Agnes Martin

These prints express innocence of mind. If you can go with them and hold your mind as empty and tranquil as they are and recognise your feelings at the same time you will realize your full response to this work.

The work is extremely simple. She moved from naturalistic landscapes as a student through biomorphic forms to formal abstraction; then she eliminated all curved lines, having only vertical and horizontal lines. A work might have one main colour, or two vertical lines and one horizontal line dividing it into six equal blocks, of one or other of two colours; or broad stripes of colour.

After psychotherapy, I choose to be open to this. I take a stool, and sit before a choice of paintings, to drink them in. Biomorphic forms: those blobs are (to me!) clearly heads, in relation to each other.

The picture on the poster for the exhibition, Friendship, is 72″x72″, covered with gold leaf and a grid of fine straight lines ruled in graphite pencil. I sit before it and it moves me. The light reflected on the gold is very beautiful. I am aware how noisy this place is: even though this is far less popular an exhibition than Turner, or even Sonia Delaunay, I hear noise from the main galleries, echoes, voices, footfalls. I become aware of irregularities in gold or graphite, and they become important. The poster does not show that reflected light; such images can only ever give a sense of the work, but in this case not even that. Light reflects from a rough curve or triangle, digging down from the top edge towards the centre of the work, moving as I move my head slightly.

Those prints are grids of even lines. Sometimes the lines end in a printed edge-line, sometimes beyond it as in a noughts and crosses grid. Vertical lines are usually further apart than horizontal, sometimes closer; lines are different distances apart (always the same distance for one print), thinner or thicker. I move along the two rows of prints, eschewing sentences in my mind, sometimes even words, a wash of intense emotional response: joy and horror commingled.

I have picked a few paintings to sit before, the ones that speak to me, then the grey ones in room 8 are too much. I dash through. I cannot stop before any of them. I don’t know why, I feared them. That is the room I must go back to, the piece of myself I could not face.

It is not black per se: in the next, I sit before a symmetrical trapezium in perfect black. Those triangles with green tips show a sense of humour in their creator, then 91. I started chatting to Michael, a guard. “Did you see the lime green line?” I had not noticed it, though see it when he points it out; for him it produces purplish after-images resonating with the other colour, though it does not have that effect for me.

F, like S, exercises spirituality separately from emotion. For me, the full awareness of my emotion is my spirituality, and being strongly affected is a spiritual high; F is aware of hers, yet separate from it. That judge which is my prison, setting me at war with myself, could free me if I could be open to myself, permitting rather than resisting.

Continuing Revelation

File:Christ Giving His Blessing.jpgHow does God speak to God’s people? Through God’s people. Morality develops. David Hume and Adam Smith believed that moral responses were sentiments, an emotional reaction, but Kant began to apply reasoning to those feelings. Christians cannot insulate ourselves from this process, trying to find rules for living in the Bible: attempting to do so is disobedience to God as revealed in the Bible.

Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit of God to us. John 14:26: But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Paul prays, Ephesians 3:16, that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit. Since Christ has promised this, how could Paul’s prayer not be granted?

There are prophets among us. Ephesians 4:11: The gifts [Christ] gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers. 1 Corinthians 12:8, 10: To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit… to another prophecy

The Spirit of God dwells in us. God within us prays to God above. Romans 8:26-27: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. are no longer in a subsistence peasant economy. We live in a society of billions, and that requires human beings to respond differently. We can no longer live in groups of people all behaving the same way. We have to accept the diversity of humanity, and celebrate it because it is God’s good gift to us. All the talk in the Old Testament of the Jewish people keeping themselves pure from the Canaanites no longer applies: we are to make disciples of all nations, and that means welcoming the gifts of all nations.

The Religious Society of Friends in Britain prophesied that marriage should be equal, whether straight or gay, as a result of the leadings of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus. Perhaps we should not abrogate words of the Bible completely, but we may construe them in a limited fashion.

The Holy Spirit is with us. We are not limited to iron age morality, but freed by God’s continuing revelation.


Ignatian spiritual exercises

File:St Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) Founder of the Jesuits.jpgI have decided to undertake a course of Ignatian spiritual exercises.

I am not certain it is for me. When the warrior Iñigo was thirty, his leg was crushed by a cannon-ball. After setting, it was considerably shorter than the other. We are told he had it lengthened and straightened in a second operation out of vanity, to look good in hose, but a difference in leg length is a serious disability.

Recovering, he had two kinds of fantasy. In one, he had various knightly adventures, and won the love of a courtly lady. In the other, he followed the path of the Saints. He found that after the second kind he felt happy, and after the first kind he felt sad. He decided that the first came from his sinful nature, and the second from God.

Part of the first “week” of the Exercises involves confronting ones sins. A problem for me is that this does not fit my theory of my own nature. I am created good by God, and have imbibed from society inhibitions on my conduct, which I rail against, still mostly unconsciously. Integrated, I am Good; so my spiritual task is discovery of my God-given nature, not repentance. This is Original Blessing, rather than “original sin”: it involves self-discovery not self-abnegation.

Then again, my current stagnation may not indicate the good life well lived.

That first “week” is only a week on a full time retreat with five separate hours of meditation, reflection in between, and time with a spiritual director each day. The programme I have takes thirty weeks, with the first “week” taking eight weeks. This still involves an hour a day in silence, lectio divina and journalling, and ideally sharing my experiences with a listener for about half an hour a week. Such a listener might be doing the exercises at the same time.

Part of my reason for telling you this is to encourage myself to take these exercises seriously, but if anyone would care to be my listener, please use the Contact Me form.

12 12 12

12:12:12 is the day of alignment with all 12 dimensions of the Universe, and is the 12th initiatory gateway to higher consciousness

On this day we’ll receive a series of ‘Illumination Waves’ coming onto the planet, flooding the earth with high energies and activating the crystalline structure in our bodies, allowing us to hold more light in our cells. A new cycle of evolution now begins for planet earth, humanity and the cosmos!

Then, in the 9 days from 12-12-12 to 12-21-12, veils will begin to lift for all who wish to experience higher realms of consciousness and the 5th dimensional new earth paradigm.

Wishing you all magic and miracles on this spectacular day, and in the 9 days to come!

From Facebook.

I had hoped to get dressed today, but I am in bed with the cold. Monday I got the train home, went to the supermarket and put credit on the tokens for the gas and electricity meters- I am one of those, it appears, who cannot be trusted to pay for utilities by direct debit- though I got to the station and thought of just collapsing into a taxi. Good job I did not, as I have food for the week in, and should not freeze in darkness. Tuesday, I got up, though did not get dressed. Today I have just got up to get breakfast then lunch- missing the sacred moment of 12.12 on 12 12 12- and eaten in bed. Never mind, shortly it is 12.12 somewhere in mid-Atlantic, I could pray at that moment. Or not.

Oh wow! A Lao Tzu quote!

However new-agey the person quoting, Lao Tzu or Rumi are always worth reading, whether in full poems or in short phrases. I want to take all the value I may from the “Specialness” of this day. No, I do not believe we are aligning with the Galactic Centre, or even that today is particularly special in the ongoing spiritual revolution befalling humanity right now. But, what good could seeing it as special do me? I am retreated to my bedroom, my old ways of being in the World completely stripped away, ineffectual in an absolute sense-

And from this place I shall Rise 

like a Phoenix, my true self

at last liberated!

she ranted.

It is strange that in 2012, as the Global Financial Crisis deepens, inequality increases, people like me with unremarkable transferable work skills and an unremarkable degree get less money because there are so many of us, with few ideas of what we all could be doing, apocalyptic ideas flourish, at least on my Facebook news feed, and even with some of my karate friends, as well as the Personal growth fbfnds. The quintessentially British chain Boots the Chemist is bought up, its head office relocated to Switzerland so it can avoid UK Corporation tax, just like Starbucks does. Verily, I need those spiritual advances: be conscious and accepting of my own feelings, be strong in my own convictions, seek my own true good rather than to follow the rules, acceptance, valuing, gratitude and clear-sightedness.

Defensive measures

I was crying in the dojo. This is less than ideal.

There is so much to think about. Look straight forward. Torso vertical. Hips on/off. Position of feet, knees, thighs. That is before doing the block or strike itself: flow into it, the power and the effort comes at the last moment. In the first kata I should place my foot then turn, the torso stays straight above the hips and the turn comes from the legs, where the power is. In one of the turns, I was blocking with the wrong arm, Andy told me. That rather surprised me, and so I concentrated on that rather than the position of my legs and the way of turning. “That’s it. Excellent.” Says Andy. And the very next move I was punching one way rather than turning and punching, and cursing myself for getting it so simply wrong. “‘Don’t praise me, don’t praise me’, she says,” Andy echoed.

I first noticed this, taking driving lessons in 1983. Whenever the instructor told me I had done something well, the next thing I did badly. It still puzzles me a bit why I would react like that. Possibly a defensive measure, do not stand out by doing things remarkably well. Possibly self-punishing, I do not deserve praise. Whatever. I started crying because I had responded in that terrible, self-destructive way. How could I be so stupid, now? I managed to hold it in check. Breathe. It is alright. Responding in that way is OK, it is no great disaster, I reassure myself. It is OK. I do not need to respond in that way, but when I do no harm is done. I will learn not to respond in that way in time, and I do not have to get it perfectly right every time.

We do the second and third kata, and, in between, I still need to stand, reassuring myself, eyes closed, hands channeling healing Qi to my solar plexus chakra. I am glad that Andy spent time talking to others about how they are doing the kata and how it may be improved. I did not have to walk out.

I am sitting with it now.
All my outdated defensive patterns,
however sub-optimal or even self-destructive they are,
I took on to protect myself.
I am glad that I could protect myself,
and however I did it, that is OK.
And if I find myself repeating them now,
that is also OK.
I need not do them now,
but sometimes I do them reflexively.
This is not a disaster.
I will do them less, learn other ways of being.
Everything is all right.

O God, I have been so damaged.
Thank God, I have time now to heal.

It is a beautiful sunny day, and before I went to karate practice I had time to kneel in my ritual space. The feeling that came to me there was Gratitude. Now, though it is October, I am sunbathing.


I find spiritual matters easier to accept if there is a rational explanation, and so am intrigued by the Reticular Activating System, a part of the brain of all vertebrates. It regulates transition between sleep and wakefulness, and between relaxed wakefulness and periods of high attention. Since such high attention is something I delight in and think of as “Spiritual”, I am practising it. It also regulates attention so we may take notice of what is important, and ignore what is not. So if I set an intention, I start to notice things relevant to that intention. That is the theory, anyway. I am pleased that there is a theory. So the Law of Attraction makes greater sense to me. Not having a complete knowledge of brain physiology- has anyone?- I am happier to accept “Spiritual” explanations, the observation may be on to something.


You would think, hitting someone, that “throwing” a punch would make it stronger. The shoulder goes forward, the body goes forward so that there is a straight line through the arm, shoulder, torso, leg, back foot, rooting the punch in the ground. But no. As I punch, I keep my torso vertical to keep in control and able to move in whatever direction I wish. Tempted to put my shoulder forward, as I would pushing open a stuck door, I learn that this is weaker, twisting the torso: instead I keep it straight, shoulders parallel with hips, and move my hips. This brings the power of hip, thigh and calf into the punch. The jargon: hips off, one hip toward the opponent; as I punch I bring “hips on”, my whole front facing the opponent, my fist at his stomach or face or side.

This morning we were feinting with the left to the face, and as the opponent’s blocking left knocks that out of the way we punch the right to the unprotected side. So, instantly after blocking above we must block below. As it is an exercise, we match the punches and blocks together beautifully. The blocker then comes forward with a stomach level punch. I was with the beautiful Alex, 6′ and 16 with floppy curly hair, who floats like a butterfly in sparring. We were practising that as well, launching forward off the back foot to punch then pulling back out of range. I have skinned my big toe, landing on it. Aiming, keeping torso vertical, leaping in and out, it is too much to bring in hips off hips ON as well.

It is a spiritual thing. We seek no-mind, the relaxed state where the body uses the muscles necessary for the move without tension, and responds to the opening or the blow without conscious thought. And, we have rules and techniques to learn, and others to do it with.

Centering prayer, on the other hand, my mind goes all over the place. I would like an understanding. I want to do it right, and while I realise that it will take practice, I do not want to spend half an hour at a time if I am not Getting Somewhere with it. So I asked Facebook: You meditate. Your attention wanders, and you draw it back to your breath, the Mystery at the heart of the Universe, whatever.
Are the thoughts merely distractions, or are they ever Useful?

One response which I love is that, of course thoughts are useful. But they are a tool,  and one can get into unhelpful thought patterns: so it helps to have the life-skill, developed through meditation, of stepping back from the thought, realising it is only a thought, and choosing how I wish to think. “It helps to not get annoyed with the phenomenon and stay compassionate to onesself”.

So, I may enjoy the practice, if I become conscious of my breath, and luxuriate in appreciation of my wonderful body and its functioning. I also love the idea in meditation of, when realising I have been thinking rather than appreciating the Breath, of thanking the thought, which has done its job, rather than getting irritated with myself because I have been thinking, I have not done it right. I am assured, though, that meditating without thought is possible.

Allow, accept, appreciate. I may enjoy my breath. I may accept the thoughts, appreciate them, and see them, and then I may enjoy them. Rather than fighting to keep my attention on my breath which does not interest or motivate me, hungry for moments of enjoyment, judging all my “failures”, I can just do it, so enjoy it all. I may even get “better” at it, if “better” has any meaning.

Next day I am stiff all down the legs, so that I waddle rather than walking, and have skinned my big toe painfully- I should land on the ball of the foot, not the toe. It is good to learn and improve. In the Quaker meeting, I find myself thinking on an old sore, so I leave the meeting room, lie on the floor and cry. That is what I had meant by the thought being useful- it came up in a safe space, and was healing. And- while out of the meeting room, I put on the kettles so the water is boiled for tea.

I have improved the look of my site, with parent pages and sub-pages, which means I can have more pages: Polemic on arguments, and Photography organising the pictures. Have a look at my new page, “Gorgeous“. I had lots of portraits of me before deciding to transition. They reassured me that I could appear female. Alas the HTML which allowed me to emphasise some words with the font Pristina is not currently working.


Rufus Jones, one of the Religious Society of Friends’ greatest mystics, spoke in meeting, beginning “I was thinking”. After, a Friend commented that he was sorry to hear what Jones had said, you should not be thinking in meeting. All Quakers are aware of this story, and it relieves me to be absolved again by Valerie Brown, because in Meeting I think.

I may merely be ruminating, thinking unproductively, or I may be thinking as yesterday, being led to insight. By their fruits shall ye know them. The latter is good. I may never stop ruminating entirely, and attain Perfect Centering- it helps to be aware of and dwell on the moments where I do get it right,

She says I should let go of goals in my meditation, and this creates resistance in me. Of course I have goals. They may be unspecific, such as “improvement”, and I may need to be open to refining them with greater understanding- use the word as a Springboard, not a box- but of course I have goals.

One of my spiritual practices is having a bath, like this morning: I bathed for two hours, initially in water as hot as I can bear, reading and musing. And I saw that all I am capable of now is No- No, for example, to the goal that I should be supporting myself, for it comes from outside me. And- I am patiently and unconsciously turning my No around, from a No to my deepest self, my reality and my desires, to a No to things outside which I have found inimical. Even my conscious goals might have inhibited that.

My locus of control is internal, and so deep I am only conscious of it afterwards. Like Moses in the Wilderness, Exodus 33:20-23. The Lord said,

I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But, you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live. There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.

I thought that story was Elijah, and needed my Concordance to find it. Ha! Take that, Bible-haters! A story which is gibberish if taken literally, and holds spiritual truth.


Valerie Brown describes various spiritual practices: centering down, centering prayer, and meditation on the Breath. As for concentrating on the Breath, I have not done this a great deal. Valerie describes it in a way which makes it far richer than I had imagined: do listen. And hearing her voice is so much more intense than reading the words.

The picture is of my meditation bear, who sits in my ritual space all the time, holding the silence. Sometimes I meditate beside her, and sometimes in the ritual space I cuddle her and weep.

Spiritual practices

I have done physical spiritual practices recently: healing, karate, biodanza, clowning, all involving body-consciousness and minimising the critical mind. And this morning I returned to the Quaker meeting, and our particular spiritual way.

I have borrowed “Living from the Center”, a Pendle Hill pamphlet by Valerie Brown, which I sat to read before meeting started, and I got to thinking how different this spiritual experience is: most of us have degrees, a lot of us are academics, we are good with words, and when we minister in meeting we produce well-constructed paragraphs. And I want to bring the physical, body spirituality here.

Then I realise I can. Here is that flower on the table- I always sit close to the table, where I may look at the flower(s), and even the grain on the bench is beautiful. And I am projecting onto Friends: I want to unite these aspects of spirituality in Me, not in the Religious Society. And I can unite my intellect in my body work too: making that karate move, or dancing, while it is inappropriate for the conscious mind to seek to control or judge it, my intellect may appreciate it.

So it was a joyous meeting for me, of appreciation, integration and unity. It felt like a Leading. I thought of speaking it in ministry: but I felt no leading to that, why should I preach at my friends? It was a message just for me. Also, I thought of two recent facebook shares:
For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.- Cynthia Occelli.
The truth will set you free- but first it will piss you off.

Being broken in order to grow is such a common topic in spiritual writing, and a common spiritual experience. It is a way I have appreciated certain hurts, which have appeared strongly linked to my conscious growth moments- and I thought this morning that it is a way to accept and appreciate and value all my hurts, all my history. There was a light, joyous feeling in the room at the end of meeting, others noticed it too, not just me. We can come to feel together, though we sit in the same place, not touching, not speaking.

And- it was nice, sitting in the meeting room before meeting, when that couple walked in. All queers together- just, nice.
I have two spiritual practices in my ritual space at the moment. I perform metta meditation:

May I be safe and protected
May I be peaceful and happy
May I be healthy and strong
May I have ease of wellbeing

Just for me, and not for others, at the moment. I am sufficiently socialised, perhaps being too socialised is part of the problem; and I am hurt, and need to value myself. The pther practice is to feel the flow of Qi in my chakras, to invoke it, perhaps to bring it to myself. I intend to consider other options for spiritual practices. So I am grateful for the words of others, leading me towards the centre.

Monday: I kneel in my ritual space, my bear beside me. My friend gave him to me to console me in hospital, so I received him in Love, and now he sits in my ritual space, holding the silence, meditating whether I am there or not. Also I have a timer, for fifteen minutes’ meditation. I will not look at the timer, I will rise refreshed after my fifteen minutes. So “Not looking at the timer” becomes an illustration of my ego’s inadequacy, in its inability to achieve an unnecessary aim. I hurt and I fear, and I struggle.

On the other side of fear

Julia Fehrenbacher stills her conscious mind, and creates.

She writes (I have abridged): When I drop below the level of thought and step fully into the moment, a quiet yet powerful knowing meets me right where I am. This sacred space is not concerned with right doing or wrongdoing, changing or fixing. It is the space where softness rests and hunger fades. When I make a conscious choice to be there, even in fear, magic and freedom happen. A world of possibility that my mind cannot possibly fathom opens wide before me.

When I sit down to write poetry or pause before a blank canvas it is my intention to get out of the way and allow something fresh and rich to flow through me. My mind jumps in with gripping resistance, telling me why I am not good enough and how I should do it, and each time I must quiet the noise of my mind. My practice is to keep returning to what is right before me, to allow my heart to take the lead.

 She believes we may live in the same way, wide awake, to meet what is with the fulness of me. This book has the purpose of freeing us to live in that way. Behold, the pictures are beautiful. I do not see the bird straight away, and it gives me such pleasure when it comes to my attention. Is that red storm threatening? Well, it is the same colour as the woman’s robe. See how erect she is!

This is where I am not. I want that sense of Presence, and I want to Live in it, more than to experience it, to act out of it. I am aware that my fear and anger is also in my subconscious.

The beautiful poems may be heard quickly, they are limpid and simple. There is little punctuation, the varying speed comes from the line breaks and the rhythms of the words themselves. And


stands out as the bold single-word stanza. On we go, in a spiritual journey. Quieten the inner critic, there is only the perfect, shining self. See the oak shed its leaves, as it does, being itself. Be yourself, your wild and tender perfection. See the amazing beauty of the quotidian, and Love is the only response, bringing delight. See the amazing beauty of your own body, breathing and heart-beating: that knuckle, how perfectly it does what it does as part of the whole.

I will
empty myself
again and again
and again

until all that is left is
and a Knowing
that it is all

Just as it was
Just as it is

Out of this comes Life in all its fulness, unleashed. Together, we are Everything. This, Here, Now, is perfection. One more picture, and then it will be time for me to kneel.

In my ritual space,
rather than accept,
I honour myself, I honour physical body, mind, brain, spirit and psyche
Qi and life-force, instinct and being

past and present and future


On a completely different note, I have just gained the Kreativ Blogger award. To imagine how pleased I am, think of Scrat with his acorn. Ha! I have awards to give out! Be nice to me- Or, how about swapsies? I do not have a Beautiful Blogger or a Candle Lighter or even an Inspiring Blogger award, all of which I clearly deserve. Apart from her excellent taste, I am intrigued by Cathy‘s ventures into energy healing and the route to the Divine- or the Collective Unconscious, the liberated personality, call it what you will. As one example, read her on centering in the Body, in direct sensation.


Added, 31 July: I am delighted to have pleased Julia as she describes in the comments. Her book did me good, and I want her to know that- and I am very happy if potential readers of her book know that too. And I am pleased to get the link and plug from j, through whom I heard of and got the book, who writes, “Clare wrote a truly stunning, soulful response to the book on her own blog.” And- I am tempted to say, “It is all a load of Crap! Julia says eveything is Nice, I thought for a moment, how Nice, it is no more than that.”  That would not be true.

And- it comes from the feeling that when I respond Nicely to a Nice thing I get a pat on the head, and all my struggles with my Shadow self, the unacceptable bits of me which I can no longer suppress and must integrate are devalued. That is what I want to be Heard! I also want you to Hear me having fun in decorous and oh-so-mild subversion. I will come back to this in my post Anchorite shortly.

I seek acceptance, and I do not accept myself, despite all the acceptance I receive, the rejection is so much more vivid to me.

Round and round I go
Accepting- Rebelling-
Accepting- Hurting
I so hope I make progress

The “pat on the head” comes from me. It is my own acceptance and then withdrawal. I can accept the nice bits. I have rejected and suppressed the difficult bits. I move towards greater acceptance.

Memories, dreams, reflections

I wanted to arrive in the blonde wig, as it is prettier, so I changed into it in the Tube. (This was the night before U’s party.) I noticed no-one staring, and what if anyone had? People mind their own business on the Tube. I felt powerful, as if anything could happen. On to the HAI gathering. Here, we caress each others’ faces and hands, as well as hug a lot and make soft eye contact. Previously, I have taken off the wig, in order to feel the touch, better; now I keep the wig on, to be seen as female.

Insomniac after the party, I go to the bookshelves, and find Beginner’s Guide to Jungian Psychology by Robin Robertson. Aha, a synchronicity! I have borrowed it. A book from 1992 is perhaps not the best guide, as understanding moves on, but it will do for now: it clearly explains the complexity of the thought.

I wanted a Spiritual understanding of life, so that Spiritual healing might be more than mere placebo, and perhaps the Collective Unconscious will do it for me. Here, I find a Spiritual quote:

At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, in the procession of the season. There is nothing in the Tower that has not grown into its own form over the decades, nothing with which I am not linked. Here everything has its history and mine; here is space for the spaceless kingdom of the world’s and the psyche’s hinterland.

However, that is not the intent of the book: instead, it anchors Jung’s thought within scientific materialism:

There is good reason for supposing that the archetypes are the unconscious images of the instincts themselves, in other words, that they are patterns of instinctual behaviours… The hypothesis of the collective unconscious is, therefore, no more daring than to assume that there are instincts… The question is simply this: are there or are there not unconscious universal forms of this kind? If they exist, then there is a region of the psyche which one can call the collective unconscious.

As I have read elsewhere, the brain may be seen as a core shared with reptiles, where the most basic instincts reside; a higher area shared with mammals, and a highest area shared with other primates. Reptiles show signs of primitive dreaming; mammals dream.

The Archetypes, centres of those accretions of thoughts and memories which form Complexes, are shared because they are instinctual ways of behaving hard-wired into the brain. Just as kittens play-fight together, learning the chase and honing their skills, so people respond instinctively to a wide variety of situations. Dreaming helps us to consider such situations beforehand, as with the wet dreams preceding sexual activity, and to adjust our responses to the particular situation. We have more complex instincts than reptiles, and a better way of adapting our responses, but the origin can be seen in the reptiles. And then, as well as our dreams, we have conscious analysis to help us adapt further. But we are not that consciousness alone, but the underlying instincts and responses. We are hard-wired to learn language, for example.

This does not refute a Spiritual reality behind matter, or the flow of Qi, but it provides a materialist basis for some apparently Spiritual experience. Using my intuition to empathise with another, I do not need a psychic link: I can simply access those instincts we share.

The brain, according to this book, is more powerful than I had imagined. Memories are held throughout it rather than being recorded in a particular area. Perhaps all sense-impressions are recorded permanently: our recognition of images is “essentially perfect” (p32).

The author leaves room for a spiritual explanation, quoting Rupert Sheldrake’s theories. And he supports the possibility of spiritual work:

Once we record and interact with our dreams, a bridge begins to form between consciousness and the unconscious. With more rapid access between them, growth and change accelerates. Once we become aware of them, our dreams react to our awareness.

A pity I do not generally recall my dreams. I have not finished the book, and will return to this. Paradoxically, a materialist underpinning of spirituality enables me to respect and trust it more: all except refreshing my Qi from the energy of the Universe by particular hand movements. But then, if I want to do those hand movements, and they make me feel better, why ever not?