Not All Dreams Are Created Equal

November 30, 2015
trevor's dream

A Symbolic Dream

One of the first priorities when we start to work with dreams is to distinguish what to focus on, as not all dreams are created equal. Occasionally we can become overwhelmed trying to interpret every dream that enters our awareness. Recently, I have been witnessing dreams that come as an affirmation of our current life journey. It is as though the soul wants to assure us that we are on the right path. One dream-partner shared a dream of being able to sing beautifully, it was an amazing moment as she has always aspired to sing and now the voice in the dream was the one she had always longed for. She knew immediately that the dream was not about a vocal miracle; it was a declaration that she had found her voice in the world in which she lived.

So what are some of the other forms that dreams may take?

  • Junk Mail Dreams There are dreams that come simply to support us in discarding the psychic trash. These dreams are full of haphazard, overlapping images that can create chaos in the waking mind. Treat these like junk mail; they came to pass and perhaps clear some of the detritus from an overloaded mind.
  • Anxiety Dreams There are the classic anxiety dreams that everyone will occasionally encounter; you arrive at the airport without ticket, passport or bag; you sit an exam with no pencil or paper. These are a normally a sign of some harmless anxiety about a future event however if your dreams are always anxious then it will be important to explore the underlying cause.
  • Precognitive Dreams Infrequently you may have dreams that are pre-cognitive of a future event. These dreams are generally like a photograph: clear, accurate, no symbols. There is no explaining these dreams outside of the context that “we are more than we think we are”.
  • Collective Dreams Some dreams may represent something happening in the collective consciousness at the time. Carl Jung dreamed images of the First World War before it happened. I recall attending a meditation on the evening of September 11th 2001 and everyone except one person there had experienced disturbed sleep the night prior to the event.
  • Dreams of the Life Not Lived They totally intrigue me; I encountered them at a time when I was deeply involved in pursuing my spiritual quest and spending a lot of time in meditation and on retreat. I began to have these movie type dreams full of action and adventure; these were related to the lack of exciting activity in my life at the time. I always regretted that I could not recall them as I am convinced there was an Oscar contender in their somewhere.
  • Symbolic Dreams of Guidance The ones I focus on in my workshops. Much has been written and explored but look for these signs of a significant dream: it features people you know, three is a significant number, it contains emotion and energy, it is about travel, your waking self tells you it is a “stupid meaningless dream”, and particularly if you have similar dreams on a theme.
  • Dreams Outside of Time Sometimes these symbolic guidance dreams occur before the event in question has occurred; this can be confusing but very affirming after the event has transpired and you realize that you had a dream that helped you cope with the experience. I had one such dream recently. “I am standing on a ocean beach, I feel I am too close to the waves and move back to a safer distance however a huge wave swamps me right up to the centre of my chest then recedes leaving me no worse for wear. My sister Chris and her daughter Amy are there. The scene segues to a sparse forest with lots of space between the trees. Suddenly I put my hands in my pocket and find my keys missing, then I think I find them and then realize they are not the right keys as my shorts have changed. I begin to panic as it is getting dark, my sister and I retrace our steps, she finds my keys hanging in a tree.” This dream is about allowing myself to get swamped by emotion and knowing I will be safe then trusting that although I may not know what is going on the “key” lies through the feminine feelings. This dream came a couple of months before the event actually took place.
  • Energy Dreams My dream partner reminded me there are also dreams of pure energy. They are not always easy to understand but frequently offer a sense of connection to the divine through our chi and our chakras. In this type of dream the body can feel as though an electric current is flowing through it.
  • Dreams of Invention It was a dream that led Einstein to develop his theories of relativity and Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, had a dream of being surrounded by cannibals with long spears with a hole in the end that helped him solve where the eye in the needle needed to go.

As my wonderful teacher Atum O’Kane says, “Having a dream and failing to explore it is like receiving a gift and not unwrapping it.For a free dream partnering download go to http://www.soulclarity.com/free_taste.html


The Soul’s Journey – Do You Believe In the Hereafter?

August 10, 2020

When I began to reflect on the subject of the “Hereafter” almost immediately an image of Arty Johnson and Ruth Buzzi flashed through my mind. In an ongoing skit on the Rowan and Martin Laugh-in back in the late ’60s, Arty Johnson would sidle up to Ruth Buzzi on a park bench and ask, “do you believe in the hereafter?” Then tell her “well you know what I’m here after.”

It still makes me smile although over fifty years later the concept of the hereafter has assumed a more serious tonality. Recently I was reading Carl Jung’s Memories, Dreams and Reflections and he posed the idea that everyone should have a death myth. This led to a contemplation on what is mine? Then further into asking a series of friends what their conception of life after death was.

Growing up as an evangelical Baptist I was familiar with the three level universe of many traditional religions – the earth, heaven above and hell down below. To my parents this concept was God’s truth and an undeniable fact. After emergence from a state of atheism to perhaps a belief in the unknowable or mystery, I identified with a number of different concepts for life after death.

For twenty-years I felt quite convinced I was a spiritual being having human experience and my soul together with much of my consciousness would transcend the death of the body. I still find it a lovely concept but perhaps too self-serving. Reading Juval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, an exploration of the amazing journey of our species, left me questioning my concept of Soul.

I wanted to assure myself there was nothing to fear from death and an exploration of a number of different possibilities has satisfied me that there is nothing of concern. Recently I identified four alternative scenarios that I could face when the grim reaper calls.

The first would be nothingness; the body dies and it is over. The elements of the body return to earth either through burial or perhaps unfortunately contributing to global warming if one is cremated.

The second would be reincarnation which I embraced for many years. The concepts of Karma and returning to try again seems exquisitely fair and particularly satisfying when one considers the destiny of certain world leaders not to be named. Yet it seems to me to be an all too human a construct and I couldn’t account for reincarnation and a rapidly increasing population? We can’t have all had past lives as Cleopatra or Henry VIII.

The third is based on Einstein’s concept that energy is neither created or destroyed and that at the moment of death the vitality and energy that differentiates life from death is released back into the ether. (Two friends of mine independently witnessed a light leaving the body of one’s mother as she passed.) My brother-in-law likens it to an iceberg melting back into the ocean. What that ocean may be is part of the mystery that I don’t think we get to fully understand while in a body.

The fourth was that energy and consciousness survive the body. Some of my friends absolutely identify with the survival of the spirits of dead loved ones. Reading Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences by Jeffery Long is convincing that at the moment of death consciousness is still present. However this concept is another that seems too likely an aspect of our very human desire to preserve our loved ones and to believe that they continue in a another form.

Out of my dialogue with friends there emerged another concept that resonated with me the most. It is a combination of two of the above. That at transition there is still a degree of personal consciousness that is attached to the energy that leaves the body but it likely dissipates over time. Perhaps rapidly for some and longer for others. This would explain the sense of presence many have felt after the death of a loved one. It would also fit with near death experiences and perhaps the existence of ghosts.

My sense is that there is absolutely nothing to fear other than the challenge the ego has to let go. I believe that the more comfortable we are with the idea of death, the less of a struggle it may be. So perhaps Jung’s observation “Life is a short pause between two great mysteries. Beware of those who offer answers.” is all that really matters as we can never really know the truth about the mystery of death while we still live. Our opportunity is to live this one life as fully as we can.

NB: For those interested in this subject The Institute of Noetic Sciences is conducting a survey on what happens when you die – see https://noetic.org/blog/what-survives-death-study/


Some Velvet Morning – My Personal Exploration

May 31, 2020

Lee
Some velvet mornin’ when I’m straight
I’m gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you ’bout Phaedra
And how she gave me life
And how she made it end
Some velvet mornin’ when I’m straight

Nancy
Flowers growing on a hill, dragonflies and daffodils
Learn from us very much, look at us but do not touch
Phaedra is my name

Lee
Some velvet mornin’ when I’m straight
I’m gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you ’bout Phaedra
And how she gave me life
And how she made it end
Some velvet mornin’ when I’m straight

Nancy
Flowers are the things we know, secrets are the things we grow
Learn from us very much, look at us but do not touch
Phaedra is my name

Lee Some velvet mornin’… 

Recently while listening to Rich Terfry on CBC FM on a dark, rainy, Covid afternoon, he shared a story about the song “Some Velvet Morning” sung by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. I was familiar with Nancy from the sixties when like many mid-twenty year olds I had a crush on her after watching the music video “These Boots Were Made for Walking” 

However I had not heard of Lee or Some Velvet Morning. Rich wove a fascinating story about how Frank had asked Lee to resurrect Nancy’s failing music career and the result was a collaboration that began with Boots and lasted for about three years before Lee moved to Sweden. One rumour suggested that Frank did not like how close Lee and Nancy had become and put a contract out on Lee resulting in his hasty move.

I was entranced by the story and also by the beauty of the song. (At one time British music journalists elected it the most beautiful duet ever.) I could not get enough of it. I found it on YouTube and began to listen to it repeatedly, followed by some of the other beautiful duets they sang together. 

Then I wanted to find out more. Who was Phaedra? What did these lyrics mean? Research suggested that no satisfactory meaning for the song had ever been found. Some claimed it was about drugs but Lee dismissed that saying he did not do drugs. Others wondered if it was about Lee’s close relationship with Nancy but in reality it remains a mystery.

I was curious, the song had a dreamlike quality and featured Phaedra who seemed integral to the lyrics. Just who was Phaedra? She was a minor Greek Goddess, wife of Theseus who had fallen in love with her half brother Hippolytus who had rejected her and so the spurned Phaedra told her husband she had been raped by him. Theseus, appears to have cursed him, and different legends refer to various unpleasant outcomes for Hippolytus.

Based upon my understanding of Jungian psychology, if Lee did not know why he had chosen Phaedra as the focus of this song then his unconscious had chosen it for him. He must have known the story of Phaedra so how could this story be relevant to him and Nancy. 

I also knew that my compulsion around this song and its story was related to my unconscious and likely represented a projection of some kind. Eminent Jungian Analyst and author James Hollis describes projection as “a mechanism whereby the psychological contents leave us and enter the world seeking an object – a person, an institution, a role – upon which to fasten.”

Mine had chosen this song and its story – why? I was sharing this adventure with a friend who is also a therapist and when she asked me, “what is the projection”. I heard myself say, “unrequited love”. Up until that moment I had not seen the connection but knew immediately it was significant. A major theme of my past twenty years has been unrequited and unrealized love. For some reason it had been projected on Lee and Nancy.

Then a story emerged that seemed to make total sense combining myth, the lyrics and rumours to find my sense of meaning in this song. Suppose Nancy fell in love with Lee, not uncommon when two people are so closely intertwined. Perhaps her father Frank found out and was not amused. Hollywood royalty would not condone a relationship with the “help”- the son of an oil worker and his precious daughter. 

However every Father knows that you cannot tell your daughter who to fall in love with or to prohibit the liaison, invariably they will do the opposite. So maybe Dad went to Lee and told him the score, “You are not to reciprocate my daughter’s feelings and you are also never to tell her I have interfered. In fact I think it better that you leave town.”

Then one day this song emerged whereby Lee’s unconscious created a song of his unrequited love – explaining something he could never express possibly in fear of his life. So perhaps Nancy is the Phaedra who “gave him life” but also “made it end”; he was never allowed to touch only to look. Perhaps this solution simply satisfies my own projection but on the other hand it also seems an elegant resolution to the mystery of Phaedra in the lyrics and “secrets we will never know”.


PayPal – A Corporation Without Soul?

May 23, 2020

A Case Study in Corporate Hypocrisy over Covid-19

On March 25th I had a lovely e-mail from Dan Schulman, President of PayPal assuring me that: “as we all continue to navigate through these unique and evolving challenges, we want you to know that PayPal is here for you.”

I felt relieved as I had a PayPal nightmare on my hands. I had engaged in three interactions over the PayPal message system to try and resolve a problem directly related to Covid-19 and had actually received no empathy, sympathy or support to handle the problem so his words felt particularly reassuring.

Since September 2018 I had been organizing a conference in Italy scheduled for April 2020. I had collected most of the payments on PayPal for which I had willingly paid them a fee of about 5%. Now I had to refund the money however PayPal deactivate the refund button after 180 days and most of my deposits had been before that date. I had been told in no uncertain terms that they could not simplify my life by activation of the refund button, nor would they refund any of the fees. In fact they suggested that my only recourse was to refund the money as though I was sending it to friends and actually pay them an additional fee.

So imagine how relieved I was to get Mr. Schulman’s nice message that “he was there for me.” I found his company email address and forwarded a note to let him know that his organization was not living up to his promise. I wasn’t rude but perhaps a little pointed. 

“After four fruitless attempts to get help about a specific problem that Covid 19 has caused, to receive these platitudes was to say the least distressing and completely undermined the essence of your communication. YOU CERTAINLY HAVE CERTAINLY NOT BEEN THERE FOR ME!”

I went on to explain my plight and sat back waiting confidently for an understanding response. After a month I had received no reply at all – nada, nothing, not a peep. So I wrote again wondering if my missive may have got lost and I would appreciate a reply.

This time success! In only a couple of days I saw an impressive looking e-mail in my inbox from “Joshua with PayPal’s Office of Executive Escalations“. This was more like it, I had got their attention and surely they would now live up to Mr. Schulman’s promise to me and all his customers.

Unfortunately not! As I read Joshua’s long eight-paragraph reply I realized all he had actually done was repeat what I had told him then confirmed that they were prepared to do absolutely nothing to help me. I wondered if I had misread and sent him a query, “Dear Joshua, thank you for your reply (I think). Could you please clarify that you spent eight paragraphs telling me that PayPal are absolutely unwilling to provide any support to me as a result of the losses I will incur from Covid-19 or did I miss something?” Not surprisingly no response

How does a corporation justify this hypocritical behaviour? I guess I’ll never know. They had about sixty thousand dollars of my money for approaching two years and I am sure they made a profit on it. In addition the share price has increased 25% about $40 a share since the Covid-19 crisis started so Mr. Schulman’s executive compensation is likely benefitted enormously and I suspect their corporate coffers are bulging. 

Yet they will do nothing to make life easier for the poor sap who has lost money due to the virus but is now is forced to contribute even more to their corporate coffers. 

Shame on you Mr. Schulman for your pretence at helping through this crisis while really representing the epitome of corporate greed and avarice. I think your company’s response is a disgrace and so are you. Of course I am powerless in our relationship, however I hope to extricate myself from your claws as soon as this is over. 

NB I am pleased to say there is at least one company I know of – AirBnb who have placed the needs of their customers ahead of their own corporate financial gain. Kudos to them for truly caring and helping in a time of need.


It looks like Shakespeare, It sounds like Shakespeare yet it NOT Shakespeare

May 8, 2020

Not a Quote

It looks like Shakespeare, It sounds like Shakespeare yet it NOT Shakespeare

This exploration began ten years ago when I encountered a quote in a book by an eminent Jungian analyst that resonated with me, “No prisons are no confining than those of your own mind”. He identified the play as Twelfth Night but it was not until some time later that I had reason to question his citation.

I decided to use the quote in a blog I was writing but as dislike using secondary sources I decided to source the reference on line. To my surprise the only allusion I could find was to the Jungian analyst and his book. There was absolutely no indication of Shakespeare ever writing such a quote.

I was puzzled. Was it possible that such an excellent quote from Shakespeare had never been added to the world wide web?  Somewhat resigned to what seemed an ordeal I committed to reading the play. I have a reliable reference book The Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare and when I reached the scene where Malvolio is confined to jail I became optimistic but there was nothing even close. So I repeated the process and again nothing.

Was I so unobservant that I had missed it on both occasions? I was bemused but decided that it was from an alternative play. I was not sufficiently intrigued to read through all of his 41 plays so let it go. However it was only when I met the great man himself at a seminar he was giving in Vancouver that I was motivated to pursue the matter once more.

It was four years later. I know that because I approached him during a break to get a book signed that was a gift for my 69th birthday. As he kindly inscribed his good wishes I mentioned I had been trying to find the quote. He interrupted me, “You didn’t find it did you?” Then confessed he too had failed.

He was still convinced that it was a true Shakespearean quote so I embarked on a personal crusade to track it down. Initially I could find nothing that was not a direct quote from him but maintaining my zeal like an old fashioned prophet I soldiered on. I encountered something similar in Anthony and Cleopatra “Make not your thoughts your prisons” which indeed was close and that Franklyn Roosevelt once said something almost identical – “Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.” I reported back suggesting that he may indeed be the original author of this precise quotation but he was convinced not. I surrendered and let it go.

Another six years passed and while reading his latest book, that I came across a similar quotation.. It was slightly revised “no prisons are more confining than those we know not we are in” and this time was not attributed to a specific Shakespeare play.I decided to write and ask if he ever been able to find the original source of the quote and he replied to say he thought it was the Tempest and provided a link https://www.azquotes.com/quote/882496 

When I looked it up; it was cited from The Tempest Act 5 Scene 1. “This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine. There is nothing more confining than the prison we don’t know we are in” Not quite as eloquent as the one in the book but close enough. Satisfied I breathed a sigh of relief that I had resolution to a question that has troubled me for ten years. I did feel a tinge of concern that I had come across none of these citations only six years ago yet now there were 203 entries substantiating the quote as being from the Tempest. So I thought I should at least check the reference.

Back to my trusty Signet Classic Shakespeare and looked up the Tempest. What I found astonished me. Act 5 scene 1 contains Prospero’s summation at the end of the play. He is talking about Caliban and says, “This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine”. Period. There is no line about prisons. In fact in the context of Caliban, a monster in the play, the lines would make no sense.

So where does this quote originate? It is now listed on a number of quotation sites as being from the Tempest – azquotes, quotemaster, pinterest, citatis to name but four. Google identifies 203 entries affirming this as a genuine Shakespeare quotation. none of which existed only six years ago!

So how does a false quote achieve so much traction? It even has the act and verse of a real play together with a real quote added to increase its legitimacy. Is this deliberate or is it a technological screw up that can occur when many people quote and requote a statement. How does anyone determine fact from fiction anymore? Don’t these sites that claim to offer quotes verify their sources?

I feel perhaps wiser and more sceptical; I need to be more discerning and cautious about attributing truth to any claim that crosses my path. I was going to conclude by a quote by Aldous Huxley “The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him, the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free.” However further research indicates that it too is a hoax. What a bizarro world we live in!

 


The Soul’s Journey – Trying to Live Soulfully with Covid-19

April 18, 2020

At first I was unconcerned about the pandemic. I am somewhat ashamed to say I felt a little like Donald Trump – people were over reacting; it’s a flu; old people die anyway; most people recover etc, etc. And then I finally understood the concern about exponential growth and overwhelming the medical system. Flattening the curve became a mantra for most western countries and in one week the situation in my own province began to show the growth of cases that the authorities most feared.

In one amazing week in the middle of March, the jurisdiction in which I reside – the province of British Columbia, Canada – went from having no restrictions, to bans on groups of 250, then 50, then 5 and finally close to a complete lock-down. Overnight libraries, gyms, restaurants, theatres, golf courses, cinemas, museums and most places of work closed. We were instructed to distance by two meters from anyone who was not in our immediate family.

I felt fine with complying with the new rules. Ensuring the health system did not implode seemed essential. I developed my personal plan of wellbeing:

1) I would reach out to someone electronically every day.

2) I would maintain my morning practice of meditation and journaling.

3) I would either walk or bike ride every day.

4) I would allow myself a glass or wine (or two) each evening.

5) I would try not to overeat but permit myself a treat of some kind each day.

6) I would choose something to make me laugh each evening – the old British comedy series Blackadder, The Good Place on Netflix and more recently the series Schitt’s Creek.

My strategy worked well. For the first time ever, I spoke to my five siblings in the same week. The weather became gorgeous spring sunshine, which was great for biking and walking. The cherry blossoms emerged and for three weeks I gazed at these two magical cherry trees that stayed in full glorious pink snow bloom. I occasionally met a friend for a socially distanced walk or beer. Much of my life did not change, although I had to cancel a conference I was arranging in Assisi, with all the work of unmaking the event I had laboriously slaved over for two years.

Then about a week ago something began to shift. There seemed no sign of a plan for the future. We kept getting informed that the curve was flattened, we had lots of room in the hospitals (4400 unused beds), we were getting fewer cases each day yet there was no suggestion of any increased freedoms. My frustration began to increase. We seemed stuck in a permanent Ground Hog Day. There were rumours that there could be no change until a vaccine was found and that could be eighteen months. Suddenly my respect for the authorities began to evaporate. I no longer trusted the people in charge.

Then my perspective began to deteriorate. I realized how easily this virus had caused us to shift from a democracy to a totalitarian state. I began to read contrasting opinions written by eminent writers and professors. The data was not simple to interpret.

I had some challenging debates with friends who seemed more vulnerable and fearful than I was. I realized that if the authorities could keep us fearful, they could maintain control. I began to begrudge my loss of personal freedoms. I wondered of the lack of forward planning was also due to fear – fear of the consequences of letting people get sick.

I got heated, opinionated and almost desperate to get some agreement. A friend of mine asked when I had become the world’s expert on the corona virus. That silenced me and caused me to go deeper.

There is a great psychological truism that a thing is never about what it seems to be about. So when I asked myself what this was really about I realized that the current environment had tapped into a lifelong complex around my relationship with authority. When I was a child, my relationship with my Father was fine until I began to develop beliefs about religion that differed from his. So began my pattern of compliance to authority shifting into rebellion when I no longer respected that authority. Fear could keep me compliant for a while, but eventually the fear would dissipate. The same process repeated itself at boarding school. I began as a compliant, fearful, wellbehaved child until disrespect for the rules caused insurrection. (Eventually I got caught recklessly breaking curfew to go to a local fair and was rusticated – sent home for the rest of term.)

This pattern stayed with me for my working career. Once my respect for the authority figure dissipated, I could and would get myself in big trouble, including one case of “You’re fired, get out of my office!” This only really ceased when I became the boss, and I was the authority figure. Fortunately, with one exception, none of the people who worked for me had the same complex.

Questioning of authority, in itself, is not bad. However, reacting like a petulant, angry, aggressive child becomes inappropriate. I think circumstances saved me from myself, as for almost twenty years I worked alone. I like to think I also grew up, but the Covid-19 virus has become a reminder of how easily old patterns can reinstitute themselves and history replays in a new context.

Exploring this has given me a sense of peace, yet also encouraged me to follow an adult enquiry about my perspective on authority and whether it is valid. The jury is out, but when I apologized to the friend with whom I had become somewhat heated, he responded, I think we both agree that it is all about transitioning back to a fully operating economy as quickly as possible without overwhelming the health care system in the short to medium term. Are our leaders completely clueless or are they up to the task?  Time will tell…at least in part, given that there will continue to be many unknown, unknowns”

I think I can live with that. At least for now. Already antibody tests are suggesting a much higher degree of cases than believed and a much lower death rate.

 


The Soul’s Journey – Trusting The Soul (Or Not!)

April 8, 2020

© Lorne Craig

© Lorne Craig

A client and I were exploring his anxiety about how he was defining himself, engaging with his job and the world. I asked him what it would be like to trust his Soul. His reply left me in paroxysms of laughter, “How can you trust such a flake, it’s like inviting the hippies to the White House to avoid a war.” It appears that when the ego security is threatened the Soul’s relevance can also become diminished. It was not the first time I have run into this phenomenon with those who believe they are on a Soul journey yet when under pressure they regress into following the ego’s path.

Recently friend was backing away from an opportunity that appeared to have been clearly created from her inner guidance system. When I gently probed what I perceived to be her lack of trust in what appeared to be overt signs and synchronicities pointing the way, she suddenly exclaimed, “But I don’t trust my Soul”. A dream partner of mine almost suffered paralysis at the idea of following guidance that she deemed could run contrary to what she had already decided to do.

In his masterpiece the audio book Through The Dark Wood, Jungian analyst James Hollis puts it this way, “Focus on the external task leads to estrangement from the inner journey of the Soul and pursuit of  “The bitch Goddess success.” He also suggests that each of us need to access the inner navigational system that can guide us through the challenges of life. He went on to say, “The alignment of the ego with the will of the Gods – the Soul, is the supreme task for the second half of life.”

Most wisdom systems support the idea that guidance from a deeper place is available to us. The I Ching talks about trusting the sage; Emily Dickenson stated, “the sailor doesn’t see the North but knows the needle can; Rumi’s poem The Great Wagon reminds us, “the breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you, don’t go back to sleep”; in Christianity the Holy Spirit is often considered the Spirit of Truth. There is oceans of support suggesting we have access to a deeper knowledge than that accumulated by the ego. So what prevents people who truly believe in the idea of Soul from accepting the wisdom that can be derived from the deeper self?

I think it comes back to what Hollis describes as the chief delusion of the ego, “it thinks it is in control” The ego thinks it is serving your security needs when in fact it is too limited to see the potential in other options. Unfortunately this is made more complex by the different languages spoken by the Soul and ego. The ego uses language like logic, order, fear, and rationalization.

The Soul uses the language of sign and symbol, synchronicity and serendipity, intuition and dreams. To trust the Soul requires an act of discernment. I suspect the very language of the Soul is uncomfortable and feels unworthy of trust to the Ego. Thus explaining why my client used the word “flakey”. We are so imbued with the logical/rational perspective of the world that we struggle to look beyond it into a world of potentiality.

In my book Life’s Little Book for Big Decisions, I explore the variety of languages of inner wisdom and the importance of developing ways to open up to our inner wisdom. That we need to find the languages that speaks to each of us. I recommend an ongoing practice to build faith and trust in the Soul. Keep a Soul Journal where you keep a record of your personal interaction with the amazing mystery in which we all participate. Write about the moments of magic in your life, about how synchronicity played a significant role in shaping the future, about dreams that carried specific wisdom and guidance, about moments of where you had a glimpse into the Mystery.

Visionary and mystic William Blake once wrote, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, man would see everything as it is – infinite. For man has closed himself up until he sees all things through the narrow chink of his cavern.” O

Is it time to open up the prison of your narrow vision and capture some of magic of this amazing universe. The ego is supposed to be the servant of the Soul not the master.


The Souls Journey – Letting Go of Flow

February 1, 2020

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.” The wise words of Robbie Burns that I do my best to prove wrong. How frequently I strive to manage all the variables to achieve a specific result and circumstances conspire to pervert my goals. As this seems a prevalent theme in my life, it reminds me to pay attention.

Recently I took off for Whistler with my friend Lorne. It was not a blue sky day and the alpine was closed for avalanche control but as visibility looked poor I was happy to ski the lower slopes. Then the Seventh Heaven Express opened. I felt torn as my friend Lorne was keen to go for fresh tracks. Finally I told him to go without me. We could stay in touch by text and meet later.

At the age of 75 I have enormous apprehension about skiing in flat light where my depth perception completely disappears. Those who ski know that loss of confidence can cause technique and ability dissipate. So I felt good in my decision and had lots of mountain to explore.

At this moment I seemed to lose flow in my day. First I had passed the easy access to the run I was looking for and had to cross some challenging terrain; then I could not find the lift I was looking for; I got a text from Lorne telling me “Dude it’s epic . Vis is good.” – not what I wanted to hear! (Note to self, practice “mudita” – the Buddhist term for sympathetic joy for someone else’s positive fortune.) Then I noticed my phone had gone from 100% to 1% raising issues about how we would reconnect.

I decided to head to the chair he was riding hoping I would bump into him. I took the high trail by mistake and had to navigate steep icy moguls to get there then the line up was considerable; there was no sign of Lorne in the mass of humanity. I had no phone signal. This was fast becoming a day to forget!

I made one run, the visibility must have declined, I made it down but had missed the good powder. I borrowed someone’s phone in the line up and left a message for him. Things seemed to brighten when I found him waiting at the top of the lift. We agreed to head down the easy way to the restaurant at the top of the mountain. He set off confidently in a direction I did not expect but uncomplaining I followed.

Little did I know at that precise moment it would be akin to the British Cavalry following Lord Cardigan in The Charge of The Light Brigade: “into the valley of death rode the five hundred.”

Well it was only one but it felt like the valley of death. I found myself on the brink of a huge alpine bowl, with atrocious visibility and no choice but to either call the ski patrol for rescue or descend 2500 vertical feet in the very conditions I had been trying to avoid.

So my early decision to avoid these conditions had actually resulted in a situation a minimum of ten times worse. The terrain was steeper, the light worse and the distance much longer.

I will not even try to describe my abject misery of the next half an hour. Lorne did his best to guide me down as “my seeing eye dog”. I did my best to avoid screaming at him “you f***ing idiot, don’t you know your way around yet. You used to draw maps for the mountain!!”

Apart from moments when I was lying in the snow wondering if I could ever get up, I avoided spending too much time feeling a victim. Eventually we got to tree line where vision improves and then to the Glacier Lodge restaurant and could enjoy a debrief.

The good news that my philosophy of being curious about my experience overrode my need to blame or judge him. (And he shared his lunch with me as an unspoken apology.)

It did seem that this was a conspiracy of circumstances that in hindsight was predestined. I felt a tad self congratulatory that I had not got bad tempered, or too frustrated and got over the experience immediately. There were days in my earlier life when I would not have been quite so sanguine.

But was there meaning? Ironically had I overcome my fears and followed Lorne in the first place I would have had a much better day skiing powder before it and the visibility evaporated. On the other hand had I spoken up at the top about our direction, I would have avoided the nightmare run. I sense it comes back to the lesson of Equanimity that is my theme word for the year. I wrote about it in December concerning my travails en route to Mexico. (https://wp.me/phAyS-Fs)

I think my lesson in practicing equanimity will take many forms. The dictionary defines it as “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.” Equanimity looks much more accessible through the rear view mirror. Perhaps equanimity requires letting go of my attachment to flow and accepting it takes practice to make perfect.

 

 


The Soul’s Journey – Splinter Personalities

January 18, 2020

At the end of the year I was feeling somewhat judgmental about my output as a blogger. I decided to check my WordPress site and to my surprise I had published 16 under SoulClarity, 9 under DreamClarity and 6 On The Road, my travel blog so in fact it had been quite a productive year. However, what surprised me most was to see a blog I that wrote in 2015  was viewed by over 200 people last year. I was flummoxed. How could that many people find it?

It was titled Splinter Personalities – Anxiety, Energy and the Unconscious. The year it was published it had 35 views and now has reached 715. Presumably some strange anomaly in the search engines resulted in people encountering it. I decided to read it myself and consider updating

First to explain how I understand the concept of splinter personalities. It derives from the work of C.G Jung and refers to the variety of personalities that we each may employ at different times. So imagine those moments when you may say, “Well I wasn’t myself.” Who were you? Circumstances can cause us to shape shift into a persona that is uncomfortable, sometimes unfamiliar and normally short term. This is like a splinter or faction that temporarily breaks off from our normal personality.

These deviations from our norms are generally triggered by circumstances that tap deep into our history into what Jung would refer to as complexes. Eminent Jungian Analyst James Hollis, in his profound audio book, “Through The Dark Wood” suggests that our life is predominantly lived in service to powerfully charged, deeply reinforced messages. These are complexes – structures that can carry a large charge of energy and a charged historic experience can cause us to act unconsciously. Given the right activation, or stimulus one can get thrust back into that disempowered time of the formation of the core idea.

When I originally wrote the blog I had an encounter at a social gathering that was profoundly challenging yet most of the time I had no idea what was transpiring. A bit like a wave in a storm wind, I seemed to being pushed in a direction with no control of the outcome except to inevitably crash somewhere.

I began to feel harassed, a victim, outnumbered by my guests. I began to wish I had never invited them. I sank back in my chair. I tried to retreat but my friends pursued me. I felt uptight, my energy would not shift, my anxiety and angst grew and they both suggested I was being hostile.

I sat feeling as though I was an outsider at my own party. I was told my energy was like a negative barrier. I knew I was in the grip of something but had no idea what and desperately wanted to find out. I would have preferred to leave but it was my house. I sat feeling almost paralyzed and unable to regain my composure.

Then something magical occurred. The words “I was feeling attacked” entered my head and it felt like a light switch being turned on. I realized that the person sitting abjectly outside of the group was my thirteen year old self. This was a splinter personality. My energy was that of a sullen, glowering teenager. This was the age when I began to run away from life. It had all been too painful to stand up; it led to failure and hurt feelings. Being combative had rarely been effective, in fact at times I felt like my own worst enemy. Retreat was a safer and less damaging option.

At this point the energy autonomously lifted. My body felt differently, I felt calmer and more peaceful and both of my friends could feel the shift. The complex had been disarmed by the journey of enquiry and understanding. The relationship of energy, anxiety and the unconscious is complex and at times confusing yet it is a sign of something requiring healing.

As the great Sufi poet Rumi observed, “This being human is a guest house, every morning a new arrival, a joy, a meanness, a depression, some momentary awareness, comes as an unexpected visitor, welcome and entertain them all”.


The Souls Journey – Searching for Equanimity

December 16, 2019

One of my favourite aspects of Buddhism is what is described as the four immeasurable – equanimity, compassion, loving kindness and sympathetic joy. Recently the cosmos seems to have blessed me with a number of opportunities to practice equanimity.

This is not one of my natural traits. My niece Amy refers to a common genetic response of my family that she refers to as the Simpson spin. She has noticed it in my two younger siblings as well as myself. We come by it honestly as our father role modelled the spin during our childhood. Needless to say this is practically the opposite of equanimity.

Recently I was preparing for my visit to Mexico where I am writing this. I went to check in on line but they could not find my booking. (So at least the story has a good ending) I tried a few times to no avail. It would appear fleetingly then finally disappeared completely. I decided to call Air Canada for verification but their system had imploded under call pressure as they had switched on-line systems. They could not even put me on hold.

I still had my original booking in my email so I printed it out and the next morning ready to leave I arrived at the airport with almost two hours spare to find out they had no plane flying to Mexico that day. Immediately anxiety set. I could feel this flood of stress created by the news. I could see it but in that moment despite trying to calm myself, focus on the breath and using the tools I had learned to help establish equanimity, it did not work.

I was directed to ticketing where there was a line of only two people, but I stood there impatient, angry and upset. In my state the wait seemed endless however eventually I got called to the wicket and a pleasant woman confirmed there was no plane that day but I had been rescheduled for tomorrow. I let go of my impulse to debate and complain. In fact I noticed an immediate shift in how I was feeling and as I began my journey back home I realized that my stress was caused by uncertainty and once that was cleared up I actually felt quite content to spend another day in rainy Vancouver. I did my best to see it as a gift and was quite productive which was a pleasant outcome. I did however write to the airline and expressed my concern that this it happened, and later they offered me 25% discount on my next flight.

The next day the lesson continued. The security line up was amazingly slow and I could feel tension building up. This time I was able to simply focus on breathing in and out and the inexorable line crept forward as I stayed calm and relaxed.

This was followed by a long haul through Mexican immigration but again the same strategy worked. Then the final test was clearing customs where I faced the longest line I have ever seen. This time I had a very irate, negative fellow traveller behind. The constant stream of negative comments and hostile energy was relentless.

The breath strategy was hard to hold on to and I tried sending him positive energy at the same time. Suddenly it felt calmer and I turned around to see him cheating the system and taking a short cut. Normally this would drive me crazy but I felt only relief. I think the words of the wonderful Persian proverb are a great reminder when equanimity is challenged, “This too shall pass”. In 25 minutes I was on my way, even missing my bus connection did not concern me, just arriving was such a joy.

I sense that learning equanimity is a great gift. Pema Chodren In her wonderful little book, “Comfortable with Uncertainty” teaches about equanimity as follow, “We practice catching ourselves when we feel attraction or aversion before it hardens into grasping or negativity.” I may not be there yet but I am heading in the right direction. As the great Sufi port Rumi suggested. “The real truth of existence is sealed until after many twists and turns of the road.”


The Soul’s Journey – Emotional Contagion

December 14, 2019

Recently I facilitated a small group who meet each month for spiritual support and guidance. We begin with a meditation and then each person checks in with something from their current story. One member shared her deep sense of loss and grief on the demise of a partner a year earlier.

The group does not interact during this sharing but save questions and comments until the end. On this occasion another person shared her how touched she was and launched into her own story of her own loss twenty years earlier.

I could feel a shift in the emotions of the group and thought I needed to try and moderate this so I asked a question of the person who seemed the most composed. Her response was to begin to cry. I realized then that the whole group had descended into grief.

For a brief moment I experienced a sense of overwhelment and sat back wondering what was the appropriate response? In this situation I have learned to take a few slow, steady breaths so for a moment I just sat awaiting inspiration and it came. The person who had accelerated this spiral of grief began to apologize for taking so much time sharing her old story. Then to my amazement every member of the group shifted from grief into caretaking her.

It afforded me the opportunity to talk about changes of state and that we all needed some tools or activities to manage our own feelings. It is not about repression or suppression but rather being able to shift from feelings to a more composed state. Exercise is an excellent way to create endorphins that help to calm anxiety. I find humour, walking in nature and beauty and sharing the story with someone can really help me shift.

The following day I began to explore the phenomenon of what I learned is called “emotional contagion”. Somewhat to my surprise this is an accepted psychological term and that most emotions can be transferred. I think we have all experienced being sucked into vortex by negative people and who hasn’t found themselves laughing without quite knowing why?

Recently in a podcast on Tapestry (a CBC program – a weekly exploration of spirituality, religion and the search for meaning) I listened to Dr. Steven Stosny talk about Headline Stress disorder and how people not only become more angry and resentful after being exposed to headline news, their feelings can be picked up by others. In couples counselling he finds his clients are more resentful and more angry after listening to the news.

When the next group came around I had an amazing example of both positive emotional contagion and shifting of state. The first person to share expressed her negativity towards Christmas as it reminds her of her partner who died only a couple of years previously. Once again I could feel the empathy of the group shifting. However at the end of her sharing she drew an angel card from the bowl on the table. It said “Flexibility” and her outrage was such that the whole group broke into laughter and the mood immediately shifted.

What popped into my head were the words of the Sufi poet hafiz “What is this precious love and laughter budding in our hearts? It is the glorious sound of a Soul waking up.” (interpreted by Daniel Ladinsky)