This is Post 9 in the ‘Meditation Guidance’ series. Summaries of the other articles in this series can be found here.
Having reflected on the insubstantiality of the egoic parts, I need, in this meditation blog series, to balance that understanding by at least touching on some other helpful concepts in regard to the tricky and paradoxical question of what it is to have, or be, or become, a ‘self’ – one that is perhaps more affirmative. The nature of the human self and the processes by which it develops, or fails to develop, have challenged Psychology since its inception, and challenged our philosophers and spiritual thinkers for very much longer. Donald Winnicott, an innovative British psychoanalyst and writer, who had a passionate interest in the subtle role that parents, and especially mothers, play in the evolution of a child’s sense of self, put it this way:
“Every man or woman who is sane, every man or woman who has the feeling of being a person in the world, and for whom the world means something, every happy person, is in infinite debt to a woman.”
Donald Winnicott, Psychoanalyst and Writer
The largely unrecognised value, of the complex and powerful way in which a mother provides a mirror for her child’s emerging self, and provides a ‘facilitating environment’ through the mother-child bond, was the subject of Winnicott’s life’s work. He was not alone among the psychoanalytic thinkers in this. Jung, as always in my view, went further, recognising that the mother is ultimately an archetypal figure, and that the personal mother constellates the archetypal power of the Mother archetype in her relationship with the child. Characteristically, Jung also recognised that the mother archetype has two sides – that it includes a dark side that may stand in the way of spiritual maturity.