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Geof Nanto

Self-Realisation: A Jungian Perspective

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“Self-realization is a word that is being used today by various psychological schools, for the most part in a way based loosely on Jung's concept of individuation. Looking closely, we see, however, that they are using it in a different sense from Jung's, namely, in the sense of discovering a certain ego1 identity. Such an identity, as we know, arises through the ego's becoming more continuous and stable. The ego then knows something more about itself. Jung, by contrast, meant something entirely different, namely, consciously discovering and entering into relationship with another psychic content, which, drawing upon the Upanishads, she calls the Self 2. In this case also, a more continuous and stable ego identity develops, but of a rather different sort. It is less egocentric and has more human kindness. Here the ego does not so much realize itself, but rather helps the Self toward realization.”



1.       Jung uses the term ‘ego’ purely to refer to our individual centre of consciousness. His usage has no pejorative inference such as the more popular use of the word to mean an inflated feeling of pride and superiority to others.  

2.       For an analysis of the parallels between Jung’s concept of “Self” with atman of the Gita and anatta of the Dhammapada see:


The Jungian school emphasises that the ego must be strong enough to withstand an encounter with Self.  Hence, for some, strengthening the ego is a very necessary part of the work. For others who habitually and aggressively defend their ego a different approach is needed. Such an aggressive/defensive attitude is most often not indicative of a strong ego but rather a symptom of a weak ego. That's very much how I was when I was younger, hence my path to better psychological health has been long and slow.  But now I'm at the stage where my focus is very much on allowing Self-development in the Jungian sense. This attitude means I'm increasingly aware of the many opposing forces I have to contend with within myself. Hence I tend to stay clear of battles with other people, or else, at least, use them as reflections to gain insight into otherwise hidden aspects of my own psyche.


“The main process of inner development takes place between the ego and the Self—or, in old-fashioned language, the image of God within one. Others and their opinions have no business there. It even comes to a point where even the analyst as one's partner is too much. Ultimately, as Jung points out, a person has to "be alone if he is to find out what it is that bears him when he cannot bear himself anymore. Only this experience can give him an indestructible foundation."" Such an attitude has nothing at all to do with narcissism or with egoistic individualism. These are no more than a preoccupation on the part of the ego with "the dear ego, not the Self, which is ultimately an inner mystery of the individual.


The relationship between a person and the Self is not egoistic, far from it—a person can never really relate properly to other people until they have found themselves, that is, his or her Self. All the same, Jung admitted that his position was one-sided. In reality, the extraverted path of social adaptation and the introverted path of relationship to the Self constitute a pair of complementary opposites, both justified and yet at the same time exclusive of each other. But under the pressure of overpopulation and increasing urbanization, and with the influence of materialism and of the extraverted orientation of most psychological schools, we are in great danger of focusing on just the one pole and thus of crushing the individual in his uniqueness.


Failing to take account of this could bring an unconscious counterreaction marked by unrestrained egoism and, in the extreme case, even asocial criminality. For this reason, according to Jung's view, the time has come to pay more heed to the inner path of the individual on the way to the Self. For only she who is anchored in the Self can truly act ethically. Only such a person will no longer uncritically follow the currents of fashions and fads and political "isms." She can then also perceive the hand of God amid all the slime and muck of life—but only if she takes a closer look.”


(The sections within quotation marks are adapted from Marie-Louise von Franz’s essay, Self-realization in the individual therapy of C G Jung.)



Edited by Yueya
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I agree there seems to be an inborn “absolute knowledge”, meted out to us piecemeal in metaphysical images, that if followed can show us the current state of the subtle energy body, and how to develop it. 

Jerry Alan Johnson refers to these metaphysical images here: 


As the Shen is developed and the Upper Dantian is opened, spiritual communications may reveal themselves in a flash of an image or as a vision in the mind's eye. These images and visions are sometimes very brief and abstract. Correctly interpreting these images takes practice, as the images streaming from the Yuan Shen must be distinguished from the dreamlike wanderings of the subconscious and cannot be interpreted easily by the logical mind.


Chi Kung doctors must be able to distinguish between true and false messages reflected through their visions. True visions are received from the doctor's divine connection to the Dao or Wuji, while false visions reflect messages from the subconscious. The ability to accurately separate these visions is another example of "knowing without knowing."


I believe a lower more distorted version of these images is available to us all in dreams, which also need to be correctly interpreted to be of value. It is a strange idea that a blueprint exists and is actively fed to our minds, I don’t know where it comes from, what I do know is that by following it, whether in dreams or if you’re lucky via someone open to these visions via their “connection to the Dao or Wuji”, this blueprint can be a very direct method for developing the subtle energy body in accord with its innate potential. 

Edited by Bindi
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