I think that the article by Charles Asher decidedly adds to the discourse that I am trying to amplify - i.e. a deconstruction of views of the self - and it is interesting to see this happening within the Jungian matrix, albeit the James Hillman facet thereof.
Like James Hillman, and his "Psyche as Big as the Earth' - [anima mundi] - Asher posits a "communitarian self":
"A communitarian self has important implications for psychotherapy, and more broadly for education and our life together. The social, communal images of our life together become worthy of cultivation and attention. I find such a vision critical to our survival as well as to the possibilities for our common life." p.97.
Asher ends his discourse with a quote from Jung [no reference is given]:
"The phenomenology of the psyche," said Jung, "is so colorful, so variegated in form and meaning, we cannot possibly reflect all its riches in one mirror."
This quotation fulfills for me, a clear pointer to the new nature of our appreciation of consciousness. We do not want definitions of the self, the ego - the de-finite-imprisonings. We have had enough of those calcifications. The image of the mirror, with its Mercurial associations, the quicksilver, is in itself Hermetic. The Mind. Mind. Consciousness. Chit.
Date: 02 April 1999 12:27
How do you see the relationship (in a contemporary context) between alchemy as the the work of transforming the psyche (resurrecting the Christ/Buddha/Self within?) and practical laboratory work (chemistry). Forgive me if the question is naive.
02 April 1999
The question is vast and vexes me greatly. Especially in the light of a recent, and ongoing controversy on an Email Alchemy Forum - and the pro's and cons of the Jungian interpretation of Alchemy. As you may be more sympathetic to the Buddhist perspective - I have a problem equating the Christ/ Buddha - with the 'Self within". I have always taken it for granted, that the Self - and Western thought is loaded with
In fact, my reading of C.G.Jung, is always parallel to a deconstruction of the text - where and when it refers to the Self. One would then wonder what the use is in reading Jung at all? I would say, one should not throw the baby out with the bathwater - an apt saying in your case. The truth is not to be found in concepts. I think that Buddhists do not trade in concepts, because: "...the concept is a stable structure at the end of a process..." The process is what is important, not the empty shell. Western philosophy ismerely moving the furniture around. That process in turn has a pattern - which I prefer to call the yantra of the process - its revealed image of dynamic energy - and this so-called 'image' is in turn the archetype.
An individual, or so-called self - constitutes a wide variety of such action patterns, energies and processes - which we share in common with all humanity, where our commonality defines our species - and beyond with all sentient beings - perhaps more so with mammals first - and then shading off into areas of being where we have less of a familial relationship, e.g. trees, insects, minerals. I suppose I would prefer the theories of New Science, such as the morphogenetic field of Rupert Sheldrake.
Reading the vast cacophony of opinions on the Forum, mentioned above, I see how much confusion is generated through using terms like self, Higher Self, ego, soul, astral body - all of which will eventually end up on the eight cremation grounds of conceptual thought.
So whether alchemy is transforming the psyche, the self, or the soul is of no consequence - because central to the operation, is the very act of transformation itself. The very act of sacrifice is the blood, or the fire of the reverberatory furnace, the fires of impermanence - I suppose in a Heraclitean sense..
The "laboratory events" of alchemy - I always recall that laboratory is at root "labore' - Work, The Work in the mystic sense.
This I suppose approximates the Buddhist [Tibetan] emphasis on Praxis, Practice. Meditation, mantra chanting, visualisation, prostration's - in all - Yoga.
There are those on the Logos side, via Theoria - who describe the water in the sea. We are inclined to experience the water by jumping in. The Sea, is also, in Alchemical associations, as individually and collectively transforming as the fires of the furnace.
We are dissolved in the Ocean - and likewise - the fixed and rigid metals of a belief in an ego or a self - are dissolved in the fire.
These are a few thoughts that will have to be woven to other ruminations that I am busy with at the moment.
Love, Peace, and Light
06th January 1999
FROM A LETTER TO DR. M.H.
Firstly, you must not make the assumption that I am a Jungian. I certainly have very close connections, friends and so forth - and have read and studied extensively for the past 27 years. But with my Buddhist background, there are aspects of Jungian work - terminology such as 'self' the "Self' - "soul" - which I find reductional, concretist, and too implicitly associated with the "object'. Those finite/definite articles leave me cold.
Evidence, points to insubstantials, also in metaphysical African grammar ( see Gabriel Setiloane) et al, and recently reading Guthrie on the Orphic mysteries, I came across this:
"The Egg, then, from which Eros, creator of gods and men, was to be born, was laid by Night unaided by any male partner, and this Aristophanes expresses by saying that it was brought on the winds. The idea behind this is that the soul, the life-principle, either is itself air or being of similar substance is blown about with the winds and is drawn into the body at birth. The breath is the life. The Latin word for soul, anima, means also breath, and the history of the Greek word psyche is the same." Guthrie, Orpheus and Greek Religion, p. 94. Various editions.
When we have an insubstantial element, such as breath, air, and wind - used to qualify the life-principle, we are close enough to the anima as used in the alchemical context - that is to say, volatility. In stark contrast to the fixed. [The so-called animus.]
Thus, these archetypes have no substantiality. They are closer to how Ajit Mookerjee defines 'Yantra' as:
" YANTRA is essentially a geometric composition, but to understand its true nature one has to go beyond the notions of geometry into those of dynamics. A YANTRA then represents particular force whose power or energy increases in proportion to the abstraction or precision of the diagram. Through such YANTRAS or power diagrams, creation and control of ideas and physical forces are supposed to be possible. The dynamic graph of the diagram of forces by which anything can be represented - the picture of its functional constitution - is called the YANTRA of that thing. It is not an arbitrary invention but a revealed image of an aspect of cosmic structure."
Ajit Mookerjee, Tantra Art,Thames and Hudson. Also Madhu Khanna, Yantra, Thames and Hudson.
The archetype is a dynamic yantra, it is not a fixed 'thing' - soos 'dinge - "things as such" - it is closer to Sheldrake's morphogenetic fields - but more sophisticated.
Whether the archetypes are genetic or culturally conditioned, is not a factor that is of any concern to me - it is in itself a dualistic fault to presume that there are two separate 'fields' - and the solution to any such dilemma is to use the simplistic Hermetic approach of 'So Above, So Below' - also a foundational tenet of the Kabala. John Lilly would call it 'meta-programmatic'.
The Tibetans term the archetype 'yidam' - if you are fortunate to receive the Initiation to your yidam from your master [the cultural conditioning] - you then recognize that the yidam - has always been the pure quality of your genetic coding, or meta-genetic. The yidam is merely the outer form, there are more nuclear forms, or non-forms, but that is classified information.
The so-called unconscious - also Jungian in modus operandi - is always, always Hermetically linked to Pluto, to the Underworld - the Greek Plouton - is connected to wealth - the wealth of the hidden seed storage system of the unconscious - a titanic seed bin of nuclear forms, that can only be activated or fanned into daylight projection - by the correctly shaped key - i.e. the yantra, i.e. the archetypal release mechanisms. Symbols, such as the Caduceus - have been around for 7,000 years, and have still not been milked dry. As to symbols:
Their cultural commonality - indicates as Jung trumpeted loudly, that there are collective archetypes - as well as personal archetypes - but really this is splitting hairs again, as the micro-and macro lens - uncovers the fractal foundations.
These are some off-the-cuff observations, not in any way specific to your communication - but related hopefully.
Love to Rose,
MOVING THE FURNITURE AROUND
Look at it this way. If you want to lay a new wall to wall carpet - you first have to remove all the furniture. It is difficult to work with the Ground - when objects are resting on it. Not impossible - for we can paint our "selves" into a corner.
***"It is also contained within the work of Michael Maier, especially in the Septima Philosophia; and also the work of Robert Fludd who was the English friend of Maier,
In another sense we also contain all history within us - not only as a sense of deja vu - but in manifold responses to the fabric of history, each response showing a proclivity to that area of human experience.
Asher, Charles, The Communitarian Self as (God) Ultimate Reality, Spring 54, a Journal of Archetype and Culture, June 1993,