Table of Contents
- The image of the eternal gospel aka the Good News of eternity
- The image of the first-fruits
- The image of “the smoke of their torture will go up for ever and ever”
- The image of harvest
- The image of golden bowls filled with the anger of God
- The image of a frog
… and our subject matter is chapters 14, 15 and 16. Before I get into it, I want to follow up on the final remarks I made last time. You remember I was speaking about what Jung had to say concerning the historical Jesus and I wasn’t able to come up with the precise reference that I had in mind and I want to give you that reference. The reference is to volume 2 of the Letters. There are 2 separate letters to Upton Sinclair, one beginning on page 87 and another beginning on page 201 that are quite important laying out how Jung understands the historical Jesus.
The image of the eternal gospel aka the Good News of eternity
Now going on then to tonight’s material the first item I wanted to bring up is one that shows up very quickly in chapter 14, something that Jung paid special attention to. We read in Revelation 14 verses 6 and 7:
"14:6 Then I saw another angel, flying high overhead, sent to announce the Good News of eternity to all who live on the earth, every nation, race, language and tribe.
14:7 He was calling, ‘Fear God and praise him, because the time has come for him to sit in judgement; worship the maker of heaven and earth and sea[*d] and every water-spring’."
The item here is the so-called eternal gospel. Jung comments on that in Answer to Job, first in paragraph 719:
" The first angel proclaims an “everlasting gospel,” the quintessence of which is “Fear God!” There is no more talk of God’s love. What is feared can only be something fearful."
And later in paragraph 733 he enlarges on those sentiments:
" Could anyone in his right senses deny that John correctly foresaw at least some of the possible dangers which threaten our world in the final phase of the Christian aeon? He knew, also, that the fire in which the devil is tormented burns in the divine pleroma for ever. God has a terrible double aspect: a sea of grace is met by a seething lake of fire, and the light of love glows with a fierce dark heat of which it is said “ardet non lucet”—it burns but gives no light. That is the eternal, as distinct from the temporal, gospel: /one can love God but must fear him/."
And that’s put in Italics. One can love God but must fear him. Now understood psychologically that refers to the fact that proximity to the Self is accompanied by anxiety. You remember John at the beginning of his vision in the first chapter, he says: “when I saw him, I fell in a dead faint” and it’s a uniform feature in the Bible when individuals encounter an angel, the first thing the angel has to say is: “fear not”. I think it’s quite important to understand this transpersonal dimension of anxiety. The experience of anxiety is not adequately dealt with personalistically. At least not for adults. Anxiety indicates nearness to the Self. Every major anxiety experience is a kind of miniature apocalypse. Remember, my psychological formula for the psychological meaning of the apocalypse is the coming into consciousness of the Self. And anxiety is a harbinger of that phenomenon. One can love God but must fear him.
The image of the first-fruits
The next item. At the beginning of chapter 14 we read:
"14:1 Next in my vision I saw Mount Zion, and standing on it a Lamb who had with him a hundred and forty-four thousand people, all with his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.
14:2 I heard a sound coming out of the sky like the sound of the ocean or the roar of thunder; it seemed to be the sound of harpists playing their harps.
14:3 There in front of the throne they were singing a new hymn in the presence of the four animals and the elders, a hymn that could only be learnt by the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the world."
Now turn to translation used in some versions is “purchased from the world”.
"14:4 These are the ones who have kept their virginity[a] and not been defiled with women; they follow the Lamb wherever he goes; they have been redeemed from amongst men to be the first-fruits for God[b] and for the Lamb."
It’s the term “first-fruits” that I was getting to there. The figure of a 144.000 we can consider as the apotheosis of the number 12. It’s 12 squared times a 1000, so it’s 12 raised to higher-higher levels. A totality number. And it’s this number who are the elect martyrs who follow the Lamb. The Lamb we would call who had been sacrificed. It’s an interesting theme in the Old Testament. The theme of the first-fruits. Yahweh states explicitly that the first-fruits of all harvest and that include even the first-fruit of the human womb belongs to Him. And are supposed to be sacrificed to Him. And if one neglects that requirement, if one eats the first-fruits rather then handing them over to Yahweh for His meal, you’re inviting disaster. That’s stated explicitly in the 2nd chapter of Jeremiah.
See the idea symbolically is that the first-fruits are God’s food and if He’s not given His meal He takes it by violence. And this indeed is what happens later in chapter 14 when harvest time comes. I’ll get to that later. You remember it’s also what happened to Egypt at the time of the Exodus. The first-born of the Egyptians were killed. They were the first-fruits and since they didn’t give what was required voluntarily, they were taken involuntarily. And this pattern even repeats itself on the divine level because the first-fruit of Yahweh is His son, Christ, and He is a sacrifice. The pattern runs through all levels.
I don’t know exactly why first-fruits should be sacred it seems to be born out also so far in human experience. The first-born have a different kind of psychology very commonly. There is a different relation to the Unconscious and the transpersonal dimension. It’s more problematic. I can’t say any more about it then that, other then that indicate that the pattern is an archetypal fact.
The image of “the smoke of their torture will go up for ever and ever”
Next item is a little further down in chapter 14, verse 9:
"14:9 A third angel followed, shouting aloud, ‘All those who worship the beast and his statue, or have had themselves branded on the hand or forehead,
14:10 will be made to drink the wine of God’s fury which is ready, undiluted, in his cup of anger; in fire and brimstone[f] they will be tortured in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb 14:11 and the smoke of their torture will go up for ever[g] and ever. There will be no respite, night or day, for those who worshipped the beast or its statue or accepted branding with its name.’"
Eternal torture with fire. I think we can state this in simplest terms that that refers to the faith of those wholly identified wholly identified to the primordial psyche. The Beast is the primordial psyche. That’s the Leviathan-Behemoth combination. It’s a feature or aspect of Ego-Self identity. When the Self is activated in an individual who is largely identified with the primordial psyche that individual is tortured by compulsive desires for pleasure and power. Those are 2 great Beastly principles. Pleasure and power. Hungried yearnings, envies, hatreds, everything that pertains to pleasurable gratification and power gratification being superior. This is what alchemical texts speak of as the “crude sulfur” as opposed to the “true sulfur”. And I must in this context refer to Jung’s classic inscription of this matter in Mysterium Coniunctionis, in paragraph 192. A passage to read and reflect on again and again because it’s loaded with meaning. In this passage he is giving a psychological interpretation of an alchemical allegory in which the issue of “crude sulfur” comes up and he links to “crude sulfur” with desirousness. That’s what desirousness is all about, pleasure and power in simplest terms. And he writes:
" You too are infected with this collective sickness. Therefore bethink you for once, “extrahe cogitationem,” - "pull out the thought" and consider:"
He is talking as though talking to a person who had this alchemical text as a dream. It’s a dream that any of us could have had. So his commentary applies to all of us.
" You too are infected with this collective sickness. Therefore bethink you for once, “extrahe cogitationem,” - "pull out the thought" and consider: What is behind all this desirousness? A thirsting for the eternal, which as you see can never be satisfied with the best because it is “Hades” in whose honour the desirous “go mad and rave.” The more you cling to that which all the world desires, the more you are Everyman, who has not yet discovered himself and stumbles through the world like a blind man leading the blind with somnambulistic certainty into the ditch. Everyman is always a multitude. Cleanse your interest of that collective sulphur which clings to all like a leprosy. For desire only burns in order to burn itself out, and in and from this fire arises the true living spirit which generates life according to its own laws"
And I skip.
" This means burning in your own fire and not being like a comet or a flashing beacon, showing others the right way but not knowing it yourself."
It goes on. But this is how one understands psychologically the torturing fire that’s referred to there in Revelation. See this is the fire of calcenatio. And all the symbolism of that alchemical operation applies.
That still leaves the question why is the fire eternal? That doesn’t sound very hospicious for transformation. I think we can understand that by realizing that the Book of Revelation, though as all the Christian scriptures, are documents of separatio. It’s true that Revelation ends with the image of the mandala city, New Jerusalem, but the major content of a book as a whole involves a decisive separation. A radical separation in fact between Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, upper and lower, and spirit and nature. This is a crucial feature of the Christian myth as it evolved and generated Western civilization out of it. So it is a crucial feature of the Western psyche as a whole. We are all split. And within that myth all that could be envisioned for an ending was a permanent eternal split. Even Origen in the 3rd century could consider the possibility of the redemption of the Devil but that idea could not be tolerated and so he was branded heretical and that idea could not be entertained. But that state of affairs is due to change in the new aeon. The psychological aeon is aiming towards the union of the split. But the Book of Revelation belongs to the old aeon it’s largely a separatio document. That’s how I understand the eternal aspect of the … stage.
The image of harvest
The next item I want to talk about is found starting in verse 14 of chapter 14. Verses 14 to 20:
"14:14 Now in my vision I saw a white cloud and, sitting on it, one like a son of man with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
14:15 Then another angel came out of the sanctuary, and shouted aloud to the one sitting on the cloud, ‘Put your sickle in and reap: harvest time has come and the harvest of the earth is ripe'[*h].
14:16 Then the one sitting on the cloud set his sickle to work on the earth, and the earth’s harvest was reaped.
14:17 Another angel, who also carried a sharp sickle, came out of the temple in heaven,
14:18 and the angel in charge of the fire left the altar and shouted aloud to the one with the sharp sickle, ‘Put your sickle in and cut all the bunches off the vine of the earth; all its grapes are ripe’.
14:19 So the angel set his sickle to work on the earth and harvested the whole vintage of the earth and put it into a huge winepress, the winepress of God’s anger,
14:20 outside the city, where it was trodden until the blood that came out of the winepress was up to the horses’ bridles as far away as sixteen hundred furlongs."
Terrible image. The basic underlying idea here – although it’s not spelled out quite explicitly – is that humanity is a vast agricultural process for God to be harvested for food and drink. Now, that idea comes up elsewhere. For instance it appears in the Book of Enoch. In the 7th chapter of the Book of Enoch. Enoch is describing what was taking place just before Noah’s flood. When angels or heavenly beings descended from Heaven and married the daughters of man. Here’s what he has to say:
"7 And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives, and each
chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile
themselves with them.
8 And they taught them charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and
made them acquainted with plants.
9 And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three
thousand ells: Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could
no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind"
About this passage Jung says in paragraph 669 of Answer to Job. He says that the giants are pointing to an inflation of the cultural consciousness at that period of time. That was just before the flood. Now I have published a dream that has this same theme in it. I’m gonna read it to you at least most of it. It’s in Creation of Consciousness, page 28. An apocalyptic dream. I’ll abbreviate it a bit since it’s rather lengthy, but I had to bring in this material to demonstrate decisively that what we are talking about is not abstract ideas and imagery but living psychic reality that’s relevant to here and now.
"I walking along what appears to be the Palisades overlooking all of New York city. I'm walking with an animal figure who is unknown to me. We're both being led by a man who is our guide. New York city is in a rubble. The world in fact has been destroyed. All of New York is just one heap of rubble. There are fires everywhere. Thousands of people are running in every direction frantically. The Hudson-river has overflowed many areas of the city. Smoke is billowing up everywhere. As far as I can see the land has been leveled. It was twilight, fireballs were in the sky heading for the Earth. It was the end of the world. Total destruction of everything that man and his civilization had built up. The cause of this great destruction was a race of giants. Giants who have come from outer space, from the far reaches of the universe. In the middle of the rubble I could see two of them sitting. They were casually scooping up people by the handful and eating them. All this was done by the same nonchalance that we have when we sit down at the table and eat grapes by the handful. The sight was awesome. Our guide explained that the giants came from different planets and live harmoniously and peacefully together. He said that the giants landed in flying saucers. The fireballs were the landings. In fact the Earth as we know it was conceived by this race of giants in the beginning of time. They cultivated our civilization like we cultivate vegetables in a hot-house. The Earth was their hot-house so to speak and now they have returned to reap the fruits they had sown . But there was a special occasion for this which I only learned of later. I was saved because I had slightly high blood pressure. If I had normal blood pressure of if my blood pressure was too high I would have been eaten like almost all the others. Because I have slightly high blood pressure I am chosen to go through this ordeal and if I pass the ordeal I would become like my guide, a savior of souls. We walked for an extraordinary long time witnessing all the cataclysmic destruction. Then, before me I saw a huge golden throne, brilliant as the Sun, impossible to view straight on. On the throne sat a king and his queen of the race of giants. They were the intelligences behind the destruction of our planet. The ordeal in addition to witnessing the world's destruction, the task I had to perform was to climb up this staircase until I was at their level, face to face with them. This was probably to be done in stages. I started climbing. It was long and very difficult, my heart was pounding very hard. I was frightened but I knew I had to accomplish this task. I woke up from the dream perspiring heavily. Later I have realized that the destruction of the Earth by the race of giants was a wedding-feast for the newly united king and queen. This was the special occasion and the extraordinary feeling I had about the king and queen."
Now, there’s more to it that lends a whole new dimension to it, but I have to keep my focus and I can’t go into the other aspects, but you see the exact parallelism between this dream, Enoch and Revelation. What does it mean to be eaten by giants? It means to succumb to inflation. There is a interesting passage in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas. It speaks of 2 possibilities. One possibility is lion eats man and man becomes lion. That means man is assimilated to lion stuff. The other possibility is man eats lion and in that case lion becomes man. And blessed is one and cursed is the other. You see that’s precisely the issue that we are dealing with when the Collective Unconscious is activated or even when it lives itself through us unconsciously to the extent that the Ego is eaten by one of the archetypal giants or lions to that extent than man has become lion and that’s a disaster. Whereas to the extent that the experience can be assimilated and understood by consciousness the archetypes are humanized and they become human. That’s the issue that we have here in this harvesting imagery in Revelation. The fundamental question that runs throughout all levels of existence is who eats who? It’s absolutely elementary and it applies on the psychological level every bit as it does on the physical level.
The image of golden bowls filled with the anger of God
Next item starts chapter 15, verse 5:
"15:5 After this, in my vision, the sanctuary, the Tent of the Testimony, opened in heaven,
15:6 and out came the seven angels with the seven plagues, wearing pure white linen, fastened round their waists with golden girdles.
15:7 One of the four animals gave the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the anger of God who lives for ever and ever.
15:8 The smoke from the glory and the power of God filled the temple so that no one could go into it[*b] until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.
16:1 Then I heard a voice from the sanctuary shouting to the seven angels, ‘Go, and empty the seven bowls of God’s anger over the earth’."
And that then was done, one after the other these 7 bowls of plague and rage were emptied on the Earth. Now, just to start with it’s quite remarkable that these loathsome contents should be contained in golden bowls. A golden cup appears then in chapter 17 held by the harlot riding on the beast – that we’ll talk about another time – then again the gold feature is in startling contrast to the contents of the vessel. Certainly as far as empirical psychology is concerned a golden bowl represents the Self in its containing aspect. Gold represents the supreme value and carried that symbolism very explicitly in alchemy. So that a plague carried in a golden bowl is a paradoxical combination of opposites.
Now if we just look at this imagery, clinically and objectively, and separate ourselves from the horror of it that would be evoked emotionally, what we are seeing is that Heaven is being cleansed of a lot of disagreeable stuff. And being turned over to the Earth to be dealt with. Psychologically therefore the basic image is that some very negative and disagreeable contents of the Collective Unconscious are being poured into the Ego, because symbolically speaking Earth = Ego. What that indicates then is that there has been – from the standpoint of empirical psychology – a buildup of negative contents in the Unconscious leading finally to an overload. I think it’s relevant to consider such matters in part at least as almost mechanical in order to complement the tendency to project punitive purpose on Unconscious which of course is clearly done in the Book of Revelation, but ordinarily the Unconscious does not have a punitive purpose. It tends to react to the Ego the way the Ego reacts to it. And if it is used as a depository for everything disagreeable as is so commonly the case soon or later it does overflow. So that almost mechanical way of seeing it is not the whole story but I think that’s a good corrective to thinking of it in overly punitive terms. Or like the laws of gravity that are operating, you see.
This is the sort of situation that can arise after prolonged and profound neglect of the Unconscious, allowing the buildup of problematic libido that the Ego has disposed of by repression. See for in a Judeo-Christian mythology this neglect of God’s prerogatives, which is the way it’s put, failure to pay Him the attention that’s due is a sin leading to punishment, so it is thought of in very personal terms. I put it differently. I’d say it’s worse than a sin. It’s a mistake. A psychological mistake. Now the advantage of putting it that way it’s a more objective way of putting it because it doesn’t demoralize one with a sense of guilt. It’s hard enough for us to accept mistakes that we’ve made especially when they are big ones but I think that’s a little more conscious way of putting it.
Now, concerning these plagues descending from Heaven a modern dream came to my attention that is relevant to this imagery. This is the dream:
"I am in an elevated position, just above heavy cloud cover, the way one is in an airplane. The sky and air above the clouds is clear and blue. At first it is like a movie, that I'm really present as if at a theater performance but it's in the open air, not in a theater. Directly opposite me in the middle distance is the Capitol Dome, Washington DC. It it the real thing? Or could it be a stage set mock-up? It's illuminated, outlined by many small lights, like the small like at Christmas. In the space between me and the Capitol Dome comes a figure. An actor? dressed as an angel. It says 'I cut my hand and a stream of blood is directed down to the Earth, AIDS infected blood. Immediately on awaking I think of the prologue in Heaven in Job and then also on Faust and I know in the dream or upon awaking that this means a plague of some sort."
As you may know some fundamentalist ministers offer a mythological interpretation of the AIDS plague. According to them, they say the epidemic is caused by God’s anger at sexual misbehavior. Simple sexual misbehavior. Now, applying my principle – that it’s worse than a sin, it’s a mistake – the question then would come up in dealing with this dream which specifically refers to AIDS, what is the mistake that caused AIDS? I think there is some profound symbolism involved in the whole phenomenology of the AIDS virus and I would say that the mistake that causes AIDS – thinking on the symbolic level now – is a failure to guard the borders of one’s individual identity. Now I want to explain what I mean, how I arrived at that. AIDS first appeared among a group of promiscuous male homosexuals, euphemistically called “sexually active”. But some of these individuals are almost unbelievably promiscuous. I know, because some of them are my patients and I know the nature of what goes on. Repeated one night stands with absolute strangers, bringing strangers into one’s own private apartments, night after night, allowing unknown persons to share their most intimate circumstances, their bodies and their psyches. Something that’s exceedingly dangerous just on the physical level, there are murderers. It’s very dangerous physically and likewise psychologically. See it’s due to the fact that these individuals feel so profoundly empty within themselves that there is the compulsion to be filled with some kind of intimate contact. But of course it doesn’t work, it’s a compulsion, it has to repeat itself over and over again as with all compulsions. Now, that’s the sort of behavior that reveals a grave defect in the boundaries of the individual identity. The boundaries are lacking, they are porous, the doors are wide open.
Now consider the symbolism of the AIDS virus. The AIDS virus attacks and destroys the immune system. Specifically. That’s its specific target. And the immune system is the physiological system that protects the individual integrity of the organism on the physiological level. You see the immune system that identifies whenever a piece of material gets into the blood stream, is this I or is it not I? Does it belong to the identity of this organism or is it alien? And if it’s alien it destroys it and if it’s not it accepts it. You see the AIDS virus attacks this system by sneaking into its cells and then directing its cells to make more of the virus and in the process destroying the immune system cells from within. So that the operation of the virus is a picture of the behavior that opened the door to the virus in the first place. The whole question of organ transplants fits into this same symbolism. I’m against organ transplants. And so is the immune system. The immune system will not accept organ transplants and therefor they have to kill the immune system in order to keep the transplant intact. Well, I’m gonna take my side with the immune system, because it’s connected to the Unconscious and I think organ transplants are wrong. That’s a little gratuitous.
The image of a frog
OK, my next item. Going on to Revelation 16, verse 12. These bowls are being emptied. Bowls of disaster.
"16:12 The sixth angel emptied his bowl over the great river Euphrates; all the water dried up so that a way was made for the kings of the East[*a] to come in."
That refers to Parthia, the great dangerous enemy at the time.
"16:13 Then from the jaws of dragon and beast and false prophet I saw three foul spirits come; they looked like frogs
16:14 and in fact were demon spirits, able to work miracles, going out to all the kings of the world to call them together for the war of the Great Day of God the Almighty.-"
My reference here is to frogs. This is the imagery that we come in touch with not uncommonly. Nietzsche had an obsession that he was obliged to swallow a toad and Jung comments on the obsession in the Zarathustra Seminar, you find this comment on page 255. He says:
"It's the expression of the loathsomeness of life, or of the lower man."
Frogs and toads are the first attempt of nature towards making something like a man. So they are symbols for human transformation. And that’s due also to the fact that they metamorphose from tadpole to frog. That’s another aspect of the transformative quality. And then Jung goes on to say:
"The meaning of the frog to Nietzsche was of course the inferior man living in the swamp or mire."
And he applied that to Nietzsche, who was trying to live above his shadow. Now we will of course also think of the fairy tale of the frog prince which was a transformation tale too. You know it started out as a frog after it was accepted turned into a prince. This image in the Book of Revelation is the opposite of Nietzsche’s image. Nietzsche was under a compulsion to swallow the toad but in this case the frog is being regurgitated. The direction has been reversed, you see.
But I was very interested concerning this matter of frogs as part of the plagues of the apocalypse. I was very interested to discover an interesting dream in the book I’ve referred to previously: Dreaming the End of the World. The Michael Ortiz Hill Book, of which I want to quote to you in part. You remember he had gathered a number of dreams from various sources on the end of the world, on the apocalypse, the imagery of the apocalypse and this is one of those dreams in his collection. And unfortunately we have no information about the personal situation of the dreamer. I will abbreviate it for reasons of time.
"I'm in the desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico."
That’s where the atomic tests were held.
"My father's with me. He tells me: 'It is time.' and directs me to the door. I'm puzzled and excited not knowing what I'm excited about. I climb on a rusty bicycle and rush down a slope to the desert below. The whole horizon is visible and under the darkening skies lights of the city flash on and off. The air is charged as if lightning will soon strike. I realized the bomb is about to drop and I race ecstatic toward ground zero so I can meat it fully. In my waking life I've never felt such ecstasy. At ground zero there is thunder without lightning. Instead of the bomb an odd frog-like creature drops out of the sky. Floating down as slow as a feather using its large webbed feet as wings. It's about 3 feet tall. As soon as it lands it is attacked by local people. They beat it mercilessly. I intervene just as they are about to douse it with gasoline and light it. I sit with it and read it a children's book, trying to teach it English. It is very wise, but most of its wisdom seems in its capacity to play. It darts in and out of rabbit holes. I find myself frustrated even though I know that somehow the specialness of its intelligence is bound up with its playfulness, like a child's."
Now that’s quite the dream, isn’t it? It’s got quite a bit of meaning in it. See, here is a very different attitude to the frog then the way it’s pictured in Revelation. Although the attitude of Revelation is also present in the dream, the local people try to incinerate it, you see, they try to exterminate it with fire, so that means there will be a conflict going on within that dreamer about this matter. But the dream Ego does it just right. That’s the way of the individuation. The dream Ego discovers in the process of accepting it that it’s a bringer of wisdom and not slimy mire.
That’s as much as I’m going to say about our assignment for tonight, but I have another subject that I want to bring in at this point, that was brought to my attention from a question that I received. In that question I was asked to enlarge more specifically on my remarks about the corporate soul and the questioner spoke of guiding angel or corporate soul and how it would express itself. And the question made me realize that I needed to expand the cryptic remarks that I made back in session number 2. You’ll recall I was talking about the fact that the letters to the 7 churches were addressed to the angels of the seven churches, suggesting that we are dealing – in psychological terms – with an image representing a corporate personality, a collective psychic organism and I thought that’s something that would deserve more attention in Jungian circles and then I left it at that and I realized that I should express myself more fully since the group psychology is quite an important issue.
To start with my questioner seemed to equate corporate soul with guiding angel and that’s not necessarily the case at all. The so-called corporate soul or collective psychic organism is quite ambiguous and it can be an evil demon at times. So I want to say a little bit about the Jungian understanding of groups and group psychology.
The ideal psychological group is described very nicely by Marie Louise von Franz in her first-rate book Projection and Recollection in Jungian Psychology (page 177). I can’t do any better than read it:
"… bonds with other people are produced by the Self and these relations are very exactly regulated as to distance and closeness. One might describe this as the social function of the Self. Each person gathers around him his own soul family, a group of people not created by accident or by mere egoistic motivation but rather through deeper, more essential spiritual interest or concern: reciprocal individuation. Whereas relations based merely on projection are characterized by fascination and magical dependence, this kind of relationship, by the way of the Self, has something strictly objective, strangely transpersonal about it. It gives rise to a feeling of immediate, timeless being together. The usual bond of feeling, says Jung elsewhere, always contains projections that have to be withdrawn if one is to attain to oneself and to objectivity. Objective cognition lies hidden behind the attraction of the emotional relationship; it seems to be the central secret. In this world created by the Self we meet all those many to whom we belong, whose hearts we touch; here there is no distance, but immediate presence."
That was in part a quotation from Jung. Now I’ve tried to diagram that situation on the board to make it a little clearer. The so-called “ideal group”. In this setting each individual has his or her own conscious relation to the Self already established. And the relations to the others in the group then is a shared experience of conscious relation to the Self. And that’s indicated by the fact that each individual is a separate circle, you see. And in this setting the so-called corporate soul, the collective experience that is shared jointly has been adequately mediated by each individual so that the corporate soul, so to speak, is indeed a guiding angel. That’s fair to say. But the crucial consideration is that the individuals making up the group each have their own conscious relations to the Self.
Now very unfortunately this is not the usual state of affairs. The usual state of affairs is something more more or less like the other diagram. In this scenario the individual group members do not have individual conscious relations to the Self. But instead the group or corporate soul, to some extent or other, carries the projection of the Self for some or all of the individuals. And the result then is that there is a certain degree of participation mystique, collective identity. The Ego is comfortable in this situation and as long as its in conformity with the general viewpoint of the group or the group spirit. But the group spirit begins to reveal his demonic aspect whenever the individual goes against the group spirit. Then you find the very common phenomenon that the rest of the group gang up on that individual trying to achieve a greater level of autonomy by being different.
Jung has an important statement on this subject in a 1956 letter I’m gonna read you part of. This comes from volume 2 of the Letters starting on page 218. He’s talking about group psychology.
"Even a small group is ruled by a suggestive group spirit which, if it is good, can have very favourable social effects, though at the expense of mental and moral independence of the individual. The group accentuates the ego; one becomes braver, more presumptuous, more cocky, more insolent, more reckless; but the self is diminished and gets pushed into the background in favour of the average. For this reason all weak and insecure persons belong to unions and organizations, and if possible to a nation of 80 million! Then one is a big shot, because he is identical with everybody else, but he loses his self (which is the soul the devil is after and wins!) and his individual judgment. The ego is pressed to the wall by the group only if in his judgment it is not in accord with the group. Hence the individual in the group always tends to assent as far as possible to the majority opinion, or else to impose his opinion on the group. The levelling influence of the group on the individual is compensated by one member of it identifying with the group spirit and becoming the Leader. As a result, prestige and power conflicts are constantly arising due to the heightened egotism of the mass man. Social egocentricity increases in proportion to the numerical strength of the group."
Now these were some additional observations concerning the nature of the corporate personality that I thought I ought to get out.