Archive for the ‘San Jose’ tag
This morning as I enter these words on the keyboard of my laptop, there is a slight drizzle that is expected to turn into snow as the morning wears on. It is zero outside, that line that marks the freezing point. The skies are gray. It has become an almost colourless world here on the Canadian prairies, a world waiting for sunshine and the return of colour, the return of life.
This photo was taken three months ago in San José, Costa Rica at the hostel I was staying at while in the city. It seemed as though everywhere I looked, people had strung concertina wire around their homes. The wire was meant to keep out those who would steal and perhaps injure those within the confines of the sharp wire.
The wire made me think of how we build our own defenses against outside intruders. In truth, our personae are just that, defenses. We build our personae into personalities that hide the inside contents, the treasure that is our soul, our sense of worth. In a way, it is similar to the layer upon layer of protective wrapping that we use when we want to ship something fragile and priceless to another destination. The last thing we want to happen is to have an “other” steal our treasure and perhaps even destroy it.
While reading books such as the Da Vinci Code or The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (and others of the same genre) one watches as the layers are peeled back to reveal the ultimate treasure. The extremes to which one goes in order to protect that central truth is amazing. What we do in ordinary life is just as amazing when it comes to adding layer upon layer of protection. It doesn’t take too long before the inner treasure becomes almost mythic in nature. What takes on the lustre of truth are nothing more than protective symbols that can only point back to the centre, or in too many situations, point away from the centre if one doesn’t recognise the symbols.
As we try to regain a sense of who we really are, we must navigate through the carefully constructed layers of protection, decoding the symbols along the way, overcoming the traps set by our various complexes. This work is truly a hero’s journey.
This is a scene from the Poas Volcano that is found near San José, Costa Rica. This volcano is “capped” with a lake now sitting in the bowl. The only sign of life is a vent of steam that allows the volcano to remain dormant. There is little doubt in my mind that Poas Volcano is representative of the unconscious under pressure – at least the personal unconscious contents. How does one keep the volcano, the personal unconscious capped? Well, the easiest way is to deny those contents. Rather thank looking inward for the roots, the source of the “steam,” we tend to project these unconscious contents onto others. And when we do that we often find that “others” aren’t so happy with being demonized, being made the holders of darkness.
“Humanity’s current participation in the ongoing divine/human drama calls up the image of the volcano that now needs to be capped in the wake of Jung’s recall of the Gods to their psychic origin. Jung confronts contemporary humanity with the question of whether it is up to suffering divinely based conflict in the immediate precinct of human interiority, the matrix of all the Gods, without breaking containment and destroying itself in destroying the evil other. Failure to meet Jung’s challenge would only continue the sad current situation of externalizing the conflict and blowing up, in the name of the demonic, whatever contradicts one’s own truncated personal or collective compact or testament with the divine. Thus the recall of the Gods and the internal resolution of their mutual enmity as the precedent of external peace is currently at the heart of the hope of the species that it can survive its God and religion-creating proclivity (Dourley, 2003).” (Dourley, “Jung and the Recall of the Gods”, Journal of Jungian Theory and Practice, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2006, p. 48)
Jung also sees the problem of externalizing the conflict rather than looking withing to see what has been activated within. As long as a society continues to externalize conflict there remains the chance that things will blow-up in our faces. As a modern world, our weapons of conflict are too powerful for us to survive such a blow up. When we look at the externalizing of spiritualism we see Muslim and Christian engaged in wars of terrorism, we see Muslim and Zionists warring, we see factional Christian groups warring. No one dares look within and wonder about personal responsibility or personal behaviour.
Externalizing our human spiritualism and having one being be the container/holder/prophet/god for that spiritualism reduces the individual to a state of powerlessness, removes the individual from personal accountability for acts that perhaps she or he would otherwise never commit. Jung and Dourley call for us to recall the gods to their roots within the human psyche rather than continue to have the gods externalized. Failure to do so will put humanity’s survival in peril.
And, it can only happen one soul, one person at a time. There can be no church to guide you. If nothing else, listen to your dreams and study your own heated moments in order to see just who you are. Listen, reflect, create, dialogue.
This photo was taken in San Jose on one of the streets that are designated as being for pedestrians only. Of course as you can see, that doesn’t exclude some of San Jose’s finest from patrolling on bikes. If I am not mistaken, it was taken on 4th Avenue not too far from Central Park.
The issue is control, or giving the impression that there is control. Of course, in any tourist area around the world including those at home in Canada, there is always an issue of safety, of protection from crime. Yet, in spite of the efforts of the law enforcement agencies of all countries, misdeeds continue to happen.
This makes me think of how I (and you) find ourselves in the same situation where we think we have everything under control only to find out otherwise. Within the self there operate complexes which seem to have a life of their own beyond our efforts at conscious control. This is the topic in Chapter 2 of Sharp’s book, Jung Uncorked: Book One. As Sharp puts it:
We like to think we are masters in our own house, but clearly we are not. We are renters at best. Psychologically we live in a boarding house of saints and knaves, nobles and villains, run by a landlord who for all we know is indifferent to the lot. We fancy that we can do what we want, but when it comes to a showdown our will is hampered by fellow boarders with a mind of their own. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, p. 22)
These complexes are neither good nor bad, but simply part of the total package that defines self. Complexes are a curious blend of instincts, archetypes and personal history. We really aren’t victims to our complexes as that would suggest that complexes exist outside of self and in the control of others. As we become more aware of our complexes, we begin to understand a bit about our own actions and responses that go against what we would consciously allow. Now a bit more from Sharp:
The activation of a complex is always marked by the presence of some strong emotion, be it love, hate, rage, sadness, joy, or simply irritation. Everyone is complexed by something, which is to say, we all react emotionally when the right buttons are pushed. Or, to put it another way, an emotional reaction means that a complex has been activated. When we are emotional we can’t think straight and hardly know how we feel. We speak and act out of the complex, and when it has run its course we wonder what took over. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, p. 21)
Well, it is late in the afternoon as I find time to add to this blog site. I took this photo yesterday during a long walk through the central part of San Jose. This is a corner battlement of a building that is now the National Museum. Most of the exterior of the building is in good shape with a new yellow paint job. Somehow, the battlements show signs of a rougher life, a life before being a museum.
The photo made me think of persona, one’s outward appearance and bearing to the world at large. One tries so hard to show no scars or blemishes, striving to be in fashion and to be presentable. yet beneath the paint, we are all scared just like this section of the museum.
For me, the outer appearance is becoming less and less importance other than in being rather bland so as to not attract too much attention to myself. It is safer to be seen as one of the collective. Few look deeper than what is apparent at first glance. And for that, those who do the work of becoming more “self” than “collective” find space for individuation.
As for the scars one obtains along the journey, it is possible to become comfortable with them and let them show. After all, these are the outward markers of character.
Well, the journey to Costa Rica went well if a little long. As I finally woke up and left the Guest House, a backpackers’ hostel in San Jose, to cross the street where breakfast was waiting, I found this flower that invited me to take its picture. So much greenery with occasional flowers such as this, a difference from the white, blues, browns and greys of the prairies at this time of year. I noticed how my eye was attracted to the light of the flower as it contrasted with the darker background.
Last night as we flew south over Mexico and Central America, I was able to also note the singular points of lights that made up villages, towns and cities in the darkness. I thought of taking a photo but decided against it. My camera isn’t good enough to do these scenes justice. But then again, the image was burned into my head so that is okay as well.
Of course, the image made me think of consciousness as being similarly a point of light in the surrounding darkness of the unconscious. From the heights looking down, there was so much darkness – the collective unconscious is a powerful and immense darkness. I thought that perhaps the cities of Mexico City and San Jose would somehow create a collective consciousness, but what I saw instead was almost countless individual lights that stayed separate.
This shouldn’t have surprised me. In our individual consciousness we are forever alone and unique though we are in proximity to others. Somehow, we can never fully bridge the darkness to create a double light, a collective light. At least not in this version of beingness.