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  • Jungian Psychotherapy for Spiritual Crisis 3: Belonging

    Belonging, or as modern psychology might refer to it, attachment, is a key element in spirituality; its absence can lead to spiritual crisis as Jungian case studies affirms.

    rose as symbol in jungian case studies

    Belong in the World

    For many people, feeling a sense of truly belonging in the world is a deep issue.  Jungian case studies stresses that uncertainty about belonging is central to many a spiritual crisis.

    We come into the world ready to belong, to attach — we might well say that this instinct has something archetypal about it,   Yet, starting even from a very early age, it may be our experience that the world seems to offer little hospitality or welcome for who we actually are.  That, at least, is the experience of many individuals.

    It may be essential to the resolution of any spiritual crisis for an individual to experience a sense of rightness to his or her life — a sense of genuinely belonging in life.

    Belonging in the Self

    Jungian case studies refers to “relativization of the ego” as the process by which the individual ego comes to realize that it is not the sum total of who we are.  That role belongs to the Self, the fullness of all that we are, conscious and unconscious.  There are unconscious processes working themselves out in our lives, going on without conscious control, and even without consciousness.  This can be a very humbling realization, but it can also provide healing to the  individual in spiritual crisis to realize that the ego does not exist in splendid isolation– it is part of something greater, rather than heroically alone.

    Jungian case studies affirms that the Self has a sense of purpose it that goes beyond that of the ego.

    The Numinous

    What Jung stated about the numinous is very important for those in spiritual crisis.   The numinous is what gives religious experience its compelling power — but it is  found in many other places than organized religion.  As Jung said, the numinous is:

    “a dynamic agency or effect not caused by an arbitrary act of will…. [that grips] the human subject.”

    As Andrew Samuels added:

    “The numinous cannot be conquered; one can only open oneself to it.”

    This experience is at the root of spirituality.  In addition to contact with something greater, it also implies contact with “a not-yet-disclosed, attractive and fateful meaning” (Samuels).

    It’s not often put this way, but the numinous conveys profound connectedness and belonging, especially to those in spiritual crisis.

    Destiny and the Love of Fate

    Jung often spoke of “amor fati”, the ability to love one’s fate.

    It may be a life’s work to come to the point where an individual can begin to have this kind of self acceptance and acceptance of life, and of the direction that life has taken.  It is no small thing, to say the least, and should never be spoken of lightly.

    Yet, to love one’s fate, to be able to accept one’s life, can be central to the sense of belonging, and the journey to wholeness.


    PHOTO: Attribution Some rights reserved ~suchitra~ |   VIDEO: Rumi,  “There is A Field”  aeneb1
    1. jamenta


      November 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm -

      This post knocked my socks off. One of your best and most insightful Brian. Thanks!

      1. Brian C
        November 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm -

        Thanks very much, John. Glad you found it meaningful! All the best.

    2. jamenta


      November 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm -

      How you connect “Belonging” to one’s personal spiritual crisis that is

      related to meaning resonated with me. If there is no “attachment” to
      life then the sense of “belonging” also evaporates. This seems to be
      even more a predicament for some of us as we get older. Such as the

      personal losses we have experienced that leave us alone and unconnected
      in our aging years. The distancing from a corporately driven society so

      caught up in youth and youthful productivity (where now being older you

      are less likely to be hired). A society that mechanizes and dehumanizes

      life with daily grinding work – and of late, at least here in America,

      this daily grinding work does not even lead to a fair and equitably

      piece of the prosperity pie – more and more individuals are treated as

      mere wage serfs.

      How does one continue to connect with such a society and world? It
      does take IMO some amount of faith in the numinous aspects
      of the unconscious – given the personal losses and detachment and
      dehumanization some of us have barely survived from. Also – how does

      one find the courage to face whatever the deeper Self within the

      unconscious decides to move you toward in your final years? My best
      to you Brian.

    3. meyanui immaculate Niba
      November 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm -

      i like this but need more for my spritual journey thanks and God bless.

      1. Brian C
        November 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm -

        Thank you for your comment, meyanui. I’m glad that you found the post meaningful. I agree with you, too, that spirituality is more than just the dimension of belonging, although that is certainly an aspect of it that is quite important. I hope that you will read all of my articles in this series, as together they form much more of a comprehensive picture. Thanks again for your comment!

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