Through a Jungian Lens

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Stilt Houses On The River Bank

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Stilt houses along the Tonle Sap River in Cambodia

One of the worst decisions I made on the IndoChina tour was to take the speed boat from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh.  It was a rough ride with the long boat so crowded that the seven hour trip was definitely something I would have rather avoided.  That said, I did get to meet a few interesting people and engage in a couple of good conversations as well as capture a few shoreline photos such as this one which I took near the end of the trip.  So, in retrospect, perhaps the ride was worth it.

Stilt houses have a purpose, they keep the house above water during the rainy season when the river overflows its banks.  This flooding is not seen as a bad thing, but as a good thing as it brings rich nutrients to the land that feeds people, food that serves as a foundation for the community and country.  What a difference in opinion would exist if people along the banks of the river didn’t build stilt houses, but decided instead to ignore the cycles and power of nature.

The same happens to us as people with regards to our unconscious.  We try to deny the unconscious and build our homes, our belief systems of self, around the notion that there is only the observable outer world, an objective world.  The more we barricade ourselves into this way of being, the more we suffer the onslaughts of the unconscious in our dreams and in being tripped up by all that is illogical in our behaviour and that of the people with whom we come into contact.  We see nature as a commodity and sometime as an enemy as we wrestle with control.

If only we could somehow look at our realities through a different lens, what we see as forces that turn us into victims could become opportunities for personal growth, for being human in harmony with the visible and invisible worlds in which we live.


6 Responses

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  1. I feel sorry for the poor sods who deny the unconscious or the shadow parts – they will be there whether they want them there or not. All the denial and projection can not compensate.


    June 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    • So do I, Urspo. It’s bad enough when one is aware of the unconscious and realise that “control” is mostly illusion.


      June 9, 2011 at 9:01 pm

  2. I love this, Robert. You have such a wonderful way of finding meaning in everything you see and do! You are someone who knows how to live symbolically! I admire that very much.

    My best,

    Jean Raffa

    June 9, 2011 at 8:04 am

    • I find this way of living both exciting and problematical (no surprises, I know) and find it even more fulfilling in terms of how others can hear me, and in return talk to me. Thanks Jeanie. 🙂


      June 11, 2011 at 5:07 am

  3. Is the “search for meaning” something we should undertake? Wolfgang Giegerich, finds a contradiction inherent in the “search for meaning”;

    1. The self-contradiction inherent in the search for meaning
    One might think that the diagnosed loss of meaning is the cause, the search for meaning the result; further,
    that the loss of meaning is the “illness” while the sought-for meaning would be the cure. But “loss of
    meaning” and “search for meaning” have to be seen as rather the two sides of the same coin. Just as it is
    the sense of loss of meaning that creates a craving for meaning, so it is the idea of the dire need of a higher
    meaning that makes real life appear as intolerably banal and “nothing but,” merely “maya compared with
    that one thing, that your life is meaningful.” The more you long for meaning, the more banal life gets; the
    more banal you feel life to be, the more you will say with Jung: “My whole being was seeking for something
    still unknown which might confer meaning upon the banality of life.” There are not two phenomena
    here but only one. The search for meaning is the opposite of itself. It is what turns reality into that very
    senselessness that it intends to overcome; it is itself that symptom or illness the cure of which it claims to
    be. The longing for meaning is deluded about itself.

    What is the delusion? The search for meaning seeks something that cannot be sought because any seeking
    for it destroys what is to be gained. Meaning is not an entity that could be had, not a creed, a doctrine, a
    world view, also not something like the fairytale treasure hard to attain. It is not semantic, not a content.
    Meaning, where it indeed exists, is first of all an implicit fact of existence, its a priori. It can never be the
    answer to a question; it is conversely an unquestioned and unquestionable certainty that predates any possible
    questioning. It is the groundedness of existence, a sense of embeddedness in life, of containment in the
    world—perhaps we could even say of in-ness as the logic of existence as such. Meaning exists if the meaning
    of life is as self-evident as the in-ness in water is for fish.

    From: The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man
    An essay about the state reached in the history of consciousness and an analysis of C.G. Jung’s psychology project.

    The entire essay(on of the toughest I have come across) can be found at:

    John Ferric

    June 9, 2011 at 8:22 am

    • Thanks for bringing Giegerich here, John. I know I have yet to give him a decent amount of time in my own study. Thanks for the link which I hope others will dare to follow.


      June 11, 2011 at 5:11 am

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