|Jungian Psychology||Integral Deep Listening|
|Therapy is necessary||Practitioners do not diagnose or treat; they support access to emerging potentials, the application of their recommendations and teach tools for waking up.|
|The goal of treatment is individuation, the integration of opposites||Goal is a life directed by the priorities of life, not God, Self or ego|
|Integration of opposites generates the Self, which is individuation||No self; non-dual awareness; identity as a tool of life|
|Synthesis, via the integration of opposites the goal||Honoring and balancing of all three stages of the developmental dialectic (thesis, antithesis, synthesis)|
|Synthesis as individuation||Synthesis defined in Dream Sociometry as either positive preferences or transcendence of preferences|
|Two attitudes – introversion & extroversion||No correlates, but recognizes AQAL feminine and masculine developmental styles as well as interior and exterior quadrants of holons|
|Four functions (thinking, sensing, feeling, intuiting)||Six core qualities in seven octaves|
|symbols||perspectives phenomenologically accessed|
|Dream interpretation by those knowledgeable of symbolic meanings||Dream interpretation by interviewed emerging potentials (dream characters and the personifications of life issues)|
|Dreams as compensatory||Function of dreaming dependent on perspective of emerging potential you interview|
|Myths are externalized dreams||Life drama, including myths, is externalized dream|
|Dreams are internalized myths||Dreams, as well as waking life events are best viewed as wake-up calls|
|Dreams are prospective, teleological||Dreams have prospective & teleological characteristics|
|Dreams are mythic||Dreams are multi-perspectival|
|Personal unconscious||Does not use the concepts of unconscious, personal, collective or superconscious|
|Anima/animus||Anima/animus distinction not commonly found in interviews|
|Shadow||Shadow distinction not commonly found in interviews|
|Self||Self a marker on the way to contextually defined, collective identities|
|Fixations||Low scoring emerging potentials|
|Complexes||Oppositional patterns found in Dream Sociograms|
|Collective unconscious||Contexts; consensual patterns found in Dream Sociometry|
Is Jungian Psychology a Dream Yoga? If “dream yoga” is defined as a disciplined movement into lucidity in all states of consciousness, then Jungian psychology and therapy can be understood as a form of “waking up,” or movement into greater clarity, from the perspective of prepersonal and personal levels of development. This is because Jung’s analytic psychology has as its goal the integration of the self, and the self stops being the object and center of development past personal levels. Jungian therapy uses increased self-awareness, with emphasis on possibilities for future transformation as disclosed by symbols, particularly in dreams, but also in the sacred traditions of the world, to move the ego into more mature and integrated self-awareness.
What is Jungian Analysis? Jung states his method “…consists in a careful anamnesis or reconstruction of the historical development of the neurosis. The material elicited in this way is a more or less coherent sequence of facts told to the doctor by the patient, so far as he can remember them. He naturally omits many details which either seem unimportant to him or which he has forgotten. The experienced analyst who knows the usual course of neurotic development will put questions which help the patient to fill in some of the gaps. Very often this procedure by itself is of great therapeutic value, as it enables the patient to understand the chief factors of his neurosis and may eventually bring him to a decisive change of attitude.” “In addition to the favourable effect produced by the realization of previously unconscious connections, it is usual for the doctor to give some good advice, or encouragement, or even a reproof.”
When “human misery,” “dukkha,” “samsara,” or “karma,” are substituted for “neurosis,” we can see that Jung was attempting to wake people up out of suffering that kept them from finding and experiencing wholeness. Like Freudian psychoanalysis, Jungian analysis uses a medical model, starting with the collection of a history, then the arrival at a diagnosis (such as neurosis), and then on to treatment. Jung uses the therapist’s questions about history to promote patient insight. Traditional dream yogas focus on insight secondary to state openings, created by shamanistically-derived, meditational, mystical, or near death experiences. Integral Deep Listening (IDL) does not collect a history because both the subject and the interviewed emerging potentials already know it. Also, it is not the Practitioner’s job to diagnose, so there is no need to collect history to arrive at a diagnosis in IDL. The subject already has a diagnosis in mind in most cases; interviewed emerging potentials will add their own, which may be the same or very different.
Who makes the diagnosis? Traditionally, diagnoses are supplied by the religious or yogic conceptual framework of the particular dream yoga. For example, Tibetan dream yoga uses lamas and physicians to make diagnoses of dukkha, or suffering, due to ignorance, attachment and aversion and identification with the Twelve Nidanas, or the chain of causation of pratityasamupada, interdependent co-existence. Shamans typically diagnose spirit possession or interference. Medicine and psychiatry relies on highly trained practitioners to make diagnoses. IDL Practitioners focus on listening to the diagnoses provided by interviewed emerging potentials over the course of one or several interviews. These often indicate where and how a subject is stuck more effectively than their own account of their history provides, and certainly more effectively than any external general conceptual framework, whether provided by Jungian analysis, lucid dreaming, or some other dream yoga. IDL then compares the advice of interviewed perspectives with that of respected professionals and one’s own common sense in a process called “triangulation.”
Can IDL be used in conjunction with therapy and other treatment modalities? While IDL Practitioners do not diagnose or treat, IDL may be practiced by therapists who do, including Jungian analysts. There is no reason why it cannot be used in tandem with Jungian analysis, Tibetan dream yoga, shamanistic approaches to lucid dreaming, or Nidra yoga. Nevertheless, despite the fact that IDL can be and is used by some therapists within a model that uses diagnosis and treatment, neither are intrinsic to the method itself. While one can certainly point to the fact that interviewed dream characters and the personifications of life issues routinely diagnose and provide treatment recommendations, this is hardly “diagnosis and treatment” as commonly understood.
What is the role of the practitioner? Jung sees the role of an analyst as interpretive, whether of patient behavior or reported dreams. Traditional dream yogas, such as the Milam of Milarepa, rely on the interpretations of gurus, which follow from the cultural assumptions of Tibetan Buddhism and the Bon Tibetan tradition. IDL views the role of a Practitioner as a deep listener in the phenomenological tradition, a conductor of interviews, and a source of ongoing accountability in the application of those interview recommendations the student chooses to apply. While practitioners provide interpretations, this function is subordinated to the above three functions. In addition, Practitioners serve an educational role, providing information about the Drama Triangle, life scripting, cognitive distortions, and instruction in meditation and pranayama. While this role has overlaps with therapists, coaches, psychopomps, and gurus, it is primarily that of mirror and mentor.
What is the relationship between Jung’s personality theory and that of IDL? Jung’s basic conceptual structure for the workings of individuals is very different from that of traditional dream yogas as well as IDL. Building from Freud’s distinctions of ego, id and superego, Jung divides the self into ego and the unconscious, including the personal and collective unconscious, and the Self. Most dream yogas view the self as asleep, waking up primarily within altered states of consciousness and using those experiences of heightened wakefulness to become enlightened, or fully awake in all states of consciousness. IDL uses the term “ego” to refer either to narcissistic tendencies in individual behavior or more broadly, to prepersonal and personal developmental levels but not to vision-logic, transpersonal levels or the non-dual. IDL prefers to use the term, “waking identity” to refer to the conscious self, for several reasons. It does not want to imply meanings associated with the usages of Freud or Jung; “waking identity” is a neutral term; it refers to a state of consciousness; it implies that identity is malleable and that one can have identities that are other than one’s normal waking sense of who they are.
Why are the Conscious and Unconscious so important for Jung? Like Freud, this is probably Jung’s fundamental distinction, which supports the rest of his theory of personality. He states, “Man’s task is to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious.” Another way to say this is that man’s task is to expand his awareness, or to wake up. However, his formulation implies many things that simple reformulation does not, including repression, conflict, dualism, and a specific location of the “other,” that is, interior to humanity.
Why doesn’t IDL use “unconscious?” Interviewed emerging potentials rarely make or use this distinction. In addition, it creates two “things,” the states of consciousness and unconsciousness, out of two processes, awareness and unawareness. Jung’s “personal unconscious” and “universal unconscious” become “things” that contain other “things”: the persona, shadow, complexes, and fixations, anima, animus, the wise old man, fool, Self, and various other archetypes. Because things have independent beingness, an ontology is created, and consequently a study of the nature of these real “things” in consciousness.
But isn’t this a helpful distinction? This is the trick of language: by making distinctions, life is taken out of the flow of the moment and turned into permanent, real “things,” when no such things exist apart from language. Before you knew the word “tree,” you simply had an experience; there were no trees. They didn’t exist for you, because you had not differentiated them out of the barrage of sensory data until language gave you a tool to do so. Out of convenience, you learned to substitute the designation “tree” for an experience. You confused a linguistic map with the territory, your mistook your associations with people for undefined, undefinable experiences you filtered out by calling them this or that name. You mistook your thoughts about yourself and life for direct, uninterpreted, experience.
Learning to make distinctions is an important and necessary developmental step; without it you can’t think. However, once you learn this useful linguistic differentiation, if you remain unable to suspend this generally automatic and reflexive naming, it blocks your further development by limiting not only what you can perceive, but how you experience and what you experience. This is the problem with thinking about human psychology using “conscious and unconscious.” Like the name “tree,” distinguishing between conscious and unconscious is important, necessary, and useful until a particular developmental stage, generally termed “late personal.” Past that point, addiction to the reality of such linguistic fabrications keeps you from experiencing what your words and concepts point to. You only perceive what you have defined. Everything else that a tree is, everything else that it may offer you, as a holographic wormhole, remains shut off and unavailable to you.
To complicate things even more, the seeming independent beingness of “things,” “others,” and “self,” is also a trick of perspective. Something that looks autonomous from one perspective, like a dream monster, is seen to be both a projected fear and an emerging potential from other perspectives. Something that looks sacred from one perspective is matter-of-fact from another; something that looks transcendent and wholly “other” from one perspective becomes immanent and oneself from another. Considered in reverse, this is the process by which murder and abuse occurs. We make enemies and criminals wholly “other” so we can kill them. In both cases we project divinity or vileness onto some object of awareness instead of simply becoming that perspective and experiencing what life looks like from that point of view. Our resistance to doing so may be a reflection of our intolerance of our humanness; we cannot conceive that we could possibly contain all the beauty and ugliness that we see around us.
Who decides what is conscious? The distinction between consciousness and unconsciousness also implies that unconsciousness and unawareness are less desirable than consciousness and awareness, when we know that both unconsciousness and unawareness are necessary (sleep) and good (the ability to avoid distraction while driving, for instance). The distinction between consciousness and unconsciousness is hopelessly geocentric, in a psychological sense. Who decides what is conscious? You do. Who decides what is unconscious? You do. Who is this “you?” It is the particular perspective that you are currently taking. Because of the delusion of consistency of self-image, you imagine that the self that meditates or buys groceries is the same one that is disgusted at your inability to say “no” to that second helping of dessert, or which dreams dreams, when all these perspectives are quite distinct and autonomous. Closely examined, there is nothing unitary about them. The particular perspective that you are identified with at this moment makes the decision about what is conscious and what is not, or else someone else defines something into existence: “Are you aware that you are grinding your teeth?” “Are you aware that dreaming of missing teeth symbolizes your fear of displeasing others?” Everything is out of our awareness until or unless it becomes an object of some waking awareness. What this does is create a fundamental dichotomy between awareness and unawareness, a distinction that IDL uses, because it minimizes some of the problems mentioned above that arise with the use of “conscious” and “unconscious,” but which it views as also ontologically empty.
What is Jung’s Personal Unconscious? “The personal unconscious contains lost memories, painful ideas that are repressed (i.e., forgotten on purpose), subliminal perceptions, by which are meant sense-perceptions that were not strong enough to reach consciousness, and finally, contents that are not yet ripe for consciousness.” IDL views the concept of a personal unconscious as a waking projection and interpretation, rather than something intrinsic to the structure of personality or to dreams. While Jung divides unconsciousness into personal and collective aspects, neither interviewed emerging potentials or life itself do so.
What is Jung referring to when he uses the term “Shadow? For Jung, the “Shadow” involves unincorporated elements of the personal unconscious that are externalized in dreams and waking life as conflict. Jung coined this term to indicate hidden or unconscious aspects of self, both good and bad, which the ego has either repressed or never recognized. The shadow is composed for the most part of repressed desires and uncivilized impulses, morally inferior motives, childish fantasies and resentments, all those things about ourselves we are not proud of. “The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real.” These unacknowledged personal characteristics are often experienced in others through the mechanism of projection.
Why did Jung develop the concept of the shadow? for good and important reasons. For example, in The Philosophical Tree he says, “A man who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way and is in addition fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everything that he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outside as projections upon his neighbor.” Expanding on this approach in Psychology and Religion, Jung says, “If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow. Such a man has saddled himself with new problems and conflicts. He has become a serious problem to himself, as he is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against… Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world.”
Therefore, the function of the concept of Shadow for Jung essentially serves a similar purpose to karma in Hinduism: withdrawing blame and responsibility from others and instead making oneself accountable for one’s own assumptions, expectations, and feelings. In the developmental arc, this step is associated with a movement from childhood and adolescence to an adult moral sense that Kohlberg would associate with post-coventional morality and which usually does not emerge until early to mid-personal. However, when you are brought up within a culture that assumes such norms, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, the acceptance of such responsibility is a societal assumption from childhood. It is intended to protect children and adults from the problems associated with earlier stages of moral development. Therefore, from a moralistic sense, that is, learning to take responsibility for one’s own experience, “shadow” is subject to much of the same critique as karma.
There are several assumptions about “shadow” that Jung makes that IDL approaches differently.
First, “shadow” refers to aspects of self:
“To become conscious of (the shadow) involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real.” The function of this concept is responsibility through ownership, based on the idea that we are empowered only by that which we take as self-created, as a part of ourselves.
Second, “shadow” indicates dark, or unwanted aspects of self: “Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” “Taking it in its deepest sense, the shadow is the invisible saurian tail that man still drags behind him.” Jung is saying that the shadow is an evolutionary throw-back, a burden to be cast off: “We carry our past with us, to wit, the primitive and inferior man with his desires and emotions, and it is only with an enormous effort that we can detach ourselves from this burden. If it comes to a neurosis, we invariably have to deal with a considerably intensified shadow.”
The darkness of the shadow is not petty; it can be demonic: “It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism.”
Not only can it be neurotic and demonic, but also pathological and psychotic: “If the activation is due to the collapse of the individual’s hopes and expectations, there is a danger that the collective unconscious may take the place of reality. This state would be pathological. If, on the other hand, the activation is the result of psychological processes in the unconscious of the people, the individual may feel threatened or at any rate disoriented, but the resultant state is not pathological, at least so far as the individual is concerned. Nevertheless, the mental state of the people as a whole might well be compared to a psychosis.”
Third, “shadow” indicates repressed aspects of self: “Having a dark suspicion of these grim possibilities, man turns a blind eye to the shadow-side of human nature. Blindly he strives against the salutary dogma of original sin, which is yet so prodigiously true. Yes, he even hesitates to admit the conflict of which he is so painfully aware.”
Jung finds good reason for man’s repression of his shadow: “The change of character brought about by the uprush of collective forces is amazing. A gentle and reasonable being can be transformed into a maniac or a savage beast. One is always inclined to lay the blame on external circumstances, but nothing could explode in us if it had not been there. As a matter of fact, we are constantly living on the edge of a volcano, and there is, so far as we know, no way of protecting ourselves from a possible outburst that will destroy everybody within reach. It is certainly a good thing to preach reason and common sense, but what if you have a lunatic asylum for an audience or a crowd in a collective frenzy? There is not much difference between them because the madman and the mob are both moved by impersonal, overwhelming forces.” “Psychology and Religion”
What Jung means, when he speaks of “losing one’s shadow,” is its repression: “No, the demons are not banished; that is a difficult task that still lies ahead… Every man who loses his shadow, every nation that falls into self-righteousness, is their prey…. We should not forget that exactly the same fatal tendency to collectivization is present in the victorious nations as in the Germans, that they can just as suddenly become a victim of the demonic powers.”
“If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.” Here we see Jung’s basic theory of his method. You can’t fix personality dysfunction unless you bring repressed shadow to the surface: “… if such a person wants to be cured it is necessary to find a way in which his conscious personality and his shadow can live together.”
Fourth, recognition of one’s shadow involves confrontation.
“Whenever contents of the collective unconscious become activated, they have a disturbing effect on the conscious mind, and confusion ensues.” “Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the shadow and the world of darkness.” “To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light. Once one has experienced a few times what it is like to stand judgingly between the opposites, one begins to understand what is meant by the self. Anyone who perceives his shadow and his light simultaneously sees himself from two sides and thus gets in the middle.”
Notice that Jung’s “holy grail” is the finding and integration of “the self.”
How does IDL approach these four aspects of Jung’s “Shadow?” Interviewed dream characters and personifications of life issues do not usually see themselves as shadow, or elements of a personal unconscious. They generally are unincorporated because they are not listened to and their perspective on life is not integrated into the perceptual schema of the subject. Consequently, IDL does not view dream characters as personifications of shadow. That characters in dreams are unconscious, hidden, good, bad, or aspects of oneself, are assumptions that we make; interviewed emerging potentials do not normally make such assumptions.
Unlike Jung, IDL does not recognize any self to which “shadow” belongs. It does not belong to waking identity, for it is repressed, or disowned by it. To whom, then, does it belong, if it is not an aspect of who you think you are? Is it a part of who you are but you do not think you are? Jung’s classical answer, following Freud, is that it is part of an expanded, disowned identity that is then projected outward as delusional and conflictual relationships with the world. Jung’s understanding of shadow reflects the common psychological notion that dreams and life are about us. We come to terms with the Other for our own growth, not stopping to think that our existence is, from the perspective of life, like a dream. Nevertheless, we insist on maintaining a psychologically geocentric worldview. IDL trains us to break this habit of mind, to slowly outgrow a fixation on ourselves and our needs
Can this theory be tested? You are encouraged to do so. Cconduct your own interviews of yourself and others and draw your own conclusions. Take any of the words and concepts we discuss here, or any demonic dream character, “shadowy” characteristic of yourself, such as an addiction or something you are ashamed of, or some demonic world event, like 9/11. Interview it, using either the IDL dream or life issue protocol. What you will find is that yes, the character or element most likely does personify some aspect of yourself. However, as you get into the interview, you will most likely find that it embodies potentials that you do not possess. For example, in interviewing the “Ego,” I could see how it is a part of me and could respect it, but could not bring myself to feel intimidated or controlled by it. So yes, it is a part of me, and no, it is not a part of me. Similarly, in the interview with “the Unconscious,” I could see how it personified aspects of myself, many of which are unrecognized or disowned. However, as it transformed itself into Life, it became clear that it so completely transcended who I think I am as to no longer be considered a part of me and to make sense at the same time. The only way it could make sense at that point would be for me to experience myself as a part of it. If this is so, in what sense is this or any element “shadow?” In what sense does it belong to you, if it embodies potentials that you do not possess? Does it not make more sense to say that you belong to it, that you are an aspect of it?
Do interviewed skunks and blenders have identities, a sense of self? Like you and me, these interviewed emerging potentials have a sense of identity. They have a beingness that generally proves to be highly relevant and meaningful. However, interviewed emerging potentials have no permanent self-sense. They are imaginary perspectives that embody certain combinations of qualities and characteristics. When “shadow” elements are interviewed using IDL, they are found to be as much “not-self” as they are “self.” We are as likely to belong to them as they are to belong to us. Do they also have projections? Yes, in the form of the interpretations they make regarding experience. Doesn’t this also imply that they have a “shadow,” or repressed, dark, disowned sense of self? If so, is that not strange to contemplate that “shadow” has its own shadow? How could that be?
How does IDL approach Jung’s second point, involving the supposed darkness and demonic nature of these shadowy “self-aspects.” IDL interviewing generally demonstrates that such assumptions are our projections, even while dreaming, and are not substantiated either by interviews of the character itself or by other elements from within the dream or associated life situation. On the contrary, their intentions are generally in the service of shocking us awake. This is hardly a dark, demonic, neurotic, or psychotic intention. In the interview of the Ego, above, the Queen certainly did her best to be fearful and intimidating. Instead of transforming into love and light, Ego saw itself more like the Queen in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves than the way in which she came across to me, more like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland. So was this a failure to accurately portray the Shadow in its authentic nature or, was it an example of what can happen when you deeply listen to some personification of what you consider to be your own shadow?
How does IDL view the repression and disownership of Jung’s third point? IDL recognizes both, but shares the focus that interviewed characters emphasize in countless interviews: what is important is not what is repressed and disowned, or what is not yet recognized or owned, but whether or not we respectfully listen to them. When you put focus on what you fear, that is on “repressed shadow,” you amplify your fear and shadow, in the hope that by doing so you will overcome the repression and generate an “integrated self.” However, what generally happens is that you get a socially enculturated self that is a thoroughgoing product of the best of prevailing groupthink. “Integration” ends up meaning “normal,” which is a frightening thought, considering the state of reality generated by contemporary “normal” humans, including the best and the brightest. IDL interviewing allows that which is feared to be heard on its own terms; if it wants to transform, that is respected; if it wants to stay the same, or become even more fearful, that is also respected. Interviewed characters themselves generally do not focus on the feared, repressed, or disowned. Even when they are stuck in the Drama Triangle they rarely see themselves as persecutors, but instead as angry or depressed victims. They focus on what is not yet recognized or owned and what is attempting to be born into consciousness.
Jung’s fourth point about the shadow is that it requires confrontation. Does IDL agree? The shadow represents resistance: “Although, with insight and good will, the shadow can to some extent be assimilated into the conscious personality, experience shows that there are certain features which offer the most obstinate resistance to moral control and prove almost impossible to influence. These resistances are usually bound up with projections, which are not recognized as such, and their recognition is a moral achievement beyond the ordinary. While some traits peculiar to the shadow can be recognized without too much difficulty as one’s personal qualities, in this case both insight and good will are unavailing because the cause of the emotion appears to lie, beyond all possibility of doubt, in the other person.”
Why not simply call shadow resistance instead of postulating an imaginary entity residing in an imaginary place in consciousness? Why not simply interview the resistance? For example, in the following quote (as well as in all the previous ones), substitute “resistance” for “shadow”: “It is a therapeutic necessity, indeed, the first requisite of any thorough psychological method, for consciousness to confront its resistance. In the end this must lead to some kind of union, even though the union consists at first in an open conflict, and often remains so for a long time. It is a struggle that cannot be abolished by rational means. When it is willfully repressed it continues in the unconscious and merely expresses itself indirectly and all the more dangerously, so no advantage is gained. The struggle goes on until the opponents run out of breath. What the outcome will be can never be seen in advance. The only certain thing is that both parties will be changed.”
How does IDL avoid or minimize this dilemma of union or open conflict? By interviewing conflict and resistance IDL takes perspectives that are not in conflict and experience no resistance. There is, however, a major, observable resistance in many people to doing interviews; if they do them, there is a major, observable resistance to them applying the recommendations in their waking life to test the method to see if the benefits it claims exist. Instead, most prefer to draw conclusions about the process without ever having experienced it, or else, if having experienced it, never having worked at applying its recommendations to see what the results will be. Why so much resistance? Here is Jung’s explanation. We have substituted “resistance” for shadow; see if you think it fits: “With a little self-criticism one can see through the resistance-so far as its nature is personal. But when it appears as an archetype, one encounters the same difficulties as with anima and animus. In other words, it is quite within the bounds of possibility for a man to recognize the relative evil of his nature, but it is a rare and shattering experience for him to gaze into the face of absolute evil.”
As a methodology, IDL does not generate experiences of this duality between personal and collective good and evil. In either case, when conflict and resistance are interviewed, two things happen: you become one with that good or evil; you are no longer gazing into its face. You are that goodness or that evil, and by becoming it, you transcend the categories of good and evil. Consequently, you access the potentials it personifies; it becomes one with you. In the process what you projected is reclaimed and reincorporated into an expanded sense of who you are. It is no longer a threat. Absolute evil becomes just one more emerging potential for you to grow into.
However, it would be as true to say that you become one with it; you are incorporated into it. The dream terror does not simply become you; you become it. This realization is what demolishes the self-sense; it gives practical, duplicatable evidence that you are transparent and that every perspective is the transformative axis mundi.
IDL interviewing would be a process of what Jung would call, “confronting the shadow,” but this is not an accurate description. It is more appropriately called “listening to wake-up calls.” These may be perceived as potentials or resistances. What is the source of this resistance?
Most people think they know their own minds; they listen to their own thoughts all the time and know them only too well. They feel their feelings regularly and are not impressed with the prospect of getting in touch with them. They do not understand that IDL is not at all about listening to their thoughts and feelings; it is about listening to perspectives that often diverge from their thoughts and feelings in unexpected ways. However, even if people understand this rationally, most are self-critical; they are sure that what they will hear will only amplify their own self-persecution. They are sure they know their own minds and they have low self-esteem. The last thing they need is a “piling on” on top of the abuse they are already giving themselves! In addition, most people are unconvinced that anything useful is going to come out of themselves; they need to consult a guru or access some knowledge in some other state of consciousness.
Breaking through all this resistance is a challenge. How did I do it? Curiosity. I had been curious about dreams for almost twenty years before I developed Dream Sociometry in 1980. The results I got were so different from what I had learned from Cayce, Freud, Jung, Perls, and other sources, and so unexpected, that I was fascinated. Therefore I would say that my intellectual curiosity overcame my skepticism, self-doubt, and self-criticism. This is generally a personal level developmental aptitude, but even small children naturally possess curiosity. If it is supported, it will ripen into reason.
Others will break through their resistance because of the pain of repetitive nightmares or life trauma. However, what I have observed is that even with people who have been haunted with nightmares for years and find that they are quickly eliminated and stay gone, that few people continue to work with the process. My conclusion is that most people have worked hard at building a strong sense of self, if they are not still in the process of doing so. They have considerable investment in their view of the world and the perspectives that support it. While they want to grow, they want to stay in control of their growth process. IDL is a process of letting go and trusting, repeatedly, to crazy, bizarre perspectives that are obviously illusory and imaginary. This not only goes against socialization, but rationality. In addition to not winning friends and status, and seeming irrational, it can feel threatening. It can feel like giving up control. Consequently, many people will simply say, “I already knew that.” They do not realize that IDL is not about insight, like many approaches to therapy and dream interpretation, or about cathartic access to other states through emotional release. Instead, it is about aligning waking priorities with those of one’s life compass. We may already know the recommended priorities; however, prioritizing them and following them are the salient differences.
Jung attempts to sell us on the benefits of confronting our resistances (shadow): “This process of coming to terms with the Other in us is well worth while, because in this way we get to know aspects of our nature which we would not allow anybody else to show us and which we ourselves would never have admitted.” While this is indeed true, it is a hard sell for many. People have good reasons why they will not admit to themselves what they know. It is sad when we refuse to break through this shell of resistance, because when we do we find we grow in confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing.
IDL has found that respect, as demonstrated by deep listening, in an integral way, eliminates the need for confrontation and the defensive, fear-based stance that confrontation Jung recommends often implies. While it is possible to confront without fear or defensiveness, it is not easy, nor is it likely. Most of us imagine we are confronting without fear or defensiveness, but that belief rarely bears up under close examination. Waking up and enlightenment involve growth into the core qualities and perspectives of life; these usually do not require confrontation, other than the challenging of the logic of the statements elements make when interviewed or in questioning the nature and purpose of its recommendations. So now let’s hear what Shadow itself, or at least my fantasy of Shadow, has to say about all this…
Interview With Shadow
To do such an interview as authentically as possible, it should deal with something about which I feel guilt, shame, or failure about. What comes to mind is cheating on my x-wife. Now I could give all kinds of reasons, excuses, explanations, or rationalizations for why and how all that came about, but that would be beside the point. Whether my standards were realistic or appropriate or not, I didn’t live up to them in that instance and now, some ten years after, I wish I had handled things differently. So I suspect most readers would consider that to be an authentic topic for an interview with shadow.
“So, guilt, shame, what shape would you like to take?”
Guilt/Shame: “It may not be very creative, but I’ll just be your shadow, OK?”
“You mean the one I see when the sun is out, combined with Jung’s psychological concept? OK…So Shadow, what do you like best about yourself?”
Shadow: “I like that I am a mysterious, haunting presence, lurking in the background, that you can forget for a while, but that never completely goes away. It means that I have the power to command your attention and to make you feel how I want you to feel.”
“So, Shadow, how do you want me to feel?”
“Bad, of course! Shame! Guilt! Self-critical!”
Shadow: “So you won’t forget! So you will remember! So you won’t do it again!”
“Ah! I think I understand. Your function is to protect me from a repeat by making me feel so bad that I won’t do it again?”
“Shadow, it sounds to me as if you are just my critical parent voice that wants me to be ‘nice’ and socially appropriate, and that persecutes me when I’m not.”
Shadow: “Yes, that’s right. I’m pretty much the internalized voice of your parents telling you to be respectful, follow the rules, be a good boy, play nice, be fair, and then people will like you and treat you OK, because you live up to their expectations.”
“So why should I listen to an internal voice that is just playing the role of persecutor in the Drama Triangle? Doesn’t that just mean that I will feel the victim and will seek somebody or something to rescue me from you?”
Shadow: “I agree; it’s a waste of time! But it’s your dream; you write the rules; I’m just a bit player following my script.”
“Hmmmm….so it sounds like you are saying you don’t want the role of Shadow.”
Shadow: “Would you? Think about it. No life of your own. Always lurking in darkness. The only time you get air time is in the role of persecutor. Not so much fun.”
“Makes sense to me. So Shadow, if you don’t want to be Shadow, what do you want to do? Who or what would you prefer to be?”
Shadow: “Air! I know it sounds bland, but that’s OK with me, because I have had enough of being stuck in C-grade soap opera melodrama. If I could be air, I would be free! I could go anywhere I wanted and not be captive or controlled, and not have to be a prisoner of somebody’s trite, self-centered little self-pity party!”
“That’s not a very nice thing to say about me and my issue, Shadow. I not only hurt my X; I really pissed her off. And she got one of my sisters to not want to have anything to do with me!”
Shadow: “So what do you want me to do about it? Be your shadow and haunt you for the rest of your life? I thought you said I could be AIR!!! Sounds like you don’t want to let me go; sounds like you need me around to persecute you.”
“That’s pretty harsh, Shadow/Air, but I see your point. Do I want to outgrow my need to persecute myself and stay in drama or do I want to stay a whiny, self-persecuting victim?”
Air: “Hey; it’s none of my business. I would only say, totally apart from whether or not you want to love and respect yourself, how about considering me and my feelings? Isn’t that what your work is supposed to be about anyway? If you are going to listen to me and respect me, then you will set me free and let me make my own way in the world.”
“I hear you, but I forget! What can I do to remind myself, to catch me if I start doing this Shadow number on myself?”
Air: “I recommend that you use thoughts of your X-wife and that period of your past as a que to switch and to become me.”
“Air, I can see where that makes sense and I will work at it. However, I have another question for you. You are not so different from the Life that the Unconscious that I interviewed earlier turned into. How come?
Air: “I can only speak for myself, but perhaps it is a common theme that wants to emerge in your life. Maybe it’s like interviewing a couple of characters in one dream that agree with each other; maybe we are two perspectives within you own life dream that happen to agree pretty much with each other.”
“OK Air. I think I’ve gotten the message. So what I have heard is that this shadow business is pretty pathetic. It’s a way for me to abuse myself, basically. It’s something you can justify only if you feel you deserve abuse. This shadow only exists because we assign it the role of the Queen’s scepter, used to whack ourselves and others with. However, once we shift and take the perspective of Shadow, it feels abused and wants a life. It wants freedom and an end to pointless slavery.”
“So if this were a wake-up call from my life compass it would be that this entire business of “shadow” is delusional nonsense created out of self-abuse and needs to be outgrown. It also says that life doesn’t care whether you had an affair or whether your X chose to be happy, sad, scared, or angry, or what your sister did or thinks, and you have a lot more important things to think about, like what’s for dinner.”
What does this interview say about the usefulness of the concept of Shadow? It does not deny that it has some descriptive usefulness or reality at a level of development through which everyone must pass: emotional drama that is due to parental scripting in our early life. However, it gives reasons why it is not a helpful or useful concept, even if it fits and makes sense. It contends that the concept of shadow tends to keep people stuck in self-abuse. While it may be a useful concept to learn and use in order to understand and recognize drama, once that is done, the recommendation is to outgrow the concept.
So is the interview simply echoing what I think? Of course! But how did I evolve to thinking in such a way? Largely by doing countless interviews both with myself and others over some forty years. So it is a chicken and egg question, in which I have taken on a perspective that has been taught to me by practicing deep listening to interviewed emerging potentials – not the other way around.
Jung states, “The collective unconscious contains the whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution, born anew in the brain structure of every individual.” “The collective unconscious–so far as we can say anything about it at all–appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious… We can therefore study the collective unconscious in two ways, either in mythology or in the analysis of the individual.”
Jung is undoubtedly correct when he talks about the psychic inheritance of man. We know, for instance, that reactivity to an image of a spider occurs in infants and appears to be innate. We also know that imagery emerges before language and probably before emotions. For example, cats, which probably don’t have many or at least very complicated emotions when they are killing birds or mice, most likely have dreams that are vividly visual. This implies that visual recognition is a very archaic sensory phenomena that exists in all dreaming animals. It would make sense that there would be a response to images that are associated with evolutionary adaptation.
IDL follows Wilber in noting that the collective quadrants are wholes of which individual elements are parts. As such, they are contexts. Consequently, just as “shadow” can be replaced by “resistance” and thereby reduce some of the metaphysical and ontological difficulties that arise with “shadow,” so substitution of “unconscious” by “context” can accomplish much the same here. The advantage is that “context” does not infer a place, nor a relationship to awareness or consciousness. Instead, it simply implies a whole without implying that it cannot be a member of yet a greater whole.
IDL views Jung’s collective unconscious as one way of understanding the interior collective, or cultural inheritance of individual and group holons. This is the realm of culture, and therefore of mythological, dream, and waking interpretations, worldviews, and life schemas. Just as individuals have wake-up calls all around them in every state of consciousness that they can tap as emerging potentials, so groups, societies, and civilizations are surrounded by wake-up calls that personify generally unrecognized emerging potentials.
While Jung refers to these as “spiritual,” probably because he links them to the sacred mythological traditions of human history, IDL views this as an example of Jung’s elevationism. There is nothing intrinsically either sacred or secular about collective contexts, nor is there anything that is not capable of being viewed as either sacred or secular, depending on the interpretive context that is being used. This is another example of IDL’s preference for the minimization of assumptions and characterizations when possible, in favor of clarity and objectivity, attempting to find a middle way between reductionism and elevationism.
To a greater or lesser extent, interviewed emerging potentials share this collective culture centered on waking up. Most interviewed perspectives are unitary, even if they represent a group perspective, like a herd of elephants or a star cluster. They are rarely experienced as collective even when they are universal, collective forms such as the white light of an NDE, a herd of buffalo, or the ocean. For example, if you interview a Marian apparition, like the one that appeared at Lourdes, you don’t have a collective experience; you have an “I-Thou” encounter between two perspectives, even though a Marian apparition would be classified by Jung as an archetype of the collective unconscious. The same occurs with interviews of UFOs or extraterrestrials, which Jung would also classify as expressions of the collective unconscious. While each interviewed character expresses the unique cultural orientation of the student, and through them the cultural values in which they are embedded, it also expresses its own unique relationship to the culture of waking up. This culture is not part of any collective unconscious because it has not been birthed yet; it is an emerging potential, a culture in the process of being born, rather than a snapshot of historical, collective, or genetic scripting.
The IDL correlate to Jung’s collective unconscious are shared perspectives among interviewed emerging potentials. These are most clearly observed in the patterns of preferences in relationship to one another as depicted in dream sociograms. When IDL interviews a dream character, the personification of a waking life issue, or treats a world myth or historical event as a cultural dream and interviews some part of it, the perspective of some individual element is accessed. Often, in fact usually, the character presents a context that transcends and includes one’s own. Because it is broader, the implication is that it incorporates more aspects of self, and that therefore it is collective. However, this is an inference.
Jung states that “Psychologically…the archetype as an image of instinct is a spiritual goal toward which the whole nature of man strives; it is the sea to which all rivers wend their way, the prize which the hero wrests from the fight with the dragon.” An archetype is a general or universal symbolic motif that remains constant across cultures and the dreams of individuals. “We can never legitimately cut loose from our archetypal foundations unless we are prepared to pay the price of a neurosis, any more than we can rid ourselves of our body and its organs without committing suicide. If we cannot deny the archetypes or otherwise neutralize them, we are confronted, at every new stage in the differentiation of consciousness to which civilization attains, with the task of finding a new interpretation appropriate to this stage, to connect the life of the past that still exists in us with the life of the present, which threatens to slip away from it.”
Jung is framing cultural contexts in instinctual, spiritual, and mythic terms, just as he does the collective unconscious. This is not surprising, as for Jung archetyes reside in the collective unconscious. What we know is that there are repetitive motifs throughout cultures and world religions. Mircea Eliade’s classic, Patterns in World Religions is one of the best demonstrations of the universality of repetitive motifs that are given sacred and symbolic meanings.
IDL understands Jungian archetypes as individually and culturally projected ideals or “Platonic Forms.” They are products of the perspective of individual selves or collectives of selves during one lifetime or over the course of civilizations. It does not assume that these dream or waking motifs are symbolic. It does not view them as symbols in need of interpretation. Instead, it views them as projections which can be withdrawn through deep listening and as wake up calls in need of same. We can project our own meaning onto universal motifs, as we do when we assume they are symbols and interpret them, or we can suspend our assumptions and allow them to interpret themselves. Which approach is more likely to provide an interpretation that transcends and includes our own?
What does it mean to assume that an image is archetypal. Doesn’t it basically mean that it is collective? Jung would add that it is sacred and mythic, but basically we are talking about wake-up calls that are recognizable to all humans. Jung wants to separate out sacrted and mythic wake-up calls as particularly important wake-up calls. IDL invites you to test this theory. Interview dog saliva, coffee, or toothpaste and decide for yourself whether they are more or less “archetypal” than angels, the sun, crosses, and circles.
Because of issues related to symbols and symbolic interpretation noted above, the language of archetypes is generally not found in IDL, even when considering patterns of shared expressions by a number of emerging potentials, whether these arise out of dreams, waking life, or cultural myth. Instead, it does its best to allow the presence of each interviewed character to be experienced in its fullness, as a conveyor of its particular quantum of life force, so that to some small degree there might be an opportunity for hierophany, kratophany, or practical instruction, in the place of interpretation.
Notice that archetypes are an inference that is generally not made either by traditional dream yogas or by experiencers of altered states of consciousness, such as mystical and near death experiences and lucid dreaming. One rarely says during these experiences, “That angel/teacher/animal is an archetype!” Instead, there is a sensory immersion in it and such interpretations generally come only after the experience.
These archetypes are unconscious, universal compensations for gender role stereotyping by the persona and ego. If you are male, you can access a compensatory female aspect of the unconscious, called the “anima.” If you are female, you can access a compensatory male aspect of the unconscious, called the “animus.” The brilliance of this formulation lies in Jung’s understanding that all humans aim toward androgeny, the conjunction of opposites in gender identity. What that does in turn is take the focus off layers of sexual and gender cultural scripting and free people up to be who they are, without defining their identity in terms of gender if they do not want to. This is an extraordinarily freeing awareness for anyone, but particularly for adolescents.
Interviewed emerging potentials are generally androgenous. They rarely demonstrate strong gender identification. When they are not androgynous, they still tend to be more so than the subject of the interview. Because Jung’s important distinction between male and female aspects of personal consciousness is not commonly expressed by emerging potentials it is not used by IDL. They typically do not provide compensations for the gender preferences of waking identity. Instead, they regard the distinction itself largely with irrelevance, which makes sense, since while perspectives inhabit bodies and the gender of those bodies can be components of their identities, perspectives themselves are relatively distinct, separate, and objectified from bodies and gender. For many people, who live in a world in which gender roles are central to identity, getting in touch with perspectives for which this is not an issue can feel like a major liberation. Consequently, IDL has been shown to be very effective with people struggling with gender issues.
Why doesn’t IDL use the term “unconscious?” The concept of the unconscious implies psychological geocentrism, meaning the idea that experience orbits around selves that are conscious. Is that accurate? Unconscious for whom? Unconscious from what perspective? The answer to these questions is, “oneself,” or as Freud and Jung would say, the ego. This creates is a self-centered psychology. What is conscious and unconscious is defined by one’s waking sense of self, exactly the perspective that is stuck, limited, in pain, and therefore least likely to have the objectivity to make healthy decisions. This is like the drunk searching for his keys underneath the streetlamp because “that’s where the light is.” When the most dysfunctional part of yourself defines reality and the terms of the search for the truth, it can only see and will only see truth that matches its definitions. But because its definitions are partial due to its limited perspective, the ego condemns itself to a Sysiphean, futile task.
What is Jung’s “Persona?” For Jung the persona is the idealized sense of yourself that you present to others. “The persona is . . . a functional complex that comes into existence for reasons of adaptation or personal convenience.” “The persona is that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is.” “It is, as its name implies, only a mask of the collective psyche, a mask that feigns individuality, making others and oneself believe that one is individual, whereas one is simply acting a role through which the collective psyche speaks.”
Originally, the word persona meant a mask worn by actors to indicate the role they played. On this level, the persona is both a protective covering and an asset in communicating with other people. Society depends on interactions between people through the persona. However, the consequences of identifying with a persona are that we lose sight of who we are without a protective covering; our reactions are predetermined by collective expectations (we do and think and feel what our persona “should” do, think and feel); those close to us complain of our emotional distance and we cannot imagine life without it.
“When we analyze the persona we strip off the mask, and discover that what seemed to be individual is at bottom collective; the persona was only a mask of the collective psyche. The persona is nothing real: it is a compromise between individual and society as to what a man should appear to be. He takes a name, earns a title, exercises a function, he is this or that. In a certain sense all this is real, yet in relation to the essential individuality of the person concerned it is only a secondary reality, a compromise formation, in making which others often have a greater share than he.” What is interesting about this quote from Jung is that he nails it when he says that, “the persona was only a mask of the collective psyche.” However, instead of recognizing the essential collectivity of individual human consciousness, as both Buddhism and IDL do, Jung continues to look for an “essential individuality.”
How does IDL use the concept of persona? IDL uses this very helpful Jungian concept to refer to the social and cultural roles with which we identify and which generally have little, if anything, to do with the priorities of our life compass. “The demands of propriety and good manners are an added inducement to assume a becoming mask. What goes on behind the mask is then called ‘private life.’ This painfully familiar division of consciousness into two figures, often preposterously different, is an incisive psychological operation that is bound to have repercussions on the unconscious.” While there is no doubt that you get to a more authentic presentation of individuality when you remove persona, that individuality is multiperspectival, and manifests according to context, for instance in the collective identity that dream characters present.
IDL does not treat persona as a problem to be corrected or a fraud to be eliminated; instead, it focuses on trying on perspectives that are more effective, adequate, adaptive, and satisfying. Personas remain, but they are used for different functions than previously. Instead of being phony, idealized defenses, they become tools for improved communication, shifting according to the levels of development of others, to not only respect and listen to where they are, but to speak in a way that is more likely to be understood and appreciated. Personas become subjects of cosmic humor, like masks at a masquerade, in which the fun is in both the seriousness and obviousness of the fraud.
How does Jung use the concept of ego? Jung views the ego as the central complex in the field of consciousness. Knowledge of the ego-personality is often confused with self-understanding. “The ego, the subject of consciousness, comes into existence as a complex quantity which is constituted partly by the inherited disposition (character constituents) and partly by unconsciously acquired impressions and their attendant phenomena.” “Anyone who has any ego-consciousness at all takes it for granted that he knows himself. But the ego knows only its own contents, not the unconscious and its contents. People measure their self-knowledge by what the average person in their social environment knows of himself, but not by the real psychic facts which are for the most part hidden from them. In this respect the psyche behaves like the body, of whose physiological and anatomical structure the average person knows very little too.”
“In the process of individuation, one of the initial tasks is to differentiate the ego from the complexes in the personal unconscious, particularly the persona, the shadow and anima/animus. A strong ego can relate objectively to these and other contents of the unconscious without identifying with them.” The development of a strong self-concept involves differentiating our sense of self from others and from our emotions. We still feel, only we no longer are our feelings. This sense of self is rather like the adolescent self that largely knows who and what it is in terms of what it is not, thereby connecting itself to its roots through its reactivity to them and its oppositional choices. For IDL, most people never get beyond a self that is a mixture of cultural scripting and opposition to cultural scripting; neither have anything to do with the priorities of their life compass, represented by their emerging potentials.
Psychodynamic therapies have tended to define normalcy as “healthy ego functioning.” The problem here is that normalcy is generally defined by society, not by one’s life compass. “Healthy ego functioning” can correspond to social adaptation, which may have nothing at all to do with living a life in alignment with the priorities of life itself.
What is the ego? One way of answering that question is to ask the ego itself! Anyone can do so, and if you do, you will get different answers than you will find here, answers that are tailor made for your level of development and designed to help you to wake up and move forward.
An Interview With Ego
“Ego, I imagine you as a screaming two or three year old, maybe like the one that lives upstairs, who stomps around early in the morning, like a young stegosaurus, and who likes to scream to get what she wants. I will imagine you looking like Lucy, of ‘Peanuts’ fame, who is forever pulling the football out from under Charlie Brown, when she isn’t playing psychiatrist. Will you please describe yourself and what life is like from your point of view?”
Ego: “I don’t think you are being fair at all. I don’t see myself at all like that! I am a queen on her throne, and not just ANY queen! I am the Queen of the WORLD! And everybody does what I want when I want or I WHACK them with my jewel-encrusted scepter!”
Hmmmm…OK…I am impressed, I guess, but since you are an imaginary part of me that I made up, I am more amused by you than scared. And while I might humor you, I don’t plan to allow you to rule my life because I don’t respect your authority.”
Queen: “I can see you require a good WHACKING! Come over here…”
“How can you whack me with your scepter if I think you are imaginary and don’t feel pain from imaginary scepters?”
Queen: “Well, you SHOULD listen to me, because I’m the Queen! And I will throw a fit, a temper tantrum until you do!!”
“How about if we just sorta move on? What do you like best about yourself, Queen?”
Queen: “I like that I am the Queen of the World and am ALL POWERFUL and that everybody has to do what I say because I am strong, right, beautiful, and PERFECT!”
Is there anything you dislike about yourself, Queen?”
“Having to put up with insolent, disrespectful fools like you! Other than that, no, what’s there to dislike when you’re perfect?”
“What part of me do you most closely represent, Queen?”
Queen: “I don’t represent any part of you! I am real and you are my subject! OBEY!”
Queen, if you could change in any way you wanted, would you?
Queen: “No. I like staying imaginary, because I can be all-powerful. I want my reality to stay imaginary too, so I can control it and make life turn out the way I want.”
“Queen, how would you score yourself zero to ten in all six core qualities?”
Queen: “All tens, of course, since I’m perfect!”
“Queen, if I scored like you do, how would my life be different?”
Queen: “You would be perfect, of course! What a stupid question!”
“Queen, if you were in charge of my life, how would you live it differently?”
Queen: “You would have no self-doubt because you would know you were right. You would both command and demand the obedience of all others because you are right and perfect. You would not tolerate conflict, disloyalty, or imperfection. When you whacked people with your scepter it would only be an expression of your compassion, your caring to teach your subjects and those who are imperfect.”
“Hmmmm…OK…So when would you suggest that I become you and think, feel, and act like you do?”
Queen: “Whenever you want to get your way, to win, to be right, and to be perfect!”
“Thank you, Queen!”
So…what have I heard myself say? That my ego is selfish, narcissistic, grandiose, and believes that it is real and in control! What do I think is the wake-up call from my life compass here? That no matter who you are or how much you have grown, you always have the option of becoming a three-year old again, for better or for worse, and it is wise not to forget that is a genuine possibility.
There comes a point in development when regression to a three-year old is more trouble than it is worth. You don’t regress not because you don’t want to admit you have a screaming, narcissistic three-year-old inside you, but because becoming it just isn’t much fun any more. It doesn’t work. That is how the entire concept of a separate self that is in opposition to everything and everybody feels as boundaries dissolve. The idea of “ego” loses its functionality; you don’t need to develop a separate self-sense any more, nor do you need to protect or defend it. Instead, what you need to do is use it, without investing any of yourself into it. It is at this point that “ego,” mature or otherwise, becomes no longer conducive to enlightenment.
What is Jung’s concept of the Self? The Self for Jung is the archetype of wholeness and the regulating center of the psyche, a transpersonal power that transcends the ego, and the product of individuation. “The self is not only the centre, but also the whole circumference which embraces both conscious and unconscious; it is the centre of this totality, just as the ego is the centre of consciousness.”
“As an empirical concept, the self designates the whole range of psychic phenomena in man. It expresses the unity of the personality as a whole. But in so far as the total personality, on account of its unconscious component, can be only in part conscious, the concept of the self is, in part, only potentially empirical and is to that extent a postulate. In other words, it encompasses both the experienceable and the inexperienceable (or the not yet experienced)… It is a transcendental concept, for it presupposes the existence of unconscious factors on empirical grounds and thus characterizes an entity that can be described only in part.”
We have seen that IDL does not use the concept of Self. Wholeness is not constellated around any archetype. Like a holograph, every place is the center, containing the whole. Any and every image can and does serve this purpose, for those who are trained to do so. For IDL, the unconscious is not a place that has contents; it simply indicates what your present identity is currently unaware of. When it becomes aware of this or that, consciousness expands to include it. Normally, these expansions are not experienced as such, because they have lost the salience of first exposure.
While Jung sees the self as “the whole range of psychic phenomena in man,” IDL sees experience not as residing within a self, but rather the self as one’s current perceptual framework, one which is arbitrary and which is seen as individual the more it walls itself of from life through identification with its physical, mental, cultural, and social filters. Its individuality and self-sense evaporates as it more clearly and completely aligns with life through identification with the priorities of one’s life compass.
“The self appears in dreams, myths, and fairytales in the figure of the “supraordinate personality,” such as a king, hero, prophet, saviour, etc., or in the form of a totality symbol, such as the circle, square, quadratura circuli, cross, etc. When it represents a complexio oppositorum, a union of opposites, it can also appear as a united duality, in the form, for instance, of tao as the interplay of yang and yin, or of the hostile brothers, or of the hero and his adversary (arch-enemy, dragon), Faust and Mephistopheles, etc. Empirically, therefore, the self appears as a play of light and shadow, although conceived as a totality and unity in which the opposites are united.”
In this understanding, Jung not only carries forward the presumptions of Freud, but of most historical dream interpretation. Figures that are bigger than life, more powerful, or perfect, even when containing opposite elements, gain both the attention and respect of waking identity. As long as it is doing the interpreting, such figures personify the self. However, as soon as those figures themselves, or an objective witnessing third party does the interpreting, like a cloud in the sky or a rock on the ground, you generally find that what was before thought to be a symbol of the center of consciousness is not; that center has shifted, relativizing and contextualizing what was presumed to refer to the Self.
Because experiences of the self possess a sense of the sacred characteristic of religious revelations, Jung believed there was no essential difference between the self as an experiential, psychological reality and the traditional concept of a supreme deity. It might equally be called the “God within us.” Clearly, such experiences are important in awakening a sense of the sacred within us, an important experience at various points upon the developmental arc. Such an awareness of the divine is necessary before we can begin to recognize that it has little or nothing to do with us and our perception of it. The sun is such an example. Man has deified the sun for millennia. The Egyptians and Inca are two examples. The sun has not only personified the sacred, for many good reasons, but in the process awakened man to the sacred. However, the sun itself has little or nothing to do with us and our perception of it. It does not care what we think. It is neither compassionate nor non-compassionate, neither the giver nor receiver of blessings. It does not develop sunspots because it is unhappy with us. To presume that it is would be, on the one hand, grandiose and narcissistic, and on the other hand turning the abundant life of the sun into a petty, emotionally reactive anthropomorpism, on the other.
IDL interviewing, application, and identification reveal multi-perspectivalism that lacks any permanent, sustainable, “real” self. There is no archetype of a real self, or any set symbols that designate such a self, only a constant parade of immediately accessible perspectives that can indeed personify such a self in relationship to your current stage of development.
What does Jung mean by the “Self?” Jung’s third core term, the “Self,” implies that there is a non-changing, ontological identity to be discovered or generated through the process of individuation. In this respect, Jung’s Self echoes Hinduism’s atman. This is similar to traditional dream yogas, which generally maintain the naïve realism of shamanism in that they carry into visionquests the unquestioned assumption that their sense of self is the rightful, appropriate, and best interpreter of their experiences. Jung’s goal, as mentioned above, is the integration of self, which would certainly qualify as a state of higher order wakefulness, and therefore as a dream yoga.
Why doesn”t IDL use the concept of “Self?” IDL interviews do not disclose such an identity. Instead, they disclose a multiperspectival reality with only ad hoc ontology; beingness is dependent on depth and duration of identification with a particular perspective. When perspectives are interviewed their sense of self is found to be real and authentic but transitory, impermanent and situationally based, like an attractor in chaos theory. The permanence of both waking identity and a presumed Self are based, in the first case, on the depth and duration of our normal experience of our waking identity. A sense of underlying continuity is projected onto the past, present and future. It feels real because we are locked into our habitual sense of who we are; we return to that perspective automatically again and again so often that we not only think it is “real,” but that it signifies something permanent. From the perspective of IDL, the “Self” is an idealized projection of waking identity; as Self, we are still “us,” but purged of all limitations and impurities. Because we take our waking identity into other states of consciousness, such as dreams, mystical, and near death experiences, where we can feel unlimited, as well as communicate with discarnates, we conclude that there really is an immortal, unchanging Self instead of an arbitrary perspective chosen out of adaptive routine, one that is so stable that it continues even after death. The dream yoga of IDL demonstrates that you have multiple perspectives available to you at any time; that when you become any one of them, that is your real and transformative self, or identity, with as great a claim to authenticity as either your normal waking identity or a Self. However, the idea that the perspective of a toothbrush or an old shoe might not only have equal legitimacy but offer an improved approach to life is extremely threatening to those who have a large vested interest in the truth, rightness, and stability of their waking sense of self and its distinctions between reality and fantasy.
IDL views the self or Self as a useful fiction or tool, with no innate or permanent reality. It does so because this is the conclusion reached by repeatedly dissociating from one’s sense of self and becoming authentic but arbitrary alternative perspectives. This experience deepens as you repeatedly become such perspectives at various times, for instance, during meditation. Whomever you think you are gradually becomes luminous, transparent, and without substance, except as a tool. The “integral” in “Integral Deep Listening” is not the integration of Self; it is life’s expression through the learned maintenance of decisive action by no-self, conjoined with a functional ad hoc identity or ego in the dream of the moment.
What is Jung’s concept of individuation? For Jung, the goal of therapy was individuation, which arises as repressed and conflicted parts of self, generally in the unconscious and appearing in dreams, are integrated with the ego into a greater whole that transcends and includes both. For many dream yogas, the goal is not individuation but the shamanic goal of freedom that comes from power, as experienced by the ability to wake up while dreaming or deeply asleep and the ability to control events in any state of consciousness. The self does not change so much in consciousness as in ability, proficiency, and in skill mastery. For IDL, the goal of dream yoga is to become transparent so that life can wake up to itself through you. We can see that this is considerably different from Jung’s concept of individuation, in that it does not focus on the integration of a self, but views that as a prerequisite to the use of that self as a transparent tool for life that uses multiple “egos, depending on pragmatic understandings of what works, without personalization or stable identification with any one or any group of perspectives.
Is anyone ever completely individuated? In Jung’s view, no one is ever completely individuated. While the goal is wholeness and a healthy working relationship with the self, the true value of individuation lies in what happens along the way. “The goal is important only as an idea; the essential thing is the opus which leads to the goal: that is the goal of a lifetime.” IDL shares with Jung this emphasis on process.
What is health? For Jung, health is a process of psychological differentiation that leads to the development of the individual personality. Individuation is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated. Jung states, “The process of individuation, consciously pursued, leads to the realization of the self as a psychic reality greater than the ego. Thus individuation is essentially different from the process of simply becoming conscious.” “Again and again I note that the individuation process is confused with the coming of the ego into consciousness and that the ego is in consequence identified with the self, which naturally produces a hopeless conceptual muddle. Individuation is then nothing but ego-centredness and autoeroticism. But the self comprises infinitely more than a mere ego, as the symbolism has shown from of old. It is as much one’s self, and all other selves, as the ego.” IDL agrees with Jack Engler that you have to be somebody before you can be nobody. Becoming a Self that is individuated and/or one with nature, deity or the formless, are stepping stones to becoming transparent. Becoming somebody is an essential process, in that it creates structures and processes that allow life to wake up to itself.
What is the goal of individuation and life? For Jung, the goal of the individuation process is the synthesis of the self. For IDL the goal is living life in alignment with the evolving priorities of your life compass, as communicated by interviewed emerging potentials. This ends up being the amplification of the six core processes and qualities, transparency, multiperspectivalism, no-self, and non-dual wakefulness.
What are the elements of Jung’s dialectic? Jung viewed the psyche as a dynamic, growth-oriented entity poised between two powerful and complementary drives: the drive to learn and incorporate new perspectives (differentiation), and the equally important drive toward creating a coherent, harmonious integration of all the inner aspects of the self (integration): Compensate, oppose, unite. This basic concept would form the foundation of much of Jung’s work and theory. We can find resonances in traditional dream yogas, with their emphasis on transcendence through access to altered states and generalization of wakefulness to all states. IDL expresses something similar through the developmental dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis demonstrated in patterns found in Dream Sociograms, the depiction of the relationship of preferences expressed by various interviewed dream characters. The five repetitive patterns generated by collectives of interviewed characters include status quo, or thesis systems, which focus on horizontal integration, or stabilized functioning based on previously acquired skill sets; a conflictual or antithesis collective, which may include dream or life nightmares; an extraordinarily conflictual antithetical pattern, in which normally rejected perspectives gain control; synthesis patterns, which are positive and integral; and high synthesis patterns, which are extremely positive and highly integral. Not only does the existence of such patterns validate the existence of a psychological dialectic; it demonstrates that the operation of it occurs in ways that are quite normally misperceived and misunderstood.
What does synthesis, the integration of opposites, look like for Jung? Jung saw integration of the self as the result of a dialectic that produced a synthesis of individuation. IDL defines synthesis functionally, as one of two possible patterns of intrasocial organization, as displayed in Dream Sociograms and mentioned above. The first pattern is one of the expression of only positive preferences by all interviewed dream group members. It represents intrasocial balance and harmony. The second is marked by emerging potentials choosing the transcendence of all preferences. This indicates a lack of identification with any one perspective or any group of perspectives. IDL views the integration of opposites as a never-ending process rather than as an ultimate end.
What is Jung’s “transcendent function?” This is Jung’s term for the integration of the ego and the unconscious. “The tendencies of the conscious and the unconscious are the two factors that together make up the transcendent function. It is called “transcendent” because it makes the transition from one attitude to another organically possible.” In the dream yoga of shamanism we see something similar in the shaman’s journeying between this world and heaven and hell, with the goal of bringing harmony between these realms by appeasing transcendent forces and coming into alignment with them. Because interviewing emerging potentials temporarily integrates waking identity with this or that perspective in a state that transcends and includes it, this process is an experiential equivalent of Jung’s transcendent function. However, IDL does not view integration as a marriage of ego and the unconscious. Waking identity is not the same as ego and there is nothing “unconscious,” either in nature or location, about interviewed emerging potentials. As noted above, integration and transcendence are ongoing processes rather than a destination. Application of recommendations made by interviewed emerging potentials is required for this temporary state awareness to be converted into an ongoing stage awareness, which is itself subsumed in the next aspect of the dialectical growth process.
How does Jung describe the transcendent function? “Once the unconscious content has been given form and the meaning of the formulation is understood, the question arises as to how the ego will relate to this position, and how the ego and the unconscious are to come to terms. This is the second and more important stage of the procedure, the bringing together of opposites for the production of a third: the transcendent function. At this stage it is no longer the unconscious that takes the lead, but the ego.”
How does advancement into a higher developmental stage occur in IDL? The marriage of interviewed emerging potentials (relatively aware and objective perspectives) and waking identity (your relatively asleep and unaware sense of self), accomplished through the application of recommendations in an ongoing yoga, together generate a perspectival shift that is not simply a temporary change of state but a permanent advance in developmental stage. Waking identity is the arbiter of all perspectives; it has to decide whether it wants to stay stuck in its present limitations and balance factors in a continuation of thesis, or do something else: antithesis, or subsume itself in a synthesis that transcends and includes its own point of view.
What is Jung’s approach to dream interpretation? Jung considered dreams to be “independent, spontaneous manifestations of the unconscious. They are fragments of involuntary psychic activity, just conscious enough to be reproducible in the waking state.” Differing from Freud, Jung believed dreams are neither deliberate nor arbitrary fabrications, but rather natural phenomena that do not deceive, lie, distort or disguise. “They are invariably seeking to express something that the ego does not know and does not understand.”
IDL agrees with Jung that dreams are independent, spontaneous expressions that are not deceptive fabrications. However, it does not view dreams as expressions of an unconscious or of involuntary psychic activity, and it does not assume that they seek to express things that are not understood. Is the sun attempting to express things that are not understood? How about the chair you are sitting in or the grass growing outside? What Jung is getting at here is the importance of treating dreams as if they were wake-up calls, only IDL broadens this to consider everyday life as on the same ontological footing as dreaming, and that therefore anything and everything can be approached as if it were a wake-up call. Once one or more dream characters are interviewed you can decide how much of what you have heard was previously understood. Perhaps all of it, but perspectives may arise that have been either ignored or not given the emphasis or priority that they receive during the interview.
Who is most qualified to interpret dreams? For Jung, dream interpretation, at least for those with clinical conditions, is best done by trained analysts. For IDL, dream interpretation is best done by interviewed emerging potentials themselves. However, in either case, each subject has the responsibility to decide what to think, feel, and do about what they are told. Each interviewed student of IDL has to interpret what they have experienced. This is supported by the interviewer reading back the interview as statements that the subject was making to themselves. While others may be consulted and interpretations sought, the decision finally rests with the subject of the interview. Dream interpretation then, is for IDL a process of triangulation: getting the interpretations of one or more emerging potentials, consulting other sources of interpretation, such as experts, friends, or dream dictionaries, and filtering it all through one’s own common sense.
What is the function of dreaming for Jung? Dreams picture the current situation in the psyche from the point of view of the unconscious in symbolic form. “Since the meaning of most dreams is not in accord with the tendencies of the conscious mind but shows peculiar deviations, we must assume that the unconscious, the matrix of dreams, has an independent function. This is what I call the autonomy of the unconscious. The dream not only fails to obey our will but very often stands in flagrant opposition to our conscious intentions” IDL interviewing, whether in the form of Dream Sociometry or with the questionnaire protocol, demonstrates the relative autonomy of interviewed dream characters, and IDL is in strong agreement with Jung on this point. For IDL, waking identity is the tail of consciousness wagging the dog. It needs to sit down, shut up, and learn at the feet of the masters. The masters are the interviewed characters that explain wake up calls of all kinds in ways that integrate waking identity into a broader, more inclusive experience of life.
Jung acknowledged that in some cases dreams have a wish-fulfilling and sleep-preserving function, as Freud held, or reveal an infantile striving for power, as Adler believed. However, Jung focused on the symbolic content of dreams and their compensatory role in the self-regulation of the psyche. Dreams reveal aspects of oneself that are not normally conscious, they disclose unconscious motivations operating in relationships and present new points of view in conflict situations. “In this regard there are three possibilities. If the conscious attitude to the life situation is in large degree one-sided, then the dream takes the opposite side. If the conscious has a position fairly near the “middle,” the dream is satisfied with variations. If the conscious attitude is “correct” (adequate), then the dream coincides with and emphasizes this tendency, though without forfeiting its peculiar autonomy.
IDL does not think that waking awareness, whether that of the dreamer or of an “expert,” is capable or competent to reach such conclusions until at least one character in the dream is interviewed; the more the better. Otherwise, one’s conclusion is a projection by a waking identity onto the dream instead of attempting to listen to what some dream element has to say about itself and the dream. Of the two, which is more likely to give an adequate accounting of whether or not a dream is compensatory?
IDL does not view dreams as wish-fulfilling, sleep-preserving, an expression of infantile striving for power, symbolic, an expression of the unconscious, or primarily about disclosing unconscious motivations. It also does not assume that dream characters are fundamentally or essentially aspects of self as Jung does. However, dreams are an expression of self-regulation and may indeed be compensatory, as Jung notes; they definitely present new points of view, both regarding conflict and opportunities for personal growth.
Are dreams dramas? In Jung’s view, a dream is an interior drama. “The whole dream-work is essentially subjective, and a dream is a theatre in which the dreamer is himself the scene, the player, the prompter, the producer, the author, the public, and the critic.” IDL agrees with Jung that dreams often resemble interior dramas in the loose sense of drama as emotionally-loaded experience. However, IDL generally uses the word “drama” in a narrower, more specific way to refer to the Drama Triangle and the presence of the three roles of persecutor, rescuer, and victim. While these three roles often appear in dreams, they may not, and there is nothing intrinsic about dreaming that necessitates the creation of drama in this dysfunctional sense. A dream that appears to be a drama, such as a nightmare, may not be a drama at all from the perspective of one of its characters. IDL does not assume that the dreamer himself is every aspect of the drama, that it is subjective, or that it was self-created. As a phenomenological methodology, IDL suspends such assumptions and allows the interviewed dream character to speak to this issue. As a consequence of the assumption that the dreamer takes all the roles in both the dream and its creation, Jung approaches dreamwork as either subjective or objective interpretation. Subjective interpretation views the dream as symbolic representations of the dreamer’s own personality. Objective interpretations relate dream images to people and situations in the outside world. This is the traditional, fundamental distinction of classical dreamwork, and one IDL suspends.
Jung’s analogy of a theater, in which the dreamer plays all the roles, is excellent for other reasons. Although IDL does not assume that the dreamer does so in the dream, by learning to identify with the various perspectives and dreams and waking experiences we develop objectivity that we otherwise are unlikely to evolve, because normal life does not encourage taking the perspectives of spoons, turtles, and toilets. The very thought feels both meaningless and futile, which is a validation of the power of psychological geocentrism to keep us stuck in a narrow band of functional, adaptive experience.
Are dreams symbolic? Jung saw dreams and myths as full of symbols to be interpreted. “Every psychological expression is a symbol if we assume that it states or signifies something more and other than itself which eludes our present knowledge.” “How are we to explain religious processes, for instance, whose nature is essentially symbolical? In abstract form, symbols are religious ideas; in the form of action, they are rites or ceremonies. They are the manifestation and expression of excess libido. At the same time they are stepping-stones to new activities, which must be called cultural to distinguish them from the instinctual functions that run their regular course according to natural law.”
IDL views dream and mythic elements as autonomous perspectives to be interviewed and listened to. When you do so, IDL predicts that while such elements may state that they personify this or that aspect of yourself, they may not. They are clearly autonomous. If you ask them what aspect of themselves YOU personify, they may tell you! They don’t view themselves as symbols. Why should we? Do you view yourself as a symbol? Hopefully you consider yourself to be first you; any symbolic significance you have would be a projection others place upon you. Interviewed emerging potentials express a sense of unique identity and an outlook that transcends symbolization, projection, and naming. After you have asked the character for its interpretations and after you have asked the student for their interpretations is the time for you to chime in with yours. The exception is when you have a bright idea about what a character is saying. You can share your interpretation with it, and watch it get shot down! This may not always be the case, but in my experience, it generally is. I have had my assumptions demonstrated to be mistaken or partial so many times that I don’t even try to interpret dreams any more.
For IDL, symbols, symbology, and symbolic perception are elements within a psychologically geocentric framework. Meaning centers on our interpretations, not the intrinsic value of the character. Because interpretations are projections, symbols say more about us than about the dream iself or about some religious motif. Consequently, IDL allows images to interpret themselves and to determine if they are symbols or not. While this or that dream element or personification of a life issue may represent some meaning for us, they are more than that. They are not limited in their meaning, value, or significance to symbol.
Similarly, experiences in a waking dream, shamanic journey, or some other altered state of consciousness are best viewed neither as literal or as symbolic, because they are both and neither; they cannot be so categorized without doing violence to their intrinsic natures.
Are dreams prospective and teleological? For IDL as for Jung, dreams are prospective, because patterns are by nature repetitive and therefore predictive. Dreams are teleological in that the elements are potentials, and potentials are intrinsically emergent. Dreams indicate possibilities that are attempting to be born. The tragedy is that when we are dreaming we are doing the interpreting of the dream experience, and we generally reaches partial or completely wrong conclusions. A dream monster, fire or fall is usually experienced as a threat. It is only when we interview the monster, fire or ground that we are likely to discover that we misperceived what was happening while we were dreaming. You can determine this for yourself simply by interviewing other perspectives within your dreams. When you do so, you will find that a consistent intent is to wake you up. Wakefulness is a prospective, teleological process. It is by definition about transformation and rebirth.
Is dreaming compensatory? Jung viewed dreaming as a natural process aimed at establishing or maintaining balance within the psyche. “The activity of consciousness is selective. Selection demands direction. But direction requires the exclusion of everything irrelevant. This is bound to make the conscious orientation one-sided. The contents that are excluded and inhibited by the chosen direction sink into the unconscious, where they form a counterweight to the conscious orientation. The strengthening of this counterposition keeps pace with the increase of conscious one-sidedness until finally…the repressed unconscious contents break through in the form of dreams and spontaneous images…As a rule, the unconscious compensation does not run counter to consciousness, but is rather a balancing or supplementing of the conscious orientation. In dreams, for instance, the unconscious supplies all those contents that are constellated by the conscious situation but are inhibited by conscious selection, although a knowledge of them would be indispensable for complete adaptation.”
Does IDL use Jung’s theory that dreams are compensatory? Jung starts with the assumption that dreams deal with contents that are excluded or inhibited. IDL doesn’t make this assumption. Dream contents may or may not be excluded or inhibited. They may be due to the reduction of filtering or an increase of a different sort of filtering than occurs in waking life. IDL does not assume that dream content was once conscious and “sinks into the unconscious.” It does not assume that dream content is compensatory, although it may at times provide that function. Jung also focuses on the importance of dreaming for the maintenance of everyday consciousness. Since his time much research has been done that supports the role of dreaming in the consolidation of memory, role consolidation, and the maintenance of vigilance. However, research also implies that dreaming is a foundational evolutionary development which has purposes that are more fundamental than compensation. While dreaming itself is no doubt adaptive, Jung assumes dream content is adaptive. IDL asks, “adaptive to whom or what?” Clearly there are many examples of dreams which serve no adaptive function for us. In fact a strong case can be made that some dreams are maladaptive in that they reinforce inadequate or ineffective responses to stressors, such as perceived threats and can strengthen unhelpful mood states such as confusion, anxiety, and depression. IDL assumes that dreams can be experienced in ways that are adaptational or they can be used in ways that are not, just like events in waking life. Assumptions about compensation, inhibition, exclusion, filtering, and adaptation are all projections of waking consciousness onto dreams. The dream itself is like Kant’s Ding an sich; with a life and reality that exists apart from that which we know of it.
Based on the testimony of most interviewed emerging potentials, compensation is not a basic issue or priority for them. They generally state their purpose as stimulating a higher degree of wakefulness. While wakefulness can be framed as compensatory for a state of relative sleep, this projects a mechanism that is not generally expressed by emerging potentials themselves.
Are dreams mythic? For Jung, “mythic” refers to motifs and themes that are culturally meaningful as ways of clarifying the nature of humanity and man’s relationship to others, life, and humanity. While dreams are in essence mythic for Jung, IDL observes within them all four perspectives that are intrinsic to holons. The problem with only looking at dreams as myths or mainly as myths is that myths generally are assumed to be symbolic and their symbols interpreted. IDL considers myths to be cultural dreams fully capable of interpreting themselves. The interior collective is the realm of scripted cultural values and Jung’s myths; dreams manifest scripted cultural values while demonstrating values that transcend and include those of any culture. Dreams reflect the consciousness and level of development of the dreamer while providing various levels of consciousness of their own; they demonstrate behaviors and behavioral choices that are meaningful to the dreamer as well as options that the dreamer has not considered; and they demonstrate interactional patterns that are both helpful and harmful from the standpoint of the dreamer, as well as provide interactional possibilities that the dreamer has not considered.
Are myths externalized dreams? For Jung, myths are involuntary collective statements based on an unconscious psychic experience. “The primitive mentality does not invent myths, it experiences them. Myths are original revelations of the preconscious psyche…Many of these unconscious processes may be indirectly occasioned by consciousness, but never by conscious choice. Others appear to arise spontaneously, that is to say, from no discernible or demonstrable conscious cause.” For IDL, this is a major contribution of Jung, because he is minimizing the distinction between waking and dreaming experience. He is pointing to the way the macrocosm and microcosm reflect each other and how waking life contains many dreamlike elements and can be looked at as if it were a dream. Whether Jung derived this perspective from his studies of Eastern religion and mythology or whether he found validation there for a previously held belief, IDL believes Jung was instrumental in bringing an ancient and important perspective into the mainstream of psychological thought.
For IDL, myth is an externalization of three types of dreams: individual, collective, and life’s outpicturing of itself. Waking life is a personal myth in the sense that it is a dream one has and a story one tells oneself to provide meaning and life direction. The concept of karma is an example of a myth that is both personal and collective. National, religious, political, economic, and psychological myths are dreams groups of people live as well as stories groups tell themselves to provide meaning and life direction. Waking life, cultural myths, and nighttime dreams are all dreams of life, in that they are externalizations by life intended to help it wake up to itself and know itself. For IDL, life drama, including myths, is externalized dream. While all life is drama and contains mythic components, you can have more or less of both, and that variability is very important for IDL. It works to identify drama, which it views as a form of sleepwalking, and either wake up out of it or use it in ways that reflect the priorities of life, as embodied by the recommendations by high-scoring interviewed characters.
Jung has written extensively about the relationship between dream and myth, with each reflecting the other: dreams are personalized myths and myth is externalized dream. IDL views this relationship as an interpretive one: dreams are used by Jung to understand myth and myth is used to understand dreams. Because IDL focuses on the interpretations of interviewed emerging potentials, the relationship between myth and dream is not central for it. Instead of viewing dreams as internalized myths, we have seen how interviewed emerging potentials tend to view themselves and experience, whether dream or waking, as a series of wake-up calls. Life itself does not appear to differentiate between sleeping and waking as we do. Dreams, myths, and normal waking experience are therefore treated the same by IDL. Do you want to know the nature or purpose for any experience? Why not interview this or that element of it? When you do so, what you learn is that the quality of awareness and the value of the information does not change based on either its source or your opinion of the worth of that source. Whether interviewing a mythic diety, like the Greek goddess Diana, or a dream monster, whether you consider the element sacred or mundane, real or symbolic or imaginary, important or insignificant, makes little difference.
What is the relationship between myths and scripts? While Jung views dreaming as a personalization of mythic themes, IDL views life in terms of choices made as a result of waking scripts and injunctions, most of which are normally out of awareness. While these can be consciously chosen, they generally are not. A script is different from a myth in that while the latter emphasizes a story, the former emphasizes instructions. However, both myth and script are interpretations by waking identity and do not reflect the language or interpretive preferences of interviewed emerging potentials.
What is Jung’s “Active Imagination?” Active imagination is a dreamwork procedure developed by Jung. Its objective is to give a voice to sides of the personality, and in particular, the anima/animus and the shadow, that are normally not heard, thereby establishing a line of communication between consciousness and the unconscious. Even without interpretation, Jung recognized that something goes on between creator and creation that contributes to a transformation of consciousness.
The first stage of active imagination is like dreaming with open eyes. It can take place spontaneously or be artificially induced. “…you choose a dream, or some other fantasy-image, and concentrate on it by simply catching hold of it and looking at it. You can also use a bad mood as a starting-point, and then try to find out what sort of fantasy-image it will produce, or what image expresses this mood. You then fix this image in the mind by concentrating your attention. Usually it will alter, as the mere fact of contemplating it animates it. The alterations must be carefully noted down all the time, for they reflect the psychic processes in the unconscious background, which appear in the form of images consisting of conscious memory material. In this way conscious and unconscious are united, just as a waterfall connects above and below.”
What are some of the similarities and differences between active imagination and IDL? The similarities are that active imagination gives a voice to perspectives that are generally not heard, improving intrapsychic communication. Jung also applied it to waking experience and emotion in addition to dreaming. IDL shares with Jung an open-eyed approach to accessing imagery, because having our eyes open encourages groundedness in our present state of consciousness instead of moving into trance or dissociation. It also focuses on questions designed to strengthen identification with the perspective of the dream character or personification of a life issue. IDL is primarily interested in accessing emerging potentials to align waking perspectives and actions with the priorities of one’s life compass, which is not an aspect of self. It does not belong to anyone; it is life.
While Jung’s purpose for active imagination is to give voice to different sides of the personality, IDL lets interviewed emerging potentials say whether or not they are parts of the personality. IDL is not trying to establish communication between consciousness and unconsciousness but between waking identity, which is relatively asleep and dreaming, and emerging potentials, which are relatively more awake, that is, more conscious. This is almost an inversion of Jung’s formulation, but does not define either the conscious or unconscious realms as Jung does.
The second stage of active imagination, beyond simply observing images, involves a conscious participation in them, the honest evaluation of what they mean about oneself, and a morally and intellectually binding commitment to act on the insights. This is a transition from a merely perceptive or aesthetic attitude to one of judgment: “Although, to a certain extent, he i.e., the patient, looks on from outside, impartially, he is also an acting and suffering figure in the drama of the psyche. This recognition is absolutely necessary and marks an important advance. So long as he simply looks at the pictures he is like the foolish Parsifal, who forgot to ask the vital question because he was not aware of his own participation in the action. An allusion to the medieval Grail legend. The question Parsifal failed to ask was, “Whom does the Grail serve?” …But if you recognize your own involvement you yourself must enter into the process with your personal reactions, just as if you were one of the fantasy figures, or rather, as if the drama being enacted before your eyes were real.”
“The judging attitude implies a voluntary involvement in those fantasy-processes which compensate the individual and ‑ in particular ‑ the collective situation of consciousness. The avowed purpose of this involvement is to integrate the statements of the unconscious, to assimilate their compensatory content, and thereby produce a whole meaning which alone makes life worth living and, for not a few people, possible at all.” Jung was attempting to do three things at once: access a different perspective through identifying with an image, observing it, which means detaching from it, and figuring out how to use it by making interpretations. IDL breaks all these components out temporally, so that they unfold in succession, and in a concrete protocol.
IDL recommends the suspension of all judgments during interviewing, in favor of open-focused, phenomenologically-based deep listening. The normal stance of waking identity is to judge. Suspension of this addiction during the interviewing process is inherently therapeutic. Jung’s emphasis on both ownership and application of what is heard is shared by IDL.
What are “fixations?” This is a very useful term Jung coined for blockages that slow down or stop further development. IDL calls fixations “resistance” and interviews it. Resistance is often expressed in IDL interviewing by low scoring emerging potentials. They are basically saying, “No, I’m not going to change. I want you to listen to me and accept who and what I am.” However, these low-scoring emerging potentials often score higher than we do in one or more of the six core qualities. The particular mixture can disclose qualities that you need to emphasize more or less in order to find balance. We may need more of what the character is strong in, or we may need the opposite; the particular interview generally makes clear which it is.
Fixations are generally not obvious until we come under serious pressure. We generally hide them behind our persona and play to our strengths. The result is that we become increasingly out of balance. Fixations then, are compensatory: they ground us authentically when we become too skewed in our development. Fixations generally indicate our level of overall development better than our strengths. To gauge Barak Obama’s overall level of development we need not look at the fact that he is highly intelligent, capable and has the best of intentions, but how he is fixated in a cultural system with which he identifies that causes him to undermine first amendment rights, freedoms of speech and privacy, arm terrorists and justify extralegal wars and drone assassinations. To gauge your overall level of development look at your addictions and the areas in which you chronically sabotage your own development and aspirations.
What are “complexes?” For Jung, complexes are emotionally charged groups of ideas or images. “A complex is the image of a certain psychic situation which is strongly accentuated emotionally and is, moreover, incompatible with the habitual attitude of consciousness.” “The via regia to the unconscious…is not the dream, as Freud thought, but the complex, which is the architect of dreams and of symptoms. Nor is this via so very “royal,” either, since the way pointed out by the complex is more like a rough and uncommonly devious footpath.” “Everyone knows nowadays that people “have complexes.” What is not so well known, though far more important theoretically, is that complexes can have us.” “Complexes are in fact ‘splinter psyches.’ The aetiology of their origin is frequently a so-called trauma, an emotional shock or some such thing, that splits off a bit of the psyche. Certainly one of the commonest causes is a moral conflict, which ultimately derives from the apparent impossibility of affirming the whole of one’s nature.” “Complexes interfere with the intentions of the will and disturb the conscious performance; they produce disturbances of memory and blockages in the flow of associations; they appear and disappear according to their own laws; they can temporarily obsess consciousness, or influence speech and action in an unconscious way. In a word, complexes behave like independent beings.”
Jung stressed that complexes in themselves are not negative; only their effects often are. In the same way that atoms and molecules are the invisible components of physical objects, complexes are the building blocks of the psyche and the source of all human emotions. “Complexes are focal or nodal points of psychic life which we would not wish to do without; indeed, they should not be missing, for otherwise psychic activity would come to a fatal standstill.” “Complexes obviously represent a kind of inferiority in the broadest sense…but to have complexes does not necessarily indicate inferiority. It only means that something discordant, unassimilated, and antagonistic exists, perhaps as an obstacle, but also as an incentive to greater effort, and so, perhaps, to new possibilities of achievement.”
The negative effect of a complex is commonly experienced as a distortion in one or other of the psychological functions (feeling, thinking, intuition and sensation). In place of sound judgment and an appropriate feeling response, for instance, one reacts according to what the complex dictates. As long as one is unconscious of the complexes, one is liable to be driven by them. “Identification with a complex, particularly the anima/animus and the shadow, is a frequent source of neurosis. The aim of analysis in such cases is not to get rid of the complexes -as if that were possible- but to minimize their negative effects by understanding the part they play in behavior patterns and emotional reactions.” “A complex can be really overcome only if it is lived out to the full. In other words, if we are to develop further we have to draw to us and drink down to the very dregs what, because of our complexes, we have held at a distance.”
How do complexes show up in IDL? The closest parallel to Jung’s concept of complexes are oppositional patterns viewed in Dream Sociograms. These are created by different patterns of preferences that flow naturally from different perspectives held by this or that interviewed dream character. While these differences may not be conflictual, some are, and those create oppositional or antithetical Dream Sociograms. These, however, may not be “incompatible with the habitual attitude of consciousness,” at least if that “consciousness” is taken to be waking awareness. It is quite common to take differing roles throughout the day that do not conflict because they are temporally separated: the role expectations of mother do not conflict with those of worker if those roles remain clearly delineated and distinct. Because dreams do not separate roles temporally, they often clash in dreams, creating conflict and a “complex” that is not experienced in waking life.
While Jung considered complexes the architects of dreams, IDL reserves that designation for one’s life compass, in the role of “dream consciousness.” In Dream Sociometry, Dream Consciousness is often interviewed, providing the perspective of the architect of the dream itself.
Is conflict necessary? Jung states, “The apparently unendurable conflict is proof of the rightness of your life. A life without inner contradiction is either only half a life or else a life in the Beyond, which is destined only for angels. But God loves human beings more than the angels.” “The self is made manifest in the opposites and in the conflict between them; it is a coincidentia oppositorum coincidence of opposites. Hence the way to the self begins with conflict.”
IDL also views conflict as necessary and as one of the three stages of the developmental dialectic. It views conflict as a wake-up call, to be listened to. It does not view conflict as more important than ongoing thesis homeostasis or the transformation available through synthesis. Conflict is to be welcomed, embraced, and, above all, listened to.
What is Catharsis? For Jung, as with Freud, catharsis is “…a confessional approach to treating neurosis, involving the abreaction of emotions associated with a trauma. Through confession I throw myself into the arms of humanity again, freed at last from the burden of moral exile. The goal of the cathartic method is full confession-not merely the intellectual recognition of the facts with the head, but their confirmation by the heart and the actual release of suppressed emotion.” From this we learn that the emphasis of Jungian analysis, and also for related psychodynamically-derived approaches to therapy, is diagnosis and treatment related to suppressed or dysfunctional emotions, indicating a therapeutic focus at the second and third developmental levels or fulcrums. This is appropriate, because the vast majority of people who have mental health problems have fixations and disturbances associated with these foundational developmental levels. The problem is that the developmental spectrum stretches below and far above those developmental fulcrums. The farther away you move, the less effective catharsis is. For example, below and prior you quickly reach incohate levels that can only be reached by direct sensory intervention: diet, exercise, environmental adaptations, and alterations of physiology. When you move above you find that the roots of dysfunction are less and less emotional and therefore cannot be resolved by catharsis.
Jung acknowledged the therapeutic value of catharsis, but early in his career he recognized its limitations in the process of analysis. “The new psychology would have remained at the stage of confession had catharsis proved itself a panacea. First and foremost, however, it is not always possible to bring the patients close enough to the unconscious for them to perceive the shadows…They have quite enough to confess already, they say; they do not have to turn to the unconscious for that.” The problem with catharsis is that it involves a temporary change of state as a burden is lifted and the clouds part. Catharsis, like insight, brings temporary relief. IDL is interested in accessing states that transcend and include one’s own and incorporating them in a permanent way, as an advance in developmental stage, into an expanded sense of identity, through application of recommendations from the interview.
Why is guilt important for growth for Jung? Individuation and a life lived by collective values are for Jung two divergent destinies. In his view they are related to one another by guilt. Whoever embarks on the personal path becomes to some extent estranged from collective values, but does not thereby lose those aspects of the psyche which are inherently collective. To atone for this “desertion,” the individual is obliged to create something of worth for the benefit of society. “Individuation cuts one off from personal conformity and hence from collectivity. That is the guilt which the individuant leaves behind him for the world, that is the guilt he must endeavor to redeem. He must offer a ransom in place of himself, that is, he must bring forth values which are an equivalent substitute for his absence in the collective personal sphere. Without this production of values, final individuation is immoral and-more than that-suicidal… The individuant has no apriori claim to any kind of esteem. He has to be content with whatever esteem flows to him from outside by virtue of the values he creates. Not only has society a right, it also has a duty to condemn the individuant if he fails to create equivalent values.”
This is reminiscent of Freud’s defense of sublimation. However, it reduces all individual growth to a compensation for abandonment of cultural norms. The question then becomes, “How does one reach authentic individuation if growth itself is a mere guilt-based compensation?” IDL views guilt as a destructive, unhealthy form of self-persecution. As such, guilt does not exist outside the Drama Triangle. Health involves the clear recognition of this fact and continuous decisions not to use guilt in any circumstances whatsoever. IDL sees individuation narrowly, as evolution in the interior individual quadrant of one’s holon, and broadly, as the integration and transformation of all four quadrants simultaneously, through evolution of states, stages, and lines. Individuation indeed produces conflicts with societal values as well as opportunities for aborted development. The answer is not guilt but development in all four quadrants, with attention given not only to collective values but to behavioral yogas and interpersonal relationships devoid of drama. Integral provides, a breadth of approach which traditional dream yogas do not address.
What are Jung’s four Functions? These are sensation, feeling, intuition, and thinking. IDL views them as interior individual ways of objectifying all four quadrants of the human holon that change with state openings and evolve with stage development.. For example, to the extent that these four are interior and individual, they define your present stage of development as consciousness. To the extent that these four are objective, individual behaviors, they are exteriors that can be measured, as is done with the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory. To the extent that these four are values to be interpreted, they have cultural and collective significance, and one may be valued over the others while others may be undervalued as an interior collective dimension of experience. To the extent that these four are exterior and collective, they define how you interact with others and your environment.
What is Jung’s understanding of synchronicity? One of the most creative and brilliant works I have ever read is Jung’s Introduction to Evans-Wentz’s translation of the Chinese fortune-telling classic, the I Ching. Based on the casting of wooden sticks or coins, the I Ching produces one of sixty-four possible hexagrams, each a unique combination of six strong “yang” lines and yielding “yin” lines. Each hexagram has associated historical commentaries that interpret its meaning for the person who is seeking an answer to some question. This sets up the conditions for what Jung called “synchronicity:” some event occurs that is not causally connected to another, yet is so strongly connected in meaning that reason says it is not coincidental.
In his introduction, Jung begins by not knowing what to write that would accurately and meaningfully describe the wisdom and beauty of the I Ching. He then does a most remarkable thing. He casts a hexagram on the question, “How shall I write this introduction?” He lets the I Ching interpret itself. The resulting hexagram, the historical commentaries that accompany it, and Jung’s exposition of them, provide an astoundingly clear and helpful understanding of what the I Ching attempts to do. In his introduction, Jung not only successfully explains the I Ching, but simultaneously demonstrates synchronicity in a very powerful and effective way.
What Jung did is very reminiscent of IDL. Instead of interpreting a dream – in this case, the waking dream of a casting of the I Ching, Jung suspended his assumptions and took a phenomenological stance. He allowed the object of his interest to interpret itself. This is exactly what IDL does, and in this instance Jung does IDL better than this author does. His introduction also points to other fascinating applications of IDL. Whenever you experience a synchronicity, why not interview some element within it and allow it to explain itself? This may save you much grief, as fateful personal and historical decisions are often made due to interpretations of synchronicities.
 (1945), in CW 13: Alchemical Studies, p.335.
 (1938), In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.140.
 Karma has been covered in the chapter on Hinduism and Dream Yoga as well as the section on karma in “Words and Concepts that Are and Are Not Conducive to Enlightenment.”
 Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14.
 “Psychology and Religion” (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.131.
 “The Integration of the Personality” (1939).
 “Answer to Job” (1952). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.1.
 “On the Psychology of the Unconscious” (1912). In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. P.35.
 “The Psychological Foundation for the Belief in Spirits” (1920). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. P.595
 “On the Psychology of the Unconscious” (1912). In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. P.35.
 (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.25.
 “The Postwar Psychic Problems of the Germans” (1945)
 “Psychology and Religion” (1938). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.131.
 “Answer to Job” (1952). In CW 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. P.1.
 “The Psychological Foundation for the Belief in Spirits (1920). In CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. P. 595.
 “The Philosophical Tree” (1945). In CW 13: Alchemical Studies. P.335.
 “Good and Evil in Analytical Psychology” (1959). In CW 10. Civilization in Transition. P.872.
If you are reading current integral literature or communicating with many people with associated world views, you are going to be running into “shadow,” a term coined by C.G. Jung to indicate unknown aspects of yourself, whether detrimental or positive. A detailed description of Jung’s understanding of shadow can be found here. In various forms of shadow work, those entities and experiences not consciously claimed as our own tend to be viewed as repressed or dissociated aspects of ourselves.
What is Wilber’s understanding of “shadow?” Wilber’s integral Shadow 3-2-1 Process is a “gold star practice” in the Shadow module of his integral life practice. Every model that we build, including Jung’s analytic psychology, Wilber’s AQAL and Integral Deep Listening (IDL), is based on the ever-evolving perspective held by our sense of who we are, however we define it. That proximate self is made up of a multitude of perspectives, some of which contradict others. Wilber tends to agree with contemporary psychology and Jung and view those perspectives we adopt as interior to our sense of self. This view serves the advantage of ownership and taking responsibility, while having the drawback of being essentially grandiose bordering on narcissism: we are the author of our experience, which, when taken to its conclusions, is an expression of both the epistemic fallacy and solipsism. The opposite approach has been classically represented by shamanism and various forms of realism. These approaches assume all objectively perceived experiences, such as people seen in non-lucid dreams, really exist in some heaven, hell or other dimension. The drawback of such approaches, commonly affirmed by out of the body and near death experiences, as well as by normal waking reality, is that they externalize both power and responsibility while at its extreme, commits the ontological fallacy. We shall see that IDL honors both of these approaches while refusing to reduce experience to one or the other.
How does Wilber’s 3-2-1 Shadow Work function? Self transcends and includes subsidiary “shadow” perspectives as it evolves. Wilber discusses this in terms of distal selves becoming the proximate self. In terms of shadow work, distal shadow is incorporated into a broader, stronger waking sense of self. Consequently,Wilber’s shadow work starts with the assumption that we are in conflict with aspects of ourselves and that we project those conflicts out onto others and our environment. Wherever there is a disturbance it probably has something to do with you.
You begin with a “3rd person exercise,” in which you start by thinking about a person or situation that is upsetting to you. You are then told to describe why the person or situation is upsetting you. Next, you have a dialogue with the person who is upsetting you, either in writing or as a Gestalt two-chair type exercise. When you respond as the person, you are working with the “2nd person exercise” part of Wilber’s 3-2-1 Shadow process. You are responding as if you were the other, owning and honoring their perspective. When you re-own the projection as a part of yourself you are doing the “1st person exercise” of the Shadow process. Wilber would most likely view Integral Deep Listening (IDL) as a variety of the 3-2-1 process, in which he would also include “Big Mind” and Voice Dialogue.
Are we dealing with “shadow” or “emerging potentials?” IDL agrees with Jung and Wilber that we are in conflict with aspects of ourselves and that we project those conflicts out onto others and our environment. Also, health involves recognizing, owning, and withdrawing these projections. This is an important topic, because it has to do with how we relate to both our disowned scripting and emerging potentials, on the one hand, and how we perceive “other interior stuff.” Is it all shadow? Is shadow the best term for any of it? IDL interviews both dream characters and the personifications of waking life issues. For example, if you have resistance to doing some work you can allow that resistance to become some shape or object, say a broom, or character, say a warthog, and interview it using the IDL interviewing protocols. These interviewed elements are indeterminate “Its,” even though they exist in the interior collective cultural quadrant of “we” and “us.” They may be disowned self-aspects, but, when interviewed, they are often found to be autonomous, that is, never owned and never, in at least some of their perspectives and values, self-aspects. Therefore, although they are interior image creations, they are not reducible to interiors of self. This is not a theoretical position but an experiential one, that anyone can determine for themselves by using the IDL interviewing process. For this reason, IDL calls interviewed figures, whether personifications of life issues or dream characters, “emerging potentials,” not only because they are emerging into our awareness, but also because they represent unexamined, unappreciated, or unincorporated potentials for awakening to broader priorities of life.
How did Jung use “shadow?” As discussed in the above-referenced article, he used it primarily to represent disowned parts of self. Subsequently, “shadow” sets up an unnecessary and often oppositional/conflictual dualism between self and the internal other, something that is to be avoided if possible, because such dualisms divide us from ourselves. There is you, and then there is your shadow, and the various elements of your shadow.
Why is projection a problem? The basic problem with this usage is that it is projective, which means that using it keeps us stuck in our waking perspective, which is doing the projecting. I am seeing something as a shadow part of myself. That is a projection. However, our waking sense of who we are is itself stuck because it is a limited and partial perceptual cognitive distortion. With projection, life is not viewed from the multiple perspectives of interviewed personifications of life issues and dream characters, but instead in terms of the evolution of the self line that climbs the developmental ladder. We are stuck in the perspective of a self identified with the level of development of our cognitive line, which creates models and our world view. Cognitive multi-perspectivalism is not experiential multi-perspectivalism, which is not based on our cognitive map or on who we think we are. Projections are psychologically geocentric, both in the assumptions the self makes and in terminology, with the result being that it is difficult to think in ways that are not self-centric when one uses such terms.
Is what we call “shadow” really repressed or disowned? What we find in IDL is that most interviewed dream characters or personifications of life issues do not view themselves as repressed or dissociated, although some do. While interviewed angels, trees and toilet bowls will freely state that they represent this or that aspect of you, they will often demonstrate considerable autonomy and not view their reality as dependent upon you. If you ask them, “What aspect of you, (trees), do I represent?” what you will get will be answers that often radically reframe your sense of self. We find many emerging potentials describe themselves as springing from what Wilber would probably call our “overall” self, to distinguish it from our conscious, “proximal” self and our unconscious, “distal” selves. IDL does not use the terms “overall self,” “superconscious,” Self,” “Atman,” “soul,” or “shadow,” because they imply relatively autonomous perspectives that are part of some self sense, some self identity, whether recognized or not, which is an assumption and projection of waking perspective and bias. Interviewed perspectives rarely have need for this terminology, implying that it tends to needlessly confuse the process of waking up.
How do we know that what we assume to be shadow actually is shadow? Have we asked it if it is a repressed aspect of ourselves, or are we just assuming? IDL views it as a presumptuous, disrespectful, and discounting assumption to simply assume this or that is shadow or self-aspect without first asking it if it sees itself as such. It can simply validate commonly held delusions to not respectfully enquire before drawing such conclusions. Therefore, IDL does not attribute interviewed dream lamp posts, or dungeons that may be personifications of our depression, to any self at all, until and unless that lamp post or dungeon says so. Interviewed emerging potentials may or may not so describe themselves when shown the courtesy of being asked. Such phenomenological tabling of assumptions in favor of inquiry is a matter of simple respect. For example, if you turn the standard question on its head and ask an alligator from a dream or a fire that personifies a back pain what part of themselves you most closely represent, they may produce a perfectly reasonable statement of autonomy. They may say, “You represent my window on the world,” or “you personify my way of making myself known,” or “you are the leading edge of my growth, what I depend upon to more fully know myself.” So which perspective is more accurate, yours or theirs? Is it your shadow or are you its shadow? Doesn’t your answer completely depend on which perspective you take? This is experiential, not cognitive, multi-perspectivalism, and to be understood it must be practiced, as must any dream yoga or integral life practice. It is an example of why IDL is a multi-perspectival approach, commonly associated with vision-logic, as well as the transpersonal, in that it does not assume the pre-existence of any self or make the self line that climbs the developmental ladder itself a reality.
Emerging potentials, as defined by IDL, are of indefinite ontology. A dream flying car may be 98% self aspect but there will remain 2% that expresses itself autonomously. Or some interviewed character may be 98% autonomous, in that you are absolutely convinced that your deceased Aunt Emma really did appear to you in that dream, but there will remain 2% of Aunt Emma that is a self aspect. In addition to not being reducible to a part of yourself, things that we view as “shadow” are not unitary selves in the sense of your waking identity, in that they are usually obviously imaginary, such as dream collanders or a fantasy gremlin that personifies your waking addiction to social media. Such perspectives are approached phenomenologically by IDL. That is, assumptions about their ontological status are suspended. Where Jung and Wilber views them as aspects of self, IDL suspends such assumptions until the element itself is interviewed. What does it say?
Is life about reclaiming the disowned or finding and incorporating life’s agenda? “Shadow” assumes there is “us,” who we think we are, and then there is the inner “disowned us.” But the concept of disownership implies that something was once owned. Our dreams and life experience are both overflowing with emerging potentials that have never been owned. Are these shadow? That does not seem accurate, since they are not primarily, from their perspective, about us and our reality. They are about themselves and their reality. Such emerging potentials have their own agendas, and they may be very different from our own, yet not be a reaction to ours either. While life as about the evolution of the self is a legitimate perspective, that is not life’s perspective. From life’s perspective, growth, development, evolution, and life is about it, not about us. As Carl Sagan has said, “We are a way for the Universe to know itself.”
What are the advantages of taking a phenomenological approach? So, how else could one view “not self?” IDL has the advantage of being a phenomenological approach, in that it suspends our assumptions and allows the “other” to speak for itself. It suspends assumptions of self, shadow and “other” and asks questions using a protocol reminiscent of the Socratic dialectic. It allows our pains, hopes, fears, delusions and fantasies to speak for themselves and to tell us how they view themselves. This minimizes the problem of projection while not denying its continued existence, as every interviewed perspective has its own interpretations and therefore its own projections. These perspectives are not God, nor is any one representative of Truth or Reality.
How do we know if we are fooling ourselves or not? Of course, the common objection is that we are simply putting words into the mouth of the interviewed figure or are generating an outlet for shadow. Both of these objections are easily overcome by experience interviewing. Words come out of many interviewed figures that are radically not our own, from perspectives that do not see themselves as shadow. When we interview such figures what we find is that they may as likely view you as a shadow of them. You will also find that many of these “others” have not been disowned because they have never been owned.
Is it possible to take too much responsibility? Emerging potentials are also projections by our sense of self, since life doesn’t call itself anything. However, these are projections that know they are projections and that intentionally set out to minimize the problems of thinking in terms of the self and its interpretations. Certainly there is no way the problem of psychological geocentrism, the idea that the world evolves around myself and that which defines me, can be avoided, but it can be minimized. The term “shadow” supports rather than works to dismantle, our identification with our self-sense. That self-sense keeps us from seeing ourselves as life sees us. While shadow work is a great tool for taking responsibility for our experience, there are limits to taking responsibility. Do you think it is wise to take responsibility for my thoughts? How about the weather or war in the Middle East? Are you responsible for the starving children of the world? How about sun spots and solar flares as caused by the negative thinking of humanity and therefore our responsibility? At what point does taking responsibility turn into an obviously grandiose and narcissistic fantasy? At what point does taking responsibility impair your further development because it maintains belief in a self-sense that must become transparent if you are to grow into the transpersonal?
Does Wilber believe that every place we feel stuck indicates a need for shadow work? While it has been pointed out above that Wilber tends to agree with contemporary psychology and Jung and view those perspectives we adopt as interior to our sense of self, he could also point out that his holonic model does not take this position. Collective quadrants are not interior to individual interior consciousness. Your world view and overall sense of who you are and why you are here is a feature of the interior collective quadrant of your human holon, which is not collapsible into your interior individual quadrant of consciousness any more than your consciousness is collapsible into it. These interdependently co-exist in Wilber’s holonic model. If you or Wilber imply or intend that everything collapses into consciousness, which is the idealistic model, then you contradict the holonic quadrant aspect of AQAL, do you not? This is another important assumption that shadow work tends to make – that your pain is reducible to and the responsibility of, your individual consciousness. The holonic model, in addition to IDL, disagrees.
By all means, think in terms of “shadow” if that is helpful for you, but recognize that is an assumption until you ask that which you term shadow and see what it has to say. An example of an interview with shadow can be found here.
For more on the relationship between Wilber’s AQAL and IDL, in an essay from which this excerpt was taken, go here.
To learn about IDL counseling, go here.
To learn about the IDL coaching program, go here.