Faust’s Dream

Faust's Dream, by Luis Ricardo Falero- 1880. Sotheby's. US Public Domain.
Faust’s Dream, by Luis Ricardo Falero- 1880. Sotheby’s. US Public Domain. Click to enlarge.

FAUST: What is your name?

MEPHISTOPHELES: The question seems absurd / For someone who despises the mere word, / Who treats appearances as vain illusion / And seeks the truth in such remote seclusion.

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Transcendence: ascent of the soul


Hieronymus Bosch, Ascent of the Blessed. between circa 1490 and circa 1516. US public domain, wikimedia 

“The soul is presupposed as a ready-made agent, which displays such features as its acts and utterances, from which we can learn what it is, what sort of faculties and powers it possesses — all without being aware that the act and utterance of what the soul is really invests it with that character in our conception and makes it reach a higher stage of being than it explicitly had before.” -Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Philosophy of Spirit, p.7

“Consciousness sets itself up as Reason, awaking at one bound to the sense of its rationality: and this Reason by its activity emancipates itself to objectivity and the consciousness of its intelligent unity.” -Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Philosophy of Spirit, p.6

“By logic and reason we die hourly. By imagination we live.” –William Butler Yeats


“The cave is the place of rebirth, that secret cavity in which one is shut up in order to be incubated and renewed… Just such a place of the centre or of transformation is the cave in which those seven had gone to sleep, little thinking that they would experience there a prolongation of life verging on immortality. When they awoke, they had slept 309 years. The legend has the following meaning: Anyone who gets into that cave, that is to say into the cave which everyone has in himself, or into the darkness that lies behind consciousness, will find himself involved in an-at first-unconscious process of transformation. By penetrating into the unconscious he makes a connection with his unconscious contents. This may result in a momentous change of personality in the positive or negative sense. The transformation is often interpreted as a prolongation of the natural span of life or as an earnest of immortality….

Those seven sleepers indicate by their sacred number that they are gods, [The seven are the planetary gods of the ancients] who are transformed during sleep and thereby enjoy eternal youth. This helps us to understand at the outset that we are dealing with a mystery legend. The fate of the numinous figures recorded in it grips the hearer, because the story gives expression to parallel processes in his own unconscious which in that way are integrated with consciousness again. The representation of the original state is tantamount to attaining once more the freshness of youth.” (Carl Jung, CW 9I, 241- 242)

William Blake, Newton- 1795, US Public Domain
William Blake, Newton- 1795, US Public Domain

What follows is a story told by Carl Jung of an old man who lived in a cave:

“There was once a queer old man who lived in a cave, where he had sought refuge from the noise of the villages. He was reputed to be a sorcerer, and therefore he had disciples who hoped to learn the art of sorcery from him. But he himself was not thinking of any such thing. He was only seeking to know what it was that he did not know, but which, he felt certain, was always happening. After meditating for a very long time on that which is beyond meditation, he saw no other way of escape from his predicament than to take a piece of red chalk and draw all kinds of diagrams on the walls of his cave, in order to find out what that which he did not know might look like. After many attempts he hit on the circle. “That’s right,” he felt, “and now for a quadrangle inside it!”-which made it better still. His disciples were curious; but all they could make out was that the old man was up to something, and they would have given anything to know what he was doing. But when they asked him: “What are you doing there?” he made no reply. Then they discovered the diagrams on the wall and said: “That’s it!”-and they all imitated the diagrams. But in so doing they turned the whole process upside down, without noticing it: they anticipated the result in the hope of making the process repeat itself which had led to that result. This is how it happened then and how it still happens today.” (Carl Jung, 9I, para 232)


  1. The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.9 Part 1)

Womb of Creation

The babe in the womb; Leonardo da Vinci, 1511, US Public Domain
The babe in the womb; Leonardo da Vinci, 1511, US Public Domain

The spectacular journey into self-hood begins in a safe and protected environment, the womb. The womb of our mother mirrors the larger womb of creation from which we emerge. We develop within the mother’s body and her body serves as the first and primary matrix of our experience. The infant in the womb is pure possibility, pure potential. The infant experiences no language, only pulsations, movements, and cycles of activity and sleep. Time is the rhythm of the mother’s heart; space the containment of the mother’s body.

As the baby is born into the world it bring with it this presence of pure possibility. To gaze into the eyes of a newborn is to know pure potential. Many of us have experienced such precious moments, holding an infant in our arms, a twinkle in infant eye opens our hearts to a wild and powerful universe within a fragile form.

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