Becoming Whole

January 9, 2009

image credit: Eddi 07

What ails you? This is the right question that the knight must ask the Fisher King in the Grail Legend. In one version of this legend, the king lives in his castle with the grail. He has a wound that does not heal and all about him, his kingdom is a wasteland. He can only be healed when a knight finds the castle and the grail and asks the right question. Only then will the king return to health and the land become green and fertile again. If the knight does not ask the question, the castle vanishes and the knight must start the search for the grail all over again.

In this legend, a common Jungian interpretation is that the Fisher King represents the  Self, his wound is a symbol of the split between the rational mind and the Self or the divine aspect of our being. The wound never heals unless the right question is asked; unless we begin to do self-inquiry, contemplating, ” Who am I?” or as the legend states, “What ails you?” This form of self-inquiry leads us on the path to wholeness.

Many of us are like the knight who arrives at the castle and sees the king but fails to ask the question. We are spiritual tourists; we go to visit sacred sites, we go to meet venerated spiritual teachers, we read spiritual books and fall in love with the trappings of spirituality. We miss the opportunity to truly begin the hero’s journey that will bridge the divide between the ego and the Self. It is fitting that the path to wholeness is called the hero’s journey because it takes courage, a willingness to be stripped of what ails us; our ego and its accoutrements. Indeed the journey requires us to leave behind all that separates us from Truth; sometimes relationships and careers end if they are obstacles. It is a perilous undertaking of mythic comparison.

The myths of many cultures teach us about man’s return to wholeness, the path to self-realization. These myths in general relate to the spirit of man descending into the underworld, the dark realms, in search of some treasure, a lover, a child until he finds that symbol of value. He then triumphantly returns from the underworld, united with what was lost and  is celebrated on his return home. These myths are symbols of the journey that we each must take to find ourselves, the return to wholeness, of knowing the truth of who we really are. The hero’s journey, descending into the underworld or entering the forest is equivalent in modern psychology to exploring the unconscious in search of meaning or the spiritual seeker contemplating the age old question, “Who am I?”

Until we consciously embark on the hero’s journey, the spiritual healing journey, our wounded-ness takes the form of chronic anxiety, depression, and an inability to give and receive love. We maintain an outlook of scarcity rather than abundance, we lack compassion, and we feel hopeless. In her book, The Tao of Psychology, Jean Shinoda Bolen MD says, “In a competitive, materialistic society, where cynicism toward spiritual values exists, and neither scientific nor psychological thinking gives any importance to the realm of the spirit, individuals feel isolated and insignificant. Seeking sexual intimacy to cure isolation or seeking assertiveness as a solution to feeling insignificant does not heal the wound. When the ego is cut off from experiencing the Self—or, put differently, when an individual lacks the inner sense of being connected to God or being part of the Tao—then a wound exists that the person experiences as gnawing, pervasive, persisting insecurity.”

The practice of contemplating, ” Who am I?” or “What ails you?’ is one way of getting in touch with the divine aspect of our being. We must diligently turn inward through a form that resonates with us. It might be prayer, sitting or moving meditation, chanting, dreamwork analysis, art, dance, Tai Chi and a myriad other ways. In fact everything you do in daily life is a pathway to the divine, with the perspective that everything is a manifestation of God. We must engage in the inward aspect of the form we choose that propels us out of the mundane into the divine. And like the Fisher King, we begin to heal and the land of our beingness once again becomes  filled with joy, clarity, intuition and where new growth takes place in a fertile inner environment.

Joseph Campbell in an interview with Bill Moyers had this to say of that experience of the return to wholeness, “This is Eden. When you see the kingdom spread upon the earth, the old way of living in the world is annihilated. That is the end of the world, The end of the world is not an event to come, it is an event of psychological transformation, of visionary transformation. You see not the world of solid things but a world of radiance.”

In the Navajo tradition there is a beautiful song describing the path to wholeness:The Pollen Path. Pollen is life giving. The song reminds us that the journey does not have some far off destination. This life is the path and the destination.

In the house of life I wander
On the pollen path.
With a god of cloud I wander
To a holy place.
With a god ahead I wander
And a god behind.
In the house of life I wander
On the pollen path.

Related posts:

Letting Go Part 4

Living With Paradox Part 1

What Ails You

{ 12 comments }

1 Alexys Fairfield 01.10.09 at 2:03 pm

Hi Miruh,
I like the whole concept of making one whole – they even use that term in the legal system – when one sues, one wants to be made whole. I like what you said about people being spiritual tourists. That’s very true, they prefer to look but not buy. There is a term for that too used in real estate called “lookiloos.”

We can read all the masters, practice all the exercises until we are blue in the face but the only one who can make us whole is us. We just have to realize it. 😀

2 Simon 01.10.09 at 3:10 pm

Hi Miruh – I’m smiling because this seems to relate to what I’ve just been blogging about myself, which is the same comment you made the last time you left a comment on *my* site! We seem to be working as a team here. :-)

In this case, the connection may be more apparent to me than it would be to a casual reader. I keep writing about the need to feel – and so release – our suppressed emotions, because this is very much what is going on with me at the moment. And reading your post, I realize that this is indeed my spiritual journey, my descent into the ‘dark realms’.

In my experience, once the darkness inside us is released, the light comes in and Eden is revealed. …For a short while, at least, until *more* darkness emerges, requiring to be released. Someone who just emailed me described this process as a dance, a dance between light and dark. I’d been assuming that this process must be similar for everyone, but as you wisely point out, we must all do what resonates for us. Perhaps others experience things differently?

Thanks so much for a wise and well presented post. It has shown me a new perspective on the spiritual journey, which – as you say – is a journey to somewhere very close at hand.

3 Maithri 01.10.09 at 4:23 pm

Ah my friend,

Woundedness and the ‘Becoming whole’ are ideas which have always resonated with me…

I like the idea of perfection in imperfection…

Our wounds as our path to healing…

As you so beautifully articulate… Life is the path and the destination,

Thank you for being in this world,

Deep love, M

PS award for you at my place

4 Miruh 01.10.09 at 10:50 pm

Hello Alexys,

LOL! Your unique humorous perspective always amuses me.

Sometime being a lookiloo is as painful as slaying dragons in the dark realms. You know what you have to do and you are afraid. That can be painful, but we don’t know it until we do it and it is so often that we say, “why did it take me so long to get here?”

Blessings for an easeful journey on the path to wholeness. 😀

5 Miruh 01.10.09 at 11:17 pm

Hello Simon,

Aah, there’s only one mind, and sometimes we get to really relate to that!

A few years back, I had an insight which I want to share with you. I may be totally off, but I like this outlook. It occurred to me that if we lived many, many lifetimes, then we can be spending all of our lives dealing with clearing out old emotional baggage.

We have to be present to emotions when they show up and just let them go and not get too concerned about going deeper and exploring them etc. I like the Buddhist way of naming them and holding ourselves with loving-kindness and like unwanted thoughts, so too these emotions are like passing clouds in the sky of our minds. A kind of mindfulness of feelings and letting them go as they will always be showing up, we have many life-times of impressions. Like dragons, you can’t slay them, but you can tame them.

I like to work with practices that focus on bringing light that shines into our darkness, there has to be a balancing act in the practices we do, we can’t negate our woundedness yet we must be careful not to focus on them. I like meditation, chanting and yoga as well as doing artwork, and keeping a dream journal. Body work is helpful to keep it all balanced.

It is different for each of us I think and we need to listen to our hearts, what we need changes at different junctures along the way.

Thanks for sharing.
May you bask in the joy of your healing journey!

6 Miruh 01.10.09 at 11:38 pm

Hello Maithri,

I feel so much healing energy in the poems you write. It reminds me of an incident when my daughter was five years old.

She came home terribly upset and was sobbing so violently because she was rejected by her best friend, who lived next door.
I could not comfort her in her misery. I left her and went on with my chores. Not long after, she came skipping to me, with the most cheerful ambiance and handed me a little slip of paper. When I looked at it, I saw a little drawing of someone looking out a window high up in a castle with guards, drawbridge and mote, saying, “no, no.”

When I read your poems I get a similar feeling, art is a great healer,”Our wounds are a path to healing.”

Thank you for the award, it means a lot to me that you appreciate my writing, You have been a great support and source of inspiration. I cherish your positive energy and your focus on bringing lightness and joy to all, even though you are dealing with the most challenging circumstances in your work. You are a true healer!

Sending you soft love and deep peace my friend. 😀

7 Liara Covert 01.11.09 at 10:07 am

Discussions on wholeness inspire people to regain the inner balance and the insight they presumed to have lost somewhere along their journey. It may seem surprising, but as a person learns to suppress counter-productive thoughts and emotions, that person realizes that wholeness has always been a reality for everyone. Individuals simply choose to blurr clarity and rock inner stability in order to find their way back to the truth. Meditation and mental discipline exercises help enormously. Anyone can choose to shift thought patterns from what keeps them where they are and what they choose to see.

8 Liara Covert 01.11.09 at 10:10 am

You gently invite your readers to reconnect with the love in their hearts and souls. Your post reminds us that as we explore the soul journeys other people choose to share, this empowers us to explore our own lives and perceptions differently. This is very meaningful.

9 Miruh 01.11.09 at 12:30 pm

Hello Liara,

This is true, “Individuals simply choose to blur clarity and rock inner stability in order to find their way back to the truth. ”
In eastern mysticism they refer to the Play of Consciousness, where divinity descends into form and loses all identification with divinity and identifies with form. The spiritual healing journey is about reconnecting with the divine aspect again. A play!

As always you bring much wisdom to the conversation, thank you!

10 Miruh 01.11.09 at 12:38 pm

Hello Liara,

Thanks for your beautiful words, the journey is more easeful with a community of kindred souls. We support and embrace each other with the love we are reconnecting with. This is the journey and the destination, seeing and living our interconnectedness, our divine aspect.

Much love to you, my friend!

11 Mark 01.12.09 at 8:06 am

To be on the heroes journey is to feel connected with source. Being connected with source is a state of being. This state of being is enhanced with our awareness and understand that we are never disconnected from source and that all lies within our choice.

12 Miruh 01.12.09 at 3:18 pm

Mark, you speak of the hero’s journey so eloquently.

Yes, we are always free to choose; our inner state is not dependent on our outer circumstances as Victor Frankl’s writes in Man’s Search for Meaning, about his experience in the concentration camp.
As you pointed out, awareness is the key, to recognize that we are never alone.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom here my friend.

May awareness of your connection to the source be your constant experience. :)

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