Carl Gustav Jung and the New Paradigm

Image: Bence Szemerey
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By LEONARDO BOFF*

Jung was an anticipator of everything we were looking for in recent years: an integral, complex and holistic vision of reality

Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung are the genius creators of psychoanalytic discourse. They had no teachers. By observing themselves and their patients, they created theoretical instruments to decipher the enigmas of the human soul.

Freud and Jung had different sensibilities. While Freud emphasized the fact of sexuality, from early childhood, Jung disagreed, as he thought that this dimension was important but could not be the articulating axis of the understanding of human psychic life. For him, libido constituted the fundamental energy that permeated every human being beyond their sexual expression. But I don't want to get into this discussion that was, in its time, heated between Freud and Jung to the point of breaking off a significant common activity and a long friendship.

I want to focus on Carl Gustav Jung because I see in him an anticipator of everything we were looking for in recent years: an integral, complex and holistic vision of reality.

For him, psychology had no boundaries, between cosmos and life, between biology and spirit, between body and mind, between conscious and unconscious, between individual and collective. Psychology had to do with life in its entirety. That's why he was interested in everything, exoteric phenomena, alchemy, parapsychology, spiritualism, philosophy, theology, mysticism, both Western and Eastern, native peoples and the most advanced scientific theories. He knew how to articulate this knowledge, discovering hidden connections that revealed surprising dimensions of the human soul.

This holistic and systemic vision we need to become hegemonic in our reading of reality today. Otherwise we become hostage to fragmented visions that lose sight of the whole. In this endeavor Jung is a privileged interlocutor.

The new cosmology, the result of quantum mechanics, astrophysics, astronomy, new biology, neuroscience, chaos and complexity theory, has given us a new image of the universe. We are sons and daughters of stardust and cosmic dust. We form an immeasurable system that is one and diverse, complex and contradictory.

Jung's psychology is a kind of cosmology, because for him the human being cannot be understood outside of total evolution. The psyche is as ancient as the universe, it is an objective part of nature. Self-realization as a process of individuation has a cosmic meaning. As he said, “in my vision of the world there is a vast outer kingdom and another inner kingdom, equally vast; Between these two worlds, man is situated, sometimes facing one, sometimes facing the other (Works 4,777).

Jung's numerous studies on alchemy demonstrate that these worlds go beyond the human and reach the cosmic. The macrocosm-microcosm equation, the coincidence between the totality of the human with the totality of the extra-human, leads to a new consciousness capable of founding a new relationship between man and the universe.

The astronauts there from their spaceships testified to us that Earth and humanity belong together. They form a single reality. When approaching the collective and cosmic unconscious Jung is confronted with the great myths of totality such as that of urobos, from mandala. animus/anima and Sofia. there is an spiritus mundi and a spiritus terrae. There is a more radical and deeper stratum of the psyche where the distinctions between psyche and world, heaven and earth are no longer valid. There emerges the original and total reality of the world, before any separation and division, the root archetype, the Self. Then we all felt one, as the tradition of Tao and philosophy of India expressed so well, which Jung appreciated so much. And the unus mundus or philosophorum pencil.

Jung was credited with valuing and deciphering the message hidden in myths. They constitute the language of the collective unconscious. This has its relative autonomy. He owns us more than we own him. Everyone is more thoughtful than they actually think. The organ that captures the meaning of myths, symbols and great dreams is sensitive reason or cordial reason. This was placed under suspicion in modernity because it could obscure the objectivity of thought. Jung was always critical of the excessive use of Western reason because it closed many windows of the soul.

Well-known was the dialogue in 1924-1925 that Jung held with an indigenous person from the Pueblo tribe in New Mexico in the USA. This indigenous man thought white people were crazy. Jung asks him why would white people be crazy? To which the indigenous man responds: “They say they think with their heads.” “But of course they think with their heads”, replied Jung. “How do you think,” he continued? And the indigenous man, surprised, replied: “We thought here” and pointed to his heart (Memories, dreams, reflections, P. 233).

This fact transformed Jung's thinking. He understood that Europeans had conquered the world with their heads but had lost the ability to think with their hearts and to live through their souls (cf. Anthony Stevens, Jung, life thought, Voices, p. 269). That's why they dominated the world and fought so many wars.

*Leonardo Boff is an ecologist, philosopher and writer. Author, among other books, of Inhabit the Earth (Vozes) (https://amzn.to/45gjjKP). He is co-editor of the translation of CG Jung's complete works by Editora Vozes


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