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An Ongoing Series

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Musing

There are many elements that distinguish Jung and his work. One of the most powerful forces in Jung's life was the impetus to re-create himself, again and again, old ideas constantly being reworked or replaced with the fecund muse of the moment. This force asserted itself in his life at the risk of death more than once, both physical and symbolic. Jung was a scientist, yes. A mystic, definitely. (I have never thought that a pejorative term in relation to his work.) And, an artist. He was an artist not because he painted or worked with stone, but because he was willing to risk death - rejection, ridicule, disenfranchisement, banishment, and loss of life - to find the truth of his life as the Muse wanted it to be lived.

My friend, Antero, wrote again (catalyzing this writing). He says:

An artist recreates him/herself over lifelong organic processes of molting his/her forms and creations -- the opus -- towards a state of perpetual emergence. As we know, the artist remains on intimate terms with The Fertile Void and when the incumbent pressures of his/her humanity swell forth, the artist ripens to blossom onto the canvas, the blank page, the empty stage, the silver screen. The true artist knows life itself as the alchemical prima materia and will, at the drop of a hat, change his/her life to best serve Creation...while asking her/himself over and over and over again:

Just what kind of life might the Muses find most appealing?

Jung didn't want to have his work institutionalized, at least not in the beginning. I don't really know what changed his mind, but I doubt he was ever completely enthusiastic about codifying something that grew out of his particular relationship with the Muse.

Indeed, how can one write the procedure manual, complete with regulations and by-laws, that tells us how to wrestle with the Angel when we meet him on the road to the Unknown?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A New Wrinkle

In addition to being in contact with Jungian colleagues around the question of hierarchy and groups, Eros, and more, I have also been in touch with some friends and colleagues from other disciplines. The following is a comment Antero Alli sent in response to The Third (the post below). I've known Antero since 1980. He is an independent film maker, an actor, a self-created scholar of ritual, an astrologer, and an original...of the highest order. He has come into my dreams a few times since meeting him, always carrying the spirit of the creative animus. His website address is at the bottom of these comments, wherein lie treasures.


The support you give these important ideas involving the cultivation of receptivity (emptying), empathy and the embodiment of Eros express a very high level of consciousness that, I believe, can only be absorbed, integrated and transmitted at the level of the individual. I do not believe this can ever be realized at the level of any institution, no matter what ideals that organization was supposedly based on, due to two key factors. Perhaps in ideal but not in reality.

First, it seems the spectrum of consciousness finds its highest point of expression in the individual experience and its lowest point in crowds, with the lowest common denominator to ratchet lower still with each increase in numbers. Secondly, there follows a natural (and some say regretful) progression from the numen of originating epiphany towards its gradual corruption of consciousness by encasement in beliefs, assumptions, doctrines, systems of hierarchy, defining typologies and stone tablet dogmas as demonstrated by the world's religions and also, by many institutes of higher learning.

In response to these two factors, I choose to participate in a silent revolution of self-work that nurtures and challenges the innate autonomy in myself and those I meet and create with. I no longer seek the respect, approval and regard of institutions of any sort. I do attempt to learn from their unique evolutionary cycles something about the corruption of what once began as a perception so pure as to stand naked before God and simply die to be reborn.

Antero Alli

In the end, I'm afraid I must agree with him. Perhaps this is my dilemma.

The Artist creates "something out of nothing," which is the process described in many a creation myth. New growth needs this impulse, "...the cultivation of receptivity (emptying)...." Without it, calcification sets in and things commence to rigidify.

Indisputably, I've been having considerable trouble with my joints lately.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Third

This will be the third in the series of reflections on hierarchy in relation to the practice of Jungian analysis. It will probably be the last. It is clear that exchange will need to come in another form. Most of the people I am in close association with are introverts and intuitives. Finding out how to click on the word at the end of each post that says "comments" - and then leave one - is a challenge. I completely understand this; if I didn't have this website, I would be in the same predicament!

With the exception of Coyote, who has left very inspiring commentary on the post before this one, other people's comments have gone unheard. At this point, I would like to share just a few exerpts with you.

From one colleague:

I don't know that I have much hope about institutions, including Jungian trainings, being able to retain the fresh inspiration that gave them their original impetus.

Someone else

...likens the current trend in Jungian institutional life to the decay of the Christian movement, passing over into an institution that was no longer about spiritual life at all, and sometimes has hurt more than it helped. I think his point of view is that these movements inevitably rise and fall. And meanwhile, out in the world, what is real is continually re-born in new forms. Institutions cannot contain the spirit, which is a good as well as a bad thing.

Many of my colleagues, in my view, have been extremely philosophical about certain things, in a good way. With another colleague, I commended her ability to be as objective as she was about different experiences, to which she wrote:

This group of analysts was much more unconscious, and much less willing to look at their unconscious, than I would ever have imagined. At first it was a shock. And then I just realized that they are who they are. It was like a reality check, a wake up call. To see through my own projections and expectations and just see regular unconscious human beings, no different than anyone else, even with all their "training" or "self-inquiry" or "depth work." So my attitude is not really a "high road;" I just don't have my projections or expectations any more.

Your [Cedrus']statement:

"It seems to me that it is a matter of heeding the call for true and deep compassion for other human beings and that if we are to become greater souls on this planet, embodied beings of spirit, we will need to extend ourselves in whatever way we can to this task."

really sums up the core of what we as analysts need to be attuning to. So few, I think, really come to this. It's sad because the potential good from what Jung brought is so enormous yet his followers haven't managed to really take the teachings and truly apply them.

And yet another colleague writes:

I no longer look to the Jung community for succor, outside of my deep personal friendships with individual analysts. But if I look to the collective, like you I find no nurture and I see the collective really as just another institutional glob. I just don't expect anything else anymore. I therefore do not participate in training. Just do my thing and work with our local
group to keep us going as professionals with a face in the therapy world.

On a radio program recently, someone (I'm sorry not to have made note of the reference) said that hierarchy needs and feeds on poverty and ignorance. I feel this is very true. In reference to our subject at hand, I feel that the poverty and ignorance we experience within this hierarchy is the inability to be open in the heart, and the inability to truly embody the creative impulse.

Revitalization requires tremendous courage and considerable wisdom, especially in light of the pressures to maintain the status quo for the sake of security and stability. The ability to revitalize also requires the courage to have an open heart. It requires that we encourage open-hearted exchange. My experience has shown me, and others as well, that there is a tremendous armoring of the heart in these trainings. Eros is spoken of and reflected on, but it is rarely embodied.

Virtually nowhere in the official Jungian training programs have I encountered a call for this way of learning, for the need to embody this kind of openness, openly, with each other. It is not part of our group as Jungians. It gets relegated to "the hour."

Of course there are exceptions. There are always exceptions. And for those, I am grateful.

Image Galleries

The following contain larger versions of images posted on these pages and are keyed to corresponding Reflections posts.

(Photos: Paul Anton Zorn)



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