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  #2045 - Monday, January 31, 2005 - Editor: Gloria  


The Winter of Listening

No one but me by the fire,
my hands burning
red in the palms while
the night wind carries
everything away outside.

All this petty worry
while the great cloak
of the sky grows dark
and intense
round every living thing.

What is precious
inside us does not
care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
its presence.

What we strive for
in perfection
is not what turns us
into the lit angel
we desire,

what disturbs
and then nourishes
has everything
we need.

What we hate
in ourselves
is what we cannot know
in ourselves but
what is true to the pattern
does not need
to be explained.

Inside everyone
is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born.

Even with the summer
so far off
I feel it grown in me
now and ready
to arrive in the world.

All those years
listening to those
who had
nothing to say.

All those years
how everything
has its own voice
to make
itself heard.

All those years
how easily
you can belong
to everything
simply by listening.

And the slow
of remembering
how everything
is born from
an opposite
and miraculous
Silence and winter
has led me to that

So let this winter
of listening
be enough
for the new life
I must call my own.

~  David Whyte  ~
  (The House of Belonging)      

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Just as a reservoir is of little use when the whole countryside is flooded, scriptures are of little use to the illumined man or woman who sees the Lord everywhere.

-Bhagavad Gita 2:46

Translated by Eknath Easwaran, copyright 1985. To order the book, call 1-800-475-2369.  

  "You need to train yourself so that at any time and any
moment you choose, you can free yourself inwardly from
your world, from others, from the past, from the future,
from the previous thought and the next thought. This is to
find freedom. Yet if you then think you are free and have
some wisdom, this is not so. You should not be attached
to solitude or to experiences of relative freedom. When
you are neither attached to independence nor to company
then wisdom will manifest."

~Chan Master Sheng-Yen   from Allspirit Inspiration  



"If you visit a Buddhist temple in Japan you'll
likely encounter two gigantic, fierce, demonlike
figures standing at either side of the entrance.
These are called the guardians of truth, and
their names are Paradox and Confusion.

"When I first encountered these figures, it had
never occurred to me that the Truth had guards -
or indeed, that it needed guarding. But if the
notion had arisen in my mind, I suspect I would
have pictured very pleasing, angelic figures.

"Why were these creatures so terrifying and
menacing? And why were the guardians of Truth
represented rather than Truth itself?

"Gradually, I began to see the implication. There
can be no image of Truth. Truth can't be captured
in an image or a phrase or a word. It can't be
laid out in a theory, a diagram, or a book.
Whatever notions we might have about Truth are
incapable of bringing us to it. Thus, in trying
to take hold of Truth, we naturally encounter
paradox and confusion.

"Our problem with paradox and confusion is that
we insist on putting our direct experience into a
conceptual box. We try to encapsulate our
experience in frozen, changeless form: 'this
means that.'

"Ordinary statements don't permit paradox.
Rather, they try to pin down their subjects and
make them appear as real and solid as possible.
Ordinary statements are presented in the spirit
of 'This is the Truth; believe it.' Then we're
handed something, often in the form of a book or

"But all statements that present themselves in
this way - whether they're about politics,
morality, economics, psychology, religion,
science or auto mechanics - are just ordinary
stuff. They're not the Truth; they're merely the
attempt to preserve what necessarily passes
~Steve Hagen

From the book, "Buddhism Is Not What You Think,"
by Steve Hagen, published by Harper Collins
Publishers Inc.

posted to Daily Dharma by Sherab  

  In The Words of James Hillman
The following quotations come from several of his books.  

Today we need heroes of descent, not masters of denial, mentors of maturity who can carry sadness, who give love to aging, who show soul without irony or embarrassment.

Instead of adventuring forward to explore and research unknown territory, control fights a rearguard action, keeping inventory of what has already happened. It likes complete reports. Control, for all its self-assured position of command, relies on a defensive vision, and the traits enumerated--enforced loyalty, exactitude, suspicion of the hidden, watchfulness--are paranoid traits.

In any system, whether a corporation, a family or the inner arrangements of the human psyche, a vigorous "no" to the good of the whole may serve the good of the whole and increase its power even more than a complaint "yes."

Besides policing weapons, we might search for methods of teaching that capture attention and evoke concentration--images, dramas, rituals, rhythms--thereby transferring power back from the weapon to the child's mind.

The lead horse does not run because it is whipped.

Absolutism is not a ruthless ruler, but a ruthless rule--and this we don't easily remember, for our minds fix upon the figures of czars and crime lords. These images serve to keep the danger of tyranny projected onto Stalin, Genghis Khan and Al Capone, protecting us from the absolutism that can rule the psyche in the guise of fundamentalism in religion, bottom-lineism in business and progress in the sciences.

Purists are deadly, and so they know all about deadly sins.

Something always has you in mind.

"Well, what can I do about the world? This thing's bigger than me." That's the child archetype talking. "All I can do is go into myself, work on my growth, my development, find good parenting, support groups." This is a disaster for our political world, for our democracy. Democracy depends on intensely active citizens, not children.

The ideal of growth makes us feel stunted; the ideal family makes us feel crazy.

We're not allowed in the street. We have to be careful, pretty correct, not extreme or radical, and not mix it up with our clients and patients out in the world. And this slants our thinking toward white, middle-class psychology.

You can move to nirvana, but the Gods find out where you go.

Is there a reality that is not framed or formed? No. Reality is always coming through a pair of glasses, a point of view, a language--a fantasy.

I won't accept these simple opposites--either individual self in control or a totalitarian, mindless mob. This kind of fantasy keeps us afraid of community. It locks us up inside our separate selves all alone and longing for connection. In fact, the idea of surrendering to the fascist mob is the result of the separated self. It's the old Apollonian ego, aloof and clear, panicked by the Dionysian flow.

Sometimes, the genius seems to show only in symptoms and disorders, as a kind of preventive medicine, holding you back from a false route.

Picasso said, "I don't develop; I am." And the puzzle in therapy is not how did I get this way, but what does my angel want with me?

Let's call them "troubles." Can you imagine a blues singer going on about problems?

I challenge psychotherapy's cool green consulting rooms, the soothing images and framed diplomas, because they are calming and cooling the valuable madness in our society so that psychology has become part of Henry Miller's Air-Conditioned Nightmare, his phrase for the U.S.A.

Mediocrity is no answer to violence. In fact, it probably invites violence. At least the mediocre and the violent appear together as in the old Western movies--the ruffian outlaw band shooting up main street and the little white church with the little white schoolteacher wringing her hands. To cool violence you need rhythm, humor, tempering; you need dance and rhetoric. Not therapeutic understanding.

If therapy imagines its task to be that of helping people cope (and not protest), to adapt (and not rebel), to normalize their oddity, and to accept themselves "and work within your situation; make it work for you" (rather than refuse the unacceptable), then therapy is collaborating with what the state wants: docile plebes. Coping simply equals compliance.

Now when therapy decides to cure the pathology, instead of seeing that the pathology is part of the crack or the broken window, and that something is trying to get in, then it seems to me it's creating more pathology and keeping the Gods even further away. And then they break in through the whole fucking society.

The sexual fascination is the soul trying to get out and get into something other than itself.

If we could recover the imaginal we must first recover its organ, the heart, and its kind of philosophy.

The heart in the beast is not your heart only: it is a microcosmic sun, a cosmos of all possible experiences that no one can own.

The transfiguration of matter occurs through wonder.

The desert is not in Egypt; it is anywhere once we desert the heart.

The world, because of its breakdown, is entering a new moment of consciousness: by drawing attention to itself by means of its symptoms, it is becoming aware of itself as a psychic reality.

Let us imagine the anima mundi [world soul] neither above the world encircling it as a divine and remote emanation of spirit, a world of powers, archetypes, and principles transcendent to things, nor within the material world as its unifying panpsychic life-principle. Rather let us imagine the anima mundi as that particular soul-spark, that seminal image, which offers itself through each thing in its visible form.

An analyst sitting in his chair all day long is more aware of the faintest flickers of arousal in the seat of his sexuality than of the massive discomfort in the same seat brought by the chair: its wrongly built back, its heat-retaining fabric, its resistant upholstery and formaldehyde glue. His animal sense has been trained to notice only one set of proprioceptions to the exclusion of the psychic reality of the chair. A cat knows better.

Recognition that the soul is also in the world may awaken us from the psychotherapeutic trance in which we pay a hundred dollars for an hour of subjectivism and no more than $19.95 for a beach chair in whose cold metallic arms and plastic lap reflection actually takes place, day after day.

By accepting the idea that I am the effect of a subtle buffeting between hereditary and societal forces, I reduce myself to a result. The more my life is accounted for by what already occurred in my chromosomes, by what my parents did or didn't do, and by my early years now long past, the more my biography is the story of a victim.

Each person enters the world called.

So long as the statistics of normalizing developmental psychology determine the standards against which the extraordinary complexities of a life are judged, deviations become deviants.

There is, after all, something quite beautiful about a life. But you would not think so from reading psychology books.

Neglect of beauty neglects the Goddess, who then has to steal back into the departments as sexual harassment, into the laboratories as "research" experiments with sex and gender, and into the consulting rooms as seductive assignations.

Psychology has no self-help manual for its own affliction.

As civilization subsides into its own waste deposits, it doesn't matter whether you are feminine or masculine or any composite of them. We all dissolve together.

To plant a foot firmly on earth--that is the ultimate achievement, and a far later stage of growth than anything begun in your head.


Editors Note: Much as it may seem that violating copyright is our favorite hobby, stealing an entire published interview seemed a bit much to me. So I'm betting if you start reading it, you will want to finish.      

On Soul, Character and Calling:
An Interview with James Hillman

James Hillman has been described variously as a maverick psychologist, a visionary, a crank, an old wizard, and a latter-day philosopher king. Poet Robert Bly once called him "the most lively and original psychologist we've had in America since William James."  
This interview was adapted from the radio series Insight & Outlook, hosted by Scott London. An expanded version appeared in the March 1998 issue of The Sun magazine.

Copyright by Scott London. All rights reserved.

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