“Integrity and the Pursuit of the Numinous” by Puddi Kullberg

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The documentaries Bill Cunningham New York (2010) and Birders: The Central Park Effect (2012) tell the stories of two New Yorkers who epitomize a certain kind of pursuit of the numinous. Bill Cunningham, now in his 80’s, for decades, has taken off on his bicycle each morning (and still does) to photograph New Yorkers for the “Style” section of the New York Times. Starr Saphir, also for decades, has set out most mornings of spring and fall (and still does) to lead birders through Central Park.

For each of them, clearly, their given objects of attention are numinous. And while it’s hard to resist some sort of “plumage” comparison, something much deeper strikes you as you watch these individuals. I was struck by the quality of a certain kind of purity of pursuit, or integrity, that each of them, Bill Cunningham and Starr Saphir exhibits. The Jungian analyst John Beebe has written, in Integrity in Depth (2005), that what individuates is integrity. If you would like an example of this, I highly recommend these two unique documentaries.                         .Birders_ori (1)

The Heart as a Vehicle to the Self and the Unus Mundus by Deborah Bryon, Ph.D.

148In Peruvian shamanism, “the heart” – as an expression of connection with Pachamama (the Great Mother – Mother Earth)- is the hub of connectivity in the body and the vehicle through which connection and relatedness with others is experienced. Peruvian shamans say that the heart is where we experience munay energetically, the universal feeling state of love connecting us to the land and every living thing around us. The experience of munay refers to a state of union or an experience of a major conjunctio. It is collective state of love, different from personal love directed specifically towards another person.

Von Franz and Jung both referred to an aspect of this experience as “union through the Self.” Von Franz has written,

“Whereas relations based merely on projection are characterized by fascination and magical dependence, this kind of relationship by way of the Self has something strictly objective, strangely transpersonal about it. It gives rise to a feeling of immediate, timelessness, “being together” (p.177). [1]

Von Franz’s statement about relationships via the Self corresponds to the Q’ero description of munay. Both, are ecstatic spiritual experiences of connecting with the numinous that transcend time and space. Jung stated, “Objective cognition lies behind the attraction of emotional relationship; it seems to be the central secret. In this world created by the Self, we meet all those many to whom we belong, whose hearts we touch; here “there is no distance but immediate presence.”[2]

Lionel Corbett[3] has written about a glutinum mundi, or glue of the world, a “life force, uniting body and soul (Jung, 1968, 12, par 209). According to Corbett, this glue is the bonding material or prima materia of the conjunctio – a “secretion of the Self.”  As presented earlier, this has also been described as a conjunctio experience between people in relation to the field within the analytic container, in the context of transference and counter transference. The experience of the field as a conjunctio experience can also occur outside of the analytic container, often in contexts such as ceremony or communal religious settings. The power of a group in creating an energetic field is well-known and practiced in meditation circles and monasteries around the world.

In Egypt, I had the opportunity to watch whirling dervishes perform and enter a state of ecstasy. Sitting in the room during a ceremony, I witnessed a vibration shift in the entire energetic field of over 100 people! Chanting and drumming rituals and tribal dancing are illustrations of similar phenomena. Pentecostal churches with members of a congregation who speak in tongues, the emotional charge present created by a group of gospel singers.  Modern raves are another example seen in current Western culture of people collectively becoming mesmerized.



[1] M. Von Franz, “Re-Collection and Projection.”

[2]  C.G. Jung, “CW Vol 8” (par 912).

[3] L Corbett, “Fire in the Stone,” (p. 125)