Sunday, September 6, 2009

Where Have You Been? Where Are You Going?

"True scientific knowledge does not consist only in answering the question of the What. It reaches fulfillment only when it is able to discover the Whence and to combine it with the Whither. Knowing becomes understanding only when it embraces the beginning, the continuation, and the end." ~J.J. Bachofen, Mutterrecht [Mother Right] (1861)
This quote is included by Jolande Jacobi in her seminal book on psychologist Carl Jung's work, The Way of Individuation, in order to explain the idea, seeded 80 years before Jung, that "psychic life should be regarded as a meaningfully ordered process containing its goal within itself." She further states:
"The psyche is the theatre of all our struggles for development. It is the organ of experience, pure and simple. The affirmation of these struggles is "life"; negation of them means isolation, resignation, desiccation." ~Jolande Jacobi, The Way of Individuation, Zurich, 1965, p. 14.
If the psyche is the "organ of experience," all of which is to be affirmed, embraced, acknowledged consciously in order for a person to be fully realized and whole, and if psychic life is truly a "meaningfully ordered process" that contains within itself a goal, then we can safely conclude that all of life's experience is to be embraced as part of our process of "individuation," which Jacobi explains is a natural process that has both conscious and unconscious components. And "individuation" is the "striving for maturation and self-realization from the seed to the fruit."

The Directors of Servant Leaders are very deeply interested in this process of self-realization, particularly in people in their early adulthood when this process seems to be most acutely evident. Jung felt that all of this ordered experience was formed according to some hidden ground-plan. We believe the plan may be partly hidden (we are not given to know everything of the plan), but that the plan itself is perfect, and is intentional -- for our good.

Dr. Henry Cloud, in his book written with Dr. John Townsend, How People Grow, also talks about the process of individuation, or "spiritual growth," and relates his insight that "all of the processes that had changed peoples' lives were in the pages of Scripture. The Bible talked about the things that helped people grow in relational and emotional areas as well a spiritual ones" -- in other words, spiritual growth held the solution to life's struggles, conflicts and roadblocks, allowing people to do more than just cope with their debilitating circumstances; it made it possible for them to overcome them altogether. Rick Warren, in The Purpose-Driven Life (p. 172), says "God's ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort, but character development."
According to Cloud and Townsend, we are to be overcomers. We are to strive for spiritual growth and maturation, looking outside of ourselves. We are not just to "cope" with our circumstances. We are to be victorious over them.

Thus, the "whence" (where we came from) has significance, but does not define the "whither" (where we are going).  And, to Jacobi, the affirmation of these struggles is a life worth living.

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