Archive for the ‘quaternity’ tag
I took this photo just hours before heading to the airport to fly out of Ho Chi Minh City while enjoying a cup of iced Vietnamese milk coffee in an outdoor cafe called Milano’s with my Vietnamese guide and a driver. It was a moment of peaceful relaxation as there was no need to rush off. Time stood still for a while as we chatted and enjoyed the coffee and the shade from the heat of the afternoon sun. The respite was welcome as it wouldn’t be long before the frenetic activity of airports and travel once again surged.
Travel in many of the Asian countries have provided me with similar scenes of power lines. I found this scene particularly interesting because it brings the lines together before heading out and soon becoming a tangled mess that looks like chaos. One needs to bring all the lines together in order to have wholeness, to ensure that the flow of energy will happen as it should.
Of course, this makes me think of how I often get caught up in the threads and end up missing the bigger picture. I have to blame somebody or something for this, so I blame my inferior function which wasn’t considered by my conscious self. If there is to be order, I need all of the functions to bring wholeness.
“In order to orient ourselves, we must have a function which ascertains that something is there (sensation); a second function which establishes what it is (thinking); a third function which states whether it suits us or not, whether we wish to accept it or not (feeling); and a fourth function which indicates where it came from and where it is going (intuition). (Jung, CW 11, par. 246)
Without a sense of wholeness, things are adrift and one is left without a unifying anchor, without a sense of purpose, adrift in a field of chaos. Strange how it takes the fourth to bring together the other three in order to get wholeness – one sky, four directions – white light, four primary colours. Separating the one into many parts and then weaving them back together into one – that is how I come to understand my journey of individuation.
I went back two months into my archives to find this photo which I took in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Why this particular photo? I guess, it was the first to catch my eye. There is no “plan” as far as today’s post is concerned. For a while, I didn’t even know if I would write a post. Today is a sunny day with the temperature finally climbing into a very comfortable range which lead to a long walk in the early afternoon. The morning was spent trying to keep up on the tragedies that are unfolding all around the world with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan heading the list. With all of this happening, I just couldn’t seem to find the “will” to write as I usually do. However, now in the late afternoon, I find that the words are beginning to come. Trusting to instinct, I have decided that I will post today. In a way the photo sort of helps explain how it feels to be coming out of a tunnel and looking at the sunshine promised in the distance.
The unrest in Northern Africa, the conflict in Afghanistan, the tensions in so many places and the unsettled planet making its own set of statements through earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and storms. It makes me think of how one is often left feeling powerless when the inner storms begin their assaults that are chaotic. When the psyche decides enough is enough, one is shocked by eruptions of the unconscious.
I turned to Jung’s works for some words that might make a difference in feeling less “at sea” with all that is going on. Strangely enough, I found something in volume 11 in a an essay on the concept of “quaternity” that seemed to fit with what I am experiencing/feeling. I have often written about typology, about the two rational functions and the two irrational functions with the dominant function being opposed by an inferior function. In the essay, Jung looks at the role of the inferior function in a way that helps me understand a bit more.
“Three of the four orienting functions are available to consciousness. This is confirmed by the psychological experience that a rational type, for instance, whose superior function is thinking, has at his disposal one or two possible auxiliary functions of an irrational nature, namely sensation (the “fonction dy réel”) and intuition (perception via the unconscious). His inferior function will be feeling (valuation), which remains in a retarded state and is contaminated with the unconscious. It refuses to come along with the others and often goes wildly off on its own. This peculiar dissociation is, it seems, a product of civilization, and it denotes a freeing of consciousness from any excessive attachment to the “spirit of gravity.” (Jung, CW 11, par. 245)
The missing fourth function erupts and does its own thing, unchecked by the superior function that is blind to the inferior function. Why do I think this is relevant? I think back to how other cultures, and animals have been in tune with the planet and seemed to “know” in advance the approach of events such as earthquakes. Such events take us by surprise and seem to come out of nowhere. But, our inferior function lost in the sea of unconsciousness to our purposes is not really lost. All really isn’t in a state of chaos.
It takes a lot of patience with ourselves as we do the work of rediscovery of the inferior function, trusting that the dark and unknown regions are not really just a personal version of a chaotic and dark hell. There is light in this darkness as well. And as in this photo, we can learn to navigate into and out of the shadow and feel less of a victim.
At the eastern edge of Chase, British Columbia, the Catholic Church stands at the entrance, at the base of Jade Mountain. It is an interesting looking church, as churches go. I took the requisite number of photos as any good tourist would take. I didn’t really plan on using any of them for this blog site while taking the photos, that is until I entered the church.
There at the back of the church, behind the alter, stood a stained glass window. What set this window apart from others I have seen, was the placement of the cross. The four panes of the stained glass window framed the four quadrants. The top two panes contained crosses with a star cross in the centre of each pane. The bottom panes again held crosses with a chalice and at the centre.
All four panes formed a quaternity on their own. At the centre of each pane, a circle creates a mandala where “four” is again held. I am reminded of the expression “as above, so below,” an ancient expression associated with alchemy. The circle in the top panes evoke a sky-like, an airy feel that is suggestive of heaven in which the cross serves as a marker of directions as well as the aspects which are contained such as “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost” . . . and the Mother. The golden rays of “Sol” are found in the four corners while the pure white light of the moon is found radiating from the centre of the circle.
The circles in the bottom pane are priceless. At the centre, red. Red or rubedo, the union of opposites purified, the Holy Marriage, the Alchymical Marriage of soul and spirit. The top half of the circle is golden in four pieces; the bottom half again has four pieces, this time blue “water.” At the centre another four pieces – two above the red centre and two below. Above, the moon receiving the sun, allowing the sun to enter and be held. Below another two pieces descending into the waters of the unconscious. And in the whole, balance.
The whole left me breathless. Even now as I write this I am still breathless.
The subject line for this post is called “The Transparent Self.” In a way, they share more in common that would originally be noted. The Transparent Self is a book I picked up a long time ago, a book that sits on my book shelf back in my home in Canada. The author of the book is Sidney Jourard. Since my copy of the book is thousands of kilometres from where I sit as I compose this post, I will have to make do with what I found doing e-searches on the computer.
Jourard’s book as I remember it, is about man learning to disclose his “self” in order to become whole, more capable of a healthy relationship with “self” and “other.”
“We begin life with the world presenting itself to us as it is. Someone – our parents, teachers, analysts – hypnotizes us to ‘see’ the world and construe it in the ‘right’ way. These others label the world, attach names and give voices to the beings and events in it, so that thereafter, we cannot read the world in any other language or hear it saying other things to us. The task is to break the hypnotic spell, so that we become undeaf, unblind, and multilingual, thereby letting the world speak to us in new voices and write all its possible meaning in the new book of our existence.”
“We camouflage our true being before others to protect ourselves against criticism or rejection. This protection comes at a steep price. When we are not truly known by the other people in our lives, we are misunderstood. When we are misunderstood, especially by family and friends, we join the “lonely crowd.” Worse, when we succeed in hiding our being from others, we tend to lose touch with our real selves. This loss of self contributes to illness in its myriad forms.” (courtesy of Coyote Prime)
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.