Through a Jungian Lens

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The Basis of Emptiness

with 9 comments


Eros and Pathos on a roof top

“Every relationship has its particular dignity. There is no such thing as an unworthy love or one to be ashamed of, because each experience corresponds to a profound individual need. And if and when it ends there is nothing to regret, because at that particular time the loved one filled our emptiness, no matter what happened next.” [Carotenuto, Eros and Pathos, p. 33]

These are powerful words, words that heal where often we use words that attack the self or other due to feelings of present discord within a relationship. There is no such thing as unworthy love. What we have a hard time understanding that love doesn’t owe us anything other than the experience. We need to learn to accept the gift of love whether it is for a short time or for decades. And, when that gift of love has disappeared into some other place leaving us alone with ourselves in spite of the presence or non-presence of the one with whom we shared love, we need to say thank you for that time of love rather than engage in interpersonal warfare.

As I walked the beach earlier today, I looked at the people along the way. Most were couples; most of those couples were men and women. It was easy to spot those who were in love and those who were in hate. The rest in the middle ground were for the most part, more into themselves than their partners, but not oblivious of their presence. Most of these others were obviously couples well used to each other’s presence.

I have to admit that both my wife and I are still filling our empty spaces with each other. In spite of more than forty years together, the well hasn’t run dry and there is no taking each other for granted. Not unlike young lovers caught in the throes of Eros, of Cupid’s arrows, we need to see each other and be close enough for touch when the need for contact presents itself. In absence of each other’s presence, we are left holding onto something empty.

And when the need for the Other is no longer necessary, when the holes are filled by whatever love was needed and offered? What then?


9 Responses

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  1. Dear Robert,
    Thank you for this Post and magnificent photo of the flower.
    Very True words you wrote – with deep feelings !

    Opa Bear

    March 9, 2013 at 7:33 am

    • Yes, they are true words, but to be honest, there is much left unsaid as you know. What is left unsaid does not undo that which is said. Thanks, as always, my dear Opa, for the words of encouragement. This flower sits near me in the morning when I meditate on the roof top of the condo in Playa del Carmen.


      March 9, 2013 at 8:16 pm

  2. These words are a lovely idealistic goal, and don’t we want to practice them. They are easy to believe when you haven’t been degraded and humiliated, shattered and broken by an egregious betrayal or abandonment. For someone still in the throes of such a shattering, your advice can easily be taken as either a “spiritual by-pass” or a sign of moral failure. Instead, let’s recognize some relationships are profoundly destructive, and many people do not recover from their impact, at least not in this lifetime.

    Sandra Lee Dennis

    March 9, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    • Idealistic? Yes, they are idealistic. Carotenuto is a romantic even though a Jungian analyst. As for being easy to believe, I doubt it. Nothing about love is easy. I can’t claim certainty but can only tell my story and how the stories of others resonate either positively or negatively. I have learned that my certainties are nothing but my own illusions or delusions. It is good to have your comments, Dr. Dennis. I do hope you will read more and challenge more. Thank you.


      March 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm

  3. Dear Robert and Dr. Linda,

    As I think this issue is of great importance, I like to add something.
    Could it be, that only after one has experienced being – degraded and humiliated, shattered and broken by an egregious betrayal or abandonment, or more, – only then, one can become aware of the true (deeper) meaning of the words that Robert wrote. If,…,if,….one is able to confront him/herself with this terrible pain and anger, and put the question WHY, did all of these terrible things happened to me ? – a question of WHY that goes beyond the common question Why as we are use to think of in our society, that is, not by way of thinking that, they are guilty or I am guilty, but opening the possibility of the presence of a “new” third possibility (of which unfortunately we know so little of, but is a real existence).
    I think that by doing so, one “starts” a “process”, (that of course will be different for every individual) – and in and during that process, maybe one can find “peace”, IN ourselves.
    That finding of peace concerning the issue does not necessarily means that we got rid of those terrible experiences – in my vision, the experience will always be there (because it is written in the Books of Books and can’t completely be erased), but because of the “peace” IN ourselves we are able to take distance and the pain and anger will be less severe.

    I don’t think (but who am I ?) that what I mean to say is to be considered as a spiritual by-pass or a sign of moral failure (denial) – it also has nothing to do, or to be compared with handling the situation as we use to do in our society with the words to “put the things into perspective” (and don’t bother me with it anymore…)

    Opa Bear

    March 10, 2013 at 5:47 am

    • As always, dear Opa, your words add much to the discussions, never more so than with this discussion. I am thankful for your response as I was “hesitant” to offer a richer response in fear of over-reacting. I am grateful that Dr. Dennis has added her words to the discussion to bring forth further responses. Thank you, my cherished friend. I do hope that Oma is doing well. 🙂


      March 10, 2013 at 5:58 pm

  4. Addition :
    My apologies Dr. Dennis, in calling you Dr. Linda (Freudian slip).

    After I wrote my response I visited your site and I read (quote):
    “I was also surprised by the spiritual deepening and tenderness of heart that eventually opened up through the pain – and – The power of the broken heart to reveal grace”.

    So, I am glad to find us on the same level of understanding – I think you are “brave” to confront your Animus and tried to restore Balance with / through your Feminine.

    Opa Bear

    March 10, 2013 at 6:16 am

  5. yes, thank you, I don’t understand why people are not better off after good relationships…at least don’t project sorrow into others circumstances, or don’t ask about them until your heart is bigger

    lost among the typical

    March 10, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    • It isn’t about the “Other,” ever. People remain who they are until they do their own personal work. One unconsciously chooses partners based on potential for self-discovery. Regardless of one’s relationships, good or bad, one is always stuck with “self” and can never “scapegoat” or “canonize” their partners thus off-loading personal responsibility for knowing “self.” Thanks, Carrie.


      March 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm

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