In “A Guided Tour of the Collected Works of C. G. Jung,” Robert Hopcke makes the point that Jung’s attitude toward and investigation of religion help redeem religion for modern people as “an aspect of human existence at once both vital to human fulfillment and amenable to investigation and understanding.” My own experience certainly validates Hopcke’s sentiments in several ways.

Coming from a rational view of the world, I find myself often biased towards a reductionist approach that tends to reduce religion to an illusion or a comforting story much along the lines of Karl Marx: “religion is the opiate of the masses.” Over the last several years, however, I see that tendency slowly replaced by an openness to alternative views and an attitude of questioning towards my own limited views.

I am beginning to see the value of a containing myth and the difficulties that come up when such a myth is lacking, or is incoherent. In fact, I suspect that I have been feeling the effects of this problem exactly, over the last year. I believe that such a myth could serve as a vehicle to understand the inner experience of something greater than just myself or the experience of longing for such a connection (a longing often described by the Sufis).

While it is easy to dismiss another person’s religious ideas as creative fiction or as a defense mechanism empty from any further meaning I find that this outright dismissal may be pointing at an attempt on my side to avoid dealing with the intensity of numinous experience brought about by existential questions such as “Why am I here?” This intensity can be hard to hold, especially without the container provided by religion.

Looking at the universality of religion and the recurrence of certain themes (e.g. redemption) I think we have to recognize that there are deep commonalities shared by human beings everywhere. There are issues at our very core that we’ve grappled with throughout history. These issues carry a strong charge, one that I recognize in myself as well.

It is hard to deny that religions and myths worldwide point at some similar truths. These truths are not necessarily found in the answers provided, as those may vary between different cultures and different times. Rather, truth can be found in the questions asked.

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