Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.9 Part 2)
The God Image is not in the Body but in the Mind. ~Carl Jung
As Christ is in us, so also is his heavenly kingdom.
These few, familiar references should be sufficient to make the psychological position of the Christ symbol quite clear.
Christ exemplifies the archetype of the self. He represents a totality of a divine or heavenly kind, a glorified man, a son of God unspotted by sin.
As Adam Secundus he corresponds to the first Adam before the Fall, when the latter was still a pure image of God, of which Tertullian (d. 222) says:
“And this therefore is to be considered as the image of God in man, that the human spirit has the same motions and senses as God has, though not in the same way as God has them.”
Origen (185-254) is very much more explicit:
The imago Dei imprinted on the soul, not on the body, is an image of an image, “for my soul is not directly the image of God, but is made after the likeness of the former image.”
Christ, on the other hand, is the true image of God, after whose likeness our inner man is made, invisible, incorporeal, incorrupt, and immortal. The God image in us reveals itself through ” prudence, justice, moderation, virtue, wisdom, and the teaching of discipline.”
St. Augustine (354-430) distinguishes between the God image which is Christ and the image which is implanted in man as a means or possibility of becoming like God.
The God image is not in the corporeal man, but in the anima rationalis, the possession of which distinguishes man from animals. “The God-image is within, not in the body. . . . Where the understanding is, where the mind is, where the power of investigating truth is, there God has his image.”
Therefore we should remind ourselves, says Augustine, that we are fashioned after the image of God nowhere save in the understanding: “. . . but where man knows himself to be made after the image of God, there he knows there Is something more in him than is given to the beasts”
From this it is clear that the God-image is, so to speak, identical with the anima rationalis. The latter Is the higher spiritual man, of St Paul.
Like Adam before the Fall, Christ is an embodiment of the God image, whose totality is specially emphasized by St. Augustine.
“The Word,” he says, “took on complete manhood, as it were in its fullness: the soul and body of a man. And if you would have me put it more exactly since even a beast of the field has a ‘soul’ and a body when I say a human soul and human flesh, I mean he took upon him a complete human soul.”
The God-image in man was not destroyed by the Fall but was only damaged and corrupted (“deformed”), and can be
restored through God’s grace. The scope of the integration is suggested by the descent of Christ’s soul to hell, its work of redemption embracing even the dead.
The psychological equivalent of this is the integration of the collective unconscious which forms an essential part of the individuation process.
St. Augustine says: “Therefore our end must be our perfection, but our perfection is Christ,” since he is the perfect God-image. For this reason he is also called “King.”
His bride is the human soul, which “in an inwardly hidden spiritual mystery is joined to the Word, that two may be in one
flesh,” to correspond with the mystic marriage of Christ and the Church.
Concurrently with the continuance of this hieros gamos in the dogma and rites of the Church, the symbolism developed in the course of the Middle Ages into the alchemical conjunction of opposites, thus giving rise on the one hand to the concept of the lapis philosophorum, signifying totality, and on the other hand to the concept of chemical combination.
The God-image in man that was damaged by the first sin can be “reformed” with the help of God, in accordance with
Romans 12 : 2: “And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is … the will of God” (RSV).
The totality images which the unconscious produces in the course of an individuation process are similar “reformations” of an a priori archetype (the mandala).
As I have already emphasized, the spontaneous symbols of the self, or of wholeness, cannot in practice be distinguished from a God-image.
Despite the word (‘be transformed’) in the Greek text of the above quotation, the “renewal” of the mind is not meant as an actual alteration of consciousness, but rather as the restoration of an original condition, an apocatastasis.
This is in exact agreement with the empirical findings of psychology, that there is an ever-present archetype of wholeness which may easily disappear from the purview of consciousness or may never be perceived at all until a consciousness illuminated by conversion recognizes it in the figure of Christ.
As a result of this “anamnesis” the original state of oneness with the God-image is restored. It brings about an integration, a bridging of the split in the personality caused by the instincts striving apart in different and mutually contradictory directions.
The only time the split Lord Jesus Christ does not occur is when a person is still as legitimately unconscious of his instinctual life as an animal. But it proves harmful and impossible to endure when an artificial unconsciousness a repression no longer reflects the life of the instincts.
There can be no doubt that the original Christian conception of the imago Dei embodied in Christ meant an all embracing
totality that even includes the animal side of man.
Nevertheless the Christ-symbol lacks wholeness in the modern psychological sense, since it does not include the dark side of things but specifically excludes it in the form of a Luciferian opponent.
Although the exclusion of the power of evil was something the Christian consciousness was well aware of, all it lost in effect was an insubstantial shadow, for, through the doctrine of the privatio boni first propounded by Origen, evil was characterized as a mere diminution of good and thus deprived of substance.
According to the teachings of the Church, evil is simply “the accidental lack of perfection.” This assumption resulted in the proposition “All good is from God, All the evil of the man.” Another logical consequence was the subsequent elimination of the devil in certain Protestant sects. ~Carl Jung, Aion, Christ, A Symbol of the Self, Pages 37-40.
Image: Mandala on floor of the Chartre Cathedral.