Thursday, June 5, 2014
PART 1 - Stream of Consciousness
If you look at the fella on the right it is obvious that he is not what you would call a handsome or good looking specimen by any manner or means, BUT, he is probably more attractive in the ordinary sense to other homosapiens than the large praying mantis on the brim of the hat of my good shipmate on the left.
When looking at this photograph I was reminded of a book by the South African writer Laurens van der Post. The book is called 'A Mantis Carol' which is the true story about the adventures of a South African Kalahari Bushman. The praying mantis is special to the bushmen because the most important southern Bushmen spiritual being is Kaggen, the trickster-deity who in bushman theology created many things, and appears in numerous myths where he can be foolish or wise, tiresome or helpful. The Deity would appear in the myths in many forms, often as a Praying Mantis.
Hans Taaibosch the Bushman in 'A Mantis Carol' finds his way to the United States where he works in various circuses. He is a most appealing personality whose openness, honestly and what we call 'groundedness' is beyond compare. He is open to the world in a special way. He is a man without guile with a wonderful laugh that stops people in their tracks. It is a laugh that sings of a deep connectedness with his own nature and being - he knows himself beyond compare.
"Van der post's theory is that the almost exterminated Bushmen constitute a crucial link with our own remotest past in that his conscious mind corresponds in some way to our dreaming selves and thus is a mirror for some of the imponderables which arise from the modern unconscious, between which Taaibosch himself, a man of the Stone Age working the circus circuit in modern America without loss of dignity, makes a physical connection."
To fully understand this connection and the special place of the praying mantis that informs Taaibosch's world you need to read the book.
Laurens van der Post is one who writes wonderfully of Africa. I have read all his books and it is from these writings that any understanding I have of Africa springs.
Van der Post was a friend of the great Carl Jung. Jung who was a contemporary of Sigmund Freud (but whose theories and conclusions about the psyche are quite different) is considered one of the fathers of modern psychology.
There is a story in Van der Post's book 'Jung and The Story of Our Time' where my stream of consciousness in this Blog post continues.
Although born and raised in Africa, Van der Post lived in England. When traveling too and from Africa he would always travel via Switzerland where he would visit his friend Carl Jung. Van der Post tells a story of Jung which has echoes of Hans Taaibosch. Often, Van der Post writes, when taking lunch with Jung in his garden people walking past would backtrack and peer through the gate in the hedge seeking the source of the sound of the wonderful uninhibited laughter they had heard that peppered the conversational gezelligheid of Carl Jung. In echoes of Hans Taaibosh the laughter spoke of wholeness and connectedness of being.
My stream of consciousness then lead me to this idea - that this wholeness of being, this connectedness sounded something not unlike the parable promise of the mustard seed in the New Testament, which states that:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."
When I view this in my own metaphorical way the parable tells me that wholeness, connectedness and completion (the kingdom) resides within us as a potentiality that can be developed over our lifetime (the image of the growing tree) not with reference to dogma, doctrines, hollow rituals or the following of some guru but by taking seriously the idea that we live in the 'Kingdom' NOW, the Kingdom is truely upon us now, if we use our eyes to see and our ears to listen. Jung was quite firm on the point that 'wholeness' or the 'individuated self' is something we are born with, it is there with us from the beginning - life is the process of unfolding it, letting it bloom, like the opening of a flower. So, in my way of thinking the word "God" becomes a placeholder for the continuous revelation of meaning that streams forth from a life fully lived. "God" is not 'out there', transcendent, separate, nor is "God" an end to be attained - rather "God" is the truth we discover as we live the journey, NOW; in all its fullness; and if we live this fullness in a deep and meaningful way we become whole, complete and connected. We become a place of relatedness with and to others (including all living things) on this planet (the image of the birds of the air nesting in our branches) - and this all begins from the time of conception when we were as small as a mustard seed.
How should we live this journey? - probably in the same spirit that the Dalai Lama lives his, who said, "My religion is compassion and loving kindness" - I personally can't argue with that.
All of what I have written is an echo of what I quoted long ago on the right hand sidebar of this Blog under the heading 'Wisdom From Karen Armstrong'. She gives some strong statements about how we should live our lives; and in living fully, practise always trumps belief.
Just a thought. (Or Stream of Consciousness)