Right there is an obvious link between environment and justice. But getting back to education and the arts, the arts play a role in what you're doing at Commonweal, and I wonder if you can share any of your insights about how the arts are useful and valuable? Michael: For us in the healing work, the arts are fundamental.
There are two different ways of looking at art. One is as a professional finished product that is for sale. It's something artists, as professionals, do. The other is a movement of consciousness within us all, that expresses through art.
We speak of the healing arts or the expressive arts-which we use all the time in the Cantor program and Rachel Remen's program-through mediums like sand tray, which is a Jungian technique in which there's a sand box and all these little figures that can be placed in the sand, and the objects tell a story. It's a way of accessing the unconscious, as dreams are. That's just one healing art, but one can do it through movement, through music, through drawing, through journaling etc. In the expressive arts, the focus is not on a finished product that is beautiful, it's about using the arts to explore the individuation process or the healing process to enable us to see what is going on inside us that isn't accessed by words or cognitive thought.
Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul
To us, the arts are an integral part of the healing process and the individuation process. I would say, for those of you who study depth psychology, that the healing and individuation process are essentially inseparable. The way we become who we were intended to be through a greater awareness of our own soul force is through the healing process, which is the same as the individuation process. The expressive arts, or the healing arts, are one of the fundamental tools for that, just as silence and meditation are, and just as following inner intuitions that come to us in meditation or in dreams are.
And these point the way from the lower self to the soul force within each of us, which is the place from which we're intended to live. Kanchan: This has been fascinating, Michael and Richard, listening to this conversation. Michael: Thank you, Kanchan. Kanchan: There are so many nuggets in there that it's kind of hard to absorb it all.
Michael Lerner: Whispers Of A Wounded Healer, by Awakin Call Transcript
Richard: [laughs] Yes. It is, isn't it? In the best way. Kanchan: It's amazing. So before I open up the queue, I have a question. You touched upon all that is happening in the world, all the issues that you're aware of, and still approaching it with hope and not despair.
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This is something that I personally struggle with. How do you navigate this? What do you do to not get caught up in despair but take action with hope? Michael: That is one of the fundamental questions that we all face in our time. Now I found this from Vaclav Havel, the great Czech playwright and statesman, who spent a lot of time in prison under the Communist regime and then became President and Prime Minister of the Czech Republic. Havel said that there is a fundamental distinction between optimism and hope.
He said that optimism is the belief that everything is going to go right. Hope, by contrast, is a deep orientation of the human soul that can be held in the darkest of times. To me there is a fundamental truth to that. If you ask me if I am optimistic, I would say, "Not particularly. In thirty years in the cancer help program, I have seen -- and this past week has been a good example -- I have found that people who have cancer where a cure is extremely remote, but where hope is alive and well, hope is moving them into this soul consciousness, and they are having some of the most profound experiences of their lives about what this life is really about.
I don't know how the world is going to turn out.
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Human beings are a weedy species, they can survive under all kinds of circumstances. I have a feeling that human beings will survive, but the question is, "How much of the world will we destroy in our survival? I believe the Awakin community and the Service Space community is a force for this. I believe that there are many other strands around the world, and that we are awakening to each other, and awakening to the fact that ineluctably, this is our task, this is what we're given; we're given the greatest task that we can ask for. Hope is intrinsic to following that task through.
We have no choice. Hope is the only way to do it. Kanchan: That's beautiful. Thank you so much. Pallavi: Good morning. Michael and Richard, this is so rich. I have goosebumps. I could listen to this all day. What I've discovered in my personal experience is that the wound has you awakened and, once you awaken, if you stay present, you can actually avoid getting wounded again.
Once I've gotten to that place, my deepest heartbreak is watching children, because I recognize that in their innocence they already tap into their higher selves; they are not wounded. But our society and our conditioning passes on those wounds. What are your thoughts about not getting wounded versus how that relates to that archetype that has survived through time?
Michael: That's a beautiful question and its cause for deep, deep reflection. I think I would say that it's absolutely true what you say that, if we allow ourselves to move into the consciousness that the wound may enable us to move into, we are less likely to be wounded in the same way again, and I agree with that. I think the place where I would go beyond that personally, I haven't reached a point where the wounding process ends.
What happens for me is that life keeps presenting me with things that hurt. Let me quote Patanjali, "The acceptance of our suffering as an aid to spiritual growth, the study of great wisdom teachings, and complete surrender to the divine force within each of us, these three things are yoga in practice.
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So the wounding continues. Yes it's very hard to watch children and know that they too will need to be wounded. I think that skill is helping ourselves and others recognize the purpose of our suffering, and to be skillful to avoid it as much as possible but recognize that it will continue, and it will continue as part of our growth. There will be people who have reached a point beyond suffering, but for me, I haven't gotten there. Kozo: Dr. Lerner, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and your experience. I'm glad you brought up the archetypes.
For me one of the major archetypes is the hero's journey, of Joseph Campbell. I think about what King Arthur told his knights in search of the Holy Grail. He said, "Go into where the forest is darkest. I know you left a tenure track at Yale, you had a heart attack, and if you did go into where the forest is darkest, what gave you the courage and persistence to stay the course?
Michael: Well, thank you, Kozo, for that. And first, please think of me as "Michael.