Visions Seminars

In the Tibetan Book of the Dead, pages 186-187, is a reference to the eighty thousand species of mischievous sprites.

These seem to be blood relations to the imps mentioned in the last seminar, and to come into being under somewhat similar conditions to those of the visions.

That is perfectly true, they are surely such imps, elementals; they are soulless and insect-like and there are so many of them; all those innumerable spirits of Eastern imagination and metaphysics are impish beings, creations that are fragments only; they are personifications of the partial souls in man.

Our psyche is by no means a unit to begin with, it seems to be a collection of inherited units, probably fragments of the past, of former lives or of ancestral lives.

I will not enter into a discussion of the possible transmigration of souls, metempsychosis, because we have no proof of that in psychology, we have absolutely no scientific means of establishing or confirming any conviction about such matters.

We only know that in the psychology of the unconscious there are those possibilities.

Things do happen which could be explained by the reincarnation theory; such ideas would never have come into existence in the history of the world if there were not corresponding psychological facts which lead to such conclusions.

But those are mere hypothetical conclusions, attempts of man to explain certain peculiar facts, and the existence of such conclusions does not prove the actual existence of anything like the transmigration of souls.

The idea in Buddhism is that the human being develops very slowly through incarnations in many forms; Buddha himself experienced about five hundred seventy rebirths, living once as a grasshopper, another time as a plant, another as a monkey, and so on.

Even those ideas are by no means farfetched, they correspond to definite psychical experiences.

Therefore such a hypothesis exists, and also such a conclusion; certain psychological facts explain the existence of the theory.

But, as I said, the existence of the theory does not prove that there is such a thing in reality.

Therefore, speaking of these matters psychologically, we can only state the fact that there are such theories, but we cannot prove them because there are other facts just as conspicuous which prove that they are hardly possible.

For instance, we have the overwhelming fact that at death the human psyche is apparently just put out, it no longer exists; occasionally there are certain postmortem effects which seem to indicate otherwise, but they are so rare and so extraordinary that we are awestruck when we hear of them.

So we cannot say it is the rule that when a man dies he becomes a spirit; it is a great exception when a fact occurs which points to the immortality of the soul.

We have to take that exception into account too, but we have not enough evidence; cases where ghosts have been observed with any accuracy are exceedingly rare, and they do not prove the continuation of life after death, because the obvious facts all speak against it. ~Carl Jung, The Visons Seminar, Page 1180-1181