Existential suffering and perseverance
Many abandon the path of self-development because progress is not immediately evident. In fact life can become more arduous as one undertakes this journey – because by bringing a light to our unconscious activity or as Jung called it, by ‘individuating’ – an existential suffering can take place as we grapple with the truth of our imperfection and gain a greater knowledge of self and the world – which is not always comfortable or ‘pretty’. Jung described this process of individuation as a journey through ‘the swamplands of the soul’.
A dedicated, mindfulness and meditation practice can cultivate and support peace, equanimity and insight, however, sustaining and maintaining such a discipline can be very difficult given the frenetic world we live in, with its constant demands and distractions. Patience, trust and openness to what may come are imperative, along with a determination to cultivate will-power, even though we may lapse in our practice from time to time. It is like learning to ride a bike; the fact that we fall off time and again, does not deter our will to master the bike.
Here at Alamandria we have sustained our inner and outer work-life, like so many others, by finding inspiration in people, art, books, nature and poetry. In this on-going series we wish to share some snap-shots of our explorations – in the hope that as they have help support, enliven and inform us on our journey – they can in turn offer the same to you.
1 Carl Jung, book cover –The Undiscovered Self / 2 Lotus flower / 3 Buddhist statue at Po Lin Monastery, Hong Kong / 4 Carl Jung (1875–1961) / 5 Woman holding lotus flower / 6 Passiflora, photograph by Kaarl Blossfeldt / 7 Lotus flower for Buddhist religious ceremony
EXTRACTS FROM ‘THE UNDISCOVERED SELF’ BY CARL JUNG
‘As experience unfortunately shows, the inner man remains unchanged however much community he has. His environment cannot give him as a gift that which he can win for himself only with effort and suffering.’
‘Most people confuse ‘self-knowledge’ with knowledge of their conscious ego personalities. Anyone who has ego consciousness at all takes it for granted that he knows himself. But the ego knows only its own contents, not the unconscious and its contents. People measure their self knowledge by what the average person in their social environment knows of himself, but not by the real psychic facts which are for the most part hidden from them.’
‘…the individual has an ineradicable tendency to get rid of everything he does not know and does not want to know about himself by foisting it off on somebody else. Nothing has a more divisive and alienating effect upon society than this moral complacency and lack of responsibility, and nothing promotes understanding and rapprochement more than the mutual withdrawal of projections.’
The flower shows us the way out of the darkness and into the light. Challenges must be overcome for the seed to become flower as the young shoot moves and grows toward the light.
THE LOTUS FLOWER
BLOOMS MOST BEAUTIFULLY
FROM THE DEEPEST AND THICKEST MUD
Islands of bliss and everlasting youth,
Floating like ﬂowers on an endless sea
And never touched by sorrows from this world:
Such happy islands thou wilt never see.
Behold: what thou hast dreamt of may be real,
It is not elsewhere, it is what thou art
If thou rememb’rest God; then thou wilt ﬁnd
The golden island in thy deepest heart.
The singing of a ﬂute came from the sea;
The waters vanished, and the ﬂute was me.