Individuals immersed in what one colleague referred to as the “everyday crazies”, a state of more or less chronic psychic imbalance, are often suffering from an unconscious desire to experience numinous depths, a nourishing encounter with the mystic. Unfulfilled spiritual need generates intense anxiety that many take on as a day-in-day-out state of mind. Skating along the surface, from one emotional drama to another, with the attitude that this is what life is all about, can be addictive, destructive. The same colleague commented, as we were finishing lunch one afternoon, “I really take to heart what Freud said about chronic anxiety being the hallmark of neurosis. We rush, rush, rush. Complain about everything under the sun. Go to bed. Get up and do it all over again. It’s neurotic.” In contrast, I’m drawn to the writing of William James in his Essays on Psychical Research: “Our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest….the trees…commingle their roots in the darkness underground, and the islands also hang together through the ocean’s bottom. Just so there is a continuum of cosmic consciousness, against which our individuality builds but accidental fences, and into which our several minds plunge as into a mother-sea or reservoir.” Immersion into depth of soul, a deliberate and purposeful leaning into life, draws together psychic energies so that we are nourished and made sane, whole.
Depth psychologist Robert D. Romanyshyn in his paper, The World Is a Tissue of Metaphors, noted that the dream “is a nightly address to the ego-mind which undoes its fixed positions, a kind of nightly humiliation that humbles consciousness and leads it back into the earth, a journey that re-situates mind in the humus, the soil of the soul.” Dream energy and waking life lived deliberately, reflectively, shift our momentum away from surface anxieties and craziness into healing realms of soul. Immersing ourselves in a reflective life counteracts neurotic chaos and tumult. Transcendent yet imminent, a psyche that is settled into the soil of the soul is both quickened spiritually and set right within the practicalities of everyday reality. William James noted that by their fruits not their roots shall you know them, an utterance that beckons us into the rich soil of soul that yields a bountiful emotional and spiritual harvest dependent not on affiliations or background but on depth of relationship to self.
Immersion into the world of transformational archetypes requires proper attitude. I’m reminded of the story of three yogis who entered the Cave of All Knowing. The first went in, then after a time left, complaining it was a waste of time, a whole lot of nothing. The second crossed the threshold and shortly lost himself within the realm of mysteries, never to be heard of again. The third entered and within time emerged rejuvenated, transformed, enlightened. Michael Eigen, in his book Contact with the Depths, wrote that to become one so enlightened “...is to live and assimilate something of the experience of the other two, those crippled by life’s impacts, as necessary and valuable parts of the self.” Descent into the underworld, stepping into the Cave of All Knowing, plunging into the mother sea of the collective unconscious, symbolize immersion into self, leaning into and immersing ourselves in the pulse and beat of life, what Romanyshyn describes as “ordinary epiphanies of the moment that, when we are ready and properly disposed, are momentous epiphanies, festive occasions when the miracle in the ordinary manifests itself, moments that are occasions for wonder and celebration.”