Self-cultivation, individuation, and the mind-body problem

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Self-cultivation, individuation, and the mind-body problem

Mark F. Rossbach

Quote:If the fundamental layer of reality is understood to dissolve the seeming metaphysical differences between mind and matter, psyche and soul, then bodily practice becomes a direct means for psychological and spiritual development. Such development, in turn, conveys the direct experience of the unity between mind and matter, psyche and body, self and world. This is the central point of this short essay by anthropologist, Jungian analyst, and martial artist Mark Rossbach.

Quote:The Japanese notion of Shugyo is a perfect expression of the way practice is understood as a means of achieving a lived experience of more fundamental layers of reality. At first, the concept was used to refer only to religious Buddhist ascetic practices, but with time it spread more widely thru Japanese culture, as religious thought itself permeated different layers of society.

Yuasa Yasuo was a Japanese philosopher who translated Shugyo as ‘Self-cultivation.’ He analyzed the concept through different perspectives and associated it with paranormal phenomena and Eastern metaphysics. In Carl Gustav Jung’s Analytical Psychology, Yasuo found a way to bridge this concept with the West, for Jung had developed a theory of psychological functioning that not only allowed a psychological interpretation of Eastern practices, but also understood that psychotherapy should offer a way for Western individuals to develop a symbolic understanding of life, recovering something that in essence is proposed by all religious thinking: a lived, individual experience of totality. This meaningful understanding of life is closely relatable to Eastern philosophies, as is pointed out by Yasuo, especially if we take the idea of Self-cultivation as a starting point.

But what does it mean to cultivate the Self?
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell



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