Man and His Symbols

By: Carl G. Jung & Associates

Man and His Symbols is an in-depth introduction to the unconscious psyche. If, as in my case, your understanding of the unconscious extends only as far as the knowledge that you have one, this book might shift the very pillars of your reality.

It did mine.

A consequence of our faith in science and reason, many of us view the world through this overly objective lens, which has a way of removing meaning and mystery from life. This book provides an antidote to that overbearing objectivity, illustrating how the unconscious mind plays an essential roll in the formation of “reality” and opens up an entire realm of ourselves (that I didn't know I had, but obviously do) to explore and learn from.

I had to push myself through it's four-hundred pages, but the gain was unquestionably worthwhile: it opened up, if only a crack of communication, between my conscious and unconscious.

My 10 Favorite Index Cards:

The essence of Jung’s philosophy of life: man becomes whole, integrated, calm, fertile, and happy when (and only when) the process of individualization is complete, when the conscious and the unconscious have learned to live at peace and to complement one another.
— John Freeman
There is, however, a strong empirical reason why we should cultivate thoughts that can never be proved. It is that they are known to be useful. Man positively needs general ideas and convictions that will give a meaning to his life and enable him to find a place for himself in the universe. He can withstand the most incredible hardships when he is convinced that they make sense; he is crushed when, on top of all his misfortunes, he has to admit he is taking part in a ‘tale told by an idiot.’

It is the role of religious symbols to give a meaning to the life of man. The Pueblo Indians believe that they are the sons of Father Sun, and this belief endows their life with a perspective (and a goal) that goes far beyond their limited existence. It gives them ample space for the unfolding of personality and permits them a full life as complete persons. Their plight is infinitely more satisfactory than that of a man in our own civilization who knows he is (and will remain) nothing more than an underdog with no inner meaning to his life.
— Carl G. Jung
Anthropologists have often described what happens to a primitive society when it’s spiritual values are exposed to the impact of modern civilization. Its people lose the meaning of their lives, their social organization disintegrates, and they themselves morally decay. We are now in the same condition. But we have never really understood what we have lost, for our spiritual leaders unfortunately were more interested in protecting their institutions than in understanding the mystery that symbols present.
— Carl G. Jung
It is exactly the same in the initial crisis in the life of an individual. One is seeking something that is impossible to find or about which nothing is known. In such moments all well-meant, sensible advice is completely useless—advice that urges one to be responsible, to take a holiday, not to work so hard (or to work harder), to have more (or less) human contact, or to take up a hobby. None of that helps, or a best only rarely. There is only one thing that seems to work; and that is to turn directly towards the approaching darkness without prejudice and totally naively, and try to find out what its secret aim is and what it wants from you.
— M.-L. von Franz
Somewhere, right at the bottom of one’s own being, one generally does know where one should go and what one should do. But there are times when the clown we call “I” behaves in such a distracting fashion that the inner voice cannot make its presence felt.
— M.-L. von Franz
Nowadays more and more people, especially those who live in large cities, suffer from a terrible emptiness and boredom, as if they are waiting for something that never arrives. Movies and television, spectator sports and political excitements may divert them for a while, but again and again, exhausted and disenchanted, they have to return to the wasteland of their own lives.

The only adventure that is still worthwhile for modern man lies in the inner realm of the unconscious psyche. With this idea vaguely in mind, many now turn to Yoga and Eastern practices. But these offer no new genuine adventure, for in them one only takes over what is already known to the Hindus or the Chinese without directly meeting one’s own inner life center. While it is true that Eastern methods serve to concentrate the mind and direct it inward (and that this procedure is in a sense similar to the introversion of an analytical treatment), there is a very important difference. Jung evolved a way of getting to one’s inner center and making contact with the living mystery of the unconscious, alone and unaided. That is utterly different from following a well-worn path.
— M.-L. von Franz
This resistant side is unable to free itself from statistical thinking and from extroverted rational prejudices. The dream, however, points out that in our time genuine liberation can only start with a psychological transformation. To what end does one liberate one’s country if afterward there is no meaningful goal of life—no goal for which it is worthwhile to be free? If man no longer finds any meaning in his life, it makes no difference whether he wastes away under a Communist or Capitalist regime. Only if he can use his freedom to create something meaningful is it relevant that he should be free. That is why finding an inner meaning of life is more important to the individual than anything else, and why the process of individualization must be given priority.
— M.-L. von Franz
Suppressed and wounded instincts are the dangers threatening civilized man; uninhibited drives are the dangers threatening civilized man. In both cases the “animal” is alienated from its true nature; and for both, the acceptance of the animal soul is the condition for wholeness and a fully lived life. Primitive man must tame the animal in himself and make it a helpful companion; civilized man must heal the animal in himself and make it his friend.
— Aniela Jaffe
The deeper layers of the psyche lose their individual uniqueness as they retreat farther and farther into darkness. ‘Lower down,’ that is to say, as they approach the autonomous functional systems, they become increasingly collective until they are universalized and extinguished in the body’s materiality, I.e, in chemical substances. The body’s carbon is simply carbon. Hence ‘at bottom’ the psyche is simply ‘world.’
— Carl G. Jung

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