Zarathustra Seminars

[Carl Jung on Purusha and Christ]

Prof Jung: You are quite right, he [Zarathustra] is not the Purusha of the Upanishads.

The Purusha is also a world creator like Prajapati, and he is a collateral concept like the Atman.

Of course one can say there is all the difference in the world between the concept of the Purusha and the concept of the Atman, but there again one sees, from the way the Indians themselves handle this concept, that the Atman and Prajapati and the Purusha are practically the same.

For our purposes there is no point in insisting upon the different aspects or shades of meaning of that concept; it is what we would call in psychology “the self”-namely, the totality of the conscious and the unconscious.

The Purusha is a psychic fact, not only a psychological concept; the self is not a psychical fact, but an archetypal fact, an experience.

It is the same as the idea of Christ in the Middle Ages, or the idea Christ had of himself and his disciples when he said, “I am the vine and ye are the grapes.”

Or the same as that early iconographic representation of Christ as the zodiacal serpent carrying the twelve constellations, the signs of the zodiac, representing the twelve disciples; or carrying the twelve disciples each with a star over his head.

Those are old representations, meaning the path of the zodiacal constellations through the year, with Christ as the way of the serpent or the way of the zodiac.

Christ represents the Christian year containing his twelve disciples, as the zodiacal serpent contains the twelve constellations of the zodiac.

He is the individual, the self, containing a group of twelve that makes the whole.

Therefore, the representation of Christ in the form of Rex Gloriae, the king of glory, surrounded by the four evangelists, forming a mandala.

The medieval mandalas always represented Christ in that form Christ on the throne in the center, and in the four corners the evangelists-the angel, the ox, the lion, and the eagle.

That even became a beloved ornamentation in the 12th and 13th centuries; one sees it frequently on the doors of cathedrals or as an illustration in books.

And that again means the great individual, the great self-containing the others-they are just parts-which is exactly the idea of the universe being the homo Maximus, everybody having his specific place in that great man.

The learned people are in the head, and soldiers and men of action are in the arms, and heaven and hell are also contained in the homo Maximus.

So at the source of Schopenhauer’s philosophy lies that age-old idea.

Of course the idea in itself doesn’t occur in Schopenhauer, but the psychology of the Upanishads by which he was affected, is coupled with that idea.

The Hiranyagarbha, the so-called golden germ, or the golden egg, or the golden child, is another form of Prajapati.

Prajapati was making tapas, brooding over himself, hatching himself out, and he became the Hiranyagarbha, the grain of gold, the golden child, which is again the symbol of the self.”

This is, one could say, the homo minimus, the smallest form-that is, the germ of the homo maximus in every individual.

One finds this kind of development of symbolism also in Egypt: Osiris was originally the immortal part of the king; then later on, of the noble or wealthy people; and then in the time just before Christianity, Osiris began to descend into the heart of everyone: everyone had an immortal or a divine soul.

And the idea of that great self-born or being contained in everybody became an essential truth of Christianity; Christ was eaten by everybody.

They ate and drank him in Holy Communion.

Thus they were impregnated with Christ; Christ lived in them. That was the Osiris which comes to life in everybody.

Osiris was also represented as wheat growing up from his coffin; it was his resurrection in the form of wheat.

And Christ is the wheat; therefore the host has to consist of flour of wheat made from the grain which grows out of the ground.

There was the same idea in the Eleusinian mysteries long before Christ appeared: in the epopteia the priest showed the ear of wheat as the son of the earth, with the announcement that the earth had brought forth the son, the filius.

That was an Evangel almost like the Christian Evangel, and it was connected with the hope of eternal life after death-the mysteries of Eleusis instilled that great hope.

You see, it is exactly like the idea of the Holy Communion, the bread and the wine being Christ.

So Christ impregnates everybody: he creates a germ in everybody that is the great self.

Christianity is another source of Nietzsche’s ideas of course, but since he did not criticize his own thought, he never discovered it.

His idea was that he was preaching a truth entirely different from any other.

This is the same infernal mistake the church made, not in the time of Christ but later, when they got hold of the Christian message the idea that the god had descended upon earth for the first time, that it was a new truth which had never existed before.

We are still handicapped by that belief.

Theology tries to make it appear that nobody ever had such ideas before, when, as a matter of fact, these ideas were known all over the world; but they have a tremendous resistance against such parallels; they find them awkward.

The Catholic church is a bit more intelligent in that respect.

They call any historical parallel an anticipation; they say that God has shown the truth time and again in the past, not only in the Old Testament but also in pagan religions in
the Isis and Osiris myth for instance.

Since only fools could deny that analogy, the Catholic church admits it and says that God permitted the anticipation of the truth which was to come, that in a sort of indistinct, incorrect way they perceived the ultimate truth: God becoming man, God being born from the Virgin, the sacrifice, and the role of the savior.

So even Nietzsche’s idea of the Superman is nothing new, but an age-old symbolism, and therefore I think we are quite justified in reducing this idea to its historical source.

He had ample material for handling his idea from the Christian side on account of his family; and the philosophical background is also well established since he was a great admirer of Schopenhauer and very much influenced by him.

These ideas had gone into him and the ultimate result was that he produced a mystery teaching very much like the mystery teachings I have mentioned, either the Purusha mystery in the East, or the savior mystery in the Hellenistic syncretism which includes the savior mystery in Christianity.

And he uses the same kind of phantasmagoria: the ultimate fire, for instance, that will devour the chaff, destroy the people who are not ready to receive the savior and accept the message; and the inspiration and transubstantiation, as it were, of those who receive the tongues of fire from the Holy Ghost.

They will announce and continue the message.

He calls that the great noontide.

You see, that is the day of judgment, with the great sun of justice, where there will be no night any longer.

And there will be no pain, because all the evildoers will be roasting in hell or burned up, and the world with its errors and imperfections will have come to an end.

That is the good old Christian idea of ultimate redemption with all the paraphernalia of the Apocalypse.

You see, the fire symbolism has that aspect too: when a fire breaks out in a house, panic is next door and panic is insanity.

One sees that in practical cases when people have funny ideas and get too emotional about them, in the fear that something might happen to their reason.

If you can keep them from getting into a real panic, you can often save them.

For when you see how insanity starts, the stages through which people pass before they become insane, you realize that it is always panic which drives them really crazy.

As long as they can look on without being too emotional about it, they are saved; it is panic that gets people into such abnormal states.

So the fire here is a great revelation, but of a very different nature: it is the revelation of insanity. Carl Jung, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Pages 1383-1386.