Phoenix Collective
Published in

Phoenix Collective

Unlocking Imaginal Religion — Part 5: Resurrecting The God-Image

Stepping into the play of infinite possibility

The Tree of Life, Victoria Armstrong
Kathleen Ballard
The Holy Pentecost (the day the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, causing them to speak in tongues).
Augustus Knapp
Vajrapani (Tibetan Buddhist Deity Of Spiritual Ferocity)
The Mi’raj (Muhammad’s night journey)

“God has no religion” — M.K. Gandhi

“How can we live without the Gods, without the symbols of the divine realm that transcends us, saves us, encompasses us?“ — Carl Jung

When any perception can be related to as an image, then any perception can be taken as living symbol – or revelation – of the universal holy mystery. This leads us to the prime concept of the God-image, which originates with Carl Jung. We’re now going to explore how all the groundwork we’ve done in this series can help us to approach, understand and ultimately creatively relate to this kind of image in ways that can open the heart and set us free.

Without a conscious relation to a God-image, the ego cannot fulfil its function of allowing God (the whole) to know itself through the consciousness of a mortal ego. Instead we remain trapped, ruled by unconscious and diabolical God-images: symbols of fragmentation and separation that dominate our psychic life.

The problem we find ourselves in is exactly this: our God-images are unconscious – long ago discarded and left for dead by our athiesm, materialism and nihilism. But they are immensely powerful, touching and colouring every aspect of our self, world and psychic life. This realisation is the starting point for the work – and play – of Resurrecting the God-image.

We start again at our lifelong reference point: the body.

By dropping into the body, we drop into the soul: that dimension of psyche that operates in full awareness of the divinity of everything, including itself. In other words, the part of us that lives with God, in God, or even as God.

It is in this mode of awareness, or “sensing with soul”, that images of divinity arise. Through an image one may sense that one is perceiving or encountering God— or a face or aspect of God, or really any other sacred figure, such as spirit, angel, or deity. This phenomenon is known as theophany and can be understood as a revelation of a living God-image.

“The ancients saw the God-image in humanity not as a mere imprint but as an active force. The God-image imprinted on the soul is an image of an image, implanted in humanity as a means or possibility of becoming like God” – Jung, Aion

Few people seem to understand the God-image better than Paul Levy, who writes:

Seen symbolically, outer phenomena such as the enlightenment of the Buddha and the life of Christ are seen to be reflections of a mystical process of awakening that is occurring in the depths of consciousness itself, a process which has to do with the birth and the revelation of the true Self in all of us.

The Self is continually revealing its mystery in symbolic code hidden in plain sight, woven into the fabric of our waking dream, i.e., life, whether these self-secret clues be found in experiences such as the cosmic passion play of Christ, in synchronicities, dreams and visions, in the ordinary events of our daily lives, or in the patterns of global events. To quote Jung, “The real history of the world seems to be the progressive incarnation of the deity.”

The underlying, archetypal motifs which repeat themselves in endless variations as the dramas of history are themselves living, embodied revelations of the ever-evolving God-image.”

Incredible, no? What an astounding and radical development in humanity’s conception of God. And we might note that the thing that makes the insights of the whole above quote possible is captured in its first two words: “seen symbolically”. This is the process at the heart of imaginal religious life and comes to form a core thread of one’s personal practice and inquiry. (The other thread is seeing non-symbolically, or opening up our perception of emptiness — but more on this later).

With sufficient guidance and perseverance, our practice — be it prayer, meditation, movement or artistic creation — becomes a playground of experimentation with the possibilities for perception.

As the range of possible perceptions opens up — as we learn to see symbolically, to sense with soul — we may soon find ourselves coming into contact with our own utterly unique God-image(s). These aren’t just images that have a sense or flavour of divinity to them, but images that seem express or embody a full-blown revelation of God’s universal presence and nature — a mystical love, consciousness or spirit that lives in, through and as everything. And again: we can relate to this God not as a truth but as an image – and most likely one which will impress deeply on our souls and open our hearts in radically new ways.

A God-image has the potential to unravel the reification of the separate self (i.e. the belief that “I exist”) and deliver us into the imaginal realm of theophanic perception — where everything is seen (or sensed) symbolically. This limitless imaginative freedom awaits us all, if only we can apply ourselves to the task of digging deep into psyche’s fertile soil — in search of the gems and crystal waters that dwell there…

Jung’s Kusnacht House

“Summoned or not, the God is present” was inscribed above the door of Jung’s house in Kusnacht.

Whether we like it or not, whether we are conscious of it or not, our God-image is constantly shaping our experience of life. It is a prime psychic factor in generating our very perception of self, others, and the world. Indeed Jung writes that the God-image is the “highest value and supreme dominant in the psychic hierarchy”. It determines the nature and quality of all perception. It’s that powerful (it is God, after all).

This is why it’s so important for us to realise that we are all already ruled by our God-images. We already serve a host of Gods, even if we deny it and run from them in terror. Increasing our awareness of this dynamic allows us to enter into it consciously, creatively and compassionately — to rise up as the friends, lovers and artists of a friendly, loving and artistic God — no longer submissive and despairing slaves to a brutal and power-hungry Lord.

In other words: your God-image is as alive as you are — and you are only ever as alive as your God-image!

In Levy’s words, the God-image is “a living symbol that points beyond itself. Not a concoction of the conceptual mind but an autonomous, self-produced phenomenon that is not invented by the intellect but rather, experienced. It is not a static entity but a living, dynamically evolving process which is the core archetype and supreme symbol of the collective unconscious. It is the collective unconscious’ projection of itself, representing the Self as well as the individuation process”

Note that Self with a capital-S as used by Jung signifies the totality of both conscious and unconscious contents in a person (which is of course potentially infinite), and thus refers to the psyche as a whole.

The central dot represents the Ego whereas the Self — or God — can be said to consist of the whole with the centred dot.

Thus the Self-image is essentially and practically indistinguishable from the God-image. So discovering and integrating our God-image is the exact same process as discovering and integrating the collective unconscious (a.k.a “the shadow”) — and vice versa. Only now we realise that the God-image is kind of like a golden key or centre-stone that unlocks the mysteries of the collective unconscious in a rapid and revelatory cascade, precisely because it symbolically reflects or captures the unified wholeness of the Self / collective unconscious, in a way that transcends all apparent opposites (such as good and evil).

“The God-image expresses our conception of and relation to God, while at the same time being the image through which God (i.e. the Self) is revealing itself to us. It is the intersection point through which the divine and human imagination reciprocally inform each other.

The God-image is the expression of the unconscious of humanity, while simultaneously being God’s disclosure of Itself to us.”

We see that our reciprocal relation to a God-image —i.e. to the Self, to the psyche as a whole — is the dynamic which generates all perception, including our perception of self, i.e. our actual appearance in the world, and the appearance of the world itself! This dynamic therefore determines the nature of all experience: whether we experience wholeness and unity or fragementation and separation.

In Richard Rohr’s words, “you become the God you worship”. So if your God is dead, absent and worthless — or is cruel, punitive and even malicious — well, then, what do you think happens to your sense of self, and your sense of the cosmos?

The Tree of Life, painting by Temi

Isn’t it clear why we are so uneasy, believing that we are somehow struggling against the people around us, against the cosmos, against the abyss of nothingness — against life itself? Against ourselves?

We are struggling against a God-image whose apparent neglect and cruelty – or plain non-existence – has cast a shadow on all existence. The old-Testament God-image of the Father, defined by his Power, Judgement and Wrath is alive and rampant in the modern (collective) unconscious!

How different might this situation be if our image of God (the universal holy mystery in which we all participate) — and therfore ourselves — was fundamentally good, compassionate and loving? Then there would be nothing to do but play, rest, rejoice, and with infinite patience support others in coming to the same realisation…

The Trail of Images

If we can contact the soul’s longing for universal love, for the welfare, freedom and flourishing of all beings, we may well find that this longing is reflected or captured in an image, a symbol, a fantasy or imaginal figure. It could be an image of oneself, a holy other (prophet, tree, artist, child), or of the cosmos itself (as the body of a universal spirit, for example). These images will likely have a sense of divinity, holiness, or sacredness to them — even if we don’t have a clear idea of what those words mean. And that doesn’t matter at all, because it’s the sense of divinity, and how that reveals itself through our images and symbols, that we are following as our primary guide. We’re learning what divinity means to us. We’re not allowing ourselves to be bound by other people’s definitions and concepts, but rather allowing ourselves to be guided by a soulful and heartfelt intuition (which may then inform our skilful and liberative use of definitions, concepts and intellectual frameworks).

Practicing with these images, opening to their transformative effects, developing a sense of devotion, dedication, service, reverence and worship towards them — all this will result in a liberation of the self, and actually a colouring of all perception.

It is as if we are undergoing a process of soul initiation, approaching the point where all perception becomes — or is revealed as — imaginal or symbolic perception. The esoteric (hidden and invisible) meaning behind all exoteric (visible) appearances is laid bare — the organ of this revelation is the active imagination.

“Soul wants self, other and world to become image”

– Rob Burbea

And an encounter with one’s God-image can make this happen in the deepest possible way: by revealing the totality of self, other and world as image… as imaginal, unfathomable and divine. As faces or facets of God.

Again from the Koran: “wheresoever you turn, there is the face of God”. This is how Soul longs to see and experience this human life fraught with suffering, beauty and joy: as theophany, as Beauty incarnate, as revelation of the divine and holy mystery.

We can actually open to experiencing ourselves, our friends, our hometown, our native landscapes and cosmos as God: unfolding, suffering, striving and blossoming. Inseparable and indistinguishable from the unfolding, suffering, striving and blossoming of our own soul.

Perhaps more precisely, we can experience all of these things and beings as God-images. This precision helps us to not get caught in reification, literalism, or definition of a God who must remain undefinable, inexpressible and incomprehensible, if they are to be worthy of the name God.

This allows us to go on opening to God without ever limiting or defining God. God remains indefinable and transcendent, yet also immanent, encounter-able and communicable-with through living symbols and images.

We leave behind the fixed and rigid God-images of the past and tend towards a God-image which is limitless, ever-open, ever-unfolding, ever-revealing Herself ad infinitum through each and every moment of perception. How different is that from traditional religions who say “The Final Truth is that God is X — and is definitely not Y!”.

By the imaginal view, God — and ourselves — are ultimately undefinable: not X, not Y, not both X and Y, and not neither X or Y! This unravelling and negation of all logical possibilities frees our conception of God and ourselves entirely from the restrictions of the conceptual mind.

The eternal transformation of the God-image is identical to the eternal transformation of the Self-image (or psyche); this is an insight which liberates the ego, revealing it to be a finite aspect of the infinite psyche. This infinitude is the cosmological and perceptual context which allowed prophets such as Christ to share a message of eternal resurrection. Or in other words, eternal transformation. Life is revealed anew as a divine imaginal play of infinite possibility. The dream of God. The dream of Us.

“We are not all going to die, but we will all be changed” — The Apostle Paul

Erin Hanson

Working and Playing with Images

Okay — big words. Let’s get a bit more tangible and practical. How do we work with all this?

Helpfully, Rob Burbea lists that working with images in meditation will have a noticeable effect on:

  1. The energy body (i.e. the whole body sensed/experienced as a subtle energy field)
  2. The emotional body
  3. The sense of self, other and world/cosmos.

Let’s take an example. I may have a mental image of a majestic and ancient oak tree, which I intuitively sense as a living being with a divinity and intelligence all of its own. Tuning into this image in meditation, I may sense an openness, brightness or lightness in my body — perhaps I sit more upright, pulled upwards by a sense of the tree’s inherent dignity; I may be emotionally touched by its beauty; and I may have an altered sense of self — for example, as being held and protected by the love of the tree. This sense of protection may alter my sense of the world around me — as if it’s all held in the love of tree, even the people and objects around me. This tree-image has become a living imaginal figure with a direct and tangible influence on my life in the direction of more love, more beauty, and more freedom in the range of possible perceptions. It brings a deepening of the sense of soul, or soulfulness, as Burbea calls it.

It’s instructive to ask here: is it really “me” doing this — or is the spirit of this tree breaking through into my awareness, as a guide and friend and teacher? If we open to the latter as a possibility, then we open to the divine guidance that is on offer to us.

Through images and symbols we encounter and communicate with the immaterial divine realms and the beings/daimons/angels/Gods who dwell there.

We may work with a very large — actually infinite — range of images. The only limits to this range are those that we place — out of delusion, fear, illwill, or greed — on the free-play of the Imagination (which itself is unlimited). When we realise that the limits too are imagined, we become empowered to deconstruct them — and therefore reconstruct and re-imagine them to allow even greater freedom, beauty, and soulfulness!

Now of all the images or imaginal figures that we come into contact with, most transformative of all will be our God-image: the image with the strongest influence “not only on the human soul but also on the collective consciousness of a culture” (Jung).

We cannot plan or schedule this encounter; the images will come to us.

“The God-image is not something invented, it is an experience that comes upon us spontaneously — as anyone can see for themselves unless they are blinded by theories or prejudices.” — Jung, Aion

Transformative Effects of the God-image

God-images are symbols for wholeness — for the totality, the inter-connectedness and mystical divinity of everything, without exception.

God-images can therefore be experienced as symbols for — and thus revelations of — a universal unconditional love, a cosmic mind or living presence in everything. But that’s only going to happen if the God-image is authentically a symbol for wholeness, and does not in some way imply a fundamental fragmentation or separation to the world/self/psyche (in the way that Yahweh, the warrior-chief-like Old-testament God, does, for example, by being startlingly above and aloof from humanity’s suffering).

The age-old key to wholeness is of course — surprise surprise — love.

A loving God-image creates a loving person — and a loving person participates in the creation of a loving God. We become open to this active participation in the life of God when we realise that there is no fixed and final word on what God is, or what image or symbol or figure best reflects God’s nature. Therefore we each contribute to the transformation of the God-image (that is, the transformation of the collective unconscious, the infinite unknown which we cannot see but can sense, viscerally, with an open heart and quiet mind).

We each come to our own revelation. And each revelation is held and absorbed by the collective, transpersonal psyche — a.k.a the unconscious, a.k.a God. As we are transformed by encounter with our God-image(s), our transformed nature ripples outwards to affect all beings — alive, dead and transcendent.

The God-image and the ego (or self-image) co-arise, co-evolve and are eternally reciprocally in-forming one another.

Basically, we each have an idea of God’s true nature (in other words, the nature of everything, of the entire bloody mystery) and this idea will be reflected in an image — or set of images — that we can unearth if we dig deep enough into our psyche. Dredging our God-images out of the waters of unconscious and into the open air of consciousness, these images can be transformed, updated and evolved to better express the wholeness of the psyche (for until this point there are contents of psyche that we have encountered through life experience, such as great love, or great violence, which we have not yet integrated into our God-image).

Through our imaginal explorations, encounters and interactions with these images we are interfacing with the unknown, the unconscious, the unknowable and incomprehensible nature of God (the Infinite Mystery). In doing so we may viscerally sense how our neglected God-image is colouring and shaping our perception of ourselves and the cosmos. For many in the postmodern world, this may be something akin to a cruel, cold and amoral Nothingness-God; a Void that is intent on destroying and desecrating everything we love and care about, including ourselves. We need to find that image and come to terms with it, before questioning and working with it. As we do this our unfolding life experience, combined with an increasingly refined embodied sensitivity to psyche’s fantasy images and their transformative effects on perception, will cause new God-images — new symbols of transcendent divine wholeness — to arise. These offer the possibility for evolution and transformation of the God-image in the direction of a richer, more beautiful and more loving God — and in turn, a more loving self, planet and cosmos.

We realise that a God(-image) who includes more and more suffering does so out of compassion and solidarity with that suffering; precisely because God (a.k.a Love, a.k.a all living beings) yearn for that suffering to be brought to the light of conscious understanding, so that its causes can be removed and its traumas healed and integrated. Again we encounter a possible fundamental function of the conscious ego: to alchemise suffering into revelation of divinity.

Relating to God as an image changes everything because now “God” isn’t something definitively fixed or static but something constantly evolving (although being Wholeness itself, it will retain an unchanging and eternal element). There is an aspect of God which is evolving just as we do — every single moment. Because our evolution is the evolution of God.

If you believe that God is “out there”, then embodied human life can damn sure feel like a cruel meaningless prison sentence. But if you’ve felt your God-image arise from within, change you from within, liberate and love you from within, then it becomes apparent that somehow, inexplicably, you are participating in the life of God — the Whole — and every single element of your journey, struggle, and suffering are meaningful elements in the divine evolution, transformation and awakening of the psyche.

As Jung wrote, whoever knows God has an effect on Him.

In other words: the God-image is transformed through us, by us and with us. And this transformation of the God-image is inseparable from the transformation of the self (which is liberated via the realisation of our psychic wholeness).

What’s more: the transformation of the self is sensed to be inseparable from the material unfolding of the cosmic process! That’s what Jung means by history being “the progressive incarnation of the deity”. The whole scope of human civilisation can be mapped onto an epic evolution of the God-image on the scale of tens of thousands of years; a psychological process which is still going, and is perhaps infinite and open-ended, that we each participate in our own personal voyage of creation and discovery into the holy mystery and our symbols and images of the divine.

Realising this is deeply empowering. We no longer have to believe what anyone says about God, because we know our God(s) (through our God-images), and we know their validity through their transformative and liberating effects on our being (not whether they are intellectually true or provable). We come to learn that our God(-images) require our imagination, energy and devotion in order to take life in the world. We come to learn that our Gods long for this — they need us, just as much as we need them.

Jung’s astounding insight and contribution to religion was that he “relativised the God-image’s ontological objectivity’’ (Ingrid Riedel). He put the concern over whether it is “real or not real” to the side and instead concerned himself with the God-image’s undeniable effectiveness in healing the psyche and creating joyous, free and compassionate people. He was a doctor and therapist, after all, engaged in the ancient work of therapeia: caring for the divine (from the Ancient Greek).

Naturally, we want to find God-images that are conducive to our liberation and realisation of freedom! A hand extended to a friend who has fallen, a singing bird at dawn, a fruit fallen from a tree to feed us… our God-images are the “transcendent centre” of our being: gateways to realisation of the universal mystery, the holiness of all things. They “activate, awaken and reveal the wholeness within us”. The mind can’t grasp that wholeness, because it’s nature is to divide and measure, but the heart, soul and imagination can — indeed they already do.

To begin to play with and learn from our God-images, to allow the self to be transformed and ultimately liberated by them: this is a central thread of Imaginal Religion, Soulmaking Dharma, and Jungian Individuation. And it goes further — far further — than that once we realise that this endeavour is a direct and necessary contribution to the transformation and liberation of God.

A God who suffers and strives, just as we do. A God who is vulnerable and, to a degree, is unconscious, just as we are. Our suffering, striving, vulnerability and unconsciousness are God’s, as much as ours. Why? Well, because We Are God!

Bringing all this suffering into consciousness, into the open field of loving awareness, draws both us and God out of unconsciousness and into freedom. This is the redemptive contribution that every human makes to the Whole, (the Self, the infinite transpersonal psyche, the infinite community of living beings). This is what it means to bear one’s cross out of love — and compassion — for God (all beings).

Augustus Knapp

Resurrection

Indeed God is dead, but our power to kill him reveals our power to resurrect him — which is the exact mirror process of allowing ourselves to be resurrected by Him (or Her, or Them). You can’t have one without the other, because we (us and God) are utterly inseparable and interdependent.

Paul Levy writes: “If the inner resonance of the God-image is attuned to and awakened inside ourselves, these living images of God reveal themselves to be hyper-dimensional portals into and living symbolic expressions of a more expansive consciousness that is always available to us.

A living symbol that points beyond itself, the God-image is not a concoction of the conceptual mind. To quote Jung, “The God-image is the expression of an underlying experience of something which I cannot attain to by intellectual means.” The God-image is an autonomous phenomenon that is not invented by the intellect, but rather, experienced. Based on a pre-existing, archetypal pattern, the God-image’s existence precedes our cognition of it. Having no hand in its creation, the intellect can only try and come to terms with and assimilate the God-image into its conception of the world.

The God-image is the collective unconscious’ projection of itself, representing the Self as well as the individuation process (the process of realizing our wholeness). Our God-image expresses our conception of and relation to God, while at the same time being the very image through which God is revealing Itself to us. To quote Jung, “As it is a natural process, it cannot be decided whether the God-image is created or whether it creates itself.” ”

Jung writes that “any uncertainty about the God-image causes a profound uneasiness in the self, for which reason the question is generally ignored because of its painfulness.”. But attempt to ignore does not stop the unconscious searching constantly — and in vain — for a God-image. This drive for salvation leads to our desperate clinging to metaphysical stances (like atheism, materialism) and to personal identities and beliefs. And the search is always outside of ourselves — because to look within would be to confront the God-shaped hole, the gaping wound, the vortex of pain… to see how the image of God is bloodied and beaten and bruised — that is, how the self has become distorted and neglected and mistreated… and how we are constantly transmitting this pain to the world around us.

When our God-image is either dead (nothingness, voidness, meanginglessness) or repugnant (the coercive and manipulative power-tripping Lord) the psychic hierarchy is utterly fragmented… cue psychic anarchy, despair, chaos and confusion. In other words, the postmodern world!

The uneasiness will only go away when we face the self and our operative God-image in their totality via contemplation, meditation, direct experience. To do this is to learn to hold the fullness of the mystery in acceptance, respect and ultimately reverence. When we do this we open to its divinity, and our own.

“When we see that our wound is a sacred wound, our story becomes a sacred story” – Richard Rohr

We can learn to see this earthly chaos as the prima materia… as the ocean of images from which the new God-images may emerge, congeal, speak and reveal themselves…

To paraphrase Ingrid Riedel: “Jung decided to resurrect God as a symbol.”

This statement captures the Jungian (or metamodern) restoration, redemption and resurrection of God: the movement beyond the modern and postmodern athiest view of God as something to be taken literally. Now God is an image and symbol: one that wields the power to illuminate and transform all existence. Wielding such power, this resurrection is at once grandiose and daring, yet also tentative, humble and unsure of itself (just like us, which is of course no coincidence). It is indeed an acutely dangerous realm of experimentation, and yet the violent madness of our world has forced — or led? — us here. We are compelled to try to find God — and our own wounded souls — amongst the wreckage, just as Jung did after “he encountered the problem that man must devote himself to a living God — and were not the symbols of the Divine handed down since ancient times not images and personifications of real forces that transcend man — the forces of nature, of the universe, of the life-force itself?”.

These are the words of Ingrid Riedel commentating on Jung’s God-image in his revelatory Red Book. She continues:

“Jung spoke of the God-image and the symbols of the Divine as the only statements we can make with respect to God. However when he encountered God within his active imaginations, he addresses the God directly.

Though he conceives of the Gods as symbols, he understands that these symbols are vessels of a reality that they transmit; they act as images of the senses for a reality which lies beyond them, which they convey.” — Ingrid Riedel

Without contacting that divine and transcendent reality, how can we help? What we don’t seem — or want — to realise is that in order to contact and channel the divine, we must a) use our Imaginations to their fullest, most daring and creative potentials and b) die — in order to give life to the world, and therefore to resurrect in a totally inconceivable way.

In this death and resurrection (which is not literal but psychological, symbolic, imaginal) we — and God — are delivered from nothingness (and thus also from the “false death of the false self” and all the nihilism that comes along with this view). This process can only take place if we go willingly into nothingness — into death — by a generous, loving and compassionate self-emptying (that is: sacrifice, giving, and ultimate dissolution of the small self into the universal Self or God). Reaching a realisation of non-identification with the body, the scarcity mindset of contraction around this self, this body, this lifetime, is dissolved in a revelation of divine abundance through identification with all selves, all bodies, all lifetimes — all united in the infinite life and transformation of God, the Eternal and Universal We.

We approach a realisation of the whole edifice of consciousness as being imaginal, as being dependent on image, myth and fantasy and the soul’s desire to penetrate and commune with those images… the soul’s desire for God, for peace… sensing the spirit in everything.. restoring the world of matter to its divine status as a heavenly and magical realm. “Re-enchanting the cosmos”, as Burbea puts it.

At this stage, the Self-image(s) and the God-image(s) are restored and reactivated in parallel (because they are inseparable, interdependent, and interpenetrating). In other words, the restoration and resurrection of the God-images is equal to the restoration and resurrection of the Self-images. (Remember that capital-S “Self” denotes the totality of conscious and unconscious processes — and I’ll drop this image in here again as a visualisation aid).

The central dot represents the Ego whereas the Self — or God — can be said to consist of the whole with the centred dot.

To entertain conceptions of oneself as a holy and divine being — a warrior, a servant, a lover, a magician, an artist, a gardener — is to realise one’s inherent dignity, self-love, self-respect. One’s godliness (goodness, purity, perfection, innocence). And that enables one to see the goodness and dignity of all beings, holding them all in love and compassion, respect and appreciation. In reverence. Through the madness and confusion and chaos of today’s world, we remember our humanity. And as the Sufis say, “he who has realised his humanity has realised his divinity”.

It’s no longer about seeing or talking to The Big High Heavenly Being but rather becoming humble, peaceful, and loving, seeing the sacred mystery in everything and everyone, including oneself. As Richard Rohr says, we are not human beings having (or trying to have) a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience — and any authentic and worthwhile religious teaching should do the work of guiding us on the profoundly difficult (and profoundly beautiful, inherently sacred) path of learning how to be human.

The finite and fixed small self is re-imagined (or re-image-ed) as the Universal Self who is not limited, fixed or even knowable, but is infinite in its depth, its potential, its plurality and its possibility.

“The spontaneous symbols of the self, or of wholeness, cannot in practice be distinguished from a God-image”. – Jung

Evolution of the self-image thus proceeds from part to whole, from small to universal, approaching an image of Self as whole and complete, as totality, as unity-in-diversity… as one with God.

This is never, ever going to be easy. To realise the divinity of Self requires a confrontation with the totality of the Self. And this is always going to take us to the places where we really, really don’t want to go. “The integration of the collective unconscious… the decensus, the inferno, the descent of the soul into hell, its work of redemption embracing even the dead”, as Jung described it.

We make our way through the apocalypse, and into the light. Because God / Love wants to go down into the darkness, to know the self (the mystery) in its fullness, rejecting and neglecting nothing, no matter how hideous or wretched.

In facing Psyche in her wholeness we seek the conscious convergence of the God-image and the Self-image: both the Self and God are known to be inseparable and indistinguishable — allowing each to be restored and resurrected as divine, imaginal, boundless and universal. In other words, allowing us to forgive and love, totally and utterly, both ourselves and God (everything bigger / other than our small finite ego).

This evolution in perception paves the way for Eternal Transformation — our next chapter… coming very soon!

Until then, pilgrims…

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Will Franks

Will Franks

freedom artist. magical realist. metamodern beat. i also make funk.