How Are We to Make Use of these Psychodynamic Facts of Life

GRADIVA

Gradiva…

Living in two centuries, it is natural to long for the centuries of antiquity.  The 20th century with the folks still alive who remembered the later half of the 19th century is a nostalgia that coincides with being young and wide-eyed.  It was a world where happiness was 99% anticipation.  Too young for regrets, the world laid endlessly ahead like a blank canvas stretched clear to the horizon.

As Exit from Narcissism begins to take shape, I am allowing myself the freedom to say that I am writing a book.

The central theme of this manual involves the study of duality as it presents itself in the form of mental conflict.  It is important to keep in mind that mental-conflict bears little resemblance to neurosis or any other illness based model of the mind.

The brain/body matrix manifests the mind and that mind can not be reduced to a singularity. The human mind is experientially and subjectively a duality which is inherently in conflict.  Nothing reduces to one. Anything can be split in two.  The idea of oneness is both an illusion and a delusion.  It is an illusion because our perspective is a projection of our own perceived oneness.  We tend to look out onto the universe from the singular perspective of “I”.  It is a delusion because we want the comfort of oneness, and we are prone to accept reality only after we have washed it with the suds of our perspective.

Both the perspective of “I” and the perspective of our deeper awarenesses co-exist with little to no consciousness of each other.  The acknowledgement of duality is only experienced when the deeper nature is deliberately called up from consciousness by the ego we call, “I”.

We wander between and among perspectives against a backdrop.  Awareness of our duality is barely noticed.  A deliberate command can access the deeper perspective; however, long before we come to understand our nature of duality we have been subject to its massive potential for internal conflict.

Issues of morality and issues with authority plagued us long before we became conscious of our unconscious mind. Becoming conscious of the unconscious provides us with further information than we would have with consciousness alone.  The idea that all behavior is purposeful and guides our decisions our thoughts,and  feelings is a result of the academic study of duality.  Beginning with Freud and Jung as the fathers of psychology we have moved through over a century of deciphering meaning from word and symbols.

Whether our mind is a burning cauldron of creation or an empty vessel waiting to be filled with knowledge, there is no denying the conflict that arises as a simple and crucial aspect of living.  All of our thoughts and sensations have a meaning.  This fact we have inherited through the scientific and literary history of civilizations.

How are we to make use of this psychodynamic fact of life?

The meaning of conflict and our growing academic understanding of conflict as a question begs for an answer.  It is equal in scope to what previous generations asked about the nature of pain in a world created by and all-good God. Conflict stands out from a backdrop of comfort and alerts us to an internal or external condition that requires our attention. Conflict can appear in the form of anxiety and is registered as a sensation or feeling that erupts into consciousness.  Because it does not necessarily rush into consciousness with words what we experience is a sense of urgency and to make it worst, it is an urgency that provides no direction.

Because it is experienced as an intrusion, it is in our human nature to want to destroy it.  It is the classic killing of the messenger.  What ever meaning was intended is lost in the battle that ensues between perspectives of the mind.  The unconscious knowledge is not wanted because it threatens to disturb the sleep of the world.  We ignore or deny  the knowledge of the deeper consciousness to protect the singularity of the ego.  The ego does not want to be wrong and does not want to be caught in a less than perfect light.  Since the ego is the position of the “I”, it carries a great deal of weight toward preventing knowledge from the body to impact the singularity of the self.

The resolution of conflict becomes what life is about.  Resolving questions that arise from conflict promotes success and effectiveness.  Recognizing the conflict within and applying resolution is the process of adult developmental psychology. Living is the perpetual resolution of conflict.  It is deliberate and is never over until life is over.

Our task is not simply to live it is to live well within the parameters created by needing to resolve all the aspects of organic life. It is through the resolution of perpetual conflict–(when we are through taking a breath, we need to automatically resolve taking the next breath), that this successful application becomes the source of joy and enthusiasm.

To access the depths that are within requires a conscious contact, a deliberate attempt to find the source of the body knowledge that holds the DNA of our antiquities.  It may seem a contradiction to invite in a perspective that may cause a conflict, but it is the resolution, not the denial of conflict that creates room for joy and contentment and happiness to thrive.

Living well is only difficult when we insist on our singularity. When we become comfortable with conflict as an aspect of the mind that will not go away, we can begin to understand the requirements necessary to govern ourselves. It is this understanding that psychoanalysis aims for.  Having arrived at concluding a peace with inner conflict we will have achieved a level of adult development that we call maturity.

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 Ego and the Self: a dialogue in conflict

There is a life that lives inside the life I live.  Sometimes this life within a life is submerged so far below the surface of consciousness that one could not discern that it is even there.  Other times, I hear it calling and I know that I can access its wisdom and other times I hear it calling and I refuse to hear what it is that it wants to tell me.  I am no stranger to the divided mind.  I have lived side by side with myself for years and it does not worry me that i experience this twoness about myself.  Perhaps it is the strong Catholic faith that guided my early years.  The nuns telling me that the angel sat on one shoulder and the devil sat on the other.  The divergence between heaven and hell as a catalyst for the duality that characterized my struggles within even as a young teenager.

This book of essays is dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  Or, at the very least we are all equally capable of accessing the glimpse of the life within the life that is so necessary to discover if our ambition is any form of serenity.  The conflicting dialogue, the running commentary that we have grown accustom to is made of of two equally important aspects of our mental capacity.  On the one hand we have an ego like structure that is focused on the external world.  It collects data, assesses that data and logically goes about the business of coming to a conclusion.  It is the science of life that it listens to.  On the other hand we have a deep instinct that comes to us through millenniums of evolution.  It is the age old capacity of subjectively experiencing what we feel inside of us.  It is a sensation we feel.  It is a kind of interior road map that guides us to internal points that inform us of the internal operations of our mind and body.  It is in many ways the source of oneness.  We experience our energy and our drives from this subjective location.

As we journey through this life, we are brought into direct conflict between these two points of observation.  There are times when they may be in concert, but for the most part they will inform us in such different ways that it is difficult to reconcile one from the other.  The journey through these essays is meant to provide a clear and logical path to understanding who we are and what we want from our brief experience of life here on earth.  Much goes into contemplating life and we have so little time in which to accomplish this task.

A spiritual community, for many of us began in our families of origin.  It is, for many of us, very difficult to grow in a family that emits dysfunction.  Dysfunction is emitted based on lack of knowledge, lack of right thought, and lack of feeling the internal messages that would assist in dismantling the frightening anxiety.  Family dysfunction essentially points us in the wrong direction.  Some are able to re-navigate their way to their own paths quickly.  Others fail at finding their way and suffer for most of a life time before, if ever, finding the comfort of serenity that exist within.

In the last number of years after leaving a psychoanalytic institute that I am indebted to, I began to do a different kind of research than I did as a candidate in analytic training.  I broke away from the formal scientific method and that allowed me to study other forms of knowledge.  I have read Buddhist material, I have sat in meditation with a Sangha, I have reviewed a multitude of new age writers and I have begun to dedicate my journey to understanding the convergence that I believe points to truth.

Here I have to explain that Truth with a capital “T” is not a scientific venture.  It is a philosophical venture and as such it breaks away from pure objective data and is willing to grapple with “Truth” that is subjectively experienced from within.  Truth used in this context implies an experience that is overwhelmingly sensed as coming from a place that is not purely thought.

The manner in which the body informs the mind of an internal event is not necessarily done in words.  A sharp pain in the back, or the chest, or a awful feeling of needing to vomit are not experienced by the mind as words.  These sensations emit from the body with the sole purpose to alert the body that something is out of balance.  This sensation of “out-of-balance” is crucial to surviving and is every bit as informative as our eyes perceiving a mad dog coming our way.  The vision that the sensations provide, though wordless are of primal importance to both the continued growth of the individual as well as the continued growth of the human specie.  Our internal being is connected to the oneness of the human race and the oneness of the human race is connected to all living organisms on earth and in the universe.

We are not alone, nor are we meant to be.

As I continue through these short essays, I hope to bring a dialogue to this concept that we are an ego and we are a self.  The subtitle of this blog from where this book is being written is:  a recalcitrant ego in search for a self.  To that end I welcome readers to comment within the blog post.  I think this kind of interaction will bring us to a point of convergence where, with help of each other, we will move closer to the irrefutable pleasure that is derived from knowing the extent to which we are divided and the manner and methods necessary for us to move away from internal conflict and move towards a serenity that has life glowing like the sun when it shines its morning light on the darkness of the night.

St Augustine: a breath of warm air

The very fact of having arrived here has created a shift in my thinking and I am curious about this shift and how it happened with seemingly no assistance from me.  I commented on the way down here that what we were doing is leaving in late winter and passing through an apple blossom spring, around Washington, D.C. and we arrived to summer in Augustine.

My mind seemed to follow that evolution and by the time I got here, I had a much more relaxed mind than when I left.  I know that I am going back to New England in a month or so, but that fact does not disappoint me, neither does it excite me.  What I like about visiting Augustine is the contrast that it provides from the rest of my life. A peaceful from life as I know it….it could have happened in Charlestown.

Maybe it is no more that the weather…warm air and cool breezes enhance my capacity to do what ever I feel like doing in my day.  I wake up when I like, I have a number of analytic consultations judiciously placed through out the day and I take in fiction, walks, good food and much quiet time.  So, you say, “of course your mind set would shift.”  But, except for the warm air and the cool breeze that is pretty much my life up north as well.  I am not at the core an unhappy person and that ability to shift my mind to ignore my ego and embrace my instincts, is getting stronger all the time.  Infrequently, I will find myself in some rumination that is nearly impossible to retreat from.  Those streaming thoughts of consciousness can interfere with everything that I am doing.  When I forget that I have given myself a mantra to help me to return to a more “zen-like” head, I can not get back to calm.  It is as if without remembering the mantra I find I have no immediate direction to take.  Remembering the mantra, on the other hand, provides a portal that indicates the next right action that will be in my best interest to take. A mantra is like a string tied to your finger to help you to remember not to forget something.

The major act of consciousness in this plan is simply to remember the initial thought that will manifest the transition.  What creates the new state of mind is a remembrance that at my core I have a capacity for happiness, a state which I see more and more as an accumulation of thought rather than as a feeling.  The importance of this distinction lies in the idea that a feeling arises from a location in us that we have no control over.  Bump your bare toe into the leg of a chair and the rising pain is not an option.  It rises to a pitch without any help from thoughts.  In fact, thought does very little to ease the pain of a stubbed toe.

So, we understand feelings as not being controlled by thought.  Actually when a feeling is attached to a thought we find it almost impossible to do anything about the thought because the feeling is so intense.  I speak often to my patients about this notion that “big feelings” arising from within the organism are no match for the consciousness.

Thoughts, however, are a very different animal.  A thought is malleable.  A thought can be changed.  The thought pattern involved with considering ourselves happy or unhappy is putty to the mind.  We can soften it by working with it and eventually we are able to mold it into most any thought that we want to have.  So if happiness is considered as a state of mind arrived at by applying thought, we can effect a change in how we are conducting our thought patterns and that change results in a calmer, more peaceful interior.

Shifting our concept of human dimensions like happiness and hope to be clearly understood as thought patterns give us a distinct advantage over our thinking that we have no control over the feeling we are experiencing.  When the feeling is a pleasant one like the kind that i enjoyed driving down to St Augustine, we automatically shift from late winter to early summer with little effort on our part.  In other words we have taken steps to change something that can be changed and by doing so we have become more conscious of the fact that we can take charge of certain state of mind that had previously be so overly cathected with feeling that we saw no way of making that shift.

Happiness is a thought pattern that we can grow.  We can cultivate happiness without having to change the world.  As we grow to accept happiness as a thought rather than as a feeling, we automatically want to move ourselves in that direction because the contrast between happiness and forms of misery are quickly identified.  In this new paradigm, un happiness and other forms of misery are seen as an indication of lack of balance.  The sensation of being out of balance becomes a sign, a signal very similar to the sensation of pain.  Believing in our capacity to shift thoughts will go a long way in helping us to not remain in a regressed state of misery and discontent.

It comes down to the thought that on the one hand life can be seen as happening to us; and our state in response to life can be seen as ours to apply.  Unhappiness is a tension that ought to remind us of what ever mantra we have chosen to help us to remember that applied thought is an applied psychoanalysis.

Analyse the thought, if you are experiencing it as negative ask yourself some questions about the negative thought.  Will it profit me to thinking of the worst case scenario?  Does my negative thinking provide fuel for the negative thought to become a reality?  Why am I finding it so difficult to let myself believe that my life will be O.K.?  And is it not true that no matter what I am feeling, tomorrow will arrive on its own accord.  Thoughts are like putty, mold them to your liking and life will feel creative……..

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.