Through a Jungian Lens

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Responsible for the Meaning of My Life

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Winter shadows in Fish Creek Provincial Park

I took this photo on the weekend, a scene from a section that is unmarked by the presence of paths and human footsteps, a natural piece of a young scrub poplar forest. I am attracted to those areas that for a moment are still free of human presence, natural settings that remind us of a time and a place that no longer are the norm in the modern world. These natural settings talk to me of a time long past, a time of mythological gods and goddesses, of tricksters and talking animals of the First Nations stories that I learned more than forty years ago. When I find myself in these spaces I become quiet; listening, watching, smelling the air – hoping that outside of the edge of my vision I catch a glimpse of the alter world that I know exists.

I learned from Nietzsche, long, long ago, that god was dead – dead in the hearts and souls of modern man. Science and rationalism had done in the Christian god. Like the Greek and Roman and Viking gods, the numinous presence of the spiritual that the Christian god embodied, this god had failed to make the cut and was tossed into the dustbin in which we toss all our deities when they fail us. But in spite of what Nietzsche told us, I still sense the numinous alive and well in the world. But then again, who am I to make such as statement, after all, I am just some partly crazy psychotherapist wanting some fame and glory and . . . meaning.

As I wander through the almost quiet spaces I get to feel the presence of those old gods and goddess who have chosen to remain hidden from the collective. I know that they sense my presence and approve. I bring with me my deep sense of spiritualism that isn’t bound to the old images, a spiritualism that is open-ended and has unconditional regard for them. For me, they aren’t dead and that is important for with their continued existence outside of form and institution and dogma, I find a place for myself. I belong in this larger, more inclusive world. I become a part, of the world, not some outsider at odds with a shallow world of science, dogma, corporations and governments.

Sensing these presences, I learn that I am not a victim of anything. I am as I am. I am responsible, fully, for what I become, what I do, how I am. I cannot hide in ignorance and blame the darkness that I see in the world for that darkness is also within me. I must get to know my own darkness which is also the same darkness of my neighbours, friends and enemies. And in becoming aware that there is no one else to blame, I am forced to own my own pain and make the world around me a better place, not demand that others do this work for me. I am responsible.

“If the old metaphysical powers are dead; and if we walk carrying as much darkness as light, then we are now obliged to stand more consciously and responsibly before the universe. In Jungian terms, each of us has become responsible for our own individuation. Individuation is not only the inherent, natural impulse within to become what we were meant to be, but the moral imperative of consciousness to cooperate, to further the mysterious aims of nature through the particularities of the individual . . .  we are obliged to take responsibility for the meaning of our lives.”  (Hollis, Tracking the Gods, pp 35-36)


4 Responses

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  1. Robert don’t give up on Nietzsche all together. My sense is that some of us must hide; put on a mask to move through this screwed up world. Not the mask of the persona, rather a disguise we adopt to keep the collective at bay.

    “Everything profound loves the mask . . . . It not the worst of things of which one is most ashamed: there is not only deceit behind the mask – there is much goodness in cunning. I believe that a man who has something fragile and valuable to conceal might roll through life thick and round as an old green thick-hooped wine barrel: the refinement of his shame would have it so. A man whose shame has depth, encounters his destinies and delicate decisions too on paths which very few ever reach and of whose existence his intimates and neighbours may not know: his mortal danger is concealed from their eyes, as is the fact that he has regained his sureness of life. . . .”
    Friedrich Nietzsche, “Beyond Good and Evil(p. 51)”

    I wonder if a true discriminating consciousness might have a hint of paranoia to aid in concealment?

    John Ferric

    March 6, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    • Have no fear, John, Nietzsche is not on my “take to the used bookshop” list. Those books are permanent residents in my collection, and very well thumbed through.


      March 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm

  2. The Victim Complex is a nasty one, indeed. I watch for it continually in my patients.


    March 6, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    • 🙂 Yes, indeed. It is nasty and makes working with clients/patients a challenge if one is to help them get unstuck.


      March 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm

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