Archive for the ‘Jung Uncorked: Book One’ tag
I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to get a clear photo of the full moon, the first full moon of 2010. At least, that is, until this morning. It is an issue of the camera. Since the moon setting was later this morning, I had enough light for the camera. Regardless, mission accomplished. My next camera will have to have better and easier control in low light situations.
That said, the fact that I had to wait until the day in order to fully capture the moon in the photo has many possible meanings for me, psychologically. The first is that of bringing unconscious contents to enough light so that part of the mystery of the unconscious is able to be appreciated. Of course, this is only part of what could be uncovered, so to speak. As I become more aware, I am more able to handle the exposure of more of the unconscious. As I become a better photographer with a better camera, I can capture a clearer image of something so far away, and for the most part, cloaked in darkness.
On another level, I see this photo as an honouring of my own anima, my own inner feminine. It also takes on my relationship to the mother archetype. And, if possible, it evokes relationship.
In an essay in Volume 9i in the Collected Works series by Carl Gustav Jung, the “Psychological Aspects of the Mother Complex,” Jung powerfully looks at various faces of a mother complex, both from a the lens of a woman and the lens of a man. Daryl Sharp added some insight for me into relationships and conflict and how the mother complex can actually be viewed from a positive manner.
To “turn away” from a relationship does not necessarily mean to leave it, or to stop loving someone. It may simply involve paying more attention to oneself that to the other person. But even this much is a heroic feat for a man with a positive mother complex. It requires a ruthlessness, of self-confidence, that is alien to his ego but characteristic of his unsentimental shadow. If he is not up to it – which to someone he’s involved with may look like a lack of relatedness, no heart 0 he will suffer the consequences: loss of soul. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, pp 109-110)
Now this is just what I needed to hear, that “turning away” from an “other” in order to know more about “self” is not the same thing as leaving, abandoning or giving up on the relationship. I think that this is where most modern day couples end up in separation and divorce. The collective level of consciousness is too low for the task of holding the tension between self and other when one or both need to turn away, need to turn within.
Another sunset photo here in Costa Rica. This time, I left out the sun and the large surf and the horizon. Just a hint of the shore, a wet beach and the suggestion of growing depth in the waters. I know that above this scene is the sun, the sky and the objective world as I know it. I also know that below the surface of both the sand and the sea there is a depth of darkness, all the stuff that I don’t really know though I have some vague ideas. Every once in a while, such as yesterday, while walking along the shore, I come across something before unknown that has been thrown up by the sea. Yesterday, it was a small bright blue crab. Such vibrant colours and shades.
This thin veneer of surface between the sky and the depths of the sea is how I see my own conscious self. My ego tries to tell me that I am almost everything. Yet, I know that I am like this thin membrane that somehow seeks an identity that is to be carved out of both the depths and the heights.
At times life throws another question at me, I am learning to hesitate in giving an answer. Why? Because I know that the answer is not what is needed. Rather, it is about living the question. This is the same for most of us. Take relationships for example. When there is conflict in relationship, often the question becomes, “Should I stay and honour the other, or should I leave and honour my self?” It always seems to be a situation where either one in the relationship will be declared a winner, where for one, love overcomes will to power, and for the other will to power overcomes love.
But, it really doesn’t have to be this way. For in the end, neither side wins and both suffer deep pain. Hold the tension between love and will to power – in the relationship, both have to hold the tension until it feels ready to explode. This allows unconscious contents to be activated which literally offers a way out of the polarized choices, a third way. This is the transcendent function in operation.
Daryl Sharp paraphrases Jung as he says, “Jung advised pursuing (active imagination) in order to come to terms with the unconscious and thus to profit from the tension that naturally exists between rational consciousness and the essentially irrational, instinctive, unconscious drives that can be so disturbing if not attended to. Naturally, this is possible only when the conscious mind is motivated, as when it finds itself in a critical situation, faced with a choice between metaphorical equivalents of lady and tiger.“ (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, pp 97-98)
It’s amazing how I never get tired of taking photographs of sunsets. Being fortunate enough to own a camera and being able to take sunset photos over the Canadian prairies, over lakes, in India, China, Cuba, Mexico and now Costa Rica, has been one of the greatest gifts that life has bestowed upon me. I have been to other places but always in too much of a hurry or engaged with too many people in order to take the time needed for sitting quietly with a camera waiting for that special photo – special for me and to me.
Perhaps it is because I was born almost old, with what some would call an old soul. But, I don’t really think so. For me it has to do with being able to get outside of my own ego, being able to see beyond myself as the centre of the universe while at the same time knowing that I am a full part of that universe.
Sunsets are about change for me, alchemical change that goes deep into the soul, deep into the roots of being. The red sun symbolizes the furnace that heats the elements of self, both conscious and unconscious, a furnace that cooks the elements in order to be ready for rebirth with the next rising sun.
As I went jogging this morning, something that I have returned to as long as my body and mind let me continue, I got to see the sunrise over the low mountains on my return to my starting point. At that moment, I knew that the idea of rebirth was not just a fiction, but a daily reality.
But saying all of that, I do resist change, even fight it out of fear for not knowing what that change will bring to me, what that change will cost me.
It is true that the unknown is always more or less frightening because it threatens the stability of the ego, Hence we are prone to imagine that the influence of the unconscious (from the shadow and other complexes) is deleterious and ought to be resisted. This is often so, but not necessarily, for ego-consciousness can get off-track in terms of individuation – who and what a person is meant to be. It follows, then, thanks to the self-regulating nature of the psyche, that the ego is well advised to attend to the possibilities “voiced” by the unconscious via, for instance, dreams, fantasies and synchronistic events. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, pp 90-91)
That is it, “possibilities.” That is what all the work in trying to become more aware of one’s own shadow, one’s unconscious contents is about. Focusing on dreams, fantasies, active imagination simply to wallow in the shadow hoping that somehow one emerges a guru is fool’s game. the risk of getting lost is too great. The work of individuation isn’t supposed to be a threat to the ego, it is supposed to be a gift to the ego in which “self” becomes, bit by bit, better understood and know. In doing the work, there is just a bit less darkness.
Darkness will always be there just as night must separate the sunset and the dawn. Daring to meet the darkness allows us to grow, to transform, to re-emerge in each new day, more complete.
Cattle and cattle egrets found together in a field on the outskirts of Playa Jaco somehow find a way to live together in spite of being very different. Theirs is a symbiotic relationship, providing each other something that is needed and receiving equal benefit. When I think about this, it isn’t much different in many human relationships.
Of course, I don’t think I can include most intimate relationships, most marriages in this willingness to both give and receive in spite of differences, Rather, I am speaking of many other community relationships. For example, a friend is skilled in various crafts but doesn’t have much skill with communications technology. Since the opposite friend has the skills needed in communication technology, but is lacking in working with tools, a relationship is able to grow and thrive giving each person a sense of worth in relation to the other.
In another situation, one who has a need to talk, to have someone listen compassionately is a valued friend for someone else who is grateful for friendship where there is little demand for talking, something that is a difficult task other than to offer a few pleasantries. Most of our human lives including in the workplace are filled with just this kind of symbiotic relationships. Yet, in intimate situations?
The difficulties that regularly arise between different attitude-types are legion … Jung’s observation was that what initially seems to be an ideal union may in time become uneasy and embittered.
One might think an understanding of typology would forestall such enmity and allow two people to live in peace, each acknowledging and appreciating the value of the other, but the reality is that even many individuals who have a good grasp on their psychological make-up may find it difficult or even impossible to tolerate an intimate relationship with someone of a different attitudinal orientation. Hence so many acrimonious divorces and separations. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, pp 86-87)
I think that this is easily enough understood in itself. Intimacy requires a high level of trust where one’s “self” is held in esteem by the “other.” When intimacy between opposite types is enacted, it becomes critical to deny the “self” in favour of “other.” Where on dominates, the other is diminished. This takes me to the words of Jung:
Where love reigns, there is no will to power; and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking. The one is but the shadow of the other. (Jung, CW 7, par 78)
And therein lies the problem. Especially when life causes us to fall to our knees, bruised and wounded, when we begin the work of healing the self and the soul, that is when strive to survive knowing that in the end, regardless of whom we engage in intimacy, we are alone. Our journey is an individual journey even if shared with an “other.”
A trip to the Tarcoles River which is shown above, was made specifically to go crocodile hunting with the camera. And, as you can tell, I did manage to achieve my objective. At the end of the morning I had probably seen about thirty different crocodiles of varying sizes. This fellow was seen near the end of the journey on the river. This guy’s protective covering and fearsome teeth suggest that he is one tough customer. In a way, this is exactly the same idea with our “persona,” the face of “self” that we present to the world.
Without a persona, we are simply too vulnerable. We regularly cover up our inferiorities with a persona, since we do not like our weaknesses to be seen. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, p. 75
What lies beneath the persona is a curious thing. Of course, we know what we are protecting, what we are disguising when we take on a persona. For example, the persona I wore while being a principal of a school was different from the persona I would wear as a minor hockey coach years ago. Each mask was crafted for a particular purpose with a different intended audience. The “self” that consciously directs the traffic of these masks is the ego. However, there is also an unconscious level of self that comes to the theatre of persona, the “shadow” is also doing what it needs to do.
Generally speaking, the shadow is less civilized, more primitive, cares little for social propriety. What is of value to the persona is anathema to the shadow, and vice versa. Hence the shadow and the persona function in a compensatory way: the brighter the light, the darker the shadow. The more one identifies with the persona – which is in effect is to deny that one has a shadow – the more trouble one will have with the unacknowledged areas of the personality. (ibid)
This is good stuff to know. There is no doubt that living as though one was fully persona, living the natural attitude and our dominant functions works well and we are rewarded well in life doing so. Yet, at some point, because the shadow, the opposite attitude and the inferior functions will want out of the prison in which we have confined them. When this happens, we can consider this to be a happy breakdown as it finally convinces us, through pain, to acknowledge all the denied aspects of self, both consciously and unconsciously denied. This is the gift of a midlife crisis.
This morning I went on an excursion to the Tarcoles River here in Costa Rica. The idea was to get a number of photos of crocodiles in the brackish waters of the Tarcoles River near the Pacific Ocean. While waiting for my guide and boat, I wandered a bit and found this beautiful Scarlet Macaw. I’ve been watching a pair of Macaws late each afternoon as they pass over the south end of the beach on their way into the low mountains near by. I have managed to get a few shots of the birds as they fly high in the air, but never a photo this close and this clear. This sure beats trying to take a photo of the bird in some sanctuary where wire gets in the way. I like this photo as it serves as a clear representation of an extravert that focuses on object.
. . . what is of value to the introvert is the opposite of what is important to the extravert, the inferior attitude regularly bedevils one’s relationships with others. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, p. 67)
No wonder we experience relationship conflicts with those who have a different psychological attitude. I know that I drive extraverts crazy with my lack of focus on the outer world; and I drive them even crazier when I don’t manifest a passion for things, for action in the outer world. But then again, I am driven nuts with the focus on trying to decide whether one eats at this restaurant, that restaurant or yet a different restaurant. It’s enough that we eat decent food. In my mind, it isn’t worth the energy to debate the question and then take a stand to convince the “other” of my choice. Yet, this is important stuff for an extravert.
How can there be a true meeting of the minds when those minds are on different wavelengths speaking a different language? Maybe this isn’t something that is easily done. But, it is definitely interesting and worth the experience.
I was fortunate enough to get this photo of a father and his son in the surf. When I find people with my lens, I wonder what kind of people they are. Of course, it is too hard to tell from observation only, especially limited observation as in passing these people by while walking or any other mode of movement.
In the early morning, I go for a jog on the beach with my wife. It has become a new habit, or should I say, a re-visited habit. I began running when I was a young teenager and only quit running in the 90s due to a number of circumstances such as heel spurs and midlife angst.
Returning back to this morning, while running I go into an inner space and almost lose track of my surroundings. Of course I am not so “zoned out” that I am unaware of logs or stones or people on the periphery of my senses. Still, I go to an inner place and my thoughts swarm almost as though there is no control. My head fills with thoughts of what I will write, how I am coping with the demands on my body, dreaming while awake. This is classic unscripted introversion.
And my wife, whom I have previously mentioned meets the world with an extraverted attitude, is running beside me. I am aware of her there and set a pace that isn’t too much, yet still asking a bit more from her as she builds her strength and endurance. She is tuned into the world around her. She notes all the sounds, the sights and the activities. I know that if someone else was running beside her there would likely be some conversation to fill in the silence.
To the extravert, in these circumstances, the introvert is in fairy land and not good company at all. So how does this get interpreted and understood by the extravert and the introvert? Well, the answer to that question isn’t really all that important. What is important is how each handles the “self” in relation to the “other” at times like this. And this, is an area of dealing with one’s shadow.
And now, a few words from Sharp:
Introversion and extraversion, as a typical attitude, indicates an essential bias that conditions one’s whole psychic process. The habitual mode of reaction determines not only the style of behavior, but also the quality of subjective experience. Moreover, it determines what is required in terms of compensation by the unconscious. Since either attitude is by itself one-sided, there would be a complete loss of psychic balance if there were no compensation by an unconscious counter position.
Hence alongside or behind the introvert’s usual way of functioning there is an unconscious extraverted attitude that automatically compensates the one-sidedness of consciousness. Similarily, the one-sided extraversion is balanced or modified by an unconscious introverted attitude. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, p. 71)
On a walk through this beach village, I came across this tree which for all appearances looked to be dead. Then, I noticed two little new bits of growth. One of them stood proudly out in the open and the other stood quietly behind the centre stage occupied by the other. It made me think of One being an extravert and the other being an introvert.
Appearances are deceiving for us most of the time. We see how people act and then we draw conclusions about the nature of those people. We don’t understand that an introvert could very likely find himself or herself in a career that requires them to be present in significant ways with coworkers and clients. Take two active and dynamic workers and beneath the behaviours one might be an introvert in spite of the behaviours. So how does one know?
In Jung’s model, introversion and extraversion are psychological modes of adaptation. In the former, the movement of energy is toward the inner world. In the latter, interest is directed toward the outer world. In one case the subject (inner reality) and in the other the object (outer reality) is of primary importance. Whether one is predominately introverted or extraverted – as opposed to what one is doing at any particular time – depends on the direction one’s energy naturally, and usually, flows. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, p. 61)
Too much quiet, inner time wears an extravert’s system down. My wife is predominately an extravert. She is able to gain energy in interaction with others. I, on the other hand, find that too much time, or even too many people fatigue me. If I am to recharge, I need quiet, alone time. Then, I am able to connect with the subjective inner world, a world that was drowned out when I was behaving as though an extravert. For me, the opportunity to allow my thinking pattern, fantasy thinking, free reign finds me building an inner excitement. Whereas in a crowd, after a time, I feel overwhelmed with directed thinking and become quieter and quieter as I have worked too hard in an area that is not my natural state.
I am an introvert, but I do operate as an extravert whenever possible, for as long as possible. Anyone watching me when I am “present” and “engaged” actively would not hesitate to think that I am an extrovert. So much for behaviours being predictors of psychological typology.
I have found the photos I want for today’s blog. Again, three photos. None were staged and all respect the individual privacy of the subjects while at the same time they provide me with the context of today’s post which returns to something I found in Chapter 5 of Sharp’s book that I wanted to look at in more detail.
First, the photos. Playa Jacó is a surfer’s paradise. This is where many “cool” people hang out catching waves and at times catching the eyes of the opposite gender. Looking at these two people, I want to say that they weren’t the extremes in terms of dress styles. Guys often wear layers for bathing suits. And, many women wear much skimpier attire that this woman, even mothers with children are found in bathings suits not much more that a hint of cloth.
And, as to be expected, a lot of couples are found on the beaches such as t his one. It was interesting to see, the contrast between the alluring females and the nondescript males. If anything, the males appeared to be almost asexual. These “appearances” contradict what is happening beneath the surface.
Perhaps the major problem between men and women today is that a woman wants to be seen in her entirety, and men persist in seeing her simply as an object of lust – or the flip side, as mother. Many women enjoy being lusted after, even invite it by dressing or acting provocatively. We can probably thank the multi-billion-dollar fashion industry for that. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, p. 52)
Women don’t like to be objectified, and that is understandable. No one should be objectified. Yet, each of us struggles with “otherness” with how to relate to otherness. Becoming too subjective, transference and identification become huge issues. Finding where self and other are separate is about being able to look objectively at the other.
But, that said, I do have questions and concerns that have shown up in my dreams of late.
Dream fragment one: … i sense a state of conflict, a sense of impending loss … I ask the woman present in my dream why she is leaving me, abandoning me … she tells me it is because I have a penis …
Dream fragment two: … the conflict continues and the stakes seem to be rising … I again ask the woman why she is leaving me … she tells me that it is because my penis is not huge and hard enough …
Okay, a contradiction seems to be apparent here. But when I looked carefully at this in the light of day, I saw that both are real, both are at issue. Perhaps women do want us to be non-threatening while they go through their lust-inciting, desire-enticing routines. There is a need for safety, for men to keep their penises in their pants. What better way than to have the male dress to mask the existence of his sex? What better way than to have him become considerate, thoughtful, caring and consoling. Even once mated, this need for men to “stuff it” must be continually played out. To act out would be inappropriate behaviour. Men need to master the art of mental cold showers. The penis gets in the way of relationship. Masculine need gets in the way of the relationship. The relationship is asexual at its best. When sexual tension presents, then conflict presents … enough sexual tension and the relationship is at risk.
And, at the same time, when “heat” has seized a woman, her man needs to become fully masculine. At the right moment, he must grow with fullness and desire to enter the promised land – on her terms and with right timing. Getting lost in lust which goes inward can effectively shut down the moment. Focus must be kept on her, on her mood, on her need with an animal magnetism. Hard, strong, long and endurance to last until her need has been met. Now, it is all about the penis – long, hard, enduring. And woe to him who because of practised sublimation doesn’t get it up enough to meet those needs. Not meeting the need, he is reduced to helplessness and is dismissed as not being a real “man.”
Thus we see the conflict between man and woman, anima and animus, consciousness and unconsciousness. Projections and complexes colour this scene to find millions of versions of this story being acted and re-enacted in the lives of couples.
Today’s photo has little, if anything to do with the topic. I caught this fellow on this morning’s walk with my wife through the streets of Playa Jacó. Why? There isn’t an element of trust involved in the momentary meeting between the two of us, a meeting that lasted for quite some time as I gently got in his face in order to a number of photos from different angles, all done without scaring him off into the bushes. There definitely was a sense of alertness on his part and my part, an alertness that took nothing for granted.
Trust takes safety for granted. One can only be betrayed if one is involved in a relationship of trust. And then, betrayal can take many forms, not simply the age-old betrayal of sexual transgressions, cheating on one’s partner. Betrayal is found in the smallest things, sometimes so small as to not even be realised when it happens to either or both parties. The first betrayal in all relationships, is when we realise that the person with whom we have committed ourselves in a relationship, is not the same person we find ourselves with when projections vanish allowing us to see the stranger behind the projections. From that point on, trust is hard to recover and exists on shaky ground until life provides enough time for the relationship to become full based on more conscious approaches, based on engaging together to navigate real life.
A quote from Chapter Five of Sharp’s book features the words of James Hillman:
We can be truly betrayed only where we truly trust – by brothers, lovers, wives, husbands, not by enemies, not by strangers. The greater the love and loyalty, the involvement and commitment, the greater the betrayal. … Wherever there is trust in a union, the risk of betrayal becomes a real possibility. And the betrayal, as a continual possibility to be lived with, belongs to trust just as doubt belongs to a living faith. (cited in Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, pp 58-59)
It’s no wonder that we suffer so many broken hearts, so many small arrows that test our commitment to relationship. To hold trust fully and completely requires one to be a perfect being. And I, for one, have never met any such being. To avoid all betrayals requires both in the relationship to be fully conscious and perfect. Knowing that each of us, especially myself, exist as a bundle of complexes and struggle with slowly advancing our level of consciousness, of awareness as we move through life and relationships; we know that we will betray not only those whom we love and trust, but also our personal “self.” Who said it was supposed to be easy?