Monday, July 26, 2021

Suffering, Healing, Maturation

     “Humans have a mysterious ability to deceive themselves and supply the necessary delusions. It is super-honest to recognize that our desires are not always very clear-cut, and sometimes, with the pretext of saving others, we are mainly seeking recognition and gratitude, something to bind our wounds with. A whole host of influences shape our actions and our behavior, and even the way we view the world. If I look back over the path I’ve traveled, I see many moments in which, while thinking myself completely free, I was only deluding myself. Looking more closely at my interest in the spiritual life, the main thing I discover is an immense fear of suffering. In the beginning I was a bit like a shipwreck survivor trying to get hold of a life preserver. Over the course of time, this mainly self-centered motivation has become more diffuse, and I am beginning to open myself toward others.” Alexandre Jollien
     Matthieu Ricard, Christophe Andre, Alexandre Jollien. “In Search of Wisdom. A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on What Matters Most.” Sounds True, 2018.

     “The story begins with Faust, a middle-aged college professor, just becoming wise enough to know that he knows nothing. He has reached the pinnacle of success – the highest position possible for himbut finds himself alone, unrelated, his life meaningless. … When one’s ‘reality function’ – the feet-on-the-ground’ ability – is threatened, an encounter with the dark side … is the corrective.
     This is a terrible moment in the life of an intelligent human. He now sees that his level of consciousness, his perspective on life, will not support him. He has explored discipline and self-consciousness only to find them a dead end. This exploration is absolutely essential in one’s evolution, and the man who has not trodden that road is not eligible for the moment of despair that is also the moment of redemption and enlightenment. This is the midlife crisis, the mute suffering*** of existential man, the dark night of the soul. This is the experience of the intelligent man, the heroic man, the one who has reached the goal of modern consciousness. This is what happens when you reach the top of the ladder only to find that it was set up against the wrong wall. It is the very best human who suffers this Hamlet crisis. Lesser men take refuge in guilt at their inadequacy, or blame their environment, or find yet another set of windmills to vanquish – anything but face the terror of seeing that (their current) three-dimensional consciousness is not bearable, no matter how finely developed it is.
     It is a compliment of the highest order when a man finds that he cannot go farther and that his life is an irredeemable tragedy. His ego consciousness is stalemated, and this stalemate is the only medicine that will drive him out of the Hamlet tragedy and inspire him into a new consciousness.
     A fault of this magnitude cannot be repaired, but can be healed only by finding a whole new level of consciousness from which to function.
     … the ego-centered man fails; (one) who learns a center of gravity GREATER than himself, redeems that failure. If one were a genius the process would be inspirational, but for most of us it is experienced as the torture at the end of the rope. This divine/hellish point is the critical moment that can make or break the rest of a man’s life.”

     Robert A. Johnson. “Transformation. Understanding the Three Levels of Masculine Consciousness.” HarperOne, 1991.

*** “The curative solitude and the healing tears come automatically to us – for nature is aware of our suffering ... All symptoms are healing, but only if we listen to them and respond. ...
     The first task is to take the suffering inside as an interior event. As long as one blames someone outside or holds some institution responsible for the problem, there is little chance of learning or enhancing consciousness.

     Robert A. Johnson. “The Fisher King & The Handless Maiden. Understanding the Wounded Feeling Function in Masculine and Feminine Psychology.” HarperOne, 1993.
     The old meaning of suffer was 'to allow', whereas we try desperately to exclude suffering.

     “in the Old French tarot, the Fool is blindfolded, which indicates a voluntary willingness both to forgo a dependence on the outer eye and to move toward a contemplative life with an inner eye, and to trust the companionship and guidance of his dog. In this sense this figure is the Wise Old Man. (Marie-Louise) Von Franz equates the Fool with ‘a part of the personality or even of humanity which remains behind and therefore still has the original wholeness of nature.’ In this way the dog seems a natural companion to the Fool.
     Another way to look at the dog jumping up from behind, would be … as an instinctual attack from the unconscious, exposing one’s human nature … as a way of being driven onward. Von Franz writes of this instinct within the archetypal process of individuation when she writes, ‘there seems to be a tendency in man to reach a further level of reflection and consciousness, and this comes from instinct and not always from outer disturbing factors alone.’ In this view individuation is seen … as something that must be suffered, and the Fool is viewed as the wanderer, the stranger, the lonely man suffering his own fate, being driven by his instincts.”

     Eleanora M. Woloy. “The Symbol of the Dog in the Human Psyche. A Study of the Human-Dog Bond.” Chiron, 2018.
     Again, the old meaning of suffer was 'to allow', rather than exclude or resist.

     "In times of trial as in times of joy, one must continually ask oneself, ‘What is my existence calling me to, here and now?’ … Here there is no promotion in rank to be won – it’s just a matter of going forward and loving ever more deeply, without clinging to any fixed reference point. Someone who confines himself to a particular identity will never know an end to suffering." Christophe Andre
     Matthieu Ricard, Christophe Andre, Alexandre Jollien. “In Search of Wisdom. A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on What Matters Most.” Sounds True, 2018.


“Whoever uses the spirit that is in him creatively is an artist.
To make living itself an art, that is the goal.”  

Henry Miller

"To heal means to meet ourselves in a new way –
in the newness of each moment
where all is possible and
nothing is limited to the old.”


Stephen Levine


Old French Tarot card "The Fool"


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