Jacob I Have Loved

And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus, and entreated Him to touch him. And taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes, and laying His hands upon him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I am seeing them like trees, walking about.” Then again He laid His hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” Mark 8:22-26

I’ve written lately about character disorders, which these days are called “personality disorders.” I prefer the older term “character disorder,” for to the contemporary person I think the term is more easily understood to involve a problem of the self, a difficulty with the nature of the person, the human being. We do not seem to think in terms of the person–the christ head by you.“person-ality”–any more. Rather, as some here have suggested, we attempt to build a better neurotic, and to help modern man adapt to the maladies of modern living. We don’t seem able to tolerate much depth at all, unless the suggestion of psychological development can be conveyed in 30-second sound bites or 15-minute talk show increments.

Many times Jesus healed people or called them to repentance and then sent them into seclusion. Some preachers have suggested that he did this because of his wish to avoid notoriety, but I don’t buy it. “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to myself,” is not the statement of a wallflower. The development and growth of the whole self requires much time on one’s own; hence we have numerous tales of the call to adventure resulting in the hero’s separation from kith and kin, tales of journeys into the wilderness. Once healed, a person isn’t supposed to hog his healing to himself, gluttonize it, imbibe it, belch it out to his own satisfaction. Once he begins “to see everything clearly,” he is to avoid the village. Go home, the Lord said, first go home and see what is there more clearly. Learn to see. Learn to hear. Wait for the call, for it will come.

People typically gain some facility for seeing and then fill their eyes with the world and leave the Lord behind. I am writing in metaphors here, but probably you’ll know what I mean. “The dog returns to its vomit, the pig to wallowing in the mire,” Jesus also said, referring to our base natures. People may start out hoping to get some relief from their suffering and with every intention of becoming whole, but few are willing to go very far along the way because of the additional suffering imposed by consciousness. Most people get just well enough to see the hand in front of their face, then they head for the mall. Lacking the characterological courage to press forward and fight for their spiritual inheritance like Jacob, they sell their souls for a mess of pottage. Thus God speaks through the prophet in Hebrews, stating, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

I always thought this statement to be a harsh one. God is speaking here, and He says, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” What does he mean? This was one of many difficult madonna 4 by you.passages in the Bible that made me think less of God, when I regarded God as someone or something that could be captured in mere words. Lately, though, I have come to see what He may have meant in this statement, for I know some folks with Esau spirits who have, in fact, sold their birthrights for bowls of soup and whatever satisfies the body and soul but can never grow the genuine self. The genuine self is established and grown by grace, miraculous intervention, humiliating sufferings, crippling struggles, and death, burial, and resurrection. When Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you, that you may be where I am,” he wasn’t just talking about playing a harp on some fluffy cloud somewhere. He anticipated Golgotha, the place of the skull, and we must anticipate it too if we are to get to the place where we are fit for wholeness.

Psychology is not enough, and religion is not enough. But the principles necessary for transcendence are found in both disciplines–and they are disciplines. Though psychology cannot possibly give us the stuff of God, it can show us the God-shaped place we have within. Religion can give us the symbols that can help us comprehend what this hidden life is about if it will respect them enough to retain them. But giving sight to the blind is a God thing. We must pray for grace and then be Jacobs willing to grab God by the heel, wrestle with him until we get his blessing.

Jung said that the soul is “an eye destined to behold the light,” and had this to say about inner vision:

Were it not a fact of experience that supreme values reside in the soul, psychology would not interest me in the least, for the soul would then be nothing but a miserable vapour. I know, however, from hundredfold experience that it is nothing of the sort, but on the contrary contains the equivalents of everything that has been formulated in dogma and a good deal more, which is just what enables it to be an eye destined to behold the light. This requires limitless range and unfathomable depth of vision. I have been accused of deifying the soul. Not I but God himself has deified it! I did not attribute a religious function to the soul, I merely produced the facts which prove that the soul is naturaliter religiosa, i.e., possesses a religious function. I did not invent or insinuate this function, it produces itself of its own accord without being prompted thereto by any opinions or suggestions of mine. With a truly tragic delusion these theologians fail to see that it is not a matter of proving the existence of the light, but of blind people who do not know that their eyes could see.

It is high time we realized that it is pointless to praise the light and preach it if nobody can see it. It is much more needful to teach people the art of seeing. For it is obvious that far too many people are incapable of establishing a connection between the sacred figures and their own psyche: they cannot see to what extent the equivalent images are lying dormant in their own unconscious. In order to facilitate this inner vision we must first clear the way for the faculty of seeing. How is this to be done without psychology, that is, without making contact with the psyche, is frankly beyond my comprehension. (Since it is a question here of human effort, I leave aside acts of grace which are beyond man’s control).

Another equally serious misunderstanding lies in imputing to psychology the wish to be a new and possibly heretical doctrine. If a blind man can gradually be helped to see it is not to be expected that he will at once discern new truths with an eagle eye. One must be glad if he sees anything at all, and if he begins to understand what he sees. (CW Vol. 12, Par. 14-15)

18 responses

    • Scott, I hope you do. My recommendation is to read one, two, or three of his books and to let them be his memoir, “Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” firstly, unless you don’t care for memoirs in which case I suggest starting with “Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious,” followed by the book Jung wrote after his break with Freud and which ideas actually led to his break with Freud, “Symbols of Transformation.”

      If you’re into podcasts, Canadian analyst John Betts has a free podcast series on Jung that I think is very good. You can download it at http://www.islandnet.com/~jungian/Jung_Podcasts.htm.

  1. I just came across this and had to share it with you in the context of this post and the quote from Jung:

    Symbolic thinking is not the exclusive privilege of the child, of the poet or of the unbalanced mind: it is consubstantial with human existence, it comes before language and discursive reason. The symbol reveals certain aspects of reality–the deepest aspects–which defy any other means of knowledge. Images, symbols and myths are not irresponsible creations of the psyche; they respond to a need and fulfil a function, that of bringing to light the most hidden modalities of being…. Dreams, waking dreams, the images of his nostalgias and of his enthusiasms, etc., are so many forces that may project the historically conditioned human being into a spiritual world that is infinitely richer than the closed world of his own “historic moment.”

    — Mircea Eliade, Images and Symbols: Studies in Religious Symbolism, 1991, pp. 12-13.

    (Picked this up in a used book store; it’s a treasure!)

    • Oh, nice quote. I particularly like: “it is consubstantial with human existence, it comes before language and discursive reason.” Oooh, I love big words! CONSUBSTANTIAL. That makes you just want to chew on it awhile, like homemade whole grain bread.

      One of my children told me the other day that after she has had a dream and wakes up, she lies in her bed and continues the dream and has all sorts of adventures. I was pleasantly surprised to hear it and told her that Jungians call this “active imagination” and that it’s an ability and gift that we get in childhood and then most people leave behind–but which should never be left behind and which she should guard. I had forgotten until she mentioned it that up until I was a young adult, I too could dream my dreams forward (and did), with many wondrous effects. I used to get excited about going to bed to dream.

      That was a long time ago.

      • I am jealous. Only in my adulthood and I had very few wonderful dreams, they consisted of spring green grass as far as the eye can see and dr. seussian hills, and blue skies, I think that one even had some ants. I don’t remember what the other good dream was. But, nightmares and strangeness (not good strangeness), and night terrors have been my night companions.

      • What do you think of mystical puddles with stepping stones and wondrous pebbles, it’s a shallow pools of water, crystal clear, under a tree, in a place that you love and you have discovered in a forgotten off beat path, in another country that you love and miss dearly. I had a dream like that and when I woke, I was so sad. I had two more dreams trying to get back to that place but each time I was prevented from going there and the last one, I had been told a commissary had been built over it.

  2. Well, I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that it’s all right there already, and we really don’t have to do anything or go anywhere to see. You know, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and all.

  3. “It is high time we realized that it is pointless to praise the light and preach it if nobody can see it. It is much more needful to teach people the art of seeing.”

    I see Esau as a materialist, abandoning the spiritual that was his birthright. Which surely God would not favor. And which strikes me as the source of much of our inability to see the light in modern life.

    We just studied the parable of the prodigal son today. The nice part of that story is, the father always forgives and rejoices at the son’s return. We can give up or squander our birthright, but there will still be rejoicing if we “see the light” and come back.

    I think we can veil our souls as a defense against pain, and then we certainly cannot see the light clearly. It still lies in our power to remove that veil, and perhaps that is where the power of psychology comes in, to (re)teach us the art of seeing.

    • Heni, these comments are good. I see Esau in much the same way as you.

      Even if we unveil our souls and even if we manage to see clearly, what is it we think we will see? I’m reminded of a time when Jesus asked the people who came to see John the Baptist preach in the wilderness, “What did you go out to see?”

      What a great question.

  4. Eve(r),

    That no place that is every place once one starts to transition from living a life from the level of personality to that of the Self…let me be the camel transitioning physically improbable openings instead, please! It’s easier.

    The stories of Job, and Cinderella (the same story for all intents and purposes) have been useful maps—where one makes progress not by following the, seemingly, obvious and logical measures of success/progress but by sinking (and dying) deeper and deeper and further away from what would be believed is the common sense (i.e., pertaining to all, low, common; of almost no use to the individual) answer/solution, not by chasing it but by losing it; their path is the antithesis of success as defined in this country/culture. And, anyone who follows it will consider and be considered to have lost their mind.

    As I have written elsewhere, I am of late, of the sneaking suspicion that everything that has ever held me up, set me back, beat me down, thwarted my best laid plans, denied my greatest ambitions, been a burden, an obstacle/hurdle/impediment, travail, or shortcoming; everything that made me miserable or been a pain in my ass is my Self pushing me to become— you don’t build muscle lifting the easy weights. To steal, and possibly abuse, some of the Christian iconography, I think you are your cross, you can only become what you have been willing to carry, to suffer, to endure, to open yourself to; and possibly the only real tragedy is arriving at your Golgotha on your day and realizing that you could have carried a bigger, a better cross, a better Self; that instead of being hoisted up high for all to see as you transcend what used to be your limitations and boundaries your knees don’t even leave the ground. Sadly, crosses, especially carrying them, are not fashionable these days.

    “Defeat, my Defeat, my deathless courage,
    You and I shall laugh together with the storm,
    And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us,
    And we shall stand in the sun with a will,
    And we shall be dangerous.”

    —Khalil Gibran, The Madman

    Cresting, 2nd Wheel

    The sun fell below the horizon
    in the west—
    funny how it always does—
    painting the sky a warm, umber
    orange.
    His shadow rested on
    the cross
    to his back
    a deep blue in the fading light
    and he was surprised
    by how small it seemed now.
    It had seemed so much incredibly
    crushingly
    larger when he had first
    climbed up on it.
    Everything was still
    fresh in his mind
    yet he wasn’t sure
    how he had made it through
    the afterglow
    of the orgasms
    of pain
    quickly receding
    taking on the quality of belonging
    to someone else
    a fading dream
    no longer, not ever
    his.
    He decided
    he didn’t need
    it
    and if he did
    it would always be
    here.
    He turned back
    towards the horizon, fading
    melting into the sky—
    these days
    these elongated, angular, rusty
    and painful days…
    he’d never forget them
    (nor did he want to)
    they’d marked him
    they’d made him
    and he suspected that he’d never know
    any finer.

    Babel

    And they sat down
    in the watery ruins
    of that unimagined disaster
    and said,
    “Let us build again.
    Let us erect
    without
    a higher, taller, greater, grander
    identity.
    Let us assemble
    within
    the finest components of common sense,
    social conformity, and cultural duty.
    And let us fabricate
    all about
    a superior, more finely-tuned,
    highly-functional
    neurotic—
    the envy of all men
    through all time
    everywhere;
    for this is the way
    of the world.”

    • Librarian: “eve(r)” ??? That’s clever. That’s funny. And it makes me sigh and groan.

      Sighhhhhh. Grooooooooan.

      I decided yesterday or the day before that I don’t want to do this any more. I pretty much do not approve of offering myself to others in a sacrificial way that actually involves me suffering and giving up everything and standing there looking like some dumbfounded cow that is about to be hit in the head with a hammer and butchered. It sounds great in theory but in practice, I don’t appear to have what it takes. Nor do I have anything left for backtracking and rebuilding a “more finely-tuned, highly-functional neurotic–the envy of all men through all time everywhere.”

      Stuck is what I’d call that. Not a place one can stay.

  5. What I want to see fully is myself and to fully love myself as well, with compassion. I’m hopeful.

    Mamma Mia is a wonderfully sappy movie. I like sappy. What I loved about the end when the main characters are dressed up like ABBA and singing and laughing and they’re all middle aged, they all looked so free. Free to do as they pleased. Free to be silly. Free to try and who cares if they failed or succeeded, they just looked like they were enjoying themselves so much. That’s what I want.

    My job involved feeding people, changing diapers, wiping up poop, consoling anxious people, giving out/convincing people to take pills. It’s what I do at home as well. My work and my home life blur into one another. I need a separation. I can take care of Katie or I can take care of my patients, but am finding it too much to do both.

    As for awake people, where do they live? Because I’d like to visit them, maybe even live with them:) I don’t think leaving society for awhile would be a bad idea.

    • Where do awake people live? Haha, that’s funny. What a great question! It made me chuckle. I’ve met some in whole groups. I met a bunch of them when I went on my quest to find Jungians, and I expect I will find some as I begin my certificate program in Jungian studies. Or perhaps I will find some more highly evolved personas. I’ll report back!

      At any rate, it’s not easy to find them. I keep my eye peeled. And first (always) I check to see if I’m awake.

  6. A fantastic quote from Joseph Campbell’s “Pathways to Bliss”

    “I greatly admire the psychologist Abraham Maslow. As I was reading one of his books, however, I found a sort of value schedule, values that his psychological experiments had shown that people live for. He gave a list of five values: survival, security, personal relationships, prestige, and self-development. I looked at that list and I wondered why it should seem so strange to me. I finally realized that it struck me as strange because these are exactly the values that mythology transcends.

    Survival, security, personal relationships, prestige, self-development— in my experience, those are exactly the values that a mythically inspired person doesn’t live for. They have to do with the primary biological mode as understood by human consciousness. Mythology begins where madness starts. A person who is truly gripped by a calling, by a dedication, by a belief, by a zeal, will sacrifice his security, will sacrifice even his life, will sacrifice personal relationship, will sacrifice prestige, and will think nothing of personal development; he will give himself entirely to his myth. Christ gives you the clue when he says, “He that loseth his life for my sake will find it.”

    Maslow’s five values are the values for which people live when they have nothing to live for. Nothing has seized them, nothing has caught them, nothing has driven them spiritually mad and made them worth talking to. These are the bores. (In a marvelous footnote on an essay on Don Quixote, Ortega y Gasset once wrote, “A bore is one who deprives of us our solitude without providing companionship.””

    • Librarian, oh my. You cannot know how much I needed to read this today. It says outright what I have been intuiting for some time now in my own life. It is a very strange place to be in.

      There’s another quote of Jung’s I ran across this week while reading about Jacob and Esau (for reasons I hope I will write about soon), and it essentially says the same thing: you will die, you must die, and you will lose everything of value to you if you press on. I think that one just doesn’t appreciate what it will be like to lose the cares of a lifetime about what others did think, what they do think, what they will think, what they will say, or whether they will even love you any more.

      “Personal development.” What is it? The development of the persona? Or the person? So much I have seen in my own life was development of the persona (back to what you said about making a person’s seat more comfortable). Developing a higher evolved persona is not so difficult on the face of it. Developing one’s own person is a different matter. It does seem very raw, living this way; like living in another dimension.

      Anyway, I needed to read this today. Thank you for sharing it–especially also the quote by Gasset. It made me smile in an ironic sort of way.

  7. I’m scared sometimes that I’ll start to see and then back away, too terrified to go forward. What I long for is the ability to see fully and the compassion to embrace it all with love.

    I’ve been crying a lot lately, at odd times. Two days ago at work and then again today. This afternoon while watching the last song of “Mama Mia”, I was laughing and smiling, watching the cast sing Waterloo and then I started crying, wanting that freedom to sing and dance and laugh. I’m not trying to stop crying anymore, just stop and think about how I’m feeling and why. Part of it’s being alone, part of it is longing, part of it is fatigue, part of it is grief and another part, dealing with death and dying.

    I’m wanting to give up my role as caretaker, at work, at home, with my family, the world. Just not sure what I am if I’m not a caretaker. I guess I’ll see.

    • Deb, a part of me thinks that being able to “embrace it all with love” is a noble goal, and another part of me thinks this is impossible, the act of a god.

      Something about “Mama Mia” affected me strangely too, even though I also thought it one of the sappiest movies I’ve seen in awhile. Perhaps it was the illusion of female companionability, or something as simple as it was for you: the freedom to sing and dance and laugh. Some times during my life I am very sober and there doesn’t seem much to sing, dance, and laugh about. Other times are pure, unadulterated joy. But all the time I have this well of reality and solid self from which I draw and that part has some other way of living or being and I’m still grappling with that, trying to figure out how to live companionably with it, and I admit that I don’t know quite how. The best way I’ve found is having an ongoing inner dialogue or writing it… about it, to it, with it, from it. But I’m not very good at that and I’m digressing now.

      About caretaking. I don’t think we have to wait until we are not caretaking any more. For some of us, caretaking will end when we die. That’s too grim. What if we caretake ourselves? Isn’t that what not caretaking others actually means? We stop, take care of ourselves, breathe, do what we want, live our lives before we die?

      That’s what I think about these things. I really long to be with other awake and mature women right now and I am surrounded by people who are not any of those: awake, mature, or female. I feel that I’m starving and dying of thirst.

      What a pair we are. ;o)

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