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Psychology and Religion

I would not under any circumstances like it to be understood that I am making any recommendations or offering any advice.

But when one begins to talk about Zen in the West I consider it my duty to show the European where our entrance lies to that “longest road” which leads to satori, and what kind of difficulties bestrew the path which only a few of our great ones have trod—beacons, perhaps, on high mountains, shining out into the dim future.

It would be a disastrous mistake to assume that satori or samadhi are to be met with anywhere below these heights.

As an experience of totality it cannot be anything cheaper or smaller than the whole.

What this means psychologically can be seen from the simple reflection that consciousness is always only a part of the psyche and therefore never capable of psychic wholeness: for that the indefinite extension of the unconscious is needed.

But the unconscious can neither be caught with clever formulas nor exorcized by means of scientific dogmas, for something of destiny clings to it—indeed, it is sometimes destiny itself, as Faust and Zarathustra show all too clearly.

The attainment of wholenesss requires one to stake one’s whole being. Nothing less will do; there can be no easier conditions, no substitutes, no compromises.

Considering that both Faust and Zarathustra, despite the highest recognition, stand on the border-line of what is comprehensible to the European, one could hardly expect the educated public, which has only just begun to hear about the obscure world of the psyche, to form any adequate conception of the spiritual state of a man caught in the toils of the individuation process—which is my term for “becoming whole.”

People then drag out the vocabulary of pathology and console themselves with the terminology of neurosis and psychosis, or else they whisper about the “creative secret.”

But what can a man “create” if he doesn’t happen to be a poet?

This misunderstanding has caused not a few persons in recent times to call themselves—by their own grace—”artists,” just as if art had nothing to do with ability.

But if you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself.

Zen shows how much “becoming whole” means to the East.

Preoccupation with the riddles of Zen may perhaps stiffen the spine of the faint-hearted European or provide a pair of spectacles for his psychic myopia, so that from his “damned hole in the wall” he may enjoy at least a glimpse of the world of psychic experience, which till now lay shrouded in fog.

No harm can be done, for those who are too frightened will be effectively protected from further corruption, as also from everything of significance, by the helpful idea of “auto-suggestion.”

I should like to warn the attentive and sympathetic reader, however, not to underestimate the spiritual depth of the East, or to assume that there is anything cheap and facile about Zen.

The assiduously cultivated credulity of the West in regard to Eastern thought is in this case a lesser danger, as in Zen there are fortunately none of those marvellously incomprehensible words that we find in Indian cults.

Neither does Zen play about with complicated hatha-yoga techniques, which delude the physiologically minded European into the false hope that the spirit can be obtained by just sitting and breathing.

On the contrary, Zen demands intelligence and will power, as do all greater things that want to become realities. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Pages 556-557.