After shadow work, you have the ability to access deeper aspects of your true nature or, as Carl Jung called it, the “Collective Unconscious.” The collective unconscious is a powerful source of creativity, innovation and intuition. In this episode, we explore what the collective unconscious is, how to access it and what is possible in partnership with your deeper self. We discuss:
- The Collective Unconscious as Ancestral Memory
- Why you need to do shadow work first before you enter the collective unconscious
- Understanding the Anima (Mother) and Animus (Father) and how they appear as the world and spirit
- How symbols are used for transformation
- Ways to access the unconscious through meditation, introspection, dreams and active imagination
- In order to change the world, we need to change our relationship with ourselves first
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Debra Maldonado 00:28
Hello again, welcome to another episode of Soul Sessions with CreativeMind. I am Debra Maldonado, here with Rob Maldonado. We’re here to open your mind and help you live a better life.
Robert Maldonado 00:43
Continuing our series on the psychology of transformation.
Debra Maldonado 00:48
How we transform and what that is about. But before we start, I want to invite you to subscribe to our channel. If you’re watching us on YouTube, just click the button in the corner. If you’re listening to us on the podcast services, such as Spotify, iTunes, all those wonderful services, don’t forget to click Subscribe, so you don’t miss another episode. Especially because we do series and you want to get every one because one builds upon the other. Today’s episode is about accessing your creativity. Where does the creativity really come from? Since we’re CreativeMind, we had to know something about that. This well of creativity and what Jung called the collective unconscious.
Robert Maldonado 01:40
Jung is one of the few, maybe the only one, that really tackles this question of where creativity comes from. How is it that we’re able to create all this technology, all this art, architecture, cars, spaceships, all this stuff that we create as human beings? His answer is incredibly profound and controversial. We’ll talk about that.
Debra Maldonado 02:17
When we talk about the collective unconscious, there’s a term a lot of people use, the collective consciousness. What would be the difference between collective consciousness and the collective unconscious?
Robert Maldonado 02:31
Jung used the term “unconscious” to mean that we are not aware of it. It’s separate from our conscious experience. When we’re awake and alert right now, he says the center of that experience is the ego, it’s the center of how we see the world and how we feel ourselves to be. The unconscious is unseen at this point. But it’s accessible through dreams, through inner work, through visualization, introspection, through the process of active imagination, which we’re going to be talking about. The collective unconscious is made up of collective knowledge of humankind. You can think of it as ancestral knowledge, just like us individually, we can think: what did I learn in elementary school? What did I learn in high school? What did I learn in college? We have access to a lot of that knowledge. He says to think about humanity’s evolution and the things that human beings learn along the way. It’s been accumulating, where is it stored? In the collective unconscious. It’s collected because it’s not just our individual mind.
Debra Maldonado 04:05
Or personal experience. We’re sitting upon a treasure trove of knowledge. It doesn’t include humanity, but I’d say animals have similar patterns. Since we evolved from animals, wouldn’t it be from every part of evolution?
Robert Maldonado 04:21
That’s a good point. He’d definitely say that. His primary work focused on what he called incredible religious and spiritual symbols that you could identify in different cultures throughout different times.
Debra Maldonado 04:45
Like the pyramids, you go anywhere in the world, there’s pyramids. They’ve never had communication with each other. Where did that knowledge come from to build something that reaches the sky?
Robert Maldonado 04:57
Most people would think there’s no scientific basis for this. But it’s really the opposite. There is pretty good scientific data that that’s the way it works. It’s called epigenetics, our gene code for experience. That code is transmitted to our children, into their children and so forth. Which means that there is a mechanism for ancestral memories to be passed down. He was ahead of his time, he was more working on the theoretical and philosophical basis of what the mind is, but he was on track. He got a lot of things wrong of course, now we have more information from Eastern philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, some of it is supported, some is not. But he considered himself a scientist. I don’t think he would mind us saying he got this wrong. That’s essentially what a scientist does, they challenge the assumptions and try to disprove a lot of the assumptions that they’re making.
Debra Maldonado 06:14
A lot of this knowledge is uncovered because people talk about epigenetics when it comes to trauma, like a generational trauma got passed down. But we’re missing out, if we’re only focusing on that little piece of the brokenness, we’re missing out on all the wisdom. Can you imagine, deep within the early days of man, we have that knowledge of what it feels like to feel the grass beneath our feet, to worship and wonder what the stars mean, have these rituals. That’s why when we go to different places and experience different rituals, we feel a little affinity to some of them, and it feels familiar to us. There’s definitely that collectiveness. When I was in Denver, I went to this indigenous healers conference, back when I was into all that stuff. Healers from all over the world, the shamans, all got together. They were all sharing that they actually had this very similar rituals, but they came from all over the planet. There’s some intelligence here keeping us all together and helping us work with this thing called human life. It’s very spiritual to know that we are connected so much.
Robert Maldonado 07:34
The other factor about the collective unconscious is that it can only be accessed after you do shadow work. We know from our own experience and working with many people, before you do shadow work, all you’re seeing is your own conditioned mind. The symbols and images that appear may be from the collective unconscious, but you’re interpreting and experiencing them from your personal experience, from your subjective point of view. That renders them useless as far as their creative potential.
Debra Maldonado 08:14
It’s like if you grew up in your hometown, you only lived in that hometown, you never had access to an outside world. You made all your decisions based on what you learned just in that town, no access to other cultures, other information, other points of view, other societies, other people. You’re stuck in the familiar. That’s what it’s like if you’re working with your conditioning. It is a very narrow, limited, not having a lot of choice because you’re only seeing a tiny piece of the world and what’s possible for you.
Robert Maldonado 08:56
The other factor we want to always consider in talking about the collective unconscious is that it is where we encounter the archetypes. These are often not so much misused or misunderstood but people have taken the concept and expanded it into their fields. People that do marketing or branding now use the concept or the word “archetype” to talk about their branding strategies. Nothing wrong with that, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about Jung’s psychology of individuation. What was he talking about when he was talking about personal transformation, tapping into deeper layers of our unconscious mind? What do the archetypes mean for us in that respect?
Debra Maldonado 10:02
We have our familiarity with our town and functions of our life, how we like our emotions. In humanity, we share a lot of information of life, we have grief, I understand what that is. We have some idea of our personal experiences. When we’re working on the archetype, it’s beyond what we experienced before this other realm, outside of the Shire, outside of your hometown. Imagine that you were exposed to a completely new world, a new experience that was beyond what you experienced before. That’s the power of the archetype.
Robert Maldonado 10:43
As modern science starts to investigate consciousness and its nature, Jung’s work is becoming more relevant again, because that’s what he was talking about. He was saying it’s an idealism, it’s the understanding that the psyche is creating our human experience. It is the source of our human technology, art, science. Everything is coming through psyche, there is no place else it can come from, it is the source of that creative power.
Debra Maldonado 11:18
A description of the archetype is the original template. We can’t really see when you make a copy of a copy of a copy. An archetype is a structure that’s universal. A mother, a father, the idea of a house, the idea of a chair, all these are archetypes, they’re things we can find in many different shapes, sizes, forms, and experiences. But there’s commonality to it, we have ways we live in the universe, there’s an up and down, there’s the sky, there’s the earth, there’s a tree, there’s animals, there’s plants, they’re all archetypes. There’s many different trees, many different types of animals, many different views of the sky. It is this universal template, the ground, a framework of how we experience the world. But then we all have that ability to go deeper into the source of that archetypal pattern. What happens is that our personal life gets collapsed into that archetype and covers it up, where we don’t even see the archetype anywhere, we just think it’s that other person or my personality. Archetype is something we can’t really see directly, all we can see is its symbols.
Robert Maldonado 12:44
That’s a good point. Michelangelo understood this principle. He said, “I’m not the creator of these things. I’m simply lending my body to do the work and revealing the power that’s there.”
Debra Maldonado 13:04
He said, “God created the David. The David was already inside the stone. It was just my job to chip away the excess.” The power, the brilliance, the awe of our humanity is already in us. We just have to go through our personal experience and the fog of distortion, of not really understanding ourselves. When we see the power and true nature, it’s really amazing what we’re sitting on. Most people don’t go there, they don’t access it. They’re too busy looking externally, looking in the world.
Robert Maldonado 14:41
You can’t go there unless you do shadow work because again, before shadow work, you believe you’re the persona, you believe you’re an individual, you’re not connected to deeper realms of existence. There is no spirit for you there. There’s no aliveness in the universe. You’re simply housed inside your body and limited to that.
Debra Maldonado 15:06
You’re another object in the world, interacting with other objects, but not connected to anything.
Robert Maldonado 15:14
After shadow work, after you integrate the shadow, you drop over-identification with a persona, with your limited role as a human being, you’re not pushing it away, you’re not denying it. You understand it’s a function of your mind. It’s a part of you, not all of you. That allows you to connect to deeper layers of what Jung called the collective unconscious. It is a source of creativity because these archetypal patterns are ancient, they predate the human race, essentially. What coming into relationship with these archetypes means is that you’re borrowing or channeling their power. You’re actually now influenced by and moved by these powerful symbols that arise from deep within the unconscious mind.
Debra Maldonado 16:16
Before shadow work, the power runs you basically, the forces we have are unconsciously driving us as well. After shadow work, we can make partners with it, use its power, redirect and steer, have a little more steering control. Was that what you’re saying?
Robert Maldonado 16:39
Jung talks about it as a relationship very similar to human relationships, where if you’re in a relationship with someone, it’s a give and take. It’s not all about you take or you give. You have to give back, you have to explain what you’re up to. Why do you need this information and knowledge? Why do you need to create art, science, technology? Then the collective unconscious, the symbols of transformation that arise from the unconscious, give you that power, that information in relationship to you honoring them, being respectful of their power. This power comes from somewhere beyond your individual existence.
Debra Maldonado 17:36
You’re humbled by it versus you’re arrogant, like, “I’m creating all this stuff, I’m manifesting this, I’m doing this.” It’s a partnership.
Robert Maldonado 17:49
Great artists always acknowledge they’re simply the vehicles for these things. They feel they didn’t invent it, logically sit down and write these things out or create these things. They come through them.
Debra Maldonado 18:06
Some people have told me, “I really loved when you said this, that really changed me.” I don’t even remember saying it. It’s like as if Debi was not there, something else came in my mind. That’s this universal intelligence. It’s not the persona speaking through you. The more you grow, the more you go beyond the shadow and into deeper realms of the psyche, you have access to this intuition, this knowledge that flows through you. I think artists have that capacity. Sometimes they’re able to put their ego aside and tap in. Would you say that is what they’re really doing? When they create a drawing, these natural archetypes come through. For me, when I was a writer, when I’d write fiction, all these archetypes, I wouldn’t be like “This or that”, the characters fell into these archetypal patterns. It wasn’t me being aware of archetypes. But when I look back now, I say, “I could see that.” You see this in movies and screenplays, in stories and books. These stories come with this archetypal pattern. Where did that come from? We didn’t consciously create it. Very fascinating.
Robert Maldonado 19:28
Jungian psychology has allowed us to understand literature, cinema, technology, all the creative arts and sciences in a deeper way. We understand now that these patterns arise from a deep source of the collective unconscious, they come through visions, symbols, dreams, inspiration. Of course, people are inspired or possessed by creative ideas, they’re compelled to do these things. But the more we understand them, the more we can help people access this creativity in a creative, positive way. We know of artists that are consumed or destroyed even by this power sometimes because they don’t know how to deal with it, they don’t understand its psychology. To them, it feels like a foreign possession.
Debra Maldonado 20:32
Like Beethoven, he was obsessed with writing his music, he was deaf in the last year or two of his life. The fact that he was be able to create this music, where did it come from? He wasn’t hearing it with his senses. But I think one of the greatest, simplest ways we can understand the collective unconscious is something very accessible to us, which is that anima/animus. When we talk about artists, male artist have a muse, there’s always this image of a woman, that’s the anima, this universal Mother, universal woman that almost possesses them in a way, inspires them.
Robert Maldonado 21:27
In Jungian psychology, in the process of individuation he says the first task is to integrate the shadow. That’s the ticket into the larger realm of the collective unconscious, because the shadow is the personal unconscious, it has to do with your personal history. Beyond that, he says, we enter into the collective unconscious, where these powerful archetypal images and symbols transform our awareness, our perception of the world, because they connect us to the universe. We no longer see ourselves separate from the world, we see that it is one process, psyche. World, psyche and universe are essentially one.
Debra Maldonado 22:20
We’re the universe, we have access, it’s not something we have to go off and travel to see, we can experience it every night.
Robert Maldonado 22:29
This is also explained in the Upanishads. It says, “As you become enlightened, as you free your mind from past conditioning, you experience the true self within you.” It says the true self sees everything as itself. Trees, other people, animals, mountains, clouds, it sees as a reflection of me, of who I am, that pure awareness that is there, creating these things. That’s why Jung was considered a mystique by many people. But he was simply explaining the psychology of these deeper experiences that human beings have and how we can account for them with our modern psychology. The world in its form is often referred to as mother or the Great Mother. Jung says this is an archetype, the archetype of the Mother, the element of sustenance and material, the one that gives us comfort, fire, food, sustains our bodies, the whole physical comfort of the world, how it takes care of us and sustains us. It’s a principle of mother. Many of the early images humans have found in archaeology are of the mother archetypes. The mother was the first religious principle that was worshipped.
Debra Maldonado 24:28
There’s a great book by Joseph Campbell called Goddesses, he talks about how the goddess was a female figure. It was the initial god they worshipped. Then she got shoved to the corner throughout history as the male god came through. But because back when we were just young humanity, we relied on the earth so much as our source of access. We still do but they didn’t have technology, they had to be so connected to the earth, and the earth gave back to them. The nature was more an integral part of their life compared to now, where we’re in houses, sidewalks, streets, office buildings. We don’t have that love of the mother. That’s why we need to go on these spiritual retreats, to jungle places, beaches, or somewhere where we can lose ourselves in the desert, because there’s a part of us in the deep wisdom that wants to connect to that mother.
Robert Maldonado 25:42
This was precisely Jung’s point in developing his psychology of individuation. He said that just because we isolate ourselves through technology and through material culture from nature, it doesn’t mean we are free from that need. The psychological need is still there. The psychology of individuation allows us to tap into that deeper process. It’s still there in an individual psychological way. How does that work? He says to look inside as you go inward through shadow work. After you do your shadow work, you start to pay attention to your dreams, to the unconscious mind. It’ll give you a symbol that will represent that process of relating to archetypal elements. He says it is primarily the Anima or the Animus, the mother figure or the great spirit god. These are symbols that arise from the unconscious mind, through dreams, through visions, through meditation. In relationship to them, you’re guided on your inner journey of transformation.
Debra Maldonado 27:11
One thing to know is that you’ll know a universal symbol. It’s something that’s not familiar in your experience in life. You see this goddess woman or a mother that’s very different than your mother. It’s something new, a new place you’ve never been. I’m really amazed at the symbols that show up in my dreams because I don’t have any personal experience with them. I got a pine cone from my animus in a dream, I was like, “That’s an interesting shape”, it was all gold. When I did research on it, it represents the divine, like the mandala, for the fractals. If you look at the Catholic Church, they have pine cones as the top of their staffs. It didn’t come from my memory, it came from another place. I really like the idea that when you think about something, a dream can come from your memory, it’s ordinary dreams, and these archetypal dreams come from something outside of your memory. It’s really cool when this happens because these dreams really show me a connection to that deeper part. How we connect to the collective unconscious is dreams, it’s a direct highway. It makes you feel that you’re not alone in the world, there’s this intelligence that’s listening and feeding back to you wisdom you need. It is you but it’s another you, it’s a bigger you. It’s a really beautiful process, very spiritual, very mystical that you can go to every night of your life. You don’t have to do anything crazy to do it. You fall asleep and just be open, the dreams will show you. A lot of times people don’t understand what their dream meant, they throw it away. We want to pay attention to them because they have so much richness to them.
Robert Maldonado 29:22
That’s what Jung did with his work as well, he gave us a way to understand this function of the psyche that is very foreign to our conscious mind because it is the opposite of our conscious awareness. If you think what our conscious awareness does, it gives us logic, understanding, reason, the unconscious is the opposite. It’s not going to be reasonable. It’s not going to be logical. It’s going to speak in a very emotional, funny, imaginative, symbolic visual way. We’ve all experienced dreams where we come out saying, “What was that about?” It was so bizarre, but it’s that symbolic language speaking to us continuously. We have to understand it, we have to pay attention and learn how it speaks.
Debra Maldonado 30:19
If you think about Paul McCartney, they asked him where he got that song, Let It Be, from. He said he had a dream about his mother, Mary, who spoke to him and told him to let it be because he was struggling with letting go of the Beatles. He wrote this song from that. The music for Yesterday came to him in a dream. It’s this other creative force within us that’s feeding us information. If we’re not able to access it, we’re missing out on so much. You hear so many stories of dreams inspiring people. Like James Cameron, Avatar was from a dream. He dreamt of mystical place, then he wrote the screenplay 20 or 30 years ago. He just kept it for when he was ready. But when you see that movie Avatar, it’s like you’re watching someone else’s experience in a dream. Where did he come up with these creatures, this world that’s so different? It comes from that creativity. Beyond the rational and logical, through memory experience, there’s a wealth of untapped creativity that the collective unconscious has for us.
Robert Maldonado 31:32
If anima represents a mother and represents the world, we see it in the way we relate to the world. Our understanding, our inner relationship to the mother archetype, or the Anima in us, is the way we experience the world, the physical world. Now, the way we experience the spiritual world has to do more with the Animus, the male energy, or the father principle. It is the unseen spirit that moves the world, that moves the clouds and invisibly moves the energy around. A lot of people get caught up in the masculine and feminine, but Jung was talking about deeper forces and deeper concepts that he saw in many spiritual traditions.
Debra Maldonado 32:32
The duality, then the integration of duality is alchemy. The two forces coming together, creating a third. Like a couple coming together, having a baby, birth, rebirth, those type of symbols.
Robert Maldonado 32:46
Together, they account for a lot of what we see in human culture. We have a conflict with the material world. In general, people don’t seem to fit in anymore. They feel at odds with nature, they feel nature is either trying to get me or I don’t belong in nature, I can protect myself in the city, be in the houses and buildings.
Debra Maldonado 33:19
Or I can just use up all its resources, drain it of gas and minerals, destroy crops.
Robert Maldonado 33:31
You see that these our relationship to these archetypal elements in the psyche have an important impact in the way we then relate to our physical world.
Debra Maldonado 33:45
Do you think, I’m just throwing this out there, it’s anger at being conscious, resentment for having to live in this world and deal with it, almost like an unconscious resentment? Because we’re not taking care of it as a whole.
Robert Maldonado 34:08
I’d say that most people have not done shadow work. They’re operating out of conditioning.
Debra Maldonado 34:15
The ego and survival, short-term payoffs versus long-term investment.
Robert Maldonado 34:21
They do not see themselves as having the power to have an impact on the way human beings interact with nature and the planet in general. They see themselves as powerless individuals. How am I to help the situation if I am just a puny human being, one person amongst billions? Whereas the individuation process is meant to empower you through understanding that it’s the power of ideas that gives you the power to transform societies in the world.
Debra Maldonado 35:07
What you’re saying is that, in order for us to change the world, save the planet, together with doing all the things we need to do out there, like recycle, conserve, drive electric cars, not eat chemicals, eat natural foods, what we really want to do is we want to individuate and encourage others too because that’s going to bring balance back to the world. The outer world is just reflecting our own inner conflict.
Robert Maldonado 35:37
That was Jung’s idea, this is not my original idea. He was definitely ahead of his time. He saw where humans were going, he was alive during the development of the nuclear bomb and the first detonation in World War II. He saw that if we continue along this path, there’s trouble up ahead. He said “What if something goes wrong with the psyche?” Because that’s the source of the problem. The problem is not out there. It’s not technology, it’s not war. We have the psychology, we have the technology to correct all these problems. But because people are still caught up in their ego and persona, they believe they are these roles they’re playing, they’re not able to exert their creative power.
Debra Maldonado 36:33
Even in general, how many people don’t live their fullest life, they’re in jobs they don’t really love, but cling to it for the steady paycheck, not able to take a leap and start their own business or do something they love because it’s so conditioned in you that you have to follow the rules. You don’t allow yourself to have innovation and inspiration come out. It won’t come out if you’re still playing in that conditioned self.
Robert Maldonado 37:02
In general, I’m very optimistic because we have the psychological tools, the technological tools to make these corrections and transformations. But we know we have to get more people to individuate, to stop projecting their shadow onto others, because that’s the source of a lot of our conflicts as human beings. We are acting in and projecting the shadow, then fighting ourselves.
Debra Maldonado 37:42
It’s that inner fight we’re struggling with. How we do this is we have to do shadow work, we also have to look at our dreams. Then we have to look at our projections and everyday life, what triggers us and what we’re seeing out there, then acknowledge that what I’m seeing out there is reflective of my own mind. It is a part of myself that I’m seeing, that I’m not conscious of, that I have a conflict with. The more we can work in our little world and personal life, get that together, as far as empowerment, then we can take on the bigger picture. I think a lot of times people want to save the world because they want a distraction from working on themselves. They want to go out and do some great things in the world, but they don’t take care of the inner stuff. Then they end up still fighting, even well-meaning people that want to change society, there can be anger or a projection they’re not aware of. It doesn’t really help to change it out there. You change inside, that’s really the key. Then everything becomes easier because you’re going to have that intuition, that innovation, imagination comes in to help you, instead of your ego rational mind trying to solve the world’s problems, the little executive functioning of your brain that’s only processing what you experience. There’s this other realm of intelligence available.
Robert Maldonado 39:20
To wrap it up, we talked about how to access the source of creativity, which is collective unconscious. One is introspection. We’ve seen it in many traditions, it’s the looking inward, looking at our own heart, our own soul. What is our path? What is our purpose on earth? If we don’t ask those questions and find a way to do that, then we remain tied to our conditioning. All those past experiences call the shots as to how we’re going to act in the moment. Introspection gives us that freedom, integration of the shadow liberates us from past conditioning. The second principle is dreams, an act of imagination. As we start to receive these deeper transformative symbols from the collective unconscious, we use active imagination to ask how do we apply these symbols in our everyday life? What do we do with them? What technologies do we create? What businesses can we create using these powerful symbols? The third one depends on the power in the wisdom of the higher self. Many people call this the true self. In many traditions, including the Upanishads, the self is the treasure we’re seeking. It’s not happiness, it’s not money, it’s not romantic love. The self is the true purpose of our life, our existence here on Earth. It’s saying you are the self already, but you have to realize it because that appearance of the ego and the persona acts like a covering, it covers over the true self.
Debra Maldonado 41:34
Speaking of archetypes and patterns, every story you hear is about the god that falls down from heaven, as a human being he forgets that he’s a god. Even Moses forgot that he was the king, there’s all these stories, the Lion King. In myths, archetypal patterns talk about individuation all the time, talk about these principles. If we really understand this path and the stages, in popular culture, you start to see they’re really everywhere. It’s like putting all the dots together and understanding it in a deeper way. Very powerful. It’s a journey you’re meant to be on, a journey that is your birthright. You shouldn’t live your whole life on the surface, feeling like you’re scraping through life. It shouldn’t be a struggle, it shouldn’t be painful. It should be a ride, a journey, a creative endeavor.
Robert Maldonado 43:00
Ultimately, Jung’s work, especially individuation, leads us to feeling empowered, feeling freedom, liberation from the constraints of the ego, of the persona.
Debra Maldonado 43:17
Thank you for listening. It’s been a great series, we’ll see you next week. Before you go, please, if you haven’t done so, subscribe here, click on the button in the corner on the video if you’re watching us on YouTube. If you’re listening to us on the podcast services, iTunes, Spotify, other great services, make sure you subscribe before you leave us today so we can see you next week for another episode of Soul Sessions.