In the previous post I quoted Carl Jung as follows:
The churches stand for traditional and collective convictions which in the case of many of their adherents are no longer based on their inner experience but on unreflecting belief, which is notoriously apt to disappear as soon as one begins thinking about it. The content of belief then comes into collision with knowledge, and it often turns out that the irrationality of the former is no match for the ratiocinations of the latter. Belief is no adequate subsitute for inner experience, and where this is absent even a strong faith which came miraculously as a gift of grace may depart equally miraculously.
At the end I concluded, hopefully after building a halfway decent case, that:
…once the relationship between you and Spirit begins to solidify and expand the initial belief, that belief is transformed into inner experience where it transcends belief to become knowledge.
One of Jung’s major themes was the power of symbolism in the human psyche. A symbolic system provides a structure for belief. The mind automatically tries to interprete events to see whether or how they might affect the self, and this automatic evaluation is done even when the event happens to others. For this reason stories about events that happen to others (or even stories that are fictional) are evaluated by the mind almost as carefully as are incidents that you experience directly.
The part of the mind that does all this is the “schema”, first described in depth by Piaget and which was discussed briefly in Spirit of Consciousness part 2.
Within the schema are bedrock beliefs about oneself. It is from these “core beliefs” that our self image is generated. From within this structure, using Piaget’s terminology, events (or reports of events) are automatically examined to see whether we assimilate the news into our existing schema, or accomodate our schema to include events we weren’t prepared for or else had little information about. Or we could dismiss them entirely as either untrue or else as being meaningless to us.
Something feels meaningingful if it resonates with our personal schema; events that we do not regard as having anything to do with us will be acknolwedged as being part of the reality we live in, but not things that reflect in any way upon our selves.
Stories resonate with us when the events fit into our cognitive-emotional framework, i.e. we understand them both on a cognitive level and on an emotional level, and that is true regardless of whether the stories are news accounts or works of literature and fiction.