Atman and the Child Archetype

In Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, Carl Jung notes a connection between the divine child and ‘atman’. Jung says:

“The size and invincibility of the “child” are bound up in Hindu speculation with the nature of the atman [from a Sanskrit word that means ‘the Self’] , which corresponds to the “smaller than small yet bigger than big” motif. As an individual phenomenon, the self is “smaller than small”; as the equivalent of the cosmos, it is “bigger than big.” (Carl Jung, CW 9i, para 289)

Jung goes on to offer his perspective on the nature of the Self:

“The self, regarded as the counter-pole of the world, its “absolutely other,” is the sine qua non all empirical knowledge and consciousness of subject and object. Only because of this psychic “otherness” is consciousness possible at all. Identity does not make consciousness possible; it is only separation, detachment, and agonizing confrontation through opposition that produce consciousness and insight.

Jung also notes the importance of Hindu introspection (meditation) for acquiring such knowledge. Jung says that Self-realization in Hinduism is related to the ‘subject of ontology’ and a release of the ‘object as absolute reality.’ In other words, the ‘object’ becomes ‘ a mere illusion.’

“Hindu introspection recognized this psychological fact very early and consequently equated the subject of cognition with the subject of ontology in general. In accordance with the predominantly introverted attitude of Indian thinking, the object lost the attribute of absolute reality and, in some systems, became a mere illusion.” (ibid)

Reference:

  1. The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.9 Part 1)

 

Reference:

  1. The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.9 Part 1)
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