When my God-image was wholly masculine I was like a computer in a darkened room. My head was a storehouse of data and my mind was a whirlwind of non-stop activity filling every corner of the screen with a continuous flow of thoughts, words, ideas, questions, and concerns. I knew many facts and theories about the outer world, and I knew how to make them sound and look good, but I understood little about my inner life. In effect, the bright screen I presented to the world was only a pinpoint of light in a vast darkness. Meanwhile, beyond my dark room was an unknown universe of light, feeling, meaning, sensation, and beauty.
My introduction to that universe was gradual. In the 30 years between 17 and 47 I underwent three crises of meaning triggered by life experiences that compelled me to question the purpose of my life and the spiritual beliefs I looked to as guides. Each time, after searching for new sources of spiritual sustenance, I was given a glimpse into the realm beyond: twice by way of physical, sensory experiences that had no traditional, logical, or scientific explanations, and the third time by way of some “big” dreams that provided invaluable guidance. Through these experiences my believing was gradually replaced by knowing that something sacred existed in me that had nothing to do with my ego. I knew it because I had experienced it.
I had no idea where my experiences came from or why they happened, and I can prove nothing about them to anyone. But they happened, these physical, sensory, life-altering, inner events. These “feminine” spiritual awakenings. These gifts of grace. And they changed me, inflaming my languishing spirit and restoring meaning to a soul that had practically dried up for lack of it.
Jung pointed out that “the ideas which form the content of every religion are not primarily the product of an externally originating revelation, but of a subjective revelation from within the human psyche.” For him, for the Christian Gnostics, and for everyone who has ever struggled to overcome the limitations of the spirit of the times which does not address the spirit of the depths, a new kind of certainty arises from unexplainable, personally compelling phenomena. Belief in outer authorities simply cannot stand up to an interior event — whether it is a powerful new insight, dream, vision, synchronistic experience, or profound emotion — which opens our hearts and fills us with awe, wonder, reverence, compassion, and meaning.
Once Dr. Jung was asked if he believed in God. His reply was something like, “I do not need to believe in God; I know.” In Jungian psychology our minds and spirits are equated with the masculine principle and our bodies and souls with the feminine principle. Dr. Jung’s reply indicates that he had experienced the Great Mystery in the feminine Way that originates in the right hemisphere of the brain, and that he had used its unique language to inform and enrich his own spiritual journey. His recently published The Red Book is a brilliant testament to the value of this way of connecting with the Mystery as a life-transforming spiritual path.
Personally meaningful spiritual experiences give rise to gnosis, the spiritual knowing that transforms our ego’s heroic struggle for consciousness from single-minded self-centeredness into centeredness in the Self, the source of all our spiritual striving.
What spiritual experiences have helped you become more centered in the Self?
“Man, like the other animals, is originally simply the puppet of instinct, just as the infant is. Unless he is moved by instinct, he remains