Self-realization as revealed in art, symbol & sacred text: Analytic psychology meets Eastern philosophy
Right from the beginning of Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung address the ‘unknown’ and the ‘hidden’ (CW 5, para. 4- 5) Jung brings insight to the ‘hidden’ dimensions of being, as well as the soul’s relation to the more subtle aspect of human existence as expressed by archetypal symbolism. A subtle insight in Carl Jung’s work appears to be that the soul is instinctual: guided by a sort of spiritual instinct for truth, this is our telos.
The word teleology is from Greek telos ‘end’ + -logia. The word denotes a branch of philosophy that deals with the ‘ends’ or a final cause. Living souls seek ‘to fulfill themselves.’ Jung spoke periodically about Teleology. For example he says:
“Life is teleology par excellence; it is the intrinsic striving towards a goal, and the living organism is a system of directed aims which seek to fulfill themselves.” (Carl Jung, CW 8, par. 798)
One might say that the soul’s instinct is that of ‘Affirmation—uniting—Eros.’ We seek to know the Other (as individual or divine) and in doing so hold the potential to realize the nature of the Self.
The highest realization is Self-realization: a knowing of the unknown, a seeing of the unseen. This is the place and space of uniting self and object representation: what is ‘hidden’ in the other is ‘hidden’ within me, the essential nature of being, of Self.
Our instinct (as Eros or libido or Object seeking) appears to have a somewhat purposive character. This purposive character is expressed through the ambitendency of the libidinal energy, always expressing itself in archetypal pairs of opposites. The larger movement of libido is dialectically integrating though this ambitendency, as it winds its way toward the unknown frontiers of psychic life (see Jung, p. 86).
Life is determined by modes and forms of such seeking for Self-realization. A life is the manifestation of a particular way a being seeks and strives toward Self -realization, or defends against it. Life seeks fulfillment, a goal: a final integration of the opposing forces within psychic life.
The dialectical movements of psychic life involves a process in which opposites integrate into new syntheses. Upon integration a horizon of knowing emerges, bringing with it new oppositions. Each discovery brings us closer and closer to the hidden, to know the unknown. The unknown is the frontier which gives rise to this primordial tension of being, as well as a horizon toward which we are instinctively drawn.
In spiritual terms, we are driven toward the unknown of Self and Other. In the end, at the final edges of the horizon, the Self is a unified Self. This Self which brings us into closer contact with the other beings of the world, so that we may understand what is essential in both our Selves and other Selves. It is a Self beyond ‘self’.
Analytical Psychology: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1925 by C.G. Jung,
edited by William McGuire