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Returning To The Jungian Unconscious To Return To Nature


“Whenever we touch nature, we get clean.”

At the best possible moment, Meredith Sabini, psychologist and founder of The Dream Institute in California, edited the powerful book The Earth Has a Soul, which is based on Carl Jung’s thoughts on the importance of returning to nature.

Although mankind’s return to nature is not the first thing we associate with Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychologist was deeply concerned with our present disconnection from the environment. He emphasized that this disassociation is, to a great extent, due to the religious premise that states that this —life— is only a trial, and real life comes afterwards. “It is a general truth,” Jung wrote, “that the Earth is depreciated and misunderstood… For quite long enough we have been taught that this life is not the real thing… and that we live only for heaven.”

The latter is related to the importance we have given consciousness over the unconscious —although, keep in mind that, for Jung the concept of “consciousness” is different to awareness, as it is understood in the Orient, and refers more to the denial of the unconscious, which is the primitive, the spiritual and the artistic.

Consciousness is a very recent acquisition, still quite fragile and easily disrupted. Jung pointed out that, in the West, consciousness has been developed mainly through science and technology—not through art, social interaction, cultural development, or spirituality. The unconscious has been left behind, and is thus in a defensive position (Letters II, 81).

The title of the book, The Earth Has a Soul, comes from a 1958 letter in which Jung refers to the ancient belief that each country and each person has its personal angel, and that even the Earth itself has its own soul. He also mentions that “[t]he word ‘matter’ remains a dry, inhuman, and purely intellectual concept… How different was the former image of matter—the Great Mother—that could encompass and express the profound emotional meaning of the Great Mother.” We often say that we live in a materialistic world, but perhaps we’re missing the point if we listen to Jung and realize that it is exactly matter that is missing in our lives.

In the book, Sabini promotes the idea of returning to the Jungian unconscious: to return to the fire, to matter full of spirit, to the soul of the world of which we are part. By solely focusing on the development of the exterior physical world, we have overlooked ourselves, our own internal nature.

Modern man does not understand how much his ‘rationalism’ […] has put him at the mercy of the psychic ‘underworld.’ He has freed himself from ‘superstition’ (or so he believes), but in the process he has lost his spiritual values to a positively dangerous degree. His moral and spiritual tradition has disintegrated, and he is now paying the price for this break-up in worldwide disorientation and dissociation.

The idea to go against nature is spiritually harmful when we (re)understand that we ourselves are part of nature. With this book, Jung’s ever relevant thoughts lead us back to nature. He advises us to point the global compass towards this intimate and material reconnection with nature, thus deactivating the deteriorating process of overdevelopment.

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