A letter to a friend=

M. put your questions to me, in the wake of your visit to see Jung’s Red Book. As M. conveyed it, you wanted me to comment on, ‘how Jungianism is like Buddhism’, ‘is the Self like God?’, ‘what did it mean that Jung died all alone in his tower?’

Jung died in despair, proclaiming that his life work had failed.. He knew he had blown it. And he was right. People treat him as a giant, but he was a pigmy. I met him in extreme youth, and was hugely unimpressed by him — probably because next to my mentor of the time, Eric Graham Howe, he seemed small and just full of a typical Germanic Metaphysical Hot Air. If you read the book of the Tavistock Lectures [published in the 1930s in London], you will see how long on grandiosity and short on substance Jung really is. In the book, E.G. Howe questions Jung and he replies in a way both pompous and fatuous.. Jimmy Wallerstein, the uncle of a friend, in college wrote Jung — and got back an incredibly condescending and unctuous letter [such as only someone ‘up himself’ could bother to pen].

In midlife, Jung had a severe psychotic breakdown that later he attributed to a pre-vision of the coming World War One. This is typical of Jung’s inability to face unflattering facts about his psycho-pathology– his wife despaired of this to Freud. Jung was narcissistic, as well as schitzoid, and that means he was both grandiose and over obsessed with his injured self; this self had to be ‘spiritually’ over cooked as well. His whole account of Individuation, and the growth of the Self, describes the process we now understand as ‘Self Repair’, or ‘Narcissistic Healing.’ No more, no less. No need to give it spiritual pretensions.

In fact, rendered as spirituality, it is misleading, and false.

Martin Buber tears Jung to shreds in a debate they had, from which Jung fled, stung in his narcissistic omnipotence. Buber discerned something Luciferian in Jung, and summed it up in a sharp critique= “Jung wants to divinise the soul without first sanctifying it.”

Lucifer is spiritual self-love. Part of Jung’s despair, alone in his tower, is that this is a perfect symbol for his inability to love what is Other to this injured self. Many therapists and psychologists have pointed out there is no I–Thou, no real relationality, in Jung’s writings; as suffering from a narcissistic illness, this is understandable, but as a so-called spiritual path, this leads only to ‘Lucifer, the god within.’ The ‘Gnostic Myth’ Jung evolved in the aftermath of his psychotic collapse is Luciferian.

Narcissistic pathology forms in childhood, and can be repaired in adulthood. But when we find the self, we no longer go looking for it; we give it away to life. A truer mantra would be= find the self to forget the self.


No, there is no similarity between Jungianism and Buddhism. Jung himself tried to assimilate Buddhism to his notion of Individuation, and the rise of the Self, but it won’t wash. Jung and Buddhism are operating on different levels. The Buddhists speak of the No-Self– and much else that Jung ignores, including hard ascetic discipline, and the difficult yoke of meditation practice, which works toward the nous mind, which is neither what Jung calls conscious nor unconscious. Most importantly, Buddhist ‘Emptiness’ is not to be confused with the psychic area of the unconscious that Jung was beguiled by [the fate of the psychotic person]. Many transpersonal therapists and psychologists, like Jung’s patient and student Assagioli, or Ken Wilbur, have pointed out that Jung confuses the psychic unconscious with other kinds and levels of spiritual faculties and spiritual realities that are not the same as, and are indeed beyond, the ‘collective unconscious.’ Jung does not seem to have had visionary, or mystic, experiences, but did have vivid imaginal experiences of the psychic unconscious [precisely the psychotic bias]. Thus Jung is confused about what lies outside the conscious sphere, and dumps it all together, calling it all just an extension of human consciousness. That it is not..

Bewitchment by the unconscious, and being deeply confused by it at a below the head level, is the heritage of psychosis. Jung over values the psychic unconscious, and over extends its reach. He deifies it, it is his idol. [This reflects the family drama, where the mother is powerful and witch-like, whilst the father is weak and conventional. Jung is taken up in the matriarchal= patriarchy is absent. Moreover, the mother’s family were heavily involved in ‘spiritualism’, a movement that conflates ‘psychic’ with ‘spiritual’ as a matter of course].

Some credit can go to Jung. He raised the issue of the soul, and the psychic unconscious. The ‘self’ is an identity of the soul that, as Jung says, unites conscious and unconscious. But so what? Jung makes this a bigger issue than it really is. Many things in life re-unite the conscious and unconscious parts of the soul= creativity, love, situated action and its peak, being ‘in flow’ [or in the zone].. Some gifted children already have a tacitly united soul. This theme is ‘an area’ of life, but not as Jung made it, ‘the area’ of existence. Existence has more meaningful, and challenging, fish to fry. In any case, St Anthony of the Desert anticipated Jung 1600 years earlier when advising people, “become what you are.”

Spiritually, three more points can be added to Buber’s critique.

[1] If cleansed, the soul can become a vehicle through which God works, and to use a Biblical Jewish and Christian symbol, a House in which God in-dwells. But there is no sense in which the Self simply is God, or is a ‘god.’ Being touched, energised, illumined, inspired, by God via the soul as the receptor is a Gift of the God who remains always Other to us, however much he draws close to, and enters, us. Jung was narcissistically offended, like Lucifer, at the very existence of Divine Otherness.

[2] There is more to the soul itself than the two-fold conscious–unconscious dynamic which Jung was so interested in. The soul has other dimensions that Jung misses. For example, the mystical soul that unites with God, nature, art, other people, in ecstatic joy. Jung misses Eros. The marriage of Eros and Soul is quite different to claiming the soul is already potentially divine, and just has to ‘develop’ itself to become explicitly divine. That is Luciferian. The soul is divinised through cleansing [the hard ascetic side], and as a gift of God’s Love. Another dimension Jung misses is the Shamanic ‘converse’ with Nature, its Energies and Spirits, which are also real, and Other, to the soul.. Jung champions the inner, but misses the ‘in between’ [or inter-subjective] where inner communicates with another inner. Such inner to inner connection also involves Love.

[3] But more primary than the soul relationship to God, from a Jewish and Christian viewpoint, is the heart relation to God that involves our deepest, most tormented and tumultuous, passion. There is no heart in Jung whatever, no existential cutting edge. Again, this is down to his thought refusing Otherness, and wanting to keep everything within the circle of one consciousness. The common Jungian mantra about ‘expansion of consciousness’ leaves out the struggles and sacrifice of passion, as well as its personalness. The heart identity is personal. Its passion is personal in its heroism [and again, Joseph Campbell misses this heroism in its existential reality, as does James Hillman].

For people with no respect for organised religion, Jung seems to offer an alternative ‘way’ to something that might be called spiritual [or might not, depending on how ‘discerning of spirits’ you are prepared to be]. Consequently he has been guru-ised. I saw as a youth that this guru-isation was like a deathly palace surrounding and squeezing the life out of him. He wanted out, yet more secretly he needed it. The narcissist prefers admiration to love. Jung knew, at the end of his life, he had not broken out of his own lonely tower to enter the risk of love, and thus his work suffered because it misses the whole key that unlocks all dimensions of the soul= Love. This is the real meaning of the Eros–Psyche myth of ancient Greece. The soul has riches and gifts, but as with Lucifer’s charisma, without love and loving, these fruits go corrupt, and rot on the vine.

You can spend your life polishing the diamond of your expanded selfhood, your enlarged consciousness, but so what? What do you have at the end of that? Nothing much.. This was Jung’s despair. Spending your life polishing the diamond until it shines means that the diamond remains hard and cold– it never bleeds for anyone, it never breaks due to love.

The Diamond Self, radiating light and colour, thus becomes the block on having a heart, and having your heart broken by love. This is the adventure of life. Those who miss this know, as they die, that they blew it.

Love is necessary to awaken and unlock the soul. But Love goes farther with the heart, breaking it, and remaking it, as part of the fight for the redeeming of the whole world process.

Cante wasteya.