symbols and consciousness

This is a fun, short book on symbols that provides some very meaningful insights into the human journey of life.

A Little Bit of Symbols – An Introduction to Symbolism, by Henry Reed, PhD, copyright 2016, published by Sterling Ethos, 122 pages.



Here are the some of the ideas that we read of in the book or that the content of the book stimulated in my mind, in my thinking.  Symbols invite people to grow their consciousness by way of evolving along life’s journey.  Symbols can help or aid a person along a journey to spiritual maturity.  The interplay of opposites is necessary for awareness (also there is the subject/object dichotomy).  Symbols do not have fixed meanings.  You cannot simply consult a symbol “dictionary” or do a table lookup to find a symbol’s meaning.  (Symbols are more than mere sign posts; they hint at or guide one’s thinking to a larger reality/meaning.)  Symbols may have layers of meaning for the seeker.  Exploring or studying symbolism is, or can be a journey of self-discovery.  (Thus, the important factor is not the interpretation per se, but where the symbol takes us, i.e. to greater understanding.)  We may encounter symbols in our dreams.  Universal symbols are also archetypes and are revealed at times through synchronicity.  (We can and do experience these synchronicities at times in our everyday lives when events are such that these cannot be mere “coincidences”.)  The inner meaning of the symbol reflects the outer (external) relation or reality.

Even if you have read some of the work by Carl Jung on archetypes and the collective unconscious, and/or have read some of Joseph Campbell’s books, this short introduction to symbols is helpful in tying together many related threads for the reader.  The writing style is easy to read and non-technical.  The page count does not reflect that there are many pages that show symbols and these pages are without much text, thus the book is shorter and easier to read than it first appears to be.  We recommend it for the interested and for the general reader.

We now offer some relevant quotes from the book to complete our review of it.

From page 31 we read:

Symbolism tells the story about something that is invisible to the eye, somewhat insubstantial yet available to our feeling within, or intuition.  Symbolism tells the story about what it’s like to become aware as a living being within a physical world.

From page 106 we read:

The mandala is a symbol of getting it all together through the integration of the opposites.  It is a soul print upon the human mind of the universal source of our design, uniquely expressed in an individual life.

On page 111 we read:

A spiritual framework for contemplating life provides a very helpful context for engaging dream work and exploring symbolism.  Perhaps the most general trend today in that regard would be that of integral philosophy.  . . . .  In this view, consciousness is the driver of evolution, which occurs through the integration of new awareness into current consciousness.  Creation seems to intend to become conscious of itself.  This dynamic shows up in later-stage human development as the drive to expand awareness to include a feeling of intimate oneness with all that is.

On page 112 we read:

. . . .  Dreaming is a state of consciousness not limited by the dualistic focus of physical, sensory consciousness.  Dreaming is a resource that serves the goal of evolution of consciousness in the context of the physical/social constraints humans confront.

From page 114 we read:

. . . .  The study of symbolism, if it is to be personally meaningful and constructive, is truly an adventure in growth and discovery, just like a flower blossoming.  It’s hard to understand the river’s wisdom from the shore; better to step into the flow.  . . . .


copyright 2018 –


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