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Hanged Man_imageThe mystical view of the world is very different from the physical view. In fact, it sets the physical view on its head, as depicted in the Tarot card of the Hanged Man, who hangs upside down on his cross because he views the world as 180° different from the way the world views the world. No, this isn't some cryptic acknowledgement of St Peter who allegedly was crucified upside down because he didn't feel worthy of a right way up crucifixion, like Jesus. Far from it! This is more like Odin, of Nordic mysticism, who hung upside down for nine days and nine nights in a kind of suspended, meditative state. Then, with a great shout as the story goes, he espied the Runes, the Nordic mystical tools of understanding, which he was then able to teach to the world. It is also similar to Gandhi, who meditated in silence for two weeks, until he came to an understanding of how to begin to move the British out of India. This is what Buddhism refers to as "the watcher and the watched". In other words, you watch yourselves living life. As well as being a mystic and a meditator, Gandhi was also a shrewd and experienced lawyer and politician. He didn't have to give up on all of that to become a mystic. He worked with both halves of his life experience. The mystic observes and meditates on the meaning of the world and its challenges. This is a very different process from imposing meaning on it, which is what usually happens when you don't step back and observe. You need to focus the WHOLE of your mind on what lies before you.

        There are many flavours to the mystical view of the world. St Paul says that “now (in physical existence) you see through a glass darkly" as opposed to "face to face". Hinduism talks of Maya, illusion or the veil of illusion, as if you have some kind of mist or fog, made up of your illusions, that you cannot quite penetrate and see through. A Course in Miracles describes the world as not "real", but a projection of your thoughts, both collectively and individually. You don't have to change the world, says the Course; you have to change your mind about the world i.e. what you are looking at. Qabalah also talks of the world as reflecting and reflective: "as above, so below".

         The Mirror concept is the one we consistently use in our work. It is based on The Law of Attraction, that nothing happens by chance, that everything in the world and about the world is "synchronistic" (to use Jung's word) and therefore reflective. What have you attracted to you and why? What is it showing you? And ultimately, what is it teaching you and what is it trying to heal? There is always a relationship of some kind between what is going on in the world in front of you and some aspect of your mind, as in “as above so below". Or, as I said recently when looking at some aspect of the unconscious mind manifesting itself in the world, "as below, so above"! There are many aspects of  mind manifesting in the world, some manifesting in very confused and confusing ways, others very healing. But you don't run into any of them by chance. They are always reflecting something of you. Therefore you need to understand both what you are looking at and what you see/experience in it. "I have given everything I see all the meaning it has for me" (A Course in Miracles Workbook, Lesson 2). This will often take a long time to really understand. But it works, both for the seemingly minor, daily escapades that we run into, as well as for the large dramas of our lives. One of the great places that we, Charque and I, started this practice was driving. If you run into anger on the road, then it is currently inside of you somewhere. If you run into pushiness on the road, then it is currently reflecting in some aspect of your life. One of the hardest shifts from a physical view to a metaphysical view of the world is that the emotion comes first and elicits the physical situation. It is never the other way round. Car problems, fender benders and bigger accidents: read them all symbolically as well as physically. We call that "reading life as a mythic image, as well as a physical reality" or "living mysticism". The same goes with your relationships, your co-workers, your bosses: they can all be read as a mythic image of something that is currently pervading your mind. It is an extension of the way that Tarot and other such tools work. They reflect the mind of the person using them. But in order to do any of this, you have to step back and contemplate  just like Odin or Gandhi. You must be very honest with yourself in this process. Even if you lie to your fellow humans, or to yourself, you cannot lie to the Universe or to Universal Law. It doesn't work that way. That is where tools such as the Tarot, or Odin's tools of the Runes, can aid the process of self-awareness. "Know thyself and thou shalt understand the whole universe" was the message that hung over the ancient, Delphic oracle in Greece, and is still the message of Tarot today.

         The world then becomes a place to experience, understand and know self and the Big Universe. All experience, both individual and collective, is or can be a vehicle for that process. The world is not then an end in itself, but a means to an end. It is a hands-on, tangible experiment, much like early childhood learning, where you don't just add numbers but play with objects of different shapes and sizes. It is consciousness made manifest in physical existence. To the child the Devil Card Imagegame is of primary importance. To the parent the learning is primary.

         If that is true, then we really need not take it so seriously, yet not negate its value. Easier said than done, of course! But it is good practice not to take it so seriously. This is actually what the Devil card in Tarot is all about. The Devil pictures the beliefs and situations that we chain ourselves to in the physical world. In Qabalistic Tarot, the Devil card is associated with mirth and humour. To quote Robert Wang in his book on "Qabalistic Tarot", the Devil is that which "represents the average person's misperception of reality, the belief that our material condition is "real" in the true sense of the word. This misperception is symbolised here in two ways: first, the Devil is intended to be seen as a humorous figure, the bogey-man of our collective childhood. Our belief in the illusion of matter created by the energy symbolised in this card is actually laughable....."

         Charque likes to describe the world as a sandbox. You get to play, but at the end of the day, you can knock it all down and start again, much like the Tibetan monks with their sand paintings. I call the world theatre. You can have tremendously moving experiences and insights in the theatre, but you always know when you leave that, even if the experience is real enough, the rest of it was a collection of actors, sets, props etc, in other words, a magnificent illusion. And on the subject of actors, George Harrison of the Beatles once said that we are "the same old mob going round and round and round". So, in the course of the history of the world, you get to play many roles. But we'll leave that exploration for another time.

       The last thing I want to say about the world is something that is stressed again and again by mystics of all traditions: be open to wWorld Card-imagehat the world is showing you. Do not judge it. You have years, lifetimes of conditioned thinking, left brain, knee-jerk judgements and emotional reactions. Charque likes to quote an Azrael book out of one of our very early study groups: "250,000 years of continuous habitation", and then he likes to add "give or take a couple of weeks" i.e. that is a lot of living, but the number is not to be taken literally! All reactions are based on perceptions and misperceptions, some very ancient such as religious dogma and its aftermath, some more current as a result of scientific theories. But they can all take on a life of their own in an unhealed mind. Dogma is by nature always rigid, whether personal or collective, and makes the mind unteachable. Only an open mind can be taught. As you watch the experience or the experiment unfold in front of you, stay tuned to that inner voice and guidance, as well as to the voice of logic that you have all been taught to use. These two parts of the brain, working together, are far more effective at facing and understanding the challenges that the world seems to throw up in front of you. Your function in the world is ultimately to reflect your full creative potential as endowed to you by the creative process of the Universe. Then you can view all things as beautiful, because they are all part of that process. As A Course in Miracles says, the world is perfect as it is. It is not a problem to be solved but the solution to your imbalances. From this perspective, all events become keys to your healing. That by the way is the Miracle. Then you can truly say "how beautiful is the path I have trod" ("The Quiet Mind": sayings of White Eagle).

     In Tarot, the World card is the last of the Major Arcana cards, not the first as you might expect. That is because it will take your understanding of all of the other Major Arcana cards that have gone before it to really understand the dimension and opportunities of the World. Then you will indeed be able to dance freely within the oval of space that the card depicts. Go to Top. GoHome.

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