North of Eden, the dreamwork community I am a part of, we practice a radical way of being in relationship which we call The Glass Bead Game. It’s a reference to the Herman Hess novel called The Glass Bead Game only it is not an esoteric and intellectual obscure association game (a shallow interpretation at best). Instead it is about using the surface area of our mutual work in the NOE organization to practice seeing our pathology, owning our reactions and withdrawing our projections. It’s about learning to be in relationship with the Divine and with others at the same time.
It follows the spiritual axiom that whenever we are emotionally disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us (friends of Bill will be familiar with this)! This is a difficult piece of news to swallow and requires the intense commitment of a warrior to truly embrace it. It requires us to know that in each given moment we are the central bead, whole in the love of the Divine and accept the teaching and correction that the dreams bring for us.
Archimandrite Dionysios, an orthodox monk, states that the greatest thing we can do to combat our demons is repentance.
This is what we do in the glass bead game! We repent. We learn to see our shortcomings, to accept the teachings of our leaders and teachers around the pathology that lives hidden in us that we cannot see, and to commit to being a warrior in our effort to eradicate the effects of the demons that haunt us. It requires an immense amount of faith and willingness to repent in each moment when we encounter the enemy in us.
In Archetypal Dreamwork, one of the mechanisms that we employ in this part of the journey is what we call “The Cut”. The Cut is a reference to Carl Jung’s analogy from The Red Book (pg 321) where he takes a sword to his brain so that he will no longer be his brain. All reaction and projection are maintained by our minds. In our community we commit to taking the sword firmly in hand and bringing it down on our brains. The sword is our work, whatever that homework is from our current dreams is what the sword is for us. We bring that moment to whatever is happening and especially when we are emotionally disturbed. This is how we do the cut. This is our commitment to severing the tangled knot that is our brain. Turning back inside of ourselves to take our own personal inventory, shining the light on the enemy within us is an act of repentance. In the relatively safe container of our community, where leaders and teachers can stand with us as the Archetypes stand with us in our dreams, we can practice this radical form of repentance.
But what happens when we take our work into the world in a larger way? When the people around us do not have the same commitment? My teacher, Marc, has said that we cannot experience true healing and transformation unless we take our inner work and bring it to bear in our outer world reality. Faith without works is dead!
If I take the Glass Bead Game out into the world, then, once I can see my part and take responsibility for it, it doesn't matter what the other person does. It doesn’t matter that they are not in the game. Because at that point, I am the central bead and have a place in my heart for God, a place from which I can be in conversation with Him. It creates an opening in me for the love. Just the simple act of repentance is also like taking the knife to my heart. I can carry my sorrow in my heart even when the other cannot. Many cannot, so perhaps we must carry it for them. Perhaps from this love can spring the ability for me to also repent for the sins of others, or perhaps this happens regardless of whether or not I feel the love. Repentance is no less than what Christ did when he died on the cross, because to repent for my own sins without the need for the other to repent is a higher truth for me. Perhaps this is why Salome tells Carl in The Red Book that Mary is his mother, that he is Christ (pg 252). We all have the capacity to be a Christ, to step fully into our life, to own what we have become, to repent and forgive and to experience the transformation that is to die to our higher selves so that we may also rise again into a more enlightened state of consciousness.