Skip to content

Reflections to share with adolescents

Reflections to share with adolescents who may be wondering about affect: its role in relationships, in adolescents’ future, in mythology, and in all of Creation. How does it figure in the choice between what is Real and unreal, True and false, Good and evil? Why does it matter?

The usual poetic content is heavy with subjective thought and feeling. Grief and romantic Love are common types of feeling but there are others. Many are related to the values listed in my piece on adolescence [Thirteen: Reflections on Character and Values at the Beginning of Adolescence. 08/28/21]  T.R. Hummer’s non-rhyming poem, “My Mother in Bardo” (New Yorker 01/24/22 p. 50), is an example of a poem infused with grief. But if I’m assigned to compose a rhyming poem and I have no particular talent for lyrics, I might produce something lifeless, without affect.

Literature and poetry in particular say a lot about who we are and what’s important to us. For adolescents coming into their own it can be an effective way to gain self-awareness. If they feel a sense of loss, say, for a deceased grandparent, they might express it in a non-rhyming poem. It might be strikingly different from a poem whose search for originality, beauty, or other effect is through rhyme.

Before the Big Bang

Absence of affect in subjective, creative expression is a red flag. For an adolescent it might or might not have implications for character development, but, if so, they can run deep. Star Wars mythology is based on it. What turned Adam Skywalker toward the dark side and service to Palpatine, the galactic emperor? What made the galactic empire evil? Absence of affect.

Explaining Why requires theorizing with Logic about the antecedents of our material universe -- what I call “Reality-Creation.” It preceded the Big Bang, exists in parallel with our material universe, and heavily influences our behavior and its consequences beyond our awareness. It holds sway over the origin and fate of the universe and the meaning of life. Its context is Mind-Love, not spacetime-matter. I use initial caps to set terminology that is of this other Reality apart from the lower case of our un-reality.

The “Child” is the One we were in Reality before the Child lost Consciousness and became the many. While unconscious, it mis-identified with its shadow-reflection, went into a dream state corrupted by its shadow-code, dreamed our un-reality, replicated itself in isolated-separated human bodies, projected the material world detected by their bodies’ senses, and continues to replicate itself within its dream world under the influence of its shadow-reflection. An explanation for all this is the subject of my book-in-progress with the working title, The Story of the Child.

Affect is feeling -- emotional sensitivity. Feeling is value or Worth – things cared for. Gifts with talents the Child was given at birth with which to exercise Free Choice in Creation. Affect is rooted in Mother-Love, the source of all feeling in the Child’s phase of Reality-Creation.

The dis-integration of Love from Mind

The Child has Free Will or Free Choice because the Child is Free Choice, its role in Reality-Creation. In the Child’s phase with Free Choice, the loss of Consciousness produced a dream-world of un-reality where all ideas-thoughts and their associated feelings have opposites. Opposites are the reverse mirror-image shadow-reflection of the Child and all of its values, all of its gifts including its talents.

The code that defines all opposites is derived from the Child’s Being. The code is non-being. Which means it’s insane. Nuts. The appearance of a “system” which is the opposite of system. A system ruled not by laws but by chaos -- arbitrary rule where “rules” apply to everybody but the ruler. The reverse mirror-image of sanity, what we know as the “dark side.” Everyone and everything in our un-reality has a shadow-opposite. A dark side. No exceptions.

What makes the dark side “possible” in the dream state is the separation of Love-feeling from Mind-thought. The marriage between Father Mind / Logic-Choice and Mother Love / Freedom-Creativity not only produced the Child. It’s what holds all the Implications and Interconnections of Reality-Creation together. In our un-reality that integration is gone. Science’s search for a perfectly ordered, perfectly integrated cosmos ended over a century ago and now it’s even giving up on a cosmos that just makes sense. Because it doesn’t. Meanwhile, the judgment we need to manage human affairs, to maintain order in harmony, is equally dis-integrated. It needs to be constantly re-integrated, constantly pieced together, in all our choices.

The Reality-Creation of Consciousness knows nothing of shadows, reflections, or opposites. So, shadow-opposites played no part in the Child’s Conscious exercise of Free Choice in Reality. In un-reality it’s different. “Dark side” shadow-reflections very much represent a choice for us, the unconscious Child’s replications. The choice between Right and wrong, Good and evil, where good values-gifts are the product of Mind integrated with Love-affect and their evil shadow opposites are the product of Mind absent Love-affect. We choose correctly when we discipline our thoughts and feelings, our ideas and values, always to keep Love combined with Mind.

The pussycat “Lord Vader”

One of the traits that distinguish personality types is variation in levels of affect-feeling. In importance attributed to values because feeling is value rooted in Love, the Mother of everything cared for, everything of Worth. What distinguishes character is its values.

Adam Skywalker belonged to a personality type described in Isabel Myers’ Gifts Differing. He “went over to the dark side” because his type’s level of affect-feeling and therefore his character was relatively shallow. Absence of affect-feeling translates to a relatively shallow-weak connection with the Good-positive and therefore a relatively strong susceptibility to, or attraction for, the shadow-negative.

The choice posed by Good-positive – who we are in Reality -- and evil-negative – our shadow in un-reality -- pulls different personality types in different directions. The son Luke Skywalker’s character was relatively deep with feeling-affect, strongly anchored to values, and therefore less susceptible to the attraction of shadow-opposites. The character of Darth Vader – “Dark Father” – was relatively weak with feeling-affect, loosely anchored to values, and therefore more susceptible. Adam Skywalker, who became the mythic “Lord Vader” feared by trembling subordinates, was a personality weakling -- a pussycat. Captives of shadow-reflections can impress with the appearance of strength but their reality is weakness.

Lack of values rooted in affect-feeling translates to a weak or missing internal moral compass. To a weak sense of right vs. wrong -- a lack of conscience. To insensitivity and therefore to predilection for cruelty. What defines the galactic empire and its emperor Palatine as “evil” is an absence of affect-feeling. It’s defined by Mind-thought without Love-value and therefore as character without conscience: insensitive and prone to cruelty. It becomes a universe where harm is done and pain inflicted because it is not felt, because character and values don’t matter.

Guidance from Isabel Myers’ Gifts Differing

Isabel Myers’ Gifts Differing intuits clues from personality types to differences that can account for and predict relative attraction for the dark side. The ESFP type with relatively weak feeling-judgment is a type that, if it’s not disciplined by its social culture, can be misled into shadow-opposites and wrongdoing. It happens to be the type exhibited by the current idol of the Republican party, a body-matter idolater, serial wrong-doer, and a menace to democracy, civilization, and world order. But any type weak on affect-feeling and character-values is a candidate.

My piece about adolescence listed both positive values and their shadow-opposites – the dark side. What an interest in the opposites might indicate about an adolescent’s developing personality type we don’t know. We do know that an ‘S’ (sensing) in preference to an ‘I’ (intuition) would fit an engineer or craftsman working with material objects. Sensing would account, say, for a poem engineered rather than intuited. Intuited, that is, from psyche or soul, from thoughts-feelings stored in humanity’s collective Memory.

We also know that Gifts Differing can help predict choices that different types tend to make and therefore where on balance they may be headed: To promoting humanitarian kindness and freedom (the Jedi Knights) or engaging in inhumane cruelty and oppression (the galactic empire). Definitive conclusions can’t be drawn by outside observers. They can only be drawn by subjects themselves who monitor their personality types – the building of character through their preferences.

While Isabel distinguishes between the light and dark sides the distinction is indirect. It’s implied, for example by reference to “wrongdoing,” inadequate consideration of costs, shallowness, insincerity, and other tendencies. But otherwise her “feeling” doesn’t account for dark side opposites. The difference between thinking (T) and feeling (F) isn’t necessarily what she’s intuited. Nevertheless, the difference is significant and deserves reflection. All of the differences – between introvert-extravert, sensing-intuition, thinking-feeling, and judging-perceptive – are relevant for types’ tendencies toward positive values and their opposites and therefore toward their subjects’ ultimate ending in fulfillment or disappointment.

The turning point: adolescence

Adolescence is a critical phase in establishing these tendencies. It’s the phase when Luke Skywalker committed to the cause of the Jedi Knights after the loss of his foster parents. It’s the phase when his father, Adam, started to part with Obi-Wan, his Jedi trainer, betray the Jedi cause, and go over to the empire. For many, our personal fortunes literally hang in the balance when we are adolescents.

May Affect be with you!

It was just a polite request:
Make me understand, and you did
With definitions at first, words
That frame a thought and then
We moved on
To the thoughts themselves and where
They come from

Make up a story you said,
And so I did, a fable from out of nowhere
And then a poem
That made them wonder more

Questions I couldn’t leave alone
And what for? And so I moved on
Trailed by my retinue of words
Definitions, thoughts, questions
Skimming the surface unaware
Of what lay below

I thought to get at it that day
My friend and I, Royal Portable, but not now
Just the California sun to caress my soul
The wonder of it all, the life yet to be lived
With nothing yet to say, so the publisher
Was right

Blank again the page and silence its message
Staring back at me when next I tried
In earnest, not content to feel
I would meet you upon this honestly
But who are you? What is it that’s there?

[to be continued]

3

Encased in every word is the memory of what gave rise to it
Events in human experience that caused a thought
Or discovery, that brought forth a feeling
Of melancholy or joy, regret or pleasure, satisfaction
Or despair.

Encased in every word is the story of how it came to be
And the message it has just for us alone
In the place where we are at
If we will let it flow through our minds and hearts
Our bodies, their sensations

Affect us until we alight in its place like a butterfly
In a clearing
Come to a woodland of strange and wonderful sights
Creatures of sound and movement, touching
And laughter wanting us to be there with them
Their place of wonder

With poetry
With words
Our friends

To a friend with love and whimsy
Saint Patrick’s Day March 17, 2021

Inspired by P Is For Poetry: Poems from Irish Poets
Edited by Seamus Cashman, Illustrated by Corinna Askin and Alan Clarke
(The O’Brien Press, Dublin, 2020)

Flitting in and out of others’ lives
Wondering what’s in it for me
Where what seems important
Comes and goes and isn’t worth much

Remember me mind and heart who stood
For something not in and out
Comes and goes, that speaks of Worth
Beyond time that can be shared

That doesn’t need for what’s here and gone
To be around to do Good
That’s not owned or controlled or used
To gain advantage
To be more than us or better than us

That’s only used to put minds at rest
And comfort knowing
That nothing can ever come between us

This is how I want to be remembered
When I think of you.

The warmth and light from time
The fire that consumes all evidence of my being
Draws me to it in my grief

As if its embers home to my tears
Could bring us back together again
As if the dog curled up by the fireplace
And those of us still living

Could summon forth those who are not
Could restore the tenderness
That flickered in my child’s soul

A moment of having and touching
Before it was taken away

Memory

The Peace that we all crave
Can be found in one place

In the Memory

Of who we really are, that we all share
That resides within our Mind
That will guide us Home if we will let it.

The Story of the Child is the Story
That our Memory wants us all to know
What our Memory wants to tell us

Because it’s our Story

Our connection to Reality, Truth
And the meaning of Life
Because it’s our Path

That will lead us Home

His god is a lie that does not exist
That hangs over no man’s land like a flare in the night

That casts the dream in the shadows of its evil
Willing us to kill, willing us to die.

I rush across no man’s land to meet his god
Who wishes me dead, there in his trench

The enemy who begs to be killed with a hug
And I pray to my god who wishes him dead

Let me do this
Let us go.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Explanation

Students of the modern Gnostic version of Christianity taught by Jesus in A Course in Miracles learn that our minds are corrupted by irrational beliefs that place us in a hellish world where we project our guilt onto others to regain our lost innocence. It is within this no man’s land of condemnation and endless deadly conflict, that’s depicted in this poem, that the Christian message of forgiveness – “love thine enemy” – must be absorbed and put to use.

We can undo the deception in principle by reasoning, with ACIM, that we did not sin in Reality when we lost conscious connection with our Source. Reinforcing this message is the point of my forthcoming book. But in this world of separate bodies meant to absorb and inflict punishment, reason doesn’t stand much chance against the passions of fear and hatred.

Though it’s unreal, our no man’s land is a place “where the unreal has been made real.” It is within this hellish environment that overwhelms our sensibilities, our pitiful attempts at reasoning, with its ear-splitting clamor for deception and passion, that I have tried to imagine the only way to put a stop to it. Instead of savaging my “enemy” in his trench, I need only to give him a loving hug. “The hug” would then represent the precise moment when the deception is undone, and its illusory vision of hell is removed from my mind.

It will do this not by my killing the person but by killing what makes the person in my mind my “enemy.” My enemy begs to be “killed” with a hug because only then, with a gesture of Love, will innocence be restored to the image of him that exists within my mind. Only then can the innocent person that he really is be spared from the projection of my own imagined guilt, from my condemnation, and my savage attack.

What the poem tries to convey is an honest humility, if not total despair, in the presence of a simple request that asks the impossible, that I love my “enemy” at precisely the point when my external circumstances and the passions they invoke overwhelm my humanity. I acknowledge its impossibility because I have no pretensions, at this stage of my training, of being a role model for forgiveness under any such circumstances.

Should I ever encounter my enemy in his trench, for real, of this I am certain: giving him a hug instead of making him pay for his infuriating offenses, his inflammatory provocations, will have to be a pure act of Grace. It will occur because another Mind – the Child’s right mind – has gently moved my corrupted mind out of the way. And only then if I have truly asked for it. It will do this if it has finally trained my corrupted mind to reject the deception of guilt and to affirm the Truth of Innocence. Otherwise, my clear expectation is that I would kill the bastard.

Praying to the darkness – to “my god who wishes him dead.” – to allow the hug to happen. is an admission that my mind is not ruled by reason in this world. It’s ruled by madness or I would not be so desperate for help that it would occur to me to ask an executioner practiced in cruelty -- the god of war -- for help with an act of compassion.

But “The Hug” is not the hopeless capitulation that it may seem. My training continues. The Holy Spirit speaks for the Truth, and, in time, the deception will lose its force. “Where the Trouble Lies” notes that energy, the force that keeps the illusion of material reality in place, is dying out. The illusion is in a state of entropy, coming apart. Our bodies will find a better use, and our passions, too.

What put my “enemy” there was hating him in the first place, before he committed any offense. What put him there was fear and hatred in my own mind that needs to revert back to its natural state of Love – back to Reality. The restoration of Reality, with our Free Will doing its part, is inevitable. Reason will prevail. The innocent Child that we really are will prevail. I am sure of it. My “enemy” will get his hug.

There is yet another meaning to the poem that’s implied by its military setting: conflict between opposing armies whose combatants have surrendered their individual sovereignty, and thus free choice, to a group, presumably to their respective countries. The “barriers to an awareness of Love’s presence” ACIM speaks of are many, and this is one of them: signing onto groups – employers, professions, organized causes, faiths, etc. -- that then superimpose their imperatives for survival onto our freely-chosen personal morality.

The “Sophie’s Choice” that The Hug presents is between loyalty to the ethics of individual free choice or to the amoral dictates of our group masters. In praying to the god of war – to Caesar – for permission to hug my “enemy,” I am asking, in effect, for manumission: for release from subservience to his army so that I may exercise free will and reclaim my integrity, my spirituality. I seek freedom from the curse of humanity: serving two masters, doing what’s right while “following orders” – an impossibility. We don't often have the option of separating from organizations that feed us, that trap us in situations where our only choice is some form of death no matter what we decide. If there remains a tone of discouragement, of hopelessness to "The Hug," this would account for it.

One last burst of energy while my leaves are turning
An opening in the act of closing

Made possible by entropy
The letting go of all that held me together

My fate in the fate of a universe
That lets us all open up as we close

As it closes

Obliged no more to maintain appearances
Obliged no more to pretend

When what was true all along opens up
And leads us along, children that we are

Our tiny hands held in the warmth of a hand
That knows no guile

That wonders no less than we what it’s all about
But, somehow, knows where the trouble lies.