Sunday, January 29, 2012

Norse Myths, Rilke, and Jung's Individuation Process

I was at the gym yesterday morning and I brought along The Norse Myths to keep me company. One of the myths I read was "Lord of the Gallows,"which Odin's telling of what transpired when he hung upside down on the great tree, Yggdrasill, for nine nights. He tells the reader is that the experience brought him 18 different insights. It is the 18th one that captured my attention.

Odin says, "What you and you alone know is always the most potent." I know that this is true. One of the things I routinely tell myself and my clients is that we are always aware of our inner truths. Our bodies are aligned with these truths and we can touch them in an instant if we choose. However, it takes great courage to examine these inner truths and to become familiar with them. And, it takes a stronger, even more courageous heart to live out these truths in the wider world. 

It isn't easy. Yet, it has been my experience that whenever we step out on a journey, allies do appear, even if just in your dreams at first. In life, I believe the unconscious is our greatest ally. It is consistently speaking to us, guiding us, helping us removing the brambles and other obstructions from our ability to flow in life...WITH life. And this is what Jung encouraged -- engagement with life. 

We all want insight into our lives. We want our time here to mean count. We ask, "What is the point of my life? Why am I here?" Sometimes the answers tumble into our minds and bodies in a flash. Other times, we sit and wait through long nights waiting for a dawn we may doubt will ever rise. This is a hard place to be. And if you, dear reader, are there, you are not alone. All of humanity has sat there and will sit there hence forth.

I think Rilke had it right when he said,

"...I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

And this is true engagement with life -- to live everything. If we can sit in that tension between having a question and seeking its answer, we will become aware of everything at once. We will know ourselves and have no more need to ask questions.

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