In October 1980, Patricia Sun gave a workshop in Charlotte, North Carolina. These are excerpts from my interview with her before the workshop.

— Elizabeth Campbell


SUN: It’s easy to feel powerless in our political system, which is ironic because we live in a democratic system. What’s your advice on taking responsibility for the future, particularly regarding nuclear power?

PATRICIA SUN: I think it’s more significant than ironic that so many people do feel powerless in a democratic system. Generally speaking, the feeling of powerlessness that the great mass of humanity carries around is created from within each individual; that is the poison. That is how you almost blind yourself and continue to play victim, because you already feel you are a victim.

Children pick up that anxiety and a pattern is set, of looking for a mommie or a daddy to make it all right all the way into adulthood.

I don’t think it’s an accident that Hitler was called Die Fuhrer, the Father. That is part of our mass psychology as a species almost, certainly Western culture: to look for, accurately in one sense, the thing greater than us to guide us.

All the directive, linear approaches to solving political problems aren’t invalid; just allow simultaneously a sense of destiny and a sense of love rather than powerlessness and fear, which only breed terror, which cause people you are accusing to go more unconscious and therefore become more dangerous and less responsible.

The main problem with atomic energy is that a large number of the people involved in handling it and governing it are very defensive about their position, and therefore go unconscious and make it very dangerous.

It is usable by us, but not at this time, because we’re too unconscious to handle it well. So you don’t match their fear, their defensiveness, with, “Oh God, it’s terrible, we’re living in an insane society.” You do what you can to give love, and centeredness. You offer facts, awareness, whatever you think is useful to know, but you offer it calmly, clearly, without an investment that anyone agree with you, and then you’re more likely to be heard.

This is the yin force, the Taoist concept. Lao-Tzu said, “That the soft conquers the hard, the yielding conquers the resistant, is a fact known by all men and yet utilized by none.”

That is the intrinsic shift in consciousness which will allow our intuitive mind, all our energies to become more conscious.

I am not disempowering linear consciousness, the yang function of marching in protest, or going out to vote. I’m saying that will be empowered, be more clear, more authentic, when the yin, the intuitive, the acausal, is allowed also, when the whole other hemisphere of the brain, a whole half of our heads, a huge aspect of our intelligence is utilized.

We really are still fighting our phantoms, projecting them out.

SUN: Who are you going to vote for in the presidential election?

PATRICIA SUN: I don’t know.

I don’t think Carter is doing as bad a job as people think. One of the main reasons we are angry at him is because he isn’t playing Daddy, and we want him to be macho-Daddy, taking care of everything. The very things we are considering his weaknesses are the things I think are his greatest assets: the caution, the calm, not buying into being inflammatory, going slowly. I think that’s very valuable for the most part. The Middle East peace efforts are a tremendous accomplishment.

He is still insecure, and he does things I don’t agree with, mostly political moves which he thinks he must do. He’s in that very awkward place that you get into when you’re making the shift — and you’re neither fish nor fowl, and you please nobody. You’re not clear enough to have true courage and conviction in your own direction and you start buying the reality around you that you’d better waffle, and appease this group or that group rather than just doing what you think you should do.

It’s better to make a mistake from trusting your gut, if you’re going to make a mistake. You’re closer to the Tao that way. And as we all know, in these times, it takes constant awareness to do that. Imagine the pulls for unconsciousness in the presidency. Of course, whoever is elected should receive our love and support to follow the Tao, even if unconsciously.

I really don’t care how anybody votes. They should vote for whomever they want to vote for.

SUN: What does the increasing prevalence of cancer say to you? Do you think it could be some evolutionary signal misfiring?

PATRICIA SUN: That’s good imagery, though it is probably not so much misfiring as needing to be integrated. Jung talks about digesting your shadow, looking at what you unconsciously judge in yourself. You start to discern that all diseases are psychosomatic. It’s like the veil is lifting, and when that energy pushes, if the personality doesn’t have the structure or wherewithal to recognize its own shadow which comes bounding out, then you project it onto somebody else.

In a metaphorical sense, that’s what cancer is: you disown certain cells, certain cells not under the body system, so disowned that even if they are defective they are not eliminated, just disowned, and that’s a very powerful metaphor to consider.

It does tend to empower people when they begin to consider that they needn’t blame themselves for having cancer, but that cancer is some aspect of being human that requires, for your empowerment, that you go through this crisis.

By taking it the way we do, as terrifying, we only make it worse. We leave less room to find health. We get more rigid and mechanistic about cutting “it” out, poisoning it out, burning it out.

I think there are approaches which can calm the body, and allow it to get better. The natural state of the body is health. Disease is dis-ease — stress and anxiety that are chronic, often from an unconscious refusal to experience crisis. The Chinese ideograph for crisis also means opportunity. Stress and anxiety also occur when one is in a state of accomplishment, creation, birth. When you learn to ride a bike, you wobble, you fall. It is a crisis/opportunity episode.

If we could just relax, instead of making cancer this dreaded evil. I almost got the image of the era when women gave birth to babies under dirty sheets and clothes and nobody could see or touch, and it was all made worse.

I just came back from Columbus where I did a workshop with a group of nurses, and they were wonderful, very aware that it’s all going to change from the inside. The pain is too great, seeing those people suffering, to use the old psychological boxes. Nurses see and feel the patient, often more than the doctors, so the schism is greater for the nurses. In many ways, they are making strong shifts, and doctors are too, realizing that there is more to it than the traditional medical model. In medicine and healing we must make more room for emotional and psychological meaning. This “meaning in illness” is our opportunity for tremendously greater awareness.

SUN: Marriage and monogamy. You often say, “Marriage is a future memory.” I hope so because the illusions about what marriage or a relationship can endure, or give, are popping like balloons for a lot of people. What do you say to the ache?

PATRICIA SUN: The ache is a clue something is wrong. Our roles, expectations, our little boxes and concepts about what lovers, husbands and wives should be are feeling distress because we spend half our time in reality defending the boxes instead of seeing the person who is really there, who is infinitely more exciting, more lovable, more true, than our boxes.

But we’re so frightened to do that because we are coming out of a dark age of consciousness, and we’re stepping into a light that is pretty strong. We keep wishing to go back to some comfortable, safe, finished image. And not to have to handle the totally unpredictable adventure of living on the growing edge. All our defense mechanisms which existed for good reasons in earlier stages of evolution now create problems. It isn’t that they’re “bad,” it’s just that we are in transition, and that’s always difficult.

To look for the form first is putting the cart before the horse. The form is created by the authenticity of perception, feeling, and communication. That is what precedes; when you do that, the form shifts. What people tend to want is the form first, so we can “act” well, into it, as actors and actresses. That doesn’t work anymore. That is not living the Tao.

The transition of awareness is knowing we must pay attention to our feelings, our fears, our bodies, our thoughts, our unconscious minds which may turn up bizarre imagery. We have to get accustomed to the way that intelligence of the intuitive self teaches, as a gestalt, and not take it all so literally.

If you dream about a train going off the tracks, most of the time it doesn’t mean you’re going to be in a trainwreck, but it is a symbol of changing to spontaneous direction.

That’s how clairvoyance works. Everyone who does that has some form of metaphor, some inner mechanism, some language, some method to incorporate symbols, whether it’s divining the entrails of a goat, or Tarot cards, or a crystal ball, or the I Ching. When you allow it to come to you synchronistically and intuitively, that’s what makes that effective.

SUN: You will be, and are, emulated as a woman. You are teaching a model. What do you want to have emulated about yourself?

PATRICIA SUN: What I’d love for people to emulate about me is to be themselves. I feel my empowerment and my ability comes from being more of myself. The greater the degree to which we can do that, the better we can relate to the world, and deliver authentically, because we project less. And of course, being ruled by consciousness, we are then empowered to be kind.

SUN: Often in my striving as a woman to let go of my conditioning, I struggle so hard I end up feeling like a pinched male in a lot of ways. When I met you, I was reminded of another way, more spacious, to be a woman.

PATRICIA SUN: It is the yin force, by all means, and both men and women can use that. Jung made a big breakthrough when he identified the anima and animus modes of being in men and women. The manifesting in the world for women is to integrate their animus, to come to healthy terms with it. What you called feeling like a pinched man is what Jung would call an animus attack, because you are forcing, trying to capture, rather than trusting the whole nature.

Men are developing in a collective way, too, learning how to trust and be penetrated by psychic experience, true communication. And women have to learn how to trust to put it out, and rather than clobbering others with it, radiate it. So in terms of emulation, emulate radiance, remember radiance, allow your own radiance to exist. Have a touchstone, a living feeling of what that is.

It’s indescribable. It always sounds sort of silly, or delusionary, because this is an experiential phenomenon and the authenticity of it is experienced. You are transmitting it through your experience. It’s why spiritual energy is catching — that numinous quality. That is the hallmark, I think, of how I work — to find the Tao, feel the place where that quality is experienced, and to be in it with others.