Jung on God and Psyche

One person who has extensively explored both the psyche and God is Carl Jung. Jung seems to take many perspectives on God throughout his writings. Sometimes Jung views God through the perspective of a scientist, other times as a philosopher, and still other times as a mystic. From this multiplicity of perspective he comes to a central insight: God is a psychic fact.

The idea that God is a psychic fact is not meant to diminish the importance of God. Instead it is an insight into the significance of God within the human psyche. Carl Jung says:

“God is a psychic fact of immediate experience, otherwise there would never have been any talk of God. The fact is valid in itself, requiring no non-psychological proof and inaccessible to any form of non-psychological criticism. It can be the most immediate and hence the most real of experiences, which can be neither ridiculed nor disproved.”

The images and symbols of God reverberate within the mind in the form of psychic patterns. These patterns play an important role in the mind. Jung says:

“It should not be overlooked that I deal with those psychic phenomena which prove empirically to be the bases of metaphysical concepts, and that when I say ‘God,’ I can refer to nothing other than demonstrable psychic patterns which are indeed shockingly real.

No matter how we symbolize God, or what religious perspective we have on God, what is most important is that God is a significant concept for the human psyche. One might say that God is the significant concept for the human psyche, and that we are all in someway or another in relationship to this concept. We can reject ‘God’. We can idealize ‘God’. We can be good children before ‘God’. We can even dedicate our lives to knowing ‘God’. No matter what our approach, God remains not only as a cultural concept, but a core aspect of our psychic matrix.

God is a concept which can never be accurately and correctly defined by words, yet continues to present itself to be known nonetheless. When Carl Jung says that God is a psychic fact he is implying a psychic urge to know a psychic truth which cannot so readily be defined.

If Carl Jung is correct to say that “God is a psychic fact”, then God will be known in correlation with the development of a sort of psychic clarity. Our psychic development goes beyond psychological development to include our spiritual development which opens us to the possibility of knowing the ultimate (radical and profound) truth which lies beyond any particular religious deity, symbol, or notion. This truth is not a far away truth, existing in the heavens above, but a truth that is found within in our hearts, as the very nature of the Self.

References:

1. Carl Jung, Collected Works Vol. 8 , para 625

2. Jung, cited in Wehr, 1988, p. 472.

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3 thoughts on “Jung on God and Psyche

  1. …yes, god(the idea of whatever that may be)is an internal pyschic fact/need, but, gods who exist outside our psyche, such as jesus, yaweh, allah, buddha, can be rejected by us since they are externally not part of our psyche, e.g.,
    my god is named, Anthony. in Antonio’s case he exists externally, is born every day and dies every evening: he is the sun, whom i sometimes call, Antonia, for the sexual balance i demand of creation.

  2. I believe that G-d can be experienced both internally and externally. G-d’s immanence is what we experience in our psyche. G-d’s transcendence is experienced as awe. There is no reason to limit G-d.

    1. Nachshon,
      You have beautifully expressed the dialectical tension between the transcendence and immanence of God.
      Thank you for sharing with us.
      Jenna

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