In their book, Buddhism and Jungian Psychology, analysts J. Marvin Spiegelman and Mokusen Miyuki (who is also a Buddhist priest), mention the danger of “stagnation” following the integration of unconscious contents. This sounds a lot like the stage on the journey to enlightenment the mystics have famously called “the dark night of the soul.” It is the point where a seeker has seen the light, so to speak, but cannot quite believe it yet. This period of deeply troubling doubt and hesitation lasts for an indeterminate length of time until a sufficient level of acceptance has been reached to allow the final enlightenment to dawn, whereupon the ability to feel confident and to act is restored.
The dark night of the soul is a lengthy period of deeply troubling doubt and hesitation. It ends when a sufficient level of acceptance has been reached to allow the final enlightenment to dawn. (Image: public domain)
I have written several posts about authentic will and illuminated its roots in the psyche. As a way of discovering what you will, I have put forward the idea of employing resonance. That is, look around for those things that stir feelings of joy, delight, bliss or enchantment and there you will find what you truly want (will). This is so, because what you see or experience is resonating with (stimulating) your emotionally important ideas, the origin of will. Notice that, while your will comes from within, what I am suggesting relies on external objects, situations, activities, and so on. Personally, I like the realistic aspects of this approach. I am a big believer in actualities.
Imagination can illuminate buried, forgotten, or neglected sources of joy and energize your life by putting will back into the picture. (Photo: public domain)
A great deal of confusion surrounds the emotion we call anxiety. The feeling is unpleasant and makes us want to avoid whatever has aroused it, but we all know there are times (like going to the dentist) when we have to press on regardless. Few of us would ever think to describe anxiety as an asset. Yet life coach and holistic psychotherapist Robert Gerzon, author of Finding Serenity in the Age of Anxiety, actually believes anxiety can be extremely useful. In fact, he claims that “follow your anxiety” is as good a dictum as Joseph Campbell’s “follow your bliss”! He sincerely holds the view that anxiety will take us to the same destination as our bliss, a position predicated upon the idea that the pursuit of bliss will inevitably lead us into anxiety-inducing situations that we must face and overcome in order to achieve the bliss we seek.
Contrary to what you might expect, anxiety can be a very useful feeling. (Photo: Public Domain Photos)
The authentic self comprises the unique set of our most potent and precious emotionally important ideas. We acquire the basics of these mental constructs as children when, through our behaviour, our genes interact with our physical and social environment. Their uniqueness is what makes us all natural individuals. (Yes, without even trying, if we can stay out of our own way.) Unless we make them conscious – and we can – these assorted emotionally important ideas live in the unconscious where they generate our true will. We are all born with the urge for self-realization and the capacities we want to fulfil are an integral part of the authentic self.
Functional aspects of the authentic self may be compared to the working parts of an old-fashioned sailing ship. (Image freeclipartnow.com)
An old-fashioned sailboat or square-rigged ship makes a useful metaphor for illustrating the importance of our emotionally important ideas. (Or as some would say, subjectively formed guiding principles). Once we are aware of them, these ideas or principles give our “ship of self” a number of useful qualities:
The sense of loneliness and yearning for something beyond personal needs, something lost or forgotten, some Eden is the longing to return to a state of unconscious union with the world, an abolition of fretful ego in favour of carefree unknowing, a state like that of crocodiles basking on the river-bank with a belly full of fish. All is well! All is right with the world! We hunger for sheer, unadulterated, unexamined contentment. In short, we want to regain the childish condition Jung so aptly called the “participation mystique,” the situation where, as small children, we could not tell what was “us” and what was the world.
The purpose of consciousness is language which enables us to communicate and co-operate. (Photo: Wikimedia)