Through a Jungian Lens

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Individuation – A Choice That is Your Call

with 3 comments

Mandala in a Cao Dai Temple in Vietnam

I had found this photo in my archives a few days ago and set it on my desktop with the intentions of using it here for a post.  As usual, I didn’t know why or what topic would be associated with the image. Today as I responded to one of the comments I knew that it was time for this photo and that I would be talking about individuation and the “I-Thou” dynamic that is at the vital centre of the process of individuation. The ideas are swirling around in my head as I enter these words so I hope that what emerges makes some kind of sense to you.

Individuation is a journey, a process in which an individual differentiates him or herself from others, a process – not a destination. The destination is a different story completely. Jung used the mandala as a symbol of individuation with the self at the core, at the centre. Individuation is a peeling away of layers that blind a person from awareness of self. There are layers of the outer world which must be seen as either other or it, layers that take our attention away from self.

We learn the hard way to separate ourselves from people such as parents and claim our rightful place as individuals. But then we soon find ourselves immersed in other people: friends, spouse, children, grandchildren, enemies, community. We don’t even realise that we have abdicated our individuality, our own authority of self. We are led to believe that to drift from the collective is an evil and selfish act. So we work harder and harder to be in the outer world, be in the eyes and esteem of others for it is only in their esteem and their sight that we find meaning. And while we are so engaged in denying our own inner self in favour of a collective self, a revolt is brewing within. The “I,” our psychic centre begins pushing forward through the layers of denial, the layers of neglect. It is at this point that we can choose to rescue this centre, a rescuing that becomes a journey of hero or heroine.  Or, we can withdraw from the call and become one more of those who live with a pain that comes with soul-loss.

There is too much to say for just one post.  I will continue this with my next post.  Be patient with me.


3 Responses

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  1. Dear Robert,
    Great Post and magnificent Mandala, featuring the ongoing battle between the (five toed) Dragon and seven elements of Self (the Peacock).
    Thank you !

    Opa Bear

    October 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm

  2. Addition.
    Sorry, what I meant to say was that this Mandala brought up the image of the Chines Fenix, called Feng Huang (Peacock).
    And then the image of the Mandala called Long Feng Taiji Ziwei, apaered, imaging the image of the battle between the five toed Dragon and the Peacock.

    Opa Bear

    October 4, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    • Opa, I was surprised with your association with the five-toed dragon and the peacock though on looking at this mandala I can see both. What was surprising is that the mat that I use for meditation has the Peacock or Phoenix (FengHuang ?? – male/female – the yin) and the dragon (Long ? – the yang) opposing each other, with a ball in between. Taiji Ziwei ????is the famous martial arts practiced by many seniors here


      October 5, 2011 at 4:47 pm

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