Thursday, February 20, 2014

GOD AND LOVE: A learning curve for me. February 19, 2014

Two quotes of C.G. Jung came up on my Facebook screen today. I've been familiar with both of them for many years. But it came as a reminder of the two most fundamental and far reaching changes in my perception of things most important over the past 30 years. Like most of my changes, which to me are of the nature of the meaning of the Greek word 'metanoia- 'to perceive something very differently than one once did', they came quite suddenly in the vision experiences I had strongly for several years beginning especially in mid August 1985. I was  working full-time  during all this  except for a couple of months before the visions started. It was only after such ideas had been integrated into my mind that I found writers who were able to give me ways to understand this process of inner transformation. The one writer who helped more than any other was Carl Jung. Since those initial changes I have benefited from many of the things he wrote coming out of his amazingly wide range of study, both from outside sources and what he discovered in his own depths. 

As I have crossed the 70 year mark of life and am being encouraged by my doctors to have surgery on my neck to prevent more serious spinal cord and nerve damage, I feel prompted by the appearance of these two Jung quotes to state afresh the two themes that appear to me as ones fate had wired me to become more informed about. And to live out the implications of them as much as possible. I did not become significantly aware of these themes and how central they are to me until I was close to forty years old. And then quite quickly they both were calling for my attention from the outer events of my life and from the inner stirrings as well. The two themes have to do with the 'nature of God' and the 'nature of love.' These are not new to anyone and the world is full of words and ideas about them both, maybe more than any others. But I've come to believe that our conventional ideas and images of these two realities is far from being completed in our personal development and of humankind in general. I think the new perceptions I came to have and am still working with point to changes in both that our collective consciousness is on the threshold of beginning to embrace. If one went through my blog posts it is obvious that God and Love are central in the dreams and essays recorded there. So in this little essay I'm not going to repeat what I have learned or described of how my perception of these have changed. I will simply place here the two quotes of Jung with a simple preface to each of them. It is significant to me that on January 6, 2014, without any initial plan on my part, that I stood for an hour and a half in the room where Jung, 60- 80 years ago, first wrote these things.

I. The first has to do with the nature of love. What Jung does here, written in the last years of his life and in the last pages of his quasi autobiography, is to confess his conviction that love is beyond any formal definition, though we must try to find the best metaphors for it and seek to observe its effects. And that the power of love can potentially still awaken humanity to a higher quality of living and consciousness which is beyond anything we have even imagined. This expresses my own estimate of love. A strong notion I carry is what the fullness of love would look and feel like in individual and collective human life , in ways I can't explain, is palatable in my deepest being. Some have felt I have romanticized love. I think I have simply taken it very seriously and been open for its living reality to teach me something of itself and about myself. I apologize for the Latin and Greek phrases. But you won't miss the general picture.

In classical times, when such things were understood, Eros was considered a god whose divinity transcended our human limits, and who therefore could neither be comprehended nor represented in any way.
I might as many before me have attempted to do, venture an approach to this daimon, whose range of activity extends from the endless spaces of the heavens to the dark abyss of hell; but I falter before the task of finding the language which might adequately express the incalculable paradoxes of love.
Eros is a kosmogonos, a creator and father-mother of all higher consciousness. …. In my medical experience and my life I have again and again been faced with the mystery of love, and have never been able to explain what it is. … No matter, no worse expresses the whole. To speak of partial aspects is always too much or too little, for only the whole is meaningful.

Love “bears all things” and endures all things” (1 Cor. 13.7)

These words say all there is to be said; nothing can be added to them. For we are in the deepest sense the victims and instruments of cosmogonic “love.”

I put the word in quotations marks to indicate that I do not use it in its connotations of desiring, preferring, favoring wishing, and similar feelings, but as something superior to the individual, a unified and undivided whole. Being a part , man cannot grasp the whole. He is at its mercy.

He may assent to it, or rebel against i; but he is always caught up by it and enclosed within it. He is dependent upon it and is sustained by it.

Love is his light and his darkness, whose end he cannot see.

“Love ceases not”-whether he speaks with the “tongues of angels,” or with scientific exactitude traces the life of a cell down to its uttermost source.

Man can try to name love, showering upon it all the names at his command, and still he will involve himself in endless self-deceptions.

If he posses a grain of wisdom, he will know, ignotum per ignotius-that is by the name of God.

That is a confession of his subjection, his imperfection, and his dependence; but at the same time a testimony to his freedom to choose between truth and error.”
(Carl Jung – Memories, Dreams and Reflections p. 354 )

II. The Second theme that underscores the unplanned goal pursued by my life has to do with the nature of God. We should know as obviously true that no human thought or words can capture a full meaning of what our consciousness bearing species has always called God. For, similar to love, God is a whole of which we are only a part; a part can never grasp the whole. But we are an important part, for we bear the capacity of an ever widening consciousness through which to better know God. As humans we are the one thing in the universe, we yet know of , that can create any 'knowing of God.' If not for us(or conscious ones like us somewhere in the universe) God would not , could not be known at all and in a most real sense not exist. It is a general fact that humans had from most ancient times carried the intuition that they might come to 'know God.' To know God fully would to be fully conscious which is impossible but it is reasonable that we could 'know' God more fully than what God has been known before, simply because we are potentially more conscious here and there than were our ancestors. As you listen to Jung speak of God from a very deep place within himself you hear him describe a reality that is far more present and real than any orthodox image has allowed. He sounds much like the N.T. description of God being that in which, 'we live, move and have our very being.'

The most troubling aspect of God that I came up against, and I think that any human could come up against, is that God is not morally perfect, not perfectly good. This for sure is the big kicker which seems to be the last idea any believer in God wants to even consider much less to claim. When the subject is raised most any orthodoxy leaves the room in an emotional disgust. The perfection of God is that last bastion that any orthodoxy or prejudice is willing to surrender for fear of losing God. It is the greatest taboo of all. Some would say that such an estimate of God's nature is to render God not God anymore, but I would say that is not true. It is even quite the opposite. This is not the place for me to go into any defense of this significant change in my perception but in a way I'm convinced; that one day in the life of any human taken with full seriousness and without anything to defend would teach this to all of us. Or a perusal of a few Old Testament stories, heard objectively with nothing to defend but the truth would send us away with some need to 'tell on' Yahweh for his immature and obnoxious ways at times. But because of the metaphors of God developed over time immemorial our resistance to such a notion is the very last aspect of an ultimate God that we would ascent to. It has been no different for me. And like the other rediscoveries I've made on my journey, this was through a direct raising of consciousness, not by academic discussions or reading Jung or anyone else.

There are many posts in my blog that work through this alarming aspect of God along with suggested readings of some of the finest minds of the human family. These quotations about God from Jung's mature work remind me that Jung experienced, as many others have, that God is far nearer and real than most dare to imagine and that God can be as terrifying and amoral as God can be a radiant expression of all that is good, light, faithful and loving. God is not a simplex of perfection to be defended but a complex to be discovered, as it is in reality, in the center of human life and consciousness.

Far from lessening my conviction of God's reality, crossing this threshold of perception brings God to greater constant reality and to my surprise leads to a strong and tender empathy for God. For it has made me aware that God suffers precisely the same kind of ways that I and my fellow humans do. For, after all, we are made in God's image. One N.T. Writer speaks of the Sacred as being one who knows suffering and disappointments (I would add imperfections) as well as us humans, thus making it possible for us to actually identify with each other. And it is from such suffering, and the raised consciousness it gives birth to, that both God and the creature human move to higher levels of consciousness, bringing to my mind a grander hope for a bright future for humanity and for the our planet than I ever could have had with my previous conventional perceptions. Here are some  words for your consideration about the nature of God from C.G. Jung.

Jung 1. “To this day God is the name by which I designate all things which cross my willful path violently and recklessly, all things which upset my subjective views, plans and intentions and change the course of my life for better or worse.”

“For the collective unconscious we could use the word God. But I prefer not to use big words, I am quite satisfied with humble scientific language because it has the great advantage of bringing that whole experience into our immediate vicinity.

“You all know what the collective unconscious is, you have certain dreams that carry the hallmark of the collective unconscious; instead of dreaming of Aunt This or Uncle That, you dream of a lion, and then the analyst will tell you that this is a mythological motif, and you will understand that it is the collective unconscious.

“This God is no longer miles of abstract space away from you in an extra-mundane sphere. This divinity is not a concept in a theological textbook, or in the Bible; it is an immediate thing, it happens in your dreams at night, it causes you to have pains in the stomach, diarrhea, constipation, a whole host of neuroses.

“If you try to formulate it, to think what the unconscious is after all, you wind up by concluding that it is what the prophets were concerned with; it sounds exactly like some things in the Old Testament. There God sends plagues upon people, he burns their bones in the night, he injures their kidneys, he causes all sorts of troubles. Then you come naturally to the dilemma: Is that really God? Is God a neurosis?

“Now that is a shocking dilemma, I admit, but when you think consistently and logically, you come to the conclusion that God is a most shocking problem. And that is the truth, God has shocked people out of their wits. Think what he did to old Hosea. He was a respectable man and he had to marry a prostitute. Probably he suffered from a strange kind of mother complex.”

Jung 2. “The absence of human morality in Yahweh is a stumbling block which cannot be overlooked, as little as the fact that Nature, i.e., God’s creation, does not give us enough reason to believe it to be purposive or reasonable in the human sense. We miss reason and moral values, that is, two main characteristics of a mature human mind. It is therefore obvious that the Yahwistic image or conception of the deity is less than that of certain human specimens: the image of a personified brutal force and of an unethical and non-spiritual mind, yet inconsistent enough to exhibit traits of kindness and generosity besides a violent power-drive. It is the picture of a sort of nature-demon and at the same time of a primitive chieftain aggrandized to a colossal size, just the sort of conception one could expect of a more or less barbarous society–'cum grano salis."

“This image owes its existence certainly not to an invention or intellectual formulation, but rather to a spontaneous manifestation, i.e., to religious experience of men like Samuel and Job and thus it retains its validity to this day. People still ask: Is it possible that God allows such things? Even the Christian God may be asked: Why do you let your only son suffer for the imperfection of your creation?

“This most shocking defectuosity of the God-image ought to be explained or understood. The nearest analogy to it is our experience of the unconscious: it is a psyche whose nature can only be described by paradoxes: it is personal as well as impersonal, moral and amoral, just and unjust, ethical and unethical, of cunning intelligence and at the same time blind, immensely strong and extremely weak, etc. This is the psychic foundation which produces the raw material for our conceptual structures. The unconscious piece of Nature our mind cannot comprehend. It can only sketch models of a possible and partial understanding.”

jung3“It is only through the psyche that we can establish that God acts upon us, but we are unable to distinguish whether these actions emanate from God or from the unconscious. We cannot tell whether God and the unconscious are two different entities. Both are border-line concepts for transcendental contents. But empirically it can be established, with a sufficient degree of probability, that there is in the unconscious an archetype of wholeness. Strictly speaking, the God-image does not coincide with the unconscious as such, but with this special content of it, namely the archetype of the Self.”

“God is reality itself.”

“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.”

“All modern people feel alone in the world of the psyche because they assume that there is nothing there that they have not made up. This is the very best demonstration of our God-almighty-ness, which simply comes from the fact that we think we have invented everything physical – that nothing would be done if we did not do it; for that is our basic idea and it is an extraordinary assumption. Then one is all alone in one’s psyche, exactly like the Creator before the creation. But through a certain training, something suddenly happens which one has not created, something objective, and then one is no longer alone. That is the object of certain initiations, to train people to experience something which is not their intention, something strange, something objective with which they cannot identify.

“This experience of the objective fact is all-important, because it denotes the presence of something which is not I, yet is still physical. Such an experience can reach a climax where it becomes an experience of God.”

Jim Hibbett

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