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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Carl Jung on the historical origins of “Individuation.”




Lecture I 2nd May, 1941

For several semesters, I have been speaking to you about the Process of Individuation.

By this term, we understand a certain tendency of the psyche towards centralisation.

This tendency should be regarded as phylogenetic, belonging to the history of the evolution of the race, and also as ontogenetic, belonging to the history of the development of the individual.

The original condition of the psyche is a dissociated condition, in that consciousness is remarkably weak.

We can observe this in the primitives of today, and also in cultural human beings under certain conditions.

This weak consciousness shows itself above all in the fact that the will is missing in the primitive stage.

Only moods are present, all action depends on these, and is more or less involuntary.

Consciousness is not distinct, and is subordinate to every kind of inner and outer influence.

It is in consequence quite unreliable, and at the mercy of moods, emotions and so on.

It has no freedom, and the ego, which should be the centre and place of control for consciousness, has desperately little to say.

It is no wonder, therefore, that nature herself strives to produce a strengthening of the ego in order gradually to bring about more consciousness, for without this the further development of mankind would be impossible.

The whole history of culture is really the history of a strengthening and widening of consciousness, and therefore of the controlling ego.

Consciousness is bound up with the existence of an ego, one simply cannot imagine it without.

If we represent the range of consciousness diagrammatically, we find a number of contents in it, of which only a very limited proportion of so-called simultaneous contents are conscious, inasfar
as they are connected with the centre which we call the ego (a) . (See diagram 3 on p. 138.)

The ego knows or is conscious of itself; this is the basic formula of consciousness.

If this consciousness is intense and extends by relating to more numerous contents, its range becomes wider.

Some of the contents in the diagram, 4 which are not directly connected with the centre, are related to other contents, and so indirectly to the centre.

Unlimited differentiations and combinations are possible, absolutely unlimited, but simultaneous contents are exceedingly limited, because we are unable to think of many things at once.

The ego looks away, as a rule, from those things which are painful or disagreeable to it, they are forgotten or repressed and thus lose their connection with the centre and slip into the so-called personal unconscious.

(b) The contents of the unconscious have no direct connection with the ego, but they are gradually perceived in the form of images.

These images are phenomena of energy, and a certain tension is needed before an unconscious content can become conscious.

If the tension is not sufficiently strong for the content to reach the threshold of consciousness, it remains unconscious: it exists but is not related to the centre.

The parts of ourselves which we are unwilling to accept, and therefore forget or repress, form the figure of the shadow.

The shadow is connected, on the other side, with the contents of the collective unconscious (c), and thus elements enter into the images which have never been known to consciousness.

The contents of the collective unconscious are so obscure that they only relate to the ego under exceptional conditions.

They are so strange and foreign, and appear in consciousness in such a peculiar way, that they often are not recognised as belonging in 5 any way to the human sphere.

These invasions, from the realm of the collective unconscious, are always characterised by peculiar emotional phenomena.

The strange experiences in the primitive world, which are called mana-experiences, come from this source.

Mana is a Polynesian word, and means something extraordinarily effective.

To take an example: animals have their natural habits and customs, and while they follow these, the primitives regard them as ordinary dogs, birds, snakes and so on.

But if one day, an animal behaves in an unexpected way, not according to its usual habits, it immediately becomes "mana ", and is thought to be a "doctor animal".

That is: it is regarded as being filled with a peculiar power; perhaps a medicine man has entered the animal, or it is itself a wizard, and can therefore behave in a way which contradicts its nature.

It is a quite special case.

There are plants, trees and people that are always, or occasionally, "mana”.

The power or prestige of the chief or that of the medicine man are mana; and the strength or power of medicine, and of health itself, are also called mana.

All medicine is just medicine to the primitive, whether it is quinine, some amulet or anything else which has a magic or healing effect, and he therefore needs a term such as mana.

Presumably mana is not an inherent quality of these things.

For instance, when an ant-eater, which is a nocturnal animal by nature, shows itself by day, we regard it as an ordinary ant-eater which has made a mistake, but for the primitive it is no ordinary animal but a quite extraordinary devil of a fellow.

Such a break in the order of nature is regarded as dangerous, and the primitives undertake certain rituals in order to repair it.

They feel about it as you would feel if you heard that the river Sihl had turned round and was running up its course towards Einsiedeln.

Such an event would open the door to every possibility, the Limmat might do the same tomorrow, or the North Sea might flood Europe and drown us all.

When the laws of nature become disturbed, things are very dangerous , and it is vitally necessary to bring them back into order, through magic or any other effective means.

The mana experience is one of the most primitive forms of experiencing the contents of the collective unconscious which have become activated for unknown, unconscious reasons; and therefore such contents also appear in the form of ghosts which belong to primitive psychical conditions.

Ghosts also affect consciousness, and draw their power from man, unless we assume that they have an independent existence of their own.

This question still remains open; large groups of people even now are convinced of the independent existence of ghosts, and such people are not confined to "darkest Africa"!

A higher stage of such beings or forces is that of the gods.

The mana experience itself remains essentially the same as it was from the beginning, but it becomes differentiated into a higher and a lower level.

On the lower level ghosts remain ghosts, and our ghost stories are indeed very similar to those of the primitives.

The American and English spiritualists, during the last war, spontaneously adopted the idea of teaching ghosts that they were dead.

This idea is also to be found in Tibetan texts, which were not then translated; the "Tibetan Book of the Dead'', for instance, contains directions for teaching ghosts that they no longer belong to
the world of the living.

Such ideas are eternal, they can be forgotten a hundred times but they always appear again, for they are primeval psychological experiences, and therefore ghosts do not develop.

It is different with the doctrines concerning the gods.

These develop in a very characteristic way.

The idea of gods is only to be found at a certain cultural level; on the most primitive level the mana experience has no form, it is a mass of ghosts, magic and medicine, and does not develop, as I said before.

There is no real difference between a medicine man in darkest Africa and a "sorcerer" in Appenzell today, their procedure is essentially the same.

But the dogmas of religion have proved themselves capable of luxuriant development.

The very idea of a god is a much higher and more differentiated conception than the primitive idea of ghosts; the latter betrays a complete formlessness of the mana experience.

From the earliest days, and the lowest stages of culture, all over the world, men began to develop measures to protect themselves, and to propitiate these dangerous, unconscious contents.

The mana powers have a great influence on the fate of man, so they must be propitiated, appeased and persuaded to be favourably disposed towards man.

Every magic means has been used to bring about this end.

If a god was indifferent, his attention must be aroused, and in such a way that he could be asked for favours.

It is on the stories of such experiences with the gods that mythology is really founded.

Mythology could be called a record of those unconscious contents which only reach consciousness occasionally and under unusual conditions.

It teaches us about these dominants or archetypes of the collective unconscious which are unknown to us, but from which we receive very peculiar effects.

We will not go into the history of religions in detail, but I will sketch the development very briefly.

Gradually and in the course of time a certain type of deity appeared: a sort of divine hero, half man and half god, gradually emerged from the higher religions where the deity was still entirely outside man.

Osiris is perhaps the most ancient figure of this kind.

And this old Egyptian god is typical of the god with a human and divine nature combined.

He had human characteristics, suffered a human fate, including pain and death; and as a god he experienced rebirth, that is resurrection.

This god had a special relationship to the Pharaoh who was the earthly god.

The Pharaohs were born in a miraculous manner, birth chambers still exist in the old Egyptian temples where the divine pregnancy and the birth of the Pharaoh are depicted.

The Pharaoh possessed an Osiris-soul; that is, he was in participation with the god who suffered, died and rose again.

Therefore the Pharaoh, when as a man he suffered the human fate of death, rose again like Osiris.

This interrelation between god and man, this similarity in essence, existed in very ancient times in Egypt, but it was originally confined exclusively to the Pharaoh.

Gradually in the course of centuries, as such things happen, the Osiris-soul was extended to the royal family, and further to the members of the court.

And still later, Osiris became the Osiris of every one, the immortal soul, as Christianity would express it.

The figure of the divine man is by no means confined to Egypt, it is to be found in other places and in other religions.

Some examples are the figures of Attis, Adonis, Tammuz in Babylon, in a certain sense also Mithras who is of Persian and Indian origin; and further the teaching of the Anthropos that developed in so-called Hellenistic syncretism, which was an amalgamation of Greek philosophy with the Egyptian religion in the time of the Ptolemies.

This Anthropos doctrine is a pre-Christian teaching concerning the first human being.

The first man was an emanation or visible form of the Deity in human shape, participating in human life.

He became the prototype of human life, or rather of human consciousness, in that he was always swallowed by, or entangled in, the darkness.

He was taken prisoner by it and disappeared, so to speak, into the darkness of nature, into the Physis or materia, or was captured by evil.

He then overcomes his captors or is rescued from his prison, or even takes captivity captive.

To use an old parable for the last, he is the bait of the Deity, by means of which the essence of the darkness is fished up out of the deep.

These are Manichaean conceptions, but Christ is also sometimes represented as the bait on the divine hook, by means of which Leviathan is fished up out of the sea.

Leviathan is of course evil, the essence of darkness.

This Anthropos, already in Hellenistic times and independent of Christian influences, became the essential human centre of man, a living being in him, a superior higher being in man and yet man.

This was the reason why he was called the "anthropos", which simply means man.

We can see a similar development in India, but a good deal earlier, about six centuries before Christ: Buddha is also a divine hero who, so to speak, conclusively overcomes the darkness.

He is also a kind of divine man, but with peculiar variations which are characteristic of him.

I will not go into these, as I have spoken of them in detail earlier lectures.

Simultaneously with this development in the religious teaching about the Deity, a transformation took place in the religious practises which were concerned with measures for protection and with propitiating the gods.

They retained the same character, it is true, indeed we still find rites of propitiation and prayers for protection even in the most highly develop ed religions.

But beyond these, through participation in the fate of the divine man, man gradually became conscious that he was in an unblessed, unredeemed state in the ego condition.

Man developed the feeling that he was imprisoned in the darkness of this world, that he lived under the domination of evil in his human body.

He began, therefore, to long for a miraculous deliverance or transformation; for that deliverance which is the portion of the divine man, brought about either through the fullness of his own powers, or through divine grace, which delivers him from the darkness through help from above.

This realisation brings a new element into the situation, namely consciousness of .the fact that the ego condition is an unblessed state.

The ancient pre-Christian world knew nothing of this insight.

It was only in the centuries immediately preceding the birth of Christ, that the idea gradually developed in the Greek world, through the myth of the Anthropos.

We do not know whether consciousness of the unblessed state of the ego condition gave rise to the doctrine about the Anthropos, or vice versa; we hear of both at the same time.

We could not assert that it was consciousness of the plight of the ego which was the cause of the doctrine, in fact it is rather more likely that the matter was reversed.

The idea of the Anthropos, as Osiris shows us, is very ancient, it may even be much older than we know; so probably it is older than the insight into the imperfect, unredeemed state of the ego .

This realisation is probably a later acquisition for it requires profound reflection: man must be in a position to make comparisons, to understand what is good and what is bad, and his own feelings.

A man in a dissociated psychical condition is not in a position to know whether he is in a blessed or an unblessed state, he has no idea how things are with him; it requires real realisation to know how one is.

This unblessed, unfree, unhappy condition of the ego was gradually balanced by a peculiar consciousness of a relation to something which was not in a suffering condition, something which was in a perfect, peaceful, complete and blessed state.

This is, in a way, the relation of man to the eternal contents of the collective unconscious, which exist beyond time, beside the transient and the changing.

Ego consciousness is caught in the prison of this world, but outside there is an eternal, non-suffering and probably even peaceful, condition, where the higher being exists, the Anthropos, the man who is greater than the ego and who is the totality.

The relation to a greater Anthropos thus became the expression for the fact that the ego had advanced to a condition in which it was able to realise that it was imperfect and in a sorry plight.

We are caught in the darkness but a greater one exists who knows infinitely more than the ego, and who has planned long ago to lay the possibility of transformation on the path of life.

The effort to relate to this higher being, the Anthropos, dates from about the first century B. C.

It is an effort to realise fully the dim feeling, present in everyone: "I am also this great being."

We find many proofs of this in the literature of the period, which clearly express the conviction: "I am he and he is I."

It is very similar in the East.

The dark, unhappy, emotional condition of dissociation, where one is caught in the concupiscentia, must be fought by saying to oneself: "I am the great Atman, the essence of the world and beyond suffering.

I am beyond the world and beyond time.

I am the totality.

"These are the basic ideas of Yoga, as you will remember.

And we found the same idea again in the Exercitia of Ignatius of Loyola, where the ego of man is dissolved in favour of the divine man, of Christ.

When I had lectured during several Semesters on these two similar, and yet wholly different, points of view, I turned to the very peculiar spiritual movement which confronts us in alchemy.

In a certain sense this movement, in its western form, is isolated.

Alchemy also exists in the East, in China for instance, but there it is a part, and a direct expression, of a certain philosophical religion, of Taoism.

The main symbols of Taoism, the spirit of the valley, the dragon and so on, are also to be found in alchemy.

The origins of alchemy are more or less synchronistic in East and West, but alchemistic philosophy encountered more resistance in the West than in the East.

Confucianism was the recognised state religion in China, it subordinates the interests of the individual to those of the state, whereas Taoism is essentially a religion for the individual.

The central idea of Taoism is no moral question, but is the Tao, the indefinable essence of the right way, and this is also the mystery of alchemy.

Confucianism opposed Taoism and to some extent repressed it, so that it gradually lost ground and was regarded as being of secondary importance.

The repression, however, was never very severe, Taoism went on existing, and its literature was highly valued, think of the Tao-te Ching by Lao-Tse, for instance.

Therefore alchemy had a much better chance in the East than in the West, and alchemistic ideas came to light earlier.

The ideas, for instance, which are to be found in China about 1000 A. D. do not appear in Europe till the thirteenth or fourteenth century.

The "Aurora Consurgens "is a western text which could well be compared with the Chinese "Golden Flower”.

The former was probably written towards the end of the thirteenth century, whereas the origin of the latter is much older, it may even date from the ninth or tenth century.

Had the ideas of Gnosticism prevailed, western alchemy would have had much more chance, but as it was alchemy remained a kind of secret or occult knowledge and was more or less isolated.

It existed inside Christianity, but was never recognised officially as part of Christianity.

Alchemy has no official tradition or recognised literature in the West.

The spiritual atmosphere, which prevails in alchemy, is totally different to that of the Ignatian exercises, or to anything known to us through Christianity.

Alchemy is not directly concerned with the redemption of the ego, nor is the ego dissolved; it consists rather of a peculiar task undertaken by the philosophers, or artists as they often call themselves.

This task consists of freeing the light imprisoned in the darkness, or in perfecting the imperfect through a long and complicated work, represented as chemistry and really meant as chemistry.

Apparently the alchemist was only concerned with the materia, even only with chemical matter, but the texts are ambiguous.

There are books which are undoubtedly only meant to be chemistry, even though their definitions are not really chemistry; but the best of the alchemistic classics are highly ambiguous, full of double meaning.

The goal which the alchemist sets himself, however, is not a direct redemption of the human being, nor is it a propitiation of the Deity nor a defence against evil.

It is the idea of producing a perfect and complete being, a being which has a redeeming effect and which has many names: panacea, medicina catholica, the philosophers' stone and innumerable
other synonyms.

The goal of alchemy is not merely material, it is partly in "the Beyond", and is almost exactly similar to the goal of Taoism, where the whole effort is directed towards finding or creating Tao.

In this connection, I should like to tell you a story which was told me by the late Richard Wilhelm (although you may already have heard it in earlier lectures), in order that you may get some idea of how the Chinese regards Tao.

When Wilhelm was in China there was a terrible drought, there had been no rain for months. The Catholics prayed for rain and had processions, the Chinese let off fireworks and fired guns to banish the drought demons, and so on, but all in vain. It was decided, therefore, to fetch a rainmaker from another province. Wilhelm was there when he arrived, a small wizened old man. He was asked what he required and replied: "Give me a small house outside the town and leave me alone. " His wishes were fulfilled and nothing was seen or heard of him for three days. On the fourth day there was a great fall of snow which was wholly unexpected at that time of year; and everyone said that the rainmaker had made the snow. Wilhelm was much interested and asked him: Did you make that snow?" "No" he replied "I did not." "But what did you do then? " " I simply stayed in my house" was the reply. Wilhelm might have assumed it was a fortunate chance, but he saw there was something behind it. So he persisted, saying: "You must have done something. "Then the old man said: "I come from the province of Schangsi, we have rain there, and everything is in order. If it does not rain when it should, then things are out of joint somewhere. And when I came here I too was infected and also got out of order. It was so bad that it took me three days and three nights to get myself straight again. And then naturally the drought ended."

This is a way of thinking which is very strange to us.

We never think in this way, but the Chinese philosopher does, and the old alchemists thought that way too.

They speak as if they thought causally, but they do not, they think synchronistically, and we do not understand.

It is the same when you talk to a Chinese, he speaks as if he were using the causal language, and one has to deal with such people for a long time, before one can understand them.

Alchemy really thinks in the same way.

If the alchemist works rightly in his own way, then the result is bound to be right, with the grace of God.

And therefore he cooks his peculiar brew, because if he does it correctly, the right thing happens, outwardly as well as inwardly. ~Carl Jung, ETH, Lecture XVI, Pages 137-143.