Sunday, September 13, 2015

In the Buried Treasure

In the Buried Treasure story, a person called Lazy, goes in search of a new spring, that flow coming fresh of the earth.  The spring appears in the rush of a runaway horse mounted by a spirit being. This event summons a hidden depth from the searcher who responds by twirling, catching the bit in the mouth of the galloping horse, and stilling the charge.
   What a tale! The life spring, explosive horsepower, throbbing stillness. Good stories charge us with translating the generative images into lived experience. So I’m playing with translating the image shown above into one with me and our horse, Leg’cy. Here goes:

   When phenomenologists like Max van Manen focus our attention on “lived experience,” we glimpse layers of meaningfulness, and sometimes we yearn to go deeper. Playing with images offers one way to invite the movement toward our buried treasures. To do this, I draft the moment in the story (using Sketchbook Express) and then substitute real-life photos.
   This composing supports my reflecting upon this moment in the story. I actively wonder about how Lazy meets the horse and rider. Should I put a figure in for the rider or is it within the spirit of the horse? In translating across story into experience, I’m wondering how I might find more horsepower, perhaps from the spirit world flowing into everyday.
   Buried Treasure offers revelation and unveiling of that which is most precious. One of the veils consists simply in labels that are accepted. In Strangers to Ourselves, Timothy Wilson’s “adaptive unconscious” articulates the way unexamined cultural biases blind us. “Lazy” appears to be one of those projected labels used by a dominant force to discredit the “other.”  What if we’re veiled from seeing the runaway horse because we’re turned away from the force, and what if revelation is just an imagination away?
   How does the buried treasure translate into our lived experience? Might it be that “sohbet,” the mystical conversation, flows from the other world as much if not more so over morning coffee on our deck as it does in travel to the holy shrine in distant lands?  Public accolades might transport less of bliss than the laughter of children, the blink of insight glimpsed in the eyes of adults during a shared story.
   I need frequent wake-up calls along the lines of Jung’s disclosure that it’s the “inferior” function entering ecstasy, not the dominant. For me, this is to trust “felt sense” enough to dedicate a ride with Leg’cy while giving the analytical mind a rest. A priority given to photography and refining images in Sketchbook Express or digital media production opens imaginations and removes blinders imposed by hegemonic systems in the workplace, in pewed religions, in sold sports. My dominant thinking function isn’t thrown away, but it gives way while other knowings, perhaps more meditative ones that seem lazy to “higher-level” scientific method, find insight, sometimes in a flash. Later, the rested dominant function serves a valuable part in articulating the insight.
   Buried Treasure serves to remind me of the way the discovery dimension moves into grace. We can enter liminal space, where the dominant parts dare not venture, where boundaries of the world show rainbows of light in mist. N. Scott Momaday muses about the nature of story in the midst of his beautiful volume, The Bear’s House: “Grace is the substance of story, albeit invisible and remote. Grace is the soul of story./ It is a presence without its mask./ Or perhaps a mask behind which there is no presence. . . nothing, only silence, a perfect stillness” (p. 37).
   Reflecting on this, I wonder: Peace in the Great Mystery. A buried treasure: the gift of holding inspiration…  **Spoiler Alert** I’m about to reveal part of the Buried Treasure that might lessen the effect if you haven’t heard it. My version of the tale is on Diane Wolkstein’s version, “The Tatema,” is in Lazy Tales. I’ve traced the print source further back to Wilson Hudson’s The Healer of Los Olmos and Other Mexican Lore.
   In the story, the one who meets up with the horse is given a buried treasure; the gift aligns with a faith that God gives even if God has to push it in the window. Before long, silver coins flow into their home, through Lazy’s window.  In my work/play with this story, a deepened sense of the grace of life’s blessings flows through the unveiling: the joy of horsemanship, loving the class I teach, storytelling, the presence of beloved friends and family.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Infinite in One Step

photo by Joseph McCaleb                                                                                                                    
In a time that wants the whole thing right now, in a culture obsessed with control while hating authority, and amid media flooding with information, what if we focus on just one step. Interestingly, this advice comes from both the mystic and the scientist. Since, I opened this post with Ghalib (b. Dec. 27, 1797, in Agra, India), I’ll explore the mystic first; the scientist is already cued up but saved for another post.  Applications related to teaching and learning, particularly to my current courses, are interspersed throughout.

And a third part seems needed in my attempt to compose a response to the incredible notion posed by Ghalib. Just as a scientist needs an instrument to see the world within a microscopic bit of matter, our capacity to see the universe in a single step requires assistance. Friends of mine know that I look to horsemanship for something like this. My engagements with Leg’cy offer validity checks, especially when the single step contains essences of power and love. An account of yesterday’s ride likely drifts in and out of our consideration of the “Infinite in One Step.”

As we enter, we might notice the naysayers. While within me at a deep level something knows the rightness in the modest grasp of a single step, still I sometimes twinge due to an accusation of being irresponsible because I’m not looking further ahead. The naysayer chastises me for not setting goals, counting costs, and allocating resources. Echoes still reverberate through my being from some forty years ago when an esteemed educator, highly published and president of the national organization, proclaimed that he could tell excellence in teaching because the outstanding pedagogue has the final examination prepared before a course begins. 

My gut revolted when I first heard him say it, and my conviction that he’s wrong is even stronger today even though his position aligns with our hegemonic standards/accountability/testing regime.  To steadfastly seek the infinite possibility in a single footprint as a professional educator requires courage, discipline, and dedication to advance one’s consciousness beyond the prevailing selfish and cynical conditions of schooling, politics, and materialism.

A further complication comes in a shiver that apprehends the immensity and impossibility of entering one moment with full presence. The advance in consciousness that is needed includes a tolerance for mixed messages and a capacity to withstand apparent contradiction and paradox. To deal with complexity involves a dialog between lived experience and representations about it. Uncertainty becomes a close companion. Building the advance in consciousness includes a patient unraveling of felt sense, and it looks for advice.

So I search for models about the meaning of the infinite possibility of one footprint. This notion comes not just from Ghalib; for example, often quoted is the mystic poet William Blake:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

A few lines down, in these fragments from Auguries of Innocence, Blake illustrates how the infinite condenses into the minute: “A Horse misus’d upon the Road /Calls to Heaven for Human blood.” A universal value manifests in the daily moments of ethical behavior; the infinite distills into the bit.  While a beautiful simplicity inhabits these lines and this life world, I believe that their enactment reflects a lifework, an engagement with one’s destiny, along with the advancement in consciousness.

I’m already pondering how the infinite/finite dynamic penetrates in our Good Stories course, and I believe it’s evident in a first step that established primary focus on resonance and then a second one on multiplicity. In our first class session, I told the college students that today’s lesson was brought to us by the letter R with support from M: R for resonance and M for multiplicity. In a way, we only engage Ph.D. concepts by taking Sesame Street steps. Specifically concerning resonance, our attention reaches for the vibrant response to life that’s stored in traditional narratives. In my view, the resonant vibration is signaling a core connection with the infinite; a mystic might consider this a link to the divine.

Continuing briefly into multiplicity, we open the resonant moment by weaving through several levels. We experience stories that I have found to contain the legacy of cultural investment; perhaps not infinite, but at least of considerable significance. Then, during and following the engagement with the resonately-selected and experienced oral narrative, we explore the archetypes and their expressions as they play out in lived experiences, social and personal, historical and contemporary. I’ve elaborated the nature of resonance and multiplicity in Good Stories in other posts that can be consulted, if desired, by clicking on those labels at the bottom of this post.

Building consciousness includes extending our understanding of both resonance and multiplicity. One opportunity to do so comes in looking at how the translators work with the poetry of Ghalib. In addition to including Ghalib in The Soul Is Here for Its Own Joy, Robert Bly collaborates with Sunil Dutta to focus solely on Ghalib in The Lightning Should Have Fallen on Ghalib. We might begin by noting the importance of the selection of the poet and the poem. Like the selection of a traditional tale or the theme for phenomenological inquiry, a point of focus by the participant needs to have a felt resonance.  Without vitality, the work lacks sustainability and will not even engage our own attention to say nothing of how it will fail to inspire our students and readers.

The poem cited at the top attracts my attention (as well as that of the translators, I believe) because it embodies multiplicity in the dynamic yin/yang-like entanglement of infinite/finite. The traditional tales that I select for Good Stories have to be tingling with incipient meaningfulness each time I begin telling them. The theme a teacher selects for phenomenological inquiry merits that attention in its resonance because that's what promises to animate the teacher’s being which will subsequently spread into the classroom thereby compelling attention and motivating work.

Multiplicity gets acted out in the process of translation in ways that inform how participants in our Good Stories class explore the levels of a story and how our work with phenomenological inquiry empowers our teaching. By looking at Bly’s and Dutta’s comments on the translation process, we can gain insight about our translation of resonance into our decoding of destiny.  The process of translation includes accessing the vitality needed to light up our lived experience.

Bly writes of the translation process with his collaborator Sunil Dutta:
“Our work would begin as he wrote out each couplet in Urdu script: a word-by-word version in English, awkward and virtually incomprehensible, followed. Sunil would then abandon the Urdu word order and create two lines in English that hinted at the content of the Urdu. So many ambiguities would be omitted in this version that he usually followed by writing several paragraphs of prose to bring the hidden cultural, religious, or philosophical questions out into the open. At that point I would enter the process and try to compose a couple of lines that would resonate a little with each other. Imposed meanings would stick out here and there like burrs on a dog, and we would have to painstakingly remove those burrs” (pp. 7-8).

As we appreciate the slow careful work given to moving verses across centuries, religions, and cultures toward today, we gain patience for the time and attention needed to translate time-space-matter-ing from traditional tales into our own social and individual lives. We may be able to accept more generously the complexity, subtlety, and preciousness of teaching in classrooms with constantly reforming prisms in the diversity of children who renew their minds moment by moment. Dutta writes, “In Urdu, words convey subtle shades of meaning, so that a well-composed couplet will shine, so to speak, with several colors at once” (p. 65). So do our classrooms. So should the stories that we re-tell and translate into the making of finer lives and advanced consciousness.

This work, the care given to translation, models for us the way to treat as sacred the precious moments that array the phenomenon of teaching/learning. The Ghalib and Blake poems and the comments on the translation process amplify for me the texture of teaching connected with phenomenological inquiry. An orientation that focuses on “one footprint” contrasts with the behavioristic approach to teaching and research which imposes a predetermined order complete with objectives, step-by-step procedures, and test questions. Contrasting with the behavioral and the accountability model of education, the “world of infinite possibility” is found in each moment of discovery.

Something as small as just taking one next step can breathe with the infinite.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

On Destiny and Consciousness

As we tell Good Stories, the word DESTINY spells out somewhat uniquely for each person, but still I wonder how many of us hear it coming down as if from the on-high pulpit in the gloom-&-doom preacher-voice, dark in the final judgment on those coming up short. While it’s taken me most of my 68 years, lots of good stories, and enough serious study, too, destiny has a more hopeful sound now; and it even hums a playful tone at times. In part, it’s because I believe destiny’s map is sewn into our birthright and that good play supports positive development, as Brian Boyd shows in our text. In many ways, good stories guide us in making our way, in learning how to read the map, in finding the words, and interpreting them.
         Although not the gypsy fortune-teller’s tent, Good Stories tell of destiny. Early on, we heard Baba Yaga demand our purpose: “Are you here because you want to be or because you have to be!” Then in “Water of Life,” the small voice commanded the young rider, “Where are you going in such a rush!” Over and over, the tales echo the talking bird who pushes searchers to wonder who we really are. Destiny maps out our destination, purpose, and identity. In Good Stories, we play along, listen for resonance, and compose ourselves into the multiple tracks in digital media production with hopes of advancing peace and justice, making destiny.
         In The Soul’s Code, psychologist James Hillman asserts the inevitable nature of destiny and shows its story tone:
“For centuries we have searched for the right term for this ‘call.’  The Romans named it your genius; the Greeks, your daimon; and the Christians your guardian angel . . . For some it is Lady Luck or Fortuna; for others a genie or jinn, a bad seed or evil genius. . . (page 9)
Hillman further explains the location of destiny, along with the hiding and the finding:
“So the ‘lot’ [from Plato’s Republic, top of p. 45] is the image that is your inheritance, your soul’s portion in the world order, and your place on earth, all compacted into a pattern that has been selected by your soul before you ever got here—or, better said, that is always and continually being selected by your soul, because time does not enter the equations of myth. . . Unpacking the image takes a lifetime.” 
[Having entered this world] “through the plain of Lethe  [oblivion, forgetting], we have forgotten all of the story, though the inescapable and necessary pattern of my lot remains and my companion daimon remembers.” (pages 45-46, emphasis mine).
         For me, destiny takes a shape perhaps more portentous than the one it presents for those of you in your twenties; so perhaps you have another thirty years to wonder. But who knows how long anyone has to fulfill destiny? Now is the time to live it. That’s why our final projects search destiny and why the exam asks where it appears and how it connects with story resonance.
            From the beginning of our course, I’ve emphasized the destiny theme, especially in these shared reflections. The first blog of the semester states: “Good Stories offers a destiny-detector.” Hillman says of this: “Intuition also includes what I have called mythic sensibility, for when a myth strikes us, it seems true and gives sudden insight” (p. 97). 
            As I spin out my thoughts at the heart of story (Who are you? Where are you going? Why?), bridge-words (archetypal ones like “destiny”) offer space for multiple meanings to fit across ages and experiences. We each build character, step by more present step, thought by more thoughtful integrity. Opportunity for guidance with these steps and thoughts flows from the stories we enter and those we make. Our course culminates in the shaping of a third digital media production. How do we tell and foretell our destinies?
         The meanings we make of destiny sift our fortunes and fates, like moving sand through the hourglass. The time of our life flows anyway, but might we at least tilt the speed and perhaps shift the direction? Our inborn capacity to perceive resonance can sharpen with awareness, with intention, with reflection on the designs and representations that form our tellings. In Good Stories, we’ve played and worked with tales so that we can tell for greater insight, more tailored fit, and for advanced movement toward cooperation, for peace and justice.
         Discourse about destiny in our stage of development swirls into another big concept: consciousness. The movie each of us is making—couldn’t we title it “Pathway to Heaven”?  More darkly, we need awareness of falling, even if unconsciously, toward that other H-word? We’re going to imagine, to mold out of the clay of our everyday living, the shape we make of our maker, like it or not. To be mindless or to be sleep-walking tells of an absent minder. Whatever we worship names the god of the temple of our dwelling.
          Hillman concludes The Soul’s Code with advice that applies to our closing weeks in Good Stories. He tells of the difficulty we encounter as well as the knowing we follow on this path of destiny:
Awakening to the original seed of one’s soul and hearing it speak may not be easy. How do we recognize its voice; what signals does it give? Before we can address these questions, we need to notice our own deafness, the obstructions that make us hard of hearing: the reductionism, the literalism, the scientism of our so-called common sense. . .

The soul’s code cannot be encompassed by physical means—only curious thought, devotional feeling, suggestive intuition, and daring imagination. . .” (pages 278; 286).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Meeting with the Ruler

“Because your path led to the firebird feather, your life now depends on finding the Firebird!”

In the telling of our story on Tuesday, one I’ve told perhaps twenty times, a nuance was coming through, one that I haven’t felt before and that seemed quite significant. “The Horse of Power” tells of a series of meetings between two archetypal figures: hunter and ruler. The nuance came in with an increased awareness of why the hunter had to bring the firebird before the ruler.
         I felt this keenly perhaps mostly because I’m looking at the firebird as a passion and I know that passion can be consuming. When a person gets possessed by a passion, he or she moves into dangerous ground. It’s like getting on a fiery stallion without having the skill to command it. Finding the firebird or the stallion or a passionate engagement is the proper task of the hunter, that part of a person that knows how to track the object of desire, the way Arthur pursued and found the hart. But the firebird can burn up a hunter who does not connect with the ruler, indeed, who does not serve the good ruler.
         Archetypally, the ruler stands for our capacity to bring order, in its varied meanings, into our lives. We command action, and we organize for survival, for efficiency, for productivity, even for happiness. A good ruler sees capacity and orders the worker to advance in development, even beyond the worker’s vision.
         My recent rides with Leg’cy have added my insight related to this. The advance in our capacity has required me to increase the support I’m giving with the reins and from my legs. At earlier stages of our development, my attempts to increase contact with the reins would have been harmful and increased pressure from my legs might have been dangerous. As my skill and sensitivity have improved, however, the higher level of contact is now needed in order to support Leg’cy. This allows us to hold a new form while we learn and adjust to the more elevated motion. If I get stuck in my previous enactment of respectful and safe connections, our advance gets stifled.
         Similarly, the interactions between the ruler and the hunter adjust as the development advances. The ruler commands the hunter, “Because you have brought in the firebird feather, which no one has done before, you shall now go and bring in the Firebird!” A person can get stuck at the feather level.  This happens when a person feels that his or her hunt is at the peak of accomplishment. If we have that mindset, we see the ruler’s command as cruel, greedy, and tyrannical.
         If our imagination advances, however, so that we can accurately envision a ruler who sees capacity beyond the present accomplishment, we might realize that the ruler is holding the reins in a way that supports elevation. Once we know the entire plot line in the “Horse of Power,” we’re aware that the story traces the development of the hunter into the ruler, and we can consider the demands along the way as the shaping of this development. The journey may be demanding; as the song goes, “I never promised you a rose garden.”
         Our next story, “Lion Time,” repeats this theme of development with a nice variation. In case you haven’t heard the story yet, I won’t give away the plot line here; but after you enjoy it on that first-time level, return to absorb it on the archetypal level because the teaching is important about how fear must not stop our journey. We saw this in “Horse of Power” when the archetype of power warns, “If you pick up that feather, you will learn the meaning of fear.” Our enactment of power requires discernment about fear. Sometimes we should back off and other times we move through the fear; discernment depends on a positive and strong connection between the hunter and the ruler.
         In “Horse of Power,” the hunter receives guidance from the horse and commands from the ruler. In “Lion Time,” the emergent ruler receives the teaching from a series of experiences. As you can see in the video, I interpret this series as developments of an accomplished person; the experiences build the complete personality that is necessary prior to presuming to lead. This attention to becoming well-rounded reminds us of Teig in “One Without a Story” who mastered craft, art, religion, and science on his way to his new profession. One reason we lack powerful leaders who inspire dedicated support comes in our flat structures that allow movement into elevated positions when persons have not developed the necessary structure. In “Lion Time,” this is imaged as facing the lion.

         We’ll apply the sequencing of experiences in our work next week and we’ll integrate it into the design of our final digital media project.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Engagement with Home

In Good Stories this week, we moved ahead into the second half of our major textbook, Bryan Boyd’s Origin of Stories. Part 4 focuses on The Odyssey with a particular look at the goal of the story and the obstacles along the way. Boyd’s analysis of Odysseus’ goal and tasks serves as a model for us individually to design our final digital media productions.
         Odysseus’ goal is portrayed around his persistent drive for going home. Even in reflecting on our discussion yesterday, my being vibrates in the resonance of that theme. While it’s different for me from the way my college-student collaborators, some forty years younger, must feel it, I still believe “going home” strikes an eternally resonant chord. Perhaps you, too, hear ET in the background, with that plaintive cry; or we may sound further back to S&G’s Homeward Bound (“home where my love lies waiting/silently for me…” full lyrics shown here ).  Or, like the look I saw in the eyes of yesterday’s classroom, our gaze homeward may move even beyond the horizon of time.
         Of course, any of us who have tried to find the place of childhood, knows the disappointment of growing up, of disillusion, of finding clay-footed places and people, even ourselves. For me, there’s been poignancy in realizing that the Texas of my youth has morphed into a mismatch with my “mature years.”


Anson TX 1953ish            &                      Oct 30 2014 

And, yet now, I’m wondering about a meaning of home that expresses an engagement, where that warmth and recognition of belonging comes more in the fidelity forged between the inner landscape and the outer connection.
         Home has been explained as something that moves with a person. To some extent, I get that; but I also experience the embrace of the place we are now stewarding.

          Tending to the inner counts, like I’m doing now in drafting this post while sitting, pre-dawn, in front of our softly-burning wood stove, with its warm orange flames, sipping freshly brewed coffee; and yet inner space tended by meditation and reflection cannot be sundered from my gratitude for the falling leaves and more for those yet clinging with moving shades of yellow, gold, and red. Our love of those trees as well as the berry bushes, the barn, the bird-feeder when snow makes foraging nigh impossible—these bits of mindfulness make home, too.
         Yesterday, my thirty-something daughter and I shared a few hours, and among other things we talked about a location for her new home as her place in Colorado sells. Lauren has just returned from a week in Costa Rica where her employer is developing a site. She doesn’t feel that’s the place. She works out of San Francisco mostly but that’s not home to her either, neither is London where she’ll likely be next week. Australia looks interesting, she says, along with the hobbit side of New Zealand.
         Longing, the on-and-off focus of Good Stories, goes hand in glove with the goal of going home.

         My daughter’s voyage toward home, with an inner journey at least as rich as her world tour, seems foreign to mine.  And I don’t expect my college students, a decade younger than Lauren, will construct a meaning of home the way either of us do. And yet, going home still makes for a common goal, so that given all our differences we can hold together while we each and in our companionship imagine or way home.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lived Experience

Mixed images from

Lived Experience

Human being vibrates, ever reaching
Into an unknown
Seeks further meaning

Increasingly aware of the numinous
Tastes eternity
Feels balanced motion

Never to be sated but simply left
A bit less lonely
Appeased by beauty


         The term of the day, for me—but first a Dis-Claimer (a dis on myself actually). I’ve learned not to expect to be on the earlybird timetable for coining a phrase or even picking it up when it’s hot. So this term won’t be new for most anyone else. I know. OK. I know Van Manen’s Researching Lived Experience was published a quarter century ago.  And from von Franz over a half-century ago in her commentary on Apuleius and his protagonist Lucius in the Golden Ass: “Lucius thus represents the principle of consciousness or the possibility of becoming conscious through lived life experience” (p. 30).
         So I’m slow, but I still want to know, why “lived” as a part of the experience?  Do we have many unlived experiences? Or partially lived ones? Hmmm. While it may be argued as semantically wasteful, I’m thinking that to tack on “lived” to “experience” pushes me toward increased consciousness. And that sets up the advance into quantum consciousness.  Now with that connection I’ve got a good reason for plumbing the phrase.
         When I look again and more closely into van Manen for his purpose of putting “lived” in combination with “experience,” I’m concluding that he seems concerned that the bare term “experience” has been compromised by our scientific bias. Probing pure experience gets lost in analysis. The first explanation I find in Researching Lived Experience comes on page 9: Phenomenology “differs from almost every other science in that it attempts to gain insightful descriptions of the way we experience the world pre-reflectively, without taxonomizing, classifying, or abstracting it.”  A few lines later, “Consciousness is the only access human beings have to the world. Or rather, it is by virtue of being conscious that we are already related to the world.”
         In a way, engagement with “lived experience” cycles me back, in that unending tour around the ancient tower of one’s destiny, into the “sense born-with” and through the theme of resonance. Phenomenology, in the Heidegger track (in addition to epistemology's how do we know?), elevates ontology: why/how is a person here? Might it be that engaging and re-entering experience with deepened insight marries the individual with his and her indwelling gift. Von Franz talks of this as our daimon or the individual genius: “each individual had his idios daimon—his own specific daimon…the Greek word which Apuleius translates quite adequately in Latin as ‘genius.’ From the Jungian point of view, one could say that it is the preconscious form of individuality…The genius made one genialis—sparkling with spirit and life” (pp. 14-15).
         Lived experience pulses with a two-way dynamic with its striving for both X (more presence in the immediate moment, the way an artist works/plays) and Y (increased dedication to representation and reflection on the experience). The dynamic carries a vibrant commitment to returning with more wholeness, holiness, like a marriage between X and Y. The opening lines of this blog reach toward that kind of pulsing dynamic gained through lived experience.
         A gift of this past weekend came in our hometown’s studio tour as we watched and talked with artists.  Creation happens as an intense, yet playful, search with a gaze into the artistic act, the phenomenon, for glimmers from beyond, and with an eagerness to re-enter. Quantum multiplicity glistens in the artists’ eyes with reflections picked up in my camera lens and mixed in this video:

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Reality of Transformations

What is real? 

To muddle about in the question of “what is real?” here are some considerations:
A. How is Photo 1 real when the image is adjusted in iPhoto (as shown in the adjust window)?

B. How is Photo 2, taken a minute later from a few strides south, more or less real when the image is left unadjusted?

C. How, if at all, can both Photo 1 and Photo 2 be real?

D. How is or is not Van Gogh’s haystack real? Moses’ burning bush?

Perhaps the real comes in transformations. Rumi says that “there never was in the world a treasure without a snake” (Mathnawi, II, 1862, Nicholson’s trans.). And, a few lines later, perhaps in relation to the above photographs, “Do thou the same thing that the sun of the east does with our hypocrisy and craft and thieving and dissimulation.”

For seven weeks, I’ve been practicing an approach to hermeneutical phenomenology (see also my next paragraph) by bringing my sense of Good Stories to the arena. (A recent blog elaborated this, including: “I intentionally carry the development of Good Stories in my body, my heart, and my imagination…to the riding experience.”)  During and following the ride, I’m attending for an essence that I bring into more articulate form by writing the blog and then take the textualized lived-experience/s forward with a continued sense and presence to the next class session and then back to the arena and so on. I wonder if doing this with my craft makes a similar thing to what the sun of the east does?

Van Manen says: “in its most basic form lived experience involves our immediate, pre-reflective consciousness of life: a reflexive or self-given awareness which is, as awareness, unaware of itself” (p. 35, Researching Lived Experience). On the next page, he adds: “The aim of phenomenology is to transform lived experience into a textual expression of its essence—in such a way that the effect of the text is at once a reflexive re-living and a reflective appropriation of something meaningful: a notion by which a reader is powerfully animated in his or her own lived experience.”

When being observed, as teachers are, and even more so when feeling judged, we may become even further distracted and distanced from lived experience.  One reason I ride relates to the consequences around losing and gaining presence; I lean into the vibrancy felt in increasing it. Stunning is the extent to which what is accessible to consciousness goes unseen, inarticulate, like angels unasked.

Concerning the significance of the transformation of consciousness, Jung writes in his foreword to Aion: “My reader should never forget, however, that I am not making a confession of faith or writing a tendentious tract, but am simply considering how certain things could be understood from the standpoint of our modern consciousness—things which I deem it valuable to understand, and which are obviously in danger of being swallowed up in the abyss of incomprehension and oblivion; things, finally, whose understanding would do much to remedy our philosophic disorientation by shedding light on the psychic background and the secret chambers of the soul. The essence of this book was built up gradually, in the course of many years, in countless conversations with people of all ages and all walks of life; with people who in the confusion and uprootedness of our society were likely to lose all contact with the meaning of European culture and to fall into that state of suggestibility which is the occasion and cause of the Utopian mass-psychoses of our time.”

Rumi says, “Don’t be the rider who gallops all night/And never sees the horse that is beneath him” (p. 236, Translated by Robert Bly in The Soul Is Here for Its Own Joy. Ecco, 1995.).