Archive for October 2nd, 2010
Life in China has some interesting aspects for a foreigner. A few days ago, I was invited to celebrate a National Day dinner hosted by the city of Changzhou, and its mayor. In comparison to other similar gatherings I have already attended this month, it was a smallish affair of about 120 people with about thirty of those present being foreigners and the rest being Changzhou city government officials and communist party officials. The evening before, I was one of about three hundred foreigners and at least fifteen hundred city residents attending the opening of an international conference.
Following the dinner, I returned to the apartment taking a route through the new district park which features a man-made lake pictured here. The scene made me think about persona and shadow and about Jung’s often quoted statement, “As above, so below; as below, so above.” The truth is, Jung isn’t the author of this statement, it is the second of seven principles drawn from the Kybalion, a work of Hermes Trismegistus that sets the foundations for Hermetic Philosophy. ”As above,” can loosely be considered as persona, lives lived in the outer world. ”As below,” can be then understood as the realm of both personal and collective unconsciousness.
Here in China, I have a persona that has been handed to me on a platter. I am a foreigner and that puts me into the upper stratosphere to begin with. I have been here before and I have returned. That has added to the status in some way. Of the foreigners who have come to teach at the university over the past while, I have been the only qualified instructor and my students and colleagues have accepted me as the “real thing” when it comes to being a teacher. Of course, a career of teaching has had something to do with it.
But, I am aware that this is just a persona, one that is initially one crafted by myself and then redefined by the community in which I now find myself. The community cannot attribute what isn’t there within me. Perhaps I haven’t been aware of aspects of self that are evident that others can see. Nor, can I truly limit what is “exposed” to the public through my persona. That said, I look into the shadows and see that the “nature” within is mirrored by the persona.