Monday 1 May 2017

Short Observations

  1. Short idea (203): Psychology has set up its store at the intersection of Reality and Imagination, at the corner of the Literal and the Metaphorical — there in that fire pit, in that cauldron.

  2. Short idea (35): Elephants are so big many people have trouble imagining they are emotionally vulnerable and sensitive and can feel fear, let alone dread and terror and agony.

  3. Short idea (93): To explore the idea of experience, it is useful, for a few minutes, to pretend that the following idea is true, even if it is false: Every experience you have is part of your body. Every sound you hear is part of your body. If you are driving a car and look out and see green grass and green and brown trees — and whatever you are currently looking at — this is all part of your body. Under this view, your body has different layers, to use an imperfect word. There is the visual layer, the sound layer, the skin layer, the muscle layer, the inner organ layers, the heart layer, the lung layer, and so on. Each embodies it's own unique type of experience. The central part of this idea is that there is a layer of sights and and a layer of sounds that are each part of your body but are experienced as outside of it — as outside the skin and what is inside the skin.

  4. Short idea (139): I am sympathetic with those who speak of an inner and an outer world, but this way of speaking leads to needless complications. I think it is less confusing to say there are two ways to experience the world: inner and outer. — There is an inner way of experiencing something and an outer way.

  5. Short idea (30): For whatever it's worth: I've come to believe that either there are two realities or one reality with two "faces." I prefer the second. If true, then one face appears in our dreams, and the other appears when we wake up.

  6. Short Idea (24): There is the god of the Jews, the god of the Arabs, the god of the Christians (the son of the Jewish god), the gods of the Babylonians, and the like. Each people has its god. Is there a god that is the god of all peoples?

  7. Short idea (181): Whatever else is true about Empathy, it requires at least two psychological functions, feeling and imagination (and not just feeling). You have to be able to imagine what it is like to be going through what another is going through, and then you have to be able to respond with the same feeling you would have responded if you were going through it.

  8. Short idea (161): Memory is a skill.

  9. Short idea (142): It is helpful for psychologists to think of some families as cults. The leader (often the father) is experienced as God and his wishes are experienced as divine law. Conflicts can develop when family cult law conflicts with civil law. In such cases, families are mini-religions.

  10. Short idea (187): In my experience everyone is bad. In my experience everyone is good. In my experience, when focusing on the bad of a person, the person is experienced as all bad and when focusing on the good of a person, the person is experienced as all good. In my experience, when focusing on the reality of a person, the whole person, the good and bad of a person recede into the background as natural properties inherent in everyone.

  11. Short idea (116): From a psychological point of view there are thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of religions besides the five or six major religions. If religion can be compared to vessels on an ocean, the major religions are like giant ocean liners — like the Queen Mary or the aircraft carriers. The smaller religions are like lifeboats or submarines or tugboats or schooners or houseboats or barges or ferries or fishing boats or rowboats. Some religions are one man (or one woman) boats, big enough for one person only. Of these one man boats, some people make their own which is not easy. Psychologists often see patients who are struggling to make such a one man kayak or canoe. I suppose the ideal is to set out and swim free, without any boat, but that feels almost — almost — unfathomable, inconceivable; at least it is sink or swim.

  12. Short idea (150): Following his quadruple bypass heart surgery, former president, Bill Clinton, was interviewed by Diane Sawyer on October 28, 2004 for her program, Primetime Live. President Clinton spoke about his changed values with respect to the political "game," and he added, "I thought, you know, you've been given an unknown but substantial amount of extra time. And you should give it back. So, that's what I'm going to try to do.” On the one hand, it is nice that he has had some sort of conversion to wanting to devote his life to helping people. On the other hand, it would be nice to think of all presidents, including him, as being devoted to this during their presidencies.

  13. Short idea (137): A tentative psychological idea: There are two kinds of people: those who are too anxious and those who aren't anxious enough. A person is either one or the other. If a person could choose his or her type with respect to how they worry, they would have to choose between being a worry wart or a naive babe in the woods. It must be added that people often don't worry about the things they should be worrying about.

  14. Short idea (145): One image of love that comes down to us from ancient times is of a cute little chubby infant, Cupid, shooting one of his tiny arrows into someone's heart. This image appears In paintings and on greeting cards and in T.V. advertisements selling gifts for happy lovers. But the image of Cupid shooting an arrow into an heart must have had different meaning for the ancients. We don't use bows and arrows for hunting or warfare, but they did. To be shot in the heart with an arrow would not have been thought by them to be a wonderful, happy experience.

  15. Short idea (129): For every single problem, there is always a solution, and there is always at least one good and right way to solve it and one wrong and bad way.

  16. Short idea (26): The Israelites thought it was a miracle when the Red Sea closed over the Egyptian army. But, when the Egyptians back home heard the story, they would not have thought it was a miracle. The escape of the hare is a miracle to the hare but a curse to the fox and his family. Current day Israelis and Egyptians hear the story with different ears.

  17. Short idea (149): Over the last few years I have spent a lot of time thinking about the psychology of Anxiety. If I had to sum up my thoughts at this point in time about what is Anxiety I would say: Anxiety = Future. 

  18. Short idea (155): In every good marriage, at some point, the wife gives her husband an ultimatum. It can come in different forms, but, however presented, in tears or in anger, deep down, it is an ultimatum. If this ultimatum comes from the wife having reached her limits and not from a power complex, and if it is based on just and valid premises, and if the husband sees this and thinks he has been wrong and changes, either in actions or intentions or both, then the marriage can grow into a good one. Otherwise, not. Until then it is a baby marriage, naive and untested. 

  19. Short idea (162): To our Sense of Time, a moment can seem a lifetime, and a lifetime can seem a moment.

  20. Short idea (80): Smoking and being a jerk are similar in many ways. They are both addictions that are hard to kick. Still, each can be given up by a simple choice even if this is only after years of denying there is a problem in the face of everyone else saying there is. The choice often comes after some "revelation" that the behavior is not good for oneself or for loved ones. And, like all addictions, there is a period of withdrawal and maybe of back falling and of longing to return to the old, easier way. — Being a jerk, I think, is rooted deeper in the personality and requires more than a change in behavior to understand and uproot completely.

  21. Short idea (151): Last week there was a video on the Internet from Australia that was receiving a lot of hits. It was of a life and death struggle between a pond python and a crocodile. The fight lasted over four hours. The python won and wound up eating the crocodile. I think that unless a person knows what it must have felt to have been the croc and what it must have felt like to be the python, he or she is lacking a significant chunk of self-knowledge.

  22. Short idea (183): People say "Relax!" but this assumes that it is in our power to relax. A Jewish prayer says, "Grant us Peace, Thy Most Precious Gift, Oh Thou Eternal Source of Peace" (Union Prayer Book II). If we think of the word "peace" as being an ancient word for what we now call "relaxation," the prayer implies that we can not relax, that we can not choose to relax, that we can not do something to make ourselves relax. It is not up to us. At this point in my life, I would say I agree, though with some reservation. 

  23. Short idea (27): Some psychologists such as James and Jung have distinguished between Active Thinking and Passive Thinking. Active Thinking is work, because it requires an expenditure of energy over time. And, like any work, it can exhaust.

  24. Short idea (92): "God is in the Heavens." If you are thinking about God, and you are thinking of Him in the Heavens, you are doing this in one of two ways: 1) you are outside under the sky, actually looking up into the sky, and picturing Him up in the sky. Or, 2) you are inside, picturing Him, picturing the sky, and picturing Him in this pictured sky. For 1) you have to be outside, with eyes open, looking up at the sky. For 2), you can be inside, sitting in an easy chair, eyes closed, imagining the sky with God in it. There is such a big difference between 1) and 2) that I think people who think about God in the heavens in the second way may not be able to picture Him in the heavens the first way.

  25. Short idea (8): Everybody has to be inside sometimes and outside sometimes. There is a door that separates the inside from the outside. Some walk easily, back and forth, through the door. Others have to be dragged in and/or out, screaming. And, for others, the door is jammed, and, to get them in and out, a wall has to be broken down.

  26. Short idea (108): There are people who object to religion with their intellects; the ideas of religion don't seem rational to them; they strike them as superstitions. But there are other parts of a person's psyche that can have a negative reaction to religion. A person's emotions and feelings may be jarred by one or more religious practices, or a religious practice can jar a person's value system. Even a person's imagination can rebel against religion: it is possible to have one's own images of how the world was created and so on. I think the body too can react negatively to some thing or things in a religion. If all these parts of a person object all together, the person is, for all practical purposes, no longer involved in the religion in any deep way. The person will have to turn elsewhere for answers to the deepest questions.

  27. Short idea (167): Speaking as a psychotherapist, I guess that some school shootings and work-place shootings are irrational, incorrect, misguided, illegitimate, and immoral attempts to gain power, respect, and dignity.

  28. Short idea (10): In every conversation there are things unstated and un-statable. In every thought process there is something unthinkable. There are things we aren't grasping, can't grasp, and never will be able to grasp — no matter how confident and optimistic we are feeling at any particular moment.

  29. Short idea (70): There are unknown events going on inside and outside our bodies that, at this very moment, are shaping our futures.

  30. Short idea (45): There is physical abuse, intellectual abuse, religious abuse, emotional abuse, and abuse where one person browbeats and tyrannizes another person with tastes or values. Physical abuse is probably the most painful. (I say probably.)

  31. Short idea (168): You can make two columns — one for all the things in life that are fun and one for all the things in life that are just work. For many people, as you get older and older, activities that were in the first column when you were younger have to be moved over to the second column. Towards the end of life, activities that were fun or so easy that they were barely noticed, like breathing or walking, can become labor and even labored.

  32. Short idea (135): It is correct to say that, at any moment, we have five senses (some say six or seven) that are functioning to get information about the environment in which we live. It is equally true that, at any moment, we have one overall sensibility or sensorium which we can, if we want, analyze into sights and sounds and tastes and feelings which we can label as inside us or outside.

  33. Short idea (66): An educated man I know thinks the idea of "ghosts" is a primitive superstition. Last year his mother died. Recently he dreamed his mother and another dead relative came to him inquiring if he had taken care of the paper work required for them to move to another state or country. He said he had. Even in the waking state after this dream in which he dutifully carried out an obligation to the dead, he didn't think twice about looking down on and ridiculing those he heard saying they saw a ghost or communicated with the dead. How do you explain this apparent contradiction?

  34. Short idea (115): Alfred North Whitehead said that all European philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato. Plato lived roughly 2,500 years ago and Freud lived roughly 100 years ago, but, to paraphrase Whitehead, I would say that all psychology, including all American psychology, has been a series of footnotes to Freud. — I say this even though I am not a Freudian.

  35. Short idea (60): Success can serve as an anesthetic for the suffering that comes from peering into the deeper levels of reality.

  36. Short idea (65): Even in a dream there is left and right, near and far, inside and outside, ordinary and awesome. When the dreamer wakes up, there is also a left and right, near and far, inside and outside, etc. It's difficult to describe the difference. This is partly because it's difficult to compare the two. And this is partly because it's difficult or impossible to be in both states at the same time.

  37. Short idea (107): I think psychology could (and should) be a meeting ground for all religions, a common ground. The deepest religious experiences are experiences, vague perceptions of the deepest levels of our psyches, and can, I think, be taken as psychological perceptions. Here are five explanatory points: 1) Religious dogma is not the same as living religious experience. 2) My view implies that no religion has exclusive access to reality; each is a different window into reality. 3) Religion should not feel in competition with science or with other religions; they are all searching for reality. 4) Religion is not "primitive superstition" but an attempt to express truths that are difficult to express in ordinary language. 5) Religion should be viewed as bringing to light new areas for scientific research; it should not feel pushed into standing against science in order to defend the objective territory it knows it has found and knows it has been exploring for millennia, often heroically.

  38. Short idea (68): It is very important to Adapt. But to what? Definitely to other people, to the forces of nature, and so on. But also to our feelings, our thoughts, our pains, and to figures that appear in dreams and fantasies. What stands in the way of Adaptation? One thing is the denial of the existence of an experience, or, after recognizing its existence, the denial of its importance or significance.

  39. Short idea (180): If there are deep truths and generalizations about the best ways to live, each person must find them him or herself.

  40. Short idea (91): There's a parallel between the passion of sex and and the passion of anger. I think almost every human being in the world would agree that there should be some limitation and restraint on the expression of sexual impulses and angry impulses (both for themselves and for others). It would be impossible for all humans to agree on just where the lines should be drawn, but pretend we all could agree. Pretend we all went to a big conference and could all agree that people, from now on, can express their sexual and angry impulses up to a certain boundary line but no further, that certain sexual and angry behaviors are totally unacceptable. Then, we might also agree that, as long as people do not step over the lines, everyone is free to express their sexual and angry impulses any way they see fit in accordance with their own individual styles. The points I am making are: 1) every human being has sexual and angry impulses; 2) every human being has to limit them; 3) every human being needs to express them in some way; 4) and people have just as much variation in their preferred ways of controlling and expressing their anger as they do in their preferred ways of controlling and expressing their loving feelings.

  41. Short idea (175): Anger is a way of holding things at arm's length, of isolating oneself from what you are angry at. We know the negative sides of this distancing for oneself and for others, but a positive function is that it seems to be a necessary step in thinking; it is pre-condition of observing and analyzing.

  42. Short idea (166): Do animals have religious experiences (that is, numinous experiences, experiences of the sacred)? Do they have a sense of sacred space, sacred objects, and so on? — This is another way of asking if there is a religious instinct.

  43. Short idea (61): The Jewish people, as a people, suffer from PTSD. This doesn't mean that every individual Jewish person has PTSD.

  44. Short idea (73): There's a difference between accepting, liking, and, maybe, loving yourself, which is a wonderful thing, and being in love with yourself and worshipping yourself which is, at best, immature.

  45. Short idea (197): Things we like and enjoy can be bad for us, including some people we like and enjoy.

  46. Short idea (32): I have developed a method for thinking about minor problems. I withdraw into myself, and wait for a clear and illuminating impression to come. Of all the clear and illuminating ideas I have had, I estimate about 15% have been useful to me or to others. “Clear and Illuminating” is not the same as “True and Useful.”

  47. Short idea (198): To argue that evil doesn't exist because all it is, is the absence of good (privatio bono) is parallel to arguing that death doesn't exist because all it is, is the absence of life.

  48. Short idea (88): "The Great Mystery" — To many, these words are exciting, inspiring, and meaningful. To others, the idea of a Great Mystery is dangerously irrational and superstitious and agitates and angers them. What does this disagreement signify? One possibility is that it is a simple, intellectual disagreement and that one side is right and the other wrong. Another possibility is that there is a Great Mystery for some but not for others. It also may be that, for most people, those not at the extreme ends of the continuum, there are occasions when they sense a Great Mystery, whereas, at other times, they think the idea is a childish, naive wish.

  49. Short idea (43): A good side of difficult experiences is how they peel off the surfaces of yourself. If you're a fan of self-knowledge, this is a plus. It creates a chance to catch a glimpse of things you don't and can't usually see. If the painful experiences are rooted deeply enough, they cast a new light on ordinary experience and behavior. This, in turn, can lead to the development of new adaptations.

  50. Short idea (84): If we make an analogy between the Imagination, Sensation, Need, and Thinking on the one hand and four rivers on the other, then there is a place where the rivers merge with each other and eventually form an ocean. Or, we can start with the idea of an ocean and picture the Imagination, Sensation, Need, and Thinking as four rivers that separate and flow out of it. — Without the ocean and its rivers we would all be dead. On the other hand, people often get swept away and drown in one of them. It's naive to forget the dangers of the rivers and the ocean and equally naive (and even fanatically suicidal) to try to get rid of them.

  51. Short idea (63): We make decisions all day long, but only a few are made consciously. Decisions pile up. Over the years we have piles and piles of them lying around. One day we turn around and look at them. It can be a shock, like looking in the mirror and seeing that your hair has turned white. You've looked in the mirror every day but never quite saw yourself this way. However, in peering at the sum of what you've chosen, you aren't seeing how you now appear, but who you now are.

  52. Short idea (83): Without feeling disrespectful in any way, it is useful for a psychologist to think of the impulse to spiritual beliefs as an instinct. If it is, it is as deep rooted as the impulse to eat and the impulse to sex. Some ascetics have tried to cut their eating down to a bare minimum. Other ascetics have tried to eradicate all traces of their sexuality. Ascetics of a different kind try to eradicate all spiritual impulses in themselves. On the other extreme, some dissolute people brag they give into all impulses to eat or to engage in sex. Others, of a different type, are proud they believe in the reality of every visionary experience of every person who reports them ("If a person feels there's a ghost in their house, sure, there must be one"). — Extreme positions with respect to spiritual realities are similar to extreme positions with respect to the other instincts. They have their places in the history of the world and in the history of each individual's life, but, for most people, in the end, they are impossible or near impossible to sustain. It usually doesn't work to give into them all or to try to get rid of them all.

  53. Short idea (131): To a vast degree, the world is not what we think or imagine or perceive or expect or want it to be.

  54. Short idea (200): Perhaps the most seductive things in the world are words — including the words that come into your head. 

  55. Short idea (130): "2 plus 2 = 4" may express an eternal truth, but adding 2 plus 2 is a mental operation that takes place in particular people at particular places and times. Thinking is an activity that uses up time, and it always occurs in a particular place. Thinking can be done out-loud or to oneself, with others or alone, while awake or while dreaming. Like all other activities, we think for reasons, and these reasons can be more or less conscious. And we can think too much or too little, and in a useful way or in a way that causes trouble for ourselves and/or others.

  56. Short idea (5): Some have, as the whole goal of their lives, to come out of their shells and to enter the world and to venture out and to live and experience and achieve. Others have, as their goal, to retreat from the world, to dampen and tone down their experience, to withdraw from new experiences, to filter out much of the incoming stimuli, to protect themselves. The same person can have the opposite goal at different times, even at different times of the same day.

  57. Short idea (170): Asthma, emphysema, and COPD are physical problems, but there is also a psychological side which is experienced as dissatisfaction and desperation in the deepest, most central, most personal spot in the ego. 

  58. Short idea (190): Knowledge and Power: 
    The Intellect thinks: "Knowledge is power."
    The Imagination, when it experiences Self-Knowledge in itself or in others, thinks: "Super-Power!"
    When the Imagination experiences Consciousness, it thinks: "Magic" or "God-like" or even "All-Powerful" ("Omnipotent") and "All-Knowing" ("Omniscient").
    [This observations grew out my wife, Adelle Hersh's, thought that it is both a blessing and responsibility to have self-knowledge.]

  59. Short idea (153): There are many reasons to have censorship in movies. For example, it can be awful to see abuse and killing in films, and many would like a censor to keep these things out of what we and our children see. One reason not to censor is that films are an expression of the psyche and soul of a people. In this way they are like dreams, and like dreams, they probably have a balancing function. If you could censor dreams, the individual might become unbalanced. Also, films can be used to monitor what is going on in the collective psyche. This monitoring can give sensitive people a window into the future of a nation, into what is about to happen, and it gives some time to prepare. Censoring, whatever its value, takes away this mirror.

  60. Short idea (179): It is only when it feels that all is lost that the self can emerge.

  61. Short idea (136): The eyes and ears are extra-sensitive parts of the skin and sights and sounds can be thought of as feelings received through touch. At the same time, the less specialized areas of the skin can be thought of as relatively insensitive eyes and ears that receive sights and sounds through touch. — If this isn't true, it is a useful mental exercise in introspection.

  62. Short idea (79): Of all the reasons a man climbs mountains, two stand out. The first is to test his endurance, skill, and tenacity and to compare his achievements with those of others. The second is to gain new vistas, to leave the ordinary and enter a new and higher realm, and to achieve a lofty spiritual experience. It is possible to climb for both reasons, and even at the same time.

  63. Short idea (152): An introspective exercise I did made me think that thinking is a branch of the imagination and that reason is a branch of thinking. However, it is just as possible that thinking and fantasy are offspring of the same parent (maybe the need to grasp the future). Or that they both come from the same root or need. Or that they are two forms of the same thing.

  64. Short idea (122): Computers have been compared to brains and spoken of as brains, but the brain has different parts. It seems to me that computers can be correctly compared with the higher cortical brain, the part considered to be responsible for logical thinking, the type of thinking used to solve complex mathematical problems. But computers do not have lower brains, the part of the brain connected with need and want and drive and emotion and passion. Because of this, computers can't be irrational; they can generate random series of numbers, and they can make mistakes, but this is different from being irrational. To be irrational you have to have interests, and you have to have passions that make you act irrationally by going against your interests. Computers don't have interests, so they can't act irrationally. If a computer could be given a lower brain, such a computer would be much more human.

  65. Short idea (14): You are driving on a winding, icy mountain road in a blizzard. You are struggling to see enough to stay on the road and in your lane. There are five cars behind you. They have it easier than you; They can keep their distance and follow the tail lights of the car in front of them. Some in the cars behind are impatient. — Moral: if someone seems slow, it may be because they are weak or infirm or old or meandering, but it also may be that they are making an all out attempt to find their way on treacherous ground we will all be entering.

  66. Short idea (57): "Seek the truth," they say, but is that enough? Mustn't we then catch a glimpse of it, and then aim towards it and try to grasp it, and then learn to hold on to it and then to handle it and to clarify it and refine it and absorb it and digest it, and also to carve it into something beautiful and useful to ourselves and others?

  67. Short idea (7): Feelings do not come labeled. Often we don't know what we are feeling and have to wait to find out. Other people may see and tell us. Or we may notice the effect of what we just said on someone and realize we must have been angry. Or we may get a call from a doctor we saw last week and realize all the feelings we have had in our body was nervousness. Or we may never find out. We may feel the feeling but not know what it is. And soon we may forget we are feeling anything. People can go their whole lives feeling tense, never relaxing, and never knowing it.

  68. Short idea (76): To give in to impulses or to resist them? Everything depends on learning which to give into and when.

  69. Short idea (49):
    1) Psychological Suffering = Suffering.

    2) Psychological Suffering + Unconsciousness = Suffering x 2 (or possibly x 3).
    3) Psychological Suffering + Consciousness + Time + Quiet + X + ? = Peace + Calmness.

  70. Short idea (67): Some people believe there is a Secret to Life that will enable them to handle any problem if they can find it and learn it. Some who believe there is such a Secret think they can learn it in school; others think they can learn it from a wise person; and others think they can find it in themselves, but they all believe that such a Secret exists somewhere and that they can find it. Others think the belief in such a Secret to Life is just a wish and a fantasy.

  71. Short idea (28): Regarding the psychology of Place: the most important thing is Where you are and Where you're not. Here versus There.

  72. Short idea (95): Every experience has a "tail," which is to say that a piece of every experience lingers on after the experience is over. For example, the experience of being in a severe thunder storm lingers after the storm is gone. The alertness, the feelings of fear and/or awe, etc. Tails can last a few seconds, a few minutes, a few hours, days, weeks, months, years, and even for a whole life-time. As you get older you accumulate more and more of these permanent tails, and all new experiences you have are filtered through them. The thicker the web of old tails, the less of each new experience will get through, and, gradually, new experiences will all come to feel pretty much the same, have the same flavor, as it were. Experience will become stale.

  73. Short idea (169): Regarding which mattress is the most comfortable: When you are tense and troubled, no mattress feels comfortable.

  74. Short idea (143): Anger is like a storm: You can't prevent or stop or control it, but you can do your best to weather it and keep down the damage.

  75. Short idea (191): There are certain moments when we can become aware of the intimate connection between the Mind and the Body and the World around us. One is when we take an in breath. Another is when we feel our heart beat. Another is when we have a sexual response. Another is when we get furious. And another is when we feel an intense pain. Another is when we see or hear. And so on.

  76. Short idea (82): Certainly it can be cowardly to run away from someone you are afraid of. The psychologist recognizes that it can be just as cowardly to run away from someone in a dream you are afraid of.

  77. Short idea (98): In colleges in the U.S. we are trained to see Imagination and the Intellect as inherently at war. I think it is more useful, and probably more accurate, to focus on the possibility of them cooperating and on what they have in common. After all, they are part of the same organism and probably developed with the same goal, that is, the adaptation of the organism. I think they have a common source, and images are part of thinking. The two are like two gangling beasts who are married and who are constantly stumbling over each other and who often get into conflicts but who, deep down, still love each other, or, at least, should learn to get along.

  78. Short idea (202): It is not necessary to have a philosophy of fear, anxiety, depression, and terror, but it is necessary to have a philosophy of the place of fear, anxiety, depression, and terror.

  79. Short idea (20): The same door can look different from inside and from outside depending, in part, on our moods. However it looks at any given moment, it is important that it be well balanced, with oiled hinges, and with a strong lock.

  80. Short idea (13): There is a difference between the mind, the psyche, and the self. Mind has to do with thinking and imagination. Psyche includes the mind. And the self includes the psyche.

  81. Short idea (101) : Psychologically speaking, sometimes the only way out is in. At other times, the only way to penetrate deep inside oneself is to go outside and get lost in the world.

  82. Short idea (3): "Everybody is a moon, with a dark side never to be seen by others." — Mark Twain. This was true when Mark Twain was alive, but now psychology gives us ways of seeing the dark sides of ourselves and others — if and when we want to.

  83. Short idea (147): It is easy to have bad motives and to try to cover them over with warm smiles and expressions of care and concern and with promises to always be helpful. So it is possible to be doing very bad things and to appear like an angel. We all fall for this. It is also possible to be doing very good things and not to care at all about how you look. You can be so involved in doing this good thing that you forget about others around you, and they can think you are selfish and self-centered and short-tempered and bad. We all make the mistake, at times, of thinking people are being bad when they are really being very good.

  84. Short idea (120): If you think brain activities underlie all our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, and so on, here is a paradox: I can influence your brain (say through my words to you), and you can influence mine, but it seems impossible for me to influence my own brain or for you to influence yours. Why? Because if you think you are doing something to influence your own brain (maybe telling yourself happy words to make your brain have a different chemistry), it is your brain making you want to do the thing in the first place, it is your brain that lies behind your actually doing it, and it is your brain that causes you to be aware you are doing it. Similarly, if a man is strong enough and big enough, maybe he could lift any human being on earth, but he could never lift himself.

  85. Short idea (16): Everything you experience is real, but not everything is real in the same way:  Some things are useful and substantial and important to you; others are dangerous; others are pale reflections, elusive and amorphous and hard to describe and maybe fleeting and unrepeatable and useless; others mislead you like a delusion that comes into the head while lying in bed on a long Winter's night.

  86. Short idea (29): When a person withdraws from the world as much as she or he can, what's left is Psychology, that is, the psyche.

  87. Short idea (112): It is an interesting psychological hypothesis (not a theological hypothesis) that the search for God involves the search for the self (finding God involves finding oneself). It would go the other way too: The search for the self would be, deep down, also a search for what people call, "God." This doesn't mean, necessarily that God = Self, just that the search for one might turn out to involve (or even be) the search for the other.

  88. Short idea (21): Everything passes including the awareness that everything passes.

  89. Short idea (72): For many people, one of the most difficult things, psychologically, is to accept the feeling of uncertainty.

  90. Short idea (25): There are two types of people. One type thinks they're really something. The other type thinks they aren't anything much. People who think they're something are surprised when they realize they will die. Those who think they're nothing special may be surprised when they realize they're alive.

  91. Short idea (172): Linear (or active) Thinking is a chain or line of thought in which we use thoughts to solve a problem. Associative (or passive) Thinking is a line or chain or thoughts linked together by previous associations. Both Linear and Associative are step by step processes with each link in the chain, each point on the line, connected to the previous one by an understandable connection. There is another type of thought that we might call Archetypal in which an idea "pops into ones head," and it seems completely unconnected with any previous thought. It "came out of no where," as it were, "out of the blue." If, on examining a new archetypal thought, it does seem connected with ones previous thoughts at all, it seems more as if it is an observation or commentary or insight about the line of thought that came before. It may seem as if it came from outside oneself, almost as if it was the point of view of another, often more intelligent and wiser, person.

  92. Short idea (50): If you think nobody in the world cares about you, you have to be willing to look closely at the possibility that you don't care about anybody in the world. There is also the possibility that you are absorbed in a waking nightmare (in which nobody cares about you) and that you're not aware it's just a nightmare.

  93. Short idea (160): What we believe is different from what we think we believe.

  94. Short idea (138): Feelings can be thought of as like watercolor paints: They can stand alone, individually, or blend together. There are an infinite number of possible blends. You can have a specific feeling, and then a new one can come and mix with it, wholly or in part. Or the new one can become superimposed on the first in a transparent or opaque way. Or, like two side-by-side colors, if you have two "side-by-side" feelings, one can stand out and be brighter or more intense than the other and the other can be shadowy and vague and in the background. And so on.

  95. Short idea (193): If you believe that there is a religious instinct, then atheism will be viewed as a form of neurosis. It can be seen as a form of hysteria (possibly conversion hysteria) in which one whole chunk of reality is denied.

  96. Short idea (148): We all have good tendencies, and we all have bad tendencies. We all have saintly tendencies, and we all have evil tendencies. We all even have godly tendencies, and we all even have demonic tendencies. A tendency we have that isn't always good and can be evil or even demonic is to think we are being good or saintly or even godly when we are being bad or evil or even demonic.

  97. Short idea (46): An abusive episode is like a tornado. Once it passes there is a calm just like on any other day. The only sign of what happened is what is left behind. — The weather is normal 99.9% of the time. Then along comes a tornado and kills a lot of people.

  98. Short idea (103): A house can make sounds like those of a living creature. Some people, especially at night mistake these sounds for the sounds of living creatures entering their houses.

  99. Short idea (171): Derived from my own introspection and understanding of Freud's and Jung's dream theories: If you are heavily caught up in the external world and intent on succeeding and feeling you have a good chance of succeeding, then Freud's theory applies. If you are withdrawn from the world or are pursuing private and personal goals, then Jung's applies. For Freud, dreams reminded you of your inner goals that were overshadowed by you concentration on externals. For Jung, archetypal dreams drew you into deeper and deeper places in yourself and in the world as it appears to you when you feel alone. 

  100. Short idea (125): There is obviously a world of difference between having $20 as all the money you have in the world and having $200 million in your banks. A person with $20 is very very different from someone with $200 million. There is at least one way, however, they are identical: They both have to count and watch and hold and spend wisely and spend well if they want to be responsible and good. The $20-aire has to count and watch and hold on to his or her pennies and spend them wisely and well; the $200 millionaire has to count and watch and spend wisely and well and hold on to his or her 10's of thousands, but both have to count and watch and spend wisely and well.

  101. Short idea (15): An experience of the whole, no matter how important and healing and tremendous it may feel, is, itself, only a minuscule and transitory piece of the whole.

  102. Short idea (105): In some ways, Heisenberg's ideas can be applied to consciousness: when we try to "observe" our own conscious experiences, the act of trying to observe them changes them or even destroys them. The reason this happens is different from why, according to Heisenberg, our attempts to observe sub-atomic particles change them. Speaking metaphorically, we are embedded in our conscious experiences, absorbed in them. In order to inspect them, we have to pull out of them, and this pulling out, this distancing ourselves from them, is part of what changes or destroys them.

  103. Short idea (127): Freud and Jung disputed over whether dream images were signs (of something else) or symbols. I wonder if it isn't possible that dream images and, actually, each and every thing, is both a sign and a symbol at the exact same time. Every thing is a sign of other things; every thing is also a symbol. Every thing
    1) is
    2) is linked to other things
    and 3) points beyond itself to things in the future and to things in the past.

  104. Short idea (55): Learning and Knowledge are not always good. It depends on what people learn and what they do with the knowledge.

  105. Short idea (123): The ongoing argument between Creationists and Evolutionists assumes either we are descendants from the apes or we have not evolved from apes. There is a third possibility: that we are apes.

  106. Short idea (100): People change all the time, like it or not. But there is much argument about whether or not "people can really change," change their personalities. Does psychotherapy lead to real and deep and profound changes or only some more or less temporary and more or less superficial changes of behavior? Psychological observation shows there is such a thing as a complete transformation of the personality. This is not the same thing as willing yourself to change your behavior or deciding not to focus on yourself so much or anything on this level. And it is not the belief that you have changed or a dream or fantasy that you are a new person. It involves a complete and total metamorphosis of the way we think, the way we feel about things, the content of our fantasy life, and a re-valuing of all our values (to use Nietzsche's term). It takes time. Some people say it feels as if they are being reborn.

  107. Short idea (85): To the young, old age and death seem as unreal as a dream. To the old and dying, youth and life feel no different than last night's dreams.

  108. Short idea (146): Every century is unique. Every decade is unique. Every year is unique. Every day is unique. Every moment is unique. Every thing is unique. Every event is unique. For example, every breath is unique. It is also true that we often feel that everything is the same, tedious, and boring and that nothing ever changes.

  109. Short idea (134): Just as there are people who are stronger than me and people who are smarter than me and people who have more money than I do, there are also people who are morally better than me. And the same goes for you.

  110. Short idea (81): I was raised in an environment where it was considered a problem if a child preferred being alone. It was understood as a fear of others, and the child was encouraged to overcome the shyness and "be more social" and "try to make friends." Preferring to be alone was seen as an escape from others, from the natural inclination to be with others. But it also happens that being with others can be an escape from being with ones own thoughts and feelings and the figures that appear in ones dreams and fantasies. Not everything frightening lies without. Not everything good lies without.

  111. Short idea (36): Devastating experiences make a person feel closer to those who have been through similar experiences and distant and separate from those who haven't. Losing a child separates a person from most other people; losing an old parent makes one feel part of the natural flow.

  112. Short idea (132): Every family struggles with psychological problems to some degree (just as every family struggles with physical or economic problems to some degree). It is a matter of degree.

  113. Short idea (195): There are beautiful ideas and there are true ideas. Occasionally we find a beautiful idea that turns out to be true. And, occasionally, we stumble across a true idea that we come to see is very beautiful.

  114. Short idea (87): If you cut off the head of a worm, the body goes on for a long time. It's pretty much the same with people. If you cut out our ability to think (maybe by some violent emotion), we can still eat and drink — and vote.

  115. Short idea (159): Almost everything that is happening has never been imagined by anyone.

  116. Short idea (104): People do the worst things when they think they're right. They can do even worse things when they know they're right.

  117. Short idea (75): In the following I use a flute as an example, but I could have used any thing: It is difficult to stay clear about the difference between the sound of a flute (gotten from hearing), the sight of a flute (gotten from vision), the feel of a flute (gotten from touch), the memory of the sound or sight of a flute, the image or sound of a flute in ones imagination, the idea or concept of a flute (from thinking), the desire to own a flute or see a flute or hear a flute, and a flute.

  118. Short idea (126): Here is a powerful idea I heard that I think is an exaggeration with some little truth in it, though you may have a different opinion: All suffering that remains unconscious becomes a physical illness. If the suffering is the private suffering of one individual, the individual will get a physical illness. If it is the suffering of a country, people all over the country will get sick. If the unconscious suffering is of all the people in the world, people all over the whole world will get sick. If the unconscious suffering is deep enough, painful enough, and unconscious enough, the resulting physical sickness is a fatal one.

  119. Short idea (194): Mania and Anxiety can be seen as forms of increased psychological Energy (Libido), that is, excitement. Each can be taken as the opposite of Relaxation.

  120. Short idea (62): The average person in the United State knows about as much about Arab countries as he or she knows about the planets Jupiter or Neptune. It is probably vice versa also.

  121. Short idea (23): Mattress ads claim that the reason a person sleeps badly is because of the mattress, and, if you use their mattresses, you will sleep perfectly. It is the springs or the stuffing or whatever. This is a good example of an attempt to explain a psychological state of unrest or discomfort by reference to a thing or event in the external world.

  122. Short idea (53): If a picture is worth a thousand words, then it is worth a million thoughts and feelings. If words are cheap, then ideas and feelings are worth next to nothing. If actions speak louder than words, then they drown out thoughts and feelings altogether.

  123. Short idea (64): I see the human Imagination as a step forward in evolution. It is a tool for learning new things, for acquiring new inspirations and intuitions, and for testing new behaviors without ever having to get out of bed. On the other hand, it is fragile and extremely fallible and must be handled very very carefully. It is too easy to fall into it, thinking it is reality.

  124. Short idea (124): Even old wise men can have delusions, even many delusions.

  125. Short idea (154): Good Action along with periods of Silence and Aloneness can be a shield, a refuge, and a hospital for a weary, lost, bloody soul.

  126. Short idea (184): For those interested in experience, there are at least two variables to consider. First is the variety of experience, and this is achieved by living fully. The second is the nature of any individual experience, and this is understood through introspection and meditation.

  127. Short idea (199): Many people are running towards something and also running away from something, and they feel they will die if they stop running. Sometimes they are right, sometimes wrong, and sometimes they will die if they keep running.

  128. Short idea (114): Frederich Nietzsche famously said, "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger." This is now the title of a popular country song in the United States. Hard to believe, but true. The irony is that the beautiful and inspiring idea that has come into the minds of so many people who are suffering was not true of Nietzsche himself; he got weaker and weaker over time. 

  129. Short idea (144): One type of injury, like a cramp, can be helped by exercising it and by not giving in to it. Another type, like certain sprains, require the opposite. These require immobilization and no movement and are dependent on time to heal. It may be that sometimes these never heal; the best you can hope for here is to learn to compensate, to learn what movements to avoid aggravating the injury. There are also these same two types of psychological wounds and the same two types of psychological healing.

  130. Short idea (17): An agitated, angry moment; an ecstatic, happy feeling; an itch in the right knee; a dream of a red fox walking in the snow; a thought of tomorrow's barbecue — all are made of the same "stuff." There is a common denominator.

  131. Short idea (109): Anything can become everything within a person's experience.

  132. Short idea (156): Many people would be just as sad if there were only one religion as if there were only one type of food or one type of tree or one type of person.

  133. Short idea (182): Relaxation is not a "Yes" or "No" thing; it's not that we are either relaxed or not. Relaxation and Tension are two poles of a continuum with an innumerable number of possible positions. There are  degrees of relaxation and degrees of tension.

  134. Short idea (90) : Dying is not death. It is an experience (or ongoing experiences) within life. It often involves a long series of "Goodbye's."

  135. Short idea (141): People in cities understand daytime (and light) and its subtleties more than nighttime (and darkness) and its subtleties.

  136. Short idea (201): We can injure ourselves while we are sleeping

  137. Short idea (51): There may be a difference between what you think you value, what you want to value, what you tell others you value, what values you act in accordance with even though they are not your own, and what you value. It may not be until you are an old man or woman and have seen yourself react in many different situations that you become conscious whether you value this more than that or that more than this, when it comes right down to it. Sometimes it is only in extreme and unusual situations that we see what is really and truly important to us. What you value is connected with how you choose to behave, not just with how you picture yourself.

  138. Short Idea (41): If Moses had decided never to come down from Mt. Sinai and to stay forever with the Lord, we might not have learned we shouldn't steal or kill or disrespect our parents.

  139. Short idea (11): An interesting thought a violent schizophrenic patient told me many years ago: "I like to think that everyone has the same amount of suffering they have to experience in their lives. For some it is spread out, and, for others, most of it comes all at once, but we all have the same amount of suffering."

  140. Short idea (37): The trouble in describing the deeper levels of the psyche objectively is that there is a tendency either 1) to water them down (because the experiences are so dramatic you don't want to sound crazy) or 2) to over-dramatize them (in a desperate attempt to express how surprising and remarkable they feel) or 3) to fall under their spell and become subject to their ways of viewing things and of speaking (which is to give up all attempts at objectivity).

  141. Short idea (94): Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, according to Lord Acton. In our day, with our microscopic focus on human motivation, we might look at it even more cynically. Human nature is already corrupt, but most humans don't have the power to act it out. Fear keeps most of us in check. Give us power, and we let go. Give us absolute power, and look out. — On the other hand, we know there are other, more positive forces working in us, and, in some of us, they hold sway no matter what.

  142. Short idea (89): Say there is a king who is a great man, and he has a servant. This doesn't mean that the servant is a great man (or even a great servant).

  143. Short idea (2): Take anything on the earth or in the heavens or in the seas: There is someone who could become interested in learning about it. Whether it is a rainbow or the rhyming system of certain poems or ancient Sumerian palaces or how to fix a toilet or the mating habits of Sumatran elephants or the cost of pine nuts from China or the composition of dust or how children learn to spell. So it is no wonder that there are some people who are interested in learning about themselves.

  144. Short idea (1): In psychology, as in war (and as in life in general) there are no experts. Some psychologists have a lot more experience than others. These are the wily veterans, more familiar with the up's and down's of "the battlefield" than the greenhorns — but they are not expert in the way people who use Microsoft Word or tie bow ties or dice vegetables or solve calculus problems can become expert.

  145. Short idea (128): I was informed of a dream of someone's patient after the election of Pope Francis I. The dream proposed a riddle: "What do Tiger Woods and Pope Francis I have in common?" And the answer was also given in the dream: "They both breathe the same air and eat fish from the same oceans." I thought this dream was worth reporting.

  146. Short idea (121): There is an intoxication from alcohol or drugs, but there is also intoxication from ideas or ideals, or from beauty or love or success or power, or even from danger or food or sex. Some intoxication contains inspirations leading to wonderful things; others contain dangerous, even deadly, seductive delusions. However, whatever the content or cause, intoxication, in itself, can be a dangerous state for the person intoxicated and for those around him or her. It can turn into mania which can lead to exhaustion, ranting and raving, and other dangerous behaviors. (Jung called the danger "inflation.") Since the need for intoxication seems to be one of our basic needs, it must be indulged in with circumspection and in the right time and place. I think, perhaps, it is natural to spend about one seventh of our time in some inspired state. I get this from the idea of the Sabbath: From a psychological angle, I see the law to set one day a week (and no more) aside to be with the Lord as recognizing the human need for intoxication and as setting some boundaries to limit it.

  147. Short idea (52): There is a difference between a decision you make inside your head while lying in bed and one your whole body makes after it gets up.

  148. Short idea (9): "Going along with others" versus "Getting along with others."

  149. Short idea (111) : There are four kinds of hurts. Hurts administered by an enemy, hurts administered by a friend, hurts administered by ourselves, and imaginary hurts. Each requires a different kind of response. 

  150. Short idea (33): Everybody is normal. Some people are also abnormal. – This is a paradoxical way to put it, but I can't think of a clearer way. Implications: Abnormal people will begin to seem normal if you get to know them, and normal people may turn out to be abnormal. – You can use the same formula for “ordinary” and “extra-ordinary”: Everybody is ordinary; Some are also extra-ordinary; etc.

  151. Short idea (106): Everyone has two sides to one degree or another. There is the normal, sane side and the wild, crazy side. People feel good when they manage to let out the wild, crazy side in a normal, sane way. They feel bad if they never are able to let it out or if it bursts out in a wild and crazy way.

  152. Short idea (110): There are two ideas of psychological strength: first, if someone is anxious and tense, and they turn away from their psychological pain and push on to meet their obligations, this is considered, by one camp, to be psychological strength. The other idea is that, if someone is anxious and tense, and they turn inward towards their pain and face it and explore it and come to terms with it, that is considered, by the other camp, to be psychologically brave and strong. Often a husband will have one idea and a wife the other. It is not difficult to think of the conflicts that can arise from this configuration.

  153. Short idea (174): A psychological metaphor: The Ego crystallizes from its substrate, the Self, and then dissolves back into it. It crystallizes again and then dissolves. It crystallizes again, and then dissolves .... But in one of these crystallizations it can solidify and harden. If this happens, it has to crack apart or be cracked apart to return to the Self until it crystallizes again. "Dissolving" is another word for "Relaxing," and "Solidifying" is another word for "Working."

  154. Short idea (97): An altar is a focal point for attention, and it is made to focus attention. A little girl dies and a mother makes a little altar at a spot in a room and places a cross on it, the child's favorite ribbon, and a picture. The altar focuses the mother's attention (and is made to focus her attention) on these things. The things help her remember, and to remember in a positive way, and so to counteract the grief and terror of the loss. Not only can the mother sit in front of the altar, but, wherever she is, she knows the altar is where she left it; and she knows the moves she must make to get back to it; and this, by itself, makes her feel a little better. Creating the altar is an unconscious process and can't be contrived. It happens as everything in nature happens.

  155. Short idea (99): The Imagination usually does not come clothed in the words "I am your Imagination at work here." Usually it comes with words like: "So and so is trying to hurt me!" or "What a wonderful thing this is!" or "He is a prince of a man!" or "She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen!"

  156. Short idea (189): We tend to believe "he was a good man": 1. If he was polite to us and 2. if he gave us things or helped us. If he was difficult with others it does not make as great and deep and lasting an impression on us as how he was with us.

  157. Short idea (185): Hypothesis: Believing in a life after death is as instinctual as eating or breathing. No matter how silly the idea seems to our thinking, no matter how irrational, no matter how vague or self-contradictory, deep down we it is still there. It's as impossible to hold off the opposite belief too long as it is to hold your breath too long. You can hold it at bay for a while with your rational mind, but, as soon as you relax, the belief in a life after death, for yourself and others, grabs hold again.

  158. Short idea (140): Usually people see myths as attempts to explain and understand processes in nature such as the cycle of day and night. Even if true sometimes, at other times they may be attempts to explain or describe and stay conscious of internal processes and cycles such as the cycle of emotions (from elation to depression). Inner and outer are both pieces of nature and the same processes and cycles are found in both. So an outer cycle can be used to bring attention to a parallel process that goes on inside.

  159. Short idea (96): The logic and geometry of experiences is different from the logic and geometry necessary to get through everyday life in public. Here is an experiment in introspection the reader can do to see what I mean: Focus on a sensation deep within your body. Now focus on one on the surface of your skin. Now focus on a visual sensation somewhere outside your body. Now focus on a far away sound, as far away as possible. Now try to focus on outer space, space past our Milky Way galaxy, the furthest part of space there is. Now ask yourself where this last experience took place. I think you will find that the experience of outer space, if you had it at all, was a combination of thoughts and images within your own head. So, typical of the laws of logic and geometry for experiences, outer space was outside your body, beyond sights you were seeing and sounds you were hearing, but, at the same time, it was inside your head. — If you want to explore your own experiences, you have to get used to this kind of twist.

  160. Short idea (48): Psychological pain is always an opportunity to learn about our illusions; about where our feelings are registered in our bodies; about our bloated or otherwise incorrect self-images; about our unreasonable and immature expectations; about our obsolete, un-honed, imprecise, conflicting, or superficial values.

  161. Short idea (38): For many, the things they are most proud of when they are doing them are the very same things they are most ashamed of when they reflect on them later.

  162. Short idea (58): The call to psychology (to know yourself) is: "Stop! ... Stop more! ... Stop everything! ... Stop completely! ... Stop now!" — When everything stops, one's self comes into view (like it or not).

  163. Short idea (188): It seems to me that there is a third option when confronted with an unpleasant situation besides Fight or Flight. There is also Assessment. Assessment includes Stopping, Waiting, Observation, Feeling, Thinking, and Imagining.

  164. Short idea (119): We all feel filled with Energy sometimes, bursting with Energy; at other times listless and sluggish and filled with inertia. This feeling of Energy has a psychological label: Libido (sometimes "Libido" is used to refer to all psychological energy, sometimes only to sexual energy). If we look at objects in the physical world we can often see what fills them with energy. For example, a moving object hits one that is still, and the second objects moves, filled with the energy transferred from the first object. It is not so easy to see what fills us with the feeling of Energy or takes away the feeling. If we do see what does, it is difficult to understand how this can happen. For example, how can bad news make us feel all the Energy draining from us? We may be able to picture how a virus could take the wind out of our sails, but how can hearing bad news do it?

  165. Short idea (44): I think everybody has been abused by someone or other, to some degree or other, in some way or other, at some time or other. I think everybody has abused someone or other, to some degree or other, in some way or other, at some time or other. Abuse is not everything and everywhere, but it is part of life.

  166. Short idea (178): The only way not to have expenses and expenditures is to be dead.

  167. Short idea (117): Whatever journey each one of us is on we can't slow it down, but we can't speed it up either.

  168. Short idea (173): Some mythic stories can be understood, among other things, as attempts to present psychological states of mind that are difficult (or even impossible) to describe or present in ordinary language. An example is an American Indian story that tells about a man who was picked up off the ground and blown far away from his home by a great wind. When he landed he became a great healer. The whole story is one big metaphor.

  169. Short idea (86): When good people become bad, they often become very very bad, and when bad people become good, they often become very very good.

  170. Short idea (39): We can find ourselves in unfamiliar territory such as in another state or a foreign country, but we can also find ourselves in an unfamiliar inner state of mind. There are unfamiliar thoughts and feelings and images and impulses and dreams.

  171. Short idea (40): If you want to examine worms or Sumerian clay tablets or other galaxies or the species of human beings in any one of its many aspects, there is a department in some college where you can go. But if you want to examine your own mind and study it, where is the college that has such a department?

  172. Short idea (133): If a person's goal is power, then winning feels good (even if he or she is seriously wounded in the process). However, if a person's goal is to be good, then winning will feel bad (as well as good), because it brings with it responsibilities (that is, responsibilities to the ones who have lost to you).

  173. Short idea (47): Some experiences are too painful to remember. This doesn't mean they're gone.

    The first snow covers the grass.

    Soon we forget the grass.

    But it's still there.

  174. Short idea (34): If you rely on people being unreliable, you won't get as angry as if you assume everybody is reliable. (But many people really are reliable much of the time.)

  175. Short idea (163): More important to me than coming up with a psychological diagnosis (from the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistic Manual, 5th Edition) is to answer the question whether or not the patient can get better and how.

  176. Short idea (118): Psychotherapists learn quickly that people who appear good are almost never as good as they appear, and people who appear bad are rarely ever as bad as they appear.

  177. Short idea (78): There are two psychological states, A (withdrawn) and B (involved). One's self = A + B. It is only while in A that a person can learn about A, about B, and, therefore, about A + B. While in B there is too much activity, and so no time to look at B. Yet to know about oneself it is not enough to know only A. A has to look out at B and examine it as well. — Further, no one can be in A and B at the same time. It is probably impossible to be good without knowing oneself, which requires A. It is impossible to be good while in A. A good person must act in B based on what is learned in A.

  178. Short idea (19): Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Emily Dickinson were opposites: De Saint-Exupéry never had a home; Dickinson never left hers.

  179. Short idea (42): "He knows his own mind!" — This can mean, "He knows his own tastes" (he differentiates his tastes from the group's taste); "He knows his own thoughts"; "He knows his own beliefs"; "He knows his own values"; "He knows his own view of further out things;" and so on.

  180. Short idea (6): The way humans are built we can not see the back of our heads directly, no matter what we do.  We can get around this, if we want, by setting up a few mirrors or by asking others to look and tell us what they see. We also can't see the "back sides" of our own personalities. If we want to get around this we can look at our dreams (which reflect the sides of ourselves we can't see) or ask people how we look to them.

  181. Short idea (74): If you watch an horror movie and get anxious, and even feel some fear, this is real anxiety and real fear, but it is caused by events in the movie. What percent of all the anxiety and fear a person feels in life is caused by events in inner "movies"?

  182. Short idea (186): Seeing is a power. Seeing "below the surface" is a great power.

  183. Short idea (54): Being decisive is not always good. With some people it's better if they never make up their minds. If you're getting ready to do something bad, we pray you will waiver.

  184. Short idea (31): Having a positive First Impression of something is different from judging it to be Good. You can often tell immediately if you like something. If you begin not to like it after a week or a month, you say, “It turned out to be no Good in spite of my early impressions." Whether or not something's Good for the whole world may take a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand or even a hundred thousand years to tell. If something turns out to be Bad, then it was just a Fad. A fad can last for a hundred thousand years.

  185. Short idea (12): A human relation is like a weaving or a web; it can be torn or broken, and then it needs to be mended which involves work.

  186. Short idea (158): I can think of 5 roots of anxiety: Ignorance, Knowledge, Cowardice, Attachment, and Chemical Interactions.

  187. Short idea (164): The nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty, can be used to illustrate a psychological point. Once the big egg fell and cracked and broke, all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put him back together again. We are like this, psychologically. We start whole, but then we fall and crack up and break, and then nothing can put us back together again. We long to be whole again. Is it possible?

  188. Short idea (4): In the night: the eyes close, the outer recedes (but does not disappear completely), and the inner comes to the fore. In the morning: the eyes open, the inner recedes (but does not disappear completely), the outer comes to the front. The inner and the outer are in a relation, and, together, they make a whole.

  189. Short idea (59): If you have a camera whose pictures are getting more and more inaccurate — this is a good metaphor for getting old. Decaying tools can cause problems. There are additional problems if you don't know your tools are decaying. And still more problems when you insist to others that everything's fine when everyone can see it isn't.

  190. Short idea (177): It is continuously amazing to me how people can feel they are the greatest, when everyone else can see they are jackasses or fools. To be fair we have to include ourselves in this evaluation and be aware that we also, at the exact moment we feel we are at our best. are often being selfish and stupid and blind and weak. Just because a person feels good and thinks they are good doesn't mean they are. It is sobering to see what we are really.

  191. Short idea (176): If you are the type of person who is devoted to thinking, it is probable that you are not the type of person who continually tries to balance your feeling state in order to feel as good as you can feel. And vice versa: If you are constantly monitoring your feelings and sensations to adjust them to their optimal state, it will be almost possible for you to be what is called "a thinker." All your thought and energy will be devoted to adjusting your feelings.

  192. Short idea (192): There are two political parties in the United States. Younger members of each party are sure they are right and members of the other party are wrong and maybe even evil. Older politicians may feel this but become more practical and are willing to compromise in order to get anything done. But there is a third position: Neither party is completely right but that each expresses a part of the truth. Compromise is not a process where good makes a deal with evil to get at least some good. Rather it is a struggle that leads, if it works, to incorporating the goodness and truths of both parties into a higher, more complete good and truth. This struggle can take centuries.

  193. Short idea (102): Everyone has two sides, but only one side comes out and shows at a time. Some people show one side more than the other, and other people show the other side more often. But all people have both sides.

  194. Short idea (18): What can be done in a minute? – Here are some things: certain complete conversations, brushing of teeth, driving about 1/4 mile on a dirt road, feeding a dog, ...

  195. Short idea (69): Sensations are like the sounds of the individual instruments in an orchestra; Feelings are like the sound of the whole orchestra. A Sensation is like a moving picture of an individual leaf on a tree moving in the wind; A Feeling is like a moving picture of all the leaves (and the whole tree) moving in the wind.

  196. Short idea (157): You can't trust anyone completely or count on anyone completely — not even yourself. This can be a hard fact to swallow and adjust to.

  197. Short idea (56): Knowing thyself is a means, not an end. Unexamined lives may not be worth living, but it doesn't mean examined lives are. Knowing you're a jerk isn't enough; you have to do something about it. But what and how?

  198. Short idea (196): Every person on earth, I would guess, is, by nature: 1) remarkable, 2) ordinary, and 3) inferior. Through work a fourth state can, if things go well, can be added, and this fourth state can be positive or negative depending on which direction the person exerts his or her energy.

  199. Short idea (77): "If only I had listened to her (or him)!" is a thought I have had many times. But I have also had the opposite thought: "I shouldn't have listened to her (or him)! I should have listened to myself!" Based on this, sometimes I should listen to others, and sometimes I should listen to myself. It would be nice to have a rule to tell when to do one and when to do the other, but I haven't found one.

  200. Short idea (22): Imagine that every single religious architectural structure in the world was destroyed. And that it became illegal to be a teacher of religion and even to talk about religion. And that there was a way of implementing these laws, so there was never again a religious structure, a religious custom, or even a religious idea that ever appeared in public. Some people would say this would make the world a better place; others would say it would be a disaster for the world. The question for the psychologist is, "Is there a religious instinct in us that can not be eradicated no matter what we might do to try?"

  201. Short idea (113): From a developmental point of view, I think that Sensation must have been the first adaptive psychological function to appear (every living cell senses — as do human infants). Imagination assumes Sensation and builds on it, and I think it must have been the second function to appear (dogs dream). Thinking assumes Imagination and Sensation and integrates them into itself, and, I think, it must have been the third of the functions to appear (language is needed for thinking; infants don't yet have language). Reflection, Evaluating, Moral and Ethical Reflection, and Planning integrate Sensation, Imagination, and Thinking, and I think it is the fourth function to arise and probably does not arise in everyone. Wisdom couldn't develop without being able to build on the previous four functions and there would also have to be character traits present such as courage. And, if there is any psychological function further along than Wisdom, perhaps some Unifying function, it would develop, if at all, only after everything else was in place and functioning.

  202. Short idea (165): Two Provisional (and condensed) Definitions: 1) Humility = Self-Knowledge + Knowledge of the Future. 2) Arrogance = Ignorance. Axiom: The more self-knowledge you have and the more knowledge of the future you have, the greater humility you have.

  203. Short idea (71): First come the explorers, then the map makers. Each child is an unexplored continent (or world or universe). A person who becomes interested in self-discovery and wants it to be useful has to become both explorer and map-maker.

JMH International Essays — Announcement

Original Essays on the Psychology of Anger and/or Violence 

We thank all those who have submitted an essay to the JMH International Prize Essay Contest. As of now, February 1, 2017, we have decided not to continue with the contest.

For those who feel they have an important contribution to the subject of the Psychology of Anger and/or Violence, please feel free to submit your essay with the form provided here. If the judges agree that the essay is a significant contribution, we will publish it here (subject to agreement with the author).

We include here links related to past essays — For the 2014 contest, click here for the summary article and here for the list of winners; for the 2015 contest, click here for the summary article and the list of winners; and for the 2016 contest, click here.

Longer Observations

  1. Longer observation (14): An Objective Measure of Success?: Here is a mathematical formula offered as an expression of the amount of success in a person's life: s = (h-l) + w + gwh - d

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A Psychological Study of the Mandala in Early Jewish Holy Literature

Paper given before the American Academy of Religion, March 21, 1991 and then, later for a sub-division of the American Psychological Association.

Preface to this web version (added July 29, 2011)

This web version is the original paper, with the addition of a number of new thoughts and comments. I have also added images (I did not use any in the original talks). All the additional thoughts and references are enclosed in square brackets — [....].

The reader may wonder why most of the images are from Christian sources when this is a discussion of Jewish imagery. Three answers come to mind. The first is that, due to the prohibition against visual images in Judaism, there were very few pictures, especially in the older books. Second, many of the Jewish images that do exist are copies of Christian images. In turn, many of the Christian images of Jewish topics were based on descriptions in the Jewish holy literature. It would take an art historian to be able to differentiate, in specific cases, which came first. I think the Jewish and Christian imaginations are more closely connected than we would normally think. Ideas and images and concepts flow very easily between cultures, though the visible signs of the influence may be very difficult to perceive. Finally, I do not have as sure and easy access to Jewish sources as I do to Christian sources. If a reader were to feel there is more work to be done here, I would agree.

At one point I collected a lot of material on what I am calling "Jewish mandalas." There was so much material that I intended to write a book on the subject. Now I think I can cover much of the material in this expanded version of the talk. In the original paper, I gave only the briefest outline of the material and was only able to touch on five examples. The interested reader of this version will find a sixth example in the "Addendum: A Sixth Example" (added August 5, 2011, see below).

Introduction

Introduction

One story of how Jung came up with the concept of the archetype is that, over a period of some time, under an inner compulsion, he drew a series of concentric circles and squares, each divided into four or eight parts. Later his friend, Helmutt Wilhelm, introduced him to pictures of old Tibetan mandalas. Jung recognized that he had been spontaneously drawing essentially the same thing, far away in space and time from old Tibet.

When an archetype appears in consciousness, it is accompanied by a great emotion and a feeling of fascination, what Jung called, following, Herbert Otto, numinosity. Jung's clinical researches showed that the mandala archetype was central and often appeared during the process of integration of numinous experiences into everyday life.

Jung wrote a great deal about the mandala, but I cannot find any significant references in his writings to mandalas in the Jewish religion. Jung, especially in later life, was quite friendly towards Jewish mysticism, and we may wonder, therefore, why he did not discuss the place of the mandala in Jewish religious literature.

The answer is easy to see when it is remembered that Jung wrote about visual images of mandalas, East and West, and therefore tended to overlook the written descriptions of mandalas found in Judaism, since Judaism prohibits making images of God.

In this paper I will give five examples of mandalas from the Jewish holy literature. I will then speak about four different features of, or trends in, these mandalas. I conclude with a description of a Jewish patient I am currently treating that may reveal the psychological function of the mandala symbol, for at least one contemporary Jew.

The Mandala

The Mandala

In Tibetan Buddhism, the mandala is a representation of a city or a palace in the form of concentric squares or circles with God in the center and with four gates, with guards at each gate. And the four gates are oriented towards the four directions. 

Tibet-Met-45Figure 1. Mandala of Vajradhatu, Central Tibet, ca. late 14th century, the Kronos Collection (Kossak, number 45).

Tibet-Thurman-32Figure 2. Indrbhuti Vajradakini Mandala, Tibet, late 17th -- early 18th century, collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Gilmore Ford (Leidy and Thurman, number 32).

Tibet-Thurman-32-centerFigure 3. Same as in Figure 2 but showing a close-up of the Diety at the Center of the Mandala.

[In Tibet, the mandala is used, among other things as a stimulus for meditative visualizations. The iconography and theory of the mandala in Tibetan Buddhism is incredibly rich and complex and way beyond the scope of my work. One thing to mention is that some mandalas are made from colored sand for specific ceremonies and dismantled immediately following the ceremonies (see Figure 4, below). Recently there was a mandala ceremony in Brattleboro, Vermont.]

Tibet-sand-coverFigure 4. Tibetan monks creating a Sand Mandala (Cozort, cover).

Here is a methodological question: How shall we categorize such anomalies as concentric rectangles (as opposed to squares or circles), that is, asymmetrical mandalas, even with four gates and a god in the middle, or how shall we categorize a circle with god in the middle but with only one gate (instead of four)?

The five Jewish mandalas I give below are all, more or less, anomalous in relation to the typical Tibetan mandala paintings. This should not deter us, it seems to me, because a look through any book on Eastern religious architecture shows that even the famous mandala temples of the Orient are often asymmetrical.

[In George Michell's book, The Hindu Temple, he discusses the importance of the mandala design for the laying out of the ground plan of Hindu Temples.

Great importance is attached to the establishment of the temple's ground plan because it functions as a sacred geometric diagram (mandala) of the essential structure of the universe. .... By constructing this diagram [see Figure 5, below] to regulate the form of the temple, a symbolic connection is created, binding together the world of the gods -- the universe, and its miniature reconstruction through the work of man — the temple. .... / Profound significance is attached to the centre of the temple mandala, as it is here that the worshipper may experience transformation as he comes into direct contact with the cosmic order. The centre is the most sacred part of the diagram and is materialized in Hindu temple architecture by the image or symbol of the divinity placed in the sanctuary. In the cosmological interpretation of the plan the centre coincides with the sacred mountain, Meru, the support of the universe. In ritual the dynamics of the temple all proceed with reference to this central point; symbolic processes of interpreting the form of the temple all focus upon the centre of the plan. Set rules attend the laying out of the temple mandala before the commencement of building operations.[pp. 71-72.]

Hindu-Temple-71Figure 5. From Michell (p. 71): "The mandala governing the temple plan, following the Brihatsamhita, ... Brahma [one of the three main Hindu gods] occupies the central nine squares and is surrounded by various planetary divinities, including the Sun and Moon."

[The point I want to make is that though the book, Brihatsamhita, (Michell's source for Figure 5, above) is said to have "governed" the ground plan of Hindu temples, it is difficult to find any temple ground plans in Michell's Hindu temple book that match the archetypal design of Figure 5. There are a few minor examples, but most are significantly different. Figure 6 shows the eighth century Vitupaksha temple of Pattadakal, India. The innermost sanctuary has a mandala shape, but, if you include the courtyard, the other rooms, and the outer walls, it is rectangular. Further, there appear to be only two gates, not four (four gates being part of the mandala format).

Hindu-Temple-138Figure 6. Virupaksha temple. The room attached to the sanctuary (at the top of the picture) is the pavilion for the vehicle of the deity (Michell, p. 138).

[Here are two more examples of anomalous mandalas. The first is shown in a painting of the Kasuga Shrine Mandala of Japan.

JapaneseTemple-Thurman-44Figure 7. Painting of Kasuga Shrine Mandala, Japan, around 1300 (Leidy and Thurman, number 44).

[The second is of the Buddhist temple at Ankor Thom, Cambodia (Figures 8 and 9, below).]

AnkorThom-181Figure 8. Ankor Thom, Cambodia: aerial view of the Bayon (Bussagli, p. 181).

AnkorThom-180Figure 9. Ankor Thom, Cambodia: plan of the Bayon (Buscagli, p. 180)

[It can be seen that, though the main structure of the Ankor Thom temple is as nearly a perfect mandala as we can imagine, if we include the outer rooms and entry way, the mandala form is distorted and disrespected.

The conclusion is that the mandala form is an idealized form, a form fit for the imagination, for two-dimensional representations, and for three dimensional models (see Figure 10) but not for full-size physical buildings in physical space.]

Tibet-3D-sandFigure 10. "A three-dimensional computer-generated [Tibetan] mandala of Vajrabhairava created by Ven. Pema Losang Chogyen of Namgyal Monastery and the Program of Computer Graphics at Cornel University in Ithaca, New York" (Cozort, no page numbers in the book).

[The minute there is an attempt to place the mandala in a three dimensional space, the contingencies of physical (terrain and materials), economic, social (the need to keep "lower" people from too close a contact with the deity of the innermost sanctuary), and even military realities force distortions from the visionary form given by the unfettered imagination. Michell, using Shrirangam, a rectangular Vishnu temple (Figure 11), as an example, says,

Even though the sanctuary remained the most sacred part of the temple, great attention was paid to the outlying elements of the complex. Temple building was characterized by a desire to enlarge earlier sacred structures by the addition of successive enclosure walls, entered by a number of gateways. ... In fact, it became the custom to add to already existing temples. ... In order to enlarge a temple a series of enclosure walls was added until the until the original sanctuary was surrounded by a number of expanding circuits, lending the temple the appearance of a walled fortress. These walls were mostly utilitarian structures sometimes provided with inner platforms and battlements as a means of defense in times of emergency. .... The impulse to develop gigantic temple complexes with prominent gateways reflects the changing role of the temple which ... became more closely involved with the life of the town; in fact, its expanding enclosures frequently extended into the town itself as, for example, at Shirirangam.

Mitchell [pp. 149-151]

Hindu-150Figure 11. "Plan of the Vishnu temple, Shrirangam. The original sanctuary is at the centre of the temple and is surrounded by concentric enclosures added at different periods. (Michel, p. 150)"

[Michell (p. 155) adds that the temples came to be used for civic meetings and for dances and theater all of which required modifications to the temple's structure and plan. If this is true for mandalas in the Orient where there was often a conscious attempt to adhere to a mandala design plan, it should not surprise us that mandala images in the ancient Near East, where the mandala was not conceptualized as an independent idea, would also vary from the mandala form.

Of course we do not want to get into the absurd position that every square or circular figure we examine will be considered a mandala. Common sense and intuition must combine here in distinguishing between an anomalous mandala and a figure that is not a mandala at all.]

It is interesting that ancient Jewish thinkers themselves found these defects troublesome, especially in one very interesting case which I will come to later. [That is, it seems they were troubled by forms we are calling anomalous mandalas and seemed to feel a need to, as I call it, mandala-ize, them.]

Early Jewish Mandalas: Examples 1 and 2

Five Examples of Early Jewish Mandalas.

Example 1. Eden

The first example of a mandala I will give, though I am not sure about the correct time sequence, is the Garden of Eden. Though the Garden is not described explicitly as a circle or square (let alone as concentric circles or squares), the tree is said to be in the middle of the garden, which is suggestive of the mandala form. The number four is associated with the Garden in the form of the four rivers; God, at least in later traditions, lived in the Garden or at least visited it quite often. There is a path (Heb:DEREK) to and from the center (though not four paths). Adam is placed in Eden as the guard, but after the expulsion, the Cherubim guard with fiery, ever-turning swords, to keep people out. The story of Eden exhibits a central theme of Jewish mandalas: The violation of the center of the mandala by humans.

[In the map of the place of Eden from the Honorati Bible (Figure 12), Eden (at the bottom right) is not pictured as a mandala at all. There is a tree with a snake wrapped about it, and Adam and Eve are next to it, one on one side and one on the other. There is the river issuing from Eden, and it does divide into four but only to the North and South of Eden. Eden is pictured on a mountain (or hill) (the mountain-temple-mandala is part of the Oriental mandala iconography).

Eden-HonoratiFigure 12. From a Lyon bible by Sebastian Honorati published in 1566.
[In Figure 13, we see more features of the mandala. There is a wall surrounding Eden, and there is a gate in the wall. Eden is circular, and the fountain (of life -- the tree is not pictured) at the center of Eden is also circular. The four directions are not indicated, but the two plants and the spouts of the fountain are movement towards a four-part division. Finally, the fountain at the center hints at the the unified point of origin of the four rivers issuing from Eden. To me, the introduction of the wall and of the fountain are examples of how the imagination moves towards, what I am calling, the mandalazing of the Eden description.]

 Eden-MunsterFigure 13. From an unidentified edition of Sebastian Munster's Cosmographia, ca. 1600.

Eden-GentlemanFigure 14. "A Map of the Garden of Eden, before God destroy'd it with the Flood" (Gentleman's Magazine, no page number).

[In Figure 14, the mandalazation is continued. East, South, West, and North are specified. There is a division of Eden into four, roughly equivalent quadrants (forming a rectangle) with the tree (also called the Fountain of Life) at the center. From the Fountain of Life issues three rivers that unite to form a larger river that flows around, each end dividing into two at the exit of the Garden. Two angels guard the entrance (and, ipso facto, the exit).

The handling of the river is especially interesting. The text says a river issued from Eden that divided into four. Our theory is that the imagination, in accordance with its desire to see a mandala, wants to make this into four rivers issuing, symmetrically from the center of Eden. The artist seems tempted in this direction. However, as an apparently devout Christian, he must adhere to the text. His picture is a tense compromise. There is a single source that divides into three (though not four), but then they join together into one which then divides into the four. This is an awkward, but understandable, harmonization.

I conclude the examples of Eden images with two concepts of the Angel with the Flaming Sword that guards the Entrance to Eden.]

Eden-Expulsion-smithFigure 15. From a bible history published in 1739 by S. Smith.

Eden-Expulsion-DoreFigure 16. From a bible illustrated by Gustave Doré.

Example 2. The Tabernacle of Moses

The second example, is the Tabernacle of Moses. The tablets that God gave Moses are at the center and are covered by a series of concentric coverings made of various materials. The tablets are contained in an ark which is covered by gold. Then there are curtains and then the tabernacle, which, in turn, is in a tent, and the tent is in a rectangular enclosure.

The whole structure is oriented to the four directions. There is an entrance on the East. There is no guard, but God himself, deals harshly and swiftly with any intruders, as he did with Aaron's sons (Leviticus 10:1-2). The structure is not circular or square, but rectangular, yet it is more or less concentric, and God appears in the middle, gives instruction from there, and even may have a temporary residence there.

[The most common renditions of the Tabernacle in both Jewish and Christian images stick more or less closely with the biblical text. Here is the oldest Jewish image I can find (Figure 17).]

Tabernacle-VendraminFigure 17. Title page from Sefer Shaalot Tzuvot, 1693. The Tabernacle is the rectangular figure in the lower two thirds of the page.

[A similar structure is conceptualized by Jan Luyken in Figure 18, below. The Tent of the Tabernacle is show in an enclosure that creates a courtyard. No entrance is show, however the Tabernacle itself is shown with more detail, which is to say that it shows two of its coverings. I conceptualize these coverings as protective casings which are, in my mind, essentially, the Tabernacle version of concentric "walls". Here is a closer view of the Tabernacle itself with its coverings (according to Luyken). It will be remembered that what the coverings are covering is, among other things, the tablets of the Ten Commandments which are in the Ark of the Covenant.]

Tabernacle-LuykenFigure 18. An engraving by Jan Luyken from a bible history published by Goeree, ca. 1700.

[No entrance is shown, however the Tabernacle itself is shown with more detail, which is to say that it shows two of its coverings. I conceptualize these coverings as protective casings which are, in my mind, essentially, the Tabernacle version of concentric "walls". Here is a closer view of the Tabernacle itself with its layered coverings (also according to Luyken). It will be remembered that what the coverings are covering is, among other things, the tablets of the books given to Moses by the Lord on Sinai which are being housed and protected in the Ark of the Covenant.]

Tabernacle-Curtains-LuykenFigure 19. The layered Coverings of the Tabernacle according to Jan Luyken, ca 1700).

[Many of the representations of the Tabernacle include the twelve camps of the twelve tribes around it. The biblical text has the twelve tribes divided into three groups of four. One group is to encamp to the North of the Tabernacle, another to the South, another to the East, and the last group to the West. This is consistent with our reading of the Tabernacle complex as a mandala. When the camps are included, the Tabernacle complex is closer to a square with the camps creating another outer, protective enclosure. Here are three versions. In the first (Figure 20), the rectangular configuration of the whole complex is preserved.]

Tabernacle-MalarmiFigure 20. From an edition of an Anton Koberger Bible, printed in Lyon, ca 1515. West is at the top.

Tabernacle-LyraFigure 21. The Tabernacle with surrounding camps (from an incunable bible, ca 1480). East is at the top.

[In the second version, Figure 21, the complex is squared. The same is true for the third (Figure 22), where the Tabernacle complex is shown as a perfect square. There are some versions that show the a River flowing from the center and watering all the tribes. I think these images prove the tendency towards mandalazation.]

Tabernacle-Camp-CalmetFigure 22. The Tabernacle and the surrounding Israelite Camps (from an English edition of Calmet's bible dictionary, ca 1725).

Figure 23 is from a Jewish source.

Mikdosh-fp-dFigure 23. From author(?), 1894. South is at the top.

Early Jewish Mandalas: Example 3

Example 3. The Temple of Solomon

The third example is the Temple of Solomon whose form is similar to that of the Tabernacle (1Kings 6, 2Chronicles 3). It is a series of concentric rectangles and squares, and we are told that the innermost room, the Holy of Holies, is a perfect cube. We are specifically told that the Temple is a house of God, God living in the center, and God is separated from humans by various more or less concentric enclosures. The Temple is oriented to the four directions, and there are gates at each direction.

[In some images of Solomon's Temple the rectangular configuration is preserved. See, for example, Figures 24-27 below.]

Temple-ChroniclesFigure 24. Leaf LXVII from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1492. West at the top.

Temple-English-c1650Figure 25. From an English bible, ca 1600. West at the top.

Temple-MerianFigure 26. From an Eighteenth Century French bible history, after Matthäus Merian.

Temple-Scheuchzer-424Figure 27. Plate CCCCXXIV from an edition of Johannes Jacob Scheuchzer's Physica Sacra, ca 1730.

[In many renditions (both Jewish and Christian), the Temple is shown as square, even though the biblical text is clear about the Temple having been rectangular. Here are two examples (Figures 28-29).]

Temple-JosephusFigure 28. Copper-plate engraving (Josephus, p. 188).

Temple-deHoogheFigure 29. Copper-plate engraving from an edition of the Romeyn de Hooghe bible history, ca 1721.

[Figure 29, from a Christian bible history, is a nearly exact copy of a famous Jewish rendition by the Rabbi, Jacob Judah Leon.

Figures 30-32 show three fantasies of the ground plan of the Temple. It should be remembered the biblical text is not exact, and so all ground plans put forward are theoretical, and, in so far as they are square, they distort the text that is given and so add a piece from the imagination. In short, square pictures of Solomon's Temple are mandalazations.]

Temple-Maimonides-38Figure 30. From a Christian edition of Maimonides (Maimonides, p. 38). West at the top.

Temple-Newton-372Figure 31. The plan proposed by Sir Isaac Newton (Newton, p. 272). West at top.

Temple-Scheuchzer-422Figure 32. Plate CCCXXII from an edition of Johannes Jacob Scheuchzer's Physica Sacra, ca 1730.

[A psychologically important additional point has to do with what is at the center of mandalas. As mentioned, the mandala in the Orient, is, by definition, the home of a divinity, and the divinity is thought to reside in the center of the mandala. Figure 3, above, shows just such a divinity, but it is only one of many. It is shocking to many here in the West that, occasionally, there are two divinities shown at the center, a male and female god, and that they are shown in the act of intercourse.

As mentioned earlier, at the center of the Israelite Tabernacle and Temple, according to tradition, "reside" the two tablets given to Moses on Sinai by the Lord. These tablets are in a box, the Ark. On top of the box is a seat (a "mercy seat") made of gold on which the Lord sits when He is "home." And on the sides of the seat are two cherubim. I think of them as the attendants or guards of the Lord. Here is the description from Exodus 25:18-22:

And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold ... in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end .... And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims ....

Needless to say, the ark with the cherubim have been the subject of many works of art, and, as you might imagine, each artist pictures them differently. In Figure 33, we see how one, presumably Christian artist imagined them: as two devout, prayerful figures with long hair and long flowing robes.]

Cherubim-LyraFigure 33. From an incunable Christian bible, ca. 1480.

[In Figure 34, the cherubim are imagined as innocent, angelic infants.]

Cherubim-FrenchFigure 34. From a French Eighteenth Century bible or bible history.

[A plate in Goeree (1700), probably by the Dutch Mennonite mystic, Jan Luyken, shows nine different versions of the cherubim. In Figure 35 we see one that is consistent with the feeling tone of the two just given.]

Cherubim-1700-d2Figure 35. From a copper-plate engraving by Jan Luyken (Goeree, Vol. 4, p. 46).

[The imagination being what it is, not all versions are so subdued and innocent. From the same plate we find the following image:]

Cherubim-1700-d3Figure 36. Same citation as in Figure 35.

[What may escape the eye for a moment are the feet of these cherubim. Instead of human feet, there are hooves. When we think of what other creatures in the Western religious tradition have cloven hooves, Figure 35 can seem quite shocking. In other words, there is a hint that, right at the center of the Tabernacle (and Temple), right where the Lord sits, at his right and left hand, are figures that not only have an animal aspect but actually suggests Satan's goat-like aspect itself. From a pragmatic, military point of view, this might make sense: If you were king it might make sense to hire as your gods the strongest and worst of all creatures, assuming you could tame them and make them work for the good. (There is an analogous tradition where Solomon employed demons to build the Temple.)

[Figure 36 shows bird-like cherubim.]

Cherubim-1700-d6Figure 37. Same information as in Figures 35 and 36.

[Even more extreme is the image in Figure 38 (close-up in Figure 39).]

Cherubim-1700-d4Figure 38. Same information as Figures 35-37.

Cherubim-1700-d5Figure 39. Detail from Figure 38.

[These grotesque figures did not spring completely from the imagination of the artist. They are attempts to represent the figures seen by the prophet Ezekiel in his first vision. In this vision, Ezekiel sees a four wheeled chariot (each wheel has many eyes) on which is seated the "Glory of the Lord." Pulling the chariot are four creatures. Each creature has four faces, the face of an ox, the face of an eagle, the face of a lion, and the face of a man. Figures 37-38 are an attempt to integrate the wheels with the creatures and, more importantly, an attempt to integrate Ezekiel's vision (at the Cheder River in Babylon) of the creatures serving the Glory of the Lord with the cherubim serving the Lord in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and in the Temple in Jerusalem. We will return in a moment to Ezekiel's chariot vision, as it is our fourth example of a Jewish mandala.

[Continuing with the cherubim motif, it is a well-known tradition in Judaism that one of the cherubim is male and the other is female. It is part of this tradition that they have intercourse in the center-most part of the Temple, in the Holy of Holies. Apparently this idea developed independently in the imagination of some Tibetans and in the imagination of some Jews. The above development of the cherubim imagery should make the Tibetan iconography less strange and unfamiliar.

Jerusalem

[It was, it seems to me, only a matter of time until all of Jerusalem became visualized as a mandala. Here are two examples, one from the famous Christian history, the Nuremberg Chronicle, and the second from a Seventeenth Century Yiddish book.]

Jerusalem-ChronicleFigure 40. Folio leaf XVII from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1492. The Temple is pictured as circular.

Jerusalem-YiddishFigure 41. Picture from a Yiddish book, probably the Seventeenth Century, showing the Temple in the center of a walled Jerusalem.

Early Jewish Mandalas: Examples 4 and 5

Example 4a. Ezekiel's Chariot Vision

The fourth example comes from Ezekiel's visions and consists of two parts: first (Ezekiel 1), as Ezekiel is sitting by the river Kvar in Babylon, far from the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem, he sees a likeness of the Glory of God riding on a chariot, supported by four creatures (and the number four is multiplied here, that is, four faces, four wheels, etc.). This scene is in a huge cloud surrounded by a radiance, that is, there are concentric circles.

[The following five images are artists attempts to capture this vision.]

Merkabah-MalarmiFigure 42. From an edition of an Anton Koberger bible, published in Lyon, France, ca 1515.

Merkabah-martinFigure 43. From a bible history, probably Dutch, almost certainly Eighteenth Century.

Merkabah-deHondtFigure 44. A copper-plate engraving by Bernard Picart (from de Hondt).

Merkabah-DoreFigure 45. Engraving by Gustave Doré, late Nineteenth Century.

Merkabah-spainFigure 46. From a Robert Barker Bible published in London in 1606.

[In the above five images we see the attempt of the imagination to put together the images of the vision. The storm cloud and the radiance are analogous with the walls that protect the deity inside. There is no house, as the Lord who had been living in Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem has left and is roaming in His chariot. The seat of the Chariot is the new Holy of Holies and the four figures are function as the cherubim. ]

Example 4b: Ezekiel's Vision of the Future Temple

And the second part (Ezekiel 8-11): This God Ezekiel sees in Babylon is the same God who lived in the center of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem before it was destroyed. He complains to Ezekiel that men built their thresholds and doorposts too close to His, and that this is why His House, His Temple was destroyed. He shows Ezekiel the future Temple (Ezekiel 44ff) with its courts and walls and gates (squares are mentioned quite often) and gives strict rules to prevent intrusion.

Hebrew-Ezekiel-Temple-VendraminFigure 47. "Image of the Holy Temple as it appeared to Ezekiel's Vision" (translation of R. Tom Heyn) (Tzahalon, verso of title page).

[Please note that the ground plan of Figure 47 is about as close to an oriental mandala as we can imagine. The figure is square, no longer rectangular. It is nearly perfectly symmetrical with the Holy of Holies at the center. There are four gates. And so on. Another conception, also from a Jewish source, is given in Figure 48.]

Hebrew--Ezekiel-Temple-BayitFigure 48. Author's view of the ground plan of the Future Temple from Ezekiel's visionary experience (Weiss, fold-out).

Summing up, at the river in Babylon, Ezekiel sees the innermost God of the Jerusalem Temple, arrived by chariot, naked, unprotected by walls, homeless. He (God) is upset and wants a new home, with better walls and gates. While He was in Eden and while He was in the Tabernacle, He had also been tormented by disrespectful humans.

Ezekiel 47:8-12ff is the most beautiful description of a properly working mandala within Jewish scripture, with a river coming out from under the Temple and watering the world, with each of the twelve (4x3) tribes in its proper place, etc.

Ezekiel implies that Eden was on Zion. Since the Bible also states that the ark was brought into Solomon's Temple on Zion, we see that all the mandalas we have discussed so far were located, some place in scripture, at the exact same place, on Zion. Eden, the ark, Solomon's Temple, and Ezekiel's future Temple are all placed in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a powerful symbol.

This tradition is amplified and intensified by such medieval kabbalists as Joseph Gikatila. In his book Sefer Ginnath Egoz, the Book of the Nut Garden, we are told that there is a garden on a hill with a nut which contains a "stairway to God's world" (1614:2, my translation). The garden would be Eden and the hill, Zion. The nut is the fruit eaten by Adam and Eve (not the apple as in later Christian tradition).

I would like to make a relevant digression. In an earlier draft of this paper I added a personal observation that the Nut, with its various concentric shells and membranes around an inner kernel could be considered another example of a mandala. However, since I had no textual evidence to support this thought, I deleted it from the paper. Last night, however, I decided to look up Nut in the Zohar, and was surprised to find significant sections on it (1989:part 2, section 1:8-13).

I will sum up what the Zohar says about the Nut: The whole world, with everything in it, was formed on this principle. With respect to the whole universe, God is at its center, and the world is outside in successive layers or shells. Also for the human being there is a shell (the body) and a kernel (the soul). There is also talk of the four Husks and the four Kingdoms.

But most importantly, the Zohar explicitly states that, when Ezekiel was at the river, he could not see all of God, because his vision was blocked by a "wall." This wall was the various "shells" surrounding the vision of God at the center. The four shells were the Stormy Wind, the Cloud, the Flashing Fire, and the Brightness (identified with the Tohu and Vohu of Genesis 1:2. Inside of all this is the innermost, the kernel, that is, the God who created the light. The shells are the other side, that is, evil.

In a second image important for our current study, the Zohar describes Jerusalem as a shell that had two openings before the Temple was destroyed, etc.

From what I understand from reading Scholem (1961:seventh lecture), Lurianic kabbalah used the image of the shell (Kelipah) as a central image: God is in the center, but the shell around him cracked, and this has led to all the suffering of the world. The goal of the individual Jew is to restore the shells, by his or her daily actions and intentions, and thereby help, not only him or her self, but also God.

The innumerable Lurianic drawings of concentric circles representing the emanations of the sefirot from God, fall within the category of the mandala and seem to be related to this concept of the shells and the kernel of the Nut.

It may even be fair to say that, at some point in the Middle Ages, the image of the Nut replaced the earlier images of Temple, Tabernacle, and Eden as the compelling Jewish mandala. Even so, it will be remembered that the Nut is from the tree in Eden which is on the Temple mountain, and so the connection remains implied.

Example 5. The Vision from 3Enoch

I now turn to 3Enoch (Alexander's translation) for our fifth example. Here R. Ishmael is pictured as ascending to the heavens where he sees the chariot from Ezekiel's vision. (In related Merkabah traditions R. Ishmael has his vision while meditating on the Temple mount). Up in the heights, he goes through six palaces, concentrically arranged, until he gets to the innermost, the seventh, in which is the Holy One. Each chamber has a door with a fierce and awesome guardian — including Soperiel and Shoperiel, authors of life and death. Four is the dominant number — four camps of angels, four rivers of fire, four seraphim, four watchers who live opposite the Throne and help God judge, etc. The structure is remarkably elaborate (chapters 1, 5, 18-19, 25-26, 28, and 37 are particularly relevant).

Comments on the Five Examples

Comments on the Five Examples.

First, with regard to the tension between rectangle and square for the Temple itself. This disturbance was apparently felt by the ancient Essenes as well as by modern psychologists. The Essenes idealized the Temple, even though it was still in existence, as having threesquare(instead of rectangular) courts around the Temple, the inner court with four gates, and the outer two with twelve (Yadin 1983:188-9). Josephus spoke of this as the reduction of the Temple to a square and said that the Jews (presumably the Essenes) insisted on performing this reduction in spite of an oracle that, when the Temple be square, Jerusalem and its Temple would be destroyed (pp. 197-198).

This is supported by findings from Qumram Cave 1 reported by Yadin. Here were found sixteen rectangular linen sheets with patterns woven in blue linen thread, presumably used as wrappings for the sacred writings.

Temple-Yadin-199Figure 49. Linen covering of the holy writings from the Essene community at Qumram Cave 1 (Yadin, 199).

Quoting Yadin (1983:198):

Mrs Crowfoot [who published the fabrics] reached the conclusion that the weavers took great pains in making the pattern and displayed considerable skill...: [there were] three quadrangles each, one inside the other....The central quadrangle is rectangular, whereas the outer two become progressively more square. The measurements of the wrappings themselves (the outer-most line in the figure) are, as a rule, nearly square (e.g., 57X60 cm).

Yadin quotes Mrs Crowfoot: "The obvious suggestion is that the rectangles represent the ground plan of some religious building, and Yadin concludes that it represented the plan of the Temple as perceived by the sect" (p. 199).

So there was a strong need among the Essenes, to make the Temple into a square, into a symmetrical mandala. [This is an example of what I am calling the mandalazation tendency.

In fact, there seem to be two competing principles, the mandalazation principle which is a force within the Imagination and the desire to conform to reality. The tension between the two lead to actual, physical structures.]

The second point is that there is a trend towards more and more Spiritualization of the mandala [Internalization is an alternate term]. It becomes more and more visionary. To put it bluntly, after the Temple was destroyed in actuality, it appeared in visions, in the imagination. We have Ezekiel's future Temple [our image of the future is something within our current imagination], as well as R. Ishmael's Temple up in the heavens (not to mention the heavenly Jerusalem in the vision of St. John of Patmos). In the Midrashim there is a heavenly Tabernacle as well as a heavenly Temple.

Jerusalem-New-msFigure 50. The "New Jerusalem" from St. John's Book of Revelations. Sold to me as by Melchior Schwartzenberg and from the Luther Bible of 1534.

The contemporary psychological case I will present in a moment indicates that, for certain Jews, the Temple, with its divisions, can still be experienced, but now within oneself.

Third, in each of the five cases, as we have seen, there is explicit mention of the violation of God's home by man.

This is a primary issue with respect to the Jewish mandala, and I will return to it below for a discussion of its psychological meaning.

[I would like to add that the more general issue is the proper place of man (that is, humans) in relation to the mandala (the Tabernacle, the Temples) and its center. This is partly a question of what I call the Geography of the Imagination or the Geometry of the Imagination and man's proper place in it. There is the ordinary geography of all the things found in the Imagination, and, in addition and in the same psychological space, there is the mandala image with its surrounding walls and deity in the center. The question is, in this whole geometry, where should humans place themselves? I intend to return to this topic in a future article, but, for now, I will content myself with saying that it seems that it differs for different people. This can be put in biblical terms as follows: There are twelve types of people (twelve tribes). Of the twelve, one is "assigned" to the maintenence of the Temple. Members of this tribe (the Levites) live, at least part time, on its premises and take care of it. The other 11/12 of the people are required to recognize the importance of the Temple (and its God) and to dedicate a piece of their earnings to it, but are not required to devote their whole lives to it. It should be added that though the Levites perform the rites and live on the Temple premises, it is only one particular family from the Levite tribe, the Cohanim, from which the actual priests are chosen. These priests perform the most sacred rites. And of this family, at any given time, only one is the High Priest, and it is the High Priest who is the only Israelite (other than Moses) who is allowed to actually go in to the presence of the Lord in the Holy of Holies -- and this only once a year and only for a brief time and only on behalf of all of Israel. In short, most people don't have to worry about matters of the Temple, at least most of the time. In fact if the wrong person goes too far into the sacred precints, death is the punishment, and this is true even if they are Cohanim and their intentions are pure (as in the story of Aaron's own sons, Nahab and Abihu from Leviticus 10:1).]

Fourth, in a very influential mandala which I do not have time to present in detail, the one from the Sefer Yetzira (see Blumenthal 1978 and Gruenwald 1971), there is a twist about what is at the center of the mandala. Here the mandala is a sphere (not just a circle), and God is at its center, which is only associated to Jerusalem by allusion. But then there is an equivocation, and there is a hint that man is at the center, and so we are led to questions about whether God or man is at the center and what is their relation. It is as if here man is invited into the center of the mandala. [Psychologically and symbolically this is a terribly important and, perhaps, an ominous shift. If there is a prohibition against the entering the Divine presence, as we discussed above, having ourselves at the center is a displacement of the divinity altogether. I hope to give a psychological interpretation in another place.

One More Tibetan Mandala

I conclude the material with one more example of a Tibetan mandala that I believe blurs the line still further between Eastern and Western examples. As far as I know, there was no evidence of influence of Jewish iconography on Tibet.]

Tibet-Thurman-33Figure 51. Vajravarahi Mandala, Tibet, late Eighteenth Century. From the David Shapiro collection (Leidy and Thurman, number 33).

Contemporary Case Material

Contemporary Case Material.

Finally I will present a contemporary case that may throw light on the psychological or inner meaning of the Jewish mandala. I have been treating a schizophrenic Jewish man in his 30's. His father is an engineer, and neither parent is religious. During his post-doctoral scientific studies he suffered a psychotic break. Since then he has become like a whimpering child, remarkably passive, clinging to anyone for support. The persistence of his simple trust pushes people away. When on his own, he shakes from anxiety that even medication does not control.

He had always refused to discuss religious questions with me, because he felt that he would slip into a psychosis. The prohibition he placed on himself thinking about God paralleled the biblical prohibitions placed against humans entering God's residence. I was shocked, therefore, when he told me he was reading Nehemiah. Here are his words:

"I am reading Nehemiah, about rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem, and I'd like to use it as an analogy for rebuilding the personality....Even in Nehemiah ... it says that it took him twelve years to rebuild the walls, the gates."


Psychologically, this man entered the numinosity at the center of the mandala; The "walls" dividing his scientific mind from the numinous experience came tumbling down; He could no longer maneuver in the four directions surrounding him or in his four functions within. Psychiatric medication had to function as his walls. Now he wants to rebuild the walls without medication.

Many passages in Nehemiah are suggestive of the process he will have to go through. For example, we are told that "The work is great and large" (4:13, the following quotes are from Tanakh, 1988). The reason for the work is stated: "Come and let us build up the wall..., so that we no longer suffer insult." (2:17). During the construction, "Everyone brought his weapon with him even to the water." (4:17) Even the division between gatekeepers, priests, and singers has an inner parallel in how he will have to divide his attention in order to succeed. The idea that the gates should be locked one day a week (13:22), is also suggestive.

The reason that Nehemiah's rebuilding the walls of ancient Jerusalem is symbolic of my patient's rebuilding his personality is important to examine: The mandala archetype in Judaism — that is, the Temple-Eden-Tabernacle complex — is for many American Jews, no longer projected out onto Jerusalem, but is experienced within the psyche. The ancient problem of maintaining the proper relationship between the Inner Sanctuary and the Outer Walls has now become the problem of maintaining the proper relationship between the Numinous and the Ordinary within oneself.

I will give one more brief contemporary example to show that this is an objective phenomena within the clinical experience of the practicing psychologist.

A patient was in the California Sierras and had what he described as a "vision of God." It seemed to him that the world was a place of the most exquisite beauty and perfection which he likened to the Garden of Eden. As he came down from the mountains back into the cities and freeways and especially into L.A., this feeling of beauty slipped more and more away, and he was left with his ordinary consciousness.

This man was an atheistic, secular Jew with very little knowledge of or interest in the Bible, yet the image of the Temple with its twelve gates kept forcing itself into his mind. It seemed to him to perfectly capture the nature of his experience. It was to him as if, on the mountain, he had entered the center of the Temple where God lived. As he came down into the cities, he went from courtyard to courtyard, out the gates, until, back in L.A., he was out of the Temple altogether. He set a goal for himself of never forgetting the Temple, etc.

Here we have Temple-Eden-mountain conjoined. As in the last case, the Temple is a symbol for the relation between various kinds of inner human experiences.

This shift towards Interiorization or Spiritualization of the mandala experience has political implications, since the city, Jerusalem — as the holder of the numinous — becomes less important as the numinous within the individual becomes the focus of our interest.

[Addendum: A Sixth Example (added August 5, 2011)]

An Addendum

In the original paper I gave five examples of Jewish mandalas, but there were others that I did not have the time or space to discuss. In this Addendum, I give a rough sketch of a sixth.

At one point I collected a lot of material on Jewish mandalas. There was so much material that I intended to gather it together into a book. There were a number of motifs that seemed to me relevant to our topic. One was the biblical description of Mt. Sinai. Another, interestingly enough, was the description of the Sabbath as presented in different Kabbalistic writings. The idea that time can be visualized as divided between sacred time (the Sabbath) and profane or ordinary time (the other six days of the week). The six profane days can be conceptualized as concentric walls surrounding the Sabbath. The Lord is to be found in and on the Sabbath. As the days of the week approach closer and closer to the Sabbath, the practicing Jew comes closer and closer into proximity with the Lord. Part of the iconography, simply put, is that the Lord has female counterpart, a wife, as it were. On the evening of the Sabbath, the Lord and His wife embrace and become intimate. The practicing Jew is to embrace and become intimate with his wife at this moment. Children so conceived are especially holy.

And there are many other, what might be called, "lesser" mandalas or "partial" mandalas. Each of these, it seems to me, deserves attention and elaboration. As mentioned in the original paper (link above), I see a development over time of the Jewish mandala imagery. As said, I see a movement from the mandala being taken literally (as a physical, architectural structure) to the experiencing of the mandala as something in the far off heavens and, finally, to the hint that the mandala image is something in the Imagination. This gradual "Internalization" of the image needs to be demonstrated. The examples I have assembled only hint at this progression.

In my mind, the culmination (at this point in time) is the mandala I will now present that I am calling the "sixth" mandala.

A Sixth Example: A Rough Sketch

At some time in the history of Europe, the scientific method and the scientific spirit caught hold and captured the minds of a certain group of individuals. This happened both within Judaism and within Christianity. A split became evident between the new group of "enlightened," rationalists and the old group committed to the old traditions and the old ways of thinking. This split occurred within Judaism and led to a large group of Jews who began to look at the Bible as just another book written by fallible men for "human, all too human" purposes. At best it represented a primitive attempt at history. At worst it was a compendium of irrational beliefs and customs that could not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

Some among the group of intellectuals were perfectly content with this new stance and even took it one step further by rejecting the idea of "God" as irrational and un-scientific. Some even felt that they saw that the religion was the source of all the problems of humanity, the factor that held humanity back and accounted for the persistence of wars, devastating disease, and natural calamities. Science could solve these problems, but, at every step of the way, religion resisted reason and science. Many in this group of rationalists felt (and feel) perfectly content in this "revelation," and it inspired them and drove them.

However there were some amongst the intellectuals who were not content with what some would call this "superficial atheism." They too were atheists and "modern men," but they felt that something was missing with the superficial view. They felt there was something deeper. They felt some burning passionate intensity that was hard to describe and that did not fit neatly with their own rational, realistic belief system.

I would put Sigmund Freud in this category. Unlike his father who was a traditional Jew, Freud was an university educated nineteenth century rationalist. He was a well-known and open atheist who argued that religious beliefs were illusions, figments of the Imagination. He was a man of science and was interested in a university career in neurology, but he thought that, as a Jews, there was no room for real advancement within the university. He became a physician and, for various reasons, came to specialize in treating hysteria, a disease whose mental component was just becoming apparent. Though the hysteric complained and even demonstrated physical symptoms, it was easy for researchers to show that these symptoms could not have a physical basis. Freud (and his friend and colleague Breuer) set the goal of figuring out the cause of hysteria. They arrived at the conclusion that there were feelings and thoughts and memories and fantasies deep inside the mind of the hysterical patient that caused the symptoms. These deep phenomena fully accounted for the symptoms, and, when brought to the surface, into the conscious mind of the patient, the symptoms disappeared.

Based on their clinical experience, Freud and Breuer began to realize that their patients were completely unconscious of the material deep within them. Not only this, but they seemed to resist the exposure of the material. When evidence was given them as to their existence and their nature, the patients often became very agitated and defensive.

A model began to occur to the researchers (a model developed by Freud) that there are two parts of the mind of the hysterical patient (and, at least to some degree, of all people): A deep part that contains the problem elements, and a more superficial part that is consciousness as we all know it. The first part or Id, is unconscious, the Unconscious. The second part or Ego is conscious, it is Consciousness. In one place, Freud compared these two realms to two countries with a border between them. There is a spot, a border crossing, where things are allowed to pass between the two countries, but other things are kept from entering the country. And there is a border guard that decides what to let through and what not to let through. The Unconscious is one country (as it were). Consciousness is another. There is a dividing border between them and a guard that monitors what can and what can not go from the Unconscious into Consciousness. Freud called this guard, the Super-Ego, of consciousness. In his voluminous writings, there are two places I can find where he drew a little figure to illustrate this idea.

Freud-Ego-18Figure 52. "Pcpt.-Cs" = Perception-Consciousness. From Freud, 1960, p. 18.

In this picture Freud distinguishes between the repressed part of the Id and the full Unconscious. "And the ego is that part of the Id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world through the medium of Pcpt.-Cs; in a sense it is an extension of the surface-differentiation" (Freud, 1960, pp. 18-19). From the diagram and this quote we see that Freud saw the mind as having levels — a surface that interfaces with the world and a series of deeper levels more and more distant from it. There is the world, then there is Perception and Consciousness, then the Ego, then the repressed Id, and, finally, the deeper levels of the Id.

The point for us here is not to get the exact details correct but to understand the general, overall concept. Freud himself did not put these diagrams forward as having any special authority and wrote that "the form chosen has no pretensions to any special applicability, but is merely intended to serve for purposes of exposition" (p. 18). Further, Freud is known to have modified his theory again and again over his life, and I do not think he ever came up with a model that he felt was completely satisfactory.

Freud-New-98Figure 53. An "unassuming sketch" from Freud, 1965, p. 98.


In this second picture, the super-ego is shown and also another part of the mind, the Preconscious (the Preconscious consists of experiences that are not now conscious but could easily be made so by a shift of attention). In addition, the shape of the figure is elongated compared with the Figure 52. Again, the figure itself should be taken with a grain of salt. To quote from the accompanying text:

... It is certainly hard to say to-day how far the drawing is correct. In one respect it is undoubtedly not. The space occupied by the unconscious id ought to have been incomparably greater than that of the ego or the preconsicous. I must ask you to correct it in your thoughts. And here is another warning, to conclude these remarks. ... In thinking of this division of the personality into an ego, a super-ego and an id, you will not, of course, have pictured sharp frontiers like the artificial ones drawn in political geography. We cannot do justice to the characteristics of the mind by linear outlines like those in a drawing or in primitive painting, but rather by areas of colour melting into one another as they are presented by modern artists. After making the separation we must allow what we have separated to merge together once more. You must not judge too harshly a first attempt at giving a pictorial representation of something so intangible as psychical processes. ... It is easy to imagine, too, that certain mystical practices may succeed in upsetting the normal relations between the different regions of the mind, so that, for instance, perception may be able to grasp happenings in the depths of the ego and in the id which were otherwise inaccessible to it. (1965, pp. 98-99)

Freud was very concerned about being perceived as a mystic. He thought of himself as a scientist and went to great lengths to present evidence for his view and his model. He viewed himself as having made a great scientific discovery and always hoped to receive a Nobel prize in biology for it. Towards the end of his life, when he received notice that he had won the prestigious Goethe prize for literature, he was upset. He never received the Nobel prize.

In spite of Freud's caveats to the above drawings, he did think they gave a general indication of the structure of the minds of his patients (and of all of us). He was not just coming out with fantastic images from his Imagination. He was drawing a model of what he had discovered. How did he know that there was in the Unconscious of his patients? This is a complex subject but, suffice it to say, that first he used hypnosis and then he developed his own method he called Free Association. The patient would start with, say, an image from a dream and then say whatever came into his or her mind.

Why a dream? Because Freud thought that, at night, the guard watching the door between the two realms is weakened even if he does not sleep altogether. To quote Freud,

Thus the censorship between the Ucs. and the Pcs .... deserves to be recognized and respected as the watchman of our mental health. Must we not regard it, however, as an act of carelessness on the part of that watchman that it relaxes its activities during the night, allows the suppressed impulses in the Ucs. to find expression, and makes it possible for hallucinatory regression to occur once more? I think not. For even though this critical watchman goes to rest — and we have proof that its slumbers are not deep — it also shuts the door upon the power of movement. — No matter what impulses from the normally inhibited Ucs. may prance upon the stage, we need feel no concern; they remain harmless, since they are unable to set in motion the motor apparatus by which alone they might modify the external world. The state of sleep guarantees the security of the citadel that must be guarded .... gateway to the power of movement stands open. When this is so the Watchman is overpowered, ... (pp. 606-7)

Freud found, or thought he found, that these associations always led back to sexual themes from childhood. Even though it was seen as shocking in his day (and probably it still is), Freud stuck to his guns that childhood sexual and aggressive fantasies, and especially those in relation to ones parents, are at the heart of what is repressed. Freud saw clearly, or thought he saw clearly, that his patients could not not tolerate these feelings and impulses and images in their conscious minds, and so they were repressed into the Unconscious.

When Freud looked at and listened to his patients, he pictured their minds as having various level. He was speaking with the part that was conscious, but there was a part behind this Consciousness, a part deeper than it, and this was the repressed part of the Unconscious. And deeper than that was a level of the Unconscious that was a place that was "incomparably greater" than the Ego. In another place he said that the dream images only take us so deep into the Unconscious and the extent of the Unconscious is vast and mysterious. This deep and mysterious area is separated from Consciousness by a barrier or border that, even though it is not a "sharp frontier," is still thought of as a border or frontier. And the Super-ego watches over this border and guards Consciousness from eruptions from the depths of the Unconscious.

I would like to give my rough attempt to draw what Freud was trying to get at.

1Figure 54. The Unconscious (the Id) — the part that is unknowable (according to Freud).

2Figure 55. The deeper Unconscious (Id) plus the part that is Repressed (outer circle).

In Figure 55, the outer circle has four parts — Primitive Imagery (like dreams, illusions fantasies, and hallucinations); Childish Thoughts (delusions, irrational believes based on wishes, etc.); Childish Emotions ("me, me, me"!); and Childish Valuations (of Good and Bad, Right and Wrong). As Freud comments, these come out of the unconscious, out of the instincts, but their roots are beyond our understanding. We see the effects — for example, the dreams of a male and female angel — where it comes from in the deeper regions of the unconscious, we can only guess. The black lines represent borders between the regions, and there is a little "gate" through which material may pass.

3Figure 56. Everything we had in the previous drawing, but now the Ego is added.

The Ego level of the psyche is further from the core. It is separated from the repressed level which, itself, is separated from the deeper levels of the unconscious. However material can pass back and forth between the levels. There are little guards stationed at the gates to determine what material can and can not go through the frontiers. The Ego has four levels also. They are Creative Imagination and Planning which includes Memory (as opposed to childish fantasy); Rational, Problem Oriented, and Realistic Trial and Error Thinking (as opposed to irrational and unexamined thoughts); Adult Emotions and Feelings (where there is an element of self-control); and Adult Valuations (as opposed to "I want it, so it's good! I want it now! I have to have it now! Anything that stands in my way is bad!")

4Figure 57. The same as in the previous figure, but we have added the level of preconscious sensations and perceptions.

This outer layer is the layer in closest contact with the world. What it receives from the senses can flow into the ego and is also influenced by what lies within. The ego stands between the unconscious and outer reality and mediates between them, assuming it is strong and functioning properly. The different regions of our perceptual world — represented by the different colors — are vision, hearing (see Figure 52), touch, and whatever else is left over (taste, smell, balance, or however we divide).

5Figure 58. All of what is in the preceding figure plus the senses. This is mixing metaphors a bit, but, in Figure 58, we are adding on the eyes, the ears, the skin, and so on, in red and orange and pink. Freud has some of this ("account.") in Figure 52 above, and so I follow him, even though it does blur the line between mind and body.

I think the reader will see what I am getting at. I have mandalaized Freud's drawings. I see my rendition, not as my own creation, but as a better image of what Freud was getting at. I leave it to the reader to decide, not only how much I have changed, but how much or how little I have distorted Freud's intention to a point where he might have rejected the drawings as mine and not his.

Now where did Freud "see" this mandala? He did not say he had a vision of what Eden was like or of some place in the distant past. He did not say he saw it in Jerusalem and that a building based on his visionary ground plan should be built. He did not say he had it a vision of how some future building or city would or should appear one day. And he did not say that he saw it up in the heavens or in some spiritual space. Rather he said that he had a vision of what was inside his patients (and by extension, inside himself and all of us).

7Figure 59. Freud's vision was of what was going inside people, inside their minds, the geography of their minds.

The mandala that had moved from the distant past (Eden) to the desert wilderness, to Jerusalem, to the banks of the River Kvar in Babylon, to the future, and then to the furthest reaches of the heavens, visited by a few meditative souls on a heavenly journey, now came back to earth and planted itself firmly inside the Austrian patients of an Austrian doctor.

8Figure 60. An ordinary person, but Freud saw, or thought he saw, a whole inner geography.

He saw the same unknown and unknowable center that produced our religious images and our dreams and deepest wishes and fantasies and thoughts. He saw the same circles and levels and contacts between the levels. He saw the same fears of the innermost parts and the dangers of going too deep, too quickly. And he saw the same ordinary reality and how it was separated from the deepest part, the part that felt most sacred and most frightening to his patients. And he felt that their cure lay in reaching deep into this part that felt divine and infinite to the patients and to understand it.

Psychotherapy, under this portrayal, is essentially a religious (or a meditative) process (and at times a religion) in which the therapist functions as a priest who brings the patient into a relation with the unconscious and unfathomable deity within in a structured, almost ritualistic way, that allows the patient to come to good terms with the deity and thereby be healed.

Why do I say that the unconscious, instinctual impulses can be taken as a deity? It is because Freud, himself, saw it this way. What is God for Freud? It is simply a distorted image of the father projected out. An image of an all-powerful, all-knowing, ever present being resides deep in the Unconscious, and this is the childlike memory of the father. Not only that, deep within the patient is a memory of what Freud called the Primal Scene, that is, a memory or fantasy of the parents having sexual intercourse. This image is repressed deep within the Unconscious, but it, essentially the source of the images of the mating gods as discussed in my main paper on the Jewish mandalas (link above).

To put this another way, when Freud and Freudians turn their analytic gaze at such people as the prophet Ezekiel and imagine them as patients, they take what the prophets experience as visions as just so much material for analysis. These visions are taken as waking dreams or hallucinations which are understood as compromises. Impulses and childhood memories and childhood images stemming from the deepest levels of the Unconscious are trying to come out, but the Super-ego does not want to admit them to consciousness, as they contradict the sensibilities of the Ego. However the impulses are so strong that they threaten to crash through into consciousness, and so the Super-ego allows them to go through, but only a in a distorted form. The unconscious material has to do with Father and Mother in their most powerful and dramatic and emotional forms, as they would have appeared to an infant or to a six year old. These feelings and impulses and impressions burst through into consciousness but in the form of a powerful, god-like figure on a chariot in the sky, or in the center of the center of square (the square being interpreted, from a Freudian point of view, as something like the womb or the vagina of the mother.

Seeing the mandala imagery as internal to the minds of humans is not altogether an invention (or discovery) of Freud. Consider the following (quoted in Luzzato, un-numbered introductory page):

Ezekiel said to the Holy One blessed-be-He: "Master of the World: We are now in exile, and You tell me to go and inform the Jewish People about the plan of the Temple? 'Write it before their eyes, and they will guard all its forms and all its laws and do them.' How can they 'do them'? Leave them until they go out of exile, and then I will tell them." The Holy One blessed-be-He said to Ezekiel: "Just because My children are in exile, does that mean the building of My House should be halted? Studying the plan of the Temple in the Torah is as great as actually building it. Go and tell them to make it their business to study the form of the Temple as explained in the Torah. As their reward for this study, I will give them credit as if they are actually building the Temple."(Midrash Tanchuma, Tzav #14)

So I venture the following developmental steps. The gods of the mandala are experienced outside, in nature, and a building is made to house them and to protect them from us and us from them. As happens, the physical building is destroyed, and the deity and its building is now experienced up in heaven or some such far away place. Alternatively it may be experienced as way in the past (as in the Eden story) or as something that will become real in the distant future (as in Ezekiel's vision of the future temple). But, at some point, possibly due to a skepticism flowing from an infatuation with the scientific method, the whole idea is seen as corrupt and infantile and is discarded. However, since these images lie deep within us and can not be uprooted completely, they pop up again. But how can they pop up for a person who believes in the pure materiality of nature (including the heavens)? It is seen as within us. Not within our bodies which are also material and subject to the laws described by science, but within our minds. The images are seen as having originally been within ourselves, powerful and disturbing memories from our youths, that were not acceptable to our own conscious minds and so are projected out into nature and dealt with out there. Now the projections are taken back.

The same imagery that disappeared, now has popped up in the mind of Freud. Psychology is the latest example of the Jewish mandala. It has the same mystery and the same power and the same fascination for psychologists who see it this way (and not all do), as the Tabernacle and Temple and Eden had for traditional Jews. It is not surprising that Freud compared himself with Moses and thought of Jung as Aaron. He felt he had a message to spread to humanity and that Jung would be his mouthpiece.

I have only given a bare outline of this view, that psychology is the latest heir to the mandala phenomenology. One problem is that the mandala given by Freud is rudimentary. In another paper I hope to present much more material from Freud and from the Freudians to show how the "vision" of Freud became changed and mandalaized more and more. For example, Freudians have written books on the concept of border. Every aspect of Freud's image was doctored with: modified, discarded, elaborated, and so on. For example, Jung rejected the idea that the God image was a cover image for the memory of the biological father. He thought that, deep in the deepest layers of the Unconscious, lay something that is out of our control and essentially not us. This is what we call God. It is not a mere memory or residue from childhood. It is an independent force, separate from the Ego. And so on.

In psychology, the mandala is to be viewed as a picture of the personality or, at least, of part of the personality. Seeing it this way is to see it more as I imagine the Tibetans see it. The psychological process, as a process of coming to terms with the unconscious and its deeper levels, is conceived more as a meditative process of particular individuals and not so much as a collective process of the society. It is an inner process whose path is often lonely and confusing and the end unclear and frightening as opposed to the pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the days of the Temple when the road was clear and the end was known and contained.

There is something more that needs to be added, even in this short presentation of the material. There is a very important feature of Freud's view that needs to be mentioned and that, I think, has significant implications. For those familiar with psychoanalysis, Freud's view of the Id (the Unconscious) is well-known. He feels it is a problem, something to be overcome. He feels he discovered it, but, like an uncharted and dangerous continent, he hopes that one day it will be completely civilized. The famous quote is, "Where id was, there ego shall be. It is a work of culture — not unlike the draining of the Zuider Zee" (Freud, 1965, p. 100).

How should we understand this position? To explain my view, I need to back up a moment. Imagine the time of Ezekiel. The Temple has been plundered and destroyed. Jerusalem itself has been sacked. The Hebrew people (including the priest Ezekiel) are in captivity in Babylon, slaves. They had not dreamed this could happen. They had done nothing wrong. They had entered into an agreement with the Lord, the King of Heaven and Earth, and had lived up to their side. They always assumed they would be cared for and protected. Now, in Babylon, they have time to think about the situation. How did this happen? The answer would have been clear. The evil Nebuchadnezer, King of Babylon was to blame. Surely no other explanation is needed. Nebuchadnezer was an evil and powerful man. He and his people are the problem. But more reflective souls would think to themselves, "Sure Nebuchadnezer is evil and powerful, but how could he have succeeded against us unless the Lord who is mightier than all earthly kings, allowed him to win or even sent him to us and had him destroy us. Maybe Nebuchadnezer was a tool of the Lord. But why? What did we do wrong?"

This would not have been an easy thought to express out loud. For many people it is easier to blame others for their problems then to examine themselves. But, I imagine, men like Ezekiel reflecting about the errors of themselves and their people. Ezekiel's vision is very very clear about the responsibility for the woes of the children of Israel. It is because the center of the Temple had been violated. There were very strict rules for protecting the Lord who lived in the center of the Temple. When Aaron's own sons violated these rules, even from the highest motives, they were instantly destroyed by the Lord with fire. Now too, Ezekiel is told, the Lord has visited this harshness on the whole people because His home had been disrespected. Though a harsh verdict, Ezekiel is able to give the people hope, because he can tell them where they went wrong and what they can do to correct the situation. There will be a future Temple, and, in it, the sanctity of the innermost home of the Lord must be scrupulously respected.

How is this relevant to Freud? I think it translates directly. If we think of the deeper realms of the Unconscious as parallel to the innermost part of the Temple and as the home of the deity, then we can understand Freud's desire to drain the id and his attempt to do so as a violation of the home of the deity. From this angle, Freud is seen as showing a fundamental disrespect towards the contents of the Unconscious, of what we are not conscious of, of what we do not know and can not control. In feeling he could drain the Unconscious and replace it with the Ego, he, in essence but himself and humans, in general, in the place of the deity. He put himself at the center of the universe. This is not just the violation of a religious prohibition, but it is an expression of arrogance and fear and ignorance. It is an error about our place in the universe. Jung criticized Freud's attitude towards the Unconscious in just this way. It is not my idea.

Now we may imagine a modern Ezekiel reflecting, not on the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezer and the Babylonians, but on the destruction of the Jewish people and religious centers by Hitler and the Germans. Many survivors would not want to hear anything about the cause of this modern Holocaust except to blame the evilness of the dictator and of the German people. A few might think to wonder if the Jewish people did anything to bring this on themselves. True, this is similar to blaming the rape victim for the rape, but psychologists, especially, tend to think along these lines. And we might imagine a modern Ezekiel who looked at the latest version of the Jewish mandala, the one proposed by Freud, and wonder if Freud's violation of the center was symptomatic of the attitude of the European Jew. Perhaps there was a certain arrogance, an egocentricity, that forgot the depths and felt it could master everything and that the forces deep within somehow engineered a collapse of the Ego structure much as it did in ancient Jerusalem, Hitler being an instrument of the divine hand much as Nebuchadnezer was in ancient times. Though this would be a painful theory, it would have the virtue of giving Jews (and all people) a blueprint for preventing this type of disaster in the future. This would not be a fake humility or a humility based on the hatred of arrogance in general. It would be deep and genuine awareness of the limitation of our abilities and knowledge and an awareness of how there is another house within ours that we must tend. Freud saw this house inside us, but, inside or out, it does not allow disrespect for long. Psychology, as a guardian of the inner sanctum, has a rough job in a day of iPhones and Hollywood and the curing of diseases and GPS guided missles and flights of our spaceships to outer the furthest regions of outer space.

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Two Approaches to Understanding Psychology

via reflection on the world
via reflection on one's immediate experience
Close




   the One   the Whole
the Sacred
the Ordinary
People
Action
Experience
Consciousness
Universals
feeling stuck
feelings of failing,        of dying
waiting
 waking up — feeling reborn
   focusing   on the self
confronting the   unconscious
the whole person
living in multiple       worlds
learning about     the world
feelings of success,     of the good life