Self-Exploration 2

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)

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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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~ by ionamiller on January 12, 2018.

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