The memory of an original sense of wholeness, which Jung named the archetype of the Self, lies in our deep mind. Out of this primordial ‘oneness’ or paradisal state, a separate ego-consciousness developed as an adaptation to life’s demands (which necessitates repression), anchoring us in the external world. This is the task of the first half of our lives.
The Self is the ego’s origin and source of energy, representing the god-image within the psyche. A strong ego or ego strength (not the same as egotistical) is necessary to function effectively in the world as well as to engage in the exploration of our personal and the collective unconsciousness, including shadow work. Jung saw the second half of our lives as a continuous return to the Self or what Edward Edinger called the Ego-Self Reunion, which lies at the heart the process of individuation.
The ego is the centre of the field of ordinary consciousness and constitutes our subjective sense of identity. It dictates a selective awareness which directs our attention and what is subsequently remembered. Ego organizes our thoughts, feelings and intuition, informing how we relate to the external world as well as to our own internal world. The ego is just one small part of the Self. The Self is the sum total of the whole psyche, the centre of the total personality with all its potential, including shadow and other unconscious processes or patterns.
The dialogue between ego and Self is pivotal in psychic development and a move towards wholeness. As such we learn to negotiate a balance between the conflicting demands of outer reality, and the internal world with its own inner conflicts.
Written for @jungsouthernafrica
Image Credit: The world soul by Robert Fludd
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