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By Dr. Alvin B. Kuhn


* Edited by Juan Schoch (http://tekgnosis.typepad.com) for educational research purposes

When in a field of human interest and a science as important as that of psychology an epochal contribution has been made by an outstanding figure, it is of vital concern to Theosophy to scrutinize the development so as to determine what relation it may bear to Theosophy. Such a significant movement confronts us in the great contribution of the eminent and now-aging psychologist, Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, rated widely as the most profound investigator of psychic science in the special department known today as psychoanalysis. There is a supposition of some general prevalence that Jung has swung psychology fairly closely over toward Theosophy and even some idea that he has endorsed Theosophy. It is true that in an earlier work, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, he has written appreciatively of Theosophy’s approach to the problems of psychism. Much of his writing seems to indicate a commitment to fundamental Theosophical principles, underlying the occult constitution of man. In a survey that can not be either thorough or comprehensive it will be of interest to determine how closely his psychoanalytic science falls in line with the principles of occult psychology.

As a Theosophist sees it; the tremendous problem which modern academic psychology faces is to arrive at an understanding of psychic forces, their operation and rationale, without the basic technical knowledge of the mechanics of the psyche and its modes of consciousness which Theosophy has the enormous advantage of possessing. The current psychology knows nothing about the “occult” constitution of man, in which the organization of matter at several grades of atomic structure gives the psyche the power to function consciously at different levels, as the physical, the vital or pranic, the emotional, mental and spiritual, each implementing its own rate, grade and character of energic expression. A more detailed knowledge of this structural system of our psychic equipment enables the Theosophist to account for psychic phenomena upon which the conventional systems of current psychology can only blindly speculate.

Yet in spite of this default of the true scientific grounds of psychological competency modern psychology has made a prodigious forward stride in its truly epochal discovery of the “unconscious”. It is, however, still miles away from knowing that what it takes to be the simple subsistence of a realm of unconsciousness underlying our conscious awareness is by no means simple, but instead is a complex of a number of differentiated states or modes of unconscious subconsciousness, so to say. Just as physical science postulated the atom and believed it had the irreducible simple unit of mass structure, but then discovered some 14 more basic constituent particles to go along with the primary proton and electron, so psychoanalysis has yet to discover the several interrelated sub-elements that enter into the total complex of man’s conscious potential. Professional psychology has been the basis of the very apt comparison of the human consciousness with an iceberg: the perceptible consciousness of our waking state, they say, is the small upper visible section of the iceberg, while submerged out of sight beneath it is the immensely larger body of the unconscious. As a broad analogy the comparison well states the case. But consciousness is the product of a far more intricate and complicated structure of parts and elements than the iceberg. And “orthodox” psychology lacks the technical knowledge of these sub- and super-conscious states which the occult science stands ready to give it. Still we can feel that general psychology is progressing in the right direction taking it ever closer to Theosophy, and not away from it. The growing vogue of “parapsychology” and “extrasensory perception,” along with the work of mediums and psychics of reputed fame and status, are likely to push general investigation to the point of closer affinity with Theosophy.

Lacking the full background of esoteric science, Jung has aimed to rationalize and systematize his analysis of the relation of consciousness and the unconscious to each other, on the grounds and in the terms of traditional religionism, when he might have done infinitely better to have used the Theosophical fundamentals. So he deals with such psychic or spiritual entities as the soul, the self, the ego, the psyche, the “libido,” and a very wraith-like pair he calls the anima (Greek, “soul,” — feminine), and its masculine counterpart, the animus, and of course both God and the gods. The ones that figure most prominently in his scheme of elucidation are the psyche, which he uses as a general covering term for the unit of our ordinary consciousness, the self and the ego. And the way in which he correlates the concept of God with these individual elements of the soul’s life is very curious and interesting. It all shows that in his study he is mulling around right on the ground of Theosophical spiritual science, and is coming close to Theosophical conclusions at one point or another. We can gain some pretty clear insight into his line of investigation if we consider his analysis of these entities which he has predicated in the life of the psyche, or soul. The scheme of relationship of the self, the ego, the gods and God yields much in the way of fruitful ideas even for esotericists.

Having mainly the two kinds of consciousness to use as the ground for all systematic analysis, the conscious and the unconscious, he finds the latter quite handy for the task of explaining the interaction of the several elements, particularly the one both he and we know least about, God, by the simple ruse of allocating them to the unconscious. He sets them up as the hidden powers of our unconscious, and says that they influence us, rule us, from there. He even says that India is trying to influence us toward its negative and supremely subjective philosophies “by the back door of the unconscious.”

It is inevitable, then, that in this nameless and nebulous region from which destiny-shaping influences well up to dominate us, he locates “God”.

If this term is not used, in the common anthropomorphic sense as we see is ignorantly employed by religionists, but in the general sense of the ultimate determinative power in our lives and the world, it is indeed intriguing to see how Jung conceives the idea of deity. It might be said that he makes God and the unconscious synonymous. At any rate he locates God in the unconscious.

At once it is seen as a most significant thing that by so doing he brings God from outside man, somewhere at the summit of the universe, right into the area and constitution of man. Thus he makes God the immanent, not the externalized transcendental deity in relation to man. It is to be noted that he does not absolutely negate the transcendence of God. But the transcendence here is that of value and character, not of position; not beyond man, but a higher element potential in man. He simply infers that God is a power ensconced in man’s unconscious, a power that is higher than the power man consciously wields. If we could enter consciously into our great unconscious, we would find God there. But he conceals himself from us by keeping himself invisible and beyond the reach and range of our conscious experience.

As God must be conceived as the ultimate self-generating, self-moving power in our life, Jung characterizes him as “autonomous”, a law unto himself. And he therefore speaks of God as the “autonomous content” of our unconscious. This would be closely equivalent to what Edwin Arnold described as “the power within us, not ourselves, that makes for righteousness”. Jung, however, would qualify this by asserting that it is ourselves, or at least an integral portion of ourselves, indeed the most essential portion of ourselves, since he designates it as the very “self” of man, in distinction from the minor term ego, the open human unit of consciousness and being. The human ego, he asserts, is an individualized fragment of the higher and more inclusive self, or at least lives its life within the latter’s wider and deeper scope.

In passing it is most interesting to note that Jung’s allocation of deity to man in the entity he calls the self should go far to conciliate the eternal controversy between the theistic and the humanistic systems, admonishing the theists that divinity is indeed an integral portion of the human endowment, but also challenging the humanists to recognize that this segment of the human nature is not basically human, but divine. And if Jung has correctly characterized these two grades of consciousness and their relationship, both theist and humanist — as well as the rest of us — must face what appears to be the obvious inference from the situation, which is the somewhat surprising conclusion that the God power is indeed an integral portion and element of our human nature, but — on Jung’s premises — buried deep in the unconscious. As to the position of occultism on the matter, it has to be said that Jung’s theorization approximates it quite closely, speaking broadly, for surely the occult science identifies the deepmost soul of man with the God, nature, and it is latent until awakened. A skeptic or scoffer at religious predications of the sort might scurrilously ask us what is the good of our harboring a god in our unconscious self. The all-sufficient answer to this question would be: if you know he is there and will pay attention to him, you will become conscious of him and he will bless you in every way. We can let Jung state the case in his own way:

“The conception of God as an autonomous psychic content makes God into a moral problem, and that, admittedly, is very uncomfortable. But if this problem does not exist, God is not real, for nowhere can he touch our lives. He is then either an historical and intellectual bogey or a philosophical sentimentality.” (Two Essays on Analytical Psychology, p. 237)

The reflection that if we introduce God into our own lives as closely as in our very unconscious selves the relation generates an uncomfortable moral problem needs some clarification. It seems to say that if we realize that God is as close to us as that, a submerged portion of our own constitution, we are smitten suddenly with the realization that, with such an “honored” guest dwelling in our household of life, it may be incumbent upon us to give him a bit more of our attention and regard! We are reminded here of Tennyson’s estimate of the nearness of God to us in the aphorism: “Closer is he than breathing, nearer than hands and feet.” Then Jung draws the tremendously pertinent deduction, that if God is not as close to us as that, he virtually sustains no relation to us at all. He stands too far away from us to mean anything vital to us. Only if God is a factor influencing us directly from deep within us can he touch us efficaciously. Jung has given forthright expression to this most crucial judgment in his earlier work, Modern Man in Search of a Soul. He is rebutting the Christian claim that the effort to imitate Christ will work the redeeming grace of salvation:

“The Imitatio Christi will forever have this disadvantage: we worship a man as a divine model embodying the perfect meaning of life, and then out of sheer imitation we forget to make real the profound meaning present in ourselves. If I accept the fact that a god is absolute and beyond all human experience, he leaves me cold. I do not affect him, nor does he affect me. But if I know, on the other hand, that God is a mighty power within my own soul, at once I must concern myself with him.”

These words, the utterance of which in the face of dominant conventional Christianity called for some courage, may become crucial for the continued existence of Western Christianity. For the statement spells out in the boldest letters the inescapable inference that by the very sincerity and intensity of the devotee’s effort to pour out his psychic forces of worship upon a historical man of 2000 years ago he will, to the exact degree of his consecration to this end neglect the living presence of the god power slumbering deeply within his own nature, needing to be awakened and called forth. The psychologist drives home the ineluctable logic of the situation in the assertion that if one’s relation to one’s God goes no deeper than an effort at outward imitation, it remains superficial and does not engage one deeply enough to stir one to the depths. But if, on the contrary, I know that my God is a power whose release and beneficent activity awaits my own mastery of a science deep and complex as life itself, then indeed my religion becomes a matter of infinite concern to me. The future of Western religion — the East is more specifically oriented to that attitude — almost certainly will hinge upon this cardinal recognition.

In a more recent work, Psychology and Alchemy, (p. 7) the psychologist expands this theme and gives a sharper thrust to its inexorable logic:

“I am speaking, therefore, not of the deepest and best understanding of Christianity, but of the superficialities and disastrous misunderstandings that are plain for all to see. The demand made by the Imitatio Christi — that we should value the ideal and seek to become like it — ought logically to have the result of developing and exalting the inner man. In actual fact, however, the ideal has been turned by superficial and formalistically-minded believers into an external object of worship, and it is precisely this veneration for the object that prevents it from reaching down into the depths of the soul and transforming it into a wholeness in keeping with the ideal. Accordingly — the divine mediator stands as an image, while man remains fragmentary and untouched in the deepest part of him. Christ can indeed be imitated even to the point of stigmatization [the reproduction of his bleeding wounds on hands and feet] without the imitator coming anywhere near the ideal of its meaning. For it is not a question of an imitation that leaves a man unchanged and makes him into a mere artifact, but of realizing the ideal on one’s own accountDeo concedente — in one’s own individual life . . . But with the Western man the value of the Self sinks to zero. Hence the universal depreciation of the soul in the West . . . Christian civilization has proved hollow to a terrifying degree: it is all veneer, but the inner man has remained untouched and therefore unchanged. His soul is out of key with his external beliefs; . . . Yes, everything is to be found outside — in image and in word, in Church and Bible — but never inside. Inside reign the archaic gods, supreme as of old; that is to say, the inner correspondence with the outer God-image is undeveloped for lack of psychological culture and has therefore got stuck in heathenism. Christian education has done all that is humanly possible, but it has not been enough. Too few people have experienced the divine image as the innermost possession of their own souls. Christ only meets them from without, never from within the soul. Paganism, in a form so blatant that it can no longer be denied, is swamping the world of so-called Christian culture.”

Since this cancer of heathenism — the lawlessness, juvenile criminality, sensuality and viciousness of all sorts now threatening even personal security in our cities — involves us in all its actual perils, and the psychologist traces its cause to Christian theology, it is of vital concern to all of us. We have got to try to have Christianity cure the disastrous canker eating at its heart. This canker springs from the worship of a divine ideal embodied in a human personage of ancient times, when the only healing power able to eradicate it is the ultimate knowledge that man, to exalt and deify himself, must exalt and deify the Christ child still lying asleep in the cradle of his own soul.

The indictment of Christianity by the psychologist is sensationally arresting because it charges the religion with fatal weakness at the very point where it claims it is stronger than any other religion on earth. Christianity has based its claim of superiority and unique value on the alleged fact that it alone of world religions offers to mankind the one and only divine Son of God, or God himself manifest in human flesh, as certitude of our possible divinity. Jung says that this is good as far as it goes — but it is not enough. There is a whole world of difference between this image-worship and the true psychic reality of Christliness. He grants that it can psychologically mean much to a person to try to be like Christ. But, in the finale — and this, dear reader, is the nub of the entire debate — the only efficacy and saving reality of the culture is for one to become and be the Christ himself! For each one of us potentially is the Christ, and any worship that falls short of progressively actualizing the ideal potential in the soul is sheer veneer. “Now are ye all sons of God,” affirms the revered Scripture. “For ye are gods and the sons of the Highest.” The deadly sin and error in any religious system is in turning the direction and focus of divine worship away from the heart of the worshipper toward an ideal image located outside. Ancient occult science affirmed that it was ever the veriest blasphemy for the human to worship a power outside himself.

Some most important corollary implications inhere dialectically in Jung’s analysis of this fundamental psychological defect in Christianity. So far as I am aware, Jung has not pointed out the glaringly obvious further logical deduction from it, that if God has the wish and the aim of rearing all his earthly sons and daughters in the image and likeness of his own nature — and how could any child fail to manifest a likeness to their Parent! — it is an egregious and wholly unnatural presumption that he should have ever been represented as having one only Son, a predication which at one stroke abrogates the possibility of divine sonship to all other humans ever to come on earth. It seems incredible that Christian divines have never realized that in exalting one-only Son of God they rob and make vile all other children of the Father. Christianity has loudly vaunted its claim to be the religion that has elevated the “dignity of human nature.” But what greater indignity can you inflict on the human being than to rob him of his divinity? This is in effect what Jung is courageously telling us. It could be excitingly revolutionary for orthodox religion.

By abstracting the Christ power from all men save the Galilean carpenter and persistently flaunting in the face of man the wretched worm-of-the-dust status of his physical humanity, Christianity had demonstrated most tragically its lack of knowledge of the occult soul science which would have kept this half-truth in proper balance with the other half of it, the potential divinity of his higher self. On his purely physical side man is the lowly worm. But it is that same worm, evolved to biological miracle in the body of man himself, that will bear the human in the end up to and through the gate of the holy city of spiritual consciousness and glory, with the hosts of heaven strewing palm branches and singing hosanas. For there is joy in heaven over the return of every son of God who has gained victory on earth. When will Christianity recognize the psychological folly and tragedy of lugubriously Sunday after Sunday beating down the spirit of its worshippers with the reminder of their lowly status as animals on the bodily side, the while it steals away from them the glorious knowledge that they themselves can wield the Christ power to cleanse the corruption of the flesh and glorify themselves as the Christs they are and are to be? Overwhelming them with the conviction of their natural sinfulness and expressly denying to them any power within themselves to cure it, it sends them out hopelessly bewildered as to how they shall cajole Jesus — once living in Galilee but now gone off somewhere, or God in the skies — into forgiving them of their sins and redeeming them of their despicable unworthiness. And all this in utter disdain of the promise in their own Scriptures: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Over the whole of the third and fourth centuries the Christian theologians in their bitter councils fought over the question whether the Son, second Person of the Trinity, was of the same substance as the Father, or only of like substance. It split the Church into the Athanasian and the Arian factions, and the point has never been settled to this day. It might be said that at the human individual level it is still the great crucial question that the Church theology is unable to answer. And Jung has thrown it on the screen of modern psychology in sharp focus and outline. Is the human individual of the same nature as the Christ, or is he only able to be like the Christ? And Jung virtually asserts that Christianity is doomed if it can not give the answer on the side of sameness. As long as Christian dogmatism makes a historical Christ the unapproachable paragon of deific perfection, the wings of devout Christian consecration and aspiration are psychologically clipped from the start. The Church prods its people with the spur of the hope of salvation into an enterprise in their spiritual life which at the same time it assures them they can never successfully consummate! It were the most arrant presumption for the Christian worshipper to think that he could ever be as good as Jesus!

The difference between being the same as the Christ or only like him may seem on the surface to be quite inconsequential. It is really a vast abyss. Of course “likeness” is here a very indefinite term; there can be many degrees of similarity. So the debate is largely gratuitous. Nevertheless the Church could have taken its sure cue from the statement of the Gospel Jesus that “I and the Father are one.” Indian philosophy has built largely upon the thesis that the individual Atman is one in nature with the Brahman of the cosmos. From this great doctrine, which inspired the American Transcendental movement in New England, Emerson drew his axial philosophy that the divine soul of the human is a fragment of the Oversoul of the universe. Can there be any quibble over the identity in nature of God; and his children? If our souls are seed-sparks of the nature of God, the life and consciousness they unfold in evolution can manifest no other being than that of the Father.

So it is not cosmic Deity that needs man’s exultation and added glorification; it is the seed of that same Deity seminally sown in the bodies of God’s children on earth, that stands in sore need of cultivation for its education and growth. If we are cells in the body of God, the only way by which we can increase his glory is by increasing the light and glory in all the cells. What a miscarriage of evolutionary procedure that the homage of millions over many centuries has been poured out lavishly, and one might say slavishly, upon one single figure, who, as the claimed Morning Star of the creation and indeed its Logos, surely already was haloed with enough glory so that he would not have needed the worship of lowly mortals on earth!

Viewed thus in its expanded connotations, Jung’s delineation of the fatal flaw in the Christian system can be of vital moment in the world today. His conception of God, formulated according to principles of a scientific methodology, seems to necessitate the transferal of the entire alleged historical basis of its provenance over into the realm of purely subjective events in human consciousness. This is readily seen when we consider, in the light of Jung’s findings, that the God pictured in Christian imagination as a great Being seated aloft in the cosmos, dissolves, as it were, into a universal subsistent all-pervading essence, force or mind, and the alleged historical Jesus is metamorphosed into a power driving for rulership of our life from deep within our collective unconsciousness. Every time in the last two or three centuries that science has announced a new fact or principle incontestably demonstrated, the incrustations and obsessions of ingrained religious fixations, venerated mainly for their antiquity rather than honored for their truth, have had to melt away like winter’s ice before the sun of spring. Jung’s focusing of the sun of true knowledge upon the errant and arrant formulations of ignorant pietism in theology can confidently be expected by the occultist to melt down some more of the hardened deposit. Long before Jung came on the scene Theosophy promulgated the basic truth that the power making for righteousness in the world was a submerged element or conscious entity resident within the area of man’s being, amenable to conscious cultivation and development by the intelligent effort of the conscious unit.

But there is both interest and instruction in following the psychologist’s more detailed elaboration of his theses. It is fascinating to see how he arrives at his characterization of “God” within the confines of our unconscious self. This is a matter demanding some mental dexterity, since, he affirms, we are at once confronted with the most baffling obstacle to knowledge, in the fact that the unconscious, where God resides and operates upon our lives, is not an object of consciousness. It is admittedly an unpromising situation when we have to deal with something of which we can not be conscious. By sheer definition the unconscious can not be brought under observation for study. It is the great unknown. In fact he says that we can predicate the unconscious only by noting its effects in our conscious realm and postulating for them a cause that operated in our unconscious. It is as if we become aware of forces impinging upon us from some mysterious invisible source and logically have to predicate for them a cause lying in an unknown realm. We have a vague sense of being haunted by an imperceptible presence and power. We can only struggle to infer its nature from a study of its effects. As Longfellow in Evangeline wrote:

And behind the great unknown

Standeth God within the shadow,

Keeping watch o’er all his own.

From his thesis of the “autonomous contents” of the unconscious Jung rationalizes the nature of those contents as “divine.”

“If we leave the idea of ‘divinity’ out of account and speak only of ‘autonomous contents’, we maintain a position that is intellectually and empirically correct, but we silence a note which, psychologically, should not be missed. By using the concept of a divine being we give apt expression to the peculiar way in which we experience the workings of these autonomous contents . . . Therefore, by fixing the attribute ‘divine’ to the workings of the autonomous contents we are admitting their relatively superior force . . . It is a force as real as hunger and the fear of death.”

Here indeed is keen insight and clear recognition of forces at work within our souls. In the sum of our experience deep within the psyche we inevitably come to feel that a power invisibly dominating our lives from a secret seat within us must be considered to be our fate, our destiny, our ruler, — our God. (Or we would if we had not been hypnotized by ages of teaching that our God is off somewhere in remote heavens.) Whatever our outward mental indoctrination may have been, we are inexorably involved in the experience of psychic events that seem to testify to the presence of a controlling power within the psyche. Even though we may have extruded God from the hearthside of our innermost being, he thus still rules us from within ourselves. It is staggering to reflect how much we might aid him in his chore of ruling us if to the haunting sense of his presence and power we added the actual knowledge and recognition of his presence with us.

Remembering that Jung calls this overmastering divine power within us the “self” (Theosophists usually capitalize it), a mere fragment of its universal totality constituting the single human ego consciousness, he clearly delineates the relation of this unit ego to the all-inclusive self. “The individuated ego senses itself as the object of an unknown and superordinate subject.” This subject, a consciousness of a superior order — so much so as to merit the name “divine” — Jung characterizes now as “irrational,” since we can hardly think that our limited human reason can fathom or rationalize the great Mind of God. So he says:

“Sensing the self as something irrational, as an indefinable existent, to which the ego is neither opposed nor subjected, but merely attached, and about which it revolves very much as the earth revolves around the sun, — thus we come to the goal of individuation . . . In this relation nothing is knowable, because we can say nothing about the contents of the self. The ego is the only content of the self that we do know.”

And he then says that obviously “our psychological inquiry must come to a stop here, for the idea of a self is itself a transcendental postulate which, although justifiable psychologically, does not allow of scientific proof.” For further pursuit of our inquiry, he says, we must take a step beyond science, and we must make this leap into the unknown simply because:

“without this postulate I could give no adequate formulation to the psychic processes that occur empirically. At the very least, therefore, the self can claim the value of an hypothesis analogous to that of the structure of the atom. And even though that should be once again enmeshed in an image, it is none the less powerfully alive and its interpretation quite exceeds my powers. I have no doubt at all that it is an image, but one in which we are contained.”

Here Jung gives expression to the great and necessary maxim — dear to the occultist — that we dare not limit our conclusions or our hypotheses about such a power only to what science can demonstrate empirically. If we observe phenomena whose causes lie deeply submerged out of sight, we must project tentative theories to explain them causally. If the theories provide adequate answers, they may be adopted at least tentatively as true. Science itself works hypothetically. From all this maze of experience and inference we arrive at the understanding that in the deep dark recesses of our being there resides and constantly works a superior power of which we are unconscious. As it lies in this dark underworld, we have to plead our poverty of knowledge of it. “In this field, hitherto so dark, it seems to me that there lie the answers which the psychology of consciousness has never even approached.”

Modern academic psychology, perhaps, but how about considering the psychology of occult science? We would venture to suggest to the eminent psychoanalyst that he could with great profit examine the arcane science of Theosophy. This science has pierced the dark regions both of the sub- and the superconscious area of the psyche and has found those answers he asserts lie there.

Further interest is found in following Jung’s identifications of the autonomous contents of the unconscious with man’s God. This is illuminating because there is not present at first sight anything in the sphere of man’s interior operation of conscious states that would ordinarily take on the character of sanctity or stir religious moods or values. Psychology, purely as science, seems to lie wholly in the field of specifically secular, not religious interest. There would seem to be no more sanctity about our mental or psychic operations than, for instance, about physiology. Yet it is true that it is precisely in the domain of our psychic life that religious motivations are generated. Certain casts of feeling, classed as spiritual or mystical, deep sensings and high afflations, lift man into the upper strata of the religious atmosphere.

So Jung writes:

“Religion is a worship of the highest and most powerful value, be it positive or negative . . . You can accept, consciously, a value by which you are possessed unconsciously. The psychological fact which wields the greatest power in your system functions as a god, since it is always the overwhelming psychic factor that is called ‘God’. As soon as a God ceases to be an overwhelming factor he dwindles to a mere name. His essence is dead and his power is gone.”

Then he asks why the gods of antiquity lost their prestige and their effect on the human soul and answers by saying that “the Olympians had served their time and a new mystery began: God became man.” This startling pronouncement would have us infer that the more primitive people of antiquity had externalized the power controlling their lives, embodying it in deities whom they thought resided everywhere in nature, as tree-gods, mountain-gods, water-gods, earth-gods, sky-gods. If the transition from belief in Gods-outside to Gods-inside came to replace the naturalistic concept with that of gods as the “autonomous contents” within man’s own psyche, and “God became man,” one must challenge Jung for the evidence of so radical and sweeping a transposition of value and of understanding. To be sure, some evidence is at hand in St. Paul’s declaration that the Christ-power is “within you, the hope of glory” for all men, and in the whole range of experience of saints in mystical Christology. Yet Jung’s analysis that all our gods are just the creation of our own psychic projections, as he calls them, would today be rejected by 95% of religionists as almost a blasphemous insult to cosmic Deity. And a quite conclusive rebuttal of this thesis, if nowhere else, would be found to inhere in the fact that the Hindus are declared to have postulated several hundred million gods. We know that no human psyche ever conceived, or could conceive, that number of “autonomous contents” lurking in its depths. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans exhausted their list at some 20. After all, it must be conceded to be against simple logic for man to accept the idea that, while he naively thinks that a great Power created him, he must believe the opposite when Jung informs him that he himself has created his supposed Creator! If we bow to Jung in this analysis of the origin of the God-concept in man’s psychic life, we can do so only by ignoring the simplest premises of the human thought situation. As man sees orders of actual beings in the range of life below him in the world, it is for him a legitimate assumption that there are also beings in the range of life above him, and for these the term “gods” seems an appropriate name. And it comes to him also as logically permissible to think of the total power creating the universe as “God”.

A repudiation of Jung’s God-creating propensity on the part of man does not, to be sure obliterate the raw fact that man does impute to his gods and his God his own characterizations. In this the human mind simply endeavors to match the observed creation with the concept of a power adequate to account for it. And he must account for it under the terms of his own understanding. This does inevitably bend the human concept of God toward an anthropomorphic pattern. The necessity for the concept is logical and the form or content of it is psychological. Man lives in and observes the creation. He virtually must assume that it is the work of an intelligent power able to produce it as it is. If this is what Jung means by man’s creating his gods, it is a truism. But against his more specific claims stands the historical fact that the wisest of men have distinctly refrained from giving any descriptive character to the God power. For they denominated it the Unknown, and discouraged all efforts to characterize it.

Since Jung virtually identifies this God power in the dark depths of our unconscious with the “self,” it will clarify the concept further if we examine this feature more closely.

“I have chosen the term ‘self’ to designate the totality of man, the sum total of his conscious and unconscious contents. I have chosen this term in accordance with the Eastern philosophy, which for centuries has occupied itself with the problems that arise when even the gods cease to incarnate. The philosophy of the Upanishads corresponds to a psychology that long ago recognized the relativity of the gods. This is not to be confused with a stupid error like atheism. The world is as it ever has been, but our consciousness undergoes peculiar changes. First . . it was rejected . . . (then) through the withdrawal of projections conscious knowledge slowly developed . . . this was the first stage in the despiritualization of the world.”

Pause must be made here to gather up the threads of the psychologist’s argument. Since, he affirms, man creates his gods, they can not be actual existent entities, but vary with the ideas man “projects” about them. Hence he speaks of the “relativity” of the gods. If man creates them, surely they are purely relative to the modes and models he conceives for them. Man must inevitably project his conceptions of them, and they are to him only what these projections make them in his psychological world. But as man’s intelligence increased he discarded or withdrew earlier and cruder projections and substituted more rational ones. At the cruder stage of conceptuality man had localized the God power in earth and sky, trees, hills, animals. Later ideas tended to make a “Great Spirit” pervading all nature. And now a subtler refinement of the concept, says Jung, sees God as an element in the unconscious of man himself. And he speaks of this transmutation of the concept as a “despiritualization” of the world. An objective view of life, as it always has done, tended to make God less transcendental and “spiritual,” and more a natural force visibly operating through familiar physical channels. Much as in the progress of medical science, in which earlier hypotheses were found erroneous and had to give way to new ones, later found also to be erroneous, the God concept in human ideation has undergone radical changes, as one set of “projections” had to yield to others, the culminating one at last being the recognition that God is not up there in a cosmic paradise, but is an all-controlling mysterious agency lurking in the depths of our own unconscious selves.

So Jung says that modern mentality has subtilized these projections to an almost unrecognizable degree. But our ordinary life “still swarms with them, in newspapers, books, rumors and ordinary social gossip. All gaps in our actual knowledge are still filled out with projections . . . we must still be exceedingly careful not to project our own shadows too shamelessly; we are still swamped with projected illusions.” Even when one silences this rampant noisy stream of projections, he is still confronted with new problems and conflicts and “has become a serious problem to himself,” as he is unable to say where he stands, whether new illusions are better than old. But such a man knows, says Jung — and it is a startling realization — that “whatever is wrong with the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow [his own illusory projections] he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic unsolved social problems of our day. These problems are mostly so difficult because they are poisoned by mutual projections. How can any one see straight when he does not even see himself and the darkness he unconsciously carries with him into all his dealings?”

Jung here is stamping his feet vigorously on Theosophic ground, as Theosophy sees the same mass projection of outrageously erroneous ideas and asks the same question. As the most direct approach to a sane answer Theosophy today repeats the advice of the sage Greek Theosophists of old, “Man, know thyself.” And occultists today would urge even Dr. Jung to study our philosophy, which embraces also a profounder psychology than he, with all his notable achievement, has produced. The ancient wisdom, with its more specific knowledge of the constitution of man, provides competent ground for the formulation of sound instead of crotchety conceptions of the ways of God with man. Well does the Theosophist know that man stands in the shadow of his own underself, his own misbelief, for he himself has had to undergo the painful experience of tearing his mind loose from a thousand false impositions of exoteric doctrinism, mainly foisted upon the credulous uncritical masses by priestcraft to perpetuate the hold of entrenched ecclesiasticism upon the populace of every age from Atlantis to Europe. The Master K.H. says pointedly that Theosophy was republished to the modern world for the express purpose of emancipating the masses from tragic hallucinations that wreaked psychological havoc with the millions. Yes, modern life is still darkened by the macabre shadows of warped theologies — against which H.P. Blavatsky railed with justifiable vehemence — cast out over the Hellenic world about the third century by the combined forces of intellectual decadence and fanatical pietism that swept Christianity into popular favor, and which then deepened into the dismal night of the Dark Ages of Medieval Europe. Theosophy knows what fatal falsity the common mind is capable of imposing upon itself when it has not the light of occult wisdom to guide it to truth.

A clamoring host of the most intriguing questions arise from reflection on the data of knowledge that psychoanalysis has formulated from both clinical investigation and theoretical study. There will not be room here to discuss these. The colossal fact that Jung thrusts before us is the truth that our conscious life is but a tiny island in the vast sea of the unconscious, in which the forces that dominate us, which he says we conceive to be our gods, approach our shores in the twilight in dim shapes and mysterious ways. The tiny ego in man faces the task of trying to put its life into harmonious relation to the forces, influences, and intimations that impinge upon his consciousness from out this great sea of divine or demoniac powers. Jung has expressed in the modern psychological way what occult philosophy views as the effort of the individual ego to align its life with the oversoul of the universe, or what is commonly called the Mind of God. In terms of both yoga and common religion, it is man’s instinctual drive to achieve union with God.

A most absorbing idea presented by Jung’s theorizing is his conclusion as to what he calls the despiritualization of the world mind. It points to the increased momentum now most certainly to be given to the trends, already under way, in psychology that will transfer the phenomena of consciousness formerly assigned to the domain of supernatural religion or external god-powers over into the realm of our own human capabilities. This will mean what might better be called the de-religionizing of a horde of supposed God-born influences by effecting their transfer to the field of regular science, or psychology. So the trend is from the vague spiritism of religion to the precise science of psychology. The phenomena will be correctly seen as native to man himself, indigenous to him by virtue of his own equipment and endowment of faculty, having nothing to do with outside deific entities or gods. In other words, a vast segment of presumed religious experience heretofore believed to emanate from gods outside, will be completely secularized, or humanized. Science will lop off a vast slice of what has gone as religion, speaking in the broadest terms. Jung concludes with the direct assertion that as we wisely learn to dismantle all the fantastic “projections” that we can lay our hands upon, it will be no longer possible to maintain any non-psychological doctrine about the gods. If the historic process of world despiritualization continues as heretofore, then everything of a divine or demoniac character outside must return to the psyche, to the inside of the unknown man, whence it apparently originated.”

Man must bring inside the gods he has searched for outside, avers the eminent psychologist. One can already hear the yowl of the shocked theistic religious parties, as they protest that this is to drag the holy powers of God down into the miry swamp of man’s sinful life. It will besmirch the divine purity with foul human corruption. Jung, as any Theosophist, could turn this argument right back upon them by reminding them that this thing they call a vile defilement of God by man is precisely what their own Gospel Jesus, their humanized Christ, said he came to do! He despised not the Virgin’s womb and the assumption of our mortal flesh. And if Jung was fully wise Theosophically, he could also remind them that the presence and the power of the nucleated individual ego, or the self within the Self, is itself an imperishable unit of the God principle and will by spiritual alchemy transmute the base human elements into purest spiritual gold! 

Theosophy and Modern Psychology

August 3, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink