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Jungian Dream Analysis: Roots of Religion and How the Unconscious 'Sees' Our Personal Future.

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posted on Mar, 3 2008 @ 03:50 PM

by desert

Maybe in a thousand years an acceptable "belief" will be that "God" and "man" are one and not separate. We are God, but not in an egotistical, childish way of thinking, that being "God" is like being King of the Hill. When we truly know this, we know the Truth.

The strangest thing about it is that we'd really be going far far back in our history as well.

from The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis-Williams. Thames and Hudson [ISBN 0-500-28465-2] p. 290-291

Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.

(William Wordsworth 1770-1850)


And yet... Who would wish to deny the wonder of Upper Palaeolithic art, Wordsworth's seeing 'into the life of things', the great music that religious devotion (and a good deal of cerebral activity as well) inspired in Bach, John Donne's wrestling with the ineffable, or a Miserere in the soaring acoustic of King's college chapel? If we dismiss such things as merely the functioning of the brain, are we in danger of losing something supremely valuable? Perhaps we should distinguish between, on the one hand, Wordsworth's pantheism and Donne's intellectual devotion and, on the other, the terrible belief that God is speaking directly to us and telling us not only how to order our own lives but also to impose that order on others' lives. What is in our heads is in our heads, not beyond us. that is the crux of the matter...

I think Jung's dream analysis went against his time's belief that dreams were meaningless, merely sleep's fun or nightmares, caused perhaps by a good or bad diet, what one ate that day perhaps.

Absolutely, but to be fair, Freud was the first to consider dreams to be more that just garbage created by an idiotic subconscious. Jung expanded upon the successes of Freud and, even though they eventually grew to disagree, they nevertheless respected the work each did immensely. But, you're right, before Freud and Jung, patients idling their lives away in 'madhouses' were ignored, other than to list their ailments and insanities. Nothing was ever done to help them towards a cure before then.

Dreams certainly were not viewed as part of religion or supported by science.
The Biblical readings by the pastor during Sunday service of passages talking about dreams seemed to be read as if they were fairy tales, not meant to be taken as literally, while at the same time everything else was to be taken literally .

Fairy tales will likely take up much of this thread eventually, since I intend to take that road later on. There's a HUGE amount of relevant material supporting just how much effect myths and fairy tales have on us. What is even more important, is how similarities in myth became established everywhere the world over, even though the cultures were seperated for thousands of years. The Hero Myth is just one example among many.

When dreams (and religion) are stripped of fear and superstition, it is a time of growth. When humans quit trying to scare the bejeezus out of each other, maybe then there will be more peace.

Amen to that, brother (or sister)

My dreams? Yes, I have found that dreamwork works. Dreams have helped me understand what was happening in my conscious Life; and, have helped prepare me for future events, sort of like a preview to lesson the impact of something bad when it happened.

Oh, and, yes, one can learn to interpret their own dreams, just as one can access God directly, not needing an intercessor, a priest.

posted on Mar, 3 2008 @ 07:01 PM
Well, it must not be concerning me too much because I didn't even know I had it (guilt) until your post made me realize I'm having dreams with Watchers. So I guess I'm okay. Maybe I just have a really mean Watcher.
He/She probably has ADD too. JK

[edit on 3/3/08 by idle_rocker]

[edit on 3/3/08 by idle_rocker]

posted on Mar, 3 2008 @ 07:53 PM
reply to post by masqua

I DO believe in re-incarnation, but only due to a dream I had as a very young child (Freud would jump at that one)

yes, I feel that is part of the issue too. Our dreams hold many answers from the past, present and future and yet, some people will hold fixed to one body of theory. I feel and please correct me if I am wrong: Freud would analyse your dream and limit it to 'this life' or your feelings as a child, the environs et cetera. And because of the restriction of his own theory, I believe it rules out many other possibilites, such as reincarnation.

What a vivid dream to have at that age. I also believe that 'whatever,
you feel the dream means is, in fact what it is'; sometimes the analytical process confined to 'theory' negates or rejects the possibility that the 'dreamer' has the answer unconsciously and in may not depict a serious psychological issue.

Jung' theory on the other hand is not so confined.

I read recently about the lost symbols of Nostradamous and wanted to mention it here. I wonder if at all it could be relevant?

Interpretations are always multiple... there is no one answer that can come from outside of yourself.

Yes, I agree. I guess, what concerns me is the theories that are quick to label the dreamer with a psychological issue. This I believe poses a great risk to the individual as it concludes or gives an absolute interpretation

I think that if people can be open to the fact that "interpretations are always multiple" (3 or more words = reference) then the risks associated with analysis would be reduced.

There is no body of theory that is absolute; it cannot be as it is constantly evolving within the constraints of dogma. It is not even free to expand.

I guess my point here is if someone interpreted a dream I had and said, oh that is due to this and was caused by this, I would consider it but not completely subscribe to one meaning or diagnosis.

[edit on 3-3-2008 by Thurisaz]

[edit on 3-3-2008 by Thurisaz]

posted on Jun, 2 2008 @ 11:15 AM
Jung and Neuroscience

Thanks and congratulations, Masqua, for authoring this very interesting thread, and larding it with so much interesting information.

I'm a kind of Jungian myself. I'm familiar with his writings, not just the popular ones but even some of the Collected Works, such as Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, which I found very difficult -- almost impenetrable, to be honest -- the first time I attempted it. I believe Jung's ideas to be enormously illuminating and useful, even though some of them seem to be the result of poetic insight or intuitive genius rather than the fruit of anything that might properly be called scientific research.

Much of my early difficulty with Jung arose from the seeming malleability and ambiguity inherent in some of his ideas. What I mean is that they appear different to different readers, depending on what the reader brings to the work. Despite Jung's own frequent warnings, it can easily appear to a religious or superstitious reader that the great psychologist is talking about divine or supernatural entities (symbols and archetypes) which have some kind of independent existence in a mystical realm known as the Collective Unconscious. This is an error. Jung could be superstitious at times (remember the exploding bookshelf episode during his famous argument with Freud?), yet his theory was not intended to support belief in the supernatural but, as you say, to explain it -- along with a lot of other mysterious things.

My own confusion was cleared up rather nicely some years ago when I read an explanation of symbols, archetypes and the collective unconscious by a Jungian psychologist who was also a neuroscientist. The following explanation is based on what I learnt from his writing, but has been somewhat elaborated since then by my own subsequent reflections.

1. Emergent consciousness threatened by instinct

Although we are self-conscious beings, our selves do not consist only of those parts and aspects of which we are conscious. We also have strong unconscious urges and drives, which we share with others. These urges and drives are our animal instincts.

Now consciousness is, at root, self-consciousness - the consciousness of oneself as an individual entity, separate from the rest of the world and from other people. Primitive human consciousness, newly emergent from the shadows of unreflecting animal existence, defined itself only in terms of consciousness - what Freud and Jung called Ego. The newly conscious mind had no knowledge of its own unconscious, instinctual components.

However, these components -- these instinctual drives -- were there all the same. And consciousness frequently fell victim to them. Some of them were (and are):

- Anger (uncontrolled instinctive aggression)
- Lust (uncontrolled sex drive)
- Greed (the unrestrained desire to get as much as possible of that which sustains life and pleasure)
- Gluttony (the same)
- Pride (the uncontrolled drive to acquire and hold status)
- Envy (of others' status)
- Sloth (inertia, or the instinct to conserve energy)

Yes, the Seven Deadly Sins are all manifestations of uncontrolled instinct. They are engendered by powerful drives that can disturb, frighten, rule and even destroy the fragile Ego. Alternately, their actions can be of enormous, unforeseen benefit to the Ego.

Malefic or beneficial, what these powerful instinctive drives have in common is their ability to shove Ego out of the driving-seat of the self and take the wheel themselves, causing the individual to do things that are not in his own best interest (or which might result in a benefit, but with no guarantee that they might not be detrimental in the long term).

2. The conceptualization and externalization of instinct

Now remember, the emergent consciousness did not include a concept of these inner drives as part of the self; they seemed to arise from outside, beyond the circle of light in which stood the Ego. And that is how consciousness, which needed to acknowledge and deal with their existence and effects, actually conceived of them.

These instinctive drives were seen, originally, as external, invisible entities of overwhelming power that forced the individual to behave in frightening, often dangerous or destructive ways.

Because, as Shar_Chi pointed out, we all have brains that have evolved the same way (and because we all have the same instincts), the externalization and conception of these drives as entities took a similar (though not identical) form in all individuals.

Such was the genesis of bush-souls, elemental spirits, ancestral entities and the like.

These externalized projections are the archetypes and symbols of the collective unconscious. They are the conceptual forms in which our unconscious, instinctive drives are manifested into primitive consciousness. As for the collective unconscious, it is nothing but the conceptual sum of all of these shared drives, the Boolean space, if you will, in which the set of shared symbols and archetypes consists and operates. Like the archetypes themselves, it has no objective existence.

3. The origins of magic and religion

As humans evolved language (I suspect this evolution began only after the emergence of consciousness), people could talk about these externalized entities to each other. The result of these discussions was a coalescence and solidification of the archetypes into gods, demons, spirits, etc. Each hunter-gatherer band or tribe had its own.

Once externalized, these entities could be dealt with - managed - through ritual, sacrifice, prayer and other methods we think of as magical or (later) religious.

Individuals and tribes who were good at this (whose religious innovations were more effective than others' in managing and controlling these instinctive drives) would be less at the mercy of their instincts. They would suffer fewer episodes of irrational, destructive behaviour -- violent confrontations, outbreaks of mass hysteria, etc. -- and as a result enjoy survival and reproductive benefits that others could not. Thus, in primitive times (and for millennia afterwards, all the way up to modern times) religious individuals and communities enjoyed a selective advantage. If a religious disposition is something that could be passed on genetically (or even culturally -- memetically), this would account for the universality of the religious impulse in humans. In fact, I believe this is the reason why most humans today have a predisposition towards religious ideas, and all cultures evolve religion.

4. Archetypes are neurological phenomena

That pretty much concludes what I have to say. I hope readers of this thread have found it interesting, and if it is at all helpful in resolving the confusion that swirls about Jung's ideas concerning the collective unconscious and its inhabitants, I shall be more than pleased. At the end of the day, archetypes are just neurological phenomena, the operations of instinctive drives -- formally, a set of neurons firing in a cascade, or whatever -- projected onto the screen of consciousness in diffusive, elusive ways. Consciousness and culture take these projections and give them many forms -- magical and religious, as I have discussed above, but also mythical, artistic, political and even scientific (witness Kékulé's dream of the structure of benzene). Much of human culture, in fact, is based on them. But they are not entities in their own right, and by no means are they to be thought of as supernatural, or having paranormal attributes and powers.

posted on May, 31 2014 @ 12:26 PM
I'm bumping a really old thread. I'm into Jung and I thought some of the new folks would like to read this. I know I'm enjoying reading it over ....

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