DR BREN’s Life Coaching for the Soul, in essence, is about seeing and transcending your egoic trances (or what Jung called “complexes) such that your soul can live.
We naturally have two selves: ego , which is the center of our physical being and the psychological construct associated with the brain, and soul, which is the center of our spiritual or eternal being.
Ultimately, life on this planet is about coming to know your soul, your eternal being. If you don’t achieve this egoic transcendence, then you will be stuck in the physical plane of reincarnation until you do, destined to the historical cycles we have created on earth.
So, what is an egoic trance?
Perhaps it is best to speak about what Jung described as a psychological complex, since the egoic trance is the “response” to a trigger or stimulus. (Click on the image below to see the diagram describing Jung’s idea of the psychological complex.)
Ego is essentially composed of psychological complexes. These complexes are, most often, formed in childhood as a defensive response to a situation or environment overwhelming and dangerous to the child.
In fact, the purpose of ego is to keep the physical being alive. These complexes are only symptomatic if they lead to destructive results, or, according to DR BREN”s Life Coaching for the Soul, if they lead to deprivation of the soul.
A psychological complex is triggered by a stimulus resulting in an intense emotional response / reaction, and a shrinking of focus and attention.
For instance, you see a Red Saab and it reminds you of your ex-boyfriend’s car which then causes you to cry because you miss him. This complex can swallow up all of your “present-moment awareness,” such that you become lost in your thoughts and emotions around this relationship, only to wake up minutes or hours later to realize you have driven all this way without knowing how you got there. (I’m very grateful we have an subconscious good-driving complex that operates the vehicle.)
Some Jungians say that we are always in a complex. I don’t agree; there are times when we are in soul (profound experiences of spirit, nature, art, etc.) which is definitely not a complex. If we are not in soul, then, yes, we are in a complex. Keep in mind complexes, in and of themselves, are not good or bad, they are simply basic structures of the ego.
Having said all that the trance is essentially the response to the trigger. In our example, it is when she got lost in her thoughts and feelings about her ex-boyfriend.
Most often, when you are in a trance you are unconscious and not present with the moment or the people around you.
In most cases, we do not have control of the stimulus, but we do have control over the trance (response) that corresponds to the trigger (stimulus).
How do you come to know your trances?
For the most part, you can only come to know your trances after you have come out of one, and in reflection you realize you lost touch with your body and the present moment. It is at this moment “the work” begins. In your conscious reflection try to record in your journal the triggers and mental and emotional associations that made up your trance. The one who can reflect on egoic trances is your true self, your soul. In particular, notice when and what you ruminated over, when it was in the past or future, and whether it was negative or positive.
It matters less for you to know the origin of your trances, as it does to understand the process. Understanding the process of your trance allows you to choose a different and conscious response.
Note: For more information about trances, see Stephen Wolinsky’s Trances People Live.
In this post I will ground the Star Woman in Jungian psychology as a guiding archetype for the Aquarian Age.
There are eight critical archetypes in Jung’s individuation process. Four are part of the personal world (microcosm / earth) and four are part of the collective world (macrocosm / heaven).
The four personal archetypes are: persona, ego, shadow and the trickster. The four collective archetypes: are animus (or anima for men), Self, serpent, and Sophia. (If you click on the figure it gets bigger.)
The Personal Archetypes
The persona is the face we show to the world; it can also be understood as the roles we play in society. The ego is our identity/personality, the “I” that we think we are. The shadow, is our alter-personality; it is composed of all that we think we are not. The trickster is the first inner male character a woman meets on her individuation journey. Previously Jungians have simply classified this figure as the animus in compliment to the man’s anima. However, in my research by female authors, e.g. Helen Luke, and my personal experience, a woman meets the trickster first. Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Women who Run with the Wolves names the trickster the predator in her second chapter. This character appears to initiate women into her inner creative world and higher levels of consciousness. (I will write more about the trickster in another blog post.)
The Collective Archetypes
The Self represents heaven, and the serpent represents earth. They are the first opposites created, light and dark, spirit and matter, etc. The animus is the women’s inner world personality, and Sophia (Star Woman) is the personality of the higher self of the earthly collective.
Most spiritual traditions regard ascension (serpent to Self/God) as the very essence of the soul’s journey. This is why I, tongue in check, call Jung’s individuation process the resurrection of the serpent in alignment with Gnostic beliefs. The spiritual and collective evolutionary task presenting earthlings at this time is to sacrifice the hubristic ego to the guidance of the Star Woman.
I could write a book on these first few paragraphs. (Oh yeah, I did! It’s called my dissertation.) Many volumes have been written about the archetypes of Jung’s individuation process, one of my favorites is Murray Stein’s Jung’s Map of the Soul. This blog post is only about one of these archetypes — Sophia/The Star Woman.
Why the Tarot
Before I launch into explaining the Star Woman, many may be wondering why the Tarot? In fact, Jung was interested in several divination practices like the I Ching and the Tarot. Both of these systems are signposts for one’s individuation journey. The I Ching also known as the Book of Changes documents 64 different changes in the cycle of life. The Tarot documents 22 stations the fool makes on his way to universal consciousness. I have in a previous post been discussing earth’s individuation from the Tower card to the Star card in the Tarot.
I said all this to put the Star Woman in context so that I could say a few words about her importance in the Aquarian age, the entering millennium.
The Star cards in the Tarot
The card on the left is from Aliester Crowley’s Thoth deck; and the card on the right is from the very popular Rider Waite deck. It is not my intention to talk about the differences, however, the guiding card for me is the card on the left, Lady Freida Harris’ surrealist’s depiction of the Star Woman for our times.
A woman, naked and kneeling on her left knee, pours from a vase in her right hand silver waters into a river, by which grow roses, the haunts of coloured butterflies. With her left hand, she pours golden waters over her head, which are lost in her long hair. Her attitude suggests the Swastika. Above flames a great star of seven rays. (Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot: An Authoritative Examination of the World’s Most Fascinating and Magical Tarot Card by Lon Milo DuQuette, p. 143)
The Star Woman as Guide for our Chaotic Times
The Star Woman is the medium connecting the collective with the personal, heaven with earth. “She is concerned with both, and through her ministrations the two interact creatively” (Nichols, p. 295). This is a critical statement because it puts earth and heaven on equal footing. This brings to mind Jung’s essay called “Answer to Job,” where he posits the necessary incarnation of Jesus Christ to learn what man knows that god does not. The ancient Emerald Tablet, the touchstone of alchemical texts and Egyptian/Hermetic philosophy, states “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing.” In this statement we see, again, the mutuality of heaven (Above) and earth (Below) in the creation of the Unus Mundi (One Thing). (Let me note here that Jung’s work on the Anima Mundi, the soul of the world, is the Star Woman.)
Personally, this means your inner soul figure (animus for women) mediates between the Star Woman and your ego.
The Aquarian age is a time when the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world is very thin giving anyone and everyone access to their higher psychic faculties. This is the goal of Jungian psychology. “Jung contends that man’s salvation lies within the depths of his psyche, and that each of us must labor in his own individual way to discover and free the golden essence which lies buried within our psycho-physical nature” *Nichols, p. 297).
From where I sit it looks like we are being prepared for another war in the Middle East which has the potential to irrupt into World War 3 with Russia. This may be the final fall of the old structures represented by the Tower card in the Tarot. While the desert religions believe this is the harbinger for their Messiah(s), I believe, as Jung did and many post-religious people do, that the savior is within.
The collapse of the twin towers sent a wake up call to my soul. From that moment on I have been faithfully following my soul’s path, not my ego’s wishes.
I’m sure it’s not news to say — We’ve come to the end of the road and find ourselves in Rome, the alpha and the omega of our monotheistic times.
We have played the story all the way to the end and find every aspect of our collective lives near death, i.e., atmosphere, Bible, banking, culture, democracy, diplomacy, energy, economy, ecology, earth, evolution, finances, government, humanity, healthcare, insurance, justice, Koran, life, meaning, medicine, money, Newtonian physics, which is the basis of most of our planetary systems, news, oceans, patriarchy, psychology, quetzalcoatl, regulations, religions, science, society, soul, space, sports, time, universe, vision, weath, xanadu, Yom Kippur, zeitgeist.
One could crumble under these facts, or continue in a collective, pathological, and psychological defense of denial to save ego from the truth of soul’s existence. Why not? Denial and other distortions of reality have gotten us this far. I believe it is time to resuscitate life on earth and reconnect with our soul and the soul of the world, what Jung called the Anima Mundi.
I also believe there is a map to the chaos we find ourselves in.
To understand what’s next for our planet, I turn to the 17th card in the Tarot Deck — The Star (Ray of Hope) which represents the dawning of the age of Aquarius, and follows the Tower card.
Many have said we are moving to a more feminine way of life. This return spirals up from feminine unconsciousness to feminine consciousness.
The Star is a nature priestess who connects heaven and earth following the alchemical text the Emerald Tablet’s doctrine of correspondence, i.e., as above, so below. This is similar to the restart button in Revelation where chapter twenty-one speaks of a new heaven and a new earth.
The Star Woman reveals herself in her nakedness, without a mask, without clothing. She helps unite our outer world with our inner world. Her arrival suggests the end of Patriarchy on this planet, and the beginning of our connection with the dimensional universe, from the narcissistic I to the empathetic we, from logos to eros, from the physical to the subtle, and so on.
The answers to our earthly foibles lie in the subtle realm, not the physical realm. The patriarchal ego must die, giving rise to our eternal soul.
I started writing this post yesterday, last night I dreamed I was anointed a priestess before I sang in a contest to complete my doctoral work. Interestingly, I am an ordained minister but I have, heretofore, not embarked on my ministerial work. I have had several dreams this month (April 2013) suggesting it is time for me to speak up. In every dream I have fallen in the face of my collective task because I was isolated and alone. The transition I am facing requires isolation in the alchemical vessel. This process will give rise to a new aquarian self.
To become the Star Woman is my new task. Wish me luck!
As I wrote these last lines, Jung’s scarab appeared in my window. OMG!
A few days later, I went to past-life hypnotherapist and learned my relationship to the Star Woman. I am to scribe the universal laws for the new earth coming in now as the aquarian age, however, I must get over my Cassandra Complex. More to Come!!!
As you continue your soul work you will eventually discover the repeated patterns of thought, feelings and sensations what Jack Kornfield called the “Insistent Visitors.” In this video/audio blog post I take you through four basic principles for dealing with these difficult and repeating problems.
The four principles are: Expand the Field of Awareness, Come to a Full Awareness of the Feelings, Discover what is Asking for Acceptance, and Open through the Center.
I’ve been asked many times about the differences between what Carl Jung taught and the lessons in Deepak Chopra’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge. So I thought I would get out a quick blog post explaining the differences as I see it.
Perhaps the most important difference concerns the development of ego in the west as rugged individual versus in the east as one part of a greater whole, be it family, society, or universe.
This difference is why Jung said almost a century ago that westerners cannot slap eastern spirituality on top of a western ego and expect enlightenment.
I make a strong distinction in my teachings about the ego and the soul as two distinct and different entities in the psyche. (See previous blog post about Ego and Soul.)
In the east transcending the ego is part and parcel of their cultural development; in the west we are our egos. Therefore, it makes sense to heal the ego and bring it into relationship with our souls; this is the path of Jungian individuation. As earthlings we need both, ego which is responsible for our physical being and soul which is responsible for our spiritual being.
In Jungian circles we call this dialectic relationship the ego-soul axis. Everything Chopra is talking about refers to the soul part of this equation.
As I’m sure you have experienced in your meditation ego is bouncing around all over the place with plans for the future, or ruminating on past events. Your experience of the eternal soul and its connection to Source occurs in those fleeting spaces between ego’s obsessions.
Meditation is a practice to increase the spaces in your psyche where soul can enter your life.
There is one last distinction between Jungian thought and Chopra’s teachings related to Source. In Jungian Psychology the Self or Source has intentions for our soul on earth which becomes our purpose in life to fulfill. Chopra’s teachings has ego intentions asking Source for fulfillment. I believe the truth lies between these two extremes. We have a distinct purpose to fulfill on earth, and if our intentions align with this purpose then Source will fulfill wishes.
The heroine crosses the threshold, leaves the safety of her home, and goes in search of her self. She journeys up hills and down valleys, wades in rivers and streams, crosses dry deserts and dark forests, and enters the labyrinth to find what is at the center of her self. Along the way she meets ogres who trick her into going down dead ends, adversaries who challenge her cunning and resolve, and obstacles which she must avoid, circumstances to overcome. She needs a lamp, a lot of thread, and all of her wits about her to make the journey. – Maureen Murdock in The Heroine’s Journey
Everyone’s soul and journey is unique. DR BREN has developed a unique approach to helping people reconnect with their souls and to dare to live their lives fully and meaningfully.
LISTEN TO YOUR SOUL
When soul learns you are interested in the journey of life, she will begin to send dreams and fantasies hoping you will be curious enough to take the step towards learning her language. Soul speaks symbolically and she sends the symbolic clues to healing your split between her and your ego. If you love mysteries you will never be bored with learning the mysteries of your own soul’s life.
DR BREN helps you understand and respond to the symbolic mysteries of your soul.
TURN YOUR CHILDHOOD DEFENSES INTO GIFTS
Most likely you are living your life in the past. Your life has been scripted by what has happened to you thus far. Your ego learned long ago in childhood what was safe and what was unsafe, developing strategies all along the way to avoid danger and maximize safety.
DR BREN helps you to identify the childhood strategies that are not serving you anymore, choosing strategies that are more appropriate for the demands of your adult life.
INTEGRATE YOUR SHADOW
Growing up in American society many parts of our selves have been denied expression and repressed into the unconscious. In depth psychology we call this the shadow. The shadow needs you as much as much as you need the shadow to live a full and meaningful life.
DR BREN helps you reconnect and integrate the lost parts of yourself.
BALANCE YOUR FEMININE AND MASCULINE ENERGIES
Anima, the Latin word for our feminine soul, has been pushed into the depths of the unconscious while the masculine spirit (also known as ego) soars to unsustainable heights. Identification with the masculine (spirited ego) and denigration and denial of the feminine (soul) deeply embedded in religious doctrines perpetuates this unnatural split forging a dangerous one-sided obsession with perfectionism, rationality and good as godly and everything else as evil. These out of balance forces (good/evil, spirit/soul, masculine/feminine, rational/irrational etc.) not only threaten our survival but every living species on this Earth.
DR BREN helps you to excavate and integrate the feminine and masculine energies into a fully integrated being.
When facing difficulties our automatic response (our egoic response) is get rid of the difficulty. Ego uses defense mechanisms like repression, denial, intellectualizing, reaction formation, projection, acting out, sublimation etc, to distort reality. In contrast, Buddhist and Jungian thought teaches us to turn these difficulties into alchemical gold. They teach us that our wounds that ego is protecting with these defenses are the very pathways to our soul and our highest potential.
Here is the latest audio blog post:
To take the one seat in the center is to commit to meditation as your central spiritual practice. Kornfield warns against the practice of trying many different spiritual practices which move you left and right, forward and backward without ever drilling deep into the depths of your being. In this blog post, rather than, re-capping the chapter, which I hope you read, or recapping my audio comments, to which I hope you listen, I am bringing in another Buddhist book I often recommend — Wake Up to your Life: Discovering the Buddhist Path of Attention by Ken McLeod.
In Chapter 3, “Cultivating Attention”, McLeod describes in great detail the practice of attention which is a critical precursor to meditation¹. McLeod distinguishes two types of attention: active and passive. He wrote,
When an experience absorbs emotional energy, whether the experience is a flower, a thought, a feeling, or a belief, attention goes passive and we are less present with what’s going on. Emotional energy shifts to a lower level. We are, in effect, passive participants in the experience.
In contrast, active attention occurs, “when attention remains directed at an object and there is a shift in clarity and vividness.” He goes on to say,
Active attention is volitional, stable, and inclusive. We choose to direct attention; we aren’t simply reacting to stimulus. Active attention is not disrupted by sounds, thoughts, sights, or other events in our experience…. Because active attention is not disrupted by habitual patterns, the more we live in attention, the less we fall victim to the reactive processes that are operating us.
With out further adieu, here is the visual/audio portion for Chapter 3, Take the One Seat!
¹ In the audio portion of this blog Lucia René in Unplugging the Patriarchy: A Mystical Journey into the Heart of a New Age tells us the practice of attention (or concentration) precedes the experience of meditation.
In this chapter (chapter two) Kornfield likens the war in our head between all the ego voices to the wars in the world. He suggests the way to have peace in the world is to stop the war inside. He suggests that adapting to our society leads one into denial and addiction saying
We use addictions to support out denials.
To wake up to these voices can be overwhelming and depressing, but if you persist you will eventually find peace inside. The most important thing to remember when you begin to pay attention to the voices inside is to simply notice without judging. It’s important to NOTstart a war with these voices for that only exacerbates the war.
In Jungian terms the process of paying attention and accepting “what is” is called taking back one’s shadow because what gets denied gets repressed into our unconscious. It distorts reality. So to take back one’s shadow is to see wholly.
Another important point in this process of “stopping the war” is to NOT identify with the voices. You are the observer of the voices; that is your true self. The voices have created the false self or what Jung called the persona.
Here is the audio portion for chapter two.