As many of you have learned from my earlier posts on the awesome book of Robert A. Johnson “Understanding the psychology of Romantic Love” (here and here), romantic love however attractive and delightful it may occur, brings more destruction than happiness. Romantic love being the single greatest energy system in the Western psyche, is a tremendous power that attracts. If we can learn how to use it in a constructive, not a destructive way… may be the make up of the modern Western society can change for the better!
Let’s see the Johnson’s implications on the channeling of romantic love, please enjoy the way the author is unfolding it, so beautifully and truly:
Romantic love is a spiritual power
“Romantic love is one of these truly overwhelming psychological phenomena that have appeared in Western history. It has overwhelmed our collective psyche and permanently altered our view of the world. As a society, we have not yet learned to handle the tremendous power of romantic love. We turn it into tragedy and alienation more often than into enduring human relationships. But, I believe, if men and women will understand the psychological dynamics behind romantic love and learn to handle them consciously, they will find a new possibility of relationship, both to themselves and to others.
When we “fall in love” we feel completed, as though a missing part of ourselves has been returened to us; we feel uplifted, as though we were suddenly raised above the level of the ordinary world. Life has an intensity, a glory, an ecstasy and transcendence.
We seek in romantic love to be possessed by our love, to soar to the heights, to find ultimate meaning and fulfillment in our beloved. We seek the feeling of wholeness.
If we ask where else we have looked for these things, there is an answer: religious (spiritual) experience. When we look for something greater than our egos, when we seek a vision of perfection, a sense of inner wholeness and unity, when we strive to rise above the smallness and partialneess of personal life to something extraordinary and limitless, there is spiritual aspiration. Here we are confronted with a paradox that baffles us, yet we should not be surprised to discover that romantic love is conncected with our religious instinct – for we already know that courtly love, as its very beginning so many centuries ago, a way of loving that spiritualized a knight and his lady, and raised them above the ordinary and the gross to an experience of another world, an experience of soul and spirit.
Carl Jung discovered that each person’s psychological structure includes an independent “religious” function. This does not mean there is a need necessarily to follow a particular creed or dogma. But it means that each human being comes with an inborn psychological urge to find meaning in life. Jung saw that most Westerners, although they consciously only believe in what is physical and rational, have dreams and fantasies overwhelming with symbols of those very qualities that people used to seek in their religious life: symbols evoking a sense of wholeness and a vision of a world larger than the ego.
Why we look for Divinity in each other
We only need to look at the love stories, the poetry, the songs that came from the romantic era, and we find that man-in-love has made of woman a symbol of something universal, something inward, eternal, and transcendent. He sees a special reality revealed in her; he feels completed, ennobled, refined, spiritualized, uplifted, transformed into a new, better, and whole man. The great romantic poets do not hide this fact; they proclaim it. Why is it that modern men won’t admit what earlier men openly proclaimed and even idealized? It is because we won’t consciously give a place to spiritual aspiration in our modern lives. We aren’t consciously interested in wholeness – only in production, control, and power; we don’t believe in the spirit – only in what is physical and sexual.
When a man’s projections on a woman unexpectedly evaporate, he will often announce that he is “disenchanted” with her; he is disspointed that she is a human being rather than the embodiment of his fantasy, He acts as though she had done something wrong… Our culture trains women that their role is not to be human being but to be mirrors who reflect back to a man his ideal or his fantasy. She must struggle to resemble the current Hollywood starlets; she must dress and groom herself and behave in such a ways as to make herself into the collective image of anima (soul). She must not be an individual so much as the incarnation of men’s fantasy. Many women are so accustomed to this role that they resist any change in the arrangement. They want to go on playing the goddess to a man rather than be a mortal woman: There is something appealing about being worshiped and adored as a divinity.
It is a momentous discovery that we have taken our instinct for wholeness and project it completely into our loves. We have taken the imago dei out of the temple, out of heaven, and suddenly relocated it here in our midst, contained in the relationship between two human beings. This is why men and women put such impossible demands on each other in their relationships: We actually believe unconsciously that this mortal human being has the responsibility for making our lives whole, keeping us happy, making our lives meaningful, intense, and ecstatic!
OK, it is a spiritual power. Then how to live that?
One of the great needs of modern people is to learn the difference between human love as a basis for relationship, and romantic love as an inner idea, a path to the inner world… One may follow this path by traditional religious practice, by meditation, by yoga, or by Jung’s active imagination. But it requires an inner practice, an affirmative soul-life, actually lived day by day.”
(image by me)