The search of reason ends at the shore of the known; on the immense expanse beyond it only the sense of the ineffable can glide. It alone knows the route to that which is remote from experience and understanding. Neither of them is amphibious: reason cannot go beyond the shore, and the sense of the ineffable is out of place where we measure, where we weigh. Abraham Heschel
The theory of the unconscious was developed by C. G. Jung and has been elaborated on, written about and studied ever since. Jung considered the psyche to be made of 3+ million years of earth peoples’ experiences. Our unconscious seeks our full potential and also transcends us in time and space. It is both of me and 3+ million years of human experience. Indeed. Deep. Mysterious. Not capable to being weighed and measured. Beyond my understanding but pushing me to understand. The world of archetypes arises from the unconscious. I am studying three books at the moment. I am reflecting, feeling, thinking and dreaming in, with and through the collective unconscious. I am trying to stay out of my own way and let ideas “rise” up from within me. It feels like a very slow process … and that is because my ego isn’t all that fussed about viewing from my psyche, from the collective unconscious. Ego likes control. In addition, following Jung, there is the personal unconscious, kind of like the basement of my house where all kinds of things are stored. Some are true treasures and some are pure junk. According to Jung we discard, repress that which is unloved, unwanted and frightening. Often, herein lies our many gifts, discarded because society, via school, community, church and parents, somehow came to be seen as wrong, sinful, immoral, or socially inappropriate. The personal unconscious is the partner of the conscious personality and we can come to know it through dreams. Dreams bring to consciousness that which needs to be looked at, studied and integrated into the personality. Anything rejected in the unconscious turns against us as symbolized in dreams. Some dreams may be stormy, troubled, filled with the ‘enemy’, murderess, and indeed, nightmares. If ignored, as in my case, from early years to the age of 43, we unconsciously live out the archetypal energy in a variety of illnesses both mental and physical. For me, physical symptoms of leg pain, nightmares and generalized constant aching body pain told a story that was not understood in the 1950s, 60s,70s or 80s. Complaining about pain was not particularly acceptable. At least that was the message I internalized. The medical profession is slow to recognize the ineffable. Science, reason, logic. Those are the gods we worship. Pain? Psychosomatic. Neurotic. Abnormal. Whatever. The symbolic language of dreams breaks through in sleep in its attempt to create wholeness. Dreams can help us uncover that which we don’t know, that which we have hidden from ourselves and that which has been experienced by the multitudes of people who came before us. It is stored in the DNA. We are born into the human condition.
According to Jung’s work, dreams are nothing other than what they are. “they do not deceive, they do not lie, they do not distort or disguise.
According to Sharp (1981), dreams are independent and spontaneous, showing us the involuntary psychic action reaching our consciousness just sufficiently that we can, if we choose, remember them in our waking state … did you know you could easily remember your dreams? It is as simple as
- put your dream journal, night light, pencil close at hand where you sleep.
- promise yourself and give yourself permission to “remember” a dream. It may take more than one night!! Be open to remembering a dream.
- when you awake, take a moment to remember … did I dream? If so, draw, write, sketch some bits of detail in your journal. It may be one small image. Whatever it is, a thought, an image, a feeling, a voice, a person. Record the dream in your journal.
- Write the dream in present tense. “I am walking through my mother’s garden. It is about 1961. I am about 15 years old.
- Give the dream a title.
- Date the dream
Next blog will explain some simple ways to work with your dream.
Books I highly recommend. I am currently reading them….one at a time and all at once!
- The Hope: A guide to sacred activism, Andrew Harvey
- C. G. Jung on Nature, Technology & Modern Life, edited by Meredith Sabini
- an Invisible Thread: The true story of an 11-year old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny, Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski