Archive for the ‘C.G. Jung’ tag
Life is a hornet’s nest if one truly lives rather than simply existing waiting for someone to come to the rescue.
As I read what I have just written, I realise that I have said something that is rather dogmatic as if it was a universal truth rather than my understanding of my own truth. That is the problem with words. Once they are put on paper [or on the screen], they become solid as a rock. However, the words, like rocks, are transitory things. I have to remind myself that the authors of all words, including C.G. Jung, are simply painting self-portraits, maps of their own journeys.
I have often fell under the power of their stories, their journeys through their inner landscapes and came to adopt their landscapes as my landscapes. I was entranced with their words that resonated with things inside of myself, so entranced that I failed to notice the words that didn’t resonate, words that didn’t reveal the stirrings within myself. For a time I was deeply Catholic ignoring the realities of the Church and its priests that took on ghostly and shadowy shapes; I was entranced by the life of Jesus. For a time I was an ardent environmentalist in love with the earth not seeing the contradictions and the power-plays and sometimes even the nihilism of those who were entrusted with my faith and that of others. For a time I was Jungian hanging on every word that I found in the Collected Works, even those words which seemed to skip passed me leading to confusion. For a time I was a Buddhist embracing the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path in spite of monks, rinpoches and darhma that seemed the stuff of fairy tales, tales that had no connection to my own tales.
It is only with the crisis that came with midlife that I began to understand that I could never be any of these. I began to understand that rather than embracing a church, a faith, a psychology, a philosophy or a science; I had to build my own story, my own ship within which I could navigate the last of my numbered years as a living human. Yet, I knew that I had to hold near all those words that touched me and told me about myself. Yes, I am unique, an individual living my own story. I captain my own ship, walk my own trails. However, I do so in a sea of trails and in the company of others ships sailing the same ocean of unconsciousness.
Jung is reported to have said, sometime in the 1930’s, when he was beginning to be famous, something like this: “The trouble is that I have built myself a boat with which to ride the flood, and now people are trying to climb into my boat rather than build their own”. (quoted from David Holt here)
Now, I can rephrase the opening statement with a hope that it can be better understood:
Life is like a hornet’s nest if I truly live rather than simply existing waiting for someone to come to my rescue. There are stings that let me know that I am alive. There is a container called my life that is fragile, a container that finishes off blowing in the wind only to disappear back into the dust of beginnings and endings. Life is precious moment in an infinite universe of time and space.
I took this photo yesterday while on a walk through the hills about seven kilometres from my home. This particular magpie was perched on a rock on the side of a hill and I was able to get within fifteen feet of him allowing me to take a number of satisfactory images. When I shewed him off, he went down to the valley allowing me to get this photo of him as I was then higher than him on the slope of the hill. This photo was just one of a few that I have decided to include here as the day was perfect for revelling in the sunshine.
I have a serious start on my SoFoBoMo 2011 book project and have been busy with C,G. Jung’s Collected Works, Volume 9i, The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, as my reference source for the photo book project. As I envision my project, I am seeing the journey of individuation as a cycle, a circle within which one finds one’s self. This is the opening quotation for the book:
“Consciousness grows out of an unconscious psyche which is older than it, and which goes on functioning together with it or even in spite of it.” (Jung, CW 9i, paragraph 502)
Imagine the moment when a human is born to a mother, the moment when the self leaves the waters of the womb in order to begin a journey in an outer world. The journey is born out of the dark and wet womb. The self, though existing within the womb has no sense of self. In the light, with the passage of time and experiences, the self begins to differentiate from the environment, from the mother, and in the process learns about self as object, then as subject. The journey is of the self becoming conscious. But as one discovers, the journey cycles back towards the darkness and an apparent dimming of consciousness and finally death. This is a one way journey that has uncountable numbers of experiences going in uncountable numbers of directions. Yet, the final destination awaits. The self has to be reclaimed from the world of light.
We are born out of darkness and return to darkness, but in between, we have wings to fly as high as we dare.
I took an early walk this morning through the countryside as the tide was too high for a decent beach-side walk. As usual, I took a number of photos which featured either birds or lizards which are plentiful in the area. I noticed this fence post which I knew instantly would be the photo I wanted for today’s post. As you can see, the post has been broken and therefore does not actually perform as a support for the fence. It has broken away from the collective, figuratively. Yet, it is still connected.
As I listen and think about what the journey of individuation is about, there is a tendency to assume that it is only about the self and not also about community. Well, like this photo suggests, there are ties to community that cling regardless of how desperate one becomes in carving out one’s “unique” place in the world. As long as one is in the world, one is connected regardless of how thin the thread is that serves as connection.
I have decided to give Dourley and his essay a rest and will shift focus back to C.G. Jung and his book, Modern Man in Search of Soul, in particular I will focus on chapter ten, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man. I invite you to click on the blue link at the end of the quote which begins my wandering through the chapter.
“The spiritual problem of modern man is one of those questions which are so much a part of the age we live in that we cannot see them in the proper perspective. Modern man is an entirely new phenomenon; a modern problem is one which has just arisen and whose answer still lies in the future.” (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)
Modern man. This is an idea that seems to be appropriate for us who live in “modern times.” Yet, C.G. Jung doesn’t hold that men and women who live in these modern times are to be thought of as “modern.”
“I must say that the man we call modern, the man who is aware of the immediate present, is by no means the average man. He is rather the man who stands upon a peak, or at the very edge of the world, the abyss of the future before him, above the heavens, and below him the whole of mankind with a history that disappears in primeval mists. The modern man – or, let’s say again, the man of the immediate present – is rarely met with, for he must be conscious to a superlative degree. Since to be wholly of the present means to be fully conscious of one’s existence as a man, it requires the most intensive and extensive consciousness, with a minimum of unconsciousness. It must be clearly understood that the mere fact of living in the present does not make a man modern, for in that case everyone at present alive would be so. He alone is modern who is fully conscious of the present.” (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)
I guess this leaves me out as I know that there is much yet that is unconscious within me. I react too often with heat, the activation of complexes, which come out of nowhere and have yet to be understood. Like most people, I am plodding forward but at a snail’s pace with many stops along the way to smell the flowers, cough up dust and perhaps share a beverage with others I bump into along the way. As I read this, I immediately thought of Zarathustra. And, in thinking of Zarathustra I became a bit despondent as I have serious doubts that I could ever attain such a level of consciousness.
Like the broken post, I am held in place with my own invisible barbed wire to the personal and collective unconscious, connecting me to the culture and the communities in which I find myself. Still, I can recognize this and in doing so, I have hopes that I am headed in the right direction.
This is my final photo to be posted here from the two weeks I spent on the coast of British Columbia. I went to B.C. with two purposes, one to visit extended family and the other to investigate the idea of working for CUSO-VSO, a volunteer organization. I would be placed in the field of education management, drawing upon my lifetime of professional work. That idea has moved from a possibility to a decision to not go this route for the 2010-2011 school year. There would be too many “things” organizational in nature that would render the experience more about “work” than about participatory discovery and experience. I will still be heading out of Canada for the school year, but without being tied to either an agency or recruiter. I insist on making my own way.
In saying this, I think of James Hillman, a post-Jungian who has also gone his own way putting his own stamp on understanding psychology. In creating Archetypal Psychology, he would be the first to admit to a heavy reliance on C.G. Jung. In a way, I am doing much the same here, putting my own stamp on ideas that are influenced by Jungian Psychology. I can’t just repeat ideas, I must re-fashion them based on my psyche, my life, my thoughts and on how those ideas resonate. The difference between Hillman and myself is that I am not trying to create a new school of psychology. I don’t want to go there. It is enough that I speak and let the words fall where they will.
Faceless … dreams are often faceless. When I lead dream work, especially with groups, I had a person present a dream several times, each time from the point of view of other figures in the dream and of the apparently inanimate objest as well. At that time I understood this as the Gestalt approach to dream work. Then, I rethought exactly what I was doing from a Jungian standpoint where the dreamer is all parts of the dream. The archetypes and images that are shifting in and out of one’s dream are communication attempts between the self and the personal and collective unconscious which has but one goal, bringing the shadow to light, becoming fully aware – individuation.
I often dream but have given up working on my dreams for the past number of years. And now, the dreams are coming faster than ever. One aproach to understanding what is currently happening involves Mayan prophecies surrounding the end of the Mayan calendar come the winter equinox in 2012. Gwynne Mayer writes in “Gateways to 2012“:
We have been discussing the energetic of 2012 and how the planet is speeding up its own energies aligning itself with the galaxies and we are focusing on how this is affecting us as our lives seem to be folding in on themselves. Our dreams are becoming more intensive, our interactions with others are intensified and it seem we are all being bombarded from the personal to the political arena…it is all part of the soup we are in, as Carl Jung use to say. We in the psychological field are definitely skewed in our frame of reference as we see person after person struggle in this area, not to mention those peers of ours in the healing professions try to gain balance and not get tipped over in this topsy turvy world.
I find this interesting stuff indeed, especially since Gwynne is counted among my friends for many years. This speaks of energy, about an heightening of senses. But, I want more right now. So, I turn to C.G. Jung:
The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends. For all ego-consciousness is isolated; because it separates and discriminates, it knows only particulars, and it sees only those that can be related to the ego. Its essence is limitation, even though it reach to the farthest nebulae among the stars. All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood. It is from these all-uniting depths that the dream arises, be it never so childish, grotesque, and immoral. (C.G. Jung, CW 10. page 304)
There, this is what I have been trying to remember. my dreams are my doorway, my portal to my soul, the portal to unity.
The Temple of the Seven Dolls, a different Mayan structure from all others found in Mexico built in the 7th century, sits at the centre of the Dzibilchaltun Mayan ruins. It is a square building with four sets of stairs and entrances that correspond to the four cardinal directions – north, east, south and west. On each wall there are two sets of windows, one on each side of an entrance. During the spring and fall equinoxes, the sun’s rays flow directly through the east and west entrances to flow down the sacbe (white road) to a smaller square structure, a sundial, which also has four sets of steps. At the summer solstice, the sun’s rays enter the north-east window of the north wall and exit at the north-west window of the west wall. During the winter solstice, the sun’s light enters through the south-east window of the south wall to exit through the south-west window of the west wall. In this photo, I am looking out at the sundial and the sacbe that goes on through the Mayan grounds.
Again, I wondered at what is drawing me out here to speak. The sun, a quaternity – a mandala on a grand scale.
AS ITS fourfold structure indicates the mandala is a symbol of totality, forming, like the Platonic world-soul, a rounded whole “sufficient to itself,”1 a complete being “organised in accordance with its own internal laws”. 2 For Jung the mandala is a symbol of the Self, that psychic totality which is indescribable except in antinomies and indistinguishable from the imago Dei. Its essential nature is unavoidably irrational and irrepresentable, for the union of opposites is a paradox beyond our comprehension. But the age-old mandala is not a rational product of discriminating consciousness; like all true symbols it stems from unconscious sources of creativity, which transcend or predate the world-creating division of opposites. (The Meaning of the Mandala, Philip Williams, June 2000)
The “Self”, the unconscious well-springs of the “self”, the source of the unifying principal within each of us. It’s amazing how so many ideas of C.G. Jung’s are finding an outward expression in this ancient land of the Mayans.
I went on a long walk this morning, walking to the fishing village then beyond into the salt marshes that seem to cover most of the northern and western coastal areas of the Yucatan. I managed to get a number of different photos featuring birds, the safe harbour sheltering a variety of fishing boats, and hurricane damage that destroyed the bridge which once gave access to a distant town called Sisal. As I walked back, this turkey vulture presented herself and allowed me to photograph her. And now, you are probably wondering how a photo of a turkey vulture has made it into this Jungian blog. I will let Jung tell you something about vultures. The following is taken from a lecture to the Abernethian Society at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London in a speech called: THE CONCEPT OF THE COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS.
The vulture symbol (which Freud also discusses in the work mentioned) makes this view all the more plausible. With some justification he quotes as the source of the symbol the Hieroglyphica of Horapollo, a book much in use in Leonardo’s time. There you read that vultures are female only and symbolize the mother. They conceive through the wind (pneuma). This word took on the meaning of “spirit” chiefly under the influence of Christianity. Even in the account of the miracle at Pentecost the pneuma still has the double meaning of wind and spirit. This fact, in my opinion, points without doubt to Mary, who, a virgin by nature, conceived through the pneuma, like a vulture. Furthermore, according to Horapollo, the vulture also symbolizes Athene, who sprang, unbegotten, directly from the head of Zeus, was a virgin, and knew only spiritual motherhood.
In looking for more information to understand more about this visitor to my life today, I came across information about Nekhebet, the creator of life and the goddess responsible for death and rebirth. For those who follow the comments posted by others here, there have been a few regarding death and rebirth and past lives, past experiences of death and rebirth. It appears as though I am being pointed to being more open about possibilities that are foreign to my conscious repetoire of knowledge. I do know that I only hold a minute part of all that is within my field of awareness and that the collective unconscious is a repository that reduces my meagre knowledge base to less that a pinpoint of light. And so, I move on, perhaps a bit wiser for allowing a symbol from the collective unconscious to speak to me.