Carl Jung brought our attention to nature’s use of the mandala as a symbol of our wholeness. Whenever some configuration of a circle and a square appears in a dream, follow that trail. Pick up that lowly copper penny inside a box, something of your valuable wholeness lies there. Follow that bouncing ball as it hits the square pavement stones. It may lead you to the next piece of the puzzle of self.
Typically, the mandala is divided into four sections, symbolic of our divided selves. Wholeness requires that we discover, develop, relate to, and bring into an integrated life, our very divided and separated inner selves.
Perhaps at the deepest level our divided selves reflect our lives lived through infinity, our incarnations in different worlds at different times. Sometimes in my consulting room clients are compelled to visit and integrate the challenges and lessons of past lives. More often than not, however, this deeper integration awaits as a final task to completion of our present life, as we prepare for transition into new life.
Division within the self is often a function of trauma. In childhood trauma especially, our developing selves are confronted with challenges beyond our ability to emotionally and cognitively master. Such experiences are split off, frozen in time, stored in the body for future reconciliation when our evolving self has greater mastery and an ability to meet the challenges of its lost self or selves.
All individuals experience splintering of self through the normal socialization process known as education. During schooling we are sharply molded into more uniform beings, despite personality differences. Unacceptable thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are relegated to what Carl Jung called the shadow personality that takes up life in the darkly impersonal unconscious mind and body.
That shadow personality seeks life in our fantasy, in our less than conscious states where it can seize control in psychic projections and obsessions that dominate our attention, regardless of conscious rational intent. Even predatory behaviors may be viewed as compensatory states of shadow possession, reactive to the dominating power of socialization. It’s no wonder we have a society up in arms about limitation of its arms, so aware are we of the destructive power of the shadow. Would that we were equally aware of the nature of projection; where the shadow is so easily disowned within the self, only to be feared and projected, placed out there, in the dangerous other.
The truth is, we are a multiplicity of beings, in fact a multiplicity of energetic beings. As Jan hints in her blog, we may indeed all be the same being. Wow, the integration of that realization is indeed of the highest order!
Our challenge, as Jung’s discovery of the archetypal mandala suggests, is to find all our missing parts and fit them into a unified whole. These parts all come with their challenges, ranging from facing a past life to facing down the tyrants of trauma and freeing the lost children of the self, to finding one’s voice in song or finding one’s rhythm in body movement.
The shamanic tool of recapitulation, like following the bouncing ball of the mandala in dreaming, is a time worn tool to putting in order the multiple personalities we call Self. That task is a journey of a lifetime. It’s why we’re here.
I end with a quote from The Book Of Us, Jeanne speaking of taking the road to life’s completion, channeled by Jan on May 30, 2008:
The ultimate purpose and reason for living in that realm is to complete your evolution at that level of learning, and to prepare the self to move on to the next level. Completion entails taking into consideration every bit of who you are, and putting together the puzzle of the self, holding the self responsible for finding what you need to make this completion happen …To achieve completion must you be prepared to leave your recapitulated self upon the shores of that world and advance to a new level where only completed souls may go..
Following that bouncing ball and dreaming on,
Excerpt from page 207 in The Book Of Us.