The Body and Individuation: Physical Healing and Awareness

” Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. . . . If it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected and is liable to burst forth suddenly in a moment of unawareness. ”                 -C.G. Jung

” Blood is the liquid spirit of life, the seat of the soul; one signs a contract with the devil with blood. . . . You see, the spirit in the blood is of course the unconscious spirit: wherever the spirit is in the blood the unconscious begins to stir. ” -C.G. Jung

Jung realized that “individuation cannot occur without the body.” The longer the blacker and denser manifestations of the shadow are denied, the greater the chance that the denseness may evolve into physical disease. How can we become more conscious of our contracts with the devil in terms of our blood, our defenses, self-destructive lifestyles, and self-medications that become part of our negative conditioning and identity? We can become over identified with our blood, our genes, our race, our culture to the extent we are ready to go to war.

The Internet, drugs, and food products are often designed for consumption with the built-in intention that the more that consumers remain unconscious of their own self-destruction, the greater the profit. As a result, the task of becoming self- aware is becoming increasingly difficult. Unfortunately wellbeing is not addictive and so many self-destructive behaviors and substances are. Learning how to dissolve this conditioning of the body can help us discover our inner teacher. If we can ask what the ultimate meaningful purpose of these blockages are, at any stage of their development, we can create a great opportunity for transformation and reclaiming energy for individuation.

In this course we will examine the essential role of the body as “mandala of the divine” and how the “will of the soul” is mirrored in the “will” of the body in the individuation process. As Jung put it, “If man does this consciously and intentionally, he avoids all the unhappy consequences of repressed individuation.”

We will dialogue about the consequences of repressed individuation of the body, which can wake us up to the necessity of physical healing, boosting the immune system for both the body and the psyche, and ultimately lead us to self-realization. We will consider recent developments in neuroscience and cancer and spontaneous remissions, as well as examine concepts such as the somatic unconscious and the subtle body, in order to gain greater insight into healing and the prevention of disease. We will look at methods of inner work and the use of integrative medicine for healing, using our own body as an experimental alchemical laboratory so that we can forearm ourselves or deal with a disease that does occur in a way that brings us to consciousness.

Active Imagination, Dream Yoga and Sleep Yoga: Paths to Individuation, Liberation and Enlightenment

” My aim is to bring about a psychic state in which my patient begins to experiment with his own nature- a state of fluidity, change, and growth where nothing is fixed and hopelessly petrified. ” – C.G.  Jung: The Aims of Psychotherapy

” I must not sleep like a beast, but cherish the experiential cultivation which mingles sleep with realization. ” – Padmasambhava: Natural Liberation, 8th century

Active imagination, dream yoga, and sleep yoga, are powerful transformative practices that can bring about the experimental psychic state that was Jung’s goal. Jung said about individuation that: “If man does this consciously and intentionally, he avoids all the unhappy consequences of repressed individuation.  In other words, if he voluntarily takes on the burden of completeness on himself he need not find it “happening” to him against his will in a negative form.”  This counsel can be applied to liberation and enlightenment, the goals of the Tibetan Buddhist practices of dream and sleep yoga.  Each of these practices can create value out of our suffering and yield productive growth and not repeated negative patterns of unconscious suffering where we are “hopelessly petrified.”

Active imagination is a meditational practice Jung developed where one’s waking consciousness enters into a dialogue, through one’s imagination, with different parts of one’s self that are rooted in the unconscious in order to explore the unknown other for self-realization.  Dream yoga promotes the use of lucid dreaming, where waking consciousness reawakes into the dream to interact with the dream environment.  This lucidity is mirrored in the ability to recognize the dream like quality of daily life.  Lucidity in dreams can demonstrate the illusory quality of fears and reactivity and can be understood as a way of building psychic immunity to our own conditioned mind.  Lucidity in the dream, potentially leads to lucidity in deep (non REM) sleep where it is possible to experience, liberation from “samsara,” our karmic delusions, and ultimately attain the “clear light.” This, in a sense, 24 hour and beyond, mindfulness practice is intended to penetrate the states of waking, meditating, dreaming, deep sleep, death and the bardo, and is aimed at “abiding in non-dual awareness,” the primordial, unconditioned state of mind.

One need not be able to attain lucidity in dreams or deep sleep in order to find benefits.  Developing lucidity in our waking life helps us to turn inward to reconnect with ourselves in spite of  the increasingly addictive distractions of daily life that can numb us into passivity in our pursuit of self-realization.  Lucid dreaming themes increasingly appear in our culture, in movies, and the rapidly evolving digitally enhanced virtual reality technologies.  In this course we will explore these practices in light of Jung’s alchemical psychology and Tibetan Buddhist perspectives on liberation, the obstacles and cautions, and the personal and collective implications in our modern world.

Exploring the Paradox of Individuation and Enlightenment: Through Active Imagination, Dream Yoga, and Sleep Yoga

” We may say that the essential nature of the mind is like space, because both are empty, but mind is aware while space is not. ”                                                                                                -Milarepa, 11th century

” But if the God moves into the self, he snatches us from what is outside us. We arrive at singleness in ourselves. ”  -C.G. Jung, The Redbook

” To die, to sleep; To sleep, Perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub, For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come . . .”  -William Shakespeare

In Jung’s own quest for individuation, he studied the teachings of self-realization in Taoism, Tantric Yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism, leading him to insights critical to unlocking the secrets of the goal of Western alchemy, the coniunctio, the union of opposites. These concepts were at the heart of his psychology, yet Jung, paradoxically, had deep reservations about Westerners taking on the pursuit of Oriental enlightenment. Jung writes: “He (the seeker of nirdvandva) wishes to free himself from nature; in keeping with this aim, he seeks in meditation the condition of imagelessness and emptiness. I on the other hand, wish to persist in the state of lively contemplation of nature and of the psychic images.”

“Lively contemplation” is an apt description of active imagination, one of Jung’s most powerful tools for individuation, which evolved from his self-experiment, his “confrontation with the unconscious,” and culminated in the revelations and visionary paintings of the Red Book. Active imagination, a practice wherein one’s waking consciousness enters into a dialogue with different parts of one’s self rooted in the unconscious, was described in an essay in 1916 but not published until 1958. The Redbook, begun in 1914, remained a “secret doctrine,” until it was deemed ripe for publications by his heirs in 2009.

Similarly, many Tibetan writings were kept hidden. “The Secret Visions of the 5th Dalai Lama,” begun in 1674, remained concealed from the public until 1987. It recounts in words and colorful illustrations the inner mystical life of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama as well as relating teachings he received in visions from the long dead guru Padmasambhava. Padmasambhava’s 8th- century teachings on dream yoga had been secreted in a rock capsule until they were unearthed six hundred years later. Tibetan dream and sleep yoga, only recently taught openly in the west, promotes the use of lucid dreaming, where waking consciousness reawakens into the dream to interact with the illusory dream environment as a preparation for experiencing death and the bardo. Lucidity in the daily life leads to lucidity in the dream, and potentially leads to lucidity in deep (non REM) sleep in order to abide in “non-dual awareness,” the primordial, unconditioned state of mind and ultimately enlightenment.

In tonight’s program we will look at the paradoxical concepts of individuation and enlightenment at the intersection of active imagination, dream yoga, and sleep yoga in light of the historic genesis and evolution of these practices and their value in modern psychotherapy. This paradox could bring Hamlet’s question to mind; “to be or not to be.” For Jung the answer might be “to be” with awareness, then might the Buddhist answer be: “not to be,” with awareness?