Carl Jung and Christianity


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Psy-religion Meeting, 11 February 2012

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Carl Jung and Christianity

  1. 1. Carl Jung and ChristianityPsy-religion Meeting, 11 February 2012
  2. 2. Who is Jung?
  3. 3. Family BackgroundBorn in Kesswil, Swiss on 26 Jul 18758 maternal uncles and 2 paternal uncles wereparsonsFather: Paul Achilles Jung rural pastor in Swiss Reformed ChurchMother: Emilie Prieswork youngest daughter of Samuel Preiswerk (devoted theologian on Hebrew study)
  4. 4. Childhoodlove of nature, direct relationship with plants, animals,earth, rock, mountains, river, lakeliked playing alone “I played alone, and in my own way... did not want to be disturbed. I was so absorbed in my games and could not endure being watched...” -- MDR “I had just never run across such an asocial monster ... he was all by himself” -- Albert Oeri, a childhood friend of Jung1 younger sister born when Jung was 9 years old, too latefor a companion
  5. 5. Childhooda home environment that Jung described as “unbreathable” oppressed with a pervasive sense of death, melancholy, unease, and with “dim intimations of trouble” father slept with child Jung, whereas mother suffered nervous breakdown when Jung was 3, requiring hospitalisationsuffocated in religious environment that is also prone to disappointmentwhile in constant resistance “In the cemetery nearby, the sexton would dig a hole ... Black, solemn man... would bring a black box... My father would be... in his clerical gown... I was told that someone was being buried in this hole... but when I heard that Lord Jesus ‘took’ other people to himself... was the same as putting them in a hole in the ground... He lost the aspect of a big, comforting, benevolent bird and become associated with the gloomy black men in frock coats, top hats... who busied themselves with the black box”
  6. 6. ChildhoodJung’s earliest remembered dream: “In the dream I was in this meadow. Suddenly I discovered a dark, rectangular, stone-lined hole in the ground.. I ran forward curiously and peered down into it. Then I saw a stone stairway leading down. Hesitantly and fearfully, I descended. At the bottom was a doorway with a round arch, closed off by a green curtain. It was a big, heavy curtain of worked stuff like brocade, and it looked very sumptuous. Curious to see what might be hidden behind, I pushed it aside. I saw before me in the dim light a rectangular chamber about thirty feet long. The ceiling was arched and of hewn stone. The floor was laid with flagstones, and in the center a red carpet ran from the entrance to a low platform. On this platform stood a wonderfully rich golden throne. I am not certain, but perhaps a red cushion lay on the seat. It was a magnificent throne, a real kings throne in a fairy tale. Something was standing on it which I thought at first was a tree trunk twelve to fifteen feet high and about one and a half to two feet thick. It was a huge thing, reaching almost to the ceiling. But it was of a curious composition: it was made of skin and naked flesh, and on top there was something like a rounded head with no face and no hair. On the very top of the head was a single eye, gazing motionlessly upward...
  7. 7. ChildhoodJung’s earliest remembered dream:(con’d) ... It was fairly light in the room, although there were no windows and no apparent source of light. Above the head, however, was an aura of brightness. The thing did not move, yet I had the feeling that it might at any moment crawl off the throne like a worm and creep toward me. I was paralyzed with terror. At that moment I heard from outside and above me my mothers voice. She called out, "Yes, just look at him. That is the man-eater!" That intensified my terror still more, and I awoke sweating and scared to death.”
  8. 8. ChildhoodDream interpretation?“The phallus... a subterranean god ‘not to be named’” ... “a ritualphallus” ... “an initiation into the secrets of the earth” ... “thatfearful tree of my childhood dream” ... “revealed as ‘the breath oflife’ the creative impulse”in line with the powerful phallic deities of the Celtic, German,Greek, Egyptian, Middle and Far Eastern peoples, gods that arethe embodiment of creative life-bestowing powerexpecting Jesus enthroned in glory vs monstrous phallus, asubterranean god, “therefore Jesus never became quite real forme, never quite acceptable, never quite lovable, for again andagain I would think of his underground counterpart, a frightfulrevelation which had been accorded me without seeking it”
  9. 9. Student Yearsenrolled as student at Basel University in 1895natural science, then switched to medicinewhy entered Psychiatry? witnessed Seances of his cousin Helen Preiswerk: in trance state, she lost her Basel accent and spoke in high German, and claimed to be controlled by a variety of spirits alerted Jung of ‘dissociated unconscious parts’? read Krafft-Ebing’s Lehrbuch der Psychiatrie (1890) with intense excitement, “in a flash of illumination, that for me the only possible goal was psychiatry”under the apprenticeship of Eugen Bleuler, outstanding psychiatristof the time, who replaced the term “Dementia Praecox” toSchizophrenia
  10. 10. Jung and FreudJung read Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams in1900, identifying delayed response in ‘Wordassociation test’ could be related to ‘repressedwishes’ and ‘traumatic memories’sent a copy of his book Studies in Word-Associationto Freud in 1906, and Freud encouraged Jung tomeet him in Viennafirst meeting with Freud in Mar 1907 in Vienna,where they got on so well that they talkedwithout interruption for 13 hours
  11. 11. Jung and FreudFreud, for fear of death within 12 years out of superstition, waskeen to secure Jung as his successor in Psychoanalysishowever, as time goes on, Jung was unable to conceal hisdifference from Freud: that human motivation is exclusively sexual the unconscious mind is entirely personal and peculiar to the individualfinally withdrew from the Psychoanalytic movement in 1913 in 2-part publication of Symbols of Transformation, Jung deliberately repudiates Freud’s theory of libido, which he did so in fear that “would cost me my friendship with Freud”
  12. 12. JungianPsychology
  13. 13. Jungian PsychologyThe PsycheArchetypeCollective unconsciousnessIndividuation
  14. 14. The Psychecould be a confusion in term, as both‘psyche’ and ‘soul’ are ‘Seele’3 levels consciousness directly assessable to individual contains his/her attitudes to adjustment to outside world personal consciousness all psychic material not yet reaching the threshold of consciousness collective unconsciousness
  15. 15. The PsycheThe Collective Unconsciousness deepest and most extensive stratum of the psyche impersonal and transpersonal foundation of the psyche reservoir of unconscious content that had never reached consciousness primordial images common to all humanity
  16. 16. The PsycheArchetypes ‘identical psychic structure common to all’ ‘the archaic heritage of humanity’ a proposed fundamental concept in Psychology similar to genetics in Biology and Quantum theory to Physics fundamental duality of ‘spirit’ and ‘matter’, hence a bridge from psychic entity to matter in general mediators of Unus Mundus, organizing ideas and images in the psyche and governs fundamental principles of matter and energy
  17. 17. The PsycheArchetypes Persona a mask, how we codify ourselves to prove acceptance by others Shadow side of an individual that s/he prefers not to reveal disowned subpersonality that is ignored most of the time gives rise to distrust, anger, fear, etc Anima and Animus the contrasexual feminine / masculine nature of a person
  18. 18. The PsycheComplexes personification of archetypes linked to each particular archetypeEgo orbiting round the system like the earth round the sun the centre of consciousness, “I” or “me”
  19. 19. The PsycheSelf at the centre of the psyche, permeating entire system with its influence architect and builder of the dynamic structure which supports our psychic existence through life transcends ego, inheres the age-old capacities of species goal: wholeness, realization of blueprint for human existence within individual context seeks fulfillment of spiritual achievements manifestation of the God within?
  20. 20. Individuationthe process by which the individual integrates the conscious andunconscious parts of the personalitya living and dynamic process, spontaneous and natural within thepsyche, hence ‘destined’ to individuategoal: realization of the Self2 stages in life 1st half adaptation of the psyche to the demands of the environment separation of ego and Self 2nd half initiation into inner reality, psychological transformation into the quest of self-exploration reuniting ego and Self
  21. 21. Synchronicity“a coincidence in time of two or more causallyunrelated events which have the same orsimilar meaning”‘acausal connection principle’, based onChinese I Ching that anything happens isrelated to everything else that happens at thesame time
  22. 22. Jung on Religion
  23. 23. Jung on ReligionFreud and Jung on Religion, by Michael Palmer God as archetypal form God is a manifestation of the deepest level of the unconscious mind, the collective unconscious a priori structural component of the psyche a ‘psychic reality’, something intrinsic to the individual, an active dimension within psychic life, impersonal, timeless and autonomous God as archetypal content psychic experience of God e.g. demons, angels, spirits, God Himself can only be expressed symbolically Christ figure: overpowering, all-embracing, complete, perfect being a man of heroic proportions
  24. 24. Jung on ReligionFreud and Jung on Religion, by Michael Palmer (con’t) nature of religious experiences defining religion ‘peculiar attitude of the human mind’ in which ‘certain dynamic factors’ are observed and considered ‘beautiful and meaningful enough to be devoutly adored and loved’ does not rest upon tradition and faith but originates with the archetypes religious attitude is an essential component of the psyche ‘dynamic activity’, in which value attributed to the numinosum involves a psychological condition of great ‘psychic intensity’ ‘numinosum’: termed by Rudolf Otto, a dynamic agency or effect, not caused by arbitrary act of will
  25. 25. Jung on ReligionFreud and Jung on Religion, by Michael Palmer (con’t) God and Individuation Individuation: God and the Self is the process of individuation a religious process? individuation may be defined as religious because it is an archetypal process, any such orientation towards archetypes is religious God = Self? “How on earth did you get the idea that I could replace God - and with a concept at that?... I can establish the existence of psychological wholeness to which our consciousness is subordinate... but this ‘self’ can never take the place of God, although it may... be a receptacle for divine grace” “I could say that the ‘self’ is somehow equivalent to God... when (as a psychologist) speak of ‘God’ I am speaking of a psychological image... similarly the ‘self’ is a psychological image of human wholeness,... something transcendental and incomprehensible”
  26. 26. Jung on ReligionFreud and Jung on Religion, by Michael Palmer (con’t) God and Individuation Individuation and images of God Father Stage earlier stage of consciousness when one was still a child produces God-images of primitive religion “man, world and God form a whole, a unity unclouded by ciriticism” Son Stage “in opposition to the still-existing earlier state... contains many latent possibilities of dissociation... a conflict situation par excellence” more differentiated images, e.g. Satan as regarded as shadow-side of Yahweh, divine pairs of Adonis and Aphrodite, Yahweh’s feminine counterpart the divine Sophia (Old Testament Book of Wisdom)
  27. 27. Jung on ReligionFreud and Jung on Religion, by Michael Palmer (con’t) God and Individuation Individuation and images of God Holy Ghost Stage a stage that genuine adulthood is achieved, final phase of individuation process (not exclusive to Christianity, but paradigm of final stage paralleled in symbolisms of other religions and cultures the original unity is re-established, but in higher and more elevated condition all images of God are psychic products of an essentially unconscious origin, evoking inner experience e.g. interest in spiritualism, astrology, theosophy, even UFOs... became symbols (not substitutes) of deity if no new symbols created, individual becomes neurotic, as he loses psychic balance to integrate the conscious and unconscious
  28. 28. Jung andReligion
  29. 29. Jung and the Christian Wayquoting Jung’s BBC interview with John Freeman in 1961, “I don’t needto believe, I know”“all his life was concerned with knowing God, with the immediateintuitive awareness of God (in contrast to intellectual faith), whollycommitted to God”“a profoundly religious man that was able to shed light on religiouspsychology”“went through an agnostic phase when he was heavily criticized bytheologians and psychologists, hence maintained agnostic attitude tomaintain scientific integrity”“what I offer is an impressionistic sketch of those elements of histeachings which have helped me... I cannot suppose that Jung wouldhave agreed with written, but I believe he would heartily approved myattempt to follow up his ideas” -- author, Christopher Rex Bryant
  30. 30. Jung and BuddhismJung, Christianity, and Buddhism, James W. Heisig theoretically, Jungian psychology enables inter-religion dialogue Reality: has not attracted Christians and Buddhists for some reasons (broad academic background of Jung, study takes time)Jung and the Christian Way, by Christopher Rex Bryant “William Johnston has interestingly described a dialogue between Christians and Buddhists in Japan: ‘We found that dialogue based on theology and philosophy did not achieve much; but when we talked from experience we suddenly discovered how closely united we really were.”
  31. 31. Jung and New AgeFlying Saucers : A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies, by C. G. Jung, R. F. C.Hull concerned not on reality or not, but the psychic aspect; “about 12 years ... I cannot even say whether they exist or not” "In the threatening situation of the world today, when people are beginning to see that everything is at stake, the projection-creating fantasy soars beyond the realm of earthly organizations and powers into the heavens, into interstellar space, where the rulers of human fate, the gods, once had their abode in the planets.... Even people who would never have thought that a religious problem could be a serious matter that concerned them personally are beginning to ask themselves fundamental questions. Under these circumstances it would not be at all surprising if those sections of the community who ask themselves nothing were visited by ‘visions, by a widespread myth seriously believed in by some and rejected as absurd by others." acknowledged UFO is not a purely psychological problem in an interview in New York Herald Tribune in 1958
  32. 32. Jung and New AgeJung as the proponent of the concept of the AgeAquarius “This is the fateful year for which I have waited more than 25 years... This year reminds me of the enormous earthquake in 26 B.C. that shook down the great temple of Karnak. It was the prelude to the destruction of all temples, because a new time had begun. 1940 is the year when we approach the meridian of the first star inAquarius. It is the premonitory earthquake of the New Age...” -- Jung’s letter to Peter Bayne in 1940
  33. 33. Jung and New AgeJung and the New Age : A Study in Contrasts, article by David Tacey Jungs name associated with New Age for about three decades Jung died in 1961, some years before the New Age has gained international momentum... he has foreseen the rise of paganism in the Western psyche... identified this resurgent paganism as the archetypal source for 21 century fascism and national socialism On religious matters, Jung was both Christian and New Age... Jung could see that the one-sidedness of patriarchal religion and culture would necessarily constellate the awakening of compensatory matriarchal and feminine archetypal figures, but his response to these figures was ambivalent By contrast, Jung discovers spirituality in and through our human pathologies, not by transcending them... “the Gods have become diseases” Jung’s well-known preoccupation with unity, mandalas, and the Self as the “archetype of wholeness.”
  34. 34. The Jung CultThe Jung Cult : Origins of a Charismatic Movement, by Richard Noll Richard Noll: clinical psychologist in DeSales University in Pennsylvania, not orthodox Christian Best Book in Psychology published in the United States in 1994Jung shaped most the contemporary New Age movementJung was accepted by professing Christians (e.g. J. Gordon Melton, Morton Kesley, JohnSanford)To prove his theory of a collective unconscious Jung cited the recurring independentappearances of the same archetypes in mythological traditions and in the delusions of hispsychiatric patientsancient mysteries and their pagan gods no longer as satanic and taboo to the averageChristianNoll’s interpretation on MDR a very well packaged content falsely passed off as his autobiography not historically reliable, but well-crafted image of a cultic leader preserved by his cult
  35. 35. The Gnostic JungGnosticism (Gnostikos, Gk: knowledge): antithetical dualism ofimmaterality (good) and matter (evil)Jung considered Gnosticism and alchemy as evidence of the collectiveunconsciousGnostic creation myths described development not of the world but alsothe human psychethe androgynous godhead’s bearing of a son symbolizes the emergenceof the ego out of primordial unconsciousJungian therapeutic aim vs Gnostic aim Jungian: making as fully conscious possible the constellated unconscious content, and synthesizing them with consciousness through act of recognition Gnostic: reversion to the incipient state of both humanity and cosmos, not transformation
  36. 36. The Gnostic JungJung’s own Gnostic myth: 7 Sermons to the Dead “Around five o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday the front doorbell began ringing frantically. It was a bright summer day; the two maids were in the kitchen, from which the open square outside the front door could be seen. Everyone immediately looked to see who was there, but there was no one in sight. ... Then I knew that something had to happen. The whole house was filled as if there were a crowd present, crammed full of spirits. ... Then they cried out in chorus, ‘We have come back from Jerusalem where we found not what we sought.’ That is the beginning of the Septum Sermones.” -- MDR
  37. 37. The Gnostic JungJung’s own Gnostic myth: 7 Sermons to the Dead Jung’s confrontation with the collective unconscious “all my works, all my creative activity, has come from those initial fantasies and dreams which began in 1912” (1912: after break with Freud) psychological vs parapsychological? a continuing dialogue with ‘Philemon’ (an imaginary Alexandrian Gnostic), most important personifications of the unconscious the dead symbolizes Jung’s collective unconscious (ancestor’s inadequacy of mainstream doctrine), living the ego conscious, so it is the unconscious seeking revelation from ego consciousness attributed to Basilides (2nd century Alenxandrian Gnostic), channeling Basilides or used the channeled Basilides to address to the dead contrary to popular opinion, the dead are not ‘possessors of great knowledge’
  38. 38. Memories, Dreams,Reflection
  39. 39. BBC Interview“When I say that I don’t need to believe in God because I ‘know’,I mean I know the existence of God-images in general and inparticular. I know it is matter of a universal experience and, in sofar as I am no exception, I know I have such experience also,which I call God. It is the experience of my will over againstanother and very often stronger will, crossing my path oftenwith seemingly disastrous results, putting strange ideas into myhead and maneuvering my fate sometimes into mostundesirable corners or giving it unexpected favorable twists,outside my knowledge and my intention. The strange forceagainst or for my conscious tendencies is well known to me. So Isay, ‘I know him’. But why should you call this something‘God’? I would ask, ‘Why not’? It has always been called God.”
  40. 40. Memories, Dreams, Reflections456 instances of ‘God’ in MDR“Slowly I came to understand that this communion had been a fatal experience for me. It hadproved hollow; more than that, it had proved to be a total loss. I knew that I would neveragain be able to participate in this ceremony. ‘Why, that is not religion at all’, I thought. ‘It isan absence of God; the Church is a place I should not go to. It is not life which is there, butdeath.’I was seized with the most vehement pity for my father. All at once I understood the tragedyof his profession and his life. He was struggling with a death whose existence he could notadmit.”“My sense of union with the Church and with the human world, so far as I knew it, wasshattered.”“I began to ponder, what must one think of God? I had not invented that thought about Godand the cathedral, still less the dream that had befallen me at the age of three. A stronger willthan mine had imposed both on me. Had nature been responsible? But nature was nothingother than the will of the creator. Nor did it help to accuse the devil, for he too was a creatureof God. God alone was real - an annihilating fire and an indescribable grace.” “I had prepared it [the communion] in all earnestness, had hoped for an experience of grace and illumination, and nothing had happened.”
  41. 41. Memories, Dreams, Reflections“How had I arrived at m certainty about God? I was told all sorts ofthings about Him, yet I could believe nothing. None of it convinced me.That was not where my idea came from... For example, all that aboutLord Jesus was always suspect to me and I never really believed it,although it was impressed upon me far more than God, who wasusually only hinted at in the background.Suddenly I understood that God was, for me at least, one of the mostcertain and immediate experiences, it was forced on me and I wascompelled... I had no control over these things”“Once I heard him [Jung’s father] praying. He struggled desperately tokeep his faith... I saw how hopeless he was entrapped by the Church andits theological teaching... Now I understood the deepest meaning of myearlier experiences: God disavowed theology and the Church foundedupon it. On the other hand God condoned this theology, as he condonedso much else.”
  42. 42. Memories, Dreams, Reflections“At home, I had the welcome opportunity to talk witha theologian who had been my father’s vicar... Thetheological students with whom I had discussions inthe fraternity all seemed quite content with the theoryof the historical effect produced by Christ’s life... To methis absolutely belied Christ’s own view that the HolyGhost, who had begotten him, would take his placeamong men after his death. For me the Holy Ghost wasa manifestation of the inconceivable God... Lord Jesuswas to me unquestionably a man and therefore afallable figure, or else a mouthpiece of the Holy Ghost.”
  43. 43. Memories, Dreams, Reflections“The intensity of my emotion showed that the hill of Sanchi meant somethingcentral to me. A new side of Buddhism was revealed to me there... Buddhasaw and grasped the cosmogonic dignity of human consciousness...Christ, like Buddha, is an embodiment of the self, but in an altogetherdifferent sense. Both stood for an overcoming of the world: Buddha out ofrational insight; Christ as a foredoomed sacrifice. In Christianity, more issuffered, in Buddhism, more is seen and done. Both paths are right, but in theIndian sense Buddha is the more complete human being. He is a historicalpersonality, and therefore easier for men to understand. Christ is at once ahistorical man and God, and therefore much more difficult to comprehend.At bottom he was not comprehensible even to himself; he knew only that hehad to sacrifice himself, that this course was imposed upon him from within.His sacrifice happened to him like an act of destiny. Buddha lived out his lifeand died at an advanced age, whereas Christs activity as Christ probablylasted no more than a year.”
  44. 44. Memories, Dreams, Reflections“We know that something unknown, alien, does come our way, just as weknow that we do not ourselves make a dream or an inspiration, but that itsomehow arises of its own accord. What does happen to us in this mannercan be said to emanate from mana, a daimon, a god, or the unconscious. Thefirst three terms have the great merit of including and evoking the emotionalquality of numinosity, whereas the latter - the unconscious - is banal andtherefore closer to reality... The unconscious is too neutral and rational a termto give much impetus to the imagination. The term, after all, was coined forscientific purposes, and is far better suited to dispassionate observationwhich makes no metaphysical claims than are the transcendental concepts,which are controversial and therefore tend to breed fanaticism.Hence I prefer the term ‘the unconscious’, knowing that I might equally wellspeak of ‘God’ or daimon if I wish to express myself in mythical language. Iam aware that ‘mana’, ‘daimon’, and ‘God’ are synonyms for theunconscious”
  45. 45. Memories, Dreams, Reflections“The need for mythical statements is satisfied when we framea view of the world which adequately explains the meaning ofhuman existence in the cosmos, a view which springs from ourpsychic wholeness, from the co-operation between consciousand unconscious. Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life andis therefore equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great manythings endurable - perhaps everything. No science will everreplace myth, and a myth cannot be made out of any science.For it is not that ‘God’ is a myth, but that myth is the revelationof a divine life in man. It is not we who invent myth, rather itspeaks to us as a Word of God. The Word of God comes to us,and we have no way of distinguishing whether and to whatextent it is different from God.”
  46. 46. Is JungChristian??