The Elephant in the Room

There is a secret open to everyone, but not everyone sees it. Or rather not everyone chooses to see it. There’s an elephant in the room that we are so habituated not to see.

The unconscious is like having a pet dog in the house, which is ignored. We are taught that we are “reasonable” and “rational”, and so all forms of unreasonableness and irrationality come from outside, not inside (it’s the world and everyone else that is unreasonable and irrational, obviously). We say “there’s no dog in this house.”

The more it is ignored, the more damage it does, and the more we think “why does this always happen to me?” The furniture is getting torn up, food is stolen, puddles of wee appear under bare feet, and poos turn up in unexpected corners. Until we pay attention to these signs and say “Yes, there is a dog in this house”, the problem will never be resolved.

So, we’ve acknowledged the dog, what now? Well, first it has to be trained not to trash the furniture, not to steal food and not to leave unpleasant presents around the house. We have to take responsibility for it and feed it well, take it for walks, giving it its “exercise, discipline and affection” (as Cesar Millan says).

In this way the dog can be integrated into the life of the house, and cause no more disruptions (i.e. the unconscious can be acknowledged and integrated, instead of being at a loose end).

The Iceberg

The ego is just the tip of the iceberg, a fragment that thinks it’s a whole; the individual is deeper and broader than the ego, as the iceberg is deeper and broader than the tip. But the ego doesn’t always recognise this, so everything that it doesn’t recognise as “self” must be “other”, and so the unconscious is projected outside. Once the ego learns a bit of humility it’s limits can be punctured and then begins the work of integration.

When we are “educated” (read conditioned) all those unwanted qualities get hidden in the unconscious, and rest there until rediscovery. Perhaps confidence was buried; perhaps gentleness was hidden; perhaps curiosity and creativity were deftly swept under the carpet. And we learn to live with this and get on with our lives, even if we feel unsatified with our lot. We have within us treasures awaiting discovery.

Also, the ego interferes with the unconscious as it tries to impose itself on the world within and also the world without, but cutting itself off from its treasures hidden in the unconscious – until it can learn a bit of humility and learn that it belongs to something deeper, higher and wider than itself. Then the conscious and unconscious can become well functioning parts of a whole that is the Self in the process of Individuation.