Robert M. Black

RP, Jungian Analyst

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“The devil can best be beaten with patience, having none himself.”

C. G. Jung, Letters, volume 2, 12 May 1956.


You might like to know – or is this fair warning? – that another of my early and continuing interests has been “all that stuff” that can be evoked by terms like God, religion, spirituality, faith, and the like. The preparation that some very devout ancestors and some advanced theological training gave me soon encountered, as Jung called it, "something has grown which you cannot wipe off the slate, and that is science and the scientific attitude, which is characterized by sincerity, devotion, and honesty." (C. G. Jung, Letters, volume 2, 19 Feb 1947)

I am neither a proselytizer nor a missionary, although I loved all this stuff enough that forty years ago I was ordained in the Anglican Church. Today, I admire as deeply the honesty and integrity of today’s atheists.

I work gladly with people of much faith or of none.

What I’ve found is that Jung’s approach allows me to see ancient and new concepts in a fresh, powerful light. I wonder if, inside the mystery of the unconscious, one can’t “hold” the tension between faith and disbelief – give each their due, so to say, when facing life issues. When he noted the effectiveness of prayer, for example, Jung understood its helpfulness as “a concentration of libido [available psychic energy] on the God-image” or Self. In effect, “The dreamer … directs her wishes, her libido, into the depths of the unconscious.” (C. G. Jung, Collected Works, volume 5, paragraph 257.)

If you need to plunge into theologians and philosophers, I suppose I can do that. The whole thorny concept of God fascinates me, and we’re bound to encounter it somewhere in our work together. Jung says, “In the end one has to admit that there are problems which one simply cannot solve on one’s own resources. Such an admission has the advantage of being honest, truthful, and in accord with reality….” (C. G. Jung, Collected Works, volume 9i, paragraph 44)

He continues, “and this prepares the ground for a compensatory reaction from the collective unconscious: you are now more inclined to give heed to a helpful idea or intuition, or to notice thoughts which had not been allowed to voice themselves before. Perhaps you will pay attention to the dreams that visit you at such moments, or will reflect on certain inner and outer occurrences that take place just at this time. If you have an attitude of this kind, then the helpful powers slumbering in the deeper strata of man’s nature can come awake and intervene, for helplessness and weakness are the eternal experience and the eternal problem of mankind. To this problem there is also an eternal answer, otherwise it would have been up with humanity long ago. When you have done everything that could possibly be done, the only thing that remains is what you could still do if you only knew it. But how much do we know of ourselves? Precious little, to judge by experience. Hence there is still a great deal of room left for the unconscious.” (C. G. Jung, Collected Works, volume 9i, paragraph 44)

So I guess all this is "fair warning." I don't believe, as Jung didn't believe, that we are left to our own devices in the analytical process. It's your material, sent for you, wanting to be understood. And because somehow, in a way, it's You reflecting on you, "we get to know aspects of our nature which we would not allow anybody else to show us, and which we ourselves would never have admitted." (C. G. Jung, "Mysterium Coniunctionis," Collected Works, Volume 14, paragraph 706.) No tame thing, this encounter; but somehow transformative.