The following story, called The Rainmaker, was told to the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung by Richard Wilhelm (1873-1930). Wilhelm was a German sinologist, theologian, and missionary who lived in China for 25 years. He was fluent in spoken and written…
Jayne and I are starting to teach online meditation classes on the Full Moon of the Guru, on the 5th of July 2020 (Sydney time). The aim of these classes is first to teach techniques that charge the powers of…
Here we are in this difficult place, between coping with the effects of isolation and navigating our way in an unsafe world. This in-between zone is not only a harsh new reality but also a dramatic metaphor for the changes…
The Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico and Brazil, November 2, 2019.
Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. It has become a national symbol and as such is taught (for educational purposes) in the nation’s schools. Many families celebrate a traditional “All Saints’ Day” associated with the Catholic Church.
Halloween is a fun celebration mostly for children to dress as ghosts and ghouls and delightfully spook neighbors. The Day of the Dead is more personal and familial. It’s aimed at remembering the departed, the loved and unloved.
And why not celebrate our dead, remember, and commemorate?
Your reasons need not be religious or cultural. Reasons can be found in the origin of the words, commemorate, memorable, memorial, remember, and memory itself. The Latin root for these is memor, meaning “mindful”, and the Greek word mermēra, meaning “care”.
– Merriam-Webster Dictionary
We remember to be mindful of and to care for the dead. Just one day, before we forget again.
Gone And Forgotten.
Obsessed with the here and now, the new and the better, we forget the past and the departed. It’s as though we suffer mass-amnesia.
Prolific intellectual, art critic, and poet, Clive James addressed this in his tome Cultural Amnesia, published in 2007.
Shining a light on the legacies of public figures that have shaped the culture and thinking of this century, James’ central idea of the book is that cultural amnesia is a deficit that touches us all in the Western world. He traces the origins of forgetting to the mass-trauma and ongoing grief of World War 2. We are compelled to forget the inhumanity of the Holocaust, and yet, in doing so, we are impoverished both culturally and personally.
This shared forgetting causes us to neglect the history that created our here and now, the cosmic soup in which we all swim.
We neglect to even know of the public lives whose legacies we benefit from, whether by liberation, peace, beauty, or empowerment. We forget our teachers, those accessible gurus who lit our path. In a hurry to become the teacher, we overlook rightful homage to the blessings bestowed upon us. We forget grandparents and ancestors who created us, whose essence and, to an extent, superficial characteristics and temperament, we embody throughout our mortal lives.
We forget the past not only because of cultural amnesia caused by trauma, but because we prefer tangible, finite, knowable things. The Western world is focused on material living. Unless we seek it consciously, the unknown makes us feel insecure.
Death is a mystery. Without attention to the mysteries, we are poorer. As Joseph Campbell wrote in The Power of Myth, “It’s important to live life with the experience, and therefore the knowledge, of its mystery and of your own mystery. This gives life a new radiance, a new harmony, a new splendor.”
Radiance and splendor are essential to wellbeing. Without them, we are possessed by mundanity.
The Fecund Void.
“Into the void of silence, into the empty space of nothing, the joy of life is unfurled.”
— C. S. Lewis
The void is more than half of our conscious existence.
Medical science proves that purpose keeps you young, fit, and ALIVE!
One of the great satisfactions in life is to be fully aware of your life’s purpose. Equally, one of the great sufferings is to be ignorant of it.
Although the latter is far more common, many people give up pursuing their purpose too early and settle for less.
The question, ‘what is your life purpose’, can overwhelm us with anxiety, self-doubt, and existential angst.
People can become embarrassed and bewildered when the topic arises. Memories of failed efforts, regrettable life choices and a low opinion of potentialities can make us reluctant to venture there.
It can feel easier and safer to remain gilded to our habits, psychological patterns, and external structures even if they’re working against our best interests.
And it can feel destabilizing and risky to respond to the subtle voice of our inner calling because it almost always wants us to change and grow in an uncomfortable way.
You can resist your life purpose for years (or a lifetime) but, as many wisdom-keepers have advised over the centuries, a higher purpose can revolutionize your life.
Now medical science is substantiating this old wisdom and proving that life purpose directly impacts health and wellbeing.
Purpose as medicine
Various studies over the last decade show that a purposeful life positively influences:
- Psychological well-being
- Healthy brain function
- Cardiovascular health
- Muscle strength
- Sound sleep
The message is clear, life purpose is not something to be pursued at a (leisurely) later time.
Nor is it a luxury or indulgence only available to a talented few.
Life purpose is your individual gift. When discovered and expressed, it brings vitality, meaning, and satisfaction.
Within many yogic and tantric traditions, certain seasons, months, and times of the day are given special importance.
They are ‘auspicious’ times when cosmic energies are heightened and, as such, support psycho-spiritual practice. These auspicious moments in time assist us in achieving positive results. For example, dawn and dusk are said to be ideal times for yoga and meditation.
The festival of Navarātri or Nine Nights (‘nav’ is nine and ‘rātri’ is nights) is one of the great ceremonies in the lives of Hindus in India. The exact time of this celebration varies according to the lunar calendar. It begins on a dark moon in the Indian autumn (in the month of Ashwin, usually in October) and ends ten days after. In 2018 Navaratri started on the 8th of October (depending on which part of the world and time zone you live in).
This period of The Nine Nights is devoted to invoking The Great Mother Goddess, The Divine Creative Power, or Shakti, the creator and supporter of the universe. She is most closely identified with Durga, an exquisitely beautiful goddess who rides a lion, and who wields in her many hands’ awesome weapons, including the ‘shul’ (pike), ‘chakra’ (wheel), ‘parashu’ (ax), and ‘talvar’ (sword).
Durga is said to be the manifestation of the power of all the goddesses that, long ago, faced a terrible and irresistible demon called Mahishasura.
Mahishāsura is a mythic representation of the human ego in its demonic form
Many yogis do not see Navaratri as a religious process, but rather as a psycho-spiritual one, and a unique opportunity for yogic practice.
They adopt certain practices and rituals to understand their psychological shadow and to confront their egos.