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Life Arts    H4'ed 2/7/19

9th installment of Gary Lindorff's memoir, "Finding Myself in Time"

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Cultura come fatto sociale
Cultura come fatto sociale
(Image by (From Wikimedia) William Girometti  (1924–1998)    / Own work, Author: See Source)
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(This installment has one footnote)


What a tragic irony that our eyes begin to open, to see what we need to see, right when it is verging on too late to matter. Seeing what we are doing to the rainforest and to our own soul connection as a species, doesn't save the rainforest and it doesn't save our soul.

One of the times in my life when I felt most powerful was when I was protesting the draft and proclaiming my pacifism and my refusal to fight or to wear a uniform. Our government was highly centralized (or at least the constitutional branches of government were centralized!), so when I was registering as a conscientious objector at my draft board in (then) redneck [1] Rockville, CT, I felt like my protest was getting through to the powers that be in Washington, that Gary Lindorff wasn't taking their sh*t. Tiny Rockville was connected to the grid of what we referred to back then as the military-industrial complex.

The United States has been fighting lots of dirty wars since Vietnam but that one was probably the worst in terms of war crimes and pursuing immoral goals and policies that resulted in the devastation of a sovereign place, a culture and an environment. (We were very close to dropping an atom bomb on North Vietnam, America's phantom calling card.)

I do not feel powerful now as far as being able to affect the direction or course of world events. Being a white educated, middleclass man is like finding myself in a cosmic changing room surrounded by ruthless mirrors. (I just had a passport picture taken at CVS [Remove your glasses. Don't smile.] and I was appalled by what the camera was showing me; a man I barely recognized! Only the clothes were right.) I harbor a lot of guilt associated with my privilege because there were times when it might have been possible to make a difference. The trouble is, we are ill-prepared to take advantage of those times, but, in fact there were lots of these watershed moments during my lifetime. The Chernobyl meltdown, the shooting of those 21 students at Sandy Hook, the courageous Native American gathering at Standing Rock, to defend their ancestral land and water from the Black Snake, the disgraceful way New Orleans was neglected or poorly served by the Bush administration in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the even more shocking lack of compassion of the Trump administration for traumatized Puerto Ricans when hurricane Maria decimated their island. (Three thousand Puerto Ricans, all of them US citizens, died.) These tragedies are opportunities in disguise, soft places in our collective saga of a run-away red, white and blue train, that page-turner called our collective fate.

Those of us who allow ourselves to dream on a nightly basis can easily see how we surrender our power on the most personal level. There are soft places in dreams or pivotal points when the dreamer is close to breaking through the "fourth wall", when some initiative on the part of the dreamer would pay off. Becoming lucid in our dreaming is always an option, but lucidity, for most of us, is an art that is extremely difficult to appreciate, much less master. Some people have an aptitude for it. I am not one of those people, much to my regret, because lucid dreaming has the potential to slow down time, and it accelerates the process of psychic transformation.

Jung was right about a lot of things but one of his biggest worries was that the collective shadow of the human race had evolved to a point beyond assimilating, and yet he understood that shadow work is the prerequisite for any lasting change in the collective psyche or the collective soul. In my dream of the cosmic storm that is moving east across the suburbs of Baltimore, shredding Catonsville, I am witnessing something tremendous, a tremendous destructive energy that could only be comprehended for what it was from a safe distance. When I try to circle around, heading west, the direction associated with experience and wisdom, I come face to face with my gilded trophy tower, my time-capsule, my monumental repository of words. This trophy tower is my shadow, my nigredo. The shadow is not always repulsive or dark. Sometimes it is just something we don't want to look at, but we have to, because it is right in our way. And it isn't going away.

By not exercising the art of lucidity at the crucial moments, when change for better or worse is imminent, we are doing something much more unconscionable than forfeiting our opportunity to make change. We are short-changing our soul, because our soul is all about lucidity, in dreams and in life. (Or, the other way around -- in life as in dreams!) And the soul is a joiner. It loves joining movements, or creating movements that promote the interests of the collective soul. When we join a march, something interesting happens. Our energy spikes when we are moving along with people carrying similar signs but the best part is, we are surrounded by kindred individuals. A march is like a community on the move. Far from losing ourselves in a sea of humanity, we find ourselves; we become lucid. One litmus test for whether the soul or the ego is leading is to ask, how am I going to feel if no one recognizes my contribution to this movement? The soul is more interested in meaningful change; it doesn't look or hope for credit. Sometimes the purest feeling of contributing to a cause wells up from within, completely overwhelming the ego.

The soul (or psyche) knows us from inside out and it knows the limits of our ability to take in the unabridged truth, but that doesn't mean that it won't, at times, push those limits to the wall.

Less than a year before the outbreak of WW1, (in October, 1913) Jung was shaken by two almost identical visions, two weeks apart, of a tide of blood (bearing the ruins of civilization) rising on the Alps, which, in response, grew taller! It was so horrific he never correlated the visions with actual political events or with the future. Then half a year later he had two dreams (a couple of months apart), of a cosmic freeze descending on the land, paralyzing all life except for a tree, which produced grapes that he fed to a crowd of people.

In the visions, the soul is apprising him of the rising probability of unprecedented catastrophe (which he misinterpreted as the sign of impending psychosis). The message of the visions is more dire than the dreams, but both the visions and the dreams offer a hint of hope. With the visions the soul is saying, It's too late to stop the flood but if you stay where you are, in the (Swiss) Alps, you will survive. The dreams are saying, Everything and everyone is going to go into shock and all feeling will be frozen for the unforeseeable future, but the tree of life will not die. It turns out that the killing frost is exactly what is required for the leaves to transform into grapes, which Jung will use to heal the people one by one. (War broke out two months after the second dream.)

Where are we right now? Do we have a soft place in our dreaming to facilitate meaningful change before it's too late? Are we missing an opportunity to conspire with our souls? Right now the government is behaving as if it is controlled from a distance by some giant brain. And we acquiesce, as if we had no choice but to conform to its will. In the Vietnam days this was not the case; there was a movement happening. A grid or a web was being spun by grandmother spider, safeguarding the integrity of the collective psyche or soul. One explanation for that is, young people were taking psychedelics. LSD, hashish, pot, magic mushroom, peyote were opening doors to new visionary possibilities, bypassing the ego, and even, at times, the shadow, triggering genuine religious experiences. Something in the human spirit was awakening and people were tapping into the healing spirit of love! And there were other kinds of awakenings going on. I'm not exaggerating. I was there.

The radical black movement was aligning with the peace movement, was friendly with the feminist movement, and the back-to-earth movement was represented. People were literally moving, pollinating each other, covered with the pollen of new archetypes! I'm homesick for those days of the great grassroots synergistic movements, all supported by the soul of youthful humanity.


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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of several nonfiction books, a collection of poetry, "Children to the Mountain" and a memoir, "Finding Myself in Time: Facing the Music" Over the last few years he has begun calling (more...)

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