Daryl Sharp on Being Whole

 Earlier in the week, someone mentioned not knowing what I meant by wholeness. This was a good reminder to post now and again about what, exactly, I mean by writing about it. I begin with the Jungian idea that the typical person is a mass of unconscious, fragmented parts that must be recalled to the whole. Jesus taught several parables about seeking and finding that which is lost–that of the lost coin, the pearl of great price, the Good Shepherd. Just as Christ represents to the West an archetypal example of wholeness, so Buddha represents to the East his counterpart. Each teacher called people to come home to themselves and, ultimately, to God. This is true whether the God to whom one returns is the personal aspect of God, as in Christianity, or the impersonal aspect of God pursued by Buddhism. Ultimately, God is one and He is spirit, just as He said. I believe, as did Carl Jung, that the personal quest for wholeness is a spiritual quest at its deepest root, and that any attempt to separate out the spirit results in dis-ease or illness. Dis-ease, illness, neurosis, and other types of suffering exist as signposts to tell us that we are going the wrong way. They invite us to return home again, to our true selves.

Daryl Sharp, editor at Inner City Books, has written a handy little Jungian primer called Jungian Psychology UnpluggedIt is one of my favorite books for explaining Jungian ideas, for it’s short, sweet, and quite easy to read. In the book, Sharp writes:

When you’re self-contained, psychologically separate, you don’t look to another person for completion. You don’t identify with others and you’re not victimized by their projections. You know where you stand and you live by your personal truth–come what may. You can survive cold shoulders and you can take the heat. You have what Jung calls an undivided self. Well, more or less.

When you are self-contained, you have your own sacred space, your own temenos. You might invite someone in, but you’re not driven to, and you don’t feel abandoned if the invitation is declined. You respect the loved one’s boundaries, their freedom and privacy, even their secrets; you give them space and you don’t knowingly push their buttons. You don’t judge and you don’t blame. There is interest in, and empathy for, the other’s concerns, but you don’t take them on as your own. Shoulders may be offered to cry on, but there is no plaintive plea from one to the other to be “understood.”

Make no mistake: understanding what someone is saying is different from being asked to understand who is saying it. The former depends on your thinking function, and may overlap with feelings of empathy and compassion; the latter is an unconscious bid for power. Understanding oneself is difficult enough; understanding others is their responsibility, if they are inclined to do so and have a mind for it. What one can know of another is just the tip of an iceberg; the far greater part of anyone’s personal identity is beyond the ken of an outsider. For that matter, those who have worked on themselves enough to be comfortable with who they are–as opposed to those arrogant souls who are simply narcissistic–do not need, nor do they ask, to be understood by others. I am what I am; take it or leave it.

The appropriate attitude for a long-term working relationship is not understanding, but acceptance (74-75).

Sharp writes later in the book that, once a peson has found his or her individual path, he is bound to feel estranged from those who have not. People who have worked on themselves, especially those who have worked particularly long and hard, don’t care to spend much time with those who haven’t. Sharp says that although this seems elitist, it’s only to be expected; with the sense of vocation, we come to realize that our time on earth is precious. “You become reluctant to squander it,” Sharp writes, “on those who don’t know who they are or why they are here, and are not inclined to ask” (148-149).

Those who hear the call to adventure and respond become, he says, “redeemer personalities–leaders, heroes, beacons of hope for others. Individuals with personality have mana” (149).

I like the idea of having mana, and I’m willing to do the difficult, involved work of enlarging my mana pool. In EverQuest and EverQuest II, fantasy characters have a mana pool, a well of power from which they draw the energy to do magic, to fight monsters, and to heal. This power pool can be enlarged, and it can be depleted.

I think this is similarly true in real life–and I do mean Real Life. It is not true of the marginal, unlived, unconscious lives that most people seem to live. Most people don’t seem to have the power to do magic, to fight monsters, or to heal anyone. But people on the Quest, those who have begun to individuate and those who have become personalities–ah, now they have wells of mana. They know how to replenish their wells; they know when and how to use their mana.

And they are heroic, magical beings.

References

Sharp, Daryl. Jungian Psychology Unplugged: My Life as an Elephant. Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books, 1998.

20 responses

  1. Hi Folks,
    As the author of JUNGIAN PSYCHOLOGY UNPLUGGED, I must say I am delighted that my little book has sparked such a lively discussion. In my later books I have focused more on the feminine and relationships, and Sophia/eros. See especiallly THE SLEEPNOT TRILOGY (2005-07) and THE EROS TRILOGY (2010-12). Read about them on my website: http://www.innercitybooks,net. I come very late to this blogging site. Maybe everyone has gone away……
    – Thank you, Good night and good luck, with love, Daryl
    _________________

  2. Pingback: Once Upon a Time: The Quest | 2 « The Third Eve

  3. Frank, thanks for your comments. I used a detail from Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel image of the creation that depicts God, His arm wrapped around Sophia, creating Adam.

    I think the ancients had it right and a lot more happened as a result of the Protestant Reformation than we know, being steeped in Protestantism. Although Protestant himself, Jung mourned the loss of the ancient, Hebrew symbols and Eastern influence that the Reformation did away with. No longer did we have Lilith and Eve, no longer the elevation of the female, no longer the he-she dichotomy, no longer Mary and John the Baptist. Mary was kicked to the curb, and with her went the Magdalene, as well. We lost our other parts and were left with this modern day mush, pap for babies.

    Ugh, I got myself started on a path I don’t have time to vent about now, so I’ll stop. Suffice to say that I feel robbed–and not by Martin Luther, either; but by his heirs, who so watered the full-bodied wine of Christianity that it is nearly totally without its symbols and archetypes in the modern, Protestant world.

    For shame.

  4. Lamb and Eve;

    I am suffering from insomnia, so I will keep my post brief to avoid saying anything stupid. I agree with Eve concerning the “it” label. I must admit for some reason I’ve lately been thinking of The Holy Spirit as more feminine being and God the Father as more masculine. I don’t have any evidence to back this up, and these are very preliminary conclusions. I think it is interesting that God said let us create him in OUR image in Genesis.(Another discussion for later) The “gender” of the Trinity is a fascinating subject, and I will probably grasp with it until the day I die. I can say that I don’t believe God is male or female, God is complete. Culture has put forth the image of a white haired older man, but I typically think of God as being an amorphous blob sitting on a golden throne.

    Well, I feel like I may be able to go to sleep, so I’ll write more later on this subject.

  5. Frank, another thought-provoking comment from you. I found all of it interesting but will begin with a brief comment that you’re not the only one interested in how smart you are. I’m interested in how smart you are, because reading what you write is invigorating in a way that a dull (as in stupid) person’s comments would not be. So I’m afraid I’ll have to burst your bubble and push my way into being the other person interested in how smart you are.

    Next, wanting steak while comforting your mom. That’s funny! Is it Freudian, as in “I’ll eat my dad for dinner”? As in, “Dad, the other red meat”? LOL. Or maybe comforting mom took s much blood out of you that you immediately needed to replace it with that much protein. Or maybe you went to visit the parental units on an empty stomach.

    Still, funny!

    About differentiating between your anima and another person’s undeveloped animus; I’ll be sharing more of what I know and making reading recommendations for anyone who has the time or inclination to go farther with this. Having said that, I’ll comment again that you sure do have some great questions!

  6. Lamb, I’m going to jump in and answer the question you posed to Frank. I think of God as not only male and female, but gender neutral as well.

    I’m going to make a wild guess and put words in Frank’s mouth and say that he’ll say the same thing, too. This, even though many Christians who accept that God transcends gender identity refer to Him as “He,” I think due to limitations of the English language. One hates to say “It,” for he is more than an It also.

    Anyway, hopefully Frank will come back and answer.

  7. Hey Rizz, I want to ask you something. Do you conceive (insofar as men can conceive) of God as male or female?

    I take the opportunity to bring this up because your story of your search for identity in the masculine echoes of a loose “history of patriarchy” for me. Indulge my sincere curiosity, if you don’t mind. Is God male or female, neither or both?

  8. Eve,

    I am honored, never before in the blogosphere have I inspired a “new post.” As far as getting a big head and being difficult to deal with it’s too late. Concerning my “first adulthood” spanning mere paragraphs; I attribute this to my lack of a formal education. When one writes with disregard to A.P.A. format it is liberating. I am generally not concerned about sourcing as any usage was purely unintentional. Brevity is something I would have put into the 5 strengths or writing post. The only person who really cares about how smart I am is me. 🙂

    A little background to what I was thinking. Throughout my early 20’s I had a mentor that I to this day admire yet never speak with. His goal was to work with boys and young men and teach them about the process of becoming men. He was always speaking of John the Baptist in the wilderness as an example. I found this subject fascinating and went over to what Father Rohr (and I’m sure others) refer to as the super masculine. Testosterone, arrogance, and a general don’t mess with me attitude ensued. Don’t get me wrong, those were valuable in a way. They were equally harmful. I recall one particular incident when speaking to a good friend and mentor of my wife shortly after I’d asked her to marry me. I’m pretty sure she and her husband didn’t approve of me because of this “super masculine” aurora I put forth. However when they undoubtedly thought “he’s not good enough for her” they were more than likely right.

    Fast forward. A few years ago, my mother was extremely upset about a family problem. We were discussing it (mom, dad, and I) and she started crying. She moved from sitting next to my dad and came over to me and put her arms around me and continued crying. My Oedipus alert sounded as I put my arm around her. My internal monologue went something like this. “Do your f*!#ing job as a husband dad. Why am I covering for you? Why did she come to me? What would happen if she had gone to my father instead? I want a steak. Yummmm. Steak.”

    Another fault of my father became apparent; he was too much of a “man” to console his wife. I decided then that I needed to take a generational problem and correct it. NOW. I hope I’m generation number eight. (I assume you’ll get the reference) Since then I have been reviewing some people that I considered to be to soft, wusses, and overly feminine. My goal is to find qualities about them that I want to embody, yet do away the trash. I have been focusing on the most unlikely people, mostly artists it seems.

    My conundrum has been and still is how I differentiate my anima from someone else’s underdeveloped animus. (As I write this something occurs to me about finding a more complete person to study) It does however seem that men are very interested in researching their masculine side while disregarding what I am finding the more difficult part.

    On a totally different train of though, your comment about the spouse not completing us in middle age through me for a loop. Not that I don’t understand it, but that it made The Apostle Paul’s comment about it being better not to marry a little easier to understand. This discussion is for another time though.

    Now for something I am altogether unfamiliar with and I confess sometimes look at it as witchdoctorary; (I’m making it a new word, damn you red squiggly line) dream interpretation. I rarely remember my own dreams, and if I do they are the ones that happened right when the alarm (which is the baby crying these days) went off. I will make a mental note to pay more attention.

    Now, for the “Repot back if you dare” comment; I have put forth what makes me struggle with these issues, discussed problems with my father figure, and told of my intense desire for steak. So in the words of Harry Potter when facing Voldemort in book seven; “Yes I dare!!!!!”

    OK, time to read your new post. Comments I’m sure will ensue.

  9. Frank, you amaze me. I hesitate to ask whether you know how brilliant you are, because then you’ll go and get all big-headed on us and be difficult to get along with.

    But you’ve just put into a comment spanning a mere several paragraphs pretty much what attaining the “first adulthood” (as James Hollis terms it) involves. Also, your Biblical insights are perfect from a Jungian perspective. I’ve just been listening to a bunch of Jungian teaching from the Centerpoint series (which I’ll write about later) and there are multiple references to the gospels, including the very figures you referenced. So, you’re “spot on,” as the Brits would say.

    Now, about the anima… yes, there are books to be read and I’ll post them for you. Most that I really enjoy are quite short and pithy. You will get your money’s worth. In fact, I have several and then some can also be had as audio books. I may have some stuff I can share with you, so we’ll work something out.

    Anyway, you have it right on two different levels. The anima is an archetypal figure common to all men, and as such can be understood theoretically and from the collective standpoint through not only depthy psychology, but also through myths, fairy tales, folk tales, fiction, art, etc.

    On the other hand, the anima is also personal. Therefore yes, you yourself will have to write the book for yourself. We do this developmental thing when we marry by externalizing our unformed substance, so to speak, and marrying a person who completes us. By middle age, that person will not complete us any more because completion is a task we are to do ourselves. So the sooner we work on ourselves and at individuating, the better off we are and less likely to roam and be mad about our marriages by mid life.

    This means the sooner you write your own anima book, so to speak, the better. Jung spoke with his anima and joked that she wrote his books, and he edited them. I think his anima had a name in her various stages of development. She can and will appear in your dreams, usually at first as a wild woman, often as a black or dark skinned female; sometimes as a female child, sometimes as an old crone (later). But whenever you recall females in your dreams, say hello to your anima.

    You can consciously talk to her and invite her to talk to you (this is going to go to the wonky side, but it’s Jungian so here goes). You can ask her to become conscious to you and tell her you think you’re ready. Ask her name. Ask her intention, ask what she needs and wants. See what happens.

    Report back if you dare.

  10. Tiv,

    It’s true, Eve, I am not familiar with Jung. Or at least it’s been decades since I was. So I stand corrected. As far as draining, needy people in my life. They are all gone. I have been “giving at the office” far too long. I for some reason resist the term wholeness and prefer dialectical balance. Whatever. It sounds like we mean the same thing. No?

    Yes, it does sound like we mean the same thing. I like “dialectical balance.” That’s a good idea, especially since one of the many symbols of wholeness is the square, which is quite balanced. The New Jerusalem isn’t square without reason; it’s a symbol of universal wholeness, or dialectical balance. :o)

    I wasn’t correcting you so much as trying to be an able translater of Jung’s ideas. As you probably recall from your grad school days, even greats like Freud and Jung aren’t taught in depth to students of psychology; they’re covered in sections or, if we choose to take a deeper class, perhaps by semester (rare). Most of us can’t possibly know what these men and women made the work of their lives.

    I stick with Jung because his work resonates with me and he as a person fascinates me (there’s that word again!). Freud was just too… Austrian or nearly German or Czech for me, whereas Jung has that Swiss chocolate quality of being yummy.

  11. I would say that wholeness does not put any more emphasis on “heroic individuation” than on “feminine connection.” On the other hand, both the Buddhist and the Christian concepts of wholeness seem to call for the self’s abandonment to something greater than itself. When the whole self says “I am what I am” it must not be interpreted as an assertion of self, but rather as a declaration of acceptance for “the way things are.” The whole self must recognize that it is not a self apart from the Whole, and so differences cease to matter and the self is free to move on with its work in the world.

  12. I have to admit that I am more than mildly interested in this post; wholeness is something I spent a good part of my early 20’s trying to understand. For the record I gave up trying to understand it and decided to just strive for it. I also find this wholeness conversation apropos with your moniker. When God made Eve from Adam, that wholeness was taken away. When we examine some Biblical stories we see examples of different elements of wholeness. John the Baptist for instance has always been an example of the masculine side wholeness, the animus. I tend to look at two people as the example of anima; Ruth and Mary (not Magdalene, although what an interesting study that could be). Let’s of course not forget the example of Wholeness, Jesus Christ. We have stories of him with children acting tenderly and also the famous money changer incident. He embodies both animus and anima, a true example of Wholeness. (I capitalize in reverence, if that is not a correct capitalization than get over it.)

    On my personal journey to wholeness, I found the most important step to be replacing my image of masculinity, dad, with a perfect image. When I was able to actually understand what Heavenly Father meant, the first part of my journey towards wholeness began. What an experience, all at once, my dad’s faults, sins, addictions, treatment of women, and other things ceased to be my example. I should take a minute to say that my father is a good man, a good father, and an excellent example. He had his faults, and I have some of them still, but replacing him with the perfect Father has helped me find them and do away with them.

    Now for the more difficult side, the feminine side, that pesky anima component. My wife has helped me so much, more than any other relationship I have ever had. Those who knew me before I was married will speak to what I was like before her. I even occasionally hear stories about how I helped her in some way. (Alas, as they are rare) So, I guess the question I have Eve, is what a man should look at as an archetype for the feminine. I have read books upon books about masculinity. I remember well some of the books that I read for both good and bad when searching for the masculine

    Wild At Heart
    None Greater: John the Baptist
    Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism
    The Wild Man’s Journey
    From Wild Man to Wise Man

    So, OK, I’ve got one side down of wholeness. Are there any books or info out there for a MAN wanting to find the anima? Am I going to have to go through this journey and write the damned thing myself? I want to reach a point that one of my favorite authors of all time has written about. (Eve, time to be surprised that I know about a Catholic author) Father Richard Rohr said “We have for too long been reading sacred texts from our dualistic consciousness, split from the very mystery that the story of the birth of Jesus seeks to reveal.” Give me wholeness, sacred texts, cigars and scotch, and a year off work……..

    Well, Eve, hopefully my “bible thumping zealot” side isn’t getting in the way of making a good point and asking a few good questions.

  13. It’s true, Eve, I am not familiar with Jung. Or at least it’s been decades since I was. So I stand corrected. As far as draining, needy people in my life. They are all gone. I have been “giving at the office” far too long. I for some reason resist the term wholeness and prefer dialectical balance. Whatever. It sounds like we mean the same thing. No?

  14. Thanks for being inspiring again, Eve. I was lucky enough to realise when I was young that no-one but me could complete me. I do find I prefer to be around others who are self-contained, but I have one person in my life who desperately seeks to be understood by me, and she is very draining. Unlike others who I may have gently left behind, she is family and is not going anywhere. I cope best by rationing my time with her.

    I don’t think it’s elitist necessarily, but I find that for the sake of my own energy, I have to make clear cut-off points because she does seek to sap me (and anyone else who will listen).

    Eve replies: Charolotte, I wonder, after reading Smiler’s comment above, if we don’t all instinctively know inside, when we’re young, that we’re in it on our own in a way, and that we are whole and growing more whole (I don’t exactly know how to phrase it, because I also know that we’re not really whole, but then again in some way we are… it’s a mystery of a sort).

    Anyway… draining people. I call them vampires. They’re not conscious in many or most ways, but they know when others are; so they suck life out of others so that they can have the feeling of being alive while doing none of the work that enlivens a person. The work and responsibility are too hard, so they become vampires. I did a lot of reading about vampires (fiction, non fiction, myths etc.) over the past few years just because the idea fascinates me. I just kept seeing vampires everywhere (so to speak).

    To carry the mythology of the vampire forward, it seems that you have your wooden stake and your garlic handy, as you know how to protect yourself from your vampire. Many of us suffer similar plights by having family members who are vampires but with whom we still must associate. It’s helped me to work at moving from fear to dread and dismay, to serving them without offering my jugular. ;o)

  15. What an incredibly inspiring post Eve. I must get my hands on that book.

    “once a peson has found his or her individual path, he is bound to feel estranged from those who have not.”

    While I don’t claim to having reached complete self-containment, I can certainly relate to that statement and in many ways. I know for a fact that that feeling of estrangement is what has been keeping me in my state of depression. It’s almost as though, I was born knowing that I was whole (as we all are, no doubt) but then since a very young age, I didn’t want to know.

    It’s one thing to travel on the path to completeness, and I’m sure fraught with challenges and heartbreak. But it’s quite another to be born with that awareness and understand over the years that the rest of the world is not prepared to deal with that level of understanding and to volutarily dissociate oneself from that state of wholeness to be more acceptable by conventional norms.

    As I write this, I see how unnecessary it all is, so much effort to resist what already IS. No wonder I am always so very tired.

    Eve replies:Smiler, I think the book is a useful one, for sure. It always helps me to realize that I’m not alone, even when I’m solitary. ;o)

    Good insight, that we are all born knowing that we’re whole… we are, theoretically, born with the imprint of wholeness. I can identify with what you wrote, that you “didn’t want to know” since a very young age, also. For me it’s more that I didn’t know how to get there, or had no role models, or when I did have them, I let them go and became like others because there’s comfort in that perverse herd mentality (even if it’s a terrible compromise of our potential).

  16. Mary Joan, we are all splintered (which I’d guess you already know, but it still bears repeating). The only difference is how much, and how aware people are of their splintered selves.

    By the way, I’m glad to see you again. And I too struggle daily with the need for integration and wholeness.

  17. Tiv, I’m surprised that you think only “gods, saints, magical beings” qualify for wholeness. I disagree (naturally). Wholeness in terms of the depth psychology idea of it is anything but static.

    What you call life “as constant movement… composed of all the opposing forces in our lives…” is a different way of saying what Jungians are saying, or what I’m saying.

    Maybe you’ve not brushed up on your Jung lately, but he said no one can become whole without male and female. It takes both sides, yin and yang. It is not the least bit paternalistic. In fact, once a woman told Jung, “Dr. Jung, your books are so full of feeling that I think your anima must write them for you.”

    He replied, “She does, my dear; and then I edit them.” :o)

  18. Eve,
    You wrote: “the personal quest for wholeness is a spiritual quest at its deepest root, and that any attempt to separate out the spirit results in dis-ease or illness.” I have struggled to learn that what I sought in a husband or a therapist can only be found in God. As a manic depressive, I am so aware of my splintered self and wrestle daily with the need for integration and wholeness. As always, this is a post I will ponder.

  19. There was a time in my life when I would have loved to debate this concept. I was very argumentative. Believe it or not, I no longer enjoy arguing at all. That said: The idea of wholeness sounds elitist because it is elitist. By these criteria, only gods, saints, magical beings qualify. Wholeness sounds very static. I think of life as constant movement and thus we are constantly seeking a dialectical balance composed of all the opposing forces in our lives, yin and yang so to speak, but we never actually achieve, we are always working towards. This concept of wholeness puts way too much emphasis on the old-fashioned, pre-feminist notions of heroic individuation without balancing in the opposing force of “feminine” connection.

    Let the balls roll and the games begin!

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