The Sense of a Larger Self

“The psyche, in its deepest reaches, participates in a form of existence beyond space and time and thus partakes of what is inadequately and symbolically described as eternity.” –C.G. Jung

Whenever I study Jung, he conveys a sense of humans containing so many worlds beyond the conscious—indeed, vast seas within. We are creatures of time and eternity, psyche and matter, conscious and unconscious, this and More. A diagram of the human framework developed by Morton Kelsey in his book The Other Side of Silence shows only 10% which is conscious: the ego, five senses, and physical perceptions. We all contain another huge world: encounters with the divine, the messages of dreams, the collective unconscious, a door to the deceased, or what Catholics term “the communion of saints.”   

When it seems mysterious, an image might help: recently, my family drove to Lake Tahoe for a weekend vacation and some skiing. Snug within the van, each of the seven people held an infinite world, and around us, an infinite number of snowflakes fell and infinite number of pine trees towered. It is on that eternal stage that human life evolves. A recent weekend with Don Bisson, a Marist brother who has a doctorate in Jung prompted my study, which will continue with many more books and deeper contemplation.

Humans have always had intuitions of eternity, a felt sense of more than time and space. For instance, a sudden memory can carry us back forty years, or we return to an old neighborhood or sacred place and it fills with the presence of deceased mentors, friends and family who once lived there.

This kind of knowing isn’t the logical, linear kind where the left brain is active. The right-brain language of the soul is intuition, creativity, dream, E.Q. or the ability to read another’s emotional state and the dynamic between us. The 90% of us that is unconscious is open to the holy, to awe and an encounter with the Other greater than the self. The soul expresses itself in the language of creativity: music, poetry, metaphor, symbol, pointing to a reality that can be described only in these ways. We have within an unlimited capacity for joy, love, surrender and affirmation of all things.

In the Christian tradition, Christ unites in peace: or as John Main says in Moment of Christ: “Paul speaks of Christ as having broken down all the barriers symbolized by the dividing wall in the Temple, which separated the outer from the inner court, the outer from the inner reality. In Christ reality is one again.”

We live with a foot in each world—the temporal and the eternal. Jung saw both as real and points to synchronicity and dreams as connectors.

Synchronicity is “a phenomenon where an event in the outside world coincides meaningfully with a psychological state of mind.” These are the almost impossible ways things come together: for example, an image from a dream appears in the environment. Or a friend understands something deep within, which we haven’t verbalized. Or a father dies 20 seconds after his son travels from the other side of the country: “he waited for your coming.”   

The dream is part of our connection with the divine, giving the unconscious a language to reach the conscious. Dreams figure prominently in the nativity narratives, giving both Joseph and the magi clear directions. Jung’s definition of dream: “a spontaneous self-portrayal, in symbolic form, of the actual situation in the unconscious.” What a rich fund of inner knowledge, that we so often ignore.

Indeed, we often live on the surface, experiencing only a fraction of our greater reality. We can be grateful to Jung and others like him, who help us broaden our lens to the deeper sea beneath the superficial waves.

One response to “The Sense of a Larger Self

  1. Thanks Kathy, I appreciate your perspective. I have also learned a lot from Michael Singer The Untethered Soul. Etc.
    Especially about the psyche and Consciousness.
    Hope to connect with you at our 65th!

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