Reflections on the Symbolic Life

The journey inward is a symbolic quest that awakens our finite being to an awareness of the infinite.  Transformation takes place inwardly through the power of symbols.  

Symbols precede thought and are not products of it.  Thus, when one is grasped by a symbol, whether in a dream, in art or in literature one is emotionally moved by unconscious, often archetypal, energies and not through ideas, beliefs or any other superimposed model.

The symbolic process when successful leads to a continual narrowing of the gap between conscious and unconscious realities through which transformation and reconciliation of the opposites within the psyche occurs.

Symbols serve the principle of centroversion drawing us toward the inner transcendent center of our totality and acting as a stimulus to continuous integration and expanded consciousness.

Through myth and legend human beings have always used symbols to express awareness of the mysteries underlying existence as well as to express abstract qualities as heroism, truth, courage and love.  Myths represent symbolic journeys through story in which the characters embody archetypes from the collective unconscious.

Symbolism, consciously and unconsciously, underlies most artistic endeavor and its visual power alters the consciousness of the affected viewer.  Whether one is moved by a story, a film or a work of art depends largely on the particular archetypes constellated in the individual psyche.

If you are emotionally moved by a painting, a story, a movie, a ritual or a spiritual teaching you can be assured that the symbolic content of the work has activated a psychological process within.

To live a symbolic life is to attend to the symbols that arise within dreams and outer life experience and attempt to understand the meaning they convey.

“What we are about to undertake is an expedition together, a journey of discovery into the most secret recesses of our consciousness.  And for such an adventure we must travel light, we cannot burden ourselves with opinions, prejudices, conclusions; that is with all the baggage that we have collected over the past two thousand years or more.  Forget everything that you have thought about yourself; we are going to set off as if we know nothing.”        Krishnamurti