Fulfilment

I have just been tending my little window box herb garden. It is not in a window, but hanging suspended behind my trellis where it won’t get too much Queensland sun. All the seeds I planted have sprouted. So satisfying.

Listening to one of my very retro songs on one of my very retro Spotify playlists. Desmond Dekker. Israelites. I was transported back to one of the more enjoyable and satisfying of the many jobs I’d had before I turned twenty five and finally started on the path to what became my career in public health.

That song was being pounded on the radio. We heard it maybe three or four times in a day as we worked in the Yates Nursery located in Te Papapa, Onehunga. It was a holiday job. I drove to work in my old Morris Oxford with a nine foot Atlas Woods surfboard on the roof rack. It was a long commute from Henderson.

I liked that job most of all the employment I’d had until then. If I’d had any realistic goals at all at the time, I might have chosen to become a nurseryman. I loved working with seedlings and shade houses, pots and potting mix.

It would be years before desperation and a spot of serendipity led me to the wondrous opportunity to be paid while I studied and trained to become a health inspector. By that time, I was almost twenty five, and I’d calculated i had worked at twenty three jobs including holiday employment. I’m going to list them all. This may take some time. I’m not sure I can get the timeline right.

To be continued.

How Did I Get Here?

Reprise: First Posted on  by 

A year ago today, I wrote of the Australia Day Breakfast, and that it did not have my official sanction.  I am pleased to report that this year the event is authorised by a permit issued with my signature, and the Shire citizens were served safe, sanctioned sausages. The  Lions can take pride in the knowledge that they are doing the Right Thing.

In that entry a year ago, I casually mentioned that closing the event down might have been my second Great Career-Limiting Move.  Glenn suggested that I relate the story of the first.

Twelve months later, I have finally got around to it.

Considering it now, from here, it was indeed a very significant event in my life.  That one action pretty much defined my life from that time on for good and ill.  It eventually led me down a new path that culminated with me being here, now, alone, and not somewhere else, possibly with someone else, but certainly with a completely different history behind me. Some alternate universes may have in them some bum named Alan sleeping under a bridge somewhere, about to expire of consumption and exposure, and yet another Alan leading a happily united world into an era of peace and plenty, merely because of some other slight twist in the plot of life.

Whatever fanciful tales one might conjure, if I had not been the cheeky bastard I was then, I may not have become the cheeky bastard I am now.  I would now almost certainly be a completely different person.  It is a truism that we are each the sum of our own decisions, experiences and actions.  We reap the consequences in totally unforeseeable ways.  Who can know where a seemingly insignificant deed might lead? There must be any number of pivotal moments in a lifetime and it must be difficult to identify them at the time.

I am still finding out where this particular one is leading me.

In 1983, I was Senior Borough Health Inspector at the Borough of Mount Roskill. The story of how I came to be there is also quite a tale but one mostly already told.

This is the true tale of how I came to leave Mount Roskill Borough.

The Council offices were here:

I loved my job. It was varied, interesting and involved  such fun and useful activities as inspecting food premises, getting landlords to upgrade shoddy rental properties, abating nuisances, resolving neighbourly disputes, investigating noise complaints, air pollution, plumbing and drainage inspections, building inspections, pest control, even a little social work with the elderly and neglected.   One just never knew  where any day would lead.  The major thing that made it worthwhile was that in some way every day I was able to improve or maintain the quality of life of ordinary people.  

As my personal life then was in a shambles, much as it is now, and for very similar reasons, I threw myself pretty whole-heartedly into my work.  Despite working for what was then the lowest-paying local authority in the country (another remarkable similarity, come to think of it) I made a pretty good living because I happily accepted all the after-hours call out work that no one else wanted.  

Mount Roskill had its own traffic department back in those days, before traffic cops were integrated into the Police.  I had  trained with the prosecuting officers, so I was able to prepare my own prosecutions and lay the informations without the help of a solicitor.  The idea was that the Borough Solicitor need not become involved unless the offender gave notice that he intended to defend the charges.  If a guilty plea was entered, I merely had to give formal proof and the job was done.  If they defended, the solicitor took over.  Not that I took many prosecutions anyway.   I always believed in changing behaviour rather than prosecuting, and still do.

I had one particular factory on Carr Road in the industrial/ commercial area interface, which processed timber for furniture and construction.  They worked a lot with a particular New Zealand variety of wood call Tawa.  Tawa dust is a serious irritant and to some folks, an allergen.  It causes a lot of people distress if they get it in the eye or up the nose.   Others just get pissed off when it gets into their laundry or food.  Not unreasonably, I think.

When the cyclone on the roof of the factory started leaking Tawa dust all over the Borough the complaints became overwhelming.  I spent a great deal of time  (fourteen months) trying to get the factory manager to repair the cyclone, and abate the dust nuisance.  This was in the days before the more powerful Clean Air Act was enacted and all I had to work with was the nuisance provisions of the Health Act.  A useful and straightforward piece of legislation, but with puny fines.  All my encouragement, pleading, blandishments and threats made no progress towards resolving the problem.  Finally I made an appointment with the factory manager and went in for a showdown.  Comply or be prosecuted and if the fine does not faze you, maybe the publicity will, because I intend to embarrass the company.

There was a third person at the meeting, someone I had not met before.  He was the owner of the factory himself.  A well-known local multi-millionaire.  This factory was one small part of an enormous empire he controlled.  His name was Keith Hay.  I was hoping for a sympathetic ear from him and a swift order to the manager to sort things out. He turned out to be one of the biggest A-holes I ever had the misfortune to meet (he also happened to be a bible-bashing anti-alcohol, anti-gay, holier-than-thou pompous git).   He sat silently and disdainfully through my discourse on the rights and wrongs of the situation, the action necessary to resolve the matter, and the Court consequences if the company failed to comply.  Finally he spoke. “And just what is the penalty for this heinous crime?”  he asked, heavily accenting the heinous with what I assume was sarcasm.

I remember this so very clearly after all these years.  I still see the arrogant scorn in his face when I replied “The fine is $500 and a there is a further penalty of $50 for every day the offence continues”.   I knew full well that I would be lucky to get a $100 fine and a month’s worth of $10 a day, but that was not the point.

Keith Hay probably knew this too.  He certainly knew that a new cyclone was going to cost him around seven grand.  He turned to the factory manager and said “Pay him out of petty cash” and walked out.

Next day I went to the District Court and laid the Information.

I had every expectation that the matter would be defended of course, but I was prepared.  I had photographs, witnesses, documented complaints and full notes of my attempts to resolve the matter.  The Court likes fair and reasonable, and I had certainly been that.  I was confident I could not lose.   I was not at all surprised when I was called to the Town Clerk’s office and found him waiting with the Borough Solicitor.  I was surprised however when I was informed ” The charges against the company have been dropped, and the matter is closed”.

I asked if the company had agreed to repair or replace the cyclone.

” The charges against the company have been dropped, and the matter is closed”.

I was dismissed from the meeting.  The matter was closed.

I should probably given more thought to the fact that Keith Hay had been the previous Mayor of the Borough, and had served the maximum permitted number of terms.  But if I had, I would probably, in my youth, have considered that this merely meant he would have even more incentive to do the Right Thing.

A week later Keith Hay telephoned me and asked if he could pick me up and show me something.  It was more of an instruction than a request, and I agreed to meet him though he would not elaborate on where he intended to take me.   At the appointed time he picked me up in his Mercedes,  and as he drove he told me his plans for opening a jam factory, and employing mentally handicapped people to work in it.  He seemed to think that would be a good idea and would be well received by the community, the sheltered workshop people and the Government.  I wondered if he was waiting for my approval, or expecting that I would suddenly see what a Good Person he really was, and fall down in adulation.

What he had to show me was everything he owned in the area, from his stately home on Cape Horn Road, overlooking Waikowhai Bay, to his factories, timber yards and house-building operations located from my Borough through New Lynn, Henderson and te Atatu, to Kumeu.

I wondered then  if he was going to drive me to Northland to see the Keith Hay Homessites up that way.   But after Kumeu we turned around and headed back.  I was still not sure why I was there, or what I should be saying, or even thinking.  Was I supposed to be impressed or overawed?  Filled with new-found respect for this great achiever?

Not happening.

I concluded that this was his way of saying “See the power I wield, the lives I hold in my hand.  You cannot fight me.”

I have always been egalitarian, and to me,  Jack is as good as his master.  What you do is what defines you, not what you have.  As he dropped me off I thanked him for the tour, and told him I was impressed with his achievements.  I complimented his lovely home and his magnificent business empire that must be making an enormous profit.  Even his car was pretty cool.  I just could not understand why he could not afford to replace a broken dust  extract system…

After that, life at Mount Roskill was never the same.   Nothing I did was ever quite right again.  I was constantly blotting my copybook somehow.  I would come in from a drainage inspection and get called into the TC’s office.  My boots were dirty or my appearance unbecoming of Council staff.  At other times my car was dirty, my actions inappropriate, I was rude to residents,  my log books were not kept properly, and so on.  And on… I was harassed constantly.  I could not understand at first what was going on, naïve fool that I was.  These days it would be called constructive dismissal.  I tried to ignore it and just threw myself further into my work, but it was becoming increasingly difficult.  Finally even my immediate boss, John the Chief Health Inspector, joined the battle.  On the wrong side.   Should have foreseen that.   One February morning  in 1984 I told him I needed some time off the next day.  My ex (the first one) had called me to point out that we had been separated for well over the requisite time and we could now apply for a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.   I had a friend at Henderson District Court, so I had already spoken to him and he told me the Justice would be available 9 am  the very next day.    We just had to tell the Justice of our differences, and it would all be over in a flash.

I made arrangements to meet Els there despite the fact that in those days I still believed no differences are irreconcilable, but she did not agree.   I was eventually to learn  she was right.  But I digress, I was telling of my conversation with John.

John’s response to my request was “You have had too much time off lately,”

I was stunned.  Taken completely aback.  I had not had any time at all off, for any reason, for ages.

“What the fuck do you mean?  I have had no leave at all for nearly a year.  I haven’t even been sick! I was on call at Christmas,  I work on weekends,  I do all the fucking night call outs, I cover your area as well as my own even when you are here,  I have taken over Cecil’s area too, since he  left and was not replaced.  What fucking time have I had off lately – or at all?”

“Don’t talk to me like that.  I want some respect from you” said John.

“You had better fuckin’  earn it then” said I.

I began to suspect, at last, there was a conspiracy to get me to resign.   With a few further choice words I described John’s character, his abilities as a health inspector, his qualities as a leader, and his shoddy treatment of colleagues.  Too loudly.  I was pretty emotional even before starting the conversation.  Now I was raving.   Everyone in the entire wing heard me shouting.

I took the time off next day to meet Els as arranged, and finalise the divorce.  I also took a day or two to grieve again, then returned quietly to work. No one said much, except Lasca Fox, the office lady, who was her usual kindly, motherly self.    I knew by then it was time for me to move on.  I also concluded that I did not want to work ever again for a local authority.  Not after this.  This sort of shit.  Corruption and politics.

The Department of Health did not want ex local authority inspectors in those days, they trained their own.  Where could I go?  I started looking overseas and even applied for a position in the United Arab Emirates.  I got as far as being accepted as an environmental health surveyor there .  I sent off twenty-six black and white passport-size photos of myself for all the documentation I was going to need.  But things dragged on.  If they ever sent me the contract, I never got it.  No matter.  By now I had read an article in the NZ Environmental Health magazine, of which I just  happened to be editor at the time.

The article was by a colleague who had completed a tour as a volunteer with Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO).  It looked interesting.   I thought I could do that and do it well.   I wrote to VSO.  I had an English passport as well as NZ so I thought they could use me.  They replied kindly, saying they could only accept people in country for interviews but  suggested that as I was already in NZ I might like to try contacting their NZ equivalent, VSA  (Volunteer Service Abroad) .  I did.  They seemed pretty keen.  For a few months we exchanged letters about my training, skills and abilities, the positions they had to fill, and considering where I might be of best use.

The answer turned out to be Solomon Islands.  As a water supply engineer.  I signed up and in a short while went through the induction training, and headed out into the Pacific to a country of which I had never heard until then.  For two years I led a team of local workers. We toured Western Province and Choiseul communities and surveyed, designed and built small village water supplies.  I had a wonderful time and some amazing experiences.  I learned more than I taught.  I was doing something useful.  I pulled myself together,  met a young woman and married her.  At the end of my term we returned to NZ where, to my delight, I found that due to a change in Government policy, the Department of Health no longer trained its own inspectors (now called Health Protection Officers) and were in fact desperately short of good staff.  As usual when politicians gainsay the expert advice of their permanent staff, things go awry.  Good for me though.  I had my pick of three offices in the Auckland region and my career was back on track.  I was happier than ever.

For a time.

So it goes.

…..

If you wonder what my downfall looks like:

Cyclone dust extractor

(The Town Clerk is what we called the CEO in those days)

Mount Roskill Borough  no longer exists, having been swallowed up in the political amalgamation that created the great metropolitan City of Auckland.

I was a  long way down a completely different path by the time that happened.

Broken

I have lived among the broken people
They sent me there
Repairman for their faults
As if good will
A football and a meal
Might mend many generations of pain.

Massacre and Murder still in memory
Birthright and right denied
Who can soothe such wounds
With just a token?
And though I tried, god knows I tried,
I, too, ended broken.

I truly tried my wage to earn
I could not help them, merely learn.
They cannot help, who once betrayed
And raised a debt that can’t be paid.

© 2020 ARF

Ahoy

The second activity passion of my life, after SCUBA diving, is one I have not enjoyed since the eighties, apart from a brief spell as half-owner of a cabin cruiser for a time in 2000. And my kayak in Fiji.

Boats. Especially the simply messing about in part.

From 1978 to the eighties, I had a Shearwater catamaran that I rebuilt from a wreck purchased in Napier for very few dollars. I had no idea how to rig it.

There was no manual, I could find nothing in the Library and of course there was no Internet. So I improvised and seemed to get it mostly right, because she sailed like a speedboat in a good breeze. I measured my time between the marker buoys on the Pania reef on one good sailing day, and later calculated that Peter Cox and I had taken her over 20 knots with Peter at the helm and me, the heavier one, stacking out in a harness.

I say I rigged her mostly right, because she had one characteristic that was not at all right. If one let go all the sheets while sailing with the wind, instead of luffing up and stalling like an obedient yacht, she would turn downwind and sail like billy-o. This became a problem one afternoon when I was sailing in Hawkes Bay out past the Esk river. I don’t recall exactly how, but I fell overboard.

My worthy vessel turned downwind and sailed away. The wind was onshore, so she headed for the beach. So did I, but more slowly. By the time I caught her she was washing around in the shingle with broken dagger boards. Which made sailing home to Ahuriri a difficult task.

In the early eighties I sailed her round the Hauraki Gulf, and one glorious summer took her to Bay of Islands, where Rob, a friend, and I camped out and swam and fished for a week. I even sailed her through the Hole in the Rock at Cape Brett.

Then in 1984 I went to Solomon Islands, where I worked as a volunteer with the Rural Water Supply, building water supplies in remote villages. I found myself skipper of a 20 foot glass canoe named Lady Allison after Allison Holst, a NZ TV cooking personality who did a fundraiser with the Lower Hutt Lions to purchase it.

I also bought a dugout which was a great deal of fun. I really regretted leaving it behind when I returned to NZ.

It was thinking about all this while I swam yesterday. I’m thinking I am getting fit enough to take to the water again in a small boat. I rather liked that glass canoe and wondered if I could find one here. It seems not. But one could buy one from Honiara for around $34,000 SBD which is just over $6,000 AUD. But then there would be shipping, import duty, an outboard, and safety gear. So probably not.

With my financial state I think I should consider, if anything, an aluminium dinghy, known here as a tinny.

Something to think about.

Pedals

The configuration of a bicycle is adjustable, but not always quite enough. For example in my case the crucial factor for comfort is the angle of the bend of my knee at the top of the pedal rotation. If the seat is too low that angle becomes acute, and causes acute pain. I just can’t bend my knees that far. It is the equivalent of doing a squat and is just not possible at present.

In order to manage this, I have to put the seat higher than I would prefer, which means I can only just touch the ground with my foot extended when stationary. This makes dismounting, and waiting at intersections a little precarious. Especially taking into consideration my inherent unsteadiness. I am getting the hang of it, but it is my most vulnerable time.

Fortunately there are so many bike paths here I rarely spend much time in traffic. I can often find somewhere to pull up by a curb, or fence, or a tree or a park bench for extra stability.

The problem manifests in another way. The tolerances are fine. Even wearing shoes with any significant thickness of sole puts extra strain on my knees. So I am reduced to wearing my Jandals or my Skinners..

This makes my feet a bit more vulnerable in case of an accident. A risk I’ve decided to take. I know that my death in a traffic accident would be very traumatic for the poor bastard who kills me, so I shall be very careful. Always thoughtful, me.

In the meantime, I am doing squats in the pool in an effort to rectify the situation. No noticeable improvement yet, but it is still early days.

Working

At first I had my doubts about the claimed 80 km range for the lithium battery in my bicycle. When I started I was returning after only twelve to fifteen km with the battery already half flat. That was when I was relying heavily on the electric motor to supplement my travels. Now the battery is not even a quarter used on my return from a ride of 12 to 15 km.

I have since learned to read the LED indicators that tell me how much contribution the battery is making to my progress. I have also relearned how to use all six of the gears to ensure I am making the most significant contribution, even up the few rare steep inclines I encounter.

Most importantly, I have learned that by maintaining the right posture I can control the knee discomfort and let my thigh muscles do the work. I contribute much more and I think I’m now probably putting in 60 to 70% of the effort.

Which is not to say I could do it all. I turned the motor off and tried. No. Not yet.

At the end of a ride my legs remind me they have been working hard, just as my shoulders do after a swim. The bathroom scales are beginning to confirm the predictions of my kilojoule log.

It’s working.

Speaking of working, I have been using the MyFitness app for over 185 days in a row according to the laudatory message it sent me a couple of days ago. In that time I have shed 17kg. Almost the kilo per ten days I set as a goal. Allowing for a little backsliding and some reward feasts on special occasions, I think that is a creditable effort.

What is not so encouraging is just how much there is left to lose. The mirror shows very little change so far. Even keeping up the current progress will take well over another 185 days to get halfway to my goal weight. There is no room for complacency.

Aberdeen

I’ve been a wanderer all of my life, and many’s the sight I’ve seen…

There is no Aberdeen to which I long to return. My whole life has been spent moving on. There has never been anywhere for me to return to, because it was no longer there after I left.

I can remember two homes in England before I was five. We had five more homes in four towns in New Zealand before I was eleven.

The most stable period of my youth was my teenage years in West Auckland. After that I moved around a lot again, until I acquired a family and had a second, relatively stable, period with them in only three locations. And that didn’t last either. Not nearly as long as I wanted. It was not my choice. Which does not mean it was not my fault. I don’t know.

What I do know is there is nowhere to which I can return. No family seat, no family. Just scattered relatives. A few friends.

In the small hours I wonder “What if?” There is no answer except the soft early call of the magpie who roosts in the trees behind my caravan.

I ponder the events that led me here. Living with anyone is difficult. When does the effort become too much? Is the person wiser who decides “enough” or the one who keeps trying? Who is at fault, when someone calls enough? Perhaps the fault must always be borne by both.

I am trying to be more zen in my introspection and self-appraisal. I accept what is, but still can’t help wondering what if? I am the sum of my memories. I owe it to myself and the world to ensure my memories are honest and clear.

I was not a good son, I was not a good brother, I proved to be a poor husband, Twice. I truly don’t know any more what kind of father I was. I want to write accurately about my memories. Of what made me what I am. That will not always put me in a good light, but it also may not please those who get to see themselves as I saw them. They may see my perception of causality as blame. But one does not blame the sun for sunburn. It is what happens.

Well. Wow. I didn’t know that was where I was going when I started this post.

Turning Point.

It has arrived. 236B463E-1FDF-4883-BD16-312A91D7F306

Assembled. Now charged.  Before I ride, however, I shall take it to a bike mechanic for service and checking. I did my bit right, but maybe the factory didn’t do theirs.

Even so, I shall not be riding it to the pool just yet, until I’ve satisfied myself I can do the distance and back.  For a while I shall just be riding around near home.  I have knee braces, which will, hopefully, keep the knee bones aligned while pedalling but I suspect I may have to build up to riding longer distances even with electric pedal assist.  I’ve decided not to turn on the no pedalling feature of the throttle as it appears to be illegal to use on the roads in Queensland and should only be used off road.  Otherwise I’d have to register this as a motorcycle.  No worries. This is going to be a benefit to my health and fitness.

Last night at my weekly weigh-in I confirmed I have lost 12.2 kg since I committed to trying to live a bit longer.  That seems awfully good and encouraging, until I remind myself I still have another 30 kg to go at least.  But I have proved to myself it’s possible.  I just have to stay on top of it.

I have learned how to manage on between 5,000 and 6,500 kJ a day and still eat foods I really enjoy most of the week. I have found at least one form of exercise that is painless and enjoyable.  I’m sleeping well and maintaining a good mental state most of the time.  I’m even thinking about how I might look for part-time work if I get just a bit more of my mobility back.  My original plan of doing locum EHO work for a couple of days a week could be back on the table sooner than I thought.  I still know where the vacancies are.

Changes.

At the end of the 1960s, and the mystical hippie dawning of the Aquarius age, we were all still searching for meaning.

The big four philosophers when I was 18 were Hesse, Vonnegut, Brautigan and Tolkien.

Of course I read other influential writers, but at the time I really believed everything I needed to know about being a decent human being was in the works of those four, though it took me another 50 years to really begin to understand why.

There was another influential book I encountered.

In the course of exploring the world I came upon the I Ching. inevitably. It had a great deal of credibility amongst the hippies of my generation. Of course I looked into it. I still have, in my lock-up in New Zealand, a beautiful translation from Chinese through German to English, of the I Ching by Richard Wilhelm.

Yarrow sticks were hard to come by where I grew up, but I was a numismatist, and had in my collection several of those fascinating old Chinese coins with square holes. It seemed appropriate to use them. Having designated which side was heads and which was tails, I had a culturally acceptable method of obtaining a randomly generated hexagram, in accordance with the instructions accompanying the book.

My youthful, hopeful self was quite surprised to find how seemingly accurate and appropriate was the advice I gleaned from the wise words of the Tao. The last remnants of my Roman Catholic superstition we’re slowly fading at the time (now only the guilt remains) and I could possibly have easily fallen into the woo mentality of believing some spiritual power, something beyond myself, was guiding me, through the words of the book.

But I read something – I don’t recall exactly where – some scientific article, perhaps, that said our brains were hard-wired to look for patterns. We look for visual patterns, such as potentially threatening animal or human shapes hiding in the trees, and we look for patterns of events and try to make some sense, often wrong, of the coincidences and causality.

The evolutionary advantage of this pattern recognition behaviour is in the significance of the value of the false positive over the false negative.

If I see what looks like a lion lurking in the bushes, and run, the likelihood of staying alive is increased, whether it is a real or imagined lion. If I decide it’s a trick of the light, and ignore it, my chances of survival are decreased if I am wrong.

The same principle applies if we recognise a pattern of events that seem to coincide. Should it rain enough times after we ask nature politely for a shower to water the crop, we may come to believe that asking causes rain.

The downside of this, is that as there is, or was, an evolutionary advantage to being superstitious. We suffered from pareidolia. It became an affliction. We came to see those shapes and faces in the bark of trees, as beings, and ascribed to them powers and motives. We recognised patterns of events, some like the celestial movements, or the seasons, quite real. Then some smart arse recognised the patterns of our own behaviour, saw an opportunity for power and put himself forward as an intermediary between the common people and the spiritual world. And we got religion.

But I digress. I was speaking of the I Ching. I recognised that my brain was looking for patterns in the events of my own life. I was taking the words from an ancient book written in Chinese, translate first to German then to English, and gleaning valuable meaning from them. But this was not superstition. The advice the book was giving me was good. Why? Because it was written in such a way that it was inevitable that the reader would apply the general advice in such a way that it would most benefit him. Because the Tau was the way of the upright, it had to be good advice. For a few formative years the I Ching helped me make decisions that brought me to where I am now. I have few regrets.

These musings were inspired by coming upon this following little piece in one of the philosophical emails that turn up in my in-box from time to time.

After a few more hours swimming up and down the Bribie Island pool, I may have more to write on the subject.

The following is borrowed from Psychology Today.

Impact of the I Ching on Carl G. Jung & its implications

Jung, Taoist psychology, and cross-cultural communications

Posted Mar 01, 2017 

Although research has examined how world cultures (e.g., independent vs. interdependent ones) each uniquely shaped psychological experiences, few investigations focus on how cultures influence one another in the psychological domains. This issue is important, because cross-cultural information and knowledge exchange, contacts, and influences, though moderate in the past, have transformed all cultures, including the field of psychology. For example, Taoist psychology is one of the main cultural inspirations for Jungian psychology.

In May 1930, Jung gave the Eulogy at a memorial service in Munich for Richard Wilhelm. Jung integrated the Eastern philosophy into his principles of psychotherapy and human psyche through his study of Richard Wilhelm’s translations of I Ching (The Book of Changes), The Secret of the Golden Flower, and their frequent interactions that lasted from the early 1920’s until Wilhelm’s death in 1930 (Goulding, 2015; Karcher, 1999; Stein, 2005).

Jung said that Wilhelm “inoculated us with the living germ of the Chinese spirit and we found ourselves partaking of the spirit of the East as we experience the living power of the I Ching. It is capable of working a profound transformation of our thought.” Jung said that Wilhelm’s work was of such immense importance to him because it confirmed what he had been seeking in his efforts to alleviate the psychic suffering of Europeans. The book was both a carrier of human experience and a door to the energy of the archetypes. “I heard from him in clear language the things I had dimly divined in the confusion of the European subconscious. I received more from him than from any other man” (cited in Karcher, 1999; also see Goulding, 2015; Stein, 2005).

Jung expressed his deep gratitude for what he received from Wilhelm, because through his translations and teaching, Taoist psychology influenced Jung’s theoretical frameworks by facilitating the formation of his chief conceptions: synchronicity and individuation, in addition to confirming his views about the unconscious and nonlinear or circular psychological development for adult (Goulding, 2015; Karcher, 1999; Stein, 2005).

Jung’s comprehension of Tao is much deeper than the conventional translation “the way.” As he commented, Tao is the interaction between the mind and reality. The essential Taoist idea in I Ching suggests that all of the ingredients make up the observed moment. Understanding human experiences involves recognizing a special interdependence of objective events among themselves, as well as with the subjective (psychic) states of the observer or observers (Jung, 1967). In other words, according to I Ching, psychological experiences are determined by the interaction of the mind, time, space, situations, and action or non-action. The mind and reality interaction, rather than being an isolated or independent event, symbolically represents the person’s dialogue with a broad reality transcending a specific moment and space. It is the interactions that serve as the parameter for deciphering psychological experiences.

In short, Jung’s achievements in integrating the East and West demonstrate that psychological phenomena and principles are both cultural and universal.

References:

Goulding, J. (2015). The forgotten Frankfurt school: Richard Wilhelm’s China Institute. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 41:1-2 (March–June 2014) 170–186

Jung, C. G. (1967). Foreword. In The I Ching or Book of changes (C. F. Baynes, Trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Karcher, S. (1999). Jung, the Tao and the Classic of Change. Journal of Religion and Health, 38, 287-304.

Stein, M. (2005). Some reflections on the influence of Chinese thought on Jung and his  psychological theory. The Journal of Analytical Psychology, 50(2), 209-222. doi:10.1111/j.0021-8774.2005.00524

The Circus Animals’ Desertion

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me.

 

The Circus Animals’ Desertion

 

I

I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last being but a broken man
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.

II

What can I but enumerate old themes,
First that sea-rider Oisin led by the nose
Through three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,
Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose,
Themes of the embittered heart, or so it seems,
That might adorn old songs or courtly shows;
But what cared I that set him on to ride,
I, starved for the bosom of his fairy bride.

And then a counter-truth filled out its play,
`The Countess Cathleen’ was the name I gave it,
She, pity-crazed, had given her soul away
But masterful Heaven had intervened to save it.
I thought my dear must her own soul destroy
So did fanaticism and hate enslave it,
And this brought forth a dream and soon enough
This dream itself had all my thought and love.

And when the Fool and Blind Man stole the bread
Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea;
Heart mysteries there, and yet when all is said
It was the dream itself enchanted me:
Character isolated by a deed
To engross the present and dominate memory.
Players and painted stage took all my love
And not those things that they were emblems of.

III

Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

WB Yeats.