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blog - Charles Stanford

Yellowing and the Stone: An Interview with Robert Bosnak

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What do you do when the revelation hits?
How can we carry our new insights to where they will produce action?

These are some of the vital questions at the heart of Robert Bosnak's new course, “Yellowing and the Stone,” offered over live web broadcast in 10 sessions beginning September 16th. This is a continuation of previous courses based on James Hillman's alchemical work, but Dr. Bosnak emphasizes that it is not necessary to have completed his previous alchemy courses to benefit from this one. “Alchemy uses a language of linearity,” he said, “but that's an illusion,” as is any sense of sequence in Alchemical Psychology. Indeed, the illusory sequence that appears in that book is ironic, since James Hillman questioned the metanarratives of telos and goal in alchemy. “Hillman is interested in the phenomena that happen along the way as you work with the images.”

Robert Bosnak will teach a new alchemy course starting September 16th.

“My purpose,” said Dr. Bosnak with a smile as he carefully chose the word, “is to make Hillman's ideas accessible to people in meaningful ways.” Hillman's work can be difficult to understand outside of its contexts. In a recent interview, we discussed the meaning of the Yellowing or Citrinitas alchemical phase and the Stone. Consistent with the nature of alchemy, it may be easy to jump to a conclusion (as I did) about the meaning of Yellowing as akin to establishing a habit, or getting in a groove. This would be the wrong conclusion. In a previous interview about “Silver and the White Earth” Dr. Bosnak stated, “If you have been stuck in a particular groove, get out of it! Part of the work is that you no longer feel groovy!”

There's a line from a(nother) Rush song: “I'm in a groove now, or is it a rut?” “Yes,” answers Dr. Bosnak: habitual consciousness is both.

An attentive reflection on life experiences shows us that dry intellectual abstractions lack the power to change us. “Imagination doesn't generalize,” says Dr. Bosnak, “it's specific.” And in the specific images, in their strangeness and difficulty lie the necessary energy to achieve the “escape velocity” to get us out of our grooves and ruts.

So we experience new insights or, we might say, revelations, a sudden flash of precious gold. Unfortunately, when someone has a sudden new insight or understanding they often want to take it and share it prematurely with the world, and this can result in either an ineffectual withering of the desired end or even a disastrous misapplication. This is an especially prominent phenomenon of our society now, mediated as heavily as it is by social media which encourages instantaneous sharing of even the most trivial thoughts and feelings. In such rampant premature multiplication, nothing really changes. “Plus it can make you into an unbearable character.”

When working with images, new insights and revelations may appear like a sudden flash of gold.

And what of our most cherished goals – why do we feel hollow when we have achieved what we thought we wanted the most? The purpose of the course is for people to bodily experience why these events are important in their life. Dr. Bosnak explains that one of Hillman's most important points is to take goals concretely but not literally. If you see that the goal (image) funnels the passion, but if you take it literally you set yourself up for disappointment when you get what you thought you wanted. The ultimate goal of alchemy is the Stone: everything moves toward it. But why does goal matter? The goal, the Stone, is the passion for the Ultimate Other, which is ever elusive. But what happens as you seek: this is what changes the soul.

“It's important to realize that you are being dreamed by a goal: what does that do to you?”

With the benefit of his 40 years' personal experience studying alchemical psychology on the shoulders of giants, Robert Bosnak seeks to guide you through these images to embody your own understandings, and to learn to carry your insights with you in order to shape your life. I expect most of us are familiar with these concepts intellectually. But how to fully realize this truth, to carry it with us and let it shape how we live our lives?

The Jung Society of Utah invites you to study "Yellowing and the Stone" with Robert Bosnak and find out. Enroll here for this fascinating course.

 

~Charles Stanford
Archivist, author, musician
Staff Writer – Jung Society of Utah
Etsy shop: Only Real Quills

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