On Not Wanting To Know.

In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, the Master takes Thomas to one side and gives him some secret teaching. Thomas demonstrates his worthiness to receive this knowledge by refusing to be drawn into a comparison between Christ and anyone else.

”Master, my mouth will absolutely not permit me to say you resemble any one.” Then Jesus said, ‘I am not your master. Because you have drunk..from the bubbling spring I have made to gush out, (and so) he took him aside…” logia 13

When the other disciples ask what Christ said to him Thomas refuses to tell them, not out of preciousness but out of fear…

”If I tell you one of the logia that he said to me you will take up stones and throw them against me” ibid

So, we don’t get to find out what these teachings are, nor why they would provoke reasonable and even saintly men to violence, but we might find some meaningful extrapolation in the Apocryphon of John, which was also found at Nag Hammadi, and which also describes a set of secret teachings to the author who likewise demonstrated that he had ‘the ears to hear’..

”I said, “Lord, how does the soul become smaller and return back into the nature of its mother?”

Then he rejoiced when I asked this, and he said to me, “Truly you are blessed, for you have understood! That soul is made to follow another who has the Spirit of Life in it. It is saved by that (other) one. Then it is not cast into another flesh.” Apocryphon of John logia 23.

we are to save one another.

now that’s something you might get stoned for….

John went one further than telling everyone he could find, he wrote the whole thing down. The Gnostics considered what he had to say so significant, so pivotal to spiritual life, that it was the most copied work found at nag Hammadi.

The Apocryphon is not simply non-canonical. It is the Watergate tape of the fourth century. Just having a copy meant instant death.

John pens a very different Genesis and Yahwewh doesn’t feature all that much. In the beginning was the Monad, out of which emerged Barbello, a mother who begat Sophia, another goddess, who only then made….

something imperfect.

..she created it without her partner. And it was not patterned after the likeness of its Mother, for it had a different form… It was dif­ferent, a model of a lion-faced serpent. His eyes were like flashing fires of lightning. She cast him out from her, outside of those places so that none among the immortals might see him, for she had cre­ated him in ignorance.

She surrounded him with a luminous cloud. And she placed a throne in the midst of the cloud in order that no one might see him and named him Yaltabaoth. This is the Chief Ruler, the one who got a great power from his Mother.

And he was stupefied in his Madness… for he said, ‘I am God and no other God exists except me,” logia 12.

sound familiar?

looking about for a hefty rock yet?

Sophia begins to reconsider what she has done as Yaltabaoth/Yahweh severs diplomatic ties with her and she repents ‘with great weeping’.

So she confesses what she has done to the Monad who helps her trick Yaltabaoth into breathing some of his power into Adam and thus depleating himself. Eve is created by Sophia as Yaltabaoth tries to reverse what he has done.

It is she who aids the whole creation by toiling with him, guiding him by cor­rection toward his fullness, and teaching him..logia 19

Thereafter, Yaltabaoth’s purpose is one of revenge and subjugation..

‘let us therefore cast them out lest they eat if the fruit and become as one of us.” Genesis 3;22

His intent is..

”to deceive the human race, keeping them in ignorance of their true nature, and is the primary means by which Yaltabaoth keeps humanity in subjugation. It is the source of all earthly evil and confusion, and causes people to die “not having found truth and without knowing the God of truth”. Derived from Wisse’s translation.

Yaltabaoth is thorough. He doesn’t stop at expulsion. He sends angels down to seduce humanity…

And the angels changed their own likenesses into the likeness of each one’s mate, filling them with the spirit of darkness…

They brought gold, silver, a gift, and copper and… they beguiled the human beings who had followed them into great troubles by leading them astray into much error and thus the whole creation became enslaved forever.” logia 25

So you can see why the Church might want to destroy this book and anyone who read it. But if these secrets shown to a deserving John are in any way similar to the secrets taught to a deserving Thomas, why might they provoke Jesus’ own disciples to stone wielding violence?

The answer has to do with the way Consciousness develops and the impact this has on self-construct.

Generally speaking we think of Consciousness as an incremental thing, increases by successive stages, building upon what has gone before, the gradual addition of more or less compatible information to an already established and solid storehouse of knowledge.

But Consciousness doesn’t work like that.

‘Perhaps men think I have come to cast peace upon the world and they do not realise that I have come to cast divisions upon the earth, fire, sword, strife… Thomas. logia 16.

The reason for this is that Consciousness, rather than comfortingly adding to our storehouse, sometimes burns it down. What we come to know often negates what was before. Our self-constructs can feel threatened in the process because who we are is inextricably bound up with what we know or think we know.

If what you know is turned on its head then who you are will feel profoundly challenged. Rather than supporting received wisdoms, new experiences can  question all our sacred cows, but its an upset without which there is no real consciousness at all.

”Conflict is the birth of consciousness.” Esther Harding.

So Thomas’ concern that the others would stone him if he told them the truth has to do with his recognition that self-preservation sometimes wins over the thirst for knowledge, a tussle he has just had himself.. What is being asked about is not just game changing but paradigm shifting and therefor destructive to the security of Tried and True.

be careful what you wish for…..

A good example was in yesterday’s news. A white police officer in Hastings Police dept, Michigan, took a DNA test and discovered that he was 18% black. He told his white colleagues in the department who began to rag him about it to such an extent that he finally sued the department for racial discrimination.

The officer’s whole self construct, his job, his relationships, his priviledged role in society was overturned all at once. He was forced into the shoes of his dark brother and compelled across a threshold  that would question his core beliefs.

This happens whenever anyone faces their shadow. You don’t just pop it in you knapsack. It displaces you.

Even worse is the second of life’s great transitions. The shift from shiny persona to a complicated and not so marvellous ego is a breeze next to the one of having ego-consciousness become consciousness-of-an-ego; i.e. having a position outside it .. which begs all kinds of questions about our relationship with our Maker.

”I am the vine which he

doth plant and cherish most

the fruit which grows from me

Is God the holy ghost.” Angelus Silesius.

This is very different from being the helpless pawn of an omnipotent God. It is a philosophy of salvation that is a two way street..

” for such a prayer increases the light of the star.” Jung Seven Sermons.

This is symbolically represented in John’s Apocryphon by Yalbadaoth depleating himself by breathing life into Adam.

”As the human ego depends on God for creativity, so God depends on the ego for its nourishment in the form of trust, confidence and the acceptance of archetypal intentionality.” S. Hoeller.

The paradigm shift offered us by John is as radicle as Galileo’s revelation that the earth revolved sun rather than the other way around. And not just for all the differences in the story. Nor even for the mutual dependence inferred. It turns on its head the generally accepted idea amongst ordinary modern people that we contain a soul, that we are partially divine, as though we could omnipotently house that which transcends us.

No, the soul contains the body. It’s the other way around. Which means that eternal life after death can be happily preceeded by eternal life in the meantime….

Kibbles for Schrodinger’s Cat.

Scientist Steven Weinberg says that the corrosion of religious belief by science is a good thing because of what an awful God it is that’s shared by Christians and Muslims alike…

…but while his character analysis may be spot on it does tend to make a neurosis of anything other than ego based psychologies and ignores discoveries in quantum physics that seem to demonstrate that there is something truly mysterious, mystical, about the relationship between Consciousness and Matter, between Time and Eternity.

‘The Self is not so much linked with what happened to its ancestors, it is not so much the product, and merely the product, of all that, but rather, in the strictest sense of the word, the SAME THING as all that.’ ― Erwin Schrödinger.

just as the person who is fifty experiences themselves as the same person as they were at forty no matter what has happened in the interim.

Quantum theory uses an intertesting term, the ‘quantum superposition’ in which an atom can pre-exist in a combination of multiple states corresponding to different possible outcomes. Curiously, this is also true of Consciousness.

”The unborn work in the psyche is a force of nature that achieves its end either with tyrannical might or with the subtle cunning of nature herself,” CG Jung

Shrodinger’s cat experiment, in which a cat in a box would be killed if a random particle was detected by a gieger counter and could therefor be considered both alive and dead until you’d checked up on it, was meant as a mockery of the prevailing ‘Copenhagen Interpretation’ which supports the idea of quantum superposition and can demonstrate the truth of it with experiments during which light behaves as a wave or as a particle depending on whether the experiment is being observed at the time…. Even if it is being merely monitored by detection equipment…

matter playing peek-a-boo…

Consciousness, too, exists in multiple, contradictory and sequential forms that seem to have very little to do with one another not unlike a recent scientific discovery which has determined that some species of dragonfly shares no DNA with its nymph. At some point in the metamorphosis the organic state of the nymph not only dies to itself, it is reduced to its most basic atomic constituents…..

from which will emerge a three gram jump jet.

For those who have a Newtonian point of veiw, life is like being a dot on a page. It cannot imagine a line any more than a line could imagine a page, or a page a book. Yet what seems particular to all life is this  incomprehensible transition from one kind of life to another.

Something I console myself with when I’ve lost perspective in all the chaos, is that whether science or religion is right in their eternal wrangle about the origin of life, it is an indisputable fact that at some moment, from a ball of millenial flame now cooled sufficiently for rain to fall and support life…

Life did just that, and at 2.34pm one Tuesday..

Life blinked on.

Consciousness too, blinks on from multiple potential states beyond our comprehension and navigates a passage through the world chiefly by virtue of the attitude held towards that quantum superposition from which it emerged..

and whether or not it allows itself to be altered by involvement.

An example of quantum theory at work in fairy tales can be found in the comparable stories of, ”The Devil’s Golden Hairs,” and ‘Brother Lustig,’ both of which involve an encounter with the quantum wave function of Hell.

In the first story a boy is born with a lucky caul and a prophecy that he would marry the daughter of the king who just happened to be around. The king took Lucky Hans and threw him in a river to die but he was saved by a Miller who then raised him as his own.

Years later the king passed by the Mill. By chance he learns of the boy’s identity and sends him to the Queen with a letter saying, ‘kill the bearer of this note.’ But the boy gets lost and wanders into a thieves’ den where he falls asleep. The thieves  read the letter, feel pity for him and secretly change it for one saying, ‘marry this lad to the princess’.

And so it was.

When the king finds out he has been tricked he’s enraged and sends his new son-in-law to fetch three golden hairs from the Devil’s head, thinking he could not possibly return.

On the way the prince encounters three gate keepers. The first asks, ‘why does the spring here not gush with wine as it once did?’

‘I don’t know,’ he says, ‘but I’ll try to find out.”

The next one asks, ‘why does the tree of golden apples no longer give fruit?’

‘I don’t know,’ he says, ‘but I’ll try to find out.’

The next is the ferryman to Hell. ‘Why must I be the eternal ferryman ?’

‘I don’t know’, he says, ‘but I’ll find out’.

When he gets to Hell the Devil is out, but his Grandmother is home. She’s friendly when she finds out that he’s there to save his marriage, when he’s transparent and straight with her. She turns our hero into an ant which she hides in the folds of her skirts having promised to help him get the hairs and the answers to his questions..

Prince as Ant has acheived what the Tao calls action through non-action. He acknowledges the primacy of the quantum superposition to take care of the situation.

The Devil arrives tired and grumpy. He falls asleep on Grandmother’s knee and when he’s snoring she tweaks out a hair. He wakes startled. ‘So sorry,’ she says. ‘I was dreaming of a spring that no longer gushes with wine.’

‘Nor will it,’ replies the Devil, ‘for as long as the toad sits upon the source.”

He drifts off and she tweaks a second hair. ‘So sorry,’ she says as he starts up, ”I was dreaming of a once beautiful tree of  golden apples that now has even lost its leaves…’

”and it will die entirely if the mouse continues to gnaw at the root…’

A third hair and the Devil leaps furiously to his feet. ”Sorry, so sorry, I was dreaming of a ferryman who was imprisoned to his task…

‘so will he always be till he hands the oar to another,’ grumbled the Devil and wandered off to a spot less infested with grandmothers.

And so our hero returns victorious with the three hairs and the secrets of the various afflictions… and bags of gold from the grateful gatekeepers.

‘Can I have some? asks the wicked king.

Sure, says the prince, ‘go ask the ferryman for his oar.’

The kind of consciousness a person has, influences their material fate.

This is not a crude, ‘everything happens for a reason’, nor even that we might make meaning of tragedy. Its more that Fortune favours the brave. Fortune was a Goddess before the church got hold of her and made her an attribute of knights. In our story, the youth who experiences himself as fortunate catches Her attention. In her guise as Grandmother, the quantum superposition, or archetype, enables him to realise a useful outcome because he’s motivated by his heart and by the Principle of Relatedness, which is her thing too.

So all goes well.

Not so for ‘Brother Lustig’, who, like Schrodinger, had a hard time with the Copenhagen Interpretation, that potential states can exist simultaneously on the threshold of the phenomenal world and that what happens next is down to how they are perceived.

Er, so, reality as well as beauty is in the eye of the beholder?

You can see why someone lurking with philosophical intent might have a problem with that.

Brother Lustig can’t co-operate with Saint Peter, his travelling companion, his wave function, who goes to great lengths to make sure Brother Lustig does okay in life but is thwarted by our hero’s own ineptitude and bad grace. The Self, the  combined multiple states of a quantum system, has healing and energising properties. St Peter brings a man back to life with just the right salve and mysterious ability, but Brother Lustig, the self involved ego, is more interested in the reward of a lamb dinner than the miracle he’s witnessed.

Brother Lustig eats the only part of the lamb that Peter wants, the heart, and then lies about what he has done despite ample opportunity and considerable pressure to come clean. To make things worse he then tries to resurrect the Princess of the land who’d just died, by the same means as Saint Peter the day before.

Of course he is just inflated. He hasn’t got the knack for it and fails. Saint Peter has to step in at the last moment and pull him out of trouble. He even gives him a magic knapsack which could contain anything he wished to make sure he should never be hungry before he departs but Brother Lustig is unimpressed.

”I am very glad you have taken yourself off, you strange fellow, I shall certainly not follow you.’ Grimm.

Eventually Brother Lustig dies and comes once more face to face with St Peter at the Pearly Gates who is reluctant to let him in.

‘At least let me return the knapsack,’ he says and passes it through the gate. No sooner has St Peter taken it than Brother Lustig, thinking himself clever, wishes himself into it. St Peter tutts quietly and places the bag in a corner.

‘Tis strange how some want their Eternity. The power was only to wish things into the bag. Now you will have to stay in there.’

”What happens to a man has something to do with him.” CG Jung.

We create our reality.

and do so by refraining from trying to be the author of it all the time.

”One must not wish to leap over everything and penetrate directly.” Lu Yen

Lucky Hans has a way of rolling with life by accepting his dependence on it. He lets himself be lost and need help. He willingly takes a backseat in Grandmother’s folds while she does the work. He has faith in the Universe because he knows it will offer him the face that he shows it.

”The right way to wholeness is made up of fateful detours and wrong turnings.’ CG Jung.

I was once on a train which was bound to my destination but via a different route to the inbound journey. The conductor points out that its the wrong ticket and that I could be liable to a fine and the cost of another ticket.

The situation was entirely absurd and of course I could have protested the unfairness of it all since I was clearly just making a return trip. The route was irrelevant.

But the guy had a job to do.

So I handed him the ticket and crawled into the folds of Grandmother’s skirts.

He looked at me, looked at the ticket, clipped it, and handed it back.

A quantum system, British Rail conductor, remained in his Quantum Super-position until interacted with or observed by the external world, BR passenger, at which time his wave function collapsed into a definite state,

”causing the set of probabilities to reduce to only one of the possible values immediately after the measurement.” from the Copenhagen Interpretation

The situation emerged as a result of how it is measured. I knew he would do the right thing, and he did.

”Consciousness is fundamental. I regard matter as derivative of consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” Max Plank.

So we have to stop it already with all the what-is-the-meaning-of-life? What life might mean presupposes that we know what it is…

The followers said to the Master, ‘Tell us in what way our end will be. The Master replied, ‘Have you therefor discerned the beginning in order that you seek after the end? For in the Place where the beginning is, there will be the end. Happy is he who stands boldly at the beginning. He shall know the end, and shall not taste death.  Gnostic Gospel of Thomas. logia 18.

My teacher George Brown used to say, ‘don’t get caught in the (client’s) story’. Its even easier to get caught in our own story and, like Brother Lustig, to get mesmerised by the drama.

Roberto Assagioli, founder of Psychosynthesis, likened the psyche to an orchestra where there was the various facets of personality represented by different instruments, the conductor, the organising ‘I’, and then the Self, the composer.

What he left out was the audience, the all important observers of the experiment, since music is meant to be enjoyed after all. They, by their appreciation, draw the utmost from the performers who in turn forge admiration from envy and abundance from gratitude.

Teachings from Thomas.

The Gospel of Thomas was buried in the desert at Nag Hammadi along with other sacred texts by gnostic monks fleeing persecution. They were hidden for safekeeping, in the hope that someone of their number would survive the wrath of powers already Orthodox and Deadly by the fifth century;  not averse to giving any-one they didn’t like the chop.

None returned, though the books themselves…

”lay unmolested until such a time as the established Churches lost the power to be able to subdue them.”  H. MacGregor Ross.

They were discovered ‘accidentally’ by someone who thought to himself, in all the vastness of the unforgiving desert, that this particularly parched and arid spot looked like a perfect place to do a bit of a recreational digging…

in 45* of desert heat.

Curiously the book itself is about persecution, the persecution of ourselves and how this leads to our treatment of one another. It also tells us quite explicitly how to resolve this….

and it doesn’t involve being good.

which is why the church wanted to get their hands on it.

These undisturbed ‘logia’, straight from the mouth of the Master, are undoctored by millenia of fiddling kings. And they record, in typical Gnostic style, just how entirely dismissive he was of the Establishment.

”Grapes are not harvested from thorn trees, nor are figs gathered from thistles.” logia 45

sometimes he’s a bit less polite..

”for they are like dogs in the manger for neither does he eat nor does he allow the oxen to eat.” logia 102

and sometimes, plain insurrectionist..

”I will overturn this house… logia 71.

But what really made the Church at the time want to kill him and the Church that then bore his name to twist the story into such a butchered parody, is what he has to say about sin and redemption, the mere thought of which would quickly have had him roasting over an Inquisitional fire had they been around at the time.

He doesn’t even want us to be sorry..

”Do not lie and do not do what you hate.” logia 6.

His philosophy (philo-Sophia) is not about imposed morality, or sanctioning behaviour, or codified law. Be square with yourself and with the Image, the Other, within.

At-one-ment, right now.

and so buying your way into a future heaven on the basis of good behaviour becomes laughably like prisoners applying for parole..

‘If those who guide your Being say to you, ‘behold, the Kingdom is in the heavens, then the birds of the sky will precede you.’ logia 3

no-where to go, nothing to do…

”The Kingdom is in your centre, and it is about you.’ logia 3 

It turns out that redemption is not only available without having to weigh your sins in the balance or having to go to church on Sunday. It is actually more a matter of fulfilling your own destiny, of living out your undivided potential, whatever it is..

”If you bring out what is inside you, what is inside you will save you. If you do not bring out what is inside you, what is inside you will kill you.’ logia 70

Sin is then the failure to become oneself,

They said to him ‘let us pray today and let us fast!’  Jesus said, ‘what is the sin that I have committed or in what have I been overcome? When the bridegroom comes forth from the bridegrooms chamber, then let them fast and let them pray’. logia 104

According to the uncensored Jesus, the Kingdom of Heaven is attained by resolving inner dividedness…

”If two make peace with each other in this single house they will say to the mountain ‘move’ and it shall move. logia 48

There is no gaining of favour, no propitiation, no sacrifice, no prayer, no offering, no special diet, since this in itself already creates a world of divisions between one thing and another and therefor misses the point. Rather we have to turn to the Image within, unmediated by any prejudice or external opinion and try to digest its import without being swallowed up in turn.

”Happy is the lion which the man will eat… and abominated is the man whom the lion will eat.” logia 7

This means that we must take everything as it comes and experience our circumstances as independant of  salvation. To favour one set of circumstances over another is just to go back into division. So when someone from the crowd shouts out to him..

”fortunate is the womb that bore you and the breasts that suckled you…”

he replies..

”There will be days when you say fortunate is the womb that did not conceive.’ logia 79

Jesus is pointing to what alchemists centuries later would call Unus Mundus, One World, a coniunctio oppositorium, the collapse of Division in on itself from contradiction into paradox, atonement but with a hint of death since the experience of the Image within is always deflating, crucifying.

”A death blow is a life blow to some, who till they died did not alive become. Who , had they lived did most surely die, but when they died – vitality began.” Emily Dickinson.

The death blow is the bloodied nose of ego realising it isn’t king of its own castle but it is also the end of division, of alienation from Self and others.

Its as if we are three and bickering when suddenly a competent adult steps into the room and calmly takes charge. And that person is you.

Division on a collective scale is at its most evident in our war-mongering but there is an aspect of modern atrocity that deserves special mention. The body counts and broken buildings are all too evident and its that which catches our attention. Less obvious but at the core of Western alienation is that we just don’t care.

Descendants of the survivors of the the Armenian holocaust, a genocide of 1.5 million people just a century ago, all say that preventing this terrible catastrophe from slipping into historical obscurity is a full time job. No-one wants to know. There are only 22 nations that acknowledge it even happened. The US is not among them.

So why all the denial?

You would think that given that the Armenians were Christians savagely killed by Muslim extremists that Western allies were at war with at the time, would be all the excuse needed to impliment, forever, the overt foreign policy of unashamed war profiteering our civilisation covertly enjoys.

But the true horror of this  genocide was in the silence that accompanied it.

No-one went to help them. We didn’t care enough to intervene. And that’s why no-one talks about it. Because its a massive blot on our collective conscience. To think that one and a half million lives came second to diplomatic manouvering that resulted in European powers actively voting against intervention on behalf of the Armenians, out of the concern that it would increase Russia’s influence in the region is just appalling. It’s inhuman.

‘…abominated is the man whom the lion will eat.” logia 7

Psychologically, when we split ourselves in order to identify with one polished corner of the p;syche we are bound to see our demons out in the world that then gives us riteous leave to regress, to do as we please, or to do nothing.

Consumers become the consumed..

And so we can suck our teeth and say isn’t it terrible what we failed to do a hundred years ago. Weren’t our forebears awful? Feeling all pimped for our piety forgetting that right now exactly the same thing is going on in Yemen. An entire people are being starved to death by Western backed blockades and arms deals.

It’s allowed.


Because folk are too divided to care..

‘On the day you were One you created the two, but then being two, what will you do?’ logia 11.

The divisions are endless, race, creed, dogma. But they’re inner divisions too, from our own shadows, from the inner image, from the mediation of the Divine Feminine.

‘for my mother has begotten me, but my true Mother gave me life.’ logia 101

and so whilst its true that we have to  stomach for just how much inner division and lethargy actually exists, so too does it seem to be the inevitable consequence of a culture that is not simply plagued with the unbridgeable tif between Yahweh and Lucifer, nor even the ugly divorce scene between Him and..




..but that the split within his own psyche between Old and New Testament is diagnostically scary because Gods, like people, tend to regress when they are under pressure. And Yahweh is not a pretty sight when he’s in his terrible twos.

What can we do?

Name what is going on.

‘happy is the man who knows when and where robbers will creep in, so that he will arise and gather strength and prepare for action before they come.’ logia 103

M. L. von Franz gives the example of telling herself that the book she was writing was a load of rubbish and should be abandoned. After some while she realised that she didn’t think that at all, but that something very persuasive, yet hidden inside her, really did.

When your robber arrives sit him down and ask him what he wants. Remember to be polite.

The Secret of Sacrifice.

Carry me, carry me.

We’d been dropped by chopper onto the edges of a firefight in deep brush with orders to set up an ambush along the most likely escape route from the main punchup 800 yards further up a narrow valley.

Carry me, carry me.

We were feeling bullish,

in the mood.

Only, the Ops room doesn’t always get it right.

Information can be sketchy….

and that day they had missed a piece of the jigsaw in the shape of a lone RPD gunner safely ensconced somewhere up on one of the granite ‘kopjes’ that lay in a great semi circle around us, ancient hills worn to the bone.

And he was there first.

As soon as the gunship was out of sight he raked us with automatic fire.

Carry me, carry me.

D—- was caught out in the open. He went down screaming. I had a low boulder to flatten myself behind 10 yards to his right. D—- was totally exposed. On his back now, broken arms flopping over his chest, trying to push himself to safety with his heels.

He wasn’t going to make it.

Carry me, carry me.

I was a gunner myself…big ‘ol MAG 762, way heavier and clumsier than the weapon currently making short work of us. I put it down on its bipod and went across to where D—– lay bleeding. The ground beneath my feet erupted with gunfire, just like in the movies. Dust everywhere. Crack and thump blurred into a roar of sound. When they are very close they go… zzzip. ZZzzipp. ZZzipppp.

Carry me, carry me.

I grabbed D—- and swung him over my shoulder. By now it was more Chinese New Year than Fourth of July. He was a small guy. Only seventeen the day before. Light as a feather.

Bookies would have given me slim odds on coming out unscathed. Had the even bet played out there would have been a short ceremony, some fluttering ribbon, bowed heads; my Commanding Officer would have spoken movingly about the ultimate sacrifice. Shots would have been fired over the coffin.

‘Greater love hath no man…’

Which is nice an’ all…

but that was not my experience.

I wasn’t risking my life for his at all.

Hell, I hardly knew the guy.

The important thing was that my life was not at risk at all.

I was already dead.

And I was good with that.

So there was no fear to overcome. No laudable gesture made above and beyond the call of Duty. No trait worth pinning a medal on.

Au contraire…

Because being dead already meant that the ten yards to D—-‘s blood soaked frame was the closest I’d ever come to religious experience.

Which was new…

My purpose was not to engage the enemy.

It was to fight and die.

To throw myself gloriously into the arms of Death.

And so I was entirely calm. I was one with my purpose. Calm enveloped me, ran through my veins like cool silk.

I was going home.

Carry me, carry me.

And so you see PTSD is not just about the shock of blood and guts. It is also about the confusion that you are still alive, that your mission is incomplete and that the liquid calm is felt in absence like an exiled lover.

A contemporary idiom for this phenomenon is the lead character Walter White from the hugely successful TV hit ‘Breaking Bad’, whose entire purpose is self-sacrifice, who feels he’s lived too long and whose response to his cancer being in remission is, ‘Why me?’

Macro lens. In ancient times people made sacrifices to their Gods, acts of propitiation and atonement…

“The ritual acts of man are an answer and a reaction to the action of God upon man”. CG Jung

carry me, carry me.

It seems that our own culture has less need of such things, or that we have risen above such heathen nonsense..


that we have no need to participate in such foolishness..

not consciously anyway.

and a timeless tradition just… evaporated in the light of reason..

at least that’s how it seems.

Carry me, carry me.

until the gnostic gospels surfaced at Nag Hammadi and cast the kind of light on millenial events that prompted the Church to rebury many of them in the bowels of the Vatican as fast as they surfaced.

Lines like these from the apocryphal book of Thomas….

”if you bring out what is inside you then what is inside you will save you. If you do not bring out what is inside you will kill you.” Gospel of Thomas.

These lines are like plague virus to religious authorities. They obviate the need for church and place the responsibility for redemption firmly back in our own hands….

But its the gospel of Judas that is the platinum shocker. Jesus says..

”Truly [I] say to you, Judas… you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me. Already your horn has been raised, your wrath has been kindled, your star has shone brightly, and your heart has [been hardened…][11]



So, no betrayal or dying so that others might live or atoning for the sins of Humanity. And its not the authenticity of the document that counts as much as the vehemence of Church denounciation, the lip quivering…


So what is it that is so worth hiding for 2000 years?

on pain of…

well, whatever makes folk bury stuff in a hurry.

We know very well that in the psychology of the individual what we resist persists and that denied material manifests symptomatically. So too, whatever is cast out of the Collective Psyche will manifest in some form of mass compulsion instead.

If we consider the new twist given by Judas to the whole question of what might be meant by the ‘Immitation of Christ’ we might also reflect on what’s happened to the tradition of sacrifice in Western tradition.

Try to chuck it out and it will just go underground.

You are the sacrifice.

You don’t appease Yahweh just by obeying. Something has to be given. Something valuable, something to be made sacred. The brightest and the best. Like the protagonists from the movie, ”Chariots of Fire” going as one ‘over the top’ of their battle trenches and running gracefully towards the enemy machine guns..

already dead.

Carry me, carry me.

Its a tragedy of course,


but no-one asks,

‘what are they doing exactly?’

and try to make sense of it.

… sacrifices of light..

for the Dark face of God.

Mega macro lens. The problem with a system built upon the polarisation of good and evil is not just the issue of shadow projections onto a suitably handy enemy. Without all kinds of internal dialogue there isn’t a strong enough ego structure to stick in the throat of unfolding archetypal drama, let alone those now relegated to Vaudeville.

Which means we give ourselves far too much credit with the idea that the ontological security of ancient traditions has been a worthwhile loss for the boon of ego development. Ego is still a rare beast and mostly what we mean by ‘egotistical’ is someone with only one functioning corner of themselves rather than four, who has run up a flag to boot and whose puffed up sense of self is easily overun by archetypal forces.

Carry me, carry me.

This single standpoint is fragile, vulnerable, open to being swamped by archetypal contents, particularily those split off and denied by God, the divine feminine, the dark brother, rapturously self-immolating Dionysus/Attis who, given the revelations of Judas, are cultural variants of the god/man Jesus.

When these suppressed aspects of the Collective join forces, instead of Christendom doing what it says on the tin, we have a distorted deification of Mater instead, the cult of consummerism, the devouring of time and the destruction of individuality.

Its not just on the battlefield that life is sacrificed for the sake of propitiating the apocryphal face of Yahweh. The living out of merely collective ideals, becoming slaves to the dollar, mortgaging ourselves to the hilt, sacrificing ourselves to a narcissistic partner, starving ouselves to skin and bone or feeding addiction; all these things are also acts of self-immolation commensurate with the story, embeded deep in our psyches, of the self-dismembering god.

Carry me, carry me.

Without a strong ego the narcissistic child of Christendom..

”becomes collectivised from within.. he becomes (identified with) an archetype. The greater the identification with the youthful god the less individual he is and yet he feels so special.” ML von Franz.

Childhood deprived of the Great Mother, drycleaned of the less than salubrious sides of the Gods, has the same effect as parents who keep themselves apart from their kids, who have dark secrets and prefer rosier versions of the truth.

The kids are raised deprived of real contact..

with the sacred feminine, the dark masculine…

and so act out their ancient stories and throw themselves on millenial pyres instead.

”We are dominated by whatever it is with which we are unconsciously identified.” C. Schwartz.

Imagine then, the state of mind of those first proponents of martial self-sacrifice, the Crusaders, who cantered about the Holy Land for Centuries with this prayer on their lips..

“Hearken we beseech Thee, O Lord, to our prayers, and deign to bless with the right hand of Thy Majesty this sword with which They servant desires to be girded that it may be the terror and dread of all….” Oath of the Crusaders


there is a hidden clause in any contract that allows you to charge a five foot steel spike with divine power..

that’s right…

No-one is going home.

Seen to by Phillip (the fair) of France who happily burned 3,000 of them at the stake..

but they were on the same side…

That’s how it works….

Carry me, carry me.

The ancient Greeks had a better sense of  things in this respect because the symbol of self-sacrifice was consciously recognised. You could talk about it in a way that wouldn’t get you killed.

And so it turns out that Ares/Dionysus, gods of War and Chaos, are more readily propitiated when you admit that they are in the room. The impulse to sacrifice oneself to a cause can find more constructive expression. In fact these forces could even be invoked for peace…

“Ares, stay furious contests, and avenging strife, whose works with woe embitter human life; to lovely Kyrpis [Aphrodite] and to Lyaios [Dionysos] yield, for arms exchange the labours of the field;  encourage peace, to gentle works inclined,  and give abundance, with benignant mind.” Orphic fragment.

The problem is not the fact of Chaos or Self-destructive impulses but of the degree to which they are allowed conscious and therefore safe expression.

Ecstatically throwing yourself at the enemies’ bayonets is just one of a number of ways you can go. There are options. You can also live out someone else’s idea of what life should look like.

if you want.

Or devote yourself to the sacred task of being the family scapegoat.

if you like.

But sacrifice can also be expressed through service to the community, a parent’s devotion to a child, heeding an unexpected opportunity that was not part of the official plan…letting creativity have its way with you, giving up how life has to be.

but best of all is the self-sacrifice that offers up the unrealised cloth-head we once thought it so fine to be. To be chastened by it. To see our pride in how evolved we are as just one more piece of spiritual materialism, to witness the breast beating loner in his/her beflagged corner with some compassion, and to realise that if there is to be peace in the world then we must begin with the zealot within.

Carry me, carry me.


Love’s Hazardous Quest.

There is a story from Asia of a kasturi-mriga, or musk deer, that describes the dangers and trials of self-realisation. One day, whilst roaming about the forest, the kasturi-mriga was suddenly aware of an exquisitely beautiful scent, unlike anything he had ever known. The scent stirred the deer so profoundly that he became determined to find it’s source.

He looked under the Rhododendron bushes and in the bamboo groves. He searched the rice fields and the open steppe. He wandered the cliff tops, sought out the hidden valleys of the forest and combed the cultivated gardens right up to the edges of the feared man dwellings.

So keen was his longing that the deer didn’t notice either the severity of cold or the intensity of scorching heat. Day and night the deer carried on his ardent search for the source of the intoxicating scent.

Finally the determined deer finds himself up high on a treacherous mountain path, the stones are loose, he slips from exhaustion…

and falls to his death.

As he lies broken at the base of the cliff, breathing his last, he tucks his nose under his belly….

…and finds that the scent that had ravished his heart and inspired all these efforts came from his own navel.

”The true source of happiness, which is joy, does not lie outside of us in any one thing, object or person. No-one can give us happiness, because it is a state of consciousness that exists within us.” S. Sturgess.

Many great teachers concur..

but there are a couple of problems with this question of what lies ‘within’ and how to find it…

The first is the judgement most of us have about how foolish the deer is to cast himself about to such an extent, dissipating himself so fruitlessly. We forget that ‘giving our power away’ or projecting our inner worth onto outer things and people is a necessary part of the individuation process.

Self realisation requires this chaotic process of endless casting about, dead ends and blind alleys. Like Parsifal we start out foolish and ignorant, heading off we know not where, a journey as much a fleeing from, as it is a search for the Self.

{ fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears

I hid from Him.

Across the margent of the world I fled,

And troubled the gold gateway of the stars,

Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars…” F. Thompson.

Part of him doesn’t want to find the source of the scent at all….

”following your own star means isolation, not knowing where to go, having to find a new way for yourself and that’s why there has always been a tendency to project the uniqueness and greatness of the Self”. ML von Franz.

Its tempting to follow the path of least resistance and simply remain a slavish follower of some other realised person and yet it is an integral part of the hero’s journey that contents arising from the Unconscious are, to begin with and by their very nature, bound to be projected into the outer world.

Such projections may even be useful…

”If one projects the Self onto a truly wise person you can learn a lot. That is even the secret of miraculous cures. People project the Self onto a healer personality and from such faith they are cured of all sorts of illnesses.” ibid

One’s individuality can actually be promoted and an as yet self-actualising ego preserved from the impact and potentially fragmenting effect of too premature an awakening.

The thing with ‘looking within’, is that what one is searching for is the psychic non-ego which is, to all intents and purposes is still ‘outside’ the personality. Hence the despair and incomprehension of so many who look within and find..


And should the objective psyche be stumbled over…

on some precipitous cliff…

its not necessarily very pretty…

or much fun…

”The integration of contents that were always unconscious and projected involves a serious lesion of the ego.” CG Jung.

And so it is not just a question of, ‘seek and ye shall find’, but, as in the original gnostic rendering…

”He who seeks, let him not cease seeking until he finds and when he finds he will be troubled and when he is troubled he will be amazed.” Gospel of Thomas

Our story tells us that finding the treasure hard to attain involves a death. This is both literal and metaphorical. The seeker is confronted by their own mortality which squeezes itself into awareness from all the peripheral events of life that once contained it.

But why add unnecessarily to all the bitter trials of the Quest? Is it not difficult enough already? And yet this paying attention to death is the proper name for much of life’s angst.

Taken deep enough most of our daily pressures are precisely this unwanted reminder of death. The washing machine broke down, you’re late to the office and incured your boss’s wrath. There are unexpected bills on the mat, the weather is closing in, the mirror hates you and the kids act like you don’t exist.

Ordinary anxiety tends to disappear when death is caught in the corner of your eye because ordinary anxiety is where death lives.

The metaphorical death is no less easy.

”The collapse of existing ego structures is closely analagous to the schizophrenic state…and should be taken very seriously. Becoming aware of the psychic non-ego… involves a loss of soul…” CG Jung

hence the warning of the alchemists…

”not a few have perished in our work.” Rosarium Philosophorum.

The broken body of the poor deer..

”is the residue of the past and represents s/he who is no more, ” CG Jung.

The search for ‘the treasure hard to attain’ is not simply the difficulty of the path but that we die to ourselves en route.


”the seeker and the sought become One, both are wounded and die.”ibid.

Lover and beloved conquer each other by their devotion. The source, the essence, the fullest manifestation of love’s conquering power is the love of the soul for the supreme soul, or God. The sages who authored the sacred texts of all time found that the most astonishing of all God’s wonders was this willingness, this eagerness, not only to be touched by our love, but to be conquered by it.

The etymology of the word ‘religion’ comes from the latin ‘religare’, which means to bind, reconnect or re-tie. It has the same meaning as the eastern word ‘yoga’. The purpose of the quest is one of re-connection and a re-membering of the soul with it’s divine source.

And so we find that the sacred encounter is not strictly ‘within’ but ‘between’, between I and thou, between self and ego, between the individual soul and the lap of the Divine Mother.

Our story shows that this discovery of the source, after great effort, is accidental. The important thing is not so much the attainment of anything per se but that we risk all out of love in the process.

There is a tale of Hakuin, the Zen master, who as a young man entered monastic life. He was gruffly told by the Abbot, ‘you do realise that it will probably take you several life times to gain enlightenment…’

‘I don’t care how long it takes,’ replied Hakuin, and with that he entered the gates of Nirvana.