Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Personal Development: Jungian Individuation Process


This article is specially written for the participants of the Mental Symbology Program. I really thank them for having so much toleration to my presenting of these difficult to understand, but not really immediately useful material!


What is Jung's Individuation? Different people studying Jung can have different explanations. Jung provided us his theory which can be one of the best Personal Development Process.

We always talk about Personal Development, but do we have a way to do so? If yes, what is your way?

Many of our so-called Personal Development is just Personal Improvement. We figured out what is not working or not good enough and try to make it works or better. This is just Improvement. Development is going into another stage.

I do not have my own way, and I am using Jung's way.

Below is my simplified version of Jung's Individuation:

1. There are different kinds of Archetypal Complexes in our psyche.

2. Archetypal Complexes are the Concepts about ourselves, some are conscious, some are unconscious.

3. There can be more than one Archetype Complexes in each of the 5 (or 6) Major Archetypes.

4. Conscious Major Archetypes include Persona, our masks we used to face the outer world (e.g. one of the archetypes I use is a Trickster figure which is very flexible).

5. Another Conscious Major Archetype is the Ego, who do we think we are (e.g. one of my Ego archetypes is Wise Old Man figure).

6. Unconscious Major Archetypes include Personal Shadow, the dark side of our Ego, which compose of qualities we unconsciously repressed and do not want ourselves and others to know. In the past, there is a Puer figure in my Personal Shadow. Puer is an never grow-up child. I just don't want to be old!

6. Another Unconscious Major Archetype is the Archetypal Shadow, which is the dark side of the Self, or the dark side of human nature.

7. Anima/Animus is another Unconscious Major Archetype. Anima is the inside female qualities of a man, and the Animus is the inside male qualities of a woman. You can also see Anima being the Feeling Part of a man and Animus being the Thinking Part of a woman. According to Jung, they are the Soul of human being.

8. The last Unconscious Major Archetype is the Self, our true nature. This is the Spirit of human being.

9. One of the reasons why people suffers, being unhappy, and stuck in their development is that we do not know who we really are. We cannot understanding our true Self because the Self is being "blinded" from us by all those other Major Archetypes. You can imagine that the Self is situated in the centre of a circle, with layers of other Major Archetypes at the outside.

10. We do not know who we really are, so we think we are something else -the Ego and/or the Persona, and at the same time, we are affected by all other Archetypes in the Shadow, Anima/Animus and other parts of our Unconscious Mind (some Positive Archetypal Complexes).

11. Jung's Individuation is the process that we identify, inspect and understand each of the Archetypal Complexes from Persona, to Ego, Shadow, Anima/Animus and finally we meet our true Self. We understand that each of those are not our true Self. Once understood, they lost their power on us. The process of understanding is done by realizing these are either good or bad, and neither good nor bad. (This is a paradox, it is difficult!) This process is Transcendance.

12. This idea was created by Jung's modeling of the processes of practice in several religions including Buddhism and Taoism, etc. Don't you see those masters are full of wisdom?

13. So, Individuation is a process of Self Development without any religious boundaries.

14. Why facing the Self is so important in this Self Development Process? From my point of view, it is not important. It is the final step of the process but the importance doesn't lie there. It is the whole process of understanding what is not our true Self matters. With each misunderstanding being clarified, we transcend from one stage to another.

15. Furthermore, I believe that there is actually "Nothing" in the Self. If there is still something there, we are still blocked. In Buddhism, the stage of 非想非非想處地(定) is something similar to Jung's final step of meeting the Self. This stage is also named as 天人合一, 人神合一, 成道 in many other religions (Though Buddism considers this just as a starting point toward 證得佛果!). In this stage, we are not thinking and we are not "not thinking". The only way to achieve such paradox is that there is "nothing" there. There is only Emptiness (shunyata 空性) there.

16. If we are just considering Personal Development, we do not need to go all the way to the Self. When we start the process, each step of identifying, inspecting and understanding of each archetype makes us going into another stage of development. We understand that we are not "someone" or "something", we are "another one", which is nearer to our true Self.

This 16-Points description is just my own understanding. I might not be right about this. I am just sharing what I am practicing. I have practiced this for years and I am still very, very, very far away from the Self!

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