The transcendent function comes in all sizes, from “aha” moments to epiphanies. A new orientation to a dilemma arrives unthought, recognized, and right. Perhaps there is a moment where loneliness gives way to solitude, or heartbreak yields to a larger sense of self. Apprehension of a new attitude–sunlight breaking through clouds–has overcome the impasse, bringing freshness, spaciousness and possibility.
Engaging the tension of an emotional struggle without giving in to premature, one-sided action can prepare the way for the unconscious to unite with consciousness. The transcendent function can also be sought through practicing active imagination or involvement in expressive arts, a practice Jung encouraged. He said that the transcendent function “is a way of attaining liberation by one’s own efforts and of finding the courage to be oneself.”
“I’m on black rocks, like volcanic lava black, and walking from the sea behind me towards the land. I’m with my husband. There’s a gap in the rocks–he goes to the left and I walk to the right. There is a channel of water between us. The channel gradually widens and I realize it will be difficult for us to cross it but we keep walking and then the rocks start to climb uphill but in such a way that we will not be able to cross over to each other. I say to my husband that we should cross now. I suggest that it will be easier for me to cross and I have found what looks like the narrowest part of the channel but then look to my right, and he has taken a giant step over at a wider spot and has reached my side but can’t hold on–his feet have reached the rocks and his hands are trying to hold on so he can climb up, but the rocks he catches in his hands are loose and start to come undone so he is going to fall backwards. But he somehow manages to hold on. But I am looking at him and then I see myself in the water beside him–I see my body fully clothed wearing black warm wintery clothes and I’m slowly sinking from the surface. My husband says to me (the me that is on the rocks standing looking at my husband and myself sinking), “I’ll just get you first” and he dives under the water and grabs me and tries to pass me up to myself. I realize I’m quite heavy and it’s awkward to heave my body up. Then I am no longer separated in two anymore and we go into a house and he goes for a shower and I realize I am wet and that I need to go for a shower.”