Is Analytical Psychology a Religion?


Is Analytical Psychology a Religion?

After speaking at the Harvard Tercentenary Conference Jung spent a week at Bailey Island, Maine, giving the first half of a seminar on “Dream Symbols of the Individuation Process,” based on his 1935 Eranos lecture.

Afterward, Jung traveled to New York City for another week of consultations and lecturing, and he sailed for England on October 3.

After speaking at the Harvard Tercentenary Conference Jung spent a week at Bailey Island, Maine, giving the first half of a seminar on “Dream Symbols of the Individuation Process,” based on his 1935 Eranos lecture.

Afterward, Jung traveled to New York City for another week of consultations and lecturing, and he sailed for England on October 3.

The previous evening, during a farewell supper party, Jung talked extemporaneously.

Several members of the audience took notes, which were compiled by Eleanor Bertine, Esther Harding, and lane A. Pratt for restricted circulation among the members of the group.

Finally in Spring 1972 the notes were published, as edited by Mrs. Pratt, who included the following introductory comment:

“Few who were there will ever forget the circumstances under which Jung spoke that evening. Immediately preceding the supper with his friends, Jung had given a large public lecture in the ballroom of the Plaza Hotel.

This lecture, entitled ‘The Concept of the Collective Unconscious,’ was difficult, and dealt with controversial ideas crucial to the understanding of his work.

All of Jung’s most prominent New York supporters and detractors had come to hear it.

But the occasion was not propitious.

The lecture (at that time) required slides, a lot of them, and an enthusiastic follower had volunteered to project them, but either this man’s skills were insufficient, or the slides were possessed.

They came on upside down or reversed, and fell on the floor when he attempted to right them.

If Jung wanted to see one again, they moved forward, if he said to go on, they went back.

So Jung stood, pointer in hand, on a raised platform before his huge audience, either waiting for the right pictures to appear, or hurrying to comment intelligibly upon them before they passed on.

Meanwhile his adherents suffered. Reacting at first with great consideration to the awkwardness of his assistant, his remarks became sharper by shades-since negative feelings will out and the suffering of the adherents increased.

Yet that misfortunate lecture ended without anything basically human being destroyed-not even Jung’s relation to the assistant, who admitted the justice of a certain irritation.

Only the muddle and all the interruptions had completely destroyed the continuity of Jung’s important argument. Later he was reported to have told someone:

‘I was analyzed tonight, if never before.’ In place of the impressive exposition that he planned,

Jung had given a small demonstration. Conceivably this may have influenced the content of what he said later”-as follows:

I hardly know what to say to you tonight. I have talked so much, twice already this evening.

I do not know what more there is. I can only hope that something will come to me that I can give you.

Many people have asked me, and doubtless asked you too, whether analytical psychology is not really a religion.

Also, in connection with the subject of my Yale lectures, as well as that of the Seminar, I have had to give a great deal of attention lately to the relation of psychology to religion. So now at the end of the Seminar I would like to speak to you about this question.

The activation of the unconscious is a phenomenon peculiar to our day. All through the Middle Ages people’s psychology was entirely different from what it is now; they had no realization of anything outside of consciousness. Even the psychological science of the eighteenth century completely identified the psyche with consciousness.

If you had a kind of X-ray by means of which you could observe the state of the unconscious in a man of two or three hundred years ago and compare it with that in a modern man, you would see an enormous difference.

In the first man it would be quiescent; in the modern man, tremendously aroused and active. Formerly men did not even feel that they had a psychology as we do now.

The unconscious was contained and held dormant in Christian theology.

The Weltanschauung that resulted was universal, absolutely uniform-without room for doubt.

Man had begun at a definite point, with the Creation; everyone knew all about it.

But today archetypal contents, formerly taken care of satisfactorily by the explanations of the Church, have come loose from their projections and are troubling modern people.

Questions as to where we are going, and why, are asked on every side.

The psychic energy associated with these contents is stirring as never before; we cannot remain unconscious of it.

Whole layers of the psyche are coming to light for the first time.

That is why we have so many flourishing “isms.”

Much of this energy goes into science, to be sure; but science is new, its tradition is recent and does not satisfy archetypal needs.

The present psychological situation is unprecedented; from the point of view of all previous experience, it is abnormal.

As a result, men have begun to be aware that they have a psychology.

A man from the past would have no understanding of what we mean when we say that something is going on in our heads.

Nothing like that happened to him. Had he felt such a thing he would have thought himself crazy.

Men used to say: “I feel something move in my heart”-or, before that, they felt it lower down in the stomach.

They were aware only of thoughts that moved the diaphragm or the guts.

The Greek word phren, meaning “spirit,” is the root of the word “diaphragm.”

When people began to feel things moving in their heads they were afraid, and they vent to the doctors, for they knew something was wrong.

It was from the doctors that this new kind of psychology came.

So it is a somewhat pathological psychology.

Latency is probably the best condition for the unconscious.

But life has gone out of the churches, and it will never go back.

The gods will not reinvest dwellings that once they have left.

The same thing happened before, in the time of the Roman Caesars, when paganism was dying.

According to legend, the captain of a ship passing between two Greek islands heard a great sound of lamentation and a loud voice crying: Pan ho megas tethneken,

Great Pan is dead.

When this man reached Rome he demanded an audience with the emperor, so important was his news.

Originally Pan was an unimportant nature spirit, chiefly occupied with teasing shepherds; but later, as the Romans became more involved with Greek culture, Pan was confused with to pan, meaning “the All.”

He became the demiurgos, the anima mundi. Thus the many gods of paganism were concentrated into one God.

Then came this message, “Pan is dead.” Great Pan, who is God, is dead. Only man remains alive.

After that the one God became one man, and this was Christ; one man for all.

But now that too is gone, now every man has to carry God. The descent of spirit into matter is complete.

Jesus, you know, was a boy born of an unmarried mother.

Such a boy is called illegitimate, and there is a prejudice which puts him at a great disadvantage.

He suffers from a terrible feeling of inferiority for which he is certain to have to compensate.

Hence the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, in which the kingdom was offered to him.

Here he met his worst enemy, the power devil; but he was able to see that, and to refuse.

He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

But “kingdom” it was, all the same. And you remember that strange incident, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

The utter failure came at the Crucifixion in the tragic words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

If you want to understand the full tragedy of those words you must realize what they meant: Christ saw that his whole life, devoted to the truth according to his best conviction, had been a terrible illusion. He had lived it to the full absolutely sincerely, he had made his honest experiment, but it was nevertheless a compensation.

On the Cross his mission deserted him.

But because he had lived so fully and devotedly he won through to the Resurrection body.

We all must do just what Christ did. We must make our experiment.

We must make mistakes.

We must live out our own vision of life.

And there will be error.

If you avoid error you do not live; in a sense even it may be said that every life is a mistake, for no one has found the truth.

When we live like this we know Christ as a brother, and God indeed becomes man.

This sounds like a terrible blasphemy, but not so.

For then only can we understand Christ as he would want to be understood, as a fellow man; then only does God become man in ourselves.

This sounds like religion, but it is not. I am speaking just as a philosopher.

People sometimes call me a religious leader. I am not that.

I have no message, no mission; I attempt only to understand.

We are philosophers in the old sense of the word, lovers of wisdom.

That avoids the sometimes questionable company of those who offer a religion.

And so the last thing I would say to each of you, my friends, is: Carry through your life as well as you can, even if it is based on error, because life has to be undone, and one often gets to truth through error.

Then, like Christ, you will have accomplished your experiment.

So, be human, seek understanding, seek insight, and make your hypothesis, your philosophy of life.

Then we may recognize the Spirit alive in the unconscious of every individual.

Then we become brothers of Christ.