The Symbolic Depths

“For all those lines and circles, to me a mystery,

Eve pull down the apple, and give a taste to me,

If she could it would be wonderful.”

Cherry Tree; 10000 Maniacs

Human being are symbol-makers and symbol-interpreters. These lines and circles you are reading right now are nothing but symbols, created with a specific purpose for specific interpretation by our conscious minds. But what about our unconscious minds? How do they create and interpret symbols? How is this unconscious process brought to consciousness?

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Jesus says, “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Thus, He refutes blind working in nature. The deeper one searches, the more difficult it is to believe that so much as one word or symbol is accidental in its use or in its composition. Only a certain form can shield and carry onward a certain truth, or be the “key” to unlock a certain secret that nature hides, which may or may not be known to consciousness, although it is know in the unconscious. For example, Jung says, “Fishes frequently occur as symbols of unconscious contents.” Jesus spoke of fishes in connection with the kingdom of God – the fish was the earliest symbol associated with Him. Is this accidental? Jesus might have left this clue to indicate that His message reveals the contents of the unconscious, His own unconscious giving rise to and dictating use of the fish as symbol. It is difficult to believe that symbols are any more a matter of choice than the letters or words man uses in writing or speaking.

Ah the ICHTHUS! The Greek word for fish which also served as an acronym for Jesus Christ, God’s Son – Savior. Early Christians were said to draw the fish as a code-marking of their faith. According to Preston Harold, this is the surface manifestation of a much deeper understanding. As followers of Jesus’ Way, it seems inevitable that this particular symbol would be the one early Christians would use; they really had no other choice in the matter.

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Jesus also left the cross as symbol. Is it an accident that it appeared on the mathematical scene to denote the positive, the proton? Or that the form this symbol takes appeared also in an experiment which started the fusion of the hitherto separate disciplines of magnetism and electricity? In 1920, Hans Christian Oersted held a wire in which there was an electric current over a compass needle:

“…the needle rotated until it was at right angles to the wire…and when he reversed the direction of the current in the wire, the magnetic needle reversed its direction also, but again came to rest at right angles to the wire.”

The cross, thus drawn by needle and wire, gave rise to the branch of physics known as electromagnetism.

Could Jesus have known or realized anything about electromagnetic phenomena? His description of the opposing forces in the household, following His Equation of One, indicates that He understood like signs repel, opposites attract. Does He attempt to cast a clue also by posing the gifts of the Magi symbolically? This is to say, myrrh and frankincense are two amber substances; gold is a good conductor of electricity and in ground state there is one electron in the outermost energy level, a –1, and when this is removed the +1 ion results; the amber effect, as electrical phenomena was called, was known to exist before Jesus’ birth, but the attraction displayed by amber was long confused with the attraction that lodestones, natural magnets, show for iron, “a phenomenon that was known at least as early as the 6th century B.C.” Realization of the cross-action between the two forces of electricity and magnetism may have dictated the form His symbol must take.

And that brings us to the end of chapter 9. Beginning with Chapter 10 we start looking into Jesus’ miracles and healing ministry. There is some challenging material ahead; put on your thinking caps.

Until then, peace.

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Empathy Trumps Conscience

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Preston Harold tells us that over time, our empathy will begin to replace the role of our conscience:

If, in time, under evolution’s “psychic entropic” working, abuse and error should decrease, then empathy, not fear or conscience, would guide man into the paths of compassion and decency – that is, the voice in conscience in man must lessen as empathy takes over its role, governing action from a higher level of consciousness. In the Gospels the voice of conscience calling man to repentance comes through John the Baptist, whereas the voice of empathy, the Christ, speaks of abiding love and says: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

We discussed the identifying of John the Baptist with conscience in an earlier post here. Preston Harold continues that discussion:

The voice of conscience, John the Baptist, says of this voice of truth: “He must increase, but I must decrease…” The concept that conscience must in time lessen as evolution’s purpose is fulfilled may be a startling one, but [Robert] Ardrey’s words are also startling – he says: “…conscience as a guiding force in the human drama is one of such small reliability that it assumes very nearly the role of a villain….Conscience organizes hatred as it organizes love.” Jesus says of conscience – that is, of John the Baptist, it’s symbol – “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” In the kingdom within, conscience must have little part – does empathy take its place?

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“Conscience organizes hatred as it organizes love.” Quite a statement and an idea that has never crossed my mind! But thinking about it, I can understand. If my conscience tells me to take a particular side, I certainly may develop an aversion for the other. How many times do we find ourselves in “over and against” situations, whether it be religion, politics, or any other human endeavor? And how much energy is spent feeding this “over and against-ness” in our media, education, and professional lives?

Harold continues to explore empathy:

If a core of perfect empathy exists in the unconscious, it provides for man’s capacity to love others no matter how far they fall and to love his own soul whatever its hue. How many people have glimpsed in their dreams this inner realm that is utterly theirs?… As yet, psychologists offer no satisfactory explanation of a sublime self-love that draws the soul or ego-group together toward “home” – neither do philosophers. Both seem blind to all but lust. Francois, Duc de la Rochefoucauld describes man’s lust…: “All unknowingly it breeds, nourishes, rears a variety of affections and hatreds, some of them so monstrous that when it has brought them to light it fails to recognize or refuses to acknowledge them.” And so they are repressed – as psychologists have observed – but Love takes them in, reverses and reclothes them, makes them sufficient to re-enter the conscious domain and under life’s supreme law be redeemed.

And that does it for Chapter 6! We now move on to Chapter 7 where we will look in depth at the concept of the number One. Until then, peace.

Striving for Equilibrium: Pt. 2

Preston Harold continues the comparison between the psychic and the thermodynamic:

If thermodynamic equilibrium is possible in an isolated, ideal environment, the psychic equivalent may exist in man now, in a part of his unconscious.

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Eddington says: “A region in the deep interior of a star is an almost perfect example of thermodynamic equilibrium.” Not in the partitioned conscious domain, not in the id, an unbounded mystery, but in the “core” of the unconscious complete empathy could exist and be the “resonator” that sounds through man as truth’s prompting and at times gives him inexpressible, complete joy in life. In order to achieve “psychic equilibrium” or to have complete empathy, the “resonator” must have experienced the full of life’s good and evil.

Harold then gives us an example of how this is displayed in the teachings of Jesus:

Eddington describes “the principle of detailed balancing” which asserts “that to every type of process (however minutely particularized) there is a converse process, and in thermodynamical equilibrium direct and converse processes occur with equal frequency.” Jesus’ teaching indicates that there is a similar psychic operation which arises because the Authority in each man’s unconscious acts directly to forgive another’s transgression. In the Lord’s Prayer, the line: “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven…” indicates that a process goes on in the unconscious which demands a response with equal frequency in the conscious domain in order to maintain its equilibrium. The clue is cast in this line: “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…” for the world is not if – it is as. This projects the forgiving of transgression in the unconscious even as another commits it. Jesus follows the word if – if you do not forgive the trespasses of those who trespass against you, you cannot be forgiven your trespasses.

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And now he brings a bit of chemistry into the equation.

In chemist’s terms, one might paraphrase: if you do not forgive in consciousness what has been unconsciously forgiven, you are but “half-reacted” – you must respond in consciousness to the act that takes place in the unconscious or a schism is created in inner harmony. The concept here offered is that the Lord in each man is the equal of each other such One, and is devoid of will to exercise his power against His brother in destructive manner. Destructive, abusive acts stem from the ego-group and the Lord in man forgives these transgressions because he perceives that which each violence spent the constructive potential is increased in the lessening of lust, and because He knows Himself to be equally involved in all’s expression of good and evil, in good and evil doing in life’s conscious domain.

I very much enjoy this parallel of unforgiveness and “half-reaction.” To be whole we must fully forgive in our waking consciousness. Certainly easier said than done, but it is what we are “commanded” to do. Until next time, peace.

Mankind’s Inner Envoy

The true origins of the human being remain a mystery to this day.  Darwinists and materialist evolutionists using the scientific method are constantly making new discoveries and creating new theories, but their self-imposed materialism limits what they will conclude.  Religious creationists make literal the poetry and mystery of the scriptures to satisfy their own ultimately rational minds.  But the authors of scripture bear witness to a great mystery they call “God,” understanding that this mystery can never be fully probed by the rational mind. At the same time, the scriptures also witness to something in the human being that is leading it to a full revelation of the mystery of God and existence.  Preston Harold begins:

The idea that man has incorporated in his being from one-cell creature onward a knowing Authority-Ego in an unconscious domain may seem fantastic. But the concept that the unconscious may have played a role in man’s biological evolution from some point in the past to the present has been voiced.  Dr. von Franz writes… ‘The physicist Wolfgang Pauli has pointed out that, due to new discoveries, our idea of the evolution of life requires a revision that might take into account an area of interrelation between the Imageunconscious psyche and biological processes.  Until recently it was assumed that the mutation of species happened at random and that a selection took place by means of which the “meaningful,” well-adapted varieties survived, and the other disappeared.  But modern evolutionists have pointed out that the selections of such mutations by pure chance would have taken much longer than the known age of our planet allows.”

So if random chance and mutations can’t adequately answer the origins of the human or it’s ultimate purpose, what can at least lead us in the right direction?

God-sense voicing itself in man insists that something other than chance had brought about the housing of his soul: “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it…”

ImageMan’s evolutionary journey could come of his having to know all being and form in order to be representative of the tree of life itself.  The last and most highly developed of all life forms, man yet possesses a sense of being before creation was.  This sense tells him that all he partakes of is the flesh of God, coming into being before him to prepare the way, and that everything that lives is living through God’s being, even as he, himself, is.

Harold says that because of this sense, the human being practices theophagy, a ritual of “feeding on a god, or God.” In the Christian Communion rite, this ritual enfolds the power, glory, art, and grace of God, of life. In the Gospel of John, at the Last Supper Jesus says,

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit… Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches.” 

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 Harold ponders these words of Jesus during the Last Supper:

Jesus, as symbol of Son of man – which is to say, as symbol of Adam become one with his knowing Authority within – indicates that man represents in his being the whole of the tree of life which his consciousness longs to know, and the vine of it is still growing – “I” go on to prepare a place from which “ye” spans of knowing may branch out higher in every direction while the a priori “cell of Father-being,” love and truth in action within each one, acts as a husbandman: truth purges and prunes, love restores and is fruitful. But toward what is the vine growing? And how is man’s growth accomplished?

 Provocative questions indeed! Let’s see where they lead. Until next time, peace…

The Value and Shortcomings of Modern Psychology

To finish up Chapter 2, our author explores the limits and future of psychology when it comes to the unconscious…

Today, existential psychotherapists tend to refute the concept of man’s unconscious because the doctrine became a “convenient blank check on which any causal explanation can be written…”  ImageBut Dr. Rollo May writes:  “…this is the ‘cellar’ view of the unconscious, and objection to it should not be permitted to cancel out the great contribution that the historical meaning of the unconscious had in Freud’s  terms… the far-reaching enlargement of personality, which is its real meaning, should not be lost… I would propose… to agree that being is at some point indivisible, that unconsciousness is part of any given being…”

So where do psychology and religion coincide?

And today at least one psychiatrist begins to relate Jesus’ description of the inner realm to man’s unconscious domain.  Dr. Stanley Blanton writes: “Trust and believe in the hidden power within you.  A psychiatrist might say, ‘Have faith in your unconscious.’  A minister might say, ‘Have faith in God.’ Personally, I see no conflict between the two ideas.  Indeed, they may well be the same idea, expressed differently.  After all, it was the founder of Christianity who said that ‘the kingdom of heaven is within you.'”

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One thing psychology (along with religion) hasn’t recognized yet is Preston Harold’s concept of Jesus as the breaker of the Messianic mold…

Dr. Blanton does not appear to grasp the implication in his statement, just as Schweitzer apparently fails to grasp the implication of his – that the Messiah mold is broken, and this as aftermath of Jesus’ work.  Jung, too, reveals a finding of inestimable importance, but does not appear to have realized its significance.  ImageAccording to Progroff, Jung saw that: “…some variation of the image of Jesus Christ is inevitably the center around which the symbol of individuation is expressed.  ….from a psychological point of view, the authenticity of the Christ symbol derives from the fact that it expresses the Self in symbolic form.”

Clouding this discovery is the orthodox Messianic concept of Jesus which prohibits Jung’s grasping the idea that Jesus’ mission was to make Himself a symbol of the Self in each man, a physical substitute for the Ego, becoming the unifying principle that promises reunion with self-nature itself, for Progoff says that Jung does not imply that “Jesus is any the less real as Christ.”  The Messianic question is bypassed.

So we all seem to have a blind spot that keeps us from recognizing that from Jesus’ own perspective, His mission was to make Himself obsolete as a Messiah come from without to save.  But He does save as much as we recognize Him as a outward sign of an inward reality, an inward grace, and that inward reality/ grace is the gift of our “I.”

How can “I” be revealed as the Christ of God in man?

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O Israel, if you would but listen to me!

There shall be no strange god among you;

You shall not bow down to a foreign god,

I am the Lord your God… -Psalm 81:8-10

“I,” the Authority-Ego is no stranger, is not an outsider or foreigner to the ego-group, “Israel,” although this One is not committed to the precepts of the conscious domain upon which “Israel” operates.

We finish up with a few observations about the role of psychology from the last paragraphs of chapter 2…

Today, psychologists, become in many ways a modern priesthood, tend to guide men around these precepts.  But some protest this: “There is a fear of the unconscious, that is of the life-force itself, from Imagewhich we all seem to recoil [Rank].  The apparent therapeutic effects of those methods that proceed in terms of ‘analytic hyperconsciousness’… seem to ‘work’ only because they avoid the shaking contact with the depths of the psyche that is the source of their original fear, and would also be the source of creative healing if the contact were permitted [Progoff].”

In the words of the Psalmist, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”  He who has experienced the depths of the unconscious approaches with an educated respect and this is as it should be – all psychologists acknowledge the danger attendant upon probing these depths.  But this does not mean that contact with the Authority within should be avoided, for: “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth him that fear him.  For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

Rank saw that psychology does not or cannot give man the faith he needs to make him whole, that for the most part psychology is capable only of explaining, not of believing – it “was produced from the neurotic type and corresponds to it.”  But psychology’s explanations are valuable.  Through them man may discover what it is that he fears and then come to understand the error, the neurosis, that is seeping through his civilization.

And with that we are ready to move on to Chapter 3!  See you there.  Until then, peace…

I and Thou

We are now nearing the end of Chapter 2, and Harold  brings us to the subject of Self-estrangement, which is the experience of the separation of the conscious and the unconscious, and how it may be healed.  He begins:

ImageAs Whyte points out, it is not the separation of consciousness and the unconscious realms “but their unification as aspects of one complex continuous activity which is now held to be primary.”  Jesus’ words indicate that man’s psychic division is as a cleaving, that the divided state is only “as if,” that being is indivisible.  He says that Son of man is: “…as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.”  ImageThis one goes on to prepare the way, apart from consciousness, but it is not lost to its love of life: the ego-group.  “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

The Authority-Ego gives the ego-group authority to do their assigned work, while it also commands the porter to watch.  I wonder who plays the role of the porter?  The super-ego?  Peter, one of the elect, as the recognizer of the coming of Christ in man?  The problem with these answers is the porter is supposed to “watch,” which is synonymous with being “awake.”  We learned a few posts ago that I-consciousness, which coincides with super-ego, cannot always be awake; it is not a constant as is the Authority-Ego which neither slumbers or sleeps.  So the role of porter will remain a mystery for now.  

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Now on to how Self-estrangement may be healed…

The idea of Self-separation and Self-estrangement has long been voiced by man.  Robert deRopp writes that the meaning of the word yoga, “is similar to that of the English word, to yoke.  A yoke unites two beings…” – the separated self, jiva, and the origin, atman, “the One seen behind the many.”  The anxiety generated by a sense of Self-estrangement has also long been recognized.  The discourse between Arjuna and Krishna heals Self-estrangement, and so do the words of the Hebrew prophets, as though consciousness speaks to the One in saying: “Whom have I in heaven but thee?”  And the One speaks to consciousness in saying: “…and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.”

Just because we immediately experience the separation of I/thou as a reality of our lives does not mean that it actually is…

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The sense of himself as both “I” and “thou” which is operative in everyone does not indicate that the unity of one’s being is an illusion.  As the ego-group contemplates the God-head, it must ascribe to the Authority in its life the “thou” or moving role while it remains “I” at rest.  Because consciousness may center itself in or around the seat of Self in being, one may “Be still and know that I am God…” that the “Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”  As the ego-Imagegroup calls itself by the name, “I,” the Authority-Ego becomes “Thou, O Lord” because it can in no way become a part of the personality, a self-image in the group.  

I like the idea here of the ‘thou’  as having a moving role.  This supports the reading of the Hebrew “I AM that I AM” as also being future tense: “I WILL BE what I WILL BE.” 

Jesus’ words with regard to the kingdom of God that are translated “within you” may also be translated, “among you” – but the difference in possible translation is of no concern when the ego-group is recognized to be myriad selves and the kingdom, seat of “I-being,” is recognized to be in the midst of “you,” among “you,” within your pluralistic being, although it is not any one of “your” conscious selves that acts a part to make up personality.

This recognition of our ego-group as a myriad of selves, the truth that we have no actual one ego ruling our lives but are made up of many egos vying for position, THIS is the beginning of healing our Self-estrangement:

Until man understands that he has no ego as one-entity in his conscious domain, he cannot begin to understand that the one-entity within him is Lord: Authority emanating from the unconscious, master of both domains, and through its work the destructive impulses are eliminated as the good and evil of his own world are brought to face reality, truth, life as it is: all held in love.  All that Jesus says of the unconscious indicates that it is in no way static: it is ever “coming” to consciousness and thus it insures man’s becoming in time.

ImageWhat Harold is saying here is exactly what the great rascal-sage Georges Gurdjieff taught as the basis for his “Fourth Way,” or, if you like, “Esoteric Christianity.”  From his book, “Views from the Real World:”

TRY TO UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT YOU USUALLY CALL “I” IS NOT I; there are many “I’s” and each “I” has a different wish. Try to verify this. You wish to change, but which part of you has this wish? Many parts of you want many things, but only one part is real. It will be very useful for you to try to be sincere with yourself. Sincerity is the key which will open the door through which you will see your separate parts, and you will see something quite new. You must go on trying to be sincere. Each day you put on a mask, and you must take it off little by little.

Gurdjieff says the healing of Self-estrangement begins when we are sincere enough to want to understand the reality of our situation.  When we are, we can then begin “The Work” and allow Authority-Ego to take more control over our lives.

We’re getting close to finishing Chapter 2.  It’s just around the bend; hang in there!  Until next time, peace…

Three Realms of the Unconscious: Part 2

We now look into our pre and subconsciousnesses and how they were defined by Jesus…

Preconsciousness may be readily defined: Freud conceived it to be that which is latently conscious but may be readily called to consciousness.  Jesus delineated this level: eyes that see, ears that hear.  Subconsciousness represents a state of unconsciousness that Jesus referred to as seeing and yet unseeing, as hearing and yet unhearing.  ImageThe subconscious is the lowest stratum of consciousness which…contains knowledge that has not been consciously catalogued because the knowledge has been stored automatically…  The answers it hands to consciousness incorporate everything that comes as stimuli, and everything that has been a part of environment or experience, for nothing escapes it.  

So our subconscious is a repository of all our experiences.  Even though we may not remember  a particular experience, it is lurking there, never “forgotten” by it.  It is always present and can be called or brought to consciousness when looking for an answer…

The subconscious is both as old as the man and as new as the instant, Imagenow, when the answer it gives represents a new analogued sum of existence, wherein the whole of one’s experience has been computed, and this sum prompts him to specific response.  The subconscious, then, is the seat of “my-being.”  It is “me” in terms of  the sum of “my” experience.  

What doesn’t lurk in the subconscious is anything that we have NOT experienced.  Harold explains:

But the unconscious is the seat of “I-being” which is the governing factor in one’s life because “I” has knowledge of what has been experienced and what has not been experienced, of what has been consciously catalogued and what has been unconsciously catalogued, of what has been repressed and must sooner or later be faced in consciousness.

Our “I” is aware of what we have done and what we haven’t done, as it is aware of our glorious possibilites.  But is also aware of all the hurts and failures we repress and would rather not deal with.  Just because we don’t like particular members of our ego-group doesn’t mean we can just set those aspects aside and they will disappear with no consequence.  Harold continues…

Jesus says that not all who knock shall enter Authority-Ego’s realm.  Under certain conditions the door is closed, and there shall be Image“weeping and gnashing of teeth” when you see “yourselves*” thrust out.  These words pose the concept that psychic disorder ensues when repressions, which are painful self-images, return to the conscious domain after gaining strength and undergoing a metamorphosis in the unconscious. Because these selves have known the unconscious and its Authority, they think themselves blameless and in good standing.  “We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.”  They do not recognize themselves to be pain or error incarnate.  When the time comes that repressions must be faced in consciousness, the “door” to the unconscious must be shut, and this psychic act generates the anxiety, depression, and despair that accompany the individual’s awareness of Self-estrangement.

*read “yourselves” here as the repressed egos of the ego-group

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I am not sure how repressions “gain strength and undergo a metamorphosis” in the unconscious, nor do I know why the door must be “shut.”  But I do understand that our repressions must be dealt with in the light of day if they are to be overcome and reintegrated healthily into our lives.  I suppose shutting the door gives no recourse for these repressions to become unconscious once again, and we are left to deal with the reality with which we are confronted.  It is the only way forward.

The last quote above finishes with the concept of Self-estrangement which we will begin exploring in the next post.  Until then, peace…