Dreaming with Open Eyes - article on Jung's Active Imagination

Sharing this well-researched paper on Jung's "active imagination titled "Dreaming with Open Eyes." The author's name is not listed with the article per se, but it is found on a blog for Steve Beyer. 

In December 1913, Jung first experienced what he was later to call active imagination. However, he did not talk about these experiences until twelve years later, when, in May and June 1925, he “spoke for the first time of his inner development” (Jaffé, 1962/1963, p. vii) at two sessions of a series of weekly seminars he was giving in Zurich. The contents of these lectures were not published until 1989 (Jung, 1989); but a partial account of these experiences was given in 1962 by Aniela Jaffé in Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Jung, C., 1962/1963, pp. 170-199), which she largely wrote. This account is the foundation myth, the charter, for active imagination.

In 1913, according to this account, Jung, profoundly distressed at his break with Freud, began to experiment with different ways to enter into his own imaginings. As James Hillman describes it, “When there was nothing else to hold to, Jung turned to the personified images of interior vision. He entered into an interior drama, took himself into an imaginative fiction and then, perhaps, began his healing — even if it has been called his breakdown” (Hillman, 1983b, p. 54). 

In this imaginal world, Jung began to confront and question the figures who appeared to him; and, to Jung’s surprise, those imaginal persons replied to him in turn. “Near the steep slope of a rock,” Jung says, “I caught sight of two figures, an old man with a white beard and a beautiful young girl. I summoned up my courage and approached them as though they were real people, and listened attentively to what they told me” (Jung, 1962/1997, p. 28). And again: “I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I” (p. 30). One of these imaginal people, a wise pagan whom Jung named Philemon, “seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality.” Philemon spoke to Jung as follows: “He said I treated thoughts as if I generated them myself, but in his view thoughts were like animals in the forest, or people in a room, or birds in the air.” It was this imaginal Philemon who taught Jung the reality of the psyche — “that there is something in me which can say things that I do not know and do not intend” (p. 30). (Click here to read the rest of the paper)...

Does anyone have experience with Active Imagination they can share?--or minimally, an outcome that was interesting, unexpected, or helpful?....

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Jung had something else to say that could be relevant here:

Jung believed that memories formed throughout the day also play a role in dreaming. These memories leave impressions for the unconscious to deal with when the ego is at rest. The unconscious mind re-enacts these glimpses of the past in the form of a dream. Jung called this a day residue. Jung also argued that dreaming is not a purely individual concern, that all dreams are part of "one great web of psychological factors."

See Jungian and other views of dreams

I've had dreams that incorporated imaginary conversations with people that I did not know. The conversations were strange and unexpected. When I awoke my first thoughts sometimes were "where did that weird dream come from?" Many times I cannot supply a satisfying answer to that question, but sometimes I can see a correllation with people I encountered the previous day, or a movie that I had watched the night before. But the experiences with people I may meet or the scenes of movies that I might watch get twisted about and reinterpreted in my dream in weird and unexpected ways.

This is a helpful technique, William. I know some people try to correlate strangers in dreams with the gods to see "who is visiting." I also thinks the dream server serves up images in ways we can understand, so if we make the link as you suggest with someone we encountered or a character in a film, that can lead backward to understanding context and thus to accessing what that dream character is trying to tell us.

Do you have a technique like that for understanding why certain settings or places show up?

Do I have a technique for understanding why certain settings or places show up in my dreams? I believe that my most vivid dreams are connected to persistent lingering personal frustrations and unfulfilled desires that I have and that also preoccupy my thinking when I'm awake. I turned 67 today, and believe I am more preoccupied subconsciously ( and certainly consciously ) with regrets or frustrations for the things that I have NOT done during my life, rather than lingering guilt for the things that I actually have done. ;-)

Back in the day, before Myspace decided to destroy itself and delete its blogs, I was writing a blog there. I was consciously using it for active imagination. At that point in my life some really weird things had already happened, including a few prophecies (or at least their authors don't deny that they are prophecies). Also, there were some parallels between my story and Hesse's Demian. For instance, I found the book Demian from previous owners of my house (and illegal drugs in my garden - it was long time ago, but I hope no one from police will read this comment), in a way similar to the main character seeing on his home an old bird (Abraxas) hatching from an egg (destruction and renewal).

There are two persons interested in retrocausality (there are other names) speaking my language: me and Milan Cirkovic. Milan Cirkovic and Nick Bostrom are the editors of the book "Global Catastrophic Risks". As I was reading the reviews (and at the same time tracking my imagination and real events on now deleted Myspace blog, I saw Thomas Friedman's "Hot, Flat, and Crowded" by Thomas Friedman. As I consider Mr. Friedman both a brilliant and sick person totally contradicting himself, my understanding of ethics and "the best intents" has drastically changed over time.

Anyway, the outcome of my active imagination is that I should somehow combine Jung's approach to active imagination, the internet, and sustainability. I am very pessimistic about the whole thing, but the fact is that I have been an observer rather than someone who wanted something or planned in advance.

Since The Red Book is mentioned in that article and I participated here in the Red Book group (the lectures 17-20), I'll repeat something I wrote there.

These videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF_xdvn52As – Muse – The 2nd Law: Unsustainable

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXPoJAyeF8k – Muse – The Second Law: Isolated System

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AL7npkSXZE – The Prisoner opening titles (the similarities between melodies in the second Muse video and The Prisoner video sound almost illegal)

are in some strange way telling the same story as my previous comment. How much it actually makes sense or whether or not there is a point where someone can go too far with imagination, I don't know.

Musical bonus:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek0SgwWmF9w – Muse – Madness

Good idea about applying active imagination to internet and sustainability, Aleks. Somehow, tapping into topics that deal with the interconnectivity of things might be a good way to tap into important synchronicities, too.

On that note, yesterday, in the free library where everyone in my building puts used books, I happened to pick up a copy of "Hot, Flat, and Crowded." I've known about it for a long time, even quoted from it at times, but have never read it. Hoping to do so now so I can see if I concur with your your assessment of Friedman being "sick" and "brilliant" at the same time. A few people probably described Jung that way too, by the way...

Of course you picked it up. I mean, not that I really have idea what I'm talking about...

Something that I forgot to mention in my previous comment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy_(arrow_of_time)- entropy in that second Muse video (and a girl at the end running backwards) and information in The Prisoner video    You just can't make this stuff up.

Interstellar, Borgia and devastating lack of environmental awareness

 

From today's newspapers (Milan Cirkovic, an astrophysicist writing film reviews about the past and about the future - mentioned in my previous comment): Nolan shows the dust storm, sudden changes in climate and the disappearance of many agricultural crops as a result of the pandemic - and can be from accessible scripts reasonably assumed - and bioterrorism. Even if you convince critics to recognize that catastrophic world shown in Nolan's film is not as nebulous as it seems to the naive, they usually withdraw the reserve position: the environmental situation is not, in fact, "explained" enough.

 

http://www.politika.rs/rubrike/Kulturni-dodatak/U-novom-Kulturnom-d...

Jung:

“He said I treated thoughts as if I generated them myself, but in his view thoughts were like animals in the forest, or people in a room, or birds in the air.”

He was really understanding the mind as a space then, as opposed to ‘the moving mind’ (Tensin Wangyal Rinpoche), using that space to practice active imagination techniques.

Bonnie’s comment is very intriguing:

‘I know some people try to correlate strangers in dreams with the gods to see "who is visiting.” ‘

I’m excited to try to find the greek gods/goddesses in my dream journal, based on what I’m reading lately. I have a list of them with their attributes I wrote from a lesson somewhere. I already have a sense that I will find their presence, just from memory.

This week, I worked with the color aspect of the imagery from my dreams of 2014 and was fascinated by the emotional “flavor” that dialed the meaning in all the images I looked at which were color specific. I used the exercises and tables from a book by Dr. Robert Hoss, Dream Language: Self Understanding Through Imagery and Color.

Color is a tricky thing to look at, as no color just means this or that, but I feel that there is a whole aspect to understanding imaginal content that is screaming to be noticed. I say that as a novice but I am becoming convinced in working it with my content.

This is a fascinating discussion. Thanks to everybody who commented so far.

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