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An Ongoing Series

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Path Less Followed

The following comments arise from my own personal feelings and observations. They are not necessarily fact, nor are they necessarily true for anyone other than myself.

In the last few years I have felt quite strongly that there is something amiss in the practice of analytical psychology. It's not the psychology itself as Jung created it that I feel is problematic. Not at all. Rather, it is what I perceive to be the hierarchical institutionalization of training and practice. It is also the form of the practice itself that feels, for me personally, more and more out of Tao.

This feeling coupled with many unfortunate events during the last few years, with and within my own particular group of Jungian colleagues, has led me to feel the need to retreat from an organized Jungian community. I feel less and less kinship with any hierarchy, and with what I perceive to be the casting-in-stone bureaucracy that apparently determines the current Jungian path - a path which previously thrived on the intricacies of soul rather than on the stoney dictates of institutionalization and bureaucracy. Internally, this has left me feeling lost and at sea for several years, wondering how I should be a Jungian in the world - if, indeed, at all. I am still looking for community, for communitas.

Interestingly enough, I have increasingly heard from other Jungians who feel the same as I do. They are flung far and wide across the globe - in Canada, America, Switzerland, Brazil. I am sure if I were to continue speaking with other Jungians around the world, I would find many more in still other countries.

My sense is that there is a great need to address what I, and apparently others, perceive to be amiss in the Jungian world. And we would need to address our concerns within a form and a forum that does not perpetuate the same hierarchical and institutional approach. An alternative approach would embrace the creative, non-hierarchical, round-table democratic practices that are deeply aligned with what can be described as the feminine principle, a way of perceiving that is greatly marginalized in a hierarchy. The new approach for our inquiry might be far less organized and ordered, allowing for the spirit of the moment to usher in the necessary focus. It would also include the world at large, directly, palpably. We would not be listening to someone give a formal lecture standing at the front of a room, reading from a paper. We would not, necessarily, be following a leader in an experiential workshop. Inquiry and presentation would be live, in the moment, attuned to the central question.

It would be a lot of other things but that will be the topic of other posts on this page.

When I say "feminine principle" I am not talking about women, or women's liberation or any other such thing. I am talking about the ability to be in relationship with each other equally, not hierarchically, placing greater value on process rather than product. I am speaking of an approach that embraces creative chaos, fosters the desire to receive each other through the heart, through Eros, and to have every voice truly heard.

It might be nearly impossible to run an institute in these ways, but it is, to a large extent, what many of the Jungian training institutes profess as the centerpiece when working with the psyche, with the unconscious: we are instructed to follow the movements of soul. The way I see it at this point, institutes do not, maybe cannot, practice what they teach.

In the coming posts, I hope to continue addressing this subject in whatever ways present themselves. Eventually, I hope to convince some few others who have similar sentiments to come together in an informal forum in a special place of culture and nature that draws and nourishes artists, scholars, soulworkers and laborers alike.

That might happen, and it might not. We will have to wait and see. In the meantime, I will "blog"!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are all part of a vast and inticate web, not a hierarchy. The sooner we accept this and begin to relate to one another from this image, the more likely we will heal the strands that tangle us up and bind us to one another. Perhaps the world wide web and a courageous blog is a good place to begin.

2:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you -your words reflect so much the vision of marion woodman in her work with Body Soul. Please look at her website and be encouraged in your hope and quest. Something in the therapeutic world is changing and I feel it is moving to heart and soul work as well as the necessary logos.
go well Beatrice bartlett London England

1:56 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It is good to hear from both of you! Thank you. Your care in responding is much appreciated.

I realize that for some, responding so publically is very difficult to do, so I doubly appreciate the energy you lend in keeping this series of Reflections going.

8:57 PM  

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