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Carl Jung: Gnostic Fragments

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Portable Jung

Gnostic Quotations involving Gnosticism by Carl Jung:

Further, according to an early Christian-Gnostic idea, the spirit which appeared in the form of a dove was interpreted as Sophia-Sapientia—Wisdom and the Mother of Christ. Thanks to this motif of the dual birth, children today, instead of having good and evil fairies who magically ”adopt” them at birth with blessings or curses, are given sponsors—a ”godfather” and a ”godmother.” Carl Jung, The Portable Jung; Page 63.

The doctrine that all evil thoughts come from the heart and that the human soul is a sink of iniquity must lie deep in the marrow of their bones. Were that so, then God had made a sorry job of creation, and it were high time for us to go over to Marcion the Gnostic and depose the incompetent Demiurge. Ethically, of course, it is infinitely more convenient to leave God the sole responsibility for such a Home tor Idiot Children, where no one is capable of putting a spoon into his own mouth. But it is worth man’s while to take pains with himself, and he has something in his soul that can grow. It is rewarding to watch the silent happenings in the soul, and the most and the best happens when it is not regulated from outside and from above. I readily admit that I have such a great respect for what happens in the human soul that I would be afraid of disturbing and distorting the silent operation of nature by clumsy interference. Carl Jung, The Portable Jung; Pages 362-363.

Therefore the center of the circle which expresses such a totality would correspond not to the ego but to the self as the summation of the total personality. (The center with a circle is a very well-known allegory of the nature of God.) In the philosophy of the Upanishads the Self is in one aspect the personal atman, but at the same time it has a cosmic and metaphysical quality as the suprapersonal Atman. We meet with similar ideas in Gnosticism: I would mention the idea of the Anthropos, the Pleroma, the Monad, and the spark of light (Spinther) in a treatise of the Codex Brucianus:

This same is he [Monogenes] who dwelleth in the Monad, which is in the Setheus, and which came from the place of which none can say where it is. . . . From Him it is the Monad came, in the manner of a ship, laden with all good things, and in the manner of a field, filled or planted with every kind of tree, and in the manner of a city, filled with all races of mankind. . . . This is the fashion of the Monad, all these being in it: there are twelve Monads as a crown upon its head. . . . And to its veil which surroundeth it in the manner of a defense. there are twelve gates. . . . I his same is the Mother-City-begotten. Carl Jung, The Portable Jung, Page 367.

In alchemical literature this prophetess is taken to be Maria Prophetissa, also called the Jewess, sister of Moses, or the Copt, and it is not unlikely that she is connected with the Maria of Gnostic tradition. Epiphanius testifies to the existence of writings by this Maria, namely the ”Interrogationes magnae” and ”Interrogationes parvae,” said to describe a vision of how Christ, on a mountain, caused a woman to come forth from his side and how he mingled himself with her. Carl Jung, The Portable Jung, Page 406.

So the union of the two is a kind of self-fertilization, a characteristic always ascribed to the mercurial dragon. From these hints it can easily be seen who the philosophical man is: he is the androgynous original man or Anthropos of Gnos􀢢cism, close parallel in India is purusha. Of him the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says: ”He was as large as a man and woman embracing. He divided his self [Atman] in two, and thence arose husband and wife. He united himself with her and men were born,” etc. The common origin of these ideas lies in the primitive notion of the bisexual original man. Carl Jung, The Portable Jung, Pages 407-408.

The Son of Man is an anticipation of the idea of the self: hence the Gnostic adulteration oi Christ with the other synonyms for the self among the Naassenes, recorded by Hippolytus. The also a connection with the symbolism of Horus: on the one hand, Christ enthroned with the four emblems o\ the evangelists—three animals and an angel; on the other. Father Horus with his four sons, or Osiris with the four sons of Horus. Horus is also the rising sun and Christ was still worshiped as such by the early Christians. Carl Jung, The Portable Jung, Page 443.

That there is a general interest in these matters a denied, however much it offends against good taste. I am not thinking merely of the interest taken in psychology a science, or of the still narrower interest in the analysis of Freud, but of the widespread and every interest in all sorts of psychic phenomena, including spiritualism, astrology, Theosophy, parapsychology, and so forth. The world has seen nothing like it since the end of the seventeenth century. We can compare it only to the flowering of Gnostic thought in the first and second centuries after Christ. The spiritual currents of our time have, in a deep affinity with Gnosticism. There is even an ”eglise gnostique de la France,” and I know o( two schools in Germany which openly declare themselves Gnostic. The most impressive movement numerically is undoubtedly Theosophy, together with its continental sister, Anthroposophy; these are pure Gnosticism in Hindu dress. Compared with them the interest in scientific psychology is negligible. What is striking about these Gnostic systems is that they are based exclusively on the manifestations of the unconscious, and that their moral teachings penetrate into the dark side of life, as is clear!) shown by the refurbished European version of Kundalini-yoga. The same is true of parapsychology, as everyone acquainted with it will agree. Carl Jung, The Portable Jung, Page 467.

Modern man, in contrast to his nineteenth-century brother, turns to the psyche with very great expectations, and does so without reference to any traditional creed but rather with a view to Gnostic experience. The fact that all the movements I have mentioned give themselves a scientific veneer is not just a grotesque caricature or a masquerade, but a positive sign that they are actually pursuing ”science,” i.e., knowledge, instead of faith, which is the essence of the Western forms of religion. Modern man abhors faith and the religions based upon it. He holds them valid only so far as their knowledge-content seems to accord with his own experience of the psychic background. He wants to know —to experience for himself. Carl Jung, The Portable Jung, Pages 467-468.

We find in Gnosticism what was lacking in the centuries that followed: a belief in the efficacy of individual revelation and individual knowledge. This belief was rooted in the proud feeling of man’s affinity with the gods. Carl Jung, Psychological Types, Page 242.

At the Reformation two things happened which upset the absolute attitude of that day: (a) Crucifixes were found in Mexico, which undermined the belief in the uniqueness of the Christian religion where the crucifixion was the central teaching, (b) The rediscovery of Gnosticism, the Dionysian myth and so forth, which showed that teachings similar to Christianity had been prevalent before the birth of Christ. Carl Jung; Cornwall Seminar; Page 15.

A woman is oriented towards the animus because it is the son of the unknown father, the Old Sage, whom she never comes to know. This motive is hinted at in the Gnostic texts where Sophia in her madness loves the Great Father On the other hand a man does not know the mother of the anima. She may be personified, for example, in Sophia or the seven times veiled Isis. Carl Jung, Conversations with C.G. Jung, Page 30.

This process of becoming human is represented in dreams and inner images as the putting together of many scattered units, and sometimes as the gradual emergence and clarification of something that was always there. The speculations of alchemy, and also of some Gnostics, revolve around this process. It is likewise expressed in Christian Dogma, and more particularly in the transformation mystery of the Mass. Carl Jung; “Transformation Symbolism in the Mass”; CW 11, par. 399.

I . . . have the feeling that this is a time full of marvels, and, if the auguries do not deceive us, it may very well be that . . . we are on the threshold of something really sensational, which I scarcely know how to describe except with the Gnostic concept of [Sophia], an Alexandrian term particularly suited to the reincarnation of ancient wisdom in the shape of ΨA. Carl Jung, The Freud/Jung Letters, Page 439.