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Jung's Practice Of Analysis:
A Western Parallel To Ch'an Buddhism
John Ryan Haule

This article was published in the Journal of Individual psychology 56(3) (Fall, 2000): pp. 353-65.

Jung's paradoxical attitude toward analysis and spirituality may be summarized in two of his frequently repeated remarks. On the one hand, he found every one of his patients over forty faced a problem that was essentially religious. It was not unusual for him to tell an older patient, "Your picture of God or your idea of immortality is atrophied, consequently your psychic metabolism is out of gear" (CW 8, ¶ 794). On the other hand, he insisted that those who claimed to be members in good standing in their church should take their problems to their priest or minister and not to an analyst. For example, he wrote to Jolande Jacobi, his Hungarian Jewish disciple who was a convert to Catholicism:

When I treat Catholics who are suffering from neurosis I consider it my duty to lead them back to the bosom of the Church where they belong. The ultimate decisions rest with the authority of the Church for anyone who is of the Catholic faith. Psychology in this context therefore means only the removal of all those factors which hinder final submission to the authority of the Church. Anyone who puts another "factor" above the authority of the Church is no longer a Catholic (Adler, 1973: 191).

These apparently contradictory attitudes are reconciled in Jung's view of religion and history (e.g., CW 5, ¶ 102-105). Over the long course of human history, religions have been the natural forms for keeping us healthily related to life as a daily struggle that has transcendent meaning. But in the last couple of centuries in the West, we have lost our religious roots. Traditional religious forms are no longer self-evidently and compellingly true. We are no longer gripped by their symbols, stories, rituals, and dogmas. We have developed an ego that is very effective regarding empirical, technological issues but estranged from our instincts and the mythic constructs of eternal meaning. And that we are sorely in need of these things is demonstrated by the religious issues of Jung's middle-aged patients.

          The development of an ego well-adapted to our social and cultural world is, however, the goal of the "first half of life"; and matters of spirituality and wholeness arise only once such an ego has become well established. But the hazard of a socially-adapted ego is rigidity and a lack of real individuality. Indeed, the modern world is characterized by what Jung calls the culture of "mass man," hugely organized societies accompanied by a pervasive lack of meaningfulness. Because we cannot convince ourselves that the symbols and rituals of our traditional religions are still compelling, each of us has no alternative but to discover the unconscious source of meaning for ourselves. Typically we reach a point in life when our "mass-minded" adaptation fails, and we fall into a crisis. The breakdown of our conscious identity confronts us with neurotic symptoms and the opportunity for discovering our psyche's depth. This is particularly true at the transition between the first and second "halves" of life, when we are liable to what is today called a "mid-life crisis," and a "widening the horizon of [our] life" is called for. "Here the individual is faced with the necessity of recognizing and accepting what is difficult and strange as a part of his own life, as a kind of `also I'" (CW 8, ¶ 764).

          For those few patients whose relation to their religious tradition is still vital, Jung chose to leave well enough alone. For analysis is a dangerous undertaking. If the individual cannot return to the church: "Then there is trouble; then he has to go on the Quest; then he has to find out what his soul says; then he has to go through the solitude of a land that is not created" (CW 18, ¶ 673). Analysis takes a person away from a religious world based in traditional forms of authority and into another one where the principles of order and meaning are no longer outside but thoroughly within. As Peter Homans has made abundantly clear, Jung understood the psychoanalytic movement as a replacement for and reinterpretation of traditional religion, especially Christianity. In Jung's view, traditional religions are unconsciously developed and inchoate forms of his own psychology of individuation. Thus "modern man" as been rediscovered as "psychological man" (Homans, 1995).

          Jung's search for an unconscious principle strong enough to replace a "mass-minded" and potentially neurotic personality organization led him to what he calls the archetypes -- universal human themes, modes of perception, and patterns of behavior invested with compelling emotional values that can draw us into a new way of life. He dropped a hint about his new theory in a letter to Freud, March 19, 1911: "Symbol formation, it seems to me, is the necessary bridge to the rethinking of long familiar concepts from which the libidinal cathexis is partly withdrawn by canalizing it into a series of intellectual parallels (mythological themes)" (McGuire, 1974: 408). Because we have "withdrawn" our "libidinal cathexis" from traditional sources of meaning, we find ourselves adrift in a life without meaning until we can "rethink" our lives along mythological lines. This theory was elaborated into his book, Symbols of Transformation (CW 5), which occasioned the break with Freud.

          Symbols of Transformation is the analysis of the dreams and fantasies of a certain Miss Frank Miller whom Jung diagnosed as an incipient schizophrenic. Her libido, or psychic energy, had already begun to flow away from the problems of everyday life and to take on an eroto-mystical quality. Jung argues that neurosis amounts to an avoidance of life's problems, rather along the lines of Adler's Guiding Fiction. The way out of the difficulty amounts to a kind of incest, but not the kind Freud had identified. The patient does not (unconsciously) want a sexual relationship with a parent, but rather seeks to re-enter the archetypal womb of the "Great Mother," which is also the unconscious, the matrix (mother) of all conscious life. The womb of the unconscious represents the destiny of all psychic energy that refuses to flow into the issues of everyday life. The neurotic problem that blocks further advancement in daily life looks for solutions in the "intellectual parallels" that occur in mythology and are our universal human heritage.

          Jung articulated this archetypal theory in terms of a "monomyth" [1] that plays the role in his theory that the oedipus complex plays in the thought of Freud, or the quest for transcending superiority in Adler. Jung's monomyth is that of the Sun Hero. The sun that sets in the Western Sea every evening has to fight the powers of darkness and confinement all night long in order to be renewed and to rise out of the Eastern Sea every morning. The subterranean sea of the myth corresponds to the unconscious of the individual. The Sun Hero imitates the sun in entering the lair of the dragon, the realm of the dead, etc., so as to wrestle with the forces of darkness and be renewed. Psychologically speaking, this drama represents the task of every individual in need of renewal: to enter the domain of the unconscious and to struggle with one's own instinctual forces and emerge with the prize of a new ego-attitude, a more adequate and complete sense of self, so that one can proceed in life with new power, new conviction, new harmony, and a deeper sense of meaningfulness.

          Writing Symbols of Transformation, Jung tells us in his "Foreword to the Fourth Edition," taught him "what it means to live with a myth." Upon examining his own life, however, he discovered that he had no idea what his own myth was. It certainly was not that of Christianity. He found he was living "in an uncertain cloud of theoretical possibilities which I was beginning to regard with increasing distrust." He was living in his ego and his complexes, and did not know "what unconscious or preconscious myth was forming me, from what rhizome I sprang" (CW 5: xxv). The break with Freud occasioned a psychological crisis of near-psychotic proportions, and he found no way out other than to let himself "drop" into a series of imaginal encounters with the forces of his own unconscious (Jung, 1961: 179-199). In this manner he began to live out the doctrine he had already described in his book. He found himself faced with situations and with figures -- divine, human, and animal -- which humiliated and flattered him. He attended their lessons carefully, and then returned to ordinary consciousness to struggle with them, working out the mythological parallels. He was so close to insanity during much of this time that he had to remind himself daily of his identity as husband, father, and psychiatrist (Jung, 1961: 189).

          Here we have an indication of what Jung meant when he tried to send church members back to their religion so as to save them from that more dangerous "Quest . . . through the solitude of a land that is not created." If traditional religion cannot save you from your neurotic issues, you must undergo the hero's journey into the disorienting and potentially destructive womb of the Great Mother in order to discover who you are in a more essential sense, in order to be transformed.

          This interior mythological adventure begins in danger and the threat of the death and dissolution of our identity. The entire unconscious takes on the appearance of our "shadow": immoral, immature, awkward, unadapted, and above all threatening us with insanity. This is the period when the Sun Hero realizes that the realm of darkness cannot be avoided. Successful analytic work at this stage results in our discovery of powerful new values in that "subterranean sea." The unconscious takes on the mystery and allure of a figure that generates erotic interest. Generally it is personified as an attractive but dangerous figure of the opposite sex ("anima" in men, "animus" in women) who inspires us with the interest and passion to undertake new adventures: "A man who is not on fire is nothing; he is ridiculous, he is two-dimensional" (Jung, 1966: 34).

          In this picturesque language, Jung describes the goal of the process. After entering the maw of the shadow, the Sun Hero tames the forces of the subterranean sea to such an extent that they take on the allure of a mermaid queen. Further progress reveals that she is an independent and autonomous component of one's wholeness. If the anima or animus speaks with the voice of the spirits, the snake, or the bird, intuitive glimpses of the self are being conveyed. The goal of the "individuation process" is to reach this point where the holistic perspective of the self, the archetype of wholeness and balance in the psyche, is able to offer its commentary on the ego's intentions through pronouncements "of an intuitive nature." To have realized that the anima or animus is an "inner function" means to have attained a living relationship with our wholeness. Furthermore, to say that the self's views may become available through a forest spirit or a snake points to the self's connection with a transcendent image. In fact, Jung has cited cross-cultural parallels for his concept of self that include the Hindu Atman and Brahman, the Buddha, the Tao, the Islamic Khidr, the Holy Ghost, Christ, and Mithras, as well as the alchemical guiding spirit, Mercurius, and the philosophers' stone.

          In the 1930's Jung pursued "the phenomenology of the self" into a lengthy study of alchemy, which he took to be a culturally wide-spread and psychologically naïve pursuit of individuation. Again he appealed to the myth of the Sun Hero to make sense of alchemy (CW 12, ¶ 437-441). But he also gained a new perspective. The alchemists were no less aware that the spirit could speak out of matter than were the pre-literate peoples who say, "He has gone into the forest to talk with the spirits." Jung particularly favored the formulation of Gerhard Dorn, one of his favorite alchemists, who spoke of living in the unus mundus, the "one world" in which empirical events and spiritual vision are not separate (CW 14, ¶ 759-775). It also has a parallel in the Islamic legends of Khidr, who journeyed along the barzakh, the isthmus between the empirical world and the mundus imaginalis, the imaginal world (cf. Corbin, 1969; 1981; and Wilson, 1993: 139-146). It is the unitary world in which "outer" and "inner" reflect and symbolize one another.

          The study of alchemy led, therefore, to Jung's preoccupation with the phenomenon he calls synchronicity, the non-causal fact that sometimes "meaningful coincidences" occur in which our subjective state is paralleled by an empirical event that occurs outside of us. Among his many examples of this phenomenon, the most frequently cited is his analysis of a woman he describes as defensively attached to a Cartesian, ego-centered philosophy. This kept her neurotically stuck so that she could not get on with her life. Jung could find no way to introduce her to the "steeper gradient" of the irrational archetypes that might have undermined her rigidity and transformed her attitude toward life. He appears to have been at his wits' end when a synchronistic event occurred. She was recounting a dream in which she had been given a golden scarab (Egyptian symbol of rebirth). In the midst of her monologue, a rose chafer tapped at the window behind Jung's head. He opened the window, grabbed the green-gold beetle, Northern Europe's closest analogy to the Egyptian scarab, and handed it to the patient, saying, "Here's your scarab." This dramatic event turned out to be precisely what the patient needed to place the narrowness of the ego's perspective into the holistic context of a dialogue with the self (CW 8, ¶ 843-845).

          Jung's prominent disciple Marie-Louise von Franz gave her friend, Barbara Hannah, a vivid picture of being in analysis with Jung in the garden room of his house on the Lake of Zurich, when he was attentive to every natural event as comprising a synchronistic commentary on the analytic dialogue: "insects flying in, the lake lapping more audibly than usual, and so on" (Hannah, 1976: 202, n. k). He had come to the view that the psyche is not so much a factor locked inside our bodies but "more like an atmosphere in which we live" (Adler, 1973: 433). For one who has attained an on-going intuitive relationship with the self, events both inner and outer constitute the voice of the forest spirit or the snake.

          Jung articulated his synchronicity theory primarily in terms of the Chinese "Classic of Changes," the I Ching. According to the philosophy behind the I Ching, every moment has its own character, and everything that occurs in that moment shares in that unique quality (CW 8, ¶ 863-867). The "inner reality" of our psychological state corresponds to the "outer reality" of events taking place in our surroundings at the same time. Jung employed the I Ching as a device to discover the external world as the psychic "atmosphere in which we live," and he began to use synchronistic events as an essential element in his practice of analysis.

          As important as the I Ching was to Jung, however, I think he might have found a closer parallel to his synchronicity-oriented therapy in Ch'an Buddhism (Chinese Zen). Argentine journalist Miguel Serrano reports finding Jung a month before his death having just finished a book on Ch'an Buddhism, prompting the comment: "It seemed to me that we were talking about the same thing, and that the only difference between us was that we give different words to the same reality" (Serrano, 1966: 100). We are not told the author or title of that book. It certainly was not Peter Hershock's original interpretation of Ch'an Buddhism, Liberating Intimacy (1996). But if Hershock is right about Ch'an, its closeness to Jung's practice of analysis is quite remarkable.

          All Buddhism is concerned to solve the problem of suffering. Ch'an's approach is based on the recognition that suffering is an "interruption of our personal narrative." We are neurotically "stuck" when the self-defining story we tell ourselves is no longer adequate to the demands of our lives. The personal narrative of our selectively remembered past flows into a future defined by our "projections of attachment and aversion." Our ego has rigidified; and when a challenging event occurs, we are brought to a halt and fall victim to suffering. We demonstrate our stuckness and the pervasive nature of our suffering by responding in stereotyped ways. Hershock says, "The only way to bring suffering -- a personal narrative -- to an end without making some karma which will return to the same configuration is to dissolve the source of the suffering, the `I' who views the world through the projections of attachment and aversion" (Hershock, 1996: 98). This appears to be a variation on Jung's argument that the rigidity of an ego-attitude can only be overcome by an irrational factor such as the synchronistic event of the rose chafer's tapping at the window or a large wave crashing on the shore of the lake. The ego that learns to incorporate such events into a new "life narrative" or "personal myth" has converted the crisis into an opportunity.

          According to Ch'an the disturbing interruption must be spontaneously taken up as the first gesture of an improvisation which will creatively transform the incident.

[T]he end of suffering is best construed neither as an escape nor as an attainment of unbreached control, but as the creative incorporation of what originally arises in our experience as a disruption of the order or timing of our life-narrative. A talented jazz musician will take an accidental or mistaken chord or note and improvise with and around it, creating in the process an entirely novel passage within the context of a perhaps quite familiarly ordered piece of music. And, in much the same way, the interruptions of suffering afford us the opportunity of conducting ourselves in an unprecedented and manifestly liberating fashion (Ibid., 20). style='font-size:10.0pt'>

The Ch'an Buddhist lives in a world that "is irreducibly dramatic." The social world is a stage, and every move in our performance, every choice we make, "determine[s] the meaning of our jointly articulating lives" (Ibid., 47). "It is our situation itself that directs us" (Ibid., 189). "[W]hat matters is simply the manner in which things come together, their quality of interdependence" (Ibid., 132). "Synchronicity" is but the name for how "things come together" and reveal their meaningful "interdependence" within "the jointly articulating lives" of analyst and analysand.

          According to Hershock, Ch'an defines "enlightenment" as "a unique way of conducting ourselves in the narrative space of interpersonality" (Ibid., 63). He means that enlightenment is found only "on the way," while sojourning through the ordinary world in an extraordinary manner, that is by greeting each incident as an opportunity for improvisation. Improvisation is the spontaneous creativity that occurs only between one person and another or between people and events. There is always an established melody within which a particular note or chord surprises us. It can cause us suffering when we dwell on its departure from the rhythm or tonality of the established song (our "personal narrative"). Or it can be taken as inspiration for an improvisatory riff. Enlightened beings are masters of spontaneity and improvisation. They have rooted out suffering by freeing themselves from the personal narrative which would otherwise have reacted to interruption and discord with pain. Those who are enlightened wander through the world without goals and find opportunity for creative spontaneity everywhere.

          "Ch'an orients us to . . . a choreo-poetic pedagogy of joint improvisation" (Ibid., 65). In this process, we relinquish our egos "indirectly" through a partner "with whom we can enter into lively and mutually `self'-effacing concourse" (Ibid., 148). Indeed, this "partner" need not be human, as we can see from Ch'an stories in which "a stone striking a stick of bamboo, the honking of a flock of geese, or the moonlight shining through a tracery of autumn branches" occasions the dropping of body-and-mind (Ibid., 222).

          Nevertheless, the primary teaching device in Ch'an, as in Zen, is the encounter between master and disciple in which the latter is "in a very literal sense . . . tricked into enlightenment" (Ibid., 148). This sort of training encounter is called fa ch'an, which Hershock translates as "dharma combat" (Ibid., 80). Dharma combat seeks to undermine "everything familiar and comfortingly secure," to deliberately introduce "suffering" in the sense of a disruption of the disciple's personal narrative. But the master is as much at risk as the student; for the master, too, must "drop every pretense, every hope of security in order to awaken" (Ibid., 81). In parallel fashion Jung argues in The Psychology of the Transference (CW 16: ¶ 375) that the analyst must be as much affected by the work as the patient. And in an address to his students at the Jung Institute in Zurich in the 1950's, he urged them to be "natural, spontaneous, open, vulnerable, and unprotected by the professional persona" -- even to the point of allowing their "shadow to enter the room" (Stein, 1988: 152).

          When our "shadow enters the room," we are apt to say or do something disreputable that is likely to bring about a narrative crisis in our dialogue partner. That a high regard for the shadow belongs to the paradigmatic structure of Ch'an is shown in the reverence it affords to the outrageousness of its legendary masters:

The most loved masters of Ch'an . . . are those who display the wildest personas, whose teaching is the most iconoclastic. . . . [E]ach one of them is what we might call a "real character," a kind of spiritual maverick. Some are outright rascals, . . . ready to sprout angelic wings, . . . [or] as earthy and carefree as the village idiot. . . . In Ch'an, not only are idiosyncrasy and uniqueness not leveled down with the realization of enlightenment, they seem if anything to be accentuated (Hershock, 1996: 191).

A disciple's training is designed to provide one communicative crisis after another. When a master's capacity for original and spontaneous disruptions has become exhausted, the disciple is urged to travel to another who is sure to produce crises of a new sort (Ibid., 114). The disciple becomes a wayfaring anchorite, where the events that occur along the path of the journey are no less important than the dharma combats designed by the masters holding forth at every waystation.

          In one of its teaching stories, Ch'an remembers its ninth century patriarch, Lin-chi, [2] instructing his disciples on one of his favorite themes: "[T]he true person of no rank (wu-wei-chen-jen) -- a person who has no fixed place from which s/he acts, no set patterns of behavior or unchanging tasks and goals." A monk in the audience interrupted, demanding to know who exactly this person of no rank is. Lin-chi leapt off the dais, "began throttling the monk and demanded that he `Speak! Speak!' When the monk failed to respond immediately, Lin-chi thrust him away, exclaiming, `What kind of dry shit stick is this "true person of no rank"!'" (Ibid., 193).

          This dharma combat is begun by the obstreperous monk who interrupts Lin-chi's favorite thesis. The interruption comes from the "floor," from a man of lesser "rank" than Lin-chi and exposes Lin-chi's position on the dais as a potential contradiction: "Here is a man with the highest imaginable rank lecturing us on having `no rank.'" It would be a painful moment for the average teacher, but Lin-chi finds it an opportunity. Immediately he leaps down from the dais, his place of rank, and conducts himself as a highway robber, a man of "no rank." Because he hesitates not an instant, he shows by his conduct that rank means nothing to him. He reacts with a spontaneous improvisation -- completely unexpected and wholly out of character for a man of rank. In this manner he redeems the interruption and turns it into an opportunity to enact the thesis he has been expounding. In throttling the obstreperous monk while shouting, "Speak! Speak!" he announces that his second move in the dharma combat requires a third -- as though to say, "If you're going to challenge me to dharma combat, you had better be ready to reply." He disrupts the saucy personal narrative of the irreverent monk with a humiliating crisis.

          There are a number of anecdotes concerning Jung that portray him as a crazy-wise guru not unlike Lin-chi. For example, Sigrid Strauss-Kloebe tells of an encounter Jung had with two unknown women immediately after his memorial address for Richard Wilhelm, Jung's sinologist friend who translated the I Ching into German. The unknown women immediately began to insist that high caliber artists surely have no shadow. When Jung disagreed, one of them said, "But you, Herr Professor, you are, after all, an exception!"

Jung said nothing. The subject of conversation changed. A few minutes later, Jung leaned back in his chair and stared at two strange ladies who stood in the foyer very modishly dressed and said with tiny narrow eyes: "Now those ladies would interest me a lot!"

No reply from the two idolizers (Strauss-Kloebe, 1982). [3]

          The training exercise of dharma combat involves two elements: The master provokes a personal narrative crisis, and the disciple reacts with spontaneous improvisation. Instead of being trapped in the crisis, the disciple learns to grasp the larger situation by altering the focus of attention. Lin-chi, for example, does not fall victim to formulating a verbal explanation of his position. He grasps the larger situation, his place of honor on the dais. Only because he is an authority can he be "waylaid" by an obstreperous monk. Waylaying and the elevation of the dais constitute the standard "tune" into which the irreverent monk has introduced a discordant note. It inspires Lin-chi to improvise a waylaying "riff." He enacts the role of highway robber even more emphatically than his opponent. Jung employs the same waylaying device in answering the small-minded women. He, too, is aware of the danger of falling victim to idealization by his followers, and seems to have no concern about embarrassing himself through "low-life" conduct. He allows his "shadow to enter the room." He becomes a man of "no rank." The women, furthermore, are as "speechless" as the obstreperous monk: "No reply from the two idolizers."

          The analysis of the scarab-dream woman reveals a remarkably similar structure. Like the obstreperous monk, the patient is stuck in the rationality of her ego-centered approach to life. Her consultation with Jung places him on the dais as analyst and expert. She looks to him to solve her problem through rational discourse. Like Lin-chi, Jung sees rational dialogue as a trap. The dharma combat is already underway. His reply directs attention to a wider context, when he says in effect, "I have no answers; let's see what your dreams can tell us." At this point the woman is as unconvinced as the obstreperous monk. Skeptically, she tells Jung a dream of being given a golden scarab. It seems clear from Jung's account that this is not the first dream this woman has told. He has already learned that rational explication of the dream in terms of the mythology of ancient Egypt, while correct enough, will effectively amount to falling victim to the patient's rationalistic expectations. It looks for a moment as though Jung is as much embarrassed and victimized as Lin-chi appeared to be while the obstreperous monk was speaking.

          But Jung shifts the focus of attention away from the conversation itself to the whole context: two people sitting in a room talking while a whole world of nature exists just outside the walls. Unexpectedly there is a tapping at the window. Something wants to gain entrance. If Jung had attended only to the words being exchanged in his search for the irrational factor that would overturn his patient's rationality, be would have remained stuck himself -- just as surely as Lin-chi would have fallen victim to the dharma combat had he not attended to the highway-robber theme implicit in the interruption.

          Opening the window and presenting the woman with the rose chafer constitutes an act of spontaneous improvisation based in a grasp of the whole context. Abruptly departing from the conventional rules of analysis, Jung turns his back on his patient and opens the window. Initially his actions seem as irrelevant and discourteous as Lin-chi's springing down from the dais. A moment of complete confusion follows for both patient and monk. But then it is clear that an answer has been given on a wholly new plane of meaning: "Here is your scarab!" "Speak! Speak!" Spontaneous improvisation works when an irrational move demonstrates its transformative relevance as a "riff" which reinterprets the crisis as the first note in a variation on an established theme. An answer is given from a wholly unexpected quarter. A familiar situation is transformed through liberating interaction.

          The best evidence for Jung's analytic work as spontaneous improvisation comes not from his Collected Works so much as from the testimony of his patients and students. They say, for example, that Jung went off on a tangent, but then "I discovered that he was speaking to my essential condition" (Stein, 1988: 151-161). He was answering all the questions I had not had a chance to ask (Spiegelman, 1982: 87-89). I entered a frightening condition where the world was reduced to "whizzing molecules" (Wheelwright, 1982: 97-105). I asked him, "What is the difference between me and that table?" (Weaver, 1982: 91-95). Then Jung told me the second half of my dream, the part I had withheld (Hilde Kirsch in Whitney & Whitney, 1983). [4] In each one of these encounters, Jung makes the essential move of dharma combat by attending to the wider context that made the crisis possible and comes up with a spontaneous improvisation that transforms the dead-endedness of the old tune through a new riff.

          Sometimes Jung attends to the insects flying in the window or the lapping of the waves of the lake. Sometimes he allows himself to be inspired by the "interactive field" that obtains between himself and his patient. Then he says he "thinks unconsciously" (Fischer, 1977: 166). He pays attention to the fantasies rising into his own consciousness out of the emotional field he shares with his patient. In lectures he gave at the Jung Institute in Zurich during the last decade of his life, he describes this style of interaction as his own distinctive contribution to the work of analysis. He says that the interactive field manifests itself as an intelligent third partner in the exchange between patient and analyst. In these informal lectures, he refers to the invisible agent as the "Two Million Year-Old Man" or as the "Great Man." "Two million years" alludes to the ancient wisdom of the human race, the heritage of our "collective unconscious." The "Great Man" suggests the "superior man" of the I Ching and the Anthropos of the ancient Gnostics.

Analysis is a long discussion with the Great Man -- an unintelligent attempt to understand him. Nevertheless, it is an attempt, as both patient and analyst understand it. . . . Work until the patient can see this. It, the Great Man, can at one stroke put an entirely different face on the thing -- or anything can happen. In that way you learn about the peculiar intelligence of the background; you learn the nature of the Great Man. You learn about yourself against the Great Man -- against his postulates. This is the way through things, things that look desperate and unanswerable. The point is, how are you yourself going to answer this? . . . The unconscious gives you that peculiar twist that makes the way possible (Baynes, 1977: 360-361).

"How are you yourself going to answer this?" formulates the crisis provoked by an interruption of a personal narrative. Attending to the "Great Man" amounts to laying oneself open to spontaneous and irrational inspiration, the precondition for an improvisatory riff.

          Even Jung's provocative approach to Catholics (cited in the first paragraph of this paper) appears to be the first move in a dharma combat. His sending them back "to the bosom of the Church where they belong" may suggest a bit of Protestant prejudice. Nevertheless, the attempt to send them back is surely apt to produce a "narrative crisis" in a Catholic with an unexamined attitude toward churchly authority. In effect Jung says, "If you want to undertake analysis, no appeals to theology or dogma will be permitted. You will have to grant full authority to your unconscious and what it produces." No doubt a good number of them turned sadly away. Those who did not will have had to convince Jung that they were no longer "Catholic." They will have had to produce a second move in the dharma combat that effectively lays aside the churchly "defense." They will have had to take up the narrative crisis Jung produced in them as the first note in an improvisation. They will have had to respond in some sense from their "wholeness," from the unconscious, irrationally, as though fed by a spiritual source greater than the ego.



  1. Monomyth: a universal mythic form in relation to which all other myths are variations or fragments.

  2. Lin-chi I-hsüan, known in Japanese as Rinzai Gigen, d. 866/7. Founder of a school named after himself which became the most influential school of Ch'an and the most vital school of Chinese Buddhism (Fischer-Schreiber, et. al., 1989).

  3. Mrs. Strauss-Kloebe is identified only as "from Heidelberg."

  4. A fuller discussion of these encounters may be found in Haule (1999).



NOTE: References to the Collected Works of C. G. Jung are designated by volume number, as CW 1, CW 2, etc. All translated by R. F. C. Hull, all published by Princeton/Bollingen.

Adler, Gerhard (Ed.). C. G. Jung: Letters. Translated by R. F. C. Hull. In two volumes: Vol. I: 1906-1950; Vol. II: (1951-1961). Princeton: Bollingen, 1973 & 1975.

Baynes, Marian. "A Talk with Students at the Institute," in William McGuire and R. F. C. Hull (Eds.), C. G. Jung Speaking, Princeton: Bollingen, 1977: 360-1.

Corbin, Henry. Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn `Arabi. Translated by Ralph Manheim. Princeton: Bollingen, 1969.

Corbin, Henry. "The Concept of Comparative Philosophy." Translated by Peter Russell. Ipswich: England: Golgonooza Press, 1981.

Fischer, Emil A. "On Creative Achievement," in William McGuire and R. F. C. Hull (Eds.), C. G. Jung Speaking, Princeton: Bollingen, 1977: 164-7.

Fischer-Schreiber, Ingrid, Franz-Karl Ehrhard, Kurt Friedrichs, & Michael S. Diener. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion: Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Zen. Translated by M. H. Hohn, K. Ready, & W. Wünsche. Boston: Shambhala, 1989.

Hannah, Barbara. Jung, His Life and Work: A Biographical Memoir. New York: Putnam/Capricorn, 1976.

Haule, John Ryan. "Analyzing from the Self: A Phenomenology of the Third in Analysis." In Roger Brooke (Ed.). Pathways into the Jungian World. London: Routledge, 1999: 255-272

Hershock, Peter D. Liberating Intimacy: Enlightenment and Social Virtuosity in Ch'an Buddhism. Albany: SUNY, 1996.

Homans, Peter. Jung in Context: Modernity and the Making of a Psychology. Second edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.

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