Christianity Points Beyond Itself

Christianity points, as is true of all major religions whose basis is love, to something larger, something more wonderful still. The essence within and beyond the creative energy of the universe. The energy that beckons us to let it move through us in amazingly creative ways. The energy that longs to satisfy the deepest yearnings of our soul.

Organized religion falls prey to the same temptations inherent in all communities in the physical world: will to power and greed. The idea that for there to be winners there must be losers. That there must be rules and regulations, doctrine and dogma in order for belief in and worship of a higher power to triumph.

Spirituality is something else indeed. It speaks of the action of man attempting to access his inner self and the action of the universe helping him do just that.

Physical life is an opportunity to allow the energy and creativity in our spiritual center emerge and function uniquely in the material world through our personality. The energy of the human spirit longs to mimic the activity of its source and thus become in union with the ground of all being, the power behind love.

(Note: an essay linked in theme can be found in “All Our Costliest Treasures Bring” under MEDITATIONS)

Temperament–Our Personal Wild Card

We all know about the influence that comes to us from both heredity and environment.  But nobody talks much about temperament–the personality’s wild card.

The Greeks spoke of  humours–various phenomena that affected certain organs of the body–lungs, kidneys, liver, heart–and enabled or prevented good health.  More recently psychologists have looked at those humours in terms of temperaments.  The general consensus is that one of these four psychic energy levels dominates in each of us.

Phlegmatic is the least energetic.  Fritz Kunkel calls him the Clinging Vine who has to depend on someone else for meaning in life.  Melancholic has more energy but not enough to dominate, so when he’s overwhelmed he retreats into his shell like a Turtle.  Choleric is the Nero, spitting fire and running the show (guess which one I was!).  And Sanguine shines with creativity like a Star.  The trouble is, unlike a celestial body which needs no audience, the Star temperament needs someone constantly applauding and supporting him.

Our temperament is not inherited and may not even correspond to that of either parent or any one of our grandparents.

We move around from one temperament position to another, depending on relationships and situations.  But rather early in life one predominates and influences our personality perhaps even more than heredity or environment.

These temperaments can be seen to correspond to Carl Jung’s personality traits–feeling, sensation, thinking, and intuition and also to Northrop Frye’s literary genres of romantic, tragic, ironic, and comic.  I found these temperaments to fit with the OK positions (Thomas Harris); Erikson’s psychosocial stages of development; the four basic elements–water, earth, fire, air–and others as well.  We can gain insight into our personalities from pondering these grids, just as we can from thinking about the mottos we have adopted and the games we play.

We may by sheer will power change our mottos and games, but our predominating temperament remains the same.  All temperaments circle the inner region of the psyche, but we are not able to touch the center of the Self (the Original Goodness) without a transformation.  When we freely decide to cooperate with the transformation process by giving permission to an inner power to make us whole, we become this Original Goodness and thereafter no temperament rules our lives.

Games We Play

Eric Berne, in his 1964 Games People Play, showed us a side of ourselves we perhaps had not seen.  His list of ‘games’ touched such a chord that thereafter and even now we can hear someone label an attitude of another as a game of ‘Ain’t it Awful’ or ‘Blemish.’

Berne showed how impossible it is to stop someone’s game, no matter how many approaches we take.  And even labeling others’ games may also be a projection of our own.

It is unfortunate that we seem to spend so much time playing personality games that either no one can win or  in order for one to win someone has to lose.  What we all really want are satisfactory relationships with each other.  What we really want is not another episode of ‘Mine’s Better Than Yours’ or ‘Yes, But…’ but rather a game-free environment where we can laugh and joke and exchange creative ideas.  Or at least that’s what something deep inside us wants.

Sometimes I find if I exaggerate the awfulness or suggest a preposterous solution or switch to the awfulness of something that is really quite delightful, I can change the direction of a conversation.  Often it is not easy.  I think perhaps we’ve forgotten how to give each other pleasure and meaning in conversation.  And perhaps this comes from our inability to give ourselves authentic pleasure.

Berne talks about our deep desire for intimacy in relationships, not in sexual terms but rather in terms of our deepest self–the self that wants to be whole, that wants to embrace all of life in order to extract the most meaning, that wants to ponder and explore.  I am convinced that the energy of the universe is concentrated on that win-win desire for everyone.