Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain, Founder & Spiritual Director
"The Self is a quantity that is supraordinate to the conscious ego. It [the Self] embraces not only the conscious but also the unconscious Psyche, and is therefore, so to speak, a personality which we [the ego] also are." ("Two Essays on Analytical Psychology," C. G. Jung Collected Works vol. 7, par. 274)
In C. G. Jung's conception, the archetypes (as we have defined them in previous lectures of this series) are "contaminated with each other" -- which is to say that they, like the pseudopodia of an amoeba, are merely extensions of a single, trans-existent entity, namely the Self, or God. Similarly, in the Ten Sefirot each Sefirah "contains" all the remaining nine others, being only a "specialization" of the whole totality. This is, of course, very much like the "fractal" images created in chaos-theory physics, in which each separate "piece" of the image contains the whole, an amazing algorithm of the Divine Sparks as described in Neo-Sabbatian Kabbalah.
Thus, we see God referred to in the opening passages of Genesis as "Elohim", a Hebrew word that is both singular and plural at the same time. Moreover, as I point out in other lectures, this amorphous, nonspecific pluralism of God's identity (as reflected in His name) gradually coalesces into a singularity through His ongoing collisions with man until, in His encounter with Moses, He reaches that place of self awareness where, for the first time, he finally exclaims, "I AM." (Exodus 3:14)
Viewed in this light, the human "ego" can be seen, in itself, as an "archetype" of sorts, in the sense that it is a special case -- an extrusion, if you will -- of the Self. In earlier lectures, I call the dynamic process by which this birthing of the ego takes place, "psychic mitosis." It can be summarized as occurring in the following stages:
. . . Stage 1: that point in the evolution of the ego just following gestation, but prior to consciousness. It is comparable, of course, to Ayn-Sof in the Kabbalah.
. . . Stage 2: the undifferentiated state of Consciousness, surrounding the fetus, creates a space within itself, much as Ayn Sof does in the process of TzimTzum described by Lurianic Kabbalah, in which to create the ego by "reproducing" itself in miniature.
. . . Stage 3: here we see the process of Psychic Mitosis in which the Self, within the individual consciousness it has created, reproduces itself in miniature through Psychic Mitosis. This is comparable to the creation of Adam Kadmon, the primordial Ten Sefirot, in Kabbalah.
. . . Stage 4: this represents the moment of actual birth, where the newly-formed "chip off the old block," the ego, leaves the "inner" world of the mother's womb and enters the "outer" world of empirical reality. At this point there is still no separation between the ego and the Self, the former still being a special case of the latter. For this reason, the so-called "Jesus" who, if he existed at all, as a Jew continually points to infants as examples of the Kingdom of Heaven. For example, in the Gospel of Matthew he says, "I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like [newborn] children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3)
. . . Stage 5: here, the ego, like the Self from which it came, begins to encounter the Existential "Other." Out of this encounter the enantiodromia of "I" and "You" takes place, out of which the infant ego's illusion of separation from the Self begins to emerge. Nevertheless, the ego remains connected to the Self by what Edinger calls the "ego-self axis," comparable to the center column of the Ten Sefiroth, of which he writes, "The experience of consciousness is made up of two factors, 'knowing' and withness' -- i.e., knowing in the presence of an "other" in the setting of two-ness." (The Creation of Consciousness, page 17).
. . . Stage 6: at this point, and out of its experience of "two-ness" with the external world of Others, the ego loses its connection to the Self, and deduces itself to be separate from and even equal to the Latter. Nevertheless, Jung states:
"The Self is a quantity that is supraordinate to the conscious ego. It [the Self] embraces not only the conscious but also the unconscious Psyche, and is therefore, so to speak, a personality which we [the ego] also are." ("Two Essays on Analytical Psychology," C. G. Jung Collected Works, vol. 7, par. 274)
. . . Stage 7: this is the crucial point in the spiritual process of individuation -- in which the ego is awakened to its connection with the Self and slowly engages it in what Jung calls a "tete-a-tete." Gradually, through this process, the ego becomes both see-er and Seen, which leads to the "Job Experience" described in Jung's Answer to Job.
. . . Stages 8 thru 11: this is the process of re-absorption of the ego into the Self advocated by Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. It is not, however, considered appropriate in Neo-Sabbatian Kabbalah, since once absorbed back into the Self, the ego can no longer do its work of Tikkun HaPanim, or "Repairing the Face of God" by bringing Him into consciousness of Himself.
It is also at this point that Jung's spiritual paradigm parts company with those of the East such as Hinduism and Buddhism. In the latter traditions, the goal of the ego is to become reabsorbed (as shown in stages 8 thru 11) back into the Self from which it comes, to lose itself, as it were, in the "Ocean of Bliss" of which it is merely a wave on the surface. Jung, however, postulates that such a dissolution of the ego defeats the ultimate ambition of the Self, which is to enter human consciousness and "become" man. In other words, mankind is the Self's gateway into the world of creation, and the human ego -- reawakened to its connection to the Self (as in Stage 7) is the Keeper of that Gate.
Therefore, Jung suggests, were the ego to dissolve into the Self (as shown in Stages 8-11) it could not function as the mediator between God and His creation, which He yearns to re-enter through man. Thus, what Jung proposes is that rather than "returning" to and being reabsorbed back into the Self, as shown in Stages 8-11, the ego better serves its own goals and those of the transcendent archetypes, by remaining at Stage 7, where it sustains a dialogue with them through an "ego-self axis" as Edinger calls it. (See Edward F. Edinger, The Evolution of Consciousness.)
This discussion so far presupposes two conditions of the ego: what I call the "dis-attached" condition (as in Stage 6), and the "re-attached" condition (as in Stage 7). To oversimplify, we can also call the former the "bad" ego (which is what we normally mean by the word) and the latter the "good" ego (which we less often consider). The "bad" ego keeps us separated from the Self by virtue of its detachment from and sense of parity with it, whereas it's through the "good" ego that both God and man come into consciousness. Someone whose dreams I trust once told me the following:
"I am attending a lecture by a theologian who is standing on a stage before a vast audience, of which I am a member. At one point, the theologian spoke of the 'agnosticism of God.' I then ran forward to the front of the stage and asked, 'Are you saying that God is an agnostic?' To which the lecturer replied, "Yes, that is what I am saying; God isn't sure He exists'."
Now I take this dream (and others like it which I have collected) to be a confirmation of Jung's point in Answer to Job and elsewhere -- that in His primordial condition of Eyn Sof, God cannot apprehend Himself, and it is only out of His increasingly complex encounters with mankind that His consciousness evolves from the diffuse Elohim ("Gods") of prehuman creation to the concrete Eheyeh ("I AM") of Moses and the burning bush-- that is, He ceases to be AG-gnostic about His existence and achieves Gnosis ("Knowledge") of Himself through the relationship He has established with the "good" ego. In the words of Isaiah, "Prepare in the wilderness a way for Yahweh. Make a straight highway for our God across the valley." (Isaiah 40:3)