The great doctor of the soul and modern day alchemist C. G. Jung was so far ahead of his time that, more than half a century after his death, he is still barely appreciated. Jung was a genius who had incredibly deep insight into the nature of the psyche, particularly how it informs and gives shape to what plays out in our world. I find myself wondering, what would Jung say about the madness currently playing out in our world if he were alive today? I can only imagine.
Jung was of the opinion that “Active Imagination,” a process in which we actively dialogue and have it out with the figures of our unconscious, was the most powerful practice he had ever come across for working with—and integrating—the unconscious. I find myself wondering, what if I were to do active imagination with Jung himself?
Upon imagining this, I immediately sense the presence of Jung. As if in possession of a priceless gift, he seems delighted at the opportunity to share his insights with someone who is open to receiving them. Rather than ghostly, his presence seems substantial, actually quite huge, and very warm. He seems professorial in demeanor, which immediately makes feel like I am in the role of student, a role I am very happy to assume when I meet someone who I consider to be my teacher, orders of magnitude wiser than myself.
Deeply wanting to take advantage of my good fortune, I try to connect by asking him if he can believe the insanity that is happening in the United States today. As if he recognizes what is playing out, Jung says, with the utmost assurance, that what is taking place is “brought about by an upheaval of forces lying dormant in the unconscious.” It is as if darker subterranean powers that have been brewing in the cauldron of the collective unconscious for centuries have been unleashed into our world.
I remember that in Jung’s view what distinguishes our age from all others is that we are being forced to recognize and come to terms with the active world-shaping powers of the psyche. As if hearing my thoughts, Jung comments that the psyche is “the World Power that vastly exceeds all other powers on earth.” Jung adds, “We can no longer deny that the dark stirrings of the unconscious are active powers.” This immediately makes me think of Jung’s well-known insight that if we don’t bring consciousness to the shadow forces within the psyche, we will then most assuredly dream up our inner unconscious situation to play out—destructively—on the world stage as our fate.
I am familiar with Jung’s idea that when the darkness of the unconscious begins to stir, if these forces are not understood, they will magnetically draw people together who will become unwitting instruments for what Jung calls “the powers of darkness” to act themselves out in the world. A leader, such as Donald Trump, will invariably appear—in my language, get “dreamed up”—who will express, reflect and, like a lightning rod, amplify these darker forces. This leader is typically someone who, in Jung’s words, has “the least resistance, the least sense of responsibility and … the greatest will to power.” Jung comments that this leader “will let loose everything that is ready to burst forth.” As if offering a prophetic warning, Jung says with complete certainty, “a mass always produces a ‘Leader,’ who infallibly becomes the victim of his own inflated ego-consciousness, as numerous examples in history show.” I think many of us intuit that Trump’s reign is not going to end well – the question becomes: how can we mitigate the damage?
It is as if Jung is describing exactly what is being acted out in the United States after the 2016 election. I can’t help but to ask Jung’s opinion about the fact that someone as clearly pathological as Donald Trump has become president. As if anticipating my question, Jung says, “As soon as people get together in masses and submerge the individual, the shadow is mobilized, and as history shows, may even be personified and incarnated.” I remember that Jung defines the shadow as “the inferior part of everybody’s personality,” the darker half of the human totality, what he refers to as humanity’s “own worst danger.” I remember that the word mirror, etymologically speaking, means the “holder of the shadow.” It is as if we have collectively dreamed up Trump to embody—and reflect back to us—our unconscious shadow. Jung then matter-of-factly states, as if what he is saying is beyond debate, “It is everybody’s allotted fate to become conscious of and learn to deal with this shadow.” It does feel as if we live in a time where it is no longer possible to avoid or postpone dealing with our darker half.
Jung adds that Trump “symbolized something in every individual.” Commenting on Trump’s supporters, Jung points out that “people would never have been taken in and carried away so completely if this figure had not been a reflected image … ” before Jung completes his thought, I finish it for him by blurting out loud “ … of their own unconscious shadow.” Satisfied that he has gotten across his point, Jung nods in agreement…
About the Author
A pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, Paul Levy is a wounded healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dreamlike nature of reality…