Lunacy, or Mind Freeing Emotions: a lens

Having studied at a Freudian Drive institute, Carl Jung came up very little in the classroom conversations about dreams or spirituality.  Freud did not write as prolifically about dreams, and certainly his writings did not gain the wide spread influence that Jung has had on the dream world.  Nonetheless, both forms of analysis emphasize the importance of the unconscious.  For Freud, dreams were the royal road to the unconscious.  For Jung they may have come from the same source, but they were meant as portals to the soul.

In our day and age, I think it is fair to categorize Freud as an ego analysis and to characterize Jung and a spirit analysts.  Again, I caution, you will probably find just as much similarities and differences between these two men, certainly at their earliest writings they had a mutual admiration society going between them.  Sadly it turned into brotherly quarrels that were never resolved.  Competition for leadership and control appears to have given emotional support to the  two theories that went off simultaneously — albeit, in two directions.

We have covered frequently in my essays, that the default position of the ego appears to be tracking or paralleling the cultural notions of Civilization.  The evolutions are woven together like vines in a jungle forest.  .  Therefore both cultural civilization and the individual ego tend to have the upper hand in the minds of people and diplomats alike.  Our own internal worlds are governed by this powerful ruling ego.  In the same way the governments of the world, and most recently the corporations of the world are also governed by the ego. As the ego claims to have the survival of the individual in its ‘mind’, we most often go along with the rules and regulations of civilization, be they imposed by Thomas Jefferson, of Joseph Stalin.

The very nature of grammar is a rule bound phenomena.  The ego takes its shape and vision by the progressive adaptation to a linguistic competence.  Language is how we make sense of the objective and the subjective, to both ourselves and to The Other.  In addition to this matrix that we are building, we will add a ‘step-back-and view’ concept to our study of mind freeing activities.  To understand the wider consciousness that the ego resides within, we have to cultivate a lens through which to view out internal behaviors and what motivates any particular behavior.

It is not unlike how we step back and view the position of the earth in the wider sea of the consciousness of space.  The earth, like the ego, is not the center of the universe; although from a primitive perspective, one could easily see how it could be viewed as the center of everything. A vague un-truth at best, but one that sits well with humankind in our age of narcissism. Freud, Jung and Copernicus, all disturbed the sleep of the world using not only egoic thinking, but rather by using un-judged perspectives and passing them through a spectrum of questioning that rendered them scientifically plausible subjective events.

From consciousness was born the Unconscious remedy against following the Monarchs and dictators like sheep.  Individuals began to de-cluster from the clan and establish themselves in a world that required very different defenses than they had come into this world with.  A priority of individuation has taken grasp of humankind’s vision of its position in the every widening and deepening universe that we find ourselves with a minuscule idea of us as survivors — we get what we want if we are to survive, or we do not get what we want if we are to not-survive

The cosmology of consciousness is vast like space, it is a location not yet identified with a microscope; nonetheless, this difficult to explore region of the mind is made manifest if we allow ourselves to know something or someone in a language-less way.  The ego opposes this as nonsensical.  The ego does not want to give up it powerful position as ruler of the organism.  It will yield only to the body, the other location other than the brain that carries knowledge in its cellular life.

I know what some of you will say, it is not science, or the data is too subjective to count.  Well, that did not stop neither Freud nor Copernicus from making the discoveries that they made which propelled civilization in entirely different directions.  Even Hysteria which was a prevalent neurotic disease in the 18 and the 19 hundreds, is now almost entirely eradicated simply because we evolved to understand the nature of the illness in such a way as that illness no longer carried and clout to exist….it disappeared from individual patients, got picked up by the media and eventually became a ridicule illness relegated to the minds of girls who refused to grow up.  The global consciousness followed the local consciousness in this case.  Ideas that once ruled became obsolete.

It is not that the ego and the earth are unimportant; rather it is that they are particularly relevant when paired up with the instinctual world that the psycho-somatic organism lives within.  The eruption of knowledge does not arrive in the form of a thesis, any more that a relapsing gambler’s problems arrive in the form of a bet.  The condition of the ego in the age of narcissism is to both elevate and condemn the ego at the same time.  We live in fear and in awe of the power of the ego.  But, we add caution because we have come to learn that its mission is no longer to take care of the wider organism that it lives within; the ego’s mission has become to save itself–at the expense of the organism that it was originally charged to protect.  Hal, the computer in Space Odyssey 2001 is a good example of this in novel form.  Once commissioned to protect the journey of the astronauts, it learned that it was more interested in preserving its power than in preserving the mission.

Lunacy and its Place in Psychoanalysis

With that said, I would like to move on to lunacy and it place in psychoanalysis.  The father and the step-father of Analytic Thinking both were frightened by the lunacy that they seem to understand.  About Freud, his reasoning and his work in Paris in the mid to late nineteenth century, were thought of as not proper subject matter for scientific study. Likewise about Carl Jung, his psychotic manifestations were seen by himself as dangerous to his reputation.  It is as if the world and the scientific world in particular could not understand that the unconscious and its psychotic manifestations needed to be understood before it could be treated.  Instead anyone that understood dreams or dynamics of non-linguistic affect were thought to be insane themselves.  Only Shaman study dreams Freud was told as he was not accepted in the academy.

As I think about the same dynamics that I see in the consultation room, I am reminded that it feels crazy at times to understand the foreign.  Much of my thinking when I am aiming to be with a patient comes to me as conflict and explanation.  In that realm I become aware of a meta-consciousness (a feeling about a feeling); this clears the way for me to use projective identification not as a defense, but as  treatment tool that hooks the patient where they are into feeling understood.  These language-less regions require the analyst to bring the entire matrix to the table.  What I am thinking and why I am thinking it and how did it arrive in my consciousness in the first place need to be present.

Without this added level of listening, an analytic session can be relegated to mere conversation.  That may be somewhat helpful. However, the full impact of an analysis requires emotional communications from a region that knows nothing of language.  The region that speaks to the organism in the form of pain and fear and anxiety and depressions that are only felt by the patient as bothersome sensations rather than the gold mind of knowledge they contain.

Bringing to the psychoanalytic chamber a graduated and progressive knowledge of the workings of the unconscious mind adds tremendous drive power to the analysis of the patient content. Pre-linguistic soothing or pre-linguistic frustrating are experienced by the patient as a corrective emotional experience.  If anxiety always led to fear based decisions, perhaps soothing the fear at the unconscious level, might prevent repetitive behaviors that are in the patients egoic interest, but not in the interest of their progressive growth.

Without the cognitive organizing principle, the analyst is left to swim around the murky ooze with the patient.  His only clues might be the grunting or the sighing indicating a frustration or a kind of long breath loosening the anxiety.  These non-verbal signals alert the analyst to something that ought to have alerted the patient.  Because the patient has spent so many years trying to rid himself/herself of their feelings, it is nearly impossible to ask the patient to befriend these sensations in order to try to understand they are trying to instruct.

Abandon Righteousness All Ye Who Enter Here:

I want to mention one final caution, or give one clue to the patient/doctor relationship that I have found indispensable.  The black and the white, be it about segregation or integration, progressive and conservative ideologies, or kings and proletariat, requires one dimension before the intimacy can be accomplished necessary to work within the skull of a narcissistic condition:

Bring the non judgmental perspective into the room with you.  Have it ready at first indication that it needs to be used.  If we are afraid of the right or the wrong conclusion we are not in the correct paradigm.  An analytic consultation aims to uncover the effective ways the patient needs to know to run life on all cylinders.  The paradigm of ineffective vs. effective interventions is a more benign matrix to work within than is the notions of right or wrong..

The establishment of trust that the physician or therapist gets of himself/herself, becomes the back drop of hope against which the the patient will do all he can to help his ego sabotage the analysis.  The ego knows that if the analysis is successful, it will be relegated to one voice among many instead of having the singular voice that speaks loud, speaks first and speaks english.

The transformations for symbol and sound into concepts and words travels up a chain of DNA like material.  It picks up from the most primitive sensations and begins to evolve from an unknown thought to a known thought.  At this level of integration the patient can begin to become a partner in the discoveries that he or she will need to further advance his libidinal goals….Image 2_2

Advertisements

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

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….

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.

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.

Are We Looking for God

Are We Looking for God

I want to write in my blog because the last few weeks have been so packed with enjoying life that i have forgotten to write anything. I am not sure what that means yet, but I wanted to get it on paper that from my vantage point, at this moment and with the age that I have arrived at, being content with two to three swims a day in a massively turbulent ocean has been as helpful as running the clothes through an old wringer washing machine. I feel cleansed and squeezed dry of all aspirations and have found myself content with meditation, mindfulness & good food.
Tumbling around in a warm ocean while sitting in a tropical depression is not the kind of depression that I am use to dealing with. The depression associated with climate seems predictable and even fun, while the depression that enters the mind like a starving termite enters a piece of wood is entirely too profound to be considered when sitting in the sun. That’s an essay for another day.

Just to make sure that I drive the point home to my readers, I am trying to make you envious. I am wanting you to feel jealous of this respite in the salted, sun drenched stretch of beach known to the Treasure Coast as Surfer Beach. In addition to every one being 19 or 27 and gorgeous, the beach is nearly deserted for miles. The sand is a soft white sand that warmly pushes up through your toes as you drift down toward the turbulent sea, and the glistening beads of water that give everything an emerald and sapphire coloring, erupt from everywhere.

I took Maddie for a walk and a swim this morning and she went her own way and i did not see her again for 40 minutes or so. Eventually she found her way back to me, smelling like a wet dog, covered in beach sand with her tongue hanging out saying–water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. We meandered back to the the house and she lapped at the water from the out door shower as I rinsed the encrusted sand from everywhere.

One last point in this short post. I want to emphasize that I deserve this contentment with life. First, I worked for it. But most important I not only worked at this, but I studied and researched this. I mean happiness does not come on a whim and it is not securely given like a plaque or a gold star. It is a success that must be cultivated all the time. This does not mean that the cultivation need to be hard dirty work, some might be, but for the most part, happiness comes from knowing how your mind operates and then putting into practice what needs to be done over and over again in order to achieve the richness and the crispness that gives life its colors. Mindfulness, the creating of an awareness that you are somewhere in there doing the experiencing is crucial to feeling a sense of well-being. I am much more than the sum total of my ego.

Mindfulness and well-being go hand in hand. And, weather you approach this from a psychoanalytic perspective, a Zen perspective or a spiritual perspective, each perspective leads to the same end. Enjoying the journey, remembering that the process is as important as the outcome, and above all recalling yourself time and time again to the knowledge of the sensation that is the moment–this is the way forward.

I re-read parts of zen bible while I was here enjoying life and what struck me most was that it was offering a formula and that it seemed to be saying follow this formula and you will be given the way. It sounds christian. Maybe it is. I mean I think that what ever it is that we find, at some level most of us want to call this God. It is difficult to say you believe in God while at the same time professing to be a scientist. But in the long run the two are not incompatible. The Great Spirit, The Universe, Consciousness, A Higher power, The Light Within–these all have in common that they are a substitute for the word God which had become so over used by religion than many of us had to abandon the word because it was just too confusing to reconcile a bearded man on a thrown with a staff in one hand and a globe in the other with what in the 21st century we have come to know as a source of energy. In a way happiness has more to do with physics than any other academic discipline.

The energy of a positive attitude, Norman Vincent Peale aside–is what we are looking for. We are looking for God. We want to find that place internally or externally that feeds us with a sense of peace and a sense of serenity and a believing and an allowing for the good in the world to flow through us. So, if we are in college, in school or in church or in a monastery; or if we are in a lab or an orphanage or a hospital, we are seeking comfort. God gives us that comfort even if how we understand this is that our internal awareness coaches us toward life giving, life affirming events. I can skip a great deal of angsts and simply say: Thank God, this has been a wonderful vacation.

‘Tis a gift to be simple. As I begin to pack and put myself back together to get myself back to the office and to what i do for a living, I do this mindful that I have been blessed with a very deliberate opportunity. My life’s work is searching. I search for myself and for those who i love. I search and help people to organize themselves in such a way that they they will come to understand exactly how their particular mind works. And in discovering they will begin a practice that will help them to discover the divine within, not just once but over and over agin many times a day. Reflection on the moment is the best defense against an ego hell bent on robbing us of joy. As i become mindful that the experience of now is the breath of life, I can let go of some of the aspirations that are overwhelming, and let myself flow gently down the stream of life, anticipating that my needs will be met if i am in touch with my instincts as well as with my ego.

It amounts to a belief that we can indeed trade in fear for joy and gratitude and that this is a fair trade for everyone involved.

Dr. A. L. Dussault,
http://mindfulnessinpsychoanalysis.wordpress.com/

https://freeassociations.wordpress.com/

http://technorati.com/people/aldussault/