Explaining Mysticism’s Dark Night of the Soul

In their book, Buddhism and Jungian Psychology, analysts J. Marvin Spiegelman and Mokusen Miyuki (who is also a Buddhist priest), mention the danger of "stagnation" following the integration of unconscious contents. This sounds a lot like the stage on the journey to enlightenment the mystics have famously called "the dark night of the soul." It…

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The Unconscious Mind Is the Human Quintessence

The concept of “the quintessence” has more than one historical root. Here I will deal with the one that really does have roots, the one that involves sacred trees. It may seem strange that people once considered certain trees (and by extension, groves) sacred, yet there is a simple logic to the belief and –…

The Inner Nag vs. Inner Wisdom

In this post, I want to present another example of the associative workings of the unconscious mind. Years of strenuous psychotherapy and much “soul searching” have made me sensitive to the meaningful little clues and useful responses the unconscious scatters through our lives. We all have these experiences, but many of us, not understanding their…

Gnosticism Is Freelance Religion

Gnosticism is the practice of spiritual inquiry independent of established religious dogma. The term derives from the root, Gnosis, which refers to intuitive knowledge of spiritual truths or mysteries as originally possessed by ancient Gnostics. An essential aspect of Gnosticism is the confirmation of spiritual truths through reflection and personal experience. We might think of…

Do We Ever Really Change?

The authentic self is constant. This means that, at the more fundamental level of our being, we never change. There is much truth in the old English adage that “a leopard does not change its spots.” Yet there appear to be many cases of people who went through enormous transformations. I want to look at…

The Zen Man

In her Diary of Vowels, Jungian analyst Helen M. Luke describes a type of person she refers to as “the Zen man.” According to Luke, "He is ... one who does everything with his whole heart, with complete commitment and devotion – or, in Jung's words, one who lives his hypothesis to the bitter end,…

The Constant Self Is Real

When feelings such as loneliness, loss, and placelessness assail them, people often get into serious emotional trouble. It is interesting to note that, when some people experience such feelings, they do not turn inward for an explanation of their own emotions. They do not even turn to psychology or philosophy, external knowledge bases which would…