Author Topic: Cranky Thoughts on Mandalas  (Read 2494 times)

Matt Koeske

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Cranky Thoughts on Mandalas
« on: December 03, 2013, 10:06:24 AM »
Pre-apologies for the crankiness below.  I feel in reading over this post that it is not a wholly accurate portrayal of my perspective on mandalas or other active imaginings.  I outline mostly the negatives I see.

In fact, I feel the creation of mandalas and other "channeled" art works and items of creative expression can be very useful and fascinating and I would recommend and encourage this kind of expression in anyone so inclined (but never prescribe it to anyone not inclined).

My grousing below is mostly directed at Jung himself and his studies on mandala symbolism ("The self", "A study in the process of individuation", & "Concerning mandala symbolism", Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 9; and "Individual dream symbolism in relation to the alchemy: a study of the unconscious processes at work in dreams", Collected works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 12).  I hope others will provide alternate and balancing perspectives.




Mandalas are certainly fascinating, and I agree with Jung that they are among the creative expressions of self-organization that can be useful to experiments with self-reflection and analysis.  I am on the fence, though, about the Jungian attempts (mostly Jung's own) to "measure" individuation or any development and transformation of the personality through interpretations of mandala progressions.  My general feeling is that all individuation narratives are relative and personal, despite sharing universal symbols, and that one person’s narrative can’t be measured against another’s.  Individuation narratives are like bits of a fractal pattern where all parts, however magnified resemble all other parts, and every part resembles the whole.  I have come to largely oppose systems of attainment, transcendence, and enlightenment . . . but I value the individuation narratives I and others experience.  These narratives are worth living and developing.  They are expressions of dynamic self-organtization and complex life in action, not reasons that one person is “better” or more advanced in some ways than another.  They have nothing to do with ultimate personal worth, but are arbitrary and creative ways of engaging with the process of being.

I also have to admit to having a bias toward dream work as the best tool of relationship between ego and autonomous psyche.  That bias holds that dream work is the "most honest" method because the conscious mind has the least influence over the "texts" (i.e., dreams).

All the active imaginations and creative/artistic works that express ego/psychic Other relationships are subject to a higher margin of error because consciousness can unintentionally manipulate the text in ways that may marginalize and even silence the Other.  I say this as one who is primarily an artist and very familiar with the act of creation and what is involved.  As such an artist, I have had to be more aware of how the conscious mind influences and nudges (or even drags) the autonomous dynamics of a forming text in a direction that is more familiar and often self-gratifying (for the ego).  My own years as a poet were defined by a sense of poetics that examined this struggle between self and Other in the creative act . . . and that sought the Other in a genuine form (only to find a great deal of intrusion and obstruction from the small-s self).

By "only to find", I don't me that is all that I found.  I believe my poetry did become a bridge and dynamic relationship with the Other for me in many ways.  But the work involved in this was immense, and it required me to become an analyst of my own psychic process and organization.  It may be impossible to be a poet and an analyst simultaneously.  Or, if not impossible, at least not terribly interesting to the average contemporary poetry reader (an audience composed almost entirely of other poets and aspiring poets who have a strong investment in NOT self-anaylzing their poetics and artistic identity in too dangerous a way).  So I moved more into the analytic end and its more psycho-philosophical prose matrix.

I am presenting some casual reflections on the Jungian use of mandalas here . . . not a theory.  My casual and intuitive (and partly experience-based) approach really amounts to questions I feel are not (for me) adequately answered in Jungianism.  For instance, I have not seen evidence that one can evaluate the "level of individuation" of an individual by looking at the mandalas they have drawn.  I have seen that done either unconvincingly or erroneously by Jungians, and I'm now initially skeptical of any such effort.

My main concern is that mandalas are too abstract a representation of the personality.  They are not quite narrative or dynamic enough to reflect identity, which I have come to see as a narrative, dynamic, and very complex process.

I also suspect that mandalas do a better job of representing what the individual is focusing on consciously than what the state of the Self might be.  Yes, unintended things sneak through, and a good "mandalist" (in my opinion) is one who can welcome those things even when they are foreign, frightening, or unwanted.  But the very idea that one can peer into the organization of the Self strikes me as suspect.  There is no secret window to the Other.  Assessing its "desires" and needs is a relational rather than an analytical/observational exercise.  We don't see how it "is", we see (with a great deal of practiced introspection) how it "reacts" to this or that ego position.

There is also a danger of a false and inflated sense of attainment in trying to measure individuation through mandala progressions.  That is, we can look at a mandala progression that moves from a less organized or perhaps more "stuck" state to a more organized and "alive" state with a more absolutist bent and say that the mandalist has "attained" a higher state of consciousness, a state of consciousness that is "higher" across individuals. 

Some mandalas are extremely elaborate and filled with symbols of attainment or progress, but I haven't seen any evidence that these elaborate mandalals correspond to some kind of truly more advanced consciousness.  Discovering the greater and deeper complexity of the Self is a pretty universal experience.  It doesn't mean, though, that any individual who discovers a bit of how great and deep this complexity is is somehow "more enlightened" than anyone else.  That complexity is universal.  It is the complexity of a complex, dynamic, self-organizing system like the psyche/brain in general.

A fairly skilled graphic artist like Jung can make a fairly elaborate mandala that looks very complex and "advanced", and he can dump his vast knowledge of symbols and religious/philosophical ideas into these art works.  But many people simply can't draw or paint well enough to take full advantage of what mandalas can express.  Just as some people can write poems or make films or music, etc. in a way that expresses something profound within themselves while many others cannot (or can do it in one genre but not another).

I do not at all mean to dismiss mandalas or their psychological study.  They are entirely valid psychic phenomena that can prove extremely useful to any analyst (or self-analyst).  I merely become skeptical and somewhat resistant to the areas in which Jungianism blunders into "attainment" and enlightenment.  There is, in my opinion, more disease there than profound insight.  Jungians need to be more vigilant about inflation than they have been.  They tend to see it only in others (even other Jungians) but never in themselves.

The Jungian identity is easily tempted by attainment systems and symbols, and has managed to maintain this attraction and obsession without demonstrating any signs of functional and practical progress or special insight into either culture or psyche.  Of course, the "proper" and Jungian-sanctioned approach to mandalas would not champion delusional inflation, but there are some flaws in Jungian mandala theories that have been under-examined by at least classical Jungians.

I am presenting the "devil's advocate" side of this, but it would seem to skew my overall perspective.  I also find mandalas fascinating and aesthetically appealing and well worth studying from a Jungian or other psychological perspective.  There are many expressions of identity and its organizational struggles that help formulate a narrative of selfhood and should be valuated by an analyst or self-analyst.

But for me, I have a pragmatic orientation overall.  The proof is in the pudding.  Do the (often inflated) expressions of an individuant's psychic material actually indicate a more advanced or exalted level of consciousness, a greater depth, or a superior insight?  In my experience, no.  These expressions are typical trappings of the individuation process.  They are expressions of value projected onto abstract and arbitrary personal or psychic goals.  It is very easy for anyone caught up in an individuation event to believe in the superficial trappings or to take the projected valuation for an inherent and absolute value in the thing itself.

But individuation is a process characterized by the depotentiation of goals as much as by the valuation of them.  Our arbitrary goals draw us magnetically toward a certain point or threshold or crossroads, but then these things have to be discarded, the narrative has to change or be rewritten.  There is no promised land of ultimate individuation, there are only more roads to choose and explore, more intersections.  And the more we pursue these, the more we come to see individuation as an accruing master-narrative less defined by its goals than by its dynamic self-organization.  Looked at from a particular angle, these roads go nowhere final, and individuation is a "useless science".  But when we can zoom out and take a macro perspective, we can see a complex, nonlinear pattern forming . . . one that is not about "where to go" but about "where I've been" and what I have become because of it, because of my choices and pursuits and relationships.  We might also begin to learn where we can still go or maybe how we might try to get there.

In other words, lying behind every mandalas expressing a kind of ultimate attainment is another expressing a new and as-yet-unformed beginning, even a chaos or "Nigredo" or blackening.  This is because complex dynamic systems are never finished.  Rather, they are alive.  In my experience, where any attainment promises stasis, it is probably a lie.  The only stases are deaths (both figurative and actual).  What becomes static dies.  The living Self in its myriad forms moves on.
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matswin

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Re: Cranky Thoughts on Mandalas
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2013, 09:21:26 AM »
I concur. If Jung says that the quaternity is superior to the trinity, denoting a higher level of self, guess what kind of mandala a Jungian will draw: a threefold or a fourfold symmetry? So the very notion that the mandala is a map of the psyche will cancel out any attempts to create a mandala that represents an individual map of the psyche. The notion of attainment and progress through stages along a path of individuation, derives from Neoplatonism and the antique mystery cults, such as the Mithras cult. It involves initiations into yet greater and greater 'gnosis', that is, insights into the spiritual mysteries. This principle is also practiced in freemasonry, which foremostly attracts people lacking the capacity for individual self-fulfillment. In this way, they can play at personal growth, thus evading the cumbersome and lonely path of listening to the unconscious, which would lead to true maturity by the attainment of a higher level of consciousness. Of course, the advancement theme is ludicrous. There is no sign that a freemason, having advanced to the "higher levels", has attained a greater level of humaneness and insight. It is merely an evasion. Nevertheless, it has a therapeutic effect, like all religion, as the individual has something to strive after and may attain a high social stature among his peers.  But he could equally well join a chess club and advance through the grades there.

Likewise, a Jungian patient who successively produces yet more advanced mandala paintings, has merely achieved a higher level in fantasy. It is building castles in the air. To become absorbed in mandala painting is essentially the same as becoming absorbed in artistic painting or the playing of board games. It is not an esoteric practice with pronounced effects on peronality, nor will it have a synchronistic impact. Of course, Jung's anima compensated Jung's standpoint, saying that "those mandalas you draw are art" (cf. Jung's autobiography).

In fact, the mandala represents the temenos, that is, it symbolizes the "little world". In so far as mandala painting (or normal painting) leads to a better comprehension of the symbol, it is wholesome. It allows personality to seek refuge in the little world during a time of incubation. But it is neither a map of the cosmos nor a map of the self. Such an overblown notion impedes our longing to dwell in the little world, which is modest and unassuming, remote from the grand notions of Self, Completeness and Advancement. During incubation we listen to the faint energies that shine "like a fish's eye" at the "desiccation of the sea" (Ripley). The mandala symbolizes the time of dwelling in the little inconspicuous world, remote from notions of advancement of any kind. In this condition, one can paint in colour or in words, the result of which is completely unassuming and which does not coincide with any Jungian tenets nor any artistic ideals. The "smallest of sparks" that are being gathered, is the spirit proper.

The act of playing a board game has a similar symbolic quality. In my own dreams, it is the most notorious of all the repetitive patterns. It signifies the conscious focusing on the little world. It implies forgetting about the rest of the world, including the conscious preoccupations, such as the Jungian concepts. We enter the temenos and thrive there, fully contented with the small energies in the desiccated little world. Arguably, this is why people have always depicted mandalas and also why they have become obsessed with board games and sports generally. Board game patterns appear everywhere, especially in sacred shrines (see my article, The Boardgame Mandala, here). To paint a mandala is essentially the same as playing a board game. The depiction of mandala patterns follows historically from man's obsession with board games. Crete is littered with Mancala patterns carved into the rock. At the ancient site of Ephesus there is an abundance of roman wheel patterns depicted everywhere, also on vertical surfaces. This is a typical example:



But these are actually board games of the "Bear game" type, although they have tended towards simplification. Reputedly, this bear game is still played in Sologne, France:



The following game is known among elderly people in Italy. It is found among among rock carvings in Piemonte, Italy:



I have actually created a program that plays these bear games, here. The conclusion is that mandalas are board games, that is, they depict little arenas on which we focus our attention. They signify the  temenos, that is, the little inconspicious refuge from the world. That explains why people have always seen them as wholesome, and why they have depicted them everywhere. In case of sickness or sorrow, you typically visited a temenos or a sacred grove, as a token of introversion and withdrawal into yourself. There is no evidence that the mandala portrays the architecture of the psyche or that it denotes the totality of psychic life. In fact, I think it symbolizes the escape from life's encumbrance; a loophole into another world, as it were. To Jung, it symbolizes the encompassment of life's phenomena in toto, including the forging of them into a wholeness. But the mandala really means escape from our conscious obsessions. I think this was also its function during Jung's own crisis, regardless of his conscious misconception. While painting a mandala or a regular painting, concentrate on painting absolutely anything which keeps you focused on the little world. One should completely disregard the psychological or the artistic qualities of the result, which is not interpretable in Jungian terms or in art historian terms. Such over-interpretation destroys the wholesome effect of the mandala and takes away the lust to paint them.

Mats Winther

Matt Koeske

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Re: Cranky Thoughts on Mandalas
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2013, 10:14:19 AM »
Interesting thoughts, Mats.  I haven't spent the amount of time on this subject that you have, and I don't really have a theory regarding mandalas, per se.  I have mixed feelings about the Jungian use of art therapies and active imagination.  But I identify as an artist primarily, and a serious artist's relationship with his or her creativity and inspiration is much more complex than the Jungian art therapy models allows.

For an artist, I think artistic expression can at times function as a kind of "spiritual discipline".  The artist's work can be a vessel for many of the things Jungians reserve for the analyst's office . . . as well as for other transformations of personality that spirituality and meditative inner studies focus on.  That's not to say that artists aren't equally subject to self-deception as psychotherapy patients and "enlightenment seekers" are.  I have long felt, though, that the kinds of amateur creativity Jungian analysis has always encouraged suffer for lack of a certain level of discipline or outer purpose.  They lack consequence . . . and I've found that the more pivotal psychological/spiritual issues require vessels of consequence that intersect with the gravity of the "real world".

Still, I think art therapies are generally worth encouraging.  They are not in themselves harmful or delusional, and they can be extremely useful.  In my opinion, these things make useful tools for self-analysis (or analysis by a professional).  They can narrativize complexes, allowing for greater clarity and insight into the creator.  They are less likely to be "curative" or offer solutions to problems.

What many Jungians (and other spiritual seekers) have demonstrated, though, is that these practices can fairly easily be used as delusional indulgences.  And Jungianism has no readymade tools for differentiating the functional from the dysfunctional uses of these creative expressions and fantasies.  Jungianism also has a weakness for divinations that I find dysfunctional.  And art therapies can easily be used for that purpose where the creator is predisposed to value divination.

In general, I am suspicious of the Jungian push away from psychology and toward spiritualism . . . the way it so often looks for spiritual/mystical/supernatural explanations for things rather than more mundane psychological ones.  That Jung and Jungians are interested in things spiritual doesn't in itself bother or alienate me, but I take issue with devaluing psychological explanations and the function of psychology itself while simultaneously claiming psychological credibility.  Is it analytical psychology or analytical spiritualism?

I see it as an exercise in bad faith for Jungians to claim to be "psychologists" while ultimately preferring spiritual explanations for what can be more reasonably/less fantastically explained psychologically.  There is a misuse of Occam's Razor in Jungian thought that derives from a spiritual hunger, a hunger to transcend the natural.  That kind of spiritual hunger is potentially dangerous and volatile.  Many Jungians blindly treat it as a good in itself, and this particular blindness and ambition is the root of so many Jungian errors and complexes.  As far as I have been able to discern, this whole issue is not even really addressed by the Jungian community. 

It's not that spiritual hunger and inflation are not recognized by Jungians, but when they are, they are only recognized in others.  Jungians are not asking: "How does my spiritual ambition delude me?"  Sometimes it seems to me that they persist as they do because they have a very simplistic (and very "Catholic") concept of spirituality as faith or belief rather than as practice or obligation to others.  That is, they can be less serious about or personally responsible for their spirituality in a way that allows them to skip out much of the time on the problems of spiritual ambition.  Spiritual ambition and discipline always move toward self-reflection or self-reckoning.  The spiritually disciplined person can't survive on faith alone and must eventually be confronted with the validity of her/his construction of God/Other.  Is that construction wholly objective and valid or is it (in part or in all) a self-gratifying fantasy or projection?

Any serious spiritual discipline must arrive at this debate and treat it with enormous gravity.  Because eventually, the only thing that stands between the individual and the God (the object of desire, love, devotion, etc.) is the individual.  The spiritual quest, if it ever had any validity, is a quest to know and relate functionally to the Other.  If, as a spiritually disciplined individual, I have manufactured my God or projected my personal fantasies and wish fulfillments onto it, then I have entirely failed in my spiritual discipline, in my love and devotion for the Other.

And that is what must be defended against . . . what so much spirituality defends against: how much "me" is in my construction of God/Other.  I used to refer to this as the "self-deification taboo” (i.e., recognition of our self-deification is defended rigorously by a taboo . . . and the Christ myth is the quintessential story of this).  To know and to believe become at odds with one another.  This is one of the components in my turn to atheism.  I didn't want to colonize the Other with my stray projections of selfhood.  I felt I had to choose between the Other and my selfish spiritual desires.  I sacrificed my spiritual desires and ideas . . . and with them, all of the “familiar certainty" about the Other that spiritual belief and languaging systems afford us. 

Because to be a good believer is to believe in a God/Other that encourages good believers.  We want to be reflected back positively for our faith and devotion.  But in that common scenario, "God" is really working for us, working to preserve and promote a particular self-image.  That allows us, in either small or large ways (depending on the individual) to do harmful things or hold harmful beliefs with "God's approval".  I didn't want God or Self to work for me . . . and to allow that, I had to give up the fantasy of my status as one of the faithful (let alone "the most faithful").

That was all a process I was deeply entangled in back when I was gorging myself on Jung in my early twenties.  But these were opposing movements, and that took years to work out in a more or less manageable fashion.  My Jungianism, despite its other benefits, was an afflicting disease that complicated and problematized my "spirituality".  I find the Jungian spiritual system to be broken . . . the Jungian psychological system significantly less so.

Much of this assessment has to do with the fact that a psychological system can be revised based on further data collection and (re)analysis, but a spiritual system must be either right or wrong, as it deals in Truths.

This is all pretty far afield from mandalas, but that is my personal background on mandalas and Jungianism.  That's the root of my personal crankiness.  I guess I’m just getting in the Christmas spirit with the holiday approaching ;).
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matswin

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Re: Cranky Thoughts on Mandalas
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2013, 05:58:20 AM »
I am equally disheartened as you by the course away from psychology into what I identify as New Age spirituality. It is indeed "spiritual hunger" that drives this. But I am here advocating an alternative spirituality of a kind that Jung dismissed in theory, although he was practically involved with it. I do not concur with your notion that (a patient's) artwork needs to "intersect with the gravity of the real world" and that it must revolve around his/hers inner complexes. But you are correct that, if it in fact does, then it should be interpreted properly and land on a personal level. It is the question of strengthening consciousness and integrating the shadow, acquiring wisdom. But after this has been achieved, one cannot go on forever integrating the unconscious. The integration of the anima translates to a withdrawal of one's projections of longing on the outer world and the "Platonic otherworld". But the latter step never occurs if one keeps mythologizing the unconscious. 

The Jungian method of interpretation has given rise to a degenerate form that follows the formula of the school of Archetypal Psychology. Von Franz criticizes this method and says that the interpreter goes around in circles by way of contextualization. More specifically, she mentions that Mircea Eliade endlessly and somewhat arbitrarily associates a symbol with another symbol. One can always take an oblong object, for instance, and associate it with the phallus, and then with the tree trunk, and then on to the mother archetype, etc.; a process that leads on and on to yet more mythological associations. But the interpretation never lands in a personal understanding relevant to the patient or the artist himself.

By way of the mythologization of the unconscious symbol it stays on a nebulous collective level. The method only degrades understanding, making the subject even more unconscious. It is akin to a cultic theological practice on lines of New Age. What's worse, the dreamer/artist risks projecting his/hers conscious preconceptions on the content, since there is ample opportunity for this in the unearthed mythological material. It will always be possible to find some verification of one's conscious preconceptions. In the end, something will seem to fit.

What lies behind this current of mythologization and over-interpretation is a personal problem of Jung's, which has propagated and grown to a strong gale. Jung was very ambivalent about art. Concerning modern art, he says in a letter to Esther Harding, "I am only prejudiced against all forms of modern art. It is mostly morbid and evil on top [of that]". On the other hand, he could give traditional art a hugely unrealistic evaluation: "Art represents the process of self-regulation in the life of nations and epochs". He evaluated the artistic work as a "primordial experience". "[The artist] has plunged into the healing and redeeming depths of the collective psyche" ('On the relation of anal. ps. to poetry').

To put it frankly, the above is balderdash, which makes it evident that he is torn between the opposites. He never arrived at an objective evaluation of art since he suffered from an "art complex". Jungian analyst Sylvester Wojtkowski sheds light on this, here. Nevertheless, Jung himself had a thoroughgoing experience of the true spirit of art, which is the incubation in the temenos, that is, the little paradise, void of ambition. He was drawn to play "childish games". He built a miniature stone village with a castle and a church (Memories, Dreams...). But he kept psychologizing these recurrent experiences as "discovering his own myth" and as "confrontations with the unconscious as a scientific experiment". He always viewed artistic creations as "symbolical pictures" revealing the architecture of the psyche. Thus, he refused to give ground to a trinitarian intepretation of works of art, mandalas, and the laboratory work of the alchemists.

Jung had a beef with the trinitarian standpoint, that is, the notion of standing aside from all our material and conceptual obsessions. Jung said that one must always be morally or intellectually involved. Arguably, that's why he rejected modern art, which represents arts for its own sake and not for portraying some supramundane principle. Matisse said that, from "Le bonheur de vivre" (1905-6), he always kept painting the same picture: 







Matisse had found the temenos and he kept repeating this very motif. He felt disappointed when people, much like Jung, could not understand. He used to ask visitors to his studio whether they had noticed the violet thistles that grew by the wayside. Of course, they had not.

Picasso had his own way of expressing the very same trinitarian mystery. The following picture is a mandala expressing the condition of aridity inside the temenos, but where there still exists a life-source. We can feel this, because his paintings have a strange power, a different energy than the grand powers that Jung was obsessed with. Below image expresses a little but sublime power, which one can feed on. It is the little sun inside the egg.   



It is remarkable that Jung could not connect this with alchemy, although he wrote about the alchemical vessel as an "egg" in which resides the "prima materia", that is, the most commonplace and trivial matter.

Mats Winther





Sealchan

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Re: Cranky Thoughts on Mandalas
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2013, 03:44:05 PM »
I find that in reading Jung and Jungian works there is little attention paid to the reductionist/instinctual aspects of the interpretation of art and dreams.  It is very much as if all Jungians had picked up an aversion to Freud's emphasis on this even though, like me, I have only heard about Freud's views and not read much of his work. 

The result for me has been to miss out on the obvious instinctual motivation (the need for sex perhaps behind the image of the phallus) which itself is greatly meaningful because it so grounds us in our universally, physical nature.  The little dream work I do now I greatly emphasize the events of the dreamer's day before the dream as one of the primary sources of meaning for the dream. 

I'm currently reading Neumann's "The Great Mother" which exemplifies both the value and the seemingly unhelpful vastness of a single archetypal image's range of associations.  At some point the intuitive function's ability to perceive similarities between unlike things simply overpowers our sense of reality and the sensation function's focus on the sensory stimuli and other logistical facts of the environment. 

For spiritual transformation I agree that there must be some practical bite, some real world motivation, to drive progress because the psychic powers that are aligned to the less adaptive way of satisfying the instincts requires that kind of leverage to make changes. It also requires that kind of mirror.  I believe that much of what is branded as spiritual is a product of the intuitive function and so the sensory, manifest world needs to intervene as a balance and as an objective check on an over-active intuition.

My inferior function sensation, often leaves me both motivated and spell-bound by the pretties of the phenominal world whether it be Celtic illuminated art, or the beauty and the vastness of the natural world (e.g. the Grand Canyon) or a good buffet dinner restaurant!  But if I pursue, without edification, these beauties too much I begin to suffer from an addict's withdrawl and I find it harder and harder to achieve satisfaction through immersion in them.  That's because too often the preferred functions want to step in and harness that fascination and engagement by their own rules.  The deeper need is missed and the balance of the personality re-lost even as I have convinced myself I am feeding that need.

In the same way, I suspect the New Age mentality often looses its positive effect on an individual's inferior function because the individual can simply move on to another pretty system and loose themselves all over again without pushing through the practical accomplishment of real, instinctual adaptation.  The New Age offers many a systematic, spiritual theory that gives the adept his or her initial good feeling only to be lost when actual transformation fails to occur.  As long as the theory is new and "deeper" than one knows, one can be contained within it...for a time.  But once you begin to see beyond it, or, perhaps, the fix doesn't work so well, you will need to find another spiritual substitute, never, perhaps, finding the true satisfaction (a deeper understanding or resolution to an inner conflict) you were looking for.

But this sort of work is just hard!  There are no roadmaps, perhaps, but the one you create as you go.  And then to whom else will they predictably apply?  The real work is gaining an objective perspective on yourself and we are all moving targets and a dynamic product of all that we experience in some great complex multi-systemic web.