A conventional dictionary definition of an archetype would say that it was an original model or type that provides us a pattern after which we can create other similar things. Archetypes, however, are much more complex than that definition would lead us to believe. Carl Jung, for example, tells us that “archetypes are forms which the instincts assume.” But let’s not get hung up on the definition and proceed to apply the concept in helping us in our all important shift from P-B to P-A. An understanding of archetypes is helpful but not necessary in attaining present moment awareness.
In this article we will only briefly examine the central role that the archetype plays to get a sense of how important this area of psychology can be in helping us understand our deeper human nature—our fundamental identity—and how it drives our behavior. Within each human being archetypes are living psychic forces which can promote Self-realization and if neglected or not understood, may cause neurotic or psychotic behavior. Psychology in general is composed of P-B models and concepts, that is to say, it is not profound—it is nevertheless useful in deepening our understanding of P-B and its toxic influence on our behavior.
Let us take an example of one of the most basic archetypes—the anima and animus (the masculine and feminine). We will start with the male and his relationship with his anima, his female archetype. To be in the present moment (P-A) is to be aware of the nature of reality. To be aware of the presence and implications of the anima is simply to be able to use that awareness to increase our power in creating our own reality—to transcend reactivity—to remain responsive to our own deeper nature.
Robert Johnson gives a good description of the relationship of the anima to creativity in the male and the futility of trying to live life in P-B. “Creativity in a man is directly linked with his inner feminine capacity for growth and creation. Genius in a man is his interior feminine capacity [intuition] to give birth; it is his masculinity which gives him capacity for putting that creativity into form and structure in the outer world. The worst characteristic of mood possession [reactivity] is that it robs one of all sense of meaning. Suddenly the ‘out there’ is dominant in one’s inner life and the inner meaning of life is lost. One is then at the mercy of the ‘out there’ [P-B] for one’s sense of value or happiness.”
Johnson continues with some remarkable parallels to the distinctions that we are making between paradigms A and B. “A man never wears femininity outwardly with any validity. A man overwhelmed by a mood [reacting within his survival strategy] is a sundial in moonlight telling the wrong time. His interior femininity serves him well when she is rightly placed; and she does not serve him well when he wears her as an outer garment and uses her to relate to his outer world. ‘Uses’ is the pertinent word here; anyone and everything around a man feels ‘used’ when he relates to the world by way of a mood [seeking power]. Seduction, indeed! Feeling [‘feeling’ as opposed to ‘emotion’], on the contrary, is a sublime part of a man’s equipment and brings warmth, gentleness, relatedness, and perception.”
The anima and animas were named by a western psychologist (Carl Jung), but since they are universal principles, they make their appearance as archetypes in the East as well, although with different names of course. “Male deities in general embody skillful means, arising from compassion. The wisdom of emptiness arises from the realization of the nonexistence of ego, and simultaneously the illusory nature of the external world [P-B], which is created by ego’s projections. This is the feminine principle, taking the form of female buddhas or goddesses. It is the mother of all existence, the vast openness of space in which phenomena appear and dissolve. Emptiness [anima] is the essential partner of compassion [animus], for without it compassion would be based on an egocentric concept of benefiting others.” Francesca Freemantle understands that service to others when controlled by the false self through the intellect is void of true compassion and is another way of meeting the needs of the sensation energy center of the false self or enhancement of the ego.
Other archetypes that can enrich our understanding of what is involved in the paradigm shift include:
The energy necessary for The Point of Power Practice, enabling response rather than reaction, can be said to flow from the warrior archetype. Rick Fields in his book Code of the Warrior puts it this way: “The warrior sees the true battle as an inner or spiritual one, in which the fight is with the enemies of self-knowledge or realization. Putting others before oneself [compassion] is the ultimate source of the warrior’s courage.”
“‘If one man conquer in battle a thousand times a thousand men,’ as Siddhartha said, ‘and if another conquers himself, he is the greatest of conquerors.’”
Having the intention of ending our suffering and dealing with our fear of death by becoming present is an act of a warrior. This highest of human attainments is our natural expression, it is the “Hero’s Journey” in mythology, it is Self-realization or individuation in psychology, and it is common sense in the world of the Now. To resist the paradigm shift is to invite mental illness and behavioral self-destruction. Carl Jung said that: “Archetypes are likened to instinctual behavior patterns. It is felt that there are as many archetypes as there are recurring situations in life, that when a situation occurs that corresponds to a particular archetype the archetype presses for completion like an instinctual drive; resistance to its expression may result in a neurosis.”
To be in the Now is to have transcended the influence of the shadow, the collective unconscious, the false self and the unconscious functioning of archetypes. The greater our awareness of the existence of these influences, the less likely we will get trapped in the illusion of P-B. When we realize that we are about to have a reaction and feel the attraction of the old narrative we can put on the armor of the intuitive warrior and respond with compassion for ourselves and others. That is the true victory of the hero in the present moment.
References and notes are available for this article.
Also find a much more in-depth discussion of Simple Reality
on this blog and in published books by Roy Charles Henry.