Saturday, June 13, 2020

My Significant Other is the Kosmos - Darker than any Mystery, Part 7 continued: Three, Then Three Again...Then Again, Three



Third Movement

In my previous posting I identified, within the general field of my psyche, two groupings, each with three elements within my experience; identified them by simply witnessing them and recognizing distinctions.  The first grouping is composed of the three worlds I inhabit - the common, mundane world; the world of Alchemical Creativity; the world of Mysterious Rapture.  I've discussed each of these as well as I can within my limited abilities, and in fact it's by going through the process of clarifying them in this blog that the distinctions of each have been made clearer to me, as I hope they have for the reader.  I've also described the three aspects of my psyche (as well as I am able) that inhabit each world, that speak its language - little jeffy; Big Jeff; and what I labeled in the previous posting as The Unnamed.  Since that last posting I've come up with a tentative, perhaps temporary new name for this third inhabitant of the world of Mysterious Rapture - The Unborn.  The Unborn has been conceived, is an embryo in utero kicking its feet so to speak, therefore can be identified even if still in a quasi-formless state.

Reflecting upon the experience of these three separate aspects of myself inhabiting three separate worlds, it occurred to me a potential problem arises.  Is my psyche fracturing, splitting off into three aspects that can never merge, as in parallel lines?  Three worlds in three separate locations, three separate dimensions?  That is certainly how it feels at times, especially when there is a language barrier involved, which might suggest the potential for a disassociating, for a pathological splitting off of the personality into independent entities.   Yet I don't feel fractured; on the contrary, I feel more whole than I ever have.  Let's look at this a little more closely.

These aspects of my personality have a common characteristic in that each world/inhabitant is a whole that stands alone in some sense - little jeffy has his world of work and play, joys and anxieties, problems and problem solving, which to him is complete, is a whole.  Big Jeff has his own whole world of intuition, of a kind of magical alchemy, which little jeffy can't penetrate - he doesn't speak the language.  Yet Big Jeff can include little jeffy's world in his awareness; in fact he uses little jeffy's reasoning powers and physical skills to work the Creative Alchemical world in ways impossible for the little guy to manage on his own.  He not only includes little jeffy, he transcends him. 

You might recognize that concept, transcend and include.  One whole (little jeffy and his mundane world) is transcended by a higher whole (Big Jeff and his Alchemical Creative world) while still being included  within the higher whole.  It happens in nature all the time, in fact can be seen from one perspective as the very structure of nature.  A simple example can be seen in some of the basic elements within nature. Sub-atomic particles like electrons and protons are in some sense wholes that can and do exist independently of each other.  If you fuse one electron to one proton a new whole emerges - an atom, hydrogen, which is now a more complex entity, a whole that transcends the independent particles but includes them in its wholeness, in fact could not exist without them.  Take another step, say fuse a two hydrogen atoms to an oxygen atom.  Voila, you now have a molecule, water, that is more complex than each of the atoms, transcends the atoms yet includes them in its own wholeness - and of course could not exist without them.

This type of hierarchical structure was identified in the 20th Century by a fellow named Arthur Koestler.  He labeled each of the wholes at any level as holons, and the hierarchical structural relationship between them as a holarchy - wholes within higher holes within still higher wholes, something like nested Russian dolls.  This relationship between individual holons, this structure we can now label a holarchy, is the binding force that holds them together, that prevents fracturing.  In my case the three worlds/inhabitants of my psyche are members of the holarchy that is the entirety of my Individual Self (with a very big S!).  Big Jeff is a higher holon than little jeffy, but could not exist without him (who would pay the rent?).  The Unborn is an even higher holon - Big Jeff does not yet speak the language of its world, can't penetrate that world.  However, it's my sense that, at least in my case, The Unborn would never have been conceived without Big Jeff's explorations of the deeper intuitions in the Alchemical Creative world.  And certainly The Unborn cannot come to birth (if it ever will) without little jeffy's frantic efforts to keep everyone's shit together in the common, mundane world.

To take it even further, this Individual Self holarchy is itself a holon!  And that holon, that Individual Self,  is within another holarchy, maybe even a few.  Let's explore one. The Individual Self holon can exist within a group of friends who meet together for deep conversation, say a book club or a philosophical discussion group.  In the course of the conversation some ideas appear that none of the individual holons attending had come up with on their own, ideas that are more complex, that transcend the ideas each of the individuals might have generated on their own.  These new ideas live within a new holon - call it a We holon.  There you have it, a holarchy!  The We holon transcends and includes the various Individual Self holons.  And of course that We holon is transcended and included by a still higher holon - say, the holon peopled by all the book clubs in the world reading that same particular book, each contributing through some kind of telepathic communication or morphic resonance to a still higher understanding.

There's a story perhaps founded in a time and a place far away, say pre-literate China.  In this story, an ancient king calls on his wisest sage to answer a question that has been vexing him.  The king asks his sage  "Wise sage, what is holding the earth up in  the sky?"  The sage answers "Dear king, the earth is resting on the back of a great lion."  The king, perplexed, then asks 'Oh wise sage, what is the lion standing on?"  The sage ponders for a moment, then answers "The lion is standing on the back of  an elephant." Still perplexed, the king asks "OK wise sage, then what is the elephant standing on?", to which the sage responds, "On the back of an enormous tortoise."  Now the king is getting frustrated, and furrowing his brow, he questions the wise sage one more time "Well then, what is the tortoise standing on?", and the sage, contemplating deeply, replies "Your majesty, it's tortoises all the way down!"

And so it is, holons all the way down...and BTW, all the way up as well.

To be continued...




Tuesday, May 19, 2020

My Significant Other is the Kosmos - Darker Than Any Mystery, Part 7: Three, Then Three Again...

First Movement

I wrote in my previous posting here of living in the two worlds.  I imagine one might think it strange to live in two worlds running in parallel motion but never merging - on the one hand normal, even mundane life, much like everyone else in this time and place with its worries and concerns both petty and profound, its joys and delights, its dark confusions interspersed with moments of sparkling clarity. On the other hand right alongside all of that, the mysterious and indescribable transformation going on in my private interior, ignited by the awakening of mysterious energies in the body.  This second world is seemingly a personal process that does not lend itself to interpersonal dialogue, to webs of interlocution.  I do attempt a direct approach of communication from time to time concerning this world, this blog itself being one vehicle of that effort; one that, unfortunately, leaves many scratching their heads wondering what I'm talking about.  And of course the experience leaks into my artwork, though I doubt many see it.  So it can indeed be strange living in the two worlds.

Yet, even stranger is that it's all further complicated by a distinct third world I live in, the world of creative process.  This is also in many ways a private world, a personal interior process.  But unlike the interior world of energetic transformation, this is one that interacts with and is highly influenced by the environment I live in, the environment composed not so much by its physical surroundings, the physiosphere and biosphere, as by that invisible aspect of the Kosmos sometimes referred to as the noosphere, the sphere of thought and culture, of interpersonal interaction - what I call webs of interlocution.

Because the noosphere is invisible, is non-quantifiable, its effects on the creative process are a little tough to pin down.  Let me try to paint a picture of how it works.  I read (a lot).  I engage in interesting, deep conversations (a lot).  I observe intelligent news on TV and radio, following discussions around politics and social analysis.  I absorb culture through the many art forms, be they musical, poetical, visual.  All of this then seems to hover around me in the back of my consciousness, dancing in a vibrant cloud.  When I go to my studio to work, to put my hands on the material world with the intent of creating something worth bringing into existence, the cloud (or web, if you will) follows me, hovers around me.  It's out of this background cloud that I somehow - sometimes consciously, often subconsciously - pull out formative ideas and intuitions.  Then I leave it to my hands, give them a shove and off I go on an alchemical exploration, destination unnamed but surely felt.

So there it is, three worlds that I inhabit - The mundane, common day-to-day world; the world of creative alchemy; the world of Mysterious Rapture.  One moment I'm in the grocery store, worried about contracting corona virus and wondering if my favorite lentil soup recipe is better with or without the indicated tomato sauce.  An hour later I'm in my studio playing sorcerer's apprentice with thread, traveling a magical mystery tour.  Later that evening I'm on my back on the floor at home being ravaged by God.

What's a fella to make of all this????

Second Movement

It occurred to me that the key to answering this question might lie in finding out who this fella is.  Does the same fella inhabit each of the three worlds?  Or, does it take different fellas to speak the language of each world?  As you might imagine, the answer is a bit ambiguous.

Let's take the first world, the world of day-to-day, functional, mostly mundane life - the world we all inhabit in common.  This is the world of survival, of relationships, of doing.  This is also the world of our conditioning, our habits, our reactions, often in relation to our five senses.  Importantly, it is also the world of our emotions, feelings, sentiments, likes and dislikes. It's a very, very big world stretching far and wide - but not very deep.

So who's the fella (or gal) that inhabits that world, that speaks its language?  Basically, it's our personality - the sum of our conditioning, our experiences, our reactions; the persona or mask we put on every day to interact with that world (BTW, some would call this the ego, but that word is so muddled by its myriad and ill-defined uses that I tend to avoid it.  I don't think I've used the term even once on this blog site...until now).

For many, if not most, this is the only fella/gal they are or ever will be aware of.  This was certainly the case for me for most of my life.  When referring to this personality fella/gal some use the term self (lower case), as opposed to a posited Self (upper case).   In that spirit here I'll use the term 'little jeffy' to identify my personality working in that first world.  One of the hallmarks of little jeffy is that he evolves over time, he develops.  From zygote to embryo to infant to child to teenager to adult, always developing, always changing.  If lucky, this development continues to the death bed, though it appears most get stuck at middle age, or even sooner.

But does little jeffy speak the language of the alchemical creative world?  Certainly art school could and did verse him in the shallow aspects of that language, the cliches that riddle the art world.  But there is a deeper, more complex aspect to the process of alchemical creativity that little jeffy cannot even possibly understand and articulate.  Disappointingly, art school was not capable of delivering this depth language, nor was it capable of understanding it at all.  It's only by diving into the vast chasm of the psyche in search of the basis of creativity and meaning that one can acquire that language.  There one discovers a bigger Self - I'll just call him'"Big Jeff' for now.  Big Jeff is the one who reaches into that hovering cloud vibrating with webs of interlocution and plucks out the formative ideas and intuitions, presenting them to the hands and setting them off on the alchemical journey.

To little jeffy, this all feels like a dream.  He doesn't speak the language.  However, he's grown wise enough to go along for the ride.  At times when an artwork is finished he simply steps back and asks, "Where the fuck did that come from??"  But little jeffy also knows enough to get out of the way when needed, to empty himself out of the process; or, as they say, to let go.  This is Big Jeff's world, this is his language, this is where the alchemy happens.  Besides, little jeffy has a buddy now.  Big Jeff may not always be there for him, he may disappear for months at a time, though his absences have become shorter and less frequent as the two get more comfortable with each other.  For his part, Big Jeff knows he can't do anything at all without the little guy; after all, little jeffy pays the rent, drives him to the studio, negotiates all the wacky complexities of this 21st century world.  And, he makes a killer lentil soup!

Which now leaves the question of who exactly is that fella operating in the world of Mysterious Rapture, the one who is regularly ravished by God?  It seems this fella has no name, at least none that I can identify.  Perhaps that is because, for now even after nearly twelve years, I simply haven't become fluent in the language of that world.  Without a doubt little jeffy is along for the ride - regular 20 minute whole body orgasms are quite enough to keep him smiling.  Big Jeff is there as well, though rather than smiling he is simply astonished.  And intuition being his strong suit, Big Jeff also has the sense that this third fella is still in utero, still an embryo slowly developing toward a new birth.  At which point, perhaps a christening will be in order?

To be continued...








Saturday, March 21, 2020

My Significant Other is the Kosmos - Darker Than Any Mystery Part 6: Walk on the Wild Side






 Prelude

I do yoga exercises on a regular basis.  If I had my way I would follow this practice every morning, though circumstances and personal distractions tend to intrude from time to time.  This is not a strict Hatha Yoga practice in the traditional manner.  The intention is simply to keep myself limber;  a good physical state to maintain given that my art and work require maximum flexibility.  But there is a secondary, and perhaps more interesting, benefit that I have found from this daily morning habit.  These exercises are slow and graceful, allowing me to focus away from my chattering thoughts and toward the actual functioning of my body, in the moment.  In the last year or two a new sense has been revealed to me - the sense of how surprising the whole thing is, this body we inhabit.

For instance, there is an exercise that focuses on balance.  Standing, I lift my right foot backward, grasping the ankle with my right hand as I stretch my left hand to the sky, holding that pose to the count of twenty breaths.  At times I just can't seem to find the balance point, but often it is almost effortless, and as I stand poised on one foot it can seem almost... miraculous!  How do I do that??  It's as if I pull away from myself and just observe in amazement (and I don't mean how amazingly special I am, just how amazing it is).  This sense has started to carry over into other aspects of life.  Have you ever been involved in a mundane task, say folding your laundry, and suddenly wondered how you're doing this, effortlessly?  I have.

Sometimes when I'm engaged in art making the same sort of thing happens.  I pull my attention away and observe my body in action, simply watching the events unfold as my shoulders sway, my arms twist and bend, my hands and fingers in a complexly coordinated dance with the thread; all as if I wasn't even there.  Even now as I write, pen in hand gliding over the college-ruled page, I'm baffled how this all happens, how my hand smoothly translates my thoughts into the physical reality of visual word symbols arranged in sentences, then paragraphs, all meant to allow completely immaterial thoughts to materialize in a manner that will allow them to de-materialize and enter your awareness.

Of course, most of the time I take it all for granted, but these moments of detachment and wonder come over me regularly these days, and this is new.  It's kinda humbling, and at the same time delightful, like a child watching a pinwheel spin in the breeze.  When I catch myself in this state at the laundromat I can't help but smile.  Perhaps this is a bit of what some call beginner's mind.  And if that is so, isn't it ironic that I had to get well into my sixties to discover this beginner's mind?

Fugue

I recently re-read a book by Dorothy Walters - Unmasking the Rose: A Record of Kundalini Initiation.  I first stumbled upon this memoir during the early period of my own initiation, a time when I was in a determined search to understand what had happened and still was happening to me.  Dorothy's recounting of her experience in the form of contemporaneous journal entries and occasional commentaries on them was a great help to my gaining at least the beginning of some clarity about my predicament.  Later I discovered she was living not far from me, and so I contacted her via email to thank her for publishing the account of her experiences.  She invited me to meet with her over tea, and we have since become friends.

It's been at least ten years since I initially read the book, and re-reading it brought some amusing surprises.  The first was an impression that this must be a second edition, since so much was unfamiliar; I assumed she had added new material.  I was wrong: this was the original.  It finally dawned on me that of course it seemed new - at the time of my first reading I was simply incapable of absorbing much of what she was plainly relating because my own experiences had not developed enough to take it in.  I was literally blind to it.

The second surprise was amusing in a different way.  As I finally closed the book at the last page I could only chuckle at the presumptuousness of my own attempt at writing of the energies in this blog, a realization that it was all there in her book, clear and precise and deep, and how could I possibly add anything to the subject???  A humbling moment indeed.

Yet here I am, scribbling on a college-ruled notebook because... well... I have to explore this mystery on my own, have to further clarify it for myself, and just as importantly for you, my readers.  Spinning webs of interlocution seems to be almost instinctual to us humans, and me being one of us humans, I apparently can't help myself.

In the book Dorothy breaks up her account into five sections, one of which is titled 'Walking in the Two Worlds'.  This phrase struck home to me; I am indeed walking in two - better yet, three - worlds.  In one I pay rent, I chitchat, engage in political and philosophical discussions, laugh and joke with others, commiserate over troubles.  In other words,  the public face of who I am among all with whom I come into contact.  But there is a second world running parallel alongside this public face, the personal world I've been tentatively trying to share in this blog - the mysterious world of the energies that have become my constant companion and, apparently, my invisible evolutionary engine.  Call it Kundalini, call it Orgone, call it whatever you like; this dog has grabbed me in its jaws like a stuffed toy, and it won't quit shaking.

There's a third world I'm walking in as well, but I'll come back to that later.  What's interesting here is that feel of the differing yet parallel worlds Dorothy so simply and clearly enunciated.  This world of Kundalini is astonishing, bewildering, incredibly intense; yet my feeble attempts at communicating the experience seem almost trivial and pointless.  It took three years from its inception for me to get up the nerve to share it with anyone!  There is something about it that is simultaneously deeply personal and profoundly impersonal, a dichotomy that is impossible to explain.   Over time I've slowly opened up quite a bit, yet I've found there are very few who are receptive, much less understanding.  Outside of Dorothy I've personally met only one person who has started down the  path into this mysterious world, and she was introduced to me by Dorothy!  I've often thought, if I could just share the experience with this or that person it would rock their world, turn them around, open them to new possibilities (in fact, in the Hindu tradition there is a method for doing this, labeled Shaktipat, which involves a Guru or Master transmitting the experience to a disciple, often through the laying-on of hands.  I can't do this, and even if I could I would likely defer). 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not feeling sorry for myself.  On the contrary, I'm grateful and excited; and to be honest I feel undeservedly blessed.  But this world of Kundalini I'm inhabiting, of coursing bodily energies, of real personal transformation despite my myriad failings, does not sync well with the rest of the external world.  And that's a shame.  And thus, I walk in the two worlds...  oh wait, I said three worlds, didn't I?

To be continued...

Monday, March 2, 2020

My Significant Other is the Kosmos - Darker Than Any Mystery Part 5: Filling the Vaccuum

Intermezzo

Not long ago I was in a conversation with someone who had read My Significant Other is the Kosmos, the book I had self-published 6 years ago.  I was relating to him some of the evolution of my experiences since the time of publication, and I could see from his expression that he was, in that moment, just beginning to 'grok' what that tale was pointing toward.  As I concluded he paused and simply asked, "Does one have to suffer so much for this to happen?"  He was obviously referring to the deep and painful existential crisis I had passed through preceding the arrival of the energies (you may remember at the time suicide was looking a bit warm and fuzzy to me).  All I could think of to say in reply was that it was absolutely necessary for me, and for more than a few whose accounts I had read of, though not for all; but beyond that I had no clear idea.

His question has indeed been something I've often pondered over.  I can only speak for myself here concerning the need for suffering, yet with the aid of hindsight and a recent unexpected insight that came to me I may be able to offer up an explanation that resonates with some.

The surprising insight appeared just after I had written the first draft of this posting. a draft that was disappointingly rambling and incoherent, even if it did hold the germ of the idea I was aiming at.  It came in the form of yet another dream: in that dream I was at work in an outdoor setting adjacent to a museum.  A scissor-lift was needed for the museum, and I spotted one parked in the middle of a bridge high over a river.  I got into the lift with the intention of moving it into place, but as I started the machine it somehow went into reverse and quickly backed off the edge of the bridge into thin air.  I found myself falling straight toward the water below.  I didn't panic; rather, I simply prepared myself for the impact.  What I didn't prepare for was the fact that I was wearing a heavily laden tool belt, and when I plunged into the waters the weight of the tool belt dragged me down - I couldn't swim back to the surface.  As I was desperately trying to undo the belt, sinking ever further into the depths, I realized I was done for; then I realized I was dreaming.  I woke myself up.

This was a disturbing way to start the morning, and the dream haunted me throughout the day.  It just made no sense, had no apparent connection to current events in my life.  It wasn't until the next day, after I'd gained some distance from the frightening nocturnal event, that the light bulb turned on.

Some context is required here.  In the period before my existential crisis I was working at a museum, running the exhibition installation department.  An unfortunate series of events led to a work of art being damaged.  My immediate supervisor, who was not inclined favorably toward me to begin with, took that opportunity to justify firing me.  Now, we've all been fired at one time or another, and we've all bounced back.  But a curious thing happened within my psyche; something that, once again, is obvious in hindsight but was opaque to me at the time.  It seems that the museum work I was doing was a major factor in my personal identity, more than I admitted to.  I took great pride in my competence.  The yanking out of that piece of myself was the catalyst for a startling domino effect: one after another the dominoes that formed my identity, my sense of who I was and why I was in the world, simply began to tumble down in a ghastly dance, and I could only helplessly watch the catastrophe unfold.  By the time the process worked through to its finish my personality was simply emptied out ( and I assume not in the sense the Buddhists point to).

I guess I was ripe for it.  However, the extent and swiftness of this emptying caught me by surprise like a kick in the gut, and I was clueless about how to move forward.  Painful indeed.  Of course I was at first desperately pointing my finger outside myself as to the cause of this predicament, but after a period of time it became apparent that it was indeed all on me.  So I grudgingly came to own the mess that was my life, and there I began the slow crawl out of the black pit.

But this wasn't yet the onset of the energies.  I was still emptied out, still bewildered; but the kick-in-the-gut pain of it had relaxed.  To borrow a dream image a friend related to me once, it was as if I had been cast out into a broad and endless ocean, no shore in sight in any direction (and certainly not that further shore of Buddhist fame).  But I had owned my predicament, and because of that I could at least tread water - after all, the tool belt had been jettisoned.  Which was the irony the dream of the fall from the bridge pointedly illuminated - my identity, symbolized by the tool belt I often wore installing museum exhibitions, had been dragging me underwater, drowning me.  And now it was gone.

That was the necessary condition for the emergence of the energies - because I was emptied out and defenseless something new could enter and begin the process of refilling.  And it was on that fateful August morning that a mysterious force rushed into the vacuum...and it felt like unbound fullness.

To be continued...





Thursday, January 23, 2020

My Significant Other is the Kosmos - Darker Than Any Mystery Part 4: I Dream of a Genie

Prelude - An Experiential Note

I want to relate to you a recent dream I had, but to give it context I need a brief diversion.  Wilhelm Reich was a mid 20th century psychologist, a student and protege of Carl Jung.  In the course of his psychiatric practice he observed among his patients instances of the prana energy phenomenon I've been discussing and, ignorant of the rich tradition of Kundalini studies in Tantric and other cultural histories, took it upon himself to label it 'orgone', integrating it into a rather iconoclastic therapeutic method.  He was of the belief that the key to mental health was bigger and better orgasms, and felt that orgone was the key to achieving them, even inventing a special box designed to collect orgone energy.  His marketing of these boxes got him into trouble with the U.S. FTC, and when he refused to back down on his claims he was arrested and convicted, tragically dying of a heart attack in jail.

So back to my dream, one which is perhaps an indicator of the changes I am intuiting vis-a-vis Kundalini energies.  In this dream I found myself in a clinic of some kind, medical or psychological.  I noticed a door with a sign labeled 'Orgone'.  It seemed that's where I needed to go, so I walked into the room and noticed a clinical exam bed in the center.  Also in the room was a white-robed technician and his assistant, and they indicated I should lie down.  I did, and they immediately began a rather wacky program of startling projected images and sounds, apparently meant to scare me.  I couldn't figure out if they were trying to scare me into an orgone activation or scare me out of an orgone activation.  In any case I began to feel the pranic energies build, until they seized my body with blissful neural currents.  I had a vision of my spinal column lit up in a light violet-blue electrical stream.  As the technicians continued with the audio-visual scare program I kept thinking "they have no idea what they are doing, no idea at all".

At that point the dream slowly faded out and I slid from sleep to wakefulness almost seamlessly.  As I lay on my back, now in my own bed, I realized I was still experiencing the pranic energies just as I had in the dream, though now wide awake.  I stayed in that violet-blue electrical mode for some time until I drifted off to sleep again.  When I next awoke at dawn the energies were absent.

Upon getting up from bed I immediately wrote down an account of the dream and its aftermath.  Thinking about all of this later on I surmised that two possibilities were at play - either the Kundalini energies were activated in my sleep before the dream and then guided the dream to the orgone room, or the orgone room dream itself activated the energies.  I can't say which it was, but what is most intriguing is that the energetic experience merged from the dream state to the waking state and continued for some time.  This vivid nocturnal event was a first, and its independence from my conscious intent is notable.

Fugue

Theresa's account of her vision of the spear wielding angel suggests to me - and I'm not alone in this - that Kundalini energies were somehow involved in at least some of her mystical experiences.  Theresa's vision, of course, was cloaked in her cultural and personal context of Christianity; how could it not be so?  At the age of 12 Theresa's father had sent her to live in a nunnery after the death of her mother, and at the age of 18 she joined that same Carmalite order.  She certainly was not going to be visited by a black-skinned, four armed, sword wielding Goddess Kali!  A beautiful, fiery, spear wielding angel seems far more appropriate in her case.  Nonetheless, there is a telling moment in her account that perhaps gives us a clue.  When she is done describing the angel thrusting his spear in and out of her heart she says -

"He left me utterly consumed with the love of God.  The pain was so intense that it made me moan, the sweetness that this anguish carries with it is so bountiful that I could never wish for it to cease...The pain is spiritual, not physical.  Still, the body does not fail to share some of it, maybe even a lot of it."  (Italics mine)

Could it be that Theresa was trying to be a little...discrete?  It was 16th century Inquisition Spain after all, and discretion must have been an important strategy.  I will not be quite so discreet and admit I've often been left moaning as the energies coursed through me, wave after bountiful wave of extraordinary pleasure running the course of my entire body, over and over again.  No fiery angel of course, nor any sign of a black-skinned Goddess Kali.  But oh my, what the body shares...

Now I'm left with a puzzling question about context.  If a 16th century Christian mystic experiences a fiery, spear thrusting angel; and perhaps a 6th century Tantric mystic experiences a black-skinned, four armed Goddess Kali; what is left for a white, suburban raised, 21st century American male who at the age of 12 refused to ever go to church again - namely, me?  Apparently, at least for the time being, all that's left to be experienced by me is... the body.  Which, come to think of it, may not be such a bad thing.

And now, even as I'm writing in this moment, a new thought just arose - what if, heaven forbid, my personal deity is a white-robed clinical technician in an orgone room wielding wrathful audio-visual weapons????

Sheesh.

To be continued...


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

My Significant Other is the Kosmos - Darker Than Any Mystery Part 3: Emptiness/Unbound Fullness

                                              'Ecstasy of St. Theresa' by Bernini  1652
Prelude

I've never practiced Buddhism, and my knowledge of it comes mostly from various readings on the subject of Buddhist practice and doctrine.  I realize the Further Shore spoken of is by its very nature ineffable, therefore not easily approached through words (though it is astonishing how much verbiage exists within that doctrine!).  So when I hear terms like Emptiness, Void, and No-Self I make an effort not to take them too literally.  I mentioned earlier that one problem hindering understanding is the tendency to project qualities onto the terms, and the very nature of those terms seems to invite negative qualities, even threatening ones.  Yet it's stated that Emptiness is without quality, which makes me wonder - can we experience anything without qualities?

Over here on this shore, even as we're sniffing for that Further Shore, it appears that we do indeed infer qualities onto our experiences.  That smell, is it pleasant or unpleasant?  That taste, is it bitter or sweet or salty?  That smile from a stranger, is it authentic or phony?  Some of this quality-questioning is conditioned, some instinctual, some conscious, some unconscious.  Some is apparently inherent in what we perceive, some is obviously projected into it.

It appears our human world is saturated with qualities; we seem to need them.  One might even say that we can't navigate in the world without them.  And indeed, the big three fundamental qualities - Truth, Beauty, Goodness - are perhaps our greatest beacons of light on the often dark path of personal and cultural evolution.  That sniffing for the Further Shore may turn out to be a simple searching for the scent of the Good, the True, the Beautiful in ever higher and higher manifestations.

Which, for me at least, inescapably begs three questions:

          Is Emptiness True?

          Is The Void Beautiful?

          Is No-Self Good?

Fugue

Theresa of Avila was a 16th century Spanish Nun, and a true Christian mystic.  Her experiences were remarkable even in the vast pantheon of Christian mysticism.  Lucky for us, she was a prolific writer (not an easy task for a woman living during the height of the Spanish Inquisition).  In this last year or so I've been immersing myself a bit in readings about and by her, and I've been struck by how straight forward and just-everyday-human much of her writing is, even while describing the most other-worldly events imaginable.  For instance, in one essay she speaks of going into such a rapture during Mass that she actually levitated; yet her keenest concern was not to describe the experience, but to lament that she had embarrassed herself, drawn too much attention to herself.  After that event she insisted her fellow nuns hold her down should it occur again!

I want to take a quote from her account of one of her most famous visions:

"I saw an angel in bodily form standing close to me on my left side.  The angel was not large; he was quite small and very beautiful.  His face was so lit up by flame that I thought he must belong to the highest order of angels, who are made entirely of fire.  He didn't tell me his name.

I saw that he held a great golden spear.  The end of the iron tip seemed to be on fire.  Then the angel plunged the flaming spear through my heart again and again until it penetrated my innermost core.

When he withdrew it, I felt he was carrying the deepest part of me away with him.  He left me utterly consumed with the love of God.  The pain was so intense that it made me moan.  The sweetness this anguish carries with it is so bountiful that I could never wish for it to cease.  The soul will not be content with anything less than God.  The pain is spiritual, not physical.  Still, the body does not fail to share some of it, maybe even a lot of it.  The love exchanged between the soul and her God is so sweet that I beg him in his goodness to give a taste of it to anyone who thinks I might be lying."

Now that is an experience loaded with qualities!  No Emptiness there, no Void, not a hint of No-Self.  In fact, I would describe it as Unbound Fullness.

A few months ago I found myself thinking of this new term - Unbound Fullness - somehow in relationship with the term Emptiness; almost like a dialectic, thesis and antithesis.  What would the synthesis of such a relationship look like?  In response to that self-questioning I created this artwork:



I may be the only one seeing it, but I find this artwork practically crackling with the tension these terms create together.  This is decidedly not two sides of the same coin, not even the same currency, yet somehow each enlivens the other, the two together more than the sum of their parts.  On the one hand, just words; on the other, powerful symbols in a dream infused dance.  Just recently I took this idea out of the realm of text and created a series of artworks entitled 'Emptiness/Unbound Fullness'.  Here is one from the series:



And of course, I'm curious how this all relates to Kundalini, to the energies of prana (chi) that course through the body; whether there are clues here to be teased out, unfamiliar paths to be explored.

To be continued...

Thursday, January 9, 2020

My Significant Other is the Kosmos - Darker Than Any Mystery Part 2: Emptiness Emptying?

Prelude

Just in case there is a misunderstanding out there, I want to make a quick disclaimer.  I am not a teacher, not even an expert here to share my wisdom (much less to suggest you fork over a few hundred bucks to gain access to said wisdom).  My intention in this blog is not to lay out a theory of everything, much less a theory of anything.  I'm far too cognizant of the vast depths of my ignorance to attempt any such thing.  My intent here is to explore and inquire, and to share some of those explorations and inquiries in the hope of initiating a dialogue, or what I like to call a web of interlocution.

 I have a picture in my mind that we are all, every one of us, students. Imagine us sitting around the cafeteria if you will, exchanging ideas, letting our minds intermingle, sometimes clashing, sometimes melding, sometimes drifting down blind alleys; but always with a spark of excitement that comes from facing the unknown together.  This is not quite like high school, or even university - let's just borrow a phrase and call it 'The Earth School'.

There's a curious phrase that arises within the department of learning known as Buddhism that has always intrigued me - the Other Shore, or sometimes the Further Shore.  I take this to be a description of the goal of Buddhist study and practice, to arrive at the Further Shore.  Quite an ambiguous phrase for sure, yet I think we, as students of Earth School, are always oriented toward that Further Shore, whether we are aware of it or not.  I would even suggest that just might be the orientation of Evolution itself ever since the Big Bang; and we are, if nothing else, part and parcel of that process - Evolution exploring.  So let's lace up our hiking boots and take a stroll.

Speaking of Buddhism...

Fugue

There are three terms that seem to persist in Buddhist doctrine in descriptions of that Further Shore - Emptiness, Void, and No-self.  I'm assuming that a Buddhist Master, when using such terms, is absolutely authentic and as articulate as possible concerning his or her experience.  Yet, as I hear or read those terms a quite visceral reaction wells up in me, and it's not a pleasant one.  I find myself asking, why would anyone want emptiness, void, no-self???  On examining that reaction it appears to be quite instinctual, given that all three of those terms can be construed as a kind of oblivion, even death, and as such can appear as a threat.  On the other hand, if I am to take the Master as authentic, this surely cannot be what is intended, much less what is waiting for us at that Further Shore.  It could, of course, be a metaphor, as in the closing lines of the Prayer of Saint Francis -

By dying to self
We are born to eternal life

Yet it appears Emptiness in Buddhism is not followed by anything resembling a rebirth; it's just....emptiness.  Void is just...void.  No-self is just...no-self, not new self.  So what gives?

OK, taking a deep breath here.  I am, after all, not on that Further Shore, but on this shore, gazing out across a vast ocean (of ignorance?).  I can't see the Further Shore, but I can sense it, I can orient myself to it, I can maybe even sniff it.  Besides, I look around and see pretty much everyone I know sitting around on this shore, some of them with noses lifted, sniffing as their heads turn slowly side to side (and some muttering under their breathes " where's the juice, where's the juice?).  I take some comfort in this.  From the perspective of someone on this shore I see that as humans we can at least step back a bit from our instinctual reactions, step back and take another look at those seemingly ominous terms (sticks and stones will break my bones but words can never hurt me?).  Dare I say, shake hands with them, give em a little hug?

So if Emptiness, Void, No-self are going to be embraced, then a different way of understanding those terms has to be found, something deeper than what can look like existential nihilism or post-modern radical deconstruction, two philosophies I find distastefully shallow.  If evolution tells us anything it's that we are decidedly not at the end of history, so we have a little time to mull this over.

Perhaps the error I'm making is that I'm projecting a quality onto those terms, one that repels me.  Emptiness just sounds so...bleak.  Void sounds so...empty.  And how the hell can that Buddhist Master tell me I don't have a self when he is clearly speaking with the voice of a self??  With an accent, no less.  But there is another curious phrase I've heard, the claim that Emptiness has no qualities, it is unqualified (disqualified?).  Now that gives me pause.

To be continued...








Thursday, January 2, 2020

My Significant Other is the Kosmos: Darker Than Any Mystery Part 1 - Where's the Juice?

Prelude

It's been six years since I published "My Significant Other is the Kosmos" and I've done very little with this blog since.  It's been almost 2 years since I posted anything here, and quite frankly the flow of my writing simply disappeared.  Perhaps it was the consequence of my focus honing in on the visual art work I do, which has indeed been on a warp drive adventure in this recent period.  But there was another factor that I see in retrospect - the intuition that after writing "Significant Other", I had reached the end of the truths I could convey in my musings on evolution and creativity, as well as in the narration and interpretation of the subtle energies I had awakened to in my mid-fifties.

Eleven years have passed since the inception of that mysterious process sometimes labeled Kundalini awakening.  As dramatic as that initial opening was (as I described in the book), it pales in comparison to what is occurring now.  I spoke in the book of orgasmic-like sensations ten times the intensity of any I had experienced previously, rolling up and down my body for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.  Back then, especially in the first year or two, the energies were elusive and inconsistent, though always in potential.  I found over time that by lying down and putting my attention to the base of my spine I could, with increasing success, conjure them up, even if not always with predictable intensity.  That's where things stood at the writing of "Significant Others".  As of this writing, six years later, the energies are always available with little or no prompting; in fact I would describe it as more of a 'falling in' to them.  When I think of those early body/orgasm experiences I can now with confidence say that what I get now is ten time that!  I have frequent sensations of electrical flashes zigzagging over my scalp and forehead, and there is an almost constant pleasurable throbbing at the base of my spine.

You might imagine this all leaves me with an ongoing shit-eating grin on my face.  But in fact, I am profoundly mystified by it all.  I've read many accounts of this kind of opening, and found enough commonality in other's experiences mirroring my own to give me confidence that this is indeed a body-based energetic process that has engaged me.  One of the puzzling things is that, even with the commonalities, there is so much disparity within the details as recounted by so many.  Even more puzzling is the number of those claiming that the Kundalini process has ruined their lives, sent them into a kind of hell - if you google Kundalini you'll find that more than half of the results point to this problem, ominously labeled 'Kundalini Syndrome'.  Thankfully for me it has been nothing but a blessing.  I feel my creativity has expanded, my cognitive abilities have sharpened, my health has improved, my intuitions have deepened.  These benefits can't be easily quantified, of course, but they are qualities I'm experiencing.

There is more that will be fleshed out in future blog posts here, though I want to offer one caveat - I have not been transported mentally, or psychically if you will.  No experience of cosmic consciousness, nondual oneness, out-of-body travel, God's infinite love, or anything related under the umbrella of  'The Spiritual'.  This is all still body based, almost mundane... OK, perhaps to use a phrase, super-mundane?  Nevertheless, I feel I'm in a process that is a train ride with an unknown destination, and this is perplexing at times.  And now, especially in the last year or so, a new intuition has arisen that a new stage of this process is in a state of emergence.  If this is indeed the case I want to capture it in writing contemporaneously, while it is fresh.  I know the art work I am pursuing can do exactly this in a subtler, perhaps truer way, but I think clarity of thought and articulate communication is also essential if I am to capture the experience in a way that can engage a dialogue with others - namely, all of you reading this blog.  Some of you may remember from "Significant Other" that I am fond of webs of interlocution.  This is a new web I'm initiating, one which I hope we can weave together, and maybe in the process we can all evolve just a bit further.

Fugue

One of the odd conundrums that confronts me with Kundalini energies - at least to the extent of my direct experience of them - is exactly how to categorize the phenomenon.  Generally, most tend to put this under the rubric of 'The Spiritual'.  Yet as I mentioned earlier, as intense and awe provoking they are, the energies are decidedly body bound for me.  I've read accounts of some being transported to mystical dimensions or other-worldly landscapes, others discovering a oneness with the universe or a feeling of infinite love.  Not me.  OK, I'll concede that sometimes I feel I'm being ravished by unseen forces, and from the inception I've been struck by the realization that, until that first eruption, I had no idea of what was possible!  And that realization can be quite liberating.  Nonetheless, even if I've gotten my socks knocked off, my feet have remained firmly on the ground throughout.  No visions, no heavenly hosts, no angelic visitations, no world bathed in light.  Nada.  Which for me begs three questions - What is it?  Why is it here?  What is it doing here?

It's possible that all of these questions will be answered if and when a new stage emerges in my process.  Gopi Krishna, a 20th century savant who experienced an extreme Kundalini awakening and wrote extensively about it, was of the opinion that the Kundalini energies were actually an agent of evolution, and that these energies worked on the physiological level and caused actual physical evolution of the brain.  The energies themselves, though usually described as working on the subtle plane, indeed have correlatives on the physiological plane, and on that plane they are not subtle at all!  I've often felt that my nervous system is being worked over, though I haven't submitted myself to medical instruments that might detect such things.

Recently I came upon a distinction that was worked out in the Hindu Tantric traditions.  Their map indicates that Kundalini appears in three distinct stages - Prana-Kundaline, Chit-Kundalini, and Para-Kundalini.  Prana-Kundalini is the initial release of the energies, energies known in the Hindu traditions as prana, the Chinese traditions as chi, and described and named in many traditions around the world throughout history.  This helped me to make sense of my predicament, it being obvious in that light that I'm still soundly in the Prana-Kundalini stage.  Chit in Sanskrit means consciousness, the inference here is that Chit-Kundalini goes beyond the body and starts to directly effect consciousness.  Perhaps that's the emerging stage I'm intuiting...but who knows?  I could be fooling myself. after all.


But let's assume I have at least a toehold on the truth here.  As Ken Wilber is fond of saying, no one is completely, 100% wrong.  Conceding that, a related conundrum appears to me, and that is the seeming disconnection of my experiences to the types of deep spiritual experiences that many traditions describe, be they satori, enlightenment, nondual oneness, Christ consciousness, or simply bliss.  And that will be the topic of my next exploration here.

To be continued...