I have been wondering about the use of the word, Jungian here on my site. Over the decades I have been influenced by a lot of people, dead and alive. In trying to explain this recently in terms of my use of the word Jungian, I tried to explain how each writer or each individual in face-to-face contact brought forward ideas that had me realise that for my self, these ideas resonated and I felt that these ideas contained some truth-to-me. Nietzsche was one of the earliest of influences when I began to question the authority of the Catholic Church. It wasn’t long before I was reading the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and wandering through the philosophical writings of Sartre, Heidegger, Spinoza, Kant, Kierkegaard, Teillard de Chardin, Buber and too many others to remember from those formative years as an adolescent and very young man.
I began to wander through a variety of Christian churches in vain hopes of finding a spiritual home, looking for somewhere that would resonate with my inner core. I was always repelled at the thought of being contained-restricted by any of the churches I found. It seemed that one had to give up thinking, questioning in order to become at one with each community. And this was something I couldn’t do, couldn’t even pretend to do. In my early twenties I turned to meditation, Transcendental Meditation, something that grew out of my love of music, the influences of John Lennon and his fellow musicians who discovered another world in India and another form of music through Ravi Shankar. It wasn’t the first experiment with meditation, but it was the first experience that was structured.
Through music, I discovered another way of being and thinking, that of Hinduism and Buddhism. Before I could invest much of myself in learning more, I became a father and that became the focus, the centre of my life for many years. During those years, as a teacher, I invested what time I had in the world of psychology. Being a teacher of adolescents I sought to find ways that would allow me to be a better mentor, teacher and guide. Jung, Pearls, Rogers, Frankl most resonated though there were parts of other systems and beliefs that I felt contained something of value for me. Courses in cognitive psychologies and therapy models provided me with tools to work with immediate problems but couldn’t help me in terms of deeper rooted questions, existential questions. I was caught between the worlds of psychology, philosophy and religion. It was with this realisation that I began to think of finding the links, taking from each of these areas as well as from my life experience as a son, father, teacher and community citizen in order to attempt an understanding of my self.
The links are there – Buddhism, Humanism, Jungian, Gestalt, Existentialism, Christianity, Hinduism, poetry, music, and nature – symbols all over the place all pointing towards something that is vibrant but yet undefined, maybe never to be defined or contained. And so I turn to active imagination and sati so that I can pay attention to what happens in my own mind, pay attention to the resonances without letting ego take a controlling presence in order to make things fit thus distorting what emerges.
And in the end, I am left with only one thing – I do not belong to any “ism” or any belief system. All that I can know is a small fragment of who I am through the echoes that come from the “ah-ha” moments and the resonances from the interactions with others, others who are both dead and alive.