Individuation and Yoga: Carl Gustav Jung and Mircea Eliade
Individuation is one of the core concepts Carl Gustav Jung. At the beginning of the essay "Man and his Symbols," he presented the concept of the unconscious, with its personal and collective structures and the ways in which it manifests in symbols. Once we have recognised the profound meaning of the symbols of the unconscious, the problem of their interpretation still remains.
Individua (Latin) means undivided, individuare (Italian) means to identify; finding your own "undivided identity" could be the meaning of "Individuation". It is only through this "undivided identity" that we are able to hear and correctly interpret the messages of our soul.
Dreams can be an important example of this phenomenon. Since night after night our dreams produce new scenes and images, many dreamers might tend to overlook this large-scale pattern; but when we interpret our dreams over a long period of time, we see that many themes appear repeatedly, then disappear and reappear again. In fact, many people dream frequently about the same figures, landscapes, and situations and these pass through a gradual process of change. Moreover, this process of change can be considerably accelerated by effective interpretation of the dreams.
Nevertheless, identity cannot be based only on the 'realisation of my personality in the world'. That would be too narrow and would go past the meaning that C.G. Jung has assigned to this term.
Related to the task of uniting the divided inner reality, as well as classifying and interpreting the manifestations of the unconscious, is a much more important inner transformation of needs. This has to be seen as a process through which every single individual should go, if they are to achieve inner freedom and a satisfying life. Many disorders of mental balance can be seen as failed attempts to complete this process successfully.
As long as the necessary stages of individualisation are projected, rather than realised internally, whereby the psychic energy could be delivered to life-affirming developmental stages, there remains a risk of mental illness. All archetypal processes have a positive and negative pole. The quality of ego-maturity, of the imprinting processes that originate in childhood, the inner defence mechanisms, as well as the dynamics of the projections unconsciously chosen by an individual, all influence one's position in this archetypal continuum.
The first lecture will attempt to shed light into some such life-determining processes that situate a person within these two poles. People have known for ages how difficult and challenging this task of inner realisation is. Texts such as the Secret of the Golden Flower, a Chinese text over 2.500 years old, the Bhagavadgita, an Indian Sanskrit text, the Ten Commandments, the Psalms, or the Bible, are traditionally interpreted as problematising difficulties that can easily divert a person from the path of individuation.
In different ways, they laid down ethical and moral principles for an individual to navigate through this path. With time, they have morphed into a set of prescriptions the disregard of which it is often believed can lead to a negative development of the individuation process. It is also the task of these texts to serve as a warning against the painful detours one can take, or to recognise and to classify them properly, if they have already been taken. The mental yoga exercises, described in the book by Mircea Eliade, could also be seen as a precondition for a spiritual individuation process that confronts and overcomes obstacles in this pursuit.
During the second lecture, the focus will be on the Eliade's text, "Yoga, Immortality, and Freedom," and on its connection with the individuation process.
About the lecturer:
Wolfgang Heine is a Jungian analyst at Stillpoint Spaces Berlin and master of science in psychotherapy.
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