This question follows work in which the client had an image of a pumpkin sitting on the back of a wagon going to market that fell off and rotted. Starts with a gestalt use of dreamwork.

Cl: I have a question about the death of the pumpkin, the death and the rebirth.

Dick: This is one of the great archetypal patterns and I talked about it somewhat, you know, death and rebirth. Die and become spirit. Die and be born. And if you don't have that experience, you are merely a passing guest on the earth. You are nothing.

I have had that experience myself. I remember, I was working with Steve Tobin, president of the Los Angeles Gestalt Therapy Institute in 1970. .... I had had a dream. I had dreamt, and I don't know who it was, someone had made an apple pie, and I cut out a wedge, a piece about this thick, of very juicy apple pie with a wonderful brown crust, and I was holding it in my hand, and I said, "This looks like the pie that my grandmother used to make." And I was about to bite the end off the wedge, take a deep bite, when I woke up. But I had the dream very clearly.

Steve Tobin, in doing dream work, used a gestalt technique, one of many Gestalt methods but he used it almost exclusively. It was to continue the dream after you woke up and ended it. You continue it. That is one way of doing Gestalt dream work. One that you can all do with your own dreams. You just go through the dream up to the point where the dream ended, either because you woke up, or it ended. And then just tell yourself to keep on dreaming. While you are awake. And just go on, it is a wonderfully effective way of working. He said, " What is it that you don't do in this dream" And I said, "I don't bite the pie. I woke up." He said, "All right, go ahead, bite the pie and experience that." So I am there and I see the pie and I bite it. And he said, "Go ahead now and tell me everything that is happening." And I said, "I am going ahead and bit the pie and I am chewing it, chewing it, and chewing it, and the pie is moving around in my mouth and now I swallow it. It goes down in my stomach. I felt it in my stomach. And now I feel in going through my small intestines. All the intestinal juice is squirting in along the way. It goes through the large intestines. This took quite a while. And it goes round and round and it comes up here and goes round here. And he said, "Be the pie!" and so I was the pie experiencing this. And I am being squeezed out more and more and more until I disappear into the body and I got absorbed. And some of me keeps passing on and finally emerges from his rectum and this single turd, feces, falls out of me. And when it falls out. I, Dick Olney, am somehow out in this field on a starry night, and it is quite cold, but not bitterly cold. It is a brisk night. The kind of night you might get in the autumn, you know. A brisk, dry, night. Very clear with crisp stars. The feces drops down and ..there it was. And he says to me, "Do you have any feeling of disgust with that turd?" And I said, "No, not at all." And he said, "Be the turd." And I said, "OK, I am." And as I let myself be that, I had this oceanic feeling, incredible feeling, a peak experience. I suddenly felt myself totally expanded so that I was not only was part of it but that I was the entire universe. Something like what you were experiencing, I would assume. Because it is hard to say what the experience is like for another person, to say that another person experiences is just like yours. Total sensation of a sense of ego. You just lose it. An incredible religious expansion. I can only can it religious, not connected with any religion, of course.

I have had that experience. And that is when I asked you to fall off the wagon, to have the pumpkin jolted by an accident. And broken. Well, nobody is going to pick up a broken pumpkin when they are on their way to market with a load full of pumpkins that they can sell. That pumpkin is gone. And it is there lying in the field, and what is going to happen to it? It is possible that some birds are going to pick at it. But for the most part, it is just going to dissolve and rot and go back into the earth. And this is the experience, because when that happens, the seed of regeneration is already latently there. You don't have to talk about it. And if we had waited long enough, you would have regenerated, but it was getting late so then I suggested that now it was time to regenerate and you very quickly responded to that. Does that make sense?

That experience that you had there, that you did with that, was exactly what N. did when he flew apart. It is the same thing. And it is the same thing that some people here have experienced who have journeyed and have been dismembered by a power animal. Totally torn apart. They are gone. And of course the idea of flying to pieces, the idea of being dismembered by an animal, the idea of being torn apart, the idea of lying on the ground and rotting: in terms of semantic reality is a very negative thing. But remember what we are working with? It is to free ourselves from the notions that inhabit the realm of semantic reality and to experience direct experience. And that is what you were doing.

And this business of being digested until there is nothing but feces left that falls to the ground and fertilizes the ground, or being the fruit, an apple or a pumpkin that lies on the ground and rots until it disappears, or being torn to pieces, or being shaken to pieces. It is all the same thing. The ego is lost and it is not an easy thing to lose your ego. It is not easy to lose it. The more you try, the less you can do it. Because what goes into your intent to lose your ego? It is your egotism, that is what keeps you going. You see, it is a Catch-22. What keeps you going in your intent to give up your ego is your ego. So the more you try to give it up, the more you are focusing with your ego. And that is a Catch-22. The more you try to give it up, the more you have got it. And Thich Nhat Hahn, it one of his lectures on Psychotherapy says, "It is ridiculous to talk about dissolving the ego, because how can you dissolve something that doesn't exist, you see. And yet that is what we try to do.

And so you can't do it deliberately by sitting down and saying, "Aha, I am going to Nirvana. Nirvana for me. I am going to give up my ego now." Try it. You can't do it. ... The way that you work with it is that you have to be a trickster. You have to trick your unconscious mind. You have to trick it. Like wily Odysseus, you know, at the fall of Troy. He said, "We will sail away in the night. We will have a big feast and a big celebration and they will wonder what we are celebrating and then during the night we will disappear. But we will leave this huge wooden horse, and inside the belly of the horse are armed men being very quiet. And we will go one step further, we are going to leave a slave, one of my favorite slaves whom I can trust. We are going to leave him here and he will be found, and before they kill him, they will ask, "Why are you here?" and he will say, "They left me behind as punishment for something that I did and I will tell you the whole story. They have given up and this huge horse that they have built is an offering to the goddess Athena for their safe return." You see Athena was the patroness, the goddess of the Greek city of Athens, but of course, throughout the Hellenic world she was honored along with the other Olympian gods. And they heard that and they said, "Hmmm, what we will do is that we will move this huge horse into the city, in front of the temple of Athena that we have and it will then be our tribute to Athena that we have. But he was so crafty. A less crafty man would have put the horse on wheels so you could move it, right? And the intelligent Trojans would have said, "Why is the horse on wheels? They want us to move it into the city, eh. I smell a rat. (knock, knock). It sounds hollow in there! Bring the fires!" But he left the horse standing as if it was going to stand there permanently, so they had to put rollers on it to move it and then they were ready and they broke down the city gates and moved the horse in. And as you know, during the next night, the Greeks came tip toeing back across the ocean waves in their boats and they landed. And as they moved up to the city where the gates had now been broken down, the men inside broke out of the horse and that was the end of Troy. You have to. The unconscious mind is a Trojan fortress. And you cannot overcome it by force. The Greeks for ten years tried it and they couldn't do it. And when they finally succeeded, it was by a trick. So that is the way it is. OK? ...

Question: There were two things that you said in your opening talk yesterday that have been of interest to me all my life. One is the prodigal son and the other is the poem of Omar Kyam, and the symbolism behind that, what the wine was, and the bread.

Dick: What I said was that in Islam according to the holy Koran, alcohol is completely forbidden, and so the Sufi poets such as Omar Kyam and Ruby and many others would often use wine, the forbidden wine as the symbol for intoxication with God, they were saying that symbolically say that intoxication with wine drives you crazy and is a symbol for a different kind of intoxication, an intoxication with God, which can, in the eyes of ordinary people make you crazy. And so they often use that and in that famous quatrain by Eugene O'Neil used in Ah Wilderness. He said,

"a book of verses underneath the bough,

a flask of wine, a loaf of bread, and Thou,

beside me singing in the wilderness.

Ah wilderness, where paradise is now.

Well, what he is talking about there is not somebody sitting with his lady and actually getting drunk with a bottle of wine. He is talking about being out in a desert where he has absolutely nothing. And simply having nothing but God intoxication and the presence of God. That is the bough beside me in the wilderness, God beside me in the wilderness. Wilderness would be paradise.


The other thing is the story of the prodigal son in the new testament. You all know that story don't you? Everybody knows it. The point of that story. You know it is very easy to sympathize with the second son, the good son, so called, who stayed and worked and helped his father's estate to grow and did everything his father wanted him to. And then the one who has gone out and blown everything is the one who gets the splendid feast and is treated with honor. There is, from the ordinary point of view, is something very unfair about that. I mean the one who stays behind and does the dirty work and is responsible and reliable, is the one who should get the reward. And the one who goes out and wastes everything should be allowed to go to hell. But they just turn that around. And when the son complains and says, "It isn't fair that you treat my brother with honor when he has been such a wastrel. The father replies with a logic of a higher order. He is not arguing with what is fair in terms of who made the effort and so on. He is talking in terms of a higher order. He is saying, "what is lost to me, something that I love, has come back. And so I am not going to punish this recovered son because he deserted me, and wasted everything and so on. I can only celebrate his return. And this is the essence of Self Acceptance Training.

When you discover that you are doing something that you don't want to do, that you are doing the wrong thing; you have a choice, you are going along, you are observing yourself, and you come to this point and you discover that you are making a mistake. You've made a mistake and you've discovered it. That's the point at which the Prodigal Son realizes that he has wasted his life. Now. When you discover that you have made a mistake, at this point on the road you are traveling diverges into two roads, one goes this way and one goes that way, and one is the road on which you observe your mistake and you correct it, and you even say, "Thank God, I see what I have been doing." You are not overcome with grief and shame, but you are overcome with joy that you finally see it, that you are not doing that anymore, you can correct it. The other path is: I observe myself and condemn myself.

And I cannot take both paths at the same time. If I observe and condemn myself, I will continue to do what is the bad thing for me to do. And a lot of people say, "Spare the rod and spoil the child. If I don't criticize him, how is he ever going to change? If I don't criticize myself, how will I change? If I criticize myself, I will not change. Self criticism, self condemnation is the mother of the continuance of evil. It simply keeps it going. And I experience joy because now I can recover that which is lost to me. Can you see that? And that is really important. And that to me is the story of the prodigal son, what that means. And I know, for years I used to think, the second son, he had a point there. Because we tend to identify with the good guy.

Cl: That is what I do is identify with the good guy.

Dick: He is a good guy but in some ways he is not quite good enough. You can't travel the two roads at the same time. Robert Frost says,

"Somewhere, sometime, I shall be telling this with a sigh,

Two roads diverged in a wood

And I, I took the road less traveled by

and that has made all the difference."


The road you take. And that is the law of karma. And the law of karma is usually misunderstood. The law of karma is the law of cause and effect. You don't have to call it karma, call it cause and effect. But most people misunderstand it because all they do is look at their present misery and say, "This is what I get because I did that." They see the present situation as punishment for the past and they think that is karma. The law of karma says that this is happening right now, in this moment, and the way I respond to it, will be the cause of all that I will be, tonight, tomorrow, or next year. In other words, you can look at your present situation, we can all look at ourselves sitting here in this workshop, and we can all easily see that it is the effect of all kinds of things that we have done in the past. Different people have done different things, you know, and have ended up here, and I have ended up here because of all kinds of things in the past. But everything that has happened in the past has brought us together. We look at this as effect, effect, effect, effect, effect. and then of course we can sigh and blame ourselves for having caused it. There is another way of looking at it. The fact that you are sitting there and that I am sitting here and the fact that each one of us is the cause of what is to happen next. So we can look at our life not as: effect, effect, effect effect; but as cause, cause, cause. We are responsible. The law of karma will bring it around again. But instead of sitting here and biting my nails and pulling my hair because I am being paid off for being bad, let me see that this is a golden opportunity, golden opportunity to change. So that the next time I think about this, it will be different, it won't be just the same. The law of karma. Well OK, that's the lecture for this morning. I had planned on talking about something else, but this is just as good. So who wants to work?

Next: Ego Investment