jueves, 6 de septiembre de 2012

Jungian Interpretation of Religion

The Jungian interpretation of religion views all religious experience as a psychological phenomenon, and
regards the personal experience of God as indistinguishable, for scientific purposes, as a communication
with one's own unconscious mind.

Carl Jung established a school of psychology called depth psychology, which emphasizes understanding
the psyche through dream analysis. Other workers in depth psychology have used other methods with
some success, but dream analysis remains the core of depth psychology. Works of art and mythology are
interpreted similarly to dreams: a myth is "a dream being experienced by a whole culture."
Inevitably archetypal figures appear in personal dreams which closely resemble mythic figures, which
leads to a natural interest in experience of religion as a psychological phenomenon.
Jung emphasized the importance of balance in a healthy mind. He wrote that modern humans rely too
heavily on science and logic and would benefit from integrating spirituality and appreciation of the
unconscious. Jungian psychology is typically missing from the curriculum of most major universities'
psychology departments. Jung's ideas are occasionally explored in humanities departments, particularly
in the study of mythography.
Jung's parents were fervent Christian missionaries, and part of Jung's early life was occupied with
resolving his personal conflict between his stern upbringing and his his own feelings about religion. This
settled in on the "scientific" interpretation of religion, which treats religion as a psychological
phenomenon only, and neither affirms nor denies a greater reality.
Although Carl Jung was a theoretical psychologist and practicing clinician, he searched through other
subjects, attempting to find a pre-existing myth or mythic system which aptly illustrated his ideas about
the human psychology of religion. He began with Gnosticism, but abandoned it early on. Later he studied
astrology and then speculative alchemy as a symbolic system. It is not clear from his writings if he ever
settled on any one of these systems of symbols.
Carl Jung and his associate G.R.S. Mead worked on trying to understand and explain the Gnostic faith
from a psychological standpoint. Jung's analytical psychology in many ways schematically mirrors
ancient Gnostic mythology, particularly those of Valentinus and the 'classic' Gnostic doctrine described
in most detail in the Apocryphon of John (see gnostic schools).
Jung understands the emergence of the Demiurge out of the original, unified monadic source of the
spiritual universe by gradual stages to be analogous to (and a symbolic depiction of) the emergence of
the ego from the unconscious.
However, it is uncertain as to whether the similarities between Jung's psychological teachings and those
of the gnostics are due to their sharing a "perennial philosophy", or whether Jung was unwittingly
influenced by the Gnostics in the formation of his theories.
Jung's own 'gnostic hymn', the Septem Sermones ad Mortuos (Latin: "The Seven Sermons to the Dead"),
would tend to imply the latter, but after circulating the manuscript, Jung declined to publish it during his
lifetime. Since it is not clear whether Jung was ultimately displeased with the book or whether he merely
suppressed it as too controversial, the issue remains contested.
Uncertain too are Jung's belief that the gnostics were aware of and intended psychological meaning or
significance within their myths.
On the other hand, it is clear from a comparison of Jung's writings and that of ancient Gnostics, that Jung
disagreed with them on the ultimate goal of the individual. Gnostics in ancient times clearly sought a
return to a supreme, other-worldly Godhead. In a study of Jung, Robert Segal claimed that the eminent
psychologist would have found the psychological interpretation of the goal of ancient Gnosticism (that is,
re-unification with the Pleroma, or the unknown God) to be psychically 'dangerous', as being a total
identification with the unconscious.

To contend that there is at least some disagreement between Jung and Gnosticism is at least supportable:
the Jungian process of individuation involves the addition of unconscious psychic tropes to
consciousness in order to achieve a trans-conscious centre to the personality. Jung did not intend thi saddition to take the form of a complete identification of the Self with the Unconscious.