Through a Jungian Lens

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Individuation: A Time And A Season

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It has been a while since I last took a photo of a turtle. While walking through Hong Mei park a few days ago I saw three turtles in this post, each on its own lily pad. As the autumn season progresses, I find myself slowing down as though I am trying to match the pace of the season, getting ready for a quiet time. I find this a bit discouraging as it forces me to take stock of myself. Like some bear preparing for a winter’s hibernation, I wonder if I am doing what I need to do before the snow hits and life slows to a crawl. Of course, the likelihood of snow is low here in Changzhou, China, but the body and psyche disregards the temperature gauge. I look around and see local people wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and jackets even though the temperature is still in the 20+ Celsius range (26 C as I write this). There seems to be a bit of a disconnect between the current weather condition and the way people are dressed. It is all a matter of mind set.  Since it is autumn, one dresses accordingly.

It is something about being within a collective and being in that collective and behaving for the most part unconsciously, or as the people I have got to know would say, acting within the framework of tradition. Stepping outside of traditional boundaries is a risk that few are willing to take. If anything, those who aspire to be “distinctly” different, are assumed to be corrupted by the western world or simply just “off.”

It makes me think that my own culture in the western world is not much different – it’s just a matter of degree. It seems to me that the boundaries of the collective are wider and as such are perhaps that much more difficult to breach. Once one does break through the boundaries, one is isolated – socially and psychologically. Who will trust you when you consciously move out of the collective mindset, the collective  way of believing, especially when the boundaries are deliberately expanded to ensure that you stay within the boundaries of the collective.

There is a need to take care on this journey of individuation that leads away from the collective unconscious. There is a definite sense of betrayal felt by those “left behind” even if it is only a psychological distancing. Though there is a definite sense of being different from others, one still belongs to the collective through family and community. Individuation doesn’t call for burning bridges with others, it asks for one to change the way one relates to others, to relate consciously without projections. It is only in this way that we serve as a catalyst for others to be changed, consciously.

But of course, this all takes time and that time passes slowly. I know I get impatient and would like it to be always actively percolating hastening change, both in myself and others. The shift in seasons reminds me that there is a time and a season for everything under the heavens.

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