Thirty years ago I worked for a group called the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA Canada) in Toronto. I was marketing events for (what we called) leading edge thinkers. Among such thinkers was Riane Eisler, who is best known for her book, The Chalice and the Blade. Meeting Dr. Eisler was a powerful experience on many levels – namely, her speaking to our profound need to see things differently and to act in ways that are possible, as well as necessary, in the transformation of the world. My introduction to such thinkers helped me to more deeply appreciate the need for my search for truth. My search for truth took further shape in (what is affectionately known as listening to the living human document) clinical pastoral education circles where I trained, as a clinician, and teacher in that model of education. Here I discovered more of the truth of both the patient’s life as well as my own as a professional offering pastoral (spiritual) care.
In short, on a vocational level, the tension of truth finding is my guiding star. The tension of the social and the religious streams that I knew/know in my work in spiritual care led me to open another door in my late 40s – the work of being in analysis and the study of depth psychology as I prepared to be a Jungian analyst. At this time when I am transitioning to be named a senior analyst I live within this rubric of the social and the religious tensions in new ways.
I realize that there are measures of truth telling. The questions of: “What is it that is being told and who is the one who is listening?” are central to the process of discernment. There are interpretations of life in which a person declares that he/she/they have heard the truth. In days gone by, for example, I held that love was the deepest measure of truth and now I am no longer sure of that. In fact, I lean toward the work of D.H. Lawrence and his imperative to go deeper than love. He writes these words in his poem of that name:
There is love, and it is a deep thing
but there are deeper things than love.
First and last, man is alone.
He is born alone, and alone he dies
and alone he is while he lives, in his deepest self.
Love, like the flowers, is life, growing.
But underneath are the deep rocks, the living rock that lives
and deeper still the unknown fire, unknown and heavy, heavy
Love is a thing of twoness.
But underneath any twoness, man is alone.
And underneath the great turbulent emotions of love, the
lies the living rock of a single creature's pride,
the dark, naif pride.
And deeper even than the bedrock of pride
lies the ponderous fire of naked life
with its strange primordial consciousness of justice
and its primordial consciousness of connection,
connection with still deeper, still more terrible life-fire
and the old, old final life-truth.
Love is of twoness, and is lovely
like the living life on the earth
but below all roots of love lies the bedrock of naked pride,
and deeper than the bedrock of pride is the primordial fire of
which rests in connection with the further forever unknowable
fire of all things
and which rocks with a sense of connection, religion
and trembles with a sense of truth, primordial consciousness
and is silent with a sense of justice, the fiery primordial
All this is deeper than love
deeper than love.
The depths are where we find truth according to Lawrence. I see this as people die in hospital. I see this, also, in peoples’ attempt to hang onto life in the name of love. As a result of my work I feel my attraction to Lawrence’s sense of truth in greater depth than is knowable on many levels. It is in the depths where we don’t know in a rational sense but do know in other ways. We see in the work of our best thinkers and/or leaders – in any discipline – this profound embodiment of truth.
Within the Jungian world I look to Wolfgang Giegerich, a post-Jungian analyst nowadays. Giegerich writes about the logic of the soul in its search for truth as we live in soul. Our work, according to Giegerich, is to know that we live in soul and by listening to its demands – no matter what they are – we are living the truth.
In short, truth is highly subjective for individuals and society. It remains to be seen how we can find new myths that sustain the integrity of finding the truth in our fragile, beautiful and dangerous ways of living on both individual and social levels.