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An occult critique of Jung's conception of the Collective Unconscious

Jung was a truely brilliant observer.  He was  what we could call a Phenomenologist.  That is, he  studied the appearances or phenomena of the psyche -  the various appearances and manifestations and forms  that the psyche produces - and understood them with a depth of insight that has probably never been  equalled since.  And it is his observances in this  way that make his writings, heavy and obscure as they are, a mine of information on the workings of the human psyche.

 But when it came to interpreting his observations  metaphysically - to formulating hypotheses in other  words - he was disappointing.  Jung's so-called "Collective Unconscious" cannot be denied as an empirical or phenomenological fact.  But I would say  that for the most part what Jung stumbled upon was not any sort of "racial memory" or collective human psyche, but the experiences of the Inner Being (sensu Sri Aurobindo), including the Numinocosm or psychic universe in all its richness and power.

 From the occult perspective then, Jung's Unconscious is not something which is tied up with the human psyche at all.  It should not even be called the "Collective Unconscious".  After all, one does not refer to the physical world as the "Collective  Physical".  The term "collective" is redundant in the latter instance, as it is for anyone who reads Jung with esoteric eyes.

 And so because of this misinterpretation of the "Collective Unconscious" in biological holistic-materialistic terms, the significance of this discovery was lost.  Which is perhaps just as well, as - apart from a few occultists (and no-one who is any way part of the mainstream listened to or understood them) - there was no-one in Jung's day, and precious  few even in our own, who can sympathetically understand such a concept.  So it was the very conser-vatism of his metaphysics which guaranteed the acceptence, partial and critical as it was, of Jung's ideas.

 The trouble with Jung's term "Collective Unconscious" is its sheer vagueness and ambiguity.  The same term is used to describe realities that, from the perspective of occult understanding, are quite distinct, no matter how much they may resemble each other from the point of view of the superficial materialistic consciousness.

 It's like the problem with "God" and religion.  Just as to the esoterically uninformed, any experience that transcends the personal ego and takes them out of themselves must be "God", so to the conservatively alternative or New Paradigm understanding any greater or transpersonal psychic or archetypal reality must be "the collective unconscious".  These problems have arisen because of the metaphysical impoverishment of our present materialistic society.

 It seems that when Jung was describing the "collective unconscious" he was referring to one of at least four different realities:

  1. any of the worlds of higher, spiritual or divine archetypes, or any of the Gods or Cosmic Powers that inhabit those worlds (as explained in Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, Kabbalah, etc etc)
  2. the wider or greater psychic reality beyond the individual ego and personality, especially the Numinocosm
  3. the earlier or parallel paraphysical realities, such as are described by Blavatsky and Steiner under the headings of previous Rounds, Root Races, etc
  4. the lower, atavistic, sub-physical reality, which a number of occultists, such as Osmund Spare, have attuned to.

 What all these realities have in common is simply that they are pre-personal or trans-personal; they are atterly beyond the consciousness and boundaries of the individual rational ego-personality, and hence encountering them elicits a feeling of awe, like the traditional religious "God" (and certainly realities (1) and (2) at least would automatically be defined as "God" by any religiously minded person).


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content by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 5 October 1999, last modified 15 July 2004