Reviewed Work(s): Projection and Re-Collection in Jungian Psychology by Marie-Louise von Franz; Review by: Jack Nidever
Source: The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Summer 1981), pp.34-39
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco
The sub-title of this book in English is “Reflections of the Soul” which is closer to the book’s original title in German (Spiegelungen der Seele. Stuttgart, Kreuz Verlag, 1978).
It is also closer to the author’s intention of giving us her perceptions of the mysterious act of consciousness in “mirroring the world.
II In the foreword, von Franz says that “projection” is easy to demonstrate clinically, but difficult to understand.
She has turned her attention here to some of the many unsolved problems that arise in trying to understand the process of projection.
In so doing, she has also pointed, through the demons of antiquity, to contemporary problems of a moral nature which follow from the process of projection.
With bold and forceful steps, the author has conceptualized spirit and matter as mirrorings of one another, and has described consciousness as a focus of sparks from the collective unconscious.
The book is stimulating in going to the core of psychotherapeutic work, and invites a response from psychotherapists in general and from Jungian analysts in particular.
Remembering Dr. von Franz’s voice from student days at Zurich, I can hear her impatiently dismiss my admiration with modest disclaimers about herself and an emphasis instead on what Jung said.
Considering the thirty-one years she worked for and with C. G. Jung as Latin scholar, editor, client, collaborator and friend, one can understand her deference.
Apart from Jung1s personal influence, she had a modesty in regard to the actions of ego and unconscious.
With a ringing assertion, she made clear that the ego cannot take credit for the process of psychotherapy.
Showing a humility proper for any psychotherapist, but not always found, she observed that the process is conducted beneath the surface of consciousness and that we are likely to be aware of it only after it has occurred.
This is the attitude she furthers in this book devoted to our coming to consciousness, through understanding that everything in the mind is a mirroring or projection of the objective psyche.
The English words chosen for the title of this book are no doubt aimed at conceptual clarity, but result in an awkwardness with regard to their meaning.
Perhaps looking at them word by word will help.
Citing Jung’s Collected Works (Vol. 9, pt. 1, pars. 121 and 142; pt. 2, par. 43), the author defines “projection,” in short, as a “transfer” of one’s own1attitudes onto another person or thing (von Franz, p. 3).
For example, I may have feelings of doubt about who or what I am, but not recognize my doubt.
Transferring these feelings to a rock upon which I sit, I may hear the rock say, “Who is sitting on me?”
Similarly, I may see you looking “angrily” at me, ask why, and discover you are not mad at all, that the angry face is mine–that is, I have angry feelings toward you of which I was unaware.
Withdrawal of such projections of feeling is something we ask our clients to do quite often.
In fact, much of psychotherapy has to do with sorting out such me and statements, taking responsibility for what is ours, and disclaiming what is not.
The author defines five stages in the experience and withdrawal of projection, starting with the uncritical experience of projection (that tree is calling me), then breaking up the experience into parts (a demon in the tree is calling me), going on to the morality of the actor (is that a good daimon or a bad demon calling me?), and then to denial as the next stage (there is no voice calling me; it was an illusion).
The final stage is to realize the power of the psyche in manipulating our experience.
Such insight gives us an awesome feeling of our vulnerability to illusions, to projections (p. 9).
In a later section (p. 169), the author defines the other principal term of the title, Re-collection.
She invites us to see a shower of sparks shooting out in all directions, the image of projective activity of the psyche.
As we gather together these sparks in withdrawing our projections, we are “recollecting” at a basic level of our being.
With the sparks integrated together in an orderly bundle, we provide light for consciousness.
At first we only have “flashes,” but as we persevere, the light becomes steadier. For a “realized” person, one who is sufficiently individuated, the light presumably becomes constant, is on continuously.
By implication, the Self, as center of the objective Psyche or collective unconscious, is then in such a relationship with the ego as center of the subjective psyche, that the light radiated by the Self is directed onto an object by the movable mirror of the ego.
In such a relationship between ego and Self, the ego would knowingly see itself as an instrument of the objective psyche.
Much of Dr. von Franz’s book has to do with the path of light from Self to ego, from unconscious to conscious realization of the nature of psyche and matter.
She shows the Self radiating the light of consciousness through intermediary archetypes which become personified in their relationship to the ego as center of the subjective self (p. 186).
She makes clear that archetypes are responsible for much of the projective activity which challenges the ego.
As the ego successively withdraws these projections, it goes through the state of deciding whether the archetypal source of the projection is a destructively oriented demon or a heloing and friendly daimon.
Jungian psychology has outlined a number of somewhat standard figures of archetypes with differing moral judgments about their intentions.
one also becomes aware that a particular archetype may be either positive or negative.
For example, the anima in men may be witchly enwebbinq or sweetly enabling.
The shadow generally carries negative aspects we wish to deny, but can also
turn from menacing beast, all fangs in a dream, to a rescuing animal with nurturing energy.
What Dr. von Franz emphasizes is that whatever state of integration the ego may achieve, however enlightened it may be, it cannot integrate the Self.
That is, the ego, small as a grain of sand, can capture an image of the universe, can reflect the radiance of the sun, but cannot become the sun.
It is too small to replace the sun of the This body is the Bodhi Tree, This mind is like a mirror bright; Take heed to keep it always clean And let no dust collect upon it.
Shen Hsiu had written the stanza on the wall anonymously in response to the Fifth Patriarch’s challenge to his disciples to show their Prajna (wisdom), so that he could choose his successor. Hui Neng went to the wall and asked one of the disciples to write his stanza there as well:
The Bodhi is not like a tree;
The mirror bright is nowhere shining;
From the beginning not a thing exists.
Where can one find dust collecting?
The Fifth Patriarch then chose Hui Neng as his successor, passing on to him the Bodhidharma’s robe and bowl.
The story of this encounter appears in The Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui Neng (Berkeley, Shambhala, 1971).
The translation of the stanzas I prefer comes, however, from The Practice My reading in Zen makes me cautious about accepting a mirroring metaphor to describe the relationship between ego and Self.
When at one time I tried to understand some of the Zen Buddhistic literature, I encountered the famous interaction between Shen Hsiu and Hui Neng, who became the Sixth Patriarch in China.
Hui Neng’s father died when his son was young, and the boy was not formally educated; he eventually came to reside in Canton where he sold firewood to support his mother and himself.
Outside a customer’s door he heard a man reciting the Diamond Sutra and immediately understood its meaning.
Hui Neng later went to the monastery of the Fifth Patriarch, some thirty-days journey away, and the Patriarch put him to work on menial tasks.
Eight months later Hui Neng heard one of the disciples chanting a stanza their instructor had written on a wall in the monastery:
Self as the life-giving orb at the center of our psychic solar system.
With regard to the timelessness of the Self, Dr. von Franz takes one position with which I have difficulty.
She seems to say that all scientific hypotheses are simply projections of the Self, that there are no new ideas, that all has been thought already (p. 72).
If I understand her correctly, that would imply total predestination of events.
That is, the future is history for the world mind, or objective psyche.
Perhaps I have simply always balked at closed systems.
To me, divine action is the play of opposites in an open system where the outcome is in doubt.
That allows a newness, an evolving and growth, which gives creative excitement to what happens next.
It makes room for a brilliant talent such as Mozart to appear as a beautiful mutation not known before.
It allows room for the ultimate creator to be an empiricist, and a model of inductive reasoning for us.
It makes me a participant with the Self in the end product of creation.
Inflation is surely a danger in this form of thinking, but I need not fear it unduly, for the Self is a master of de f1ation.
In 1955, shortly after his dismissal from the AEC, Robert Oppenheimer spoke at the invitation of the American Psychological Association at their convention in San Francisco.
In a beautiful address on the merit of metaphor and analogy as explanatory models for understanding our empirical world, Oppenheimer encouraged us to continue to apply new developments and devices in engineering and physics as explanatory models in psychology.
He suggested, however” that conceptualization must actually wait on better physical models to explain relationships and interactions one cannot otherwise hold in the mind.
Mirroring (Hui Neng notwithstanding) is a solid model or metaphor by which we can conceptualize an interaction between Self and ego, and ‘it has merit.
I would hope technology has other models for us, however, that might serve even better.
While I have no such model to offer in developed form, I have for some time been using the computer as an analog for the speed, depth and breadth of information transfers in the collective unconscious.
I have designated the ego an input/output device limited in speed, depth and breadth by a factor of at least one millionth in comparison with the collective unconscious.
An advantage of using the computer processor as an analog for the collective unconscious is that one sees instantly the difficulty of communication between Self and ego.
That is, it isn’t possible, for the processor to give its awareness directly to the ego. Instead, it must slow down its speed to a crawl, reduce its multi-dimensions of activity
to a single line, and patiently feed, character by character, its wisdom to the typewriter of human consciousness.
Carrying forward the metaphor of mind and computer, it is clear’ that our ego is gradually becoming more multi-dimensional.
From the darkness of consciousness in primeval time, we now interact by light-pencils on cathode ray displays to increase the efficiency of our communication with the computer processor, just as we have increased our conscious breadth and depth in the use of visual symbols in relationship to the Self.
It remains that von Franz’s mirroring metaphor is quite attractive as a symbolic way of showing that consciousness is a reflection of the radiance of the Self, rather than a light source in itself.
Yet what is so beautiful about Hui Neng’s stanza is that it points out that the ego has nothing to keep clean.
The action is elsewhere, the atman is consciousness (see discussion of “Chaitanyamatma,” Shivasutras, in Siddha Meditation by Swami Muktananda. South Fallsburg, N. Y., SYDA Foundation, 1979).
In times past when I attempted to understand Hui Neng’s stanza, I had the image of shooting sparks as in Dr. von Franz’s conception of the psyche sending out projections.
What I saw catching the sparks was, however, not a mirror, but the screen of a cathode ray tube or television tube.
The implication is that there is no reality in our minds, but only shimmering modulations in the frequencies of a shower of electrons.
What is clear is that the ego ;s one of the principal modulators of these frequencies, being joined in this action by various other archetypes.
Enlightenment begins when we see that what we desire modulates or effects what we experience as reality.
Kant made clear that what we experience is not the ding an sich, the thing in itself. Plato’s model of reality offers wavering shadows on the wall of a cave, the light source being at the mouth of the cave in which we lie imprisoned.
Zen says we can awaken to the world as it is. Yoga says God is consciousness.
Psychologists ponder projection, seeing that we find ourselves in what we think the world is.
This process is surely a path to awakening, to greater awareness.
Dr. von Franz’s book is directly on that path, and she helps to bring psychotherapists
back to the mainstream of their endeavor, which is as teachers of consciousness.
I hope someone also takes the step soon of attempting to relate Jung’s four functions to the process of projection.
I continue to wonder whether projection may simply be the function of “intuition” manifest, although the equation does not seem really satisfactory.
If I give projection to intuition, must I also give dreaming to the same, as if they were extensions of one another?
Is intuition, like projection, compelling because it is not based on fact, on thinking, nor on feelings per se–that is, not based on anything with which we are familiar?’
Is this the meaning of intuition, to jump over our accustomed behavior?
If so, it might have a favored place among our functions as the instrument of change.
It is fascinating that most type studies of psychotherapists show them to function most commonly as intuitives. (See ~ray, H.G., Jungian Type and Therapeutic Relationship, Doctoral Dissertation, Psychological Studiesnstitute, Palo Alto, 1980, p. 61.)
Is the deeper study of projection a study of the intuitive process in the human mind?
Is Or. von Franz’s book essentially about intuition?
I think what Dr. von Franz does so well here is to stimulate images such as I have expressed, and to provoke us to think further about our own world picture.
As she moves to the conclusion of her study of projection, she offers us (p. 186) a four-fold mirroring which represents eternal verity:
Self and ego are opposed poles, and similarly, the objective psyche and matter are opposed poles, the resulting quadrangle composing reality.
If I understand her image, it tells us that the desired, balanced state of the noumenal human eye is at the center of the cross between mirrors set up at each pole.
At one pole the ego reflects the Self in its mirror, and can be seen in the mirror of the Self. In like fashion, matter reflects the energy of the objective psyche, which it manifests.
Matter is then to be seen in the mirror of the objective psyche.
The four-fold mirror is therefore a beautiful image of a realized mind. In terms of opposites it takes us to an ultimate statement of reality.
The sense of the author’s words, however, lets us see that she places more power and enduring continuity in the Self than in the ego, and comparably, more eternal essence ;n objective psyche than in forms of matter.
Thus, in truth, the poles of opposition are not in balance.
Actually, as the Self is also the center of the objective psyche, one sees that the two pairs of ultimate opposites reduce to one reality, namely the Self, the source of divine projection.
Thus, the four go to one. Only the Self exists, all else is illusion.
Or, to cite Baba Muktananda (of Consciousness. South Fallsburg, N. V., SVDA Foundation, 1974), divine conscious energy, Chiti, creates the universe, freely; only she exists.
What Marie-Louise von Franz makes so clear is that as “doctors of consciousness” we participate in awakening spirituality.
That is, for all its merit, psychotherapy is not simply a program to improve inter-personal relationship, or to help solve other material problems an individual may face. In its essence it is a discipline devoted to defining the divine, impossible as that task seems to be.
Her book is a gift along that path. ~Jack Nidever, Review: Projection and Re-Collection in Jungian Psychology by Marie-Louise von Franz, The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Summer 1981), pp.34-39