2.28 Your Outer Personality Needs To Be Tempered
THE STRUCTURE OF THE PSYCHE
To Carl Gustav Jung, the human psyche or mind is composed of three levels. These are the consciousness, the personal Unconscious and the Objective or Collective Unconscious. The Conscious aspect of the psyche is the Ego or Persona, the everyday familiar “I” with whom we readily identify, the decision-making active and aware part of the personality. The Unconscious is the source of all the fundamental symbols and other psychic content and ideas that emerge daily into the Consciousness. Among these are repressed memories, feelings, instincts and desires, as well as intuition and an immense wealth or knowledge, which is, for the most part, a closed door to the Consciousness.
Some of these unconscious contents surface to the conscious aspect of the personality from time to time, particularly in the form of dreams. The Collective Unconscious is the largest part of the psyche, and Jung conceived of it as the underlying portion of an iceberg, the uppermost tip being formed by the conscious Ego. The largest body of the iceberg, hidden from view by the water surface, is the Collective Unconscious.
The Unconscious is therefore the largest and most important part of the human mind. It is a level of psychic contents that is deeper than both the Consciousness and the Unconscious. It is called “collective” because it is generically present in all human beings. That is, it contains material which is held collectively by everyone regardless of race, creed and place of origin. These psychic contents have existed since the early beginnings of the human race and some of them may even transcend human experience.
The three levels of the personality, both conscious and unconscious, are composed of the libido or psychic energy. This energy is released to the Consciousness through the constant tension between pairs of opposites in the deep Unconscious. The psyche is a non-physical space within the personality, where “psychic phenomena” takes place. The libido moves within this space in a variety of movements, up and down, forward and backward, inward and outward. This “space” is the totality of the human personality, a kind of inner cosmos.
We cannot determine what the libido or psychic energy really is. All we can say is that it is, it exists, and it can be seen under two aspects. One of these is energy manifested on the cosmic level of life, energy as a whole. The other is energy expressed specifically in the human psyche. The principle of opposites is a main characteristic of the psyche. To Jung, everything subsists as a phenomenon of energy. But without the pre-existence of an antithesis there could be no energy. There must always be height and depth, heat and cold, positive and negative so that the order of equalization, which is energy, can take place.
All life is energy, and this energy depends on forces held in opposition. The greater the tension between the pairs of opposites the greater will be the energy that is released. This energy is generated through conflict within the person and is the active force within the psyche, being dissipated in activity and recreated by newly emerging tensions between the opposites.
The energy released by the opposites can create a progression or a recession within the psyche. That is, it can be of a positive or a negative nature. The progression phase of the psychic energy or libido happens when all is going well within the psyche and the energy can express itself in a creative way in the external world. At this point, the individual experiences an exhilarated feeling of well-being and all he does turns out well. The psychic energies are moving upwards and outwards at these times. But should an obstacle appear, the flow of the libido is reversed and the balance between the opposites cannot be maintained. The feeling of well-being is transformed into one of depression and confusion. All seems suddenly dark and without hope. Instead of harmony and joy, there is only discord and internal friction. The opposites, no longer in harmonious union, break apart and begin to oppose one another. The conflict creates new energy, but this energy is no longer moving forwards but rather downwards into the deep unconscious. This is the regression phase of the libido which causes it to expend itself within itself. The energy moves further down into the lower levels of the psyche from where it emerges in a variety of negative manifestations.
The processes that take place in the Collective Unconscious by means of the libido are manifested through the psychic forms known as archetypes. These are forms or images of a collective nature which occur all over the earth as parts of myths and at the same time, as independent and individual products of unconscious origin. These patterns of symbol formation recur throughout mankind in the various mythologies of the human race.
Archetypes have existed since the early beginnings of humanity and for that reason they are based on the most fundamental structure of the psyche. What is most important to consider is that archetypes occur independently of Consciousness, almost as if they had a life of their own. In fact, they are concentrations of psychic energy that are representations of certain human and superhuman personalities or traits, and they exist entirely on their own.
Egyptian pantheons are good examples of archetypes. So are the forces of the Tree of life. In themselves the archetypes are only tendencies, potentialities and they do not become significant in the life of an individual until they emerge outwardly in a specific form. Archetypes present themselves as facts, and when we come face to face with one, we are observing an outpouring of psychic energy manifested in a material way. The tension that is created in the psyche as a result of the interaction between opposites is beyond the control of the individual. For this reason it is said to be autonomous; that is, independent of the guidance of the Consciousness. The energy released has the power to attract and gather together various psychic contents into constellations or “complexes.” These Jung called autonomous complexes. They are so strong and individualistic that they function as small personalities within the total personality. In dreams these psychic systems appear in personified form, sometimes as a man and in others as a woman. The best known of the autonomous complexes are the persona, the Shadow, the Animus and the Anima. The persona is the conscious aspect of the personality, the mask that the individual presents to the world and with which he or she identifies. Because it represents the person’s conscious attitudes, it must perforce rest solidly on the Unconscious of which it is the diametrical opposite. The negative qualities repressed by the individual, his antisocial urges and lack of discipline are concentrated into the Shadow which is invariably identified with the weaker part of the personality. All the blunders that an individual makes which he cannot explain, all the negative, impulsive actions that create havoc in a human life are the result of the Shadow’s inner work.
As the balancing element in the psyche, there is a feminine side in every man and a masculine side in every woman. In the man the feminine side is personified in the Unconscious as the Anima. In the woman the masculine side is personified as the Animus. In dreams, men see the Anima as a woman, while women see the animus as a man. In contrast, the Shadow is always perceived as a figure belonging to the same sex as the dreamer.
The Anima expresses itself in daily life as inexplicable moods of a petty, catty nature. The Animus, on the other hand, expresses itself in arbitrary belligerent opinions. What is involved in either case is the assertion of the undeveloped side of the personality. For this reason, the Anima and the Animus are not really negative aspects of the personality, but an attempt of the Unconscious to balance it. When an individual dreams of the Shadow, he sees it as a threatening figure that is trying to harm him in some way. The figure is always of the same sex as that of the dreamer. The Anima and Animus are seldom threatening. They in fact seem always to try to assist the dreamer in some way. They always manifest as persons of the opposite sex. Dreams of the Shadow or the Animus or Anima indicate that these autonomous complexes are being activated in the psyche of the individual for the purpose of integration into the conscious personality. The process of integration was called, by Jung, Individuation.
The Individuation process can only be accomplished through either the Animus or the Anima since they represent the personification of the Unconscious in the male and the female. In this sense the Animus and Anima, as the symbol of the Unconscious and of all the archetypes, has the largest concentration of libido energy in the Psyche.
Before the Individuation process can be completed and the personality be fully integrated, the forces of the Shadow and either the Anima or the Animus have to be recognized and reconciled with the individual’s Consciousness. At this point the person realizes that his persona is, in reality, a very small part of his psyche, and that most of his attitudes and traits are masks he wears to impress the world. He then comes face to face with his inner reality and becomes transformed in the process. Fundamentally, the aim of individuation is to rid the personality from the false wrappings of the Persona and from the suggestive influence of the Anima or Animus.
When the Anima or Animus, as the Unconscious, becomes integrated into the Consciousness, its energies are transformed and act as a bridge between the conscious and unconscious parts of the psyche. Here the opposites that act within the psyche become integrated into a unified personality. This new force is known as the emerging Self.
The Self has been defined as an inner guiding factor that is different from the conscious personality and can be best grasped through the investigation of dreams. The now integrated Self appears in dreams as a superior being same sex as the individual. It becomes the regulating center that creates a constant extension and maturity of the personality. Its emergence may be very slight, or it may develop quite fully during a person’s lifetime. How far it develops depends on how much the Ego is willing to listen to its messages. Those who do so become more complete human beings. But it must always be remembered that it is the Ego that serves to light up the psyche. The Self can prod the Ego, but only the Ego can reach the full potentialities of its own psyche.
In order to bring the Individuation process into reality, the individual must be willing to surrender consciously to the power of the Unconscious. Instead of trying to determine what he should do in a given situation, the person should simply listen, in order to learn what the Self, the inner totality of the psyche, wants him or her to do in each particular situation.
The subjective experience of Individuation gives the feeling that some supernatural force is actively interfering in the individual’s life in a positive and creative way. Sometimes it seems as if the Unconscious were leading the way in accordance with a secret design. But for this to take place the individual has to realize that to fulfill one’s destiny is the greatest of human achievements, and material considerations must always take a backseat in the development of the psyche.
To Jung, dreams seemed to follow an arrangement or pattern. It was this pattern of dreams that he identified as the Individuation process. Since dreams produce different scenes and images every night, if we are not careful observers of our dreams we fail to perceive their patterns. But if we watch our dreams over a long period of time, we will find that the same symbols keep on reappearing. If we then attempt to interpret the dreams’ imagery, we will begin to observe hidden regulating tendency at work which creates a slow but discernible psychic growth. This growth is what Jung called the Individuation process.
The integration which is the result of the Individuation process is achieved in kabbalah through work in the Tree of Life, which is a symbol of the integrated Self. Adam Kadmon or the Cosmic Man is both God manifested on the cosmic level and the perfected human being in Malkuth or the material world.
As we have seen, work on the Tree must be accomplished through the balancing of opposite spheres. The tension between these opposites is what releases the psychic energies necessary to bring about changes in the material world. These changes, which first take place within the individual’s psyche, are released through the power of the archetypes symbolized by the forces of the Tree: the Divine Names and the various angelic beings. These forces exist in the human Collective Unconscious and predate the conscious aspect of the personality. They are as real as the world around us, or perhaps more real, because they are not mere parts of the Persona of the world, but the basis of our very soul.
The imagery of dreams takes place in what is known as the Astral World. As we saw earlier, the Astral is the world of mind, and therefore its substance is the libido or psychic energy. This is the same imagery that is used in meditation and on all work on the Tree. Therefore, practical work in kabbalah is a conscious effort to contact the archetypes and autonomous complexes of the Collective Unconscious. It is then an Individuation process conducted by the conscious part of the personality instead of the Unconscious, which works mostly through dreams. That is why work on the Tree must be devoid of selfish intentions, as it then simply adds to the confusion and stagnation of the Persona or conscious Ego. Material considerations can only be used in conjunction with the Tree when they help in the spiritual development of the individual. Otherwise, the Qliphotic forces of the Tree, which can be equated with the sinister influence of the Shadow, will then come into being.
Man’s personal god as the Adam Kadmon is therefore his own Self, an intrinsic part of his own soul, which flows outwardly from within the Unconscious to enrich his life and give it true meaning. Once the Self has emerged into the conscious personality, the now integrated Consciousness can use the vast symbology of the mind to make things happen according to his will. At this point, he will be one with the Self; that is, with the God within, and all the powers of that infinite force will also be his to wield.
Mind happens in a space-time continuum that exists beyond physical reality. All human events take place along different segments of this continuum. They co-exist in time but on different points of space. That is, past, present and future blend in the continuum and extend into infinity. The Self, being eternal and the overseer of Mind, can perceive all events happening along the continuum in their proper segment of time and space. Its infinite vision allows it to see both the beginning and the end of the universe simultaneously. When the Self has been fully integrated into the outer Consciousness, it can project through to the individual what is going to happen and when. This is the power we know as clairvoyance and clairaudience.
Apparent coincidences are points of contact between the Unconscious of one person and the Unconscious of another. When you dream about a person you have not seen in a long time and meet her the next day, or when you are thinking about someone and the telephone rings and that person is on the other end of the line, you are facing a “meaningful” coincidence. That is, your Unconscious and that of the other person came in contact with each other before your actual meeting or conversation. The force of the contact was so strong as to work its way through to the conscious mind. That is why you thought about or dreamt with that person. Jung called these “meaningful” coincidences, synchronicity, that is, synchronized events engineered by the Unconscious. Hunches, premonitions and wishes that come true are all synchronized events.
Because the Self functions freely along the space-time continuum, it is not concerned with past, present and future. To the Self things are simply what they are. And because it has at its disposal most of the energies of the psyche, it can make things happen and change them at will. Affecting present and future events to the Self is simply a matter of transforming psychic energy into material happenings.
The urge towards Individuation and the integration of the psyche is present in all individuals. It may find expression in a variety of ways. Religious feeling is only one of these expressions. Art, the unity of the family, and all creative instincts are part of this urge. In those individuals who are deeply influenced by the Shadow complex, this urge becomes perverted and is often expressed in a violent or destructive form.
One of the most common ways that the need for Individuation expresses itself in an individual is through an overwhelming love for another person. In fact, when passion goes beyond the natural measure of love, its ultimate aim is the mystery of becoming whole, and that is why when a person falls deeply in love, he or she feels that the only worthwhile thing in life is becoming one with the object of their love. Very often, the individual that is loved is the physical counterpart of his or her lover’s anima or a animus, reflecting that particular archetype’s intrinsic qualities. When this happens, it is said that the two lovers are soul mates; that is, that they are perfect complements of each other’s souls. Human soul mates are the counterparts of the Shekinah and Her divine spouse, and when they meet in this world their union is full of joy and spiritual fulfillment.
Working towards spiritual development in kabbalah can be equated with the Jungian individuation process. But while Individuation can never be influenced directly by the conscious personality, kabbalistic work is solely in the hands of the individual practitioner. The Unconscious still serves as a guide, but it is the Consciousness that steers the course. This is a significant difference that underlines once more the importance of judicious care in the practical kabbalah.
If natural selection has seen fit to develop Mind in Mankind, and Mind has proven to be the most valuable asset in the evolutionary process, why seek to destroy it through death? After all, nature always preserves valuable traits and highly adaptable Species. Is there anything more valuable in nature than the human Mind? Why destroy it through death? Why bother to develop it through millions of years of careful evolution only to discard it with the disintegration of the body? This makes no sense, particularly if we take into consideration nature’s meticulous thriftiness in the conservation of energy. If Mind is unbounded energy, unbounded in the sense that it is a separate entity from the body, then it must surely be preserved when the body itself disappears.
The idea of a disembodied Mind immediately presents us with the paradox of how it can have any type of sensorial experience when it is no longer associated with a brain with a complex sensorial apparatus. How can it see, hear feel, when it has no physical senses? But if we accept that the Mind exists independently of the brain, then the paradox is solved. Because then we can ascribe conscious states to the disembodied Mind. If Mind and brain are conceptually distinct, then there is no problem in accepting that there may be cognitive activities such as thinking, imagining, believing and feeling in the absence of a brain. One may still ask how the disembodied Mind can have perceptual experiences without sense organs and a nervous system.
The answer may be found in the dream state. When we dream we seem to see with our eyes closed and hear even though we are surrounded by silence. Lame Deer, a Sioux Medicine Man, said that “What you see with eyes shut is what counts.” He was referring to the landscape of the Mind, the world we perceive in dreams, which has no parallels in the world of the senses. This dream world with its own conceptual reality may be seen as the world of the Mind, the astral world described by the mystics.
But one may still ponder the fact that the dreamer is still very much alive and that his dreams may be accounted for by the activity of his brain. Yet when we sleep, stimuli from the sense organs are cut off or, at any rate, fail to have the same effects upon the brain.
If we conceive of the world of dreams as the world of the Mind, does that mean that the disembodied Mind cannot perceive the physical world after the death of the body? To aid us with this problem we can consider the many reported cases of persons who have found themselves outside their bodies while awake. During this apparently spontaneous occurrence, a person can see his or her own body and its surroundings without using the physical senses. These people report a strong sense of awareness while they remain outside their bodies. Most of the time they seem to be floating above it and can feel the same sensations that are natural in their embodied states. Many of these cases are reported by persons who have had serious illnesses or accidents, but some seem to occur for no special reason, when the individual is feeling healthy and comfortable. It is almost as if the part of the person who left the body is the real personality the true Mind, while the body itself is simply a shell, left temporarily by its occupant.