Part 8, "Archetype and Ego"
On one very important level, Jung's notion of the archetype can be understood as a primordial, autonomous, psychological "scenario" that lies dormant in the collective, impersonal unconscious until, for one reason or another, it invades and possesses an individual, personal unconscious, literally battering the ego back and forth in the throws of its own preexistent drama in much the way a dog worries a bone. Jung calls this an "archetypal possession," of which the Biblical account of Job is one.
In other words, to answer our opening question, the Book of Job is, on one level, a "parable" of the always-imminent collision between the individual Ego and the higher Self (i.e., God), as played out by an archetypal invasion of the latter into the individual psyche of the former. Moreover, like all other archetypal invasions, that of the "Job Experience" has a beginning, a middle and an end -- and, therein, lies Jung's great contribution in Answer To Job.
That is, Jung lays out in exquisite detail the devastating Yahweh/Job scenario for anyone unfortunate (or fortunate) enough to find themselves trapped within it. Thus, the Possessed knows rather precisely where they are, where they've been, where they're headed, and what to expect when they get there in the archetypally predictable unfolding of this turbulent and self-propelling encounter.
Jung experienced this collision with God, out of which he wrote Answer To Job. His student and my mentor, James Kirsch, experienced it under Jung, and I did under James. Mine lasted ten years and I can testify to its power to destroy and transform the individual ego, making it, in Jung's words, a vessel for the continuing incarnation of God. (James, incidentally, described his life's work with Jung in the same Jungian anthology in which my chapter on Kabbalah and the interpretation of dreams appeared, namely Modern Jew in Search of a Soul. James's essay is entitled, "Reflections at Age Eighty-Four," pages 147-155.)
Unlike Eastern mystical traditions, such as Vedanta and Buddhism, Jung taught that the goal of the spiritual path (or what he called "individuation") was not the annihilation of the ego in the Self, but rather the establishing of a working partnership between the two, in which the ego remains independent of the Self, but acts as a conduit for the latter's drive to enter the external realm of consciousness.
In this way, the individual ego, like the Biblical Job, out of its suffering and struggles with the Self, becomes an Eved HaShem, or "Servant of God" -- a "priest" who brings about the salvation of others:
"When Yahweh had said all this to Job, he turned to Eliphas of Teman. 'I burn with anger against you and your two friends,' he said, 'for not speaking truthfully about me as my servant Job has done. So now find seven bullocks and seven rams, and take them back with you to my servant Job and offer a sacrifice for yourselves, while Job, my servant offers prayers for you. I will listen to him with favor and excuse your folly." (Job 42:7)
Thus, Job (the ego) out of remaining strong and constant in the face of violent attacks from Yahweh (the Self), and not disintegrating as his friends advised him to do, is raised to the status of near-partnership with God -- becomes his priest, so to speak, through whom divine dispensation finds its opening onto others. He has become, as we have been describing it, an archetypal "vessel for the continuing incarnation of God."