Through a Jungian Lens

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Sati and Active Imagination

with 4 comments

"Self" in shadow and light

I have been wondering about the use of the word, Jungian here on my site. Over the decades I have been influenced by a lot of people, dead and alive. In trying to explain this recently in terms of my use of the word Jungian, I tried to explain how each writer or each individual in face-to-face contact brought forward ideas that had me realise that for my self, these ideas resonated and I felt that these ideas contained some truth-to-me. Nietzsche was one of the earliest of influences when I began to question the authority of the Catholic Church. It wasn’t long before I was reading the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and wandering through the philosophical writings of Sartre, Heidegger, Spinoza, Kant, Kierkegaard, Teillard de Chardin, Buber and too many others to remember from those formative years as an adolescent and very young man.

I began to wander through a variety of Christian churches in vain hopes of finding a spiritual home, looking for somewhere that would resonate with my inner core. I was always repelled at the thought of being contained-restricted by any of the churches I found. It seemed that one had to give up thinking, questioning in order to become at one with each community. And this was something I couldn’t do, couldn’t even pretend to do. In my early twenties I turned to meditation, Transcendental Meditation, something that grew out of my love of music, the influences of John Lennon and his fellow musicians who discovered another world in India and another form of music through Ravi Shankar. It wasn’t the first experiment with meditation, but it was the first experience that was structured.

Through music, I discovered another way of being and thinking, that of Hinduism and Buddhism. Before I could invest much of myself in learning more, I became a father and that became the focus, the centre of my life for many years. During those years, as a teacher, I invested what time I had in the world of psychology.  Being a teacher of adolescents I sought to find ways that would allow me to be a better mentor, teacher and guide. Jung, Pearls, Rogers, Frankl most resonated though there were parts of other systems and beliefs that I felt contained something of value for me. Courses in cognitive psychologies and therapy models provided me with tools to work with immediate problems but couldn’t help me in terms of deeper rooted questions, existential questions. I was caught between the worlds of psychology, philosophy and religion. It was with this realisation that I began to think of finding the links, taking from each of these areas as well as from my life experience as a son, father, teacher and community citizen in order to attempt an understanding of my self.

The links are there – Buddhism, Humanism, Jungian, Gestalt, Existentialism, Christianity, Hinduism, poetry, music, and nature – symbols all over the place all pointing towards something that is vibrant but yet undefined, maybe never to be defined or contained. And so I turn to active imagination and sati so that I can pay attention to what happens in my own mind, pay attention to the resonances without letting ego take a controlling presence in order to make things fit thus distorting what emerges.

And in the end, I am left with only one thing – I do not belong to any “ism” or any belief system.  All that I can know is a small fragment of who I am through the echoes that come from the “ah-ha” moments and the resonances from the interactions with others, others who are both dead and alive.


Written by Robert G. Longpré

September 26, 2011 at 9:56 am

4 Responses

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  1. “. . .But as soon as he has outgrown whatever local form of religion he was born to – as as this religion can no longer embrace his life in its fullness – then the psyche becomes a factor in its own right which cannot be dealt with by the customary measures. It is for this reason that we today have a psychology founded on experience, and not upon articles of faith or the postulates of any philosophical system. The very fact that we have such a psychology is to me symptomatic of a profound convulsion of the collective psyche. . . .”
    C. G. Jung, “The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man.”

    “Analytical psychology is not a Weltanschauung but a science, and as such it provides the building-material or the implements with which a Weltanschauung can be built up or torn down, or else reconstructed. There are many people today who think they can smell a Weltanschauung in analytical psychology. I wish I were one of them, for then, I should be spared the pains of investigations and doubt, and could tell you clearly and simply the way that leads to Paradise. Unfortunately we are still a long way from that.”
    C. G. Jung, “CW 8, para. 730.”

    Robert, it seems to me that all the “isms” you write of aim toward perfection, the perfection of man. And here arises the conflict with Jung(and Jungian) which is oriented toward completeness, wholeness. Apples and oranges!

    John Ferric

    September 26, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    • Yes, John – apples and oranges.- looking outward I can’t find what is buried deep within. Thanks for bringing the relevant words of Jung to this post. 🙂


      September 27, 2011 at 6:00 am

  2. I too have been down that long road of “comparative religions 101”, although not nearly as extensive or as early as your efforts.

    Being a “science/engineering/business” type it came later, although I did the Iron John, Hero with a Thousand Faces, etc. reading during their day.

    When my wife started taking yoga teacher training classes and bought many books I started reading them and then many more. As with so many Westerners I was intrigued, and embarrassed at my ignorance. However, no ‘ism’ was credible to me so since a science fiction writer could produce a billion dollar “religion” on a bar bet I figured that a DIY metaphysical construct was the way to go. Willyism, as I have egotistically called it, is a non-proselytizing system with a membership of one.

    As empirically valid as all the rest, but it amuses me!

    Syzygy Xanadu

    September 27, 2011 at 1:00 am

    • Hi and thanks for bringing a comment to this place. I like the idea of a religion of one – Willyism as you call it. I don’t know what I could call my “ism” as yet. It is early morning here in China as I respond to you (up at 5:30) as I had woken from dreaming and lay awake for a while thinking about what a religion that reflected who I am, what I am and why I am would look like. My wife told me a few evenings ago that I should start up my own religion though there wouldn’t be any followers. It seems that a religion of one is the only way to go. Yet, there is a need for connection, for dialogue, for relationship as each of us remains a human – vital. A religion of one sharing spaces and places and energies with other priests and priestesses who embody their own religions of one. Interesting thoughts.

      I look forward to more from you in the future. Thanks again. 🙂


      September 27, 2011 at 5:58 am

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