Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Carl Jung and esoteric practices

Carl Jung showed much interest in Eastern practices with psychological overtones. Unlike some new age folks who consider following an esoteric path as their aim, Jung was a scientific man by nature, he almost never stepped beyond his own inner experience as psyche reality rather than a goal to pursue. Like when he talked about his own out-of-body (OBE) experience after an accident, it was in descriptive terms as if reporting a case of special psyche experience. Modern medical practice will call this near-death experience. And the Dalai Lama also put it this way when he said he practiced dying a few times a day. The Dalai Lama, like Carl Jung, carefully differentiate two different perspectives. And both seem to believe the metaphysical side needs with a belief system (religious or otherwise), and both seem to think that a separate analysis will not weaken such belief systems.

Carl Jung said he was not a practitioner of Taoist yoga nor did he advocate westerners to fall wholesale into this esoteric practice (actually he warned against it!). But he did venture into some form of deep meditations himself. It is interesting to note that Jung wrote the The Seven Sermons to the Dead (a text of revelations from god or Jung's archetype, whichever way you like to look at it). He distributed copies to his close friends, which action he regretted later. Should he continued with his revelation path, he might have pursue a more religious career.

The recent publication of his Red Book added some lights as well as controversy to the issue of Jung's metaphysical orientation. Some people say he was a scientist and some say he was a Gnostic (or even a leader of a secret religious cult!). His Red Book documented his venture into his own unconscious - not only personal unconscious but also collective unconscious - the archetypes as he called it). That was the time when he feared that he had a coming schizophrenic onset. Perhaps his act of writing his inner self saved him from this downfall, nobody knows. It is interesting to note that he professed in his biography that, as a scientist, he wanted to take this (golden) opportunity to study the unconscious firsthand, using himself as the subject! Because of its schizo-like contents, his heirs refused to publish it not until recently when his granddaughter decided to publish - to make the record straight, so to speak.

In classic Taoist yoga practice, during deep meditation, a practitioner should just go through his own unconscious and should remind himself that these are mere fantasies that could harm the practitioner. And the practitioner should proceed until Tao is find - where consciousness and unconscious will be integrated into a higher level of consciousness, and final enlightenment comes. Of course, there are some Taoist practices with the objective of finding one's own god (as guided or suggested by his master) in the process. And out of meditation, these god that they found will protect them. But that will be another story.

Anyway, Jung was interested in things that classic Taoists would try to avoid. And in Taoist terminology, Jung was not yet enlightened. To this end, as explained above, Jung of course held different views!

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