Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Short Jungian Interlude 3


Il Colosseo, Roma, drante la Pasqua, 2007
 Chapter three of The undiscovered Self runs to a mere seven pages, the first four pages of which set the contemporary political scene, i.e., The Cold War and Iron Curtain politics mainly.  The title of the chapter is "The position of the West on the Question of Religion."  Jung was right in his suppostion that there were many opponents to the suppression of freedoms in the East and that such individuals would eventually rise up against their masters.

Then we read the following (penned in 1957 remember) which surely foreshadowed and presaged the current fundamentalist Islamic terrorist revolt against the West:

Even though the West has considerable industrial power and a sizable defense potential at its command, we cannot rest content with this, for we know that even the biggest guns and the heaviest industry with its relatively high living standard are not enough to check the psychic infection spread by religious fanaticism.  (Op. cit., p. 25)
The Abandonment of inner Experience:

According to Jung if religion is anything at all it is a faith stance - my words and my interpretation of his ideas here.  When religion is unhitched from the engine of faith or fiducial belief, that is, unhithched from a kind of native trust in the person of the Deity, it descends into a mere list of doctrines and tenets.  It lacks conviction and passion and commitment.  In this regard Jung laments the loss of real personal or inner experience:

The Churches stand for traditional and collective convictions which in the case of many of their adherents are no longer based on their own inner experiences but on unreflecting belief , which is notoriously apt to disappear as soon as one begins thinking about it.  The content of belief then comes into collision with knowledge, and it often turns out that the irrationality of the former is no match for the ratiocination of the latter.  Belief is no adequate substitute for inner experience. (Ibid., p. 26)
Faith according to Jung is a response to something that happened to us on the level of human experience.  He then goes on to argue cogently that the resurrection of Christ from the dead is a symbolic or metaphorical  occurrence and certainly not a real physical one.  Our psychiatrist argues that the Churches made and still make the mistake of taking their mythologies literally.  By understanding  the Christian mythology symbolically we will prevent it being ridiculed and wiped out because when it is rendered literal it contradicts fundamental common sense.

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