BODY, SOUL, SPIRIT: An Imperfect Connection

Posted October 12, 2015 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized

According to an old Gnostic myth, before the universe existed, the Great Goddess bore a son who was the Creator God, but before he grew into maturity he began creating things so he could have something to play with. He thus created our world while he was still only partly conscious of what he was doing. Since he was Spirit, he wanted a connection with the matter he was creating, and this connection was Soul, a kind of switchboard which made communication possible between our body and the Spirit, but since he was himself not yet fully conscious, the Soul, like most of Creation, turned out to be technologically primitive and rather unconscious.

As you can see, this myth is a metaphor of our present imperfect condition in the world. Indeed, he made such a mess of things that when his Mother tried to find him among all his toys she herself got lost and caught in the creation, and this was the purpose of alchemy, to extract her from the matter in which she was caught. Alchemists did not discuss this much in the Christian world, however, since it tended to arouse the Inquisitors. Where, then, does our spirit derive the consciousness needed for the creative process to occur? This process is, as the myth points out, dependent on the link between spirit and body. Thus the soul has no meaning unless it is brought into consciousness. This, in effect, is what the alchemists were attempting; discovering the spiritual process within the material world and freeing it from its bondage within it. This spiritual-material process is what we may call the Soul. But this process requires an ability to recognize and accept misfortune, pain, and other miseries in an attempt to understand their meanings. As Rumi wrote:

“I saw grief drinking a cup of sorrow and called out: “It tastes sweet, does it not?”  “You’ve caught me,” grief answered, “and you’ve ruined my business. How can I sell sorrow, when you know it’s a blessing?”

It seems that pain and pleasure play a considerable role in the relationship between matter and spirit. Spirit apparently derives the energy necessary to support life from the living body and this sometimes creates problems for the body, especially when the body is incapable of supplying the amount necessary. This process can lead to various afflictions such as illness, accidents, and even eventually death. This does not mean, however, that the affliction is the enemy; something to overcome. This was made apparent to me in a rather extraordinary dream which took me some time to figure out

I was in a room with several other people whom I could see through so I assumed they were spirits. In the center was a glass tank full of what appeared to be water with a human body in it pressed against the wall of the tank. This pressure caused it to emit a fluid which I was to drink. I assumed that the others were there to get some fluid also (since they too were spirits.) I was given some of it, about 3 or 4 oz., and drank it. It was the color of water but the consistency of blood.

This dream caused me to assume that I was being told that the function of the body is to provide energy to the spirit. The spirit uses the body to attain its ends in the material world, but it needs the energy from the material world to perform these functions, and the body is required to provide it. This may be true of all living forms, not just humans. As the body ages, less energy becomes available, and as energy runs low, pain or other afflictions sometimes result, and some, like injury, can further restrict the flow of energy. This flow of energy can be limited also by the switchboard used to determine the direction of this flow, which we call the Soul. Indeed, if we do not recognize the existence of a soul, or are unaware that we even have one, there may be no limit to the amount of pain and confusion we can experience, although soul is also inherently capable of  providing much pleasure. Love is an example.

        This dream also seems to express the scientific view that matter consists of energy in various forms. Waves and particles seem to be different forms of energy; particles perceptible as matter and waves imperceptible which may be what we mean by spirit. One of our meanings of spirit has always been ‘energy,’ a ‘spirited person.’ In living creatures, or at least in mammals, spirit and body are linked by Soul. Thus it might be correct to say that the soul is the switchboard which selects the proper form which energy is to take as it passes from spirit to body or the reverse. The soul can turn pain into pleasure, love into hatred, hope into despair, or vice versa. Feelings can be turned into emotions and even into actions using the body as an instrument.

James Hillman stated that the soul naturally pathologizes.  It presents itself variously in abnormality, twistedness, pain, exaggeration and mess. He does not romanticize abnormality, however, but he authenticates it as native and essential to the soul. He is the founder of the school of psychology called ‘archetypal psychology’ which is Jungian in its foundation but goes beyond where Jung perhaps felt it safe to go.

In our attempt to achieve or maintain health and normalcy, we can find the heroic ego at work. The ego is always ready to wage wars on poverty, disease, and any and all kinds of trouble. By trying so hard to transcend, the hero represses feelings of inferiority, which can strike one from behind as grand failures. Rather then cure these manifestations of the soul, Hillman believes they should first be investigated for their intentions. He wrote:

“One day in Burghölzli, the famous institute in Zurich where the words ‘schizophrenia’ and ‘complex’ were born, I watched a woman being interviewed. She sat in a wheelchair because she was elderly and feeble. She said that she was dead for she had lost her heart. The psychiatrist asked her to place her hand over her heart to feel her heart beating: it must still be there if she could feel its beat. “That,” she said, “is not my real heart.” She and the psychiatrist looked at each other. There was nothing more to say. Like the primitive who has lost his soul, she had lost the loving, courageous connection to life — and that is the real heart, not the ticker which can as well pulsate isolated in a glass bottle.”

This is a different view of reality than the usual one. It is so radically different that it is usually considered to be a form of insanity. But I am certain that you can understand what the woman felt in her psychosis as well as the view of reality in his attempting to convince her that her heart was still there. Despite the elaborate and moneyed systems of medical research and the advertisements of the health and recreation industries to prove that the physical is what is real and that the loss of heart and loss of soul are only in the mind, it seems that, like the primitive and the woman in the hospital, we can and do lose our souls. As Jung said, each of us is ‘modern man in search of a soul.’  Actually, dealing with symptoms can help us find our soul, just as suppressing the symptom may cause us to lose it. Pain may just be the soul crying for help, comfort, love and  attention, trying to impress the stupid and stubborn mind — that impotent mule which insists on going its unchanging, obstinate way by suppressing all pain with its demands for remedies. In some cases, the symptom may be the first herald of an awakening psyche which will not tolerate any more abuse. Jung said that sickness is the body’s way of relieving an overloaded psyche. Do not deplore sickness, he said, but be grateful to the body for helping to carry your burden! When dealing with a symptom, one must first listen and look carefully at what is being revealed in the suffering. An intent to heal can get in the way of seeing. By doing less, more is accomplished. Observance is homeopathic in its working rather than allopathic, in the paradoxical way that it befriends a problem rather than making an enemy of it. Through the symptom the psyche is demanding attention, and every living creature needs recognition, The ancient Egyptians apparently were aware of this in their view of the neter. Working with the symptom through dealing with the neter, or spirit of the affected part of the body, can improve one’s relationship with the body generally. I tried this the last time I was in serious pain and it worked. Not only on that occasion but I have not had serious pain since. Remember that God is said to have created the world in order to know Himself, so the world being the manifestation of Himself, the more of a mess that the world is in, the more likely it is that He will get to know it.

Even our view of death need not be so negative. For the Eskimo, when one falls ill, one takes on a new name, a new although diseased personality. To get over a disease, one must literally “get over” it by transcending it, that is, by dying. The only hope for cure lies in the death of the ill personality. Health requires death. Perhaps that is what Socrates meant with his last obscure words about owing a sacrificial cock to Asclepius. Once the cocky pride of life that crows hopefully at the dawn of day is sacrificed, the need for tomorrow is sacrificed along with it; Death then is the cure and the salvation and not just the last, worst stage of a disease. That disease which the experience of death cures is the rage to live.

It may be considered strange that our society considers death the worst punishment our criminal justice system can inflict on evil men, even though it is a fate met daily by thousands of innocents. Furthermore, according to the Christian doctrine of Original Sin, our greatest offense is that we were ever born since such an offense is inevitably punished by death! But our fear may be preventing us from seeing that death may have a positive side. Death is really a means of abstracting the life principle from the form or body it assumed in the world. Our scientific consciousness has focused attention wholly on the form which life takes in biological evolution, on the organisms in which life manifests. We seek the explanation of life in the physical elements, and the evolution of life in the transformation of forms. It occurs to few of us that the outer form merely serves the inner life and consciousness, and that these are the motivating factors in evolution. We know from psychosomatic medicine that the physical organism reacts to the inner emotions and mental life of the human being, and that this is responsible for up to 90% of all illness. We also know that the body and consciousness can separate themselves both in life and in death. Sadly, because we identify life and consciousness with our physical bodies and the material world, we tend to think of bodily death as the terminal point of our existence. A religious belief in an afterlife softens the fear of death for many, but few. even among the religious, know death of the body as anything but the end of life, as complete annihilation.

In death, the indwelling life and consciousness is in the process of withdrawing from the form in which they have until then been manifest; this identification with form-life begins to break up, consciousness knows itself as still alive and sees the disintegrated form as a thing apart from itself. Many have experienced the beginnings of this in near-death experiences. The bodily form begins to be seen as a limitation from which, in becoming free of it, the subjective consciousness is liberated for wider experience. This is a characteristic found in dreams frequently among older people. Here dying is experienced as a liberation and widening of the horizon. In fact, many who survive a near-death experience resent returning and feel it as a return to confinement — as Carl Jung put it after he recovered from a heart attack: “Now I must return to the ‘box system’ again.” This idea is expressed by Dion Fortune:

Life, having evolved beyond the capacity of lowly forms to give it expression, builds itself higher forms.The fossilized remains of the abandoned lower forms are found among the debris of life. They have undergone death; their race is extinct; they are no more; but the life has achieved rebirth into a higher type of vehicle. it is only by the abandonment of the simpler form that life can enter the more complex, though the consciousness that is on the plane of the simpler form sees therein a tragedy because it cannot conceive the higher life and it sees its own passing prefigured; but the consciousness which is of the higher life sees the birth of a new manifestation and rejoices, for it sees the fuller expression of its potentialities.

Death comes in many guises. As T.S.Eliot wrote, “Death has a hundred hands and walks by a thousand ways.” It may come not only as a physical death, but also as a paralyzing fear, as a sense of utter rejection through the loss of love, as a loss of values resulting in a sense of mean-inglessness, as the threat of nonbeing leading to self-loss, as spiritual darkness or the death of God, etc. What all of these deaths have in common is their effect on the psycho-spiritual con-sciousness of the human victim — on the way that one experiences loss. Death is actually thought of as the ultimate enemy. This was apparently the meaning of this dream:

I am looking through a kind of scaffolding so I can not at first see their faces — men of all ages dressed in ragged overcoats and jackets waiting in line. They had been forced to stand there so long that some of them had urinated on themselves. The line was slowly moving forward toward the scaffolding which was part of a chute or steps down to a sheer drop which I could not see. I only saw the top, but I knew they would drop to their death. I twisted about so I could see the face of the one about to step off and saw that he was a young man whose face was twisted in grief, although he was trying to be as stoic as the others. His thick wavy hair had one hand placed on it in compassion, the hand of the man next in line. As I began to wake, I asked, “Why am I being shown this?”

I now think I can answer that question. These are all people who fear the unknown, which is always associated with death. The people were clad in poor clothing, indicating that this life has not provided them with what they assumed they needed. They could not see beyond the stepping-off point so they feared that which was unknown. Compassion was the only comfort, but that was inadequate. I did not understand this, so I asked the question which was apparently answered in a later dream which had a completely different view of death.

I was waiting in line holding what seemed to be a wadded-up sheet bound in a light-weight kind of chain. The others in line carried the same, and at the front of the line was a teller window with a woman behind it collecting these packets. When I got to the window, I handed the packet to the woman and asked if I were to get a receipt. She replied, “No, but if you ever need it just come back and I’ll give you your packet.” I then stepped outside and found myself in an open field with a cliff on the left dropping about 60 feet down to a large body of water with a narrow rocky beach and a group of people standing there seeming to be waiting. I thought I’d like to go down to see if there was anyone I knew and so stepped off the edge, with only a momentary concern about whether this was the right thing to do, but soon found myself drifting down and landed on the beach. No one was speaking to anyone or relating in any way, but seemed to be waiting. I decided to leave and explore this new world and so took off in flight, but noticed  a young man was accompanying me, and so I said, “Oh, you can fly too?” He answered, “Yes. Everyone can. They just don’t know it yet.”      

They did not expect that death could liberate them. This was apparently another dream about death. I disposed of all earthly connections, which I might need again some time and could then receive back, The dream might be telling me what to expect. The people on the beach were experiencing the ancient myth of standing at the shore of the River Styx waiting for Charon to take them to the other side. We experience our own myth throughout our many lives which can be understood as metaphors if we wish to see them that way.

That death can also be a welcome friend and the companion of spiritual growth needs to be better understood. Then the death that leads to transformation can be embraced in an attitude of confidence. No longer will it be seen as a dead end, but as an end to death as we have always thought of it.  We know that death is infinitely generous, never omitting anyone from its ultimate embrace. Can’t we show it some gratitude? After all, it is the Great Transformer. There are times when we get stuck in a rut, life seeming to go nowhere. And a rut. after all, is simply a grave with the ends knocked out. The flow of life has ceased. Is this not death? Or is death itself simply Nature’s way of telling us to slow down?

Thomas Moore in “Care of the Soul” raises a point which Leonardo da Vinci noted:

Leonardo da Vinci asks an interesting question in one of his notebooks:

“Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?” One answer is that the eye of the soul perceives the eternal realities so important to the heart. In waking life, most of us see only with our physical eyes, even though we could, with some effort of imagination, glimpse fragments of eternity in the most ordinary passing events. Dream teaches us to look with that other eye, the eye that in waking life belongs to the artist, to each of us as artist.”

The idea that we are captive in the prison house of matter is of ancient origin, that consciousness is blinded by the material world. I experienced this myself when in a shamanic experience, Demeter reconstituted my body with light which did not blind me until my body was restored, at which point I had to close my eyes or squint it was so bright. I thus realized that our senses are not so much to permit perception of reality but to limit it. It is our birth, not death, that brings about our limitations. When we are born we forget our spiritual origins. This is an ancient idea. In Greek myth one was said to have drunk before birth from the spring of Lethe (Forgetfulness), thus forgetting one’s origin. When we are bound by things of the material world, something of our higher nature surely dies; we then become lost in a world of matter, no longer realizing that matter is but a metaphor of what is real. From that point on, our entire bodily life is made up of a series of initiations, mostly unconscious, intended to bring us into consciousness of this material aspect of life. This is essential for our understanding of this world and our learning of its nature. As the saying goes, “God created the world so He could know Himself.” We may share that aspect of divinity and are here for the same reason. But the spirit must not be completely forgotten, and perhaps that is the origin of the term ‘midlife crisis.’ We must again come to the realization that our body and its immediate physical environment can no longer be the sole basis of our reality. We begin to search for meaning elsewhere. This latter part of life is the return. Remember, the early birds may get the worm, but its the second mouse who gets the cheese.

I may have told you before of a dream a woman had which supports this idea that the spirit derives its energy to operate within this world of time and space from the body which it needs to bring it into manifestation. It is actually the most moving dream I have ever come across. It was dreamt by a woman who lives in a rural town in north-central Italy which had existed since ancient Etruscan times, and still had a ruined temple dating from about 2500 years ago. This woman felt a strong connection with her Etruscan ancestors which probably helped to bring about this dream.

She was standing outside her house when she saw a boy walking toward her who was dressed in the ancient style. He appeared to be completely lost and was weeping. She felt sorry for him and wanted to help him. She took him by the hand and led him toward the temple, assuming that that was where he wanted to go. They walked to the temple hand in hand, and when hey reached it she could see that it was not in ruins, but appeared as it must have 2500 years ago, At the bottom of the steps leading into the temple, he released his hand and he went up the steps and entered the building. She then noticed that he had left his hand in hers. She was shocked by this and awoke.

After awakening the next day she knew she had to go to the temple. She went there and saw it again in ruins, and stopped at the foot of the steps where the boy had left her. She noticed that she was stepping on something protruding from the ground, reached down and dug it out. It was a sculpted hand.

Naturally, we can look at this dream only from an archetypal standpoint since we do not know the personal life of this woman. But we can look at it as a myth. The boy could be viewed as an ancestral spirit who had perhaps unwittingly stepped out of his time and, although still in his home space, he is lost in time. He therefore goes to the one person who would understand his needs, and she leads him to the place of the spirit where he needs to go. In doing so, she briefly enters his time and sees the temple as it had been. He leaves her the only part of him that was bodily, the hand which she had been holding, perhaps as a gift. This would seem to indicate that she was being told that the body is only needed in time and space, that being in time and space without a body, as he had been (except for the hand which he needed to relate to her) wounds the spirit since the spirit needs the energy provided by the body, which may be why he was weeping, and so the spirit must leave space-time if it wishes to be whole. To remain in space-time would require that he, as a spirit,  obtain a body in order to provide the necessary energy.

In the 15th century, Ficino wrote that spirit and body, religion and world, spirituality and materialism can all be trapped in a polarizing split: the more compulsively materialist we are, the more neurotic our spirituality will be, and vice versa. His recommendation for healing such a split is to establish soul in the middle, between spirit and body, as a way to prevent the two from becoming extreme caricatures of themselves. The cure for materialism, then, would be to find concrete ways of getting soul back into our spiritual practices, our intellectual life, and our emotional and physical engagements with the world.      

In the broadest sense, spirituality is an attempt to approach or attend to the invisible factors in life and to transcend the personal, concrete, finite particulars of this world. Religion stretches its gaze beyond this life to the time of creation, what Mircea Eliade called in illo temporethat other time outside our own reckoning, the time of myth, as you found in the dream you just heard. It also concerns itself with afterlife and with the highest values in this life. This spiritual point of view is necessary for the soul, providing the sense of meaning it needs. Spirit, according to the Platonic philosophers, lifts us out of the confines of the human dimension, and in doing so nourishes the soul.   

Ancient Religion and Christianity

Posted November 16, 2013 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized

O virgin Mother, daughter of thy Son.  (Dante, Paradiso)        

Many people today have rejected the symbols of Christianity along with the religion itself because they no longer find inspiration there. This is understandable, although such people are depriving themselves of a rich heritage of symbolism. The Christian Church took over much of the symbolic heritage of the ancient world and degraded it by turning these symbols into signs denoting historical events. To take the ancient and rich symbol of the cross, for example, and make it refer simply to a place to hang their dying savior on destroys centuries of accrued wealth of symbolism. As Plato had said centuries earlier,

 The Creator stretched the soul of the world onto the body of the world in the form of a cross. The duty of mankind is the release of that crucified soul.

Byz. Cross-cropped

If the cross is simply the place to hang the dying Christ, what meaning would Plato’s statement have? Hence, to reject the symbols which the Church has degraded is, as you see, a rather foolish act. By undoing today what the Church has been doing for centuries, we are being heretical and even diabolical in the eyes of Christian fundamentalists. We are here relativizing the Scriptures and denying the uniqueness of the Christian message. Jung put it rather forcefully:

 The insistence on the uniqueness of Christianity, which doesn’t even allow it a mythological status conditioned by history, renders the gospel unreal; all possible points of contact with human understanding are abolished, and it is made thoroughly implausible and unworthy of belief, and empties the churches. It is very convenient because then the clergyman doesn’t have to bother about whether the congregation understand the gospel or not but can comfortably go on preaching to them as before. Educated people would be much more readily convinced of the meaning of the gospel if it were shown them that the myth was always there to a greater or lesser degree, and moreover is actually present in archetypal form in every individual. Then people would understand where, in spite of its having been artificially screened off by the theologians, the gospel really touches them. Without this link the Jesus legend remains a mere wonder story, and is understood as little more than a fairy tale that merely serves to entertain. 

A religious tradition severed from its archetypal roots, its mythologic grounding, becomes a set of signs or rituals without depth. Rather than rest everything on the uniqueness of a religion, one might better argue for the ways in which it taps the same mythic sources that undergird every other religion. This is the best antidote to bigotry.

The beginnings of Christianity are not to be found in the life and teachings of a single founder such as a historical Christ. But everything impossible as history is not only possible as myth, but can be the creative cause of the history! Only the mythical origins can explain the birth of the child that was begotten without the father; the virginity of the mother being the natural status of the most ancient genetrix in mythology, who was far earlier than God the father. The virgin mother is nothing if not divine, and being a divinity she cannot become humanly historical. The most ancient, gold-encrusted Byzantine pictures of the virgin and child represent the mother as Isis, not a human Mary. Only the mythical origins can explain why there are two Marys, both of whom are described as being the mother of Jesus. Only the mythical origins can explain why Jesus was rebegotten as the anointed son at 30 years of age, the time of full adulthood according to Egyptian reckoning. Only the mythical origins can explain why there is no history furnished from the time when the child was about 12 years of age to that of adulthood of 30 years. Only the mythical origins can show how the Word, as Manifester, could be made flesh. The dogmas of the incarnation, baptismal regeneration, transfiguration, transubstantiation, resurrection, and ascension were all Egyptian mysteries. These included the mystery of the ever-virgin mother as well as the mystery of a boy of 12 transforming suddenly into an adult of 30 and then becoming one with the father, just as it had been earlier in the mysteries of totemism.

There was the mystery in which the dead body of Osiris is transubstantiated into the living Horus by descent of the holy spirit; the mystery of a divine being in three persons, one of whom takes flesh on earth as the human Horus, to become a mummy as Osiris in Amenta, and to rise up from the dead as spirit as Ra in heaven. Amenta corresponds to the Christian Purgatory, and was the source for the Christian doctrine of Purgatory. All of these, and other miracles of the Christian religion, were already part of the Egyptian mysteries. But the Egyptians did not pervert the meaning by literalizing them since there was no fall of man to deal with, so there was no need for a redeemer. Horus was the justifier of the righteous, not of the wicked. He did not come to save sinners from taking the trouble to save themselves. He was an exemplar, a model of divine sonship — but his followers must conform to his example — and do in life as he had done — before they could claim any fellowship with him in death.  Read the rest of this post »


Posted September 15, 2013 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is really a large matter. It’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” (Mark Twain)

A few years back on TV I saw a group of rabbinical students sitting around a table in a room reading from Hebrew holy scripture, aloud. Each seemed to be reading a different passage and so the sound of their reading was an incomprehensible sound between a mumble and a roar. I did not understand what the meaning behind this exercise was, but now I believe I know. I discovered it while reading David Abram’s “The Spell of the Sensuous”, aided by my having briefly studied that language in graduate school. It seems that Hebrew has a single word for both ‘spirit’ and ‘wind’ — the word ‘ruach’. Thus spirit and wind are very closely related in their religion. The very first sentence in the Hebrew Bible, the “Torah”, states:

When God began to create heaven and earth — the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind (ruach) from God sweeping over the water. . .

At the very beginning of creation, before even the existence of the earth or the sky, God is present as a wind moving over the waters. This idea exists also among the Navajos, and can be found among other primitive groups as well. And breath. as we learn from the next section of Genesis, is the closest link we have to the divine. For after God forms an earthling (adam) from the dust of the earth (adamah), He blows the breath of life into the earthling’s nostrils and the human being awakens. The Hebrew term for breath of life is not ‘ruach’ but ‘neshamah’, which denotes both breath and the soul, the more personal, individual aspect of wind, the breath. In this sense, it represents conscious awareness. As we find in the Emerald  Tablet and also in Meister Eckhardt, “Words derive their power from the Original Word.” Read the rest of this post »

Myth, Religion and Spirituality

Posted July 22, 2013 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized

Parmenides wrote: If you think it, it is.

No one has ever added to the sum total of human knowledge by denying the existence of anything. In order to conceive of something, it must already exist in the collective unconscious outside of time and space. As soon as someone conceive of it, it enters time. If it is then invented, it enters space. Therefore, everything conceivable exists at least as a possibility. However, nothing is certain. There is nothing whose existence can be accepted except as a hypothesis. Everything depends on point of view. Even that we are here. It may be that we are simply being dreamed, As a Bushman once said, “There is a dream dreaming us.”

In the mysteries, initiation was kept secret because no uninitiated person could believe what the initiate had experienced, or even how the initiate was now seeing the world he/she was presently inhabiting. The initiate, however, has learned this new way of seeing; namely, that one must accept all beliefs as hypothesis. As Jung pointed out in The Red Book, to hold beliefs as fact creates wars, magic, and religion, all of which, he said, were the same. Since all beliefs are hypothetical, one can see the world through the lens of each belief as it is presented. For example, in polytheism there are as many lenses as there are gods , and when one deals with a particular god, one sees the worlds through the eyes of that god. That is why polytheists do not proselytize. When they hear of another  god, they merely see that here is a different way of looking at the world. They can then accept that all things are possible, but nothing is certain. They are then free to choose among a multiplicity of beliefs. However, in a single-lensed monotheistic society, such a person may be burned at the stake, so one is better off not exposing the secrets of the Mysteries.

We are living in an era of unparalleled impoverishment and depreciation of the human soul. The collapse of old religious forms has been followed by a general demoralization of the dominant Western culture. The now-prevailing secular religions of humanism and rationalism prove inadequate because they fail to engage the transformative layer of our psyches, nor can they even provide explanations for occasional phenomena perceived by our senses. People are beginning to bump up against the limits of materialism and rationalism, realizing that these fail to offer a purpose in life. Man does not live by making a bundle alone. Although a few turn to institutional religion for orientation, many find that road barred to them by their reason and their skepticism. There must be a marriage between reason and faith, science and religion. The closest approximation we have to this today is Jung’s school of psychology, which affirms the redemptive power of consciousness. For this reason, we shall deal here with those elements from the past, many of which had been forgotten, and which, having been returned to consciousness by Jung and others may seem to us useful in our search for both consciousness and belief. We shall start with a quotation from Plato’s Republic, Book X, which describes the function of the Fates.     Read the rest of this post »


Posted March 5, 2013 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized

ImageSacrifice is essential for life.  We see it all around us all the time. The problem lies not in its existence, but in the fact that we have forgotten the original meaning of the word and that means that we don’t know how to deal with it

As you most likely know, the word ‘sacrifice’ comes from the Latin meaning ‘to make sacred’. Today we go through many sacrifices without thinking there is anything sacred about them. And perhaps there isn’t, but when you stop to think about it, they often turn out to be a significant part of your individuation process, what we call maturation. But right now I am thinking about it from a Christian point of view which I think you will see is not significantly different from the psychological except that the religious standpoint adds a minor factor called immortality, at least of a sort, what we might call ‘survival.’ Let me explain.   

Going back to earliest times we have the Egyptian myth of Osiris, his wife Isis, their sons Horus and Seth. It seems that in the earliest times, this myth did not contain the idea of sacrifice because  Egyptian myth was not concerned with it since they were mostly concerned with the preservation of life by blending it with death which under proper conditions could be also a continuation of life. Later the idea of sacrifice came into their religious outlook which soon spread into the surrounding cultures and ultimately became an important aspect of Christianity. You can see its beginnings in the myth of Osiris being cut into pieces with Isis seeking him throughout the Egyptian area.  In our secular age we do not see this so much as sacrifice, but more as murder, since we no longer believe in sacrifice as a spiritual act. This is similar to the myth of Demeter and Persephone. Plants must be destroyed by those who will guarantee their rebirth (the farmer) in order to preserve both our life and theirs.  In sacrifice we must destroy life in order to preserve it. In hunting societies, animals are said to give up their life in return for our guaranteeing their rebirth, as among the Ainu.

There is only one absolute requirement: it must be done in full consciousness. Osiris must have known (after all, he was a god) that his body was about to be destroyed. Persephone must have known (after all she was a goddess) that eating the pomegranate seed would mean that she would have to return — after all, she was a maturing young lady who didn’t want to remain for all eternity under her mother’s wing, and being queen of Hades can’t be all bad. And Abraham now was certain that he could accomplish his goal by substituting the death of an animal for his son, and he might even have assumed that this would guarantee the rebirth of the animal just as he had intended the same for his son. Conscious sacrifice guarantees results; unconscious sacrifice guarantees only the suffering that may lead to learning the lessons needed to acquire the needed consciousness. This is what lies behind one of the most important myths that entered Christianity in its early centuries, although in some Christian areas, mostly the Protestant, it has been largely forgotten. It is the myth behind Twelfth Night, or Epiphany, which falls on January 6.

In Orthodox areas, and many Roman Catholic countries such as Mexico, gifts are not given at Christmas but on Twelfth Night since that is when the gifts were given to the Christ child. One may, after all, have a Shower for a mother on the birth of a child, but one would be much more likely to wait a while before giving gifts to the child. With that in mind, 12th night would make more sense for giving gifts to children in our secular world. There is a small coterie of apparent believers in this myth that can be seen when Christmas lights are turned off in January. Secularists turn theirs off about January 2, believers turn theirs off after January 6. After all, if you want the gifts of the Wise Men, you must keep that star lit until they can reach you with those gifts, and that’s Twelfth Night. But just what were those gifts? Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Wise Men are supposed to have been Magi, Persian Zoroastrian fire worshipers to whom these articles had other meanings, namely they wanted not to worship the Christ, but to find out what this bright star was signifying, and if it was a child, what did this mean? Was he a god (frankincense), a king (gold) or a physician (myrrh)? Which gift would he accept? He accepted all of them. So they assumed he was all three. Their religion was at that time primarily a medical religion for healing the body. But when St. Matthew wrote his gospel, he had other things in mind. To him it meant what it has come to mean in the Catholic and Orthodox churches ever since. It represents sacrifice, one of the most important concepts of Christianity. Christ was being given three gifts which he would have to sacrifice at considerable cost during his lifetime on earth in order to achieve his goals on earth — something that is also true for every believing Christian. During one’s time on earth, one must consciously sacrifice these three things: Wealth (gold) — this is what the story of the widow’s mite means. This is the original meaning of Collection as a part of church services.  Remember, it is voluntary, thus to be done in full consciousness. That is what Christ meant when he spoke of the rich man passing through the Needle’s Eye. Christ had to give that up as far as we can tell when he reached age 30, for that is the age at which the Gospels begin. From that point on, he was dependent on others.  Secondly: Power, kingship (frankincense). He claimed he was king but not of this world, but still for that reason he was crucified, even though the Roman power was not willing to indict him. The Jews brought his death about because King Herod feared rebellion. This enabled him to sacrifice the power of kingship in order to attain the sacrifice of his body necessary to achieve immortality, but it was not an easy sacrifice for him especially since it had to be done consciously. Third: Since myrrh is used primarily for incense in the West (it was a medicinal plant for the Persians) Christianity looks upon it as spirit in the sense of atmosphere. When in Church with incense in the atmosphere one can understand why we sometimes use the word atmosphere to mean spirit. The atmosphere of a particular place is actually the spirit of  a place. So incense symbolizes the body being an actual part of the spirit, surrounded and imbued by it. Myrrh is an incense which has little about it that is sweet, but it is pungent. This is spirit. This oneness with spirit has to be sacrificed at some point in our life — as  Meister Eckhardt wrote: There is nothing more sorrowful than the leaving of god for God. And Eckhardt is no polytheist. This Christ found at his most dreaded moment, when he cried out: “Oh God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This was the final sacrifice made for him by his god, who by abandoning him, left him open for his return as spirit, and his everlasting life. By the term ‘his god’, I do not mean that his god was not God, but remember that even Satan helped in the enabling process with the three temptations. ‘His god’ was the spirit of life and love who enables us all, if we wish to make the necessary sacrifice.

So sacrifice is a Christian idea which has been around for about 3000 years, and is common to both hunting and planting societies. It states that death need not be permanent, but can not be avoided without consciousness. It is true that these sacrifices are made by everyone at death, but unless they are made consciously, they are not ‘made sacred.’

ImageWe have not only forgotten why man’s life should be sacrificial, but we have forgotten how sacrificial it actually is. Indeed, life in matter is itself a sacrifice for soul. Separation is itself a sacrifice of oneness. It is a training in the opposites. We live a separate life in order to know better the meaning of a spiritual life. It is learning by experiencing the opposites. So in attaining anything on this earth we must sacrifice something else, its opposite. To become something we must give up hope of becoming something else. To attain a body, we must sacrifice spirit. If we want both, say, a spiritual body, we should have to give up one or the other. This is impossible, at least without divine intervention. So it seems that the Mysteries are becoming individual instead of collective. The Church has always radically opposed the Mysteries, insisting that Christianity is not a Mystery religion as the Gnostics would have it, but it is now becoming a Mystery religion simply because it can no longer maintain the historicity of its doctrine. St. Malachy may have been right after all; the next pope may be the last. The Christ may continue as Paraclete or daimon, also the Virgin, but both must accept the entire gamut of all points of view. Christ must no longer turn his back on his brother as he did at the three Temptations. As you can see, this religion is not one of merely sweetness and light. Consciousness, as Prometheus knew, is fire, and we must suffer as he did for stealing that fire from the gods. Consciousness is the most cherished dream of the soul — the day is the dream of the night. As the Bushman said, “There is a dream dreaming us.”

Linking the Conscious with the Unconscious Mind

Posted August 7, 2012 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized


The little girl had a dream that she was having a conversation with her grandmother. In it she told her grandmother, “Grandmama, I can make myself disappear.” Her grandmother replied, “Nonsense, child, no one can do that!” This reply upset the child so she woke up. After thinking about it for a while, she fell asleep again and, as sometimes happens, she re-entered the same dream. Her grandmother stared at her in shock and said. “Lord, child, how did you do that?”

For years, I thought of this as an amusing tale, which it is, but it is actually much more. Long before I ran across it, I had asked Hermes in an active imagination why it is that when one asks for something, one may or may not get it, and if one does, it is frequently in the form of a disaster. He replied in the form which is most common with him; that is, with a metaphor. The answer did have a literal meaning; that was that I should carefully explain to him why I wanted it, if it was necessary for me in my life, and give him any details necessary, because, he said, he can not know my life except through what I describe to him in words,  and also through my dreams. Read the rest of this post »

Healing Then and Now

Posted October 29, 2011 by jackmeier
Categories: Uncategorized

A neurosis is suffering that has not yet found its meaning.

A neurosis is an offended god.

These are both statements that Jung made at different times, and they both mean the same thing. It all depends on your point of view. I hope to show today that there are many ways to heal, all of which work, but none works unfailingly. Whether they work or not, I suspect it again depends on your point of view That people struggle so hard to show that their methods are superior to others, past and present, tells us more about the people than it does about their methods. However, I shall not bore you with statistics. Although statistics never lie, statisticians often do. We tend to use statistics as drunks use lampposts, more for support than illumination. In determining if a certain method works better than another, we must depend on experience; indeed, we cannot know anything without experience, nor can we even be certain of the validity of what we deduce from our experiences, let alone what others have deduced from theirs. Therefore I have deduced from this that nothing is certain; but what guards me from a lifetime of pessimism is the other side of the coin. Experience is not limited to what can be experienced in ordinary states of consciousness at least as defined by Reason. So I have concluded that everything is possible, even though nothing is certain. As Plato said, all knowledge is remembering, so forgotten knowledge can be dredged out of the sea of the collective unconscious through relating what is known to various experiences, even such irrational phenomena as dreams and visions. Non-rational methods have throughout the ages been successfully used in healing.

The problem many of us have is that if non-rational methods work, why don’t they always work? But this is also true with scientific methods. Here again, it may result from the point of view of the healer and also the patient. My problem was at least partially explained by a story of a man who was a firm believer in God, had always led a good life, and so he believed that God would save his life when a massive flood enveloped his home. He had to flee to the roof when his house became flooded and clung to the chimney as a rescue craft came to carry him to safety. He refused to accept the offer on the basis of his certainty that God would preserve him as a reward for his faith and good works. Soon the water was up to his neck when a second boat came by. Still he refused. At the point when it was up to his chin a helicopter came his way offering to carry him to safety. Still he refused and so he drowned. Upon his arrival at the Pearly Gates, he was shown to the Divine Presence and immediately began complaining to God that he certainly did not deserve to be abandoned after a lifetime of faith and service. God was sympathetic and said that He also was surprised to see the man there since He had sent him two boats and a helicopter. This at least partially solved my problem. We cannot depend on one solution only. Healing methods are not opposite but supplementary. Despite the rivalry among various types of medicine; spiritual and material, holistic and allopathic, this opposition is, like all opposites, illusory. Indeed, healing can occur only when the opposition between matter and spirit is transcended. This sounds terribly New Age, but I hope to show you that this has been the accepted method in practicing medicine throughout the world at all times until the gradual growth and domination of allopathic medicine in the West. We shall look at a few of these earlier methods, which have survived, and some recently revived, into the present.

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