The Great Gamble
Buddhist activist and wise woman Joanna Macy refers to this time as the Great Turning. I like to call it the Great Gamble.
Rumi wrote, “Gamble everything for love, if you are a true human being.”
Simple and succinct, but what does it mean to gamble? What does it mean to ante up, to fold, to stay in, to bluff, to bet double or nothing? What does it mean to have an ace up your sleeve as you sit at Mystery’s gambling table? How do you play the game of Life and what are the stakes — for you, for humanity, for the world and all its inhabitants?
What does it mean to love, since love is perhaps one of the most overused and can be one of the most misleading words in the English language? How does the concept and experience of love change for you as you go through your days? What breaks your heart?
What does it mean to be a true human being? How do you recognize one? What do you long for in the depths of your humanity? Are there human qualities you long to see embodied in those around you and in yourself? Do you feel them buried somewhere inside you, or close to the surface? Are you willing to become habitat for endangered human qualities?
In Apocalypse 101 I went over some of the fundamentalist basics. Here I’d like to bring in some other views of the Apocalypse, in hopes of stirring a feeling of mythic adventure in you, because maybe you were made for these times and have a part to play.
In 1910, James Morgan Pryse wrote Apocalypse Unsealed. Though Pryse is brilliant, he is a product of his times and so is the book. He considers the initiatory process that is expressed symbolically in the Book of Revelation to be the work of several lifetimes, with the goal to create a solar body, an immortal vehicle, and to be free of birth and death in a material body. Though he writes of the initiatory ordeal of human birth and death, he writes precious little about the purpose of this reincarnatory process, other than the creation of this immortal solar body.
As a 21st century woman, in a time when we are seeing the results of a human mindset that desecrates matter, I have to wonder why we are supposedly set up to go to all this trouble of life after life if the only point is to stop having to experience life after life in a human body with all its troubles and sexuality and other self/other challenges.
If the zodiac, the seven chakras, alchemy, and kundalini are alive for you in ways that aren’t merely conceptual, then this book is genius (with the above mentioned caveat) as Pryse outlines the initiatory ordeals involved in the kundalini energy making its way through the seven chakras. I’m wanting to travel light here, so won’t go into that particular arena, because that could be a whole website in itself. Those who are interested can take that up on their own.
The take away from his book: Apocalypse as initiatory ordeal.
Jungian Edward F. Edinger also alludes to initiatory ordeal in his book The Archetype of the Apocalypse, as well as a possible purpose of human embodiment other than trying to get away from it: The wedding of Divine and matter in an individual human being, the embodiment of Mystery via an ego that is open and willing to undergo that initiatory ordeal.
I wasn’t the only one to notice that Pryse’s book, for all its brilliance, carried the anti-sex, anti-woman, anti-embodiment, anti-earth conditioning so common to metaphysics. Michael Wassil took the time to dig and question and found tantra at the core of the Apocalypse, underneath the level of what Pryse was able to understand, and claims that “the method hidden in the Apocalypse is learning to trust and believe in the force of passionate, personal and romantic love…in amor the entire psyche partakes of sexual intimacy.” http://www.dance-of-ecstasy.net/
Though I think that tantra has in some circles become overly focused on less-than-conscious sex and that can become as troublesome as being focused on non-sex, studying the Apocalypse, at this time when the Apocalyptic archetype is so prevalent, has also brought me to a place in consciousness of passionate, personal and romantic love — with the world itself, in the sense of embodiment in this world as love gift from the Beloved, a place where Mystery is always seeking to steal a kiss and I am always seeking to be awake for it.
In that sense I fully agree with Mr. Wassil: “For in the ultimate meaning revealed in the Apocalypse we learn that life and existence are a cosmic love affair of consciousness with itself. And we are the events of that love affair!”
One version of Christianity truncates the initiatory ordeal by positing Christ as the One who went through the ordeal, and all the rest of us have to do is believe in him, and we’re spared that work. You can see the similarity with LaHaye’s ‘blessed hope’ of being spared physical death: a profound disconnect from embodiment as a holy event, a direct result of the dualism that has lived in some traditions of human consciousness, the anti-earth, anti-sex, anti-woman, anti-matter, War of good and evil: the self/other war, which — if you are an earthling, and have a feminine aspect regardless of your gender identification — includes a self/other war within yourself. End the self/other war in yourself and the murderous version of the apocalypse loses habitat while the love version of the apocalypse gains habitat.
Frederick Carter’s book The Dragon and the Alchemists was published in 1926. D.H. Lawrence was deep in correspondence with Carter and wrote an intended introduction, which later became his own book, Apocalypse and the Writings of Revelation.
…the Alchemists truly strove to find a path through the labyrinth of the interior life of the mind – and as they were assiduous students of the ancient authors and professed to obtain deeper meanings from myths, meanings related to the soul, therefore they are to be taken seriously as being of the succession of psychologists. As to the accuracy or otherwise of their philosophy, that is not easy to estimate, owing to the fearful care with which they concealed the full meaning of their writings, and so tangled and perplexing are these, that it is hardly given to any man to declare that he expounds their true thought. Yet, in spite of this veil of obscurity, there is much to be gleaned therefrom, and that of threefold interest – as being of the history of psychology, as illustrative of its contemporary expression in thought and literature, and lastly as a manifestation of a study of myths – as enlightening a universal system of symbol.
We run into the same problem with Revelation – has it been tampered with and overwritten, as some think, and If so, how much? We can wonder how much Carter’s work was diminished as he sought to make it accessible. D.H.Lawrence wrote:
The Dragon as it exists now is no longer the Dragon which I read in Mexico. It has been made more — more argumentative, shall we say. Give me the old manuscript and let me write an introduction to that! I urge. But: No, says Carter. It isn’t sound.
Sound what? He means his old astrological theory of the Apocalypse was not sound, as it was exposed in the old manuscript. But who cares? We do not care, vitally, about theories of the Apocalypse: what the Apocalypse means. What we care about is the release of the imagination.
Who cares about explaining the Apocalypse, either allegorically or astrologically or historically or any other way. All one cares about is the lead that the symbolic figures give us, and their dramatic movement . . . if it leads to a release of the imagination into some sort of new world, then let us be thankful, for that is what we want. . . . What we want is complete imaginative experience, which goes through the whole soul and body.
. . . As for my soul, I simply don’t and never did understand how I could ‘save’ it . One can save one’s pennies. But how can one save one’s soul? One can only live one’s soul. The business is to live, really alive. And this needs wonder.
I flat out adore this: We do not care, vitally, about theories of the Apocalypse: what the Apocalypse means. What we care about is the release of the imagination. Perhaps it is always a struggle to express a vision or a symbolic understanding in writing, and translation, editing and academic understanding only compounds the problem. Mind on its own cannot read it well; but in combination with heartful, soulful literacy, the visions that those who came before us have written down can be accessed in a good way.
next up: Map of the Apocalypse