Archive for the ‘hell’ tag
Looking through the photos taken last week for a photo to go with today’s post, this photo jumped out at me. I took this photo for my grandsons who had come to visit last time I taught in Changzhou. This is a scene from China Dinosaur Park, a new section added to the park since their visit. The scene makes me think of what “Hell” might look like.
There is no doubt in my mind that as doubt comes, the loss of certainty opens up a path to the repressed unconscious, and to depression. It is about loss, at least it was for me. I lost the certainty of structured religion. With the turmoil of being a youth at the time, the loss left me in a dark place. Of course, there were other factors as one would expect. The things in one’s life are interrelated.
“When and if faith as fanaticism is overcome, the results are not always unqualifiedly beneficial. Patterns of depression and emptiness can follow the loss of whatever solace was previously offered by the so-called faith – though paradoxically the depression may be accompanied by rage at the sacrifices made to the dubious God of such faith and his strident moral demands, now felt to be hostile to fuller expressions of human life and spirit.” (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, p.18)
When one puts one’s trust in a religion and then begins to become a more conscious being as he or she works hard to honour the symbols and promise of the religion, and in the process becomes aware of the darkness of that religion which translates to being betrayed, anger is a natural response. But the anger demands action for resolution.
“Victims of “sacrosanct unintelligibility” are thus often faced with “no-win” options. They can grit their teeth and cling fanatically to a burden of “revealed truth” which finds no experiential resonance in themselves. This splits them between the demands of their faith and the demands of their humanity and potential maturity. Or they are driven, often by inner demands for a fuller and more balanced life, into patterns of denial. In the language of their own impoverished theological options such denial is described as “atheism.” Not infrequently this carries with it a lingering guilt for having abandoned what may have been, after all, the one true revelation – all the truer precisely because of its unintelligibility.” (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, p.18)
It is as though one is damned of one does and double-damned if one doesn’t stick with one’s religion. Either way, one is effectively trapped in a hell.
As I was wandering through China Dinosaur Park here in Changzhou on Halloween, I saw these three gigantic figures carved into the side of a desert hillside (all artificial of course), a scene which evoked the world of the gods and goddesses of Egyptian history. My first impression was that these were all representations of “Set,” the God of Chaos (also known as Seth and Setan -> Satan?). Symbolism, symbols – it is all about the need for symbols in our life for meaning to emerge. Without symbols to point towards something “more,” we are left in chaos.
Maybe the need for symbols is what has driven me in my pursuit of images with my collection of cameras. I would like to say that I am a photographer, but I am not. I simply use the camera and have no interest or energy to “study” the art of photography as an art. I just want to use the camera to capture images that appear to me as symbols. Otherwise, the camera is just a recording tool that documents places visited and the life of my family. Symbols, images and the numinous allow me to trace a thin path through chaos into a sense of meaningfulness.
“To Jung the loss of the symbolic sense was a catastrophe for both individual and society. It meant that the healing and religious disciplines of his time, themselves cut off from their own deepest resources, blocked their practitioners and devotees from them also. The consequences appeared, on an individual level, in the widespread occurrence and experience of meaninglessness, depression and neurosis, and socially in the outbreak of new epidemics of faith (often in political form) as the unconscious offered demonic configurations of mass-mindedness to fill the gaps left by the demise of the traditional religions.” (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, pp 15-16)
I see what Jung saw in my own backyard. Quiet Saskatchewan is now a hotbed of black and white fundamentalism, new versions of something that is supposed to be Christianity are appearing at the same time as others are retreating to rules and forms of religion of the past. All proclaim their “truths” that have been pared to a plain and stark set of words, a belief system that lacks the numinous. Religions are angry and seeking economic and political power, especially the new iterations of old religions. Under the appearance of strident purpose, chaos is rampant.
I see and hear this and I know that the only way through this is an individual path. As much as I would like to lead or follow a surge of others who would heal the human soul and the collective spirit, I know that all I can do is to find meaning as a unit of one. And in doing so, I must carefully watch out of the side of my eye for Set and his threat of chaos.
Looking into a hole left at one of the work sites along the sidewalk near my apartment while it was raining, I saw this photo opportunity. It’s amazing how one’s eyes get drawn into dark holes hoping to see treasure, or perhaps see proof of hell.
It’s interesting how one can see something and then load the thing with all manner of meaning. It’s important to realise that it the “self” who holds the meaning and not the object. Again, it is all about projection. Images allow us to project safely for the most part. However, this isn’t the case when we project on others.
When a relationship hits a rocky patch, it pretty much looks like everything is going downhill, down into a dark hole. One’s field of vision is reduced to a narrow band of possibility, and the possibility is in darkness, a damp darkness that reminds one of a swampland at night where sinkholes are just waiting to suck one down. In an instinctive reaction we lash out hoping to back off the demons and find a bit of breathing space. The enemy is out there, and the enemy is wearing the body of one’s partner in relationship.
“You work on a relationship by shutting your mouth when you are ready to explode; by not inflicting your affect on the other person; by quietly leaving the battlefield and tearing your hair out; by asking yourself – not your partner – what complex in you was activated, and to what end. The proper question is not, “Why is she doing this to me?” or “Who does he think he is?” but rather, “Why am I reacting this way? – Who do I think he or she is?” And more: “What does this say about my psychology? What can I do about it?” Instead of accusing the other person about driving you crazy, you say to yourself, “I feel I’m being driven crazy – where, or who, in me is that coming from?”
That is how you establish a container, a personal temenos.” (Sharp, Jungian Psychology Unplugged, p. 71)
Sharp’s words make sense, but they aren’t so easy to put into practice. It seems that “knowing” and “doing” are two different things completely. I know in my case, it has taken so many stumbles with a lot of personal conferences of one in which I have asked myself these questions after the fact. Maybe this is part of the learning to build a level of consciousness about relationship, in relationship.