Sunday, July 10, 2022

 



INVISIBLE REALITY

      Jung writes, “What is real is that which has real effects.”  In our rigid three-dimensional conscious constructs, we tend to define reality as that which is concrete and tangible, excluding anything of a spiritual nature.  Yet, the spiritual has real effects.  Even a cursory self-reflection will confirm the validity of Jung’s statement.  The spiritual is real.
     When I was growing up, it was the custom in our small Catholic community to pray the rosary as part of a funeral wake.  The effect on my young self was extreme boredom mixed with wonderment that adults behaved this way.  However, in thinking about this ritual as an adult, I can see the real effects of rote recitation and meditation on the mysteries of the rosary—the joyful, the sorrowful, and the glorious.  What human life hasn’t been touched by joy, sorrow, and glory?  What resonances are set up in the depths of the souls of the living?  What evokes the sacredness of life like those intoned prayers, drawing mourners into an unconscious unity of spirit?  Who knows what the effects were on those people around me?  On me?  On the departed soul?  Surely it had at least as much impact as an invisible wind rustling through trees.
     The psychological impact of formal prayer is that it tends to align consciousness with semi-conscious, established patterns that have served humankind well for a very long time.  For a consciousness mired in some less-than-healthy unconscious pattern, prayer can be a way of getting  “unstuck.”  The mysteries of the rosary are built on New Testament stories which recount the life story of one of the most developed personalities in human history, someone fully individuated, i.e., who completely realized both the human and the spiritual dimensions of existence.  
     For another example of invisible effects, consider gazing on a full moon.  Even thinking about the image of a full moon right now conjures up emotion, memory, awe, and mystery.  I rarely look at a full moon without wondering about peoples over millennia who saw this same sight, who relied on it to mark the passage of time, to know when to move or to harvest crops; who began to associate it with the cycle of a woman’s life and the mysterious absence of the cycle with an impending birth, to predict the movements of the tides, even eventually to know when to celebrate the Paschal Mystery itself.   What knowledge the spirit of the moon has imparted to humanity over the ages!  What knowledge does the physical world hold, awaiting a consciousness sufficiently capacious to apprehend it?
     If you haven’t seen the movie, “Moonstruck,” I urge you to watch it.  It will awaken some spiritual awareness without ever touching on anything religious or dogmatic.  I would argue that we are all a bit moonstruck and it would do us well to recognize and celebrate it.
     Whenever anything intangible and haunting is evoked in us, whether it be in seeing the flag, in hearing a moving poem, in playing and replaying a song in our minds, in being visited by the memory of a deceased loved one, or in a thousand other ways in which a current experience ties us back to an old memory trace, we experience the movement of an invisible spirit. 

     A favorite poem of mine is “elegy” by W.S. Merwyn:

who would i tell it to

That simple sentence, sans capitalization or punctuation, always evokes such depth of emotion in me that I know it brings me into solidarity with every other human being who has grieved in ways beyond language or explanation.  Why is it that the Gerard Manley Hopkins’ opening line, “Margaret, are you grieving over goldengrove unleaving,” pops into my mind frequently and at odd times?  I can only conclude that there is some unseen but very real force at work in my being.  It is a force of some power, and it is arresting.
     Of course, in our romance-besotted modern life, no one among us would deny the effects of love or its life-changing, life-enhancing power.  Yet, few of us would identify love as a spirit, but in the truest sense of the word, it is spiritual.  And in the sense that Jung defines “real,” it is real.  “What I did for Love” is more than a lovely song; it is a testament to the power of love.  
     Jung was interested in the psychology of the human person and in the ways reality, seen and unseen, can call forth richness of experience and wholeness of personality.  Whether we approach the spiritual through a formal religion or through a religious, reverent attitude toward the people and the world within and around us matters little.  What is important, from a psychological point of view, is that we not neglect all of experience.  
     To live in a reality that consists only of things, one that must be explained by cause and effect is to live in a carved-out, desiccated existence.  To live in a world of things is to see and understand people and ourselves only as objects to be manipulated and managed.  To live in a strict cause-and-effect universe is to miss perhaps the largest parts of existence, the parts that respond to mythic patterns, the forces that, rather than pushing us from the past, are pulling us into the future. 
     It is a basic tenet of Analytical (Jungian) Psychology that we as conscious moderns have a responsibility to understand the spiritual forces that move us as best we can, learn to cooperate with those that are benevolent, and resist those that are not.  External authority, while important for civil living, can also lead us very much in undesirable directions if it is not reconciled with the individual spirits that inhabit all of us.     
     A careful reflection about spiritual forces leads me to conclude that there are a myriad of invisible agencies that have very real effects and that are shaping our lives, our relationships, and our actions in unknown and sometimes undesirable ways.  What our individual and collective futures become is, in no small part, of our own choosing and attitude toward the real.


Saturday, April 23, 2022

 

A BRIEF LOOK INTO C.G. JUNG'S AION

Rose F. Holt, M.A., Jungian Analyst

April 22, 2022


On April 22, 2022, I gave an updated lecture on Jung's tome, AION, via Zoom, for the C. G. Jung Society of St. Louis jungstlouis.org.  The occasion was a benefit for the Society's Scholarship Fund.  The lecture will be followed by two on-line study groups to discuss the work further.  

Here is the text of my lecture.  Accompanying slides are below. 



AION TALK - APRIL 22, 2022  [SLIDE 1]



GOALS [Slide 2]


I’ve set some goals for our time together and they all center around the issue of religion and religious traditions in the development of personality.  Because “religion” is such a laden word, I will use a less-charged definition of the word in this discussion, Jung’s definition.  God is also a word with many meanings.  In my talk, please know I mean god-image, the ways humankind visualizes, defines, and understands its gods.  And, of course our image changes over time.  The god-images from antiquity have been updated.  The god-image of my childhood is hardly applicable to my life today. 


JUNG [Slide 3]


Many of you know a great deal about C.G. Jung.  Briefly he was a Swiss psychiatrist, early collaborator with Sigmund Freud, who struck out on his own and left us a huge body of work, some 20 plus volumes (more yet to be published) based on his lifetime of psychoanalytic work with individuals, his own deep Inner experiences (explained and artistically illustrated in his RED BOOK), his theoretical researches, and psychological theories.  AION, published in 1945, is our subject this evening.  


Experience meant a great deal to Jung, his own and that of his patients.  He famously said, “Learn all the theories but throw them out when you meet with a living person.  Every person is unique and requires a unique understanding.”  Of course, self-understanding looms large in the Jungian approach.  There are many hints in AION that can help us with self-understanding


WHO WAS AION - IMPORTANCE TO JUNG. [Slide 4]


Aion was a Mithraic God dating from the 2nd and 3rd Century.  He represents an ancient archetypal pattern in the psyche, the time principle active in human life. The figure has a human body, the head of lion, and is encoiled by a snake.  


JUNG’S 1913 DREAM. [SLIDE 5]


Jung became interested in Aion after he had this fantasy in December of 1913 (at age 38) early on in his creative illness:  I saw the snake approach me.  She came close and began to encircle me and press me in her coils.  The coils reached up to my heart.  I realized as I struggled, that I had assumed the attitude of the Crucifixion.  In the agony and the struggle, I sweated so profusely that the water flowed down on all sides of me.  I felt that my face had taken on the face of an animal of prey, a lion or a tiger.  [1925 Lectures, p. 96]


Jung took his dreams and fantasies very seriously.  All his major life decisions were guided by them.  In his old age, he wrote that for much of his life he had been gripped, even controlled by an inner daimon that pressed him on in his work.  He may have been recalling his early encounter with the god Aion.  I’ve come to believe Aion is a shape-shifter.


RELIGION - DEFINITIONS  [SLIDES 6, 7, 8, 9]


IGNATIUS LOYOLA’S OPENING SENTENCE TO HIS FOUNDATION  (SLIDE 10]


JUNG’S PSYCHOLOGICAL TRANSLATION  [SLIDE 11]


MONOIMOS QUOTE  [SLIDE 12]


Jungian analysts emphasize inner experience, not so much a patient’s adaptations to reality, though we certainly do not ignore necessary adaptation.  Analysis, is appropriate for people already adequately adapted, perhaps even over-adapted.  In psychoanalysis with individuals, we focus on clients’ experiences, their feelings, their world view, their issues, their stories for themselves.  We explore their and our own dreams and fantasies for understanding and guidance.  Jung, in his practice, avoided all theory, taking a completely phenomenological approach, phenomena meaning “what shows itself, what shines through.”  He was guided by Monoimos dictum.  What began to shine through for Jung was the vastness of the human psyche, much of it unexplored, and the potentiality within psyche for expanding individual consciousness.  What shines through if we don’t interfere too much can be astonishing.  


ORDINARY CONSCIOUSNESS  [SLIDE 13]


Jung begins AION by describing various elements of the individual psyche and the ways they function.  In this sketch I’ve tried to illustrate the parts of psyche most of us are conscious of in our first decades.  We get information from the outer world from our psychological functions:  intuition, feeling, thinking, and sensation.  Our consciousness is extremely elastic, capable of expanding over our entire lifetime.  This area, the personal unconscious, consists of all the repressed, difficult, unacceptable parts of ourselves that have found no welcoming outlet in the outer world.  Our defense mechanisms for keeping these factors out of our awareness include regression, excess emotionality, projection, and perseveration.  These shadow characteristics are problematic for us and may begin to interfere with our conscious functioning.  This area, the persona, includes the adapted ways we have of meeting the world.  In dreams clothing or lack thereof is often symbolic of the ways we are adapted or maladapted.  When painful eruptions (complex reactions) occur in our personal unconscious, our personas often breakdown.  We are embarrassed, ashamed, exposed.  “I don’t know what came over me.”  “I was beside myself.”  The expression “saving face” relates to the persona.


Ego consciousness can be sort of an amalgam of one’s idea of oneself with rules of behavior, an invisible trellis of idea, parental dictums, cliches, institutional norms shaped and determined by personal factors.  


It’s not all bad news because there are wonderful parts of ourselves awaiting development in the personal unconscious.  We see these potentialities in dreams when some admired figure appears announcing possibilities for the individual. We often shrink back from the implications of such a figure because of the work, effort, and change required for making it real in our lived experience.


AN INDIVIDUATING CONSCIOUSNESS   [SLIDE 14]


This sketch illustrates Jung’s more expansive view of the personality and the psyche.  Contained in the inner world are archetypal patterns and instinctual energies.  Aion’s energies  reside here.  Who among us hasn’t been gripped by a project or creative work that did not let us go until it was realized?  In a very real sense, that is the energy of Aion though our ego is apt to take credit.


AQUARIAN SIGN - THE WATER BEARER  [SLIDE 15]


When an individual breaks through his/her personal unconscious, conscious contact with this larger world becomes possible.  No one knows quite how or why it happens but such a breakthrough is often felt as healing, or, to use an old-fashioned concept, as redeeming.  A relationship with an inner world as interesting, fascinating, and troubling as relationship with the outer world becomes possible. It is as if the fish discovers water.

 

Before the age of reason when intellect began to dominate consciousness, contact between these worlds was effected by religious rites, sacraments, and rituals.  The individual could acquire a deep faith in something ineffable and larger than itself.  Of course, many people still do.  People unable to muster an abiding faith are not so lucky.  


Consciousness (our fish out of the water)—aware of itself and aware of its source, the unconscious—is able to dip into the waters selectively and pour from it.  (The symbol for the looming Aquarian Age is the water bearer. )


INDIVIDUATING PSYCE  [SLIDE 16]


Most of this part of the psyche remains largely unconscious; we only know it by its effects on our lives.  Aphrodite Is alive and well here as are the patterns and energies of Dionysus, Athena, Hecate, Mars, Zeus, Jesus, and others, among them the ancestors.  Jung began to realize this part of the psyche is common to all humankind, that its archetypal patterns inform and shape our consciousness in ways we are generally oblivious to.  Patterns for family, mother, father, journey, love, hate, jealousy, vocation, monsters, angels, devils are all contained within this collective unconscious.  Individually in our personal consciousness, we wrestle with the energies that emerge from here, usually believing they are our energies, our demons, our personal possessions.  A better and more accurate assessment of the situation is that we can be readily possessed by them but do not realize it.


With the understanding of its relationship with water, the individuating ego (our fish) can no longer deal with the contents of the deep in its old, more limited ways.


THE SELF  [SLIDE 17]


In his own experiences and in the experiences of his patients, Jung discovered an archetype of the Self, a central organizing principle in the psyche.   He soon realized that there is a mysterious, growing and developing relationship between this self archetype and the ego.  Both serve as the executives of their domain, the ego in consciousness, the self in the unconscious.  It is a difficult relationship for the ego to develop because it is reluctant to yield any part of its fiefdom. Usually it has to lose many skirmishes and battles before it will admit defeat.  Once communication is established (usually due to a fantasy, a dream, a numinous experience, and some painful defeats), a budding relationship between ego and self begins and can prove a great boon for the individual.  This line of communication—ego to self; self to ego—is called the transcendent function.  Though concept it is, we can know it only through experience.  It is as different as a menu is from the meal.


In AION Jung traces the emergence of a new energy from the unconscious, a developing archetype with the primary symbol of Christ and how it has been assimilated by both consciousness and the collective unconscious over two millennium.  There are various symbols for this developing archetype—Buddha, Mohammed, Tao—all interpreted differently, in conflicting ways.  Dubbing this reality the self moved it from the religious to the psychological, more ordinary realm and out of the realm of metaphysics.  For many of us, experiences of the self take the place of an often unrealizable faith.


Jung was long taken with the problem of evil.  Christian dogma has defined its god-image as all-good, omniscient, and omnipotent.  What then is the problem with Allah?  With Mohammed?  Whence then comes evil?   The theological answer is that it emerges from the human realm.  In his work with patients and in his self-understanding, Jung saw there were mighty forces existent in the unconscious that could overpower an individual, a group, a people, a religion, and often did.  Remember, he published AION in 1945.  Personal conscience, cultural norms, government, laws, institutions, religions, parental dictums, the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes are guidelines people have used to handle the problem of evil—with varying degrees of success.  


Jung was fascinated with the biblical character Job, a just and devout man who never gave up trying to be “good enough.”  He never stopped insisting that Yahweh remember the covenant he had made with his people.  Job remembered when Yahweh, in his unconsciousness, did not.


Jung’s “Answer to Job” was Jesus, who confronted the cruel, impersonal, unconscious Yahweh so directly that the very nature of Yahweh changed.  There was a pronounced shift in the god-image.  One very human, civilized, suffering consciousness changed the arrangement between humankind and its god-image.  Job and Jesus were fine; it was the unfeeling, unconscious Yahweh who had the problem.  You could say Job diagnosed the problem, and Jesus began the treatment.  It took a very long time.


A DREAM  [SLIDE 18]


As luck would have it, just yesterday a client brought a dream that illustrates what this shift in the background god-image looks like, long imaged in the Christian world as father and son  The dreamer is a woman in in her 60’s and has wrestled with important issues for a long time.  The dream:


A mafia-type man has tied me up and is holding me captive in a basement.  His son releases me.  I want to date the son but am embarrassed because my home is so modest, beneath him.  As we are leaving I am worried the father will take me captive again.  Instead he offers me a drink.


The dream speaks to this woman in her language.  She was raised Catholic, schooled in Catholic dogma that never really meant much to her.  She is religious in the sense of our definition but definitely no longer Catholic.  The dream seizes on an archetypal story—father, son and holy spirit—to deliver a very personal message.  And, true to real human feeling, she does not feel worthy.


Michelangleo’s “The Captive [Slide 19] 


It is the problem of  all of us: dealing with the energies that flow through us that can and do hold us back, tie us in knots, keep us captive.  Our mostly unconscious god-image is a way we filter the energies that break through.  Religions have for millennia been the way humankind has tried to mitigate them.


In a conversation with my friend Rick Vaughn, I got a clearer understanding of the mechanism by which the illusion of “If only I could be good enough” thinking (Job’s struggle) is perpetuated.  Rick pointed out that our modern Christmas Story, “I will get what I hope for if only I can be good enough, and I know Santa Claus is tracking my behavior.  Naturally, I will never have all my wishes fulfilled, therefore I have failed in some way.”  You can see how that myth has morphed into today’s “Prosperity Gospel.”  God showers his riches on people he favors and approves of.  Of course, if our personal god-image is “all good,” so any failing is mine to own, the responsibility can be crushing.  Seems our god-image goes to some lengths to escape guilt.  We, of course, being made in its image and likeness, do, too.


It was in the Job-Yahweh and the more personal Father-Son relationship between Yahweh and Jesus that Jung found the meaning and value of human consciousness.  Each of us can attempt, perhaps is tasked, to develop a consciousness capable of confronting, transforming, and humanizing a bit of those amoral unconscious energies that emanate from the psyche or the unconscious.    


The God-image of Christianity is a of kind, loving, gentle god, but the thundering, angry older god-images can and do still break through to possess the consciousness of individuals and groups.  You could understand the war in Ukraine as an unleashing of primal, archaic  energies (evil, in a word) from deep in the psyche.  Atheism is a special case.  If ego consciousness has no conception, no frame for any kind of reality outside its purview, it has a great need for repression.  Fervent atheism, from a Jungian point of view, is overcompensated doubt.  Invisibility is a clever way our unconscious god-image escapes guilt and responsibility.


For the Christian community, the individual man Jesus struggled and overcame the frightening and dangerous unconscious energies that drove people in the Roman Empire.  Assimilating a Christ consciousness means that an individual has learned to mitigate devastating psychic energies so that they are not unleashed in his/her life.  Jung saw that assimilation as the task of the Piscean Age.  However, in making the Christ figure all-good, Christianity swept evil under the rug. All that repressed energy found release in horrific ways, but the Christian world faulted the human realm so that the real source of evil remained undetected.  Dubbing these energies “the devil” was a apotropaic move and a clever way our god-image protected its reputation.  In the new emerging Aquarian Age, presumably many are equipped with an adequate consciousness to effect a civilizing influence on dangerous energies still alive and well in the unconscious.  


In a personal analysis, investigation and illumination of the shadow side of the personality, those aspects of us that have necessarily been repressed, ignored, or remain undeveloped, play a big part.  The shadow side of Christianity includes any concept of a supreme being less than all perfect. In a parallel fashion, most of us early in life take on an ego identity, that is, a view of ourselves, usually as a “good” person while our less-stellar qualities reside in our unconscious shadow.  Church authorities are guilty of the same sin.


The church has used dogma, declarations of heresy, and its authority to repress and suppress certain shadow aspects of Christianity.  As is true for the individual, repression, (and when that fails, suppression) are difficult to maintain when an individual and a group become more conscious.  Gnosticism and alchemy were two areas of opposing thought that emphasized experience and mystery over dogma.  They were excluded from organized church teaching.  Christianity, especially the Catholic Church, through institutionalization, councils, declarations of heresy, the sacraments, and its commanding authority, relegated many contrary issues to its shadow.  Jung, in his analysis of the 2000 years of the history of Christianity carefully examines these shadow aspects.  All this is the subject of AION.

 

AION AND ASSIMILATION - Aion is an ancient archetypal pattern in the psyche.

So, if we entertain the idea that divine energies are autonomous forces that grip us, as Jung argues, his encounter with the god Aion set the stage for the rest of his life.  Aion, the time principle active in the human psyche, set the general course for the rest of his life.  You could say it squeezed out of him the best he had to offer.


What does it mean to be gripped by an archetypal pattern?  (Archetype meaning simply “a pattern of behavior.”)  We see this happening all the time but have different language to explain it.  My grand nephew Brett is an example.  He played sports in high school and suffered injuries that took him to physical therapy.  That experience awakened in him a pattern he felt compelled to fulfill.  After years of volunteer work, academic study, and clinical work, he became a physical therapist.  He awakened to, then fulfilled an ancient archetypal pattern, the healer, that became his life’s work. 


There are many such patterns, some benevolent, some malevolent.  To be gripped by one can be a blessing and a curse.  Not to be gripped, to be insulated from unconscious energies may actually be preferable.  Common wisdom is that if the unconscious doesn’t trouble you, best you not trouble it.  Trouble drives people into therapy.  Hidden in life’s vexations may be this need to fulfill some as-yet unknown pattern.  The approach most Jungians take in working with individuals is to help them discover then muster up the will to flesh out their own unique life patterns.  Put another way, you might as well be you because everyone else is taken.


AION represents Jung’s final thoughts on a vital issue that engages everyone, though not many people give much thought to it.  The issue:  One’s personal relationship with the cosmos, or one’s cosmology, how it changes over time for an individual and for a culture.


We all have a sort of cosmology.  It can range from “I am captain of my fate and determine everything that happens in my life” to “I am a chip in the ocean, swept about by forces over which I have no control.”  Most of us fall somewhere between these two extremes, but generally don’t think about it.  Second half of life issues are often precipitated by a pressing need to understand and rethink one’s cosmology, to answer pressing questions:  Who am I really?  How might I live differently so as to tackle the vexing problems in my life—relationships, job, inner discontents, my neurotic tendencies?  Understood and approached adequately, it can be a time of tremendous growth in consciousness.


Jung’s view of the meaning and purpose of consciousness, i.e., the incarnation of unconscious energies into the world for its betterment, lends enormous dignity to the individual.  What we do and how we do it matters.  


MEISTER ECKHART QUOTE  [SLIDE 20]


In casting about for how one might do that, I found this quote:


“Wisdom consists in doing the next think you have to do, doing it with your whole heart, and finding delight in doing it.”


FEELING STATE OF THE PERSON IN PROCESS   [SLIDE 21]


“The state of imperfect transformation, merely hoped for and waited for, does not seem to be one of torment only, but of positive, if hidden happiness. It is the state of someone who, in his/her wanderings among the mazes of his/her psychic transformation comes upon a secret happiness which reconciles him/her to his/her apparent loneliness. In communing with him/herself, he/she finds not deadly boredom and melancholy but an inner partner, more than that, a relationship that seems like a secret love, or like a hidden springtime, when the green seed sprouts from the barren earth, holding out the promise of future harvests." 

                                     [From Vol. 14, MYSTERIUM CONIUNCTIONIS, Para. 623



INDIVIDUATING PERSON. [SLIDE 22]


Though it risks setting up an impossible standard, I want to share the best description for an individuating person I have found.  It comes from a fictional work, Morris West’s Shoes of the Fisherman.



“Yesterday I met a whole person. It is a rare experience, but always an illuminating and ennobling one. It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment, or the courage, to pay the price… One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover, and yet demand no easy return on love. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, yet open always to the total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.”  

                                                        Morris West,  THE SHOES OF THE FISHERMAN















Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Lecture: "Reflections on Jung's AION," February 1, 2020


Saturday, February 1, 2020, 7:00 - 9:00 PM at First Congregational Church UCC, St. Louis, MO.  For additional information or to register, visit www.jungstl.org

AION is perhaps Jung’s most challenging and difficult work but also one of his richest.  In this lecture, Rose will present information and insights from this text that are directly relevant to our understanding and experience of the Christian era and to our own developing sense of self-identity.  Jungian Psychology, at root, attempts to provide some answers to the essential and deeply personal questions of life—"Who am I?” and “How then shall I live?”  AION provides a large and coherent frame from which we might better explore these questions.

AION is Jung’s report on his researches into the formation and development of the Christian Era, where it fits in human history, the people and themes that have shaped it, the general direction it has taken over the Piscean Age, and his conclusions about its future unfolding.  Jung applies his process of individual analysis to the collective consciousness of the Christian Era.  Just as analysis of an individual opens up a much greater understanding of both the totality of one’s consciousness and its limitations, Jung’s analysis of the Christian Era provides an extremely comprehensive view of the Christian Era, its totality and its limitations.

Our identity and personality are largely determined within the structures of family, social milieu, religious affiliation, educational and governmental institutions, and the general tenor of our time.  We are born into these structures, and they form and inform us in many unconscious ways.  As Americans, we are uncommonly proud of our independent selves, how our egos are the determining factor of our lives.  Even a cursory self-examination can correct that innocent fiction and cause us to become ever more curious about who we really are, the totality of our personhood, which, happily and unhappily, is much larger than just our ego understanding.

It is a mysterious fact that as individuals, we are in a parallel process with history.


Learning Objectives

1.  Participants will better understand the significance of religious traditions in the development of personality and consciousness.
2.  Practitioners will be better able to navigate the areas of difficulty for many people whose experiences of religion have been problematic.
3.  Participants will better understand the frame of the Christian era and, thus, the impact and influence of that frame on their continuing development of consciousness.
4.  Participants, whether affiliated with a particular religious tradition or not, will gain tools from Jungian thought that can facilitate their continuing maturation of personality.

Monday, October 07, 2019

On line Study Group - Pat Berry's Book on Dreams, facilitated by Rose F. Holt


In this Fall 2019 study group to be conducted online, participants will read and discuss three chapters of Pat Berry's book, Echo's Subtle Body, chapters that provide an excellent overview of a Jungian approach to dreams.  To join the study group, participants will need a computer with a camera and high-speed internet connection.  We will use the Zoom service, which is extremely user-friendly and requires only responding to an invitation to the group meetings.

For further information or to enroll, please go to www.jungstl.org.  If you have questions or concerns, please e-mail me at www.rosefholt@gmail.com.


Friday, August 09, 2019

Readings on Jung Study Group - September, 2019


I will be facilitating a seminar-style study group for the C. G. Jung Society of St. Louis in September, 2019.  The study group will read and discuss two chapters on the topic of dreams in Patricia Berry's acclaimed work, Echo's Subtle Body.  The study group will meet from 7:00 to 9:00 pm on Wednesday, September 04, 11, 18, 25.  

This Study Group is one of three the Society has organized in advance of its upcoming Jung in the Heartland Conference for which Patricia Berry and Thomas Moore are the featured presenters.

For more information or to register, please go to www.jungstl.org.

Learning Objectives:

1.     Practitioners will gain a broad perspective on approaches to dreams.
2.     Participants will develop an appreciation for the value of dreams and their place in one’s personal psychology.
3.     Participants who are practitioners will understand the value and importance of separating their own biases and attitudes from those of their clients so that the dream can be allowed to “speak for itself.”




Saturday, June 15, 2019

OPPORTUNITY TO STUDY JUNGIAN PSYCHOLOGY



The Heartland Association of Jungian Analysts (HAJA) is preparing for its third year of seminars in Jungian Studies.  The seminars meet one weekend a month for nine months, beginning in September, rotating locations in St. Louis, MO, and Rogers, AR.  Teaching is done by Jungian analysts, and the seminars can be an avenue for eventual training to become a psychoanalyst.  The program is open to anyone with a four-year college history and an interest in Jungian Psychology.

For further information, visit www.heartlandjungians.org or contact me at roseholt@aol.com or 314-740-6207.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

BTS and "Jung's Map of the Soul"



BTS, the young Korean pop group, has suddenly become a worldwide phenomenon.  Group members are interested in Jungian Psychology and have taken the title of Murray Stein's book, Jung's Map of the Soul, as the title for their newest album.  [BTS translates to Beyond the Scene.]

Here are some links to recent information about the group:









Saturday, March 02, 2019

Tickets Selling Fast! Don't miss out.



C. G. JUNG SOCIETY PLAY PRODUCTION

“ANSWER TO JOE” by Rick Vaughn



Produced by the C. G. Jung Society of St Louis
            
March 22 and 23, 7:30 pm.  March 24, 2:00 pm
Kranzberg Arts Center
501 N. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO  63103

Tickets available December 15:   $25    ($20 for Society Friends – for information about becoming a subscribing member, go to www.cgjungstl.org

All tickets through MetroTix.com  (314) 534-1111
https://www.metrotix.com/events/detail/answer-to-joe
Or Fox Theatre Box Office

2 CEU's available for attendance at a performance and the following discussion. ($15 Fee).  Apply before performance or at break between the performance and the discussion with the playwright and a Jungian Analyst.

The C. G. Jung Society is producing a new play, “Answer to Joe.”  The play is loosely based on Jung’s Answer to Job, and deals with the same themes—the nature of God, the reality of the divine vs. an individual’s image of it, and the psychological implications of an individual’s often unconscious god-image.  Though these are deeply serious topics, the play presents them in modern understandable dress and treats them with considerable humor. 

Rick Vaughn, author of “Answer to Joe,” has long been interested in Jungian Psychology and its potential for resolving inner conflicts in ways that release creative energies.  In presenting his work for possible production by the Jung Society, he said, “My intention was to communicate some of the profound, transformative insights that I discovered from reading Answer to Job. In the process of writing, it became clear that the work was much more personal.  This story is mystory.  It may well be a story for many others.  Job’s working out his relationship with the overwhelming and overpowering energies of Yahweh-- which Jung equates with an individual’s coming to terms with the unconscious—has been my quest for decades.  My own god-image of a punitive, demanding, and intractable old patriarch needed considerable updating.  In writing the play, I knew I was somewhat describing my own inner conflicts and working them to a more satisfying end.  I seemed to be engaging the energies bound up in an old god-image and tempering some of them so they could be directed creatively.  I’m happy with the result, and in some strange way, I feel my ‘god’ is, too.” 

“Answer to Joe,” is the second play the Jung Society has produced.  In February 2017, our first one “Casting Shadows” by Carol Haake was presented to sold-out audiences for three performances.  We hope for similar enthusiasm for “Answer.”

Ti

Thursday, January 31, 2019

THE CALF PATH



  • One day, through the primeval wood,
    A calf walked home, as good calves should;
    But made a trail all bent askew,
    A crooked trail, as all calves do.
    Since then three hundred years have fled,
    And, I infer, the calf is dead.
    But still he left behind his trail,
    And thereby hangs my moral tale.
    The trail was taken up next day
    By a lone dog that passed that way;
    And then a wise bellwether sheep
    Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
    And drew the flock behind him, too,
    As good bellwethers always do.
    And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
    Through those old woods a path was made,
    And many men wound in and out,
    And dodged and turned and bent about,
    And uttered words of righteous wrath
    Because ’twas such a crooked path;
    But still they followed — do not laugh —
    The first migrations of that calf,
    And through this winding wood-way stalked
    Because he wobbled when he walked.
    This forest path became a lane,
    That bent, and turned, and turned again.
    This crooked lane became a road,
    Where many a poor horse with his load
    Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
    And traveled some three miles in one.
    And thus a century and a half
    They trod the footsteps of that calf.
    The years passed on in swiftness fleet.
    The road became a village street,
    And this, before men were aware,
    A city’s crowded thoroughfare,
    And soon the central street was this
    Of a renowned metropolis;
    And men two centuries and a half
    Trod in the footsteps of that calf.
    Each day a hundred thousand rout
    Followed that zigzag calf about,
    And o’er his crooked journey went
    The traffic of a continent.
    A hundred thousand men were led
    By one calf near three centuries dead.
    They follow still his crooked way,
    And lose one hundred years a day,
    For thus such reverence is lent
    To well-established precedent.
    A moral lesson this might teach
    Were I ordained and called to preach;
    For men are prone to go it blind
    Along the calf-paths of the mind,
    And work away from sun to sun
    To do what other men have done.
    They follow in the beaten track,
    And out and in, and forth and back,
    And still their devious course pursue,
    To keep the path that others do.
    They keep the path a sacred groove,
    Along which all their lives they move;
    But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
    Who saw the first primeval calf!
    Ah, many things this tale might teach —
    But I am not ordained to preach.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

GRASPING THE NEW GOD-IMAGE


Edward Edinger, in the slender tome, The New God Image, tells us that there are three steps involved in understanding Jung’s material concerning the new God-image. One must be able to perceive the new God-image and that requires mastering certain epistemological premises. One must actually perceive for one’s self this living reality and the impact it has on one’s own psychology as well on the psychology of the collective. Jung (and analytical psychology) can teach the how, but it is not something taken as an article of faith. It is something one must do for one’s self, a kind of God-has-no-grandchildren concept. And the third step requires a developing awareness of one’s own role in the transformation of the God-image, one’s part in the process of continuing incarnation.

Edinger manages to capture the essence of Jungian analysis in these three steps.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

"Answer to Joe," a New Play - C. G. Jung Society of St. Louis Production



March 22 and 23, 7:30pm. March 24, 2:00pm.

The C. G. Jung Society of St. Louis is producing a new play,
“Answer to Joe,” by Rick Vaughn.





Tickets now on sale.

Kranzberg Arts Center
501 North Grand
St. Louis, Mo 63103


All tickets sold through MetroTix.com (314-534-1111)
or Fox Theatre Box Office

Ticket prices: $25 ($20 for Friends of the C.G. Jung Society of St. Louis.
Friends received an e-mail with a code for discount purchase.)
The Kranzberg is a small theater, and, as was the case with the Society’s production of “Casting Shadows,” we anticipate all three performances of “Answer” will sell out.

Call the Jung Society (314-533-6809) or e-mail cgjungstl@yahoo.com for further information.


The C. G. Jung Society is producing a new play, “Answer to Joe.” The play is loosely based on Jung’s Answer to Job, and deals with the same themes—the nature of God, the reality of the divine vs. an individual’s image of it, and the psychological implications of an individual’s often unconscious god-image. Though these are deeply serious topics, the play presents them in modern understandable dress and treats them with considerable humor.

Rick Vaughn, author of “Answer to Joe,” has long been interested in Jungian Psychology and its potential for resolving inner conflicts in ways that release creative energies. In presenting his work for possible production by the Jung Society, he said, “My intention was to communicate some of the profound, transformative insights that I discovered in reading Answer to Job. In the process of writing, it became clear that the work was much more personal. This story is my story. It may well be a story for many others. Job’s working out his relationship with the overwhelming and overpowering energies of Yahweh-- which Jung equates with an individual’s coming to terms with the unconscious—has been my quest for decades. My own god-image of a punitive, demanding, and intractable old patriarch needed considerable updating. In writing the play, I knew I was somewhat describing my own inner conflicts and working them to a more satisfying end. I seemed to be engaging the energies bound up in an old god-image and tempering some of them so they could be directed creatively. I’m happy with the result, and in some strange way, I feel my ‘god’ is, too.”

“Answer to Joe,” is the second play the Jung Society has produced. In February 2017, our first one “Casting Shadows” by Carol Haake was presented to sold-out audiences for three performances. We hope for similar enthusiasm for “Answer.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

NEW PLAY - Jung Society OF St. Louis Production






C. G. JUNG SOCIETY PLAY PRODUCTION

“ANSWER TO JOE” by Rick Vaughn



Produced by the C. G. Jung Society of St Louis
            
March 22 and 23, 7:30 pm.  March 24, 2:00 pm
Kranzberg Arts Center
501 N. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO  63103

Tickets available December 15:   $25    ($20 for Society Friends – for information about becoming a subscribing member, go to www.cgjungstl.org

All tickets through MetroTix.com  (314) 534-1111
https://www.metrotix.com/events/detail/answer-to-joe
Or Fox Theatre Box Office

The C. G. Jung Society is producing a new play, “Answer to Joe.”  The play is loosely based on Jung’s Answer to Job, and deals with the same themes—the nature of God, the reality of the divine vs. an individual’s image of it, and the psychological implications of an individual’s often unconscious god-image.  Though these are deeply serious topics, the play presents them in modern understandable dress and treats them with considerable humor. 

Rick Vaughn, author of “Answer to Joe,” has long been interested in Jungian Psychology and its potential for resolving inner conflicts in ways that release creative energies.  In presenting his work for possible production by the Jung Society, he said, “My intention was to communicate some of the profound, transformative insights that I discovered from reading Answer to Job. In the process of writing, it became clear that the work was much more personal.  This story is mystory.  It may well be a story for many others.  Job’s working out his relationship with the overwhelming and overpowering energies of Yahweh-- which Jung equates with an individual’s coming to terms with the unconscious—has been my quest for decades.  My own god-image of a punitive, demanding, and intractable old patriarch needed considerable updating.  In writing the play, I knew I was somewhat describing my own inner conflicts and working them to a more satisfying end.  I seemed to be engaging the energies bound up in an old god-image and tempering some of them so they could be directed creatively.  I’m happy with the result, and in some strange way, I feel my ‘god’ is, too.” 

“Answer to Joe,” is the second play the Jung Society has produced.  In February 2017, our first one “Casting Shadows” by Carol Haake was presented to sold-out audiences for three performances.  We hope for similar enthusiasm for “Answer.”



Monday, December 10, 2018

Note about Jung's ANSWER TO JOB



Jung, above all, is convinced that we will find God within our own experiences, inner and outer.  His argument is that ego-consciousness swims in the unconscious.  Accepting that notion as a working hypothesis can help us discover and come to terms with all our split-off parts (our complexes) that swim with us (and sometime behave like big fish, e.g. Jonah swallowed up for three days).  Further, Jung posits the existence of a factor in the unconscious (the Self) that is the organizing principle of other contents.  The parallel process then is:  Self acts and organizes in the unconscious, and ego-consciousness acts and organizes in the world.  Our lifelong work then is forging a close working relationship between ego and Self.

Myth, fairy tales, religious scriptures, art, fiction are ways this process of unconscious becoming conscious (Yahweh seeing him/herself reflected and becoming conscious) has been encoded, (an unbreakable code to ego-consciousness dominated by rational thought and lacking in self-reflection.). Jung's emotional diatribe on “The Book of Job” is his attempt to break the code for his readers.

A Jungian approach, i.e., understanding scripture as revealing the psychological process of the development of consciousness, doesn't work or even make sense for people who get their spiritual needs met in an established church, synagogue, or mosque.  It is an effective path for those of us who no longer find comfort or solace within the frame of a religious structure.  Jungian psychology is but one more way for the religious function of the psyche to find expression, a way that engages the intellect and religious feeling.

Friday, November 02, 2018

JUNG SOCIETY STUDY GROUP - ANSWER TO JOB Fall 2018



Reflections on Jung's "Answer to Job"

There is an account in fiction that might help us understand what Jung is getting at in his "Answer to Job." In considering this topic, we would do well to remember that when we talk about "God" that we are really talking about our images and ideas about God. GOD is precisely what we do not know because whatever the entity God is, that entity is far beyond our human understanding.

In our course [St. Louis Jung Society "Jung Readings"], we are grappling with our images of God, trying to make them conscious and, in doing so, trying to see if they fit our reality. Most of us received our personal God-image while we were very young. And for most of us, that God-image is like our eyeglasses, that is to say, simply something which we see the world through but of which we are usually unaware. That said, let me return to the fictional account that will serve as an example.

The example comes from Robertson Davies’
The Manticore, the second book in his Deptford Trilogy. David Staunton, a successful but very neurotic barrister from Toronto has suffered a mid-life crisis. His symptoms are so severe that he takes himself to Zurich where he enters analysis with Dr. Johanna von Haller. David suffers from a father-complex. He has been shaped, formed, and dominated by his father; and in spite of considerable evidence to the contrary, can only see his father in a positive light.

After about a year of analysis, working with dreams and gathering together the threads of his life story, David has developed a fuller and more complete picture of his father. He has a dream, biblical in style, which he reports to Dr. Von Haller.

"‘I dreamed I was standing on a plain, talking with my father. I was aware it was Father, though his face was turned away. He was very affectionate and simple in his manner, as I don’t think I ever knew him to be in his life. The odd thing was that I couldn’t really see his face. He wore an ordinary business suit. Then suddenly he turned from me and flew up into the air, and the astonishing thing was that as he rose, his trousers came down, and I saw his naked backside.’
‘And what are your associations?’

‘Well, obviously it’s the passage in Exodus where God promises Moses that he shall see Him, but must not see His face; and what Moses sees is God’s back parts. As a child I always thought it funny for God to show his rump. Funny, but also terribly real and true. Like those extraordinary people in the Bible who swore a solemn oath clutching one another’s testicles. But does it mean that I have seen the weakness, the shameful part of my father’s nature because . . . .?  I’ve done what I can with it, but nothing rings true.’

‘Of course not, because you have neglected one of the chief principles of what I have been able to tell you about the significance of dreams. That again is understandable, for when the dream is important and has something new to tell us, we often forget temporarily what we know to be true. But we have always agreed, haven’t we, that figures in dreams, whoever or whatever they may look like, are aspects of the dreamer? So who is this father with the obscured face and the naked buttocks?’

‘I suppose he is my idea of a father–of my own father?’

‘He is something we would have to talk about if you decided to go on to a deeper stage in the investigation of yourself. Because your real father, your historical father, the man whom you last saw lying so pitiably on the dock with his face obscured in filth, and then so disheveled in his coffin with his face destroyed by your stepmother’s ambitious meddling, is by no means the same thing as the archetype of fatherhood you carry in the depths of your being, and which comes from–well, for the present we won’t attempt to say where.’"
In this dialogue, Davies may have had in mind an interesting and controversial statement Jung makes:
"I look upon the receiving of the Holy Spirit as a highly revolutionary fact which cannot take place until the ambivalent nature of the Father is recognized." [Collected Works, Vol. 18, Para. 1551]

All of Davies’
Deptford Trilogy is an interesting read and in many ways a fine introduction to some basic concepts of Jungian Psychology. I selected this particular passage to help illuminate Jung’s Answer. The character David is not a religious man but he has an unconscious and very masculine God-image that has been mediated to him through his personal father and through other significant men in his life. The same is true also of his feminine God-image which was mediated to him through his personal mother and through other significant women, including his stepmother. For "God" in both these instances, you could simply substitute "Power" because it is these masculine and feminine power-images that have formed and shaped David’s worldview, that is to say, shaped how he sees the world and how he seems himself and his role in that world.

As long as his vision is truncated by a one-sided development, David necessarily holds a narrow and rather naive conscious view of himself and his world. His complexes around mother and father make him sensitive and prone to black moods and fits of anger. What he has repressed about both figures, the good and the bad, lies unconscious in his psyche and rises up to bite him in ways that eventually are debilitating. He cannot deal with his father’s cruel and controlling ways because he literally cannot see them. He cannot deal with his birth mother’s influence and power over him because he simply does not recognize them.

In his analysis, he is able to uncover aspects of his unconscious personality (also mediated to him through mother and father) that have bedeviled him for decades and to gain a certain degree of freedom from behaviors and compulsions that previously controlled him.

Of course, each of us is in some ways a "David Staunton." We each have had our worldview and our personality shaped and influenced by significant people in our history. We each are blind to certain influences and forces that are very real but fall outside our field of vision. The more completely we think we see, the more vast our blind spots.

The prevailing and unquestioned image of God that has been mediated for us is that of a loving, kind, benevolent, omniscient, all-powerful deity. No matter our personal experiences to the contrary, most of us cling to the prevailing God-image. Jung, in the essay we are studying, calls all these God-image assumptions into question. He does so in a way that was upsetting when he published this work in 1952 and is upsetting when we read this work still. We might do well to reflect on the question of WHY calling these God-images into question and examining them is so disturbing. After all, if Jung’s notions about the God-image are only ideas and theories, why do they upset?


INTRODUCTION TO READINGS COURSE
JUNG’S ANSWER TO JOB

In this course, we are going to take up one of Jung’s most controversial works, his
Answer to Job. First, some background. Jung wrote Answer in 1951. On May 29, 1951, Jung wrote to Aniela JaffĂ©: "So it goes all the time: memories rise up and disappear again, as it suits them. In this way I have landed the great whale; I mean "Answer to Job." I can’t say I have fully digested this tour de force of the unconscious. It still goes on rumbling a bit, rather like an earthquake. I notice it when I am chiselling away at my inscription (which has made good progress). Then thoughts come to me, as for instance that consciousness is only an organ for perceiving the fourth dimension, i.e., the all-pervasive meaning, and itself produces no real ideas." [Letters, Vol. 2, pp 17-18.]

Again, on July 18, 1951, he wrote to Aniela Jaffé: "I am especially pleased that you could get into such close relationship with the second part of my book (
Answer). So far most people have remained stuck in the first. I personally have the second more at heart because it is bound up with the present and future. If there is anything like the spirit seizing one by the scruff of the neck, it was the way this book came into being." [Letters, Vol. 2, p. 20]

Clearly, Jung felt more that his
Answer to Job wrote him not vice versa. And he valued the second part of the work more than the first part. Let’s keep that in mind as we read and discuss the book. Which parts hold meaning for us?

In a letter to "Dr. H," dated August 30, 1951, Jung wrote: "You must pardon my long silence. In the spring I was plagued by my liver and had often to stay in bed and in the midst of this misere wrote a little essay (c.a. 100 typed pages) whose publication is causing me some trouble." [
Letters, Vol. 2, p. 21]

Even before his
Answer was published (in 1952), it provoked a firestorm of controversy, criticism, and rebuke. What was the firestorm all about? Jung’s biographer, Vincent Brome, writes:

"If one understands Jung’s thesis correctly, Job reveals a hubris which involves a higher form of justice than God himself and the challenge is met by the incarnation of Christ. In this interpretation Christ appears as a deliberate attempt to set right the balance between good and evil, to redeem the injustice God has committed toward Man. This perfection of God is achieved by union with Divine Wisdom or Sophia, the feminine counterpart of the Holy Spirit which reappears under the image of the Virgin Mary." [
Jung, Man and Myth, p. 254]

Only two years earlier, the Catholic Church had issued a papal pronouncement on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, an event Jung saw as an expression of the collective unconscious that was a sorely-need feminine compensation for the patriarchal one-sidedness of Christianity. As we shall see, Jung thought it was God’s estrangement with, or ‘forgetting’ of, Sophia that allowed him to treat Job so harshly.

Again, I quote from Brome’s biography:

"There were those who felt that
Answer to Job simultaneously committed the sins of blasphemy and arrogance: blasphemy that he should attempt to unravel the metamorphoses of the Holy Spirit in the manner of a neo-Gnostic and arrogance in making it conform to his own theories. Fierce controversy followed, with one school reading the book simply as a psychological explanation of Man’s conception of God, while others recoiled from the notion that any imperfection had ever appeared in the Holy Spirit. Ellenberger believed that the book could also be understood ‘as a cry of existential anguish from a man desperately seeking for a solution of the greatest of all philosophical riddles, the problem of evil’

"There remained a hostile handful who claimed that Jung had now appointed himself psychiatrist to God, diagnosed a divine sickness and successfully cured the Patient by applying his own theories. Eric Neumann, his old friend in Israel, wrote on 5 December 1951, "[Answer to Job] is a book that grips me profoundly. I find it the most beautiful and deepest of your books. In a certain sense it is a dispute with God similar to Abraham’s when he pleaded with God on account of the destruction of Sodom. In particular it is for me–for me personally–also a book against God who let 6 million of his people be killed, for Job is really Israel too.’" [Brome, p 254]

Jung’s reply to Neumann (January 5, 1952) clearly shows that he recognizes just what his "little essay" displays: ". . . the arrogance I had to summon up in order to be able to insult God? This gave me a bigger bellyache than if I had the whole world against me." [
Letters, p. 32]

There were many reactions to Jung’s
Answer. Victor White, a Dominican priest and close collaborator/friend of Jung’s, wrote a scathing review of the book. His views were so counter to Jung’s that the difference eventually ended their relationship. "As one critic put it succinctly if inelegantly, the two scholars (Jung and White) were able to maintain a respectful and cordial tone to their disagreement until Jung ‘cornered God the Father, pinned him to the nearest couch and promptly set about psychoanalysing him.’ Jung found God ‘guilty of being unconscious, having projected his shadow upon humanity, and of perpetuating a considerable amount of injustice and evil.’ When Jung concluded that Christian theology deprived God of the possibility of having a shadow, White was bound by the tenets of his faith to declare him wrong." [Bair, Jung, A Biography, p. 546]

For anyone interested in God, or in the nature of God, or in one’s relations with God, Jung’s ‘little essay’ raises disturbing questions. How does one reconcile the sometimes warring, vengeful, dangerous God/Yahweh of the Old Testament with the loving, compassionate, merciful Son of God of the New Testament? How is it that God could forget the covenant he made with God’s People and turn against them with such wrath at times?

In our readings course we will be revisiting one of the early issues of Christianity, the Marcion heresy. Marcion lived in the second century CE and held beliefs that were counter to those prevailing in Christian circles at the time. He believed there was no way to reconcile the Gods of the Old and New Testaments; their differences were just too great. He also believed that Jesus had revealed certain ‘truths’ that were available only to a select few (Gnosticism). And he believed that Christ’s nature was divine without the human element that the early church insisted upon. All three of these beliefs were eventually declared heretical.

As we study Jung’s Answer, we will be revisiting these ancient heresies and examining them for ourselves. Did the early Church Fathers settle these issues once and for all? Why are they important today? What do they have to do with us? Why should we care? What is the true nature of this entity we call God, the nature of the Christ/Man? Can we know?


I think exploring these kinds of questions and considering possible answers for ourselves is important because such exploration can be of help in our uncovering, i.e., making conscious, and possibly reformulating a living myth for our own lives.

If our myth is of a kind, loving, compassionate Father God, how do we reconcile a world in which evil runs rampant? If we are made in the image and likeness of this God, from whence evil? What about this God who allowed six million of his chosen people to die in the Holocaust? Elie Weisel has said the holocaust should make us revisit everything we ever thought about God. And what of the tsunami that killed upwards of 100,000 people?

If, as Jung suggests, the role of the conscious human being is to stand with God against God, what does that mean for us? Of course, a kind, loving, compassionate, all-knowing, all-powerful God has no need for such a posture on our part.

One way of looking at our Judeo-Christian scriptures is to see them as the ‘story’ of an individual and collective and unfolding/development of consciousness. It begins with the evictions from the idyllic garden of Eden, that state of not-knowing and innocence of childhood. There is the Moses kind of consciousness that unifies the personality/culture with law and order, leads it out of bondage, through difficult and dangerous passages. What about the God that strikes Moses down for a simple act of disobedience after decades of faithful service? That Moses consciousness cannot enter the ‘promised land.’


We will be examining the Job-type consciousness that keeps insisting God remember his better nature and the covenant God has made. Job does indeed stand with God against God. But what kind of God is it that needs a human reflection to remember his nature? What is the level of consciousness of the human person who does not question, does not reflect, does not accept any mirroring that would crack his/her belief system? Such a one is in dire need of a ‘Job’ to expand the controlling myth of his/her life.

And there is the Jesus-type consciousness that stands all prior understanding of the nature of God on its head. Where Yahweh would flatten the enemy, destroy it totally, this new God-Man shows and lives out a totally different kind of victory. As Jack Miles’ explains, ". . . Christians who have bound themselves to Christ sacramentally in his death will find themselves bound to him as well in his glorious resurrection. Their victory and God’s will be over death itself rather than over any one death-dealing human enemy. God will have achieved this victory for them not by defeating his human enemies but by allowing himself to be defeated by them and then triumphing impersonally over the defeat itself rather than personally over he enemies who inflicted the defeat." [Miles, "The Disarmament of God," p. 3, http://www.jackmiles.com/default.asp?id=28 ]

Or, put more succinctly by Anthony de Mello in his little story, "The Coconut":

"A monkey on a tree hurled a coconut
at the head of a Sufi.
The man picked it up, drank the milk,
ate the flesh, and made a bowl from the shell.

Thank you for your criticism of me." [The Song of the Bird, p. 163]

If we view our actions, both personally and collectively, in the light of a scriptural mythology of developing consciousness, those actions tell us a great deal about the state of our consciousness. Do we focus on defeating our enemy and raining fire and shame on their heads or do we focus on defeating the defeat our enemy has visited upon us?

I started this introduction with background and will return to background here. Jung wrote
Answer in 1951 when he was 76 years old. He spent three months of intense effort revising it. Deidre Bair in her recent biography writes about the last two decades of Jung’s life. (He died in 1961.)

"In the last two decades of Jung’s life, coinciding with the isolation and introspection imposed by the war, those who were close to him noticed changes in his attitude toward the world at large. In one of her succinct pronouncements, Jolande Jacobi described the major one: ‘He really wasn’t interested in anyone’s private life anymore. He was only interested in the ‘Big Dreams,’ in the collective archetypal world.’ Using his two infarcts as his excuse, he curtailed public appearances and refused to meet most new people. He . . . cut his analytic calendar drastically, seldom seeing more than four persons in any given day and then mostly for fifteen-minute conversations . . ."

His behavior created concerns for those around him. Jacobi put it this way: "‘When journalists came we were trembling and hoping that Muller the gardener gives the interviews because he is closer to reality. Jung lived now in another world.’


There were more visible extremes in his behavior as well. During the three months he took to revise the original text of Answer to Job, he closeted himself away for long hours each day, writing to the point of exhaustion. Jacobi described him as ‘moody in a rude and crude way, like a peasant . . . furious all the time.’ The usually fastidious Jung sometimes went several days without shaving or (as some of his intimates inferred) bathing, but Emma was always there to see that he wore clean clothing." [Jung, A Biography, p. 528]