In my newly arrived copy of the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, I flipped to my favorite section, “Books the Editors Are Reading,” to browse through the titles. Elmer Green wrote that he was “Re-reading with greater depth and ‘to find parallels with what I’ve experienced – or learned from The Teacher.'” Among his listed titles in this endeavor are the Tolkein trilogy and the Harry Potter books.
Elmer Green holds a Ph.D. in Biopsychology and is best known for work on the clinical use of biofeedback and mind/body self-regulation. I smiled at the thought of him reading Harry Potter which, incidentally, I am also reading these days. I felt badly about it for awhile. I have plenty of scholarly books I “ought to” be reading. But this is a stressful time, and truly, the child self needs a bit of care and feeding too. So I’m currently on the third book. Last night I read the chapter in which Harry confronts the bogart, a magical creature who likes to hide in dark places and frighten people by assuming the shape of whatever it is they fear most. The way to disarm a bogart is, of course, to laugh at it, rendering it powerless. Harry becomes afraid of the form the bogart will take, because what he fears most is a creature that sucks the happiness out of a person and leaves him with his own worst thoughts. Harry’s teacher notes that this is very wise; what Harry is actually most afraid of is fear.
This does parallel, with striking accuracy, what I’ve learned from The Teacher. Elmer Green would most likely agree. Biofeedback is often used to diffuse the body’s reaction to fear so as to alleviate suffering. It is the experiencing of the fear, more often that not, that we are afraid of. It’s the fear that sucks the life out of us, leaving us with only our worst thoughts. It’s fear, and not the object of the fear, that is demoralizing and exhausting.
These days, as has so often been the case at times of transition, my bogart takes the form of the future. And it does hide in dark places, in thoughts about the unknown or in that space right before sleep when my mind has just begun to let its guard down.