Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Transformation, Siva and Shakti

"Transformation is the process of evolution of the consciousness through its three main levels of development... predominantly masculine in character... It is a woman's journey as much as man's." --Transformation by Robert Johnson

"Man evolves from acting instinctively to putting his psychic energy under the control of his ego. Then he must evolve further, to place his psychic energy under the control of the Self," writes Robert Johnson in his book, Transformation. Nineteenth century writer and poet, Henry Thoreau wrote extensively of transformations in his writings, Walden Pond.
To many of his time, Thoreau was a genius, a wonder, inspiring people who were now living urban lives to recollect the simplicity they had before, and what was now a challenge before themselves. His writing is a chronicling of a complex man's desire to restore 'simplicity to life through Mother Earth and natural living.'

Johnson writes about his first visit to India as a young man; he was told to expect horrors, deprivations and extreme poverty, corpses lying about on the public streets. He found all this darkness to be true, and he discovered something quite wonderful: there was great joyfulness all around despite this ever present darkness. People were, to his eye, unmistakably happy.
He latter learned that the roots of the word 'happy' are from the verb infinitive, to happen. Happiness he writes, is 'simply what happens.' Simple man lives in this state of happiness; for them it is the rejoinder to both their interior lives and the reality of the exterior, happening world around them.

Falling back upon the Judeo-Christian motif of the Garden, Johnson traces the development of men from the time that they are driven forth from their free, simplified, garden world, robbed of their child-like existence. He asserts that in agrarian societies everywhere, in measured degrees, most people are to be left permanently in simple consciousness. Yet today's complexity and formal education have become so highly valued, many are zealous champions of its development.
In contrast, the India he encountered, the Indian society he experienced was one of Caste, with Brahmins at the top and the Untouchables at the bottom. This system, he noted, keeps the majority of people in Simple consciousness. And while it has its flaws from the Western point of view, Johnson finds advantage in the reduced stress and anxiety in their daily lives, that it "overall avoids mass neurosis prevalent in Western societies."

Using stories familiar to Western readers, Johnson writes of Faust, Mephistopheles, Hamlet and the idea of the personal 'shadow,' the un-lived, concealed parts of the personality. Some have called the shadow a representative of the road less traveled; the ins and outs one may have chosen at different points in their life, but didn't or have not chosen to pursue.
He argues that contrary to assumptions, the shadow is not all grim, all darkness; rather it is the source of much gold, much good in the creative endeavors. The shadow engages one in the art of retrieving those facets of life that are full, meaningful, and maybe what is missing from the daily grind. While some perhaps deduce this all to mean that the shadow is subversive, dark or evil existing life, Johnson disagrees.
He sees the Shadow as an important element to finding ones' wholeness, to completing oneself. By this process, and it is a process, one may redeem oneself; the shadow provides energy and paradox, important components for redemption, the "do over chance" in life.
 
For some it creates so much energy
that there is the sense of brilliance, it burns fire, a blinding light. "This is not unlike the manifestations of Siva, Indian God of Destruction, who appears as paradox for the Western mind." 
 The end is what creates the beginning, the empty becomes full again, are two such examples of paradox. "It is only when Brahma, God of Creation and Shiva are together present" that wholeness becomes loving, Shakti.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

You Can't Go Home Again

"Simple persons live within the happiness of their inner world."--   Transformation  by R. Johnson

In most every spiritual tradition there is a sense
of growing maturity, a ripening of the self into what some call satori, enlightenment or salvation, among other descriptions of this experience. Author and Jungian psychologist Robert Johnson discusses this in his book, Transformation.

He writes there are three levels
of consciousness. They are universal the world over, yet in industrialized societies the progression of these experiences is made all the more difficult by our very advances in book learning and complex societies. The level of all mankind, endowed to each of us by nature is what he describes as 'simple consciousness' next comes 'complex consciousness,' the "usual state of educated Western man, and an 'enlightened' state of consciousness, known only to a very few individuals."

Enlightenment, Johnson reckons,
comes to very few men only after much work and training by highly motivated individuals. He recounts a simple story to illustrate these notions: 'the simple man comes home in the evening wondering what's for dinner; the complex man comes home pondering the imponderables of fate, and the enlightened man comes home wondering what's for dinner.
"Simple man and enlightened man have much in common, including a direct, uncomplicated view of life, and so they react in similar ways."

The difference between them is that the enlightened are conscious of their condition in ways that the simple persons are not. Complex persons however are often engaged with worry, and often live lives marked by anxiety.
Writing Walden Pond, 19th century author Henry David Thoreau writes about his experiences and those of others he knows. He chronicles the complex, Western man's attempt to regain a sense of simplicity in their life.
Gandhi urged India in an earlier era to retain its domestic simplicity; his urgings were largely ignored. Today when one travels to India we are often aware of the tremendous poverty, illness and wants of her citizens. All true. However alongside of these ills is a clear and abundant sense of joyfulness. There is a happiness among large numbers of Indians in their daily lives. Johnson writes of his experiences there, "I was witnessing the miracle of simple man finding happiness in a rich, inner world, not in the pursuit of some desired goal.

Simple persons live within this happiness of their inner world no matter what the exterior circumstance may be. Those of enlightened conscious also know this and live with an attitude of happiness which bridges their inner world with objective facts, a connection the Simple person does not or is unable to make.
Many a Hindu learns that the highest worship is to simply be happy. On the other hand, complex persons often live in their sense of anxiety and dread, trapped between nostalgia and anticipation of what may come, a fate that mostly eludes ones' grasp.
Despite this, complex consciousness is so highly valued by Westerners that nothing is thought to be too great or expensive in a bid "to gain freedom, self-determination and choices," wrought by his expanded perception writes Johnson.

Traditional Indian society, he observes, is based "on a caste system that allows only a few superior individuals," Brahmins, the chief caste to gain consciousness. The lower castes are less concerned with enlightened minds or methods. This keeps the vast majority of Indians in a state of their natural given, simple consciousness.
For once on the path to enlightenment, many will make significant gains before meeting frustration warned Carl Jung, Johnson's mentor.

Jung noted that once one has left the innate state of simple consciousness for more complex states, one can no longer turn around to retrace the steps of the path from which one has come. Quite simply, he believed that on the path to consciousness, Complex persons may meet with stresses and frustration from which they cannot retire. In other words, you can't just go home again to the earlier simplicity and peace you once knew, in recognition of a certain loss of innocence.