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Posts Tagged ‘soul’

Listening to the Beatles

Sgt Peppers cover

 

“… the anima is the archetype of life itself.”

C.G. Jung (CW 9i, par. 66)

Last week I talked about the animate power of the Beatles’ music. Their songs sing themselves through our lives. So, let’s continue our exploration of soul by listening to their music. The Beatles were aware of Jung’s writings for if you look at the cover of the Sgt. Peppers album, you see Jung’s picture between those of W.C. Fields and Edgar Alan Poe! Perhaps the Beatles were avid Jungians for many of the photos on this album cover are of people who strongly affected them.

As I mentioned in my last post, the Beatles’ music follows Jung’s description of anima development. Anima is the feminine archetype within us representing soul. The important role of the feminine in the Beatles’ music is no accident (are there accidents?). Both John and Paul lost their mothers at an early age. Jung points out that the earliest anima form within us arises from the mother image. So the loss of ones’ mother often leads to a strong yearning for a connection to the lost feminine.

The first stage of anima development is the biological drive of blind love. Close your eyes now and reflect back on your youth. Imagine sitting in school (elementary, middle or high?) and bring before you the image of that special one, boy or girl, with whom you fell in love. Remember that feeling of first love the dreamy state of walking on air. The image of that person still lives within you for we never forget our first love. Listen to this Beatles’ song and remember back to that moment:

Ask Me Why

The second stage of anima development is about maturing relationships. We are no longer fearfully falling into blind lascivious love, but beginning to recognize the other person for who they are, not for who we want them to be. This realization requires us to pull back the projections we have been placing onto the person. This moment of seeing the other as an individual is an eye-opening experience. The moment when we wake up one morning, look at our beloved and ask, “Where did my true love go?” Our initial inclination may be to run away and find a new someone to project onto. Listen to this Beatles’ song reflecting the second stage of soul development:

I’m Looking Through You

The third anima stage is one of spiritual mediation. For Jung, the anima connects us (our ego) with our inner Self, the archetype of wholeness. When this connection occurs, we experience the numinous. Sometimes this experience occurs in dreams. Paul composed a couple songs from his dreams like the melody of Yesterday. Yesterday is the second most covered song (a song played by other artists) in the history of music, while the first place most covered song is Eleanor Rigby. The universal appeal of these songs to other artists is yet another indication of how the Beatles’ music is archetypal. Paul composed the song Let It Be from a dream of his mother, Mary. Here is his song representing the spiritual mediation stage:

Let It Be

The fourth and final stage of anima development is one of transcendence. Jung (CW 16, par.361) says this stage, “illustrates something which unexpectedly goes beyond the almost unsurpassable… ,” in which the anima represents an expanding spiritual state that includes the universe. Spiritual transcendence was a central theme of the sixties. Eastern religions flooded into the West to meet this yearning for transcendence and the Beatles played a critical role in opening the doors to the East. Their travels to India to visit Maharishi Mahesh Yogi raised interest in the power of meditation. The Beatles’ experiences with LSD led the sixties generation into a new psychic space of expanded consciousness. Listen to this song written by John representing the fourth stage of transcendent non-ego experience:

Tomorrow Never Knows

india

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Being Connected

interconnectedness

“In reality, our psyche spreads far beyond the confines of the conscious mind, as was apparently known long ago to the old alchemists who said that the soul was for the greater part outside the body.”

C.G. Jung (CW 11, par. 389)

This season has brought home how interconnected we are to one another. We have been immersed in tragedies from the senseless slaying of innocent children to worldwide wars and terrible assaults on individuals. Tragedy brings us together. For in the midst of suffering we recognize the fragility and unpredictable nature of our lives, which evokes within us a sense of solidarity. The Greeks recognized the importance of collectively experiencing a ‘suffering with,’ which is the meaning of compassion. They developed the tragedy play to foster the communal healing of collective suffering.

I believe this feeling of being connected to one another is THE one true thing that offers us hope. How does this connection take place? Jung’s statement above expresses the natural ability of psyche (or soul) to extend beyond the bounds of our physical bodies. He often pointed out that the awareness of our interconnectedness was something many wisdom traditions believed in and put into daily practice. Today more than ever we need to recognize this essential aspect of our being-in-the-world.

Psychologically, this sense of being connected occurs on both conscious and unconscious levels. In our present outward directed world, we tend to focus solely on the conscious pathways to connect with another. However, unconscious pathways can be far more effective for interconnectedness. For example, the existence of the collective unconscious creates a powerful way in which we sense not just a single person, but the many. Jung (CW 7, par. 275) states that, “… the unconscious produces contents which are valid not only for the person concerned, but for others as well, in fact for a great many people and possibly for all.” So, by connecting to the unconscious, we create a transformative bridge to all. History presents us with examples of rapid, large-scale social transformation, which proves that this kind of unconscious connectedness is available to us.

As we enter a new year, I hope we deepen our awareness of how connected we really are with one another. Experiencing interconnectedness is actually a way to prevent tragedies. For rather than waiting for tragedies to awaken us to our connectedness, we could choose to open up and feel the heart and soul of others before our seeming separation leads to yet another tragedy.

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Esalen Workshop

Hello,

This is just a reminder about my upcoming workshop at Esalen in early June. For more information, please click here Sustaining Earth  to read more about the workshop. We will use a number of approaches to develop deeper ways to experience our surrounding world in a more soulful way.

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