Why it’s hard to change after we die

Thursday, May 5, 2011

8 AM. Well, guys, it occurs to me that what you are giving me applies to interpersonal relationships in the body, no less. We all deal with a certain combination of factors that we elicit, and someone else dealing with that person elicits a slightly different combination – or even a radically different combination. If I and a woman are in love, I may never experience the sharp side of her tongue that others experience all too often – until suddenly I do, and the honeymoon is over.

The analogy is close enough to be instructive, provided that you realize that she herself is not dealing with an unchanging unit. People in bodies, especially – but out of bodies, too – tend to think themselves exceptions to rules that govern everyone else. Or rather, they don’t think of the rules when thinking of themselves. It isn’t that they consciously decide “I’m different.” Rather, they never put themselves into a context in which “they” themselves disappear and reappear, according to mood and circumstance, like illusions on celluloid.

Good to see that we don’t become any more perfect on the other side. That’s a tendency I had, and many others still have – to think, once out of the body, perfection.

No, but it’s more like, once out of the body, what you are is a hell of a lot harder to change than when in the body.

Let’s go into that a little, unless you have other fish to fry. At first I thought “of course,” then I started wondering.

Yes, why should it be so hard to change that we nearly had you say “nearly impossible”? It is very strictly a matter of environment, and easily explained – except, the trouble is, the difference between the reality of what we need to talk about (on the one hand) and everybody’s horseback definitions about it, is so huge, it makes communication hard. Not impossible, but hard, and after all, communicating subtle and seemingly impractical or inessential differences is the job you love to do.

Yes. Dr. Jung – I feel your presence waiting, though I don’t know why the guys should segue to you in particular. I wasn’t thinking of this as particularly a psychological phenomenon.

Everything to do with human reactions in or out of the body is a psychological phenomenon. If you will think of the ideal psychologist as a priest without firm dogma and without a hierarchy into which his activities and discoveries must be fitted, you will better sense the congruence. In other societies, the functions of psychiatrist, priest, artist, and devotee were not considered to be separate and specialized, and they did much better.

Consider humanity in the scheme that is being developed with your help. That is, consider what has been sketched out for you, using your habit patterns, language, analogies and subject matter. And, by the way, in this context please remember that “humanity” need not mean only humans as they exist on planet Earth, but may be considered to include any race of similar construction living in three-dimensional time-space, anywhere. It is a generic pattern we are about to explore, not one limited for some reason to those aspects living on planet Earth.

Anyone living may be considered to be the ring-master holding together disparate elements that together comprise that being’s possibilities and limitations. Anything the individual is to express, it is to express because something in the outside world called it forth. External conditions did not cause the manifestation, though often enough it will seem that way; nonetheless outside conditions manifest what finds resonance within the individual.

Where are you to find “external” conditions once outside the body? However, this statement does not mean quite what it first appears to mean, so we need to proceed a little deeper. For the purpose of illustration, we will take you yourself, Frank, with your permission to slightly invade your privacy.

Of course.

There is Frank. He is ring-master of a group of strands the sum total of whose expression at any time is what he and others consider to be Frank. Oh, perhaps Frank in different moods, Frank in different stages of his life, Frank as he has gained or lost ground against specific weaknesses, or has gained abilities or let them rust – but, Frank. A somewhat known commodity. Mysterious at base, of course, as everyone is – unknowable at the core – but, a graspable abstraction, a recognizable persona. The persona will differ according to the person interacting with him or even considering him; still, as in your study of Hemingway, a recognizable somewhat known commodity, regardless how violently points of view about him may diverge.

Yet at some point Frank learns that there are others active and alive within him. He thinks of them at first as past lives, and comes to see that he might as well think of them as stories he tells himself to explain certain very concrete characteristics. So, David the Welsh journalist and psychic investigator; Joseph the nature-loving men of the West; various priests at various times when being a priest meant different things; magicians and would-be magicians and others. And in time he begins to consider why these manifested as past life story and not other characteristics. Why so few women, for instance. Why so little detail on any of the lives, compared with so sharp and meaningful an emotion or feeling here and there.

Yet – is this Frank? Consciously known traits and “past life” sources of those traits? The answer depends entirely upon how enthusiastically and persistently you care to dig. Clearly the connections to the other side might almost be considered a different kind of past life – different mainly in the difference of an influence being perceived as coming from outside rather than inside.

To stay with our main purpose here and now, however. While confined within the body, Frank’s psyche is on the one hand held by certain limitations and is on the other hand exposed to the certain opportunities to express or repress or alter certain connections contained within his bundle of possibilities. This is the purpose of life and physical existence, as has been repeatedly asserted: to create a lasting set of relationships by the repetitive exercise of choice based in values.

Once the artificial bonds of the body are released, what changes?

For one thing, the barrier between present and all-time dissolves. This in effect dissolves the distinct Frank into the total so that he is Frank-in-context rather than Frank-in-isolation. This changes his experience of himself while preserving the net result of so much choice.

You can see, perhaps, that in effect he spreads out vastly, as all the connections in all directions, along each strand, become or present to him as those within the ring had been while his consciousness was confined by the physical and all that comes with the physical. [I take this to mean, things that had been remote while my consciousness was confined to the physical world become as present as the things that I had been aware of.]

Another change is that the physical world in effect disappears. But this must be understood carefully. In a sense, I am only repeating what I said earlier: The barrier between present and all-time dissolves. It is only your being kept on the point of the ever-present-moment that focuses your mind on the earth in such a way that there is such a thing as today or tomorrow or yesterday. It is only to keep you focused that life in the physical consists of two different qualities – “now” and “not-now” – with “now” always being urgent and inescapable and “not-now” being, in effect, stage-setting.

With the body gone, there is no mechanism for holding your accustomed ring. You realize how vastly greater you are, and you lose the distorting effect of “now.”

So in these changed circumstances, the forces that might lead you or enable you to change are at the periphery of your consciousness, not at the forefront. What would it take to change Carl Jung from the physical? You would have to bend metal without fire or hammer.

Spoon bending is the analogy that comes to mind.

And it is a good analogy, for spoons are bent by aligning yourself and the composition of the spoon and inclining it to follow you. That is one way the process might be described, anyway. That is the way that the disembodied may be influenced.

A note on the side, and then it will be class dismissed for the day. The custom of praying for the dead has its roots in previous awareness of the susceptibility of the disembodied to sustain intent – and where can intent be sustained better than three-dimensional time space? It is unfortunate that the practice became so encrusted with cultural artifact as to lose its intelligibility to the “modern” mind, so that the link between Oriental ancestor worship and Occidental prayers for the dead has become obscured to the point of invisibility. But within this context you can see it clearly enough perhaps.

I can. Thank you for this intricate but brilliantly clear exposition. Do you yourself need prayers on your behalf?

Go into that subject – not necessarily in connection with CG Jung – at another time when you are fresh.

All right. Again, thanks.

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