Through a Jungian Lens

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Every Good Is Matched With an Evil

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I took this photo in La Fortuna, just a few metres from my room in the El Buho hostel.  Various kinds of iguanas and lizards were all over the place and of varying sizes.  This particular fellow was in a plastic box in which the owner of the hostel puts in food for both birds and the iguanas living in the tree.

This guy reminds me of time before human history, a time of heat and transformation, a time of chaos for the most part.  It is no wonder that our images of devils and evil are often based on reptiles.

I try hard to distance myself from the chaos and confusion and darkness of primordial past – especially as found within my own self.  I don’t want to allow the inner reptile loose and have him destroy the little bit of good I try to fashion.  Yet, I know that if I deny too much, this inner shadow, it will slither out and damage even more.  Somewhere I need to find balance.

In my journey, I want and work hard to bring something good to those around me and to the community.  I think of my children and my grandchildren and all of the good souls I see that I don’t know.  I look at the children and grandchildren of strangers and know that what I do must include them.  And in recognizing all this need, I ache with the regret that I can’t do enough, that I will never be able to do enough.  I don’t have enough money, or time, or energy to do what needs to be done.  I also know that there are forces at work trying hard to undo anything good that does emerge.  Balance between good and evil.

“Many people call themselves modern especially the pseudo-moderns.  Therefore the really modern man is often to be found among those who call themselves old-fashioned.  They do this firstly in order to make amends for their guilty break with tradition by laying all the more emphasis on the past, and secondly in order to avoid the misfortune of being taken for pseudo-moderns.  Every good quality has its bad side, and nothing good can be come into the world without at once producing a corresponding evil.  This painful fact renders illusory the feeling of elation that so often goes with consciousness of the present- the feeling that we are the culmination of the whole history of mankind, the fulfilment and end-product of countless generations.  At best it should be a proud admission of our poverty:  we are also the disappointment of the hopes and expectations of the ages.” (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)

I don’t want to be clumped with the pseudo-moderns, nor do I claim to be “modern” as Jung frames the word.  I have no rational reason for my doubts about the New Age movement and the claims being made by those embracing this New Age.  I have no proofs that they are just as lost as I am and that they are headed down a false trail.  I say this, not as criticism, but simply as a reason for my not travelling down this trail, the New Age trail.  Perhaps I am wrong and that is okay.  I can only go with what I know/intuit/feel.  I don’t have any answers, only questions.

And I worry.  I worry that any good that I do create will be destroyed.  I worry that somehow I will be the one who destroys that which I create.  Does the way I live my life, the way I am changing, render my words worthless?  Will my tendency to transparency expose too many warts and ugly shadows be seen as proofs that the small bits of good are made invisible?  That is the risk I take.  Now I am beginning to understand what Jung says about poverty, as I become poorer in terms of relationship the further along this road of individuation.  So why do I continue knowing that in the end I will be fully alone?  Well, the truth is in spite of outward appearances as I am surrounded by family and community, in the beginning and in the end and everywhere in between, I already am fully alone wrestling with demons and angels while looking at the outer world through thick lenses.

How can my children and grandchildren, let alone anyone who would partner with me, celebrate my arrival as a modern man?  Rather, I do see how their response would be of mourning and of anger.

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