A LOOK AT SYMBOLS
Why are we so interested in symbols? What importance or relevance do they have in our lives? Let’s first look at the definition of the word symbol. Symbols are a visible sign for something invisible: an act, a concept, an object with deep cultural significance.
Symbols have the capacity to excite a response through unconscious association. When we “know” that there is something beyond our sensory ability to understand, we use symbols to represent that “something.”
Symbols belong to what Carl Jung called the collective unconscious, that part of ourselves that contains the psychological and biological inheritance common of all our pasts.
A symbol bypasses words. It represents more than the actual picture. It reflects a basic underlying concept not under-standable through words. Imagine a picture of a cross. If you are Catholic, that cross will elicit a whole set of reactions within you to remind you of your religious beliefs. If you are of a different religion, that cross may trigger negative reactions within you or may have little or no effect. A particular symbol of a whole religious context and philosophy may not be part of your inner symbolic repertoire, but it gives you the idea of what a symbol can be or do.
One of the first known uses for symbols was to concentrate the human mind on God, the spiritual source, the Infinite one.
Symbols have been used for:
- Meditating/Focusing the Mind
- Understanding our dreams
- Creative expression
- Mining your unconscious
- We use symbols every day – these letters are symbols
- So are our numbers
- And what about stop signs or traffic lights