Jung on what we can and cannot know

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Nearly 6 a.m. I skipped over the section in The Portable Jung on “Analytical Psychology and Poetry” and will probably skip the sections on synchronicity and maybe “Answer to Job,” although come to think of it, reading it now will surely be very different from whenever I read it first. When I finish “Individual Dream Symbolism in Relation to Alchemy,” which is pretty interesting, I will have remaining only “The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man” and “The Difference Between Eastern and Western Thinking.” The Spiritual Problem is taken from Modern Man in Search of a Soul, which is where I came in, back in 1970 when I found it in England, or was it in Switzerland. That is a long loop to close.
But, as so often, I am feeling a different feeling in the background, one of futility and perhaps self-deception. Although I choose not to give in to it – to give it the reins, so to speak – I am aware that it is there, lurking. Nothing new.
F: Say, Dr. Jung, since I can ask you that, would you talk to us about the roots and the significance of habitual feelings like that? Is it a personal peculiarity of mine, or is it universal, or is it somewhere in between, and what does it mean to us?
CGJ: I will answer perhaps a slightly different question.
F: That’s fine. I know you have a reason.

CGJ: You carry around with you a gnawing uncertainty that fixes upon this or that specific aspect of your life, but refers to your life in general, and that uncertainty is – who am I really? And this, though it may not be talked about, is part of the human 3D condition, because so much of who and what you are must always remain unknown to yourself. You may construct a shorthand definition of yourself – indeed, life compels you to do so – but self-examination will demonstrate the difference between the shorthand and the reality it tries to encapsulate.
Most of your life proceeds unknown to your consciousness. You think you know that, but you don’t, really. It is an accepted concept – an idea – but until an idea connects to emotional reality by way of experience, it remains only an idea.
Freud’s contribution to Western psychology was to remind it that, in fact, psychology was something other than careful observation of rational processes. In other words, he demonstrated that irrational processes such as dreams had an effect on normal conscious life –which should not have been the case, if rationalistic theories of human life had been true. Indeed, we could say that before Freud the West had no psychology any longer – having rejected the psychology implicit in the Catholic world-view – and had in fact backed itself into the reductionist dead-end that said there was no transcendence because there was no abutment to the bridge leading from life.
F: That is clear to me, but may I translate?
CGJ: Of course. That is part of your function here.
F: I take that to mean – that bit about the bridge and the abutment – that the dead-end was, that since there was supposedly nothing beyond time and space and the physical world, there was nowhere, finally, to anchor any values, any idea of transcendent meaning.
CGJ: No, and neither could western man return to the medieval faith he had outgrown, or perhaps we should say that had been removed from the realm of possibility for him because of developments in the human psyche partly caused by physical changes and equally causing such changes. There was no going forward with materialism, but there was no going back either.
F: The gods never reinhabit the dwellings they abandon, you said somewhere.
CGJ: That’s right. Archaic forms may be regarded as yesterday’s modes of thinking, inappropriate to changed conditions.
F: I just thought of a somewhat ridiculous example, actually.
CGJ: And of course you know which are “your” thoughts and which arrive from unknown sources.
F: Touché. The analogy that came to mind is the old Dick and Jane readers for schoolkids. They were designed to describe familiar things to children so they would know how to recognize and spell the words. But spellers describing a rural world ceased to be helpful when the times moved on and kids were mostly growing up in cities or suburbs.
CGJ: Not so bad an analogy, and all the better for being simple. The words had not changed, but in one sense you might say that the children had changed, because the environment that shaped them, with which they interacted, was too different for the same intermediary images to have the same effect.
So. Most of your life is inaccessible to your conscious awareness, and always will be. No matter how much you learn about the world, about yourself, just so much more of your psyche will remain hidden from you.
Hidden, you say? Do you mean it is fleeing from being seen? No. Hidden in the way the back of your head is hidden from you, no matter how fast you may whirl to try to see it! Hidden, in the nature of things. And if you will think about it you will see why this is so.
F: It is actually hidden mostly even to itself, isn’t it?
CGJ: This time it is I that must ask you to expound upon that insight, for the sake of those listening. But yes, that is the idea.
F: Well, it just came to me, the non-3D world of interconnected souls and their larger beings must be vast, and continually changing, and therefore much of it must be inaccessible from any given part of it. Who can be large enough, who can have a large enough flashlight, to see it all clearly, or even dimly, really? It may be that what is seen beyond a certain periphery is an idea of more, rather than actual shapes however dim.
CGJ: That is a perfectly acceptable description of the situation, within certain limits. If you take what I described as the personal and the collective unconscious, and reinterpret them as your local and your extended connections to the great mind that is both very close and very transcendent, you get a good idea both of your human ability to access the infinite – for you do connect, and you can and do, receive guidance and assistance from the non-physical world – and, equally importantly, you get a clearer sense of the smallness of the human ego next to the half-suspected vastness of the self as it applies to any given person.
F: Yes, that image does make it clear. On one end, us with a tin pail on the seashore, and on the other end, the whole ocean.
CGJ: Only do not allow this proper sense of proportion to tempt you into discouragement because you cannot fit the ocean into the pail. That is the difference between quantity and quality. A pailful of seawater contains the same essence as the rest of the ocean around you. (And if different parts of the ocean beyond your sight are different in essence, or aren’t, that need not concern you except theoretically. There is no practical use in weighing the total amount of salts in the ocean.)
Besides, you carry that seawater in your veins, slightly modified to provide you a space suit to wear outside the ocean.
But the point of the analogy is only to reinforce what I said all along, only in a new way that may be clearer in this new context: The ego is valid, it is appropriate, it is needed by the individual for him to establish and maintain a place in the world around him. Where it goes wrong is in identifying what the ego can know or experience as all that matters, all that is “real” and needs to be given proper consideration.
As long as the ego recognizes its proper place in the scheme of thing it will be a proper mixture of legitimate pride and legitimate modesty, and all will go well. When it swells in self-importance, this is –
Well, let us say merely that any divergence between reality and one’s conception of reality is likely to lead to problems.
Now I have not forgotten the question on the floor. It may be answered various ways, but perhaps the simplest is to say, yes, you are right to suspect that your own view of yourself is inaccurate, but it would be even more correct to see it as partial, as necessarily partial (in both senses of the word) because you are living it from the inside and receive only glimpses from the exterior. But this is not to say there is anything wrong or undesirable or even capable of correction is this. That is just the way things are. There is a reason why you are the inadequately informed nerve center of that particular 3D being, you know! If the world wanted or needed or could accommodate an impartial ego running the mechanism, no doubt it would find a way to provide one.
Understand, to say that no one can fully understand his own being is not to say that blissful ignorance or conscious (or unconscious) self-deception is just as good as careful attention to what may be known. Integrity always pays its own rewards.
F: And there is our hour. My thanks.
CGJ: It was a productive question, you see. Any sincere question will connect to material of value to many others.
F: I do see. Till next time.

20 thoughts on “Jung on what we can and cannot know

  1. Frank,
    Have the feeling that today’s information would be better served with the title “Jung on what the Ego can and cannot know”; for me it comes down to “Where it goes wrong is in identifying what the ego can know or experience as all that matters …”

    The focal point is “who am I really?” … that it is NOT our ego has come through loud and clear from Rita and TGU and CGJ and many other lines of teaching. The thrust of this line seems to be to help us work and grow with that ‘big’ question.

    One cannot see the back of one’s head … by whirling the head around. But over time (as humans) we’ve learned ways of ‘seeing the back of our head’, starting with discovering (by feel and being told by others) that it’s there … and growing into mirrors, cameras, etc.

    My point: once we begin to see ‘something’ is there (like the many ‘somethings’ brought through your work) , we (humans) have naturally worked toward seeing and understanding. It seems like some part of ‘me’ is pushing for ‘us’ to see more and more … and ‘as below so above’ makes me feel ‘we’ at every level are in on this. That pushes me to work on “who am I really?”

    1. I highly recommend The Portable Jung, Joseph Campbell, ed., as a concise exposition of Jung’s conclusions in his own words, and as powerfully suggestive ideas once we move the self rather than the ego to the center — which, of course, is exactly what Jung was setting out to do!

      1. “Integrity always pays its own rewards.”
        Frank? Do not know how to say this it sounds a bit crazy,but woke up this morning with “a conversation” in Mind (during the night) with the entity Jesus/Joshua/Jeshua.

        I recall something of “the conversation.”

        Jesus (or his spirit) explained the Term “Mind Above Matter.”
        As he said many a time when he was “walking the earth”, “You can do the very same as what I have done… Walking upon the water, calming the storm, filling the nets with fishes…. and overcome death.
        I am walking in your shoes all the time. I am in you, and you are in me. I have MANY NAMES AND MANY FACES.”

        OF COURSE, the same abilities: “What I can do–YOU can do also.” These biblical expressions are HIGHLY DISTORTED throughout the centuries by “The Rulers” and the narcissism, and likewise the IGNORANCE.

        Whatever it is… both the new and the old fragments about us are prone “to do the education on us” both in 3D as well as in non 3D somehow.

        Ever grateful to you Frank and all the good friends here. Obviously we made “a deal” beforehand to meet across space and time…. Frank,Rita & TGU with many names both known and unknown, in to have “gathered” the flock(smiling).
        B&B,Inger Lise.

        P.S. The two “Pink” granddaughters (age 6 and 11 years old) are coming from school to stay with me today.
        Nice weather both in August and now in September, after all the bad weather here with us this summer.

        1. “I am in you and you are in me,” is one of the first messages I received several years ago as this transformation was getting started for me and I struggled with it, even as it brought tears of joy and recognition. I find it interesting that there are certain themes and understandings that we each are getting, in different ways and and sometimes even in a different order.

          From Frank’s dialogue today: “…don’t forget that for you as well as for others there is something only you can do, well or badly, so you do not have the luxury of assuming that it doesn’t matter if you do it, it will be done by somebody else, and perhaps better. Your work can never be done by any but you yourself. Your inner work, your outer work. If you do not do it, your un-done outer work may perhaps be compensated for by the work of another, but it will remain un-done. And who is going to compensate for the work that you, as leader of your particular soul, are responsible to do?”

          We (or the 3D part of us) may be “gathered” via Frank’s help on this site, even arranged ahead of time as you said Inger Lise, but my mental image (meaning my thought, not necessarily correct) is the rest of each of us in the non is “meeting” constantly to push and pull us along. “They” do a good job of keeping us thinking we’re doing the work, when really it’s “them” doing it on themselves through us.

          1. Thank you very much John,and absolutely agree with you.

            But have thought upon “time” is not linear, so when the old saying about everything happens in its own “order”…It is only related within the “time”-prospect about the physical Universe.
            If we are coping with simultaneous/parallel existences and dimensions, then nothing have “happened” before or after “anything.”

            Now I got a laughter-attack while sitting here in front of the computer when writing this. Do not know WHY exactly, but “the rational mind” asks me if to have become “nuts.”

            BUT to become serious again and gathering my own mind upon the matter:When thinking it all over, to recall, what to have experienced throughout my own life concerning The Christ-Consciousness as such, and now (underlined)have realized the matter of fact about NO MATTER WHAT our belief might be(the science likewise)—Christ is about ONENESS, and never can be “destroyed” BECAUSE “in Him” we all have our being.

            Here the other week came upon a book at Amazon.bookstore(U.K.Amazon),which caught my interest since Simon and I,obviously, have the same/common, interest(and experiences)with Angels.
            And I ordering the book, and received here the other day.

            The book is written by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake, and the title is:”The Physics of Angels”, on the front-cover is it told:”Exploring the Realm Where Science and Spirit Meet.”

            I am VERY curious what the book is telling, cannot wait in to read it.

            I love you friends.
            Another nice day today, and see you soon.
            LOL,Inger Lise.
            P.S. I am all alone today, and have decided to put myself in chair outdoors(if the sun is warm enough at midday)and to read the new book.

    2. I had the door open this morning to the outside and a tiny mosquito appeared. As small as it is, mosquitos love me. They will find an unprotected place on me and will get their meal. Instinctively, I got up and closed the door.

      By shutting the door, I also missed the morning breeze. I missed the sounds of the morning, the waking up of the neighborhood, the sense of plants and trees as the new day opens.

      What if greater consciousness chose to not experience some aspect because it was unlikeable? Every ripple of that experienced would be missed. It would have been there in theory, but not brought to life, not brought to a specific life of the greater being.

      Gradually, naturally, my thoughts became “their” thoughts:

      “Experiencing is not a passive activity. It can be mental of course. But it is putting oneself out there, into the uncomfortable, into the psychic danger zone of the unknown. We’re not talking drugs here, we’re talking moving out of the comfort zones that we surround ourselves with: our beliefs, the thoughts we affiliate with, the opinions that we resonate with. Resonation is valuable, but it doesn’t mean that what doesn’t resonate is invalid; only just not for you, not “here”, not “now”.

      Now you are learning that you, the personality orchestrating this life, is not all there is of you. Yes, (your human personality is) important to translating this physical experience into a form that can be made part of your greater you, but your future as a personality is not to move up to become the Big Man on Campus. You move up by dying.

      Your personality must die as a “lessor” so that it can live as a part of a “greater”.

      Your free will that you just exercised in this very simple example of experiencing the outside world this morning, will also die so that you can have the free will of the greater.

      Mortality is the path to immortality.

      Is there any reason to believe it is different at the next level, and the level above that? It is a cycle of living and dying that is fundamental to consciousness.

      From the Source consciousness is given. A gift for sure, but the verb doesn’t begin to describe the depth and power of it. Consciousness bursts and flows unconditionally into uncountable streams, from greater to lessor, because experiences are also both greater and lessor.

      If you think you are at the smallest end of the scale, think of your cells, the ones on the end of your finger, typing this message. They are experiencing this differently than any other consciousness, greater or lessor, could do.

      The first part of the cycle is the becoming, the emergence of you from that which you came from. It is true at all levels, (and it is) not static, but dynamic.

      In the second part of the cycle you live your experiences, along with everything that is attached to you in so many ways that it’s incomprehensible at your level.

      In the third part of the cycle “you” return, and that is a process of dying. A dying of the body to live as soul. A dying of the soul to live as spirt. And a dying of the greater being to live as an even greater consciousness.

      It all returns home, transformed. The becoming, the experiencing, the dying to an ever greater self is the natural, never ending cycle.”

        1. Frank,
          It’s worth a lot! It’s not just learning how to pick up content, but the process of learning how to live “connected”, a state I believe we are moving toward. I feel like we’re (probably everyone on this site and then some) participating in a “prototyping” phase.

  2. John,

    based on what you wrote above, especially in the first paragraph where “they” kick in, you might find this interesting.

    I read a NDE account on the NDERF site by a relatively young man. His life wasn’t in actual danger (I don’t think he was literally dying, he fainted or some medication caused him to pass out–I can’t recall). Point is he had an Nde-like experience in which he was met a seemingly wise and powerful male being who was matter of fact and no-nonsense. He basically told the guy, “eh, go back it’s not time for you yet.” The guy could feel himself being pulled back to 3-d and he said something like, “Wait! I’m here on the other side. I want to ask question about life and living!”

    The male being communicated: “All right, go ahead.” Now they guy was a little bit stumped. What should he ask? He finally settled on something like, “well, give me practical, day to day advice on how to live my life?” He could feel the male being thinking for a moment before saying (this isn’t quite it but it’s close): “Don’t do what you normally/or usually would do.”

    And that was it. Whoosh, he was back in the everyday world with that little bit of enigmatic advice

    1. Well, there was a thought that went into my head at the moment I shut the door, and that thought caused me to pause and begin listening. The thought was more or less: “by not thinking, and by being robotic in reacting to your dislike of mosquitos, you have shut off other beautiful experiences. If you make a decision to avoid something you generally dislike, also take stock and think about what else you (and this “you” felt more like a “we”) will be missing by doing that.”


      1. Hi John and all.

        What came to mind reading all this…. Well, well, an E.C. Reading again: “Thoughts are THINGS.”

        Hm, wonder WHY the E.C.Readings are always “appearing” from time to time ? Maybe not so astonishing as it seems, as I have studied the Readings for nearly 30 years, in between all the other “things” I have studied.

        But, it is obvious there are MANY dimensions about us. In recent decades a Scandinavian TV series about “the paranormal” in our daily life has been shown. In Sweden the TV-series are called “The Unknown”, and in Norway is it called “The Power of Spirits…something similar in Denmark.

        It is about “ordinary people” who experience shadows and things moving about them of “the unseen forces” both outdoors and indoors. And then mediums (from all three countries), are called to investigate what happens.

        VERY interesting.
        Especially was it interesting what happened on an old farm here in Norway. For generations peculiar things happened in the barn where the animals stayed. Three generations still lived on the same farm, and they told of the animals becoming “released” from where they were tied up. “Somebody” or “someone” during the night had let the cows free.

        And sometimes the present farmer experiencing watching the tools in the barn floating about in the thin air without anyone visible holding them.

        It became worse– One day when the milking of the cows was over and done with…The milk filled up in a 600 litres large milk-tank.The farmer had made the milk and the tank/beholder of 600 litres ready for delivery to the dairy. (One quart = 1.136 l and one l = 1.76 pints)

        When the young farmer came in to check it after a couple of hours, he, the farmer, could NOT believe in his own eyes– because all the milk was gone, the milk had vanished “into thin air.” The LARGE milk-container was EMPTY, not a drop of the milk spilled out on the floor. The milk-container was ALL CLEAN and washed both on the inside and the outside.
        AND to OPEN up the milk-container you had to use HAND-POWER in TWO places, AND a safety-lock.

        Okay, the TV-medium came and she saw two small men with red caps, dwarfs both in the barn and of course, outdoors. AND they had lived on the farm since far back in time.

        The conclusion: The old fairy-tales are true, it is “a knowing” from old, therefore the old tradition each Christmas Eve to go to the barns with a big pot with porridge…. If you did not, the small brownies with the red stocking cap could become naughty and making a lot of trouble at the farm.
        And if they are satisfied they will help in the farm.

        Pretty funny is it not ?
        LOL,Inger Lise.

        P.S. WHERE all the 600 litres of the milk disappeared to, the lady-medium, could not tell. All the milk seemingly had vaporized into “thin air.”

          1. Frank ? I have thought a bit upon “the nature-spirits.”

            In our materialistic world we have forgotten what the Natives (within all cultures of old), always knew: The Living Nature about us.

            And since I have friends who are VERY MUCH occupied in the search of the Crop Circles around in the world… THEN, it occurs to me, WHAT IF it is the Nature Spirits who do the Crop-Circles, just to let us know “they are there” among us, and have always been “there”.

            Some of the crop-circle researchers have told to watch small orbs (light-balls) above the fields at night… (and some of them said to be human-made). Another “take on it” is said to be human-made “Thought-Forms,” a sort of transmitting the energy of thoughts (telepathy/thought transference) into the formations in the corn-fields.
            The UFO-enthusiasts exclaiming it is “the UFOs” who do it–in a way it is true–because they are UN-IDENTIFIED-FLYING-OBJECTS (the nature-spirits as well).

            The late Englishman Geoffrey Hodson (a well-known Theosophist in his day, who moved to New Zealand) wrote books about all the Nature Spirits (also watching the Angels in all sizes). Mountain-Angels and Planetary Angels. ALL sorts of Angelic Beings really, which he could WATCH with his psychic abilities since the childhood.

            I meant to say, IF or WHEN awakening from “the dream”, the dream within a dream (smiles), and we are to become psychic creatures–THEN, we cannot deny the possibilities in everything to be true ?

            Heartily, Inger Lise.

          1. THANK YOU, both of you, Frank and John.

            You know when looking at the particular Farmer on TV, talking about what happens at the Farm… a man who never says another word without to be asked. The “typical farmer” with few words, and always thinking twice before saying anything “unnecessary”, inaccurate or incorrect. A prototype in a family-man who “must sleep on it” to make any changes at all, or ANYTHING about him.

            I can imagine it is his wife who had persuaded him to call for the TV-team with the psychic/medium.
            The look of the farmers grave face when telling about the odd happenings in the barn gave me a laugh. Absolutely a man without many words (his wife had to fill it in all the way).
            A “prototype” of a solid farmer-guy with both feet solidly planted on the ground.
            And his wife the complete opposite, open-minded, lively and smiling. It was she who had contacted the TV-program about “the paranormal.”

            As all know, within a local valley EVERYONE knows each other, and to risk meeting their neighbours and friends after the program demands a lot of courage within a small community, such as “coming out of the closet,” and in telling about Brownies with red knitted caps are still alive at the farm(and still “going strong”), as in the old folklores!!

            But since it was a serious, hardworking family who had lived on the farm for generations, well known and respected among people– THEN, you cannot but rely on what they are telling. The generations stood there (the young farmer, his father, and his granddad stood there in the barn during the interviews). All of them ordinary, solid, down-to earth-peoples.
            AND none of them never (ever) having read a book about the paranormal in their lives.

            Well, the folklores and fairy tales of old were obligatory to read at school all over the country (at least in my time and the generations before us).

            What I have become more and more aware about when to be with Franks` Blog– The Fact of consciousness permeates all and everything about us all the time.

            B&B, Inger Lise.

  3. Yeah, I think so Frank. However, when I first read that line it hit me square between the eyes. My memory of the quotation may not be exactly accurate either.

    But it stuck with me and I tend to want to hold any definite meaning for it in abeyance–kinda like a Zen koan. Because when I thought about it I realized most everything I do is what I’ve done before. Nothing wrong with that, but when you actually consider all the ways you could potentially not do what you normally do it’s staggering. You can begin to get a sense of how rapidly you and the world around you could change as a result…anyway my sense of it at the time was this being wasn’t simply referring to the “big” things we do, but everything we do.

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