Saturday, December 21, 2013

Gathering the Light this Winter Solstice

a review by Dennis Patrick Slattery

As I finish reading Walter Odajnyk's Gathering the Light, I see a very synthetic imagination at work to bring the reader closer to what unites rather than separates Eastern and Western thought on meditation, the mystical and the means to unite the two ways the soul may engage spirit. At the same time, his book offers a short course on C.G. Jung's ground-breaking thought on the soul inhabiting all things of the world. Lost in our ADD-oriented culture is the art and practice of meditation, not just on matters of the spirit but on the everyday matters we contend with, often on the fly, fast and loose, with little due regard for consequences. Perhaps the president of the United States should include on his board of advisors a resident meditator; that person's task would be to slow down the processes that can have as their consequences war, ignoring the most in need, loss of a sense of fair play, justice denied and oversights that can diminish the earth's richness. Is this a spiritual book? Yes and no. Its wide range and depth of perception on the spiritual body can be appropriated on a number of levels to coax the reader into living a fuller and more deeply attended life.

Monday, November 11, 2013

News Release: Wall Street Revolution

November 11, 2013

Fisher King Press and il piccolo editions are pleased to announce another new publication:

Wall Street Revolution and Other Poems
by Charles Zeiders

Wall Street Revolution and Other Poems draws on the perennial wisdom of the Western religious tradition to treat the disease of 21st century nihilism. These poems are at once comical, candid, prophetic, and even healing to the wound in the Western mind. The collection takes the reader on a journey through the Faustian bargains and idolatries that have defined the postwar and postmodern years. Like Dante, the poet shows that only Love and love can satisfy the needs of the individual and collective soul.  In terms of the spiritual poetry addressing the madness of the postmodern moment, this work is unique and enlightening.

News Release: Dark Healing

November 11, 2013

Fisher King Press and il piccolo editions are pleased to announce another new publication:

Dark Healing
by Richard E. Messer

These poems, written from lived experience, speak for the survivors of personal violence. The pain inflicted on so many families in our violent age has seldom been faced with such unflinching determination to depict it honestly and wrest from it an acceptance of suffering based on a full, active and meaningful view of life. Does anyone escape suffering? No, that is why those who survive and go on to a new acceptance of life, reach out to those who are for the present victims. Tragedy teaches what intuition always whispers: there is a realm in which we are all present to each other; we are One in the deep heart’s core. We mourn those who die, and we move on through the knowledge that what has happened to them, no matter how brutal or tragic, does not define them—or us. Our spirits and our souls tell us who we are and give our lives their meaning.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Phantom Buddha and the Zen of Alvaro Cardona-Hine

Mel Mathews: Having recently published one of your collections of poetry, The Song Less/on (il piccolo editions), undoubtedly I am a big fan of your work. However, today I'd like to learn more about your just published Phantom Buddha (Alba Books). Why the title: Phantom Buddha?

Alvaro Cardona-Hine
Alvaro Cardona-Hine: Phantom Buddha is an autobiographical novel dealing with the time in my Forties when, after reading extensively about Zen Buddhism, I began actual practice under a Japanese Zen Master who turned out to be a womanizer. The woman I was with was lured away from me. It was a painful experience that took me several decades to translate into a novel. There is a blend of reality and dreams I had during those days that accentuates the condition of a man in the most dire of circumstances. My friend Pierre Delattre, author of Tales of a Dalai Lama, consider this work of mine to be a breakthrough into a new kind of literature.

MM: How long has Phantom Buddha been in the making?

ACH: I began to write Phantom Buddha decades ago but, for one thing, the painful nature of the experience made postponing and rewriting a matter of many years. The fact that my wife, Barbara McCauley Cardona and I, have started our own publishing firm, made me abandon any doubts and complete the work.

MM: What impetus fueled the writing of Phantom Buddha?

ACH: Phantom Buddha is essentially an expose of a man who has recently been exposed in the Buddhist community and by the New York Times for the moral fraud that he is. Zen is the clearest, most demanding, and most subtle paths to personal liberation that exists, and there is absolutely no room in it for scoundrels such as Joshu Sasaki who takes advantage of the cupidity of female students.    

I was able to overcome my initial disappointment and went on to study with Prabhassa Dharma Roshi, who some 14 years ago, before she died, named me a sensei, or teacher.

MM: It is quite obvious that for you, words are a delicacy. When I read your work, I can taste it! How do you do this? If this is a mystery, fine, but if there is something more to this love making of language, I'd like to learn.

ACH: You compliment me. There is no mystery to how one uses language, that open book. But care and love for language in me could be a generically social affair since I come from a family of writers. My grandfather, Jenaro Cardona, was one of the pioneers of the Costa Rican novel; my uncle Rafael won a Central American poetry contest at age 18, my half-brother Alfredo is a well-known poet throughout Latin America; my father wrote a book in his last days entitled Hombres y Máquinas (Men and Machines) about his youthful days as a train engineer.

I should add that poetic insight has everything to do with the kind of personal vision one has gained over the years. The three sources that have shaped my life are: the Seth material as presented by Jane Roberts in a series of books; Castañeda's writings on don Juan, the Mexican sorcerer; and Rinzai Zen Buddhism..

MM: At what age did you come to live in the U.S.? What was that like for you?

My parents brought me to the U.S. at age 12, just after I had graduated from a sixth grade class that was unique for the bunch of guys that comprised it and the loving teacher we had (Rosita Font lived to be over a hundred years old and was acknowledged by the president of the republic and interviewed on television.) Five lonely years followed in Los Angeles as I struggled to learn English and found American schooling to be utterly boring. By and by, I discovered Walt Whitman, went to college and met my first wife, with whom I had four children.

MM: As an outsider, for lack of a better word, what was it like to observe the masses living out the so-called 'American Dream' ?

ACH: The American Dream is as real as you wish to make it. I see it as based on the riches of a land with a good climate and navigable rivers, plus an initial settlement by human beings borne out of the nascent capitalist system (as opposed to a Latin America of extreme weather and rugged terrain, settled by feudal-minded folk and a reactionary Catholic church.) That Dream, of course, is made a mockery by reactionary tendencies that allow minorities an exclusive right to have, not dreams but nightmares.

MM: How could you retain the vital essence of who you were/are without getting drawn in to the drudgery of Americana?

ACH: I left school before I got a degree, in order to raise a family. Consequently, and for many years, I endured what you call the "drudgery of Americana." Jobs that paid little and would have crushed my spirit had it not been for the poetry that I was writing, some of it clandestinely, and some late into the night.

MM: There must have been sacrifices made along the way, in order to live the authentic life you lead. Would you like to comment on any of these sacrifices?

ACH: My health suffered, my marriage faltered and failed, I made horrific mistakes... How I got to an old age full of joy is due in large part to my wife Barbara.

MM: You are a widely read author with several poetry collections in print. Would you like to comment on any of your other publications?

ACH: The 26 books I have published are my other children, among whom I have my favorites. One such is The half-Eaten Angel, based on childhood memories  of a paradise that included tragedy; in poetry, a little book entitled Words on Paper; in the haibun form, When I Was a Father, in prose poem form, A History of Light: and presently, my novel Phantom Buddha.

MM: Tell us about any other projects you are working on, perhaps a musical piece?

ACH: I am putting the finishing touches on another novel, to be called Brute Rainbow. Immediately after I finish that, I will concentrate on a violin concerto that keeps boiling over, very demandingly. After that, if I live long enough, I want to go back to a half-finished opera based on the play Flight, by the Russian author of The Master and Margarita.

MM: What and/or who inspires you? What is the driving force behind your prolific and creatively abundant life?

ACH: I am driven by an unrecognizable force to sing naturally, like a bird who has no reason to sing. Also by the fact that at one point in my life I understood deeply that a normal human being can do anything he or she sets out to do. I find it sad that so many people function under the belief that they are incapable and/or unworthy of achieving anything worthwhile.

MM: Who are your favorite authors, and why?

ACH: My favorite poets are: Vallejo, Whitman, Lorca, Rilke, Blake, the ancient Chinese, Baudelaire, Rimbaud. My favorite novelists and essayists: Mann, Kafka, Proust, Marquez, Borges, the Russians, a novel like Moby Dick. This is off the top of my head. But those I have listed all said important things cleanly, some magically.

MM: Where can readers find you on the Internet, and where can they buy your books?

ACH: My novel Phantom Buddha may be purchased through Amazon in print or kindle. My latest book of poetry is with you, Fisher King Press. Other work is with which my wife and I have started.

MM: Would you like to share an excerpt of Phantom Buddha? Or perhaps a poem?

ACH: From The Song Less/on


I fell
out of love

while I was
washing my heart
the breeze
that went by


I walk out of my brain
in pursuit of money

where can my hands go?
they look under the skirts
of the imagination

each day it’s
a yellow rose
against incumbents

MM: Alvaro, you are such an inspiration - your life, your work, your soul! Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed. Dear readers, to learn more about Alvaro Cardona-Hine, I encourage you to order a copy of Phantom Buddha, as well as his many other publications. If you are ever near Santa Fe, New Mexico, be sure to visit the Cardona-Hine Gallery in Truchas, on the High road to Taos.

Alvaro Cardona-Hine was born in Costa Rica in 1926 and was brought to the United States by his parents in 1939. By 1945 he was writing poetry then went on to translate Cesar Vallejo, write novels, make a living as a painter, and compose music which has been performed in various parts of the country. He is the recipient of an NEA grant, a Bush Foundation Fellowship and a Minnesota State Arts Board grant. He lives with his wife, the poet and painter Barbara McCauley Cardona, in the small village of Truchas, in New Mexico, where the two manage their own gallery.

Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

'On the Doorstep of the Castle' Premiering at the IAAP Congress Copenhagen

Aug 21, 2013 - Press Release - Just published by il piccolo editions:

On the Doorstep of the Castle
by Elizabeth Clark-Stern

Our setting is 16th century Spain. The Inquisition has expelled the Jews or forced them to convert. Teresa of Avila is igniting the imagination of the country as the nun who receives messages directly from God. Alma de Leon, a young Jewish converso, appears on Teresa’s doorstep, petitioning to become a novice in her care. Their complex relationship explores the feminine archetypes of the Amazon, and the Medial Woman, in a story that unveils the foundations of psyche’s movement toward wholeness: Kabbalah, and Christian rapture, in an oppressive yet luminous time.

This play is a work of creative imagination based on the interaction of a true historical character and a fictional one. Teresa of Avila is admired to this day not only by Catholics and Christians, but by Taoists and Buddhists, psychologists and poets. Carl Jung was fascinated by her master work, The Interior Castle, for its description of the journey of the soul toward intimacy with God. The fictional character, Alma de Leon, is inspired by twentieth century Jewish philosopher, Edith Stein, who chanced to read Teresa's autobiography, and experienced a profound spiritual awakening that led her to become a Carmelite nun. "What if these two were to meet?" the playwright asked herself, crafting the character of Alma as a Jewish woman true to her time and place in history. The teaching of the ancient Jewish mystical tradition, the Kabbalah, was strictly forbidden by the Inquisition, and yet Alma is haunted by it, even as she dons the habit of a nun and struggles to find her identity in the presence of her passionate, spiritually adventurous mentor.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mark Winborn Discusses Deep Blues on Shrink Rap Radio

Dr. Dave Van Nuys interviews Fisher King Press author Mark Winborn, PhD about his book Deep Blues: Human Soundscapes for the Archetypal Journey on his podcast show Shrink Rap Radio. Dr. Dave interviews a wide range of therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychoanalysts across a broad range of subjects. The interview can be listened to here: Winborn Interview or on ITunes.

In the interview, Dr. Winborn discusses the experiences that drew him to Jungian analytic work, his interest in the blues, various themes in the book, and a brief overview of the three main schools of Analytical Psychology.

Deep Blues explores the archetypal journey of the human psyche through an examination of the blues as a musical genre. The genesis, history, and thematic patterns of the blues are examined from an archetypal perspective and various analytic theories – especially the interaction between Erich Neumann’s concept of unitary reality and the blues experience. Mythological and shamanistic parallels are used to provide a deeper understanding of the role of the bluesman, the blues performance, and the innate healing potential of the music. Universal aspects of human experience and transcendence are revealed through the creative medium of the blues. The atmosphere of Deep Blues is enhanced by the black and white photographs of Tom Smith which capture striking blues performances in the Maxwell Street section of Chicago. Jungian analysts, therapists and psychoanalytic practitioners with an interest in the interaction between creative expression and human experience should find Deep Blues satisfying.
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Pennington & Staples on Righteousness and Guilt

Article by Nancy Carter Pennington and Lawrence H. Staples

Guilt’s necessary and important role in the creation and maintenance of consciousness is in itself a sufficient argument to demonstrate the absurdity of an exclusive pursuit of righteousness. Even if that weren’t the case, however, there would be ample reasons to be suspicious of a one-sided effort to be righteous.

The case for righteousness has many authors; the case for sin has few. Perhaps, that is how it should be. We can almost all agree that goodness is a good thing. It doesn’t take much persuasion to convince us that sensible conformity to the ethical and moral standards of the community, and attention to appropriate behavior and manners, not only contributes to one’s personal success but also to the success of the community. It also contributes to the avoidance of painful guilt; its opposite, non-conformity, produces guilt and threatens the attainment of success, as measured by fame, fortune, and other outer symbols of reward and recognition. When it comes to success, one can, at the least, argue that the appearance of goodness is usually extremely helpful.

It is likely that far fewer would openly assert that badness can also be good, both for the individual and society. Let us, therefore, try to correct this deficiency by taking the side of sin with all its ill repute. It seems that this rejected orphan deserves some respect along with acknowledgment of its valuable qualities too, if all God’s children are to be honored. We are, of course, speaking of sin in the broader definition noted earlier in this book.

It is clearly not fashionable to admit the idea that there is significant value to both sides of these antagonistic opposites, good and bad. To admit such moral relativity, one would have to bear the tension of disquieting uncertainty and ambivalence. Of course, others would say it isn’t uncertainty and ambivalence, but, rather, evil that one would have to bear, if one admits value to both sides of these opposites. Greater security may well lie in black and white certainty, where one is either for good or against it. It is simply, easier to believe that way. It helps escape the unbearable tension of ambiguity. It is much more comforting to find, and hold tenaciously to, an absolute truth, which relieves one of the burden of further thought. Or, perhaps, thinking is allowed, but only as long as it is confined to acceptable thoughts and ideas. Thinking acceptable thoughts and parroting dogma is not only perceived as virtuous and respectable; it also protects one from the anxiety that normally attends the new, the different or the sinful. READ MORE

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

News Release: New Title Alert - The Dream and Its Amplification

June 19, 2014

Just Published by Fisher King Press:

Erel Shalit & Nancy Swift Furlotti (eds.)

The Dream and Its Amplification is now available for shipping.

Fourteen Jungian Analysts from around the world have contributed chapters to this book on areas of special interest to them in their work with dreams. This offers the seasoned dream worker as well as the novice great insight into the meaning of the dream and its amplification.

The Dream and Its Amplification unveils the language of the psyche that speaks to us in our dreams. We all dream at least 4-6 times each night yet remember very few. Those that rise to the surface of our conscious awareness beckon to be understood, like a letter addressed to us that arrives by post. Why would we not open it? The difficulty is in understanding what the dream symbols and images mean.

Through amplification, C. G. Jung formulated a method of unveiling the deeper meaning of symbolic images. This becomes particularly important when the image does not carry a personal meaning or significance and is not part of a person's everyday life.

Contents and Contributors
  • The Amplified World of Dreams - Erel Shalit and Nancy Swift Furlotti
  • Pane e’ Vino: Learning to Discern the Objective, Archetypal Nature of Dreams - Michael Conforti
  • Amplification: A Personal Narrative - Thomas Singer
  • Redeeming the Feminine: Eros and the World Soul - Nancy Qualls-Corbett
  • Wild Cats and Crowned Snakes: Archetypal Agents of Feminine Initiation - Nancy Swift Furlotti
  • A Dream in Arcadia - Christian Gaillard
  • Muse of the Moon: Poetry from the Dreamtime - Naomi Ruth Lowinsky
  • Dreaming the Face of the Earth: Myth, Culture, and Dreams of the Mayan Shaman - Kenneth Kimmel
  • Coal or Gold? The Symbolic Understanding of Alpine Legends - Gotthilf Isler
  • Sophia’s Dreaming Body: The Night Sky as Alchemical Mirror - Monika Wikmam
  • The Dream Always Follows the Mouth: Jewish Approaches to Dreaming - Henry Abramovitch
  • Bi-Polarity, Compensation, and the Transcendent Function in Dreams and Visionary Experience: A Jungian Examination of Boehme’s Mandala - Kathryn Madden
  • The Dream As Gnostic Myth - Ronald Schenk
  • Four Hands in the Crossroads: Amplification in Times of Crisis - Erel Shalit
  • Dreams and Sudden Death - Gilda Frantz
Attending the IAAP Congress in Copenhagen? - Don't miss the The Dream and Its Amplification book launch on August  21st at 19:00 !

Paperback: 230 pages (Large Page Format 9.25" x 7.5")
Publisher: Fisher King Press; 1st edition (June 15, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-926715-89-6

Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Water of Life Flows Again

June 15, 2013

Just Published by Fisher King Press:

by David L. Hart

The intensive study of Jungian psychology was amplified by another subject, taught continuously while I was a student at the Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland: the psychology of fairy tales. The study of fairy tales was the specialty of a fairly young, single woman, Dr. Marie-Louise von Franz. She lectured to us English-speaking students in well-spoken English, and the conviction and power of her voice made me feel how deep and meaningful these stories were to her. Not only that, I, myself, was immediately, deeply affected by the convincing, spiritual reality that was being presented to me in the stories themselves. It was as if the reality of life came out here in a wholly new form, untouched by the standard accepted form of common life.

What most struck me, I think now, was the following realization: here, in this story, is a completely insoluble problem. I want to follow it all the way through and, to my surprise, finally feel that this problem has been solved. This outcome has been both essential and unbelievable to me. As one who felt that life posed just such an insoluble problem, I found the typical fairy tale both impossible and incredible. I found in fairy tales a healing presence and possibility for the terror of my own early life. This is the unexpressed feeling that kept me fastened on the totally unexpected subject of fairy tales.

About the Author
David. L. Hart studied at Williams College (B.A.), the University of Zurich (Ph.D) and the C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich, Switzerland (Diploma). As a 1955 diplomate of the Zurich Jung Institute, David knew C.G. Jung and analyzed with Emma Jung, Toni Wolff, and C.A. Meier. David’s lifelong love of fairy tales began in his years at Williams College where he majored in German. He was especially aware of the theme of spiritual renewal in fairy tales, an approach to the tales he developed in his thesis for the Jung Institute on fairy tales. Dr. Hart was a practicing Jungian Analyst in the Philadelphia area from 1955 to 1986 and in the Boston area from 1986 until 2011, when he died. He was a founding member of PAJA, a member of NESJA, of the IAAP and of NESJA’s Training Board. Dr. Hart gave many workshops on the psychological and spiritual meaning of fairy tales, enriching and deepening the lives of many.

Product Details
The Water of Life: Spiritual Renewal in the Fairy Tale
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Fisher King Press (June 14, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 9781926715988

Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

An Exploration of Jung, Hermes, and Ecopsychology

Western man has no need of more superiority over nature, whether outside or inside. He has both in almost devilish perfection. What he lacks is conscious recognition of his inferiority to nature around him and within him. He must learn that he may not do exactly as he wills. If he does not learn this, his own nature will destroy him. He does not know that his own soul is rebelling against him in a suicidal way.   — C.G. Jung

The four volumes of The Dairy Farmer’s Guide to the Universe offer a comprehensive presentation of Jungian ecopsychology. Volume 1, Jung and Ecopsychology, examines the evolution of the Western dysfunctional relationship with the environment, explores the theoretical framework and concepts of Jungian ecopsychology, and describes how it could be applied to psychotherapy, our educational system, and our relationship with indigenous peoples. Volume 2, The Cry of Merlin: Jung, the Prototypical Ecopsychologist, reveals how an individual’s biography can be treated in an ecopsychological manner and articulates how Jung’s life experiences make him the prototypical ecopsychologist. Volume 3, Hermes, Ecopsychology, and Complexity Theory, provides an archetypal, mythological and symbolic foundation for Jungian ecopsychology. Volume 4, Land, Weather, Seasons, Insects: An Archetypal View describes how a deep, soulful connection can be made with these elements through a Jungian ecopsychological approach. This involves the use of science, myths, symbols, dreams, Native American spirituality, imaginal psychology and the I Ching. Together, these volumes provide what I hope will be a useful handbook for psychologists and environmentalists seeking to imagine and enact a healthier relationship with their psyches and the world of which they are a part.
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Live the Journey: From Predetermined Fate to Individual Destiny

by Erel Shalit

Jung defines life as the “story of the self-realization of the unconscious. Everything in the unconscious seeks outward manifestation, and the personality too desires to evolve out of its unconscious conditions to experience itself as a whole.” (Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 3.)

The Cycle of Life describes some of the principal archetypal images at play as we navigate our journey through life. In each stage of life, there is an image, or rather a cluster of psychological themes that pertain to that particular period, such as the divine child and the orphan child. Usually, these themes and images do not correspond to actual events or traumata, but reflect internal, archetypal experiences.

The feelings related to being an orphan are universal, and a vital facet of growing out of certain states of childhood; sometimes, however, the archetypal image of the orphan may devastatingly strike a child by the traumatic loss of a parent. Traumatic experiences often cause fixation; the archetypal image becomes frozen in the psyche of the traumatized person, rather than serving as a transitory psychic constellation, eventually integrating into the fullness of the personality.

At times we might find ourselves struck by the disparity between a predominant archetypal image and the prevailing developmental stage, as for instance when we see a senex-child, that is, a child who seems to speak the old person’s tongue, rather than to be dwelling in the world of childhood play. Or, for example, a mother of four teenage children, all of whom thought of her as a ‘child-mother,’ immature and childish. Even when they were small, they felt that she wanted them to be parental children taking care of her.

The archetypal idea of a journey through life is outlined in The Cycle of Life, in which Jung’s theory of the stages of life, as well as other perspectives, are reviewed. A focus on the river of life as an image of the journey helps to illustrate the process of transformation from predetermined fate to individual destiny. Hermes, god of thieves and merchants, souls and roads, will guide us toward the Hermetic aspect of life’s journey, infusing the experience of life with meaning, when graced with those soulful gifts that alter life’s course.

Erel Shalit is a Jungian psychoanalyst in Ra’anana, Israel. He is the author of several publications, including Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path, The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel, The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego, and Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return. Dr. Shalit lectures at professional institutes, universities, and cultural forums in Israel, Europe, and the United States.
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

News Release: Land, Weather, Seasons, Insects

News Release - April 17, 2013 - Just Published:

Land, Weather, Seasons, Insects: An Archetypal View  — The Dairy Farmer's Guide to the Universe Volume IV
by Dennis L. Merritt

Land, Weather, Seasons, Insects explores the environment, with the Midwest as an example, using traditional Jungian and Hillmanian approaches to deepen our connection with the land, the seasons, and insects.

The Dalai Lama said how we relate to insects is very important for what it reveals much about a culture’s relationship with the psyche and nature.

"I had several Big Dreams in my last year of training at the Jung Institute in Zurich, including a single image dream of a typical Wisconsin pasture or meadow scene. This was the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen because it shown with an inner light, what Jung called a numinous or sacred dream. Since returning to Wisconsin I have let the mystery and power of that dream inspire me to learn and experience as much as possible about the land and the seasons of the upper Midwest, a process of turning a landscape into a soulscape."

"The means of doing this are presented in Land, Weather, Seasons, Insects: An Archetypal View, volume IV of The Dairy Farmer’s Guide to the Universe—Jung, Hermes, and Ecopsychology. This involves the use of science, myths, symbols, dreams, Native American spirituality, imaginal psychology and the I Ching. It is an approach that can be used to develop a deep connection with any landscape, meeting one of the goals of ecopsychology. Carl Sagan believed that unless we can re-establish a sense of the sacred about the earth, the forces leading to its destruction will be too powerful to avert."
—Dennis L. Merritt

Front Cover: A Monarch butterfly on Buddleia in Olbrich Gardens, Madison, Wisconsin. This “King of the Butterflies” is probably the best known of the North American butterflies and is the chosen image for the Entomological Society of America. The caterpillar feeds on the lowly milkweed, genius Asclepias, named after the Greek god of healing. The plant and the insect are toxic to most organisms. The insect is known for its uniquely long and complicated migrations. Photo by Chuck Heikkinen.

DENNIS L. MERRITT, Ph.D., is a Jungian psychoanalyst and ecopsychologist in private practice in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A Diplomate of the C.G. Jung Institute of Analytical Psychology, Zurich, Switzerland, he also holds the following degrees: M.A. Humanistic Psychology-Clinical, Sonoma State University, California, Ph.D. Insect Pathology, University of California-Berkeley, M.S. and B.S. in Entomology, University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has participated in Lakota Sioux ceremonies for over twenty-five years which have strongly influenced his worldview.
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles. 

“It's the environment, stu....!”

by Dennis L. Merritt, Ph.D., Jungian Analyst, Ecopsychologist

(This talk was given at the Fordham conference, Jung in the Academy and Beyond: The Fordham Lectures 100 Years Later, held at Fordham University on October 26 and 27, 2012. It will be published in the Proceedings)

As Bill Clinton might say, “It's the environment, stupid!” Our devotion to science, technology and the capitalist system has culminated in a unique moment in the human relationship with the environment. Our species is at or near the peak of a prosperity bubble about to burst. We have exceeded the carrying capacity of the biosphere and we are still breeding. (1) We are overusing antibiotics and deadly bacteria are becoming immune to everything we have. (2) We are mining our precious water resources (3), coral reefs are dying as the oceans become warmer and more acidic (4), and most alarming, we are experiencing this as the very beginnings of the negative consequences of climate change. It will include massive droughts and floods, freak storms, the spread of diseases (5), famine, water wars (6), and the elimination of 30 to 50% of the species. (7) Experts tell us we may have but 10 years max to turn the Titanic around with regard to the most devastating aspects of climate change. (8) The apocalyptic conditions we are inexorably moving towards are truly in the archetypal domain, requiring an archetypal analysis and suggestions for dealing with it. Enter Jungian ecopsychology, a topic I have been writing on for the past 16 years, having just published the 4 volumes of The Dairy Farmer's Guide to the Universe—Jung, Hermes, and Ecopsychology.

I discovered Jung while working on my doctorate in entomology in Berkeley starting in 1967. My area was insect pathology, using insect pathogens instead of chemicals to manage insect pests; Silent Spring had made a deep impression on me. Eventually I came to realize the ecological and political dimensions of Jung's concepts, and was able to bring my two backgrounds together within the developing field of ecopsychology.

The Blind Side of Psychology is its Relationship with Nature

Friday, April 12, 2013

Diagnosing the "Problem"

Because guilt tends to hide behind other disturbances, we need clinical tools to help us bring guilt into the open where the real culprit can be seen and addressed. In our experience in our practices, guilt is never the presenting problem. We have never had a patient say, “I’ve come to get help for dealing with my guilt.” People who could define their main problem as guilt might as likely go to see a priest or rabbi rather than a therapist. The presenting problems of most people we see are anxiety and depression. Eventually, however, guilt often raises its ugly head. It is found hiding behind the anxiety and depression. Also fairly often the presenting problem is difficulty with relationships or concern with repeating patterns. Unrequited love is not an infrequent guest. Guilt also hides behind these painful experiences. In cases of unrequited love, the suffering soul almost always comes to the conclusion that there is something wrong with him/her, that he/she is not lovable. Ultimately, we find guilt behind repeating patterns. They feel guilty for being weak, for not being strong enough to alter the repetitious behavior. They feel inadequate to fix the recurring problem in their lives . . .
(from Chapter 5 of The Guilt Cure)
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What Became of Our Fierce Flowering?

April 10, 2013 - Just published by il piccolo editions

The Faust Woman Poems
by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky

What became of our fierce flowering?

In the 1960s and '70s the long forgotten and forbidden Great Goddess roused herself from millennia of slumber and took possession of young women’s imaginations. That cast out She offered a Faustian bargain—She would rip you out of your narrow domesticated self image, thrust you into the wilds of sex, power and creativity, initiate you into the mysteries of Earth and Starry Heaven, but you would owe Her your soul. A generation of women followed Her. Some knew her as Feminism, some knew her as the Deep Feminine, many as both.

The Faust Woman Poems trace one woman’s Faustian adventures through that time. Most of a lifetime later the Great Goddess returns to the poet.  As oceans rise and species die She demands Her due.

About the Author:
Naomi Ruth Lowinsky lives at the confluence of the River Psyche and the Deep River of poetry. The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way tells stories of her pushy muse. She is the co-editor, with Patricia Damery, of the new collection Marked by Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way. In addition to the Faust Woman Poems, Naomi is also the author of three books of poetry, including the recently published Adagio & Lamentation. Her poetry has been widely published and she is the winner of the Obama Millennium Award. She is a member of the San Francisco Institute and has for years led a writing circle there, called Deep River.

Cover image Papilla Estelar is a painting by Remedios Varo, used with permission from the Varo Estate, © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VEGAP, Madrid.

Product Details
The Faust Woman Poems
Paperback: 90 pages
Publisher: il piccolo editions; 1st edition (April 10, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1926715971
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Guilt and Individuation - Always Pay!

“A wise man will know it is the part of prudence to face every claimant and pay every just demand on your time, your talents, or your heart. Always pay.” 
—Ralph Waldo Emerson[1]

by Lawrence H. Staples

The Jungian model for psychological growth and development is called individuation. It is the process by which we achieve our unique potential as an individual. All psychological growth is difficult and often painful. The Jungian way, however, is especially so because it requires us to sin and bear guilt. The path is strewn with guilt mines. We must step on many of them to complete our journey. The guilt that lies along this path creates a formidable deterrent.

Individuation describes a person’s “process of personal growth, of becoming himself, whole, indivisible, and distinct. Key attributes that describe the process of individuation emphasize: (1) the goal of the process is the development of the personality; (2) it presupposes and includes collective relationships (i.e., it does not occur in a state of isolation); and (3) it involves a degree of opposition to social norms that have no validity. The more an individuating person’s life has previously been shaped by the collective norm, the greater is his individual immorality.”[2]

Jung, of course, clearly saw the conflict between his developmental concept of individuation and collective mores. He knew that we couldn’t individuate without sinning and incurring guilt. He explains the consequences in a brief passage:
Individuation and collectivity is a pair of opposites, two divergent destinies. They are related to one another by guilt... Individuation cuts one off from personal conformity and hence from collectivity... It means stepping over into solitude, into the cloister of the inner self… Since the breaking of personal conformity means the destruction of an aesthetic and moral ideal, the first step in individuation is a tragic guilt... The accumulation of guilt demands expiation.... Every [further]step in individuation creates new guilt and necessitates new expiation.[3]
Jung was clear and emphatic that there is a high and demanding price of guilt to be paid when one gives up conventional life and travels the path of individuation. We cannot grow without suffering guilt. It’s a path that requires courage.

But Jung also offered ideas as to how this guilt might be redeemed:
[The individuating person].... must offer a ransom in place of himself, that is, he must bring forth values, which are an equivalent substitute for his absence in the collective, personal sphere. Without this production of values, final individuation is immoral and- more than that-suicidal.... 
Not only has society a right, it also has a duty to condemn the individuant if he fails to create equivalent values, for he is a deserter.... Individuation remains a pose so long as no values are created.
The individual is obliged by the collective demands to purchase his individuation at the cost of an equivalent work for the benefit of society.[4] Only by accomplishing an equivalent is one exempt from the conventional, collective path. A person [who individuates] must accept the contempt of society until such time as he has accomplished his equivalent.[5] 
Jung’s way is essentially the Promethean Way where “sin” eventually leads to something good for humanity. In order to accomplish our equivalent, we have to turn inward to the unconscious. We have to search there for what needs to be developed within ourselves in order to become the complete persons we are called to be. Only then do we have the capacity to give back the most we are capable of giving.

A similar idea is presented in Plato’s The Republic, in the allegory of the cave, where the philosopher king goes away to the cave, the symbolic equivalent of the unconscious, and returns to give his society the wisdom and the fundamental forms underlying life that he found there. An analogy are the vision quests of the shaman and medicine men of the Native Americans and other primitive tribal societies, who enter the world of the unconscious and bring back knowledge and skills that benefit their people. In Greek mythology, Prometheus went far away to where the gods lived, stole fire, and brought it back. He offended the gods and incurred guilt and punishment for his deed. But his guilty deed brought great benefit to mankind.

Learn more about Guilt and Individuation in Guilt with a Twist: The Promethean Way by Lawrence H. Staples and The Guilt Cure by Nancy Carter Pennington and Lawrence H. Staples.

[1] Ralph Waldo Emerson expressed similar ideas in his essay, “Compensation.” He writes, “A wise man will know it is the part of prudence to face every claimant and pay every just demand on your time, your talents, or your heart. Always pay.”(Emerson, Ralph Waldo, Essays, New York, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1883)
[2] A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis, Andrew Samuels, Bani Shorter, and Fred Plaut, Routledge& Kegan Paul, London and New York, p. 76.
[3] Jung, C.G., Collected Works, vol. 18, pars. 1094–1099. 
[4] Emerson, “Compensation.” 
[5] Jung, C.G., Collected Works, vol. 18, pars. 1094–1099.

Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Do We Need More Psychology?

Dennis L. Merritt, Ph.D.

In the famous 1957 BBC interview, C.G. Jung proclaimed, “We need more psychology, the human psyche must be studied! Humans are the source of all coming evil.”

Psychology is positioned to usher in a holistic approach to the study of the human psyche, our relationship to the environment, and a truly interdisciplinary educational system. As Jung pointed out, all we know and experience comes out of the psyche and all our systems, including science, have an archetypal base. The Dairy Farmer's Guide to the Universe: Jung and Ecopsychology series explores paradigms that can be appreciated and utilized within the academic community, paradigms that offer several perspectives on the mind/body connection, humans and nature, science and the arts.

Jung, the first psychiatrist to speak of biophilia, believed that a person not connected to the land was neurotic. Carl Sagan and other prominent scientists united with church leaders to proclaim that unless we develop a sense of the sacred in the land, all will be lost. James Hillman in his books The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World and We’ve had 100 Years of Psychotherapy and The World is Getting Worse challenges psychologists to ask themselves if they are part of the problem or part of the solution vis-à-vis our relationship with the environment.

Does our philosophical base and our psychological theories and practices encompass a regard for the most basic reality - the accelerating rate of destruction of the very fabric of life’s existence? Dennis Merritt's Jung and Ecopsychology series explores how Jungian theory and practice can provide a 21st century model for understanding the human psyche in relation to nature and how it can help establish a truly interdisciplinary educational system that cultivates and develops our connection to the land and creates a sustainable lifestyle.

A significant contribution to evolving paradigms being explored by the new as well 
as by the traditional areas of psychology.
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Galipeau on Approaching the World of Demons

by Steven A. Galipeau

As we try to understand the gospel stories in which Jesus casts out demons, it is helpful to remember the resemblance between Jesus and healing shamans. To Jesus, illness is often the work of demons. The healing process unfolds when a particular demon, or sometimes more than one, is driven out of a person. This may be perplexing to modern ears, but it is unfair to the gospel record and to other healing traditions to merely write it off as primitive thinking. Depth psychology in particular helps us see that early people did not have an inferior way of evaluating human nature, health, and illness. Rather, western culture has lost its ability to see a spiritual world consisting of both helpful and not-so-helpful spirits and demons.

Let us put it another way. Today children are closer to inner reality than most adults. When the sun goes down and darkness sets in, the world of demons and monsters comes alive for children. They peer from outside windows, they hide in the closets, under the bed, up in the attic, and down in the cellar. During the day these places contain the usual paraphernalia as any adult will gladly point out. Yet conversations with many adults indicate that when night falls even they experience fears and imaginative wanderings that normally do not arise during the day.

We can distinguish between daytime thinking and nighttime thinking. Ours is primarily a daytime-thinking culture. We like to see life as we know it when the sun is shining and the world can be seen objectively. If we, or our children run across the inhabitants of the night, we like to say it is “only” our imagination. We turn on a light to show our children (and ourselves) that there are only shoes and clothes in the closet, nothing else. We rely on daytime thinking. When it fails us, which is often the case, we lock our outside doors, clothes closets, attics, and cellars, and keep our feet from touching the floor around the bed until dawn the next day. It is in the daylight world that we excel, that we are productive and at home.

We are not at home in the nighttime world. Our attempts to contact the world of spirits compare feebly to those of shamans and religious figures of earlier cultures. Their myths and rituals describe nighttime reality at length. They are so at home in this world that they have even named its inhabitants. The figures of ancient Greek mythology and the Kachinas of the Zuni Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona are good examples; helpful spirits aid healing and enhance human life, while unclean spirits bring illness and restrict life. Our “night life” is inferior, and as long as we tell ourselves and our children that our demons are not really there, or that they are “only in our imaginations,” it will remain so.

The idea of an inner world is very helpful in this regard. For in nighttime thinking it is this inner world that we experience. The characters that come from within us at night have their own life and their own stories. If we know their stories as depicted in myth and ritual, we are better able to know where our own lives are unfolding, and whether it is in a healing direction. The creative imagination can help enormously in bringing these inner realities into focus. We can become much more conscious of our inner dynamics and of how God might be moving within us.

The psychology of C.G. Jung goes a long way in explaining our nighttime world. In his life, as well as his psychological work, Jung spoke of how important it is to find the images behind our feelings and emotions. In these images Jung perceived common patterns and motifs that he called archetypal patterns. They are found not only in the inner life of modern people, but in ancient myths and rituals. The characters are gods, spirits, and demons of earlier times. More ancient people, including Jesus, believed it possible for individuals to be possessed by demons. The goal of the healer was to free the person from such influence and put him in touch with the spirit of healing.

In Jung’s psychology, a person comes under the influence of a particular complex that prevents the full unfolding of the personality. A man or woman may suffer from a mother complex, for example. Such a person lives by the values of his mother, and his feeling life resides in her psychology. He becomes ill, physically or psychologically, when this influence becomes so strong that other parts of the personality suffer. For healing to take place, the mother complex must be integrated, a process in which the psychotherapist can help. When at length a balance begins to come forth, the strain on the body is lessened.

Discernment in this inner world comes only with experience. Often inner figures that seem threatening at first are bringing healing, while those that seem good can be opposed both to healing and to God.

An example is the angel Lucifer, or “lightbearer,” who thought he could do a better job than God. Someone can be said to be possessed by Lucifer when, in the name of light, he claims to know the divine order of things in the face of solid evidence to the contrary. This demon plays on our human tendency to want to have life our own way. The stronger it becomes, the less likely it is that a person will hear God’s voice. Similarly, such a demon preys on the part of a person that likes to be cared for, stroked, and to be the center of attention. Very likely, such a person would carry on an “if” relationship with God—something like, “If things go my way and life is comfortable for me, I will believe in you.” Ironically, such a person invites discomfort and even illness: as we shall see, this is often the only way God can get our attention and help us see that we might have a demon.

Jung’s work bridges shamanism and western thought by taking shamanism seriously and demonstrating that a relationship to the vast inner world—the collective unconscious, in his phrase—is crucial to one’s health. Jung describes this inner world and its archetypal patterns in clear, modern language. For him experience is the key to understanding the inner life. He invites those in search of healing, or of God, to encounter this world through their personal experience.

Jesus was at home in the realm of demons, in nighttime reality. It was natural for him to talk about them in the course of his healing work. This is one reason why he taught that unless we are like little children, we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt 18:1-5). Children are close to the nighttime world; unless adults can maintain this same relationship, they will lose touch with the inner kingdom of heaven.

One reason Jesus was so at home in the night world had to do with the Judaism of his day. In the Jewish cycle of life, each day began at sunset, the time of darkness, and ended with the time of daylight. One lived first in night life and then in day life. The creation story in the book of Genesis begins in darkness. From darkness comes light. The Jewish calendar and all its feast days were based on the moon and determined by its cycles. Generally the moon can only be seen at night. Thus the ancient Hebrews, like most primitive peoples, were especially adept at looking into life at night.

From very early in its history, Christianity adopted the Roman calendar and began to base its year on the sun rather than the moon. The old lunar calendar was traded in for a solar one. This change symbolized the transition in consciousness that has permeated western culture. Modern science has benefited, but the type of healing ministry found in the gospels has suffered greatly. At times the Christian mystical tradition has pointed back toward the inner world and the mysterious ways of darkness: John of the Cross is noted for his sixteenth century work The Dark Night of the Soul. But such mystics are the exception.

Most modern Christians practice their religion along the lines of daytime consciousness. Whereas the Jews held their family meals and religious services beginning with dusk and the coming of night, most of today’s Christian services are daytime events. Those in the evening are held then for the practical reason of attendance rather than for any spiritual purpose. There are two exceptions. One is the Christmas Eve service, which, for a number of denominations, is the principal service of Christmas. Here is a great Christian service centered in the time of darkness. Its timing, though, is rooted in the ancient non-Christian winter solstice ceremonies rather than in early Christian practice. Still, it affords Christians an opportunity to come into some general contact with the spiritual mysteries of darkness and the night.

More recently here in the west there has been a movement to restore the great vigil of Easter on Easter eve. This does not call forth the popular response of Christmas, but there does appear to be growing interest in many churches. In very early Christianity the Easter vigil was the central service of the year. Following Jewish practice, it actually began with the setting of the sun on Saturday, lasting through the night until dawn the next day. For the early church the full mystery of Easter, the central event of Christian belief, was experienced as the time of darkness finally moved into the time of light. During this great service all baptisms were performed, and those baptized received the eucharist for the first time. The resurrection took place at night! At dawn the tomb was empty; Jesus was already risen.

This celebration of the great vigil of Easter continues in eastern Christianity. Westerners often have trouble becoming accustomed to an Easter service at night; many who attend a vigil service feel they have not been to church on Easter and return the following day for a daytime service. Certainly this inclination is largely due to custom. However, it is also due to our having become almost exclusively a daytime culture, out of touch with the side of spiritual reality that lies within nature’s cycle of darkness. Consequently we lack access to an important area of spiritual wisdom.

Nighttime thinking allows us to approach the world of demons. In his healing, Jesus used the same approach. Transforming Body & Soul: Therapeutic Wisdom in the Gospel Healing Stories examines his healing work more closely.

Steven Galipeau is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Calabasas, California and President and Executive Director of Coldwater Counseling Center in Studio City. A member of the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles, he teaches in the analyst training program and lectures regularly in public programs on a wide variety of topics related to Jungian psychology. Steve is also the author of The Journey of Luke Skywalker: An Analysis of Modern Myth and Symbol.
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including  Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry,  and a growing list of alternative titles.

Odajnyk on Meditation

by V. Walter Odajnyk, Author of Gathering the Light: A Jungian View of Meditation

At the beginning of the Christian era, the entire Mediterranean world was caught up in the throes of a spiritual ferment-not unlike that of our day. The Roman Empire had completed the eastward expansion begun by Alexander the Great and brought together the ancient cultures of the Near East and the younger cultures of the West. A cosmopolitan, secular, Hellenic civilization and a common language unified the entire region. The various indigenous traditional religions lost their hold on the religious feelings of their adherents. A merging of the gods and cults of different regions took place, and something like our New Age movement developed. That movement combined Oriental mythologies, astrology, Iranian theology, elements of Jewish biblical and occult traditions, Christian salvation eschatology, the mystery religions of Isis, Mithras, and Attis, Platonic terms and concepts, and alchemical imagery. Christianity itself was only one among many new religions of the time that held a radically dualistic view of the nature of reality along with an otherworldly goal of salvation. In ancient Rome, as in the United States today, every conceivable religion was represented, and many people wandered from sect to sect in search of novelty and transcendent I experience. It was even possible to travel to India and China in that quest.

Today, the religions of East and West have met once again. One of the significant results of that encounter is a renewed interest in meditation. I say "renewed" because meditation is not new to the West. Both Christianity and Judaism have a rich contemplative tradition. But beginning with the Renaissance, that tradition slowly began to recede as Europeans turned their attention toward the outer world-exploring the newly discovered American continent, studying different cultures, and pursuing an objective inquiry into nature. Thus, when the Eastern religions gained popularity in the West during the late 1960s and early 1970S, many Christians and Jews initially encountered meditation through Eastern teachings. Daniel Goleman, in the introduction to his book The Meditative Mind, describes the situation at the time. He states rather, meditation in the West had disappeared from common religious practice.) Goleman became intensely interested in meditation and as a graduate student in psychology went to Asia to study the meditative traditions in their original setting. He writes:
Those of us who were drawn to the meditation teachings of the East were confronted by a panoply of techniques, schools, traditions, and lineages. Suddenly we heard talk of strange states of consciousness and exotic states of being-"samadhi" and "satori," Boddhisattvas and tulkus. 
It was new and unfamiliar terrain to us. We needed a Baedeker, a traveler's guide to this topography of the spirit. I wrote Varieties as such a guide, an overview of the major meditative traditions that were then finding so many eager students.... 
Now, more than a decade later, things have changed. Meditation has infiltrated our culture. Millions of Americans have tried meditation, and many have incorporated it into their busy lives. Meditation is now a standard tool used in medicine, psychology, education, and self-development.... People meditate at work to enhance their effectiveness; psychotherapists and physicians teach it to their patients; and graduate students write theses about it. (1)
During the 1970s, and even more so today, a good number of believing Jews and Christians who were exposed to Eastern meditation began to look to their own traditions to rediscover and revitalize the practice of meditation in a Christian or Jewish context. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, for example, made such an attempt with his book Meditation and the Bible, published in 1978. In a later book, Jewish Meditation, he noted that “as many as 75 percent of the devotees in some ashrams are Jewish and large percentages follow disciplines such as Transcendental Meditation. When I speak to these Jews and ask them why they are exploring other religions instead of their own, they answer that they know of nothing deep or spiritually satisfying in Judaism. When I tell them there is a strong tradition of meditation and mysticism, not only in Judaism, but in mainstream Judaism, they look at me askance.”(2)

Nevertheless, Kaplan admitted that even many rabbis and scholars were not aware that such a tradition exists. For since the Enlightenment, reference to meditation disappeared from mainstream Jewish literature, and even from Chasidic literature, where it once played a central role. Kaplan had to undertake a difficult scholarly task to rediscover the tradition of Jewish meditation, for most of the important texts on Jewish meditation had never been published and existed only in manuscript form stored in libraries and museums in different parts of the world. The manuscripts first had to be located, copied, and their often obsolete scripts deciphered. And even then, much of the material would have been incomprehensible to someone who had had no experience with meditation.

Although the once numerous and thriving monasteries of the Catholic Church are gone or stand empty, at least the classic texts on meditation have always remained available. Among these are The Cloud of Unknowing by an anonymous fourteenth-century author; The Ladder of Perfection by Walter Hilton; The Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross; and The Interior Castle by Saint Teresa of Avila. The monasteries on Mount Athos, too, stand mostly empty, but the Eastern Orthodox Church has maintained a lively, if diminished, tradition of meditation with the so-called Jesus Prayer. The tradition is preserved in the Philokalia, a collection of writings by early Church Fathers. The Jesus Prayer (known in the West as Hesychasm) is associated with Hesychius of Jerusalem, a fifth-century teacher who stressed the value of repetitive prayer as a way of stillness and repose leading to a vision of God. The prayer consists of the unceasing repetition of the Publican's plea: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner." The shortened version of the prayer is simply Kyrie eleison, "Lord have mercy." (The technique is similar to the Hindu practice of japa, or holding the object of one's devotion constantly in mind through the ceaseless repetition of a divine name or a mantra.)

In spite of these still extant Christian meditative traditions, many contemporary Christians were led back to these pursuits by way of an exposure to Eastern meditation. One notable example is that of John Main, a practicing Catholic, who was taught mantra meditation by an Indian teacher in Malaya. He decided to become a Benedictine monk, and when he described his way of meditating to his novice master, he was told to stop. Instead, he was asked to undertake the more intellectual forms of meditation-discursive, conceptual, and imaginative. Then one day he read John Cassian, the teacher of Saint Benedict and Saint Thomas Aquinas, and recognized that Cassian's meditatio was essentially identical with what he had been taught by his Indian teacher. He began to teach this form of meditation in 1976 and founded a worldwide network of small meditation groups.

The most popular Catholic exponent of the contemplative life in recent years was the Trappist monk Thomas Merton. His Seeds of Contemplation, which appeared in 1949, was a widely read book long before Eastern meditation made its incursion into the West. But eventually he, too, became greatly interested in Eastern, particularly Buddhist, meditation, and on his fatal trip to Asia in 1968 (during which he died accidentally from electric shock), he even toyed with the idea of working with a Tibetan guru. Merton had a life-long interest in Zen Buddhism and wrote a number of essays on the topic.

The newly revived interest in meditation, however, is not limited to religion. Many people meditate for purely secular reasons: to improve their concentration or to obtain a sense of equilibrium, clarity of mind, and a general feeling of wellbeing. Others use various meditation techniques to activate, explore, and sometimes restructure aspects of their psychology.

Perhaps this broad interest in meditation is a presage of a Western cultural enantiodromia -- a turning away from the preoccupation with outer reality toward an exploration of the inner world. But for the moment, the Western scientific approach is being applied to meditation as well. Different forms of meditation have been subjected to experimental studies both inside and outside a religious context. The psychological, physiological, and neurological (EEG patterns) changes taking place during and after meditation have been described. Research has shown, for example, that even the most elementary meditation practice, repeating a mantra or focusing on one's breath, tends to have a beneficial effect on the immune system and to improve such conditions as hypertension, angina and arrhythmia, high cholesterol, anxiety, stress, chronic pain, phobias, and addictions. (More recent studies have demonstrated that meditation is not unique in obtaining these results; any form of deep relaxation has the same effects.)

The states of consciousness experienced during meditation have been compared with other unusual forms of consciousness, such as those induced by hypnosis or psychedelic drugs. Many of these early studies were published in Altered States Of Consciousness (1969), edited by Charles T. Tart. The Joumal of Transpersonal Psychology, founded in 1969 by Anthony Sutich, a close collaborator of Abraham Maslow, has been particularly receptive to research and essays on the physiology and psychology of meditation, and on mysticism and other religious experiences. Interestingly enough, research in both subatomic physics and astrophysics has led to a perception of the universe that in essence parallels the often paradoxical descriptions of the nature of reality in Eastern mysticism. The theoretical physicist Fritjof Capra has documented and illustrated these similarities in The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modem Physics and Eastern Mysticism (1975). Since the 1960s a number of widely read psychologists and humanists have sought to integrate Eastern and Western psychology, among them Alan Watts, especially in Psychotherapy East and West (1961); Erich Fromm in Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis (1970), coauthored with D. T. Suzuki; Roberto Assagioli in Psychosynthesis (1971); and Abraham Maslow, particularly in his posthumously published book The Farther Reaches of Human Nature (1971).

Charles T. Tart, in Transpersonal Psychologies (1975), a survey of nine major Western and Eastern mystical traditions, acknowledges that the Western scientific approach has failed to deal adequately with the realm of spiritual experience: "The 'enlightened rationalism' and physicalism [the notion that ultimate reality consists of the interaction of matter and energy in time and space and exists independently of our perception of it] that have been so successful in developing the physical sciences have not worked very well in psychology. . . . Orthodox, Western psychology has dealt poorly with the spiritual side of man's nature, choosing either to ignore its existence or to label it pathological."(3)  He therefore proposes the creation of "state-specific sciences," specific to different states of altered consciousness. Just as there are specially trained scientists in such areas as chemistry and biology, there would have to be specially trained scientists dealing with the observation and analysis of the experiences and states of consciousness characteristic of, say, hatha yoga, Zen meditation, telekinesis, LSD, and so on. The difference, of course, would be that the state-specific scientist would have to experience these conditions and observe them from "within," rather than from the outside, as is the case with the natural sciences. Jung faced this issue in the early decades of this century and simply opted for empiricism, the observation of experiential facts without regard to theory.

In a series of books, among them The Spectrum of Consciousness and The Atman Project (first published in 1977 and 1980 respectively), Ken Wilber has developed a theoretical framework that seeks to integrate the developmental and ego psychologies of the West with the spiritual and transpersonal psychologies of the East. The most recent effort in this vein, and one that purports to offer a "full spectrum" model of human development, is Transformations of Consciousness: Conventional and Contemplative Perspectives on Development (1986) by Ken Wilber, Jack Engler, and Daniel P. Brown.

I don't know whether Wilber is familiar with Jung's use of the color spectrum as an analogy for the range of psychic functioning. On the infrared end of the spectrum, Jung places the biological instinctive psyche, which gradually merges with its chemical and physical conditions. On the ultraviolet end, he places the archetypal images, which merge with the invisible-to-us realm of spirit. Thus: "In archetypal conceptions and instinctual perceptions, spirit and matter confront one another on the psychic plane. Matter and spirit both appear in the psychic realm as distinctive qualities of conscious contents. The ultimate nature of both is transcendental, that is, irrepresentable, since the psyche and its contents are the only reality which is given to us without a medium."(4)  Wilber's spectrum is similar, for he places what he calls the preverbal, primary processes that are bound to the instincts at the initial state of the human life cycle, and of human evolution in general, and the transpersonal, archetypal consciousness at the most evolved end of the life cycle, and of human evolution. Although, like Jung, Wilber recognizes the limits of consciousness at the primary process level, he does not seem to acknowledge the limits of consciousness at the archetypal end of the spectrum.

With the current interest in Eastern thought and meditation, it is surprising how seldom Jung's contribution in this area is acknowledged. Jung played a major role in introducing a number of important Eastern texts to the Western reader: The Secret of the Golden Flower; The Tibetan Book of the Dead; The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation; D. T. Suzuki's Introduction to Zen Buddhism; and Richard Wilhelm's translation of The I Ching or Book of Changes. He sought to make these texts comprehensible by translating their basic philosophical concepts and religious images into psychological language and by drawing parallels with similar Western ideas and religious experiences. As early as the 1930S, he attempted to integrate Western and Eastern psychology, particularly with his notion of the Self as a central, mandala-like psychic structure with transpersonal characteristics. For his efforts in this regard, and because, unlike Freud, he refused to ignore religious and parapsychological phenomena, he was labeled a mystic and dismissed by mainstream psychologists. Today, Jung's work is more readily acknowledged, and yet his psychological theories are mentioned only in a peripheral way in the most recent studies of meditation and altered states of consciousness. It appears that Jungian psychology is a "state-specific science," and only someone who has undergone a Jungian analysis and training is able to apply Jung's theories in a meaningful way.

Gathering the Light is an attempt to do just that. It seeks, first, to bring to light the immense contribution that Jung has made to the comprehension and appreciation of Eastern religious thought and practice. Second, it applies the insights and discoveries of Jungian psychology to the study of meditation.

Chapter 1 chronicles Jung's encounter with Eastern thought and his attempts to make the Eastern worldview understandable in Western religious and psychological terms. A major part of the chapter is devoted to a discussion of the Jungian definition of projection and the relation of projection to the experience of enlightenment or Self-realization.

Chapter 2 describes the psychological processes that take place during meditation. By directing psychic energy inward, meditation activates the complexes and the archetypes, with different forms of meditation activating different archetypes and giving rise to different experiences and results. The topics covered include attention; concentration; "deautomatization," the freeing up of psychic energy that normally flows into our habitual responses; the role of the ego complex during meditation; the loss of body sensations; visions of light; and the psychological limits of enlightenment.

Chapter 3 discusses Zen meditation, which seeks to activate what Jung called the uroboric archetype of the Self: that is, the transcendent potential world of being that contains all the archetypes before they separate out and take on manifest form. In Zen this archetype is defined as Pure Consciousness or Formless Form. I apply the insights of Jungian psychology to the interior developments that take place in the course of Zen meditation: the effects of the posture and the focus on breathing and counting; the work with a koan; alterations of the ego complex; and the nature of satori. During the course of the discussion 1 introduce the concept of a "meditation complex" to account for the psychic structure and energy that appear when the ego gives up its unifying role of consciousness and before that role is taken over by the Self. (I use the term complex in the neutral way that Jung did, as a "feeling-toned cluster of psychic energy.")

Chapter 4 explores Jung's reservations about the practice of Eastern meditation by Westerners. He argues that there is a vast cultural and psychological difference between Easterners and Westerners, and that Westerners ought to widen their consciousness on the basis of their own psychology. He feels that psychotherapy is the appropriate Western method for the pursuit of this goal, and proposes active imagination as the meditation technique that best leads to the integration of the personality and the expansion of consciousness.

Chapter 5 delves into the relationship between meditation and alchemy. Without a knowledge of alchemical symbolism, certain Eastern meditation texts, like The Secret of the Golden Flower, are not fully comprehensible. Jung discovered that alchemy describes in prepsychological language the evolution and development of consciousness. Western alchemy, with its extraverted bias, projected this entire process onto the interactions of matter. Eastern alchemy, with its introverted focus, projected this development of the internal flow of energy within the body. The chapter concentrates on the final alchemical operation, coniunctio, in which the previously separated-out and "purified" opposite elements or energies are reunited and the goal of the opus is achieved. The product of this final union is described as the philosophers' stone or gold in Western alchemy and as the golden flower or the elixir of life in Eastern alchemy. Jung tended to see the symbolism of alchemy as analogous to the process of individuation and the goal of alchemy as the attainment of psychological wholeness. I revise his emphasis somewhat and demonstrate that alchemical symbolism also describes the psychological processes that take place during the course of meditation, and I view the goal of alchemy as the attainment of Self-realization or enlightenment.

Two appendixes follow the text. The first outlines Ken Wilber's criticism of Jung's concept of "archetype" and in response provides a fairly extensive description of what Jung meant by the term. The second examines a recently published translation of The Secret of the Golden Flower by Thomas Cleary. It compares the relative merits of Wilhelm's and Cleary's translations on several crucial points. In his notes to the translation, Cleary is highly critical of Jung's treatment and interpretation of the text. The chapter summarizes his concerns, responds to them, and, in turn, subjects Cleary's approach to a critique. Because Cleary has no real knowledge of alchemical symbolism, he does not realize the importance that the body and the emotions play in the meditation technique described by the Golden Flower; he thinks it consists primarily of mentally focusing inward toward the source of consciousness. A translation that does justice to the alchemical aspects of the book, therefore, has yet to appear.

As a psychoanalyst with an interest in meditation, I am often asked if I incorporate meditation in my therapeutic work. The answer is that I have been able to incorporate Jung's active imagination, which is a form of meditation, in my work, but not Eastern meditation. In active imagination, people are able to engage their complexes and troublesome affects in a direct way and obtain immediate therapeutic results. This does not happen with most Eastern meditation techniques, which require a period of arduous training and consistent practice before any significant psychological results become evident. Also, Eastern meditation, with some exceptions, does not deal with psychological or relationship problems in a direct way. People who come for psychotherapy are usually not interested in learning a meditation technique that may have a beneficial effect on their life in future years, because they are now seeking relief from psychic tension or pain that makes their present life difficult. In addition, not everyone is motivated by the aim of Eastern meditation, namely, a religious relationship with archetypal images, or, conversely, their demystification, or the experience of the ultimate ground of consciousness and being.

Eastern meditation, therefore, is not an aid to psychotherapy; rather, it is the other way around: psychotherapy can help a person overcome the psychological obstacles and personal problems that interfere with the successful practice of meditation.

Gathering the Light: A Jungian View of Meditation
by V. Walter Odajnyk

Gathering the Light remains a groundbreaking work that integrates Jungian psychology, alchemy, and the practice of meditation. It is one of very few, if not  the only Jungian book that demonstrates that the alchemical opus is not only an analogy of the individuation process, but also a depiction of various experiential stages encountered in the course of meditation.

V. Walter Odajnyk, Ph.D. is a Jungian analyst, and serves as a Core Faculty member and is the Research Coordinator for Pacifica Graduate Institute's Mythological Studies Program.

Gathering the Light: A Jungian View of Meditation
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Fisher King Press
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1926715551

1. Daniel Goleman, The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience (Los Angeles: Jeremy P Tarcher, 1988), pp. xxi-xxii.
2. Aryeh Kaplan, Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide (New York: Schocken Books, 1985), p. vi.
3. Charles T. Tart, ed., Transpersonal Psychologies, (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), pp. 4-5·
4. C. G. Jung, "On the Nature of the Psyche," The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, vol 8, para. 420.

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