…and in the end

“The love you take is equal to the love you make.” Lennon/McCartney

These thoughts touch upon my belief about beliefs; the nature of belief, and aim at peering into what, rather than how, or why, we have and hold them, near and dear to our hearts, as endings are sometimes necessary ideas along the way.

Along with the plot, characters and theme, stories too are snapshots; they begin, and at some point end. Endings invite reflections; of mortality, the nature of limits imposed upon us by time and other constraints, and also to openings through the movement of the story. We may ask, what happened, what did the story mean, did I like the story, who wrote it, did it end well?

But we might also ask, who am I in the story, and who am I not?

Stories tell us something and we in turn, tell them back, to each other and to ourselves. In many ways we live storied lives, in which we may sense an overarching theme, a calling, purpose or meta-pattern of our life.

We can also find the underpinnings, the ground of our life, as it presents itself in the minutia and detail of each day, each moment. We hear it in the question, “what happened?” We answer in story form, no matter how far or close our answer is to the truth. Truth, always slightly out of reach, no matter how much we desire, eludes us in spite of the hints of its existence we glimpse along the way. We experience A-ha moments, symbols, intuition, beauty, love, hate – and we may say, as I often do, “Oh truth, I know you’re out there. How I long for you, reveal to me your mysteries.”

Por los caminos de Málaga – Flickr: Endrino

But perhaps it’s the mixing of the particulars of what we do know, with a desire for a more unifying view of all that is, that begets our fall into a mythology of Endings, both of our personal existence and the story of the world. The plot of our life story drives us to our beliefs, our cosmology and affinity for the myths we live by. Perhaps we fall into belief too by design and the intentionality of the gods great scheming, which like gravity, maintain their hold on us, insisting that we too, have a part in the play.

Embedded in our telling though, is more than truth in the sense of some all-encompassing knowing. Embedded in our telling is revelation of the particular way we have of making sense of the world. By that I am suggesting that we each carry with us a certain intentionality that we are more or less aware of. The lovely Hawthorn tree in my front yard, from its seedling birth, to now, intends to be a Hawthorn, not an Oak, Maple, or Prairie Fire. We are, like them, limited by nature, historical and geographical circumstances, and yet contain a certain intentionality, ever sculpting and refining as we move toward our unique character and fate. Caught in the middle of absolutes we call predestination and free will, we float between these two absolutes, perhaps tempted to take sides.

The end of a story told then, might move us deeper into our own story. The unique and particular story living through each of us, with its own plots, characters, place and time, where we can sense intentionality wanting something from us. This wanting is, as James Hillman reflects in Healing Fiction, the play between desire, love, and soul. Soul as mediatrix,* an enlivening of events into experience for soulmaking, as Hillman sees in the dynamic of the story of Eros and Psyche.

“Does not this want of the soul reflect the essential nature of Eros whose mother was Penia (poverty, neediness, want)? And is it not this want which is present each time we are in love, whether in the transference of therapy or in the love that develops while engaged with a piece of imaginative work, a poem or novel?”

The endless desires of Eros is for Psyche, or soul. Eros leads to Psyche.

Hillman is speaking here of a patient in therapeutic engagement:

“Our example shows that he did not first love soul and then move his love to the world as a moral  duty: to do unto others. Nor was it that soul first loved him so that he could return this love to the world. The love itself changed its nature, as in the myth of Eros and Psyche. Now it was no longer his loving the soul or caring for it in Sorge, as an Ich vis-a-vis a Du. Now Psyche and Eros had come together indistinguishably: when he was with psyche, there was love that included him as one of its images and expanded “out” of its own accord into fellow feeling. Through feeling the importance of his psychic persons, he felt loved by them. There was no longer some one, a subject, loving some one else, an object.”

Hillman later quotes a dialogue of a patient using active imagination:

“It is not a question of giving space to others, or feeling their space, your patients, but of perceiving the exact place where they each are at, where they move within, what part of the house is theirs, accurately and small. Place qualifies space. The canvas is made of small soft brush strokes, the sculpture of chipping, the symphony of tiny notes. Molecules, each at an exact place. Each image is a placing. You can’t move small enough.”

As E.F. Schumacher says, “small is beautiful.” We live both in and out of the particulars of our circumstances, feet on the ground, and with every step a movement into an engagement with the images and particulars, the details that make up each moment. Love them and you may come to love others and the things in the world and see with soul, a mediation that brings love and engagement to all we encounter.

Orazio Gentileschi exposed the erotic vulnerability of the male figure in his Cupid and Psyche (1628–30)

“The soul wants many things – to be loved, to be heard, to be named and seen, to be taught, to be let out, out in the street, out of the prisons of psychological systems, out of the fiction of interiority which forces it to project itself to gain outer recognition. We know too it has a vital interest in the life and behavior of its keeper on whom it depends; but this interest is not in the life and behavior as such, to help it or cure it. Rather it seems to be an interest in life for soul’s sake. It seems to ask that our sense of first importance shift from life to soul, that life be given value in terms of soul and in preference to a soul valued in terms of life. Thus, it does not brook neglect in life – this above all; and so it is like the ancient gods who considered impiety to consist in one great sin, neglect.”

He is suggesting, and I would agree, that one way in which the world as a whole, and we as individuals, suffer, is through neglect of the small, the minutia of each moment. To live in want with an acceptance of what he refers to as the soul’s inferiority, may help us to recognize the spiritual drive away from soul towards perfection, insisting rather, that we either fix an idealized vision of the world into perfection, or have no world at all. That is very much a current running through our cultural mythology: apocalyptic, dire, either-or, nuclear-powered, climate-changing destruction which is hard not to believe in. It fuels both hope and hopelessness, moving our sights away from soul, replaced by a vision of the future shaped by our idealized beliefs.

“No psychological act can fully satisfy, no interpretation truly click like a key in a lock, no relationship of souls complete the lack and failure that reflects the essence of psyche. Imperfection is in its essence, and we are complete only by being in want. There will always be a mistake which is precisely what gives value to psychotherapeutic courage.”

Yes, the courage to live in the mess of our lives, the wounds that never quite heal, the others we can’t always help, the horrors taking place daily on the world stage, and to live with the intentionality of our unique character and calling.

All quotes from Hillman, James (2012-02-14). Healing Fiction. Spring Publications, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

*My term, not Hillman’s, used here specifically for its feminine, but not necessarily religious connotation.

36 thoughts on “…and in the end

  1. I’m moved to just share a true inward experience from a few years ago. It was a visitation, while I was in that heightened state between sleeping and waking. A beautiful Being I can hardly describe–olive toned but age or gender not distinguished–asks me directly, “So, how are things going out there?” I pause and then the answer that comes through me is, “There are alot of People practicing alot of different religions. But most people are still afraid of Death.” This beautiful Visitor also paused, then stated simply: “Next time, we won’t DO Religion.” I awoke, stunned!

    It is often religion that imparts its Story to us of who we Are, where we came from, where we are going, and how we ‘should’ get there. Yet true Soul-searching, deep spirituality or even mysticism, involves going far beyond that sort of Story. Who are we Deeply? Who am I in relation to the I AM THAT? Here we must forge our own stories in the cauldron of Experience. We cannot shy away from Ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Linda,

      Thanks so much for sharing your visitation experience here. That’s very powerful stuff. I was struck by the visit coming between sleep and waking. I’ve had visitations then too! I, too, have awoken stunned by a presence with a clear message.

      One of mine came at a time in which I had been having frequent dreams of a very frightening nature. They were lucid dreams in which an evil presence was in the house and I felt that I must wake up, but in the dream, when I did wake up I was still in a dream, but a dream of waking.

      One morning, while it was still dark, and I was almost awake, and I could feel the evil presence, I suddenly heard a woman’s gentle voice say to me, “he’s gone now, he won’t bother you anymore.” So far, I have not felt the evil presence in the house.

      I love that you were told “…most people are afraid of death.” I often think that the fear of death accounts for a lot of underlying misery in the world and can drive people to despair when it’s unrecognized.

      Not doing formal religion is very appealing these days, especially as it comes to light how much corruption collects inside closed structures.

      Although I have joined more churches than I care to admit, I have left the same number. 🙂 Not so much because of the corruption, because there’s corruption in every structured organization from schools to governments, but more because of what you point out; that true experience of transcendence is an experience and not a membership. It can’t be formalized, although an individual’s practice can be somewhat formalized.

      No one can tell you how chocolate tastes that in any way resembles your experience of tasting chocolate. So, yes, as you say, we cannot shy away from ourselves. I would add, from having direct experience of all that life’s opportunities offer.

      I have often wondered though if religions spring from an attempt to formalize transcendent experience, to package it for mass consumption. Perhaps our collective nature and desire to congregate invite the structuring of a common story that then rigidifies into a belief system.

      I am wondering if the story, or cosmology comes first and then becomes structured into religious beliefs and formal practice.

      Thanks again for sharing such a wonderful experience and insight.
      Debra

      Like

      • Thanks Debra,
        i like your metaphor about eating chocolate versus being told how chocolate may taste to someone else.
        I have explored various religions and am a member now for over 40 years of Eckankar, which has never become a box for me but remains always an invitation to greater and greater individualized experience. But everyone is where they are at and makes their own way from Here. I believe spirituality is in a large sense independent of any religious structure, although a religious structure aimed at try helping people experience spirituality rather than aiming to constrain or limit their freedom of belief or package their awareness may be a better path to follow for a spiritual adventurer. I love Rumi poetry as well and find much there of my own belief and practice.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Although I am not currently participating in any structured religion, I have definitely benefitted from my involvement in all of the religions I have been exposed to.

        Maybe that’s why I don’t harbor a lot of hostility to religion. I think so-called sheep will be sheep, no matter which pasture they graze in. 🙂 I would agree though that modern times, in western cultures anyway, have taken away the license that caused much of the harm that religious structures in the past could inflict on individuals. For that I am grateful.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This post spoke deeply to me Debra.. So many of us think we are caught within the story of our lives.. And many I think have become trapped within their caricatures.. Playing roles expected of them,
    We are conditions throughout life from our parents, our education, our peers in limiting ourselves to the beliefs we were taught..
    Monica picked the very same line that jumped out at me.. We are all of us searching for something within our stories.. We each wish to live happy ever after endings.. WE think this is by finding the Mr or Mrs Right.. We each search for Love thinking it will make us Happy or happier..
    And yet very often we chastise ourselves, and think ourselves unworthy..
    Sometimes we but need only look at our reflections to see that which we seek is not external.. But looking within at our own beginnings our own story of self..

    I wonder how many of us can with hand on heart say we love ourselves.. Its something I am constantly working on..
    Shedding the layers of those ingrained thoughts passed on an believed by our inner self often takes time and courage to face and to heal…

    How it ends is up to us… For we are the only ones who can change our stories . I hope I am now starting to write my own new chapter in my own ending.. 🙂

    Brilliant post Debra.. loved the excepts too.. a book to look out for… Many thanks.. Love Sue xox

    Like

  3. Debra,
    “The soul wants many things – to be loved, to be heard, to be named and seen” – this is most resonant for me today and I could never suspect this could be achieved by creating a community with the “online souls” one has never met in flesh.
    Thank you so much for spreading the love.
    Everything you write is seen and heard by me with utmost devotion and attention.
    Monika

    Like

    • Likewise Monika. Your writing has filled in so many gaps in my understanding of mythology. Your love of the things you write about always shines through.

      I am grateful for our engagement and it surprises me sometimes how much it means to me.

      Debra

      Like

  4. ‘. . . we each carry with us a certain intentionality that we are more or less aware of. . . ‘

    Here, I think Debra, you hit upon the heart of the thing; the force within that crafts the narratives, forges the beliefs, aspires to a chosen cosmological destiny, or seeks to avoid the inevitable annihilation of body, mind and self; that is, intention.

    And yet, as you correctly observe, there is indeed an inescapable intentionality of a sorts in each of our psycho-physical forms, and in those of the birds, or the trees, or the bats. As Thomas Nagel once famously asked, ‘what is it like to be a bat?’; what is the experience of intentionality as read through the sentience of the bat? We can never know, and yet this, it seems to me, is an unproblematic intentionality; it is an intent driven by nothing other than itself; that being the true nature of the bat.

    We might say that intentionality of the problematic kind is a uniquely(?) human, and often dubiously beneficial quality. Our task, if the individual’s inherent intentionality intends as much (ha!), is to sort the good from the ill intention, and abandon the latter.

    In being gifted language, and so conceptual frameworks to play with, we humans have a certain license to corrupt the innately authentic intentionality which, one has no particular reason to suspect, is not capable of guiding us sufficiently through life. And yet we won’t permit of trusting in our innate purity of intent, and instead go about painstakingly crafting our little stories, or at least making chapter lists before the words are written.

    ‘And in the end’, as the song goes, our intentionality is what makes of us a pleasing arc of a story, one that may be remembered lovingly, or instead, a dense cacophony of meaninglessness, signifying nothing but its own loveless self.

    Hariod. ❤

    Like

    • Dear Hariod,
      Thanks so much for your inspiring words. I love this:

      “…it is an intent driven by nothing other than itself; that being the true nature of the bat.”

      So true, and very mysterious, and as you point out, easy to resist our nature. We can betray ourselves perhaps easier than other animals through neglect of either the body, heart, mind or soul nature, or combination thereof.

      Language is so tricky, yes? I often think of it as a blessing and a curse. 🙂

      Thanks so much for adding your insights here!
      Love,
      Debra

      Like

      • ‘Language is so tricky’ Indeed so Debra.

        I think Wittgenstein might have been onto something with his famous dictum – ‘Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one should remain silent.’

        And in echoing Wittgenstein, his colleague Frank Ramsey helpfully added – ‘What we can’t say we can’t say, and we can’t whistle it either.’

        Still, we can all hum along to The Beatles can’t we? 😉

        Hariod. ❤

        Like

      • Ha Ha, drummers have a thing similar to that. If you can’t hum it, you can’t play it.

        There’s probably more than a few times I wished I were silent 🙂

        Yes, here’s to the Beatles Hariod! I’m humming along with ya.

        xox
        D

        Like

  5. Thank you for this Debra, you touched on many things on my mind. Being present with soul, owning our imperfection and risking love anyway, finding and living out our calling. I further like your questioning of the collective focus on impending apocalypse. I continually want to explore Eros and Psyche more, and never realized there is a version in which Eros is the child of Penia. I find the version fascinating wherein Eros is primordial at the beginning of time (after Chaos, Gaia, and Tartarus), and also the version in which Eros is the child of Nyx, or Night. with gratitude, Gray

    Like

    • Dear Gray,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. These things have been on my mind for some time. I so appreciate Hillman for bringing his perspective on Eros and Psyche to us. That love seeks soul is such a rich way to remind myself that each deepens and enriches the other. Those Greeks left us with so much, so many different ways to view the primary forces of the world, yes?
      xxx
      Debra

      Like

  6. Pingback: “I am ill because of wounds deep to the soul, to the deep emotional self…” | I Dont Want To Talk About It

  7. Yes, the courage to live in the mess of our lives, the wounds that never quite heal, the others we can’t always help, the horrors taking place daily on the world stage, and to live with the intentionality of our unique character and calling.

    Yes this is the human condition. The Course in Miracles often describes the illusion of separation between us. When we live in separateness, there is always a state of longing.

    Great post Deb. Hope you had a good weekend and are ready for the Full Moon.

    love,
    Linda

    Like

    • Dear Linda,

      Thanks so much for sharing your insights. Yes, I suppose our current culture doesn’t, for the most part anyway, support the deep sharing and connectedness we are capable of. I admit to my own occasional doubt and as well, would hesitate to say too much about some of my experiences, at least in some circles.

      And yet, there’s just been too many non-ordinary states experienced to not honor them in the ways that I can.

      Ready for the big moon, or ready as ever. I have been perfectly rested on 5-6 hours sleep for the last few days! Woohoo!
      Love,
      Debra

      Like

      • What do you mean regarding your hesitation? Is it to share your doubts or share your experiences? I hope that this circle is safe for you. I hope you get as much sleep as your body and soul require 🙂

        xx Linda

        Like

      • Oh yes, I would never hesitate to share with my friends here. I was thinking more of some of my family members, parents in particular, and some co-workers and a few local friends.

        The amazing thing about moon energy is that it gives me a lift like nothing else! When I was much younger, I didn’t make the correlation to moon cycles, but with age I can nearly tell without looking at the moon about where we are in the cycle. I don’t understand it, but I have a natural intuition for cycles of time. I don’t wear a watch and usually can tell you what time it is within around 10-15 minutes, oftentimes less.

        Maybe a Saturn placement? You might know about that. It could also be something learned from childhood. My dad is very time conscious, but he always wears a watch. But he did instill in us a sense of time. Who knows though? 🙂

        Like

      • Maybe a Saturn placement, ha! Clearly you are revving up your astro knowledge. I looked at your chart and I do not see a clear reason but find it fascinating. I have Saturn in Cap which is the best place for Saturn and I must wear a watch. I am always looking for clocks . I need that orientation. Maybe it is because time matters t o me and I can get spacey and lose that grip. You might want to write more about your gift. Clearly you are very tuned in.

        Like

  8. Rich and beautiful as always, Debra. You put to words so well some of my own thoughts in the writing of The Power of Story:

    “stories too are snapshots; they begin, and at some point end. Endings invite reflections; of mortality, the nature of limits imposed upon us by time and other constraints”

    Beautiful quote on the many desires of the soul. It’s neat we get to satisfy some of those desires in the blogging. =)

    Xxx
    Diana

    Like

  9. “Yes, the courage to live in the mess of our lives, the wounds that never quite heal, the others we can’t always help, the horrors taking place daily on the world stage, and to live with the intentionality of our unique character and calling.”

    I love this sentence, because it sums up what is disturbing, what feels so confusing and what we (or I) want to run away from or worry about endlessly. But having the courage to live with it, and just be, that feels so helpful to read, and particularly today, thank you.

    Like

    • Dear Anonymous,
      Thank you for reading here and for your kind words. I am happy to hear that found something needed here today.

      I am with you, finding things disturbing, troubling and it’s hard some days to not to feel deeply saddened about the trouble in the world, or even in one’s life.
      Debra

      Like

  10. Debra, wonderful post. Reminds me of:

    There either is or is not, that’s the way things are. The colour of the day. The way it felt to be a child. The saltwater on your sunburnt legs. Sometimes the water is yellow, sometimes it’s red. But what colour it may be in memory, depends on the day. I’m not going to tell you the story the way it happened. I’m going to tell it the way I remember it.

    — Great Expectations (1998) directed by Alfonso Cuarón

    Liked by 1 person

Your comments welcome here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s