Chp 15

The Circle of Life: My Journey Continues

Hang onto your sense of humor, he crys?

July 19th 2013: I wake to another brilliant Sydney, winter's morning, and a Kookaburra laughing, G'Day mate!

It feels like I've come full-circle, back to 1980, in a way. Back to the same Mystical sense of wonder, I felt during that two week period, when I was simply trying to bring out more of the innate, within me. Such is the power of hindsight I guess, and the reality that we don't really possess this faculty called "insight," in my opinion. Intuition, seems more like the natural insight we gain into reality, from time to time.

Writing of circles and thinking of cycles, I'm reminded of the rush of intuition which infused a period of euphoric mania in 2010, when I acted out an active psychosis within the online community of The Icarus which, envisions a new culture and language that resonates with our actual experiences of 'mental illness' rather than trying to fit our lives into a conventional framework. We are a network of people living with and/or affected by experiences that are often diagnosed and labeled as psychiatric conditions. We believe these experiences are mad gifts needing cultivation and care, rather than diseases or disorders. By joining together as individuals and as a community, the intertwined threads of madness, creativity, and collaboration can inspire hope and transformation in an oppressive and damaged world.
Here is one of the mad gifts (or insanity?) that I posted there, on my own blog thread back in October 2010:
I'll explain what this apparent madness means, further down this page.
The River of Life:

We came out of Africa two rivers of life, one turned left and one turned right in this circle of life:

Two flowing rivers of life with sym - parasym flight, start the evolution of human insight.

The system the system, oh how they fight/flight, while others freeze/fright, & what is this! just a surprise.

The system the system of which you rage and fight, is deep inside you right!, metabolic energies for fear and joy and shame and pride swirl and swell.

It's the System Man, the System Man.

Zombie: it's in your head, as we sleepwalk through this life?

We can wake up, we can go home and feel our way to which we Lost.

Please read: educate yourself about yourself and free yourself from the dissociation of the mind, those thoughts and words of rationalized distancing from emotions & the power of the heart. NEUROCEPTION: A Subconscious System for Detecting Threats and Safety

Our 1st Glance Assumption, of Objective Rationality?
Hence; your first glance assumption may be, "what have you been smoking, Batesy?"

Or for my fellow travelers in the not so wonderful world of apparent mental illness, "have you taken some antipsychotic pills and been triggered into mania, again?" Well, having transformed the rushing metabolic energies of manic euphoria, I guess, I now need to show how these natural "highs" come from within, and do give us access to states of mind, beyond our normal rational sense of self, which predominately based on self-defenses. Please consider a comment I made yesterday, about a recent Robert Whitaker post on Mad in America Harrow + Wunderink + Open Dialogue = An Evidence-based Mandate for A New Standard of Care: Robert writes;

"In a remarkable editorial in JAMA Psychiatry accompanying the Wunderink report, Patrick McGorry and his co-authors argue that psychiatry needs to respond to this data and adopt new drug-use protocols, and if you read their editorial carefully, they are embracing both elements of the Open Dialogue protocol for prescribing antipsychotics. They wrote: “In moving to a more personalized or stratified medicine, we first need to identify the very small number of patients who may be able to recover from first episode psychosis with intensive psychosocial interventions alone. For everyone else, we need to determine which medication, for how long, in what minimal dose, and what range of intensive psychosocial interventions will be needed to help them get well, stay well, and lead fulfilling and productive lives. These factors have rarely been the goal in the real world of clinical psychiatry—something we must finally address now that we are armed with stronger evidence to counter poor practice.”

That was the argument made in JAMA Psychiatry. There is new evidence to counter current poor practice standards. Try to get people through a first episode with “psychosocial interventions alone,” and for the rest of the patients, adopt protocols that help people get on minimal doses or off the drugs altogether over the long-term. Psychiatry has an evidence-based mandate to change.

In my opinion, this represents a defining moment for the profession. If it changes its protocols for prescribing antipsychotics, in the manner set forth in the JAMA Psychiatry editorial, then “hats off” to the profession. It will have responded to evidence that didn’t show up in shorter withdrawal studies, and changed its ways in response to new evidence, even though that will surely be a difficult thing to do. This would be a beautiful—and inspiring—change to watch.

But, if psychiatry doesn’t amend its protocols, and if psychiatry doesn’t sponsor new research to best reach these goals, then—and I know no other way to say this—then I think psychiatry will have to be seen, by mainstream society, as a failed medical discipline. Psychiatry will no longer be able to claim that its practices are evidence-based and driven by a desire to achieve the best possible outcomes for its patients. Instead, the lack of change will be evidence that its prescribing practices are, in fact, driven by an ideology, which is to maintain a societal belief that antipsychotics are a necessary long-term treatment for psychotic disorders, and that it is more important for the profession to maintain that belief than it is to help those it treats to have the best chance possible to achieve a good functional outcome, which is the outcome that counts.

Which will it be? My optimistic self hopes for the first outcome, while my realistic self expects the latter. And if it proves to be the latter, this will be a medical story of continuing harm done, and, I would argue, it would be reason for our society to conclude that the care of “psychotic” patients can no longer be entrusted to the psychiatric profession."

My response in promoting this seemingly watershed moment for psychiatry;
Will all the research evidence and all the recent book publications, be ignored?
I think the problem is the taken for granted prominence of our "objective" rationality, and the assumption that it contains some kind of special insight? The consensus of the group, towards this image of reason, will therefore go to any lengths to protect it, hence psychiatrists become the mind police for society at large, where the average citizen is scared to death by the kind of innate experiences, people with a so-called mental illness go through. IMO this is not madness or the mental illness of a diseased brain, but simply the acute sensitivity of being human. We should remember that to the great Mystics, Normality is Psychotic?

It was a comment which followed hot on the heals of another statement yesterday, as I grow increasingly confident in my journey;

Is our "objective rationality," too defensive?
As Buddha noted, our objective reality, is illusionary.
Lift the veil a little more & realize the defensive and dark side of your objective rationality. Real human intelligence is emotional, intuitive, innate and entirely creative, because that's what mother nature and the cosmos, created you for. Too much of our so-called objective insight, is based on our instinctive need to survive, that's all. In Silvan Tomkins brilliant work on our innate nature, he notes 9 primary affect-emotions, only 2 of which are considered entirely positive. Interest-Excitement and Enjoyment-Joy, the other seven are devoted to your immediate need to survive the possible dangers of the present moment. Going beyond this innate need of wary self-defense is what happens to all the great mystics, including Buddha, Jesus & Muhammad, as they faced the nature of their own reality and transcended an innate sense of FEAR.

Do I make these claims off the top of my head, as appears in my excited posts, back in 2010? My heading above, “Our 1st Glance Assumption” relates to my newly acquired Buddhist perspective on our psychological-blindness, cognitive dissonance, and “unconscious” neuroceptive scanning, for what, psychologically, we already know? As described in Chp 17, “Psychologically, we can only take in what we currently know, and sense our immediate surroundings, life is not a thought, it’s an experience.” As Allan N Schore points out, these unconscious processes, occur a speeds (within the brain/nervous systems) so fast, they do not cross the threshold of conscious awareness. In my own experience, I’ve had to learn how to decipher the sensations and impulses of my physiological functioning, which I habitually rationalize, in-line with our consensus opinion of what happens to us, in the lived moment. I’ve had to learn, just how much, my mind’s effort, is about the “dampening” of my internal emotional reactivity. Hence, I’ve been prone to ruminating rationalizations to self-sooth, my internal energies. The engine of which, is my heart.

I understand just how “odd” my excited, intuitive posts in 2010 will appear at first glance. Yet my task has been to fathom the nature of my intuitive, highly sensitive nature (my nervous systems) and just how meaningful this kind of excited intuitive rush of awareness can be. I had to learn how to wait on my organic processes of blending acquired knowledge, with a natural, experiential and intuitive process. In simple terms, there are cycles of energy charge and discharge, within my body/brain/nervous systems, which allow a higher “resonance” and attunement towards the nature of reality, within and without. My “intuitive” moments during periods of heightened energy discharge (euphoric mania) have been clues to follow, in my opinion and continue to bare fruit. These clues, are in my opinion, about the nature of being human. Clues about “what we are,” beyond our normal social sense of “who we are.” We are, in my opinion, a Messiah Species, a mechanism of Cosmic Eternity. Please consider an excerpt from a book by one of most renowned new age voices of our time and the inherent madness of being human;

“According to Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of “original sin.” Sin is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from the ancient Greek in which the New Testament was written, to sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent in the human condition.

The achievements of humanity are impressive and undeniable. We have created sublime works of music, literature, painting, architecture, and sculpture. More recently, science and technology have brought about radical changes in the way we live and have enabled us to do and create things that would have been considered miraculous even two hundred years ago. No doubt: The human mind is highly intelligent. Yet its very intelligence is tainted by madness. Science and technology have magnified the destructive impact that the dysfunction of the human mind has upon the planet, other life-form’s, and upon humans themselves. That is why the history of the twentieth century is where that dysfunction, that collective insanity, can be most clearly recognized. A further factor is that this dysfunction is actually intensifying and accelerating.

The First World War broke out in 1914. Destructive and cruel wars, motivated by fear, greed, and the desire for power, had been common occurrences throughout human history, as had slavery, torture, and widespread violence inflicted for religious and ideological reasons. Humans suffered more at the hands of each other than through natural disasters. By the year 1914, however, the highly intelligent human mind had invented not only the internal combustion engine, but also bombs, machine guns, submarines, flame throwers, and poison gas. Intelligence in the service of madness! In static trench warfare in France and Belgium, millions of men perished to gain a few miles of mud. When the war was over in 1918, the survivors look in horror and incomprehension upon the devastation left behind: ten million human beings killed and many more maimed or disfigured. Never before had human madness been so destructive in its effect, so clearly visible. Little did they know that this was only the beginning.

By the end of the century, the number of people who died a violent death at the hand of their fellow humans would rise to more than one hundred million. They died not only through wars between nations, but also through mass exterminations and genocide, such as the murder of twenty million “class enemies, spies, and traitors” in the Soviet Union under Stalin or the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. They also died in countless smaller internal conflicts, such as the Spanish civil war or during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia when a quarter of that country’s population was murdered.

We only need to watch the daily news on television to realize that the madness has not abated, that is continuing into the twenty first century. Another aspect of the collective dysfunction of the human mind is the unprecedented violence that humans are inflicting on other life-forms and the planet itself – the destruction of oxygen producing forests and other plant and animal life; ill treatment of animals in factory farms; and poisoning of rivers, oceans, and air. Driven by greed, ignorant of their connectedness to the whole, humans persist in behavior that, if continued unchecked, can only result in their own destruction.

The collective manifestations of the insanity that lies at the heart of the human condition constitute the greater part of human history. It is to a large extent a history of madness. If the history of humanity were the clinical case history of a single human being, the diagnosis would have to be: chronic paranoid delusions, a pathological propensity to commit murder and acts of extreme violence and cruelty against his perceived “enemies” – his own unconsciousness projected outward. Criminally insane, with a few brief lucid intervals.

Fear, greed, and the desire for power are the psychological motivating forces not only behind warfare and violence between nations, tribes, religions, and ideologies, but also the cause of incessant conflict in personal relationships. They bring about a distortion in your perception of other people and yourself. Through them, you misinterpret every situation, leading to misguided action designed to rid you of fear and satisfy your need for more, a bottomless hole that can never be filled.

Trying to become a good or better human being sounds like a commendable and high minded thing to do, yet it is an endeavor you cannot ultimately succeed in unless there is a shift in consciousness. This is because it is still part of the same dysfunction, a more subtle and rarefied form of self-enhancement, of desire for more and a strengthening of one’s conceptual identity, one’s self-image. You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness.

Excerpts from “A NEW EARTH” by Eckhart Tolle.

My Psychoses, have fundamentally changed my state of consciousness.
Yet mainstream psychiatry considers hypersensitive people like me, pathological?

Please consider excerpts from a dissertation on Psychosis and Spirituality;
Similarities between mystical experience and “madness” have been noted since ancient times. Mystics have long been persecuted for their experiences, which to some may look like mental disorder, but for initiates are signposts that they are on the right path. Even today, the ancient practices of many tribal and indigenous peoples would be considered a psychotic disorder by mainstream psychiatrists.

Psychiatry, in general, makes no distinction between mystical experiences and mental illness, and shows no recognition of the contribution made by the great spiritual teachings into the systemic study of consciousness. Consequently the concepts and practices based on centuries of deep psychological exploration and experimentation are dismissed and the fruits of this practice ignored (Grof and Grof, 1989).


Peak experiences have been reported by millions of people both males and females of all ages, from diverse social and educational backgrounds with various religious affiliations (Austin, 19980). During his initial research, Maslow (1971) believed that all individuals were capable of peak experiences and even came to the expectation that all participants in his research would report a peak experience. Those who did not, he called non-peakers, not because they could not have this type of experience but because he believed that they somehow suppressed or denied them. Maslow considered “non-peakers” to be rational or mechanistic and therefore regarded their peak experiences as a form of insanity. He believed that the individual who is afraid of losing control would desperately try to stabilize or hold onto their reality and push the peak experience away.

In general terms, does this fear of losing control, apply to the consensus reality we all share, as a socially constructed, group mind, in our generational need to keep madness, out of sight and out of consensus awareness, so that we can remain in denial? What does the Biblical story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den really refer to, when we think in terms of metaphor & projected internal energies? Both the Lion & the Dragon have long been associated with the fiery energies of the human heart, and this “projection” is seen most recently in the movie Avatar, when Jake Sully, that well know scoun, is foolish enough to try to Master the red dragon of Psychosis, IMO. Yet what benefits flow to the tribe, when the born to be sensitive’s, manage this age-old challenge, to decipher the needs of our Cosmic Soul & our Destiny, as a sentient species? IMO we are the children of this Universe and its own evolved mechanism (hate that Descartes, term, that limited cause and effect logic, “as if,” we are a machine), of Eternity.)

Maslow’s (1971) research demonstrated that peak experiences can occur in the middle of everyday events in the most common of surroundings. Maslow was surprised to find many of his undergraduate students having peak experiences which they described in similar language to that used by spiritual leaders in the East and West, thus implying that one does not need to be a mystic to experience a peak state (Hoffman, 1988). In fact Maslow said:

“The great lesson from the true mystics, from Zen monks, and now also from the humanistic and transpersonal psychologists - that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s backyard. (Maslow, 1971, p, x)

According to Maslow (1986), these experiences lie at the core of moments of ecstasy and deep mystical and transcendental experiences such as those explored by William James. (link to “the varieties of religious experience")

Other models of Peak Experience:

Maslow’s description of the peak experience is similar to the description given by Rogers (1980) for the “fully-functioning person.” Rogers originally described this as being open to experience, process oriented, caring, non-materialistic, anti-institutional, holding an inner sense of power, somewhat skeptical of science and technology, having a desire for authenticity, wholeness, intimacy and the spiritual. Like Maslow, Rogers was aware that only a minority of the population reached this state and of these, only a few possessed each of the characteristics.

Maslow also considered the height of the peak experience similar to Cosmic consciousness (Bucke, 1923/1969) and the mystical experience as outlined by James (1902/2007), who identified four characteristics of the mystical experience: 1. Ineffability; the experience defies expression, its quality must be experienced, it cannot be transferred, it is more like a state of feeling rather than intellect. 2. Noetic quality; a state of knowledge providing insights into the depth of truth beyond the grasp of the intellect, illuminations and revelations of significance transcending time and space. 3. Transiency; mystical states cannot be sustained, they are fleeting, rarely lasting up to half an hour at most, once faded they can be somewhat imperfectly reproduced. 4. Passivity; the individual’s will is suspended and one is held by a superior power, various phenomena such as autonomic writing, trance or prophetic speech are experienced and although not often recalled the individual senses their importance.

Cosmic conflict involving a dramatic clash of opposites-combat between the forces of light and darkness. With archetypal images as primordial patterns which form the basic content of religions, mythologies, legends and fairy tales of all ages. (which has been my intuitive, yet unarticulated understanding for a long time now.)

Excerpts from: The Differentiation of Psychosis & Spiritual Emergency by Monika Goretzki. (comments in brackets and blue, mine)

* * * * * * *

Within hours of me writing the above, I wake to find a post on Mad in America, from my kindred spirit, Michael Cornwall PhD. Consider my response to his post: Dreams: Still the Royal Road to the Unconscious

Brother Michael, I’m so happy to see this lived perspective on the madness of our 2013, “objectified” sense of self. The very sense of self which presumes itself intelligent, while remaining in deep, socially constructed denial about our true nature, IMO.

Only this morning, half a world away from you, I find myself writing these notes to myself, in my journal, as I continue an inward journey, which began with my “flight” to Thailand, three and half years ago. Please consider;

“Noticed, projected anger this morning, from the frustration of my life-long “outsider” position and working on my more academic essay. Yet, at the same time being aware of how a frustrating “process” helps me to better articulate my intuitive sense of reality, as it is. I’m struggling with how best to say to myself and others, how our self-deluding, yet consensually accepted “subject – object” orientation, of our intelligent mind, adopts the “projected” illusion of objective reality, in service of denial.”

My intuitive, “day-dream” sense, of how our need to sanctify the mind, reflects our need to control our evolved, innate, nature. Hence, our urge to dominate Mother nature, seems to reflect the evolved mind’s need to dominate those powerful, archetypal forces within, which are the forces of our Cosmic evolution, as a sentient life-form.

I include an excerpt from this chapter of my journal come memoir, and conclude with these remarks;
Sadly, the need to embrace the current group mind, tends to lead transpersonal writer’s into a dichotomy of suggestion, that there is a “clinical” difference between psychosis and mysticism, which IMO, reflects the current limitations of our “cause and effect intelligence.” Even the scientists who embrace “systems theory,” which is now illuminating the systems growth of our early maturing brain/nervous systems, within the first years of life, acknowledge that they revert to cause and effect language, in everyday dialogue, with family and friends. It does seem though, that we are on the road to the Kingdom of Heaven, as the rise and rise of mass education, lifts the perceptual capacity of our younger generations. President Obama’s impromptu remarks about the Trayvon Martin case, reflect this reality, IMO. He noted how, observing his children and their friends, that they were accepting the generational challenge to do it better than we did.

I know you will recognize John Weir Perry's contribution to this fine dissertation, in the language of our Cosmic struggle, to become Buddha, within this eternal now. The literal translation of Buddha, meaning, AWAKE."

* * * * * * *

Innate Intuition & its need of Meaningful Articulation?
A meaningful explanation of my apparently manically over excited, and mad post in 2010:

We came out of Africa two rivers of life, one turned left and one turned right in this circle of life:
Two flowing rivers of life with sym - parasym flight, start the evolution of human insight.

The system the system, oh how they fight/flight, while others freeze/fright, what is this! just a surprise.

The system the system of which you rage and fight, is deep inside you right!, metabolic energies for fear and joy and shame and pride swirl and swell.

It's the System Man, the System Man.

Zombie: it's in your head, as we sleepwalk through this life?

We can wake up, we can go home and feel our way to which we Lost.

Please read: educate yourself about yourself and free yourself from the dissociation of the mind, those thoughts and words of rationalized distancing from emotions & the power of the heart.
 NEUROCEPTION: A Subconscious System for Detecting Threats and Safety

This “apparently” meaningless comment, made on a personal blog titled ????, is a product of intuition, gleaned from all my previous reading of neuroscience, particularly professor Stephen Porges “The Polyvagal Theory.” The sense of two rivers of life, referring to the mobilization of our internal, metabolic energies, by our autonomic nervous system. An autonomic system which develops early on in our personal embryology, along with our heart and spinal cord. The same autonomic nervous system we share with all other mammals, in the evolution of life on earth. This comment comes during an active psychosis, when the “unconscious” activity of my nervous systems, is trying to “affect” within me, a new orientation to life, as it is.

Please consider the most useful phrase from my therapist training: “all behavior is communication?” With this phrase in mind, my seemingly bizarre comment is behavior which is my own unconscious, communicating with my conscious mind, and trying to break through its rationalizing, denial. My “normal” sense of self, driven, not so much by my perception of reality as it is, but my need to embrace consensus reality (group think), which is driven, in my opinion, by our unconscious attachment need. A vital, life affirming attachment need, of which, as Porges points out in his paper on “perception,” enables an unconscious sense of safety, so that our innate gift of sentience can unfold, its ongoing evolution of consciousness. A consciousness which is Cosmic in Origin.

The intuitive reference to the this river of life, comes from my awareness of climate and temperature and its affect on our unconscious motivation. Written while living in Thailand, where I was daily immersed in a culture driven more by parasympathetic (passive) metabolic energy, than my own Caucasian culture of dominating “fight/flight” sympathetic (active) metabolic energy. Earlier in my life I had read about this effect of climate, on human temperament, and my reading of Allan N Schore’s writing had enabled a growing sense of my own internal thermodynamics, which I consciously, unknowingly denied , in my normal embrace of our rationalizing, mechanistic, cause and effect logic. My “outburst,” when viewed through the eyes of Freud’s “iceberg” metaphor, is my innate need (intuition) to breakthrough my rationalizing defenses, which evolved to deny the harsh reality of my life‘s true condition. My human self-consciousness and my awareness of death? As Carl Jung explained (once Freud’s favorite disciple, in other words, son) the challenge of our second half of life, is individuation? Or in Murray Bowen’s terminology, self-differentiation? A challenge which had begun to quicken my own examination of my “unconscious” processes, when I undertook my differentiation of self assignment, back in 2006. A time when my therapist training, including two years of group therapy, had introduced me to family therapy and Monica McGoldrick’s potent phrase. “Loss is the pivotal human experience?” In my opinion, it is the fear of loss, which drives so much of our rationalizing denial, about the nature of reality and human life.

In 2006, at the end of our two year involvement in group therapy, my fellow students and I, “universally” expressed the opinion, “I hardly knew myself, al all,” before this exploration of unconscious processes, using Irvin Yalom’s method of “process illumination,” described in his classic volume “??????” And as I write these words, I’m reminded of the pop-culture phrase “the illuminati.” And that well known habit of commonsense, which takes snippets of science virtue and turns it into a titillating fantasy? Not, in my opinion, because the common ego is twisted in its reasoning logic, simply because we don’t understand unconscious processes, and our need to create internal energy states. Hence, the term illuminati, is an intuitive hint to our normal conscious perception, about following a real-life need, to look within. Readers familiar with Buddhist practice will, perhaps, intuitively, “get” this point I’m trying to make? Which was the point I was trying to “intuitively” make to myself, back in 2010? A sudden burst of mania fueled (heightened activity of both branches of my autonomic nervous system and their stimulation of my heart, and the reciprocal activity of my heartfelt intuition) unconscious knowing, of that which must be denied, in daily cycle of energy arousal. The hidden inner, circle/cycle of Life? This need to turn within, and further illuminate the meaning of life and the human condition, has long tradition and is perhaps, best articulated by Joseph Campbell’s, understanding of all the world’s mythology, and our evolving recognition of the Cosmic drama, played out in our brain/nervous systems growing appreciation of sign and symbol? This later life need to turn within, perhaps, best summed up by Socrates parental question: “Is the unexamined life, worth living?” Hence, I write;

Is the Unexamined Life worth Living?
Is the Hero's Journey, applicable to an ordinary, individual life?
Please consider the Cosmic Mythology of our Evolution;

Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience. His philosophy is often summarized by his phrase: "Follow your bliss." Please consider;

Joseph Campbell's monomyth, or the hero's journey, is a basic pattern that its proponents argue is found in many narratives from around the world. This widely distributed pattern was described by Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).

An enthusiast of novelist James Joyce, Campbell borrowed the term monomyth from Joyce's Finnegans Wake. Campbell held that numerous myths from disparate times and regions share fundamental structures and stages, which he summarized in The Hero with a Thousand Faces:
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

Campbell and other scholars, such as Erich Neumann, describe narratives of Gautama Buddha, Moses, and Christ in terms of the monomyth and Campbell argues that classic myths from many cultures follow this basic pattern.

The Crossing of the First Threshold
This is the point where the person actually crosses into the field of adventure, leaving the known limits of his or her world and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm where the rules and limits are not known.

Campbell: "With the personifications of his destiny to guide and aid him, the hero goes forward in his adventure until he comes to the 'threshold guardian' at the entrance to the zone of magnified power. Such custodians bound the world in four directions — also up and down — standing for the limits of the hero's present sphere, or life horizon. Beyond them is darkness, the unknown and danger; just as beyond the parental watch is danger to the infant and beyond the protection of his society danger to the members of the tribe. The usual person is more than content, he is even proud, to remain within the indicated bounds, and popular belief gives him every reason to fear so much as the first step into the unexplored. The adventure is always and everywhere a passage beyond the veil of the known into the unknown; the powers that watch at the boundary are dangerous; to deal with them is risky; yet for anyone with competence and courage the danger fades."

Modern Examples: In Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke enters into the threatening and unpredictable world of the Creature Cantina in Mos Eisley. He then leaves Tatooine for the first time on the Millennium Falcon. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry defeats the troll, plunging him into a situation where he and his two companions will actively fight the darker powers, rather than simply parrying the blows. In The Lord of the Rings, Sam stops in the middle of a field and says to Frodo "If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been."

Life within a Cosmic Whale?
As chemical metaphor. We can understand the Biblical
story of Jonah & the Whale, as Life inside the Cosmos.
From my, 2020: Project Realization blog.
Towards a New Sense of Self & Earth.
Belly of The Whale The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero's known world and self. By entering this stage, the person shows willingness to undergo a metamorphosis. (recall my use of Kafka's, The Metamorphosis in Chp 17)

Campbell: "The idea that the passage of the magical threshold is a transit into a sphere of rebirth is symbolized in the worldwide womb image of the belly of the whale. The hero, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown and would appear to have died. This popular motif gives emphasis to the lesson that the passage of the threshold is a form of self-annihilation. Instead of passing outward, beyond the confines of the visible world, the hero goes inward, to be born again. The disappearance corresponds to the passing of a worshipper into a temple—where he is to be quickened by the recollection of who and what he is, namely dust and ashes unless immortal.
The temple interior, the belly of the whale, and the heavenly land beyond, above, and below the confines of the world, are one and the same.

That is why the approaches and entrances to temples are flanked and defended by colossal gargoyles: dragons, lions, devil-slayers with drawn swords, resentful dwarfs, winged bulls. The devotee at the moment of entry into a temple undergoes a metamorphosis. Once inside he may be said to have died to time and returned to the World Womb, the World Navel, the Earthly Paradise. Allegorically, then, the passage into a temple and the hero-dive through the jaws of the whale are identical adventures, both denoting in picture language, the life-centering, life-renewing act."

Classical example: In the story of Dionysus, Hera sends hungry titans to devour the infant Dionysus. The Titans tore apart the child and consumed his flesh. However Dionysus's heart is saved by Hestia, goddess of the hearth, allowing Dionysus to be reborn as a god. Jonah is swallowed by a great fish in the book of Jonah (Old Testament/Hebrew Bible).

Modern Examples: In "Star Wars: A New Hope", the heroes are sucked into the enemy space fortress by a tractor beam. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo is stabbed by one of the Ringwraiths; he almost dies but his life is saved by Elrond. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry enters the Forbidden Forest and discovers the presence of Voldemort, who murdered his family and almost murdered him.


The Road of Trials:
The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests, which often occur in threes.

Campbell: "Once having traversed the threshold, the hero moves in a dream landscape of curiously fluid, ambiguous forms, where he must survive a succession of trials. This is a favorite phase of the myth-adventure. It has produced a world literature of miraculous tests and ordeals. The hero is covertly aided by the advice, amulets, and secret agents of the supernatural helper whom he met before his entrance into this region. Or it may be that he here discovers for the first time that there is a benign power everywhere supporting him in his superhuman passage. The original departure into the land of trials represented only the beginning of the long and really perilous path of initiatory conquests and moments of illumination. Dragons have now to be slain and surprising barriers passed — again, again, and again. Meanwhile there will be a multitude of preliminary victories, unretainable ecstasies and momentary glimpses of the wonderful land."

Classical Example: "In fitting in the theme of tests often occurring in threes, Jesus is tempted by Satan three times in the desert. Jesus passes each of these three temptations, and the narrative moves more firmly to Jesus' divinity."

Modern Examples: In The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship fight their way through to go through the mines of Moria, Gandalf is lost fighting the Balrog. In Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke rescues the princess from the Death Star, but Obi-wan is killed by Darth Vader. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry enters the realm of the trapdoor that's guarded by the three-headed dog and undergoes a series of trials.

The Meeting With the Goddess:
This is the point when the person experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all encompassing, unconditional love that a fortunate infant may experience with his or her mother. This is a very important step in the process and is often represented by the person finding the other person that he or she loves most completely.

Campbell: "The ultimate adventure, when all the barriers and ogres have been overcome, is commonly represented as a mystical marriage of the triumphant hero-soul with the Queen Goddess of the World. This is the crisis at the nadir, the zenith, or at the uttermost edge of the earth, at the central point of the cosmos, in the tabernacle of the temple, or within the darkness of the deepest chamber of the heart. The meeting with the goddess (who is incarnate in every woman) is the final test of the talent of the hero to win the boon of love (charity: amor fati), which is life itself enjoyed as the encasement of eternity. And when the adventurer, in this context, is not a youth but a maid, she is the one who, by her qualities, her beauty, or her yearning, is fit to become the consort of an immortal. Then the heavenly husband descends to her and conducts her to his bed—whether she will or not. And if she has shunned him, the scales fall from her eyes; if she has sought him, her desire finds its peace."

Modern Examples: In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry defeats Voldemort/Quirrell because touching Harry burns their flesh. The explanation that comes later is that they can't tolerate the pure love that Harry's mother had for him, and which protects him.

Woman as Temptress:
In this step, the hero faces those temptations, often of a physical or pleasurable nature, that may lead him or her to abandon or stray from his or her quest, which does not necessarily have to be represented by a woman. Woman is a metaphor for the physical or material temptations of life, since the hero-knight was often tempted by lust from his spiritual journey.

Campbell: "The crux of the curious difficulty lies in the fact that our conscious views of what life ought to be seldom correspond to what life really is. Generally we refuse to admit within ourselves, or within our friends, the fullness of that pushing, self-protective, malodorous, carnivorous, lecherous fever which is the very nature of the organic cell. Rather, we tend to perfume, whitewash, and reinterpret; meanwhile imagining that all the flies in the ointment, all the hairs in the soup, are the faults of some unpleasant someone else. But when it suddenly dawns on us, or is forced to our attention that everything we think or do is necessarily tainted with the odor of the flesh, then, not uncommonly, there is experienced a moment of revulsion: life, the acts of life, the organs of life, woman in particular as the great symbol of life, become intolerable to the pure, the pure, pure soul. The seeker of the life beyond life must press beyond (the woman), surpass the temptations of her call, and soar to the immaculate ether beyond."

Modern Examples: In Star Wars: A New Hope, Han Solo claims his reward money and leaves the rebels to fight alone only to return later to save Luke's life. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry is tempted by the Mirror of Erised as a false answer to his desires and needs. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo attempts to offer the ring to the lovely royal elf Galadriel because he belives in her power, but declines when he sees what it would do to her.

Consider this Aussie Summary of the Hero’s Emotional Journey: by ALLEN PALMER.

That’s the Cracking Yarns take on the Hero’s Emotional Journey. I’m not suggesting you jettison Chris Vogler’s Hero’s Journey. That’s still the bible as far as I’m concerned. But hopefully this will give you a more character-oriented way of thinking about story, and maybe it will encourage more people to explore what Campbell identified and Vogler brought to the attention of film-makers all over the world. Read more here: A new character-driven Hero’s Journey by ALLEN PALMER.

* * * * * * *

My Personal Journey & need for Redemption:
Since 2007, my own hero's journey has been about family redemption.
Please consider this personal correspondence with my youngest son;

Hi Shaun, Thanks for the response, I'm really happy that we are starting to communicate like this, and I do mean it, that my "acting out," the generational violence when you were young, sends shudders down my spine these days, and makes me feel deeply ashamed. But we all, do this, "acting out," without consciously knowing how or why? Its been my task, since 2007, to understand this, within myself, and then explain it to others. I wrote to James previously, saying that once I published, to critical acclaim, the family's attitude will shift, although with little ability to really understand why. The same thing happened when I built the family business, and people's perception of me changed, even I had not changed that much. I just brought out more of what is innate, within me, as you did, that night at Jannali, in your HSC drama performance. Its a deep source of regret for me, that both you and James, gave up your acting desires, just as it is that Matthew gave up his artistic desires, and Luke his sporting prowess.

The two books are 1, about why so-called mental illness, is not a brain disease, and how, after 2007, I set about trying to find the scientific proofs to compliment my intuitive sense, that the medical model, is flawed. As my journey continues, and manage myself without medications, my ability to understand and communicate that understanding to others, is growing rapidly now. Both, amongst professionals and lay people. The second book, is about our family and the generational nature of emotional coping and how it affects each new generation. In particular, its about the pivotal experience of loss, like the life I sanctioned to be aborted when your mum & I were too young to really understand just how sacred and precious, life is.

The abortion, came through as a very strong part of the emotions, involved in my first experience of mental illness, and its possible that if we had decided to have that first child, as I wanted too, we would have had five children, 1 girl and 4 boys, just like my Grandmother. Of coarse, no one can be sure, that the first pregnancy was a girl, yet imagine what a difference a girl would have made, on both sides of our family tree? For my own mother, it would have helped to heal a childhood wound, from her abandonment, by her own mother, and for your mother, it would have allowed her and your Nan to improve the generational nature of emotional relationship. My great wish now, is get a current, academic essay, I'm working on, right, and then contact an established Australian writer to co-write a book, which will ensure its publication, by a good publishing company.

The second book, will be about my search for redemption, in the adoption of a Thai daughter, to help bring the generational wound, to a healing completion. Hopefully, this will happen before my mother dies, and we can have the experience I saw with my Grandmother, when you were still a baby. A night in Blacktown, when her great grand children gather around a curious old fossil, and I saw in her eyes, the meaning of life. She didn't need money or things, or so-called success, she saw her life's meaning, right in front of her eyes, and died knowing, just how much she'd contributed to this life, to this family. In the end, its what its all about?

As a comment of real perspective on my personal journey to discover the nature of psychosis, from the inside-out, consider a previous chapter in this journal come memoir;
In October 2010, when I’d returned to Australia towards the end of a six week long psychosis, I’d spent an evening with my best friend from 1980, and he made this interesting comment;

‘That first time, back in 1980, it felt like the real you had come out, 
 then everyone wanted you to go back into your shell again.’ 

‘People see it as a breakdown, its so disruptive to the old personality, the personality they’ve become adjusted to, but that old personality was habitually defensive and I needed a breakthrough experience to change an unconscious pattern of avoidance behavior,’ I replied.

Within four hours of me writing the above, just before turning for the night, I find an extra-ordinary moment of synchronicity-serendipity? When I open my facebook account next morning, and my best friend from 1980 has posted a photo, which is the first thing I see:

Are such real-life moments a meaningless coincidence, considering I've only seen my friend's facebook updates once or twice in the previous twelve months? It was a moment which prompted me to make another comment on Mad in America:

Is this feeling of a Cosmos longing for relationship with its children real? As I wake this morning, after recover from the above post, which had left me feeling naked, exposed, and stripped of my psychological boundaries. Those walls of Jericho which dived us from each other and our eternal soul (metaphorically speaking, of course) I’m greeted by one those synchronous moments, which have guided my path in recent years.

My best friend from 1980, and my first so-called breakdown, has posted a picture of himself and his wife. It comes just hours after me writing this;
“In October 2010, when I’d returned to Australia towards the end of a six week long psychosis, I’d spent an evening with my best friend from 1980, and he made this interesting comment;

‘That first time, back in 1980, it felt like the real you had come out, then everyone wanted you to go back into your shell again.’

( see: A Physiological Foundation – My New Realization )

‘People see it as a breakdown, its so disruptive to the old personality, the personality they’ve become adjusted to, but that old personality was habitually defensive and I needed a breakthrough experience to change an unconscious pattern of avoidance behavior,’ I replied.”

Mere meaningless coincidence? Or synchronicity? To the “objective” rational mind, such seemingly magical moments NEED to be ignored, simply because instinctual survival demands we don’t dwell in AWE of the reality of our special nature, and its SENSITIVITY, IMO.

Yet picture the image of Earth Rise from the Moon? That threshold we crossed in 1969, when the children of this Universe got to see Heaven from a true perspective, for the very first time? And to my American cousins, in that great land of paradox, which produces all measure of human madness, in all kinds, I ask you to consider the words of one of your most loved, creative artists, Harry Chapin;

“All I got is time, Nothing else is mine.
All I want is you and one more tomorrow.
Nothing lasts to long, When I leave it’s gone.
So I send my mind ahead and hope to follow.

Yes, I know I have a lifetime coming,
But I’ve got it all figured out,
Everybody’s lonely, Everybody’s lonely,
Everybody’s lonely, That’s what it’s all about.

I’ve had my share of heartaches, misfortune and mistakes.
Occasion’ly this life has left me battered.
But I can’t blame no one else, ’cause what I’ve done to myself
is the only kind of history that matters.

Yes, I know I have a lifetime coming,
But I’ve got it all figured out,
Everybody’s lonely, Everybody’s lonely,
Everybody’s lonely, That’s what it’s all about.

Now, maybe you’ll come with me, and maybe you will stay,
and maybe you’ll just watch awhile then wander.
It seems like all the good things in my life just drift away,
But maybe you will stay this time, I wonder.

Yes, I know I have a lifetime coming,
But I’ve got it all figured out,
Everybody’s lonely, Everybody’s lonely,
Everybody’s lonely, That’s what it’s all about.”

Also on this same morning I open my second facebook account and I'm prompted to respond to a status update;

David Bates shared Joseph Campbell's status. July 25:

“The spirit is the bouquet of nature.”

Excerpt From: Campbell, Joseph. “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.”

So when sharing to my wall, I write;

The True Seeker is Anointed by Nature?
In moments of extra-ordinary Synchronicity.
Moments of apparent Magic.
It seems so "unbelievable" to our "rational" mind.
Yet there is no disconnect between your Body & Mother Nature.
The disconnect is only within your Mind's Misperceptions.
Your defensively rationalizing, and "objectifying," rationally entrained, Mind.

And writing, as I am, of the nature of psychosis, its possible intuitive powers, and my life-long interest in metaphor, myth and meaning, consider another pearl of Joseph Campbell wisdom;

“Mythologies, in other words, mythologies and religions, are great poems and, when recognized as such, point infallibly through things and events to the ubiquity of a “presence” or “eternity” that is whole and entire in each. In this function all mythologies, all great poetries, and all mystic traditions are in accord; and where any such inspiriting vision remains effective in a civilization, everything and every creature within its range is alive. The first condition, therefore, that any mythology must fulfill if it is to render life to modern lives is that of cleansing the doors of perception to the wonder, at once terrible and fascinating, of ourselves and of the universe of which we are the ears and eyes and the mind.”

Excerpt From: Campbell, Joseph. “Myths to Live By.” Joseph Campbell Foundation, 2011-03-11. iBooks.

Writing the above reminded me of a previous response to a Campbell facebook quote;

David Bates shared Joseph Campbell's status. July 17:

The height of our intelligence is not "objective" rationality, IMO.
Its our innate ability to decipher meaning, our intuitive sense of life?
Is it time to stop thinking so literally, and start, once again,
to think in terms of metaphor & meaning?

"For me, myth is primarily visual, not linguistic. It comes from visions and cuts across linguistic provinces. Language is secondary—it has to do with the communication of myth."

Joseph Campbell, interviewed by Cate Miodini in Anima: An Experiential Journal, Fall Equinox 1986

Of course to our normally educated and rationally "objective" mind, such writing with copying and pasting like this, is simply egoic self-aggrandizement or self-promotion? Perhaps a diagnosing other will judge me manically excited or even psychotic? Yet consider that Lacan thought the modern ego rather hollow and descibed as nothing but lack;

Aquinas tells us, “evil cannot be known simply as evil, for its core is hollow, and can neither be recognized nor defined, save by the surrounding good,” which fits in with Lacan’s psychoanalytic definition of the ego as nothing but “lack.” The notion that pacifying passions work against the soul or form they affect, is also a statement that the essence of the self is something other, something distinct from the affecting passions. “It is this distinctness which comes to be lost.” While passion as passivity and action are retained as key categories, they are recast in a mechanistic worldview which “explains nothing,” Descartes action, rather, is the transfer of motion from oneself to another, and passion is being acted upon.

With this mechanistic turn, it seems that bodies have a “power to resist change,” as well as the power to impart motion. For Descartes, the soul is not the form that is the body’s affective power, it is the capacity to think. While the soul exists, “it is always thinking,” yet as it thinks it loses more of the physicality it once had. The eighteenth century marks a shift, instead of being reactions to invasions from something external to the self, passions become the very activities of the mind, its own motions.

The term “feeling” which used to be allied with sensation, has become a victim of our lack of precision in “affective” language. No distinction parallels Aristotle’s between our emotions and sensations. Passions or “affects” now claim to be a class of feeling, rather than something discerned by feeling. They seem to be part of one’s self-contained energetic motivation, and the original understanding of passions or affects as pacifying is lost.
(thinking has lost touch with being affected, from both within and without)

Excerpts from “The Transmission of Affect” by Teresa Brennan, PhD. (in brackets mine)

Which, as I prepare to publish this chapter prompts me to include a comment I made today, about Robert Whitaker's Mad in America webzine, where I'm now blocked from making this argument about the innate nature of psychosis;

What you fail to see or more importantly FEEL, is how this "objectifying" reason, we call the modern mind, arises in the service of "denial," and no matter how many rational arguments, research statistics or books we write. Normality will defend this modern image of reason, as if its very life depends on it? Hence we get stuck in a Cartesian Circle, in a need to avoid the reality of our nature, as an evolved animal? Most of our rationalization's are a "dissociation" from the sensation of being alive, from this perspective, hence Lacan tells us that the modern "ego" is a hollow shell, where we take refuge from the "pains" of life? In Bowen Theory, we use our egoic judgement of "otherness" to build a false sense of self? The Biblical "Last Judgement," is that generation of human beings who come to this realization, about the nature of our own reality. Whats at stake in this debate, is not just a "human rights" issue, it is the very meaning of being human and why so much of the affect/imagery of psychosis, is dripping in existential meaning?

Perhaps, historically the innate nature of psychosis has played a part in all the world's mythology? Please consider the archetype know as a Trickster;

In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior. The trickster deity breaks the rules of the gods or nature, sometimes maliciously (for example, Loki) but usually with ultimately positive effects (though the trickster's initial intentions may have been either positive or negative). Often, the bending/breaking of rules takes the form of tricks (e.g. Eris) or thievery. Tricksters can be cunning or foolish or both; they are often funny even when considered sacred or performing important cultural tasks. An example of this is the sacred Iktomi, whose role is to play tricks and games and by doing so raises awareness and acts as an equalizer.

In my view of mythology, there is nothing super-natural about all this, its simply the evolving nature of being human.

* * * * * * *

The Signs & Symbols of our Maturing Perception? 
Is it time? Time to loosen the grip of our normal denial? Our instinctive need to survive the possible dangers of the lived moment, in order to feel safe and enable the higher perceptual capacities of the human mind, to flourish? In my own journey within, a journey which began with a prayer to God, back in 1980. It now feels like I’ve come full circle, back to the metaphors in the music of life, and the album, which my best friend will tell you, seemed to drive me crazy. Please consider the wisdom in the music and its creative “intuition?”

This garden universe vibrates complete.
Some we get a sound so sweet.
Vibrations reach on up to become light,
And then thru gamma, out of sight.
Between the eyes and ears there lay,
The sounds of colour and the light of a sigh.
And to hear the sun, what a thing to believe.
But it's all around if we could but perceive.
To know ultra-violet, infra-red and X-rays,
Beauty to find in so many ways.
Two notes of the chord, that's our fluoroscope.
But to reach the chord is our lifes hope.
And to name the chord is important to some.
So they give a word, and the word is OM.

Chapter Sixteen:>>

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