Monday, October 09, 2006

Dealing with the Guf - Reclaiming Moments of Horror

The Guf is the lowest form of soul in some kabbalistic cosmologies. It consists of the actual body we wrap ourselves in. The word "guf" is the source of the English word "goofy," so you can get an idea of how this soul is viewed in the cosmology of things.

I was talking to a friend today about the horrifyingly embarrassing moments that crop up in my mind as I'm falling asleep, eliciting an audible groan or whimper. I was relieved to know that I'm not the only one that experiences these things, but that doesn't really help get rid of the horror that still comes when I remember these kinds of events.

The best example I have is when I went down to the end of a shooting range to hang a paper target, and the drill sergeant guy yelled "CEASE FIRE!!!!" at the top of his considerable lungs to get everyone else (who were still shooting) to take a break so I didn't get killed. Everyone looked over at me, and I'm standing there like an idiot where about thirty people were shooting. Not a happy moment.

What gets me is that this happened almost a decade ago, and to this day, I groan out loud remembering it. I've tried to "reclaim" that part of my brain to get rid of this response. Kraig has a retroactive magick section (I think) in his Modern Magick book, and I tried that. I tried going back and reliving the moment in my mind, trying to replace it with a different memory. I've tried rationalizing that I'd never been to a shooting range before, I was at the far end of the shooting range, and everyone else was at the other side, where I had assumed they wouldn't shoot me... but nothing's worked. It's always in that light hypnogoguic state between waking and sleeping that I remember standing there in the crisp autumn wind with a crowd made up of fathers and sons and war vets looking at me like I was Forrest, Forrest Gump.

My friend suggested that we can't forget this kind of thing for a reason, that it serves some purpose. I can see how it can aid survival to never forget how stupid it is to steal a dinosaur's egg while you think the thing is sleeping, but this was just embarrassing. Socially embarrassing. Sure, we're pack animals, and it's required to not do something stupid in public to not get ostracized... but that's stretching it a bit.

So on a seemingly unrelated tangent, I was reading through Plotinus' Fifth Ennead. Not too far in, it says:

"A double discipline must be applied if human beings in this pass are to be reclaimed, and brought back to their origins, lifted once more towards the Supreme and One and First."

"Reclaimed" jumped out at me. I had literally just been talking about reclaiming, so looking for an answer to this question, I read on...

"There is the method, which we amply exhibit elsewhere, declaring the dishonour of the objects which the Soul holds here in honour; the second teaches or recalls to the soul its race and worth; this latter is the leading truth, and, clearly brought out, is the evidence of the other."

So there are two disciplines required to accomplish the returning to the Source, God, which sums up Plotinus' idea of what I think of as the Great Work. The discipline of stating the dishonour of things the Soul holds dear here, and the remembrance of the race and worth of the Soul.

Respect of others is what my Guf-Soul holds dear, so dear that an embarrassing moment haunts me for years, permanently ingrained in my neural paths. Dishonouring the "need for respect from others," (hmmm, pride, perhaps?) isn't too difficult. I recognize that the opinions of those rednecks at that moment aren't really that important.

Teaching the Soul its race and worth though... How does this apply in the context of a mortifying memory? The Soul in the Guf at that moment was of God and was God. The value of that Soul is inestimable. How can teaching the Soul its race and value make the horror of that moment go away?

I don't have an answer, but I do know that I was particularly Guf-ey that day. I'll be holding these two things together in my mind as I remember what happened, and see what comes of it. Educating the Guf as to its value and source may indeed be the key to getting rid of that disgusting horror.
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