Monday, 20 December 2021

The cosmic unconscious


 

Jung posited individuation, individual consciousness, the individual unconscious and the collective unconscious. Without doing much careful explanation, I'd like to suggest the addition of the cosmic unconscious. Here's a rough idea of what I'm saying: 

There's no end to approaches to human consciousness and mindfulness, so I'll skip past that and go to the individual unconscious. To simplify this as far as I'm able, I'd say that doing your own shadow-work is unavoidable. What I was taught within the context of fundamental Christian evangelicalism is, from my perspective, spiritual bypassing, which is not a term anyone would have known about in those days. No-one is going to save you from your own storms, hidden or evident, past, present or future, and that's a useful truth to accept. You have to face your fears, sort your family constellations, get acquainted with all your selves and do the research your experience asks for and treat your brain with at least as much disinterested intelligence as it treats you. Doing the shadow-work is hard going, but you're not going anywhere without it. And if you meet someone along the way who refuses to be challenged, chances are they haven't done their shadow-work, and that's why they don't like the feeling of humility which is closely related to the feeling of kindness. So the shortcut to approaching the individual unconscious is doing the homework of shadow-work. 

I've an equally easy recipe to approach the collective unconscious: cultural criticism, not of some-one else's culture, but all of your own. Take a good, hard, uncompromising look at all your group identities and see what emerges when you dare to do that. It's not easy. Humans are weird about being leaders and following leaders. If you can speak for the collective, you own the collective, and if that's what the collective wants, it won't have a time-frame for how long it's gong to be hungry. The longer political lives are, the less likely the collective is in charge. The more vehement religious voices are, the less likely is collective coherence. Notice how cultural art forms are capable of escaping the time-trap. They are more likely to express the collective unconscious. 

Quickly to the cosmic unconsciousness and the approach I'd suggest here: get out of time. 

Here's the thinking: since time is a human construct, let's consider what happens when you take it away. Time implies irreversibility, like being born, having life-changing experiences and dying. Time and irrevocable change influence each other, as emotions declare, and expressing such profound emotions has produced endless philosophy, good music, drunk singing, and wordlessly gazing beyond the horizon. By definition, strange things happen when time disappears, or at least, becomes less relevant. The corollary of what I'm saying is that the more conscious one is of time, the more conscious one is. In Switzerland trains are time. That's a lot of infrastructure. Sometimes I wonder if tourists of the paranormal want more consciousness or more unconsciousness. The intrigue with with life after death, psychokinesis, channeling and clearing chakras doesn't really know what it wants except more. Perhaps dissatisfied consciousness needs to go the other way and become more mineral, more rock-like. More inanimate. Or if that's not so appealing, then perhaps try to be as unconscious as a waterfall. There are many options suggested by the Romantic poets. To tease out the idea of the cosmic unconsciousness, I'd point out that organic chemistry can't escape the basis of inorganic chemistry: the table of elements is about as neutral as Switzerland could ever be, and has no interest in being either the fire of a distant star or your beloved cat. The language of quantum physics is baffling: all that there is exists and does not exist at the same time, it's just a Mexican wave of unreality that passes the here and now infrequently. If I and my pet rock are one, in the sense of belonging to the same table of elements, which is the only given I can think of, then once and for all, let's allow that carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, potassium, sodium and traces of more elements than these work together to allow their voices to upgrade - maybe downgrade? - to human voice. Language is a mere code which has unfortunately tended more towards real folly than artificial intelligence, but nonetheless does have the ability to reach for felt aspirations. What we feel is about as real as we can get, but these feelings are so quick, that more often than not the heart is more truthful than the brain. How quick is that? 

Well, it's not in time. As I write, breathe, think, feel and fumble my way, oxygen and hydrogen are doing what they do, and are part and parcel of the consciousness I pretend at. The KNa pump, that rather ridiculous way of describing the amazing dynamics of neurons, sits at the very ability of whatever my ego believes it's directing. In this sense, the living body can be said to be out of time. And if we take the mathematical subway out of quantum physics, who knows what language would point us to which platform? And if death is a point of departure, perhaps so is life? 

It's been said that we've reached the stage where science and spirituality should be holding hands. My opinion is that they always have done so, all 118 of them, sub-microscopic miracles we don't notice and take for granted while they stand and knock on the door of our inner skin of sensitivities requiring to be worded in ways we have yet to discover. 








Thursday, 1 July 2021

Learning to read the moment.


 

Literacy isn't what they said it is. Sure enough, the alphabet is really key to know, words, vocabulary and sentences relevant to recognise, and text, context, author, purpose and place all necessary to determine what's meant in any communication. 

Ask anyone what it felt like to learn to read, and you'll have a point of contact to know what it's like to read the moment. 

In the moment, anything is happening. The miracle is, your brain is capable of grasping the moment. The pity is, it seldom does. 

The open door of each moment is usually slammed shut as it opens. 

That's not natural, that's human-inspired. 

The heavy-handedness, intellectual clumsiness and emotional stuntedness of humanity are not good teachers. 

Be comforted: there's a perpetual, really good teacher within: a natural, cosmic voice and presence that defies description. 

It offers you your own language of truth, an imperative of kindness that's all about the moment. 

Do you kill spiders spontaneously? Consider for a moment: does that make you a bad Buddhist or a normal survivalist? 

You can see where this is going: in the moment, there's, data, desire, choice, decision and action. Also totally, really totally unconscious neural activity, which is the actual basis for the action in the moment, conscious or unconscious. You can't escape biology. 

There's a process and a story to this: the moment is a bridge between the decipherable and the indecipherable, and consciousness is key. 

Unfortunately, there are no hard rules to this literacy. The art is more than the discipline. 

But how do you read your own consciousness which is the bridge, key and cargo?

Here are the steps:

notice, articulate and know your subtle emotions

allow your obvious and immediate attitudes

test the range of your choices

decide on the personal acceptability of possible actions

scale your influence of acting

reflect on each step you take. 


Reading the moment has become a literacy of real importance, with not many knowing how to do this. Hence the plethora of coaches, most of whom are learning their own self-literacy, and not so sure how to pass this on without a well-founded sense of humility well-disguised by words and attitudes that don't quite cut it. Leadership? Don't make me laugh. You got there randomly. 

The moment is yours. 

It's a quiet, tall, immense moment, quite cruel, really, unless you sense presence greater than your own. 

How is it to be read? 

So the learning is the actual process and purpose of the moment. And the core aspect of that organism you recognise as yourself. 

I'd offer these new ABC's of reading the moment: 

quietness

observation

reflection

truthful communication

closure. 


Closure is important. The timing and honouring have to be right. That's a whole literacy in itself. 

The moment is fluid. 

You have to be quicker than that. 



Sunday, 6 June 2021

Leaving the country.


 The four words are really inadequate: I've left the country. 

But I have. 

The Covid 19 was the main cause, wiping out our hospitality business, yet the Covid canal, like the Suez and Panama, can experience ships going sideways rather than forwards. So there are more reasons to leave the country. 

Take a thief, a scoundrel and a stupid person like Zuma, protected by the ANC. 

Take a hollow, expensive suit, like Ramaphosa, protecting the ANC. 

Take the electorate, the subservient, uneducated, impoverished, unprotected, ill-advised supporters of the ANC. 

And then take into account the crumbling national infrastructure: electricity, education, water, municipal delivery, post office, deeds office, and each national office you can think of. 

The formal, legalised national-speak has changed from my growing up years to the present. If I had published this blog in the seventies or eighties I would have been arrested before blogging off. 

Not now. The ANC and its leaders really don't care, so long as their pockets are kept full. Their reputation and honour mean nothing other than internal party political manipulation for the sake of power-survival. It used to be called petty cash, and it was possible to steal this, in petty ways.  But the national cash cow is  the main target, and it will be eaten alive. No bull. 

That's my swan-song in connection with the political rubbish. The NP leaders were bullies, the ANC leaders are supremely greedy and the next lot, no matter the party, will be ruthless. 

But that's not about leaving the country. That's about the country leaving itself. 

I will remember running along Cape Town streets, train journeys to Johannesburg, learning to learn in what used to be schools and universities, which is what I've loved most, apart form the steaks, Cabernet Sauvignons and my old Volksie, the city and its styles, the sky-scapes, mountain-scapes, and my solitary walks on Kommetjie beach, in the sun and in storms, coming back to the warmth of whiskey and a cigar.

I will remember all of this and so much more. 

My homes, the wind, rain and wishful thinking, and the mountains: Table Mountain, Twelve Apostles, the Amatola and the Cederberg. 

And Devil's Peak. 

And how love, conversations, scrutiny and care have followed me in my path in that country, thanks to so many, many people. 

I have left the country, yes, and am amazed to find out how much has not left me. 

I understand very little about love, but its stickiness, like honey, is difficult to wash off. 






Saturday, 5 June 2021

Where does my story start?


 I grew up with the given idea that biology explains everything. You start at conception, you do whatever you can to live a healthy and well-lived life, if something goes wrong, the doctor will fix it, and eventually the body fails because of something organically malfunctioning, and then you die. 

You have a beginning, a middle, and an ending, as stories are supposed to. 

There's a lot to be said about this, but let's pay attention to the start, the beginning of your story. 

By way of a preamble, your body and your being is more like a story than anything else.

Some pointers before we begin: emotional imprint, genealogical predisposition, historical context, natural communication. "Natural communication" means that neurons behave as neurons in spite  of anything else. 

If you're able to grasp that you're part of a cosmic process rather than an individual person, you're more than halfway to knowing that your story has no discernible beginning. To make it easier I could say "as well as an individual person" but this individuality is more of a hindrance than a help. 

Sure, your body was conceived, gestated, born, grew up, and here you are. 

It didn't do that in any individual way. Bodies look individual because they can move about on their own, but that's as far as it goes. Not even thinking is really individual. 

The emotional imprints from mother to foetus, historical context to formation of attitude, and genetic predisposition to physiological conditions, and the way your neurons get set up, all add up to the mystery we call consciousness. 

So you can decide where your story begins. 

Mine is cosmic, but I would advise a smaller nest than that. It's better to know your mind than to get lost in it. 

In Story Clinic we suggest that you begin spontaneously. Don't start formally with "I was born....etc, etc."

Attention is crucially important, probably the most valuable attribute of humanity, in focusing cosmic capability. So we would ask, what does your attention seek right now? Let's slow down out of the normal stuff of dailiness, and allow your body to speak and attend to what's being communicated or required to communicate now. 

"I'm hungry."

"I'm tired."

"I'm angry with..."

"I'm frustrated with..."

"I'm enjoying..."

"I'm thankful for..."

Or we could allow for some moments of imaginative reflection, and begin with a spontaneous memory. This is a fruitful kind of beginning. The neurons are good at doing it for themselves. 

So your birthday is a milestone, not a definitive beginning, and the Akashic records are a library, not a book. 

And the Alpha of the alphabet was an invention, not a discovery. So even the language that you use to decipher yourself is not a totally adequate tool, although helpful. 

Your story starts where attention engages. Where it engages is up to two things, as I perceive it, what your imagination presents, and what you choose to do about it. For Tolkien, it involved a ring, for C.S. Lewis a lamp in a snowy world where animals spoke, and for Emily Bronte, a rattling at the window, and a haunting dream. 

If you give your imagination that same gift of attention, a unique, strange, strong and valuable beginning is very likely to emerge. 











Tuesday, 6 April 2021

The Waterman Practice and Story Clinic.

Everything is a story, so here's the connection between The Waterman  Practice and Story Clinic. I thought hard about what I'd like the rest of my life  to mean, and I took the things I've built: qualifications and experience in homeopathic medicine;  qualifications, training and experience in energy medicine; a doctorate and a lifetime of dealing with stories, what they are, what they mean, how to listen to them and tell them and understand them; and qualification and practice in poetry therapy. 

I've spent sixty-five years living and being both patient and impatient, and now, quite frankly, impatience wins. 



For now, let's look at The Waterman Practice umbrella and Story Clinic. The Story Clinic is older. 

Stories gripped my entire being before I could read or speak. I grew up in the Christian meta-story, and my soul recognised the currents of reality that the close people couldn't articulate. People need to believe stories to work out their practical ways through life. The vast majorities of these stories aren't true, just vague approximations of journeying. 

The work of the Story Clinic is about the balance between respecting and challenging deeply held stories. From gender to ethnic to faith to scientistic stories, people hold to what they think they can tell themselves, because they feel they can't go further. 

Of course they can. And one's health is more dependent on this than you realise. 

The Waterman Practice is about approaching healing, health and wholeness through contact, connection, communication,  clarity and comprehension. 

These are more like feelings than concepts, and the feelings that your stories articulate reflect an underlying reality rather than the superficial chatter.

We seldom give ourselves the time and space to examine this. 

There are many, many approaches and stories out there to grip your attention because you have a need for better health in one way or another. They all clamour for attention. 

The Waterman Practice is different because it pays attention to your attention. That's challenging because that's the very thing that's baffling. You want attention because you don't feel well with your own attention? 

But I don't want to get complicated. 

The Story Clinic is about listening to your own language, telling your stories, realising your limits, chosen and unchosen. 

If you want borders, you'll stop there. If you need passports, they can be obtained. And if you require new languages, that's possible. 

Awareness of your evolving story is a magical thing. 

So The Waterman Practice shows you how to move from being an unconscious author to a purposeful narrator. Your voice, biological and metaphoric at the same time, is able to say much and in many ways. This is just one of the basic tools of the Story Clinic. 

There's a lot to put to good use in The Waterman Practice. 





Monday, 5 October 2020

Four questions I'd like to be asked.



One. 

What touches you? To answer this question you need to be aware of what really does touch you, and if this is the case, your self-awareness is taking you towards self-knowledge. If you can quickly list more than five things that touch you, you know your feelings quite well. If you battle to find the first one, you should spend more time in your heart. 


Two. 

What do you fear the most and when did you first begin to experience this fear? To answer this one, you would go back to pre-consciousness, as an infant, a newly-born, perhaps even a neonate.We tend to think that language describes reality. It is more the case that the sense of reality and perceptual formation work together from pre-conceptual and pre-conscious experience through the whole of life, giving us an amazing power of perception, if we freed ourselves enough to use it. 


Three. 

What do you choose to feed your soul? Choosing to feed your soul deliberately gives you the insight to know that your emotional reality is entirely up to you. Your focus is your soul-food. Snakes use this to get their literal food. 


Four.

How has love imprisoned you? If you can make sense of this question, you should notice that your most profound and urgent feelings are capable of trapping you rather than setting free your vast capacity for constructive creativity. 

Your name, your date of birth, your profession, your favourite colours, your preferred food are easy details: try a few penetrating questions to get to the interesting stories. 


Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Covid-19, the end, and what I'd say.



Our stories of what's happening are what we believe . I've taken some moments to consider what might be said about what's happening in the world at this time. Most of what's going around is stupefying rather than clarifying, and there are some things that we could learn. The first that comes to mind is that what's gripped human imagination is the fact and fear of mortality.


The stats that produce fear are what they are, and there are plenty of other stats, too. In Peter Porter's poem "Your Attention Please" the somber words "Some of us may die. Remember, statistically it is not likely to be you" come to mind. But I think that what's driven the realisation of this pandemic is that you and I could well be dead quite soon. Politicians want a nice, quiet, obedient crowd of voters, and if they don't do something to allay fears, they won't be seen to be leaders. So act they must.


But in my view, what we call leadership produces nothing but followers. And in following we become nothing.



Doing what we are enforced to do, believing the stories that we're supplied, accepting rhetoric that's designed to make us accepting, we walk into the nothing of ourselves, and thus, when I regard the end of what we've accepted util now, the end of capitalism as it's been driven by forces no longer sustainable, the end of shallow communication, the end, I hope, of hollow values disguised as democracy and practised as political will, all I can really do is regard the end my this, my own organism, and ask as dispassionately as I can what it's aliveness has been for.

Let's assume I'm going to die in six weeks. Reaching as far as I can into soul-speak, what would I say?

I'd say:


Choose your stories as consciously as possible. Go back to the oceans that allowed you to build, launch, navigate and berth your boat. No one has to be trapped by the trappings of leadership. Learn to hear what your voice says by engaging in clarifying conversations rather than vehement creeds. Learn to hear hearts as well as words, and don't assume for one moment that the heart is full of love and light. It's more holographic than moral, and encompasses the entire spectrum of turbulence and connections made possible by the table of elements. So I'd say get to grips with your own heart, allow it to express what it desires most to utter. That way you make your self vulnerable to your mind, and can act more wisely and decisively in respect of your more informed choices. At worst, we're a bundle of competing instincts, at best a conscious narrator of aspiration. And beware of premature statements of triumph as the journey unfolds.



I'd encourage the conversations, those stories that release the living energy that's specific to you. These are what create the newness that's upon us. What feels like the end is obviously never the end. Somehow there's always a narrator who observes, and turns the chaos into a craft.