narcissistic wounding + transference

Some starting questions from the conversation with David:

  • narcissistic wounding
    ~ what is it?
    ~ how to defend oneself against it?
    ~ is it related to transference?
  • transference
    ~ what is it?
    ~ how to defend oneself against it?

I’ve heard about transference before, and although I don’t understand it exactly yet, it fascinates me and I have some ideas about.

This, for example, from Wikipedia, doesn’t make any sense to me:

Transference is a theoretical phenomenon characterized by unconscious redirection of the feelings a person has about a second person to feelings the first person has about a third person. [*goes cross-eyed*] It usually concerns feelings from an important second-person relationship from childhood, and is sometimes considered inappropriate. Transference was first described by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, who considered it an important part of treatment in psychoanalysis.

Okay, this helps, from GoodTherapy.org:

Transference is a psychological phenomenon in which an individual redirects emotions and feelings, often unconsciously, from one person to another. This process may occur in therapy, when a person receiving treatment applies feelings toward—or expectations of—another person onto the therapist and then begins to interact with the therapist as if the therapist were the other individual. Often, the patterns seen in transference will be representative of a relationship from childhood.

This makes me think of all the lovers I’ve had who secretly wanted me to be their father, and all the lovers I’ve secretly wanted to mother me, to love me in ways I hadn’t yet learned to love myself. Maybe this is transference ~ I always thought it was more like projection, but maybe these are synonyms. I haven’t fully grasped projection yet either :/

This definition helps:

in psychiatry, the unconscious tendency of a patient to assign to others in the present environment feelings and attitudes associated with significant persons in one’s earlier life; especially, the patient’s transfer to the therapist of feelings and attitudes associated with a parent or similar person from childhood. The feelings may be affectionate (positive transference), hostile (negative transference), or ambivalent. Sometimes the transference can be interpreted to help the patient understand childhood attitudes.

So, a person who was abandoned by their father might expect a male lover to abandon them also? (Or I, who was abandoned by his father, might expect a male mentor to abandon me.) And this fear of adandoment plays out in all sorts of detrimental ways until we see this fear pattern by privileging the unconscious and bringing these fears to light.

I understand this is why I have typically had trouble forming and maintaining male friendships, but that’s changing and I have a lot of exceptional men in my life. I also understand, though, that I have had a tendency to over-share with older men I meet, and I eventually wondered if this was because I want them to know me in ways my dad was never willing to know me. The kind of full-frontal emotional exposure I tend to subject peopel to has frightened a lot of people off, especially barflies, and I imagine it’s the sort of behaviour that would get a bloke arrested in a George Orwell novel.

To my question of whether transference and narcissistic wounding are related, David responded with:

Narcissistic wounding and transference are related in so far as they are both unconscious processes inherent in pedagogical learning. (There is another type called Androgogy, first outlined by Carl Rogers). Rather than resisting either (avoiding) them – we’ll embrace them and make the unconscious conscious.

The word ‘pedagogy’ is one I always forget the meaning of, though it reminds me of the word ‘peripatetic’ because I know it has something to do with ways of teaching and learning. I’d never heard of ‘androgogy’, but I like what it seems to describe after a quick goOgle:

Andragogy refers to methods and principles used in adult education. The word comes from the Greek ἀνδρ- andr-, meaning “man”, and ἀγωγός agogos, meaning “leader of”; it literally means “leader of man”, whereas “pedagogy” literally means “leading children”.

The notion of teaching as a leadership tactic is interesting and illuminating ~ I never felt as though I was being effectively lead by most of my high school teachers, except that I was being lead to believe things they had not really questioned for themselves.

It seems paramount that a good teacher be willing to lead a good student in the process of inquiry, rather than to lead them down the garden path of indoctrination into established beliefs and to then set them ‘free’ as emerging adults into the world, utterly incapable of questioning what they are told.

How-to-Think-About-Weird-Things-coverThe greatest learning experience I encountered in my young adult life was a subject called Argument and Critical Thinking, during my one year of English and Philosophy at Adelaide Uni in 2002. I left after that, for various reasons ~ one being that I felt I had gained enough guidance, from that one subject, to go out into the world and continue thinking for myself. It was very empowering. The textbook was called How to Think about Weird Things, and I always loved the cover.

How this relates to narcissistic wounding, transference, and counter-transference (I’m just riffing here ~ of course, pull me up if I’ve got this utterly arse-about):

as a client might expect a therapist to play the role of their absent father (transference), a therapist might expect the client to behave as a father expects their child to behave, by strictly following their advice (counter-transference);

when a therapist expects this (or makes this expectation explicit), a client might experience narcissistic wounding (it hurts to be told you don’t know what’s good for you), and when a client doesn’t “follow the doctor’s orders”, a therapist might feel narcissitic wounding (because it hurts to have one’s advice discarded, especially if you genuinely care about someone).

How this relates to education:

in our dominant educational model, teachers are frequently offering advice about what to believe (rather than teaching a student how to arrive at their own beliefs and how to discard them as new evidence emerges);

this is hurtful to any individual who feels they are able to think for themselves ~ perhaps this is how mainstream education quashes creativity;

there is apparently a five-year attrition rate among teachers in this system ~ it is presumably hurtful to dispense advice to classfuls of unruly students (who are unruly because they are being preached to rather than educated).

How this relates to therapy:

a good therapeutic environment should be an educational experience, in the true (Aristotelian?) sense of the word ‘education’ ~ a truly good therapist should be educating an individual about self-regulating their own wellbeing, lest the individual become dependent upon the therapist for fixing their problems;

a good therapeutic environment should be andragogical in the sense that it leads or enables an individual to become their own, whole, fully integrated, adult human being.

How this relates to my own experience:

throughout my school career (before university) I was something like a good-bad student ~ I cared about learning, but I guess I was deeply reluctant about being told what to think, so I fell in with the ‘wrong’ crowd, skived a lot, and occasionaly derided my teachers for being idiots, but instead of just going down the creek to smoke bongs, I went down the creek to smoke bongs and read books;

I was an avid reader from the moment I learned how to read, and I maintain to this day that I learned more (of positive value) from gorging on books that I ever learned from my teachers;

I see now that perhaps I experienced a kind of narcissistic wounding by having my individual creativity and intelligence disregarded by the public school system (and also in 50 per cent of my home environment), so perhaps it was this pain that I was trying to self-medicate against by developing a massive marijuana habit;

I did not want to be dependent upon fools for what was being passed off as education, so I became a stoner-autodidact;

one of my earliest memories of using marijuana is from a time I was high in my cousin’s tinny on the Murray River ~ I remember reporting, to one my primary-school peers, how wonderful it was that my thought processes changed and I was able to think of things I had never before imagined;

years later, while at Adelaide Uni, one of my favourite pastimes was to take my uni readings to the River Torrens and get high while I read them;

George Carlin has a great sketch about how this might be a positive method initially, but once we develop a tolerance for such a substance we begin chasing the dragon and, before long, the sacred herb becomes a drug of dependence and leads to all sorts of negative consequences (I thought it was a sketch, but what I found on goOgle was this interview;

it’s the autodidact part of ‘stoner-autodidact’ that is more relevant (and I’ve started to discuss my experience of addiction elsewhere, so I’ll leave that aside for now);

I became an autodidact because, despite (or perhaps because of) the hopefully unconscious attempts of others to discount my intelligence and creativity, I believed in myself (and I had enough people in my life who also believed in me);

for this reason I consider myself to be a survivor of the industrial education system, but not everyone yet has access to the internal resources required to resist the indoctrination so omnipresent in the mainstream school systems of the neoliberal Western world.

How this might relate to my experience as an emerging therapist:

if we can enable and empower clients to access their internal resources (their own inner wisdom), we can help individuals to emerge in the world as self-reliant masters of their own destiny;

my limited understanding of narcissism comes from what I learned in Classics during that time at Adelaide Uni ~ Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection and died from hunger and dehydration (from ego-attachment leading to the self-neglect of his basic needs);

basic needs (as well as food, water, shelter, clothing, breathing and sex), include learning how to maintain a healthy degree of self-love ~ instead we are taught (in the industrial education system) how to martyr ourselves for the economy, and this feels something like anti-narcissism, which might explain why there are so many narcissists in positions of power (we have been dragged away from our self-reflection and taught to serve the state, in a way that is couched in terms of self-interest … which is all very confusing and convoluted and seemingly counter-intuitive);

by pursuing and offering truly good therapy we might hope to, in the words made famous by Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”,

emancipate [y]ourselves from mental slavery,
none but ourselves can free our minds.

0273ccf75b2bcd0738087f644b67d4cb
via Marcus Garvey

 

mentorship + conversation

As part of my journey into integrative psychotherapy (the entheotropic or holosophic adventure), I contacted a man called David, a friend of a friend I met through Buddhism. I asked him to be my mentor (because I thought he was a practising therapist), and we have started a conversation that has already gone, for me at least, next-level, transcendental.

(In our first conversation we talked about how he’s not a practising therapist, which launched us into the question of whether it is even actually beneficial to work with clients as therapists, especially if there is a power-dynamic established by one being paid by the other ~ we talked about narcissistic wounding and transference.)

We are going to explore our conversation publically, here at Entheotropia.

This question about the efficacy of therapists ~ it’s a fascinating one, and very good ground for a mentor–protege relationship such as this, because it’s important that I think about why I’m doing the Bachelor and what I hope to emerge as once I’m finished.

I’m really not sure whether I want to emerge as a therapist. I’m doing this first and foremost to learn about and integrate my own experience with mental ‘illness’ and spiritual emergency. It’s far too early for me to say with any conviction that I do or don’t want to emerge as a therapist.

The other day when I was invited to a Chakradance class by Giselle, I was just about to lay down for a pranayama session and the whole session was riddled with thoughts about something I later wrote down as Prana+Pulse … people laying in a room, blindfolded, specific-frequency music, and a series of guided pranayama exercises to balance the life essence … or to engage/disengage the parasympathetic/sympathetic nervous system, whichever might be required … that’s the kind of thing I imagine doing, along with writing about the whole thing and sharing the knowledge.

I’m interested in sitting down one-on-one with clients (I play that role frequently in my relationships already), but I’m not sure it’s the most efficient or even the most effective way of helping people ~ I imagine referring clients to such things as Chakradance or Prana+Pulse, or helping them to access the community services (such as housing support) they need to establish the baseline of Maslow’s hierarchy, but I certainly don’t imagine solving anyone’s problems directly.

Okay, sometimes I do ~ but I hope that will begin to fall away as I continue working on myself over the next three years while I pursue this bachelor. (My messiah complex was hopefully parsed and transcended in Jan 2017.)

Anyway ^ tangent! ^

To say I’m excited about this relationship with David would be a gross understatement. In just two conversations we have covered a lot of ground already, and David has introduced me to ideas that I have been yearning to encounter for a very long time. Things like:

  • narcissistic wounding
    ~ what is it?
    ~ how to defend oneself against it?
    ~ is it related to transference?
  • transference
    ~ what is it?
    ~ how to defend oneself against it?
  • consciousness
    ~ is it the primary substance of the universe?
    ~ or is it an illusion?
    ~ evolution of consciousness
  • my goals
    ~ what they are?
    ~ can you support them?
    ~ will supporting those goals beneft your own goals?

I will break these down into individual posts ~ in the spirit of wabi sabi, this post and those posts will be eternally half-finished, as are all good conversations.

integrative psychotherapy + Vedic destiny

tumblr_static_no_fate
but what we make?

In a twist of what Vedic philosophy might describe as destiny (involving a Kafka-esque turnaround in the Australian welfare system), I find myself now pursuing a Bachelor of Integrative Psychotherapy at IKON Institute, a dinky-di and very cute, progressive and holistic private university near the Valley in Brisvedas. (I was told by one person at Centrelink that the Bachelor was not supported by Austudy, and then, when I called again, I was told that it was.)

Integrative psychotherapy “is the process of making whole”, and the Canadian Institute for Integrative Psychotherapy describes it further:

Integrative Psychotherapy embraces an attitude towards the practice of psychotherapy that affirms the inherent value of each individual. It is a unifying psychotherapy that responds appropriately and effectively to the person at the affective, behavioral, cognitive, and physiological levels of functioning, and addresses as well the spiritual dimension of life.

The term “integrative” of Integrative Psychotherapy has a number of meanings. It refers to the process of integrating the personality: taking disowned, unaware, or unresolved aspects of the self and making them part of a cohesive personality, reducing the use of defense mechanisms that inhibit spontaneity and limit flexibility in problem solving, health maintenance, and relating to people, and re-engaging the world with full contact. It is the process of making whole. Through integration, it becomes possible for people to face each moment openly and freshly without the protection of a pre-formed opinion, position, attitude, or expectation.

This bachelor is the perfect coalescence of all that I’ve been wondering about for a very long time, and I feel extra-ordinarly fortunate and grateful that I have this opportunity to pursue my own wholeness so that I might be able to help others do the same.

Integrative psychotherapy is basically the entheotropic process, or the holosophic process ~ the process of realising wholeness through experiential wisdom of our being a part of the whole, as a water droplet is an integral part of the ocean.

In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that each living entity is qualitatively the same as Krsna (the Supreme Personality of the Godhead), and the only difference between the living entity and Krsna is a quantitative distinction, as the water droplet is qualitatively, but not quantitatively, the ocean.

What Osho described as oceanic consciousness may be the same as fully realised Krsna conscious … but I’m not sure. I’m not sure how I feel about the Gita just now, except that I enjoy how it’s giving me a broader context in which to place Buddhism, which was my go-to source of spiritual succour for nearly a decade. In this sense, Vedic philosophy is a container that is even more broad and encompassing than Buddhism or Christianity or Islam or Judaism or any of the other religions that might have grown from Vedic philosophy.

I have to stop here now, lest I enter a rabbit hole I cannot escape from. The only other thing I would add is I am excited to be learning that maybe Gautama was an avatar of Krsna, and that there is almost certainly a cultural link between the likes of Gautama and Jesus.

I know that’s a can of worms … but I’m a boy!, so I love eating worms 😀

 

the “new limbs” of consciousness

are the symptoms of ‘disorders’ such as bipolar actually superpowers?

A few thoughts (and leading questions) about bipolar and other symptoms of acute mental and emotional distress:

a friend shared on FB a brave and detailed account of her bipolar cycle, including a description of the mania phase being lke ‘being on mushrooms 24/7’;

another friend saw the post and said the cycle described her own experience pretty much ~ possibly the first time she encountered the idea she might be experiencing bi-polar-esque symptoms;

reading that about mushrooms made me realise that yes, my own experience in Jan was quite like being on mushrooms at times ~ heightened sensory perception, possible hallucinations.

What I’m thinking is:

these symptoms (of non-ordinary states of consciousness) are caused by acute mental/emotional pain;

pain has been an evolutionary force since we crawled out of the swamp, driving adaptation and producing ‘new limbs’, appendages to our physical bodies that made us more fit for survival (if not actual appendages, then new ways of using our existing appendages, such as standing upright, poking sticks into ant holes for food);

could it be that the symptoms of such ‘disorders’ as bipolar are producing ‘new limbs’ of consciousness, (by)products of mental/emotional pain?

Are we becoming super- or suprahuman?

Is our modern suffering compelling us to evolve new dimensions of consciousness?

Is the theorised multiverse coming into being because we are experiencing profound collective suffering?

Where there was once a (material) universe, is there now an ethereal (non-material) multiverse because we have needed to create these other Verses to contain the myriad emotional and mental dimensions of the human experience? Or have they always been there and we are only now beginning to perceive them, as a coping mechanism that also serves as an evolutionary force?,

remembering that Gautama Buddha allegedly said in the Dhammapada: ‘mind is the forerunner of all states.

Is this us returning Home to the unified multiplicity/singularity of the godhead?

 

God, suffering and evolution

6:27am50%
30.01.18 ~ 15/6

For whatever reason, I feel meh, today and yesterday. It may be due to coming off grains, one of the most insidious drugs we are addicted to. I’m back at Mum’s for a couple of weeks before I move to Darra, and it may be due to that re-entry problem: my life is settling down, and the prospect of doing something wit it is quite daunting, compared with the liminal space I’ve been in for so long, where I was able to imagine my life without feeling like I had to actually actualise it.

It’s an opportunity though, this feeling, because what I’m feeling is that general existential discontent: the mundane world feels meaningless because there is a disconnect from the supramundane; this feeling (though I cannot explicitly name it, beyond the word ‘discontent’) is the consequence of feeling a disconnect from Spirit.

This is the feeling we are otherwise distracting ourselves from, and for this reason (though it seems paradoxical) I know I’m doing the right thing, on the same right path, because this feeling motivates me to continue shaping my life so that it more readily connects with Spirit: the feeling is present because I am distracting myself less, become more sensitive to the iner and outer environment ~ discontent is an evolutionary signal akin to pain, telling us we need to change, adapt, grow.

These feelings are the teething problems we are facing as we emerge into a new stage in the evolution of consciousness. The act of long-handing ~ the craft of it ~ is helping, because it is like the work of any artisan, the process of bringing the Ideal down/into the Real is a process that creates meaning.

Having exercises, practices or projects that cultivate meaning, though, is not quite enough ~ these are not reliable sources of ~refuge~, for I know all too well how it feels to have these relative sources of meaning inaccessible. When we are deprived of these external sources, we suffer. So the trick is to be able to extract meaning from each of our moments, waking or otherwise, whether we are actively creating meaning or not.

Even this requires an ongoing practice of communion to continually refresh our Connection, which we also need to continually drop until we realise ~enlightenment~ (which we also need to drop), which is not even a reliable source anymore, for me at least … I’m currently feeling quite jaded about enlightenment (hence the tildes), which is probably a good thing as well, because of all attachments, attachment to enlightenment is perhaps the most corrosive of our wellbeing: to yearn for enlightenment is to spurn our current state, which is the only state we will ever have.

To further confuse the matter, it is probably true that we are always already enlightened, and it is only our refusal/inability to accept our current state that prevents us from realising/seeing this in each moment.

I didn’t at all intend to come here and write about enlightenment. I guess I’m just telling it as it comes.

I actually have a whole new view of enlightenment lately, from which I draw a deep sense of comfort. There’s another set of scribbles upstairs somewhere about how it’s not that we have lost our connection with Spirit, but more like we are coming into a time where our Connection is becoming stronger.

There is a common tendency among the discontented (such as myself, who feel the disconnect at an individual level) to say the problem with the modern age is that we have lost contact with the numinous force that animates the universe. (If we had, wouldn’t we be dead/nothing?) This almost constitutes a kind of blame, because behind such claims (at least when I have made them) is a rueing of the fact that our culture or ‘the society’ has become less ~spiritual~, a claim that comes from minds that seem to have forgotten that we are culture: if our culture is less spiritual, it’s because we have allowed it to develop this way, from which it follows that we can develop a more spiritual culture by making it so in our own lives.

Of course it’s hard to steer ourselves away from the dominant forces informing our culture (such as consumerism and scientific materialism), but this difficulty does not negate our individual responsibility to make our own lives more spirited. Fortunately, the forces are so strong that (~according to Newton~) any opposing force must be equal to or greater than the prevailing force, so that when the dam wall of discontent finally does reach a critical mass, the floodwaters in the direction opposing materialism will be such that all our false beliefs will be swept away and in their place will come a new form of enlightened humanity.

I promise, I did not sit down with the express intention to write about this either, enlightened humanity, but here we are.

A large part of my discontent comes from the welling up of ideas I don’t quite know how to express. I have an almost irrepressible tendency to fill myself up with ideas in my ongoing search for meaning (read: my ongoing search for distractions), and when I don’t have an outlet for these I get stuck, a kind of metaphysical constipation: I gorge myself on ideas that I seem to digest okay, but which I cannot digest express … and in that long-hando lies a clue: if I can’t express them, then I cannot have truly digested them.

Another large part of my discontent comes from having had a few ‘awakening experiences’ I have not yet been able to fully integrate. In deed, that feeling I mention above, the whole idea/experience of living as a human in the ‘mundane’ world after an awakening experience, is a subject I need to investigate, a primary subject of the book I’m writing ~ and I guess it’s something I’m investigating through experience. Those moments of non-abiding awakening (and the accumulation of trauma leading up to them) were a massive wake-up call, awakening me to the reality of non-ordinary realms of consciousness we can and need to access if we want to heal from our traumas and grow healthily into the new age of humanity.

When I really allow myself to think and feel about it, [10:33am30.01.08], I understand that much of my discontent has come from or comes from the frisson of being a human who has tasted his divinity and then let it out of his … *ahem*, grasp. But they have propelled and compelled me, onward and upward!

Since my first awakening experience in 2015 I have understood that expression is an antidote for depression, the inverse of which is … obvious. The weight of depression becomes all the more burdensome when the ideas needing expression come from direct experience of the ineffable. So I’m going to add the following to the page Psychosis or Spiritual Awakening, because it’s all part of the story that is teaching me things about myself and the true nature of reality. These are my interpretations of my experience, that is all. I’m including it here as well because I can’t quite extract it from this post yet, without the whole thing falling apart.

~ ~ ~

Around the time in 2015 when I first began to realise I might be experiencing ~depression~, there was a period of three to four weeks where I was manifesting the symptoms of what might be called bipolar disorder, except that I was more manic than I was depressed … unipolar disorder? (What even is bipolar anyway? Aren’t we all … isn’t everything … characterised by polarity? Isn’t that what the dualist human experience is? And isn’t it a tautology to say ‘bipolar’? Something can’t be tripolar, because that messes with the whole notion of polarity/duality. One or something can be unipolar though ~ stuck at one extreme of the polarity.)

One thing I realised (apart from the maxim, expression is the antidote for depression) is that maybe I had been depressed my whole life, the same as I had been deluded my whole life (see above, January 2017), because:

the peace, joy and awe I was frequently experiencing was like nothing I had experienced before;

the symptoms of depression ~I found on Google~ described feelings I had been having off-and-on my whole life.

In the state of hyper-awareness (and perhaps because of the life-regression practices I was somewhat-recklessly experimenting with) I was experiencing that month, I had a computational power I hadn’t known before (and which has since only been exceeded in January 2017), a power of ad hoc analytical meditation with which I was able to track back through experiences in my life I had been previously doing my darndest to forget, and I saw patterns of depression and even suicidal tendencies going right back into my early childhood. [This is what I talk about when I talk about the power of suffering to catalyse profound spiritual evolution.] (I used to daymare about running away from home and hiding in the creek to hold my breath until I died, certain that not only would I not be missed, but that my absence would be welcomed and celebrated by my ~family of origin~.

Now, to just call a spade a spade for a moment: that’s profoundly fucked up. ~My childhood wasn’t even that bad~, which is a stupid thing to say, because it negates the extent of my suffering (and if you’re reading this and you were belittled and neglected by your father and brother, then it has the potential to negate yours as well, which is the last thing I wanna do), and something we need to talk about as a community is the idea that to have suffered trauma in childhood you don’t need to have been [*TRIGGER WARNING*] raped or tortured:

putting aside the trauma of our clinical birth practices and the profoundly maladjusted society we live in from the moment we exit the womb, wailing, it is profoundly traumatic to feel unrequited love for your family in the formative years of your life, and potentially more problematic than having been actively tortured, because the wounds go unacknowledged for being ~not serious~.

Russel Brand talks about this, that ‘minor’ addictions that don’t wreak havoc in your life can be more problematic because they go unrecognised. Other addictions, such as workaholism and consumerism, are actively celebrated, applauded. Hardcore addiction/suffering can catalyse profound spiritual awakenings. Our mediocre suburban traumas can do the same. the events and their causes are on a spectrum, the same order of event to different degrees ~ our addictions to chemicals and behaviours are also on a spectrum, meaning we are all addicted to something.

There’s a line in the book I’m using as a mousepad right now:

During these first years of life, environmental conditions are crucial. On top of the basics of physical safety, food, and shelter, a sense of belonging is essential for all subsequent stages of development. A fragile sense of belonging can leave the individual prone to lifelong anxiety.

This is from Ego, which makes a compelling case for the probability that human suffering is and has always been driving our evolution through what they call the ‘post-conceptual’ revolution, comparable only to the conceptual revolution 50 000 years ago.

Reading this (and the whole book) was a bombshell for me, who (it was conceded to recently by Mum) was ‘always a rather anxious child, always worried about being liked’. That I didn’t inherently feel liked, or have a strong sense of belonging, could have been treated as a red flag, but instead I was frequently derided for being ‘too sensitive’, for ‘taking things too much to heart’ and for not having a thick enough skin.

I don’t want to have a thick skin! Who wants to be a dinosaur!? I want to be sensitive ~ it’s a quality, goddamn it!

I know now that my family did the best they could, but I evidently didn’t know this at the time, and an (un)fortunate paradoxical of family relations is that best is often still not good enough, because we’re all still a bit fucked up ~ Philip Larkin has a great poem about this:

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
….They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
….And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
….By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
….And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
….It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
….And don’t have any kids yourself.

This historical reality is one of the reasons we need to take all of those ‘basics’

[55%3:33pm! ~ destiny number being 5, tolerance of diversity/backgrounds, these are the numbers I received after receiving a call from P~~~ about where he’s at!]

we have secured for ourselves in the twenty-first century and begin putting them to use in the pursuit of thrival.

That said, it could be that our persistent failure to learn from the mistakes of history and the lives of our parents/ancestors is a fundamental and necessary quality of the human condition: without this paradox we would never encounter the cause to grow (the cause being suffering and the growth coming from the search to end, or at least transmute, that suffering). The Buddhists have a great teaching about this in the lojong: we can choose to feel grateful for our suffering because it gives us an opportunity to practise the dharma, and because a skilful response to suffering purifies our karma.

So this is not about my parents or my brother or ~the society~: this is just my lot, my karma. And I always, for some reason, had enough grit (enough knowing) to turn my childhood suffering into a cause to never be mean to others (a resolution I haven’t always been able have f(l)ailed to keep). I became a gregarious little boy despite (or because of) being relentlessly bullied by (among others) two of the main actors on the stage of my boyhood universe.

I bring this up only because these were important insights I had during that month in 2015, powerful catalysts for understanding what was happening to me. I see now that the suffering I had experienced throughout my life became a major catalyst for the awakening experience I had in that month. The accumulation of that suffering had gathered enough force that it broke me, but instead of exploding outward into a mess of retaliative fury, I broke inward … I imploded, and the weight of suffering drove me deep toward realising the true nature of myself.

So I suppose that when I say it broke me, I mean it broke ‘me’, the illusion of the ‘I-sense’ ~ at least, it put a bloody big dent in it, because it wasn’t until January 2017 that I had a genuine experience of no longer identifying one-hundred per cent with my ego.

I didn’t exactly see it this way in 2015, but I knew something profound was happening, and despite a few fleeting concerns about the state of my mental health, I didn’t feel sick ~ on the contrary, I knew that I had been sick my whole life and that now I was feeling healthier than ever: joy, wonder and awe … these are signs of good health.

Those concerns about my mental health (which I experienced to a similar extent in January 2017) were, I believe, due to the unfamiliarity of the experience ~ we are so familiar with our ego-identification that when it falls away, it can be scary and we can wonder if we are going insane. We are not ~ at least, most of the time we are not: pathological psychosis is almost certainly a thing, but all psychosis is not necessarily pathological.

This might be a good time to break down my interpretation of the word ‘psychosis’, though I feel like a broken record because I’m sure it’s scribbled down somewhere, and may even already be published on this site

When I say ‘awe’, I mean awe: there were moments in that month, around the full moon, when I stepped outside my girlfriend’s house, looked into the sky and understood that in the moon I was seeing the eye of God, and that God was watching over me. It should be noted here that I am essentially an atheist: when I say “God” I mean cosmos, and when I say ‘cosmos’ I mean divine order, as understood by the Ancient Greeks, so when I say ‘divine order’ I mean the antonym of chaos.

[8:03~4am48% ~ lojong reminder: do not seek out sorrow as a condition for happiness, replete with extra-long phone vibration

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~> “This means that we should not hope for others’ sorrow as a means for our happiness.” Der.

Does it though? It can mean whatever I want it to mean, and I choose for it to mean “don’t over-identify with misery”, and it means I need to question whether suffering is necessarily a catalyst for joy: it can be transmuted, yes, but this doesn’t mean that one should seek it out ~ once suffering has done its work, we can move on to non-suffering, whereby we choose to not suffer when we experience pain (pain being, of course, an evolutionary signpost).]

When we suffer pain as a kind of evil, we live with a bias that chaos (disorder) is more predominant than cosmos (order), which is not true: the universe is profoundly and precisely balanced ~ it is only our perception that convinces us otherwise.

When we shed this bias in these moments of temporary (non-abiding) awakening, our lives are funda-mentally trans-formed because we have, for a moment, seen beyond the veil of our ego delusions. When I told a friend about this experience of ‘seeing God’ in the moon (and other experiences from that month), he said, “Congratulations!, you’ve seen through the matrix”, which, obviously, is a statement loaded with (un)fortunate pop-cultural references, but it’s a statement that points (as the finger points at the moon) at the same ineffable truth alluded to in the quote from Alan Watts above: we are all (aspects of) God; our misperception of the world this truth is what causes our suffering, and our suffering catalyses the experience of perceiving this truth, which is that, like God, the universe is equal parts benign and malign, and perfectly balanced whether we accept that balance or not.

To perceive the universe as predominantly one or the other (benign or malign) constitutes a profoundly and uniquely human pathology we must all go through before we emerge from our delusions into the light of awareness (of balance and truth).

From this perspective (of equanimity, of profound acceptance of all that is), we can begin to see that depression is not an illness (a malignant mental disorder) but a symptom (a benign psychological balm that is helping to bring us back toward order, as puss heals a wound). From this perspective we can begin to accept suffering as a necessary evolutionary force, which … *takes a deep breath* … might actually constitute an answer to the question, “Why does God allow suffering?”

I promise I did not sit down to answer this question this morning ~ this is just where my mind goes when I let it free.

God ~allows~ suffering because we allow ourselves to ask that question from the misconception (from the false assumption) that God is all-loving [4:15pm54%], which is a lie we tell ourselves because we lied to ourselves about ~man~ being made in the image of God: believing this, we are able to deny our shadow (another pathological behaviour that only humans are capable of). God is not all-loving: God is a bastard, the only unbegotten sun. God ~allegedly~ arose out of nothing ~ it doesn’t get much more illegitimate than that. We want to believe God is all-loving because then we can delude ourselves about our own nature.

We, who have made God in our image (not the other way round), are not all-loving. We are hateful cunts. Admit it. The moment we admit this in ourselves is the moment we see that God, who we made in our image, is equal parts yoni and lingham, yin and yang, Christ and anti-Christ, as … are … we, the whole fucking lot of us. To deny this is to be not-human ~ or else it is to be human after the image we have created of God, which is deluded, pathological and … just straight-up confusing.

I really did not intend to arrive at this point by sitting down to write this mourning.

All I really wanted to say is that depression is not an illness and suffering is not malign. It’s all just a matter of perspective. [3033 words]

Actually I sat down to write about feeling meh. I feel much better now, so this has been a case study in action ~ expression is an antidote to depression. What follows from this is that suppression and oppression are causes of depression, but that’s a subject for another day.

I am not the first person to say ‘depression is a call to spiritual awakening’ (in deed, I stole that from Jeff Foster), but I am the first person I know directly who has experienced this as a first-hand reality. (I mean, there’s Eckhart Tolle, but obviously he’s just an ~illuminati avatar~, right?) An extension of this view is that ‘psychosis’ is not necessarily a pathology, and may indeed be an experience that is more conducive to true health than any drug that may be prescribed to prevent.

a statement of Mission

after Snowden

I was watching a documentary about Snowden recently, and I was inspired again to start educating myself about a basic truth that our culture hides in plain sight: our government is not serving our best interests.

Maybe I can’t stop/change this entirely or totally, but I can inform myself enough that my complicity is minimised, and perhaps I can be involved in some community project that undermines the elite’s power over us, the ~pawns~, like maybe a community bank or helping to organise and distribute organic food from independent growers ~ Monsanto would hate that, right? Even publishing this website and blog is an act of dissidence, a way of challenging the fear-mongering of mainstream media, which the doco refers to as ‘the corporate media’.

I shared a video on Facebook recently, by a guy called Rob Dial, who explains that any piece of information we absorb is ~brainwashing~ us, which means that we can choose to watch the nightly news and scare the crap out of ourselves, engendering distrust of our fellows, or we can choose to watch … well, videos like this one, which explains that, contrary to what we are told by the corporate media, the world is actually a profoundly safer place today than it ever has been in history:

As a somewhat-serious student of psychology and as a human being who desires understanding of and a modicum of control over his own mind, I am fascinated by the very concept of brainwashing. I’m somewhat reluctant to indulge the subject because it sounds so conspiracy-theory-ey, but the reality is that brainwashing is happening to us at all times, whether it be through advertising, news media, unscrupulous religious leaders, or even just the things we unconsciously choose to give more of our attention to, whereby we brainwash ourselves. So it’s definitely somethig I’m trying to keep my eye on.

It’s a curious thing though, that making ourselves aware of these unfortunate realities can sometimes have an adverse effect before they have a positive one ~ a scene from the Snowden doco that I could especially relate to, is where he says that the more he learned, the more the anxiety mounted up.

This is a normal and healthy response to the dawning awareness that our so-called leaders, who we hoped and believed were serving our interests, are actually serving theirs. It’s not fair that we are treated like pawns in the elites’ game of chess. And something I find especially distressing about the whole situation is I know they are seeking refuge in the wrong object.

Seeking refuge is an idea in Buddhism that can be understood as ‘seeking happiness’ ~ we seek refuge, from suffering, in all sorts of things we believe will give us lasting pleasure or contentment. Some people seek refuge in power, control and unnecessary wealth, by brainwashing and exploiting the weak or disadvantaged ~ such ‘leaders’ are causing (or contributing to) the suffering of others, and ultimately they are doing this to perpetuate their own suffering by pursuing happiness/refuge where it doesn’t exist. As well as people, this kind of misguided behaviour exploits the planet, our habitat.

Distressing, no?

When we begin to understand this, anxiety is a natural response because anxiety is a natural response to threat, to the perceived danger of, say, immanent ecological collapse ~ called ecoanxiety. In Snowden’s case, it seemed the anxiety came from becoming aware that our own governments are spying on us, and not for the sake of our safety, as they would have us believe.

Whatever the case may be, I’m interested in understanding how to raise awareness of these realities without catalysing massive panic attacks or debilitating depression ~ much of my own experience of depression has come from feeling disempowered in wanting to make positive change in the world. So I’m interested in how to minimise the psychological damage of becoming increasingly aware that our greatest threat may come from within our own culture.

I feel a strong duty to inform myself and to help others free themselves from a system that does not have their best interests at heart ~ well, rather than free ourselves from “the system”, it’s about healing ourselves so that we, as aspects of that system, can begin to improve the system from within. It’s not enough (in fact it’s not healthy) to blame “the system” for all of our suffering ~ to do so is an abnegation of individual responsibility, and an expression of Ignorance.

What we need to do is liberate ourselves from psychological enslavement to the systems of power that control us, which is an entirely internal process ~ we don’t need to change the system externally, but change ourselves so the control mechanisms of culture no longer have any power over us.

So I’ve come here to declare the nature of my Mission, which I choose to accept in pursuit of a Vision:

I imagine a world characterised by harmony and diversity in unity, a world where each and every individual has realised the true nature of reality and therefore is happy to serve the collective interests over their own ~ imagine a world where everyone was watching out for everyone else … we wouldn’t need to worry about anything, there would be no cause for regret and we would all be free to enjoy the present again.

It’s been bouncing around in mind lately that my mission is to

help people heal so that our world doesn’t continue down a path where it’s okay for governments to spy on their citizens people and for businesses to plumb the earth to line their rubber wallets. Entheogens are being used to evolve consciousness and of course modern-day shamanism and other ancient soul-healing methods exist (they have survived the onslaught of scientific materialism), and I yearn fiercely to be involved with such transcendental forms of transpersonal psychology so I can 1) heal myself and, in doing so, learn how to 2) help others to heal the will to power.

If we can help each other to experience the divine connectedness that is at the heart of these ancient traditions of psychotherapy, we can begin to eradicate ruthlessness from the world. Call me an idealist, but I believe we create our own reality and we define our own meaning ~ if we can imagine utopia, then utopia will cease to mean ‘no place’ and instead come to mean ‘our place’.

If we can help each other to experience the profound empathy and compassion that is our nature, the world will begin to transform, which is already happening ~ we are very fortunate to be alive and working at this time, cresting a wave in the evolution of human consciousness and the planetary consciousness supporting such diverse forms of life.

I declare that I accept the mission to ride this wave along with the other awakening individuals I am beginning to encounter in the community. I declare that I will honour the powerful potential I need to fulfill by helping to create a world characterised by harmony and diversity in unity, a world where each and every individual has realised the true nature of reality and therefore is happy to serve the collective interests over their own.

In my burgeoning role as a transpersonal psychotherapist / shaman I imagine treating individuals who are operating at three levels:

  • the ~underdog~ who feels disempowered, so they might come into their own and realise their potential to contribute improvements as grassroots leaders within their communities
  • the ~average~ who is coping, surviving, but beginning to look for ways to pursue thrival instead of just survival
  • the ~leader~ who already has power, so they might wield it more compassionately and for the genuine benefit of all

I feel I am making the journey through these levels, having started out life as an underdog, raised myself to an average level of success and wellbeing, and begun to aspire to being a true leader in my community ~ when I say ‘leader’ above, I do mean ‘politicians, businesspeople, teachers and other heads of institutions’, but what I envisage is that in this millenium we will see a shift away from leaders and those who are lead, from elites and pawns, to a far-more-decentralised way of living and governing ourselves.

I am also interested in what I learned were the original aims of psychology ~ I don’t have the source with me here, but I recall from a textbook of positive psychology that the original aims of psychology were:

  1. the treatment of pathology
  2. the maintenance of wellness
  3. the nurturing and harbouring of talent and genius

Oh, I found the textbook!

In Positive Psychology: The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths by Charles Richard Snyder and‎ Shane J Lopez, there is a quote from Martin Seligman saying the above three missions were the original aims of psychology, so, yay, I remembered!

What I definitely remembered (because I was especially impacted by it) is the idea, as described in the same quote (a breakout quote from the main text), that the second two were neglected throughout the twentieth century for reasons I don’t need to go into here, because the point is that I want to get behind the move in positive psychology to start focusing again on the other two objectives of psychology.

More than that, I would add that the fourth objective of psychology (or what I am starting to call ‘holosophy’ and what others might call ‘entheology’) is:

4. facilitate conscious evolution (the evolution of consciousness)

BAM! Homo evolutis.

 

our bodies are the temple

Dieta

I am beginning to learn, through research and experience, just how important our body is to our mental, emotional and psychological wellbeing, and what follows from this is the importance of diet.

I call it dieta because: 1) that extra a, from the Spanish, seems to lift the seriousness from the idea of dieting; 2) I picked up the word watching a documentary about shamanism, and the main motivating force behind diet for me is to have a cleaner body so I can be more in touch with what’s going on internally (in terms of digestion, but also and moreso in terms of emotions and psychic movements … pun intended 😉

I also think of all this as more like a yogic diet than just a diet diet, because that for me carries connotations of this being more about dietary choices that I hope will persist over a lifetime rather than about a few austerities I will observe temporarily as though my life were nothing more than a series of passing fads.

One of my early bosses (who was an alcoholic and chain smoker) used to say (ironically), ‘My body is a temple.’ I never really understood what this meant, but since then I have had some divine/mystical experiences that were the consquence of clean-eating and dedicated spiritual practices, so I know the body~mind partnership is capable of some truly transcendental stuff (holy shit), and I really want to begin to honour that some more.

I have also begun to notice that my general wellbeing is profoundly influenced by what I do and do not put into my body.

At the time of this writing I am 34, born 1983 in the Australian outer suburbs. Since that time the basic food pyramid has been turned on its head and, among other correlates, the gut~brain connection has been researched up the wazoo. We now know there are neurons in the heart and gut, not just the brain, and people are starting to use ‘second brain’ to refer to the gut.

When I was learning how to eat, it was mostly through mimicry in the suburbs, and my diet was (relatively) fine for the last 30 years or so, but I put that down to having been blessed with a profoundly strong constitution (physical and psychological), which is now beginning to show signs of wear and tear:

for a long time I was able to get away with eating a halfway-healthy diet, even though that included indiscrimate consumption of meat and other animal products, processed foods like commercial bread, plus wanton amounts of dairy and sugar, not to mention the various poisons of alcohol, commercial tobacco, caffeine and the hydroponic ‘biker bud’ I found myself smoking, which constitutes something of a segue to a sidenote:

It’s been 34 years since I started learning how to eat and feed myself, and it’s been about 19 years since I started scoring and smoking ganja. This was in the mid~late-90s and the Australian suburbs … skip forward to 2015 in c://maine (Castlemaine, VIC), which is essentially an outer suburb of Melbourne, where I asked my friend and dealer where our ganja was coming from ~ bikers, he said.

This was the year I first began to realise that maybe I was suffering depression and that the anxiety I was feeling maybe wasn’t normal. It was also the year I had my first major spiritual emergency. It was around then I started to realise that something needed to change if I wanted to ever feel like contentment, satisfaction, meaning and purpose were conditions I might feel frequently and consistently, and that something was gonna hafta to be me.

This tangent is getting a bit out of hand, when the only really important point is that the profound suffering (mixed with moments of transcendental joy and awe) that characterised that year were catalytic in promoting a search that lead to two realisations:

1) what I had absorbed about diet was no longer serving me, and food production had most likely changed radically in the preceding 30 years, but more (or less) importantly, 2) drug production had most likely changed radically in the last 20 years as well.

In the suburbs of the 90s I was probably smoking mostly homegrown or maybe some hydro that someone had come across. Now that I think about it, I do remember that ‘hydro’ was kind of a big deal back then, a new thing that was only just beginning to reach new levels of accessibility.

Skip forward again to c://maine, where the buzz was bush bud: whereas my buddies at high school would get excited because they had found some hydro that would get us really ‘whacked’, my friends in c://maine would get (mildly) excited when they came across some homegrown that would give us a nice, easy-going high.

So, things/times have changed, and the point of this long-winded tangent is that many factors influence our mental health, not just drug (ab)use: food, for example, is just another vehicle for chemicals that effect our mental states via the gut~brain, and as Dennis McKenna says anyway, “All experience is a drug experience” [12:33]:

Whether it’s mediated by our own [endogenous] drugs, or whether it’s mediated by substances that we ingest that are found in plants, cognition, consciousness, the working of the brain, it’s all a chemically mediated process. Life itself is a drug experience.

Apart from wanting to bust the myth that ‘marijuana causes depression’, I want to experiment with and illuminate experience and ideas around how everything we put into our bodies (including information) may cause depression (et al) if we are not wise about our choices.

The most illuminating experience I have had so far, experimenting with eliminating grains, is that both times I did this I suffered extreme bouts of insomnia. [12:36] I learned / was reminded of my own experience that eating grains has a profoundly soporific effect on the body, a great enabler of sleep.

It took me two of these experiments and a not-uncanny encounter with a friend to learn, from her, that if we want to just straight-up drop grains from our life, we need to be sure we have melatonin supplements, along with other herbal sleep supplements like valerian and hops, which I have now bought for any future experiments.

For these reasons and myriad others I am not yet aware of, I am documenting here the nature and contents of the dieta I am experimenting with, the details of which can be found on the sub-page, Dieta Detailia. [1:39]