In my earlier post, “Outrunning the Hound of Heaven,” I described how repressed material in the unconscious mind might drive the religious impulse. I used (among others) the English writer C. S. Lewis as an example. Today I want to present the idea that religious conversion may be an evasion, a way of avoiding the psychologically rigorous journey of self-discovery. I have drawn the material from my diary. To show what an individuation diary can look like, I have left the entry in its original form and appended a more recent commentary to elaborate on the ideas.
Sudden religious conversion may be a way of avoiding the much more rigorous process of self-discovery and self-acceptance. (Image: Wikipedia)
In her Diary of Vowels, Jungian analyst Helen M. Luke describes a type of person she refers to as “the Zen man.” According to Luke, “He is … one who does everything with his whole heart, with complete commitment and devotion – or, in Jung’s words, one who lives his hypothesis to the bitter end, to the death if need be.”
It is a mistake to compare Buddhism’s wholeheartedness with Jung’s idea of authenticity. (Image: public domain.)
The concept of wholeheartedness in Zen Buddhism refers to complete sincerity and commitment. Many in the West, including Luke, have tried to equate Zen wholeheartedness with Jung’s notion of wholeness and authenticity. Jung himself may have made the comparison, as Luke seems to suggest.
Will occupies the seat of power in the psyche. But where is that seat? (Image: public domain.)
These days we say will or willpower does not work, pointing to those who fail to diet or quit smoking as proof. The trouble here is that the decision to diet or quit smoking is just that – a conscious decision – and not an act of will. What these folks will is to go on eating and smoking, so in truth, their “failures” are actually proof that willpower does work. To change something about oneself, or to accomplish some difficult thing, one must will that it be so – not decide – will.