Carl Jung and The Course – Part 2

by Frank Dobner

This is the second part of a two part series on Carl Jung and A Course in Miracles. I have a long history in spending time with both Jung and the Course. I hope this helps you understand some connections that you may have with either one or the other.

The Collective Unconscious

Having read The Course now for many years, one of the questions that I always asked and still do is, that if this is just a dream, then why does everyone else have a shared experience of the world? In answer to this timeless question, Jung popularized the concept of the collective unconscious. In addition to the personal unconscious (or inaccessible) aspect of your own life, Jung states that we share a common set of unconscious experience which is not of your own. The collective unconscious can only be inherited. Thus it is entirely possibly to experience collapsed dimensions of time and space through this inheritance.

I have talked to a number of people involved with The Course, and have found that devotees are lined up along two distinct lines of thinking. There is one class of The Course people who believe that the universe is created from the original separation from your whole mind. Everything as you experience it, is created as remnants of your original separation. Your “life” is created by your ongoing negligence to pull yourself back into pure being. Your job is to forgive (meaning dismiss) grievances and sins that constitute the thoughts of being cut-off and eventually return to oneness. In this case, there is only one of us…you.

Others following The Course, believe that the universe exists a priori. In this case, your mind basically gives its own distorted meaning to the things, people and events of a pre-existing, shared and real universe. Similarly in this case, the quality of your experience is completely determined by your ability to train your mind to remove perception and see what is truly not there. It is in this second case that the concept of collective unconscious empowers us to communicate from deeper body of experience across time and space.

Jung also knew that each of us is individually composed of age-old psychic elements that reappear for many generations. He noticed that many modern societies (notably the Europeans) had achieved rationality at the expense of the vitality of our innate “primitive” nature. He saw that in modern society, that our ancient nature increasingly tends to be driven into an underground or unconscious state.

Jung identified these earlier remnants of incomplete experience as shared patterns or archetypes. These archetypes can be recognized as recurring characters in fairy tales and myths – wizard, king, queen, warrior, joker and many others. These are easily identified patterns of energy that are frequently constellated in every aspect of life including religion, art, entertainment, politics, business and family. The importance of these archetypes is that they may hold detrimental psychic “energy” for us, if we fail to simply recognize them for what they are.

Most useful of all, Jung saw that in the wholeness of our nature, that everything we do, think, feel or experience has purpose and meaning. There is nothing extra or unnecessary in our lives. However, our conscious mind cannot fathom the perspective of this wholeness. Just as is written in The Course, our conscious mind can never have a view of the whole meaning of what we need.

Individuation

Very closely related to The Course’s teaching, is a special concept that Jung termed individuation. This is actually the process of personal integration of the unconscious and conscious mind so that there can exist true conscious autonomy. Most likely, none of us are free from unconscious functioning – judgments, opinions, behaviors, attitudes, beliefs. Many of these responses bubble up within us before we even get a chance to be aware of them.

Individuation is about reducing the gap between awareness of and response to unconscious functioning. Individuation is basically the work we do within the workbook section of The Course. Individuation is a life’s work, but does not necessarily need to be lifelong. Perhaps only a few of us….Jesus, Buddha and others have been able to individuate completely, such that they could see the objective truth and command free will.

Jung also recognized that the ancient practice of alchemy was essentially a metaphor for pulling together the raw material of your individual experience (dreams, fantasies, anxiety, depression) to form a functioning free will. Alchemists saw suffering as the necessary transformation of painful opposing experiences into powerful self-knowledge. This is metaphorically referred to in alchemical literature as changing lead into gold. This is the same concept that The Course refers to in being at cause rather than in the effects.

As perhaps a dramatic enactment of individuation, Jung built an elaborate stone dwelling In Bollingen, Switzerland, that he called “The Tower.” This primitive building was composed of separate annexes (tower, central hut, courtyard, loggia) that suited his need for basic family and personal uses. It was only after the creation of this very complex structure, did Jung ultimately realize that the totality of the building and the components actually symbolized his own personal psychic wholeness. It was an outward aspect of his inner process of individuation.

Conclusion

Jung’s open regard towards the spiritual practices of the people of the earth has moved us further to appreciating the beauty of truth. The truth according to Jung, is that all that exists in your life, either in spirit or space, participates in an inclusive existence. There is nothing wasted.

Very consistent with The Course, is the concept that from the ego’s standpoint, Jung saw how very easy it is for the ego to downgrade aspects of our experience that are inconsistent with limited egoic fixations. Jung was one of the most significant practitioners to confirm that images, intuitions, and creative thought have an existence clearly independent from that of the ego.

However neither did Jung downplay the importance of the ego. Jung knew that our existence included both a limited (ego) and eternal aspect (holy spirit) of truth. Carl Jung may very well have been one of the necessary predecessors to the adoption of The Course In Miracles. There are many aspects to The Course that are easier to assimilate because of Carl Jung’s life and work.

And Now……For Something Completely Different

Here is some music by Allan Parson’s Project entitled “Lucifer” along with some great spatial animation from Star Wars and Star Trek to boot. Parson’s music often activated something true for me – sort of bringing to light something unique in myself I guess.

When you watch these scenes that have some simulated violence, don’t look at it as more external violence “out there” in form – space ships, jet fighters, the world, universe, etc… There is no “out there,” it’s all really “in here” – of you. Rather, attempt to look at these scenes as symbols of an internal battle you are fighting for the only truth that is the experience of the only thing worthy of struggle – your being. Now for the BIG irony……there is really no “battle” either.

In any case, I hope you like it too.