The Quest for What We Lack

For some strange reason, the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz” kept coming intotinmanwizoz5.jpg my head this morning, saying, “If I only had a heart…”    And I of course assumed my subconscious was referring to the large “Orange One” on stage with all his daily ranting and conspiratorial lunacy. Yes, if HE only had a heart instead of that huge black hole swirling in his voluminous body.

But, he doesn’t.

So then my mind continued the “Wiz of OZ” analogy with the Cowardly Lion, who must be Congress, right?  If Congress only had the courage to stand up for our democracy’s constitution.  Yes, if only.

wizoz70thannOkay by now I’m paying attention and trying to determine who the other main players are in this mind-game parody.  Who is left: the Scarecrow, Dorothy and Toto, the Wiz himself, besides the witches good and bad, and Auntie Em.   Cheering Munchkins and Flying Monkeys must be all the rest of us, I assume, maybe representing our good and bad angels.

To me the main message of “The Wizard of Oz” depicts the search for self-awareness—where all characters set out to find the qualities that they think they lack in themselveslike the quest for self-knowledge and self-actualization.  And if we were to carry this into our present situation, I’d have to say that I think the large “Orange One” is too self-consumed to ever be self-aware, so I’ll make the analogous connections for him.

Back to matching characters to our current situation, I think Toto—the little dog—is Dorothy’s subconscious trying to guide her back to safety and sanity.

The Scarecrow was looking for a brain, right?  Or did he just represent innocence and ignorance? Who could that be, eh?  I know who I think it represents but I hate to say it here, so you’ll just have to guess.sepiadorothy6.png

But who is Dorothy?  Dorothy who searches to find who she really is and to make her way back “HOME” –who does Dorothy represent?  I think Dorothy represents the American ideal of who we are as a people trying to find our way back to being compassionate human beings who believed in fairness, equality, and the right to self-determination.

Then what does the Wizard lack and who does he represent?  Hmmm.  Well, in the show he’s a con-man.  He’s a fraud.  He pretends to know all the answers.  He tricks people.  He wizbehindcurtain67.jpgruns a phony operation to gain respect and demand adulation, but he is basically insecure and impotent.  Hmmmm. Who could that be??????

Perhaps the Prez can play two parts in this mind-parody: Tin Man and Oz Wiz.

So that leaves the good and bad witches and Auntie Em left to assess.

The witch dichotomy is dependent on your political affiliation, so I’ll leave that for personal consideration, but Auntie Em, … the maternal figure who is Dorothy’s stand-in auntieemsymbol45mother during these harsh-life conditions—who represents the safety and security of a stable, can’t–be-blown-away-by-a-tornado HOME.

She could be the symbol of Lady Liberty—the American ideological standard bearer, don’t you think?  Auntie Em as Lady Liberty.  “Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”  Yes, I can see that.

So, let’s bring it home here ourselves:  What is it that we the citizens of this once great country lack here, that we keep searching for in all the wrong places, …with all the wrong characters?

That’s a really good question.

characterscartoonwizozWhat do we feel that we aren’twhat do we feel that we lack—that we are trying so hard to make up for by being so gullible and naïve to believe a guy who stands behind the curtain, pulling levers and pushing buttons to make as much chaos as possible for us in our world?

Maybe as a nation of people searching for true, wise leadership, we feel that we lack genuine moral character ourselves and keep trying to find it in others who only play facsimiles of those roles on television.

[Moral character: The concept of character can imply a variety of attributes including the existence or lack of virtues such as empathy, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty, or of good behaviors or habits.” ]

Yes, I think we fear that as individuals we do lack moral character and instead we look for quality leadership in others to help us make it through more challenging times, rather than believing in ourselves to rise above whatever difficulties we might face.

The main problem for many of us in today’s world is that we have no idea where the attributes of moral character and quality leadership can be found, but I’m pretty sure that they aren’t behind that curtain with the Wiz. youhadthepowerallalong6.png

Let’s look in the mirror instead, because I think the entire point of “The Wizard of Oz” show was to say that’s where genuine moral character and self-determination were to be found all along.

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On Being Positive

If folks think that maintaining a positive attitude in today’s world comes easily, I can posemotibunch.jpgassure them that it isn’t.

When we are enveloped in such blatant cruelty to other human beings—strafed daily with offensive, verbal assaults on our person and our differing ideas—staying positive through all of THAT is quite a trick.

Every morning we have to armor up and set our defense shields to “DEFLECT” just tosupersademotri.png make it through the day. That’s a little sad, don’t you think? (Insert SAD- face emoji here for emphasis.)

Yesterday I watched a lovely, gentle person I know try to defend her immigration/child separation Facebook posts against cruel, heartless comments that countered her message.  I offered my simple “HEART-LIKE” (insert HEART emoji here) to her just to let her know that I stand hearteoti9with her, if only from a distance; but at the same time I know that when we engage on social media with people who strongly disagree with us and disagree with who we are as loving individuals, then they are NOT really our friends, even though they might be on our FRIENDS list.

And if we can’t handle their unkind comments, then we must either remove them as our FRIENDS or stay off the PUBLIC airwaves—it’s that simple.  But then it isn’t really simple, is it?  In fact, it’s a large, complex issue that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Unfortunately the level of venom in today’s public discussion has reached such fever ick emoti8.pngpitch that it’s like watching a foot-long hotdog being torn apart by two ravenous dogs. Something’s gonna give there—and within seconds that once-whole hotdog will never be seen again—at least in the same form that it previously was. (Insert “ICK!” emoji here.)

How can we be positive about the present state of our declining human condition?

A couple days ago I heard someone on a news show discussing what was happening to our sense of civility in general; and this person said something that I agree with: We are in an unmasking period in human interaction where the “shadow-side” of human nature is dislikeemoti84.jpgrising to the surface for all to view and assess.  No more pretending to “tolerate” others. (Never did like that word “tolerate”)

I agree.  Clearly we don’t tolerate dissension now. We don’t tolerate views that differ from our own. We don’t tolerate people who do not look like us or act like us, or talk like us. We don’t rise above our prejudices or biases—we embrace them, right? We remove the mask and say “Hey those of YOU who do not look or think, or act like me, … I hate you! And I’m proud of hating you!  So there!  Deal with it!”

As we now look closely at that unmasking of our deepest and darkest human natures, we say, “Yes, bigotry and prejudice, and racism, and homophobia, and xenophobia, etc….YES, …these all exist in our present world society and in each of us to some degree; and we are not as culturally and consciously advanced as the civilized people that we once believed our nation and the people who compose it, were thought to be.  We are barbarians still—pure and simple—we are still immersed in our primal fears of scarcity and fears of personal annihilation, and we are incapable of rising above those fears!”

We fear “otherness” in general, and in today’s permissive environment we act out those fears in the most putrefying and nauseating ways imaginable.horrifying emoti5

And that’s not just emoji “SAD-face” folks—that is emoji horrifying!    (Insert that nasty thing here.)

 

But yet, ….the POSITIVE from this great unmasking is that people can no longer hide behind who they once pretended to be—because they have been unmasked–unmasked by themselves in all their acrimonious glory–they have all exposed themselves for their true feelings on just about every imaginable subject—whether you wanted to know them or not.

gagmeface6

 

(Insert big “SMILEY-face” here.) ……

 

No, …that’s the “GAG-me” emoji.

The Stranger-Than-We-Can-Think Universe

strangerthanwethink.jpg

I’m pretty sure I came into this world with a big question mark on my forehead; and you can view that in every possible way because over the years I’ve probably considered most of them as well.

But foremost in my own search for answers to my deepest and most pressing life questions are the “how things work” and” Why are they intended to function in the manner that they do?” issues.

To me there is ample evidence that we live in a purposeful universe. We may not understand those purposes behind much of what we see around us, but there seems to be a logic of sorts—an intention, if you will, behind the structure of what we call physical reality and the interacting forces/components that create it.

I think it was one of my personal heroes, Buckminster Fuller, who said something to the effect that ‘geometry was the language of creation.’   If you as a reader want a mental challenge, read his two volumes of Synergetics (Book 1 and 2): Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking’.  I won’t pretend that I fully understood them but I did get the basic idea behind them—life is designed—nature is an intentional creation, but the questions of why, by whom and for whom are still unknown.

Buckminster Fuller was such a prolific thinker and articulator of the complexities of reality:

“Up to the Twentieth Century, reality was everything humans could touch, smell, see, and hear. Since the initial publication of the chart of the electromagnetic spectrum, humans have learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear is less than one-millionth of reality. Ninety-nine percent of all that is going to affect our tomorrows is being developed by humans using instruments and working in ranges of reality that are nonhumanly sensible.”   [R. Buckminster Fuller on Education (University of zodiacman.jpgMassachusetts Press, 1979), p. 130]

Or maybe we could consider another of my favorites, C.G. Jung’s thoughts on reality:

Jung: “The underlying, primary psychic reality is so inconceivably complex that it can be grasped only at the farthest reach of intuition, and then but very dimly. That is why it needs symbols.” – Carl Jung

So while much of what I write refers to relatable subjects that affect us in somewhat comprehensible ways, there is still much that also daily affects us that we are unable to grasp even the concepts of, let alone the significance of those affectations.

EintsteinQuestionEverything.pngAnd from Albert Einstein came the importance of stating those questions themselves:  “ If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”    [Albert Einstein, (1879 – 1955) Physicist & Nobel Laureate How to Define a Problem]

The world we think that we know is an intricate place that is likely beyond our present ability to understand the interconnectivity and true complexities of it.  But that doesn’t stop us from trying to do so in our own ways.

This blog is about mine.

Why Hear the “Psychotherapy and Spirituality Summit”

I watched/listened to the online conference listed above for 10 days.psych-spirit-final_1.png There were a total of 30 individual one-hour-plus sessions provided by 30 different presenters.

To untrained me who loves seeing the integration of both subjects into this unified psycho-spiritual approach to helping people, I think this methodology is extremely important in evolving psychotherapy for clients: to focus on ourselves as Spiritual beings simply trying to make sense of the world around us while determining our working relationship to it, to ourselves, and to each other.

There were some excellent speakers/practitioners participating in this summit; and the 30 individual sessions were totally worth hearing for those dedicated to listening within the allotted 24-hour, free-listening option, but I personally would not pay $300 for the DVD set, although some folks might. If you are interested, here it is: ( https://www.soundstrue.com/store/psychotherapy-and-spirituality-summit?sq=1&utm_source=bronto&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=C171108-PASParticipant10&utm_content=Welcome+to+Day+10+of+The+Psychotherapy+and+Spirituality+Summit#jumplink-buy )

Screenshot2017103021.27.01However, after listening to all of these practitioners and their own takes on how each one integrated spirituality into a psychotherapy practice, I can also personally say that there were some psychotherapists I would readily hear further in discussions or even in a personal session, and then there were some folks that I wouldn’t want to sit across from at lunch and have to listen to more than a sentence or two. Authenticity or falseness came across loud and clear with these folks in an hour-long session of them talking about what they do and how they do it.

This leads me to one point of my posting here: Not all psychotherapists are equal in spiritual depth and professional therapy skills. Those who were genuinely deep vessels of Spirit and who could relate readily to an audience and to their clients, were amazing and felt wonderfully aware, and, in my opinion, were likely helpful to a client.

Others, …well, …I couldn’t even handle listening to them for more than 10 to 15 minutes without thinking that they must be absolutely terrible with clients and simply taking a client’s money by extending session after session with little intentional progress or problem resolution for the client.  So if you are considering personal therapy, do your research into well-recommended therapists—and I’d look for client recommendations of whether or not this therapist helped the person make better sense of her life.

The second point I would like to make was: I personally liked the folks who talked about a ‘collaborative’ interaction allowing the client and therapist to work together to determine the healing direction for that person, rather than those therapists who acted more rigid and maintained an authoritarian relationship to their client.

A therapist’s job should be to help the client discover how best to help themselves, and many presenters taught clients self-empowerment as a major aspect of their sessions. Some folks actually stated that was their goal—to teach the client how to constructively frame life for themselves for future reference.

The Sounds True producer and moderator, Tami Simon, was great. She asked pertinent follow-up questions, pulled the more spacey folks back to reality and tried to get specifics about what they were explaining and HOW that approach applied to a psychotherapy practice—made each one elaborate and provide anecdotal evidence on how this approach actually helped their clients.p&s summit2.jpg

There were many approaches to these two main subjects of integrating psychotherapy and spirituality with differing techniques pertaining to how each therapist conducts their own practice. Every therapist was unique in some way from the others—and some were quite radical in their approach to helping a client, and even in how they framed the therapy experience for the client.

Overall, I felt it was enlightening to hear so many different takes on what makes a person human and how that humanness is to be explored and assisted in today’s world. To me the layperson, integrating spirituality into psychotherapy is recognition of our wholeness as soul-based incarnations on this often chaotic planet, and I feel this is a very good direction for the future of psychology in general.

(Hint for the future in my blog: I needed to mention the summit itself first, to then post additional subjects pertaining to those individual summit sessions in the near future.)

Archetype as Manifestation

om symb.jpgReading a blog post on Hinduism, I ran across a sentence that stated that Hinduism is often thought to be polytheistic (many deities) but actually it is monotheistic (one Supreme Being which is TRUTH); and the various other Hindu Gods and Goddesses depicted in statues and iconic art are merely manifestations of the Supreme Being. They are the recognizable ways that TRUTH manifests Itself in the world that we know.

True, this may be one person’s opinion/perception in general on the subject. But it spurred a thought in me that each of the iconic manifestations (Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Ganesha, Tara, Kali, …etc.) which handle specialized functions and forces of the arch black.jpgrecognized Hindu Universe, were similar to archetypes—specific behavioral patterns depicted in a generalized, recognizable form for the collective mind to grasp.

In no way can I, nor would I, try to adequately explain one of the most complex, ancient belief systems of humanity, but I can recognize that religions in general were often created to help people conceptualize/rationalize the interacting forces of their lives from birth to death—to help make a type of sense to how fragile their lives often seemed.

  • What’s the purpose, the reason, or the point of LIFE in general?
  • Why come into this existence for so short a time and then leave with little evidence of our having even been here?life purpose.jpg

Well, religions have tried to supply those illusive answers. Some folks might be satisfied with those answers, and some may not.

But what most religions do is to provide their followers with a purpose of life narrative that many find comforting in some way. To be believable, that narrative needs a cast of characters to provide the story’s action. Those action characters often provide the religion’s examples of the human-like behaviors to admire or detest—the should’s and should not’s examples—the goodness aspects to emulate and the badness aspects to avoid.

With deities, however, it is not so much the human attributes and failings that are primarily important about them, because their importance lies in the affecting forces of the Universe that they represent—forces for destruction or creation—forces for condemnation or adulation—forces for cruelty or compassion—forces for personal defense or protection—forces to block adversity and to clear obstructions.

These forces are often depicted as recognizable human-like figures—meaning that they are ARCHETYPES—a collectively recognized symbol representing a pattern of thought or behavior.

Example: When Shiva or Kali manifest in the world—watch out! shiva.jpgThey both represent destruction.

So if we wish to change our social and cultural concepts of how the world around us should function and flow, perhaps we should examine the archetypes/symbols we often associate with peaceful co-existence.

If we truly want to manifest a loving and compassionate world, we need an archetypal model to emulate. That may be the draw of Christianity, where you have an entire religion based on a recognized symbol of love and compassion for all in Jesus.

In Hinduism or Buddhism it might be represented by Tara, or Buddism’s Avalokiteśvara (male Bodhisattva) or Guanyin (female Bodhisattva) who also represent mercy and compassion.  But the point being: There are recognized archetypes already existing that represent the desired state of being. We don’t even have to create them. We simply need to utilize them as archetypal examples of loving forces for the betterment of humanity.

I am NOT a fan of organized religions. But I do recognize that their function is to promote models of positive human behavior and right-attitudes for humanity’s peaceful co-existence.wild angel.jpg

So perhaps if we focused less on the doctrine espoused by these religions and more on the general intention by all for positive, peaceful human co-existence, then there would be less necessity for warrior archetype to remain the primary action hero of today’s life narrative. Let’s switch to SAGE archetype for awhile. We need a little less automatic reaction and a bit more consideration before action in the world we occupy.

It’s a stretch, I know. But it’s definitely worth the effort.

Remember that an archetype is representative of a pattern of behavior, so what behavior is most productive for all of our futures? Hatred and destruction only create more of the same.

Love and peaceful co-existence assure that there might actually be a tomorrow to enjoy.

I vote for that.love hate.jpg

Eclipsing Cultural Archetypes

I knew the transcending archetypes theme would be a multi-part war aech.jpgexploration because the overview intention is to cover how we as a species are actually transcending the great collective warrior archetype—being constantly at war with ourselves and everyone around us.

But before we can examine species transcendence, we have to address our cultural and societal archetypes that presently prevent our future transcendence into a more sage-like existence where wisdom is more appreciated than force or power.

eclipseHere, midst the lunar and solar eclipse season in the USA, it’s not hard to see darkening shadows moving across our society’s sun. The latest insanity involves once latent and now rampantly exposed racism and bigotry across our nation, primarily led by the election of a self-proclaimed change agent “the likes the world has never seen before,” or so he claims.

Actually I’m pretty sure the world has seen a change agent like this before. About 1933 or so, the world took notice of hatred’s rising star at that time in Germany. So, if this hit8.jpgpresident were truly a student of history, which he isn’t—not even the Cliff’s Notes version, he would know that he isn’t unique. He’s just rehashed and reheated fascism at its worst.

What the Donald doesn’t realize is that the rest of us who DO know history know Hitler’s story in its entirety, and how it progressed into authoritarian madness for the world and all the people in his march of destruction.

How this could happen in our nation, is the same question that I’m sure many sensible and intelligent Germans asked themselves at the time of Hitler’s rise to power. What perfect societal storm made the conditions ripe for a narcissistic sociopath to come to the forefront, other than he knew how to successfully con people into believing in what he was selling because he’d done it all his life? That, and his backers (in this country and questionable others) threw all their billions behind destroying the opposition before him.

So here we are left with the aftermath of bad electoral decisions and their resonating, worldwide consequences.

kid w glasses.jpegHowever, what happened over the last week since the lunar eclipse, until the present with the solar eclipse diagonally crossing the entire nation today, has shifted the nation’s collective attitude and perspective so radically into resisting the hatred and bigotry espoused by the president and his minions of white nationalism, that it was like whiplash to the rest of us watching it happen.

City by city, for every white nationalist rally across the country, the countering peace/resistance rallies absolutely engulfed them. After the first skirmish in Charlottesville, VA, where the president spouted his support for the “free-speechers” of the alt-right at a press conference, then BOOM—the country and even Republican law-makers fought back to say, “Not on my streets!!!—Not in MY country!!!”race riot.jpg

I’m pretty sure this reverberating fallout from showing his true colors on national television isn’t over yet. And actually I was almost surprised that only Bannon got the boot so far when I’m nearly certain Amendment 25 was on the Security Council’s minds, if not lips, at Friday’s session at Camp David. I mean, isn’t that why Mike Pence was called back from South America? That’s what I would assume would be serious enough to make him cut his trip short. National Security can also mean eliminating internal threats to the country and people, which is what he most represents now.

We’ll see I guess. Once the successful businessman façade is completely torn away and the man’s character is exposed in its absolute moral bankruptcy, then there will be little left for even his most devoted followers to exalt.

So one major archetype is under close scrutiny and eventual trump whitetransformation right now—the archetype of a strong leader must be more closely examined to reveal what actually defines leadership for the future of civilization in general.

Pretty sure the present example lumbering over the ‘White House’ golf course in Jersey isn’t it.

Agent of Chaos

Sure, I could easily be talking about our Chief Executive Officer of the USA—certainly nobody does chaos like he does, but actually I was referring to our kitten/cat/Tasmanian 20170609_131620 (1).jpgDevil that magically appeared on our front step about 2.5 months ago.

I don’t mean to be discriminatory about orange, tiger-stripe cats here but since I’ve had a large number of cats and kittens in my life, including two previous ginger-striped ones, I knew that seeing this tiny, starving, max shoe.jpgmonth-old baby at the door was likely going to be quite a ride if we kept him because the other two little tigers had been in leagues of their own for terrorizing everyone around them, including the other cats and dogs.

But how can you turn away a gift from Spirit like that? We just couldn’t.

I named him Max—short for Maxim the Great. He’s very entertaining, very challenging, and he’s very, very naughty.

max eyes (1).jpgWhen a kitten holds eye contact with you to the extent that Max did at the start, I knew he was pretty intelligent, and would soon learn how to push all our buttons.

He’s going to be a big guy from the looks of his over-sized paws to his ever-lengthening legs and tail.

He’s also a real toughie who doesn’t back down from a good rough-housing until you’ve called the truce, not him. After the first week, he walked around here like he owned the place and we were merely his servants. I know most cats do that, but he’s worse—he’s a max eyes (2).jpgbiter—he enforces his own rules. I can trim his nails weekly but I can’t trim his teeth.  The only thing that presently saves us from blood scabs all over our arms and legs is using a water squirt-bottle on him when he bites or locking him in time-out for awhile.

Clearly we’d forgotten how good-mannered our last inside adult cats had been until Max reminded us of the difference between him and them. No plants are safe now, nor is any small object that can be pilfered from fewer and fewer locations that remain outside his leaping abilities.

The house is a mass of toys to distract him, boxes and beds to house him, and towels and blankets on all furniture to prevent him from shredding them—with his teeth, no less.

He has brought chaos into our previously quiet and stagnant lives.

max me.jpgI mean I’m trying to type this one-handed at times because he insists on being the middle of whatever I am doing; and it’s so rare when he’s loving and huggable, that you make allowances to accommodate him because Tasmanian Max is a terror of “epic proportions, unlike the world has ever seen before,” to quote the earlier mentioned agent of chaos that our nation/the world must presently endure.

I wonder if water squirt-bottles and time-outs would work with him? Someone should try it.

Anyway, I keep reminding myself that kittens go though behavior stages and soon enough he will be fat and lazy like most adult cats become. We simply have to survive the 1st-year growth phase. In the meantime, I also recognize Spirit’s metaphor on agents of chaos shaking things up in stagnant environments.

Let’s hope the nation and the world survives the large “orange one’s” insanity because I’m pretty sure he won’t outgrow it.

But as the vet said to give us hope for the future, “Neutering might help.”max on afgan.jpg