Way Down We Go
Being Right is an ancient art form crafted on the bones of millions who have died in the savagery of war, cemented by the defeat of those who shrink silently from boardrooms and bedrooms. Being Right rarely lights the fire of passion, seldom nourishes the warm comfort of friendship. It creates schisms between parents and children. Being Right requires a large dollop of single-pointed focus to craft just the right words to make others around you utterly miserable. Being Right emits an odour that infuses our lives with a distinctive scent of buttoned up self-sufficiency and seamless perfection.
Convictions and ideals are the realm of Jupiter and they are what imprison us in the repetitive stories we tell ourselves about the world and about others.
Jupiter turned Retrograde on January 8th and goes direct on May 9th. Jupiter is associated with excess, expansion, positivity – the polar opposite to Saturn’s austere restriction, necessary boundaries and temporal structure and dour melancholy. Jupiter blesses and brings good fortune – and yet also magnifies and over-inflates anything lurking under the surface: our pride, our need to cling tenaciously to our stories about each other. The planet, Jupiter is an enormous gas giant. The symbolism here on earth is that our gaseous notions, our inflated beliefs have a shadowy side that is not obvious to us when we are so self-inflated with our own agrandissement that there is no room for anything new to take root.
Jupiter is also about ideology: those ideological beliefs that form the moat around the castle of our self-righteousness, defend us against thoughts or opinions that are different to our entrenched view of the world.
Ideology usually means a prescriptive doctrine that is not supported by rational argument. The noun has a resonance with a much older word, idolatry, and idolatry comes from the Greek, eidololatria : worship of idols. So our words, our beliefs, become the idols we worship in our need to be right, to win our arguments and have others agree with us. Ethics, morals and values are only versions of a truth. Where we invest ordinary objects or our ideas, our notions, our convictions, “the divine”.
The phrase “spiritual materialism” was coined by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in his book, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism. We cloak our ego with spirituality, our self-righteousness with free-floating, cosmic, transcendental phrases that suggest superiority or psychological wisdom. He urges groundedness and humility, the antidote for Jupiter’s puffed-up importance.
Our brains contain myriad estuaries. A complex system of neurological river ways that gouge Grand Canyons through our minds. Repetitive thoughts and beliefs take us down into whirlpools. We drown rather than cling to the life-raft of change. Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson’s research indicates that the brain is like Velcro to negative experiences, but Teflon to positive ones! That means that our thoughts, beliefs and strategies have an increasingly negative direction! As we change the movies that flicker across the screens of our minds, re-tell our stories of the past, and stop scaring ourselves about the terrors of the future we begin to Become Joy and Laughter. Being Happy becomes more important than being Right.
So, we can use Jupiter to bring our awareness of positive experiences into our lives. Rich Hanson suggests we savour these for at least 30 seconds to allow more neurons to fire together and create a memory trace. That we bring that feeling into our bodies, breathe it in as we re-wire our brains. Gradually, our partners become interesting, sexy again. Mr Good Enough for Now becomes Mr Right Now and Forever. Our friendships become a source of safety and connection. Our work engages us.
So this month, let’s embrace the blessing and expansiveness of Jupiter. Let’s place our idolised points of view in the past so that we can make room for the differentness of others. Let’s be generous in our assumptions about others while staying in our integrity. Says story-teller and researcher, Brené Brown, “assume the best about people because the life you change is your own…
Jupiter presided over the skies and was also called Jove by the Romans. The word, jovial, good-humoured, merry, is attributed to Jupiter. It’s hard to be Right when you’re laughing. And when we’re light-hearted we can assume the very best of ourselves and of others. The spirit of Jupiter lies in this poem, author unknown:
If you can start the day without caffeine or pep pills,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,
If you can overlook when people take things out on you when,
through no fault of yours, something goes wrong,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can do all these things,
Then you are probably the family dog.
Kaleo Way Down We Go
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