Fascination: The Oldest Form of Healing

Oblate School of Theology

By Dr. Steven Chase,  Professor of Spirituality for the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Spirituality at Oblate School of Theology.

Originally Published on the Oblate School of Theology Blog

The founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, once said, “Fascination is the oldest form of healing.” That little phrase has always been a fascination for me. With a little stillness, open-heartedness, and gratitude, fascination is always nearby. Search and find something fascinating, something of wonder, something calling you into gratitude, and undergo a transformation that creates a kind of sixth sense through which healing can flow and enter. Jung went on to say, “The oldest form of fascination is the world,” meaning by “world” the earth and the cosmos as he knew it at the time. The word “fascination” as Jung intended it is omnipresent, unceasing in its ability to cultivate wonder and multi-faceted in its capacity to heal body and soul.

Try it.

If you do try it you will find that it is difficult not to experience the medication of fascination… if you pay attention. Paying attention, being present to what is going on around you, cultivating a capacity for surprise: these are the “tricks” of fascination. For instance, watch a little red-winged bird with intention, stillness, silence, and mindfulness and you will experience the blessed ease of living in a world of fascination. Fascination is what a bee has for a flower and the wonder a flower has for the bee. Fascination is like imagining silence as a field of soil. Fascination is the moon, and intimacy abides in fascination as does an aptitude for gratitude.

In fact, we can develop the healing power of fascination through the practice of gratitude. One way to do this is to utter short prayers of gratitude, whatever comes to mind or heart: pray, “I am grateful for breath,” “I am grateful for these clothes,” “I am grateful for that tree and the way the wind moves and shapes it,”  “I am grateful for light,” “I am grateful for my daughter,” “I am grateful for rivers and stones, “I am grateful for my sunglasses,” “I am grateful for spring,” “I am grateful for this bowl of strawberries,” or “I am grateful for that smile” – anything. As you see, to be grateful does not mean you need to bend down on knees (though you could) and think of the greatest thing in the universe…”I am grateful for your eyes.” Do this for as long as you like. As you begin to give attention to the world around you, you will find that gratitude becomes a cornerstone of fascination. “I am grateful for fascination.”  But we need to accumulate wonder about or simply name what we are grateful for in order to let the fascination in gratitude, wonder, and attention begin to heal.

“Fascination is a kind of soul logic on the move.”

Fascination is a kind of soul logic on the move. We are all aware of what we call cognitive logic. Cognitive logic seeks ways of thinking and asking questions whose answers are in the form of “yes” or “no” and “right” or “wrong”. Answers to these questions are not, in themselves, without value. Cognitive logic gives us science, technology, economics, and more. These can heal but the healing is never whole or “holistic”. The methods of such healing is often ancient, but compared to the ancient capacity of medicinal fascination they are really quite young and their tactics are not intended to last forever. With cognitive logic there is always a new “yes” or a new “right” or “wrong.” It is as if cognitive logic loses itself in labyrinths of present strategies only.

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