The gods are within us

Our time has committed a fatal error; we believe we can criticize the facts of religion intellectually. Like Laplace, we think God is a hypothesis that can be subjected to intellectual treatment, to be affirmed or denied.

We completely forget that the reason mankind believes in the "daemon" has nothing whatever to do with external factors, but is simply due to a naive awareness of the tremendous inner effect of autonomous fragmentary systems [instinctual products of the unconscious].

This effect is not abolished by criticizing it - or rather, the name we have given it [God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, etc] - or by describing the name as false.

If we deny the existence of the autonomous systems, imagining that we have got rid of them by a mere critique of the name, then the effect which they continue to exert can no longer be understood, nor can they be assimilated to consciousness.

We think we can congratulate ourselves on having already reached such a pinnacle of clarity, imagining that we have left all these phantasmal gods far behind. But what we have left behind are only verbal spectres, not the psychic facts that were responsible for the birth of the gods.

We are still as much possessed by autonomous psychic contents as if they were Olympians. Today they are called phobias, obsessions, and so forth; in a word, neurotic symptoms. The gods have become diseases; Zeus no longer rules Olympus but rather the solar plexus, and produces curious specimens for the doctor's consulting room, or disorders the brains of politicians and journalists who unwittingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world.

It is not a matter of indifference whether one calls something a "mania" or a "god." To serve a mania is detestable and undignified, but to serve a god is full of meaning and promise because it is an act of submission to a higher, invisible, and spiritual being.

[C.G. Jung]
Psychology and the East, p.37, 38, 39


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The human psyche has many levels. What is religious exists at the very deepest of those levels. What is religious is what is fundamental.

People are religious, whether they know it or not, because they must have fundamental beliefs. Otherwise they cannot act. They can’t even perceive. They can be very confused about what the nature of those fundamentals. Their psyches can be fractured, disjointed and incoherent.

Without axiomatic beliefs, however, we cannot simplify the world enough to act within it. 

[Jordan Peterson]
'Maps of Meaning: Suggested Readings and Russian Translation'


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