The Archetypal Imagination (2000)

What we wish most to know, most desire, remains unknowable and lies beyond our grasp. Thus, as the meaning-seeking, meaning-creating species, we depend on the image which arises out of depth encounters. This image, as we have seen, is not itself divine, though it carries and is animated by the eternal exchange of that energy which we may call divine. The husk which such energy inhabits is perishable, as we know our own bodies to be. While we would understandably cling to that husk, be it this body, or this ego-concept, or this god, we would be better served trying to hold the ocean in our hands.

The deep stir and tumult has another source, and another end, beyond that which our limited consciousness could ever frame. Yet that fragile reed, as Blaise Pascal reminded us, is a “thinking reed” and courageously conjures with that infinity which could so casually destroy it. That disparity, the longing for eternity and the limits of finitude, is our dilemma, the conscious suffering of what is also what most marks our species. It is the symbolic capacity which defines us uniquely. The images which arise out of the depths, be they the burning bush of biblical imagery, the complaint of the body, or the dream we dream tonight, link us to that throbbing, insistent hum which is the sound of the eternal. As children we listened to the sound of the sea still echoing in the shell we picked up by the shore. That ancestral roar links us to the great sea which surges within us as well.

The Middle Passage | Swamplands of the Soul | Tracking the Gods | Under Saturn's Shadow | The Eden Project | The Archetypal Imagination | Creating a Life | On This Journey We Call Our Life | Mythologems | Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life | Why Good People Do Bad Things | What Matters Most | Hauntings