Tag Archives: Carl Jung

Chuck’s Place: Human Complexity

Working on unity…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Carl Jung defined a psychological complex as a ‘feeling toned idea’ that acts quite autonomously in the human psyche. When Jung was performing his word association tests he observed that certain words triggered delayed reaction times and emotional reactions in his experimental subjects. Something ‘else’ was interfering.

This led to his discovery that there are autonomously functioning parts of the psyche acting outside of consciousness. Jung called these influences ‘complexes’. Freud spent his entire career highlighting the Oedipal complex, which he considered the greatest unconscious influence upon the human psyche.

Today we have terms like alters, ego states, fragmented parts or archetypes to depict these autonomous influences upon consciousness. Robert Monroe took Western psychology a step further with his research into out-of-body (OBE) states, where consciousness discovers non-material parts of the self that regularly influence consciousness from subtler planes of existence.

Monroe’s discoveries concur with Hindu science with respect to the emotional/desire body as the first to be encountered in an OBE state. Many OBE explorers report an encounter with excess sexual desire in their early explorations. Monroe also discovered a preponderance of sexual preoccupation by many travelers who had left human form through physical death, as they remained fixated on sexual activity, though lacking a physical body.

Monroe’s discovery certainly lays credence to Freud’s emphasis upon the overarching significance of sexuality for human beings. Sex may be the major karmic issue that sends disembodied spirits back into human life. Monroe also reported encounters on the astral plane with the energy body of sleeping human beings, equally preoccupied with sex in their dream states.

Beyond sex are the many emotional attachments that humans, in their energy body OBE states, are found to be preoccupied with. Civilization, with its emphasis upon reason, uniformity and conformity, has suppressed and repressed the spontaneous living of impulse. What we previously considered as repressed and contained within the psyche in the physical body may be very actively living on the astral plane outside of human consciousness.

The current polarized attitudinal split in the human race might actually reflect this polarized split within the human psyche, manifesting as an outer collective opposition. If we distill this opposition, it could be reduced to, simply, reason vs impulse. Resolution of this opposition is fundamental to unified progress.

Shamans introduced the practice of recapitulation as one’s individual soul retrieval journey. If one can bring consciousness and reconciliation to all of one’s parts, one can achieve wholeness while in human form. To the extent that this remains incomplete will determine one’s karma. After all, how can one go forward as a fragmented soul. One must first discover and gather together all of one’s parts.

Elmer Green served as his wife Alyce’s shamanic guide in her journey through Alzheimer’s disease. Alyce had spent her entire adult life immersed in the highest of spiritual principles. As her energy body journeyed into the astral plane, as she went the course of Alzheimer’s, she encountered her shadow self, the repressed and unloved side of herself, for the first time.

Besides her memory loss, she became paranoid and rageful much of  the time. These experiences were largely driven by her encounters with her unknown self. With extreme patience, Elmer helped her to get grounded and reconcile with her fuller self. This enabled her to enter infinity at an advanced level, well beyond the shadow bardos, when she physically died in this world.

Jung’s choice of the word complex to denote autonomous parts of the psyche truly holds up. Humans are complex beings! The key challenge in human form is to resolve all of one’s complexes and become one’s true wholeness. With wholeness one’s energy is fully united, as everything becomes possible.

From complex to unity,


Chuck’s Place: Meditation, Sensation, Intuition

Meditation offers balance and detachment... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Meditation offers balance and detachment…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We live in a time of information overload. We are saturated from without by a constant flood of communication, from the latest news of everyone’s experiences to world events and an environment rapidly and unpredictably changing. Inwardly, we are flooded with images, thoughts, feelings and sensations, all vying for our attention that they might share their own stories.

The challenge now is how to stay grounded and manage this high intensity flow of data while simultaneously figuring out what is real, meaningful, and deserving of our attention.

There is a growing consensus, from many fields, that the ancient meditation practices of the East provide a technique that enables us to manage this overwhelming flood of data that we perceive or generate in such a way that we are granted the freedom to decide where we will place our attention. The simple ability to notice a thought or news item but be able to then choose to bring our attention back to the present moment, to our breath without interruption or a further development of the thought, goes a long way toward calming our central nervous system and providing the grounding to navigate daily life.

Carl Jung long ago identified two psychological functions, intuition and sensation, that are relevant to deepening our ability to navigate the flood of stimulation we encounter from within and without each day. Simply put, intuition is a psychological function, a sixth sense, that perceives what might be behind a door we are about to open, for instance, or “sees” some event in the future. Sensation operates through the five physical senses; it perceives what’s “actually” here and now.

These two functions are extreme opposites; one focuses on concrete known reality, the other on a future reality, unknowable in concrete terms. Often our minds are inundated with thoughts, feelings or images that if left to run freely would generate a story we might then contend is real. Suddenly we imagine a look on someone’s face or a call not returned as a definite snub. We feel rejected. We become frightened, anxious, and worried and before we know it we are living out that drama as if it were real.

Meditation might aid us here to lift us from the intensity of this inner drama and ground us in the here and now through focus on our body and one of its physiological functions, breathing. Here meditation couples with the sensation function to ground the ego and enable it to take back its energy from the drama. Afterwards, once centered, the ego is in a position to determine whether the germ seed of the drama was an actual intuition—that is, an actual perception of a future reality for instance—or merely the spinning of an illusion by a thought or some other trickster character in the personality.

Sitting with sensation our minds eventually enter the beauty and calmness of pure intuition... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Sitting with sensation our minds eventually enter the beauty and calmness of pure intuition…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Intuitions generally occur spontaneously, presenting a definite picture, feeling, or knowing of something unseen. The experience might be compared to a flash of lightening. It’s powerful. Inner dramas, by contrast, though they might build in emotional intensity as the drama deepens in the mind, are more like soap operas spinning endless tales than sudden and powerful shocks of knowing. A grounded ego, detached from the drama, is in a good position to determine if it’s dealing with drama or intuition and can decide more clearly what to give attention to and what to discard.

Of course, even when dealing with a legitimate intuition there is still the possibility that a perceived future does not unfold along the lines intuited. Once again we do well to exercise the tool of mediation that helps us to stay grounded in the present moment, suspending judgment of what might happen as we watch life unfold as it will.

In developing a dedicated meditation practice we are provided with the grounding in sensation that enables us to delve into and explore the unseen without being captivated by phantom dramas that consume our vital energy and distract us from real life. Meditation provides the bridge to unite the seemingly irreconcilable opposites of sensation and intuition, allowing us to deepen our meaningful presence in life, in all its dimensions.

Sitting in calm sensation,

Once again, I share a YouTube video of a very simple and easy Korean meditation method: Son Meditation.

Chuck’s Place: Mythbusters—The Rites Of Spring

We must all sit upon the immovable spot if we are to achieve new life... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
We must all sit upon the immovable spot if we are to achieve new life…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

An eager workshop attendee once asked the Nagual, Carlos Castaneda, “Should we recapitulate what’s happening right now?” Carlos hesitated, then said softly, “Not yet,” with no further explanation. I knew in that moment that Carlos was saying that the luster of the myth we were all participating in would fade once recapitulated. He wanted us to enjoy the energy we were in for just a while longer. Isn’t that what we all seek when we fall in love, to enjoy the energy of it just a little while longer?

The truth is that once we have sat upon the immovable spot, as we sit beneath the Bodhi tree of our recapitulation, the energy and allure of the old illusions are released from our newly enlightened selves. We are freed from the terror, longing, and both negative and positive beliefs of old energetic attachments. We are able to walk out of the myths that once governed our lives into whole new worlds of possibility, real worlds of possibility.

Carl Jung recognized that all lives embody a core myth. If we look around to the cast of characters we were born into and the formative events of our lives, we can begin to identify the myth we were born into. Perhaps it’s our karmic challenge to solve a problem that has held us in check for eons. How could it be possible to be freed to new life if we have not cracked the nut of an old problem—our mythical nemesis? There is no escape from an unsolved problem; we continue to meet it everywhere. If we are convinced that we are unlovable, no amount of attention will convince us otherwise. If we are to be loved, we must first free ourselves of our attachment to the myth of the ugly duckling.

This requires recapitulation. We must be able to be present to all the truths to free ourselves from the myth we have been captivated by. Those truths might include that the mythic giants who conceived of us in this life were, indeed, quite flawed mortals without a clue. We’re all equals now, outside the myth of familial promise in the nursery; equal beings who are going to die; equal beings trying to crack the mystery of our myths, seeking new—real—adult life.

The violent, unrefined destructive energies of new life are boiling beneath the surface of spring. Birth is an aggressive, violent process—let’s bust any romantic myth to the contrary right now. The energies of earth quake beneath the surface, the intensities of storm surround us. Right now, at spring’s awakening, we all sit upon the immovable spot.

There really is new life beneath the hardened surface! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
There really is new life beneath the hardened surface!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

If there is to be new life, the rigid ground of myths that no longer channel life must be cracked. New life promises Abundance, the 3 of Cups, the first Tarot card that I pulled on the first day of spring as I contemplated writing this blog. However, the rigid structures, the myths we have clung to, must be sacrificed, the Hanged Man, the second card I pulled. We must allow our ego attachments, the myths we cling to, to be busted by the living waters rushing beneath the surface. Like a crucified being, we must sit upon the immovable spot of recapitulation that will allow the truths to set us free to new life. To achieve this we must allow for clear and truthful communication, The Magus, the third card I pulled, the winged messenger of Mercury, to deliver the truth clearly, to allow the Rites of Spring to be performed, busting through the old myths, bringing new life in abundance.


Chuck’s Place: Anxiety—The Curtain Call To Mythic Encounter

What form does your mythic encounter take? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
What form does your mythic encounter take?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I was energetically drawn to read Scott Stossel’s article, My Anxious, Twitchy, Phobic (Somehow Successful) Life, in the January/February issue of The Atlantic. Though totally appreciative of his full personal disclosure, I was disappointed in the outcome of his lifelong journey to lift this pervasive, crippling symptom from his life; his seemingly best cure—a combination of Xanax, Inderal, and either scotch or vodka—necessary prior to a speaking engagement in order to pull it off. It’s pretty clear that the subject of anxiety needs revisioning beyond the failed rational therapies of our time if we are to truly tackle this mythic giant.

Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell spent much of their lives demonstrating the relevance of myths to modern life. Carl Jung insisted that analsands discover the myth that governed their own lives that they might effectively find the path to their individuation. I propose that we treat anxiety as the curtain call to our personal myths, that is, that when anxiety calls, we treat ourselves to a mythic encounter, a mere mortal summoned to interact with the gods.

When anxiety calls we become helpless children, shuddering before a world of giants—adults—who have total power over our life and death. How will we fare in the encounter? Will we survive, be cared for, tossed aside, punished, welcomed, accepted? These are the fears and hopes we harbor in our smallness when we enter into our mythic encounters.

What will his/her mood be when he/she enters the room? I shudder.

Will my work be acceptable? I shudder.

Will I get promoted? I shudder.

Will I be expected to have sex? I shudder.

Will I be capable of having sex? I shudder.

Will the plane fall from the sky? I shudder.

Will I be able to perform? I shudder.

Will I lose it? I shudder.

Will I be attacked? I shudder.

Behind each of these anxious anticipations lies a mythic encounter, whether it be with a goddess, a good witch, a bad witch, an ogre, a wise god, or some other permutation of power that we feel inadequate in the face of. Our challenge, in this life, is to become the hero that takes the journey to secure our rightful place and find fulfillment. That journey, like all heros’ journeys, is filled with adventures into mythical realms; encounters with dragons, tricksters, witches and helpers that challenge and support our growing ability to hold our own as we follow the yellow brick road.

Anxiety is the necessary alarm that summons us to our challenge and ultimately asks us to turn off its shrill call. The tasks are formidable; all myths are epic and lifetime adventures. Sometimes the challenge is to unmask the larger-than-life wizard, like in Oz, to subdue a projection that generates anxiety. Sometimes the challenge is to marry into the gods, to experience the numinous and ecstatic without disintegration. Sometimes the challenge is to wrestle the giant to the ground, overcoming our fear that we are not enough, that we have no power. Turning off the anxiety alarm might also mean challenging ourselves to consciously learn to deeply relax and regulate the nervous system; the mythic encounter here being with the body itself.

Don't worry… be happy! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Don’t worry… be happy!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

In revisioning our lives in this world as, ultimately, anxious encounters with the mythic realm, we offer ourselves the opportunity to hone our beings to continue as mythical, magical beings in infinity beyond the human form. Thank you anxiety for waking us to our magical selves! May we all be heroes that accept where we are, our starting points of fear and trembling pointing out our immediate challenges.

Heroes come in all forms and each must face their own unique challenges. If we are here in this world, we are already heroes, even if reluctantly so. We all made it through the dark canal, cut the cord, and became adventurers in a new world. Don’t stop now!

On the mythic adventure,

Chuck’s Place: Life Flows Without Judgment

Life is a flow of energy. Judgment is a freeze frame of that flow of energy—an attempt to understand and value it—but clearly, judgment is not life. Life flows; judgment is static.

Life flows... and flutters...

Don Juan Matus pointed out that human beings are perceivers, perceivers of the flow of life energy. He hypothesized that human beings went on to become judgers because it was an efficient way to manage the challenging dimension of life energy. Don Juan believed that the ability to quickly interpret and categorize energy in solid form gave our ancestors an advantage in defending themselves.

We can experience this today by simply walking in the road. We might see a flutter of movement in the distance. We then quickly judge that movement to be a skunk or possibly a rabid raccoon. With this in mind we plan our approach. Funny how many treacherous leaves and fallen pieces of bark I’ve encountered as I’ve approached these flutters in the distance—the dangerous jungle of the street I live on!

Carl Jung, like don Juan, agreed that human beings are perceivers who perceive through the functions of sensation and intuition. Don Juan would likely call these functions organs of direct knowledge—knowledge obtained independently of the mind.

For Jung, the ego, or the mind, develops the discriminatory functions of thinking and feeling to decide what things are and what value they have. These are the freeze frame functions of judgment, the solid interpretations of energy that don Juan spoke about. With judgment we create exhaustive categories of what life is, how it works, and also assign all this knowledge a place in our lives.

In the modern world, the judgment functions and their host, the mind, have become so dominant that the channels to direct knowledge are lost, devalued, and even ridiculed.

How often do we ask our bodies directly what they need using our innate sensation function? More likely we must research the latest study or be told by a professional what our bodies need. How did our ancestors ever know what to eat before we had science and Science Diet!

Intuition is vision into that which can’t be seen—a direct tapping into the flow of life energy. Intuition completely bypasses the mind. The rational, judging mind has little use for intuition, as it only deals with solid facts—the freeze frames of life’s flow of energy.

What I observe is that life continues to flow regardless of how we judge it. Life is, forever and anew, approaching us with both challenge and support. Challenge may come in the form of loss and deep trauma and support may come in the synchronicities of guidance and encouragement, presented in signs all around us.

Most of the time, life energy is moving us along in the most amazing ways. Unfortunately, because we are dominated by the judging functions of the mind, we miss the magic always active in our personal lives.

I constantly notice how bogged down we become in feeling bad about ourselves. We miss how the daily events of our lives unfold in such a meaningful and helpful way. Even more amazing is how we are continuously supported in our growth and evolution, in spite of the negative judgments we daily place upon ourselves.

Life continues to both challenge and support us regardless of how brutally we judge ourselves or how low our self-esteem. The real problem is not in our flow of energy but in our judgments. Often our judgments are so fixated that they refuse to take in the reality of the life we are actually living. Our judgments generate a negative interpretation regardless of the facts.

It seems as if we fear that if we truly accept ourselves as acceptable to life, we will invite the wrath of some higher power to level us. The fact is that bad things happen to good people and bad people alike. Life happens as it will. Energy will flow regardless of our judgments.

Judgment has no control over life. Judgment does, however, have control over what we allow ourselves to see and know about the lives we are actually living. Judgment is the ultimate spin-doctor.

If you judge yourself to be bad or a failure today, life will still bring you supportive energy tomorrow. Life is deaf to judgment. The real question is whether you will be able to be aware of the wonder of the day and the amazing gifts being offered. All that judgment does is fog the screen, but beyond the fog life continues to both challenge and embrace without judgment.

Can you suspend judgment and show up for the real show? And, even if you can’t allow yourself to get too close to the real show yet, life continues to challenge and embrace you anyway. The truth is, you are wanted by life to live and explore fully. It’s why it brought you here, as the eyes and soul of ever-evolving infinity.

Without judgment,