In my last article, The Wounded Healer, Part I, I contemplated how the wounded healer is one of the major underlying, archetypal processes giving shape to and in-forming events in our world today, both individually and collectively. I point out how our wounding is a numinous event that can potentially introduce and initiate us into a deeper level of our being. Any one of us accessing the healing power hidden in our wound could be, in Jung’s words, “the makeweight that tips the scales,” precipitating an evolutionary quantum leap in human consciousness, which literally can change everything.
In meditation last night, as I was watching my wound arise, I began to see how in each moment I was interpreting my wound in one of two ways. In some moments, I was relating to my wound as if it was a problem (for it sure felt like one). It felt very real and had a rock-solid concreteness to it. When I experienced my wound in this way, I told myself a story that goes like this: the fact that the symptom was coming up in the moment was itself proof that I really had an unresolved problem that needed to be worked on, for if I didn’t have an unresolved problem, then I clearly wouldn’t have this wound. In one very real sense, this logic is true; if I didn’t have an unresolved problem, I wouldn’t be experiencing my symptom right now.By exclusively holding onto this fixed viewpoint, however, I am not seeing the full picture, and am entrancing myself through the reality-creating power of my own imagination. When I solidify myself as having a wound, just like a dream, where the inner and the outer are mirrored reflections of each other, the universe instantaneously reflects back and supplies all the evidence I need to prove to myself that I really am wounded, which further confirms and validates my point of view of seeing myself as someone who has an unhealed wound, ad infinitum. In this way of experiencing my wound, I relate to my wound as an expression of a deeper, unhealed part of myself that concretely exists and persists over time, at least in my imagination. It thereby has a sense of possessing a real, long-lasting, substantial, independent, and intrinsic existence to it, at least for the time being, which is all there really is.
The more I relate to my wound AS IF it really exists, the more I have created it to manifest AS IF it really exists, which just endlessly justifies my increasingly entrenched viewpoint, as I now have all the proof I need of the “objective reality” of my wound. When I relate to my wound in this way, what I am unwittingly doing is colluding with my wound to sustain and perpetuate itself. By relating to my wound as evidence that I have an unresolved problem, I then concretize in my imagination that I have an unhealed problem that actually exists in and over time through this moment, and in the next moment, and the next, seemingly ad infinitum. Just as in a dream, when I solidify my situation like this, my experience of the universe and of myself has no choice but to shape-shift and reflect back to me what I am choosing to perceive, thereby repeatedly confirming my viewpoint in each moment. To become bewitched by my own perceptions in this way, entranced by my mind’s power to give shape to and in-form “reality,” is to fall into an infinitely self-perpetuating feedback loop that is of the nature of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
To do this is to have fallen under a spell of my own making. This dynamic is at the root of generating enormous amounts of unnecessary human suffering, both in our individual lives and collectively, writ large on the world stage. We are constantly hypnotizing ourselves and falling under spells of our own making, an important feature of which is the very convincing sense that we are not under a spell, but are seeing things clearly, as they “really are.” When we imagine our wound to be “real,” for example, we are falling under the spell of and ultimately serving the “false self,” which is based on limitation, lack and fear. Our wound is then not only magnified but projected outward, where it can often be destructively acted out in the world, with the attendant surge of blame accompanied by a feeling of victimization. The origin of this dynamic, which is at the very root of what is playing out both within ourselves and in the collective body politic, is to be found within the creative imagination of the human psyche, of consciousness itself.
When we unwittingly concretize and relate to our wound as something solid, we have dis-connected from the part of ourselves that can consciously participate in our own creative process. Solidifying our symptoms into a fixed and supposedly “objective” state is an act of abdicating our responsibility in creatively shaping the way our wound is manifesting in each and every moment. Instead of using our creative energy in the service of our freedom, we are unwittingly channeling our creativity to bind and restrict ourselves, as if our own creativity has turned against us. When we solidify our wound as being something real and separate from ourselves, we dissociate from a part of ourselves, which is to invariably become one-sided and neurotic. How our wound manifests is an unmediated, direct expression of our level of dissociation from our wholeness, which manifests as neurosis.
Just like with our wound, thinking that our neurosis has a solid reality to it, to quote Jung, “leads to the pretense (which suits the neurotic down to the ground) that the causa efficiens of his neurosis [we can easily substitute the word "wound" for neurosis] lies in the remote past. In reality the neurosis is manufactured anew every day [really every moment], with the help of a false attitude that consists in the neurotic’s thinking and feeling as he does and justifying it by his theory of neurosis [i.e., that the neurosis has a solid reality to it and its cause lies in the past].” [Emphasis added in brackets]
Jung continues, “The true reason for a neurosis always lies in the present, since the neurosis exists in the present. It is definitely not a hangover from the past, a caput mortuum [an alchemical term meaning a residue left over after the distillation of a substance]; it is fed and as it were new-made every day. And it is only in the today, not in our yesterdays, that the neurosis can be ‘cured.’” What Jung is pointing at with reference to the genesis and cure of our wound or our neurosis is that it is something we are actually feeding, supporting and creating each moment based on the story we tell ourselves. Just as Jung suggests regarding neurosis, instead of concretizing our wound as something “real” that exists objectively in and over time, with its cause in the distant past, there is a second way that we can potentially relate to our wound. When the wound comes up, instead of interpreting it solely as an expression that we really are wounded, we can recognize the wound’s momentary appearance as the unfolding, releasing, dissolution and dis-illusion of the very same wound that we had previously imagined to substantially exist. In other words, we can allow our wound to manifest in this moment as an evanescent, transitory and self-liberating revelation of what the moment before we imagined existed in and over time in solid, “real” form.
When we experience the effortlessly self-liberating quality of our wound, instead of reaching back in time in our imagination, and creating ourselves in a solidified, limited, and problematic identity that is not fully healed, we simply relate to our wound as an impermanent, ever-changing, and fluid phenomenon: an event only happening in the present moment and no-where other than the present moment. We thus relate to our wound as being an ephemeral artifact of our present perception and as existing simply as a momentary phantom of the dynamics of our creative process in this moment. In viewing our wound in this way, we do not make it “real” and grant it an undeserved solidity or invest it with an unwarranted substantial existence. We simply relate to our wound as its own impermanent self-display, its own self-liberating revelation.
In Buddhism, this is called recognizing the “emptiness” of phenomena, which is to realize that phenomena (such as our wound, the outside world, and even, and especially, ourselves) have no intrinsic, independent existence separate from the consciousness which is experiencing it. This realization is analogous to being inside of a dream and recognizing its true nature, which is to say that the manifestation of the dream, including our imagination of who we are in the dream, is not separate from the mind that is dreaming. What Buddhism calls emptiness is exactly what quantum physics has discovered in realizing that we cannot separate out our observation of the universe from the universe we observe. Our observation of the universe changes the very universe we are observing. The observer is the observed. It is complete nonsense (in that it makes “no sense,” empirically speaking) to talk about the universe existing separate from us, or us existing independently of the universe. Just like a dream, the outer world is a mirrored reflection and nonlocalized expression of what is going on inside the dreamer, which in this case is us.
The story we weave around our wound in each and every moment is a reflection of how we relate to and hence “dream up” and create ourselves as well. If we relate to our wound as existing over time with its cause in the past, we concurrently conjure ourselves up as a being who exists in and over time, and hence, as someone who is bound by time. How we relate to our wound determines not just how we dream up our experience of ourselves, but also the reality around us. Our wound and our dynamic interactions with it are potentially revealing to us a key to how we create our selves and our world moment by moment.
Our wound is not separate from the psyche which is experiencing it. A nonlocal, “faster than the speed of light” co-relation and co-respondence exists between how we perceive our wound and how our wound manifests. This link happens in “no time” whatsoever, which is to say it takes place outside the realm of time altogether. We cannot separate out how we “subjectively” view our wound and how our wound appears “objectively.” For in reality all assessments of reality as being objective are by their very nature subjective in origin. Our wound is thus inseparably united with and a function of consciousness. It is due to this nonlinear, atemporal, “faster than the speed of light” effect we have on our universe that we fall prey to and entrance ourselves by our God-given power to co-create the universe. This dreamlike universe of ours instantaneously mirrors back to us our perceptions in a way that validates our perceptions by making them appear to us as if they objectively exist and are arising outside of ourselves. Being like a dream, our perceptions generate the universe to reflect back our perceptions, which further confirms the very perceptions which generated the reflections of them in the first place.We are all creative geniuses who are divinely empowered to call forth and literally co-create this universe with itself and each other. To the extent we are not consciously aware of our power, however, we unconsciously dream up this universe in a way that not only doesn’t serve us, but rather, is destroying us. Our God-given power to creatively call forth reality is boomeranging and we are unwittingly using it against ourselves, as if we have become enchanted and have fallen under a spell. We snap out of our bewitchment when we consciously realize and start actively using the power of our divine creative imagination to transform our experience of the world.
For those of us who experience ourselves as not having much of an imagination, it is as if we are imagining that we don’t have much of an imagination. Our imagination of not having an imagination is itself the most far-out (in the sense of being far off the mark) imagination of our divine imagination. Our creative imagination, instead of serving our fulfillment, is perversely being used against us in crippling ways that dramatically reduce our human potential. Our only “problem” is a lack of imagination. Our lack of imagination is itself imaginary, however, as our thinking that there’s a problem is merely a product of our imagination. Being ultimately the revelation of our imagination itself, our lack of imagination is a “problem” that asks to be approached imaginatively, which is to say that hidden in our very problem – our lack of imagination – is its own resolution and healing. Imagine that!
As I point out in my previous article The Wounded Healer, encoded in our wound is the key to its resolution, which is to say that our wound contains its own medicine. Similarly, hidden in our neurosis is its own cure. When we feel stuck, it is as if our neurosis is keeping us tied and bound, frozen in a particular time or place. And yet, being “nailed” like this, a veritable “crucifixion” experience, can potentially help us discover who we are. To quote Jung, “I myself have known more than one person who owed his entire usefulness and reason for existence to a neurosis, which prevented all the worst follies in his life and forced him to a mode of living that developed his valuable potentialities. These might have been stifled had not the neurosis, with iron grip, held him to the place where he belonged.” The neurosis, with its “iron grip,” can seemingly immobilize us, which paradoxically, can potentially help us one-pointedly stay on course, keeping us right where we are supposed to be so as to discover our own presence, as well as helping us to unwrap our uniquely creative gifts. Our neurosis, though seemingly ruining our state of childhood innocence, actually “raises us,” providing us with the necessary rules, restrictions and parameters for the unique unfoldment, crystallization and channeling of our open-ended potential. In raising us, our neurosis has the potential to mature us and expand our consciousness.
Jung continues, “We should not try to ‘get rid’ of a neurosis, but rather to experience what it means, what it has to teach, what its purpose is. We should even learn to be thankful for it, otherwise we pass it by and miss the opportunity of getting to know ourselves as we really are. A neurosis is truly removed only when it has removed the false attitude of the ego. We do not cure it – it cures us. A man is ill, but the illness is nature’s attempt to heal him. From the illness itself we can learn so much for our recovery, and what the neurotic flings away as absolutely worthless contains the true gold we should never have found elsewhere.” Our neurosis and our wound are the alchemical “prima materia,” the rejected and despised part of the psyche, the raw material which we “should learn to be thankful for,” without which we would be unable to make the alchemical gold of an expanded consciousness.
The mediator of our wound’s curative power is consciousness and the direction we choose to channel it. Instead of viewing our wound as a real “problem” that is obscuring our true nature, when consciousness is guided by feelings of gratitude for the wound’s potential offering of self-realization and personal evolution, our wound, which is a reflection of our consciousness, magically reveals itself as a worthy object of veneration. Our wound then manifests as a doorway to our healing, a portal through which we can glimpse our infinite potential.
Our neurosis is only truly removed, as Jung points out, when it removes the false attitude of the ego, which imagines the wound (and itself) as having a concrete, real existence whose cause lies in events that occurred in the remote past. Our neurosis thus can potentially teach us that its – and our – self-nature is empty of substantial, inherent existence, and is nothing other than a fluid function of our own creative imagination, our own consciousness. To say our wound is not separate from our own consciousness is to say that how our wound actually manifests is determined by the meaning we place on it, how we view it, the metaphors we use to contextualize it, and the story we tell ourselves about it. This realization points at the importance of the “storying” part of our psyche, i.e., the part of ourselves that is endlessly mythologizing, imagining, and dreaming through the events in our life, as if creating a work of living art, of flesh and blood fiction. Just like in a dream at night, there is a deeper part of ourselves that is literally the “author” of our experience, a fundamental aspect of ourselves which invests us with a genuine “authority” to create change in both ourselves, and by extension, the world around us.
Our neurosis itself is potentially teaching us that it does not exist solely in time, with its cause in the distant past; it also brings into question the very notion of time itself. Our wound, according to Jung, offers us “the opportunity of getting to know ourselves as we truly are.” And as we get to know ourselves as we truly are, we realize that we are not constrained and circumscribed by linear time in the way we had previously imagined. The only “place” this realization can happen is the present moment, right now.
This now-centered realization of how linear time is but a fiction of our imagination can free us into new and undiscovered possibilities that had been previously thought to be impossible while we were imagining that we were bound by linear time. This is yet another example of how the inspired use of our awakening imagination can free us from mental straitjackets that we had been imagining ourselves to be bound by.
Interestingly, linear time is symbolized by the mythic Saturn/Cronos, “father time,” whose shadow aspect is the negative patriarchy, which happens to be one of the deeper, underlying archetypal patterns wreaking unspeakable havoc in our world through its obsessive addiction to power, control, and domination. The figure of Saturn/Cronos is a binding and limiting power that is related to the element “lead,” which is a symbol for the alchemical prima materia (often pictured as an old man). Saturn/Cronos’s peculiar form of “blessing” – restraining us as it seemingly takes away our freedom – is always “cursed” by its recipient, and yet, is the very thing which inspires us to discover our own power and authority.
When we snap out of being spell-bound by linear time, we connect with the time-less, syn-chronis-tic dimension of our being where we discover that our universe is a living oracle, an unfolding revelation, which just like a dream, is speaking symbolically. To snap out of interpreting our experience linearly and literally and wake up to the nonlocal, holographic and dream-like nature of our universe is to symbolically “slay” the mythic, archetypal figure of the negative father. As if agents from “outside of time,” we are then able to be of genuine benefit to others and to our world as a whole. Our wound is already potentially healing us, and all that is needed for this process to jump-start and exponentially up-level itself so as to kick us into a higher gear is our recognition of what is, in fact, actually happening. Seen as a numinous event, the awesome and overwhelming quality of our wound potentially initiates us into a deeper dimension of our being. Jung points out that “Only something overwhelming, no matter what form of expression it uses, can challenge the whole man and force him to react as a whole.” As a species, our wound is so overwhelming that it can potentially catalyze us to more deeply align with ourselves as well as open up and connect with each other so as to actively, creatively and collectively mobilize a deeper part of our wholeness.
We have dreamed up a situation for ourselves that challenges us to our core, forcing us to react not as separate, discrete entities who are “a-part” from each other and the whole, but as interrelated and interdependent parts of each other and the whole. Our wound is revealing to us that we can “sync-up” with each other through our shared, open-heart of collective lucidity and activate our latent collective genius so as to heal ourselves in a way which benefits everyone. A deeper, guiding intelligence becomes available to us when we reciprocally help each other to recognize our inherent unity, grounded in the intention of serving what is best for the whole.
Our wound is initiatory in that it is literally prodding and prompting us to evolve into a freer, more coherent, and higher order of ourselves. Hidden in our wound is its own re-solution. This is to say that the wound itself is an expression of the part of us, which, to speak from outside of linear time for a moment, is already healed. An expression of the ground of being, our wound connects us to life itself. We don’t cure our wound. It cures us.
A pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, Paul Levy is a healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dreamlike nature of reality. Paul is also a visionary artist and a spiritually-informed political activist. He is the author of The Madness of George Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis,which is available on his website www.awakeninthedream.com. (See the first chapter, The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis). Please feel free to pass this article along to a friend if you feel so inspired. You can contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org; he looks forward to your reflections. © Copyright 2010