The day is still Jung

Santa Fe sky after the thunder

by cheri block

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hot (low 90’s) Thunderbumpers and rain in the late afternoon.

Today, we will be discussing two chapters from Carl Jung’s Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Chapters 9 (Analytical Psychology)and 10 (The Modern Spiritual Problem).

From Chapter 10:

While man still lives as a herd-being he has no ‘things of the spirit’ of his own; nor does he need any, save the usual belief in the immortality of the soul. But as soon as he has outgrown whatever local form of religion he was born to–as soon as this religion can no longer embrace his life in all its fullness–then the psyche becomes something in its own right which cannot be dealt with by the measures of the Church alone. It is for this reason that we of today have a psychology founded on experience, and not upon articles of faith or the postulates of any philosophical system. The very fact that we have such a psychology is to me symptomatic of a profound convulsion of spiritual life.

Your take on this paragraph?

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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16 Responses to The day is still Jung

  1. Why must spirituality be equated with religion? Is psyche really different from soul or just another unreligious name for it?
    Rites and rituals are crutches for a shaky psyche or soul. Spirituality can be a stand alone structure deeply rooted in one’s self and her/his respect for other humans and Nature.
    Could be a Pagan concept but, hey, I’m half Greek.

  2. Cyberquill says:

    My take on this paragraph is that someone should translate it into, you know, like, English or something.

  3. Phil says:

    “……Your take on this paragraph…..?”

    It needs to be “felt” rather than intellectualised and “explained”.

    Once “felt”, it explains itself.

  4. @Phil: This para seems to fall into the category of “speed-bump” writing that you favor (a propos Wolfe Hall). Ie, Jung slows us down, make it hard, so that only those readers stick around who are dedicated enough.

    If I were to translate into plain English:

    1) get old, outgrow church
    2) form own ideas, based on your life
    3) = “convulsion”, ie spiritual anything-goes culture

    Not very profound, in isolation. But then it’s one para in one chapter.

  5. I just wish the last sentence would become more of a reality because it seems to me that most people around the world are content with being “herd-beings.” Or else they’ve replaced their herd religion with striving for material gain.

  6. Richard says:

    Terrific photograph. I keep going back to it.

  7. Pingback: Protecting their Jung « Notes from Around the Block

  8. Dear Cheri,

    I wish I were with you.

    I am presently reading The Place of Myth in Modern Life by James Hollis and I see how for me myth carries both in my institutional religion and outside, too. I would feel dead to my life if my days were confined only to the practical and mundane parts of religion.

    If I believe, and I do, that I foster some form of helping agent to the Devine turning of the universal wheel than my life, my religion, my existence has meaning and I am living the symbolic life: the only life I truly wish to live.

    • Cheri says:

      Boy, MJ, I sure wish you were here so you could help me understand all I am hearing.

      Spent 2 hours discussing Jung’s lecture on The Archaic Man.

  9. Ah, Cheri,

    There is something to be said for understanding Jung through the brilliant writings of another, thus I go to Jim Hollis. That’s not to say I don’t have Jung’s complete Collected Works, but Jung’s writing style is very stream of consciousness and that can make immediate comprehension somewhat challenging even for aficionados.

    In the mid eighties I began my studies of Jung and for two years carried The Portable Jung around in my purse reading it again and again. One day, I got it, simply got it and then entered someone who thought she had found a way to digest moon cheese.

    Have a wonderful experience, dear Cheri.

  10. Cheri says:

    Moon cheese?
    What is that?

  11. You always leave my heart uplifted, Cheri. I’m laughing over here.

    My statement about moon cheese is only that ‘someone’ (and we won’t say for sure who that is) simply got too big for her own hat.

  12. zeusiswatching says:

    Well, Jung is talking about two different but related things (and in his day and place much more inter-related), the place of faith in the culture (society at large) of the individual, and the role of faith as it develops (hopefully), in the individual. By faith I am referring to what is either contained and made manifest in a revealed religion or not contained (some would say “constrained”) or lived through a doctrinal system of belief and practices.

    On the culture and society part of this, we are living in a very new era — only a few centuries old — when the religious affiliation of the individual is not thought necessarily the religion of the ruling authority. Bear in mind that this very new era is still rather peculiar to North Americans and Europeans. There is some change towards this in other regions, but in much of the world, the religion of the ruler is the religion expected to be followed by the ruled. Religious minorities and free thinkers are often accorded a de facto, often a de jure different status.

    Historically, the people’s patriarchal figure (e.g. Abraham) defined the people and to such an extent that the patriarch of the clan, leader of the tribes, etc. defined the religious beliefs and experiences and those beliefs were absolutely a part of a people’s shared identity. As time went on and people became more urbanized and settled on the land, those patriarchs became Kings and their control and their functions as protectors and active, living symbols of society, including the exercise of the offices of the revealed religion made these kings archetypes of their peoples (e.g. David). It was seen as the responsibility of the rulers, more than just the rights of the kings, to insure that the souls and bodies of their people were firmly united and connected in whatever way was deemed theologically correct, to the deities of the tribe, now the kingdom. To depart from those beliefs was to invite the wrath of the gods and risk unhinging kingdoms that were tightly bound to their ruler — defy the religious identity and deny the very archetype of one’s existence. This applied to the King as well as the subject (examples being, Amenhotep IV and Saul).

    The religious syncretism of the Grecco-Roman world was a manifestation of that melding of diverse peoples into that one great Roman tribe (symbolized by the Roman Emperor). The Maccabean stand against that syncretism was the stand of a single people within that world against assimilation, thus a loss of both gods and identity as a tribe become a nation, was a manifestation of that same phenomenon.

    Whatever individual faith development takes place in such a society takes place within the strict confines of that system of king, people, cultural identity as a unified one, of which the state religion is a hugely important component. The state, the church and the people are one. That one might deepen in faith, manifest aspects of that faith, expound upon that faith, transcend the normal believer are all fine and good, but to depart is deeply disturbing.

    To the extent that it still existed, in modified form for sure, that type of system largely vanishes from the broader Western World with disestablishment in North America’s fledgling nation at the end of the 18th Century (Jefferson, Madison, Monroe take Locke’s Letter Concerning Religious Tolerance to the max), the secularization (eventually de-facto) of the state in France in the last quarter of the 19th Century, and the overthrow of the Russian Crown in 1917. I am not suggesting that there are not strong vestiges of the ancient system, but the system is largely and probably permanently gone from the world-view and mindset of Westerners.

    Jung lived and was writing at the tail end of this long era. He saw people of his land molded by religion as a function of state or society and families acting as types of mini-states and societies and that the religion of the group was that of the group’s limited or restrictive understanding of what life should be about — outside of that understanding was only whatever was wrong. To be a free thinker or a non-believer, or to convert to another faith based group was to leave not only the denomination, but the entire community. Pressure, be it by law or otherwise, was always brought to bear upon the individual to stay within the revealed religion, thus retain the individual’s identity with the group.

    Today, we generally see Jung’s ideas and Jung’s observations as no threat. Religion, spirituality, faith, are understood as first the decision of the individual in matters of both belief and maintenance of whatever observances. Families, small towns, others, may not like or approve, but they don’t have too either. The survival of the people isn’t assumed to be tied into the universal adherence to religious practice and a manifestation and tool for the preservation of society. Bigots still exist, people still don’t understand or want to accept the possibility that another’s creed may actually be just as salvific, or that salvation and creed are not paired so tightly, but those are individual or small group prejudices frowned upon by law and society rather than the other way around.

    Jung was a pioneer in understanding the psychology of religion and personal faith, but he is not a good place to rest one’s understanding. Much has changed and Jung was not really a part of that change either. In fact, I think he was trapped in his own baggage about revealed religion, and what he thought of the revealed religion of his former mentor.

    A better place to establish a foundation for one’s own working model of modern Western faith, spirituality, religious development is probably James Fowler’s “Stages of Faith” theory. I was introduced to this model in a course on adult development in college and I still refer back to it as a useful framework for discussion today.

    Fowler doesn’t need to shroud anything in mysterious words or give room to rancor.

  13. Cheri says:

    I so enjoyed this comment (which should be a post on your blog!) The historical story you tell here, although general, helps me move along the time line to Carl Jung.

    Thank you for taking your time to write this and send the link (which I will have to read when I get home).

    The discussion yesterday ended with questions and opinions about a new monasticism ( similar to Nietzsche’s call for a new way to go spiritually) that Jung seemed to be calling for.

    ” Man standing at the edge of the void…”

    But as for your comment about Jung’s mentor, most felt that Freud was devoid of religious/spiritual thought.

    I think Freud was a darn good realist ( at least that’s what I got from Civilization and Its Discontents…

  14. zeusiswatching says:

    Freud was probably an atheist, but remember, to Jung the religious background of Freud seemed very important. I think Freud is still worthy of study. He was essentially a philosopher moving a discipline of philosophy into the medical field.

    Sometimes, especially when I haven’t been blogging, I just have to type too much:)

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