Happiness Academy Online

A Blog about Psychology (Jungian), Spirituality and Happiness, By Roberto Lima Netto.

Carl Jung and the Symbolic Life


Carl Jung and the Symbolic Life

Symbolic Life

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)

Symbolic Life

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.

Active Imagination

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.

I’m Roberto Lima Netto, a Jungian. I write Jungian books –  The Jungian BibleThe Little Prince for Grownups — and Psychological thrillers – The Amazon Shaman, – In Search of Happiness.

I was involved in the business world, as an executive of large companies and university professor since recently. I was the president CSN, the largest steel-mill of Latin America and was responsible for its turn-around. My first encounter with the teachings of the Swiss psychologist C. G. Jung, one of the greatest geniuses of the 20th Century, was during my midlife crisis. Reading "Man and his Symbols" at that time, inspired me to go into Jungian analysis and to begin devouring the writings of Jung and his disciples. Since then, I've been studying psychology, especially Jungian psychology and, after reaching my seventies, I decided to become a full time writer, specializing on books on Jungian psychology and psychological thrillers. Every masterpiece of literature can be absorbed through multiple interpretations, and yield powerful insights for our daily lives. My first Jungian book, “The Little Prince for Grown-ups“, in its fourth edition in Brazil, was based on the famous book of Saint-Exupéry. The second, - “The Jungian Bible” - interprets some stories of the Old Testament and world myths. As I get older and, with a bit of luck, wiser, I want to pass on to the younger generations the lessons life has taught me. Jesus Christ taught that it was easier to sell ideas with stories. Following the Master, I published in English "The Amazon Shaman" and "In Search of Happiness", two psychological thrillers around the theme of happiness.

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  1. I loved Hillman’s comment saying that we should “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”. which seems to me to be really just an amplification of Jung’s widely known proposal of “active imagination”. By the way, in the Portuguese version of my book, “A Nova Conversa”, I introduce the opposition between “interlocução” (“interlocution”? Argh!) and “intralocução” (“intralocution”? Argh! Argh!). Best regards.

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