Posts Tagged ‘Soul’

In Memoriam: James Hillman

James Hillman died on Wednesday, October 27, 2011.  He was more than an interpreter of C. G. Jung’s work, he was a pioneer and explorer who extended Jung’s work in highly original, approachable ways.  His contributions were so extensive they could have filled the vessel of several lives.  He was educated at the Sorbonne in Paris and Trinity College in Dublin.  Following graduation from the C.G. Jung Institute, he served as Director of Studies for a decade and then became editor of Spring Publication.  But the acorn within James Hillman would burst forth and the oak took root in a larger, plebeian realm.  He became a bestselling author.

Hillman was such a gifted writer that he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Re-visioning Psychology (1975).  The Soul’s Code (1997) established a firm foundation for archetypal psychology within the human potential movement.  If modern psychology overemphasized a scientific, rational, egoistic approach, then Hillman can be credited with revitalizing the psyche or soul.  Myth, metaphor, and poetry figured prominently in Hillman’s works and therapy becames artistic creation.  For Hillman the dream was revelation, “…dreams tell us where we are, not what to do.”

Hillman’s influence will reverberate for a very long time.  He invited us to grow down while we endeavor to grow up. It was given to James Hillman to bring us back to the ancient notion of the daimon. Across the world there are people who were touched by James Hillman who will mourn his death.  His courageous, sustained willingness to pursue his daimons provides us a precious example.  He struck out anew many times.   It seems fitting to offer a few lines from Tennyson’s Ulysses as an homage.

Though much is taken, much abides; and though

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

When people like Steve Jobs, Princess Diana, or Mother Teresa pass, there is an enormous outpouring of emotion.  James Hillman’s passing will evoke an outpouring of emotion and perhaps it will also provoke an enormous inpouring too.  One way we might pay our respects to James Hillman is to redouble our efforts to grow down as we honor the unique journey of awakening and individuation that belongs to each of us to reveal.  May his family and loved ones, his students, and his friends find comfort and inspiration in this time of loss.

Len Cruz, MD, ME

The New York Times article on James Hillman.

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What’s in Your “Red Book”?

Carl Jung’s Red Book provides a window into his interior life and since its publication there has been intense interest and study of the it’s contents.  We live in an extraordinary time in which information is so accessible that if you are near a wi-fi network and have any one of dozens of devices in hand, you can secure an answer to a question almost instantly.  I am typing this on an iPad.  I was tempted to pause and look up some shocking comparisons between the typical number of pages read by a modern person compared to someone from Jung’s era.  But that would lead me astray.  It seems we are flooded with more information but take less time to contemplate or reflect on that information.   Like humus that enriches the soil, data and information must be allowed to compost, to decompose, to dissolve in order to be reconstituted as psychological substance. Is there an inverse function between the quantity of information we encounter and the depth to which it penetrates us?  The Red Book was one man’s effort to plumb his own depths.  Jung must have had substantial faith to devote himself for so long and with such committed self-examination.  The Red Book is a testament to Jung’s willingness to descend into his inner universe with faith that there would be riches waiting to be discovered. I doubt that I am the only therapist who spends his/her days honoring client’s processes while neglecting his own.  I feel disheartened when clients disregard or neglect their rich interior life.  Yet, I have no right to cast the first stone; too often, I do not practice what I preach. This is an invitation.  If you feel so moved, share an excerpt from your personal Red Book. Many of us have been enriched by Jung’s Red Book.  Words, drawings, photos, verse, or whatever speaks to (and from) your depths would be welcome.  Many more may be enriched by some examples of the sort of entries being made in a current Red Book. Maybe those excerpts from your personal Red Book will inspire others to give their interior explorations their proper due.

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In What Spirit Are You Living?: Jung’s “Spirit of the Times” vs “Spirit of the Depths”…

In the first section of Carl Jung’s Red Book he dives into the question of how he is living his life.  He feels torn between two powerful forces within his soul.  He calls them “the Spirit of the Times” & “the Spirit of the Depths”.   In this 3 minute video blog Dr. Murray Stein describes these two spirits.
Under what spirit does our society live?  In what spirit do you live?
Comments and reflections are welcome!    -Steven Buser, MD
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