Jung believed that God and all of creation labored through time to bring conscious awareness into the universe, and that it is the role of human beings to carry that evolution forward--Robert Johnson, Inner Work
The material we have studied in DJA720, “Jungian Psychology: The Individuation Journey,” has affected ideas about my overall vocation in several key ways, beginning with the important invitation to understand and interact with the symbolic nature of the inner psychic world upon which all other worlds, perceptions, and experiences are built.
In the first module, I saw how modern humanity experienced an outbreak of psychological neuroses once ritual symbolic experiences were replaced with speed, factories, telegraphic communications, trains, and the wholesale exploitation of nature. I learned that incorporating rituals and other symbolic activities (drawing, music and dance, storytelling, dreamwork, active imagination) into my daily life will keep “me” grounded in the fathomless, beautiful, and terrifying realm of the unconscious, providing a priceless psychospiritual support system for my creative and academic vocational aspirations.
In the second module, we studied complexes. I learned that a complex is “an autonomous set of impulses grouped around certain kinds of energy-charged ideas and emotions; it is expressed in identity, compulsiveness, and primitivity, inflation, and projection, for as long as it remains conscious” (Whitmont, 1969, p. 58). I vaguely knew about complexes, but I did not know that I can be “identical” with one, which means I am not consciously aware of being controlled by the complex. This terrifies me because I sense that I am ruled by energies beyond my control (which is one aspect of archetypes, the root of all complexes). How can I trust my desires or have faith in my plans and schemes to say nothing of the words that come out of my mouth? A dangerous psychic reality with far-reaching implications, complexes must be differentiated from the ego and brought into consciousness as much as possible. Here I found another reason to delve deeply into the realm of the unconscious and interact with its contents, particularly through dreamwork since complexes are often personified in dreams. It suddenly felt dangerous to dream about vocation without a solid plan for understanding my complexes.
In the third module, I experienced a radical breakthrough when I learned about the Transcendent Function and read about the Shadow. Seeing and integrating my own darkness has been an ongoing project for me. But learning about projection of the Shadow onto others was a turning point. I started honoring the shadow in rituals and began to consciously take back my shadow projections in active imagination sessions. This took place after a six week period of acute psychological suffering in relation to a raging mother complex. For weeks, I held the tension of the opposites, suffering under the “divine progression” of “conflict to paradox to revelation” (Johnson, 1991, p. 91) while doing daily drawings, until one day, suddenly, a massive energetic shift occurred leaving me elated for a few weeks, until the next conflict arose.
I aspire to be an artist and a scholar. I think I just want to be(come) who I already am, but in a fuller, more realized fashion. “Individuation is the term Jung used to refer to the lifelong process of becoming the complete human being we were born to be” (Johnson, 1986, p. 11). My work, my vocation, is to develop my self into this realized person. My job is to further the project of consciousness, to expand it. In my Zen practice, I daily vow: All beings without limit, I vow to carry over. The promise contained in this vow and the lifelong work of individuation are essentially the same thing. Our class has given me practical tools for approaching and interacting with the unconscious, without whose blessing, my work would be meaningless and unrealized.
A work that is realized is divinized. This is how God enters the world.