Archive for the ‘wholeness’ tag
This is a portion of a larger photo that I took earlier today at the Tianning Temple in ChangZhou. I had gone to the temple with a friend visiting from Canada. These incense sticks were used by my friend in a prayer ritual before being placed in one of the iron cauldrons to hold the incense sticks that have done their votive duties. I don’t know very much about Buddhism and my friend new even less. Taking quick observation lessons as others around us went through rituals with their bundles of incense, I helped my friend as she struggled with the ritual. In the end, the experience was good for my friend as she left feeling as though she had done something holy. And, that sense of holiness had nothing to do with the ritual, but with the attitude and intention of offering a prayer to whatever it is that takes on the projections of our individual prayers.
My earliest awareness of incense comes from the experiences of a Catholic confirmation when I was seven years old. With the ceremony, I felt that I had connected with something bigger than my sense of self, something that was good and pure. And as with all such experiences, the little things that dance in attendance around the event, the cathedral, the incense, the muted colours and filtered light all became associated with holiness, with wholeness. So, while my friend said her prayer, my own spirit felt an expansion and left me feeling as if I had prayed as well.
It has been a good day.
A Cambodian woman with three of her children at the back gates of Angkor Wat. A fourth child, a girl is sitting on a block of stone that is part of the wall, just off to the left. Family grounds a person, family nourishes. But looking carefully, there is a hint that all is not well. There is evidence that the children, the mother and the face of the world in which they are presented are not nourished as they could or should be nourished. There is evidence of neglect, perhaps of abandonment and abuse. Yet, in spite of appearances, there is also love and hope in evidence.
This is really not a post about this photo, but about the self which is in much the same state of being. Anima, the soul, is not nourished as it could or should be. How does one care for one’s soul? Well, it might sound as though the answer would lie in doing things that focus on self in a way that excludes others or the outer world, but that is not even close to the truth of what it means to care for one’s soul, to nourish one’s soul.
We are individuals and can only understand the world through our limited capacities of body and brain for the most part. We are members of a collective with bodies and psyches that demand connection to others. The pull to join physically, socially and psychologically are the norm, not the exception. In joining, co-joining and cooperating with others, a sense of fullness and purpose is activated. One senses a rightness at that moment. The sense that being with other is part of what makes one whole is important. We marry, we join groups, we teach, we work and we play with others and in the process often find ourselves in the process.
As I listen to voices in cyberspace talking of community in new ways, community that has no geographical boundaries, no racial or religious boundaries, I learn that “otherness” is not something that needs to be separate from “self.” In fact, I learn the opposite, that otherness and self are two parts of a wholeness. And this is a lesson that one needs to learn about the “otherness” that exists within one’s psyche, the shadow world that one senses is there but often refuses to associate with or acknowledge. Denied, the internal otherness, the soul wrapped in mystery and darkness, only results in the self reflecting the malnourishment. Depression, anger, fear, moodiness and isolation eat away at the foundation of one’s self.
Individuation is a work of one within the container of the whole collective with the collective being nourished as one’s soul is nourished.
I was a good tourist yesterday as I spent most of the day in Shanghai taking photos while at Expo 2010. How can one be in a country and not take in one of their significant cultural events? I don’t like crowds, but the Expo experience in Shanghai required that I deal with this and accept it without complaint if I wanted to find personal value in the experience.
By the end of the day I had accumulated almost three hundred photos and very tired feet. I found myself taking photos of people almost as much as the pavilions and the artifacts such as this photographer. This photo is almost a self-portrait. Aside from the colour and length of hair, this could easily be me with my camera.
It is interesting to me how I am finding my “self” in others, as though I am “conscious” of my projections and as a result seeing that the “individual” Robert is actually not really a separation from “others.” I am aware of the biological, cultural and social separations which is a good thing to be aware of. I am also aware that each “other” I encounter has a unique story that could be told. Yet, in spite of these stories, I am seeing the invisible connections that lead back to a one-ness, a wholeness. I am my brother and my brother is me.
This is a photo taken as night was approaching while I was on a hike up to a vantage point where I had hoped to see lava flowing from Arenal Volcano. Once out of the van, it became evident that the journey up the base of the volcanic foothill would be done mostly in the dark. I had a guide so the thought of the journey wasn’t as fear inducing as it would have been had I attempted this alone. Before going far, this suspended bridge had to be crossed. I knew that this was the boundary line. If fear was to win out, I would have to turn back here. Crossing the bridge meant that I was committed for the entire journey.
I have finished with Daryl Sharp’s third book in the Jung Uncorked series. There is a fourth book now published but I have yet to obtain a copy for reading and reflection. Since I have an inclination, I want to continue the idea of individuation and spirituality through the work of another Canadian Jungian analyst, John Dourley. John Dourley is a priest who is also a professor at a university in Ottawa, my birth place in Canada. I have a number of his books at my home and feel some connection with him as a person though we have never met. If all goes as planned, I will get to meet John this spring.
“Jung’s theoretical understanding of religion makes of the analytic process a religious event. It recalls the Gods to their psychic origin and encourages unmediated conversation with them within the containment of the psyche. The analytic process thus understood is currently to be valued for a number of reasons. The internalization of divinity curtails enmity between religious communities bonded by external Gods. More than this, Jung’s total myth contends that divinity can become conscious only in humanity. The education and redemption of God in history is an ongoing project. Currently it takes the form of an emerging myth of an extended compassion whose embrace supplants still reigning myths of lesser compass. The analytic process, though confined, in the first instance, to individuals, is a significant contributor to the now emerging societal myth.” (Dourley, Jung and the Recall of the Gods, Journal of Jungian Theory and Practice, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2006, p. 43)
Individuals, individuation, consciousness, internalization of divinity … going down a lesser travelled path leading through darkness. This is what I have accepted as my future and my present. I could say that I have no choice, but that wouldn’t be true. Like the moment on the bridge, I do have the option of saying “No!” to this journey. To continue this journey, I will increasingly find myself increasingly alone in terms of people around me. Yet, it will not be as lonely as all of that, for along the way, I will discover my “self” and become more and more of a whole person. Wholeness. For me, that is now becoming holiness, a state of terrible grace.
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)
This photo was taken in early May as I returned home from a visit to North Dakota. It was supposed to end up in the SoFoBoMo book, but it was saved for this second book. As I am now finished twenty entries with each entry matched with a photo, I am well into the second half of the book. Perhaps it will be finished within the SoFoBoMo time frame as well, that is by June 4th.
The tenth stage of the hero’s journey is called apotheosis. Below is my conceptual understanding of this stage of the inner journey.
Binding the pieces
The tenth stage of the hero’s journey is referred to as apotheosis, which is a state of holiness, of godliness. In Jungian thought, this occurs when there is a sense of wholeness within, when the opposites are united. The term “Self” is described as
“… an archetype of wholeness and the regulating centre of the psyche; a transpersonal power that transcends the ego.” (Sharp, C.G. Jung Lexicon, p. 119, 1991.)
This is different from the “self,” which is best described as the conscious aspect of the psyche, or the ego. In meeting with the mother archetype and the father archetype, and in the meetings gaining a deeper awareness of self, one achieves as sense of wholeness. One recaptures those aspects which had been split off, banished into the shadows of the unconscious. Now, in the light, one begins to piece together the fragments and rebuild the core of one’s self. The resultant wholeness is holiness.
As Daryl Sharp goes on to explain,
Experiences of the (S)elf posses a numinosity characteristic of religious revelations. Hence Jung believed there was no essential difference between the (S)elf as an experiential, psychological reality and the traditional concept of a supreme deity. (Sharp, C.G. Jung Lexicon, p. 120, 1991.)
Imagine how it must feel to banish the dragons which have made one feel insignificant, as worthless. Imagine winning the power held by those dragons. In the journey through the darkness of the soul, one faces many dragons or demons. As they are exposed to the light, they cease being powerful, they become conscious aspects of self. And, in the process, one connects beyond the personal shadow and senses being a part of the whole. Therein lays the relation with what is best known as God, a God who is found within.
And this is an idea that has been at the centre of Christianity for two millennia: “The kingdom of God is within you.” (John 17:21), and “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you.” (Corinthians 3:16)