Sum it up for me

Individuation: A Myth for Modern Man by Edward Edinger


Source: Edward Edinger – Individuation: A Myth for Modern Man

Table of Contents


This is my 4th visit to your beautiful city (San Francisco) and I’m very pleased to be here. I’ve always been treated with extraordinary kindness and hospitality and it gives a great pleasure to be able to return once again.

I’m going to talk to you tonight about some rather deep and abstruse material and I very much hope I don’t lose you in the process. What I hope to be able to do is to introduce you to and perhaps mediate for you some major matters that concerned Jung in his last years.

Of course the more one studies Jung, the more one realizes that the farther along you go in his life’s work the harder it is to follow him. The vast majority of people can follow him up to 1912, let’s say. Smaller number can can follow him up to maybe 1920, when the types came out, after that, it gets very difficult. After 1950, well, for most people, forget it. But that’s what I’m going to attempt to introduce to you at least in some brief fashion, because in those last years what Jung was concerned to do was to relate his discoveries concerning the nature of the individual psyche to the overall development of the collective western psyche in its whole historical cultural development. So, that’s what we are going to venture into a little bit tonight.

The major book in which he engages this matter is his book entitled “Aion“, published originally in German in 1951. What I would hope to do is to give you some introduction to that deep and wonderful work and I hope maybe a few of you sooner or later will have the courage to venture into an exploration of that for yourself.

I’m going to be talking tonight about the need for a myth, because we know from the work of historians and anthropologists that in order for a human society to remain alive and soundly functioning it requires a central operative myth, which conveys a religious way of life to the individual members of that society. It’s generally recognized by thoughtful people that western society no longer has a living myth. That’s a very dangerous state of affairs. On the other hand whenever danger comes to mind I think of the lines of Hölderlin that Jung’s fond of quoting: “Where there is danger, grows also the rescuing power”. I think that idea is illustrated in the appearance of Jung at this particular stage in the history of western society, because the historical spirit that has brought us to our current dangerous state of mythlessness has also brought us the work of Jung and his work has created the possibility of a whole new myth, a whole new worldview, or life attitude which gives us an opportunity to replace or revivify our lost myth.

Jung penetrated to a deeper level of the psyche then did Freud. He discovered what he called the “Collective Unconscious”, also termed the “objective psyche”, or the “archetypal psyche”. In his practical work with patients he came to realize that in just about all patients over the age of 35 on the verge of the second half of life did not achieve a real cure unless they found a religious attitude toward life. Now, this of course had nothing to do with allegiance to a creed. Jung has given a very nice definition of religion as the “attitude peculiar to a consciousness which has been changed by the experience of the numinosum”, in other words religion is the consequence of an experience. Now without going into details we might describe the numinosum as the religion creating archetype in the psyche. It’s the god-image, which, if once has a living experience of it generates a religious attitude just by virtue of the experience. You don’t have to have faith, you don’t have to strain to sacrifice your intellect or your doubts or anything else if you have the living experience, that’s the demonstration.

Modern man in increasing numbers is obliged to seek this original experience just because he’s lost the orientation provided by the traditional religion. Since he’s lost his containment in this old myth he’s in an urgent need of a new one. This is what I’m going to talk about tonight what I call “the myth for modern man”.

What is modern man?

First I want to inquire what is modern man? Jung gives a very explicit description of modern man. You can find this if you are interested in the starting of paragraph 149 of volume 10 of the Collected Works. I’m going to quote a fairly lengthy quotation because it’s so relevant, but listen to it, because it’s good.

"[149] … The man we call modern, the man who is aware of the immediate present, is by no means the average man."
"[150] The man who has attained consciousness of the present is solitary. The “modern” man has at all times been so, for every step towards fuller consciousness removes him further from his original, purely animal participation mystique with the herd, from submersion in a common unconsciousness. Every step forward means tearing oneself loose from the maternal womb of unconsciousness in which the mass of men dwells. Even in a civilized community the people who form, psychologically speaking, the lowest stratum live in a state of unconsciousness little different from that of primitives. Those of the succeeding strata live on a level of consciousness which corresponds to the beginnings of human culture, while those of the highest stratum have a consciousness that reflects the life of the last few centuries. Only the man who is modern in our meaning of the term really lives in the present; he alone has a present-day consciousness, and he alone finds that the ways of life on those earlier levels have begun to pall upon him. The values and strivings of those past worlds no longer interest him save from the historical standpoint. Thus he has become “unhistorical” in the deepest sense and has estranged himself from the mass of men who live entirely within the bounds of tradition. Indeed, he is completely modern only when he has come to the very edge of the world, leaving behind him all that has been discarded and outgrown, and acknowledging that he stands before the Nothing out of which All may grow."
"[152] An honest admission of modernity means voluntarily declaring oneself bankrupt, taking the vows of poverty and chastity in a new sense, and—what is still more painful—renouncing the halo of sanctity which history bestows. To be “unhistorical” is the Promethean sin, and in this sense the modern man is sinful. A higher level of consciousness is like a burden of guilt. But, as I have said, only the man who has outgrown the stages of consciousness belonging to the past, and has amply fulfilled the duties appointed for him by his world, can achieve full consciousness of the present. To do this he must be sound and proficient in the best sense—a man who has achieved as much as other people, and even a little more. It is these qualities which enable him to gain the next highest level of consciousness."

You’ll note that Jung called the modern man unhistorical. This means that he’s no longer contained in a tradition, that is, his individual identity is no longer propped up by unconscious containment in a religious cultural or ethnic identification. He’s alone and he’s without a myth. When this state of affairs happens to a large number of people it creates a problem for the society as a whole.

The Christian myth

It’s very interesting that the Christian myth has presaged this state of affairs. Jung talks about this in “Aion” and here he points out that the Christian myth has built into itself the idea of an enantiodromia. Let me tell you what an enantiodromia is. That refers to a “turning into its opposite”, high turning into low, cold turning into hot and so on. The Christian myth has built into it the idea of an enantiodromia, which is evidenced by the fact that it predicts that the figure of Christ will be followed by his opposite, namely Satan, the Anti-Christ. Concerning this Jung writes, and I quote, this is from “Aion” paragraph 68:

"[68] The dechristianization of our world, the Luciferian development of science and technology, and the frightful material and moral destruction left behind by the second World War have been compared more than once with the eschatological events foretold in the New Testament. These, as we know, are concerned with the coming of the Antichrist: “This is Antichrist, who denieth the Father and the Son.” “Every spirit that dissolveth Jesus … is Antichrist … of whom you have heard that he cometh.” The Apocalypse is full of expectations of terrible things that will take place at the end of time, before the marriage of the Lamb. This shows plainly that the anima christiana - "Christian soul" has a sure knowledge not only of the existence of an adversary but also of his future usurpation of power."

In considerable detail Jung discusses the whole psychological phenomenon of Anti-Christ following the image of Christ in the Christian aeon, that we are now coming to an end of. According to astrological symbolism the Christian aeon corresponds to the age of Pisces because the spring point has been passing through the constellation of Pisces during the Christian aeon and the first fish in that constellation has been associated with Christ and the second fish of the constellation has been associated with Anti-Christ. Jung says:

"It's a matter of astronomical fact that the spring point entered the second fish about the 16th century, the time of the reformation and the renaissance and with these there comes that spirit which culminates in the modern age."

The legend of Faust

That’s the spirit of Anti-Christ. It’s very interesting that precisely at this time, that’s 1500 A.D., the legend of Faust arose. This legend belongs to the same symbolism as that of Anti-Christ. According to this legend Doctor Faustus, a very learned physician, became bored with his empty life and he invokes and communicates with the Devil and sells his soul to the Devil in return for magical knowledge, pleasure and power. Among other things he’s granted the power to evoke the figures of Greek mythology, including Helen of Troy. The Devil permits him to have Helen of Troy as his paramour. Finally, after certain period of time, like his cousin, Don Juan, Faust must pay the piper and is dragged into Hell by the Devil. That’s the basic story.

It’s quite remarkable during the past 500 years that story has been told again and again and again in poetry, prose and music. One scholar has written a book describing in detail 50 different versions of Faust, and there are a lot more than that even. Probably the most notable versions are Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus of 1592, Goethe’s Faust of 1832 and in modern times Thomas Mann’s novel Doctor Faustus, published in 1947, which is based on the life of Nietzsche.

Behind the Christian myth stands the figure of the historical Jesus of Nazareth and similarly, behind the Faust myth stands the historical figure of Doctor Johann Faust. There was a historical Faustus, it’s not just a legend. He lived from approximately 1480 to 1540. Not much is known about him, but there’s definite historical evidence that he lived. He was a personal acquaintance of the protestant reformer Melanchthon, who we are informed, believed in the reality of his powers. He’s said to have died during a demonstration of flying which he used putting on for a royal audience. Very shortly after his death legendary material so quickly obscured is biography that as with Christ we can’t see much of the historical Faust and all we have is the legend.

I think it’s highly significant for understanding this myth that the historical Faust was a contemporary of the following people: Martin Luther the reformer; Leonardo da Vinci the greatest artist of the renaissance; Paracelsus the great alchemist, apothecary physician; Columbus who discovered America; Erasmus the great humanist scholar, who was the first that made the New Testament available in Greek; Copernicus discoverer of the Copernican view of the solar system; Vesalius the great human anatomist; and Machiavelli the pioneer of objective statecraft. All of these are contemporaries of Doctor John Faustus and hence all of them partake in one way or another of the Faust legend, you see, because what we can say now, looking back into the 16th century, we can see that what happened then is that the god-image fell out of Heaven into the human psyche, if you understand what that means. In the course of that fall, out of its metaphysical status to the status of human psychological experience, in the course of that movement from Heaven to Earth, the god-image undergoes an enantiodromia, it turns from Christ to Anti-Christ. It turns from Christ to Faust so to speak. This course of events was predicted long ago in the Book of Revelation where we read in the 12th chapter and 12th verse:

"12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time."

From the standpoint of Jungian psychology this is what happened in the 16th century.

Of course the men of the renaissance and the reformation and the scientific revolution, the artists, the scholars, the scientists, the explorers, the reformers, they certainly didn’t consider their experience as devilish, or deriving from Anti-Christ. Certainly not. They all thought of themselves as good Christians. They were just excited by the expansion of human knowledge and energy. They thought that was perfectly compatible with the containment in the Christian religion. But they were wrong. History proved them wrong, because things looked different from the standpoint of the Unconscious. Because what the Unconscious does at time is it throws up like a compensating dream the Faust legend. The Faust legend informs us that what’s going on is dealings with the Devil, dealings with Anti-Christ.

The psyche of western man in the 19th century

However nobody noticed what happened until about the 19th century when a few sensitive souls began to realize that something was seriously wrong in the psyche of western man. For instance Woodsworth at the beginning of the century in one of his poems confesses to a feeling of forlornness and yearns for the pagan world. He indeed did try to deal with the lost Christian myth by a regression to paganism, to pagan nature-worship.

Another sensitive poetic soul of the 19th century I want to look at a little more closely. This was Matthew Arnold who lived from 1822 to 1888. He was the son of the pious school master of Rugby, Thomas Arnold. In his youth he wrote a classic 19th century lament for our lost religious myth, I want to read that lament to you. It’s really an itinerary to the lost God. It was written in 1851 and the title of it is “Dover Beach”:

"The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."

You see this retreating sea of faith that he’s speaking of that’s a Judeo-Christian myth which is no longer serving to contain the advanced minds of the 19th century. Like orphans who have lost their mother they are ejected into the cold cruel world where there is no joy, no love, no light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain. It’s quite interesting that the only hope Arnold can offer is that a personal love relationship might carry the meaning of the lost connection with God. In fact he wrote that poem on his honeymoon. But as psychologists we know that a personal relationship cannot stand up under the burden of such excessive weight as that. It can’t be a substitute for the god-image, it’d break under the load. Matthew Arnold is out of fashion now, but many young lovers of my generation and the generation preceding mine recited “Dover Beach” to each other in utmost seriousness. But this solution to the problem of the lost myth won’t work. It’s also significant how the poem ends:

"And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."

That’s an image of the activated opposites, a striking, dramatic image “ignorant armies clash by night”. This is the problem that confronts the man who has lost his containing myth because the activated god-image when it first comes into human experience appears as a pair of opposites. So when Mephistopheles confronted Faust he opened up the problem of opposites in the same fashion as the serpent in the garden of Eden opened up the problem of opposites for Adam and Eve when he told them to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that’s the consciousness of the opposites that comes out from eating that fruit.

Later in the 19th century Nietzsche nailed down the fact, completely, the psychological effect in his work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”. He announced unequivocally that God is dead. Jung says about that:

"When Nietzsche said that God is dead he uttered a truth which is valid for the greater part of Europe. People were influenced by it not because he said so, but because it stated a widespread psychological fact and the consequences were not long delayed. After the fog of '-sims', the catastrophe."

Now in the 20th century it’s become an open secret that God is indeed dead and this is no glib intellectualism, it’s a terrifying psychic fact for an increasing number of individuals.

Summary of historical observations made thus far

Now let me summarize for you my historical observations to this point. About 1500 A.D. the god-image fell out of Heaven into the human psyche. In other words it was withdrawn from metaphysical projection and became available for direct conscious experience. This event had a two-fold effect. On the one hand it greatly increased available energy to the individual Ego promoting investigation of previously forbidden areas. But on the other hand it had the delayed effect of alienating the Ego from its transpersonal connection, from its essence of having divine guidance. This then lead to the progressive realization that man is an orphan in a meaningless universe. This double effect increased energy and power for the Ego linked to a lost relation to God constitutes a psychological state of inflation and/or despair.

The collective view is that the last 500 years has been a time of great progress and advancement and so it has, but the Unconscious, as indicated by myth and legend, characterized this period as the advent of Anti-Christ and diabolical Faustian man. The realization of man’s lost and desperate condition begun to dawn in the 19th century and reached major proportions in the 20th century. So it’s in this historical setting that the advent of Jung occurred with his discovery of the process of individuation.

C. G. Jung and his discovery of the Collective Unconscious

What had been going on in the collective psyche since 1500 A.D. the descent of the god-image into empirical man finally reaches full individual consciousness in C. G. Jung. That happened specifically during his confrontation with the Unconscious beginning on December 12th 1913 and lasting into 1918. This experience enabled Jung to discover empirically the Collective Unconscious and it followed his realization, as he tells us in his autobiography, his realization that he had no myth. This experience was his first step in the discovery of his new myth.

We can now realize that what happened to Jung is typical, namely that the discovery of a new myth or the revitalization of an old one requires that the individual have a direct experience of the Collective Unconscious. That’s what will do the job. However there is a hitch because such experience is dangerous. It can destroy as well as heal because it opens up the opposites and the individual can be torn apart by the opposites unless the imagery emerges which unites them, the images of the Self. It’s the discovery of those images that unite the opposites which constitute the process of individuation. Another way of putting it is individuation is the process whereby the Ego encounters the Self, the inner god-image, and establishes a living relationship to it. When that happens the lost god-image is rediscovered within.

The word Jung uses for the inner god-image is the word “Self”, with a capital S. This very word indicates what a highly ambiguous endeavor individuation is, because that word “Self” reminds us of selfishness, it reminds us of self-centered narcissism, reminds us of narcissistic megalomania. The word “Self” is very ambiguous, it doesn’t have a very good odor in contemporary usage and our apprehension is only increased when we learn that Jung describes individuation as “the continuing incarnation of God”, and in talking about that he quotes Christ saying in the 10th chapter of John: “I said you are gods”. It sound like pretty dangerous doctrine. In fact it sounds very similar to Faust’s experiment with the Devil, because here is Faust, initially a good man, who exposed himself to Evil and opened himself to the experience of the opposites. He becomes the prototype of the modern man who sets forth on that dangerous journey of individuation. The story of Faust is an image of what we do when we take the Unconscious seriously, really seriously. Jung puts it in very stark terms, this comes from paragraph 41 of “Psychology and Alchemy” and I quote:

"[41] … there have always been people who, not satisfied with the dominants of conscious life, set forth—under cover and by devious paths, to their destruction or salvation—to seek direct experience of the eternal roots, and, following the lure of the restless unconscious psyche, find themselves in the wilderness where, like Jesus, they come up against the son of darkness, the αντιμιμον πνευμα."

The obvious danger in this operation is that the Ego will identify with the Self and succumb to an atheistical inflation. In fact that’s a very grave danger of modern man. The contrary danger is that of alienation, a state of disconnection from the Self causing despair. That’s really just the other side of the coin from the inflation. They’re really two sides of the same phenomenon. But between the Scylla and Charybdis lies the possibility of individuation in which the Ego consciously connects with the Self but does not identify with it. Now this is easier said than done.

<…> leads immediately to the problem of the opposites, which expose one to severe inner conflict. If one can endure the conflict of these activated opposites usually the Unconscious will generate symbols of what we call a “coniunctio“, namely symbols of reconciliation, symbols of marriage between the opposites. This is what happens in the Faust legend because the central theme of the Faust story in its developed form, and Goethe’s Faust is the most developed one we have, the “coniunctio” theme is the central theme of the legend. In Goethe’s version for instance in part one we have the union of Faust and Gretchen, and in part two we have the union of Faust and Helen of Troy, an archetypal figure. In a letter Jung writes concerning this matter these words and I quote:

"Goethe's Faust is an Opus Alchemicum in the best sense as in the alchemy the mystery of the coniunctio runs through the whole of Faust. I have devoted a special work to this problem: 'Mysterium Coniunctionis'. It contains everything that forms a historical background so far as this is alchemical of Faust. These roots were worthy it seemed to me to explain much of the numinous effect which emanates from Goethe's main work."

So from these words we can see that Jung’s master work, ‘Mysterium Coniunctionis’, can be considered as the culmination of the Faust legend and Jung himself can be considered as the ultimate Faustian man.

I should say about the book ‘Mysterium Coniunctionis’ that it’s an exhaustive discussion of the symbolism of the coniunctio in alchemy and related material because in Jung’s later years he saw that symbolic image as the crucial one which is able to provide the healing for modern man and that’s why he gave such great efforts to elaboration of that image of coniunctio. The mystery of the coniunctio is the mystery of individuation itself. It poses the terrible question how can the individual consciously experience the opposites without being torn apart by them and it answers this question by means of the symbolic imagery of the coniunctio which are images expressing the Self in its capacity as reconciler of opposites.

Opposites on the level of individual psychology

Let me talk a bit about opposites on the level of individual psychology. I’ve been talking about the historical factors up to now. Now let’s talk about how these matters impinge upon the individual.

Certainly the most crucial and terrifying pair of opposites is the opposites good and evil. The very survival of the Ego depends on how it relates to this matter. In order to survive the Ego must experience itself as more good than bad. This explains the creation of what we call the “shadow” in childhood in the early phase of psychological development. The young Ego can tolerate very little experience of its own badness without succumbing to demoralization. This accounts for the universal phenomenon we see all around us, the phenomenon that obliges us to locate evil. Whenever something evil happens, its cause or blame or responsibility for it, if at all possible, must be located. Somebody must carry the burden of that evil. With maturation of the Ego in the process of individuation this changes somewhat. The individual becomes able – a little bit anyway, I don’t want to be over-optimistic in this regard – to take on himself the task of being the carrier of evil rather then having to locate it outside himself for his own survival. Another way of putting it he becomes capable of carrying the opposites. To the extent he is capable of carrying the opposites, he is thereby promoting the coniunctio, promoting it so far as the collective psyche is concerned.

In an early phase of this capacity, of the recognition of the opposites, we have what might be called the “pendulum phase”. During this phase the individual is cast back and forth between different moods, between moods of guilty inferiority and unworthiness on one hand and on the other hand of optimistic well-being and sense of confidence and personal worth. It’s as though he encounters darkness and lightness one after the other. Jung makes a quite remarkable statement about this phase, I’ll read it to you. This comes from paragraph 206 of Mysterium Coniunctionis and I quote:

"[206] The one-after-another is a bearable prelude to the deeper knowledge of the side-by-side, for this is an incomparably more difficult problem. Again, the view that good and evil are spiritual forces outside us, and that man is caught in the conflict between them, is more bearable by far than the insight that the opposites are the ineradicable and indispensable preconditions of all psychic life, so much so that life itself is guilt."

That may help you understand why Mysterium Coniunctionis is not a very popular book. But perhaps the quotation will give you some idea of what a grave matter it is to really consider seriously the problem of the opposites. I think it can be fairly stated that an understanding of the opposites is the key to the psyche. Once you become familiar with the phenomenon of the opposites, you’ll see it everywhere. The operation of the opposites in the collective psyche is exposed to you everywhere. Every war, every contest between groups, every dispute between political factions, even every game is an expression of the opposites striving towards a coniunctio. Whenever an individual falls into an identification with one side of a pair of warring groups or factions he loses the possibility of being a carrier of the opposites and at such times then he locates the enemy, the contrary, the opposite, the evil, he locates on the outside and in the course of that exteriorization of one half of himself he becomes a mass-man. Jung puts it in this way, this is from paragraph 425 of Volume 8 of the Collected Works:

"[425] If the subjective consciousness prefers the ideas and opinions of collective consciousness and identifies with them, then the contents of the collective unconscious are repressed."
"[425] And the more highly charged the collective consciousness, the more the ego forfeits its practical importance. It is, as it were, absorbed by the opinions and tendencies of collective consciousness, and the result of that is the mass man, the ever-ready victim of some wretched “ism.” The ego keeps its integrity only if it does not identify with one of the opposites, and if it understands how to hold the balance between them. This is possible only if it remains conscious of both at once."

How can we become conscious of the opposites?

Well, let’s carry it a step further! How can we become conscious of the opposites? Assuming that you weren’t, to start with. Where were the opposites to be found? Well, I can make a very explicit suggestion: you will find the opposites by examining carefully whatever you love or hate. Socrates long ago said: “the unexamined life is not worth living” and that’s a very apt motto for the process of individuation. You’ll find the opposites be examining carefully whatever you love or hate. This is an exceedingly difficult procedure because the inclination to examine does not usually accompany the passions of love and hate. But it is in our loves and our hates that the opposites reside. The very first sentence of Mysterium Coniunctionis reads this way and this is really the essence of the whole book, it says:

"[1] The factors which come together in the coniunctio are conceived as opposites, either confronting one another in enmity or attracting one another in love."

So the coniunctio as an archetype is operating every bit as much in fights as it is in loves. Those are the two ways that unconscious coniunctio energies express themselves, by hatreds or by attractions. Whenever we take too concretely an urge to love or hate the coniunctio is exteriorized and thereby the possibility of a conscious experience of the coniunctio is destroyed. If we are gripped by a strong attraction or repulsion to a person or a thing we should reflect on it. Jung says, quote:

"Unless we prefer to be made fools of by our allusions we shall by carefully analyzing every fascination extract from it a portion of our own personality like a quintessence and slowly come to recognize that we meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the path of life. And similarly with our passioned antipathies they must be subjected to full analytic scrutiny. We must ask ourselves: what persons do I hate? What groups or factions do I fight against? Because where ever they are, they are a part of me. I am bound to that which I hate as surely as I am bound to that which I love. Psychologically the important thing is where ones libido is lodged and not whether he is for or against a given thing."

If you pursue such reflections diligently you’ll gradually collect your scattered psyche from the outer world, like the dismembered body of Osiris and it’s this kind of work which is the work of individuation which creates the coniunctio and in the process promotes a net increase of consciousness in the world.


To conclude: The world is torn asunder by the strife between the opposites. The state of affairs it’s grown progressively worse in the past 500 years, the strife between the opposites what Jung calls the “wretched -isms”, Emerson says:

"all men plume themselves on the improvement of society and no man improves".

As Jung puts it:

"If the individual is not truly regenerated in the spirit, society cannot be either, for society is the sum total of individuals in need of redemption".

In another place he makes this suggestion:

"If only a world wide consciousness could arise that all division and all fission are due to the splitting of opposites in the psyche then we should know where to begin. What does lie in our reach is the change in individuals who have or create for themselves an opportunity to influence others of like mind. I do not mean by persuading or preaching, I'm thinking rather of the well-known fact that anyone who has insight into his own actions and has thus found access to the Unconscious involuntarily exercises an influence on his environment."

That comes from paragraph 583 of volume 10 (of the Collected Works).

See, these individuals with insight into their own actions are the ones who to a greater or a lesser extent have experienced the coniunctio. They are the ones who are aware of the fact that the opposites go to make up the psyche itself and therefore go to make up ones own psyche and therefore they become carriers of the opposites rather then exteriorizers of the opposites. If society is to be redeemed it will done so, according to the standpoint of Jungian psychology anyway, through the cumulative effect of such individuals. The idea is that when enough individuals can carry the consciousness of wholeness the world itself will become whole.

Thank you very much.

About the author


Add comment

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

Sum it up for me

Recent Posts

Recent Comments