Jungian Psychology is about Soul Development, not Ego Development

by Dr Bren on January 25, 2011

Heaven is Within

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. This happens to be, perhaps, the most important and fundamental distinction regarding the cosmos. God created an eternal realm and space-time realm, the transcendent and the manifest worlds. The problem exists in how we have traditionally interpreted this verse. Christianity taught us to believe that heaven is an afterlife experience rather than a hear-and-now experience. Unfortunately, Eastern religions fair no better in their explanations of the cosmos with their ideas of nirvana (heaven) and their disdain for the earthly world calling it nothing but an egoic illusion. Jesus said, The kingdom of God is within you. Heaven is within you.

What does this have to do with psychology? Clinical Psychology adheres to the Christian idea of heaven as an afterlife experience and therefore, for the most part, does not address soul. Clinical Psychology, besides following the medical model of pathologizing psyche, focuses on ego development, only half of psyche. On the other hand, Jungian Psychology focuses on both ego development and soul development. It recognizes that God is within you. I am addressing a critical distinction within the discipline of psychology. Clinical psychology only addresses the part of us that pertains to the manifest world, time and space. If refuses to address the spiritual realm which is why Jung’s psychology is barely mentioned in most schools on psychology. Besides Jungian Psychology there are schools focused on spiritual development, however, most of these schools have slammed an Eastern spirituality onto a Western ego, i.e. transpersonal and integral. (Jung warned against this nonsense some 80 years ago.) Now outside of the schools of psychology there are dozens of groups focused on the western esoteric tradition, i.e., Gnosticism, Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Rosicrucians, etc.

To his credit Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychology has given me the distinctions necessary to drive the point that I am making further. In his AQAL model he separates level development from state development. Level development pertains to ego and is linear and causal existing in time and space and very much culturally influenced. State development is not linear. In fact, they are all ever present which is why I have called them eternal. Level development continues as does evolution into infinity. State development (Actually it is a misnomer to call it state development, but there is some logic to this wording.) refers to what Wilber has called the Great Chain of Being or what the esoteric traditions have called the four worlds or domains. In fact, we have four brain states that correspond to these four great states of being. Wilber called these four states: Gross, Subtle, Causal and Nondual. The Rosicrucians, the Mystical Christians, distinguish the four as: Physical World, Desire World, World of Thought, and Pure Spirit.

Soul Development

Individuation in Jungian Psychology starts with the idea that ego development has reached its zenith, the highest level of development reached in our place in time, and the call for spiritual development has arisen. (I need to point at that Jungians rely heavily on psychoanalytic theories to heal ego in the cases where neuroses are preventing ones spiritual development.) Assuming a healthy ego Individuation proceeds through four stages of soul development: encountering the shadow, encountering the contrasexual soul-image, encountering the same-sex god image, and emergence of the self, or what others call self-realization. These stages of soul development correspond roughly to the four states in the Great Chain of Being. Ironically, Jung’s idea of Individuation aligns with Wilber’s idea of Enlightenment. In fact, these two psychologies need each other in the same way Jung’s psychology built on the foundation of Freudian psychology.

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