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I had a dream… but not like MLK’s!

Please don’t misunderstand me. I love MLK and his dream.

I believe we should all strive daily to make it reality. Not just for people of color but for all kinds of marginalized groups and individuals. Sometimes people are discriminated against merely because they are different.

This is sad.

I suppose animals have always herded, flocked and swam together, picking on those who fall behind or to the outside. But we are human beings, not animals. We have the brain capacity to reroute and overcome our animal biases. At least, some of us do. Others seem so entrenched in their rigid or pathetically elitist ways that they just seem unmovable. But let’s hope that’s just how they seem and not how they are.

Image via Wikipedia

So in the title of this blog entry, I am talking about a nighttime dream while I was sleeping that was not like MLK’s visionary dream.

Mine was not a dream about the way things should be. Rather, it was a kind of realpolitiks dream. A dream about struggle, cunning and power.

On the other hand, when I think about it, maybe my dream isn’t totally dissimilar to MKL’s “I have a dream.” After all, the results are based on merit, not on prejudice about size.

Here’s the link to my dream. You decide:


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Author Karen Armstrong talks about religion and violence

I was impressed with the lead-in to this video (follow link in above tweet). The anchor seemed a bit more on the ball than some media anchors, who stumble on their words as if they’ve just heard of some distant country, leader or idea.

Karen Armstrong is well-known within Religious Studies. Anyone who’s taken a graduate course in that area, maybe even undergrads, would know her name. It seems she’s a slightly better author than speaker. But still, what matters is her words, not so much the delivery. And she rightly points out that conflict is caused by a variety of factors—religion only being one of those.


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Resolving Conflict

rock5a

Are we so different?

Copyright © Anagarika Eddie, 2013. All rights reserved.

What we extend outward toward others, we internalize. Whether the emotions are negative, such as hatred, animosity, and anger or positive, such as love, forgiveness, and peace, these feelings seep inside of us and affect us deeply, both emotionally and physically.

You can feel the physical difference between, on one hand, hating someone, and on the other, forgiving someone. One is restricted and one is spacious, and our body reacts accordingly with feelings of stress or feelings of ease. The person we hate, or forgive, only feels the rejection or acceptance momentarily, where we, conversely, feel it constantly. This is because it is never them that we hate, but we, ourselves, that we hate, and the feeling is there all the time. We are always the recipients of our actions, no one else. We hate ourselves because the ego that we have created in our minds is a terrible burden to sustain, even if we think the opposite; that our ego is delightful.

Positive emotions create spaciousness, they create acceptance, and love accompanied by a feeling of completion. Hatred and anger, negative emotions, create closed-in feelings of conflict, and a feeling that something is left undone, which creates tension. Because we are under the influence of our illusions, we take steps to make certain that our hatred and anger is never directed at ourselves. We do this by searching for targets outside of ourselves in order to vent these negative emotions, and when we run out of distant targets, the targets become those closest to us.

We erroneously think that if we can only eliminate the people and ideas that we hate, or change them, the hatred will go away, but this never quite works out. There are always uncountable people and conflicting opinions to hate. The reason for this is that the hatred comes from inside, and if there is nothing to externalize the hatred on, we begin to hate ourselves. We are ever on a mission to discover new things outside of us to hate, and we try to keep the hatred alive, sometimes even over long periods of time, decades. It protects us from looking at ourselves.

Part of the illusion is that we, each one of us, are unchanging entities. We become concrete images in our minds complete with a set of uncompromising opinions. Concrete images of others and concrete images of ourselves is based on memory, and instead of being here and now and discovering ourselves and everybody else in a new light moment to moment, we chisel ourselves into marble statues based on memory and thought. And statues, memory, and thought are all dead.

Being truly alive is being completely absorbed into our passion, whatever it is. There is no room for hatred here. Those who are passionless, who have not discovered that which they love to do, will become caught up in the past, in the images and thoughts that haunt them constantly. Within our true passion is the absence of thought. In the moment of discovery, thought is never present, only creativeness.

Few discover these things, and as a result, many live a life filled with stress. This is a sad thing. And if someone would mention to them that there is a creative spaciousness of mind, that is absent of memory and thought, and a spaciousness that will introduce them to their individual creativeness and passion, they will be suspicious of any new ideas. Their habit patterns of hatred will instead look upon ideas alien to their conditioning as targets of hatred. This is symptomatic of closed minds, and the reason humanity continues to war with each other even after countless years of culture, in our families, our neighborhoods, and our world. .

A new consciousness is slowly evolving, however. If you hate, dislike, detest . . . look into it for your own good. You are only hurting yourself and creating karma that will come back on you, if not in this lifetime, in subsequent lifetimes. Begin with meditation, which will slow things down so that you will see how an initial feeling of fear spins out of control with a succeeding flurry of thoughts, turning the fear into hatred. You only have to see this once, clearly, and the hatred ends. The fearless never hate, and meditation, if practiced for some time, breeds fearlessness.

The one that we hate so, our separate ego, slowly evolves with meditation. It becomes extremely intelligent, and because it begins to realize the interconnectedness of all beings, it begins to experience genuine courage because it is no longer isolated and alone. It now has the courage to understand others, see their side of things; stand in their shoes, and feel authentic compassion toward them. Then the fear is gone. Then we can be integrated beings once more. It’s a great relief.

And if none of the above makes any sense to you at all (maybe you even hate it!), then simply look to the saviors and sages throughout history. Did they profess love, or did they spread hatred? They professed love, of course, and if you are a person of faith, to hate instead of forgive would be nothing less than a contradiction of your beliefs.

About the Author

Anagarika Eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary and author of A Year to Enlightenment. His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk.


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Jung Today: Reflections on Marion Woodman

Marion Woodman, Jungian Analyst and Author

Marion Woodman, Jungian Analyst and Author

Copyright © Michael Clark, 2010. All rights reserved.

Marion Woodman is an influential Jungian analyst and author whose publications include Addiction to Perfection and the popular The Pregnant Virgin.

Archetypes and Power

In a post-9/11 address about Jungian theory and terrorism, Woodman says the concept of the archetype is “bandied about” today and tries to clarify this elusive concept.

As the chromosomes are to the body,” she says, “archetypes are to consciousness.”

Woodman draws an analogy by asking us to imagine we’re holding a magnet underneath a piece of paper which has iron filings on top. When the magnet moves, the filings move along with it.

And so it is, she says, with archetypes and ego-consciousness.

The magnet below the paper represents the archetypal forces that have a dramatic impact on our daytime outlook. Or they may have an impact if we don’t recognize and tame their power.

Jungians believe that healthy ego development entails learning how to come to grips with the archetypes, thereby increasing mastery over one’s entire inner-outer environment.

For Woodman, the vast majority of Western peoples are blinded by a limiting Freudian worldview. Jungians tend to see Freud’s theories as a product of constricted psychic energy, contributing to an inadequate understanding of self and others.

Once we become aware of the archetypes, Woodman says life takes us into entirely new realms. We leave the proverbial river of Freudian theory and embark on the sea of Jungian psychology.

As Jungian Daryl Sharp once put it, the new joys and dangers of the archetypal ocean are quite real but some succumb to its destructive forces if the ego can’t keep step with a host of mysterious, invisible powers.¹

Conflict, Projection and Difference

Einstein once said, “everything in our world has changed except our thinking.”

Woodman relates this aphorism to global terrorism. While it’s pretty clear that humanity is essentially one big family, in terrorism and times of war our limited attitudes, influenced by archetypal energies, insist on projecting the embodiment of pure evil onto some other person or group.

This is Woodman’s and the general Jungian take on conflict. But it might be a bit simplistic. Could not one person or political regime, for instance, be more destructive, imbalanced and oppressive than another?

A further point for debate arises with the perception, sometimes advanced within Jungian circles, that all spiritual paths are the same.

Jung, himself, stressed individual difference. He also saw important differences among Eastern and Western religions.² While Jung encouraged individuality and knowledge (as gnosis), many of his adherents seem to have fallen into a convenient Jungian paradigm.

Just like the Christian churches Jung once criticized, some – but certainly not all – contemporary Jungians tend to conform to ideas and discursive patterns established by the Grand Master, himself, almost as if Jung were a holy and infallible guru.

Jung, however, wrote in his Memories, Dreams, Reflections that he didn’t “have things fixed.” As a psychiatric pioneer, he blazed a trail through the psychological underbrush. And it’s a task for posterity to clear new conceptual pathways appropriate for the 21st century.

Along these lines, Jung apparently once said, “I am glad to be Jung and not a Jungian.” As a Jungian he’s restricted by convention. But as Jung he’s free to revise according to his ongoing thoughts and observations.

Watered-down?

Another impression I got from Woodman’s address is that she, like many Jungians, portrays a sort of watered-down version of Christianity.

Woodman implies that the supposed past glory of the Christian Church rested solely on the inspiration of sublime art and architecture. The Church, she says, once conveyed the numinous but only a long time ago. And she ignores all those who say God’s grace uplifts them within the framework of the Christian Church–not just 500 years ago, but today.

On this point Woodman seems to liken the aesthetic appreciation of statues, paintings and stained glass windows to the indwelling power of God.

But is appreciating created beauty really equivalent to encountering the power of God?

It’s easy to stereotype Christians as one great body of Bible-thumping fanatics or, perhaps, as regimented automatons too insecure to experience God outside of the authoritarian but reassuring confines of ecclesiastical structure.

But these common caricatures ignore the very real possibility that some Christians may be called into and flourish within traditional religious frameworks, as suggested by figures like St. Faustina Kowalska, St. Francis of Assisi and Thomas Merton.

Moreover, we might ask if anyone can, indeed, exist without some kind of system in place. Perhaps the real challenge for our post-9/11 world is to understand and appreciate how various networks interact and potentially mirror our respective human strengths and weaknesses.

With this approach we might collectively identify and redirect the destructive, obsessed or deranged in the global community, thereby encouraging the much sought after qualities of progress, peace and love.

Notes

1. This reference is from an address by Sharp. If I remember correctly, the title is “Jungian Psychology Today: The Opportunity and the Danger.” When I recover the hard copy I’ll cite it fully–it’s currently deep within my library.

2. (a) Compare to Moojan Momen’s perspective as outlined in The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach, p.114, posted at http://www.vexen.co.uk/books/momen_tpor.html. Momen overlooks the possibility that an actual being, Mary, chooses to appear in Portugal while another being, Kali, chooses to appear in India.
(b) And consider Geoffrey Parrinder’s comment: “The wise man may not practise the same [magical or religious] cults as his brothers, but he can regard them tolerantly as helpful at their level, while he himself seeks the truth about human life and the universe according to the best knowledge and insight available” (Parrinder, ed. Man and His Gods: Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions, London: Hamlyn, 1971, p. 21). Parrinder arguably doesn’t acknowledge the scenario where the outside observer knows next to nothing of the subtle dynamics, spiritual knowledge, graces and complexities of another person’s cult. Indeed, the person inside the cult may see the outside observer as a presumptuous spectator who thinks they understand when, in fact, they don’t.

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Review – A War to End All Wars (DVD)

Reality Films

Many find it hard to understand just how much The Great War of 1914 to 1918, now called World War I, disrupted the global order.

We all know it happened. But reel after reel of haunting World War II films shot from 1939 to 1945 have, to some extent, eclipsed it within the popular imagination.

A War to End All Wars helps to remedy that.

This World War I documentary blends raw emotion, historical and contemporary on scene footage with sepia recreations to produce something quite different from the usual Sunday afternoon TV war program.

No doubt, this film breaks the mould. It doesn’t dish out apparently neutral information — arguably a modern myth — or come off like a standard evening news special.

Instead, broadcaster Robin Thompson passionately presents his take on inglorious Allied commanders and their bungling, irresponsible battle strategies.

British Field Marshal and Viscount Edmund Allenby takes most of the heat. But this movie isn’t just about portraying some of the Allied commanders as incompetent, uncaring snobs. It also humanizes enlisted soldiers fighting on both sides of the conflict.

Enter Corporal Robert Beveridge, the ordinary but exceptional Scottish soldier who met his untimely death before the war’s end. Beveridge’s heroic story illustrates the great cost of war while highlighting the importance of remembrance.

After all, the Allied soldiers fought for the rights and freedoms enjoyed and demanded by many today.

Only a cold robot could watch this film and not feel some emotion.

In addition to its call for respect and remembrance, A War to End All Wars displays a nascent spirituality.

To this effect, Thompson says everything looks “somehow familiar” while walking near the French fields where so many men were killed.

Thompson doesn’t elaborate, which is probably just as well. Viewers are left to fill in the blanks according to their spiritual beliefs.

A Hindu, for instance, might say Thompson reincarnated after being killed in the war. Whereas a Christian might argue that Thompson didn’t reincarnate but has a spiritual connection with the soldiers and their tumultuous era.

We can leave it to the pundits to decide because nobody really knows. The important thing is to remember. And that’s what this film does.

–MC

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