerous and tricky affair. But it opens our eyes to a visionary Truth akin to what alchemists called the albedo -- that shimmering glimpse of the goal of the work, seen in the light of the moon. We see truly, even though a great deal of work has still to be done.
The Jungian theory of anima projection and its withdrawal presents us with a false dichotomy. It implies that in the beginning all is blindness, and in the end all is sight. If we attend carefully to our experience, however, we see that this is not true. In the beginning our eyes are opened and we see in a powerful and new way. We may be drawn to false conclusions and unrealistic scenarios for the future. But the flashes of rightness in our initial vision are confirmed in the end. A painful refining process has to take place through the agency of the Naked Sword, if we are to become Majnun and not Heathcliff. But Heathcliff, too, was right when he declared that Catherine Earnshaw was his life and his soul. His mistake was to try to posses her -- to bash her up onto the bank where he could snarf her down. It never dawned on him that he was to “pass away” through her.
I have combed the Collected Works in search of a passage to give us some hint of what Jung meant by “withdrawing the projection” -- apart from dispelling the illusion of the anima-mask. I found only one, at the beginning of the chapter on “The Mana Personality” in Two Essays (CW 7, ¶ 374-377). He describes it as
. . . the conquest of the anima as an autonomous complex, and her transformation into a function of relationship between the conscious and the unconscious. With the attainment of this goal it becomes possible to disengage the ego from all its entanglements with collectivity [that is, the persona field] and the collective unconscious. Through this process the anima forfeits the daemonic power of an autonomous complex: she can no longer exercise the power of possession, since she is depotentiated. She is no longer the guardian of treasures unknown; no longer Kundry, daemonic Messenger of the Grail, half divine and half animal; no longer is the soul to be called “Mistress,” but a psychological function of an intuitive nature, akin to what the primitives mean when they say, “He has gone into the forest to talk with the spirits” or “My snake spoke with me” or, in the mythological language of infancy, “A little bird told me.”
Those of my readers who know Rider Haggard’s description of “She-who-must-be-obeyed” will surely recall the magical power of this personality. “She” is a mana-personality, a being full of some occult and bewitching quality (mana), endowed with magical knowledge and power. All these attributes naturally have their source in the naïve projection of an unconscious self-knowledge which, expressed in less poetic terms, would run somewhat as follows: “I recognize that there is some psychic factor active in me which eludes my conscious will in the most incredible manner. It can put extraordinary ideas into my head, induce in me unwanted and unwelcome moods and emotions, lead me to astonishing actions for which I can accept no responsibility, upset my relations with other people in a very irritating way, etc. I feel powerless against this fact and, what is worse, I am in love with it, so that all I can do is marvel.” (Poets often call this the “artistic temperament,” unpoetical folk excuse themselves in other ways.)
Now when the anima loses her mana, what becomes of it? Clearly the man who has mastered the anima acquires her mana, in accordance with the primitive belief that when a man kills the mana-person he assimilates his mana into his own body.
Well then: who is it that has integrated the anima? Obviously the conscious ego, and therefore the ego has taken over the mana. Thus the ego becomes a mana-personality. But the mana-personality is a dominant of the collective unconscious, the well-known archetype of the mighty man in the form of hero, chief, magician, medicine-man, saint, the ruler of men and spirits, the friend of God.
This is an exciting and vivid passage, but not a model of clarity. To unravel what Jung is saying, we have to recall the central argument of Two Essays, which Jung alludes to here in the second sentence. Individuation is a process of differentiating oneself from the two collectivities: that of the persona field and that of the collective unconscious. We must establish a living relationship with these two domains, but not be absorbed by either of them. He says nothing about what the persona field contributes to anima possession -- although the example of Heathcliff gives us a hint of this -- the aim of incorporating the woman who carries our anima projection into our persona strategies.
Most of the passage describes the archetypal power, or mana, of the anima and how it takes away the personal autonomy and free decision power of our ego. What he says about feeling powerless in the face of the anima’s occult and bewitching mana, which overwhelms me with ideas and emotions that are simultaneously unwelcome and yet so compelling I can’t give them up -- all this we know quite well.
But how do we get out of this predicament? What does it mean to withdraw the projection? This is where the passage becomes confusing, for Jung gives us two quite different answers and doesn’t take pains to keep them separate. He gives the more satisfactory solution in the first sentence: to withdraw the projection means to transform the anima “into a function of relationship between the conscious and the unconscious.” The anima then becomes “a psychological function of an intuitive nature, akin to what the primitives mean when they say, ‘He has gone into the forest to talk with the spirits.’” He might well be describing Majnun.
Thus, the first and better solution to the problem of anima projection means that I detach the unconscious image which masks my beloved and bring it back inside, where it ceases to be an image for me to worship. It ceases even to be the object of my meditation. It is no longer even an image. Instead, it becomes transparent, a kind of channel for intuition that puts me into reliable touch with archetypal realities that are greater than I am and which have important things to say to me -- like the birds that sang for Majnun and Layla.
No doubt you’ve noticed, here, that there’s no talk of the person of my beloved. She’s evidently merely an occasion to provoke me into doing my “inner work.” We’ve slipped into solipsism again. But a truly new idea is articulated. The anima -- or animus -- becomes a “function of relationship” and a channel for intuition. Anima and animus are no longer functioning as masks, but have become something more like lenses to bring intuitive reality into focus.
For me, this is the essential meaning of anima and animus, and I will develop the metaphor of the lens at some length in a moment. But first let’s deal with Jung’s second solution to the problem of withdrawing the projection. In the last two paragraphs, he tells us that it is possible for my ego to become inflated with the mana, the archetypal energy that formerly belonged to my anima, so that I come to identify with the great man, the hero, the saint, the shaman. Obviously this is a dangerous, near-psychotic, and probably short-lived attack of grandiosity. Very likely an enantiodromia will follow, and I will become powerless and depressed. If individuation is to take place, the mana -- or psychic energy -- has to leave the ego and take up its rightful place in the Self. Jung begins describing this process six paragraphs after the passage I read to you, in ¶382, and finally makes it explicit in ¶399.
By this round-about argument, he brings us back to the first solution, again. The anima is a lens which brings intuitive realities into focus; and these realities belong to the Self. It is a mistake to attribute them to our beloved and no less erroneous to attribute them to our own ego. The anima is a lens to bring the Self into focus.
This is a very powerful formulation, and it comes close to describing the phenomenology of Romantic Love, as I have been articulating it. Take fana’, for example. When the anima ceases to be a mask which hides my beloved and becomes the lens that brings my Self into focus, my identity is radically altered. My ego gives up its implicit and unexamined claim to be the center of my existence; and I establish a living relationship with my greater Being. My old ego-centered attitude has passed away (fana’) and I have been immeasurably but humbly enlarged (baqa’).
But still the old Jungian solipsism has not been vanquished. There is no more mention of my beloved. I’m getting carried away by my own private individuation project. The woman I thought “I loved with a love that is greater than love” has fallen entirely out of consideration. A process that started out as a deep, transforming encounter with another human soul has led me back into myself. Love has become no more than an epiphenomenon of the internal dynamics of individuation.
What’s the solution to this problem? Is erotic love nothing but a passing fancy? Does it have to give way to the “sentimental affection” of a bourgeois marriage? Am I forever condemned to my Volvo station wagon? And what about all the truthful and accurate impressions I derived of my beloved in the first moments after we drank the Potion? Wasn’t I seeing her through the lens of my anima even then, and not just hiding her behind the mask of my complex?
I think the answer to these problems -- the accurate phenomenological account of what happens in Romantic Love -- is to be found in the metaphor of the lens. The lens brings my beloved into focus, and it brings my Self into focus. It does both things at once. For in the originary experience when I see my beloved’s essential being and know what makes her tick -- in that same moment I also know myself more essentially than I have ever done before.
As long as we inhabit a Cartesian world where I exist in absolute separation from you, we have to devise artificial means for bridging the gulf that divides us so that we can communicate. It seems a contradiction to say that a single lens can bring these two disparate realities into focus at once. Jung avoids this apparent contradiction by ignoring the person of my beloved. He leaves us with the impression that love begins in interpersonal blindness and leads onward to solipsistic sight. I no longer see my beloved, I see my Self. There’s no doubt that this constitutes a real accomplishment. But love, relationship, the interpersonal -- or if you prefer, the transpersonal -- is lost. We are no longer speaking of two psyches, but only of one. The Love Potion has become a mere memory of the past; and the Naked Sword is all that remains.
I’m not willing to repudiate the Love Potion and that originary experience of inter-psychic oneness. However blind my love madness has been, I cannot overlook those powerful impression I had right from the beginning that I knew my beloved more essentially than I had ever known anyone before -- or the synchronistic experiences that confirmed that my beloved and I had established a deep and accurate connection. Even after the Naked Sword of separation has made it impossible for us to meet, these magical and occult communications may continue. We will each know when the other is depressed, elated, or obsessed with our relationship -- at least occasionally.
Not content with solipsistic impressions, I’ve pursued them. I’ve compared notes with former lovers and learned that my emotional life and theirs manifests a striking parallelism. A woman I was involved with thirty years ago can still send me a silent message to call her on the telephone. She becomes angry when I don’t do so. Evidently distance is no problem, as we live on opposite coasts. Others have called me, precisely at moments when something in my present life has reminded me of powerful moments that occurred in connection with them years before -- sometimes joyous, more often painful. Women have told me that they are still in emotional connection with ex-husbands. They know when the man they haven’t seen in years has fallen into one of his characteristic funks. They may even intuit quite accurately what has occasioned that funk.
All this reminds me of those well-known stories of how mothers remain in emotional contact with their children after they have left home. How do they know the moment their son has died in a war, days before the Department of the Army knocks on their door? And how is that they also sometimes know that despite the Army’s best intentions, the announcement of their son’s death is in error, that he continues to live?
In order to comprehend all these events that are unknown and ridiculed by the Cartesian assumptions of our Western persona field, we have to postulate that a deep unity binds us with one another -- a unity that lies outside the frame of common sense reality. How do our pets know that we are about to leave on a trip without them? Do they not follow close to our heels for a day or so before we leave? Even our cats bear a hang-dog look as they stretch out in front of the door, hoping to keep us home or to be taken along with us. Some twenty years ago, Tompkins and Bird (in The Secret Life of Plants) published the results of electrical conductivity experiments on house plants and discovered what appears to be something like an emotional connection between the plants and their owners -- even when the owners were away from home.
Such data as this make it inconceivable that we are not in deep emotional connection with one another, even if we generally ignore or overlook the evidence. My experience with dream-groups and with group supervision of analytic candidates has shown me again and again that the group very soon establishes a creative sort of participation mystique, as though a single psyche is directing us all, speaking now through one of us and now another. The uncanny accuracy by which our various impressions are organized and revealed suggests that we are being guided by some spirit of unity. It has none of the political correctness, polite evasions, and paranoid fear of rejection that characterizes the persona field; but it seems to be a force-field all the same. It’s deeper, more essential, in fact “originary” in its manifestations. I call it the self field.
At bottom, we are one. Our efforts to develop an independent ego-existence induce us to overlook this oneness, for it is dangerous. Our precarious ego-identity is constantly in danger of dissolution -- and far more completely than Jung’s experience in Africa, where he escaped radical egolessness but suffered several days of diarrhea.
In the last decade or so, psychology has begun to speak in terms of field theory. It is only the most recent academic discipline to do so. Events that cannot be explained from the viewpoint of Cartesian subject/object dichotomizing seem to have forced psychology to follow the example of physics.
In its own twentieth century crisis of unknowing, modern physics has gravitated to the image of “field” to account for sub-atomic events that can no longer be understood on the Newtonian analogy of ricocheting billiard-balls. Thus there is a magnetic field, a gravity field, an electron/positron field, and so on, each understood as a polarity of forces describing a “cloud of probabilities.” This vague region only becomes “specified” as a “particle” with a definite location or velocity when an experiment is performed which forces the “cloud” to “collapse” into a specific event.
Rupert Sheldrake has extended the metaphor to include the processes of biology and consciousness. His “morphic fields” determine, for example, the embryological process whereby a cell of a general type becomes “specified” as a neuron or a liver cell for the future chick or child. In Sheldrake’s view, every organism is comprised of a hierarchy of morphic fields, each organizing all the lower-order fields. His theory bears a strong resemblance to the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. For Sheldrake, particle fields govern the components of the atom; these are in turn organized by atomic fields, molecular fields, cellular fields, and so on. Cells are organized by tissue fields, tissues by the fields of specific organs, like the liver or the brain; and the full complement of our organs is harmoniously governed by the morphic field of the whole organism. But fields do not stop there. They also organize consciousness -- very much as Jung’s postulate of the archetypes claims that our psychic life is organized by invisible factors.
Jung speaks of how the leaf-cutter ant and the yucca moth “know” how to recognize the right moment for their highly complicated mating rituals. Because the adult insect lives such a short life, there is never any possibility to learn this behavior from other individuals. He calls the archetypes in-born capacities for apprehending the right conditions and guiding our behavior.
Sheldrake is intrigued by how an English bird, the blue tit, learned almost overnight to steal milk from bottles left on door-steps at dawn. Knowledge of milk-stealing spread not only all over England, but even across the sea in Holland -- despite the fact that these birds can’t fly that far. Even more remarkably, the birds were deprived of milk bottles throughout the Second World War, during which generations of blue tits were born and died who’d never experienced milk-stealing. Yet when the milk bottles reappeared on door-steps at the end of the war, the practice was resumed. How do they know these things? How do they stay in unconscious contact with one another over such great distances and gaps of time? Sheldrake thinks they tap into established “morphic fields.” Jung calls them archetypes.
In similar manner, I postulate that the persona is not simply a mask we don for social purposes, but a field of ideas and assumptions that influences our thinking, feeling, and behavior much the way iron filings arrange themselves above a magnet. The persona field is a powerful emotional/ideational force that sets the conditions of my participation in society. My persona is the strategy that I pursue to negotiate these field-like realities. It is the realm of collective consciousness, characterized by social activity, belonging, and alienation. It affects our politicians, our news media, our academics, and our net surfers. It affects everyone of us more strongly than we care to admit.
There is another oneness as well. I call it the self field. In this conception, my Self is not merely the morphic field that organizes my personality at a deep and comprehensive level. It is also my participation in the oneness of humanity, and even humanity’s oneness with the natural world. It is the self field that I encounter when I meet my Layla or my Majnun. The transpersonal oneness of the self field is the source of that originary experience by which we become Adam and Eve, Isis and Osiris, Orpheus and Euridice.
The anima and the animus are the lens which brings the self field into focus. The lens of the anima doesn’t look in two directions at once, focusing simultaneously on my isolated Self and the isolated Self of my beloved. Rather our two Selves participate in the oneness of our we, the originary unity out of which our ephemeral Cartesian egos have been differentiated. To drink the Love Potion means to have our eyes opened to this oneness that pre-exists our meeting, and even pre-exists the formation of our ego-identities. Our anima and animus come into play not primarily in the form of mask-like images by which we hide one another from sight, but rather as lenses onto this unitary field. The synchronicities that astonish us and confirm our deep connection stem from this originary oneness -- the self field which generally escapes our notice as we go about our hectic and ephemeral lives, negotiating our survival strategies in the persona field.
Erotic love seems to deepen and ground our ephemeral existence, precisely because it brings unmistakably to our awareness the deep unity in which we are all sharing all of the time. The fiction of our independent existence as egos is necessary for survival, and the self field threatens this ephemeral and fragile life in the domain of space and time. We have to keep these greater realities at bay. But as we conduct our one-sided ego-centered existence in the world of the everyday, inevitably we feel a vague longing for something more substantial, something more ultimate, something that will satisfy us wholly. When we meet our Layla or our Majnun, the bottom drops out of the ephemeral world we’ve taken for granted and the originary ground of our existence is revealed. We are embedded in the field of the Self, like an unformed particle in the electron/positron field. The uncertain cloud of probabilities collapses at the moment of our meeting, and the formerly invisible self field becomes the focus of our attention.
The illusion that I cannot live without my Catherine Earnshaw is a false conclusion, but an understandable one. For, like Heathcliff, I remain ignorant of the self field that grounds my existence so wonderfully until the day I lay eyes on my Cathy. In that moment, my anima emerges from the shadows and becomes the lens that brings the self field into view. Now that I know of this reality, what I cannot live without is my lively sense of being rooted in that ground of personal existence, my oneness with all creation. Drinking the Love Potion with my Cathy has brought us both into focus, as standing on that common ground of oneness. I sense my wholeness; I sense ours; and I catch sight of the greater field in which we have our joint Being.
This one little move is all we need to open up Jungian psychology to the greater reality of interpersonal dynamics. We can even keep our Cartesian egos. What we have to see is that our isolated sense of subjectivity is grounded in a pair of unities -- that of the persona field and that of the self field. Individuation means differentiating ourselves from these two collective fields while maintaining a living relationship with both of them. Falling in love is that moment when our anima or animus comes into play for us as a lens. Like finding a Corinthian capital on a busy twentieth century street, the lens of our anima enables us to transcend time, and returns us to the originary world before egos had developed, to that time before time, in illo tempore, as Eliade never tires of reminding us.
But: what, you will ask, about that old Jungian doctrine of the anima-mask? Have I not agreed that this traditional teaching has a lot of practical truth value for us? Isn’t it true that sometimes what seems to start out as Romantic Love turns out to be a private illusion, a self-deceiving infatuation? Aren’t raw youths prone to fall in love with movie stars and teachers and even classmates who are not only unaffected but even refuse to give them the time of day? Aren’t these undeniable proof that the anima image may indeed function as a mask to keep us locked in a private, neurotic fancy?
Yes, indeed. And it also happens when a real relationship has begun -- when two people have drunk the Potion and are mutually involved. In such a case, when I become attached to a particular image of my beloved, my attention has been distracted from the self field, and my anima ceases for a time to function as a lens. I’ve caught sight of a rainbow colored salmon in the subtle river of the self field, and become obsessed with bashing it up onto the bank where I can make it part of my lumbering life in the everyday world of the persona field. The anima or animus becomes a deceiving mask only when I’ve lost sight of the self field. Only when the lens becomes occluded. Only when I’m caught in one of my habitual complexes.
Obviously this happens often enough, and much of the work of a long-term erotic relationship has to do with letting go of those literalized and rigid images. In this sense, the lens of my anima might be thought of on the model of a movie-projector lens. I only get to know my beloved in her wholeness, when I do not stand in the way of the myriad images that manifest her many facets. An image becomes a mask only when I cling to it and resist the flow of life. The metaphor of anima and animus as lens opens up the experience of Romantic Love in several directions. Allowing the many facets of my beloved to pass by my gaze without attaching myself to any one of them, is the very model of yogic meditation. I maintain my one-pointed gaze, and neither resist nor cling to any of the images or emotions that come before me.
Romantic Love may also describe the dynamics of a relationship of mutuality, not only in the first weeks or months after drinking the Potion, but over the long haul as well. Even in my sagging middle age, when my lover and I have been married for decades, my anima can continue to be a lens. My partner and I can still focus on our self-field unity, with all the numinosity and synchronicity that attend to that originary realm. Even on our thirtieth anniversary, we can still claim in all honesty to be madder than a thousand Majnuns, for what still transpires between us on the plain of the self field always epitomizes madness for conventional attitudes. When Majnun says that he is but the veil that hides the face of Layla, what he means is that his ego is an ephemeral illusion, a mere veil, before the self-field reality of his oneness with his beloved. Those who have the eyes of the anima to see will know this.
If anima and animus are understood to be lenses onto the self field, we find ourselves in a good position to understand the experience of Jelaluddin Rumi, Teresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola, who began their search for God in the halls of Venus. Having become acquainted with the lens that brings the self field into focus, they were able to go beyond the confessor who came last year in a brown habit and this year in a black robe. Bringing the deeper reality into focus, and not becoming stuck on any particular image, they saw through the shapes of the bottles and contemplated the wine of divine love. For the self field is not limited to my essential being and yours; but the greater Self that comes to presence is also Khidr, the Holy Ghost, atman, and the Tao. It is no accident that mystics the world over have used the analogy of erotic love to describe their love affair with God.
Many of the alchemists worked with a soror mystica, a mystical sister, for precisely this reason. They gave one another the lens of the anima and animus so as to focus on the field where lead can become gold through the erotic agency of Mercurius. The philosopher’s stone is an image of the self field.
Shamans, too, have learned to see through the lens of the anima and animus. Their healing work requires, as Eliade says, that they have become experts in soul. They diagnose their patients by entering the self field, where they see in an essential manner so as to know when the soul is missing and how it may be restored. Anima and animus are the lens by which they see into this deeper oneness of the realm of the soul. Their spirit guides and instructors are often beings of the opposite gender.
When the anima and animus are a lens onto the self field and the persona is our strategy for negotiating the field of collective consciousness, Jungian psychology is opened up to the interpersonal dynamics by which it gathers its data and performs the work of analysis. Intra-psychic dynamics are not compromised. We can still talk that language when it suits us -- when we wish to understand what is going on within a single individual. But now we also have the tools to talk about what goes on between us when we relate to one another. We don’t have to forget the person of our beloved when we discuss the transformations of Romantic love.




"Of course Suzanne goes beyond simple "I wanted her,I couldn't get her" thing.I always thought it was about mystical experience,and the similarity between love/sex and love/god.Mystics are said to have some kind of orgasm feeling when they reach god.Better when they feel the energy of god flowing through them.Body and mind overlap.Maybe I'm just stating the obvious,I'm new to this group,but that's the first thing that this song suggested to me.
The water symbolizes feelings and subconscious,so it's associated with Suzanne (=someone you dismiss as "crazy" with your rational intellect)and Jesus (because faith is not a rational thing,but only "drowning men could see him",that could mean "only those who are in distress",but also "only those who dive deep into the subconscius mind)...it's kind of Jungian: it's a song about Anima,I guess.About the feminine part who nurtures ("feeds you tea...") and is deeply associated with water and water-like objects (like the mirror)..."

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Mind is the closest thing to our Reality...Be careful how you use it. Businessman, yogi, teacher, addicted to laughing...