I often ponder the reason for my seeming obsession with the human psyche. From a distance, the books I pore over often seem overlapping in their knowledge and similar in their approach.
What, then, is the difference between them, and is there any added value if the content is so similar?
A classmate lent me a book called Relating by Liz Greene. I will share part of her introduction here that gave me some insight on my fascination with such subjects like metaphysics, psychology, and things of a more esoteric nature.
“Relating is a fundamental aspect of life. It is archetypal, which means that it is an experience which permeates the basic structure not only of the human psyche but of the universe in its entirety. In the final analysis all things are built upon relating, for we would not be conscious of any aspect of life without recognizing it through its difference from every other aspect. We recognize day because there is night, and the relationship between the two defines and identifies each of them. And if some minimal thought is given to this idea, it becomes increasingly apparent that we human beings can only conceive of ourselves as individuals through comparison with that which we are not.
Primarily through the work of psychology during the last seventy-five years, however, it has become apparent that relationships are not only a means to personal satisfaction of one kind or another. They are also necessary for the growth of consciousness and the individual’s understanding of himself. A man does not know what he looks like until he sees himself reflected in the looking-glass, and this simple truth applies not only to physical reality but to the reality of the psyche as well.
… (shift in consciousness)
It is possible that this shift in consciousness, to which astrology has given the symbolic name of the Aquarian Age, has, as one of its central motifs, a striving toward inner knowledge – a knowledge that would complement the emphasis on external knowledge already very familiar to us. Our current time-spirit appears to be deeply concerned with self-understanding, and with a search for meaning. And although one can attribute this search to economic and political changes which inevitably create tension, stress and self-questioning, it may also be possible to view these two concurrent trends – socio-economic upheaval and what can be simply described as a spiritual quest – as synchronous events. That is, one need not be the cause of the other, but both may be symptomatic of a deep inner change occurring in the collective psyche of man.”
Liz Greene appeals to me because, in addition to her astrological wisdom, she is also a Jungian analyst! She states:
“My original intent in writing Relating was to approach the vast and complex dilemma of human relationships through a combination of astrological symbolism and depth psychology – chiefly the psychology of C.G. Jung – because it seemed obvious to me through my experience of working both as an astrologer and a psychotherapist that what we meet in outer life ultimately reflects what lies within ourselves; and that relationships are our greatest mirrors and teachers of the stuff of which our own souls are made. This is not a new idea; it is implicit in much of Greek philosophical thought, as well as in the Hermetic teachings of the Renaissance. But it was relatively new in the astrological literature of a decade ago, although Jung – who regularly utilized the insights of astrology – wrote extensively on the subject. Astrology, however, found its entry into England via Theosophy, which as a philosophical system is benign but nonetheless shies away from that ‘lower nature’ which depth psychology has made so much more effort to restore to its merited place in the wholeness of the individual; and even with the more enlightened approaches of Charles Carter, Margaret Hone, and the early days of the Faculty of Astrological Studies astrology still retains its unmistakable antecedents in its talk of higher and lower natures, benefic and malefic plants, good and bad aspects, and a rather fatalistic approach to relationships (Venus in the second house in trine to Jupiter means you will marry money). Because Jung’s psychology is round rather than vertical, and gives values to all dimensions of the psyche, this approach to the horoscope has always seemed to me to be a healthier one, and in the years since I wrote Relating my work as a Jungian analyst has proven to me over and over again the importance of recognizing and integrating the unconscious dimensions of the psyche if any psychological balance, health, and equilibrium are to be maintained – not to mention being able to let other people be other people and not extensions of our own unlived and unrecognized selves.”
So, the answer to my question is that, for me, each book has specifically a different focus and depth to it, and depending on the nature of your question / exploration, you’ll use a different map!
AND, perhaps, like humans from afar, we look and seem similar, especially to a koala or sloth, but up close, we are much more unique. I guess it’s like zooming in and zooming out.
A perfect example would be food! Pasta is pasta, and spaghetti is spaghetti. But venture into the territory of – all spaghetti is the same – and you’ll find yourself in deep. deeeeeeeep water.
Cultivate curiosity. Things always look different up close. What new worlds can you open your eyes to today?