PSYCHE and SYMBOL: HEALING and MEANING
In discussing the human mind, in all its layers and dimensions, aka 'psyche', it is helpful to be able to use the terminology and concepts of Jungian psychology.
The human psyche is a unity, that for convenience' sake is talked about as if it were divided into three seqments: the ego or conscious mind of ' I '-awareness the personal unconscious, which includes the diverse aspects known as the shadow. the anima-animus syzygy , and the Self; and the collective unconscious, which contains the archetypes. (25) In brief, the ego complex is the conscious perspective of the individual, the personal unconscious contains the unconscious and repressed contents of the individual, and the collective unconscious functions for the collective society in much the same way that the personal unconscious functions for the individual.
The collective unconscious is available to each individual psyche as well, and contains the "definite forms in the psyche which seem to be present always and everywhere,” (26) and which manifest themselves in imagery as 'motifs', called archetypes.
All three segments, taken together, were termed the 'objective psyche' by Jung in his later writings. (28) The objective psyche produces spontaneous images in dreams and fantasies, which when brought to consciousness in psychoanalysis are found to relate to instincts, emotions and drive impulses (29) , with which the patient has been out of touch, and unable to experience in daily life. (30) Jungian psychologist Edward C. Whitmont writes that the manifold expressions of the libido, or energy, of the objective psyche, as a whole, include all aspects of human life, •"including the urge toward a spiritual or religious search for meaningful existence" (31) - that is, the search for God, for transcendence, for ultimate meaning. This statement indicates that the goals of Jungian psychology are not incompatible with the goals of religion.
In brief, the structure and dynamics of the objective psyche are as follows;
The ego resists easy definition: Whitmont writes, 'when consciousness attempts to make a statement about itself it is like the eye trying to see itself." (32) Even "Jung admits: 'The nature of consciousness is a riddle whose solution I do not know.’” (33) Whitmont writes that it would be better to speak of an ego-complex, rather than to assume that the ego is a simple component of the psyche. In fact, it is capable of changes and variations, self-transcendence, fragmentations and renewals. (34) Whitmont writes,
“(The ego) functions as a center, subject and object of personal identity and consciousness, that is, consciousuess of personal identity which extends and continues through time, space, and cause-and-effect sequence, and which is capable of reflecting about itself, as in Descartes’ ‘Cogito ergo sum’. What we experience as personal identity or ego would constitute the personal shell of this complex.” (35)
“The ego, as specific content of consciousness, is not a simple or elementary factor but a complex one which, as such, cannot be described exhaustively. We understand the ego as the complex factor to which all conscious contents are related. It forms, as it were, the centre of the field of consciousness; and in so far as this comprises the empirical personality, the ego is the subject of all personal acts of consciousness. The relation of a psychic content to the ego forms the criterion of its consciousness, for no content can be conscious unless it is represented to a subject.” (36)
In this passage, Jung highlights the most important function of the ego for psychoanalysis - its ability to relate the contents of the unconscious to a subject, or center of consciousness (the ego), and to each other in a field of consciousness. Jungian psychologist John A. Sanford writes,
“Healing occurs when unconscious contents are made conscious. For psychological healing to occur there must be a relationship between the ego and the forces of the unconscious. This relationship is achieved primarily through (the ego's) becoming conscious of the contents of the unconscious.” (37)
In a sense attention alone is the healing agent. Sanford writes that Jung likens the therapeutic process to an alchemical process in which all the elements of the psyche are contained in a vessel or retort -- which is the psychotherapeutic relationship between therapist and patient -- and to which 'heat' is applied, in the form of attention. (38) Sanford goes on to say that "Love is the crucible in which individuation takes place.” (39)
Simone Weil also equates attention with healing and love, when she writes,
“Not only does the love of God have attention for its substance; the love of our neighbor, which we know to be the same love, is made of this same substance. Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention. The capacity to give one's attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle.” (40)
In Weil's opinion, if we wish to have access to the truth we must develop our power of attention.
“Attention consists of suspending our thought, leaving it detached, empty, and ready to be penetrated by the object; it means holding in our minds, within reach of this thought, but on a lower level and not in contact with it, the diverse knowledge we have acquired which we are forced to make use of. Our thought should be in relation to all particular and already formulated thoughts, as a man on a mountain who, as he looks forward, sees also below him, without actually looking at them, a great many forests and plains. Above all, our thought should be empty, waiting, not seeking anything, but ready to receive in its naked truth the object that is to penetrate it .” (42)
This open and receptive attitude should be ours in relation to the contents of the unconscious as they surface and are held by the ego in the light of consciousness and attention. The ego can stretch to make room for them. Jung writes,
“Theoretically, no limits can be set on to the field of consciousness, since it is capable of indefinite extension. Empirically, however, it always finds its limit when it comes up against the unknown. This consists of everything we do not know, which, therefore is not related to the ego as the centre of the field of consciousness. The unknown falls into two groups of objects: those which are outside and can be experienced by the senses, and those which are inside and are experienced immediately. The first group comprises the unknown in the outer world; the second the unknown in the inner-world. We call this latter territory the unconscious.” (43)
This passage brings us naturally to the second segment of the objective psyche, the personal unconscious.
The Personal Unconscious
The personal unconscious contains such diverse aspects as the shadow, the anima/animus syzygy, and the Self. However, the Self is the most important of these. The anima/animus syzygy will not really enter into the discussion in this paper, so I will not treat it. A discussion of the Self and the Shadow will suffice. These diverse aspects of the personal unconscious are found universally in humankind, and therefore can be called archetypes since they have an universal , archetypal dimension. (44) But because each individual develops over the course of life, and very early on, his or her own unconscious, colored and shaped by the particulars of his or her own life (as we will see), the Self, shadow etc., are treated in psychoanalysis as aspects of the personal unconscious and only in special cases as archetypes, depending on the context of the dream image in which it occurs.
The Self although unconscious, is the potential from which the actual objective psyche grows, and from which the later individuation process takes its cues. Therefore, the Self plays a role in two processes: first, in the initial movment of ego-formation, and second, in the process of individuation. The movement of growth in the human psyche is first away from the Self, and then toward it. In the first process, both the ego and the personal unconscious are developed.
“The development of the ego takes place as a result of the encounter between the Self as a potential personality trend and external reality, that is between inner potential individuality and outer collectivity. On the first level of the experience between right and wrong, which is the basis for self-acceptance, the beginnings of conscience are vested in and projected into the outer collectivitv. The child accepts himself (sic) in terms of fitting in. Harmony with the Self and thus with conscience appears at first to be dependent upon external values; and those elements of the individuality which are too much at variance with accepted personal values cannot, seemingly, be consciously incorporated into the image which the ego has of itself. They therefore become subject to repression.” (45)
“The term shadow refers to that part of the personality which has been repressed for the sake of the ego ideal. Since everything unconscious is projected, we encounter the shadow in projection - in our view of ‘the other fellow’. The existence of a shadow is a general human archetypal fact, since the process of ego- formation -the clash between collectivity and individuality - is a general human pattern. The shadow is projected in two forms: individually, in the shape of the people to whom we ascribe all the evil : and collectively, in its most general form, as the Enemy, the personification of evil.” (46)
The particulars of both the child's ego and personal unconscious are formed as a resu1t of the encounter between the child's Self, as a potential, and the actual outside world of the social collective. Divisions are set up within the individual’s psyche, and these are reflected in the divisions within society, and within the world, in which some people carry the projected shadow of others, who then regard them as evil ', 'sick' or 'dangerous. (47)
This projection of the shadow "makes us act without consciousness of our motives, (and) hence irresponsibly. (48) By repressing and projecting the shadow, we relinquish responsibility and even control of it. In the psyche, that which is cut off from consciousness, becomes autonomous, appears sinister, and can even be really dangerous. (49) Although we tend to identify the shadow with evil , there is not always a relation between the two; the shadow represents that which is repressed because it does not fit in with the collectivity, and although it may subsequently appear evil, it may not, in fact, be so. Sanford writes,
“It is as though human beings contain within themselves the whole spectrum of potential human behavior. But some of these potentialities are excluded for the sake of the development of a specific conscious personality." (50)
Persecution and war, bigotry and other social ills, may have their root in shadow-projection (51), and therefore, the withdrawal of the shadow- projection may lead toward the healing of these divisions and ills. As long as we derive our own capacities or unpleasant and evil thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, it is easier for us to hate and to condemn others for appearing, or for actually living out, these behaviors. If we persist in repression, we may find ourselves living them out as well. (52)
On the other hand, assimilation into consciousness of the shadow can begin the individuation process. The goal of the individuation process is ‘wholeness’, here construed to mean all-inclusiveness on the level of the human psyche. It was said earlier that the Self represented the potential of the individual. In the individuation process the ego attempts to bring the Self to consciousness, or, so to speak, to develop an expanded conscious personality according to the blueprint laid out for the individual in the strata of the psyche known as the Self. (However, motivation to begin this process springs from the unconscious, from the Self - not the ego.) Whitmont writes,
“The Self is experienced or related to as to a postulated encompassing personality characterized by the individual wholeness and expressing a central guidance system (directed toward conscious experience and fulfillment), a center which is not in consciousness and therefore is not identical with the center of consciousness (the ego) . This archetype expresses itself in the form of predestined wholeness, not merely of general human wholeness but of the specific wholeness of an individual life, which seeks fulfillment.” (53)
The archetype of the Self may appear as or be “conceived to be a superordinated personality which encompasses and meaningfully directs conscious as well as unconscious functioning.” (54) In dream images, for example,
“The many symbolic representations of the Self are images that point to totality or wholeness - as well as to a central entity of order and direction. The former, or encompassing images have circular, square, cubic or global shapes, or have some other infinite or eternal character: the phoenix, the treasure beyond value, the indestructible diamond, the water of life, the elixir of immortalitv which requires the pilgrimage or dangerous quest, or the alchemical 'philosopher's stone' which turns base substance into gold. The latter, centered images are the cross, wheel or radiant sphere, or the directing star (like the Star of David or the Star of Bethlehem). All of these images point to a total personality which has the character of wholeness (this does not have anything to do with ‘perfection’ ) and which has a directive focus.” (55)
Carl Jung writes,
“Intellectually the Self is no more than a psychological concept, a construct that serves to express an unknowable essence which we cannot grasp as such, since by definition it transcends our powers of comprehension. It might equally well be called the ‘God within us’. The beginnings of our whole psychic life seem to be inextricably rooted in this point, and all our highest and ultimate purposes seem to be striving towards it.” (56)
To a certain extent, the Self can never be wholly realized. It's the journey itself that counts. John Sanford writes,
"Everything that is alive seeks its proper goal, and man's (sic) psyche is no exception. The human body seeks its proper goal. From the moment of conception the cells of the body 'know', in a mysterious fashion, their goal, and the physical body unfolds until it reaches its completed development at about the age of seventeen. The psyche is no different, except that the development of the psyche is never completed, for the possibilities of life within us cannot be exhausted.” (57)
Perhaps this is why Jung calls the Self the 'God within us' - because it represents the endless possibilities, and also the centering or guiding-to-fulfillment capability, within the human being. Jung viewed Christ as a symbol of the Self (58) (insofar as the image of Jesus Christ operates as a symbol for human beings, and because he is collectively ”conceived as a superordinated personality”). This is especially interesting since the individuation process is likened by Jungian psychologists to a crucifixion (59) (a tension held between opposites), followed by a Resurrection in the form of an influx of the grace of God and a new synthesis. (60)
The process of individuation begins assimilation into consciousness of the shadow. Sanford writes that it is difficult for the individual to accept the negative potentials within him/herself, to attempt to hold in consciousness the ‘opposites’ of the ego (the conscious perspective) and the shadow (the unconscious contents, which we often interpret as being evil). He writes,
“The usual way that people try to deal with the problem of the Shadow is simply to deny its existence. This is because awareness of one's Shadow brings guilt and tension and forces upon us a difficult psychological and spiritual task. Guilt is an uncomfortable thing to bear , and we prefer to avoid it when we can. Carrying such a tension of the opposites is like a Crucifixion. We must be as one suspended between the opposites, a painful state to bear. But in such a state of suspension the grace of GOD is able to operate within us. The problem of duality can never be resolved on the level of the ego; it permits no rational solution. But where there is consciousness of a problem, the Self, the Imago Dei within us can operate and bring about an irrational (but very real and sound) synthesis of the personality.” (61)
Sometimes the beginning of the individuation process is interpreted by the conscious mind as evil because the assimilation of the Self (including the shadow) is seen as a threat to the well-formed and established ego-structure. It is seen by the ego as a reversal of what has gone before.
“The first stirring of the Self seems to require the establishment of an executor, a firm ego capable of adequate social adaptation and having ethical values in accordance with the morality of the contaning social group. (Thus) the Self actualizes (itself partially) through the ego complex. (However), the Self is intent on change and re-evaluation, and (becomes) a seeming threat or challenge to established ego order. The necessary adaptation of the ego is challenged by the Self’s urge for the ego’s transformation. Jung himself speaks for the perspective of the Self, when he writes, ‘The achievement of personality means nothing less than the optimum development of the whole individual human being. The ego is only the subject of my consciousness, while the Self is the subject of my totaility’.” (62)
The individuation process requires and develops moral strength of character in order to relate the ego to the shadow, and to unite the opposites. Jung writes,
“The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge, and it therefore, as a rule, meets with considerable resistance.” (63)
“Thus there are two kinds of efforts which can and must be made in order to redeem the adversary: the effort to keep from repressing the ‘evil’ (denial) or looking the other way (avoidance), and the effort to avoid acting it out uncritically in naive identification. Both efforts imply the ability and willingness to confront, accept and yet discipline ourselves. This painful confrontation cannot occur without discipline and an active attitude of responsibility or in other words, moral responsibility.” (64)
Jungian psychologist Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig is anxious to stress that the individuation process does not occur in everyone. He writes that “most therapy ends with the healing (of neurotic and psychotic suffering), while individuation is a seperate matter and does not automatically follow." (65) He points out that while Jung thought the individuation process usually takes place in the second half of life, Guggenbuhl-Craig's experience has shown that for some people it never takes place, while for others, individuation has begun in youth. Individuation is a matter of the search for meaning, a willingness to engage oneself with life on a deeper or more spiritual level, to experience and include within oneself the heights and depths of human life. Guggenbuhl - Craig writes,
“(Individuation ) is a matter of the fulfillment of human life, the flowering of the basic design of an individual life, the experience of individual meaningfulness. Individuation is not something which can be acquired and then securely owned. Pictures or images are needed to make it comprehensible, (because) it is very difficult to define or describe briefly. For the purposes of representation it is symbolically described in such images as 'the journey to the golden city' (or) the alchemists' search for the Philosopher's Stone. But the Philosopher's Stone can never be found. What is meant is the constant search for something, the intuiting of a goal without ever reaching it. (Jung) emphasized that it is of supreme importance to experience human ambivalence, not to eliminate it but to 'unite the opposites' on a higher plane. The goal is to experience one's own soul as nearly as possible in its entirety and in this sense to experience most deeply existential being as such, to accept and affirm it. The ways of individuation are strange and unique: they may lead through illness or health, through joy or misfortune. Individuation is the effort to contact the divine spark in man (sic), to subject the ego to the Self.” (66)
Indeed, once the process of individuation begins, it has no end, it is on-going: the development of the human person experiencing abundant Life, life with meaning, life in touch with both the heights - and what is less popular and comfortable - with the depths of human experience. (67) Whitmont describes it as,
“That state or life dynamism in which consciousness realizes itself as a split and separated personality that yearns and strives toward union with its unknown and unknowable partner, the Self, Jung has called the individuation process. It is a conscious striving for becoming what one 'is' or rather 'is meant to be' . However, since the goal of this process, the Self, is like an 'a priori existent', 'the God within us', individuation is always a road, a way, a process, travel or travail, a dynamism; it is never, at least not while one lives in time and space, a static or accomplished state. lt is 'becoming', not 'being' The Self as the 'goal' of the individuation process may be likened to the pole star: one may plot one's course by it, but one does not expect to reach it.”
The movement of the process is described by Whitmont as circular, spiral, labyrinthine, oscillating:
“Everything is a dialectical process. The relationship between ego and Self is also dialectical; it (is) an 'I-Thou' relationship. Since the only permanent thing in life is lack of permanence, no established boundary line ever remains. The process is an ever-changing one, ever renewed and ever renewable. Every problem ‘solved’ constellates a new problem. The conversation between unconsciousness and consciousness, between Self and ego, between God - infinite life - and finite man (sic), never ceases.” (69)
Individuation is a fluid, flexible process. Guggenbuhl-Craig remarks that,
”Factors hostile to individuation are rigidity, closed-mindedness, a lack of openness to oneself and the world.” (70)
The Self operates as a symbol of God in the soul; our attitude to it, like our attitude to God, should be one of openness and expectation. We expect to be confronted by it with ever-greater challenges to love, to be moral, to be responsible; we expect, also, to be transformed by it. Its operation remains, essentially, gracious and mysterious. (71) Sanford writes,
“The key to psychological health does not lie in achieving a certain state of consciousness and holding on to it, but achieving a relationship to one's Self. Relationship is the key word.” (72)
The way to get into relationship with the Self, paradoxically, is by getting in touch first with the shadow dimension of ourselves, with the aspects of life and of ourselves which we adjudge lowly and 'less than noble' . Whitmont quotes Jung as saying,
“‘If we reject this insignificant assortment of man (sic) ‘as he is’, it is impossible for him to attain integration, to become a self.” (73)
We must begin where we are. Whitmont adds,
“It is only in the lowly and unfinished areas of our lives that we can find the prospect of renewal. This great truth is expressed nowhere less than in the mythologem of the Savior's birth in a manger.” (74)
It shall be seen in Eloi Leclerc's The Canticle of Creatures that Francis of Assisi understood this, and even encapsulated this process in his poem, “The Song of Brother Sun” , symbolically using the imagery from nature produced by his objective psyche. And this mention of symbols from nature naturally introduces a discussion of the last category of the objective psyche, the collective unconscious.
The Collective Unconscious
In discussing the collective unconscious we will, in a sense, be including all that has gone before, but from an archetypal , that is, from a universal point of view. Jung has said that the collective unconscious represents hereditary factors, and that the archetypes represent instincts common to humankind. He writes,
“The contents of the collective unconscious owe their existence exclusively to heredity. Whereas the personal unconscious for the most part consists of complexes, the content of the collective unconscious is made up essentially of archetypes.” (75)
“(The) psychology of Freud and Adler is a psychology of the person. Nonetheless, even this psychology is based on certain general biological factors, for instance on the sexual instinct or on the urge for self-assertion, which are by no means merely personal peculiarities. Neither of these views would deny the existence of a priori instincts common to man and animals alike, or that they have a significant influence on personal psychology. Yet instincts are impersonal, universally distributed, hereditary factors of a dynamic or motivating character. Consequently they form very close analogies to the archeypes, so close, in fact, that there is good reason for supposing that the archetypes are the unconscious images of the instincts themselves, in other words, that they are patterns of instinctual behaviour. The concept of the archetype, which is an indispensable correlate of the idea of the collective unconscious, indicates the existence of definite forms in the psyche which seem to be present always and everywhere.” (76)
The shadow, the Self, the ego, the individuation process, etc. can be expressed in dreams, in imagination, and even in real life, (77) in archetypal form, because, as Jung explained above, they are universal developments that occur in the psychic formation and life of every human being. Archetypes are a universal way of representing life and what it means to be human. Jung says, "There are as many archetypes as there are typical situations in life.” (78)
Nevertheless, the term archetype functions technically in Jungian vocabulary. John Sanford offers the following definition.
“The archetypes are a priori, preexisting patterns of energy within us. When something is archetypal it expresses itself in typical ways, which gives to human beings everywhere a certain common denominator and is the psychological basis for the idea of the brotherhood (sic) of humankind . The archetypes include what is called ‘instinct’ because they are the basis for all spontaneous, unlearned behaviour, but while we think of instinct in terms of physical drives and motor action, the archetype also expresses itself in imagery, emotion and meaning. The archetype is like a spectrum of colors. On the one end is the physical expression of the archetype, the instinct and on the other end of the spectrum is the meaning of the archetype or spirit. In between is a vast range of images and emotions that, when the archetype is constellated within us, are released to flood our minds with energy.” (79)
The archetypes have a dipolar construction, consisting of pairs of complementary opposites (such as teacher-and-student or doctor-and-patient (80) or of positive and negative sides of the same thing (for example, the archetype of the Great Mother includes both the capacities to give and to take life). (81) In this sense archetypes function as symbols in our lives because they point to a reality beyond themselves, to a realitv that is “multivalent, manifest(ing) itself in contradictory ways (which therefore cannot be expressed in concepts, but only in images). It is the image as such, as a whole bundle of meanings, that is true and not any one of its meanings.” (82) “The context in which the image appears controls the meaning.” (83) That is to say, the particulars of the archetypal image qualify its meaning. For example, in a dream, poem, or fantasy, the color, lightness or darkness of the image, its position or movement, and the feeling it evokes in us as well, all contribute to the meaning of the archetype as it is interpreted.
Secondly, when the archetypes themselves are activated within us, they can appear as instinctual drives energizing us to act in certain ways (which we may or may not recognize consciously, hence the value of being able to interpret the archetypal images as they appear in our dreams and other creative imaginings). Thus it is possible to say that archetypes have power, power either to heal or to destroy us. (84) Symbols have this power because, insofar as they also “participate in the reality towards which they point (85) , they put us in touch with this reality, they “make present realities not present in their own specific form of being and expression.” (86)
This dual character of power and meaning, of energy and illumination, is found in symbol and archetype. Rollo May writes,
“The healing power of the symbol and myth has two aspects. This power resides, on the one hand, in the fact that the symbol and myth elicit and bring into awareness the repressed, unconscious, archaic urges, longings, dreads and other psychic content. This is the regressive function of symbols and myths, but on the other hand, the symbol and myth reveal new goals, new ethical insights and possibilities; they are a breaking through of greater meaning which was not present before. The symbol and myth in this respect are ways of working out the problem on a higher level of integration. This we call the progressive function of symbols and myths.
“Symbols and myths are means of discovery. They are a progressive revealing of structure in our relation to nature and our own existence, a revealing of new ethical forms. Symbols thus are educative - educatio - and by drawing out inner reality they enable the person to experience greater reality in the outside world as well.” (87)
This is why archetypes are so important for psychic growth and healing - being in touch with them in our psyches enables us to be in greater touch with the realities of our outer lives as well; the images tell us where we’ve been and where we re going, both as individuals and as members of the human race - both personally and collectively. There is a pattern to the surfacing of the archetypes in our personal development, a pattern designed by the Self in its quest for achieving its own wholeness in us. This process looks both forward and backward, both at the level of the individual and of the collective. John Sanford writes.
“The psyche. Jung realized, was not only a personal repository of undesirable psychological material, but was something like a 3,000,000 year old mind. Like the body, the psyche also is a product of a long evolution, within the psyche is the stored-up wisdom of life as it has been expressed in man (sic), and perhaps man’s humanoid predecessors, for millions of years. No one believes that he personally produces his own body. We all recognize the instinctive wisdom of the body, its remarkable capacity for adjustment to the demands of life, and its ability to heal itself. It is the same way with the psyche, which likewise is self-healing and contains an equally rich wisdom; the unconscious has its roots far back in time.” (88)
And this passage addresses the question of the relation between the psyche and nature which this paper hopes to show. Like the body, the psyche has evolved from the earth and out of a long history of interaction with the earth. All of human history and evolution is contained within the collective unconscious, because the psyche, like the body, is the product of nature and the evolution of nature. The archetypes and the forms with which they clothe themselves in images, come out of this past.
The relation of the psyche to nature is one of identity because it has evolved as a part of nature, and of interaction, because humankind has been interacting with nature - with weather, plants and animals - for millenia. Therefore, it follows that imagery from nature is deeply embedded in the collective unconscious. In the view of French philosopher Gaston Bachelard (in the words of scholar Michel Mansuy):
“‘The substratum of the self, is homologous with the substratum of things, with substances, with the four elements which an ancient physics, deeply rooted in the collective imagination, regards as constitutive of matter. The imagination that deals with air, water, earth and fire, therefore makes accessible to us the hidden pathways of the world and enables us to decipher the secrets of men's (sic) psychic constitutions ‘ (And in the words of LeClerc, quoting Bachelard): Images of matter have a ‘twofold reality: a psychic reality and a physical reality.’” (89)
Carl Jung in his discussion of the artist points out that truly great artistic images arise from the collective unconscious and are ‘primordial’ and ‘archetypal’, and thus ‘strike deep chords’ (90) within us.
“That is the secret of great art and its effect on us. The creative process, so far as we are able to follow it at all, consists in the unconscious activation of an archetypal image, and in elaborating and shaping this image into the finished work. By giving it shape, the artist makes it possible for us to find our way back to the deepest springs of life.” (91)
And in his discussion of the transcendent function Jung also points out that those of us who are not artists can experience psychological healing through reflections upon the products of our own unconscious minds. (92) Through this process, known as the transcendent function, our conscious and unconscious minds can, as it were, meet, dialogue, and learn from each other. (93) Sanford writes,
“The symbol-making aspect of the unconscious is called by Jung the ‘transcendent function’... the symbols and images of the unconscious produced by dreams, fantasies, and spontaneous images, are of crucial importance in the healing process.” (94)
This process can be mediated by our analyst, or if we wish to discontinue the dependency of the relationship with our analyst (95) , we may use the following process: first, we must allow the images from the unconscious to surface, and then, explore them further through painting, drawing or modelling in clay (96) , or through visualizations of active imagination (97) . It seems to me that these latter could just as easily take the form of written poetry or prayer. Next, the conscious mind must be allowed to respond to the unconscious content expressed by the image. In this way a dialogue is initiated in which both sides, conscious and unconscious, are equally respected, and out of which the next ‘stage’ of healing, the next new synthesis or new attitude, in the journey of our lives, can come.
“The shuttling to and fro of arguments and affects (between the unconscious and conscious levels of mind) represents the transcendent function of opposites. The confrontation of the two positions generates a tension charged with energy and creates a living, third force - a movement out of the suspension between opposites, a living birth that leads to a new level of being, a new situation.” (98)
In summary, we can see that according to the Jungian scheme of the ‘objective psyche’ there are ‘parts’ to the human psyche that can be dissociated or related to one another, that can be in warring or loving relationship with one another, and that these relationships can reflect those of the outside world as well. (99) We have seen that these ‘parts’ may be primarily involved in their own development and ordering, or may be in relationship with a reality greater than themselves, a reality symbolized in the psyche by the Self. Then, the psyche as a whole is engaged in a life devoted to a search for meaning; a life lived in relation to a Transcendent Source. Such a life will entail the acceptance of suffering, but also gracious moments of transcendence, reconciliation of opposites, and new synthesis.
We can see that life in this Jungian schema is an on-going process. The human 'wholeness' Jungians speak of and strive after is never something final, stable and unchanging, and is certainly nothing we could idealize as 'perfection' . Rather, humans in an image of God (like Hartshorne’s) are aiming for 'all-inclusiveness' as the measure of human wholeness.
Sanford writes that ‘the key to psychological health does not he in achieving a certain state of consciousness and holding on to it, but in achieving a relationship to one's Self.‘ (100) Psychological health and the goal of life are thus seen to be a) relationship: within ourselves, with others and with God, and b) wholeness, an ability to experience ourselves -- life - what it means to be human - in our entirety, good and bad, heights and depths. Psychological health means living each phase of life (101) in its fullness, i.e., facing its challenges, including those that necessitate suffering and the development of moral character; taking on responsibility in family and society, facing and undergoing the processes of aging and death, and submittiug to the tension of opposites. Perhaps the key word here is 'human' , because human 'wholeness' is always a broken thing, engaged in an intimate and struggling relationship with evil. At each new challenge, a struggle with evil (real or imagined) confronts us, and we must suffer through the 'individuation process' or engage in the ‘transcendent function’ until we can find the 'new attitude' or achieve the 'new synthesis' - that temporary state of stability until the next challenge appears. Through it all, we are in relationship to a rich Source, the Jungians call the Self, 'a symbol of God in the soul,’ imaged in every person differently, just as God is, but who enables us to live our lives in a kind of 'wholeness’ that spans the heights and depths, the welcome and the unwelcome, and the whole circuit of life.
And lastly, we see that the psyche can spontaneously produce images, not only in dreams, but in fantasies, creative visualizations, poetry, prayer and art-work. These images can tell us - and cause us to feel - what it means to be human, and what it means to be who we are as individual persons. And the images the psyche draws from are clothed in the past, a past that includes the whole historv and evolution of humankind. This past was lived in identity and interaction with nature, and therefore nature, and images from nature, are contained within the collective unconscious in dynamic archetypal form, and can surface as powerful symbols at the appropriate times in the processes of individuation or healing.