It is 8:42 on Friday night. I pulled at my laptop, wanting to write about Shadow element of our personality. However, as I start typing, the fingers seem to have a mind of their own. So here I am, sitting with a hand written article on Shadow, willing to transcribe it, but with a psyche that is unwilling to go there. Perhaps the topic of Shadow needs to ferment some more before it can be distilled into words ? Perhaps I am still ignorant about the nature of the shadow? Perhaps it is the Shadow that creates this shadow over the Shadow? Be that as it may, my psyche refuses to be led….and I have to honor the creative process. Especially what emerges after 2 weeks of creative block. So let me relinquish the delusion of control, end the intrapsychic conflict between consciousness and the unconscious, and use my hands in the service of the psyche – allowing them to express the strivings of the psyche. Be warned the writing, being straight from the unconscious, would have a rambling quality to it.
For the last 3 days I have been drawing strange drawings. Gone are my usual scrawls and doodles. These that emerge now are more sophisticated pieces of work (sophisticated by my own earlier standards! I am hopeless at drawing!) They’re short brief, brisk strokes, quite unlike the flowing curves that are usually my style. They have a definite urgency about them, for I have been compelled to draw every morning. The art, if it can be so called, has a distinct personality that is different form the personality of my usual drawings. And I hadn’t even noticed till a few of my family and friends commented – they seem to be strings! Landscapes are made of strings, trees are made of strings, flowers are stringy, even human figures appear to be stringy. And once this had been pointed out, it dawned on me that I was also attending a class on String Theory and M theory (Physics). This seems to be Jung’s synchronicity – the dance of the unconscious. “Whats going on ?” I asked myself today.
Like most, I go up and down in emotions thru my days. Sometimes I am sad, other times I’m happy, sometimes during the day I may become upset, other times I feel bliss, peace and contentment. Most times I feel love. This intense feeling that is nameless, formless, and wordless.
This morning, I was intensely upset. I went thru a slew of emotions that left me distressed and debilitated. Then thru the day, the clouds lifted, and life became promising again, as I knew it would. Still later in the day, the heart warmed up, and I could feel love flow thru me, and affection, and belonging. I belonged to the universe, and the universe belonged to me. Every part of it – the beautiful, the strong, the weak, the ugly, the broken, the fragile, the ruined – all of it. I was all those, and more. It was an experience from the core of my heart. And still, still later I tried to understand where it came from and what it meant. I mean why do we go these variations in our lives ? The ups and downs ? The peaks and troughs? The day and the night? The good and the bad? And thinking along these lines, Jung’s opposites became evident. It dawned on me that we cannot locate ourselves anywhere outside of these opposites. If we try, we are doomed to failure. Our existence is bounded by opposites. We can only exist within these opposites. And within those opposites we bounce around, and are stretched by the forces exerted by the two ends. Just like a string. Every continuum of our existence is a string! And just like a string it gets stretched taunt in moments that will test its resiliance and tenacity. And it occured to me that if it is a string, then it must follows the laws of physics, the laws that govern the behavior of the string. And yes, on closer observation, it seems to do so !!! The understanding was phenomenally insightful.
This morning, after being compelled to draw a few doodles hastily, my thoughts were drawn to the String Theory. I experiece a deep connection between psychology and String Theory. The physics and mathematics of an open string can be daunting, but we’re concerned only with the concept, not the mathematical proof. I believe that the psyche follows all laws of physics. But here is what came out of my first class.
Imagine the psyche as an open string. The string comprises of a series of elementary particles that are glued together from one end to the other end. At rest, the particles in the string exist close to each other, under inertia. When we stretch the string, we pull these particles away from each other. But since they are cohesively “attached” to each other, they resist this pulling. It is almost as if there exists a spring between these particles, that resists stretching but when sufficient force is applied, it will stretch itself so the particles can be pulled apart, and yet can return back to their original shape. That is just what the spring does – right? if the stretch is too much, new particles will be created within this gap, to prevent the particles from permanently being separated from each other, and to prevent the string from breaking. These new particles that are created have nothing to do with the original string at rest, could not have been created if the string had not been pulled, and the purpose of their existence is to prevent the string from snapping. Of course if the string is pulled even more, there is a gap created between these newly inserted particles also, and eventually no more particles can be adjusted within the gap and the string snaps.
Isn’t this exactly how humans relationships work as well? But I am not going to discuss that macro aspect of life. I would rather focus on consciousness. Imagine the psyche as a string. When it is pulled in distressing situations, the gap causes the creation of conscious awareness. This conscious awareness is always a consequence of being stretched beyond the ordinary circumstances. Just like the string, when the psyche is stretched, new virtues arise to fill the gap. When stretched beyond human endurance, the new virtues get stretched beyond the point of endurance, and what are essentially virtues, become malignant disorders, even psychosis. So when life stretches us on occasions, we may exhibit signs of distress, but return to the normal position when the situation or the crisis comes to close. Hence all of us at various times in our lives, experience psychotic breaks that may well be expressed as anger, rage or outrage. In some cases, were the endurance is tested beyond limits, the string snaps. Chronic schizophrenia, for example, would be one consequence of such stretching.
In his excellent thesis on the subject, Kenneth Wright, the author of Vision and Separation : Between Mother and Baby espouses the same line of thought. He argues that it is the separation between mother and child that causes consciousness to be forged into existence, that it is the structuring vision of the mother that enables light, or consciousness to be created. Whatever is outside the vision of the mother, becomes dark, irrational, incoherent = unconscious. In other words, rationality, coherence, structure and light are the qualities that arise in the psyche that has been stretched into or thru separation from the mother. Words, symbols, and therefore language, arise as a consequence of the need to catch the attention of the mother, and guide her vision again to those areas that are wishing to be expressed. We use words and symbols so we may catch mother’s attention. Empathy, compassion, humility are consequences of trauma as well. So we can say that the separation trauma is akin to the stretching of the string like psyche, it gives rise to new qualities/virtues as well as being the source of psychopathology in humankind.
There are many such similarities, between physics and psyche brought to light by pioneers like Arnold Mindell (Quantum Mind), Ervin Lazlo (Science and the Akashik Field), Amit Goswami (The Self Aware Universe), but any detailed explanation would be taxing without an appropriate understanding of the concept that underlie the String Theory, outside the scope of this article. What I would like to say however, is that although I use string theory metaphorically, in reality, since orientation of the string determines a particular dimensions/force, the scientists having calculated either 11, or 24 dimensions (4 of them are the spacetime continuum, and then there’s the theory of electromagnetic forces and gravitrons), it may well be possible that consciousness may be one dimensison of the proposed string. In that case what currently appears coincidence and metaphor may actually be laws that govern consciousness. In other words, the laws of Physics may apply to consciousness as well. How cool would such a discovery be?
So I leave this exploration here, and hope that thru this brief article, some of you – like me -will develop interest in these parallel worlds of psychology and physics.
So next time any of you think Physics is only for the scientifically minded, or anyone scientifically minded thinks psychology is for idiots, please remember that these various fields unite at the apex, hence the quest for a unified theory.
BTW: I promise to start working on the Shadow as soon as I am able to.