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Lions Roar : May 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2010 87 Here is a passage in which he is being lectured by one of his vision figures: The heroic in you is the fact that you are ruled by the thought that this or that is good, that this or that performance is in- dispensable, this or that cause is objectionable, this or that pleasure should be ruthlessly repressed at all costs. Conse- quently you sin against incapacity. But incapacity exists. No one should deny it, find fault with it, or shout it down. This sense of the irreducible power in what is most humble was an important principle in Jung’s later work, when he turned to the tradition of alchemy as a metaphor for the smelting that goes on in human transformation. The humble was the dark, primary material of the inner work, as it was in the Taoist sources of Zen. Chuang Tzu said, “The Tao is in the ant, in the potsherd, in the shit and the piss.” Jung’s work does touch me at a level deeper than the cognitive force of whatever he is saying. He doesn’t impress as a particularly good writer. Freud was a good writer—he won the Goethe prize for literature. But I read Jung because I have a feel for his creative conflicts, which seem universal. You can tell he took the journey himself and you go on it with him. That is how he is like a good Buddhist teacher. Jung’s ideas that there is the image of a man in a woman’s psyche, and of a woman in a man’s psyche, and that the path through one’s own depths might mean embracing what you think of as your opposite, are now widespread in our culture. He talks with a convict: Mustn’t it be a peculiarly beautiful feeling to hit bottom in reality at least once, where there is no going down further, but only upward beckons...? One of the disadvantages of dream figures is that they can, in daylight, seem so overdone, more exaggerated than opera. It is their complex quality that makes Jung’s imaginary figures plausible. They are not necessarily cheering Jung on and they say interesting and surprising things. I remember thinking that understanding koans would make me more fearless and tougher, and I found it actually made me more emotional and, ultimately, more empathic. I remember at that time I was also very inter- ested in working with dreams, and I had a figure of a woman ap- pear, a kind of muse whose head was half turned away from me. I thought, “Well, I’ll have a shot at what Jung did. It would be nice to talk with the muse.” So I spoke to her. No response. “Probably I’m just not good at this,” I thought. But I took another shot: “Why won’t you speak to me?’ I asked the muse. It seemed to me like a huge effort at communication. The response was immediate, unequivocal, and loud, “You never listen.” I had to admit that she was right. I just wanted her to perform when I wanted to write; I didn’t listen. This is another example of how, if you enter a relationship with your own invol- untary process, something self-correcting might come into play. It’s not a rational path, but then neither are the Mahayana or the Buddha and the Yogis:Vajra Yoga April 15–18 • Richard Freeman, John Campbell and Robert Thurman Clean Detox Retreat June 17–20 • Dr. Alejandro Junger Jivamukti Yoga Vacation June 25–27 • Sharon Gannon, David Life and Dechen Thurman Hiking in the Catskills July 2–4 • Robert Thurman Healing Chod Retreat July 16–18 • Rigdzin Dorje Rinpoche Integrating Buddhism and Psychotherapy August 13–15 • Mark Epstein and Robert Thurman Catskill Mountains Phoenicia, New York www.menla.org & www.tibethouse.org For more information or to register, please visit www.menla.org • 845.688.6897 Facility also available for rentals Menla Mountain RetRe at spRing/suMMeR 2010 A Practice for the Mind: Master of Arts in Eastern Classics at St. John’s College Accepting applications for fall 2010 www.stjohnscollege.edu/GI/EC/EC.shtml 505-984-6083 EXPAND your practice by reading classical texts from India, China, and Japan. JOIN lifelong learners in engaged discussions of original texts. STUDY either Sanskrit or Classical Chinese. EXPERIENCE conversation as a challenging and fulfilling practice for the spirit.