Notes on the Self and its formulation

Q&A and discussion on yoga and other avenues of mysticism

Moderator: Moderators - Public

Notes on the Self and its formulation

Postby Bereshith » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:57 am

From Jeffrey Raff's Jung and the Alchemical Imagination:

. . . [T]he psyche consists of the ego that is conscious and the complexes and archetypes that are unconscious. As the ego is the center of consciousness, the self is the center of the whole personality. The self is also the archeype of wholeness, and as such, carries a sense of the complete personality. Wholeness refers to the union of the conscious and unconscious parts of the personality and, in particular, to the union of the ego and the unconscious.

. . .

Within each individual exists a center containing that individual's unique being. This center strives to express itself. The competing voices of the complexes and archetypes, and even that of the ego, often block its voice. By following certain processes, one empowers this center so that it eliminates competing voices and organizes the inner world around itself. The formation of the self is never fully complete, for there always remains material not yet integrated into (or harmonized by) the center. As the self becomes stronger, however, its voice and its organizing force gain dominance. At that point the ego may relax and trust, and begin in earnest the religious practice of living with the self. Until that point is reached, though, the ego must engage in the most difficult work of transforming the inner psychic condition and empowering the self. Until then, the ego cannot relax and trust. Rather, it must work and struggle to learn to recognize the self, and to find ways of vesting it with the energy and power it requires.

. . .

Although the ego is most comfortable with consciousness, it must be willing to examine its own disposition and to entertain the possibility that it is not complete or infallible. The ego must be open to the notion that there are perspectives other than the conscious one. Most important, the ego has to acknowledge the existence of the unconscious, and that the position presented by the unconscious is worthy of consideration. This is no small requirement. Not only does popular opinion reject the possibility of the unconscious even existing, but the ego is normally terrified by the prospect of not being in control of its own psychic life. Even when the ego acknowledges the possibility of taking the unconscious into account, it often substitutes fantasy for a real encounter with the unconscious, for fantasy will simply help to maintain the ego position.

. . .

The self is the union of opposites, as well as the center of the psyche. This center grows by organizing the archetypal forces around itself through the union of the ego and the unconscious. The transcendent function is the means by which these opposites become united, the process by which the manifest self is brought into being. Every time the ego contacts an image from the unconscious and engages it in meaningful dialogue, it can trigger the transcendent function. Every time it does so, no matter how small the issue involved may seem, it has strengthened and transformed the self. Out of the tension created by the opposing views of the ego and the unconscious, out of the shuttling between positions, a new, third and transcendent position is created.
Some people call me the space cowboy.
Bereshith
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
 
Posts: 639
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:22 am

Re: Notes on the Self and its formulation

Postby Bereshith » Tue Apr 02, 2013 5:49 am

Further notes, describing the process of ego relating to an unconscious aspect of the total self, and the integration produced in consciousness:

The third phase begins when the unconscious becomes alive in some way. This is the phase of unconscious activation, and it takes many forms. One may experience an affect, a bodily sensation, a voice, or a strange thought. In the model I am using, an inner figure would make its appearance at this point. In whatever way the unconscious appears, the ego must now respond to it. The response begins with the phase of active imagination I call interaction, and refers to the shuttling back and forth that Jung described. Using the example of the inner figure in the phase of activation, the inner figure appears and may speak, say hello, or offer some kind of greeting. It may ask what the ego wants, or how it is doing. The ego must reply. In turn, it may ask how the inner figure is doing, and then spell out ther reason it wishes to speak with it. In the interactive phase, there is a dialogue between the inner figure and the ego that should be allowed to follow whatever direction it spontaneously takes.

The interactive phase of active imagination may go on for a long time, sometimes weeks or even months. This should be coupled with a stage of the work that actually occurs outside the "active" [imagination exercise]. This phase I call reflection. Reflection refers to the necessity on the part of the ego to think carefully about the experiences it has had. As I discussed earlier, the ego must not give up its position, but should hold to it while it considers all that the inner figure has shown it. During this reflection, the intellect has an important role to play, for the ego must seriously think about all that it has experienced. At the same time, it needs to feel deeply into the experience to evaluate it from the feeling perspective. Did what the inner figure say feel good? Did it make rational sense? By allowing a period of reflection, the ego protects itself from naively falling into an unconscious position, or simply accepting at face value what an inner figure is telling it. During this stage, the ego might choose to share its experience with an analyst, a therapist, or just a good friend, in order to get some objective feedback. When the ego has reached some conclusions, it may return to the active imagination and re-engage with the inner figure.

Interaction and reflection may continue for some time, but, sooner or later, the active imagination enters into a phase I call resolution, when the original intent or questions with which the active began is resolved in some way. For example, I may desire to understand how to cultivate my own feminine nature. I ask an inner figure of a wise woman to appear and teach me about this part of the self. She appears and begins teaching me about feelings and relationships. I resist, struggle, have questions, and we deal with each of these as they appear. I begin to understand intellectually what the feminine looks like, but I still don't "get it." Then one day, during the active, I feel in my body and in my being what relationship really means, and I have an insight that is so real it becomes part of my awareness from then on. The resolution has occurred, and the transcendent function has clicked in, forever altering my consciousness and creating a new state of the manifest self. During the interactive phase, I am likely to experience different degrees of tension and discomfort, as I unite my own position with that of the inner figure. The tension that is sometimes experienced in interacting with an inner figure can be very distressing, even physical, in its manifestation. Some people find it difficult to continue the actives when the tension reaches a level of great intensity. Yet it is important to keep going on with the active, despite the discomfort, for if the tension is resolved inappropriately, the transcendent function will not occur. When the resolution occurs naturally, however, that tension is resolved in the insight that presents itself.

. . .

If we apply the teachings of the alchemists concerning revelation to the modern opus, we could say that the means by which the self may be experienced and manifested could never be known by reading or intellectual studies alone. In fact, the successful achievement of the work requires revelation, which means that the spirits within must teach the individual how to proceed with his or her quest. Without cooperating with the imaginative forces, there is no way one can attain the self. This is sometimes a difficult concept for individuals to grasp, for it seems often that good intention, a willingness to learn, and careful attention to outer life situations might be enough. They are not; for without the experience of discernment which often follows direct interaction with inner figures, the self remains elusive and beyond the grasp of the ego. Individuation, defined as the production of the manifest self, is similar to the alchemical endeavor to create the stone; neither will succeed without the direct revelation from inner figures.
Some people call me the space cowboy.
Bereshith
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
 
Posts: 639
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:22 am

Re: Notes on the Self and its formulation

Postby Bereshith » Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:30 am

At this point, I want to speak more from personal experience.

There comes a point in this process where outer events during the normal course of one's life begin to seem so strongly related to the content of one's internal dialogue with the unconscious that one is forced to examine the question of causality.

In other words, "Did my internal dialogue with Jupiter cause this unexpected money to come my way?" or, "How have I unexpectedly tuned in to this relatively rare television show about the mythologies of the god Jupiter?"

It would be simple to say that there is no rational, traceable, causal chain of events to connect the two occurrences (my inner dialogue and the outer event); therefore, this is merely coincidence, and any such meaning I may attempt to infer about the connection between the events is merely psychological projection.

But over time, this position becomes more difficult to maintain. As such events occur with Jupiter, they occur with Venus, and Mars, and Saturn, etc.. Or, if one is meditating on Tarot trumps or astrological signs, the same kind of coincidental experiences occur, again, without any rational, traceable, causal chain of events to connect the two.

For instance, in the example above of tuning in to a television show about the mythologies of the god Jupiter, there is absolutely no way to trace a chain of cause between a television show that was months-ago scheduled to appear at a certain date and time and my perhaps days-old decision to meditate on (or seek inner counsel with) Jupiter. There is absolutely no discernable, demonstrable causal connection! None!

Yet, over time, as such coincidences begin to occur consistently, no matter the subject of one's meditation, one will have to consciously choose one of two directions:

In one direction, you can stand your ground on causality and resist any tendency to see the coincidences as anything more than precisely that - random occurrences upon which one is merely projecting a meaningful connection. As I said, however, over time, this becomes harder to do unless one begins to forgoe any practices that might stimulate the experiences because repetition and consistency, more than anything else, shapes our understanding of Reality.

In the other direction, you can begin to question the nature and assumptions of causality itself. Of course, normally, no rational person would do such a thing. But, as I said, over time, the persistence of the appearance of unique, impossible-seeming coincidences begins to chip away at one's standard notions of causality, and other possibilities begin to come to mind. It must be admitted that they all tend to force the ego out of its perception that it is the sole source of causality in its own thoughts and experiences (at least under certain conditions). Spending time with such experiences and generating conceptions of other possibilities tends to force the hypothesis of a causal source (internal or external to the self is a separate argument, and perhaps a meaningless one) that is independent and transcendent of the ego and its limitations. But, even within such a conception, the standard reasoning and experience of the ego (however illusory it may or may not be) in everyday relationships with both things and others definitely seems expected, even demanded, by that same hypothesized, ego-transcending, causal source.

It is unclear to me, at present, to what experiential end this actually leads, but the masters of qabalah seem to give hints in mysterious terms that encourage further development.

And so I proceed along the second direction, the direction of hypothesizing a causal source in a transcendent relationship to my ego and my ego's usual understanding of how things work regarding time and egoic causality.

I can respect and love those who don't choose that direction. That includes most people on the planet, after all.

But, regarding my own relationship to my hypothesis, I have already fought it and lost. Sorry, there's no hope for me. So I continue to try to understand that thing, and maybe one day, to even love it entirely without a trace of fear or loathing remaining.
Some people call me the space cowboy.
Bereshith
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
 
Posts: 639
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:22 am

Re: Notes on the Self and its formulation

Postby Hermes » Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:49 pm

Bereshith wrote:I can respect and love those who don't choose that direction. That includes most people on the planet, after all.

Would you have any advice on how to work on this? I still project some hate and disrespect i feel towards the parts of my psyche that dont accept the new reality. How to get rid of those projections? I think when those parts arent a threat anymore to myself, it might be ok, yet i'm not sure if it's that simple. Maybe there's a way to get things better before achieving this also.
Hermes
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
 
Posts: 451
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:46 pm

Re: Notes on the Self and its formulation

Postby Bereshith » Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:58 am

Well... If better understanding these parts of yourself could aid in loving them, then maybe imagining them as inner figures and working with the above technique might help.

I know that once I understand a thing's function in the whole, loving gets easier. After you understand a thing's function, then it just breaks down into more or less ignorant versions of that function. And ultimately, you can't even hate ignorance because it's just a baby.

I got unexpectedly dumped really hard once and suffered from extreme abandonment anxiety at the beginning of a later relationship. I ended up working with that anxiety through an inner figure of it that came to me as a sort of "shell-shocked" knight whose job it was to guard my heart. I worked with him repeatedly as the anxiety arose, thanking him for his faithful service and telling him that I needed him to relax and let me have this experience. It only applies to your love question because I initially hated myself for how my anxiety itself was messing up my relationship.

I'm not really the example to be giving advice on love though. But maybe I've helped with what you were asking.
Some people call me the space cowboy.
Bereshith
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
 
Posts: 639
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:22 am

Re: Notes on the Self and its formulation

Postby Hermes » Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:12 am

Great answer. Thanks.

I used to hate mosquitos and small bugs. Then came to my house a huge and beautiful spider. I called her "lili" and considered it as a "pet". When i realised Lili ate the mosquitos and small bugs, and even prefered them than cooked("initiated" :) ) food, i became ok with them.

Now, those parts of myself i dont like feel like those mosquitos and small bugs. I'm sure Lilith will take care of them. Next time i see someone who bothers me, i offer him as a sacrifice to the queen of hell. :lol:

"-blabla... magick doesnt work
-thanks dude, i was so hungry !
-what?!
-you just turned into a lunch"
Hermes
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
 
Posts: 451
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:46 pm

Re: Notes on the Self and its formulation

Postby Bereshith » Mon May 06, 2013 9:28 am

The interesting thing, in my opinion, about the process described above by the quotes from Raff, is the method of interaction with the information that comes from the unconscious mind.

One neither simply accepts the information without question, nor do they resort to a simple "yea or nay" calculation of whether or not the information is "True or False," which would make going through the process of opening oneself to receiving information from the unconscious mind ultimately pointless, since the ego would always have the final word, and that word would simply be a judgement of agreement or disagreement with the information from the perspective of the ego.

Instead, what Raff (ala Jung) is describing is a process of interacting with the information - of entering into conversation with it. Instead of stopping at simple agreement or disagreement with the information, the ego continues in dialogue in order to understand the perspective presented by the "other half" of the mind in order to stimulate the conception of the "third position" that integrates both perspectives, that of the conscious mind and the unconscious mind together.

In the psychological model, it is this "third perspective" that represents the position of what occultists refer to as the Holy Guardian Angel, who may be understood as a representation and embodiment of this "transcendent function."
Some people call me the space cowboy.
Bereshith
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
 
Posts: 639
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:22 am

Re: Notes on the Self and its formulation

Postby Frater 639 » Wed May 08, 2013 1:39 pm

I like this thread. Cool excerpts.

Bereshith wrote:In one direction, you can stand your ground on causality and resist any tendency to see the coincidences as anything more than precisely that - random occurrences upon which one is merely projecting a meaningful connection. As I said, however, over time, this becomes harder to do unless one begins to forgoe any practices that might stimulate the experiences because repetition and consistency, more than anything else, shapes our understanding of Reality.

In the other direction, you can begin to question the nature and assumptions of causality itself. Of course, normally, no rational person would do such a thing. But, as I said, over time, the persistence of the appearance of unique, impossible-seeming coincidences begins to chip away at one's standard notions of causality, and other possibilities begin to come to mind. It must be admitted that they all tend to force the ego out of its perception that it is the sole source of causality in its own thoughts and experiences (at least under certain conditions). Spending time with such experiences and generating conceptions of other possibilities tends to force the hypothesis of a causal source (internal or external to the self is a separate argument, and perhaps a meaningless one) that is independent and transcendent of the ego and its limitations. But, even within such a conception, the standard reasoning and experience of the ego (however illusory it may or may not be) in everyday relationships with both things and others definitely seems expected, even demanded, by that same hypothesized, ego-transcending, causal source.


It is always a pendulum of both methinks? That is, until those two stories are incorporated as same/same...until it becomes Lust (9) from a certain POV.

Well, on one hand, I would look at this between the balance of Netzach and Hod. We have scientific evidence/rational intellect (eins, zwei) on one hand and the passionate beauty of witnessing symmetry (joie de vivre) on the other. Constantly building our ideas into a Tower to God (80) and tearing it down.

In the middle is Art, which leads to Tiphareth. Which I think you describe an aspect of here:

Bereshith wrote:In the psychological model, it is this "third perspective" that represents the position of what occultists refer to as the Holy Guardian Angel, who may be understood as a representation and embodiment of this "transcendent function."


Our skepticism keeps us from turning all fruitcakey, off the Venusian deep end -- so we scrutinize our confirmation bias -- that is a must...

However, the passion keeps us loving life and seeing the beauty and perfection in the imperfection. All sorts of magical/mystical/playboy models enter the picture to be able to remove the "rational censor" at will. What do you think?

I agree this process is also bridging the unconscious and conscious, from another POV (like Lust -- or even Love (4), in the highest aspect of Venus - beyond separate self).

Tower, Lust, Love = 93

What is cool is that these two functions are being becoming proven by fMRIs -- the external "I am this, and that is that" is a particular phenomena generally isolated to one side of the brain...the internal "I am this, and that is that" is a particular phenomena generally isolated to another side of the brain. Studies show these usually "oppose" each other when moving back and forth between these thought processes...even when dreaming.

The "same/same" idea incorporates both sides at once (seer AND seen). It can incorporate awareness that is "non-dual." It is being proven as useful when it comes to healthier mental patterns, neuroplasticity, etc. These newer studies are extremely exciting...I think we've talked about them a bit before...

I think they have something to do with what you're talking about here. IMHO, it has to do with the Self/Not-Self to a certain degree, if that makes any sense. What do you think?

Cool post! I'd like to keep going with it. :D
Frater 639
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
Ultimate Spark of the Intimate Fire
 
Posts: 461
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:08 am


Return to Mysticism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests