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Crossing the Dark Threshold into the Light of Day, Cont’d.

And life itself told me this secret: “Behold, I am that which must overcome itself again and again.” (Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus spoke Zarathustra)

Continuing in this series on The Thymus Gland and the Spirit of Purification, and the theme of the previous post, citing Dr. Joan Borysenko’s professional perspective on Plato’s metaphorical description of the process of transformation as an emergence from out of the “cave” of isolation into the light of day — along with my own perspectives shared in my book SACRED ANATOMY:

Crossing the Threshold (cont’d)

    The traditional way [of treating an ill condition] generally prevails as the person proceeds to undertake a life-long regimen of medication to keep the symptoms suppressed and death at bay, and it is sometimes like pulling teeth to get a person to let go of the grip he/she has on the doctor’s “diagnosis.”  This only tends to assure the permanency of the condition by sending the message to the brain that in order to be able to continue treating the diabetes, for instance, the “disease” must be maintained in the body.  As long as the symptoms of dis-ease are being suppressed and not heeded for their message, and the appropriate action to address the cause is withheld, then the healing process is disrupted, thus making the symptoms of dis-ease necessary and prolonging the inappropriate therapeutic action of symptom-suppression. Where this suppression is being accomplished, as with most therapies, by the use of harsh and imposing chemicals, it can become dangerously toxic to the rest of the body over time.

[This also applies to alcohol and drug addictions as well as mental illness. One must maintain one’s identity as an “alcoholic,” for example, in order to participate in an AA program.]

    I hyphenate the word “dis-ease” in order to remind myself as a physician, and to inform my patients,  that we are not treating a “condition,” which the word “disease” implies,  but simply listening to the places where the person is experiencing the discomfort or pain for messages from the subconscious signaling where changes need to be made in one’s life style and attitude, as well as what kind of support can be given to enable the healing process already underway.  Dis-ease is always an indication that a healing process is underway. This process gets underway at the moment of insult or injury and starts with the subconscious mind asking for the cooperation and assistance of the conscious mind.  Pain and discomfort is its way of asking.  When the subconscious is satisfied that help is being given and changes are beginning to be made, the symptoms may be turned off, simply because they are no longer necessary. In the case of a fever, the temperature will be turned down when the purpose for the fever — the incineration of toxins — is satisfied.  What thwarts the healing process most is failure on the part of the physician, and the person experiencing the dis-ease, to hear what the body is trying to convey, and therefore failing to render the appropriate care and assistance. 

   Often that message does not get through to the conscious mind until the individual is at death’s door.  Even then a radical shift in consciousness, or in the vibratory pattern maintaining the ill condition, can bring about miraculous shifts in the healing process and the person suddenly begins to manifest that altered state in the physical body itself.  Remissions of illness occur.   Life prevails.  Sometimes the answer is not available until it becomes evident that one’s life is at stake and death seems imminent. Such intensities of energy create pressure inside the subconscious which engenders the feeling that one has been backed into a corner where it appears there is no way out but death, when suddenly one looks up in prayer to a higher Source of power and the answer comes popping up from out of the subconscious, as though caught up in the sudden upward flow of prayerful energy and sucked into the conscious mind.   Like the proverbial bar of soap that, when squeezed in a fist, will go in the direction it is pointed, we sink or swim in the ocean of life depending on what direction our deepest and most heartfelt response is given.

   Dr. Borysenko sites Victor Frankel’s moving story from his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, in which he relates how he survived four Nazi death camps simply by looking up to a higher power in times of crisis, therein turning his obviously limiting circumstances and horrible suffering into opportunities for discovering the genius of life’s indomitable transforming spirit.

…In those most terrible of times some people succumbed to the inevitable epidemics that swept the camp, dying before the brutality of the Nazis and the fire of the ovens could consume them. But those who were able to find some meaning in their suffering were more likely to hold onto life….  Frankel and others like him created ritual out of horror, growth out of destruction by choosing to believe that there was some transcendent meaning to their suffering.

   She then brings it all home for me when she focuses in on the core purpose for all of life’s experiences and challenges, which can lead us to further spiritual discovery and growth: 

    When we set our sights on a higher meaning, we automatically cast ourselves in the role of the dweller at the threshold, an initiate in a great story.  We’re not powerless, trapped or worthless.  We are passing through the fire on the way to a purification of sufficient value that our suffering becomes worthwhile when weighed against it.  Part of the value of suffering and dwelling at the threshold is that it initiates or intensifies the search for what is most sacred.  For only in placing our minds on the promise of that sacredness can we emerge from the liminal period not only intact but transformed, healed.                          

    The late American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, spoke of the deep need to find not only personal meaning in our lives but trans-personal, or spiritual.  A need is like a biological drive, an instinct.   It’s part of the genes, part of the race memories that form the collective unconscious that all people share.  When a biological drive is thwarted the organism suffers in some way.  The particular kind of suffering that accompanies a thwarted drive for trans-personal meaning is a feeling of emptiness, of meaninglessness about life that can progress to depression if the need isn’t attended to.

   I love where Joan leads in the direction of discovering what is most sacred inside ourselves as the purification process burns away the outer shell of our substitute self only to reveal the authentic Self. The analogy comes to mind of a kettle of molten gold bubbling inside a furnace with the dross floating to the top to be scrapped off and discarded.  What remains is the purified precious metal.  I am, and we each one are, as “gold tried in fire” and found worthy of being called precious and lovable as we emerge through the fire of the Spirit of Purification, which stands guarding the way to the Tree of Life in the fourth plane of being.

   I see the drive inside of us toward spiritual meaning, toward the experience of union with God, as being much more than genetic and biological.  I see it as the irresistible compulsion of spirit, of love itself, to find expression through human hearts in this world, a world which has tried without success to suppress and even destroy its expression down through the ages.  This futile attempt to suppress love has been the basic, underlying cause of all human sufferings, including mental depression — especially mental depression, for it is the false ego usurping control of our lives through the capacity of the human mind that has put forth the greatest effort to both prevent love from governing human hearts and to subdue the natural processes of life to serve its own ends.  The human mind is far too small a capacity for the false ego to use in its attempts to hold back the forces of the natural world and to thwart the purposes of God for humanity.  It may summon the help of the heart, a much larger capacity, by putting up dams of resistance in the form of ill feelings and judgments.  But all the dams it puts up cannot hold back the purifying waters of the Spirit of Purification. They finally break asunder, often bringing untold suffering, mental anguish and insanity into the lives of human beings.  Even through all of this, the truth of love can be revealed. This is so on both the individual and the collective levels. The Spirit of Purification is very much at work today cleansing the hearts of human beings and the collective heart of humanity of fear, hatred and terror.  

   The false ego itself, individually and collectively, is deflated in pattern after pattern of failure, until it grows weary and tired of resisting the irresistible spirit of love.  It is in the wake of such failures that the truth of the One present, but heretofore missing in action, has the opportunity to come forth and allow the false ego to dissolve and pass away.  Both mind and heart are thus transformed by the coming forth of the angel and the radiation of love that is even now shining brightly on earth through a growing number of hearts.  Nothing can thwart the compelling and irresistible power of love to transform human beings and to restore the world back into a place of beauty, love and light.

   Actually, the world of beauty, love and light exists already in the fourth plane of being.  All it takes to know it is for each one to cross over the threshold of purification by fire and enter into it.  The kingdom of heaven is then surely known to be within.  Upon entering in, one is wise to simply abide there and from this place bring forth beauty, love and light into one’s world, now seen as a creative field to offer love, truth and life into rather than a world of hell and chaos from which one sought ways to escape.  For what wanted to escape no longer exists, and the one who has come forth, the angel of light and sound, is eternal and is not going anywhere but always lives in heaven and is delighted when received by his/her own in this world. (From SACRED ANATOMY)

I always enjoy hearing from my readers and followers. So, if you have any thoughts you would like to share, I would love hearing them.  I will conclude this series on the thymus gland in my next post. Until then,

Be love. Be loved

Anthony

tpal70@gmail.com

Crossing the Dark Threshold . . . . . . into the Light of Day

“Waves of anger and fear Circulate over the bright And darkened lands of the earth . . . .”    (W.H. Auden, September 1,1939)

Plato described the transition from the old self to the authentic Self as moving from out of “the cave” of isolation, where life is observed as confused reflections on the walls of the cave, into the light of day where one is fully engaged as a liver of life rather than an observer only.

Crossing the Threshold                                                    

This passage of the soul from out of the dark cave and into the light of day is made much easier with the assistance of a “spiritual midwife,” or mentor.  One need not go it alone these days with the many spiritual guides and personal transformation facilitators available. 

 One such spiritual midwife, and “guru” to many, is Dr. Joan Borysenko, clinical psychologist and medical scientist, who has done much work in body-mind healing and spiritual transformation.  She offers some professional insight into this process of transformation in a tape series entitled, “The Power of the Mind to Heal.” With her permission, I would like to share with you now an excerpt from these tapes, primarily for the grounding in the work-a-day world her words provide, but also for the profound gift she brings into the healing field through her expression and her deep and compassionate understanding of humanity’s state of amnesia, out of which many today are awakening and struggling to make sense out of the events of a dawning new age which we are all seeing and experiencing in a new way.

From Dr. Borysenko’s tapes:

   “The events that call us forth from Plato’s ‘Cave’ are different for each of us, and perhaps the best prayer in times of trouble is not to pray for the troubles to cease but to pray that our hearts and minds stay open to change so that we’ll emerge from our crisis transformed, wiser and more loving.

   “Unfortunately we’ve lost our cultural understanding of the value of darkness. Suffering and pain are downright unpopular in a culture that’s addicted to ‘positive thinking.’  But a lot of what passes as ‘positive thinking’ isn’t positive at all . . . .  A lot of us slap on a veneer of positivity and phony faith to hide a heart full of pain and fear.

   “The psychologist Carl Jung put it very clearly when he said that we can’t find the light by imagining good things.  The only way to the light is to go back out through the darkness.  Then we can emerge transformed with truly changed minds. 

   “The mythologist, Joseph Campbell, said, ‘one thing that comes out in myths is at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.’”

This has certainly been true in my own experience of dark times.  Another way this has been expressed is “The darkest hour is the one before the dawn.”  Some of my best days have been after two or three days of internal void and mental cloudiness, passing through layers in the veil. We may be fortunate to have had someone represent the light of Being to us so vividly and powerfully that we are able to forge a path all the way to the most sacred and holy place within us and perhaps even fuse in rapturous union with the Beloved, losing ourselves to the world and entirely into the arms of Love.  Sometimes, in such ecstatic experiences “in the light,” the path we forged with the help of another’s light closes up behind us and we lose our way back out into the world.  We leave the world to ascend the mountain of spiritual attainment and enlightenment, where we stay for a season knowing that we must return to the world we left behind.

Often we have to find our way back out on our own through a heart cluttered with fears and doubts and a mind rigidly structured with beliefs and prejudices of sorts we never even imagined were there.  This time, however, we have only our own light, which by now we have learned to shine, to light up the path leading out into the world of hard facts and experiences. For me, finding my way back out into the light of day where I could be of real value and service to others has been the greatest test of my spiritual awakening and transformation.  The most difficult of tasks has been to learn how to reach out and to touch people where they are.  I could not have done it without help, without someone to at least provide a sounding board for clarifying issues and validating my own gut perceptions and new-found sense of true self-worth.  One way and the other, both in going in to find oneself and in coming out to reveal the wonderful one I discovered my Self to be, one has to traverse the darkness of the cave where the false, isolated self spent its entire life wandering around in a solitary way.

Dr. Borysenko describes this transitional period from her professional point of view as represented quite often by physical, mental and emotional symptoms of so-called “dysfunction.”

   “Not only have we lost our appreciation of the value of darkness as an authentic path to the light, we’ve also lost the priesthood whose function it was to bring us through the transitions.  All too often our religious priesthood is as out of touch with sources of wisdom as is our secular priesthood—therapists and psychiatrists [and I would include here health care physicians] who think more in terms of pathology than they do of growth and potential.

   “We can learn a great deal about approaching these times of transition by observing how the priesthood of more primitive societies treats people in transition—whether the transition comes unbidden or whether it is set into motion by a special ritual or rite of passage.

   “The anthropologist, Victor Turner, is well known for his study of the ritual process in different cultures.  He defines a ritual as a ‘rite of passage,’ a transition between two distinct states of being, or stations in society.  The traditional rite of passageway in primitive cultures consists of three distinct stages: the separation from one’s previous state of being; the liminal period during which you dwell between two worlds, not here and not there; and the reincorporation afterwards into some new role or status in the society.

   “The ambiguous intermediate state of liminality is a kind of dwelling at the threshold of a new life.  It’s often compared to being in the womb, in a state of darkness and invisibility, or ‘wandering in the wilderness.’ The Jews wandered in the wilderness for forty years when they left bondage in Egypt, a time of dwelling at the threshold before they were re-born to a new life in Palestine. Jesus, too, wandered for forty days in the wilderness when he died to his old self, the carpenter, and was reborn to his God Self.

   “Each of us, in that very same movement from our separate ego to our God Self, has to do some wandering in exile and in this period we may feel confused, unhappy and like we have nothing left to hold onto.  If our culture hadn’t gotten so out of touch with the meaning of ritual and myth, we would know that this ‘no-man’s land’, the ‘dark night of the soul’ between the death of our old self and the birth of our new Self was grace, not ‘mental illness’ or ‘PMS’.”

What a wonderful and empowering attitude to hold toward a health crisis, or a life crisis, that might come our way seemingly just about the time we thought everything was going so well in our lives. I know for a fact, just from my own personal experience with physical illness, that unresolved inner issues come up to be addressed when the physical body is undergoing a viral cleansing, for example. One is compelled to be thankful for such interruptions sent by life perhaps to get one’s attention. It is believed by some psychologists that our own sub-conscious minds create the symptoms of dis-ease in order to alert us to the need to address important issues in our lives.   We can rest in assurance that all is well during times of crisis rather than tense up in fear of the unknown.  Healing can come quickly as we listen to our inner voice for the very specific message that will open the door to us for transformation. It is there if we are quiet enough, and honest enough, to hear it. Joan continues:

“The collective hypnosis—our unconscious adherence to the familiar beliefs that guide our lives—is broken in the liminal period, in that time of exile, in exactly the same way our own uncelebrated life crises strip us of what we know, delivering us to the threshold of the unknown. In times of transition we awaken from the familiar terrain of life and find ourselves in alien territory.  If we know that this frightening, unknown period was a necessary transition, like the transition period of labor, we could more easily ask for whatever help was needed, and more patiently hold on and wait for the birth.  We could take comfort that the process was natural, not pathological.    Each dark night and each little death peals away a layer of conditioning, restoring our sight so that we can see more clearly.  What a difference it would make if a person in the throes of a life crisis were called an ‘initiate’ and then skillfully led to a rebirth. Instead, our psychological initiates are often labeled neurotic, psychotic, addictive or character disordered, labels that create helplessness and low self-esteem. These labels reinforce the fearful story that we are damaged and less than whole.    Some of the power of the ‘Twelve-Step Recovery Program’ comes from the context in which addiction in placed. In anonymous programs, addictions are transitions between a life where the person was out of touch with a higher power and one in which the reality of that power becomes not only the force for recovery but also a renewal of the meaning of life. Addiction as a liminal experience, for those who are willing to see it in that light, creates excitement, empowerment and even gratitude for the addiction as a guide to a new, more self-aware and fulfilling life.”

It is one thing to admit that one’s physical body is addicted to a drug, such as alcohol, and to take the necessary steps toward sobriety and non-dependency.  It is another thing entirely to take on the label of “alcoholic” as one’s identity.  The statements “I am an alcoholic” or “I am a drug addict” can serve to dispel patterns of denial, but it isn’t the truth of who one is.  Such firmly held fixations in consciousness could come to hide awareness of one’s real identity.  This can set up a circular codependent relationship between condition and treatment in which one must continue being an “alcoholic” in order to participate in the process of treatment, and vice versa.  Further, one might be prone to think that, without that identity, one would become as nothing.

In the health field, similar situations arise where one becomes identified with the “disease” for which one is being treated.  To continue saying, for example, “I am a diabetic” fixes the condition of diabetes even more firmly in consciousness, which in turn creates the vibrational terrain that determines health and dis-ease in the body-mind continuum.  What if one were to say instead, for example, “I am fine.  My body, however, is having some difficulty handling sugar at this time, so I will withhold sugar from my diet until such time as I have corrected the reason(s) for the difficulty?” This, in my view, would be more accurate as well as the intelligent and cooperative first step to take toward a holistic approach to healing while engaging orthodox, traditional disciplines and therapeutic methodologies.   (Excerpted from Sacred Anatomy)

I will continue with this theme in my next post.  Thank you for sharing my meditations. I would love to share any thoughts you may have. Until my next post,

Be love. Be loved.

Anthony

tpal70@gmail.com

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