The Bridge Home

the bridge home


When the holidays are upon us, the bridge home seems to be a more rickety bridge than usual.  Family life can encompass the best of days and the worst of days.  Remembering that what we fear in life is losing control of our selves, family can induce a loss of self and soul that has us wanting to scurry for the first rabbit hole that we find. It can also hold us in its embrace when the sorrow is too much to handle, and we are overwhelmed with grief.

Home for the holidays with Barbara Stanwyck  living in a perfect New England home, snow bound with a horse drawn sleigh at the front door to bring you into town for the last minute pound of butter or canned milk, was too pretty.  It creates in us a longing for something that does not really exist.  It always made me ask as a kid, “where do they go to the bathroom?”  You never saw in those idyllic movies where and of the “crap” happened.

christmas in connecticut

Life in 21st century America is a dollar driven life with things and events symbolizing an upward mobility and a sense of abundance that is not on the horizon for most Americans any more.  We have what we have, and we have to find a way to be content with that because the upward mobility american-dream-thing is a rapidly vanishing fantasy that is as equally unpalatable as Barbara’s dream in a 1950 Christmas in Connecticut movie.

Even our beloved states of longing seem to vanish with the advent of capitalism replacing democracy as not only the economic system of the american people, but as the form of government and the types of lives that are permitted under this new umbrella of global aristocracy. We have become income driven–not values driven.

As Americans we inherited a transcendental philosophy that was born out of the writings of Emerson, Alcott, and the 19th century Concord Literary Society that became know as the 1st revolutionaries in American Literature.  That period of American History became engrained in us, representing a value that was greater that what money could buy.  The early Transcendentalist saw the natural elements of life as the template to a free and loving society.  It used the natural to remind us of life and death.  It used humanity as the test center that attempted to illustrate that a society, a neighborhood was greater than the sum of its parts.

Communities and families died and suffered and lived and enjoyed life together.  The small town, dirt-road, trails always led to somewhere you wanted to be.  After all it was the the trotted road the got the wear.  Families are pretty much all that is left of this inter-dependent way of life; and families are hanging on by a thread as the holy dollar calls the older brother to Cleveland, and the younger sister to Huston and the parents had to retire to Florida as the Massachusetts economy became too expensive to purchase on a fixed-income.  So middle sister, who was fortunate enough to find a husband and a job in the home town, is now the only member of the family left in the home town.

Is it still home town when everyone you know has moved on or moved away?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is only food and companionship and love that make it happen.  It is not a commercial holiday.  Except for food, the stores have to be clamoring for your Christmas dollar there is no Thanksgiving gift.  And I am grateful for that fact.  Department stores and Big Box stores could starve to death on Thanksgiving and I would have one more things to be grateful for.

I want to make a wish today.  I want to wish that everyone who reads this essay will find a way to promote this message to everyone they know and meet.  I want this holiday to stay free of commercial broadcasting and that there will never be such a thing a thanksgiving music..  I want everyone to be as persistent as they can be to call families together for this once a year gratitude day.

I want the bridge home for Thanksgiving to be free and easy and spontaneous and not filled with expectations.  I want every one who wants to be home for the holiday to be able to get there.  I wish that this message get read by people who are just on the verge of wanting to get home to be spurred homeward by the sincerity and forgiveness that this holiday promotes.


Happy Gratitude Day, 2013

Charlestown, RI 02813


my prayer

my prayer

my prayer is to linger with you, at the end of the day….my prayer and the answer you give, may they both be the same


There are moments in life, foxhole moments when i delight in my boy-hood faith.  Despite that fact that those early years were characterized by a belief in a God that can no longer exist for me, I am nonetheless, gratified when I find myself praying.  I no longer need a God to pray to.  My prayers are a meditation of sorts that help me to resolve almost any issue that I come up against.  I have found that the little Buddhist training that I have goes a long way to helping me out of the rabbit hole when I fall into it.

Like Alice, the rabbit hole holds no answers only tremendous chaos and confusion…the queen of hearts and the cheshire cat, and the mad hatter run around letting Alice know that nothing, nothing is like it use to be in the light of day…the darkness, the location of darkness, is a hole that deludes  our sense of reality and demands of us that we believe in hopelessness.  Sadness, ill health and other forms of depressing thought cloud our ability to see our reasoning selves.  The reasoning self and the heart that beats with intuition are eclipsed by huge feelings that give us the idea that the Joy that resides in side is gone from us.

Joy lives in us and we either allow it to manifest, or we are too troubled to see that it is not gone, it is eclipsed by, big feelings…have patience with yourself and be persistent in your search for you internal gladness.  And if you need to coax it along…list your gratitude regardless of how insignificant  they appear to be next to your fears….gratitude always aims for gladness

The Issue of the Conflict Within

The Issue:
The sound of my own voice resonates inside my consciousness in a way that helps me to determine that I am alive.  It is not as if i really need proof of this fact, but the condition of my humanity and the experience of where and how I live my life within the context of the larger or the greater universe have always given me a a sense that though I know that I am here, I can not help but to wonder if there is also a there.
As I move internally towards the voices that i hear inside my head, and they do differentiate from the sounds that i hear outside of me–the cars, the alarms, the noisy hum of the refrigerator, even the slight annoying hum of a light bulb all remind me that there is a world that exist outside of the inside of my consciousness.
But, it is the internal voices that really give me the direction that i need to search for the other place that is the not me.  The existence of a spiritual life above and beyond my soul or myself is only slightly visible from the perspective of myself.  It is there enough so that generations of ancestors have searched among the primordial oozes looking for proof that an existence beyond my human existence lives someplace and that I probably exist within that larger context that is beyond my own consciousness.
As I wander though the internal world that I call my life, I am aware of a deep connection to things that make up my world.  I am aware of the blue sky and the milky while sky and the turbulent dark grey sky of a stormy day.  I am aware that my consciousness only stretches out so far before i can not longer see the horizon.  I am aware that life has a deeper and a more substantial meaning, but it escapes me when I try to touch this more meaningful meaning to life.
I grow to understand that my egoic self is a small corner of the wider consciousness that it lives within; but I also become aware that even my wider consciousness exist in an even wider consciousness; and that there may be universes within the ever expanding universe that I have come to know through the art of science.  Here I am willing to acknowledge that there is a power greater than me and suddenly I begin to wonder if there is power greater than the power that is greater than me.  How many magnifications of consciousness are out there beyond my grasp.
I love the story about the mouse and mathematics.  Noam Chomsky tells it in one of his many books.  To the ordinary house mouse the idea that mathematics exist is so far beyond its capacity to comprehend that we immediately get that there is no way to train or teach a mouse that mathematics exist.  Yet I know that even though the mouse does not get it, in my world which is essentially the same universe that the mouse lives in, mathematics does, indeed, exist.  So what stops me from thinking that there may be concepts out there that exist in my universe that are beyond my ability to comprehend in the same way that the mouse can never get mathematics, might there be a consciousness that is out there in my world that is beyond my ability to comprehend.
We have been involved with the study of human consciousness long enough to understand that we once believed that the sun revolved around the earth and that it was flat and not round; and there was a period in time before Caravaggio when light could not be painted onto a canvas.  There was a time not so long ago that people could be slaughtered and tortured for believing in anything less that a literal interpretation of the Bible.  There was a period in time, not so many years ago when 99% of the people had no capacity for reading language and perhaps only some 10,000 years ago when language was even invented as a way to communicate from one human to another.
When we look back at the passage of time, we are but a speck in the cosmology of existence.  The entire human race is merely a speck in the evolution of the planet’s multi-billion year history.  The idea of time itself is nothing more than a relatively recent commodity. So, when we begin to be interested in our own history, I mean in the history of our individual being, we are tampering with such a speck of matter and time that our insignificance is daunting.  This does not mean however, that we ought not be interested in what our internal world has to tell us.  For all we know our internal history may have a longitudinal quality to it that rivals the longitudinal history of the universe outside of ourselves.
As we look internally for answers to questions that have plagued man forever, we begin to get a glimpse of the fact that we really do not know all that we know.  There are very few facts that stand up to the eventual test of science.  The sleep of the world is being perpetually awakened by mysterious stirrings within our consciousness that prompt us to investigate facts that turn into legend or myth when they are placed under the microscope.  The microscope and the telescope each have there limitations, neither go far enough or come close enough to satisfy once and for all any of our mysteries.  We simply do not have the width and breadth of consciousness necessary to even ask the right questions.  Therefore, like the mouse and mathematics we can not begin to understand the mysteries that are so far beyond the capacity of any scope that we have to remain tethered to the few threads that we have that imply we know very little about the universes inside or outside of us.
Christian monasteries and Muslim and Jewish temples and Buddhist teachings all come to a very ineffective conclusion about what we need to know in order to live out our speck of time and history.  There is a wish among we humans that something will become an answer, but each answer only opens new doors to be examined and leads us each time to more and more spaciousness both inside our minds and outside of the walls of human consciousness.
Given the vastness of eternity and the speck that we are within that vast eternity what can we realistically expect from life?  Are there ways to position our thoughts so that we can be somewhat more accurate about scoping out the extremities of both the internal and the external worlds that we have come to understand thus far in the evolution of the human condition?
I like to think that there are ways of living life that are more useful than others.  I am not talking about being of use to the planet like a scientist might be when discovering that certain carbon emissions are ruining the ozone layer, or even useful in such a way as to construct a philosophy or a religion that assists us in not murdering each other as we aim for the last few drops of water or oil that we are squeezing from the shale beneath the surface of the earth.  These of course have there place and their usefulness, but neither science nor art will give us the answer that most of us are looking for.
So, what are we looking for?  Sometimes i think that we are always only looking for God.  Perhaps this notion of God is the furthest most point in our consciousness that includes the extremities of what we know about and also include the reach just beyond these extremities to that next thing which we do not even know exist yet.  The idea of God may well be the most exciting creation that man has discovered to date.  God may well be the mathematics to the mouse.  All the mysteries, all that we do not understand, including all that we do not even know we do not know–the convenient Word for all of this
may well be the word–God.
In the beginning there was the word.  I think that that is where it started.  And to the current limited resources that we have, it well may be the very extent to which we can go.  Are we really only just searching for the unknown, the ever expanding unknown.  Do we always place ourselves at the furthest most point of our individual existence and look out or in from that perspective and wonder.  Wonderment is a delightful experience.  When we see it in a child or a puppy or any young creature, we watch with amazement as it learns in front of us to solve the problem of walking or standing or talking.  We see an eagerness that includes a kind of vitality that we love to watch.  Creation of any kind brings about a joy in life that allows us to stand as tall as we are able to and to say to the universe, “look at me, see spot run, see spot go!”
The very elementary aspects of learning are the vital signs of life searching for life.  The enthusiasm with which we see spot run is the same enthusiasm that created the wheel as well as the atomic bomb.  As we mix the elements of life together, i  believe that coming to terms with the authentic self, the wandering, floundering self is the greatest meaning that we can give to life.  Be it spent in a monastery or a prison, the search for who am I is the same search as who is god.  The scoping out of who I am bring me closer to the mysteries, the all that is unknown, the great void that exists just outside the reach of my consciousness.  And that is all that is ever really expected of a human life.  As Henry James put it, “the rest is the madness of Art.”
The awakening is never encouraged by simplicity, or by serenity.  The awakening is the result of a fall.  The awakening comes about on the heals of genuine sadness, awful pain, terrible news or some natural calamity that occurs just because that is the nature on life on earth.  The patients who I work with never come in to see me because they have a great life and want to make it better, they come in to see me at the time of a desperate consequence, a death, a suicide, a murder, or an illness of a child or the end of a love affair, the end of a relationship.  People seem to do very well when they are doing well. They are capable of marching to the same marching orders that they received years ago as long as nothing interrupts the tempo that they have grown accustomed to.
It is an encounter with darkness that either brings about an awakening or further casts that person into a deep well of depression.  Depression is the result of an encounter with life that has grown sour.  Depression occurs when a terrible thing has happened and the person find himself unable to cope with the terrible thing.  Depression is never caused by the terrible thing, it is caused by not coping with the terrible thing.  There are countless books and countless television shows that delineate the process of depression.  What i am interested in, in this this essay, is not the fall from which a person does not get up, but the fall that produces within the person an awakening to the internal life that might have been previously ignored because thing were just going too well.
When I was first starting my analysis, i remember telling my analyst that I had a good childhood.  I was brought up in a poor family but it it was a family that had good values and deep pockets when it came to compassion.  I always had what I needed and many of the things that i simply wanted, like a shiny new English bike with skinny tires and three speeds and a leather seat.  My analyst responded with something that i thought at the time was very strange, he said,  “I feel sorry for you. It will be more difficult for you to undergo this analysis because you will resist knowing your darker nature.”
It turns out he was right.  My love affair with my good grandmother and my hard working parents made it nearly impossible to understand suffering.  As the years went on and my losses, my inevitable losses, began to accumulate, I found I had little coping skills for even the slightest inconveniences in life.  Still today I rage at the dying of the light.  I still want the life that I had when my child like naivety protected me from all that was bad and evil in the world.
I sprang forth into adult hood with a vengeance and an arrogance that had me believing in my rage as a sword of justice.  I took it upon myself to discover the slightest injustices and went after those wrongs in people as if I was spider man himself with the joker in his sights.  My introduction to loss and life was met with a crusader like passion.  I believed in my righteousness and my righteousness gave way to a grandiosity and an arrogance that nearly cost me my life and in the process broke the spirits of people near me that I loved.
My awakening was not easy on me, but it was cruel on others around me.  I fought my awakening with christian like vengeance.  It was only the extreme sorrow of seeing the pain on the faces of people that I loved that eventually helped me to crawl up from the depth of the pit that had swallowed up my soul.
As we wander through this life amid a series of good fortunes and horrible luck we are struck by the passion that a fall has on our consciousness.  So mush stronger is the influence of pain on our motivation than the influence of pleasure.  As we careen though life sometimes hurting sometimes loving, the real sense of who we are comes more into focus as we discover that we have an inner eye that has the capacity to watch the machinations of the ego.  When it finally occurs to us that not only are we capable of doing something, but we are capable of watching ourselves do something, and are capable at that same time to cast a judgement on that action; only then do we begin to understand the deeper influences of the instincts, those ancestral callings from the wilds of our inner workings.  It may be a collective consciousness or it may be a collection of historic facts and events that accumulate to an awakening of sorts; but what ever it is, it is the most powerful experience we can have.  Pain so great that we think we can not bear it–that is the ancient call of the wild that finally beckons us to resolve our conflict.
Much has been written about the usefulness of the persona, the egoic self; and of course, we can not grow up without an ego guiding us and collecting information that we need to have to defend ourselves in a world that can be hostile to our lives.  But in the same way that we eventually grow up to distance ourselves from our parents, and we begin to have thoughts of our own about how we want to proceed in life, we also need to begin the final phase of individuation by distancing ourselves from our own egoic personas.  The move away from taking commands from the ego and following the rules and the regulations adopted by the growing ego, is the final stage in awakening to the wider consciousness that has us connecting with the more cosmic elements of being alive and being human.  This is the only way to the divine.  That we can have an individual relationship with the cosmic greatness and that we do not need an intermediary to guide us is a true religion.  The spiritual well-being of our souls can not be discovered by tweaking the ego further.  Our soul is simply not our self.
A question that arises as we talk about this egoic drive and the default position of the ego has to do with the “how” of this mechanism.  How do we move our ego aside sufficiently so that we are not eclipsing the deeper and the wider instincts of our consciousness?  How do we take something as intangible as our own ego and move it aside?  First we need to acknowledge that the concept of the ego is a bit like the concept of time.  We have invented it as a way to segment something that is otherwise too amorphous to comprehend (something the mouse has not yet learned).  Time only exist as a convenient way for us to allocate our attention in a orderly way.  In actuality time is a purely abstract condition that works for the purpose it was designed, but is not in fact a reality of the physical world.  The ego works in a similar manner.  When Freud assigned the word “ego” to the concepts that he was working with, he did so in order to segment different aspects of the psychic apparatus so that we could talk about the processes that interplay in a dynamic fashion inside of our heads.  In fact there is no more reality to the ego than there is to time.
Given this fact it feels somewhat strange to begin talking about moving it around when it fact there is no “it” to move.  Yet, however insufficient the arbitrary concept is, it does allow us to assign words to certain functions that we subjectively know are taking place within our consciousness.  It is clear to all humans that words are being used internally to communicate with ourselves as surely as words are being used to communicate with another person or another organism.  The word order, the rules that are constructed entirely out of words exist inside of our minds and give us commands and remind us of things and circulate internally in such a way that we can be creative and come up with brand new sets of words — constructructions into phrases that have probably never been used before.  If I say that colorless green ideas sleep furiously, you know that I am speaking a phrase that is grammatically correct, but the words create an entirely non-sensecical sequence.  Then mean nothing.  But inside my head if I say the words, “shut-up, don’t say anything, you are only going to get yourself in trouble if you say that out loud,” you instantly understand under what conditions those words might be spoken to ones self.
So, who is speaking to whom?
I have the linguistic capacity to speak words to myself.  I can convince myself to do something or to not do something.  I can do this because I have the internal capacity to speak to myself in much the same way that I might try to speak to another person.  But, when we stop to think of this process we are left with a quizzical inquiry.  Who is speaking to whom and what is the purpose of language when It is contained narcissistically within the confines of our own head?  In the practice of psychoanalysis it is a common theme to assume that all conflict originates from a conflict within.  When we begin to look at the ambivalent ways in which we can be of two minds about something we are closer to understanding that we possess a very active divided mind and we might even be able to make use of some of the early Freudian concepts like the ego and the id.  We can assign one side of the conflict (say something) to the ego and we can assign the other side of the conflict (don’t say anything) to the id.  We are essentially making use of the duality of our opinion and internally tossing around the pros and cons of what position we will take.
The importance here of recognizing this duality lies in the fact that the duality represents two arenas of the brain that have two distinct modes of operation and two distinct purposes.  The relatively newer part of the brain, the ego, has been commissioned to defend and protect the persona.  In other words the defenses of the ego are there to protect the integrity of the ego.  The id or the more instinctual self is an older part of the brain and it is commissioned to operate essentially out of the drives basic to survival of not only the individual but the specie as well.  So the ego has a place in society as an arbiter of good will, but the instinct has the nose for sniffing out potential danger much greater to the organism that simply maintaining social accord.
Our inner workings establish themselves in compartmentalized or segmented fashions. We can not really claim that one of these operations is better or more needed that the other, the lungs are more or less important than the heart.  Both organs have there duties in the autonomic functions of the organism.   Having said this, I want to aim our discussion in a specific direction.  I want to talk about the ego as not only indispensable, but as a condition of being human that has so taken over the sense of self that it is frequently no longer possible for people to be able to talk about their souls.  I can go a step further and add that if we like to we can begin to use the word heart and the word soul interchangeably.  I think it is more than a simple metaphor when we say to someone, “I know this in my heart.”  When we refer to something being heartfelt or when we cry that our heart aches we are speaking of an element of us that is not the same as the persona of the ego.
Individuation from the ego does not lead us to a simple void.  Individuation from the ego brings us closer to soulful and heartfelt conditions that are not assessable by the ego alone.  This spiritual condition has never really been the purview of psychoanalysis or psychotherapy, but what if it were?  What if the end of an analysis were to bring about an end to the reign of the ego and usher in a new marshall.  There may never be an end to the ego, but it might lose its weighty influence on us when we start to understand the awakenings that heartfelt sympathy can have.  Sorrows and regrets are as much a part of life as joys and concerns.  When I hear someone say they have no regret, I think to myself this person has not yet awakened to the full impact of his or her soul.  Regrets and sorrows reign sovereign in the person who has awakened to the wider consciousness that the ego sit in.
Joys and sorrows are soul felt, heart felt aspects of us.  They are more than an emotion running through as a response to an event.  Joys and sorrows are a cornerstone to the human condition.  Something or someone can make me happy or even make me ill, but only my direct contact with my soul, my heart,  can make me feel a deep joy or a deep sorrow.  The ego in its marshaling commanding way of defending against the world does not permit intensity.  Intensity in the ego is manic or depressed.  Intensity of the soul is a fullness that can only be experienced from within the deeper structures of our being.  The conflict that arises within, and all conflict is really within, comes from the persona arguing with the heart.  Conflict occurs when we react rather than recall.
I have grown to love and honor my regrets as the word of God.  My regrets are absorbed from a place that gives guidance.  Guidance like we receive from a friend, from a therapist, a priest or a minister is often guided by the deeper principle that have created a joy or a sorrow.  We would like to turn away from these massive opportunities, but when we do we are left with insufficient answers.  We are left feeling shallow, or un finished when we have not delved into the abyss that feels like a void to search in the darkness for that ember of light that only glows from within.  That glow of light is God, it is my soul, my heartfelt compassion for not only others but for myself.  When we find that location we know that we have arrived at a truth, at a revelation that comes from an accumulated consciousness that is greater than the knowledge we possess by the simple workings of the mind.  We push at the very envelope of time, we are at the most extreme end of our consciousness when we allow for these deeper instinct to emerge from the primordial ooze.  This is the journey that gives light to the darkness within.

The Question of Attracting Life Force

Does life force and drive force have a common denominator?  What does Zen and  Buddhism have in common with psychoanalysis? And finally the question of new age thought and theory does it have a place in the arts and sciences or is it a pop culture phenomena?

To begin with, I am not sure that the question matters very much and it may come down to comparing apples and oranges.  Psychoanalysis and New Age thought are not commonly found on the same book shelf in your favorite book store.  New Age material tends to clump itself loosely with religion and spirituality and psychoanalysis tends to be erroneously clumped under psychology. When it comes to filing I would prefer to see analysis more closely related to spirituality and philosophy that to psychology.

The Art of Psychoanalysis has attempted to fight its way into science since its inception.  At the time that Freud himself was writing the science of late 19th century Europe was reluctant to admit his work to the halls of academia.  He was about as welcomed to the science of his day as Emerson was the spirituality of his day.  There is an inherent turf war problem that surfaces as soon as one deviates from the norm.  Five standard deviations off center is enough to ruin the best of relationships.

Emerson fell into sharp criticism with Harvard Divinity school, and Freud was not welcomed with his concepts and theories of Dreams to the medical establishment of his day.  Both were called shaman.  Step too far from center and even a black person will be called a nigger.

The question for me arises post my analytic training.  While spending some 18 years within and around psychoanalytic theory, I would have nothing to do with New Age material.  I was a snob and a I cultivated a position that it was out of mainstream and I formed a strong negative position of pre-justice.  Based almost entirely on my respect for my teachers and mentors I was unwilling to even look at what the material offered.  This reminds me of my boyhood.  Raised as a Catholic, I forbid myself to even enter a Protestant church.  My opinions were based on the concepts that my community accepted as truth and it was not until the bumper stickers that read, “QUESTION AUTHORITY” were in vogue did I even consider that there might be other equally respected religions in the world.

When we believe that our very salvation, or success will be based on not deviating from the norm it takes quite a storm to correct that narrow position.  The very nature of praejudicium is built into the human psyche as a survival mechanism.  If the object or animal is foreign to me there is a greater chance that it will kill me than if the specie has a semblance.

The old devil we know and the devil we don’t, spearheads the factor of fear and once we have been attacked by our own anxiety it is difficult to shake.

New Age Literature spans an ever wider area of the bookshelves while psychoanalysis appears to have been relegated to specialty shops. Despite the fact that neuroscience seems to be catching up with many of Freud’s theories, psychoanalysis remain a minority endeavor at the butt-end of much pre-justice.

O.K. now for a change in direction.  It seems that the notion of consciousness and specifically the notions of the sub-conscious and the unconscious may well have been adopted by new age thought and simultaneously stripped of its origin.

For Freud and followers of drive theory the idea that desire can be customized to individual wishes is not new.  The fusion of the drives have long been associated with what a psychoanalytic cure would look like.  In New Age thought the idea of want being at the center of success is crucial.  The language used reflects a kind of mystery physics.  For example in the writings of Jerry and Ester Hicks, the notion of vibration is talked about as a signal that the human organism sends out into the universe and the universe responds from a non-physical location.  It is hard to say if they are comparing this non-physical location with more ancient mystical theology like the idea of heaven.

However, regardless of the source for new age thought, the outcomes appear to be very similar.  Praying, or advancing my thought to a better feeling thought and fusion of libidinal and aggressive drive have the same aim and outcome.  Use of the unconscious, the psychic location for the human drive is likely the same source as the idea of divinity found within.  Pulling from ourselves the strength we need to overcome a fear and praying for the help we need to accomplish something, or advancing my thought to a better feeling thought to position myself to receive something that I want, all have in common that we are tapping into a source that feels to be external from the self.

“The idea of the “subconscious” as a powerful or potent agency has allowed the term to become prominent in the New Age and self-help literature, in which investigating or controlling its supposed knowledge or power is seen as advantageous. In the New Age community, techniques such as autosuggestion and affirmations are believed to harness the power of the subconscious to influence a person’s life and real-world outcomes, even curing sickness.” (Wikipedia)

One last observation that I want to make has to to with the scientific notion of falsifiability.  Science has long made the same criticism of psychoanalysis as it has of new age thought.  Scientific proof as the be- all and end-all of human consciousness, has problems of its own. Humanism, spirituality, psychoanalysis, shamanism, religious beliefs have all ended up in the junk bin of science.

I don’t think that anyone has a problem with the fact that psychoanalysis is not the same kind of science as, say, physics or chemistry; but the adherence to scientific methods and the research methods of single case study with the rigor of observation and control supervision add to the dimension that analysis aims to arrive at its foundations and new conclusions based on something more that anecdotal stories.

As we evolutionarily move forward and we begin to bridge new means of communications, we can not help but to consider phenomena that is curious to our consciousness.  The earth is not flat, but it is also not permanent.  We may be able to calculate the distance away from our sun, but that does not mean it is not a living organism susceptible to the same kind of death that all sentient life experiences.  Life as we know it is changing.  Man has become taller, subjective awareness now leads to clues about the macro condition of the universe.  Dogs have a keen sense of smell that man might at one time possessed.  What remains in the unconscious and the pre-conscious from ancestors is not completely explored.

Just one hundred years ago the condition of psychological hysteria was a medical problem, and fainting couches were in vogue.  Today the condition does not exist in developed countries…The very fact of uncovering the mental component to fainting hysterically has through out the past century eradicated the condition.

Likewise, in Zen philosophy and Zen psychology, we speak of the seeds that are buried in the deeper soul of man.  Which seed we water gives each person his and her own personal characteristics.  But what is in common is the fact that knowledge is stored within and a subjective search of some kind needs to take place to discover the nature of these stored, repressed or suppressed conditions.

Post psychoanalytic research is bringing me to the conclusion that more than science operates in the making fashionable or unfashionable particular theories of the mind.  The convergence of theory may well have a philosophical rather than a scientific core.

Man’s search for truth takes us in a variety of routes to get us there. And maybe there are exceptions that God has made through the years.  I am now convinced that were I to believe in God, it, he or she would have allowed a handful of non-Catholic into heaven by now.

Pre-justice conditions more than research methods may have played a role in eliminated certain theories from acceptance in the halls of academia.

I do not find it difficult to accept that if I concentrate and place mental “energy” on to a subject or an object that I want to attract there is greater likelihood of my attaining it than if I am unaware of the desire.  I think we get what we want from life, health, happiness and success by applying conscious thought to our desires.  Whether this means it is mystical, scientific or humanistic makes little difference to the out-come.  And, non of this means that if I concentrate real hard on winning the power ball, that that concentration alone will guarantee success.  It might help slightly is I purchase a ticket and my odds will still remain in the multi-millions.


Awareness, Awakening & Deliberate Consciousness

From an early age some people feel either special, or different or know themselves to be out of sync with what they are seeing as the rest of the world.  Some people will come to attribute this to being gay, or black, or korean in an american society, or american in a canadian society. Some people will attribute it to a low self-esteem or a neurosis or a narcissism that has them holding back from participating in life to the extent that they would like to.  Unfortunately there are some folks among us that will never recover from ideas that they have held about themselves since before they can remember. On another spectrum there are people in wheel-chairs, on crutches, in braces or confined to bed or born with no arms or legs.  Some people will have no voice because of an accident and other will have no voice because of fear.  Some people recover from some of these tragedies and other people will never recover.  There are people who have been physically and sexually assaulted, people who have witnessed violence and wars and atrocities that we can hardly speak because they frighten us so.  Some of these people will be alright and some will remain bitter, regretful, guilty or remorseful for the rest of their days.

Why?  What is the basic ingredient that will turn a soul from a bitter and resentful existence into a better and will-full existence?

From my 40 plus years of exploration, I have not come up with one right answer.  The chances of there only being one answer is rather slim.  However, the chances of each individual finding the answer that is right for them, well, those odds are very strong.  The human spirit, the energy of humanism, the courage that each man and woman can summon to navigate through life is built into each one of us and that energy, that source energy can reveal itself to us in a multitude of ways, at anytime in our lives. I think we pretty much all know this.  Most of us who would think of reading this kind of essay are probably equally capable of writing this kind of essay.  We all have the right stuff in us to create in various way when we are ready to allow ourselves the advantage of awakening to our deeper instincts.  In order to do that, we have to be prepared to handle the aspect of us which has been our most faithful companion since we emerged from the womb.  We must be prepared to stand up to our egoic selves and be prepared to power through an almost bullying ego in order to catch a glimpse of the baser instincts which have been covered up by millenniums of social customs and acceptability standards which were necessary to establish civilizations. Freud, covers this topic in his last book, Civilization and Its Discontent. His thesis is simple.  If we want to live among humans we must abandon our more base instincts.  Man had to be toilet trained.  And from that “day” forward, we have essentially been expelled from the garden of eden.  We are only beginning to understand the travesty that we have created for ourselves as a human race.  We in this century have begun to explore new ways or reconnecting with instincts without that meaning that we need to sniff every butt in the park.

The establishment of the critical ego–I have to be either critical of you or I have to be critical of me, began with an evolution toward covering the innate intelligence of the instincts.  During the devastating tsunami that occurred in Indonesia several years back we heard time and time again that the animals that were loose all made it to high ground.  They had an instinctual rhythm that was disturbed by the on coming tsunami.  Humans have indadvertedly covered up that instinct in the effort to combine forces and reach for a power that comes in numbers. I need to caution myself here.  I want to make certain that I do not devolve into the devaluation of the ego which in many ways was the responsible organ for all the development that earth has to be proud of.  But it is an easy thing to do because despite the generosity  of egoic man, the very ego that taught us to walk and talk and associate and synthesize, is the ego that built itself up on top of the valuable instinctual resources of our deeper human spirit. In reading Eckhart Tolle and other spiritualist of our age and of ages past, we frequently get the idea that there needs to be a bad guy, even in discussing the intricacies of the human condition we appear to look for the good, but are more inclined to find the bad and the ugly. The ego is not an evil entity that we must rid ourselves of, but it is a large budging apparatus that hides from plain view the instincts of the human heart.  (Be advised that human heart is a metaphor, and any word that suits you can be substituted).  The material of the heart of man is a different material than the thoughts of man.  Both are significantly impossible to find or to locate in space and time, and both contribute different knowledge to help us to navigate our way here on planet earth. However, from the very beginning of each of our lives the ego has received tremendous support from institutions, schools, parents, friends and all kinds of interactions that we have with and in our world.  The instincts on the other hand were treated as the poor country cousin and were made to behave in such a way that they were effectively silenced. Awareness, awakening, spiritual insight and words to that effect are cropping up in our world as we begin to feel that in order to move toward joy and happiness, we have to push the ego out of its position of prominence and at least give equal coverage to instinctual matters of the heart. The egoic consciousness is as familiar to us as the A, B C’s of our language.  The instincts and the passions and the drives are so powerful that they were asked millenniums ago to take a back seat so that civilizations could grow.

But, what if the very power that frightened us because we had little control over impulses and instincts when we were barely evolved several steps ahead of the alligator, what if that same power of the instinct could be harnessed for good, for healing and for joy.  It appears to be a good possibility that the instincts were greatly complicated by the impulses and that it was not until the ego aspect of the psychic apparatus were able to modulate and mediate between the ego and the instincts that man was able to come together in community.

Where we are today in the evolution of the human mind is not where we were 10,000 years ago. And in some respects it is not where it was 100 years ago either.  A massive shift in human energy is beginning to take form and from more corners of the world we are seeing that the buried instincts were not only about sex and aggression in their raw condition.  The drives of sex and aggression are also prototypes for love and curiosity & creativity.  In fact when the two raw drives are fused together sex and aggression can have a powerful impact on our self determination.

Creativity and co-creation are words that accompany us today.  People are searching not only for an out-come, but are searching for a community in which the very process of creativity is respected and held in high esteem.  Creative community building through supportive group efforts are cropping up all over as aspects of sustainability projects.  We know that Monsanto will not be what saves us in the face of disaster.  It will be the canning that our neighbor did and the garden that Sue cultivated and the dairy that is down the road that will supply milk long after the industrial agricultural giants have failed by poisoning every crop and every cattle at once.

These military like gigantic corporations do not have a heart.  They may have won the vote, but they will never have heart.  Heart is that instinctual knowing that emits from below the navel, rises through us and lands in our minds as a good feeling thought that is capable of producing just about anything that it wants to produce.

Manifesting an awareness that we are capable of deliberately altering our thoughts in search for a better feeling thought, which in turn produces a better feeling life, is beginning to take the form of a movement.  Spiritualist and humanist and social scientist from a multitude of disciplines are converging on the idea that as humans our minds when infused with the raw instinct is a powerful apparatus that can mimic the very source of the universe.  In touch with our nature we begin to act like the divine and we worship the very act of creation.

Life in this lane is easy.  Life in this lane is like a warm breeze beneath a gently sky.  We are able to deliberately negotiate our way to the next better feeling that we can have by stopping and become aware of ourselves.  The very act of aware consciousness provides us with a new dimension that is capable of turning around a ship of state.

As we decide that we are going to learn to maneuver our way through life rather that be shoved and pushed and prodded, we take on a responsibility that no longer resembles obligation. Instead, our responsibilities emerge from a powerful desire to feel good.  When our mind have sufficiently become divided so that we are capable of witnessing ourselves operating on earth, we have found the portal, the glimpse to our happiness.

There is no magic here, no secret solution, no society of a privileged few that are keepers of this knowledge.  This knowledge lives in the soul of man as his and her instincts.  All we need to do is the allow ourselves to believe that instincts have as much right to see the light of day as do the egoic thoughts that we have been growing with since birth.

The ego has only eclipsed the instincts and when we have dared to go to look at the dark side of the moon, fear no longer rules our house.  We are free to become as free as we will let ourselves become.

A Month in the Sub-Tropics

It is always the inner conflict that is most painful.  A short definition of pain might be in order.  This is what is currently on Wiki, “Pain is “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.”[1] It is the feeling common to such experiences as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodineon a cut, and bumping the “funny bone“.[2]

Well that sort of does away with my premise.  When we talk about pain in psychological terms we are not referring to the “bumping the funny bone,” we are referring to another kind of discomfort that is associated with not liking something very much.  I very much do not like ambivalence and because of that, I refer to my conflict as a kind of psychic pain.  A bumping of a kind of mental funny bone.  But from this perspective the entire idea of pain is a metaphor.

When we talk about all pain being an inner conflict, I think we are talking about a pain that is not necessarily connected to tissue and to nerve endings.  The pain that is associated with inner conflict comes from the essential characteristic of fear.  Fear leads to a kind of pain because it introduces a certain chemistry within that has us imagining pain.  As we begin to calculate how awful something will be or how awful something was, we tend to call that association pain because it has in common with physical pain the notion that we do not like it at all.

Coming out as an artist is often painful for people.  Coming out as an artist is big business for the soul and all too often the ego does not want to encourage this idea and it begins an internal dissent.  The ego fights back with words, “you are not an artist, you are not a writer!”  There is a deflating vengeance that the ego can have toward we changing a mental construct about ourselves.

This winter I am in the sub-tropics giving myself an artistic interlude.  I am here to make peace with my inner conflict, to subside the psychic pain involved with reinventing myself at the age of sixty-five.  I am here to gently nudge my soul away from the precepts of the ego that tries to steer me away from becoming comfortable with a new me.

The idea is not so much to convince myself of an identity.  I can do that very well on my own in my traditional settings.  The idea is more one of convincing myself that authenticity is itself a form of joy and a form of success & that I need to practice authenticity internally as well as I need to sell it to others externally.  I feel prepared to let myself be a creative writer.  I have allowed the thought to simmer now for some time and I think the sauce is ready. Listening to the small inner whisper, the internal voice that is meek like that of a child’s, gives my soul a hint of the permission it needs to eventually amplify that voice into it own authenticity.

As I think about the process of authenticity i find that there is as much letting go as there is newness involved.  Letting-go of deliberate outcomes in exchange for accepting things as they are provides us with enough faith to believe that change will occur when it is time for it to occur.  The caterpillar  has no intention of becoming a butterfly. When it is time the metamorphose will happen.

This deliberate letting go of outcome, I find difficult to reconcile with my egoic self that has always be so directive and controlling about what i want and how I propose to get it.  The simple idea of letting the world happen to me requires that I have a faith in a process that I have little to no experience with.  I am here in the sub-tropics letting the world happen to me and I am finding that it is equally difficult to call myself a writer even when that is all that I am doing with my life.  The ego gets up with me every morning and when it hears the sound of the pounding surf several hundred feet away it begins instantly to command and make demands on me that sounds more like the voice of a drill Sargent than it does that of a gentle nudge.

The aspect of my creativity that I have long postponed was that I thought I needed to know where i was wanting to go.  I thought that the desire had to lead in the way of a guide rather that in the manner of a muse.  In fact i am discovering that my creativity resides much more in the concept of allowing myself to be authentic in the moment than it does about knowing directions.  Who I am and what is important to my life happens in a moment by moment manner and there are days that I wake up discouraged in myself just as there are days that i wake up feeling enlightened and even wise.

In most of my professional life I have surrounded myself with intelligent, scientific types.  I have enjoyed using the phrase research fellow as it enhanced my idea of value.  i do not want in any way to have to dismantle those ideas and those times, but I do want to add a different flavor to my repertoire.  I am encouraging my soul to listen to the sound of the pounding surf and i am encouraging myself to think and to use words in ways that are not necessarily accurate; rather they are used to convey feelings, to create portraits & landscapes that are pleasing to the soul.

more on manifesting: unc. vs. consciousness

How we approach anything is how we do everything.

Our most pressing need in the twenty-first century is to exit from narcissism.  I would say that the exit from narcissism is to this century what the discovery of neurosis and psychosis was to the previous turn of the century.  Mental health and the social health of a people are intimately tied & the macro/micro argument that we remember from philosophy 101 is as pertinent in relation to the exit from narcissism as it is about any other universal comparison that we can make.

In light of this statement, that the exit from narcissism is our most glaring need, I will be looking more closely at secular spirituality, humanism and the laws of attraction as primary resources to this endeavor.  First, I want to comment on the nature of consciousness just briefly to re-acquaint us all with my ideas of consciousness before proceeding.

Consciousness is loosely thought of as our subjective experience of ourselves experiencing life.  In short it is a philosophical condition of awareness.  I am conscious that I have just experienced a burning sensation in my mouth when I tasted the too-hot soup.  My consciousness is almost a rendition in mental form of an experience in the physical form.  It is clearly my mouth, my body that was burned by the hot soup; but, it is my mind, my consciousness that allowed for that sensation to register as a feeling/thought.  The sensation occurs, but consciousness alerts up to the event in a mental way.

Classically, we pretty much think of consciousness as the limits of the self.  The self has a consciousness of itself.  I have an awareness that I exist and that awareness that I exist is separate from the actual fact of existence.  My physical body lives as an accumulation of cells held together by some biological life force and my mind gives me the capacity to subjectively experience my body as it lives through the space time continuum.

The mind is the manifestation of the brain and as a manifestation it exist at the will of the brain, or as long as the brain is alive in form…Once the form of the body is no longer alive, the manifestations of that brain cease to exist in the time-space continuum as we know them.  However, since it is possible for me to converse intelligently about the forms in the world that I have experienced, I am fairly confident that even when I die the forms and the colors and the shapes and the materials of life will continue to exist for other live brains & minds to experience.

In short, I am using the idea that the mind of man, his consciousness, has evolved over time.  As the mind evolves, more and more functions of awareness become possible. In other words the mind as it evolves seems to bring about greater and greater awarenesses of what this universe is made up of.  Consciousness seems to expand in such a way as to give us more clues as to the nature of the experience of life–an ever expanding mind in an ever expanding universe.

There is life-forms and there are consciousnesses of that form–these are separate one from the other.  As we become more aware and more awake to the intricacies of the life forms, we become more curious on higher and higher levels of consciousness, and knowledge of the subjective become increasingly a legitimate aspect of scientific study.

Before the time of Freud, dreams and the unconscious were not thought to be legitimate aspects of scientific study.  Freud had a great deal of trouble with his colleagues in the medical community of his day due in large part to the fact that science had not evolved far enough for his thoughts to be considered any more that a metaphor for how the mind/brain body co-exists and functions as a “one-thing-thing.”

Knowledge of form is different from knowledge of consciousness.  Crudely, the more we know the more we want to know.  Or, the higher we climb the higher we want to climb…perhaps there is some perverse correlation here in the building of ever taller skyscrapers. But that would be the topic of another essay.  To stay on topic, I need to reel us back to the beginning.

As I have stated in earlier essays, I have become interested in what I would call the exit from narcissism.  In order to have a respectable understanding of narcissism we need to be on the same page with certain other words from psychology, psychoanalysis and philosophy.

One of these important words is, “Ego.”  Another word that needs some clarification is “narcissism” and a third word of interest to this topic is “regression.”

For Freud, the ego was the psychic apparatus that allowed the brain to perceive the world, while at the same time have a unique inward perspective.  In addition the ego sat partially submerged in the unconscious.  The ego is not the id but it sits with part of itself below the level of consciousness.  This ‘below the level of consciousness’ he termed the unconscious.  This arena contained not only autonomic functions, but also memories too hard to handle were repressed to this arena where the conscious mind no longer had access to the thought forms that are stored there.

Curiously, a very similar concept exist in traditional Buddhism.  The idea of seed-consciousness is taken up by the prolific writer and Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. In his discussion on eastern psychology, from his worked titled, Understanding Our Mind (2006)  he talks of seed-consciousness as aspects of the world that exist in side our conscious mind but to which we have no access unless they are watered.  The seeds of any thought need to be watered in order to “manifest” into consciousness.  One quote from this brilliant monastic talks about the very quality of seed that lies in deep consciousness as the source of our ability and desire to manifest a freedom from suffering.

I can’t think of a more suffering condition that that of mental narcissism.  Narcissism is a condition in which the mind reverts or regresses to an earlier condition in the life of that mind.  In modern psychoanalytic literature it is always referred to as a pre-verbal condition.  By that we mean the depth of the condition is located in the recesses of the mind, or in the recesses of that mind’s history.  Not all of our history is readily accessible, although one might argue that it is all stored and might be assessable under a favorable condition.

The Unconscious is a difficult concept to deal with as are many other concepts in science in which the actual event is hidden from view and can only be understood to exist by virtue of inductive reasoning.  Examples like evolution, the electro-magnetic field and even gravity are understood because we see and feel the effects of the condition, but we never can actually see gravity–only conditions that make us think it most probably is a force operating in reality.

The unconscious is particularly important to understanding the narcissistic conditions. The idea of narcissism can only happen in the presence of pre-verbal feelings and pre-verbal feelings are by their definition feelings that we experienced before we had grown an ego sufficient in language proficiency.  It is a feeling that we experience before we were old enough to orally process the experience.  Although the experience did not have a word at the time to describe the experience, nonetheless the experience was registered by the mind and stored without words to categorize or describe the event.

Under a “favorable” condition; that is, when an event in real time happens that jars a pre-verbal memory, that memory is “remembered” without words.  When that happens we experience feelings that seem to have no antecedent.  The feeling appears to attack us from the inside and we are not quite able to point to what or where it is coming from.

The most common regression is a regression to pre-verbal or narcissistic rage.  That is we are aware of a mood-like feeling that engulfs us and takes over our spirit, or our manner of looking at life.  The mood-like condition may be experienced as gloom, or a lethargy, or a resistance to participate in life.  Instead of the event before us causing anger, because it travels backwards in time, it causes us to recline into a mood that we seem to have very little control of changing.  Actually, at the beginning, the mood may not even be recognized as a mood–the mind simply regresses to a condition that become who we are in the moment.

We have manifested from the unconscious a thought/feeling that existed in our mind many, many years before the current time or the current event.

The importance of this issue to psychoanalysis is profound.  Our theories of development and our theories of the technique of treatment and even our theories of research are central to our understanding of the people who come into our clinical consultation rooms.  Psychoanalysis exists on the premise that not all that we are is available to consciousness.  The unconscious is central to our understanding of regression, transference and to our ability to work with the cognitive behavioral problems that present themselves as conflicts in life or conflicts with life.  In psychoanalysis we understand all conflict to be within.  That conflict occurs among the factions of the mind…the ego battles with the unconscious causing us to experience internal discomfort in the form of anxiety, depression or psycho-somatic ailments or illnesses.

In conclusion, the conscious mind is a manifestation of the brain/body matrix.  Our consciousness is really the first order of manifestation that is considered under the Laws of Attraction.  Who we are, the self that we carry around and the self that represents itself to both us and the rest of the world is one aspect of consciousness.  But to consider that that aspect of consciousness is the only aspect of self makes not very much biological sense, not very much philosophical sense and not very much neurological sense.

As we evolved from the beginnings of the alligator brain through ever more complex conditions of human existence, we become more familiar with the multitude of manifestations that our brain can invent.  Our consciousness works in oneness with the universe and as such the more we understand about the universe the more we understand about the universe within.  As the universe expands so does our capacity for both understanding and destroying.  We are more able to understand human differences than ever in the history of consciousness and at the same time we are more on the brink of being able to extinguish all human life from this planet.  It is a piece of human synchronicity that our understanding exists in parallel form to our ability for destruction and self-destruction.

The unconscious in many ways is more a manifestation of the body than it is actually a manifestation of the brain.  Of course, it is both, but in many ways its very existence is more closely tied with bodily functions than with psychic illuminations.  Like breathing and the circulation of blood and our endocrine system, the system of the unconscious operates at a level below the level of consciousness and it is only through behaviors such as acting-out that we can see it is exerting a pressure on our lives, thought the exact nature from which the pressure is being exerted, like gravity is difficult to discern.

The exit from narcissism that so many of us yearn for can only be actuated by a cooperation between the conscious and the unconscious aspects of the mind.  The thought alone can not creates a situation from which narcissism can be exited.  it is not enough to want to be free from these early regressive states, we must KNOW how to do this work of exiting.

The work of exiting from narcissism is a joint venture between what we know we know and what we must in ourselves deliberately set out to know.