The Stranger-Than-We-Can-Think Universe

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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.

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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

Transcending Archetypes

Jung book.jpgTranscending archetypes means changing or evolving through established patterns of behavior.

If you are not familiar with archetype theory check out psychologist Carl Jung’s work on it and Caroline Myss, the author, for her books Archetypes and Sacred Contracts.  (For Myss’s archetype list see this page: https://www.myss.com/free-resources/sacred-contracts-and-your-archetypes/appendix-a-gallery-of-archtypes/ .)myss arch book

What both have established is that as humans, we tend to follow set patterns of how we perceive ourselves in the world and likewise, how we act/react to that perception; i.e., that if you view yourself as a warrior then you are continually at war with anything that seems contrary to your opinion of how it should be. The example might be that if anyone should tell you a differing opinion of a particular situation, you will defend your own opinion to the point of doing battle over it.

The problem with warrior archetype is that you are continually at war over just about everything, because you are wired to defend at all costs—that’s how you see your role in life; and during extremely difficult times, warrior archetypes survive better than most others. So there are good reasons for being a warrior, but they mainly involve doing battle with others for some reason. The problem arises when warrior creates reasons to do battle, rather than looking for more peaceful modes of operation.

warrior.jpgOr if all you know is war, then what else is there for you?

So how does someone transcend an established way of viewing the world and an established pattern of behavior?

How does warrior stop viewing the world around him/her as something to conquer—a gladiator’s arena in which to pit oneself against all takers—where personal survival is the sole focus?

And likewise, how does victim archetype, (which is a passive, accepting or even inviting the aggression of others behavior pattern, often established to gain sympathy or favorsArchetypes circle 2.png from others more powerful) change to be a bit more warrior-esque to better defend herself?  How does s/he stop trying to covertly manipulate others, and overtly declare independence and autonomy from them?

It takes changing your mindset—changing how you perceive the world around you and changing how you normally react to the stimulus that you do perceive.

I think maturity helps—putting a few decades of experience under your belt; deciding that when you keep finding yourself in the same situations just with different players, and it always seems to result the same for you, that maybe it’s less about the other person being the problem and more about your own behaviors as the likely culprit.

In other words, you have to want to change the patterns of your life, and to do that you have to accurately assess what they are. For doing this assessment I would suggest Myss’s two books mentioned earlier. The have helped me to see my dominant patterns so I can at least attempt to tame myself when I recognize an ensuing encounter that might normally trigger my natural reaction, giving me a conscious choice to try another mode of reaction rather than my most likely one.male war.jpg

Example: I do rebel and warrior very easily. But I would prefer to operate more from sage and mediator. To shift my own life view for my mode of behavioral operation requires yodaan intentional intervention meant to produce a more desired result than the usual one I experience.  It means I have to define my reactions to others that I will allow myself to reveal, and to avoid those reactions that are not helpful to achieve my long-term goals.

Many times it means getting my head out of the immediate moment and putting it into the desired future result. If I can do that, then I can curb my natural tendencies and redirect them into more productive behaviors.  But it takes practice and strong intentions to make those changes in oneself.chart

If it is any consolation to anyone, transcending a no-longer-productive archetype seems to come more naturally with age. But the desire to do so must be present or it simply will not happen.