Through a Jungian Lens

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Finding Hope in the Approach of Darkness

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This photo was taken recently while waiting for sunset to arrive on the Pacific coast.  I have to admit that sunsets are special moments for me.  I share these moments with my wife and often take her photo with the sunset.  My desktop background photo is one of these special moments.  It seems that regardless of how the day has gone, if we get to share a sunset, the level of contentment and even a promise of hope for more peace for us.

An intimation of the terrible law that governs blind contingency, which Heraclitus called the rule of enantiodromia (a running towards the opposite), now steals upon modern man through the byways of his mind, chilling him with fear and paralyzing his faith in the lasting effectiveness of social and political measures in the face of these monstrous forces.  If he turns away from the terrifying prospect of a blind world in which building and destroying successfully tip the scales, and then gazes into the recesses of his own mind, he will discover a chaos and a darkness there which everyone would gladly ignore.  Science has destroyed even this last refuge; what was once a sheltering haven has become a cesspool. (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)

There is little doubt that there is truly less security in the modern world.  Even though there are appearances of wealth easily obtained and the promise of it only becoming easier as the world shifts out of the current slip backwards, I sense that there is much worse to come within a short bit of time.  False security.  I find myself counselling my children to conservatism, don’t over-extend themselves, be ready when the next wave of recession hits.

Yet,it is within the dark and damp swamplands of the psyche that we find some hope, for there we find the evil we see outside, the roots of that evil.  And in the process, we see how our personal unconscious somehow is a porous thing which is embedded in the collective unconscious.

. . . it is almost a relief to come upon so much evil in the depths of our own psyche.  Here at least, we think, is the root of all the evil in mankind.  Even though we are shocked and disillusioned at first, we still feel, just because these things are part of our psyche, that we have them more or less in hand and can correct them or at any rate effectively suppress them.  We like to assume that, if we succeeded  in this, we should at least have rooted out some fraction of the evil in the world.  Given a widespread knowledge of the unconscious, everyone could see when a statesman was being led astray by his own bad motives,  The very newspapers would pull him up:  “Please have yourself analyzed; you are suffering from a repressed father-complex.” (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)

It doesn’t take much to take a little bit of knowledge and think we have now become a master, ready to set the world straight.  That is one huge problem of moving towards a state of more consciousness.  One then again falls into the trap that with more consciousness it would be, by extension, much easier to regulate ourselves, others and the world as a whole.  And so a few who have gained a bit of consciousness rush to the centre of the stage with New Age religiosity and expect the spotlights to shine on them as they become the new saviours of society.  Are Jungian analysts any different?  Do they see themselves as the new religion, the new hope of the present age of mankind?  More than a few such analysts are in existence.  These analysts see themselves as modern men and as the new priesthood.  I think that it would be important for them to rethink and perhaps re-read at least this chapter in this book.

That said, there is hope to be found in approaching the darkness within, a personal hope that comes with the realization that one can survive one’s own evil, that one can find a balance that allows one to live more humbly and more in tune with the world around him,


One Response

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  1. this has a fantastical feel to it.
    i’m thinking lord of the rings style here


    March 29, 2010 at 6:53 pm

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