Dreams/Jung

At the tender age of 14, I walked into my local book shop in North West London. It was the late 1970s and I had been recently inspired by David Carradine’s Kung Fu series, and had an undeniable urge to explore its underlying philosophy. But what fell into my hands was a copy of Richard Wilhelm’s translation of The Secret of Golden Flower which didn’t seem to fit the bill but I knew I had to buy it. (Within a month I had also purchased Robert W Smith’s seminal work – T’ai Chi but that’s another story).

What I couldn’t understand, though, was why the Swiss Psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung, had written the Forward/Commentary to the book. What possible reason or link could there be to associate psychology with an 8th century Taoist mystical cannon on meditation and life ? It made no sense to me. I then discovered Wilhelm’s version of the I Ching – again with an introduction by Jung – and it was clear I had to find out why. Within a year I had met Graham Horwood and had ventured into the neijia proper: standing in Zhan Zhuang (post stance) and Shaolin horse stance, for a minimum of 30 minutes at a time (an excruciatingly difficult exercise). It was after six months or so of this practice, that I began to sense the link between my psyche and body.

Then the dreams began to flow and suddenly, I was inundated with the raw material of my person and the complexes that were my lot. Luckily Graham was there to help as well as a few sessions spent with Dr Anne Macguire, a leading UK Jungian analyst. I was experiencing bodily changes, rashes, swellings, dizziness but my intuition guided me and I kept things balanced. Soon my dreams were spouting stories, almost mythical in content and I found great comfort in reading Marie Louise Von Franz’s work on alchemy to help me decode their messages. Her work, in fact, acted as a primer to readings Jung’s considerable treatises.

It wasn’t until my mid-twenties, after spending some time abroad and having reached a plateau in my neijia practice, that I discovered Jung’s work on alchemy, particularly in the volume on Dream Analysis where I found among the pages, an etching of the Nei Jing Tu carved on stone stele from the White Cloud Taoist Enclave (now a part of modern Beijing). On first viewing this I saw the image of a mountain path and various activities going on in the background but on refocusing my gaze, the cryptic image emerged of a human, seated in meditation, working on the inner circulation of light.

The Nei Jing Tu – White Cloud Monastery Beijing

The Nei Jing Tu – White Cloud Monastery Beijing

I then understood what I hadn’t some years before. Jung, through his many years of study, was drawing parallels between mediaeval alchemical texts and these eastern yogic introspective practices. They were both focusing on the same goal but from different perspectives, for the individual to achieve wholeness through reflection upon his/her character and life.

What Jung had found in his study of mental conditions while his intern as a doctor, at the Burghölzli Institute and later, with his private patients, is that the unconscious seeks to be known and assimilated, within the personality. If ignored or rejected, though, it becomes autonomous, making the individual sick or act in a way as to make itself noticed. The most common manner the latter occurs is through dreams, whose symbolic language, like any other, needs to be learned and understood. Jung’s work and Graham Horwood’s help, inspired me to persist with my dreams and make meaningful sense of the neijia practices. I still dream regularly and find they are a guiding light in my life.

In Blue Eye, Scott Carty is split between his rational world of exotic financial/emissions derivatives and the shadowy twilight world of dreams and visions which he has been denying. In many ways Carty is a microcosm of the push for globalisation with its logical profit and loss returns but little regard for the natural capital of the planet (it isn’t considered on the balance sheet). He’s about to wake up to life and face his fate, as Gordon Green takes him through the dreams’ symbolic meaning and relevance.  Finally, Carty begins to listen and comes to understand that; “if the right man has the wrong means the wrong means work in the right way” – a classic saying from The Secret of the Golden Flower.