On Yoga & Walking with Beauty

snow:walk in new englandOn Yoga & Walking with Beauty

It was one more of my winters of discontent, not quiet ever made glorious. It was one more of my visions that snaked around and quietly became a narrative of thoughts that were rendered in a loose organization of beliefs. Most of the beliefs have been pounded into place, nailed down—as if permanence was ever any part of the human condition.

Literature, Psychoanalysis, Art, Writing, Philosophy, they all came before Yoga arrived. By the time that I met up with Yoga, I had become afraid of it, like I had become afraid of my soul, my spirit and just as important; I had become afraid of my body. I ran from all sensations expecting that if I ran fast and far enough I would eventually run into the world of the not-me and there would be rescued from myself.

Crazy, yes, but all too normal for many of us who listen to irrational fear more readily than we listen to our bodies and our-selves—our multitude of selves that make up our authenticities.

I was a good runner. My mind ran fast and fierce and furious and even rage-fully. All the while my body sat idle content to be a directionless vessel, a directionless cradle that lulled me into regressive, negative unions with my frustration, my behemoth stress that would attack me with fear. My regressive attachments that pulled me, with all the weight of gravity, lower and lower until my mind fell to rest deep in the unconscious region of my existence.

It was a very lonely place before it became solitude. Some say that solitude is a cure for loneliness. It may be, because my many illusions and beliefs seem so unnecessary in my solitude. In my solitude, I learned that it was never meant to be permanent, that my rolling towards death was indeed the most natural element, the foundation of my evolution. And, if I am attempting to stop that process, I am sure to be less successful than the little Dutch Boy was at holding back the sea.

Nonetheless, not fighting my evolution is a different process than not fighting for my health. Despite a career in psychoanalysis, and despite my devotion to health, the most recent winter of my discontent drove home where I was missing the mark. I resisted the practice of the mind-body connection while throughly embracing the philosophy and the theories being spun for me by the mind—the allusive, non organic mind that exist between and among my tissues, sinews, and physically discernible organs.

Before the most recent winter had set in, there was a wonderfully nagging thought that I enjoyed having. It occurred to me, or appeared to me in the form of a sentence. “I have never been betrayed by Beauty.” Emerson jumped into the picture with the line, “Beauty is its own excuse for being.”

What felt interesting to me about these sentences was the immediacy of their truths. Having been myself forever a truth-seeker; my spirit, my encompassing, entire-self, with its connections to the earth and the atmosphere were satisfied. For some, maybe even for many, satisfaction is not a mental and emotional concern. Instead, many of us are intrigued by the delicious sensations of sweet revenge, or instant gratification.
Certainly that is one kind of satisfaction. Western Civilization, especially here in America,  moves us with a great deal of guidance from schools and corporate systems toward success. Success is the goal, and riding in on its coat tails, we envision that along with a plaque that reads, “SUCCESS” we will become happy. But ‘plaque’ along with its definition as an ornamental tablet of commemoration, is also a sticky deposit of waste that adheres to our teeth and the lining of our veins and arteries. A plaque, or plaque in general, is not a one-way street to satisfaction. As sweet as satisfaction is, it is not a guarantee for contentment, and certainly not a guarantee for good health.

Beauty, truth, kindness, vulnerability, psychoanalysis and yoga, compound-complex thoughts that grow entwined with each other in a kind of inter-disciplinary evolution, each creating a renewed sense of hope, a new version of, “In the beginning there was the word.”

 

In the Beginning

The beginning, though met with some fear, always provides for the possibility of the unimaginable, a quick vision of a distant evolution so far away from where we end that space and time combined do not yet reach.  The exact, extreme, extent of our personal human condition, beckons truth seekers.  Those of us riddled with a narcissism of hope are like Faust making his bargain with the devil, the voices that emerge the loudest, and the most seductive, are not of necessity a bargain at all.  What is it worth a man to have gained his mind, and in the process lost his body.

The word had always been a source of motivation.  But, what of the wordlessness that we hear screaming as pain from the body, can we pay attention and hear the call of the wild- primitive within?  Can we close our eyes and see the tissues and the bones and how they flex or not?  Can we really be flexible if all we are willing to flex is the wordy ego?

I have the answer that I need.  The body is as important as the soul. They are siblings, identical twins, separated only by their unique desires; each twin needing as much as the other.  Eventually they no longer dress alike, separated but still identical, the body needs the mind’s attention and the mind needs the body’s attention.  They have become strangers, they have moved away from each other and while still connected as identical they no longer know each other.  There is a silent yearning, a longing for a sense of wholeness.

Beauty and Truth are these kind of siblings.  We remain confident that beauty never betrays us, but we doubt the truth of their oneness.  We doubt the truth of our one-ness, and from this position of doubt, we adopt a perspective born out of fear of the unknown.  The mind becomes our world and the body is left untethered.  It is the body, not the soul that is in need of knowing god.  The soul already knows about the infinite connections between things.  The body needs a reminder and we do not get that reminder from a wordy ego, we get that reminder from hearing within as much as seeing within.

It is a new season now and the winter of my most recent discontent is passed.  I am bathing in the newness of spring for one more season.  My home is my sanctuary.  My body holds my consciousness in.  I am breathing with new air and fear recedes as courage increases in complete proportion to each other, giving a whole new meaning to “self-help”.

A.L. Dussault

Charlestown, Rhode Island

 

 

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Heart-Felt Emotions

freud1

One might ask, Are not all emotions heart felt?  Maybe?  But I have a specific reason to be tapping the emotions in relation to the heart.  We hardly stop to think of emotions and heart as being an integrated aspect of nature.  Our spontaneous capacity for joy or sorrow, laughter or tears; or our wonder at the beauty or the horrors of life — these are the stuff that elevate our consciousness or dismantle our well-being.  I am inclined to believe that the information supplied by the heart and the body is significantly different from the information supplied by the mind and the brain.

Emotions have a great deal in common with feelings.  They both erupt from the body rather than erupt from the mind, and as such they are quicker on the draw.  They avalanche us, they seemingly attack us from the outside.  We hardly know from where they come and there is no organ in the body that operates like the brain does, so we are left with the notion of feeling and emotion happen to us.

We are, as a science, certain that emotions inform us, but unlike our thoughts, our feelings and emotions register as subjective experience rather than as objective data.  If I were to hold up a picture of a table you would not have an passioned response.  But let’s say that I were to hold up a picture of a forest on fire with several children seemingly trapped, you might have a visceral response.  One is a simple objective fact the other is charged with emotion.

We intuitively know the distinction between an objective thought and an impassioned emotion.  The most important function of a feeling is to inform the body of a condition that needs to be paid attention to…hunger, exhaustion, pain, these we recognize as sensations that encourage us to think about and to act in accordance with both the informed feeling and subsequently the informed thought.

Another major difference between a thought and a feeling is that the feeling rises to consciousness with no help from our mind.  Emotions tend to be independent and they rise out of experience as a sensation.  They are not formulated in language. They exist as a system of the body that is void of  language oriented thoughts.

In Western tradition, the heart felt instincts from which emotions and feelings arise are not cultivated as a product of much value.  We are trained to be rational.  We have even excluded the study of the subjective from scientific evaluation.  It is relegated to fringe disciplines most associated with self-help and new-age phenomena.  This is changing as the neuro sciences are breaking new sound barriers in the mind/body matrix.

It makes more sense now than ever to be re-awakening the foundational knowledge that Freud brought to the western hemisphere of civilization.  The neurology of his time over one hundred years ago reads like hieroglyphics.  But Freud’s metaphors of neurology are today’s cutting edge science.

The heart of the matter has never been more important than it is right now. Not only is our entire neural history carried in our hearts and minds, but our ancestral knowledge garnered from our parentage and eons back from that is also carried in our hearts and minds.

The heart of the matter, as I see it, resides in the knowledge that as an organism we possess a divided mind.  It is made up of instinct and ego, conscious and unconscious as well as thoughts and feelings, hormones and dendrites, mucus and sinew, with neuro-circutry connected in such a way that it operates more organically like a jungle than it does like a computer.

If the metaphor carries through, the rational thought runs like a computer, because it is what developed the computer.  The heart of the matter runs more like a jungle where instinct acts to help us survive and grow at the microcosm and the macrocosm of it; but it does not use language to convey its information to us.  It uses subjective sensation as the unit of communication.  A bird call, if you will.  Like in the jungle the bird call can be heard by all species, the proximity of the tiger is alerted by a bird call.

We need to locate within us the capacity to hear the bird call and to interpret it for its intended meaning.  We have no intention of throwing away the lap-top, but if I am walking through a jungle, I would like to think that the call of the wild is as easily readable  as the english characters in this computer screen.

The heart of the matter  has information as crucial to our survival as is the stuff of the manifested mind….

Home Sweet Home

I have done very little writing this summer.  I guess I am OK with that, but I do find myself searching for something and I think the search is for something as comforting as writing was earlier in the year.  It is so easy to blame summer.  There is sheer joy in just being in the world where the windows are open to a constant breeze and the birds sings and the water becomes holy and warm and healing.  I did spend a great deal of this summer healing and thinking about healing.

Before the summer ends I wanted to put some of these thoughts together in a cohesive essay because I think they might be helpful to other people who suffer from the chronic critical voice that lingers like a ticker-tape in the back of the mind, forever calling out some atrocity about to happen or warning us about some grievous fault that we have committed.

We have a mind that we can to some extent control.  That is the mind we think with.  “I think I want to go to the marketplace and purchase some vegetables for tonight’s dinner.”  That statement is a thought that will most likely propel me into an action at some point so that I am able to accomplish the object of my desire:  buy vegetables.  The sound from that voice in my head was as clear as if I had spoken it out-loud.

But, what about the voice that speaks in a dimmer tone, the one that says:  “you can’t do that, you are not smart enough, you have no culture and if you go out everyone you want to impress will know what a supreme jerk you are….”  That voice is also a communication from the mind but it seems to have a more autonomic sense about it.  It is not a thought that i decided that I wanted to have, rather it is a thought that stays suspended in a sub-conscious state and though we have no desire to listen to it, it may well propel us to action or passivity like the first example about the vegetables.

We are frequently guided by a force that seems to come from nowhere.  We put our heads on the pillow and instead of a list of gratitudes, what comes out is a list of outlandish criticisms that seek to prevent us from going after what we want.

This summer I wanted to stay home at the Lake.  The voice was very loud on many occasions telling me I was lazy, but I was able to overcome the voice by continuously reminding myself that following my desire is a more noble effort than sulking.  It occurred to me many time this summer that if I was going to have a pleasant, free and easy summer that I was going to have to invite in the peace that comes from deliberate intention.

It remains amazing to me that the negative thoughts springing from some repetition in the ego are so easy to access, while the peaceful, calm, deliberate serenity that I get from writing, or reading or a multitude of other activities that I enjoy; these must be invited in.  I like to use a “zen” like singing bowl, tap its side and listen to the vibrations that last into a long fading silence.  This reminds me that I need to listen deliberately and that I must be conscious about inviting in gratitude….

Summer was great!

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.

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.”
Awakening:
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.
Individuating:
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.