I have been reading quite a lot of Jungian psychology and philosophy over the past few years. Here are some notes from Jason E. Smith’s new book: Religious but not Religious. Living a Symbolic Life (2020)
On mastery versus meaning
Meaning is a psychological state that can affirm life.
Mastery, by contrast, is not affirmation, but rather the attempt to control life.
Here is how Jason Smith unravels it:
Mastery is a privileging of consciousness at the expense of the unconscious. It is the attempt by the ego to contain the wholeness of what Jungian psychology calls the Self rather than recognizing its proper place within the wholeness.
By contrast, meaning could be understood as the art of letting oneself be mastered by life. An understanding rooted in the acknowledgement that life, world, and transcendence all exceed our grasp.
Meaning is the experience of being in life; of being related to one’s life, of being an integral part of the life process.
Meaning is simultaneously an overcoming of oneself and a coming into oneself.
Meaning is not a thing; not an objectively existing reality somewhere out in the world that can be mechanically acquired or measured, known or named. Rather it is a quality of our relationship to the world.