[Carl Jung on Theosophy.]

The destructive quality of this thinking as well as its occasional and limited usefulness, hardly need further elucidation. But there still exists another form of negative thinking, which at first glance perhaps would scarcely be recognized as such.

I refer to the theosophy thinking which is to-day rapidly spreading in every quarter of the globe, presumably as a reaction phenomenon to the materialism of the epoch now receding. Theosophical thinking has an air that is not in the least reductive, since it exalts everything to transcendental and world-embracing ideas. A dream, for instance, is no longer a modest dream, but an experience upon another plane’. The hitherto inexplicable fact of telepathy is very simply explained by ‘vibrations ‘ which pass from one man to another.

An ordinary .nervous trouble is quite simply accounted for by -the fact that something has collided with the astral body. Certain anthropological peculiarities of the dwellers on the Atlantic seaboard are easily explained by the submerging of Atlantis, and so on. We have merely to open a theosophical book to be overwhelmed by the realization that everything is already explained, and that ‘ spiritual science ‘ has left no enigmas of life unsolved. But, fundamentally, this sort of thinking is just as negative as materialistic thinking.

When the latter conceives psychology as chemical changes taking place in the cell-ganglia, or as the extrusion and withdrawal of cell-processes, or as an internal secretion, in essence this is just as superstitious as theosophy. The only difference lies in the fact that materialism reduces all phenomena to our current physiological notions, while theosophy brings everything into the concepts of Indian metaphysics.

When we trace the dream to an overloaded stomach, the dream is not thereby explained, and when we explain telepathy as ‘vibrations’, we have said just as little. Since, what are ‘vibrations’? Not only are both methods of explanation quite impotent they are actually destructive, because by interposing their seeming explanations they withdraw interest from the problem, diverting it in the former case to the stomach, and in the latter to imaginary vibrations, thus preventing any serious investigation of the problem.

Either kind of thinking is both sterile and sterilizing. Their negative quality consists in this : it is a method of thought that is indescribably cheap ; there is a real poverty of productive and creative energy. It is a thinking taken in tow by other functions. ~Carl Jung, Psychological Types, General Description of Types, Page 445.


People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. They will practice Indian yoga and all its exercises, observe a strict regimen of diet, learn theosophy by heart, or mechanically repeat mystic text from the literature of the whole world – all because they cannot get on with themselves and have not slightest faith that anything useful could ever come out of their own souls. Thus the soul has been turned into a Nazareth Gradually from which nothing good can come. Therefore let us fetch it from the four corners of the earth – the more far-fetched and bizarre it is the better. ~ Carl Jung, CW 13, Page 99.

If one studies the occult with the wrong attitude one can get infected, for this whole field is full of metaphysical traps through which one can fall, disappear as into an oubliette, and became the astrologer, the theosophist, or the black magician. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar,  Page 72

If we now try to cover our nakedness with the gorgeous trappings of the East, as the theosophists do, we would be playing our own history false. A man does not sink down to beggary only to pose afterwards as an Indian potentate. It seems to me that it would be far better stoutly to avow our spiritual poverty, our symbol-lessness, instead of feigning a legacy to which we are not the legitimate heirs at all. We are, surely, the rightful heirs of Christian symbolism, but somehow we have squandered this heritage. We have let the house our fathers built fall into decay, and now we try to break into Oriental palaces that our fathers never knew. ~Carl Jung, CW 9i, Para 28

The usual mistake of Western man when faced with this problem of grasping the ideas of the East is like that of the student in Faust. Misled by the devil, he contemptuously turns his back on science and, carried away by Eastern occultism, takes over yoga practices word for word and becomes a pitiable imitator. (Theosophy is our best example of this.) ~~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 3

I don’t say that we should accept an Eastern philosophy. Many people do go in for Indian theosophy and such stuff, but I am an opponent of that because I know that for us it is not healthy. ~Carl Jung, Dream Analysis Seminar, Page 622.

Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the shadow and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. ~Carl Jung, CW 13, Page 335

Though it would be wrong to draw a parallel between Darmstadt and theosophy, it does seem to me that the same danger exists in both cases: of a new house being built on the old shaky foundations, and of new wine being poured into old bottles. Though the old damage is covered up, the new building does not stand firm. Man must after all be changed from within, otherwise he merely assimilates the new material to the old pattern. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Page 40

You are quite right in supposing that I reckon astrology among those movements which, like theosophy, etc., seek to assuage an irrational thirst for knowledge but actually lead it into a sidetrack. Astrology is knocking at the gates of our universities: a Tiibingen professor has switched over to astrology and a course on astrology was given at Cardiff University last year.  Astrology is not mere superstition but contains some psychological facts (like theosophy) which are of considerable importance. Astrology has actually nothing to do with the stars but is the 5000-year-old psychology of antiquity and the Middle Ages. Unfortunately I cannot explain or prove this to you

in a letter. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Page 56


Sometimes you express yourself ( in the MS ) as if my symbols and my text were a sort of confession or a belief. Thus it looks as if I were moving in the vicinity of theosophy. In America especially one blames me for my so-called mysticism. Since I don’t claim at all to be the happy proprietor of metaphysical truths, I should much prefer that you attribute to my symbols the same tentativeness which characterizes your explanatory attempt. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Page 290


I don’t feel happy about these things, since you merely fall into such experiences without being able to integrate them. The result is a sort of theosophy, but it is not a moral and mental acquisition . It is the eternally primitive man having experience of his ghost-land, but it is not an achievement of your cultural development.  ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Page 382.