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Friday, March 6, 2009

As Within, So Without – CREDO LIX

The pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, who seems in many ways to be a forerunner of Jung, wrote in one of his pithy sayings, With our eyes open, we share the same world; with our eyes closed, each of us enters a private world. As a paraphrase, one could also say, I am in the world and the world is in me.

As above so below is the famous quote from the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus; this can be balanced by the horizontal As within, so without, or so it seems to me. The contents of each microcosm of a psyche are the results of our projections and introjections

When I was first invited to lecture at the Jung Foundation in New York, I realized that one cannot just give a paper on astrology – it has to be experienced. It took a lot of nerve to introduce a different method entirely. Since my definition of the astrological chart is that it describes the unique way an individual is likely to process experience, I had the group consider the obvious. I asked them to stand in a circle and realize they were sharing that circle but each was seeing it from a different perspective – and each was equally valid. Years later I would add the Stanford theoretical physicist William Tillis’s discovery through biofeedback that when two people hold hands, the energy is squared, so ten can provide the energy of a hundred – a syntropy opposite to entropy! On Iona at a Conference of 72, I suddenly realized we were solving the alchemical riddle of the impossibility of squaring a circle! One has to think outside the box.

We now know scientifically that each human being is unique: DNA, fingerprints, irises, etc., etc., but how often do we realize that our lifetime is like a bubble containing a totally unique set of memories and experiences! God never repeats himself, wrote Martin Buber. As I have often remarked, one person gives a lecture but a hundred listeners will hear a hundred different ones. An artist paints a picture, and down through the ages each onlooker will react to it differently. This is the result of our projections, which the chart helps us understand. Each planetary process gets projected to the outer world in either a positive or negative way; thus the work of the ego is to become more conscious of the subtle choices we have to work on these normally unconscious reactions. Therein lies the profound value of astrology as an adjunct to psychotherapy, something Jung himself admitted.

We all have free will within our microcosm. Jung points out that it is the way we react to circumstances that determines our personal fate, and Arnold Toynbee said the same thing of civilizations! And therein lies the great gift of consciousness! The promise is that as our consciousness changes, so inevitably will the outer circumstances. Not the other way around! Take a moment to reflect on this in your own life. All the spiritual guides in every religion give hints for how to go about this. The Golden Rule is a start.

I had my fifth birthday in November in Berlin, and two and a half weeks later the landlady of the pension we were staying in brought in an Adventshäuschen, a rectangular open cardboard box magically decorated with Christmas motifs, animals, elves, snow sparkles, and so forth. She set it up on the table, lit a candle in the midst of it, and explained that it contained 24 little windows that could be pried open, a day at a time, until Christmas Eve. So the lights were turned off and we sang a carol. Then we guessed what might be hidden behind the first window – a ball, a toy drum, a gingerbread cookie? I was fascinated. We did this every evening until on December 24th the double doors revealed the Nativity. Today I can appreciate the symbolism! The one source of light shines equally through every thing in creation, culminating in the symbolic Trinity of the archetypal holiness of the human family; the sacred Child is reborn anew every winter solstice as the Sun returns lengthening light to the New Year. As I am writing this eighty-one years after the delight of that five-year old, on this second Sunday in Advent, I realize the symbolic message of that event on many different levels!

As the Collect for Christmas Day reminds us, Christ (Atman, the Divine Guest) is the Light in the life of everyone! To me that means all of humanity not just Christians, a timely reminder for us all in these troubled times!

Love one another!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Iona

I came across your blog by a fortuitous synchronicity, as I 'googled' - "as within so without" wanting to look into it further before using it in my PhD thesis "Nurturing creativity: a journey of personal transformation", which I am currently writing. I say fortuitous because I have now found another author whom I can quote to support what I write, and also because I can let you know that I wholeheartledly agree with you - love is paramount!
I wish you a blessed Christmas full of light and love.

Helen (sorry as I have no google account I have no choice but sign up as anonymous, but I will check in again having aded this site in my favourites)