Jung, Sufis, and Kabbalah

Actually, my ‘model’ isn’t Jungian, but from alchemy and the Kabbalah—the spiritual, or alchemical marriage, which surprised me because I hadn’t seen any of the drawings or diagrams of the alchemists or Kabbalists, either Jewish or Christian, until well after I had had the images become part of my own thinking—and both forms of Kabbalah come from a common ground that goes directly to the Sufis. The Taoist meditations you’re doing are the oriental form of alchemy, with the same results—I did them for quite a while back fifteen years or so ago. Doing the exercises is really good ‘Kriya’ yoga- – it does a really good job of clearing the nadis, the meridians. It’s really interesting because most people think that their thoughts are ‘in their head’, that their thought patterns are ‘mental’, but when you get into the clearing exercises you find that your thought patterns are all over your body in the energy centers and meridians connecting them—everything from gross physical blocks to emotional blocks to mental patterns to personal identity.

I don’t know if you’ve ever done any body work, Rolfing, etc: when I moved to Nelson it was to build a house for a Rolfer I’d met in Edmonton, and we traded carpentry for Rolfing sessions. Somebody works on the muscles under your shoulder blade and you start having memories of things you’d completely forgotten from your childhood. So, I’m glad you’re pursuing that because it’s really effective and productive.

In some schools of Zen and Chan meditation there are three stages, three ‘enlightenments’—’earth rises to heaven’, ‘heaven descends to earth’, and ‘the union of heaven and earth’. The first one, ‘earth rises to heaven’, is what you experienced with the energy going up your spine (doing the hollow tube meditation, etc)—that’s the classic model of ‘enlightenment’, and most people stop there. The second , ‘heaven descends to earth’, comes from a reversal of the flow, so to speak, as if it were coming down on you from above, like grace, like the descent of the dove in the New Testament—sheer peace. For that to happen you, as a vessel, have to be able to handle the inflow, which is where the purification exercises come in. This can sometimes be quite scary because things will happen to you that are definitely out of your control—from physical movements to emotional things (crying for hours on end, for example), to finding yourself in life situations you wouldn’t have dreamed of. Part of what you get with the descent are periods of being immersed in overwhelming love—if you don’t know what it feels like to be loved like that, or if you don’t think you’re worthy of being loved like that, you can have a rough time until you realize that the ‘rules’ for that love are that you don’t have to do anything to earn it, or get it, or deserve it, and when you go through all the bullshit motions that we go through on earth in order to be loved on ‘earth terms’ , the very act of going through those motions is a turning away from the love you experienced with the descent. (Maybe I should add here before I forget it that part of process of the descent is sort of like pouring clear water into dirty water in a glass—at first the dirty water sort of swells up and overflows the glass and all you see is dirty water pouring over the top even though you can see the clear water going in; sooner or later the dirty stuff starts to wash away and the clear takes over—sometimes the transition areas can be a bit rough). Perhaps I should also add that the clearing process takes place in both you, the physical embodiment, and your ‘other part’, the missing side (another addition—I think both men and women have ‘animas’—female for men, male for women—they appear to be different because of the perspective from which they’re seen, because we identify with one side of a polarity, male/female, and so see our unmanifest side as being the opposite pole, and being what we need to be complete). When both sides, manifest/unmanifest, are clear is when the spiritual marriage can take place because it’s only at that time that both ‘sides’ can see each other, so to speak, for what they are without the interference of subconscious projections, etc. (That’s why the stuff about your father is important). To me it’s at this point that real spirituality starts.

The ocean—if I look at the ocean in your beach scene, I see an ocean full of things—TV sets, cows, gurus, garbage trucks, saints and slum lords-—all the things of existence, the ocean of existence, full of polarities. If you dive in and get lost in one side of one of the polarities, you keep going back looking for the other side of the polarity in order to make yourself whole again, in order to find yourself. You try one polarity after the other until you can’t remember who you are—that’s karma—the left over identities of polarities that you keep trying to resolve in order to find yourself. You can get back out by remembering yourself—by remembering your original face, as the Zen guys say—by following yourself, like following a rope back out of a cave, except that you’re both the one following the rope and the rope itself; or you can get back out by doing ‘drying out’ exercises to get the water out of your eyes and ears so you can get your bearings; or, most often, you can do a combination of the two. Just don’t stop until you can feel the heat of the sun.

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