September 24 – The Way of Individuation – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“Far out at sea, a tuna fleet surrounded a group of spinner dolphins swimming over a school of tuna, catching them in a gigantic net. Small, powerful speedboats circled the animals, creating a wall of sound that disoriented and terrified the dolphins, who sank down silently into the net, only the movement of their eyes showing signs of life. But when a dolphin crossed the corkline at the edge of the net, it knew it was free. It burst forward, propelled by powerful wide tail strokes…. It then dove, swimming at full speed … down and away into the dark water, only to burst from the surface in a high bounding series of leaps.” Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

This dolphin moment reveals a recurring sequence for us as human beings. Confined against our will—or even sometimes confined with our own consent—we go lifeless as we feel the need for space. Feeling confined, fearful, enervated, not sure where the edge of the net is—this is the depressive, confusing struggle that always precedes freedom.

But like these magnificent dolphins, we know the instant we are free, as an inner power overwhelms us, and we are compelled with joy to explore the deep which gives us the grace to break the surface, bounding briefly into a Oneness that is hard to imagine.

This whole process describes in a moment of nature what Carl Jung called “the way of individuation”: how a divided individual sorts through their deepest confinements in order to pursue a wholeness of being.

If we have a call, it is to outlast the net so we can dive and break surface.

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