Jung on what we cannot know

Sunday, August 7, 2016

7:15 a.m. [My brother] Paul suggests that I ask Jung’s opinion of the way our politics is being driven by irrational forces. Specifically, he asks about the fears propelling the Trump campaign but obviously extending far beyond that. I’m willing to ask, but I’m also hesitating lest it lead to too extensive an answer. But, I guess I can always quit when I get tired, as usual.

Dr. Jung? Any comments on our psychological situation? Or, put it this way, anything you would like to say to us? I well remember your saying to some interviewer that whether mankind has a future depends upon whether enough people do the work on themselves. I assume that nothing has changed; that this is still the case.

[Pause. I can feel that there is some obstacle to communication. Bad timing? Or is it that I don’t know where to start?]

The difficulty you are experiencing is that you still wish to take ownership of these sessions, as if you were making them up. You may not wish to, but perhaps that is a different “you,” you see. You have driven the doubter to the outer rim of the castle but you have not exiled him; nor can you. A discordant part of oneself is there for a reason; it exists. It is a fact, no matter that you would prefer it not to be so.

As I always pointed out to people (who often didn’t believe me) the unconscious is really unconscious. It cannot be lured into the light and revealed. It cannot be made into a suburb of your central city, available for commuting to. It is really unknown to the consciousness, and no sleight of hand is going to make it familiar. This is the difficulty, you see. We don’t want to believe that what we know is not the same as what we are. We want to feel that we are in charge of the castle. And of course, we in our lives we are responsible stewards for the castle. But we did not build it, we do not really maintain it except by trying not to harm it, we do not know who owns it or what its purpose is. Yet we want to think we do.

Or change the analogy. We live in a ship – a yacht perhaps, or even a huge ocean liner. We tend the cabins, we maintain the equipment, we polish the brasswork. When it occurs to us, we even man the wheel! But although it is our ship in a manner of speaking, we are not the ship. The ship has its own existence, and we live aboard it. Naturally we cannot expect to know everything that transpires in the life of a ship, no matter how large a flashlight we bring to our inspections, or how diligently we man the sails or how deeply we study the ship’s operation and deduce its operating principles.

These are analogies, and are therefore necessarily incomplete and misleading if taken too literally.

The body has its own different cooperating intelligences, and much of what goes on is opaque to us, but I get that you aren’t meaning the body in these analogies, but our psyches.

Yes. You have been instructed over the past few years on the difference between the “individual” that much of society still considers a given person to be and the “community” that the same person may just as correctly be considered to be. Is it to be expected that anyone will know every member of the community he lives among? And if he does, is it to be expected that he will know all their relations and friends? For there is no end to connection. An end is always an arbitrary cut-off point. You see, by definition nobody, by any contrivance, by whatever diligent study, by any fluke of chance, can ever be aware of every part of his own nature. He may make inroads in this or that direction, but he cannot make inroads in all directions, nor can those inroads extend infinitely – but his connections, his extensions, do extend infinitely.

I shall say it again, and shall be disbelieved again: The unconscious is always unconscious.

It occurs to me that people may be misinterpreting what you say because of that word “unconscious.” To us, “unconscious” sounds like “sleeping” or “unaware,” and I don’t think you mean that, exactly.

The non-3D mind, as you are calling it, is a good representation of what I mean. Many consciousnesses, existing in community, interacting, not brightly lit as the 3D consciousness is but extending far beyond the 3D mind in itself. Your equating “the guys upstairs” with the racial unconscious is provocative and not entirely misleading. It is not tremendously accurate, but one would have to be far better versed in psychology than you are to improve upon it and correct it. For the purposes of leading people in the right direction initially, it will serve, so do not think to tinker with it to get it more correct.

Perhaps we should do better if I were to define the unconscious as “that of which we are unconscious.” That may clear it up, perhaps. Just because we don’t see the squirrels running in the trees does not mean that there are no squirrels – nor that there are no trees! They exist, on their own and in their own right and for their own purposes, and whether we see them or not may matter to us, but not necessarily to them. So you have many elements in your psychic organism, or mechanism, or – let us use a newer word – your psychic ecology, that do not depend upon you in any predictable way, that do not necessarily interact with you, although they may. Of most of the totality of what you are, you are necessarily not aware. You are not conscious of these elements, but they exist.

We are not talking about secret agents, or hide-and-seek. IF you wish to learn about certain things, perhaps you will be able to. But you will not be able to learn about all things.

This is so simple a statement, and so few people ever really believed me when I made it. Being captain of your ship does not mean being your ship – and it does not provide guarantees against mutiny, either. Perhaps you have a mutiny and it makes your life impossible, then you go to an alienist, to a phycologist, to try to get the crew back under control. But he cannot make you the same thing as your ship. He can only help you regain your rightful place; he cannot make you aware of all of you, any more than he can make you into the sun.

If you can once internalize the fact that you, yourself, are vastly more than you can ever become aware of, many puzzles will begin to resolve themselves. But thinking this is only the first step. What will transform your understanding is getting it into the feeling as well as (not instead of) the thinking.

Again, nothing is being kept from you deliberately. You are not beings whose security clearances are not high enough for you to be given the information. But you cannot be given more than you can receive. You cannot be “given” anything. Your non-3D component is ready and willing to provide hints, nudges, and plain facts, but it can’t give you what you are unable to receive.

And it is up to us to provide the receptors.

[Pause] That would be a long discussion in itself. Wrong definitions render communication difficult.

Well, I’ll type this up and send it around. Maybe we can talk about the psychology behind our elections another time?

We “on this side” are always willing.

Thank you. Another time, then.

One thought on “Jung on what we cannot know

  1. Wow. This is an amazing session to me. So clear, so clarifying and beautifully written. The analogies of the castle and the yacht really help. And Jung is so direct. It does take me back to vast impersonal forces, operating on the individual level.

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