My dreamwork mentor, Robert. A Johnson, was told by Carl Jung not to join anything. Jung did not even think the Zurich Institute was an appropriate way to train as a therapist. You learn what you needed in the field by actually doing the inner work. Johnson went on to gain notoriety as a Jungian teacher and therapist while being somewhat shunned by traditionally trained Jungians. He found his way by listening to his natural wisdom and gaining some therapeutic tools. Johnson said that he followed a “slender thread” all along he way.
I often reflect on the slender thread I have followed in this life. The mentors who inspired me share a common journey in that they all tended to go their own way. They were considered ‘edgy’ as gauged by the traditional way their respective work or spiritual paths were followed. My college professors created a wonderful religious studies department despite being in an agriculture, engineering, and science oriented university. Not surprisingly to me, I started out in biochemistry but graduated in comparative religions.
I followed the slender thread through guidance I received from Jacob Boehme, Thomas Merton, a grad school journey to Africa, Victor Frankl, my yogic lineage, a Hopi shaman, Robert A. Johnson (dreamwork), a Zen master, Don Riso and Russ Hudson (Enneagram), all the dakinis—the list is too long to detail here. This eventually led to Padmasambhava and Dudjom Lingpa whose Vajrayana Buddhist lineage heirs became my close teachers. A couple of indicators of this thread became startlingly clear when I discovered my root teacher in the Buddhist tradition, Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, had actually met Thomas Merton and my yoga lineage had a connection with Padmasambhava. Of course, this thread was always held together with sojourns in the natural world with my crazy wonderful wife, Tarn.
I wonder how I ever managed to maintain continuity with the thread, but then I remember the power of karma. Karma follows traces left by numerous lifetimes. If we can recognize and align the positive traces in our lives, we will recognize a kind of theme that ties our personal narrative together. It is a story of the natural pull to liberate negative aspects and follow our heart’s longing. We all have a theme aligned with the good qualities of our hearts. It helps if we settle the mind and gain some clarity about unhelpful habit patterns so we can re-discover the slender thread.