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Celebrating Soul

Celebrating Soul

(Inner City Books)


Book Summary by Susie Pedigo


Hypothesis

Modern Western societies are facing the collapse of religion and myth. Reason, secularism and humanitarian aspirations are insufficient replacements because they do not reach into our psyches and provide renewal. They do not offer us meaning or purpose for our lives. Therefore we need a new mythology or religious system, one that includes reason and calls upon faith. Jungís school of psychology, which calls on science or reason and also has faith that consciousness has redemptive powers, can provide a foundation for that new religion.

Religion means a supreme value that provides meaning to our souls and to our cultures. All religions have made attempts to help individuals connect with their souls. They called the unconscious God and tried to help develop a proper relationship to it. At least two of those religious have used images of wounded children as a central myth. Christianity has the Christ Child and Judaism has Moses in the bulrushes. Jung sees the wounded child as an archetype.

When uncovered, the inner child makes the inner world real to the individual. It is proof that the psyche or soul is real. According to Jungian psychology nearly everybody has suffered some childhood trauma that has been buried in the unconscious. If it remains unconscious, it can determine the destiny of the individual. If on the other hand, the individual relives the experience emotionally, he is freed from it. Such emotional reliving is a kind of transformation.

Meaning and purpose for living have usually been subjects for religious study. Today, science has taught us that man is no longer the center of the universe, and that omnipotent, loving God is dead. Science attempted to replace traditional religion with reason, progress and materialism. Western society is beginning to see the collapse of this value, too. Jung has attempted to synthesize faith and science. The result is "Psychological dispensation" In other words, psychology is a specific method of organizing the way we think of the world..

Joachim of Flora has divided history into three parts: The Age of the Law(Torah), The Age of the Gospel, and the Age of Contemplation of the Holy Spirit. Modern Society has just begun to enter the third age during which each of us will find the incarnate God within. Jungian psychology calls the process of discovery of the god within "individuation".

Of course at this point, societies have not yet invented the methods to help us arrive at or stay in touch with the inner world (soul). So each of us must find our own form until communities become enlightened enough to create such structures. The only institution that exists at the moment to help the individual is depth psychotherapy. The twelve step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous may also aid in individuation.

Jung indicates that the way an individual views the world is determined by his unconscious. The ego therefore has limited power, but it can interact with the unconscious and even help shape the developing consciousness. Depth psychology is useful in this process. The first phase of psychic development is insight; the second is changing habits. Long established habits may not change easily, so the ego must help.

Prayer or what the Jungians call active imagination is useful. Active imagination can take the form of writing, painting, drawing, sculpting, guided meditations, dancing, singing contemplation of the written word, or playing an instrument. By taking images from the unconscious and putting them into some form, active imagination creates a communication between ego and unconscious and encourages individuation.

Myth is a construct that is meaningful because it casts light on the connection between the individual and the universal. The main idea of the Jungian myth is that consciousness is redemptive. Individuation, which takes a lifetime, is the means by which consciousness is discovered. It enables the individual to find the place where he and he alone belongs. Since self is seen as God, individuation involves the evolution of the god-image.

The new religion then is an attempt by humanity to become as aware as possible and thereby to contribute to the development of a new God-image. The new religion must therefore be more individual than traditional religions. It will have fewer rituals and less dogma. The only ritual so far developed is Depth psychology, which encourages the individual to forge a bond between the ego and something larger, the self. Religion today calls this self "God".

Consciousness that the individual achieves is not just redemptive for that individual but also for the whole world, past, present and future. Since we are part of the universe, and are involved in an ongoing relationship with the universe, it influences us and we influence it. That influence is what is being called the transformation of the God-image.

Etymologically, "Conscience" means knowing with. Consciousness knows with both the head and the heart. The Jungian myth includes the idea that changing the God-image is dependent on transforming human consciousness. The connection between ego and self represents the connection between man and God. This is best expressed in a reinterpretation of the myth of original sin.

In the Garden of Eden Adam had no awareness of good and evil, no separation between ego and self, no real relationship to God because too close to God to have separate identity. The expulsion of Adam from Eden can be interpreted as the beginning o ego-emergence from Self. It is also the beginning of true relationship with God since connection is now voluntary.

At the third stage, the awareness of the connection between ego self becomes part of the consciousness, and the awareness of God as part of self is born. The ideal is the complete separation of ego and self, and a complete awareness of the connection between the two.

Jung is the first man of the new epoch because he was the first man who recognized that our destiny is determined by our unconscious. While some people consider this the narcissistic age, the author would rename it the age of those wounded in the self. Many people suffer from a low sense of self as a result of injuries during childhood. When the self is threatened they feel immense rage.

The ego cannot exist without recognition. Rupert Sheldrake has stated the theory of "Morphic Resonance". The form and behavior of plants, animals, and even crystals is modified by connections to past organisms of the same species across time and space.

So while the first time an event occurs it will take much effort to make it occur, once it has happened it is easier to have a reoccurrence. Therefore, changes in the individual consciousness can influence a change in the collective psyche.

There are some images that are eternal, and basically, it is those images that mankind has called God. No matter where or when a man appears, some image of God is produced by his psyche. All any individual can know of God is what appears to that individual as Godís image in his psyche. Since God is outside ego or the conscious mind, there is no way to fully comprehend God.

When the individual meets something that is greater than his own ego through accidents, near death experiences, love, or dreams something of the Self or the God-image in the psyche is revealed to the conscious mind and is called God. Whether we wish for it to or not that God image works on us through our complexes. The values we think most important are part of that God image and help through our complexes to shape how we see the world.

The role of depth psychology is to ensure that the God that we celebrate is the true God of our childhood, not a false god of a childhood complex. The false god will shape a world that does not match objective reality, while the world shaped by the authentic God will correspond to reality. A neurotic vision of the world is based on a false god. Many of the god-images have a structure based on four. Such a structure is what Jung calls a quaternity. One example of a quaternity is the length-width-depth-time set of dimensions. Such quaternaries reveal the structures by which our minds unconsciously operate.

Finding and staying in contact with an authentic god-image is what enables an individual to make moral and life choices. Finding something greater than ego lets the individual stand strong and maintain personal integrity in the face of peer pressure or social opposition. The ability to feel guilt is evidence of a working God image. Even Adam and Eve discovered consciousness and guilt at the same time.

Another Christian image present in the mass, the drinking of blood and the eating of flesh Jung translates as learning to accept oneís own feelings, moods and emotions. The Christian rite will be replaced by depth psychology, which enables individuals to do just that. It will enable us to carry our own crosses, our complexes, the shadow, and our inferiorities and speed us on the road to individuation. As a result the individual will not need to project his own psychic conflicts onto others.

Reflections on readings:

. Depth psychology has the power to enable the individual to change his patterns of thinking and being into new more authentic ways of thinking and being thus granting a new life. As complexes are released some side of God is found. Each individual has a different side of God to expose. So everyone needs to make a contribution to the god-image that only he or she can make. That contribution is what is meant by eternal life.

The ego-self axis corresponds to the relationship between the individual and God. Every life journey begins with the ego losing the connection to Self or God in the involvement with the material world that is necessary to individuate. Lifeís purpose is to discover who we are supposed to be.

A message is delivered from the unconscious through dreams, visions, fantasies, or synchronistic events that will start the individual on the road to discover consciousness. Fear, anger, greed envy, must be neither suppressed nor repressed on this journey. They must be consciously faced. All of godís qualities both good and bad must be brought to awareness, but not necessarily be acted upon.

While the Buddhist defines the chain of suffering as the pattern of birth, sickness, suffering, old age and death, Jung defines it as patterns of belief or behavior which tend to be passed down in families. Suffering in childhood leads to building defenses or complexes, which the psyche then uses to respond to any event that is similar to the childhood event. The attempt to understand self frees the individual from the complex and therefore keeps him from inflicting it on others.

The Golden rule describes ideal behavior, but the rule that actually governs behavior is that we behave towards others as we have been treated.

Christians describe Christ as a suffering servant. Since that idea derives from the Old Testament, is used by the New Testament, and discusses the wounded child archetype of depth psychology, it bridges the three ages. The individual dissociates from the wounded child and damages the sense of self. Undervalued, misunderstood, unworthy, flawed, not what his parents wanted, the wounded child develops a negative self-image. Only by reliving the incidents that caused the wounding, can the individual learn to be whole.

God attempts to become unfragmented by working through mankind. Individual individuation is a process where the God-image evolves. Being shattered is a means to individuation because suffering leads to self-reflection.

The conflicts of duty we feel are reflection of the complexity of God who is a synthesis of opposites. One way to help the evolution of the god-image is for an individual to hold such opposites in awareness. It is not necessary to find a solution. The suffering caused by these conflicts is a reflection of who the individual is and thus is a part of the individuation process.

Eventually this awareness brings about a synthesis of the opposing forces. Being torn by two opposing duties is a form of crucifixion and is the symbolic meaning of Christís life. In order to be Christ-like it is necessary to suffer the conflict of good and evil. It is a way of helping God figure out his own nature.

The story of Jacob wrestling with the angel is interpreted as a myth about wrestling with inner problems or complexes or feelings. In showing courage to continue the wrestling the individual gains a blessing of individuation.

In the new era paying attention to the unconscious is a form of prayer. The best way a man can serve god is by becoming what God planned for the man to become. An individualís life is short but can reveal God before disappearing.

Psychotherapy helps the individual see his own "shadow" through the relationship formed between client and therapist. Jungian analysis attempts to reconstruct the god-image that was damaged in childhood.

Psychotherapy should focus on every day incidents. This focus causes an examination of emotion that can transform the individual, but only if tight boundaries are in place. The same time and place and regular appointments provide the needed boundaries. The transformation that occurs comes by learning to accept the negative parts of self and discovering the potential hidden in the "shadow."

Neuroses and complexes are interpreted as other gods. If they are not assimilated through self-awareness, then the individual is not fulfilling Godís plan for him. Complexes do provide meaning to experience, which is the reason for their existence. Complexes are sins because they keep the individual from seeing and appreciating inner and outer reality-the one true God.

There have been many cases of genocide, but the holocaust is different in that the Jews have kept the world aware of the holocaust. They pursue this awareness for a blessing that it will never happen again. By itself awareness redeems. By becoming aware of the holocaust, an individual can study the development of evil. The world displays more tolerance for the poor, minorities, the ill, and the disabled because of the wide awareness of the holocaust.

Depth psychology requires the recognition the underdog within needs help. The holocaust itself was a result of the wounded child archetype. Defeated in World War I and wounded by the terms of the treaty the German people looked for redemption in the perfection of purity and heroism. They identified too closely to the wounded child archetype and the archetype grew in importance.

In attempts to purify themselves, they carried the idea to the logical extreme of anything-good keep; anything bad, destroy. The Nazi becomes a symbol for that urge within each person. The Jew becomes a symbol for the weakest, most wounded part of each person. In order to destroy the Nazi it is necessary to accept the Jew. It is necessary to accept the weakest part in order to expose the persecutor of that weakness.

The myth of death and resurrection is the major belief of Christianity. Christ is man, a mixture of the natural animal and the spirit. He is different in that he succeeds in working through his childhood complexes. He became the person God meant him to be by working with the spirit of truth. Every human being has the potential to make the same transformation.

Paul indicates not death but change is the basic condition of humanity. Like Christ each individual needs to change from animal to spiritual, from being run by our complexes to living truthfully and lovingly. Truth means putting myths closer to reality in the place of our childhood myths.

One way to be born again is by paying attention to the wounded child within. Bring into daily awareness the wounded soul and discover when and how it was wounded. Rid oneself of childhood complexes. Then the discovery of meaning and purpose is possible.

Christ calls his followers to give up everything and everyone to follow him. Individuation asks the individual to give up everything he has believed before. It is not a peaceful process. The family that the individual must renounce is the family of inner personalities. The cross that he takes up is a symbol of uniting opposites. Anyone who follows his ego will lose his soul. With the loss of soul eventually the ego is incapable of renewal. The individualís central myth or complex must die through depth psychology. Rebirth then takes care of itself.

Love causes us to make a total commitment. That commitment is necessary to function fully. It enables us to stop allowing our complexes to determine our actions. The love of our parents causes us to remain children. Only love of something greater can deliver us from our childhood complexes. God should be the something greater. One reason that relationships in our society are in trouble is that many project the God value onto a human lover.

Godís message to seventy-five year old Abram was to leave everything behind and start a new life. At any age, the human psyche may demand that an individual try new ideas, new identities. It is essential that each human being goes on changing for when change ends, the individual begins to die.

For Jung prayer is the occasion when the ego informs the self that the self is demanding something the ego finds intolerable. It calls into action the connection between ego and self. Self contains opposites. Psychology and religion agree on one point, the need to remain in contact with a higher power.

Edward Edinger says that prayer is any activity that involves imagination: writing, drawing painting, dance, drama, sculpting, dreaming. Prayer is not a request for something specified like a hundred dollars to pay the light bill. It may be an unspecified request or a request for the unconscious to send an image.

The birth of Christ may be interpreted as the birth of individual Self. That it occurred in a stable among the animals means that the emergence of Self is a natural part of human nature. The idea that there was "no room in the inn" may be interpreted as the more socialized aspects of the psyche donít want to allow individuation to occur.

The ideal of imitating Christ, of being Christ like, authentically means to deal with oneís own complexes and wounds, and to hold in awareness both the material values of the world and the inner values of the soul. It means to understand our own faults in a way that makes them a challenge to the ego.

Science in the last two centuries has placed an emphasis on causality and materialism. As a result the individual has been reduced to a statistic. While science is an excellent tool Western civilization has made it a god. It is a false god and must be replaced by placing a higher valued on the importance of the individual.

Mankind has learned how we are like machines and animals. With the new age, it is time to figure out how we are like gods.

Each individual has a soul and treasure to be found by examining the soul. No two souls are alike, so no two treasures are alike. To live a meaningful, rich life we simply must live in a way that is true to our inner experience. Each of us has what he needs within the self.

Lack of self-knowledge can harm the individual physically. In order to honor the individuation process. take a rest time once a week. It can be as short as 15 minutes. Use it for meditation, dance, drawing, thinking or simply experiencing your emotions. An hour of psychotherapy a week can also be a sacred experience. These practices affirm the importance of the inner world.

The Final Word

Consciousness or self-knowledge is the knowledge of God. The process of individuation is the process of becoming conscious of our selves. Individuation is the major method of worship and service to God. The main institution devoted to this new religion is depth psychology. The first theme that the new religion should deal with is the archetype of the wounded child because it most easily opens the inner world. Jungian psychology is not the new religion, but it is a strong advocate for that religion.

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