Inner Journey: Transformation 101: The Map Is Not The Territory

20190629 INNER JOURNEY 101 THE MAP IS NOT THE TERRITORY

As a wee lad I used to love to wander off, with friends or by myself. I really loved maps, and when I was a little older and able to use a map and a compass, I was off on further boyhood adventures, albeit only for a few hours.

On one occasion, given a pencil and paper by my grandmother I was off exploring the immediate local countryside of Capel Curig, making notes and sketches as I trekked over ‘manicured’ lawns, jumped noisily over the rivulet that marked the garden boundary and trekked boldly into fairly dense forest. On that map-making journey of adventure, it became clear that I had to decide on the scale of the map and would have to decide what to include or not. Somethings I included, somethings I excluded. Big things I included, and smaller trees etc I excluded as I didn’t have a big enough sheet of paper, and if I’m honest what was left off was, sometimes, quite arbitrary.

Later that day, I showed the map to my grandmother, and although she was very encouraging, it was clear that, as I explained the map, I had left off an awful lot of detail either by design or because I hadn’t noticed it. The map was only partially useful.

‘To journey without being changed is to be a nomad’

As an adult I am an amateur astronomer with a huge telescope, inspired by my Dad who, when I was a wee lad, bought me my first telescope. To me, then, it was huge, but in comparison to the one I have now it was small. But, to a small boy it was an awesome size and opened up the universe to me. And, it set me off on another child-orientated project, of a stellar kind. Assisted by a planisphere, a star chart, I was commencing yet another journey of adventure.

My first use of the simplified star chart was a lesson in ‘economics’! I could see more stars with the naked eye, and many more through the telescope that night, than were depicted on the star chart. My Dad was encouraging and explained that the start chart was like a ‘road map’ for the stars, and would only assist if bright stars were included and others omitted. Too much detail would render this and any map useless. The map was essentially an ‘outline’.

‘To change without journeying is to be a chameleon’

As an adult I still love maps – global positioning satellite maps for their functionality are wonderful, but oh, give me a paper map that I can fold, feel, smell, and hear as it crunches and bends as the wind catches it.

But, I now use maps differently to when I was a child.

Then I would avidly look at the map and ‘fit’ the world around me into it. I was so intent on looking at the map, hand-drawn by me, purchased Ordnance Survey maps or gifted star charts, that I missed much of what was going on around me, missed much of the wonder of nature.

Now, I gaze at nature, the countryside or the heavens, and then use a map to confirm what I’m looking at, or to pick out some feature on the map and find it in real life and aim for that. The map is now secondary.

I’ve learned that ‘the map is not the territory.’

Odd then, that as grown-ups so many of us use maps of different kinds, such as philosophy books, prayer books, ancient sacred texts, liturgy etc, and then gaze at the world around us. Our primary focus seems to be elsewhere, when our primary focus should be on nature and others, on life itself, with a gaze, then, afterwards, at the philosophy books, prayer books etc. Ofcourse, the latter are important, but too much gazing at them alone may mean we’re missing out on what on going on around us. They are ‘pointers’ to reality or a greater reality.  ‘Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin.’ [Matthew 6:28). Max Lucado rightly says that, ‘Nature is God’s first missionary’.

‘To Journey and be transformed by the journey is to be a pilgrim’.

(This, and indented quotes above by Mark Nepo, ‘ Seven Thousand Ways To Listen: Staying Close To What Is Sacred)

We can be so busy on the intricacies of the journey, so focussed on the map, that we miss much of the journey of life and transformation itself. For instance, we can be so ‘involved’ in planning and doing (performing) a ritual that we can miss its deep meaning. Ofcourse, planning and doing it well are good, but if perfection ‘distances’ from the deep meaning, the inner journey of transformation, then we’ve missed out.

Our spiritual journey rightly involves outward activities, sacraments, rituals, liturgies, but focus too much on them, and though we might do them perfectly and even have praise heaped upon us by others, one wonders about the corresponding inner journey of transformation.

‘As above, so below’, it has been said. Others speak of an inner/outer congruency. It seems we need both: outer activity and inner transformation. ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ (Romans 12:2a, The Book).

‘Change is inevitable, but transformation is by conscious choice.’ Heather Ash Amara

And, yet, that transformation may be lacking, or delayed, or stalled! You can see that sometimes when someone says one thing but does another, or seems outwardly spiritual in their actions but inwardly is materialistic or immature by what they say. None of us like to admit that, and our ego rebels against such a notion, but if its tries to ignore the challenge (and it will be true for some, and perhaps true for al of us at sometime in our life) then we miss out even more on that inner transformation. Better to name it, and work for change.

‘Transformation isn’t a future event. It’s a present day activity.’ Jillian Michaels

On our spiritual adventure of a lifetime, maps of all kinds may assist, but they are not the territory, or as Alfred Korzybski said, ‘The (spoken) word is not the thing. Perhaps their role is to point out the need for transformation and to give hints about it, but it is up to us to do it – to be transformed (bit by bit. It’s continual).

Mark Nepo mentions something similar to this, and concludes with an exercise – see below:

– Centre yourself and without judgement bring to mind a time that you refused to let your experience change you. [Resistance].Simply feel that time’s presence.

– As you breathe, bring to mind a time that you changed yourself to please or avoid another. [Distancing]. Again, simply feel that time’s presence.

– As you soften, bring to mind a time that you journeyed forth and were changed by the journey. [Surrender]. Feel this time’s presence.

– Without judgment, give thanks [Gratitude] by accepting all of this. Give thanks for being human.

‘The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.’ Albert Einstein

Ofcourse, all this begs the questions: what is transformation, how is started, how is it completed, what are transformational ‘tools’, what are the benefits of transformation to the individual and the world? Yes, there’s more (which will appear here over the next few weeks).

 

In The Depth Of My Soul….: Anamnesis

20170913 IN THE DEPTH OF MY SOUL ANAMNESIS REMEMBERINGAs you know I love ritual. Not just for the pomp and ceremony, but I love it because of its power and vitality, for the fact that it connects us to That Which Is Bigger Than Ourselves, intensifies the moment, and can have such a deep meaning that we are transformed, and transported in delight.

I was watching a video recetly which had several recorded events of the hongi. The hongi is the ancient traditional Maori greeting, and is done by a gentle pressing of one’s nose and forehead to another persons nose and forehead. The ‘ha’ (breath of life), also seen as one’s soul, is then exchanged. Then the visitor, the ‘manuhirim’ is no longer a visitor but, wonderfully becomes a ‘tangata whenua’, one of the people of the Land.

As the video progressed, one act of hongi stood out from amongst the others. This person, a westerner, probably nervous and feeling out of place, went a long a line of Maori people, touched nose to nose, but at breakneck speed. The act was performed, but that person had forgotten the true meaning of the hongi, and so missed out on ‘something’. It was, sadly, rather shallow. There was no real meaning, no depth, no transformation, no sharing of the ‘ha’, the breath of life.

Ritual is important, because it slows us down. In ritual we remember. Remembering is so important. And when involved in ritual, and when remembering we go deep(er) and may be transformed, we enter sacred-time and sacred-space and encounter. Things, then are different.

The challenge, today, is that instead of going deep we are encouraged to operate at a shallow level. It seems to be the way of the world.

‘People care much more for how things look than how things are.’  Donna Lynn Hope

I have been to some fine ceremonies. Last Christmas, for instance, I was at an event where we sang wonderful tunes and awesome words, recited meaningful words from a bygone age, listened intently to a transforming story, and then afterwards I sipped coffee with the congregation. I was still in the ‘liminal zone’, but others around me were not. I’m not judging them because on other occasions I’m probably in their shoes, and maybe you have been, too? It happens.

After that ceremony those  near me talked about the weather and their rhumatism, the need to leave early to start cooking the Christmas turkey, they talked about a several-hour car journey to visit a relative, and one remarked that the minister was wearing a rather fetching stole.

‘Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.’ Christopher Reeve

Ritual is important, because it slows us down. In ritual we remember. But, those around me may have misunderstood the nature of the ceremony we had just witnessed, and had forgotten. It is here that ritual and stories come in useful, because through stories we remember.

There is an ancient story, one that we heard at that service, that includes the words, ‘Do this in remembrance of me…’. When I hear those words it’s like warm honey being poured down my spine – they are awesome and have moved me to tears on occasions. In them is power and love, invitation and joy. In them we remember.

In thinking of those words, we can view them merely from an academic point of view. There is nothing wrong with this, but there’s more. Go deeper. We can view them as words said by the One some two thousand years ago, and look back from a historical, ‘legal’ or dogmatic point of view. There is nothing wrong with this, but there’s more. Many in that congregation seemed to stop there – many do, and so miss out. Many stop at a shallow understanding of ritual and ceremony and story, but there is more. Go deeper.

When those words – and it could be other words and events that we ecnounter – are spoken or encountered they are deeper than deep. ‘Do this in remembrance of me’ is so significant because the ‘remembering’ is anamnesis!

Remembering is important. Anamnesis is so important.

In its weakest sense, and common today, anamnesis it is merely remembering an act, and carrying it on in the absence of the originator. It’s a looking back along that distant horizontal time-line. Oh, how the spirit of this age wants us to quickly move on to something else, so we miss the depth.

‘In the depth of my soul there is a wordless song.’ Kahlil Gibran quotes

There’s more for those who want to go deeper, and who really want to benefit.
In its deepest, purist sense, and the one I would encourage you to engage with, anamnesis has a vertical connection. It (ritual, ceremony or story etc) ‘lifts’ us off the normal time-line, and upward to the higher realm. Not just an act, but a participation; not with an absent host but one who is ever-present; not looking back in time, but living in continual ‘nowness” of the event; not earthly, but cosmic.

An example of anamnesis can be read in a previous article entitled, The Telling Place: Ritual And Anamnesis. (See here)

Anamnesis in ritual, in our times of meditation and quiet, in our services and ceremony is a ‘transporting’ back or coming into full partcipation with the event in mind – it is the time-frame you and I are living in, being superimposed over some major event so that the two are happening together.

Synchronous. Participation. Transformation.

My encouragement to you is: Don’t miss out, but to go deeper, and resist the spirit of the age to remain shallow. Go deeper, and revel in anamnesis, true remembering and true participation. True encounter. Liminal, not liminoid.

 

Your Journey: Becoming An Edge-Walker

20161027-edgewalker-standard-thoughts

I’m an avid reader of books, and I like to read from a wide genre and different styles, so that I can get a broader glimpse of the world through the eyes of others from all walks of life. I’ve just finished a book written by a man that walked the  Amazon.

‘You have to just dive over the edge. You haven’t got time to mess about’. Ralph Fiennes

And, I’ve also just finished re-reading a book by Cheryl Strayed about her hike of more than a thousand miles along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington State in the USA. Great adventurers, arduous journeys, ‘highs’ and lows’ from people who had tough times, but who overcame obstacles, and thereby grew in many ways, and returned changed.

It got me thinking. In what ways do we – you and I – prosper when we leave our comfort zone and venture forth into the unknown, ‘to boldly go’, and move from the centre to the edge. The edge is where adventure and treasure can be found.

‘Only ever doing what feels comfortable is a form of suicide.’ Oli Anderson.

Our natural ‘default’ position is of being ‘centre settlers’, we enjoy our comfort zones, love the ‘comfrotable armchair’ of life, but unbeknown to us that armchair can be a most dreadful place, a place that’s so comfrotable that we’re lulled into a warm, cozy, false-sleep of complacency (if we spend all our time there) as the clock ticks on, and opportunity paases us by.

‘The most dangerous place is in your safety zone.’ Robin S Sharma

So, what’s the answer, fellow sojourner?

Caution: The following is to whet your appetite, and to encourage you to become an ‘edge-walker’, someone who doesn’t always stay within the confines of their safety zone, but ventures forth on an awesome adventure. Therefore, as you read this article and, maybe, proceed towards the edge, do so cautiously, ‘testing the waters’ as you go, using reason,  some logic, and lots of common-sense to ensure your safety, but don’t be timid about new experiences. Oh, and, yes, use lots of imagination, too. Great things happen at the edge, as you will find out….that is, if you leave your comfort zone.

‘Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.’ Haruki Murakami.

The Journey

So, what would a movement toward the edge, a journey into the unknown look like. There are a number of common stages, and these are:

1. The status quo: This is our home, where we are now! It’s where we are before we start out, it’s the ‘ordinary’ life, but a place where we experience the feeling of not quite fitting in. Do you feel that you don’t quite fit in?

2. The Call:  The comes a time when we receive a mysterious and/or unexpected invitation, message or challenge. It could come in the physical realm, or it could be an inner conviction, which calls us to something greater. It’s natural to query our capabilities, and some never get beyond this stage, sadly, because they seemingly disqualify themselves.

3. Meeting Your Mentor: As if by ‘magic’, someone who will equiip us with the nitial information to get us started, give us the necessary ‘tools’ for our journey to the edge, and give us great encouragement, will arrive. You may have heard the maxim, ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear’. Well, it’s true. And, maybe for you, this stage is happening right now, as you read this article.

‘Don’t assume, this journey to the edge is only a physical journey to some remote land. For you, it could be an inner journey of discovery, just as every bit as real as a trek through a jungle, a desert, or up a mountain.’

4. Departure: Now, we leave. Ofcourse, thoughts arise as to whether we’re doing the right thing. Family and friends may query the logic of what we’re doing – they have, maybe, the best will in the world, but they’re not you or I, and they haven’t received our calling. But, we’ve answered the Call (though some do turn back even at this point, sadly), and we leave the familiar. We move over the ‘city limits’ into the liminal zone – over the threshold into the unknown. We depart, and take the first real step towards our adventure towards the edge.

‘Our journey could be a physical one. It could be an imaginal one, a real imaginal one. As Pablo Picasso said, ‘Everything you can imagine is real.’

5. Adventure, Trials & Allies: As our adventure unfolds, there may be trials along the way. Tests of somekind, perhaps. But, don’t worry, help is at hand. We will find allies along the way, too, who will possess just the skills or infotmation we need, to assist us. In the physical realm we will be assisted by people, locals and those with specialist knowledge. But, what of the imaginal realm? Why, then you are limited only by your imagination. Perhaps, as in our night dreams, we will encounter and be assisted by companions, angels, elementals, animals.? Who knows? All ‘energies’ within our psyche.

6. The Cave: Here is a totally unknown land or experience. It requires boldness on our part, but we’ve come this far, and so we carry on. In one ancient story, Jonah found himself being tossed about by the sea (having been thrown overboard), and a big fish, maybe a whale, comes swimming along. That’s akin to a huge (animal) cave.

7. Crisis?: It might be, not always, that things come to a head. We face a crisis along our journey, in our life. It comes ‘out of the blue’ and ‘knocks us sideways’! It might be that we have to traverse a huge desert. Perhaps it is facing a, metaphorical, monster or challenge, something we have to overcome. For Jonah, it was being swallowed by the big fish. A form of ‘death’; certainly a massive ‘jolt’ to his system, and humbling.

8. The Reward, The Treasure: After traveling so far, our efforts are rewarded and we find what we’ve been looking for whether it is in the physical realm or imaginal realm: this could be information, wisdom, answers, guidance, healing, growth and transformation etc. Perhaps, we didn’t know what to expect, maybe we were looking for transformation, but it is at the edge that we discover it.

‘We live at the edge of the miraculous’, Henry Miller

Here at the very edge – where things are totally different to home, we discover what you’ve been seeking.

‘For some in imaginal realm sessions with Tadhg, some have come with questions, say, and in that inner, imaginal realm, have been directed by an ally or two to an imaginal landscape eg an inner library, only there to discover the answer to the question that has been troubling them. Like a night dream sequence this inner journey can yield great benefits,

9. Going Home: The journey is almost over, and now the journey home (easier than the outward journey) commences. But, we’re carrying treasure, now. But, there’s more.

10. Different!: There’s more. We’re not the same as when we embarked upon the journey. We’ve grown, matured, maybe, even transformed. Something has changed. We’ve moved up a spiritual stage. And, maybe we ‘wrestle’ with how we will use this treasure and transformation: for ourselves and/or for others? Maybe, there’s another ‘battle’ of a different sort here? Nevertheless we resolve it, maybe with the help of allies, or the mentor, and journey home

11. Back Home: This is the final stage of this particular quest. We’ve returned home to the ‘ordinary’ world. We’ve grown, got treasure or some sort, matured, been transformed, faced challenges and overcome them, and even more.

12: What Next? But, there’s even more. We know two (more) things. Firstly, the treasure we have and the experiences we’ve had have shown us that we need to share them, share our ministry, with others and not keep them to ourselves. Our horizons and outlook have broadened. Secondly, in coming home to the ‘ordinary’ world, the familiar, our ‘eyes have been opened’, and as we look around, we realise that this place, home, isn’t ‘ordinary’ at all, but it extraordinary, and always has been (but, formerly, we never knew it).

Ofcourse, this is but one adventure. There will be others, and they, too, may follow the abovementioned steps but the experiences and aims will be totally different.

The End, Or Is It?

‘Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.’ Albert Einstein

Right now, you can go on an inward, imaginal journey of power and potential. You can become an edge-walker. It’s a journey to find answers to questions you might have; a journey to discover treasure which may be wisdom, guidance or healing; to explore strange, new, inner worlds of the psyche where answers and treasure manifest themselves like symbols in our night dreams; and where you can encounter angels, archetypes, animal guides, companion(s), all metaphors of energies encountered in dream (but, here, done purposefully), all by booking a one-to-one creative-visualisation, imaginal session with Tadhg in person, or via Skype.

‘When you get to the end of all the light you know and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.’ Edward Teller

You can benefit from a physical journey to the edge, sure; but you can also (just as much) benefit from that inward journey of adventure and discovery. If you have questions about that inner, imaginal journey, of using creative imagination or this article, do contact me by email at: tadgh@tadhg.cymru or, in the next 7-10 days await for the announcement about Tadhg’s dedicated website, which will give much more information. Details of that website will follow within the next few days.