Anxiety, fear, terror, joy, ecstasy—these are the emotions we experience when we anticipate or are in direct contact with what Jung called the collective unconscious. For Jung, the collective unconscious was the home of our eternal self, part of which has incarnated in finite human form in the life we are now living in this world.
Though shielded by veils, our fragile egos, like small sailboats, ride the waves of our eternal selves in the ocean of the collective unconscious. And like those small crafts dwarfed by the vast ocean we are both terrified and excited to merge with and bring into this life a fuller experience of all that we are. Jung called this individuation, the act of truly unfolding and becoming all that we are.
The Shamans of Ancient Mexico arrived at the same understanding of the human predicament, using their own descriptive metaphors. Those Shamans identified the eternal in ourselves as the energy body, the part that leaves the “fixation of the assemblage point,” that is, the fixation of awareness on the world of everyday life, and ventures into our greater potential in infinity in our dreams.
Shamans and psychotherapists alike are aware of the collective unconscious, or infinity, and the resulting emotional reactions of terror and tremendum upon encountering this dimension of our being.
In prior times, religions constructed safe havens and technologies to shield yet relate the faithful to the greater energy of infinity. In today’s world, the dominance of the rational mind has largely shut down belief in infinity and left many to face the tremendum of infinity with little other than psychopharmacological interventions to regulate the central nervous system as it fields the emotional impact of infinity. How may times a day do we encounter anxiety, fear, terror and ecstasy? These are all the surface rumblings of truths great and small that lie in the vast unconscious where the bulk of what we are resides.
Jung came to call the reservoir of repressed traumas from our lives in this world the personal unconscious. And those traumas cry out for recognition and reconciliation through the triggers that evoke powerful emotions in our daily lives. In our day, psychotherapy and shamanic recapitulation provide technologies to face and integrate this shadow side of our psyche. Once we have reclaimed the energy from this dimension of our unknown selves we are opened to the riches of higher fulfillment, yet at the same time we are also open to the deeper layers of the collective unconscious as well.
For me, dreaming is the point of intersection for both psychotherapy and the shamanic world, for both communing with and finding support from the far reaches of our infinite selves, offering us the opportunity to actualize and fulfill the life we currently find ourselves in. Dreaming is all about forging a relationship with the infinite self.
To begin a relationship with the deeper self ask it for a dream. When you wake up with even but a morsel of an image from a dream do not judge it; stop, write it down, sketch it. As the day unfolds return to the image or the dream, several times; simply relive it. Notice what automatically pops into your head as you do this, without thinking, simply noticing what spontaneously arises. Perhaps you’ll get a message. Actualize that message in some concrete way, i.e., write it down, incorporate it into an action.
Over time, your unconscious will speak more clearly to you, as it very much appreciates your attention. Never dismiss its guidance but don’t (usually) take it too literally either, as it speaks in symbols, that’s its language. But it’s actually a code specifically designed for you, so keep cracking it!
As you deepen your relationship with your deeper self you will be invited into deeper journeys into infinity. In fact, you will be taught how to solicit and prepare for them even before sleep and dream. This marks the transition from passive to active dreaming, the bridge into infinity that all can cross now, bringing the riches of infinity into the current life now being lived.
From this approach, all of life becomes a spiritual journey where intense emotions and experiences are seen as callings from infinity to address deeper truths and clear the channel for a greater influx of infinite energy to enrich and individuate the life you are now living.