July 17, 2021,
…active imagination. The latter is a method (devised by myself) of introspection for observing the stream of interior images. One concentrates one’s attention on some impressive but unintelligible dream-image, or on a spontaneous visual impression, and observes the changes taking place in it…. The advantage of this method is that it brings a mass of unconscious material to light. (Jung, 1934/1954/1968, pp. 190 para 319-120)
The image of the foliage of the palos verde tree shows one blossom in focus and other aspects of it in various stages of growth are out of focus. The work of active imagination, as described in the Jung quote above, is to choose something “unintelligible…or spontaneous visual impression” to bring it into focus and engage the response. It is a method to enhance the subtleties of what is clearly seen or bring forth that which is unclear.
One advantage of taking the time to engage subtle dream material, daydreams, etc. is the development of considerations beyond our ego. The idea is to have curiosity about the current relationship and how might it change with further examination. The term Jung used tells me what I am to do, that is, actively imagine. It is engagement with freedom and flexibility to question the current view and what is needed to understand the relationship more fully to what is clear and out of focus. I can have a dialogue with any part of the image to get a greater appreciation of my relationship to it.
Two topics are in the forefront of the news again. Covid numbers are rising again. The political scene is actively examining voter rights and rules. What is your view? Where is your clarity and what is out of focus? How can you engage the external circumstances?
Then, of course, is our personal life. I can examine what is clear as well as what is out of focus/sync. I can learn from what is not clearly in view, yet somehow revealed. The internal and external worlds offer many opportunities for more focus and expansion.
When an image or an event catches our attention, it is never random but rather purposeful. It raises a million questions and infinite possibilities! Let us explore a few. Firstly, what is the symbolic meaning of that particular image? Here, it is foliage or flower – a symbol of the emergence and growth of the Self. So, the observer unconsciously intuits the possibility of some form of psychic emergence and growth of the Self beyond the present scope of personality.
Secondly, it focuses on fully developed and yet to be developed potentials of the Self. Here it is crucial to imagine via active fantasy how and in what manner this image may develop further. Each observer would have their own unique trajectory to amplify this image.
The fact that you are reading this blog today and the subject matter calls you is indicative of the synchronistic dimension of this image; it is meant for your emergence just as much as the authors of the blog. The authors and the readers establish a Participatio Mystique – a shared unconscious space of mutual impact. This is the unconscious bond between mother and child, friends, lovers, therapist and patient and any significant relationship. This phenomenon has many clinical and life implications beyond the scope of this brief communication.
The next step is for each individual to embody the amplified image; by drawing it, dancing it, journaling it, researching it and living it in some real or symbolic manner in next 24 hours and then further in next 7 days. That may help you harvest the fuller impact of the gift of this image. It creates a Uroboros with the image and its instructions. Your honoring the image will acknowledge receipt of the message from your unconscious. Then, it will come out to play and reveal the next installment of the treasures of your unconscious and the blossoming of your soul.
A writer, poet and an artist create a creative product from personal unconscious as well as the collective unconscious. Jung calls this the psychological and the visionary dimension of the creative process(Jung, 1966). The psychological dimension of the artist is of relevance to the artist alone. The visionary dimension is for the world. The collective unconscious uses the artist as a portal to communicate a collective message for the society: it must attend to it with the same diligence, respect and protocol as an individual. That is transformative to the society’s emergence into its higher potential. Thus, this image is a message for the collective: we must explore what is not yet in focus but needs attention. The pandemic and the human rights issue are in need of focus and attention. Our survival may depend on it.
Points to Ponder:
- What aspect of your life is out of focus?
- What would happen if you began to get clarity of that aspect?
- What is revealed and what remains mysterious in your dream life?
- How does the pandemic and political situation influence your daily life?
- What calls you about this image?
- How does this image evolve in your imagination?
- How do you honor the image?
- What interventions do you plan to make in the next 24 hours to honor the image?
- What do you plan to do in the next 7 days to harvest the instructions of the image?
- If you were to draw, photograph or choose a piece of art, movie, song that depicts the present pandemic and human rights, voting rights, climate change and other challenges in our society – what will it be?
- How would you want to modify that image or art?
- What is your fantasy about how the present global crisis will change you personally and change your family, community, nation and our world?
- What role do you think, feel, intuit and plan to take to respond personally?
- Do you wait for things to change, or do you plan to be the CHANGE?
Jung, C. G. (1934/1954/1968). The archetypes and the collective unconscious (2d ed. Vol. 9). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Jung, C. G. (1966). The spirit in man, art, and literature, Volume 15 (Vol. 20). New York: Pantheon Books., para 141
Ashok Bedi, M.D., Jungian Psychoanalyst,
Robert BJ Jakala PH.D., Jungian Psychotherapist
In a storm, the safest place is in the eye of the storm. My colleague BJ and I will share our daily reflections on this centering process from an Analytical perspective, sharing from the repertoire of our personal and professional experience. BJ is a psychologist and a photographer and will pick an image of the day that catches him in this collective crisis. I will amplify it from a Jungian Analytical perspective. We hope that this may offer you a baby step on the path to your own unique response to this chaos.
© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH. D