#7 The Encircling

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In the never-ending search for understanding, the sometimes labyrinthine pattern of traditional Eastern Art has direct links with the modern mind-seeking science of psychiatry.

Psychiatry, which is essentially a 20th century discipline, sees a basic darkness within human beings, with which the individual ego is in conflict.

Carl Gustav Jung has described this as "the battle for deliverance".

This conflict must be won for the emerging ego to overcome the inertia of the unconscious mind and so enable the individual to achieve full consciousness and maturity.

Although the concept as expressed in these words is a modern one, the basic problem has been understood since prehistoric times.

Primitive Man's struggle to achieve consciousness is symbolized in myths and legends, in the battles between archetypal heroes and monsters personifying cosmic powers of evil.

In this Japanese woodcut (a 19th century print on a traditional theme), the god Susanoo routs a serpent in an epic battle.

The mythological heroes did not always win.

Sometimes (as with Jonah and the whale) the hero is temporarily engulfed by darkness -- but prevails in the end.

Precept: One can learn and gain strength from the vary darkness one must overcome.

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