This post is formatted to reflect an original journal entry.


I have been focusing a great deal on experimenting with poetry lately. Trying new things with style, imagery. All in line with my inner voice. An observation: one’s inner voice can have varied forms of expression. And it is of the essence that I allow mine to lead me where it will. A rare form of innate artistic satisfaction is the inevitable result.

Also reading Jung’s Psychology & Religion and reflecting on parallels with Maslow’s Religion, Values, and Peak Experiences. The concept of “peak experiences” grounds the otherworldly/supernatural/mystical. Makes revelatory experiences a more possible byproduct of the everyday. Not exotic, far-off, or tied to some kind of dogma. (A marriage of high and low. As a side note, this is what draws me most to humanism, the elevation of the lowly. An aesthetic imperative that’s a great driving force behind my poetry.) A thought: Does all of this—how we experience the sacred—really come down to what Maslow calls peak experiences—and to their roots in perception? 

From this point of view, the two religions of mankind tend to be the peakers and the non-peakers, that is to say, those who have private, personal, transcendent, core-religious experiences easily and often and who accept them and make use of them, and, on the other hand, those who have never had them or who repress or suppress them and who, therefore, cannot make use of them for their personal therapy, personal growth, or personal fulfillment. – A. H. Maslow

Some people, even at the epitome of psychological health—because Maslow recognizes important distinctions between peaking and nonpeaking self-actualizers—are capable of the kinds of complete and fulfilling inner experiences that may be considered transcendent/ religious/sacred, while others simply are not. Some of us have an inner-directed religion, while others don’t and therefore must seek the sacred within themselves by identifying first with outward symbols. And the overarching need for a distinctly human mystery will always remain, whether our individual “religion” has internal or external origins. Which is just what Jung suggests. It is our responsibility to infuse old symbols with fresh meaning. I hadn’t framed it all quite this way until just now.

And is there such a thing as a religious kind of seeing? The kinds of creative visualizations I explored while researching psychedelic aesthetics (à la Huxley) form an important part of Maslow’s discussion of peak experiences. LSD-induced ecstasies. To my mind, a kind of holistic vision. A thought: one of the most significant characteristics of peak experiences is that they are complete. The symbol and its meaning. It is that completeness that creates feelings of ecstasy. And the revelation is intuitive. That is, the wholeness of the vision is felt. Known. Artists, I believe, understand this rather intimately.

A question: is there a name for this kind of unitive perception? One that represents a unique melding of inner and outer images? Jung talks about this (or a phenomenon akin to this) when he describes his concept of “introverted intuition.” Perhaps introverted intuition is it. Or part of it. Indeed, that I’ve seen, Maslow never identifies which kinds of perception distinguish peakers from nonpeakers at the same level of psychological health, as he does between the higher and lower need levels. I’d be interested to know.

I am also beginning to experience Jung’s conception of consciousness more fully and feel as if I am wholly engaged in a process of independent rediscovery. To be sure, it is one thing to read about these ideas in a textbook or glean main points from a lecture, and it is quite another to understand them in relation to oneself, as they are glimpsed through the lens of one’s own introspective analyses. I am still slowly making my way through The Red Book. I have noticed that I feel a certain kinship with Jung as he records his exercises in active imagination. I feel as if I engage in a similar process every time I write poetry. As if I, too, am in the process of rediscovering my own mystery. Each time I look inward for insight, symbolism, a grain of universal truth, the rawest form of self-representation of which I am capable. The more creative I am, the more fully human I become. 

Thank You…

…once again to T. Blake for an incredible new painting that represents Kitchen 99! (It is now featured in the original post, as well.) It is a blessing to have such a fruitful collaborative relationship with another artist, and I consider it a privilege, at least for now, to be able to showcase our work here on The Used Life. Thank you all for the continued support!

Kitchen 99 (1)


2 thoughts on “Refractions

  1. I love the idea of processes of rediscovery and your final sentence: “The more creative I am, the more fully human I become.” I am glad that you have enjoyed Jung’s lecture, Psychology & Religion. I have read it several times over the past twenty years (could I really have first read it that long ago?), and I seem to learn something new about myself every time. I also relate very much to these words of yours: “As if I, too, am in the process of rediscovering my own mystery.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yes, I’m finding Jung a very interesting and insightful read. And I can see why you’d go back to “Psychology & Religion” many times. I try to read slowly and make notes in the margins. There’s so much to take in! It is interesting writing posts like this one because I find that what I am learning is not radically new. But, I’m starting to see the same old topics through a different lens. And sometimes, those small shifts in perspective make a big difference.

      Liked by 1 person

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