Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Jung and the Self

The following is taken from here:

The self is the most important personality archetype and also the most difficult to understand. Jung has called the self the central archetype, the archetype of psychological order and the totality of the personality. The self is the archetype of centeredness. It is the union of the conscious and the unconscious that embodies the harmony and balance of the various opposing elements of the psyche. The self directs the functioning of the whole psyche in an integrated way. According to Jung, "[C]onscious and unconscious are not necessarily in opposition to one another, but complement one another to form a totality, which is the self" (1928b, p. 175). Jung discovered the self archetype only after his investigations of the other structures of the personality.

The self is depicted in dreams or images impersonally (as a circle, mandala, crystal, or stone) or personally (as a royal couple, a divine child, or some other symbol of divinity). Great spiritual teachers, such as Christ, Muhammed, and Buddha, are also symbols for the self. These are all symbols of wholeness, unification, reconciliation of polarities, and dynamic equilibrium--the goals of the individuation process (Edinger, 1996).

Jung explains the function of the self: The ego receives the light from the Self. Though we know of this Self, yet it is not known.... Although we receive the light of consciousness from the Self and although we know it to be the source of our illumination, we do not know whether it possesses anything we would call consciousness.... If the Self could be wholly experienced, it would be a limited experience, whereas in reality its experience is unlimited and endless.... If I were one with the Self I would have knowledge of everything, I would speak Sanskrit, read cuneiform script, know the events that took place in pre-history be acquainted with the life of other planets, etc. (1975, pp.194-195)

The self is a deep, inner, guiding factor, which can seem to be quite different, even alien, from the ego and consciousness. "The self is not only the centre, but also the whole circumference which embraces both conscious and unconscious; it is the centre of this totality, just as the ego is the centre of consciousness" (1936b, p. 41). It may first appear in dreams as a tiny, insignificant image, because the self is so unfamiliar mid undeveloped in most people. The development of the self does not mean that the ego is dissolved. The ego remains the center of consciousness, an important structure within the psyche. It becomes linked to the self as the result of the long, hard work of understanding and accepting unconscious processes.


Edinger, E. (1996). The Aion lectures. Toronto: Inner City Books.

Jung, Carl. The relations between the ego and the Unconscious. In Collected works (Vol. 7). (Originally published, 1928b.)

------. Individual dream symbolism in relation to alchemy. In Collected works (Vol. 12). (Originally published, 1936b.)

-------. (1975). Letters, Vol. 11: 1951-61. (G. Adler, Ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

A Statement of Faith

Here is a 'Statement of Faith' that my wife and I put together recently in response to "A Brief and Simple Statement of the Reformed Faith" by B.B. Warfield:

1. The Bible is full of inspirations from God and helps show us the way to live a good life, wisely and skillfully.

2. God is good and created all things and the Holy Spirit is in all things. God makes himself known through nature, wildlife, music, art, ordinary people, saints, Jesus, and other individuals.

3. Because God created all things, the universe is inherently good.

4. Because God created all things, man is inherently good. However, we are ‘sinners’ in that we get lost in selfishness (anger, greed, fear, delusion, and so on).

5. We seek to uncover our inherent goodness by putting God first in our lives. The Prayer of St. Francis is helpful: “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. …”

6. God’s grace is always available. At each moment, we can choose God’s righteousness, peace and love rather than our own sinful nature. For example, we can choose to give thanks and to forgive others. And we can choose to stand up for what is right and good and true.

7. Christ shows the way, the truth and the light. He can be our way-shower, walking side-by-side with us each step of the way. He can redeem us and lead us out of darkness. Note - we are using 'Christ' in the post-Easter sense that Marcus Borg uses.

8. God’s love was so strong that it manifested through Jesus who died for all of us. Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

9. The Holy Spirit is in all things.

10. We can be redeemed by surrendering. As we surrender more and more, then through prayer, meditation, reading, fellowship, and so on, Christ, working within us, will reform our thoughts, speech and actions. The Jesus prayer is helpful: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

11. Good works follow from uncovering and releasing our own inherent goodness, the “Christ within” (peace, love, joy, understanding, forgiveness, and so on).

12. We need the help of others to guide and support us as we develop our own personal relationship with Christ. In return we are called to help others in any way we can.

13. God will not leave us, even after death. Life is eternal and all those we love, and who love us, cannot be separated even by death.

As you can see, the language is very different than that used by Warfield and the theology is also different, although there is also much agreement. We could probably add to this but it is a point-by-point contemplation of what Warfield wrote.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Tradition: To be part of a community that tells these stories and sings these songs

The liberal religious author and scholar Marcus Borg wrote in 1993:
When I was a child, I thought that being a Christian was about "believing," and belief was no problem. When I was an adolescent and young adult, I struggled with trying to believe, and finally was no longer able to do so. Now I see that it is not a question of belief, and there is much that I do not believe. I do not believe that Christianity is the only way of salvation, or that the Bible is the revealed will of God, or that Jesus was the unique Son of God. Rather, I now see that the Christian tradition—including its claims about Jesus—is not something to be believed, but something to be lived in. I see that Bible and the tradition as "icons," mediators of the sacred. The point is not to believe them, but to be in relationship to that which they mediate: God, the Spirit, the sacred. My own journey has thus been "beyond belief." It has moved from belief through doubt and disbelief to relationship. For me, to be a Christian is to be part of a community that tells these stories and sings these songs. It feels like home. Read More

This is a new concept for me - a middle ground between total acceptance of tradition and total rejection of it. I like it.

I took an online quiz called "Which theologian are you?" which concluded that I had views similar to Charles Finney. On the quiz, I strongly agreed with the following two statements:
1. Good preaching is more important than good theology.
2. The best way of expressing our love and unity with God is by music.
I guess another to put this is that how my heart feels is at least as important as what my head thinks when it comes to participating in a church.