Archetypes Touched upon Again

Below is a collection of quotes from C.G. Jung’s Autobiography, Dreams, Memories, Reflections. The quote speak about the concept of the archetype (patterns of behavior/thought, and they mythological symbols and tales deriving from our unconscious mind, the collective unconscious), in its relation to self-development, religion, structure of the unconscious/psyche, and more.

Jung dreams memories reflection

“The figures from the unconscious are uninformed too, and need man, or contact with consciousness, in order to attain to knowledge.”

“There does seem to be unlimited knowledge present in nature, it is true, but it can be comprehended by consciousness only when the time is ripe for it. The process, presumably, is like what happens in the individual psyche: a man may go about for many years with an inkling of something, but grasps it clearly only at a particular moment.”

“If anyone is inclined to believe that any aspect of the nature of things is changed by such formulations, he is being extremely credulous about words. The real facts do not change, whatever names we give them. Only we ourselves are affected. If one were to conceive of “God” as “pure Nothingness,” that has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact of a super-ordinate principle. We are just as much possessed as before; the change of name has removed nothing at all from reality. At most we have taken a false attitude toward reality if the new name implies a denial. On the other hand, a positive name for the unknowable has the merit of putting us into a corresponding positive attitude. If, therefore, we speak of “God” as an “archetype,” we are saying nothing about His real nature but are letting it be known that “God” already has a place in that part of our psyche which is pre-existent to consciousness and that he therefore cannot be considered an invention of consciousness. We neither make Him more remote nor eliminate Him, but bring Him closer to the possibility of being experienced. This latter circumstance is by no means unimportant, for a thing which cannot be experienced may easily be suspected of non-existence. This suspicion is so inviting that so-called believers in God see nothing but atheism [in this view] (Jung’s) to reconstruct the primitive unconscious psyche, or Gnosticism, anything but a psychic reality like the unconscious. If the unconscious is anything at all, it must consist of earlier evolutionary stages of our conscious psyche. The assumption that man in his whole glory was created on the sixth day of Creation, without any preliminary stages, is after all somewhat too simple and archaic to satisfy us nowadays. There is pretty general agreement on that score. In regard to the psyche, however, the archaic conception holds on tenaciously: the psyche has no antecedents, is a tabula rasa, arises anew at birth, and is only what it imagines itself to be.”

“What I feel to be the resultant of my ancestors’ lives, or a karma acquired in a previous personal life, might perhaps equally well be an impersonal archetype which today presses hard on everyone and has taken a particular hold upon me – an archetype such as, for example, the development over the centuries of the divine triad and its confrontation with the feminine principle; or the still pending answer to the Gnostic question as to the origin of evil, or, to put it another way, the incompleteness of the Christian god-image.”

“The mandala is an archetypal image whose occurrence is attested throughout the ages. It signifies the wholeness of the self. This circular image represents the wholeness of the psychic ground or, to put it in mythic terms, the divinity incarnate in man… The modern ones strive for unity; they represent a compensation of the psychic cleavage, or anticipation that the cleavage will be surmounted. Since the process takes place in the collective unconscious, it manifests itself everywhere. The worldwide stories of the UFOs are evidence of that; they are the symptom of a universally present psychic disposition.”

“Prohibited through it may be from an objective point of view to make statements out of the blue – that is, without sufficient reason – there are nevertheless some statements which apparently have to be made without objective reasons. The justification here is a psychodynamic one, of the sort usually termed subjective and regarded as a purely personal matter. But that is to commit the mistake of failing to distinguish whether the statement really proceeds only from an isolated subject, and is prompted by exclusively personal motives, or whether it occurs generally and springs from a collectively present dynamic pattern. In that case, it should not be classed as subjective, but as psychologically objective, since an indefinite number of individuals find themselves prompted by an inner impulse to make an identical statement, or feel a certain view to be a vital necessity. Since the archetype is not just an inactive form, but a real force charged with a specific energy, it may very well be regarded as the causa efficiens of such statements, and be understood as the subject of them. In other words, it is not the personal human being who is making the statement, but the archetype speaking through him. If these statements are stifled or disregarded, both medical experience and common knowledge demonstrate that psychic troubles are in store. These will appear either as neurotic symptoms or, in the case of persons who are incapable of neurosis, as collective delusions.”

Archetypal statements are based upon instinctive preconditions and have nothing to do with reason; they are neither rationally grounded nor can they be banished by rational arguments. They have always been part of the world scene – representations collectives, as Levy-Bruhl rightly called them. Certainly, the ego and its will have a great part to play in life; but what the ego wills is subject in the highest degree to the interference, in ways of which the ego is usually unaware, of the autonomy and numinosity of archetypal processes. Practical consideration of these processes is the essence of religion, insofar as religion can be approached from a psychological point of view.”

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