The magic theatre

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‘Why have his letters been playing on this old wall in the darkest alley of the Old Town on a wet night with not a soul passing by, and why were they so fleeting, so fitful and illegible? But wait, at last I succeeded in catching several words on end. They were: MAGIC THEATRE – ENTRANCE NOT FOR EVERYBODY’ – Hermann Hesse, from his novel, Steppenwolf Hermann Hesse used the image of ‘the magic theatre’ in his novel Steppenwolf. Published in 1927, the story is of a man, Harry Haller, who undergoes what consensus culture would call a ‘nervous breakdown’ or ‘mid-life crisis’. But which […]

Underworld of shadows

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‘What has no shadow has no strength to live.’ – Czeslaw Milosz, from his poem Faith ‘Love crowns you and crucifies you’ Shadow is the darkness that my simple act of being here casts across the earth. The more I walk in the light, the starker my shadow. It is the evil I am, but which I don’t see. The vehement energy with which I deny my evil reveals its presence in me. Especially, the evil in others that pains me so, reflects its hidden shadow in my own being. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of it. But usually, without noticing, I cover over what I […]

The mystery of meditation

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mystery of meditation

‘Not much to offer you – just a lotus flower floating In a small jar of water.’ – Ryokan, from One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan, translated by John Stevens The paradox of letting go of ‘recipes’ Poetry comes closest to communicate what happens in meditation. The events and landscapes of the soul are as vast and limitless as the galaxies out there. ‘As above so below.’π At moments, perhaps, meditation brings us to truly ‘see’ Ryokan’s lotus flower in the small jar of water. And ‘something happens’. It is as if a vortex opens up and we feel the most incredible […]

Ruminations on ‘God’

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On God

‘Theology takes Gods literally and we do not. In archetypal psychology Gods are imagined. They are formulated ambiguously, as metaphors for modes of experience…. They are the lords of the soul’s realms of being…. The soul cannot be, except in one of their patterns. All psychic reality is governed by one or another archetypal fantasy, given sanction by a God. I cannot but be in them.’ – James Hillman, from Re-Visioning Psychology When we truly hear the above quote from James Hillman, we ‘see’ that we cannot speak of soul without attending to the meaning of ‘God’. It means Psychology inevitably dances intimately with Theology. […]

Love is transgressive

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love is transgressive

‘When love beckons to you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. … For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. … But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.’ – Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet Taboo Those who are absorbed by the values and culture of their society often experience others who follow their […]

‘Seeing’ the world

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Seeing the world

‘Arrogance and habitual patterns are obstacles to experiencing drala.π In order to discover magic in the world, we have to overcome the individual neurosis and self-centered attitudes that prevent us from experiencing the greater vision beyond ourselves.’ – Chogyam Trungpa, from Shambhala, the Sacred Path of the Warrior Description of the world It is striking how people often behave in ways that are contradictory to the truths they proclaim to believe in. Of course, we easily notice this in everyone else, but rarely see how we do it ourselves. But this simply illustrates how much of what we do and say are ripples emanating from […]

Crafting a sense of soul

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‘[P]sychic reality can only be grasped through non-rational awareness … [by] the fool (in the positive sense) … who does not follow a straight path, who surrenders the security of a rational, one-sided attitude … [whose] spontaneity is not destroyed by the tension between opposites, and so can follow every path, without being determined by reason or collective norms.’ – Françoise O’Kane, from Sacred Chaos Spirituality and transcendence Most of the various schools or centres of spiritual and metaphysical teachings breed cultures of goal-directedness, of achievement, of levels of advancement and hierarchies, of progress and of linear formulas for how we should change or be […]

Fundamental uncertainty

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Federica Gionfrida

‘And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow, you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.’ – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, from The Holy Longing We are going to die. Our continued existence is uncertain in every moment. And if we’re absolutely truthful with ourselves, we have to acknowledge that we really do not know what will happen to us as we die and after we die. Whatever our beliefs. For believing is not knowing. None of us have gone through the passage of death, yet. The more deeply we drop into being truthful with ourselves about […]