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The C. G. Jung Society of Queensland
Newsletter October - December 2003
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Newsletter                                                                       October - December 2003, No 37

 

 

Letter from the President

Irish Journey

 

 

 

 

Dear Member,

 

This letter comes half way through my two-month pilgrimage to Ireland, from where I migrated to Australia ten years ago. Although I have made a few short return trips during the intervening years, this trip, with my partner and children, is the most extensive.

 

This holiday brings into sharp focus my ongoing search for an identity in relation to both Ireland and to Australia. On departing Ireland in 1993, I felt a sense of relief in becoming free of the restrictive rules of Irish society, for example, the negative side of Catholic mores or the unwritten rule to never get above your station in life.

I read, in an Australian magazine at that time, the similar experience of a French chef moving to Australia. He described leaving behind the shackles of French cuisine. I left behind the shackles of Irish society.

 

But absence makes the heart grow fonder. This trip has brought home to me the many attractive qualities of Irish life. My effusively positive comments on Irish life have elicited the view from my partner, Robyn, that I must have suffered for 10 years from repressed homesickness. Possibly.

Ireland is now a mixture of the old world and the new. A writer, whose name I forget, wrote that driving west from Dublin to Connemara is like going from the 21st to the 19th century. Hardly so extreme, but while many Irish are engaged in the drive to accumulate wealth, others continue to let life carry them on its mysterious journey. A foreigner interviewed about Irish life was asked to name his favourite Irish saying. He proposed the phrase: I will do it. When asked to elaborate, he said, It usually means: I wont do it. Again, an extreme view but it does refer to the tendency in Ireland for people to travel a circuitous route before arriving at a particular goal, perhaps with the goal itself transformed along the way. A couple I know, one Irish and one American, who live in Ireland wanted to find grazing for their horse. A neighbouring farmer owned a suitable field. As far as the American was concerned, why not just go and ask the neighbour? But the Irish partner was reluctant to do so and considered carefully the importance of not putting the neighbour in the awkward position of having to refuse: she realized that the neighbour might have to refuse for several reasons. In the parlance of modern counselling, the Americans approach is laudably direct. But one might also take the view that, in a world where material gain is the bottom line, the Irish partners culturally-appropriate approach showed a refreshing valuing of relationship over materialism.

 

Both materialism and non-materialism are a part of Irish life. Yeats recognized and despised the Irish tendency to materialism fingers fumbling in a greasy till while he also recognized, and added to the wealth of its spiritual heritage.

 

My identification with Ireland goes deeper than a conscious sense of our different cultures. The land itself in Ireland holds me in a more nurturing way than I can ever seem to experience in Australia. I feel I have a place with the land in Ireland, perhaps even more so than with the people. Claire Dunne, a Jungian writer in Australia, refers to a private interview with a member of the traditional Irish music group, the Chieftains. When she asked him where he thought his music came from, he replied, Directly from the land.

In Australia, David Tacey has written extensively about the evolution of spirituality among white Australians. Ones relationship to the land, the mountains, seas and lakes, he writes, is integral to a new and living spirituality. Although I often feel myself to be the only one who suffers in the struggle to find a relationship with the Australian spiritual earth, it seems that a whole generation exists in a similar space. This must apply particularly to recent immigrants like myself. For me, it is clear that I do have a spiritual relationship with the earth, particularly in Ireland. In Australia, the relationship struggles to emerge into a form that is not yet clear, even ten years on.

 

Unlike native Australians, I lack a language and a cultural vessel to hold my experience. For example, in Australian aboriginal culture, the soul of a new baby is welcomed into the spiritual bosom of the land and the tribe. At an imagery festival workshop last year, I experienced the beautiful ceremony of my soul being welcomed by female aboriginal elders into the care of the earth and into the care of the traditional owners of the land. In some way, that experience gave me real permission to be in Australia and, more than that, it wholeheartedly welcomed me to Australia. The experience was all the more meaningful as it represented a generous forgiveness towards me as a member of the colonising people.

 

The difficulty for me in relating to the red earth of Australia is complicated by my personal and cultural experiences of colonisation. In moving to Australia, I have taken advantage of the original invasion by the colonial powers. In a sense, I became part of the invasion. In Ireland, I can comfortably assume the identity of the victimised native, a member of the Irish people oppressed by the British over hundreds of years.

 

Yet there is much in my Irish mythological heritage that provides a link with Aboriginal spirituality. For example, Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland was formed by Cu Chulainn scooping the earth from that place and hurling it into the Irish sea where it formed the Isle of Man. Many Irish mythological stories spring in a similar way from the landscape. There are places of wisdom, of battle, of sorcery and of spirit. Our family, including daughter Maeve, aged 10, visited the tomb of Queen Maeve, a huge cairn on top of a Sligo hill and visible for miles. True or not, our guide from Duchas, the organization in charge of national monuments, told us that the ethos of modern archaeology in Ireland means that the tomb, which has never been opened, will not be excavated out of respect for the spirit of Queen Maeve. However they believe that she would have been interred in typical Celtic fashion: standing up and facing defiantly in the direction of her traditional enemies.

 

Irish myths are often the stories of gods and heroes who range far and wide across the island and often into the depths of the surrounding sea and even to mythical worlds beyond the sea. How similar to the aboriginal dreamtime.

 

I cannot neatly conclude my letter. I am too much immersed in the journey still. In my early teens, I loved the Irish myths and stories. On this trip, I visit them once again, this time in the company of Peter OConnors book Beyond the mist:: What Irish mythology can teach us about ourselves. In the book, he writes: myths function like personal dreams, bringing into consciousness a renewed awareness. To reflect on myths is not a mere intellectual exercise, it is to reflect on oneself. Jung said, I had to know what unconscious or preconscious myth was forming me, from what rhizome I sprang.

Visiting Ireland and seeing the mountains and other places mentioned in the myths is a form of reflection that brings a feeling of almost being inside the myths, being part of them. This must be similar to the feeling of the aboriginal person towards his or her country and to the dreamtime.

Is it possible that I could ever relate in a similarly rich way to Australia? This seems to be my current quest.

 

Best Wishes,

Frank Coughlan

President

 

 

DEATH:  A JUNGIAN PERSPECTIVE     -     Rosaleen McDade

 

Towards the end of his life Dr Jung was interviewed by the BBC  where he was asked if he believed in life after death.  He replied quite flatly that he did.  He stated that his reason for this belief came from observing the dreams of people who were on the verge of death.  Their dreams seemed to take no note of their approaching death.  The data was the same whether people knew that they were dying or did not know that they were about to die. Dreams continued to comment on important factors in the life of the person, such as human relationships, failure to face certain aspects of his or her life, doubts and questionings, and emotional problems.

 

Jung went on to say that dreams seemed to ignore death as a relatively unimportant event.  There were no indications in the dreams of dying people that an event such as the termination of life was approaching.  Their dream life seemed to convey the idea that the quality of life present during physical life would continue after death had cut them off from outer sensory communication with other individuals.  At the deepest level the psyche seems to have little concern about its continuance.  It takes continuance of its life almost as a matter of course.

 It is also important to note that dreams of death seldom refer to the actual death of any individual.  Many people who start looking at their dreams become apprehensive when they dream of seeing themselves or someone else dying, being killed, or a victim of violence.  Dreams of ones own death, however, are usually saying that some aspect or part of oneself has died or perhaps needs to die.  When we dream of  another person dying, it almost never refers to that persons death.  It again refers to an aspect of ourselves which either is dying or ought to die. These dreams seem to treat death as a symbol of rebirth and transformation.

 

An impressive example of death and dreams is quoted by the Jungian Analyst Morton Kelsey (1979).

 

The last dream in her life was that she was sitting beside her bed where her corpse was lying and she no longer sensed any gravitation or pain and was at the same time in her room as well as in a wonderful sphere of beauty, overlooking the world.  She felt happy and was very angry that she awakened from this dream again....

 

But what intrigues one the most is the fact that out of all the dream material I have been able to collect, no evidence is given that death from the point of view of the unconscious means the total end, but is shown as a change, a separation from ones body.  The psyche points to the realm of the pneumatic man, often shown as being above the world and in itself a world of beauty.  This at least could teach us that the ego - the psychic entity - no longer is identical with all that is identified with its worldly life and passes into a situation of totality above the world.  The psyche containing the ego as nucleus of consciousness, seems not to be touched by death as modern man mostly thinks.  We are herein confronted with a mysterium and I can only say that the unrecognizable may be experienced (p. 119).

 

Jung sees the human psyche as a meaningful development from an unconscious matrix toward a growing consciousness.  There seems to be an evolutionary process going on within these psyches of ours.  The universe appears to be moving toward increasing individuality and consciousness.  To see this process terminated at death seems to contradict the very nature of the universe which is revealed in us.  The growth and development of our individual psyches in the next life seems to be a continuation of the development we see among growing human beings in this life

 

A Personal Story

 

I would like to share with you my recent experience of my mothers death. 

 

My mother was diagnosed with cancer and I  returned to the family home and lived with her for 2 months.  Being a Jungian Christian, and a counsellor/psychotherapist for many years I was particularly aware of the issues relating to a terminal illness and death.  I respected the views and wishes of my mother and family in not wanting to talk about it much.  However, I shared about my own and others spiritual experiences, my beliefs in the afterlife from the research I had read, stories of near death experiences, my  Jungian ideas and  dream analysis work.  Of course my mother and family thought I was quite mad as do many others - except for those who share these ideas - thankfully in a place such as our Brisbane Jung Society!!  My mother listened but admitted she did not really believe in any of it and she never had dreams!!!  As the medical opinion indicated my mother had another 6-12 months, I returned to Brisbane promising that I would keep in close contact and would be back to see her again.

 

After about six months of regular phone calls, one evening when I  rang my mother, she was  excited to tell me about the dream she had had - she had been to that place I had told her about.  It was so beautiful and so real she did not want to come back and was angry to find herself back in the hospice bed with all her pain and trauma.  It was a mystical moment for me listening to my mothers dream and her reaction to it.  I discussed with my sisters if it was time for me to return but they assured me that the medical opinion was she had a long time to go yet.  She had entered the hospice to get her pain level monitored as the doctor was having difficulty managing her pain and to give my sister some respite as my mother had become completely immobile.  The doctors said she could not stay in the hospice any longer as she was not terminal enough!!.  They recommended  she enter a  nursing home because of the high level of care required and  the expected length of time.

 

 My mothers dream and my own intuition led me to think I should go regardless of  the medical opinion.  I sought advice from a couple of hospices in Brisbane, and of course they said it was impossible to give advice as every persons situation was totally different.  However, the general opinion was that my mothers psychological wish to end her pain and her acceptance of death, which I took from her dream and her reaction to it, would not hasten it. It would be the progression of her medical illness which ended her life.

 

Then I had a dream which I worked on with my dream group.  I interpreted this dream as my letting go of something very valuable and meaningful in my life which I linked with letting go of part of myself  with my mothers  impending  death.

 

I immediately arranged a flight home and rang my mother.  After a few minutes she asked me if I was coming back and I was able to tell her the day and time.  This was the first time she had asked me and I thought it very synchronistic.

 

My mother was moved to a nursing home and I arrived the following day.  She suffered great pain and trauma.  Three days later her doctor said her level of pain was at an acceptable level and my mother still  had quite a long time to go.  She died  the next day asking God to please help her to help herself as no-one else would. She also asked me to help her to get to that place.  What place is that, Mum?  I asked.  That place you know, Rosaleen, that place you told me about, I have been there, that place is beautiful. 

 

A personal thank you to all those whom I have read or listened to and who have enabled  me to believe in the power of the  psyche and dreams  and  to share the experience of  my mothers death in such a profound way.

 

My mother knew more than the medical opinion and so did I!!

 

 

Rosaleen McDade

 

11.6.03

I would love to hear anyone elses special story

E-mail dadet@austar.com.au

 

Reference

 

Kelsey, Morton (1979). Afterlife. New York, Paulist Press.


Upcoming events at the Jung Society

 

A Reminder and a Correction

September 27 workshop with Rosie Stave

Embracing the Shadow: Introducing The Work of Byron Katie

 

will be held at Hillbrook Anglican School, 45 Hurdcotte St., Enoggera

(NOT in the Rosicrucian Hall as advertised in the last Newsletter)

 

Saturday September 27, 2003, 9:30 am 5:30 pm

Members and concession $70; non-members $80

Information and reservations: Krystyna (3372 2379) or Marie (3371 1285)

 

October 2003

Jeff Power

Damn the Rationalists . Full Dream Ahead!

Cultural story as suicide prevention

 

Thursday October 2, 7:30-9:30 pm, St Marys Community House, Merivale St, Cn of Peel St, South Brisbane

Members and concession: $5; non-members $10

 

 

Australia is performing brilliantly in economic terms but failing in social terms. Our greatest threat is from ourselves, not from terrorist attacks. Is it possible to re-vision our culture in a way that energizes us with a sense of collective purpose in order to tackle the many complex social issues amongst us? This talk will offer some possible ways forward.

 

* The role and function of cultural story in individual lives;

* The way cultural story works like a dream in the background;

* The rise and dominance of Rationalism as a particularly limiting cultural story;

* How Rationalism has stultified creativity from politics to psychology;

* How Rationalism has rendered good willed people bewildered and powerless in the face of many social issues including depression and suicide;

* The suicidal impulse as a partial desire for a transformation beyond the limits of rationalism;

* Suicide and terrorism as cultural shadow;

* The role of the Death Experience in individuals and culture;

* The surprising emergence of a New Cultural Story or Dreaming across many disciplines;

* The Ecological Self as the goal of transformation.

 

This talk will draw together groundwork that has already been done in the fields of Spirituality, Jungian Psychology, Mythology, Film and Literature. Concrete steps will be put forward towards a New Cultural Dreaming that places spirituality at the heart of culture and affirms current work in suicide prevention. 

 

Jeff Power is a therapist in private practice consulting with individuals, couples and organizations. Up until recently he was the Manager of Telephone Counselling Services at Lifeline Gold Coast. He is currently completing a Masters of Analytical Psychology (Jungian Studies) at the University of Western Sydney. In his spare time he dreams of being a fish in water and not feeling like a fish out of water.

 

 

Upcoming events at the Jung Society

 
 
November 2003

Sarah Dunk

Jungian Reflections on the White Migrants Sense of Place in Australia

 

Thursday evening November 6, 7:30 9:30 pm.

 St Marys Community House, Cn Merivale and Peel St, South Brisbane

Cost: Members and concession: $5; non-members $10

 

Drawing upon two patients' material, Sarah will be reflecting upon the challenges facing the white migrant population in finding a sense of Self and Place in Australia. She will consider the unconscious defences in the Australian psyche against the pain of rootlessness, and the search for a 'white fellas dreaming'.

 

Sarah Dunk has been qualified as an analytic psychotherapist for 15 years. She is currently practising in Lismore, northern NSW. She completed her training, which included an eight year Jungian analysis, and supervision in the UK. Apart from maintaining a private practice, Sarah regularly teaches on the theory and practice of psychoanalytic thought and is keen to apply analytic understanding to cultural events.  

 

 

.December 2003

Leon Petchkovsky

Jung and the Dreaming

 

Jung and the Dreaming: analytical psychology's encounters with Aboriginal culture. An ethnopsychiatric perspective, by Leon Petchkovsky, Craig San Roque and Manita Bescow

 

Thursday December 4, 7:30-9:30 pm

St. Marys Parish House, Merivale St, Cn Peel St., South Brisbane

Members and concession $5; non-members $10

 

This presentation is based on a paper published in the recent Jungian edition of the International Journal of Transcultural Psychiatry (June 2003), which reviews some contributions from the Jungian analytic tradition to indigenous ethnopsychiatric thought in Australia. (Copies will be available from the C. G. Jung Society of Queensland). The authors review Jung's writings on Aboriginal culture, then describe some of their own field-work findings.  Acknowledging that the contemporary post-Jungian tradition is pluralist, they propose a notion of "Jungian sensibility". They discuss some of the ways in which the "Jungian sensibility" might contribute positively to Aboriginal mental health, with especial reference to "theories of subjectivity", and note that some Aboriginal people find the Jungian world-view very compatible with the Aboriginal one.

 

Leon Petchkovsky MB BS FRCPsych PhD is a graduate of Sydney University Medical School and a Senior Specialist in Psychiatry. He is currently an Associate Professor of Psychiatry with the University of Queensland. He works primarily in the Public Sector as Consultant to the Extended Care (Rehabilitation) programme at Robina Hospital, and is also Director the Psychotherapy Programme GCIMHS. He trained as a Jungian analyst in London, with the late Dr Irene Champernowne, who was renowned for her annual Zurich Institute lectures series on Art Therapy (the Pictures from the Unconscious series). He has spent many years in Central Australia with his colleague Dr Craig San Roque, working with indigenous mentors.

 

This is also our traditional end of year Christmas party!

We will supply the liquid refreshments.

Please bring a plate of finger food to share if you can.

 


 

JUNG AND CHRISTIANITY   -  By  Rosaleen McDade

 

 

Carl Jung could well be hailed as one of the greatest apologists for Christianity the twentieth century has produced.  He could equally well be dismissed as one of its greatest heretics.  Jung's conflicts with theologians are legendary.  They fill many pages of the two volumes of his collected letters and are never far from the surface in his extensive writings on the psychology of religion (Dourley, 1981, p. 7).  He understood his work to be in the defence and service of the religious nature of man, a nature he sought to portray as a wealthy source of living symbols including the Christian ones.  He hoped to provide the Christian with a deeper appreciation of his own symbols by demonstrating their source in the deeper reaches of the psyche.  By thus showing the believer his continuity with the universal expressions of the human spirit both prior to and beyond Christianity, Jung sought to give new life and relevance to what often becomes dead dogma.  Yet his views are widely offensive to the collective Christian consciousness.

 

The reality of religion, Jung affirms, is embedded in the fabric of the human soul, and that it finds inevitable expression in the consciousness that arises from such depths.  As such, religion cannot be eradicated from the human condition.  He contends that the reality of religion, when it loses its specifically religious trappings, reappears in the guise of political, social or philosophical and cultural notions.  He had an equally clear perception of the ambiguous nature of religion itself and a conviction that it could kill as well as enliven, split as well as heal, and fragment as well as make whole.  In his eyes man was not faced with the choice of being religious or irreligious.  His only real option was his free and responsible facing and coming to terms with the religion-engendering forces within his life.  These forces might appear as obviously religious or they might appear in the compelling attractions of the apparently nonreligious dimensions of life.  But appear they would and with the force of the suprahuman, with the force of the gods.  The only question then, was not whether man would be approached by the divine in life but whether his response to its approach would destroy or support him.

 

Personal Experience of God

 

Jung's concern for the spiritual needs of his time led him to call for a restoration of the sense and meaning of religion itself and for a consciousness that could again appreciate and respond to the symbolic, the native language of religion, as the two major preconditions for the revitalization of religion in any of its positive manifestations including Christianity.  This sense of religion, Jung argued, could be restored only if man could regain his experience of himself as an image of God.  This recovery for Jung meant a heightened experience of the immediate presence of God to human consciousness and being.  Psychologically, for Jung this meant the identification and recognition of those structures and forces within the psyche from which man's experience of God both could and has to arise. The experience of the deep recesses of the psyche within life is the basis of a humane perception of God beyond life.  The sense of divine indwelling is the basis for man's sense of a transcendent God.  Jung argues that the God hidden in man's unconscious becomes incarnate through human consciousness and in so doing revitalizes, balances, and enlarges life, even as the symbols of death and resurrection are most apt to describe the dynamics of this interaction.

 

The self is the centering force within the psyche which brings together the opposites or polarities whose dynamic interplay makes up life itself.  The greatest of these polarities are consciousness and the unconscious.  The nature of these polarities, when functioning in creative reciprocity, is to produce a centre of the personality, a self, which is neither the ego nor the unconscious but the product of their union.  From one perspective the self precedes the unity of ego and unconscious and works to bring it about.  From another perspective it is the result of the unity of ego and unconscious.  In this sense it exists from the outset of life but is only achieved, and then only approximately, at the end of the process (p. 17)

 

 Jung's psychological perspective points to the genesis of all religious experience in an experience of the numinous, grounded in the impact of the collective unconscious on the ego.  He is describing the imprint of the divine on the human.  In Jung's more measured treatment of the origin of the numinous, he points only as far as the apparently inexhaustible capacity of the unconscious to throw up discernibly similar images of God on a consistent and universal basis.  Jung grounds this capacity in the archetypes of the collective unconscious.  In so doing he confines himself to the empirical evidence derived from patterns of images that point to a common origin.  He absolves himself from speculation on the actual existence of God, though in less guarded moments he hints that the archetypes themselves may penetrate to the very ground of the universe.

 

Paul Tillich, the Christian theologian, goes beyond Jung in this respect, taking the firm position that man's sense of God is made possible only because man's being is grounded in God's. Thus the presupposition of man's search for God is his always ambiguous possession of and by Him (p. 19).  This intimacy of  God and man is at the centre of Tillich's theology. Thus man, by the very nature of his existential situation, asks after God.  Tillich believes that the experienced answer to this quest is the substance of the Christian revelation and the meaning of Christ.

 

Mysticism and Symbols

 

Jung points to the need for a recovery of the mystical tradition within Christianity and endorses those aspects of the Platonic Christian tradition that point to a presence of God within man.  Describing the mystical experience, Jung writes: "This amounts to a permanent union with God, a living in his kingdom, in that state where a preponderance of libido lies in the unconscious and determines conscious life" (p. 43).  This state is described by Jung as the experience of God no longer working from without but from within.  In speaking of the soul and its role in symbol formation, Jung places it as a mediatory role between consciousness and the unconscious, so that it belongs partly to each realm, or as Jung puts it "partly to the subject and partly to the world of spirits, i.e. the unconscious" (p. 43).

 

He said that symbol formation was grounded in the archetypes of the collective unconscious and symbols rise to consciousness with the same numinosity that invariably accompanies religious experience.  Speaking of the power of Christ's teaching Jung writes:  "The reasons why Jesus' words have such great suggestive power is that they express the symbolical truths which are rooted in the very structure of the human psyche" (p. 41).  As a therapist Jung felt it necessary to point his patients to the inner sources of healing in the psyche which constitute at the same time the basis of religious experience.  He writes "The psychotherapist today must make clear to his more educated patients the foundations of religious experience and set them on the road to where such an experience becomes possible (p. 41).  Jung confesses an interest in religious symbols strictly for therapeutic purposes.  His aim is to enable people to think symbolically once more.  For Jung the recovery of such a capacity is the precondition for again participating spiritually in the substance of the Christian message.  The point Jung makes is that Christians, in understanding their myth and its symbols literally, have lost both the spiritual impact of these symbols and contact with their own deeper humanity from which the symbols arise and to which they should lead.  A further consequence of what Jung says here is that the specifically Christian symbols are universal, at least potentially, and hence should appear both prior to and beyond their specifically Christian expression.

 

Jung held the symbolic life in the highest esteem.  It provided man with access to a higher and balanced humanity, experienced as much as gift as accomplishment.  The symbol comes into consciousness when the personality is under strain and that its effect is to heal suffering. It arises to meet an imbalance or a split in the personality and to give an experience of the unity that lies beyond the opposites.

 

Christ is seen by Jung as a symbol of man made whole and, as whole, imaging God, an ever-present possibility and native tendency in the human psyche.  Though Jung criticizes the absence of a dark side in the Christ image, he sees Christ as an image of man at one with the totality of his being, encompassing his instincts and his unconscious.  Such a man is also in some real sense at one with all of humanity and human experience.

 

Jung speaks frequently of the need to regain the sense of the Christ within  "the symbolic reality of Christ is an inner psychic fact and the search for and experience of this Christ lie at the heart of the Western, gnostic, alchemical and Christian mystical traditions" (p. 68).  In describing the experience of the inner Christ, Jung speaks of a power greater than the ego grasping the ego, rather than the ego grasping this power.  "Man cannot conquer the tremendous polarity of his nature on his own resources; he can only do so through the terrifying experience of a psychic process that is independent of him, that works him rather than he it" (p. 68).  This process would be the inbreaking power of the unconscious in the interests of the self, symbolized in Western tradition by the Christ figure.  In theological terms, Jung is saying that the ego is not the author of its own redemption or wholeness.  Rather this healing is experienced as coming from a power greater than itself.  The consequence of such conversion, or indeed the substance of it, is a state of psychic integration which Jung closely relates to grace.  He describes this state as "the original feeling of unity, which was integrally connected with the unity of the unconscious psyche (p. 68).

 

Though Jung gives fresh vitality to the symbol of Christ by showing its universal and holistic aspects, he had serious reservations about it.  He feels the Christian conception of God denies His dark, irrational side, and the symbol of Christ does not account for the dark side of the self, the dark side that must be assimilated in the process of individuation.  In Answer to Job, Jung illustrates a dual aspect in the undifferentiated God of the Old Testament, but when this God became incarnate, and so defined in man, His incarnation itself forced the moral differentiation into the wholly good in Christ and the wholly evil in Satan.  Jung goes on to show both the gain and the pain of such differentiation.  Its gain was to give to man a sharp awareness of the split between good and evil.  Jung willingly concedes that without this split, 'human consciousness could hardly have progressed so far as it has towards mental and spiritual differentiation (p. 70).  The pain attached to such progress is that man is now suspended on the cross between the opposites, symbolized in the manner of Christ's death (p. 70).  Out of such sustained moral suffering maturation develops, often led on by the symbol that can integrate or unite the apparently irreconcilable opposites.  Christ as a personification of the light side of the Godhead brings to consciousness the problem of the integration of the dark side. Jung seeks a solution to this dilemma in the Spirit as uniting the split in the moral opposites symbolized by Christ and Satan.  The Spirit is the fourth, bringing together the opposite sons of the Father, Christ and Satan. "Looked at from a quaternary standpoint, the Holy Ghost is a reconciliation of opposites and hence the answer to the suffering in the Godhead which Christ personifies" (p. 70). Thus for Jung the Spirit unites the exclusively spiritual reality of Christ with that which is identified with the devil, including "the dark world of nature-bound man", the chthonic side of human nature excluded by Christianity from the Christ image (p. 70).

In a letter Jung wrote in 1953 to Fr White, he emphasises that the meaning of the Christ symbol is still very relevant, for it focuses on the opposition between good and evil.  He writes "Forget for once dogmatics and listen to what psychology has to say concerning your problem: Christ as a symbol is far from being invalid, although he is one side of the self and the devil the other" (p. 114).

 

 

Body, Soul and Spirit

 

Christianity, Jung realized, has constellated the opposites of absolute moral good in conflict with absolute moral evil.  In doing this it has freed the soul from enslavement to the instinctual but at the risk of alienating man from a large part of his nature.  In Mysterium Coniunctionis, Jung suggests that the soul, once freed from the bodily and instinctual life through its union with the spirit, must be reincarnated in a second conjunction.  Only then can the experience of unity with the whole take place.  Such an experience would be characterized by a sense of "at oneness" or atonement, and the realization that the bodily and spiritual complement rather than contradict each other (p. 71).

 

 Elaborating further on Jung's tripartite division in man, he suggests that this consists of body, soul, and spirit - categories he finds in the writings of Gerhard Dorn, a mediaeval alchemist.   In this framework the spirit is a sort of "window into eternity," the soul is an organ of the spirit, and the body an instrument of the soul.  In the process of the developmental unification of the psyche three conjunctions are to take place.  First the soul is separated from the body and united with the spirit.  This conjunction is called mental union.  It is a stage of introverted withdrawal from the distractions of the turbulent sphere of the body.  In alchemical literature it is sometimes likened to death.  Jung relates it to the psychological process of coming to terms with the shadow, which results in an extension of consciousness and the governance of the soul's motions by the spirit of truth.  In Jung's opinion it was to this stage that Christianity led and it remains Christianity's legitimate and substantial contribution to the development of human spirituality.  The second conjunction is that of the unity of spirit and soul with the body,  so that the spirituality of the first conjunction may be grounded in full and bodily participation in life.  The third and final conjunction is that of the spiritual body with the totality, symbolized by the expression unus mundus.  For Jung this symbol points to a creative source or unified centre which underlies and gives rise to all multiplicity.  It may be mentioned, incidentally, that Jung viewed the symbol of the Assumption of Mary as pointing to this unity of the spiritualized soul with the body, and through the body with the totality (p. 83-84).

 

Jung regarded psychic health as ultimately involving the reconnection of the individual with a reality beyond himself.  The process of individuation, the movement towards the self, is endless, since the unconscious is inexhaustible.  The unification of the personality is dependent on a centre or self, which knits together the disparate parts of the psyche and does so on a universal basis.  This self, says Jung , has  Christ as its most powerful symbol in Western religious consciousness.  There is a religious connotation to the process of becoming whole and this process is seen as the substance of salvation (p. 77).

 

Speaking symbolically, Jung is very sensitive to the theme of the suffering participation of the Godhead in creation.  In the process of becoming whole, both the ego and the source of its being in the unconscious enter into a mutual suffering.  "The whole world is God's suffering" writes Jung  "and every individual man who wants to get anywhere near his own wholeness knows that this is the way of the cross" (p. 77).

 

If God is mediated through the unconscious, this condition would be one in which the ego is fully pervaded with the sense of God.  It is a psychological explanation of what is described in apocalyptic literature as the realization that God is  'all in all'.  Jung sees this as the direction in which personal and universal psyche moves, a state in which opposites such as Christ and devil, good and evil, are transcended.  In Jung's revealing letter to Father White, he advises him to stay in the Church and to make known to the times the full import of the symbol of Christ and the meaning of the conflict with Satan.  Jung obviously felt that White shared something of his vision of the coming of a new age of consciousness, an age of the Spirit, for he points out that some must stay behind their vision in order to help and to teach.  Thus the constellation of the opposites, and the implied challenge to bring about their unity on a higher spiritual plan is for Jung close to the substance of the contribution Christianity has made to the human spirit and to this aion.  Only if this challenge is met can the Christian age be transcended.  Indeed, Jung is of the opinion that such transcendence is itself the work of God.

 

The state of the Holy Spirit means a restitution of the original oneness of the unconscious on the level of consciousness.  That is alluded to, as I see it, by Christ's saying:  'Ye are gods'. This state is not quite understandable yet.  It is a mere anticipation (p. 100).

 

Jung's vision demands an ongoing battle with the shadow, the internalization of the conflict between the opposites, in the expectation that the attendant suffering will give birth to the transcendent function or self.  Responsibility means the conscious confrontation of the powers, demonic and divine, which man meets in his own psyche.  Thus the realization of the age of the Spirit depends to no small extent on man's moral response to himself and the powers that rage within.  In this vital work performed in the depths of the human soul, the psychological task and the religious task are one (p. 101).

 

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Contact dadet@austarmetro.com.au

 

References

 

All page references are to: Dourley, John P. (1981). The psyche as sacrament:  A comparative study of C. G. Jung and Paul Tillich.     Toronto, Inner City Books.

 

 

Margaret Pope reports on our August and September events

 

 

Some Reflections on Contemporary Theories of Consciousness and Analytical Psychology

Patrick Burnett

 

Patrick posed some very challenging questions that have left me still pondering.  How do we know things?  Through science (objective methods) and through our own felt experience (subjective methods).  Patricks talk examined the nature of consciousness from both scientific and Jungian perspectives.

 

The difficult question is, How do I have a sense of self?  Brain physiologists say consciousness is nothing but a by-product of electrical activity in the brain.  On the other hand, phenomenologists are not interested in scientific reductionist theories. But does it have to be either or?

 

Quantum physics has shown that all matter, including the human brain, has a dual nature at the sub-atomic level.  Thus we are left with the understanding of consciousness as having a dual nature.

 

Jungs idea was that consciousness is split between directed thinking (left brain, objective) and undirected or fantasy thinking (right brain, subjective).  Analytical psychology is more concerned with the subjective, the image versus the word, the nuance.

 

 

Inanna: The Alchemical Goddess Varuna Dargan

 

Varuna led us on the journey of individuation through the story of Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth.  What a ride, my head was practically spinning by the end!  We followed this ancient Sumerian Goddess (from around 6,000 years ago) on her journey into the underworld through the seven gates where she had to gradually remove all jewels and garments, the trappings of power and identity, before meeting her fate.

 

The tale of Inanna can be understood as a dream where every part is a part of us.  Inannas journey is our journey of individuation.  In the underworld we reconnect with the unconscious and recognise the shadow and its power.  Despite our fears in this dangerous place, we nevertheless continue with the struggle to give birth to our true personality.  It is never easy, and it was comforting to be reminded by Varuna that the essential thing is the struggle (or work or opus) towards the goal of individuation.

 

                                                                                                            Margaret Pope

 

 

 

Bulletin Board

 

 

Workshops with Jeff Power

 

Lifeline Gold Coast,  2741 Gold Coast Highway

Cost :$5.00.          Enquiries:5554 6120

 

Thursday October 9, 7.00- 9.30pm

 

ReVisioning the Darkness -  Listening to Depression

 

Through the use of story, poetry and film this talk will attempt to re-vision the experience of that dark mood: depression. Alternative and more meaningful ways of viewing depression will be put forward that both complement and challenge the prevailing medical and psychological stories.

 

Thursday October 30, 7.00 9:30 pm

 

Trickster and  the Subversive Imagination -  A spoken word performance

 

In mythologies all over the world the trickster is a personification of feeling in between or in transition. Trickster lives and operates on the outskirts, the boundaries, on the edge of the mainstream. By understanding this figure an important part of our everyday experience can be clarified, supported and nurtured. This talk will outline the role of the trickster figure as it appears in mythology, film art and religion with a special focus on what this might mean for our everyday lives.