On the Problem of Having Problems and the Phoenix


27 Jun
27Jun

Archetypal James Hillman has an interesting perspective re: problems: 

"Why do we focus so intensely on our problems? What draws us to them? Why are they so attractive? They have the magnet power of love: somehow we desire our problems; we are in love with them much as we want to get rid of them . . . Problems sustain us -- maybe that's why they don't go away. What would a life be without them? Completely tranquilized and loveless . . . There is a secret love hiding in each problem." --James Hillman, depth psychologist

I associate what Hillman stated above to the image of the pheonix.

We obsess over our passions, and there is a fiery alchemical furnace in the heart of our every obsession-desire. We are called to be the phoenix to resurrect, through (trans= across, trans=transform) our passions, our most emotional desires.This obsession when we stubbornly cling, where we stubbornly dwell, It is the obsession for change. The object contains something we want; its seeming absence is the problem.. The question we dwell on is how do we obtain what we want and need for peace? The pain of having and not-having is a burning pain--therein is the torment, the torment of the tension of the opposites.When our problems torment us, the torment serves as the catalyst for change and meanwhile relieves our tension of those opposites of having and not-having, of wanting and not-wanting (when the passion is obtained), as if warming up to the flame, building the fire within to burn off the leaden dross and stagnation.

When we get 'stuck' and spin our wheels in our chase of that which we desire to attain, we get the resistance of the force of operations in our lives..Why is it then that sometimes we do not act towards the positive "good" goal and instead let it stagnate into spoils--such as when things do not get done? We think we are weak, we are tired, we are weary--of always striving and we would seek a certain homeostasis. So we then might tell ourselves we are being patient--or to just be patient. 

But resistance is not patience. There is a certain energy in resistance--this is why is is not always calmer and more "zen." That "zen" comes only with knowing by being empty, and we cannot be empty when we obsess. One filled with torment is not empty--it might seem like the frustration of "not having" is emptiness but it is filled with the force of wanting or desire. 

In the western world, desire is not always seen as bad and can even be romanticized, just as is the blaze of the phoenix and its story. The fiery torment is the phoenix ablaze and our turmoil over our passions we express releases the tension. This is the fire-dance of the fiery types, from out of the fire and into the heights. From "below" the conscious attainment of desire into the fulfillment of at the end of the desire--that is the 'cup runneth over,' the endless end of all desire.

Before: Phoenix dying, rising out from the ashes, being reborn, transforming:


After:  Phoenix rising to the occasion of transcendence:


Association of the phoenix as  the Bird of Paradise, certainly a most uplifting flower:


Association of the phoenix as a burst of palm leaves in the palm tree: 

(photo forthcoming from my own collection; photos above compliments Google)

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And further associations on the way, also. Maybe you can write in and suggest some of your own for me to add--and you can include a write-up of feelings about the image you send in)



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