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Robert K. Hall: Empty Chair, Full Heart

By Conscious, Conscious Living, Emotional Intelligence, Mental Intelligence, Super Conscious, Wisdom 3 Comments

Robert K. Hall

In the mid twentieth century, primarily in America, a new psycho-spiritual movement began to emerge, making use of ancient and modern healing practices from all parts of the world. Among the notable pioneers was Robert Hall, who began his foray into the new psychology by apprenticing with both Fritz Perls and Ida Rolf, each of whom had developed the own healing methodologies.  Dr. Hall also studied meditation under the Indian master Charan Singh, and learned Polarity Therapy from its founder, Randolph Stone.  Since developing his own unique practices, Dr Hall has earned and international reputation as an innovator of mind-body therapies.  He is the co-founder of the Lomi School of Somatic Studies, and, since 2001, director of El Dharma in Todos Santos, BCS, Mexico ( A beloved Meditation teacher, now emeritus on the Spring Rock Teachers Council, Dr Hall currently leads meditation and Gestalt retreats/workshops throughout Mexico.  He also published two volumes of poetry, two spoken-word CD’s with music, and recently in Mexico, two English/Spanish collections of essays on contemporary Buddhism, illustrated with his paintings and poetry. In June 2012, Inquiring Minds editors Barbara Gates, Kevin Griffin and Wes Nisker held the following telephone conversations with Dr. Hall, who was at his home in Mexico.

Inquiring Mind:  Robert, you have been working with emotions your whole life, professionally and, we presume, personally as well.  Do you think that as a culture we in the West are skillful in dealing with emotions?

Robert Hall:  I don’t think so.  As a therapist, bodyworker and meditation retreat teacher I have repeatedly found that people come to work with me who are in emotional upheaval, but they have no knowledge of what emotion is occurring or how it relates to their personal histories.  There is often a sense of energetic movement and chaos that is experienced in the body, but for the most part, the emotion is not identified.  The great success of Daniel Goleman’s work on emotional intelligence is very important, because a majority of people don’t have any idea what they’re really feeling.  When I started work as a psychotherapist, that was one of the strangest things I encountered.

IM:  Does meditation practice help people get in touch with what they are feeling?

RH:  Yes, especially the emphasis in Vipassana on paying attention to sensations of the body.  That helps connect people to their emotions.  However, in the early years of meditation practice in the West, the meditation teachers didn’t have much experience in dealing with emotions in their own lives, not to mention in the lives of students.  So for quite a long time there was a lot of confusion about how to work with emotions.

IM:  What would happen on a retreat if as student was crying a lot or seemed emotionally upset?  How would teachers deal with that?

RH:  Well, in the early days, they might not try to obstruct the emotion, but generally they would not refer to it as something to be attended to or talked about.  It was kind of allowed and at the same time, ignored.  You know, “It’s just your personality.  Let it go and come back to breath.”  The real work was to come back to breath.  The concentration practice was what was emphasized.

IM:  Was more attention given to the emotions in various psychological practices?

Ida Rolf – founder of Rolfing bodywork. Ida first taught her bodywork system to two MDs. Robert was one of those doctors.

RH:  Not Really.  There was a similar dismissal of emotions in the whole body-mind community.  When I was working with Ida Rolf, I had some cataclysmic upheavals of re-experiencing trauma, for instance, but she essentially ignored my turmoil and didn’t want to talk about it.  That was the attitude in a lot of the healing community in the seventies.  Once exception was Fritz Perls, who basically invented the psychological school known as Gestalt, and who was a very important teacher to me.  I think his contribution to psychology was to make it possible for people to feel and name their emotions.  He developed techniques, such as the empty chair conversation, where you have to explore your projections onto other people.

IM:  When you started teaching Vipassana meditation, did you abandon the techniques of Gestalt, or did you try to integrate some of that approach in your work with meditation students?

RH:  I was never able to fully integrate the Gestalt work in a retreat setting because the retreats were essentially silent.  However, in my work with small groups and individuals in private practice, I combined meditation with the Gestalt work.  I found that the ability to pay attention is very useful in Gestalt.

Recently I’ve started teaching retreats in Mexico where I fully integrate the two practices in a retreat setting.  The days take place in silence, but in the evenings, instead of Dharma talks, I will do Gestalt sessions.  These sessions show people the power of emotions, how to identify them, and how to embody and explore them.

IM:  Could you give an example of one of your Gestalt sessions?

RH:  I will sit in the open chair, the classical Gestalt format, and invite people to come forward one at a time to engage me in dialogue.  I make use of what I have learned in Gestalt over the years of bringing forth the conflicts within the personality, the polarities.  Quite often people get in touch with some deep emotion that gets worked through in the process.  And the people who are observing the process are living through it vicariously.
So here’s a typical situation: I call the open chair and a young woman comes forward.  She is in her late twenties and she starts talking with me about her life.  I must say that over the years I have developed an ability to sniff out repressed emotion.  I can feel it when it is present, and I usually know exactly what emotion is being repressed.  So this young woman starts complaining to me about her life and I fell that she is holding a lot of anger.  Then at some point she mentions her home life and starts to talk about her mother, and I hear in her tone of voice there is a lot of rage towards her mother.  So then I ask her to brink her mother to the empty chair and have a conversation with her.  At that point, all her projections about her mother come forward within the context of this conversation.  I have her talk to her mother and then change chairs and become her mother talking back.  When the work is really successful, at some point she realizes that all of the conflict is taking place within her own mind.  She understands that she is speaking to herself, not her mother.  And when that happens, wonderful awakenings occur.  Fritz used to call these awakenings “mini-satoris.”

IM:  In the Satipattana Sutra, the Buddha’s instructions for dealing with emotions or mind states (chitta) is simply to become aware of them.  ‘One knows a lustful mind to be lustful,” he says, or “One knows an angry mind to be angry.”  There is no moralizing or suggested fix.  All that is recommended is a simple and straightforward awareness.

RH:  That is really beautiful.  But I think that my work involves a little more than simple awareness, mostly because people don’t know how to identify the emotion.  It isn’t so easy to know “a mind with anger” partly because people get swept away by it.  So I assist them in experiencing the emotion in the body, at the level of sensation.  And in that way you start to know what anger feels like.  So then I might say “Repeat with me, this is anger.  This is anger.”  That way the connection is made.  Then I ask people to feel it deeply, as the energy of the body at the level of sensations.  Then they really start to know what anger is and what it feels like.  In a retreat setting, this understanding is very powerful, because of course, the concentration and quiet during the day has created a context for this exploration.

IM:  So describe how you would support this young woman in going back to her meditation process.

RH:  After deep work like that, which is often very dramatic, I will take time to talk with the retreatant about how the emotion is now coming into conscious awareness, and how the awareness itself is healing.  The light of awareness starts to dissolve the contraction in the body that has been holding the emotion.  One has to do this carefully though, because it can happen too quickly and become overwhelming.  There has to be an educational process that goes with it.

IM:  Do you find that over the years, meditation teachers have become more sophisticated when it comes to psychological issues?

RH:  Without a doubt.  I think Jack Kornfield has taken leadership in helping to bridge the gap between meditation and psychology.  At Spirit Rock there is also a lot of interest in Peter Levine’s work, Somatic Experiencing, and I think that’s really valuable.  In general, in the meditation community, emotion is no longer seen as an obstruction to awakening but as a phenomenon to be investigated as part of the awakening process.

IM:  Do you think it is important for people to explore an emotion in the context of their personal history?

RH:  Yes, in the beginning I might encourage people to explore how they came to have these particular feelings.  But then I will help them experience the emotion, and it’s always a bodily experience, one that involves paying attention to sensations.  At some point the body starts to become formless, and we are no longer doing emotional work.  The body becomes a field, an energy field, and we connect to the universal nature of the experience.  We have moved out of the work of psychology and into the spiritual realm.

Fritz Perls practically invented psychological Gestalt

IM:  In his Gestalt work, did Fritz Perls guide people to make that leap from the personal to the universal?

RH:  Fritz himself made the leap very often.  He was always looking for the point where the two sides of the ego, the polarities, would come to a stalemate.  He called that place “the impasse.”  At that point, a kind of transcendence could occur, an awakening out of duality.  I saw it happen many times.  But, after he left the scene, his followers and imitators didn’t seem to have his skill or sophistication.  Gestalt got relegated to some kind of pounding on the pillow and getting your rage out.  The transcendent aspect of it was lost.  Because of my experience of studying vipassana, I feel that I have held on to some of that skill, or at least to the greater purpose of the work.

IM:   What do you mean when you say the two poles of the ego reach an impasse?

RH:  Essentially, our consciousness is split: we see the world through a lens of opposites.  Fritz saw the split occurring within each of us, in the ego structure.  He called the two polarities “the top dog” and “the underdog.”  There is always the dominator and the passive one, and they are in constant conflict with each other.   Emotions arise out of those conflicts.  Gestalt is a way of isolating those conflicts within the ego and then working towards the integration of the two sides.  It’s brilliant really.

The dominant voice is usually parental.  The other voice is more childlike, and that voice is saying, “Hey, give me a break.  I am doing the best that I can.  Get off my back.”

An example of the inner dialogue might be one voice saying, “Listen, you’re too weak.  You need to stand up and take a position.  You need to make yourself known.”  The other voice says, “Yeah but people don’t like me when I do that.  And I don’t want people to dislike me.  That scares me when you talk that way.”  That’s two sides of one person.  You realize that that is simplified?

IM:  Yes, of course.

RH:  Another dialogue might include a voice that says, “I feel bad all the time.  I think there is something wrong with me.  I feel sick a lot.  It’s hard to get up in the morning.”  And then the other side says “Yeah, well if you ate better, you would feel better.  And if you did a little exercise you would feel better.  Why don’t you start taking care of yourself?”

Or one voice might say, “I am so alone.  I have never found a partner.  I need an intimate relationship.”  And then the other side says. “Yeah, well you remember the last time you had an intimate relationship. Remember how that worked out?”

Those kinds of conversations go on inside a lot of people.  The dialogue between the two voices is fairly continuous internally and often takes place below consciousness.  Often the conflict is felt as contraction and discomfort in the body, some restlessness and pain. The inner dialogue is reflected in the body as unpleasant sensations.

In the Gestalt work, what I try to do is bring the dialogue into awareness by acting out the two sides in conversations with each other.  In that way we are exploring the ego structure.  When we investigate those inner dialogues in public, people are deeply affected.  At a meditation retreat, people are silently observing their inner conflict, and when they see it acted out in front of them the light goes on: “Oh, I get it.  This is happening right now in my mind.”  People begin to see the drama as impersonal, as well as impermanent.  The emotions arising out of the conflict may no longer have such impact or control.  People will enjoy a taste of freedom.

Meditation: The #1 Skill for Healing a World in Crisis

By body mind spirit, Conscious Living, States of Being, Wisdom No Comments

By Alan Davidson

© Alan Davidson- All Rights reserved

Shrieking wind punched the tent. The anchor ropes strained against the storm’s power. Hurricane force gusts threatened to turn the tent’s panels in to a sail. Dr. Lonnie Thompson felt the adrenaline flushing his muscles. He had pitched camp near a mountain cliff atop Huascaran, Peru’s highest peak. At 22,200 feet, it dominated the northern skyline of the Andes’ “White Range” (Cordillera Blanca). Many consider it to be the most beautiful mountain in the world. It wasn’t feeling very pretty that night. Fierce gusts battered his only protection from what climbers call the “death zone,” the environment above 18,000 feet. Thompson was used to the dangers of working at this extreme elevation; dangers that included altitude sickness with horrendous headaches, difficulty breathing, frostbite, avalanches, and (during the day) searing heat from the sun. And now add being blown off the mountain by the wind.

A crack signaled the anchor ties snapping under the strain. Fiberglass poles kept the tent panels upright, turning them into sails. Unmoored from the icy ridge, the wind pushed the tent toward the cliff edge. Inside the now teetering tent-raft, Lonnie scrambled into action. He grabbed his ice ax and jammed it through the floor of his tent; barely stopping his plunge to icy death below. Dr. Thompson is our, “closest living thing to an Indiana Jones.” Trekking through the Andes, the Himalayas and beyond, he has risked blood clots and temporary blindness in the name of science. His driving goal: preserving 100,000 years of weather history coded deep in the planet’s fast-melting glaciers. “No scientist has taken bigger risks to track ancient weather patterns and help us understand the anomaly of current climate trends,” says Al Gore.

Dr. Lonnie Thompson

Lonnie Thompson

Lonnie Thompson is a towering figure in the world of climatology. With his dramatic, low-budget, seat-of-the-pants trips to the glaciers of Africa, China and South America, he’s led expeditions from the Andes to Kilimanjaro, to drill for ice cores, frozen time capsules that lock in air, dust, and pollution of climates past, and offer solid (literally ice solid) evidence of the human impact on our environment. Thompson has now spent more time in the “death zone” than almost anyone alive. Once seen as an eccentric who had a wild idea about studying the ice near the planet’s equator, he’s now acknowledged to be a visionary in the field.

What has Dr. Thompson found? Global warming is real. A recent core sample from the Dasuopu glacier in Tibet reveals the last 50 years to be the warmest of the last 9,000. Thompson has found that the ice is melting at a rapid rate at some sites. At the Quelccaya glacier in Peru, a lake now exists that was not there in 1974 when Thompson first visited. In some areas, the ice is retreating about a foot a day, he said. “Those glaciers — they’re really a bank account,” he said. “They have stored water resources over thousands of years.”

Dr. Thompson, a professor at Ohio State University, said: “It doesn’t matter if you’re in the Himalayas, South America, or Africa. The system is changing.” The main way that warming is likely to affect mankind, scientists say, is through changes in the balance of water as liquid, vapor and ice. “A change of nine or ten degrees [of the Earth’s temperature] would almost certainly cause widespread catastrophe,” writes Mark Bowen in Thin Air, a treatise on global climate changes and Thompson’s high altitude adventures.

In the short run, the melting could unleash sudden floods and avalanches as it overwhelms lakes and stream beds. In the long run, though, these long-frozen sources of water will run dry. Generally, agriculture is expected to die out in arid subtropical areas like the eastern Mediterranean and southern Africa, while flourishing in northern climates — like the North American wheat belt — as more rain and longer growing seasons boost crops. But climate experts say that even there, rain is more likely to fall as field-scouring torrents. Government scientists have already measured a significant rise in downpour-style storms in the United States over the last 100 years.

Earth has suffered from one crisis or another since someone started telling stories around the campfire. But what is the world’s #1 worst crisis: destroying our environment, wars and their “collateral damage,” crushing and dehumanizing poverty, sex and slave traffic of our young girls?

Shockingly, the #1 crisis facing our world today is none-of-the-above; Yep. That’s right. Our #1 crisis is really the LACK of human development in the world. We’ll get to remedy in just a minute. Every crisis mentioned above is a symptom of poor our human development. We hate, fight, abuse each other, and the planet we live on because we have yet to grow up.

Human growth falls into three broad levels: Selfish, Care, and Cosmic Care.

Selfish – 350 million children don’t get enough to eat

The SELFISH level means a healthy Self-Care; or not—and often the case these days. Our basic human needs are healthy bodies–good food, clean water and air–and safety, shelter, and security. The “Dark Side of Selfish,”as it stands 1.3 billion people live on less than a dollar a day and 850 million people do not get enough to eat every day. 350 million kids go to sleep hungry every night.

The CARE level means caring for each other—a real sense of love, belonging, and self respect. Most of the people in our developed nations are at this level. “Dark Side of Care”—There were 180,000 deliberate murders in the world last year; 660, 020 domestic rapes—this number does not include war rapes. In the U.S. alone 16% of children are physically abused and 9% are sexually abused—that’s almost 1 out of ten children. And these numbers say more about the quality of police care throughout the world and a victim/witness’s will to report a crime. We have a lot of growing up to do.

COSMIC CARE means caring for all things—our fellow human beings, our animal friends, the planet, and universe we live in…and a real integration of all three levels of growth. Even with the vast wealth and technological progress found in the world, only 3% of our entire world’s population lives at a COSMIC CARE level of growth. So how do we grow up, with more and more people peaking into a COSMIC CARE level, you ask? Well for my money, mastering our Five Vital IQs—healing and integrating body, heart, mind, choice, and spirit are a necessity.

But there’s one exercise that is statistically proven to boost human growth…Meditation. Yep, that’s right. Sitting quiet and still every day, pretty much guarantees growing up. It doesn’t even matter what kind of meditation, just the sitting, whether it’s watching your breath, scanning the sensations of your body, chanting, praying, or concentration. They all work to raise our level of growth.

Ken Wilber – the creatoer of Integral Theory

Ken Wilber, the creator of Integral Theory, believes that 10% of the world’s people living at COSMIC CARE level will create a tipping point of consciousness; a shifting that will radically change our world and the all the crisis that threaten us today: human cruelty, war, environmental destruction, and the incredible imbalance of wealth will all shift, as our consciousness does. As we grow each of these problems will heal. (Other, more complex problems will surely arise—but to the work at hand).


There are literally thousands of ways to meditate in the vast history of our world’s traditions. Here’s one of my favorites.

Sensational Body Meditation

The key to this meditation is simple: you focus on the sensations of your body as you sit; the sensation of pressure, temperature, vibration, and pain/pleasure. Then there’s always your five senses: taste, hearing, smell, or touch (I prefer to meditate with my eyes closed). When you notice yourself thinking, which you will (it’s what the mind is designed to do), gently return your attention to any of the sensations of your body. The skill of meditation is to consistently focus our attention in the present. The sensations of our body always happen in the present moment. When we focus our attention to those sensations we automatically tune to the present moment.

Sit comfortably cross-legged on the floor with your spine straight. Placing a cushion just under your sitz bones (the bones of your pelvis you actually sit on) lifts your spine. It helps you to sit in peace and quiet. Turn off all the distractions you can—telephones, TV, music, kids. Gently close your eyes.

Turn your attention to your feet and sense everything you can. Feel any pressure from the ground, your socks? Sense your skin and the feel of air or fabric on it. Do you have a sense of temperature? Of vibration? When you notice yourself thinking, gently bring your attention back to your body.

Move your attention to your calves, hips and thighs. Sense the weight of your body pressing on the floor. Sense your skin and the feel of air or fabric on it. Do you have a sense of temperature? Of vibration? When you begin thinking, gently return your attention to your body.

Move your attention to your belly. Soften your belly. Let your muscles and guts relax. Sense your skin and the feel of air or fabric on it. Do you have a sense of temperature? Of vibration? When you notice yourself thinking, gently return your attention to your body.

Move your attention to your back. Sense the muscles and bones that hold you erect as you sit. If there is tension or pain in your back turn your attention to it and take a deep breath. Direct your breath to the tension. The movement and attention of your breath may soften that tension. Sense your skin and the feel of air or fabric on it. Do you have a sense of temperature? Of vibration? When you notice yourself thinking, gently bring your attention back to your body.

Move your attention to your breath. Notice the rising and falling of your chest. Sense the air moving in and out of your chest. Sense your skin and the feel of air or fabric on it. Do you have a sense of temperature? Of vibration? When you notice yourself thinking, gently bring your attention back to your body.

Move your attention to your neck and head. Sense the movement of air across your upper lip as you breathe. Feel the movement of air through your nose and throat. Notice any aromas or tastes you have. Sense your skin and hair. Do you have a sense of temperature? Of vibration? When you notice yourself thinking, gently bring your attention back to your body.

Return to the sensations of your feet and move back up your body to the head and neck. Initially sit for twenty minutes. As you are comfortable, increase your sitting time by ten-minute increments until you can sit for one hour.

Commit to yourself and a meditation program. It’s best to start with something you can do consistently, like every day for ten minutes. Build from there. You can add more minutes to your sitting, or add another round of ten minutes (say one in the morning, one at night). There’s lot’s of good advice on how to start and sustain a mediation practice. The most important thing to me is “Just do it.” Find the groove that works for you. You’ll feel better, focus your mind, and choose better. And the world needs your Cosmic Care.

Be brilliant!

Know Your Mind, Shape Your Mind, Free Your Mind

By body brilliance, body mind spirit, Classes & Seminars, Conscious, Conscious Living, Health & Wellbeing, Mental Intelligence, Super Conscious, Unconscious, Wisdom 2 Comments

Click here for Alan’s Wisdom Warrior Training

Change your mind, change your life…

Creating  right “mind,” or shifting your mindset is essential for happiness, success, health, wealth,  joy, and enlightenment. What ever your goals in life.

This webinar-replay will show you simple, effective ways to help you shift your brain and your thinking so you can…

Be happy, joyful, and free,
Stop addictive behaviors,
Change self-sabotaging choices,
Let go of corrosive emotions,
Live your LIFE’s purpose,
Do work you LOVE (and get paid well for it),
Be free from FEAR (living in and reacting with),
Quit fighting “what is,”
Connect you to divine inspiration and creativity,
Spark Enlightenment.

Alan show’s you three specific tools and techniques to:

Know Your Mind, Shape Your Mind, and Free Your Mind.

Know Your Mind, Shape Your Mind, Free Your Mind

Janet Attwood: Three Keys to Loving Fully

By body mind spirit, Conscious, Conscious Living, Fun and Fabulous, Interviews, Mental Intelligence, Passion, Super Conscious, Wisdom No Comments

interview with Alan Davidson


Click here to learn more about Janet Attwood & The Passion Test

Janet Attwood - Passion Expert

Janet is the co-author of the New York Times Bestseller, “The Passion Test- The Effortless Path To Discovering Your Life Purpose”, and co-author of “From Sad to Glad: 7 Steps to Facing Change with Love and Power”.

As an expert on what it takes to live a passionate life, she has shared the stage with, The Dalai Lama, Sir Richard Branson, Jack Canfield, Lisa Nichols, and other top transformational leaders.

For her ongoing work with homeless women and youth in detention centers, Janet received the highest award for volunteer service in the U.S. from the President of the United States, The Presidents Volunteer Service Award.

Janet is co-founder of one of the largest online magazines in the world, Healthy Wealthy n Wise Magazine.

Janet lives in a community of over 3000 meditator’s from around the world in Fairfield, Iowa, and has been a practitioner and teacher of the Transcendental Meditation Program for over 40 years.

She is a certified facilitator of “The Work of Byron Katie” and a facilitator of the environmental symposium “Awakening the Dreamer – Changing the Dream”.

Janet is President of an organization in India, called, “The World United” whose sole purpose is to promote conscious, healthy and sustainable choices for a better world.

Janet is a founding member of the Transformational Leadership Council that Jack Canfield, the co-author of the Chicken Soup Series, put together after taking Janet’s Passion Test.

The Red Book by Carl G. Jung~ Jung’s Inner Universe Writ Large

By Conscious, Mental Intelligence, Spiritual Intelligence, Super Conscious, Unconscious, Wisdom One Comment

Jung’s Inner Universe, Writ Large

We know the archetype; we cherish the myth. The hero, like the world around him, is in a state of crisis. And in seeking to restore himself and the shattered cosmos, he valiantly passes through a vale of despair, descending into darkness. He risks his life and psyche in perilous encounters with dreams or dragons and finally emerges into the light, spiritually transformed, ushering in a new age.

That restoration may be like Odysseus’ epic journey home or like the return of the Israelites to Canaan. It may be like Siegfried braving his way to the side of the sleeping Brünnhilde or like … well, perhaps like the journey that Carl G. Jung tried to outline in a private chronicle he kept for 16 years that until recently had scarcely been seen by anyone outside the extended family of his descendants. It’s an elaborately designed scripture, filled with his fantasies and surreal imaginings, known as “The Red Book.”

The title is not a metaphorical allusion to blood’s primal coloration nor does it require elaborate symbolic explication. The book really is red, and you can see it until mid-February, lying open in a glass case in an exhibition mounted in its honor at the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea: “The Red Book of C. G. Jung: Creation of a New Cosmology.”

Jung, who by the time he began work on this tome had already broken with Freud and was developing his mythically suffused conception of the human psyche, made certain that the book’s significance would not be overlooked by future acolytes. Bound in crimson leather, it is an enormous folio, more than 600 pages, bearing the formal title “Liber Novus” (“New Book”). Jung gave it all the trappings of antique authority and stentorian consequence, presenting it as a Newer New Testament.

He wrote it out himself, using a runic Latin and German calligraphy. Its opening portion, which begins with quotations from Isaiah and the Gospel according to John, is inked onto parchment, each section beginning with an initial illuminated as if by a medieval scribe with a taste for eyes, castles and scarabs.

The book’s accounts of Jung’s visions, fantasies and dreams are also punctuated with his paintings (some of which are on display in the exhibition), images executed during the years of World War I and the decade after that now appear as uncanny anticipations of New Age folk art of the late 20th century. They display abstract, symmetrical floral designs Jung came to identify as mandalas, along with almost childlike renderings of flames, trees, dragons and snakes, all in striking, bold colors.

But what is particularly strange about this book is not its pretense or pomposity but its talismanic power. It was stashed away in a cabinet for decades by the family, then jealously withheld from scholarly view because of its supposedly revealing nature. Since being brought into the open, partly through the efforts of the historian and Jung scholar Sonu Shamdasani (who is also curator of this exhibition), it has become a sensation.

A meticulously reproduced facsimile, published in October by W. W. Norton & Company, with detailed footnotes and commentary by Mr. Shamdasani (who also contributed to the volume’s accompanying translation), “The Red Book,” costing $195, is in its fifth printing.

This modest show, in which the book is supplemented by displays of the author’s notes, sketches and paintings, is now scheduled to travel to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles from April to June, and then to the Library of Congress in Washington.

The book really is a remarkable object, and not just because it so eccentrically insists on its own significance. It represents Jung’s thinking during a period when he was developing his notion of “archetype” and a “collective unconscious,” positing a substratum of the human mind that shapes language, image and myth across all cultures. And as he was developing his ideas about psychological therapy as a form of self-knowledge, he seemed to have been engaging in just such a self-analysis: the book provides a bewildering, seemingly uncensored path into Jung’s inner life. Mr. Shamdasani writes, “It is nothing less than the central book in his oeuvre.”

That is something students of Jung’s life and work can ponder as they try to put these gnomic tales into intellectual and biographical context. As Jung himself warned in an unfinished 1959 epilogue to this unfinished book, “To the superficial observer, it will appear like madness.” Perhaps even to the nonsuperficial observer.

The narrator is a stand-in for Jung; he splits into multiple parts, engaging in cryptic dialogue with alternative souls. He is often in the company of a being named Philemon, an old man with the horns of a bull, a creature, Jung said, who evolved out of the biblical character Elijah. Philemon is a “pagan” who carries with him “an Egypto-Hellenic atmosphere with a Gnostic coloration.”

Nearly every visitation has some such mix of exotico-mythico-primitivo coloration. One painting on display here shows a centipedesque dragon, its jaws opened to swallow a yellow ball.

Jung’s explanation: “The dragon wants to eat the sun, and the youth beseeches him not to. But he eats it nevertheless.” An inscription goes into more detail, naming figures in the story without explaining them: “Atmavictu,” “a youthful supporter,” “Telesphorus,” “evil spirit in some men.”

Confusion about the meaning of it all was apparently shared by Jung, who transcribed these visions and then reflected on them in streams of semiconsciousness, invoking death, sacrifice, love and acceptance, sounding at times like a Greek priestess moaning from the bowels of the earth. He wanders in the desert, he cries aloud, he eats the liver of a sacrificed girl, her head “a mash of blood with hair and whitish pieces of bone.”

The temptation, after numbingly turning these pages, is to react finally like the psychiatrist Spielvogel at the end of Philip Roth’s “Portnoy’s Complaint,” and say: “So. Now vee may perhaps to begin. Yes?” Maybe that was Jung’s reaction too, which is why he abandoned the project in 1930. He couldn’t even complete the epilogue, some 30 years later, breaking off in midsentence.

Now it may be, of course, that Jung was speaking profoundly in tongues, and that more devoted souls may stumble on the key to all these mythologies. Perhaps. Jung himself, after all, was engaged in more compelling systematic work about the primal forces of the psyche during this period (ideas that may have also influenced the late speculations of Freud). Yet right now the lure of the book comes not from within, but from without, not from what it deciphers, but from what it signals about our own mythological predilections.

Mr. Shamdasani argues that “the overall theme of the book is how Jung regains his soul and overcomes the contemporary malaise of spiritual alienation.” And as he points out, Jung undertook his strange project after a series of apocalyptic visions in 1913 and 1914 that he later believed were prophesies of an imminent world war. He looked out a window, he said, and “saw blood, rivers of blood.” Jung felt it within himself as well, the “menace of psychosis.”

And so he began this enterprise of self-examination, a ruthless overturning of the rational Western mind, submerging himself in a pilgrimage through the pagan land of his own psyche. This project was his belated answer to Freud’s “Interpretation of Dreams,” which had also presented itself as the account of a heroic self-analytical descent into the maelstrom of the unconscious.

We are lured by that archetype still, even if it does not seem to shed the illumination Jung claimed. Go see this book and the exhibition, though, to glimpse an extraordinary relic of a particular way of thinking about the mind and its history. Then, cued by a 13th-century Tibetan mandala here that Jung owned, go upstairs and see the Rubin’s astonishing show of these ancient Tibetan designs, each enclosing an encyclopedic universe, encompassing desire, venality, wisdom, ecstasy and passion. Maybe “The Red Book” deserves a diagnosis: Jung had mandala envy.

“The Red Book of C. G. Jung: Creation of a New Cosmology” is on view through Feb. 15 at the Rubin Museum of Art, 150 West 17th Street, Chelsea; (212) 620-5000,

From the New York Time 12-12-2009