The Nature of the Psyche
You come into the condition you call life, and pass out of it. In between you encounter a lifetime. Suspended – or so it certainly seems – between birth and death, you wonder at the nature of your own being. You search your experience and study official histories of the past, hoping to find there clues as to the nature of your own reality.
Your life seems synonymous with your consciousness. Therefore, it appears that your knowledge of yourself grows gradually, as your self-consciousness develops from birth. It appears furthermore, that your consciousness will meet a death beyond which your self-consciousness will not survive. You may think longingly and with an almost hopeful nostalgia of the religion of your childhood, and remember a system of belief that ensured you of immortality. Yet most of you, my readers, yearn for some private and intimate assurances, and seek for some inner certainty that your own individuality is not curtly dismissed at death.
Each person knows intuitively that his or her own experiences somehow matter, and that there is a meaning, however obscured, that connect the individual with a greater creative pattern. Each person senses now and then a private purpose, and yet many are filled with frustration because that inner goal is not consciously known or clearly apprehended.
When you were a child you knew you were growing toward an adulthood. You were sustained by the belief of projected abilities – that is, you took it for granted that you were in the process of learning and growing. No matter what happened to you, you lived in a kind of rarified psychic air, in which your being was charged and glowing. You knew you were in a state of becoming. The world, in those terms, is also in a state of becoming.
In private life and on the world stage, action is occurring all the time. It is easy to look at yourselves or at the world, to see yourself and become so hypnotized by your present state that all change or growth seems impossible, or to see the world in the same manner.
You do not remember your birth, as a rule. Certainly it seems that you do not remember the birth of the world. You had a history, however, before your birth – even as it seems to you that the world had a history before you were born.
The sciences still keep secrets from each other. The physical sciences pretend that the centuries exist one after the other, while the physicists realize that time is not only relative to the perceiver, but all events are simultaneous. The archaeologists merrily continue to date the remains of “past” civilizations, never asking themselves what the past means – or saying: “This is the past relative to my point of perception”.
Astronomers speak of outer space and of galaxies that would dwarf your own. In the world that you recognize there are also wars and rumors of wars, prophets of destruction. Yet in spite of all, the private man or the private woman, unknown, anonymous to the world at large, stubbornly feels within a rousing, determined affirmation that says: “I am important. I have a purpose, even though I do not understand what it is. My life that seems so insignificant and inefficient, is nevertheless of prime importance in some way that I do not recognize”.
Though caught up in a life of seeming frustration, obsessed with family problems, uneasy in sickness, defeated it seems for all practical purposes, some portion of each individual rouses against all disasters, all discouragements, and now and then at least glimpses a sense of enduring validity that cannot be denied. It is to that knowing portion of each individual that I address myself.
I am not, on the one hand, an easy author to deal with, because I speak from a different level of consciousness than the one with which you are familiar. On the other hand, my voice is as natural as oak leaves blowing in the wind, for I speak from a level of awareness that is as native to your psyche as now the seasons seem to be to your soul.
I am writing this book through a personality known as Jane Roberts. That is the name given her at her birth. She shares with you the triumphs and travails of physical existence. Like you, she is presented with a life that seems to begin at her birth, and that is suspended from that point of emergence until the moment of death’s departure. She has asked the same questions that you ask in your quiet moments.
Her questions were asked with such a vehemence, however, that she broke through the barriers that most of you erect, and so began a journey that is undertaken for herself and for you also – for each of your experiences, however minute or seemingly insignificant, becomes part of the knowledge of your species. Where did you come from and where are you going? What are you? What is the nature of the psyche?
I can only write a portion of this book. You must complete it. For “The Psyche” is meaningless except as it relates to the individual psyche. I speak to you from levels of yourself that you have forgotten, and yet not forgotten. I speak to you through the printed page, and yet my words will re-arouse within you the voices that spoke to you in your childhood, and before your birth.
This will not be a dry treatise, studiously informing you about some hypothetical structure called the psyche, but will instead evoke from the depths of your being experiences that you have forgotten, and bring together from the vast reaches of time and space, the miraculous identity that is yourself.
Now: The earth has a structure. In those terms so does the psyche. You live in one particular area on the face of your planet, and you can only see so much of it at any given time – yet you take it for granted that the ocean exists even when you cannot feel its spray, or see the tides.
And even if you live in a desert, you take it on faith that there are indeed great cultivated fields and torrents of rain. It is true that some of your faith is based on knowledge. Others have traveled where you have not, and television provides you with images. Despite this, however, your senses present you with only a picture of your immediate environment, unless they are cultivated in certain particular manners that are relatively unusual.
You take it for granted that the earth has a history. In those terms, your own psyche has a history also. You have taught yourselves to look outward into physical reality, but the inward validity of your being cannot be found there – only its effects. You can turn on television and see a drama, but the inward mobility and experience of your psyche is mysteriously enfolded within all of those exterior gestures that allow you to turn on the television switch to begin with, and to make sense of the images presented. So the motion of your own psyche usually escapes you.
Where is the television drama before it appears on your channel – and where does it go afterwards? How can it exist one moment and be finished the next, and yet be replayed when the conditions are correct? If you understood the mechanics, you would know that the program obviously does not go anywhere. It simply is, while the proper conditions activate it for your attention. In the same way, you are alive whether or not you are playing on an earth “program”. You are, whether you are in time or out of it.
Hopefully in this book we will put you in touch with your own being as it exists outside of the context in which you are used to viewing it.
As you dwell in one particular city or town or village, you presently “live” in one small area of the psyche’s inner planet. You identify that area as your home, as your “I”. Mankind has learned to explore the physical environment, but has barely begun the greater inner journeys that will be embarked upon as the inner lands of the psyche are joyously and bravely explored. In those terms, there is a land of the psyche. However, this virgin territory is the heritage of each individual, and no domain is quite like any other. Yet there is indeed an inner commerce that occurs, and as the exterior continents rise from the inner structure of the earth, so the lands of the psyche emerge from an even greater invisible source.