“There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the Self.”
You might be asking what the hell ‘circumambulation’ means. It’s an obscure, word for sure, and Carl Gustav Jung had a way with words that, at times, could lose people. He lost me now and then.
According to a quick Google search, the word means, “from Latin circum around and ambulātus to walk) is the act of moving around a sacred object or idol. Circumambulation of temples or deity images is an integral part of Hindu and Buddhist devotional practice (known in Sanskrit as pradakśina or pradakshinaṇā).” That is quite a pedigree, from the Indian Vedas to the Christian tradition.
Moving in a circular fashion around a sacred object, and an object we may take for granted in particular, is the Sun. That glowing ball of super-heated gas keeps us all in the game of existence. Gravity keeps this solar system moving along like clockwork (thinking of Isaac Newton, for a moment).
In the Western Mystery Tradition there is a principle called, “As Above, So Below”. Simply put, our outer experience of reality, with all its joys and agonies, tends to be a mirror of what we experience within. If our inner Sun, our authentic being and purpose – our essential conscious awareness – shines brightly, then odds on we’ll perceive ourselves, our situation, the people we share our lives with, clearly and with precision. We’ll really “see” reality as it truly is, with minimal filtering through social conditioning and life experiences. For some this shining presence within comes naturally. For others, a whole lifetime almost passes until the peny drops. For others, years of emotionally painful therapy, until that inner light switches on reliably.
We might also believe, in our blindness to our own potential, to that light, that we cannot, will not change. That we are who we are, come what may. We all evolve and change, often in imperceptible ways.
And yet, the light of Self, that inner organising principle towards renewal through evolution – sometimes painfully, if you’re not paying attention – keeps reminding us, that we are more than.
More than our thoughts.
More than our emotions.
More than our physical, sensate feelings, so closely associated with our emotions.
More than our imaginings of who we are, and who we might become.
More than our impulses, desires to be, and to do (be-do-be-do).
I’m thinking back to an earlier post, where I talked about the ‘inner pantheon’, of how the myths of ancient Greece (and Rome, and no doubt further afield and further back in time) as stories of universal tendencies playing out in people’s lives. Unconsciously. We do not have our Anger. Anger has us. In fact, we can refer to pretty much any shared experience in this way. Love. Joy. Patience. Liberation. War. Peace. Take your pick.
The cycles of our lives, cycles of emotional maturity, exploring and coming into our own sense of authority and personal responsibility, follow well-rehearsed timings. I’ve noticed that these timings seem to follow a 7-year cycle. We oppose authority ‘out there’ in our mid teens.
Breaking away from family bonds and adolescent expectations, while finding our role in society as a uniquely gifted individual, at around 21 years.
Toward our late 20s we’re presented with an opportunity. Take forward what was useful in our youth into adulthood, and leave behind old self-images, aspects of ourselves that need to grow up, or return to the psychological mulch within for recycling.
Cycles within cycles of inner, and outer, emotional growth.