Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Path Towards Self-Realization

March 13, 2014 by  

Note: The following essay will be published in several parts. It was written in 1987 when I was 16 years old. After praying that I would find it, I recently discovered it in an old chest. I was moved to tears upon reading it, as I needed very much to be reminded of what originally inspired me to seek Truth, and eventually to embrace Islam. It explains how many people can recognize the wisdom of the Quran immediately, the first time it is read to them, like they would recognize the back of their hand. Please enjoy…
The Psyche
When asked, “Who are you?” most people respond similarly to this: “I am a man named Bob Smith, I am short and a little overweight. I am a computer technician. I am a nice guy.” These words describe Bob’s title, his physical and mental characteristics, and his occupation in society. But is that really WHO Bob Smith is?
Who are you? Are you merely the activities performed by your body, or are you something deeper than that? If you change your occupation or lose ten pounds, are you no longer the same person? Of course not! That’s ridiculous! There must be a being inside you who remains constant, no matter what mental or physical changes your body happens to go through. The identification with the body and ego instead of the soul is what leads to the fear of aging and death. It keeps us in a prison, which prevents us from knowing truths having nothing to do with our material body.
When you sleep, you are said to be your true self, for you are freed from intellectual and physical bondage. Your true self roams around in your subconscious, and you perceive this as “dreaming.” But where does this being go when you are awake? This being is you, yet is not confined to the physical realm. It perceives and experiences all that you do, yet is simultaneously a witness and judge of all your thoughts and activities. This being has the ability to wander around freely no matter what your body is doing. This being is your unconscious self. It reveals itself to your conscious mind through your conscience, your memory, your daydreams, etc.
This unconscious being is known as your soul, or “psyche.” In Greek mythology, Psyche is the daughter of sea and sky. Her form is a drop of dew upon the earth. This represents your spirit, which though residing in a physical form, is no different than the universal spirit. Each individual person has a psyche, and that is why humanity is said to be One, regardless of outer differences.
Deep inside each person is the psyche, who is a drop in the sea of what Carl Jung called the “Universal Consciousness.” This is the treasure-house of knowledge which is not confined to individual experience. Anais Nin wrote in her Diary: “The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.” This explains the similarity between religions of different cultures; the phenomena of knowing things which no one ever taught you – truths such as “I exist,” that you base your life on.
To tap into this unconscious knowledge, to bring the psyche into your consciousness is to become “enlightened.” When you bring your psyche out of the darkness of the unconscious, you awaken knowledge which has been lying dormant inside you. You become aware of ultimate realities and higher truths. Your true self is realized, and your purpose in life is revealed.
Psyche is also represented in another myth by the Holy Grail for which Parsifal searches. To find and hold onto the Holy Grail is to find perfect fulfillment of your heart’s true desires.
In order to cope with the wisdom attained by getting closer to Psyche, who resides in the center of our being, we must have strength and balance; a give and take between our conscious control and unconscious domination. The reason we are imbalanced is because we repress certain aspects of our personality. They are called “Shadow Elements” by Jung – the repressed or unlived sides of your total potentiality. A balanced personality is well-rounded; strong enough to delve deeper into the unconscious and bring out more profound realizations.
Each person has both masculine and feminine sides to their personality. The masculine side deals with the release of psychic energy by means of action, extroversion, and strength; building and leading groups. It reacts to problems with intellect and reason. Defenses are masculine traits, including the inner defenses, as well as the desire to protect others from harm.The masculine side depends on the feminine side for energy, inspiration and the meaning for all this action.
The feminine side of the personality takes in and transforms energy so that the masculine can release it or make something out of it. Feminine traits are perception, intuition, nurturing, organizing, life-giving, and endurance. It responds to problems emotionally. It is sensitive and delicate, and depends on protection from the masculine side.
In a balanced personality, action is guided by intuition. Both aspects are needed in life and for creation. For example: to draw a picture, you need to take in and transform an image in your mind, and then use action to draw what you see; combining feeling with doing.
The soul is beyond both masculine and feminine. It has no sex to speak of. However, because of its sensitive, life-giving qualities, the psyche is thought of as feminine, just as God is referred to as masculine because of His powerful, creating and ruling qualities.
Everyone is unbalanced to some extent, due to the fact that we are human and therefore imperfect. The realization of this imbalance is the first step towards balance. Although some extreme imbalances are more obvious than others, we all must work to bring our unconscious Shadow Elements into our consciousness.
One example of an extreme imbalance is the stereotypical “macho man.” Such a person concentrates totally on developing his masculine traits and ignores his gentler, feminine, emotional traits. Because he pushes his emotions into his unconscious, there they grow and transform into anger, which at times overwhelms him and leads to violent outbursts of rage. The other thing that happens when he represses his feminine, life-giving side is that he feels empty and his life devoid of meaning. He uses lots of women to try and replace his feminine side and so get a sense of well-being. Unfortunately, none of his relationships last because he isn’t accepting the woman as a human being with a personality. The inner feminine cannot be replaced by an outer feminine.
When you are balanced inside, you don’t need so much to rely on outer, unreliable means of support. You are able to break free from the life-long search for happiness, and the rebellion against one’s own true self. When you can bring your Shadow Side out of the unconscious and achieve the balance necessary for a well-rounded personality, you can then delve even deeper into the unconscious to find the psyche and the boundless wisdom she offers.
[to be continued...]

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