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The Secret Garden: Chapters 19, 20 and 21 
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So what about the ghost? Is the ghost of Colin's mother there in the garden?


I guess it depends on how you see a ghost. The 'spirit' of Colin's mother is there and also she seems to be with Mr Craven on his hike when he starts to lose some of his bitterness when he sits down by the flowers, which gives us the sense of both the magic of growing things, nature, and the spirit of his wife are working.



Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:07 pm
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I'm so excited by the interesting directions this discussion has taken. For those interested in the Theosophy link Thomas posted, there are many current (as in our "now" rather than Burnett's) texts and "New Age" books and approaches that are descendents of this strand of metaphysical thought. Some are fanciful and some brilliantly observed and experienced insights.

It seems hardly "magical" to me. I think that anyone who goes into a natural setting for any length of time is affected by the patterns, chemistry, ecology -- in shorthand, by the subtle energy of that place. This can be healing or it can provide one with the "precious bane" of a challenge, leading to constructive action and renewal, as in the case of my poison oak, without which I would not have cleaned my house and every piece of fabric I wear or touch quite as thoroughly as I just have this past week. My interaction with this plant species initially appeared to have sucked, granted, yet our home is now very comfortable and clean. But I digress.

The idea of getting "back to the Garden" in the green movements of the late 20th century to present, the connection between the individual's emotions and nature we have been discussing in the poetry strands at this site, and the science-influenced metaphysics of Theosophy and it's children -- all are instances of an attempt on the part of Western culture to come to terms with a living environmental matrix that resists the crude treatment of it as a mere object. Also of other living beings as objects. Mary's healing comes in finding her own "bit of earth," a place which like her is neglected and shut out of sight of those who might care for it; in caring for this bit of life outside of herself, she heals herself. The process demands that she care also for others, sometimes holding them accountable or using them as mirrors for self-discovery, but never will it do simply to shut them out or pretend they are objects for her to use at will. Life cannot be in isolation. It needs nourishment, light, water, sun, love. Nothing lives in and of itself. This is the reality of connectedness, wholeness, which people mistakenly label "spiritual" although it is simply a fact at every level of our experience including the physical.


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Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:16 pm
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Hi GR9. Yes, the theosophy article by Leadbetter was good. I read about him in a biography of Krishnamurti, and he had a strongly telluric sense of the energy of natural rocks as a result of meditating in the bushland around Sydney, where I also grew up, and where I had favourite spots such as Whale Rock in North Epping. In Australia the energy of place is a strong theme in Aboriginal dreaming spirituality and art. Australian bushland is much less affected by human disturbance than in Europe, and there is a sense of ancient undisturbed complexity and sensitivity about it.

Re the 'back to the garden' idea from Joni Mitchell, I had an exchange with the distinguished theologian NT Wright about this at a conference in Canberra. He lambasted the new age movement, citing Woodstock for its supposed line 'we are starlight' which he said was false. I pointed out to him that in fact the song says 'we are stardust' which is empirically correct. I have no respect for him as he is an apologist for many untrue ideas in conventional Christianity.

You are right that Burnett is part of a strand of thought that I would call natural wisdom, but it remains the case that this entire way of thought is rejected by mainstream opinion. I think The Secret Garden is a diagnosis of this pathology of rejection of nature. Other books I like in this theme include the work of Carlos Castaneda and James Redfield.

Your comment about magic is well put. I think this area is riven with confusion, as clearly it is not possible to break the laws of physics, but within natural law there are complex events, such as Dickon's conversations with the robin, which are highly unusual and rely on a rare attunement to nature which by ordinary standards can be called magical.



Last edited by Robert Tulip on Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Dec 23, 2008 10:17 pm
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GentleReader9 wrote:
Mary's healing comes in finding her own "bit of earth," a place which like her is neglected and shut out of sight of those who might care for it;


That is an insightful observation -- the correspondence of outer and inner, the secret garden and the hidden self. And that's what I think magic is. It's the basis of all creative endeavor.

Tom



Wed Dec 24, 2008 7:49 pm
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Robert Tulip Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:17 pm

Quote:
Hi GR9. Yes, the theosophy article by Leadbetter was good. I read about him in a biography of Krishnamurti, and he had a strongly telluric sense of the energy of natural rocks as a result of meditating in the bushland around Sydney, where I also grew up, and where I had favourite spots such as Whale Rock in North Epping. In Australia the energy of place is a strong theme in Aboriginal dreaming spirituality and art. Australian bushland is much less affected by human disturbance than in Europe, and there is a sense of ancient undisturbed complexity and sensitivity about it.


Hello, Robert Tulip,

And Merry Christmas; as I recall you do celebrate it. I hope it is a warm and beautiful day full of whatever kind of magic is best for you and all the others who visit this site and read this message now and in the future.

My wishing this is a kind of "magic" based on the concept of magical words or powerful writing, forms which can hold my emotional, intellectual intent and "content." The strange idea behind this used to be that you could make marks on stones, on papyrus -- or on nothing but the air, for you can speak, chant or sing certain sounds into a moment -- and others, present or absent, would be affected by it. It was true then and it's true now, to the degree that people choose to learn to participate in the process.

You can look at this post, know that I mean you well, that I wish you warm and happy, and choose to feel that. But look at the improbability! You are on the other side of the world, reading electronic patterns of energy and feeling how you feel about it. Human beings are powerful and intense creatures, each with ancient and deep connections to the physical world and to each other, no matter where they are. Like Mary and the others in the book, we have power and we get to decide how to use it, with what kind of spirit.

I open my heart to the spirit of the ancient dreaming around you, written on the Australian part of the earth and I breathe in the awareness of it with respect and love for the people who left it to us. I believe they meant us well and remember them as grandparents, great-aunts and uncles, with love and high regard.

I have to work now. More later.


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Thu Dec 25, 2008 12:14 pm
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GentleReader9 wrote:
The strange idea behind this [wishing] used to be that you could make marks on stones, on papyrus -- or on nothing but the air, for you can speak, chant or sing certain sounds into a moment -- and others, present or absent, would be affected by it.


I differ from you on this GR9. In my belief and experience all utterance conveys unconscious attitude as well as conscious intention. What a person consciously intends (affirms) is of little importance as compared to unconscious attitude, which is the real self.

Tom



Fri Dec 26, 2008 10:23 am
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Did I say "conscious?". I don't think I did. Wishes and intents are both conscious and unconscious, with less of a gap between the two the more thoroughly self-aware or spiritually awake in the dream of self a person is.

You will have to try harder than that in order to be in disagreement with me, Thomas. :D


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Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:59 am
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GentleReader9 wrote:
Did I say "conscious?" I don't think I did.


No, you didn't uses the word "conscious" but isn't it implicit?

Quote:
"My wishing . . . ", "You can look . . . know . . . choose. . .. But look . . . ."


Conscious affirmation is recommended in The Secret Garden, and I think Frances Burnett practiced what she preached, but in my limited experience, persons who practice affirmations receive opposite results from what they intent. I found Burnett herself described as a difficult and unhappy woman, and at times she abandoned her children like the children of The Secret Garden. And what makes The Secret Garden so powerful is her unconscious expression of herself, which I think I might say of you :)

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Wishes and intents are both conscious and unconscious, with less of a gap between the two the more thoroughly self-aware or spiritually awake in the dream of self a person is.


Would you please expand on this gap and say how you think it may be bridged or narrowed?

Tom



Mon Dec 29, 2008 2:12 pm
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Mary's healing comes in finding her own "bit of earth," a place which like her is neglected and shut out of sight of those who might care for it; in caring for this bit of life outside of herself, she heals herself. The process demands that she care also for others, sometimes holding them accountable or using them as mirrors for self-discovery, but never will it do simply to shut them out or pretend they are objects for her to use at will. Life cannot be in isolation. It needs nourishment, light, water, sun, love. Nothing lives in and of itself. This is the reality of connectedness, wholeness, which people mistakenly label "spiritual" although it is simply a fact at every level of our experience including the physical.


What a beautiful way to describe Mary's reawakening. I love how in the story of The Secret Garden Mary goes from isolation to a world filled with wonderful people and animals who support her.



Mon Dec 29, 2008 6:05 pm
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I found Burnett herself described as a difficult and unhappy woman, and at times she abandoned her children like the children of The Secret Garden. And what makes The Secret Garden so powerful is her unconscious expression of herself, which I think I might say of you

Quote:
Wishes and intents are both conscious and unconscious, with less of a gap between the two the more thoroughly self-aware or spiritually awake in the dream of self a person is.


Would you please expand on this gap and say how you think it may be bridged or narrowed?

Tom


What do I know? According to you my power is in my "unconscious expression" of myself. :laugh: (This is the kind of thing men tell women a lot, by the way. I have no idea how they know what we are conscious or unconscious about). At least, that's how I'm choosing to interpret what you said I have in common with Burnett, rather than fearing you mean I probably abandoned my children and am difficult and unhappy.

But would that shoe fit? I know that I can be difficult, but that I am actually quite happy most of the time. (Bad and happy; the best of both worlds!) There are senses in which I could be said on occasion to have "abandoned children," my daughter, and children to whom I was being something like a parent or stepparent. I look at this and consider it, not because I think you meant it or think it of me, but because it pertains to your question about increasing self-awareness.

The "narrowing of the gap" between how I see myself and how I affect others unconsciously -- to the degree that I have experienced such a thing, which I am not claiming is exceptional -- comes with a willingness to be honest with myself about my motives, and the effects of my actions. Also it comes with a willingness to face everything that might possibly be true about me according to other people's experiences of me, to hear it and be accountable for how I impact people whether I meant to have that effect or not. Then I get to adjust my choices accordingly, in greater awareness of their effects on others, and the gap narrows. I'm not saying I know more about myself than other people; I'm saying that to the extent that I have grown in this way in my life, this is how it generally happens.

Friday morning I woke up feeling gratitude that I have my daughter living with me, that she wants to be with me still at nineteen, and the feeling was such a good one that I sat down and made a list of everything that I was grateful for and sat feeling that feeling of liking my life for about a half an hour after I was done. So there you have it. Despite having done some emotional abandonment, I am nevertheless happy as a mother and a person, and I hope I get less difficult for others, especially for children and those who, like children, depend on me, as I try to be more conscious and grow. Does that give an applicable example of what I mean and why I think so?


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Mon Dec 29, 2008 6:12 pm
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GentleReader9 wrote:
According to you my power is in my "unconscious expression" of myself. (This is the kind of thing men tell women a lot, by the way. I have no idea how they know what we are conscious or unconscious about).


I tell both genders the same: "paralinguistic signs" -- gesture, tone, pitch, speed of expression, pacing, vocabulary selection, choice of topic, level of formality, symbolism, unconscious suggestion, timing, repetition, . . . . People quite unconsciously wholly put themselves in what they say, do, and write. That's where the true self is. Me too. Expression is so complex that no one can totally fake a false front. This is not a popular idea because people so much want to be in control of the presentation of themselves. I am of the opinion that we would be better off if we would often ignored what people say (reference) and attended to how they say it (revelation) -- the spirit in which what they say is said. And I hope that I would be treated the same way.

Quote:
But would that shoe fit?


I wasn't trying to put you into Frances Burnett's shoes. (Probably you'd be more comfortable in Susan Sowerby's.) The Secret Garden is so successful because she unconsciously put herself into it. That is where the energy of creativity comes from.

My opinion is that the gap between the conscious and unconscious self can be narrowed by the close reading of good literature.

Tom

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paralanguage
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonverbal_communication



Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:05 pm
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I can help!!!

:clap:

I was going to ask if paralinguistics applied to written text, as we have here on Booktalk. But first I read the links and found:

"However, the distinction linguistic vs. paralinguistic applies not only to speech but to writing and sign language as well, and it is not bound to any sensory modality. Even vocal language has some paralinguistic as well as linguistic properties that can be seen (lip reading, McGurk effect), and even felt, e.g. by the Tadoma method."

This is yummy information.



Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:19 pm
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Interbane wrote:
I can help!!!


Welcome to the The Secret Garden, Interbane. It's good for many conditions. And you have such interesting paralinguistic signs too :)

Tom



Mon Dec 29, 2008 9:29 pm
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Thomas wrote:

Quote:
I tell both genders the same: "paralinguistic signs" -- gesture, tone, pitch, speed of expression, pacing, vocabulary selection, choice of topic, level of formality, symbolism, unconscious suggestion, timing, repetition, . . . . People quite unconsciously wholly put themselves in what they say, do, and write. That's where the true self is. Me too. Expression is so complex that no one can totally fake a false front. This is not a popular idea because people so much want to be in control of the presentation of themselves. I am of the opinion that we would be better off if we would often ignored what people say (reference) and attended to how they say it (revelation) -- the spirit in which what they say is said. And I hope that I would be treated the same way.


Well, yes. There is nothing I disagree with here. In fact at work I'm supposed to teach people to be aware of those modes of communication you call "paralinguistic signs" and to do what we somewhat less elegantly call "meeting people where they are at." But having unconscious motivations, and still learning because I am human, makes this an ongoing process.

I also agree that everyone has "a voice" that can be "heard" even in writing, and that this can't be completely controlled.

I do think there is a certain tendency among men I have met to attribute less self-awareness to women as speakers and actors than...I like, anyway. It reminds me of St. Augustine saying that pagans "spoke more truth than they knew" and using what they said to demonstrate Christian truths as universal and eternal.

All this has nothing to do with your personal motives and intentions; it's a notion I had about what men do before I knew you existed which may distort my interpretation of what your unconscious motives or assumptions might actually be. You could have some of those notions about people too, and think you were seeing an unconscious motive of theirs if they denied it. (It could happen to anyone.)

Another aspect of our training is to identify what our communication modes are, where they come from, and that not everyone shares them or our interpretations of them. We try not to assume, to check in about our understanding of what the person is saying and to let them be the authority on what they mean, how they feel, what they want, how they label their experience and so forth. I've always been hypersensitive to other people's interpretations of me, and I'm not sure if this work environment has helped with that or not.

In short, yes, I wish I could control what other people think I mean and who they think I am. What it helps to remember is -- they don't care! They care what I think they mean and who I think they are, and they want to be the final commentator on that. Which is okay with me.

I know you meant what you said about unconscious power in a kind spirit. And it was clear the other meanings were not what you suggested. They just illustrated my learning process.


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Tue Dec 30, 2008 7:11 pm
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GentleReader9 wrote:
I know you meant what you said about unconscious power in a kind spirit.


Indeed I did, but I'm a country boy with poor social skills, and sometime I step on others' toes when I don't mean to.

Interbane, bless his loving heart, has given a wonderful example of how people put themselves in what they do. You read his blog story "Cybrain" and commented:

Quote:
I am very impressed with your ability to just let the story and images come forward in an honest, seemingly unedited, almost dream-like flow of rich and over-determined possible meanings without grabbing any of them and forcing it to be a story clearly "about" something intended and didactic. I hear lots of themes from booktalk discussions resonating in the background, like "day residue" in a dream. Interesting. I'm glad I was allowed to read it.


But Interbane is putting his concerns and his interests into this revelatory story, and in case we didn't find him in it, he later gives us a clue. In his thread on Love Interbane said:

Quote:
On a side note, I've forgotten my depression medication and have no more till tomorrow.


So now we know for sure why the Cybrain person was concerned with brain chemistry and why such details as getting the chip in Canada are in the story. As soon as Interbane gets the Love concept solved, I hope he'll read The Secret Garden and learn how love really develops and write another story.

Tom



Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:34 pm
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DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

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