Archetype in Action Organization
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Movies, Theatre, TV & Videos
- Created on 24 November 2014
- Last Updated on 26 November 2014
- Published on 24 November 2014
- Written by Skip Conover
- Hits: 372
Boundaries! The boundaries of the Universe; the boundaries of Love; the boundaries of the Human Spirit; these are a few of the boundaries addressed in Anthony McCarten’s screenplay for A Theory of Everything, based on Jane Hawking’s memoir, Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen.
Not since Daniel Day-Lewis took on the story of Christy Brown in his Academy Award winning Best Actor performance in My Left Foot has an actor faced the complexity Eddie Redmayne performed in this story of the difficulties overcome by Stephen Hawking during his lifetime. Will he win as well? I don’t know, “it’s a mystery.” Michael Keaton’s performance in Birdman was also extraordinary.
I wondered how Director James Marsh would take on the issue suggested by the title. Would he help mere mortals understand or not? The issue in physics and cosmology is how one brings into one theory all that explains both relativity and quantum mechanics. At least it can be said that he touched on it sufficiently for the layman to understand that theoretical physicists have a problem, which is perhaps all that can be expected.
But where The Theory of Everything seems to fall short, but doesn’t, is the fact that most physicists and other theoretical scientists have failed to even address the issue of the psyche, which is the elephant in the room. And the elephant within that room is the role of a Creator we call God.
Stephen Hawking outraged religious fundamentalists when he commented that there is no need for God in the universe. Like many strictly rationalist scientists, he claims to be an atheist. But McCarten and Marsh have brought to the screen a proof that the rigid disbelief in God is wrong.
Dr. Carl G. Jung explained this most succinctly in his Answer to Job:
"...What most people overlook or seem unable to understand is the fact that I regard the psyche as real. They believe only in physical facts, and must consequently come to the conclusion that either the uranium itself or the laboratory equipment created the atom bomb. That is no less absurd than the assumption that a non-real psyche is responsible for it. God is an obvious psychic and non-physical fact, i.e., a fact that can be established psychically but not physically. ... ¶751
"...Clearly, the material evidence for the existence of this psychic phenomenon is more than sufficient. It does not matter at all that a physically impossible fact is asserted, because all religious assertions are physical impossibilities. If they were not so, they would, as I said earlier, necessarily be treated in the textbooks of natural science. But religious statements without exception have to do with the reality of the psyche and not with the reality of the physis." ¶752, Answer to Job, by Dr. C.G. Jung
Are we intelligent primates living on an unremarkable planet circling a modest star, or is there something more that we represent? Is it the urge of the Universe to be conscious of itself? Is that the motivation of God?
What we see in The Theory of Everything is the palpable evidence that Dr. Jung was right. There are both physis and psyche in the Universe, and until there is a theory that includes both, there will not be a theory of everything. Indeed, it might be argued that the search for the Unified Field Theory is simply a tangential scientific aspect of a theory of everything.
Here Screenwriter McCarten and Director Marsh have brilliantly shown the evolution of the Rebis developing between husband and wife, among colleagues, and with friends. This is that certain je ne sais quoi that develops between two human beings in every marriage, in every human group, and within many other species. Until physicists can explain that often-unbreakable bond with an equation, there will not be a theory of everything. At least McCarten and March have laid out the problem brilliantly. It is a matter of feeling not thinking. If you can watch this movie all the way through without being moved emotionally, then you are a stone and must necessarily take 4 billion more years to evolve.
And yes, God is present in every scene. As Dr. Jung often said and had engraved in stone over the entrance to his home, "Invited or not, God is present."
If this movie draws the Nobel Prize committee’s attention to Dr. Stephen Hawking’s unique lifetime of work once again, and he should win, then Dr. Hawking will not be able to explain that with an equation. Not even close!
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Jungian Topics
- Created on 22 November 2014
- Last Updated on 22 November 2014
- Published on 22 November 2014
- Written by Skip Conover
- Hits: 307
I have long groaned over hearing about the “Holy Grail.” Yes, we all know about King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, the magic sword, Excalibur, and Merlin. Even our Presidency has been likened to Camelot. It seemed somewhat shopworn to me. But, as a diligent student, I finally ordered a copy of The Grail Legend, and then it sat on my shelf staring at me for months. Oh groan!
But from the time I picked up the book and actually read the numinous saga came alive for me. The authors helped me close many loops in my understanding of Dr. Carl G. Jung’s work, and its significance to us in our everyday lives. Theirs was not the story of Perceval’s adventures, per se, but rather how the story came to have its place in literature and psychology, after centuries of evolution.
This is not a question of a debate about whose psychology was right for therapy, but rather what Dr. Jung was saying to us for the lives of normal human beings and their groups. Just as Dr. Jung’s Psychology and Alchemy is the story of human psychic development over centuries, The Grail Legend is a useful example of those insights.
Emma Jung knew Dr. Jung’s work as intimately as any person on Earth. Marie-Louise von Franz was a relative newcomer to Dr. Jung’s entourage, nearly forty years his junior, but became one of his leading apostles in the last half of the 20th Century.
In order not to be overshadowed by her husband, Emma Jung carved out The Grail Legend as her own intellectual project, and asked Dr. Jung not to interfere. She worked on it for 30 years, in the same meticulous way as her famous husband developed his own oeuvre. The result is a comprehensive masterpiece. She died before she could finish, so Dr. Jung asked his disciple to finish the work, which she did wonderfully.
They have given us a tour de force beyond compare, and in the process provided us with many bridges to Dr. Jung’s work itself. By showing how the story of the Grail was embellished and refined over centuries, they have shown us how the human psyche developed and works over decades, generations and centuries. Dr. Jung was doing the same thing throughout his entire oeuvre, but perhaps in not quite so accessible a way for the layman.
These days all of us know the basic outline of the “Hero’s Journey,” with its trials and tribulations, dating back to The Odyssey right through to the Star Wars movies, and on to the present day. If you are reading this, you no doubt know that the story is our story—each and every one of us. By the various iterations of the Grail Legend over centuries, the authors show us how the human species crystallizes its fundamental ideas of right and wrong, of Self and Shadow, around certain psychic concepts.
We see ideas emerge in the earlier texts, which fall away in later versions, or are embellished. From this it is a short step to understand how the ideas of the world’s religions formed around stories and legends related to other figures, who took on superhuman proportions among our species, from The Buddha, Jesus Christ and Muhammad (PBUH), to Ganesh, Shakti and Shiva.
We learn the significance of King Arthur’s sword in the stone, the Lady of the Lake, the lance, the Grail vessel, and the treasure hard to attain. We learn that this story lives in us all to this very day, whether we know of it or not. With our newly found sword of consciousness, perhaps we can find our own Grail in the process.
Speaking very broadly, there are three groups of Jungians. There are the Jungian analysts, who use the teachings of Dr. Jung in their therapy work. Having read only a few accounts of the content and experiences of therapy, and its challenges, this is surely a Hero’s Journey of the first order.
There is the “Gee Whiz” group, which has come newly to or struggles with the teaching and oeuvre. Like the blind committee describing an elephant, with one holding the tail, one holding the feet, and one holding the trunk, they are often lost in admiration of the bits they have encountered. Some come to worship Dr. Jung’s towering intellect. I count myself among this second group, but I am struggling to step into the third group in earnest. This is a part of my personal individuation.
And finally, there are a precious few who have gotten some grasp of the meaning of what Dr. Jung was driving at for mere mortals, and have shown us how to use these concepts in our daily lives. Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz were among the thought leaders of this latter category. I salute their achievement!
“It is important to look up to a model who has a rich, turbulent, unmistakable world, a world that he has smelled for himself, seen for himself, heard for himself, felt for himself, devised for himself. The authenticity of the model’s world is what the model gives one, is what most deeply impresses one. One lets oneself be overridden and overpowered by this world, and I cannot imagine a writer who was not controlled and paralyzed by someone else’s authenticity at an early time. In the humiliation of his rape, when he feels that he has nothing of his own, that he is not himself, does not know what he himself is, his concealed powers begin to stir. His personality articulates itself, arising from the resistance; wherever he liberated himself, there was something that liberated him.” Elias Canetti, The Conscience of Words, P. 38
Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz found the Grail for themselves! If you are a member of groups 1 or 3, you must understand what I am saying here. If you are a member of group 2, keep searching. One day you may find the Grail too.
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Jungian Topics
- Created on 20 November 2014
- Last Updated on 20 November 2014
- Published on 20 November 2014
- Written by Jean Raffa
- Hits: 409
“Every psychic advance of man arises from the suffering of the soul.”
Carl Jung, CW 11, Par. 497
As it often happens when I write about a painful or controversial issue, I lost two e-mail subscribers after WordPress published my last post on death. Yet within five days four new ones signed on! I won’t pretend I don’t suffer when a subscriber leaves. I do. (By the way, I never know their names. I only know when the numbers on my stats change.) But it’s getting easier; partly because I almost always gain new subscribers after the same posts.
Plus, my grandchildren are giving me a new perspective on this kind of suffering. Since the current school year started last month I’ve watched their struggles to adjust to new classes that separate them from old friends. Yet they’re already making new ones. What I’m realizing is that their experiences parallel mine. Losses are inevitable for every growing thing.
So I won’t apologize for writing about suffering. I’m not equipped to comment on physical suffering or clinical depression, so these are my thoughts about the normal psychological suffering everyone experiences. The young adult’s post-school struggles to find him/herself, connect with a life partner, and find satisfying, meaningful work. The unforeseen accidents or losses of a home, job, friend, partner, child or other beloved family member. The existential angst some souls suffer at midlife. The daunting challenges of aging.
Here’s what personal experience has taught me about everyday psychological suffering.
First, it comes to all of us. Many people’s first response to serious suffering is to think something like, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Why is God punishing me?” But, as a believer in the omnipotence of Love, I don’t see suffering coming from a judgmental, vengeful God. I see it as a natural consequence of being alive! You live; you die. You win; you lose. Good things happen; bad things happen. Sometimes you’re happy; sometimes you’re sad. Life comes with a full range of emotions: not just pleasure, but pain too. That’s just the way Life is, and wishful thinking cannot change it.
For the Tibetans of northern India who are taught at an early age to accept the fact of suffering (as my friend, Elaine Mansfield, tells me), this knowledge is liberating. It means I don’t have to take suffering personally. This frees me from misplaced guilt and self-blame. Nor do I have to conform to my tribe’s or religion’s restrictive standards and beliefs. If I’m going to suffer anyway, I might as well do it in service to fueling my light instead of hiding it.
Second, suffering can be our worst enemy. Like a devil who promises eternal happiness, it whispers, “Run away! Escape! You don’t need to put up with this.” The problem with escape mechanisms is that they only compound our suffering. Immature egos don’t know that the only way to avoid future suffering is to deal with current suffering, so most of us are extremely vulnerable to this kind of dead-end thinking.
And suffering whispers, “This is intolerable. Do something. Quick!” But impulsive behavior erodes the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. It diminishes our ability to accept responsibility for our part in our suffering, and causes unnecessary pain for us and those we blame.
The third thing I’ve learned is that psychological suffering can also be our best friend. Like a good teacher it gives us many opportunities to learn more about ourselves, and self-knowledge always leads to wisdom.
Like a loving inner Magician who sees the bigger picture of our life and passionately wants to help us thrive, suffering offers us a magic wand: the power of choice! But this gift comes with a stipulation: We are the only ones who can choose to transform our intolerable situation, and the only way we can make this happen is by tolerating the tension until the solution arrives in its own time. When it does, it is accompanied by a deepened spirituality, an expanding awareness of the purpose and meaning of our lives, and a strengthened ego with the power to make healthier choices.
Life comes with realities an immature ego can’t understand. But trusting Life to guide us through our suffering without attempting to escape or control it can transform us into maturing conscious beings.
How have you experienced this truth?
Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.
Dr. Jean Raffa is an author, speaker, and leader of workshops, dream groups, and study groups. She maintains a blog called "Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom." Her job history includes teacher, television producer, college professor, and instructor at the Disney Institute in Orlando and The Jung Center in Winter Park, FL. She is the author of three books, a workbook, a chapter in a college text, numerous articles in professional journals, and a series of meditations and short stories for Augsburg Fortress Publisher.
Her most recent book is Healing the Sacred Divide. Her book The Bridge to Wholeness: A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth (LuraMedia, 1992) was nominated for the Benjamin Franklin Award for best psychology book of 1992. Reviewed in several journals and featured on the reading lists of university courses, it was also picked by the Isabella catalogue as a must-read for seeking women.
Dream Theatres of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dreamwork (Innisfree Press, Inc., 1994) has been used in dreamwork courses throughout the country and is included in Amazon.com’s list of the Top 100 Best Selling Dream Books, and TCM’s book list of Human Resources for Organizational Development.
- Parent Category: Opinion
- Category: The Meaning of America
- Created on 15 November 2014
- Last Updated on 20 November 2014
- Published on 15 November 2014
- Written by Skip Conover
- Hits: 22902
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” Dr. Carl G. Jung
When I was a boy, my brother and I fought often. I no longer know why, but we often ended the day with a wrestling match, and being the older and stronger, I was often getting the better of my brother. At one point of time, when America was glorifying boxing far more than it does today, my Father bought us boxing gloves.
When I was 12 and my brother 10, we decided to have a boxing match in our driveway. I definitely got the better of my brother that day, and I’m not sure he was ever the same afterward. He died at the age of 39, from other causes not related to our boxing match.
I loved my brother dearly and I know he loved me. There is one primary reason for that, and that was the intercession of my Mother. Often when we fought, my Father would come home from work to chastise us in some way. When we were five and under that was with a spanking, but as we grew up we feared his cutting words even more, but this chastisement did not reconcile us. I can no longer even imagine how many times we fought.
It was only my Mother, who was the healing influence. She poured unconditional love on the wounds, and created a reconciliation of spirit and matter between us, which grew into brotherly love. We were inseparable. When I was 15 and my brother 13, we beat a former Captain of the Naval Academy sailing team in a sailboat race in the Star Class—at the time the 2-man keelboat used in the Olympics.
My Mother’s words were the balm that let us heal our differences. Whenever I hear the song “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel, I think of my brother, rather than the lovers the author had in mind:
“So I would choose to be with you
That’s if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break
“And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who knows”
As I think of the bond between my brother and me, I think also of my many friends, who fight with me constantly over political issues. For many years I have contemplated the Meaning of America, and the factors that made it the strong country it is today. What is it about our country that would make all of us fight for it, regardless of our political opinions?
Over the years I came to recognize, from Dr. Jung’s teaching about alchemy, that the something that would cause us all to fight for our country is what Jungian psychologists call a Rebis. That is the end product of the alchemical magnum opus or great work. In this context, a nation is like the cooking pot, into which the ancient alchemist put his ingredients, as is every organization or human grouping, including a family.
The Rebis is formed through various stages of putrefaction and purification, separating opposing qualities until those qualities are united once more into something new, which amounts to a reconciliation of the parts. My Mother played the alchemist’s role between my brother and me, creating in the process an inseparable bond.
In the same sense, my friends and I have this inseparable bond, which would make us fight for our country together. We are members of other groups, which have their own Rebis, but which also form ingredients to the strength of the nation. Many of us went to high school in a U.S. Navy run high school in Japan. We recently had a reconfirmation of that Rebis at a reunion. We know we share an incomparable experience, and it is something we cannot share with others. They just would not understand.
In my case, I served in the U.S. Marine Corps. The spirit of our Corps is legendary. We came from every place and group of the United States, with many different ideas, but we were forged into a Rebis of one thing, which cannot be broken among us, and which cannot be described fully in words. Only Marines ever know what this is, and other military organizations envy it. Funnily enough, our Drill Sergeant or Platoon Sergeant served in the role of both Father and Mother in this alchemical process. Only Marines will know what I mean. We’re the only ones who know.
Many of my other friends are Veterans, and as another kind of group, we too share a Rebis. Those who have not served cannot fully appreciate what that Rebis is either. We’re the only ones who know. As my other readers can only imagine, serving for something larger than oneself, creates a special bond that cannot be broken.
But Veterans are not the only ones, who make contributions to being American. All of my fellow Americans provide ingredients into the American alchemical vas—our so-called “melting pot”. Some of those ingredients are putrefaction, and are cooked away, but they all contribute to the purification of our American Rebis. The ingredients come from teachers, artists, doctors, nurses, carpenters, plumbers, and yes, even gardeners.
America now suffers from a neurotic schizophrenia in our political environment. Like brothers who cannot stop fighting, our news media and televised debates keep bringing boxing gloves in new forms and in greater quantities, so that we can beat the tar out of our opponents. Our leaders keep chastising us for our behavior, but keep right on promoting it, so the schism does not improve. These are poisonous ingredients for our future, regardless of which side pours them into the cooking pot.
We need someone who can see that as one whole America is stronger, and who can see the great mission of our country for the future. We need someone who can rise above our neurotic feud, and provide the balm that will fuse us into the nation that can lead humanity in the 21st Century.
This person need not be a woman, per se, but this person must be someone who can see that the value of our country is that it has promoted the development of the human spirit to its highest attainment so far through its Freedoms. We need someone who can provide the Vision of the value of those Freedoms to leaders around the world.
It will take some knuckleheads longer than others to see the Vision, but that is the nature of knuckleheads—just as brothers cannot see what their special bond will be in a mature family, but a Mother knows. We need someone who has the Vision to know that in the end we need a mature human family.
America needs a Mother!
Special thanks to Dr. Jean Raffa, who provided some of the insights on the Mother archetype in her blog, Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom.