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The Relation of Jung’s Psychology to Meister Eckhart and Jakob Boehme
by Dr. J. Glenn Friesen © 2008 Revised notes from lectures given at the C.G. Jung Institute, Küsnacht (June 21-22, 2005) I. Introduction
This is the third and final lecture in this series on Jung and Western Mysticism. In Lecture 1, we discussed how Jung’s idea of individuation needs to be interpreted in relation to his idea of totality, the center beyond time that is both the source and the goal of all our temporal functions. Individuation is not to be understood as individualism, but rather as a relation of our relating our temporal ego to our supratemporal, supra-individual and central selfhood. In Lecture 2, we saw how this idea of totality is related to the philosophy of the German Christian theosophist Franz von Baader. We briefly looked at many similarities between Franz von Baader and Jung. We also examined Jung’s relation to Gnosticism and to Kabbalah. Baader, a Catholic Christian theosophist, was important in reviving interest in Meister Eckhart and Jakob Boehme. He introduced the ideas of Boehme to the philosopher Schelling, and he introduced the ideas of Eckhart to the philosopher Hegel. But Baader disagreed with the use made by Schelling and Hegel of these ideas. In this Lecture 3, we will look at Boehme and Eckhart in more detail. This lecture therefore continues the themes of the two previous lectures. It explores the relation of Jung’s ideas to the mysticism of Boehme and Eckhart. This will give a historical context to Jung’s analytical psychology that has frequently not been sufficiently appreciated. It will also show how Jung has misinterpreted Boehme and Eckhart. II. Jung and Meister Eckhart
A. Who was Meister Eckhart? (1260-1328) Meister Eckhart is one of the most important mystics in the West. He was born at Hochheim, near Gotha around 1260. He became a monk, a member of the Dominican order in Erfurt. Around 1300, Eckhart became a lecturer at Paris. In 1302, he obtained the title of Master of Sacred Theology; that is why he is called Meister Eckhart. He later taught at Cologne. He preached in vernacular low German. The archbishop Hermann von Virneburg accused Meister Eckhart of heresy. But Eckhart was exonerated by Nicholas of Strasburg, to whom the pope had given the temporary charge of the Dominican monasteries in Germany. But although Eckhart had been exonerated, the archbishop continued these charges of heresy against Eckhart in his own court. Meister Eckhart denied that the archbishop had proper jurisdiction, and he appealed to the pope. On Feb. 13, 1327, Eckhart © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
2 stated that he had always detested everything wrong, and should anything of the kind be found in his writings, he retracted it. This document is known as Eckhart’s “Justification,” and a copy of it is available online.1 There is no further information in Eckhart’s case, except that Pope John XXII. issued a papal bull on March 27, 1329 (In agro dominico), in which he characterized some statements Eckhart as heretical; another statement is shown as suspected of heresy.2 Five centuries later, Franz von Baader, whom we discussed in Lecture 2, transmitted Meister Eckhart’s ideas to the philosophers of his time. In particular, he introduced these ideas to the philosopher Hegel,3 although he disagreed with the way that Hegel used Eckhart’s ideas to support the view that God needs man in order to become conscious. As we shall see, that same incorrect idea found its way to Jung, who made the same mistake in interpreting Eckhart. Meister Eckhart emphasized the importance of God being born in us, and the idea of the Eternal Now. And he referred to the idea of “Gelassenheit” or letting go. This should not be understood as mere passivity. Rather, there is first a moment of identity between the ego and its source. After this moment of identity, the ego then has a revitalized engagement with the world. This idea of engagement with the world is something that is often overlooked, on the incorrect assumption that Eckhart’s mysticism is world-denying. But Eckhart’s mysticism, unlike Gnosticism, does not turn its back on the world. In fact, a book has been written on Eckhart’s social philosophy: Ilse Roloff, ed.: Meister Eckeharts Schriften zur Gesellschaftsphilosophie (Jena: Gustav Fisher, 1934). This was part of the Herdflamme collection of books, edited by Othmar Spann. The Herdflamme series also included a separate volume on Franz von Baader; this volume was part of the renaissance of interest in Baader that occurred in the 1920’s. B. Jung’s references to Meister Eckhart (1) Even as a boy, Jung was interested in Eckhart.4 (2) Jung says that Eckhart understood God as a psychological value. (CW 6, para. 418) (3) Jung says Eckhart spoke of the unconscious six centuries before it was investigated in more detail (“Gnostic Symbols of the Self,” CW 9, par. 302). And he says elsewhere, In Eckhart we are confronted with new ideas, ideas having the same psychic orientation that impelled Dante to follow the image of Beatrice into the underworld of the unconscious and that inspired the singers who sang the lore of the Grail. (Psychological Types, CW 6, para. 410).
Meister Eckehart, “Rechtfertigungsschrift,” online at [http://www.pinselpark.org/philosophie/e/ eckehart/texte/proz_rechtf01.html] See Entry on Meister Eckhart, [http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/eckhart.htm].
Franz von Baader: Sämtliche Werke, ed. Franz Hoffmann (Leipzig, 1851-1860) [‘Werke’], 15, 159; See David Baumgardt: Franz von Baader und die Philosophische Romantik (Halle: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 1927), 34 [‘Baumgaradt’].
Deirdre Bair: Jung: A Biography (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 2003), 35 [‘Bair’].
© 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
3 (4) Eckhart spoke of God as an “inner possession.” (Psychological Types, CW 6, para. 416-417) (5) He refers to Eckhart as an example of how people seldom do great things without first going astray. (Psychological Types, CW 6, para. 415) (6) Man is truly God, and God is truly man. Jung cites Meister Eckhart ... wherefore are we baptized, wherefore did God become man, I would answer, so that God may be born in the soul and the soul again in God. Therefore were the holy scriptures written. Therefore did God create the whole world, that God might be born in the soul and the soul again in God. The innermost nature of all grain is wheat and of all metal, gold and of all birth, man! (Psychological Types, CW 6 para 425-426). (7) God is to be born in the soul. We will look at this symbol of birth. Jung says: Here Eckhart states bluntly that God is dependent on the soul, and at the same time, that the soul is the birthplace of God. This latter sentence can readily be understood in the light of our previous reflections. The organ of perception, the soul, apprehends the contents of the unconscious, and, as the creative function, gives birth to its dynamis in the form of a symbol. The soul gives birth to images that from the rational standpoint of consciousness are assumed to be worthless. And so they are, in the sense that they cannot immediately be turned to account in the objective world. The first possibility of making use of them as artistic, if one is in any way gifted in that direction; a second is philosophical speculation; a third is quasi-religious, leading to heresy and the founding of sects; and the fourth way of employing the dynamis of these images is to squander it in every form of licentiousness. (Psychological Types, CW 6, para. 426). (8) Eckhart distinguishes between God and Godhead. Godhead is prior to God as Trinity. Eckhart distinguishes between Godhead (Gottheit) and its derivative, God as Trinity and creator (Gottes). Because of his Kantian principles, you would think that Jung would say that Godhead is metaphysical, and that we therefore cannot say anything about Godhead. But Jung does speak about Godhead: Godhead is All, neither knowing nor possessing itself, whereas God is a function of the soul, just as the soul is a function of Godhead. Godhead is obviously allpervading creative power or, in psychological terms, self-generative creative instinct, that neither knows nor possesses itself, comparable to Schopenhauer’s universal Will. (Psychological Types, CW 6, para. 429). (8) Jung speaks of a breakthrough into a non-ego-like Self (“Zen Buddhism,” CW 11, para. 887; also Psychological Types, CW 6 para. 429). In support of this idea, he cites Eckhart: When I flowed out from God, all things declared, “God is! […] But in the breakthrough I stand empty in the will of God, and empty also of God’s will, and of all his works, even of God himself–then I am more than all creatures, then I am neither God nor creature: I am what I was, and that I shall remain, now and ever more! (Psychological Types, CW 6, para. 429). © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
4 (9) Jung says that he found personal inspiration in Meister Eckhart’s sense of resignation and letting be (“The Secret of the Golden Flower,” CW 13, par. 20). He refers to Eckhart’s emphasis on emptying, letting go, emptiness. There is a supersession of the ego by the self (Foreword to “Introduction to Zen Buddhism,” CW 11, para 893). The first stage of mystic experience is “letting oneself go” “emptying oneself of images and ideas”; says it differs from Ignatian exercises which emphasize images. Jung contrasts this to other kinds of Protestant mysticism, which concentrate on images. Eckhart’s mysticism is without images. Eckhart asserts that “God is Nothingness.” (11) Jung compares Eckhart to the Hindu Upanishads Jung says that in Eckhart, we find ourselves transported back into the spacious atmosphere of the Upanishads.5 He says that Eckhart must have experienced a quite extraordinary enhancement of the value of the soul, i.e., of his own inner being, that enabled him to rise to the purely psychological and relativistic conception of God and of his relation to man. C. Issues in Jung’s Interpretation of Meister Eckhart
Meister Eckhart is important for Jung’s psychology. And so is Jakob Boehme, as we shall see in part 2 of this lecture. But did Jung interpret Eckhart and Boehme correctly? And has Jung in turn been interpreted correctly in what he says about them? These are important issues if we want to understand Jung. In his article “Revisioning Incarnation: Jung on the Relativity of God,”6 John P. Dourley argues that Jung used Eckhart in support of these ideas: (1) for the idea that in Eckhart’s breakthrough we become identical with God (2) that God is, however, only relative, and not in any way transcendent to the psyche and (3) that God is Himself unconscious, and requires humanity’s consciousness in order to become aware of and to reconcile conflicts within Himself. Although Jung is sometimes ambiguous, Dourley’s interpretation moves in a contrary direction from what I have argued in these lectures. (1) Breakthrough and “identity” with God Jung interprets the occurrence of satori [Zen Enlightenment] as a break-through. Our consciousness, which had been limited to the ego-form, breaks through into the non-ego-like self (Foreword to “Introduction to Zen Buddhism,” CW 11, para 887). Jung says this also accords with Meister Eckhart. Jung refers to these experiences of the non-ego as mystical.7
C.G. Jung: Psychological Types, CW 6, para. 411.
John P. Dourley: “Revisioning Incarnation: Jung on the Relativity of God,” online at [www.jungianstudies.org/publications/dourleyjp1.pdf] C.G. Jung: The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1932 by C.G. Jung (Princeton: Bollingen, 1996), 28. © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
5 Dourley claims that in Eckhart’s “breakthrough” there is a total identity with God beyond all differentiation. He says that Eckhart speaks of “identity with and return from the furthest realms of divinity” (Dourley, 9). And he says that the breakthrough “describes the furthest ingression into divinity. It is followed by a return to conscious life as a creature once more distinct from its creator” (Dourley, 15). But Eckhart denies that Man is identical to God: See Eckhart’s “Justification”: Der Vater zeugt in mir seinen Sohn” etc., so ist zu bemerken, daß dieser Satz mehreres besagen kann: Das eine wäre, daß der Mensch, der in Gottes Liebe und Erkenntnis steht, zu nichts anderem wird, als was Gott selbst ist. Dies erkläre ich für gänzlich falsch und ich habe solches weder gesagt noch geglaubt noch geschrieben oder gepredigt. Es ist irrig und, wenn in verwegener Vermessenheit behauptet, häretisch […]Was im übrigen die Sache betrifft, die in diesem ersten Satz aufgestellt wird, so muß man wissen, daß ohne Zweifel Gott, und zwar der eine - weil es keinen anderen gibt - in einem jeden Seienden enthalten ist nach Macht und Gegenwart und Wesen [als ungeborener Vater und geborener Sohn].8 “The Father begets in me his Son,” etc. It should be noticed that this proposition can mean several things. One meaning is that man, who stands in the love and knowledge of God, becomes nothing other than what God himself is. This view I declare to be completely false, and I have not said nor believed nor written nor preached such a view. It is wrong and, if it is asserted in audacious arrogance, it is heretical. […] Furthermore, in relation to this matter, which is set out in this first proposition, we must understand that without any doubt, God–and only the One God, for there is no other–is within each and every being according to his power and presence and reality [as unborn Father and begotten Son]. So Eckhart is emphasizing the immanence of God in creation, and not our identity with God. God is not pantheistically identical with creation, but transcendent. But such transcendence does not prevent God from revealing Himself and being immanent in creation. Later writers speak of a pan-en-theism, where creation is in God, but God is always more than His creation. Now we can debate whether Eckhart’s “Justification” was merely written in desperation to save himself in the heresy trial, and whether it truly reflects what he says in such writings as Sermon LXXVII [“I pray God to rid me of God,”] or his Sermon “Blessed are the Poor.” I believe that they can be read in a way that is consistent with his denial of identity with God. But it is clear that Jung did not regard man as being identical with God, either. First, Jung notes a distinction in Eckhart between Godhead and God (Psychological Types, CW 6, para. 429). Dourley also acknowledges that Eckhart’s idea of the divine quaternity distinguishes between Godhead as the center, and God as a member of the Trinity of which Godhead is the Center (Dourley 14). But the distinction between this divine quaternity and the Meister Eckehart, “Rechtfertigungsschrift,” online at [http://www.pinselpark.org/philosophie/e/ eckehart/texte/proz_rechtf01.html] (my emphasis). © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
6 human quaternity, with selfhood at the center of man (just like Godhead is the center of the Trinity), does not seem to have been acknowledged by either Jung or Dourley. We shall see this again in our discussion of God and evil (below). The two quaternities are more fully worked out in Boehme and later in Baader, but even in Eckhart, we see how our imaging God also involves an imaging of central relationship. It is because we image the relation of Godhead to Trinity that Eckhart can say “it is I who bring all creatures out of their own into my mind and make them one in me” (cited by Jung CW 6, para 428). Our selfhood, as image of God, unifies the temporal world in the same way that Godhead is the unity of the Trinity. And just as Godhead expresses Himself in the Trinity, so our selfhood expresses itself in its temporal ego. Contrary to what Dourley seems to think (Dourley 5), Jung’s idea that the selfhood creates the ego (CW 11, par 400) does not mean that we create ourselves, but that in our relation of self to ego, of supratemporal center to temporal periphery, we are imaging God. Second, to the extent that Godhead and God are transcendent, Jung’s Kantian principles prevent him from saying anything about God as He is in Himself. When he speaks of ‘God,’ he is referring to the God-image (man’s transcendent psyche), since that is all that Jung believes is available to be investigated by psychology if it is to remain empirical (Whether Jung can consistently be empirical is doubtful, but that is the basis for what he states here). Now all of this would have been much easier to understand if Jung had been clearer in his terminology. If he had consistently used the term ‘God-image,’ this would have prevented much misunderstanding. For that matter, his psychology would also have been much clearer if he had not used the word ‘psyche’ to mean “selfhood.” Even if he had used the term ‘soul’ instead of ‘psyche,’ it would have been more understandable. I suggest that he did not do this because he was trying to appear empirical, and he thought that the term ‘soul’ carried too many metaphysical connotations. I believe he was wrong in doing this, for metaphysics cannot be avoided (see discussion below). Another reason that Jung avoided the term ‘soul’ is that it is often used to refer to only some of our functions. But Jung’s analytical psychology “opposes the view that the soul does not coincide with the totality of the psychic functions” (Psychological Types, CW 6, para. 419). But Jung does use the term ‘soul’ in a way that fits with the idea of totality, and with the idea of our selfhood as God-image, in a way that avoids identifying soul or selfhood with God. Rather, the soul is an image, reflecting the forces of God. Eckhart even calls the soul the image of God.…God is entirely separate from man and is exalted to the heights of pure ideality. But the soul never loses its intermediate position. It must therefore be regarded as a function of relation between the subject and the inaccessible depths of the unconscious. The determining force (God) operating from these depths is reflected by the soul, that is, it creates symbols and images, and is itself only an image. By means of these images the soul conveys the forces of the unconscious to consciousness; it is both receiver and transmitter, an organ for perceiving unconscious contents (Psychological Types, CW 6, para. 426). In paragraph 418, Jung cites Eckhart that the soul is “of like nature with the Godhead.” But that quotation goes on to say “The soul is all things because she is an image of God.” As God-image, the soul (or psyche or selfhood) is distinct from that which it reflects. And that does not mean that God is not also present or immanent in the soul.
© 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
7 In any event, Jung is clear in his later writings that he does not accept the identity of the selfhood with God Himself: I do not feel the slightest need to put the self in place of God, as short-sighted critics have often accused me of doing. If Indian philosophers equate the atman with the concept of God and many Westerners copy them, this is simply their subjective opinion and not science (CW 14, 273). Jung’s opposition of identification of selfhood and God is clear in his Lectures on Kundalini Yoga.9 He says that practitioners of Kundalini can experience the divine because they are so deeply conscious of the utter difference of god and man.(Kundalini, 30). Jung refers to the idea that the self is not different from the object, God, and that there is not even an object, no God, nothing but Brahman. He says, “This is an entirely philosophical concept, a mere logical conclusion from the premises before. It is without practical value for us” (Kundalini, 57). To identify the personal with the divine results in our undergoing a tremendous inflation. This is the mistake of theosophy, which confuses the individual light-spark with the divine light (Kundalini, 68). So when Dourley says that Jung interprets Eckhart as saying that we are identical with the Godhead, Dourley is making a double mistake. In the breakthrough, we do not become identical with either Godhead or even God in a transcendent sense, but only with the God-image. And this is what Jung means by the “relativity of God.” It is the relation between our temporal ego and our selfhood as God-image. But let us look at this in more detail. (2) The Relativity of God The title of Dourley’s article refers to the “relativity of God.” Dourley says that Jung “effectively denies the ontological reality of the transcendent One and Only Gods of the variant monotheisms and the supernatural world from which they arbitrarily invade the human in creative and redemptive enterprise” (Dourley 2). He says that Jung’s view is that “religion has no referent beyond the psyche.” Dourley supports this denial of a transcendent God and compares it to what Don Cupitt says about dissolving the metaphysical God, and the “double meltdown” of God and the soul into each other (Dourley 25-26). Dourley relies on the following passage from Psychological Types, where Jung comments on Eckhart’s idea of the “relativistic conception of God and of his relation to man”: The “relativity of God,” as I understand it, denotes a point of view that does not conceive of God as “absolute,” i.e., wholly “cut off” from man and existing outside and beyond all human conditions but as in a certain sense dependent on him; it also implies a reciprocal and essential relation between man and God, whereby man can be understood as a function of God and God as a psychological function of man. From the empirical standpoint of analytical psychology, the God-image is the symbolic expression of a particular psychic state, or function, which is characterized by its absolute ascendancy over the will of the subject, and can therefore bring about or enforce actions and achievements that could never be done by conscious effort (“Psychological Types,” CW 6, para. 412)
C.G. Jung: the Psychology of Kundalini Yoga, ed. Sonu Shamdasani (Princeton, 1996) [‘Kundalini’].
© 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
8 It is clear from this very quotation that Jung is referring to God-image and not to God in Himself (“From the empirical standpoint of analytical psychology, the God-image…”). From the following paragraph (413), Jung makes it clear that he wants to confine his psychology “to empirical data within the limits set by cognition.” He says, “From the metaphysical point of view God is, of course, absolute, existing in himself.” From his Kantian perspective, Jung wants to avoid metaphysical statements, and so is concentrating on what is observable, namely our relation with the God-image. Dourley acknowledges that Jung’s intent here is to show the reciprocity of ego and selfhood (Dourley, 4). I agree. But that in itself does not mean a reciprocity with God, but only with the God-image, our selfhood. Let us look at the movement that Jung describes in the reciprocal relation of self and ego. Jung says that there are three stages in this reciprocal relation: a) Projection of energy into objects in the world b) Breakthrough into non-ego c) The flowing out of God (in the sense of God-image) a) Projection of energy into objects in the world For the “primitive person,” and “on the lower human levels, ” God is “a power that can be captured by certain procedures and employed for the making of things needful for the life and well-being of man, and also to produce magical or baneful effects. the primitive feels this power as much within him as outside him…” (para. 414). This is the power of mana, or the power of fetish objects. But the power comes from the subject’s own unconscious, which is then projected onto objects in the world. Jung says that this projection is what Eckhart is referring to when he says that for those who do not have God as an inner possession, they must “fetch him from without, in this thing or that, where he is then sought for in vain, in all manner of works, people, or places; verily such a man has him not, and easily something comes to trouble him” (para. 416). For such people, the world has taken the place of God. The world appears as an absolutely determining factor (para. 417). And by that test, most modern people share this primitive view, and live “in the basement” of consciousness.10 b) Breakthrough into non-ego This projection of power into objects sets up a “surplus value” in those objects. We must introvert that surplus value and turn it into an inner possession (para. 417). This would occur naturally except for the fact that our consciousness gets in the way. By over-valuing the object, the primitive is able to produce a retrograde current that would “quite naturally” bring the libido back to the subject “were it not for the obstructing power of consciousness.” So to introvert this power that we have improperly projected, a sacrifice is required (para. 422). The sacrifice means cutting ourselves off from things into which we projected our ego, and a sacrifice of our ego consciousness itself.
See Jung’s discussion of this in The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga. Jung explains the need for us to ascend from this stage. See my “Jung, Ramana Maharshi, and Eastern Mysticism,” online at [http://www.members.shaw.ca/cgjung/JungRamana.html].
© 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
9 We “break through” into the non-ego. The breakthrough is when the separation of our ego from God is abolished by first cutting the ego off from the world. The ego then again becomes identical with the unconscious dynamis. God [i.e. God-image] disappears as an object and dwindles into a subject which is no longer distinguishable from the ego. This is not a blissful state (unlike the next stage). Here, we are overwhelmed by the unconscious. Eckhart’s symbolism of being born again in God as another way of reduction, re-establishes identity with God, the dynamic all-Oneness, which Jung equates with participation mystique. In my view, this is questionable. Is participation mystique really the same as being born again in God? Does the primitive really ascend from the instinctual use of archetypes? Or is this another instance of Jung failing to distinguish the pre-personal use of archetypes from the trans-personal? In any event, Jung refers to Eckhart’s idea of being born again “in God” as a “mystic regression”, where the ego, “as a late product of differentiation,” is reunited with the dynamic All-oneness (the participation mystique of primitives). There is an immersion in the “flood and source.” As a result of this retrograde process the original state of identity with God is reestablished and a new potential is produced. (paras. 430-431). The potential is for the creative flowing out, of God being born in us, which is the third phase. c) The flowing out from God (in the sense of God-image) The second stage, of breakthrough, of being born again in God, is distinct from letting God be born in us. In this third stage, by means of passive Gelassenheit and emptiness, we become open to the working of the God-image. Our experience is as described by Paul “not I, but Christ in me.” In this state, we have recognized our projections, and we have achieved a “Brahman-like state of ananda [bliss].” There is “a drop in the conscious potential, the unconscious becomes the determining factor, and the ego almost entirely disappears.” We feel “borne along by the current of life, when what was dammed up can flow off without restraint, when there is no need to do this thing or that thing with a conscious effort in order to find a way out or to achieve a result.” This flowing out is from a source that we recognize as “objective.” And so we again distinguish between subjective and objective, between our ego and God (i.e. our selfhood, God-image). But God is no longer projected outside, but God is inside. That is what it means that “God is born in the soul.” The supreme value “is now found inside and not outside” (para. 421). This is what Eckhart means when he says, “A little while since and I declared, I am the cause that God is God! God is gotten of the soul, his Godhead he has of himself” and “God comes into being and passes away.” Elsewhere, Jung comments again on Eckhart: Like every creature, the soul "declares" him: he exists insofar as the soul distinguishes itself from the unconscious and perceives its dynamis and he ceases to exist as soon as the soul is immersed in the "flood and source" of unconscious dynamis. Thus Eckhart says: when I flowed out from God, all things declared, "God is!" Now this cannot make me blessed, for thereby I knowledge myself at creature. But in my breaking through I stand empty in the will of God, and empty also of God's will, and of all his works, even God himself - then I am more than all creatures, then I am neither God nor creature: I am what I was, and that I shall remain, now and ever more! © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
10 Then I receive a thrust which carries me above all angels. By this thrust I become so rich that God cannot suffice me, despite all that he is as God and all his godly works; for in this breakthrough I receive what God and I have in common. I am what I was, I neither increase nor diminish, for I am the unmoved mover that moves All things. Here God can find no more place in man, for man by his emptiness has won back that which he eternally was and ever more shall remain. (Foreword to “Introduction to Zen Buddhism,” CW 11, para 887). With this inner possession, we return to the world, with our individuated and reborn ego, with new energy and vitality. So although we return, it is not to the same situation as before, for now God is an inner possession. This creativity allows us to see the world differently. “It is not that something different is seen, but one sees differently.” (Foreword to “Introduction to Zen Buddhism,” CW 11, para 891). And yet Jung is ambiguous on this point, too. For he says that there is a continual process of a differentiated flowing out from God and becoming identical with God. Eckhart speaks of God's birth as a continual process. As a matter fact, the process in question is a psychological one that unconsciously repeats itself almost continually, though we are conscious of it only when it swings towards the extreme. Goethe's idea of a systole and diastole seems to have hit the mark intuitively (Psychological Types, CW 6, para 428). Despite this back and forth, there is not a progress upwards towards our true selfhood, a spiral movement of ascent? Again, Jung is unclear. For even in his description of the “flowing out,” he compares our state to that of the child or the primitive person, who is also influenced in the highest degree by the unconscious (para. 422). But surely there is a difference in how the primitive is influenced. Perhaps it was only in his later works, like Kundalini, that Jung was able to distinguish between the way of descent and the way of ascent. D. Symbols The relation of self and ego, and its three stages, are important in understanding what Jung means by ‘symbol.’ For it is the “intuitive teachings of religion” that portray in symbols this collective of energy that has been projected outwards (Psychological Types, CW, para. 422). Put another way, religion teaches us how to avoid idols and the over-valuation of temporal reality, and to live from out of a higher power within us. The soul reflects the inacessible depths of the unconscious (para. 425). The soul apprehends the contents of the unconscious, and, as the creative function, gives birth to its dynamis in the form of a symbol. (para. 426). The aim of the great religions is expressed in the injunction “not of this world,” and this implies the inward movement of libido into the unconscious. Its withdrawal and introversion create in the a concentration of libido is symbolized as the “treasure,” as in the parables of the “pearl of great price” and the “treasure in the field” (para. 423). In my view, Jung does not sufficiently explain the reflective character of the soul. If the soul is a God-image, a reflecting organ, then the relation is not just between our selfhood and ego, but between them and that which transcends them both. Because of his Kantian principles, Jung is afraid to talk of a transcendent God, but only of the God-image. I believe that Baader’s view of the selfhood as God-image, and his non-Kantian philosophy, allows him to clarify some of these © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
11 issues in Jungian psychology. Even Jung’s repeated emphasis on “Christ in us” remains ambiguous unless the self/soul as God-image reflects a Christ that is transcendent to it. There is much more that can and should be said about this. I am surprised that Dourley, who is a Catholic priest, finds it strange that so many Jungian analysts “still cling to the idea of a God beyond the psyche” (Dourley 27). But I hope that my comparisons with Baader show how such a view of divine transcendence is not inconsistent with Jungian psychology. As I said before, I am going in a different direction than the one that Dourley wants to take. We need to briefly look at what Jung says about our use of symbols. We make use of symbols in different ways: 1. artistically (like Goethe). 2. philosophical speculation. He gives Nietzsche as an example. Jung claims to avoid a speculative use of symbols. But recall that for Baader, speculation is from ‘specula’ or mirror, and so Baader’s kind of speculation is imaginative, in attempting to recover the archetypal image of man (See Baader’s “Speculative Dogmatics,” Werke 8). The archetypal nature of the quaternity also explains, says Grassl,11 why for Baader, each speculation concerning it requires an Imagination, an inner generation or inner birth. 3. a quasi-religious use of symbols, which leads to heresy and sects. This is a subjectivism and results in individualism, and we can see its beginnings in Protestantism’s emphasis on the subject. It represents “a new form of detachment from the world, the immediate danger of which is re-submersion in this unconscious dynamis.” This is the cult of the “blond beast.” (CW 6, para 433). 4. symbols can be squandered in licentiousness. This way and the previous way of applying symbols were apparent in the ascetic and anarchic schools of Gnosticism (Psychological Types, CW 6, para. 426-427). 5. Jung then gives his own view of the way that symbols are applied: The conscious realization of these symbolic images is, however, of indirect value from the point of view of adaptation to reality, in that one's relation to the surrounding world back is thereby freed from admixtures of fantasy. Nevertheless, their main value lies in promoting the subject's happiness and wellbeing, irrespective of external circumstances (para. 427). Sometimes we cannot adapt to reality, but only endure it. Even in that case, endurance “is made easier by an elaboration of the fantasy-images (para. 427). How do we elaborate a symbol? Jung says that there are two ways of such “treatment”: I will only say, for clarity's sake, that there are two methods of treatment: 1. the reductive, and 2. the synthetic. The former traces everything back to primitive
Hans Grassl: “Baaders Lehre vom Quaternar im Vergleich mit der Polarität Schellings und der Dialektik Hegels; Mit einem Nachtrag: Baader und C.G. Jung.,” in Peter Koslowski, ed.: Die Philosophie, Theologie und Gnosis Franz von Baaders (Vienna: Passagen Verlag, 1993).
© 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
12 instincts, the latter develops the material into the process for differentiating the personality. The two methods are complementary, for reduction to instinct leads back to reality, indeed to an over-valuation of reality and hence to the necessity of sacrifice. The synthetic method elaborates the symbolic fantasies resulting from the introversion of libido through sacrifice. This produces a new attitude to the world whose very difference offers a new potential. I have termed this transition to a new attitude the transcendent function. In the regenerated attitude the libido that was formerly sunk in the unconscious emerges in the form of some positive achievement. It is equivalent to the renewal of life, which Eckhart symbolizes by God's birth. Conversely, when the libido is withdrawn from external objects and sinks into the unconscious, the soul is born again in God. This state, as he rightly observes, is not a blissful one, because it is a negative act, a turning away from life and a descent to the deus absconditus, who possesses qualities very different from those of the God who shines by day. (para. 427) Let us examine this text more closely. a) The reductive use of symbols The reductive approach is a regression to the primitive. It traces symbols back to our primitive instincts. This is the first stage discussed above, where we over-value the object. But this reductive approach is only the descent to the pre-personal unconscious. It needs to be completed by what we discussed in Lecture 1 about what Jung says concerning the ascent to the suprapersonal, which is the beginning of individuation. This reductive use, this regression to the primitive, creates a “retrogade current” that can us to sacrifice of ego, but only if we sacrifice our existing relation to the world, and our existing sense of ego. This leads to the second stage, “participation mystique.” In that second stage, we lose our sense of ego, and become immersed in the flood of unconsciousness. b) The synthetic use of symbols The synthetic approach develops the symbolic fantasies into a process for differentiating the personality. In this creative use of symbol, the selfhood is again split into God-image and ego. The God-image is seen again as something objective, which works through us, like Christ within us. This is an enormously creative phase. It is leads to differentiation of the personality and renewal of life. It is the transcendent function; a transition to a new attitude (para. 252). The subjective “I live” becomes objective: “It lives me”; This results in a state where because of the detachment of consciousness, the subjective “I live” becomes the objective “It lives me.” (“The Secret of the Golden Flower,” CW 13, para. 78). (3) that God is Himself unconscious, and requires humanity’s consciousness in order to become aware of and to reconcile conflicts within Himself. Dourley says that Eckhart’s view of divine relativity, of the human relation to the divine as wholly intra-psychic in the interplay between ego and self. This makes divinity as dependent on humanity for its incarnation in consciousness as the human on the divine for the initial creation of its consciousness (Dourley, 17). We will deal with the issue of God’s dependence on man in much more detail when we look at Boehme. For now, it is sufficient to point out that Dourley’s argument only applies to the Godimage, and not to God Himself being dependent on humanity. © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
13 III. Jung and Jakob Boehme
A. Who was Boehme? (1575-1642) Jakob Boehme is also known as the mystical shoemaker of Goerlitz. In 1600, Boehme observed a ray of sunlight reflected in a pewter dish. This gave Boehme an ecstatic vision of the Godhead as pervading all of existence. In 1612, Boehme wrote the book Aurora.12 In that book, he says, I contemplated man's little spark, what it should be valued before God along side of this great work of heaven and earth. ... I therefore became very melancholy and highly troubled. No Scripture could comfort me, though I was quite well versed in it ... When in such sadness I earnestly elevated my spirit into God and locked my whole heart and mind, along with all my thoughts and will, therein, ceaselessly pressing in with God's Love and Mercy, and not to cease until he blessed me..., then after some hard storms my spirit broke through hell's gates into the inmost birth of the Godhead, and there I was embraced with Love as a bridegroom embraces his dear bride. ... What kind of spiritual triumph it was I can neither write nor speak; it can only be compared with that where life is born in the midst of death, and is like the resurrection of the dead. ... In this light my spirit directly saw through all things, and knew God in and by all creatures, even in herbs and grass. ... In this light my will grew in great desire to describe the being of God ... (Aurora, xix, 7-13) I did not climb up into the Godhead, neither can so mean a man as I am do it; but the Godhead climbed up in me, and revealed such to me out of his Love ... (Aurora, viii, 7) As a result of his publication of Aurora, Boehme was prosecuted by the local pastor. In 1623, Boehme published The Way to Christ.13 As a result of that publication, Boehme was banished from Goerlitz. Boehme’s ideas emphasize the idea of development within the Godhead. In other words, God is not static, but there is development within God Himself. But as we shall see, both Jung and Dourley misinterpret this development within God Himself with the development in man. They confuse the divine quaternity with the human quaternity. Two centuries later, Franz von Baader, whom we discussed in Lecture 2, transmitted Boehme’s ideas to the philosophers of his time. In particular, he transmitted these ideas to the philosopher
See The Works of Jacob Boehme online, at [http://www.passtheword.org/Jacob-Boehme/]. Jacob Boehme: The Way to Christ, tr. John Joseph Stoudt (Harper, 1947).
© 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
14 Schelling, although he disagreed with Schelling’s pantheistic use of Boehme. And he also disagreed with Hegel’s use of Boehme. For further information on Boehme, here are some other online resources: 1. The Works of Jacob Boehme online [http://www.passtheword.org/Jacob-Boehme/] 2. Boehme Resources [http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~janzb/boehme/] 3. N.A. Berdyaev: “Studies concerning Jacob Boehme” [http://www.berdyaev.com/ berdiaev/berd_lib/1930_349.html]. It should be noted that Berdyaev was influenced by Baader. 4. Edward A. Beach: Jakob Boehme: [http://users.erols.com/nbeach/boehme.html]. B. Boehme’s influence on Jung Jung refers to Boehme even more than Meister Eckhart. Donivan Bessinger has compiled an index of citations of Boehme in Jung’s Collected Works, and this index is also available online.14 In relation to our discussion in Lecture 2 of quaternity and mandalas, it is important to look at what Jung says about these ideas in relation to Boehme. Jung refers to the the mandala in Boehme’s treatise XL Questions concerning the Soule. (Mandala Symbolism p. 5, para 717; reproduced in Study in the Process of Individuation, p. 297 in The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. [CW 9]). Jung says that this is a symbols of the self and also an image of God. In Jung’s reproduction of the image, the following appear at the four corners of the circle: Law, Gospel, Selfe and Resignation. This is not a diagram that can be easily simplified. Note the dark half and the light half of the circle. Note that the light part of the circle also again contains Father, Son and Holy Spirit as the Divine Mysterium. There is a double quaternity. Also note the heart as the place of intersection, the center of a cross. The top part is death, no elements, heaven, Son, Abgrund. The lower part is mysterium, four elements, earth, earthly man, miracle [Wunder] and Abgrund. The left side is Father; all-powerful, fire, the Tincture, demons, and at the lowest point, the eternal hell of the demons. The right side is Soul, Spirit, Image In relation to this mandala, Jung cites Boehme: the triumphing divine Birth lasteth in us men only so long as the flash lasteth; therefore our knowledge is but in part, whereas in God the flash stands unchangeably, always eternally thus. The flash is the “birth of the light.” It is a liberating flash. Boehme also associates lightning with the quaternity: In this connection I would like to mention that Boehme associates lightning with something else too. That is the quaternity, which plays a great role in the
Donivan Bessinger: “Index of citations of Jakob Boehme in the Collected Works of Carl G. Jung,” online at [http://users.aol.com/DoniBess/boehjung.htm]. © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
15 following pictures. When caught and assuaged in the four "qualities" or four "spirits," "the flash, or the light, subsists in the Midst or Center as a Heart. When the light, which stands in the midst or center shines into the four spirits, then the power of the four spirits rises up in the light, and they become living, and love the light; that is, they take it into them, and are impregnated with it." The flash, or stock, or pith, or the heart, which is generated in the powers, remains standing in the midst or center, and that is the son and this is the true Holy Ghost whom we Christians honour and adore for the third person the in the Deity (Mandalas, CW 9, para. 534) Note that Jung himself emphasizes the center as a heart. Jung also refers to Boehme’s mandala in Commentary on the Secret of the Golden Flower, para. 31. “An unmistakable and very interesting mandala can be found in Jakob Böhme’s book XL Questions concerning the Soule.” Boehme calls it the “Philosophical Eye” or the “Mirror of Wisdom.” This mandala a quaternity. It is related to the Trinity, and to the experience of light in the mystical experience of Hildegaard of Bingen (CW 13, para. 31). Jolande Jacobi refers to another Jung mandala: It shows a sinful world of creation, surrounded by the Serpent of Eternity, the Uroboros, and characterized by the four elements and the sins corresponding to them; the whole circle relates to the centre, the weeping eye of God, i.e., the point where salvation, symbolized by the dove of the Holy Ghost, may be achieved by compassion and love.15 But Boehme says that the Uroborus is not something that we are to imitate (“Dialogue of Two Souls,” 140, s.11). He calls it “the essential fire-wheel, a serpent-image, Mercury in Vulcan.” To imitate the Uroborus is to fall into sin. When the Soul saw this she said, “so this is the power of all things! How may I be like this?” The Devil said…Then you will be like the fire-wheel, bringing all things into your power and possessing them. (s. 13) Boehme says that when Eve fell, she attracted to herself the four elements with their essences (s. 17). C. Issues in Jung’s Interpretation of Jakob Boehme Did Jung interpret Boehme correctly? And has Jung in turn been interpreted correctly in what he says about Boehme? In his article “Revisioning Incarnation: Jung on the Relativity of God,”16 John P. Dourley argues that Jung used Boehme in support of these ideas: (1) Our identity with God
Theosophische Werke, (Amsterdam 1682). It is referenced as Plate 9 by Jolande Jacobi in her book, The Psychology of C.G. Jung, (Yale University Press, London, New Haven, 1973). John P. Dourley: “Revisioning Incarnation: Jung on the Relativity of God,” online at [www.jungianstudies.org/publications/dourleyjp1.pdf]. © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
16 (2) That there is evil within God (3) God requires humanity in order to become conscious. We will look at each of these ideas in detail. In each case, we need to ask whether Jung right in his interpretation of Boehme. (1) Identity with God Dourley says that Boehme refers to a moment of identity with the divine, preceding a return to the “very grossest and meanest matter of earth” (Dourley, 18, citing Boehme, The Forty Questions of the Soul and The Clavis, sec. 8). But Boehme denies that Man is identical with God or even Christ: Although God in Christ is born in us, we cannot in any way say, if we speak of the whole man, “I am Christ.” But we can say, “I am in Christ, and Christ has become human in me.”17 In his introduction to Boehme’s The Way to Christ, Rufus M. Jones says, Man can enter into erotic relationship with the Sophia principle–but not with the transcendent Godhead! This is Boehme’s claim: man can know only the divine Kingdom of Forms, the world of divine ideas; but he can never penetrate into the mysterious God “beyond nature and creatures”–the Ungrund. Jones says that for Boehme, fire is not just an agent, but a symbol for the urge for life at the centre of all living reality (p. xxv:). We may draw an analogy to Jung’s idea of libido. The Ungrund is the state of being antecedent to reality and to all duality. It is the coincidentia oppositorum (xxvi). So for Boehme, man is not identical to the state of being antecedent to reality. As we discussed in relation to Meister Eckhart, Jung cannot, if he follows his Kantian principles, speak of God in Himself. We can become identical with the image of God, which is what we were intended to be when we were created in the image of God. Boehme emphasizes that we are the image of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit which dwells with us, and a member of Christ. (The Way to Christ p. 41, “Of True Repentance,” II, para. 1). And Boehme does speak of being in God and God in him. “Christ within us! I yield myself completely to Thee! Do Thou with me as Thou wilt! Amen! (“Of True Repentance,” section 43). But being in Christ and Christ in us does not mean identity with Christ. To say that we are in God implies that God is not identical with us but always exceeds and transcends us. And if we are the instrument of Christ, that does not mean that we are our own instrument. “I do not want to go anywhere else than where Thou mayest lead me as an instrument. Do Thou in and with me as Thou wilt.” And as discussed in relation to Eckhart, even Jung does not accept an identity of Self and God, except in the sense of God-image. A.H. de Hartog: Uren met Jacob Boehme (Baarn: Hollandia Drukkerij, 1915) 170, citing Boehme’s Schutzschriften und Sendbriefe, Boehme’s Werke VII, 145. © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
17 (2) Evil and God Jung sees evil as part of God, part of the divine Quaternity. In Answer to Job, Jung sees the figure of Satan complements Christ. Jung saw the alchemical figure of Mercurius as a compensation for the one-sideness of the symbol of Christ [Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 210] That is why Jung believed that "It is possible for a man to attain totality, to become whole, only with the co-operation of the spirit of darkness..” (“The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairy Tales,” CW 9, para. 453). But in making these statements, Jung is exceeding his own Kantian principles He is making metaphysical statements about what transcends humanity as God-image or reflection. It is certainly true that man as he presently reflects the God-image contains evil. That is what is meant by the fall into sin. But Jung sees evil as equally ultimate with good, and that is a metaphysical statement that is not warranted. As we saw in Lecture 2, Jung had an interest in the evil side of reality even from a young age. Later, his ideas of evil took form around the idea of the privatio boni—that evil is merely an absence of the good. Jung rejected that doctrine, and wanted to emphasize the reality of evil: The naive assumption that the creator of the world is a conscious being must be regarded as a disastrous prejudice which later gave rise to the most incredible dislocation of logic. For example, the nonsensical doctrine of the privatio boni would never have been necessary had one not had to assume in advance that it is impossible for the consciousness of a good God to produce evil deeds. Divine unconsciousness and lack of reflection, on the other hand, enable us to form a conception of God which puts his actions beyond moral judgement and allows no conflict to arise between goodness and beastliness." [Jung, CW 11, para. 600, n. 13] But these statements go far beyond man as image of God, and make metaphysical statements of God in Himself in relation to evil. Towards the end of 1949 Victor White (a priest who was a close friend of Jung’s) criticized something that Jung wrote about the privatio boni that was later included in Aion. White criticized Jung's “quasi-Manichean dualism” and his “somewhat confused and confusing pages.” Jung actually included a reference to White's criticisms in a footnote in the text of Aion. And in a letter to White, he attempted to clarify the problem: The question of Good and Evil, so far as I am concerned with it, has nothing to do with metaphysics; it is only a concern of psychology. I make no metaphysical assertions and even in my heart I am no Neo-Manichean; on the contrary I am deeply convinced of the unity of the self, as demonstrated by the mandala symbolism (Letters, Vol. I, p. 385). Jung was afraid that if evil is looked upon as non-being. In the same letter, he says, “nobody will take his own shadow seriously. The future of mankind very much depends upon the recognition of the shadow. Evil is - psychologically speaking - terribly real. It is a fatal mistake to diminish its power and reality even merely metaphysically. I am sorry, this goes to the very roots of Christianity.” I agree that there is a shadow within humanity, and that that shadow relates to the selfhood (in its © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
18 fallen state). But that is not reason to place evil within God. At times, Jung seems to acknowledge this. He says that he contested the validity of the privatio boni only in the empirical realm. “My attitude to this problem is empirical, not theoretical or aprioristic.” For “in the metaphysical realm…good may be a substance and evil non-existent (me on).”18 Jung seems to suggest there that perhaps God in Himself is pure good and that it is only the God-image that contains evil. And yet other statements that Jung makes seem to go well beyond his empirical principles. Baader is of assistance here. He interprets Boehme differently. God has a dark side, Ungrund. When Boehme speaks of ‘Ungrund,” he means what Kabbalah refers to as Ein Soph.19 But although God has a shadow side, it is eternally kept under God’s control by his will. But God is not responsbile for Man’s misuse of this, and creating temporal evil. Baader’s interpretation of Boehme seems correct, for Boehme denies that God wills evil: God, in so far as He is and is called God, can will no evil; for in God there is only one single will and that is eternal Love–a desire for similar things, as for vital Energy, Beauty and Virtue (The Way to Çhrist, p. 66, “Of True Resignation,” II, para 26). Boehme says that man’s soul and the angels come out of the eternal ground from which Light and darkness arise. Darkness lies in the employment of ego-centric desire, so Light consists in a similar willing with God (Way to Christ, p. 129, “Of the Suprasensual Life,” s. 43). Therefore, it is correct to say that light and darkness both arise from God. But evil is not realized in God, since God wills only love. And the love of God transforms the fire into love: Now the eternal Father begets His Son in you by means of His Fire-might, transforming His Fire into a flame of Love. So now fire and Light are one substance–the true Temple of God (“The Way from Darkness to True Illumination”).20 Boehme does say that God is Darkness and Light, Love and Wrath, Fire and Light. But he calls Himself Light only, according to the Light of His Love (Way to Christ, p. 63, “Of True Resignation,” II, s. 9). Boehme says that mere knowledge of sin and of Christ on the Cross does not make one a Christian (Way to Christ, p. 96, “Of Regeneration,” V, s. 1). He emphasizes importance of
Cited from Foreword, Victor White: God and the Unconscious (Chicago, 1953; republished by Spring Publications, 1982). For the interesting relation between the two men see James Arraj: “Jungian Spirituality: The Qeustion of Victor White,” online at [http://www.spiritualitytoday.org/spir2day/884035arraj.html]. The Correspondence between Jung and White has recently been published: the Jung-White Letters, ed. Ann Conrad Lammers and Adrian Cunningham (London: Routledge, 2007). De Hartog, p. 113. Boehme did have some knowledge of Kabbalah (See Grassl, and Lecture 2 of this series). One translation of this is online at [http://passtheword.org/DIALOGS-FROM-THEPAST/darklite.htm]
© 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
19 experience, and we can see some similarities with the three stages that Jung mentions. When the will surrenders itself into God’s Ground then it sinks beyond itself, beyond all grounds and points of view, into the only place where God is revealed, where He works and wills. Then it has become a no-thing to its own ego-centric will. (Way to Christ, p. 126, “Of the Supersensual Life,” s. 38). So there is an abandoning of our ego, and a letting go, letting God’s will take over. And so on this point, I believe that Dourley is correct in his interpretation of Jung, but that both Dourley and Jung have misinterpreted Boehme. Baader provides a better interpretation, that still has the psychological power of Jung’s stages of individuation, but preserves the transcendence of God, and avoids finding evil within God. (3) Does God require humanity in order to become conscious? This is the other major point where both Dourley and Jung misinterpret Boehme. As discussed above, it is true to say that God in the sense of God-image “becomes” when God is born in our soul. But it does not follow that the transcendent God “depends” on man for consciousness. That idea, which Jung does seem to hold, derives from Hegel, and not from Boehme. Jung says, God wants to be born in the flame of man's consciousness, leaping ever higher. And what if this has no roots in the earth? One must be able to suffer God. That is the supreme task for the carrier of ideas. He must be the advocate of the earth. God will take care of himself. My inner principle is: Deus et homo. God needs man in order to become conscious, just as he needs limitation in time and space. Let us therefore be for him limitation in time and space, an earthly tabernacle (Letter from Jung to W.R. Corti: April 20, 1929). Dourley correctly finds Jung’s idea to be similar to Hegel’s view of God’s self-realization in history. Jung acknowledged affinities with Hegel.21 Baader opposed that viewpoint, and tried to show Boehme’s actual ideas. Baader, who introduced the ideas of Eckhart to Hegel, specifically opposed Hegel’s views and also interpretation of Boehme. Hegel himself comments on this.22 He speaks of Baader’s Gnosis, not philosophy. Hegel both criticizes and praises Baader. He praises Baader for bringing Boehme’s depths to forms. And for setting out Boehme’s idea of creation in accordance with the trinitarian God. But he criticizes Baader, since Baader does not develop his ideas from logical propositions but from images and from given absolutes, like the Trinity, and quaternity. Hegel opposes Baader’s Ternar and pythagoreanism, but also opposes Schelling’s polarity. Hegel says that for Baader, a distinction is not an opposition. For Hegel, everything finite must sublate itself. But, says Grassl, for Baader, everything finite can only sublate itself in something ontologically higher or lower. It is beyond the scope of this lecture to go into this in the detail it deserves. But it is important to realize that there are different interpretations of Boehme, and that Baader provides an alternative to what Jung says. Unlike Hegel and Schelling, Baader is not monistic. His theosophy is also not Gnostic, so it is not world flight, but an active working in the world. With respect to evil, Dourley cites Jung’s letter to Joseph F. Rychlak, April 27, 1959, C.G. Jung, Letters, Vol. 2, 502
Hegel: Enzyklopädie der philospohischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse (1830), p. 16.
© 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
20 Baader says that there are two quaternities: the divine and the human. We must not confuse the two if we want to avoid pantheism. And for Baader, teleology is not just a logical category, but a purpose for creation. If we understand our center in the ground, we take part in the continuing creative process of God. Dourley interprets Boehme to refer to an unconscious God creating consciousness in order to Himself become conscious in it. He thinks that Boehme speaks of a divinity that cannot reconcile opposites and is forced to create consciousness as the sole way of perceiving the divine contradicition and respond to divinity’s plea to resolve its conflicted life in humanity. Divinity is then dependent on ego. Dourley sees this as the opus of alchemy. Alchemy makes God progressively more conscious or incarnate in humanity But this confuses the God –image with God in Himself. It confuses the human quaternity with the divine quaternity. Jung and Dourley are wrong in their interpretation. Boehme specifically denies that God needed to create in order to perfect himself: For God has not brought forth the creation, that he should be thereby perfect, but for his own manifestation, viz. for the great joy and glory; not that this joy first began with the creation, no, for it was from eternity in the great mystery, yet only as a spiritual melody and sport in itself. (“De Signatura Rerum” [The Signature of All Things], Chapter XVI, s. 2).23 There is thus no pantheistic identification of God and world in Boehme. Baader, who is known for his interpretation of Boehme, opposed pantheism. Es its Pantheismus, wenn man die eigene Entfaltung (Dreifaltung) der Einheit mit dem Schaffungsact zusammenfallen lässt (“Des err.,” Werke 12, 154). Man kann wohl sagen: Alles ist Gott, aber nicht: Gott ist Alles. (“Espr.,” Werke 12, 339). In other words, we can assert panentheism (that all is in God) without asserting pantheism (that everything is God). Baader says that pantheism results when we confuse the dynamic relation in God with the act of creation (Werke 12, 154 and 339). He says that the sum of all creation does not constitute a creator, as pantheists think. The Center is not the sum of all the periphery-points [Peripherie-Punkte], but stands as essence [Inbegriff ] over them (Begründung 63 fn. 7). There is to be union and not confusion between creature and Creator (Werke I, 203). The immanence or inexistence of all things in God must not be understood as a pantheistic identity of all things with God (Werke 8, 241; 14, 31, 70). The Christian doctrine of immanence, in contrast to the pantheistic doctrine of identity is a teaching of acting, willing and knowing in God (Werke 5, 252). The joy before creation shows that there is embodiment even within God. There is a difference between the Center of God and God’s expression in the divine nature. Boehme does say, “In his depth [Ungrund], God himself does not know what he is. For he knows no beginning, and also nothing like himself, and also no end. . . .” (Aurora , ch. 23, s. 17). But Baader makes Boehme’s
Cited by de Hartog, p, 146. A translation of this is online at [http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/sat/index.htm]. I have cited from the edition The Signature of All Things (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1912), p. 223.
© 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
21 meaning clear: this embodiment and divine knowledge is within the divine quaternity. It does not depend on the creation of man or the world. Grassl says that for Baader there is no becoming in the Godhead but only the birth, and no pantheism, because the Ternar is completely fulfilled in itself. and can only be thought in analogies, in relation to human self-consciousness. Both Jung and Baader quote from Angelus Silesius (1624-77), but with different interpretations regarding this issue of the dependence of God on man. Jung says, I know that without me God can no moment live; Were I to die, then He No longer could survive. (Jung: Psychological Types, CW 6, para. 432) Baader quotes the same passage from Silesius in Fermenta Cognitionis II, 22 (Werke II, 229): Ich kann ohn’ Gott, Gott ohne mich nicht leben, Stürb ich, so würd’ Er gleich auch Seinen Geist aufgeben!24 Baader says that this refers not to the immanent life of God [God as He is in Himself], but to the common life that he leads with the creature [God as present in our lives, our nature as image of God]. This can be interpreted along the lines of what Jung says about the relation being with the God-image, and not God in Himself. IV. Philosophy, Empiricism and Metaphysics Some people may object that these lectures have been too philosophical. Wasn’t Jung really only concerned to show the empirical results of his investigations, and the dreams and images that he found to be healing for his analysands? It is true that Jung wanted his psychology to be regarded as an empirical science. He was reluctant to refer to his mysticism for fear of jeopardizing his reputation as a scientist.25 And he denies that his ideas are philosophical:
In a footnote, Baader’s editor Franz Hoffmann indicates that Baader must have been writing from memory, since he slightly misquotes it. The original reads Ich weiss, daß ohne mich Gott nicht ein Nun kann leben: Werd’ ich zunicht, er muss von Not den Geist aufgeben. In his French translation of Fermenta Cognitionis, E. Susini translates this as Je ne peut vivre sans Dieu, et Dieu ne peut vivre sans moi Si je mourais il rendrait l’âme immediatement In a discussion with Paul Brunton, Jung said in 1937 that he could not admit his mysticism in order to preserve his scientific reputation. See my lectures “Jung, Ramana Maharshi and Eastern Meditation,” [http://www.members.shaw.ca/cgjung/JungRamana.html].
© 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
22 Meine Begriffe bezeichnen Erfahrungs gruppen oder Einzel tatsachen. Es sind naturwissenschaftliche , keine philosophischen Begriffe. An und für sich sind sie inhaltlos - im Gegensatz zu den philosophischen Begriffen, die identisch sind mit dem, was sie sagen. Weshalb auch heute, mit Verlaub, viele Philosophien nur noch Wortklaubereien sind. Wörter wie 'Elefant' oder 'Archetypus' sind aber weder ein logischer Schluss noch eine Behauptung noch ein subjektives Urteil. Sie suggerieren gar nichts; wenn ich das ihnen zugrunde liegende Phänomen nicht kenne, sind sie sinnlose Lautkombinationen.26 [My ideas signify classes of experience or single facts. They are ideas from the natural sciences and not philosophy. In and of themselves these ideas have no content–in contrast to philosophical ideas, which are identical with what they say. And that is why, even today, if I may say so, many philosophers are merely engaged in hair-splitting. However, a word like ‘elephant’ or ‘archetype’ is neither a logical conclusion, nor an assertion, nor a subjective judgment. They suggest absolutely nothing; if I do not know the phenomenon on which they are based, they are meaningless combinations of sounds.] Now there are many objections that could be made to what Jung says here about philosophical statements referring only to themselves. We would usually classify such statements as ‘analytic.’ So if Jung’s point is that non-analytic statements must refer to something in reality besides logic, his statement would be unobjectionable. But he wants to distinguish his work from a speculative kind of metaphysics that does not relate to empirical reality. Although it might have been possible to make the distinction between empiricism and metaphysics when Jung was writing, many would challenge that distinction today. My own view is that any science, and any empirical or analytic work, is not possible without some philosophical assumptions. For science depends on ideas about the nature of reality, of being, of how being relates to value, of ideas about the nature of time, of the nature of our true selfhood, and the nature of ultimate reality, of God. The real issue is whether or not we are conscious of our assumptions. Jungians should not be afraid to admit the metaphysical, and indeed the religious basis of their work. In fact, Jung himself acknowledged the importance of philosophy—particularly that of Kant.27 Jung was influenced by Kant’s ideas of numinosity and of the thing in itself. He took over Kant’s idea that we cannot know the thing in itself, but only the phenomenon; in his psychology, this means that we do not directly know the unconscious or the Self, but only by their effects.28 “Since we cannot possibly know the boundaries of something unknown to us, it follow that we are not in a position to set bounds to the self,” (CW 12, s. 247). And “Nothing is known regarding the self, because it is a transcendental hypothesis,” (CW 7, s. 405).
C. G. Jung im Gespräch mit Georg Gerster, in: Georg Gerster: Aus der Werkstatt des Wissens. 1. Folge.(Frankfurt am Main: Ullstein Buch Nr. 73, 1962, 9-10). Jung was probably more influenced by Kant’s book on Swedenborg, Visions of a Poet Seer, than by Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. “I am not at all convinced that the unconscious mind is merely my mind, because the term "unconscious" means that I am not even conscious of it.” (“Psychological commentary on the Tibetan book of the dead,” CW 11). © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
23 Now I personally believe that Kant’s philosophy causes more problems than it solves. Baader gave a strong critique of Kant, and argued strongly against Kant’s autonomous use of reason.29 Arraj says that Jung’s adherence to Kantianism was the basis for his belief that we cannot know the archetype in itself. This is why Jung seemed to have a huge need for examples of archetypes in alchemy. His works are full of far too many examples for the points he wants to make. From the point of view of his own methodology the phenomena could never fully grasp the archetype. There remained, then, a hunger for a deeper and fuller contact that could only be assuaged, and only momentarily, by more and more examples and manifestations of the underlying archetypal reality. In short, there may well be in Jung's historical explorations of alchemy an element of inefficacious desire to explore the foundations of the archetypes in themselves. This seems to be the best explanation of Jung's statement about his culminating work on alchemy: “In Mysterium Coniunctionis my psychology was at last given its place in reality and established upon its historical foundations. Thus my task was finished, my work done, and now it can stand. The moment I touched bottom, I reached the bounds of scientific understanding, the transcendental, the nature of the archetype per se, concerning which no further scientific statements can be made.”30 James Heisig says the same thing in reference to Mysterium Coniunctionis: …if one examines the original draft of the work, one discovers, incredibly enough, that by itself it would have made a relatively short book: a nucleus of basic concepts tied together logically, in the form of a hypothetical construct.31 In any event, Jung was not consistent in his Kantianism. He spoke of a plurality of noumena– that there are many things in themselves (See Kundalini, 10). But my point here is that Jung himself sometimes refers to philosophy, and so his distinction between empirical facts and philosophy is not a watertight distinction. Furthermore, Jung’s own ideas are related to metaphysical concepts. We can see this in his ideas of synchronicity, enantiadromia and the guidance of the Self, Christ, the God-image within us. Jung’s idea of the Self was derived in 1921 from the Hindu Upanishads (Psychological Types (1921), CW 6, para 330-357). And in 1929 he said that science should not be over-estimated: “Science is not indeed a perfect instrument, but it is a superb and invaluable tool that works harm only when it is taken as an end in itself.” (“Secret of the Golden Flower,” CW 13, para. 2). See J. Glenn Friesen, “The Mystical Dooyeweerd: The Relation of his thought to Franz von Baader,” Ars Disputandi (2003), [http://www.arsdisputandi.org/publish/articles/000088/ index.html] James Arraj: St. John of the Cross and Dr. C.G. Jung: Christian mysticism in the light of Jungian Psychology, Chapter 2, “ A Typology of the Sciences,” online at [http://www.innerexplorations.com/catjc/st.htm]. James W. Heisig: Imago Dei: A Study of C.G. Jung’s Psychology of Religion (New Jersey: Associated University Presses, 1979), 108. © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
31 30 29
24 In his later work, Jung was less concerned about empirical investigations of the dreams and images of his analysands. He turned to explorations of philosophical themes. Bair says that even if his theory began empirically, the work that ultimately emerged was far more philosophical than scientific: There is a clearly discernible trend in his writings from mid-decade [1930’s] onward, as he recounts fewer and fewer of his patients personal problems and his own technical methods of dealing with them. More and more, he directs his attention toward the nonpersonal, the objective, the psychic, and all those concepts he would eventually gather under the rubric of the Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious (Bair 395). Bair says that Joseph Henderson was among the first to recognize that, by 1934, Jung’s seminars …no longer contained case material at all, but were concerned with analysis of the philosophy of Nietzsche and the study of eastern religions, general mythology, and folklore. This change of interest was, of course, no sudden thing, nor did it take him away from his therapeutic tasks; he was still Dr. Jung to the many patients who came from all over the world to consult him. But in ten years time, the change had become very obvious to all who knew him. (Bair, 395, citing Henderson). We therefore must conclude that Jung is much more philosophical than he sometimes claimed to be. And if he refers to philosophers and mystics like Boehme and Eckhart in support of his psychology, then we need to examine whether he has interpreted his sources correctly. An examination of these sources will also help to counteract some of the false popularizations of Jung. For example, those who claim that Jung was a Gnostic fail to distinguish Jung’s very different views from Gnosticism’s attempt to flee from the world. And those who claim to follow Jung’s ideas of individuation when all they are doing is advocating individualism and eccentricity will be helped by an examination of the philosophical underpinnings of Jung’s ideas. V. Conclusion We have worked backwards from Jung’s ideas, to Franz von Baader’s Christian theosophy, and to the source of these ideas in Western mysticism, alchemy and to Jakob Boehme and Meister Eckhart in particular. Lecture 1 dealt with the issue of individuation in relation to the philosophy of totality. Lecture 2 dealt with Jung and Franz von Baader, whose Christian theosophy encouraged this interest in totality, as well as in keeping alive the traditions of Boehme and Eckhart. And Lecture 3 has dealt with Jung in relation to both Boehme and Eckhart. In making these comparisons we also saw how theosophy differs from Gnosticism. So where do we go from here? • These lectures have shown the relation of Jung’s psychology to the Western mystical traditions. My other lectures have shown the relation of his psychology to certain Eastern mystical traditions. Jung’s psychology is mystical, although not in a world-denying sense. • Without the idea of the selfhood as transcendent and supratemporal, it is not possible to understand Jung’s psychology. The philosophy of totality is helpful in interpreting what Jung means by the Self as a totality of conscious and unconscious. © 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
25 • Individuation is not individualism, but a relation to our true Self. • Individuation involves moving from our individual ego to a transpersonal “being lived by” the Self. • The archetypes can be interpreted as either a movement towards the instinctual or as a progressive movement towards goals that fulfill our true selfhood. Jung is unclear on this very important point. • Although Jung uses Gnostic terminology, his psychology is not Gnostic. He does not seek to flee from temporal reality, but to transform temporal reality by relating it to the transcendent selfhood. It his helpful to see how Jung is more related to Christian theosophy and Christian Kabbalah, both of which also sought to transform temporal reality. • Franz von Baader can help to show us the historical sources and meaning of many of Jung’s ideas, including his emphasis on alchemy and quaternity. Baader’s Christian theosophy is distinct from other kinds of theosophy, and it is also distinct from Gnosticism. • Christian Kabbalah is also helpful in showing how Jung’s ideas are not Gnostic. • Jung’s idea of quaternity varies between a 3 + 1 structure, which is more closely related to Baader and Boehme, and a structure of 4 equally important members. The second interpretation does not have as much depth, and misses the fact that the fourth is on a different level than the other three. This is important not only for Jung’s Theory of Types, but also for his interpretation of mandalas, and of religious dogmas like the Trinity. Boehme’s idea of the Godhead as the Center of the Trinity, which was taken over by Baader’s idea of a Center expressing itself in a periphery, helps us to understand the origins of the 3 + 1 structure. • Meister Eckhart and Jakob Boehme and were important influences on Jung. Jung’s emphasis on the mystical “identity with God” must be interpreted not in relation to God in Himself, but rather in relation to the God-image, our own selfhood as image of God. Jung specifically rejects the idea that we are identical to God in Himself. He acknowledges a distinction between Godhead and God, and between God and God-image. But he is not always clear, and sometimes confuses God’s eternity with the supratemporality of the God-image, our true selfhood. Jung’s Kantian principles prevent him from speaking at all of God in Himself. Although such a Kantian attempt to avoid metaphysics is itself something that can be criticized, it does demonstrate that Jung did not believe he was making statements about God in Himself, or our pantheistic identity with God in Himself. • But it is questionable whether Jung properly interpreted Eckhart and Boehme them regarding (1) his idea that evil is contained within God and (2) God’s dependence on man in order to become conscious. Both of these misunderstandings arise from Jung’s failure to distinguish the divine quaternity from the human quaternity. In any event, these misinterpretations are cases where Jung fails to live up to his Kantian ideas, and makes metaphysical statements–statements that I believe are incorrect. • If we are to understand him correctly, a close reading is required of both Jung and of his mystical and alchemical sources.
© 2008 J. Glenn Friesen
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