Through a Jungian Lens

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Hunger For a Spiritual Life

with 4 comments

A beautiful day with temperatures rising to almost 20 C meant a good time to wander through Hong Mei Park in the city’s centre.  The objective was to check out the fall version of the “Rose” garden.  Of course, I can’t go to this park without taking the camera.  Only moments after entering the park, I got this shot of a Buddhist monk.  Behind him is the Tianning Temple and Grand Pagoda.  I have visited the temple a few times in the past and look forward to another such visit, likely in the spring.  There is something about temples that add a certain sense of spiritualism to an otherwise very prosaic and practical life.  And, where there are temples, cathedrals and other imposing places that seek to connect God and humans, there are the monks and nuns, the men and women who live lives of service to these places and these gods.

The temple, the pagoda and the monk – symbols of the spirit:

“. . . all powerful and religious symbols arise from a common human source and depth, which he [Jung] called the collective unconscious, to which each individual continues to have access in the pursuit of his or her spiritual life.  An experience of this level of one’s own humanity could intensify one’s appreciation of all symbolism as well as the reality from which symbols come and to which they point.”  (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, page 8)

Yes!  This is what I am beginning to appreciate, the power of symbols that are outside my culture.  Perhaps this is not so surprising to others, but to feel it within the self is like a shifting of bedrock.  Having long ago left believing in church – all churches – I almost lost all sense of symbolism that goes with these churches.  A few exceptions for me were experienced when I entered cathedrals, churches that had invested in having the building be as much of a symbol as the contents within.  Those churches that became simple containers, unpretentious places that seemed to rebel against the power of symbols took on an emptiness.  To enter into these “business of religion” places seemed to suck out my energy rather than serve as a catalyst to energize my soul.  It feels good to sense the numinous power of symbols, of images, that call to my hunger for a spiritual life.


4 Responses

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  1. Symbols are very powerful in our lives – a quick look at name brands or television advertising will tell us that.

    For me some of the most powerful symbolism wasn’t within the church but with the court. Judges wearing wigs and gowns symbolised separation and impartiality to me. These clothes removed them from their daily personae and created another, weighed down with the burdens of justice. The blindfold scales, the rising of the court to give justice respect when the judge entered – these all resonated with me.

    But are symbols necessarily good? I look at the symbols that have divided us and caused untold pain and suffering throughout the world – flags, crosses, dragons, eagles (sorry!) etc. These symbols take away thought processes, often seducing us into believing we are with the spirit, doing right.

    Lotus Light

    October 31, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    • They are neither good or bad, they just are . . .

      Robert G. Longpré

      November 2, 2010 at 6:47 am

  2. Superb photo, and a thoughtful post.


    October 31, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    • Thank you.

      Robert G. Longpré

      November 2, 2010 at 6:48 am

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