The Word

It is as if the poet could still sense, beneath the words of contemporary speech and in the images that crowd in upon his imagination, the ghostly presence of bygone spiritual worlds, and possessed the capacity to make them come alive again. As
Gerhart Hauptmann says: “Poetry is the art of letting the
primordial word resound through the common word.”

From Carl Jung’s Symbols of Transformation (Collected Works Volume 5)

The Gift of Neurosis

This is a much needed point of view in our success obsessed, performative, impression managing culture.

I am struck by the overlaps between Jung’s thought on the journey into the psychological underworld and the writings of the great mystics on the journey into the desert or the Dark Night of the Soul.

…”depression is not necessarily pathological – it often foreshadows a renewal of the personality or a burst of creativity…”

This superb 2 part talk by Jungian analyst Sharon Martin is well worth a listen if you have the time and the inclination.

Go on, spend some time with Saturn. You owe it to yourself and if you persist and listen to Part 2 that will make sense.

An Angle on Persecution

From a fairly modern commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

I’ve known what it is, from time to time, to be happy as a pig in shit!

Gets me to thinking about the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Gospel of St Luke Ch 15) and his return from the pig sty to his true identity as a Son of God.

So long as the experiencer is falsely identified with the object
of experience, we cannot know the Atman, our real nature.
We remain in bondage, believing ourselves to be the slaves of

There is a story, writes Swami Vivekananda, that the king of the gods, Indra, once became a pig, wallowing in mire; he had a she-pig, and a lot of baby pigs, and was very happy.

Then some gods saw his plight, and came to him, and told him,
“You are the king of the gods, you have all the gods under your command. Why are you here?” But Indra said, “Never mind; I am all right here; I do not care for heaven, while I have this sow and these little pigs.”

The poor gods were at their wits’ end. After a time, they decided to slay all the pigs, one after another. When all were dead, Indra began to weep and mourn. Then the gods ripped his pig-body open and he came out of it, and began to laugh when he realized what a hideous dream he had had; he, the king of the gods, to have become a pig, and to think that pig-life was the only life! Not only so, but to have wanted the whole universe to come into
the pig-life!

The Atman, when it identifies itself with nature, forgets that it is pure and infinite. The Atman does not love, it is love itself. It does not exist, it is existence itself. The Atman does not know, it is knowledge itself. It is a mistake to say that the Atman loves, exists or knows. Love, existence and knowledge are not the qualities of the Atman, but its essence. When they get reflected upon something, you may call them the qualities of that something. They are not the qualities but the essence of the Atman, the Infinite Being, without birth or death, established in its own glory. It appears to have become so degenerate that if you approach to tell it, “You are not a pig,” it begins to squeal and bite.’

This pig-which-is-not-a-pig can, on occasion, become a
very dangerous animal. The power of tamas in our nature is so
great that we hate to be disturbed. We loathe any new idea,
especially if it implies that we shall have to make some change
in our own lives. And so, when the spiritual teachers come to
tell us that we are not pigs but God, we are quite apt to persecute
and crucify them.

How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali – (Translated with a commentary by Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood (p. 81-82) Vedanta Press 2007

Ramakrishna’s Well

A beautiful little parable by the great Hindu sage, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-1866).

It’s a great illustration of the purpose of story-telling.

Ramakrishna used to tell this story: `Three men went walking in a field. In the middle of the field there was a place surrounded by a high wall. From within this wall came the sounds of music; instruments were playing and voices sang. The men were charmed by it and wanted to see what was happening. But there was no door anywhere in the wall. What were they to do?

One of the men found a ladder somewhere and climbed to the top of the wall, while the other two waited below. When the man who was on top of the wall saw what was happening inside, he was beside himself with joy. He even forgot to tell the two below what he saw; he uttered a loud laugh and jumped down inside.

The other two exclaimed: “A fine friend he is! He didn’t tell us what he saw. We’ll have to look for ourselves.” So the second man climbed the ladder. And, like the first man, he looked over the wall and burst out laughing with joy, and jumped.

So what was the third man to do? He too climbed the ladder and looked over the wall and saw what was on the other side. It was like a market of happiness, given free to all comers. His first thought was to jump down and join in the rejoicing. But then he
said to himself: “If I do that, no one outside will ever know that this place of joy exists. Am I to be the only one to find it?”

So he forced his mind away from the sight, and he came down the ladder and began telling everyone he met: “In there is the market of happiness. Come with me – let’s enjoy it together.” So he took everybody with him, and they all took part in the rejoicing.’

Ramakrishna and his Disciples by Christopher Isherwood (Ch 6)

The Tree of Knowledge

What earthly good does knowing do? 

When I think I am good 
at knowing, and there are
times I do, it turns me into 
nothing but a talking book. 

Of what use has knowing been to me?

I am nothing but cacophony,
written and re-written in 
the echoes and re-echoes 
of those who talked before.

Knowing has not served me well at all.

(PS Been doing a lot of reading recently – I need a detox)

Fritz on Nothing

It’s an oldie but a goodie.

It seems ridiculous but it’s more than common in spiritual circles. Even humility (especially humility?) can become a farcical, competitive game.

I remember it well!

Mea culpa.

There is an old story about this: A rabbi is standing in front of his congregation and says, “I was such a good rabbi; now I am nothing. I’m really nothing. God, I was such a good rabbi and I am nothing.”

And so the cantor, the singer, picks it up. He says, “God, I was such a good cantor and I am nothing. I’m really nothing.”

A little tailor in the congregation picks it up. “God, I was such a good tailor and I am nothing, really nothing.”

And the rabbi says to the singer, “Who does he think he is to think he’s nothing?”

Fritz Perls in Gestalt Therapy Verbatim (P. 230)