Jig Cogley: Reflections Tues 28 Nov – Mon 4 Dec

By the way, all books in the Wood You Believe series are available on line and if you are ordering some for Christmas presents please do so asap to ensure that they will arrive in time to pass them on. Many thanks, Jim C.



Tue 28th Nov – The Second Half of Life

Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward offers a spiritual path for what he calls ‘the two halves of life.’Some of what follows is influenced by Rohr’s work and some from Carl Jung. However, most of it is a product of my own reflection and experience. Both life stages are very different, and so they are meant to be. What is particularly useful from Jung’s work is his insight that whateverbrought us happiness and fulfillment in the first half of life will not deliver, to the same degree in the second. Even what we were very good at will not lift our boat in the second half like it did in the first. He suggests that the real danger would be to still think that it should, and when it doesn’t to try all the harder to force it do so. This might mean expanding the already successful business, working even harder, acquiring more‘toys’, (or changing one’s partner). If the first half of life was about acquiring, achieving, and making a name for oneself, them the second should be about the very opposite; downsizing, taking more time to be, and decluttering one’s life. It’s as if the flow of energy in the first half of life was going in one direction, but in the second it reverses and flows opposite. Suffering will inevitably result when we resist and don’t allow ourselves to flow with what is.

Wed 29th Nov – The Hidden Cost of Success

Reflecting further on Jung’s insights into the two halves of life, he believes that the flow of consciousness is always towards wholeness, completion and balance. In order to achieve a roundedness in life, he suggested that we need to become aware of the parts of ourselves that were most underdeveloped in the earlier part of life. Whatever we achieved during that period was probably at the cost of another side of ourselves, and it is this underdeveloped potential, that now deserves our attention. For example, the pursuit of an academic career would inevitable have involved not having had the time to develop other creative pursuits. To have formed a successful business could have come at considerable cost to other areas, like the pursuit of hobbies, or even spending time with family. Particularly to be a good parent,or even ‘good enough’ probably came at the cost of having had to put one’s own life on hold during those childrearing years. To go with the energy of what the second half of life is inviting us into is to be re-energized and find that in doing something different, something deep within begins to come alive.

Thurs 30th Nov – A New Journey Begins

When I first read Jung’s insights into the two halves of life, I had already begun to experience their truth in my own experience. Love of the sea and all things nautical was my passion during early years and it became like a second career. Yet, when I changed parishes after twenty-eight years and went more inland, I surprised myself, and those who knew me, by not missing it nearly as much as expected. From that I learned that to live something fully is the way to eventually be able to leave it behind and move on to something else. During those early years, often spent on the high seas, I had no involvement with wood or crafts and creative sparks were few and far between. Now well into the second half of life, creativity has become a passion, and Wood You Believe has taken on a life of its own. Similarly in my early years, I wrote almost nothing and avoided it whenever I could. It was in response to many invitations to put the teachings around wood symbols on paper that I reluctantly put pen to paper. In so doing I experienced a surge of new energy and began to really enjoy practicing the craft. Now, even with twelve books in print and daily postings going out for the past four years the idea of being an author still feels very strange.

Fri 1st Dec – The Unconscious Setup

In essence, the first part of life is about pursuing an outer life while the second half is more about cultivating an inner life. The career orientated person concerned with external success and climbing the ladder will experience at some point an inner invitation to turn inwards towards an inner career and becoming more aware. Usually, the well-developed persona of professionalism and apparent competence that was the envy of many will undergo a radical shattering and eventual disintegration. Life will find a way of dislodging the social climber thereby causing him or her to fall downwards into their own truth. This invitation comes veiled in a myriad of forms. It could be an overlook in promotion, a health scare, a family bereavement, a relationship breakdown, or problems with children. Usually, this invitation comes uninvited since it upsets the illusion that all is well and that I am in charge of my life. Unfortunately, this severe upset, that is really an unconscious setup, is seldom responded to. Instead, the recipient deals with the issue as an ‘inconvenience’, it gets dealt with in an external manner and so nothing is learned, and the deeper message goes ignored. The worrying symptom may be treated while the underlying cause remains.

Sat 2nd Dec – From Doing to Being

The second half of life is meant to be very different from the first. Rather than achieving more or accumulating more the desire changes to needing to give more – to give back to the world in gratitude for so much of what has been received. This is why volunteerism at this stage is so important and on average those who do gain an extra two years of life. Living more simply so that others can simply live becomes the motto for so many in that category. This is the time when people think of the legacy they will leave to future generations that can not just be written on paper. It is when they become more aware of the beliefs, talents and gifts that they would like to see continue in their children and grandchildren. This second half of life ideally is where we no longer try to change anyone apart from ourselves. It is when we realize that we are responsible for our own happiness and stop the blame game. At this stage we have hopefully moved from a doing mode to a being mode. This does not equate to doing nothing but rather to a new kind of doing that happens quietly and organically. In spiritual terms it is when we bear fruit rather than produce results.

Sun 3rd Dec – Advent

I met someone not so long ago where the last time we met was in primary school. The conversation went back to those, so called good old days, which we both agreed were not good and far from bein the best days of our lives. Then we got around to discussing the behaviour of a particular teacher who if he were around today would not survive without ending up in prison. Some of the antics he got up to would now be regarded as blatant sexual abuse like having the prettier girls sit on his knee while he was correcting their copybooks and at the same time making life hell for the other girls that he didn’t fancy.  As in many schools at the time physical punishment was an everyday occurrence and we got regular beatings with part of a chair. It was not uncommon to see classmates beaten so hard on the face that their clothes would be covered in blood. Of course he had his own methods to ensure that we wouldn’t tell what really happened when we got home. I can never remember a single day looking forward to going to school and how some of us developed a love for learning is till a mystery.

That teacher’s methods would be classed as serious physical abuse and if that were not bad enough he was an expert in dealing out psychological abuse. This took the form of shaming pupils in front of others. Pupils deemed ‘bold’ he boxed with the full force of his fist in the stomach. The ones who fell on the floor crying and winded were then ridiculed as being weaklings in front of the whole room. I still have vivid memories of this because on numerous times I was the one being shamed. For some reason, I couldn’t bear anyone hitting me in the stomach. That probably went back to an operation I had earlier. For me it was an area of vulnerability and he certainly preyed on my weakness.

A common experience not just in that school was where the teacher would leave the room, having given work to be done. Their going was usually accompanied with the admonition to behave ourselves and remember that ’absence is a test’ The usual response was to set up a pupil doing sentry duty at the door listening for his return while the majority made mayhem and the few goodie goodies worked at the assigned tasks.

The Gospel story of the absentee landlord is a bit like the teacher who leaves the room and the admonition is the same yet more serious. ‘Absence is a test’. There is a life’s work allocated to each of us and we have a choice either to faithfully carry out that work or be like kids who play up and hope we don’t get caught out by an unexpected return.

It’s amazing how so many have no idea how to profitably spend the time we have. We get stuck in a rut or a comfort zone where precious time goes by unnoticed. So many waste vast quantities of their lives stuck in front of the television often watching rubbish that provides as much nourishment for the mind as chewing gum gives to the body. Then there is that dreadful term ‘killing time’ which seems to run so contrary to the basic instinct for survival.

It’s an old saying that ‘Time is like the tide, it waits for no man or woman’ and whether we like it or not, the Latin phrase found on clocks years ago is so true ‘Tempus fugit’ –

time flies.

So many of us find it difficult to get time working for us. It either goes so fast where there’s never enough of it and we have so many conflicting demands and pressures or too slow and so we become lethargic.

Whatever our relationship to that precious commodity happens to be, Advent is an invitation to wake up and become more aware of what life is all about and not get lost in trivialities. After all, ‘absence is a test’

Mon 4th Dec – Being True to our Purpose

Perhaps a litmus test to determine whether we have made the transition into the second half of life or not is whether we are still seeking to have that which we love to love what we have. Carl Jung believed that true religion belonged to this second half of life and that it was all about coming home to ourselves. For this to happen all the vestiges of the false self, that thrives on illusions, needed to be stripped away and while this would be a cause of great suffering it would also be a time of enormous spiritual awakening. Out of this would emerge a renewed sense of purpose, a fruitful quest for meaning and an awareness of Destiny and its demands. The soul now gets its satisfaction from being true to its highest purpose. Here it realizes that God’s goal is all about union and that we are not in any manner separate from God, from ourselves or from others. This is also the stage where the ego that has been gradually and painfully cracked open learns to become the servant of the soul instead of its master.

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