Carl Jung and the Symbolic Life
Human beings need to spare a few minutes a day to live a symbolic life.The Western World is passing through extremes of materialism. Spirituality seems to be outmoded. But, if you carve a happy life, you need to balance your material live with a symbolic life. A symbolic life requires the giving some time of your day to dialogue with your soul, to nurse an internal life. It does not mean that you have to abandon your normal life; just spare a few minutes a day to talk to your soul. There are several ways to nurture an internal life: prayer, meditation and the symbolic life.
Concerning meditation, the Christian Churches are emphasizing this approach which was originally practiced by the fathers of the Church in the Egyptian Desert in the initial centuries, but was lost from the Christian tradition for many centuries. Some sectors of the Catholic Church are emphasizing this approach for an interior life. If you are interested in learning more, I refer you to the World Community for Christian Meditation (www.wccm.org)
To live a symbolic life, you should pay attention to your dreams and practice active imagination.
Dream interpretation is not an easy task. The importance of dreams was recognized in antiquity, but dreams were practically forgotten until the year 1900 when Freud wrote “On the Interpretation of Dreams”. He proposed the use of word associations to find the meaning of dreams. Jung expanded Freud´s ideas, suggesting that, in addition of word association, we should expand certain dreams using amplification, a process that looks for parallels of the dream with world myths. James Hillman, one of his most prominent followers of Jung, suggested a step ahead; that we should try to relive our dreams. Talk to the images of the dream, make a play out of the dream, become present to the settings of the dream. In summary, use your creativity to play with your dream.
Jung developed the method of Active Imagination to talk to the “daemons” that live inside our psyche. Jung postulates that we have several of these figures in our unconscious. Our psyche carries many archetypes, like the Shadow, the Anima in the masculine psyche, the Animus in the feminine psyche, the Self, just to name a few. These archetypes can be personified as “daemons”, persons or animals. In active imagination, we dialogue with these entities and learn from them.