the interest many spiritual people have in Jung and his psychology, I
find it intriguing to ask about their attraction to Jung's ideas. My initial
answer to this question is that Jung's model of the psyche is the most
complete and comprehensive model of the human psyche we have in psychology.
In my view, Jung worked very hard to come to terms with who we are as
human beings and just how we relate to the world and each other. This
also includes how we relate to the many parts of ourselves. Jung was very
clear that ego consciousness is not the whole package. There is the world
of the unconscious psyche, and to be fully human is to be in a dialogue
with that unknown "other."
My third impression about this interest in Jung and Jungian psychology is that in order for a person to be fully informed, we must have an integrated psychological understanding of what is happening to go along with our theological and philosophical understandings. Additionally, people may be attracted to Jung because he was an "Externalist." The task is not to spiritualize life away but to be fully present in the moment-- the core of the Existential movement in philosophy, theology and psychology. Existentialism includes the notion that "spiritualizing" is a psychological defense against the anxiety of not knowing, or a tendency to deal with the anxiety of not being whole. To be a true spiritual person is to come to terms with one's anxiety and not psychologically split or create illusions about reality. To be whole is to come to terms with what reality is (the whole of it) and our response to it. Jung had much to contribute to a model of God's presence in life capable of offsetting painful and limiting dualities. It is the unity of God and God's presence that will aid the spiritual development of people.
When we look at the Existential movement, from Kierkegaard, Sartre, Dostoyevsky, to Jung, what we find are two core motifs: the issue of human freedom and the issue of human responsibility. These were key issues for Jung as well. We also find in the Existential movement the motif of the modern person and community, of dividing oneself and creating an ideal about life, and then projecting that ideal into "another" realm. This is seen in the religious realm when people cannot fully come to terms with life and its hardships. They create an ideal and then project this better life into the future, or into a concept of an ideal " afterlife," and look forward to it. The Existential movement very much opposed this psychological splitting and/or its theological counterpart--a tendency to have a good mind and bad body and not to have the Kingdom of God at hand. Existentialism most wanted a person to be fully present in this moment, to be fully conscious in this moment, and to be fully responsible in this moment. One's essential courage to be comes from the individual's being fully informed and aware about the world and oneself. Being informed becomes the basis of our decision-making, for we know that we must somehow be responsible for how we are in the world and with ourselves.
In his 86
years, Jung produced more than 20 volumes of writings. In these he developed
a "worldview," or psychological paradigm, to help him in his
struggle to be truly himself as an individual in participation with the
world. In understanding Jung, it is important to focus on what he meant
by "individuation" and why he found dreams, visions and active
imagination helpful in the process of overcoming our sense of estrangement
and anxiety. His notion of individuation is, simply put, "the process"
by which a person becomes fully one's true self. It is the process whereby
consciousness does not identify with a part of the whole, and thus try
to make the part into the whole. It is the process of developing
consciousness and encountering the unconscious and being in a dialogue
essential issue for Jung was coming to terms with the unconscious aspect
of himself and others. There is the question of estrangement and how it
comes about in the first place. How do we get reconciled with the true
self once we are off course? Jung's essential notion is that the ego (one's
consciousness) must be open to the various ways in which the unconscious
presents itself. It is the manifestation of the unconscious mind that
assists us in overcoming our one-sidedness and estrangement. According
to Jung, the Self (big S, ie, the central core and totality of life, and
not little s self) wants life fully developed and integrated. Dreams,
visions, and religious experiences present those parts of ourselves (or
reality) of which we are not conscious. It is in the process of receiving
and integrating these contents of the unconscious "other" that
we become more whole and truly individual persons.
Jung's map of the psyche includes the ego, persona, shadow, complex, anima/animus, Self, introversion, extroversion and the like. Jung saw problems in opposites (or the antinomies) and looked for a resolution of this duality into unity, writing, "The Self then functions as a union of opposites and thus constitutes the most immediate experience of the Divine which it is psychologically possible to imagine" (CW 11, par. 396). The Self is the slow, gradual realization of a divine cosmic center in the unconscious psyche of the individual. It is interesting to look at the nature of psychological projection and its purpose of bringing about reconciliation and wholeness, as well as Jung's method for becoming a unified whole. His method of becoming an individual and becoming whole off-sets the simple method of belief or identification with collective roles or values that bring authentic life.
We are confronted with a new ethic when we truly become our authentic selves as opposed to being adaptive selves (just part of a family system, a national system, or a system of social organization). To be fully human is to find a way to be an individual in participation with the various systems of social organizations in which we live. Essentially, however, the true core of ourselves comes from the experience of being our unique individual self and knowing that the core of this is transcendent of our ego-conscious orientation. It encounters us and demands that we become truly whole and find a way to manifest this in our daily lives in a loving way. In the last chapter of Jung's "so-called" autobiography" Memories, Dreams and Reflections, he sums up the issue of this mystery of life by saying, "In the final analysis we are all victims of cosmogonic love." It is our duty and destiny to find a way to become conscious of this love then manifest it in our individual and social lives. Jung held fast to the notion of love as in the Greek word eros, that power in the human psyche to overcome estrangement (be it emotional, physical, rational, or ethical) and to be an authentic creative and self-expressive person. To be such is to actualize the depth of human freedom and responsibility.
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