“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air, and every other living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Because it contains our living history in symbolic form, Jung wrote that any serious inquiry into the unconscious leads straight into the religious problem. What he meant is not exactly what Stephen Hawking imagined as “knowing the mind of God” through the study of matter. It can’t be defined or measured as precisely as physicists might prefer; and though it can be described empirically, Hawking’s ideal is an intellectual makeshift with no psychological foundation to support it.
Jung’s postulation of a variety of different but equally valid psychic realities based on his types studies, the subjectivity of consciousness, the collective spirit of the times, the unconscious basis of perception, the symbolic nature of the psyche, and the accidental and irrational realities of life make the study of the mind (and God) a very uncertain business.
Behind Jung’s empiricism were experiences and intuitions which led to his study of symbols. Because it was based on a comparative view of history, it doesn’t really look like science to the standardized formula of observation, experiment, repetition, and verification of the physical model. But, as he showed, it’s the only way we can observe ourselves outside the subjective limitations of a fluctuating and relative ego bound to its own time and place.
Unconscious complexes analogize our functioning through symbolic ideas, and Jung’s work was in many ways a conceptual attempt to relate the emotional processes which push them into awareness. Emotions in general, and religious ones in particular, are based on different needs than thought alone can evaluate. Without some feeling-sense of how the psyche works, some concept of our irrationality, we’re stuck in the intellect with no relation to the psychic forces which drive and maintain us.
Consciousness has changed considerably since the last generation of religious authorities instructed a believing flock on its accountability before God. Though lacking psychological knowledge, conscious devotion along with a philosophical mindset maintained the functional requirements with which nature outfitted us to contend with ourselves. But, the old metaphysical projections were not just static reflections of conscious development at a given point in time.
Ideas of divine heritage were not only symbols of how we once conceived ourselves but images of what we would become. The unconscious contains our history as well the seeds of our futures. Today, the old symbols are a frightening revelation of an ego so enamored with itself that it would willfully and knowingly destroy all that would sustain it and its children while still maintaining the god-given right to do so.
Otherworldly (conscious) fixations, along with our self-appointed stewardship of the earth reflected in the above quote, have become crimes against nature of cosmic proportion. Today, we’re contending with everything and everyone but ourselves.
The intuitive wisdom of the past was too subjectively and concretely conceived to apply to our modern conflicts. The new objectivity, however, is as literal and collective as the old view, though values have shifted to the material world — and with it, new forms of destruction.
The soul, the old religious prototype of the individual’s relation to a greater (natural) reality, now lies buried beneath statistical averages and social norms: the only truth the rational viewpoint can connect with. The contemporary cult of the commercial mass-man reflects an inner disorientation, and no objective science can replace the soul’s value.
The history of our mental functioning was the focus of Jung’s work. To discover new meaning in the old symbols requires a psychological, spiritual model. In a culture driven by scientific materialism, the history of who we really are is repressed and denied to such an extent that we no longer recognize our animal natures; though, our world predicament still tells the ancient story.
Self-confrontation was once the basis of religious conversion: the first-half charge of youth to forge its place in the world was eventually driven to reflect on a reality greater than its struggle with the external environment. The wisdom of the ages provided the reference point for that transition. Today, there are no ages of wisdom to submit to, no greater realities to accept or convert to. The new truth is a pre-packed conformity, marketed as progress, devoid of the history which alone informs where we are in our development.
The old road map no longer reflects the topography of inner life. Our GPS vision can’t pinpoint the intimate personal by-ways of the compulsions, phobias, crippling depressions, lurking anxieties, and over-consumption which now belie the soul’s repression. Understanding the changes in consciousness, especially in the last century, is more important with each new technological advancement.
The scientization of the soul can’t tame the beast in us any more than could the subjective half-truths of the former view. The soul doesn’t care about logic, statistics, or light-years. It’s function is the emotional stability of the individual. As Jung remarked: a million zeroes don’t add up to one.
The alien face of an objective history now stares back at us through Nietzsche’s dead god, the backward self-deception of commercialism, the needy diversions of technological obsession — “disorders” in those whose unconscious natures can’t and won’t be reconciled to a cultural norm which only accentuates them.
Below the material, the metaphysical, the new intellect’s subjective objectivity, the dark mirrors of the soul seek the reflection of conscious light. Modern examples of the spiritual/emotional processes behind Jung’s symbolic view hold little value for the narrow commercial focus of psychology today.