Posts Tagged ‘Know Thyself’

Hawk and Moon

October 4, 2013

A line from one of my favorite movies ever, Thunderheart, has stayed with me in the two decades since I first saw it. The film tells the story of an FBI agent played by Val Kilmer called to a Native American reservation to investigate a murder. Since this agent is partly Sioux in his bloodline, the government sends him hoping to soften the residents of the reservation toward him so they will cooperate with the investigation. He is, however, a hot shot with no interest in being identified as Sioux; to him they are primitive, foolish and out of touch with modernity. When he finds himself in the company of their most respected elder, a translator delivers the words of a vision the elder is having – the agent has great standing in this community as a warrior (and the movie goes on to describe why this is so) but, in his present awareness the elder says to him “You are as far from yourself as a hawk is from the moon.”

The story is epic to me. It describes perfectly, in my mind, our modern dilemma as humans. We simply have forgotten who we are. We are as far from ourselves as a hawk is from the moon.

How modernity has led us into this distant wilderness is a topic discussed thoughtfully by eco-theologians, eco-psycholgists, depth psychologists, and many social, anthropological and spiritual analysts. The simple fact remains that each of us, as individuals, have work to do to remember who we are. We have been forgotten. We are forgotten. We forgot. But we can, and must remember.

Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? This may be the most profound meditation a human can consider. The layers of this question will quickly take one past narcissistic and individualistic ideations into a deeper story of identity.

I write about this now because for some reason I keep witnessing the question surfacing in my mind and in the minds of friends, clients and colleagues. I wonder if this might be a result of the shift suggested in the calendar that moved us through 2012 and into a next phase of earth’s evolution. Old answers and old assumptions about who we are – individually, collectively and planetarily – don’t seem to hold power in the same way. People are casting about, bravely, with this question.

To me, in my way of seeing and describing, I would say we have lost the dreaming. Our forebears dreamed, remembered their dreams, discussed, revered and were guided by their dreams. Dreaming is, and was, a dimension of consciousness, a locus of operation in both day and night. To forget this is to lose ourselves and the terrain of the imaginal, a real realm in which our subtle bodies work out situations in the worlds we inhabit.

We are now, collectively, as far from ourselves as a hawk is from the moon. But remembrance is possible and seems to be beckoning. An open doorway stands straight ahead. Crossing its threshold requires willingness, imagination, humility and sense of adventure. But I see it, we’ve got it, we can do this. We can shorten the gap between hawk and moon. I know it. I’m looking forward to it.


March 30, 2013

The archetypal themes of the spring equinox and Easter season are several and powerful. New life, hope and possibility after the cold death and darkness of winter, miracles of resurrection, dark nights of the soul followed by transformation and grace — messages that profoundly encourage and inspire us.

For me this year, the theme that has been a stand out in my reflection is that of forgiveness. Religious persecution is another.

In the Christian story, Jesus is taken not by lousy thieves and bandits, but by the admired and respected authorities of religion and state. Shockingly it seems we have not evolved from there in these 2,000 years. Intolerance goes on and on in all manner of human affairs. Why can’t we get it? I so wish we could get it. Even if a person doesn’t have a particular religion or politics, the tendency of an individual to have his or her own personal Way, the lens through which they see the world, and to resist those who seem to threaten it is no different from any manner of religious persecution. Everyone can benefit by sober reflection on this, I believe.

The pivotal moment in the drama of the capture, torture and crucifixion of Jesus seems to be when he asked for forgiveness for those who were involved in his death. He understood that they really didn’t get it, and he didn’t want them to suffer because of it.

Last night, Good Friday night, thoughts of this came over me like a storm and a weight. I had been watching the news and piddling around when suddenly I found myself unable to do anything but turn off all of the lights, fire up a bunch of candles and sit solemnly in the dark with my altar. I have not forgiven. I know I have not forgiven. Do I even want to forgive? Sometimes it seems like forgiveness is a naive collusion or denial, a failure to stand for something. I know real forgiveness is not that, so how can I find this in me? How does one accomplish that? It doesn’t happen just by saying you want it.

As I reflected, suddenly it became painfully clear to me that the person I need to forgive is myself. This is where it begins and that could make the rest of it easy. The many ways I have failed myself, disappointed myself, judged, criticized, betrayed or lied to myself — these awarenesses came in clearly and baldly. I have joined with some super-ego authority that prescribes what I could or should have done by now, how disciplined I should be, and on and on. It is a failure  in tolerance. The people in my life that I thought I had to forgive, that I still know I have to forgive, hold a pale specter compared to this issue.

Now I see it a little more clearly; many thanks to guides, angels and powers who support the journey for helping me to see. Still, how does it happen? In this self-forgiveness work, just like any other, we don’t want to be in naive collusion or denial about what is to be forgiven. It seems important to stand for something. Figuring this out won’t happen just because by wanting it to, it will be a journey. A journey toward love and tolerance. I accept the task.

Forgiveness begins at home, they say. It goes out from there. It will take over the world I suppose when we start with where the calling truly begins.

Know Thyself

April 23, 2010

These words inscribed above the door of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi proclaim the most obvious and the most difficult of any person’s tasks on this Earth. How can the question of “Who am I?” ever be answered? We are literally made of the same stuff as the stars, the “space” in us is as big as all space, we are a composite of personal, ancestral and collective genetic information, where we have come from and where we are going is up for anyone’s guess yet it matters to most of us deeply in ways we can never seem to resolve, we’re composed of lots of unconsciousness and a tiny bit of consciousness, past-present-future are all illusions, time doesn’t exist really, nor does space as we think of it – and I”m supposed to get up in the morning and know how to direct my energies effectively? I’m having a tantrum at this moment obviously.

Know Thyself. The “S”elf is the all, and the “s”elf is the particular, and they are not different from each other but they are. I am not stoned but I feel stoned. I found my paper about the Trickster. It was written in 1994 and needs a lot of updating, but I was intrigued to find this little poem I had written back then.

I think
I am going mad.
Actually, I think I am realizing
     that I have always been mad
     but haven’t known it.
Now I am having flashes of sanity
And they are driving me crazy.

Since recovering from the idea that there is any “outside” truth that can or should be imposed, coming to believe that “truth” is an inside job, I have committed my life energy and any skills I have developed to the project of “Know Thyself” – both for myself and in all of the work that I do with others. I passionately want to help any individual of any age and any background to realize and deeply respect the truth of themselves; and to find that for myself. I feel underneath instead of on top of the task today. But, forward ho.