Carl Jung : archetypes as spiritual patterns : alchemy and spirituality
A book excerpt from the spiritandflesh.com religion and spirituality online library.
Whereas Jung uses the word 'archetype' as a temporary function of the self (i.e. hero, virgin, mother, etc.) and considers it as a bridge between the unconscious and the conscious, I use the word to denote the 'archetypical' spirit, connecting heaven to earth, into which each person is born and in which they are destined to live out the entirety of their incarnation. In this sense my use of it is more similar to Plato's Forms.
Although no symbol nor metaphor can ever describe the spirit- for the spirit exists beyond such limiting explanations, I might say that an alternative way of understanding the archetypes, or, the infrastructure of the spirit, is to see each 'archetype' as a branch on the tree of life, and each 'type' as a twig on that branch; that is, the 'types' are the individual 'selves' and the archetypes are the limbs of the 'Self', which is the whole tree.
That a certain twig will always be only what it is, is essential; for if all twigs wanted to be the same type of twig at the same place on the tree, there would only be one twig and the tree would die.
Differences exist so as to complete the whole, that is why we cannot escape the 'spirit archetype' into which we are born, for it is an emanation from heaven to which the 'type' belongs, just as a creature belongs to its species for its whole life.
The necessity of this structure is not necessarily limiting, however, as each individual may choose not only to express the full range of possibilities available to the spiritual archetype- and the possibilities, though confined within the archetypical parameters, are infinite, so that no single human life could accommodate even a fraction of them- but the individual 'type', can also extend the current range of possibilities of the archetype to which he or she belongs, thus, for a moment, reversing the cosmic flow, by altering what normally precipitates from the heavens down into form; this is accomplished by spiritualizing the flesh and mirroring it back to heaven. "As above, so below", declared Hermes Trismegistus.
This last event- the reversal of cosmic dispensation- can only happen once the 'type' has become whole and has become fully conscious and the spirit and flesh have become one.
Thus, though it is most often more profitable for the soul to tune-into and follow that which descends from heaven, this is not a categorical rule, and, in fact, once the spirit is fully in place in the flesh, the individual has a more intimate vantage point, so to speak, within the microcosmic realm, than either the spirit or flesh have on their own, and therefore in a sense a 'whole' person must 'be' as perfectly as they can, even if this implies, and often it does, going outside of the boundaries of the norm. This is how the individual progresses the universe from the bottom on up, so to speak.
I say, therefore, that Jung's term 'individuation' applies when the 'type' has become conscious and self-determined enough to not be simply a puppet to the archetype, and therefore the individuated 'type' creates a new Form which is set into heaven and therefore precipitates in to, and modifies, earth; that is, the 'type' has become eternal, and not just ephemeral, and will, from that moment on, be included in the eternal aspect of the universe; which is another way of saying that an individual is now a fixed component of the cosmos- a part of the hidden projector which produces the visible show.
There is much responsibility in this, however, for the greatest danger lies in the individual foolhardily following their ignorant ego's whims, instead of listening for spiritual guidance from above, and thus, instead of perfecting their spirits and then advancing the whole, they merely exist in a prideful, imperfect state.
A profane way of describing this is to say that someone who does not come to understand who they are and what the parameters and possibilities are in regard to accomplishing their highest destiny in life may, on the ego's whim, become a mediocre physician instead of a valuable statesman, or, instead of being a loving mother and excellent piano teacher, they might become an unemployed academic; what has happened is that they have become what their ego desired them to be, and have not become the perfected essence of their true being. The roads are many, but not all of them lead home.
The ways in which we express or repress the spirit which we carry into life are infinite, although there are always certain limitations which we are best to become aware of so as to use those talents to which we have been entrusted to our own and the world's greatest benefit, as much as possible.
It is enough to say that the permutations for anyone's life are limitless and it is only up to each individual to listen to their own heart and dreams so as to choose their highest calling.
I have come across quite a few different 'types' within archetypes, which I have identified in the past, and, although these individuals carry the same blueprint within, they have chosen to express, or repress it, in different ways, coming to live in different rooms in the same castle, so to speak. Another way of understanding the distinctions is to think of 'archetypes' as letters in the alphabet, 'types' as fonts, and the alphabet as a whole, being the number of archetypes available in the cosmos, although I expect in the universal lexicon there are many more than a mere twenty-six.
Examples of types and archetypes within my range of experience include: two men I know- one whom I grew up with, and one whom I met later in life- both who carried identical spirits which tended, among other things, to be what I would call 'rebellious eccentrics'. One of them became a criminal, the other a truculent hermit, but these were merely expressions on the continuum of options which their spirit had available while operating in the earthly drama.
As well, four women I have met all carried the exact same spirit within, which I can best describe as 'free-thinking, earth wanderers', and expressed their essence in different ways. The first had lived out the essential aspect of her nature when she was young and then attempted, as firmly as possible, to repress it and live a very conventional life. The second had done similarly early in life, and then had sort of hybridized her spirit to society, still being a free wanderer occasionally, but also using her disposition to modify certain business practices of the company in which she was working- making them more 'earthy', so to speak. The third woman had maintained the core of her essence, when I met her, and was very much a freethinking earth wanderer, despite having had two children. The last was more of a pure manifestation of the essence, flowing in life as a traveler and benevolent gypsy woman, so to speak. (Notice I used the word 'pure', and not 'perfect' here, for purity is what comes when all the dross is extracted from gold, whereas perfection comes when that gold is formed into the ideal of the craftsman. An individual with a 'pure' essence may be far from perfected.)
This example of the four women I met, containing exactly the same spirit, suggests that the form in which our life takes can be open-ended, even if we follow as completely as possible the call of our inner, true being.
The last example of 'types' I will offer is of two men I know who look almost identical- as the 'types' of the archetypes sometimes do, and similar appearances often betray such archetypical closeness- and both are what I would call 'valiant, hero types'. One of them became a dope grower and yet, despite operating outside of the world's laws, maintained a high level of integrity, honesty, and dependability. The second ran a non-profit bikeshop and was also a high-integrity, honest individual. Each of the men were solid, dependable, trustworthy individuals.
Once again, however, I add the disclaimer that the description of the outward lives of these individuals does not really point to the inner 'spiritual archetype' to which they belong. All definitions and descriptions fail, for the inherent, archetypical spirit can only be witnessed when one looks at others from the soft aspect of the eye (that which sees the whole and not the part), and abandons all preconceived notions about what life is or is not.
After having written this endnote, I came across a quote which refers similarly to what I am attempting to convey. It runs: "Each man is a part of the Creator, or Cosmic Man; he has a heavenly body as well as one on earth. The human eye sees the physical form, but the inner eye penetrates more profoundly, even to the universal pattern of which each man is an integral and individual part." (Sri Yukteswar, quoted in Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda, p272)
In fact, what I have found is that the eternal archetypes of the cosmos float down from the sublime projector and get received and broadcast in our movies and shows- themselves only outward symbols of the Great Show- and the dramas are also acted out on the many stages of the world's tragic comedies, played out in the 'real' lives and journeys of real souls.
In fact, we call our cele-brities 'stars' because they are the overt manifestations of the cele-stial goings on (our media is the planetary reflection of the cosmic medium); but the same movements, relationships, acts, and scripts used in the media, also operate in certain groups of 'ordinary' people, at certain times, as individuals walk, albeit unknowingly, through a scene pertaining to their stage of cosmic growth.
I know, for example, of four people who were enacting, on the profane level, the quaternity of the four main characters in Star Wars: Princess Leah, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca. One of them was even called Chewbacca for a time prior to their meeting, and the other three were similar in actions and appearance to the other characters. There was even a Yoda-like character in actions, appearance, and lifestyle in the swampy woods associated with it all.
Often, if my own life was involved in a drama similar to one which had been picked up from the ether and used in a movie, I would have a dream of myself as the specific actor portraying the event in the movie which I was experiencing in 'reality', as it were. It is therefore not strange to me also that one of the male actors whom I admired as a young boy is now the partner of a woman who belongs to the same archetype as my partner at this time.
We are magnetically drawn together like this. There is less will in our day-to-day affairs than we think.
I have witnessed, as another example, two coupleships occur, in different areas of the country, years apart, in which I had recognized absolute similarities in the appearance and archetypes of the males, and similar ones in the females, and the couples, who never met each other, were drawn to their similar partnerships out of 'love', so we say. But perhaps the real reason is that these couples were pieces of the puzzle that could not avoid being placed together. Such types of 'blueprinted' cosmic affinities happen everywhere, and this realization betrays a type of redundancy which, if humbly understood, would make people accept that they are far less unique than they think; separate, yes, but not unique.
In order to understand and to feel the limitlessness of the spirit, it is essential for the individual to stop identifying him or herself as the twig; and that means the person must become the essence itself, the sap, which flows throughout the whole tree as the Self inherent within all selves. This is the mercurial nature of the finished soul.
In this way one begins to widen the range of the archetype into which they were born, and then to expand and encompass other archetypes; the boundaries soften, consciousness expands, the self becomes its own community, and the soul becomes a living part of the living One; the individual now contains the entire collection of archetypes within their single twig, for the twig is still the self, but the Self is in the sap.
And yet liberation does not come from denying the twig, but, rather, by being the best twig possible, so as to increase the health of the entire organism, while at the same time de-identifying oneself with form- the twig- and becoming the sap, the essence, which exists everywhere (this idea will be expanded upon in the endnote on the marriage of the East and West). It is a matter of becoming less self-conscious, and more Self-conscious.
The Tree of Life is blossoming all over the world, in all communities, as individuals attempt to grow an entire set of twigs, so as to contain the whole Tree; the macrocosm within the microcosm.
What happens is that the individual 'self' flows out of the twig, into the branch, down the branch and into the trunk, and down the trunk until it gets to the center, where the earth and the roots begin. It is here where all archetypes exist, intermingle, and consummate, and, upon arrival, the individual becomes an open nexus through which the true sap- the aqua vitea, or living spirit, can flow throughout the complete Being.
What I am describing is the outcome of a process in which the little self is whittled down to nothing, so that the greater Self may see; the moment you lose yourself as such, you become like a vacuum into which God cannot help but inexorably be sucked.
When you become a living nexus in the sleeping whole, marvellous things tend to happen around you, without you even intending them: couples will meet for the very first time, people will remember important dreams which they had forgotten, realisations will appear out of nowhere, solutions will manifest, problems will arise that cast light on a person's character, and all souls will take refuge within a consciousness which is not limited by their own; all this simply because you are both the hard and the soft aspects of the tree, the static and dynamic, the flesh and the spirit, the part and the whole. So many hidden things going on that the common man will never recognize, nor understand, nor perhaps even care about, and yet this substratum of spirit is in everything, and is everything.
(excerpted from In and Of: memoirs of a mystic journey, by Jack Haas)