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Thursday, April 16, 2015

What's the Frequency, Kenneth?

Rose Window of Notre Dame Cathedral
Tea is our Benzedrine, yah huh. Every day a new tea company opens up. Well, maybe a dozen new tea companies. And they all have a new Zen logo and Zen photos of teas that suggest meditation. My fellow tea drunks post similar photos and so do I, pretty photos of tea, like icons meant to draw us to our higher selves. Or that suggest a world more serene than the one we live in, which might include mountains in China and greenery in Japan. A more honest self portrait might be a tea drunk hunched over a gaiwan surrounded by piles of spent leaves. But that is not the side of tea most people want to see or get in touch with. In a recent post, I explored why Qi might be a difficult idea to import into the west as a whole. By "whole" I mean for people who don't drink tea or do yoga. Now I want focus more on tea drinkers and ideas of collective consciousness. Tea drinkers may want to tune in to qi, as it were, but finding the door can be a challenge. I know it was so for me.

Ideas of the Collective Consciousness

Every culture has deeply embedded ideas. Every child raised within a culture carries a tradition of ideas that are transformative. Most of these ideas are very old, and run across subcultures in different forms. Carl Jung worked with transformation within the field of psychology by looking at cultural "archetypes," recognizing that common ideas are the agents of history and change, both collective and personal. Iconic ideas, or ideas of the religious hero, require centuries to develop deeply into our collective unconscious.

Qi is an idea of the collective consciousness in the eastern part of our planet via Buddhism and other religions and philosophies even older. Today the notion of Qi is more Sexy for the west than our own collective concept of the Holy Spirit or Shekinah. Our culture developed and at the same time wounded our idea of spiritual energy. The words Holy Spirit are enticing and embarrassing because of both historic understanding and subsequent wounding.

Tibetan Sand painting
Likewise, God is a relationship both developed and wounded to the point where culturally and individually we almost cannot say the word anymore. Qi is the same idea without the Baggage. We trade the languages of religion for languages of science. Science can serve as a bandage for religious wounds, but the language of science lacks emotional pull, lacks a poetic connection, and lacks the necessary fuel to the fire of our being. Art adds this aspect, like a serene tea photo, into the void where primitive folk religion dwells.

Detail of the Rose Window of Notre Dame.
Cultural concepts in the collective consciousness are the door. Growth and transformation come through these ideas. Your inmost idea of the Holy is what you want to reach and dwell in more than anything else. Or your notion of the Void or Darkness or whatever appeals to you. The point is, whatever is the most sacred, the most transformative, will be the deepest wish you have. And this wish is, more often than not, something in you from your earliest childhood. Because your wish lies at your deepest consciousness from early in childhood, this is where your power and force lie.

If the notion of Qi is confusing, it is because this word is not in our cultural archetypes. We lack experience with it. It wasn't present in our earliest childhood, and thus does not have the same power and lacks our sensitivity. We do have equivalent ideas to Qi in our collective consciousness, but very often the words we use instead of Qi have personal and communal Pain and Baggage blocking us from using them. If you have wounds and blocks around your cultural concepts, your subconscious cannot open up until you get rid of the blocks and heal the wounds.

When I encounter Catholics, very often they want to dump baggage about their background with religion. As a former nun, I'm a walking garbage can for the collective subconscious. So I always say, "Lay it on me, I will have it." The person may be able to repeat the dumping process enough to remove blocks that will allow them to access the notions of the holy now covered by a layer of wounds and scabs. Regaining access to their transformative concepts means the person can come home to themselves. This may or may not mean rejoining the bureaucracy of religion, but at least the person can find a home to themselves in the collective ideas they inherited.

Adoration Chapel of the FSPA, two nuns have prayed here 24/7 for over 100 years. 
On the other hand, sometimes the wounds are just too much and the person needs to reject their cultural heritage and find their way through another set of traditions, new words that will get at the same notions of the divine within. If this is the case, to replicate the power that your childhood ideas have on you, then you must move into a culture or community in order to take these new words into the fiber of your being. You will need to get those concepts as deeply ingrained within you as if you had grown up with them all along. The new words and archetypes need to marry with your childhood archetypes and become as one. Perhaps you will need to move yourself physically to a new locale to get what you need.

You need someone or something to tip you over.

To appreciate qi in tea, you must develop your sensitivity. This means sitting still, breathing, lightening up your diet etc. but also it requires we leave our heads behind along with physical density. We have to open the door to the collective unconscious and walk through it. In my case, I didn't get a gentle experience. I had to go hurtling through the dark and light of my own personality through painful excavation and even this was not enough. I know for a fact I couldn't have done it without powerful notions of good and evil buried in my subconscious. Even though I may not have intellectual ideas that I buy into about the nature of good and evil, for example I'm not big into the idea of demons, still these ideas lie within my cultural subconscious, and I have to go there anyway into clash of opposites between what I feel I am and what I want to be. The larger the notion of the Holy, the bigger the dragon guarding the door. And they develop together too, the snake biting its tail, when I sense the tautology within myself I know that is where I must go excavating.
Jung and Titus Andronicus, nilesritter.com
The resistance to sensitivity is very great for all but the most gifted people. We don't want to be soft, we would rather be hard and impenetrable. We defend rather than let go. We fight. My door is all of western mythology and religion. Some people can walk through on their own. But I need something or someone to tip me over the edge of the abyss. This will be someone or something part of my culture. For if the Buddha appeared before me I would not know him.

Watch for a Herald, a Forerunner, or the sound of the Shofar. 

You might get a notification in advance before getting tipped into the unconscious or before an encounter with the Holy. This is a very old idea in our cultural history, millenia old. It is biblical but happens on every level including your own if your cultural subconscious is that of the western religions, even if you are not actively participating in a religion. Changes in our society have often had a forerunner event, and the collective and personal are one. Keep your eyes out, you may encounter someone or something. Keep your ears open for the sound of the horn, the Shofar. Lamps lit like virgins watching and waiting for the beloved, then they run.

Sometimes I get advance notice. I wrote before about the Manifestation I have had for a number of years. Just prior to this happening, I felt some change about to happen, but nothing was bringing the change about. What tipped me over was a person at work, someone who shares my cultural and ethnic  background. This guy is very tightly wound as a person, and as often happens with people like this, the subconscious tends to ooze out at the sides of a repressed person. So he was giving a talk and used a personal story to illustrate a mathematical point he was trying to make.

His story was about a priest, and I knew what he was going to say before he said it. I guessed because he paused right before, and I just knew he was going to launch into a story, something he felt compelled to say, and that he couldn't stop himself even though the story wasn't particularly appropriate for a secular setting. Because we share a similar background, the same collective concepts, I knew what was coming. I can't even repeat the story he told now, because I don't really remember it, but it was about an encounter with a priest. It was enough that it suddenly opened up the door to our shared cultural concepts, and our shared collective unconscious. His pause first, and then launching into this story about the priest was like the sound of the horn, like the air dropping away around me.

I followed my colleague around for awhile for weeks afterward, to see if this had any sort of significance beyond simply opening me up to our shared collective subconscious. But there was no other real significance to this person in my life. I was undergoing a period of great change on the inside and he simply tipped off the process. He had no idea of anything going on with me, nor that he was a kind of trigger.

The weeks to come were a combination of meditation, walking, raging, crying and literally falling through my subconscious into a vision. I emerged 20 pounds lighter and minus a great deal of emotional tension. Gone was a thickness I had developed, and in place I grew softer as well as more in tune with the mythology I live by. I visited a confessor and also my former novice director. Both said the same thing "You are no longer a student." and "Now go do that again and again."

Sensitivity to Tea and Patterns.

Requiescat in Pace.

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