Self-realization as revealed in art, symbol & sacred text: the archetypes of Carl Jung & the lore of enlightenment
“Everything psychic has a lower and a higher meaning, as in the profound saying of late classical mysticism: ‘Heaven above, Heaven below, stars above, stars below, all that is above also is below, know this and rejoice.’ Here we lay our finger on the secret symbolical significance of everything psychic.” (CW 5, para 77)
In the above passage Jung is referencing a mystical text titled the Oedipus Aegyptiacus. Jung borrows from this text to express the tension of opposites within psyche life. The psyche has an urge, aim, a desire: part an expression of base instinct and part spiritual instinct. Fantasy holds the potential to express both of these instinctual urges.
Jung explains his point of view: the [Freudian] “sexual problem” is “only one half of the meaning, and the lower half at that. The other half is ideal creation as a substitute for real creation.” (CW 5, para 77) Here, Jung recognizes the spiritual instincts of the soul. Such instincts modify base instinctual urges into the spiritual through the creation of spiritual symbols and ‘ideals.’ Through spiritual symbols the soul expresses a capacity to dialectically integrate the tension of opposites within the Self.
Jung goes on to say that such symbol creation may hold a ‘presentiment of the future,’ guiding the individual in the process of psychical transformation. Jung says:
“With personalities who are obviously capable of intellectual effort, the prospect of spiritual fruitfulness is something worthy of their highest aspirations, and for many people it is actually a vital necessity. This other side of the fantasy also explains the excitement, for we are concerned here with a thought that contains a presentiment of the future-one of those thoughts which, to quote Maeterlinck, spring from the “inconscient superieur,” (the higher unconscious) from the “prospective potency” of a subliminal synthesis.” (CW 5, para 78)
The ‘higher unconscious’ or soul’s imagination appears to hold the instinctual and creative ability to create a subliminal synthesis of opposites. Such a synthesis may offer ‘visionary clarity’ into the ‘hidden meaning’ of one’s life. Jung says:
“I have had occasion to observe, in the course of my daily professional work [that… ] a dream, often of visionary clarity, occurs about the time of the onset of the illness or shortly before, which imprints itself indelibly on the mind and, when analyzed, reveals to the patient a hidden meaning that anticipates the subsequent events of his life.” (CW 5, para 78)
Here, Jung is beginning to apprehend the teleological nature of psychic life. The soul expresses teleology within dreams, asserting ‘hidden meanings’, pointing to ‘the subsequent events of his life.’ In a footnote Jung goes into further detail:
“Just as memories that have long since fallen below the threshold are still accessible to the unconscious, so also are certain very fine subliminal combinations that point forward, and these are of the greatest significance for future events in so far as the latter are conditioned by our psychology. But no more than the science of history bothers itself with future combinations of events, which are rather the object of political science, can the forward-pointing psychological combinations be the object of analysis; they would be much more the object of a refined psychological syntheticism that knew how to follow the natural currents of libido. This we cannot do, or only badly; but it happens easily enough in the unconscious, and it seems as if from time to time, under certain conditions, important fragments of-this-work come to light, at least in dreams, thus accounting for the prophetic significance of dreams long claimed by superstition. Dreams are very often anticipations of future alterations of consciousness. (fn 18)
The soul creates symbols which are ‘forward-pointing psychological combinations’.’ Such symbols ‘follow the natural currents of libido.’ Dream symbols, guided by libido, may anticipate “future alterations of consciousness.”