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Dourley, J.P. (1995). The Religious Implications of Jung's Psychology. J. Anal. Psychol., 40:177-203.

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(1995). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 40(2):177-203

The Religious Implications of Jung's Psychology

John P. Dourley, Ph.D.

(This article is an expansion of the Marston LaFrance Fellowship Lecture, Faculty of Arts, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, March 1989)

I. The Problem and the Paradox

Jung's psychology has attracted the widespread interest of religionist and theologian because, at its core, lies an understanding of the psychogenetic origins of religious experience itself and, so, by extension, of all the religions which have graced and bloodied the history of our common humanity. In a passage, far from atypical of his thought when taken in its totality, Jung candidly refers to his ‘… demonstration of the psychic origin of religious phenomena’ (Jung 1944, para. 9).

The dynamic of the religion and deity-creating function of the unconscious reflects a wholly intra-psychic dialectic. In this dialectic the ego, as a creation of the unconscious, is addressed by the archetypal numinosity of its origins in a process which links and completes both poles of the dialectic, consciousness and the unconscious, in a single organic process. All allegedly extra-psychic agencies are excluded from this inner dialectic. As such, Jung's understanding of the psyche is one of strict self-containment, though it does grant to the archetypal world a possibly infinite fecundity which seeks realization in consciousness. Such self-containment excludes in principle the possibility of a supernatural or transcendent world addressing the psyche from a position beyond the psyche.

Rather the prophet, Messiah or founder of a religion is responding to the archetypal dimension of the unconscious impacting on the ego of the religious personality. Those religions which live do so because the founder's personal experience and imagery are recognized by the

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