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Mental Illness in the Pagan Community
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A Pagan Perspective on Easter
The Star Child
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April 6th. 2014 ...
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Manifesting the Dream: On Religious Organizations, Pagan Abbeys and our Order
True Meaning of Community
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Article ID: 14574
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,148
Times Read: 2,694
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Author: Bob Makransky
Posted: July 31st. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,694
My own, personal spiritual quest has been driven by a burning need to find the answers to two questions:
1) Why is our society so screwed up? and
2) Why are people such a**holes?
After many years of contemplating and channeling, and delving into Buddhism, Taoism, and Carlos Castaneda, I have arrived at satisfactory answers to both of those questions. To make a long story short, the attention necessary to participate in waking reality (everyday society) is focused by everybody constantly pinching himself or herself and pinching each other to stay awake all day long. If we all stopped the constant fussing and fuming and hassling ourselves and each other for only a minute, then what we consider to be "reality" would collapse back into what it actually is: a dream. Just as the capitalistic economy is driven by dissatisfaction (if everyone felt happy and content and complete all the time, it would be terrible for the economy) , so too, in exactly the same fashion, is waking consciousness – everyday society – driven by dissatisfaction. To be able to stay awake for 16 hours running is quite exhausting. The only way we adults can keep it up is by battening down our hatches, turning ourselves OFF, hunkering down, and grimly bearing it.
In comparison with an infant, whose senses are keen, alert, and alive, we adults are like zombies whose senses are so dull that we seem to move about in a drugged stupor. Adults don’t see much of what goes on in the world around us. We are immersed in our thoughts; we’re in a hurry. A pretty leaf lying on the sidewalk doesn’t have much importance in our scale of values. Moreover, we turn aside from any sight which might tend to make us feel.
When we look at other people, for example, we can only see the most superficial details of their physical appearance; we can’t let ourselves feel with them (feel what they are feeling) .
Nor do adults customarily hear anything of the world except for the dull drone of talk or the constant repetition of the same music. We only hear what we want to hear – we’ve lost the infant’s sense that the world is serenading us all the time. To an infant, the world is always new and vivid: every pleasant taste is orgasmic; every fresh smell is orgasmic; every soft sound is orgasmic; every gentle touch is orgasmic.
Perhaps our greatest sensory distortion of all is reflected in the way we adults touch the world around us, perhaps because of all the senses, touch is the closest to feeling. The chief reason we wear clothes in warm weather, when it would be more comfortable to go naked, is to dull our sense of touch. Wearing clothes does mask our vulnerability (provides us with a screen behind which we can hide from other people) , but its main function is to cut off our feeling of the world – the dance of the breeze across our skin, the warmth of sunlight, the thrill of raindrops. We bundle ourselves up against the cold to dull our awareness of the chill of death, to soothe ourselves into a stupor, while children play joyously outside in their shirtsleeves. It’s not that children don’t feel the cold or are too stupid to put on a coat – it’s that the cold is their friend. We adults have made it our enemy.
We prefer comfort to touching. In particular, our use of shoes (except when our feet really do need protection) is an egregious waste of precious healing energy that the earth would otherwise give us through our feet. We cut ourselves off from all direct contact with the earth, our mother, and then we wonder why we feel like lost children in an alien environment.
We also disconnect ourselves from the things in our world: we grab things, bandy them about, and throw them down. We don’t have a feeling of relationship with the things about us the way an infant does. Feeling connected means, that instead of treating things as insensible objects, treating them as if they were as capable of feeling as we are.
A sailor knows that his ship loves him; a child knows her dolls are alive; and most of us have at one time or another felt emotionally intimate with our automobiles. These feelings are no mistake – this is true mingling with the objects in our environment, relating to the world on a basis of true feelings, as an infant or magician does, rather than on a basis of thought forms (learned concepts, such as that a car is just a “car”, and any feelings we are picking up from it are just our imagination) . This is where each of us must begin again to learn to love, because if we can’t love inanimate things, which have no malign intent, there’s no hope of our ever learning to love something as bewilderingly complex as a human being.
This means paying attention to what we’re doing when we are touching or handling things; being grateful to our tools for the help they give us; lifting things gently and placing them where we want them; dealing with them with the same delicacy and respect with which we ourselves would prefer to be treated. We toss things about carelessly or leave things in a mess, and then wonder why we feel that life is tossing us about like an insensible object, and why our life is a mess. We can’t make that connection in our minds, of where those feelings are coming from.
Our adult concept of ownership – our belief that we possess objects – is one of the main ways we cut ourselves off from them. Indeed it is more true to say that they possess us – they have us in thrall to our fear of losing them; and they know it; and we know they know it. We become ashamed to face the objects in our environment, and we close our hearts to them by proclaiming that we “own” these “insensible” objects, therefore we are better (more important) than they are. We feel ashamed because we know we have betrayed ourselves, betrayed our own true feelings, in exchange for some pathetic sense of glory (note that in Mayan society, by contrast, possessions – particularly the tools used in daily work and food preparation – are regarded as alive, and must be treated with respect and propitiated ritually, or else they turn against their owner) .
The feeling of importance, which is the principle that undergirds focus and thus is the basic building block of adult (waking) consciousness (i.e. it is importance, the feeling that something is important, is pending, has to be paid attention to, is what keeps us awake) , has two manifestations: shame and glory. These chase each other around in an endless circle, and generate the energy necessary to drive importance. That is, they keep the attention occupied in an endless loop. When attention is caught in an endless feedback loop – a self-reflection in an endless series of mirrors – it takes on a frantic urgency, which we feel as importance. We feel that it is important to seek glory and to hide shame.
We are taught to feel the validation of our conceptual thought forms by other people as glory; and to feel the beckoning of our own true feelings as shame. We are taught to seek the one and to hide the other: to deny our senses and true feelings, and to substitute instead a phoniness, which other people will applaud. It is an endless loop because glory cannot be arrived at without shame: to seek glory is to seek a lie, and lies bring about feelings of shame because we know in our hearts that we are not what we claim to be – more important than anything else.
Now while it is true that most human societies have historically recognized the need for a sense of importance in order to focus individual and group attention, not all societies implemented importance by setting up a shame / glory cycle. Indeed, there have been human societies on earth in ancient times that consisted of enlightened beings who set up and defended schemata of importance categories, but more as art for art’s sake rather than something to shed blood, sweat, and tears over. These societies played life more as a game than we do; the individual was motivated because he or she believed things were important (as in our society) , but importance was based on the best allocation of energy resources in the now moment, the most skillful employment of whatever opportunities were at hand, rather than the reduction of all the joy in life to a striving for glory and hiding shame. They buttressed importance with competence and self-love.
Be that as it may, our society took the glory road, in which importance is equated with personal glory (approval by the social group) and hiding shame (stifling one’s own true feelings) . In our society, the driving force which runs the spinning wheel of shame and glory and thereby buttresses importance is not competence, but irresponsibility; not self-love, but self-hatred. Self-hatred is the glue which binds our society together, and which enables us all to deny our own senses for the common weal. Its basic component is the assumption that what we do when we’re awake is more important (more real) than what we do when we’re asleep.
A human being does not naturally sleep all through the night and stay awake all day long. Our hunter ancestors, like infants, slept off and on when they felt like it, and divided their sleeping and waking hours indiscriminately between day and night. Although our vision is keener during the day, our feelings are keener at night, in the dark. An infant isn’t afraid of the dark; on the contrary, to him it is reminiscent of the peaceful, enjoyable, warm state he knew in the womb. He finds the daylit world jangly and nerve-wracking. Only later, when his mother has become the most important thing to him – far more important than his own feelings – does the dark become a forbidding place, since he can no longer see his mother (since he can no longer feelher) .
Adults are the ones who are afraid of the dark, though they repress this fear and laugh at the children who act it out openly for them. They are afraid of the dark because they are afraid of feeling their own feelings; and because they are afraid of feeling their own feelings, they hate themselves.
It is far more natural for a person to sleep on and off during the day, and to be awake on and off at night. A person vents a great deal of anger, fear, impatience, etc. by being able to sleep it off. In cultures where they take a siesta during the day, the pace of life is generally more relaxed than in countries where people relentlessly drive themselves all day long every day.
Sleep is the ultimate conservation of health – the feeling of inner balance and stability. Instead of fighting sleep with drugs, caffeine, or busyness; instead of holding the daylit world to be supremely important and the world of sleep-wasted time; we should allow our bodies to dictate when and where we should sleep.
In dreamless sleep we make the deepest contact with our love for ourselves; by cutting ourselves off from sleep, we cut ourselves off from self-healing and self-love. The main cause of our self-hatred, the chief reason we are all so neurotic and out of kilter with our world, is because we’ve been awake too long.
Excerpted from Magical Almanac free monthly ezine http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac.
Location: Coban, Guatemala
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