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Published:  September 13, 2004
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Author Details
Author:  Michael Murphy
Michael Murphy studies at the University of Dallas.
The Unconscious Connection
by Michael Murphy
Truth exists behind the meaning of God within every individual or collective belief. If this is accepted, a myriad of other thoughts might develop. A belief in the truth of God brings a mind into a new world of thought with a new breed of questioning. But what is this entity that the word ‘god’ represents? The existence of the word suggests the existence of the entity, much like the existence of the word ‘rose’ suggests the existence of a thing to which the word represents1. But just as the word “rose” has many different interpretations, the word God has many different interpretations. Which translaion should be determined as Truth?

No matter what face humans place on God, humans are always attempting to communicate with Him, grow closer to Her, and bridge the gap that exists between the individual and that to which we ascribe the name God. Through an analyzation of the human unconscious, and its relationship with the belief in God, one might come to understand more clearly the way in which God communicates with His people.

The readings of C.G. Jung produce a realization of the close relationship between the human unconscious and God. Jung distinguishes between what is known as the conscious mind, and what is recognized as the unconscious mind. Both are pivotal players in an individual life, but one maintains dominance: the unconscious. Rooted deep within an individual’s psyche, the unconscious’ grasp on a person’s mind and action is strong and subtle.
“… we have increasingly divided our consciousness from the deeper instinctive strata of the human psyche, and even ultimately from the somatic basis of the psychic phenomenon. Fortunately, we have not lost these basic instinctive strata; they remain part of the unconscious… These instinctive phenomena-one may not, incidentally, always recognize them for what they are, for their character is symbolic-play a vital part in what I have called the compensating function of dreams. (Jung 36-37)
The human unconscious is the part of the mind to which we are not aware. It is an odd name given to a concept that is recognized. Any discussion of the unconscious must be held with the knowledge that the human mind is incapable of fully understanding “that to which it is not aware. “

Human’s interpretation of the unconscious is developed through the conscious analyzation of unconscious activities, such as dreaming. Man and His Symbols, authored by Jung as well as Jung’s students, argues that not only are dreams unconscious activities but other medias in which the collective human is brought together are unconscious activities. This activity is thoroughly engrained in the conscious mind, but rooted in the impact of the unconscious. Examples include: myth, religion, and symbolic interpretation (all of which strongly influence the belief in God).
“…modern man continues to respond to profound psychic influences of a kind that, consciously, he dismisses as little more than the folk tale of superstitious and uneducated peoples… the more closely one looks at the history of symbolism, and at the role that symbols have played in the life of many different cultures, the more one understands that there is also a re-creative meaning in these symbols.” (Henderson 100)
Evidence for Jung’s arguments can be seen through the tracking of the simultaneous emergence of distinct cultural development in societies that are alien to one another. For instance, the systematic building of pyramids separated by oceans, as well as identical philosophical and ideological developments in cultures across the globe, give evidence of this phenomena.
“Mediterranean and Chinese civilizations emerged almost simultaneously, each unaware of the other for thousands of years… In short, differences between Chinese and Mediterranean civilizations … led – as in the Mediterranean – to war, conquest, and power politics; so that the ancient philosophers of China, Greece, and Rome drew similar conclusions about human nature.” (Kaplan 40-41)
Kaplan’s book, Warrior Politics, includes examples in which complex societies develop incredibly similar philosophies. Such organized and separate progressions suggest an unconscious force that shapes and guides human action and organization. This type of evidence gives credit to the human unconscious’ monumental impact on human life.

This widespread activity is also evidence that an individual’s unconscious activity is part of a larger collective activity that moves humanity as a whole; the collective human. Such a powerful force should not be ignored. Jung has labeled this force as the collective unconscious, or the pool of knowledge to which all individual unconsciousness connects.

Within this realm of thought, an essence to which spiritual belief derives might be considered as a candidate for the entity to which humans have labeled God. This pool of knowledge, or the collective unconscious, is similar to Plato’s belief in The Good. “Plato’s theory is such that the whole of Reality is founded upon the Good, which is Reality’s source of being. And all knowledge is ultimately knowledge of the Good.” (Palmer 63). “The Good” is comparable to the western God. It would be important to remind oneself that the collective and human unconscious are concepts in which humans are simply unable to fully comprehend, much like God.

No matter what one may believe of God, the connection between the human unconscious and God is inseperable. The human unconscious is a way in which humans believe to directly connect and communicate with God, and a media in which God literally does directly connect and communicate with humans. To evaluate this deep communication let us examine aspects of the religion, Christianity.

Christianity is rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ, found in the Gospels of the New Testament. Christianity’s dividing belief is the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. Christianity holds to one Truth, that Jesus Christ is the only one that bridges the gap between man and God. This has proved to be a controversial claim; however Christian theology has maintained an unprecedented equal-opportunity policy among the world’s religions.

The communication of God through dreaming is heavily recorded throughout the books of the Bible. The preparation of His Son’s coming was communicated through the dreaming of the man Joseph.

Mathew writes “… an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins’ ” (Gospel of Mathew 1:20-21).

This angel first appeased Joseph’s personal and intimate quarrel concerning the divorce of Mary (Mathew 1:19), satisfying the need of Joseph as a man and an individual. The angel then continued to proclaim how the Son would satisfy the needs of all His people.

Joseph’s dream is an example of God to all. God first takes care of Joseph on an individual basis, establishing the credibility for mankind to receive directly from God on a personal basis. God then proclaims a solution to man as a whole; a solution to the problem of The Fallen Man, a problem that (until Jesus) left man separated from God.

The Fallen Man, and his redemption, is a story that begins in the ancient texts of Egyptian, Persian, Greek, and Hebrew mythologies and philosophies. This is a story perpetuated by the “re-creating meaning [within it’s own] symbols;” a tale weaved through the culture, religions, thoughts and records of ancient empires and nations(Henderson 100). It has created an intricate tapestry of belief, woven by God through time to show the peoples of the world Truth.

The main character of this story is a familiar mythological figure, the god-man. Such god-men include Horus, Krishna, Dionysus, Mithras and Jesus Christ. The god-man represents god on earth, and each figure appeared in different cultures at different times. The story of the redemption of The Fallen Man is evidence of an incredible storyteller, or an entity that has been in control of every development throughout time. The last chapter of this story is the life of Jesus. Christ’s chapter spearheads the culmination of centuries of thought, myth and belief.

Evidence of this development can easily be seen in the ancient mythology of the Egyptians. The Egyptian empire reigned from early 3000 BCE to late 300 CE2. Egypt’s reach extended across northern Africa and far into the Mesopotamia. During the rule of this empire, a popular mythological family also dominated the same lands.

This family was comprised of the father, Osiris, the mother, Isis and their son, Horus. Osiris, Isis and Horus are an early example of a divine three, providing foreshadow to the establishment of a Trinity. Before the birth of Horus, Osiris is killed by his jealous brother, Set. Osiris is dismembered, placed in a box, and sent floating down the Nile. Isis then searches for her husband for three days. Upon the third day Osiris is found by his wife and raised from the dead. On this day, Horus is miraculously conceived.

After this day of ressurection, Osiris leaves the mortal world and becomes ruler of the afterlife. Left on earth is the divine Mother, and the divine Son. Horus now becomes the link between man and the ruler of the afterlife. Mortal man must receive approval from Horus before entering into the Land of the Dead. No man could come to Osiris, but through his son, Horus. Horus brought each man from the gates of earth to his father for judgment.

In this abbreviated mythological story, one might notice certain Christian traits. The establishment of the divine three, the conquering of death in the face of evil, and the link between God and man that is satisfied by the god-man all foreshadow, and even give away, the completion of the story of the fallen man. One might conclude that these mythical elements found in the Egyptian god-man were embedded into the Hebrew culture during their stay in Egypt’s delta region, before their Exodus.

This Egyptian myth was but one chapter in a string of many that all culminated into the life of Christ. Many other characters, philosophies, god-men, and cultures built a foundation that the Jesus story could stand on. Such philosophies include the development of the Greek philosophy that allowed for the symbolic understanding of Jesus (the logos). Mithras and Dionysus lead a life that was strikingly similar to Jesus, and appear along with a flutter of mythology that invades Rome directly before the birth of Christ. Jesus is the final god-man to redeem The Fallen Man. What makes this god-man an even more remarkable figure is the claim that He was a flesh, blood and bone god-man, as well as the only figure that may provide the link between man and God.

Through Christianity one can notice God communicating to humans through a progression of mythologies and religions, as well as through dreaming. If one takes the position that myth and religion are rooted in unconscious activity then one could also accept that God uses the unconscious directly in communicating with man. After tracking the progression of myth into a complete story that provides redemption and Truth for man, one might also accept the existence of an entity that governs this broad, wide reaching, unconscious activity. One might conclude that the collective unconscious is the force that weaves our story of Truth.

Further understanding of our individual unconscious, as well as the human unconscious as a whole, might provide an avenue in which man might push closer to that which we call God. The collective movements of unconscious activity can only be recognized in hindsight, in which we can study its movement with 20/20 vision. It would be to our great advantage to study the effects of worldwide unconscious activity in all culture and religion, no matter the particular interpretation of God. Before there were divides among the religious, humans worshiped in one accord. In order to worship in unison again, we should strive to understand the power of collective movement, and God’s far-reaching unconscious relationship with man.
Notes
  • For a useful sampling of opinion read Umberto Eco, Name of the Rose
  • An Egyptian timeline can be viewed at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/egyptians/timeline.shtml
  • Jung, Carl G., Joseph L Henderson, et. al. Man and His Symbols. New York: Laurel, 1964.
  • Kaplan, Robert D. Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands A Pagan Ethos. New York: Vintage Books, 2002.
  • Palmer, Donald. Looking At Philosophy. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2001.