The Courage to Be 2

In the first November post I looked at Paul Tillich’s thinking about opposites leading to disintegration and needing a centring power within each of our lives and indeed of society that would unify major expressions of the human spirit. He thought that therefore we are always left looking for the source of the courage to be and for the integration of the opposites. Life by its nature seeks the support and vitality and balanced integration of divine life.
Paul Tillich as a Christian theologian sees the Christ figure as an image of a life which realises its essential humanity. This is a life at one with God. He believed that the Christ figure answers a longing and the deepest human need which is to realise one’s essential humanity in the turmoil of existence. He didn’t deny that the essential could be realised in other traditions and through other figures and nor did he deny that the essential could be realised by those who reject the Christian institution but he still believed that wherever essential humanity is present the reality of Christ is present and Christ is never present without it. This is the universal need for salvation where God is the ground of each life and of all life and being and where we are led into what he calls the spiritual presence.
John P. Dourley in his Guild of Pastoral Psychology pamphlet called Jung, Tillich and the Quest for Home and Self describes it in this way. ‘It would mean the experience of the courage to be grounded in the experience of a divinely bestowed centredness. It would mean living in the face of death but already beyond it. It would mean living with one’s guilt confident that acceptance ultimately is deeper than rejection. It would mean living in the face of meaninglessness and doubt and experiencing in them what Tillich calls ‘the God above the God of theism’ or ‘the God who appears when God has disappeared in the anxiety of doubt.’
Here is a description of life moving into a vital balance of opposites where there is participation in communities of communion and then returning to oneself enriched rather than robbed of one’s individuality. Here is life forming and reforming perhaps through many crucifixions with the creative forces developing in self-expression and creation. This would mean freedom becoming progressively more determined by one’s essential self, by one’s destiny by one’s image in the divine. Here is a spirit created consciousness – compatible with the consciousness of the mandala which Carl Jung describes as ‘God is the circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumferences is nowhere.’
This is the movement of life towards a centred and vital unity of opposites involving the drawing near of the centre of a personal life to the centre of all life both within and beyond the person.