Back to Basics

In 1912, Einstein introduced his theory of special relativity. One experiment he devised to test his intuition that time and space might be relative to the observer was surprisingly simple:

He set two cameras at either end of a train platform. A car was prepared so that a small explosion triggered at the mid-point of the platform, and the cameras then photographed the explosion at the instant of its detonation. The exact times were recorded at each location; a difference was found between them.

We’re familiar with the impact Einstein’s theories had on science. He proved that time and space are relative to the observer and also to motion. He revolutionized existing conceptions of energy and paved the way for modern technology.

In the same year, C.G. Jung introduced his theory of psychic energy: an analogy of Einstein’s physical discoveries. He showed that perception is relative to the individual; that our human objectivity is not what it appears to be. His ‘subjective factor‘ is still little acknowledged today even by psychology, much less science, a century since. Each in his own field showed that any depth perspective of nature is counter-intuitive.

Einstein’s later theory of general relativity turned Newton’s assumptions about gravity upside down. He proved that the gravitational effect of a body in space is proportional to its mass; that its effects are not immediate but relative to the speed of light. Jung’s studies of complexes again had remarkable similarities with the physical concepts. 

The mass, or value, of a complex of ideas determines the gravitational effects of an instinctual function. The more vital the function, the more its energy draws psychic material to it, creating a complex of emotionally charged associations. Though the function itself is common to all, its subjective value is relative to the individual, and this general principle is borne out by experience:

So much so that the idea of complexes is now used in everyday speech. One may have a ‘power complex’ or an ‘inferiority complex’ or a ‘sexual complex’. It’s part of what makes us unique; a visible form of psychic energy which is expressed in symbols or symbolic behavior.

Jung showed how images reflect natural functions; that the unconscious psyche expresses them in this symbolic picture-language. Much as one might interpret an unknown language through the comparative analysis of the associations and context of certain words and ideas, he discovered basic themes which recur in the myths and symbols of all people. These analogies reflect our common structure.

Personal values both conceal and reveal the dual nature of symbols according to individual disposition. More general perspectives are partially determined by a favored subjective function such as thinking or feeling, and also by the attitude-type. In the extraverted type, the weight of value lies in the external world. In the introvert, the accent is on the internal ‘object’. These, combined with the unique nature of consciousness, are the pre-conditions of perception. 

It’s not exactly a paradox that physical discoveries and their psychic parallels are so unevenly acknowledged. The complexities of self-observation depend on laws which are just as objective as those governing any natural process; but because the subjective mind is unique, they can only be inferred through a process of self-analysis in which the unconscious supplies the objective material for comparison. Few outside observers have the ability beyond their own projections to evaluate the effects of individual development.

Jung’s concepts were as revolutionary as Einstein’s. They’re even more vital in the wake of technological advancements. The quantum physicist is motivated by the same human fears and insecurities as in biblical times — but can he conceive a psychological equivalent of ‘E=MC²’? (Maybe: Psychic energy=concrete thought x the evolution of consciousness²?)

The rational perspective only magnifies the split between an artificial reality and an unconscious psychic one which would guide us in a natural direction. That nature’s inborn wisdom exceeds conscious knowledge is apparent to a reflective mind. But, the ego-projections behind ideological and political disputes make science and technology as dangerous as it is productive. Where is the science of the mind?

Ego-psychologies based on collective norms have failed to deliver. The tension between conscious and unconscious has now reached epic proportions. There are special reasons for this which standardized methods can’t address. That spiritual reflection might be as basic a demand as biological and social ones is beyond their purview.

Spiritual development, the extension of consciousness and not just intellect,  is opposed to the world of the senses; it’s that opposition we’re facing now. Jung conceived a model over a century ago which outlined our modern conflicts. To make any sense of them requires psychological knowledge and reflection, not just conscious belief or rational assumption. 

Jung demonstrated that the religious factor is a vital human function. Has it just disappeared, or have the symbols changed form? The old religion was ineffective to the extent that ego identified with its own compensations. Do we think we understand what that means and what it’s for any more than what E=MC² means to the inner beast that exploits the knowledge in it? 

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Psychic Relativity

Science has proven that nature operates by the law of opposites. Jung based his psychology on that basic fact, and alchemy provided much philosophical material for his research.

It’s best illustrated by analogy, and Goethe was a master of its poetic form. His story of Faust, the alchemical doctor who confronted his inner opposite in a ‘pact with the Devil’, was a continuation of the symbolic tale of conscious development which earlier appeared in Job:

The bargain between Jehovah and Satan foreshadowed a personal dialogue with the spirit in which consciousness began to take an active role. Developmentally, it meant a capacity for choice, to question and doubt —  even the authority of God, so that man could participate in his own fate.

The depth of Goethe’s experience was described by Jung as a spiritual advance; a foreshadowing of the religious task confronting modern man. As with Job, a new perspective of the inner world and the personal responsibility it carries with it, means a confrontation with collective values.

Faust’s inner journey begins when rational thought no longer serves the purposes of development. He feels the dark influence of the earthly spirit: “No dog could live thus any more!/So I have turned to magic lore…” It signals the mid-life stage when the paradox of individuality asserts itself.

The spirit’s energy exceeds consciousness; as it steadily accumulates over the first half of life, it can be frightening when it first emerges: this spirit confronts Faust as he reflects on the the depth of its symbol: “…what a pitiable fright/Grips thee, thou Superman! Where is the soul elated?/Where is the breast that in its self a world created?/… Is it thou, who by my breath surrounded,/In all the deeps of being art confounded?

This inner challenge is not a one-time experience; it informs a subtle invasion of consciousness that makes Faust question the primacy of collective values. The creative power continues to work in him as he strolls home with Wagner, his rational counterpart. Suddenly, a black dog appears and circles around them curiously. Faust senses a strange connection to his dark preoccupations:

He seems in magic nooses to be sweeping/Around our feet, a future snare to bind.” The rational part sees only the thing itself, and Wagner responds: “I see he doubts, he’s timidly around us leaping/Two strangers — not his master — does he find.” Faust perceives its symbolic portent: “The circle narrows, he’s already near!” Wagner can’t see it: “You see a dog. It is no spectre here.

Faust befriends the black dog and lays a cushion for it behind the stove in his study. He begins translating the Bible into his beloved German. He ponders the first line, ‘In the beginning was the Word’ and concludes: “It seems impossible the Word so high to prize, I must translate it otherwise.

So begins Faust’s confrontation with traditional religious philosophy. The black dog begins to sniff and snarl behind the stove. Suddenly, it swells into a terrifying beast in a cloud of smoke, red eyes glowing through the mist. Faust casts a spell, and out of the vapor steps Mephistopheles (he with the cloven hoof) dressed as a scholar. Faust asks who he is:

Mephistopheles:The question seems but cheap/For one who for the Word has such contempt,/Who from all outward show is quite exempt/And only into beings would delve deep.” Faust senses his uncanny power and again asks who he is:

“Mephistopheles.  Part of that Power which would/The Evil ever do and  ever does the Good./Faust.  A riddle! Say what it implies! /Mephistopheles.  I am the Spirit that denies!”                                                          

Faust is confused: “You call yourself a part, yet whole you’re standing there.” Mephistopheles: “A modest truth do I declare./A man, the microcosmic fool, down in his soul/Is wont to think himself a whole.

He explains: “… part of the Part of Darkness which gave birth to Light“; the ‘haughty’ light which ‘disputes the ancient rank of its mother’, the unconscious guiding principle which Faust’s rationalism has attracted through the “chance” meeting with the earthly, animal spirit.

Goethe’s intuitive nature met the spirit through the inner opposite; a profound increase in man’s moral awareness: the recognition of two opposed yet related principles which Christian philosophy has divided into two irreconcilable halves. A new stage of psychic evolution was forming. 

The identification of good with conscious desire and evil with the fear of what opposes it results only in unconsciousness. That they’re two side of the same coin is not only a paradox of the unconscious psyche but of life itself. 

The world is smaller today even than in Jung’s time; the more pressurized and compact technology makes it, the greater our adverse impact. The damage we’ve done to our environment in just the last century seems only to predict a darker future than any past history has seen.

I read an interview with Stephen Hawking in which he said that man’s future is in space; that we must accustom ourselves to the idea that we will one day live on a distant planet. He was as convinced of it as any religious zealot’s dissociated ego-projections into the unknown.

Who would want to live on a dead planet in a plexi-glass bubble, subject to a mass of artificial contraptions contrived to keep you alive? What would it say of us to have sacrificed the beauty and mystery of a living Eden for the dry, arid pursuit of a dissociated intellect — and for not much more than self-worship and the projected fear of our own natures? Which witch is which?

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Image, Symbol, and Function

Because a limited will only partially creates our conditions, the deeper effects of our actions are shrouded by the veil of conscious intent. We also react to inner circumstances which are just as real as the outer ones, unseen by the fascination with the sensual and concrete. What we see and what we can’t see are determined by the concepts which shape our perceptions. A different… view is required to grasp the effects of the psychic reality we can’t see: a symbolic one.“ – A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious

Four hundred years ago, the facts of a heliocentric universe were empirically established. Though the science of the time proved it beyond doubt, it was not generally accepted for several generations. 

Two centuries ago, Darwin introduced another idea which shook collective views — one still not accepted by many: that the human animal is a product of natural history and not ego-assumptions. His intuitive ideas of adaptation through form and function, natural images previously distorted by religious projections, were confirmed scientifically by observation and comparison.

A hundred years ago, Freud introduced clinical evidence of an unconscious mind. In contrast to prevailing medical views, he applied his observations to the subtle complexities of the psyche.

Fifty years ago, Carl Jung established a body of empirical facts which proved that our views of ego-consciousness are dangerously over-estimated. One of his most important contributions was the idea of symbolic thinking. His in-depth studies of symbols followed directly from his own psychic experiences, and through them he discovered a wealth of information previously hidden in the peculiar language of the so-called primitive psyche.

That the unconscious was seen as primitive in the negative sense was due not only to Freud’s influence in the early years of psychoanalysis but to the role generally ascribed to consciousness. The mind of that time couldn’t imagine that thought was not its own arbiter. Freud showed clinically that it wasn’t — at least not in ‘neurotics’. Psychology was for those who were ‘sick’ or had special weaknesses. Jung challenged the assumption by proving psychic experience to be relative to the individual – often contrary to social labels and expectations.

Freud’s philosophy, while acknowledging an unconscious mind, considered it a kind of crude inheritance which modern man would soon overcome by a superior intellect. He theorized ‘archaic vestiges’ as primitive relics which consciousness had outgrown the need for; though the conflicts they created couldn’t be denied.

As a result, concepts of unconscious mental functioning were slow to develop. Our egocentric notions of who and what we are were again threatened. Though men have always thought they knew what they were doing, yet they haven’t — the very idea of an unconscious psyche contradicted it.

Our views of ourselves have been forged mainly by such inflated self-opinions. An honest examination of history confirms our possession by them. Unbiased observation and evaluation by those who thought outside that mold has provided overwhelming evidence for it.

As Jung’s historical setting required a model that grew out of medical pathology, the conflicts of development were initially seen as ‘diseases.’ They were certainly outside the collective norm of the time, but that they might be the inner demands of a transitional stage of consciousness had yet to be conceived.

Without concepts of unconscious psychic functions — their opposition and their purposes — how else could the seeds of inner development appear to a collective ego based on causality but as diseases? Jung showed conclusively that the psyche is purposive as well; causality only half the picture.

Today, the material philosophy of an objective science is the possession of all — while consciousness remains the creation of an instinctual psyche whose symbolic language has evolved for the purposes of Nature; ego but another idol in the dark strivings of a human-like animal who would have ‘god-like’ qualities, yet for two thousand years has been unable to see through the curtain of its own subjective image enough to truly pursue them.

Jung wrote that sooner or later we’ll discover that consciousness has evolved for higher purposes than itself; obscured in the analogies of ‘primitive’ images which are forward oriented but require reflection to perceive. The guiding principle of instinct, in outright opposition to ego’s own over-valuation, now works against us with the same fury of our resistance. 

We can no longer pretend that we know who or what God is. Because we rarely reflect on anything beyond ourselves, that opposite now confronts us. What are the dual purposes of ‘god’ and ‘devil’? The modern task of consciousness is to reflect on the images that would orient us to a bi-polar inner reality and not the literal and one-sided ego-fantasies we’ve so far constructed in the outer world; to reflect on why we’re here and for what.

You may read a review of my book here.

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The Psychological Value of Guilt

Consciousness as a spiritual principle has created a counter-pole to natural, instinctive animal function. Duality, dissociation, and repression have been born in the human psyche simultaneously with the birth of consciousness. This means… that consciousness in order to exist in its own right must, initially at least, be antagonistic to the unconscious… The innate and necessary stages of psychic development require a polarization of the opposites, conscious vs. unconscious, spirit vs. nature.” — Edward Edinger

Webster’s defines guilt as: “Remorseful awareness of having done something wrong or having failed to do something required or expected.” More than just a social mechanism, Jung saw it as a function of relationship which works in two directions.

Even as Webster’s relates it to awareness, so guilt has also the dual function of connecting to an inner reality. Such unconscious conflicts are catalysts for growth from birth; though at mid-life, an increasing psychic horizon reveals them (in the reflective mind, at least) to be religious problems.

Even if you were profoundly devoted to the collective spiritual assumptions you inherited, they were as much wishful fantasies as unconscious intuitions. Goethe said of conventional religion: “So much of hidden poison lies therein, you scarce can tell it from its medicine.”

Though, maybe you were irreligious — either way you’ll be confronted with the relative nature of personal/collective guilt. The modern transition to science and rational thought only brings into relief the grandiose philosophical ideas we’ve manufactured of this business of religion and ego; and guilt remains the spiritual compensation for the Original Sin of self-idolatry and our presumed dominion over nature.

Joseph Campbell illustrated the link between guilt and unconscious demands: instinct concentrated primitive energies for a hunt, for instance, through rituals. Their dual purpose also required their performance afterward. The instinct to kill was necessary for survival, but a natural regulating function was needed to balance it; guilt was the psychic check on blind aggression.

The ritual neutralized it. Nature takes only what it needs: the innate balancing function of life itself. The story of the Garden symbolized the unconscious guilt inherent in the conflict of opposites on the more conscious plane of a religious problem:

In, Ego and Archetype, Edinger wrote: ”The myth of the fall expresses a pattern and a process… that one must go through in one form or another with every new increment of consciousness… being bitten by a snake… has the same meaning that the succumbing to the temptation of the serpent in the Garden of Eden had for Adam and Eve; namely, that an old state of affairs is being lost and a new conscious insight is being born.

Edinger confirmed Campbell’s insight through the blood of Christ in the ritual of communion: it’s “… the covenant-sealing quality which binds man to God… it cleanses from sin… releases one from unconscious guilt. Also it is said to sanctify which… would suggest… the sacred or archetypal dimension into personal consciousness.

But, what does that mean in the modern shift from irrational to rational? To the “new conscious insight being born” today? Erich Neumann wrote in his, Depth Psychology and a New Ethic:

This split between the world of ethical values in the conscious mind and a value-negating, anti-ethical world in the unconscious which has to be suppressed or repressed generates guilt feelings… and accumulations of blocked energies in the unconscious.  Naturally, these are now hostile to the conscious attitude, and when they finally burst their dams they are capable of transforming human history into an unprecedented orgy of destruction.

The image of guilt reveals why there should be such a world lurking beneath conscious ideals. When the “polarization of opposites” reaches a tension that must be released (think war), its unchecked nature means the instinctual counter-pole has turned reason to its own demands. Much of our energy is spent trying to resolve the ideological projections which, without reflection, can no longer match the unconscious consequences of technology. Neumann:

The guilt-feeling based on… the shadow is discharged… in the same way in both the individual and the collective… by the phenomenon of… projection. The shadow, which is in conflict with the acknowledged values, cannot be accepted as a negative part of one’s own psyche and is… transferred to the outside world and experienced as an outside object. It is combated, punished, and exterminated as the “alien out there” instead of being dealt with as “one’s own inner problem”.”

The old ethic (and the new scientific one, too; for the purposes of the old one have not been reflected), the shadow, the guilt, the repressed longing (the natural facts of instinct) are symbolized as a “pact with the Devil” — an image Goethe seized upon in Faust – foreshadowing our modern predicament. He described a consciousness on the threshold of a new insight:

He asks of heaven every fairest star,                                                                                    And of the earth each highest zest,                                                                                         But all things near and all things far                                                                     Cannot appease his deeply troubled breast.”                                                                  

For an interesting look at guilt and the modern religious problem, read more here, or visit Amazon.

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The Conscious Perception of Opposites

“Beneath our scientific preoccupations, we remain in the stage of psychological awareness reflected in our religious heritage. Behind the curtain of moral judgment lurk the split figures of good and evil: a model of how we relate to our unconscious natures. Jung has described how those ideas reflect the positive and negative poles necessary to produce psychic energy: the sliding scale along which consciousness fluctuates in its on-going efforts to define itself. Just as it forms the path of collective history, so in the growth of the individual in the first half of life, the repression of the unconscious required for ego to strengthen and develop now creates circumstances which signal the need for a new relation to it — to balance conscious direction; to relate it, make it relative to the counter-pole of inner development.” — A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious.

The world today is in crisis. Though the Western mind has pursued it unaware for millennia, it has now created a dangerous tipping point. As we continue to live out the unconscious myth of God-likeness, so we make illusions of our highest ideals. We don’t know what Nature’s purposes are, but the conscious assumption is clear: “We would be as Gods”; whether knowing good and evil is not so certain.

The unconscious counter-pole (the inner value) which defines what we do that we don’t know we’re doing is a recent insight that goes deeper than ego and intellect. That we’re driven to subjugate nature is plain: it’s the law of ego-compensation, and all our creativity and resources are devoted to it. That it threatens to destroy us, we’re coming to understand but lack the self-knowledge to stop it.

It’s not as if the warning signs appeared out of nowhere with modern technology. The primitive nature of our destructive capacity is only brought into relief by it. But, if we would indeed be God-like in our self-appointed dominion over the earth, a more comprehensive view of life seems worth the effort.

Historically, we’ve given much lip-service to the biblical parables that describe the roots of our problems. Man’s hubris is a major theme of myth and religion. Ego-inflation is a dangerous form of possession. Intellectually, we may know that, but without higher values, ego is blind to itself.

Whatever truths the old religion holds, the contradictions are too transparent for modern sensibilities. Maybe the old adages only echo the hypocrisies of the past. But, if we reflect on our history with the new insights available, we may relate to some of the old truths we’ve left behind. Jung’s discussion of this parable from the Koran is found in his, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, from which the following quotes are taken:

The story concerns Moses’ life-quest for meaning, as he related to his servant: “I will not cease from my wanderings until I reach the place where the two seas meet… though I journey for eighty years.” They reach their ostensible goal only to discover that a mishap has occurred. Moses said: “Bring us our breakfast, for we are weary from this journey.

But the other replied, “See what has befallen me! When we were resting… I forgot the fish. Only Satan can have put it out of my mind, and in wondrous fashion, it took its way to the sea… Moses said: “That is the place we seek… and they went back the way they had come...”

We get an idea here of how the unconscious operates. Leaving things behind is a motif that expresses the progression and regression involved in the stages of development. Consciousness can’t see beyond its own state, and the end-purpose appears first as Satan — but later proves to be indiscernible from the God-image:

And they found one of Our servants, whom we had endowed with Our grace and… wisdom. Moses said to him: “Shall I follow you that you may teach me for my guidance… the wisdom you have learnt?

“But he answered: “You will not bear with me, for how should you bear patiently with things you cannot comprehend?”… Moses said: “If Allah wills, you shall find me patient; I shall not… disobey you…” He said: “If you are bent on following me, you must ask no questions… till I myself speak to you concerning it…”

“The two set forth, but as soon as they embarked, Moses’ companion bored a hole in the bottom of the ship “A strange thing you have done!” exclaimed Moses. “Is it to drown her passengers that you have bored a hole…?

Did I not tell you,” he replied, “that you would not bear with me?”… “Pardon my forgetfulness,” said Moses. “Do not be angry with me…“ They journeyed on until they fell in with a certain youth. Moses’ companion slew him, and Moses said: “You have killed an innocent man, who has done no harm. Surely you have committed a wicked crime.

Did I not tell you,” he replied, “that you would not bear with me?” Moses said, “If ever I question you again, abandon me; for then I should deserve it.

They travelled on until they reached a certain city. They asked the people for some food, but they declined… There they found a wall on the point of falling down. The other raised it up, and Moses said: “Had you wished, you could have demanded payment for your labors.

Now the time has arrived when we must part,” said the other. “But first I will explain those acts… which you could not bear with in patience… Know that the ship belonged to some poor fisherman. I damaged it because in their rear was a king who was taking every ship by force.” (Elsewhere, Jung described how a fisherman happened upon them, rescued them, and took them to the city.)

As for the youth, his parents are true believers, and we feared lest he should plague them with his wickedness and unbelief. It was our wish that their Lord should grant them another… more righteous and more filial.

“As for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys… whose father was an honest man. Your Lord decreed… that they should dig out their treasure when they grew to manhood. What I did was not done by caprice. That is the meaning of the things you could not bear with in patience.

For a modern, poetic experience of the confrontation with the opposites from a psychological angle, click here, or visit Amazon.

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The Mystery of the God-Image

God goes on working as before, like an unknown quantity in the depths of the psyche. We do not even know the nature of the simplest thought, let alone the ultimate principles of the psyche. Also, we have no control over its inner life. Because this inner life is intrinsically free and not subject to our will and intentions, it may easily happen that the living thing chosen and defined by us will drop out of its setting… even against our will. Then perhaps we could say with Nietzsche, “God is dead.” Yet it is truer to say, “He has put off our image, and where shall we find him again?” The interregnum is full of danger, for the natural facts will raise their claim in the form of various isms which are productive of nothing but anarchy and destruction because inflation and man’s hybris… have elected to make the ego, in all its ridiculous paltriness, lord of the universe.” – Carl Jung

As consciousness evolves, so do our notions of the deity. Science has exposed His heavenly abode as an intensely violent process of destruction and creation which, though beautiful to behold from a distance, is so inimical to life as we know it that it took the mystery of Nature to round out a special sphere for its evolution. So perfectly ordered is it, so unfathomable, that only the idea of a deity can express it. But, never mind that:

Science is a function of intellect; a uniquely subjective form of objectivity which views life in rational terms. So dissociated is modern thought that God has all but disappeared; a de-personalized consciousness has no feeling for the mysteries of a higher inner power. ‘Intelligent design’ is the new impersonal God of Intellect; material reality filtered through secret ego-images, just as the older spiritual truths were. To re-vision a truer image of life is to incorporate both:

The masculinity once ascribed to Him is no longer tenable. Our genetic make-up dictates that at least a partial aspect of the god-image exists in a man as woman and in a woman as man. Our tenuous identification with gender is based on the preponderance of only one chromosome out of the twenty-three in each cell. A more objective assessment asserts a bisexual nature. Without a concept of the sexes as psychic functions, we lack the tools to balance our natures.

Gene-comparisons of humans and primates have proven to be nearly identical — another aspect of the deity which is as animal as it is human. Egocentric notions of consciousness and deep-seated hostilities toward nature are an affront to life. The technological achievements of the last century require a reappraisal of our relations to animals and our mutual environment.

The role ascribed to genes has shifted the old view, but what we don’t know about them is likewise a god-like quality — another aspect of the elusive spirit which is innate in the very sinews of the body. Considered psychologically, their ultimate purpose and meaning in the heart and soul are beyond objective evaluation.

Matter has been shown to be unimaginably active on the subatomic scale; as if it, too, were animated by a living force. Life exists in the very fabric of the universe — waiting for the proper conditions to become manifest. Our notions of organic and inorganic are incomplete.

The recent reference to a “God-particle“ as a complete physical picture of the universe describes the mystery of psychic wholeness and scientific hubris in two succinct words. Consciousness can only infer a whole from its parts, and physical descriptions relate only to material reality. Without psychological insight, such focus only further alienates us from the human condition.

We have little sense today of the god-image as a function of relationship. Our psychological history is as dead as a textbook. The living psyche is viewed as an animal in a zoo. Self-knowledge is not just biology, anthropology, or the flight of consciousness. Our animal, religious, and philosophical history is who we are.

Objective science only accentuates the profound conflicts ego has always had with this image. The functions defined by our history are as alive in the psyche today as they ever were; the medieval star-gazer, the primitive beast-killer, are still-living realities. We readily see these qualities in ourselves if we’re honest.

As irrational factors, accident and chance comprise another partial aspect of the deity. Our interactions in the world, how we differ, conform, for what purposes and motives, in what unknown circumstances, and with what unforeseeable consequences, are how the spirit works unconsciously.

History shows conflict to be the way of development. To decipher the projections of inner conflict onto outer circumstances is to re-connect with another image of the deity. The major problems today come less from without than within, our survival as a race threatened largely by ego-concerns: compensations as natural and objective as the laws regulating the universe.

Jung’s comparative approach is the only science which describes the living vitality of the psyche’s historical reality. Its language is as old as life and comes straight from the only source of the deity with which we have direct contact: the creative unconscious. The picture of who we are is hidden there. Jung discovered a way to access it; perhaps at a time when we need it most.

For an example of how Jung’s work may be applied personally, click here.


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The Law of Opposites

“Today, our… natures are reflected in division, diversion, disorientation, suggestibility, a longing to adhere to a cause or “ism” or to be contained within the security of a social, political, or religious system which no longer serves the aims of psychic development. Traditional symbols and their interpretations are quickly losing relevance, and the older orientation becomes increasingly ineffective as a check against our animal natures. The “beast within” must be re-interpreted to stimulate a new image which would more adequately express the changing relations with the unconscious. Without its symbols to attract consciousness to goals beyond its own desires, the deeper designs of instinct are projected onto external circumstances and often lead to the violent acting out of what is ultimately a psychological/spiritual conflict.” — A Mid-Life Perpsective: Conversations With The Unconscious.

The world today is a very dangerous place. All perceive themselves as reasonable in the bubbles of their personal lives; yet even those who may legitimately lay claim to such a lofty notion will be forced to admit an all-consuming participation in the destruction of the planet. Collectively, we’re the greatest threat to our own survival, and it would seem important to understand why we’re doing what we’re doing. Without those insights, we can’t stop. To that end, I return to the intuitive ideas in Philip Wylie’s, Essay on Morals, published in 1947:

… Jung’s theory of the law which governs instinctual activity… he calls the “law of opposites” — taking the phrase from Oriental philosophy, which has assumed for thousands of years that man obeys compulsions of Nature rather than the immediate dictates of his reason and will.

“The “law of opposites” is nothing more (or less!) than the hypothesis that compensation, complement, and conservation operate subjectively just as they do in the objective world. For every instinct put to conscious use by man — or society — there exists a potential force, equal, opposed, and unconscious, unless the individual (or the group) recognizes the dual nature of instinct.

Our antagonism to Nature is an historical given — it’s a force greater than we can conceive; to protect ourselves from its destructive effects requires tremendous effort. But, our fears and inferiorities in the face of it have produced unconscious ego-reactions that have spiraled out of control. Those compensations form the split that defines the opposition of our inner natures. Wylie:

In physics, this compares with the simple law of action and reaction and resembles the thermodynamic concepts… in psychology, this is a much subtler postulate to catch on to — and far more difficult for Occidental man because he has been brought up to imagine no such law could possibly exist. He believes he is reasonable and when his behavior is otherwise, shrugs it off either unexplained or labeled “irrational.”

 ”We are barely beginning to perceive “opposites” empirically… But nowadays we do know (for example) that the consuming love of a mother may become a hateful instrument for the ruin of her beloved. We have found out that intense pacifism at home abets scornful militarism abroad. We may soon find out… that a nervous militarism at home destroys the liberty it was designed to protect… These are examples of compensations along several levels of instinct.

But that for every prompting we obey, the risk of opposite result is set up, few Western men are willing to consider in relation to themselves. It shakes every pretension… To a pragmatic, positvistic, materialistic “civilization” it proposes — for instance — that orientation toward objects has put the whole subjective nature of society in jeopardy. We may go mad — or be mad.

But, a subjective mind can’t measure its own “madness” objectively. That “we are barely beginning to perceive “opposites” empirically” is in itself an insight. That consciousness is in conflict with itself and its own nature (and always has been in some projected form) is psychologically indisputable today in the light of Jung’s discoveries.

Contemporary man does perceive to some degree that what he calls “ethics” or… “morality,” or, perhaps, his “social science,” must now “catch up with material power and know-how.” But he hardly conceives that his current subjective chaos is the inevitable consequence of a psychological law of compensation — that he is paying in world-wide hostility, rage, frustration and fear for his long, conscious concentration on objects, at vast cost to any realistic awareness of, dedication to, or even development of, his subjective life.

The only way a subjective mind may glimpse it’s own objective nature is by the consequences of its actions. If we can’t admit them and rationalize them away, we make victims not only of ourselves but of all life — a sad testament to Nature’s experiment of a conscious animal.

(For a real wake-up call, visit Peter Jeanmaire’s website. Click on Englisch and read the two pdf articles. If you prefer to ignore our prediament, don’t click here.)


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Statistics and the Subjective Mind

The individual is the only real carrier of life.” — Carl Jung

The undeniable fact that the body is regulated by nature, along with the absurd idea that humans had otherwise freed themselves from the bondage of instinct, dominated psychology throughout most of the last century. That view loosely fit together certain facts while ignoring others. Such self-inflated notions were not seen as projections of a split condition — nor are they much more acknowledged today.

The complicated nature of its own subjectivity pushed psychology to statistical measurement in an attempt to apply the scientific method. The idea was that emotions could be studied rationally — like objects. The studies did reveal certain strained facts, though many were based on assumptions which only obscured the very processes they tried to illuminate. Fundamental questions as to how the mind worked were thought to have been answered.

But, the scientization of the psyche quickly turned into a paradox. Because the material view saw physical processes as primary, it was forced to concede certain euphemistic ‘drives’ and ‘reflexes’; though because consciousness was no longer presumed to be subject to natural laws, instinct was denied. Observations were unconsciously influenced by subjective assumptions that had been argued for centuries but which history was also refuted.  

Statistics would resolve the contradictions by providing objective data, though it lacked the concepts to evaluate the unconscious processes which influenced their interpretation. Appraisals, based on biology and rationalized by ego, conceived the psyche as secondary, yet consciousness as somehow primary — with no real evidence to support either.

To separate mind and body for purposes of examination was necessary, but its literal conception created contradictions which could only be seen in terms of either/or but not both. What was philosophical speculation was thought to be objective — each partial truth supported by a partial fact.

Notions of free will, self-determination, and the independence of consciousness coexisted with the primacy of physical processes with no functions to mediate them. It was as if thought ruled itself, and the body was a separate entity that intruded only under pathological conditions.

Depression, obsessions, compulsive behaviors, and their origins and effects were treated as physiological problems, since no unconscious mental processes were admitted into its view. Instinctive psychic functions were reduced to biology. The partial explanations piled up with no threads to connect them.

Since the unconscious psyche wasn’t directly observable and expressed its reality through diffuse and contradictory images, logical methods could not be applied to inner experience. Science knew only a causal, material truth; religious ideas became mere fantasies. Unaware of the symbols hidden in its own images, it was fixed on a consciously conceived external reality.

Pre-conceived rationalizations filled the void of projection; all contrary evidence was dismissed, theory accepted as fact. The semi-conscious images beneath the assumptions — the historical nature of all things psychic — were ignored.

The psychological relations between image and object were invisible to a concrete science; the projected inner experience reflected in religious images rejected as meaningless. It was the mind/body equation in symbolic form. Without a concept of unconscious functioning, image and object formed an irreconcilable pair of opposites, much as Aristotle and Plato argued.

Jung showed that the causal viewpoint was only half the picture; that the two worlds of experience couldn’t be evaluated in the same terms. Religious images contained descriptions, not of external reality, but of an objective inner reality that subjective interpretation can only approximate.

He described the fundamental problem with the statistical view: if there are a hundred pebbles, and the average weight of each pebble is .5 grams, there may not be a single pebble which weighs .5 grams. If there is, it’s no less an exception, and the exception becomes the rule. The focus is on the sameness of the pebbles, though it is nowhere apparent; more importantly, their differences disappear. Thought distorts the natural picture to conform to its preconceptions.

In this sense, statistics is an extension of our historical way of thinking. Christ represented a collective ideal, a model Christians strove to emulate. He seems to have been the only pebble in the lot which conformed to this picture (a profound symbol of the individual), yet viewed concretely, he appears only as an inflated, inhuman ideal, an image of conscious desire.

Statistics establishes standards which may broadly orient thought, yet the ideals they represent remain collective assumptions which not only do not acknowledge individual qualities, they devalue the human nature beneath them. The reality of the exception is a universal truth as well: the subjective sense of identity through which we all operate.

In psychology, statistical evaluation is subject to unknown factors in addition to the increasing welter of known ones which must be excluded for the purposes of isolating those for study (the nature of consciousness). The selection of which factors to observe is an assignment of value by the investigator. Value judgments are personal, emotional prejudices which are then infused into the studies.

Interpretations are further removed from objectivity, not just because of their isolation from a living context and the guise of subjective value-judgments, but the unconscious factors inherent in the initial assumptions. Though they may yield certain facts in a prescribed and limited way, they give little information about how we experience life as individuals. 

Statistics lead back to standardized formulas which only reinforce our collective natures and ignore individual truth. Such a model is the most unachievable by the average it was meant to reflect; the psyche fades into the background — lost in the paradox of rules, exceptions, and false ideals.

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Science and Religion in a World of Confusion

The emotional confusion generated by… a major shift in values is only enhanced today by a profound lack of introspectionThe “suprapersonal factors” embodied in religious images are intended to orient us inwardly; to center and protect us from being swept away by mass contagion. Our ideas of religion are changing, and there is no return to the old ways. Deep in the throes of unseen psychic forces, consciousness is being pushed in a new direction. The possibilities for further development hidden in the older ideas require a re-interpretation of the peculiar language of the depth from which they spring and the symbols it produces.” — A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious

It seems undeniable to anyone raised in the religious atmosphere of a generation ago that cultural values are changing. Whether praised or lamented, the current transition was an integral part of Jung’s work; what he described were historical changes in consciousness.

Sunday morning religious services still fill the airways; but, as mega-churches replace smaller communities of worship, and populations become more mobile and anonymous, religious devotion takes on a similarly impersonal character. 

The Bible remains the world’s best-seller, but does it reflect the personal values we espoused fifty years ago? Who doesn’t question the contradictions science has raised in its literal view of religious symbols? 

Political correctness has tempered public conversation in the face of increased diversity, but don’t most still believe in their religion with the same intensity of a generation ago? Though once-traditional spiritual views continue to splinter into increasingly diverse factions, doesn’t that mean further differentiation, a more nuanced perspective? A new dawn on a centuries-old collective horizon?

Panderers, preachers, and pulpiteers fall from the heavens like little Lucifers as they yield to their more animal natures — but, hasn’t that always been so? Isn’t it just more publicized as we tear away the veils of fading idols? Isn’t it the same old inflated image revealing human vulnerabilities to the natural facts beneath our ideals? A new struggle on a new psychic frontier? 

One man’s god is another man’s devil, but one fact still remains: an unknown deity drives us relentlessly forward — more compelling in the changes today than centuries of reflection have kept pace with. We may not choose it or even believe it, but isn’t that what history is? The slow coming to awareness of a psychic reality which defies comprehension beyond the rational knowledge of its parts?

So confusing is the symbolic nature of this mystery; so convincing our powers of rationalization, nothing seems certain to an honest mind but the false certainty of others. Objective knowledge has replaced subjective wisdom as the ultimate truth. Modern diversions only obscure the mystery further, hiding the dark face of inner reality.

On one side are the commercial mega-churches and their glitzy re-makes of the same old story, little changed. The personal relation to a deity seems only more impersonal through them. Is it a new improved product they sell or a diluted one — an unconscious image of belief, an indirect appeal to their own egos? Only another facade of certainty amid the unknown changes pushing from within?

Conversely, churches are driven to compete with a science that refutes the old truths with each new datum; it only gets more sophisticated. It’s no wonder they’re at odds; as ideologies, neither is aware of its own subjective bias. In the unconscious conflicts of one-sided ideals, they trade barbs like hostile brothers (or a stale-mated political process), neither bothered with the task of a greater good beyond its own partial concerns. 

What they believe in is plain enough; not words, but an irrational zeal defines it. Where is the humble soul in search of a truth which acknowledges its own inner opposite? If today’s consumer mindset and its object-philosophy are what we’re looking to for solutions, we’re in trouble. The buying and selling of partial truths and the mass marketing designed to manipulate unconscious emotions is not the way to consciousness. 

As ominous as the cultural changes have been in the last generation, we remain fixed on rational argument, cause and effect, and its literal view of events. Is the confusion beneath the facade a dim perception of a newer, darker deity? The unforeseen consequences, the off-spring of an irrational nature? 

Jung laid the basis for a science of the psyche through the study of its history: religion, philosophy, and science; a real psychological inspection of ideas, their origins, development, purposes and effects. His method was empirical, though not strictly rational. His comparative approach was a new way of examining our subjective natures within the context of an objective reality. Many sense the contradictions, though none can explain them.

The relativity of values is a more difficult reality to locate than any material fact. The scientist’s model of the atom as an analogy of the unfathomable depth of the smallest unit hints at Jung’s discoveries: physics has revealed a strange quantum world beneath the surface, just as the universe of institutional religious ideals hides a subjective truth. 

Jung’s symbolic view elaborated the nature of these opposed realities in terms of an unconscious opposite: thinking/feeling, rational science vs. the irrationality of a spiritual reality. Awareness of our dual natures signals neither the decline of religion nor the advance of science, but a new way of looking at both in which each becomes relative to the other.

For an interesting statistical look at the changing religious beliefs in America, see this link:


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Transitional Stages and the Types Problem

A momentous shift in values is taking place today. Dwarfed by the fascination with technology, the wisdom of the soul sinks under the weight of concrete knowledge. Science and religion have become adversaries; the individual, a mere tool for powerful interest groups. Our dual natures are increasingly brought into relief by ideological and political conflicts, the split in our personalities reflected back to us as in a mirror.” — A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious.

In his, Psychological Types, Jung traced the symbolic aspects of religious and philosophical ideas to illustrate the historical opposition between two ways of relating to the world: extraverted and introverted. The primary value placed on the outer world of people and objects describes the extravert’s perspective, and the accent on the inner responses to them orients the introvert. While Jung’s description of the types problem in this example is presented as a projection of the poet’s own inner conflict, the cultural parallels are unmistakable.

Carl Spitteler’s, Prometheus and Epimetheus, shows how closely intertwined the processes of individuation and cultural transition are. Jung described the image formed in the poet’s imagination as a uniting symbol, a product of unconscious fantasy aimed at reconciling opposing tendencies. Only a profound existential conflict creates it.

The ancient Pandora bears the magic symbol: “… Pandora’s heavenly gift brings evil to the country and its inhabitants, just as in the classical myth diseases streamed forth to ravage the land when Pandora opened her box.” This is the perceived ‘disease’ of unconscious nature — a far deeper reality than the artificial persona of conscious ideals:

To understand why this should be so we must examine the nature of the symbol. The first to find the jewel were the peasants… They turned it about in their hands “until… they were utterly dumbfounded by its bizarre, immoral, illicit appearance.” When they brought the jewel to Epimetheus for examination, “his conscience… hid itself under the bed in great alarm...

Like a crab goggling wickedly and malevolently brandishing its crooked claws, Conscience peered out… and the nearer Epimetheus pushed the image the further Conscience shrank back with gesticulations of disgust. And so it sulked there silently, uttering not a word… in spite of all the king’s entreaties…” Jung:

Conscience evidently found the new symbol acutely distasteful. The king… bade the peasants bear the jewel to the priests.” Spitteler: “But hardly had Hiphil-Hophal [the high priest] glanced at the face of the image than he shuddered with disgust, and crossing his arms over his forehead as though to ward off a blow, he shouted: Away with this mockery! For it is opposed to God and carnal in its heart and insolence flashes from its eyes. 

The peasants then brought the jewel to the academy, but the professors found it lacked “feeling and soul, and moreover it wanted in gravity, and above all had no guiding thought.” In the end the goldsmith found the jewel to be spurious and of common stuff. On the marketplace, where the peasants tried to get rid of it, the police descended on the image and cried out:

“Is there no heart in your body and no conscience in your soul?  How dare you expose… this stark, shameless, wanton piece of nakedness?… And now, away with you at once! And woe betide you if the sight of it has polluted our innocent children and lily-white wives!

Jung’s interpretation was weighty, indeed: “The symbol is described by the poet as bizarre, immoral, illicit, outraging our moral feelings of the spiritual and divine; it appeals to sensuality, is wanton, and liable to endanger public morals by provoking sexual fantasies. These attributes define something that is blatantly opposed to moral values and aesthetic judgment because it lacks the higher feeling values, and the absence of a “guiding thought” suggests the irrationality of its intellectual content… Although it is nowhere stated, it is obvious that the “image” is of a naked human body — a “living form.” It expresses the complete freedom… and also the duty to be what one is… a symbol of man as he might be, the perfection of moral and aesthetic beauty moulded by nature and not by some artificial ideal.

Note Jung’s reference to the “higher feeling values” of collective consciousness as distinct from the primal emotions driving the natural psyche: the affliction of civilized man from the unconscious viewpoint is the disease of consciousness, an anticipation of wholeness which lies at the heart of projected conflict. Jung:

To hold such an image before the eyes of present-day man can have no other effect than to release everything in him that lies captive and unlived. If only half of him is civilized and the other half barbarian, all his barbarism will be aroused, for a man’s hatred is always concentrated on the thing that makes him conscious of his bad qualities…”

Five thousand years of civilization, two millennia of Christian moral ideals, and a century of objective science have barely touched the barbarian in us. He is our connection with the spirit of nature, with earthly reality and all its inhabitants. As we destroy them for our own desires, we also destroy ourselves.

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A Science of Religion or a Religion of Technology?

Centuries of spiritual idealism which sought to develop the soul have instead convinced us that we have only to believe in it to achieve it – for those who can still believe. For those who can’t, a new ideal of material progress now discards the too-taxing task of looking inward as not worth the effort.

Media-driven thing-obsession and near compulsive consumption divert vital energies… advanced technologies draw us further outside ourselves and into devices. Instant access and constant exposure to the subliminal effects of marketing and advertising cultivate unconscious emotions so paradoxical that what is meant to emancipate and connect also finds us dependent and alienated — our most personal and intimate needs indistinguishable from carefully instilled, pre-packed desires.

A struggling clergy, unable to translate the older values into contemporary terms, cannot defend its views in the face of rational argument. Literally interpreted, religious symbols not only don’t make sense to a science based on observable facts, they appear ridiculous and even silly. Worn half-truths and a declining relevance find modern mega-churches resorting to the same impersonal strategies driving business and political interests: mass commercial appeal. Science and religion have become adversaries competing for consumers; the individual, an insignificant statistic buried under the anonymity of target groups, market niches, and sales pitches.” — A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious.

In a previous post, I quoted Jung’s definitions of rational and irrational. One of his most important contributions was the empirical picture he sketched of the symbolic (irrational) reality behind the mythic flight of Western religious history.

It finds us still chasing an inner paradox — but with the same literal perspective of centuries ago. So anxious is consciousness for certainty, the deepest mysteries of existence are now the arid artifacts of intellect. The open contradictions in the former view have been replaced by more obscure ones.

The new contradictions, however, remain the same unconscious compensations which violently reject the half-truths of conscious reality, and our long history of ideological conflict attests the fact still today.

As rationally as we may see the world (and ourselves), deeper contradictions than stone idols and material objectivity define us. You may sense the paradox in our space-age illusions: gods no longer record and reflect human deeds. Conscience (individual accountability to a higher power) is replaced by the watchful eye of satellites: a distant, artificial perspective which has dissolved the old deities and now takes their place. Such are the mysteries of psychic reality…

In a reference to Christianity, Joseph Campbell once remarked that its hostility to nature was unique in world mythology. Identification with the intellect evokes the negative side of repressed emotions, and this bi-polarity will find us always in profound conflict. Until we become aware of our inner natures such that we can question our own sanity, the greatest threat to humanity will be in the projected conflicts of collective ideologies.

Jung wrote that the Western emphasis on the exclusive power of thought may hold some peculiar divine plan in the gradual unfolding of our natures; that we might discover something about it if we could connect with the higher purposes behind our symbolic fascination with the material world and the devil’s banquet we’ve made of it. 

The Pandora’s box of scientific object-ivity may eventually lead us to a closer, more realistic examination of our subject-ivity — though what it makes of our souls in the meanwhile is frightening to those who sense it.

I was born into the aftermath of WWII, and those dire conditions resulted in much thought on the circumstances which produced them — by a few for a while. As a child, I watched a panic-stricken nation construct bomb-shelters. Even the scientists were startled by what they’d unleashed, though few admitted that the destruction existed in themselves as reactions to the projected fear of their own unconscious conditions.

The civil rights movement exploded; a confused and off-balance culture began to perceive its conflicts on two levels. The shadow-image before seen outside now appeared inside, and the clash of changing values suddenly burst through the tension. The ugly ego-hypocrisy of race relations and a divisive war formed the tipping point of a deeper problem which captured young people world-wide.

The hippie movement that followed — an instinctive attempt to re-connect with nature — was the unconscious response of a generation saturated with the deep-seated religious hostilities it had inherited. A rigid Establishment with no ability to examine itself was so threatened by it that the young idealists’ radical notions of being “natural” were branded as products of drug-induced fantasy. Mind you, these were adult responses to children. The ideas were repressed for further absorption, even as a pharmaceutical drug culture was subliminally incorporated by it for the very same reasons…

Since that time, psychology has snatched a few crumbs of objectivity from the plate of science — from the otherworldly fare of the gods it was called upon by its own nature to digest. Its rational conceptions, however, seem not to have allayed psychic conflict but only increased it (to its own benefit). Religious symbolism, the objective foundation of consciousness, is now conceived objectively as useless fantasy…

And science only fancies the more that it can extricate us from the threats of its inventions by even more novel creations to divert us with (mainly for profit); though its fealty to the material world creates psychic consequences which are the more threatening the more objectively its solutions are conceived. That the technological age could be a by-product of our Christian hostility to nature, few consider in the blinding glare of material progress.

The dark, earthly shadows lurking in the background go right on generating the same old compensations — only the times and circumstances change to reflect ever more sophisticated repressions. Psychology tags along behind an objective science, assuming it can discover the depth of nature’s spirit, not by experiencing its mystery, but by soaring above it with the same certainty the preachers use to avoid it.

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Culture in Crisis

“Western culture, whose crisis we are experiencing today, differs from all others known to us in that, although a continuum, it finds itself in a continual process of change… The conventional division into classical, medieval, and modern is wholly fallacious… deeper analysis will show a picture of Western man in continuous movement and counter-movement, but moving steadily in a direction fixed from the very beginning: the emancipation of man from nature and consciousness from unconscious.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins And History Of Consciousness, 1954.

Since the beginning of time (or our conscious construct of it), our attempts to emancipate ourselves from the harsh reality of nature is understandable; but, recorded history is mostly humans in violent conflict with each other. That aspect of our inner nature remains unchanged since the first of days, and neither science nor religion can make sense of it without deeper understanding of the psychic facts behind it.

In a previous post, I sketched out some ideas that may seem random but which “hang together in a meaningful way”, as Jung phrased it. What appear as random ideas are associations to functions which, with knowledge and reflection, form a wider picture than conscious perception alone can see. Jung showed how only the symbolic view which perceives its own subjectivity can reconcile what logic sees as a paradox.

For a broader understanding of Neumann’s statement, I offer an overview of the empirical facts associated with the crisis we now find ourselves in. Though this crisis has been relentlessly (and unconsciously) pursued since Adam and Eve consumed that fascinating fruit which divorced us from our own natures, it’s clear that if we continue in this direction with the same unreflecting abandon, if we can’t come terms with our destructive tendencies, our loftiest dreams will become even more nightmarish than they already are.

Based on Jung’s and Neumann’s work, this excerpt is taken from an earlier post, though I think it bears repeating. It revolves around:

“… the image of the earth as a natural symbol of the unconscious. The earth and sun are the sources of all known life, suitable metaphors for the masculine and feminine forces which conceive it. Jung and Neumann have demonstrated that artifacts and symbols dating back to pre-patriarchal cultures intimately associate masculinity with light and consciousness, just as feminine images are associated with unconscious darkness and fertility: the earthly and the feminine, the creative matrix which bears and fosters the child of consciousness. Symbolically, masculinity refers to the heady principles of thought, the organizing of consciousness; the feminine principle dissolves separate tendencies to form emotional and physical relationships – properties of the soul.

The primitive mind long ago conceived the sun as spirit, reflecting processes which urged the coming of light to the dark, unconscious void of human origin. Earth and sun are psychological analogues for “feminine” relatedness — the oneness of the unconscious, the body, and the individual — and the dissecting, masculine character of consciousness. Together, they express the intermingling pairs of opposites and the penetrating form of their relationship. Male and female, spirit and matter, mind and body: all describe the two poles required for conscious orientation.

Primitive sun-worship anticipated a Christian myth “not of this world”. Both signify the urge to distinguish conscious from unconscious… The movement away from nature toward an artificial fantasy-sphere is a projection of over-extension. Jung and Neumann suggested that the natural process of separating the two psychic systems has deepened into such a division today that we can no longer relate to our instinctual foundations… Our intellectual inflation only accentuates our historical opposition to nature and the corresponding functions designed to relate us to earthly reality.

As the momentum of this drive toward conscious identity finds us alienated from ourselves, the unconscious attempts to re-orient us in the current swing by steering us back to itself, to nature… the earth, to our physical/emotional ground. The swing toward natural science describes a symbolic movement. The spiritual unfolding of our natures speaks only indirectly through its own language.

The creative spirit turns destructive when it is restricted to conscious aims and remains unconscious for too long, when a new stage is signaled. Our systematic abuse of the earth reveals an inner conflict… The artificial environment we have created in the relatively short swing back to the material world exposes our Christian disdain for nature as a symbol of our animal heritage and a “god-like” ego which cannot accept its origins or its subjection to natural laws. We are literally poisoning ourselves and our children, even as exaggerated fantasies pursue grandiose notions of “conquering” space — still driven by an inflated and unanchored ego which sees itself as “not of this world.”

 From: A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious.

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