Through a Jungian Lens

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Will the Real Robert Please Stand Up

with 13 comments

I love the architecture of old China.  Here just one block off the main downtown street in Changzhou, one of the last older sections is being removed so that modern China can rise in its place.  This is a story that has been happening for thousands of years in China and all over the world.  We build, we tear down, we build again.  Purists claim that we are losing the authentic and real China in the process.  Really?  Which version of China over the thousands of years of history would be the real China?  I could ask the same about any country.  Of course the answer will always be, the “real” China is the one in which one is standing at that moment in time.  The “real” anywhere is that which “is,” not that which “was.”

This building on the foundations of what “was” is what happens every time a bit of light uncovers some of the shadow contents within.  As I withdraw projections I have placed on others, those I love and those who serve as hooks for my other shadow contents, I become a changed man, a new man.  Does this constant changing make me any less authentic?  Is the only authentic Robert, the one who existed with little awareness of the depths of “self?”  I don’t think so.   Each change is simply a change, Robert is always Robert though the person seen by others might see a changed Robert, wishing for the old Robert to re-appear.  This can’t happen.  I can’t undo the fact that light has allowed me to see my self more clearly, revealed things about me to which I was blind.  But, I can control what others see.  This is one reason for carefully rebuilding one’s persona.

“The development of a collectively suitable persona always involves a compromise between what we know about ourselves to be and what is expected of us, such as a degree of courtesy and innocuous behavior.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that.  In Greek, the word persona meant a mask worn by actors to indicate the role they played.  On this level, it is an asset in mixing with other people.  It is also useful as a protective covering.  Close friends may know us for what we are; the rest of the world knows only what we choose to show them.  Indeed, without an outer layer of some kind, we are simply too vulnerable.  Only the foolish and naive attempt to move through life without a persona.”  (Sharp, Jungian Psychology Unplugged, p. 42)

Protecting oneself, yes, that is important.  I think it is also about respecting others and where they are in their own development of self.  I do have a a different opinion when it comes to what Daryl Sharp says about “close friends.”  I don’t think that anyone can know me as I know me.  Some of what I “know” is always going to remain behind a veil.  It is simply enough that I know.  There is nothing to gain in terms of relationships to expose all.  As well, I don’t know if I have the words to share this knowing with others.  I may be aware of these things of my “self” but must live with my “complexes” that moderate my exposing of these contents, even to the closest person in my life.

Another point I would like to make is that others know things about myself to which I am blind.  Should I be told about them, I would likely protest that I am not like that, that I never said those things, or showed those attitudes.  I still have blind spots and my complexes do come out to play without my permission or awareness.  As much as I would like to think I control everything about my presentation of “self” to the world, my ego consciousness is limited in terms of the overall “self” that lays under the persona and ego.

Like Changzhou, China, I continue to build on the foundations of who I was.  Tomorrow, I will be yet a different man with a different face.  But each day, the Real Robert stands here, an authentic man even though each day will transform who that Real Robert is – this is what individuation is all about.


13 Responses

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  1. I love the old architecture and am very sad to see it disappearing so rapidly. Its replacement by huge hives to me encourages the creation of hive mentalities. The old was at least based around some individuality, even if it was constrained by the extended family. But you are right – the modern buildings are ‘real’ China – as are the old buildings still extant in rural China.

    I am interested in the impact of architecture on our way of thinking, behaving and being.

    With these changes in reality, we change our ways of behaving, of thinking and therefore of being.

    When I illuminate a part of my consciousness I change as well – I can’t NOT change because I have new information. That genie does not go back into the bottle without destroying part of ‘me’. Others may not want to acknowledge the changes, or may fight against them – but it is too late, unless we choose to give up that knowledge and kill that new self.

    BUT.. and there is a big ‘but’ here – others see us through their own lens. They see us through their perceptions of themselves, of what they want us to be as well as want they think they know about us. Their view of us is no more than a mask they create and they place upon our faces.

    We create a mask of what we want others to see, but that mask passes through their filter and is changed. We may create a mask, it will have chinks or transparencies we are not aware of. Others take that mask and change it to suit their perception…

    We have no real control then over what they see. Neither mask is the ‘me’ I believe I am creating, let alone the ‘me’ that is inside the mask.

    Lotus Eater

    September 22, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    • Lotus, thank you for your sharing your thoughts here. It is my hope that my voice as well as the responding voices here will together make a clearer picture ow what is going on within our collective psyche.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm

  2. WOW… not only for the picture, which is very lovely, but for all the thoughts, yours and lotus’

    the “real” anything is perhaps such a bright pure light, a sliver of some collective (“divine”) whole, i think – perhaps this it the real purpose for all the masks and complexes and complicated outfits and rituals we wear and create… i am not sure that we, ourselves or anyone else has the capasity to view the true self entirely… because despite of all the individuation that is a real necessity for growth, we are all inextricably linked somewhere, somehow. just as the ego is only part of a greater consciousness of self, so too i think that this self we search for and uncover and change slowly slowly is a part of a greater unity.
    each part, each stage, each process a necessity in its own right and valid in the present moment. like the idea of china. china is really a sum of its parts those past and those envisioned to come (and probably a good bit else which is mystery).
    environment has a HUGE impact on the way things shape… i think of water in any type of container, the container does in part dictate the possibility of the future for that particular bit of water…

    being a bee keeper, i want to offer a bit of informatin about ‘hive mentality’: did you know that bees share all the resources equally with everyone in living in the hive. in the wintertime, when food resources are low, they will all collectively starve rather than force an idea of separation from thier sisters. the drawbacks are obvious, but what would happen to our species if we were able to hum a bit more on that level of vibrational energy… perhaps the environmental, economic and social crisis’ that we are in would not have the “shape” that it does…. but perhaps our discoveries about the mysteries that lay in the vast universe between our two ears and that of our beating heart would also remain unplumbed…
    we must use the light we have to discover what we can…sometimes i think that would help if we were less polite and shared a bit more of that glowing behind the masks… in the words of benjamin franklin “what use is a sundial in the shade?”


    September 22, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    • Yes, we are all linked, not only in the outer world as we share the same biosphere, we are linked in an inner world. The container of China is porous. The container of the western world is porous. We think that there are walls, but the water of the unconscious seeps through all containers regardless of how well be build the containers. It is like acid rain, there is no political boundary that can keep out the toxins of its neighbours near and far. Nor, can a geo-political entity truly contain its own toxins.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 23, 2010 at 7:35 am

      • so likewise Grace in all its various forms will also flow…
        doing some transcription work this evening and the subject was on synchronicity:
        “basic premise is oneness. You know there is just one god, one thought, one thing happening here all the time and we’re part of it, and so there is no part of it that is unrelated to any other part…”

        … you gotta love it!


        September 23, 2010 at 9:20 am

      • I do. Synchronicity is likely always present, but only recognised when we are tuned into the larger picture. Thanks.

        Robert G. Longpré

        September 24, 2010 at 6:48 am

  3. Such an in depth post and comments, I have nothing intelligent to add. Just a thank you to all of you for sharing your insight.


    September 23, 2010 at 8:55 am

    • shine in your light…
      “thank you” is near often – perhaps the most intelligent thing one can say about anything…


      September 23, 2010 at 9:29 am

      • 🙂 Thank you

        Robert G. Longpré

        September 24, 2010 at 6:49 am

    • 🙂

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 24, 2010 at 6:47 am

  4. By every Post I am surprised by the way you use metaphors as a sort of Antahkarana (the Holy Bridge) – personally I find thinking in metaphors very hard to accomplish.
    To me it seems to be a very active and powerful way to communicate.
    Can one, by practicing a “different way of thinking” (other than we use in “normal” life) to get access to this way of thinking in metaphors – and so, how ?
    Did you have this ability since your childhood, or did you learn to think this way by practicing ?
    Very interesting contributions from all.

    Opa Bear

    September 23, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    • I have always written with metaphors. When I teach creative writing, the use of imagery is a vital part of what is needed if one is to evoke something that others can “picture” in their minds thus making a connection with the author. I, too, value the interesting contributions others are making, including yourself. Thanks.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 24, 2010 at 6:51 am

  5. Sprouting Crow-
    I know these posts are about the “self” and for some reason all it takes is a comment such as yours to draw me from the depths of discouragement and feeling lost to believing that perhaps the simplest steps are the best place to start.
    Anyway, you all make such sense, and I feel overwhelmed, speechless even. The only thing I can do is listen to your insight and hope someday I will have something to give back.


    September 24, 2010 at 6:50 am

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