My shadow

In good times and bad you are always there. You’re not a fair-weather friend like Mr. Good Guy Feeling Good About Himself because when I start to feel like I’m him you’re always there to remind me of why I shouldn’t but when the going gets rough Mr. Good Guy will often throw me under the bus and run and hide.

When I start to think that I may actually have a talent you’re always there to tell me that I don’t really at least not any more than most others.

I used to think that you were not very helpful that I’d just as soon you were gone, dead, and buried but you never take a hint because you’re always in the shadows and waiting to pounce.

I’ve read once that you are a part of me and that I cannot ever get rid of you or even train you to behave yourself and that in order to lessen your power over me I need to bring you out into the light because as everyone knows shadows can’t exist in the light. But you and I know that’s not true because just as light needs the darkness the darkness needs the light. To have one is to have both.

So, because you’re always going to be there, how do I accept you in all your warty glory?

How if I cannot get rid of you do I learn to hold you as a friend because I’d much rather have an agreeable relationship than one that is not.

I suppose that if it were not for you I would not know where it is that I would need to grow to be a better person, like where I need to be less arrogant, more accepting of differing points of view, less reactionary to fear and hurt, more giving, more understanding, more open, more loving, and less judgmental.

I also need you to point out that I am no different to those people I hate and judge to be less than and that my attitude about THEM also contributes to what is not working in the world.

You can also help me get my needs met by pointing out what they are through their absence like belonging, being accepted as I am, being useful to others, and being acknowledged. It’s as though I’m always trying to BE that is, to exist and to have me be acknowledged for that. Somehow acknowledgement makes me feel real and you in all your incessant critique makes me at least feel real. You are always there to tell me that I leave a lot to be desired but that I am at least here making that negative difference. 

I really do need you because you seem to care that I am here and care what it is that I do and don’t do while I am here. How can you not love something that cares that much about you and something that is constantly kicking you in the pants to be better and more than you are being?

Okay, I guess you can stay because I think that after all this time I don’t really know what I would do without you because you really are an important part of me, the part of me that makes me strive to learn, to accept, to act outside of my safety zone, to challenge my inherent laziness, to identify and strengthen my weaknesses and to care for others. You do all that by never letting me rest on my laurels or by never really letting me have any to rest on. So, the Good Me reluctantly accepts your friendship but don’t get all mushy about it.

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*For more on the shadow self type in the word shadow in the search box near the bottom of this page.

Awakening, alienation, and Schizophrenia—a connection?

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Imagine for a moment that everything we see and hear is but a dream a waking dream if you will where all seems real and following a rational and very linear approach to the world around us. Unlike this waking dream* what if the sleeping dream were to present a reality that was the mirrored image of the waking dream where everything seems real but seemingly irrational and non linear? The experience of the reality of both worlds comes from the individual experiencing them and is projected by the dreamer and is an effect of the inner world of their psyche. In either world as experienced the dreamer cannot be sure they are awake or dreaming.

It is said that if one pinches themselves and it hurts then they are not in a dream but what if feeling in a linear dream world feels like pain and in a nonlinear dream world feels like sadness or the color red? One world follows linear rules of cause and effect while the other does not. Are these worlds any the less real because one does not look like the other?

In a linear world we sleep and then we wake up. It is said that we are becoming conscious from a state of unconsciousness. But could it also be that we are becoming conscious of the unconscious? But perhaps they are mirrored forms of one consciousness.

While pondering this little thought experiment I settled down to meditate on it when a question formed in my mind that wouldn’t go away and shanghaied my focus (this happens more than I like). It went something like this: If a person were living within a waking dream, what would happen if they actually woke up?

As I sat upright I began to imagine what might happen. If most of what drives our vision of the waking world is effected by our personal and collective unconscious material that includes many archetypal symbols shared by all humans both in dreams and in what we call consciousness, what if we were to awaken from this shared symbolic vision and find ourselves functioning with a different symbology? This would probably affect our linguistic system, visual and mental interpretation of everything around us.

Those around us who were still living in the world and asleep would see us behaving in a most peculiar way and we might be confused what with not being able to communicate adequately with those around us. Even our experience of objects and people around us might be altered and our relationship to these might look somewhat delusional to others.

Looking closer at the possible behaviors of this theoretical “awakened” person, I noted the similarity with the diagnostic pattern of schizophrenia. I also remembered an article I’d read years ago that discussed the similarities between those with schizophrenia and shamanism. The seemingly bizarre philosophies and insights of many religious mystics also come to mind.

R.D. Laing, a Scottish psychiatrist during the 1950’s through 1980’s, suggested that Schizophrenia was triggered by what is known as a Double Bind situation, what is sometimes called the “Incompatible Knot” caused by extreme and prolonged different, or incompatible messages and an attempt of the psyche to resolve these**. Laing also suggested the possibility that when experiencing this double bind situation the ego and the self cannot express themselves and that can cause a very personal symbolism that is meaningful to the individual and incomprehensible to all others—diagnostic of Schizophrenia. He also reasoned that quite possibly the actions of those identified with Schizophrenia may actually be in the process of trying to avoid the losing of the self.

For Laing Schizophrenia may be a transformative process like the Shamanic Journey where one might enter a state where they encounter insights which make them more grounded perhaps in an expanded reality.

Might also some of those who experience schizophrenia be on a shamanic journey and  among the “awakened,” or they who have experienced a shift in perception? This is hard to tell especially when some doctors use a medical model, or even a behavioral model based on biologics. Dr. Laing suggested that behaviors such as those exhibited by those with Schizophrenia, can both conceal or expose experience. Is it possible that the Schizophrenic is trying to communicate the experience of the shift in awareness, but have lost their connection with the world around them?

But this connection of which I speak between awakening and schizophrenic behaviors is only rumination on my part, or at most, speculation in that there is no evidence for a connection nor for that matter is there any evidence for the Waking Dream as a reality. If the connection is true, I’m not sure I want to be awakened though the prospect and mystical promise is tantalizing.

There does seem to be some experiential evidence, however that society has created a context for behavior that may be antithetical to normal, or natural behaviors e.g. where there is encouraged and unnatural split between inner and outer experience—we are, generally speaking, not aware of our inner selves and thus most of us experience a pervasive alienation from one another and a general misunderstanding of reality. Under extreme cases this may lead to extreme forms of alienation e.g. Schizophrenia.

 

For without the inner the outer loses it’s meaning, and without the outer the inner loses it’s substance.”

 R.D Laing, The Politics of Experience, 1972

 

“For nature, as we know, is at once within and without us. Art is the mirror at the interface. So too is ritual, so also myth. These, too, bring out ‘the grand lines of nature,’ and in doing so, re-establish us in our own deep truth, which is one with that of all being.”

                                     Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, p. 132

 

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*see also 1) https://thebookofdreamsblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/30/waking-up-from-the-dream/  2) https://thebookofdreamsblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/22/dreaming-wakefulness/ 3) https://thebookofdreamsblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/awakening-from-the-darkness-of-mere-being/ 4) https://darkknightofthesoul.blog/2018/03/09/dreaming-yourself-into-existence-become-lucid-within-your-waking-dream/

**Laing, R.D., The Politics of Experience, Ballantine Books, Inc., N.Y., 1967

 

 

 

Do I need to go AWOL in order to find myself?

 

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The Dream:

I’m in a resort with many other people, but as time goes by I note, as do some others, that everything is pretty much the same and all is regimented. We all ride bicycles around and around the grounds, eat together at the same time and in the same place, lounge around the pool in the sun together. There’s not much of any independent action.

One day, when riding around together I divert from the group and take another route, sometime even off the road. Other people, who are working in the field, look up and are startled as I pass by. I spend the rest of the time trying to find different things as well as a way out.

Somehow I do find a way out (but not a physical way out in that I seem to escape without going anywhere and yet I’m not there any more!), but then realize, “Oh my God, I’m AWOL. But how can that be, I’m not in the military?”

Possible Interpretation:

Normally I would treat this as just another “feeling trapped” dream, or a dream that is telling me to be creative toward some solution. But this time I thought that as the dream suggests I might try being creative and avoid the preconditioned interpretation.

Perhaps the boundaries of the resort and its entertainments are representative of my ego-boundaries? Do the routines represent classical conditioning i.e. a conditioned response to the events of my life? Is this kind of stasis a manifestation of ego-bondage? Is what I’m doing in my life that should be pleasant, become just a set of prescribed, or even proscribed, behaviors or pleasure responses? Is the dream an inner command trying to be heard that though I may not see I am probably mired down in yet another ego-identity designed to create yet another boundary between me and others.

Have I allowed myself to remain mired (I like that word!) in preconceived answers e.g. in a preconceived formula to living? I myself have dedicated myself to an idealist schema of self-exploration beyond what I identify as my ego. In this quest I’m looking for what I call the authentic self, which is a little difficult to do in that I don’t yet have a well-defined picture of what the authentic self looks like. My tendency is to want to follow what is comfortable, though it frequently becomes boring in the long run. In another scenario I seek to reject the dictates of outside authority (yes I have issues). Failing that I then try to change how it looks as though that will bring about something new and entertaining again, thus my life becomes one long string of chasing what can’t be caught (or avoiding what I reject and thus is chasing me) and I forget what the authentic self is all about.

When I diverge from the path that I’m on it’s as though I am functioning outside the rules of my life that usually guide me safely through it, but that just traps me in a conditioned life, in concert with everyone else, but not authentically me.

Following the social-ethical rules may be like following the ethical rules such as the Ten Commandments, or Buddha’s eight-fold way, but will these alone enable us to find ourselves? Alas I don’t think so, one needs to go beyond, that is to escape from, the letter of the law toward its spirit. Given that the spirit of who and what we are is right here and right now, we have gone nowhere other than where we are when we have escaped the boundaries of where we find ourselves (read that line again, it makes sense!).

The goal that this dream may be alluding to is to soften the hardened boundaries of my ego placement a little in order to get outside this imagined self so as to see yet something new. I wonder how one might actually do this? This might be a good subject for another posting.