MAN AND HIS SYMBOLS

PSYCHE

Man has developed consciousness slowly and laboriously, in a process that took untold ages to reach the civilised state (which is arbitrarily date from the invention of script in about 4000 B.C.). And this evolution is far from complete, for large areas of the human mind are still shrouded in darkness. What we call the ‘psyche’ is by no means identical with our consciousness and its contents.’

According to Carl Jung, our psyche is composed of the ego,the collective unconscious and the unconscious.Ego has all our conscious memories,emotions and thoughts while the unconscious has all our repressed memories,emotions and thoughts which we are incapable of knowing consciously.Our Ego self thinks rationally which is influenced by our prejudices,fantasies and infantile wishes.Consciousness is reason and knowledge while Unconsciousness has instincts and archetypes.The “loss of soul” – a modern man’s fundamental predicament is fundamentally the split between the conscious and the unconscious component of our psyche.We think that we know everything yet we don’t even have the capacity to fully comprehend ourselves.

Our psyche is part of nature, and its enigma is limitless.’

COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS

Collective unconcious holds all our primitive instincts and desires.It’s a universal occurence.The contents of the collective unconcious is not influenced by our personal experiences.In the collective unconcious, we have archetypes.All the religious doctrines arise from this collective unconcious.This collective unconcious reveals itself in the form of images in dreams,myths,fairytales etc.All the cultural remnants of an individual is contained in the collective unconscious.

ARCHETYPES

Archetypes are our urges,our instincts,our dreams and our visions.For example we have the famous hero myth.It is marked by 5 stages 1.early success 2.rise to power 3. running against evil 4. failing due to pride 5. sacrifice..This myth is common to all cultures which sums up the entire idea of the archetypes which are the archaic remnants of our ancestors irrespective of our race,creed or culture.The hero myth has deep psychological significance,it symbolizes on a deepeer level the capacity of each one of us to be our own heroes in our life in the sense that we are able to combat our fear and anxieties with courage like a hero and go deep into our psyche into the underworld of our unconciousness to explore all the things that we do without reflection. We should be the heroes in our life combating social conventions and doing ”our thing” instead of following the herd.In a way the hero myth empowers us in the sense that now we can conciously decide to face our problems and not run away from them.Archetypes comes to life when we reflect why are they meaningful to us?if we are sufferring we can choose to look at ourselves as the hero of our own story so we confront chaos and slay the dragons or the snakes except in this case most of the dragons and snakes are in ourselves :p

We are not even sure that one will prevail against the other that good will overcome evil,or joy defeat pain.Life is a battleground,it always has been,and always will be and if we were not so existence would come to an end”

LOTUS

The lotus comes out of murky waters and the analogy of new ideas coming out from the unconcious is akin to that.In 1861,August Kekule discovered the structure of benzene by dreaming about a closed snake.So many breakthoroughs in the field of science have come out of the unconcious.

SHADOW

Shadow is all those parts of our psyche that we have repressed.For example,people especially women have a tendency to repress their anger and their aggression.All the hidden parts of us which the society and the culture asks us to let go.Projection is a phenomena that things that are reprehensible to us in others is actually within us.We might argue for the goodness of men but before that we need to understand that humans are perfectly capable of being evil.It’s naive to assume that humans are all sunshine and goodness.We are our own worst enemy.

For we have not even learned to control our own nature.Slowly but,it appears inevitably we are courting disaster”

People have a tendency to commit acts of violence in groups that group is all our collective shadows speaking through the herd.Carl jung warns us against losing ourselves in the herd and advises us to differentiate ourselves into individuals through a process called individuation.Did you find yourself in a rage in which ‘you just loose it?’ or others saying that” i don’t know what came over you?”that happens and that is our shadow self.You can see people cutting each other off in traffic lines and even in checkout lines.Shadow can also have our creativity which we have repressed due to social conditioning.But the problem is how can we integrate it into our personality and the solution lies in confronting it rather than denying it.But bringing it to our awareness is the first step towards psychic health.

GOLDEN AGE

Nothing is more vulnerable than scientific theory,which is an ephemeral attempt to explain facts and not an everlasting truth in itself”

Carl states that in this modern world where we have denied the existence of god and by god he meant the transcendent,the ideal, making the whole point of existence and sufferring meaningless why suffer?when we have nothing to work towards?what’s the point of morality anyways?Science and rationality is just one sided or a one dimensional part of our perception.There’s so much inside our minds that we cannot fully comprehend.

DREAMS AND THEIR UTMOST VALUE

Dreams are not something that is random or meaningless or useless.According to Carl jung,dreams are the primary source to tap into the inner workings of our unconcious mind.In psychoanalysis,dreams are also used as guidance as dreams in the form of symbols and mythological motifs harbour truths of our psyche like for example if someone dreams of flying too high or falling,their unconcious are warning them in their dreams of their ambitions which are too lofty to be fulfilled.Every person’s dream is unique so one thing in one dream can mean different things for different people.

Such messages from the unconscious are of greater importance that most people realize. In our conscious life, we are exposed to all kinds of influences. Other people stimulate or depress us, events at the office or in our social life distract us. Such things seduce us into following ways that are unsuitable to our individuality. Whether or not we are aware of the effect they have on our consciousness, it is disturbed by and exposed to them almost without defence.’

SYMBOLISM

What is a symbol and how is it different from a sign?symbols have multiple levels of analysis while a sign is particular for an object or thing.Unconcious speaks chiefly through symbols for example a house in dream may imply your own body.The number of people that you encounter in your dreams are actually the different aspects of your own psyche.What we cannot comprehend is made a symbol.

The familiar dream in which the dreamer is pursued by an animal nearly always indicates that an instinct has been split off from the consciousness and ought to be (or is trying to be) readmitted and integrated into life. The more dangerous the behaviour of the animal in the dream, the more unconscious is the primitive and instinctual soul of the dreamer, and the more imperative is its integration into his life if some irreparable evil is to be forestalled.’

Crystal symbolizes the union of the opposites(the male and the female) and also the integration of the unconcious contents into the consciousness.The rock also symbolizes the essence of integration.

DEVELOPMENT OF PERSONALITY

Human personality evolves in 4 stages,namely,the trickster,the hare,the red horn and the twins but what is this evolution towards?it is towards the civilization of our impulses and our instincts into something that can also recognize the antagonism of life,the opposites,that tug of war that life is in which one side of our psyche wants one thing while one side wants the other.Its’s tantamount to freeing yourself from your parental expectations and pressures.The full totality of our being,our dreams and our desires are threatened by our need to conform to our society and our culture.

SYMBOLS OF TRANSCENDENCE

The self is a concept introduced by carl jung which speaks of the nucleus or the centre of an individual as that which has the full potential of the psychic makeup of that individual which when comes in your dreams could be symbolized by a snake or a bird or a fish.Caduceus is a symbol with a short staff entwined by two serpents.It’s a symbol for pharmacy,this was the staff of the roman god hermes.The snake represents healing,wisdom,transformation and rebirth.But how can we transcend?jung asks us to surrender to the self as it works through the process of gradual awakening.

ANIMA/ANIMUS

The anima are the female qualities in a male while the animus is the male qualities in a female.Both anima and animus can be evil as well as good,jung wanted us to recognize these traits in ourselves so that we can assimilate them into our psyche.

In its individual manifestation the character of a man’s anima is as a rule shaped by his mother. If he feels that his mother had a negative influence on him, his anima will often express itself in irritable, depressed moods, uncertainty, insecurity, and touchiness.

SYNCHRONICITY

According to Jung, a synchronicity is a meaningful coincidence.For example he talks about Charles darwin coming up with the theory of evolution like a flash likewise at the same time when he came up with this theory ,a young biologist A.RWALLACE ,also wrote to Darwin of the same theory thus in a way jung proposes that evolution could have been a slower process but that is fueled by something else an intervention,it might be nature itself intervening out of necessity.He links a physical event to a psychic state.

ABSTRACTION IN ARTS AND SYMBOLISM

Modern men in the face of the ugliness of human nature has become more and more abstract in theirr art forms.Circle/sphere is the symbol for the self or the totality of our psyche.It stands for enlightement.The circle and the square represents our thoughts and feelings.It’s again the concept of the ‘split’ between out heart and the mind or the union of the opposites.

In the end,Jung talks about how our unconcious orders itself before getting into the consciousness but in order to discover our unconciousness we need the help of our consciousness.It’s a great book that i would highly recommend especially to those of you interested in the inner workings of your mind as well as the those of you who are interested in symbolism and mythology.

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