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The Birth of the Self
by Paul Levy

Paul Levy

As Jung points out, the birth of the Self is always a defeat for the ego. To quote Jung, individuation, the process of becoming whole, "involves suffering, a passion of the ego." According to Jung, this involves nothing less than "a crucifixion of the ego, its agonizing suspension between irreconcilable opposites." To quote Jung, "only through the most extreme and most menacing conflict does the Christian experience deliverance into divinity, always provided that he does not break, but accepts the burden of being marked out by God."

To again quote Jung, "The drama of the archetypal life of Christ describes in symbolic images the events in the conscious life- as well as in the life that transcends consciousness- of a man who has been transformed by his higher destiny." The entire passion of Christ takes on a much different meaning when we view it symbolically, reading it like a dream that a deeper part of us, the Self, has dreamed up in our collective psyche. Christ's life was the living, breathing embodiment, expression and symbol of the archetype of the Self, which is the archetype of wholeness. His life was the incarnation, or materialization, of the archetype of the Self being given birth to, activated and made manifest, in the collective psyche, the mind of God. The impulse towards wholeness must have been so strongly bubbling up in the collective psyche of humankind for so long that we all dreamed up into materialized form onto the screen of our collective consciousness the living symbol of this archetype in the Christ event.

Christ's life was an eternal moment outside of time manifesting in our universe, a reflection and emanation of a deep inner process happening in all of our psyches. If we are able to see symbolically, the atemporal and nonlocal nature of the Christ event is how we all share in Christs accomplishment, how we are able to access that energy.

Symbols are psychic energy transformers, activating processes and liberating energy in those who are able to tune in and resonate with them. Being the incarnation and symbol of the archetype of wholeness, the Christ event, contemplated symbolically, contains the energy to actualize this archetype. This is why Jung interprets the words of Jesus to Nicodemus to mean "Do not think carnally, or you will be flesh, but think symbolically, and then you will be spirit." To contemplate our life symbolically is to see it like a dream, and to unlock the hidden blessings in the dream symbol of Christ is to consider how that same archetype of wholeness which mystically danced itself through Christ is dancing through us as our "ego gets crucified." Like an alchemist, it is our task to think symbolically, so as to free and redeem God from imprisonment in matter.

A symbol is a mysterious doorway into a deeper experience, it both points to this deeper experience as well as containing the energy to achieve it. It is a portal into a deeper dimension of hyper-space. Seen symbolically, this entire agonizing ordeal of "the crucifixion of the ego" of which Jung speaks, is seen to be the expression, as well as the realization of, "being marked out by God." It is to be genuinely imitating Christ, and can become, to again quote Jung "an involuntary EXPERIENCE of the reality represented by the sacred legend."

When we are truly called, part of the realization of realizing we are being called is to know that it is safe to let go and trust, that we are taken care of and given everything we need. This realization is the blessing inherent in and fruition of the ordeal; which has revealed itself to be an initiation process; the ordeal was the vehicle which manifested this realization. This relaxing into our experience is itself the death of our infinite self-contraction; it is the healing of our trauma of imagining ourselves to be a separate self. It is the birth and incarnation of the Self in us, through us, and as us.

Paul Levy is an artist and healer who is in private practice. His passions are dreaming, spiritual emergence, alchemy and shamanism. He has been a student of the work of C. G. Jung for many years. A long-time Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, he is the coordinator of the Portland PadmaSambhava Buddhist Center. He can be reached at (503) 234-6480.