Jesus - The Christ

If I have told you earthy things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” John 3:12

As the Anthropos (Christ) he corresponds to what is empirically the most important archetype and, as judge of the living and the dead and king of glory, to the real organizing principle of the unconscious, the quaternity, or squared circle of the self.

Christ can indeed be imitated even to the point of stigmatization without the imitator coming anywhere near the ideal or its meaning.

For an alchemist who professed allegiance to the Ecclesia spiritualis it was naturally of supreme importance to make himself an “unspotted vessel” of the Paraclete and thus to realize the idea “Christ” on a plane far transcending a mere imitation of him. 

As described in the Gospels, the figure of Jesus is indistinct and inconsistent and, as explained in detail by Jung in Aion, it has only acquired its significance because all the contemporary symbolic images of the Self, such as the fish, the cross, the Son of Man and others, have crystallized around it from out of the depths of the collective unconscious.  For this reason the figure of Jesus has become identical with the concept of the Self and has thus acquired that substantiality and reality which constitute its central significance for our Christian culture.  All the contemporary projections of the archetype of the incarnate God, the Self, which were constellated in the soul of man in those days have, as it were, attached themselves to it.

Cont’d …

This tremendous significance would later have fallen away from the figure of Jesus if individual man – beginning with the apostle Paul – had not again and again had inner psychic experiences which they apprehended as being identical with Christ.  That psychic power which continually sustains the life of the Christ-symbol can, accordingly, be understood psychologically as the innate pattern of individuation which time and again and in all ages can engender a Christ-like image of the Self in every human being and in this way assure its survival in the world of men. 

Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” John 6:53

Jesus rejected the devil when the devil said, “Look, young man, you look hungry.  Why don’t you turn the stones into bread?”  Jesus said, “One lives not by bread alone, but by every word out of the mouth of God.”  Then the devil says, “I’ll take you up onto a mountaintop and show you the kingdoms of the world.  All you have to do is bow to me and you can rule these.”  This is how to become a politician.  And Jesus says, “Get thee behind me, Satan.”  So the devil says, “Oh, you are so, so subtle.  Let’s go up on the top of Herod’s temple.  Now cast yourself down, God will bear you up.”  And Jesus said, “No. I am still alive.  I am still a body.”  This is the virtue known as temperance.  “I am still a body.  Get thee behind me, Satan.”  He rejects him three times and the third time is this one of having surpassed economics and politics.  “You are just a spirit.”   “Not so.”   Jesus is recognizing the gross body as well.   TMTT 142

This apparently unique life became a sacred symbol because it is the psychological prototype of the only meaningful life, that is, of a life that strives for the individual realization – absolute and unconditional – of its own particular law.  Well may we exclaim with Tertullian: anima naturaliter christiana!

   The deification of Jesus, as also of the Buddha, is not surprising, for it affords a striking example of the enormous valuation that humanity places upon these hero figures and hence upon the ideal of personality.  Though it seems at present as if the blind and destructive dominance of meaningless collective forces would thrust the ideal of personality into the background, yet this is only a passing revolt against the dead weight of history.  Once the revolutionary, unhistorical, and therefore uneducated inclinations of the rising generation have had their fill of tearing down tradition, new heroes will be sought and found.  Even the Bolsheviks, whose radicalism leaves nothing to be desired, have embalmed Lenin and made a savior out of Karl Marx.  The ideal of personality is one of the ineradicable needs of the human soul, and the more unsuitable it is the more fanatically it is defended.  Indeed, the worship of Caesar was itself a misconceived cult of personality, and modern Protestantism, whose critical theology has reduced the divinity of Christ to vanishing point, has found its last refuge in the personality in Jesus.  TDoP 181