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Archive for January 16th, 2011

Seeing Deeply

“My aim is to bring about a psychic state in which my patient begins to experiment with his own nature – a state of fluidity, change, and growth where nothing is eternally fixed and hopelessly petrified.”

C.G. Jung (CW 16, par. 99)

A significant part of analytic work is to reach a point where we can experiment with ways of being fluid and more accepting of change. Jung stresses over and over in his writings that we must experience life. Jungian work is not an intellectual exercise, we must constantly and playfully experiment and experience both our conscious and unconscious worlds.

I am motivated to write on experiencing the world after reading these words of the German philosopher Heidegger, “the basic mood of astonishment necessitates the pure recognition of the extraordinariness of the ordinary.” I have also been stimulated by Jeremy Hayward’s book Sacred World, in which he speaks of “first thought.” “First thought” is the ability to experience the world without adding past conditioning to what we see. Both Heidegger’s and Hayward’s words remind me how important it is to be open to seeing the world in a different way. Jung’s statement indicates that an important goal of our work is becoming more fluid in experiencing the world. We are to strive for a psychic state where “nothing is externally fixed and hopelessly petrified.” Basically, we are asked to receive the invitation to experience the world with both fascination and astonishment.

Can we begin to see the “extraordinariness of the ordinary?” I believe any one of us can open ourselves to seeing the wonder in the seemingly mundane. There is nothing supernatural about becoming receptive to experiencing our world in this deeper way. We have momentary experiences of seeing deeply into the world surrounding us. Seeing deeply is something that we can develop. It begins by attempting to see things as they are, rather than as we judge or preconceive them. Our experiences of this world are shaded by preconceptions, past relations, and imposed concepts. We grow up accumulating preconceptions of our experiences. How and what we value is strongly influenced by past conditioning, and perhaps even more so, by current social mores.

Seeing deeply means shedding as much conditioning – past and present – as possible. When this happens, we bring fluidity into life and rigidity drops away.  When this happens, we truly see how extraordinary our ordinary lived world is and are filled with the fascination and astonishment of our everyday world.

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