Carl Jung on Active Imagination

On Alchemy/Individuation:

- Know Thyself

- To be as honest as possible with myself

- I took great care to try to understand every single image, every item of my psychic inventory, and to classify them scientifically - so far as this was possible - and, above all, to REALIZE them in actual life

- There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the self

- The years in which I was pursuing my inner images where the most important in my life - in them everything essential was decided.

- How does one come to terms with the unconscious?

- Getting rid of the separation between conscious and unconscious

- A way of attaining liberation by one's own efforts and of finding the courage to be oneself

- The secret of alchemy was in fact the transcendent function, the transformation of personality through the blending and fusion of the noble with the base components, of the differentiated with the inferior functions, of the conscious with the unconscious

- The centre of the total personality no longer coincides with the ego, but with a point midway between the conscious and the unconscious

- As I am, so I act

- It is of the greatest importance for the young person, who is still unadapted and has yet achieved nothing, to shape his conscious ego as effectively as possible, that is, to educate his will

- An INWARDLY stable and self-confident person will prove more adequate to his social tasks than one who is on a bad footing with his unconscious

- Mandala: the psychological expression of the totality of the self, a means of protecting the centre of the personality from being drawn out and form being influenced from outside, the squaring of the circle

- Chen-yen, the true or complete man, homo quadratus

- Find your individual way to the solution of your conflicts

- The process of coming to terms with the Other in us is well worth while, because in this way we get to know aspects of our nature which we would not allow anybody else to show us and which we ourselves would never have admitted.

The avowed purpose of this involvement is to integrate the statements of the unconscious, to assimilate their compensatory content, and thereby produce a whole meaning which alone makes life worth living and, for not a few people, possible at all. In myths the hero is the one who conquers the dragon, not the one who is devoured by it. And yet both have to deal with the same dragon. Also, he is no hero who never met the dragon, or who, if he once saw it, declared afterwards that he saw nothing. Equally, only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the 'treasure hard to attain.' He alone has a genuine claim to self-confidence, for he has faced the dark ground of his self and thereby has gained himself. This experience gives him faith and trust, the pistes in the ability of the self to sustain him, for everything that menaced him from inside he has made his own. He has acquired the right to believe that he will be able to overcome all future threats by the same means. He has arrived at an inner certainty which makes him capable of self-reliance, and attained what the alchemists called the unio mentalis.

Instructions for practicing Active imagination:

- Concentrate on the emotionally disturbed state until a visual image appears, a visual mood

- Choose an image from a dream, vision or fantasy and concentrate on it

- Choose a photo, picture or other object and concentrate on it until it comes alive

- Find the particular images which lie behind emotions

- I frequently imagined a steep descent. I even made several attempts to get to very bottom

- Make emotional state the basis or starting point of the procedure: make yourself as conscious as possible of the mood you are in, sink yourself in without reserve and note down on paper all fantasies and other associations that come up

- Visual type: concentrate on inner image

- Audio-verbal type: concentrate on inner words

- Other types: work with plastic materials, bodily movements, automatic writing

- Introduce as much fantasy as possible into the picture, for in that way the unconscious has the best chance of revealing its contents

- Vivid colors seem to attract the unconscious

- When you concentrate on a mental picture, it begins to stir, the image becomes enriched by details, it moves and develops. Each time, naturally, you mistrust it and have the idea that you have just made it up, that it is merely your own invention. But you have to overcome that doubt, because it is not true. We can really produce precious little by our conscious mind. All the time we are dependent upon things that literally fall into our conscious; therefore in German we call them Einfälle.

- Start with any image. Contemplate it and carefully observe how the picture begins to unfold or to change. Don't try to make it into something, just do nothing but observe what its spontaneous changes are. Note all these changes and eventually step into the picture yourself, and if it is a speaking figure at all then say what you have to say to that figure and listen to what he or she has to say.

- Step into the picture with your ordinary human reactions and emotions

- You choose a dream, or some other fantasy-image, and concentrate on it by simply catching hold of it and looking at it. You can also use a bad good as a starting-point, and then try to find out what sort of fantasy-image it will produce, or what image expresses this mood. The alterations must be carefully noted down all the time, for they reflect the psychic processes in the unconscious background.

- Don't let anything from outside, that does not belong, get into it, for the fantasy-image has everything it needs

- If you recognize your own involvement you yourself must enter into the process with your personal reactions, just as if you were one of the fantasy figures, or rather, as if the drama being enacted before your eyes were real. […] If you place yourself in the drama as you really are, not only does it gain in actuality but you also create, by your criticism of the fantasy an effective counterbalance to its tendency to get out of hand. For what is now happening is the decisive rapprochement with the unconscious. This is where insight, the unio mentalis, begins to become real. What you are now creating is the beginning of individuation, whose immediate goal is the experience and production of the symbol of totality.