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"Together the patient and I address ourselves to the 2,000,000-year-old-man that is in all of us… in the last analysis; most of our problems come from losing contact with our instincts, with the age-old unforgotten wisdom stored up in us." CG Jung Speaking, p 89, (McGuire and Hull) Princeton University Press

Jung In A Nutshell - Unfolding of Soul
Once upon a time... while talking with a close friend, I mentioned I’d been studying the insightful depth psychology of Dr. Carl G. Jung for many years.

I then went on and on and on, bending my friend's ear as to how Jung’s theories on the growth of “soul” and/or “psyche” had left a deep and lasting impression on my life.

Finally, my long-suffering friend with a freshly bent ear asked: “So what does Jung’s school of psychology teach?”

What resulted from this innocent enough question was one of those awkward panicked moments where one longs for the luxury of a NFL Football instant replay, the second time around providing the “picture perfect” answer.

Heraclitus Lends A Hand
The truth is… whenever folks have asked me this question, I typically, predictably rely upon a “tried-and-true” crutch. I briefly stutter and stammer, and then finally mumble something about how I wish I could explain Jung’s ideas, but it’s all so complex that there’s no simple way to answer.

Here’s exactly what I wish I’d had the presence of mind to tell her:
“The soul is its own source of unfolding.”
Sounds deceptively simple, doesn’t it? “The soul is its own source of unfolding.” It’s a quote attributed to the 5th century BCE presocratic Greek sage, Heraclitus.

Not Blank Slates
For the past 30 or more years, it’s been the “politically correct” stance that we are all tabula rasa or “blank slates” at birth. Boys are taught to be boys, and girls are taught to be girls.

However, what Dr. Carl G. Jung rediscovered is something that the sages of our world, such as Heraclitus, have always known. At birth, our sense of “who we are” and/or our individual personalities are “anything but a tabula rasa."
Jung: "We are born at a given moment in a given place and like vintage years of wine we have the qualities of the year and of the season in which we are born. Astrology does not lay claim to anything else."

Sure… Jung’s insight on this may appear to be a “no-brainer.” Almost any mother of a newborn infant will be quick to inform you that her baby began displaying his/her own unique personality traits and/or temperament from the very beginning. However, psychologists have been battling over the various “nature (inheritance) vs. nurture (environment)” personality theories for as long as there’s been a thing called “psychology.”

The Unfolding Of The Soul - Seed and Soil
Jung discovered that – resembling the physical body – the human psyche (soul) is purposeful, and the psyche acts as a self-regulating system with checks and balances designed to develop and then maintain a sense of psychological health and wholeness.

At birth the human psyche contains the “seed” and potentiality of future personality growth and development. Over the course of a lifetime, our “seed” naturally unfolds and/or develops according to it's potential in a purposeful manner.

Today, Jung would likely be classified as an interactionalist – meaning that the development and growth of the human personality is a combination of inherited genetic potentials (the seed) and environment (the soil).

Jung: "So far as the personality is still potential, it can be called transcendent, and so far as it is unconscious, it is indistinguishable from all those things that carry its projections...[that is,] symbols of the outside world and the cosmic symbols. These form the psychological basis for the conception of man as a macrocosm through the astrological components of his character."

First Half Of The Journey
As infants, children, and then youth “growing up” – we go through the process of developing and establishing a sense of separate “ego identity.” From our seed of potential, we develop a solid sense of “I.”

We develop a stable sense of “who we are in the world.” As a part of this natural growth process, we immediately begin discovering through our environment (parents, siblings, friends, school, church, society, and culture) that we have certain natural ways of thinking and acting that are not "socially acceptable."

To one degree or another, we each discover – in order to survive and thrive – that we must stuff many of our socially unacceptable behaviors and thoughts down below the surface. We hide our errant thoughts and behaviors far, far away and down into a hidden psychic basement.

If all goes relatively well, the formation of our adult ego identity (and the stuffing of our psychic basement) is typically complete by about the age 30. In many cultures throughout the world (past and present), one is still considered a “youth,” until the ages of 30-35.

Second Half Of The Journey
Then, around the age of 35, we slowly begin experiencing a subtle, but nagging sense of restlessness and unease. By now, our psychic basements, that Jung called “the shadow,” are stuffed pretty full and the contents of our neglected basements are now starting to demand a wee bit of our attention.

If we continue ignoring the pleas of our psychic basements – then, our basements have a tendency to get musty and nasty.

So then, between the ages of 35-45, we typically experience what’s called the “midlife crisis.” Symptoms of the midlife crisis are that we have grown tired, listless, and restless. We wonder if “this” is all that life is about.

If all goes well (and that's a big if) during our midlife crisis, we then spend the rest of our lives on a new journey of “growing down” and reclaiming all the valuable stuff that we’d previously hidden away in the deepest part of our psychic basements.

Jung: "When the king grows old and needs renewing, a kind of planetary bath is instituted - a bath into which all the planets pour their 'influences.' This expresses the idea that the 'dominant,' grown feeble with age, needs the support and influence of those subsidiary lights to fortify and renew it." from the "Mysterium Coniuntionis" CW 14, C.G. Jung

Yep! “The soul is its own source of unfolding.” It really is simple, you know.

Also from Heraclitus: "You will not find the boundaries of soul by traveling in any direction, so deep is the measure of it."
Elsewhere on the Internet: Soul Life: An Interview with Thomas Moore, PhD

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