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Archetype of the Beggar

The dreamed of down and out person, alcoholic, homeless or illegal alien might come into this archetype. The fundamental qualities of this archetype are dependence, powerlessness and lack or resources, both personal and material. In some way many of us have something of this archetype influencing our behaviour. We might be impoverished of the ability to love, or of initiative or motivation. We might beg for attention or power. The following dream shows this archetype in full swing in Dennis’s dream below.

Example: I was watching a man who insisted on living in a small stable like room that was foul with his shit and urine. He wouldn’t go out or clean it and his clothes too were filthy. He wouldn’t be helped, but blamed his condition on anything and anyone but himself. As I watched though, he came to the point of accepting responsibility for his condition. He came out, and we then happily asked if we could put his clothes in the washing machine. He started a new life. Dennis.

Dennis had been passing through a period of recognising how fears, guilt and lack of confidence had imprisoned him. He had literally been living in this emotional ‘shit’ for years.

This condition, shown in the dream as a degraded human and living condition, can come about through forms of self judgments. Another of Dennis’s dreams illustrates this.

Example: It was a long dream in which I had left my wife and children to be with a younger woman sexually. She dominated me because of my need, and treated me like a drug addict – “If you don’t do as you’re told you can’t have another fuck. I won’t open my legs for you.” I felt perhaps how an addict feels, deprived, childlike in face of the addictive need, no self-respect, possessed by another will. My body was covered in lice, and sores from their bites. My clothes were dirty and unkempt. I felt I must somehow get away. I managed this by running away and eventually I arrived in a small town, and began to beg for food from door to door. I saw myself doing this all the way home. As I begged I knew that a great change had overtaken me during my imprisonment to the girl. I had lost all the previous regard for myself. I really inwardly now felt like a down and out, without any pride or respect for myself. I was not criminally moved, simply empty of all normal human self regard.

Those feeling had arisen in Dennis because he left his wife and children for a younger woman. He was tortured and made ineffective by them for years until the dream of the washing machine above.

This archetype might seem to be all together negative, but it has a positive side also. This side is to do with the great compassion and wisdom that comes from having lost or let go of everything that gives most people a sense of value, of worth or motivation – as perhaps Dennis did due to his divorce. We see this in the voluntary entry into the life of the sanyassin in Indian society, or the loss of all social connections in some religious vows. This loss, whether voluntary or through events, confronts us with the false pride that may have led us to judge others as inferior or worthless. The poverty leads us to a meeting with the most fundamental core of self from which real life, love and wisdom flow. So the beggar might depict the letting go of all illusions, dreams, worldly ambitions and hopes, opening the freedom and enlightenment that arise from this. See: beggar.

Useful Questions and Hints:

Is this beggar a sign of the poverty and emotional and mental shit in which I live? If so dare I admit that and define what it is?

If my beggar is enlightened what am I learning or gaining from him/her?

Am I entering a phase of my life in which I am dropping away my need for worldly things such as ambition, social acclaim, beliefs that sustain me, etc?

Explore this by using Active Imagination and Talking As.

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