Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ritual and Symbols


I have  a question. I want to know if there are others who believe, as I do, that God is really our unconscious/subconscious mind. That is to say, I believe that when we say our prayers to God, we are using our conscious mind to talk to our unconscious mind. In my view, another name for the unconscious mind is the Self. My view is that when we pray, we are really talking to our Self, and that's talking to God. We call this Meditation. To be clear, as far as I know, Carl Jung never used the word "pray" in this connection. In addition, I prefer to think of Carl Jung's term collective unconscious as being the target of Sunday sermons at church.

One thing I have found is that the more clearly we put into words whatever our goal or need might be, the more readily our unconscious mind will lead us there. That's because the unconscious mind is powerfully aware of everything going on around us. Much of what's important is stored somewhere in our brain and that knowledge can lead us stepwise toward achieving our goal.  In this regard, you might consider talking as a unique function of the human mind. The Gospel of John puts it this way, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

My point here is that God is universal and fundamental to all religions. We all have minds that are constructed the same and function in the same way; i.e., we all have a conscious portion, the Ego, and its opposite, the unconscious portion, the Self, and they regularly communicate with each other. Because this is true of all people on earth, why must we keep fighting about religion? That is to say, when are we going to grow up?

Since our unconscious mind has no language of its own, it cannot speak to us directly.  Instead, communication from the unconscious mind is delivered in the form of dreams, mostly requiring analysis, or, as I believe, most often in the form of our ideas. That's why we're told when we have a problem we need to "sleep on it". I find that my most significant ideas occur not long after I get up in the morning, though occasionally I get an inspiration following an afternoon nap.

This I Believe

I believe that the story of Jesus, as told in The New Testament, is not just the story of one good man's life, but rather, it's the everybody story; i.e., in my mind, it's the birth-to-death story of every human being. The Jesus story tells of a long-expected special birth, an early training period, a traumatic early death and amazing resurrection, ending in the "life after death" fulfillment of predictions. For me, the description of Jesus' death and resurrection is a metaphor for the change of life that everybody experiences during their often tumultuous adolescent years. In other words, adolescence for humans could be likened to a metamorphosis occurring in advance of our productive adult years. Incidentally, borrowing from the New Testament I've interpreted similarly the "Transfiguration of Jesus", "Born again", and "The 2nd coming of the Lord."

Follow-up questions: What happens during human adolescence? Who and what emerges? What is their condition? Was this a learning experience? Regarding this last question, what might one say about the state/stage of our world today?

Consider for a moment when and where most family discussions take place. Is it not at suppertime? If the primary focus at that time is not about relationships, shouldn't it be? Again I'm thinking of the period of adolescence and its importance as we grow up.

Theoretically, is it not God whom Catholics address every Saturday when they go to confession? Where is God then? Is not the Dark Invisible somewhere behind a closer wall, privately attending our every thought and word? Again, I believe that God is our own Self, our subconscious mind, always with us, in very truth our co-pilot.

Teens and Violence

Writing under the heading "The Gangs of Middle Tennessee" in The Tennessean" on August 15, 2010, Ms. Neely Williams offered some good advice for helping kids avoid the violence of gangs shooting not only each other, but shooting innocents as well. Her advice to communities and parents was to stop judging and start listening to kids as one practical way of empowering them to become successful adults. I agree with Ms. Williams that education is a 2-way street; good teachers not only instruct, they listen to their students, sometimes to their needs, and sometimes to their fears.

Who Are We

Following adolescence, where does the young adult turn for support? Support must come largely from within; i.e., provided preparation has been adequate and lessons have been successfully stored in the brain. Vitally stored as well are mental images of both parents. I call these two images imagoes because of their unique and essential importance as internal guides for every maturing human being. Since these stored mental images are of real people, I believe we have personified our imagoes as Father God and Mother God/Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost/Word/Wisdom. More than likely, the imagoes are composites of all our teachers. How we behave is a projection of the parent we identify with. It's important to remember that both imagoes are present in the adult mind, but we project mostly one and suppress the other. Ordinarily, males mostly project a father image of power and females mostly project a mother image of love. Unfortunately, too many people love power and too few people powerfully love!

Consider now the matter of conscience. Carl Jung proposed what he called the principle of the opposites wherein everything and everybody has an opposite, as in yin/yang, light/dark, conscious/unconscious, visible/invisible, human/divine, Mother God/Father God, and life/death. All are descriptions of something and some can be mixtures. For example, all people exhibit a mixture of good and bad behavior. I believe even God and Satan represent a mixture of one personality. A good example is the biblical story of Job in which God argues with Satan (himself) about how Job will respond to personal tragedy. What's most important here is that, for humans, good or bad behavior is a choice! It's a conscious decision, not an automatic response. I said earlier that our unconscious mind is a storehouse of facts and feelings and our conscious mind requires them in order to make informed decisions. In fact, we are choosing all the time: is this good or is this bad? Often it's a real struggle, but that's us, it's who we are!   

It's been said that the unconscious mind is amoral. That's because morality itself is a conscious choice made by a conscious mind. We recognize that conscience has arrived when people prove they can differentiate between good and evil and they then modify their behavior accordingly. To paraphrase the Book of Genesis, the ability to differentiate good and evil showed God it was time for Adam and Eve to leave the Garden of Eden, graduate, get a job, get married, and raise a family of their own. My point here is, and has been, that our two Gods are our ideals and our goal is, and needs to be, to emulate them both.

Where is Love

If God is Love, as many of us profess to believe, and if we acknowledge Love to be the opposite of Power, as I've suggested earlier, why do our struggles for Power so overwhelm our expressions of Love? I believe this unbalanced state of affairs is the direct result of our treatment of women. I've said that Power is primarily the province of men and Love is primarily the province of women. But have you noticed the dearth of recognition that women receive for their efforts compared to the extravagant recognition that men receive for theirs? Often it seems that women are treated mostly as objects of desire "when the moment is right", as we're so often told on TV now. If it's true that men and women are created equal, why are women around the world so often ignored, excluded, denigrated and disguised? We need to remember this, opposite is not unequal!


The truth is the son is not dead, he only left home to seek his fortune. Remarkably, the only treasures he took with him were his loving memories of his father and of his mother at home together at last. Interestingly, the same thing happened earlier when the daughter left home. It was different with the youngest son, however. He had trouble leaving his mother at home. He said something about a fright his father unintentionally gave him very early on. Sadly, it lingered and festered for a long time. He's better now, though, and that's good news.

Carl Jung definitions

Psychoanalyst, author, and teacher Dr. Carl G. Jung specialized in study and research into the nature of the unconscious mind. His publications state that while the outward attitude of men is masculine, their complementary inner attitude is feminine, resulting in psychological balance. Likewise, while the outward attitude of women is feminine, their complementary inner attitude is masculine, again resulting in psychological balance. This discovery is in keeping with Jung's principle of the opposites that I mentioned and gave a few examples of earlier. In addition, Jung labeled the feminine conscious mental image/imago of all men the anima, and Jung labeled the masculine unconscious mental image/imago of all women the animus. For simplicity, in discussions, Jung advocates saying soul-image in place of using his terms anima and animus. In addition, Jung uses the term persona in referencing the outward attitude of both men and women.

Dr. Jung's practice of psychoanalysis proved to himself that a man with an excessively masculine unconscious personality signifies that he has a diminished feminine conscious personality; while conversely, a woman with an excessively feminine conscious personality signifies that she has a diminished masculine unconscious personality. Thus, it's evident that both of these people exhibit to some extent an unbalanced condition.

A major point I'm making is this: Love is sacrificed when Power overrules. Remember Jesus. Remember Henry VIII.


In conclusion, Carl Jung taught that normally when a young man marries a young woman, the young man's soul-image/animus attaches to his wife's soul-image/anima, while her soul-image/anima attaches to her husband's soul-image/animus. "Light My Fire" is the apt expression that applies here. Carl Jung coined the word Individuation for the critical life-changing transformation normally occurring about this time.

Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, let me stand.

An Unchanged Mind, The Problem of Immaturity in Adolescence by John A. McKinnon, M.D., Lantern Books, 2008
To Change a Mind, Parenting to Promote Maturity in Teenagers by John A. McKinnon, M.D., Lantern Books, 2011
The Evolution of God by Robert Wright, Little, Brown and Company, 2009
The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, by Matthew Fox, Harper & Row, 1988
Creativity, Where the Divine and the Human Meet by Matthew Fox, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2002, 2004
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell, with Bill Moyers, Doubleday, 1988 
The Undiscovered Self by C. G. Jung, Little, Brown and Company, 1957, 1958
Symbols of Transformation by C. G. Jung, Bollingen Foundation Inc., 1956
Memories, Dreams, Reflections by C. G. Jung, Random House, 1961
The Portable Jung by Joseph Campbell, Viking Penguin Inc., 1971
The Basic Writings of C. G. Jung, Edited by Violet de Laszlo, Random House Inc., 1959
The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell, Bollingen Foundation Inc., Princeton University Press, 1949, 1968
The Wisdom of Solomon, chapters 6-10 In Praise of Wisdom, located in The Apocrypha, Christian Bible
The Gospel of John in The New Testament, Christian Bible

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