Thursday, September 1, 2011

DREAM: MOTHER AND EROS...april 17, 2010

1. The dream begins when I with some family am walking through a nursing home. An old woman with us falls to the floor and dies. It is not an endearing sight. We seem to feel very little warmth toward her even as she takes her last breaths. Then on a T.V. screen a very pleasant endearing face of my step mother, who I called Mama Gene, appeared.

2. A finger drew, like on a sand board, a vertical rectangle. Then the finger drew a horizontal line across the rectangle making two squares. It now looked like a window.

What do I choose to see?
REFLECTION: This dream I find so unpleasant to work with. The first dream feels very dark and shadowy for the first part of it. The face in the T.V. sharply contrasts with the dying woman. It brings to my mind an aspect of my childhood that is very unpleasant. I did not have a positive attraction to my step mother. I don't think I blame myself for this as much as I just wish I could have felt a stronger attraction. It seems like the chemistry was simply not there. I was thirteen when Daddy announced to his family he had found a new wife. I was caught by surprise for I had never met her until he had decided to marry her. His conversation with me about this left me with frightening and lonely feelings. I had not emotionally identified with women well following my mother's death. Aunts and sister in laws had been around me but I did not accept much affection from them. I was surely experiencing confusion and sadness. I was still very much grieving my mother's death.

The dream is making me more aware that I did not identify Mama Gene's physical self, her human body, as emotionally inviting or attractive. Most would say that she was a pretty woman but I had no sense of desiring or pleasantness about touching or being touched by her. I know that is different than how I had experienced my mother. I can recall liking to lay my head on her lap and her touching me with her hands and hugging me.
Me and Mother and oldest Brother, Rufus
 All of that seemed to leave my world when she died. What I am now realizing is that what was missing was Eros, one of the aspects of well developed love.  I had experienced Eros but associated it with only one woman, my mother. Fortunately  I was bodily connected with my Daddy. His physical being was a pleasant sight and I easily hugged him and accepted his affection.  So I am grateful that  Eros was appropriately alive in  my relationship with him. Of importance I recall the night mother died that one of the first things Daddy said to me was something like, " Life will never be the same for us. But  I will try to be both father and mother to you." That reminds me that for several years Daddy would don an apron as he cooked and served me oatmeal each morning for breakfast. I'm confident he was fulfilling that promise to me and am sure he never wore an apron before or expected to. He also put my bunk bed in his bedroom for several years after mother died. He did an outstanding  job in my opinion.   Im sure he was hoping  my and Mama Gene's experience would be very positive for both of us. The lack of Eros in what 'should' be a close familial relationship is I think somewhat of an empty or 'death' experience, or was for me regarding my stepmother. It certainly interfered  with the other aspects of love, such as Philia, being experienced in our initial relationship. It resulted more in a toleration of her presence rather than an enjoyment of it. It restricted the amount and quality of eye contact I offered her.

The first part of the dream has helped me see that the discomfort I had with my step mother was the absence of Eros. Once, my Dad asked me to try to be more appreciative and connected to her. I was relieved that it was observed and acknowledged that I was not feeling warm to her but I sensed there was little I could do to change that. I did, after a few years, come to appreciate her but it remained more a matter of will than of heart. I 'knew' she was a good woman and did many good things for me. I increasingly chose to express gratitude and to include her, but more for my Dad's happiness than a feeling of Eros toward her. I think I am saying something here about my own shadow even as a very young man. Our barriers to love are always a part of our shadow side. My behavior and lack of warmth toward her was not fair and likely caused some level of suffering for her. I am not proud of this reality.

Daddy, with Mama Gene's approval, received  a 10 year old girl Nancy  as a foster daughter when I was about 15. I also was unable to identify positively with her at a body visceral level. Her physical presence also was not a pleasant experience for me. I now know the missing element was again Eros. I feel even worse about this. I first acknowledged my rejection of her after my 'visions' of '85. I did my best to get word back to her then that I realized I had not been receptive to her being in the home and that I deeply regretted it. I had been given the opportunity to have a sister but had been unable to enter into that relationship in ways enjoyable for her or me. If anyone would have reason to not like me, she is the person. I gave her nothing to like. I can best explain that by the lack of Eros making its presence known and available in my heart for her.

The T.V. screen image of my step mother was one that makes her seem very attractive and warm. I am drawn to it in a way that I was never drawn to her actual bodily presence. It gives me a contrast of the difference in Eros being active and present or not. If I had 'seen' her in real life as I do on the TV of the dream I would have been drawn to her physically and we would have had a more joyful experience. A 'screen or window' has much symbolic meaning in dreams. It generally signifies the possibility of 'seeing' reality in a more fully conscious way. It means the opportunity to move into another world view, to become more enlightened, to even be 'born again.' Given another opportunity to live with a new mom or sister I would be open to looking for and willing that Eros make its appearance in my heart. As a child I knew of no such possibility or potential to hope for. I do not blame myself and certainly not these two female persons but I am sad that it could not have been different.

I recall what I now recognize as the presence of Eros after my mother's death. Daddy and I visited my mother's sister and her daughter in Raleigh , N.C. This was a few months  after mother died. I was ten and my cousin was 16. I totally enjoyed her physical presence. I thought of her as very pretty. I liked that she enjoyed sitting near me. I paid appreciative attention to her female body. On an outing she would have me wet my crew hair cut and she would rub her hands through my hair and make the water spray. I loved this interaction and I loved being close to her physical self. I enjoyed the way she smelled. This is truly Eros experienced. My own Eros was being engaged and active. If I had been a little older I would have experienced this as sexual attraction no doubt. I remember hoping that my Dad might marry my aunt and Ann would be daily in my life. I recall when my brother arrived on the scene, who was about my cousin's age, I was jealous that the two of them were hitting it off. I was not as much in her interest as I had been without him. I'm glad that I had that experience of Eros with Ann my cousin. She had been named after my mother Anne.

Being clearly aware of how Eros feels before one is sexually aware demonstrates how 'innocent' Eros is in and of itself. And Eros should continue to be experienced as such innocent excitement in the physical bodily presence of another. When this is with a beloved adult partner it becomes expressible in overt sexual ways and ideally is charged with the same innocence as the Eros experienced by a child. Unfortunately Eros gets contaminated and warped by the influence of Western culture and religion. This turns Eros into something that becomes sex as power or sex for the sake of sex. Pornography, as customarily experienced and promoted  in Western culture, is evidence that Eros has been corrupted, denied and lost its connection with pure innocence. Eros can lose its innocence and fail to stay united and guided by Agape and Philia. Eros in harmony with Philia is genuinely welcoming and playful. Uncorrupted Eros does not use its strong power to tease but to delight, in itself and its beloved.  Eros with Agape will motivate a lover to, 'Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow' and as necessary  love its partner 'pure and chaste from afar.'

Eros keeping its childlike innocence is what makes it spiritually and psychologically possible for present day lovers to reenter the Garden of Eden. The innocent Eros of Eden is possible where lovers are very conscious, as mature adults, of the presence and meaning of Eros in their own inner experience. Genesis accurately describes Eros as being mutually  'naked with no shame.' Such lovers  know well  the difference between 'good and evil.' and they will know for sure, unlike much of our culture, that Eros is  very good. To them most moral issues that  presently  face humankind  are not ones that can be codified by 'thou shalt or shalt not'  but require the conscious and intuitive practice of  embodies love and justice  in all human relationships. Where Eros abides with Phileo and Agape humans  are more able to 'look through the window'  into life with fully open and conscious eyes.

'Belshazzar's  Feast'  Painting  1635, London
The second dream is again a window. It is drawn by the ' mysterious finger' which is another symbol of the unconscious that usually refers to a foreboding communication from the Sacred. This image implies a strong warning is included in the message of this dream. The book of Daniel in the O.T. describes a dream where the 'finger of God' writes out a message to King Belshazzar. It is called the 'writing on the wall.' In my dream the finger draws a rectangle, then it turns this into two squares. The 'squaring' of something is a reference to the process of moving toward healing and wholeness and completion. (This is the Jungian 'individuation' process. Jung did not invent 'individuation' but only gave a name to the process of development he saw demonstrated across all areas of human life: culture, religions and individual dreams.) The 'windows' in the dream are clear and clean as if waiting and asking the dreamer, "What do you see? What is the view of life, of God, of humanity, of love that you are going to step into and make your own?" It may be specifically asking me what I 'see' in the previous dream. Do I see death or life? A world where humans acknowledge and anticipate Eros or where Eros is denigrated and pushed underground? I have tried to explain above what I see in that dream. What I think is the message for me. The second dream is granting some confidence in my sense of being able to 'choose' what I see in the window. It is not telling me what I should see but warning that what I choose to see reflects the real content of my heart and the meaning of my life.

The essential message to Belshazzar by Daniel's interpretation was that 1. The days of his kingdom were ending 2. He has been weighed and found wanting 3. He was guilty of a 'divided' kingdom.
The dream is asking me to then search my heart and try to see something through the window that Belshazzar failed to see. If so the message can be a blessing instead of a curse and the verdict be : 1. Your 'inner kingdom' is worthy of service to others for many days 2. Your inner attitude is one of solid balance, neither side too heavy or light... and  3. The opposites are united, not divided, in your inner world. It is advising me that I should 'see' carefully. I recall Jesus' similar warning , 'Take care that you see with a single eye." I think that it was not possible to fully see mature Eros in ourselves and others until our era. We now, unlike our forebears and unlike me as a child with my stepmother and step sister, can look through the glass, not darkly but clearly, and see love in ways that have not been evolutionarily possible before. Will I and will my culture consciously seize this opportunity that offers to improve the quality of human life forever?

This is a very heavy, but hopeful, dream contrasting two very opposite experiences I have had resulting in contrasting kinds of reality. The dream is parallel to all those stories where the human is asked to 'choose which way you wish to go.' Joshua said to the Israelites, 'Choose you this day whom you will serve.... Choose life or death.' The unconscious presents me with a similar choice that fits my situation, and possibly, if this an archetypal dream, the situation of my culture in general. That choice is: "Choose openness to Eros or refuse and chastise Eros. Honor Eros as an essential aspect of love along with Agape and Philia or denigrate and push Eros out of consciousness, repress it as our forebear’s have so often done."

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