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Painting by Marney Ward

“At the deepest level of your essential self, you exist as an eternal Being. At this level, you have transcended time and you have transcended all sense of yourself as a separate individual. You exist in Oneness with all that is. You are an infinite and eternal silent Presence of pure consciousness. You exist in this moment and no other. There is no past or future. Your mind is silent. You are fully present with what is here. You are totally immersed in the moment of now. It is impersonal.” — Leonard Jacobson

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“The invention of photography has dealt a mortal blow to the old modes of expression, in painting as well as in poetry, where automatic writing, which appeared at the end of the nineteenth century, is a true photography of thought. Since a blind instrument now assured artists of achieving the aim they had set themselves up to that time, they now aspired, not without recklessness, to break with the imitation of appearances.” — Andre Breton

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“What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits.” — Carl Jung

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Questioner: “You mentioned Goethe earlier. He remarked that our greatest happiness lies in practicing a talent that we were meant to use. Are we so miserable, as a culture, because we’re dissociated from our inborn talents, our soul’s code.”

Hillman: I think we’re miserable partly because we have only one god, and that’s economics.

Old cultures have many ways to keep you from getting separated from your core self. Rituals, initiations, music and dancing, vision quests, shamanic healing, all these are constructs that are used to keep you connected to your sense of meaning in your life.

We Moderns are often cut adrift in our way of living. We are inducted early into the common money chase. Trapped in the system without any way to get off the treadmill, we exhaust ourselves in the only pursuits offered by the world we know, pursuits involving possession of material objects and money.

Our anemic religion gives us rules and precepts but no experiences of any depth. Psychotherapy aims to get us back to normal so we can function as a reliable cog in the machine that is eating our soul.

Real initiation into deeper levels of ourselves is a rare occurrence. We try to borrow helpful methods from other cultures, we have gurus galore, but as Hillman says, it’s almost impossible to find a way out of the little box we were born into.

If you can listen to your energies and how they perk up in the neighborhood of your strongest desires, if you can pay attention and take seriously your inspirations, you may find your true path. Finding and staying on the path meant for you is a blessing because you have found your inner gyroscope. You’ve found your true north.

In that process, you will develop a fine disregard for the advice of experts, friends, family and saviors. You will learn to listen instead to that small, still voice within that knows why you were born. Trusting that voice gives confidence and direction, but in our world it’s often the last thing we listen to. We focus to our detriment on the external world, measuring ourselves by its standards.

Real teachers help you listen to yourself. They bolster your confidence in your own innate wisdom. They affirm your soul. This is how we can help each other, not by applying precepts wholesale without discrimination, but by paying close attention to everything.

If we’re going to be a help and not a hindrance to others, we have first to resolve these issues for ourselves. Most people are lost and still searching. Our society is not much help to these folks.

We live in a culture that has lost its way. Our task is to find it and help others to find it for themselves. There is no higher work.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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