Tag: collective unconscious

The Richness of Relationship

Sunburst clouds over ocean

Typically, we think of relationships in terms of our connection to the people we see every day, our friends, our families and ourselves, and perhaps to our immediate environment.

I think relationship goes much deeper than this.

Carl Jung coined the term collective unconscious, which is the idea that we are all connected on an ethereal plane because we share memories from our ancestral and evolutionary past. In this way, we have a relationship with everyone in the world and everyone who came before us.

However, I believe the scope of relationship is even larger than this. Not only are we all connected, but we are also all connected to the things around us.

Think about vegetation for a minute. Plants have an enormous relationship to sustaining life. Yet how often do we think of the relationship of non-human forms as being significant to our lives and well-being? We step on a plant and it dies. But what if you had not stepped on it and it had not died? Perhaps it would have grown into a beautiful peach tree that could have provided sustenance for a hungry person.

I noticed a beautiful Oriole in my yard today. For a moment, I was clearly aware of my relationship to this beautiful bird. I saw its connection to the tree, the sky, and how its song filled the air around me. I wondered how different my life would be if I did not realize that I was in relationship to this Oriole.

It is truly impossible to know the network of interconnectedness that exists and affects all living things. There is simply nothing that is not in relationship to each and every one of us. The secret to seeing the connectivity is a matter of feeling it, allowing ourselves to be aware that we are in relationship to all things.

Here is a short meditation you can practice to expand your awareness of relationship in the world:

  • Take several deep, slow breaths to quiet your mind. Tune in to your environment for a few minutes, while you continue to breathe fully. Notice what you feel and see yourself in relationship with.
  • Now consider what you may have missed. Try widening and narrowing the focus of your senses, and see if your perception changes.
  • Think of how you believe these discoveries affect you and how you affect them. How could you and the things you have relationship to affect others and vice versa? The world?

I would like to end with a quote by Carl Jung that speaks to the power of relationship:

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

Peace, Happiness, You, I, Us…

The elusive desire for happiness often leads to consuming as much as possible. To have the biggest house, not just one but as many as we can afford to buy and furnish. To have the most expensive cars, clothing jewelry. We often think that the more we own, the bigger it is, the more expensive it is, the happier we will be. So why then are so many people, who have all that they thought they wanted unhappy? We thought if only we had one more room on our house or just one more bathroom, everything would be great. If only I earned a little more money? Perhaps if I lived in another city or country?

The void that we as humans feel cannot be filled by ‘things’. As corny as it sounds and it does to some degree sound corny to me, John Lennon, Rumi and many others may have been correct in that love is the answer.

We strive to be the best at everything and pass this down to our children. While pregnant, before our potential children have taken their 1st breath, we are competing for them to be in the best pre-schools. To be the best, to own the most, and still those that do, are not happy. So what are we doing wrong?

Rumi the 13th century poet said: “There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled. You feel it, don’t you?”

The void is part of who we as humans are. What I come across over and over again are people who are in search of meaning. Wishing to understand one’s purpose on earth; to achieve something that will make us think we have fulfilled a purpose. To fill the emptiness of not knowing, not understanding so much about how we came to be here and why, we turn to religions, consuming, gambling, drugs, over-eating; all in an attempt to fill the void of our not ‘knowing’ how to just be. To breathe in and smile with the exhale, to live in a house that serves our needs rather than our ego’s, with an Eco-friendly car.

Allowing ourselves to stop feeling and acting greedy, to live with what we actually need rather than feeding our ego’s and the illusion that we can fill the void by consuming. The void can only be filled with love. By letting go of greed we will and can develop compassion and empathy for others. That homeless person on the street, whom we just drove or walked by; perhaps we can share with him/her a bit of our abundance. To share, to think in terms of the ‘us’ rather than the ‘I’. Carl Jung, speaks of the collective unconscious and many people believe this happens after one dies. I think it can happen while we are alive…it is about the ‘us’. Peace within and without is possible when we fill the void with love.