a dove. Don’t even open your mouth for even a coo.”
From Soul of Rumi by Coleman Barks
Deep within the hidden reaches of your unconscious mind and in the place between your thoughts there lays a stillness that when embraced opens the door to your true nature.
Carl Jung believed that we all have aspects of both light and shadow within us and that the process, some would say goal, of life is to integrate the two into one whole thus reconciling both good and evil. The shadow or dark sides of ourselves cannot be merely hidden, shoved down into the caves of our unconscious mind for they don’t disappear just because they are no longer seen. They will have their say in everything that we do and if repressed long enough they will rise to the surface causing chaos in our dreams and in our waking lives. The energy of the shadow is always there and can be used for good or evil.
Not too long ago I read an article in the New York Times. It was a story about the museums of death found in many places around the world. I was surprised by the title for I thought all museums were about death aka Natural History museums with all its carefully displayed dead animals, Art museums where most of the painters have been dead for such a long time, The National Funeral museum in Houston, Tex., antique auctions museums where you can find really old furniture from the houses of dead people, well you get the idea.
And what’s the fascination with cemeteries and skulls and horror stories?
I think that we dwell in awe and fear at the world’s greatest mystery, death. It’s that part of life that terrifies most of us because it portends something we can know nothing about, non-life, specifically our own. What is non-life? We know it’s the opposite of what we have now, but what is the opposite of life really? And why do we even ask the question? Fear? Fear of the unknown, fear of what is dark to us? Our unconscious mind is dark to us but as long as we are alive we have potential access even though we’d rather not, but death? Now there’s a darkness and unknown we can’t even begin to fathom. It’s a bottomless abyss that goes on forever.
For some it’s not death that is feared but the process of getting there because it can be so frighteningly painful and mostly uncomfortable or so it looks. We humans will enter into almost anything if we truly believe there’s a pot of gold at the end of it– something better than what we have though we’re never satisfied with what we have. But not to know? Too scary.
The promise of no pain and eternal peacefulness seems a pretty good draw for letting go of life so as to enter some kind of heaven, but the “Great Decider” determines whether we wind up there or in the burning cauldron’s of hell, or so we’ve been told, though I’m pretty sure those stories come from the same type of folk that wrote the stories for the Brothers Grimm and for the same reason, to keep the children in line, whether they be little children or adult children. This reflects the belief that left to their own devices people won’t do the right thing. That is of course a pretty cynical view of humanity usually portrayed by the “fearful ones” who don’t know who they really are and by extension who we are. In the United States we call them Republicans or the Alt-right.
Some folks have solace in the belief that they, body and all, pass into another realm. But the ego part of us is of the flesh, that 3lb squishy thing inside our head that some of us occasionally think with and that decays and shrivels and turns to dust– we like with everything else in life can’t take it with us. So what is it that goes on to wherever we imagine consciousness continues on to?
“The soul! The soul goes on” cry still others. But what is that? Have you ever seen it? How often have you been aware of it? Do you actually identify with it? How many of us truly know of that invisible, ephemeral ghost in the machine that we imagine to be us, after all aren’t we the thinking, feeling, frightened, pain wracked, opinionated, memory-filled, squealing thing with a name and social security number?
So what is the soul? Is it a living thing? Well if it is living within the body wouldn’t it be subject to the same decaying effects after death? Ahh, so it’s not alive, it’s, what, a spirit? What’s that? And why does it need us as a host to visit the world? And if it loses its host where is it, what does it experience then? Is it conscious? Was it our consciousness all along only we became duped by the not so long lasting ego that convinced us that we were actually the ego?
Recent research has shown that even after a person has been pronounced brain dead, usually a no-turning-back step beyond clinical death when the heart stops, that “consciousness” may in some cases continue beyond the functioning body1. This is known as an OBE or Out of Body Experience. What that consciousness is however, that appears to be separate from the brain has scientists stumped.
This soul thing probably has no fear of death because death isn’t part of its life but the ego is a jealous thing and envies and fears the soul because of its non-death. It dreams of being like its opposite and creates a myth of everlasting life. There is everlasting life, but probably not like the life we currently experience, but the ego doesn’t want to hear that, so let’s just keep that between us.
Still others see the soul as a transmitter of the spirit into the receiver of the brain that then allows it to be manifest in the world making us sort of like a TV with arms and legs.
“Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.”
The Psalm of Life
by– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I go into greater depth with the exploration of death in the Chapter from the “Dragon’s Treasure”titled Death, Yours, Mine, Ours (pg. 168).
1 Life after death? Largest-ever study provides evidence that ‘out of body’ and ‘near-death’ experiences may be real, independent.co.uk/news/science/life, 7 Oct. 2014.
Q: Do you think there is something like a magical person, Bob? Are some people really magical or is it an illusion we create?
A: There are mystics, who seem moved by the spirit of something ineffable and there are those who are so integrated with the world around them that they seem to make things happen. There are also those who have the unexplainable* show up in their lives at a greater frequency than normal. There are those people who seem to exude magic as though there is some unseen source of energy about them as well. There are yogis, gurus, shaman and just ordinary people who can do phenomenal and extra-ordinary things. I don’t think there are Harry Potter wizards and witches with wands and broom sticks, but there are those who seem to wield a form of magic.
One of my favorite writers of this kind of magic is Carlos Castaneda who wrote about a Yaqui shaman named Don Juan who I believed after three books was a real magician. Though the character was fictional, Castaneda wrote from what he knew and what he knew was truly magical and extra-ordinary. I have tried a number of the lessons taught in these books (they are novels not self-development books) and have found them useful both in my practice and in everyday life.
And this would be my definition of “magical”, the ability to produce and perform the extra-ordinary. Some people are very adept at that. Some are able to see things that the rest of us do not and are able to use what they see in extraordinary ways. Some have phenomenal talents that they are able to boggle the mind with. As you know I believe that within all of us there is a magic waiting to be unleashed. Some are closer to it than others, meaning they have fewer obstacles to its expression. What I write about is how to deal with and overcome some of the obstacles.
Keeping in mind my definitions and caveats, in my nonprofessional opinion my answer to your question is “yes” there are probably magical people e.g. people who wield magic.
*I use this word whenever I come up against a phenomenon that appears real, but is without any scientific corroboration, or explanation.
I don’t often do this i.e. copy or “mirror” from another blog but the following post from the Book of Dreams Blog is perfect for the Dark Knight of the Soul as well. I hope you enjoy it and get something from it as much as I did in writing it (yes, I’m the author of both but they’re my blogs so I get to be a little narcissistic if I want, besides I couldn’t decide in which blog it belonged).
A lesson from our dreams: From Plato’s Shadow World to our own
“I have often said that every person in a dream represents an aspect of the dreamer e.g. their emotional and behavioral characteristics are a mirror of your own. Though this is a truth in dreams it’s also a truth in our waking lives as well.
Each of us is mirrored* in the others that we meet. Hate a certain behavior in someone and you are seeing your own rejection of that behavior in yourself. Dismiss someone out of hand it’s probably because you don’t want to acknowledge their behavior that they reflect from yourself no matter how small it may be.
How are the people you reject just like you? How are the people you like just like you? Both reflect parts of you.
This fact leads me to compare the dream world with the waking world and helps me to see that maybe both worlds really are a dream, the sleeping dream and the waking dream. Interestingly learning to decipher each dream can help us understand ourselves better and where we fit in the overall scheme of things. Both dream worlds can act as a personal therapist and guide through the journey of our life.
Often when a dark and scary being shows up in a dream we want to run from it, hide, or verbally or physically defend ourselves vigorously. This type of dream being is known in psychology as a shadow aspect. When the shadow shows up in a dream either in the sleeping or waking world** take a break before reacting for there’s an opportunity being presented here for you to see a part of yourself that may need dealing with and perhaps modifying so that you can begin to manage the darker aspects that show up throughout life. In short, seeing others as a mirror for self-improvement and/or self-acceptance is a sign of a maturing and evolving psyche.”
**If you want to look deeper into this concept of the Waking Dream and how it is used therapeutically for greater self-awareness you might like to read “Life as a Waking Dream” by Diane Kennedy Pike, Riverhead Books, 1997.