Jung: Developing a Sense of Oneness
Jung: Developing a Sense of Oneness
I have to feel for the guy – imagine having your first encounter with the Divine when you are 12 and to be thereafter convinced that God is an immediate and awesome (in the terrifying sense of the word) presence. Now imagine having that experience 130 years ago in a society where no one was talking about direct experiences of God, where one would feel utterly alone and misunderstood. I admire Jung for persevering through all of this until he could at last integrate his two halves by pursuing a career in psychiatry. I also find it intimidating that he was learning and thinking so deeply about these topics at an age where I don't remember thinking about metaphysics at all. I don't even remember being aware of metaphysics, or God, certainly not as an issue of any relevance to my life.
The thread of Oneness that weaves through this autobiography is palpable, and having just finished reading Tomorrow's GodTomorrow's God it strikes me that much of our current awareness of this Oneness was presaged, or at least paralleled, by Jung. While much of Jung's Memories, Dreams, ReflectionsMemories, Dreams, Reflections is serious in tone, scholarly even, he does delve into experiences with a great deal of tenderness and humour towards his younger self.
For instance, one of the more amusing incidents of Jung's awakening to Oneness was the first time he got drunk. How is this for a description of Oneness?
"wafted into an entirely new and unexpected state of consciousness [where] there was no longer any inside or outside, no longer an 'I' and the 'others,' … the earth and sky, the universe and everything in it that creeps and flies, revolves, rises, or falls, had all become one" (77).
Unfortunately, it had a "rather woeful end, but it nevertheless remained a discovery, a premonition of beauty and meaning" (77). Wicked.
Jung's awakening to his Self-hood was accompanied by a belief in "the unity, the greatness, and the superhuman majesty of God" (39). Jung's experience of God, he felt, thereafter separated him from the vast majority of people, including theologians and his pastor father, who had obviously never had such an experience or they would no longer be able to "profane those inexpressible feelings with stale sentimentalities" (46).
Indeed, "he never succeeded in discovering so much as a trace of [these similar experiences] in others" which resulted in feelings of "almost unendurable loneliness" and an ongoing internal debate as to whether he was "accursed or blessed" (41). Even at the advanced age when he wrote these pages, he was "solitary, because I know things and must hint of things which other people do not know" (42). He felt that the phrase 'obeying God' was tossed about far too casually, and that "obviously we do not know the will of God at all, for if we did we would treat this central problem with awe" (47).
What do you think? Do we treat 'obeying God' far too casually? I remember listening to Caroline Myss discuss this idea and criticizing the 'New Age' movement for trying to have it all – health and a mystic connection – and to have it easily, with minimal effort. She strongly felt, I believe, that it is not easy, that many of our greatest mystics lived with dis-ease and that the lessons learned this way were an important part of developing their 'spiritual stamina'. Further, I remember her discussing the term 'awe' and exhorting us to return it to its rightful status to represent that which is awe-full. Three of my favourite Caroline Myss books are below.