Posts Tagged ‘symbolism’

A few notes on ritual, consciousness and subconsciousness. The poetic subconscious

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Has it been a whole year since I wrote last?  There is a lot of catching up to do related to issues mentioned in the last entry.  Perhaps I shall deal with them in a separate post soon but right now I want to register some thoughts while they are still fresh in my mind as I feel they are important.

Most of us have little idea how much is in our unconsciousness.  It’s not just an archive of memories and percolating urgings, there is so much more than that.  Down there is actually the greater part of our personality, all that makes us who we are, which is why it is so utterly vital that know ourselves, truly KNOW ourselves and can properly communicate with ourselves.

Our unconscious is a poet, a dreamer and in some senses a child.  Not a child now, greater than a child but it, or rather he or she, shares much in common with a child.  It feels more deeply, colourfully and vividly than our conscious mind can.   No offence intended.. if you conscious mind feels deeply just know that your unconscious feels far more deeply.  In many matters your unconscious mind can think faster and more effectively than our conscious mind. All this is known. Have you noticed when you are going quickly through multiple choice questions you find yourself many times already focussed on the correct answer? Your unconscious mind has already figured it out.  That is just recall and is no great surprise but your unconscious mind can do much more sophisticated calculations than that.

It’s up to our conscious awareness to exercise control, to vet those conclusions, and THAT is why we need to know ourselves. We need to know if and when any of those ideas are valid or if they are coloured by wishful thinking or any urges or impulses which really should be ignored.  Our conscious mind is our last arbiter, our reality check but it’s still only the very tip of the iceberg, the part that feels the wind in its face.

But that’s not really my interest here. I could go on about how people are not fully aware of their subconscious, deny its significance, deny they even have one in some cases. Woefully disconnected people, I worry about them. Another greater issue is communication in the other direction.  The thoughts and feelings of the subconscious constantly percolate up into our awareness all the time and often put us in moods we might not understand. We should try, but again I am getting sidetracked.  Perhaps by my subconscious!  Perhaps there is some resistance there to what I want to say so it has me typing typing typing.

Oh no, I’m putting down my foot here. It’s time to reverse the flow.  The unconscious is a great and powerful child monster poet which pulls in information from its senses and magically transforms it all into inner dream. Our responsible day to day mind acts on the world in all kinds of responsible ways, doing work, helping people,  performing all kinds of responsible acts.. this is all coming from the top.  Two kinds of acts are NOT happening.

We are not usually directly communicating with the unconscious and we are not acting with our ENTIRE selves on the world. We act on the world with our upper mind and our physical bodies but we are not acting on the world with our whole mind, which is considerably more powerful.

We might think that this is not even possible but it is. THIS is the function of ritual.  THIS is what religious ritual is for and all about.  Religious ritual is a way to communicate our final thoughts, our conscious awareness to our deeper selves.

We know this is true simply by the results of the usual rituals we know, namely marriage, rites of passage.  This is also true for ritual conversion and similar customs.

They’re far more than mere conforming to the custom of society.  They CHANGE us. They change us on a very deep level, assuming we do them mindfully. That is essential. Mindfulness, kavana, is everything.  If we don’t mean it, it’s literally empty ritual and means absolutely nothing.  Some people these days think all ritual is empty but they throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak. Sad sad misunderstanding!

The more we carefully prepare the ritual, the more effort we put into it, the more it will mean to us but we still have to be mindful about what we are doing.  Marriage is one of the best examples but the reality is that it is equally important for divorce and for any relationship’s end to also be ritualized.

The subconscious needs to know what is going on in our lives in terms of acts of greater meaning and there must not be a dissonance between what we know and what we feel on deeper levels or we shall have no peace.  Ritual is our way of telling it because it is poetic, symbolic and because our subconscious is poetic and symbolic, as are our dreams,  it will accept this language of communication.  Therefore it will accept the reality of what we tell it.. whether it is a relationship commitment, a change to a new phase of life, or a forgiving, yes a forgiving, that’s a big one, or an oathtaking, an oath releasing or ANYTHING that implies a longer term commitment.

I cannot emphasize too much f how important it is to communicate to our deeper minds any long term commitments, so that there will not be dissonance and that there will be peace.  Many feel at loose ends, hoping that something OUT there, the other party perhaps, will help us tie up loose ends, bring us to resolution, to reach closure.  We cannot rely on that.  People go out of our lives without closure, endings can be messy, old abuse goes unforgiven and festers within us.  We feel restless and discontent on a deep level but we CANNOT expect any thing out there to bring us closure, not death, not chance meetings or any ending of our dreams. And so we sit in miserable limbo, and many often try to drink away the ache or indulge in various entertainments to escape the pain we have not dealt with.

Stop the escape and MAKE a ritual, whether it’s a divorce, a forgiving, a letting go or whatever the need.  It’s time to get creative and find SOME way of bringing about a change to our inner being.  The forms of marriage have been made for us by society but what about other changes?  It has to be real for us.  If you don’t feel creative enough to come up with your own ritual, there is help. These days, thanks to net information, it’s extraordinarily easy to access details of ancient rituals to help us, rituals that appeal to us. We are probably best starting our research in our society of origin but if not satisfied we can look further.  You just do a google search, it’s all out there.  It doesn’t matter if you think amethysts, for example,  have power or not, that’s not relevant at all.  You use these items simply as symbols, as a means to talk to that poetic, symbolic unconscious mind, to bring peace and release on all levels.

Why delay such peace?

Remember, the forms are just forms, to channel your mindfulness, to make it concrete, to create the commitment poem.  You still have to say it like you mean it, do it like you mean it. Mindfulness is everything.

What of the other communication I hinted upon ? The acting of the *entire self* on the world?  Well, when a ritual has been successful you can feel the effect on your entire being, you feel the change deep within yourself and the peace.  What if we could harness the tremendous power of our entire subconscious will and draw blessing in the world?

THAT is true prayer, and that is much of the rest of religious practice,  and with that we must be very careful because it also has its negative directions as you can already guess.  This is the subject of another, future post, but suffice to say, NO outward prayer will be very effective if we are in conflict within ourselves.  THAT we must sort out first.  We can pray for wisdom about how to do this but that’s just the first step.

We must have an integrated inner self before we can begin to draw blessing.