METAPHOR as WISDOM

Posted January 25, 2016 by jackmeier
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Information is factual — this is this and that is that.  Knowledge is categorical — this is this but not that. Wisdom is metaphorical — this is this and also that.

We live in the Information Age. Via the internet and many other means we can garner as many facts as we need for whatever purpose we decide. We might also call this the age of scientific knowledge. Science itself has many categories or sciences, and each science has many subcategories, all of which make knowledge easier to obtain and retain, However, metaphor has been pushed aside as being ‘inaccurate’ and ‘misleading’. It’s fine for poetry but ours has become a prosaic age. Once Joseph Campbell was interviewed on the radio by someone unfamiliar with the term ,so Joseph tried to explain its meaning. To say “he runs like a deer” is a simile, which the interviewer accepted as meaningful, but to say “he is a deer” the interviewer said would be meaningless and a lie. Or one could say it was a myth, today often used as a synonym for ‘a lie.’  So myths and metaphors are now considered by many as equivalent to lies. How then can one refer to them as ‘wisdom’?  As Jung wrote:

Wisdom is neither a question of belief nor of knowledge, but of the agreement of our thinking with the primordial images of the unconscious.

My first lesson in the language of the unconscious came from a message from Poseidon while traveling with my friend David in Europe by auto. I was at that time learning how to deal with Hermes through active imagination when he told me one night that he had a message from Poseidon, which I assumed was from the depths of the unconscious since in Jungian terms that is what Poseidon represented. It was: “You must drive on the mainland, but among the islands it doesn’t matter.” I assumed it was meant literally, and therefore could not obey since that meant that I would have to insist on driving the whole time until we reached the Balearic Islands which we were not intending to visit for a couple of weeks, and David would think I was crazy since he had not yet heard of my dealings with Hermes. So we continued to share driving and shortly after we both got very ill, I in France and he in Spain. We decided to cut this trip short and go to the islands as soon as he got well. Until recently, I assume we were punished for my disobeying an instruction, but now I have come to the conclusion that the spirit does not punish, (and why punish David for something he wasn’t even aware of?) but I had simply failed to get the point (and what better way could the so-called unconscious have figured out a way to do it?); that is, that the unconscious communicates primarily through metaphor, and Hermes wanted me to learn his language, a fact which he explained later, in a most informative way. Read the rest of this post »

Myth and Its Role Today

Posted January 11, 2016 by jackmeier
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MYTH and its ROLE TODAY – How by viewing events in your life as a series of metaphors you may then see your life as myth.

How many things are lost through disbelief! 

We are starting today with a couple of statements which you might keep in mind during this session. One is what you just heard from Heraclitus and here is another from Parmenides:

If you can  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 conceives of it, it enters time. If it is then created or 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.” I trust that you will be able to accept that as a hypothesis by the end of this session.

Initiation is not a ceremony; it is the beginning of a new way of using the mind. . . To believe is to see.

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, 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. Read the rest of this post »

BODY, SOUL, SPIRIT: An Imperfect Connection

Posted October 12, 2015 by jackmeier
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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? Read the rest of this post »

Ancient Religion and Christianity

Posted November 16, 2013 by jackmeier
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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. Read the rest of this post »

LANGUAGE

Posted September 15, 2013 by jackmeier
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“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
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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.
Read the rest of this post »

Sacrifice

Posted March 5, 2013 by jackmeier
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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. Read the rest of this post »

Linking the Conscious with the Unconscious Mind

Posted August 7, 2012 by jackmeier
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Image

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
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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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Wise Sayings from Many Sources

Posted September 14, 2010 by jackmeier
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Every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

It matters little what you believe so long as you don’t altogether believe it.

Religion is a department of politics.

The purpose of morals is to permit people to inflict suffering with impunity.

Violence is the last resort of the incompetent. (Isaac Asimov)

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. (Voltaire)

The trouble with politicians is that the 90% who are corrupt give the rest a bad name.

Do not fear suffering; only fear that you will not learn from it.

The IQ of a mob is equivalent to the IQ of the most intelligent person in the mob divided by the number of people in the mob.

The exploited create the exploiter just as the worshippers create the object of worship. (Krishnamurti)

Inscription on a gravestone in Cumbria:  The wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shape of things, their color, lights and shades; these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts.

The path of the soul after death is the same as the path of the soul in dreams. (Lakota saying)

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