Our conscious self or ego is only a tiny pan of our totality, as is obvious when we consider how much of our memory or experience we can hold in mind at any one time.
The self, as defined by Jung, is both what we are consciously aware of, and the massive potential remaining unconscious.
The self has no known boundaries, for we do not yet know the end of what the mind is capable of, or what consciousness touches out of sight of waking.
The mass of experience and awareness which lies in the background of our waking awareness is like an inner guiding factor which, apart from expressing precise pieces in the form of remembered facts and events, guides us, if we listen, through intuition, feeling states, dreams or illumination. Its symbols are: a ring, a square area, a great tree, Christ, a shining being or animal, a talking animal, a strange stone or rock, symbols like the cross or mandala, a round table, God, a guru, an elephant, a crowned or shining snake. Here are some examples of the self in dreams.
Example: ‘1 am climbing a tree to get a stone. This stone has special powers that flower. I’m nearly there when I look down and notice that there aren’t any branches on the left side of the tree. This causes me to consider the possibility of falling and that in turn leads to a fear of climbing any higher. I wake with my heart beating strongly, but little feeling of fear.’ Example: 41 lopk into the third square, it was filled with an iridescent blue colour, shining and beautiful to look at, a beautiful substance. I felt it had to do with religion, but I couldn’t quite grasp it.1 Example: ‘I was in a small town with a group of men. We were standing in a small square praying. As I prayed I realised I could fly.’
Awareness of what the self holds is important. It contains what is our own personal wisdom and insight regarding life in general and particular. It is not full of creeds and dogmas and conflict as are organised attempts to express the spiritual. But it does have its dark side.
To grasp the stone with special powers, understand the significance of the iridescent blue square, or find real uplift in prayer as these dreams depict, we need a clear rational mind which allows intuition and feeling but is not relinquished or lost in the immensity of the self. Touching the vastness of our being we may feel ourself to be vast, all knowing, a guru. In this state, Jung says, a person loses all sense of humour and drops ordinary human contacts. Functionally what happens is that as a defence against meeting our pain and childhood trauma as we enter this vast storehouse of our being, as a way of escaping the self responsibility for our condition, one might fly off into feelings of loving all things, of knowing the mystery of it all, of being the Buddha.
The problem is that while it might be true we are in essence the Christ, or have wisdom, these realisations are distorted by the undealt-with childhood traumas and longings. See aura; mandala. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences