C. G. Jung articulated very eloquently the archetypal descent into
the unconscious. He realized that when you go into the psyche you
are invariably going to meet "the problem of the opposites." This
is that double-bind that is at the root of our self-consciousness.
To quote Jung, "All opposites are of God, therefore man must bend
to this burden; and in so doing he finds that God in his "oppositeness"
has taken possession of him, incarnated himself in him. He becomes
a vessel filled with divine conflict."
Jung says it is crucial at this point to "hold the tension of the
opposites." This is the creative tension which creates the pressure
in the alchemical vessel. This pressure is the necessary ingredient
for the process of transmutation of impure to pure elements in the
psyche to successfully occur.
When the opposites first get constellated, there can be wide oscillations
between the two polarities; this can at times look like manic-depression.
If the person doesn't have a strong enough sense of self, which
is to not have a strong enough alchemical container, they will split-off,
repress and project out one of the pairs of opposites and identify
with the other. Instead of a reconciling symbol arising, symptoms
If a person is able to hold both opposites simultaneously, it can
be an excruciating experience. Jung points out that, symbolically,
this is a veritable crucifixion. This is to be genuinely imitating
Christ. To quote Jung "It is no longer an effort, an intentional
striving after imitation, but rather an involuntary experience of
the reality represented by the sacred legend."
Going through this experience can be very painful to the ego, as
the experience itself is about nothing other than the death and
transcendence of the ego. This is why Jung says, "the birth of the
Self is always a defeat for the ego." As long as one is still identified
with the ego, this experience will invariably involve getting in
touch with one's utter impotence and helplessness, which St. John
of the Cross calls "the Dark Night of the Soul."
When Christ was being crucified, he uttered "My God, why have thou
forsaken me?" Read symbolically, this would say that, if Christ
himself went through it, even an experience where one feels totally
disconnected from God is a Divine moment. And not only that, it
is the moment closest to the resurrected body, which is symbolic
of the birth of the Self.
Jung makes the point that we are only able to creatively hold
the tension of the opposites if we realize that the opposites themselves
are manifestations of the Self and are not of the ego. Recognizing
this will allow us to not identify with either of the opposites
as well as to disidentify with the conflict itself, and by doing
this we will be clearing the space for the solution to come. This
is the birth of the Self, which is none other than the incarnation
of God in and through us. By consciously going through this real
life passion play, or in Jung's words, a "divine drama," we become
a conduit for the incarnating Godhead itself, which Jung realized
was the greatest service that we could do for the divine. This is
what Jung meant when he talked about "a broadening process of incarnation,"
"the continuing incarnation of God," and "the Christification of
the many." This is why he defined individuation, the process of
becoming whole, as incarnation, for to the extent that we claim
our wholeness we allow God to incarnate in this world.
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