Jung and Alan Watts

So I’m reading up some more on Jung which led me back to Alan Watts The Way of Zen.  It’s a great book but I prefer (here’s a PDF version) The Book: The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.  Here’s a snippet of what The Book is like:

If you haven’t read these and are interested in healing and finding your way than these are the books for you.  I’ve been a long-time fan of Watts and now my self-study to occupy my days is Jung.  One part I wanted to share with you is Jung’s Psychological Types (a brief intro).  There are 8 psychological types according to Jung: out of the two ATTITUDE types and the four FUNCTIONAL types it becomes theoretically possible to describe eight psychological types:

  • extraverted sensation type
  • introverted sensation type
  • extraverted thinking type
  • introverted thinking type
  • extraverted feeling type
  • intraverted feeling type
  • extraverted intuition type
  • intraverted intuition type

I’m the Intraverted Intuitive type (to read what these are check out in brief JUNG: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION):

“Introverted Intuition does not concern itself with external possibilities but with what the external objects has released within.’  People of this type are inclined to make use of the mechanism of reification (i.e. they treat ideas, images, or insights as if they were real objects).  ‘For intuition, therefore, unconscious images acquire the dignity of things.’  Like Jung himself, who was primarily an introverted intuitive type (with thinking as his auxiliary function), they have difficulty in communicating ideas simply and in an organized way, for they pursue image after image, idea after idea, ‘chasing after every possibility in the womb of the unconscious,’ as Jung says, while usually overlooking what personal implications these possibilities may have.  ‘Had his type not existed, there would have been no prophets in Israel.’  They may have brilliant insights, which, if they can be bothered or sufficiently organized to communicate them, others proceed to build on.

Shadow: extraverted sensation.  Because this is mostly unconscious, they are constantly in danger of losing touch with outer reality, and if they break down they become schizophrenic (oh so true).  Many have schizoid personalities, as did Jung himself as a boy.  Vague about practical details and poorly oriented in space and time, they tend to forget appointments, are seldom punctual, and easily get lost in strange places.  Their poor relationship to reality, combined with the depth of their insights, causes some to experience themselves as belonging to the ‘misunderstood genius’ category.  Their attitude to sexuality can be crude and inappropriate, and they tend to make poor lovers 😦 since they are unaware of what is happening in their own or their partner’s body. 😦

Examples: seers, poets, prophets, psychologists (not experimental or academic ones), artists, shamans, mystics, and cranks; Nietzsche (especially in Thus Spake Zara-thustra).”

I found that quite interesting and insanely true so I wanted to share.  Go check it out and share what type you are HERE.

(and read more detail in Chapter X in volume VI of the Collected Works…which I naturally ordered); What I like about Jung is his argument that ‘symptom formation is itself a product of the individuation process,’ that illness is an autonomously CREATIVE ACT, a function of the psyche’s imperative to grow and develop having to proceed in abnormal circumstances.  Individuation goes awry or is distorted ‘because the individual experiences difficulty in achieving a mature adjustment because certain archetypal needs essential to the programme of development have not been met at the appropriate time in the past.’  ….and….THE SUFFERING OF A SOUL THAT HAS NOT FOUND ITS MEANING (his definition of neurosis).

Now that I’ve shared that with you, onto Alan and The Way of Zen (PDF).  So far I’ll share chapter one which as loads of info on The Philosophy of the Tao/Zen Buddhism.  Here’s some quotes and info from the first chapter:

Zen Buddhism is a way and view of life which doesn’t belong to any categories of modern Western thought.  It’s not a religion, philosophy, science, or psychology.  It is an example of what is known in India and China as “A way of liberation.”  It is similar to Taoism, Vedanta, and Yoga in that respect.  It’s easier to explain what it is NOT rather than what it is.  Zen is regarded as the fulfillment of long traditions of Indian and Chinese cultures (more Chinese) and since the 12th century it has rooted itself deeply in the culture of Japan.  The origins of Zen is as much Taoist as Buddhist;

this is the interesting part: you have to begin to understand the ways of seeing by going back into Chinese ancestry and what’s meant by a way of liberation by example of Taoism.  “Conventional” knowledge: we don’t feel we really know anything unless we can represent it to ourselves in words, math, music, etc.  The conventions we teach our children, communication bonds, what stands for what….all that jazz.  Chinese has little difficulty in seeing that objects are also events–THAT OUR WORLD IS A COLLECTION OF PROCESSES RATHER THAN ENTITIES.  We (modern western) fill our basis of who we are and who you are with role identification; “myself” for the “conventional self” or “person” is composed of a history of selected memories (which makes me think of who we think we are because of illnesses like PTSD).  Memories and past events that make up historical identity are no more than selection.  From all our events/experiences some have been picked out–abstracted–as significant, and this significance has been determined by conventional standards; for the ‘very nature of conventional knowledge is that it is a system of abstractions with signs and symbols/simplification of the human form.’

In ancient Chinese society, the two philosophical traditions playing complementary parts: Confucionism and Taoism.  Confucionism being basically the linguistic, ethical, legal, and ritual conventions that provide society with its system of communication (ver batum) while Taoism is about finding that spontaneity of childhood (tzu-jan or “self-so-ness”) that convention took away (which causes great harm to certain people).  It is liberating.  Unconventional knowledge, with understanding of life directly, instead of in the abstract, linear terms of representational thinking.  Undoing the damage done.  Unrepressing that childhood spontaneity; a way of liberation, not revolution mind you; it’s about not being deceived by convention–use convention as an instrument instead of being used by it.  Interesting, eh?

The originator of Taoism is thought to be Lao-tzu, an older contemporary of Kung Fu-tzu, or Confucious, who died in 479 B.C. (said to have written the Tao Te Ching–which contains the principles of Taoism and its power and virtues).  But there seems to be an earlier source, well, there IS an earlier source–3000 to 1200 BC–I Ching (or Book of Changes)–a book of divinations/oracles based on 64 abstract figures involving the tortoise shell–boring a hole in it, heating it til it cracks, and a foretold future from the cracks also called the 64 hexagons).  Some seers go/went by yarrow stalks’ random division as well.  BUT an expert in the I Ching doesn’t need these things–he can “SEE” a hexagon in anything–‘in chance arrangement of flowers in a bowl; of scattered objects on a table…’  and the reliability of our decisions rests ultimately on our ability to “FEEL” the situation, our peripheral vision.  The I Ching is considered more of a tool that’ll work for him if he has good intuition or he is “in the Tao.”  So the origins of Taoism are in the I Ching but not in the actual text but more in the way it’s used and in the assumptions underlying it.  The …Taoist?  …has to trust it to work by itself (tzu-jan), spontaneously, “self-so.”

Taoism, so, is the process of the world, not the definition.  Lao-Tzu says: “There was something vague before heaven and earth arose.  How calm! How void!  It stands alone, unchanging; it acts everywhere, untiring.  It may be considered the mother of everything under heaven.  I do not know its name, but call it by the word Tao.”

and Ching is a word which combines the ideas of essential, subtle, psychic or spiritual, and skillful.  “The vague, void-seeming, and indefinable Tao is the intelligence which shapes the world with a skill beyond our understanding.”  An important difference between Tao and the usual idea of God is that God produces the world by making (wei), and the Tao produces it by “not-making” (wu-wei), which is pretty much meaning GROWING; for things “made” are separate parts put together like machines, or things ‘fashioned from without inwards, whereas things GROWN divide themselves into parts, from within outwards.

******this makes me think of how we view ourselves with Ptsd.  We can either look and see how we’re built via selected events and memories, the parts making our narrative thus far and determining who we will be and who we are and who we were, or we can see our selves as constantly growing, our parts dividing from a whole and into things new, reaching outwards to the world, the Tao, the way, instead of egotistically inwards….hmmmm*******

to further prove my thinking and probably yours, read this : a universe ‘which grows utterly excludes the possibility of knowing how it grows in clumsy terms of thought and language, so that no Taoist would dream of asking whether the Tao knows how it produces the universe.  For it operates according to spontaneity, not according to plan.’  Lao-tzu: “The Tao’s principle is spontaneity.”  But ‘spontaneity isn’t a blind, disorderly urge; the Tao doesn’t “know” how it produces the universe just as we don’t “know” how we construct our brains.  In words of Lao-tzu’s successor, Chuang-tzu: ‘Things are profound around us, but no one knows the whence.  They issue forth, but no one sees the portal.  Men one and all value that part of knowledge which is known.  They do not know how to avail themselves of the Unknown in order to reach knowledge.  Is not this misguided.’ ”  Back to conventions–the conventional relationship of the knower to the known ‘is often that of the controller to the controlled, and thus of lord to servant.  Thus whereas God is the master of the univere, since ‘he knows about it all!” the relationship of the Tao to what it produces is quite otherwise.” : “The great Tao flows everywhere, to the left and to the right.  All things depend upon it to exist, and it does not abandon them.  To its accomplishments it lays no claim.  It loves and nourishes all things, but does not lord it over them.”

The Tao is accessible only to the mind which can practice the simple and subtle art of wu-wei, which, after the Tao, is the second important principle of Taoism.  Arrive at decisions spontaneously, trusting it to work by itself.  Don’t look at things directly; sight must be relaxed; calmness of mind, “non-graspingness” of mind.

Chuangtzu: “The perfect man employs his mind as a mirror.  It grasps nothing; it refuses nothing.  It receives, but does not keep.”

More later…..

Amy

2 thoughts on “Jung and Alan Watts

  1. THANK YOU for posting this – I am a big fan of both Watts and Jung, although I cannot say I am particularly well versed with either, I have really enjoyed what little I have read by them!! I will definitely check out this post and future ones in more detail later, but I am very grateful to see a post combining the two!

    Brilliant!

    -Paul

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