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Carl Jung: The Nature of Mind…
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Psychology and Religion: West and East (The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Volume 11)

The Nature of Mind:

This section contains a valuable piece of psychological information.

The text says: “The mind is of intuitive (“quick-knowing”) Wisdom.”

Here “mind” is understood to be identical with immediate awareness of the “first impression” which conveys the whole sum of previous experience based upon instinctual patterns.

This bears out our remarks about the essentially introverted prejudice of the East.

The formula also draws attention to the highly differentiated character of Eastern intuition.

The intuitive mind is noted for its disregard of facts in favor of possibilities.

The assertion that the Mind “has no existence” obviously refers to the peculiar “potentiality” of the unconscious.

A thing seems to exist only to the degree that we are aware of it, which explains why so many people are disinclined to believe in the existence of an unconscious.

When I tell a patient that he is chock full of fantasies, he is often astonished beyond all measure, having been completely unaware of the fantasy-life he was leading.

The Names Given to the Mind:

The various terms employed to express a “difficult” or “obscure” idea are a valuable source of information about the ways in which that idea can be interpreted, and at the same time an indication of its doubtful or controversial nature even in the country, religion, or philosophy to which it is indigenous.

If the idea were perfectly straightforward and enjoyed general acceptance, there would be no reason to call it by a number of different names.

But when something is little known, or ambiguous, it can be envisaged from different angles, and then a multiplicity of names is needed to express its peculiar nature.

A classical example of this is the philosophers’ stone; many of the old alchemical treatises give long lists of its names*

The statement that “the various names given to it [the Mind] are innumerable” proves that the Mind must be something as vague and indefinite as the philosophers’ stone.

A substance that can be described in “innumerable” ways must be expected to display as many qualities or facets.

If these are really “innumerable” they cannot be counted, and it follows that the substance is well-nigh indescribable and unknowable.

It can never be realized completely.

This is certainly true of the unconscious, and a further proof that the Mind is the Eastern equivalent of our concept of the unconscious, more particularly of the collective unconscious.

In keeping with this hypothesis, the text goes on to say that the Mind is also called the “Mental Self.”

The “self” is an important concept in analytical psychology, where much has been said that I need not repeat here.

I would refer the interested reader to the literature given below.

Although the symbols of the “self” are produced by unconscious activity and are mostly manifested in dreams, the facts which the idea covers are not merely mental; they include aspects of physical existence as well.

In this and other Eastern texts the “Self” represents a purely spiritual idea, but in Western psychology the “self” stands for a totality which comprises instincts, physiological and semi-physiological phenomena.

To us a purely spiritual totality is inconceivable for the reasons mentioned above.

It is interesting to note that in the East, too, there are “heretics” who identify the Self with the ego.

With us this heresy is pretty widespread and is subscribed to by all those who firmly believe that ego-consciousness is the only form of psychic life.

The Mind as “the means of attaining the Other Shore” points to a connection between the transcendent function and the idea of the Mind or Self.

Since the unknowable substance of the Mind, i.e., of the unconscious, always represents itself to consciousness in the form of symbols the self being one such symbol the symbol functions as a “means of attaining the Other Shore,” in other words, as a means of transformation.

In my essay on psychic energy I said that the symbol acts as a transformer of energy.

My interpretation of the Mind or Self as a symbol is not arbitrary; the text itself calls it “The Great Symbol.” ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Commentary to the Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, Paragraphs 804-812.