Archetypes and the Mithal

           Among the most important residents of the Mithal and the Field are archetypal images. They have been most recently explored and amplified by Carl Jung. They are dynamic images, held unconsciously, that form and impact our emotions, our ethical and mental outlook, our relationships with others, and thus our whole destiny. For these purposes, the Mithal and the unconscious mind are one and the same thing. Even in Jung’s framework, the archetypes are held in the Collective Unconscious, which is parallel to being held in the Field.

The concept of a realm of supremely important and generative images goes back to the ancient Greeks, and specifically, to Plato. He postulated a non-material realm of perfect forms, a collection of images that formed the template for the material world and out of which the material world emerged. His idea of this ideal realm is very similar to Ibn Arabi’s conception of the Mithal. Plato considered the realm of ideal forms to be more fundamental and more real than the material realm, because the material realm decays and vanishes, while the ideal realm is undisturbed and eternal.

Jung acknowledged his debt to Plato. Jung said: “Archetypes are active living dispositions, ideas in the Platonic sense, that perform and continually influence our thoughts and feelings and actions.” He considered archetypes to be not just ideas or images, but biological entities, “living organisms, endowed with generative force.”

This dynamism, or ability to make things happen, is the central characteristic of archetypes. In the Jungian framework, the archetypes are innate psychic structures, held as images of universals such as man, woman, mother, father, child, wife, husband, birth, death, etc. They are universal. They cross all cultural lines. They have the effect of pre-programming us, arising to affect our perceptions and behavior appropriately to the phase of life that we are currently in. In other words, they are patterns of human existence, a phylogenetic blueprint on whose basis our lives unfold through the various stages. They are models held in the Mithal that, when triggered, form us and shape us and tell us who and how we should be. They are primordial images of our possibilities and our unfolding as a human being. Archetypes are associated with and generate archetypal symbols, generally a cluster of visual symbols, with which they take their control over us and influence the consciousness.

Archetypes are latent in the consciousness until they are triggered, or “constellated,” to use the Jungian language. They are hidden in a veil of potentiality and called forth by our experiences. One example of archetypal constellation that can be observed often in our culture is the pubescent young girl who goes through a radical change in appearance and behavior when the Siren archetype descends. From an energetic, fresh, enthusiastic, naïve and gregarious young child, the girl suddenly becomes a sultry, sexually provocative, teasing temptress, fully aware of her sexual power and determined to do everything possible to use it. Her clothes change. She suddenly begins showing a lot of skin, and moving provocatively. Her behavior changes radically. The child disappears, replaced by a facsimile of Marilyn Monroe. It is as if the child had poured herself into a vessel formed like Marilyn Monroe, and become that form, to the best of her ability. She is holding an inner picture, an image of herself merged with the image of Marilyn Monroe, and trying to match that image. The Siren archetype is very powerful and omnipresent in our culture. It is continually in front of us in our movies, TV and magazines. It is readily available for the child to absorb and emulate. When it is triggered, it will re-make the child, at least for the time that it is centrally active.

Other archetypes are operating on all of us, shaping our expectations, perceptions and dreams of ourselves. We can see the King archetype operating in corporate CEO’s, as they try to project images of power and command at the top of the hierarchy. We can see the Hero archetype in our sports figures. None of us escapes the archetypal molding process. These primal images are fundamental to human life and human unfolding.

We know a great deal more about DNA than was available to Jung. If he had had access to that new knowledge, he might have agreed that the archetypal images are carried in the memory banks of the DNA and passed along to each new generation, along with an infinite amount of other information about the makeup of a human being. The DNA holds all of the experiences of human history. Jung said: “Ultimately, every individual life is the same as the eternal life of the species.” There must be a means of transmitting this patterning through time and through generations. The DNA is the vehicle that does that job.

From a higher perspective, the DNA is the tool used by the Field to shape the unfolding destiny of the human and other species. The Mithal, as the realm of dynamic images, is one level of reality within the Field. As it has done for the last 4 billion years on Earth, the Field is bringing its past successes into present play and building on them. It is folding back on itself and cumulating its creative breakthroughs and bringing them into the present. The DNA may also hold the seeds of the future. Our present knowledge of the genome accounts for less than 5% of the genetic material that we carry. That leaves 95% unaccounted for. We do not know the content of that other 95%. Is it possible that somewhere in that mysterious, unknown 95% of the DNA there are marching instructions for the future unfolding of humans?

We are protagonists in a gigantic macro-drama, orchestrated and progressively unfolded by the Mystery that we call the Field. It is conceivable that, having been endowed with the new capacities of self-awareness, language and symbols, we will enliven the drama, speed up its unfolding dramatic arc, and usher in a new act.

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