Through a Jungian Lens

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Mystery, Religion and Reason

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The mystery of coniunctio, of the joining of the two into one, a holy marriage – well, this photo is about joining together as these two dragonflies engage in an act that is shared by most creatures on this planet.  I think it necessary to bring Jung’s words here in order to better understand the term “coniunctio.”

“The coniunctio is an a priori image that occupies a prominent place in the history of man’s mental development. If we trace this idea back we find it has two sources in alchemy, one Christian, the other pagan. The Christian source is unmistakably the doctrine of Christ and the Church, sponsus and sponsa, where Christ takes the role of Sol and the Church that of Luna. The pagan source is on the one hand the hieros-gamos, on the other the marital union of the mystic with God.[“The Psychology of the Transference,” (Jung, CW 16, pa. 355.)

Thus we see that coniunctio is not a physical union as many would like to believe as they search for their “soul mate.”  Rather, it is mental, an internal state of being, a union of opposites, and in particular, the union of the conscious and unconscious.  Regardless, there is something very mysterious in this, something we touch on when we lose ourselves in the embrace of passion with other.  Albert Einstein speaks of this sense of mystery:

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery—even if mixed with fear—that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds – it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual who survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.”  – Albert Einstein, “The World As I See It” (1931)

Like Einstein, I would have to say that I also am a deeply religious man.  I sense the presence of deity in the images, in the well-springs of my centre and often in the faces of others as well as nature.  Entering into cathedrals I am brought into a state of presence both within and without of deity.  I, too, marvel at the world at what each part adds to the whole and the mystery behind, within and surrounding.  This is what I try to hint at with my photography.

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One Response

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  1. To express the connection or union with the universe is the ultimate aim of art in any form. Galen Rowell likens being able to take a good photograph as similar to meditation. He sees GOOD photography as visionary.

    Expressing our vision and feeling that connection with the universe is important.

    Lotus Light

    August 20, 2010 at 8:52 pm


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