Friday, 23 December 2011


Some months ago in a (heart circle) sharing I noticed that I had some resistance to sharing 'what was up for me'. Ah, so why would I not want this known? If I accept myself and my intention is to work for the highest motive then what am I trying to hide? Why am I ashamed to still be struggling with aspect of my experience. And if others judge me then are they holding me in compassion? And if not then why should I fear what they think? Because if they can't hold me in compassion then what basis to the sharing? How much of this feeling of shame is my projection on to others? Which is to acknowledge that they may not have the thoughts and feelings about what I might share that I imagine they will; that I am judging that they will judge me. This of course is the great thing about sharing in a heart circle; we come in to authenticity, or as close to it as we feel we can. And we have a chance to see our stuck points. And what better to do with this resistance than to share it! The opening which comes from this is in my experience very nourishing, very cathartic and collectively humbling and of beauty. And the more we share the more we see that we all have a fried egg on our head, and that's all right. And gradually things come into perspective, growth is made and I move on; more open, in deeper communion with others, my self and with life. So it has been illuminating for me to see my response to people who have rejected open communication in favour of 'keeping up appearances'; anger. And that's an other opportunity for me to grow, to acknowledge my response, soften in to it, try to remain mindful, humble and compassionate. Even when my response is to judge and condemn. For that it to miss the opportunity to grow.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Love And Will 3

Just finished reading Love and Will. Well, what a book! And searching for Rollo May's details on the net I see that this book is referred to as influential. I am not surprised, I suspect it pulls together a lot of man's thinking from diverse cultures, times and locations in pursuit of an explanation of May's approach to psychology. And whilst the word 'spiritual' is used in the book (as I recall) only once or twice, this is clearly the implication. And perhaps the word was avoided since it defies definition.

The later chapters prompted me to make the following jottings for this post:
  • We re-enact the (original) fall - however much we might work towards and attain union we must return back to our individual experience of life. We move in and out of the garden (of Eden).

(recalled WOODSTOCK
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
by Joni Mitchel-

We are stardust, we are golden
We are 2 billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden)

We attempt this getting back to the garden when we (re)connect with our self and when we connect with others. At a deep level beyond the psychological is the direct realisation of our true nature.

  • May on care notes 'Heidegger quotes the ancient parable of care, which Goethe also used at the end of Faust:' Care crossing a river fashioned some clay into a form, Jupiter came by and she asked him to give it spirit, which he did but he would not let her name be bestowed upon it. Earth arose and desired her name be conferred upon the creature since it was part of her body. They asked Saturn to arbitrate and his decision was as follows: 'Since you, Jupiter gave it spirit, you shall receive that spirit at its death; and since you Earth have given its body, you shall receive its body. But since 'Care' first shaped this creature, she shall posses it as long as it lives. And because there is now a dispute among you as to its name, let it be called 'homo', for it is made out of humus (earth)'

Nice parable, I'd not come across it before. And May goes on to make the point that care is so often missing in our day. Even more true I suspect in 2011 than 1969. He also notes the protests of young people who demonstrate that they do care. Again we should take note in 2011! And care is important with respect to love for it sets apart ongoing relationship from that 'Hippie love' referred to in the previous post.

  • May touches on the Hellenistic period and refers to the Stoics, Epicureans, Hedonists etc. and I note from his descriptions that the search for meaning at the realisation in one way or an other of the void has indeed been going on within various cultural ways of seeing for a very long time over the globe. The danger of nihilism in the appreciation of emptiness being wrestled with I guess.

I can't recall what prompted me to note this section and what I wanted to expand but I guess it is that this territory, for me is nicely navigated in the Buddhist and Taoist way. May continues: we only ever have some myth, never truth. And also notes that we don't (as often believed by so many) have fully rational thoughts and decisions. Indeed! A bit of anxious depression can make that all too clear in my own experience. We make tiny little turns of thought and decisions all day long assuming we have assessed the facts. In my experience it is a feeling that is being juggled.

  • In the closing pages of the his book May returns to love between man and woman.

I find his assumption that the flow of yin and yang energies in sex requires a heterosexual couple tedious. But I guess his writing reflects the date of the book. His point about care and active receiving is however, well made. Giving is to receive and receiving (actively) is giving. This is so evident in sexual acts. It is fitting I think that at the end of the book having come to talk of giving and receiving that 'Communion of Conciousness' is the title of the final chapter. In this chapter May talks of climax in sexual intercourse and notes union with nature when 'the awareness of separateness lost, blotted out'. Interestingly though he does not expand on this. And the point he might have made is that we loose not just our separateness but our lover and the connection as we disappear into our own orgasm. From my post Everything and Love:

'But in love as apposed to lust, we see the desire for unity, to return to the void. In lust the head long chase for the abandonment to be found in the little death of orgasm. In making love the partial death of self as each flows into the other, heart to heart and only then the temporary slip in to the almost selfless abandonment of orgasm. Yet we do not die, we pull back from our connection with our lover and into our own experience of orgasm, however much we desire to unite. Then gradually we return to the world.'

  • May goes on to remind us that Cezanne and Van Gogh have left works which indicate that they saw the world in what seems to be a very direct way. And I guess that this is Tennyson seeing the wild flower in the crannied wall and that these are ways of seeing I do not directly know but that they may well be those spiritual  awakenings referred to by others in other terms.

However we see the world (and there are as many as there are beings) we are left with daily reality. 'Before enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water.' It seems to me that May drawing from the ancients asks us to engage in authentic communion with life, with each other. But I am rolling a few ideas up together here... It's late and I am tired!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Love And Will 2

It was in reading the chapters from part I of Rollo May's Love And Will titled as follows;

Paradoxes of Sex and Love,
Eros in Conflict with Sex,
Love and Death,
Love and the Daimonic,

that I recalled my post Everything and Love, in which in my own way I was trying to express some of the themes which I feel come through in those chapters. And I had intended to explore those themes in greater detail here. However, as the days have gone past I find the matrix of thoughts and feelings which held the vestige of a post has slipped by, passed into that which was. Perhaps in holding the chapter titles in mind and reading the post referred to readers might glimpse something of their own truth.

In part II of the book May looks at the will and explores wish, will and intentionality. For me his thesis brings to mind interdependent origination, the question of to what extent we ever choose and exercise 'free will' and aspects of desire; that leading to growth (Eros) and that leading to enslavement (lust in all its forms). And out of that little pot; vitality. And when I look around I see a great number of people who seem to be asleep; their vitality gone. May seems to be saying something similar and as ever the root of it goes back to fear.

Discussing intentionality in therapy, May under the heading From Wish to Will makes the point that the raw experience of a beautiful day and the fact that one can increase the pleasure by sharing it with a friend 'has profound implications for life, love, death and the ultimate problem of human existence'. He refers to Tennyson looking at the flower in the crannied wall; '...I could understand what God and man is.' I can't claim to have had that experience of God (Buddha nature, the Source...) although I have experienced beauty and the feeling that it is but only half a thing when not shared. But I do feel this need for the awake vital raw experience of authentic living. Might it be stated as Eros the divine life force seeing its own expression?

May goes on to make a point about indiscriminate love or 'Hippie love' as he terms it. It is important here I think to remember the date of the book; 1969. And I would agree with him that a here today gone tomorrow in the moment love lacks commitment and begs the question just how deep such feelings run. I think it important to hold in mind non-attachment, acceptance and that an enlightened being loves all. But this love is outside the scope of everyone I know. Aspects of it are present but we are human and preference always creeps in; the resonance when like parts of the unity come close. Something bigger comes out of giving over time and choosing to keep giving requires selection of who to give to and accept from.

Opening the third part of the book is a chapter titled The Relation of Love and Will and it opens with a quote from Schopenhauer;

'Sexual passion is the cause of war and the end of peace, the basis of what is serious, and the aim of the jest, the inexhaustible source of wit, the key to all allusions, and the meaning of all mysterious hints... just because the profoundest seriousness lies at its foundation.... But all this agrees with the fact that the sexual passion is the kernal of the will to live, and consequently the concentration of all desire; therefore in the text I have called the genital organs the focus of will.'

Yep, 'The Red thread koan'! And how often we talk of people having guts and/or balls. Having, being had, making and bonding; the desire to create and the desire to merge. I'll post later on subsequent chapters.