Carl Jung and the Spiritual Problem of the Modern Individual
Academy of Ideas
When I left that and went on my own spiritual quest, what I found was my need to be with others. It’s a challenge to express myself without becoming part of some mass, but there’s safety in numbers and strength in numbers, so compromise is necessary. This seems more like Carl wants something for himself but doesn’t want to give up anything to get it.
I’m sure he did, his collected works fills shelves.
I claim no expertise on Jung, my affinity for him is founded on how much what little I’ve read by him resonates within me. Thus I don’t presume to speak for him, but rather am sharing my interpretation according to my experiences and perceptions. With that, lets look at the opening paragraphs from that video.
This spiritual problem continues to be an issue for many people in the modern world and it’s widespread existence poses a great threat to the freedom and prosperity of Western societies.
For not only do those afflicted by it suffer as individuals but as more fall victim to it, the stability of a society falters and the potential for political and social unrest increases.
Jung observed the social ramifications of this problem play out firsthand in the form of two world wars in the rise of numerous totalitarian States. He was so appalled by these events that he tried his best to convey his insights to others in the hope of averting similar occurrences in the future.
Jung believed that the emergence of this spiritual problem coincided with the declining influence that traditional religions most prominently Christianity have had on Western societies over the past several centuries. Casting aside these religions has had many effects but the one which Jung saw as most pressing was the fact that it forced countless people to face the existential dilemmas of human life without the helpful crutch of religious dogma.
How totally different did the world appear to medieval man. For him the earth was eternally fixed and at rest in the center of the universe men were all children of God under the loving care of the Most High who prepared them for eternal blessedness and all knew exactly what they should do and how they should conduct themselves, in order to rise from a corruptible world to an incorruptible and joyous existence.
Such a life no longer seems real to us even in our dreams in addition to the rise of secularism. Jung suggested that the development of modern math society also played a significant role in the emergence of the spiritual problem modern society that came into existence during in the Industrial Revolution when large portions of the population were driven from small towns into big cities in search of work and opportunity, instigating the birth of a mass society.
While the development of a mass society generated benefits through the intensification of the division of labor, it also brought perilous problems this new form of existence. Jung wrote, produced an individual who was unstable insecure and suggestible, the insecurity of the individual in a mass society is partly a function of the sheer quantity of people which surround him.
The bigger the crowd the more nullified the individual feels.
Sums up today’s situation.
Maybe he covers it elsewhere, but I don’t get what he’s saying about this inward journey. Where does he think we should all go? I don’t mean to be facetious, especially since I find nothing about raising up the individual in religion, especially Christianity. Seems to me he’s imagining something we had, then saying we lost it. In the entire Bible, you’re either someone who spoke to God, or you’re a “unit of infinitesimal importance”. Most women are just baby machines. The ones who follow Moses constantly complain, then get sent to fight wars. In the gospels, the bit parts are all lepers and sinners and just fall at the feet of Jesus when they see him. There is no inner reflection, no development of self.
Christianity provides all the answers, if you believe, if you commit yourself to Jesus and believe everything priest’s tell you, then heaven will be your reward.
I can relate because from about 9ish to early teens I bought into that Christian story with all my heart and soul.
Then when the entire dishonesty of the Bible and what religious elders were telling us became too obvious to ignore I jettisoned all that. But I remember real well not just the elation of being set free and in charge of my own life, but also the emptiness, the aloneness in the huge universe, and dealing with the reality of mortality and the void after I die. What did it all mean? What was the point?
Where else can you go with such a “spiritual struggle” but inward?
That’s the place I needed to go, inward to face and wrestle with my own death, and yes my individual-ness in the universe, the primal loneness. Into this world alone I was born and out of this world alone I will die. How to find peace in that? That can only be accomplished through a serious inner search, which in my case eventually I had me winding up with a vision of my own religious myth based on my woo interpretation of real life facts as I understood them at the time. Here goes:
I envisioned my(everyone’s) birth, as union between an egg, a sperm, and a passing cosmic spark of energy. (one of many holy trinities). It is the healthy union of these three entities that brings about a living thriving baby, rather than a miscarriage (that’s probably a later embellishment )
In any event, as we live and grow and thrive, our spirit changes in step with the rest of our being. You are today the sum total of all your previous days, and tomorrow you’ll be that much different from today. Our bodies, our lives, our spirit all are a reflection of one’s life and what it dished out to you, and what you put into it, and what you get out of it, and so on and so forth. Then when I die, the sum total of who I was gets reflected in that departing spark of life (soul, spirit which leaves me to emanate throughout and rejoin the all. (the white light) Then perhaps somewhere a sliver of my departing spirit will meet with an egg and sperm and the whole cycle starts again.
I used to invest that with a lot more gravitas, now it’s a charming kid’s story that’s close to my heart. It’s not true, but it’s close enough to satisfy this mere mortal’s late night insecurities.
Besides since those days my understanding of evolution has blossomed a thousand fold.
These days given my appreciation for Deep-Time and Evolution’s fantastical story,
I have a spiritual foundation and solidity that no silly holy book worm can touch.
I believe this is sort of what Jung was trying to convey.
When I left that and went on my own spiritual quest, what I found was my need to be with others.
I think you’re right. It’s a deeply personal journey, a loner’s journey.
I myself am by nature introspective and have aways been a bit of an inscrutable outsider, content to make my own observations and be with my own thoughts.
Though like-minded folk sure are fun for company, just haven’t been many along my way.