from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Friday, 7 June 2013

holding down the demon

In the New Age movement there's that irritating, because smug, but also irritating because true, aphorism: 'There's no growth without pain'. 

In response to this, my friend Anne*, with whom I shared a workshop in the top draughty attic of an old mill building back in the days when I was a shoemaker, was fond of quoting that line by Moore or Cook, I can't remember which (and nor can I remember which of them was Dudley or which Peter – was it? –, not being a TV-owner and so only vaguely being aware who they were): 'I'd rather be stunted by pleasure than grow through pain'. This has a certain ring to it and makes me smile.

By the way, lest anyone thinks I'm in the throes of pain and despair, not so; this is more a holding post while I whittle down the many words I want to write about Weighty Things to a blog-post size, and can drag myself away from my new regime that includes rather a lot of rest in a hammock, and the occasional page addition to my newest creative project.

But I do think a lot about consciousness (pretentious? Moi?), so, carrying on the theme of the post about kindness, below is this perennial little nugget from Dr C G Jung.

'There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.'

The third sentence in my view is a bit of a firecracker, given how many people in the spiritual field think that it's enough to focus on 'bringing in the light' (and I'm not knocking it; we sure need as much light as possible in this poor fractured world) and avoiding the darkness; but wholeness, which is what we're actually after, I think, can't be really achieved without facing our shadows, demons and terrors, the drives from the unconscious; and owning up to and then integrating rather than sidelining them. 

The trouble with the latter, sidelining, is that they become split-off little cluster bombs that others cop as we fire them off in the shape of criticisms, snide remarks, negative perceptions, sarcasms and barbs – projections of our own dark stuff, in other words, of which we're not conscious; and because we're not conscious of them, we don't notice how they take others down. (They can take us down, too, given that quite often we direct our negative views and beliefs at ourselves as well; and there is also undeniably a rather karmic boomerang effect to the negative stuff we put out in the world, if we have the eyes to see it in terms of cause and effect, which is really all karma is about. If I voice my negativity at another, is it any surprise that I receive it back?)

What's more, holding down our own personal little demons takes so much psychic energy that we also lose our ability for joy, and often our creative energy, too.

Or as I said myself once, and I'm rather proud of it: 'Because we have suppressed the dark, we cannot bear the light.'

Much better to bring the demons, one way or another, into the light of consciousness.

And remember the poet Rilke, who feared that if he was treated for his mental ill-health, his 'angels' would desert him along with his 'demons'? Far better to use that unconscious energy wisely, and turn it into the gold of conscious creative expression...


*Anne is a tapestry maker. She's responsible for this wonderful image on the front of my recent poetry collection All the Missing Names of Love:


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