Jungian Therapy & the Second Half of Life, 6: Mystery
In the second half of life, mystery is more and more our companion, and Jungian therapy urges us to open ourselves to it, rather than run from it.
The Surrounding Mystery
What does Jungian therapy mean by mystery? Well, clearly not this:
The kind of mysteries that we’re dealing with in this context are not some hidden facts waiting to be puzzled out by intense investigation. Rather, we’re talking about those aspects of human life that are impenetrable to the human intellect. Or better yet: those things in human existence that we can understand and understand more and more about, and yet there will always be profound things about them that the human mind cannot exhaust or fully penetrate. These things might not always fit neatly into our lives, but they are the things that give human life its real depth.
The Mystery of the Self
Jungian therapy has as its starting point one of these profound mysteries, namely that the ego or conscious mind is not the complete personality in a human being. Another greater reality is involved: the Self, which Andrew Samuels defines as “the unity of the personality as a whole.” The Self in us is continually striving to bring together the opposites in our nature. Sometimes, we’re aware in the second half of life that something in us doesn’t just go along with the direction that our ego may choose for us — it has its own clear direction and sense of where we should be going in our personal journey, and its own greater wisdom.
The Mystery of Life
The course of our life has a definite direction and shape. The psychological concerns and tasks native to the second half of life are different from the life tasks in the first half. As we move through life, we are unavoidably confronted with the question, “What is of lasting value?” The answer to that question is linked to our personal mythology, and it will likely take us into the territory of the mystery in life.
What is it, in this second half of life, that takes on fascination and depth for you? That really grips you? As you explore this, you enter into mystery, and also into intimations of deep significance and meaning. Jungian therapy is concerned to uncover the value and meaning in life through the exploration of its mysteries, and ultimately, the mystery of our own unique and individual being.
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© 2012 Brian Collinson