Carl Jung wrote often of religion. In one article, he analyzes the Book of Job. He notes that the god of the Old Testament is something called a demiurge, a leftover from the Fall. Let’s face it, the god of the Old Testament was a pretty nasty overlord. I mean, really, drowning everyone in the world? Yikes! How different is that god from the God of the New Testament, the forgiving, God, the God that admits that suffering is a part of life? Quite different, I’d say.
In this way, Carl Jung is validating Gnostic Christianity. Yes, we fell from grace. But how do we get back? In the Old Testament, it was by going through folks like the Pharisees or a god that had a temper and disliked those not of the chosen people. But with the New Testament, the path to God was through the Self and all people, even the Samaritans and even worse the Gentiles.
And it’s when the topic of the conversation gets to the Self that the works of Carl Jung come most into play. Carl Jung understood that the path to being at peace with God was through self-reflection and …, well, meditation and psychoanalysis. The mind is a complicated instrument. For example, it’s fairly clear that most human beings act in a self-defeating manner, at least sometimes (for many, all the time, and how about those that admit defeat with suicide?).
What Carl Jung realized was that the path to self knowledge, to greater self-awareness was through Eastern practices in, say, Buddhism. I would like to point out that somewhere in the Bible it says, if you want to know God, know thyself. But maybe that was in a Gnostic gospel. Those are gospels written by Coptic Christians and others but were not incorporated into the Rome-approved version of the Bible. In fact, these gospels were destroyed wherever they were found, and it was a lucky find for these scrolls in pottery jars, hidden away from the Roman occupiers.
But the Western religions believe in an external God, who exists somewhere (typically above) and to whom we must kneel and worship. Well, hidey ho, that’s not how Buddhists see it. God is in us. We have the divine spark. Even in the West we admit that we have a soul. Right? And isn’t this soul a part of the divine Oneness? I think so. And it makes sense to me that in order to find the path to God, I examine myself and try to sort out all the crap and see what is divine in me. And in a sense isn’t that also the goal of Jungian psychoanalysis? Yes!
And Jung’s conundrum was that he wanted to incorporate the inner contemplation of Eastern Religion with the context of the gospels of the New Testament. Well, of course Gnostic gospels show the way. Carl Jung in fact purchased some of these Gnostic gospels, the originals, and had his institute study them. I wish he’d had another 20 years or so of life to give us his interpretation. And because he was media savvy, he could start a movement. And that’s what he wanted. He said as much in one of his essays. But how to do it? How do we intertwine the Western and Eastern religions. Jung suspected the solution would have to come from America, if it were to come at all. America, after all, was a melting pot, a place where ideas could clash and be talked about without the threat of arrest from an overzealous government. (aka, Soviet Union).