I love the ancient Greek dramas and comedies! The works of Sophocles, Euripides and especially Aeschylus I hold very dear to my heart because they are timeless. The themes they dared explore then are as pertinent and crucial now: family, ethics, love, betrayal, duty, honor, dedication and sacrifice, among so many more. Ancient Greek theater and culture represented an incredible flowering of consciousness, the reverberations of which we still feel today.
The reason for my affinity, as well as for the continuing relevance of these cultural achievements, is that they represent a breakthrough of transcendent consciousness within our plane of existence. We often live our lives focused only on what’s right in front of us, our daily living; but in doing so, we miss the majesty and radiance of the consciousness that pervades all things yet transcends them as well. There is something behind the curtain of everyday existence, and every once in a while we are treated to a glimpse of that wondrous transcendence.
Transcendent energy consciousness, as it’s been called, is both immanent (pervades everything and nothing) and transcendent (beyond everything and nothing). It informs everything within the realm of time and space; it has been called, rightly so, I think, the “DNA driver of the soul.” It is what gives motive, what informs everything seen and unseen within our universe, all plants, birds, insects, animals, inorganic materials, stars, molecules, galaxies, and the like.
The wonderful author, Anne Baring, puts it so eloquently and poetically in her book The Divine Femininewhen she says:
For those awakened to this vision, to be born a human being is not to be born into a fallen, flawed world of sin and illusion, cut off from the divine; it is to be born into a world lit by an invisible radiance, ensouled by Divine Presence, graced and sustained by incandescent light and love.”
The human mind is like a telescope, exploring the farthest reaches of consciousness. For this is our task, our very purpose for existing: to pull back the curtain of darkness and to bring as much awareness into the light as we possibly can. We are the vehicles by which the universe comes to know itself!
The chaos befalling the American Presidential election process, is, I think, reflective of the process of the evolution of consciousness we as a species are presently undergoing. We are well into a process that can best be described, in my view, through the application of Jungian Analysis and the study of our great mythologies.
The author and Jungian analyst, Robert A. Johnson, has done a superb job in describing this process in his seminal work, “He: Understanding Masculine Psychology.” I offer below an extended passage of his work that describes this evolution of consciousness particularly well:
We are apparently in an age where the consciousness of man is advancing from a trinitarian to a quaternarian view. This is one possible and profound way of appraising the extreme chaos of our world is now in. One hears many dreams of modern people, who know nothing consciously of this number symbolism, dreaming of three turning into four. This suggests we are going through an evolution of consciousness from the nice orderly all-masculine concept of reality, the trinitarian view of God, toward a quaternarian view that includes the feminine as well as other elements that are difficult to include if one insists on the old value.
It seems that it is the purpose of evolution now to replace an image of perfection with the concept of completeness or wholeness. Perfection suggests something all pure, with no blemishes, dark spots or questionable areas. Wholeness includes the darkness but combines it with the light elements into a totality more real and whole than any ideal. This is an awesome task, and the question before us is whether mankind is capable of this effort and growth. Ready or not, we are in that process.”
We are moving from the psychology of Hamlet – individuals hopeless divided and unsure – into the psychology of wholeness and unification. We must endeavor to see what we have unconsciously hidden or had repressed into our collective shadows and reintegrate that into our complete selves. Only then will we be able to emerge from the presently climate of dissension, violence and conflict that is the hallmark of humanity today.
“The key to the Grail is compassion, ‘suffering with,’ feeling another’s sorrow as if it were your own. The one who finds the dynamo of compassion is the one who’s found the Grail.”
– Excerpt From: Campbell, Joseph. “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.” Joseph Campbell Foundation, 2011-08-01
– Dr. Jaime G. Corvalan, MD, FACS
I wanted to share a little note on living out of compassion in our everyday lives; it’s easy to talk about it, but it’s not always clear how to do it.
Whenever we welcome a new staff member to my medical practice, I sit with him or her and have a short – but important – conversation on what the most important thing is that defines our practice: “We Don’t Do This Merely for Money.”
Our practice (which I call “Feeling Centered Medicine”) rests upon the foundation of building relationships with our patients out of a deep and abiding compassion for who they are, what they are experiencing and what they hope for in their lives. As the quote by the wonderful mythologist Joseph Campbell above explains, compassion is to feel another’s sorrow (or experience) as if it were your own.
We spend time with patients because they put their hopes and trust in us. To serve those in need, those who may be suffering or, at the very least, may be in anguish or distress, is to be given a rare opportunity to assist them in not only healing but attaining a measure of peace and contentment.
Attaining this is simply impossible if our aim was only to pad our bottom line.
I included the above quote to begin this post because Joseph Campbell has left an indelible mark upon my very soul; his gentleness, expertise and empathy have always distinguished his work and has always been inspirational to me. The Grail is essentially your own soul, your connection to something transcendent. The key to reconnecting with this elemental part of your being is to operate out of empathy, gratitude and compassion. I try to live this way every day – it is not only necessary but it is possible for all of us!
The heart is like an umbilical cord which mediates between the life within us and the life around us. It connects us to the life of the whole, the greater life of the divine ground. The heart is our creative imagination, born of our instinct for relationship with this greater life. The heart generates all our quests, all our hopes and longings and will ultimately reunite us with the source from which we have come. Without the heart, without the instinct to feel, to imagine, to hope and to love, life is meaningless, sterile, dead. When we are in touch with our heart, when we are connected to our deepest feelings, it comes alive, it vibrates, it sings.”
– Anne Baring, Lecture 7: Healing the Heart: An Alchemy of Consciousness, 1993
Some time ago, I attended a lecture by Richard Bandler, the co-creator with John Grinder of NLP, Neurolinguistic Programming. Richard asked a gentleman, a Wall Street banker, to come forward from the crowd and talk with him. “What do you feel?” Richard asked him.
“Nothing,” was his reply. Richard quizzed him further, trying to get to the heart of his disconnection; in fact, the poor man was unable to comprehend the nature of the question. Why? He had lost the connection with his own heart, buried under years of repressed feelings, cultural and familial expectations and a laser-like focus on nothing but the masculine mythology of power, control and domination. From that point forward, I realized the irreplaceable value and need for feelings, for the feminine, and for the need to balance the masculine and feminine energies.
For most of the evolutionary history of humanity (up until the rise of tribes and states, about 4,000 years ago), the collective myth that cradled humanity centered around the Great Mother. In this prevailing myth, body and soul, nature and spirit, were aligned in a great web of interconnected and sacred life; the feminine values of compassion, empathy and connection formed the foundation of human societies and relationships, with each other and with nature.
However, this prevailing myth was gradually replaced with a masculine, Authoritarian Father mythology, coinciding with the rise of competitive, aggressive tribal and state systems, and with it the generative values of the heart, of the Great Mother – creativity, gentleness, compassion and love – were repressed, devalued and shunted deep into the unconscious. This devaluation has created in all who are touched by it an indelible wound to the heart, punishing expressions of authentic feeling and / or creativity, while focusing instead upon an insatiable drive to control, to accumulate and exercise power over others, and over the Earth.
Such a shift can be seen in many cultures across time (including our own); gradually, the feminine goddesses receded into the background as the masculine gods ascended. In some cases, the rise of the All-Powerful Father comes concomitantly with the murder of the Great Mother, as in the Babylonian Creation mythology of Enuma Elis, where the masculine god Marduk defeats and splits in two the Goddess Tiamat, using her body to form the earth and sky.
This swing to the masculine has resulted in a loss of the sense of the sacred in life, of the empathetic connection to each other and to nature that is so deep within us as to be instinctive. As the masculine has ascended, the value of nature, of compassion, of the feminine has been degraded, coming to be associated with darkness, chaos and evil (it is Eve in the mythology of the Garden of Eden who tempts Adam and who, as a result, leads to the expulsion of man from paradise).
The values of the heart have been repressed as the primacy of the mind has come to the fore. Yet, that deep instinctual need for connection, creativity and compassion, the values of the Great Mother myth, do not disappear, try as the intellect may to eradicate them. Where the spark of creativity is buried in the unconscious, it will often bubble up uncontrollably and even with awful consequence, for it is a primal energy that cannot be extinguished. As the great psychologist Carl Jung noted, everything we call negative and evil emerges from the wounded heart of a culture.
Where the energies of the feminine are repressed and cloaked in fear and confusion, those creative sparks can become an inferno of barbarism, with the masculine-focused religions and doctrines unable to contain them.
What is required is a reconnection to spirit, to the feminine; we need a rebalancing of the masculine and feminine, within a new mythology, one not based in merely rote belief but in authentic experience.
To heal the wounded heart, we must restore to honor the values of the feminine. We must reconnect the body with the soul, the realm of the transcendent. We must live life out of the highest spiritual values of compassion, loyalty and love. We must participate in the gradual transformation of our level of consciousness, from single-minded pursuit of power to the reconnection of heart and mind, body and soul.
There is, in fact, a new consciousness coming into life or, rather, we are awakening to the transcendent energy consciousness of which we have always been a part though have repressed lo these many millenia. We are all participating in the synthesis of a new mythology, one that reconnects and acknowledges the divinity in all life, in all existence. We are awakening to the fact that we are all a part of the divine, both transcendent and immanent.
This awakening, to a consciousness of the heart and soul, is what will heal and bring us to redemption and reconnection with our transcendent nature.
The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato. I do not mean the systematic scheme of thought which scholars have doubtfully extracted from his writings. I allude to the wealth of general ideas scattered through them. His personal endowments, his wide opportunities for experience at a great period of civilization, his inheritance of an intellectual tradition not yet stiffened by excessive systematization, have made his writing an inexhaustible mine of suggestion.” — Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 39 [Free Press, 1979]
– Dr. Jaime G. Corvalan, MD, FACS
Western history and philosophical thought indeed owe an impossible debt not only to its founding thinker, Plato, but to all of the ideas, systems, literature and achievements of the Ancient Greeks.
It wasn’t merely the academic and philosophical foundations laid by our Greek predecessors that were significant; rather, it was the incredible flowering of consciousness, this magnificent awakening whose contributions and implications still reverberate through us today. Plato, and the Ancient Greek teachers, didn’t lecture in the modern sense of the word; through Symposiums and Academies, they shared stories, posed questions, interacted with and debated the Great Questions which we are still facing today.
What was it, then, that made the Greeks so conscious? It was the moment, in the early 5th Century BCE, when the Athenians decided to no longer be subjects of tyrants but, instead, to be fully participating citizens of the first form of direct democracy devised by humanity. This action changed the course of humanity forever, and initiated a true flowering of consciousness and awareness.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is the first great epic story of mankind. Written thousands of years ago in cuneiform on clay tablets. It tells th story of the great king Gilgamesh, ruler of Uruk, and his companion, Enkidu, the “Wild Man” of the forest. Written millenia before the Iliad, the Bible or the Odyssey, this epic passionately explores Gilgamesh’s struggles with the power of nature, the will of the gods, his own mortality and his relationship with his shadow (represented by Enkidu).
The Story of The Epic of Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh’s stature as a special creation of the gods: he is the son of a goddess and a human and thus partly divine. The strongest and wisest of all humans, he is also the renownedd builder and king of the great city of Uruk. The story is located in the distant past, in “the days before the flood” when Gilgamesh himself etched the whole story in stone.
The Coming of Enkidu
Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, is the strongest of all men, but he is a harsh and unkind ruler. The people of Uruk describe his abuses to Anu, god of Uruk, who asks Aruru, goddess of creation, to create an equal or “second self” to oppose Gilgamesh and leave them at peace. Aruru creates Enkidu out of the raw stuff of nature. Enkidu is a fearfully strong, uncultured “wild man” with long hair and coarse features who runs with the beasts and eats grass. A trapper sees Enkidu at a watering hole, and tells his father about the wild man who disrupts his snares. The father advises the son to tell Gilgamesh about the wild man. Gilgamesh gives him a temple courtesan to tame th wild man. The woman embraces Enkidu, cleans and clothes him, and teaches him civilized behavior. When Enkidu is brought to Uruk, Gilgamesh puts off his pending marriage to Ishtar, the goddess of love, and meets Enkidu, who has challenged him, in the street. They fight, and after Gilgamesh throws Enkidu, they embrace and become friends.
The Forest Journey
Enlil, father of the gods, establishes Gilgamesh’s destiny to be king and achieve great feats, but Enkidu is “oppressed by the idleness” of living in Uruk. In order to establish his eternal reputation, to “leave behind me a name that endures” Gilgamesh purposes to travel with Enkidu to the Land of the Cedars and kill its guardian, the fearsome giant Humbaba. Gilgamesh prepares for the journey both by making a sacrifice to Shamash, who gives him the nature elements as allies; by forging a set of formidable weapons, including an axe, bow, and shield; and by seeking the intervention of his mother Ninsun, who adopts Enkidu as her own. Now brothers as well as companions, Gilgamesh and Enkidu begin their journey. On the way, Gilgamesh ahs three dreams, which though frightening portend a successful end to his quest. Humbaba, the guardian of the cedars, can hear an animal stir from many miles away, and he has seven fearsome “splendors” as weapons. After they arrive at the grove, Gilgamesh and Enkidu send Humbaba into a rage by cutting down one of the sacred trees. After a fierce battle, Gilgamesh defeats Humbaba, who begs for his life.
On July 14, 1789, a mob of angry Parisians stormed the Bastille and seized the king’s military stores. A decade of idealism, war, murder, and carnage followed, bringing about the end of feudalism and the rise of equality and a new world order.
The French revolution was a very significant period in our western civilization.
The French revolution vividly unfolds in a maelstrom of violence, discontent, and fundamental change. (King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, Maximilien Robespierre, and Napoleon Bonaparte). In the French Revolution we need to explore the legacy that — now more than ever — stands as both a warning and a guidepost for this new millennium.
The French Revolution is without question was one of the most important events of the 18th century if not in world history. It’s ultimately tragic end, culminating in the reign of terror and the execution of even its own outspoken creators, add to the drama of what was to be the crowning achievement of the age of reason and enlightenment.