Category Archives: Taos

Awareness is All

“Awareness is all” states a bumper sticker on a friend’s car.  I believe this is so true but there is a catch—“awareness” always means to contemplate that our “awareness” is not complete and never will be.  So this “awareness” has a built-in catch-22 so you will always understand that you only see part of the picture. This morning I do think I have some degree of awareness but an important dimension of this “awareness” is that my view of the world is always filtered by biases and preconceptions so that I’m rarely under the illusion that I have complete awareness.  Earlier this morning as my wife and sweet dachshund Elsa sat on the back stoop and watched the dawn unfold, in deep admiration of the experience of the moment, I quipped to them, “Our view always tends to block our view.”  I was aware that as I watched the flycatcher birds cavorting about, scouring for food for their new born, I had witnessed moments like this many times in my life but had never seen the beauty unfolding as I was at that moment.  The process of growing awareness works toward allowing us to grasp our beautiful world in more of its pristine glory.  And I watched the sun beginning to light Taos Mountain for another day, flickering different permutations of shadow and gentle light on these mythical mountains, dressing them for another day of bringing magic to this lovely Northern New Mexico community. As always, Elsa was doing her part to quicken the moment, just setting there on her cushion in all of her exquisite, innocent beauty, licking her ribs and fantasizing about the exciting world she would get to play in another day.

My quip came from the realization that this pristine beauty has been with me from the earliest moments of conscious life.  But like all humans I learned to take it for granted, often seeing not the beauty of the world but my usual image of the beauty, “my view of the view,” not humble enough yet to approach the whiff of “the thing in itself,” less encumbered by the blinders of cognition. These blinders are, albeit, a very necessary part of life but they can become so familiar to us that we never venture beneath the surface and flirt with the aforementioned pristine beauty.

The poet Carl Sandburg understood this truth in his poem, “Precious Moments.”  Bright vocabularies are transient as rainbows./Speech requires blood and air to make it./Before the word comes off the end of the tongue,/While diaphragms of flesh negotiate the word,/In the moment of doom when the word forms/It is born, alive, registering an imprint—Afterward it is a mummy, a dry fact, done and gone.

Sandburg realized that a word is “alive” only one moment, in the “moment of doom” when it is formed after which we will be left only with an imprint.  But this beautiful poem was encouraging us to explore the depths of our heart and discover that flirtation with the pristine beauty of life can be rewarding. This exploration will help us to understand how that our view of life often blocks our view of an intrinsic dimension of life.  This is what Jesus had in mind when he challenged those who live on the surface of life, having “eyes to see but seeing not, ears to hear but hearing not.”

GOD IS IN THE WATER

Taos, New Mexico  continues to teach me. I have long since learned to “pay attention” to what we think and do in our life, especially when it is a significant change. When I arrived here in early February, one of the first things that serendipitously offered itself to me was a weekly get-together with those who would enjoy reading and discussing Karl Jung. Shortly thereafter I “knee deep” in dream work again and paying attention to how the unconscious was guiding me and my wife. And I began to understand what this whimsical move to a new state at age 62, leaving friends and family behind. It was a “cutting of the cord” of sorts and an opportunity to explore worlds unknown.

One of the first things I noted was, “Where are the white people? Where are the white people?” Brown-skinned people appeared to predominate i the population, Hispanic and Native American. And for the first time in my life I experienced “being different” in terms of skin color though this “difference” is not as significant as I felt. Statistically, there are many “honkies” just like me. But it was interesting and emotionally provocative to feel in a minority. It was also provocative to see and feel the whole of a different culture and to take up residence in a house far different than that to which I was accustomed to.

There are many, many differences present which are teaching me. But I want to focus on one of them, the Native American presence here which is reflected in architecture, art, and….skin color, all of which is beautiful. Present just north of Taos is the Taos Pueblo which dates back over a thousand years. This Pueblo is officially not part of the United States and has its own legal and educational system. For more information, see (http://www.taospueblo.com)
And there are many other Native American tribes represented here which contributes significantly to the cultural atmosphere of the region and the state.

Just two weeks ago I attended a poetry reading at our local literary society, SOMOS, Society of the Muse of the Southwest. I was privileged to hear a lovely young Cheyenne woman read several poems and was just stunned at the wisdom she offered. Here is one poem that she recently published on Face Book.”

GOD IS IN THE WATER
by Lyla June Johnson

When I close my eyes at night
I can feel the rock being cut open
by water.

I hear a grandfather song
and it sounds like sand
walking down the river bottom.

In this song they talk about how even
the mighty canyon rivers began as
a meandering stream.

Beneath the gentle waters there are people.
Not people like you and me.
Stone people.

When I close my eyes at night
I am one of them
and God is the water.

Over lifetimes She eats at me
until I am polished and smooth.

She teaches me
about being gentle and persistent,
about patience and commitment.

Her voice
hums in my blood
quiet as a stream in the night
and it is a song about how
we are all
just
so loved.

When I close my eyes she says to me
in trickles and bubbles:

“Journeys.
Take them.
Try to remember who you are along the way.
I have nothing for you but these words.
Take them with you
and I will see you again when you arrive
at the ocean’s throne
as one million kernels of sand”

The eagles dip their talons into Her soft body
and pull a fleshmeal
from the water.

They sing this grandfather song with her
and it sounds like feathers
cutting into the sky.

It is a song about how even
hatred surrenders
to wonder.

Breaking my heart apart like
a stubborn puzzle of granite.

Even the hardest doubts and sorrows crumble
into bits and give way to
Her infinite grace.

And who knew that
growth can sometimes mean
standing in the wind until
everything we think we own
is torn away from us
and replaced with a weightlessness
so profound that we can’t not cry
tears of absolute praise
and run all around the river banks shouting to the
the minnows and the cattails and the crawdads
about the truth of beauty?

The truth of a God that
breathes through the trees
weaves winter from water and night
weaves bodies from dust and light
and carries us down the river of life over
and over until we finally understand
the meaning of forever.

In the language of the stones there is
no word for mistake.

Only the complete understanding of what it
means to be a beloved son or daughter.

I am the rock
and God is the water.

 

I would suggest you look her up on FB. She and many other young men and women have much to offer this world and are now establishing their roots and getting ready to shake up this dog-and-pony show that we are “strutting and fretting” in.

Karl Jung: Our Life is a “Flimsy”

This move to Taos, New Mexico has been every bit the adventure I had anticipated…and more. Yes, the “adventure” has been intense at times as I found that “literallew” is very much alive and kicking in the depths of my heart and does not like change. I wish that rascal would go away! (But, not really! He is a key element in my heart and always will be.)

One of the first discoveries I made out here was a Jungian study group that was being organized by a Jungian analyst who was trained at the Jungian Institute in Zurich. My wife and I joined the small group and proceeded to explore several chapters of Jung’s Tavistock Lectures. This experienced as renewed my interest in exploration of archetypal energies present in my own life and in life itself. Jung had a tremendous ability to explore the depths of the heart, having explored his own even to the point of nearly suffering a “nervous breakdown.” Jung believed that dreams were very revealing about what is going on in our life and will announce what our hidden issues are and will continue to do so until we address them. But in the current reading I have now discovered that he felt that life itself is but a dream, that even our conscious life is the playing-out of our unconscious fantasies and is itself a “fantasy” of sorts. This is what Shakespeare had in mind when he said that “our life is but the stuff that dreams are made of.”

Now of course, Jung was not nuts and realized that “reality” is just that, “real.” But he felt there was more to this “real” world than what most people realize but that most people prefer to live life on the surface, not daring to look beneath that surface and begin to explore those subterranean depths where monsters and ghouls roam about at will. But as Jung noted, “What we resist, persists” and so the hidden dimensions of our life always find expression “out there” in the world, usually in other people. My favorite example of this projection is what I call the Chicken Little phenomena, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” I grew up in a sub culture in the American South where impending doom was a basic assumption of life, where “the judgment of God” was always imminent, where “the sky is going to fall” was a constant fear. I now see that this subtle assumption of that culture…and primarily its religion…reflected a deep pessimism about life and an awareness of just how precarious our grip on life was. This belief system reflected a deep-seated existential insecurity which always requires the compensation of rigid belief systems. The more uncertain you are in the depths of your heart, the more fiercely are you certain about your belief system. And to consider that someone else’s belief system might be equally valid would threaten this certainty, requiring that other belief systems must be opposed or demonized in some fashion.

Here is the full context of the Shakespearean quote above, from “The Tempest”:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.