Monday, October 26, 2009

Jung and the Monotheisms: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

"All that is above is like all that is below; all that is below is like all that is above, in order that the miracle of Unity be accomplished." --The Tabula Smaragdina, attributed to 12th century writer, Hermes

Jung and the Monotheisms: Judiasm, Christianity and Islam is a book
in five parts written by Joel Ryce-Menuhin
. Ryce-Menihin explores a number of historical and current ideas within philosophy and religion, including Hermeticism, which includes alchemy, astrology and theurgy. Many if not most of the teachings of Hermetics can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Today it is in these forms which it survives. Hermetics is often described in terms of neo-platonism of the 200 C.E. period.
Hermetics teaches that God, the creator, created man androgynous, in his own image. Many of its teachings were suppressed by early European monarchies, however Hermeticism resurged during the Renaissance period and carries forward in a number of traditions today, including Free Masonry, an outgrowth of Enlightened thinking of the same period.

One of psychologist Carl Jung's "most original contributions was his analogical [analogy, use of metaphor] work on development as psychological development in the same sense as the alchemists who were searching for ultimate self hood through the language of refining metals into gold," writes Ryce-Menihin. Of great interest to Jung was also the ancient notion of the Elixir of Life and the Philosopher's Stone, all deriving from ancient Arabic roots and resurrected in the Renaissance period. In these, Jung saw an alchemy, if you will, that occurred as patients came to him for analysis. Working through their interior thoughts, many he saw were attempting to realize spiritual development within these deep, subterranean elements of Christianized, Western culture.

The English nobleman and scientist of the Enlightenment, Sir Isaac Newton, eagerly sought in scientific experimentation the structure of a "micro" universe. Not merely satisfied with his discovery of gravity, Newton intuited and sought what some today might describe as Quantum Physics. He posited that there was yet another sphere, in which on the tiniest basis there existed elements of a secretive, mysterious world. In his day, the Renaissance of the 1600's, European thought was literally overrun with interest in mechanistic science, leaving alchemy and its proponents behind. Jung however has resuscitated interest; in the 20th century and now in the 21st century, we find Alchemy alive and well, often living under a label of "New Age." It is not new, nor unique to the age; its origins stretching far back into history of Kings, Queens and the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt.

To Jung, whose outspoken interest and allegiance to Orthodox Christianity is well documented, there was indeed an intersection between religion, psychology and western culture stretching back into the origins of human civilization. Jung believed that neither culture nor religion could be ignored in favor of psychology. Intuitively Jung recognized that dreams and other extra-normal experiences had roots in a deeply ingrained culture, and that most often religion was its vessel. It could not be ignored. For Jung, the Spiritual was the Religious; he did not dramatically differentiate them.

Famously when patients sought out Professor Jung for analysis, he inquired about their religion and their family religious traditions. He then advised his patients to continue in the tradition of their childhood, or to return to the tradition of their forebears. This, he believed,was a critical point for self understanding, a vessel in which a person's hopes, dreams, fears and wishes were most clearly contained. Today it remains a foundation of Jungian analysis. Indeed, as a child, Jung saw all things in the cosmos as circling around God! To resist this force, he believed, was a grave sin. His belief was strong, instinctive and intuitive.

As a young psychologist, Carl Jung fell in with the famed psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud. Charged with the Socialist and Communist politics of the day, Freud was embraced; his conception of man was decidedly not religious, not Christian; he believed that man could be reduced [reductionism] to the motive and drives of the animal. This suited the policy makers of the day, who sought an "opiate for the masses," so as to quell and subvert their longings for personal and political freedom in the waning days of European Feudalism. However after a time, the two men fell out with one another.

Jung remained staunch in his views of religion, rejecting man as an animal, a mechanism of labor for use, believing God had a higher call than Freud allowed. The two men parted, effecting what would become one of the most remarkable thinkers of the 20th century, Carl Jung, who established what is today known as Jungian analysis. And Jung remained a member of the
Protestant Christian denomination, the Swiss Reformed Church throughout his life time.

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