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it; but a human being can participate consciously in these events and even experience the feeling of being able to play a role in determining details through free decisions of will. This is the process of individuation in the true sense. There is also something else that happens with the human person that is not contained in the simile of the pine tree: the process of individuation is more than just a collaboration of the core of wholeness and the circumstances of fate. Experientially, it is as though something divine and creative intervenes in the life of the individual, and indeed in a personal and individual fashion. We have the feeling that something is watching us, something that we do not see—perhaps that “great man” in one’s heart, who communicates his intentions to us in dreams. In any case, this creative aspect can only develop if the ego frees itself from all thoughts of gain and achievement in order to get nearer to this truer and deeper being; it must give itself over, free of all purpose, to this inner need to grow. Actually, the philosophy of existentialism looks toward such a state, but it gets stuck in mere negation of the illusions of consciousness. The existentialist marches bravely right up to the doors of the unconscious and then does not open them! People who live in less uprooted circumstances than we understand better than we do that all utilitarian thoughts have to be given up in order to give the process of psychic growth room to occur. I once met an old woman who complained that she had not accomplished much in her “external” life; however, she had coped with a difficult marital situation and through this had developed into a mature person. I told her the following story of the Chinese sage Chuang-tse, and she felt consoled by it. A wandering carpenter named Stone saw during his travels a gigantic old oak tree standing in a field by a shrine to the earth. The carpenter said to his apprentice, who was admiring it: “That is a useless tree; if you tried to make a ship out of it, it would soon rot; if you tried to make tools out of it, they would soon break. . . . From that tree nothing can be made, it can be used for nothing; that is why it was able to reach such a great age.” But that night when the carpenter was in bed, the oak tree appeared to him in a dream and spoke: “Do you compare me to your cultivated trees, like the hawthorn, the pear, the orange, the apple, and the others that bear fruit and berries? They can hardly ripen their fruit, people mishandle and abuse them so! Their branches are broken off, their twigs are cut. Thus through

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

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