"The Long Bag We Drag Behind Us" (excerpt) A Little Book on the Shadow —by Robert Bly

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---Nita Van Zandt


It’s an old Gnostic tradition that we don’t invent things, we just remember.  The Europeans I know of who remember the dark side best are Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, and Carl Jung.  I’ll call up a few of their ideas and add a few thoughts of my own.

Let’s talk about the personal shadow first.  When we were one or two years old we had what we might visualize as a 360-degree personality.  Energy radiated out from all parts of our body and all parts of our psyche.  A child running is a living globe of energy.  We had a ball of energy, all right; but one day we noticed that our parents didn’t like certain parts of that ball.  They said things like: “Can’t you be still?” Or “It isn’t nice to try and kill your brother.”  Behind us we have an invisible bag, and the part of us our parents don’t like, we, to keep our parents’ love, put in the bag.  By the time we go to school our bag is quite large.  Then our teachers have their say: “Good children don’t get angry over such little things.”  So we take our anger and put it in the bag.  By the time my brother and I were twelve in Madison, Minnesota we were known as “the nice Bly boys.”  Our bags were already a mile long.

Then we do a lot of bag-stuffing in high school.  This time it’s no longer the evil grownups that pressure us, but people our own age.  So the student’s paranoia about grownups can be misplaced.  I lied all through high school automatically to try to be more like the basketball players.  Any part of myself that was a little slow went into the bag.  My sons are going through the process now; I watched my daughters, who were older, experience it.  I noticed with dismay how much they put into the bag, but there was nothing their mother or I could do about it.  Often my daughters seemed to make their decision on the issue of fashion and collective ideas of beauty, and they suffered as much damage from other girls as they did from men.

So I maintain that out of a round globe of energy the twenty-year-old ends up with a slice.  We’ll imagine a man who has a thin slice left-the rest is in the bag-and we’ll imagine that he meets a woman; let’s say they are both twenty-four.  She has a thin, elegant slice left.  They join each other in a ceremony, and this union of two slices is called marriage.  Even together the two do not make up one person!  Marriage when the bag is large entails loneliness during the honeymoon for that very reason.  Of course we all lie about it. “How is your honeymoon?” “Wonderful, how’s yours?”

Different cultures fill the bag with different contents.  In Christian culture sexuality usually goes into the bag.  With it goes much spontaneity.  Marie Louise von Franz warns us, on the other hand, not to sentimentalize primitive cultures by assuming that they have no bag at all.  She says in effect that they have a different but sometimes even larger bag.  They may put individuality into the bag, or inventiveness.  What anthropologists know as “participation mystique,” or “a mysterious communal mind,” sounds lovely, but it can mean that tribal members all know exactly the same thing and no one knows anything else.  It’s possible that bags for all human beings are about the same size.

We spend our life until we’re twenty deciding what parts of ourself to put into the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again.  Sometimes retrieving them feels impossible, as if the bag were sealed.  Suppose the bag remains sealed-what happens then?  A great nineteenth-century story has an idea about that.  One night Robert Louis Stevenson woke up and told his wife a bit of a dream he’d just had.  She urged him to write it down; he did, and it became “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”  The nice side of the personality becomes, in our idealistic culture, nicer and nicer.  The Western man may be a liberal doctor, for example, always thinking about the good of others.  Morally and ethically he is wonderful.  But the substance in the bag takes on a personality of its own; it can’t be ignored.  The story says that the substance locked in the bag appears one day somewhere else in the city.  The substance in the bag feels angry, and when you see it it is shaped like an ape, and moves like an ape.

The story says then that when we put a part of ourselves in the bag it regresses.  It de-evolves toward barbarism.  Suppose a young man seals a bag at twenty and then waits fifteen or twenty years before he opens it again.  What will he find?  Sadly, the sexuality, the wildness, the impulsiveness, the anger, the freedom he put in have all regressed; they are not only primitive in mood, they are hostile to the person who opens the bag.  The man who opens his bag at forty-five or the woman who opens her bag rightly feels fear.  She glances up and sees the shadow of an ape passing along the alley wall; anyone seeing that would be frightened.

I think we could say that most males in our culture put their feminine side or interior woman into the bag.  When they begin, perhaps around thirty-five or forty, trying to get in touch with their feminine side again, she may be by then truly hostile to them.  The same man may experience in the meantime much hostility from women in the outer world.  The rule seems to be: the outside has to be like the inside.  That’s the way it is on this globe.  If a woman, wanting to be approved for her femininity, has put her masculine side or her internal male into the bag, she may find that twenty years later he will be hostile to her.  Moreover he may be unfeeling and brutal in his criticism.  She’s in a spot.  Finding a hostile man to live with would give her someone to blame, and take away the pressure, but that wouldn’t help the problem of the closed bag.  In the meantime, she is liable to sense a double rejection, from the male inside and the male outside.  There’s a lot of grief in this whole thing.

Every part of our personality that we do not love will become hostile to us.  We could add that it may move to a distant place and begin a revolt against us as well.  A lot of the trouble Shakespeare’s kings experience blossoms in that sentence.  Hotspur “in Wales” rebels against the King.  Shakespeare’s poetry is marvelously sensitive to the danger of these inner revolts.  Always the king at the center is endangered.

When I visited Bali a few years ago, it became clear that their ancient Hindu culture works through mythology to bring shadow elements up into daily view.  The temples put on plays virtually every day from the Ramayana.  I saw some terrifying plays performed as a part of religious life, in a day by day way.  Almost every Balinese house has standing outside it a fierce, toothy, aggressive, hostile figure carved in stone.  This being doesn’t plan to do good.  I visited a mask maker, and noticed his nine-or ten-year old son sitting outside the house, making with his chisel a hostile, angry figure.  The person does not aim to act out the aggressive energies as we do in football or the Spanish in bullfighting, but each person aims to bring them upward into art: that is the ideal.  The Balinese can be violent and brutal in war, but in daily life they seem much less violent than we are.  What can this mean?  Southerners in the United States put figures of helpful little black men on the lawn, cast in iron, and we in the North do the same with serene deer.  We ask for roses in the wallpaper, Renoir above the sofa, and John Denver on the stereo.  Then the aggression escapes from the bag and attacks everyone.

We’ll have to let this contrast between Balinese and American cultures lie there and go on.  I want to talk about the connection between shadow energies and the moving picture projector.  Let’s suppose that we have miniaturized certain parts of ourselves, flattened them out, and put them inside a can, where it will be dark.  Then one night-always at night-the shapes reappear, huge, and we can’t take our eyes away from them.  We drive at night in the country and see a man and woman on an enormous outdoor movie screen; we shut off the car and watch.  Certain figures who have been rolled up inside a can, doubly invisible by being partially “developed” and by being kept always in the dark, exist during the day only as pale images on a thin gray strip of film.  When a certain light is ignited in the back or our heads, ghostly pictures appear on a wall in front of us.  They light cigarettes; they threaten others with guns.  Our psyches then are natural projection machines: images that we stored in a can we can bring out while still rolled up, and run them for others, or on others.  A man’s anger, rolled up inside the can for twenty years, he may see one night on his wife’s face.  A wife might see a hero every night on her husband’s face and then one night see a tyrant.  Nora in A Doll’s House saw the two images in turn. 
BUY:
Unknown
THE LITTLE BOOK ON THE SHADOW


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"OUR INHERITED DYSFUNCTION" — Eckhart Tolle's — A NEW EARTH (excerpt p.8-13)

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---'Italian glory' (preparatory work for Paradiso) by Guy Denning

If we look more deeply into humanity's ancient religions and spiritual traditions, we will find that underneath the many surface differences there are two core insights that most of them agree on. The words they use to describe those insights differ, yet they all point to a twofold fundamental truth. The first part of this truth is the realization that the "normal" state of mind of most human beings contains a strong element of what we might call dysfunction or even madness. Certain teachings at the heart of Hinduism perhaps come closest to seeing this dysfunction as a form of collective mental illness. They call it maya, the veil of delusion. Ramana Maharshi, one of the greatest Indian sages, blundy states: "The mind is maya."

Buddhism uses different terms. According to the Buddha, the human mind in its normal state generates dukkha, which can be translated as suffering, unsatisfactoriness, or just plain misery. He sees it as a characteristic of the human condition. Wherever you go, whatever you do, says the Buddha, you will encounter dukkha, and it will manifest in every situation sooner or later.

According to Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of "original sin."
Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points. to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition.

The achievements of humanity are impressive and undeniable. We have created sublime works of music, literature, painting, architecture, and sculpture. More recently, science and technology have brought about radical changes in the way we live and have enabled us to do and create things that would have been considered miraculous even two hundred years ago. No doubt: The human mind is highly intelligent. Yet its very intelligence is tainted by madness. Science and technology have magnified the destructive impact that the dysfunction of the human mind has upon the planet, other life-forms, and upon humans themselves. That is why the history of the twentieth century is where that dysfunction, that collective insanity, can be most clearly recognized. A further factor is that this dysfunction is actually intensifying and accelerating.

The First World War broke out in 1914. Destructive and cruel wars, motivated by fear, greed, and the desire for power, had been common occurrences throughout human history, as had slavery, torture, and widespread violence inflicted for religious and ideological reasons. Humans suffered more at the hands of each other than through natural disasters. By the year 1914, however, the highly intelligent human mind had invented not only the internal combustion engine, but also bombs, machine guns, submarines, flame throwers, and poison gas. Intelligence in the service of madness! In static trench warfare in France and Belgium, millions of men perished to gain a few miles of mud. When the war was over in 1918, the survivors looked in horror and incomprehension upon the devastation left behind: ten million human beings killed and many more maimed or disfigured. Never before had human madness been so destructive in its effect, so clearly visible. Little did they know that this was only the beginning.

By the end of the century, the number of people who died a violent death at the hand of their fellow humans would rise to more than one hundred million. They died not only through wars between nations, but also through mass exterminations and genocide, such as the murder of twenty million "class enemies, spies, and traitors" in the Soviet Union under Stalin or the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. They also died in countless smaller internal conflicts, such as the Spanish civil war or during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia when a quarter of that country's population was murdered.

We only need to watch the daily news on television to realize that the madness has not abated, that it is continuing into the twenty-first century. Another aspect of the collective dysfunction of the human mind is the unprecedented violence that humans are inflicting on other life-forms and the planet itself-—the destruction of oxygen-producing forests and other plant and animal life; ill-treatment of animals in factory farms; and poisoning of rivers, oceans, and air. Driven by greed, ignorant of their connectedness to the whole, humans persist in behavior that, if continued unchecked, can only result in their own destruction.

The collective manifestations of the insanity that lies at the heart of the human condition constitute the greater part of human history. It is to a large extent a history of madness. If the history of humanity were the clinical case history of a single human being, the diagnosis would have to be: chronic paranoid delusions, a pathological propensity to commit murder and acts of extreme violence and cruelty against his perceived "enemies"—his own unconsciousness
I projected outward. Criminally insane, with a few brief lucid intervals.


Fear, greed, and the desire for power are the psychologist
cal motivating forces not only behind warfare and violence between nations, tribes, religions, and ideologies, but also I the cause of incessant conflict in personal relationships. They bring about a distortion in your perception of other people and yourself. Through them, you misinterpret every situation, leading to misguided action designed to rid you of fear and satisfy your need for more, a bottomless hole that ' can never be filled.

It is important to realize, however, that fear, greed, and the desire for power are not the dysfunction that we are speaking of, but are themselves created by the dysfunction, which is a deep-seated collective delusion that lies within the mind of each human being. A number of spiritual teachings tell us to let go of fear and desire. But those spiritual practices are usually unsuccessful. They haven't gone to the root of the dysfunction. Fear, greed, and desire for power are not the ultimate causal factors. Trying to become a good or better human being sounds like a commendable and high-minded thing to do, yet it is an endeavor you cannot ultimately succeed in unless there is a shift in consciousness. This is because it is still part of the same dysfunction, a more subtle and rarified form of self-enhancement, of desire for more and a strengthening of one's conceptual identity, one's self-image. You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness.

The history of Communism, originally inspired by noble ideals, clearly illustrates what happens when people attempt to change external reality—create a new earth— without any prior change in their inner reality, their state of consciousness. They make plans without taking into account the blueprint for dysfunction that every human being carries within: the ego.

A_New_Earth_by_Eckhart_Tolle-1--
A NEW EARTH — Tolle (excerpt p.8-13)



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"Three Spiritual Lessons in Eight Years" by Eckhart Tolle

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---“Relaxing Cat” by Toni Goffe


It’s Not a Damned Race
No matter how often I tell myself I wont read more than one or two books at a time, I always find myself in the middle of three or four books. Why? Because I think I am being productive by consuming and cruising through more and more information. Am I? No. The money is in the practice and its effects not what you can quote and recite line by line, word for word.

It doesn’t matter if it takes one month or five years to develop the ability to sit in peace and quiet and do a meditation without a barrage of thoughts every minute. The clock isn’t ticking down and you aren’t going to hell or some other imagined location for skipping out on a reading session or a meditation. Slow down and enjoy the process of learning and clearing the clouds that obscure your vision from peace and happiness.


You Don’t Know as Much as You Think You Know
Remember last year when you might have been a mental wreck or at least not the mental champion you might think you are now (or, like me, you might realize you know little, and even this is an overstatement)? Now remember even a year or more before that? I like to think back to when a significant inspiring moment shot me into a place of peace and tranquility, then the crafty ego crept in and assured me I knew it all. One year later, I knew it all again. And then again.

A key step in our spiritual growth is recognizing we know nothing. I’ll say it again: Nothing. You may have already discovered that the path to peace and happiness reaches a point in which we realize it is not a path a learning and accumulating knowledge, but it is a journey to remove all the nonsense and images our minds make up to make sense of the world. Eventually, we see that to judge anything is to misunderstand it.


Stop Reaching for the Mystical Experience
If that’s what you want, drop some acid or smoke some DMT. As tempting as doing that might be, we aren’t trying to get a spiritual high. Like point #2, we are relinquishing judgment. We are attempting to see everything as it is and everyone as they are. I’m not going to be your mother and tell you not to experiment (here’s an interesting article on that kind of experimentation), but that’s not the goal. We are merely attempting to see how our judgments betray our happiness and distort our world.


B. Talbot--Braden Talbot Website


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"Why It Is Wise to Worship a Woman" by Arjuna Ardagh

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--“Antonia” by B.K. Lusk


"Why It Is Wise to Worship a Woman"

— Arjuna Ardagh

A few days ago, after a particularly exquisite evening with my wife Chameli, I put this post up on Facebook before going to bed:
"I have had many, many great teachers in my life. A super abundance. No one and nothing comes close to the woman who is now asleep in the bedroom. My marriage has become the guru, the salvation, the muse, the crack through which the divine shines through."

When I woke up the next morning, there were the usual offerings of people who liked the post as well as comments. One man had the vulnerability and courage to post this on facebook:
"Thank you Arjuna for this sharing, I feel like [I'm] in front of a choice which is between feeling envious of what you have and I don't, or instead to decide that 'I want that too,' and, as you show, it is possible..."

I was touched.

Over the next days, I got several more messages like this from men: vulnerable men, honest men, rare and courageous men. They came in as private messages on Facebook or through our website, and they all said basically the same thing:
"I read your Facebook post. I want what you have. Show me how to get it."

So, friends, here it is. The short guide on how to worship a woman, and why it's the wisest thing that a man can do. First of all, lets pop a few very understandable doubts that you might have. I'm familiar with all of them.

1. "I'm wounded and damaged in my relationships to the feminine."
So am I, dear brother, so am I. My parents divorced in a messy way when I was four. I grew up alone with my mother. She did her very best to provide for me, but she was unhappy and insecure. By the time I started to have relationships with women myself in my early teens, I discovered that I had a mountain of resentments, fears, and separation in my relation to the feminine. The conscious practice of worship can become a part of healing the wounds.

2. "Arjuna, you're lucky. You've got an incredible partner. I'm together with a woman who's not like Chameli."
I really don't have the ultimate answer to that doubt or question. It certainly could seem to be the case that I've been lucky in finding a great woman, but here's how it happened for me. I've had a lot of less lucky connections in my life. I've experienced my share of the manipulative side of the feminine: the victim, the rageful, the vengeful. And I have seen the ugly side of the masculine psyche in myself. A few weeks prior to meeting Chameli, my wife, something deep and profound shifted in me, which I believe can shift for anyone in the same way.

3. "I don't have a partner at all, and I sometimes doubt if I'll ever meet anybody."
Being with a partner where worship is not flowing, or not being with a partner at all, are basically two aspects of the same situation: you've had an intuition or a glimpse of the possibilities of a deeper love, and you want more of it. The solutions are the same.

“I feel my heart is closed down. I live in my head a lot, and I wouldn't even know what worship was if it broke into my house at 2 o'clock in the morning and held me at gunpoint."

That's where the whole thing starts for all of us, when we realize that we don't yet know how to love. And that's that the big question that you have to consider: "Is that okay with me?" Never mind how much money you make, or how many friends you have on Facebook, no matter how nice a house you live in, or no matter how big a car you drive, no matter how impressive your partner's bust size, or how much you meditate and become spiritual... have you loved for real, in a total and undefended way? If not, and here's where you have to be honest with yourself, is that OK with you? Is it OK to die one day without the heart's gift having been fully given?

Eight or nine years ago, I came to that question in myself, exactly that, and I discovered that the answer was, if I was was raw and vulnerable and uncomplicated, that it was actually not OK. If I died one day without having fully loved, it would not have truly been a life well lived.

Many many, years ago, I went to Bali for a vacation, on my own. I met up with some other young travelers there and we hired a Jeep to take us on a tour of the island. We drove up right to the highest point of the island, where Tourists don't usually go. Our guide took us to one of the most sacred temples. It was surrounded by a big brick wall with an ornate entrance. After removing our shoes and wrapping scarves around our heads, we stepped together through this entrance. Inside, there was a short courtyard and then another brick wall with another entrance. After more preparations of lighting incense and giving offerings, we stepped through the second entrance. We were allowed to go through the opening in one more wall, but that was it. All together there were ten walls around the deity in the middle. Hindus could go beyond the fourth wall.

Devotees of that particular deity could go beyond the fifth wall, and so it went on. The only people allowed to approach the deity directly were those who had given their lives completely and totally to its worship. Everyone else could come a little closer, a little closer, to the innermost beauty, but not all the way to the center.

I'm not a big believer of the worship of statues, but there's a beautiful symbolism to what I saw there, because a woman's heart is just like that. At the essence of every woman's heart is the divine feminine. It contains everything that has ever been beautiful, or lovely, or inspiring, in any woman, anywhere, at any time. The very essence of every woman's heart is the peak of wisdom, the peak of inspiration, the peak of sexual desirability, the peak of soothing, healing love.

The peak of everything. But it's protected, for good reason, by a series of concentric walls. To move inwardly from one wall to the next requires that you intensify your capacity to devotion, and as you do so, you are rewarded with Grace. This is not something you can negotiate verbally with a woman. She doesn't even know consciously how to open those gates herself. They are opened magically and invisibly by the keys of worship.

If you stand on the outside of the outermost wall, all you have available to you, like many other unfortunate men, is pornography. For $1.99 a minute, you can see her breasts, maybe her vagina, and you can stimulate yourself in a sad longing for deeper love.

Step through another gate, and she will show you her outer gift-wrapping. She'll look at you with a certain twinkle in her eye. She'll answer your questions coyly. She'll give you just the faintest hint that there is more available.

Step through another gate with your commitment, with your attention, with the small seedlings of devotion, and she'll open her heart to you more. She'll share with you her insecurities, the way that she's been hurt, her deepest longings. Some men will back away at this point. They realize that the price they must pay to go deeper is more than they are willing to give. They start to feel a responsibility. But for those few who step though another gate, they come to discover her loyalty, her willingness to stick with you no matter what, her willingness to raise your children, stick up for you in conversation, and, if you are lucky, even pick up your dirty socks now and then. And so it goes on. You've got the gist by now.

Somewhere around the second wall from the center, she casts the veils of her personality aside, and shows you that she is both a human being and also a portal into something much greater than that. She shows you a wrath that is not hers, but all women's. She shows you a patience that is also universal. She shows you her wisdom. At this point you start to experience the archetypes of women, who have been portrayed as goddesses and mythological figures in every tradition.

Then, at the very center, in the innermost temple itself, all the layers of your devotion are flooded with reward all at once. You discover the very essence of the feminine, and in a strange way that is not exactly romantic, but profoundly sacred all the same, you realize that you could have got here with any woman if you had just been willing to pass through all the layers of initiation. Any woman is every woman, and every woman is any woman at the same time. When you love a woman completely, at the very essence of her being, this is the one divine feminine flame. It is what has made every woman in history beautiful. It's the flame behind the Mona Lisa, and Dante's Beatrice, and yes, also Penelope Cruz and Heidi Klum. You discover the magic ingredient which has lead every man to fall in love with a woman.

When you learn how to pay attention to the essence of the feminine in this way, you fall to the floor in full body prostration, tears soaking your cheeks and clothes, and you wonder how you could have ever taken Her, in all of Her forms, for granted even for a second.

So just a couple small questions remain. First, do you get what I'm talking about? Does it jive for you? Does it make sense? And second, if yes, how are you going to get from where you are now to being able to the full capacity of your heart to love for real? I'd be glad to share more about this if we get to know each other better, but here's how you get started.

First, do what I did, and create an altar in your room dedicated to Divine Feminine. Put only symbols of the feminine on it. I have a painting called "Beatrix" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I have a statue of Quan Kin. Populate your altar with anything that reminds you of the feminine, and spend a few minutes of the day in worship. Yes, worship. Adoration. Devotion. Offer up rose petals. Offer poems. Offer everything, and beg Her to reveal Her innermost essence to you. This will work miracles whether you're single and waiting to meet the right woman or whether you're already in relationship and long to meet your woman in a deeper way.

The second way to get started: make a practice, a discipline, of telling your woman, or any woman, ten times a day something which you adore about her. "I love the smell of your shampoo." "I love the way you laugh." "The color of your eyes is so beautiful." Of course, you need to keep it appropriate. You can go as far out on a limb as you like if you're in relationship with a woman, but with anyone else remember the gates. Keep you communication appropriate to the gate number that you find yourself at. Appreciation the curve of a woman's breast, for example, if she happens to be the cashier at the supermarket, would equate more to harassment than worship.

THE TRANSLUCENT VIEW: Arjuna Ardagh’s Website
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