Jung Reflections

I purchased a book for a buck a few weeks ago that is old, its pages yellow and brittle: Memories, Dreams, Reflections by C.J. Jung. Because of its condition, I resisted reading, afraid it will fall apart before I finish it. But this morning, I ventured into the introduction written by Aniela Jaffe’, who interviewed Jung and did the primary writing of the book. I could see in a short time that this is a perfect follow-up to The Varieties of Religious Experience by Willaim James that I completed a while back.

I realize that my failure to blog in the past year has been a priority issue. I tend to read in the early morning when it is quiet and then move into my day when things start to bustle around here. When I wrote regularly, blogging was the second task of the day and often the subject of my blogging was something I had read and found meaningful to my own self or to whatever was going on in the world at that time. Since the world and I seem to change so rapidly, the thoughts pass by and are quickly  replaced by others. I have decided to fix that. So here I am, sitting in my pajamas ready to take what Jung offered me today and pass it on to whoever has the time and interest to read this morning.

Jung wrote to a young clergyman in 1952, “I find that all my thoughts circle around God like the planets around the sun, and are as irresistibly attracted to Him. I would feel it to be the grossest sin if I were to oppose any resistance to this force.” Eleven pages in and I have been hooked. This has been my own experience, thoughts of God always tugging at me like a child trying to get my attention or like the little people of Whoville shouting into the ear of an elephant, “We are here! We are here!” God, that unseen force that has all the answers but keeps them a secret because if He* gave them away, no one would seek Him anymore. Such an insecure God! I will write some other time about the many ways that God tries to get my attention.

Jung was a scientist and, as such, would speak of his religious experience as though he were talking about anatomical structures. He does this by choice and with awareness. Speaking of his own experience as a youth, he writes, “At that time I realized that God – for me, at least – was one of the most immediate experiences.” In his work as scientific, he seldom spoke of God, but he used the term “the God-image in the human psyche.” For him this is not a contradiction, for one is subjective based  on his own experience; the other is the objective language of the scientist.

Jung rarely spoke of his subjective religious experiences and this book promises to share some of these. There is reason for his hesitancy. “His subjective statements will be acceptable only by those who have had similar experiences-or, to put it another way, to those whose psyche the God-image bears the same or similar features.” I can relate. While I yearn to share my own experiences and to hear of the religious experiences of others, I find that people who are willing to listen and share are most often people who have at least some common thoughts of spirituality, religion, and the divine. When sharing with others about my experience of God, I usually begin by putting my toe in the water to test whether there are places of common seeing. At one time, if doubted that anyone out there could possibly understand how I felt about things spiritual, but I was wrong. That sense that one is unique in all the world and no one could possibly understand is the mischief of the ego for it leads to separation – and loneliness.

  • Please forgive the use of the word “He” for God. Jung, writing when he did, used the masculine and it is sometimes hard to loose myself when I am discussing an older work. I can wrestle with a sentence for an hour trying to speak of God as other than human, which He is. (Oops – I did it again.)

 

 

Back to Blogging

I want to return to blogging. I finished the writing project I have been working on for about five years. I wrote the final chapter of my book two days ago. Yesterday I was in limbo. I hate limbo. It is a nothing place and everything I did felt like wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. I did these wrong things anyway because I didn’t know what else to do. Today, I hope will be better.

I need to write. I had set my blog aside a while back because I wanted to get the damned book done. Now I need to return or I think I will go crazy.

This is a fertile time to write. A political hot-time-in-the-old-town-tonight kind of time. A look at the blogs I wrote during the last few elections will show you that I have plenty of opinions about politics so you’d think I would be thrilled to get back into the ring.

But I’m not. I posted on Facebook yesterday that I am taking a break from politics. I think it is a temporary break but I am not sure. If I can find a way to bypass politics all together, not just in my writing but in my life, I might take that path. As a citizen, I should keep informed about what is happening in my country, right? The problem is I am not sure what informed means. I am getting increasingly angry and depressed over hateful comments coming from the Left and the Right. I yearn for sanity. You might say I want an objective voice. But even more than that,I yearn for someone who can talk about what is happening in the world in a way that is not fearful or frantic or judgmental.

Maybe that person is me. Maybe. But for now, I am not sure I know how to do that. What does writing about fearful things without fearfulness look like? It looks rather saintly to me. Or extremely naive.

My book is about the Kingdom of God. (I won’t tell you more. You will have to wait for the book to come out). But I can tell you this much. I believe that the Kingdom of God is here and now. All this shit going on- the angry stuff all over Facebook and the news and in Washington and on the streets – is about the earthly kingdom. I think what I need to do is to learn how to live in the Heavenly Kingdom as though what Jesus said about it is true.

I will start working on that today. As soon as I am done posting this blog.

Inspiration and Art

I pulled back from writing my blog for a while because I was working on my first book. I finally finished it in August and sent it out to a few willing folks to review. I am starting to receive their reflections and can see that I have more work to do before I publish.

Asking for honest comments on a work of art is a truly vulnerable thing to do. Fortunately the people I chose are kind-hearted and their criticisms come through softly. What is important to me is that they took me seriously enough to be honest. They understand how important it is if one wants to put something out into the world that people will like and want to share with others. Once I get all of my readers’ responses back, I will edit the book one more time before moving toward publishing.

My daughter, Heidi, shared with me a marvelous book by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the popular Eat, Pray, Love. “What is Creativity?” she poses in the opening page of her Big Magic. She answers, “The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.” What I got from the book is that art is not totally our own. Rather, we are in-Spirited. We don’t have to do anything about the Spirit come to work through us, but when we do, the outcome is something not totally our own. Rather, it is a dance between the Spirit within us and our own talent, hard work, and determination. Gilbert did a good job communicating just how inspiration works and how we can cooperate to produce our art.

Gilbert’s book was timely for me. It not only helped me in the finishing of the book, but it enabled me to let go as I moved into the next phase. It is amazing to me how free I felt handing the manuscript out for review. I had little or no fear of rejection because I believe that the work is inspired.

Those who read this blog will know when the book finally gets published. Meanwhile, I look forward to returning to writing my blog. I have had to let many thoughts pass by without grabbing them because I was focusing on the book. Hopefully, if they were worthy, someone else plucked them and shared them through their art.

Writer’s Cage

I just checked my blog page. My last entry was on January 13. Here is my excuse for not attending to the blog. I was working on a writing project that was not getting done because I kept giving priority to the blog and seldom got around to working on the project. So I reversed my priorities. Work on the project in the wee hours that used to be designated to blogging. Well, it appears that there is just so much writing in me in a day because, as you can see, there were not blogs written. The project was completed yesterday…so here I am again. Excited to be back.

It isn’t that I wasn’t blog inspired. I have notes, ideas scratched on lone pieces of papers or in one of my many notebooks that I carry. I can use these in the days to come, but the passion I felt when I wrote them first is gone. I may wonder why an idea seemed so important at the time I wrote it down.

There is an interesting thing about inspiration. You might think inspiration comes from outer space. It often does. An idea slips into your head from some strange place, unexpected and not always explained by the context.  A writer will write it down if they are smart because I can tell you from experience, it will fly away and be forgotten if it isn’t put in a cage. Paper is the writer’s cage.

I finished writing the piece. I don’t want to share yet what it is, but I can tell you this. Many of the words and stories I share are inspired. Thoughts pop into my mind when I write or ideas that came at other times and written down can be used. But inspiration doesn’t always come from the heavens. Much comes from my life here on earth. The notes I save may be words of wisdom spoken to me in a particular context or stories told to me about someone’s life. It is a true thing about true wisdom. If it is of God, the person who spoke the words won’t remember them or will remember them barely.

When I take note of what people say they are usually taken aback. What a strange practice! I tell them that what they said is so beautiful or meaningful or funny that I don’t want to forget it. I don’t add that what they shared is from God and that their insight may have come from the heavens and channeled to me. I may share their words later, perhaps in a blog along with my reflections, but it could also show up in a story, coming from the mouth of character.

I was at a memorial service a few years ago in which a sister of the diseased shared a story from her youth about her brother building a little house that was smashed by their father after she lied to him about her brother hitting her. It was a powerful story. I used it. The woman will never read my piece but there is a slim chance the father might. I treated it with kindness and honored the wisdom of the father in the situation.

I was thinking that maybe this is how people go on living after they die. Family members will tell stories but few survive for more than a generation or so. Once writing became the norm people didn’t have to work at remembering any more. Besides that, I don’t hear people looking to their ancestors for wisdom to help them live their lives. They seem content to let the world now teach them and the messages they get aren’t necessarily scrutinized.

Thinking of this makes me think that the writer is doing an important work. It feels good to ponder this on a cold but sunny morning in Minnesota.

Well, I am back. This is a good thing. I came to the page thinking I was going to write one thing and wrote something totally different.

Happy Valentines Day!  A friend just called me and told me she is on her way to listen to an inspirational speaker. I said, “That is better than chocolate!”

 

Dear Doctor, if you are listening…

When I went for my annual physical, I lamented a bit to my doctor some of the maladies of the past year, joint pain being the biggest issue. He said, “Stop getting older.” I love my doctor.

I told him I was a little concerned about my mental state. My creativity has taken a vacation, I told him. I can’t write. He asked me what I write. I told him that I am a blogger. He wanted to know what a blog is. I said, “It is kind of like a column in a newspaper.” He told me that he is going to check out my blog as soon as he remembers to do so and he has time and said he’d leave a comment.

No comment yet, but he got me thinking about what I’d want him to come to the day he pulls my blog up on his computer. For sure, I want him to think of me as intelligent, thoughtful, and witty, traits that never come out during a pelvic exam.

As you might guess, I wrote a blog the next day after my exam and the next one after that.

I don’t know if my writer’s block has ended. But he reminded me that envisioning one’s audience can help stir ideas. I have written blogs hoping that certain members of my family would read them or factions of the community. I have written political blogs in reaction to something posted by a friend to either support their point of view or offer another. I have written opinion blogs that I hoped would sway people who were stuck in a particular way of thinking that I thought to be harmful. Sometimes, I look at the number of visitors I have on a particular day and wonder what these folks are thinking. and whether they include members of my target audience.

Thanks, by the way, to any of you who have let me know what you think, whether in agreement or not. When people disagree, it allows an opportunity to say more about some topic and I pride myself in handling controversy in a respectful manner. Peace, after all, is the theme of my blog and making peace has as much to do with how one speaks as it does with what one speaks.

 

 

On the Bias

I have been accused of reading political material or watching news programs that are biased. Of course, those who make the accusations will defend their own sources as being “unbiased.”

I picked up a book of interviews with historian Howard Zinn, The Future of History, by David Marsamian. My husband and I read Zinn’s history of America as we drove around the southwest. Some would say Zinn is biased. He absolutely is and he would be the first to admit it. Zinn speaks about recorded history when he responds to Marsamian’s question about who is in control of history. “We writers are real thieves,” he said. “We see something good and use it, and then if we’re nice we say where we got it. Sometimes we don’t. Orwell (observed) that if you can control history, what people know about it, if you can decide what ‘s in people’s history and what’s left out, you can order their thinking. You can order their values. You can in effect organize their brains by controlling their knowledge. The people who can do that, who can control the past, are people who can control the present.”

Interviewer Marsamian: “You’ve said that objectivity and scholarship in the media and elsewhere is not only ‘harmful and  misleading, it’s not desirable’.”

“I’ve said two things about it,” Zinn said. “One, that it is not possible. Two, it’s not desirable…It’s not possible because all history is a selection out of an infinite number of facts. As soon as you begin to select, you select according to what you think is important. Therefore it is already not objective. It’s already biased in the direction of whatever you, as the selector of this information, think people should know. So it’s really not possible…The worst thing people can claim is to be objective.” Zinn suggests that historians should let people know what their values are so they would understand the slant being presented.

“(Objectivity) is not desirable (either).” We should have history that enhances human values, values of brotherhood, sisterhood, peace, justice and equality. The closest I can get to it is the values enunciated in the Declaration of Independence.” This is Zinn’s bias. I am not sure anyone would own up to the fact that their bias goes in the opposite direction of these values, but in reality, some presentations of history or any media presentation may, indeed, do so. I think that Zinn is suggesting that if you acknowledge your own bias, you can then be more selective and intentional about reporting of facts. One just has to be careful about crossing the line into fiction.

I have a definite bias in all of my writing. The title of this blog states my bias. I hope that I am able to influence the minds and hearts of those who read what I write, moving them more toward tolerance, honesty and peace.