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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Manual of Ourself.

One of the concepts C G Jung wrote about was the path of individuation.  The idea is, I believe, that with time, we peel off the layers of the onion skinned protection from around our soul, to find out what it is we like, what it is we naturally do, and who we really are deep down there.   

I guess a first step on the path could run around the question:  Do we enjoy life?  Are we darting around here and there, completing obligations that we don´t really want to do so that people will not reject us; compared to, possibly doing the same things, but putting our heart into it, because we like putting our heart into it, because it is what makes us feel alive, while hoping others will also be benefited.  In the latter it is when we feel realised.  We feel real.  "Doing" transforms into "becoming"; and somewhere near to the end of the path we experience our pure being.  As we step along our individual life we become more conscious of choosing to do this or that, because it is what we do, we have discovered (etymology: to free from under cover) our own personal gifts. And when we share them and we find peace and joy and more life.  For what is a performer without an audience?

Now, since this talk is of the union spirit and soul, and hearing talk of graceful loving and peaceful enjoyment of life, many I presume, like me, rush blindly ahead crashing into an imagine of ourselves levitating in the Himalayas; realise this may not happen; become aware of the massive gap between the Buddha image and our own present self image as we rush off to the next appointment, behind time, not bloody omm-ing but swearing under our breath.

But this is an error.  For Buddha was Buddha, and that is just right for him.  But not necessarily for you or for me.  The idea of the path of individuation is that we find our own one and stop doing stuff that is not on our path that we do because we think we should.  Of course we all have obligations that we have to do on our paths: paying the rent, caring for children, or standing in line to get some bloody paperwork stamped.  The question is where is it leading us?  If we are honest with ourselves we may find quite a lot of stuff is unnecessary in our lives leading us in fashionable circles; and vice versa: stuff we don´t do, for fear of being a weirdo.   

It is easy to see those who "do" because they love, compared those who "do" out of obligation: a restuarant regardless of food or price makes you feel good or not, a person regardless of the amount of trendy self development workshops every weekend makes us feel one way or the other.  I believe this attitude is one of the factors that marks the difference between a feel good to self/others/exterior and an uncomfortable empty feel.  

Becoming ourselves is the awakening of the soul, the awakening of sleeping beauty who discovers her own gifts that the fairies have given her.  What do we enjoy doing that makes our sensation of time disappear?  What gives us satisfaction?  How can we feel open enough, secure enough, to let ourselves simply go with the flow?  How do we feel our heart beating with love of being?  Where do we enjoy (being) ourselves? 

Ohh!!  It´s a biggie…we all want to know, now now, NOW!!!…we want a tarot card to tell us, a horoscope, or a stray gypsy…but we all know where the answer lies.  There are no free tickets along the path.  The thing is I wonder if sometimes, we confuse our ideal image with the image of having to be super brilliant - nothing short of a genius - that we set our sights on BIG things, where people will have to notice and applaud us (as we silently pretend humility) instead of recognising the little things that give us and our lives more worth (etymology: come to be, become, take place).  

And talking of geniuses, such as Jung, hats off to them for finding what they are brilliant at.  It would seem that they could have stridden some distance along that spiny, difficult, narrow path of finding and becoming oneself: but surely it doesn´t automatically mean to say they have.  Not those geniuses who shout at least.  Being brilliant at something outside doesn´t necessarily make you more you inside.  Could it be that a good indicator is the ability to connect with love?  (Especially if we are to believe we are essentially an expression of love.)  The answer to where each is at on their path, is within. We will never know reading Jung where he was with respect to his individuation.  We can only try to know about ourselves.

So, I dedicate this blog to Adrian Crescini´s Uncle.  When I was in Mendoza he was our mechanic.  You could tell he loved being in his workshop.  If you had seen the cars that we were driving, it´s a good indicator to how often I was there: a lot.  He never charged us as much as he should, in fact he seemed happy to see the cars again, pleased to be able to tinker with them, as if he had a personal relationship with each car that came into his engine nest.  
This was the street where we lived, when I arrived it was dirt, but they surfaced it.  It is a complimentary photo of all three - me, Adrián and the Chevi.  The back was a bit more battered up.

I would go to his workshop, and we´d eat snails that he had fed himself for days on some special food so they would taste special.  He cooked them there on a mechanic´s sort of gas burner: they were de-li-cious!!! – they tasted of his enjoyment of them.  He would do little tricks that I loved and made me laugh.  We would share maté together and try and catch each other out pretending to drop the maté gourd as we passed it to one another.   

And at the end of the day, he´d shut up shop and go home.  

He wasn´t addicted to being there, he didn´t need to be there for his self esteem, he just liked it.  He wasn´t always happy, lets not get back into the levitating image again - he had bad days - but most days he was a high energy repeater station of peaceful happiness, sat on the driveway in his deckchair, or coming out from under some old banger on a slidey back rest, with a beamer of a smile, teeth all the more white for the black oil on his cheek.  He treated me like a human being instead of gringa-got-lost and was one of the few who make the effort to hear through my impossibly thick accent.  I was almost glad when my dear little dark blue Fiat 600 broke down, because I had an excuse to go and see him.  I would come out with not only the car fixed, but me fixed.

 And that, I think, is the path of individuation.  Finding what makes us tick.  But don´t go thinking of setting up your own little mechanic workshop in Mendoza where the wine grapes grow plump.  I, for one, would go crazy in his shoes.  I don´t like getting my hands dirty.

I loved my Fiat 600 so much I painted it.

We all must find what we like, and move towards it with grace.  It is not easy.  Discovering our talents is impossible to do without discovering those things about ourselves that we would prefer to stay ignorant of.  Digging into us, brings out fear, guilt, and all sorts of complexes about being free, about being our true selves.  We must be brave enough to accept both sides of the story.

My mate Anna said to me, “If I played the trumpet, I would go down to the sea and play it there on the end of a pier, looking out over the sea.”  Crikey! I suddenly realised how uncreative I was being playing into my open wardrobe to amortize the sound…and maybe, if I have a good day, I may get up the courage to do it: just for me, because I want to, because it makes me feel realised, real.  Alive.   

For I believe we can all find, in our own individual manner, our wonderful ways to drink from the source, creating a connection with that energy giving substance that we call life.

Friday, 4 March 2011


  I don’t know why I was still sat crosslegged on the mud floor of the Nepalese orphanage´s dining room when I had long finished the dahl baht. Maybe I had free time with no duties; maybe I was sat in Mandukasana – the Frog pose – to help digestion; maybe I was just being plain lazy. What I do know is that I was sat quietly, motionless, gazing through the door and marvelling to myself how the corn seed, that had been planted around the time of my arrival, had grown to be a couple of meters tall, how the heads were beginning to look like something I could imagine eating, with butter.  
Dhananjay, Sumitra and Namita in the Ashram´s Dining Room.
Curiously they are sitting exactly where I was in this story.
The door is to their 2 o´clock (right)

Rishi had come to the ashram a month before. He had travelled a brave, difficult path, for after marriage, he had felt the need to embark on a spiritual life, which his wife was unprepared to follow. It had lead to their physical separation which, presumably especially in Nepalese culture, was an extremely delicate situation. We spoke about it a little, about his hurt, how it laced into his joy of finding this spiritual path.
Rishi, I and a few others, did yoga in the morning together under the we-would-like-to-say “expertise” eye of Doctor Gopal at 6 am: which in Nepal is late. The children, my little children as I mother-duckingly felt towards the end, were up at 5am with their yoga. I was so proud of them! I was only just able to crawl out of bed with Gopal knocking at my door at 5.45 am for communal tea and biscuits in my bedroom. That is when I realised that: 1) privacy is something that is within us, not without; and 2) always wear pyjamas. Anyway, Rishi and I were co-walkers for a while along the same path.
The children in the yoga hall, 5am.
So, I´m sat there on the mud floor looking at the green corn, and suddenly -¡click! - it is as if my vision has changed from an old grainy fuzzy film to a modern crystal clear format…the colours jump out, saturated in a greener than green, in a brilliantly dazzling green, and I don´t know if before there had been a slight breeze but I suddenly notice it, and see how the corn, so vibrant, seems to come alive and dance in that breeze, how different greens weave a pattern of sensual art, of pleasure, of being, and I am filled with joy, and want to sing the song the breeze is making. And there, in the dining room, I find that I have suddenly burst into song…I feel so connected with everything, with the corn outside shining into the shadowy room, as if live itself were right there at the doorway…and I look around, most of the children had finished eating their rice with a splattering of vegetables, and have gone to do their chores. There must have been maybe four children still - and Rishi. I look at him. He is sat with his direction towards me. I can´t remember if he has his eyes closed or not, but then we make eye contact, and I beam at him, he beams back, as if we have shared an intimate moment…and hesitatingly I say (and it is the first and last time I have ever said this to anyone):
“Have you been sending me energy?” And he replies in his Nepali accent, a little embarrassed,
“Yes, I have been sending you Reiki.” Suddenly it all makes sense!...the dancing green, the livid breeze, the burst into song. “I must apologise, you really must never send Reiki until you have sought permission. You must always ask before doing so.” He says awkwardly.
“Ohh Rishi, it was wonderful. Thank you.”

How could I have been anything other than thankful to him? And later I realise just how fortunate it was that he hadn´t asked me for the said permission - for otherwise I would have thought it was my head playing tricks again. I would never have had the opportunity to experience, innocently, those moments and the effects of someone sending me “energy”. It is an Aloe-vera soothing relief when, on that high vertigo verge of serious doubting, of wondering if this time if I really am going mad – the image of that doorway, with the corn outside, most needingly flashes back from memory in the knick of time. I can only be eternally grateful to Rishi, wherever he is, whatever he is doing, for giving me this heart-warming, sanity-saving proof. I don´t know what to call it - energy, libido (the energy of life, not just the sexual), Eros, Caritas, Spirit – who knows? But whatever it was, I know it does, it really does, exist.

Prem and Jivan collecting
cow food from the next field to the corn.