I’m quite unhappy with what I have written here, but I also feel that I want more connection, more two way conversation among the study group. So, here goes.
Learning to embody psychology alchemy.
This was influenced by my trying to answer the first question for class #8.
In the case of the Bain Marie double boiler vessel (p.41) what would be an example of the method of indirection protecting the substance from elemental warfare, loosening and relaxing stubborn resistance by means of gentle warmth?
In reading the material of this class and trying to find relationship between “the questions” and the text, and in trying to find/make sense in/of the text, the text eludes the literalistic intellectual grasper that I habitually use to transplant an idea into my mind, understanding, memory, and my point of view. I’m finding in this course that I cannot directly grasp the ideas in the text in order to make them part of my idea of the world. I’m endeavoring to imagine the inadequacy of my understanding as an insufficiency or symptom that allows an activity/experience other than understanding. Perhaps that other experience might be image-making or image-receiving, or image-awareness and I’m not sure what image-making image-receiving are. Perhaps my facility with image-making/receiving, my image-sense, my imagination, is so impoverished or undernourished though, that I must wait patiently with no expectation of reward, no attainment, (Might charcoal have something to offer here?) while my capacity moves or opens enough, or my “negative capacity” (Keats) is practiced enough to receive the ideas and/or images that reside in the material, process, experience, imagination, mundus imaginalis. Perhaps this way is related to what the Daoists call wu-wei and also to the indirect method of approaching the material and the work. (Listen not only to what is said but for how the idea is explored and expressed. cf Moore A Blue Fire, last para. page 2.) Could my need for, my habit of, “understanding” be too hot a fire from the imaginal, the images in the work of alchemical psychology? (images don’t want to be “understood” they want to be remembered/acknowledged, seen, listened to, and lived with). At the same time, can I sense that there is something in my coming to the work that is calling for more discipline? In Daoist practice, Tso Wang/Zouwang (what Zen calls “Just sitting”) needs to be learned before engaging in the practice of the Golden Elixer, or micro-cosmic orbit, which is a form of alchemy in which a person sits in stillness and at first imagines, then senses (image-sense?) and finds and participates in the activity of the alchemical process within themselves. (which mirrors that of the cosmos) This reminds me of the “desirelessness” of alchemical charcoal.
At this time I’m looking for, musing about, another way to approach the text, the ideas, the work, and myself. I’m trying to not press too hard, with my desire for understanding and knowledge (healing, power, “control”, etc.). As a Daoist priest once told me in a practice retreat, “The conceptual thinking will never experience attaining the Way[Dao]. ... Relax. When you can.” and “Don’t bear down too hard on life.” Maybe something in all this has something to do with loosening and relaxing my own style of stubborn resistance, or style of stubborn grasping for what I think to be a valuable result. Maybe it has to do with the tightness of the cultural view point within which we are working. Maybe if I were not to bare down so hard with my hopes of what I want to get from this activity, the images in the work may see me as being more friendly to approach. -More interested in them and less interested in me. From 4/17/14 class Q.5- I’m entertaining the idea that in sticking with the reading and the class some heat is made which may begin to melt (soften?) the innate resistance I experience to sticking with my unclarity. As I’m seeing it, sticking with it and not pressing or “bear[ing] down too hard” by engaging in too much “intellectual work”or self-judgement, may be a way of applying a “gentle warmth” in my approach to these ideas and images. I’ll see, perhaps in this soft approach there may not be enough “fierceness” to gather momentum for continuing. I have more work to do with all this, and as usual I feel that I have just said something stupid or confused or any number of other embarrassing things in attempting to contribute to our experience here in these realms, and in an attempt to be seen. “Esse is percipi”, to be is to be seen. And so it seems to me that to be seen, or heard, is to be (to exist). When I think these thoughts the next thought to arrive is- Hillman: “What do you do to keep from going insane? ...we try to go out on a limb. ...We try to go to unsafe places. We risk. With our minds, we risk.”
Hillman: I think that in order to protect yourself against insanity, you must every day propitiate madness.
Hillman: Crazy means “cracked,” the cracks that let things in. It’s not smooth, it’s not safe. So what do you do, then, to let the madness in? What do you do to keep from going insane?
Hillman: ...we try to go out on a limb.
Hillman: We try to go to unsafe places. We risk. With our minds, we risk.
Ventura: With our work. In our work. Whether that work ultimately stinks or not is for others to judge, but it’s risky, that’s a fact.
Hillman: It makes me most happy when I can go the farthest out. ... it is not enough to go out on a limb, you’ve got to be willing to saw it off.
H: ...something is trying to get in...
We’ve had a Hundred Years... p.171-173