Collective Unconscious


The important fact about consciousness is that nothing can be conscious without an ego to which it refers.  If something is not related to the ego then it is not conscious.  Therefore you can define consciousness as a relation of psychic facts to the ego. 

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.

There are 2 ways in which Consciousness arises:

1.     A moment of high emotional tension

2.     A state of Contemplation

Differentiation is the essence, the sine qua non, of consciousness.  Everything unconscious is undifferentiated, and everything that happens unconsciously proceeds on the basis of non-differentiation - that is to say, there is no determining whether it belongs or does not belong to oneself.

Consciousness is an accomplishment which requires energy.  It can only maintain itself for limited periods, after which a state of unconsciousness – sleep – is again necessary in order to renew the used-up energy.

Consciousness consists of something we think we know; it is an immediate awareness.  Even though we do not know quite what it is, we have a subjective feeling that what consciousness is - is intimately known to us.  But behind this conscious awareness lies an unconsciousness; in other words, behind the I and the whole phenomenon of consciousness lies the shadow, the power-drive, and something demonic.  TPoPA 220

We must never forget the fact that consciousness has a demonic aspect. We begin now to be aware that the achievements of our consciousness – our technical achievements, for example – have destructive aspects.  We are waking up to the fact that consciousness can be a disadvantage and that it is based on an unconsciousness.  That which makes me so passionately want consciousness to dominate my life is something unconscious.  And we don’t know what that is.  The need, the urge and passion for consciousness is something unconscious, as is what we know as conscious tradition.  TPoPA 221

              The Human Brain (Triune) has 3 layers:

Reptilian Brain

Mammalian Brain

Human Brain

Everybody recognizes intelligence in animals and sees that they too have the four functions of the brain, but "consciousness" is what separates us from the animals.  For instance, an animal will never write a book, plan a birthday party, or create art for art`s sake, and that difference is what consciousness is

I do not wish to waste time in proving this point, but will content myself with saying that never yet has any reasonable person doubted the existence of psychic processes in a dog, although no dog has, to our knowledge, ever expressed consciousness of its psychic contents.

"And when we observe the psychic processes in the higher vertebrates and particularly in domestic animals, we find phenomena resembling consciousness which nevertheless do not allow us to conjecture the existence of an ego."

...  As we know from direct experience, the light of consciousness has many degrees of brightness, and the ego-complex many gradations of emphasis.  On the animal and primitive level there is a mere "luminosity," differing hardly at all from the glancing fragments of a dissociated ego.

... Here as on the infantile level, consciousness is not a unity, being as yet uncentred by a firmly-knit ego-complex, and just flickering into life here and there wherever outer or inner events, instincts, and affects happen to call it awake.  At this stage it is still like a chain of islands or an archipelago. 

And cats who are normally aloof towards anything but food, will sense a person who can use some love and/or attention and will go over to them (if only to be the object that gets petted) and there are numerous examples of animals saving humans or even sacrificing themselves in the line of duty.  All of their instincts and behaviours demonstrate intelligence, but they do not possessconscious(ness). 


Energy lost by consciousness passes into the unconscious and activates its contents - archetypes, repressions, complexes, etc.  … which embark a life of their own and irrupt into consciousness, often provoking disturbances, neuroses, and psychoses.

“All these moments in the individual’s life, when the universal laws of human fate break in upon the purposes, expectations, and opinions of the personal consciousness, are stations along the road of the individuation process.  This process is, in effect, the spontaneous realization of the whole man”.

“The definiteness and directedness of the conscious mind are extremely important acquisitions which humanity has bought at a very heavy sacrifice, and which in turn have rendered humanity the highest service…  We may say in general that social worthlessness increases to the degree that these qualities are impaired by the unconscious.” 

… Great artists, and others distinguished by creative gifts are, of course, exceptions to this rule.  The very advantage that such individuals enjoy consists precisely in the permeability of the partition separating the conscious and the unconscious. 

- Modern brain research assumes that consciousness expires at brain death.

“Consciousness is continually widened through the confrontation with previously unconscious contents, or – to be more accurate – could be widened if it took the trouble to integrate them.” 

Nevertheless, every failure to cope with a life situation must be laid, in the end, to a restriction of consciousness. 

   Conscious threshold 

"If it is correct to say that conscious contents become subliminal, and therefore unconscious, through loss of energy, and conversely that unconscious processes become conscious through accretion of energy, then, if unconscious acts of volition are to be possible, it follows that these must possess an energy which enables them to achieve consciousness, or at any rate to achieve a state of secondary consciousness which consists in the unconscious process being 'represented' to a subliminal subject who chooses and decides.  This process must necessarily possess the amount of energy required for it to achieve such a consciouness; in other words, it is bound eventually to reach its 'bursting point.'   

 ... If that is so, the question arises as to why the unconscious process does not go right over the threshold and become perceptible to the ego.   p 46 - answer follows

But the more we become conscious of ourselves through self-knowledge, and act accordingly, the more the layer of the personal unconscious that is superimposed on the collective unconscious will be diminished.  In this way there arises a consciousness which is no longer imprisoned in the petty, oversensitive, personal world of the ego, but participates freely in the wider world of objective interests.  

If only a portion of that lost totality could be dredged up into the light of day, we should experience a marvelous expansion of our powers, a vivid renewal of life.  We should tower in stature.

(If) the ego falls for any length of time under the control of an unconscious factor, its adaptation is disturbed and the way opened for all sorts of possible accidents.

Hence it is of the greatest importance that the ego should be anchored in the world of consciousness and that consciousness should be reinforced by precise adaptation. For this, certain virtues like attention, conscientiousness, patience, etc., are of great value on the moral side, just as accurate observation of the symptomatology of the unconscious and objective self-criticism are valuable on the intellectual side.

I hope that we may sometime get to the point where consciousness can function without the pretension of knowing everything and of having said the last word.  If consciousness could be reduced to a function, a descriptive function, then people would cease to make final statements.  Instead, one would say that from the known facts it appears at the present time as if one could explain it in such and such a way.  That would mean giving up the secret power premise that claims to have said all there is to be said, so that now we know all about it and it is so.  If that false pretension could be eliminated, that would be a big step.  But that supposes the integration of consciousness by our becoming aware of its relativity and its specific relation to the individual.  (I must know that I know and that I have especially that view.)  it is not enough to have a conscious viewpoint; one must know why one has it and what one’s individual reasons for having it are.  TPoPA 222

We know today that the conscious mind consists only of those ideational complexes which are directly associated with the ego.  Those psychic factors which possess only a slight degree of intensity, or those which once had intensity but have lost it again, are “under the threshold,” that is, they are subliminal, and belong to the sphere of the unconscious.   TDoP 51