Posts Tagged ‘consciousness’

My Carl Jung Action Figure

October 4, 2011
Carl Jung Action Figure

Carl Jung Action Figure

I have numerous totemic items around my house that fortify the environment with their imagery, energy, artistry and energetic properties. Many of them had to be stored safely away to clear the area for other activity while 115 people, including lots of children, came through my house during the weekend wedding event in September.

One figure that remained, who has been catching my eye and capturing my imagination through the past month, is the wonderful little piece of plastic that my youngest daughter Arlene gave to me, my Carl Jung Action Figure. The original packaging had a huge shadow of the figure behind it with scary graphics, “Beware of the shadow.” There’s Carl in his suit with his pipe in hand; like, “I’m just sayin’!”

In the dimensions that human consciousness seems to exist within, there is a back side and a front side to everything. An up side and a downside. An inside and an outside. A you side and a me side. A his side and a her side. This world and the otherworld. The living and the dead. There is what we do know and what we don’t know. The sayable and the unsayable. We live in a world of opposites that cannot be separated. Like the light side and the dark side of the moon, they are one thing. But we so often forget about or deny the back of everything, what we don’t see and remain unaware of.

“Shadow” in Jungian terms is the parts of self and life that we are unaware of. That, in my estimation, is 99% of what is going on. If we think we know, we are probably wrong.

Looking into a mirror, we see the front side of what we present to the world, with a little twist maybe the side view, or with a hand mirror the back view. Without a mirror we don’t see ourselves at all. Think about it. Everyone else sees us coming and going, sideways and all ways, but we don’t ever see our self ever without a reflecting tool. This doesn’t mean someone else knows us by seeing us, but – think about it  – we don’t even see ourselves. This is a metaphor for everything, really. We don’t see the “other” dimensions of almost anything we are looking at. There is a whole lot of shadow going on. “I’m just sayin’,” says Carl.

To “know” is a virtue, something rewarded by teachers and parents and peers and public all through life. To not know – you failed that “course”. Embarrassment. Pain. Shame.

What? NOT knowing is the truth! Knowing is so, so, so, so limited and limiting.

We gotta get over it. I’m just sayin’.

The authority of experience

March 3, 2010

I was reminded today in a conversation with a dear friend of a value that I learned at an early age from Buckminster Fuller. He said he felt the world would be a different place if people depended “always and only on their own experience”. Bucky even re-wrote whole systems of mathematics and geometry because he found that the systems he was being taught didn’t match his experience. As he looked into it he discovered faulty conclusions made long ago on top of which had been built more mathematical systems which then of course would be false.

Reflecting on this I thought of conflicts and prejudices that continue for generation after generation. An Irish friend recently wrote about growing up Catholic in Ireland, internalizing the idea that Protestants were the “enemy”, even though he never even met a Protestant until he was in his teens. He was writing of the immense sadness he felt for his people, and all of us, that such animosities get carried along without even the simplest efforts toward dialogue and mutual understanding.

Similarly I remember hearing in high school that so-and-so was a “slut” and not realizing until more than a decade later that maybe, probably, this wasn’t even remotely true. So-and-so might have just innocently kissed someone behind the barn, and had to wear that label indefinitely because of it. It is shocking to realize how much of our own thinking gets built around assumptions unconsciously created and then just as unconsciously perpetuated and defended as if they were “truths.”

I remember reading in Jung’s writing once that if another man has a vision of a burning bush, what is that to him (Jung)? So the other fellow talks to God, but how do we know that what God supposedly said to that fellow is true for us? The early Celtic Christians were taught to value the authority of personal experience over anything a priest or anyone else said. Only when Rome came in and imposed their own “truths” were these people forced to defer authority to someone else or die.

Which brings me back to what I learned from Bucky Fuller. What if every one of us worked hard to discern whether our opinions or assumptions are based upon personal, direct experience or upon hearsay or solidarity with a group? What might happen if we did this? It might actually cause a lot of chaos, but also might give birth to a lot more consciousness as well. Consciousness is a high value, I believe, in this world that too often runs on automatic, unexamined life. I would like to see this experiment happen. I re-commit to the project myself.

Making Consciousness

February 9, 2010

Carl Jung suggests that the purpose of our lives as humans is to make the unconscious conscious. We all go about it in our various ways, but that is the theme. Buckminster Fuller said something along these lines that having heard it helped shape my life, I believe. When I speak of it I call it “Bucky’s ruler.” He held out his arms maybe a yard or two apart saying  “If the spectrum of everything that affects us at any given moment is this long, that which we can pick up with our sense and technologies is only this long.” He then held two fingers together so closely that there was barely any space between them. My young mind was blown. You mean I, and we, are 99% unconscious? I think this set my path.  I wanted to figure out how to be in relationship to the rest of what is on that ruler. The quest took me through drugs, and God and then into depth psychology.

This committment of writing a blog piece every day for 40 days is good for the project of making consciousness. Every day I go about my day doing what I do, and then at some point I know I will sit and try to pull something out of the diffuse material floating around in my head, find a thought or an idea, then put some words around it. After I finish there is the satisfying feeling of having given birth to a little piece of something. Something that wasn’t there now is there. Something that I wasn’t necessarily conscious of I’ve just pulled into consciousness. It’s good.

I just shoveled the last batch of snow off the porch to get ready for the next batch that is coming in tonight. As I worked I felt the frozen earth and trees resting, but pregnant and gestating. Soon spring will come and everything will explode with new life. I could feel myself and my fellow humans similarly pregnant with 2010, ready give birth to new life and consciousness. What will unfold from us? We are involved in such an interesting project on this sweet little planet.