May 17th, 2010


this is The Paradox

in reading Toward 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age -- an informed, challenging and engaging collection of essays from nearly 40 authors -- there is a most awesome chapter with the title of The Wounded Healer by Paul Levy (freely available on his website at as well as at excerpt:
... To realize that each one of us is uncannily embodying and acting out in our personal process (with all of our problems, symptoms, relationship conflicts, traumas, etc) what is at the same time playing out in the outside world is to step out of identifying ourselves as isolated, discrete entities who are separate from the universe. Contrary to being “alien” to this universe, we find ourselves intimate expressions of it. It should be noted, however, that the way to this realization is not through by-passing the personal dimension of our experience and artificially identifying with the mythic/archetypal level in a contrived and fabricated way, but rather by entering the mythic/archetypal dimension by fully incarnating, in a full-bodied way, our personal process in our life. The deeper, mythic/archetypal dimension “clothes” itself in our personal process, which is to say that our personal process is the doorway which introduces us to the deeper archetypal dimension of our being.

In this expansion of consciousness, we step out of interpreting our experience personally and reductively, based solely on cause and effect and the past, and step into experiencing the myth-like, time-less dimension of our situation. Interpreting our experience through a personal and reductive lens is an expression of a naïve, un-initiated, and ego-centered consciousness that knows no psychic center other than its own. Being linear and time-bound, it is a limited viewpoint that can only lead to depression, despair, resignation, disillusionment and meaningless and hopeless suffering, as our soul feels seemingly destroyed in the process.

When we expand our consciousness and interpret our experience transpersonally however, we step out of linear time into synchronic time, a dimension of our being in which the past, our wound, the world and ourselves do not literally, concretely, and objectively exist in and over time in the way we had previously imagined. Realizing the impermanence and fluidity of our situation, we do not have to make our wound “real” and grant it an unwarranted solidity or invest it with an apparently substantial, independent existence. We can awaken to the fact that the situation we find ourselves in is malleable, is fundamentally characterized by open-ended potentiality, and is infinitely and effortlessly creative if we simply allow it to be.

Talking about this moment of recognizing that our wound is THE (archetypal) wound, to quote Jung, is to see that our “suffering is archetypal and collective, it can be taken as a sign that [we are] no longer suffering from [ourselves], but rather from the spirit of the age.” Jung continues that we are suffering from an “impersonal cause, from [our] collective unconscious which [we have] in common with all [humanity]” [words in brackets have been changed from singular, masculine to gender neutral]. If we are able to channel and creatively express the spirit of the age from which we are suffering with consciousness, however, we become the “medium” through which the spirit of the age reveals itself to us so as to potentially transform itself, the world around us, as well as ourselves.

As wounded healers, we become transformed when we recognize that our wound is completely personal and uniquely our own, while simultaneously being a universal, impersonal process in which everyone is participating. It is this shared felt sense that deeply connects us with each other. This is the paradox: An experience of our wholeness, what Jung calls the Self, is both personal and archetypal/transpersonal (beyond the personal) at the same time. To experience this contradiction consciously IS itself the expansion of consciousness which initiates a transformation in ourselves, and by extension, the world around us. This is to paradoxically step into being a genuinely autonomous, independent being while at the same time realizing our interconnectedness, interdependence, unity and ultimate inseparability from the world and each other. The energetic expression of this realization is compassion. ...