Tag Archives: Jesus

Jung, Psychosis, Spiritual Emergence, and Fear

Since anonymously publishing Love in the Broken-Bird World, I have been deeply conflicted about whether or not I should disclose that it’s mine, for the rather obvious reason that I’m afraid of being branded delusional, psychotic, or just a no-account scammer (I am none of those things).  I’ve also thought that perhaps everything contained in it was meant for me only, and that to send anything like it “out into the world” always seems to lead inevitably to misunderstanding and distortion (as with, say, for example, religion, to a large degree).

On the other hand, I woke up this morning thinking about something that’s occurred to me many times since the whole experience described in the book started–that perhaps it’s that kind of fear of being labelled and/or misunderstood that has kept people from being open to more than what’s right in front of their faces (or, as the Hopi might say it, “closing the doors on top of their heads”).  Aside from a few understandably frightening experiences at the beginning of my own experience about six years ago, the overall outcome of it all for me has been incredible joy, peace, and even bliss (things not normally associated with, say, schizophrenia).  There is more about all of that in the preface of the book, which you can read using the “Preview” feature on the book’s Amazon page (see below) without actually having to buy the book.

A little later this morning, I just happened to come across something about Carl Jung’s “Seven Sermons to the Dead”, which I’d never heard of (I’m embarrassed to say that, although I keep meaning to, I still haven’t read any Jung at all).  In a commentary I read about the work, I found a quote of Jung’s about the experience that began it all for him.  The description was remarkably similar to some of the things that I experienced very early on (there have been many different, and often more subtle, things that have happened since that rather boisterous awakening), and my coming across it seemed to reinforce the thoughts I’d had earlier this morning.  This is what Jung said:

“It began with a restlessness, but I did not know what it meant or what “they” wanted of me. There was an ominous atmosphere all around me. I had the strange feeling that the air was filled with ghostly entities. Then it was as if my house began to be haunted….

Around five o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday the front doorbell began ringing frantically…but there was no one in sight. I was sitting near the doorbell, and not only heard it but saw it moving. We all simply stared at one another. The atmosphere was thick, believe me! Then I knew that something had to happen. The whole house was filled as if there were a crowd present, crammed full of spirits. They were packed deep right up to the door, and the air was so thick it was scarcely possible to breathe. As for myself, I was all a-quiver with the question: “For God’s sake, what in the world is this?” Then they cried out in chorus, “We have come back from Jerusalem where we found not what we sought/’ That is the beginning of the Septem Sermones. (Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p190-1)”

(It was in particular his description of the “thickness” of the atmosphere, and the sense of there being a “crowd” present, that resonated with me.)

Finding that led me to look up again something I’d looked into on a number of occasions in the past; I Googled, “psychosis versus spiritual emergence.”  This time I found a paper written by Dr. Nicki Crowley entitled, “Psychosis or Spiritual Emergence–Consideration of the Transpersonal Perspective Within Psychiatry” (one could also, of course, read the work of Stanislav Grof).  This section also resonated with me:

“Psychotic phenomena such as delusions and hallucinations…follow clinical observations, which in western society are understood as symptoms of illness. This is based on the assumption that we understand the nature of ‘reality’, and that there is a narrow band of ‘normal’ perception, outside of which there is little useful potential. That certain dramatic experiences and unusual states of mind could be more than part of a purely pathological mental state, and hold some potential for personal growth and transformation is the subject of this paper.”

I have, as a result of the things that have happened to me over the past six years, come to firmly believe that we are trapped by just that–the arrogant belief that we are capable of truly understanding “the nature of reality.”  There is great freedom in taking absolutely nothing for granted, in not being limited by what others tell us is the “truth” (if there is such a thing), in “not believing everything you think.”  I don’t know how to explain that any more clearly; it’s probably something one has to come to on one’s own. (I do want to be clear in saying that I’m not a person who doesn’t believe that there is such a thing as mental illness–clearly, there is, and in most cases it must be utterly terrifying and destructive.)

The latter is also the case with Love in the Broken-Bird World.  Although some of the “sayings” it contains are quite straightforward and could possibly be useful to others, much of it seems to be geared solely to me and my understanding of things at the time (within the context of other things that I’ve been hearing or that have been happening).  There are parts of it that even I don’t understand, or that can be understood on many levels (or, as one of the sayings in the book goes, “…hearing, within the same song, fifteen different choruses”).

My point here, I guess, is simply that I know at this point that there is much more to things (a clumsy way to put it, but the best I can do) than what we tend to limit ourselves to.  As I was often told at the beginning of whatever it is that has been happening to me over the past six years, Let it happen.  If the result is consistently love and compassion, trust it (that sounds hokey, but if you experience it you’ll know what I mean).  If it’s anything else, my strong suggestion is that you see it as a problem and seek help with it right away, particularly if there is any suggestion at all that you harm yourself or anyone else.

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Broken-Bird-World-Dreamers-ebook/dp/B00D7V4PCS/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid

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Free Kindle Book–A Reminder and a Note

I’m posting this for those who might have missed it yesterday.  The Kindle version of my new book of poetry (which contains the five poems included in my first book, Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days, along with many others), A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013, is FREE on Amazon through this Sunday (11/24/13). The link is below.  I’m hoping to get some reviews on the Amazon page and elsewhere by doing this; it really makes a big difference.  After Sunday the price of the Kindle version will go back up to $3.99.  The print version will be available within the next few days (and will be eligible for the new “MatchBook” program, through which someone who buys the print version can also get the Kindle version for a substantially discounted price–in this case, 99 cents).

For those who already downloaded the book early yesterday, when the promotion started, I wanted to let you know that I made some late changes to the text a little later in the day–I changed the Preface, and added a list of the poems at the beginning to make them easier to find within the book.  If those things matter to you, you may want to re-download the book.

OK–no more changes any time soon!  Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GREJ626

A Rough Deliverance (Kindle version) Now Free on Amazon

I could swear that I posted this last night (maybe things are catching up to me after all!), but it’s not here now.  So, again, the Kindle version of my new book, A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013, is now free (its usual price is $2.99), and will be through this Sunday, 11/24.  I’d love to have as many people as possible read it now that I’ve finally put it together.  If you do pick it up, it would be especially helpful if you would leave a review on its Amazon page (or anywhere else, really!).

For something of a preview, you can read a few of the poems in some of my recent posts here. The poems are about things like love, music, AIDS (and losing someone I loved to it), travel, God, suicide, alcoholism, chance encounters, sex, ambition, hope, and many other things–I’ve had a lot to think, and write, about in the past thirty years.

Here’s the link again.  I hope that I’m not dreaming that I’m posting this one too!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GREJ626

A Rough Deliverance Ebook Now Available on Amazon

So I got ambitious and got the manuscript for A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013 ready for publication much earlier than I thought I would.  The Kindle version is now available on Amazon.com (the print version will be out shortly as well).  This is how I’ve described the book:

A Rough Deliverance begins with poems the author wrote as an ambitious, conflicted, and sometimes naive 22-year-old college student just learning to navigate her life on her own,a young woman who wanted nothing more than to be a “famous poet.” 

It closes with poems written by a woman thirty years older–in some ways very different, in some ways very much the same, perhaps wiser and perhaps not. She is not a famous poet, but she is someone who has loved deeply, witnessed the ravages of an epidemic from the “front lines,” grieved, traveled extensively, made terrible choices and perfect ones, over-indulged and abstained, raised a wonderful son, wrestled with anger and shame about the past and fear of what’s to come, and finally learned to see all of it as absolutely worthwhile. 

This is a collection of poems that documents a ragged, imperfect, and ultimately joyful life lived one deliverance at a time. 

The poems are about love, family, alcoholism, suicide, travel, chance meetings, sex, AIDS, and many other things.  If you read poetry, or if you’ve liked some of the poems I’ve posted here recently, I hope you’ll take a look (as always, reviews on the book’s Amazon.com page, and elsewhere, are greatly appreciated!).

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GREJ626

Jesus, Mary, Devil, Mind

Again, from Love in the Broken-Bird World:

226.

Jesus was light;

Mary was dark.

Light needs darkness to be seen.

229.

Devil ain’t no mind;

mind ain’t no devil.

Arbitrary conceptions.

There ain’t no mind;

There ain’t no mind-speech.

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Broken-Bird-World-Dreamers-Songs/dp/1489594884/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Jesus, and Loving a Heroin Addict With AIDS

I won’t be posting many (if any) more excerpts from Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days here, for the all-too-obvious reason that I’d like people to buy the book.  But I did want to post this excerpt:

Except for when I was a child growing up in a very Catholic family, I’ve never been a ‘religious’ person in the traditional sense…

Recently, however, I’ve become a big fan of Jesus—not Jesus the Son of God, not Jesus, product of the Virgin Birth, not the bloodied caricature in gaudy prints on people’s walls, and certainly not the holy battering-ram used by those who chatter on about their personal relationships with him while at the same time using his image to justify the self-righteous, intolerant, and breathtakingly cruel behavior that he tried so hard to get people to change—but Jesus the man, the teacher.

Growing up, in church and Sunday school and elsewhere, I’d heard phrases like ‘God is love,’ and ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’, and ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged,’ and ‘Blessed are the merciful,’ so often, and from so many hypocrites, that the words, and the things that Jesus actually tried to teach, became nothing more than empty slogans that I no longer even heard.

But I’ve begun to hear them again, and to understand what Jesus, the man, so desperately and ultimately in such futility tried to teach.  A short time ago I was having a discussion with a man who had made a comment to the effect that the homeless should just help themselves.  Thinking of David, and of all the other people I’d met and worked with over the years who had found themselves desperate and with nothing left that would be considered valuable in this world, I tried to tell the man that, once someone reaches that state of having nothing, it becomes almost impossible for him to help himself.  Those people—the despised, the sick, the ones driven by circumstances to desperate acts—are the ones with whom Jesus would have wanted to spend his time, and are the ones to whom he felt God’s love should be channeled through those who have the means to do so.  It’s those who have the advantages of wealth, education, health, and decent childhoods in which love was freely given, and who nevertheless refuse to help those without those advantages and think of them as inferior and unworthy, whom Jesus would, perhaps, despise, if he ever despised anyone.

People have sometimes told me that I had “compassion” for David.  I tell them that compassion had nothing to do with it—I loved him, loved spending time with him, couldn’t imagine how I could go on living my life once he was gone…

…Yet perhaps it was the fact that, by some twist of fate or destiny, he found someone who loved him unconditionally, loved him as he should have been loved from the beginning, when he had reached that point of having nothing, that helped give him what he needed to find his better self.  He must have known that it was there, as I always did, but maybe if he had been left alone and with nothing in those last few months he would not have been able to reach it in time.

Jesus, the man, the teacher, would have loved David, and he would have loved that I loved David too.  That, in itself, is enough to make me a fan.”

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