Through a Jungian Lens

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HoiVan Pass and the Hero’s Journey

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This is an image from HoiVan Pass, the mountain pass that marked the separation between North and South during the American War as it is called by Vietnamese people.  When I was there the clouds were hanging low making it into a surreal scene.  The “pill boxes” that housed the Americans who sought to keep the North Vietnamese out of the south, as well as to protect the forces stationed at DaNang, stood empty alongside older battlements from older wars.

When I think of the “hero’s journey” that calls one somewhere typically during midlife, this is a scene that comes to mind.  Perhaps I had read too much fantasy by Tolkien and Donaldson and others.  The image tells me that I am in unknown territory where maps would do no good, at least not a map that is based on land forms and landmarks.  This is a territory that holds all sorts of monsters that are just waiting for you to appear out of the mist, while you dread that they will appear out of the mist.

It is one of those journeys where there appears to be little choice.  If one decides to not go on the journey, one gets stuck and becomes a husk of a person waiting for his or her days to come to an end, an end that leaves one’s life without a sense of meaning.  To take the journey is to risk life itself and to change beyond all recognition marking a different sort of death, that of the old ego.

Setting out on this journey is almost more about compulsion rather than a reasoned choice.  Reasonable people do not head into this realm abandoning all life as they know it for some potential other life.  No, it is more about knowing one is doomed if one refuses to answer the call to this journey with the result that one would become insane.  Is it worth it?  I think so – for me, I know so.  The mythical treasure I found was a clearer sense of “Self.”


Written by Robert G. Longpré

June 13, 2011 at 5:25 am

2 Responses

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  1. Dear Robert,
    Yes, how true and how the photo fits in this Post.
    I also think that as you said “one one gets stuck and becomes a husk of a person waiting for his or her days to come to an end” – that such a person, for some reason, is not able to keep up with (his/her) the Time Spirit.
    What I mean to say is (a signal when one is conscious) that when one fails to keep up with the Time Spirit, one ends up in the Past and is no longer able to live in (or accept) the Present.
    Another interesting issue (for me, stir up to much, smile !) in midlife for a man is the “possibility” that the Anima is there (to help) to point to the new road by way of pointing us in the wrong direction and by following that wrong direction we end up in a devastating situation/circumstances – that “could” cause the start of our quest.
    According to this, Jung wrote “somewhere” (I am sorry !) (in my own words) about the example of the working of the Anima – in a story about the (midlife) Professor who risked everything (his marriage, his career etc.) because he fell head over heels in love with one of his very young student and married her.
    The just written text is meant as a question whether or not this text could be applied, is valid, by what you wrote today.

    Opa Bear

    June 13, 2011 at 7:01 am

  2. For you on the journey Robert:


    The breath of God
    is now at my back,
    my face to the east.
    Sophia, more eternal
    than God , is
    the true guide star of
    this Haji’s restless Soul.

    Weary and worn
    on this Pilgrim’s
    road. A respite. Resting there,
    the wind whispers three
    stunning revelations to
    my ear there
    at the roadside.

    God reveals my true
    pain; that it might be
    relieved; my true wounds
    that they might be
    healed; my true death
    that I might live til’
    that time.

    Sophia beckons once
    again. One foot follows
    the other around the
    next bend, over the next hill,
    toward the ancient, ancestral
    destination, which is always just
    around the next bend, over the next hill.

    The love of God would have it so.

    John Ferric

    June 13, 2011 at 7:33 am

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