Through a Jungian Lens

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While Waiting for Something From the Psyche

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I really don’t know what type of reptile this is though it is some kind of lizard.  I found him while near the end of a morning walk, not too far from the outskirts of the town.  He is actually quite small and I was very surprised that I even saw him.  But, when carrying a camera, sometimes the slightest movement is all that it takes.  I caught him inflating his throat pouch and that was all that I needed to alert me to his presence.  I did manage to get closer without scaring him in order to get this photo.

I know that he was waiting for something; what, I don’t have a clue.  Well, likely he was waiting for contact with more of his kind.  Perhaps the inflating of his throat pouch was about trying to attract a mate.  Regardless, he was waiting, just like I am waiting.

I don’t know what I really am waiting for while spending this time in Costa Rica, I just know that this is a prelude to something else.  So, while I wait, I take the time to turn a dark shade of brown thanks to the sun; I take the time to read and think and write here; I take the time to work on relationship with self and other.  I know that this isn’t the main scene of the play that is my life, but a pause for something more.

“The rapid and worldwide growth of a psychological interest over the last two decades shows unmistakably that modern man is turning his attention from outward material things to his own inner processes.  Expressionism in art prophetically anticipated this subjective development, for all art intuitively apprehends coming changes in the collective unconsciousness.”  (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)

Turning inward.  For most people I know this is something to be avoided at all costs.  It is with the help of television, DVD collections of past TV series and movies and all sorts of other toys and technology that one can keep oneself busy enough to avoid that confrontation with self and its innate desire to turn inward with questions.  Sometimes I wonder if it is even possible for many of them to turn inward, to wrestle with questions about self, others and society that aren’t questions that are fully outward focused.  Perhaps even all the right conditions would only be met by a roadblock that tells them, “entry not allowed.”  Perhaps it is more about some people having a defect in terms of the collective that opens up the psyche so that one pokes about within those dark, dank spaces and stirs up all sorts of shit which only serves to make the self dissatisfied with self and other and society.  But, regardless of any of this, the pull is real and so like a few others who have this obsession with the psyche, I must trust to my intuitive instincts and so journey on through the confusion.

“The psychological interest of the present time is an indication that modern man expects something from the psyche which the outer world has not given him; doubtless something which our religion ought to contain, but no longer does contain, at least for modern man.  For him the various forms of religion no longer appear to come from within, from the psyche; they feel more like items from the inventory of the outside world.  No spirit not of this world  vouchsafes him inner revelation, instead he tries on a variety of religions and beliefs as if they were Sunday attire, only to lay them aside again like worn-out clothes.” (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)

I must admit that reading this made me chuckle.  I was quite young yet when I found myself checking out other churches.  I tried on Greek Orthodox, Born-Again-Christians, an assorted variety of Protestant churches and studied up on the Hebrew and Muslim faiths.  I thought that if I tried hard enough I would find my “place” in the real world.  But, nothing seemed to fill the empty hole.  So I turned to music and hoped that it would make the difference. I tried painting with acrylics and tried drawing with charcoal in hopes that I would find the centre found by the artists I found in the National Art Gallery.

It was all for nought.  Nothing I found in the outer world could ease my longing, me sense of emptiness.  It was as if I had a closet full of clothing but found nothing I could wear and so had to present myself to the world naked and vulnerable.

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2 Responses

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  1. I loved your last two lines. So true. but does the search for the cloth that covers and fits ever end, I wonder.

    abha iyengar

    March 30, 2010 at 10:52 am

    • Thanks, Abha. I doubt that the search ever ends in one’s lifetime. When life is done however, . . . . .

      Robert G. Longpré

      March 30, 2010 at 12:18 pm


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