Self-Exploration 6 – Quest for Wholeness

•January 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment
Quest for Wholeness

It is a necessary journey of self-exploration into our own unconscious and unrealized potential, soul’s journey from the material world towards its source. We can intentionally build a soulful relationship between our conscious and unconscious being. In Jung’s view, ego represents the conscious mind comprised of thoughts, memories, and emotions we are aware of. The ego is largely responsible for feelings of identity and continuity. But it has blind-spots, denial, and projections.

Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end – you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.” “There is no end to self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is only from moment to moment, and therefore there is a creative happiness from moment to moment.” New Delhi India 1st Public Talk (14 November 1948)
James Hillman states our foundational condition in strong terms: “Each of us exists not as a material object but as an image. We are complex images given by the vocation of our soul that preceded our birth and all the dreams, missions and voices of our ancestors. …We are images, not imaginations, but powerful images that are echoes of original or primordial images that belong to the time of origin and have produced in a legendary place: Olympus, mount Meru, Mount Popa, the home of the gods. ….We could say that our lives are the memory, the echo of those primordial images. Such images of origin can be defined as eidola, i.e. idols.  We can only do in time what the gods do In eternity.”  (The Vain Escape from the Gods)

In knowing ourselves we also encounter the sacred dimension and come to know God, however such numinous experiences appear, Jung noted we never directly can know God, only the god-image in the psyche. The experience of the sacred or the holy is “numinous”, mysterious, tremendous, or fascinating, with a powerful emotional quality. Mystical union is a felt-sense of the sacred, divine, or presence of God.
Typical phenomena include unity of opposites (a sense of Oneness, wholeness or completeness); timelessness (a sense that mystical experiences transcend time), and a feeling that we have somehow encountered “the true self” (felt-presence, a sense that mystical experiences reveal the nature of our true, cosmic self: one that is beyond life and death).

It can also initiate a transformative descent into darkness, a Dark Night of the Soul, with despair and alienation.The searching self trembles. Our suppressed darkness is exposed as we struggle to bring light to the darkness. This destruction precedes rebirth and awakening to the truth of the self.  Joseph Campbell says,”The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation. When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed.”

The Dark Night produces spiritual and existential crisis. We feel engulfed in darkness. The spiritual process creates varieties of dark nights, since each one is unique. Crises can follow life-changing events, a natural disaster, berievement, a medical diagnosis, confrontation with mortality, mental or physical pain which can be opportunities for discovering depths of wisdom and awareness.

An unexpected collapse of identity and understanding of life creates depression that changes our worldview. It includes transformation involving deep, profound insights into our spiritual evolution and facing our shadow. General categories include fear, dryness, loss of meaning, desolation without consolation, and trauma of the spirit.

Our conditioned self breaks open. Such transformation is a natural evolutionary process that anyone can access. Trauma comes to the surface to be seen, felt, loved, examined, held in presence, aligned with reality, and healed. We may find that true surrender is not death but actually true life.

Everything depends on how we emerge from the trauma and deal with the struggles that emerge. It links the inner and outer worlds together, Resonances between the inner and outer world suggest guidance, insight, and encouragement. Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, claims “Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny.”

The transcendent archetype guides the psycho-spiritual process. The deep intuitive mind has the power to connect us to spiritual reality and inner truth. It takes a leap of faith to turn away from conventional expectations towards our inner world of wisdom with acceptance and curiosity.

Mysterium Tremendum
Anyone can be an ordinary mystic. Each of us can find ways to express our inner journey. We may not experience a regular loss of ego and absorption in the divine. Yet, now and then we may feel lifted out of our bodies and become lost in a beautiful piece of art or scene in nature, or bliss at the wonders of life.

Being infused with a sense of the sacred is enjoyed for its own sake. Sacred sites and pilgrimages may inspire expansive feelings or humility in the living presence of the divine. A rush of personal or collective feelings and deep memories may engulf or flood us with emotion. Paradoxically, the soul, remains passive in divine infusion.

A common example is the nature mystic experience, an ecstatic nonordinary experience where transcendent nature, awesome vistas, or stupendous events inspire us with a sense of the external sacred that resonates and enters the body. This is the “perceptual” nature of experiences of God. The natural world bring blissful feelings, an altered experience of time, a sense of unity, and luminous phenomena. The divine universal presence becomes accessible to the soul, and the nature mystic’s experiential being becomes infused by the experience.

We may feel enveloped in glory, often with a felt-sense  of unity. Inner spaciousness comes with contemplative engagement with the natural world. We can engage and open a conversation with the elements —  earth, the wind, the fire, and the water, We renew our connection with the vital energy that makes our physical lives possible while it cleanses and heals.

These are deeply subjective experiences of the objective or autonomous psyche, which has a compelling life of its own. The Self not only shows up in dreams, but is the maker of dreams. More than just an understanding of our own capabilities, character, feelings, motivations, or self-concept, self=knowledge is an intentional relationship with soul, with psyche as The Beloved, the heart’s knowledge or gnosis. Only a world with soul offers intimacy and resonance. For some it becomes a passion. This is the myth of Eros and Psyche.

Felt-sense is a symbolic bridge to our common co-belonging to the world. We turn toward nature and our own nature to find the authentic self, focusing on dreams, images, and perceptions. “Self-authenticating” experiences, from expressive arts to penetration by the sacred don’t need collective dogma or tradition. These experiences break through our conditioning in both positive and dark ways that cause suffering.

The Quest for the Holy Grail of self-knowledge and self-exploration is a self-initiatory Way, a solitary endeavor that prioritizes psyche or soul. The sacred cannot be defined but only experienced. It is a way beyond the denial of false self-narratives and conditioned self-images, such as roles, persona, and shadow. We come to know and love our images, not as material and concrete, but as imaginal, metaphorical, spiritual. Anima Mundi is our soul relationship with self, others, and cosmos.

“It has to be found by yourself, because it is your life; and without the widening and deepening of that knowledge of the self, do what you will, alter any outward or inward circumstances, influences – it will ever be a breeding ground of despair, pain, sorrow. To go beyond the self-enclosing activities of the mind, you must understand them; and to understand them is to be aware of action in relationship, relationship to things, to people, and to ideas. In that relationship, which is the mirror, we begin to see ourselves, without any justification or condemnation; and from that wider and deeper knowledge of the ways of our own mind, it is possible to proceed further; then it is possible for the mind to be quiet, to receive that which is real.”  J. Krishnamurti Ojai 4th Public Talk 24th July 1949

The seemingly simple precept is at once familiar, mystifying, and profound. Yet, self-knowledge is the foundation of any beneficial practice. We cannot dismiss its claim on us, for it is simply our own inevitable individuation, that distinguishes us from the collective through our unique experiences and understanding. Many worldviews compete for our attention.

Self-knowledge helps us find light and refuge in our suffering. There is a terrible necessity for reciprocity between us and the Gods, between us and our fate. We face the fragility, unpredictability and imponderabilities of our lives within the plots of our personal mythologies and necessary constraints of the environment. Self-awareness means the ability to monitor our inner world – our thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness is one method for enhancing this essential capacity.

Oedipus

The Delphic imperative was finally followed as a prescription by Oedipus, the unconscious, unreflective archetypal person. He did not know himself at all, but was convinced he did know until he entered his tragic revelatory period.

He did not know his origins, his character, or his visionary calling that eventually allowed him to reconcile with his transgenerational legacy and archetypal situation. The gods are not merely instincts, nor concepts, nor archetypes, but living forces with which we are inter-related through the soul of the world, Anima Mundi.

He could not distinguish his character from his personality. His blindness became a metaphor for our own lack of insight and self-understanding. We do not have to follow his path to the bitter end, but can make self-exploration and self-knowledge a daily part of our soul-tending practice.

Oedipus is reborn through unveiling a formerly unsuspected meaning, dealing with the limitations of rational thought and heightened awareness of unconscious dimensions of the psyche. He is a symbol of both the personal and collective unconscious — first in blind denial, then in visionary insight, from ignorance to self-knowledge. Revelation continues all the time if we know how to look.

In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell states, “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

Such a profound reality is symbolic and generally invisible. It relates to the absence or presence of a true self. Such language allows us to apprehend certain truths related to the life of the soul, to interpret situations whose meaning goes beyond the ability of reason alone. Transgenerational analysis shares this language with mythology in order to apprehend how certain necessities in life function and what role they perform in the orientation of our destiny. Thereby hangs our fate. (Gaillard, Oedipus Reborn)

Knowing ourselves can be as simple as identifying our set of beliefs or accepting that we are ignorant of that which remains unconscious. We can never know completely know Absolute reality, universal absolutes, only our relative, subjective experiences, which appear in images as the content of psyche or soul. This is how we know what we know.W e can never know all of the objective psyche, the absolute, only our relative self-awareness.

We like to make cavalier interpretations based on what we think we know, but that just stops the process cold with one a-ha solution. If we remain open to multidimensional meanings the images continue unfolding.

In Facing the Gods, James Hillman points out the common identity of Necessity and Chaos with anxiety: The psychological viewpoint sees Necessity and Chaos not only as explanatory principles only in the realm of metaphysics; they are also mythic events taking place also and always in the soul, and they are the fundamental archai of the human condition. To these two principles the pathe (or motions) of the soul can be linked. Psychology has already recognized the faceless, nameless Chaos, this “sacred and crazy movement” in the soul, as anxiety, and by naming it such, psychology has directly evoked the Goddess Ananke, from whom the word anxiety derives.  If anxiety truly belongs to Ananke, of course, it cannot be “mastered by the rational will.”

The image is a substance with a life of its own. We see it in our psychophysical responses, in our psychosomatic phenomena, and in our inherent genius, which is the spirit within us. In expressive arts we give form to the images arising in our mind’s eye, our dreams, and our everyday lives.

It is a form of spiritual practice through which knowledge of ourselves can ripen into wisdom. Arguably, all scenes in art are internal in the millennia-old search for self-knowledge. Art changes the totality of our human experience. It is a powerful natural therapy. Creativity draws out our self-awareness.

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“There’s a long story in every sentence, every word we say has a huge story, every metaphor is full of historical symbolism. Our words carry all of that story that once was so alive and still exists in every human being .” C.G.Jung, dream analysis. Seminar held in 1928-30

Marie-Louis von Franz said, “Jung’s idea was that the goal of evolution on this planet seems to be to create more consciousness.” When we prioritize psyche and psyche’s perspective, we also bring in the balance of The Feminine and honor our own complexity. Reverie is the return of the unconscious, the imagination, The Feminine. Jung said, “the descent into the depths brings health. It’s the way to the whole being, to the treasure that humanity so constantly researches.” Analytical psychology. Lectures at the Tavistock Clinic, PP. 16-17

“Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. Self-knowledge is cultivated through the individual’s search of himself. I am not putting the individual in opposition to the mass. They are not antithetical. You, the individual, are the mass, the result of the mass. In us, as you will discover if you go into it deeply, are both the many and the particular. It is as a stream that is constantly flowing, leaving little eddies and these eddies we call individuality but they are the result of this constant flow of water.”  Collected Works, Volume 3, Ojai 1st Public Talk 14th May, 1944

Through self-knowledge you begin to find out what is God, what is truth, what is that state which is timeless. In self-knowledge is the whole universe; it embraces all the struggles of humanity. JK

Kahlil Gibran said, “Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know my self, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms.”

Hermann Hesse notes, “I call that man awake who, with conscious knowledge and understanding, can perceive the deep unreasoning powers in his soul, his whole innermost strength, desire and weakness, and knows how to reckon with himself.”  Narcissus and Goldmund

“Without self knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave.”  ―G.I. Gurdjieff

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We can approach our own experience through “unspoken words,” enabling us to look into the inner world—the psyche, or soul—and to explore it. It concerns coming to wholeness more than achievement or self-development. It is concerned with love and felt-sense related to the whole fabric of existence.

We can look at what is happening on the margins of things; explore beneath the surface, and pay attention to silence that occurs for whatever reason. All these activities allow new understanding and opportunities to emerge, sometimes through dreams, passages, and archetypal experience. Learning to tolerate uncertainty leads to more openness to build a reflective capacity into our engagement with the world.

‘This magnificent refuge is inside you. Enter! Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway. Be bold. Be humble. Put away the incense and forget the incantations they taught you. Ask no permission from the authorities. Close your eyes and follow your breath to the still place that leads to the invisible path that leads you home.’ -St.Theresa of Avila.

‘I am often asked if my psychic experiences ‘disturb’ my everyday life. On the contrary, they enrich it. One simultaneously lives a separate existence, aware of a tenuous level of experience as one rubs shoulders with one’s fellows, while underneath there is a pattern that plays unconsciously and perpetually, a web many-colored and delicate, and filled with awareness….I am aware of an intermediary field which contains us one and all, to hold our ‘signature’ so that we, as emotional beings, continue to add our stamp of personality to this unsuspected world within space. Perhaps one day this area within space and time will reveal itself to the scientific mind.’ – Eileen Garrett.

But we don’t need to be mystics or mediums to perceive the psyche’s content.

Our path is specific to our being. In this way we come to know that we are not gods, move beyond our narcissistic hubris, and develop a reciprocal relationship with the sacred, that allows us more openness, more tolerance for chaos and uncertainty. It allows us to experience the Mysterium Tremendum with greater surrender to our inherent necessities and fate. We may not know where we are going but we can learn to trust the instinctive process to get us just where we need to be to come face-to-face with ourselves — strengths and foibles.

Ancient and modern saints, philosophers, and mystics have repeated the injunction for self-knowledge as the most important and most difficult thing we can do. Goleman suggests in Emotional Intelligence, that “The purpose of developing Emotional Self-Awareness is that it allows us to understand how our bodily sensations and our emotions impact ourselves, others, and our environment.”

“…you find your genius by looking in the mirror of your life. Your visible image shows your inner truth, so when you’re estimating others, what you see is what you get. It therefore becomes critically important to see generously, or you will get only what you see; to see sharply, so that you discern the mix of traits rather than a generalized lump; and to see deeply into dark shadows, or else you will be deceived.”
― James Hillman, The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling

Though the Pythia is known for the saying, it likely is far more ancient, appearing in Pythagorean and Egyptian forms, To de Lubicz, Luxor was a kind of living organism, a colossal compendium of esoteric truth, whose every detail, from its total design down to its very materials, voiced one central revelation: that Conscious Man was the goal of cosmic evolution.

The Mysteries of the unconscious underlie and inform our self-awareness. The outer is the inner, and the inner is the outer. Lived reality is only experienced reality and is always transformed before it is experienced. The eternal drama of suffering and life on earth culminates in the opening of the heart, in compassion, and understanding for self, others, and cosmos. Self-knowledge comes out of tragedy and tribulation.

We all have our own path to collecting wisdom, especially on the path of the lone practitioner. There is no right and wrong way, but we are shaped by the path we choose. An approach to the path is a significant and very personal decision. Finding our path is not about judgment but about being true to oneself, not who you want to be. We each walk our path on our own. But we may be surprised to find we learn as  much about the nature of divinity, the imaginal, or the sacred dimension as ourselves, as well as the underlying patterns of human existence and the soul of our collective humanity.

In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell says, ““People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

Trying to turn oneself into a ‘spiritual persona’ is simply swapping a false ego perspective for a social mask, a rookie mistake of outward display of inner emptiness. A pleasure of such work is that it is never complete. We can always return to it for enrichment and refuge, despite whatever conditions we find ourselves in. We become more and more fluid in our choices within the field of possibilities. We learn to practice presence, sit in silence, and face our fears and pain.

Process is a way of doing, not what is being done. A process-oriented path emphasizes awareness of internal experience over external striving while emphasizing a connection with the sacred. This natural means of self-initiation demands self-honesty, self-responsibility and an overarching desire to live life as a spiritual path. Our search for the Beloved soul is the fire that fuels our journey. A world with soul, Anima Mundi, becomes intimate as we participate whole-heartedly with it reflecting our co-belonging, whether we see the world as artifact or drama.

By altering our own consciousness, we alter our relation to the universe, and this changes our world. We can discover our deeper nature as a multidimensional synthesis of subjective/objective, qualitative/quantitative, mind/matter, wave/particle. This worldview unites spirit and matter. Uniting physics with psychological and spiritual knowledge yields wisdom and gnosis.

Metaphors are instructive, symbolic bridges. They are a Way of leaping the chasm between old and new knowledge, old and new ways of essential being. Moving beyond conditioned self-images and roles, we can tap the source of creativity, healing and holistic restructuring through imagination and metaphor. They can be deeply transformative — more than mere language. They are a technology for changing our behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs — our spirit and soul. Instead of interpretations, we focus on (spoken, mirrored, visual, and multisensory) images, felt-sense, and perceptions.

We are assaulted by diverse and contentious worldviews. Jung’s notions of a heroic, striving Self have been transcended with imaginal, nonlinear, nonlocal models of consciousness, archetypes as strange attractors and metanarratives as healing fictions. New theories in astrophysics, quantum physics and depth psychology supersede the old, recontextualizing life in the 21st century, The relative and the Absolute are entangled.

Absolute space is the womb of creation and the physics of virtual photon fluctuation (undifferentiated potential) reflects not only Nature, but our nature. Spiritual traditions have spoken about emanation within the Divine and Illumination since the dawn of human history. But only now are we learning just how literal that experience of Light is, and the interactive mechanisms it engages in our holistic psychophysical Being. http://www.sci-techuniverse.com/…/why-does-universe-exist-p…

The Seekers

The philosophical antidote to soul-loss, to crushing existential dread remains a viable conscious or unconscious response to more and more grotesque horrors emerging from the slack maw of our present reality. Our challenge is a constant stream of existential threats orchestrated by the powers that be, endless accounts of grotesque horrors, trauma, abuse and harassment, and the mind-bending futureshock of an apocalyptic technological whirlwind.

Culture is going through a collective breakdown in terms of values. When our culture is wounded, the soul of the world is wounded. Our struggle is to connect with the soul of the world. The arts are essential to the health of a culture. Nothing happens when we are estranged from art, the theater, music and dance that no longer work within the context of soul in the culture. Then a culture becomes decadent, and starts to rot from the inside. The only way of finding out what our values are is to turn within and go inside to differentiate ourselves from one-sided collectivisms.

Ours is the myth of self-search. Mythological and archetypal perspectives take us into deeper dimensions. Myths are worldviews with multiple meanings —ways of seeing the world. Mythology is a way of seeing how we see or understand what we see. Understanding myth is a means of seeing through the stories that both shape and distort our experience of ourselves and others.

Mythology has both creative and deconstructive power. Mythology is a deeper ocean of being, providing a mythic perspective on our current situation. Finding meaning leads into mythology. Mythic thinking helps us frame “what is comprehensible.” Mythology describes four dimensions of our existence:

  • The transcendent mystery of life that cannot be expressed adequately in language.
  • An cosmological image of the universe that is our environmental habitat.
  • The psychosocial context or matrix that scripts and encodes our roles and relationships.
  • The inner story that gives our personal lives purpose, coherence, and meaning.

 The veil has lifted on the thin veneer of civilization in  “collapse renewal”.  We can be overwhelmed with waves of cultural chaos, violence, and animosity. We need to stay connected to depth of soul and our dreams for a better world. Long ago Homer said, “So they decreed the gods. That, in getting lost, everyone can find themselves.”

Tension, catastrophe, and overwhelming disturbance can occur without warning– disturbing waves of chaos, violence, and and animosity. We need to connect to the depth of the soul, the values of our instincts. our own value, and to reconnect with the deep self  and the dream of our lives. W each make a unique contribution, perhaps not by saving the world, but becoming more of who we are. Beauty, wisdom, and grace may be the only antidotes for despair.

Even despair finally tranforms at the creative edge edge of chaotic self-organization. Those who have experienced the “edge,” have a keener sense of what really matters, and a much sharper sense of what a healthy society might look like, Chaos  theory provides a philosophical basis for exploring the relationship of  psyche and matter since they share a common dynamics. It allows us to  formulate a theory of consciousness and healing based on an organic  model of transformation, rather than a mechanistic or cybernetic  process, as other contemporary theories.

We ignore these unconscious forces and felt-sense at our peril. From relationship to imagination, the search for identity, depth, and artistic expression remain the core of the psycho-physical process which each traveler unpacks in their own unique way. We experience life more consciously and fully  as both a psychological entity and as a soul.  Jung called it a process of ‘coming to wholeness,’ of integrating body, mind,, and spirit. As searchers, researchers, and visionaries, we might be characterized as ‘seekers.’ Our real home is within ourselves.

Psyche means soul, and the psychic process is the core of our existential and imaginal being. This domain extends from the abyss of the primordial unconscious, to psycho-physical phenomena, to the spiritual heights. We learn how to ‘see through’ the literal and concrete to the expansive metaphorical and transpersonal dimensions of nature and our own nature. We participate in dialogues that translate into a deeper narrative of our lives and their meaning.

Understanding & Engagement

Our connection to the unconscious provides spiritual sustenance. We cannot describe the objective or autonomous psyche, We can only describe how we experience  sacred phenomena. This experience of the sacred or the holy is “numinous.” It comes over us as something that is mysterious, tremendous, or fascinating. It has a powerful emotional quality of a much deeper and more essential level of creation, beyond the ordinary or mundane. All we have to do is recognize a certain quality in the experience, whether in dreams, imagination, or the natural world.

Traditional and nontraditional experiences of the sacred originate deeply in our own subjectivity, and not in some transcendent realm. They carry the intense emotional quality of something extraordinary, dreadful, and amazing. Visions or synchronicities are like waking dreams, uncanny but also with their own reality. The psyche is instinctively predisposed to an innate, organic wish to connect with something spiritual, something beyond the ordinary, Revelation is continuing all the time if we know how to look.

Without this internal compass, the alienated ego rejects both spirit and matter, body, and mystical awareness. Our particular genius is the spirit that is already within us. Turning toward the center heralds a return to healing, transformation, and rejuvenation as we traverse the labyrinth or razor’s edge of life. It is a metamorphosis through direct experience with the sacred dimension of life and being.

The transformative process happens to all of us in the course of our lives, largely in dreams, symptoms, and imagination. Metanarrative and sacred experience is an emotionally powerful universal healing Meta-Syn even creating a tremendous shift in childhood and core issues or mending our ancestral web.

Simone Weil said, “The false God changes suffering into violence. The true God changes violence into suffering.” Our God-image may be based on our own sense of connection to the objective psyche, to the bigger Self, to something that we don’t understand nor are able to envision.

Because we can’t intentionally create these kind of experiences, they appear as grace, especially if trauma has damaged our capacity to feel. They can  occur when we suffer intensely because the veil or the barrier between the ego, the everyday consciousness and the transpersonal domain of consciousness, is thinner. The more religious even suggest intentional ‘living in the image of God.’

We can find inspiration in culture-heroes, but ultimately must make our own way through the ‘dark forest’, like the Grail Knights. Krishnamurti said, “I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.” (The Dissolution of the Order of the Star, 1929). As Einstein remarked, “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.”

As Baudelaire suggests, symbolism and ‘correspondences’ help us “Extract the eternal from the ephemeral.” Generic symbolic languages such as esoterics, alchemy, and Qabalah articulate the phenomenology of inner experience. They help us wake up and grow up.

Our deeply human experience of awe spans from “awful” to the “awesome” and all ambiguous spaces between. including technology, storytelling, the narrative arc, and the evolutionary, even empathetic value of having our minds blown by direct experience of expansive knowledge.  We can all get such concepts conceptually, but experience makes them real.”

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Self-Exploration 5 – Mystery

•January 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Learning from Mystery

Soul is a primary experience of embodied subjectivity. Soul lives on images and metaphor that are the basis of consciousness. Psyche is fundamentally associative, a combination of physical nature and transcendent spirit. The inherent self-mirroring function of the psyche is prelinguistic and postlinguistic.

The soul in depth psychology is imagination, fantasy, and creativity which is always in the process of becoming  — images forming, and dissolving, and forming anew. Imagination is the essence of the life forces, both physical and psychic. These fantasies always permeate our beliefs, ideas, emotions, and physical nature. The world needs our imagining, not our escape into literalism. Often, knowing means realizing and admitting that we don’t know.

The world needs our participation, because how we image things makes all the difference in the world. It is not what we know, but a Way of Knowing even in Unknowing. An intuitive way of knowing ourselves is the ability to see through the world perceived by the senses to deeper knowledge of the structure of reality — the field-like dimensionality of psyche — a sensitivity to multidimensionality. Our archetypal method discovers root metaphors and operational myths.

Psyche is a complex network of associations among unconscious contents. “The rational mind is incapable of deciding what is best for the soul. The mind can discover what is needed only by listening to and reflecting upon the subtle movement of the soul as it expresses itself in bodily sensations, feelings, emotions, images, ideas, and dreams,” says Robert M. Stein in Body and Psyche.

In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore contends that “it is impossible to define precisely what the soul is. Definition is an intellectual enterprise anyway; the soul prefers to imagine…. Soul lies midway between understanding and unconsciousness… its instrument is neither the mind nor the body, but imagination” (p. xiii). He also believes soul “is not a thing, but a quality or a dimension of experiencing life and ourselves. It has to do with depth, value, relatedness, heart, and personal substance” (p. 5).

Moore continues, “If we deprive sacred stories of their mystery, we are left with the brittle shell of fact, the literalism of single meaning. We tend to view phenomena literally rather than metaphorically. We are literally inundated with the world pouring through every opening and in this awareness we recognize a fundamental truth: we are of the earth.” Hillman suggested we can “see through” our personal history to its archetypal image, dissolving the literalisms that constitute empirical reality.

“The difference between psychology and religion boils down to the same as between psychology and science: literalism. Theology takes Gods literally and we do not… In archetypal psychology Gods are imagined… They are formulated ambiguously, as metaphors for modes of experience and as numinous borderline persons.” Hillman  (RVP:169)

Literalism is a rigidity of perceptual stance. Absolute surety in our inner experience has little or nothing to do with its outer truth. Makingthe symbolic concrete is a mistake. Taking fantasies literally confuses the literal and the concrete, emphasizing the self-centeredness of the spiritual point of view. The difference between a bias and a mirror is predictability. Corbin and Hillman emphasized that literalism is one of the chief strategies of the fundamentalist and totalitarian mind. Literalism encourages the uncritical use of power and coercion because it presumes that reality can be known with certainty. Humility, caution and critical self-awareness are essential for a life in tune with imaginal realities.

Insights mean the dissolution of literalism and the reconnection of fantasy (Hillman: 1972: 41-42). Most of us have clarity on the difference between real and imaginary much of the time, but then get totally stuck in literalisms of one kind or another. For example, danger lies not in the death fantasy but in its literalism. The death wish of the soul is metaphorical. Literalism also  means interpreting religious symbols and stories at face value, and accepting them as factual descriptions of the world.

A poetic move away from literalism is an invitation to consider subtler realms beyond. Hillman observes, “The problem with literalism is that it takes itself to be the only valid point of view.” This makes it impossible for literalism to see through itself; to see the inherently metaphorical nature of all forms of knowing. The symptoms of literalism include an arresting or blockage of psychic energy’s flow, the source of fantasy, the fountain of soul.

Literalism is an incessant need to make all things purposeful. Taking fantasies literally confuses the literal and the concrete. Ego’s weapons are rationality, positivistic knowing, causality, literalism, strength, and growth. If truths are the fictions of the rational, our fictions are the truths of the imaginal. Without metaphorical understanding, everything is only what it is and must be met on the simplest, most direct level. We can focus on keeping imaginal pursuit of value and insight free of literalisms.

Direct experience means living in the image and what it represents. If we gulp down images their shallow meanings specify exactly what we should think, feel and believe. Literalism means that the image is explained away: its uroboric, interminable, endlessness is terminated when one understands the image and can thereby end the gaze. But if we do not explain them away in  words, they do not end. Not in time to begin with, the imaginal image is revelatory, nonlinear, discontinuous, inherently significant in itself.

Imagination is its own ground to be valued for its own sake. The concealed and mysterious are as important as the revealed and understood. The science fantasy relies on objectivity, technology, verification, measurement, and progress – in short, its necessary literalism. This is the either/or world, the world of “facts,” and singleness of meaning — one end of a binary opposition, stiffening against paradox, ambiguity, irony — veiling psychic multiplicity.

“Literalism prevents mystery by narrowing the multiple ambiguity of meanings into one definition.” says Hillman. It hardens the heart and hinders our imagination as it encounters the world.   It prevents mystery.  It narrows by making the multiple into one; multiple meanings, multiple definitions, interpretations are reduced into one, monolithic meaning. Literalism abhors the symbolic, the metaphoric, the  “as-if” quality in words, in truth, in experience. Literalism revels in the concrete, the material, the one. Literalism, when taken to its extreme leads to fundamentalisms of all varieties.

Just because we believe something literally, doesn’t mean it is metaphysically real. We may be troubled by historic and contemporary life dominated by literalism and simplistic ideologies. Extremes of literalism, like fundamentalism, are destructive. Literalism deadens psyche with single, simple, solid and stable meanings. Our approach is away from the crushing literalism of modern life toward the reanimation of soul in ourselves and the world — metamorphosizing through metaphor.

The prime expression of beliefs is through  spontaneous imagery. We never experience directly, but interpret our experience of our perceptions through imagery. All our input comes through multi-sensory channels. We never directly perceive ourselves, soul, or God.  We don’t perceive our bodies directly, only our sensory impressions. But we do have first-hand experience of our body-image, soul-image, and God images. That is all we know directly.  The rest is pure speculation. We have to go beyond what is taken for granted.

Depth is a particular trait of soul. Soul is a root symbol or metaphor for heart, life, warmth, humanness, purpose, character. It is a perspective that allows us to see through all of our activities and states. Consciousness is emergent and self-referential, a way of looking back at and transcending ourselves. The true nature of reality is pure potential Consciousness.

Like the archaic Greeks we face an unprecedented time of expansion of inner and outer limits. The anxiety of new possibilities is forced on us whether we wish it or not. The Oracle’s symbolic utterance  means we should know ourselves as souls, not merely egos. This is the soulful approach to self-knowledge. From antiquity, dreams and imagination have been associated with soul. Myth opens culture from its literalism, liberating the mind, revealing the depth of experience.

Myth becomes heroic in the sense that it can release or liberate the mind, the imagination. We recognize the mythic dimension by active, reflective introspection, and connection with archetypal stories. We see through the darkness into images, resemblances, correspondences. We feel, think, or imagine and simultaneously are aware of it. When we don’t have to respond to strong external stimuli, we automatically engage in narrative processes. What mythologems, images and narratives emerge? We often experience emergence as emergency.

Self-consciousness is a primary source of reflexivity in human thought and action. Memory is also self-reflexive as is the physical structure of the body as the biological form of memory. Grief gets trapped in the body. Self-referentiality means something refers to itself. Paradoxes of self-reference can serve as a guidance for consciousness. The living system, and the information processes underlying life consciousness reside at a much deeper, intrinsic level of the universe. All conscious experiences have reference to the self, but we can imagine many selfs, Selfs, or a network of selves.

Research shows no stable center of our functional identity or self-image. A literalism of Self is like a non-existant God absolutely believed in. Our selves are dynamic bundles of perceptions, sensations, desires –a sense-opening odyssey. We can obliterate it, philosophically, conceptually and chemically. Valuing one literal identity over another prevents us from seeing through the images we construct.

Such literalism does not promote healing, according to James Hillman. Consciousness can raise doubts about identity, but only direct experience can confirm it. When hidden assumptions are made explicit something very astounding may be revealed. Questioning about consciousness or self is radically self-referential as an act of consciousness.

A natural state, “shamanic trance” is at the core of religion. Consciousness naturally achieves a profound level of inner awareness. Myths are esoteric descriptions of psychophysical phenomena during trance in the human body. Knowing and understanding are passed on codified in myths. The intuitive mind has its own ways of plumbing the truth. As the oracle suggests, we find peace and equilibrium only through self-knowledge, the spontaneous image-making of the soul.

Hillman says it comes from holding ourselves up to the mirror of mythological situations which help us to understand and not live blindly. “If you know which mythical pattern, which archetypal drama, is being enacted in your dilemma you are already on the road to relief.” (James Hillman, 2008, Aphrodite’s justice, p. 32, Edizioni La Conchiglia). When we tune to the depths, our nightly dreams may reveal hidden oracles, though metaphorical and symbolic, rather than literal. Dreams have just as much to do with our death as life. They are complete in and speak for themselves.

Soul is the bridge that leads us across the river between the trees, both in the mud and in quicksand, making what is known more and more unknown. The deeper we come from the, the more the consciousness becomes opaque. So, in order to be able to follow it, we must like, explicitly stating that understanding is moving from what is known to what is unknown, in a epistemology based on the motto ‘ Ignotum for ignotius’…. Soul obfuscates, produces puzzles puzzles, prefers Esoteric and occult, where she can stay hidden: she wants uncertainty at all costs. Stripping everything that is known from its solid ground, brings every problem into deeper waters; and this is also a way of making a soul. The deeper we follow soul, the more amazing becomes the conscience .” James Hillman, soul, p. 171)

Our own oracle or spiritual guidance lies in the depths beyond the threshold of our inner temple and holds the deepest secrets of our individuality and fate. The injunction is an invitation to enter the world of soul, of psyche. Life as we know it is full of desire, passion, pathos, complexity, and paradox. This is the knowledge of experience that defies concepts and beliefs, a pathos that pines for the impossible in the face of the absolutely necessary.

Desire is not enough: in reality, the ignorant desire disappoints itself or is consumed and extinguished, because desire is fulfilled, because Opus reaches its fruit – in Art, in love, in any process – learn everything possible on his Fire: its splendor, its flickering instability, its heat and its fury … […] Mastering the art of fire and possessing the key to alchemy means learning to warm up, excite, to light, to inspire the material we are working on, which is also the state of our nature, in order to activate it to move on to a further state. ” James Hillman

Interiorizing Vision

Confusion, symptoms, pathos, and complexes are the very things that connect us to soul, to core self-knowledge. Hillman called pathos, “the spiritual component of love or the erotic component of spirit,” and considered it “the longing towards the unattainable, the ungraspable, the incomprehensible.” Pathos cannot be separated from soul. It is the emotional speech of our suffering soul — the soul’s suffering of meaning. Archetypal suffering is our experience of being buffeted by fate. Gravitas is the weight that holds us down to the world.

We all are wounded and suffering is universal. We are excruciatingly sensitized to what we perceive beyond our ordinary senses. It breaks open our hearts to self-compassion and the mythic dimension. Universal knowledge is a natural function of consciousness. From the field of potentiality, we can all access a wordless knowing awareness of different potential ways of expressing ourselves. In a fugue of meaning, our self-critical faculty is checked; we may lose perspective.

Pathos is the quality or power in an actual life experience or in expressive arts. Art provides unique access to interior life. It becomes a conduit to intimate self-knowledge and knowledge of others, accessing meta-verbal ways of knowing. Pathos is our passion of the moment – personal, political, spiritual, emotional, moral, relational or intellectual. Pathos refers to arousing the emotional responses to what we encounter in our environment. We can’t stop our intrinsic instinctual or visceral emotional responses anymore than we can voluntarily stop our heartbeat or breathing.

We hide ourselves in the joys and horrors of experience, in the borderlands of time between the eternities, in pathos, obligations, and reverence, in the necessary polarity of opposites of paradoxical experience, in the deepest desires of our hearts. The truth of our pathos is that we can never know what lies beyond. Pathos is the human keynote of both ancient and therapeutic gnosticism: the desperate longing for escape, for final liberation, for a return to the God beyond.

Our own transcendent mystery of human existence is solved or dissolved in naked awareness. In the face of tragedy, the sadness of the soul shapes us into a larger sense of what life is all about. When we feel abandoned, perhaps even annihilated, we recognize levels deeper than our pain. We can experience the entry of the gods and the ennobling of the self. Thus, in high tragedy pathos is a divine process working in the human soul.

We question natural process itself about the underlying nature of ultimate reality. We are immersed in the sweetness and pleasure born of the soul beyond the suffering, even in self-transcending experience — thrilled with the joy of life and death — the seal of the promise of eternal love as the instantaneous transformation of One to None.

A passion for the spiritual, like all passions, can veer toward pathos, fundamentalism, and fanaticism alienating of other parts of the Self. Individuatiion is becoming the innate personality potential from the beginning of our life. The goal of individuation, unlike that of the religious quest, is not union with the divine or salvation but rather integration and wholeness, the forging of the opposites inherent in the Self into an image of unity and integrating this into consciousness.

There are many ways to enter the path. The popularity of genealogy and genetics has opened the field of Transgenerational Integration. This is an invitation to travel, but an inner journey to self-exploration, to make a return to our roots. Our ancestors become substantive  possessors of a set of knowledge, experiences and secrets that come from far away, deep in our roots. Transgenerational integration is a road to self knowledge of our origins, complexes, psychosocial, cultural and spiritual issues.

Ours is a search for clarity. To be engaged with the psyche, inevitably means to be engaged with our ancestors. Genealogy is a reflexive discipline. Your family tree opens a vast inner realm of ancient, living symbols — your ancestors. We yearn toward eternity, longing for connection. What kinds of things actually exist?

Meta-questions include: What is existence? and What is the nature of existence?  We ask, “What is the nature of the universe?” or “Is there a god?” or “What happens to us when we die?” or “What principles govern the properties of matter?” The entangled nature of quantum entities provides a plausible theory for how our ancestors might ‘appear’ in our own very material psychophysiology.

Death makes life possible. Facing mortality inspires us to live more fully. Perhaps we learn to live from the dead and dying. Burial rites are among the oldest ceremonies of mankind. Consciousness arises at the beginning of life and sinks back into the cosmic maternal womb at death. Unconscious psyche and matter are one. Beauty, mystery, and healing potential are related.
Experience of Death in symbolic or metaphorical dying  is experience of Rebirth or the Philosophical Resurrection. Rebirth is synonymous with restoring the true history of our origins and integrating our transgenerational inheritance, somewhere between the loss of what we thought we knew and true self-knowledge.

The soul generates images unceasingly. The soul lives on images and metaphor, especially epistemological metaphors–how we know what we know. They help us probe our deepest fears, pain, and suffering. These images form the basis of our consciousness. All we can know comes through images, through our multi-sensory perceptions. So, this soul always stays close to the body, close to corporeality, to what “matters.”

For me, mythology is a function of biology… a product of the imagination of soma. What does our body say? And what is our body telling us? The human imagination is rooted in the energies of the body. And the bodies of the body are the determinants of these energies and conflicts between the impulse systems of organs and their harmonisation. These are the realities of the myth “. (Stanley Keleman, Myth and the Body. A colloquy with Joseph Campbell, Center Press, Berkeley, 1999, pp.10).

All knowledge has gaps, and our self-knowledge is no exception. Climbing our family tree helps us fill in some of those gaps with myth, symbol, history, and immediate experiences of the power of presence and healing transformation. An occurrence can appear and be understood as a material event or a psychological experience, depending on our attitude, faith, and worldview Some may explore through the expressive arts, travel, pilgrimage or exploring nature, The Feminine, meditation, gnosticism, or other self-initiated, self-reflexive paths. Almost any activity can be done with soul in mind and heartfelt spirit.

We don’t have to come to any particular conclusions, as Hillman points out: “So the wandering path also follows Plato and Plotinus, which describe the path of the soul as circular. Psychological reasoning tends to be circular, it thrives on repetition compulsion and cyclic returns over the same insoluble themes. If his knowledge proceeds through error, error does not mean rectification of mistakes and improvement, but learning through what is deviant, bizarre, odd, displaced in itself…

“The wandering path certainly leads to the less known and the less certain, to a lesser knowledge as founded, accumulated in security. It comes to dissolve the known in doubt, in the freedom of uncertainty. Does not it say that knowledge makes us free? Knowledge allows us to abandon it on the way, to turn down the path of traps, in complete foolishness, risking windmills even larger and farther, old knight increasingly daring, old rascal more and more weird….” (Re-Visioning Psychology, p.280)

Intrinsic Awareness

We intuitively know what it means to have a self and an inner life. Interiority invites us deeper into the world and the continuous flow of life. In the depth approach, our life is psychological, and the purpose of life is to make psyche of it, and find waking and dream connections between life, soul, and cosmos. Intuitive spiritual knowledge includes the ability to see through the world perceived by the senses.

Cicero noticed that the injunction to ‘Know Thyself’ was followed by the command, ‘Know Thy Soul’, or ‘know oneself’ completely. Otto Rank said, “The new meaning of soul is creativity and mysticism.”

Why creativity?

“The unconscious itself is neither tricky nor evil – it is Nature, both beautiful and terrible. . . . The best way of dealing with the unconscious is the creative way. . .”  Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 108-109.

The unconscious plays a major role in our lives, prior to conscious decision making and insight. The creative source we tap into is the creative source of all being — an essence that also guides the body. Creative insights are related to conscious and unconscious processes — the creative and vital currents of life. Ancient and modern wisdom describe the subconscious as a muse, a wellspring of creativity, vitality, growth, and resolution of opposites. Sometimes, its function is lost, repressed, or unrealized.

Unconscious thinking is an active process which plays a key role in the generation of creative ideas and solutions. Jung described our creative unconscious as the sum total of all of the knowledge and wisdom accumulating in our psyches since the beginning of evolution. It guides us to realize, the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual stages of our development from the transgenerational past.

Order emerges from the murky depths of the unconscious. Research on unconscious thought suggests that it may be most effective in incubation, the divergent phase of creative thought, and breakthroughs. During an incubation period unconscious processes contribute to creative thinking often resulting in creative problem solving, especially if we have been stuck. The unconscious mind can knit together seemingly unrelated threads into insights and ideas — ‘Eureka’ moments we can use right away.

This is the same intelligence that created myths, legends, and great archetypal stories. Metaphors transform imagination into multisensory images. Sometimes breakthroughs, even in music and science, arise in dreams, intuition, or fantasy thought-experiments. Producing groundbreaking discoveries or great artistic creations still requires a plethora of connected raw materials; we have to be able to focus on some options out of an associated array. In an instant, impasse can give way to revelations of unforeseen completeness.

As Jung informs us, “Naturally a new meaning does not come ready-made out of the unconscious, like Pallas Athene springing fully-armed from the head of Zeus; a living effect is achieved only when the products of the unconscious are brought into serious relationship with the conscious mind.” (CW 4, Para 760)

Why mysticism?

Plotinus: “The way to truth was the journey of a lonely person to that which is eternally alone.”

Mystics, saints, and philosophers of all eras have much the same message. Mysticism is self-transformation through self-knowledge. Nondual traditions have applied various terms to the experience of self-knowledge, or witness consciousness. Seeing ourselves as energy that remains invariant, infuses a felt-sense of constancy in us as experiencers of that energy. What is valuable is often hidden from the conscious point of view. We must seek the secret treasure which will be revealed fully only at some future moment of utter self-knowledge.


Paracelsus explained: “The knowledge to which we are entitled is not confined within the limits of our own country, and does not run after us, but waits until we go in search of it. No one becomes a master of practical experience in his own house, neither will he find a teacher of the secrets of Nature in the corners of his room. We must seek for knowledge where we may expect to find it, and why should the man be despised who goes in search for it?

Jesus, Hermes Trismegistus, Moses, St. Augustine, Homer, King Solomon, the Buddha Shakyamuni, Padmasambhava, Mohammed, Eliphas Levi, H.P. Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner, Swami Shivananda, Nicolas Flamel, Basil Valentine, Paracelsus, Dion Fortunem, and others, all recommended self-knowledge, experiential knowledge.

Nondual traditions have applied various terms to the experience of self-knowledge, or witness consciousness. Seeing ourselves as energy that remains invariant, infuses a felt-sense of constancy in us as experiencers of that energy. But our aim in our own self-exploration doesn’t have to be as lofty as illumination. Revelations are valuable at all levels of reflection.

Alan Watts portentously said, “Inability to accept the mystic experience is an intellectual handicap. Lack of awareness of the basic unity of organism and environment is a serious and dangerous hallucination. For in a civilization equipped with immense technological power, the sense of alienation between man and nature leads to the use of technology in a hostile spirit – to the ‘conquest’ of nature instead of intelligent co-operation with nature.”

In The Meno, Socrates said, “I would not be confident in everything I say about the argument: but one thing I would fight for to the end, both in word and in deed if I were able—that if we believe we should try to find out what is not known, we should be better and braver and less idle than if we believed that what we do not know is impossible to find out and that we need not even try.”

Rumi wisely notes, “man is what his eye covers. He is essentially vision, and the rest is just flesh and skin. The mirror that hides facial defects to respect a person’s feelings is not a mirror; it is hypocritical. As long as you can, don’t look for such a mirror! You’re not a body, you’re the eye of the spirit. If you’ve contemplated the spirit, you’re free from the body. Anyone who is free from ego is all ego; when he no longer loves himself he is loved by all. When a mirror is devoid of images it reaches its splendor, since then it reflects all images.


To locate a thing you need space, to place an event you need time; but the Timeless and Spaceless defies handling. It makes everything perceivable, yet itself is beyond perception. The mind cannot know what is beyond the mind, but the mind is known by what is beyond it,” says Nisargadatta Maharaj.

One day man will be awakened from oblivion and finally will understand who he really is and who has surrendered the reins of his existence to a false, lying mind that makes him and keeps him slave … He has limits and when one day he realizes it, he will be free even here in this world,” says Giordano Bruno, quoted in Giuliana Conforto, the future science of Giordano Bruno and the birth of the new man, noesis and macro, 2001.

Thomas Moore says, “We know intuitively that soul has to do with genuineness and depth, as when we say certain music has soul or a remarkable person is soulful… Soul is revealed in attachment, love, and community, as well as in retreat on behalf of inner communing and intimacy.” (Care of the Soul, xi-xii)

In The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, “The soul answered and said, ‘I saw you. You did not see me nor recognize me. I served you as a garment, and you did not know me.’ When it had said this, it went away rejoicing greatly.” … “And the soul said, ‘why do you judge me although I have not judged? I was bound though I have not bound. I was not recognized. But I have recognized that the All is being dissolved, both the earthly (things) and the heavenly.” James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library, revised edition. HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990.

We can find inspiration in culture-heroes, but ultimately must make our own way through the ‘dark forest’, like the Grail Knights. Krishnamurti declared, “I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.” (The Dissolution of the Order of the Star, 1929). As Einstein remarked, “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.


Eliphas Levi describes how, “Imagination is actually as the eye of the soul, and it is therein that forms are delineated and preserved, by its means we behold the reflections of the invisible world. It is the mirror of vision and the apparatus of magical life…for the sage, to imagine is to see, as for the magician to speak, is to create.” He also says, “Man is himself the creator of his heaven or hell, and there are no demons except his own follies.


In Alchemical Active Imagination, M.-L. von Franz states, “True knowledge of oneself is the knowledge of the objective psyche as it manifests in dreams and in the manifestations of the unconscious.  Only by looking at dreams, for instance, can one see who one truly is; they tell us who we really are, that is something which is objectively there.  To meditate on that is an effort towards self-knowledge, because that is scientific and objective and not in the interest of the ego but in the interest of “what I am” objectively.  It is knowledge of the Self, of the wider, objective personality.

As Professor Wolfgang Pauli noted, “We should now proceed to find a neutral, or unitarian, language in which every concept we use is applicable as well to the unconscious as to matter, in order to overcome this wrong view that the unconscious psyche and matter are two things.”

Baudelaire suggests, symbolism and ‘correspondences’ help us “Extract the eternal from the ephemeral.” Generic symbolic languages such as esoterics, alchemy, and Qabalah articulate the phenomenology of inner experience. They help us wake up and grow up.

There is a memory of Nature that reveals events and symbols of distant ages. The mystics of different countries have spoken of this Memory in several centuries … […] William Blake calls his images” the sculptures of the Sala de Los “And states that all events,” all love stories, “draw on their renewal,” notes William Butler Yeats  in Anima Mundi.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is succinct: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Wiliam James notes, “One conclusion was forced upon my mind at that time, and my impressions of its truth has ever remained unshaken. It is that our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the finest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness quite different… No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded…

As Manly P. Hall suggested, “Symbolism is the language of the Mysteries. By symbols men have ever sought to communicate to each other those thoughts which transcend the limitations of language.

Joseph Campbell summarizes, “What is it we are questing for? It is the fulfillment of that which is potential in each of us. Questing for it is not an ego trip; it is an adventure to bring into fulfillment your gift to the world, which is yourself. There is nothing you can do that’s more important than being fulfilled. You become a sign, you become a signal, transparent to transcendence; in this way you will find, live, become a realization of your own personal myth.”

Jung’s basic ideas about the unity of knowledge and existence are in principle synonymous with the Platonic tradition, alchemy, Qabala and Gnosticism. Plato treated the end product of the evolution of mathematical concepts, (a fixed system of idealized objects), as an independent beginning point of the evolution of the “world of things.” This concrete form of philosophy was determined by the nature of Greek mathematics.

These philosophies seek to reconcile the actual condition with a hypothetical distant ideal, which expansively incorporates both personal and universal dimensions. It is an inward-oriented epistemology. By intuitive perception we can consciously reiterate the laws of Nature and mind which are equivalent to the archetypes themselves.___________________________________________________________________________________________

Jung told us in Two Essays, “…we are not concerned here with a philosophical, much less a religious, concept of the soul, but with the psychological recognition of the existence of a semiconscious  psychic complex, having partial autonomy of function, [anima].” Psychological soul-making is recognizing and giving psychic elements an expressive voice — the metaphorical inner voice of the human psychological condition. An ensouled life is a deeper, wider, and fuller life, aware of symbolic depth.

We tend to seek from the world what is already in us — a soul-centered view, the symbolic activation of feeling-charged images, moods, and emotions within the undeveloped inherited part of our human psyche. Such a vision quest includes calling, purpose, life-themes, presence, and authenticity — the unknown as it immediately effects us. Its core is the vital reciprocal relationship of conscious and unconscious. Such knowledge comes from understanding the soul. Knowing ‘for’ ourselves, means direct experience, rather than a concept or instinct.

Psyche is our imaginal soul which flows mainly through images and dialogues in reveries, fantasies, reflections, and imagination. These are inner directives that bring us to a state of ‘awareness’ of our complex individuality and our unique individuality as a whole person. The true self underlies the ego as the eternal One. Breaking the bonds of ordinary life, the riddle of the self and our own nature remains our biggest puzzle.

An archetypal feeling of emptiness may be the reason we want to find ourselves. Talking about it is an expression of loss, desperation, insecurity, and a collective depression. This insecurity makes us upset. We live in conditioned trance states of hypnotic self-talk, roles, and automatic responses that take the place of an authentic life.

But what has been forgotten or ignored in ordinary life  can be retrieved as another kind of memory or gnosis, precisely from the place of seeming emptiness. We already have an ordinary framework of honesty about our physical, psychological, behavioral, and spiritual condition — our worldview and beliefs, relationships, and capabilities.

The myths we enter most deeply choose us. We do not know exactly what archetypes are going to seize us. Collective archetypes are impersonal and don’t care about our personalities or real needs in life. We feel helpless in these situations. We face the daemonic grandeur of archetypes and their creepy destructiveness. It is extremely difficult, and it scares us deeply, to think about looking archetypes in the eye.

We fear losing ourselves in both the dark and the light. Indelible archetypal memory cannot be erased. Our whole lives revolve around relationships, and the one we have with the autonomous functions of the collective unconscious is crucial to our well-being and wholeness. Our movement in depth maps our psychophysical space. Soul compensates too much escapist spirt by going into history, ancestry, into the valleys where shadows are cast and languish in the unconscious. We learn to work with our wounds in ways that bring imagination and creativity to our suffering, symptoms, and pain.

We are that one point of experience in the emptiness that becomes the whole Tree of Life in the infinite vastness. Our one point of view emanates from the clear Light, from Oneness, unity. We see objective reality by the light of our true nature, the heart of experience.

Hillman cautions that, “The soul loses its psychological vision in the abstract literalisms of the spirit as well as in the concrete literalisms of the body.” The doorway of imaginal perception leads from the mind through the stream of consciousness to the experience of objective reality and primordial awareness.

Now is an eternal moment that unfolds all time. Now is the horizon of time that is eternal, the center of all experience, Outside the sphere of illusion Nothing is happening in the eternal now, or ever will in absolute space. This is remembrance and reflection. Now becomes the primary focus of our lives.

As Eckhart Tolle says, “If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences.

Krishnamurti cautions against a transcendental escapist approach, “Now, why are you seeking the ultimate certainty, that reality which you hope will give you happiness, explain the cruelty and the suffering of man? What is the cause of your search? …Finding yourself in misery, in great emptiness, despair, you begin to seek a way out, an escape. This escape is called the search for reality, truth, or by whatever name you like to give to it.”

Our solitary journey is an expedition into the deep inner world of the personal and collective psyche. Our exhausted consciousness is forced toward the unconscious. The unconscious includes everything within us that is outside of our conscious awareness—everything we don’t know or can’t observe within ourselves. It begins simply by looking inside, at what is interior, both felt and imagined. The path opens a new route to our “Truth” or myth in this form of an inner journey.

Power and mystery are within our inner experience, psyche’s inner world. The invisible becomes visible, matter is spiritualized, and the spiritual materializes in dreams, synchronicities, visions, and our psychophysical being. A tension between  interiority  and  exteriority, psyche and its grounding in events and relations to others is a dimension within interiority itself. We can imagine that a real understanding presupposes a kind of love, out inspired or abandoned passion for our own subjectivity.

Self-knowledge should not be treated as a social industry that can be learned in books, or weekend workshops and retreats. It is a process of lifelong learning and deep transformative experience. Much depends on the quality of approach. It’s about relationship as a bridge between fullness and emptiness, the finite and the infinite, between us and the world, between the world and us. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery suggests, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

Depth psychology provides a coherent and cohesive framework for understanding and relating to unconscious phenomena and psychic contents. The subconscious is a vast territory of dark forces which affect our lives and the integration of opposites within the psyche: feminine/masculine; conscious/unconscious; divine/human — drawing upon a previously untapped reservoir of inner wisdom.

“An image becomes not what we see, but the way we see it.  Imagination can therefore be defined more closely as the subtle sensing of the prepositional relations among events – dynamic connectivity, or complexity. We experience fantasies as part of our conscious life.  The unconscious is simply “unawareness of the all-pervasive presence of the imaginal in our so-called conscious life…The numinosity of the unconscious is due solely to its radically imaginal character which must remain invisible to our day-light consciousness.” (Hillman)

Imagination is the realm of sacred psychology, which approaches the gods through imagining and personifying, rather than through explicit ritual, prayer, and sacrifice of a religious orientation. Likewise, the artist relies on the former process for inspiration. Imagination is the primary reality, with its own non-verbal logic. Naomi Goldenberg, (213-4) says, “The task then becomes one of awareness of soul through its own expressions – through its language of metaphor. Once imagination is recognized as the realm of soul, we need imaginal inroads.”

To enter the archetypal region itself, a transcendent or visionary imagination is required. Through visionary imagination we come to know archetypes in dynamic interaction in every aspect of our lives and perceptions. They condition all our experience on an a priori basis.  We don’t see them, but see through them.  They are the means, not the objects, verbs rather than nouns, dynamic not static, primordial not secondary constructions.

Archetypal imagining, the phenomena of our interiority, is a discipline of consciousness, which is first visionary, and second provides an orientation in the inner world, in the mindscape.  The visionary state is heightened awareness, a form of attentional shift from the mundane toward the more fundamental dreamworld, which undergirds it.

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Quest for Wholeness

It is a necessary journey of self-exploration into our own unconscious and unrealized potential, soul’s journey from the material world towards its source. We can intentionally build a soulful relationship between our conscious and unconscious being. In Jung’s view, ego represents the conscious mind comprised of thoughts, memories, and emotions we are aware of. The ego is largely responsible for feelings of identity and continuity. But it has blind-spots, denial, and projections.

Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end – you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.” “There is no end to self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is only from moment to moment, and therefore there is a creative happiness from moment to moment.” New Delhi India 1st Public Talk (14 November 1948)
James Hillman states our foundational condition in strong terms: “Each of us exists not as a material object but as an image. We are complex images given by the vocation of our soul that preceded our birth and all the dreams, missions and voices of our ancestors. …We are images, not imaginations, but powerful images that are echoes of original or primordial images that belong to the time of origin and have produced in a legendary place: Olympus, mount Meru, Mount Popa, the home of the gods. ….We could say that our lives are the memory, the echo of those primordial images. Such images of origin can be defined as eidola, i.e. idols.  We can only do in time what the gods do In eternity.”  (The Vain Escape from the Gods)

In knowing ourselves we also encounter the sacred dimension and come to know God, however such numinous experiences appear, Jung noted we never directly can know God, only the god-image in the psyche. The experience of the sacred or the holy is “numinous”, mysterious, tremendous, or fascinating, with a powerful emotional quality. Mystical union is a felt-sense of the sacred, divine, or presence of God.
Typical phenomena include unity of opposites (a sense of Oneness, wholeness or completeness); timelessness (a sense that mystical experiences transcend time), and a feeling that we have somehow encountered “the true self” (felt-presence, a sense that mystical experiences reveal the nature of our true, cosmic self: one that is beyond life and death).

It can also initiate a transformative descent into darkness, a Dark Night of the Soul, with despair and alienation.The searching self trembles. Our suppressed darkness is exposed as we struggle to bring light to the darkness. This destruction precedes rebirth and awakening to the truth of the self.  Joseph Campbell says,”The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation. When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed.”

The Dark Night produces spiritual and existential crisis. We feel engulfed in darkness. The spiritual process creates varieties of dark nights, since each one is unique. Crises can follow life-changing events, a natural disaster, berievement, a medical diagnosis, confrontation with mortality, mental or physical pain which can be opportunities for discovering depths of wisdom and awareness.

An unexpected collapse of identity and understanding of life creates depression that changes our worldview. It includes transformation involving deep, profound insights into our spiritual evolution and facing our shadow. General categories include fear, dryness, loss of meaning, desolation without consolation, and trauma of the spirit.

Our conditioned self breaks open. Such transformation is a natural evolutionary process that anyone can access. Trauma comes to the surface to be seen, felt, loved, examined, held in presence, aligned with reality, and healed. We may find that true surrender is not death but actually true life.

Everything depends on how we emerge from the trauma and deal with the struggles that emerge. It links the inner and outer worlds together, Resonances between the inner and outer world suggest guidance, insight, and encouragement. Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, claims “Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny.”

The transcendent archetype guides the psycho-spiritual process. The deep intuitive mind has the power to connect us to spiritual reality and inner truth. It takes a leap of faith to turn away from conventional expectations towards our inner world of wisdom with acceptance and curiosity.

Mysterium Tremendum
Anyone can be an ordinary mystic. Each of us can find ways to express our inner journey. We may not experience a regular loss of ego and absorption in the divine. Yet, now and then we may feel lifted out of our bodies and become lost in a beautiful piece of art or scene in nature, or bliss at the wonders of life.

Being infused with a sense of the sacred is enjoyed for its own sake. Sacred sites and pilgrimages may inspire expansive feelings or humility in the living presence of the divine. A rush of personal or collective feelings and deep memories may engulf or flood us with emotion. Paradoxically, the soul, remains passive in divine infusion.

A common example is the nature mystic experience, an ecstatic nonordinary experience where transcendent nature, awesome vistas, or stupendous events inspire us with a sense of the external sacred that resonates and enters the body. This is the “perceptual” nature of experiences of God. The natural world bring blissful feelings, an altered experience of time, a sense of unity, and luminous phenomena. The divine universal presence becomes accessible to the soul, and the nature mystic’s experiential being becomes infused by the experience.

We may feel enveloped in glory, often with a felt-sense  of unity. Inner spaciousness comes with contemplative engagement with the natural world. We can engage and open a conversation with the elements —  earth, the wind, the fire, and the water, We renew our connection with the vital energy that makes our physical lives possible while it cleanses and heals.

These are deeply subjective experiences of the objective or autonomous psyche, which has a compelling life of its own. The Self not only shows up in dreams, but is the maker of dreams. More than just an understanding of our own capabilities, character, feelings, motivations, or self-concept, self=knowledge is an intentional relationship with soul, with psyche as The Beloved, the heart’s knowledge or gnosis. Only a world with soul offers intimacy and resonance. For some it becomes a passion. This is the myth of Eros and Psyche.

Felt-sense is a symbolic bridge to our common co-belonging to the world. We turn toward nature and our own nature to find the authentic self, focusing on dreams, images, and perceptions. “Self-authenticating” experiences, from expressive arts to penetration by the sacred don’t need collective dogma or tradition. These experiences break through our conditioning in both positive and dark ways that cause suffering.

The Quest for the Holy Grail of self-knowledge and self-exploration is a self-initiatory Way, a solitary endeavor that prioritizes psyche or soul. The sacred cannot be defined but only experienced. It is a way beyond the denial of false self-narratives and conditioned self-images, such as roles, persona, and shadow. We come to know and love our images, not as material and concrete, but as imaginal, metaphorical, spiritual. Anima Mundi is our soul relationship with self, others, and cosmos.

“It has to be found by yourself, because it is your life; and without the widening and deepening of that knowledge of the self, do what you will, alter any outward or inward circumstances, influences – it will ever be a breeding ground of despair, pain, sorrow. To go beyond the self-enclosing activities of the mind, you must understand them; and to understand them is to be aware of action in relationship, relationship to things, to people, and to ideas. In that relationship, which is the mirror, we begin to see ourselves, without any justification or condemnation; and from that wider and deeper knowledge of the ways of our own mind, it is possible to proceed further; then it is possible for the mind to be quiet, to receive that which is real.”  J. Krishnamurti Ojai 4th Public Talk 24th July 1949

The seemingly simple precept is at once familiar, mystifying, and profound. Yet, self-knowledge is the foundation of any beneficial practice. We cannot dismiss its claim on us, for it is simply our own inevitable individuation, that distinguishes us from the collective through our unique experiences and understanding. Many worldviews compete for our attention.

Self-knowledge helps us find light and refuge in our suffering. There is a terrible necessity for reciprocity between us and the Gods, between us and our fate. We face the fragility, unpredictability and imponderabilities of our lives within the plots of our personal mythologies and necessary constraints of the environment. Self-awareness means the ability to monitor our inner world – our thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness is one method for enhancing this essential capacity.

Oedipus

The Delphic imperative was finally followed as a prescription by Oedipus, the unconscious, unreflective archetypal person. He did not know himself at all, but was convinced he did know until he entered his tragic revelatory period.

He did not know his origins, his character, or his visionary calling that eventually allowed him to reconcile with his transgenerational legacy and archetypal situation. The gods are not merely instincts, nor concepts, nor archetypes, but living forces with which we are inter-related through the soul of the world, Anima Mundi.

He could not distinguish his character from his personality. His blindness became a metaphor for our own lack of insight and self-understanding. We do not have to follow his path to the bitter end, but can make self-exploration and self-knowledge a daily part of our soul-tending practice.

Oedipus is reborn through unveiling a formerly unsuspected meaning, dealing with the limitations of rational thought and heightened awareness of unconscious dimensions of the psyche. He is a symbol of both the personal and collective unconscious — first in blind denial, then in visionary insight, from ignorance to self-knowledge. Revelation continues all the time if we know how to look.

In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell states, “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

Such a profound reality is symbolic and generally invisible. It relates to the absence or presence of a true self. Such language allows us to apprehend certain truths related to the life of the soul, to interpret situations whose meaning goes beyond the ability of reason alone. Transgenerational analysis shares this language with mythology in order to apprehend how certain necessities in life function and what role they perform in the orientation of our destiny. Thereby hangs our fate. (Gaillard, Oedipus Reborn)

Knowing ourselves can be as simple as identifying our set of beliefs or accepting that we are ignorant of that which remains unconscious. We can never know completely know Absolute reality, universal absolutes, only our relative, subjective experiences, which appear in images as the content of psyche or soul. This is how we know what we know.W e can never know all of the objective psyche, the absolute, only our relative self-awareness.

We like to make cavalier interpretations based on what we think we know, but that just stops the process cold with one a-ha solution. If we remain open to multidimensional meanings the images continue unfolding.

In Facing the Gods, James Hillman points out the common identity of Necessity and Chaos with anxiety: The psychological viewpoint sees Necessity and Chaos not only as explanatory principles only in the realm of metaphysics; they are also mythic events taking place also and always in the soul, and they are the fundamental archai of the human condition. To these two principles the pathe (or motions) of the soul can be linked. Psychology has already recognized the faceless, nameless Chaos, this “sacred and crazy movement” in the soul, as anxiety, and by naming it such, psychology has directly evoked the Goddess Ananke, from whom the word anxiety derives.  If anxiety truly belongs to Ananke, of course, it cannot be “mastered by the rational will.”

Self-Exploration 4 – Who Am I?

•January 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment


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From  the dawn of time, humankind has instinctively taken on and embodied archetypal forms (meta-forms) and patterns of behavior, both unconsciously and with spiritual purpose. This invisible groundplan molds both individual and collective psychic behavior. Psychic patterns, shared across cultures in countless energetic forms are buried deep in the manifold essence of our collective unconscious.

Our stream of consciousness is a geyser of creativity. Creativity is an emergent property of extraordinary human development — a webwork of the interaction of various spheres of influence, and the complex feedback loops which bind them together. Emergent events are eruptions of the collective unconscious.

The collective psyche points toward and guides us through the transition period we now face. New images are arising, reframing the future. Images have healing properties — inner dimensions of the healing response; and emerging worldviews. They speak to us in our sleeping and waking dreams, forging shared stories relevant to everyone in the process as well as the Cosmos itself.

Emergent healing is about the edges of experience, trauma, and memory — the field of compassion. The ongoing flow of energy and life itself is the emergent soul-field. Emergence is an organic process which has superseded  mechanistic models of healing. It is central to understanding consciousness and the brain. Emergence is a process by which order appears “spontaneously” within a system. It has specific properties — novel and coherent structures, patterns and properties:

The common characteristics are: (1) radical novelty (features not previously observed in systems); (2) coherence or correlation (meaning integrated wholes that maintain themselves over some period of time); (3) A global or macro “level” (i.e. there is some property of “wholeness”); (4) it is the product of a dynamical process (it evolves); and (5) it is “ostensive” (it can be perceived). (Peter Corning)

Our life journey is an unpredictable series of chaotic twists and turns which mold our lives, despite our best intentions and plans, as we wend our way toward our certain end. The ‘journey’ is a core guiding metaphor for our multifarious experiences. It is a poetic journey of self-discovery — this complex trajectory of emergent order from disorder, the complex dance at the edge of chaos.

When spiritual emergence is very rapid and dramatic this natural process can become a crisis, and spiritual emergence becomes spiritual emergency. This has also been called transpersonal crisis. It refers to an awe-inspiring event that transcends the ego and can cause psychological and spiritual transformation. Normalizing and acknowledging the event can result in learning and transformation. Metaphors are only conceptual understanding without the experiential process of self-transformation to back them up.

We are endlessly remaking or discovering ourselves and therefore always transforming — neurologically, cognitively and emotionally. We make tacit assumptions about evolution, progress, collective consciousness, complexity, and why they matter. They permeate the environment, couched  in religious, psychological, and new agey lingo from metaphors of “paradigm shift” and “awakening” to “ascending”, and “transhumanism.”  This radical change in consciousness mimics the spiritual ascent to the temple at the peak of the mountain of the philosophers.

The umbrella term, “transformation,” becomes the new doctrine with its own  dogma and sophisticated psycho-social marketing techniques with new accountability  and top-down authority structures. Since ‘transformation’ is about  moving toward the unknown and awakening the intellect to insight and  realizations, it is virtually impossible to evaluate change processes meaningfully. How do we assess authenticity,  validity, and  issue-oriented change? Experiential reports don’t always coincide with  events. The fulcrum of the process is our psychic being that includes our external nature.

The path from the oblivious to self-aware life is beset with obstacles. How do we know what a genuine transformative experience is?  We transform ourselves by every act of self-knowing. Jung felt that self-realization was a natural process of transformation, orchestrated  by the unconscious. The infinite depth of dynamic reality informs our worldview and personal sovereignty. Such is the journey of meaningful solitude into silence, ratified by the perennial wisdom.

Krishnamurti said, “To stand alone is to be uncorrupted, innocent,  free of all tradition, of dogma, of opinion, of what another says, and  so on. . . .What matters is to understand for oneself, not through the  direction of others, the total content of consciousness, which is not  conditioned, which is the result of society, of religion, of various impacts, impressions, memories — to understand all of that conditioning  and be free of it. But there is no “how” to be free. If you ask ‘how’  to be free, you are not listening.”

Process-oriented therapies help us not only recover but make sense of our feelings and experiences by evoking our story, a meaningful  narrative of our unique course. It is a combination of subjective healing fictions and our objective history, but expresses the reality of our psyche — our embodied soul. Dreamhealing uses images as portals for consciousness journeys to facilitate transformations ranging from mood alteration to profound physiological changes.

Transformations can be effected within the autonomous stream of imagery, through imagery processing via experiential journeys. The essence of this transformative process is revealed in the fractal nature of imagery and symbols–i.e. their ability to encode, enfold, or compress the informational content of the whole. Emergent consciousness is not an epiphenomenon of the brain. Rather it is the transformational process of non-manifest, undifferentiated consciousness emerging into manifestation.

Paradoxical opposites are Hillman writes: “The mythological thought, rather than distinguishing in contrast what is juxtaposed, unites it in pairs.The opposites lend themselves to very few types of descriptions: contradictions, contrasts, complementarities, negatives – formal and logical. like brothers, or enemies, or lovers, or those who make a [symbolic] exchange, they show infinite variety of styles: couples prefer the relationship [we would say today the “relationship” – and the positions are innumerable. Opposite ‘is just a way of being in the couple.”

Even if many have embarked on a similar quest, each of us makes this dramatic voyage of discovery for ourselves — we become our own Columbus of the soul, going where we do  not know. It leads into the unknown where fearsome dragons (pain, suffering, loss, grief, illness, emotional devastation, mortality, our own personal demons) await to devour us. How we navigate those turbulent  seas or traverse that undiscovered country is crucial to our wholeness  and well-being…even as old explorers heading for the shores of death.

If metaphor is central to embodied experience, we can find healing  meaning embodied in our personal tales, which speak from the soul of  the resilience of human spirit. This participatory process, a soul-making practice, creates a unique message, meaning, and body with poetic expression. We remember our soul’s journey and calling, related to our soul’s stories and moved by our struggles. We participate in this sacred act by correlating our experiences in the world with archetypal dynamics and epistemic uncertainty in relation to Reality, weighing the difficulties of interpretive strategies.

Each spontaneous image can pull us out of our egocentric position into our emerging capacities and a panoramic view of cosmos and creation, the universal story of self-transcendence — a conceptually fruitful way of thinking. Artistic activities are flexible instruments for the investigation of imaginary worlds, metaphor of related real worlds.

The metaphor of artificial worlds produces imaginary hypothesis for the real worlds — the art of emergence. Emergence implies natural laws and processes, their inherent beauty, and their action to yield the universe, us and the world we live in.Interactive artworks facilitate emergence and insight into the nature of emergent participant experiences.

Visualization makes meaning of our images. As an image and as a reality, a new field may transcend an old one. The resonant energy of the old is transformed into the new field and resonates with other fields. Its strength is determined by how many fields it resonates with, increasing its potential as an attractor. The living image connects us to what is emerging in a coherent and tangible way. Our imaginal emergent fields are our organizational edges.

Roy Ascott says, “Those of us involved in art and the technology of consciousness (technoetics) are prepared to look into any discipline, scientific or spiritual, any view of the world, however eccentric or esoteric, any culture, immediate or distant in space or time, any technology, ancient or modern, to find ideas and processes that allow for the navigation of mind and its open-ended exploration. The mind is an unknown territory.” (Cybernetic, Technoetic, Syncretic: The Prospect for Art)

Realizing we share the same field, the new paradigm encompasses psyche and Cosmos. Real awareness is being present in the moment. The confluence of future and past is eternally present now, pregnant with potential. Collective psyche “remembers” the future before it arrives, runs all superimposed scenarios in the multiverse before collapsing into ordinary reality.

Participatory Wisdom

Ancient and traditional patterns are only fleshed out in conscious content, emergent knowledge, the emergent feminine, and embodied soul. Fundamental awareness has no intrinsic form, content, or characteristics. So awareness is less about the dualism of mind and matter, light or dark, reality and opinion, or polarized good and bad, but more about the dualism of awareness and the contents of the field of awareness — the symbolic, the mythic, and the subtle body,  the emergence of new spiritual forms.

Emergence is an organization change involving self-organization, autonomy, and circular causality. Images generate fields through subtle associations and correspondences with other, related symbols. Global order emerges from an interaction in a local, dynamical system, so that a whole new set of properties emerge.

The emergence can be seen as unpredictable patterns of orders that appear through a process of self-organization. Emergence is a metaphor of nonclosure, of an open adaptive  system. Complexity explicitly accounts for the interconnectedness of things and how that interconnectedness leads to fascinating characteristics such as adaptive behavior and emergence.

Jung proposes a depth model to attain self-consciousness through recognition of the symbolic content of psyche which can be described as emergent. Emergence can be seen when unpredictable patterns of energy self-organize. These messy complex dynamics, a fundamental drive in nature, like images and symbols, reveal evidence of the creative power of incompressible “feedback”. Transformation is not linear or mechanical, but emergent. The emergent step is the critical turning point in the course of events.

So emergence is an unpredictable wonder of complex nature. The idea behind the concept of emergence is that there are some complex phenomena which cannot be explained by the mere analysis of its parts or conforming elements. Definitions of emergent include arsing unexpectedly, calling for prompt action or urgent, rising out of or as if out of a fluid, arising as a natural or logical consequence, newly formed or prominent. Emergence is a universal process by which all behaviors, all structures, all networks, all ecosystems, all cultures are reinforced into existence.

Contemporary paradigms in emergence theory create new possibilities for understanding. Jung writes about the idea of “emerging” in a variety of ways. At times he regards it as an almost organic and regulatory part of the work of the psyche. Jung notes that, “a symbol emerging in dreams is rejected…and even provokes an antagonistic reaction corresponding to the invasion….” Implicated in this is the resistance produced by consciousness to its own emerging growth. Opposing psychic energies, a conflict between conscious attitude and unconscious imperative for example, are ‘reconciled’ through the emergence of a third entity, the symbol.

This observation feels closer to Jung’s somewhat enigmatic idea that individuation is a work against nature, or put another way, a work that seeks to transcend nature. Jung also writes about emerging as something that looks to the past for ideas in order to help with emerging in the present — a call to acknowledge the past interpenetrate the present as means for emerging new ways of being and doing, and bringing fresh insights into consciousness, innate longing for emergence of sacred revelation. The pattern of the whole must emerge full force, the emergence of new visions and values.

In a paradigm of emergent change, existence is not a problem to be solved, but a pathos of the unattainable to be deepened into a search for insight — the emergent sacred. The creed of ancient Greece was, “Know thyself, and you will know the gods and the universe.”  When Albrecht Durer applied the maxim to himself and his work, he revolutionized art. Knowledge, especially knowledge of self, is the root of wisdom. We can explore ourselves in a variety of ways — as self-actualization, self-development, spiritual discipline, self-realization, or soul connection. Our quest may be that of the hero, the fool, or the knight errant.

Related image

The Oracle


“… when there is no other place to turn, turn to the face that is in front of you. Here is the goddess who gives the world a sense that is not myth or meaning, but the immediate thing that is an image: her smile is a joy, a joy that is forever.” –James Hillman

When we personally respond to the siren call of self-exploration, we follow the ancient Delphic Oracle’s compelling injunction to ‘Know thyself.’ The Oracle is a soul figure. We meet her when we inquire within with a feminine approach to imagination. It isn’t physical, mental, or metaphysical. The Oracle’s symbolic utterance means we should know ourselves as souls, not merely egos. The Oracle mediates between two worlds, as does psyche. She is Mother Nature and the daimonic. Jung says, “the soul… appears now as psychopomp, as the one who shows the way…”

Our own oracle or spiritual guidance lies in the depths beyond the threshold of our inner temple and holds the deepest secrets of our individuality and fate. The injunction is an invitation to enter the world of soul, of psyche. The oracle implies we will change our lives because the process of accepting the mysterious and our fate results in transformation. Our connection to the oracle — to nature, dream, and imagination — is a connection to the transcendent, to psyche.

The Oracle embodies our enduring desire to inquire into what is beyond the here and now, and to try to control what comes next. She is the feminine spirit of the place, the sacred center, the naval of the world. She is the incentive for us to examine our own expectations, to confront our own desires and our own ways of make-believe. She personifies our archetypal yearning, the opening of human consciousness toward individual destiny.

The collective unconscious guides the individual psyche through dreams, imagery, and imagination. The soul guides us on an epic journey into the great mystery of life. Hillman suggests, “When you ask, ‘Where is my soul? How do I meet it? What does it want now?’ the answer is, ‘Turn to your images'” (such as dreams and art.). We struggle with the ways in which we can become more fully human in a deeply connected more-than-human world. The Oracle mediates between two worlds, as does psyche. She is Mother Nature and the daimonic.

The oracle helped identify which god or goddess was offended and what sacrifice would set things right. She was the true and only messenger of the gods. The messages of the Oracle were lofty but never arrogant. She always acknowledged the limits of knowledge. She protected the sanctity of life. Oracles revered the powers of the earth, its sacred springs and lofty rock formations — the suggestive power of the environment.

The oracle is the mystique of the nonrational, the liminal between uncertainty and necessity, the chaotic life urge, the living processes of the soul. She presides from the sacred center of the world. The Delphic Oracle was referred to as the Pythia, or one who can foresee the future. She embodies the serpent or dragon of the collective unconscious and symbolizes the archetypal threshold. The Pythia, the high priestess of Delphi, was the highest spiritual authority and the only channel of divine will.

Our own Oracle or spiritual guidance lies in the depths beyond the threshold of our inner temple and holds the deepest secrets of our individuality and fate. The injunction is an invitation to enter the world of soul, of psyche. Life as we know it is full of desire, passion, pathos, complexity, and paradox. This is the knowledge of experience that defies concepts and beliefs, a pathos that pines for the impossible in the face of the absolutely necessary.

“Right thinking comes with self-knowledge. Without understanding yourself, you have no basis for thought; without self-knowledge what you think is not true. You and the world are not two different entities with separate problems; you and the world are one. Your problem is the world’s problem.” “Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. In self-knowledge is the whole universe; it embraces all the struggles of humanity.” –Jiddu Krishnamurti, This Matter of Culture p 113
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Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ––Aristotle

Those who are lovers of the vision of truth.. . . the true lover of knowledge is always striving after Being — that is his nature; he will not rest in . . . appearances only, but will go on — the keen edge will not be blunted, nor the force of his desire abate until he have attained the knowledge of the true nature of every essence by a sympathetic and kindred power in the soul, and by that power drawing near and mingling and becoming incorporate with very Being, having begotten mind and truth, he will have knowledge and will live and grow truly, and then, and not till then, will he cease from his travail.” –Socrates: Republic, 475, 490

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This essential question, ‘Who am I?’ lies at the heart of all philosophic, religious, spiritual, artistic, and scientific endeavors. When we personally respond to the siren call of self-exploration, we follow the ancient Delphic Oracle’s compelling injunction to ‘Know thyself.’ The Delphic maxims were all considered things we ought to devote ourselves to and practice, lest curiosity and the pursuit of beauty collapse into melancholy. Psyche is a source of knowledge. It is a refuge in times of doubt and uncertainty, where we can seek guidance straight from the deep source.


Terrence McKenna said, “We have been to the moon, we have charted the depths of the ocean and the heart of the atom, but we have a fear of looking inward to ourselves because we sense that is where all the contradictions flow together.” The Archaic Revival (1991).

The emerging Ground of our existence is the essence of wisdom. Emergent knowledge is the gnosis of direct experience aligned with modern empowerment, empathy, self-directed learning, and doing more than we consciously know. We develop an emergent perspective on the world around us. Emergence appears when systems are poised near a critical point of a phase transition, either by tuning or by self-organization.

Feedback between individual elements of natural systems gives rise to surprising ordered behavior. Emergent behavior  is not only more than the sum of the (temporal or spatial) parts, but quite different and unexpected. Knowing a starting state offers no predictability about the mature or emergent state. At each change the quality of the complexity is expressed as a new simplicity. The emergent quality is the summing together into a new totality.

The phenomenology of images suggests that the nature of consciousness is emergent — self-referential, inclusive, and transcendent — individualized transcendence. The unconscious, inherent complexity, is organization without organizer. The process of self-knowledge is an end in itself; it never comes to a conclusion, yet encompasses our entire destiny. There is no clear, direct, one-dimensional path. The soul demands our courage and patience to reveal emergent mysteries while its labyrinthine nature leads us to deeper imagination. Insights in self-understanding come through grace, not labor or merit.

Our universal vision is as limited as our rational and irrational human vision. Intuition exalts and redeems us through connection with our core — the midpoint of our internal Cosmos. True gnosis is an expansion of the consciousness field. But according to our concepts, beliefs, and assumed truths (psychological presuppositions), intuition can produce understanding or danger and destruction — wisdom or nonsense.

Jung observed that belief is transformed into gnosis by individuation. Eternal knowledge or perennial wisdom is not intellectual but detailed knowledge of co-emergent forms of manifestation. Emergent complexity arises from one level that does not predict in any way the features on a related level of form and function.

Myths are renewed in retelling with new spiritual language. In psychological insight, knowledge and understanding correspond with symbolic expression of the myth. Myths die when they no longer live and grow. The chthonic part of the psyche — undifferentiated consciousness — is our life-sustaining structure. Experiential knowing is a spontaneous creative phenomenon that reflects a rich reserve of ideas and images absorbed consciously and unconsciously, newly organized in novel ways — familiar material placed in a surprising and creative context — an achievement of particular genius.

The soul understands what is sacred within us. The archetypal sibyl carries and informs the message of wisdom with loving participation in the deep meaning of inner and outer nature. The prophecies feature insights, paradoxes, metaphors and images that are also the heart of poetic language. What does the soul want? Hillman says more ‘soul-making’ than self-development, disciplines, or aspirational individuation. It is less about social superlatives and more about autonomy. Nature exists and deals with her processes without human aid, and has everything in herself to bring about transformations.

Emergent Knowledge

The ancients who approach the Oracle were met with the hieroglyph Know thyself at the threshold of the inner sanctum. Entering the symbolic world, the threshold is a metaphor of conceptual boundary crossing, a portal to new knowledge. Existential knowledge — discovery of new insights — can be found in liminal or threshold experiences.

It can happen to us unsought and unexpected. It doesn’t require belief, scripture, or Apocrypha. The transformative perspective, observable in its real effects, unlocks the hermeneutics of the creative  imagination. The life of the unconscious goes on within us without our conscious knowledge.

Gnosis is an emergent property, not merely an introverted religious attitude. Embracing gnosis does not mean embracing Gnostic dogma or medieval doctrines — participatory convictions based on personal desires and fears. The secret is inside the creation and based in the study of nature and our own nature. We become more integrated by bringing more of the unconscious and mythic into consciousness.

Like the Oracle, it is a not-quite-understandable answer to our dissatisfaction. Formal, dogmatic Gnosticism is likely an inadequate container for our process. Gnosis is not Gnosticism. Such collective movements are not individual, and  harbor old notions of perfection, evil, and idealism to be achieved through historical social and spiritual revelation, beyond human interference. But the natural process is existential, emergent, metaphorical, symbolic, and creative — not medieval and metaphysical.

Its essence is that we learn about new factor of existence from life’s transitional or in-between experiences through deep reflection. It is a passage to new conceptual domains of understanding, interacting with, and perceiving human experience. The gnosis or knowledge we glean is the method of altering our being — a formula for our emerging self and spiritual autonomy without institutional organization.

Old certainties are challenged and presuppositions dissolved by moving from one state or position to another — other domains of knowledge, beliefs, ontologies, and disciplines. Feeling the opposite of an image created by an original feeling has natural consequences. New attitudes are formed by contemplating the impermanence of self, knowledge, and world, reorganizing perceptions, projections, and awareness to empathic understanding. The liminal state instigates a dialogue between the old and new perceptions. Knowledge, experience, and meaning are conceptually restructured at each phase of reevaluation.

We can reflect at the threshold, looking both forward and back. Crossing a conceptual threshold feels liberating. Threshold experiences shape our emergent knowledge and perceptions of self and world. Reflection is the interstitial event where we find gnosis or knowledge. It is a structure of positions through which we are moving to a new state or self-image. It is ritualized in many cultures as a path transition to new understanding of phenomena, and thus a rite of passage. Thoughts and feelings play with and generate new modes and reconfigurations of being.

We create a plurality of new models for living that are part of the transformative process in the real world. We provoke change by applying those insights. The flux of human imagination shapes and reshapes our roles through regeneration, reconstitution, and appropriation. Gnostic ‘mass movements’ are an oxymoron and a modern invention.

Knowledge of self that does not match with reality is a mental fiction lacking attributed value and conventional certainties. We change one way of relating to the world to another. Er understand everything around us through metaphorical associations, gaining new insight as we pass from place to place reflecting on the phenomenal world.

Informal emergent knowledge is rooted in the gnosis of direct experience, taking into account that mental activity is dependent on the situation or context. Interpolations of deep reflection and conceptual boundary crossing allow us to discover insights in life that shape our emergent knowledge. Pro-active Emergent knowledge is one effective method for healing solutions.

Emergent Knowledge is an information centered process developed as a theory of self-discovery, to facilitate an individual’s journey into the inner landscapes of mind, body and soul. This information contains knowledge which, when drawn on, provides a solution to whatever problems have been identified. This knowledge or wisdom resides in the inner world of the individual and can be used to resolve life’s challenges or problems.” (David Grove, 2005)

An emergent solution is one that is evidenced by a natural state of being in which mind, body, soul and spirit are of one accord, allowing the unexpressed shadow side of knowledge to have equal congress with the socially acceptable expression of the problem. When completed, an Emergent Knowledge solution has a natural and congruent fit for the subject and does not require the physiology of effort, such as practice, reinforcement or dint of will to maintain the solution.” (David Grove, 2004)

The Oracle Speaks

The Oracle embodies our enduring desire to inquire into what is beyond the here and now, and to try  to control what comes next. She is the feminine spirit of the place, the sacred center, the naval of the world. She is the incentive for us to examine our own expectations, to confront our own desires and our own ways of make-believe. She personifies our archetypal yearning, the opening of human consciousness toward individual destiny. We approach the world with passion.

The desire to be fully present here right now clashes with the knowledge and desire for death which informs our life and the nature of our imaginative possibilities. Myth makes the psyche, and soul informs individual experience with a psychic viewpoint made of psychic images. Psyche is the first reality and we are always soul. The dark oracles of the priestess arise from the unconscious, the primordial sea of time and space. Over and above knowledge itself we have to make a moral choice. We have to discern whether or not we can trust our instinct.

Hillman says, “…put it my way, what we are  really , and the reality we live, is our psychic reality, which is nothing but…the poetic imagination going on day and night.” (We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and the World Is Getting Worse, p. 62) He calls soul, “that mode which recognizes all realities as primarily symbolic or metaphorical,…that unknown component, which makes meaning possible, turns events into experiences, is communicated in love, has religious concern [deriving from its special relation with death] ” (Re-Visioning Psychology, p. xvi).

In A Blue Fire, Hillman says, “Why do we focus so intensely on our problems? What draws us to them? Why are they so attractive? They have the magnet power of love: somehow we desire our problems; we are in love with them much as we want to get rid of them . . . Problems sustain us — maybe that’s why they don’t go away. What would a life be without them? Completely tranquilized and loveless . . . There is a secret love hiding in each problem.”

Tolerating the Unknown

It is never a celebration of certainty.  Tolerating the Unknown is our uncertainty, including our anxiety, ambiguity, illusions and pretentions. We follow on the invisible path. We have to tolerate uncertainty to face the unknown, acknowledging that there is a degree of the unknown in everything we do, unconscious trauma, and mental states without representation.

The unconscious is the true psychical reality; in its innermost nature it is as much unknown to us as the reality of the external world. By definition the unconscious represents all that is true, but unknown, about ourselves. It is all that escapes actual consciousness, unconscious association of ideas and memories with unknown points of attachment, and unintended behavior. 

The source or cause remains unknown to us. The unitive processes of the instinctual unconscious remain the core mystery of the feminine principle. Unitive consciousness, original wholeness, accompanies the numinosity of the body, the collective cellular — the numinosity of the body.

Soul has its own directions it wants to take. We don’t know what comes next, so we must stick with the images. The invisibles forever defy our definition and can only be imagined as metaphors. They have emotional power to possess us and govern consciousness invisibly, offering us a coherent way of perceiving, experiencing and imagining.

Thus, we are left with intuiting the relevant unknown. But Intuition is not a replacement for being present, in intimate relationship to the unknown — transcendence, mystery, intuition. An attitude of expectation, a perceptive and penetrating vision this mode of knowledge is instinctive apprehension, intrinsic certainty, and conviction. We can follow our pre-reflective intuition into the vast unknown. We can unlock marginalized intuitive faculties that see subtle energies or imaginal prescience.

EVERYDAY INTUITION:
Associations, Feelings, Emotions, Embodied Knowledge, hunches, gut reactions, embodied soul
EXPERTISE BASED INTUITION: Tacit knowledge, Pattern recognition processes
VISIONARY INTUITION:
Surpassing expertise, Working with self, Connectedness with the target
DIRECT KNOWING INTUITION: Oneness, Connectedness, Receiving information
“Intuition is not mere perception, or vision, but an active, creative process that puts into the object just as much as it takes out.” Jung said. (CW 6, para 610). Strong intuition comes from quality observation of our life experiences. The art of looking, listening and sensing (feeling) is what our experiences are trying to show. It isn’t perception of the unconscious but via the unconscious.

The primary function of  intuition is to transmit  images, or perceptions of relations and conditions, which could not be gained by other functions. Its form varies from tacit knowledge to pattern recognition and constructive intuition. In this type of intuition, emotions may play a significant role, as well as various types of pre-conceptual ways of knowing.

The Oracle mediates between two worlds, as does psyche. She is Mother Nature and the daimonic. Jung says, “the soul… appears now as psychopomp, as the one who shows the way…” (CW XII, p. 63) Nature is an incomparable guide if we know how to follow her. Seers, prophets and shamans are archetypal spiritual figures who promise us insight but they reveal the struggles of life as much as its joys. Even when the guide appears, we may be uncertain how to find our soul and reconnect with soul life, much less how to heal our psychic wounds.

Our inquiry doesn’t enter into inflexible definitions and fixed answers. Soul is unique, creative, and changeable. Our quest can be more like The Fool than the Hero, heroically self-centered and truth-seeking. We don’t need to impose a heroic attitude or imaginal pattern on all events. Rather than emphasizing the hero we return it to relationship with other archetypal patterns inherent in the unconscious. The ‘hero invites subtle forms of self-deception.

Hillman supersedes the concept of the archetype as objective inherited pattern, replacing it with a multiplicity of archetypal images as existent within the natural world. Hillman emphasizes the development of a mythic sensibility in confronting the complexity and multiplicity of psychological life. Psychic reality is a continually creative process of imagination and metaphor coextensive with the world of myth and shaped by necessity and dramatic reversals.

The Oracle is a soul figure. We meet her when we inquire within with a feminine approach to imagination. It isn’t physical, mental, or metaphysical. The collective unconscious guides the individual psyche through dreams, imagery, and imagination. The soul guides us on an epic journey into the great mystery of life. Hillman suggests, “When you ask, ‘Where is my soul? How do I meet it? What does it want now?’ the answer is, ‘Turn to your images'” (such as dreams and art.). We struggle with the ways in which we can become more fully human in a deeply connected more-than-human world.

The oracle is the mystique of the nonrational, the liminal between uncertainty and necessity, the chaotic life urge, the living processes of the soul. She presided from the sacred center of the world. The Delphic Oracle was referred to as the Pythia, or one who can foresee the future. She embodies the serpent or dragon of the collective unconscious and symbolizes the archetypal threshold.

Here we cross the border from the ordinary to netherworld, a threshold into a new, more dangerous world, gaining a wider perspective from one belief to another, or the shift from one state of being to another. Thus threshold is both place and process. Threshold is a powerful place of communication between the opposing worlds: profane temporal world of history, of human affairs and events, and the sacred metaphysical world of soul or psyche on the other (Eliade, 1987). Unconscious symbols are lived but not perceived. (Edinger, 1992, p. 113)

Inside and outside, sacred and profane, psyche and matter, conscious and unconscious; the stable center that mediates between and holds the tension of the opposites; it is a place of possibilities where both sides have the potential to be seen and where energy has the opportunity to flow in either direction. We learn how to live our fate and craft our character in relationship to archetypal figures, numinous modes of experience; seeing through our personal and collective experience to the archetypal image behind it.

Things always remain uncertain through our inner and outer, upward and downward movements. The invisible world reveals itself to our understanding in dreams and fantasies, visionary experiences, psychosocial interactions, and the depths of solitude.  We never know in what form and to what purpose the gods will appear in our exploration of experience. Only through symbolizing the physical experience in the soul space are we elevated to an inner movement of the soul, and subsequent transformation.

But we don’t have to force the change with our desire, strong ego compulsion or personal ambitions for spiritual metamorphosis. Sometimes we must undergo a major transformation in how they we the world. Sometimes not, if we save image, symbol, and even the “mystical,” from an analytic, disembodied reductionism.

There is nothing inherently better about a story where we transform. Our questions are not heroic: What am I here to do? Do I have anything to offer the world? Am I any good at anything? What do I enjoy? The ambitious, developmental heroic attitude grabs onto fixed solutions and interpretations, slays dragons, and kills the imagination unless it serves a power greater than ego.

The oracle in Delphi doesn’t speak or conceal, but gives a sign. She is contact with the supernatural for divination and healing. For those who participate in them, symbols and myths carry their own healing power. The priestess surrenders to what flows through her, and what flows through is the whole world, the cosmos — the primal vital power of life. When we first turn in this direction we have no idea where it will lead or what is hidden in the depths of the psyche. But, psychic archetypes guide the individual psyche towards wholeness.

Our own “messages” from the unconscious are often as cryptic and ambiguous as the oracle’s utterances. She does not reveal hidden consequences or specific predictions of the future. She favors truthful, but ambiguous and hidden answers. The catch is, if you ask the Delphic Oracle for advice, you are bound to fulfill the advice. With the power of presence, she commands we know ourselves now. Our complexes, symptoms, and dreams are all oracles.

Consulting her is a life-changing, transformative, and numinous experience of encountering extraordinary powers of transfiguration. Our wounds drive us into ourselves, and can genuinely allow us an immediate and intimate contact with our soul. This will only happen if we can receive it as a numinous event, an archetypal moment. Possibilities rather than probabilities direct our attention towards those choices, attitudes, and decisions shaping our lives — feeling and sensing through to the heart of the daimonic.

Eldo Stelluci says, “Each of us lives in the course of existence his own and multiple personal mythologies (term coined by Joseph Campbell). Our task is to recognize them and interface with renewed awareness because from these meetings the psycho-biographical and myth-biological difference between “destiny” and “destin-ation” is emerging, that is, between epigenetic patterns, consciousness and individuational transformations. We live the myth that guides us in our evolutions, choices, emotional paths, etc …”

The Greeks called it “daimon,” the Romans “genius,” the Christians “guardian angel”. We call it “heart,” “spirit,” and “soul.” — anima or anima mundi. Anima is the ongoing source of life, the very breath of life that is generative, not only of the body, but also of what makes us human, giving us identity, personality and character, thereby shaping the way we perceive, understand and make sense of the world. The ancients understood soul as the carrier of one’s genius or daimon. This invisible otherness is an animating force connecting us to the ancestors and to the gods themselves.

She embodied the holiest of all mysteries: of the possibility of human connection and communication with the divine. The Pythia eludes all attempts to demystify her. She helps us align with our destiny. We learn how to be who we are, not simply shaped by collective and cultural forces. Her mind still moves through all time and space in divine ecstasy.

The oracle helped identify which god or goddess was offended and what sacrifice would set things right. The Pythia, the high priestess of Delphi, was the highest spiritual authority and the only channel of divine will. She was the true and only messenger of the gods. The messages of the Oracle were lofty but never arrogant. She always acknowledged the limits of knowledge. She protected the sanctity of life. Oracles revered the powers of the earth, its sacred springs and lofty rock formations — the suggestive power of the environment.

Our connection to the oracle — to nature, dream, and imagination — is a connection to the transcendent, to psyche. The oracle implies we will change our lives because the process of accepting the mysterious and our fate results in transformation. James Hillman refers to soul as “the imaginative possibility in our natures, the experiencing through reflective speculation, dream, image, and fantasy.” He reminds us that the World Soul is “that particular soul-spark, that seminal image, which offers itself through each thing in its visible form.”

Self-Exploration 3 – Fields/Telos

•January 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Fields Within Fields

By exploring complexity and chaos theory, with its “strange attractors,” “phase portrait,” and “bifurcations,” we explore a world where order or meaning is created without a designer but rather out of an intricate system. Mythic consciousness and its practice, ritual life, requires a telos to create momentum–the dynamics of consciousness. Psyche is a mirror, as matter is a mirror of imagination.

The fictional carrot is ever-present before us. As a culture, we are in the position of having to take ritual fictions (including scientific theories) seriously, while recognizing their status as fiction at the same time. This means being in two ontological “places” at once, facilitating the development of new ways of thinking about the nature of knowledge, being, and reality.

According to Hillman, it is “spirit’s self-knowledge in the mirror of the soul, soul’s recognition of its spirits.” The “new myth” seems to be one of “guiding fictions,” even “healing fictions.”  Mythic consciousness and its practice, ritual life, requires a telos to create momentum —the dynamics of consciousness.

The Field is the only reality; we are essentially standing waves in space. We suggest that spacetime and matter are the emergent properties of a more fundamental entity, where all fundamental forces are derived from one field. Field theory is a holistic theory which examines patterns of interaction between the individual and the total field, or environment. We use such concepts metaphorically, even if they are mathematical models.

Self-knowledge is an emergent field of information — a conceptual epistemology of the dynamic psychic field — how we know what we know and what it is like in endless iterations. Somehow we process information without understanding fully just what informs us. The dynamic field is like a stream, constantly flowing while changing slightly.

Of course a magnetic field is not a stream of fluid, but as a mental picture, an imaginary fluid streaming in the direction of the magnetic field lines is quite useful. The magnetic flux through a given area is a measure of this imaginary ‘streaming’ through that area, much like the imagery of our stream of consciousness.

We think and talk metaphorically, and all metaphors are both technically wrong, yet embodied. Wrongness is what makes metaphors meaningful. For one thing to be like another means they are not the same, yet are meaningfully similar. Mind is inherently embodied. Thought is largely unconscious. Concepts are mostly metaphorical. Mind matters deeply.

It’s analogous to undifferentiated psychic energy or libido — the fuel of instincts – be it power, hunger, hatred, sexuality, or religion, aggression. Jung thought, libido can only be apprehended in a definite form;  it is identical with fantasy-images. Myths, and their corresponding symbolism, are libido analogues: symbolic manifestations of psychic energy. Jung thought of four general modes of application within the personality: progression, regression, extroversion, and introversion.

Field theory has the idea that no part of a person’s field can be viewed as being pointless. Every part of a total field must be viewed as having possible meaning and importance. This must be done regardless of how pointless or non-important the part of the field may seem, it should still be accounted for. Emergent phenomena correlate psyche and matter. The emergence of life in the universe is itself a process of self-organization.

Fields are domains of influence. Storytelling describes a deep field of myth and archetype. Elements are woven together by narrative, metaphor and illustration. A semantic field is a set of words grouped by meaning referring to a specific subject, much like symbols are held in the subtle net of an image. The language of symbols is older than the Ouroboros, Vortex, Yin-Yang, Ankh, Pentagram, Solar Cross, Circumpunct, Vesica Piscis, or Flower of Life.

Noetics, direct knowing, is the connection between mind and the physical universe – how the ‘inner cosmos’ of the mind (consciousness, soul, spirit) relates to the ‘outer cosmos’ of the physical world – the somatic field of our psychophysical being. A noetic field consists of all mutually interdependent facts and symbols. All are components of the ritual field of mythic sensibility.

The mythic field is the realm of the unconscious. The form of myth emerges as patterns from the field of the Collective Unconscious. Pattern is a language, using fields to describe dynamic relationships and energetics. Each pattern is a field. The field of myth is emotional — emergent, resonant, challenging — inviting ritual enactment to animate and embody it.


Thus, we recognize and develop our own style of mythic consciousness, stepping in to join with others, daring to live our larger lives within the field of historic life. Such journeys are rites of passage. Components of the unconscious emerge in conscious life. Personal myth is a biochemically-coded internal model of reality and a field of information. It shapes individual behavior as cultural myths influence social behavior.

Symbolic content is a mythic field. Shift the field, change the myth. Rituals shift the field. Transcendence parallels the emergence of myth as new life experience. Jung described the transcendent function as a reconciliation of conscious and unconscious elements, remapping our boundaries. Metaphors are interpretations of reality.

Image result for emergent phenomena
Emergent Phenomenon


We can imagine an incidence field and an emergent field of experience. The totality of an individual’s field seems to have no bounds, as epigenetic research shows, due to the change in field. This is a good example of how broad field theory can span, as a personal pre-consciousness may be altered due to field changes that occurred before any major development.

The mind is enveloped in the full universal nature in a complex conscious universe with inherent self-organized teleological principles governing its evolution. Noetics is a branch of metaphysical philosophy concerned with the study of mind and intuition, and its relationship with the divine intellect.
Consciousness emerges from the noumenon of the conscious universe. We understand emergent intelligence in terms of a field effect rather than trying to reduce it to Newtonian mechanics. Field theory can model subjective human behavior and cognition as an emergent property of interacting psychological fields, rather than as a causal network of variables as it is in the classical worldview. The modern human soul emerged with the appearance of art. We return and reconnect back with the moment of emergent soul each time we encounter our images.

“Self-organizing” processes produce emergence. Knowledge and experience create a feedback loop, an emergent, flexibly changing field. Once emergent the field influences the lived experience. impacted by non-specific aspects of the ambience of the emergence field. Permutations in the field result from recognition of patterns of motivation and dream imagery. Emergent phenomena are variations of variations, a virtually infinite repertoire of imagery and novel explanations.

Perspective transformation is cognitive and emotional. Self-exploration is a functional probe field. Transformation of meaning is linked to therapeutic change, a modification of behavior by modifying attitudes and beliefs. Important traits include extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability. The progression here is to an emergence and giveness we can articulate as physis, self-emergence and self-unfolding.

Transformation is self-initiation. The initiatory journey is “instinctive self-initiation.” Life is an individual journey, no one can solve it for us because there is only self-initiation. When a dream-figure is compared and contrasted to figures from mythology and religion, literature and art, the dreamer is initiated into an awareness.

We undergo a process of inner development, or the initiation into inner reality, involving the exploration of, and adaption to, the inner world of the unconscious. Initiation results in an intimate encounter with our destiny. But more, our wounding activates a deeper, transpersonal process of potential healing and illumination that we could not have initiated by ourselves.

Integrability
The integrative potential within us is self-realization. Emergence is the essence of paradigm shift and self-transformation. Few of us pass the full extent of our lives comfortably reconciled with our natural selves. Even prosperity and success cannot silence the grinding notes of discontent and unlived potenrtial that trouble our days and disturb our dreams by haunting our sleep.

In dialogical emergence our narratives address evolutionary, developmental, and functional  emergence. However, intelligence emerges with symbolic language. The primitive spirit expresses many phenomena including paradoxical opposites by sexual metaphors, mystical, and generative unions.

Meta-artist Roy Ascott describes the creative process: “Within the matrix that integrates questions of society,  the self, materiality, and consciousness there is a kind of five axes involved  in amplifying  thought  (concept  development): sharing  consciousness (collaborative  processes); seeding structures (self-organizing systems); making  metaphors (knowledge navigation); constructing identities (self-creation).”
Metaphors create realities in our conceptual system. We relate emotionally to the notion of ‘transformation’ in typical metaphors, such as from being asleep to awakening. At best, they are “as if” realities. Classical metaphors of transformation include death to rebirth, darkness to enlightenment, fragmentation to wholeness, journey to destination (arriving;   homecoming), and organic unfolding.

What is the journey? What is the search? In the master narrative, we are travelers, or miners, or ascender/descenders. In the poetic tradition, primary imagination has the ability to form a central image in ourselves. It makes sense of all the disparate besieging images. A primary theme is the unification of paradoxical opposites in sexual imagery.

Identifying this focus, pictorial intelligence, holds the many images and complex qualities, knows where to place itself, and exactly what to say. Each person’s authentic voice emerges through the basic tenets of expression: writing, listening, movement, self-inquiry, gesture, intonation, and speaking aloud with personal authority in a way that is humanly poetic. Fully engaged in the world around us, we discover an innerness without which dedication to soul life is impossible.

Image result for telos

Entelechy

1. The essential purpose encoded within every living thing.
2. The life force that drives the full evolution of an organism.
3. The dynamic principle that realizes or actualizes what is otherwise merely potential.

Telos is our desinty or innate potential for becoming. Wholeness is the goal and end-point of conscious realization. Our task, as we journey through life, is to listen to the still small voice of our soul as it struggles to remember what it already knows about who we really are. But we cannot know the end at the beginning because spontaneous possibilities arise and emerge along the way.
Our destiny leads us to soul-work; telos is the urge that propels the soul. Affects have telos, and it is through the transformational process that the telos is invoked. The locus, of our eternal individuality, the telos of that spiritual motion is the Angel, genius, or daimon. the “telos” or end-goal of eternity is not just at our personal end or the end of time , but in each moment. All psychic events have an innate telos. Telos compels life force.

Aristotle’s philosophical telos is final purpose, “that for the sake of which” something exists or an action is done. Our ‘end’ pulls us forward from the very beginning — a sort of psyho-iretrocognition. For example, if the final purpose of aging is character, then character finishes life, polishes it into a more lasting image. We cannot cure and eradicate pathos, or discard old myths to replace it with a new one. Individual telos finds its expression through our vocation, our calling.

Recognition of fate is not fatalism. We have a latent purpose but may fail to recognize it, however, its literalization into definite, overriding goals must be avoided. Hillman says to follow the image is to discover the “telos,” direction of the soul’s path, its destiny. This telos is also clearly illuminated in the body, which is also a metaphorical field.

Psychic events have a telos or integral aspect. We sense their purpose is therapeutic. Imagination bridges body and soul — the material beating heart and the imaginal heart. Looking or seeing through events and things to their imaginal image is not a method, but a way of living. Subjective perspectives deepen vision, reflection, rhetoric, values, and ideas. The telos, the inner direction and goal, of the Western mind has been to reconnect with the cosmos in a mature participation mystique.

Telos is the prospective aspect, or forward-looking aspect of the psyche, that within us which is looking to the future and signaling the potential and even the necessity to grow and develop. Jung (1977/1917) “the pull of the future,”  is part of the dream’s mysterious energy, clues about the future possibilities available to us from the perspective of the unconscious. Darker images reflect necessities.

Telos even shows in our symptoms as the purpose of the symptoms and the masks and fictitious roles we are destined to enact. As well as metanarrative, we can also notice the phenomena that happen along the way as we work with images. The image’s movement expresses the telos, a kind of manifestation of the god within, and it is followed, not interpreted. Each dream presents the full narrative: tension, telos, and treatment all within the sense data of the image. We embrace feeling tone, “plot” and telos, amplification, dominant(s), and personal associations.

Entelechy, in philosophy, is emergent evolution, genetic intelligence, the kernel of the ‘true self’ —  that which realizes or makes actual what is otherwise merely potential. The concept is intimately connected with Aristotle’s distinction between matter and form, or the potential and the actual. This dynamic purpose is encoded in us.

Defining characteristics of this experiential process include emergence of the authentic self, self-actualization, or self-realization. They are expressed in the  emergence of spirituality and integrity; wisdom, understanding, and compassion; a realistic self appraisal; and a continued ability for evolutionary change and creativity, with the emergent potential for and possible stabilization of illuminative or unitive experiences. Personal experience and expression of existential, humanistic, and transpersonal  goals can lead to fulfillment of human potential.  The direct  experience is of wholeness, personal connectedness and expansion of  consciousness.

A relationship with psyche extends our view of reality beyond the material. Our awareness can journey beyond the mere body, emotions, and mind to perceptions and insights which enlarge our sense  of self-image in a functional and evolutionary manner, superseding  merely personalistic, narcissistic, regressive tendencies in a permanent  reorganization. These experiences occur in the context of normal adult  passages, the spiritual quest, and in the psychotherapeutic setting. Sometimes expansive experiences are initiated by the awesomeness of nature, alone.

Self-actualization works dynamically within us integrated by the paramount characteristic of unity. Both “archetype” and “entelechy” are summarizing principles. The successive stages of becoming are all emergent from this unity. Entelechy implies the archetype as a kind of inner psychical “code” or “field of information.”

It is an informing spirit that gives life to something and our faith in life. “This  entelechy principle can be expressed symbolically as a god or a guide.  We feel its presence as the inspiration or motivation that helps us get life moving again after times of stress or stagnation. There are many ways to engage the symbolic forms of the entelechy principle...” (JeanHouston, The Hero & the Goddess, 1992) It guides our authentic choices, clarity, and creative flow.

David Bohm noted, “Life is enfolded in the totality and–even when it is not manifest, it is somehow implicit.” Entelechy originally meant “being complete,” or telos, a force that calls itself into being, having the end or purpose internally. The resulting manifestations have sensory existence. James Hillman spoke of our potential unfoldment. “Each person bears a uniqueness that asks to be lived and that is already present before it can be lived7… The soul of each of us … has selected an image or pattern that we live on earth.”


What is the nature of this soul? We fear what we don’t know. When we “take heart” fear subsides. The form is entelechy or act; in the case of living beings, the principle of life, or Soul, is the Form, potentiality, active power, effort/striving, or urge/desire, primary force, internal principle of change, the vital force thought to direct the life of an individual, and even light. And Jung observes, “love is the dynamism that most infallibly brings the unconscious to light.”

Light illuminates the transparent imaginal. Aristotle present a playful analogy between light as what makes things visible and man, and so perhaps cognitive soul. If light is the first entelechy of sight in its actualizing of the transparent, then it is analogous to the living body actualized by soul. Everything  is made  of Light. Only light matters. Nothing arises but standing  waves from the seething zero-point field.

According to Kabbalah, “Light” is the living power of the Creation. It fills every part of reality, and allows its existence. We connect to the Light when we experience anything positive in life. The Light provides us with an infinite sense of peace, satisfaction, enjoyment,  faith, pleasure, love and joy. All these are an expression of the  character of the Light. Health is a result of positive flow of Light in our body and a sense of good luck is the result of the flow of Light in our daily actions.

Each and every one of us is unique and significant. We exist for ourselves and not for another. In the last analysis every life is the realization of a whole, that is, of a self. The development of the spirit, self-realization,  goes hand in hand with an enlargement of the area of consciousness, and every step forward is an extremely painful and tiring achievement.
We could almost say that nothing is harder for us than giving up even the smallest part of our unconscious. But, we are called back by the nature within us. We have a deep fear of the unknown, Still we take those first steps, opening the doors to possibilities…

As Joseph Campbell says, ‘The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure. ‘

more – https://photonichuman.weebly.com/wisdom-light.html
https://ionamillersubjects.weebly.com/wisdom-light.html
https://holographicarchetypes.weebly.com/wisdom-light.html

Self-Exploration 2

•January 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

the body advances its claim for equality; it radiates the same fascination as the psyche. If we are still stuck in the old concept of confrontation between spirit and subject, this condition must be an intolerable contradiction. If on the contrary we can reconcile with the mystery that the spirit is the life of the body from the inside and the body the outer manifestation of the spirit, being the two one thing, then we can understand why the commitment to transcend the current level of consciousness Through the acceptance of the unconscious, it must give the body what is due and why the recognition of the body cannot tolerate a philosophy that denies it in the name of the spirit. ” –C.G. Jung

SOULFUL SELF-KNOWLEDGE & SELF-EXPLORATION
in Depth Psychology, Self-Care, and Art
by Iona Miller, (c)2018, Life On the Edge


“…we are not concerned here with a philosophical, much less a religious, concept of the soul, but with the psychological recognition of the existence of a semiconscious psychic complex, having partial autonomy of function, [anima].” –C.G. Jung, Two Essays

Before the birth, the soul of each of us chooses an image or design that then we will live on earth, and receive a companion to guide us up here, a daimon, which is unique and typical. However, when we come to the world, we forget all this and we believe we have been empty. It is the daimon who remembers the content of our image, the elements of the chosen drawing, he is the bearer of our destiny.” –Hillman “The Code of the Soul” (p. 23)

Image result for art, iona miller

Interactive Field

When God sends his angel to the soul It really begins to know.
–Meister Eckhart, German sermons

We welcome the reader into their own journey of self-discovery. We sometimes feel lost, sometimes validated, sometimes illuminated. But, we always once again pick up the connective thread. Ideally, there is a co-creation with readers, listeners, and viewers bringing their own innermost responses, experiences, and perceptions to the reflective process, whether in agreement or disagreement. Then we know how we think and how we feel and a spontaneous internal dialogue begins.

More books and information don’t change your soul, but active participation and engagement with psyche can open new vistas. The living stream of psychic material weaves the imaginal  journey together into patterns with seasons of agony and grace, the ecstasy of radiant intuition and emergent knowledge. The interdisciplinary path is our trajectory of change.

Wisdom is an orientation, like an internal compass. The most difficult human experiences are potential sources of wisdom. “It’s very hard to know what wisdom is,” James Hillman notes. The wisdom of a lifetime is paradoxically atemporal and cumulative. Constant reorganization and reintegration is part of the life process at the edge of chaos. Integration is never done because we live in a spontaneously changing inner and outer environment.

The remembrance of wrong is transformed within a wider context. Jung suggested, the salt of bitterness is transformed to the salt of wisdom. The Greek word sophia, translated as the word “wisdom,” comes from crafts—carpenters and hand work, sort of technical skill needed in a particular craft.

The Greek word psyche means “butterfly,” and is linked to the Greek anemos, meaning “wind” or “breath,” as well as “soul” and “spirit.” Psyche is the ‘butterfly effect’ that permeates our unconscious dynamics. Small changes trigger larger ones rooted in initial conditions. Denying soul and complexity creates a chaotic dimensional system. So what we do as individuals matters.

Jung emphasized, “the experience of the sacred, of mystery, and of the ineffable. . .[is] an approach that is at home with myth and symbol, with the religious and spiritual traditions of the world, with anthropology and archeology, with art, poetry, and literature.

‘Depth’ includes the inner and outer context of our lives and the depths of nature herself. It includes what is below the surface of psychic manifestations expressed through behaviors, conflicts, relationships, family dynamics, dreams, including cultural, social and political events. We harbor an abundance of fears between the surface and abyss of the unconscious. Depth is essentially limitless, the mystery and creative potential of the unknown.

Psyche is characterized  by wisdom, internal complexity, and depth. It is the natural pathway to our own depths, a more inclusive participation in conscious and unconscious life. Without authentic guidance we explore at our own peril, because as Ginette Paris claims, “the human psyche seeks to destroy relationships and lives as well as to sustain them.” Heartbreak, for example, can be as painful as torture.

Like fractals, the closer you look at psyche’s complexity, the more there is to see; more complexity emerges. It is dynamically fluid, ever changing, mediated by complex, recursive, feedback loops existing simultaneously at physical, social, cultural, and historical levels.

Self-image emerges to form self-referential loops in consciousness. Because our images correspond with our own nature, they have a power drawn from the soul, to hold our attention. Deep energy sources fund constant renewal. The soul concentrates our entire life in the present so that the heart comes to resemble a mirror, reflecting the identity of the personal and superpersonal.

Gordon Axman describes a metaphor: “Psyche can be of different complexity and can in this respect be compared with a mirror globe that has more or less reflectors on its surface. A globe with less mirrors gives a simple image of reality whilst a globe with many mirrors gives a highly complex image of reality. It is obvious that a highly complex psyche is able to represent reality more sophisticated but on the other hand is more prone to picture distorted images of reality.

Our excursions into the unknown wilderness of the psychic landscape and deep, dark recesses may be an inner pilgrimage, archetypal adventure, a voyage of descent into our suffering and vulnerability. It can be a path “sharp as the edge of a razor,”  a poetic journey through remembering, labyrinthine descent, an alchemical, shamanic, healing, or initiatory journey — even a genealogical search.

The relationship locates us in a larger story. It arouses and reacquaints us with our ancestors, soul-guides, daimon, and wisdom figures. Phenomena are the observed facts of the holistic system and pattern of psyche’s innate image-making capacity. Psyche’s self-organizing activities unify many parts into an organism.

We may play the Fool, Lover, or Knight Errant. The Imaginal Realm is the realm of Soul and it is irreducibly plural in its perspectives and outlooks. The movement toward spirit is a journey of ascent, a journey of transcendence, while the movement toward soul is a journey of descent into our depths.

The way of depth involves the discipline of establishing a more compassionate relationship with the image where we witness the expression, suspend judgment, open and respond to its presence. The mystery of imagination is present in symptom, dream and vision, in disease and health, in personal and collective unconscious.

Our way is bringing imagination into the world. We learn how to shift consciousness to connect with non-rational consciousness. This complex multidimensional field beyond our normal perception is something larger than ourselves. Psyche begins to manifest. We feel what our body is doing, but the unconscious acts without our observation, understanding, or approval.

We struggle to emerge in that field, a constituent part of our soul in loving relation to the images of soul. They help us carry our suffering more graciously through resilience. Pain is a signal that our natural psychological needs are not being met. Depression is a form of grief -– for yourself, and for the culture we live in — that sets us on a quest for deeper resources. Personal artistic expression is a primary mode of inquiry.

Lack of autonomy, feeling powerless, controlled, and unappreciated can lead to stress. Depression is grief for ourselves, and our own legitimate unmet needs. Our journey may be motivated by trauma, extreme distress, abandonment, adventure, illness, grief, death, or love, that is, by whatever awakens the imagination to existence, including therapy. It challenges, deepens, and enriches us. Trauma is an overwhelming injury to the capacity to feel and its subsequent defense.

Traveling in “Foreign Countries” is a symbol of the undiscovered country — psyche’s unknown realm and language. To leave the physical and “travel in foreign countries” opens the door to knowledge through the autonomy of living memory images and imaginal remembering. We don’t know what is going to change or where we are going to go.

The journey into the invisible beyond takes place through our self-generative images, which are not mental constructs. This is the imaginative visibility of the psyche, not what we see but the way in which we see, perceived by an act of imagining. Our response is metaphorical and imaginative, not literal or dogmatic.

Does the image release and refine further imagining? The depth of the image is limitless due to its implications. Its “source” is complex: a self-limiting multiple relationship of meanings, moods, historical events, qualitative details, and expressive possibilities.

The natural inborn process is an innate necessity. inherently purposeful, all psychic events whatsoever have a telos. Purpose is a perspective, even without goals or intentions. We need deep respect for inner life and a belief that it is only through attending to and interacting with what is inside that we can live authentically and engage the outer world with our whole self. Our unknown self is the who-am-I question that brings us to the threshold.

Only the journey makes the homecoming possible. The metaphor of the journey is primarily one of ‘transport.’ We travel imaginally, but are also carried along, led by our innate trust of the process itself. Looking inside, we engage inner processes of knowing, experiencing, interpreting, reacting by spending time and attention with what is interior, both felt and imagined.

Engaging with powerful, living images is at the heart of our worthy and therapeutic journey. Symbols are complex facts not yet apprehended by the unconscious. We can build a creative, symbolic bridge between conscious and unconscious.

Implicit, unfinished processes are held in the body in some form, such as somatic sensations, general anxiety, tension or other symptoms. Narrowed or blocked interaction or experiencing, an interrupted or unfinished condition is an incomplete process. Incongruence is a doorway to deeper self-awareness.

Healing allows what has been repressed, rejected, denied or ignored to emerge so we can understand, explore its significance and integrate it as a transformation in consciousness. If we carry our processes and responses forward, images restore flow and open depth to the emergent sense of self-agency.

We empty the mind and engage the body and images in a tangible way, including inner dialogue, gestures, and ethical confrontation to come to terms with the imaginal. The ultimate goal of any inner process is to develop a relationship to what is encountered inside, with openness, curiosity, even reverence. The Imaginal realm is the realm of soul with its irreducible plural perspectives and outlooks. The archetypal image precedes and determines the metaphysical hypothesis of a noumenal archetype.

Living images and felt-sense operate with a certain autonomy. They can interact with us as much as we can interact with them. An ecological, interactive view of inner world is inseparable from the outer world, as interactions inseparable from our environment. Deliberately attending to the body can open vivid, living images, repeated with progressive changes. This is a process of continually becoming one’s self rather than achieving a once-and-for-all state of being.

Filled with emotion, these encounters speak for themselves without interpretation or process guiding. The visceral felt sense of the image is clearly present, and the image itself has a life of its own. The whole of the situation, as it is felt in the body, might be overwhelming. Images can be experienced as ‘not-me’, a too-intense felt sense. An image can feel very other, even if it also represents a part of oneself.

Listening inside and interacting with what we find there nurtures felt-sense with deep and indispensable insights. Felt sense is the embodiment (bringing awareness inside the body) of our ever-changing sensory/energetic/emotional landscape. It moves our focus from actions and things happening outside us in the world to qualities of our present, internal experience (e.g. textures, colors, sensations).

Experiential process is as, or more important than content, potential not yet developed fully. Unfinished or unconscious processes can  be blocked and not be carried  through. We may be aware of them but not their meaning. Awareness moves attention from  the image to direct feeling. Change comes with directly felt tangible, feelings, and attitudes.

Jung called this the transcendent function, the process by which we are guided in a teleological way toward the person we are meant to be. The cooperation of conscious reasoning with the data of the unconscious progressively unites the opposites.

This symbolic bridge is a psychic function that arises from the tension between consciousness and the unconscious and supports their union. The tension of opposites produces a new, uniting function that transcends them. Difficulties arise from our becoming too one-sided in dealing with opposing functions.

Self-knowledge is more than just the vanity of wanting to be the one who knows. Self-knowledge brings humility. In the end, we can only have a partially examined life. We long for soul and depth, to find the greater human in us. When we reach a threshold point in our life, it is no longer enough to live unconsciously. Our attempts to become conscious impel us on a long journey. The soul’s telos is the directions it wants to take. We see into our soul’s sacred wounds, finding a sort of destiny as soul begins to outline its true shape.

We don’t need to concentrate on the self-oriented motivations that animate conventional soul-oriented spirituality. We give up the story of a separate soul as if it were the center of its universe. We discover our common soul finds its way through our unique expression into the whole world of relations. It is enacted archetypally, through many energies, enacting many stories, correlating and resonating with each other on many levels of complexity. This is the domain of soul-making.

We can be gripped by overwhelming mystery. We feel psyche inside us, but it also reveals itself in the world and as a self-arising cosmos. We experience conscious appreciation of a living universe, co-extensive with our own deepest being.

There is deeper meaning in necessity, toward which spiritual life points. Jung saw a telos of union between the individual self and the larger ‘Self.’ The unconscious is the key to healing old wounds and learning about our destiny, the telos of our life. Meaning flows into the present from the future.

The proverbial Quest for the Holy Grail is human curiosity and discovery, purposive movement. The unconscious is the Holy Grail of consciousness, the supreme value of life. The Grail is a Mystery and the search for it a Quest for self-actualization. Human consciousness has taken many forms, transcending primitive myth, spirituality, religion, philosophy, and science.

The free soul finds its telos only in the limitless, its source. There is a living, active, directing force within. Learning from ones soul gives life a telos or overriding purpose. It matters … the soul, the locus of our deepest yearnings, is fulfilled.

Today’s quest combines elements of them all. That evokes and challenges our spiritual beliefs and faith, the nature of existence and reality, and our rational materialistic view of self, others, and cosmos. We dream our own personal and collective end, sensing some alchemical telos in our history, a cosmically apt collision of warring principles. Our dreams of apocalypse are initiations to the underworld, the final end, the telos, of the soul. In the liminal present, Apocalypse is a rite of passage, our own revelation. We see more through our closed eyes, than open.

As James Hillman says, “When the gods arrive on stage, everything becomes silent and the eyelids close. Plunged into oblivion by this experience, we re-emerge and without knowing exactly what is happened, we know only that we have been transformed.”  “The eye of the heart that ‘sees’ is also the eye of death that sees through visible presentations to an invisible core.” (Hillman, Soul’s Code, p146)

Nothing can be known if it does not appear as a psychic image. The source of images — dream images, fantasy images, poetic images — is the self-generative activity of the psyche itself. Awareness of telos provides evidence regarding an image; but is not a mandate or predestination.

Reflection more adequately and sensitively echoes the poetic basis of the mind. Symbols, images and archetypes are the language of the soul, of the collective unconscious — perceptions of supra-normal comprehension. Images include infinite combinations of interacting networks not only of graphic or visual images, but a set of perceptions, thoughts, ideas, emotions, behaviors, relationships, interactions and identities.

We seek ideas that bring justice to the variety and depth of the soul. Hillman says, “ideas give us eyes” and are ways to see and to know, or to know through an inner vision activity. “Psychological ideas are ways to see and to know the soul, so that a change in psychological ideas means that there is a change over the soul and a respect to the soul .” (RVP)

Our soul calls to us in many ways, including radical faith in the deep psyche’s capacity to produce these images of soul to guide us down. It leads us into our depths where the truth of who we are and what we are for still pulses, glows in decades-old embers, and awaits our courageous reclamation. Soul-work is deep-diving inner work to consciously disassemble, sever, re-member, and over time, integrate long-lost but reclaimed pieces of who we are. We have to learn to inhabit a world where our human and the more-than-human abide in mutual presence.

Every human manifestation tells us about an aspect of psyche, knowledge of the psyche. They interact with existing collective structures of meaning at all levels, including body parts,  in language and culture. All human knowledge and theories are filtered through the psyche. We construct our reality according to our psychic filters. Thus, we gain knowledge of, and participate in, the domains of matter (senses), mind (reason; language), soul (feeling; nonordinary states), and spirit (intuition; silence; gnosis). Nature is conformal with herself, says Murray Gell-Mann.

Jung suggested that psyche and matter share a common transcendent essence. The psychological and physical features we perceive in the world are dual aspects of one underlying reality. When the deep levels of the unconscious become activated, synchronistic events can occur. All levels of energies unite in consciousness of soul. Field theory is a way to conceptualize any specific moment, relational systems, latent potentials, and self-states. The paradigm of the emergent field is an energetic metaphor of motion, emotion, and psyche.

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Self-exploration 1

•January 12, 2018 • Leave a Comment

LIFE ON THE EDGE

We all share a similar destiny — a longer or shorter lifetime, of which we must make the best, whatever that means to each of us. Self-knowledge is a basic orientation to being and a Way of life. We all share the denial and suffer traumatization by the inhumanities of modern life — the fragmenting reality of human conflict and destructive rage we cannot comprehend. Transpersonal stories hold our inner pain before our personal story can be told.

Instead we deny, shut down, or dissociate and yearn for the sacred to counteract the destruction of human spirit. The unconscious is synonymous with the opening of imagination. When we find our own way of belonging in the world, it deepens our experience and the imaginative possibilities of our nature, realized in reflection. Trauma survivors often overvalue and become enmeshed with the mysteries of the inner world in a defensive way, so need to be grounded or re-connected to life.

We experience external reality throught out consciousness or unconsciousnes. Soul is the source of unconscious longing that launches our innate instinct to search for ourselves. Life on the edge is experienced through the personal unconscious, acting as a bridge, threshold, or a life-sustaining transition phase between conscious and unconscious. An ensouled life helps us be more resilient and aware of the ultra-real.

Life is created and sustained at the very edge of chaos and the fringe of consciousness, conditioned by unacknowledged terror, about death, impermanence, human limitation. The inner world of the trauma survivor is often mythic before it is personal, blurring the boundaries of ordinary and non-ordinary awareness. Fantasy and life-saving encounters with the numinous become defenses against symbolic individuation and the pull of reality and the dark side of the self and interpersonal struggles — the larger narrative of our soulful foundation and unique lives.

What cannot be represented personally is represented transpersonally. What can’t be registered symbolically or in language gets embedded in the body. The traumatised psyche becomes self-traumatizing, self-sacrificing, and self-damaging to the distressed ego. The self-defense system ends by turning against us. We are all more or less traumatized by the unbearable reality of man’s inhumanity to man. We inherit the longterm effects of intergenerational transmission of victimization. Heartbreak overwhelms the self-care system.

The frontier is the edge between what you know and what you don’t know that sustains being at the threshold of the conscious and unconscious. Complexity lies at the edge of chaos, a transition phase, where life itself is created and sustained. The unconscious is self-generating, self-arising, self-iterating (or repeating–chronic), and self-organizing.

When we are identified with a defense from unbearable trauma, psychic pain, and anxiety we cannot see it and it turns back on the self. We put up protective shields against stimuli. We have to constantly question our perception of reality and dig beneath our self-image and assumed truths to reveal deeper awareness of psychical realities and daimonic defenses of the unconscious. By considering the soul, self-knowledge helps us learn to live between the worlds.

All knowledge is the result of imposing some kind of order upon the reactions of the psychic system as they flow into our consciousness … it is not a question of … asserting anything, but of constructing a model, which opens up a promising and useful field of inquiry. A model does not assert that something is so; it simply illustrates a particular mode of observation.” (The Structure and Dynamics of Psyche, Volume 8, par. 362, 381)

Nature is matter, soul, and spirit. Thales recommended a look inward to “know thyself,” many centuries before Augustine. Hillman speaks in Healing Fiction how “‘Know Thyself’ is revelatory, non-linear, discontinuous; it is like a painting, a lyric poem, biography thoroughly gone into the imaginative act.”

But those who are in this process often cannot see it, cannot see its imaginative metaphorical quality and mistake it as literal and concrete. Creating any approach to the image and results attained are skewed by our presence. We move to the ‘edge of chaos,’ the creative edge, to solve problems between stability and instability. On this edge everything is in flux, dynamic and changeable. We have to uncouple ourselves from our subjective  ideas about  the  nature  of  things —from  the  things  themselves — and separate affect from perception.

Chaos theory provides a natural yet scientific metaphor of this complex trajectory of emergent order from disorder, the complex dance at the edge of chaos. We learn from chaos theory that physically and mentally we need chaotic disorder to function smoothly. Dipping into that disorder shakes everything loose and allows creative restructuring to occur. Forms emerge, dissolve, and reform through the creative process known as autopoietic self-organization. It demonstrates the unfolding of creative process itself, the emergence of form or structure from formlessness and chaos.

Self-organizing systems, both organic and inorganic, naturally evolve toward the “edge of chaos.” All the creative action is at the boundary of any field, the creative  threshold, the leading edge. It is in finding meaning and expressing  that meaning that we exalt our humanity in our individuation. We don’t  actually change but our experience of reality does and this experience  is largely outside of our “conscious” grasp.

It is the means of creative self-organization which arises from the undifferentiated disorder that lurks within the processes of creation. Chaos holds infinite possibilities of new form, and these forms are eventually revealed and emerge from chaos as new structure. This is also an apt way to describe consciousness dynamics, such as thought, spontaneous behavior and creativity.

Reality is neither structure nor chaos, but a process in which structure and chaos dance between form and formlessness. The ability of a system to move in and out of chaos gives it the greatest creative advantage — spontaneous adaptability. Healing is biological creativity. We can embrace this disruptive chaos, trusting that it is an emergent self-organizing process. This boundary domain is the creative “edge of chaos,” “the twilight zone,” “the crack between the worlds,” where the two meet and progressively meld into one another.

The edge of chaos is important to self-organization. Giving up control and embracing uncertainty allows the unpredictable to arise. The creative edge of chaos is implicated in the creation of the universe, as well as in human creativity and learning processes. Creativity and healing are emergent properties of self-organizing systems. The edge of chaos is the point of emergence for new behaviors, enhanced capacities and transformed identity. The top-down process meets the bottom-up process at the creative edge.

Perhaps the best claim we can make for our approach is that at least it is a fertile one. ‘Know Thyself’ is more of an invitation than a heroic exhortation driven by ego or will. The cutting edge of the evolutionary condition to seek greater horizons and to always want to transcend whatever our limitations are at the time. Plotinus admonished, “The way to truth was the journey of a lonely person to that which is eternally alone.”

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the body advances its claim for equality; it radiates the same fascination as the psyche. If we are still stuck in the old concept of confrontation between spirit and subject, this condition must be an intolerable contradiction. If on the contrary we can reconcile with the mystery that the spirit is the life of the body from the inside and the body the outer manifestation of the spirit, being the two one thing, then we can understand why the commitment to transcend the current level of consciousness Through the acceptance of the unconscious, it must give the body what is due and why the recognition of the body cannot tolerate a philosophy that denies it in the name of the spirit. ” –C.G. Jung

SOULFUL SELF-KNOWLEDGE & SELF-EXPLORATION
in Depth Psychology, Self-Care, and Art
by Iona Miller, (c)2018, Life On the Edge


“…we are not concerned here with a philosophical, much less a religious, concept of the soul, but with the psychological recognition of the existence of a semiconscious psychic complex, having partial autonomy of function, [anima].” –C.G. Jung, Two Essays

Before the birth, the soul of each of us chooses an image or design that then we will live on earth, and receive a companion to guide us up here, a daimon, which is unique and typical. However, when we come to the world, we forget all this and we believe we have been empty. It is the daimon who remembers the content of our image, the elements of the chosen drawing, he is the bearer of our destiny.” –Hillman “The Code of the Soul” (p. 23)

Image result for art, iona miller

Interactive Field

When God sends his angel to the soul It really begins to know.
–Meister Eckhart, German sermons

We welcome the reader into their own journey of self-discovery. We sometimes feel lost, sometimes validated, sometimes illuminated. But, we always once again pick up the connective thread. Ideally, there is a co-creation with readers, listeners, and viewers bringing their own innermost responses, experiences, and perceptions to the reflective process, whether in agreement or disagreement. Then we know how we think and how we feel and a spontaneous internal dialogue begins.

More books and information don’t change your soul, but active participation and engagement with psyche can open new vistas. The living stream of psychic material weaves the imaginal  journey together into patterns with seasons of agony and grace, the ecstasy of radiant intuition and emergent knowledge. The interdisciplinary path is our trajectory of change.

Wisdom is an orientation, like an internal compass. The most difficult human experiences are potential sources of wisdom. “It’s very hard to know what wisdom is,” James Hillman notes. The wisdom of a lifetime is paradoxically atemporal and cumulative. Constant reorganization and reintegration is part of the life process at the edge of chaos. Integration is never done because we live in a spontaneously changing inner and outer environment.

The remembrance of wrong is transformed within a wider context. Jung suggested, the salt of bitterness is transformed to the salt of wisdom. The Greek word sophia, translated as the word “wisdom,” comes from crafts—carpenters and hand work, sort of technical skill needed in a particular craft.

The Greek word psyche means “butterfly,” and is linked to the Greek anemos, meaning “wind” or “breath,” as well as “soul” and “spirit.” Psyche is the ‘butterfly effect’ that permeates our unconscious dynamics. Small changes trigger larger ones rooted in initial conditions. Denying soul and complexity creates a chaotic dimensional system. So what we do as individuals matters.

Jung emphasized, “the experience of the sacred, of mystery, and of the ineffable. . .[is] an approach that is at home with myth and symbol, with the religious and spiritual traditions of the world, with anthropology and archeology, with art, poetry, and literature.

‘Depth’ includes the inner and outer context of our lives and the depths of nature herself. It includes what is below the surface of psychic manifestations expressed through behaviors, conflicts, relationships, family dynamics, dreams, including cultural, social and political events. We harbor an abundance of fears between the surface and abyss of the unconscious. Depth is essentially limitless, the mystery and creative potential of the unknown.

Psyche is characterized  by wisdom, internal complexity, and depth. It is the natural pathway to our own depths, a more inclusive participation in conscious and unconscious life. Without authentic guidance we explore at our own peril, because as Ginette Paris claims, “the human psyche seeks to destroy relationships and lives as well as to sustain them.” Heartbreak, for example, can be as painful as torture.

Like fractals, the closer you look at psyche’s complexity, the more there is to see; more complexity emerges. It is dynamically fluid, ever changing, mediated by complex, recursive, feedback loops existing simultaneously at physical, social, cultural, and historical levels.

Self-image emerges to form self-referential loops in consciousness. Because our images correspond with our own nature, they have a power drawn from the soul, to hold our attention. Deep energy sources fund constant renewal. The soul concentrates our entire life in the present so that the heart comes to resemble a mirror, reflecting the identity of the personal and superpersonal.

Gordon Axman describes a metaphor: “Psyche can be of different complexity and can in this respect be compared with a mirror globe that has more or less reflectors on its surface. A globe with less mirrors gives a simple image of reality whilst a globe with many mirrors gives a highly complex image of reality. It is obvious that a highly complex psyche is able to represent reality more sophisticated but on the other hand is more prone to picture distorted images of reality.

Our excursions into the unknown wilderness of the psychic landscape and deep, dark recesses may be an inner pilgrimage, archetypal adventure, a voyage of descent into our suffering and vulnerability. It can be a path “sharp as the edge of a razor,”  a poetic journey through remembering, labyrinthine descent, an alchemical, shamanic, healing, or initiatory journey — even a genealogical search.

The relationship locates us in a larger story. It arouses and reacquaints us with our ancestors, soul-guides, daimon, and wisdom figures. Phenomena are the observed facts of the holistic system and pattern of psyche’s innate image-making capacity. Psyche’s self-organizing activities unify many parts into an organism.

We may play the Fool, Lover, or Knight Errant. The Imaginal Realm is the realm of Soul and it is irreducibly plural in its perspectives and outlooks. The movement toward spirit is a journey of ascent, a journey of transcendence, while the movement toward soul is a journey of descent into our depths.

The way of depth involves the discipline of establishing a more compassionate relationship with the image where we witness the expression, suspend judgment, open and respond to its presence. The mystery of imagination is present in symptom, dream and vision, in disease and health, in personal and collective unconscious.

Our way is bringing imagination into the world. We learn how to shift consciousness to connect with non-rational consciousness. This complex multidimensional field beyond our normal perception is something larger than ourselves. Psyche begins to manifest. We feel what our body is doing, but the unconscious acts without our observation, understanding, or approval.

We struggle to emerge in that field, a constituent part of our soul in loving relation to the images of soul. They help us carry our suffering more graciously through resilience. Pain is a signal that our natural psychological needs are not being met. Depression is a form of grief -– for yourself, and for the culture we live in — that sets us on a quest for deeper resources. Personal artistic expression is a primary mode of inquiry.

Lack of autonomy, feeling powerless, controlled, and unappreciated can lead to stress. Depression is grief for ourselves, and our own legitimate unmet needs. Our journey may be motivated by trauma, extreme distress, abandonment, adventure, illness, grief, death, or love, that is, by whatever awakens the imagination to existence, including therapy. It challenges, deepens, and enriches us. Trauma is an overwhelming injury to the capacity to feel and its subsequent defense.

Traveling in “Foreign Countries” is a symbol of the undiscovered country — psyche’s unknown realm and language. To leave the physical and “travel in foreign countries” opens the door to knowledge through the autonomy of living memory images and imaginal remembering. We don’t know what is going to change or where we are going to go.

The journey into the invisible beyond takes place through our self-generative images, which are not mental constructs. This is the imaginative visibility of the psyche, not what we see but the way in which we see, perceived by an act of imagining. Our response is metaphorical and imaginative, not literal or dogmatic.

Does the image release and refine further imagining? The depth of the image is limitless due to its implications. Its “source” is complex: a self-limiting multiple relationship of meanings, moods, historical events, qualitative details, and expressive possibilities.

The natural inborn process is an innate necessity. inherently purposeful, all psychic events whatsoever have a telos. Purpose is a perspective, even without goals or intentions. We need deep respect for inner life and a belief that it is only through attending to and interacting with what is inside that we can live authentically and engage the outer world with our whole self. Our unknown self is the who-am-I question that brings us to the threshold.

Only the journey makes the homecoming possible. The metaphor of the journey is primarily one of ‘transport.’ We travel imaginally, but are also carried along, led by our innate trust of the process itself. Looking inside, we engage inner processes of knowing, experiencing, interpreting, reacting by spending time and attention with what is interior, both felt and imagined.

Engaging with powerful, living images is at the heart of our worthy and therapeutic journey. Symbols are complex facts not yet apprehended by the unconscious. We can build a creative, symbolic bridge between conscious and unconscious.

Implicit, unfinished processes are held in the body in some form, such as somatic sensations, general anxiety, tension or other symptoms. Narrowed or blocked interaction or experiencing, an interrupted or unfinished condition is an incomplete process. Incongruence is a doorway to deeper self-awareness.

Healing allows what has been repressed, rejected, denied or ignored to emerge so we can understand, explore its significance and integrate it as a transformation in consciousness. If we carry our processes and responses forward, images restore flow and open depth to the emergent sense of self-agency.

We empty the mind and engage the body and images in a tangible way, including inner dialogue, gestures, and ethical confrontation to come to terms with the imaginal. The ultimate goal of any inner process is to develop a relationship to what is encountered inside, with openness, curiosity, even reverence. The Imaginal realm is the realm of soul with its irreducible plural perspectives and outlooks. The archetypal image precedes and determines the metaphysical hypothesis of a noumenal archetype.

Living images and felt-sense operate with a certain autonomy. They can interact with us as much as we can interact with them. An ecological, interactive view of inner world is inseparable from the outer world, as interactions inseparable from our environment. Deliberately attending to the body can open vivid, living images, repeated with progressive changes. This is a process of continually becoming one’s self rather than achieving a once-and-for-all state of being.

Filled with emotion, these encounters speak for themselves without interpretation or process guiding. The visceral felt sense of the image is clearly present, and the image itself has a life of its own. The whole of the situation, as it is felt in the body, might be overwhelming. Images can be experienced as ‘not-me’, a too-intense felt sense. An image can feel very other, even if it also represents a part of oneself.

Listening inside and interacting with what we find there nurtures felt-sense with deep and indispensable insights. Felt sense is the embodiment (bringing awareness inside the body) of our ever-changing sensory/energetic/emotional landscape. It moves our focus from actions and things happening outside us in the world to qualities of our present, internal experience (e.g. textures, colors, sensations).

Experiential process is as, or more important than content, potential not yet developed fully. Unfinished or unconscious processes can  be blocked and not be carried  through. We may be aware of them but not their meaning. Awareness moves attention from  the image to direct feeling. Change comes with directly felt tangible, feelings, and attitudes.

Jung called this the transcendent function, the process by which we are guided in a teleological way toward the person we are meant to be. The cooperation of conscious reasoning with the data of the unconscious progressively unites the opposites.

This symbolic bridge is a psychic function that arises from the tension between consciousness and the unconscious and supports their union. The tension of opposites produces a new, uniting function that transcends them. Difficulties arise from our becoming too one-sided in dealing with opposing functions.

Iona Miller Websites 2017

•April 7, 2017 • Leave a Comment

http://iona-miller-websites.site123.me/

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