Living in a world of symbolism

“From the dawn of humanity we have lived in a world of symbolism. Our symbols explain the world around us, our relationships with each other and our relationship to the universe. These symbols, these essences of pure being, are the primordial qualities of the truly real.”

(From Carl G. Jung: “Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious“)

The first sentence in the above article is thought-provoking – “From the dawn of humanity we have lived in a world of symbolism”. I think that is why there are so many myths, folklore and traditions through human history. The totems in Native American Indian culture and hand paintings in Australian Aboriginal culture came to mind, among many other examples in the world. Perhaps the universe itself is designed in such a way that we humans find meaning in symbolism in the various elements of existence such as trees, stars, father, mother, child, etc, without which life itself may become bland, sterile and somwhat meaningless.

I think Jung’s theory of personality that involves three levels of consciousness (ego, shadow/personal unconscious and collective unconscious) helps us understand our complex human nature that is spiritual as well, since it can be said that we are spirit, soul and body. I suppose there may be other theories, such as the new age concept of true self and false self (or Christ and Adam) which was adopted by Richard Rohr in his latest book “The Immortal Diamond” which sits well with me too.

My understanding of the collective unconscious (aka the third level of consciousness according to Jung psychology) is that it refers to our highest self or universal consciousness, which unites all humanity, since the article notes that “The collective unconscious according to Jung is an inborn instinct which all of humanity shares.” I agree this is an inborn or innate quality we all share. This may be represented by “the Great Man” or “the Self” that each of us needs to awaken to in order to remain in a state of oneness (as concluded in the article).

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.

Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”

Carl Gustav Jung

Carl Jung
Carl Jung (Photo credit: o admirador secreto)

So, perhaps the spiritual goal of human existence is to practise a continual awareness and appreciation of our true identity, and the symbols and archetypes suggested by Carl Jung (and other psychologists/mystics) are meant to serve as signposts or aids or tools to guide us through the evolution of our consciousness, since everything is consciousness. It could be that the more we are conscious of our own consciousness (or in Jung’s term “collective unconscious”), the more we are able to see through the illusion of materialism/material world/3D world (based on the five senses), and make wise decisions on how to stay at peace in the midst of chaos, and how to relate to ourselves and others with wisdom, understanding and compassion, showing empathy and equanimity.

It is also interesting to learn about other archetypes in the article, such as the anima and animus (yin and yang or feminine and masculine). I agree these archetypes can be seen in every culture across time and space, such as the Great Mother as referring to the germinator of the seed of life (as well as nurturance and providence). Incidentally, I came across a spiritual/inspirational music video on Mother Divine recently, as shown below.

I also like what the article said about the inner child in us that symbolises our innocence and belovedness. Perhaps it can be typified by archetypes such as Christ, Buddha nature, and so on.

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