Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Rebirth is not a process that we can in any way observe.

We can neither measure nor weigh nor photograph it. It is entirely beyond sense perception.

We have to do here with a purely psychic reality, which is transmitted to us only indirectly through personal statements.

One speaks of rebirth; one professes rebirth; one is filled with rebirth. This we accept as sufficiently real.

We are not concerned here with the question: is rebirth a tangible process of some sort? We have to be content with its psychic reality.

I hasten to add that I am not alluding to the vulgar notion that anything “psychic” is either nothing at all or at best even more tenuous than a gas.

Quite the contrary; I am of the opinion that the psyche is the most tremendous fact of human life.

Indeed, it is the mother of all human facts; of civilization and of its destroyer, war. All this is at first psychic and invisible.

So long as it is “merely” psychic it cannot be experienced by the senses, but is nonetheless indisputably real.

The mere fact that people talk about rebirth, and that there is such a concept at all, means that a store of psychic experiences designated by that term must actually exist.

What these experiences are like we can only infer from the statements that have been made about them.

So, if we want to find out what rebirth really is, we must turn to history in order to ascertain what “rebirth” has been understood to mean.

Rebirth is an affirmation that must be counted among the primordial affirmations of mankind.

These primordial affirmations are based on what I call archetypes.

In view of the fact that all affirmations relating to the sphere of the suprasensual are, in the last analysis, invariably determined by archetypes, it is not surprising that a concurrence of affirmations concerning rebirth can be found among the most widely differing peoples.

There must be psychic events underlying these affirmations which it is the business of psychology to discuss-without entering into all the metaphysical and philosophical assumptions regarding their significance. In order to obtain a general view of their phenomenology, it is necessary to sketch the whole field of transformation experiences in sharper outline.

Two main groups of experience may be distinguished: that of the transcendence of life, and that of one’s own transformation. ~Carl Jung, CW 9i, Para 205-206