PREFACE

These observations on the Creative Process are divided into four sections: first, an Introduction presents an overview of the entire process, briefly describing the four major stages, including summary definitions. Section Two is an amplification of each of the four steps in the process.

Section Three includes articles on the overall process, showing how the four steps relate to one another. It also includes articles about the relationship between the Creative Process and other subjects, such as, power, time, consciousness, theology, and self.

Finally, personal confessions about my own discoveries and involvement in the process are included in Section Four. Primarily, these are pages from my journal written while I was becoming aware of the Creative Process.

COPYRIGHT

This book is available here for free reading or study by any individual. It may also be secured in printed form Quail Ridge Press, as are my other publications. However, the material is copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any form without my written permission. If you wish to read further, select a page from the contents on the left.

 

INTRODUCTION

To be is to be creative. Creativity is innate in human capacity. When you are being yourself, you are being creative. We come to think of creativity as a special talent possessed by a gifted few because we are so often out of touch with the natural processes of human nature, because we are more often not-being-ourselves than we are being-who-we-are.

Creative people, such as artists or sculpturers, are not so much specially blessed as they are closer to being their natural selves during periods of creativity. We ordinary folks, when we occasionally (or rarely) have a creative urge, or, do something creative for a change, are not so much possessed as we are, during such a time, more in contact with our real selves than when we are caught up in various ego states.

We become creative, that is, when we return to ourselves. I am creative, I now see, when I am being myself rather than pretending to be what/who I am not. When I am caught up in various dishonest habits I have well-learned in quest of survival, I lose both my creative urges and my creative abilities.

I presume the same to be true for others.

WHAT IS CREATIVITY?

In broadest perspective, creativity is a synonym for being yourself.   As noted, when one is "being himself," he is "being creative." But what does this mean? How can we see or understand "being creative" or "being yourself?"

Creativity is most easily recognized in the works of artists, such as, painters of sculpturers, that is, in the products of creativity. But the works are not creative; the artists are. The paintings, for example, are but the end product of the creative process, the things-done by a creative artist.

I am less concerned here with the "doings" than with the "being," with the results than with the process. What is the process of creativity? The nature of a creative act? What is happening when an artist is creating a work of art?

If we shift attention from the end product, the painting or sculpture, back to the process from which it emerges, from the painting itself to the painter-while-painting, what do we find? What is going on in the artist during the creative process? What distinguishes this creative mode-of-being (which I have identified with "being yourself") from the more familiar times when one is not living creatively, not-being-himself?

BEING VERSUS DOING

 

The first distinction to be understood is between being and doing, between the inwardness of the artist and the outwardness of what is done. Being creative is to be distinguished from that which is done (or not done) while one is being creative. One can be creative and do nothing, or do things without being creative.

Being creative may or may not be expressed in outward acts things, such as, paintings, or deeds, such as, heroic acts. Most commonly this inward way-of-being will be expressed/revealed in outward acts things or deeds; but not necessarily so. The most creative of all acts may be to exist creatively without revealing oneself, without making something or doing anything.

In either case, this first distinction between being creative, existing in a creative state, and doing something creative (making a thing or acting out), is critical in understanding the nature of creativity.

I am dealing here with the nature of this inward state of being, not with outward objects or actions which may or may not spring from the inward process. My subject is living creatively, not doing so-called creative things. Although one who is being creative will most often be doing things creatively, I am here considering only the first, the nature of this process or state-of-being. What is happening when we are being creative, whether or not we make things (e.g., art) or do creative acts without objects to show for them?

CREATIVE PROCESS

A further distinction, valuable in understanding, is to see the difference between a static state-of-being, e.g., being creative, and the lively process which is named thereby. Being creative, a certain way-of-being, sounds like a noun (way is a noun); actually, in reality, it is always and only a verb; more literally, a participle (an "ing" word, like being; not an it).

Creativity is always a lively process, continually on-going, never static or still, certainly not dead (as are nouns). For language (or writing) purposes we may reduce the verbals to nouns, but in reality the process is always actively evolving, never existent in a dead state. Like pushing the Pause Button on a VCR, we may, for thought or speech purposes, fast freeze the process in our mind's eye; but this is academic, intellectual only. In reality, the process is like the on-going movie which the Pause Button but temporarily interrupts. We stop it in our minds in order to analyze (as here), to see it more clearly or to talk about it; but we cannot do this with the process itself. To do so is to kill it.

In other words, creativity only exists in the lively process of itself. When we stop it, we kill it. It--ourselves-as-ourselves, ceases to exist whenever we stop being creative-- the process itself.

Creativity then is always a happening, an on-going process, an event which can be experienced but not captured, except in our mind's eye-- at least not without stopping it (ourselves). It is an it (a noun) only for language purposes; otherwise it is living.

We can be being creative, but we cannot have creativity; to possess creativity requires reducing the lively process to a dead state which, so far, I have been unable to do. Just when I think I have it, it's gone--or I am.

THE PROCESS ITSELF

Recognizing this as an academic endeavor only (although I may be being creative while writing), I want now to attempt an analysis, to break down the lively process into steps, parts, or phases. If I push the Pause Button, in my mind=s eye, on this continually evolving process of being myself (being creative), what do I find? What distinguishable steps do I see? In the overall creative experience, what are its phases? What comes first? What is next? What is the end point which signals beginning again?

Linear language which exists in a flat plane only, proceeding in time and space from one step to another, each following that which precedes it, proves to be useful but quite limiting when I strive for clear description. If I could add three dimensions to speech, making the process like a spiral which moves both forward and up (or back and down) at the same time, perhaps I would be better satisfied. But I can=t; alas, language is two dimensional onlyC forward and back; step one, then step two, step three, step four, etc.

So I use it, necessitating the reduction from the spiral which creativity is, to the 1, 2, 3, 4 process which it isn=t. While doing so, I hope I won=t forget the literal impossibility of what I attempt, or fall into self-judgment when I see the limitations of my own language in trying to reduce to these dead pages what I see in my lively mind=s eye.

I=ll see...

STAGES

 

OVERVIEW

The natural process of human experience, seen here as the Creative Process, can be viewed from many perspectives. The four stages of the process, to be amplified next, can also be summarized as: 1) The move from nonsciousness to consciousness, from not-knowing-what-I-know to knowing-what-I-know. 2) From perception to minding. 3) From absence to presence. 4) From not-being-a-self to being-one's-self.

What we commonly call "being creative" is the end of the process, the culmination of the four stages. In the beginning of the process we are unaware, not-conscious; we have nothing in mind. At the end, we are "being conscious."  Before it begins, we are "out of touch" with genetic knowledge, the instincts or ingrained directives which biologically move us to action. We do not consciously know who we are, even that we are, or what we are about at the time. We are, so to speak, "out of it," unaware and essentially absent as aware creatures.

In the beginning we hold no perceptions-- sights, sounds, smells, etc., in awareness; at the end we are consciously aware of what we see, hear, and smell. At first we are "not thinking;" at the end, we "are thinking" (in the colloquial sense of the word). We are "making sense," "being reasonable," rather than "just being emotional," or, "not using our head."

Before perception, the beginning of the process, we are literally "not a self." No "self" is present. "Nobody is at home." At the end, we have become a self; we are then "being ourselves." We literally "become somebody" in the creative process.

In summary, the natural, process of human experience culminates in consciousness, minding, presence, selfhood, or "being creative."

 

 

 

Now to the stages: I find that the dance of creativity always includes four steps which may be distinguished in hindsight, if not at the time. My favorite names are: 1) Perceiving, 2) Imaging, 3) Conceiving, and 4) Minding. First we perceive stimuli from without or within (outside or inside our skins); then we give shape to perception in some image. Next, we decode the image into a mental conception which we may "hold in mind." Finally, we absorb the idea into ourselves; we become-our-thinking, which I name as minding.

Using nouns rather then participles, the stages are: 1) Perception, 2) Imagination, 3) Conception, and 4) Thought. Or with verbs: 1) We perceive, 2) We image (or imagine), 3) we conceive, and finally 4) We mind.

 

DEFINITIONS

1. PERCEPTION: The most primal human capacity which emerges into consciousness; the essential basis of all other activities involving a degree of choice. To per-ceive (meaning: thoroughly-grasp) is "to get it," to become aware of any sensation--a sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, or a near infinite variety of combinations.

Perceptions may be from without or within, that is, from external sensations of the world beyond our skins, or from the internal world, where they are called feelings, aches/pains, desires, impressions, instincts, or intuitions ("sixth senses").

2. IMAGING: To image is to make a mental picture, like a photograph formed when a camera is clicked. As a camera "sees" what is before it, which makes an impression on the film, so what a person "sees" makes an impression on his awareness mind. After perception, we immediately image--that is, we give form/shape in our "mind=s eye" to whatever we perceive. If to per-ceive is to thoroughly-grasp, to image is to really-thoroughly-grasp. Imaging is an essential and inevitable step in the process of normal human experience. No perception is fully "grasped" until it is given shape in awareness as an image. Through imaging we "fast freeze" the ever-changing face of reality we grasp, so we can cope more effectively and, hopefully, move on.

"Seeing" is perhaps the best and most common sense used to represent all others, including the "sixth sense." We "see" with our eyes and also with our minds, even when eyes are shut. "Seeing," in regard to images, is also a metaphor for all the ways we "get things"-- give shape to per-ceived reality. Thus images are also formed from smells, sounds, tastes, impressions, and the wealthy combinations called "emotions," as well as what we "feel in our bones."

Examples of images are: trees, ghosts, parents, gods, and all named things, material and immaterial. Synonyms include: icons, idols, and "mental pictures."

3. CONCEPTION: To conceive is to give a finer and sharper shape to an image formed from one or more perceptions. Con, in Latin, means with. At this third stage of the Creative Process we come to "stand with " what we first "grasped" in per-ception. We create a bit of mental distance between ourselves and "it." Images, all perceived as being "out there," with shapes and powers which automatically "move us," are decoded via conceiving. In our "minds eye" we break an image down into its various parts; we add "sense" to sensations as we "get reasonable" about what seems to have "gotten us" at Stage Two.

Once an image is decoded or analyzed into its parts ("made sense of"), we may hold it in "mind-space." Our images in effect "have us;" we "have" our conceptions. Once the move from being possessed to possessing is made, we can more freely use, tell, or simply think about what we have changed into conceptions. Conceptions are commonly called ideas, notions, or thoughts.

4. MINDING: Minding is a coined word, not in the dictionary, made up to name this fourth and far less commonly taken step in the Creative Process. Minding is "eating" or absorbing concepts into oneself, so that they literally become what one is, rather than remaining as mental possessions which he has. If we use thoughts to represent conceptions, then minding is "becoming our thinking."

But "thinking" is both literal and metaphorical in this definition; certainly "mental activity" is involved, as in the first three steps, but at this final phase of the process, "thinking" is merged with living--that is, perceptions shaped into images and then decoded, are now reshaped into life forms. Prior experience (perceptions/images/concepts), "digested" into self, is, at Stage Four of the Creative Process, "lived out" or expressed in what one is/does that is, in daily living activities. Minding, as such, includes "thinking" but also takes shape in all decisions, conversations, and activities.

Through steps one, two, and three, personal experience is shaped and refined crudely at Stages One and Two, sharply at Three; finally at Four, absorbed-into-self, prior experience is reshaped into creative forms which match, parallel, or more literally are what one has perceived/imaged/conceived up till that point in time. "What you see (that is, what one has been) is what you get" when a person is minding.

In existential language, Stages One, Two, and Three of the Creative Process are becoming; Stage Four is being.

SUMMARY

1. Creativity is inherent in humanity. It is not a "special talent" or possession of "the gifted" only; to be a human being is to be creative. Everyone of us is, potentially, creative.

2. But to exist creatively we must be being ourselves rather than expending the juices of life in not-being-who-we-are. I can't be creative when I am trying or pretending (to myself) to be other than who I literally am. There is a true sense in which all creativity, like life itself, is a gift; but the gift of life--and hence, creativity, is inherent in being born, that is, in my engened, in-skinned, separate self--not in some muse or god or sunset or woman who in-spires me to be other than who I inherently am.

3. Creativity is a lively process, not a static state; being creative is a way of be-ing--that is, an on-going series of events which may be analyzed (seen) in the mind's eye, but which only exists literally in the events of its happening. This means that creativity can be experienced by anyone, but possessed by no one. It resides in the dimension of verbs rather than nouns--lively happenings, processes, rather than dead objects or "things."

4. The process is multi-dimensional--moving in many directions at the same time; yet because language is two dimensional--1, 2, 3, 4, etc.-- I can only describe the lively events in these halting, limited, "steps." Creativity is a dance, but here I can only draw the foot movements on paper, unfortunately drained of all the wondrous juices of life which are inherent in the dances of creativity itself.

5. Although I choose here to write of this natural process of human experience in language of creativity, the same series of steps may be viewed as the process of knowing, or, of becoming conscious, or, of becoming oneself, or, of being present. All creatures, from ants to apes, are naturally creative in this sense; they respond to reality with some degree of flexibility, with creative potential. Humans, with enlarged brains and hence the possibility of greater consciousness, simply have more potential for this shared capacity for creativity. We can be more flexible because we have more capacities for responding to reality. But to "be creative" finally and literally, is but to "be knowing," to "be conscious," to "be oneself," or, to "be present." Whenever we "show up" being ourselves consciously, knowing what we know, we are (or will be) being creative.

 

 

SECTION TWO

STAGE ONE: PERCEPTION

Step one in the Creative Process is perception, perceiving, or Agetting it.@ Before we can create, we must perceive. Per-ceive comes from two Latin roots: per and ceive. Ceive, the second part (not an English word) is from capere which in Latin means to seize, grasp, or get. Per means thoroughly or utterly. Thus to per-ceive means to thoroughly grasp or Areally get it.@ We ceive whenever we react to stimuliCfor example, a sight, sound, or smell. We per-ceive when we react so thoroughly that the ception is registered in awareness, when we Aget it.@ Certain stimuli may fall on us, such as ultraviolet light rays, which we do not ceive or grasp; but when other rays, such as the ones we call violet or red, are registered in awareness, then we have perceived. Perception has happened.

Basic perceptions come through our five senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. We perceive through any one or a combination of the five. We Aget it (ceive),@ for instance, a tree falling, through seeing the action and hearing the sound. We may more thoroughly (per) grasp the event if touch is added, if, for example, it falls on us.

Although all perceptions are personal, they may be broken down into two major categories: those from without and those from withinC things we perceive from the outside world (beyond our skin) and things we perceive from within our bodies. Perceptions from within are generally called Afeelings@ or Asensations.@ AI feel sick at my stomach,@ for example; or, AI sense an itch in my foot.@

Another category of perceptions comes through our Asixth sense,@ often called ESP (extra-sensory-perception). We may also call these complex perceptions Aimpressions,@ Avoices,@ or Afeelings.@ Although not like physical Afeelings@ from within, such as, anger or fear, these Afeelings@ (AI just feel like something is about to happen@), are equally real perceptions. Like other emotions, they may move us to action or else leave us with a vague sense of discomfort.

Perception, in summary, is responding to stimuli from without or within which we somehow ceiveC grasp, or get. A perception may be as simple as a single sight, like seeing the sun, or as complex as an inward Aimpression@ or Afeeling in the bones@ that Athings are not right here.@ Whether simple or complex, perceptions are the beginning of the Creative Process. We can go no further until we Aget it@-- something, whatever it may be.

Perceptions may also be summarized as sensations. To perceive is to sense or to Agrasp with the senses.@ From another perspective, perceiving may be thought of as responding to stimuli (from outside or inside). If a sound wave strikes our ears, the physical event is perceived when we hear or respond to the sound.

Again, etymology may help clarify: re-spond comes from two Latin words, re and spond. Spond is from the Latin word spondere, appearing in English only as a prefix or suffix. As such it is the beginning of spon-taneous and the end of re-spond. The literal meaning of spondere is to pro-mise (pro = forth; mise, from mittere, means to let go, or to send; hence, promise = to send forth). Spond then, as in spon-taneous, means to let go of oneself, to go forth to meet, to promise or commit oneself. Re in Latin means back (re-pay = pay back). Re-spond then means to spond-back, or to commit oneself back to a sensation.

In reality perception does not seem so complex; we simply Ado it.@ It happens. By virtue of being physically present, we see and hear. We sense or respond to reality. Babies come into the world perceiving sights and sounds naturally, through the gift of inherited senses. Stage one in the Creative Process begins when we simply show up with our senses operative and open, perceiving, responding to reality.

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STAGE TWO: IMAGING

Before per-ceptions (Stage One) become con-ceptions (Stage Three) they pass through Stage Two, images. After Agetting it@ via one or more of our senses, we give form/shape to what we have Agotten@ (sensed) before it can be translated into thought. Sensing, ideally, moves on to thinking by way of imaging.

Imaging is a participle, a verbal form. The more familiar noun from the same root is imagination, which is defined as Athe action or faculty of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.@ Since imagination is popularly identified with something unreal (AOh, that=s just your imagination!@), I choose the less familiar participle to name this second stage, because I refer to something real rather than Aall in your head.@

Images, as I refer to here, are Ain your head,@ but not Aall in your head.@ They are the natural progression, the interim stage, between raw sensing and refined thinking. Imaging is like imagination in that mental activity is involved, but not the same as the common understanding. Images, as meant here, may be thought of as mental pictures, visual forms which give shape to the unspecified data collected by the senses. AFeelings@ or sense impressions are vague and unformed, real yet lurking on the edge of shape; imaging is the process, indeed the art, of giving form to the unformed. As such, it is very real, even though occurring in Amind space.@

When a perception is from outside, such as a sight (like seeing a Atree@), then imaging is the process of forming a mental picture of the as-yet-unnamed Atree.@ Probably our earliest images are formed from seeing mother=s breast or face. Before language or words exist for us, we sense, in this case see, and form images of the seen which are held in Amind space@ and may be re-cognized (Arecognized@) later. Even without language or words, through imaging we come to hold a picture of that face, and know (recognize) it as the unnamed Amy mother.@

Such images are of course imaged, yet they are not Ajust imagination.@ A baby who has imaged mother=s face Aknows@ that face; it is somehow Ain his head,@ but not Aall in his head@ (implying something unreal). The image is drawn from real experience, from repeated sightings of the same face. That which is first sensed (seen) is next pictured (imaged).

The primal nature of imaging is reflected in the common adult experience of recognizing a face but not being able to recall its name. AI remember your face, but what is your name?@ Language and hence names come later; but first and most primary (and hence most imbedded in memory) are the images, the mental pictures, which arise naturally from sense impressions.

Although imaging begins with single sense encountersC such as sights or sounds only, the same process follows with more complex or multiple sense experiences. For example, suppose seeing the face of a parent is combined with a painful slap; feeling experience is added to seeing experience, giving it added power of impression. The event is more complex and hence impressive, but the natural process, the movement from sensing to imaging, is the same. Now it is not simply a face to be imaged, but also a painful slap must somehow be added to the mentally formed eventC and all this without benefit of words and language. If the infant remains true to himself, honest about unlanguaged experience, he must somehow form a mental picture capable of shaping or containing impressions of pain as well as sight.

Or suppose a baby, fresh from the warmth and security of the womb, awakens in a cold, dark room with no mother present. What an awesome experience this must be! What sort of image could possibly give adequate shape to the sensed powers of cold, dark, and scary, not to mention, being all alone? Certainly some awesome ghost or goblin, devil or black monster, or other unnamable (since there is yet no language) figure would be required for honesty=s sake.

We may here begin to extract a principle from this observable process of common human experience. When honesty prevailsCbefore lying, dishonesty, and repression are even options, the size of the sensed experience must be matched by an image of comparable size. Small sensations, like seeing light, only call for small images; large sensations (combinations of perceptions), such as, being left alone in the dark, must require large images. The principle: images formed from perceptions are shaped comparably. When this normal course of human experience, the Creative Process, is operative, then all registered perceptions are imaged into shapes which truthfully form or express the nature of the impressions to the individual who grasped them.

Later on, when language is possible and literal names can be given to these various and assorted artistic mental pictures, then the common definition of imaginationC Amental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses@ may become meaningful to outsiders. After, for instance, a child learns about terrible tigers, which he has never seen, and logically adopts such mental shapes in the creative process of forming perceived fears, then he may truthfully come crying to a parent at 3:00 A.M. saying, AThere=s a tiger under my bed and a ghost in the closet.@ His sizable fear, perceived upon waking up alone in a cold and dark room, requires adequate shapes if he remains honest. Perhaps a real tiger, or in its absence a scary ghost, will do the trick.

The objective factsC to parents, that tigers are only in zoos, and that ghosts do not really exist, may easily obscure their respect for the artistry of the child in forming honest and creative images for his real perceptions. AHush and go to sleep; there are no tigers in this house and there is no such thing as a ghost. You=re just imagining things.@ True, the child is imaging, but untrue that it is only his imagination. Until lying is added to his creative repertoire, such Aimagination@ is not even possible. Only artistic imaging is.

In reality, the Creative Process is a natural progression of power, as will be amplified later (See: Power And The Creative Process in Section Four); but since power is invisible, except by effect, we must focus on ways of seeing the process if we are to bring it into understanding. Experientially, powers generated by perception are at first indistinguishable from the stimuli which is perceived. If I see a bright light, it seems that the light Amakes me squint.@ If I see a tiger (a perception) and am moved by fear (an inward power), then initially the two seem to be synonymous; that is, Athe tiger scares me.@ Or, my feeling of fear is powered (caused) by the tiger. Or so it seems.

If an infant is angered (experiences power generated) when mother takes away her breast, then it must seem to the baby that the action of the mother (his perception ) is the cause or source of the power which will later be called anger. If he could speak he might say, AYou make me angry.@ In all primary experience, encounters with reality in which perception (Stage One) occurs, it does appear at first that the perception (the sight, sound, smell, etc.) and our inward response, whatever it may be, are the same. If there is no bright light, I do not squint. If there is no tiger, I am not afraid. If mother allows an infant to suckle, he feels no anger.

Apparently, then, an image emerging from a perception (such as, the tiger which I see) and the perception itself (my seeing) are the same thing. And since inward power is impossible to see and hence to image directly, the power experienced in these primary experiences is predictably assumed to reside in or come from the imaged perception, for example, the light, the tiger, or the mother. They, or so it seems, cause or Amake us@ act or feel the way we do. The power to move us appears (and this is the critical word, to be amplified next) to lie outside ourselves, in the image shaped from our perception.

The word appears may be a good clue to further understanding of the actual process. It does seem as though the image causes our response. It appears that the power to move ourselves lies in that which we have perceived at the time. Although these primary experiences occur first before we learn language, and later below the level of language (we see, hear, feel, etc., even without words), we may use language (indeed, we must) if we are to understand them.

Paradoxically, figures of speech, a complex use of language which includes such illusive forms as similes, metaphors, personifications, and hyperboles, seem to appear in practice even before simple language, such as nouns and verbs, are used. It is as though (another form of metaphor) we learn the complex before we do the simple. We learn to use figures of speech even before we learn speech. We learn, for example, personification (one of the four major kinds of speech figures) before we learn to make simple sentences. And even after we understand this language form, perhaps knowing the definition of Apersonification,@ we continue to use the form without thinking consciously.

Not that we Aknow what we are doing@-- that is, consciously intend or even understand figures of speech, but that we practice what outside observers may clearly see to be the use of metaphorical language. For instance, a ghost is a personification of the power generated by fear. Literally, a ghost is a metaphor; even without realizing (consciously knowing) what I am doing, if I say, AA ghost scared me,@ I am using language metaphorically.

This seems illogical to me just yet, but it is as though metaphor precedes thinking, rather than being one form of thought. It seems that all images are more like metaphors than like pictures. Does metaphorical thinking precede symbolic thinking? I now think so.

Images seem to be twofold, first, literal mental pictures, like photographs where the paper image exactly mirrors the outside perception. In one=s mind the picture or image, for example, of the tree, is the same as the tree Ais.@ I think I am seeing it as it is, with no awareness that I am experiencing my own perceptions only; not it, but the wave lengths of light I have evolved to perceive. Bees, i.e., see it differently; dogs, having a more acute sense of smell, smell things differently.

But other images, especially of deeper emotional or inward perceptions, are more commonly perceived as direct metaphors, specifically similes, beginning with Alike..@ AI feel,@ for instance, Alike the sky is falling,@ or, Alike there=s no point in living,@ etc.

I never conceive such comparisons as similes, symbolic representations, but literally as the way-it-is at the time. It is I; the simileC Alike running away,@ is who-I-am at the time. It is not a symbolic expression, but an honest representation, an image, of my experience at the time.

AShe turns me on,@ for example, literally a metaphor or personification of the power of my lust, is seldom so conceived at the time. I believe, just then, that she is doing it to me. It is not I who exist excitedly, but she who is exciting me. It is representational of I. (Or so I Athink@ just then.)

Summarizing: in terms of consciousness, metaphors or figures of speech represent an advanced form of language use; but in actual human experience, where no understanding of language is necessary, it seems (a metaphor here) that we experience in metaphorical forms even before we know language, and continue to do so long after we learn language.

I conclude that in actual practice, as illogical as it seems to me, metaphoring precedes thinkingC certainly, conscious thinking.

At Stage Two of the Creative Process, the images which are in reality but pictures we have formed from Stage One perceptions are taken to be the same as what we perceive; that is, the perception and the image are experienced as synonymous. The power which is in fact generated through perceiving (and thus exists within our own skin) is recognized in the shape of the image. It, it seems, whatever form it may be, is the possessor of the power experienced.

PROJECTION

The psychological phenomenon of projection may also be useful in understanding imaging if we bear in mind that it is an after-the-fact explanation. Projection, in psychology, refers to perception or recognition of inward reality reflected in some outside mirror, like a film image in a movie projector seen on the screen before the audience. It only appears that the image is on the screen because it is projected there; actually it remains on the film inside the projector. Similarly, inward realities in humans can be seen projected on the Ascreens@ of outside persons or things. For instance, I may see my own anger projected into your eyes and think, AShe is mad at me.@

Projection, as psychologically understood, does provide a valid explanation of imaging in an objective sense. Literally speaking, almost all (I estimate 95%) imaging is projection; that is, it involves recognizing what is within only in some outside reflection (the image). There are, for instance, some times when AYou are stepping on my toes,@ (literally standing on my foot); but most often when I feel like (metaphor) you are stepping on my toes (95%? of the time), I am dealing with an inward perception which I have projected outwardly on to you.

What makes this familiar psychological event tricky in regard to imaging is the common assumption that one who is projecting is somehow choosing to do so, either awarely or unawarely. With such projection, the power is first assumed to be within and then, as an act of the person, Aprojected@ onto the screen of the outside image (object or person). Herein lies the danger in using projection to understand imaging. At this primal level (Stage Two) of human experience there is no ownership of the power which is then sent forth on to the image. The power, like the image itself, is still undifferentiated from the perception.

One who may be explained by an outsider as Aprojecting@ is, insofar as his own experience is concerned, only Abeing honest;@ that is, there has been no transaction in which he gave what was first his to the image on which he Aprojected.@ He doesn=t, to himself, Ado it.@ AThat is just the way it is.@ The ghost, for example, (or height, depth, women, ogre) simply Ascares me.@

My point here is to both affirm the use of Aprojection@ to explain what takes place in imaging, but to also differentiate this primal level of experience from a Amere psychological trick.@ To assume, for example, that any one who images is Afooling himself@ or not being psychologically astuteC that it, that imaging is a Asign of immaturity@ or a Afailure to grow up,@ is to miss the nature of imaging itself.

When imaging occurs in this early phase of the Creative Process there is no literal projection; this is simply the nature of normal human experience, namely, to immediately form pictures or images out of perceptions. When nothing interferes with the natural process, everyone gives shape to their perceptions first in the forms of images. It is not a Asign of immaturity,@ but rather a phase in the process of maturing. Before we can properly move on to Athinking@ we must form images which may possibly be decoded into thoughts.

AProjection@ is more clearly seen as primal perception, that is, the early phase of thinking. Projection implies that power is first owned and then Asent out,@ which I now think is not true. Powers seen as projected, as on to magical others, are, more literally, never recognized as personal. First, perception is simply seen in an image.

The image, the magical other, may in fact reflect dimly perceived personal power, as a mirror; but in the beginning the mirror is perceived as owning the power. It is not, in personal experience, that I first have and then give the power (for example, to Aturn me on@); it is rather that I first perceive my Aturn on@ power in the mirror of the other.

Although Athinking@ in the ususal sense of the word, which I will amplify in Stage Three, is a more useful name for the next step in the Creative Process, we may give it special connotations in describing imaging also. At the image level of experience, which is literally pre-thought, we may view it externallyC that is, in others, as Amagical thinking.@ The apparent mental activity is magical in nature. Immense powers are imaged, recognized, and assumed to exist in various and assorted external formsC ghosts, goblins, devils, ogres, devils and gods, to name but a few. Even natural objects, such as trees, stars, and rivers, as well as animals and invisible Aforces,@ are experienced as being powerful in nature, with capacities for causing all sorts of human reactions.

The image stage of experience, though certainly not limited to children, is perhaps most clearly seen in small children who delight in fairy tales where the forces of life are clearly personified in witches, ogres, fairy godmothers, and princes in shining armor. If careful to avoid the usual judgments associated with Amagical thinking,@ we may also see life at this Stage Two level with the metaphor, AThe Enchanted Forest.@ While we are existing with our lively images yet untranslated into discrete thoughts, we can accurately be seen as Aliving in The Enchanted Forest@ which is much like the familiar arena of universal fairy tales.

Popular religion is an adult version of The Enchanted Forest. As we grow older and Agraduate@ from fairy talesC images for the forces of life which we all encounter, witches become demons, the Big Bad Wolf becomes the devil, the prince in shining armor becomes Jesus (Mohammed, Buddha, etc.), and the fairy godmother with her magic wand becomes GodCwith local variations on the common theme. The human process of forming images from primary perceptions remains the same; only the names are changed Ato protect the innocency@ which remains in adult experience even as it is in childhood.

Because we adults are accustomed to taking our versions of the same themeCpopular religions, as valid and Areal@ while we recognize that fairy tales are Aonly fantasy,@ it is often difficult to see the same process operative in both. We Ahumor@ children for their beliefs in fairy godmothers and wicked wolves, for example, while continuing to believe in our own images of gods and devils, and currently a rash of revived belief in angels of all sorts. In order to understand imaging in the lives of adults, commonly accepted in religions, we must suspend judgment (if possible) and respect the natural reality of imaging at all ages of life. Nothing is more normal in the Creative Process than life in The Enchanted Forest where fairy tales are the natural order, or in The Popular Church where various theologies are seen as Athe way it is.@

If we are honest with ourselves, either as children or as adults, powerful images are necessary for shaping the powerful forces inevitably generated in normal processes of perceiving reality as it is revealed to us through our given senses. Whether we view them as a Big Bad Wolf or as Satan, as Robin Hood or Jesus, as the Fairy Godmother or the Heavenly Father, as Mother Nature or Father Time (or less creatively as Athe forces of nature@), as our own Good Mother or Bad Daddy (or vice versa), or as Men who turn us off or Women who turn us on, inevitably honesty requires powerful images. Perceiving generates power, and if we remain true to ourselves, we necessarily shape these powers into images which are viewed as magical, sacred, or secularCnecessarily at least, until we dare, if ever we do, the adventurous move from Stage Two of the Creative Process on to Stage Three.

SUMMARY

The normal human process is: 1) perceive or senseCfrom without or within, Asee@ or Afeel@; and then, 2) imageCform a mental shape or pre-thought in reaction to, or reception of, the perception. Such an image is not literally a representation or symbol as much as a state of awareness which reflects the nature, or scope of the sense experience at 1).

A small sense calls for a small image; a large perception, a large image. For example, a minor irritation, like heat, noise, or sun glare, calls for small imaging, say an Aouch,@ or jump, or blink. A major intrusion or inside reaction, such as, a shot, or intense anger/fear, calls for a major imageClike Abad doctor@ or demon/ogre, etc.

Images may be pictures or metaphors (after language is learned). Pictures include ghosts and gods, forces personified or shaped into forms concomitant with the size of the perception; again, small force, e.g., Aangel;@ large force, Agod.@ Metaphors as images include comparisons with prior experiences; e.g., Alike....@-- small anger = Alike you are mad at me;@ large anger = Alike killing you.@ Small fear = Alike hiding;@ larger fear = Alike running away.@

Images are commonly shaped through or with projections of power, that is, seen-in-mirrors of the Aother.@ It is perceived as Amaking me.....@ whatever. The noise, e.g., Ascares me;@ you Amake me mad.@ The source of inward experience is perceived as arising out there, as Acausing@ what I feel or see, as the light Amakes me see,@ or, your actions Amake me see red.@

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ANALYSIS OF IMAGING

Imaging, Stage Two of the Creative Process, occurs naturally whenever personal power is first experienced. If we find ourselves mov-ingC excit-ing, with-juices-flowing, we tend to Athink@ of ourselves as Amov-ed,@ or excit-ed, as though (note metaphor) something (the image) must have caused or Adone it to us.@

AIt@ C whatever, moves me. The fact that language is geared for this projection of power probably reflects the near universal fact about imaging versus owning power. It seems unnatural, and is certainly difficult with our language, to even state being-power-filled without the projections. Common expressions, especially verbs, place the source of power Aout there@ rather than Ain here.@ Mov-ed, excit-ed, turn-ed on, all imply a perception of self as still, without power-to-move, and of Aits@ C things-out-there, with power causing us to move.

How can I even speak, in everyday speech, of this natural state of power without projecting its source? If I move, something external is required by language to allow self-expression. To be self-generative of power, to Aturn on@ without being Aturn-ed on,@ seems impossible to state without distorting colloquial speech.

Consider excited. We know it is about a personal condition, yet how can we get at the root of the word: cit? It is preceded by ex, implying outside of self, and followed by ed = past tense, or done to.

So with the heights of powering ecstasy. The root meaning of this climactic experience is beside or outside one=s self, as thought to experience great power personally is to leave oneself.

Or consider power words. Literally, without images, we would speak of power-ing, not power-ed, or im-powered. Power-ful = power-filled, implying that we are empty and require filling from without if we are being-power. Being-power versus powerful (filled) does not even make sense.

So much for the universal necessity for images insofar as language is concerned. But this simply reflects the natural progression of experience from 1) perceiving to 2) imaging. Our language does not Ado it@ to us by denying good words; it but reflects the nature of how we grasp at the appearing of power within ourselves (literally, as ourselves rather than in ourselves).

From another perspective, all power is perceived as e-motion-al, that is, as Afeeling@ versus Athinking.@ In fact, the word emotion means being-moved-by. Whether the Afeeling@ is positive or negative, e.g., pleasurable, exciting, or painful, scary, the phenomenon of imaging, external perception of power, is the same. If I Afeel good,@ she Amakes me@ feel good. If I am fearing, Ait@ scares me. If I am excited, she (or it) Aturns me on.@ If not, she Aturns me off.@

In all cases, internal power, plus or minus, is imaged or imagined-to-be beyond myself. How can I even conceive (Stage Three) of powering, being-power, without languages of impotence?

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IMAGES AS MIRRORS

Initially an image is but a mirror for power experienced in perceiving. A particular image gives form/shape to the energy flow which naturally occurs with any perception. For instance, if I am confronted with darkness (see Ablack@) and perceive an emotional flow which might later be named fear, I will naturally create an image to represent this experience in my mind. Such an image, for example, a ghost, mirrors (reflects back to me) the power I have experienced within myself when I perceive the darkness. I need, and hence create, the image as a way of symbolizing and appropriating the event into my self.

Ideally, images are short-lived; they are normally held for only an instant, serving their natural purpose of mirroring this emerging part of myself (in this example, my fear), while I proceed to Stage Three of the Creative Process, de-coding the darkness (my perceptions) into various ideas. But such ideals are often missed when an image is frozen in one=s mind, much like pushing the Pause button on a VCR, and stopping the on-going process of the movie. These are critical moments in human experience because of the underlying experience of power which is also occurring at the time. In the act of imaging, inward power is momentarily perceived as Aout there@ in the image itself, rather than Ain here@ where in reality it exists. The ghost (perceived as power-full) is scaring me, or so I imagine as long as my image is frozen in time (in my mind=s eye).

At the instant of imaging, AI@ (my perceived self) am separated from the inward power generated in my act of perception. My power is only recognized in the mirror of my image, not yet as a part of myself, but as though Ait@ exists Aout there@ in the image. So far, so good; in the Creative Process this temporary separation of self from power is but the natural progression of normal human experience. Just as we need physical mirrors to see our physical bodies, so we need mental mirrors, images, to see or Acatch on@ to our experiential selves (our Amental bodies,@ we might say). This brief separation of AI@ from Ait@ (the mirrored power) is but a useful way of proceeding to appropriate the power into my expanded self (made larger via each perception).

Whenever I successfully negotiate this critical juncture in experience, bridging the gap between AI@ and Ait@ by proceeding on to Stage Three, then the experienced power which at first seems to be external is then internalized, thus enlarging my sense of myself.

Unfortunately, such ideals are not always; it is also possible in human experience to push the Pause button on the movie of our lives permanently, to freeze, that is, our images solidly. The power which is at first naturally Aprojected@ and mirrored may be Afrozen@ in the image, and never allowed to return (be recognized) in ourselves. The practical but temporary separation of AI@ from Ait@ in the natural Creative Process can be frozen into a permanent split within ourselves. The rhythmical flow of powerC felt within, imaged without, owned withinC may be interrupted for an interminable length of time. The natural dance (or movie) of life is thus stopped (paused continuously) until the split is healed, if ever.

A typical example of such a frozen image is a child=s image of Amother.@ At first, before any split in self occurs, an infant=s image of Amother@ will be fluid, as with all other images. Changing perceptions of mother, for instance, from Agood@ to Abad@ (when she gives or withholds milk), will be accompanied (I theorize) with fast-moving, ever-changeable images. First she is Agood@ (when the milk is flowing), but then she is Abad@ when it stops before hunger is sated. But somewhere in the process of all our childhoods, these images tend to become frozen in time, for example, into either a Agood mother@ or a Abad mother,@ one or the other. If we image her as Agood@ then we exclude data to the contrary, something no healthy infant would do (as soon as mother withholds milk, she immediately becomes, in effect, a Abad mother@). Or, if we freeze a Abad mother@ image, than Ashe can do no good@ insofar as we are concerned.

Which ever way we go, freezing our image of her as Agood@ or Abad,@ we thereafter relate to her blindly, as though our chosen image were the whole truth.

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RELIGIOUS AND SECULAR IMAGES

Images, Stage Two perceptions, can be grouped into two major categories: religious and secular. The first, where images are formed into idols or empowered objects and persons, is easiest to recognize because powers are consciously acknowledged.@ One Aknows,@ for example, that a god Ais powerful.@ That AJesus saves,@ that is, exists as one with special powers which may be bestowed on his followers (Abelievers@), goes without saying. Just as clay idols on the mantle of a primitive Anative@ are Aknown to possess super-human powers,@ so the mental idols of modern Abelievers@ are Aknown to possess super-natural powers@ which may or may not be dispensed in favor of the humans who believe in them (or don=t).

Secular imagesC icons or idols existing outside of what are commonly considered religious realms, are more difficult to recognize by those who Apractice@ what amounts to their Aworship.@ Still, the projections typical of Stage Two experience are the same. Powers generated in perception are unwittingly taken to be external and are assumed to exist in the images themselves. Perhaps the most common examples are in realms of romance, where lovers are Aidolized,@ even without personal awareness by one who has Afallen in love.@

Unwittingly we Asincerely believe@ (as is more obvious in overt religion) that a lover (a secular idol) has the power to Amake us happy@ (a secular version of Asalvation@ in religion). Without awareness, we Aworship the ground they walk on;@ we live-as-though Athe sun rises and sets on our lover=s head,@ just as religious folk Aknow that God makes the sun rise and set.@ Religious people Aare lost@ when they Afall out of favor with God.@ In like manner, secular lovers Aare lost@ when they lose the favors of the beloved (the secular idol).

Other more subtle but equally powerful secular icons (images imbued with inherent powers) include trophies (symbols of personal victories or accomplishments), wealth (symbol of possessions), and fame (symbol of public affirmation). Although these popular images are less often recognized as idols, in the secular world they commonly exist with the same powers attributed to gods in religion. The familiar male quest for trophies (e.g., deer horns), or wealth is, as all females easily see, pursued Awith religious conviction.@ It is as-though Awinning@ or Agetting rich@ is a sacred quest, pursued as-though either Awill save you.@ (I insert the metaphor, as-though, to imply that the icon (trophy or wealth) is literally an idol in male experience, even-though a man Acaught up@ in its pursuit fails to see Ahow religious he is@ about his so-called secular goals.

The point: images at Stage Two may be either religious or secular. In either case they function the same. Both gods and lovers are presumed (consciously or unwittingly) to possess powers to Asave one@ who Abelieves@ in them. A non-religious male in pursuit of trophies, wealth, or fame is often Amore religious@ in practice than a church-going man in pursuit of religious Asalvation.@

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GENDER AND IMAGES

Women commonly seem to live with the power of images, such as, Body or House Beautiful, and remain moved, even dictated by their images, not daring the nerve to conceive (Stage Three)-- to sort, value, and decide. They let images decide for them, that is, are uncomfortable (Asomething is not right@) until they achieve some clarity as determined by the image, for instance, until they Afeel pretty,@ or, the Ahouse is clean.@

Men, conversely, more practiced and skilled at focusingC sorting, excluding data which distracts from our goals (Aseeing what we want to see,@ as in, AShe wants it@), are yet fearful of becoming expansive in our vision, as women already are.

We not only fear widening the scope of what we see (Athinking like a woman@), we fear the natural directions of our visions whenever they near the lines of female disapproval, especially, Mother=s Values, now ingrained in conscience.

We are, unlike females, also in the Catch 22 of having learned early to find security/affirmation in the Athinking@ of our opposite gender, in Mother=s Eyes. We have learned to look to Mother for affirmation of seeing; the problem for men is that girls seldom seem to learn, in the critical learning period, to get their seeing affirmed from their opposite gender. Hence, they have no deep, primal, practice with turning to men for understanding, as men have with MotherCprojected later on to femininity in general.

In growing up, when consciousness, the growing edge of natural awareness, reaches the edge of social seeing, when visions become Acene@ and obs-cene, okay and not-okay, first in Mother=s Eyes (Her Smiles/Frowns), then we are all tempted to non-sciousness, to not-seeing what She doesn=t see (approve seeing), to obscure our own visions to match, harmonize with hers. The Asmarter@ we are, it seems, the more completely we match our degrees of consciousnessC seeing/not-seeing what she does/doesn=t.

This is the birth of conscience, which is but a move of non-sciousness, of ingesting social values at the expense of personal valuingC proceeding with the natural path of consciousness. Conscience is unnatural, that is, a stoppage of natural mental growth, a constipation of the mind where the normal digestion of experience is curtailed and the thoughts-of-others, social valuing, is substituted for one=s own.

Mother=s values are absorbed like an internal gyroscope, an implant in the mind, intended as an early warning system to let us know in awareness, whenever we are nearing the edge of social values.

AStep on a crack, break your mother=s back.@

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IMAGES & CONSCIOUSNESS

Images and consciousness are antithetical; they do not go together. When either is fully present the other cannot exist. Or stated in degrees: to the degree that an icon is operative, that one is present at Stage Two of the Creative Process, there is no consciousness of the image as an image. Certainly the person is aware of the reality of the icon; indeed, vast energies and resources are commonly devoted to coping with the power of the image, be it positive or negative. If viewed as godlike, one will work diligently, for example, to curry and keep the favor of the image; if viewed negatively, as a demon, the person may strive unceasingly to evade Afalling into the clutches@ of the awful figure.

But awareness of apparent powers of an icon, even with daily attention to coping with Ait,@ the fact of its existence as an icon of the person cannot exist in consciousness. No one knows that his images are images; they all seem-to-be (note metaphor) completely real. To the degree that I have an icon, for example, to that same degree I am unconscious of the fact. Only as I move toward Stage Three, conceiving, do I even begin to Asee@ (pin down in mind space) that an image of mine is in fact an image rather than Athe gospel truth@-- simply the nature of reality at it is. Even then, until I move on to Stage Four, the limited Aholding-in-mind-space@ of an image, remains outside the realms of fuller consciousness. I may see and talk about Ait,@ but I still bow before and seek to curry the favors of a positive image, and avoid the threats of a negative one.

By definition, by the nature of how imaging works in human experience, no one truly knows that Aan image is just an image.@ The reality of the projected power which was essential in the formation of the image remains operative, outside the dimensions of conscious control.

No matter how Aintelligent,@ Aeducated,@ or mentally sophisticated (able to articulate facts about images, as I am doing here) one may be, still his images, though in awareness, reside outside the realms of fuller consciousness. When I am worshiping or fleeing the powers of one of my images, I can only be dimly conscious at the time.

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WHEN IDOLS FALL

To begin to see the clay feet of any image, to recognize even dimly that one is participating in idolatry, is to experience threat on the deeper levels of one=s being. The nature of Stage Two existence, where powers are perceived to be external, is that the very structure of daily life oscillates around one=s images. Blindly, yet diligently, we continually seek to curry to favor of our gods and goddesses, while remaining equally careful not to awaken or offend the powers of our demons and devils.

But if dim recognition of an image as an image, as occurs at Stage Three, is threatening, the full absorption of that objective information at Stage Four, can be absolutely terrifying. Fierce bodily turmoil is common; physical illness is predictable, whenever one struggles to bring idolatry into fuller consciousness. The world may shake when an idol=s clay feet first become visible; but it commonly seems to be falling apart when one begins to re-embrace power previously projected (blindly, of course), in the formation of the image at Stage Two.

Prior to becoming again, to consciously accepting/owning, personal power lost to consciousness at Stage Two, traumatic upheaval can be reasonably expected. Physical illness is likely to spill over into emotional disturbance, even psychotic episodes, while one is engaged in the awesome process of what I neatly describe as Abecoming conscious,@ or more clearly seen as eating the body and drinking the blood of any old image.

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ADVANCED IMAGES

Primally, in the earliest stages of any idolatry (the predictable move to Stage Two following any perceptual encounter with power), one=s images are likely to be perceived as tangible, external, and seen much the same as other sense perceptions of the outside world. Ghosts and goblins, for instance, are even Amore real@ than lions and tigers in the zoo, or parents in the next room.

But as we advance in Aeducation@ and become more mentally sophisticated, so the formation of our images is likely to progress from tangible to intangible, from objects and figures Aout there@ to ideas and notions Ain here.@ The obvious and overt power of a mother figure image, for example, may first be shifted to the less evident and more socially acceptable form of a Asweetheart@ or biologically unrelated individual. Such external shifts, though increasingly more subtle, are still easily recognized by outside observers, if not by ourselves.

But there is a far more advanced and hence dangerous form of imaging which takes place entirely in one=s mind, without external figures or forms, namely, the imaging of ideas or mental notions which are accepted as Athe truth,@ much the same as Athe truth@ of ghosts and goblins at a more primal level of Stage Two experience. Commonly this advanced form of imaging is but an outgrown of the primal form, for instance when some belief or notion of a person idolized is taken as one=s own. It is as though the tangible image, for instance, the mother, is Aeaten@ or taken within oneself (in this case, one=s mind) via the thoughts which she had at the time. After this mental ingestion, the tangible image from which it came may be rejected or left behind in physical form. The mother, for example, once her ideas are taken as one=s own, may be abandoned, no longer worshiped directly.

In my case, one such for instance was what I must have perceived as my mother=s idea that Abeing good will save you.@ In actual experience it was never articulated as clearly is in the previous sentence, yet it was so evident to me that I easily took the notion as my own. I have long lived with the idolatrous notion, even with vast evidence to the contrary, that Abeing a good boy@ is inherently virtuous, that is, possessive of saving powers.

Other such empowered notions which I have more or less absorbed into my sense of myself, that is, unwittingly translated into an advanced form of imagery, include such beliefs as these: Aan idle hand is the devil=s workshop,@ that is, to Abe good@ and not fall into unbearable temptation, one Ashould always be busy.@ ACleanliness is next to godliness,@ is another example. I also Agrew up@ with such advanced images as: AJesus saves,@ Asex is dirty,@ AGod is always watching,@ Aplaying with yourself is evil,@ Aselfishness is bad,@ Ahelping others is inherently virtuous,@ and rather endlessly on.

In general, all such beliefs, indeed, all Abelieving (as commonly understood),@ are but advanced forms of the more primal external type of idolatry. Images (Aidols@) on a mantle or in a church are replaced by mental images (Abeliefs@) in the head or heart. The forms of the imaging are shifted from external and obvious to internal and hidden; but the phenomenon of Stage Two existence remains the same.

And, as noted, the subtle idolatry of beliefs is often more dangerous in the long run than the blatant worship of clay figures or alive-and-breathing persons, such as, one=s mother or lover. Even when the tangible figures are absent or dead, the intangible notions and beliefs which were acquired from them may remain alive and powerful in one=s daily existence. And, whether naive or sophisticated, Aout there@ or Ain here,@ an image is still an image. Idolatry is yet operative so long as one Ahas his gods (or goddesses)@ in the external world or Ahas his beliefs@ in the hidden internal recesses of mind and heart.

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STAGE THREE: CONCEIVING

CONCEPTION

The suffix ceive, as noted earlier, comes from a Latin word, capere, which means to seize, grasp, or get. It is the end of our English words, per-ceive and con-ceive. Per, in Latin, means thoroughly, and con means with. Hence per-ceive literally means to thoroughly-grasp, and con-ceive means with-grasping. Perhaps this trek into etymology holds clues for understanding Stage Three in the Creative Process.

If we begin by per-ceiving, sensing or grasping thoroughly, and proceed to form images or pictures from that which is grasped, then the next step, con-ceiving, involves standing with our ceptions (what we have Agotten@ in Step One). With implies some distance from or space between that which is grasped or gotten (per-ceived) and ourselves. If we con-ceive we must create space between that which is Aceived@ and ourselves as the Aceivers.@ We must in some way become the holders or containers of that which is sensed or grasped.

Because we do not as yet understand just where this Aspace@ exists, we may use the metaphor Amind space@ to represent the experience of Astanding-with@ what we have perceived and imaged. We may say that we hold ceptions in Amind space.@ This does not literally mean some location Ain our heads,@ or some site in the brain, but is a useful figure of speech for describing the nature of conceiving.

At Stage One, perceiving is like an event which simply happens; we sense something. It happens. At Stage Two, the power created during the event of perceiving is focused in an image, usually Aout there,@ as in the object perceived or associated with the event. Although we may view such an image (picture or icon) as an Ait,@ implying a distinction from ourselves (it versus I), at Stage Two the connection is still close and intimate. AIt@ may be an Ait@ rather than AI,@ but we are still so connected that Ait moves me.@ For example, the ghost (it) scares me; or the light (it) makes me blink; or Jesus (it or he) saves me; or she (it or her) turns me on.

But as Stage Three phases in, distance is created. It and I are no longer intimately tied together in experience. With con-ceiving, in distinction from per-ceiving, Awithness@ is created. The power which moves me in spite of myself, as though I have no control over it, is now held or contained in metaphored Amind space.@ At Stage One, I-am-it (my perception and myself are the same). At Stage Two, I-am-moved-by-it (it, the image formed from my perceptions, is still so connected that it moves or inspires me). But at Stage Three, I-am-with-it. The distance created in the move from Two to Three allows me to stand-with, or even to have or hold that which I only encountered at Stage One.

First I meet it; then I am moved by it; next, if I go on, I hold or have it Ain mind space.@

Conceiving is the forerunner of minding (Stage Four), the precursor of the final stage of the Creative Process. We may also call Stage Three Athinking,@ since conscious mental activity is obviously involved; but important distinctions are yet to be drawn between this initial part of the Creative Process and its fuller culmination in Stage Four.

Other possibly clarifying names for Stage Three, conceiving, include: analyzing, decoding, and demythologizing. Here the pictures or images formed at Stage Two are broken down into their elements. The parts are named and analyzedC that is, various segments of a picture are pulled apart in the Amind=s eye@ (another metaphor for Amind space@) and compared one with the other. Questions are asked: How does this fit in with that? Where does that come from? What is the relationship between the parts of the picture, the named objects in the overall image?

We can also see Stage Three as the beginning of Areasoning@ or Atrying to make sense@ of the present experience (event of perceiving) in comparison with previous and remembered such events. How does this perception relate or compare with earlier perceptions of a similar nature? Memory becomes critical at this phase of the Creative Process. As we break down, in our Amind=s eye,@ a present picture (image), we Amake sense@ by placing it Ain mind space@ beside other recalled perceptions. How does this picture compare to that one? Is the present perception the same as the previous one? How do all the divergent parts of the overall image actually fit together? Or do they? Is there some discordant part of the picture? Some element that is different from before, or which doesn=t seem to fit in (to Amake sense@)?

Decoding may be another useful description of conceiving. Images or pictures held in the mind=s eye are complex and, in effect, dark or coded. They are present and powerful, but as yet not broken down for understanding (standing-under-with). It is as though pictures are dark codes, which, before they can be understood, must be Abrought into the light,@ broken down into their various smaller parts and decoded. What is the meaning of this particular part? What does that element stand for? What light lies behind the dark image?

If the images are of a religious or fairy tale nature, then the name demythologizing may clarify. Myth is another name for a complex, interwoven set of images which are spun together into a series of events or stories. In Stage Three, when images or myths are brought into the light of mental understanding, when they are broken down and analyzed, we may call the process demythologizing. The myth, in the Awithness@ of mind space, is Alooked at@ in the light of sense.

Dark images comprising the figures and events are brought on to center stage of mind and weighed carefully on the balances of reason. They said, AHe came down the chimney with a bundle of toys on his back,@ but then how did he get on the roof? And how did he squeeze through that little hole at the top of the chimney? And how did he know what I wanted in the first place?

But before we can see Areasoning@ in full light we may begin with an analysis of conceiving. First, the content: conceptions are primarily formed from feelings and thoughts, emotions and notions. AFeelings,@ we might say in trying to distinguish the two, are Ain the heart,@ while Athoughts@ are Ain the head.@ Feelings or emotions are commonly seen as Aphysical.@ Thoughts or ideas are generally taken to be Amental.@ In the evolutionary process, feelings are more primal; they evolved first and are hence recognized more easily by their physical signs, such as, sweating, shaking, or palpations of the heart. Thoughts, discrete Amental@ notions, apparently evolved much later and are more easily metaphored as being Ain your head.@

In reality the two most often occur simultaneously and are far more difficult to separate as I do here on paper, or we all do in hindsight. Experientially, such a term as Afeeling/thinking@ might better represent the actual Asubstance@ of which conceptions are formed. We decode the Afeeling/thinking@ of the image stage of experience into conceptions at this next level of the Creative Process.

Conceiving, formed from feelings and thoughts or Afeelings/thoughts@ can itself be broken down into three steps. First comes naming, getting a literal symbol to represent a perception, or more often a combination of perceptions.

Names, of course, usually appear at Stage Two also; but there they are representational rather than literalC that is, attached to what they represent, instead of merely standing for it. Ghost, for example, is not simply an academic word standing for fear; it is the fear.

But in conceiving, academics begin; dictionary definitions established by common consensus appear. Words representing perceptions exist at some distance, unattached, from what they name. The perception often occurs, is known and held in mind space, before any name is available. We may see, for instance, a new person (a perception) and wonder what his name is. Then, as a literal symbol, not synonymous with the person, as is true at Stage Two, it could be anything, limited only by broad gender categories (Bill or Tom, but not Sue or Mary).

Conceiving is Aintellectual@ as contrasted with experiential only. It is Ain the head@ rather than Ain the heart (body) or bones.@ Conceiving may be an educational or academic endeavor, whereas naming images seems to be inherent in the experience. We Ajust know@ it was a ghost that scared us, or a she who turned us on; but when it comes to AWho discovered America?,@ most any name will do. Columbus is interchangeable with Cortez, so far as pupils are concerned.

After arbitrary names are available for perceptions, remembering, the second step in conceiving, can occur. Memory allows bringing previous perceptions to the stage of the mind, along with the present one. The newly appearing and named perception can be held Ain mind space@ while earlier similar perceptions are also brought on stage, like related characters in an ongoing drama.

Then, in the magic of mind=s eye, these assorted characters, usually related in some way, can be Alooked at@ objectively and dispassionately. For example: AHere is a man@ (perception #1). AHe is not >Daddy= (perception #2, arising from within in memory). AHe looks like Uncle Bill (remembered perception #3).

At this point, Step Three in conceiving begins: comparingC that is, relating the various available perceptions, present and remembered, one with the others. Literally, this phase is an attempt to harmonize or mix the available perceptions into a connected whole, to Amake things fit together.@ One is weighed against another. This process is commonly called Areasoning@ or trying to Amake sense@ of what is perceived.

THE UNKNOWN

The arrival of mystery, the literal, conceived unknown, is another distinction between imaging and conceiving. At Stage Two there is no mystery, no recognized-and-held-in-mind-space unknown. Every perception is immediately imaged and frozen into the shape of the picture (named or unnamed). The picture imaged is Aright;@ it is Awhat it is@ (what it appears to be), except at this stage of experience no distinction is drawn between appearances and reality. The perception is the image at Stage Two.

Doubt, other than the split second between perceiving and imaging (possibly naming), does not exist at Stage Two. In contrast, doubt is a major activity, an inherent part of conceiving. ACertain-knowledge,@ Aknowing-for-sure@-- for example, that a recognized face is Uncle Bill, even if AI can=t recall his name,@ is a characteristic of the imaging stage of the Creative Process. But with the coming of Step Three, when various perceptions, present and remembered, are held equally on center stage of the mind, then doubt is continually present while one is compared or weighed against another. AIs it really Uncle Bill, or could it be Uncle Bob?@ Or perhaps he only looks like someone I know!@

One of the major delights of Stage Two is the sense of certainty which is inherent in Imaging. No faith is required; one simply Aknows-for-sure@ whatever he or she images. But with Conceiving, and the appearance of doubt in the recognized presence of the unknown (another perception) along with the known (earlier perceptions), the challenges of faith are introduced into the human process of creating reality.

SUMMARY

A con-ception is a ception (primary element in per-ception) which one stands-with (meaning of con) or grasps in the Amind=s eye.@ Con-ceiving, then, is the act of forming mental constructs, discrete mental entities, out of the images which appeared at Stage Two. The dark image is in effect de-coded or brought into the light of awareness, where it can be held in Amind space,@ paraded on the stage of mind. Whereas an image seems to exist Aout there@ in physical space (projected on the screens of the world), a conception is brought Ainside@ where it seems to be contained in mind space.

Once an image is de-coded back into a ception, which is in effect cut off from other ceptions and packaged into one discrete entity (called a thought, notion, or idea), it can be isolated from past ceptions (called memories) and seen as separate from all the other thoughts in the memory bank. That which in the image stage remained diffuse and scattered, wild and projected into unmanageable external forms, is now captured, tamed and corralled into the confines of the mind, the Ahead,@ it is called.

Powers which seemed to reside in images Aout there@ are now subdued into concepts Ain here.@ De-coding is in effect taming or reducing large and difficult-to-manage external forces into small, controllable internal entities. The wild horse is Abroken;@ the scary ghost is transformed into a friendly Casper. The image which moved me (threatened or forced) is changed into a concept which I can move around at will. I need no longer fear it Aout there@ because now I have grasped, tamed, and hold it Ain here,@ in my own head.

Once an image is broken down into one or more of its various parts (discrete mental entities or ideas), through the process of naming (step one in the sub-process of conceiving), and is in effect de-powered also, then step two, remembering can begin. No longer threatened by the unnamed ghost which awakened me in the night, now reduced to a friendly Casper, other scary meetings can be called to mind and placed on the stage with Casper. I can remember, for example, another time when I had to walk through a cemetery at night; and another when I was lost in the woods (two other tamed ghosts). If time allows I may even recall several other de-coded ghosts from my past. Together on the lively stage of my mind now, I can line them up and look from one scary memory to another, viewing each with some degree of objectivity since I now hold them in mind space rather than being held under their powers in world space, as I was at Stage Two.

Now the third phase of conceiving becomes possible. Once the present fear (Casper) is placed along side my remembered fears in the cemetery and woods, I can start comparing them, measuring one against the other, weighing the various effects of each on the mental balances of recall. 1) What happened after I left the cemetery, 2) What it was like when I finally found a familiar creek in the woods, and 3) How I felt when I awoke from the Abad dream@ this morning, can all be compared with each other.

This latter phase of comparing, measuring, and weighing what are now discrete mental entities also goes by the more familiar names of Areasoning@ or Amaking sense.@ Once my various experiences with the images of outside ghosts are carefully contained in mental notions on the inside stage of my mind, then I can Abegin to be reasonable.@ Actually I did survive each of my previous fearful encounters, even though I feared I would not at the time; and there was no Black Witch present when my Anightmare@ ended this morning. Perhaps this fear too is endurable. Making sense of it all (Abeing reasonable@), maybe I can proceed with getting up, showering, and beginning a new day after all.

In summary: If imaging can be metaphored as living in The Enchanted Forest where all powers of life reside in external objects and creatures, such as, winds and witches, then conceiving may be likened to living in the seemingly safer confines of The Intellectual World of the mind, where powers are bound up in carefully contained notions and ideasCde-coded goblins and de-mythologized gods.

Powers of light and darkness, day and night, are de-fused into names and notions about sun and moon, astrology and astronomy. Education replaces wonder. The Wicked Witches of the West are transformed into religious Devils and Saviors from the East, on the way to becoming psychological ploys in the secular world of today.

Vast collections of data from the past are summarized into histories, theologies, and philosophies, which may be learned and remembered, adding to the store house of mental Aceptions@ available for becoming increasingly more Areasonable@ and hence less subject to the frivolous powers of images and icons.

Living at the Stage Three level of the Creative Process, we reside in the Aintellectual world@ of the mind. This is the realm of Education, of acquiring more and more bits of data, more concepts to be used in the increasingly sacred realms of logic and sense. The Enchanted Forest becomes Graduate School; primal religion becomes logical theology; guru wisdom becomes philosophy; witch doctor magic becomes medical and psychological treatment.

The arenas of life Aout there@ in the physical world are being replaced by the vistas of mind Ain here.@ Unwittingly, recognized gods of Earth and Sky are being supplanted by unrecognized gods of Reason and Sense. If the stage of images is life-in-the-world, the stage of concepts is life-in-the-head.

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CONCEIVING AS THINKING

The natural process of human experience moves from 1) perception to 2) imaging, and then to 3) conceiving. Conceiving may also be named thinking and seen as occurring in the mind. AMind,@ as I use the term, is not some entity separate from body, existing in the head, and synonymous with the organ we call Abrain,@ but rather a metaphor for a level of experiencing which is as much a function of body as is sensing and feeling. AThinking,@ insofar as body is concerned, is parallel to Abreathing,@ Asensing,@ and Afeeling.@ Each is but a particular aspect of bodily (physical) capacity. AThinking@ just happens to be a further stage of the natural process which emerges from, is rooted in, the more primal stages of perceiving and imaging. AThinking,@ we might say, is the natural culmination of healthy perceiving and imaging. When bodily sensing is not suppressed, it normally leads to emotions and desires which are then recognized in images (the most primal stage of consciousness), which in turn become the basis for Aintuitions@ or sixth sensing, which then becomes Athinking.@

AThinking,@ this third stage of experience, is essentially the process of coordinating or merging complex and discordant perceptions and images into a fitting whole-- Amaking sense,@ it is commonly called. In this stage, various perceptions, emotions, images, desires, and Agut feelings@ are weighted one against the other, Aadded up,@ and placed in proximity with each other in a way which seems to fit for the person merging this complex combination of factors.

AThinking,@ thus seen, is the process of unifying many bits of diverse data into a more comfortable mental form, an idea, notion, or thought, which takes all the smaller, often contradictory, pieces of experience and fits them together into a whole. AThinking@ is like working a picture puzzle in which many strange pieces with differing shapes and colors are fitted together into a whole which is somehow more Asensible@ or pleasing to the metaphored Amind=s eye.@

THINKING AND PARENTS

Whereas perceptions, feelings, and images are all inward and therefore less subject to adult scrutiny, thinking, which is naturally expressed in words and language, becomes more easily evident and thus subject to parental reaction. Feeling fear, for example, is one thing; but when a child images fear as a Atiger under the bed,@ which is then voiced into language and expressed to a parent, this thought is apt to be treated/reacted-to much more directlyC commonly, with contradiction or attempts at Acorrection@ (AThere is no tiger in this house; now hush and go to sleep.@).

Control of what a child says (thoughts put into vocal language) is easier for a parent than control of what he/she perceives or feels. This obvious fact becomes immensely relevant in interactions between child and parent in the process of living together. Apparent adult tolerance for unseen feelings, for example, suddenly diminishes or disappears when certain emotions are translated into language and expressed. AHating,@ as an inward feeling, may be tolerated (since there is no way to control an emotion), but telling your mother, AI hate my sister@ (or worse, AI hate you@), is more likely to bring intolerance into the open (ANo, you love your sister,@ or, ASurely you don=t hate your mother.@)

The point: apparent parental acceptance and self affirmation of a child=s experience prior to the stage of thinking may become suddenly different, especially in a negative sense, when thoughts/thinking are brought, through speech, into the relationship. Commonly, for instance, all thoughts not shared by a parent are immediately rejected. For a child, whose thoughts must be as intimate, indeed, perhaps even more personal, since they seem to be self-created, than his feelings (which Acome to him@), parental rejection (ADon=t talk back to your mother!@) becomes powerful at this stage of experience.

If, as I speculate, thinking, being closer to consciousness than the genetic structures which give rise to feelings, is perceived as being even more personal, then adult response to a child=s thoughts must be critical in his emerging sense of self. Not yet able to separate thinking and self, rejection of thinking is certain to be Ataken personally,@ as though it is literally rejection of the being of the child, who he or she is, rather than merely a notion he has. In the beginning, I surmise, we don=t Ahave (possessive) thoughts,@ but rather we Aare our thoughts,@ maybe even more so than our emotions.

Also parental control over a child=s behavior as well as attitude and emotions, is commonly approached through an effort to control his thinking (usually intended, at least consciously, by parents, to be teaching, educating, or Aproperly guiding his mind,@ rather than as self manipulation or control). What is aimed at, namely behavior, etc., is Agotten at@ via words, thus exaggerating the importance and power of thoughts themselves. And, since thoughts are likely to be inseparable in a child=s mind from himself, the significance of thinking itself is predictably exaggerated in personal experience.

Or so, I now think, it was in mine.

Ideally, a child will be able to deal with this new data, namely, parental rejection of unacceptable thinking, by simply keeping his thoughts to himself and only modifying his behavior and language so as to stay in parental favor (mother=s Agood graces@); but, again, such ideals seem to be rare. More predictably, we children, yet unable to separate our thinking from ourselves, take parental thought-rejection personally; even the best of adult intentions directed at Ateaching us what we should think and say@ are apt to become powerful forces in the development of our emerging think-ability, particularly our honest thinking.

At this point in human experience (where authority figures disagree/reject or otherwise try to direct or control our thought processes), the negative side of the capacity for consciousness, namely, unconsciousness (repression of thinking, to be distinguished from Anonsciousness,@ a name for genetic forces yet to arise into consciousness), becomes powerfully relevant. What commonly happens, I think now, is that instead of going ahead with normal, honest thinkingC making personal sense of our actual experience as it occurs, we suppress/repress our real thinking, even the process itself, in favor of simply taking the expressed thoughts of adults as though they were our own, which requires the denial of true thinking and begins the splitting process within our emerging selves. Rather than, as would be ideal, going ahead with honest thinking and adding deceptive behavior and verbal expressions, we commonly opt for repressing our own thoughts (thus occasioning a split in self) and, for pragmatic reasons at the time, ingesting the thoughts of others (beginning with mother).

AMother knows best@ must be one of the most powerful images in human experience at Stage 3 of the Creative Process. The critical choices which are made in individual instants when a child=s thoughts are met with an adult ANo,@ and the child opts for denying his own truth in favor of accepting a parental position, easily become habitual; in time, the initially pragmatic move made to avoid punishment or rejection, becomes an established pattern, a habit enacted by rote, so that a child, in any event of conflict of minds, or even before one can occur, automatically Areads the mind@ of the other and represses his/her own honest thoughts.

Extreme sensitivity to the signs of what others may be thinking, if not actually saying, becomes as habitual with such a child as does the denial of his own normal process of Asense-making@ from the data of his own perceptions. In time, with practice, Amind reading@ (sharp attention to predictable thoughts) of others, as well as mind-suppression (denial of his own thoughts into awareness), become ingrained, if not engened, as a way of life.

Or so it has been so with me.

It=s not that the capacity for consciousness is negated, or that thinking is literally stopped; but rather that the entire process is refocused and directed from attention to honest self-thinking (Amaking sense@ of one=s personal perceptions) to consuming attention to Awhat others may be thinking.@ Mental energies which would otherwise be available for ever more careful and discriminatory Aadding up@ of one=s own data, is then devoted almost exclusively to the intricacies of Amind reading,@ of somehow figuring out what others, particularly significant others, may be thinking, even when they are not clearly stating their notions.

AWhat-they-think,@ (especially focused on loved or admired others, such as parents, friends, lovers, or spouses), when this familiar path is pursued, becomes one of the most powerful icons in life. All the potential personal powers inherent and released in the natural process of decoding images into thoughts, are kept projected Aout there@ on/into these increasingly omnipotent images, the unrecognized gods and goddesses cloaked in invisible robes of Awhat-they-think.@

It is precisely here that Gaia is born as the grandest icon, representative of all her smaller versions. This omnipotent, in practice if not reality, force, dispersed into particular persons, predominantly female, beginning with mother but later to include females in general and significant ones in particular, comes to bear the projections of all our unembraced thinking powers. Her (always capital lettered to signify her omniscient powers) mind (what we know or presume She thinks) gradually comes to replace our own. With Her=s reigning supreme in the thought world, what-we-think, our own honest sense-making from the stuff of personal perceptions, becomes always subservient to whenever She, or our private recollections/imaginations of Her beliefs, thinks.

Beginning with our very perceptions themselves, our awareness of what we see, hear, and smell; then our feelings and desires, followed by our reasoned conclusions; and surely our beliefs (complex conclusions), are all placed on the sacrificial altar of What-She-Thinks. When we are graced with Her blessings (Mother=s Smile or Aunderstanding@), our thoughts are granted the right to exist; but when ours seem to be in conflict with Hers, they are regularly sacrificed, or else driven so deeply into unconscious realms of mind that they are no longer available in awareness to power our pilgrimage on to Stage 4, where concepts are absorbed into self.

The proverbial male quest for a woman Awho understands me,@ certainly my own, is but one for instance of the eternally massive powers of Gaia=s Mind, the source of projected powers which would otherwise exit in our own minding, were we faithful enough to do/be it honestly. We look for Gaia, in this regard, in our ingrained, habitual quest for permission to be mentally honest, not only with ourselves, but more powerfully as ourselves. We want Her Smile, embodied in some particular female, to let us know that we have the right to exist with our honest thoughts, just as, at earlier stages, we wanted her magical powers to ease the pains of our own emotions. We want Her Understanding to okay the workings of our minds, even as we wanted Her Kiss to okay the emotions (fears/pains, etc.) of our bodies.

Gaia=s Mind, analyzed, is the lost-through-projection human capacity to think naturally, clearly, sharply, and honestlyC that is, to follow the normal course of experiencing, from perceiving to imaging, and on to conceiving, to making logical summaries of what arises in the first two stages. It is simply what all little children do as naturally as breathing-- adding sense-making (AI don=t like it because it hurts, tastes bad, or scares me)@ or, AI want to because it feels good,@ etc.) to the results of their own perceptions and images. Do, that is, until the powers of Gaia are imaged, replacing, coming to represent, those which would otherwise be our own. Thereafter, whenever confronted with the normal process of adding up our own experiences, we learn to defer, in practice if not in awareness, to our imagined notions of What-Gaia-Thinks, sacrificing powers which are truly our own on the altar of Her Approval.

Her Mind, therefore and thereafter, stands for our own lost capacity for honest, conscious, thought, for Abeing reasonable@ about our personal experiences, for Aadding things up@ as we see them rather than as we image (or know) They see them. Gaia=s Mind represents sense-making in its purest fullest formC that is, taking into full account the totality of one=s perceptions, feelings, desires, and intuitions, both past and present, in shaping concepts (Awhat I honestly think@) which are sharp, logical (based on known data), and above all, honest. What-I-think, when done thusly, may or may not fit or agree with anyone else=s experience, certainly not necessarily Gaia=s; but it is a finely drawn conclusion (idea, notion, or belief) from all the information which my experience has thus far granted me. No data, no prior learning in the School of Hard Knocks, is left out of such discernments.

Though such thinking is immanently Aright to me,@ this Gaia=s Mind type of thinking is never self-righteousnessCthat is, Aright to me@ is not projected further than myself; Gaia, representative of this pure form of thinking, is Aright@ to/for Herself, but not necessarily Aright for everyone@ (even anyone) else. Gaia Thinking is right-to-self, but not self-righteous. Such pure thinking stops at the edges of one=s own mind, that is, is recognized as what-I-honestly-think, but does not presume to be what-anyone-else-thinksC and certainly not what they Ashould think,@ as though I omnisciently know what is right for anyone but myself.

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ICONS

Images may be tangible, like idols, or intangible, such as, ghosts and angels; mental things, like beliefs or sacred notions, not easily subject to sense; memories of persons imagined or known, like Jesus, mother, or a lover; physical things, like rosary beads, rabbits= feet, tits and ass, or other bodily parts.

The powers perceived as existent in any image (projection is never recognized except in hindsight, since movement to Stage 3 is required, and this inherently undermines, decodes, the image) may be positive or negative, capable of helping or hurting, saving or destroying, turning us off or on.

Images may also be situational or circumstantial, such as, superstitionsCwalking under ladders, seeing a black cat crossing the path, or imaged in situations like Abeing caught@ (stealing, speeding, or being sexualCogling or having an erection), or even in such vague notions as Awhat they think.@

Common to all is unreal external powers which are perceived to move us independently of ourselves or any personal projections. Sometimes we say we must Abelieve in them,@ e.g., in Jesus, Abefore they will work,@ but still the magical power is perceived as external to one=s self. Often a certain ritual or prescribed behavior is required, like praying, turning around 3 times, making offerings, or Abeing good@-- still the power is assumed to be external.

It, whatever it is, even if we must believe or behave in certain ways, moves us; not us it.

In case of imagined situations like Abeing caught,@ or, Awhat they think,@ these may extend past specific events and on to such primary situations as Abeing seen,@ e.g., Acaught being natural@ or as ourselves, seen as we honestly are, unposed, exposed, without make-up, or with hair uncombed. The near universal threat of having a picture taken when one is Anot ready@ or posed must be rooted in this later image.

There is nothing wrong, bad, or even Aimmature@-- in a judgmental sense, about images, even in their most blatant form, like a child=s fear of ghosts or tigers under the bed, or a man=s awe at full breasts. They are a normal, inevitable stage of all human experience, what first happens naturally following any powerful perception (Stage One); they simply are the second stage of the creative process of all human experience.

Though in practice this is difficult, perhaps never really possible at the time, at least in theory, images are to be distinguished from real external powers which may, in fact, without any imagination at all, help or hurt us, e.g., mother, when we are young; police, when we are illegal; or storms or falling. But the difference is real; images, even though they seem to be (metaphor) inherently powerful, Aout there@ forces, are in fact, even if unrecognized at the time, Aall in our heads,@ while other real powers (no metaphor) truly do exist externally.

APretty girls,@ like Jesus and rabbits= feet, only seem to turn us on (or off), but hurricanes and law officials truly can.

Stage 3, conceiving, is the process of thought-division, of dividing images, the results of perceptions, into more discrete parts. It is discerning differences, this from that. It may be seen negatively as decoding or demythologizing images; more literally, when not used as an escape from the power of images, as in an attempt to Aexplain them away,@ to control through Aunderstanding,@ Stage 3 is a normal expansion, a further step in the human process.

Mind-divisions are made and correlated in Stage 3; sense is created. Things are placed side by side, in mind=s eye, and Aadded up,@ figuratively and literally. Synthesis of diversity, which begins with Aseeing,@ the stuff of which images are made, continues toward wholeness, to the experience of saying honestly, Athis makes sense to me,@ or, Athis is the sense I make,@ or, Ahere is what I honestly think, given what I see.@

There is honesty without self-righteousness at Stage 3; not that a certain Asense@ is Athe truth,@ or right for everyone, but it is, when properly made, Athe way I see it.@

Stage 3, decoding, is dividing, discerning, so as to absorb in Stage 4; it is like biting, chewingC making what is too big to swallow bite size, so it may be ingested rather than left external. The whole process is self-making out of clan-made only.

Genuine decoding is not depowering, not an intellectual escape from the power of images, though it is often perverted in this fashion. When so, a basically creative capacity is abused, turned in on the Creative Process, constipating rather than facilitating it. Ideally, it is a step in the transformation of image power into self power.

 

WOMAN=S CONCEIVING

When women become Abrainless= by stopping at Stage Two, is create a vacuum within themselves by denying the human capacity for 3) conceiving or sorting data. It=s not, I think, that they can=t think, but that they don=t. Rather than daring to draw lines, discriminate among the vast variety of their perceptions and images, they stop at the Afeels like@ stage.

In relating, Aconversing@-- I use quotes to imply the misuse of the word. I think they rarely do so, literally, especially with men. Instead, for example, they use their sensitive skills of perception to Aread minds@ or sensitively reflect what another is thinking, to, in effect, Amother@ with words rather than daring to truly 3) conceive, have their own thoughts, and share them in con-versing. Energy otherwise needed for Athinking,@ using their own brains to conceive, sort data, and compare notes in con-versing, is diverted into image-maintenance, protecting images, keeping-all-peaceful, Abeing (verbally) nice,@ rather than daring to listenCwhich requires remaining present and thinking, and responding from their own conceptions.

Instead, they typically, with men, use skills in reflecting, mirroring-what-the-other-says (or even thinks, often finishing sentences for them), or simply state the thoughts of others they have heard or readC all this without talking--that is,, saying anything of themselves, of their own minds. Just as they dress and make-up deceptively, so they often speak.

This mode of talk-without-thought challenges men because it keeps woman herself hidden, even if behind a barrage of words. Man is frustrated in his own manipulative attempt to get-to her verbally. Here too, she remains illusive, not subject to Abeing pinned down.@

Perhaps this difference is as it should be, in service of genetic reproduction. Even so, we both pay when we try to relate beyond baby-making agendas.

STAGE FOUR: MINDING

MINDING

I choose minding as a name for Stage Four in the Creative Process aware of the popular connection between mind and thinking, and thus its limitations. I pick the verbal form, the participle with the ing ending, to imply something more than thinking alone. Minding is intended as a synonym for wholeness, for the apex or completion of human capacity. As such, minding, as meant here, includes thinking, but also much more. Feeling, experiencing emotions consciously, is an even greater element in the substance of minding. When we are minding (existing at Stage Four), we are both feeling and thinkingC that is, being both consciously emotional and mentally alert.

The familiar notion of Afeelings@ and Athoughts@ as separate, with Afeelings@ more valued by females and Athinking@ as the higher male virtue, is not intended here. Rather the human capacity for wholeness, which includes the finally inseparable nature of feeling/thinking, is my intention with the coined term, minding. To be present and minding is to exist with the older and therefore greater human capacity for pre-conscious emotions operative, along with the later and lessor capacity for rational thinking also activated. The familiar battle between emotions and reason, Afeelings@ and Asense,@ is transcended in minding; here both are recognized as older and younger, greater and lessor, elements of oneself. Each is seen as a source of knowledge which is different in nature, often contradictory, but not essentially separable or finally an enemy of the other.

One of the challenges of minding (to be considered later) is the artful merging of these differing sources of data for immediate decisions. For now, I simply note that both of these two basic human capacities are activated and operative when one is minding. The critical distinction here is not between the two, but in whether or not they are consciously activated. In minding, one is feeling/thinking awarely, rather than battling between the two, or trying to do one and not the other.

Consciousness of each is more relevant than either one or the other. But the term consciousness, given its Freudian connotations as an opposite of unconsciousness, is also potentially misleading. By consciousness I refer more to the literal sense of the word: con meaning with, and scious as knowing; therefore, to be conscious, literally, is to be with-knowing rather than simply knowing aloneC that is, both knowing and aware-of-knowing at the same time. Awareness may be a better term for this distinction; when one is minding one is con-scious (with-knowing) or aware of both Afeeling@ and Athinking.@ Openness may also be clarifying; at Stage Four one is open to knowing, to being consciously aware of feeling/thinking knowledge. He exists in a state of receptivity to the wealth of all prior and present perceptions mediated through emotions and reason. He is alert to acknowledging whatever his previous experience has been, whether structured as dark emotions or lighted memories. Neither source of information is being denied or excluded when one is minding.

No Arepression of memory,@ no Ablocking of emotions,@ no Arefusal to think,@ is going on when one exists at Stage Four. One is open to all of his perceptual experiences; each bit of data, whether from feelings or thinking, is welcomed on to the center stage of awareness.

To say that one is conscious at Stage Four (with-knowing), is not to imply totally-conscious, as though one is literally holding all knowledge awarely in current mind-space, with nothing in the darker realms of nonsciousness. But it does imply that no energy is being consumed in pathological attempts to repress or deny one=s actual experience. Because of the wealth of every person=s prior perceptual encounters with the world, certainly all experiences, all memories, cannot be held on the center stage of anyone=s conscious awareness. AMind@ is not large enough, even with 10,000 million brain cells. But what every person is potentially capable of, even if rarely embraced, is our shared possibility of openness, of being willing to entertain whatever it is that we know from our individual encounters with the world.

We can, even if it is frightening, challenging, and rare, be open to all that we know. Repression and denial of knowledge, blockage of awareness and therefore consciousness, may often be pragmatic and immediately useful; but Stage Four minding requires that we move past such functional denials, letting go of illusions of security gained by repressed awareness, and risk. the perils and joys of a truly open mind.

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FEELING/THINKING

Minding, the Fourth Stage of the Creative Process, is being thinking/feeling, a vast step beyond #3, having thoughts and feelings. The substance of possessed thoughts/emotions is absorbed into oneself so that one literally becomes (self is identified as) that which he thinks/feels. His thinking/feeling is who he is.

Thinking/feeling is intended here to be both literal and figurative, that is, literally the two major elements of self in awareness, and figuratively to represent embodiment in its larger sense (of which thinking and feeling are only two discernable parts). Selfing at Stage Four is bodying; self is all that body is, culminating in thinking/feeling. Synonyms for Stage Four minding include: I, self, body, or the combination term I coin, thinking/feeling.

I combine here (thinking/feeling) what are more commonly considered as separate functions (either thinking or feeling), because in reality, when one is being himself, the two are merged into one synthesized form of experience. These two, in combination, stand for the fullness of being one=s embodied self. I choose them because of their availability to awareness; actually, breathing/digesting/circulating blood etc., are other elements of embodied selfing and could be included in a name. But because Athinking/feeling@ is still a bulky and unfamiliar term, I coin the verbal form of minding to represent them both. I mean for minding to name thinking/feeling, which are also symbols for all the elements of embodiment, or what is more commonly called, Ajust being oneself.@

Minding is giving form/shape/substance to all one=s prior and present perceptions which have been imaged and de-coded into thoughts/feelings. The form may be as general as one=s overall living, or as specific as some created art (e.g., a piece of sculpture) which represents an aspect of this experience. Between these two extremes lie all the minutia of one=s daily decisionsC what to do, where to go, when to stay or stop, what to say or not say, etc.

At State Four, all these formsCone=s living (Alife style@), decisions, deeds and activities, plus things done or made are truly expressive of the sum total of his life experiences till that instant in time. Each is truly representative of who he is just then. AWhat you see is what you get.@

They (his living, deciding, activities, speaking, writing, things-done or made) are honestly himself (of, or from, himself) at the time. In a truly creative life, when one is existing at Stage Four of the Creative Process, each decision, conversation, deed, and production (thing-made) is truly expressive of his being at the time.

Because experience is ever-changing, so are the forms which represent it. Any new perceptions or thoughts, which are constantly occurring while one is alive, may radically altar, even replace, any or all prior creations. Thus the creative act in any of its manifest forms is only for the moment; what is creative at one time may be superceded or Ajust routine@ if done again. There is no such thing as permanence in Stage Four creative living. Because life is lively, creativity, like life itself, is continually evolving.

To evade the unfamiliarity of the term minding, I often use the more common word, thinking, to refer to this Fourth Stage of the Creative Process. To be creative at Stage Four is to be minding or thinking.

But I intend the name thinking in its colloquial sense, not as defined in the dictionary. Literally, thinking, in the common sense of Amental activity@ is applicable to each of the four stages. Imaging, for example, and conceiving, each involve considerable activity of the brain; but not in the way I mean here. Colloquial expressions, such as, ANow you=re really thinking,@ implying a fuller use of mind, come closer to what I mean; or, the question, AWhy don=t you start thinking for a change?@

Thinking, as intended here, implies the apex of minding, the fullest possible type of human consciousnessC Athinking@ at its max. To con-ceive, to de-code an image, certainly requires mental activity; yet not of the nature which I attempt to amplify in naming this fourth and final stage of the Creative Process.

Perhaps the word con-scious, understood literally, can clarify. Con-scious combines two Latin roots: scious from scire, meaning Ato know,@ and con, meaning Awith.@ To be scious is to be Aknowing.@ To be con-scious is to be Awith-knowing.@ The relevant distinction comes in the addition of Awith@ to knowing itself. It is one thing to Aknow,@ and another to be Awith-knowing.@ An infant, for example, comes Aknowing@ how to suck; but this is not the same as Stage Four thinking in which one is Awith-knowing.@

Another play on words may help: first there is Aknowing@ (awareness of perceptions); but finally in Stage Four, there is Aknowing-what-I-know.@ Both Stages One and Four involve Aknowing,@ but only in the later stage do I Aknow-what-I-know.@ In Stage Three, where an image has been de-coded into various concepts, we may say that Aknowing@ has been broken down into parts which are held as discrete entities in Amind space.@ Knowledge is Aheld@ or possessed at this stage. But if we move on to Stage Four, we literally come Aknow@ what we simply Aheld@ as knowledge in Stage Three. We move from Aholding-what-we-know@ to Aknowing-what-we-know.@

We move from possession of knowledge to becoming knowledge. The space between that which is held at the conceiving Stage is erased as we literally come-to-be that which we previously had. Or with metaphors of Ahead@ and Abody,@ we may say that what we Aknew in our heads@ at Stage Three, we come to Aknow in our bodies (or in our bones)@ at Stage Four.

At the conceiving level we Aknow about;@ we have (possess) information concerning the subject at hand. For example, we may know Athat exercise is good for you.@ But if we move on to Stage Four, we Aabsorb,@ as it were, that information into Aour bones@ (or more literally, ourselves), so that we come to know it in a qualitatively different way. We don=t simply Aknow about exercise@; we Aknow-exercising@-- that is, the knowledge is the same as ourselves. We don=t Ahave it@ like a mental possession to be kept or discarded; we Aare it.@ We exercise.

A biblical expression may clarify further. Jeremiah said (15:16), AThy words were found, and I did eat them (italics mine)...@ Stage Four is about Aeating our words,@ Achewing on@ that which has previously (Stage Three) been Aall in our heads,@ until it is digested into our bodily selves. It is absorbed into who-we-are at this final level in the Creative Process. Before Aeating our words (concepts held in memory or mind space)@ we may use them as any other possession; like a car in the garage, which we can drive to work or simply leave there and walk, so any Aheld@ idea can be used or ignored. We may, for example, teach them to others (use them for teaching purposes); we may preach them to others, as I have long done. Or we may keep them like treasures in the privacy of our own minds, telling no one, and feeling self-righteous about Aall we know.@

But once we have digested our knowledge into ourselves, once it has been transformed from a possession to a part of who-we-are, then the absorbed knowledge is inevitably lived-out. Since we are it, rather than simply having it, we inevitably do it. We cannot but activate knowledge at Stage Four, because it is now the same as I.

Jeremiah goes on to say that after he had Aeaten@ the found words Athey became the joy and rejoicing of my heart@-- that is, absorbed, they resulted in the inevitably happiness which ingested knowledge always brings. Jesus is quoted (John 13:17) as saying, AIf ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them (italics mine).@ I understand this to mean the same: knowledge itself does not result in happiness. We may become proud or ashamed of what we know (hold in our heads as concepts at Stage Three), but happiness does not ensue until they are so digested into ourselves that we are also doing what we know to do.

Creating is commonly identified with something done or made, such as, a painting or sculpture; the inward state of Abeing creative@ is seen in its outward expressions. While being creative will often be recognized by acts or things made, it is important for understanding to see the distinction between being and doing. One can be creative (at Stage Four) and not do anything visible; or one can do so-called creative works, like art, by rote or skill, without being creative as referred to here. In either case, Abeing creative (at Stage Four)@ may or may not reflect in any visible acts or productions. It is literally a way-of-being, not simply that which is done.

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COLLOQUIAL MINDING

Minding is a coined word, since only the noun and verb, mind, are in common usage. I use minding in the sense of the colloquial expression, Aminding your own business,@ implying a way of living which is more than thinking alone. Minding, as a participle, implies the verbal, on-going nature of the event, rather than just a static state of mind.

I also mean it to include emotions as well as ideas; minding includes both thinking and emoting, that is, it is a human stage which includes both these two major aspects of humanityC older Afeeling@ and newer consciousness. One who is minding will be experiencing a combination of thinking/feeling, with emphasis and awareness continually shifting between the two which are not finally separable in Stage Four.

Such minding is the human capacity for consciousness, which includes feeling/thinking, largely in service of desire, the more primal human instinct. To the extent that mentality is its focus, rather than emotions, it is thinking in service of self. This means that minding is largely non-purposive, not Agoal-oriented@ in the popular sense of Athinking to achieve something@ external, or an act done for others (such as, to impress others or to Amake them understand).

I=d say that at least 60% of minding is non-purposive in this popular sense of Agoal-oriented.@ This does not mean that it Aserves no useful purpose,@ or, is a Awaste of time,@ but only indicates that external achievements are not its primary function. Minding, when focused on the mental rather than emotional side of itself, is more like Aruminating@ or Afree associating,@ that is, various and assorted awarenessesC sense perceptions, images, concepts, etc.-- are freely entertained in this event of becoming/being oneself.

If Stage Three is about de-coding images into concepts and emotions (nouns, implying distinct entities) which one has rather than being had by, as in Stage Two, then Stage Four, minding, is about being the concepts/emotions which one held as possessions in the previous stage. At Stage Three one Ahas ideas and feelings@; at Stage Four one is these same notions and emotions. He is becoming what he previously possessed.

We may say then that the major activity (60%?) at Stage Four is the process of shaping assorted concepts/feelings of Stage Three, themselves comprised of prior sense perceptions projected into images, into ever-changing forms of oneself. I have previously denoted Stage Four as Abeing oneself@-- a culmination of the self-making which takes place in the overall Creative Process. This being oneself may involve making outside forms, such as this writing, or in the case of many others, of making things expressive of themselves. More often, however, it is best characterized simply as Abeing oneself@ without any outside form of doing required.

The other 40% of minding may be seen as purposive or goal-oriented in that consciousness is being used in quest of desiresC that is, thinking/feeling is aimed at genetic goals primarily related to survival and reproduction, being Aselfing@ and sexual. Minding is, in these less often times, Aat work@ in search of whatever is deemed useful for the expanded comforts of self and offspring. We are, colloquially speaking, Athinking about how to get what we want,@ plus more or better forms of same. Such Acreative thinking,@ e.g., might be about how to make more money with less work, or how to decorate the house more comfortably and satisfying to the eye.

The point here is that it is primarily self-serving rather than Adone for others@ or even in service of others. It is, colloquially speaking, intensely Aselfish@-- that is, about how to please oneself rather than about how to please others.

When such thinking is spoken to others (voiced aloud) it may be shaped, for pragmatic purposes, into prevailing social values, cloaking, e.g., the essential Aselfish@ nature of itself. In popular parlance it may be seen as Arationalizing@ or attempting to give socially acceptable reasons for what in reality is essentially related to personal desire. For oneself, however, when one is being at Stage Four, no such Arationalization@ is necessary; Abecause I want to@-- that is, primal desire, is more than enough reason for what one does.

Technically, Arationalization@ is an unconscious process, meaning that one who rationalizes Adoes not know he is doing so.@ He is, in effect, fooling himself while trying to fool others, e.g., about his own intents or purposes. Not so with one at Stage Four. Honest thinking may regularly be made to appear Amore reasonable@ to others for sake of social pragmatics, but not as a cover up for one=s own awareness. It may Asound like@ rationalization, but more literally it is artful deception or careful revelationC sharp thinking (saying) in service of purposes which remain more primally selfing.

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CON-SCIOUSNESS AND MINDING

As previously noted, the Fourth Stage of the Creative Process can also be seen as being-conscious (con = with; scious = knowing). To be minding is to be with-knowing. Con-sciousness, seen in this literal etymological sense, is synonymous with minding, the Fourth Stage of the Creative Process.

Scious-ness, or knowing, begins with awareness of perceptions (Stage One). At Stage Two, diffused knowing is primally shaped into an image of power, a form for containing the power which is generated in events of perception. Knowing, we might say, is being refined from vague awareness to placed awareness. Then, if the process of knowing continues, the shaped but projected knowing-of-power is further refined into its partsC names and concepts (Stage Three). Here the noun, knowledge, is accurate because it is literally an it, a mental construct held or possessed in mind space.

At Stage Three one has (possesses) Aconsciousness@ in the popular sense of the word. He is not yet being his knowing, but he does have it. That which may next be absorbed in Stage Four into himself is presently Ain his mind.@ It is Aintellectual@ knowledge (a noun), but not yet experiential knowing (a participle or verbal form). It may be told, taught, preached, or privately considered; but it is yet to Abe eaten@-- digested into the being of oneself. It is scious-ness,

but not con-sciousness in the literal sense.

Con-sciousness at this Fourth Stage of experience is the apex of human evolution so far. Whereas awareness of perceptions (Stage One) is primal and ancient (millions of years old), advanced con-sciousness may be only a few thousand years of age. It is the Johnny-come-lately on the long stage of human evolution. But, though newly arrived by the evolutional clock, and not nearly so ingrained (engened) as primal awareness, it is still normal and naturalC that is, Ajust the way things are@ for us humanoids. When experience proceeds naturally, we move easily from awareness of perceptions (primary knowing) to projecting the power generated thereby into images seen on the screen of the mind. If nothing interferes with the normal process we begin immediately to de-code (to try, for example, to Afigure out@ where Santa Claus comes from). Then, with this held-knowledge, the process of absorption, of becoming-what-we-know, follows naturally in time.

But I inserte the phrase Aif nothing interferes,@ because this normal process of moving from awareness to con-sciousness, from Stage One to Stage Four, is indeed subject to many disruptions. Creativity is natural, yet regrettably curtailed or stunted in the actual living of many of us. Social powers can be awesomely disruptive in this normal process. Inward, genetically driven, urges toward full creativity commonly face powerful forces in their progression from Stage One to Stage Four. The voices and forces of parents, our initial contacts with society, are formidable in the face of our inclinations to remain honest and creative. The temptation to turn the natural process of consciousness in on itself, into non-sciousness instead, must be immense in the life of every child.

Instead of moving normally toward expanded con-sciousness, from awareness to absorbed concepts, it is often easier in the face of dominant social powers to simply capitulate to outside voices, beginning with parents. Non-sciousness (Anonsciousness@) is a word I have coined to name this stoppage of the normal process. Instead of moving toward fuller consciousness, knowing-what-we-know, we may stop at any level by turning to nonsciousness insteadC that is, to the more socially acceptable state of not-knowing what in fact we would more naturally be-knowing.

For example, if a child falls down and hurts himself (perception = AI hurt@), but a powerful parent on whom his well-being, indeed very existence, depends, says, AJump up, it didn=t hurt,@ then a child is in a significant dilemmaC a crisis of consciousness. Does he remain honest with his own perceptions, quickly moving on to imaging the power of the pain? For instance, by imaging the pain in the Abad chair@ which tripped him, and perhaps kicking it? Or does he listen to the imposing voice, another significant force in his universe, and deny his own awareness? Does he, in effect, repeat what he has heard from without (Ait didn=t hurt@) while denying what he heard from within (Ait did hurt@), and thereby turn his emerging consciousness into nonsciousness, his knowing into not-knowing? Often we do.

This example is but one sense perception, all too common in the experience of most children. Perhaps this typical childhood dilemmaC who to believe: them or me?, can be more clearly understood if we look at the overall content of perceptions and possible consciousness. In broadest terms, the most primal sources of inward perceptions are desiresC Awants,@ urges, Ainstincts,@ inclinations. We are born Aknowing what we want when we want it.@ Initially this is air, milk, and comfort (not too hot or cold); but it soon expands, long before we know language to word it, into an almost infinite variety of other desires, Athings we know we want,@ even if we can only grab or cry to try to get them.

The problem with desires is that a large proportion of them rapidly become intrusive on those around us. We cease Abeing the center of the universe@ quickly, all too quickly for most of us. While our Asmallest desire may be their greatest command@ early in life, the situation speedily changes. Indeed many of our normal desires, thats-which-we-want (to have or do), become not only excessive for Athem,@ but also socially unacceptable. That which was at first on-scene may even shortly become ob-scene. Whereas they once smiled and even applauded the expression of our desires, soon they begin to frown, evoke shame, and even punish us for simply doing Awhat we want to.@

A further amplification of primal desiresC natural perceptions imaged and then decoded into names and concepts, may clarify further. Again in broadest perspectives, the most basic contents of all desires fall into two major categories: Aselfish@ and Asexy,@ that is, we first want that which is fulfilling for ourselves, for survival and enhancement of circumstances, and later, we want that which is conducive to the reproduction of ourselves. Primal instincts are about survival and reproduction, Aselfing@ and sexuality.

So far so good; genes have well Alearned to do@ what is of maximum benefit to their own well-being, survival and continuation. If life began about 3.5 billion years ago, as is commonly figured, genes have had a long time to encode experience into themselves, to Aknow what they want when they want it.@ Long before consciousness ever appeared on the human scene, genes were alive and well, Adoing what comes naturally@-- and ingraining both power and pleasure into whatever worked for them.

But somewhere around 50,000 years ago we began to come our of our caves, lairs, etc., and then around 10,000 years ago recognizable society-as-we-know-it began to appear. The challenges of living in ever-increasing and changing social groups must have been immense. Genes were well prepared for survival and reproduction, for being Aselfish@ and Asexy@ around the caves, but knew little about making it in cities. Social forces were required to curb instincts in favor of social survival and cohesion. If the clan/tribe was to exist, it had no choice but to confront the powerful forces of genes which often flew in its face.

Perspective on the problem may be easier if we compare the ages of the forces. If we consider human society as beginning some 50,000 years ago, then genes have had 70,000 times as long to practice their skills (wants and urges) than have social groups. If all of evolutional time were reduced to a 24 hour day, genes have had 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 58.8 seconds to hone their desires, while society has only had two-tenths of a second to take a stand. Given the fact that primary social values, being Aunselfish@ and relatively nonsexual, fly directly in the face of primary genetic (at least older genes) values, the extremely fragile nature of social structures becomes more apparent.

So far, given the immense odds against itself, society has only learned to cope with primal urges in the most crude and brutal of ways, namely, by overt suppression and punishment. What has been Agood@ for genes has, in largest perspectives, been Abad@ for society. Children must be trained early and diligently and long to suppress their most natural of instinctive desires, namely, to be Aselfing@ and sexual, if society hopes to survive; or so it must have seemed so far.

The point of this brief trek into evolutional history is to throw light on the dilemma which every child faces in the Creative Process when it comes to being honest in any social context, beginning with mother=s arms and extending to being an American (or whatever). If the primary content of emerging consciousness is desire, and if Awanting@ is basically twofold: about being Aselfing@ (I coin this less judgmental word for what is only known as Aselfish@ in society) and sexual, surviving well and reproducing ourselves, then the most power-filled of our inward perceptions emerge in the face of the most powerful social forces shaped to suppress them.

The crisis of consciousness which every child faces is: what am I to do with these natural desires ingrained in my older genes in the presence of the easily recognizable and immediately effecting social desires (Amemes@) which are most often to the contrary? When, out of my good healthy genetic Aselfing@ I want to supplant my siblings, but powerful parental voices tell me instead to Abe nice and helpful,@ what am I to do? And later, when these same, only slightly younger genes, Ainstruct@ me to become sexual while all of society is saying, ANo, no!,@ what am I to do?

The easiest answer seems to be to simply turn the natural process of increasing consciousness, becoming more and more aware, in on itself. Survival for any child must appear to be more enhanced by capitulating to social voices which say, ABe unselfish, and don=t be sexy,@ than by Agiving in@ to powerful internal directives to the contrary. Instead of becoming more aware of Aselfing@ and sexual urges, for example, plus all the social problems they create, deny them awareness; make them non-scious instead of conscious. Interrupt the Creative Process in favor of essential social acceptance. Why be rejected or punished for that which can quite easily be denied? And denial itself, which must begin with the dilemma of knowing both one=s natural perception and hearing the contrary social voices, and having to pick and choose between them, easily becomes a habit. Fooling Athem,@ which is a challenge, while remaining inwardly honest with oneself, must become too much; proceeding on to fooling ourselves as well, becoming nonscious rather than remaining conscious, must be the far easier choice. Certainly it appears to be the one most commonly made.

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THINKING AND MINDING

Thinking, in its literal sense of Amental activity,@ brain cells in motion, Agrey matter@ in operation, is, of course, an integral part of human capacity and hence a part of each stage of the Creative Process. Perception, for example, surely requires that brain cells be Afiring;@ and so with imaging and conceiving. Yet the Athinking@ of each stage has distinctions from that of the others. What is different about the Amental activity@ of Stage Four? How is the Athinking@ of minding distinctive from that of conceiving, or imaging?

First its similarities: As with each stage, the Athinking@ associated with minding involves brain cells Afiring,@ making synaptic connections. AMental activity,@ the Amind at work,@ is much the same as at each of the previous stages. To be alive as a human being, at whatever stage of the Creative Process, is to be Athinking@ in this shared sense of Astuff going on in the head.@ Thus the Athinking@ of minding is in many regards the same as at any other level of human experience.

Even though I have chosen the name minding, implying mental activity as distinguished from physical movement, for this last stage, I also reiterate before proceeding, that conscious Athinking@ is certainly not the only element in minding. AFeeling,@ for example, is another major part of minding. Still, I believe that the mentally associated words, such as, minding, come closer to signifying the overall nature of Stage Four operation.

But how is it different? First I note that Stage Four Athinking@ is natural rather than contrived, learned, a Aspecial talent,@ or the result of formal education. It is more like the mental activity of a two year old, that is, Anatural@ or Auneducated,@ than like that of the proverbial college professor. Like breathing, Stage Four thinking Ajust comes naturally.@ As such, it is AI@ oriented, rather than Aother@ oriented. Its focus is the concerns of the individual for his or her own natural needs and desires. Viewed from an outsider=s standpoint, it is intensely Aselfish@-- that is, rooted in genetic goals of selfing. Just as we recognize that little children Awant what they want when they want it,@ are intensely Aselfish,@ act like they think Athe world revolves around them,@ so the natural thinking at this final stage emerges from the same primal stance.

To be sure, adult Stage Four Athinking@ is colored by vastly more experience with the world, including expanded awareness of inter-connections, of existence-in-community, of the importance of social considerations, and consequently sees beyond the limited perspectives of a child; but, and this is the critical point here: it is no less Aselfish@ or concerned with the personal Awants@ of the individual than that of any healthy two year old. Its difference lies only in the fact that it computes more data gained from aging. Its Aselfishness@ is expanded to include the larger selfing of social involvements, of maximizing advantages with others as well as self. Hence, again to an outsider, Stage Four Athinking@ often appears to be Aunselfish;@ but in reality, this creative type of mental activity is only Asmaller selfishness@ extended to become Alarger selfishness.@

It may appear, for instance, to be Afor others;@ still, could we read the minds of those at Stage Four, we would find, I think, that in truth it is more, not less, self-oriented than that of a child. The selfing at Stage Four, which sometimes looks Aunselfish,@ is actually a more expanded sense of Aselfishness,@ now including one=s place in the wider world beyond one=s own skin.

In this primal sense, much Athinking@ at this level is goal oriented, that is, about Agetting what one wants,@ about using mind to secure desires of body and self. How can I get what I want? How do I go about satisfying the urges which arise within my body? How, as we say about children, can I Aget what I want when I want it,@ at least with minimal delay? How can I maximize my satisfactions and minimize my efforts? How can I expand my pleasures and cut out as much pain as possible? How can I Afeather my nest@ better, quicker, and easier? Such questions as these form the basis of perhaps the major part of the mental activity at Stage Four. Just as a child probably Athinks more about getting what he wants@ than about anything elseC such as, helping others, improving himself, getting educated, or saving the world, so adults at Stage Four Athink@more about satisfying personal desires, Afiguring out@ how to shape the world to fit their own natural perspectives, goals, and Awants.@

But past all goal-focused Athinking,@ which may be summarized as Afiguring out how to get what I want,@ another major part of mental activity at Stage Four is essentially Anon-purposive@ in contrast with that which is aimed at satisfying needs or desires. This second type of Athinking@ is more like clarifying one=s vision than achieving a goal or Agetting somewhere.@ It is an extension of the goal-oriented Athinking@ of Stage Three, where one is Ausing his mind@ to make concepts as a means of controlling the world. Conceiving, even when apparently academic or not directly related to any immediate goal, is still primarily about Afiguring out things@ as a means of decoding the power of images, to acquire power over things, rather than being determined by one=s images. As such, it always has a strong flavor of Anecessity.@ One Aneeds to understand@ as a means or way of coping. Hence the Athinking@ of Stage Three remains essentially goal oriented, even when the goal is long range, such as, Agetting an education,@ as a way of impressing others, or making a living in the world.

But at Stage Four, a kind of Afiguring things out,@ which is more like clarifying one=s vision than about achieving any goal (immediately or in the future) appears. ABecoming conscious@ is the best phrase I now think of to characterize this kind of mental activity. Whereas denial of consciousness is essential at Stage Two, in order to cope with and hopefully curry the favor of powerful icons, expanding the arenas of consciousness becomes a regular activity of the mind at Stage Four.

This mental event may be seen as Aopening the mind@ rather than trying to keep it closed or expending energy in denying, Atrying to forget,@ or otherwise Anot see@ what one indeed does/has or might see. In Stage Four Athinking@ one is opening oneself through opening the eyes of consciousness to the entirety of one=s perceptual experiences, past and present. One is rememberingC opening oneself to whatever prior experiences naturally Acome to mind@ in association with the present event (set of perceptions). Even illogical, seemingly unrelated, perverse, denied, Aweird,@ or painful memories are allowed and welcomed on to center stage of consciousness. Then, as in all natural thought, the second phase of associating one memory, one piece of perceptual data, with others begins. ASense making@ it is commonly called. One then begins to Aadd things up,@ to weigh one thought (memory) against the others, to bring all the dark bits of data into the light of all others, to Aget reasonable.@

In contrast with the purposive conceiving of Stage Three, this opening of the mind in Stage Four is more playfulC not compulsive, of necessity, or Aneeding to be done.@ Though challenging, it is not Alike work.@ Nor is it Afor others,@ needing confirmation or even the hearing of another. It is for oneself alone in the sense that it is not Abeing done@ to please, satisfy others, or achieve an external goal. It need not be told or recorded, as I am doing here, except as a means of further clarifying what is seen. The fun inherent in freedom and honesty-with-self are the only goals in this type of Athinking@ at Stage Four, where the wealth of all past and present experienceC things done, seen, and felt before, plus perceptions in the moment, are invited to frolic playfully on the stage of current consciousness.

AHA=S

The results of such unmotivated, free Athinking@ for-the-fun-of-it, where the wealth of one=s personal experience is brought to some immediate summary, are AAha=s.@ Experience is Aadded up,@ for the moment, into a present conclusion. AOut-sights@C things seen Aout there,@ are synthesized into Ainsights.@ From the jumble of entertained perceptions and concepts some orderly arrangement is found on the stage of consciousness. What was dark and muddled suddenly (even if over a long period of time) becomes lighted. AAha,@ one may think, Anow I see...thus and so.@

These insights or Aanswers,@ in contrast with the concepts of Stage Three, are joyfully recognized as temporary summaries, Aaha=s@ of the moment, rather than permanent or Aright@ conclusions. Because minding is always on-going, subject to new data in each succeeding moment, no Acertain answers@ are ever possible. All conclusions are temporaryC what one sees Ajust then.@ In the midst of continuing consciousness, each such Aaha,@ no matter how exciting it may be at the time, is recognized as time and place-oriented, and subject to replacement by some new revelation. The temporal nature of Stage Four insights does not diminish the delight inherent in each of them; indeed such knowledge but enhances the wonder of the moment of Aaha!@

Also such Aanswers@ or insights are recognized, when one is conscious, as being completely personal, that is, the product of one=s own unique experience, which may or may not be shared by any other person in the whole world. What I see, for instance, is from the wealth of prior perceptions which, though common to human nature in general, are as potentially different as my finger print. When I am conscious, as Stage Four requires, I always know this. This means that I have no necessity of Aproving I=m right@ to any other person, since I realize that they may or may not see what I see. Nor need I defend my various conclusions when others see differently. My confidence, at such times, comes from the knowledge that I have honestly faced, as best I can tell, my real experience until that time, and arrived at this particular insight. It may or not fit any other person=s experience. Indeed, it may not fit mine tomorrow. But for the moment, it is what I truly see at the time.

SHAPING AHA=S

Although the AAha!@ insights of creative thinking at Stage Four, the pithy summaries of prior and present experience, are entirely capable of standing on their ownC that is, are sufficient unto themselves, they will often be shaped into verbal or tangible forms. Such forms, e.g., conversational expressions or objects made, are literally the shapes of the insights of the artist. If, for instance, one is a painter, an insight emerging from the experiences of the artist may be formed into colored figures on a canvass. If one is a writer, his AAha=s@ may take the form of pages in a journal, or chapters in a book. If he is a speaker, they may be shaped into a lecture or sermon.

Outside these easily recognized professional stances, an ordinary person at Stage Four may give shape to his insights in a spoken sentence to a friend or an extended conversation in which his Aaha=s@ are honestly spoken. Or, they may be formed into actions or deeds expressive of the experiential summaries of the do-er. For example, an honest realization of love may be shaped/expressed into the form of a gift or service to the one loved. Whatever form these creative insights of personal experience may takeC whether verbal or physical, in common they all share the characteristic of being honest and revealing expressions of the person at this stage of the Creative Process.

In summary, the life processes of one at Stage FourC the deeds done, things said, actions taken, or objects made, are each like shaped forms of succeeding Aaha=s.@ His or her living is one extended process of shaping the various insights into expressions in the outer world. Not that all insights will be given visible or audible form; indeed, many, for pragmatic social reasons, will never be revealed to any other person. But what is said or done outwardly will be, for such a creative person, but the shaping of his honest self in one form or another.

AWhat you get,@ will be a shape of Awho he is.@

MINDING AND THE UNKNOWN

Such consciousness, while focused on honest summaries of one=s real experience so far, includes awareness of the larger unknown in which all immediate insights exist. While conscious, I never forget that I am human and thus limited, rather than an omniscient being, as many image their gods to be. My Aright answers,@ when I am thusly honest, are seen as Aright for me,@ without the omniscient conclusion that they are therefore Aright for everyone,@ indeed, for anyone else. Thus there can be no Aevangelism@ in the popular religious sense of the word, no sense of AI have the right answer or way for you and I can thus help or save you, if only you will let me,@ when one is present at Stage Four. Delights found in personal insights may be shared, even enhanced in the sharing; but there can be no self-righteousness in such endeavors, no Ayou need to know what I know,@ because there is only right-for-myself-ness in the Aanswers@ of one at Stage Four.

Humility is always present because human limitations are never ignored in one=s awareness of the vast realms of the unknown beyond personal perceptions. One=s candle of knowledge in the galaxies of darkness, both of which remain on the stage of personal consciousness, keep one alert to being Ajust another human being,@ graced, perhaps, with unique perspectives, yet still a finite individual rather than an omniscient (or omnipotent or immortal) god.

This type of Athinking@ or minding is a process of increasing refinement of personal experienceC looking ever more sharply at what one has learned from his own encounters with reality, as distinguished from what he has been told by others. This involves 1) recalling suppressed/denied or forgotten experiences in the past (ways one has found reality to be which were socially or personally threatening at the time, e.g., deceptions and abuses by parents), 2) examining images (icons, gods, and demons) and daring to exit aware of The Enchanted Forest of Stage Two existence, and 3) expanding sensitivity, the variety of one=s perceptions, e.g., seeing, hearing, weighing more evidence, in the present moment.

From these expanding sources of data, sharper, more honest and accurate temporary conclusions are drawn. AAha=s,@ insights, summary-opinions, are all increased and stabilized as they come to be based on wider degrees/extents of personal experience.

CONFIDENCE

Con-fidence (meaning: with-faith) becomes literal; that is, a way of faithfully-being, an outgrowth of open, faithful attention to personal data, rather than a stance based on blind allegiance requiring personal denials and total acceptance of an outside authority, such as, Awhat they say,@ or, what one is told versus has experienced himself. One feels capable, able to make it, confident, secure in his own perceptions and experience, rather than dependent on outside allegiances or external powers.

One is faithful-in-selfing, rather than having placed his faith either in gods, other persons or himself. At this minding stage, only selfingC the ongoing process of being-one=s-temporal-self exists. There is no such thing as a self (or soul), a noun naming an entity. Experiencing is always lively (living), ongoing, as may be represented in verbs and participles, but never static or dead, as signed by nouns. Selfing is living, yet not an it which may be alive or dead.

AUTHORITY

When one is at Stage Four of the Creative Process, final authority is self; all external data from other persons, education, society, and religion, is weighed against honest personal experienceC what one has learned from prior and present perceptions, projected as a basis for prophecy about the future. This doesn=t mean that self is god, but that self is ultimate authority in choosing godsC what to worship and what to condemn, whom to bow before and whom to stand up to, and when.

The true difference, at Stage Four, is not between selfish and unselfish, as society and religion commonly portray, but rather between lessor and greater degrees of selfing. Agape, Atrue love,@ is a higher degree of selfing, not an unselfish act or stance. What appears as unselfish in such social activities as serving others, patriotism, and efforts to improve society or the world, are literally self-serving in the larger sense. At the minding stage, one is aware of the interdependence between self and society, plus the external world, and reasonably attends to the larger dimensions of self-in-world rather than self-in-skin only.

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CONCEPTS AND COMFORT

At Stage Three, when an image has been de-coded into a concept, when a mental picture has been broken down into named parts, one is comforted in the move. Names, and concepts constructed from them, bring relief from the tension inherent in living among power-filled images. AAha; now I know what it is!@

If, for example, I hear a noise in the night (a perception), I immediately image it into some scary form. AItC(whatever shape I give it), Ascares me.@ But then if I go on, as I almost always try to do quickly, I start de-coding at once; that is, I try to name and Afigure out@ what it, my image is. If I succeed in reducing these rampant powers into concepts, such as, AOh, it=s just limb brushing the house in the wind,@ I am comforted. I may then go back to sleep Aunworried@ by the de-coded image.

So far, so good; conceiving is the natural next step in the Creative Process. Ideally, I make this move and continue on with Stage Four, minding. But not always. Often I am tempted, and fall for remaining at Stage Three; I take my present concept to be Aright@ and stop thinking. I, in effect, go back to sleep, even while awake, and quit thinking. I assume that my idea is correct (It really is, for instance, Ajust a limb in the wind,@ and that=s that. My mind is no longer open to further possibilities. I take satisfaction and comfort from Aknowing for sure@ that I have the noise correctly figured. I Aknow I am right.@

Thus closed off from Stage Four, continued minding, I am no longer open to multitudes of other possibilitiesC perhaps it was a squirrel on the roof, or a coon climbing up my bird feeder, or a thief trying to break in, or God calling me to start thinking again. I take comfort in my assumed-to-be rightness. I Aknow for sure@ that I am Aright.@

The pragmatics of such comforting conclusions in the night, when sleep is a primary agenda, are obvious; but the issue I amplify here is the habit of doing the same during the day, when moving on to Stage Four of the Creative Process is more natural and fulfilling.

At Stage Four, all options are kept open; minding is a continually on-going process. The mind is never closed to other possibilities. Concepts are, of course, regularly being formed from new images experienced; but they are viewed as temporary way-stations on the open path into the unknown, rather than as final conclusions, with no need to keep thinking. I have chosen the name minding, a participle, rather than an easier noun like thought, to imply the lively nature of this stage. It is minding, keeping-on-thinking, rather than taking the easy out of any certain conclusion (meaning, end-of-thinking).

Names (nouns) and the formation of reasonable ideas from them (Amaking sense of experience@) are critically important phases of the Creative Process (Stage Three)C but not the end of it. Ideally, all concepts are but the material for further minding or thinking. Just as images are de-coded into names on the way to becoming concepts, so concepts are used as tools for making something out of them.

Perhaps making, implying something tangible rather than mental, could be another name for Stage Four. Minding, as I intend it here, is like making something out of concepts arrived at at level three. The substance of the thing-made may be either mental or physical, such as a decision or a painting. Perhaps it is because I am more accustomed to creating mentally rather than physically that I have chosen the name minding rather than making for this fourth stage. If I were a painter or sculpturer, perhaps I would have made the second choice.

In either case, the name is not the important issue; understanding the process is my present agenda. When I move on to Stage Four I am always Amaking something@-- either mental or physical from concepts I have constructed at Stage Three. For instance, this essay itself, this attempt to make a mental form for the Creative Process, is my current minding, making-something from concepts I have long been honing over time. When I tire of this endeavor I will move to a similar process in the physical realm. For some time now, I have also been forming concepts of how to make a tree house for my grandchildren; soon I will begin to purchase materials, cut boards, nail them to a selected tree, and thus be creating physically, literally making something, just as I am now making some mental Athing@ (this essay).

Another mental example which phases into physical forms, similar to an artist purchasing easel, canvass, and paints, and then creating Aworks of art@ from concepts known only to his own mind, is decision makingC deciding-what-to-do. Certainly this latter example is by far the most common and familiar form of Stage Four activity. In decision-making, Amaking up my mind@ it may be called, I am merging various concepts I have constructed from de-coded images, themselves emerging from my random perceptions.

The creative act of Stage Four, like my essay or tree house, is choosing a course of action, deciding-what-I-will-do-and-doing-it. The content of the decision is not the point; perhaps it will be to get up and go for a drink of water, to get a divorce, or to go out and commit theft, a good deed, or suicide. In either case the creative event of Stage Four, not determined by content, involves Amaking something@ from concepts which reside only in my mind space (at Stage Three) before I dare move on to Stage Four.

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CREATIVITY & CONSCIOUSNESS

Creativity, existence at Stage Four, is commonly recognized by the products, expressions, or external signs of itself. A novel painting, for example, an expression of an apparently creative artist, is taken at face value to be creative. An artful decision, as in my present illustration of Stage Four activity, will be assumed to come from a person at this stage of the Creative Process.

But not necessarily so. Certainly novel Acreations,@ deeds, and decisions will most often result from one being at Stage Four; yet the connection is not inevitable. I have already noted that one can be creative (at Stage Four) and not do anything viewed by others as creative, that is, exist in a creative state of being without any outward expression or sign; now I want to further distinguish between such being at Stage Four and any of the expressions (e.g., paintings or deeds) which are commonly assumed to reflect it.

Many apparently creative acts (or things made) are done by persons still possessed at Stage Two, imaging, of the process. Whereas the paintings, e.g., seem to be creative, the painter may in fact not be creative. He may simply be giving expression to, or reproducing, the various images which appear to him in his relatively unconscious states of existence (as is characteristic of Stage Two). In fact, many of those considered by society to be most creative, often producing prodigious amounts of Aart,@ are, I believe, existing far from Stage Four of the process; they are simply pawns of Atheir muses,@ forming or acting out the shapes of the images which possess them. Their works may indeed be novel and hence considered creative; yet the artists may be far from existence at Stage Four. Indeed, by social standards, many of them may be labeled as pathological or socially maladjusted.

True existence at Stage Four involves fullest consciousness, whether or not this inward state of existence is revealed in outward forms, acts, or decisions. Certainly the images which reflected or contained the personal powers of the individual at Stage Two, or the concepts which were held by one at Stage Three, may still be present; yet at Stage Four they are absorbed into the being of the individual. They have become present in his or her conscious self. The Stage Four creative person is neither possessed by images nor in possession of Ahis@ concepts; he has become them both to such an extent that Athey@ are now AI,@ that is, live in conscious awareness.

From this present consciousness, prior images and concepts may indeed (and most often are) given form and substance in outside objects, deeds, and decisions. But shaped thusly, they are consciously formed; the artist is the creator, not the victim or pawn of so-called Acreative forces@ which are at work Ain him.@ He is not driven; he does not Ahave to create@ to gain relief from the demands of his images. He creates because he is being creative, that is, because he consciously exists at Stage Four of the Creative Process.

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MINDING AND SELF

Minding is being yourself; existence at Stage Four can be recognized or accurately named with this colloquial expression. But, if so, what does Abeing yourself@ mean in this regard? What is the nature of selfing which is synonymous with minding?

I begin with other colloquialisms: to be yourself, to exist at Stage Four, is to be Ataking the best possible care of oneself,@ to be intensely Aselfish,@ to always be Alooking out for Number Uno.@ In each life situation one who is being himself or minding will be most attentive to how what is happening effects himself. He will be like a child in the sense of Aas though the world revolves around me.@ I italicize as though to imply the metaphorical sense of this phrase. It will appear or seem like one at Stage Four Athinks they are the center of the universe.@ Actually one who is being himself is Acentered in the universe@ and therefore appears thusly. But in reality, he simply recognizes that all persons see the world from their own personal perspectives, himself included, and he therefore functions from his centered self.

All benevolences or Agood deeds@ are but the result of intense selfingness extended into the outside world. They are not in any sense literally Aself-sacrificing.@ There is no martyrdom (in the popular sense of this word) at Stage Four, only the appearance of self-sacrifice while one is engaged in Atending to himself@ well, as he exists and is effected by the world beyond his own skin.

His Athinking,@ for example, is the natural use of mind in service of selfC that is, he thinks 1) to figure out the best, easiest, and quickest way to Aget what he wants.@ His mental planning is first of all focused on how to satisfy genetically rooted, bodily communicated Awants.@ In the most primal sense, these are: to get pleasure and avoid pain, to Afeel comfortable@ in the world, to Afeel good@ or Abe happy.@

Then, 2) to justify these self-satisfactions in the eyes of others. After planning for Ataking care of Number One,@ his thinking is directed to figuring out Agood reasons,@ socially accepted Amotives,@ for what is literally about self-satisfaction. A common human dilemma is that bodily desires, genetically ingrained Awants,@ are most often in direct opposition with social values; e.g., body wants to Abe selfish@ while society wants us to Abe unselfish.@ Genes direct us to Atake care of ourselves;@ social standards (Amemes@) conversely direct us to Atake care of others.@ Existing in this familiar dilemma, as we all do, one who exists at Stage Four gives mental attention to both; first, to Asatisfying himself,@ which society views as Abeing selfish,@ and then, secondly, to present himself in such a way as to remain accepted by society.

Technically, this second type of thinkingC presenting a Agood image@ of oneself (that is, one which is socially approved), is rationalizing. The psychological name for using Areasoning@ to come up with Agood motives@ (e.g., AI didn=t mean to hurt you,@ or, AI was just trying to help@) is descriptive of the second type of natural Athinking@ at Stage Four, with one major exception. Commonly Arationalizing@ (the psychological phenomenon) is done unconsciously; but when one is minding he deals with Awhat they think@ realistically and with awareness. After striving to Aget what he wants,@ the most basic drive in selfing, he then strives to present himself in the world in the most favorable light, since he also recognizes that selfing is always in context, that is, that his fuller self also includes social membership.

What may appear as Abeing unselfish@ or even as martyrdom, e.g., giving gifts or Aserving others,@ is literally about tending to one=s larger self, including both one=s en-skinned-ness and one=s in-the-world-ness, one=s primal embodiedness and one=s social connections. The selfing which is synonymous with Stage Four existence often appears-to-be (metaphor) Aunselfish@ for pragmatic social reasons, but never is (in reality) self-negating. It only appears so while one is dealing with selfing-in-the-world beyond selfing-in-one=s-skin.

The difference between the Aself-centeredness@ of a typical two-year old who Awants what he wants when he wants is@ and often Ahas a fit@ when he is not satisfied, and a person at Stage Four of the Creative Process is that the latter has an expanded knowledge of the wider world, including how it effects oneself. Like the child he also Aknows what he wants@ and is diligently engaged in Atrying to get it@; but unlike a two-year old, he also sees how his activities in society effect his self-satisfactions. Both are Atending to themselves@; but the wiser adult is also Atending to his larger social self@ as well as to his primal bodily needs and desires.

Benevolence at Stage Four is directed toward tending to one=s larger self-in-the-world. It is not second hand manipulations of others, or Acon jobs@ to trick them into Ataking care of me.@ For example, one is not Abeing good to them@ so they will Abe good back.@ There is no conning for love as Stage Four, or for anything else. There is no currying of attention of others except for pragmatic professional reasons, such as making money, or for deep genetic reasons. One is not engaged in pleasing to Abe liked@ for such psychological reasons, such as, a Aweak ego.@ In fact, at Stage Four, there is no Alooking for love (being liked by others), only looking to love, because such loving is a higher and deeper form of self-satisfaction.

BRAGGING

Because one is seeing clearly at Stage Four, rather than trying not to see, as at Stage Two, he also sees himself clearly, as he actually is. He sees himself in comparison to others realistically; for example, he recognizes differences in intelligence (Abrains@), beauty, and abilities. From such recognized differences he can honestly see or say that he is smarter or dumber, more or less handsome, or more or less able at certain tasks than is another person. That is, seeing clearly, he also sees himself clearly. But he does not engage in either Abragging@ or Aputting down on himself@ as ego-type endeavors. He may Atoot his own horn@ for practical social reasons, such as, advancing personal causes, but not for image reasons (like trying to appear better than he actually is). He does not, for example, brag on himself to cloak a fragile ego, or Aput down on himself@ to hide from recognition.

At Stage Four the power of such intangible images as AWhat They Think@ has been decoded into realistic facts; it no longer exists in gigantic unrealistic proportions, as is commonly so at Stage Two. Consequently, one relates realistically to the powers of society and particular others. When he is better or stronger, he relates accordingly; when less skilled or weaker, he also takes these differences into account; but he neither brags on, nor condemns, himself in service of ego.

EGO

When there is a strong, clear, and accurate sense of self, as is true at Stage FourC when one recognizes his own capabilities in comparison to those of others (what he can and can=t do), there is no room for ego. Ego, a sense-of-self which is not rooted in reality, is a psychological illusion, useful in coping with powerful images at Stage Two existence, but entirely unnecessary at Stage Four. As I come to be myself, to be minding rather than imaging only, I have less and less reason to be Atrying to protect (or present) my fragile male ego.@ I become more capable of realistic self-representation, and consequently the ego I created long ago while coping with the powerful images which surrounded me (also largely of my own creation), is gradually being crowded out by the presence of my real self. This, I think, must be the finest result of daring to move through the Creative Process.

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MINDING & ANSWERS

At Stage Three one Ahas the answers.@ Powers previously posited in images are withdrawn and placed in concepts formed from de-coded images. Confidence is shifted from icons to explanations; one comes to feel capable based on knowledge rather than appeasing power sources. AKnowing what is right,@ or Ahow things work,@ or Awhat one is supposed to do,@-- that is, knowledge Ain the head,@ supplants the power which was formerly confronted through acting in accord with the desires of idols (adored others, gods, goddesses, or Apowers that be@). At Stage Three one comes to place trust in information, Aeducation,@ facts, Athe truth,@ Awhat I know,@ rather than Athe gods,@ fate, omens, Agood behavior,@ or Aright living.@

But at Stage Four all this changes; suddenly there are no Aright answers,@ no Acertain knowledge.@ AThe truth@-- confirmed knowledge which is right and permanent, fades away. Faith placed in information, facts, or Aknowing what is right,@ becomes shaky and uncertain as one enters the wider world more characterized by mystery than by answers. At Stage Four, where minding replaces conceiving as the on-going process, there is no absolute knowledge, no Athe truth,@ no Aright answers,@ indeed, no answers (as nouns) at all!

Answering, a participle, replaces answers as nouns. That which was static and sure, apparently permanent and trustworthy at Stage Three, an appropriate place for trust, replacing the previous sacred images, now becomes equally untrustworthy. All answers (permanent truths) are gradually recognized to be but temporary summaries, constantly subject to revision. The Aright way@ is seen as only one of many ways, none more certain than any other.

It is as though at Stage Four one takes a laxative for the mind, much like Exlax for the body. Concepts, previously seen as Aright,@ even sacred, hardened in the head, just as shit may become hardened in the body, are gradually softened. Stage Three certainties, though viewed as Aright@ at the time, are actually a form of mental constipation, blockages of the process of thinking, even as hardened shit blocks the processes of digestion and elimination. As one moves on to Stage Four all hardened concepts, nouns in the mind, are softened to a state of recognition as flexible summaries only, no longer Atrue,@ certain, permanent, or Aright.@

AHaving the answers@ is replaced by a different kind of faith, now found in answering. The move from confidence in knowledge to faithing (faith in knowing) is an awesome challenge. More about that later; for now I want to clarify the nature of answering in contrast with Ahaving answers.@ Although faith in knowledge is an advance over faith in objects or persons (images), it is by no means the end of the Creative Process.

Answering is first to be seen as an on-going process. The verbal form (participle) is chosen to imply an active mental operation, in distinction from the noun form, answers, which are static concepts in the mental world, much like rocks in the physical world. As a process rather than a mental object, answering is always temporal, in time, rather than permanent, removed from time. It is also circumstantialCrelated to context, rather than absoluteC regardless of place. Answering may be Aright for now,@ or, Aright in this context,@ but is not, Aright forever,@ or, Aright anywhere (in all circumstances).@

At Stage Four of the Creative Process, Aright@ is softened from a rigid absolute, essentially dead, to a flexible and lively creation; the shit, as it were, is reborn. AThe Truth,@ once dead and removed from vulnerability to life, from the delights of doubt, is now resurrected into animate Atruthing,@ a sacred possibility worthy of our human best.

ATruthing,@ in contrast with Athe truths@ of Stage Three, is the process of bringing one=s fullest knowledge from the past to bear on one=s sharpest perceptions in the present, and shaping both into some current formC such as, an answer, a painting, or an action. The wealth of all one=s experience, past and present, is given shape in the moment. Such an answer, for example, is indeed truthful (truth-full) in the sense of filled-with-one=s-best-truth. But such Atruthing@ is always temporal in nature, because one at Stage Four remains continually in touch with the larger unknown surrounding all immediate answers. He knows that while an answer may be right-for-now, or right-for-this-place, it may in all likelihood not be right-for-later, or even right-for-now in some other place.

Perhaps Atruthful@ in the sense of honest rather than dishonest may clarify. ARight@ at Stage Four means honest-for-me. The answer one gives, for example, is honest for the speaker; it represents clearly his best information available at the time, his fullest knowledge to date. In it he is being personally honest; he is representing his truth, even though it may be different from the truth of all others. It is, at least (and most) honest. The value of the descriptive word honest rather than right lies in its vulnerability to personal error. When a person is Ahonest@ we recognize the presence of human limitations, the fact that no one Aknows it all,@ and even if he is Abeing honest,@ he may still be in error. Still, if honest, he is not lying, even if he is mistaken in what he says. This is the vulnerable, lively nature of truthing at Stage Four in contrast with AThe Truth@ of Stage Three.

Of course the term right is also useful if taken in its personal rather than absolute sense. What one says or does at Stage Four is right-for-me, but this honest expression of Arightness@ is recognized as temporal and related to the one who speaks or acts, rather than being a universal truth unrelated to persons, times, or circumstances.

To continue with the example of speaking: one at Stage Four always faces the possibility of answering, with full recognition that his answers are temporal in nature, drawn from his own experience, and hence may be irrelevant to the experience of others. He can be honest or truthful, but not absolute or dictatorial in what he says. When he chooses to speak (and chooses is a critical distinction here, because one at Stage Four never has to answer), his answering is known (at least by himself) to be a commitment of who-he-is just then, that is, the response of a finite human, not an infinite (omniscient) god. He also realizes the temporal nature of all his answering, because he remains open to further information which may change the nature of his answer to even the same question in the future.

This does not mean that answers at Stage Four are Awishy-washy@ or full of equivocations

and qualifications. Indeed they may be short, sweet, and in language which sounds absolute, as though the speaker Aknows for sure@ what he is talking about. Such, however, is not the truth for one who speaks at Stage Four. He may be brief and to-the-point for clarity, but not from a sense of personal omniscience. He, even while sounding absolute, knows full well that he is simply being honest at the time; in the next instant, because he is open to further revelation even as he speaks, he may Achange his mind@ immediately. Minding is lively and constantly subject to change with new data, in sharp contrast with Stage Three conceptions which are commonly taken to be Aright@ and permanent.

In summary: Aright answers,@ characteristic of Stage Three, are phased into answering at Stage Four. ACertain knowledge@ is replaced by current knowing. AThe Truth (with capital letters)@ becomes being truthful (all lower case). Confidence which previously lay in possessed knowledge (Aknowing what is right,@ or, Aanswers in the head@) is moved to the ever-changing possibility of expressing knowledge which remains of a temporal nature. The noun, answer, remains a useful grammatical form for sentence construction (such as, AI know an answer@), but no longer carries absolute connotations. More clearly, one who speaks at Stage Four is answering for purposes of communication or self-revelation, but not as a revealer of Ultimate Truth, as though he speaks like a god from Mount Olympus (or heaven).

In answering thusly, one is daring to give voice to his most honest summary of personal experience, what he has learned in the School of Hard Knocks, the way things appear or seem-to-be to him at the time. Before one can respond in this fashion, he must have risked the fullest possible consciousness, bringing onto the stage of his present mind all memories from the past, all perceptions in the present, and synthesizing such experiences into statable concepts subject to the limitations of language forms.

Such indeed remains an act of great faith, far exceeding that required for believing in gods at Stage Two, or in concepts at Stage Three. Here one must risk faithingC without an object, mental or otherwise.

Bottom line: minding, when shaped into language rather than objects or actions, is answering without having Athe answers.@ When one Ahas the answers,@ no faith is required; one need only tell AThe Truth@ which he presumes to possess, an exercise in thought and speech but not of nerve. It takes no Aguts@ to deliver Aright answers,@ but answering without them is a far different matter.

In thought, aside from any speech to others, the process of minding is the same. One is daring to bring personal experience to fruition in consciousness, to risk summarizing in mind space what one has learned so far on the subject at handC to form, that is, an unspoken answer. If one is shaping an object, such as a sculpture or painting, or an action like what-to-do-next, the process is much the same. In the midst of the unknown, in the absence of any certainty, one is daring to formulate a pithy summary of his experience to date. If as a thought, he is reducing innumerable notions into a single coherent, synthesized idea. If as an object, he is shaping it to conform to his most honest inward perceptions. If as an action, he is choosing a course in conformity with his desires, learned knowledge, and goals at the time. In either case, the fullness of his silent, embodied self, who he honestly is in the moment, is being shaped in time and space just then. Creation is in progress.

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FOCUS OF MINDING

While creation is in progress, the focus of one=s attention is on tapping the wealth of his own personal experience, of bringing into awareness the fullness of what he has perceived and learned in regard to the subject at hand. Questions being entertained include: What do I know about this? How do I feel about it? What do I think? What from my past relates to this subject? When I was in a similar situation before, what did I do? What were the results of what happened? What resistances do I have in being honest with myself here? What would most clearly and honestly represent me in this regard? What do I want to do (the guidance of desire)? What would please me the most? What might happen if I did exactly what I feel like doing (or making)? Can I bear the predictable results of shaping myself clearly in this event of creation?

Note that the drift of all these exploratory questions is inward rather than outward. Circumstances are certainly taken into account, but the focus of the information sought is one=s fuller self, not that of other persons or outside authorities. Perhaps the most tempting questions which divert, indeed prevent, the process of any creation are: What should I do? What do they want me to do? What would please them? For pragmatic reasons these questions may be entertained tangentially, as a way of clarifying predictable results; but they are never the focus, certainly not the dictation, of any creative decision, act, or object.

The overall aim of minding when engaged in creating is toward some result which will: 1) represent oneself most directly and clearly. If the form is verbal, such as, speaking to another or writing, the aim is to choose words which most clearly represent truth as one knows it, that is, his sharpest current thinking/feeling. If the form is an object, say a painting, then the aim is for the canvass to Asay@ the artist in his purest form, to portray his inner vision most clearly. It, even as a sentence, is to represent himself with clarity. A Glenn Yarborough song had this line: ALet my heart be heard in every word I speak.@ This is the nature of both speaking and doing, when creation is the aim. One=s innermost being is to be represented clearly.

2) Secondly, the goal is personal pleasureCthat the statement, action, or object, be pleasing to oneself. In colloquial language (which is not literal for any creative person) the goal is Ato be proud of what one has said or done.@ If an expression is creative, no matter what form it takes, the creative person will feel pleased or Aproud@ of what he has done. I place proud in quotes to imply the colloquial sense of the word rather than an egotistical satisfaction. The meaning is about the inward pleasure which is inherent in any true self expression, even a Agood shit.@ An artist knows what he has done is Agood,@ not because others think so, or because he is socially rewarded, but because he knows his work represents himself, at least at the time it was done.

If one speaks about an honest act of creation he may say, AI like it,@ meaning it pleases me because it Aspoke@ me at the time. Perhaps I would Asay (do)@ something different now, but it pleased me when I did it. He might also feel or say, AIt is good!,@ but this would not be a value judgment in the sense of virtue (good versus bad). It would mean it is a Agoodly@ representation of himself; it is what he Aintended it to be.@

Perhaps the sharpest and most consistent focus of creativity is on personal honesty. In striving to please himself rather than others, one at Stage Four is trying to be Aas honest as possible@ in whatever form he may choose. AHonesty@ is intended here to mean far more than factual correctness; the focus is an identical correlation between inward and outward reality. The word sincere may come closer. A creative act is always Asincere@ or honest. No guile or misrepresentation is intended.

3) Thirdly, however, circumstances, are always taken into account when a creative form is to become public or known by another. To say that a creative work is honest and sincere does not mean that the artist is Agoing naked in the world@ regardless of circumstances. He is not simply engaged in rebellious self-righteousness, Athumbing his nose at the world,@ saying in effect, AI can do whatever I want to, no matter what you think.@ In representing himself honestly he is also representing the fact that he does exist in society. A significant part of ourselves involves social membership, inter-relationships, being a-part-of as well as being a-lone-one. Because one present at Stage Four of the Creative Process is also aware of this larger dimension of himself, he also represents this in his self expressions. His Ahonesty@ includes his knowledge about cause-and-effect in relationships as well as within his own skin. After one knows about potential consequences, he is dishonest when he ignores these possibilities.

This means in practice that the forms of one=s honest and sincere self-representations, when they are to be known by others, will be shaped to include these wider considerations. The aim, in this regard, is not simply to please others, to say/do Awhat they want me to@ instead of Awhat I want to.@ Rather it is to carefully include these external considerationsC things known about potential consequences or effects on others, in the act of creation itself. After one knows, for example, where nudity offends, then clothing may be worn in creative presence. In like manner, it may well be that the final chosen form of a creative act will include honest deceptions, cloaks or covers which respect the vision of others who may see, as well as one=s own.

In such cases, however, the deceptions are for purposes of wider honesty, not because of personal shame or fear. One is not using the cloaks (clothing, in my physical example) because he is ashamed of himself (e.g., his body) or is afraid to be known, but rather because the truly creative act includes all that one knows, both from within (desire and experience) and without (potential consequences). The final consideration, when potential responses of others are weighted, is not Awill they like it?,@ or even, Awill they misunderstand or reject@ my creation. Sometimes one may choose a form, knowing it to be offensive or likely to be rejected by others. Even then, however, the choice is not merely rebellion (ABetcha= can=t stop me!@), but from one=s fuller self where the risks have already been calculated and the gamble responsibly chosen. If a miscalculation has been made, and the negative consequences are greater than predicted, such a responsible artist does not Abemoan his fate,@ complain about rejection, or Afeel sorry for himself.@ He knows that he chose the risk before hand, responsiblyC that is, from his fuller self.

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STAGE FOUR SEX

Biologically, sex, like breathing and digesting food, is such a primal element in life that it functions much the same at any stage of the Creative Process. With no thinking required, the physical nature of sex at Stages One and Four, and in between, is indistinguishable. But with the advent of society and consciousness, sex was never the same again. Psychological factors, evolving along with the expanding nature of awareness, changed forever this natural animal and human function.

The most significant changes have occurred in relation to the fact that societies have historically dealt with the socially threatening powers of sexuality by the crude mental device of suppression and repressionC that is, by attempting to exclude sexuality from the domains of conscious existence. This has been attempted, and largely accomplished, through such social modes as limiting language about sex, even words to name and describe the various natural events associated with being sexual. Then, since total mental denial has been impossible, those words which have emerged anyway (such as, fuck) have been ruled obscene or Abad,@ and banished from socially acceptable talk.

Not only language about sex, but most of the natural sexual impulses and activities have been judged as socially unacceptable, illegal, and religiously evil. The end result is that we all grow up in social circumstances where sexual talk and most sexual activity is severely limited and generally exists under a pale of shame, guilt, and evil. Certainly sex consistently remains the grandest of all obscenities. AThe devil made me do it,@ is a common excuse when unacceptable sexual activity appears in spite of our best efforts to deny it.

Perhaps the most significant personal result of this general mode of coping with sexual powers, in spite of all its obvious social values, is the limited experience which we civilized humans have in becoming and being sexually conscious. Because overt sexuality of thought, talk, and action is so long kept as obscene, most social humans are relatively limited in existing with our actual sexuality in conscious mind space. Fortunately, however, such conscious denials, though useful in social structuring, have done little to diminish the actual powers evolved through genetic structuring. Indeed, they have, I think, unwittingly exaggerated the actual nature of human sexuality in our semi-conscious awareness of what all judgments and punishments have failed to eliminate from our essential natures.

Specifically, in regard to the Creative Process, the prevailing social situation of making sex obscene, has resulted in its confinement (and exaggeration, I think) at the image stage. Since, for example, male erections, like breathing, often Aoccur anyway,@ regardless of what we may or may not Athink,@ the presence of sexuality from which they emerge is impossible to totally ignore. No matter what a boy or his mother Athinks@ (allows into consciousness), neither can completely erase their physical perceptions (Stage One) of this socially-shameful Athing@ which will later be judged as Ahaving no conscience.@ Since Ait@ seems to arise Aanyway,@ in spite of what either may do or deny, its recognition as imaged in some external power, completely foreign to one=s self, must be as natural and predictable as imaging fear in ghosts, or anger in ogres.

However it occurs, the near universal existence of sexuality, certainly by males, at Stage Two of the Creative Process, where all powers are recognized externally, seems apparent. If we dare awareness at all, most of us with penises Asincerely believe@ (religiously function) as though (note metaphorical stance) females Aturn us on@ as well as Aoff.@ That is, we live as though the immense powers inherent in our own gonads and long evolved physical capacities, actually exist in the Apretty girls,@ more specifically their tits and asses, which inevitably seem to Aturn us on.@

I observe what while most males I have known, certainly myself, have kept our sexuality at Stage Two, imaged more than conceived, most females, as best I can tell, have succeeded in even earlier denials. Feminine sexuality, as clearly as I have been able to discern so far, is largely captured and contained at Stage One, perceptual awareness aloneC that is, female=s appear to consciously know sexuality mostly at the sensual level (perception sensitivity), rather than overtly as it begins to emerge at Stage Two imaging. Rarely do they seem to (I can only surmise, since females are mostly uncommunicative about sex with us males) image sexual powers as commonly as all males must. The absence of sexuality in female consciousness, surely of their own sexual powers, is, I conclude from the limited data available to me, the most profound arena of all female darkness.

In summary, I think that the enormous powers evolved through the emergence of X and Y chromosomes some 600 million years ago, when Amales@ and Afemales@ first began to appear, is still largely limited to Stage One (perceiving) in women, and Stage Two (imaging) in men. Even when an occasional woman goes on to form images from her sexual (Asensual@) perceptions, or a man to de-code his images into concepts (as I am doing here), few of us, as best I can tell, ever move on to experience Stage Four sexuality. Minding sex seems to be immensely rare!

Consequently, my speculations to follow are based largely on conjecture and projections made from very limited data. Even so, here goes.

Stage Four sex, first, like all other creative acts at this level of human experience, emerges from internal rather than external powers. This means that powers previously posited in female images (for males), such as, tits and ass, will have been withdrawn and re-accepted as a part of oneself. A Stage Four creative Asex act@ (event culminating in orgasm) will be consciously Apowered@ (moved by) initiatives arising almost entirely from within the skin and mind of such a sexual person. Surely, another person may commonly be involved, and all the evolved Agene eye@ responses will remain activated; but, and this is the critical distinction, one=s Aturned on-ness,@ one=s sexual arousal, will be consciously recognized as primarily emerging from self rather than outside oneself.

By Agene eye@ responses, I refer to all genetically evolved Aattractions@ between males and females, such as, a man=s ingrained Aknowledge@ about the most conceive-able women (young and sexy), and a woman=s comparable attractions for good sperm and security-potential. These, as extensive as they may be, will likely remain operative, like breathing, no matter what stage of the Creative Process one functions on.

Still, as I have speculated elsewhere, the actual power of such genetic attractions (seemingly Aturn-on@ abilities) is only about a maximum of 10% (maybe only 3 or 4%) of what constitute the common attractions between men and women. The remaining 90-96% is a result of immaturity or psychological factors which are reduced as one moves along the Creative ProcessC for example, the image powers which males project on to female bodies, are de-coded into concepts and then absorbed into self at Stage Four. The real (genetic) powers of attraction remain, but the vast majority of such Aturn-ons@ are consequently withdrawn into oneself.

This means, in practice, that at Stage Four sexuality is largely personal, with only a minimal amount of its obvious power and pleasure seeming to Acome from@ either the other person or an image in one=s own mind. I, consciously, become aroused from within rather than from without, that is, by my own creative powers rather than by images of either the present or some absent female body. Friction or actual touch remains a relevant part of arousal, but even that power is recognized, at Stage Four, as arising from one=s own self rather than the bodily part of the one being touched.

For examples, the previous powers projected into woman=s breasts, ass, and cunt, plus other more psychologically based fetishes, such as, elbows, feet, legs, ears, hair, etc., to Aturn me on,@ to serve as the icon which excites me, are withdrawn. Each is returned, in my consciousness, to simply the natural body part which it was before I began my idolatry long ago. A breast becomes again Ajust a breast.@ An ass, Ajust an ass.@ Even cunt, the most powerful, I think, of all male icons, is again seen as simply the entrance to womb from which we all come.

Likewise with powers which have previously been projected into images of woman=s actions, e.g., Her Smile, Her Aunderstanding,@ Her Atouch,@ Her Aholding me,@ even the greatest of all, Her Awanting me,@ in sharp distinction from my wanting her, are withdrawn from the magical realms of The Enchanted Forest of Stage Two imaging. Her (capital letter) Smile is once more Ajust her smile.@ Her Aunderstanding@ is again simply a quirk of shared perspectives, when and if it ever occurs naturally. Her Atouching me@ is, past the actual physical stimulation involved, just as incidental to my arousal as that of the bed sheets or my own hand. Her desire, her obvious passion perhaps indicative of ovulation, is likely so genetically rooted that it will always remain an invitation to male desire, much like a Aconditioned response@ or automatic reaction. Yet even this power, to whatever extent it is physically ingrained, will be limited to its actual reality, devoid of male projections which commonly enhance its magic.

So too with powers of fantasy which commonly include all of the above plus much more. Pornography, with its graphic images of feminine perfection in body, enhanced by all that male Agene eyes@ have long known to look for, namely, youth, virginity, health (large breasts and hips) indicative of baby-making potential, beauty (maximum odds of conception and perfect offspring), plus of course, apparent desire indicated by pose (posturing for seduction) C all the fantasied images evoked by air-brushed photography and enhanced by the male safety inherent in total control over them, are returned, after the move to Stage Four, to being Ajust pictures@ like any others.

The titillating powers of memories of prior sexual encounters (real or imagined), commonly enhanced by secondary elaboration, with real persons, movie stars, or self-created sirens, plus all the fantasied Athings they might do@ to seduce, empower, or otherwise Aturn me on,@ are also returned to the memory banks of the mind to lie de-coded and de-powered among the wealth of other experiential data sometimes useful in current decisions. At Stage Four, one need not abandon the current scene, even in mind=s eye, in search of fantasied stimulation to Aturn me on.@ The embraced power inherent in simply being consciously sexual is more than enough for Amaking the scene@ in truly loving style.

To note, however, the radical shift in power from magic projected on to the female body back to its real source, namely, male biological systems, does not mean that either romance or Aappreciation of female beauty@ is negated; indeed real romance and true appreciation are enhanced when projections are withdrawn. Possessed of greater personal power through the reclamation of forces previously given away, one is freed to participate in romance on a conscious level rather than remaining dependent on unconscious factors. Also, freed to openly examine feminine forms, rather than merely reacting on the basis of genetic and psychological factors alone, one is easily able to expand the limits of Abeauty@ to which he responds sensually.

There is a significant difference between Agetting turned on@ C where the power source is external (in various parts of the female body), and being Acited@ C when the primary power lies within oneself. I use the coined word Acited,@ root of Aex-cited,@ to further imply the personal nature of this latter Stage Four state of existence. AEx-cited,@ our familiar term for the state of sensual arousal, still implies, with the prefix Aex,@ that the source is external. At Stage Four of the Creative Process, the Aex@-ternal part of the power one experiences is minimal; most of the Acitement@ comes from within.

When one is being Acited@ rather than Aturned on@ by external sources, such as, tits and ass, the situation is more accurately described as Awith >citement=@ while in the presence of, say, a beautiful female. She, when I am in this Stage Four state, is not Adoing it to me,@ but I am Abeing this way@ with her of my own volition. I am daring to be Aturned on@ or Aexcited@ (to use colloquial terms) by my own choice. Knowing that the source of the powers of arousal is within myself, I also have more options in either discretion or expression. I can, therefore, be both sexually Acited@ and socially sane at the same time. But only when I am at Stage Four; otherwise I am dictated by magical powers which are totally beyond my control. I may acknowledge or suppress, but the potential wisdom of personal choice is beyond me when my essential existence is still at Stages Two or Three.

One further word of clarification: when I imply choice rather than dictation by a magical female body, I do not mean that all my biological systems, such as, blood flow to penis, are within the realms of conscious option. I do not, for example, simply Adecide@ in my conscious mind to Ahave an erection@ C or not to. But when I dare presence at Stage Four, I do trust my bodily capacities to function normally while I choose what I consider to be appropriate social responses considering circumstances and time. Consciousness gives me options in speech and social actions, while trusting bodily capacities allows me to mediate normal reactions within the constraints of social norms, except, of course, when I slip back into The Enchanted Forest of Stage Two imaging.

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MINDING AND IMAGES

Previously I have used the words images and icons as synonyms. I wish now to draw a distinction. At the minding stage of the Creative Process there is a sense in which all thoughts are images. Literally speaking, sans projection of personal power into images, Aall is perception@ C that is, all human knowledge is limited to what we can perceive, plus the images which we form from our perceptions. At minding we return to this primary fact; the essential difference between perceiving at Stage One and minding at Stage Four is that the images formed from perceptions at the latter stage are done so consciously, in awareness, rather than blindly.

When images are formed at Stage Two, they are created without awareness; we shape our icons unconsciously, Awithout knowing what we are doing.@ At Stage Four we recognize for the first time that images are but the natural process of shaping perceptions. With this awareness we are freed to create such images in their most natural and hence beautiful forms withoutC and this is the critical difference, projecting personal power into these images. We may now shape images from our perceptions and still know that they are images only, not icons with power of their own. Our images at Stage Four are Ajust images,@ that is, formed-perceptions which are the natural process of creativity, yet without special powers.

Perhaps a distinction between images and icons will clarify. If we use the word image in its literal, non-magical sense, that is, to simply mean a reflection or representation of something else, in this case, the original perception; and the word icon in its more colloquial senseC implying something religious, such as, an idol, imbued with special powers, or magical, like a genii or witch, then this essential difference may begin to appear. At Stage Two all images are literally iconsC that is, shapes and forms imbued with powers of their own (projections unrecognized); whereas at Stage Four there are no icons (empowered images); all images are just what the name implies. Just as photographs are Afrozen@ forms (images on paper) of real life scenes, so images, at Stage Four, are mentally Afrozen@ forms of living perceptionsC with no more inherent power than pictures on the pages of a book.

The essential difference is projected power. Icons (perceptions at Stage Two) are perceived to have powers of their own, completely apart from the individual who perceives them. Images (perceptions at Stage Four) are clearly seen as forms created by one who makes them; such images have no special powers of their own. The projections which occur unawarely at Stage Two are not made at Stage Four; personal powers remain personalized (with the person) rather than being displaced on to an icon.

Icons (images at Stage Two), as previously discussed, come in two major categories: religious and secular, e.g., gods and lovers. Whereas the powers of religious gods are more often recognized, those of secular lovers, though worshiped more highly, are commonly less in awareness. We Asimply adore (worship)@ a lover, Awithout thinking about it,@ while we consciously know we are Aworshiping God.@

The point here is that we function at Stage Two as-though power is external, whether in a conscious religious sense or an unaware secular sense. Our god may be an image to whom we pray at church, or a woman before whom we bow, in spirit if not body, at home; in either case, powers which literally arise from our own perceptions are assumed-to-exist Aout there@ in a Sky God or House Woman. At Stage Four, images are also formed from perceptions just as they are at Stage Two; except here, powers experienced in perception are recognized within oneself and not projected on to the images which we shape from them.

Stage Two images, whether recognized as religious or taken to be secular, are all literally iconsC that is, treated as idols which possess special powers apart from the person who worships, adores, or pursues them. In practice, all such icons are sacred to one who Ahas@ them. Stage Four images, in sharp contrast, are never taken to be sacredC inherently Aright@ or powerful. In forming images at this latter stage of the Creative Process one remains aware of his acts of creation; he is consciously shaping personal perceptions into forms, knowing that he is literally the creator of them, that they are formed through his own powers and hence have none of their own. Images at Stage Four are never worshiped, either consciously or unconsciously, but remain as Asecular@ creations of the one who shaped them.

At Stage Two, images-as-icons (or idols), taken to possess special powers, are always experienced in an ultimate, final, or assumed-to-be permanent form. ASacred@ means than each such image can properly be capitalized in language as it is in experience; a god becomes a God; a right-at-the-time action becomes Right; what seems-to-be truthful just then is taken as The Truth.

As such, these sacred imagesC God, Right, or The Truth, are assumed to be ultimate and final, Athe way things are and will always be,@ Aworld without end, Amen.@

Idols are not only taken as omnipotent (all-powerful), but also immortal (unchanging-in-time). The Truth, or Right, is assumed to be Athe same forever,@ Athe same for everyone,@ and, Athe same in all circumstances@ C that is, impervious to time/space and context. Such a God or Lover, for example, is seen as one who can Asave you forever,@ or, Amake you endlessly happy.@ Heavens and Honeymoons are taken to be perpetual.

Images at Stage Four, as distinguished from these icons of Stage Two, are never viewed with such sacred parameters. They are neither omnipotent (actually not-powerful at all) or immortal (lasting forever); rather they are clearly recognized as temporalC as a product of both time and circumstances, subject to the predictable changes in all temporal objects. If good, they do clearly represent one=s honest perceptions at the time; but for a creative person who remains in process, they are also subject to revision with new perceptions. For such an artist, for example, a painting which clearly represented his vision at one time, may easily and likely be subject to revision (repainting) on another day after new perceptions have arrived. For a writer, an idea which clearly represented his insights at the time is continually subject to revision, even discard, with new informationC which one at Stage Four is constantly open to receiving.

No paintings or writing, no images formed from perceptions at Stage Four, are seen by the creative person as sacred in the sense of super-human, beyond time and space, subject to representation with capital letters. An artist=s Atruth@ is clearly recognized as Ahis truth@ at-the-time; it is never taken as The Truth which is applicable or even representative of anyone else=s experience other than his own. Even though he delights in its honesty, Afeels good@ when it clearly shapes his true perceptions, and can truthfully (for himself) say, AThat=s good!,@ he does not set any such creation Aup on a pedestal@ of wood or mind, where it is adored or worshiped or viewed as permanentC the Afinal word.@ Hopefully, if graced by more time and experience, one=s work (play!) at Stage Four, will always be supplanted by later versions, new creations formed from perceptions which followed previous Agood@ (honest) creations.

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MINDING AND POWER

Presence at Stage Four takes powerC to stand respons-ably, to be free, to make choices, to confront opposition, to reach goals, and to endure pleasure. This power is generated, initiated, born in Stage One, perceivingC the chemical/physical event of responding-to-stimuli, of activating senses in response to circumstances, of interacting with the world as self to other, I to it, e.g., in seeing, hearing, touching, etc. These events generate personal power. To be is to be response-able; to respond is to generate power.

The next natural step is #2, to image or shapeC give form to generated power. Because it seems that the it to which we respond is the cause of this power, we tend first to image or imagine the experienced power as existing in the object to which we have responded. AIt,@ for example, Ascares me@ C Amakes me...fight or flee@; Aex-cites me,@ or, Aturns me on.@ For a child: AMother (it) makes me...comfortable, happy, secure, etc.@ It seems like Santa Claus comes and has the power of giving.

Normally #3, conceiving, making sense of experience comes next. We move on to decode images. But problematically for ourselves, functionally for society, we easily get caught here, refusing to go on to figure-out, to conceive. We leave, as it were, our Santa Clauses at the North Pole. Instead of reclaiming, owning our power, we leave it Aout there,@ locked within our imagesC who we then must please to gain permission, or rebel against, in either case remaining without our powers owned.

POWER CHALLENGES

Four challenges of presence at Stage Four of the Creative Process begin with: 1) Being-with-power itself. Even though power is required, we commonly have more practice with power-projected (Image Stage) than with being power-filled, owning our own power. AThey,@ in common experience, have always Ahad@ power over us. Paranoia is more predictable than omnipotence.

2) Then, if we learn to stand power internally rather than externally, comes the challenge of freedomC of Adeciding-for-ourselves.@ With power Aout there@ our primary experience is either with pleasing or displeasing, going along or objecting, following orders or rebellingC in either case, not with the nerve necessary for regular decisions. Deciding-what-to-do, outside the protections of Should, is grandly challenging! This may be seen as the Athreat of freedom.@ We all have more experience with bondage than with freedom.

3) Then comes fun, the challenge of being pleased. As with freedom, we may consciously seek pleasure; yet the fact remains that we have limited experience with passion, being Aturned on,@ and much practice with boredom, being Aturned off.@ Learning to stand being passionate, and yet acting responsibly in society, is a grand challenge also.

4) CreatingC doing Aselfing@ stuff, is a fourth major challenge. Giving form and shape to images decoded into concepts, Amaking things,@ such as, decisions, artistic objects or ideas, decorated spaces (or faces and bodies), all acts of creation are inherently challenging. Though freeing and fun, creating anything is also demanding of the creator. One must Aput his whole self@ into honest creations.

Reclaiming projected powers involves facing and dealing these challenges. It occurs through daring to go on to #3 conceiving , and then on to #4, absorbing conceptions, minding, knowing-what-we-know as ourselves, becoming our own experience, rather than staying at #3, Ahaving@ versus being what we know, being smart, but not yet wise.

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MINDING AND RIGHT

To be minding is to have moved beyond the common labels of right and wrong, good and evil. Such omniscient judgments which are the stock and trade of Stage Two, where all power is projected on to images, are laid aside when one dares to become creative. ARight and wrong@ are replaced by Ahonest and fake@ in the perceptions of one at Stage Four. His questions, for instance, are no longer AIs this right (or wrong)?,@ but rather, AIs this honest (or dishonest) for me?@

The sense of external omniscience, of Aobjective@ right and wrong, of perfection Aout there,@ for instance, in a religious god or a secular good, is replaced by the challenges of internal knowing. Attention once given (at Stage Two) to trying to determine Athe right thing to do (to say or to be)@ is now given to Athe honest thing to do (or say or be).@

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REASONING

How are minding and reasoning related? What is the place of Abeing reasonable@ in Stage Four existence? How is reasonableness different at Stage Two and Stage Four? In the Creative Process, what is the progression of the human capacity to Abe reasonable.@

First, definitions: by Areason@ I mean the capacity to weigh data, to hold one perception in Amind space@ and compare it to another, then to many others. Reasoning is a human mental capacity shared with other animals, but much more expanded. Apes, e.g., reason, yet their capacity for doing so is much less than that of humans. Reasoning, comparing and weighing data, is the primary function of mind at Stage Three.

But as Stage Four, that which begins at Stage Three is carried on to fruition; what one does (as a mental act) at Stage Three, one becomes (as an existential state) at Stage Four. Reasoning, we might say, Ais eaten@ at this latter stage; whereas we can Athink reasonably@ or even Aact reasonably@ at times at Stage Three, at Stage Four we literally come to Abe reasonable@ C to exist in this fashion. It ceases to merely be an optional function, or a performance-at-the-time, and becomes a style of being itself, that is, a way we are.

At Stage Two, where thinking, the capacity to symbolize and thus hold Athoughts@ in Amind space@ begins, there is no reasoning in its literal sense. Because all power generated in perception (Stage One) is immediately projected into images, any reasoning which takes place is seen as occurring in the image itselfC that is, Ait@ seems to be reasoning for me, rather than me doing so myself. The image gets the credit. The Ghost, for example, Amakes me run away,@ that is, reasons that I must move to protect myself.

At Stage Three, where we begin to de-code the power of imagesC to see that the Ghost itself did not Ascare me@ or Amake me run,@ we are beginning to Areason for ourselves,@ to reclaim the human capacity for Abeing reasonable@ as an aspect of ourselves rather than existing in the images we create at Stage Two. When (or if) we move on to Stage Four, these acts become Aingrained,@ absorbed into ourselves.

In summary: At Stage Two, we are totally Aunreasonable;@ we do not consciously hold data in Amind space@ and weigh one piece of information against another. The image, or so we assume, Areasons@ for us (tells us what to do). When a person is existing at Stage Two, since they are not reasoning themselves, it is pointless to Atry to be reasonable@ with them. Logical data which does not conform to the images directions is Anot computed,@ that is, is not entertained in consciousness. The person seems to Ago by feeling alone,@ to be totally impervious to logic or reason; in fact, they are. No amount of reasoning, of logical data, sways their opinions or actions since they are determined by the images they have created or accepted from others. (I say Athey@ as though only others are at Stage Two. This is because Stage Two existence as described here is never recognized by one who exists there. When I am at Stage Two, I never know it at the time. Only in hindsight do I recognize that I was Abeing totally unreasonable@ at the time. When I am under the power of my images it always seems to me that I am Abeing reasonable@ because I am not looking at reality with any degree of objectivity.)

At Stage Four, the situation is completely reversed; powers previously projected into images, including the human capacity for reasoning, are withdrawn into oneself. Here, one is not only creating images used for communication or pleasure, but also reasoning oneself (Abeing reasonable@), since the capacity is now absorbed into who-one-is. To say that a person at Stage Four is Abeing reasonable@ is literalC that is, reasoning is not simply an act performed or a stance taken; it literally is the person.

In practice this means that such a person is Aliving out@ whatever Amakes sense@ to him; he is Apracticing what he preaches@ C that is, Adoing what he knows to do.@ He is being reasonable in the sense of existing with Awhat he knows to do@ activated in whatever he is doing. If, for example, he knows Anot to overeat,@ he limits his eating accordingly. If he knows Ato exercise every day,@ then he engages in daily exercise. If he knows Athat smoking is dangerous,@ then he either avoids smoking or else consciously takes the risks. If he knows AI shouldn=t be telling you this,@ then he doesn=t.

This doesn=t mean that one at Stage Four Aknows what is right@ in an ethical or moral sense, but rather than he is honest with what his experience has been. He represents his acquired knowledge from the past in the events of present living. He may Aact dumb@ as a stance or ploy, but he never is dumb in the sense of Aignoring what he has learned.@

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MINDING AS HEALING

I have used the metaphor of Aeating@ to describe Stage Four of the Creative ProcessC Aeating our words.@ This metaphor can be useful in portraying the process from the perspective of words/ideas. The mental concepts formed at Stage Three are Aeaten,@ just as physical food is eaten; they are, in effect, Adigested@ into the Amental body@ (the Aself@), even as vegetables are digested into nutrients which become the physical body.

But more literally, a metaphor of Ahealing@ may be useful if we view the Creative Process from the perspective of power. As noted before, when we freeze an image, projecting and keeping our own power Aout there@ (in the image), we literally split ourselves. What naturally begins as but a temporary separation when we first see our inwardly experienced power mirrored in the image, then becomes an extended-in-time division within ourself. The power generated in perception which will ideally be re-accepted as a part of our emerging self is left Aout there@ in the image.

But since the image is, in reality, but an illusion, a figment of our own imaginations, a mental mirror created to facilitate the normal process of enlarging our selves, Ait@ literally is not real, apart from our continued projections. The separation which seems to be in reality, in the world outside ourselves, is actually within ourselves. It is not really Ait@ which is divided, but Awe@ ourselvesC that is, AI,@ whenever I keep an image frozen with my projected powers, am literally split within my sense of myself. What seems to be (note the metaphor) Ait@ (the empowered image) is actually but a part of AI@ which is displaced or projected into the mirror of the image. For all practical purposes, such as, living well in the real world, I am divided within myselfC literally, in psychological terminology, schizo-phrenic, divided-in-mind.

From this perspective of power, minding, moving on to Stage Four in the Creative Process, may best be metaphored as healing. When we Aeat our words,@ digest our intellectual knowledge (as seen from the perspective of concepts), we are more literally healing ourselves. The split which occurred within ourself when an image was frozen in time is now being healed, even as a physical wound, such as, a cut (split in skin) is healed in time. That which was once divided (skin or self), is now brought-back-together, healed.

The additional metaphor of whole may clarify further. That which was split or parted (the self) when an image was frozen in time, is now Amade whole@ again. If we create a participle from the adjective whole, such as, whol-ing, we might say that ASplitting is healed by wholing.@ If we make a verb of whole we might then say: AWe split ourselves when we freeze our images at Stage Two, and whole ourselves when we dare move on to Stage Four.@

The religious word holy, which is literally a form of wholing or making whole, is an apt term for this phase of the process. When we move from Stage Three to Stage Four, eating or absorbing our knowledge, we literally heal or whole our previously split selves; we become, as it were holy.

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MOTHERS AND MINDING

At Stage Four, when one is literally Athinking for himself@-- that is, living with eaten knowledge versus head knowledge, with Aoutsights@ and insights digestedC family is a fiction, mother is a name for a birthing female, and God is known, present tense.

AFamily@ ceases to exist as an emotional unit bound by illusions of Alove,@ and is recognized as a biological/social structure, where Ablood is thicker than water@ and property is pragmatically shared. AMother@ is returned to the level plain of all humanity, honored for her sacrifices, but not worshiped for her continued favors. And God, who is Creating, is embodied in those who are then creating.

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POWER AT FOUR

ACITING@

I choose the last part of the more familiar word, ex-citing, to name this focus on power at Stage Four; citing, as its etymology indicates, is, in contrast with ex-citing, about internal powerC can-do-ness generated from within, rather than coming to one from an outside source. Ex-cited, at least by definition of its parts, implies that the citement is ex, or from without.

And so it is with all the familiar words and phrases intended to name the human state of being-with-power; even this bulky phrase is necessary because the common word, em-powered, intended to name the existential state of being-powered, implies by its em, that power comes from withoutC as though power cannot exist in a person less it Acomes to him.@ To be-powered, he must, or so we seem to think, be em-powered.

Other common terms, such as, Aturned on,@ imply that it (she or he) did it to one; in-spired, though beginning with in, is understood to mean that the spiration came from some outside source. Thrilled, by definition names an inward state; but in usage we nearly always think that it (he or she) Athrilled me@-- that is, did it to me. Even if we say, AI am thrilled,@ the ed, past tense, implies that it was done to me.

The same is true with the expression, A I am moved.@ It is as if I am moving, then something has to Amove me.@ Although we all know, intellectually, that emotions rise from within, yet we persist in thinking that (living-as-though) someone or thing Amakes us feel... so and so,@ for example, AHe makes me mad,@ or, AShe makes me happy.@

Ecstasy, a name for extreme excitement, literally means beside oneself, again implying a state which is apart from self in stasis, or unmoving.

When judgment enters the scene, e.g., when we do Abad@ things, more than blame is implied when we say/think Athe devil made me do it,@ or, Asomething just got into me,@ or, Ashe led me on.@ A deeper implication is that the cause or power for our immoral actions is external rather than internal.

This language situation exists, I speculate, because we are all more familiar with existing at Stage Two of the Creative Process, imaging, where indeed all power is perceived to be external, in the images we have formed from Stage One perceptions. This may in fact be a major reason for imaging, namely, to cope more safely with dangerous powers generated in perceiving.

In either case, most popular understanding of personal power is fitted to Stage Two, where all power is presumed to exist outside oneself. This observation is relevant here because focusing on power at the minding stage of the Creative Process flies in the face of all our more familiar assumptions about power. I chose the coined words citing or cited, omitting the familiar ex prefix, because we unfortunately have no readily available words for naming this state of existence.

A deeper problem lies in the nature of thought itself, such as in this essay; namely, that names (words for) are required before rational thought even becomes possible. We can=t Athink about,@ at least reasonably, that which we have not first named. The nature of rational thought is that we must hold various symbols (names or ideas) in mind space while we compare one with another. We cannot do this without names. We can, of course, perceive (sense, e.g., a smell), without names; but before we can proceed to conceive (Stage Three) we must have a symbol in order to hold the experience in mind space before we can reason about it.

Otherwise, the images are everything, including all-powerful.

One point of this discussion about language is to note how difficult it is to even think about power at Stage Four. With words mostly created and tailored for Stage Two image existence, where all power is presumed to be external, we are hard pressed to think clearly about minding and power, the nature of umph at Stage Four of the Creative Process.

This, however, is my subject here.

First, I note, in sharp contrast with familiar words and understanding geared to express/describe how things seem to be at Stage Two, power at Step Four is primarily from within rather than withoutC that is, self-generated instead of Acoming to us@ from outside ourselves. At Stage Four we return to the primary facts of Stage One, namely, the power generating nature of perception itself, before it is projected and then imaged as existent in the images themselves. With con-sciousness added to non-sciousness, knowing-what-we-know appended to primary knowing itself, we then recognize the creation of power within ourselves.

At Stage Four, we cite, not Aget ex-cited;@ we become Aon@ instead of Agetting turned on.@ We are spired, not in-spired by external causes. We Afeel...@-- that is, are Amotional,@ but are not e-motional in the popular sense of being made or caused to feel by outside sources. We Athink...@ but are not Amade to think,@ as revealed in the familiar expression, Athat makes me think... so and so.@

However, to note the personal nature of power generation at Stage Four as arising from within rather than coming from without, is not to imply a god-like, ex-nihilo (out of nothing) type of creation. Creation, at this level of experience, is the ultimate in human, yet not super-human. Self-generation of power through perception is indeed potent, power-filled, but not omni-potent. At Stage Four we are powerful, but not all-powerful. To be thusly human, at the apex of our evolved capacities so far, is to be god-like, in the sense of creating, even godly (holy or wholly), yet not god. In theology (notions about God), God, we may theorize, creates ex nihilo, (out of nothing); but when we humans create (at Stage Four), we always and only create Aout of something which we did not create.@

We Amake things,@ but always out of other things. We may even Acreate ideas,@ but only from prior ideas simply combined in novel ways; we may write novels, or novelly, yet finally all writers are plagiarists, building from words, language, and ideas which existed before us.

The point: to acknowledge and affirm the inherent nature of human power at Stage Four, where we become more god-like, or in metaphorical language, approach the face of God, is not to imply that we become gods ourselves. At best, we become godly, of God, in God, with GodC but not God.

GOD AND MINDING

God, perceived as an entity of any sort, tangible or intangibleC that is, as an icon on the mantle or an image of the mind, is still an image, and hence a product of human creation. Other than for thought purposes in attempting to conceive ultimates, or to communicate with others about such theories, all traffic in goding is idolatry. Any god which can be had or held, even in the mind=s eye, is an image and idol. And such idolatry, whether existent in primitive object worship, totemism, or in sophisticated theological treatises, is still based on Stage Two experience, even while it is being decoded or intellectualized at Stage Three.

At Stage Four all such idolatry is ceased. It is impossible, literally, to be creating and to have a god or goddess (or an image of any sort) at the same time. As humans we can exist at Stage Two, having various gods and demons as are common in all religions, both churchly and secular; indeed we must, since imaging requires them. But to move from Stage Three, where images are decoded, and on to Four, is to absorb the stuff of images, namely perceptions, and thus to exist without imagesC powered from within rather than without.

God and various other names for ultimate human experiences remain useful for purposes of thought and communication, but are recognized at Stage Four as language forms only, not literal names (as nouns commonly are) for omnipotent (or even less potent) images. Any such imageC either held in mind or perceived to be Aout there,@ e.g., in heaven, subject to influence by prayer, good behavior, etc., as popularized in State Two religionsC no matter how crude or sophisticated, carved of wood or stone and placed on a pedestal, or formed of words and ideas and frozen in the mind, is still idolatry. And as the first of the Christian Ten Commandments reminds us, we can have no other gods before God without falling into idolatry, which prevents our presence in the kingdom of GodC that is, as worded here, existence at Stage Four of the Creative Process.

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CHALLENGES OF MINDING

Minding, more than any other human option, so far as I know, takes faith. No other potential human experience, as best I can tell, requires more courage, more Aguts,@ more determined presence, than daring to exist in consciousness with an open mind to all of one=s actual experience.

Why is this? The three major reasons for this challenge which I presently note are that such consciousness requires confronting: 1) power, 2) pleasure, and 3) responsibility. First: power. As difficult as this has been for me to recognize, I now think that the deepest and most primal human challenge is to see and accept the natural power which is generated through all perceptions (Stage One of the Creative Process). Although the power itself, the can-do-ness which perceiving creates, is normal and consciously desirable, mediating such power in a family and social context is a challenge which few of us seem able to successfully negotiate. It is easier to opt for repression of awareness of power, for assuming degrees of impotence which make Agetting along with others,@ beginning with mother and father, less difficult.

After practicing relative weakness for a long time, we predictably come to view ourselves as less-empowered than we actually are. We learn to cope and survive with reduced consciousness of the real powers inherent, for example, in being selfing and sexual. We learn to Amake it@ with common social repressions of Aselfishness@ and the fuller extent of powers of human sexuality. Whereas such denials, such assumed degrees of impotence practiced over long periods of time, are socially pragmatic, returning to become conscious of actual powers can be extremely challenging. Being Aweak,@ as consciously distasteful at it may be, turns out to be easier than embracing powers which we have long learned to repress and deny.

Thus the first major challenge in becoming conscious, open to the fuller extent of human capacities as is required of Stage Four, lies in confronting natural powers generated in all perceiving, especially becoming open to those operative when we are honest about selfing and sexuality. For whatever else it may be, and indeed it is much more, creating is empowering (literally, powering); to acknowledge and become the powers inherent in creating (existing at Stage Four), then to mediate such powers artfully in society, is a challenge of considerable complexity.

Next come those associated with pleasure. Creativity is inherently powering and pleasurable. It=s fun to be creative, at Stage Four of the Creative Process. Consciously, of course, we all Awant to have fun.@ Pleasure is desirable. We all Atry to have a good time@ whenever we canC at least consciously. Deeper analysis, however, commonly reveals the ambivalence which comes with Ahaving fun,@ especially Atoo much fun.@ It seems that all our conscious drives to seek pleasure are countered with deeper threats inherent in its actual experience. We Athink we want to have fun,@ but only in carefully moderated and personally controlled amounts. As illogical as it seems to popular conscious thought, deeper pleasures appear to be dangerous to our accepted sense of who we are. It is as though we may die (or be punished: Athis is so much fun it must be sinful!@) if we Alet go@ too much.

The problem is that creating, existing at Stage Four, is inherently pleasurable, indeed, deeply joy-filled. And as with power, we seem to think more highly of it than we are experienced at being. We say we want it; but actually finding itC as inevitably occurs when we move from the conceiving at Stage Three to minding at Stage Four, is a second source of challenge. We cannot be creative without confronting both the power and pleasure which are inherent therein.

Response-ability is a third major challenge in becoming creative. Both its literal meaningC ability-to-respond, and its familiar meaning Abeing responsible,@ are relevant. First, we must dare to re-embrace repressed or denied capacities for openly responding to reality with all our genetic urges and ingrained inclinations; we must accept natural response-abilities, rather than curb or deny them in service of social acceptability or conformity with shallow senses-of-self, such as, with reduced Aself-esteem.@ Such natural abilities-to-respond are often particularly suppressed in the arenas of selfing and sexuality. We are much better trained in our ability-to-respond to shoulds and oughts of the social and religious world Aout there@ than to the wants and urges of our personal world Ain here.@ But in becoming response-able, as Stage Four requires, we face the challenges inherent in being conscious of all natural as well as learned responses to reality.

The second and more familiar sense of Aresponsibility@-- related to duty or attention to consequences, is an additional challenge. Existence at Stage Four, where the powers and pleasures innate in human wholeness are confronted and embraced, also requires Abeing responsible for ourselves@-- that is, giving up illusions of personal irresponsibility, of Abeing taken care of,@ of being able to Ablame others@ for what is wrong, of being Ainnocent victims of circumstances.@ The current social portrayal of victimization, as in Aplaying the race card@ in legal defenses, or, the Apoor innocent me card@ in female advancement, have no place in Stage Four existence.

Here one becomes both response-able and Aresponsible@ for his or her own welfare and destiny. Fate, the gods, the stars, bad parents, unfair social structures, etc., etc., are left behind as one dares see and assume full responsibility for oneself. Illusions of The Enchanted Forest, the world of innocence where all forces of good and evil are external, the natural arena for Stage Two existence, are abandoned when one dares decode the images at Stage Three and then absorb the powers and pleasures which had been projected into them at Stage Four.

When one comes to exist creatively, there is Ano one else to blame@ or credit. AThe buck both starts and stops here.@ No excuses are relevant. There are no gods to pray to, no stars to look to, no fates to curry, no bad mothers to blame, no saviorsC either sacred or secularC to search for. In facing the challenges of being present, wholly, as one=s natural self, one both literally and figuratively becomes response-able and Aresponsible for@ himself.

In combination, the challenges of power, pleasure, and responsibility, make moving to Stage Four of the Creative Process a courageous, a very Agutsy@ advance. Being creative does indeed take much faith.

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GENDER AND MINDING

Minding is bringing prior experience (perceptions imaged, partially decoded into concepts) on to the stage of consciousness, introducing the option of holding or expressing. If the latter choice is made, minding is further engaged in 1) deciding what to say or do, where and when to go, and 2) how to shape the near infinite variety of structures available to humans for forming what we perceive.

Minding, especially for men, requires standing courageously with the ever-present unknown, patiently continuing its unfolding, without escaping into easy answers or unwise actions. For women, already more familiar and comfortable with the challenges of standing the unknown, the greater courage is required for sorting and choosing, rather than escaping into their more acceptable ignorance and temptations to victimization.

If the substance of minding is prior perceptions brought to bear on present experience, its focus centers on genetically inherited goals, primarily in the arenas of survival and reproduction of ourselves, Aselfing@ and Asexing.@ Overall, minding is self-oriented in its quests rather than other-orientedC that is, the material for minding comes from within (bodily inherited knowledge, plus prior perceptions remembered), rather than without, e.g., social or religious knowledge, known through Aeducation@ from family school, or church, about Ahow it is,@ what one should/ought to do in life.

Minding certainly includes much attention to outside information, such as, social and religious Ashoulds@-- ethical, moral, and legal rules of society, since Aselfing@ is usually in social contexts where the rules of group membership always apply; but its central orientation remains within the self. Attention to outside data is not for socially virtuous purposes, such as, helping others, serving society, or improving the world. Even though activities may appear Aself-less@ to outsiders, one who is at Stage Four of the Creative Process attends to others because they effect the well-being of himself. He Atakes care of himself@ in the larger sense of also being attentive to social contexts in which he exists. His appearance of self-less-ness at times is literally but the fuller attention to his larger selfing.

Standing with the unknown, the particularly male challenge, means being openly present with not-knowing, without rushing to figure, fix, or otherwise evade waiting-to-see what one will do next. Women, growing up with unknown menstrual cycles and many other uncontrollable elements in their daily lives (such as, Abad hair days@) which males can successfully avoid, have much more practice with not-knowing. Men, more oriented to conscious analysis then to bodily periods, have more practice with Afiguring things out@ (analyzing how things work) and trying to fix things which don=t work than we do to standing with the unknown.

When men move on to Stage Four they learn what most women have long known, namely, how to say, AI don=t know,@ comfortably and without apology. They learn to recognize the limits of their knowledge about Awhat=s happening,@ Ahow things work,@ Awhat=s gonna happen if...,@ and in general, Awhat to do (how to fix) what=s wrong.@ They learn to be wrong, to make errors, without wasting time in regret or attempts to Aprove we=re right.@

They even learn to ask for directions!

SECTION THREE

COMPARISONS

THE CREATIVE PROCESS:

a) Perceive; b) Image; c) Conceive; d) Mind

1. a) and b) are spontaneous, engened, happen without consciousness. Women, more than men, thrive in these earthy levels of experience.

2. b) Imaging is the dimension of mythology, The Enchanted Forest, fairy tales, folk lore, totemism, pre-religion (practice of religion, devoid of recognized theology). Personal experiences are only seen Aout there,@ in projected forms. Union with nature and harmony with gods is sought.

3. c) Conceiving is the beginning of fuller consciousness where images are decoded, things are named, and sense is sought. Education and theology begin here. This is the objective stage where notions are held as possessions, its to be kept, taught, proven, promulgatedC separate from self, mental objects useful for managing the world.

4. d) Minding (becoming) is absorption; words are eaten, seeing/sense becomes self. Paradox, dichotomy, divisions are seen on both sides as one embraces mystery, the fullness of both. The known (perceptions and discriminations) and the unknown (its larger context past limits of human sensing) are both recognized. Intellectualism phases into wisdom.

5. Men, fearful of powers uncontrolled (image stage), are driven to conceive as a way of coping, especially with the dark powers of femininity. Since conceiving is an essential step in consciousness, and men are driven toward it, they have an easier time moving into reason. Also, cut off from feeling, practiced at Anot crying,@ Abeing tough,@ and skilled at aiming/focusing (dividing things), objective-type thinking, as contrasted with woman=s subjective mode of thought, comes easier.

6. But men fear the move to d) because it appears much like the mysteries of woman at b). Also it requires giving up the sacrifices and false confidence acquired in stable, black/white, objective knowledge, once grasped in c). Facing/embracing the unknown, after the learned safeties of certain knowledge, is an awesome challenge for men. Women, once they dare let go of images in favor of conceptions, find moving on to d) much easier. They have prior practice with mystery. Man=s edge in moving from b) to c) is balanced by woman=s edge in moving on from c) to d) (if and when either does).

7. Dark knowledge of b), where mythology is acknowledged personally, where the right brain reigns, is to be sharply distinguished from the similar appearances of mysteriousness at d). At b), before definitions, oracles (seeing ones yet to conceive) prevail, and are sought by men who, with all their knowledge about reality, still need to know what to do in reality (so we ask women or gods).

But at d), seers, who both see and conceive, yet embrace the mystery of unions, are post-definition, distinctions. They see both the lines and the connections.

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POWER AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS

A clear understanding of the Creative Process is impossible without considering the issue of power. Although the steps in the processCper-ceiving, imaging, con-ceiving, and minding, are mentally distinguishable, visible-to-mind, the movements of power which underlie the process are not. Literally speaking, the Creative Process is a movement-of-power which is only visible through its effects. We may see the steps in our mind=s eye; but the flow of power from which they spring remains invisible. This movement-of-power, the substance of the Creative Process, is the it which is reflected or mirrored in the mentally visible steps. We can easily see its reflections in the mirrors of life, but the real issue, the power itself, is difficult to tease into conscious awareness. Yet such understanding is useful in more fully grasping the steps themselves.

I begin with etymology: power comes from old rootsC pouer in Middle English, potere in Latin. The root meaning is Ato be able,@ or as I paraphrase, Acan-do-ness.@ Power is the capacity to cause effects, to make things happen. Literally speaking, power is energy generated and available for moving molecules, making-things-occur. The word itself represents a bundle-of-energies which may or may not be named. We can be power-filled with a word to name the state of existence (such as power), or with no language at all, even with no consciousness of the existent energies. This invisible, silent, reservoir of Acan-do-ness@ is a physical phenomenon, bodily present, with or without consciousness or Athinking.@

The Creative Process can more literally be understood as a progression of powers, beginning with perceiving as a lessor state of power, imaging as increased power, conceiving as even more power, and finally with minding as a culmination of expanded powers. In other words, the movement of the process (1, 2, 3, 4,) is from small power to ever increasing powers, and ending (before it begins again) with maximum power. A bit of Acan-do-ness@ is generated in perception; more is experienced in imaging; yet more is manifest in conceiving, and finally power-full-ness (power reaches its fulness) in the latter phase of minding.

Although the exact nature of power is not yet clearly understood, somehow it is created, generated, or otherwise comes to exist whenever creatures, persons included, perceive their environment or internal physiological states. As though by magic, perception seems to cause power to come into existence. The quiet state of being-without-power (Aimpotent@) is suddenly changed into a lively state of being-with-power whenever we perceive, for instance, light, and image a ghost, a handsome man, or a pretty woman. What was not present beforeC namely, force-for-action, Acan-do-ness,@ or whatever else we may call power, is suddenly created. Immediately we become capable of running away, primping, smiling, or otherwise beginning the processe of seduction. We do not in fact become omni-potent, reserving that extreme capacity for our imaged gods, but certainly we become more-potent, filled with more power than apparently existed before the light dawned.

Pain, for instance, one of the most primal perceptions, initiates power. Whenever we perceive pain, we are moved to action to correct the situation, to relieve the pain. Anger, another basic inward perception, inaugurates power for coping with that which we perceive to be Ain our way@ negatively. Fear, the other side of anger=s face, also generates forces available for running away or otherwise protecting ourselves. So it is with all perceptions, beginning with the smallest perceptions of external light, warmth, and cold, and continuing with the larger internal perceptions of pain, anger, fear, etc.; each such experience at Stage One of the Creative Process is synonymous with the creation of Acan-do-ness.@

Consequently the Creative Process may be more clearly understood if we recognize both the previously named and amplified stages, as well as the invisible flow of power which underlies and is reflected in the stages themselves.

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THEOLOGY & THE CREATIVE PROCESS

How is theo-logy (God-knowledge) related to the Creative Process? How can these four stages be viewed from the perspective of religion?

I begin with a primary theological premise that AGod is Creator.@ First, however, I want to distinguish this attempt to clarify my own perspectives from the popular understandings of theology (God, heaven, hell, etc.) as objective entitiesC persons and places. I view theology (knowledge about God and other religious subjects) as language about the ultimate, not as commonly understood to be about grand personages and everlasting-in-time places.

As such, religion in my perspective represents the deepest, most primal elements in human experience, the ultimate in naturalC not, as popularly conceived, an organization of super-natural powers and personages. My similarity with popular religion lies in our shared sense of the primary importance of religion, that it is Athe most important thing in life,@ but past this basic premise, our differences begin. My direction of focus is diametrically opposed to that of popular religion: I look to the depths of the natural, the essence of reality (the Amost real of all that is real@), the heart of existence, whereas popular religion focuses away from nature and toward the Asuper-natural,@ conceived as above and beyond the natural, and generally opposed to the natural. Matter-- and all natural processes, in this popular religious sense, is seen as something to be Aovercome,@ and finally to be Aescaped from (as in, soul going to heaven).@

In sharp contrast, my perspective on religion is entirely natural, about nature, about this present reality (this planet, this universe, this life), this world, not about the super-natural, some other reality or other-world. My concern in religion is the ultimate-in-this-world-ism, not about some-other-world, either in the sky, after death, as in traditional religions, or in Asome other realms (reincarnation, etc.),@ as in new-age religious perspectives.

I, in other words, am about Agetting with it,@ not Agetting out of it;@ I am concerned, in my religious endeavors, with becoming totally and fully human, not with negating or escaping humanity in its natural expressions. Genetics and psychology, for examples, are at the heart of my religious concerns, since they focus on the roots of human materials and individuality. In summary, my religion is about Abeing yourself@ most completely, rather than, as in popular religion, about Anegating yourself@ in favor of Asaving your soul.@ I am concerned with Areally getting here,@ not Afinally getting out of here.@

The point: when I focus on theology, my concerns share a language and sense of ultimate importance with all religions; but past these basics I am trying to look more deeply into what is Aevidently (to the physical senses) here,@ rather than to what is Abelieved to be out there (without physical evidence).@ In summary, my theology is about Athe natural (as popularly conceived),@ not Athe super-natural (as religiously conceived).@ With this primary difference in perspectives noted, I begin to be specific.

God, in my theology, represents the ultimate in realityC that is, the ultimate in human experience of reality, not, as in traditional religions, some grand entity ultimately out of or beyond all perceivable reality. Popular religion views God as Athe Creator@ of reality, a Noun (an entity, person, or Ait@) which or who Aexists@ outside or beyond all created reality. In other words, He (not She) did it. He Amade the world and all that is in it.@ As a magician (real, not merely deceptive) might pull a rabbit out of a hat, so this traditional God is believed to have pulled the world out of nothing, created it Aex-nihilo (out of nothing).@

In my theology, God is Creator, or more literally, is Creat-ing. But he is only Athe Creator@ as a language form, a noun used to form complete sentences within our present language structure which requires them. I say, AGod is Creator,@ rather than, AGod is the Creator,@ to avoid the implication that God is merely a noun (albeit the greatest of all nouns) which can properly be set apart as an entity and referred to with ... Athe.@ In my primary theological premise, AGod is Creator,@ Creator is a predicate nominative; that is, it names the subject God, and thus the sentence can be properly reversed: ACreator is God,@ just as, AGod is Creator.@ This means that in my theology, ACreator@ is not merely an attribute of God, not simply something He does, like an act of a Super-Magician; rather it speaks to the basic nature of God. God, literally, is Creator.

But still, since Creator is a noun, and hence limited to entities (Aits@) which nouns by definition can name, to sharpen the sense of the phrase even further it can more accurately be stated as: AGod is Creating (a participle rather than a noun),@ implying both the more literal sense of the sentence, plus the on-going nature of the process. In the natural world of my religion, in contrast with the super-natural world of popular religion, creation is a process, an ever on-going event, which can never literally be pinned down to nouns, but is only clearly represented with participles (Aing@ words).

Turning this theological sentence around, as we can properly do with predicate nominatives but not nouns, we can literally say, ACreating is God,@ just as we can also say, AGod is Creating.@ In other words, Creating represents God just as surely as God symbolizes Creating. One is not different from the other. If we, to move to experiential sentences, Aknow God,@ then we also Aknow Creating@; or, if we Aknow Creating@ then we also Aknow God,@ because God is (meaning literally) Creating.

To get away from theological language, we may say that one (who does not conceive himself as Areligious@) who Aknows creating,@ also Aknows God,@ even though he does not use religious language, and is perhaps considered to be an atheist (non-theist). The point: this theological statement is intended to be about reality, about Athe way things are,@ not merely a Areligious@ premise. Consequently religious language is not required for stating the same truth. One need not, for example, think of himself as religious in order to be properly represented by this theological statement. To Aknow creating@ is to Aknow God,@ whether or not one conceives himself as Areligious.@ At least this is so in my theological perspectives.

Back to nouns; God too, like Creator is a noun, a name (by definition of noun) for some entity or Ait.@ But to be literal, God, in my theology, is not an Ait@ of any sort. This noun too, like all others, is created for language purposes, to allow speech and communication in a language which requires nouns and verbs to make sentences. To speak literally of God, we would need a another participle to include the lively, on-going nature of ultimate reality. I coin the word AGod-ing@ for this purpose. A literal sentence about God and Creation would thus be: AGod-ing is Creat-ing,@ or, to reverse the statement, since Creating it intended to be a predicate nominative, we could also say that ACreat-ing is God-ing.@

Although an extremely awkward sentence for common talk, it does require clear thinking in this theological context. Its meaning is that what I represent in the theological noun God, which I have expanded to God-ing, is the same as what we commonly represent with the secular word Creating. To speak of Creating is to speak of God; to speak of God (God-ing) is to speak of Creating. The same human experience is symbolized with both words. In practice this means that ATo be Creating is to be God-ing,@ or, ATo be God-ing (to know God, or to be with or in God, synonymous with God) is to be Creating.@ There cannot, in reality be one without the other. The issue being amplified is beyond language or Athinking@ itself, and is reflective of human experience, with or without language. One need not know the word God, certainly not the bulky word God-ing, to be experiencing the reality which we theologians represent with the word.

Just as a non-religious (unchurched) person can be Creating Awithout knowing it,@ so a person can be God-ing and Anot know it.@ The point is that the experience being pointed toward with these words is existential rather than grammatical. It may or may not be represented in language, and in either case is not language dependent. One can be God-ing (be knowing or in God) with or without words for the experience (as in the case of pre-language or non-verbal children), even as one can be Creating without calling it such.

Perhaps a further clarification in thought may come from analyzing the use of capital letters for these words, God rather than god, and Creating rather than simply creating. In grammar we capitalize to indicate a proper name, a specific name rather than a generic or common name: John, e.g., versus boy or man. But this common usage is not my intention here. God, capitalized, is not simply an indication of a specific personage (albeit the greatest of all personages) rather than the generalized idea of a god. Nor is Creating capitalized to simply mean a proper name. My intention is rather to push normal language to its widest extent, to indicate Athe most@ that grammar can say. By capitalizing God I imply that this is an extra-ordinary use of the common word god, not simply that it names a specific or even the greatest one.

Likewise with Creating. I capitalize it to indicate the higher significance of such an event, to mean something more than merely Amaking something.@ Creating, like God-ing, is an event of highest significance; indeed it moves one into the realm of ultimate human experiencing, as contrasted with merely existing, of Areally living@ rather than simply Astaying alive.@ We are into what is traditionally seen asAspiritual@ rather than merely Aphysical@ C that is, issues of Asoul@ rather than Abody@ alone.

This extended trek into theological language usage and grammatical quirks is itself intended to set the stage for noting the extreme importance with which I view the Creative Process. I am not, as I understand this venture, merely writing about an esoteric Aphysical,@ Abiological,@ or even Apsychological@ process, of arcane relevance to the average person. I am rather concerned with what I view as the heart of human existence, the deepest element in what it means to be a human being. Theological language is necessary (for me) to speak of the ultimate significance of this subject. ABeing creative,@ participating in this ACreative Process,@ is of such supreme relevance that only AGod talk@ (capitalized theological language) may break through common human lethargy of mind, to imply its crucial importance for the proverbial Aaverage person.@

Moving along in the Creative Process is not, as I view the subject, merely Aa nice thing to do, if one has the time,@ not simply a pastime for the Atruly talented@ or idly rich; rather it lies at the core of everyone=s process of becoming themselves. And Abecoming oneself@ is not, in this perspective, seen as a mere Apsychological@ endeavor; rather it is a Aspiritual@ venture of the highest sort. Indeed, Abecoming yourself@ is seen here as a secular synonym for Abeing saved@ in religious language. When I think/write about the Creative Process I am approaching the subject of Aknowing God@ C the same topic, only in religious language.

Thus, to be Amoving in the Creative Process,@ my subject here, is to be Aencountering God@ (as viewed from a theological perspective). To stop in the process, for instance, to become mired down at Stage Two (the image stage), is to settle for limited encounter with God. To exist only in The Enchanted Forest of empowered images is to short-circuit the normal process of moving on to the Heaven inherent in Stage Four existence, the return, that is, to the Garden of Eden (meaning pleasure), the heaven-on-earth, into we were all first born.

Entrapment in imaging is literally Hell; existence in minding (or the continual process of moving there) is Heavenly presence. ASalvation@ in theological language is synonymous with the normal human process of moving from Stage One to Stage Four, to be continually re-completing the process in ever-expanding dimensions of human potential. In language of personages rather than space and time, to Abe into creating (moving in the Creative Process)@ is to Abe into God,@ since AGod is Creating.@ To imply the near infinite number of degrees in this normal process, we may more clearly speak of being ASons (or children) of God,@ still short of completion, rather than of becoming God. We may talk, for instance, in Christian theology, of Acoming to be in Christ,@ or becoming ASons/daughters or God,@ in recognition of the profound possibility of finally coming to Aknow@ or Abe in@ the ultimate itself.

Summary: To see God as Creating is the clearest connection between theology and the Creative Process. The Abottom line@ is the premise that to be Creating is consequently to be God-ing; or, in noun language, to be in the process of creating is to be in God. We come closest to Aknowing God@ in a conscious way when we exist at Stage Four of the Creative Process. Although each stage is a part of the process, our direct awareness of God is greatest as we come to the final stage. At Stage Two, for instance, we are also in the process of primal encounter with God, albeit, through images of God; but at Stage Four the images have been de-coded into concepts which in turn have been absorbed into oneself. Thus God (or God-ing) has finally emerged into consciousness as well as primal experience (as at Stage Two).

GOD AS ULTIMATE REALITY

Perhaps two other language approaches may be helpful in clarifying this theological perspective. In traditional religion, especially Christian theology, God is signified not only as Creator (which I have amplified into the process-of-Creating), but also as Ultimate Reality, and in existential theology, as Being Itself. These three language windows: Creator, Ultimate Reality, and Being Itself, allow us to view this most profound of all theological concepts from a variety of experiential perspectives.

A second major theological premise is: God is Ultimate Reality, or, more accurately stated from this perspective, God is the Ultimate in Reality. To speak of reality, of course, is to speak of man=s-experience-of-reality. The unstated assumption is that we are beginning from the ways in which human kind (Aman@) experiences reality, not how a frog, rock, dog, or bumble bee might experience reality. Although the predicate nominative Ultimate Reality sounds, in the sentence, like an objective entity or phenomenon Aout there,@ apart from human beings, that is not intended in this theological statement.

Nor is the sentence intended to be a definition of God, like an objective statement apart from human experience. God, literally, is not subject to Adefinition@ in the common sense of the word. All other words are definable except this one which is reserved for the culminating human experience finally lying beyond the realms of language. The point: I am intending in this second exploratory sentence to point toward God from the perspective of reality rather than from the process of creating. But even here, the unstated assumptionC which I am attempting to amplify before going further, is that I am speaking of man=s experience-of-reality, not objectively about reality-itself. This is a human-experience statement, not an objective, Ascientific@ (or theological) definition. Ultimate Reality may sound like a quality of reality; actually it refers here to a quality of man=s experience-of-reality.

As everyone knows, we humans experience reality in varying degrees, grading from Abeing out of it@ (Aon Cloud Nine,@ Ain La La Land@), all the way to Abeing with it.@ We may be very much Aout of contact@ with reality or very much in contact with reality. Or anywhere in between. Our experience at any given point in time may be characterized as: little-contact-with-reality, more-contact, greater-contact, and finally, ultimate-contact-with-reality. This latter state is the implication of this second theological statement. At Stage Four of the Creative Process we are at our apex of human capacity for encountering reality, for Agetting with it.@ To meet reality in this ultimate sense is to meet God. Or, translating this culminating degree of human experience into a theological statement: To experience reality ultimately, to the grandest possible degree, is to experience God.

Omitting the human element of the statement (which remains the assumption of it), we may then say: God is Ultimate Reality, or, with more clarifications: God is the ultimate in human experience of reality. The more deeply, fully, or completely we encounter reality (the Areal world@ as it is), the more ultimately we meet God who is the Ultimate in Reality.

I belabor the point one step further to distinguish my meaning here from the more traditional interpretation of the same statement. In popular religion, which I identify with Stage Two existence, the statement is understood literallyC that is, as a definition of God, identifying Him with the grandest or ultimate form of reality itself, commonly personified as the Most Super of all Cosmic Powers, indeed, the Maker (ACreator@) of reality itself. In this understanding the sentence has no reference to man, but is only an objective statement about the nature of God Himself. No reference to the extent of man=s experience of God is commonly intended in this traditional meaning of the phrase. My intended meaning is exactly the opposite. In this theology, no statement about reality itself, apart from human encounter with reality, is even implied. My theological sentence is not at all about so-called Aobjective reality;@ but only about the various qualities or degrees in which we humans may be in or out of contact with reality. To be Aout of contact with reality@ is to exist totally apart from God; to be in fullest or ultimate contact with reality (Areally with it,@ in colloquial parlance) is to be in communion with God.

GOD AND ARTICLES

Perhaps attention to grammatical devices called articlesC a, an, and the, may clarify. Articles are a language form used to set apart specific nouns from general names. Apple, for instance is a general name; but to add a or the is to refer to a specific apple. God, similarly, is a general name. All religions have their various gods. But when we add an article, such as the, we further distinguish by setting one apart. AThe true God,@ for example, is far different from god as a mere generic term.

The point: all articles, by definition, set apart specifics from generalities. Giving a proper name to such a specific further identifies it. For example, I am a person, a specific person, set apart by the article a from all persons in general. To further identify me as already set apart by the article, you may call me Bruce (as my mother and father did).

I point toward the familiar language process in order to further distinguish my theological usage from traditional theology. Whereas the use of articles is entirely appropriate in popular religion, such as, the Creator, the Ultimate Reality, or more specifically, Jehovah God, to further distinguish the Christian God, the same is not true in this present theology. If we speak literally, beyond the common metaphorical uses of language, we cannot use articles in reference to God here. To say, for example, a God, or, the God, is to place God in a category like other categories which are properly subject to further definition by articlesC which God, as pointed toward here, is not.

To approach the point bluntly, there is no such Athing@ as a God, in this understandingC that is, God is not a anything, even the greatest of all things. God, as Ultimate Reality, is readily present and experience-able by humans any time and every where, but God is not simply some part or element in reality, some grand entity existing Aout there@ and hence subject to further definition by articles. We may properly refer to ultimate experience of reality as God (in this theology), but not to Him (or Her or It) as though God were merely some part of reality, even the grandest or most ultimate part.

Literally, we may speak of God as Ultimate Reality, but not as the Ultimate Reality, implying some grand entity subject to being set apart from other reality. As a play on words, I wrote above of God as Athe Ultimate in Reality@ as a way of amplifying the experiential nature of God-ing. My intent was that the clarifying word in keep the reader reminded that this was about human experience in reality, rather than about some Great It (the Ultimate) set apart or Aoutside of@ reality as we may know it.

GOD AS BEING

The third phrase I wish to use for pointing toward the human experience of God is this: God is Being (or Being-Itself). The first sentence (God is Creating) is from the perspective of movement-in-reality (shaping of things); the second (God is Ultimate Reality), more generally relates to experience-of-reality (the degrees or qualitites of our experience); the third is from an existential perspective and is potentially the most clarifying (or confusing) of all.

To say that God is Being is to point to the profound identification of God both with man=s experience of reality and with existence itself. The sentence, like the others, is reversible; that is, Being is intended as a predicate nominative. It can also be stated as: Being is God. Translated: being, or that-which-is, existence-itself, is God. Therefore, to whatever degree man is in touch with existence, in contact with reality, he is Aknowing (experiencing)@ God.

Man, being finite (limited: without some power, but not Aall powerful;@ with knowledge, but not omniscient; and mortal, but not immortal) rather than infinite, is not and cannot know all that is (all being), but we can know Asome being,@ some finite degree of being. We, as human beings (finite rather than infinite) may potentially know some measure of Being, but not all Being (since we are limited).

Perhaps the colloquial expression, being myself, comes closer to my meaning of the theological statement. To be in God, languaged as Being or Being-Itself, is to be Abeing oneself.@

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TIME AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS

I have described the Creative Process sequentially, as though one=s whole self moves from Stage One to Stage Two, etc. Ideally, this is so; but in practice, seldom so. One may be at Stage Four in one dimension of self (e.g., sexually), and at Stage Two in another (say, religion). Or, one may be completely at Stage Four in one instant, such as, the peak of sexual orgasm, but soon back to Stage One (while smoking a cigarette later).

Although the Creative Process always occurs in time, that is, while the clock is ticking, the calendar pages turning, and Atime is marching on,@ there is no literal connection between experiencing the process and measurable time. The normal movement is sequential, as I describe in the steps, but the time lapse between each step may be short or long; and movement may be in limited aspects of oneselfC one element of self moving easily from One to Four, while another part of self remains time-locked at an earlier stage.

Furthermore, since immediate experience is seldom as inviting to one=s fullest self as, for example, reaching a sexual orgasm, we may easily move forward in one dimension while not moving at all in anotherCthat is, I may, e.g., move smothly from One to Four in creating a piece of furniture from old cypress wood, while remaining essentially at a standstill in my de-coding the images of women on which I long ago projected immense personal powers.

Speed of movementC how fast I move from one stage to the next, is likewise difficult to measure, because I may be moving rapidly in one dimension of self and slowly in another. I may, for instance, be rapidly de-coding religious images (e.g., demons and angels), while slowly, or not at all de-coding female images.

Relating time to the Creative Process is even more confusing because of the speed at which one may move from One to Four in a single sense experience (e.g., sight) of a present event, while moving much more slowly with another perception (such as, feeling). Commonly, males see much faster than we feel, while females seem to be move more quickly from sight to feeling. Also, movement to Stage Four, both in single or multiple senses, is immediately followed by a return to Stage One in the same sensesC that is, there is no such thing as permanence in the Creative Process. One does not Aarrive@ and remain. Instead, as soon as one reaches Stage Four in any regard, he is immediately returned to Stage One in that same sense in an expanded way.

Seeing, for example, a single color, one may move easily from perception (Stage One) to absorption (Stage Four); but once there with, say, the initially noted green, sight is immediately opened to seeing other colors or variations in shades of green. Although the Stages may be generally be placed in numerical sequence, geometric metaphors are more difficult. Perhaps a spiral comes closest; but the apex of the spiral (representative of Stage Four) must, in order to accurately represent the process, be turned in a circle back to its point of beginning, like a snake biting its tail, in order to note that each climax at Stage Four is immediately returned to a new starting point at Stage One.

The normal nature of human experience is literally a jumbled mass of spiraling movements from One to Four and back to One, with the rate of movement varying from one element of self to another. Men, for example, seem to move faster in some parts of themselves, slower in others, while women may reverse the arenas of their speedier movements. All of us have our various spirals, representing the circular movements toward the apex of Stage Four, intertwined with more rapid movement in some dimensions than in others. And, if we remain spiritually healthy, we are continually returning to Stage One in every dimension of self for a new and expanded trip up the spiral of the Creative Process.

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LANGUAGE AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS

Language arises at Stage Two of the Creative Process, when images are first formed from primal perceptions (Stage One). Words are found (and taught) to represent various images created from basic sense-impressions. Seeing Aa tree,@ for example, and imaging the sight in the brain, one Aneeds something to call it.@ A parent is likely to supply the name Atree.@ If not, a child alone will, I surmise, create a mental representation for a sense-impression, some other Aname@ for what parents who speak English may call a Atree.@

When larger perceptions, such as, emotional experiences, are perceived by a child, Alarger@ names will be found. Thus naming, the first step in what may later become conscious thinking, begins with finding mental/verbal representations for sense perceptions formed into images.

All language may be broken down into two major categories: expressive and descriptive. Expressive language is forming primal mental images and sounds to represent perceptual experience. AOuch,@ for example, expressing pain. Even before discrete words are possible, an infant=s crying or cooing is a fore-runner of  expressive language. Expressive language, is, as the name implies, simply the form of personal experience expressed or given shape in language. It is literally Aself-saying@ C that is, one honestly Asaying who he is@ in the form of language. AOuch,@ when one hurts, is like crying when pain is experienced before the word ouch can be formed.

Descriptive language, the second major category, is an expansion of expressive language. Originally, expressive words are compared with one another in this second type of language. One perception imaged and named is related to others. Although metaphors are, in language analysis, an advanced form of grammar, in actual experience they are primary. All descriptive language is literally metaphoricalC that is, how one imaged perception is like or unlike another, forms the basis of descriptive language. This Atree,@ for example, is like (metaphor) another Atree@ except it is Agreener@ (or Ataller,@ Ashorter,@ etc.). AGreener@ is thus a metaphorical word in this expanded way of describing.

In common experience, aside from this type of language analysis, the metaphorical nature of all descriptive language is ignored or forgotten. We tend to think that we are talking about Awhat it actually is@ rather than simply comparing one perception with another. We think, for example, that Athat really is a tree (or a girl or a boy),@ forgetting (if ever we were aware) that Atree@ (or Agirl@ or Aboy@) is literally but a comparative representation of distinguishable sense-impressions (images).

My point here is not to give an analysis of language but to note an essential distinction relevant to understanding how language is related to the Creative Process. In the Creative Process, the difference between expressive and descriptive is immensely significant. If we are to think clearly or to communicate with others we have no choice but to use descriptive language in order to compare or convey our various sense-impressions (perceptions of reality); but if we are to remain honest (and become conscious also) we must also use expressive language clearly. The problem begins to emerge early in life when we first find that socially acceptable language and honestly expressive language (such as crying, or, saying Ashit@) are often not necessarily the same. What is critical for group acceptance (acceptable descriptive language) and what is clear for honest self-expression are often sharply at odds with one another.

Another generalization about language is relevant here: since its primary social function is communication with others, rather than honest self-expression, language itself is far more developed in its social forms (descriptive language for talking to others) than in its expressive forms. That is, the very nature of common language (subjects and verbs making sentences) is primarily structured for shared descriptions rather than for self-expression. We have many ways of using metaphors to describe Athings,@ but relatively few socially-acceptable language forms for speaking ourselves clearly.

For example, if I make a noun out of Athinking@ and say AThis thought just came to my mind,@ most everyone would understand what I mean. But if I wish to express myself literally, such a sentence is non-sense. First of all, there is no objectified AI@ which Ahas@ (owns, as the possessive pronoun my implies) another object called a mind. Nor is there such a thing as a though which might reside elsewhere in space and Acome to me.@ Literally, in expressive language I might say, AI am thinking,@ but such a simple/profound sentence makes little social sense and communicates even less to others.

So it is with most all expressive language; while it may be simple, honest, and clearly self-expressive, it is relatively useless in communicating with other. Descriptive language, however, where many metaphors, which may or may not Asay@ oneself, are functional, need not be self-expressive at all. The relevance of this difference may only appear if we understand another

critical event in the Creative Process in regard to Abeing ourselves.@ I digress to amplify this dangerous possibility.

SPLITTING SELF

In the normal Creative Process one moves on quickly and smoothly from Stage Two, imaging, to Stage Three, conceivingC that is, de-coding images (e.g., figuring out how Santa Claus gets down the chimney or around the world in one night) begins immediately after they are formed from perceptions. Unfortunately, however, the Anormal@ process seems to be relatively rare; most commonly we tend to stop at Stage Two, freezing, as it were, our images rather than moving on in a fluid fashion. Instead of proceeding with de-coding, we are easily tempted to maintain our images in various degrees of adoration and projection, staunchly refusing to go on transforming them into mental conceptions.

The result is a splitting of self. Whenever we break the normal process by halting progression from images Aout there@ to conceptions Ain here,@ we unwittingly divide ourselves. The capacity for moving on, our inherent birthright as human beings, is not erased; but we are split off from it. Our sense-of-self, the part which we identify with who-we-are, is separated from our larger capacity for becoming creative humans. We, in effect, make pygmies of ourselves, cutting our selves-in-awareness off from the larger possibility of wholeness.

Personal powers, self-generated in events of perception (Stage One), but inevitably imaged in external forms, are left projected on to the shapes which we create (or inherit) to express them. The powers inherent in Afear@ (perceiving personal threat), for example, are left in the ghosts Awhich scare us,@ or the dark Awhich brings the terror.@ This loss of personal power, so essential for continued movement in the Creative Process, is perhaps the greatest disaster resulting from splitting ourselves at the beginning of Stage Three.

After the split, cut off in awareness from our larger human capacities for creative living, we are left at the mercy of our iconsCAdamned if we do, damned if we don=t.@ If we fail to win their approval and hence access to the powers we have given them, we obviously lose. But if we sometimes win under the apparent gift of their favors, our rewards are only temporary, requiring continued obedience (belittling of self) to maintain their good graces. Even with small victories under their benevolence we are ultimately losers, since we remain severed from powers we only recognize in projected form. Fully becoming our naturally creative selves, empowered through personal experience, remains an unreachable idealC certainly Ain this life? time.@

More specifically, the splitting of self, which occurs when we become time-locked at Stage Two, leaves us separated from clarity of desire which only remains recognizable in children yet to divide themselves. The purity of Awanting what we want when we want it,@ plus the power and pleasure experienced in desire=s pursuit, are lost in the shame and guilt (or false pride) which inevitably accompany inner division. Eons of evolutional inheritanceC inner wisdom mediated through desire and its associated pleasures, are wasted whenever we settle for adoration of, or flight from, our appointed images, cut off from who we potentially are. Instead of moving on naturally toward the wholeness (Aholiness@) of Stage Four, we unwittingly condemn our split selves to partial living, outside of the Eden (Garden of Pleasure) which is here.

When (or if) we return to the Creative Process, picking up where we left off when we began to worship or run from the gods and ghosts of our own unremembered creation, we begin the process of wholingC of healing our divided selves. We re-connect with banished capacities from which we severed our Aselves@ when we failed to proceed to Stage Three. We re-own natural desires which we banished, denied, or came to see as Anot-me@ (Athe devil made me do it@) when the split began. We risk the pleasures inherently experienced whenever we consciously engage in pursuing genetically ingrained goals. And finally, we know-once-again, as though for the first time, power-filled-ness last experienced fully in long ago days before the split began.

SUMMARY

I have distinguished between expressive and descriptive language, noting that descriptive (metaphorical) language is essential in clarifying insight and communicating with others. But while one remains consciously within the Creative Process, even descriptive language is recognized as being self-expressive (Awhat I see@) rather than literally defining the subject being describedC that is, all metaphors, though freely used, are recognized as a language form only, useful in thinking and talking, but not taken to be literal statements about reality. Otherwise, one remains time-locked at Stage Two, where images are seen as possessing powers, and hence divided within oneself. It is this latter freezing of split-self at Stage Two which I am attempting to approach through clarifying the nature of language.

Common metaphors, useful in clarifying thought or communicating with others, include such statements as: AI have a headache (or body or soul or thought or mother or god).@ As a metaphorical way of expanding awareness and expressing oneself to others, such statements are useful, even essential; but once their metaphorical nature is lost to awareness, once one falls into taking the statements literally rather than metaphorically, then the splitting of self has begun. For example, AI have a headache,@ as a metaphor (treating aching like a possession located in the head), is potentially useful both in private acknowledgment of pain and in communicating with a doctor. Likewise with, AI have a body,@ AI have soul,@ AThis though just came to me,@ AI have a mother,@ or, AGod spoke to me.@

But once any of these metaphorically descriptive statements, useful in honest self expression or revealing oneself to others, is taken literally (rather than recognized as metaphor only), then one has stopped the natural Creative Process. To believe, for example, that AI@ exist as a separable entity, apart from my head (an owned object atop my body), is to have already split oneself. Or, on an even deeper level, to believe that AI have a soul,@ like another possession of AI,@ is to further confess the more profound nature of my splitness.

AThis thought just came to me,@ can be an honest and useful metaphor for acknowledging the process of thinking or introducing a notion to another person; but taken to be literal rather than metaphoricalC that Athoughts@ are entities which reside in the air (or elsewhere) and sometimes approach us, the Creative Process has been abandoned. Of, I may honestly say, AThat makes me think...,@ or, AShe turns me on,@ as metaphorical confessions of my inner state of mind or body; but once the power of my own thinking or sexuality has been projected into the Aforces@ which Acause@ my mind or body to function, then I have ceased to be present in the Creative Process. I have frozen myself, or worse, split myself, at Stage Two.

Certainly either of these statements (or any other metaphors) can be honestly used at the beginning of Stage Two, when an awareness first dawns (a perception becomes aware). Then they are like crying AOuch@ when something hurts. When one first perceives anything, such as, pain or pleasure, then the most familiar form of language previously associated with a similar event is likely to be used. But for the process to continue normally, movement to Stage Three, de-coding the images, begins immediately. AWell, actually, that didn=t force me to think; I did so on my own.@ Or, AI was indeed excited when I saw her, but, on further reflection (movement to Stage Three), I know that she did not >do it= to me; I risked being pleasured myself.@

Or, suppose one has a profoundly moving experience, more than mental or sensual only; one may clearly think or say in an honestly expressive way: AIt was like being out of my body.@ Indeed, given common degrees of bodily awareness, some such dramatic statement may be necessary to honestly acknowledge the true nature of the event. But still the statement is metaphorical rather than literal; it was Alike being@ C that is, this is a metaphor for describing the wondrous nature of the experience, not a literal statement about an inside entity going outside.

Initially, at the moment of its happening, at the wonder of Stage Two where multiple perceptions burst into awareness, the metaphor may Aseem to be@ (another metaphor) realC that is, that I left my familiar bodily presence; but if I remain in the Creative Process, the normal progression to Stage Three, de-coding the metaphors of Stage Two, begins immediately. Soon I am both acknowledging the profundity of my experience, being honest with myself or others about what happened, but also Areturning-to-body@ (another metaphor) as I accept and absorb them into myself (reason at Stage Three and move on to Stage Four). I acknowledge the power generated in the expansive perceptions and, in effect, become even more embodied, more aware of the awesome possibilities of expanded physical presence, than before. What began as a seemingly Aouter body@ event (an unrecognized metaphor), soon becomes a recognized expansion of bodily capacities.

Ideally, that is. But in actual practice, such potentially invaluable events in the Creative Process of normal living are often frozen in time as one takes the easier path of splitting oneself and leaving the recently encountered powers emerging from risked human experience Aout there@ in the images and their metaphors. In splitting oneself thusly, for example, one may become a religious believer in Aouter body travel@ or other logical explanations of unembraced personal experience common in Anew age@ movements.

The apt metaphor, taken or intended literally, as in Anew age@ or old religious thought, is expressive or confessional at Stage Two only, with Three and Four yet ahead. At Four, except for descriptive language, one cannot truthfully say (be self expressive) AI am (or have been, or can go) out of my body, because at Four one no longer has a body (or anything else); one is each human capacity. One or more of these capacities may be in the forefront or more activated at any given time (AI am feeling,@ or, AI am thinking@), but one no longer possesses any capacity, including a body or a soul.

The same natural phenomenon may occur when one experiences profound insights during the normal process of acknowledging expanded perceptions in reality. Immediately a powerful name and statement is needed for expressing oneself at this new arrival at Stage Two; AGod spoke to me@ may be an honest and natural way of transforming a grand insight into language. Soon, however, the continued process of de-coding images will naturally begin, as one moves on to acknowledge and then absorb the powers encountered in such unfamiliar events.

All too easily, however, we stop the Creative Process at such profound times, freeze our grand images into cosmic figures, thereby splitting ourselves, and abandon the daring movement on to Stage Four where we literally become creative ourselves.

Moving from the perspective of language to that of power: we evade being powered in Stages Two and Three by projections on to the images we have created and the concepts used to de-code them; but at Stage Four power is re-embraced as concepts are absorbed; e.g., AThoughts come to me@ (an apt metaphor) evades owning the power inherent in thinking. In like manner, AShe excites me@ evades the power of Aciting,@ which is naturally owned and absorbed (taken to be) oneself at Stage Four.

In summary: Stage One is Abeing yourself@ like a childC that is, your whole-self, without a concept of self. At Stage Two, self phases into awareness, projected on to the forms or images created to express it. The powers of self experienced when perceptions are imaged are at first projected into the images. If one continues naturally, these powers are then moved from the images to de-coded concepts. Ideas, notions, or beliefs, are then viewed as powerful.

But commonly, self is often split, beginning at what would naturally be the leading edge of Stage Two. The powers of self are divided between AI@ and Ait@ C self and images. Then AIt@ makes (or moves) me; AIt@ holds powers of self which I have unwittingly given to it.

If one does start to move on to Stage Three, de-coding the images, the split begins to heal. The wholing process begins with the formation of reasonable concepts, and continues in Stage Four where concepts are absorbed and the split which so often begins at Stage Two is finally healed.

Here one Abecomes whole again,@ C that is, once more Abe=s oneself@ like a child, except now Asophisticated@ rather than Ainnocent,@ with knowing, rather than blindly.

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PLEASURE AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS

Just as the Creative Process can be understood as a progression of powers, so it may be seen as an amplification or pleasures. In reality, power and pleasure can never be finally distinguished, since they are part and parcel of the same human experience. Nevertheless, in our mind=s eye we can draw lines between the two. Which I will do here.

Pleasure is a name for human experience otherwise called Afeeling good,@ Ahaving fun,@ Abeing excited,@ or, Aturned on.@ Being alive and powered through perceiving Afeels good.@ Each perception not only generates power, it also brings the possibility of pleasure. The genius of evolution is that both power and pleasure have evolved in consort with what works in the best interests of genetic life and reproduction of itself. Optimum temperatures Afeel good.@ Easily digestible food Atastes good.@ Excreting undigestible foods also Afeels good.@ Exercising cells within their normal range of activity Ais fun.@ Events necessary for reproducing ourselves are exciting and deeply pleasurable. And so on.

Pleasures which begin in small measure with perceiving, are, like the concomitant powers, expanded with imaging. Fairy godmothers and even witches are exciting. Conceiving, de-coding images, brings its own measure of pleasure. The safety and security of Aunderstanding@ feels good. Finally, minding (Stage Four) is, like physical orgasm, an even greater amplification of pleasure, more properly known as joy or bliss.

In summary: the Process of Creation is not only an amplifications of powers; it is also an expansion of pleasures. In creating, we are both empowering and pleasuring ourselves.

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CREATIVE DECISIONS

All dimensions of lifeC from thinking to doing, from deciding to acting, are potentially creative. We more easily recognize creativity in things done or made, such as, paintings or sculpture, but the more common arenas for creativity begin and often end in the mind, never appearing as objects on the stages of life.

Deciding, I think, Amaking up your mind,@ is both the most pervasive and difficult of all the arenas in which we may be creative. Certainly it is the most consistently ever-present arena. We may occasionally make up objects, but we regularly face the option of making up our minds. Like it or not, choose it or not, the necessity of deciding is continually before us.

How shall we decide? How are we to Amake up our minds@? How can we Aknow what to do@? Faced with ever-present choices, how are we to proceed wisely, advancing our selves rather than dumbly, at cost of pain rather than pleasure? Imaging, Stage Two of the Creative Process, is probably the most common answer. Images, bearing the weight of projected powers generated through Stage One perceptions, become the first and most lasting source of irresponsible decisions. They become the recipients both of our power to move and of our power to decide. They Amove us,@ or so it seems, as well as Amake us@ do what we do. They in effect decide for us. It is as though I have no power or even option of choice at Stage Two. The image does it all for or to me.

Just as the ghost (image of my fear) Ascares me@ and Amakes me run and hide,@ so the pretty girl (image of my lust) Aturns me on@ and Amakes me feel excited.@ And in all the more regularly present arenas of my lifeC with my gods and demons, friends and enemies, tastes and habits, the same situation prevails; my icons relieve me of the necessity of Amaking up my own mind.@ They do it for me. Or so it seems.

And should my idols ever fail to move me, which of course they seldom do, then society and the law, other less evident images, are always there to take up the slack. What I should do, what Athey want me to do,@ what pleases others, Awhat they think,@-- all these voices of society and religion are ever-present in the wings of my mind to tell me what to do in the absence of an obvious icon. They help me evade the challenges of a personal decision, of profoundly, creatively, Amaking up my own mind.@

The creative decision, the culmination of the Creative Process, is, I conclude, the most significant and challenging event in human life. Heroic deeds require courage, but heroic decisions, which always lie hidden at their base, are even more demanding.

But how can we distinguish between an ordinary image-powered movement which seems like a decision, since no one physically makes us react, and a creative decision in which we literally Amake up our own minds@? What, that is, is a creative decision? What is the difference between Abeing good@ by social or legal or religious standards (images) and being good by the standards of creative decision making?

I begin with what it=s not, which is easier to word; a creative decision is not dictated from without, outside of oneself. It is not made by an image; the power of the movement which follows does not come any external source. Neither society nor religion, what is legal or good by outside standards, what another specific person wants, or, Awhat they think@ in general, are the prime movers. Any or all of these may be taken into account in a creative decision, but none of them are the final source of the choice. AThey@-- whom or whatever they may be, do not decide for us; the creative decision is never determined externally. Neither the ghosts or gods, ugly gremlins or pretty girls, Amake us@ do whatever we do following a creative decision.

Nor is such an awesome act determined by inside powers which reside outside the fragile boundaries of consciousnessC such as, habits, patterns, repressed memories, or other non-scious structures not genetically rooted. There is no ritual or pre-determined source beyond awareness which Agets the credit@ or blame for a creative decision. AThe devil didn=t make me do it;@ nor did habit or other unconscious motivations. AThe way I did it before@-- that is, learned ways or patterns of response in previous situations are never the determining forces in creative decisions. Like social, legal, and religious shoulds, prior learning or experience in The School Of Hard Knocks will commonly be taken into account; butC and this is the critical point, neither outside nor inside powers which exist beyond the pale of awareness are what moves us to action following creative decisions.

What then are they? If such choices are not determined by images without or within, where does their source lie? From what are they made? What is the Astuff,@ the substance of creative decisions?

First and foremost is genetic wisdom, the engened knowledge of eons of evolution written into the genetic codes of DNA in each of our 50,000 million cells. Genetic wisdom is all that we Ahave learned to do without thinking.@ It includes all the Aknow how@ encoded in bodyC how to breath, circulate blood, suck, digest food, urinate, defecate, fight diseases and other intrusive forces, heal wounds, find girls/boys, have sex, make babies, and in general, to survive and reproduce ourselves.

All this Aknowledge we are born with,@ when considered at all, is commonly summarized with such bland names as: instincts, drives, urges, inclinations, and wants. Most of it (rooted in 44 of the 46 chromosomes in each cell) is so thoroughly ingrained that it seldom reaches the borders of consciousness. All these Alife forces@ evolved to ensure survival or Astaying alive,@ operate, as it were, on Aautomatic pilot.@ They seem to Ajust happen.@ For instance, no one teaches us how to breath and suck, pee and shit, circulate blood and resist diseases. Furthermore, they go on Aon their own,@ that is, without any conscious thought or sense of self.

The wealth of this genetic wisdom evolved into our DNA over some 3.5 billion years is sufficient to keep us alive and making babies quite efficiently, were it not for social rules, for a life time, without ever activating the fragile, Johnny-come-lately, capacity for consciousness. Just Adoing what comes naturally@ will get us from cradle to grave with reasonable efficiencyC all this without ever Ahaving to think@ in the creative sense of the phrase. But, because we have come out of the jungle and do all now live in large and extended social groups, more is required for truly creative living.

We do, literally, need to think about it more now than ever before in the long turns of human history. The problem is, how do we Athink about@ what works so well Aon its own@ without any thought at all? How do we, that is, become conscious of the Agenetic wisdom@ which, encoded as an Aautomatic pilot,@ resides and functions well in the unseen realms of nonsciousness?

Desire, I think, Awhat we want to do,@ becomes our best bridge between the dark power-filled realms of engened bodily knowledge and the lighter, more fragile yet essential domains of consciousness, of self, of knowing-what-we-know. When primal instincts and capacities need the newer activities of hand and mind for acquiring what is necessary for their existence, want is their primary voice. They Aspeak to us,@ as it were, through the languages of desire. ASpeak to us@ is a useful metaphor for understanding this medium of communication between nonsciousness and consciousness; yet it is dangerous, even disastrous in time, if taken literally.

It must be here that the spirit-killing split between body and mind begins. This creation in awareness of the image of Athey@ who speak, distinguished from AI@ who hear, must be the genesis of the Platonic division of humankind into body and self (or soul or mind). The useful metaphor in accurately conceiving the experience of Aknowing what I want,@ of how genetic needs make contact with consciousness through desire, becomes lethal when taken to be real. In reality there is no Athey@ (genetic forces) which exist apart from AI@ who may entertain them (or worse, don=t entertain them) in awareness. Literally, Athey@ are AI@-- at least an essential element in my larger self.

I do not exist, in reality, as an entity apart from Athem@ (my dark genes for survival and reproduction). I, in reality, outside The Enchanted Forest where images reign supreme, am my genetic wisdom, my instincts mediated to awareness through Awant.@ I, if I mature in the Creative Process, moving past Stage Two images only, become more than instincts and primal desires alone; but, and this is the crucial point, I never become other than them. Genetic wisdom (the dark, ingrained Aknowledge@ of eons of time) remains the major and crucial source of all that I may become through the Creative Process.

But back to the metaphor: AThey speak to me.@ Insofar as consciousness is concerned, this tiny but critically important apex of evolution so far, all the vast libraries of encoded powers with which AI@ as a cut-off entity come with, are mediated to awareness primarily through desire. I, metaphorically speaking, know what they need, through attention to desiresC Awhat I want to do,@ Awhat I feel like doing,@ what I am inclined toward.@

In the fuller aspects of a creative decision, to be considered next, the most primary substance, the essential Astuff@ of which such choices are made, is wants, the primal voices of genetic wisdom arising into conscious mind space.

Personal experience is the second main source of material for a creative decision. What has happened before in similar situations? Did it taste good the last time? Did I enjoy the experience, or did I feel more pain than pleasure? Did the event satisfy me previously? Did it accomplish my goals at the time? However memory works, humans are gifted with an immense capacity for remembering what happened before, for holding previous perceptions, which are in any way related to a present event, in mind space. We need not be hurt but once, or Ahit our head against a stone wall@ repeatedly. Prior Alearning@ is ever-present. In varying degrees we have all been to The School of Hard Knocks, that is, learned much on our own; all this wealth of remembered prior experience, varying all the way from single sense encounters, such as, a sight, sound, smell or taste, to complex relational events, like meeting an exciting person or being physically or emotionally abused.

All this, plus much more is somehow Astored in the recesses of the mind@ (or otherwise kept available in the present) for structuring, guiding, and informing us about what-to-do (how to decide) in each present time of decision. Always the past is in the background of every present time for us humans gifted with an enlarged brain.

But we cannot leave personal experience remembered without also considering its counterpart: personal experience forgotten. Just as the big brain allows us to recall, so it lets us forget; we can hold experience in conscious mind space, on the back stages of the mind, or we can banish it from the whole theater area. We can, as psychology notes, Arepress memories;@ we can deal with experience either by holding it fondly in awareness (or close by) or by repressing it into the Aunconscious mind@ where it is no longer immediately available for recall when needed.

This human capacity to repress memories, useful at the time when what is happening seems too difficult to deal with just then, turns out in time to be one of the most destructive of our mental habits, when we come to making creative decisions in the present. To be truly creative to the fuller extent of our capacities, we need all our prior experience as material for present choices, not just those which are easy to remember. We need our Aunconscious minds@ as well as our easily held memories. We need to recall the Abad things@ as well as the good, the painful times as well as the pleasant events, because truly creative decisions are based on all that we are (the sum total of prior experiences), not just what we have seen Athrough rose colored glasses.@

We can never be any more creative in the present than we are open to all of our past. Much repression (which may have preserved us relatively intact at the time) results in non-creative decisions in the present. The more courageous we have been in Afacing our pasts,@ that is, in daring to bring difficult or painful memories out of the closet of unconsciousness and into the present light, the more creatively we can decide today. The wealth of all prior experienceC good and bad, pleasant and painful, happy and sad, respectful and shamefulC is the second major source of Astuff@ needed for creative living in the present. To the extent that we fail to face and hold all that has happened in our pasts in the wings of the stages of our conscious minds, to that same degree we are hindered in creative decisions just now. As difficult as it may seem, we need Aall that we know,@ every bit of data from our long matriculation in the proverbial School of Hard Knocks, if we are to decide and thereby live creatively in the present.

Seeing repression in its negative forms, such as, Aforgetting@ difficult times of abuse or sexual trauma, is often easy to understand; but repression of excitement and pleasure, which may have seemed difficult to assimilate at the time, may be even more destructive in the long term insofar as creative decisions are concerned. Standing Afeeling too good@ and remaining conscious is, paradoxically, often harder than staying aware with Afeeling bad or shameful.@ Repressions of the capacity for pleasure may be even more common in our society than are the more familiar denials of painful times. In either case, creative decisions now call for the fullest possible recollections of both pleasures and pains which may have been denied for pragmatic reasons in the past. We need to be fully present, with our minds as open as possible to all of the past, if we are to make creative decisions in the moment.

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HOUSE BEAUTIFUL

Woman=s Aperfectionism@-- Ahaving to have everything perfect@ (house spotless, bed made, man well dressed, etc.) is misconceived as godliness, as I have previously thought. I see now that it may be rooted in unembraced sorting ability, entrapment as Stage Two, imaging.

Certainly some genetic, ova-directed, inclination to have ideal conditions for embryo, must be a part of the urgeC but what I see most often far exceeds such primal instincts. APerfectionist,@ a psychological problem, comes closer to what I see, yet is lacking in clarity.

The connection with frozen-at-imaging (Stage Two), lack of conceiving (Stage Three), seems more accurate. At the imaging level in the Process of Creativity, Afeels like@ or Aseems right@ is the guiding principle. Given a basic genetic urge, ova-induced, to ideal embryo/child conditions, it would seem like (Stage Two) Aeverything must be perfect@-- that is, in its best form for child-rearing-space; yet what we commonly see, Mother=s Perfectionism, is obviously counter-productive to both father and child environment.

It is, I think, urge-gone-astray, or entrapment at Stage Two, where Stage Three, conceiving, is essential for adding discrimination or sorting to the image of House Beautiful. The pathology of disrupting self (stress when perfectionism fails), as well as family, in service of Mother=s Afeels like@ everything should be perfect, is evident.

But is it a Apsychological disturbance@ or merely the lack of faith necessary to go on and embrace 3) conceiving? Or, are they the same?

In either case, the resolution, I think, is to be found in moving on to add the sorting capacity of Stage Three before Stage Four, minding, can be added to the primal urge reflected in perfectionism.

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DESIRE POWER

The power of woman=s desire to dictate maleness must be rooted in the same biological imperative as woman=s perfectionism. If ova-bearers Awant@--indeed, must have, Aeverything right,@ for conception, followed by Aperfect@ for child rearing, then sperm-bearers must also have evolved powerful urges to determine the Aperfect time@ for conception, most clearly indicated, I think, after our loss of smell determination, by woman=s desireC Awhat she wants.@

I think that we males are genetically tuned for sensing female desire, most primally for conception-time, but later, with estrus Aunderground@ and smell gone, for her desires in general. We Awant to please,@ that is, engender/find her times of desire/pleasure because reproduction requires it.

The problem now, however, is this male inclination for finding female desire, or creating it, has gone amuck. We are as indiscriminate in our reactions to female Awanting it all@ as females are in Atrying to have it all.@ We bend-out-of-shape in Atrying to please@ about as much as they do in trying-to-be-pleasedC that is, have perfection.

Why? Because we, ballless are in the same position as they, brainlessC that is, caught in the image stageC it seems like woman=s pleasure desires are all-powerful, that they Amust have what they want.@ When we males fail to see-through, to move to Stage Three, conceiving, as a step toward Stage Four, being sensible, we remain dictated, determined by woman=s perfectionism.

Our failure to add sorting/discrimination is as disastrous as theirs. Their perfectionism is matched by our blind-dictation-by-it; our indiscriminate reaction to female desires is as compulsive as theirs. Together, we both need Stage Three, discrimination, badly.

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BELIEVING AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS

At Stage Two one has beliefs which are, in effect, ideological (theological, in this case) images. These mental icons function exactly like physical idols, holding projected powers of believers. At this stage of the Creative Process one believes in such and such, e.g., Jesus, ghosts, the power of prayer, or staying clean.

Such beliefs, no matter what their content, are sacred icons of the mind, as surely as clay figures of primitive peoples are sacred idols on their mantles. The difference between mental and physical images is only semantic, insofar as the Creative Process is concerned.

At Stage Three, mental beliefs are analyzed, just as physical images are decoded (broken down into their elements, reasonably). Sacred beliefs, of either a religious or secular nature (e.g., in God or in cleanliness) are shifted from positions of blind worship, unquestionable dogma, first, to the status of mythsC stories perhaps holding hidden truths. The myths are then demythologized, even as images are decoded, analyzed into their elements, where they may be held, sans power, in the mind=s eye.

At Stage Four these diverse and assorted truths, formerly locked in objectified beliefs, are finally absorbed into one=s self. The chaff, as it were, is separated from the grain, discarded, and the remaining substance is symbolically eaten. The former communion elements, for example, the body and blood of Christ in Christianity, now demythologized, are taken graciously as bread and wine, naturally empowering physical elements, health-bringing, as are all human foods. The magic of beliefs in sacred substances is phased into the miraculous wonder of believing in all natural elements in the Creative Process of becoming fully human.

At Stage Four, objective beliefs are dissolved into subjective believing; the sacred nouns (religious or secular dogmas) become secular participles (natural processes honored in consciousness). That which was an objective belief Ain the unseen@ (known in religion as Ataken by faith@) becomes subjectified believing in seeing.

Here one literally believes in seeingC that is, seeing and believing are synonymous. At this phase of the Creative Process one will never say, for example, AI can=t believe what I am seeing,@ because the very nature and substance of his believing is what he is seeing.

Seeing, in this sense, is intended both literally and metaphoricallyC that is, an event of the physical eyes of the head and mental Aeyes@ of the mind. It includes both the sum of present tense ocular stimuli registered in awareness (all that one sees with head eyes), as well as all the AAha=s, now I see!,@ of the mind.

Seeing, as such, includes all Aoutsights@ (things seen Aout there@), and all insights (things Aseen@ through the process of personal experience). The Aoutsights@ of visual events (things seen in the physical world) are merged with insights of spiritual (Apsychological@) events into a wondrous form of Aseeing@ which is a unified whole comprising both.

The parameters of this seeing-which-is-believing at Stage Four are the honest edges of the sum total of one=s personal experiences in life so far. One here believes only what he personally knows, what he has himself learned in the proverbial School of Hard Knocks. Nothing is included which Adoes not make sense@ to himC that is, which has not been personally confronted in his mind=s eye (at Stage Three) and Aseen@ for oneself.

Nothing is Ataken for the truth@-- that is, Abelieved in@ just because someone else said so. Only the seeing of the senses merged into the seeing of the mind (personal perceptions phased into equally personal conceptions) is Abelieved in.@

I placed Abelieved in@ in quotes, implying its colloquial connotations rather than literal meaning. Literally, one at Stage Four does not believe in anythingC that is, hold sacred beliefs as nouns (which can be placed externally in icons or theological notions). In this literal sense of believing in something, one at Stage Four could only say, AI believe in everything@-- everything, that is, which I Asee.@ If someone asks, AWhat are your beliefs?,@ one at this stage of the Creative Process could honestly answer with either: AI have no beliefs,@ or, AI am believing.@ But neither would be understood by one at Stage Two.

Such Aseeing@ which is a merging of Aoutsights@ and insights cannot finally be identified with either one or the other; that is, neither literal vision (what I have seen with the two eyes in the front of my head) nor figurative Asight@ (what I have Aseen@ mentally) can define this kind of merged Aseeing.@ Both are always included, but neither can define the whole. For instance, one at Stage Four would likely Abelieve in germs,@ even though he has never seen one, literally. Yet, weighing the wealth of data (available for Aseeing@ in his mind=s eye), he might Aconclude reasonably@ that germs are real, even if invisible to the eye. In this case, the literal seeing of various physical illnesses, implying the existence of unseen Aforeign bodies,@ is weighed heavily in arriving at a Abelief in unseen germs.@

Conversely, a Stage Two belief, for instance, in Santa Claus (another unseen entity, only existent in the telling of others), might be totally discredited in time after no personal data (comparable to visible sickness implying invisible germs) can be acquired. And so with ghosts and gods and girls who Aturn us on. (or off).@

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GENDER AND CREATIVE PROCESS

The Creative Process is about pre and post gendered personhood, what it means to Abe oneself@ below/above the level of sexual differences. Gender, like all else, is reflected and involved in the Creative Process, but is not the primary substance of it. The Creative Process is mainly about the 44 chromosomes which existed before X & Y, the Johnny Come Latelys on the genetic scene, were even evolved.

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IMAGE IS EVERYTHING

A recent camera commercial featuring Andre Agassi had this theme: Image is everything. Taken literally, the phrase does clearly represent the nature of primary human experience; at first every thing is perceived as an image. This is the structure of Stage Two in the Creative Process. Stated another way, metaphor precedes noun in the natural progression of experience. First, any thing, any it, is registered in the context of previous experiences (perceptions). The second is like the first in some way; and like, as in Ait seems like,@ is the metaphor which comes before the noun, the it or thing, which may later be recognized as independent of the first.

For instance, if an acorn falls on a child=s head for the first time, before he has knowledge or name for acorn, there may be prior experience of sky and falling. Hence to register such a primary perception a child might naturally say (utilizing metaphor long before such a complex form of language is learned), AThe sky is falling.@ Although the sky, literally, is not falling, it is as though (metaphor) the Asky is falling.@ An adult, with wider experience, might say, ANo, the sky is not falling; it=s just an acorn.@ But this represents the outsider=s experience, not that of the child. For a child, yet honest with himself and others, AThe sky is falling,@ may clearly represent his actual experience in the primary form of human expression, namely, metaphor. As such, the sentence is apt.

And so it is with all other specific perceptions in human experience; at first, immediately on perceiving, we metaphor before we name; we give voice (if we speak) to what we have perceived (experienced) by comparing Ait@ to some prior experience existent in memory. Every thingC that is, every perception or experience occurring when we encounter reality is, literally, imaged first. Only later, if we persist, do we translate sky into acorn, etc.; and in many aspects of familiar human experience, we never do!

Summary: before there are its (named objectsC nouns representing persons, places, or things), there are likes (metaphors: AIt seems like....the sky is falling,@ etc.). But before I further explore the nature of its (nouns) and language, I want to amplify the literal nature of the beginning statement: Image is everything. Were we prevented from using metaphors (even if we have no understanding of this language form)-- restricted, that is, to literal language, we would always know that images are all that we have. We never grasp reality except through the windows of our senses, and only then when our senses are open. This means that what we call Aobjective reality,@ the Aworld out there@ apart from ourselves, is only available to Aus (our conscious selves)@ via our senses. If we cannot/do-not perceive Ait,@ then Ait@ does not exist (is not Areal@) to us. Every so-called thing, as we may later learn to name it, remains, in the final analysis, but a perception (or combination of sense-experiences). Our images are all that we can know about so-called things; therefore, if we speak only literally, avoiding all metaphors, image is everything, or every thing, sans metaphor, is actually but our image of whatever.

I hasten to add, before I fall into the trap of Solipsism (AI alone exist@), that the above statement is about the nature of human experience, not about the external world apart from any individual person. To say that image is everything is not to imply that everything is actually imaged by a person; certainly not to say that the only things which exist are those we image for ourselves. With no image at all for, say, Afire,@ we may yet be burned to death. Or, without an image for Acancer,@ we may be Aeaten alive,@ just as we may be killed by a lion or car (some outside reality) even though we have no image for Ait.@

No doubtCalthough many live as though this statement were untrue, reality exists beyond many of our perceptions and therefore images; but it is even more clear to me that in the ordinary course of everyone=s experiences, images (Aseems likes...,@ or metaphors) precede things and therefore are everythingC at least at first.

I have, obviously, Aspoken out of both sides of my mouth@ so far; I have affirmed contradictory statements: first that image is everything, and then, that everything is not imaged.

I have said, in effect, that for an individual the only thing which exists (is Areal@ to him) is what he images; but then I say that Areality (objective stuff) exists (based on observable data) Aout there@ totally apart from what I or any other single person images. AIt@ is not real (recognized) by me unless I image it,@ but Ait@ may certainly exist apart from any or all of my imagingC and indeed may Ado me in@ if I fail to image Ait.@

Perhaps the resolution of this apparent contradiction in logic may become clearer if I return now to the nature of our language structures, which also exist Aout there@ apart from any single individual, just like other forms of Aobjective reality@ which may or may not be imaged by a person. I want to more clearly acknowledge (see) the primary place of imaging in the process of normal human experience, without at the same time falling into the traps of omniscience or extreme egotism in which one believes that only what I see (image) exists. I want to be able to see both the primary place of imagingC the reality of everything as image first, but also the reality of things which are not yet, and may never be, imaged by a person. I want, that is, to recognize subjective human experience in its fullest and finest dimensions without diminishing, certainly not negating, the nature of objective Areality.@

Furthermore I want to acknowledge and affirm that no person, as best I can tell (certainly not I), is either Asubjective@ or Aobjective,@ that is, totally caught up in images or completely Aobjective@ about anything. In actual practice we all seem to be at Stage Two in some (many?) regards, while more advanced into Three or Four in others. Bringing time into the equation, we all image first in all regards, just as a child more obviously does, every new experience; that is, AWow!@ (the language of recognition) which is then shaped into an image of one sort or another always comes before any Aobjective@ de-codingC if ever the latter shall occur.

Although, for example, I may be quite objective in observing the images (e.g., the ghosts) of another and self-righteously feel, if not say, AHow could she be so blind as to believe that?,@ at the very same time, should a naked lady appear, I would likely react with a AWow!@ of my own and perhaps never de-code the image of her breasts, et al.

The point: At all levels of new experience, and always at new encounters with old experience yet to be de-coded, we image first. Everything, we might say, yet to be de-coded, exists for us as image. After various de-codings, in which we move on to Stage Three (e.g., de-code Santa Claus into the Spirit of Giving), we may be quite Aobjective@ in our responses; but before and until any primary image is de-coded in our own minds, we all remain time-locked at Stage TwoC that is, the image, e.g., the breast of the naked lady, continues to hold the power which dictates our reactions.

This side-track into notable exceptions has been taken for my own protection from the dangers of self-righteousness, as though I am Atotally objective,@ beyond all imaging, while only others are Aso blind@ as to yet be moved by some of the images I have finally succeeded in de-coding for myself. The nature of everyone=s experience, I logically conclude, is that we must all be more or less existent at Stage Two in many regards; even if we have struggled and de-coded certain of the common images of childhood, still there are likely to be powerful others yet to be faced in consciousness, and therefore still moving us mightily.

Furthermore, the nature of the Creative Process is that all new encounters with reality, all new experiences or awarenesses, including insights as well as Aout-sights,@ begin with imaging before they even face the possibility of translation into objective nouns. Everything does indeed begin as image; only then, if nerve and normalcy continue, do we sometimes succeed in moving on to Stage Three of the Creative Process.

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IMAGES AND INFORMATION

Images are impervious to information; data is impotent in the presence of a powerful image. When one exists with his own power imaged, or is with another person possessed by images of their own, reason is irrelevant. There is no point in Atrying to be reasonable,@ that is, to wield power by Asense,@ logic, or information while one is in the presence of images. In fact, such endeavors are usually counter-productive, serving only to amplify the power of the images, or as ammunition handed over to an opponent.

One who has projected his power into an image, as is inherent in the process of imaging, is thereby blinded to external data; information, facts, objective bits of knowledge, are as nothing to an imageC that is, to one who exists with images of his own (perceptions not yet de-coded into concepts). AFacts and figures,@ Ascientific data,@ Aobjective truths,@ which are part and parcel of communication between those at Stages Three and Four, are irrelevant, indeed useless with one at Stage Two. To Atry to convince@ one in possession of images (including oneself) on the basis of reason is like pouring water on a duck=s back at best, and like handing over the keys to one=s arsenal at worst. In either case, Asense@ is pointless, even dangerous, when one attempts to cope with images without or within. It is like trying to erase a child=s fear by Aproving that there is no ghost in the room.@

In practice, the only wise way to cope with the images of another person is by personal power within, plus, of course, Abeing reasonable@ oneselfC that is, by confronting blind power without (as is always true when one exists with an image) with recognized power within. Reason, which is otherwise functional in conversation and coping with those at Stage Three or Four, is temporarily laid aside when an image is recognized. For example, since religion and politics, plus all personal beliefs, are commonly the strongholds of personal images, one who is to any degree present at Stage Four will carefully avoid Atrying to be reasonable@ in these arenas. Instead, he will be sharply attentive to slipping into the fragile realms of Asense,@ and dangerously ignoring the presence of powerful images.

Even while attempting to Abe reasonable@ with another, such a person will remain carefully alert to hidden images which may resurrect themselves at any point in any conversation, changing in an instant an otherwise sensible meeting into a disastrous spiritual conflict.

What is true in regards to the images of others is doubly true where one=s own images are concernedC that is, if a wise one remains on the lookout for someone else=s images, immediately shifting attention from reason to power, he will be even more attentive to the sudden resurrection of his own images. All images, being in possession of powers, are dangerous; but images within are even more treacherous than those without. Fortunately, our options are also greater with our own images.

Whereas we have few choices, save wielding overt power or running away from the images of others, we do have other options with ourselves. Rather than simply remaining blind, leaving our images to Ahave their way,@ we may, when we can find the nerve, hold them in abeyance while we try to see past their powers. The overall process is, of course, our continued movement on to Stage Three, de-coding images, first into concepts, and then into ourselves. But this is another subject.

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IMAGE BREAKING

The first phase of moving from image to conceiving (Stage Two to Three) is commonly the fall of the idols, the breaking of the images. Flaws, clay feet of gods (magically powered others), are recognizedC indeed, often sought out, as in my case, as a preface to personal recognition. It is easier to see cracks in the mirror than to catch on to what may later be recognized as projection, but is, instead, primal perception.

I see now that my life long a) search for gods, and b) iconoclasm = my quest for seeing through gods, understanding them, has been aimed toward cognition of personal powers, the move from image to thinking. My problem has been that I stopped with image-breaking, the mental process of seeing flaws in gods, without daring to face the underlying shift of power.

The real challenge is not in seeing clay feetCthough that is nervy, but rather is standing the power shift which underlies the insight.

Seeing flaws in images is only mental, an exercise of mind only; but daring empowerment is existentialC a bodily matter of wholing (healing), daring to overcome splitness and chance becoming One.

Actually em-powered is inaccurate because it implies a flow of power from without, from the Magical Others to oneselfC as though they are the source, and we get it from them. Not so. In this move from image to thought we simply acknowledge, become aware of, what has previously remained unrecognized, namely, power inherent in being oneself.

The move, then, from image to thought is but the mental side of the existential shift from power-less to power-more, from power unrecognized to power acknowledged, from being-as-thought-impotent to being-powered.

To summarize: In the natural process of moving from 1) perception (without or within) to 2) imaging, to 3) conceiving, the deeper issue is power. Awareness is but the activation of consciousness, the mental part, the cognizing of experience which is literally an expansion of power. Perception, in effect, generates power. More literally, I suspect, the power-inherent-in-being experiences itself in perception. Being and power, that is, are synonymous. To be born, to be oneself, is to exist as a bundle or collection of energies/powers.

To be oneself is to personify limited powers, to exist as a collection of cells, each of which is alive, moving, activating, as an inherent aspect of itself, power. Aliveness and power-filled are synonymous; each is but the same from a different perspective.

Perceiving consciously, knowing-what-we-are-knowing (perceiving), is but to be aware of powering in action. When such powering is dimly recognized, in the genesis of consciousness, it is done through images, mental shapes or comparisons (metaphors which arise from recollection or memory), which match the intensity of the power being acknowledged with the perception (actually inherent in the act of perceiving).

In this primal stage of awareness, generally populated by powerful figuresC gods, demons, ogres, giants, ghosts, etc.-- humans function well because these images are all perceived as personal, intimately associated with present living. Through sacrifice, prayer, and many other forms of experience, continual contact is maintained.

The problem comes, though, in the next natural moveC from images to thinking. This begins with Aseeing-through@ the gods (images), on the way to Aseeing-without@ them, to embracing one=s own powers for seeing-more-clearly, rather than dimly-through-images. The problem is not so much in mental iconoclasmC the flaws in gods are generally unhiddenC but rather in daring to personify the powers which burst even further forth in thinking.

Perceiving is powering; thinking is a thousand times more so. The challenge is to not escape into mental impotence, craziness, or hopelessness, rather than daring to embrace/contain the freeing powers which thought personifies.

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SELF MAKING

Imaging is metaphoring only, without conceiving, living in the realm of figures-of-speech (images) rather than daring to go on to speaking oneself (conceiving) from the data of perceptions. Imaging is Aas-if@ living; going by Ait seems@ rather than delineating into Ait is .@ Imaging emerges from right brain awarenessC AI feel like...,@ but remains there. Imaging keeps all personal power held in blindness, only seen reflected in, e.g., what others doCthey Amake me....so and so (mad, happy, upset, etc.,).@ Such sentences are literal; at this stage, self (me) is unformed. I am not yet I, creating me; here Athey@ literally Amake@ (create) me, in the absence of my faith to do so myself.

In the imaging stage, self is un-made. The material and power is present, but one is yet to exercise the faith required for moving beyond images to making oneself through 3) conceiving.

The entire process, from 1-4, can be seen as: how we makeCcreate or becomeC ourselves. From the perspective of mind, it is Abecoming conscious,@ moving from nonsciousness to consciousness; it is embracing the human capacity not only to know (all creatures do this) but to also know-what-we-know, to bring/hold knowledge in consciousness rather than in body or images only.

From the perspective of body, the process is: empowering, becoming powered, indeed power-filled, through participating in normal genetic flows, pulsations, generations of energy which occur naturally through the process of 1) perceiving, 2) imaging, etc.

A side issue is: pleasured. Empowering, letting bodily juices flow, rather than constricting them by stopping at 2) images, or 3) concepts, is inherently pleasurable. Being also feels good. Empowerment, the generation and flow of genetic, bodily energies and juices, is literally ex-citing, in-vigorating, in--spiringC on the way to ec-stasy (being beside oneself)-- that is to say, joy-full, transcendent, pleasure-peaked--whenever we find the nerve to stand being ourselves (through the process of creativity).

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FIGHT/FLIGHT

SHADOWS

Totally apart from all real opposition,
of which there is always much,
we create enemies, don
=t we,
to both mirror and hide
lost faces of our selves,
not to mention, for the fun of fighting
But in time, if faith appears,
we may return them to the level plane
of mere opposition, and look deeply
into their faces for shadows
of our fuller selves
Perhaps then, when we dare,
we may even come to love them
on the steeper way to loving
ourselves

Genes of all creatures, humans included, are scripted now with two primal coping reactions: fight or flight. When any opposition or obstacle stands in the way of our wants, we need no thought to either attack in an effort to overcome, or to run away to escape powers deemed larger than our own.

Perceiving and imaging, Stages One and Two of the Creative Process, are the principle means of effecting these primal instincts. Only the slightest bit of Stage Three conceiving is sometimes added to implement or justify these basic reactions which are ingrained in nonsciousness. Further movement into Stage Three may lead to confirmation of either of these unminding movements, such as, making Aenemies@ our of our opposition, or explaining (mostly to ourselves) why we took either course (also called rationalizing).

This universal script could not have survived eons of evolution if it did not work so well in the vast majority of all our encounters with the commonly oppositional outside world. Fighting or fleeing, attacking or running away, will suffice for survival and limited success in most of our meetings; but not allC and certainly without the maximized advantages which may follow when we add responding to our given arsenals of reacting by fight or flight only, multiplying our options from two to countless more.

This addition, this move from simple reactions to complex responses, occurs normally in the Creative Process of normal human experience whenever we dare move further into Stage Three and then on to Stage FourC when we expand conceiving, widening our knowledge past primal instincts alone, into minding. At Stage Three we de-code, for instance, the images (Stage Two) of our enemies; we add reason to reaction, looking at the larger situation, including our own darker impulses.

And finally, if we are fortunate, we proceed on to Stage Four, minding, where we digest our thinking into the body of ourself. The decoded image of the enemy, for example, seen more clearly as mere opposition and mirror, is used to reflect other aspects of ourselves, hidden or denied (usually both) in the process of prior coping experiences. Through sharper seeing of the decoded Aenemy,@ plus lost parts of ourselves mirrored there, we then have more data for expanded options in effective coping. Minding, rather than merely reacting, we increase our chances of success; and certainly, when we have utilized our fuller capacities for responding, we are less effected even in defeat.

With minding, energies previously wasted in such fruitless endeavors as demonizing (making enemies out of opposition), rationalizing our own actions, Aexplaining@ ourselves, not to mention fighting needlessly or fleeing unnecessarily, then become available for more carefully examining an entire situation, entertaining an expanded variety of options, choosing more wisely, and artfully responding when mere fight/flight reactions would be less effective.

Powers which were projected during imaging and remain frozen while we stay at Stage Two, are reaccepted and absorbed into ourselves at Stage Four, thereby adding strength/force to expanded wisdom. We not only Aknow more@ while minding rather than imaging only, we also have more power available for standing with Awhat we know.@ We are more capable of translating wiser decisions into effective actions because we embody more of the power essential for fuller presence.

But to affirm the expanded options which minding brings to imaging, as we move from Stage Two to Stage Four, is not to belittle or judge the primary importance of our given primal reactions. Fight/flight impulses, ingrained long before options for minding ever evolved on to the human scene, remain the most essential bases for all expanded, even wiser, choices. These instincts commonly serve us well when there is no time to think, and are often essential for survival or success after all more thought-ful efforts have failed. Both before and after the responses which minding makes possible, primal, powerful fight/flight reactions often remain our wisest courses of action in a world where opposition is almost as common as air.

The ideal (to me) state is existence at Stage Four, with images, such as, Aenemies,@ decoded and digested without any loss of awareness and connection with the primal powers of the instincts from which they arise. I seek, that is, not to Aget over@ my given impulses to attack or run, but to add options which only minding can bring; then, with the ever-present possibilities of wielding brute power in either forceful advances or strategic retreats, I want to make choices which expand these wonderful instincts to include the more limited but regularly needed possibilities of creative thinking as well.

Finally, when guile fails, I want to be able to return smoothly and quickly to the underlying impulses, wasting no more time in fruitless negotiations than in blind projections, simply wielding my given human powers in their most effective manner. I want, that is, to own and activate care-fully my capacities both for reacting and for responding, and then to merge them artfully into creative living.

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SEEING

Seeing is both literal and metaphorical, about vision with eyes of head, but also about Aeyes@ of mind. Sight is used here as symbol for all sensing, the entire range of human perceptions; all that we are capable of Agetting,@ knowing, grasping via senses. Knowing is a summary word for all perceptions, all sensing combined; also summarized as Aexperience,@ as in, Awhat you experience@ and Ahow it is@ to you.

AWhat you see@ = what you perceive, sense, experience, know. What you don=t see or know = all that falls outside your range of perceptions, or is not recognized, not Apicked up,@ or not seen.

The significance of seeing: 1) Source of, basis for, well being; the most crucial ground of fun, happiness, joy, salvation, and knowing God (going to heaven); 2) And of illness, boredom, poor living, unhappiness, pathology, craziness and damnationC missing God in Eden (going to hell).

The greatest causes of happiness and misery are neither heredity nor environment, bad chemistry or bad circumstances, but rather Abad seeing@-- especially, not seeing what we do see, have seen, or might see if we dared look.

Looking (knowing what we know) is more problematic than ill health or bad mothers. The arguments about which matters more in human well being: heredity or environment, nature or nurture, are but distractions from the larger issues of seeing what we see, acknowledging our true experience whether it is focused on either. That is, in regard to being happy or miserable, saved or lost, honest seeing matters more than both chemistry and context combined. Neither best genetics nor ideal circumstances, or both together, matter more than Abeing honest with yourself@ about your own perceptionsC seeing what you see.

On the negative side: denial of awareness, refusing to be conscious, Arepression@ in Freudian language, believing in what they say, what you are told, rather than in what you see, in Awhat it is like@ to them rather than Awhat it is like@ to you. The most dangerous of all coping mechanisms, past temporary blindness or feinting to survive in dire emergencies, is self-chosen blindness (metaphor for not seeing), not believing in what we see, denying our own matriculation in the School of Hard Knocks, trying to be good rather than honest.

Looking to the eyes of another (Mother=s Smile) for either permission to see or confirmation of seeingC Do you see what I see? Is an infinitely dangerous stance because it risks projecting the responsibility for seeing into the hands (eyes) of another. The only worse game is AMother May I...look@ at what is visible anyway or otherwise.

My grandest error that I now see has been the above; namely, submitting my visions (what I see) to the court of public approvalC beginning with mother but then projected onto all her later substitutes both feminine in form, and generalized into Awhat they think.@ Only in private or in the light of Atheir smiles@ have I dared this simple and most natural of all human capacities which border on personal choice, namely, to openly, honestly, trustingly, and delightfully, acknowledge and enjoy my perceptions. Specifically, knowing that feels good and bad, what I like and don=t, want and don=t, think and don=t.

SECTION FOUR

CONFESSIONS

IMAGES

5/28/97 Poros, Greece

Wandering today these beautiful shores, adorned by ancient beauty and topless bathers, I am trying to decode Gaia, the most ancient of all my icons, the primal Mother of All. Yesterday, in a private cove on the end of the island, mopeded to, I swam in my altogether before finding a cave, womb-like; once in its watery darkness, I slivered myself back to its cervix, then twisted my way up its Fallopian Tube to where a daring sperm/I-like, might have met an ageless waiting ovum. There I sat in my primal imagination, back a second time in the womb of Mother Earth, awaiting my newest birth.

In time, more timely than clocked, I eased back down into Her cunt, eyed the awesome outside world, imaged the pain/terror/wonder of my first exodus, then dived fearfully once more into the vast sea of Her unknown world. I swam outward till I tired; then floating on Her caressing waves, I chanced to see the sun through my closed eyes, blessing me from above. Born again, I realized that suspended between sun and earth, borne gently by the waves of time and sea, that I am of them both, and can never be my fuller self when I am lost in the suns of my mind, or hidden in the wombs of earth. To be, I must span the apparent dichotomy, embracing both my earth and sun selves, daring unity...whenever faith allows...

I borrow Gaia in my imagination to mirror those parts of myself which I have long denied in my life long quest for son and sun-ship, which have Her buried in the wombs of femininity, lost to my known self; my assorted admirations of women of all sorts have excused me, till now, I surmise, from the challenges of becoming what I saw in symbol of sun and sea, namely my bothness.

Today I saw these facets of Gaia, which I intend in time to make my own also.

Gaia is earthiness, connections with body and place rather than mind and space. She is about hereness rather than thereness, about being here rather than going somewhere. She is symbol of primal femininity, XX genes in operation, what every woman deeply knows, even when denied, and few men ever learn; too easily we settle for possession or worship of woman, adoration or abuse, rather than daring ourselves to know too what they do.

Some of her embraced/personified qualities are these:

In a place, any place, she opens herself to Aget the feel@ of the space; she senses allC seeing, hearing, smellingC perceiving, that is, the present. She is, wherever she goes, sensually present.

Like woman today, she is always Ashopping,@ even when not buying; that is, collecting data for future reference, like primal memory of face and form for creating and acknowledging connections.

She holds genetic wisdom in awareness, if not in consciousness. Sensing genes, she knows, e.g., when to rest, how long to sleep, how much and what to eat (when to leave what on her plate), as engened in all humans but lost to the awareness of disembodied males.

Gaia is goal-less beyond the fulfillment of her selfing/sexual being; she, being here, is not trying to be elsewhere, such as, to get somewhere else, to grow up, to save the world, or even improve other than the paces she inhabits.

She has no need to write or tell, past symbols for communicating in her circumscribed world. Knowing what she knows, she does not need outside affirmation, Aunderstanding;@ only acceptance.

She has no religion past honoring her inherent powers, plus those which move her; she is a believing one without need for doctrines, creeds, or beliefs.

Aware of bodily forces, she moves and stops in accord with their direction; hence she knows immediate issues like when to cross and uncross her legs, when to go and when to stay.

She sees whatever is visible and absorbs sights immediately without need for photographs; she does not need souvenirs because she takes in events at the time.

She needs wealth for security and nurturing, but not for status or show.

She, earth-connected, knows timeliness, but cares naught for time; moon-like, she moves by cycles a clock cannot measure.

Being earthed and mortal, Gaia is unconcerned with immortality. Concern with an after-life, typical of males, reflects, I think, our failure to embrace present lifing; we dream of a second chance later, rather than daring the return to womb and mortality now.

Artifacts of matriarchal times, before Apollo slew Gaia=s serpent, do not focus on grave stones and pyramids as we find beginning in Classical times of male dominance. This reflects, I think, feminine groundedness which, being mortal, is less concerned with living forever or getting a second chance, or even being rewarded.

Here, to Gaia, is its own reward, as I trust will become more so for me as I own her within myself.

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CREATIVITY

8/10/95

I am moving closer to more concerted mental creativity on my own, to doing for myself what I have previously only been able to do Afor others,@ as in preaching, counseling, etc. I still resist, I think because of these two major factors: the unknown, and opening myself to the past, including my main denials. The first, the unknown, I see is essential to creating--that is, pulling elements of experience together in the current moment requires standing with waiting-to-see what will emerge. This means leaving the security of what I know, the pinned down, now dead experience which has been symbolized in my mind, in favor of the fresh and new which is just now emerging. Ack! The unknown; which takes faith.

The second threatening element, the past, is not so much what has been--the literal past, as it is the habits of denial which I established in the past; most specifically, embodiment and sexuality. I see now that the true powers which creativity requires are rooted in genetics, in body--with its various drives and wants, and in sexuality--with its diverse components. These two, in consort, are at the heart of what I most consistently learned to deny in early life; specifically, in trying not to be selfish and sexy, to be unselfish and mostly unsexual. I learned well to suppress my awareness of each much of the time; fortunately, I never succeeded in negating either.

Now the challenge in becoming regularly creative means unlearning these ingrained habits of denying awareness of bodily desires, especially sexual urges, since I recognize these as the prime sources of power and direction for the wonderful events of creating in the unknown present.

I am also seeing that passionate living, literally passion itself, is intimately connected with creativity. I suspect that they are synonymous, that to be passionate is to be creative and creating, to be flying by the seat of my pants, making up reality as I go along out of the data of experience and present conceptions. I have just finished creating a waterfall and pond in the back yard. This physical creating, making it up as I go along--with minimal plans, seems very much like mental creating, what I do with my theology, except with hands rather than mind only.

I see further now that a part of my habitual looking to females, empowering their desires while cloaking my own, has been more than evasion. It has also become a way, albeit round about, for contacting my own powers, specifically sexual, in any given moment. Their Ainspiration@--that is, the breath-breathed-into me through my fantasies about them or the sights of their femininity, is actually, I now realize, rooted in my own sexuality projected. I get Aturned on@ by them after I have lost awareness of my sexual impulses and am only reminded by the stimuli they provide, based on my habitual projections. In other words, I connect with my own sexual powers, the source of my honest self-motivations, in the roundabout fashion of collecting the type of female images which I have learned to view as powers to me. Then I truly believe, in my self-blindness, that they Aturn me on.@ Even so, the system works, sometimes.

The major disadvantages are that I remain dependent on this habit for my motivation to creativity even when, for obvious and practical reasons, they frown rather than smile, that is, fail to fit the patterns of my projections.

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FAITH/POWER

The path to Creativity is primarily about embracing/owning personal powers, which are commonly denied/projected (kept at image Stage) in becoming socialized. The mental stepsC1) perceive, 2) image, 3) conceive, 4) mindCare but the reflection of what is essentially a move of power; they are visible effects of what is real but unseeable, namely, the expansion of power within oneself.

I have previously focused on what is visible, but relatively ignored the power issue. Now to power: I see 1) That personal power is threatening and dangerous in society. AMother knows best@ = leave power of thought, as well as all else, Aout there.@ Don=t think for yourself, just as, don=t do what you want/choose to do. Do as told.

2) That embracing power in this familiar social context takes much faith. I know of nothing more nervy than this. Is this because of my social history (denying my power, for acceptance of others), or is it inherent in daring to be power-filled itself?

True, it is personal; but I now think that the process of being-with-power is inherently faith-demanding. Perhaps this is the most essential core of faithing, the life of faithC being powered. Power is rooted in passion, genetic desire, instinctual urgesC all of which are the greatest threats to social structures. To dare to be one=s powers is to move in face of social rejection; but also it is at the heart of becoming oneself.

To be honest, to be oneself, is to be with powers personified, most all of which are socially rejected. Notably, there are in the arenas of Aselfish@ and Asexy.@

The major genetic directives, 1) Survive (be Aselfish@), and 2) Reproduce (be Asexy@), are also the major social threats. But evolution has created power, as well as pleasure, with its imperatives. More literally, the power-to-do what works is what has evolved successfully. What was power-less phased out. Power is at the heart of evolutional success.

To be, literally, is to-be-with-power; being itself is synonymous with poweringC not omnipotence, certainly, but even more certainly, not impotence. Being is, we are, with bounded/limited power; yet being oneself is essentially power-filled.

We are not, cannot be without power; power is not separate from self, to be gained from without; it is self. Self is power-personified, a collection of cells best characterized as powers-operative. In reality we are not Aweak@ or in need of getting power from others; even babies are power-filled, bundles of powers collected and personified.

What happens in socialization, at least in the sin of the process, is that we learn, pragmatically at the time, to deny/suppress/lose awareness of our real powers (notably selfish and sexy). We do not cease to be powers, but to be aware of powers. We cut our sense-of-ourself off from actual self; we sacrifice powers on the altar of Mother-Approval, the Graces of Mother=s Smile, at first; then once in the habit, we continue our denials with others.

We learn to act weak, without power, to survive and to enhance Her favors, but then fall for our own act, coming to believe/perceive ourselves as weak, as being the way we have learned to act. Once in this divided state of: 1) Being powered, but 2) Acting weak, then power itself, becoming honest with the way we=re made, becomes ultimately threatening. We dare not be honest with ourselves because to do so is to confront power, along with the threat of excommunication. If we admit, without wisdom (which no one has at first), our powers, we are in danger of Aacting out@ and getting kicked out. Power, at the time, must not seem to be worth the threat. Easier to be weak and accepted than to risk being honest (with power) and rejected.

Back to the question: Is faith/nerve inherent in being-powered (I avoid Aem-powered@ because em implies we get power from without), or is it required because of this common social condition of denial? Maybe it can=t be answered and doesn=t matter anyway. What I know is that being with power is, for me, an extremely nervy way-to-be. I am so inclined, habituated, automatic, at deferring, at denyingC especially to myself, my awareness of power/passionC that to do so, anytime, anywhere, is an act of considerable faith. I truly don=t know if I can stand being power-filled! Will I get rejected, explode, die? How can I image the size of my fear (resistance?) of existing power-filled, especially if it is also recognized by others?

I consciously seek to be passionate and powerful, to personify the powers essential in creative living; yet at the same time I powerfully and consistently resist and deny the very state-of-being I idolize. I am truly ambivalent about power. To chance becoming honest, first with myself, then socially, about my experienced powers-to-be, without shame/guilt or denial, and to act wisely at the same time (revealing/concealing appropriately), is the most faith-demanding quest I currently know of.

I am more afraid, that is, of acknowledging my passion/power than of anything else I now realize. I suppose this but says: I fear being myselfC which is to say, with-power, more than I ever realizedC till now!

xxxx

NERVE AND CREATIVITY

I have, with my clients, been noticing the nerve or faith which is required to move from images to conceptions, seeing through the gods; I have had a much harder time recognizing the same within myself. I now think that the more troubling issue is dealing with the power which is confronted in this third phase of perceiving, namely, in bringing perceptions into fuller consciousness. Conceiving, I now see, is, like perceiving and imaging, highly empowering. Not that it, the process of thinking, does it for us or to us, but that in conceiving we are daring to acknowledge, to bring into consciousness, power inherent in being our fuller, wholer selves. In other words, thought doesn=t empower us; thinking is not a nervy or risky thing to do; rather in daring to think, instead of staying at the image level of experience, we bring into consciousness the inherent power of wider experiencing.

By refusing to move on to conceiving, decoding the gods, we succeed in the illusions of idolatry, that is, in keeping, in our own darkness, powers which are actually inherent in ourselves, perceived as though (see the metaphor as though) they are Aout there.@ Thus we are kept safe from the dangers of being empowered ourselves.

I suppose this Adanger@ must first appear when we encounter the powers of our first gods, parents. Since their=s is greater, perhaps we learn to curtail and then deny awareness of our own as a pragmatic way of coping with their=sCwhich is, at least at first, the larger and more pressing challenge. If we de-power ourselves, cow-tow to them, then getting along must be easier--at first. If I don=t have any power, can=t do things they disapprove, then I am not in threat of their punishments. The larger issue is, however, that these same personal powers are essential not only in being whole myself, but also in coping well with the highly dangerous world.

The violence inherent in the creaturely-script calls for considerable power in staying alive and maintaining resources for good living.

Coming back to consider the nature of power inherent in conceiving, that is, in daring to reason, to hold in mind space discrete bits of data while they are weighed one against the other in the process of reaching reasonable decisions: I think that primal personal powers are encoded through evolution in two major genetic agendas, namely, survival and reproduction, staying alive and making babies (replicating ourselves)--in popular language, in being Aselfish@ and Asexy.@

Since both of these arenas are highly controlled or rejected in society, the challenge of embracing powers inherent in being Aselfish@ and Asexy,@ clearly and consciously, must be immense. Certainly I have gone far in denying them in my awareness. I have tried hard to be unselfish and unsexy. The resulting problem, I suspect, is something like this: To become aware of natural powers, through the process of thinking, is also to become aware of selfishness and sexiness, the two grand social taboos. Personal power, first brought into consciousness, is likely to be conceived in arenas of selfing and sex, both of which have largely been kept Aobscene,@ for a life time in my case. I have long ago learned to be ashamed of being selfish or sexy.

But now, to become aware of being powerful, I most often do so in these two arenasCthat is, I become conscious of the stirrings of power through mental images associated with Aselfish@ desires or sex-associated inclinationsCboth of which are highly tainted with guilt in most of my conscious experience.

Thinking more clearly, I can see that selfish and sexy are but huge categories for powers which are more clearly delineated in other terms. Sexy, for example, is not so much about literal reproduction, not so much about intercourse itselfCdoing Ait,@ as it is about simply acknowledging Afeeling good,@ or awareness of being-with-power. What I conceive as sexy is more sharply seen as can-do-ness, or existing with power sufficient to be present without threat, indeed, with escalated excitement.

Images which I have kept empowered, my icons representing my experiences with power, are, quite naturally I think, selfish and sexy in nature. After all, I think logically, these are the arenas in which personal powers exist and therefore are more apt to become conscious. The female body, for instance, was indeed where I first encountered the powers of perception. It was at mother=s breast, I surmise, where I first Aknew@--that is, perceived, the power inherent in being-present-sucking. That I would image this power in breast-shapes seems only reasonable.

The power, thereafter, which I perceive in the Aturn-on@ capacity of breasts is, when I am more personally aware, in the images they are for my powers of living, experienced first in their encounter. Their Aturn-on@ ability is not, as I have imaged, in themselves, but in my own sexual/self capacities kept in the image stage of awareness. They have been the gods (goddesses?) personifying my own unembraced sexual powers. Yet it is more than sexual. Perhaps Acreative@ is more literal and accurate. The powers of being, perceived most clearly as Asexual,@ or in arenas associated with sex, such as breasts, are, I suspect, much more clearly conceived in language about creatingCmaking-things, making-things-happen. Most primally these Athings@ may be babies, but in the wider sense they are, I suspect, about Amaking@ itself, about creating, that is.

xxxx

CONFESSING IMAGES

(Written on way to Saline, to AMother=s@)

1. Normal = It scares me, as in the image of a tiger under the bed; or it makes me feel good. It is commonly parents, gods/demons, magic, religion, romance, lovers, etc. All power at Stage 1, perception, is perceived externally/objectively. Whatever I feel is caused by something; all is the law of cause and effect; no knowledge/awareness of I as powerful.

Before speech all is figures of speech, that is metaphors, similes, personifications; but even as speech comes, all perception of power remains in figures of speech; it causes = power personified; I feel like you don=t love me (simile).

Most of life, especially in significant areas, is lived at this stage: as if, metaphors = images, e.g., spouse makes me happy/mad; it=s their (parents, lovers) fault, etc.

2. But to stay normal we must move on to Stages 3 and 4, to 3) conceive, and 4) to mind; once we Aknow better@ = more, we are not permitted, in reality, to not-know what we do know. To keep images frozen into icons is idolatry. For examples, Santa Claus, Amother knows best,@ Acheaters never win,@ Alovers make us happy,@ etc.

To know is to affirm my own experience, my perceptions, to me; not Afor sure@ or Aright,@ but as I see it. To not see what I do see is to die as self; this is major sin, exodus from Eden. AIn the day that thou eatest, thou shalt surely die.@ Self suicide.

For me this involves projection; once I know about, e.g., another person=s projection of their stressCover work, etc., on to me, once I see this, my act of faith is to no longer fall for it, take it personally, as though (metaphor level) it were truly at me, even when the other person thinks so, says so, or acts like it.

Projection, once seen, is exactly like Santa Claus seen. This means; no stocking hanging allowed, or disappointment when he fails to show on Christmas morning. The problem is: to recognize another=s projections is to confront my own on to her; namely, to be goddess for me, reward me for being good to her, etc. So when I get her worst vs. Her best, when she=s good to others but Atakes it out on me,@ then my idolatry of her is exposed. In order to see her projection on to meC she sincerely believes AI am irritating her@-- I must also see how mine on to her are thwarted. If I see her as she is, projecting on me as cause, then I must see her humanity, that is, her clay feet, which reveal my idolatry on her. To get pissed at her for getting pissed at me is to fall into my own non-sciousness, duplicating her=s.

To remain at the image level, as above, after I know better, is self-chosen blindness, which costs my good life. So long as imaging is real, okay; but once I see more, I must honor this knowing even as I did the first, when it did indeed seem that she was goddess, saving me from myself.

I note also the error of escaping into Aintellectual insight,@ knowing in my head, but ignoring in life; e.g., Santa; that parents are human; that lovers can save; about other=s projections on me, and especially mine on them.

Most insight, it seems, is only intellectual. We mostly Aknow in our heads,@ but not in our loins. We have head knowledge only, not absorbed yet, not in our guts. We move from Stage 1, perception to Stage 2, imaging, but then escape the move to Stage 3, conceiving, by either going the male route into Intellectualism, or the female route into Emotionalism. In either case we evade the moves into conception and on to 4) minding.

To move on to 4 = to be sense-able, that is, to live-out sense I have made, not escape into intellectual insight, using concepts to conceal my continual imaging (#2), but rather swallowing, embodying, being what I know.

The common female opposite of the more typically male escape into Intellectualism is Emotionalism; they escape, more often, into Afeels like@ rather than Alooks like,@ into the darkness of right brain rather than the light of left brain. They avoid 3 and 4 by falling into feelings vs. thoughts; they have feelings to hide in, even as men have thoughts to hide in.

Real power, vs. tit for tat counter projections, it to stand knowingly, seeing another=s projections, recognizing my own temptation to retreat into mine, yet standing in presence, e.g., of her abuse, vs. taking it on, falling for it, getting hooked, being triggered by it. Instead, seeing it, with amused detachment, perhaps with regret, yet clearly knowing it as Aher problem@ rather than Ataking it personally;@ then acting wisely vs. dumbly. Dumb=counter attack, defend myself (not the same as protecting myself), explain it (as though she were conscious at the time).

My act of faith at such times is to keep knowing what I know, being sense-able vs. retreating to my own imaging, respecting her humanity, including the right to image, plus the inclination to project on me, or, to include me among her images. Her projection on me, falsely seen as Ataking it out on me,@ is a reverse compliment.

Dare I risk such standing, without moving from my own Green Spot? I=ll seeC so here I am again!

xxxx

SEEING IMAGING

Previously I saw the Creative Process as moving from 1) perception, without or within, leading to 2) conception, or 1) ception, 2) per-ception, and 3) con-ception, with the latter seen as Athinking.@

Now I am seeing a mid-step in the move from per-ceiving to con-ceiving, namely imaging: 1) per-ception, 2) imaging, 3) con-ceiving. Before we have discrete thoughts, conceptions to hold in mind space, we form pictures or images, which may then be decoded into thoughts. After seeing with eyes, we next see pictures or shapes which organize out sights into forms associated with previous experience.

Such pictures, when we are existentially honest, parallel or represent the full scope of our perceptions, e.g., the size of our fear, accuratelyC that is, the image and the perception are in sync; one is no larger than the other. Huge fear = huge image; small fear = small image.

Images are representational but not yet symbols; they are the pre-cursors of symbols. Symbols literally stand for, that is, exist as discrete, separate entities from that which they symbolize; for example, cat stands for animal, but is not it. With images this distinction does not yet exist; the image is still connected with the experience it represents, but does not yet symbolize.

Inwardly or experientially, to the one who is imaging, they seem to be the same; the image is perceived as the experience. The ghost, e.g., which Ascares me@is synonymous with my fear. Remove the ghost, remove my fear. This may be analyzed by others as Aprojection,@ but to the one involved, this is reality-as-perceived. There is no projection involved. AThe devil,@ for example, Areally did make me do it.@

This yet seems illogical to me, but it is as though metaphor precedes thinking, rather than being one form of thought. It seems that all images are more like metaphors than like pictures. Does metaphorical thinking precede symbolic thinking? I now think so.

Images seem to be twofold: first, literal mental pictures, like photographs, where the paper image exactly mirrors the outside perception. In one=s mind the picture or image, for example, of the tree, is the same as the tree Ais.@ I think I am seeing it as it is, with no awareness that I am experiencing my own perceptions only; not it, but the wave lengths of light I have evolved to perceive. Bees, e.g., may see it differently; dogs may smell it differently.

But other images, especially of deeper emotional or inward perceptions, are more commonly perceived as direct metaphors, specifically similes, beginning with Alike..@ AI feel,@ e.g., Alike the sky is falling,@ or, Alike there=s no point in living,@ etc.

I never conceive such comparisons as similes, symbolic representations, but as literally the way-it-is at the time. It is I; the simileC Alike running away,@ is who-I-am at the time. It is not a symbolic expression, but rather an honest representation, an image, of my experience at the time.

AShe turns me on,@ for example, literally a metaphor or personification, is seldom so conceived at the time. I believe, just then, that she is doing it to me. It is not I who exist excitedly, but she who is exciting me. It is representational of I. (Or so I Athink@ just then.)

xxxx

GROWING DOWN

Growing up is a misnomer; what I am doing is more like growing down, that is, returning to a way of being which I once was but have long since left. This diary, my therapy, my growing up, even my professions I think, have largely been about trying to find my way back to that state of honesty, of acknowledging my real perceptions, of simply being/affirming my own existence.

What I did long ago, I now see, was learn to deny certain of my perceptions--things I saw, felt, thought, in quest of approval by others, primarily my mother. When any of my perceptions came into conflict with hers, or were simply different, I learned to value hers, to de-value mine, and eventually to deny mine in awareness, to suppress and then repress, in Freudian terms.

I do not know if I was simply weak or cowardly, or if I was smart enough to realize that I fared better in the world in the light of mother=s approval at the time than in the light of my own perceptions. Whether fearful or smart, the facts are, I now realize, that I came to deny in my own awareness significant aspects of my own experience. I in effect submitted myself--at least many elements of myself, to the vision of others before letting on to me what it was I experienced. In these critical arenas (only seen as critical in hindsight) I in effect filtered my vision through the lens of mother=s eyes first, before I dared (would?) let myself recognize what I saw.

I use Aseeing@ here both as literal and as metaphor; Aseeing@ stands for per-ceiving in all

its varied aspects--smelling, hearing, tasting, as well as feeling and thinking (remembering and reasoning). All these elements of my personal experience were, I can now see, submitted to the acceptance/approval/affirmation primarily of my mother before they were allowed open existence in my own awareness. I looked, as it were, for reflections in her eyes of what I was seeing before I dared fully let on to myself that I was seeing it.

She, and all those after her who may be generally grouped first as female and then more widely into they, as in Awhat they think,@ became, as it were, the first filter in my own process of consciousness. If consciousness is broken down into phases: first ception, then per-ception, then image, and finally con-ception--the latter being identified with conscious thought, ideas held in mind space, then what I learned to do must have been to ceive which comes naturally, without any personal initiative, and perhaps to go on to partially per-ceiving or beginning to Athoroughly-grasp,@ but then, before completing the process of consciously acknowledging what I had perceived, I imaged mother and learned to look first for signs of shared seeing in her eyes, for clues to the acceptability of what I had seen, for okness-to-see.

If I saw acceptance in mother=s eyes or manner, I could then go on to full per-ception

and thence to con-ception, to conscious acknowledging of what I had originally ceived. If I did not, if she either denied, by the look in her eyes or tone of her voice or subtlety of her movements, or obviously rejected what I had seen, then I must have interrupted the natural process of my own becoming conscious.

What actually occurred, I think, was that I split myself, that I created a division in my own being, I became literally schizo - phrenic, divided-in-mind. The original natural ception, over which I had no conscious control, when it was not reflected acceptingly in mother=s manner, was split off--denied, Arepressed,@ from my more conscious per and con-ceptions. I became, in these particular arenas of experience, literally Adivided-within.@ Energies which more naturally would have been given to fuller affirmation and expressions of my own experiential ceptions were thereafter devoted to denying or Aholding down@ in my mind what it was that I had actually ceived. Instead of continuing the natural process, of bringing my primal ceptions on into fuller awareness and then into outer expression in the world, as in creating from the materials of my perceptions, I instead became divided through denial, and learned how to act like what was true was not true, like I did not see what I did see and that I saw what I did not see--all this as reflected in my perceptions of mother=s shared seeing.

After this mode of functioning, this way-of-living became ingrained and habitual, I had two alternatives; I could separate myself from the eyes of others and then chance being naturally conscious without risking the threat of the reflections in their eyes, or I could be with them and continually filter my experience through the lens of their acknowledging eyes. If they obviously saw what I saw (Aunderstood@) then I could proceed with becoming fully conscious and even with expressing my perceptions in some outside form; but if they didn=t see, or more dangerously did and rejected what they saw, then I was forced, by this habit, to act like I didn=t see it either. My more devastating problem was that I so often came to fall for my own act, to split myself and deny even in my own awareness that I saw what I had seen.

When with others, because I wanted to be naturally honest with myself, like little children are, then I was constantly in search of their Aunderstanding@--that is, of signs that they saw what I saw and were accepting of it. Then, if they did, in line with my old habit, I had permission to go on to fuller consciousness and possibly even expression in some outward form.

My professions, I only see in hindsight, were wisely chosen to allow me space for thinking, for becoming conscious of my own experience without having to filter it through the eyes of others (mothers). As minister I was expected to discern the truth, even if cloaked in AGod=s word,@ and to express it openly without looking into the eyes of others for approval first. In counseling, likewise, I was expected to see more than my clients, and hence to be able to express what I saw without asking for their approval first. As minister and counselor I was professionally placed to evade the disastrous effects of my early habits. In these arenas I could, indeed, was expected to, reveal my honest perceptions, to actually say what I thought rather than looking for permission to be honest.

My professions, in effect, gave me permission to think honestly, to become conscious of my real perceptions in the arenas in which they operated. In religion, as minister, I was permitted to think honestly about God and all theological subjects. In psychology I was further permitted to think honestly about human relations, about how people work. As a professional in both arenas, with degrees to authenticate me, I was consequently able to become consciously honest in at least two significant areas. Although each was in some measure distant from myself, that is, mostly about others rather than myself, I was at least able to think my own thoughts, without submitting them to mother=s approval, while in these professional cloaks.

As preacher and counselor I was automatically allowed to think straight. The professions in effect replaced Mother=s Smile. In them I no longer had to look to her--or her symbolic substitutes, other females or Atheys,@ to grant me permission to go on with becoming conscious of my real perceptions.

Now I see through the covers; I see, for instance, how preaching on Sunday has become my medium for thinking through my experience on various subjects, which I have previously thought to be potentially Ahelpful@ to them. Under cover of Ahelping,@ both in preaching and counseling, I have been able to think clearly and honestly about the various subjects which come up in religion and therapy. But I also see now how much extra energy has been required to translate my thoughts into their languages, to temper my clarity to their understanding, to trying to reshape my thoughts to fit into their mental categories or levels of openness at the time.

Rather than focusing on my own clarifications, the artistry of continually shaping and reshaping my thoughts to further clarify my perceptions, I have devoted much energy to trying to second guess them. I long ago recognized the very limited power of my thoughts, the Afoolishness of preaching,@ the relative ineffectiveness of conscious thought, even when accurate, to actually change another person; also, how tempting it is to engage in trying to change others, rather than practicing what I preach. Still I have persisted in projecting my own thinking in possible service to others, rather than focusing consistently on simply becoming clearer within myself.

Now I want to more consistently focus my energies on escalated honesty about the sum total of my own experiences, on trying to clarify for my own salvation, my own conscious honesty. I may still preach or do therapy, but I want these activities to simply be things I do, for money or pleasure rather than for permission to become more honest with myself. I want to Acut out the middle-men,@ the professions or parents of other persons whomsoever, in the purer, more direct bringing of my perceptions into honest conceptual space.

I see this as more like growing down than up; I will be returning to the simple honesty of childhood, how I suspect I must have been before I learned to look for permission to perceive in the light of Mother=s Smile, before I submitted myself (my perceptual experiences) to her/their eyes before going on to self honesty.

All this to say, I see, that I want to regularly be myself, including being consciously honesty about all my perceptions and experiences. No big deal; just returning to Abe as a little child@ and thereby being allowed again into the kingdom of God which does seem to be reserved for those who become like them.

Reckon I can.....?

xxxx

SENSE-ABLE

Thy words were found, and I did eat them
and they became to me the joy and rejoicing of eternal life. (
Jeremiah)

When I reach Stage Four in any arena, when knowledge is absorbed, when I know-what-I-know, these are the signs: 1) My doing is synonymous with my knowingC that is, I live-out my knowing. There is no gap between what-I-preach and what-I-practice; what I know is what I do.

2) There is no need for support/approval from others. I am not Ain doubt@ and looking for external affirmation. The faith required to move from Stage Three to Four results in con-fidence (with-faith) at Four. Such con-fidence, being past need for support from others, is not omniscience, not self-righteous. I am moving with what I know, yet open to new information and am non-judgmental of others who know or choose differently. My truth = myself, but is not presumed to apply to others.

3) There is no Aevangelism@ as popularly understood. Nor do I, when I have eaten my words, have any need to Amake others see@ my light, or, to Ahelp them@ with what I presume to apply to them also. I am past, when at Stage Four, the self-righteousness of Aknowing better@ than others. I may share for fun, money, or when asked, but am not presumptuous that my experience will apply to them.

4) I have no need for Abeing understood@ by others. Confident in my absorbed knowledge, I need not look to the eyes of others for confirmation of my vision.

5) Nor am I defensive when questionedC that is, automatically inclined to protect myself, as though I am guilty or as though I am being attacked when someone disagrees or is opposed to my viewpoint.

6) I am conscious of my knowing, able to word it, to see it clearly, even though Ait@ and I are the same. To an outsider, Stage Four may appear just like pre-Stage One, that is, conscious/knowing may look exactly like nonscious knowing (genetic knowledge), e.g., how to digest food or Aknow@ what tastes good.

I so Anaturally@ effect my conscious knowledge that it appears naturalC like breathingC without consciousness; yet it is. Tillich=s term, sophisticated innocence, applies, in contrast to the naive innocence of genetic knowledge. In non-sciousness one knows, but does not know-that-he-knows. At Stage Four, one both knows and knows-that-he-knows.

7) Self and knowledge are the same. When at Stage Four, Ait@ C what-I-know, and AI@ are the same. My identity, my sense-of-myself, and my knowing are the same. What was Ait@ at Stage Three, seen and possessed knowledge, is phased into AI@ at Stage Four.

Here I no longer have this knowledge; I am it. Even though I can see/say Ait@ as though it were an entity I hold, it is not now an it; it-is-I.

This, of course, is a paradox in logic. How can I both have (have acquired) this knowing, be able to voice it as though it were a possession, and yet it be I? The resolution of the non-sense lies in recognizing the metaphor in the description. Here it is as thoughC the metaphorC I have it, while in fact I am it.

It would be equally accurate at Stage Four to reverse the metaphor; it is also as though Ait@ has Ame@ C that is, as though I am in possession of my knowing, that my vision has me. Whether I say AI have it,@ or, AMy vision has me@ C both are metaphorical, as though statements; neither is literal, when I am at Stage Four.

8) No self-consciousness. To be oneself consciouslyC another description of Stage Four, is, paradoxically, to be without or beyond self-consciousness. When I am being my knowing, I am conscious of my being (I can say, because I see, what I am knowing); yet I am not self-conscious about itC since it is no longer an Ait,@ but now AI.@

To be oneself consciously is in sharp distinction from being self-conscious. This familiar latter stateC self-consciousness (as in, embarrassed, ashamed, feeling Acaught@) is a certain evidence that one is not at Stage Four. The knowledge is still possessed, as at Stage Three, and one=s absorption, identity-with, is yet ahead.

I can be embarrassed, self-conscious, about what I have (but is not me), but there is no shame possible about what I amC at least when I have embraced, absorbed, eaten my own words.

Then the text becomes accurate. My words become the same as Athy words.@ God is speaking in meC then Athey@ become Athe joy and rejoicing of eternal life.@

 

xxxx

DREAMS

Power required by presence as Stage Four in the Creative Process is commonly trapped in images from Stage Two. To be pleasured and freeCtwo prime benefits of minding, require personal power. In society, each is demandingC mediating fun in a social structure which is threatened by it, and making decisions which freedom necessitates, each take power.

Although this power is also a part of human potential, it is easily dissipated into the images selected in Stage Two of human experience. A major characteristic of Stage Two is what-we-do with the power generated by #1, perception, namely, posit it in the images we embrace; for example, the power inherent in a male=s perception of his own sexuality is commonly projected into the images associated with his arousal.

Thereafter, power required for being response-ably present while being sexual remains locked in the object (image) of his projection. AShe,@ the image, hasChe assumesCthe power which Aturns him on@ and which is needed for his own presence at Stage Four.

The point of conceiving (Stage Three) is primarily decoding of the Stage Two images, thereby releasing the power essential in moving on to #4. We must demythologize to regain what it takes to live well in the present, not because we Ashould,@ but because this is the only way I know to reclaim power required by #4.

When so, this reclaimed power, coupled with that which is previously expended in trying to please or escape the good or bad icons, becomes available for enjoying presence response-ably. Since dreams are our easiest and best connections between images and awareness, they become primary tools for decoding projections, for moving on to conceiving.

In dreams we come to partial consciousness of images in which we have projected the power inherent in perception. We come to Asee@--that is, to touch in awareness, the shapes or forms, the icons, which we have previously used to become partially aware of powers generated in perceiving. My idolatry of the female body, Apretty girls,@for example, including their Smiles indicative of their approval, reflects, I think, a projection of my own unembraced sexual powers.

Early in my life, before I can now remember, I suspect that I began to become aware--that is, to acknowledge my perceptions of sexuality. However, I must have already imaged my basic perceptual powers in Mother=s Smile--that is, already learned to filter what I perceived through the approval of her smile or the disapproval of her frown. When I began to become aware of being sexual, to perceive in consciousness powers being generated by my erections or emerging sexual states, I must have already learned to look to her for confirmation, or at least acceptance/rejection, of my feeling perceptions.

Is this the way all images are formed? Do we simply look around for shapes and forms which are present at the time to imagine as the source of the powers we are perceiving inwardly? However such images may be created or first recognized, I can reasonably imagine now that somehow my own sexuality was projected on to my mother first, and other representational females later, even until now. Instead of recognizing (conceiving)--that is, moving on from perceptions of my sexuality through the stage of imaging to conceiving or further consciousness, I have remained largely idolatrous of my female icons, expending large amounts of energy and time in trying to please them in order to regain, I think, the powers which I have consistently projected at this image stage of my own experience.

I look to them for permission to be sexual, even as I must have looked from earliest life to my mother for permission to be myself--to acknowledge approvingly my experience, to OK it for me, to let me know from Aoutside@ that what I was perceiving from Ainside@ was all right. I think that this must be the nature of all images, to bear the weight of the threatening powers generated by perceiving.

In the presence of both my mother=s own denial of sexuality, as well as the social incest taboo, which may be a part of that same denial, I can easily imagine how my early idolatry of femininity began. Since family sexuality--any acknowledgment of sex, was completely taboo in my family, I can also see how the shift of the projection to females outside the family would be predictable. With my sexuality first discovered, probably, in the presence of my female mother, yet being totally unacknowledged there, it must have been a natural progression to look to other females not burdened with the incest taboo, or the weight of Mother=s Frown, to bear the weight of my own sexual projections.

APretty girls@ were likely candidates for these early shifts from female-mother to female-others. This probably was further supported by genetic male knowledge about best sperm recipients--that is, nonscious knowledge about where genetic replication is most likely to succeed. However it happened, I must have learned early to completely idolize my Mother Image like the Virgin Mother--that is, as the omnipotent source of my projected powers of being myself, and yet as Avirginic@ or non-sexual herself. This would reasonably mean that I had to look to other females, not burdened with either the incest taboo or mother=s assumed virginity as images to contain the strength of my already projected sexual powers.

Although I am imagining this now, being reasonable about my conscious data, what I know experientially is the immense amount of power which I now conceive almost entirely in female images outside myself. I know, logically, in my left brain, about projections, about the unlikelihood that this Aturn on@ power actually resides in my female icons; but I, when I am honest, cannot deny that I do not consciously experience or know-first-hand the extent of these powers apart from some contact, either in reality or in my dreams, with these images. It does truly seem (I note my metaphor seem as a clue to the reality of my images) that they Aturn me on,@ rather than that I Aturn on@ myself. With these images in my awareness, I experience my own sexuality; without them, I am most often out of contact with the wondrous creative powers which I believe to be deeply rooted in primal personal sexuality.

Can I come to decode these dream images? Can I demythologize my sexual icons as I have done with my religious icons? It has taken me a life time to think my way out of gods and demons in religion; can I do the same with these even more primal sexual projections?

I shall see.

 

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FROM CONCEIVING TO MINDING

I am seeing how long ago (I read my first poems yesterday) I saw things I am yet to absorb in myself. The move from Stage Three conceiving to Stage Four minding is greater than I ever realized.

I am also recognizing how tempted I am to play with my conceptsC telling, editing, using them to Ahelp@ others, preaching, etc., rather than daring to absorb them, moving on to #4. Must I stop doing these things to really eat my own words?

I want to learn to experience the same zeal/passion in knowing-what-I-know (#4) as I have learned to enjoy in telling (#3). I get truly involved in using my concepts Afor others;@ can I know the same or greater passion in knowing them for myself?

Perhaps at issue are the enlarged degrees of pleasure, power, and freedom which presence brings. Can I stand containing these greater states of being? Can I hold my tongue, hand, and penis in check, embracing their powers, rather than relieving myself in telling what I know, doing for others, or dissipating sexual tensions in inappropriate sexual activities?

Can I learn to play at all my #3 level activities and reserve my serious attention for #4, rather than getting serious about my concepts and ignoring the larger responsibilities of minding (knowing-for-myself)?

Rather than cold turkey quitting concept-activities, I think I will first explore learning to play with them while shifting my deeper attention to more relevant issues of moving on to #4, learning to be/contain myself instead of Agiving myself away@ in service to others.

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DECIDING AND MINDING

The capacity for deciding for myselfCmaking up my own mind based on personal data rather than being directed by outside forces, such as, What-They-Think, what other persons want me to do, what AGod wants me to do,@ what I Ashould@ do, what habit says do (what I have done before in similar circumstances), what the law says to do, what I was taught or told to do, or simply what I feel like doing, is, I believe, the apex of human evolution so far. Creative decisions, emerging from within oneself, that is, based on ones= genetic or bodily knowledge in combination with personally learned knowledge, must be the latest to evolve of all human capacities. I find that Amaking up my own mind,@ rather than being determined by outside powers, is the most challenging of all the issues I currently face.

The faith necessary to Adecide for myself@ seems to be greater than that required for any other endeavor, including image breaking (moving from Stage Two to Three), or even absorbing my concepts into myself (moving from Three to Four). I therefore speculate that such deciding is at the heart of what it means to become fully human, to truly arrive at Stage Four in any dimension of life.

Arenas for Stage Four existence include both being and doingC that is, existing with contained creativity, being present without saying or doing anything (Ajust being@), and then transforming or expressing such presence in some form of doing. This latter arena in which being is given shape in doing, where one=s self is created in a statement, an act, or a thing, without any loss of itself, can only be entered fully, I now see, through the door of conscious decision. This must be the reason for the massive faith required for Amaking up my own mind.@ It is the way of giving my self shape in the world, visible and therefore subject to outside powers.

When I am simply being present without saying or doing anything which reveals me to another person or subjects me to confronting the impersonal forces of Mother Nature, less faith is required because the risks of an encounter with the world are greatly reduced. But whenever I dare give form/shape to myself, transforming being into doing, then I am exposed both to risks and pleasures which are avoided when I am simply being sans doing. So, since deciding (for myself) is the bridge between being at Stage Four and doing expressive things which open me further to the world, perhaps this is the source of the greater challenges of Amaking up my own mind.@

For my own clarification, I further explore the nature of such creative deciding, which is colloquially referred to as Amaking up your own mind.@ First, I think my best clues to this natural stage of the Creative Process lie in observations of two year olds who are beginning to add speech to action, allowing us adults some access to their Athinking@ which was, before language, hidden to us. I note that two year olds seem to easily decide for themselves, uninfluenced by any of the outside forces to which I have become so vulnerable and dependent on for Amaking up my own mind.@ They apparently Athink for themselves@ with only the slightest bit of attention to Awhat mother (or any other person) thinks.@ They seem to transform their being into doing without any apparent loss of self in the processC and to do so with ease. AMaking up their own minds,@ for example, in Awanting what they want when they want it,@ and trying to Ado (or get) whatever they want@ without regard to outside influences, seems as natural as breathing.

And I theorize that it isC that is, that this highest level of evolution so far, where honest and full being flows easily and naturally into the purest forms of self-expressive doing, where Awhat you see is what you get,@ where Ajust being ourselves@ is the normal thing to do, is but the culmination of all bodily processes, as normal as is breathing to a newly born infant.

The major difference between such a child=s decisions and those of an adult is the additional knowledge available to an adult. With time and experience we learn about costs and consequences, the predictable effects of our doings in the world, such as, Afire burns,@ etc. A child, we might say, is Ainnocent@ in the sense of Anaive@ about certain results of actions taken. He senses or knows something about the potential pleasures in Awhatever he wants,@ but less about other unpleasant or possibly dangerous consequences. An adult, in contrast, may remember the pleasures inherent in Aindulging@ in desires, but is often even more aware of the possibly negative results, for instance, of Ahaving to pay@ for whatever. AInnocence@ is phased into Ainformed@ at best, and Ajaded@ or fearful at worst.

Decisions then, for us who have added experience in the School of Hard Knocks to the naive innocence of childhood, are far more complicated; information, positive and negative, does indeed add to the complexity of simple deciding. AIgnorance,@ we have all been told, or learned for ourselves without adult teaching, Ais bliss@-- or at least much easier than Ahaving to decide@ with an abundance of information about potential results. And Afools@ do obviously Arush in where angels fear to tread.@

So, no doubt the adult situation in regard to decision making is far more complicated than that of a two year old. Small wonder then that we turn to outside sources for Ahelping us make up our minds,@ that we look toward and even become dependent on What They Think, what we Ashould@ do, what the laws tell us, old habits, etc., whenever we are faced with personal decisions. But still the question remains: is the difficulty which I, and I think most other adults, face in the regular events of deciding totally a matter of having advanced knowledge, of Aknowing more@ than children know?

It is also true that we become less flexible, physically and otherwise, in time. Habits, routines acquired for accomplishing regular tasks, both free us for facing more complicated necessities and at the same time provide rewards of comfort. The Afamiliar,@ including all our old habits, does bring its own degree of pleasure, albeit less than the excitement inherent in the unknown. So, increasing rigidity along with small comforts associated with familiarity may add to the tendency of us adults to Aavoid change,@ that is, to avoid making fresh decisions when we can easily avoid deciding at all by simply remaining within established patterns and routines.

But is this all of it? Is the difficulty which I and other adults face in making significant changes which are inherent in continually fresh decisions totally a matter of Atoo much knowledge,@ the increased rigidity of aging, and the comforts (small pleasures) associated with habits? I think not.

Even after assigning full credit to these and other real factors, I think that the more weighty issues lie elsewhere. I do not believe that knowledge is inherently debilitating; in reality, I think that additional information should simply add to the wisdom of decisions. The more we know, the sounder or wiser our decisions should become, at least theoretically. Knowledge itself, I think, is not the culprit in avoiding creative decisions. Reliance on habits, et al, seems more related to dependency, like Acopping out@ on challenges, than to wisdom. Granted the safety inherent in Aknowing it worked before,@ along with the dangers possible in Awhat if....?,@ still an elusive factor seems to be missing.

Back to decreased flexibility for further consideration: AYou can=t teach an ole dog new tricks,@ is another bit of common wisdom; but, past real factors of a slow down in the learning curve (we do seem to learn slower, the older we get), even certain degrees of mental rigidity cannot fully account for this avoidance of creative decisions which I am trying to confront. My resistance to change, to making fresh decisions, must be more than the limitations of Acan=t cut it no more.@

So, then, what is it? What, beyond these noted and obvious factors, makes it Aso hard to change,@ so difficult to make decisions Afor myself@-- out of my own genetic and personal knowledge? I speculate that another commonly ignored factor far outweighs these noted ones, namely, the threat of increased levels of pleasure, excitement, and even ecstasy which may be inherent in making fresh decisions with increased knowledge, even over the fun inherent in making naive moves into the unknown. I think that potential pleasure levels of adults may actually exceed those of children, given our greater degrees of physical and mental capacity. We are limited, I conclude, by our own known levels of tolerance for fun, embraced capacity for expanded excitement without dire consequences, such as, social rejection, losing our breath, sinning, or even dying from Atoo much fun.@

Children, not yet limited thusly, Ajust jump right in,@ disregarding such possible consequences; we adults, appropriately cautious when our knowledge is more informed, are rightly careful; but we ignore, I speculate, our deeper fears of dying.

The bottom line under the difficulty in embracing this apex of human capacities, Adeciding for ourselves,@ is, I conclude, our lack of nerve or faith; all the other factors I have explored are, I think, more like rationalizations or excuses for my own lack of courage. Nothing that I can see so far takes more faith than a creative decision, transforming my being into any form of doing in the world where I find myself. I want to honor the powers of Amuch knowledge,@ to respect the realities of aging, including increased rigidity and decreased learning speed; I want too to enjoy the comforts and benefits of acquired patterns and habits, including the degrees of social acceptance I have found so far; but more than these, I want to stop Amaking excuses,@ to others or myself, for not mustering the courage which creative decisions continually call for.

xxxx

SEX AFTER PERMISSION

I am yet seeing how completely I have kept sex projected on to images of woman, and thus how fully I have looked to woman for permission to be sexual, especially in my awareness. How long does the move from Stage Three to Stage Four take? The gap between seeing (#3) and absorbing (#4) is truly immense for me.

But as I move, I see that primal agendas, pre such projections, are most productive; namely, AMe Tarzan, you Jane@ = male being conscious, ideally, but even if blind, like Clinton, pursuing female without requiring female consciousness (her acknowledging being sexual).

My habit of focusing on female approval-in-consciousness, before becoming Tarzan is inherently flawed. Better, I now see, to be consciously sexual in silent pursuit, respecting woman=s nonsciousness (coy reticence) and not being faked off by it, certainly not dependent on its going away, before diligently being male.

Sex after permission = respecting and remaining attentive to female body-responsesCthat is, her actual, real, physical reactions, rather than her ploys (conscious statements, shy resistances, etc.), yet strongly, carefully seducing anyway. Overall, this means that all sexual initiative, power to move on, is arising and existing within myself, rather than hinging on permission being obvious.

Remaining a gentleman in the process = continually respecting her physical timetable, going fast/slow in accord with her bodily responses, with minimal focus on her conscious expressions, either verbal or physical (like coyly resisting, inviting my readiness).

I have, I now see, overly seduced in the past, and under pursued. I have wrongly expected/sought/been-dependent-on a female=s conscious permissions, and in quest of same have been too overtly seductive and not sexual enough myself. Time now to honor my male inclinations more, to be sexual on my own initiative, to pursue sex reasonably, all the while respecting nonsciousness, remaining a gentleman Tarzan.

xxxx

MOTHER KNOWS BEST

3/27/98 (On way to Saline)

The most difficult thing I find about growing up (down?) is acknowledging my knowledge, knowing what I know, admitting to myself the true nature of my own experience, in the presence of powerful social forces which commonly contradict personal knowledge; that is, being honest about genes in the presence of powerful memes, daring to see what I do see rather than what they see (or let on to me) that they see; to be (remain) natural and learn to act social, rather than trying to be social and act natural.

This most difficult move in society is but the most normal, the easiest of all personal moves. Nothing, past biological reflexes, such as, breathing, eating, and defecating, is more natural, normal, and easier than seeing what you see. In hindsight it may be called Atrusting yourself,@ or trusting in your own experience (perceptions), but at first there is no Atrust@ involved; we simply do so as naturally as we breathe.

The actual power of memes, like memes themselves, is difficult to see after we come to trust them, to believe that Mother Knows Best, rather than believing what we see/hear/sense ourselves.

Past reflexive instincts to liveCto breath, etc., nothing is more natural, indeed is a crucial part of primal instincts, than sensing our surroundings, as an essential aspect of staying alive, especially of enhancing living.

Specific arenas of difficult seeing for me to maintain in the presence of powerful memes commonly contrary include:

Overall: To acknowledge the power of any seeing which is not socially sanctioned, first by mother, then by others; that is, to see and know full well that I see, anything not confirmed by significant others, especially when they deny such seeing.

Perhaps the greatest faith is required for honestly seeing and acknowledging the power inherent therein, that which is either not seen or denied by those around us.

How paradoxical that the easiest and most natural of all human capacities which have degrees of choice involved, in contrast, e.g., with breathing, should turn out to require the most faith in society.

xxxx

BEING THINKING

TELLING

Telling is dangerous
because it tempts one to look for himself
in the eyes of the hearer
rather than in the minding of the thinker
Writing is less dangerous immediately
since the eyes of another are absent
but more so in the long run
because the eyes of posterity
not to mention relatives
are always in the wings of mind
=s eye
easily seducing one away
from becoming my knowing

I am seeing more clearly the difference between Stage 3, conceiving, and 4, minding or being. At 3, I have thoughts as possessions, indicative of the separation, the division which yet remains. At Stage 4, this gap is bridged; I literally become my thinking.

To be thinking, vs. having thoughts, means that my knowing (no Amy@ literally) is activated, brought into practice, made lively, rather than existing only as notions Ain my head,@ subject to hiding or telling. I could say that such knowing is Ausing what I know,@ except that using still implies possession of a tool, in this case, a mental tool.

The truth element is that using thinking is descriptive, only not literal. It does appear that I am using notions when I am being thinking; but it would be equally accurate to say I am Abeing used by@ notions. The point: one who is being thinking simply activates/expresses thinking, just like breathing. As one breaths and is breathing, so one at Stage 4 thinks and is thinking.

When I am at Stage 4, minding, or being thinking, Amy@ thinking is who I am. I do not have Ait@ (my thoughts); I am Ait.@ It is I.

As such, I may or may not tell or write my knowing, depending on pragmatics; but I never Ahave to tell,@ or even, Aneed to tell.@ For instance, I need not look for understanding, for some one else to Asee what I see@ as a support or confirmation of my seeing. By my own faith I affirm my knowing.

Nor do I Aneed to explain myself,@ which is but a form of seeking understanding. If someone sees what I see, no explanation is called for. Pointing is enough. If they don=t, my attempts to explain may tempt them to go beyond their own seeing, thus endangering themselves; or it may tempt me to evade responsibility for what I see, for standing-under-silently, by taking the easier path of trying Ato make them see.@

There is no self-righteousness in being thinking; this is selfing, not ego stuff. There is self-rightingC that is, a strong, confident sense of right-for-me, of Athis makes sense to me,@ of Athis is my best, sharpest insight to date,@ but none of the self-righteousness which might lead to godliness of thinking it is Aright for everyone,@ or any other one.

Being thinking results in self-confidence without self-righteousness. Right-to-me is not the same as ego-pride in one=s possessed notions. It emerges from a careful process of weighing all available data, adding it up sharply and sensibly, Abeing reasonable@ with all that one knows. When this happens one feels confident in knowing, but has no Amissionary zeal@ for Aspreading the gospel@ because he/she knows also that the knowing is entirely his/her own and may not be applicable to any other person.

 

xxxx

PLEASURE AND GAIA

If a small boy is sensitive, all pleasure is likely to first be imaged in mother, who indeed must seem to be its total source. Unless we eventually move on to decode these images, moving from Stage 2 to 3 and 4, we will predictably remain under Gaia=s power for the rest of our lives.

Early pleasures begin with sucking and the satisfaction of milk, obviously to be imaged in mother=s breast. The pleasure inherent in comfort, learned from being held in the womb, is soon found again in mother=s arms, plus cuddling at her breasts. The good feeling which comes in being relieved of fear, of returning to the satisfaction of security and comfort, is likewise to be found in mother=s presence, plus her taking us again into her arms and holding us close to her breasts.

Then, as tactile pleasure capacity increases, mother becomes the principal source of touching, of stimulating bodily pleasure. Given her role in Acleaning@ usC bathing, washing genitals and anus, she also becomes the natural image for bodily touch pleasure, plus its heightened forms of genital stroking, evoking erectile pleasures, and anus Acleaning,@ evoking primal Aass hole@ pleasures.

Other pleasures associated with the sensesC smelling, hearing, touching, are also likely to be more focused in the female representative of Gaia than with any other source. We smell her odors, hear her voice and cooing, reach out to touch her breasts and body, and generally experience our first sensual pleasures in association with her body.

Holistic pleasures, later to be named with words like Alove,@ Aattraction,@ Adesire,@ etc., are also first experienced with mother.

All this is true for little girls as well as little boys; boys however, have the additional genetic attractions which gear us toward females (gene eyes) for sexual purposes.

xxxx

MALE IMAGES

ICONS

On a man=s perilous journey
back to Heaven Here
confronting, decoding, and eating
the images of Santa Claus, God,
Woman, and Cunt
must remain the most awesome

Common male images may be grouped in four major categories: Santa Claus, God, Woman, and Cunt.

1) Santa Claus. First there are those secular images which perhaps begin with the Jolly Saint at Christmas, along with Ghosts in the dark or under the bed, but are soon expanded to include the Tooth Fairy, the Knight in Shining Armor, plus a host of other fairy tale creatures, good and bad, populating The Enchanted Forest of our common childhoods. Soon these graphic secular icons, easy to see and pursue or avoid, are phased into less tangibly perceived images, such as: Success, Fame, and Winning.

2) God. Then come those deeper Aspiritual@ images, centered around various gods and devils, along with complicated doctrines and beliefs which surround their actions in the many varieties of traditional sacred-seeming religions. Since Areligious@ icons are commonly seen as Amore sacred@ than Amere@ secular images, males who acquire religious Abeliefs@ are usually even more devoted to their dogmas than they are to other Aless religious@ sources of projected powers.

3) Woman. Past both secular and religious images, males tend to worship (always unwittingly) at the gendered thrones of Woman, beginning with Omnipotent/Omniscient/Everlasting Mother, long after small freedoms are gained from the adoration of secular goals and sacred gods. The image of All-Powerful Woman is commonly cloaked from awareness in males with attitudes and actions of denigration, Aput-downs,@ and oscillating swings between adoration and abuse. ARomance@ (falling in love, etc.) is another socially acceptable cover for the deeper idolatries of blindly worshiping Woman.

If ever de-coded, this third category of male images includes such elements as: all the human capacities associated with, but not contained in, feminine genderC such as, sensitivity, emotionality, carefulness, self-attention, and beauty. This part of male projection may be generalized as our Amissing half@ which we popularly seek to recapture in romantic endeavors with females, as though we could become whole ourselves by capturing a mirror to reflect our Amissing half.@ It also includes those magical qualities first experienced with MotherC e.g., the capacity to feed, comfort, heal, make secure, happy, and bring seemingly unqualified love, at least for a brief remembered time in infantile Camelot, represented by Mother=s Smile (arms, kisses, attention, understanding, etc.).

4) Cunt. Most primally and deepest of the powerful Amemories@ C in our male Abones,@ if not conscious minds, is the wonder of woman=s womb, which I symbolize here with the powerful, obscene term: cunt. Cunt images include those unsymbolized AHoly Grail@ type quests for womb-time conditions which can never be duplicated after we are born. Somehow, as irrational as it often seems to our fragile conscious minds, we males must absorb into the deepest roots of our masculine selves, long before birth, some bodily knowledge which can only be recognized as Apre-natal memories.@ However it occurs, males seem to universally hold some powerful spark of something best categorized as Amemory@ and irrationally pictured as a possible return-to-the-womb, at least to living conditions best metaphored as womb-like.

In the womb, Ain utero,@ while the umbilical cord is yet attached, all life needsCoxygen and nutrients, are supplied, Agiven to us.@ Though bounded finally, we are, so far as we must know, more freed from external dangers and restraints (including the laws of gravity) than we will ever be again. As an outsider who saw and spoke might say, while yet in the womb we are both Atotally irresponsible@ and also held by Aunqualified love.@ AHeaven,@ he might say if religious, Ais there.@

The seeming magic of Mother (to feed, comfort, and love)-- after we are born, is more recognizable, yet is a power which pales in comparison to this dark force appearing before birth and somehow continuing long afterward. I choose the crude, un-socially-acceptable word cunt to represent this fourth category, because I know of no other name capable of evoking such a deep sense of dark powers. Its associations transcend polite language and point toward the profound forces imaged in this metaphor.

Cunt images represent powers even more primal than the magic of post-birth Mothers, and certainly of the romantic powers of later female replacements of her. The pre-birth womb, where individuality (life itself) is being formed, is more about spirit and self than about physical magic. These cunt forces are existentialC that is, about being-itself, about who-we-are rather than merely about things which Amay happen@ and are hence subject to Mother=s Magic (kisses, touch, love).

In Nicodemus=s question, Can a man enter his mother=s womb and be born again?, this universal male quest for the awesome powers known first and only in the womb must be historically phrased. In every man=s quest for rebirth, for movement in the natural Creative Process from Stage Two on toward Stage Four, cunt images are the most power-filled I am yet to know.

xxxx

AWARENESS

I am amazed at the enormity of the gap between human awareness, conscious thinking, and the actual powers which move us to action and reaction. On the one hand we vastly over-estimate (or at least I consistently do!) the powers of human choice--that which we have any conscious control over, that which "we" (as identified with consciousness) have anything to do with; on the other hand, we (again, I!) regularly ignore the enormous powers of completely nonscious forces which are always operative in what I do (and don't). Most of the time I live-as-though my conscious Awilling@ is all that I am. Whenever I am confronted with the obvious fact that this is primarily an illusion--as is so often the case--I usually kick and scream in denial, at least for a time, trying desperately to figure out "what I did wrong," or, how "I could improve the situation."

It seems that self-flagellation and blame, often projected, are preferable to the awesomeness of truly recognizing how little I actually control in the arenas of my world. Some-crazy-how, blaming, either myself or the other person, even with the intense spiritual pain and relational disruptions it inevitably brings, seems easier than facing and accepting the actual limitations of my assumed omnipotence.

It appears that I will do almost anything, go to any length, suffer any amount of spiritual agony, to avoid walking upright into the presence of the awesome mystery of living where I am so out of control of so much that happens. I just read that Freud was also amazed at the extreme gap between consciousness and erotic inclinations. So what else is new?

From this confession I realize that more wisely I will recognize the above noted facts and remain open to the obvious--whenever I dare to look--ever-present unknowns which always seem to underlie and surround the fragile dimension of human powers to will in the context of the far vaster powers which dictate beyond the very best of my conscious intentions.

As though I hadn't already been told about the road paved with them!

When heaven is here, the "holy ground" seems to always lie within the sphere of my willingness to stand-in-awe--that is, to honor what I see (my conscious awareness), but to care-fully refuse to slip completely into this very limited dimension, always remaining in continual touch with the vaster realm of powers which are completely beyond the fullest extent of all my best awarenesses, summarized with the name "unconscious" but including the ingrained (engened) powers of eons of evolution--that is, of God's continual process of creating anew, even in me.

Whenever I stray from this "holy ground" where I am never more than a step away from surprise at least and awe at most, I obviously lose sight of God and fall into a hell of my own making. Not liking this, in spite of its great familiarity, I shall try to muster the faith to more often remember what I sometimes know and carefully avoid my regular temptation to conscious omniscience.

xxxx

PRESENCE AND SEEING

I am recognizing the difference between seeing as an aspect of presence and the use of seeing as a means of trying to acquire something from others--as in telling what I see, preaching what others "should" see, trying to help others with what I see, to get understanding from others of what I see, etc. Seeing, I now see, is self-affirming; my previous error has lain in shifting from the faith required for this inherent affirmation, to various efforts to secure affirmation from others for what I see.

I have often passed my sight through the filter of the eyes of others before honestly acknowledging it as my own. "Mother's Smile," projected into the eyes of countless others, especially other women, has been the filter through which I passed my own seeing before I could accept it as real. My extended quest for outside Aunderstanding@ (from others) has been, I now see, but one more version of this ancient pattern. If "she" understands, then what I see is permitted to be seen and becomes acceptable to be acknowledged; if not, if she either doesn't understand, or especially if she disagrees, then throughout my life until now, my own sight has been censured, curtailed, or even denied.

It certainly takes more nerve to delight in the light of my own sight--insight as well as "out-sight," than does the effort to elicit the various versions of "Mother's Smile" in the eyes of others. Showing or telling what I see, trying to get others to understand or be helped by what I see, remains, even with the massive efforts these endeavors sometimes require, easier than risking the excitement inherent in the event of seeing itself. All too easily I shift from this natural delight to my various ways of projecting my sight externally into something to be used in my secret attempt to elicit the smile which confirms my right to see.

I also see how I use preserving what I see, either in photographs, poems, writings, etc., to evade the excitement inherent in continually seeing more. Just as, "Hey, look what I see," easily short-circuits the ongoing process of further seeing, so stopping to Atake@ pictures, write down, or otherwise "preserve" my sights, comfortably diverts me from the risks of continual looking, especially of going further into what was initially exciting to my sense of vision.

I aspire to shift from the use of preserving, telling, explaining what I see, to the fuller experiencing of sight itself, plus the use of these activities--showing and telling, etc.--for further enhancing seeing itself. That is, I want to let the various forms into which I fit my seeing become ways of enjoying it further, rather than being escapes or delays from the event itself.

I do believe that I have a gift for expansive sight, for seeing both the "big picture"--the proverbial "forest," as well as intimate relationships in the "small picture"--the "trees." Perhaps this only seems like a difference between me and the average because others, like me, have learned to obscure or deny their vision also; whichever, I now want to move further into the events of my own sight, into expansions of the pleasure which I experience in acknowledging what I see, whether or not others give affirmation. I want to go beyond the parameters and filter of "Mother's Smile" in all its manifold cloaks, and to muster the faith necessary for experiencing the presence of God, here and now, as revealed through the wonder-filled sense of seeing.

xxxx

DOING IT VERSUS BEING IT

It, of course, commonly stands for sexC Ahaving sex,@ intercourse, or Afucking.@ Here I take this familiar euphemism to represent not only its deepest unspoken meaning, but also all other forms of human activity, all other Adoing.@ Such doing, as I mean here, includes both verbal and tangible formsC words, deeds, and objects, such as, talk (conversation), activities like Ahaving sex@ or playing games, and thingsCpaintings, sculptures, or other formed objects.

First I want to distinguish between doing and being, whatever it may represent, so as to further clarify the nature of minding, Stage Four of the Creative Process. Doing represents the forms which being may take. Commonly and naturally, being is shaped (formed, expressed) in doing of some type; then the two are synonymousC being and doing are the same. AWhat you see is what you get.@ But, as everyone intuitively knows, they are not always the same. There can be being without any doing, and there is doing which is Aphoney@-- that is, which is not expressive of being. We can, for example, Asay what we mean and mean what we say.@ Then our doing and our being or the same; but often we say things we do not mean and do not mean what we sayC that is, we speak deceptively; our doing (in this case, speaking) does not represent our being (our hidden meaning). It conceals rather than reveals our being.

The point: in humans, doing may or may not be the same as being. We can do one thing and be another. We can be without doing, or do without being what we do. This ability to separate the two may in fact be the true genius of human Abeings@ over other animals and living forms. The relevant issue here, however, is simply the fact that the two, in humans, are not necessarily the same.

What is the relevance of this distinction in the Creative Process? What does the fact that we can do it without being it, or be it, without doing anythingC for example,Ahave sex@ without truly Abeing with it,@ or be deeply sexual and chaste or Avirginic@ at the same time, have to do with existing at Stage Four of the Creative Process?

Answer: When we are truly present, existing at Stage Four, being and doing are synonymous. It, whatever it may be (talking, fucking, or painting), and I (who-I-be) are the same. My doing is an honest expression of my being at the time. My deedsC whether they be words, activities, or objects made, are accurate shapings of who-I-am just then. What you hear or see is Awhat you get.@

Even a chosen deception is honestly who-we-are when we exist at Stage Four; that is, deceiving becomes a chosen act which is truly expressive of our presence when we are minding. We consciously Amean to deceive,@ and consequently such deceptions (doings) are expressive of our being at the time. More about deception later; for now my main point is to distinguish between the various its (e.g., talking, fucking, or making things) and beingC that is, between Adoing it@ and being it.

I will take sexual intercourse, the most common, I think, euphemism which it represents, to stand for all the other more familiar and socially acceptable forms of it (words, non-sexual deeds, and shaped objects). Doing it, as already noted, and being it (sexual) are not necessarily the same. We can do it, that is, Ahave sex,@ do the sex Aact,@ without truly being consciously sexual; or we can be Aturned on@ and appear to be sexually Ainnocent,@ that is, not at all sexual at the time. Perhaps on the deepest levels of being the two can never be totally separated, at least for males who must at least be biologically involved in order to have an erection which enables us to Ahave sex.@ Females, on the other hand, can be raped, that is, be physically present in a sex act when they Athemselves@ are completely Aout of it,@ not being present at all.

But both for males and females, certainly in dimensions of awareness, we can do it Awithout thinking,@ or be it Athinkingly@ without doing Ait,@ without Aletting on@ to being sexual at the time. We can engage in the act without Abeing there,@ and we can, potentially, be very sexual and not do or even reveal any degree of sexuality.

With these distinctions in mind, I turn now to my observations about the general relationship between doing and being Ait@-- whatever it may be. First, and most relevant of all, I think that most doing, most of the its which we Aact out,@ most of the things we do, even when they are deeply and unconsciously rooted in being, are more like evasions or escapes from being than expressions of being. We Aact out,@ including overt sexual behavior, for example, to evade the larger challenges of being that which we appear to be Asaying.@ It is easier to do sexy things (or any other Athings@) than to truly be sexual. Doing it is less challenging than being Ait.@ Becoming consciously sexual, as is essential in Stage Four of the Creative Process, is more demandingC and fulfilling, than is any type or quantity of mere sexy behavior, including wild fucking, even repeatedly.

And so with other more socially acceptable forms of doing. Most writing, painting, and sculpting, to take examples of commonly recognized Acreative acts,@ are, I think, attempts to evade the fuller challenges of being that which seems to be expressed in the forms themselves. Perhaps initially, and in the awareness of most such Acreative persons,@ the acts (books, canvasses, or sculptures-- the forms of their creativity) are taken to be truly expressive of themselves, that is, that their Adoings@ are believed to be the same as their being. Certainly this has been true for me. I have Asincerely believed@ that my creative formsC my writing, preaching, counseling, as well as my photography, carpentry, and fucking, have been truly expressive of myself. I have not seen in myself, except in hindsight, what I am here saying in general about other Acreative persons.@ I have always thought at the time that my doing and my being, my self and my various arts, were synonymous. I have been, in general, consciously Asincere.@

Only now, at 67, am I becoming more aware of the devious and deceptive-to-myself ways I have used my Acreative acts@ to evade the larger demands of truly being creativeC that is, of existing at Stage Four of the Creative Process. I now think about myself, and therefore dare to generalize about others (while knowing full well that I only speculate, and perhaps only project my own experience on to them), that even my seemingly most creative acts have also been evasions of existence at Stage Four.

Even though I, and I therefore surmise others, have dared to give outward form and shape to the images (Stage Two) which moved us, indeed have sometimes acted with extreme courage in daring to express in words or forms those elements of human capacity which are considered obscene in society and religion, still we have remained pawns to our muses. Our doings have shaped our images, but not ourselves. We have found relief from the projected powers we unwittingly gave to our images through our apparently Acreative acts,@ but we have, even with relief, remained under the fuller sway of their forces.

Perhaps our created forms (in my case, my theology, preaching, and counseling) have been a significant phase of decoding the power of our images into expressible concepts (Stage Three), but still they have often lacked the fullness of becoming true expressions of being. Our doings have appeared Acreative@ (as though we were truly at Stage Four), that is, as forms of our being; yet they have lacked both the personal power and pleasure which are inherent in truly creative expressions (those in which doing and being are literally synonymous).

I, and others like me, have, still dictated by our icons, Aacted out@ their directives; but we have been, as it were, compulsive, or Aonly following orders.@ We have yet lacked the fuller freedoms of conscious creativity, minding, which only come at Stage Four. I place Aacted@ in italics to indicate that the term remains literal rather than merely a grammatical form. We, at least I, have literally been Aacting@ as contrasted with, and thus in distinction from, being. We have been doing it without fully being Ait.@ To others we may have appeared as truly creative, as though we were existing at Stage Four; yet for ourselves, me certainly, I have till now largely remained an actor rather than a Abe-er.@

One of the characteristics of Stage Four existence, in contrast with previous stages, is freedom. Earlier we may Aact out@ freedom, that is, rebel against prevailing structures or Apowers-that-be,@ and thus appear to be free. But not necessarily so. The various rebellions which take place in Aacting out@ images (when Athe devil made me do it,@ or, AGod told me to do it@), are as dictated as are the obediences which preceded them; only now in reverse. Instead of Ayou=re making me...,@ then it becomes, Abetcha can=t make me (or stop me);@ but in both cases, even though the actions appear to be opposites, they are characterized by external powers. The images are still the forces which determine the actions, even though they are in compliance or rebellion.

But at Stage Four, when consciousness enters the process, true freedom, not merely rebellion or reverse dictation by yet empowered images, prevails. At this latter stage of the Creative Process, icons have been truly decoded (Stage Three is completed); the projected powers have been re-accepted, and one is thereby freed to choose any available form of expression, including none at all. Just as one is no longer Aacting out@ (not acting at all, but being), so one is free to choose appropriate forms of expression, or to, when feasible, be equally creative in forms of deception.

When one is being creative (existing at Stage Four) rather than merely Aacting out@ while still under the power of images (icons, gods, muses, etc.), as at Stages Two and Three, all doing is both expressive of being (indeed, is synonymous with) and also freely chosen. Being creative, one can with equal ease, either do or not-doC that is, give expression or form to being or contain the powers and pleasures completely within oneself, appearing to do-nothing, including to not-be the way one actually is.

One can, for examples, be consciously angry or sexual, and yet not-do anything, including reveal the states themselves. One can choose, when feasible, to give voice to anger or passion, to say, AI hate you,@ or, AI love you,@ or to smile and say nothing. When one is at Stage Four, when these freedoms of expression or containment are equally available, choices can be made reasonably and responsibly, based on the fullness of all prior and present data. At earlier stages, such choices are severely limited; powers yet remain within the images, rather than having been withdrawn back into oneself.

To summarize: My first major observation (and confession) is to note that not all apparently creative activities and objects are truly indicative of one at Stage Four of the Creative Process; indeed, that most such novel forms are not. I, and I therefore assume others, have often Amade things@ or Aacted out@ in ways seen as creative by others, but which have largely been done while we were still under the power of images yet to be fully decoded, let alone embraced. We have seemed to Acreate@ while we were more literally Astill taking orders@ from our un-decoded images.

To our credit, we have dared to move on the edges, or even beyond current social lines; but to our debit, our very Acreative expressions@ have often been (for ourselves, if not for others) but clever escapes from the faith required to move on to Stage Four, where personal freedom and choice of forms first become possible. We may have pleased, or even helped, others. We may also have found degrees of temporary relief from abusive images (gods or demons) which have driven us; but in the long run we may have dis-serviced ourselves, delaying a possible return to the ever-present kingdom of wonder which we left long ago when we bogged down in the natural Creative ProcessCthat is, when we first began to Ado it@ without being it.

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SEXUAL IMAGES

I think that sexual images, e.g., pornography, serve as expressions or representations of the power of sexual experience not yet clearly brought into consciousness, that is, not yet moved to Stage Three, conceiving. I need/use pornography to give graphic images for sexual forces I perceive (Stage One) from within, when I am not yet able to bring these powers more fully into consciousness as expressions of myself.

The problem with being sexually conscious, for example, in decoding pornography or owning sexual powers commonly projected on to Apretty girls,@ is compounded by social conditions which make little room for natural expression. Not only is the subject judged evil in its first most natural forms, e.g., in Aplaying with oneself,@ but all the available words are also judged as bad.

Masturbation, for example, is perhaps the earliest and most natural expression of human sexuality. APlaying with yourself@ feels good, in fact, better than most other events past eating and defecating. But this natural expression of sexual delighting, which must be as normal as breathing and eating, is allowed no space in social consciousness. There is no place a child can give voice to these natural delights, no one to hear, where the perceptions are easily moved through images to conceptions.

First, the name masturbation is difficult to say; older names, self-abuse and self-pollution, imply social judgments as well as supposed dangers inherent in Aplaying with yourself.@ It has commonly been said that the practice will Amake you go blind.@ All in all, lack of proper language combined with the social opinions about dangers, not to mention judgments and punishments predictable if one is Acaught@ (note the implied evil) playing with oneself, results in almost total social rejection of this natural personal inclination.

There is a joke about a mother who comes in the bathroom to discover her son masturbating and quickly closes the door saying, AOh, I thought you were through.@ Though told as an example of quick thinking, it is a joke, I think, because we can hardly imagine it ever occurring in reality. What mother could appear so accepting of a son=s sexuality?

The point here is only to note that acceptable images for the powerful, natural, emerging of human sexuality into consciousness are limited or absent, and when present, are infused with social judgments. If we are honest in acknowledging the presence and power of being sexual, as in the fun of touching ourselves, we are immediately confronted with the challenges of imaging these powerful pleasures. What is honestly perceived (Step One) as the height of self affirmation, a fuller being of oneself, is labeled out there as self abuse. In other words, available language requires personal dishonesty, if believed, in acknowledging one=s perceptions.

What is experienced as a Wow! must be voiced as an AUgh.@ Or worse. And then kept secret from significant others.

Since my perceptions of my own sexuality, as in the pleasures of self-stimulation, have been so difficult to express in the Agood boy@ territories available to me, I can see how easily I slipped into a near total projection on to images of femininityCparticularly pornography which seems so openly to allow sexuality, as an available avenue of getting real experiences into some degree of consciousness. Lacking personal concepts which were socially acceptable, or within the confines of my own accepted sense of Agood,@ I predictably (I can now see) projected these powers on to Apretty girls@ who do seem to be the most likely candidates for Acausing@ what I at least academically recognize as but my own manhood.

My Aturn-on@ capacity is largely inherent in my genetic makeup, I now think; but I have for so long denied/evaded these male powers in affirmation of myself that they have remained largely locked in the female images where I have, perhaps smartly in times past, almost completely projected them.

Can I now begin to stop my judgments, to acknowledge and own the extent and nature of my own inherent sexuality, to create conceptsCmental boxesCcapable of holding these powers in awareness without the necessity of female images to contain them? I=ll see.....

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DREAMS AND IMAGING

Stage Two is evidenced in the images of night dreams and imaginations of daytime. At night, the figures of dreams are but the shapes of perceptions of human encounters (Stage One perceiving), paralleled by the same process as pure sense perceptions of color, heat, etc.

With un-judged subjects which are socially allowed, we may image less emotionally and more directly; but with real perceptions, as in powerful human encounters which are denied social recognition and hence names, we must image more creativelyC that is, create honest images representational of the real powers experienced in our perceptions.

ANightmares@ are but the Asteeds@ reflecting powers experienced in real encounters during the day which are yet to be conceived (Stage Three). Ideally, we move to #3, seeing the powers dimly perceived and represented in the images, e.g., seeing sexual desires or spiritual abuses, rather than coping by not-seeing.

In practice, this involves becoming conscious of dreams, letting the power of images become clear and conscious rather than freezing them as symbols. Dream images don=t so much Astand for@ something else as much as they give shape/form to actual experience. They are not Atrying to tell us something@ as much as they are Aourselves telling.@

They are exactly like Wows! and Ughs!, guttural expressions of sensual experience, only here the experiences they express are deeper/fuller, more spiritual. AWow!@ is not Atrying to tell us something,@ but is Aourself telling.@

So with dreams. At issue is: dare we stand hearing ourselves more honestly?!

In dreams we come to partial consciousness of the images in which we project the power inherent in perception. We come to Asee@--that is, to touch in awareness, the shapes or forms, the icons, which we have previously used to become partially aware of powers generated in perceiving. My idolatry of the female body, Apretty girls,@ including their smiles indicative of approval, for example, reflects, I think, a projection of my own unembraced sexual powers.

Early in my life, before I can now remember, I suspect that I began to become aware--that is, to acknowledge my perceptions of my sexuality. However, I must have already imaged my basic perceptual powers in Mother=s Smile--that is, already learned to filter what I perceived through the approval of her smile or the disapproval of her frown. When I began to become aware of being sexual, to perceive in consciousness the powers being generated by my erections or emerging sexual states, I must have already learned to look to her for confirmation, or at least acceptance/rejection, of my feeling perceptions.

Is this the way all images are formed? Do we simply look for shapes and forms which are present at the time to imagine as the source of powers we are perceiving inwardly? However such images may be created or first recognized, I can reasonably imagine now that somehow my own sexuality was projected on to my mother first, and other representational females later, even until now. Instead of recognizing (conceiving)--that is, moving on from my perceptions of sexuality through the stage of imaging to conceiving or further consciousness, I have remained largely idolatrous of my female icons, expending large amounts of energy and time in trying to please them in order to regain, I think, powers which I have consistently projected at this image stage of my own experience.

I look to them for permission to be sexual, even as I must have looked from earliest life to my mother for permission to be myselfCto acknowledge approvingly my experience, to OK it for me, to let me know from Aoutside@ that what I was perceiving from Ainside@ was all right. I think that this must be the nature of all images, to bear the weight of the threatening powers generated by perceiving.

In the presence of both my mother=s own denial of sexuality, as well as the social incest taboo, which may be a part of that same denial, I can easily imagine how my early idolatry of femininity began. Since family sexuality--any acknowledgment of sex, was completely taboo, I can also see how the shift of the projection to females outside the family would be predictable. With my sexuality first discovered, probably, in the presence of my female mother, yet being totally unacknowledged there, it must have been a natural progression to look to other females not burdened with the incest taboo, or the weight of Mother=s Frown, to bear the weight of my sexual projections.

APretty girls@ were likely candidates for these early shifts from female-mother to female-others. This was probably further supported by genetic male knowledge about best sperm recipientsCthat is, nonscious knowledge about where genetic replication is most likely to succeed. However it happened, I must have learned early to completely idolize my Mother Image like the Virgin MotherCthat is, as the omnipotent source of my projected powers of being myself, and yet as Avirginic@ or non-sexual herself. This would reasonably mean that I had to look to other females, not burdened with either the incest taboo or mother=s apparent virginity as images to contain the power of my already projected sexual powers.

Although I am imagining this now, being reasonable about my conscious data, what I know experientially is the immense amount of power which I now conceive almost entirely in female images outside myself. I know, logically, in my left brain, about projections, about the unlikelihood that this Aturn on@ power actually resides in my female icons; but I, when I am honest, cannot deny that I do not consciously experience or know-first-hand the extent of these powers apart from some contact, either in reality or in my dreams, with these images. It does truly seem (I note my metaphor seem as a clue to the reality of my images) that they Aturn me on,@ rather than that I Aturn on@ myself. With these images in my awareness, I experience my own sexuality; without them, I am most often out of contact with the wondrous creative powers which I believe to be deeply rooted in primal personal sexuality.

Can I come to decode these dream images? Can I demythologize my sexual icons as I have done with my religious icons? It has taken me a life time to think my way out of gods and demons in religion; can I do the same with these even more primal sexual projections?

I shall see.

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BREAKING IMAGES

HONESTY

If you=re dishonest with yourself
honesty with others is easy and needed
(some honesty is better than none)
But the more honest with yourself you become
the more dishonest with others you
=ll need to be
for survival
if not love
A little honesty with others or self
will go a long way
further, in fact, than most relationships
not to mention self images
can bear
without breaking

******

IMAGES

Demythologizing begins in the mind=s eye
and all too often ends there, leaving one
intellectual but impotent
Only when we dare the move
from eye to guts, and then to bones,
when we eat our information,
swallow our pride,
and become what we see
does iconoclasm bear fruit

I am realizing how I much I have used iconoclasm and Arunning away from home@ to cope with the powers of Gaia. Rather than facing Her, which I am only now beginning to more honestly do, I fought Her Awith heel dust,@ (running away in mind as well as body), and dealt with her remnant memories by image-breaking, Athinking my way through@ Her icon, decoding Her in order to try to dissolve Her power with intellectual analysis.

I succeeded quite well in my mind=s eye. And by keeping mental distance from the powers I sought to manage, I unwittingly kept the icon intact in reality, if not in my awareness. My blind worship continued, except without my seeing it. Consistently and regularly I kept on at my early learned habits of adoration, ball-offering, Abeing good@ (I made two professions out of the latter), and compulsively trying to please.

Though I distanced myself from mother, Gaia=s first and most obvious representative, I could not, in my blindness, avoid resurrecting her image in other females. Or was it genetic knowledge that kept me attracted to Her virgin priestesses, deeply, if not consciously, knowing that the pilgrimage to myself was far from over? Whichever it was, cowardice or wisdom, I can now see how powerful, alive and well, Gaia has remained for me, even though I broke Her mantle image, escaped her first priestess, and blindly fell in love with her embodied if not named representatives.

I have, in effect, kept my mother=s image intact via distance, and fallen in love with various of Gaia=s other elements via blindnessC all this while keeping Her safely installed on thrones I could no longer see, yet before which I religiously continued to bow, offer my balls, and faithfully extend my services.

Increasing self-honesty, or is it but the inevitably result of aging?, has revealed her shadows more and more often. I have dared, in effect, to peep through the keyhole of my iconoclasm, looking while protected at some of Her glories, and to occasionally go skinny dipping myself, while alone or in protected circumstances, of course. These brief ventures into greater honesty, whatever their genesis, whether by nerve or age, have brought me into obvious conflict both with my projected illusions of the actual powers of her priestesses (my Alovers@) and with the pragmatic impossibilities of real honesty in the presence of loving relationshipsC with, to put it bluntly, the real virtues of deception in contrast with my learned virtues of Ahonesty@ (with others rather than self).

If I am to continue my venture into self-becoming, which I intend to, but which obviously requires the processes of both increased consciousness and self-honesty (or are they the same?), then I can no longer maintain my old illusions of Asomeone to love me as I am,@ especially of finding someone to Aunderstand me@ so I can avoid the full light of standing-under with myself, or my old ideals of Atotal honesty@ with other persons (even a single person). Reality, I have long resisted seeing, does not yet seem ready to bear the demands of agape, either in any persons I have yet known, or certainly in myself and relationships I have made.

The ideal of going naked with God (Goddesses?) in this Eden on earth still seems valid; but the pragmatics of not only fig leaves, but also clothes if not suits of armor, appears more immediately necessary in our obvious existence here and there outside of Paradise.

xxxx

IMAGES OF WOMAN

I see more clearly now differences between male images of Woman and Cunt. Earlier I confused many of the deeper projections into Cunt with the shallower images of Woman, while missing the more profound images of womb. Here is what I am now beginning to see:

3) Woman. This third most common male image includes two major elements: Woman as pussy, and woman as missing-half. APussy@ is colloquial male language for sex. It includes both the real genetic knowledge of femininity ingrained in male genes, plus the projected power to exist as a sexual person. This second part is the critical element in male projections on to woman. The first is real; the second is fantasy. Pussy stands for woman=s Aturn-on@ capacities which are beyond those embedded in Agene eyes.@ Pussy is permission to be consciously and overtly sexual in the presence of femininity. While social structures do indeed place major responsibilities for sexual powers on women, this third projection goes past the familiar social situation; it is deeper than the arenas of law and relational responsibility.

The second part of this powerful male image is about major human elements which we males commonly deny within ourselves and project on to women, namely, our missing-halves. This is the arena of romance and so-called Alove,@ the kind we Afall into.@ It is recognized in the magical qualities which males typically Asee@ in women, well past their actual capacities. These are images of woman=s capacity to Afulfill us,@ to Amake us whole.@ These are represented in such familiar male confessions as: AI just can=t get along without her.@ AWomen, you can=t live with them and you can=t live without them!@ ASomehow when I am with you I just feel like a whole person.@

4) Cunt. This fourth male image begins with elements of woman, but is rooted in projections which are much deeper in the fabric of masculine personhood. If woman is pussy, cunt is wombC that is, pussy may be related to vagina, entrance to womb, but cunt goes even deeper in primal male memory and later projections back on to womb, the source of life itself.

I choose the obscene name of cunt (generally taken to be more derogatory than pussy) precisely because it is more Aoff-scene@-- that is, less socially acceptable, implying its deeper associations. Another familiar phrase, especially in black colloquialisms, Yo mamma, may represent this same male imagery. Yo mamma is about something in the male psyche which goes beyond both woman and mother; it symbolizes the deepest roots of male existence.

Certainly there are sexual elements in cunt, but the powers of this image are deeper than mere vaginal intercourse; they move on into womb, the primal source of existence itself. If woman represents male permission to be sexual, cunt stands for male permission to survive. I theorize that of the two primary human instincts, namely, to survive and reproduce, to live and Amake babies (be sexual),@ the first is deeper. We are born with a more powerful urge to Astay alive,@ followed by a lessor drive to reproduce ourselves. In this hierarchy of powers, cunt stands for the first; woman for the second.

If we distinguish between magic and religion, secular forces and spiritual powers, woman is about male magic, but cunt is about male religion. Woman, in male images, gives us permission to be sexual, to experience the pleasures of sensuality and orgasm; this indeed is great. But cunt or womb represents our permission to be, not merely to be sexual, but to exist at all.

My poem of yesterday: SADNESS/Can anything be as bad/as losing the mother/you never had, represents, I think, some elements in facing an image of mother which is more akin to cunt (as I here mean it) than to woman. In the creation of the poem I was confronting my life long fantasy/illusion (image) of Ahaving@ (owing) Amy mother@ C not merely the woman who birthed me, but the icon of my projected powers to create my own present existence, to be who-I-am by my own faith.

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DARK POWERS

I am thinking now that my recently faced fears of mother Acutting me off@ in her will, Adisinheriting me,@ are only the tip of the iceberg. I suspect now, given the deep and abiding nature of this recent anxiety, that my present Auncertainty@ is rooted in a fear that reaches back to the beginning of my Asonship,@ perhaps to the cradle itself.

I wonder if all my life I have lived with an unfaced and therefore projected-on-to-mother fear of Abeing cut off@ literally; that is, of having my penis cut offC more literally and deeper still, of having my sexuality itself, this innate part of my male self, severed. Certainly my Athinking through@ and looking clearly at what being left out of her will would mean to me, to see, that is, how I would Asurvive@ without her Agood graces,@ has let me recognize how powerful this image is in my experience till now. The unrealistic (currently unreasonable) elements in this fear which has moved me deeply for several weeks are now quite apparent. Surely I have been nearing this present insight for some time.

I think that Freud stopped too soon in his human analysis. His discovery of the Oedipus Complex, a boy=s fear of castration by his father, seems correct; but I think he failed to go, or at least write much, beyond this male element of a boy=s fears. Deeper, I think, lies a AJocasta Complex@ Cthat is, a fear of Awhat mother can do,@ namely, Acut you off.@ Castration fear, which could only become evident after testicles are more fully descended, must be preceded by a loss-of-penis fear which could reasonably appear soon after birth when a boy begins to get erections in the presence of his mother. What will she do with this emerging source of pleasure/power? Will she delight in it, or Acut it off@? I suspect now that my own reaction, so evident in my long struggle with coming to be consciously sexual, was that my greater risks were not with father and castration, but with mother and Acut-off-ness.@

I can easily imagine now how her own denials of sexuality would predictably lead to their projection on to a first son who must, no doubt, have had erections in her presence, as we now know all normal boys do, beginning even in the womb. Surely, in all my conscious memories, she has never allowedC that is, I have always feared/avoided (are these the same?) becoming consciously sexual in her presence. Was/is this about Abeing cut off@? Or deeper, about having my self severed from my sexuality, a split that would be even more traumatic, I suspect, than loss of organ alone.

I generalize further, speculating on the events of the day, President Clinton=s Acrisis@ in the face of female accusations of sexual harrassment. I think too that the most general and deepest of all male fears are not about being physically hurt, injured in fighting or war, or even in suffering ego or Aface@ lossC though these are great; but rather that we fear some element of femininity which looms even more powerful and potentially devastating than all our recognized male-related fears, including possible castration (ball loss).

I think now that my recent recognition of ACunt Power,@ as the fourth and deepest of our common male images projected on to femininity, has another element which is even more threatening than womb power (power to save or make happy as must have seemed so before birth). Perhaps this is why I chose the socially obscene (Abad@) word cunt rather than merely leaving it at womb. Was I then close to acknowledging this darker side of female magic, namely, woman=s Ablack magic@ too?

I suspect so. In either case, I now see, with the latest developments in my relationship with mother, my painful recognition that she can indeed be totally oblivious to all that I feel, think, and want, as reflected in a possible Acut off@ from her will, but more relevantly in her stance of complete rejection in present encounters, that my previous intellectual explorations of Indian mythology, specifically, of the Kali figures, were perhaps but a forerunner of my present awakening (what a sentence!). Cutting through the verbiage, I am referring to woman=s kill-abilityC to the dark, unacknowledged, female capacity reflected in any animal mother=s possibility of abandoning a weak child when resources are short, that is, to abort of kill an unwanted offspring.

The fact that this universal (I speculate) female capacity is so seldom (never?) acknowledged by individual women only serves to make it more awesome and dangerous. I think that each child, particularly male children who come with overt and obvious sexuality, must somehow recognize how extremely vulnerable we all are to mother=s Akill-ability,@ especially when it is cloaked with sugary Acaring,@ Acouldn=t-hurt-a-fly-ness,@ the appearance/assumption of total acceptance of anything-we-do/are, indeed of Aunqualified love@ by mothers.

I am imagining now that somehow we children, especially boys, must not be totally faked off by this near universal appearance and belief in the unqualified love of all mothers, even in the face of obvious limitations in practice. Even when we luxuriate in the act, want so deeply to believe in its reality (in the perfection of mother=s love), we must still have some hidden sense of the constant danger that boys face while in the presence first of mother, and later a threat projected on to all women past her.

The derogatory terms which males use, mostly in private of course, apart from females with whom we feel danger, such as, Acunt@ and Apussy,@ plus the less verbalized but commonly image of the Agaping vagina,@ must be rooted in this profoundly deep male fear of the darker side of womanC her Kali-ness, that is, her kill-ability. In my years of gender studies I have long ago recognized the Anatural superiority of women@ which I have labeled as the AXX chromosome advantage.@ I have seen too that obvious male aggressions, even capacities for killing animals and enemies, are paralleled by female aggressions which, though nearly always hidden and denied by women in consciousness, are somehow of far greater import and power. I have seen too how female denial of these capacities for witchinessCcold-hearted, ease-of-throwing-you-in-the-oven, ability to unemotionally destroy anyone who stands in their way, reflected sometimes in the proverbial awareness that Ahell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned,@ etc., magnifies their danger even more.

I think too, while I am waxing global, that the major religions of the worldC Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, have arisen with deeper motivations rooted in this same universal male threat/awareness of female kill-ability. For all our more lofty and noble religious ideals, I believe that the deepest of all Areligious@ motivations in these familiar masculine religions has been the suppression/avoidance/control of the witchiness of woman, female kill-ability which far surpasses the obvious aggression of males, the Acunt power@ I noted above. More than all else, and more denied than all else by us Areligious@ males who have perpetuated masculine-directed religions, we have, I now believe, been motivated by a sensed necessity of surviving in the presence of Kali-ness, the darker side of all women, certainly the powers of their natural superiority, but more specifically and dangerously, the threat of cold-hearted killer-ness.

It is this, I now think, that I have long been skirting in my life time as a religious person and professional. My Ataking care of others,@ assuming a Amotherly stance@ in my life and professions, a continuation of my Agood boy@ habit learned long before my conscious memory begins, has, in some deep sense far below any Agood that I may have done,@ been about coping with these dark powers personified and existent in all female persons.

My excursion to Crete and Greece last summer was a critical step in the process as I faced the older female-based religions which must have existed before presently known male religions, of which I have been a part. I was beginning to acknowledge further the powers of woman which both pre-date our eras of outward male domination, exemplified in the religions, but present in all of society, and which continue to lie only slightly buried below the surface of all current structures and relationships. It was a useful step for me to begin Aout there,@ in long ago history, a pilgrimage which was to culminate now in this present insight.

In summary, beginning with a global and ancient historical perspective: Men, since ancient times, perhaps 40-4,000 BC, have been trying to survive and enhance our positions in the presence of greater female powers, especially the darker side of femininityC bitchiness, witchiness, Kali-ness, cold-hearted killer-ness, by achieving some sort of control. Both our known histories in social and religious structuring (usually so intertwined as to be finally indistinguishable) as to be properly called soci-religious history, have been most deeply rooted in this hidden agenda of our own survival with women. Quite properly and understandably the Pope, for instance, has long refused to Aordain women,@ etc., that is, to allow them into positions of power within church structures. This would cut at the very heart of what our male religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are most primally all about.

But such social and religious structuring has yet left us vulnerable in the more essential and relevant arenas of our lives, namely, home, family, and personal relationships. Here, outside of politics and church, where we mostly live when we can=t retreat into wars, or the woods for hunting, etc., we yet remain subject to woman=s witchiness, to ACunt Power@ and Athe gaping vagina,@ symbols of the continuing possibility of being Acut off@ by women, not merely from the lesser power of Apussy,@ but the greater threat of the spiritual oven where we lose not only our balls (and prick) but indeed our sexuality and selves.

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SEEING MOTHER

Seeing my mother (letting go of the Amy@) clearly rather than only through the jaundiced eyes of childhood, responding to her as a person instead of simply reacting to her as Amy@ mother, remains a challenge. The power and presence of my images of her, existent for longer than I can remember, easily dictate every current encounter. Without a thought (that=s the clue) I still tend to react to her desires just as I must have learned while still at her breast (or bottle?). My learning to cope by Abeing good,@ Aminding my mother,@ Anot talking back,@ etc., is so ingrained that I still leave my mind at home, my eyes closed, my seeing seared, whenever I am around her.

I think now, thought, that Aseeing mother@ is still a step away from what is harder still, namely, seeing myself as I have come to be in reaction to her. I keep my images of her intact long after evidence to the contrary is abundant because, I suspect, they but reflect images of myself which still remain operativeC specifically, of me as a Agood person@ (an adult version of Agood boy@) who of course Ahonors@ his mother (meaning: worships, adores, believes without question, always Aminds,@ and never contradicts or reveals himself in a displeasing-to-her manner).

It is easier to struggle with my image of her, learned so long ago, than to look into its mirror and see how I have distorted my seeing of my self to fit that image. Seeing her as Agood mother@ but reflects seeing myself as Agood son/person.@ To acknowledge her evident selfingness, her refusal to see data which contradicts her personal goals, her capacity for cold-hearted rejection on top of unreasoning actions, requires me to seeC if I keep looking, that she only mirrors what I am now like beyond these images of myself.

To see her, in other words, is difficult because it opens my eyes to seeing myself. She but mirrors me, in addition to being herself.

Can I now let go of my hurt/anger/fear Aat her@ for Athe way she is being@ in favor of going ahead and seeing past my old images of both her and myself? Can I honor the wisdom which I acquired as a child in finding the best way to cope and survive well with her, and yet see beyond it now? To expend energies in either putting down on her or on myself for the way I have been/still-tend-to-be with her is to waste energy. Such judgments of self or her serve no useful function, I know, other than helping me avoid moving on to Stage Four, becoming not only clear in my seeing (Stage Three), but also eating my sights, owing my insights.

Can I let go, without resentment, of my old ways of seeing and Agrow up@ now as I approach 68? I=ll see.

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WHO IS MY MOTHER?

I borrow Jesus= question to try to see more clearly the remnants of Aapron strings@ which may still be directing my life. I see that I have not yet arrived at a place where I can truly state his question, without asking. I am yet to get past seeing my physical mother as Amy mother@-- that is, someone who is both special to me and to whom I am special, in spiritual rather than biological ways only. I still live-as-though (metaphor, indicative of Stage Two) she holds powers which I need and hence should bow to. I live-as-though Asomething dire@ will happen if I stray beyond the very small circle of her Agood graces.@ In some dark ways, Apleasing her@ still matters greatly to meC at least I live as though that is true.

I also see how this yet extends in even more subtle ways to all those I have learned to use to replace or represent herC the later Amothers@ in my life, who are all called by different names, but who function for me in the same ways that she did in my beginnings. These include AWhat They Think@-- that is, my habit of weighing Apublic opinion@ far more heavily than it, in reality, actually is; all the Ashoulds@ that must have begun with my coping via Abeing good@; all the over-valuing of female approval in general, and that of my loved ones in particular. I yet live as though the Agood graces@ of females is powerfully important in my well being, even as I imagine it once was in the early days of my childhood, when all shes were still She.

AMother@ is thus both real and symbolic for me; She (capital lettered) is still the frail, 89 pound, 91 year old, Areigning@ from an invisible throne in Saline, as well as all the other symbolic replacements I have conjured up to stand for her in her absence. APublic opinion,@ even in the absence of any public (other persons), is followed by my ingrained Ashoulds,@ all the Agood person@ values embodied now in my conscience, generalized then to Awomen,@ and made most specific in those I Alove.@

Specifically She, who is yet adored, bowed before, catered to, longingly looked toward even in Her physical absence, represents such assumptions as: I have deep need for something which She has; I am insufficient in myselfC that is, I do not see enough, feel enough, have enough, I cannot do enough, but that I yet need Her to bring me up to par, to survival strengthC certainly up to Awell being,@ the Agood life,@ even if I might shabbily survive on my own. Unless I am totally alone, far from Ahome,@ beyond the prying of anyone=s eyes, I still live with Her shadow in the background of my mind, running like a Amemory resident@ virus scanner in the computer, beyond all my current Aprograms.@ She is like some vague apparition of hovering doom overshadowing all my immediate well being, back there somewhere with her finger ready to shake, her voice ready to condemn, as though if I Astep on a crack@ I will literally Abreak my mother=s back.@

Even when no conscious thought of such is Ain my mind,@ still I am never far from the vague but powerful fear of Abeing caught@ being myself, as though selfing were truly a crime against nature. And the closer I come to being my truer self, the further I dare move from my Agood boy@ image, the greater the Afear@-- or habit of fear, looms. When anyone is around, as in watching me serve tennis balls, certainly when I am competing in the presence of others, I inevitably, without choice, inhibit myself. I play worse than I can play. Am I afraid of Aoffending the gods (Her)@ if I get Atoo good@? Must I somehow remain a needy little boy in order to keep Her favors available for me?

To truly relate to my physical mother as Ajust another person,@ as though (still I must metaphor the situation to even think about it) she holds no special powers over me, as though I need not strive to get/keep her acceptance (if not her approving Smile) in order to be myself, is only beginning to become thinkableC that is, to become more than a theory in my mind, to become, that is, the way I live (at Stage Four).

Another biblical message, AOwe no man (woman?) anything, save to love one another,@ mirrors my question. To keep her Aadored (unconsciously worshiped)@ keeps me living-as-though I yet Aowe her.@ Do I? Is birthing a debt that should (must?) somehow be repaid? Do I owe her in some deep spiritual sense, such that I am yet Abeholden to her,@ regardless of anything? Is this simply the nature of being a son, no matter how old one gets? Are we Ajust supposed@ to always Abe good@ to our mothers, not offend them, not Acause any trouble,@ not Amisbehave@ (move beyond what they think, or thought, we should do/be)?

If the cord is ever truly cut, if there are no Aapron strings,@ symbolic but even more spiritually powerful than the umbilical cord once was, then I think Mother would (will?) be returned to the level plain of Ajust another person@ who happens to have birthed me some 67 long years ago, my mother, but not My Mother. I would/will then see her, relate to her, Atreat her,@ as I would/do anyone else to whom I Aowe nothing@ or do not require for my well being. She would, that is, no longer be magical in my unthinking mind; she would be another human being, even as I am, acting accordingly, but not holding any special powers over me or responsibilities for me, beyond Aloving one another.@

And along with the demise of this lingering goddess, as I dare translate my long held theories of Agrowing up@ into actual practiceC that is, as I grow up myself, rather than simply holding or propounding theories of same, as I come to Apractice what I have long preached,@ as I absorb my Stage Three knowledge into Stage Four knowing, then I can see too how my symbolic mothers will also be returned to the level plain of all humanity. I will, I can now predict, Alet them down@ also; I will let go of the shadows of Mother which I still project on to Aothers@ in general, females in particular, and loved ones specifically. I will come to see all others, beginning with Constance Coker Evans, simply as humans like myself, to be related to realistically rather than magicallyC on the basis of real factors, not simply imaged, projected, or otherwise conjured up notions.

I will cease looking for Afavors,@ for approval, understanding, magical smiles, support, or any thing else, as though I or they are Aspecial,@ as though we owe each other anything (save to love), as though any human Ashould be@ anything more than human (selfing and sexing). I will consequently, when I quit Aputting them up@ (at least those Aspecial@ ones symbolic of My Mother), be able to quit Aputting down on them@ when they fail to measure up to my hidden expectations of them. In fact, I will get over, move past, the ancient habit of Ahaving expectations@-- of them or me.

I will return, that is, to the present world, where surprise is always just around the corner, where Wow! is simply inherent in showing up, where no knowing in omniscient, where all seeing is anew, where all humans are wondering, wandering, and wonder-filled, but none are Awonderful,@ where, as I theorized long ago, we are all natural persons and none of us are gods, goddesses, or even godlyC to becoming, finally, a truly Amotherless child@ who is now a man, grown up and growing down, approaching becoming a personC becoming, on the way to un-becoming.

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THINKING

(STAGE THREE)

I have used thinking in large measure as my major coping device as well as defense in living. Whereas others use physical or emotional powers, I have majored in mental power, the power of concepts, to survive and reach my goals, as well as protect myself from others. I do not know if I am actually stronger in this capacity than are others, or if I have simply learned to use it early and gotten hung up on it to the exclusion of developing other powers equally. In either case, I am recognizing that apparently I look more sharply at sacred mental cowsCbeliefs, established notions, what people say, etc,--than many seem to do. Whether this is out of personal rebellion, my own stubborn refusals to Alet anyone tell me what to think,@ or what, I do not know; I do see that, for whatever reasons, I must be more focused in the arena of thought than are many others I have known.

I think that I have made many relational errors by assuming that others either think or enjoy thinking as much as I do. Also I am increasingly aware of how much I have been dependent on the affirmation of others for fuller personal acceptance of my own observations. I have looked for Aunderstanding,@ particularly from women, with compulsion--as though what I see is without substance if some she doesn=t see it also. ADo you see what I see?,@ as a question to females, has been a major mover in all my past life. Did it begin with mother? Was her early power in confirming my vision so dictating that I started the habit in infancy? Have I simply lived out all my life what I learned at my mother=s, namely, that Ashe@ and her replacements have determining power over what I see? It appears that this is so.

I am, I am happy to note, now moving out of this habit. The necessity I feel for female Aunderstanding@ of my thinking is rapidly diminishing. I hope I completely outgrow the habit because I recognize how much of my energy Aseeking understanding@ takes, how it diverts me from clarification on my own insights, and how impossible it finally is. I see that female thinking is radically different in nature from typical male thinking--how challenging it is for either gender to switch over and think like the other. Also, the pay off for getting outside confirmation of what I see is small and seldom worth the effort. Mental accolades are hardly worth the effort, and never as satisfying as the events of thinking itself. I suppose that all trophies, metal or mental, are relatively irrelevant or less satisfying than the events which may or may not result in them.

I see too that my quests for understanding, often cloaked in attempts to Abe helpful@ as in preaching or counseling, have diverted me from the more challenging requirements of faith to accept my seeing by my own nerve. If I can get somebody else to see first, to confirm what I see, then less personal faith is necessary. Their Aunderstanding,@ in effect eases the challenges of my Astanding-under@ what I see without outside support.

I am also seeing how I have used thinking/writing to evade the larger challenges of being present itself. Whereas thinking is certainly a major element in human capacity, along with feeling, wanting, etc., it is by no means the only, or even major, part of being human. Even if my own capacity for thinking is either larger or more developed than in some other persons, still it is not all of me. The point is, I see how I have often taken the easy out of thinking--using my major suit, to evade being thoughtful without Aacting out@ my thoughts in telling or writing.

I have also escaped into self-righteousness about my thoughts, assuming them to be Aright,@ to evade the challenges of keeping-on-thinking--that is, continuing in the process of thinking. All too often I have stopped the process of being present through thinking by switching to the older issues of Aexplaining myself,@ either through preaching or seeking understanding, or simply writing itself. What I hope to do is to continue being-through-thinking and writing/telling when feasible, but to stop quitting thinking and escaping into these social endeavors.

Presence-through-thinking is but a part of also being present-through-feeling--as through sensing or being passionate; ideally, all are in consort, in a moving shifting sea of selfing which focuses now on thinking, then on feeling, back to sensing, etc. Presence, in such an ideal state, is made up of these various components, but neither of them is used to escape the others nor made a stopping off place in the fuller aspects of presence. That is, one doesn=t try to be thinking only, or feeling only, but to be oneself, present with all capacities activated--one of which is making-sense (thinking).

Thinking, I have also failed to previously note, is inherently powerful in the presence of common, average rationalizing. Rational thought threatens established rationalizations mightily. In my own pattern of trying to use thought as a means of coping, rather than mustering the nerve to stand with what I know, I have erroneously taken rejection or avoidance of my words to mean that my words were impotent. AIt=s only words, and words are all I have...@ This line from a song has long been a lament of mine, supporting the notion that my words were usually powerless or ineffective in accomplishing my goals. I now see that I was misconceiving my data.

It is not that my words were impotent, but rather that they were threatening because they so undermined common rationalizing which comprises our usual modes of surviving.

We stop off in the process of moving toward thought by staying at Stage Two, image-making, to represent experience. Images are inherently irrational in the sense that they represent a stopping off in the normal process; that is, rationality is the next step, the move past imaging. In their place the images are normal and useful; the problem arises when we cling to them to avoid the nerve required to move on into thought.

When I am trapped or clinging to the state of images, Stage 2 in the process, then reasoning or thought, Stage 3, is naturally threatening. I then protects myself from the threats of reason by increasing the size of the images, that is, by becoming even more irrational as a means of protecting myself from the nervy possibility of moving on into thought.

What has happened in my experience in the ministry, for example, is that I have not recognized the power inherent in my own reason-ability, the nerve I have dared in moving on past images to thought, and the artistry of my public reasoning with others. When others have appropriately resisted, eventually left, I have misconceived their moves as indicative of the weakness or inadequacy of my thought with them. Wrong! It has been just the opposite. I now think I have been too clear; not deficient in my reasoning or presentations.

Initially sight is titillating, when we fail to recognize the inherent dangers in a society which is yet to embrace thought-capacity. Those drawn to my work have been excited at first, because sight is at first light-full; but in short time, threats begin to appear. My error has been in trying, at such a point, to become even more clear, unwittingly redoubling the threat, rather than recognizing that I had already passed the point of acceptable seeing. I misconceived that my words were impotent, when in fact they were exceedingly threatening, even to myself, which accounts for much of my effort to Amake them see,@ or find understanding Aout there@ for myself, rather than daring to swallow my outsight and make it insight, lighting myself rather than projecting and trying to light others instead.

Now, I see, I need to acknowledge more the power and threat of thought, especially my own, so that I move more carefully into this powerful domain of human experience.

Thinking, as I am now beginning to see, is not for anything, that is, it is not inherently a purposive activity or function which is a device or tool separate from self, to be used in service of self or others. This use of thinking is a perversion, a distortion, an escape from the capacity itself. This is the mistake I have mostly made till now. I attempted to cope with power through the use of thought, just as females more commonly do through the use of feeling. Using thinking is not the same as thinking, which, inherently, is for itself aloneCthat is, exists as one aspect of being oneself.

We think, ideally, because we can; not in order to accomplish things.

Thinking is being-conscious; to be conscious is to be thinking--as well as feeling, sensing, etc. Consciousness is thinking--that is, being mentally honest, translating perceptions into images and then decoding the images into discrete notions, all this without dissipating powers inherent in experiencing itself.

This does not mean that we don't accomplish things, reach goals better, achieve what we seek, through thinking. Thinking is indeed pragmatic and practical; but in the same way that breathing, eating, defecating, and sleeping are--that is, as aspects of being ourselves, of identifying ourselves with evolved capacities. Consciousness, at least the possibility of being so, is but the latest and most complex (as well as fragile) of evolved capacities so far. It is, if you please, Mother Nature's latest mutation, or God's latest gift to human kind.

As such, we don't have it; we are it. It, literally, is I--at least one aspect or element of who-I-am. Ideally we are as identified with thinking as we are with feeling. Both are but elements of ourselves, parts of our evolved capacities so far. When we are being ourselves, we are also "being thinking." Children, not yet caught up in perversions or denials of themselves, think naturally and freely. They perceive, image, and then translate their images into more discrete ideas--all this without diminishing powers generated or existent in the process. Just as their images are representational of power they actually experience, existing proportionate to their real experience (e.g., small fear = small ghost; large fear = large ghost), so their thoughts embody the same power in discrete quantities which can in turn be experienced more personally. In their move from image to thought they but personify (embrace, own, more personally) the same powers originally recognized as images--or so l theorize, projecting my own emerging awareness back on to idealized children.

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NATURAL THINKING

Words and language appeared and evolved to facilitate the desires of the ones who created and taught them to those they needed to get what they wanted; and so on, up to our own parents and teachers.

Natural thinking, evolving further from words and language, is sense in service of desire, reason at the disposal (as a tool) of want.

The world of reason and sense, cut of from pure desire is a spoiled and sterile, self-righteous and relatively impotent realm which judges the natural thinking of others to be Arationalizing,@ all the while blind to their own rationalizations, self-righteously and erroneously labeling them as Amaking sense@ and Abeing reasonable@-- a world I know so well because I have tried so long to dwell within it.

Women and blacks are much more skilled in natural thinking than the average male.

Natural thinking is not inherently virtuous, any more than making sense is bad; but it is closer to the Kingdom here than all of man=s so-called reason, and the logical theologies of world religions.

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SHARPER DISCRIMINATIONS

I am lucky to have lived long enough to be able to confront this question. Can I now do so? I am trying to see the difference between my genetic responses to femininity and my emotional reactions, to the biological imperatives and my psychological hang-ups. Till now I see that my distinctions have only been academic, not applied in my own life. I have looked (Stage Three) at my adorations of woman (Stage Two), de-coding some of the powers I have projected, but I am only now ready to attempt the move to Stage FourCeating my words.

Specifically, I am trying to see the line between sexual attractions, evolved knowledge about reproduction, and emotional habits which began with mother and have continued on with other women since. How much of the power I experience with females is related to my instincts for baby-making, and how much is but a hang-up in my head, the result of my refusal to grow up and de-magicalize mother?

Events with mother now, in which I am confronted with the seemingly blind way she is attempting to wield power over the family estate, bringing all income to herself alone, lead me to look more carefully at my Agood boy@ habit, the dark spaces in our relationship in which I automatically react to her without thinking, trying to read her mind and do what she wants even before she demands, and, on the other hand, to see where my self interests legitimately enter in. This leads me to look first at the larger picture, to try to discern some separation between what is real (genetic) and what is learned (old habits for coping with her).

The major elements I see on the side of old habits, learned ways of coping, are my life long stance of looking to woman, beginning with mother, for permission to be myself, to seek what I want, and, closely tied, my deeper quest for her blessing. I not only want her to allow me to be myself, I also want her to bless or affirm me in this process. Saying so, I can see how ridiculous, unrealistic, and habitual, this stance is. Surely it is but the continuation of a long habit which probably was realistic only in the earliest days of my infancy; yet it is one I have continued blindly ever since. Do all males do this? Or do I have a corner on this blind market?

I would like to legitimize my reactions with the name Afear@-- saying that AI am afraid of female disapproval,@ but this would evade seeing clearly; I so quickly assume the stance of Apleaser@ in any immediate confrontation that I never get around to being emotional at all, let alone feeling fear. I short-circuit the process which must have initially involved real fear by Abecoming good@ automatically, without thought or consideration of circumstances. Wow! What an ingrained mode of behavior. I have truly remained at Stage Two, imaging powers rooted mostly in my own projections.

The question I am trying to face here is: how many? How much is realisticC that is, rooted in genetic responses to femininity which include both sexual instincts and perhaps some primal but not forgotten awareness of the greater powers of women in generalC the XX advantage? I am seeing, perhaps for the first time clearly, just how diligent, artful, persistent, brutal, unreasonable (from my standpoint) my mother is in the pursuit of her goals. She must be typically female here; yet an aspect of femininity which is commonly hidden to male eyes (and, I think, to the consciousness of females in general). But before I wane academic, generalizing to escape being specific, I return to my own question.

I see that all biological attractions to my mother, assuming that they may have once existed, as I theorize, before the proverbial Aincest taboo@ and socio-religious structures took over, must be long past their time. Yet, do primal memories not brought into consciousness, and perhaps now impossible to resurrect, still hold some power? Could I only now be daring to approach in deeper consciousness such long repressed attractions? Given the safety of her 91 year old body, all 89 frail and wasted pounds of it, am I finally able to begin lifting my habit, returning to knowledge long since forgotten?

I suspect that this is true, that there are some threads of primal sexual attraction just now emerging into consciousness long after the gene eyes have gone blindC far past, that is, any realistic possibility of incest. If so, there is some element of realistic, albeit long overdue and long past possibility, biological power at work. Even if it is now only psychological in nature, that is, in my head rather than by body, still I weigh such a natural desire as positive and real, though far past its natural time.

But, and this is hardest, I think that most of the power I experience now is well past any such pure biology and is into the realm of psychological hang-ups. Most of the challenge I now face is letting go of my illusionsC I can call them this now, 67 years later, that mother can give me anything real, such as, permission to be myself or the blessing of my life. Perhaps once, but not now. My real struggle is seeing how ingrained and automatic this habit of looking to women (females past mother) really is, and how I continue to live by it (remain in the image Stage) when I might otherwise assume my place as a person in my own right (or without any rights!) here in this present universe.

Seeing it, of course, is just for openers; now come the challenges of eating my vision, of standing present when confronted with what I now know to be illusions, and remaining a separate person, tending to my business. And this without falling into the opposite traps of automatic rebellion (other side of same coin) or even more dangerously, of judgmentC self-righteousness and condemnation.

What I now want to do is to remain attentive to this difference, to a sharper discrimination between biological and psychological reactionsCto respect the first, acting realistically with them, and to let go of the second, choosing instead to represent myself as sharply and carefully as I can, all the while continuing to relate to mother/others as lovingly as I dare.

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HEARING AND SEEING

Hearing is the more primal sense, operative even in the womb before sight becomes possible. After birth it remains the most open and continually operative of the senses, at work even at night, with eyes closed, or while dreaming. Point: It must have evolved as our first and most essential sense in grasping the world, both for pleasure and protection.

But in my experience I think it must have acquired an even more significant value, given the forcefulness and power which my mother placed on words. Even at 91 now, she still speaks (wields power) forcefully with words. I think that I must have learned early to be very attentive to words and language as a way of coping with her, and also to have become more vulnerable to language than the average person. I am still very vulnerable to what I hear, that is, moved by it more so than others, I believe. I can=t, like many others, for instance, Atune out@ commercials when TV is on.

Being more vulnerable to languageC hearing, than many others (or so I surmise), I think that I must have turned more to sight for coping, that I was less vulnerable to what I saw than to what I heard. I have always Aloved looking@ and hence been interested in photography. With seeing as metaphor for understanding, I have been further fascinated with Atrying to see@ what things mean, how they workCfirst in engineering, and then in people (religion and psychology). I can see now how I have learned to use Amy seeing@-- my understanding (mental seeing) in coping with the powers of others. I have been dedicated to coping by trying to Amake them see,@ to understand me, to wield power through the very words to which I have always been so vulnerable.

I have erred, I think, in my assumption that others are as attentive/vulnerable to language as I am. I think now that I may be more dedicated/dependent on words (what is said) than most anyone I know. An old theme song has been A...its only words and words are all I have....@ I easily saw how ineffective preaching (explaining things with words) is in actually effecting experience; yet I persisted in the profession long after recognizing the Afoolishness of preaching.@ Likewise with trying to explain things as a way of influencing the behavior of those around me, including loved ones, family, and business associates.

Rather than facing and dealing directly with my private learning, my own vulnerability to words (sense making, understanding, etc.) which I think I must have learned early Aat mother=s knee,@ I erroneously assumed that words were equally powerful to others and that I could therefore wield power (get what I want) by artfully using words, Aexplaining things@ sensibly. Wrong again!

Time now (past time?) for me to get language in a proper perspective, to recognize the unique nature of my own experience with my mother, to see the extreme limitations of words-as-power, and to get on with learning to wield non-verbal power primarilyC with words as only tools to support same.

Because I have been so focused on words I have also failed to give equal attention to non-verbal Amessages@-- as, tone of voice, irrational use of language, and especially actions. Sharply focused on verbal language, I have often missed the more important and powerful means of communication beyond words.

A more natural use of language (and thinking in general), past sense-making, is as a tool, rather than as a sacred form to be bowed beforeC as I have learned to do. I think that my early attention to the power of mother=s words, what she Atold me to do,@ etc., has led to a sacred use of language not shared by most others, especially females.

What I want to learn now is to gain a more proper, realistic balance between hearing and seeing, between words and non-verbal signs better grasped by seeing. I want to quit worshiping Asense,@ that is, reason/logic/rational words, and finally catch on to what is more common among humans, namely, using language just as any other tool for accomplishing goals, certainly not as a sacred form to be inherently valued and relied on.

xxxx

DESIRE

GOD=S GAS STATION

The juices of life
are fueled by desire
and drained by duty
I am most alive
when doing what I would
but soon bored and tired
when directed by should

I am seeing how nervy it is, how much faith is required, to see what I see rather than seeing only what I should see, what I have been told to see, or what others want me to see. But to stay in touch with my visions, indeed, to swallow them into myself, becoming my seeing, is a continual challenge. Even the obvious pleasure inherent in acknowledged and activated desire is easy to ignore in face of the apparent ease in duty, in doing any should. Why do I flee so quickly from the excitement, the motivations of emotions, the juiciness of wanting, into boredom which I know is just around the corner from all ought to=s?

Is it the power of old habits, the comfort of the familiar, or the nerve it takes to follow my own nose, the sensor of life which lies just below my eyes and probably arose before them? I think it is the latter. I do not see any human option which takes more faith than seeing what I see, daring to acknowledge and eat my own experience, rather than simply following orders, signing on the dotted line, blindly Ataking it on faith@-- which is to say, giving up my own Amind,@ that metaphor for my seeing.

When I am wiser, when my nerve is stronger, when I am more into minding than dictated by images, then I delight in being fueled, Aturned on@ by wanting, moved by the passions inherent in desire but drained by all the devilish disguises of dutyC which is to say, what they see and say to do rather than what I see and might say, or even do, when I find the nerve to be myself.

xxxx

IMAGING POWER

I am still puzzling over the language situation. I don=t think the problem is lack of words for expressing power-awareness as much as a lack of a sense-of-self awareness of power-generationCin other words, it must be that our more familiar awareness of self is as still, unmoving, without power, that most of the time we feel calm, unemotional (not-moved), and therefore experience the moving of power, as when we get excited or scared, as different or foreign to our usually calm self.

There is, of course, no concept of self at these early times when imaging begins to occur; we simply are who-we-are when we first begin to experience these internal moves of power withinCfor instance, hunger, heat/cold, too much light for visual comfort, and other forms of pain or pleasure (smothering or sucking). It must be as though we are personally impotent, without powering capacities for either relieving pain or securing pleasure. If mother is required to give milk to relieve the pain of hunger, to change diapers to bring comfort, and to hold us close to bring warmth and relief from cold and excessive movements of the world, then it must seemCto our emerging awareness (beginnings of consciousness), that all the moving powers are external. At first we are literally impotent--without power--for moving either ourselves or circumstances which do effect our well-being. Mother, et al, does indeed hold the key to our experiences of pleasure and avoidances of pain.

So, it must be that from this beginning time of relative impotence, un-self-move-ability, we start to be aware of these self-limitations and vast Mother-powersCof ourselves as unpowered and others as powering us. It would then be but a natural progression, as awareness expands, as our sense of I vs. It, self vs. otherCour beginning delineations of the edges of self in the world increases, to also perceive the power for these internal stirrings of greater import to be instigated without rather than within.

xxxx

MINDING AND LOVE
or
BEING GOOD VS. BEING LOVING

To an outsider the two may appear very much alike; but they aren=t. I know much more about the first, Abeing good,@ than about the second. I want now, however, to look more clearly at the difference so that I may hopefully move on to loving at Stage Four rather than simply trying to ape it.

First, I know that Abeing good@ is a misnomer; that is, this mode of behavior is literally an act rather than a form of being, as the phrase implies. More truthfully, I know about acting Agood@ and calling it Abeing good.@ ABeing loving,@ in contrast, is a literal name; at Stage Four one is truly being loving, not simply acting like it.

One way to distinguish acting from being is that the first always has expectations attached, though they are commonly hidden at the time, even from the actor himself. ABeing good@ in this sense always has some expected payoff, some result which Ais supposed@ to follow the act of Abeing good.@ With truly being loving, this is not true. The Areward@C even the name is inaccurate, of being loving, that is, loving at Stage Four in contrast with Stage Two or Three, is inherent in the event itself. Loving, at this level, is fulfilled within the activation of itself; that is, no further or later Areward@ is expected. The joy of being loving lies within the process itself.

We might say that Aloving is its own reward,@ but this begs the point. This assumes the premise of acting, namely, some form of seeking applause (favorable response from an Aaudience@), and, through a play on words, implies a Areward@ at Stage Four also. Not so. There are literally no expectations in the loving Aacts@ at Stage Four. I place acts in quotes here to distinguish it from stage-type acting, which is the standard for Abeing good.@ The Aacts@ of love at Stage Four are more clearly named Aevents,@ or Ahappenings.@ The point: certainly at Stage Four, as at other Stages, one is literally Adoing things@ which can technically be called Aacts@; but such acts are simply deeds, not performances which might be orchestrated or learned ahead of time.

To note that love at Stage Four is without expectations does not mean that prior impressions are not present. Certainly after any experiences with another person one Aknows something about them@-- that is, holds impressions based on earlier contacts. These become a part of what one brings to any encounter, including with a loved one. These prior impressions, what I already know about the person, form the basis for the beginning of any new encounter. We start with what we bring to the present moment, including prior knowledge.

But there is a difference between prior knowledge, impressions from previous encounters, including predictions about present responses based on this older information, and expectations about future behavior. Impressions, for example, are always flexible, whereas expectations are rigid. With an impression, one can easily change when new information is received; if the other person acts in an unexpected way, one simple adapts to received data. But with expectations, which are rigid, the situation is entirely different; then one may be disappointed, shocked, frustrated, Adone in,@ even devastated. Expectations, in effect, Aset one up@ to be disappointed (Alet down@) or to experience other debilitating reactions.

Stage Four impressions, which are always present even with the slightest bit of prior information or present sensations, are only a useful starting point for immediate encountering. They can be dropped in an instant, or supported with new data; but in either case they are not a Ahang up,@ which causes one to either deny or be Adone in@ by emerging information from the other person.

One may be temporarily surprised, for example, when the other person speaks or acts in an unfamiliar mannerC say, when a lover is unfaithful. But when there have only been impressions without expectations, the results are not devastating; one accepts and adapts appropriately to the new information. More than likely such a relationship would be changed in the future, given the new data, but the person at Stage Four of the Creative Process, living with impressions only, not with expectations, would continue living well, even with these changes.

But what is an event in contrast with an act? What is the difference between acting, which is characteristic of Stages Two and Three, and events or happenings at Stage Four? First, acts, by definition have a script, lines which may be learned ahead of time and merely repeated at the time of the event. Even if the script is not known by the actor, still, by nature of itself, acting does have a script. An outsider who observes someone else acting will often Aknow the script,@ that is, be able to recognize predictable lines of the actor, even better than one caught up in acting. The point, though, is that acting always has predictable lines which may or may not be consciously recognized by one who is acting; yet they exist subject to prediction or recognition by other persons.

With events of Stage Four, this is not the case. There are no scripts, no lines, no agendas which can be pre-learned and simply repeated by rote (acted) during the happening. Stage Four events are always spontaneous in the sense that they are created anew at the time of the happening. Having no pre-appointed script, no learnable lines, there is no option other than spontaneity. This does not mean that prior learning, objective data, remembered experience, and present feedback are not available for in-put to the spontaneous actions; but that even in the midst of wealthy data, still the events of Stage Four are spontaneousC created on the spot.

This type of spontaneity is to be distinguished from mere blind reaction, in which no other data is considered beyond instinctive urges or compulsive habitsC what may colloquially be called Ajust doing what I feel like.@ The spontaneity of Stage Four is always a response rather than a mere reactionC that is, a chosen move (verbal or physical), not simply a Afeeling@ acted-out without thinking. Such choices, to speak or do something, may be made so quickly that they appear to an outsider to be mere reactions; but they are not. At Stage Four, past acting and into being, one=s events are always Aconsidered@; they are a culmination of prior experiences; they take into account everything one has learned in the past, all memories and learned data. Though speedy, like reactions which occur without conscious thought, these events are vastly different.

As previously described in terms of knowing-what-one-knows rather than merely having-knowledge (Stage Three), this absorbed knowledge is taken fully into account when one spontaneously speaks or moves at Stage Four. Since prior-learning is now Adigested@ rather than simply existing Ain one=s head@ only, it is naturally expressed (lived-out) quicklyC spontaneously.

In colloquial language, one at Stage Four always appears to be Aflying by the seat of his pants,@ Amaking up the script as he goes along,@ Awriting his lines as he speaks them,@ even Adoing what comes naturally@ (except here Awhat comes naturally@ includes personal learning in addition to biological imperatives). There is an apparent innocence (spontaneity of response) which is much like that of a child who is not yet subservient to social systems; but if a child=s innocence is naive, the innocence of one at Stage Four is the height of sophistication; it is a sophisticated innocence.

AAlways in play,@ is another colloquial expression descriptive of Stage Four. The meaning here is that when one is Aflying by the seat of his pants,@ rather than simply Agoing by the rules,@ he is continually ready for Aanother eventuality,@ an Aunforeseen circumstance,@ an unpredicted Aturn of events.@ Rather than being frustrated by the appearance of some new unknown not governed by available rules, one at Stage Four simply adapts; without Afreezing up@ (as in frustration), wasting time in a fruitless search for another rule, or indulging in such psychological ploys as Afeeling sorry for himself,@ Abemoaning his fate,@ or copping out on the event, he Aremains in play.@ His energies and attention are thus available for managing an unfamiliar turn of events, instead of being Adone in@ by them.

This means too that at Stage Four one is without the expensive luxury of judgments of Aright and wrong,@ and certainly beyond the omniscience required for knowing Agood and evil.@ In fact, here one is past all judgments; discriminations are sharpened, lines are more clearly discerned, but all judgments about either side of such lines are laid aside. Differences are simply more data for making ever sharper discernments, never the basis for judging one or the other to be right or wrong, good or bad. Choices are made at this edge of rules on the basis of one=s values, goals, and knowledge at the time, not on the rightness or wrongness of either option.

In terms of persons, at Stage Four one may have opponents, Aworthy adversaries,@ or even be confronted with others who are Aout to get you.@ But not with enemies. The psychological device of Aenemy making,@ which requires projection of personal power along with judgment of the opposing person, is laid aside when one moves from Stage Three to Four. Although opponent and enemy may technically be used as synonyms, from the perspective of the Creative Process, there is a vast difference. OpponentsC that is, other persons with viewpoints and goals even diametrically opposed to one=s own are certainly predictable, indeed, common; but such adversaries, even when they are fierce and brutal, without sympathy or concern, are not transformed in the mind of one at Stage Four into enemies.

To do so requires both a degree of blindness to self, a not-seeing of one=s own stance of self-affirmation, and a judgment of the opposing one, a lowering of him or her in one=s own estimation. Either of these internal moves diminishes both the power and presence, the availability of resources likely to be needed in the confrontation, of the one who makes them. In minor conflicts such losses may be acceptable, but when confronted with major opponents, all one=s personal resources may be called for in preservation of self if not success in the encounter. One thus confronted can ill afford the loss of powers which Aenemy making@ inevitably requires.

xxxx

THINKING FOR MYSELF

The single most challenging and rewarding event in human experience is, I think, thinking for yourself or making up your own mind. Many other difficulties and opportunities face us all, of course; yet none surpasses, for me, this one in demand or satisfaction. If a child were to acquire (keep) only one bit of Alearnin@ in quest of the good life, it would, I think, be this: he would learn (or never forget) how to think for himself. This phrase is perhaps the best of all summaries for existing at Stage Four of the Creative Process; minding is thinking for yourself.

Nothing, I believe, is actually more natural, inherent, or ingrained in human potential than this. It is but the culmination, Athe best@ of all that we have evolved capable of doing/being. Small children, within the more limited range of their options, do so without instruction or guidance from adults. We must teach them our languages and many of the intricacies of social acceptance; but not how to think for themselves; this comes as naturally as breathing, sucking, eating, defecating, and sleepingC only with greater challenges and rewards.

A once popular song said: A...the greatest thing you=ll ever learn, is just to love...@ This would, I think, perhaps describe existence at Stage Four, but does not clearly articulate the event. Such love cannot be learned; it does, however, flow naturally from minding or thinking for yourself, which can be Alearned@ (or at least Are-learned@).

Said another way: I am at my best, I believe, when I am thinking for myself; at my worst, insofar as personal Agood living@ is concerned, when I=m not. I may be a good citizen or group member, even husband or father, while Ajust following orders,@ but not a good person. This latter possibility, which also reflects in love of the highest order, only seems to appear when I am making up my own mind.

Minding, viewed from this perspective, involves, indeed requires, activation of the more basic human capacities, namely, being selfing and sexual in all their diverse elements, while also conscious at the same time. I cannot think for myself beyond the degree to which I have become and am willing to remain consciousC that is, to hold as much of my experience in Amind space@ as possible. Certainly such consciousness is a small and fragile capacity at best, the latest gift of the long process of human evolution; but it is absolutely essential in making up my own mind, albeit within the limited range of such a possibility.

This is to say that thinking for yourself, though critically important in becoming a full human being, existing at Stage Four of the Creative Process, is, in an overall perspective, but the tiniest tip of the ice berg of being human. By far the vast majority of our human moves in the world are nonsciously determined, that is, dictated by genetic imperatives which became engened long before consciousness even dimly appeared on the human scene. We are, for example, selfing and sexual, as ball parks for Astaying alive@ and Amaking babies,@ with Ahardly a thought in the world@-- that is, without consciousness. Still, though small and late on the long stage of human evolution, this current culmination of all our earlier capacities is, I believe, crucial in living the good life, in Agoing to heaven@ in the here and now.

As the apex of earlier and more established human possibilities, thinking for yourself is to be distinguished from a currently popular illusion of being Atotally conscious@ and without dictation by Aunconscious motivations.@ 100% consciousness (being a disembodied Acenter of consciousness,@ a newer name for Asoul,@ Aself,@ Apersonality,@ or Aghost in a machine@) is not, so far as I can tell, a real human optionC if we remain Ain the real world.@ Such Anew age@ religious notions are but clever disguises for the same ole same ole Aold age@ religionsC idolatrous gods in novel guises, or so I think.

Thinking for myself, as I understand the term, begins with honoring the vast wealth of all evolved human capacities which preceded the Johnny Come Lately, New Kid On The Block, called Being Conscious. Making up my own mind means bringing minding to the far greater powers of Abodying@-- that is, adding Athinking@ to instincts, urges, Afeelings,@ and all outside directives, when I come to moving in one direction or another. It is not Athinking@ rather than Afeeling,@ or, Adoing whatever I want to@ regardless of Awhat they want me to.@ It is adding Athought@ or consciousness to Afeelings@ and other nonscious inclinations. Any attempt to exaggerate the size and power of consciousness to negate or evade responsibility for Athe unconscious@ is, so far as I can tell, destined in a short while for failure.

But more dramatically and perhaps relevant to most of my decisions, making up my own mind means separating my personal experience out of the vast reservoir of impersonal directors which are always readily at hand. These include: my Aold habits@ (which cover almost all my present options), What They Think (public opinion on the subject at hand), What I Was Taught (what mother/father wanted me to do/be), What I Should Do (religious or moral directives, usually projected on to a male-created AGod@ who is presumed to Awant me to do such and such@), What Is Legal or socially Apolite,@ plus, what my friends and loved ones want of me. And, before I retired there were my job demands, the dictates of success in my chosen professions, which Amade up my mind for me@ about 95% of the time. If I was not determined by Amy work,@ I was determined by Aresting up@ and Astaying healthy@ in order to do it.

Past all such semi-conscious directives which I may choose to ignore, yet can easily Alook at@ when I opt to, there is the larger and darker realm of The Enchanted Forest where all the ghosts and goblins, gods and demonsC Stage Two images from my past, yet reside. I refer, of course, to my Aunconscious mind@ in popular parlance, to all the personal experiences in my past which I have Aswept under the rug@ rather than daring to face openly in consciousness. Therein lie all the images-which-move-me which I am yet to de-code into Stage Three conceptions, let alone to eat and digest into my conscious self. These dark powers, born of my earlier and lasting projections on to, for example, women (mother-figures, lovers, Aunderstanders,@ and other moving XX chromosomed individuals), hidden gods or goddesses who lurk in the corners of my unseen mind Awatching all I do,@ as well as Ahearing what I say or even think,@ keeping score constantly, day and night, ever ready to Amake me pay@ now or later for breaking any rule or even having Abad motivations.@

I cannot make up my own mind beyond the degree to which I now dare dis-enchant The Enchanted Forest, de-mythologize the myths of my culture and private past, de-idolize the gods of my Baptist historyC return, that is, the empowered images which I have adored or feared, back to the level plane of persons in the world, other selves even as I am. Whenever these dark powers which exist in my denied consciousnessCto be distinguished from the inevitable nonsciousness of pre-conscious evolution, cloud the light of present awareness, then I am not free to think for myself; I simply remain a human zombie, an automaton, at the dictates of these dark forces I am yet to de-code into the light of consciousness. I may obediently Ado what they say,@ or disobediently rebel; in either case I am determined by their unfaced presence and cannot therefore make up my own mind. They, in effect, Athink for me.@

An example of one such commonly unfaced image is rooted in the universal childhood experience of Aminding your mother,@ or, Adisobeying (not minding)@ her. A literal, existential definition of Aminding your mother@ is, in effect, giving your mind to your motherC that is, Aletting her do your thinking for you. ABeing good@ by Anot talking back,@ not Asassing@ your mother, and simply doing what she wants, easily becomes one more non-thinking habit. Once engrained, that is, acted-out-without-thought, such an early learned (and pragmatic at the time) stance can easily dictate almost every aspect of one=s later life. Even when She is physically absent, Awhat She would want me to do,@ can become an all-powerful dictation over present life. Death itself does little to interfere with such a habit well-learned. The illusion that Amy mother would turn over in her grave if....@ can remain a dominant force long after the Grim Reaper claims her body.

The point: I cannot make up my own mind whenever this or any other dark image which I have swept under the rug of my awareness remains powerfully present with me. To think for myself I have no choice but to Adredge up@ all the dark denied memories which yet haunt me, daring to see now what I may in fact have wisely denied at the time in favor of immediate survival or ease. I cannot, of course, erase or destroy these dark forces; even changing them, or Amaking them confess@ as is currently popular with abused children now grown, is relatively irrelevant to the issue at hand. Only in the privacy of my own mind, literallyC that is, in my daring to remember, face, stand up to, Alook the gift horse (or demon) in the mouth,@ and gradually de-code their images, reclaiming previously projected powers, can I even approach the possibility of thinking for myself.

In summary, the simple sounding phrase, making up my own mind, is deceptively easy to say and immensely challenging to do. To think for myself I must, even in the heat of each current decision of what to think, say, or do, confront the ghosts from my past, the voices from my present, the social and legal demands which always surround me, the habits I have acquired to guide me, along with the duties and responsibilities of remaining solvent as well as alive in each moment. Wow! Small wonder that I do it so rarely.

Now to the rewards; if the challenges are vast, as certainly they are, the benefits are even more significant. The results of making up my mind, whenever I can muster the courage to do so, far outweigh the costs of daring to do so. The rewards of the trip are, I conclude, well worth its price.

First, however, I want to note the limitations of these metaphors: Areward@ and Aprice,@ each of which imply cause and effect, or Asomething leading up to@ and Asomething resulting from.@ Literally, the Areward@ of thinking for yourself is inherent in the event itself, rather than in some later Abenefit@ of doing do. We might say, in comparison, that breathing is rewarded in Astaying alive@; true, but in reality the two are parts of the same: to breathe is to be alive, and to be alive is to breathe. Likewise with Athinking,@ which, though more complex than breathing, is just as natural. The truest Abenefits@ of thinking for myself are, like those of breathing, inherent in the natural Alivingness@ and fun of doing so.

Certainly there may be, indeed usually are, positive effects of such creative thought; but these Arewards@ are secondary, even beside the point, literally. We Ashould@ think for ourselves just as we Ashould@ breathe for ourselves, that is, because we canC because thinking, like breathing, is written into the human script. It has evolved as one more capacity which is critically important in surviving well in our complex society, of, that is, Abeing ourselves.@ We should think for ourselves because we have evolved capable of such.

Thinking, like breathing (and defecating), is thus to be honored and exercised in the overall economy of full living; but not worshiped or exaggerated out of its real proportions. As noted, we do have some small measure of potential consciousnessC small in comparison with the immense ice berg of nonsciousness which lies below the surface of all our awareness; but though small, like the yeast in bread, this evolved capacity to think for ourselves is crucially important in finer elements of well-being, including love, which is lauded in religious circles. At the same time, idolizing thinking for yourself is perhaps even more dangerous than idolizing gods of our own making, as is deemed sacred in popular religions. We Ashould,@ for comparison=s sake, both defecate and think for ourselves; but each in its proper time and place, which is seldom for public display and certainly not consumption.

To amplify the Ainherent rewards@ of making up your own mind, we might say: Abecause it is fun,@ or, Afeels good.@ Like other evolved capacities which are kept because they work, pleasure, in time, also becomes ingrained with them. As with sex, so with thinking; both are natural and consequently Afeel good.@ Orgasms and creative thinking are both fun Abecause they work@ and are functional in the overall economy of fuller living in our given world.

Aside from inherent pleasures, there are, certainly, many favorable results which can be anticipated whenever I dare think for myself, rather than taking the easy but spiritually disastrous path of AOther Direction (being dictated by others).@ First, statistically speaking, the best decisions in any arena are always made when more data is taken into consideration. The more we Atake into account,@ the greater our chances of Agetting it right.@ For example, habit-made or image-dictated decisions, where we, in effect, act without thinking (at least, for ourselves), are always extremely limited in the amount of information utilized. We simply Ado what we did before,@ or, Ado what the voices say,@ whenever we Ago by habit@ or Aact-out@ imaged forces.

But when we think for ourselves we add present factors, plus more of our personal experience, to the recognized powers of habits and images. I, in the larger sense of myself, think of more than Awhat comes to me@ whenever I Athink consciously,@ rather than act like a zombie only. Not that dark forces, such as, the memory of mother=s voice, or ghosts of ancient fears, are not recognized and considered; but rather that they are. Instead of merely acting them out, as though I have no mind of my own, I remain open to these powers, seeing them in my mind=s eye, instead of blindly obeying them, leaving myself less of a person than I, in reality, am.

Energies preciously consumed in Astaying on top of@ my images, trying to deny them in awareness, working to Akeep them buried@ (like trying to swim while keeping 7 basketballs, or more, under the surface of the pool), are now made available for more realistically confronting, even de-coding, these dark powers with which I assume we all live. Not that they go away when seen, but that I come forth when I look at them; then, rather than simply Ataking orders@ as it were, I may add the additional powers of reason to the forces of darkness. I may, in fact, still follow their directives; but with the added light of logic, I sometimes make wiserC and more rewarding in the long run, decisions than when I remain mindless. Even when I fail to Abe sensible,@ giving myself over to dictation, still, through the choice to acquiesce rather giving blind allegiance to the voices, I expand myself.

Wiser decisions are more likely, I find, when I include attention to imaged powers, rather than Atrying to ignore them.@ Certainly the voice of larger wisdom is often (always?) contained, though distorted, even in those images which seem more negative or threatening to me. Images, need I remind myself, are not inherently Abad.@ They are simply an early stage of all human experience; my larger human calling (possibility) is not to negate or destroy images, but rather to de-code and re-absorb powers previously projected in to them. I cannot do this, however, when I try to ignore or Alive on top@ of them.

Summary: thinking for myself includes attention to, indeed begins with recognition of, the images which move me whenever I am not thinking; but it doesn=t end there. With dark forces teased into the light of awareness, whenever I find the nerve to think for myself, I carefully consider their preciously unfaced Ainformation@ (what they Amean to me,@ or, are Atrying to tell me@) along with other knowledge available to me from experiences they did not dictate. In colloquial language, I add Areason@ to Afeeling,@ Asense@ to Anon-sense;@ while examining and respecting the unseen Aknowledge@ of my images, I also consider what I myself, as a separate and unique individual have learned in my own School of Hard Knocks.

If, for instance, I find myself Abeating my head against a stone wall,@ when I think for myself, adding reason to habit, I may decide that continual bloodying is a habit I will no longer choose. But even if I keep on for awhile, finding change too hard at the time, I feel better because I have decided for myself rather than remaining a non-self automaton.

Well, I tire now of thinking (and sitting); so, thinking for myself, at least this once, I think I=ll go eat lunch.

xxxx

SELF MAKING

I create myself by personifying my actual experience, that is, by honestly activating my livingness. "I" am in the events of my aliveness, the encounters between my genetic and social systems and the rest of the world, of which I am also a part.

Literally, I am a metaphor, that is, "I" is a metaphorical representation, a language symbol, for what in reality exists only in the events of my experiencing; non-experiencing, "I" do not exist. "I" is but a grammatical noun, a subject for the verb, being, when I am being and speaking myself; otherwise I exist silently, unstated in my aliveness, as long as I am alive.

"In the events..." where I exist, to be more literal, should read "in the eventing"--implying the lively, on-going nature of being myself. "Events," finally, are not discrete, separable nouns. Rather they are moving participles which can only be frozen in reality by pushing the pause-button of consciousness on the VCR of Life.

All "its," finally, are illusions, including "I" as an it, a separable entity. All livingness is inter-connected so long as life remains. I, so long as (or whenever) I am, am truly a-part-of all I experience. The appearance of separable entities--I versus its--is only a "seems like," not an "it is."

No it which is alive is truly an it, except for thought or grammatical purposes. Livingness, apart from conscious thinking and speech, is eventing--and all such events remain inter-connected, only appearing to be separable, able to stand alone.

To be is to seem-to-be a-part-from, while actually existing as a-part-of. When I think: "I am experiencing such and such..." as though "I" exist apart from the experiencing of such and such, I fool myself. I may correctly think "I am experiencing..." as a grammatical way of stating my aliveness as it seems-to-be, but when I forget that this is only grammar for seems-to-be, I err. In reality I exist and remain as a-part-of what I am presently experiencing.

To think of "having an experience"--as though I exist apart from the experience which "I," as a separable entity, am "having"--that is, to take the possessive word "having" literally, is to fall into the same error. All possession, in reality, is proper grammar but an illusion in reality. I may properly think of myself as having--an experience or anything else, but since "I" or "myself" do not exist as an entity in reality, I cannot possess any other it, including "an experience." Literally speaking, I can only say "I-am-experiencing...," meaning that I exist in the event of the stated experience, but not as a separable one who "has" or possesses the experience.

Understanding this critical distinction between proper thought (which in English grammar requires subjects and verbs) and literal reality, I may proceed to further distinguish "my experiencing" as it seems-to-me--that is, I may further refine "myself" in my awareness by distinguishing the various experiences of which I am capable. Always, however, while remaining myself, I will remember, lest I lose myself in grammatical abstractions, that I am playing a mental game with the human capacity for consciousness.

For example, when I am aware (conscious of) seeing-a-tree, an experience of one of my human sense capacities, namely, vision, I may properly think--this is the nature of awareness, "I am seeing a tree." I may also abstract further by thinking, "I am having an experience of seeing a tree" (implying possession of the experience). As ways of forming experiencing into consciousness, exercising the latest gift of human evolution, these are accurate and self-creating statements. Indeed, this is the very nature of self-making. I come to exist when I dare to affirm any of the experiences of which I am created capable of having. Vision is one way; smell, touch, etc. are others.

But I err whenever I slip in my awareness from the immediate confirmation of my present experiencing, properly stated as, "I am seeing a tree" (or, "I see a tree," or, "I am having the experience of seeing a tree"), into the illusion that I exist as a separable entity which would still be present in the absence of any such experiencing. In reality, when all "my" experiencing is shut off, so am "I." (Experiencing, of course, is more than consciousness; I continue to experience, so long as I live, when asleep also.)

Self-making is the defining or sharpening of my particular borders of encounter with the larger world beyond my skin and sense ranges. Self-making is daring to affirm what I know--that is, knowing-what-I-know. "Knowing" is a general symbol for "experiencing." I "know" what I "experience." Primary knowing may be thought of as "ceiving" and "per-ceiving"--that is, "grasping" (the meaning of the Latin word, ceive) or, more fully, "per," meaning "thoroughly" ceiving, "getting it" more thoroughly or completely. For instance, I "ceive" a tree when it falls within my range of vision; I "per-ceive" a tree when I bring it into sharper focus.

The event of experiencing comes into its fuller human possibility when ceiving and per-ceiving are combined in con-ceiving, that is, when my primal, bodily experiencing (the capacity I share with all living creatures) is carried over into con-sciousness (the latest evolved capacity more fully present in Homo sapiens than, so far as we know, in any other creatures) on the way to Stage Four. "Scious" = knowing, in Latin; "con" = with, hence, con-scious = with-knowing. "Ceiving" and "per-ceiving" are knowing; "con-ceiving" is moving knowing over into the mental "space" for "withness"--where I may "hold" what I know in "mind space" just as it actually exists in real space. This is Stage Three of the Creative Process.

I may know (ceive) without consciousness (for example, how-to-suck); I may also, with this latest human capacity, add knowing to my primal, animal capacity to know; I may also know (hold in "mind space")-what-I-know (experience in real space). I may both experience and know my experience--that is, be con-scious (with-knowing) of what I am experiencing. Ceiving and perceiving are knowing; conceiving is the addition of holding-what-I-know in consciousness.

It is this addition (con-sciousness) which makes the final move to selfhood possible. I create or become myself when I dare to bring my perceptions into con-sciousness, to "hold," as it were, what I ceive in "mind space," and then dare to absorb this Aseeing@-- to know, to know-what-I-know, and finally to become-my-knowing. I am self ("being myself") when I am knowing (consciously affirming and absorbing) my own experiencing.

The present degree of human evolution also allows me many possible distinctions in my overall capacity for experiencing awarely. I am capable of a vast number of discernments, of distinguishing between this and that, within the broad (though quite limited) range of human sense-perceptions. In the world which is and remains inextricably connected, I can draw a near infinite number of mental lines between the shades and degrees of my experiencing capacities. Senses--seeing, hearing, etc., are the basis for my most primal discriminations or mental line-drawings. "This," for instance, "I see; that I hear." I can, with my sense capacities for seeing and hearing, distinguish between "sights" and "sounds."

Before exploring the many categories and various degrees of discriminations we as humans are capable of making, the first and most primal may be noted: namely, "I" versus "it." Self or "I" is at the very heart of all other discriminations. Before there can be an "it" there must be "I." "It" is a neuter pronoun capable of representing any discernment AI@ am capable of making in the world. It is, literally, the largest and most inclusive of all our available words. "It" can stand for anything, any perception--tangible or intangible, male or female, out-there or in-here, etc.

Thus the most primary of all other distinctions is that between I and it. If we understand this basic difference, others which tend to get confusing may be more clearly conceived. "It" stands for any and all that I am capable of ceiving, perceiving, and hence, conceiving. "It," for example, may be a rock, a tree, a number, an idea, or a person. "It," literally, represents all that AI@ may know.

What then is the true relationship between "I" and all my "its," "me" and all that I may perceive? The first and most critical issue is the one implied above, namely, the recognition that they are all "seems-likes." In reality, apart from my perceptions, I am a-part-of all that I "seem-to" perceive as an "it." No "it" is literally separable from "I." Because of the nature of human perception and the capacity for consciousness, I perceive things as "its," as though they are "not I," but this is not about the true nature of my Aits," as much as is about the nature of human perception itself.

All that I perceive as an "it"--tangible or intangible, out-there or in-here--is literally, my-perception. It seems-as-though "I," separate from "it," perceive "it" as separate from myself the perceiver; but in reality I am only changing my perceptions of my connections with the apparent "its" conscious. I am, actually, only making my perceptions into conceptions. The only place they exist as discrete entities is in the privacy of my personal "mind space." Literally, they are neither out-there nor in-here (in "mind space"), but rather they exist in the event of my own experiencing. A tree, for example does seem-to exist "out-there" totally separate from myself; or, if I am "thinking" in the absence of a "real" tree--remembering a tree I have seen before, it does seem-like the tree then exists in my "mind." These, however, both the tree "out-there" and the image of a tree "in here," are seems-likes. In fact, my visual connections, my a-part-of-ness with this portion of reality which my senses are able to "grasp" (ceive), are simply being realized in my awareness. I seem-to-be separate (I versus it), but in reality I am a-part-of all that I am capable of perceiving.

Said in reverse: It--whatever "it" may be--is I, or, conversely, I--whatever I perceive--am it. The distinctions are, metaphorically speaking, Aall in my mind.@ When I think or speak about what-I-perceive (what I "get" out-there), I am simply giving mental shape to my own perceptions. All the "its" that I perceive are actually parts of who "I" am, which seem-to-be separate because of the nature of human perception.

AAll (all "its"),@ we might say, Ais perception.@ All that exists--insofar as "I" am concerned--is, literally, what I am created capable of perceiving. If I can't "get it," it doesn't exist for me. This statement: "All is perception," is to be understood in the context of "I" or myself; it is a subjective affirmation, not an objective statement about "reality" itself. It is a personal confession, not a godly declaration about "the world at large" or that which may or may not exist separate and apart from me. I cannot, if I remain truthful (stay myself) make any objective statement because I only exist subjectively and am therefore limited to subjective statements from my own experience, including all these I make here.

Stated otherwise, "all is perception" is not about "all that is"--the supposed "objective world" apart from me. The literal meaning is: "all that I perceive is perception." But to insert the italicized phrase intended to clarify only reduces the first statement to "not saying anything."

Here I may seem-to-be talking about how-it-is, as though I were an objective (impersonal) observer of "reality" (placed in quotes to imply something apart from myself); in fact I am speaking about how-it-is-to-me. The objective "sound" of these words is inherent in the nature of speech itself, as with all other "its," rather than in my intended meaning which the words may possibly convey. In other words, the "all" in "all is perception" is about "all-I-see" rather about all-that-is separate from my seeing.