- Some fragments of a work in progress regarding the necessity of a purification in the depths of the unconscious, and the humility and spiritual fertility found therein: i.e., alchemical buried gold.
References to 'dung' in the traditions
"We compare ourselves to the animals - actually, that's an insult to the poor animals. We're worse than they are. One day I was trying to think of something to compare myself to, and I finally settled on a dung beetle. But, after I really thought about it, I realized I wasn't being fair to the poor thing. A dung beetle's purpose is to cut up manure, piece by piece, to make little lumps out of it and make it disappear. But I - a rational human being and creation in the image and likeness of God, - I collect manure in the form of my sins and carry it to God's temple. And the worse part is that I'd never let anyone call me a dung beetle, or even a donkey - and everyone knows the hard, patient work donkeys do for people, and in the end everyone forgets about them."
(Hieromonk Isaac, Elder Paissos of Mount Athos
(Chalkidiki, Greece: The Holy Monastery "Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian), p. 363-364).
cite - Job on his dung-hill (of humility)
Story of Kabir and the king of Bokhara, summarized from Tales of the Mystic East and other sources:
Saint Kabir's wife Mai Loi asks him why he should not give the king of Bokhara spiritual initiation. Kabir told her that he wasn't ready (in the old days Masters tested their disciples for a long time before giving them inner experience). She said he certainly looked like he was ready. Kabir said, let's see, and the king goes to work in their household for six long years, doing menial work without a word of complaint. Mai Loi said to Kabir, "the king is certainly ready now." But Kabir replied, "as far as I can see, his mind is not yet crystal clear." Then Kabir asks her to go to the roof and throw the entire sweepings of the house on the king's head when he passed by. The king gets upset and said if only they were in Bokhara she would not dare do that to him. So another six years pass. Finally, one day Kabir said to his wife, "now he is ready to receive the Nectar." His wife saw no change in the king, whereupon Kabir then told her go to the roof and pour the "night waste" [i.e., contents of the chamber pot] on the king's head. The king's reaction this time, however, was, "Oh Lord, I am even worse than that!" And, "as Kabir Sahib gazed on the king, the king's soul swiftly ascended, traversed the upper realms and ultimately merged in the Supreme Being. After this, Kabir Sahib said to the king, "Your devotion has been completed. Now, return to your kingdom."
“Once a guru said to his disciples, ‘Please bring me something which you think is inferior to you.’ The disciple could not find anything inferior to him, and at last decided that filth must be worse than him. When he was about to pick up some filth, it said, ‘Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me! I have come to this degraded state because of human contact. When I was delicious food people loved me, and, now I am a despicable object.’ Hearing this the disciple’s ego was crushed..He realized that nothing was inferior to him.”
(Ramakrishna As We Saw Him
, (Vedanta Society of St. Louis, 1990), p. 111)
"One of God's servants once said, "It would be better that you gather dung by obedience than be caught up into the third heaven by your own will."
These are very profound yet pithy statements. They refer to the fact that the ego can go all the way up in terms of spiritiual experiences, and only by its undermining from the very beginning
is a proper foundation laid for such forms of expanded consciousness. As the Gospel states:
"Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it."
Alchemy - dreams:
In my own case, when I first stepped onto the "path," at age twenty-one, I had a number of "celestial" or astral types of dreams or experiences. In truth, these were really forms of encouragement for a further work I was not as yet aware of. But one day there was a specific dream, epiphanic in quality, wherein all of a sudden I felt alone, awake in an empty space, when a hole opened up in my solar plexus and what I intuited as my life force began to gush out, and I yelled, “I’m going to die!” It took a few years, but this began a descent into a long dark night of the soul where my naive pursuit of subtle heavenly glory were demolished. Many years later, after and as a continuing process of deeper incarnation took place, experiences of what I have referred to as 'dumpster diving' became more frequent, mostly in the dream state. For instance, repetitive dreams have been: (1) being in my house which is made of cardboard, getting wet in a storm and fear of it falling down, being without foundation or support; or, finding many people in my house/room, crowding me out of my own place. This reminds me of a Twilight Episode call "Nothing in the Dark" (available on YouTube) where an old lady in a basement apartment who is afraid of death is broken into my a stranger (Robert Redford) who is Death, unbeknownst to her, and in which also an apartment manager comes to tell her that the city has condemned her building and she must vacate. Clearly this is a metaphor for a deeper releasing of the 'house' of body-identification; (2) I am looking for a bathroom stall in a hotel or locker room and can't find one with a door on it anywhere, or without shit everywhere; each one reeks of shit, is full of shit, dirty with shit, and so am I, there is no privacy or escape from the embarrassment or filth; (3) I am trying to find a place to adjust someone (I am a chiropractor), but everywhere I go people have taken over my space, even my tables; finally I work on a gay man I once knew whose skin turns into a mass of greasy acne-like lumps, then becomes reptilian flesh; as I pull his head to traction his neck, an 'alien-like' micro-cephalic cretinous head pops out of his neck in my hands, and I feel disgusting and dirty like one in a classic Buddhist hell! In the dream the words of Sri Aurobindo came to mind, "No, it is not with the Empyrean that I am busy, I wish it were. It is rather with the opposite end of things"
; I awake feeling like a grub, but also somewhat amused that there was some insight into that while in the dream; (4) periodic frights with either a bear or a wolf threatening me; lately I have had the (dream-state) courage to yell fiercely and swing at it, although once to such an extent that I woke up at the foot of my bed with my nose badly smashed into the floor; my wife also tells me of many nightmares of which I am entirely unaware of. Many of these forms of dream experience are really not uncommon, perhaps as the relative conceits of childhood and its innocence wear off or are outgrown.
"And the light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not."
In a book by Jungian psychologist/astrologer Liz Greene called Dynamics of the Unconscious, I found what was for my experience a remarkably appropriate and synchronous paragraph:
“One of the most common alchemical dream-motifs is shit, which is often an embarrassing topic to discuss with anybody but which in dreams often heralds the beginning of facing some previously undeveloped and unconscious aspect of oneself. Toilet dreams are extremely common, particularly the dream where one is trying to find a loo in order to have a shit (check), but there is no loo, or there are already fifteen people in it (check!), or it doesn’t flush, and so on. When one begins to actually work on the personal associations connected with dreams of this kind, they open up all kinds of feelings of shame, embarrassment, vulnerability and guilt which lead straight to a confrontation with the shadowy aspects of the personality.”
(Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas, Dynamics of the Unconscious
(York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1988), p. 264-5)
She further writes:
"Dreams of shit also pertain to the motif of the coagulatio
[a stage in alchemy pertaining to incarnation, i.e., where one makes concrete what was previously unborn and ethereal; it is ruled by Saturn, and is associated with a sense of denseness, crucifixion, loneliness, individuation, and a coming into awareness of the body]. Freud placed great importance on feces, because this is the first thing the young child produces alone, without mother's help. The first display of individual creative power manifesting as a concrete object...For this reason, gold and shit are often analogous in alchemical texts, because the coagulate is often the stage which produces the gold - the individuality crystallized here and now in actual life. Alchemical gold is found in living life, not in transcending it."
(Ibid, p. 311)
Amazing to find that I was not the only one who is full of shit - and "Holy shit" at that! (The irrepressible George Carlin had some funny and wise things to say on this subject