musings on Self-realization in the light of psychoanalysis … by Jennifer Lilla PhD
I often think about Carl Jung’s notion of ‘psychic facts.’ In particular I am interested in Jung’s idea of God as a psychic fact. In my view, this term does not undermine the notion of God. Instead it honors the importance of God in terms of subjective experience.
There are two basic perspectives from which philosophy postulates God. One is of God transcendent to life– outside of or beyond life. And the other is of God immanent to life. An even more radical idea of immanence comes from the psychology of Carl Jung. This view postulates God as immanent to the psyche– God is within us.
While I love these philosophical and psychological concepts, in my daily life I am not too concerned about where God is located. What I am concerned about is my relationship with God: the closer the better. If God is within, then that is as about as close as we can get. My relationship with God is a personal experience, taking place within my heart and mind.
I believe that, within this lifetime, nothing is more important than developing a capacity to be in relationship– and in particular in relationship with God. But I am not sure many people see life this way. Most people want the security of the church or the independence of atheism. I have not met too many people who can honor the quiet simplicity of an inner relationship with the divine. Carl Jung inspires such a relationship. And to understand his perspective we must come to terms with God as a psychic fact. We must meditate on the notion, contemplate it and realize the implications of an immanent God. Here is a quote to help us in such an endeavor:
“I hasten to add that I am not alluding to the vulgar notion that anything ‘psychic’ is either nothing at all or at best even more tenuous than a gas. Quite the contrary; I am of the opinion that the psyche is the most tremendous fact of human life. Indeed, it is the mother of all human facts; of civilization and of its destroyer, war. All this is at first psychic and invisible. So long as it is ‘merely’ psychic it cannot be experienced by the senses, but is nonetheless indisputably real. … These primordial affirmations are based on what I call archetypes. In view of the fact that all affirmations relating to the sphere of the suprasensual are, in the last analysis, invariably determined by archetypes.” (Carl Jung, CW 9I, para 206- 207)