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Reply To: The Air We Breathe


Oh; Johanna; I love the way you articulate this. In my understanding Joseph illustrates in some of his various lectures; it is like driving a car with a parallax; you are seeing from one side of the road while driving but must also compensate for the other while doing so; as he puts it: (“we must find the middle”); in our interpretations of reality.

In Jungian terminology as with enantiodromia;  it is the adjustment to the other side; eventually finding our psychological center as we come to terms with our ego’s blind spot; our other emotional side. Our ego thinks it’s running the show and doesn’t want to recognize the psyche’s Shadow; that dark side we keep hidden from ourselves with all that painful ugly content buried in what Joseph called: “the landfill” of the personal unconscious; but the “Self as Archetype”; as the total regulating center of the entire psyche; has other plans in it’s desire to evolve and know itself and the “libido” as an agent activates this content to help regulate and balance the flow of psychic energy that has been blocked; (hence a transcendent function is created to break this stalemate); and the tension between these 2 opposing forces; if it can be held; helps to produce a “symbolic 3rd thing” that compensates this tension thereby releasing this energy flow and a new way of looking at things is produced and brought forth thereby enlarging the psyche’s ability for “growth”; which is it’s intent.

Joseph talks about this in several different ways; one of which is when there is an extreme swing to one side this produces an imbalance and so the hero goes forth looking for: “that which is missing” thereby a Quest is initiated. “The Call of the Unlived Life” would be one of these; but there may also be a situation where the Hero is thrown into a situation; (it is not self-initiated); our current Pandemic might be considered as such; it’s totally unexpected but must be dealt with whether alone in it’s isolation or in a group like our society. (Lots of variations of this “Hero theme”); but the challenge is to bring forth the gold of one’s own character in how the challenge is met. Jung tells us: “we are in a constant state of becoming”; and to my way of thinking this translates into: “we are all a work in progress” so to speak; so that the: “transcendent” if we can recognize it informs us.

(As you so elegantly stated):

“For me, humankind has created some of the most beautiful expressions of what this mystery might mean-poetry, fine art, music. Campbell expresses this in his sojourn into the Chartres. It is a sojourn into the mystery that is the transcendent. Poets express using the metaphor-the poet/philosopher Levinas understood this in his ethics of substitution. The metaphor in not the thing-in-itself. Rather it is the thing that points us to the transcendent.

We need not spend our time trapped in the duality we have as humans created. We can experience the full aspect of what it means to be alive. I found that this is profoundly given to us in the film version of Lord of the Rings as the wise man, Gandolph tells Frodo that even Golum [the evil] has a role to play on the grand stage of life.