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Archive for December 10th, 2010

Imagine a New Way…

“… every good idea and all creative work are the offspring of the imagination… The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.”

C.G. Jung (CW 6, par. 93)

We have tended to gravitate towards a particular way of looking at our world. Collectively it is a way that emphasizes concrete facts over speculation. We feel more comfortable if we have something we sense is real and right before our eyes. Society also tends to trust reason over feeling. These preferred tendencies in the way we perceive the world evolved over centuries with the culmination being the Age of the Enlightenment. Is there anything wrong with using reason and the five senses to perceive the world? Of course not, they are very important aspects of our way to understand the world in which we live. Jung found that we have, in general, four different ways we perceive and interact with the world around us. I have already mentioned two of these: thinking and sensing, which are the dominant means of perceiving for modern society. According to Jung, the remaining two ways of perceiving the world are through feeling and intuition. Here feeling does not specifically mean emotional reaction. Feeling has more to do with perceiving the inherent value of something in the world. It is a valuing function, rather than an emotional function. Intuition is that special sense we often experience about something that is going to happen, or that has happened but is not visibly present to us. It is often said that intuition is the way that allows us to “see around corners.” Intuition manifests in our lives as “hunches” or “flashes of insight.” Intuition is a powerful and fruitful process for those working in creative or inventive fields, e.g. the arts and sciences.

Jung pointed out problems arise when we neglect some functions in favor of only one. This one-sided approach to living in the world inevitably leads to trouble. We are limited in how we relate to others and to the world as a whole. One-sidedness leads to miscommunication and misunderstanding. A soulful way of relating to the world involves all four ways: feeling, thinking, intuition and sensation. We cannot bring all of these ways into one experience. What is important is that we are consciously aware that we have access to each these. In a specific moment we can access the most appropriate way of relating to the world. Jung pointed out that we are born with an innate tendency to one way of relating. This is our natural way we react to the world. Some of us tend to work from the thinking function, others feeling, etc. The Jungian process enables us to attain more ready access to the various functions. We learn that thinkers can feel, and that feelers can think! You can begin to see how important this is to relating to one another. For as we begin to appreciate other ways of relating, we can experience deeper connections between each other.

How does Jung’s typology model (for that is what we have been looking at) help us understanding our relationship to Nature? Engaging Nature through only thinking and the senses leads to a limited experience of our environment. We objectify Nature and begin to look upon it as a resource. If we are going to transform our relationship to Nature, then we will need to bring more feeling and intuition into our way of experiencing the world. Imagination is a process that is rooted in all four of the ways of relating, but specifically in intuition and feeling. Our play of imagination becomes excited around things we value. Intuition is that function that allows us to see beyond the present into the future. It is a function that is not bound to the concrete. According to Jung, if we lack imagination we are cut off from creativity. Can you imagine a world that does not rely on fossil fuels? Can you imagine a world where we use feeling as much as thinking to make our decisions about the environment? Can you imagine experiencing your world in new and exciting ways?

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