“I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.
All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Wave of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.”
~ John O’Donohue ~
“A Morning Offering” – Benedictus (To Bless The Space Between Us.
In this inspiring poem, John O’Donohue has so eloquently expressed the silent prayer of our heart, our inner longing to be increasingly free from the ghosts of yesteryears as we continue to welcome the wonder of this day with all its brightness and beauty.
“When we begin to breathe mindfully and listen to our bodies, we become aware of feelings of suffering that we’ve been ignoring. We hold these feelings in our bodies as well as our minds. Our suffering has been trying to communicate with us, to let us know it is there, but we have spent a lot of time and energy ignoring it.
When we begin to breathe mindfully, feelings of loneliness, sadness, fear, and anxiety may come up. When that happens, we don’t need to do anything right away. We can just continue to follow our in-breath and our out-breath. We don’t tell our fear to go away; we recognise it. We don’t tell our anger to go away, we acknowledge it. These feelings are like a small child tugging at our sleeves. Pick them up and hold them tenderly. Acknowledging our feelings without judging them or pushing them away, embracing them with mindfulness, is an act of homecoming.
Our suffering reflects the suffering of the world. Discrimination, exploitation, poverty, and fear cause a lot of suffering in those around us. Our suffering also reflects the suffering of others. We may be motivated by the desire to do something to help relieve the suffering in the world. How can we do that without understanding the nature of suffering? If we understand our own suffering, it will become much easier for us to understand the suffering of others and of the world. We may have the intention to do something or be someone that can help the world suffer less, but unless we can listen to and acknowledge our own suffering, we will not really be able to help.
The amount of suffering inside us and around us can be overwhelming. Usually we don’t like to be in touch with it because we believe it’s unpleasant. The marketplace provides us with everything imaginable to help us run away from ourselves. We consume all these products in order to ignore and cover up the suffering in us. Even if we’re not hungry, we eat. When we watch television, even if the program isn’t very good, we don’t have the courage to turn it off, because we know that when we turn it off we may have to go back to ourselves and get in touch with the suffering inside. We consume not because we need to consume but because we’re afraid of encountering the suffering inside us.
But there is a way of getting in touch with the suffering without being overwhelmed by it. We try to avoid suffering, but suffering is useful. We need suffering. Going back to listen and understand our suffering brings about the birth of compassion and love. If we take the time to listen deeply to our own suffering, we will be able to understand it. Any suffering that has not been released and reconciled will continue. Until it has been understood and transformed, we carry with us not just our own suffering but also that of our parents and our ancestors. Getting in touch with suffering that has been passed down to us helps us understand our own suffering. Understanding suffering gives rise to compassion. Love is born, and right away we suffer less. If we understand the nature and the roots of our suffering, the path leading to the cessation of the suffering will appear in front of us. Knowing there is a way out, a path, brings us relief, and we no longer need to be afraid.
Understanding suffering always brings compassion. If we don’t understand suffering, we don’t understand happiness. If we know how to take good care of suffering, we will know how to take good care of happiness. We need suffering to grow happiness. The fact is that suffering and happiness always go together. When we understand suffering, we will understand happiness. If we know how to handle suffering, we will know how to handle happiness and produce happiness.
If a lotus is to grow, it needs to be rooted in the mud. Compassion is born from understanding suffering. We all should learn to embrace our own suffering, to listen to it deeply, and to have a deep look into its nature. In doing so, we allow the energy of love and compassion to be born. When the energy of compassion is born, right away we suffer less. When we suffer less, when we have compassion for ourselves, we can more easily understand the suffering of another person and of the world. Then our communication with others will be based on the desire to understand rather than the desire to prove ourselves right or make ourselves feel better. We will have only the intention to help.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Art of Communicating”
“I spoke about our relationships as flowers that need watering with love and communication to grow… we all need a friend to remind us…. Nourishing and healing communication is the food of our relationships…. We may not even know what we said or did that started to poison the relationship. But we have the antidote: mindful compassion and loving communication. Love, respect, and friendship all need food to survive. With mindfulness we can produce thoughts, speech, and actions that will feed our relationships and help them grow and thrive.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Art of Communicating”
We are all multidimensional in the sense that most of us, if not all, are ambiverts – we are neither fully introverts nor fully extroverts, as we are usually somewhere in between the two polarities, and we may lean towards one end in some situations and towards the other end in some other situations. I think it is also true that the personality type profiles are limited because even though they may represent or match some or most of our individual traits, they may not be able to fully describe our uniqueness or represent the multidimensional aspects of ourselves. At best, the personality type profiles may help us understand ourselves in terms of why we may respond to situations differently from others in social situations, and at worst, the personality type profiles may unwittingly result in stereotyping or over-generalisation of people.
There have been situations in life in which I find myself opening up and interacting with people in social settings, and I usually tend to do that when I am comfortable with them, and sometimes it can also be easier to talk and get to know new people because in such social settings, everyone is eager to be friendly. I was googling about “infp introspective conversation” earlier on since I find myself leaning towards this particular personality type, and I found this article which I kind of resonate with on some ways INFPs can improve their social interaction skills. Like what the article says, INFPs sometimes over-scrutinise themselves and avoid small talk, and the writer suggests that sometimes small talk can be helpful when it comes to meeting new people because it can help them feel more at ease, and I agree with that in this aspect.
On the other hand I quite agree with this article that when it comes to determining between traits such as sensing and intuiting, “most people don’t fall at the extremes – they fall in the middle”. I also agree that people’s personality traits tend to change over time, so their MBTI types may change over time as well. I would add that people may respond differently to a similar situation they responded one year ago or five years ago. For example, when checking out a MBTI test earlier, I came across statements such as “You feel at ease in a crowd”, and for such questions, my answer may be “yes” in some situations, or “no” in other situations, as it depends on several factors such as the kind of crowd I am in, my general mood and disposition during that time, and so on. I agree with the conclusion in the article that “finding out my personal strengths and weaknesses is a process that can take a lifetime, and is most likely not going to be reflected in any one set of numbers from a personality test”, and such tests may only serve as a useful tool or guide so long as I am aware of their limitations.
“I am large, I contain multitudes.”
- Walt Whitman
I have checked out the video and I resonate with Drew Sumrall’s message on what it means to be a militant of truth, and I learnt that Paul was a militant of the universality of truth by maintaining a steadfast fidelity to the event of the cross, or the death and resurrection of Christ, through faith, hope and love, which are the three things that remain. I noted that love is the work of maintaining fidelity to the event in the here and now, and love is over and above all other things such as spirituality, faith, charity and hope, which, while having their place, are worthless without love, for “the greatest of these is love”.
According to Drew, the mystery of love is our incompleteness reaching out to love the other, for love is about the other, hence the work of the militant of truth is to love the other. He added that love is what faith is capable of, which means faith is only the beginning of the work of love. He also said that they hanged Jesus on the tree not because he preached hate or he preached love but because he lived love, and his death was the consequence of his love. Love is the narrow road and the small gate, which paradoxically leads to life.
I noted that true love doesn’t foster acceptance as it foments rejection, and just by loving another, who is the other, we will risk a great deal, and as Drew said, to have everything without love is nothing, for the greatest of these things that remain is love. This is a timeless message to me that is worth remembering and meditating upon.
Recently, I was reading up on Freud and Lacan psychoanalysis, and I learnt from this article that Lacan has built on the foundation of Freud’s works and developed his theories on the real, imaginary and symbolic.
According to the above-mentioned article, the real is always necessarily outside experience, and denotes what we might imagine as the blissful state of pure being, whereas experience is only possible in the symblic. To me, this implies there is something deeper beyond the surface of life on earth. After all, there has to be more to life than just the physical activities such as being born, eating, walking, and so on. As the article noted, “we start off as no more than mindless animalistic subjects awaiting access to the world of meaning”. Perhaps this is where literature and psychoanalysis come into the picture, to serve as tools for us human beings to uncover deeper meanings beyond the surface of life itself.
The article also says “The human imaginary begins with the mirror stage. What this means is that a child identifies with another (an image of itself in the mirror or some other similar figure like a child of the same age). The ego is made up of successive layers of such identifications but is fundamentally nothing in itself.” This reminds me of the similar theory of Girard’s theory of mimetic desire, which can be positive or negative, depending on whether it develops into mimetic love or mimetic rivalry. Maybe the gospels in the bible is meant to be a mirror in which people see themselves and understand their true nature of love, when seen through the mirror of Christ, and vice versa.
I think it is especially helpful to see the bible through a psychoanalytic perspective because it helps me to see Jesus as a physician/psychoanalyst who came to help humanity embrace their own brokenness and pains. I was reflecting that perhaps like Jesus himself, I am also battered, brusied and wounded by the societal system of the world. His life and teachings encourage me to tune out from the distractions and delusions of the world system, and tune in to the frequency and sensitivity of the spirit within, to recognise that life is suffering since we experience pain and sorrow when we encounter loss, death, harsh words, callous treatment from the inhumane system. I learnt from this article that the attitude adopted by the power structure is called “triumphalism”.
“Triumphalism is the attitude or belief that a particular doctrine, religion, culture, or social system is superior to and should triumph over all others. Triumphalism is not an articulated doctrine but rather a term that is used to characterize certain attitudes or belief systems by parties…”
Such societal attitudes in power structures (principalities and powers) often hurt us and inflict emotional wounds, and hence psychoanalysis can help us heal from our wounds, when we identify the sources of our hurts, and acknowledge and embrace our wounds. We can also take comfort in knowing we are not alone in our sufferings as Jesus has gone through similar sufferings before too – this is something I would remind myself as a consolation.