Christ

Christ – Incarnation of the Logos and Redeemer of the World – is primarily a historical personage, a harmless country wise man of the semi-Oriental past who preached a benign doctrine of “do as you would be done by,” yet was executed as a criminal.  His death is read as a splendid lesson in integrity and fortitude.  (1000 faces, pg. 213)

As Jung explained in Aion, Christian symbolism not only emerged from a psychic problem of opposites but this problem also characterizes its further development, as is already implied in Christ’s reference to the coming of an “Antichrist”.  This problem of the opposites is emphasized by the synchronistic fact that the Christian aeon is distinguished astrologically by two fishes in opposition to each other.  TGL – Intro

The Christ Symbol

The Christ-symbol is of the greatest importance for psychology in so far as it is perhaps the most highly developed and differentiated symbol of the self, apart from the figure of the Buddha  BW 466

Christ as Myth

   With the coming of Christianity there occurred something completely unprecedented that put a stop to the development of the old hermeneutics and at the same time made a new beginning: the doctrine of the historically real Christ-figure.  It is as if the whole mythical heaven full of gods had come down into one human being and as if the Gnostic pleroma, the primordial mythical world, had now been incarnated on earth.  It was concentrated in the one man, Christ, in whom it took historical shape.  Christ clothed himself, as it were, in all the earlier images and assimilated them into his own image.  “Figuris vestitur typos portat … thesaurus eius absconditus et vilis est, ubi autem aperitur mirum visu” (“He is clothed in figures, he is the bearer of types…. His treasure is hidden and of small account, but where it is laid open, it is wonderful to look upon.”)   Or: “Because the creatures were weary of bearing the prefigurations, even as he had disburdened the womb that bore him.”  The advance of rational ego-consciousness that had taken place in the previous centuries was thereby overcome and compensated by a new myth.  But in Christ the whole primordial mythical world took on real form and definition, and this new myth would dominate our spiritual world for almost two thousand years.  P&R 41

The idea of the bodhisattva is the one who, out of his realization of transcendence, participates in the world.  That’s the idea of the Christ, in his love for the world, coming to be crucified – participating in the crucifixion, intentionally, with joy.  What’s the invitation of Christ?  The invitation of Christ is joyful participation in the sorrows of the world, if you read it this way.  So there is a wonderful dialogue here when you think of the Christ in the way of the Buddha.  These are two folk manifestations of the same elementary idea.  The lesson the Buddha tells you is, “You are it.”  All right.  What’s the invitation of Christ?  Joyful participation, come into this crucifixion with joy, not fear, not desire, and it’s a rapture.  That’s the story there. 

   It is evident, then, that in our daily living we are but half men and that all societies actually favor and foster such a fractioning through their moral assignments of men’s thoughts, words, and deeds either to the vice side or the virtue side of their ledgers.  Thus in the Christian system of symbolic forms, where the Cross is central, Heaven is above, to which the good go, and Hell below, to which the wicked are assigned; but on Calvary the cross of Jesus stood between  those of the good thief and the bad, the first of whom would be taken up to Heaven, and the latter sent down to Hell.  Jesus himself would descend into Hell before ascending to Heaven since, in his character as total man, eternal as well as historical, and transcendent thus of all pairs-of-opposites (male and female no less than good and evil, as was Adam before the Fall and before Eve had been taken from his rib), he transcends in his being all terms of conflict whatsoever, even that of God and Man.  TMD 194

The symbolism is obvious: to his left and right are the opposed thieves; himself, in the middle, will descend with one and with the other ascend to that height from which he has already come down.  Thus Christ is bound to neither of the opposed terms, neither to the vertical nor to the horizontal beam of his cross, though historically he is indeed bound, even crucified – as we all are in our own lives.  We, however, through faith in his image, are unbound and “saved.”  TMD 195

If we read this metaphor of crucifixion in the psychological terms suggested by Jung’s designation of sensation and intuition, feeling and thinking, then we recognize that in our living – in our temporal, historical living – we are bound either to one or to the other of the opposed terms of each pair, and hence to a knowledge or idea of good and evil that commits us to living as but part men.  It follows that to be released from this limitation one must in some sense die to the law of virtue and sin under which one lives in this world and judges, opening oneself to a circulation of energy and light through all four of the functions, while remaining centered in the middle, so to say, like the Tree of Life in the garden, where the rivers flow to the four directions; or like the point of crossing of the two beams of the cross, behind the head of the Savior, crowned with a crown of thorns.  “Our old self,” states Paul, “was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed…. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:6 and 14).  TMD 195

   One of the most shining examples of the meaning of personality that history has preserved for us is the life of Christ.  In Christianity, which, be it mentioned in passing, was the only religion really persecuted by the Romans, there rose up a direct opponent of the Caesarean madness that afflicted not only the emperor, but every Roman as well: civis Romanus sum.  The opposition showed itself wherever the worship of Caesar classed with Christianity.  But, as we know from what the evangelists tell us about the psychic development of Christ’s personality, this opposition was fought out just as decisively in the soul of its founder.  The story of the Temptation clearly reveals the nature of the psychic power with which Jesus came into collision:  it was the power-intoxicated devil of the prevailing Caesarean psychology that led him into dire temptation in the wilderness.  This devil was the objective psyche that held all the peoples of the Roman Empire under its sway, and that is why it promised Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth, as if it were trying to a Caesar out of him.  Obeying the inner call of his vocation, Jesus voluntarily exposed himself to the assaults of the imperialistic madness that filled everyone, conqueror and conquered alike.  In this way he recognized the nature of the objective psyche which had plunged the whole world into misery and had begotten a yearning for salvation that found expression even in the pagan poets.  Far from suppressing or allowing himself to be suppressed by this psychic onslaught, he let it act on him consciously, and assimilated it.  Thus was world-conquering Caesarism transformed into spiritual kingship, and the Roman Empire into the universal kingdom of God that was not of this world.  TDoP 180

Con’td … While the whole Jewish nation was expecting an imperialistically minded and politically active hero as a Messiah, Jesus fulfilled the Messianic mission not so much for his own nation as for the whole Roman world, and pointed out to humanity the old truth that where force rules there is no love, and where love reigns force does not count.  The religion of love was the exact counterpart to the Roman devil-worship of power.  TDoP 181

And this is the idea (turning inward for spiritual enlightenment) that we’ve seen already in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, where the person who dies is called Osiris N – “Osiris Jones.”  He is on his way, in the underworld and afterlife journey, to the throne of Osiris, the god who died and was resurrected and sits as judge of the dead, precisely the model for Christ.  The individual on his way to Osiris is himself Osiris: you’re it.  On the way Osiris Jones becomes aware of the fact that all the deities that he has worshipped are simply functions of his own mystery; he goes through a gray area in the underworld and says, “My hair is the hair of Nu, my face is the face of Re, my eyes are the eyes of Hathor” – every part of my body is some god.  Then he says, “I am yesterday, today, and tomorrow and have the power to be born a second time.  I am that mystery that has given rise to the gods.”  That you yourself are what you see reflected outside there in your pantheon and must come to acknowledge as being within yourself is the realization of the initiation of mythology.   G102