Path of Soul

The word ‘psychology’ is rooted in the word psyche. Psyche is from Greek psykhe “the soul, mind, spirit; breath.” It is unfortunate that the field of psychology has moved away from its glorious roots, loosing contact with the soul. Depth psychologist, James Hillman understand this. He calls on us to “speak for the soul” (p. 161). In doing so he is aware of the difficulty of such a tasks.

According to Hillman, psychopathology rejects the soul and the soul’s language, “calling it pejorative names” (p.161). In Myth of Analysis, James Hillman says that “Freud’s Psychology, and Jung’s, and analysis itself all arise from the ontological ground of pathological imagination” (1972, p. 172). How can psychology speak for the soul if the soul’s language is seen as pathological?

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The Gift of Love

Gentile Da Fabriano- The Annunciation- circa 1425, currently at held at the Pinacoteca Vaticana, via wikimedia US public domain.
Gentile Da Fabriano- The Annunciation- circa 1425, currently at held at the Pinacoteca Vaticana, via wikimedia US public domain.

Life energy moves through all living things. A seed sprouts, growing and becoming a tree, blossoming and bearing fruit. As long as the tree is healthy and without disease its life energy will follow a path. This is not a scientific declaration, but a poetic one: energy creates transformations in form.

In human terms, we call this energy ‘libido.’ The potential transformations of our energy are shaped by ‘libidinal’ desire: our instincts animate us, drive us. Our desire moves us to seek an object; in pure form libido moves us to seek out an other, not as object but subject.

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Via Dolorosa: the soul’s spiritual riddle

Jheronimus_Bosch_or_follower_001
Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450–1516) Christ Carrying the Cross, US public domain via wikimedia

In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung speaks of psychical symbols as “psychological riddles” (para. 83). Jung says that if a “problem [is] not worked out consciously”; then, it “goes on working in the unconscious and throws up symbolical fantasies”(ibid). The psyche brings forth spiritual riddles, appearing in myth, dreams, art and other forms of imagination.

Spiritual riddles point to “natural currents of libido.” Symbols transform, creating currents within psychic life (fn. 18). One such current is formed from the transformation of desire. As desire transforms, so do the symbols that appear in dreams and fantasy.  Jung says: “The yearning clothes itself in ecclesiastical garb… where it at last finds its way to freedom.” (ibid)

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Heaven above, Heaven below: what the soul foretells

Pure Soul, Russian icon- 18th century
Pure Soul, Russian icon- 18th century. US Public Domain via wikimedia

“Everything psychic has a lower and a higher meaning, as in the profound saying of late classical mysticism: ‘Heaven above, Heaven below, stars above, stars below, all that is above also is below, know this and rejoice.’ Here we lay our finger on the secret symbolical significance of everything psychic.” (CW 5, para 77)

In the above passage, Jung is referencing a mystical text titled the Oedipus Aegyptiacus. Jung  borrows from this text to express the tension of opposites within psyche life. The psyche has an urge, aim, a desire: part an expression of base instinct and part spiritual instinct. Fantasy holds the potential to express both of these instinctual urges.

Jung explains his point of view: the [Freudian] “sexual problem” is “only one half of the meaning, and the lower half at that. The other half is ideal creation as a substitute for real creation.” (CW 5, para 77) Here, Jung recognizes the spiritual instincts of the soul. Such instincts modify base instinctual urges into the spiritual through the creation of spiritual symbols and ‘ideals.’ Through spiritual symbols the soul expresses a capacity to dialectically integrate the tension of opposites within the Self.

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An imaginal journey into the origin and history of soul

“Language, in its origin and essence, is simply a system of signs or symbols that denote real occurrences or their echo in the human soul.” (Carl Jung, para. 13)

In its origin and essence language is a mode of the soul. Jung echoes one of the earliest psychological texts, titled the Psychologia Empirica. Writing in 1732, Christian Wolff says:

“Thinking is an act of the soul whereby it becomes conscious of itself and of other things outside itself” (cited in Jung fn 2).

It is with the soul in mind that we begin our discussion of Jung’s Essay on Two Kinds of Thinking, addressing language from the perspective of the soul. Here, language is an act of the soul, whereby the soul becomes conscious of itself.

Origin

At origin, at basis, there is no thought, no language.  Something is, but we cannot call it being or non-being, we cannot know it as full or empty. All we can fathom is that it is the ground of life: essential to life, yet unsayable, unspeakable. It, unfathomable, gives birth to soul.

Ground emerges into form, becoming the divine body of life. The divine body is the birth place of soul, the container or vessel for soul. Divinity and soul are first in unity; they are “indistinct” (Para. 23), like a baby in womb.

With time, the soul emerges out of primal unity into differentiation, initiating a process of individuation. The soul aims to become conscious of itself and others outside of itself. The soul seeks to know life, as the divine body of life. Language is a mode of the soul in communion with and about its mother world. Jung says:

“From time immemorial language has been directed outwards and used as a bridge, which has but a single purpose, namely that of communication. So long as we think directedly, we think for and speak to others” (para. 12).

In its emergent form the soul thinks for and speaks to the divine body. Language becomes a bridge between a soul and divine other. The soul realizes itself in dynamic communion: speaking, bridging, linking, and interweaving with the divine body of life.

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