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Another Perspective

The Enlightened Ego

I became worked up last night when the nightly news reported a story about current political events. The people I disagree with were acting in a way that made me furious. I dealt with the situation by eating an ice cream bar. That helped with my upset spirit, but didn’t help my waistline.

Then, as these things seem to happen, I received an email from one of my clergy colleagues. In the email, he quotes our mutual friend, Robert Johnson, a Jungian analyst, author of about ten books on psychic (soul) growth, and the most priestly man I’ve ever known. The observation he shared was this: “The task of the enlightened ego is to observe. It doesn’t make value judgments.”

My response was to share the writings of two wise men I’d come across last month that explains to me the thinking behind Robert’s observation. The first wise man is Heinrich Zimmer. He was a mythologist who mentored Joseph Campbell. Zimmer’s writings are the sort I read many times, slowly, in order to be able to digest and assimilate what he has to say. The books of his I use most are “The King and the Corpse, Tales of the Soul’s Conquest of Evil”; and “Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization.” I coupled together the following thoughts from him.

“The constant projection and externalization of our vital energy
is our little universe, our restricted sphere and immediate environment.
The world, not as it is itself, but as we perceive it and react upon it, is the
product of our own delusion. Whenever we are entangled and enmeshed
in vital, passionate issues, we are dealing with the projections of our own
substance. {It is the result} of not knowing better.” (Myths and Symbols,
pg. 194)

The second wise man is Joseph Campbell. The material I’m quoting comes from his classic, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” These quotations are coupled together also.

“Our conscious view of what life ought to be seldom corresponds
to what life really is. Every failure to cope with a life situation must be
laid, in the end, to a restriction of consciousness. Regrets are illuminations
that came too late. What are your ogres? These are the reflections of the
unresolved enigmas of your humanity. What are your ideals? Those are the
symptoms of your grasp of life.” (Hero, pg. 121)

My takeaway is I’ve still got a lot of work to do before I’m enlightened. Eating ice cream isn't going to get me there. Carefully examining my passionate beliefs will help as will examining where my consciousness is restricted.

What are your thoughts on what Robert Johnson, Heinrich Zimmer, and Joseph Campbell had to say?
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