EMBRACING THE SHADOW REALM LUCIDLY: Building the Capacity to Experience Bliss

“If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”
– Joseph Campbell

Considering Joseph Campbell’s intriguing quote, how might we even begin to discover our bliss? How can we support such a nourishing, ecstatic, and Selfish quest? Our world is so often a busy, mechanistic, fear addicted, survival oriented one. How can we gain access to that ‘field’ of bliss energy in such an environment?

The word ecstasy comes from the Latin ex-stasis, meaning to stand outside oneself. This definition can give us a hint at how we might connect to this field of bliss. Jung’s concepts of synchronicity and the subtle body in alchemy suggest that the mind is field like and that it extends out beyond our brains in a similar way that magnetic fields spread out beyond magnets. If we can become lucidly conscious within this field, we can discern the energy field of bliss and open the doors that will help us build the capacity to experience bliss.

In order to differentiate ourselves from, what Jung calls, “the arsenical malignity of collective thinking,” we need to push through the great natural resistance of the psyche, linked to our identity conditioned by the collective. We can then open the door of self knowledge through inner work, shadow integration and the process of individuation. In being called to approach these tasks of awareness, traumas and the dark shadows generally get our attention first. It is just as important to own the often neglected golden shadows that also lead directly to ecstatic experiences.

There are many ways to build the capacity for bliss including art, meditation, Kundalini yoga, dreams, active imagination, and lucid dreaming. These powerful practices can help us develop the lucidity and fearlessness necessary to be able to unconditionally embrace our shadows both dark and golden. In this way we can achieve “amor fati,” love of our fate. With this self love we can reclaim the energy that would otherwise have gone into repression of our shadows and re-purpose it to build our capacity for primordial infinite energy. Through the doorway of inner work we can incubate an intention to experience ecstasy, joy and bliss. In this way we may meet our inner embodied bliss through the doors that have opened in the outer world.

Building the Capacity to Experience Bliss

 “If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the  doors to you.  I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”              

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life…I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” 

Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth


The goals of experiencing “the rapture of being alive” and entering “the field of your bliss” are often not consciously pursued in life. Following your bliss can be an intimidating process and its paradoxical aspects can bring liberation or enslavement. The field of enslavement, at its worst, is littered with the bodies of opioid addicts on skid row or celebrities that seemed to have everything and yet feel worthless and destroy themselves.  Yet the rewards of seeking the liberating and nourishing energy field of bliss are great. Jung says that to attain this “paradisal state of blissfulness” is, “to possess a treasury of accumulated libido which can constantly stream forth.” –“We must now ask ourselves, whence comes this blissful feeling, this ecstasy of love?”

Ironically the call to follow your bliss often comes when the needs of the body and soul may no longer be met by our career, society, our relationships, or our pleasures.  When the best laid plans go awry or we may be faced with ill health. It may be here, as Campbell says “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”

This course will offer us a chance to examine paths to discover our own unique field of bliss. We will consider how to take on this quest consciously and intentionally. In this way we can discover the energy in our “innermost being” that will illuminate our bliss and avoid enslavement. This may be done by reclaiming and integrating the energy invested in repressing our shadows both dark and golden that have guarded the treasure of bliss.  Once our bliss begins to be revealed “our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality” and the doors to support our path to bliss in the outer world can open.

SHAMING THE DIVINE CHILD: The Life Cycle of Individuation

“But the spirit of the depths teaches me that I am a servant, in fact the servant of a child: This dictum was repugnant to me and I hated it.  But I had to recognize and accept that my soul is a child and that my God in my soul is a child.” -Carl Jung, The Red Book, Liber Novus

Before birth the child lies sleeping, then later, dreaming in the womb; the divine journey of the evolution of consciousness begins. Upon awakening in the chaos at birth, a drama unfolds: the psyche begins to develop the capacity to try to organize these events into dynamic, meaningful patterns. This begins a mobilization of feelings that become focused on the dramatic split between the omnipotent child, who is at once the center of the world, and the vulnerable dependent child, frustrated by chaos, abandonment, and deprivation. This split causes an interruption in the flow of libidinal energy between  inner and outer relationships and induces the first experiences of shame. The wounded child and the divine child exist in each cell of our body and in all psychic movement from birth to death. In this birthing of the alternation of these primal opposites, the life cycle of individuation is generated.

But just as the suffering and shame is present in every cell of our body, so are the seeds of conscious understanding and liberation that link us to our paradisal origins. Jung wrote, “If you marry the ordered to the chaos you produce the divine child, the supreme meaning beyond meaning and meaninglessness.” In tonight’s program, we will examine how the onset of individuation motivates the resolution of this tug of war between omnipotence and vulnerability so that we can become the willing “servant” of our own divine child. Shame can then become a guiding light on the path to release us from captivity.

TRANSFORMING THE DARK DEITY OF TRAUMA A Passionate Path to the Inner Divine

Trauma isn’t just for the unlucky victims in the accident we pass by on the road.   The traumatic impact of death, violence, illness and loneliness is a dark deity in   the heart of our everyday psychological and biological reality. The compelling   fear and darkness of seemingly intractable traumas can become the central theme that patterns and re-patterns our daily lives. In this program we will explore ways to wake the dormant transformational energies within trauma itself.

The enthralling power of this condition can be overwhelming and petrifying. Strong measures are needed to counteract it. Jung advises, ”I would not rest until amid the pain a light appeared to me, for in excessu affectus [in an excess of affect or passion] Nature reverses herself.”

How might we arouse a healing passion that actually encourages nature to reverse herself? In each deep trauma there lies a paradoxical matrix, a flow chart of energy, that if recognized, can awaken our own embodied, unique divinity.


Unconditional Care of the Self: Activating the Immune function of the Psyche, Subtle Body, and Body

” For no one who is one himself needs oneness as a medicine- nor, we might add, does anyone who is unconscious of his dissociation, for a conscious situation of distress is needed in order to activate the archetype of unity. ” – C.G. Jung 

” Our capacities toward relationship and openness to the “other” while still remaining tuned to one’s own true self depend on our psychological immune reactions. ” – Edward C. Whitmont

The immune function, essential for sustaining life in a hostile environment, can be activated through the placement of an antigenic substance, an “inoculum,” into the body that will produce or boost immunity to a specific disease. This process is analogous to the alchemical principle of conscious meeting unconscious, creating the “prima materia,” and integration of the shadow, the central theme of Jung’s work.  Our immunity is interdependent on sleep, nourishment and exercise.  All of these interactions of psyche, matter and movement occur through the transfer of energy and is mediated through what the alchemists call the subtle body.

Emotional induction, a kind of mental contagion, can occur through our interaction with people that we are emotionally close to, in groups or in crowds.  This can result in what Jung called  “psychic infection.” “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”  This transformation can metabolize as nourishing or toxic.

Our deepest primal wounds keep flashing back in recurring patterns in our lives and trigger our reactivity.  They meet us at our most vulnerable and dissociated points, where we have the least immunity.  These repeated prompts could create an opportunity for an inoculation of consciousness, but our shame saturated complexes, our humiliated inner children, our secrets, attacks our self esteem and creates dissociative barriers repellant to ego consciousness.  To further numb and dissociate the pain, the psyche develops compensatory defense mechanisms and addictions.  Integrating these deep traumas into consciousness holds the promise of the greatest transformation. Yet paradoxically, invasive illness and healing are aspects of the same dynamic so there is the risk of self attack through an autoimmune response.  In tonight’s program we will explore this complex paradox.

Jung said “The self is not only the center but also the whole circumference which embraces not only the conscious but also the unconscious psyche.” Unconditional care of the Self allows us to embrace ourselves without prejudice throughout the continuum of conscious to unconscious, psyche to subtle body to material body, penetrating and dissolving dissociative defenses and addictions. This acceptance and benevolence supports the immune function by increasing our resilience and tolerance “for a conscious situation of distress in order to activate the archetype of unity” and  revitalize our lives.