“OUR PANTING SOUL CLEAVES TO GOD…”
It is rather deflating and narcissistically painful for the so-called adult human ego to humbly accept that there is a colossal spirit that nourishes, guides and determines his/her life.
The mystical writer, Francis De Sales wrote the following:
“There, as the famished babe cleaves to its mother’s breast as though it would fain absorb it, so our panting soul cleaves to God as though to be forever absorbed in Him, and He in us!”
The industrialized fascination with visibility and the scientific discrimination against the soul has led the human ego to erase, from consciousness, the idea that there is a soul. The human ego has appointed itself as the primary and exclusive factor in the psychology of the individual.
Furthermore, God does not exist for a large segment of the population and, therefore, the experiential and practical idea that there is a God image in us that determines our lives, as Jung brilliantly demonstrated through the experience of Jungian analysis, has little acceptance and relevance in industrialized and technological societies.
The soul is absorbed in God, and God is in us, as De Sales concluded, is a timeless idea that many aboriginal and indigenous tribes may agree with. Take, for example, the cosmology of the Kogi tribe and the Sibundoy Indians in Colombia, South America. Their rich spiritual view of Nature and of people connects them deeply with the spirit world, the Divine in Nature and in themselves. Yet, many industrialized and technological nations easily live without the idea and/or experience of the Divine, let alone the possibility that it has a place in the heart and soul of the so-called modern people. The price to pay for this ignorance and systematic neglect is, I believe, the hefty psychological cost of depression, anxiety, despair, and meaninglessness.
When an individual pays daily attention to dreams and synchronicities, he/she discovers that the unconscious wants to complement the individual ego in order to follow a specific destiny suggested by the Self (the God Image in us, as Jung called it). And this is experienced as a defeat by the person because his/her ego has grown so accustomed to be and behave like a God i.e., making decisions, thinking all kinds of thoughts, fantasizing, struggling with all sorts of obstacles, etc.
The word, ‘absorb’ stems etymologically from the Latin absorbere, that is, “to swallow up, devour”, from ab “off, away from” and sorbere “suck in.” Therefore, “to absorb” means “to suck in” and “away from.” Then, God sucks in the soul, away from its separate state. The implication is that, on a daily basis, human beings unfortunately attempt to live independently and separately from God, and that the soul seeks subsequently to be absorbed or sucked in by God. Furthermore, here lies Jung’s crucial discovery of the religious function of the psyche. As Jung said: “If no one can point to any race, or even a tribe, which is quite free from religious phenomena, then I really do not see how one can justify the argument that religious phenomena are not genuine…” Following Jung and De Sales, the conclusion is that a human being becomes part of God, and that the soul is integrated into God. Our human identity is fully embedded in God, despite our sense of self and our conscious identity. Ego consciousness, the sense of self, or the personal identity, all of which gives the ego a sense of separateness -an individuality- is one of the aspects that remains from God’s absorption of our souls. Fortunately, one can actively and positively participate in the process of being absorbed in God: when an individual reflects and integrates responsibly and assiduously his/her dreams, he/she actively participates in God’s absorption process that De Sales and Jung described.
Another angle for understanding the idea of ‘the absorption of the soul in God’, could be done through the coagulatio stage of alchemy. According to Edinger (1985), “.....coagulatio belongs to the symbolism of the element earth…It is heavy and permanent, of fixed position and shape…Thus, for a psychic content to become earth means that it has been concretized in a particular localized form; that is, it has become attached to an ego.(p. 83, and see figure below).” Coagulatio corresponds to the process of incarnating, in a physical body, what the Divine has hinted at us in dreams, for example. In other words, incarnating the soul images from dreams into our daily lives contributes to the absorption of soul “in Him, and He in us.”
Earth Nurses the Filius Philosophorum (Maier, Atalanta Fugiens, 1618)
Therefore, we may reframe De Sales’s sentence in the following way: the individual soul (the totality of consciousness and the unconscious) is guided by God (the Self or God Image in us) because the unconscious is in God -the unconscious has always been absorbed by God. Jung (CW, 12) wrote the following: “The Self is not only the centre, but also the whole circumference which embraces both conscious and the unconscious; it is the center of this totality.”
Therefore, Jung concluded, like De Sales did, that the God Image in us is the centre (“He in us”) and that consciousness and the unconscious (or Soul) is absorbed in Him (the God Image in Us or the Self).
Then, we can rest on Him, and He can rest in us.