When it happens that a human being grows up under difficult circumstances, or from lack of loving and understanding he inevitably becomes distorted. He is thrown back upon himself. Inevitably, he reacts to such conditions by developing postures which are the result of continuous adaptation. By means of this he protects its natural ego, but always at the expense of the growth of his individual essence.
Karlfreid von Dürckheim
Pamela L. Travers did grow up in difficult circumstances and she never felt loved nor understood by her family. And, as discussed in last week’s post, I believe that one of the major causes for Pamela’s psychological blockages stems from her repressed feelings of resentment towards her mother.
A bothersome question now arises.
Did Dürckheim, who was aware of the consequential dynamics of the unresolved relationships between a child and a mother, identify the issue? This is quite possible, if we assume that during their meetings Pamela L. Travers opened up about her childhood experiences, something that she was reluctant to do, at least in her writings, until she was in her seventies and eighties.
But if he did identify the cause of her blockages, did he point them out to her? Or did he choose to “…. call him (her) to enter upon his (her) innate Way in order that his (her) essential self may begin its struggle towards the light?”
Translated in ordinary language, did he encourage her to recognize her inner nature by delving deeply into herself by means of breathing and meditating exercises, hoping that she would eventually experience healing inner insights? He seems to have privileged that route: “The man who feels himself lost in utter darkness in the world which, so long as he is caught in his ego, thrusts him into fear, despair and loneliness, may be the one uniquely ready to hear the call of his essential being -ready to respond to the summons that, breaking through his ego-shell, brings him to awareness of his inner core.” Did he feel that Pamela was ready to break through her Dark Night of the Soul? Did he anticipate that a more directive approach would only strengthen the defense mechanisms of her ego?
Of course, there are no certain answers to these questions; no answers at all actually. There can only be speculations.
Dürckheim held that to go trough the Wheel of Transformation (his model of spiritual and psychological growth which will not be discussed in this post) a person must first be firmly grounded in himself and in life.
And proper grounding begins with a proper nurturing. He also believed that the body needs to adapt a proper posture so to allow the life energy from the earth to circulate through the body and allow a person to adapt to the forces from above.
The physical grounding center, the gravity center of a person according to a concept Dürckheim borrowed from Zen teachings, is located in the belly.
This is what he writes about that center: “That power which enables us to be truly centered lies, physically, in the middle of the body, in Hara, or more accurately, in the pelvic region. Hara refers to an attitude by means of which man is anchored ‘below’ in such a way that he is freed from habitual restrictions brought about by being tip-heavily centered ‘above’ in his world-ego. This setting-down into strength within man’s own being to support and mould him, and to give direction to his life.”
Curious enough, Pamela L. Travers experienced health issues related to the lower parts of her body. She had digestive troubles and bowel problems which affected her throughout her life. She also wrote notes to herself about the fear she experienced in her body. Her biographer, who was so fortunate to read her personal papers reports:
…the fear within often felt impenetrable, solid, separating the upper parts and lower parts of her body. She felt as if she was becoming this black fear, which at its worst extended dark rays into the other parts of her. Even when she wrote of the fear, to herself, her breath came up too quickly to her chest.