Through a Jungian Lens

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Working on Relationship One Touch and One Thought at a Time

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At at rooftop restaurant in Agra with the Taj Mahal in the background

Not so long ago, my wife and I spent a month in India where this photo was taken of us during the winter break from teaching in China. The reason for presenting this photo was simply to talk about the relationship of masculine and feminine, a relationship that is both an outer world dynamic as well as an inner world dynamic. I want to begin with the caveat that I am not a relationship expert by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. The truth is, I struggle with both the outer and inner aspects of relationship. I wonder if this is the case for most people who have some degree of consciousness. In saying this, I make an assumption that the least conscious have the least issues with relationship, especially if both in the relationship are in a similar state of unconscious participation in the world.

Shiva and Shakti - two become one - holy marriage - mysterium coniunctionis

Why? Well, for me it seems the more I become aware of myself and of my partner, the more difficult it becomes to find balance. For me, the days of being almost fully engaged in the outer world at the expense of a fuller sense of self, the days of sharing the tasks of building a family and a home gave a sense that there was a mutual balance as there was a mutual expectation. But as the children leave and the home becomes relatively empty, we are forced to look more closely at ourselves and at the person with whom we have travelled on the journey of parenting and home.

But in all honesty, how much of the difficulties that one meets in relationship is about the other person? In those who have begun to be aware of their individuality, there is a significant shift to “me” with most of the world then being seen mostly through the lens of “me.” In my own case, it took a shift into crisis in order for me to come to grips with myself. As I gradually wrestled with the projections, ideas I held as truths, I began to see that what I attributed to my wife as fault was not about her at all. With more time and healing work I began to find out about my complexes and the triggers that made them flare into presence where they caused havoc with my relationship, not only with my wife, but also with others.

Throughout the trials I brought to relationship, and similar things happening with her, we held together. In my opinion, the glue that held us together through the earthquakes and tsumanis was physical connection, the connection symbolized by Shiva and Shakti, a physical fusing that was in itself a holy act.

Jungian psychology somehow misses this vital part of the journey into wholeness. The alchemical process of individuation, the journey of self discovery with the integration of the masculine within and the feminine within into a whole, a holistic self is part of the process, not the whole process. Being present in life is as vital as is being present to one’s soul.

The psyche is contained within a body. Relation with others is as much about the  senses as it is about inner feelings, responses, complexes and archetypal stirrings. To banish the physical to some dusty and shadowy corner in favour of an inner mystical experience instead of combining the inner mystical experience with the outer physical experience is not much different that denying one’s inner self, remaining in the dark about the true nature of self.

So, I meditate on how can I bring these two aspects together as seen here where Shiva and Shakti are meditating together, immersed in each other as one. And I am thankful that my orientation to an inner world is contrasted to my wife’s orientation to an outer world. For us, this balance of opposites somehow works.


Written by Robert G. Longpré

November 5, 2011 at 3:27 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Dear Robert,
    Thank you for this Post and magnificent picture of the two of you and the misty Taj Mahal on the background !

    A masterly explanation Robert of the road that we travel, to end with as you wrote : “The alchemical process of individuation, the journey of self discovery with the integration of the masculine within and the feminine within into a whole,…..”.

    Your Question ?,
    You wonder whether your struggling with both the outer and inner aspects of relationship is also experienced by most people who have some degree of consciousness.

    I only can tell you about my experiences as individual that may differ with your experiences, however we also share some things as collective beings.

    For me Individuation means, becoming conscious of my shadows as much as possible, and coming to terms with these parts of my shadow by means of integrating or/and transformation.
    To become conscious in this manner means, not only to focus on the relationship with my wife, but also on other people and circumstances – in general everything that I am able to experience in a conscious matter in my life – I believe this is the same as you do.

    What I write hereafter, is me becoming aware of a situation that I have not gave thought to before your question.

    When it comes to the word “struggle” that you used – it seems to me that we differ somewhat.
    As I see it, struggle means effort – and yes, I struggle with my shadow sides when I become conscious of them when confronted with other people and/or circumstances.
    I also struggled in the first years of our marriage.

    Strangely enough (and I screened myself for this) – now, when dealing with my projections in our relation – I can’t experience them as a struggle anymore.
    Annoyance or irritation etc. does not appear to surface in my feelings.

    What I mean to say is, it doesn’t cost me any effort to transform or integrate my projection.
    What is surfacing, is the feeling of ever expanding love towards my wife, combined with feelings of gratitude – because of my wife I am able to get to know myself – love myself – and “experience” the work on/in our relation.

    I don’t know if all this is answering your question – or maybe that my answer is colored by tricks of my anima, and therefore sounds as pure non sense – if so, my apologies that I have wasted your time.

    Opa Bear

    November 6, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    • I am glad that you liked the photo. The Taj Mahal was fuzzy because I was using a weaker camera and the lighting and air quality were not helpful. Of course having a stranger take the photo for us with my camera was yet another factor that resulted in a poorer image. I am glad that you don’t experience relation as a struggle any longer. I don’t think I am quite there yet though the moments of disequilibrium lessen with time. There is so much more to say to you, but it will have to wait until I send an email to you. Thank you, Ric, for you patience and for your fullness of presence here.


      November 7, 2011 at 9:02 pm

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