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Friday, July 17, 2015

Carl Jung on “Nirdvandva” and “Liberation.”


My dear N., May 1956

My conceptions are empirical and not at all speculative.

If you understand them from a philosophical standpoint you go completely astray, since they are not rational but mere names of groups of irrational phenomena.

The conceptions of Indian philosophy however are thoroughly philosophical and have the character of postulates and can therefore only be analogous to my terms but not identical with them at all.

Take f.i. the concept of nirdvandva.

Nobody has ever been entirely liberated from the opposites, because no living being could possibly attain to such a state, as nobody escapes pain and pleasure as long as he functions physiologically.

He may have occasional ecstatic experiences when he gets the intuition of a complete liberation, f.i. in reaching the state of sat-chit-ananda.

But the word ananda shows that he experiences pleasure, and you cannot even be conscious of something if you don't discriminate between
opposites, and thus participate in them.

My psychology deals with modern man in Europe, who is practically beyond the belief in philosophical postulates.

They convey nothing to him anymore.

Whereas you are still a believer in orthodox philosophy; thus you can be compared to a staunch Christian, still convinced that he is redeemed through his Lord Jesus Christ, etc.

He believes in postulates.

It is quite obvious that such a man would neither have any use for a psychology of the unconscious nor would he understand such a psychology at all.

He cannot imagine himself in the role of an unbeliever, moreover if he seriously tried to, he might get into a panic as he would feel the ground subsiding under his feet.

He cannot admit or imagine that the idea of redemption through Christ's self-sacrifice could be an illusion, or at least a mere postulate of religious speculation, as you yourself would not dream of disbelieving the existence of the atman, or the reality of
jivan-mukti, Samadhi etc.

This is in contradiction to the fact that a complete liberation from the opposites cannot be attained through jivan-mukti, the latter being a mere postulate and-as I told you above-not to be experienced in its totality.

Modern man in Europe has lost or given up-getting tired of them -his traditional beliefs- and has to find out for himself what is going
to happen to him in his impoverished state.

Analytical psychology tells you the story of his adventures.

Only if you are able to see the relativity, i.e., the uncertainty of all human postulates, can you experience that state in which analytical psychology makes sense.

But analytical psychology just makes no sense for you.

Nothing of the things I describe comes to life unless you can accompany or sympathize understandingly with beings that are forced to base their
life upon facts to be experienced and not upon transcendental postulates beyond human experience.

Thus, inasmuch as you are a believer in postulates, you have no use for my psychology and you are not even able to understand why we shouldn't simply adopt Indian philosophy if we are dissatisfied with our religious philosophy.

In other words, why study analytical psychology at all?

It cannot make sense to you as it does not make sense to a Christian or any other believer.

On the contrary the believer will translate the psychological terms into his metaphysical language.

The Christian f.i. will call the self Christ and will not understand why I call the central symbol "self."

He will not see why we need to know about the unconscious from A to Z, exactly like the Indian way.

He is like you in possession of the Truth, while we psychologists are merely in search of something like the truth and our only source of information is the unconscious and its mythological products like archetypes, etc.

We have no traditional beliefs or philosophical postulates . ( . . . ) Analytical psychology is an empirical science and ( . . . ) individuation is an empirical process and not a way of initiation at all.

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 302-304.