The Creator gathered all of creation and said, "I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it. It is the realization that they create their own reality." The eagle said, "Give it to me, I will take it to the moon." The Creator said, "No, one day they will go there and find it.' The salmon said, "I will hide it on the bottom of the ocean." "No. They will go there, too." The buffalo said, "I will bury it on the great plains." The Creator said, "They will cut into the skin of the earth and find it even there." Then Grandmother Mole, who lives in the breast of Mother Earth, and who has no physical eyes, but sees with spiritual eyes said, "Put it inside them."
And the Creator said, "It is done."
- Gary Zukav quoting a Native American. (1)
We've grown used to thinking that things happen to us from the outside-in. We are small and the world is large. At birth we are supposed to be simple creatures who gradually look and hear and smell and touch, thus slowly accumulating all that which we come to know. We supposedly learn behavior by rote, simply repeating the actions of others until they are also stored away, available for future use. At some point, we have stored away enough memories and behaviors that we can then begin to rationally process them. From that point on, we use our elegant minds, which supposedly separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, to think things over and make logical decisions. We like that image of ourselves, as rational beings in control of our own destinies. The world is outside us and we are limited by that world, but as rational beings we are able to deal with the challenges with which it presents us.
In this view, everything happens from the outside-in. This book is going to express a heresy: everything actually happens from the inside-out. At birth, we are not simple creatures, we are already complex repositories of memories and behaviors. When we look and hear and smell and touch, we are not simply pulling in from the outside, we are reaching out from the inside. While we may have to learn some behaviors by rote, others are already stored away, awaiting "triggers" that release them.
When it comes to making decisions, we don't think things over and make logical decisions. Thinking and logic are a very tiny part of our behavior. Instead, there seems to be something inside us which already knows who we are and who we will become. In order to get to that person we are intended to become, inside things are churning away, playing with possibilities. We get a peek into that process when we remember a dream. In fact, dreams are one main way that the inner makes its way into the outer.
But dreams are not the only way. Sometimes something that is going on inside us coincides with something going on outside in a dramatic way. We think about someone we love and, at just that moment, the phone rings and the person we love is on the line. We usually dismiss this as coincidence, yet more often it is something inside wanting to come out. Only, in such cases, the inside has to be much bigger than our personal inside; it has to be big enough to include the whole world and all who are in it.
Sometimes we need tools to help the inside come out. Our ancestors, foolish, superstitious beings that they were (in the traditional view, I stress), developed divinatory tools to help the inside reveal itself to the outside, tools like the I Ching or the Tarot deck or Rune stones or a vast number of other divinatory devices which capture patterns that are both inside and outside at the same time.
When something wants to come out from within us, it's going to find a way, and sometimes that way may not fit into our preconceptions. So first of all, we have to be open enough and flexible enough to accept what comes and not dismiss it just because it doesn't fit, or just because it makes us feel uncomfortable. Second, we have to be willing to simply accept the experience and whatever it does for and to us without rushing into putting it into a "box" that explains it all away. Finally, we have to slowly digest the experience, integrating it into who we are and what we believe. We need to take our time with this process as the experience is more important than the understanding.
From the inside out; that sounds strange to us, but the world is often stranger than we could ever imagine. This book looks at that inside-out world. Hopefully, by the end of the book, you will recognize it as the world in which we all live.
Finding Our Myth & Fulfilling Our Destiny
. . . It is only our conscious mind that does not know; the unconscious seems already informed, and to have submitted the case to a careful prognostic examination, more or less in the way consciousness would have done if it had known the relevant facts. But, precisely because they were subliminal, they could be perceived by the unconscious and submitted to a sort of examination that anticipates their ultimate result.
- C. G. Jung. (2)
Psychologist C. G. Jung insisted that we each need to discover our particular myth. If that sounds like a strange way to express the need to discover our destiny, it is because we have lost our connection with myth. Myths are not simply made-up stories about gods and goddesses, monsters and treasures, adventures and quests. Those gods and goddesses represent eternal human qualities that still live in each of us. Those monsters represent the all-too-human monsters we struggle with in our own lives, the treasures are those things we prize above all else. Each of our lives is filled with adventure if we see it through the right lens. Each of us is engaged in a quest that determines not only the course of our own lives, but the course of all lives.
The world is filled with meaning and we need to find ways to connect with that meaning, in order to discover our personal myth; i.e., why we are here on this earth.
We have deep roots, roots that intertwine with all roots, of all creatures in all times. We are each manifestations of a single guiding principle, a single meaning that struggles to make itself known. When we look closely enough at the world around us, we see ourselves looking back. When we dig deep enough into our own identity, we see the whole world spread before us.
What I'm saying are truths, esoteric truths, hidden truths, that are taught by all spiritual and occult traditions. All too often, even those in the traditions might not recognize them. It is far too easy to get lost in the details of a given tradition and lose sight of the few essential truths that lie hidden within the myriads of details specific to a given tradition. But all traditions know that we are one. All know that it is possible to experience that oneness. All know that life itself has a purpose and that we each have a purpose within the greater purpose.
Though there are many ways to say this, throughout this book, we will most often emphasize just two. First, we will talk about ways in which these strange events are experienced in each of our lives, because at some level, the only things we really accept are those which we have experienced ourselves. Second, we will bring in scientific descriptions of unusual phenomena, simply because we are all so inculcated with the view that science knows everything, (or so we think), that it's hard for us to take anything truly unusual seriously unless it has scientific support.
Beyond that, we will give ourselves free rein to bring in a wide variety of both facts and fiction in support of our claims. Though we'll try to be careful and indicate which is which, we can't guarantee which you will find to be more true. Personally we have found as much truth in fiction as in facts.
The Psychoid Nature of Reality
. . . Perhaps through our cells, or through the general cohesiveness of sentience and matter, we have access to any information in the universe.
- Richard Grossinger. (3)
Jung's self-exploration, work with patients, and study of mythology all combined to make him realize that there were two progressively larger strata beneath consciousness: (1) the personal unconscious (where personal memories are stored that we have either repressed or simply never brought into consciousness); and (2) the collective unconscious (where the entire history of the evolution of consciousness appears to be stored.) The collective unconscious is nothing mystical. Our bodies themselves are a virtual storehouse of the entire history of life leading up to present day humanity. Every living creature at birth already has a wealth of behavioral possibilities stored in the brain and body. If not, they would never survive. As the level of complexity of animals rises, the complexity and subtlety of the inherited behaviors (or possibilities of behaviors) grows. Undoubtedly at the point in time when dreams came into existence (as we will find later, this was a minimum of 65 million years ago!), the ability to access information symbolically also became stored, so that now we had access to not only inherited behaviors but inherited symbolic behaviors.
But even that isn't the whole story. Strange as it sounds, it begins to appear that the world itself is made up neither of matter, nor of mind, but of something that either partakes of both, or is more primary than either. Jung, who was ahead of his time in this area, as in so many others, called this underlying reality the Unus Mundus, the unitary reality. But he also came up with another coinage late in his life which is even more useful. Since this unus mundus partakes both of matter and of psyche, yet transcends both, Jung termed it psychoid.
Jung was a depth psychologist; i.e., quite literally, one who explores the depths of the psyche. He found that at its depths, the psyche had no limits in time or space. He was very interested in the fact that when physicists went deeply enough into matter, what they found no longer had any characteristics we associate with matter. In fact, they often were forced to bring in consciousness as a major constituent of reality. Because of this confluence of interests, Jung and physicist Wolfgang Pauli (4) together looked for a neutral language which could be used for this psychoid reality. Though, like most pioneers, they weren't wholly successful, they laid some tracks in the wilderness which all of us can follow.
One discovery was that this psychoid reality had structure. It was composed of nearly timeless elements Jung termed archetypes. These were structures that underlie everything we experience either inside or outside ourselves. The archetypes are the gods and goddesses, monsters and treasures, adventures and quests that I said earlier still live inside us. But archetypes are also the mundane structures through which we see all the people and things and actions of the world around us. Because they are the constituents of the psychoid world, they are not limited by the constraints of time or place. Whenever we experience something that doesn't seem to conform to the normal "laws of science", we can normally assume that there are archetypal roots to our experience. This book will argue that whenever we encounter the anomalous, we should look for the archetypal meaning that is attempting to be expressed. We will see this most clearly in our later discussion of synchronicity, dreams, and other less obvious places.
The Infinite Sphere
It [i.e., Nature or the Universe or perhaps even God] is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere.
- Blaise Pascal. (5)
The archetype of the individual is the Self. The Self is all embracing. God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere."
- C. G. Jung. (6)
Most of us still believe in a Newtonian world made up of separate material "things." Imagine the things of the world as a set of children's blocks. In this Newtonian view, everything can be made by piling our blocks together in different arrangements. Every event in this world is supposedly caused by an action of some material "thing." In such a world, it becomes increasingly natural to also think of ourselves as "things." But the world is actually not much like this now outmoded scientific picture.
The years 1900-1930 brought about a nearly total overturn of this Newtonian world-view. First came a series of discoveries that showed that the supposed smallest "things" of the world--atoms--were not the smallest things at all. Instead they contained still smaller particles, separated by enormous relative distances. Then came Einstein with the special theory of Relativity, which revealed that the only absolute in our universe was the speed of light, hardly a thing. Then his general theory of Relativity, which showed that all motion is relative to the observer; i.e., we are ineluctably intertwined with the world around us. Further, that space and time were not separate entities; rather, that reality is a giant space-time continuum.
Then came quantum mechanics, which further tore away any "thinginess" which was left for reality. At present, most physicists presume that the basic building blocks of reality are neither atoms, nor sub-atomic particles, but quarks, which have qualities that can only be described mathematically. In this quantum world, cause-and-effect no longer have meaning; rather things come into, or pass out of, existence based on probabilities, not certainties. Like the local weather man, who never says it's going to rain, just that there is 60% chance of rain, quantum mechanics tells us not that a certain particle will come into existence in a certain reaction; just that there is a 20% chance it will. In the most commonly accepted model of reality based on quantum mechanics (7), there is no reality as we know it until the act of observation which actualizes the probability and creates the seemingly solid world around us.
In the 1940s, this revolution in worldview moved from physics to biology and neurophysiology. Famed neurophysiologist Karl Lashley tried to discover the "atoms" of memory--engrams, as he termed them--the sites where specific memories are stored in the brain. Instead he found that he could cut out half a rat's brain, any half, and the rat could still perform relatively normally. His assistant at the time, now equally famed--Karl Pribram--realized that this could only mean that memories are not stored in specific locations, like books in library. Instead they have to be stored within the total pattern of the brain. And that pattern has to be holographic; any part of the brain must contain the whole pattern, though perhaps an increasingly fuzzy pattern as more and more of the brain is destroyed. It wasn't until much later that Pribram had the realization that all reality must be holographic! Instead of "things," reality must be made up of waves forming patterns, and every piece of that reality must contain, at least potentially, all patterns in much the same way that a visual hologram does.
The Role of the Individual
To describe reality we must describe the things that exist, and a description of conscious entities includes a description of their inner worlds. And the interior decorating of a human being, even when it includes a consciousness of world out there, will be lush with particulars not to be found out there.
- Novelist Rebecca Goldstein in The Brain-Mind Problem. (8)
But let's return to the role of the individual in this strange unitary world. If the inner and the outer worlds are inextricably intertwined, if in fact they are a single world, then the role of the individual becomes critical in understanding and advancing that world. It is possible to come to an understanding of this ultimate reality either by looking outwards at the physical world and describing carefully what we see, or equally by looking inwards at the world of the psyche and describing carefully what we experience. That latter has the advantage that, at least in part, our entry into that world, is unique to each of us. We each have a window onto eternity. We are each the center of "an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere."
The great Greek thinkers approached truth through a priori premises, dialectical argument, and logical extrapolation. It never occurred to them that they needed to check their conclusions against reality. For example, Aristotle concluded from logical reasoning that a heavy object fell faster than a light object. But neither he nor any of those who followed and repeated his conclusion ever tried to see if, in fact, this was true. It wasn't until the Renaissance that we began to look around us, describe carefully what we saw, and test our conclusions in reality. Just as Aristotle was representative of the earlier approach, Leonardo Da Vinci can be seen as representative of the Renaissance ideal with statements such as "Experience never errs; it is only your judgements that err by promising themselves such as are not caused by your experiments."
By turning our gaze outwards on physical reality, inevitably we came to regard ourselves as in the privileged position of observer. Just as it never occurred to the Greeks to doubt the limits of pure reason, it never occurred to the Renaissance thinkers that it might be impossible to separate the act of observation from the object under observation. But just as relativity and quantum mechanics showed the limits of Newtonian mechanics, they also revealed that observation is relative and that it is ultimately impossible to isolate ourselves from our observations. Physicist John Wheeler summarized this succinctly by saying that "man as observer changed into man as participator."
Similarly the discoveries of the mind, ranging from those of neurophysiology to clinical psychology, brought about the further recognition that each of us constructs our own version of reality within ourselves. Jung added a further twist with his discovery of the archetypes which structure both physical and psychic reality. Since each of us is born with access to the archetypes which underlie that total reality, we each possess a series of common windows out onto reality. But Jung also pointed out that archetypes are content-free; that is, they are like naked dressing-room dummies awaiting experience to clothe them. Through the lens of archetypes, we can all experience the same abstract reality, yet our individual experience of that reality is unique to each of us, defined by our particular strengths and weaknesses, colored by our individual experiences. We each serve as a unique filter for reality.
But perhaps our role is more significant still. Jung thought so. As we descend ever deeper into the psyche, we eventually arrive at a place that can only be described in mystical terms. A sufficient number of people in a sufficient number of disparate spiritual traditions have reached that depth that we can even chart its stages. First, there is a state of total bliss which is experienced as a union with all reality, yet in which somehow, paradoxically, we still retain our individual sense of identity. This stage is regarded as sort of a kindergarten of transcendence, a starting place from which we can proceed toward deeper understanding. We might call that the world of the archetypes.
The next great state is much harder to describe and fewer have reached it. Western mystic Franklin Merrell-Wolff has termed it aptly "The Place of High Indifference." At this stage, there is no longer any sense of bliss, or in fact of any emotion as such. Though we still have a sense of identity, it no longer has any particular meaning. Things are simply complete in and of themselves and we, as both part of, and all of, those things, are ourselves complete.
But there are still deeper layers. Chinese Buddhists have captured the process of enlightenment in a series of ten drawings showing the stages a young ox-herder goes through in search of his lost ox. There are several versions of this series, which are best known in the Western world through D. T. Suzuki's Manual of Zen Buddhism. (9) In one version the last stage is represented by a simple circle which fills the page, with the caption "Both Vanished"; this might be regarded as "The Place of High Indifference". But other versions of the ox-herder pictures go two stages further. After "Both Vanished" (called "The Ox and the Man Both Gone out of Sight" in one version), there is a stage called "Returning to the Origin, Back to the Source" which shows the natural world, symbolized by a stark tree above rocks. Then finally a stage called "Entering the City with Bliss-Bestowing Hands" where the young ox-herder meets an old, fat, jovial master. Both are clearly wanderers with no fixed abode, but there is a lovely, leafy tree over their heads. In other words, after all the stages of enlightenment, finally one comes back to the world to help others. And, in the process, we meet ourselves, both as young and naive and as old and wise.
Jung called the wise old man or woman within each of us the Self, capitalizing the word to separate it from our normal sense of "self." Since we encounter the entire world through the lens of the archetypes, even divinity must be met through an archetype. No matter what the actual nature of divinity, we can only experience it through those inner structures available within ourselves. We can trace the evolution of the "Self," by looking at our descriptions of divinity at various points in time. The progressive change in our expression of divinity--from the Greeks to the Jews to the Christians--can thus be seen as an evolution of the archetype of divinity within us, not as an actual change in divinity outside us. (It is important to remember that this is a psychological issues, not a metaphysical issue; i.e., it has nothing to do with the actual existence or non-existence of divinity; our views are necessarily limited by the archetypal structures within us, which change very slowly, as with any other evolutionary change.)
For the Greeks, divinity had a very human character because they were not yet able to imagine divinity wholly separate and distinct from human characteristics: divinity was split into many representative types of humanity--father, mother, warrior, beauty, etc.--each personified by a different god. Though the gods lived in their own realm on Olympus, they frequently came down to earth and interacted with men and women: drinking, mating, interfering in our affairs as they chose. Men and women were powerless against these all-too-human, yet infinitely powerful gods.
By the time of the Jews, divinity was no longer split among many different gods, but was contained within a single figure who transcended all such human characteristics. This single god created the world and all in it, and then largely left humanity to its own devices. There were still traces of the earlier more primitive view of divinity; for example, occasionally, Jehovah still interceded in human affairs: turning Lot's wife into a pillar of salt; causing the great flood, leaving only Noah's ark to survive; or parting the Red Sea for the Jews to escape their Egyptian masters. And this divinity still occasionally communicated with a few chosen humans, such as Moses or Jacob, but then only through intermediate symbols such as a burning bush or an angel.
With Christianity, a further step was taken in the evolution of divinity. For the first time, a model appeared in which divinity could be contained within a human being. Christ was something new: both human and divine. He provided an example of how the human and the divine can live together within a single being. (As did Buddha when he appeared in the East five hundred years earlier.) Only now are ordinary men and women awakening to that same realization: that each of us possesses divinity, if we are willing to look within and find it. If we do that, however, we find ourselves torn--like Christ and Buddha--between our human nature and our divine nature. By living with that tension, we not only advance ourselves spiritually, but we also help advance the archetype of divinity which would then be available to all other men and women who looked deeply enough within themselves.
An important role indeed! In this book, we will examine at length the ways in which we experience that inner world: through dreams, through synchronistic events we experience, and through divinatory tools. On the way, we will move back-and-forth between those personal experiences and what they tell us about the unitary world within which they occur. Let us begin with part of that inner world that we all have experienced, but all too often belittle: dreams.
1. Gary Zukav, in "What is the Soul?", Life Magazine, December 1997.
2. C. G. Jung, Collected Works, Volume 8: par. 545.
3. Richard Grossinger, "The Dream Work," in Richard A. Russo, Dreams are Wiser than Men (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1987), p. 212.
4. Wolfgang Pauli won the Nobel Prize in 1945 for his discovery of the exclusion principle in physics, in which no two electrons in an atom can have the same quantum state. Pauli went through a Jungian analysis with a colleague of Jung's. Jung wrote about Pauli's dreams, without mentioning Pauli by name, in Individual Dream Symbolism in Relation to Alchemy, included in C. G. Jung, Collected Works, Vol. 12, 2nd Edition: Psychology and Alchemy (Princeton: Bollingen Series, Princeton University Press, 1968), pp. 39-224.
5. Jorge Luis Borges, "Pascal's Sphere", in Other Inquisitions, 1937-1952 (New York: Washington Square Press, 1966), p. 8.
6. C. G. Jung, comments on Ira Progoff's doctoral dissertation, in William McGuire and R.F.C. Hull, editors, C. G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters (Princeton: Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series, 1977), p. 216.
7. The Copenhagen Interpretation developed originally by Niels Bohr as a philosophical description of quantum mechanics.
8. Rebecca Goldstein, The Mind-Body Problem (New York: Random House, 1983), p. 153.
9. D. T. Suzuki, Manual of Zen Buddhism (London: Rider & Co., 1950).
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