Through a Jungian Lens

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Awakening the Spirit Within

with 3 comments

This is one of my many photos of Lotus flowers taken here in Changzhou.  Usually I focus on isolating them in the water so that I can capture their mirror image being reflected.  This time, I was pulled by the image of “fullness” in “community.”  Rather than isolation and focus on the individual, this image places the individual within the collective.  On the right-hand side in the foreground, a new lotus is emerging, being “born” into the collective so that it, too, can flourish for its moment in the sun.

The isolated lotus flower is about the individual.  In isolating and focusing on the one that is symbolic for “self,” one is able to transcend the ordinariness of being within the collective, a way of being that is messy where the stinks and detritus of both birth and decay are ever present.  One is able to enter into a state that transcends time and place while at the same time including all time and all space.  And one discovers the source of one’s “self.”

After writing the above words, I thought I would then find out the name of the Hindu God that emerges out of the lotus flower.  And in the process of doing that search (answer is Brahma) I found more than I was looking for.  The lotus is symbolic of spirituality in Hinduism, Buddhism, and in the ancient Egyptian culture.  Emerging from the lotus are Brahma, Buddha and Ra.  One interesting thing of note for myself was the fact that each of these religions are experiential.  And, in trying to understand why my “western world religions” seem to be failing me, I get to understand Jung’s similar state of dis-ease with religion in the western world.

For religions in the western world, “conceptions of faith are divorced from any experiential basis in humanity’s awareness of itself, and become dehumanizing substitutes for the life-giving experience of the unconscious which the symbols express.  Of this destructive psycho-spiritual situation, Jung writes: “It [theology] proclaims doctrines which nobody understands and demands a faith which nobody can manufacture.”” (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, p. 18)

Growing out of the mud and dirty, even polluted, waters the lotus flower provides an example of what I can do as an individual as I strive to become more conscious.  I catch a glimpse of the deity within, the spirit within.  And in being able to finally notice its presence, I awaken as a spiritual being and begin the next stage of my journey.

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3 Responses

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  1. Lovely!

    livvy30

    November 6, 2010 at 8:25 am

  2. I’ve often heard tell of the Lotus as symbol for the emerging Self.

    Urspo

    November 7, 2010 at 8:08 am

  3. The lotus is part of the community, and of the community, but its difference from the leaves and roots makes it clearly an individual. The community needs the lotus for regeneration, the lotus needs the community for development.

    For me the distinction between western and eastern religions seems to be more historical. My little theory is that eastern religions focus internally – they are based more on meditation and internal awareness and self generated processes. Western religions are based more on external factors, communal worship and external instructions and deeds.

    I think that this occurs because of differences in demographics. The orient seems to have always been more populated, with less personal space for people. So an internal religion allowed them to develop a private space, retreat into a peaceful emptiness. With a smaller more scattered population, it seems to me that religion developed as a way of creating social bonds amongst isolated people. It was also then a way of keeping those more isolated groups in sync.

    The lotus is special for me.

    Lotus Light

    November 7, 2010 at 8:35 am


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