Self-knowledge through mediation, symbol & sacred text: Analytic psychology meets Eastern philosophy
In the Mysterium Coniunctionis (CW 14), Carl Jung speaks of immanence as a deep alchemical truth. He speaks of “the secret immanence of the divine spirit of life in all things” (CW 14). In an age when most believe that ‘God is dead’, the idea of a ‘secret’ and ‘deep truth’ seems rather passe. But what if there really is a secret. What if behind all the signs and symbols and archetypes there is a secret waiting to be discovered.
Only human beings can keep a secret. We are the only beings in the universe capable of a secret, and in this way it is only we who can discover the ‘deep truth’ that is our own ‘secret’. A secret is that which should not or could not be told. And yet, a secret is often revealed because it slips out through accidental gestures and signs, making itself known through dreams, imagination and synchronicities.
In many ways the ‘deep truth’ of immanence can only be a secret, for it is a secret even unto ourselves. Immanence is a secret because it is precisely that which so deeply saturates our lives that it is beyond language to describe– it cannot be spoken. It is that thing that we stutter upon: only making itself heard as a mumble, hum, or even a vibration. It is the shimmering truth which is found in gaps between discourse, and in the ambient sounds which permeate the backdrop of life.
There are few words that can begin to describe immanence, for it is so thoroughly present to our experience that it saturates each moment, each movement of our bodies, each expression of our faces. And we see it making itself known in the gestures and body language of others.
We can experience immanence only insofar as we are capable of being present to the deep emotions that flow through our minds as pre-throughts, and ur-symbols. We will know immanence when we no longer fear and defend from feeling, but instead embrace feeling as an ur-language which speaks a deep truth awaiting to be discovered, and known, and articulated. It is a language of divine love, a grammar of the sacred, spoken in words that only the heart can understand.
Immanence is the inarticulable ground of our subjectivity and inter-subjectivity– it is that within us that is more than us. It weaves the very web of life. Even thought we may not be able to directly articulate immanence, it is the interconnectedness of all being which gives rise to all that we think that we know and hope to believe.
To open to immanence is to be connected to that which is greater than ourselves: to feel the flow of life, to be enlivened by the divinity which is all around us and within us. Although we cannot directly speak of immanence, poetry and art often emanate from its depths. For it is in the depths of our being that we discover the truth manifesting itself in our hearts yearning to come into a deeper relationship with the divine as it permeates life.
This process of coming into a deeper relationship with life is a process of coming into relationship with the ‘deep truth’. It is inter-relationship that is both with ourselves and with the world around us. It is a discovery, an immanent turn, available to those who have searched and found their ‘individuality’. It is a shift of focus from individuation to interrelation: from me to we. And thus immanence is love, but not libidinal love as desire. Instead, it is divine love, love for life, and love for being.