Tag Archives: individuation

Chuck’s Place: Intent, A Natural Solution

A solution is reached when a problem is solved. Problems dissolve when a solvent is applied. Solvents break down barriers, divisions, and oppositions that result in a sense of unity and wholeness. This is known as resolution, or “re-solution” for the purposes of this blog.

The psyche is composed of many opposing parts, each with their separate points of view, separate needs, and separate desires. This is why, on some level, we are all bipolar beings, beings charged with the task of re-solving our polarities into a unified whole, what Jung called individuation.


Humans often ingest substances to re-solve the rigidities and polarities within the self that block unified action and fulfillment. A glass of wine might prove to be the dis-solving agent to loosen rigidity, relieve stress, quiet the mind, unleash vision, or allow us to open to the body and creativity, as we seek to transcend the wear and tear of daily life or the stilted energy of our deeply fragmented selves.

Wine is the highly celebrated fruit of Dionysus, the god of creativity and spontaneity. Wine is the transforming agent at the heart of the Christian mass. Wine is the agent that dissolves differences and takes us beyond our humanness. With it we commune with the gods. Of course, when we dry out, when the potion has run its course, we return to our humanness.

At the end of these journeys, however, the rigidities and polarities of our everyday lives return with a bad mood—a sobering moment to say the least. But, spiritual beings that we are, we long for the resolving qualities of dissolution again, a solution to solve our boredom and limitations, a solution to take us out—out of ourselves, beyond ourselves, or to feel fully free and whole within ourselves. We may find ourselves dependent on solutions, liquid or herbal, to solve our dilemmas.

The Allies are always ready to engage us...

The shamans of don Juan’s lineage recognized the power of these solvents. They realized that behind the solvents were entities that willingly catered to the desires of humans. The Ancient Shamans called these inorganic beings Allies, and they reveled in the belief that they could control these entities, who would reveal secrets like the fountain of youth to them. It was the contention of the New Seers of don Juan’s lineage, however, that this was the fatal flaw and downfall of those Ancient Shamans. The New Seers contended that the Ancients were duped into obtaining extraordinary powers in exchange for their attachment to these allies. In the shamanic world, this is the equivalent of addiction.

In the world of everyday life, we ingest all kinds of substances as we seek resolution to our problems, as we seek to achieve fulfillment and to transcend our human limitations. By our very nature we are consumers. We consume to solve and resolve our lives. From a shamanic point of view, this is a recipe for bondage, dependence upon substances that themselves consume the lion’s share of our lives.

The urge to seek resolution, wholeness, and transcendence is utterly healthy—it’s why we are here—and although it may be necessary to consume and engage the slippery slope of the inorganic world of allies, knowingly or unknowingly, there is a better solution: Engaging INTENT.

The shamans discovered Intent as an energetic wave that permeates the universe. We naturally engage intent to define our world. In our time, the mind has intervened to rationally limit our human potential. We engage intent largely to reinforce a known world and a known self. However, intent has the capability to open us up to the full realization of our true human potential, if we allow it to do so.

Intent seeks individuation and change

The mind, however, makes us nonbelievers, too shy to call out to intent, too impatient to allow it to unfold, too doubtful and judgmental to accept its path. In my experience, when we set an intent, simply by repeatedly intending it, it works its magic in the events, synchronicities, and encounters of our lives. Eventually, our intent is realized, though perhaps not as we might have expected.

In actuality, we constantly engage intent to create and reinforce the world we live in. We have become so entrenched in rigid definitions of a world of solid objects and unchanging self that we don’t believe anything else is possible and thus we limit our access to a greater world and greater solutions. We get caught in addictive behaviors as we turn to consuming solutions, seeking to gain temporary entrée into our hidden resources. Our access to intent and higher resolution, however, is limited by what we staunchly believe, what the mind rationally insists upon, and what the judgments of others reinforce.

We all have to encounter the inorganic world in our lives, we must all become consumers of one sort or another, but that world always exacts a toll in return for its gifts. Even as it asks us, “Are you really going to go down that path?” it entices us to do so, for its own energetic purposes.

The Ancient Shamans thought they could handle the power of the inorganic world, but the New Seers discovered that it was far more efficient to shift away from extraordinary powers in the human form and eternal life on earth to a new kind of freedom: no contracts, no attachments that could exact a toll on their energy, but instead total freedom to humbly continue without any special powers, other than that of engaging the pure power of intent on their continuing journeys in infinity.

When Carlos Castaneda got caught in the inorganic world of the Allies, don Juan, because he had refused to enter such worlds, didn’t know what to do. He turned to Carol Tiggs—another apprentice in Carlos’s group who had fully explored that world—and asked her to lead a mission to rescue Carlos. In this example, we are privy to don Juan’s process as he refused to break with his intent and be pulled into something that he knew was potentially harmful.

Intending and engaging a new energy for re-solution

Once we set our intent, even if we forget that we have done so, the energetics of it are set in motion. This is not a rational process; it’s an energetic process. It defies logic, it defies rationality, it defies the belief system of the mind. It is not connected to effort, will, goodness or badness—the constructs of change ordained by the mind. It does not involve hidden contracts to arrive at its solution. It’s part of our inheritance, our natural endowment, if we can allow ourselves to engage this most natural solution, with unbending intent.

It is truly an energy thing! Just do it, as the shamans do, and literally call it to your changing self.


Chuck’s Place: What Dream Am I In? Narcissus & Beyond

“When I reflect on the fact that I have made my appearance by accident upon a globe itself whirled through space as the sport of the catastrophes of the heavens, when I see myself surrounded by beings as ephemeral and incomprehensible as I am myself, and all excitedly pursuing pure chimeras, I experience a strange feeling of being in a dream. It seems to me as if I have loved and suffered and that erelong I shall die, in a dream. My last word will be, ‘I have been dreaming.'”—Madame Ackermann quoted from The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James.

The Greek mythological character Narcissus never engaged in actual life as he could not see or feel anything beyond his own reflection—he never transgressed beyond his personal mirror. The spring flower, narcissus, is named after him due to its narcotic properties, meaning to numb or put to sleep. Narcissus, the man, was unable to awaken from his own very personal dream.

We all share the fate of Narcissus, as our very personal lives are dreams projected upon the people and things on the outer world. Perhaps the greatest challenge in this life is to recognize the mirror we place in front of everything, as we, like Narcissus, live life as in a state of narcolepsy, fully asleep, actively living out our personal dreams upon the backdrop of the outside world.

Interestingly, there is evidence that even on the astral plane, though we might meet familiar others beyond the self, we remain locked within our personal dream, asleep to life beyond the self. We awaken from these encounters completely unaware of where we’ve been and who we’ve been with. Out-of-body explorer, Preston Dennett, concludes, from his own astral experiences as recounted in his book Out-of-Body Exploring:

“Most of my family members do not recall these visits. Only Christy has been able to recall one meeting. However, this appears to be normal. Most people are unable to recall their dreams, much less their OBEs…” [Out-of-Body Experiences]

“Many times I have found my extended family visiting each other on the astral plane. As we are sitting at a table, my mother [deceased in this world] is looking at me. She knows that I am lucid and that I will remember these meetings, while everyone else in the room thinks they are already awake, or they know that they are not at the point where they are able to remember. How somebody can know that they won’t remember is beyond me. However, when I’m there, I know I will remember.”

How does this play out in the world of everyday life—a world where we are utterly convinced that we are interacting and making real contact with others?

Our lives in this world are largely waking dreams interspersed with brief moments of awakening. For instance, our collective world dream of safety now—Osama is dead—lulls us back into complacency. Global warming, environmental catastrophes, contaminated food supply, rampant greed, all slip away into yesterday’s forgotten dreams. Mother Nature will stir us awake again with some new dramatic alarm clock and, in that moment, we will awaken and lift the veil of our collective dream. But, the challenge is whether we will stay awake long enough and remember—hold onto the truth—so we can move into a new, sustainable dream.

On an individual level, our lives are marked from birth, perhaps from before birth with our own personal life dream. Our mission in life becomes one of waking up to the encapsulated dream we are in, to the world outside that dream. Until that time, the world and all its players serve as our personal mirrors, reflecting the drama of our individual dreams.

This proposition may seem preposterous as we reflect upon the relationships we are in, the people we genuinely communicate with and love, the people we touch and who touch us as well. But even our most intimate connections are but impressions on the outer surface of the personal bubbles that encase us. When we touch we are still pressing upon the contours of our personal dreams, our personal mysteries.

Perhaps my dream is one of core inadequacy and unlovability. In that dream, I crave to be loved, to be worthy; yet, everywhere I look, I see rejection and disdain reflected.

The characters in my dream are cruel and abusive. I cannot drive my car without feeling that I am offending someone. Clearly the truck behind me is angry, that I am too slow. I don’t have the right to take up space in this world or even to slow down to make a turn.

There is someone I deeply love, someone I pine for. But I am so beneath her; I shiver to look at her. How could she ever be interested in me? I am utterly compelled to be near her glow in my thoughts, fantasies, and interactions as well, but I know I lack the beauty and skill she would require. I am destined to loneliness.

I am surrounded by men far superior to me. They dismiss me, they don’t even see me. They are reflections of everything she needs, mirrors of everything I am not. In this dream, my golden princess is beyond my reach; at best I might be her lowly servant.

The characters of this dream project themselves powerfully upon the world screen of waking life. So who really are these characters within the self, within the personal dream, that I am utterly convinced exist outside of me?

In this dream, the golden princess is my anima—she who holds the place of my deepest value; she who lures me to complete my dream, to enter a new dream of fulfillment and wholeness. She is projected so powerfully on a character outside of me that I am compulsively attached to HER as my salvation, unattainable that she might be. I am convinced this is not a dream. In this reality she is outside of me, not me. Without her, I am doomed.

The truth is, if I had her, I wouldn’t know what to do with her. I could never trust that she was really wanting me, the unlovable, the unwantable. I’d be terrified; I’d surely enter the triangle dream.

In that nightmare, I am haunted by other men—worthy men, real men who will steal her away. In that dream there is always the third character; he who reflects all that I am not, all that she wants. Am I a real man or simply a boy in the nursery, seeking mother’s comfort, fantasizing about becoming a knight and winning the fairytale princess?

The men in that dream are all mirrors of my personal shadow: reflections of conflicts, complexes, and potentials I’ve yet to discover within myself. Can I awaken to the truth that the real work is in lifting the inner veils of old beliefs within myself to discover who I really am? Can I take full possession of my shadow self, slay the dragon of the nursery, and enter a new dream, individuated, fully owning the gold of my inner princess; perhaps ready to fully awaken from my old dream, to have an amazing relationship with a real person outside my personal dream.

Face the dream, release the dream...dream on...

This imaginary dream is but one in a thousand personal dreams we find our lives encased in. We are all Narcissus, narcotically staring at our reflections in the pools of our personal dreams. We spend our lives fully acquainting ourselves with the dramas of those dreams, painted on the faces of the world. We are all offered moments of awakening: opportunities to discover our truths and our personal myths. Can we claim our full stories, our full selves and move into amazingly new possibilities—new dreams, new lives?

Hopefully, not asleep at the wheel,

Chuck’s Place: Black Swan—A Tragic Coming of Age

Please note: If you have not seen the movie Black Swan yet, you may not want to read this blog until after you’ve seen the movie.

A ballerina, the epitome of elegant, feminine beauty and form is swallowed up by a lethal schizophrenic process. This is the story of Black Swan.

I draw from Black Swan the archetypal underpinnings of coming of age: nature’s call to greater individuation; separation from mother; encounter with the shadow; and, in this case, a maladaptive initiation into full adulthood.

No one can successfully traverse the gateway to adulthood without a deep encounter with his or her passionate nature. With adolescence comes the rumblings and fires of our awakening sensual, passionate, and sexual natures. These are the impulses that will draw us beyond home and family into new life, new roles, and a deeper connection to our passionate selves.

Families that may have securely housed our innocence and forged our ego discipline and control can no longer provide a home for our evolving passionate natures. We must loosen the nursery tie to our families and allow ourselves to become full passionate, sexual beings, an essential part of our adult selves.

This road to passionate self is fraught with danger. Our childhood goals, or those of our parents for us, may rest upon the repression and sublimation of nature’s fires, energy channeled to forge a successful education and career. In the case of Black Swan, the goal of premier ballerina was presided over by a mother whose single focus was her daughter’s success. We must acknowledge the pressure on our fledgling ballerina of her suffocating mother parasitically stealing her daughter’s life to vicariously realize her own frozen, frustrated dreams of stardom.

All this being true, the deeper challenge is the daughter’s ambivalence about letting go of the safety of the nursery and opening to the thunderous pulsations of her own nature that will forever separate her from the security of mother’s womb. To go deeper into life she will need to cut this infantile protective cord that, at this stage of life, can only serve to entomb her in lifeless security.

We all struggle with a tie to this enticing but devouring security, symbolized by the protective mother in this film. She is the mother that welcomes our regressive turning away from the deepening challenge of life, as we fall into stages of victimhood, entitlement and depression. She soothes and numbs for the price of our spirit. We must rally the hero within ourselves to be delivered from such a regressive vortex, to take on the adventure and responsibility of discovering and integrating our whole selves.

The mother I speak of is an internal image within us all. She is the mother we constellate when fearfully confronted by life, be it in the world or within the hidden recesses of our body and soul. If our ego balks at taking on the challenge before us we activate this apparent nurturing great mother to self soothe and protect us from our fears. However, if we cling to regression, this supportive mother becomes the devouring mother who fully takes us back into the womb of depression. In fact, she becomes the death instinct itself—nature reabsorbing life energy for its own purposes, a mother consuming her child’s life. Our ontogenic imperative insists we choose life and be willing to fight for it, refusing the comfort of the regressive call. All responsibility rests with the ego. The devouring mother is not the ultimate antagonist. She is the consequence of the ego’s refusal of the call into deeper life.

Our ballerina does begin to fend off her symbiotic mother, however, largely through the onset of a schizophrenic process. Her ego cannot directly loosen its attachment to mother, however, her shadow—that is, the repressed part of herself that houses her rejected feelings, needs, and impulses—begins to assert itself by taking over her personality with aggressive acts of resistance and defiance. Her ego and shadow remain diametrically opposed, unintegrated, contributing to her fragmented, hallucinatory process.

The artistic director serves as the protagonist to allow the ballerina direct access to her sexual nature, essential to fully embodying the dance of the black swan. This challenge is deepened by the real life addition to the ballet company of a woman who is the perfect mirror of her latent, repressed, sensual self: her shadow. What ensues is a relationship part delusional and part real as our ballerina struggles to alternately merge with and fend off her shadow. Merger is expressed graphically by her hunger to sexually unite with her shadow.

Jung was clear that our shadow is always presented or symbolized by a person of our own sex, as our shadow contains qualities of self that are fully realizable in our conscious personality. In this case, the female shadow symbolizes our ballerina’s full feminine self, including her sexual and sensual self. Sexual union with her shadow is the most appropriate symbol and experience of this deeper self-connection. To merge sexually with a man without being able to unite with her sexual self will not resolve true ownership and connection to her sexual nature. An unintegrated sexual shadow is a major struggle in the sexual lives of many adults.

The psychic divide between ego and shadow broadens and is maintained by a series of psychological defenses. Our ballerina’s major defense to maintain her child ego stronghold is that of perfection. She works ruthlessly to perfect her technique. After four years in the ballet company she is the most perfect ballerina. However, her perfection cannot incorporate the spontaneous, passionate impulse of her deep nature and she falls short of the fluidity needed to dance the black swan. She fortifies her perfection with anorexia and purging as she desperately controls and holds on to her child’s body.

Even more gruesomely disturbing is her defense of body mutilation, whether it be scratching her back until it bleeds, peeling skin from her fingers until they bleed, or ultimately stabbing herself with glass. These various forms of self-mutilation serve several defensive functions. On a very primitive level, blood letting provides a release of the supposed illness in the body. In the case of our ballerina, the shadow impulse is projected upon the blood, which is released through tearing the skin.

Furthermore, the ritual act of scratching or peeling skin, leading ultimately to skin penetration and bleeding, serves as a displacement of a sexual impulse into a more acceptable form to the child ego.

The painful experience of bodily mutilation serves another defense called identification with the aggressor. Here, through bodily mutilation, she is able to both punish herself for her sexual impulses and feel the strength and power of living out the role of the repressive punitive parent.

Finally, I propose an archetypal basis for bodily mutilation present in all initiation rites of “primitive” societies. Initiation rites serve the societal and deep psychological function of ushering the initiate from childhood into adulthood. Wounding has always assumed a central role in initiation rites and shamanic journeys. The wound loosens the ego’s grip upon the familiar and the initiate is opened to a greater reality, presenting new possibilities to be incorporated into the existing sense of self. These ancient rites and journeys are also dangerous times, as initiates are subjected to energetic intensities that could easily result in “loss of soul” (schizophrenia in modern terms), or death. Hence, the caution of having elders other than the parents of the initiate overseeing and guiding is instrumental to this transformative ritual.

Our modern rational world has, unfortunately, lost its connection to these rituals, but the impulse to be initiated emerges spontaneously and misguidedly, in many cases of self-mutilation or fashionable body piercings. Through the loss of guided ritual, the modern world has required the developing ego of every individual to assume responsibility for accomplishing self-initiation. This deeper journey of initiation may be delayed, becoming instead a lifelong struggle to individuate. In fact, we may have a society of largely uninitiated adults. The far greater challenge of our time may be for the would-be initiate to defensively hold together the highly pressurized opposing energies within psyche and soma to allow for a lengthy individuation process, resulting finally in full adult initiation.

As our ballerina inches closer to opening night, her efforts to make contact with and unite with her shadow self become increasingly more dangerous and delusional. Even the moviegoer has trouble discerning which scenes are real and which are pure hallucination. Here lies, perhaps, the greatest failed defense: a full-blown schizophrenic process. I call it a failed defense because it serves to keep all the sub-personalities separate, at the cost of a central organizing factor: the ego.

The transition from late adolescence to early adulthood is one of the most vulnerable times in the life cycle for the onset of schizophrenia. The demands of adult roles, as well as the encounter with the shadow self, can shatter the personality into fragmented pieces like an earthquake creating new fault lines in the earth.

Only a conscious personality, able to loosen its hold on the child ego state, can allow nature to bring forth the deeper sensual self and make the transition into mature adulthood without serious damage. No wonder the initiation rites of yesteryear were so prominent in all societies.

In the case of our ballerina, though she completes the dance of both sides of the swan, white and black, they remain separate, unintegrated entities within herself and though the movie ends somewhat speculatively, to me, she went to her death having lived more fully in a fragmented way, but certainly not as a whole, integrated being.

Nature insists we move along the life cycle. This first major bridge, from child to adult, in coming of age, needs to be appreciated at a much deeper level in our modern world.

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

Until we meet again,

Chuck’s Place: Magical Books

Some books simply are magical. Every time I pick up any book of Carlos Castaneda’s—books I have read dozens of times over the past forty years—I encounter new knowledge. These books are alive with an energy that takes me deeper in my journey of awareness. They inevitably lead me into heightened awareness where my clarity of knowing is unparalleled. I experience directly the intent of the seers of ancient Mexico. Carlos channeled that intent in those living books by completely removing his self-importance from their pages. He reserves his words for precise descriptions of his experiences in the seer’s world.

Recently, while rummaging through the books at the local recycling center, I came upon the big book, AA’s “bible.” Though I’ve read countless works on recovery, I never actually read this book. This book is also a living book, a magical book. Unpretentious, blue, with no outer appeal, in fact, rather anonymous looking, it nonetheless called out to me.

As I began to read through its pages, I recognized the evolutionary intent it channels. AA is the most successful mass movement for evolutionary change on earth. The guidelines of that intent are clearly spelled out in shamanic terms. For change to happen one must beckon a power beyond the ego. The ego must then open to a shamanic journey with that power to experience genuine transformation. In preparation for that journey the guidance requires a complete loss of self-importance, in fact, in AA everyone remains on a first name basis only. No one is more important than the other—there is no hierarchy. No profit is to be made from the program and no one is rejected; all are equal. (I think Senator McCarthy was barking up the wrong tree when he was seeking out the true communists in America in the nineteen-fifties!)

Furthermore, the growth of AA was predicated on the energetic law of attraction, clearly spelled out in the book, attraction versus promotion. The guidance also strongly recommends one’s individual encounter with the truth in the form of a moral inventory and making of amends. This is a version of recapitulation that enables the seeker to put down old burdens, erase the constraints of personal history, preparing the ground for freedom and transformation.

In describing the magical origins of AA, the book chronicles the role of C. G. Jung. After failing to cure one of AA’s founders, the dejected patient pressed Jung for any glimmer of hope for what to do next to heal. Jung, offering little hope to this advanced alcoholic patient and without any further guidance, suggested he might experience a transformation through a spiritual experience. “Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences,” Jung told him. (p. 27 in Alcoholics Anonymous Third Edition.) He did indeed go out and have a spiritual experience that channeled the path to AA, and the rest is history, as chronicled in the big book, a living viable path for transformation.

Jung himself, the son of generations of protestant ministers, was faced with the personal experience that dogma and belief could not serve the needs of his soul. As Aniela Jaffé writes in C. G. Jung Word and Image: “In his eyes, the ability to believe was a gift of grace, one which he (Jung) and many others no longer shared. That loss justified the search for new approaches to the numinous.” This was the impetus behind Jung’s suggestion to his alcoholic patient to go out and seek a spiritual experience.

Jung himself recorded his own spiritual journey in The Red Book, another magical book. In this book Jung chronicles his personal confrontation with powers greater than himself, a series of numinous experiences that ultimately paved its own path to wholeness in the form of analytical psychology. This book, like other magical books, is bereft of self-importance and hints at a means for each of us to discover our own individuation.

The common thread running through the magical books of Carlos Castaneda, AA, and C. G. Jung is that they all channel the energy of transformation and evolutionary intent, offering access to a personal spiritual transformative experience. Whether the journey happens in the shaman’s world, supported by a nagual, or in psychotherapy under the guidance of a therapist, or in “the rooms” supported by the AA community, it is only a personal experience that will lead to genuine transformation and change.

These magical books speak to our time, where the grace of dogma and belief can no longer serve the spiritual evolutionary needs of a planet in crisis, in dire need of transformation. However, to go beyond dogma and belief and truly achieve transformation each one of us must individually take the journey, and see what happens!

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

Until we meet again,

#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,

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

NOTE: Books mentioned in this blog are available in our Store.