Through a Jungian Lens

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A Life of Meaning in Spite of Denial

with 4 comments

Sitting on the fence

I am back with a photo of a little, common bird that more often than not gets overlooked. There is a tendency to focus on colour, on what is striking and different when taking photos and even on how we regard our lives. The common, everyday things are lost to our vision because they are common. It is hard for any of us to associate uniqueness and specialness to ourselves and the lives we live. Meaningfulness appears to be vested in others. Thoughts of superstars, actors, singers, musicians, artists, politicians and religious leaders come to our mind when thinking about having meaningful lives.

I am as guilty in this thinking as anyone else. I project the notion of a meaningful life onto others such as the Dali Lama or famous Jungian writers such as James Hollis, Robert Johnson, John Dourley and past great people such as Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Tolstoi, Jung, Christ, Mohammed, and so on. When looking at myself I see ordinariness. I discount my individuality as being a deficit rather than as being a unique and meaningful version of a human. To harbor the least thought of being somehow special and having significant meaning as a human, is viewed by myself and often those who are in my world as hubris.  I quickly knock myself down before another will knock me down – of course, this is all projection as I don’t really know anyone who would actually denigrate me or discount me as a person.

Yet, like this little bird, I want to fly, to soar and have meaning – meaning that I can understand and honour. I can’t find this meaning in the outer world and have that outer world acknowledgement of my worth actually stick into my psyche. I need to believe in myself. I have just read a book I bought on Friday, The Essence of Jung’s Psychology and Tibetan Buddhism. I want to bring one quote from the book here which I found in the Epilogue for the book written by Radmila Moacanin:

“. . . psychological health requires a meaningful life. The quest for meaning i the innate and spontaneous urge to self-realization and wholeness or completeness, to become true to one’s inner nature; this is the task of individuation, the path to the heart – to freedom. The urge toward self-realization, as aspiration to buddhahood, is also the central concept of Buddhist psychology. It is the urge of the mind to awaken, to become conscious, which is what the word buddha means: awakened one. Jung points out that the task of individuation – which involves paying serious attention to the unconscious as well as the conscious contents off our psyche – is imposed by nature.” (pp 110-111)

So what is stopping me? Well, it is my mind that discounts what is already present within me. The mind, not others or my body, stops me from acknowledging my worth, the fact that simply in existing I have meaning. In living in community, I bring meaningfulness to those around me as teacher, as principal, as counsellor, as father and grandfather, as husband and friend. Others see what I don’t and they value what they see. Of course, this isn’t just what happens to me, it is what happens to all of us if we dare to admit it. During those quiet moment when we are left alone to our own thoughts, we listen to those thoughts that come from deep within, a place that knows our personal secrets, our personal shame and guilt.

And it is this, this habit of listening to the negative voice of the unconscious, which spurs me to become more conscious, to take the sting out of voices of the personal unconscious. With consciousness I learn to accept the reality that the kingdom of heaven or nirvana lies within me.


4 Responses

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  1. We are Transmitters
    -D.H. Lawrence

    As we live, we are transmitters of life.
    And when we fail to transmit life, life fails to flow through us.

    That is part of the mystery of sex, it is a flow onwards.
    Sexless people transmit nothing.

    And if, as we work, we can transmit life into our work,
    life, still more life, rushes into us to compensate, to be ready
    and we ripple with life through the days.

    Even if it is a woman making an apple dumpling, or a man a stool,
    if life goes into the pudding, good is the pudding
    good is the stool,
    content is the woman, with fresh life rippling in to her,
    content is the man.

    Give, and it shall be given unto you
    is still the truth about life.
    But giving life is not so easy.
    It doesn’t mean handing it out to some mean fool, or letting the living dead eat you up.
    It means kindling the life-quality where it was not,
    even if it’s only in the whiteness of a washed pocket-handkerchief.

    John Ferric

    May 8, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    • Yes, John, we are transmitters 🙂 Thanks for bringing D.H. Lawrence’s poem here. And for those who are not transmitters, W.H. Auden has a few words:

      “We would rather be ruined than changed.
      We would rather die in our dread
      Than climb the cross of the present
      And let our illusions die.”


      May 8, 2012 at 6:53 pm

  2. Dear Robert,

    Your sharing allowed me to gather more “meaning”.

    Thank you for this Post and thank you John for your addition.

    Yes, indeed, living our life’s and notice the common things that are presented to us in the movie that is our life – the simple and common things that appear in what I call the house and kitchen stuff.

    In moments of awareness, I let them surprise me as a child would react – with the feeling of interest.

    But just noticing them is not enough I think, when we notice them we have to ask ourselves what story they have to tell us – communication and meaning – because everything has a meaning.
    I have experienced that phenomenon as synchronicity reveals themselves in the area of the common things and not in the area of the “big” things.

    Wonderful that you accompanied this Post with the picture of the common Sparrow – Harmony !

    Opa Bear

    May 9, 2012 at 3:05 am

    • Yes, to notice what story they are telling us for they have stories to tell us about ourselves as well as their own story for together our stories join into one full story. Thank you, Opa.


      May 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm

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