Day 80 – One Teaching – Anima & Animus

Yin and yang include two parts of a whole and we discussed this symbol on Day 47.  Yang is said to be masculine and Yin is feminine.  In psychology, Carl Jung refers to these as anima and animus.  As humans, our psyche contains both masculine and feminine elements, but for each of us, one tends to exist in the unconscious.  For men, the anima is the unconscious image of the female and for women, the animus is the unconscious image of the male.  Jung refers to both anima and animus as archetypes that are part of our basic programming or belief system that we are born with.

The roles that men and women have historically played throughout civilization have been largely influenced by the collective unconscious archetypes of anima and animus.  As consciousness evolves, many of the unconscious beliefs held by the collective are being integrated into our consciousness and the result is a more open-minded society as it relates to gender roles.  We’ve seen this happening before our very eyes even in just the last few generations. 

Yin and yang, masculine and feminine, conscious and unconscious, could be looked at as dualities.  Left brain and right brain form another such pair.  The right brain is associated with intuition and creativity while the left brain is more quantitative and analytical.  In Penney Peirce’s book, Frequency, she notes that a man’s brain has fewer connecting fibers between left and right, while women have many fibers connecting the two.  This means that men are more likely to compartmentalize and separate left and right brain functioning.  This separation explains so much and is a driving factor in man’s natural tendency towards dualistic thinking.  Peirce says:

Men naturally understand the Divine through separation; their path is to be in the world and not of it.  Men’s self-realization is typically based on abstinence from physical ‘temptations,’ contemplation and study, structured ceremony, surrender of personal will to a teacher, and monastic isolation.”

Dudes, I don’t know about you, but this sounds quite familiar to me.  Is Peirce saying there is another way?  She elaborates that because of the stronger connection women have between hemispheres of the brain they have, “the ability to perceive in a both-and way in which separation from others and the world – even between thought, emotion, and spirit – is inherently difficult.”  This also explains some fundamental differences that cause us to think that Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus (John Gray)

All this tells me that if Erich Fromm was right, that separation is the problem of human existence, it might be more challenging for men to overcome than women.  History shows us plenty of examples of the truth in this.  Yet, bringing awareness of the unconscious into consciousness is the first step.  Once we’ve learned to understand ourselves better, we can begin to make changes in ourselves.  As more and more of us do that, the world will change too.

Photo by Javad Esmaeili on Unsplash

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