This is the first reflection paper for my Jungian Psychology & East-West Spirituality class. It may make more sense if you know a little bit about Jung (which is about how much I know). If you want to know more about Jung, I recommend his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections or (if you’re looking for something quicker) Jung: A very short introduction.

Reading about Jung’s early years I cannot help but be struck not just by the depth of his inner reflection but also by his absolute confidence in the authenticity and validity of his inner experience over any claim by an external authority (his father, the bible, the church). He seems to accord similar trust to his interpretation of those experiences:

“Moreover I was certain that this was the wrong way to reach God, for I knew, knew from experience, that this grace was accorded only to one who fulfilled the will of God without reservation”

(MDR Chapter II page 46)

In addition to his strong intuitive side, Jung possesses a sharp rational mind and is not willing to allow logical inconsistencies slide by. His strong intuition, curiosity and dedication to rationality often leave him at odds with the religious dogma of his day. Even so, the one thing Jung still holds above the critical, rational mind is personal experience.

Another strong motivating force in Jung’s life is his desire for connection, with God or with fellow men. Despite the sincerity of that desire he seems to find very few people he can connect with in his early life and the connection to God offered by the church leaves him flat (much like the bread offered at communion). Even when reading the great theologians and philosophers he often finds them lacking save for a few exceptions. As a result, Jung is often left with no other choice then to turn inward either in to his thoughts, the inner world of no. 2 or his fantasies.

In his later life, (chapters V and VI of MDR) his relationship to his No. 2 personality evolves into a much more complex dynamic. This can be seen in his relationship with Freud especially in the way he maintains that relationship out of a sense of duty or the belief that he still has much to learn from the older, more experienced man. Thoughts of this kind appear to be foreign to his No. 2 personality and most likely originated with No. 1. Later, throughout the confrontation with the unconscious, as the number of voices representing the unconscious grows, this relationship becomes even more complex.

A striking example of this evolution in Jung’s relationship to the unconscious is his relationship with his Anima, a relationship that has been rooted in suspicion from its inception. He later argues with her over the value of his work and almost accuses her of trying to deceive him. With time, Jung learns to find and appreciate to positive side of the anima but it is his that his relationship to the unconscious has evolved greatly since his younger days and this must have been a great influence on his understanding of the psyche.

Through the years his intense work with the unconscious Jung begins to discover his personal myth, movement towards the center. It seems that this realization gave him a sense of connection that has been lacking before and that he could never quite satisfy not with God or with any of his heroes (like Goethe or Nietzsche).