Hermitage

As for people, it seems that even the birds and beasts have times when they concentrate. They meditate, in their own way, and they offer their prayer to God. There is no being on earth, however small, who does not contemplate for a moment. If one’s sight were keen, one would also see, by sitting in the solitary woods or by sitting in caves in the mountains, that they all have their prayer and their at-one-ment with God. Why do the great ones, the souls who do not find rest and peace in the midst of the world, go to the wilderness? It is in order to breathe the breath of peace and calm that comes to them in the heart of the wilderness.  –Inayat Khan

No one attains peace by fighting.  — Inayat Khan

Possibly the greatest gift that has come to me in this past year of pain and boredom is peace.  I need a great deal of it.  I revel in it, I absorb it, I try to radiate it:  it is more necessary to me than the food I eat or the air I breathe.  C.G. Jung wrote extensively about his own perception of  psychological types, differentiating people between introverted and extroverted, first, and then into variations of these.  From those early writings, all sorts of systems of classification have arisen, culminating in the famed Myers-Briggs test that theoretically enables one to decide which category one falls into, and then compare themselves with famous people who also fall into that category.  As to whether such scales are accurate probably lies in whether they are useful to the individual, and I’m not particularly interested in them, although I do find it interesting that I appear to fall into the same categories as Jung himself:  I am an introvert who is good at appearing to be extroverted; I am intuitive, and I am feeling; I can be extremely mental, and certainly analytical, yet base my final conclusions on my perceptions, which come to me intuitively.  It is the first of these that I find the most interesting:  that when in a crowd, I seem to do just fine at holding my own; I am a teacher by nature, and I am a person with a mission in life.  Interestingly, however, all this must live side-by-side with what I consider to be the “real” me, who is quiet and rather shy, needs a great deal of “down” time, is a fantasizer and a visionary, and a natural contemplative.  I have often said that if life did not present me with a marriage and family, I would be in a monastery somewhere, living a deeply satisfying inner life.  A friend told me that I am a “sensitive,” one of those who lives an inner life and contributes to the world from that standpoint, rather than wading into the fray and fighting their way through life.  I haven’t always allowed myself to be who I am:  like most Americans, my belief tends to be that I ought to be out there, slugging away and doing, doing, doing.  Having come to the culmination of some clearly stress-related physical problems, I now question this belief, and am working to find a way to be both sides of myself.

It is interesting to observe people and watch how they accomplish their ends in life.  I have someone in my family who says he believes in fighting about everything, and if the other person refuses to fight with him, he does not respect them.  That is an interesting (and to me, exhausting) example of the extroverted type, eh?  I suppose he would be termed a warrior type.  In a sense, of course, we must all be warriors, although some of us fight the battle within, rather than trying to gain our ends through warring with others.

The Tarot provides one of the best systems of illustration of psychological types I’ve ever seen, and I’m sure Dr. Jung must have agreed, for here, in this deck which has survived for centuries, popping up in various cultures and times, we have, in the Major Arcana, beautiful descriptions and representations of some 22 types of humans:  for the extroverts, we have the Emperor and Empress, for the Introverts, the High Priestess, the Hierophant, the Hermit. . .   And then there are all the variations of personalities that arises from these:  the Fool, the Hanged Man, the Judge, etc.  There is another way to look at these that makes sense in a broader fashion, as well:

As I understand it, the soul manifests out of the Divine Unity, God undifferentiated, and on its way toward incarnation, it passes through all the realms of being, from the realm of Splendor, through the various angelic realms, then to the Jinn and Astral planes, and finally, before the culmination of its journey, literally through the realms of animal, vegetable and mineral existence.  Thus, the soul comes to earth, its ultimate test, with all these influences, more or less impressed with each according to the interests and attunements it develops on its journey.  Accordingly, it makes its return journey with the influences it is impressed by here on earth.  Jung said that the archetypes, these illuminations of the impressions we gather in the creation of personality, are actually eternal and unchanging, even though our perceptions of them change, thus rendering them dynamic as well as fixed in eternity.  Thus, I am thinking of how these types I mentioned above apply to our identifications with these archetypes, and how our consideration of them may be useful to us at the various crossroads that we come to.  They are useful in contemplative practice, as well.  For instance, I suppose my identification has been with the Hermit increasingly, in the past year, and now I feel as if I am coming into the Fool, stepping off my self-created precipice into sheer, empty space, my eyes fixed on my ideal, my arms outspread and my heart wide open.  The Fool represents the original being of God emerging into human form, prior to cause and effect, to karma or memories, no past, only openness stretching ahead.  The Fool is a being of faith, first and foremost, because he knows no other than the Friend, peace, that presence that is always within, at hand, the ethereal air we breath and the dirt beneath our feet on the road of life.

As I was writing all this, my dogs made it known to me that they wished to go out, and it wasn’t their “time,” but I got up and let them out and was drawn out to sit on my deck, where the Friend pulled me quickly into that embrace wherein all is the song of the birds, the sound within sound, the peace within peace.  I am grateful.

May these vows and this marriage be blessed.
May it be sweet milk,
this marriage, like wine and halvah.
May this marriage offer fruit and shade
like the date palm.
May this marriage be full of laughter,
our every day a day in paradise.
May this marriage be a sign of compassion,
a seal of happiness here and hereafter.
May this marriage have a fair face and a good name,
an omen as welcomes the moon in a clear blue sky.
I am out of words to describe
how spirit mingles in this marriage.
Rumi, Kulliyat-i-Shams 2667

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