“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Uncovering the Unconscious: Towards an Integral Psychology

Introduction

As Jungians well know, the movements of the soul tend to manifest in polarities:

[A]ll the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble. They must be so, for they express the necessary polarity inherent in every self-regulating system. They can never be solved, but only outgrown.[1]

The most obvious such polarity for a living being is that between birth and death: to be born is already to be dying. Fractal-like, we experience the paradox of death in miniature each day in the cycle of waking and sleeping. The quality of our waking consciousness depends upon how well we have slept the night before. So too does it depend upon how well we have integrated the looming inevitability of death. Balancing these and other polarities is essential to the health of the rational ego, which must sink into dreams and darkness each evening in order to arise again refreshed in the morning.  

Shakespeare and Jung are in agreement that the soul’s mysteries are ungraspable by the intellect alone: “We are such stuff/As dreams are made on, and our little life/Is rounded with a sleep.”[2] Of course, neuroscientific inquiry has suggested that sleep and dreams may serve certain important functions in the brain; and while the veil of death may be impenetrable from within the horizon of our personal consciousness, biology has revealed its crucial role in the evolution of species. Still, it must be conceded that the strange facts of sleep and death conceal greater secrets than the scientific method alone can reveal. The nature of the psyche is largely hidden from the bright light of Reason, and in its errant search for a mechanical explanation of its own existence, the rational ego finds many of its own projections reflected back at it. 

“The hypothesis of the unconscious,” writes Jung, “puts a large question mark after the idea of the psyche.”[3]Philosophers had for many centuries assumed that the structure and function of the soul was already known in every detail, but as the nineteenth century came to a close, the burgeoning discipline of psychology began to reveal a far more complex and even irrational subterranean source of conscious processes. Rather than working with the static and compartmentalized model of the soul constructed by Scholastic thinkers, Jung was forced both by his personal descent into the depths as well as by his experience as a clinician to develop a dynamic, living relationship with psychic processes. 

As his practice matured, Jung came to realize that the soul is not merely a scientific object; it is also what makes any such objectification possible in the first place: “every science is a function of the psyche, and all knowledge is rooted in it.”[4]

But how is psychology—the science of the soul—to proceed if its foundational hypothesis admits the existence of an unconscious that by definition remains largely inaccessible to the rational ego? The cultural phenomenologist Jean Gebser recognized this difficultly, and though he had the highest respect for Jung’s groundbreaking work, he nonetheless called into question the concept of the unconscious: 

There is no so-called unconscious. There are only various modalities (or intensities) of consciousness: a one-dimensional magical, a two-dimensional mythical, a three-dimensional mental consciousness. And there will also be an integral four-dimensional consciousness of the whole.[5]

Gebser suggests that the concept of the unconscious may still be used to describe the relationship between a structure of consciousness one dimension lower than the structure above it, but rejects entirely the dualistic framework, wherein consciousness is opposed to a generalized unconscious. Jung himself rarely if ever collapsed the psychic terrain into so neat a dichotomy, but Gebser’s differentiated phenomenology of consciousness in terms of a potentially ever-present, and yet also historically unfolding series of structures assures that such a simplified reduction is avoided.[6]

In light of Gebser’s important critique of the notion of the unconscious,[7] Jung’s work is interpreted in what follows as the tentative beginning of an integral psychology. Both Gebser and Rudolf Steiner provide important additions and amendments to Jung’s psychology, assuring that we avoid the undue reduction of spiritual realities to psychic projections. Using Gebser’s terms, the purpose of an integral psychology, I argue, is to enter into conscious dialogue with the archetypal energies of the soul, re-connecting with its magic powers of synchronicity and mythic symbols of polarity so as to heal the dualistic split our mental-rational civilization has hewn between cosmic and human intelligences. Jung’s practice of “active imagination,” as artfully displayed in The Red Book, will provide a working example of how this dialogue can be initiated and sustained. My aim is to creatively integrate each figure’s most important insights in the hopes of inspiring a new approach to psychology that acknowledges spiritual realities and avoids privileging the intellect in a one-sided way. “The intellect does…harm to the soul when it dares to possess itself of the heritage of the spirit,” writes Jung; “It is in no way fitted to do this, for spirit is something higher than intellect since it embraces the latter and includes the feelings as well.”[8]

Individuation as Integration 

“In the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung,” writes Gebser, “we can discern a manifest attempt to overcome…the psychic dualism that is the terminological heritage of Freud’s materialistic psychoanalysis.”[9] Gebser points specifically to Jung’s theory of individuation as the most promising move in this direction. The archetype of the Self is, for Jung, both the center and the circumference of the psyche. It encompasses all opposites, not by submerging them back into undifferentiated unconsciousness, but by luring the psyche toward a more complex form of wholeness, wherein eventually maximum interior differentiation or individuality is achieved alongside maximum exterior harmony or communion. 

Whereas for Freud, the desire for psychic wholeness is nothing but a regressive infantile longing to return to our mother’s womb, for Jung it represents our human need to simultaneously discover our cosmic extent and penetrate to our spiritual essence. In this section, I speculate upon how the complex wholeness of the incarnating Self re-situates the dualistic partiality of egoic consciousness. These speculations concerning the emergence of the Self rest upon the premise that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, or that the individual in some sense contains and relives the collective history of the species, a hypothesis that Jung,[10] Gebser, and Steiner all share. They also agree that, while the evolution of consciousness is collective, the real action takes place as a result of individual transformation. 

Steiner:

In our unconscious we have to find the most essential transitional forces for the whole of human kind, just as we must find in the individual the most important forces for the development of a fully awake consciousness.[11]

Recognition of the mutual interplay between the individual and the collective must be at the heart of any deep inquiry into the psyche. The psychologist must take great care not to neglect the power of the one in favor of the many, nor vice versa, since in the first place any especially insightful individual’s attempt to reveal what for most remains occult depends upon successfully speaking in a tongue that the ears of the spirit of the times are capable of hearing. The confrontation with the unconscious that led Jung to produce The Red Book at first drew him into solitude, and though he knew there was no way to rationally justify the gnosis imparted to him by the spirit of the depths,[12] he was compelled nonetheless to communicate its symbolic meanings to others. Individuation, though individual, is never simply an inner process, but is bound up with the transformation of other people and of the world itself: “…the spirit of the depths in me,” writes Jung, is “at the same time the ruler of the depths of world affairs.”[13]

Gebser’s approach to the evolution of consciousness (i.e., the incarnation of the Self) rests upon the phenomenological observation that, in the course of human history, “clearly discernible worlds stand out whose development or unfolding took place in mutations of consciousness.”[14] These world-structures (which Gebser classifies into archaic, magic, mythic, and mental, each with its respective spatiotemporal character) remain present and active even for our contemporary, deficient form of mental-rational consciousness. Humanity has not overcome each structure as if climbing a ladder, leaving lower rungs behind; instead, our path has been one of dimensional intensification, whereby each increase in dimensionality depends upon the structural integrity of the prior layers. Gebser’s realization that our species is in the midst of the collapse of the deficient mental-rational  structure and the emergence of an integral-aperspectival structure is congruent with Jung’s ego-shattering encounter, as recounted in The Red Book, with the “new God”[15] being conceived and born out of the human soul. 

Prior to composing The Red Book, Jung had achieved the heights of professional acclaim. By 1910, at age 35, he had received an honorary degree from Clark University and been elected president of an international psychoanalytic association.[16] The new scientific understanding of the psyche that Jung was at the forefront of securing gave no outward indication of the as yet unconscious turmoil soon to be unleashed upon the world. In 1913, Jung received his first hint in a waking vision of a “terrible flood” that covered all of Europe with “yellow waves, swimming rubble, and the death of countless thousands.”[17]The visions continued to trouble Jung into 1914, producing a great inner uncertainty. He began to fear he was on the way to “doing a schizophrenia,”[18] and in April resigned from his positions as president of the International Psychoanalytical Association and lecturer at the University of Zürich. More dreams of catastrophe haunted him until finally, on August 1st, 1914, war broke out in Europe, relieving Jung from the worst of his fears: 

Now I was sure that no schizophrenia was threatening me. I understood that my dreams and my visions came to me from the subsoil of the collective unconscious.[19]

Jung’s personal visionary experiences during this period mirrored the collective European psyche’s descent into the underworld, beginning with the First World War. Gebser, writing several decades later, marks the early twentieth century as the climax of the mutation from the alienated rationalistic ego of the deficient mental structure of consciousness to the holistic and re-enchanted consciousness of the integral structure. This mutational process is still underway today, and though signs of integration can be found, nothing guarantees the success of such an epochal transformation. In The Red Book, Jung artfully exemplifies for collective view the imaginal process of soul-making that can remind the would-be autonomous, perspectival ego of its origin in a shared substratum of myth and magic. Jung’s practice of active imagination can aid the transformation out of the closed three-dimensional world mental-rational consciousness, giving rise to the conditions necessary for a second birth, not of the water but of the spirit.[20]

The shortcoming of modern psychoanalytic theory, Jung realized, was certainly not its verification of a psychic totality deeper than egoic consciousness, but its objectifying and epistemologically skeptical method of inquiry into the nature of this totality. Modern psychology had reduced the soul to a scientific object. A basic lack of openness to the  spiritual implications of the meaning-making capacity of the soul inevitably led to the reductive explanation of its living archetypal dynamics in terms of impersonal mechanistic forces. “I had to accept that what I had previously called my soul was not at all my soul,” writes Jung, “but a dead system.”[21]

Gebser, too, goes to great lengths in The Ever-Present Origin to point out the disintegrative effects of an exclusively mental-perspectival form of consciousness unable to divorce itself from “an exclusively three-dimensional spatial framework”: 

We of the European-Atlantic cultural community have as of yet been unable to make the leap at the crucial moment from the three-dimensional world of our fathers into the fourth-dimensional reality of our day. And as long as we fail to make this leap, crisis, uncertainty, and anxiety will continue to prevail; and they can destroy us in the short run unless we can realize the new world reality.[22]

For Gebser, the “illuminative” potential of pure consciousness is “definitely not restricted to spatialization and temporalization.”[23] But trapped in the three-dimensionality of the mental-rational structure, consciousness becomes spatially frozen, unable to conceive of time, the fourth-dimension, in terms other than that of partition and division (i.e., quantity). Time loses the qualitative texture of its flow and its transparency to the wholeness of eternity, becoming the flattened clock-time of mechanistic physics, wherein the simultaneity of spatial extension constitutes all of reality. There is literally no room for the soul and its mythos in the spatial world of the hyper-rational ego, and so they are pushed back into preperspectival subconsciousness, there generating through compensation the collective afflictions of techno-industrial society. 

If the world is regarded only through wakefulness it loses its undivided dream-like and somnolent aspects and precipitates their separation. The dividing deed leads to…the death of man and his entire culture.[24]

Jung and Gebser each recognized the direness of our situation: Wakeful egoic consciousness must come to terms with the deeper undivided temporal polarity constituting its psychic totality if our civilization is to survive the mutational process already underway on our planet. The heroic modern ego has by now awakened to the bright light of noonday, but  there its development has become arrested. The temporary vantage at the top of the world has blinded it to the compensatory shadow work that remains to be done. The ego must accept the necessity of descending below the horizon. If Jung, Gebser, and Steiner are right, the world itself hangs in the balance. The ego remains ignorant of the integral chiaroscuro that reveals the fourth-dimensional hypersphere hiding in the shadows of all relative spatial horizons.[25] Here, at the hearth of the world, light returns to shadow, night completes day, and the angel of death rounds each of our lives with a peaceful sleep. The ego must admit its dependence upon sleep, dreams, and death (which is also to say, upon the structural integrity of archaic, magic, and mythic consciousness). It must forego the hubristic desire to murder the “self-existing being” of the soul by reduction to the abstract concepts of learned scholarship.[26]

Integral-aperspectival (i.e., individuated) consciousness does not involve the dissolution of the ego and its directed mode of rational thought, but rather the integration of this mode with the imaginal and unitive modes of the mythic and magic structures. The rational ego has re-made the world in its own image, constructing cities more suited for machines than human beings. The majority of the human species now dwells in deadened environments that lack altogether the numinosity that encompassed earlier forms of consciousness. The stars themselves have retreated from view, the countenance of heaven veiled by the artificial glow of our electrified wonderland. The lack of integration of earlier modes of consciousness must not be mistaken for the lack of influence they still have over our daily lives. The power of magic and the meaning of myth may lack the diaphaneity provided by a fully individuated and integrated consciousness, but just because our deficient-mental society is ignorant of their effects does not at all make these effects negligible. 

The task of bringing to awareness an integral, individuated mode of consciousness is not at all that of shedding more primitive ways of being and knowing. The Enlightenment project, which aimed at the total rationalization of life, employed itself with precisely this task. The near divinization of the ego and its imbalanced desire for complete control over nature and society has not eliminated the non-rational, but merely pushed the instincts of the magic and the archetypes of the mythic structures into subconsciousness, where they still fester in their deficient mode and find compensation through all the great social ills of our time.

As Jung makes clear, “nobody can dismiss these numinous factors on merely rational grounds”:

They are important constituents of our mental make-up and cannot be eradicated without serious loss…Even tendencies that might be able to exert a beneficial influence turn into veritable demons when they are repressed…No wonder the Western world feels uneasy, for it does not know how much it plays into the hands of the uproarious underworld and what it has lost through the destruction of its numinosities.[27]

The meaning-making function of the pre-perspectival structures has been subverted by the anti-myths and black magic inherent to the techno-scientific worldview. Not psychic wholeness and cultural resilience, but material power and political control now constitute our guiding ideals. The values and purposes of the larger Earth community have been negated by a Cartesian mechanistic science whose methods are predicated upon the evacuation of soul from nature. Descartes’ cogito functions as the epistemological foundation of modern rationality and our alienated way of life. It claims to be a purely logical derivation but remains blind to its own mythic and imaginal origins, thus functioning as an anti-myth (a myth that represses its own mythic status). One could hardly ask for a better example of psychological splitting than that on display in Descartes’ intellectually brilliant text Meditations on First Philosophy (1639): after dismissing the philosophical import of imagination, which he calls “suspect” because it is productive only of “mere story-telling” and “mere dreams,” Descartes goes on to ask us to imagine that some “malicious, powerful, cunning demon” has conjured “the sky, the air, the earth, colors, shapes, sounds and all external things” as fictions to deceive our intellect. In other words, Descartes’ most famous philosophical argument for the existence of the ego is itself an exercise in imagination. 

In addition to Descartes’ repression of the mythical structure, modern civilization’s obsession with economics provides an example of the repression of the magical structure. Economic progress has become the sole raison d’être of Western civilization, a progress measured only in terms of the accumulation of monetary instruments. The unchallenged power of money, which now mediates almost every interpersonal encounter of our lives, is the result of a fetishization, the undue attribution of magical power (i.e., numinosity) to something abstract and inanimate. Originally invented as a tool to facilitate exchange among human beings, money has come to transform human beings into a means for achieving its own ends. 

Overcoming these collective ills, according to Jung, will require:

[bringing] our original mind back to consciousness where it has never been before, and where it has never undergone critical self-reflection. We have been that mind, but we have never known it. We got rid of it before understanding it.[28]

Re-acquainting ourselves with the ever-present origin of consciousness is no simple matter, since individuation cannot be accomplished by mental reflection alone. In the next section, Jung’s method of active imagination is explored and developed alongside Steiner’s spiritual science in the hopes that a possible way toward the integration of body, soul, and spirit might be uncovered. 

Activating the Imagination 

For Jung, the initial spontaneous irruption of psychic disturbances was more traumatic than constructive. In the year prior to the outbreak of war, Jung had been experiencing great doubt in his own professional motivations. In his autobiography, he recounts the anxiety he experienced at this time (December 1913) in response to “the fantasies which were stirring in [him] ‘underground.’”[29] Eventually, on December 12th, he built up the courage to “let [himself] drop”:

Suddenly it was as though the ground literally gave way beneath my feet and I plunged down into dark depths. I could not fend off a feeling of panic. But then, abruptly, at not too great a depth I landed on my feet.[30]

In the depths of his solitude, Jung met himself. “We are alone and our being together threatens to become unbearably boring.”[31] He decided to educate himself, to teach himself a greater form of self-esteem, “or else our life together will become wretched.”[32] Jung then began a dialogue and dispute with his own mirror image, which in typical polar psychic fashion is simultaneously his Self/spirit and his shadow. “This confrontation,” he would later write, “is the first test of courage on the inner way, sufficient to frighten off most people.”[33]

It was only later that Jung developed the method of “active imagination,” a way of  deliberately descending into the depths of the psyche. The point of imaginatively activating the unconscious in such a way is not merely to wonder at the play of images. Some contemporary Jungians even warn that carelessness in the practice of Jung’s method of active imagination may lead to psychopathology.[34] Rather, active imagination should serve as the preparatory work necessary for achieving genuine spiritual inspiration along the way to individuation. 

According to Steiner, human beings long ago lost immediate contact with the spiritual world due to the emergence of the ego, which has redirected all our attention to the physical body and the external sensory world. Our task today, says Steiner, is to consciously develop the imagination so as to transform it from a generator of fantasies into an organ of perception. 

“When our soul really attains to imagination,” says Steiner, 

it senses in its life of visualizations something akin to what it feels in its life of perceptions. In the latter the soul feels its direct contact with the outer world, with corporeality; in imagination it feels an indirect contact with a world that at first also appears to it as an outer world, but this is the outer world of the spirit.[35]

Steiner’s mention of the “outerness” of the spiritual world disclosed by imagination is meant to emphasize the independent (though not separate) existence of this realm. Jung also suggests that the numinous images, or archetypes, encountered in such altered states of consciousness are autonomous living beings, not to be confused with mere projections or personal memories.[36] They should be engaged with on their own terms as conscious entities no less real than our own ego. 

For Jung, individuation is all that can prevent human civilization from spiraling into the disorder and chaos of mass-mindedness. “The change must begin with one individual,” he writes, 

Nobody can afford to look around and wait for somebody else to do what he is loath to do himself. As nobody knows what he could do, he might be bold enough to ask himself whether by any chance his unconscious might know something helpful, when there is no satisfactory conscious answer anywhere in sight.[37]

The method of active imagination is Jung’s way of gaining access to the deeper intelligence and transformative power of the subterranean structures of the psyche. Like Steiner, Jung realized that modern human beings had become so captivated by the ego’s ability to predict and control nature that we have “simply forgotten the age-old fact that God speaks chiefly through dreams and visions.”[38] It is not in the outer sensory world (at least as the ego imagines it), but within our own hearts and minds that the deeper meaning and spiritual truth that we long for is to be discovered. 

Steiner, however, levels an important criticism upon those approaches to psychology that would limit the transformative reach of the archetypal beings encountered within the imaginatively activated soul. Jung is careful to guard against the intellect’s tendency to dismiss or rationalize the intense emotions that numinous encounters produce, but as Steiner points out, 

If the soul never emerged out of itself, but merely kept wanting to experience desires and emotions—anything from the deepest reverence to disgust—nothing would happen that is independent of the soul.[39]

For Steiner, the whole point of developing one’s capacity for imaginative perception is to rise above the limiting subjectivity of the egocentric soul. Active imagination develops self-understanding, but the aim is not just to know oneself truly; it is also to will what is good. All stirrings of conscience, according to Steiner, emerge in the liminal space between the subjective emotionality of the soul and the transpersonal intuition of the spirit. 

 Though Jung generally limits himself to phenomenological descriptions of the psyche’s manifestations in his more scientific writings, in The Red Book—perhaps because of the collective importance of its message—he goes beyond the appearances in an attempt to grasp the occult reality that they symbolize. 

In “Scrutinies,” Jung recounts his inner experience of hearing the call of conscience. The dialogue can be read in several ways, as a conversation between the Self and the ego, between the spirit and the soul, or between the Self and the shadow. What is clear is that Jung encounters a higher self who is disgusted by the “sensitivity and desirousness” of his ego: “What is concealed in you,” says this higher self, “I will drag out into the light…I will crush your superiority under my feet.” The Self continues: 

I will burn out of you the contents of which you were so proud, so that you will become empty like a poured-out vessel… You should be a vessel of life, so kill your idols.[40]

The false idols the Self demands be killed are Jung’s sense of pride, self-righteousness, and ambition. The Self chastises Jung’s ego for putting his personal concerns above the whole of humanity. “You are responsible to humanity in everything that you think, feel, and do.”[41] This experience represents the rising of the collective unconscious to awareness, and the harsh treatment Jung’s ego receives is reflective of just how far modern civilization has strayed from its instinctual roots. A universal spiritual will emerges within him, reminding Jung of the impotence of his finite personality.

Steiner, for his part, suggests that learning to identify with this will, rather than remaining in an egoic relation to it through the emotions of reverence or disgust, allows the human soul to build a bridge into the spiritual world, such that true inspiration from spiritual beings becomes possible. “As a rule,” says Steiner, “spiritual events are much closer to emotions than to conceptions.”[42] In terms of Jung’s psychology, the thinking function is unable to reconcile itself with the powerful emotionality of the unconscious; the individual human being must include other modalities of consciousness to make sense of the feeling-toned images that erupt from its depths. The practice of active imagination makes it possible for the alienated ego to develop an awareness of and renewed participation in the mythic archetypes binding it together with the collective psyche of the human species. Jung’s method directs attention to the symbolic visualization of numinous emotions, which may indeed be heralding the presence of higher worlds. Individuation is a process of imaginative generation, wherein a seemingly separate soul becomes pregnant with the universal Self.

Jung:

If forethinking and pleasure unite in me, a third arises from them, the divine son, who is the supreme meaning, the symbol, the passing over into a new creation.[43]

Jung offers the modern individual a new path of initiation with no outward cult or ritual. It is a path of solitude and inner development, though its effects reach far beyond the individual soul. Successful initiates pass through the threshold of the ordinary world and , in Steiner’s terms, “[arrive] among the beings who bring about spiritual events.”[44]

Conclusion: Concrescence of the Spiritual 

“Previously the spiritual was realizable only approximately,” writes Gebser, 

in the emotional darkness of the magical, in the twilight of imagination in the mythical, and in the brightness of abstraction in the mental…The mode of realization now manifesting itself… ensures that… it is also perceptible concretely as it begins to coalesce with our consciousness.[45]

As Jung, Gebser, and Steiner have helped to make clear, the evolution of consciousness has both individual and collective elements, with the transformation of the latter effective through the transformation of the former. 

Jung:

The service of the self is…divine service and the service of mankind. If I carry myself I relieve mankind of myself and heal my self from the God.[46]

The degree to which we remain unconscious of these powers and influences is that to which we fail to participate in the “merging or coalescence, the concrescence of origin and the present.”[47] The human being is potentially the consciousness of the Earth, which “on its great journey across the millennia…hastens through the changing landscapes of ‘heaven,’ transforming its own countenance and [humanity’s].”[48] It is my hope that this essay will in some small way aid our continued realization of this potency. 


[1] “Commentary on the Secret of the Golden Flower,” Collected Works 13, p. 15.

[2] Tempest, lines 1887-1889. 

[3] OTNOTP, p. 77

[4] ibid.

[5] EPO, p. 204 

[6] For Gebser, “consciousness is not identical to the process of thinking, nor is it limited to awareness of the ego… [It is] the ability to survey those interconnections which constitute us: it is a continuous act of integration and directing” (EPO, p. 204). 

[7] “Our questioning of the validity of the concept of the unconscious in no way invalidates it; rather our questioning must be understood as a concretion and differentiation of a general phenomenon that only gradually reveals all of its aspects” [emphasis mine] (EPO, p. 397).

[8] “Commentary on ‘The Secret of the Golden Flower,’” Collected Works 13, p. 9. 

[9] EPO, p. 397

[10] “As the evolution of the embryonic body repeats its prehistory, so the mind grows up through the series of its prehistoric stages” (UDS, p. 138).

[11] public lecture 5/1/1919

[12] The Red Book, p. 229 

[13] ibid., p. 230-231

[14] EPO, p. 1

[15] The Red Book., p. 243 

[16] ibid., p. 197

[17] ibid., p. 231

[18] ibid., p. 201

[19] ibid. 

[20] See John 3:5. “…except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The spiritual potential of active imagination will be explored in the next section. 

[21] The Red Book, p. 232

[22] ibid., p. 231-232

[23] EPO, p. 204

[24] ibid., p. 232

[25] Just as the shadow of a sphere is a circle, the shadow of a hypersphere is a sphere. The Earth known to the materialist physics of the mental-rational structure of consciousness can be understood to be the shadow of a higher dimensional, spiritual event.  

[26] ibid., p. 232

[27] UDS, p. 133-134

[28] UDS, p. 138

[29] MDR, p. 179

[30] ibid. 

[31] The Red Book, p. 333

[32] ibid. 

[33] ibid., p. 334

[34] See Jungian psychotherapy (1978) by Michael Fordham, p. 149: “…active imagination…can be, and often is, both in adults and children put to nefarious purposes and promotes psychopathology”

[35] lecture 12/15/1911

[36] UDS, p. 140

[37] ibid., p. 141

[38] ibid., p. 142

[39] lecture 12/15/1911

[40] The Red Book, p. 334

[41] ibid. 

[42] lecture 12/15/1911

[43] The Red Book, p. (Elijah & Salome)

[44] lecture 12/15/1911

[45] EPO, p. 542

[46] The Red Book, Scrutinies, p. 482 of readers guide.

[47] EPO, p. 542

[48] ibid., p. 541

Bibliography

Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin  (transl. 1985)

Jung, Carl. Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1989)

___. On the Nature of the Psyche (1969)

___. The Red Book (2009)

___. The Undiscovered Self (1990)

Main, Roderick. Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal (1998)

Wehr, Gerhard. Jung and Steiner: The Birth of a New Psychology (2002)


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7 responses to “Uncovering the Unconscious: Towards an Integral Psychology”

  1. Beatrix Murrell Avatar

    Interesting post. Years ago I put myself through some five years of dream work, mainly leaning on Jungian psychology and symbolism. Very helpful, bringing the depths of my personal unconsciousness into a more conscious state. And from my experience with this, I am pretty much in agreement with you about the “integrative” aspect of this.

    On the other hand, there are loads of other psychological perspectives. One that I intend to pursue, especially when it comes to perhaps comparing our little inner universe with the greater outer universe is that of Gestalt. I have found intriguing the ideas of “patterns,” if you will.

    Probably you have read Fred Alan Wolf’s book THE DREAMING UNIVERSE, published back in 1994. It’s actually a serious effort, coving a huge amount of territory when it comes to dreams. Indeed the bibliography in this book is worth its weight.

    Anyway, for one so young, you really seem far along down the track,
    so to speak. Keep at it. 🙂

    –Beatrix

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      thanks for your thoughts, Beatrix. I have not read much about Gestalt psychology… that is Fritz Perls’ brainchild, no? I have spent a bit of time at Esalen where he lived and developed his method for several years during the 60s. “Patterns” are not that far off from Jung’s archetypes, so far as I can tell. What do you think about the comparison? When seen in light of synchronicity, archetypal events also unify the inner and the greater, the psyche and the cosmos.

      I haven’t read that particular FAW book… I have seen most of his videos and read “Mind into Matter: A New Alchemy of Science and Spirit”. I have no doubt that title is worth my time! I’ll try and get a hold of it.

      in time,
      Matt

  2. Steve Avatar
    Steve

    Matt,

    That was a great effort, except that I think that the very first paragraph is a little awkward and wobbly, in contrast to the consistent strength of the remaining prose, which I admire very much.

    As to the content, I remember reading Carl Jung’s (or, rather, Aniela Jaffe’s) _Memories, Dreams, Reflections_, which proved to be a life-changing book. It prompted me to pick up a third degree in college–in psychology. But what I came to learn in the process of getting that degree compared to what I thought I would learn turned out to be very different.

    I started off thinking that I’d learn about the logical structure and dynamics of the mind, and I did. I learned about Freud’s psychodynamic theory, a great deal about behaviorism and learning theory, and a very great deal about neuroscience. By the time that I was finished, I was talking about amygdalae, neurons, ion channels, and fear-potentiated startle responses, not dreams and the “unconscious.” Those three years represented a sequence of disillusionments. These days, I never touch the many volumes of Carl’s Collected Works that I own; I don’t even think about them.

    Have you considered that we are, essentially, biological robots, and that our consciousness will cease permanently at biological death? I don’t mean to pose this question so starkly, but I want to cut to the chase. Your delightful and sparkling prose overflows with the magnificence of what a linguistically able brain can produce, but what would happen to that ability if you suffered from prefrontal dementia or had a transorbital lobotomy?

    Not only would you not be able to write as you can now, but this very question begs us to ask, “What is identity?” If identity somehow transcends biology (and thus, some form of metaphysical dualism is valid), then whatever travails we experience in this life, the dispersion of our molecules somehow won’t annihilate our identities–i.e. us, in the deepest sense.

    By identity, I roughly mean memory, perception, sensation, encapsulation (a sense of self as distinct from other entities), computation, emotion, drives, values, aversions, “will,” locomotion, goals, high-level patterns that we might call “personality,” and an environment containing other recognizable entities to which we can relate. Is identity a high-level (literally, sociolinguistic, brain-produced) construct that applies only to a human being, or can identity exist without “matter,” and specifically, the structure that matter takes and the dynamics that that structure undergoes through the workings of its constituent parts (molecules, organs, organ systems, and so on)?

    I think that you believe that consciousness is a process. I concur. But I also think that you believe that consciousness and identity are not necessarily dependent upon matter–that, most crucially, “we” “survive” “death.” (It’s necessary to quote all three words for obvious reasons.)

    Do you believe that we survive, Matt, and if so, why?

    Steve

    1. Matthew David Segall Avatar

      Steve,

      You’ve raised questions that I’ll be struggling to answer for the rest of my (cognitively able) life. I am rather certain I won’t be able to answer them even half-way adequately at this point in time. I’m also pretty sure that (in the deepest sense) losing my cognitive abilities will still leave “me” somatically coupled with the world, and so able to “make sense” of it in a more primordial way that the intellect has come to forget. And even dying, there is still the earth, and ultimately the universe with which to identify.

      Now, some aspect of what we normally consider our personality while alive definitely ceases when the body dies. But as a spatiotemporal process, the essence of this personality is never forgotten by the greater cosmogenic process within which it was born and perished. Despite its perishing, it remains “objectively immortal” in Whitehead’s terms. It continues to have effects in the ongoing genesis of the cosmos. This is not the egoic survival of bodily death that many religious people seem to hope for; it is the continuity of something in us that is greater than the ego, which was never born and so cannot die (“which was in the beginning, and will be in the end”). This is Jung’s immortal Self, fully integrated with death while alive; or Gebser’s Christ, transparent to the light of heaven on earth.

      The question concerning “identity” in the most general sense is a fascinating one. Fichte and Shelling had some interesting things to say about it. So did Hegel. I think in the end, Schelling came out most convincing, because he recognized not only that Spirit and Nature must always be conceived of as an identity (as Hegel did), but that it was in no sense a lop-sided or hierarchical relationship. Nature is just as real as Spirit, Body just as real as Soul. The Cosmos is not a free creation of the mind of God, but a necessary result of the logic of divinity. To be divine is to be cosmic. Spirit always has a face.

      Consciousness is a process. So is matter. If there is a fundamental stuff of which everything is made, I’d be most comfortable calling it “creativity” (Whitehead).Mind and matter are the same dynamic process of creativity, but the process appears two because of creativity’s polar relationship with itself. Whatever space-time is, it is quite clear that there is more than meets the eye. Most of the universe is not physical in the sense in which physical has been defined for the entire history of science.

      Perhaps we could say that our material and physiological aspect is the trace what was once present experience. Present mind becomes past matter. “We” leave a trail. When this particular body dies, the trail does not. Identity emerges at different levels, depending upon your perspective. So do we survive? Yes, but only on the level in which we are not two separate identities here and now, but members of the same larger being (be it Humanity, Gaia, Sol, or the Universe). What really interests me is the extent to which we might be capable of coming to experience these larger identities while still alive. Jung’s Red Book should be read as artifactual evidence of the worlds which exist beyond what is normally considered “physical.” There is a psychical world that exists in its own right even closer to our immediate experience than anything physically external.

      I quite admire the things that William Blake has to say in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” about all this:

      “All Bibles or sacred codes have been the causes of the following Errors.
      1. That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a Soul.
      2. That Energy, call’d Evil, is alone from the Body, & that Reason, call’d Good, is alone from the Soul.
      3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies.

      But the following Contraries to these are True

      1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that call’d Body is a portion of Soul discern’d by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age
      2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
      3 Energy is Eternal Delight”

      Oh, and thanks for the feedback about the intro paragraph, I’ll see if I can’t give it a tune up.

      ~Matt

  3. Beatrix Murrell Avatar

    If I may, re whether we “survive” bodily death, etc., when I was in my early 20s I experienced an out-of-body event (OBE). I was fully conscious of my personal identity and I *knew* that if I didn’t get back into my body that I would die. Really odd, there I was flailing around, with no limbs, and suddenly I was back in my body!

    This was long before all those books about the NDE and OBE became popular. I literally was scared silly by this experience and went to a doctor. He said that somehow I must have stopped breathing for a moment, and not to worry. No doubt he put a little black question mark on my medical record.

    Doesn’t matter, since I know that I had this experience–and now have come to read that it is not necessarily an unique experience. What I took away from this OBE was that I was fully conscious, albeit scared, and I was definitely intuitively aware, knowing that death was imminent if I didn’t return to my body.

    As for “proof,” well perhaps some day–until then, we can only report such incidents. The reporting is compiling, however.

    –Beatrix

  4. Footnotes to Plato Avatar

    […] of Jung’s), who completely transformed the way I conceive of the relationship between rational and religious consciousness. Eventually, like Whitehead, I came back to religion and theology (I feel most at home in the […]

  5. Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Activity: Socrates, Jesus, and the Wisdom of Love | Footnotes to Plato Avatar

    […] Uncovering the Unconscious (with Jung, Gebser, and Steiner) (footnotes2plato.com) 37.774929 -122.419415 Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_bg", "000000"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_border", "333333"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_text", "b8babb"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_link", "7f8e91"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_url", "7f8e91"); GA_googleAddAttr("LangId", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Autotag", "religion"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "consciousness"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "philosophy"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "anthroposophy"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "christ"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "coleridge"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "imagination"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "jesus"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "owen-barfield"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "plato"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "rudolf-steiner"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "socrates"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "soul-making"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "thinking"); GA_googleFillSlot("wpcom_sharethrough"); Rate this: Share this:FacebookTwitterDiggEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Consciousness, Philosophy and tagged Anthroposophy, Christ, Coleridge, imagination, Jesus, Owen Barfield, Plato, rudolf steiner, Socrates, soul-making, thinking. Bookmark the permalink. […]

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