Archive for November 24th, 2013

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“The world used to be, in its various forms, a world of sacred, shining things. The shining things now seem far away.”

Dreyfus and Kelly (2011)

Recently I gave a presentation on finding meaning in our current world. The talk wove together ideas from Carl Jung and Martin Heidegger and considered how our sense of being and meaning evolved through Western history. Starting with the ancient Greeks and their view of the cosmos (universal order) up to our post-modern world of fragmentation and little meaning. We now live in world where it is easy to slip into meaninglessness. Few believe in any absolutes with tremendous cost to our psyche. In an interview near the end of his life, Jung stated that, “man cannot stand a meaningless life.” Meaning provides us with some sense of order within our lived-world. It informs and guides us, especially in difficult times. The result of such meaninglessness is a sense that something is missing in life, a richness or depth to life seems far from our reach.

One source for my talk is a book by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly called, All Things Shining. Dreyfus is a professor of philosophy at UC Berkeley and an expert on Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. Kelly is the chair of the philosophy department at Harvard and an expert on phenomenology. The book is based on their classes combining philosophy and literature. I heartily recommend this book for any of you who love literature and are seeking deeper meaning in life. Ultimately, Dreyfus and Kelly argue for a way of living that they call meta-poietic, in which we experience the shining sacred nature of the things in life. From a Jungian perspective, this is a way of life that allows us to bring a particular form of consciousness to our everyday experiences, a consciousness that sees into the interiority and value of the things in the world. This is a consciousness that opens us to seeing the archetypal forces at play in psyche and opens us to the synchronicities constantly occurring in our lives. Heidegger called such consciousness, “meditative thinking,” which opens us to the mystery of the world.

We have not lost our ability to see the shining nature of the world. We can overcome the forces that constantly pull us away from this way of seeing and experiencing, forces that create dullness in the world. Dreyfus and Kelly argue that by living the meta-poeitic life, we “live a life attuned to the shining things and so will have opened a place to which all gods may return,” clearly, words that resonate with Jung’s life work. Finally, let me also recommend the film Being-in-the-World, which explores the ideas of Dreyfus and many of his colleagues through the lives of living crafts people. You will not be disappointed by what you see.

May we all see the shining things of the world this week!

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