Are We Real?

Are We Real?

Painting by Bertil Norén (1889-1934)

. . . psychic existence is the only category of existence of which we have immediate knowledge, since nothing can be known unless it first appears as a psychic image. . . To the extent that the world does not assume the form of a psychic image, it is virtually non-existent (C.G. Jung, qtd. in Imagination Is Reality, by Robert Avens, page 34).

To hold that “we are not real” means that the reality of persons and every act of consciousness is a reflection of a fantasy-image: for they are the only actual existents that are not reducible to something other than their imagery; only they are as they literally appear; only fantasies are utterly, incontrovertibly real (James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology, pp 209).

I find myself thinking many times, especially in the past few years or so, that I am not really “real”, in the usual sense. I never thought about such things until I entered a period in my life of intense suffering. I’ll not go into great detail about that, but it was akin to a “dark night of the soul,” described by St. John of the Cross. It was a period of true crisis, a turning-point in my life.

After thirty years of trying to answer the question, Am I real?, I have come to the conclusion that I am only real insofar as I am an image, a metaphor. As an image, I am irreducible to anything else.

All that we usually think of as being real, in the empirical sense of course, was originally an image. The realm of matter, Malkuth in the Kabbalistic sense, has its origin in a more subtle mode of Being.

Everything I am and have been in my existence on this planet is a product of me as image.

Everything I know was first an image.

Everything I will be is here and now an image.

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