Archive for the ‘Christ’ tag
The twin towers of ChanZhou City Hall seem to rise out of a tree filled with blossoms. I have taken quite a few different views of the city hall towers for a number of reasons including the project of a book that will feature how ChangZhou is seen and understood from the perspective of a foreigner or laowai. The correct term is actually waiguoren. Laowai has a double-edged meaning, one that is disrespectful when used in terms of a stranger, and one that is more friendly when used in reference to a foreigner one knows and likes. No surprise here as many words are double-edged in terms of communicative meaning.
These towers are also a subject for my record of life as a foreigner in ChangZhou. I have taken photos of these towers over a period of five years showing how the landscape around the towers is in constant change, showing the towers surrounded by undeveloped land, then with the Grand Theatre as a compliment when the theatre was completed.
But, for the purposes of this blog site, the towers are representative of the conscious principle or the masculine. As I see the towers, they come to represent not only the masculine energy of the city and of the country, but also the shadow. For me, a man, the shadow is masculine just as my ego is masculine. A masculine consciousness and unconscious standing together and linked. This is not much different that the notion of Christ and Satan standing side by side, two faces, two polarities of the whole.
And as the photo suggests, the masculine arises from the soul, the feminine. The unconscious whole is the womb from which consciousness arises. Something to think about.
The mystery of coniunctio, of the joining of the two into one, a holy marriage – well, this photo is about joining together as these two dragonflies engage in an act that is shared by most creatures on this planet. I think it necessary to bring Jung’s words here in order to better understand the term “coniunctio.”
“The coniunctio is an a priori image that occupies a prominent place in the history of man’s mental development. If we trace this idea back we find it has two sources in alchemy, one Christian, the other pagan. The Christian source is unmistakably the doctrine of Christ and the Church, sponsus and sponsa, where Christ takes the role of Sol and the Church that of Luna. The pagan source is on the one hand the hieros-gamos, on the other the marital union of the mystic with God.[“The Psychology of the Transference,” (Jung, CW 16, pa. 355.)
Thus we see that coniunctio is not a physical union as many would like to believe as they search for their “soul mate.” Rather, it is mental, an internal state of being, a union of opposites, and in particular, the union of the conscious and unconscious. Regardless, there is something very mysterious in this, something we touch on when we lose ourselves in the embrace of passion with other. Albert Einstein speaks of this sense of mystery:
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery—even if mixed with fear—that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds – it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual who survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.” - Albert Einstein, “The World As I See It” (1931)
Like Einstein, I would have to say that I also am a deeply religious man. I sense the presence of deity in the images, in the well-springs of my centre and often in the faces of others as well as nature. Entering into cathedrals I am brought into a state of presence both within and without of deity. I, too, marvel at the world at what each part adds to the whole and the mystery behind, within and surrounding. This is what I try to hint at with my photography.
A male Magnificent Cormorant sits on a mast of a small fishing boat called the Black Christ (Cristo Negro) in the harbour of Rio Lagartos, Yucatan, Mexico as evening gets ready to settle in. It’s a photo I took at the end of January of this year.
I struggled for quite some time today trying to find the words that I wanted to put here. A search through a number of volumes of Jung’s works didn’t yield anything that resonated. And so, I decided to simply speak as it “felt” for me. In the end, that is all any of us can ever do. the closest any of us can ever come to what might pass as the truth of who we are.
Black is about shadow, that much resonates loud and clear. However, all that is black isn’t evil. That is the hard part to get past sometimes. For the owner of this boat, obviously, the use of the word Christ is all about hope. So, why not have the two combine? This is where I jump from the scene of the photo to my personal realm of the underworld/inner-world.
Going through midlife, it is only when I dared to look at the edges of shadow country, staring into the fearsome blackness within that I finally began to sense hope, sense that I would emerge from that inner journey better than when I began that journey. The darkness and shadows yielded treasures about self, about personal strength and even validation of my “self.” Like the fisherman heading out into the ocean for the rich yields of the sea, I headed deep within the darkness, blind for the most part because of the darkness. I fought those sea monsters that assailed my sense of fear, my sense of inferiority and somehow, like the fisherman, found myself back in port, back in the outer world of consciousness. The journey had rewarded me with a bit more awareness of self and of the nature of the unconscious – a rich treasure. But more importantly, it renewed hope in something bigger than my ego. This is the promise of the Christ symbol.
There is hope if one does not fear the darkness so much that one flees from it. Rather, think of how San Juan de la Cruz (St. John of the Cross) embraced the dark night and found love, love that burned with its own light, a love that touched Christ. To embrace this, one must go under, one must sacrifice the “what is” for “what could be.” Or as I read in Jung’s works somewhere in words similar to these, “the good is the enemy of the better.”
On a walk during a recent stay in Mérida we passed one of many old churches. Above the front entrance to this church was a stained glass window proclaiming Jesus. The city is filled with churches from simple “Christian” churches to a number built in the 16th and 17th centuries by the Spaniards. Though I am not particularly religious in a church sense, there is quite a pull to some of the images and the space and architecture of these old churches. That said, it is in the detail that I find resonances.
Jesus, in a Jungian sense is an archetype that points to the “Self” within the “self”. Okay, maybe that doesn’t make sense to most people, but I hope that I can explain it enough so that you can understand how it resonates within me. In a number of locations in the bible one comes across the words with proclaim about finding “Christ” within. Christ represents the godhead, the Imago Dei, that lies within each person. Sometimes religion ascribes the soul as that aspect though in Jungian terms, that would be somewhat inaccurate. I say somewhat as all aspects, all archetypes all become just aspects of the whole, the holy, that oneness of conscious and unconscious both personal and collective.
Jesus is a representation of the collective unconscious that points to the potential for all to achieve a state of being the best one can be. As one travels a journey of individuation, one becomes more and more conscious, more aware of the nature of self in relation to other and in relation the collective and in relation to what I can only say is the sum of all that is and all that isn’t, that which religions call god.