Our Responsibility to Society

map of archetypes

image credit

Don’t let that image fool ya. This post is about our riotous internal lives, not some bone dry realm of abstract psychology.

Even though my highest allegiance is to my Faith, I have studied quite a bit of psychology. I found my most impressive psychologist while I was studying Tarot, Astrology and the I ChingCarl G. Jung.

You can inhale the fragrance of a “Jungian” view of your personality from the site below (this is a simple test but seems to be playing in the right ballpark). Here’s my own result:

INFP – “Questor”. High capacity for caring. Emotional face to the world. High sense of honor derived from internal values. 4.4% of total population.

Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)

Basically, according to Jung and his theories of the unconscious, there’s a whole zoo of characters beyond our innocent faces. And, the Major task of life is to integrate this menagerie into a Self…

In a previous post, I pointed toward an important paper about treating our own internal realm as a “community”, an approach that lets us be kinder and more compassionate toward unregenerate aspects of our Whole Self.

So, what I’ve been trying to approach in this rather rambling post is an attitude toward our own internal self that lets us relate to others authentically. In the highest sense, we can talk about progressive stages of identifying our “self” to larger and more complex levels of “organization”–an ascending spiral of blossoming compassion.

Every imperfect soul is self-centred and thinketh only of his own good. But as his thoughts expand a little he will begin to think of the welfare and comfort of his family. If his ideas still more widen, his concern will be the felicity of his fellow citizens; and if still they widen, he will be thinking of the glory of his land and of his race. But when ideas and views reach the utmost degree of expansion and attain the stage of perfection, then will he be interested in the exaltation of humankind. He will then be the well-wisher of all men and the seeker of the weal and prosperity of all lands. This is indicative of perfection.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 68

The Edge

Ever felt you were on the Edge?

Once, I felt so edgy I wrote a poem about it:

Sharp Choice

On the edge is where I live, and
Edges can be fine. So fine they
Sever wants from acts and leave no
Blood behind.
This edge I’m on comes from the
Depths—a well of yearning
Yawns—and
Severance is the
Price to
Pay for
Grace to
Carry
On…

Edges are generally created when two aspects of ourselves, or we and another (the “other” could be society) are “at odds”; when two forces are misaligned or actively in conflict.

Here’s a reference to a Supreme Edge:

Take thou good heed that ye may all, under the leadership of Him Who is the Source of Divine Guidance, be enabled to direct thy steps aright upon the Bridge, which is sharper than the sword and finer than a hair, so that perchance the things which from the beginning of thy life till the end thou hast performed for the love of God, may not, all at once and unrealized by thyself, be turned to acts not acceptable in the sight of God.

Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 96

Now, to leave you with some psychology:

“Jungians believe that compensation in the service of individuation is the primary transformative function of dreams. Jung (1916a) classifies dreams in three basic categories: reactive, compensatory, and prospective. Reactive dreams simply reproduce an experience that has had a traumatic emotional impact on the psyche. According to Jung, however, most dreams are compensatory. What they compensate is the attitude of the ego in the present. The attitude of the ego is always partial and prejudicial; in the extreme case, it may be utterly defective. Jung defines the ego as identity. That is, the ego is identified with a certain attitude and is disidentified from other, alternative perspectives of which it is, for whatever reason, unconscious. Compensatory dreams challenge the ego to relate to perspectives to which it has previously been unrelated or ineffectively related. The ego may then seriously entertain, evaluate, and either accept or reject these perspectives.”

Adams, M.V. (2000). Compensation in the Service of Individuation—Phenomenological Essen… Psychoanal. Dial., 10:127-142.