Sansaku: Things Get Strange
Because words are question beggars, I need to expand on my word choice. I probably shouldn’t have used the word soul. Jung tried to warn me. I know why he used a more technical language.
Jung joked that while everyone seems to know we have complexes, very few realize it’s the complex that has us. And since we resist turning around and facing them, they usually have us by the ass or some other tender part in the psyche.
What I called soul choices are not only those complexes we carry into the world when we’re born, but the ones we inherit from our family, our culture, our times. They show up as personality traits and reaction patterns. It’s like karma or existential conflict, and comes at us like fate. What we choose to do with fate is the soul’s destiny.
With the re-discovery of the lucid dream, the concept of what it means to be awake or asleep resurfaced. How do we know if we’re dreaming or awake? And if we don’t know we’re sleeping, why would we try to wake up? We don’t know what we don’t know.
Many of the same criteria that apply to lucidity in dreams apply to consciousness in general. It’s about the ability to discern the subjective inner reality from the objective outer one, and not to mistake what’s me for you. Good luck with that.
Betrand Russell wrote, “If modern physics is to be believed, these dreams we call waking perceptions have as little resemblance to objective reality as the fantastic dreams of sleep.”
Chuang Tzu dreamt he was a butterfly and then he woke up. He had to ask himself, “How do I know I’m not a butterfly dreaming I’m a man?”
It’s a good question. Surely there must be a difference.
In Sanskrit, the root to the word buddha is “budh,” and denotes the state of being awake. It also suggests we realize and know this. But how do we really know if we’re awake? Ask a lover after the fall.
I remember doing a counseling session with my girlfriend. We were having all kinds of trouble and the therapist asked her a very simple question. “Does he feel like your mother?” I just about fell over. I’d been thinking the very same thing myself. Talk about a wake-up.
If that were true, who in the hell did I think she was? The answer to that question was sobering. It also woke me up.
Freud, of course, pioneered this level of insight and it makes up one of the many levels of awakening. He watched, again and again, how people chose others for unconscious reasons and never woke up to the fact. When they did, it helped to repair their relationship with reality.
Jung took that insight and ran with it. He could see we had the family drama alive and well in the unconscious, but there was something else in there and it pointed in a different direction. If we could wake up in the outer reality, why couldn’t we make the inner one more conscious?
One of the ways he related to this reality was through active imagination. He related to the inner world as if it were real and when he did, the inner world responded. He discovered his complexes were autonomous and had personalities all of their own. He began to journal his dialogues and journeys.
But then something else happened. There was a synchronistic link between the inner and the outer. What he did on the inside had consequences in the outer world. Things got very strange.