Zap Oracle Card # - © Jonathan Zap
text and photo © Jonathan Zap
For example, whenever I plan out how long a certain chore or project will take, I have found that it often takes two to four times longer than I think it will. When I attempt to plan, I put on my ego’s glasses. With my ego’s glasses on, the fisheye, backward, darkling distortions of the Babylon Matrix flatten out into a chessboard-like landscape. The ego sees how it can checkmate the chore or project in three or four moves. Through the ego’s glasses, I conveniently forget to see the dark, distorting fields of the Babylon Matrix, the laws of mechanical resistance, the strange and sometimes chilling winds blowing through my psyche, and through the whole species, so that we make our moves quite often against the wind, and in a landscape where gravity is unstable, and the blowing sheets of rain are laced with psychoactive substances altering our moods and perceptions. And when you make your moves against the wind, in a landscape where gravity is unstable, and the blowing sheets of rain are laced with psychoactive substances altering our moods and perceptions, then you will find that many chores and projects take two to four times longer than you thought they would when you were wearing ego glasses that saw the world as a nice, neat chessboard.
My point is neither complaint nor discouragement, quite the opposite. We learn and develop more in the Babylon Matrix than we would in a chessboard world. Also, it is encouraging to realize that we may be doing better than we think we are given the conditions that we labor under. For example, we may marvel at the wonderful novel or painting or invention someone made. But if you read his biography you may often marvel all the more at how he got anything done, even taking out the trash, given the problems and conditions he labored under. Look again at Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and as you gaze at its cosmic magnificence, try to also hold in your mind the horrendous life conditions Vincent labored under, his strong genetic tendency toward bipolar disorder, the failure to sell any paintings to anyone but his brother while he lived, his woefully deficient diet, and so forth and so on, and see if the star of Starry Night doesn’t seem to glow even brighter in your mind as you realize the darkened sky under which he labored.
The night before I wrote this card, I had ended the evening feeling like I wasn’t getting enough done, and went to this oracle and the I Ching looking for answers. The oracles didn’t seem to cooperate with my agenda. I was in a self-help mode; I wanted the five steps to an effective and efficient life, but the Zap Oracle was emphasizing the shadow aspects of life. In the “What to prioritize…” place I drew the card “Beautiful Friendship,” yet I had been thinking that key relationships were what was getting in the way of my accomplishment. The I Ching gave me “Inner Truth” and “Difficulty at the Beginning.” Not satisfied with what seemed to be oblique answers, I attempted some dream seeding, inviting my unconscious to manifest dreams that might address my questions about efficiency and effectiveness. In the dream that followed this request, I am a new recruit in a kind of boot camp. I’m aware in the dream that I am fifty-one (my age in the waking life), but I know that everyone else in boot camp is struggling too, and no one is going to want to hear about my age or how special I think I am. My attitude in the dream is one of modest acceptance and diligence. During the basic training session — and it seems we are in what appears to be a school classroom rather than an outdoor training field — we are told that a psychoanalytic program is available to us that takes about forty-two years. When I awoke from the dream, I realized that I’m about thirty-one years into that program in the waking life, so I have about eleven years to go. Now that I know what’s involved much better than I did when I was twenty, I realize that those will have to be eleven very highly developmental years indeed if I’m going to finish so soon. The message from the unconscious, in response to the questions from my ego about how to live my life more effectively and efficiently, was that life is like a cross between boot camp and a classroom, and the psychological development part of the program, if you choose to engage it, is a bit more than the expected ten weeks of boot camp, about forty-two years more. Also, rather than complaining about these conditions, my focus needs to be on modest acceptance and diligence.
Also last night, during the same hour when I was resisting what seemed like oblique answers from the oracle, I was skimming the news via internet and a few sentences in a news story about obesity in women caught my attention. I had an uncanny sense that those few sentences contained a more direct answer to my questions about efficiency and effectiveness. Here’s what I read:
“Inappropriate restraint was a third major factor tied to women with excess weight in both of these recent studies. Restraint seems to have two different faces, since it has been linked with lower calorie consumption and lower weight, but also with weight gain and overweight. The European study of middle-aged women adds important insight by differentiating between the two types of restraint. Rigid restraint involves strict eating rules and a downside that it may promote binge eating once you break a rule. It was linked with greater short-term weight loss, but after two years was unrelated to weight. However, flexible restraint, a habit of moderate self-regulation and compensation for occasional high-calorie choices, was one of the strongest predictors of weight loss at two years.
“To encourage flexible restraint while avoiding overly rigid rules, experts urge us to create stable eating habits to meet nutritional and hunger needs without fostering a sense of deprivation. The Center for Mindful Eating recommends mindful eating that honors our food and our body’s hunger signals, portions that make sense and attitudes free of depriving rules and unrealistic expectations.” Source: “The Reasons We Eat” (msn.com)
In other words, under the difficult conditions of being an obese middle-aged woman trying to lose weight, perfectionism was counterproductive, and a more realistic, tolerant, flexible approach to discipline was effective. Working through the difficult conditions of the Babylon Matrix in general is helped by letting go of perfectionism and creating stable, flexible habits of discipline that you can live with. You allow for slip-ups and compensate for them rather than punishing yourself or trying to tighten the screws of control.
Last night I also went to sleep early, and set an alarm, even though it was a day off, for six hours later. Often I only need six hours of sleep, but this morning I found myself turning off the alarm and sleeping for an additional three hours. I woke up feeling discouraged that I slept so long, but I also realized that it was in the three hours after the alarm that I had the dream. I also found that I felt incredibly well rested and that I was in just the right state to write this card. The flexibility to sleep longer seemed to have worked out.
A couple of years ago, I was feeling really discouraged about the same efficiency/effectiveness issues and tackled the problem in an all-day writing session that became an essay entitled “Mechanical Resistance Matrix”. In the course of writing this essay I consulted with the I Ching which helped me to enumerate principles for dealing with a mechanically resistant matrix. Those principles paralleled what I found in the news story last night, and added a few more principles like attention to detail. I recommend reading that essay if this card seems relevant to you. Also extremely relevant are Path Finding/Day Mapping Kill the Time Grid and Fire Up your Life — A Lesson in Practical Magic and other documents in the Warrior Stance section of this site.
Consider this a propitious time to heal the way you work through a glass darkly.