Otto Rank, on Darwin

“By supplanting this doctrine of creation with the doctrine of progressive evolution, Darwin established a mechanical conception of organic life that suited the machine age, and led far beyond biology to a new conception of education and government. Yet what seemed to him and others so revolutionary an idea was in effect an admission that man is not his own creator and an acceptance of uncontrollable happenings which determine our destiny. Thus, with Darwin, man accepted a natural development of which he is not the creator but the creature, not the master but the victim. The well-known fact that the scientist published his epoch-making work only after twenty years of doubtful hesitation is not explained by his fear of shocking the world, but by his inner resistance to renouncing man’s creativity while he himself was creating his own man-made universe.” (Otto Rank, Beyond Psychology)

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Blood of Animals

Fed by the blood of animals-travelling circles in our hearts
While the faint stab of chemicals is sending us signals in the dark
As the planets stir so the colors could find a way
For our souls to play

You spoke to me like a criminal-of the violence inherent in the stars
All your nightmares so beautiful-playing over and over in the dark
About a blinding death that was sending me to the grave
Won’t you see me someday?

When all this Emptiness merged in timeless energy
All our primitive thoughts dissolve
All our enemies we’ve made won’t mean anything at all

 

 

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When Understanding is Dealt its Premature Consolation

We find ourselves trapped within narrowing psychic space. The nightly irruption of dream into consciousness is what little remains of our encounter with the Nameless. And in these days, the waking have little use for dreams.

But the body is ancient; her wells run deep. Into each blooming and buzzing moment, she draws forth matter into living pattern. She draws, and is drawn together, from the cataracts of her cosmic birth, through depths the egoic mind dare not fathom.  She knows nothing of names.

Human thought emerges from no shallower a source. A novel dimension of that first creative burst, thought indeed holds the power to call forth new worlds into existence. Yet by its very power it becomes entranced, encumbered by its own delusions.

We are beset from all sides by mystery.  Out of fear, we seek contentment within the confines of certainty. This, of course, is an impossible dream. Nevertheless, there we enshrine our familiar categories. There we speak a calcified language that experience has outgrown. There we stagnate.

Like an anxiolytic regimen, our prejudice suppresses symptoms, and silences the deeper yearnings of a Being that still remembers Itself.  But among the idols of our lexicon, the Nameless finds no purchase. We have become dull to silent wisdom.

The human need for understanding, like the very Universe from which it springs, is an expansive impulse; it carries the imagination through cosmic adventures of increasing self-awareness- and self-amazement. Every broadened horizon brings the Intuition to a new station of life-affirming wonder.

But our growth is stunted, our organs of perception stultified,  as understanding is dealt its premature consolation.  We no longer possess the capacity to recognize our own selves, for we hide behind the artifice of what we already expected to find.

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Otto Rank, Beyond Psychology

“Man has always lived beyond psychology, in other words, irrationally. If we can grasp this paradoxical fact and accept it as the basis of our own living, then we shall be able to discover new values in place of the old ones which seem to be crumbling before our very eyes- vital human values, not mere psychological interpretations predetermined by our preferred ideologies . . . Yet, for such a re-discovery of the natural self of man, it is not sufficient to see the importance of the irrational element in human life and point it out in rational terms! On the contrary, it is necessary actually to live it and of this only a few individuals in every epoch seem to be capable. They represent the heroic type- as distinct from the creative – for the original hero was the one who dared live beyond the accepted “psychology” or ideology of his time. In this sense he is the prototype of the rebellious man of action who, through the revival of lost values which appear as new and irrational, preserves the eternal values of humanity” (Otto Rank, Beyond Psychology, 1939).

The irrational unconscious lives within and through us, and despite our best efforts to rationalize it through language and scientific analysis, it continues to live, beyond their grasp. The Nameless lives in spite of its names. Meanwhile, we put post-it on the ocean, and think we have explained something. Our rationality is part of the greater, irrational universal scheme of things, but its narrowly applicable understanding finds itself out of its depths amidst currents of meaning unbound by the intellect. But as long as we shy away from these deeper realms, and stay safe within the boundaries of rational understanding, we remain alien to the eternal values of our nature. To this end, we must at once value what our rational minds can achieve, while opening up space in our lives for encounters with the irrational, the unexplained, the awe-inspiring, the paradoxical, the Silence, the Void.

As an over-reaction to the shadow side of the historical religious-spiritual domain, the modern rational mind seeks to explain away all in rational, neatly-defined terms. But balance must be maintained, and this over-reaction has brought to the fore the shadow side of the uber-rational mind. Through our own cunningness, we have woven ourselves into a reality so thoroughly convincing that we rarely feel the need to look outside of it. But the moments do come, when we sense something more.


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