Eyes of Sophia

Darlene Viggiano, M.A. reviews the work The Eyes of Sophia by Donna May & Alan Chien. The piece is a gripping narrative telling of the transformative union of opposites manifest in the flowering relationship of the authors. Love unfolds from the harmony of the two opposite principles, eros and logos.  

EYES OF SOPHIA…a dream come true

By Donna May & Alan Chien

Trafford © 2000

Darlene Viggiano, M.A., reviewer

A Jungian analyst says this book is about eros and logos. Eros has to do with being in a unitive pull, while logos has to do with meaning. This book certainly shows both elements in the story of two unlikely lovers, Donna May and Alan Chien, who find such mystical meaning in their relationship that they overcome all kinds of odds and obstacles to consummate their union. It is not for nothing that Donna is found reading for the first time ever Carl Jung's Mandala Symbolism, or The Alchemist: a fable about following your dreams at key moments in the unfolding of the courtship. This book is replete with synchronicities that the authors, the lovers, follow in their story of a dream come true. Indeed, they make the dream come true by staying open and paying the cost -- taking responsibility for choosing to honor a powerful and meaningful call of the heart, and choosing to leave behind established, social norms. It is thus a story of the individuation processes aided by couplehood, creativity, and vision -- through the eyes of Sophia.

Unlike the Bridges of Madison County, where the bridge is to romance alone, in the Eyes of Sophia the bridge is between romance and meaning -- eros and logos. While the couple is held in a "magic bubble," it is also held in an alchemical container that transforms the relationship from what society could deem a base affair into what the lovers experience as a lasting marriage. It is, in Jungian terms, the story of a conjunction -- a transformative union of opposites. What is most amazing about this true story is that the lovers get to live out both the symbolic and the concrete aspects of their union by their willingness to do what's best for themselves combined with their will toward the highest good of all. They accept both the instinctual and the spiritual pulls in themselves, both their eros and their logos, and they come out with a divine union they actually get to live out in their family and society.

Surely, this is an inspiring relationship. It is one that inspires both hope and envy. It is one of rarity and beauty, blessing and grace. It is one of trial and triumph. The trial relates to doubt and fear. The triumph relates to the heart and the Self -- that which is bigger and more encompassing than all of us, yet remains steadfastly also the deepest and richest part of each one of us. The triumph also relates to the union of the objective and the subjective, what can be recognized as evident and real, as well as what can be recognized as purely personal experience. Thus, what is also amazing about this relationship is that it is shared and not one-sided. It is shared by both the lovers, and by the society at large that must recognize their couplehood despite the dubious beginnings of their relationship. Often there is a mismatch, where one partner sees the relationship as what Jungian analyst Martin Odermatt calls "progressive" while the other partner sees it as "mystical." In this case, the one with the "progressive" view would see the couplehood as feeding an inner need for synergy and authenticity, while the one with the "mystical" view would see the couplehood as imbued with spiritual and timeless significance. Where there is no mismatch, however, it is an aid to individuation, the royal road to the sacred and divine Self.

The synchronicities in this book can appear to be overplayed, but they can not be denied. Chien specifically explains the causal workings of the most crucial piece of synchronicity, and yet the significance remains. While Jung's meaning of synchronicity requires that events not be related by cause, in this case even when the cause is explainable, the cause is not the reason for the significance. May is often caught by surprise at the answers to the questions in her heart coming unexpectedly from the song, Tin Man, produced in 1974. Two of the most significant lines of this song are: "And cause never was the reason for the evening or the Tropic of Sir Galahad. So please, believe in me." Just as we can explain the cause of "evening," we are stuck to explain its reason in terms of meaningfulness. This adds a whole new expansion to Jung's idea of synchronicity, and rounds it out as a concept. It explains why Jungians may know the causes of love in terms of transference and projection, but still be stuck for the reasons for love in terms of its meaningfulness. That's where the sacred, time-transcendent, and divine Self comes in.

There are two kinds of quests, those which can be likened to tilting at windmills and those which lead the seeker to the Self. The Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz was a fellow seeker with Dorothy on the path of individuation. He was a feeling type, in Jungian terms, just as the Scarecrow was a thinking type, the Lion a sensing type, and Dorothy an intuitive type. All did more than tilt at windmills. Indeed, together they brought back the witch's broomstick. Yet, as in the Tin Man song, "Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn't already have." Those who tilt at windmills, aim for what is outside of them to the exclusion of what is within. The seeker is on the quest in the outer world for what is outside to match what is within. He seeks and finds only what was already his by birthright. It is a taking back of the power one-sidedly invested in society. Love is of God and belongs to God; it can never be organized by man. It can never be forced to fit a manmade mold. Yet if we honor it as a gift of God, in the end it will be for the highest good no matter what evil society projects upon it. That is the message and meaning of this story.

The road to Oz, however, is indeed a "perilous journey," as noted in May's synchronistically read magazine, The Quest. May had to travel through the "eye of the tornado" to get to the "eyes of Sophia," just as Dorothy had to travel through the eye of the tornado to get to Oz. May had to first find a false answer to the meaning of her dreams just as Dorothy had to first find a false answer to her way home. It was only by continuing to trust and believe thereafter that each found their own truth. Each also had an outer-world guide to help them on their way. For Dorothy it was Glinda, the good witch of the north. For May it was Alice Howell, a Jungian scholar.

So where does Sophia fit into this story? Where is the wisdom, the divine logos in this erotic, romantic adventure? The answer is in the consciousness that May brought to her dreams and her quest. May paid as much attention to her waking dreams and active imagination, in Jungian terms, as to her REM dreams and unbidden emotions. She was aware of the perilous journey and the "dark night of the soul." She made no attempt to control, but only to understand. Therein lies the healing power of this story, and the creative power of love. By "believing in and consciously working with the Divine Influences," we co-create our own healing and our own destiny. So be it. Blessed be.

Darlene Viggiano, M.A., reviewer

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