The Soul of America: New Beginnings 15

 

Life without Grounding

“What I stand for is what I stand on.”
— Wendell Berry

Proceeding with the writings of this blog in a linear fashion, going from one entry to the next as if the present one follows the previous one does not work well with the imagination
we are attempting here. I am affected, greatly, by the comments made, for one thing, and feel it important to address some of those comments. For example, some readers get that
being present with the soul of America will, in some manner, involve developing a new capacity of ‘ceremony-consciousness’ — even living life as ceremony. However, a number of suggestions have
been made that attempt a return to something like Native American ceremony rather than a re-imagining ceremony in terms of our present circumstances and consciousness. We might imagine ceremony in this manner:

Ceremony — moving from task to task with a consciousness of belonging, as creature to Creator; feeling each encounter with others is a simple ceremony of approach, no matter how brief the terms of the transaction; every act as interior and very personal, done with faithfulness, yet not rigidly done so that it turns into lifeless form; when ceremony enters deeply into our desire, we become ceremony itself. Ceremony without intimate awareness and felt, is not only dead but deadening, and enacts harm. Ceremony now concerns patterns of intent rather than personal posture or formulae. They can even be imagined without any tangible form. 

Later, specific ceremonies will be introduced…….but today, in this non-linear fashion of presenting, something else needs urgent attention.

When we try to live within an imagination of what has happened to this nation over the centuries of living without really being here as earth-beings, we only have to notice that what is now happening is the result
of living such a void and now coming to rapid culmination. We live, all of us, within fear — but a completely and utterly new kind of fear. This fear has attempted to enter before — at the time of Hitler. Now it has found a much easier way to enter.

A number of years ago, about seven, I think, I did a soul retreat in Denver on fear in which I introduced this new form of fear. Since then it has taken hold, completely. Here are a few notes from that soul retreat with a few comments, very few, to alert you to noticing what has happened to the soul of America — a direct result of abandoning the soul of this land from the beginning:

Spirituality and Fear

I do not want to speak of fear as an emotion or as a physical reaction of the body under a condition of threat, or of the many fears that each of us faces daily. Rather, we shall try and see how radically different this new fear is from what we usually consider as fear, and try to make sure that we do not put it back into old forms because the ways we worked with old forms of fear will not work here.

Fear is usually understood as a bodily response to a threat to our being. It can be a physical threat, but also a threat to our soul. If you become afraid of walking at night because you might be accosted, your body tenses up each time you have to go out at night. That is soul fear. If you are walking at night and are accosted by a thug who pulls a gun and threatens you, that is a physical fear you experience. You would feel shocked, anger, rapid heartbeat, sweating, and would become faint. We are very familiar with these kinds of fears, and the multitude of reasons we react in fear, but now fear has gone even further. Something is happening in the realm of fear that goes beyond the usual forms.

we are all now subjected to what seem to be overwhelming and constant fears from virtually everywhere. Just think of the strength of the presence of fear:

  1. terrorism
  2. economy
  3. suffering/death
  4. relationships
  5. diseases
  6. energy crisis
  7. food contamination
  8. pollution
  9. violence
  10. natural catastrophes and
    politics

The content of these and many other fears, you will say, is not much different than what has always brought fear to human beings. Something else, however, is happening. Along with the presence of a continual onslaught of these fears, there is also a collective denial that these fears exist at all. For example, that there is severe climate change has been consistently denied by the government and gosh knows what else is being hidden from us. At the same time, there is a manipulation of fear. We are made to fear when there is nothing apparent to be fearful of. Every mid to large city now has hundreds of video cameras all over town, as if living itself is under threat. Look at the behavior of our president, the way he presents fears and, in the next instant eradicates what he just said.

As a kind of symbol, a condensation of what we are going to be working with, the now famous and very great statement by Theodore Roosevelt comes to mind:

“ We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

I imagine he was saying in an explicit way that people would triumph in that war if they were not afraid. But, the statement, if we pay close attention to it can be heard as saying:
There are two kinds of fear – the usual sense of fear and now there is a totally new fear in the world, fear of fear itself. Do you see? The usual sense we have of fear is that we fear-something:

I am afraid of dying
I am afraid of losing my job
I am afraid of not having enough money

These senses of fear are very different than FEAR OF FEAR ITSELF. With the overwhelming presence of fear everywhere, fears about everything, coupled with a massive denial of fear brought about principally through excessive egotism coupled with rampant materialism produces fear of fear itself. Remember President Bush’s way of comforting us when the World Trade Center was hit by terrorists – “Get out and Shop; Go to Disneyland”. These words by our leadership express in condensed form the kind of confusion around fear that has the effect of immersing us in FEAR ITSELF because there is total and complete confusion on what to be afraid of.

Usual protective responses to fear are now immobilized. However, we need only ask, what happens when there is the presence of fear but we have lost the capacity to feel it. It is entirely too easy, and false, to say “well, if you don’t feel fear, there is no fear.” And, you might further say, “I have not lost the capacity to feel fear. If there is an announcement tomorrow that the bird flu has now actually arrived, that there is a pandemic, I will certainly feel fear.” You see, however, that with each presence of fear on this scale, there will be fear, while at the same time there will be something that negates that it is real. We will be told that there is a vaccine, or that it is only the old that are in danger, or that “we thought that it was coming, but it really didn’t get here”; or that, as with mad-cow disease, the matter is taken care of — until the next outbreak.” It is true – fear is just below the surface, and that is where it is kept while the rest of the process goes on, the process of keeping it close to the surface where it can eat away at our physical being by producing constant stress, where it can eat away at our soul being by producing an overall contraction of feeling life …. And most of all, where fear itself can produce a particular kind of dimming of the human spirit.

If we could feel the presence of Fear itself, we would live in a decidedly different way. We would not, for example, fight against the fear because we would realize that if you fight against this kind of fear it only increases the fear. We have a sense of this with the kind of collective fears we now face. If you fight against terrorism without fully realizing how it is a vehicle for Fear itself, then you increase the presence of fear itself. We have become a version of the terrorists ourselves the way we have approached terrorism. We are watched everywhere, each of us risks being accused of being a terrorist if we happen to carry a penknife onto a plane. Or, if you have a can of gasoline for your lawnmower, you could be stopped. And, we do not really know how many people have been gathered up, sequestered, questioned, had their phones tapped, been denied rights, have been exported – as countermeasures to the fear of terrorism which increase the presence of fear itself.

From a spiritual point of view, the situation of fear in the world is considerably different than we see it from a strictly ‘usual-consciousness’ point of view. In every spiritual practice, for ages, the presence of fear announces the onset of a movement of spiritualizing – either of individuals or of the world. The evolution of consciousness is not a smooth upward progression. Not by any means. There are gaps and there are regressions. What someone dedicated to spiritual development must above all learn to work with, to meet and encounter and not be taken over by, is fear. Fear can stop all spiritual progress. But it also is the great awakener to the possibility of a huge leap forward into new levels of spiritual awareness. Thus, these times of fear, from a spiritual point of view have to be hailed, and in some ways even welcomed. They signal the possibility, if we can find our way through fear, of the greatest spiritual awakening humankind has yet experienced. This knowledge makes it possible for us to meet whatever comes to us with a quite different sense than cowering and hiding and contracting. It makes us work to find the inner place both of strength and of love to assist in this great moment of shifting into a tremendous expansion of human awareness.

Part II
A Picture of How Fear Itself Looks and Works

One of the best pictures we have of the working of fear itself, not fear of this or fear of that, is the way in which the Nazi doctors who experimented on human beings lived. This story is well documented, with a very important understanding by the Yale Psychiatrist Robert J. Lifton, in his book, The Nazi Doctors. These doctors functioned under a situation of constant fear for years under Hitler’s National Socialism. At the same time, they were constantly told that they were chosen to do research that would undoubtedly save humanity. They lived constantly under this contradiction. They came to a point where they were unable to see anything wrong with the atrocities they performed each day. It was not, however, that these doctors were turned into cruel monsters, or even denied what they were doing. The effect on the doctors of living under contant fear unless they did exactly what they were told, coupled with their understanding of being heroes of humanity, was that two ego’s developed in these people, and these two egos existed and functioned alongside each other without any sense of conflict. These doctors’ sense of their self, on the one hand, was that they were humane physicians, working for the good of the country and for the good of humanity. They also considered themselves good husbands and fathers, were highly cultured in art and music and lived somewhat exemplary lives. Alongside this sense of ego-life, however, there was the doctor who performed atrocities on a daily basis on people. Torture, operations, infecting people were the order of the day, while dinner, dancing and the opera at night. Without any sense whatsoever of conflict or disparity between the two. Lifton terms the process by which the side-by-side ego’s develop, the process of Doubling.       Comment: We now have a president who is completely doubled — and becomes increasingly incomprehensible, saying one thing, taking it away, saying the opposite; making fear, erasing it, without anything taking place in reality. Here is a news report concerning his behavior:

What we’re hearing: Officials tell us Trump seems more self-assured, more prone to confidently indulging wild conspiracies and fantasies, more quick-triggered to fight than he was during the Wild West of the first 100 days in office.

  • Imagine Trump if he signs a huge tax cut into law, which seems likely, amid soaring stocks and rising economic growth.
  • Imagine if Roy Moore wins in Alabama, which seems likely, too. It surely won’t humble Trump — or hem him in.
  • He’s like the Incredible Hulk, after the media and Mueller made him mad.

We just witnessed the most unthinkable 96 hours of Trump’s reign:

  • He called for a probe of the chairman of NBC News, a boycott of CNN, global skepticism of CNN International, and a public contest to crown the king of Fake News.
  • He told friends that the “Access Hollywood” tape may have been doctored, and that former President Obama may have been born abroad.
  • He re-tweeted conspiracy theorists.
  • He unapologetically circulated videos aimed at demeaning an entire religion, Islam. He sent his press secretary out to argue it doesn’t matter if the tapes are fake, because the threat is real.

Be smart: Elected Republicans, at least in public, seem fine with it all. They chuckle and say it’s simply Trump being Trump. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and his staff seem fine with, or at least resigned to, this reality. No one who matters is doing anything but egging him on.

  • Case in point: Amid all of this, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) calls Trump “one of the best presidents I’ve served under.”
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) gushed that he’s never seen Trump in finer form than digging into the tax bill this week.

Comment.    Notice here that those who have opposed the behavior of the president are now condoning it — indicating that a doubling of the whole of Congress is now taking place — for the sake of political survival and for the sake of power.

 Doubling, then, occurs when there is constant fear while there are also conditions that not only deny the fear exists but build up a completely different sense of self than the sense of self under fear. Doubling consists of the forming of a false self alongside the individual self, a self that completely follows outside directions, without, however, knowing that it is doing so. The more that fear intensifies in the world, the greater the possibility that wide-scale doubling will occur without our recognition of it. We do not recognize doubling, first, because it is a spiritual pathology rather than a psychological pathology. The individual spirit is usurped. Second, we do not recognize the syndrome because it is characterized by an increase in cleverness and capacities for lying. Doubling brings about more effectiveness in functional behavior concerned with survival, and the capacity of conscience is completely debilitated. Those who experience doubling do not suffer, but it brings terrible suffering to other individuals, institutions, and culture.

Doubling is, in fact, the incarnating of Fear Itself. That is to say, when people live under a constant ongoing state of fears of every sort, but the constant presence of fear is, on the one hand denied and covered over by an emphasis on every sort of materialism as a way of masking fear, and on the other hand the presence of fear comes out every so often in increasingly strong ways that bring about soul and body contraction — that if people live under these circumstances they begin to lose the sense of their individual spirit-being. We know of course that when people live under constant fear, they begin to be completely compliant. For example, people who work in sweat shops for terrible wages, and are every moment afraid of being fired and live under constant fear of not having food, clothing, shelter, become compliant and lose individuality. But, the kind of fear I am describing is one step beyond that because doubling produces a false sense of being perfectly alright. In fact, doubling brings about a sense that one is a very powerful human being. And, doubling usually brings the possibility of having power over others.

We all have a sense of two ego’s. Typically, in spiritual circles these days, a sense of two ego’s is spoken of as our lower ego and our higher ego, our lower self and our higher self. And, our spiritual ideal is supposed to be to develop from lower ego to higher ego. In fact, they are both always present. Our usual sense of ego is our self-identity, who we imagine ourselves to be, which is more a less the accumulation of our history. Thus, when someone asks you to describe yourself, you will usually say something of your history – when and where you were born, where you grew up, went to school, went to college, what you like, and so on. The sense of the higher ego concerns our spiritual being and aspirations and openness to spiritual beings and to the spiritual worlds. Seldom does anyone “leave” the lower ego and live only in the higher sense of ego. We feel both. But, we also know the difference. When fear occurs in the manner that I have described, the possibility of becoming aware of and of developing a higher sense of self disappears. It is, in effect, replaced.

It is entirely too abstract to simply speak of the higher self. We need to have a clear understanding and description of what this is. This part of our being, what some speak of as the ‘superconscious’ is not conscious without the inner effort of development. We are not conscious of our spirit-individuality. Thus, we are very subject to having this central aspect of our being slowly eroded without having much more than a vague sense that something is wrong. We only feel that we have not found our destiny; we do not know what it is, nor how to look for it. We feel a vague, though sometimes sharp feeling of longing for something more in life. And, we have the sense that we want to feel close to spiritual realities, including the spiritual reality of our own being. We feel helped, perhaps, but not fully satisfied with religion as being the source of this inner knowledge and feeling. And, if we are under a state of constant fear, while we might at first seek spiritual help, if the situation of fear does not ease, we begin to lose the sense that there is within us a spiritual center of our being that cannot be touched by any threat at all, no matter how intense or what the source might be. Fear begins to take us over.

If you have had moments of experiencing your higher-self, your true spirit –individuality, it is something quite astounding. It is like entering a vast loving resource that makes itself known to you through immediacy and intimacy of contact. It is not something that you know about, because your spirit being is your inner holy sanctum, the holy of holies. Sometimes, church can help bring us to those moments, but without the effort of inner development we cannot stay in touch with this dimension of our being.

It is imperative to recognize the consequences of, first, failing to come to be able to experience the core spirit-individuality that we are, and even more, to have this eroded without our being very aware that this is happening. Doubling is now a rampant spiritual pathology in our culture. It consists of cleverness taking the place of creativity; incredibly cruelty taking the place of selflessness; complete self-centeredness taking the place of community, and force taking the place of true inner power and authority.

We see this kind of spirit pathology taking place with many corporate leaders, politicians, heads of state. When we look at these people, it is easy to see that the person is ‘not there’, that something has usurped the very core of their being. This pathology cannot be accounted for nor understood by any current psychology because it is not about psychology; it is about the spirit, about spirit without entwining with Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Soul of America: New Beginnings 14

Thanksgiving or Thankstaking

In these writings, we are now going into a kind of swirl. What we believed about America may be, in some respects, dissolving, particularly in relation to the “founding” of this country. It was not a founding but an invasion without provocation. Not once, but many times, over and over, and in many ways. I have addressed only the most outstandingly destructive ones.

As you have been reading this imagination (the task of imagination is to imagine the real), sorrow, pain, regret, anger, grief, awakens. These stories, these pictures presented, exist within another resonance – what we hear happening to Native Americans – all those atrocities are also happening to the living Being of Earth. Exactly the same sufferings, within Earth herself. The Original people of this land are people who are the same as Earth. I spoke several times of this in the blog;

For example, the protests at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline is one image of the splitting of the literal from imaginal earth. The protestors, Native Americans, might seem to be protecting the literal earth and water. Standing Fox, who came from Arizona to protest, speaks the language of the imaginal earth, saying “Sacred land is who we are and is also a reference to our ways.”

And

The Indian-American has never been separated from his land. Unlike us immigrant Euro-Americans, his traditions stem back to its prehistoric past. And he has doggedly clung to them, preferring to die out as an ever-dwindling racial minority rather than to adapt himself and assimilate others. Whatever he is, whatever he believes, stems from the very soil of his ancient homeland. He is inseparable from the earth itself. (Frank Waters, Masked Gods: Navaho and Pueblo Ceremonialism,pg.17)

When the Original people speak of Mother Earth, they speak imaginally, through soul, and at the same time literally – image and literal are completely entwined and exist together. We divide them – imaginal or literal, one or the other. Native Americans live the entwining of soul/spirit with matter. They live life as ceremony. Some try still. It is terribly difficult. Not only was there the invasions we have spoken of, there was, also from the beginning, a Christian invasion.

Russel Means was an astounding Lakota activist. If you saw the the film I talked about in one blog, “The U.S. A. vs Douglas White”, he spoke several time in the film, and at the end of the film he says to all of us: “Welcome to the Reservation”.

I invite you to listen to him further:

 

Russell Means died in 2012. While you listen, be present inwardly to the fact that when he speaks of his people, he is simultaneously speaking of Earth. Everything that has happened to the Original people also happened and is happening to Earth. All that you are feeling in relation to the Original people, bring to consciousness what you feel concerning Earth.

You might want to go back a re-read some of the writings, holding this truth. She, Earth, from the beginning of what is now this country, was put into slavery, raped, used, invaded, suffocated, lied to, suffered violence after violence, and is bought and sold many times each day. If we have moved even the smallest measure into resonance with the Soul of the Original people and what has happened to them, we have also moved into the soul trauma of Earth. If this is felt…..well, everything else is stupid. Our ‘me-me’ concerns are stupid. What government idiots do is stupid. What technology is doing is stupid. The back and forth going on between nations is stupid. And all a distraction.

This imagination of Earth-Human can be understood conceptually, but so, so much is lost in trying to do so. The imagination here is a matter of heart-presence rather than intellect. We have great difficulty in entering the imagination because for ages now, spirit is imagined, always, as cosmic – out there, up there. All spiritual paths partake of this assumption. I am trying to introduce Earth as spirit — and, as well, that Cosmic spirit and Earth spirit are equal. That is hard enough to enter. Difficult because it is something the heart knows but the intellect cannot. ( a side note. James Hillman in a conversation on Jung’s “The Red Book”, said that there are two ways out of the soullessness that traps us all — erudition or the indigenous. Jim took the route of erudition. I do not think the two ways are separate; it is possible to be within the soul of erudition and recover the indigenous soul — at least that is the route I am taking.)

In 1925, Jung came to America and spent several days at the Taos Pueblo, speaking with a young Native American, named Mirabal (actually, Jung misnames him in his writing). He speaks of that visit in his “Memories, Dreams, and Reflections”:

‘See.’ Mirabal said, ‘how cruel the whites looks. Their lips are thin and their noses are sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something, they are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want, we do not understand them. We think that they are mad.’

I asked him why he thought the whites were all mad.

‘They say that they think with their heads,’ he replied.

‘Why, of course, what do you think with?’ I asked him in surprise.

‘We think here,’ he said, indicating his heart.

We are following this process:

First, anamnesis – or re-membering. This is soul memory, for none of us have lived through the devastation process and only live the result, but it all lies deep within the soul of every American, and we are unconscious of what has/is happening, or deny it is so, or understand only intellectually.

Second, Grieving – more to come concerning grieving and the necessity for grieving to take place together, not individual mourning.

Third – Developing both ‘life as ceremony’ and ‘we-consciousness’.

Each aspect of the process occurs imaginally/literally. Both. Inseparable.

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Or

What Russel Means calls “Thankstaking”

 

 

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The Soul of America: New Beginnings 13

What Happened and continues to happen to the Lakota

Not Guilt but Grief

Unmet Grief Becomes Violence

“Pain that is not transformed will be transmitted”
Richard Rohr

This video blog is a continuation of the context of the story of “The Holy Man: The U.S.A. vs Douglas White

 

 

 

 

The Soul of America: New Beginnings 12

 

Dear Friends,

The ongoing attempt to get at the essence of what has occurred at the soul level of America has no intent to excite anger or agitation, nor does it an attempt at producing guilt. It is more in the nature of an ‘anemesis’, the uncovering of forgetting. The attempt will open up ways to live, soulfully, in troubled times. More, the exposure of the pathology of so-called ‘rationality’ (different from true living thinking) as actually a kind of psychosis that has reduced the religious fullness of culture to the egotism of civilization, has become the ‘normal.’

1620 – The Puritan; The White Man

“The English Puritans were cold, grim, unsuccessful, discontented, and thwarted people, who had uprooted themselves from their motherland. To break from the past. To strike off the shackles that bound them. To escape everything that thwarted them. To get away! This was the dominating impulse driving them to a new continent to begin life anew under any conditions. That was the nemesis that pursued them, the psychosis that they carried with them. They were indeed Pilgrims.” (Frank Waters, Masked Gods: Navaho and Pueblo Ceremonialism, pg. 66)

  1. This statement reveals the essence of the soul of the Puritans, and, more so,

and much more rapidly, suppressed the soul of the land of America — as the

killing and ‘rounding up’ of Indians became ruthless – throughout the

land, and also brought the lie into prominence as the soul overlay of this land.

  1. With the Puritan, the archetypal image of violence becomes central.

The Puritan, in the excessive urge to get away, to find

a “New” Land – (America is anything but ‘New’), became deranged in

soul – Waters calls it a ‘psychosis’. The derangement, one that is still with

us, has become a central aspect of America – consists of the

inner stripping of the capacity to struggle, inwardly struggle, with the

many parts of oneself. We are clean and pure inwardly – there is only the ego; but consciousness does not consist of a singularity;

in soul, we are polytheistic.

The result of the psychosis of the Puritan psyche places violence as

a central aspect of the soul of America. Violence results from placing

all inner struggles within the inner parts, the multiple ‘personalities’ of

the depths of the psyche, outside — projecting the dark aspects of the soul onto others — throughout the world. What we cannot meet as the multiple parts of ourselves is put outside – disagreements,                             differences of race, of color, of tradition, of values, of culture, of religion,— all this is put outside as enemies to be fought against, to be dominated — violence is necessary in order to maintain the fantasy of                   a “New” land – as if it is our for the taking.

Eg. of the Lie — the Trail of Tears. The massive movement of thousands of Indians – The Confederacy of the United Five Nations established by the Iroquois 50 years before the Pilgrims landed. The                            Mowhawk, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, and Cayuga.

Later, when the U.S. was a confederacy of thirteen English colonies came into conflict – for the US, this was an opposing force – they began a process of complete extermination. Benjamin Franklin, for                       example, wrote…that it was ‘the design of Providence to extirpate those savages in order to make room for the cultivators of the earth”

The Cherokee nation was the largest of the Iroquoian tribes. In 1828, gold was discovered on their land – Georgia, NC, Tenn. , where the tribes had been confined.

A fictional treaty was enforced whereby the Cherokee agreed to give up 7 million acres for $4,500,000. They were then removed – 17,000 of them, the Trail of Tears. Four thousand died – on the way to                        Oklahoma. The financial costs of their removal was charged against the funds accredited to them from the sale of their homeland.

What we must work with ‘within’ — – the ‘soul of America

  1. The Violent Soul
  2. The monotheistic, apocalyptic soul
  3. The lying soul

All now, as qualities of the soul of America.

We must be able to do this with complete neutrality; guilt would produce something false; reaction would play into violence; approaching clearing spiritually – would play into the previous pathology of splitting the           material from the spiritual – making the ‘spiritual’ something done individually, alone, inwardly, disembodied.

To summarize – The Heart of America was torn out (the effect of the Conquistadors)

The alchemical transformation of the soul and heart Became literalized as the desire for gold

Democracy has the unhealed wound of lying, forgetting we are lying, lying now taken to be the truth for the sake of material gain

The incapacity of meeting our inner multiplicity results in a centrality of violence in the soul of America

America is changed from a place – a sacred place where harmony of human with earth ritually takes place, to Time, the apocalyptic future.

These qualities are the soul qualities that we see enacted every day; they now lie deep within the American Soul. They are seen as ‘problems’. Each “problem”, though, contains a secret.

—– to be explored.