This dream featured Landon S. He was living in filth, was smoking and drinking. He was much of a mess. Yet he was interacting kindly and appropriately with me as I visited in his living quarters. He had, in addition to his apartment dwelling, a whole house built around a pickup truck. I was amazed at such a sight. I was holding on to the side of this 'moving house' as it gained speed down the road. Suddenly I entered a very different state of mind and consciousness. It seemed to me like I was fully awake and this was completely 'real.' I sensed I was about to enter another world. I knew I was headed to something far more enormous than my ego consciousness could comprehend. It was exhilarating and horrid, both to the highest degree. I had to either respond to the adventuresome exhilaration and 'go with it' or try to pull back in fear. I knew the latter would be impossible, nothing was going to stop this inhuman like movement into the unknown. So I chose to 'go with it.' I said to myself, 'Be as conscious as you can of anything that happens from this moment on .' I sensed that my ego-self was about to be swallowed up, that I was going to lose all consciousness. This means that I was going to die. But I chose to stay as conscious as long as I could. Then there was a great burst into another reality. To some extent I was aware of meaningless images and random pieces of creation, of nature parts and body parts. But nothing was together in any organized way. There were bright colors flashing but with no sense or meaning. Then all became 'nothing and still.' There was no need for anything but to simply be. It was complete peace. At some point I was back in Landon's place and he was as unkempt as ever. I was glad to be there again. I was appreciative of him as he was.
REFLECTION: Landon is an independent teacher, lecturer and community organizer type person in the Churches of Christ. His ministry for decades has not been to work with a single church but to help set up and lead community workshops designed to draw the attention of unchurched people. These were often called 'Feeling Good About Yourself.' I worked with him for such a workshop in Springfield, Ill in 1982. I have remained highly respectful, admiring and appreciative of his ministry and message ever since. I sometimes used his well produced materials in my counseling work. His outer personal presentation is the full opposite as in the dream. I do not take this as any description of his private life but only that I need to be reminded that all humans have a serious shadow side. Often it remains mostly unconscious to the individual and often we fail to recognize any real shadow in humans we highly admire and identify with. Jung believed that recognizing and accepting ones shadow is the second most important element of discovery in the individuation process, thus in the spiritual/psychological maturation process. The first would be becoming aware that we are each far different than the persona we generate for others to see and 'know.' People who define themselves primarily as to their kind of work, family role, other position or trait have not yet become much aware of their persona and how it differs from their more essential and real personality. A glaring example of the reality of the persona vs. the true inner life may be if I imagine some of my personal writings were to fall into the hands of people who know me only by my public persona. The result could be devastating to relationships for some would not be drawn to liking my truer identity as much as my more comfortable 'persona' personality. There is always risk to 'taking off the mask' of ones persona to reveal the truer self. For example my fuller self may be viewed by some as more strange and maybe not too reliable. This risk would be there if some of my church friends were more aware of the questions and concerns I have regarding religious life and teaching. For these reasons I have shared most of my essays and dreams with only a few. The third common step in the individuation process is that of becoming conscious of the inner contra-sexual function in oneself, the anima for men and the animus for women.
Again, Landon is used here for throughout my internal/outer changes, from my original religious heritage, he has remained in my one-sided view nearly without flaw or shadow. It is important that we be prepared for the reality of the shadow to appear in all others, including those we most admire.
I recall writing in a paper at the University of Illinois Springfield about 1982 how I was aware that most every adult I had admired highly had in some way also disappointed me as an example of humanity. I was likely 'seeing' the shadow in others before I really 'saw' my own. This is in harmony with Jesus' teaching that we nearly always see the 'speck in another's eye before we see the beam in our own.' This is a hilarious way of saying that one of the most significant levels of consciousness in any serious spiritual growth is the discovery of one's own very real shadow. Once our personal shadow is faced we have no reason or delight is seeing the faults of others, though we may see them more clearly and troubling than ever. Owning the 'collective shadow' of our family, our church, culture and our nation is also a part of the maturation process.
|Beam and Mote.....1619|
The second outstanding image and experience of this dream is the awareness and the threat of entering into the 'nothingness', of entering the 'whole before anything' so completely that the full loss and death of the personal ego is most certain. I was fully preparing to enter death. This was at once horrifying and exhilarating. Horror at the fear of losing my self as I know myself and exhilaration of entering into that realm before creation which contains all that has and can be but in undifferentiated and thus unconscious form. Perhaps Jung's most unorthodox but also most healing and hopeful concepts is well described in John P. Dourley's book A Strategy For Loss Of Faith(A most deceptive title until one reads the book.) Dourley is a Catholic priest and University teacher in Canada and has commented extensively on Jung's and Paul Tillich's writings. In the last chapter he describes how Jung greatly relied on 13th century mystic Meister Eckhart. Eckhart was a German Dominican priest and professor who led a very pronounced public life even while having deep mystic experiences of what now can be called the Collective Unconscious. Conclusions that Eckhart and later Jung reached include the model of going back to very beginnings, at first there was 'nothing' in the sense that nothing was separated from anything else. That is that all that could potentially be was undifferentiated and thus unconscious. "In the beginning was God" but 'that God' was not the Trinity Godhead but a description of all that can potentially be but in a fully unconscious state, a true void of consciousness. From this 'nothing but everything' the ultimate Godhead which Jung, using ancient language, called The Great Mother came the Western discovered Trinity and from the Trinity came the creation with humans being needed to make more fully conscious the internal imperfection in the Trinity.
|'Everything and Nothing'..The All But No Consciousness Before Creation|
Eckhart describes returning to that nothing beyond the Trinity where all is unseparated and also unconscious. There were no 'opposites' yet. Jung no doubt has some similar personal experience or at least searched for examples of it in his study of world religions and religious experiences. His similar experience would have been during the years when he withdrew entirely from professional life except for some private counseling of individuals. He was primarily working on his own deep interior. I've come to suspect I've had some level of such an internal journey while also staying reasonably involved in life's outer activities. Eckhart's emphasis is that as dangerous as such an experience is; for it assuredly at least for a moment absorbs, makes unconscious and thus threatens to destroy the ego conscious having such experience, it holds much promise for both God and human. Eckhart's great hope was that one could return from that emptiness and ego's loss( A Christian is reminded of N.T. words describing that loss or 'death' to oneself as the precedent to a fullness of life etc.)with a stronger connection with all things. Jung's thought suggests that the individuation process involves a repeating of this inner journey as a kind of rhythm of life as one moves to increased consciousness step by step. Which has the effect of a person gaining a greater and greater empathy for all people, all creation and for all Sacred forces and realities.
All this to say that I think this dream which displays such an 'exhilarating horror' is an image of that journey from the world of creation and some level of consciousness to that world beyond all creation, the 'wholeness of nothing.' The meaningless that I describe of disconnected parts of creation and flashing lights of unchanneled energies is a way of imaging that aspect of the deepest levels of the Unconscious that Jung traced to the work of Eckhart and later to another Christian mystic Jacob Boehme. Boehm led a very common but socially active and teaching life two centuries after Eckhart. Jung also found support for some of this kind of modeling in the medieval and older alchemists' work and writings. In the dream I enter that world with 'fear and trembling ' and ' exhilarating spiritual ecstasy' and then I also come back out of it to the created and 'everyday' world. I seem to have even increased appreciation of Landon after the journey, this in spite of and maybe even because of, his very real and emphasized shadow.
All of this also contributes to my present attitude toward God which along with awe and praise contains a very definite empathy for God. (Recall the dreams of God's frustration in my 'teacher' dreams.) No image of God held in the human mind and consciousness cannot be a 'perfect' and 'complete' or 'ultimate god' but one with imperfections and shadow. And the ultimate state of the God of eternity is not an image of anything, but of total unconsciousness where all things are one in perfect unity. I see that neither Eckhart or Jung have a model to explain why there was any 'movement to create' from this perfect but unconscious unity. Total peace and unconsciousness has no need to act or create beyond itself. That mystery remains but to me implies that somewhere in the 'nothing' lay some kind of desire, much as in a human, to 'create', to 'express from what is to what can be, for ill or good.' So this is a much oversimplified(but expanding from the Christian orthodox view) way of 'seeing' how all has come to be what it presently is. It is important to keep in mind in all this that any God emerging from the 'nothingness' would discover a need for fuller consciousness and that can only be had through the 'developing consciousness' of the human. So the continued work of creation, this very day, is a cooperative work involving Sacred and Human effort and the cooperative suffering of both God and Humans.
I think it significant that what has motivated and compelled my life is not the exploration of such themes above. These broad collective kinds of imaging about life's meaning and ontological background and natural mutuality of God and Human are not the most important issues in my personal life. I do acknowledge appreciation that I have been able to reach such , to me, conclusions that give me a sense of satisfaction by offering meaningful answers to some of the questions that thoughtful humans perennially ask.
But these kinds of understandings have come like the wake behind a boat, as only the result of where the boat(my individual personal motivation and need) is headed, or attempting to head. I reached mid life with the 1)suppression(not consciously aware of unpleasant feelings) of the trauma experienced by my mother's death and the 2)repression(consciously rejecting from full awareness) of an image of the highest potential joys related to human intimacy. As I became conscious of these two inner, but till then mostly unconscious, realities I had found the driving motivations for the rest of my life. This is what has been going on at increasing conscious levels throughout my second half of life. And the models,concepts and images I describe above have been side effects of me trying to find the meaning and following the implications of 1) and 2). I suppressed the feelings of my mother's death for a lack of any capacity to handle the raw emotion and I repressed the image of potential human joy and intimacy for it deeply conflicted with some of the strong interpretations of sexuality in the religion of my heritage. I came eventually to see it was also in conflict in my secular culture's view of sexuality as well. I think 1) has been thoroughly worked through and integrated until it is a non-issue for me. 2) remains a mystery that I still am symbolically continuing to look for and motivates me to retrieve dreams hoping too more fully receive the promise I was given as a natural part of my inner makeup. Somewhere between vision type experiences beginning in mid August '85 and the following several years 'the images of the experience' of a life long fully developed love, steeped in Agape, Phileo and Eros, relationship was placed in my conscious mind. I live as if I have had such an experience in the past far more than my actual experience. This is the grandest mystery of my inner life and I have little explanation of it. Jung's work gives me only some clues. I believe the promise under-girding this level of consciousness of intimate joy first came to me about the time of puberty but at a barely conscious level. It may be that the rather 'deep' thoughts above have been or will be the most important meaning or accomplishment of my internal life. If so, then I will accept that level of grace. But I can continue to hold out the possibility that 2) becomes an increasing personal outer reality in my continuing days.
I realize that some of this can sound extremely presumptuous. To my ego consciousness this all sounds as presumptuous as to anyone else. In a very real way what has been thrust , with my willingness to cooperate, upon me by life is as much a surprise and mystery to me as it may be to any of my peers. I can only ask for any reader to trust that I am not at all self aggrandizing here. I have little interest to somehow be a model of human increased consciousness except to the extent that it can be one where many others are also having and will have similar internal changes. I am only attempting to objectively report and conclude where my intellect and reasoning functions lead me with respect to my own personal(God given)experience, my reading of others' work and the dreams that I have nightly. I have little interest or any understanding of how or whether my experience and thought is different or the same as others. I'm too far down the road of my life for such to even be considered.
I am fortunate that my having such thoughts and conclusions has not got me fully rejected from any communities that I care to be a part of and am dependent on. Eckhart was not so fortunate and spent his last days defending the many counts of heresy that the church, and thus the culture of his day, had pronounced against him. The process described here I think has led to the fate of numerous religious/political martyrs and likely can be an excellent way to understand some of the life dynamics and death of Jesus of Nazareth. Some willing martyrs are conscious and thus sane regarding what is going on with themselves internally and they eventually accept death at the hands of their opposition. Other martyrs are unconscious of the higher and collective meaning of their inner experience and thus are patently insane. There is a fine line between an enlightened consciousness and insanity, the kind of personal insanity that can result in mass human tragedy and death. They at times look much the same. The difference lies in the level of consciousness and the personal responsibility taken for that consciousness. With the sane person the personal ego-consciousness is intact even though at times seems little more than a side-line observer of the dynamics of the inner and outer life. With the insane the ego has been overwhelmed by the unconscious contents that have burst into awareness. Or you could say that the ego has identified with the unconscious contents, so the insane person thinks 'he is' the contents of the unconscious. Such an insane person will also willingly die for 'their truth' but is also quite willing to take others with him. The sane martyr dies alone for the genuine benefit of others. I likely do not need to mention the name Jesus.
Wherever an advance in consciousness happens, it may have little to do with natural intellect or striving of the human will. Sincerity and interest in truth probably assist. It is likely most directly a necessary work of nature. And it is one that cannot be kept a secret indefinitely, simply because it has everything to do with the collective, not just the individual carriers of it. It is the path of the spiritual evolution of the human soul. And this task can come to any of us in any number of ways. Whatever can be said of me that may make me seem different or strange, I am fully aware of how thoroughly and commonly human I am to my core. And I carry much empathy for the situation and wonder of human persons and of humanity. But I have never said that the human is not also the place where God is presently to be found. That too is a statement of wisdom that comes from many sources including that attributed in the gospel to Jesus who quipped , ' Ye too are gods.' Our present Western civilization has simply in its strongest religious and secular assessments not clung to such ancient wisdom. Such ancient wisdom awaits to be rediscovered and applied to our times. The work of C.G. Jung offers much help in making that rediscovery. Jim