Tag Archives: active imagination

Chuck’s Place: The Mood

Bad Mood!
– Art by Jan Ketchel © 2018

“I woke up in such a mood; I can’t seem to shake it.”

What is this heavy feeling state that mysteriously envelops us like a fog as it thwarts our familiar energetic sense of self.  A mood hardly seems part of our typical ego consciousness. It seems to derive from elsewhere in the vastness of our psyche, having gained enough momentum to overtake and color our state of mind and energy for the day.

A mood is the emotional expression of an other part of the self, a sibling of the ego, that typically resides in our shadow, the part of us that is also “us” but resides in the dark, outside our conscious light-bearing ego self. A mood is a concretely experienced example of a separate and distinct part of ourselves that impacts  our consciousness, as well as our attitude, as we approach our daily lives.

Jung originally coined his psychological approach “complex psychology” when he discovered the existence of other characters in the psyche interfering with the conscious ego’s ability to respond to certain words presented in a word association test. This was expressed through delays in reaction time, as well as through physiological indicators of emotional distress. For Jung this was clear evidence of what he called “feeling toned complexes” or sub-personalities that coexist in the background or unconscious part of the psyche.

A mood can be understood as a form of communication to ego consciousness from an inner complex or sub-personality that expresses a powerful negative reaction or attitude toward something present or emerging in life. Given its debilitating impact upon the will of the ego, the mood may render the ego deflated or depressed. Often this can lead to an immobilized or compromised moody state.

The emotional tension generated within the individual by the mood frequently seeks relief via blaming someone outside the self as the problem. This of course can lead to endless misunderstandings and bickering as the scapegoated other reacts to questionable accusations. Unfortunately, the defensive need to relieve tension within the self often blinds a person to such distorted projections.

Ultimately, the sub-personality or complex behind a mood must be owned and reckoned with directly by the ego through an inner process of reflection and negotiation. The ego must suspend judgement toward the troublesome complex if it hopes to engage it in a reconciliatory process. Although the ego must endure a mood, it must also establish that it remains in control of all actions taken. Nonetheless, it must be willing to let the mood have its own voice too, that is, allow it to express its point of view, the reason for its mood.

The ego must be careful not to decide it automatically knows the reason for the mood, it must consult the mood directly. As we sit quietly with the mood we seek to have it communicate its point of view directly. We can do this through a process of amplification, by acknowledging the feeling state of the mood and asking for more information. Perhaps at this point an image or thought spontaneously comes into mind.

Perhaps we see a familiar person’s face in our mind’s eye. Perhaps we hear them saying something. We can listen and give attention to what they might say. If it’s just an image, no words, we can stay with the image and see what associations about the person come to mind. If we write down our associations we can then feel our way through them to see what associations feel more energized in this moment. In effect, we are building a communication bridge with the mood that gradually fills out its message.

Perhaps it becomes clear that our ego has felt obliged to accommodate a plan with another person because it doesn’t want to disappoint them. The mood becomes recognized as a shadow complex that holds the truth that we don’t want to do something. Its mood is an attempt to subvert action and have the ego assert itself.

The ego is now in a position to acknowledge the truth of the mood and the need to become more assertive with its true feelings. The ego can then validate the shadow complex and pledge to move gradually toward greater self assertion. This might set the stage for a fairly quick lifting of the mood. Sometimes it can be that simple, at other times far more complex.

The key to the resolution process is the acknowledgement by the ego of the autonomy and right to exist of the complex itself. Giving attention to the complex warms it toward the ego, but it must realize that the ego is in charge of all final decisions of action.

Treating a mood as an invitation to a dialogue shifts the focus toward positive collaboration. As difficult as that process may be, it stands to advance us toward inner unity and healing.

Move over Freud! Perhaps communing with moods is an even more efficient royal road to the unconscious, though of course dreams are always welcome!

Mood lifted, blog written,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Into The Hologram

Ready to go deeper?

Are we ready for enlightenment?

“How far down the rabbit hole can you go, Alice?”

“The red pill or the blue pill, Neo?”

How far can we travel into the truth before lights out, black out?

David Bohm—considered the preeminent quantum physicist of the 20th century—gifted us with the hologram as the most apt metaphor to capture the true nature of reality. When a holographic picture is splintered into fragments, the whole is still contained in even the tiniest of those fragments. Human beings, like a cut up sheet of holographic film, are all fragmented beings, who—no matter how fragmented, however cut up the slice may be—still hold within the wholeness of the truth of everything. Shine a light on any fragment of holographic film, and the whole picture will appear.

When Jung gifted us the metaphor of the collective unconscious, he captured the same reality. At the deepest level, we are all the same—one interconnected whole being, present and interconnected in the collective unconscious. At a certain level, we are all the sum total of the Akashic Records.

The other day, I randomly opened the ancient Bhagavad-Gita, The Song of God, to the following description of holographic, collective wholeness:

“Die, and you win heaven. Conquer, and you enjoy the earth. Stand now, son of Kunti, and resolve to fight. Realize that pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat, are all one and the same; then go into battle. Do this and you cannot commit any sin.”

On another day, I opened Rix Weaver’s The Old Wise Woman to a description of a woman’s dream, the exact same dream repeated many times throughout her life. In the dream, the woman always finds herself in the same room with seven doors; three doors to the left and three to the right, facing each other, and a seventh door at the far end of the room. Each time she dreams this dream, as she attempts to pass through the room, a dark presence descends like a cloud and forces her back.

What’s behind the door?

In a waking dream of active imagination—where the conscious ego stays present and interacts with the contents of the dream—this same woman fights the dark presence and is able to access valuable truths about herself behind each door. Finally, she opens the seventh door only to encounter a man with a Book of Rules plastered to his forehead, the true puppet-meister behind her construction of reality.

Jung identified this rule bearer as the Animus, the male counterpart inherent in the psyche of all women. This character functions autonomously in the psyche of woman as the discriminator or organizer, but all too often becomes a dictator—the dark presence that the woman sensed countless times in her dream—with all its rules and judgments, restricting and crippling life.

In this woman’s conscious interactions with her animus in active imagination, she transforms the relationship from one of foe to that of friend, whereby honoring her true feelings and broadening her capacity for articulation through positive collaboration. Had her ego not stood up to the dark cloud, she never would have known the deeper truths of her hologram, which enabled her to move more fully into life. Instead, she would have remained a prisoner to her inner ruler as he constantly dictated a safe world that she could exist in.

Men suffer a similar gatekeeper at the deeper level of the hologram. Last night, after reading Rix Weaver’s account of the woman’s dream doors, I dreamt of a house with several rooms, a woman in each room.

My dream suggests that man must encounter his inner anima—the feminine counterpart of the male psyche—showering life with moods and sensitivities that construct a reality he believes should exist, that he is entitled to. Under the influence of her vexations, man cannot know the true nature of reality, and certainly can’t know woman as person, devoid of anima’s spells of projection.

The true nature of reality—contrary to the popular belief that women are moody and men are rational—is quite the opposite. In truth, the background of a man’s psyche is dominated by his anima in all its moodiness and emotions, and a woman’s psyche is dominated by her animus with its rigid rules and rationalities. Both the anima and the animus are inferior forms of feeling and thinking that lead to hair-brained battles and are the source of many a conflict and breakup. Unless a couple or an individual delves deeper into the characters of the hologram, within or without, these characters dominate life from the darkness, and true reality never experiences the light.

As we move beyond the once highly defended confines of our ego selves, deeper down the rabbit hole of the hologram, we discover other characters quite willing to communicate and share their world. In recapitulation, for example, we frequently ask or are asked by the body self to re-experience, through our senses, a past experience from our lives. The results of this request are often quite dramatic, as we may be taken, quite physically, through the sights, smells, sounds, temperatures, and touch sensations of deeply forgotten experiences.

At other times, we might find ourselves conjecturing about the accuracy of a memory only to have an immediate physical sensation, a channeled body communication, authenticating the validity of our thoughts. In fact, the language of body communication can evolve to a fluid real time dialogue, to a kind of advanced kinesthetics between ego and body self.

Time to break the rules?

As we go deeper into the hologram of the collective self, we might open channels to past lives and to entities beyond this life, though fully part of the same interconnected hologram we all exist in and, ultimately, are.

Truly mind-blowing as these ideas are, that’s what happens when you put down the Book of Rules! The real challenge is to continue to journey ever deeper into the hologram, keeping the lights on—indeed, the true meaning of enlightenment.

Lights on!
Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Compulsion

Pulse=Heartbeat=Life force

If we fractionate the word compulsion into its component parts, com-puls-ion, we arrive at its literal root meaning: the condition of being with a pulse. A pulse is generated by a heartbeat. Where there is a heartbeat there is a living thing—a compulsion is a living thing with a life of its own.

When we experience a compulsion we are contending with an independent life force active within ourselves. Our conscious minds are challenged to become aware of the needs, habits, and expectations of this compelling life force we house within us, to cave to it or allow for its influence upon our lives, and, ultimately, to discover who or what it is, why we have it, and finally reach a reconciliation with it.

Long before we discover the who and why of a compulsion, we must deal with its power and pressure; its coursing pulse energetically demanding that we do something for it.

“I want _____!” it demands.

If we fill in the blank it might be that it wants food, wine, sex, objects, a job, activity, thought, feeling, or behavior. The categories are endless, but the common thread is consistent: a compulsion wants something from us; it insists we acquiesce to its demands and spend our lifetime and energy on its agenda.

Our first challenge is to become aware that we are under the spell of a compulsion and then suspend judgment that we are the compulsion or that we are flawed because we have it. Those kinds of judgments drain our energy and distract us from managing this “Not-I” within.

Our first goal is to stand up to the compulsion with the message: “I don’t know who you are or why you are here, but I’m willing to find out and see how I might help you or fit you into my life, but I refuse to be trammelled by your demands anymore! I come in peace, I come with respect, I come to reconcile with you, but I also come with firmness. I will not allow you to take control of my life without my consent.”

What is "I" and what is "Not-I"?

Many an author has expressed that the books “they” have written are actually the artifacts, the by-products of a reconciliation with their inner “Not-I;” compulsions that are given life in the stories they need to tell. Often, once the book is complete, the compulsion is satisfied and life, previously galvanized by the compulsion, is released to be enjoyed by conscious goals.

Compulsions may also be the artifacts of our genetic history. Perhaps, at the level of our collective inheritance, we house an artist, a musician, a drunk, a thief, a liar, or a philanderer. Again, we must suspend judgment and suspend victimhood if we are to directly encounter the “Not-I” of our inheritance. Our challenge, with our genetics, is to decide what we will give life to and what we can finally master and put to rest.

Perhaps it is our turn to solve the challenge of an addiction or compulsion that has dogged our ancestry for generations—it’s our turn, our chance, to bring things to resolution and closure. It’s not our fault we have an addiction or compulsion, it’s our opportunity to solve it or finally realize it, as in the case of letting the artist or musician in us finally live.

Sometimes compulsions are, in fact, living parts of our “I,” hidden from consciousness due to traumatic splintering. Often, in this case, the compulsion becomes the voice, the language of a hidden truth, as it pressures the conscious self to recognize it and bring it home in acceptance. This can lead to great confusion for the conscious mind, as it must contend with impulses, interests, and desires it deems unacceptable or destructive. If these influences are decoded as the hidden truths of life already lived, they take on a different meaning and can lead to inner reconciliation through healing dialogue.

What is hidden?

Active imagination is a powerful tool that Jung devised to meet and reconcile the inner “I” and “Not-I.” In active imagination we welcome our inner parts—those we house consciously and those we house unconsciously—to meet us in open dialogue. We don’t speak for the compulsion; we allow the compulsion to speak freely, though not act freely. Action is off the table at this point. Action must be a conscious decision, made in sobriety, when all truths have been revealed. This must be the stance of consciousness toward all inner parts: “I’ll listen fairly to anything, but I reserve full decision making power over action. However, I will acquiesce to right action.”

In this circumstance, a compulsion is offered respect and allowed to fully state its case. The final disposition of its needs may be quite challenging and may ultimately find life in fantasy and story, but not in the world of everyday life.

The full realization and reconciliation of all that we are and all that we house is quite mysterious and worthy of a lifetime—a true lifetime achievement award. Compulsions are living forces within us that, when properly understood and reconciled, are major contributors to a life fully lived.

From the beat,
Chuck

#726 Chuck’s Place: Active Imagination: Engaging Images in Action

For the seers of ancient Mexico, our apparent perception of the world is, in fact, really our specifically human form of interpreting the energy of the universe at large. Those seers maintain that we take in very little sensory data, mostly through our eyes, which we then use to quickly call forth the intent of an object. This intent is what Jung would call the inner image or inborn archetypal representation of an object that then gets projected onto outer reality. The uniformity of human intent has generated a consensual reality populated by objects believed to definitely exist, as we project them in the outer world.

From this perspective extraversion can literally be seen as the extra version, the projected version of the preexistent inner image. In contrast, introversion can be viewed as the inner version of our dancing images. In either case, our primary relationship is with our own images—as projected in the world or within ourselves.

Jung stated that everything unconscious is projected. Translation: everything we don’t know about ourselves we project upon the world. Hence, our inner unknown images, or parts, are all projected upon the world. Active imagination is a technique Jung developed to directly discover and interact with the specific images active within one’s self. This technique offers a path to self-knowledge and wholeness.

If we are primarily extraverted, we meet ourselves, our inner parts, in the outer world of relationships. If we are primarily introverted, we are preoccupied with the images within ourselves that might present as fantasy images, thoughts, feelings, or moods. Most people are a mixture of both introversion and extraversion, therefore are confronted by their personal images both within and without.

Last Sunday, I awoke with the impulse to create a retreat structure in our backyard. I spent the better part of the day walking the grounds, envisioning a multiple array of potential structures ranging from a stone tower to a cave. I even engaged in Google, You Tube, and book research on various methods of construction. Finally, hours later, exhausted, I sat with my images and realized that my ego had concretized the energy of an inner part of my self. That part was using a series of images to communicate to me the need to retreat. However, in typical Western extraverted fashion, I ran with the image as a consumer to the virtual mall of retreat structures!

What a different Sunday I might have had had my ego sat with the image and talked to it. “Who are you? Why are you presenting yourself to me? What are you trying to tell me?” I’m quite certain that new images, feelings, or words might have emerged: a connection, a discourse, a relationship, a different day, energy conserved.

The other night, after a lovely, filling meal, Jan and I sat and watched an episode of “In Treatment.” An adolescent girl was eating a fresh pizza. Suddenly, I was hungry, wanting pizza. I couldn’t possibly be hungry, but the urge was compelling. The image of pizza had stimulated something inside me. I sat with it and discovered that it was my desire body, what don Juan would call “the nation of the stomach” masquerading behind the pizza image as the physical experience of hunger. In this case, my ego, through bearing the tension of apparent hunger, was able to intercept the secret plot of “the nation of the stomach” attempting to take control of the world of the self. Experientially, once exposed, the desire body released its illusion of hunger. My ego rather gently informed my desire body that there is nothing wrong with satisfying a desire, but really, not on a full stomach!

These two examples, I hope, demonstrate how images generated from parts of ourselves can control our perceptions, needs, and behaviors with our complete unawareness. I close today with a perhaps more universally recognizable image trap. First, I will admit to being a hopeless romantic. However, I have learned that in spite of the intoxicating draw of falling in love, the real magic is in love itself.

Under the influence of feelings of emptiness and lack of fulfillment, with a need and desire for love, connection, partnership, and wholeness, we set the intent to fall in love by evoking the archetype of romance. This archetype comes complete with a standard program and a specific soul mate image tailored to address our underlying needs. The next step is to locate a suitable energetic being upon whom to project this image. When two energetic beings meet with the same romantic intent, their soul mate images may be cross-projected onto each other and, Voila!, it’s love at first sight! When these images unite, the experience is indeed magical. However, as the night fades and as subsequent days fill in the shadows, slowly the images recede, as our apparent soul mate may be revealed as a human being no longer able to reflect the requirements of our specific soul mate image. Often these revelations result in the end of a potential relationship.

My closing question: Who is falling in love when we fall in love. Hint: Images in Action!

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,
Chuck

#724 Chuck’s Place: “Seeing” with Jung: Prelude to Encounter

When the seers of ancient Mexico scanned the human body with their “seeing eye” they saw thousands of vortexes of twirling energy.* From this vantage point they discovered that we humans are physically comprised of countless individualistic energy fields functioning as an integrated unit.

Carl Jung discovered that the human psyche is similarly comprised of many complexes: segregated, individualistic sub-personalities, many of whom, though they co-exist in the psyche, remain unaware of the existence of each other. For Jung the dominant problem for modern Western civilization is its near total reliance on one complex within the psyche, that is, the ego complex. In fact, the rationally dominated modern ego complex dismisses, denies, and remains deeply alienated from the greater part of the psyche, appropriately called the unconscious. The vast majority of mental illness and world strife can be traced to this imbalanced condition within the human psyche.

The seers of ancient Mexico saw death as the unifying moment when all separate energy fields of the body become one energy. Jung discovered a method he termed individuation, that enabled the ego to embark on a journey of interaction and synthesis with all its opposing parts, to arrive at a place of psychic wholeness and equilibrium.

Jung himself undertook an intensive journey of self-discovery with his inner complexes or parts, as documented in the recently published primary source: The Red Book. Jung recorded the dialogue between his ego or conscious personality with complexes or characters within his psyche who spoke back to him autonomously with their own voices. Jung later termed this technique active imagination.

Through these dialogues, some of which were intense confrontations, Jung learned many things. He discovered that we have complexes inside our psyches that we acquire during our lifetime as well as complexes that we inherit. In his dialogues Jung spoke to figures from the Middle Ages who possessed ancient knowledge and wisdom and spoke in the vernacular of that time. From these experiences Jung determined that the unconscious was both personal and collective, of this life and beyond.

Jung also discovered that some complexes are quite powerful and can exert a strong effect on the ego. For instance, one complex with a female voice repeatedly attempted to seductively convince Jung that he was a great artist. Jung sternly refused this suggestion, stating in return that his use of art was part of his process of self-discovery. Jung realized how easy it could be for the naive, insecure ego to come under the sway of complexes with their own agendas, attempting to commandeer the ego through bolstering its self-importance. This became the basis of his understanding conditions such as psychic inflation and deflation, or in their extremes, mania and depression.

Inflation is a condition where the ego identifies with a complex, becomes greater than it truly is, and embarks on behaviors driven by the interests of the complex. In deflation the ego feels utterly diminished by an encounter with a complex, shrinking into powerlessness and depression.

Jung realized that his ego had to maintain control as he encountered these powerful complexes or sub-personalities within himself. To do this his ego had to be receptive to listening to points of view and potential truths that challenged completely his conscious attitude. He committed to honest reflection upon these views and submitted to change when he discovered his ego attitude to be limited. However, he refused to automatically accept any new truth without a scrutinous conscious processing.

Ultimately, Jung’s encounters with the perspectives of different complexes modified his personality in a new synthesis with a vastly broadened awareness. This enlarged consciousness was not an inflation, that is, an ego identification with a sub-personality. To the contrary, this new synthesis represents a reconciliation of many opposing parts of the self. The ego, in this new synthesis, accepts its relative but important place as the center of consciousness but not the center of the personality. The ego accepts its role as mediator of the greater forces of the self, with definite challenges to take on in this life. The ego acknowledges that it is not lord and master of the personality but, as a complex with consciousness, is charged with learning the truths of the self and acquiescing to the appropriate needs and expectations of the total self.

In a future blog I will explore in more detail the technique of active imagination. The necessary prerequisites to its practice are to be gleaned from Jung’s personal journey. Engaging directly the unknown self, or the unknown not-self, requires definite safety precautions.

1. The ego self must be ready to engage in dialogue with an entity or a complex within the self that is not part of the ego. Don’t underestimate how tightly the ego holds to the security of seeing itself as the whole personality. We must be ready to accept and make room for the Not I.

2. The ego must stay present and insist on consciousness remaining in control during interactions with other parts of the self. Sub-personalities are allowed a voice, but not a take-over coup of the personality.

3. The ego, with its growing knowledge and awareness, must not identify with any entity; that is, it must not see itself bigger than its humble ego self because of its ability to have contact with other entities or their influences. This would be inflation. Nor must it allow itself to turn over power and guidance of the personality to any entity, no matter how benevolent or helpful. The ego must ultimately take personal responsibility for all decisions. We are in this life to live it, grow from it, and learn from it. We are not here to turn our life over to another. This is an evasion of responsibility and ultimately a predatory arrangement, no matter who the entity is. In contrast, acquiescing to the higher power of the self, or spirit, is a decision rooted in consciousness, a decision based upon the resonance the ego feels in its encounter with spirit. This is not an evasion of responsibility but an acceptance of the appropriate ego position in relation to spirit. In simple terms, this is the ego assuming its proper role in alignment with the total personality versus going off on its own agenda or turning its life over to the control of another.

With these prerequisites in place we are ready to journey deeper into self and beyond, in interactions with infinity.

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,
Chuck

* Paraphrased from Carlos Castaneda’s Magical Passes, page 91.

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