Karmic Justice

They say there is karmic justice. Or that there is cause and effect. Some say what goes around, comes around. I always accepted such expressions in a belief that such thinking as “do unto yourself as you’d have done unto you” or “the good that you do is returned manyfold to you” was a necessity for human existence and civilization, regardless of whether it was true or not.  I mean, did I ever really believe that there was karmic justice  ? I don’t know, but I knew that that thinking otherwise would allow a moral latitude that may encourages shadow to be let loose and wreck havoc.  Some of us split the world into right, wrong, just, unjust, moral, immoral not because we are rigid or don’t understand that there is an in-between grayness to life, but because we are aware that the problem with letting go of the split makes morality a slippery rope which, if we slip on, we can rarely regain our grip on. If we let some seemingly innocuous devils escape thru the cracks of our moral consciousness, soon we have the whole village of bigger and nastier internal devils knocking on our doors and breaking down the doors, and we find ourself in a quagmire of immorality, and rehabilitation becomes much harder if not impossible. It is always meaningful to recognize the dangers of that the shadow posits, our vulnerability and culpability to its lure. I understood I may not be strong enough to confront my dark side, so I tried to stay away from temptations to cross over to the dark side.  But, as Bob Dylan would say “Ah, but I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now!” Today, I am centered, and have more confidence in my ability to navigate these muddy waters, and discern situationally and know that if I do fall, I’ll be able to get right back up and I’d be ok again. Morality is not something that has happened to me, or something I did, or do in my life, but it has always been so interwoven into the fabric of my being that it was impossible to extract me from it, or extract it apart from me.

My writing today is inspired by the recent and untimely demise of an old acquaintance/friend who recently succumbed to cancer, losing his will to live. These writings are my tribute to the essential kindness and gentleness of his soul. He was not religious per se but with a religious attitude towards life, he was honest on the inside, but was contained within a very toxic family which had very situational and questionable ethics. The funds that were used by his family for the treatment of his cancer had been fraudulently acquired, causing hardships to many innocent souls, and it is my belief that the cancer that killed him was of his own wishing, arising of that knowledge, and guilt, and his helplessness in the face of such a violent  assault on his otherwise moral soul. Death provided a way to escape his inescapable family, and although I was not there by his bedside when he passed away, I believe he was happy to part from those that he loved, but those that destroyed the fabric of his morality. His death has spawned this inner quest on the issue of morality, and the consequences of one’s helpless and inability to defend that inherent virtue which is also an innate striving of the human soul.

All things aside, the psyche is essentially a religious entity. Jung posited that man does not choose to be spiritual, spirituality is an essential quality of the psyche. One can channel this spirituality into positive constructions that serve the highest aspirations of the psyche – the center of one’s being – the inner god; or one could  displace the spirituality into destructive constructions like materialism, addictions, arrogance etc where the spirituality has an equally numinous “glow” but this glow serves the metaphorical devil in the psyche.

Purity of the soul is thus an innate part of the psyche. An infant is born pure and uncontaminated but developmental struggles block and contaminate the soul, and  imprison the spirit. The psyche undergoes trauma due to conflicts that arise of the necessity for survival. These conflicts force us to constantly choose between morality and immorality, honesty and dishonesty, truth and falsity, ethics and lack of ethics, good and bad. The innocence of the soul is sacrificed at the alter of developmental adaptation, but being essentially spiritual, the soul is constantly struggling to regain its true nature, the purity of an infant. These struggles between the inner god and the inner devil are sometimes carried out consciously by a spiritually aware person, but in others they’re blocked away and managed within the unconscious. Unobserved by the consciousness, the split fragments the psyche, each inner fragment fighting for survival, and supremacy.

When the war between these intra-psychic fragments becomes too intense, conflicts cannot be managed internally and they get spilled over into the external environment. A man who is fighting a losing battle between honesty and dishonesty, his dishonesty does not always remain a matter of internal turmoil. The conscience constantly asks questions in self reflection, and at some point, these questions are ignored and acted out externally. The person openly becomes dishonest. Such a person attracts dishonest people to himself  –  he may find himself surrounded by people who treat him with as little honesty and integrity because people with higher moral values will have little in common with him. He slowly slips deeper and deeper into the universe of anarchy in the real world and is always surrounded by conflict and chaos.

On the psychic level,  his weakened ego structure comes under the away of shadow elements, and the conflict is pushed into the unconscious. External compensation has to be applied to compensate for this inner weakness. The external environment may subject him to external rules – the law, and the justice system – may ask him the same questions that the conscience had been asking. Hence an internal struggle has now become externalized. In extreme cases, he may have to go to jail for giving in to his impulses. Hence while the soul struggles to remain uncontaminated, the body is made to suffer for the unresolved internal struggles and conflicts.  This external resolution compensates for weakness in the internal moral structure.

Meanwhile, consciousness has no access to the internal war going on in the unconscious, so he is not aware of this war between right and wrong that silently wrecks damage in the unconscious. The battlefields of unconscious are littered with the blood of the pure, and if the war to regain the true nature of humanity, the war to maintain the purity of soul, is lost, the loss will spill over to the body in the form of physiological or psychological disease. Both, the body as well as the spirit are weakened in the process. The body cannot house an impure soul and eventually will succumb to this internal conflict, even though in the here and now the person seems to be in control.

A person with integrity and honesty, on the other hand, will steer away from unethical behavior, unethical friends, unethical acts. There is little intra-psychic conflict, as the external environment is in harmony with, and is aligned with the innate purity of the soul. Body and spirit are strengthened by this harmony. Even if the external life is filled with trauma, as in the case of many who become innocent victims, the internal compensates for the outer turmoil. Their internal life is peaceful, and in harmony with nature. The purity of mind does not necessarily need to be metaphysical or religious, but it does need to have a religious attitude, and the sanctity and safety of the physical life as its goal, for a conflict ridden mind damages the body.

All this seems so easy to achieve, but as usual life is not as simple. Take for example the case of a person of less integrity trapped in a circle of ethical and moral society, or friends and family. This person may be pushed towards a more religious attitude towards life, and may overcome the contamination of the soul if he remains open to change. The universe will help him.

But what about the person of integrity and strong moral consciousness being trapped in an environment that is fundamentally dishonest. If the environment is a job, a person maybe able to change the job. If it is a friendship, change is still possible. But what if it is a fundamentally unethical society? Or, as in the case of my acquaintance/friend – if the family – wife, husband, sons, daughters, parents have lost their moral compass ? What can one do? Especially if one is attached to the family and or society? Technically, the person could fight for the right attitude, the notion of family, friends, relatives and relationships as being delusions of the mind. That assertive attitude would be an act of compassion towards those that are misguided. But not everyone has the strength of character, and the will to follow this path of individuation. For them, such idealisma and wisdom may be difficult to achieve in real life. In such cases, as in the case of my friend/acquaintance, the inner voices become difficult to ignore, and because one refuses to take assertive action, a sense of helplessness sets in.  The person cannot  give up his essential spirituality, yet the environment denies him access to that spirituality, and his own character fails him in an effort to conform. He becomes helpless in the face of such conflicting forces. Continuous helplessness may weakens the will to live. One may fantasize, for example, that the fastest solution out of this debilitating moral dilemma is provided by the freedom accorded by death. Such a person has a death wish, he flirts with death, and wills death. The inner cancer of guilt and misgiving that is debilitating the psyche may manifest itself in various diseases – included obsessive compulsive disorders, panic attacks, cancer, tumor etc. The body becomes a battlefield, and biology becomes a means by which is manifest what essentially is an intra-psychic conflict between the powerful good which wins the spirit/mind, pushing the “bad” onto the soul/body, between omnipotent god that is represented by purity of thought, and the devil that dies thru the body. The masculine principle (that associated with the heavens, celestial sublimation, ethics, duty, morality  and consciousness and destruction, death and dying ) prevails over the feminine (symbolic of the body, earthly aspects of the psyche, the home of the irrational and the unconscious, and the part responsible for rebirth, regeneration and nurturance)  – and hence the body dies in the process.   The good manifests itself in the spirit, and the soul becomes a container for the lost, hence the term – a lost soul!

To pull a person out of such an intrapsychic conflict is often possible provided sufficient insight is created. When a disease is conceptualised in metaphorical terms, it does not necessarily mean that the disease can be cured. Though physiological is often a manifestation of the psychological, biological degenration itself can often become irreversible. Thus symptoms of cancer, for example, cannot always be alleviated by psychological treatment, but removal of intrapsychic conflicts creates relief that will allow the person to find peace and comfort out of that internal battle. Such a person may be better able to maintain a psychological equilibrium and endure their state more gracefully, with more acceptance, even joy. This acceptance frees up libidinal energy that is otherwise used up in forcing an equilibrium state. This freed-up energy is spent on healing the body, and may boost up immune system, for example. and this may make a significant difference in treatment, ensuring the success of the treatment. Hence minimization of internal conflicts and living a life aligned with nature and the natural, in acceptance and peacefulness, often become self fulfilling prophecies.

At this point of conclusion, for some reason, the teachings of Buddha reverberate thru my mind :  “see things as they are, not as you want them to be.” Perhaps he meant to bless us with the ability to see beyond the physical, at the symbolic reality that life offers. However, he also held that though others can show the way, the hard work has to be done by the individual himself. There are not short cuts in life, and the inner work is often difficult and unpleasant, but the rewards are plenty. And of primary importance is the wish, and the willingness of the person. A person should *want* to lead a purer life, a life devoid of all internal conflicts. Often this will is weakened by materialism, but embracing our innate morality creates an internal sense of well being, a sense of having lived life to the best of your ability, of having no regrets, and knowing that you leave behind for your children a role model, and a world that is better off because you have walked a moral path in it. This engenders generativity, which is necessary for age appropriate development as we cross the threshold of 40s. Such living, and only such living from the heart, opens up all the beneficent energies of the universe, including synchronicities, that assist us in our onward  journeys.

So here’s wishing all of us the capacity to resolve our internal conflicts, because what is not resolved internally, becomes an external reality.

M.

http://www.madhusameer.com

PS: These writing represent my personal philosophy on the subject of psychological and physiological disease, distilled and combined together in the furnace of experience. As such these are not representative of any one single clinical or diagnostic orientation in psychology or any treatment methods etc.

20 responses to “Karmic Justice”

  1. Dear Madhu,

    With each exchange we become closer and , at the same time, our differences become more apparent. But notice that I do not say problematic. So let me take up some of your words and respond again.

    You write: “Of course you are outside my body. But what you are is meaningless to me…”

    I respond: I take you at your word, or in this case words. The distinction you imply between me being a “what” and me being a “who” is important to you, but it also suggests that what I am and what you are is meaningless to one of us. Is this due to a lack of understanding about what it means to be a human being? Or is it due to your desire to suggest that the only meaningul thing about me is my being conscious like you are? Probably something different as well.

    What you mean by something being “meaningless” to you either means to me that you do not know and may want to be educated further about how it could be meaningful or you don’t want me to go there because you have already closed the door to it (been there, done that) and do not want to revisit it.

    For you to suggest that you can not understand the meaning of something without your personal experience of it certainly is limiting and I would suggest an unnecessary step. We have guides to help us take steps that we have not experienced for this very reason. “Do not put your hand into that flame” is a bit of wisdom we impart. Some only learn by doing the very thing they are told not to do. To only trust one’s own experience suggests a deep distrust of others. Do you only trust yourself? What holds you back from entrusting yourself to another?

    You write: “Its the internal representation of you that is within me that is meaningful to me. .. Who you are to me, depends on what I see you as. So that seeing is within. That impulse which identifies John D to me, that sense of respect I have for you is not a property of you. It is an property that my psyche ascribes to you.”

    I respond: Your approach in the end takes the process of knowing only half way. As I described in an earlier response about the epistemology of Aquinas which I agree with, you work with the phantasm (the image) of me inside yourself. That working makes you feel different ways.

    However, there is another step which you leave out. It is critical. Otherwise you are really only dealing with an image of the real John, rather than working through the image to discover the John outside of you.

    The second step is to return your gaze to the person who is real outside you. The person who is not the construct of the many pieces you have experienced. Only by taking the second step do you honor me or anyone else with the existence we truly have and share with you, as if by revelation to you.

    You write: “This is what I mean when I say we can only feel God to the extent we can feel that impulse within us. That impulse is not God. Nor are we God. The impulse gives us a miniscule understanding of God…just like your writing gives me a small element of understanding of what a little bit of John may be like….So far so good? Are we in the ballpark of an agreement at least?”

    I respond: By identifying the impulse within us as a way of leading us to God who, not what, is outside us, you have again taken only half the steps needed. There is even a stranger thing going on in this particular instance when dealing with God. Unlike when you are dealing with me and decide to take the second step as I describe above, in the case of communicating with God, we must make room for him inside ourselves, because he has left his calling card in us from the outset, so to speak.

    At the bottom of ourselves, as we look deeper within, we come to the realization that we are not self-generating. We do not create ourselves, even though we may produce constructed concepts of ourselves. (This may be what you work with daily in your work with others. You try to help them see how their constructed concepts of themselves are part, if not all, of the problem.)

    Descartes thought he had solved the problem by reaching the point where he was conscious of his doubting and thus realized that a doubting of doubt produces the ultimate contradiction. Doubt at bottom defeats itself.

    Unfortunately, in the process of getting to that point in his meditations, he stripped himself of everything that would allow him as a human being to be able to claim it was he who was doubting the doubt.

    The primal hole he dug was not fillable by his positing the existence of a god that made consciousness possible. This approach meant that Descartes was constructing god out of his own prior experience and thus Descartes was creating god out of nothing.

    His famous words that sum up his starting point “I think; therefore, I am” got the reality backwards. You and I exist. What we are are beings of the human kind. Because we are human beings, therefore we think, argue, love and laugh.

    Why we are and who we are are questions that first admit that we are. We discover who we are by learning why we are. The process involved requires us to take not only the step of working with conceptual constructs of who we are, but requires us to take the second step and return who we are into the hierarchy of truths concerning what and why we are.

    You write: “Christ has human form. For you and for me. His greatness is unquestionable. But what does it mean to me? What does he mean to you? What is that with which we can identify him. What resonates internally? My consciousness! Its the most precious and highest gift in me. And so I equate Christ with that. There may be something beyond that, more precious and perfect, but I can’t experience it. Further, he is not just my consciousness, he is the world consciousness. That is not all he is, but that aspect of him is what is most meaningful to me.”

    I respond: Jesus, the human God, and Second Person of the Trinity, was and is truly human. But he was and is truly God as well. That’s where I am coming from.

    Unpacking what that means for me is difficult, no doubt. How it is so is a mystery that will become more and more revealed and disclosed when we are in Heaven.

    Meanwhile, until Jesus reveals himself to you in a more personal way, you say you experience him in an internal resonation that you call your consciousness. That is your equation, your equivalence of valuable feelings.

    Given your description of how you experience me, as set out above, my sense is that you have been working with a constellation of images of Christ, like you have with your images of me. This is certainly headed in the right direction, but again, it is only half of the process of getting to know Jesus.

    Getting past what you mean by Christ and getting to know the live person named Jesus is the second half of the process.

    In my dealings with Christ as a concept and as part of my religion, Christ is not the world consciousness. That articulation is aligned with the gnostic understanding offered by Jung. Since your starting point seems to be as a follower of Jung and not as a follower of Jesus, such a difference is understandable. Is the difference bridgeable? I would hope so. How?

    Just like on LinkedIn, I may be able to introduce you to Jesus, but I cannot link you to him. Likewise, Jesus may want to link to you, but you can reject him, or ignore the offer whenever it is made.

    Knowing Jesus the way I do, I see no reason for him not to want to link to you. When you decide to ask, which would be entirely consistent with your claimed aspirations, then the constellation of resonating constructs in your internal life I have reason to hope will be fulfilled, though they may be different than you expect.

    You will encounter Jesus personally and your life will change in ways unimaginable now from your perspective.

    All for now, my friend.

    John

    1. [In my dealings with Christ as a concept and as part of my religion, Christ is not the world consciousness. That articulation is aligned with the gnostic understanding offered by Jung. Since your starting point seems to be as a follower of Jung and not as a follower of Jesus, such a difference is understandable. Is the difference bridgeable? I would hope so. How?]

      The difference is bridgeable if you allow for the possibility that multiple perspectives may flourish together. If we see a house from the front, it looks different. The left view looks totally different from the right view which not like the front view. A bird’s eye view is completely different, and a worm hidden under the house would have a different perspective (if he could see the house completely). Its the same house, and no one view does justice to the absolute reality of the house. That is the reason why one needs eternity to understand this, different facets of the relation unfold over time, and one is taken in by the beauty of it all. One view does not preclude the other in my humble opinion, it is not a mutually exclusive relationship. What I take away is as important and moving to me as what you take away is to you. Its just important in a different way, and I can experience that it is as moving to you too. It would be phenomenal if you could experience that emotion that I feel….there would be MORE (not less) to love…….
      [With each exchange we become closer and , at the same time, our differences become more apparent. But notice that I do not say problematic. So let me take up some of your words and respond again.]

      Will respond later in the evening but Dylan came to mind in the here and now…

      “We always did feel the same,: We just saw it from a different point of view” (Dylan, Tangled Up In Blue)

  2. How significant is the point raised by Srikanth’s question! If the source of the conflict comes from within and the body-mind is assumed to be unified, then the answer will follow. But if, though the body-mind is assumed ti be unified, the source of the conflict comes from outside the resolution may not follow. The locus of the source of the problem must be taken into account from the get-go.

    Srikanth’s playing the Devil’s Advocate also shows how doubt is introduced into the struggle to pursue the truth. It is commonly said the devil is in the details. But here we have the Devil’s Advocate coming at us from outside our inner conflict, raising an outer one.

    So let me play the Archangel Michael’s Advocate and ask the more important underlying question to help lead us further toward the truth of the matter. Do you want to first place your faith in doubt and its processes or do you want to admit at the outset that your faith in something or someone comes first and your efforts to explain the ensuing mystery comes subsequently?

    1. Hi John,

      [But if, though the body-mind is assumed to be unified, the source of the conflict comes from outside the resolution may not follow. The locus of the source of the problem must be taken into account from the get-go.]

      What is there outside of human body or cognition? And can we ever really know that there is anything at all? Everything out-there is only understandeable to the extent that it is experienced within, and leaves a mark on our psyche. If there are ghosts and spirits, we don’t experience them, and so we don’t take them into account. To the extent we experience them, we take them into account. So perhaps the question is – do we have varying capacities for experiences, and is that why and where human communication fails – because one monolithic universe is attempting to understand another monolithic universe, with different laws of…well…physics, for example. Or different languages of experience.

      I am not denying that there is no Heaven. All I am saying is that to the extent that I can experience certain characteristics of my soul, only to that extent can I understand what Heaven would be like. To the extent that I can imagine the perfection of human spirit, to that extent can I understand God’s perfection. To a starved person, concept of Heaven includes unlimited supply of food. To a woman who has been repeatedly raped in life, Heaven would a place safe from rape. To someone like me who comes into contact with psychological distress on a daily basis, Heaven represents first and foremost a place where mental distress does not exist. Do you see what I mean? So one can *dream* of these characteristics of Heaven because these are strivings within. Whether those impulses, those dreams are internally generated, or bestowed by the divine – what difference would it make either way? And is there really a difference if we believe we are carved from the psyche of God, in the image of God?

      Understanding psychology, and deeper recesses of the human mind has allowed me to experience (not just understand) the expression “as it is above, so below, as without, so within” There seems to be no separation, or difference whether we study the psyche, or God or nature….they’re merely different names for that unknown, and unknowable, but that which is deeply revered. Jesus lives as the highest aspiration of human soul, for who amongst us would not wish to be God’s child? So in addition to all he is in the external world, I experience him most profoundly, first and foremost, as that striving within myself, the striving for self sacrifice, for humility, humanity, compassion, consciousness, change, blessing, love, tolerance etc etc. That isn’t faith to me, that is experiential, in the moment experience of Jesus. Faith would be belief in something that is left behind in the past. These strivings are ongoing….and hence the divine lives within at all times…

      Religious faith creates a grounding for some. Faith in reason creates grounding for some others. Faith in the totality of the psyche is just another stake in the ground that creates a point of beginning for few. These are all reference points, that are ultimately black boxes, benchmarks that fix one end of the relational continuum, and allow us to explore along that continuum. Each one of us explores this ONE black box. Fixing a beginning seems to be a requirement of humanity (we’re still trying to explore the big bang!) but perhaps beginning are overrated. Before Jesus there was Yehwah, and Jesus brought a shift in consciousness, thru incarnation we now had a more beneficent, more benign, more humane God. How we look at this phenomenon varies, but the impact of the birth of Jesus, regardless of the perspective one holds, is identical. No one is left unmoved.

      In a metaphorical way, I can say we all have spent this summer differently, but suffice to say that there has been no one on earth who has not been touched by the summer that now comes to a close. What one chooses to remember of this summer, and how one perceives the summer, is really a matter of semantics. The true lived experience of the summer lives on within the psyche, in the unconscious of the world, for all times to come.

      Ultimately, all these reference points, including reason, are alive, dynamic, and yet all are objects of faith…no? Reason too starts from faith in the reasonableness of reason….else Descarte’s quests in his Meditations wouldn’t have failed so miserably.

      I may be mistaken, but I do not see a major divide between your viewpoint and mine. But I know you struggle to comprehend/understand this…

      With love.

      M.

      http://www.madhusameer.com

      1. Dear Madhu,

        You have written a lot, as I did before. Perhaps now we can take smaller bites.

        So you say first: “What is there outside of human body or cognition? And can we ever really know that there is anything at all? ”

        I respond: I am outside Madhu’s body. Please admit that much. Second, the act of knowing me (cognition), while going on in your mind cannot rest there. Please admit that I am more than your cognition of me, as I do you and my cognition of you. Third, your second question presents the epistemological doubt, most profoundly exhibited by philosophical solipsists.

        So let me briefly disclose my approach to epistemological concerns. To explain the process of how we know entities outside of ourselves (persons, things, or other beings), Thomas Aquinas had recourse neither to the transcendental ideas of Platonism, (nor the innate ideas of Descartes in his modern philosophy), nor to illuminations of saints.

        He effectively argues for a cognitive faculty in people that is naturally capable of acquiring knowledge of entities in proportion to that cognitive faculty. Knowledge is obtained through two stages of operation, sensitive and intellective, that are intimately related to one another. You seem to agree when you write “outside of human body or cognition.”

        The proper object of the sensitive faculty is the particular entity, i.e., the individual. The proper object of the intellect is the universal. But the intellect does not attain any universal unless the material for it is presented to it by the senses. Before we know the universal human being we sense one other than ourselves, unless we are solipsists. (By the way, how can there be more than one solipsist?)

        The two cognitive faculties, sense and intellect, are naturally capable of acquiring knowledge for subsequent understanding of their proper object, since both have such potential — the senses, toward the individual form; and the intellect, toward the form of the universal.

        Obtaining the universal presupposes that the sensible knowledge of the object which lies outside the knower comes through the impression of the form of the object upon the knower’s sensitive faculty. This is likened to the impression of the seal upon wax.

        The knower’s soul, psyche if you want, reacts according to its nature, that is, psychically, producing knowledge of that particular object whose form had been impressed upon the senses.

        Thus the faculty which was in potential is actuated in relation to that object, and knows and expresses within itself knowledge of that particular object.

        But how is the passage made within the knower from sensitive cognition to that which is intellective?

        To understand Thomas’ solution to the problem, it is necessary to recall the theory of Aristotle that Thomas works with: the individual form is universal in potential.

        It is the matter which makes the form individual. Hence if the form can be liberated from the individualizing matter, or dematerialized, it assumes the character of universality.

        This is just what happens THROUGH the action of a special power of the intellect, i.e., the power by which the PHANTASM (sense image) is illuminated.

        The phantasm is made by our senses when we see, hear, touch, taste, smell. Under the influence of the phantasm, the form loses its materiality in the knower. It becomes an essence or intelligible species. Thomas calls this faculty the “agent intellect”.

        (For Thomas the agent intellect is not, as the Averroists erroneously held, a separate intellect which is common to all people. Rather, all people possess the agent intellect, but to varying potentials.)

        The intelligible species is then received by the agent intellect, being passive since it receives its proper object, and become intelligible in act. When it does, the knower acquires the knowledge sought.

        The form, both intelligible and individual, is not THAT WHICH the mind grasps or understands (this would reduce knowledge to mere phenomenalism), but the form is the means THROUGH WHICH the mind begins to know the object (individual form) so the knower can begin to understand the mysterious essence of the person, thing, or other entity outside of the knower’s own self.

        The more the knower knows the entity, the more mysterious is the object. This is so because the knower realizes the object (person, thing, or other entity) is not created by the knower, but is only encountered by the knower on physical and metaphysical levels in this process.

        If people adopt this starting point in any discussion of HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT, the results become commonsensical and lead to less controversy.

        Having said this, in the end I do not think the problem of epistemological processes determines the outcome of misunderstandings. As I have indicated previously, the prior issue to be decided is whether you or I want to put our faith in doubt first or to disclose what we have placed our faith in other than doubt and proceed together to try to understand what we mean when we converse.

        To deny at the outset that you can really know anything at all is to undermine the purpose of sharing knowledge because you have none to share and admit it. Why would you want to do that? I suspect it may have to do with an unwillingness to lose oneself and control in the face of the mystery that is everything and everyone that is not you. But, my dear Madhu, you are a mystery to me and to yourself. Using my epistemological process which I think is yours as well, because we share a common humanity, we can make progress, but only when you want to. You, and not me, have the power to decide your future, for example.

        Those of us fortunate enough to get to know you may decide to love you in friendship at various levels and as a whole person. That does not mean that that love must be reciprocated.

        Rest assured, nonetheless, that my comments are offered with love. You are free to reject them. Only allow me to continue responding until you cry “Uncle,” meaning you have had enough.

      2. Dear Madhu,

        Now on to another part of your previous comment.

        You write: …Whether those impulses, those dreams are internally generated, or bestowed by the divine – what difference would it make either way? And is there really a difference if we believe we are carved from the psyche of God, in the image of God?”

        I respond: Unless your question is rhetorical, and you do not want an answer, I answer: Yes, there is a difference. Were dreams simply generated on an internal basis, they would not be a form of communication with anyone other than ourselves. We might simply shelve our own input for another day. Understanding them as being a language spoken by God, we would be fools not to listen and try to discern their meaning. In the latter case, we would be ignoring the input of the person who loves us more than anyone else, so much so that we are kept in existence.

        You write: “Understanding psychology, and deeper recesses of the human mind has allowed me to experience (not just understand) the expression ‘as it is above, so below, as without, so within.’ ”

        These words, as you know doubt have learned, come from the Hermetic tradition. Jesus spoke similarly in the prayer he taught us: “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven…” Given what I know of you from your disclosures in the past, I have no doubt of your experience of these such rhythms of the heart. Unlike the horizontal plane that mythology helps us survey, these deep experiences allow the knower, and even more so the person of faith, to travel vertically into the realm of God’s kingdom.

        You write: “There seems to be no separation, or difference whether we study the psyche, or God or nature….they’re merely different names for that unknown, and unknowable, but that which is deeply revered.”

        I respond: This is the trap laid out by nominalists and nihilists to catch the unwary. Names do make a difference. Language is not completely arbitrary. Moreover, while the Unknown is named God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit by those Trinitarians among us, the knowledge we have of the Three Persons in One Godhead was not developed by reason. Rather it came to us via God’s revelations to us. The Trinity is not unknowable, rather we continue to discover that what and who is to be known is always beyond our ever increasing desires to know. Just like getting to know Madhu is endless for both Madhu and those of us blessed enough to be her friends, so knowing God is endless. That’s why eternity makes so much sense. We will spend eternity in Heaven getting to know each other more and more, including most prominently God himself.

        Nominalists refuse to be tied down because they insist on their own arbitrary powers. Nihilists do them one better: they make “nothing” into something and beat all non-nihilists with the nothing that has magically become their club, in more ways than one.

        You write: “Jesus lives as the highest aspiration of human soul, for who amongst us would not wish to be God’s child? So in addition to all he is in the external world, I experience him most profoundly, first and foremost, as that striving within myself, the striving for self sacrifice, for humility, humanity, compassion, consciousness, change, blessing, love, tolerance etc etc. That isn’t faith to me, that is experiential, in the moment experience of Jesus.”

        I respond: We human beings are all children of God. That was surely part of the message that Jesus brought up and emphasized numerous times. I do not deny you experience Christ internally. Who could not experience such a phantasm, given the wide exposure of Jesus Christ over the centuries. The attributes and characteristics are indeed part of the philosophy of Jesus. See [http://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-Jesus-Peter-Kreeft/dp/1587316358/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282256938&sr=8-1-spell]

        But unlike the Buddha, for example, Jesus did not say here are the principles, the concepts you need to conduct a good life. He said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” Thus he wants more than contact with our minds or souls. He wants something much deeper. Many have decided to follow him, others do not. By your own admission and criteria of experience, you have not been given faith in Jesus. Why not? Have you asked him for it? What if he gives it to you? What then?

        You write: “Faith would be belief in something that is left behind in the past. These strivings are ongoing….and hence the divine lives within at all times…”

        I respond: On the contrary, the faith I am talking about is, as Paul says, after being knocked off his high horse by his encounter with Jesus: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.”

        There are not many universes colliding with each other, only one. That’s what the word means: uni- verse. While we may experience God living within us, if we make room for him in our souls, the reality I find compelling is that God expressed his essence via Love and thus all the universe is evidence of his Love.

        And the height of his expression, the most like him was his son Jesus. John writes: In the beginning was the Word…” I prefer to think of this in other words: “In the beginning was the Expression…”

        This expression, some of his angels (whom he expressed before human beings) could not tolerate. They did not know the Godhead so intimately. Given the choice to bow down before the human God, Jesus, the devilish angels refused. The war for human souls commenced from that moment forward.

        The inner conflicts which you originally sought to address may be seen, from this analysis, as a struggle that has outside sources for generation. The devils are always looking for ways to tempt us and drive us into thinking that we have no need of God because we, ourselves, are divine enough to be like God. We are gods ourselves as some would believe.

        The mistake that was made by our human parents in their representative capacity for all of the human race, was and is only corrected by the way, truth, and light of Jesus.

        Those of us who have been given the gift of faith live not in pain, physical or psychological. Rather we live IN Christ.

        Please forgive my attempts to explain all of this. Why God has inspired me to write all of it to you in such a public many is somewhat baffling to me. But then, I must rely on my faith in Jesus that I have not misspoken and in doing so led you and others astray.

        Your friend,

        John
        In Christ

      3. Dear John,

        Hmmm……I am begining to think that thrashing this out here is impossible. We’ll run out of space ! So much to think, so much to share…[smile]. It amazes me that to me it appears we’re in agreement on most things, but to you it appears there is disagreement. I tried to contemplate on what causes this and wondered if it was the fact that I think in terms of symbols, and you see everything concretely. I think we’re having the same ole argument that Jung had in his time…he was crushed that the Church saw him as a near heretic whereas he saw himself deeply deeply religious.

        Christ has human form. For you and for me. His greatness is unquestionable. But what does it mean to me? What does he mean to you? What is that with which we can identify him. What resonates internally? My consciousness ! Its the most precious and highest gift in me. And so I equate Christ with that. There may be something beyond that, more precious and perfect, but I can’t experience it. Further, he is not just my consciousness, he is the world consciousness. That is not all he is, but that aspect of him is what is most meaningful to me.

        I’ll start with this….and only tackle points where I feel

        [I am outside Madhu’s body. Please admit that much. Second, the act of knowing me (cognition), while going on in your mind cannot rest there. Please admit that I am more than your cognition of me, as I do you and my cognition of you. Third, your second question presents the epistemological doubt, most profoundly exhibited by philosophical solipsists.]

        Of course you are outside my body. But what you are is meaningless to me. Its the internal representation of you that is within me that is meaningful to me. You have so many aspects. I dont’ know them. I am a bit rustic on John Locke (all of them in fact, its been years!) but you are devoid of any or all properties. Who you are to me, depends on what I see you as. So that seeing is within. That impulse which identifies John D to me, that sense of respect I have for you is not a property of you. It is an property that my psyche ascribes to you. I may not feel that about any other person. Tomorrow I may not feel this way about you. So though you are in yourself an object, what you are to me, is an impulse within me. I can only identify that impulse within me when I see you, or hear from you. That doesn’t mean I am John, nor does it mean I am a writer as great as you are. But there is a striving within me that aspires to write like you, to think like you, and to the extent I can hold that aspirations, I can have an experience of you. You obviously have many other aspects over and above that I know of, but those are hidden/irrelevant and inaccessable to me. This is what I mean when I say we can only feel God to the extent we can feel that impulse within us. That impulse is not God. Nor are we God. The impulse gives us a miniscule understanding of God…just like your writing gives me a small element of understanding of what a little bit of John may be like….

        So far so good? Are we in the ballpark of an agreement at least?

        This is already so long, so I am going to break this and tackle the rest of your first post.

      4. Dear John,

        It is evening, I’ve just had some food, and I felt ambitious enough to handle a little more of this. You must, however, remember not to project nihilism or any other -ism on me (solipsism especially hurts!!!LOL!). I am too sumb and stupid to be that well informed. I only speak from my own experience of this…

        [Just like getting to know Madhu is endless for both Madhu and those of us blessed enough to be her friends, so knowing God is endless.]

        No arguments at all. The issue I have is – I don’t know what happens after I die. So though I am happy to take your word for it, I am still a teeny bit ambivalent because it is still your word after all, and you haven’t really been to Heaven, not that I know of. Does it make sense to you why I would be ambivalent? You’d be ambivalent too if I told you I have a cure for common cold…..entirely possible, but until you experience, you won’t know – right? But I will take it a bit further. I can imagine Heaven, because I can feel that impulse within me. Heaven is what I feel when I hug my kids. It is the most I can come close to perfection. So perhaps that is how Heaven must be – right? Because all my experiences are subservient to that one feeling.

        And so, since that is closest to Heaven I can ever get, then I must work towards making a Heaven here on earth. I must work hard for my children and make sure they’re taken care of., they never lack for anything that is within my ability to provide. I must take responsibility for creating Heaven on Earth. When I die, I may go to Heaven, but that should not stop me from doing my best here on earth. Is this ok?

        If this is ok, we have ventured into Buddha’s mind. It is only in the West that Buddhism is associated with atheism. Buddha was not an atheist. At the time, Hindus would dedicate their life to dreaming about Heaven, and living their life for Heaven. they were forgetting what being a good human being meant. Buddha ‘s teachings were in context to the problems in Hinduism. He turned that escapist attitude around and said that the desire to go to Heaven does not mean that one has to live their life irresponsibly. Life needs to be lived responsibly. Hence the emphasis on the here and now, and mindfulness. He created a method which eliminated suffering, and once that suffering was eliminated, then man was free to choose religion and god. In Indian texts he is quoted to have had several dialogues and conversations with God…which he wouldn’t have had if he had been an atheist. So that misconception the West has about him is just a projection of their own need to be godless. Sankhya philosophy, the most ancient Indian philosophy has atheistic leanings, but thats the reason it was quickly forgotten and overwritten by Advaita Vedanta.

        I have to take a break here. But I hope we can have a meaningful dialogue..

        M.

      5. John,

        [The devils are always looking for ways to tempt us and drive us into thinking that we have no need of God because we, ourselves, are divine enough to be like God. We are gods ourselves as some would believe.]

        This I disagree with. And if Jung was here, he would be aghast. I now believe completely that he was grossly misunderstood by the Church, because I can feel that angst in the part of him that lives thru me.

        he categorically stated, and repeatedly, that the society that loses its Gods, turns mad! I hope when I explained the concept of impulse, you have a better understanding what he meant when he said the divine lives within us. This doesn’t discount existence of God, nor does it compete with God, it merely states that we can only experience that aspect of God that our faculties will allow us to experience. God as a pregnant feminine entity who births the world, for example, cannot be experienced by you. Your God would have a decidedly masculine flavor. My God, no matter I try otherwise, is never going to be cnceptualised as being White Skinned ! That doesn’t necessarily mean God is Indian dark, or Caucasian white, or even he is remotely like a human being. Its difficult to conceptualize God, we are reduced to conjectures.

        In the last analysis, our concept of God is based on our concept of fatherhood (or motherhood). And so no matter how much we try, we cannot see God except thru the sea of projections of our fathers. Let me say this unequivocally – from how you describe your concept of God, you either had the most awesome dad who was very deeply devoted and connected to you. Or you did not have a dad and hence God is seen in the image of the ideal dad that would have been, the idealism being untainted by reality. God may or may not hold that form, but regardless of reality, our conjectures will invariably lead us there. It is a human limitation. Of course I don’t wish for you to answer (I absolutely forbid you to answer) this private aspect of your life in public, but I hope you think about it some.

        My ambivalence, and doubt, has psychological roots in ways that I don’t wish to explore here. These are deterministic aspects of human psyche that just are, and decide the flavors of our belief system. So regardless of who God is,or isn’t, our relationship with God is crafted thru our deterministic lenses. THOSE are subjective, and personal. Hence the concept of a personal relationship with God, the nature of that personal relationship being highly subjective.

        I am sleepy, and so may have rambled off and become incoherent. I will stop here.

        M.

      6. Dearest John,

        I keep finding new points, new things in your posts…please know that if I do not address some, its only because I either agree, or do not have the ability to fathom the depths that you mine.

        So here is some more…

        [The more the knower knows the entity, the more mysterious is the object. This is so because the knower realizes the object (person, thing, or other entity) is not created by the knower, but is only encountered by the knower on physical and metaphysical levels in this process.]

        Yes, and ultimately, its that the thing-in-itself evokes in the knower, that counts in the relationship.

        [in the end I do not think the problem of epistemological processes determines the outcome of misunderstandings]

        In Hinduism, we take human disposition into account before we allow for orientation of religious practice. I find the concept very advanced and intriguing. Jung’s concept of personality types was taken from Hinduism, as was the concept of anima and animus.
        Taking the charactereological aptitude of the person into consideration for religious orientation means if the person is emotional, thinks from the heart, Hinduism will prescribe – or the person will be automatically driven to it – Bhakti Path, a path which is based on faith and devotion. If a person is intellectually oriented, Jnana Path, or the path of epistemological inquiry will lead him to God. A sensate person may find God thru physical means…Tantra is used to connect, and in turn it is used to overcome attachments and desires (yes, it is grossly abused in the West!). And so on……

        [want to put our faith in doubt first or to disclose what we have placed our faith in other than doubt and proceed together to try to understand what we mean when we converse]

        See above. In that frame of reference, I am ontologically oriented, and find it difficult to rely on faith. I don’t doubt per se, but being a celebrated introvert, and being contemplative, inner experiences provide profound openings for me. Perhaps that is what the difference we experience is?

        [To deny at the outset that you can really know anything at all is to undermine the purpose of sharing knowledge because you have none to share and admit it]

        I do have knowledge. But all knowledge is temporal and transient at best. And I am not narcissistic enough to believe that what I know constitutes the Truth. What I *experience* constitutes my truth…that I can accept. And based on that I can grant you YOUR truth. But the universal truth is a concept that is difficult for me to grasp. Not saying it is not a reality, just saying that I am not there yet. Maybe someday I will be, maybe not.

        At one point you talked about the concept of Phantasm. In psychology, we have a concept of phantasy, and imagination. Sartre has done some great work on it – the psychology (or is it philosophy?) of imagination, or some such. It would take too much time and space to explain though…

        More later.

        M.

      7. John,

        I think I addressed most of your points. This one caught my eye…

        [What if he gives it to you? What then?]

        I believe I already have it! And this is it! But if the nature or texture of it changes with time, I will choose to live in that moment…

        And as for your comment:
        [Why God has inspired me to write all of it to you in such a public many is somewhat baffling to me. But then, I must rely on my faith in Jesus that I have not misspoken and in doing so led you and others astray]

        You are doing what comes to you naturally, in the moment. This is your worship. I am truly honored that you chose to have this dialog, and I am deeply moved by the strength of your faith. Please know that which you seem to want to see in me, is within me. It just exists in a different form. I bet our blood types are different, but they serve the same purpose in both. Quite incidently, my blood type is a universal donor…

        With infinite love.

        Madhu.

  3. Dear Madhu,

    The presentation was excellent. It was continous and I kept hooked on to read with attention till the end!

    While appreciating your “synthesis” of psychological and physiological conflicts, I feel like playing a Devil’s advocate by challenging you to prove your hypothesis derived from the furnace of your experience.

    If you posit that, sans inner resolution of one’s conflict psychologically, the physiological body is susceptible to disease like Cancer, then, questioning your thesis, is it possible to cure the very disease if one is strengthened psychologically by resolving these inner conflicts?

    Srikanth

    1. Srikanath,

      Thanx for your kind words. If I understand correctly, you’re asking me to tell you if I have “cured” cancer thru psychological interventions? No I haven’t. And besides, I don’t heal people, the courage to heal comes from within themselves. I am merely a witness/catalyst.

      The point I was making was not so much that cancer can be healed, but that one may have more endurance, and acceptance of the disease if one is rid of the psychological baggage. And a baggage free psyche can create miracles, or at least boost the immune system. And even if cancer does kill in the end, the person will not die feeling helpless, trapped and doomed. Past life would not be seen as a failure. Death is infinitely a more acceptable journey when we have felt fulfilled in our life.

      To answer your question obliquely, I do work with psychosis – which manifests in the form of in venticular irregularity in the brain. In a lot of cases psychological distress in early childhood causes the brain shrinkge, so it isn’t so far out to concieve that when that distress is mitigated, the psyche resumes normal development. How this development is manifest, I don’t know. Whether the ventricles increase to their normal size or not as a consequence of resolution of psychological issues – I have yet to test that in practice……but the patients do appear to do significantly well, which is all that really matters. It is entirely possible that the ventricles increase in size, or that the reduced ventricles develop an increased ability to handle more than their share. Or some other faculty compensates for the size of the ventricles. Nature is pretty resourceful….and there are many ways of bypassing distress. Besides, severe depression also manifests in the form of chemical imbalances in Seritonin, and those imbalances seem to be naturally corrected when psychological issues are resolved.

      When my laptop heats up, the fan works overtime. When the fan cannot mitigate the “distress” the internal machinery starts melting down (yes, I have had this happen to my laptop once when I left it turned on for two days, on top of my woolen blanket.) Eventually, the screen blanks out and computer will not start. The internal “organs” are all too fused for repair. Now if we intervene BEFORE the meltdown, it is theoretically possible to prevent such a shutdown – no? Which was the point I hoped to make.

      M.

      http://www.madhusameer.com

  4. I read your piece on Karmic Justice.

    How to do it justice? We come from such different starting points.

    To me ethics is a secular version of morality, with God taken out so to speak. As a result ethics amounts to conventional behavior. Always good to know where that shore line is, of course. But as we know, in our modern world, the tide is shifting the shores on a daily basis.

    Many will thus look within, as I see you have, and follow the approach of Jung or Buddhism. Both of these approaches share the starting point of the self and the Self. While I understand a great deal about both, I no longer find the starting point of the self to be the key for me.

    The equilibrium or disequilibrium of the inner ear does not account for the obvious sense of morality that conscience provides built in, unless beaten out of you by some form of abuse. In Joseph Ratzinger’s book “Truth and Tolerance” [http://www.amazon.com/Truth-Tolerance-Christian-Belief-Religions/dp/158617035X/ref=sr_1_35?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282232365&sr=8-35], the author addresses the way in which primal experiences at first are mythologized in an effort to reveal the story of the encounter, then explained by reference to mysticism, science or religion.

    Jung’s love of mythology shows that he knows the middle step well. However, the self and the Self are treated mythologically and thus I see Jung’s approach as a myth as well that does not satisfy my understanding of the mystery that is encountered.

    Because of sciences self-imposed limits (only the sensible world is admissible as evidence to work with in more and more complex theories and hypothetical reasoning), I do not see that approach as apprehending the spirit of the truths involved.

    The mystical approach also has failed me for the union discovered is ultimately incommunicable when achieved.

    The path that is left are the various religious approaches to spirituality and life. I found Mortimer Adler’s book “Truth in Religion: The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth” [http://www.amazon.com/Truth-Religion-Plurality-Religions-Unity/dp/0020641400/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282232981&sr=1-9] to provide a very useful analysis of the subject indicated by his title.

    In the process, I have found that the karmic justice that you have referred to is part of an approach that is based on mythologies, rather than the approach of revelations claimed by other approaches. This exposes a fundamental split among religious starting points because of the differing claims.

    In effect, on a personal, practical, day-to-day basis, our common sensical response to those having difficulties is to help them discover the truth of their circumstances.

    Without the alignment of our own experience of truth with theirs, little progress can be made. However, unless our truth is based on something other than convention, our intervention becomes baseless. So the examination and investigation of truth and Truth must continue even for those of us who are perfectly equipped to help others along the way.

    And the curious thing I have finally come to understand that places you and me at such different starting points and thus often unable to communicate in a satisfactory manner is the following statement: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”

    The wisdom of Jesus is profoundly different than the others. With his way being my starting point, the world and its natural wisdom has been turned upside down. Instead of the pregnancy of the natural, depicted most fittingly by your image of Gaia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_(mythology)], I have come to see the seemingly absurd strength of Jesus [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus] all the way to the crucifixion.

    Moreover, I see the reward Jesus received from God the Father for Jesus doing what God wanted him to do: Resurrection.

    I have found N.T. Wright’s book “The Resurrection of the Son of God” [http://www.amazon.com/Resurrection-Christian-Origins-Question-Vol/dp/0800626796/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282234232&sr=1-5″ persuasive beyond any previous account I have read. Rather than reincarnation and its cycles of rebirth, resurrection defeats the most troublesome of all human concerns, death, once and for all.

    We, like the Good Thief [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_thief] now have the firm hope of Heaven. Anthony DeStefano’s book “A Travel Guide to Heaven” [http://www.amazon.com/Travel-Guide-Heaven-Anthony-DeStefano/dp/B003TO6EIQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282234413&sr=1-1] documents the Western world’s longstanding insights into what Heaven is and will be like for those of us who decide to live forever, not in a kingdom of our own making, but in God’s.

    To my mind, Heaven is most likely to be the place where you will encounter your friend again. Your will recognize him in his glorified body.

    Moreover, given your obvious love of him, you will likely meet him in your dreams. But your dreams will not be generated by your psyche in some form of memory, but as God’s way of letting you know that your friend is alive in God, in Heaven.

    Dreams, as I hope I have mentioned to you before, are God’s forgotten language. See Sanford’s book by that title [http://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Forgotten-Language-John-Sanford/dp/006067055X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282234858&sr=1-1] You may like it very much because Sanford takes the Jungian path, though he departs from it in the end.

    Sorry for my extended response, but I could not help myself. You may see this as Karmic Justice in operation. I see it as your piece being the prompt for me to be inspired by my Heavenly Father to reveal my truest feelings and thoughts.

    All for now.

    Your friend,

    John.

    1. Hi John,

      First of all, thanx for taking the time, and providing such a detailed and insightful response. Second of all, you must know that I am a very big fan of yours, and hold tremendous respect for your wisdom. That being so, I will resist all impulses to provide a response immediately, will sit on your words, and my anxieties, and add to this comment after thoughtful contemplation.

    2. Dear John,

      I sat on this a bit, and believe I have a more coherent answer to this part of our discussion.

      [To me ethics is a secular version of morality, with God taken out so to speak. As a result ethics amounts to conventional behavior. Always good to know where that shore line is, of course. But as we know, in our modern world, the tide is shifting the shores on a daily basis. ]

      What came up for me was that morality and ethics is an innate nature of the soul, which also embodies the Truth. And hence, the closer one is to Truth, the closer one feels to morality and ethics.

      This begs the question about the nature of Truth. What *is* Truth really? To me, Truth is the extracted from the nature of one’s relationship with themselves (Jung would say the relationship with the Self), Hinduism would say relationship with Brahman, Buddhists would say relationship with Emptiness or Lack, you’d say relationship with Jesus.

      I see it as one’s relationship with their soul. The experience of that relationship is the experience of Truth. It dovetails into the concept of soul consciousness but that is regardless, a secondary aspect. I have experienced consciousness as the divine. It isn’t my gnostic roots, for Jung and Gnosticism has only been a 2 year affair for me – prior to that I hadn’t even heard of Jung, let alone his relationship with gnosticism. This is my personal experience of the divine, and Jung’s word seemed to stumble into that experience. As did Advaita Vedanta. Why only these two ? I dont’ know. Perhaps I am meant to expand my horizons…..and hence this dialogue. Buddhist work is only helpful if one keeps in mind that his teachings espouse laws of nature, to enable us to live fruitfully and a balanced life in the world. Buddha worked with the materialistic aspect of existence, leaving the argument of divinity and spirituality to others more capable/qualified than him in that area. I experiences Buddhism as a health oriented perspective. Jung started from the same place, but attempted to take that concept a bit further with his forays into the spiritual realm. Whether he succeeded or not…well…I don’t know enough about him yet.

      But continuuing on ethics, and morality – I do think the purity of soul, of consciousness, of god is reflected in the way we conduct our lives. I dont’ work on the spiritual issues in my line of work, but as deterministic problems are resolved in therapy, a return to church, or religion, or spirituality usually unfolds in parallel, ethics and morality becomes an important part of lives….even though I have nothing to do with it. Hence my assertion that the soul struggles to retain its purity, and all deviations from that goal, are environmental, situational blocks that impede and hide our True Self. Lack of ethics and morality is a defense that the psyche creates, to ensure survival. So at any time, the forces of survival are in conflict with the forces of our true essence. Struggle for survival can force humanity to take demonic forms, but the longing for innocence, purity and to remain uncontaminated in life, is profound. This is why I said that battles between god and satan are not only fought outside, but they’re fought within all the time. One can choose to remain conscious of this, or one can ignore it, dissociate from it.

      You say “Heaven is most likely to be the place where you will encounter your friend again. Your will recognize him in his glorified body.”

      Yes, I do believe that we always – may I use the word travel ? – together. We merge back into where we came from, and coexist in the form we originally existed. If you call that journey back Death, and the place that I revert back to as Heaven, I have no qualms with the naming of it as such. Buddhists call it emptiness, Hindus call it Swarg, Moslems call it Jannat, Vedanta refers to it as Brahman. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. The essence of all these is that we go back to where we came from, and remain in the protection of (the how of remaining in that protection is debated, but does it really matter?) that which created us.

      Love.

      M.

      1. Dear Madhu,

        I wrote: “To me ethics is a secular version of morality, with God taken out so to speak. As a result ethics amounts to conventional behavior. Always good to know where that shore line is, of course. But as we know, in our modern world, the tide is shifting the shores on a daily basis.”

        You responded and now I reply to your responses.

        You respond: “What came up for me was that morality and ethics is an innate nature of the soul, which also embodies the Truth. And hence, the closer one is to Truth, the closer one feels to morality and ethics.”

        I reply: Your articulation is similar to the notion of conscience for me. Truth is critcal to the formation of conscience. Deception and especially self-deception corrupts the purity of our innocent conscience. In this sense, all “sins” are lies. However, we must remember that our being able to recognize fallacy means that we (1) can recognize what is true from what is false and (2) that, even in the false, we learn more about what the truth is by leaning what it is not; the false, like evil, does not make sense.

        You respond: “This begs the question about the nature of Truth. What *is* Truth really? To me, Truth is the extracted from the nature of one’s relationship with themselves (Jung would say the relationship with the Self), Hinduism would say relationship with Brahman, Buddhists would say relationship with Emptiness or Lack, you’d say relationship with Jesus.”

        I reply: John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock have written a most beautiful book called “Truth in Aquinas.” I have the paperback edition and would certainly recommend it to you. Here’s a link to the Kindle edition which is less expensive: http://www.amazon.com/Truth-in-Aquinas-ebook/dp/B000P2XHF8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1282333254&sr=8-2. In this book the authors take on the seemingly insurmountable problem taking form in the question “What is truth?” While there are numerous philosophical theories and various religious approaches as you suggest, the authors take the subject on with a startling re-reading of Aquinas. Given what you have described of your own journey, I would see you resonating with this new approach very deeply. This is so because they do not rest with the notion of truth being confined to the epistemological process of inner imaginations corresponding with outer realities (various versions of the correspondence theory). They present a tour de force argument for our senses being used to instruct our understanding.

        And the most important of our senses they understand from Aquinas is our sense of taste. We have a desire to taste the truth. (This is why the Eucharist is so important and significant to Catholics. We taste God when we consume the Body and Blood of Jesus.) I sense that this is what you mean by wanting to experience things for yourself. The consequences of this desire are profound in the extreme. More about this another time perhaps.

        You respond: “I see it [truth] as one’s relationship with their soul. The experience of that relationship is the experience of Truth. It dovetails into the concept of soul consciousness but that is regardless, a secondary aspect. I have experienced consciousness as the divine. It isn’t my gnostic roots, for Jung and Gnosticism has only been a 2 year affair for me – prior to that I hadn’t even heard of Jung, let alone his relationship with gnosticism. This is my personal experience of the divine, and Jung’s word seemed to stumble into that experience. As did Advaita Vedanta. Why only these two ? I dont’ know. Perhaps I am meant to expand my horizons…..and hence this dialogue.”

        I reply: Without revelation from God, I would think everyone would be gnostic in some way. My study of Jung and Vedanta showed me many of the reasons for the understable connection. But with God’s revelations as one’s starting point, one can gradually see how gnosticism and those philosophies and theologies that are based upon knowledge alone miss the mark of truth. (Jung’s approach is far less dangerous in some ways than Vedanta, though I find both as ways to open the door to self-induced schizophrenia.)

        Jesus alone of the major religious figures made the claim: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Cynical Pilate responds with the quip: “What is truth?” The divide is almost a chasm, an abyss. But the fallacy of truth being absolutely relative is obvious on its face.

        You respond: “Buddhist work is only helpful if one keeps in mind that his teachings espouse laws of nature, to enable us to live fruitfully and a balanced life in the world. Buddha worked with the materialistic aspect of existence, leaving the argument of divinity and spirituality to others more capable/qualified than him in that area. I experiences Buddhism as a health oriented perspective. Jung started from the same place, but attempted to take that concept a bit further with his forays into the spiritual realm. Whether he succeeded or not…well…I don’t know enough about him yet.”

        I reply: While Buddhist philosophy continues to promote Siddhartha’s ideas and principles, he did not make the claim Jesus did. Siddhartha’s approach is based on knowing, enlightenment, but not revelation. Why did God not reveal himself to Siddhartha? I don’t know. Perhaps he did and Siddhartha rejected him, given the panoply or striking array of gods available in the Hindu religion.

        The reason I see Buddhism as not being healthy in the end is that rather than experience life fully, one empties one’s self of life fully in an effort to avoid the pain of life brought on by desire. Jesus on the other hand did everything his Heavenly Father desired him to do, including death via crucifixion, and was rewarded with Resurrection.

        You respond: “But continuing on ethics, and morality – I do think the purity of soul, of consciousness, of god is reflected in the way we conduct our lives. I dont’ work on the spiritual issues in my line of work, but as deterministic problems are resolved in therapy, a return to church, or religion, or spirituality usually unfolds in parallel, ethics and morality becomes an important part of lives….even though I have nothing to do with it.

        I respond: Jung, I believe, was a determinist. This goes hand in hand with his medical training and the materialistic point of view science places on everything. The spiritual view leaves things indeterminant. Free will is availble. Problems of ethics and morality only arise when we are free. Otherwise, it is all predetermined, so to speak.

        This is consistent with the horizontal, mythological explanations of the world and why I think Jung was so fascinated with the way the various cultures have so many similar myths.

        Once one gets past the horizontal and really engages or, should I better say, tastes the vertical dimension of the spiritual life, a different set of problems arise. And here is where you run smack dabb into the expression: “If God is dead, everything is permissable.” Jung realized this on the horizontal plane, but I do not see him giving himself over fully to the God of revelation, and especially not to Jesus as God’s true Son.

        You respond: “… the soul struggles to retain its purity, and all deviations from that goal, are environmental, situational blocks that impede and hide our True Self. Lack of ethics and morality is a defense that the psyche creates, to ensure survival. So at any time, the forces of survival are in conflict with the forces of our true essence. Struggle for survival can force humanity to take demonic forms, but the longing for innocence, purity and to remain uncontaminated in life, is profound. This is why I said that battles between god and satan are not only fought outside, but they’re fought within all the time. One can choose to remain conscious of this, or one can ignore it, dissociate from it.”

        I reply: Here is where we deal with the notion of Original Sin and humanity’s fall. The struggle you speak of is on the horizontal plane and ignores that the problem is really on the vertical, spiritual plane.

        True we may have problems within our psyche, but the biggest is not recognizing how we have been damaged by the Original Sin of our representative parents at the beginning. That sin opened up all sorts of consequences that endangered humankind’s purity until God’s Son, Jesus came to be with us and show us the way.

        Gnostics like to think that God and Satan are evenly equipped on the battlefield, whether outside or inside. But Christians know the battle has been finally won by Jesus. It’s just that the news has not gotten around to everyone yet.

        You respond: “You say ‘Heaven is most likely to be the place where you will encounter your friend again. Your will recognize him in his glorified body.’ Yes, I do believe that we always – may I use the word travel? – together. We merge back into where we came from, and coexist in the form we originally existed. If you call that journey back Death, and the place that I revert back to as Heaven, I have no qualms with the naming of it as such. Buddhists call it emptiness, Hindus call it Swarg, Moslems call it Jannat, Vedanta refers to it as Brahman. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. The essence of all these is that we go back to where we came from, and remain in the protection of (the how of remaining in that protection is debated, but does it really matter?) that which created us.”

        I reply: Your suggestion that all of these different names refer to the same thing is not accurate. I disagree that we will all merge back into where we came from. God creates out of nothing; we do not return to nothing. This too differentiates the various theorlogies and philospohies. The Heaven of the Abrahamic religions is not the same as the others. Having been created as individual persons, we are resurrected to live in God’s Kingdom or in one of our own making. That will be our final issue — where to live for eternity — and our final decision.

        See DeStefano’s book “A Travel Guide to Heaven” to read about the outrageous joy that awaits us.

        Kierkegaard wrote in his book “Sickness Unto Death” that to avoid the ultimate despair that is the sickness unto death, we must ground ourselves transparently in the Power that constitutes us. This similar to your expression. It is an existential statement availble now and not just when we are faced with the decision. The process of discerning who, not what, is the Power that constitutes us thus becomes the ultimate quest, the desire woven deeply into our very being. The desire to know, love, and serve God is part of our DNA. But because we inherit as a species the original mistake of our kind’s first parents, the only way to rid ourselves of the despair you must encounter daily with your patients does require your spiritual journey to continue. If not, the tug of nothingness from which we all came will gradually overwhelm those who are unprepared or who, unlike yourself, do not aspire to be loved fully by the God who loves you most.

        Love to you as well, my friend

        John

    3. Dearest John,

      I feel string enough to tackle this today:

      [I have finally come to understand that places you and me at such different starting points and thus often unable to communicate in a satisfactory manner is the following statement: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”

      The wisdom of Jesus is profoundly different than the others. With his way being my starting point, the world and its natural wisdom has been turned upside down.]

      Jesus, and everyone else for that matter, talks on different levels to all of us. A child will understand these words differently, an adolescent will understand them differently, an adult differently, someone beyond 50 with deep experiences of life, totally differently. Our brains change over our lifetime, and acquire deeper understanding of words, such understanding being crafted out of life’s experiences. So what I get from the words, and you get from the words depends on where we are, and what we are. My gender, background, life experiences color my understanding, as they do yours.

      So here is MY understanding of the quote. I read this part, and as usual it deeply moved me to the extent that my eyes became moist. It is the essence of my being, it is something I absolutely believe in. “Whoever wishes to save their life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life”.

      As I closed my eyes to experience the impulse within, I was accosted by the image of my children. Without disclosing anything deeply personal, I just wish to state that I sacrifice my life for the wellbeing of my children. There is a constant struggle between the needs of the self, and the needs of the children. And the ethics and morality will not allow me to deviate from my obligations…it is, as I said, a slippery slope. So what meaning did Christ’s words have on me? It drew a small parallel – very small – that allowed me to have an experience of him. In some ways I understood a tiny aspect of him, and his struggles, and realised, in that moment of insight, that he had created a role model that lives in world consciousness, in ways that we never consciously realize. Until this moment, I hadn’t realized how his existence had affected this aspect of my life, but it has. What would my life’s achievements be worth if that which I birthed was not protected to the best of my ability? In dissolving my ego, my selfishness and my self for the benefit of my children, I find myself, and emerge stronger for it. My gospel currently is my motherhood, and the values that it spouses. These words provide a shift of consciousness in my psyche. Does the concept of Christ as world consciousness make more sense now? I take in the essence, as his words mean different things to me, than they do to you. I understand the message, but in a symbolic form, whereas you live it in the literal way. And I also realize that by serving my children to the best of my abilities, I am serving God in the same way Christ served God. With this thinking here, we also walk into the mind of Buddha – who emphasized personal responsibility and personal freedom need not be mutually exclusive, they can be harmonized. We also dovetail into Hinduism which emphasizes that Grahastha Ashram, (the lifestage where one has family and family takes precedence over everything else) embodies a religious attitude towards life. So we see that all roads are leading home!!!

      I can ignore this impulse within me, and focus on external, which is not wrong per se. But I find him within, in these daily acts of mine, and realise how I have been altered without knowing. And to the extent I understand these impulses within, and how they are enabled, and how I am unconsciously moved, I dont’ have to read books and texts, I have the practical experience of it all. His Truth becomes mine thru experience. An external guide can help, but when I am connected to the texture of the same consciousness as his – one that is aligned to Truth and Ethics, and Morality – I have an inner guide…no? This inner guide is Jung’s Higher Self. I dont have a constant experience of it, but in moments like these, I know I am held, and contained, by the same consciousness that is timeless…it is the face of god for me.

      Does that bridge the gap a little more (apart from the semantics of it all?)

      One thought that came to my mind was about the nature of time. Western world conceptualizes time as a linear entity. In Hinduism, time is cyclical, circular. So patterns, events are not something that happen in the past and are forgotten, they are constantly repeated. Christianity bypasses the linearity thru concept of Heaven – where we meet again, and will be together again. In my mind I believe that events repeat constantly, just that the environment is changed ever so slightly, and so we do not recognize the repetition. Christ’s struggle is the struggle of humanity. It is cyclical, and every person repeats it on an ongoing basis. The resolution of that struggle is an example of how life should be lives. And when I read your quote, and closed my eyes a while ago, I was made aware of this comparasion….it was as if I was being asked…”what have YOU done for YOUR children?”…it must have been the same question that must have passed thru Christ’s mind also…..and I could choose to answer that question, and change my life if there was any anomaly, to fit the innate instinct of motherhood to lead a life of Truth. Or if I wasn’t fulfilling my ethical obligation, I could choose to defend against this question and banish it into the dungeons of the unconscious…where it would wreck havoc. In the external world, the CPS would then ask me this question, or the kids, when they got older, would ask “what did you do for us?”. You’d say when I died, God would ask me this question. So what is internal an internal quest, and striving for “right”, would become externalized if I did not pay attention to it. What is within, is without. What is above, is below.

      Love.

      M.

      1. We move closer and closer with each exchange. God loves us more than we love our children. Can you imagine that? Hard, I agree. But true. God comes after us with love all the time. He is the Great Lover. In the Old Testament, the Song of Songs sang of this love God has for us. And with the coming birth of Jesus, his mother Mary sang out:

        “My soul doth magnify the Lord.
        And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
        Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
        for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
        Because he that is mighty,
        hath done great things to me;
        and holy is his name.
        And his mercy is from generation unto generations,
        to them that fear him.
        He hath shewed might in his arm:
        he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
        He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
        and hath exalted the humble.
        He hath filled the hungry with good things;
        and the rich he hath sent empty away.
        He hath received Israel his servant,
        being mindful of his mercy:
        As he spoke to our fathers,
        to Abraham and to his seed for ever.”

        For Catholics, Mary is the human being who first understood what God was going to do with and through her. Her “Yes” is mine. And in that sense, we are all called on to share the experience of being impregnated with the Son of God, not in a literal way, but in a most intimate way. It is the way you seek, I believe.

        But remember of course that even Mary had to watch, surely feeling helpless, as her one and only son, Jesus, was tried, condemned, rejected, and crucified. The pain must have been excruciating. We cannot, but Jesus can, save our children from the spiritual despair that runs rampant throughout the world, especially during these times of economic turmoil.

        We pray together in our own ways, in our own traditions, but remembering Jesus’ words: “…Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven.”

        John

        1. Dearest John,

          I am glad that we’re able to understand and move closer in that understanding of our positions – without crying uncle!!! I hope you have at least a little more acceptance of the universality of various schools of thought and how, even though they’re not based on your experiences of reality, how they may experience the same things, same emotions, same consciousness….but attach a different label, a different – more subjective – meaning. To me, thats just the inability to comprehend reality, and to overcome duality. And I am not equating Buddha with Christ, he never claimed to be divine – I’m just pointing to the essence of their respective being – even if we assume/accept a hierarchy.

          You see, Christianity was created 300 years after Jesus Christ (if I am right?). Just like Buddha’s teachings became organized 400 years after Buddha. Hinduism, of course flows thru the eons and has adapted and morphed like a river that starts at the snow capped mountains and travels and travels and travels thru the plains….. Although now it is organized and claimed, at the time, the persons, and the consciousness of Christ, and Buddha too, belonged to all humanity, regardless of their religious affliations…no one could have remained unmoved. And even though now these are bottled up and copyrighted by various religions and such, in the cosmos, in the primordial soup of world consciousness, the essence of these great consciousnesses, lingers beyond time and space and ownership….the consciousness that they created flows unrestricted, it is universal…it cannot be owned, They cannot be owned and they belong to everyone. Just like the air, and wind, and breeze that flows thru US, does not belong to US. The sun that shines on US does not belong to US. It belongs to the entire humanity. How one person chooses to use up that sunlight may be different from how another person chooses to use sunlight……

          It is here, in this last part, that we may see it differently. But its merely that we see it differently. I still think our experience of it is more unified, and similar. What is remarkable to me is that even though in different geographical worlds, the two existed only 500 years apart……

          I agree with your ending….and would like to quote an almost identical piece from Bhagvad Gita, the Holy Bible for the Hindus, which does a terrific work on symbolism, and is a treatise on constructivism.

          yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata
          abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham

          “Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion–at that time I descend Myself.”

          This work is a part of a series of texts that also includes the message “Tattwamasi.” Translated, it means “Thou Art That”…which is what Jung also indicated (he was deeply influenced by the East), and that which we have been discussing in a different way – the concept of an impulse within. Tattwanasi doesn’t mean to inculcate a narcissistic belief “You are God,”……but that the creator, and the creation, lives within you (me!), and thru you (me!). It is the assurance that despite all our debilitating experiences and siffering, the creator, and the creation, will never forsake us. It simply cannot, because creation, and creator, is deeply intertwined with our existence. The message merely allows us to believe in, and will, our own potential…to strive for the heavens….

          Apart from the minor divisions, which to me are merely semantic (although I accept they represent serious differences to you!), don’t you see the wonder of it all? The message from the creator is the pretty much in the ballpark….everywhere…..

          With infinite love.

          M.

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