Odyssey & Therapeutic Empathy


profiles frontispiece


How do we journey to the Self? We bring together two approaches, which enrich each other. Their creative combination enhances the discovery process.  We need:  A broad data base, a depth-sounder for information.

Image: On a boat we start to make a map of the unseen seabed.


"This Shows the Way" - Rosicrucean Emblem One

“This Shows the Way” – Rosicrucean Emblem One

That means becoming receptive, and registering what is “picked up”, like a graph or seismic counter: drawing it, or writing the images which come first to mind.   Gradually these join up, and a picture of the sea-bed appears.

The sea-bed represents the subconscious: the boat is the surface consciousness.  We are needing data, in this “unknown”. We seek a personal and social interaction: Commitment.

  “Acts are intentional experiences, not mental activities.
They are either intuitive and full, or signitive and empty.”
Clark Moustakas

The old knowledge: the data we have – persons, situations and opinions – interacts with the NEW.  A starting point for the odyssey is: “What answer am I looking for?”

The fundamental assumption is, “I don’t know”.  In a subatomic interaction, particles collide and the energy of their annihilation emits/creates a new particle or photon.  Similarly, our current knowledge collides with the new picture coming in, releasing  a fresh (experiential) insight. Describe the picture I see as it emerges from Unknown.

An odyssey begins with a desire to know what is not known.


Jung in his Study

Jung in his Study

“Your unknowing stems from the previous harmlessness of your life, from the peaceful passage of time, and from the absence of the God. But if the God draws near, your essence starts to seethe and the black mud of the depths whirls up.”

The Red Book, C.G.Jung


Again I find myself empathising Jung’s sorrow for his father’s dutiful unbelief and spiritual sterility. This unhappy pastor father figure was central in Jung’s troubled soul.

mobius one

Empathy is what happens when we start to travel inside.   Empathy is this figure of eight when the personal spheres of healer and wound overlap, and it is voluntary from one side or another. One side VOLunteers a psychic receptivity, and to ask questions which will turn the other’s tap to flow. (The root syllable VOL means the will, the willing.) Or, the VOLunteer is silent, feeling the other.   Whichever – it is interactive. Empathy is interactive, and empathy sparks profound commitment and interest in the subject.

Empathy at its best, awakens in the empathee, that keen, attentive interest for its own sake, and can sometimes deliver him or her – birth.

It is subjective, because VOLunteer and empathee share the subjectivity.   Then it becomes “objective”.  The empathee is not alone now.

murmuration of starlings, gretna green

murmuration of starlings, gretna green


The empathee might want to be alone – might find the VOLunteer intrusive – but that is another angle. Generally speaking, genuine compassion does not intrude, and is responded to.   Compassion is a rock in a hard place.   Compassion comes from having been there.

So we have Jung and his patients, seeking the deeper river which heals the soul. And on the journey, the phenomena show up.  “Phenomenon” stems from the Greek phainos, to flare or rise up.  As we receive the phenomena, they turn “Heuristic” – the Self search, or Self-enquiry.   As soon as there is active empathy in the quest, it turns inward (the Greek word Heuristic means to discover or find);  the seeker lets go of his or her self-concern, and begins to IMMERSE – diving into the heart of the matter: a shared textural mystery.

phen heur triad


This happens through dialogue, and when it happens, the point extends and triangulates the two persons.

Empathy triangles 12 June

When we are mutually empathised, the conversation is FERTILE, with a fluid, moving centre.   When we are truly empathised, we are heard, whether we speak or are silent.  The sensitive topic no longer obstructs. It grows richly humane. When we are empathised, we awake to our holistic Self and are objective.  It is like striking flint to spark and light a fire.   There is trust.

How to feel the way in?  It is difficult, when defensive or on overload, and hanging onto our garments.  It requires an act of creative, positive imagination, to step into the other’s shoes, what is it like to see through those eyes?  In the Gurdjieff work, this is called “external considering” and it is radical.  “Internal considering“, on the other hand, is when we go on fantasising about what the other person might think or do.   (See Maurice Nicoll’s Commentaries.)

Empathy triangles 2 12 June_0001

When we are empathised, trust flows, where mistrust was walled up.  Drink from the full bucket the rainbow waters of the deep well with far horizons.   Drink together from it.

Trust opens shell when the spark is struck – the CONNECTION.   The CONNECTION happens when the essence of the empathee begins to flow, to flower forth.   The connection happens when the empathee feels safe enough to “come out”.   It happens in creative art, poetry and portraiture, and it happens in dialogue, therapy and friendship.   It happens between lovers.  The connection is a subconscious cognition of “the bigger picture”.  Until connection happens, language is wooden.   When connection opens, language is infinitely vibrant and versatile.   Language opens the box, laughs and cries out loud, and lives.

d.harding be as you are 2


Life resurrects.   It is like Isis resurrecting Osiris.   These great Archetypes refer to simple items in human exchange, from despair to hope.

Raising a Captive Knight

Traumatised persons have wooden tongues, and their heart is locked. We cannot tell, when we are locked in pain. Only a few persons are able to tell the truth of their trauma, while it still smashes their soul.

(I know someone who could, and did.   So remember … What is this doing to me now?   Some “involuntary” surfacing of the anguish. It is a memory, and it informs my NOW. Let it rise, be heard, and fall. A feeling. It is known well, and need not dwell on it. It passes.   See what it transforms to, and smile.   Smile with it, COMPLETELY.   Reach into the past pile of compost, touch it, smile again with the ch’i, it clears its nature.   Did we not feel, way back then, the brightening future sky – the help, the wisdom coming from “there”, which is HERE? )

“Heuristic” – phonetically – is the quest into HERE.

All quests when they go deep enough, turn transpersonal. The individual shrinks rapidly into the speed of light crescendo.   There is an old Einstein diagram of this/can’t find it, but here is one:

page from Einstein's Zurich notebook

page from Einstein’s Zurich notebook

On telling the truth of our trauma: as those who work with victims of abuse, torture and political extremism know well – it takes time and much patience, to be there, and encourage the traumatised one to begin to speak their nightmare … perhaps by using paints and pens and clay, perhaps by being in a circle, or in a friendship, or helping someone else; perhaps by the victim spelling into a poem, what happened.

Being able at last to write it down, and see it on the page, brings an unexpected relief and courage in the blood.   And again.   And again, and again …

pelican & phoenix, A.Roob

What is the relief?   Connection with wider humanity.   Expansion of the psyche.   The life it brings to the pulse, is extraordinary.

Rage converts to courage.   Conversation is conversion.

Sacrifice means to make holy.
Do not allow the Nefesh in you to dominate.
You do not kill it.
It is what you surrender to the Creator.

The Nefesh is tempered along the vine, for the grapes to swell.

Einstein on bike after “fixing it”





My adventure invites fellow travellers.  I am a poet, an artist and a seer.  I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is  a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

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