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February 20, 2019

14th installment of Gary Lindorff's memoir, "Finding Myself in Time"

By Gary Lindorff

This is the 14th of bi-weekly installments of Lindorff's memoir, "Finding Myself in Time: Facing the Music", to be continued until the book is released in March.

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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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Note: There new 3 footnotes in this installment.

XXXI

What strikes me as most interesting about my dream of turning around on the dark road is how deceptively simple the act of stopping and turning around was. I found this quote in The Nature of Healing, in an essay by Eduardo Rauch: "We want to -- we need to -- believe that there is a more solid core to our being, a destiny more under our control, a quality of being that comes to us from some sacred and unknown territory which can guide us through the treacherous moral challenges of the human condition." I would like to change this to read more declaratively: "There isa more solid core to our being, a destiny more under our control. . ." That is what this dream is showing. It seems so simple, the act of turning, and in some ways it is, but the ramifications are cosmic! Is that not where we stand as a species? There is a tipping point for you! The tipping point is the choice to either continue on and on into darkness or turn around. And with the choice to turn around and rejoin life, you get help from the spirits. You need their help because otherwise you might just be returning to old habits but with the spirits as guides, that doesn't happen. You get the birth of a new day, but you also get another kind of darkness in the form of the tour of the neighborhood-from-hell, symbolizing the "treacherous moral challenges of the human spirit", a psychic shadow-neighborhood as American as apple pie, as much as we may not want to admit it. Choosing life (or to return to life) amounts to nothing less than forging a very subtle chain of nano-choices that keep life moving and us moving into life, which is grounded in an age-old agreement with the gods (of life and death) and the sun and the planet.

Big dreams are like epic stories in films and books (Star Wars, Tolkien's works, and Harry Potter for example), where there is always more to the story, if you are willing to go there. Big dreams have prequels and sequels. As with the Star Wars franchise, the psyche spins out a minor episode that explains how this larger event took place or why a certain character is the way he or she is, or why they are where they are when the block-buster event unfolds. But the franchise and the unconscious operate from different models of need-to-know. In the film model, the franchise is trying to please a loyal, older audience while creating a new audience for their brand. They are trying to create a buzz and keep the saga rolling. Dreams are like fragments of the epic-saga that is our lives within the much larger saga of the human condition. The connections are myriad, the backstories and tie-ins keep popping up, prequels and sequels, in seemingly random order. But they are anything but random! The biggest difference between movie-franchises and dreams is, weare the protagonists, and how we live our lives factors into the script. In other words, the dream I will have tonight has not been written, any more than what will happen today has been written. Maybe the archetypes that will show up in my dreams tonight have been determined, providing my day holds no surprises or sharp turns, but if something unforeseen and dramatic happens, that was nowhere on my psychic radar, all bets are off on what dreams will come.

I hope this helps explain how my dream of walking down the street through the market place, searching for Shirley, came before the dream of the lonely road. In other words, the main road, that I told the old man in the wagon was my destination, might easily have been the street I dreamed about a few days earlier. But, in the market-place dream, I hadn't turned around yet; I hadn't made that epic, lucid choice to return to the main road. (My choice in this dream is the opposite of Robert Frost's choosing to take the road less traveled.I am consciously leaving the road less traveled for the road more traveled, and I fully expect that choice to make "all the difference".)

Dreams often come around again to revisit certain archetypes or themes, places or people, not cyclically, but in spiral fashion; the way of individuation follows a spiral path. The main road is not a specific road, it is an archetype or an archetypal place. In the dream of searching for Shirley, I don't quite find her but, while I am looking for her, I find myself investigating a business in the market place that seems to be the haunt of a dark spirit. I instinctively back out for two reasons: one, I sense that I am in danger, and two, Shirley isn't there. In the prequel (turning back on the dark road) the spirits were letting me know that returning to life, and the middle-world, isn't going to be a piece of cake. There is a dark side to the main road (to mainstream life or the middle world) that will also show up in the market, and there is something I need to witness before I can continue my search for Shirley there. They want me to take in the dysfunction in the neighborhood, a dysfunction that goes beyond poverty, but invokes addiction and death, a malaise that has contaminated the land. So, if we aspire to be doctors and healers in the 21stcentury, we can't limit ourselves to taking the vital signs of a patient but we also have to check the vital signs of the land.

The street with the markets is where lots of people head when they go out into the middle world, if they have money, to buy, to sell, to mingle. In real life we assume that a market place is exactly what it appears to be, a concourse of shops and vendors where you can, with any luck, find whatever you're looking for, and expect to be tempted to buy things you were never looking for. But there are cultures in the world where a market is a place where potentially anything can be found. In my dream-world this street is thatkind of place -- a place of magical, ordinary and darkly non-ordinary possibilities. Here there are vendors who are the sort you might find in a Star Wars market on a far-flung world. But are things as they seem in the capitalistic market culture of our own ordinary world? Or is there an undercurrent of dark alchemy afoot that the merchants may be totally oblivious to? I mean, think of all the chemical-laced junk food that gets sold in deceptively innocent and attractive packages. Think of all the stuff made of vinyl and plastics that poison our bodies and environment, not only in their production but their disposal, all the products we buy that are essentially fancy refinements of petroleum and polymers. Most of our clothes are made from synthetic fibers that allow us to slip into second skins that serve very specialized functions, seamlessly integrating fashion with function, facilitating acclimation to the extreme and unpredictable weather we have created worldwide. Think of the cotton we seek out, to try to be more natural, that is imported from thousands of miles away, died and stitched together in some filthy back-street business in China or India where destitute people, many of them children, work for pennies. Think of the jewelry we wear that was power-hosed out of riverbeds in a rainforest or pit-mined, or the high-tech gadgets we keep upgrading that depend on the extraction of rare metals in Australia, Brazil or China. Think of the drugs, the pills and the cosmetics that we accumulate and periodically throw away to leach into our drinking water, thus poisoning ourselves. We blithely fill our shopping carts with stuff that is highly carcinogenic or tied to some unethical or blatantly toxic industry -- tainted, accursed. It shouldn't shock us if some of the vendors are in league with shadowy spirits who shrink from the light and ominously click like insects, waiting for hapless customers to wander in!

XXXII

Aside: Often, when I write, the path of my thought process wends, not just between my right and left brain but between my conscious and unconscious mind, meaning that I often find that I'm not sure what my subject is and I realize that my subject is a complex metaphor for something much more real than a mere thought, which is all mental. And this reminds me of what Nancy Adams says about metaphor, how metaphorical thinking is a "mental reframing of reality itself."(quoted by M. Fox in his "Hidden Spirituality of Men") But what is reality for the writer but that plane where "psyche and soma meet" (Carl Jung, CW, Vol.10), only I would add "world". With writing that is at all creative, something is being birthed from thought into the "real" world and the world offers it gifts of substance. In other words writing, for me, is neither an inner nor an outer process but closer to a psychoidal process.[1]

As I typed "vendors" (two paragraphs back), a news blurb flashed on the upper right corner of the computer screen: "Trump peddles new conspiracy theory". Our president is a sketchy, aggressive businessman, but this headline cuts to the chase: he is a dealer of illusions, a peddler of half-truths and outright lies. Let's consider the market on main street as the proverbial place where the worst and the best of humanity mingle and do business, selling, trading, buying stuff: weapons, drugs, slaves, ideologies, real estate, sushi, jeans, fashions, books, real news and fake. Forget about appearances! Think of how easily we give in to buying into false realities, how easily we support businesses that exploit the poor, exhaust the finite resources of the planet, how easily we sell our souls cheap to support our addictions, how readily we judge those who lack the means to live beyond their means.

Dreams strip away appearances and always cut to the chase. They show us what we need to see whenwe need to see something. We may not be ready but the dream is always ready to deal the truth. We, on the other hand, almost always choose to side with appearances which is how dreams pull us in, by creating plausible stories that are designed by the Self to maneuver us into learning something that has survival value. But we can speed up our learning process by treating the waking world as a dream, by getting better at looking through, or past, appearances into the backstory our life is spinning.

Dreams are made of psychic energy. When we, or our dream-self (or dream-ego) is in the dream world, we are also made of psychic energy. What dimension is that? In coming up with the working concept of dimensions, very reasonable people, scientists, mathematicians, were trying to deal with the problem of what happens to time and space in a relative universe, because, as science began to study micro-environments and outer space (the infinitesimal and the infinite) it became obvious that space and time behave differently under different conditions, and this could be proven mathematically. But the most interesting thing about relativity (that scientists avoid like a plague) is the question of where is consciousness in the equation? The wonder about dreaming is, we are experiencing ourselves as psychic energy. We are asleep, but what is sleep if we are still aware? There is nothing physical about the dream dimension. All we can say is that we don't know what happens to our dream body should the physical body die. Jung himself, as far as I know, avoided this question, leaving it for religion to answer. But as long as the physical body is alive, we spend about a third of our lives in our dream bodies, navigating a psychic dimension. What is not shamanic about that? [2]

In explaining how psychic energy works, Jung talked about dreaming as a closed system even though he knew this view was delimiting because to him the unconscious was anything but closed; it was infinite. But, in any case, what he wanted us to understand was, when we fall asleep, our brain doesn't fall asleep but our brain waves slow down [3] as physical and emotional energy converts into psychic energy. (The same thing happens when we meditate or drum journey.) When our brain waves slow, our senses are still functioning, our ability to reason, to make choices, even our self-consciousness, everything is still functioning, except they are introverted functions, and the rules are different in the dream-world. But the rules are not strange to us. The human race has been dreaming as long as we have been human - about 400 thousand years, maybe even longer! Just recently, in the last approximately 2000 years (of Western consciousness), we have fallen out of practice. Dreaming is natural, like sex or eating, but like sex and eating, dreaming can be stressful, depending on what the dream is showing us. But what I am saying is, dreaming is our birthright. And it is shamanic and it is our opportunity to explore another dimension. What is this other dimension? When we dream where are we? Are we inside the brain? Not if we accept Jung's fundamental starting point, that psyche is soul. When we are in psychic space, we are halfway into soul space. When the brain slows down, what is happening is, it is giving up control to the soul, and the soul has agreed to meet us halfway, in a psychic dimension, to help us muck through (process) our current incarnation.

The halfway I am referring to (the psychic dimension) mimics the physics of our waking world. The capacity of our dreams to mimic waking reality is a concession of our soul to go easy on us, to speak our language, the language of physical reality. But, as a concession and an illusion, it is a very unstable compromise and we would be much better served by our dreaming if we could relate to it as an energetic reality. (Veteran lucid dreamers do this all the time.) For now, let's call dreams, since they seem to depend on our self-consciousness, a half-dimension, but let's agree that psychic energy is energy. And this accounts for why dreams are dismissed by most health professionals as little more than the fireworks of our overwrought minds or brains and libido (much like Freud believed) because dreams seem to have no direct relationship to any part of our lives that matters, which is to say, our material life. Most people are unconscious Freudians!

We are so used to thinking that matter is everything, we think of energy as being secondary to matter or even serving matter, as fuel, to drive machinery, such as steam, water, nuclear reactions, heat (generated by coal or gas), electricity from solar energy and wood-burning power plants. We regard energy as power that we harness to do work. This bias is programmed into us as we make our way into the world as bodies, which we conceive of as fancy machines, the driving counterpart of the cars we love. This body-image will change as machines become more humanoid and virtual reality begins to compete with physical reality for our attention. This future will force us to reassess how much more there is to the human creation than mere intelligence, anatomy and chemistry, all of which are replicable. Soul and psyche are not.

Energy is more basic than matter. It can exist without it, but it is the dance of matter and energy that births form. You can see into matter (as I did at the beginning of this memoir, when I saw through my book), but you can't see beyond energy. There is nothing beyond energy to see or to sense! (Perhaps other forms of life have the ability to do this but for us human beings, where energy stops, consciousness falls off.) We should learn to trust our feelings about the energy of the people and places in our lives. And we should learn to read energy fields. Our souls are good at that. This is one sure way to bring our destiny more under control.

There is nothing wrongwith living in a primarily material universe. A contractor who makes his or her living by mastering tools and materials, reading blueprints, defining, maximizing space is living in a physical universe. (A good carpenter is not even dependent on electricity.) But matter cannot exist without energy. Energy is the real clay of creation because it is, by nature, formless. Water, even though it is material, retains an energetic character in that it is itself formless. The water molecule is so complex that the real nature of water is still a mystery. (There are infinite forms of water. Stephen Buhner speaks of a kind of water that he associates with early memories of walks with his grandfather - "wild water".) We are 70% water. Water is matter that has not forgotten its energetic genesis. So, liberating water from our limited perspective of it (as resource or something we drink, cook with or bathe in or flush down the toilet to carry away our waste or enjoy seeing in a view as a river, lake or waterfall or as weather), to experience it as the wild and untamable "element" that keeps us primed for living, is an important step toward opening ourselves to an energetic universe.

Energy is what makes all matter so mysterious and wild and alive. But, as we learned in high school chemistry / physics, it is the dance of matter and energy on the atomic level that births form. Some forms are stable and some are ephemeral, but lets not confuse form with matter. Form is matter existing in linear time. When you look into form you see matter (a house, my book), when you look into the essence of matter you see how it dances with energy. When you look into energy, or try to go beyond energy it quantumizes, becoming something more basic than energy. The reason it is useless to try to see beyond energy is, what we are seeing stops existing in linear time or in time as we know it; out of time there is no meaningful context for anything so (unless you are a quantum physicist) there is no sense in making it conscious. I find that relating to the universe energetically is adequate for explaining things shamanically and making sense of how the psyche functions.

[1]In Volume 8 of his Collected Works, Jung introduces the term "psychoid" to distinguish how the nature of archetype is not just psychic, but it is rooted in the stuff of the organism, and of (objective) matter. It is his attempt to push language to make room for the very human experience of meaningful coincidence when inner and outer realities converge.

[2]We do know, thanks to what people have reported about near death experiences and out of body states, that the energy body or subtle or soul-body remains tethered to the physical body, or the vitality of the physical body until that life leaves the physical body at which point the tether lets go and the soul is free of the physical world. So how long does the soul retain a physical appearance? Each religion has its own answer to that but this is when psychology bows out of the discussion, or at least it should.

[3]Beta to alpha to theta to delta (in deepest dreamless sleep).



Submitters Website: garylindorff.wordpress.com

Submitters Bio:

Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger  and author of several books, the latest: 13 Seeds: Health, Karma and Initiation. Over the last few years he has begun calling himself an activist poet, channeling his activism through poetic voice. He also writes with other voices in other poetic styles: ecstatic, experimental and performance.


He is a practicing Transformational Counselor (with a strong, seasoned Jungian background) and a shamanic practitioner. His shamanic work is continually deepening his partnership with the land. This work can assume many forms, solo and communal, among them: prayer, vision questing, ritual sweating, and sharing stories by the fire.



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