Jung’s view of the psycho-spiritual experience

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Published in Bulletin of Psychological Type, 32:1, 2009

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Jung’s view of the psycho-spiritual experience

  1. 1. In  his  letter  to  the  church  in  Rome,  the  Apostle  Paul  said  to  “not  think  of  yourself  more  highly  than  you  ought,  but  rather  think  of  yourself  with  sober  judgment.”[Romans  12:3  New  International  Version]  In  the  original  Greek  language  the  words  “sober  judgment”  literally  mean  “save  the  mind”.  To  “save  the  mind”  is  critical  to  Paul’s  concept  of  spiritual  growth.  In  another  letter  he  wrote  that  we  are  “to  be  made  new  in  the  attitude  of  [our]  minds  .  .  .  created  to  be  like  God  in  true  righteousness  and  holiness.”  [Ephesians  4:23-­‐24]  In  other  words,  we  are  on  a  journey  of  transformation.  In  Jungian  terms,  this  journey  is  a  spiritual  journey,  one  in  which  the  psyche  is  on  a  natural  trajectory  towards  health  and  balance  in  a  soul-­‐satisfying  state  of  wholeness.  To  Carl  Jung,  a  vital  aspect  to  saving  our  minds  is  coming  to  terms  with  our  God-­‐given  natures.  In  terms  of  typology,  saving  the  mind  means  consciously  allowing  our  mental  processes  to  be  directed  towards  spiritual  wholeness.  It  is  ironic  that  Jung  saw  no  point  in  using  typology  to  classify  people.  His  interest  was  not  to  have  people  see  the  ways  in  which  they  are  like  others,  but  to  provide  a  framework  by  which  people  could  see  themselves  as  individuals  uniquely  created  by  God.  His  concept  of  Self  was  meant  to  describe  a  psycho-­‐spiritual  experience  that  he  referred  to  as  "God  within  us".  The  Self  is  the  innate  beginnings  of  our  psychic  life  and  it  contains  both  the  roots  and  the  energy  that  are  designed  to  incite  us  to  fulfill  the  ultimate  purposes  for  which  we  were  created.  The  Jungian  psyche  is  on  a  religious  journey  and  his  typology  has  provided  each  of  us  with  a  roadmap  for  that  journey.  Borrowing  from  Rudolf  Ottos  The  Idea  of  the  Holy,  Jung  used  the  phrase  "numinal  accent"  to  describe  the  key  features  of  each  of  the  four  basic  psychological  functions.  Numinous  refers  to  the  non-­‐ethical  experiences  of  religion  -­‐  the  thrill  and  awe  of  a  person  created  in  Gods  image  being  in  the  presence  of  God.  To  Jung,  while  we  could  not  comprehend  God,  we  could  experience  the  wonder  of  the  presence  of  God  in  part  through  the  exercise  of  our  psychological  type  preferences.  In  Psychological  Types  [para.  982-­‐985]  Jung  states  that  the  numinal  accent  "plays  the  predominant,  determining,  and  decisive  role  in  all  psychic  processes  from  the  start",  determining  whether  extraversion  or  introversion  has  "positive  significance  and  value"  to  us.  In  addition,  the  numinal  accent  "selects  the  conscious  function  of  which  the  individual  makes  principal  use",  i.e.  the  four  functions  of  sensation,  intuition,  thinking,  and  feeling.    For  Jung,  numinosity  is  an  alteration  of  consciousness  involving  an  experience  of  spiritual  power  and  therefore,  when  we  are  using  our  dominant  function  we  are  experiencing  the  divinity  that  is  part  of  our  God-­‐given  image.  Saving  the  mind  begins  with  a  strong  identification  with  our  dominant  function  as  an  essential  aspect  of  the  Self  and  the  beginning  of  our  spiritual  journey.    
  2. 2. The  data  below  summarizes  the  numinal  accent  of  each  type  according  to  the  four  dominant  preferences.  Type   Numinal  Accent  Sensing  (ISTJ,  ISFJ,  ESTP,  ESFP)   Establishing  what  are  the  actual  facts   and  details  Intuition  (INTJ,  INFJ,  ENTP,  ENFP)   What  are  the  possibilities  regardless  of   the  way  things  are  at  the  moment  Thinking  (ISTP,  INTP,  ESTJ,  ENTJ)   Logical  and  critical  discrimination  of   data  and  ideas  Feeling  (ISFP,  INFP,  ESFJ,  ENFJ)   Empathy  and  compassion,  relatedness   and  connection    Saving  the  mind,  however,  means  much  more  than  identifying  with  the  numinous  of  our  dominant  function.  A  mind  that  is  whole  is  able  to  manifest  the  numinal  qualities  of  all  four  functions.  By  gravitating  towards  mindsets  that  allow  our  less  dominant  functions  to  be  disregarded,  we  deprive  ourselves  of  their  spiritual  powers.  A  one-­‐sided  psyche  is  the  result  of  persisting  in  those  preferences  that  come  naturally  and  remaining  spiritually  incomplete.  For  example,  when  Jesus  accused  the  Pharisee’s  of  ignoring  justice,  mercy  and  faithfulness  in  favor  of  strictly  interpreting  the  law,  he  was  exposing  a  bias  for  legality  over  compassion  We  were  born  for  a  greater,  more  multi-­‐faceted  state  of  being  and  awareness  than  what  our  dominant  function  provides  us.  Saving  the  mind,  then,  is  a  psycho-­‐spiritual  renewal  that  broadens  our  powers  of  perception  and  judgment.  It  is  also  a  reunion  with  the  truest  nature  of  who  we  were  created  to  be.  We  were  designed  to  grow  into  this  fullness  with  a  divinely  inspired  drive  toward  wholeness  according  to  a  design  already  imprinted  into  us.  When  we  respond  to  invitations  to  manifest  the  gifts  of  each  of  the  four  functions,  where  we  are  able  to  love  God  and  others  with  the  entirety  of  our  being,  we  meet  God  in  such  a  way  that  we  transcend  ourselves.  It  is  at  those  moments  that  we  can  experience  the  soul-­‐satisfying  wholeness  of  a  new  mind  and  the  thrill  and  awe  of  being  made  in  God’s  image.  

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