Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Started A New Book This Morning

This morning I started officially reading The Life and Ideas of James Hillman, by Dick Russell. In the past month or so I've been randomly opening it up and reading bits and pieces.

Yesterday I made it a point to tune into Wisconsin Public Radio and listened to local author Michael Perry. As always it was a pleasure to listen to an interview with him. There were a couple of things I took from the interview: One, he mentioned that he was an amateur fan of Montaigne. I'd consider myself an amateur fan of James Hillman. Secondly, he said that he'd never come out of the room that he writes in if given the chance. I often fantasize about that, but it's pretty much impossible right now given that I have three children. I help unschool our 14 year old son and have a 4 and 1 year old that demand a lot of my attention.

One of the quotes out of The Life and Ideas of James Hillman that gives me a better idea of what the soul is.

"Hillman's approach takes psychology back to its ancient origins where the word literally means 'study of the soul,' deriving from the Greek psyche. For Hillman, soul is not a substance but a perspective, 'an inner place...that is simply there even when all our subjectivity, ego, and consciousness go into eclipse.' It is also 'the imaginative possibility in our natures...that unknown component which makes meaning possible, turns events into experiences, is communicated in love, and has a religious concern."[pg.xix]

I do a lot of reading of footnotes. I learned today that Hillman made a book proposal back in 2002. It's title: The World's Playground: How and Why America is a Child Among Nations. Sounds fascinating. I wish it would've seen the light of day.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Are Fantasies Alive?

I wrote down two quotes this morning. One out of Sit Down and Shut Up, by Brad Warner. The other out of The Life and Ideas of James Hillman, by Dick Russell. I'm confused by them. I'm hearing in them that Buddhists don't think fantasies are alive and archetypal psychology views them as living beings that are archetypal. Perhaps, here again, spirit is claiming itself to be superior to soul.

"'...through the imagination man has access to the gods: through the memoria the gods enter our lives.' So it might be that psychological language must 'find its kinship, not with the logics of scientific reason or with the exercises of a behaving will, but with the arts.' 'Why are our fantasies embarrassing to tell, and why are we embarrassed hearing the intimate tales of another's imagination?...The shame about our fantasies gives testimony to their importance.' Our will and intelligence do not embarrass us in the same way, yet 'the revelation of fantasies exposes the divine, which implies that our fantasies are alien because they are not ours. They arise from the transpersonal background, from nature or spirit or the divine, even as they become personalized through our lives, moving our personalities into mythic enactments."[pg.617, The Life and Ideas of James Hillman]

"To a Buddhist everything is alive, including wells. The only things that aren't alive are those fantasies we create in our heads." [Brad Warner, pg. 240, Sit Down and Shut Up]

I'm wondering if one denies that fantasies are alive then one is denying the existence of the gods. If you've read The Holy by Daniel Quinn you might have a better understanding of where I'm coming from. What I got from that book is that the gods and our fantasies are beyond our minds but yet influence our actions. So how could they not be alive? I thought the gods are eternal and immortal.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Getting Old

This 10 minute video is well worth the time it takes to watch. It helped me understand my grandparents (I lived with them for 5 years). It also helped me realize that aging is no accident and with it comes a level of vitality if one has the right perspective.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

If I Had More Money

I donated $25 to the making of this film this morning. If I had more money I'd donate more. Thomas Linzey's work is truly inspiring. It has inspired me to do what I can to help challenge illegitimate structure of law that keeps communities from moving in the direction of sustainability.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Letter to the Editor

It was nice to take a 48 hour break from the internet. I finally got on to sit down and write a letter to our local newspaper's editor.

Sustainable Communities

It was a pleasure to read [Insert Name] letter to the editor last week. Why? Because a fellow citizen mentioned local government doing something about global warming in the first paragraph of his letter. Then that fellow citizen went on to point out that we can't expect federal and state government bodies to do much about the future of humanity on this planet.

A number of thinkers over the years, like Thomas Linzey from The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, have pointed out that state and federal environmental laws do more to protect the rights of corporations over the rights of communities and ecosystems. In other words, what environmental regulations regulate is environmentalists.

Perhaps this is why we're seeing militant environmentalism in the Penokee Hills. Maybe their actions are a result of the inherent injustice in the laws that have been written to protect the environment. As a result they've taken it upon themselves to do something about this in ways that most of us would not approve of. This is nothing new, of course. We've seen this throughout history surrounding many injustices. Slaves formed underground railroads and the Black Panthers fought back by any means necessary when faced with overt racism.

So this has got me wondering: If more citizens got together in their communities to lay out their visions of what a sustainable community is there would be no need for militant environmentalists because they'd have local laws in place to protect themselves and their landbase from destructive activities like the one being proposed in the Penokee Hills or the various frac sand mines to the south of us.

I think it's time for us to take the advice of Rene Diderot--the spiritual father of our American democracy-- when he said "If we look to the city rather than the state it's because we've given up hope that the state may create a new image for the city." That's what our country was founded on and perhaps that's what it is going to take for it to survive into the future.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What Family Is

Thank you to James Hillman for helping me understand what family is instead of what it ought to be.

"The measure of a family's magnanimity is not what it gives to charity but rather its capacity to shelter the shadows of its members." [Pg.199, A Blue Fire]

Monday, July 15, 2013

The desire to win and Lombardi

Vince Lombardi is on my mind today. I learned today from author Phil Cousineau that Lombardi is didn't say "Winning isn't everything but the only thing," but "The effort to win is everything." The latter having much more to do with the desire to excel.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Our Name

"No one knows our name until our last breath goes out."--Rumi

Thursday, July 11, 2013

On My Own This Morning

I finished up Hardcore Zen this morning.

"It's a frightening thing to be truly honest with yourself. It means you have no one left to turn to anymore, no one to blame, and to no one look to for salvation. You have to give up any possibility that there will ever be any refuge for you. You have to accept the reality that you are truly and finally on your own. The best thing you can hope for in life is to meet a teacher who will smash all your dreams, dash all of your hopes, tear your teddy-bear beliefs out of your arms and them over a cliff."--Brad Warner, pg.184, Hardcore Zen

I wonder how alone we really want to be in this. I think of archetypal psychologist's James Hillman's statement that meditation feeds the capitalistic-individualistic, developing ego, and personal growth fantasy. In other words, the child archetype.

I've heard the Buddha once said "work at your salvation with diligence." Why can't this be a community activity? Perhaps that's what the Sangha is for. I don't know that much about Buddhism to say for sure.

Brad Warner asks on page 184 of Hardcore Zen: "Why is it that we prefer fantasies to what our life really is?" I think of Carl Jung's statement that "Fantasy creates reality everyday." The goal in Zen Buddhism, the way I understand it, is to get beyond your fantasies and see reality for what it is. But I'm hearing thinkers like Jung and Hillman say there is nothing more powerful than fantasy, it creates our reality. It is reality. Perhaps they're speaking from the perspective of soul and Brad Warner is speaking for the perspective of spirit. And, like I've heard Hillman say many times, spirit posits itself as The Truth. Or to use another quote from Joseph Campbell, “The only problem with Yahweh is he thinks he's. God!" It's an old Gnostic saying.

Just some random thoughts this morning...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How Old?

"How old are we before we realize someone inside doesn't wish us well?"--Robert Bly in The Sibling Society

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


A few minutes ago I was trying to figure out what to post then out of the blue my son said this:

"I wonder how many times they have to predict the end of the world before it actually happens?"

I often wonder this myself.

Monday, July 08, 2013

What's Right

Ran across this gem in Hardcore Zen, by Brad Warner. "Never let your sense of morals keep you from doing what's right."-- Isaac Asimov

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Some Rumi On A Sunday Morning

I haven't cracked open my daily readings of Rumi in awhile. I decided to this Sunday morning. Yesterday's poem resonates.

Now I return to the text.

And He is with you,
wherever you are.
(Qur'an 57:4)

But when have I ever left it?

Ignorance is God's prison.
Knowing is God's palace.

We sleep in God's unconsciousness
We wake in God's open hand.

We weep God's rain.
We laugh God's lightning.

Fighting and peacefulness
both take place within God.

Who are we then
in this complicated world-tangle,
that is really just the single straight line
down at the beginning of Allah?

We are emptiness.--Rumi (Pg. 216, A Year With Rumi, Coleman Barks translator)

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Vico and Universali Fantastici

"The basic layer of mind is poetic, mythic, expressed by universali fantastici, which I translate as acrchetypal patterns of imagination."--James Hillman, Pg.7-8, A Terrible Love of War

Monday, July 01, 2013

Some Questions To Ponder Before Bed

"Every event and circumstance in this world is dependent on complex causes and conditions that are constantly arising and disappearing. The pleasures, conditions, beliefs, and relationships that I rely on — which of them is genuinely reliable and lasting? What am I taking for granted? As I observe the world about me, I can see that everything changes — nothing stays the same. The inhabitants of the world come and go. Every one of them will die. Though I see change, impermanence, and death all around me, I act as though I were going to live forever — but I too will die. My death will definitely come, and I have no idea when. I may live a long time, or I may die today. What I do know is that each day brings me one day closer to my inevitable death. Nothing — not wealth, intelligence, strength, power, friends or family — will prevent me from dying. Where in my life do I ignore change? What am I trying to cling to? What is really important to me? Am I living the life that I want?"-- George Draffan