Consciousness and Jung


No one should take up meditation unless they are prepared to deal with the consequences and nobody warns you before you start what is likely to happen. At least, no-one warned me. You sit in the quiet and get the chattering machine to be still for a while. Sometimes you succeed, admittedly not as often as you'd like to be able to boast about in a blog post, but sometimes. And sometimes is often enough, especially when you are diligent about getting in some practice every day over a lengthy period of time. Every time the stillness comes, unknown to you, a small drill starts and a tiny well is sunk down into the dark bits of your mind: the bits that lie forty fathoms deep beneath the moving, shallow surface. And when there is enough of the tiny wells, the flow from them becomes steady and continues even in the parts of your day when you are not meditating. Especially in the parts of the day when you are not meditating. Life changes happen. Old issues are raised. Light is cast into previously dark and dank corners. Connections are made and (far more importantly) other connections are severed. There is the sound of creaking and groaning as the rusted wheels start to turn and you are aware of movement. Something big and good stirs and your whole self shifts.

Much of what is going on for me is not stuff I would share except with a very few people, and much of it I would not be capable of sharing anyway, because it is so hard to put it into words. Putting it into words is important, because it's only when you can name it and describe it, at least to yourself, that your new learnings become conscious; that is, become part of who you are and how you live your life on a daily basis. Having a good friend or two who can listen and encourage you to articulate what is going on is important, but failing that, good books can help. I've been reading a good book lately, one given to me by my old friend Alden. It is a collection of Jung's writings on the world and on nature, and part way through a description of a trip to Africa. Jung describes a moment he had sitting on top of a mountain and watching huge herds of animals graze on the plains beneath him. He talks about the magnificent spectacle which has gone on for millennia and about the fact that for most of the time there has been no one to observe it: that is, no one to be conscious of it; that is, the happening has been unconscious. And being unconscious is, for all intents and purposes, the same as the events not occuring at all. He talks about the role of consciousness in creation: that in being conscious of the world we acknowledge what is there; we give it an objective reality which it otherwise would not have had. He speaks of consciousness as part of the process of creation, and that in being conscious of the universe we become, in a sense, co-creators of the universe.

Now I'm sure I have not done Jung justice here, neither the effect his words had on me. For he voiced something I have been dimly aware of for years;a description of which I have been trying to feel my way towards for a long long time. In meditation I had been wrestling, in both practice and content, with this puzzling issue of consciousness and what it meant. And here in a couple of paragraphs C G Jung articulated it perfectly. I'm grateful for the way that the events of my inner life spilled out into the outer world: in the chance happenstance of reading the book at the same time I was asking the questions, at Alden selecting that book some months ago and me deferring the reading of it until the most strategically appropriate time. But that synchronicity is just one small example of the sort of thing that has been happening on a fairly regular basis since I started sitting around doing nothing. So let me warn you. Don't meditate. At least not if you like sitting comfortably where you are. Not if you don't want those rock solid foundation stones that have stood you in such good stead for so long dynamited.

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