July 22nd, 2019

To Carl Jung, the characters, events, and narratives described in the Bible and other primary source material such as Greek Mythology serve an Archetypal function.

Archetypal images are more than historical occurrences, but serve as templates that drive subsequent patterns, functioning like D.N.A. prototypes for complex schemas that are hard-wired into creation.

Archetypal forces predict or even determine downstream chain-reactions whereby history unravels according to its archetypal source.

This doesn’t preclude free-choice, but rather empowers the forces unleashed by those choices.

According to this school of thought, primary-source events are neither fleeting nor confined by the passage of time, but continue to re-assert their presence in contemporary schemas.

Archetypal forces transcend but resemble our personal genetic templates at a universal level.

Trauma would serve as an example of how a personal historical event becomes memorized, influencing how subsequent perceptions, cognitions, and behavioral responses are re-enacted.

According to Carl Jung, the individual psyche is not just a product of personal experience. It also has a pre-personal or transpersonal dimension manifest in universal patterns and images found in all of the world’s religions and mythologies.

For Jung, the “Self” represented a central archetype, one of wholeness, with an ordering principle, a supreme psychic authority, the seat of a collective, objective identity, which he described as the inner empirical deity, or Imago Dei (Jung, C.G., Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Collective Works, Volume 9 pg. 1-147).

In contrast, the ego emerges as the evolving center of the conscious personality. Since the child experiences himself quite literally as the center of the universe. However, this inflation begins to dissolve as it encounters outer reality. As the world necessarily rejects the child`s unrealistic inflation, alienation begins.

Henceforth, a balance needs to be maintained between ego and Self: Alienation is experienced by the emerging ego`s realization that he is not the deity that he thought he was. Periodic reunion between the ego and Self is vital to prevent a state of permanent alienation from the unifying collective Self.

The ego-Self axis reflects the co-existent tension and necessary connection between the differentiated ego and its roots in the unconscious.

To Jung, this Archetypal dichotomy of Ego and Self, in union (inflation) and separation (alienation), is symbolized in the drama of man`s exile from Paradise, paralleled by the Old Testament and in the Greek Mythology of Prometheus.

According to the Jungian analyst Edward Edinger, the central aim of all religious practices is to keep the individual (ego) related to the Deity (Self), (Ego and Archetype, Shambhala Publications, 1972).

“All religions are repositories of transpersonal experience and Archetypal images. Religious ceremonies of all kinds provide the individual with the experience of being related meaningfully to these to these transpersonal categories. It is doubtful if collective human life can survive without some common shared sense of awareness of these transpersonal categories. Religion is the best collective protection available against both inflation and alienation.”

But Edinger warns that once religion loses it’s to carry the projection of the collective Self, we have the condition which Nietzsche announced for the modern world, as “G-d is dead!”

As a result of this loss of repository function, the containing function is lost, and this psychic energy flows back to the individual.

The fact is, that large numbers of individuals living in Western society no longer have a container for suprapersonal categories or archetypes by which they can understand life experience.

This is a dangerous state of affairs because when such categories do not exist, the ego is likely to think of itself as everything (inflated) or nothing (alienated).

Without religions sharing collective projections joined harmoniously and regulated through shared symbolism, mythology and rites, inflation ensues, resulting in racial, political, or religious fanaticism.

According to Edinger, this malady, is a modern phenomenon, which would not have occurred but for the breakdown of shared transpersonal values previously contained by traditional collective values and tradition.


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