As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve started a literature search to try to uncover information to help me understand some of my experiences while practicing Jung’s Active Imagination. I’ve documented some of the experiences here:
These experiences were so vivid that I came to believe that I had made contact with another world and at times some of its inhabitants. While searching among some of the books on Jungian psychology and Active Imagination, I came across the works of Henry Corbin, who I had read some about before, but since it seemed that his writings were peripheral to my central effort, I never followed up on them. This time I ran across a book of his titled Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi, which sounds as if it might offer some insight into my experiences. The book is extremely difficult reading; however, it also does seemingly to address the subject I’m researching. Here is a quote that first struck me:
We shall be speaking of an absolutely basic function, correlated with a universe peculiar to it, a universe endowed with a perfectly “objective” existence and perceived precisely through the Imagination. [Corbin, page 3]
This is perhaps what I have been doing — contacting a world, or universe, accessible only through the imagination. Corbin goes on to say:
Today, with the help of phenomenology, we are able to examine the way in which man experiences his relationship to the world without reducing the objective data of this experience to data of sense perception or limiting the field of true and meaningful knowledge to the mere operations of the rational understanding. Freed from an old impasse, we have learned to register and to make use of the intentions implicit in all the acts of consciousness to transconsciousness. [Corbin, page 3]
So it seems that I’m in the right company. Corbin then defines more specifically how our world is formulated:
For them [the Spiritualists] the world is “objectively” and actually threefold: between the universe that can be apprehended by pure intellectual perception (the universe of the Cherubic Intelligences) and the universe perceptible to the senses, there is an intermediate world, the world of Idea-Images, of archetypal figures, of subtile substances, of “immaterial matter.” This world is as real and objective, as consistent and subsistent as the intelligible and sensible worlds; it is an intermediate universe “where the spiritual takes body and the body becomes spiritual,” a world consisting of real matter and real extension, though by comparison to sensible, corruptible matter these are subtle and immaterial. The organ of this universe is the active Imagination; it is the place of theophanic visions, the scene on which visionary events and symbolic histories appear in their true reality. [Corbin, page 3-4]
I believe by “the universe of the Cherubic Intelligences” Corbin means the Divine World. So what Corbin is talking about is an existence between our world, which we consider reality, and the Divine World. This in-between or “intermediate world” is possibly what I’ve been seeing during the short periods I’ve experienced the stark, vivid images. Being an engineer/scientist by education and profession for thirty years (although both simultaneously and separately a poet/author for forty years), I’m inclined to imagine this intermediate world to be composed of Dark Matter, the nature of which has been under investigation for decades. I then suppose Dark Energy to represent the Divine World. I would see Dark Energy as possibly being Psychic Energy or Psychic Space. Scientists estimate that the universe is composed of 4.9% ordinary matter, 26.8% Dark Matter, and 68.3% Dark Energy. But this is my own interpretation, and I stress that it is an interpretation and not a belief.
The book, of course, is about the teachings ofr the Muslin Sufi Ibn ‘Arabi. As are many westerners, particularly those raised Christian, I am suspicious of anything attached to Islam because of the violence that has been perpetuated on us by radical factions. Before the world became so polarized, or at least I became so aware of it, I was interested in the Sufis. However, I tend to seek out enlightenment regardless of its source, so I’m charging ahead with this book because of its association, at least in my mind, with Jung’s theories and my desire to learn more about the human experience.
It may also seem misplaced to speak of spirituality in a story of the Imagination. We shall try to show in what sense this Imagination is creative: because it is essentially the active Imagination and because its activity defines it essentially as a theophanic Imagination. It assumes an unparalleled function, so out of keeping with the inoffensive or pejorative view commonly taken of the “imagination,” that we might have preferred to designate this Imagination by a neologism and have occasionally employed the term Imaginatrix. [Corbin, page 6]
And then Henry Corbin gets more specific in his introduction to the subject of his book:
At the same time these “celestial Souls,” [Cherubim] exempt from sense perception and its deficiencies, possess Imagination; they are indeed Imagination in its pure state since they are freed from the infirmities of sense perception. They are par excellence the Angels of this intermediate world where prophetic inspiration and theophanic visions have their place; their world is the world of symbols and of symbolic knowledge… [Corbin, page 11]
This then is possibly some of what I have been experiencing. In particular, I’m thinking of the little white light that accompanies me almost without exception into Active Imagination and has from the beginning. (See Story Alchemy, page 11) The last time I viewed it, it appeared at times to have wings, so much so that I wondered if it was some manifestation of an angel.
Anyway, there I was in the middle of my research last night, and while reading Corbin, I started to wonder about all this new information relative to my own experience, and it just seemed to me that my experience was more important to me than anything I read in a book. Reading Corbin made me realize the importance of my own experience, that I was experiencing something significant, and that I should take the full spectrum of my experience into account and not try to use someone else’s experience as a guide for my own. Even Jung, although his writings have been immensely helpful, hasn’t always been right about me. I think I should concentrate on what is happening to me and continue experimenting with Active Imagination, if that is even what I should be calling it. I believe Corbin has verified my experience more than provided guidance. From this point forward, I should trust to my own experience, evaluate it, and develop a discipline based on it.
So that’s where I currently stand. I’m going to continue with my research into Active Imagination and what my psyche is telling me. I’ll post any further developments right here.