Man And His Symbols by Carl G. Jung

The waking of life isn’t a conventional phenomenon. It’s a thin veil that often presses up against our dreaming state. And sometimes, for us, to see through is to entertain the possibility (and yet uncertainty) that we could be viewing life from either side of it. That is, telescoping a vision of (and for life) while being conscious or otherwise.

And the tool to help you realize this process, this state of being, is this book. Books belonging to this genre may seem overwhelming to follow; especially when it’s such an intense and introspective line of thinking.

But the Man and his Symbols by Carl G. Jung is the first that doesn’t. In it, you will read about symbolism, unconscious thinking, conscious breathing, and the realization of archetypes.

After reading Four Archetypes by Carl G. Jung, Man and his Symbols appears to me as reality-reclaiming and the surest hope for transcending inward. That the ‘resistance’ one often feels before steering the mind away from external reality and toward the inner realm which is the opposite of chaotic and distracting is meaningful. So that ‘resistance’ is as powerful as the realization of one’s ego and its exertions into our unconscious and conscious manifestations.

When I say unconscious and conscious manifestations, I don’t mean the ones that awaken instantaneously. The ones that we feel compelled to respond to. The layered reality of both positive and negative emotions. Some manifestations are more symbolic and emotionally-charged than we think. And these are the ones that harness a person’s soul and influence his/her decisions.

The book – rich and deeply intelligent – is an enjoyable and gratifying read. You understand the secrets of life, the soul, its shadow, and the interconnectedness of it all. To read it is to realize that we draw more from our inner being to insist on a more comfortable outer reality. But denying the realization to this subliminal space is a way to breathe only half completely.


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I Was Wrong About The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

A truth that has now become an illusion.

Lots of truths aren’t exactly truths on an external scale. We can’t quantify or validate them in reality. They’re mere reflections of who we are; intimate and unique in each individual and volatile as time itself — amplifying our feelings from speck to stone.

Out of such truths, I’ve had to let go of the truth of the tunnel. You know the saying “look for the light at the end of the tunnel,” where the goal is worth the effort. The plan is worth the pain. The dreams are worth the nightmares.

The awareness of this truth and its contradiction was placed well in my mind. And out of it came the realization of why it no longer fits with my discovering self. The capacity to see the good in bad defeats the manifestation of bad into something (anything) that is certainly good.

Because I know that one’s becoming and discovering in and of life isn’t simple. Nor is it short-lived and certain. It’s the ability to look at things objectively, even more so after reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (for the second time), that I chose to dissolve this truth.

(You can read my thoughts on the book here)

It isn’t enough to expect a reaction out of an action. Not negating the fact that every movement, in reality, is an echo or a whisper through time and space. While this may be true, I have lost my expectations for a subjective reality in which only “I” exist. Hence, I choose to re-consider my defense for and against my objective reality.

Imagine a moment where you see the light at the end of the tunnel but you no longer where you were, in the tunnel. You’re everywhere — at the beginning and at the end. So what you’re seeing is not light, but only a part of you; a flicker of you.

The negative (darkness of the tunnel) holds the key to perspective. To broad-mindedness that only a bad outcome carries. And if we were to acknowledge it as “a part of the process” or as something that has a “higher cause,” we’re wrecking its ability to help us grow.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
— Anais Nin

Pain is a negative ability externalized as being the antidote to maturity. None of us were wiser before than when we stood the storm. We fought our battles; we broke the ice. In that course, the parable is not which is the least painful to endure. It is whether something is painful, if at all.

There are many things, like this, that brings us to the beginning of pain. Things that are very likely to frighten us; that we go ahead and do anyway. Is the denial of the pain (or the endurance of it) for a higher cause — a moment of satisfaction greater than a lifetime of melancholy? I beg to differ.

My pain — which is, after all, what I feel and internalize — isn’t a validation of my joy. They’re two separate qualities (beings perhaps) co-existing inside me. And I choose to externalize them the way I want to.

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
– Seneca

Keeping an eye on how pain needs to be felt to be let go. This refined truth of anticipating the good and (not versus) the bad; and our habit of reimagining our pain as an experience meaningful in itself, without having any effect, is the way of embracing our true selves. And it’s the way I separate my imagination from my reality.

Our Love For Coffee Is Proof We Exist

A body that understands and responds to caffeine is what being awake is. Don’t get it? Read the following statistics.

  1. Caffeine is unquestionably associated with lower risk of mortality. And an even greater reduction in the risk of death with higher coffee consumption. In short, you can live longer if you consume more coffee (total, caffeinated, and decaffeinated). (study)
  2. Caffeine’s biological effect is antagonism of the adenosine receptor. This means that caffeine speeds up nerve cells by tricking certain adenosine receptors. (study)
  3. Contrary to its positive side, there is a potential discussion that coffee consumption is directly linked to health problems such as cancer, heart disease, and anxiety. This is when you take coffee consumption to an extreme level; that is, more than 5-7 cups a day. (study)

Of all the times I’ve come across such statistics, I’m convinced of the psychological effects of coffee. The secret to “waking up” even after waking up consciously is coffee; in its smell, aroma, and flavor.

So, do you wake up and smell the coffee for staying awake? Or do you wake up and smell the coffee because you absolutely love to?

I tried to draw a line between these two questions. The answer comes out groggy and confusing. Groggy because that’s how most of you feel before drinking a cup of coffee. And confusing because that’s how I feel about coffee after researching on something popularly known as “coffee psychology.” Coffee psychology is deciphering what coffee does to the human body. How it makes you focus on the positive and how it makes you see things more clearly. But what I didn’t find, at least not in the initial stages of my research is this: the deliciousness of coffee as a hot or cold drink. Yeah right. What was I hoping to find?

The first few words we think of when we talk about coffee is alert, energy, clarity, and active. It’s hard, but not impossible, to find the words: delicious, delicious, and delicious. No more or no less. Maybe this article will belong to the “delicious, delicious, and delicious” family. But wait a second. Is my love of coffee a trickery? Is caffeine tricking my taste buds, just as it tricks the adenosine receptors, into loving its taste even when it’s the most bitter thing one could taste?!

The more I drink coffee, the faster the caffeine continues to conspire and blur my sensitivity toward what tastes good and what tastes bad. To someone who’s never had a sip of coffee, coffee tastes bad, right? Wait until the caffeine kicks in. We can avoid it… we can but then we go ahead and dilute it with milk and sugar and the caffeine’s conniving booby trap begins. From very sweet to mildly sweet to not-so-sweet to slightly bitter and finally, to boldly bitter.

If someone were to ask me why I love drinking coffee, I would say, “Because I love the taste so much. And it’s not about the fact that it keeps you alert, thinking quick, and energetic. I just love the taste. And yeah, I only drink it without sugar. I mean, who drinks coffee with sugar anymore?!”

People do not talk about this. But it is a good conversation starter. Look at this for example.

Cornell University (study) suggests that caffeine alters the perception of taste. Just the act of drinking coffee every morning made participants feel more awake. Also, when you taste food right after drinking coffee, the flavor of the food is noticeably altered. This happens because caffeine tricks certain receptors in the brain into reducing our sensitivity toward sweetness as a flavor. That’s precisely why we crave the bitterness of coffee.

So, are you telling me that the day I stop desiring coffee in the midst of my coffee drinking habits, I stop existing?

When Does Wisdom End?

Self-awareness is life-changing. It’s when something translates into everything. But what most people don’t tell us is that it demands a lot of our brain power. Self-awareness is not just about crossing legs on freshly-cut grass and meditating in a park during sunset. What it does come close to is waking up for sunrise and walking that extra mile to locate a better spot for the perfect adventure.

It’s all about putting in the effort with no ifs or ands or buts. Now you might say that this is the wisest, yet commonest thing you’ve repeatedly heard or read about. So, what’s the big deal about this article?

This, perhaps, is me breaking down the lesson in fragments and inspecting each fragment under a metaphorical microscope to see what intersects between wisdom and ambiguity. Wisdom and ambiguity are abstract concepts derived for the clarity and obscurity of life. Both are essential when nothing else is. Sometimes, we are not the outcome of our own wisdom. And in those times, we are the outcome of what we don’t know. That’s where everything lies. And that’s when we are able to gain control over some aspects of our own lives.

Now you might think that absolutely nothing is in our control. But conviction isn’t the tool of uncertainties. Imagine all your life’s uncertainties as your playground and conviction is what gets your hands and feet dirty. Such a courageous act exists beyond what’s out there already. And the hardest thing about this playground is that it needs to be constructed by you, from dust and rock. This is the only place where wisdom doesn’t break the silence.

What is said and done within those boundaries is simply causation within itself. It’s expressing and reflecting the workings of the mind as well as its unfathomable limitations. It’s where you push ahead – past the good and bad – and respond to deeper instincts. Wisdom ends when you draw a blank right up to the point of indulgence and obsession.

I strongly believe that self-awareness is not complete without stimulating the mind and body in myriad ways. But I also believe that with letting go one can possess a better and clearer understanding of life and throw light on the kind of choices one makes.

We Can’t Keep Things Simple, So We Complicate

And yes, in most cases, keeping it complicated is a choice. Other times it’s just consequence.

I’m afraid of a kind of attachment that won’t ever be simple. And I don’t mean with romantic relationships exclusively. This can be translated to my work, friendship, personal life, family relationships, and more importantly, to myself. Clinging on to patterns that add fuel to the fire is the only skill I know. This is because I am an exposed crop of my past; and so am I an unsteady nine-to-fiver of this chaotic world. Aren’t we all some kind of nine-to-fivers? If not for work, then for our emotions. We don’t have to belong to a company to have to cluelessly follow a sort of routine that is often explained away in less than a second — in brief excuses and hesitation and subconscious condemning of a much larger entity. Be it religion, constitution, government, society, or flawed human nature itself.

Hence, we can’t keep things simple. It’s a thought process we’ve been tweaked and monitored into habituating. And in doing so, we’ve lost meaning from thought itself. Giving importance to thoughts has defeated our ability of thinking without us even realizing it. Where is the “why” of living, of doing, and of being? This can only come from stopping thoughts. Better, in silencing them for a while. This won’t be a switch like you would TV channels. This silencing of thought and being in the present moment has to be the evolution of logic, judgement, and perspective. And if you go far enough, it could become your only reason to become a better human than you were yesterday. To grow from your silence, your pain, your experiences, and shortcomings.

This is simple. It’s taking what you already know and directing it to what’s real and right here. Sometimes not giving importance to certain thoughts is one of the best decisions you can make. For yourself. For others. For everyone. This lacuna is from where you grow to become original and thoughtful. And on days you get caught up with too many things to do, this little trick will do wonders to how you feel while doing them. This is a kind of freedom you create for yourself so you when you’re in the middle of chaos and confusion, you start to feel more like yourself and not the opinions and projections of those around you.