I have regained access to this site while in China and have found that you, my readers, have continued to visit this site since it went into hibernation last November. Since that time, about 6,000 visits to this site have been recorded. As many of you already know, I have shifted to a new site while keeping the same appearance and the same purpose. I will continue using the new site of Through a Jungian Lens as it is now hosted at my own domain name: http://rglongpre.ca/jungianlens/ As was my practice here, I continue to post almost every day. I am slowly moving my blog posts from this site to the new site with the intention of having all the posts together in one place. I now have all of my posts from the fall of 2010 moved. For those who have been following at this site, I will continue to leave the original posts here as they have all the comments in place. I haven’t had any luck in migrating the comments for each of the posts. Thank you for continuing to make the words and photos I have placed here of some use to you.
PS In case you are wondering, this photo was taken in Cambodia earlier this month. I have just returned from four weeks of travel within IndoChina.
The new home for Though a Jungian Lens is now found at http://rglongpre.ca/jungianlens/ I will be moving all of the posts and comments from this blog site to the new one before too long. I will leave this site here as is with the hopes that in finding it, others will then be encouraged to look for the new location. As of today’s date, about 40,000 visits have been made to this version of my blog site, a good number. I am surprised that more than three thousand have continued to visit my site here since the last post. I look forward to the future with your visits to my new site.
As I wander the streets of Changzhou with my camera, I get to see “real” life unfold before me. For example, near the city’s People’s Number One Hospital, I saw this monk talking with an older woman. The deal is both about donating to the home temple of the monk as well as paying for prayers that will be beneficial to the buyer or a loved one. For me, this is one of the shadow sides of “religion.”
Shadow and light – one exists only in relation to the other. In terms of the spiritual, we conveniently place both the shadow and light outside of “self.” We have a God of Light and we have the Lord of Darkness. As I said, these are convenient construction, projections, of what belongs within. In my opinion, there is no external God, nor is there an external Satan.
“By placing the possibility and necessity of humanity’s religious experience in the processes of archetypal within the psyche, Jung identifies the archetypes as humanity’s God-makers and faith givers. Most Western theologies identify God not only as the source of revelation but also as the author of faith in that which is revealed. Thus faith or the grace of belief, as well as what is believed in, is placed well beyond the potentially manipulative grasp of the individual ego.” (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, p.23)
“God-makers” and “faith givers” – powerful words. All god-heads are creations of the collective human psyche. Religion emerges to give substance to the projected energy. And in relief, most give up responsibility for their spiritual need. Like children, most look for a “father” or a “mother” to take care of them, to take away their hurts and to give them answers. The more impressive and different the costume and the setting, the easier it is for most to “believe” in their projected spiritual nature. Answers exist, if one only believes. Since it is too hard for most to hold the tension of “no answer, only question,” many accept these religions in spite of the niggling voice within that is pushed further and further into the shadow realm, denied. This leaves a belief that is tainted with darkness, a darkness that gets acted out in the collective realm, over and over again.
And it all seems so innocent, as in this image – a monk offering hope to an old lady.
“It would be a regrettable mistake if anybody should take my observations a a kind of proof for the existence of God. They prove only the existence of an archetypal God-image, which to my mind is the most we can assert about God psychologically. But as it is a very important and influential archetype, its relatively frequent occurrence seems to be a noteworthy fact of any theologia naturalis. (Jung, CW 11, par. 102)
And yet, we do believe something no matter what we say or don’t say. Most pay little attention to belief or the archetype. Rather than think about it, most just let the churches and their priesthoods do the thinking for us. We have other, more important things to worry about such as our families, our jobs, or the physical needs that often become matters of life and death. It seems that the question of God only assaults us in youth, especially adolescence, and once we have turned the corner of midlife., and only then if we have done our “work” so as to have the time, energy and resources to tackle the question of God.
This quest for a God is as old as the human race. We have looked for him or her in the stars, in the animated world, in the sun and the moon. But rarely do we dare to look within for the presence of a God. We want our God to be more than the frail and fallible beings that we find ourselves to be. And so, we push God further and further from our centre of self. We build the most magnificent structures imaginable so that they can point towards this God at distance. We decorate our imaginings with the most precious of objects and materials we can find so that this God will not be associated with the baseness that we can see and feel of ourselves. And in the process, we lose God.
I lost God and now I must begin to look downward and inward in search of the wellsprings of the spirit which I know must be where I will find this God. This is my quest.
I took this photo yesterday. It has been a while since I was able to see the moon because of clouds and pollution. In spite of the things that hide, what lies hidden is full, just like this moon doesn’t lose its mass or add to its mass as it moves through its phases. What gets in the way of awareness is simply a lack of consciousness about the darkness, the shadows, the unconscious. It is about projection, about trying to “imagine” what is otherwise unknowable.
For me, it is almost what I can see in terms of the spiritual centre of self, the wellsprings of the religious principle. I know its there and I can only catch a hint of its existence. I know the moon is fully there though I only see a thin sliver of its light. And that sliver is all I need – not just “faith” that there is a moon. For those that are used to me writing so much more in each post, I want to say that this “minimalist” post is intended and not just a result of laziness. Maybe less is more.
This is a photo of Writing Brush Pagoda found in Red Plum Park in Changzhou where I currently live while teaching English in a small university. Though I have seen a lot of pagodas while in China, I don’t seem to get tired of them. There is an elegance about them, as one of my readers once mentioned, a “flouncy” appearance that lifts the spirit. I think that is what our churches were once meant to do, to “lift” us out of our ordinariness and point us to something so much bigger, something extraordinary.
I had thought that I was going to save this particular photo for the posts that I intend on writing in response to one of the books I have brought with me written by Eugene Monick. But, that thought disappeared and I knew that this was the time to bring this image forward. There are enough “masculine” photos in the archives to find their way into that up-coming series of posts. And besides, there are always new photos to consider when the time approaches.
I have often wondered at the efforts the western world has taken in its efforts to bring religion down to earth. We have tried to abolish excessive ornamentation, the use of statues, and costumes that invoke spiritual imagery. We have opted for common-sense plainness. No frills and no idols and no distractions. Just the words to cling to and even those are presented in the plainest language possible. And out of all of this, one is supposed to “connect” with something that defies being contained by ordinary and plain words, defies being explained by common sense.
“”Exclusive appeals to faith are a hopeless petitio principii, for it is the manifest improbability of symbolical truth that prevents people from believing in it. Instead of insisting so glibly on the necessity of faith, the theologians, it seems to me, should see what can be done to make this faith possible . . . . And this can only be achieved by reflecting how it came about in the first place that humanity needed the improbability of religious statements, and what it signifies when a totally different spiritual reality is superimposed on the sensuous and tangible actuality of this world.” (Jung, CW 5, par. 336)
Looking at the actuality of the world, the places of grandeur, the places that invoke awe – this is where our spiritual roots are found. It is within out attempts to use images and architecture that we have tried to “inspire” a sense of the spiritual, to create a sacred space, a place of temenos, that we have given birth to religions. And all of this was done so that we can get a sense of the improbable, so that we can be taken outside of our prosaic simpleness to see the depths that dwell “within.”
This pagoda does this for me. It points upwards, begging me to surpass ordinariness, to reach as high as I can. And in seeing the reflection of the pagoda in the water, I know that in reaching up, I also reach within, into my own depths.
Looking through the photos taken last week for a photo to go with today’s post, this photo jumped out at me. I took this photo for my grandsons who had come to visit last time I taught in Changzhou. This is a scene from China Dinosaur Park, a new section added to the park since their visit. The scene makes me think of what “Hell” might look like.
There is no doubt in my mind that as doubt comes, the loss of certainty opens up a path to the repressed unconscious, and to depression. It is about loss, at least it was for me. I lost the certainty of structured religion. With the turmoil of being a youth at the time, the loss left me in a dark place. Of course, there were other factors as one would expect. The things in one’s life are interrelated.
“When and if faith as fanaticism is overcome, the results are not always unqualifiedly beneficial. Patterns of depression and emptiness can follow the loss of whatever solace was previously offered by the so-called faith – though paradoxically the depression may be accompanied by rage at the sacrifices made to the dubious God of such faith and his strident moral demands, now felt to be hostile to fuller expressions of human life and spirit.” (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, p.18)
When one puts one’s trust in a religion and then begins to become a more conscious being as he or she works hard to honour the symbols and promise of the religion, and in the process becomes aware of the darkness of that religion which translates to being betrayed, anger is a natural response. But the anger demands action for resolution.
“Victims of “sacrosanct unintelligibility” are thus often faced with “no-win” options. They can grit their teeth and cling fanatically to a burden of “revealed truth” which finds no experiential resonance in themselves. This splits them between the demands of their faith and the demands of their humanity and potential maturity. Or they are driven, often by inner demands for a fuller and more balanced life, into patterns of denial. In the language of their own impoverished theological options such denial is described as “atheism.” Not infrequently this carries with it a lingering guilt for having abandoned what may have been, after all, the one true revelation – all the truer precisely because of its unintelligibility.” (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, p.18)
It is as though one is damned of one does and double-damned if one doesn’t stick with one’s religion. Either way, one is effectively trapped in a hell.