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Jung on Mandalas - balance
According to Jung, the powerful, generative center of our inner reality is the Self. This point of focus within us cannot be directly known. It remains outside of awareness, in the unconscious, and yet its pattern guides our psychological development throughout life. The Self is the true center of personality, but we are much more familiar with the ego, that which we know as "I." The ego seems to us to be of central importance because we can know it directly with our conscious mind.
Whether or not you are aware of the Self, it exerts a powerful influence on your life. The quality of your conscious existence your level of energy, your sense of harmony or confusion, and whether or not your life feels meaningful all are largely determined by the connection between ego and Self. When ego and Self are in harmony, much energy is freed for thinking, caring, and creating. When ego and Self are not closely connected, life can seem flat and boring. There is little energy available for accomplishing things in the outer world.
The Self exists from the beginning of life and guides the development of your ego. Your ego develops within the matrix of the Self and even after it separates from the Self when, as a child, you begin to speak of yourself as "I" your ego remains connected to the Self (Edinger, 1987). Throughout life the Self acts as a guarantor for your ego. When stress, inner conflicts, or expanding consciousness challenge your ego, the natural order of the Self comes forward and restores harmony.
Sometimes the Self instigates change when your ego is stuck in a pattern that is not in keeping with your true character. This can feel like a disaster to the ego that resists change. The intervention of the Self in your life can seem like the visitation of a higher power. Indeed, Jung considered the Self to be like the image of God within each of us. Just as Job struggled to submit to the harsh love of his God, so we may flounder when the divine works its ways through us in the directives of the Self.
During such times we feel compelled to create mandalas. Jung found that, "mandalas usually appear in situations of psychic confusion and perplexity" (Jung, 1973:vi). People who have little training in art suddenly find themselves drawing and painting mandalas because it just feels right to do so. Instinctively they turn to mandalas to contain their experience, to open themselves to the guidance of the Self, and to listen to the voice of God within.