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Part III: Individuation and De-Individuation as sacrifice

This is part three of a five part excerpt from my book on the YiJing and DaoDeJing discussing the process of Ego sacrifice as the fundament of the dynamic between Individuation and De-Individuation.

This idea is echoed in the mythical understanding of the experience of the divine brought forth by Eckart. His idea of the experience of God is summed up in the phrase "Where the creature ends, God begins." When one sees the image of God, one has not experienced God in his divinity. This refers to the difference between the divine and the human and thus denotes their separation (i.e., the divine is not immanently present in the individual, but is located outside of the individual's sphere of influence). Furthermore it paves the way for the unification of these opposites and offers an approach how the experience of the divine is possible for the individual or how such an experience manifests itself. Due to the separation of the two spaces (divine and human), an experience is experienced like a touching of the two. This also means that the individual must exhibit a certain willingness to touch in order for it to be possible. This willingness, or openness to touch, is given by the emptiness of the mind from worldly images. What such an experience looks like can be clearly seen in Rudolf Otto's description of the sacred: It is the sacred, numinous, the Tremendum, which can be experienced as such but cannot or must not be named in language and image. The experience of the highest truth can only happen as a result of the emptiness of the spirit. It happens, and cannot be forced; it flows into the mind, enfolds and overwhelms, envelops and flows around it, and is experienced, as sentiment, not as word or concept. The need for purification or cleansing necessary for this process is similar to the idea that one's life journey is a process of purification from the original sin committed by our earliest ancestors in paradise: from the ability to "see" i.e. to separate, from which the ego arose.

That the process of individuation resembles alchemical purification or transmutation is an idea already put forward by Jung. The latter has also proposed to understand the transmutation in comparison with the liturgy of Christ and thus to develop an overall picture on the process of psychic interplay between consciousness and subconsciousness. The body as the corpus of the alchemical process - as the essence of the alchemical opus magnum - additionally alludes to the controversy surrounding the separation of body and mind. It is the image of yin and yang - the light and the dark forces - Tiamat and Apsu, which have broken away from their entanglement to enable creation. But can this metaphor from mythology be applied to the separation of yin and yang? This question becomes particularly urgent when one remembers the predecessor of this symbol: the Wuji or in Jungian terms the Uroborus, which represents the elemental archetype or starting point of the archetype of the great mother which in its positive aspect represents the fertile, nourishing soil of all life.

Eckart says: "A shoot will come forth from the root of Jesse. And a blossom will rise from his root". In this sense, one might be tempted to ask whether a separation between subject and object, and in this metaphor also the yin (unconscious, uroborus, mother body) and yang (consciousness, individual) has been at all purposeful. One could then further ask the question whether the process of individuation is a process of "birth of consciousness" and thus reinforces the emphasis of yang attributes (light) or rather describes the reunion of yin and yang (the return to wuji). In short, is the goal of Opus Magnum the purification of the primordial material into gold or is it the return to the primordial material itself? To address this problem, a second movement, that of de-individuation, must be added to the movement of individuation. Now, what do these two movements mean and how do they differ in terms of the need for purification of the mind?

At this point it is necessary to work out a clear differentiation between the concept of individuation and that of de-individuation. The term individuation refers to the process of purification of the self from the burden of the ego. Accordingly, this process of self-finding or self-disclosure - concerns a cleansing of the mind from the projections that the ego imposes upon it. It is accordingly a finding of the personal part of the archetypes. Through this process, the mind is cleansed of its burden of ego and its polluting projections, but still remains self-referral. De-individuation goes beyond this self-referral by moving from the "self" (as opposed to the "ego"), that is, the personal part of the collective unconscious into the collective part of this space. This is the "participation mystique," the ecstasy, the momentary inspiration, the death, the numinous, the spiritual (nirvana), etc. This kind of being enveloped by the tides of archetypal space is experienced as a kind of cosmic resonance, a demise of the personal (hence death), a spiritual enlightenment, etc. The question whether this experience is limited to moments, or to what extent this collective integration can also find its way into our lives beyond its spontaneous appearance (i..e. being seized) in moments, must remain unanswered here and will be discussed elsewhere. In both cases, purification refers to man's ability to participate in being itself, that is, in the common essence of object and subject. Thus, when we speak of archetypes, we speak of them in such a way as to speak of a participation, a "participation" or resonance with a truth, that is, something apre-eminentem. What exactly such a participation looks like (see Kleinau, 2020, 2020) and how these terms and also the process are to be understood from a metaphysical point of view (see Kleinau, The Rebirth of Death, in print) must be dictated elsewhere. Here I make use of these terms and processes as a loan for the understanding of the human psyche. It must also remain open at this point what exactly a pre-eminence of such terms means and to what extent the human psyche has an influence on the formation of this space (see Kleinau, The preconditions and development of modern Nihilism, in print or Kleinau, 2020).


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