Dr. Carl Jung — Heroes, Alchemy, and Connection (#86) | Below The Line with James Beshara

Check out the Below The Line Podcast Page and Episode Notes

Key Takeaways

  • When we can be comfortable with flawed heroes, we can start finding and treasuring heroes around us
  • Myths are maps that guide our lives, directing us to satisfy our biological needs
  • “The most true direction is to be useful, to provide for your community” Carl Jung
    • Serve yourself and you will lack love, connection, nutrition
    • Serve others, and your community will keep giving back to you 
    • “You become invaluable by either doing what only you can do or by doing what no one else will do” Carl Jung
  • “Individuation is when an individual transcends the attachment to the individual, the lower self, and attaches fully to the collective” Carl Jung
  • “Being liked is not being loving. Love thy neighbor has nothing to do with being liked or being nice. Sacrificing being liked for others’ well-being, that is love. That is kindness.” Carl Jung

Intro

  • Dr. Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. Jung founded analytical psychology and his work has been influential in the fields of psychiatry, philosophy, religion, and literature
  • Host: James Beshara (@jamesbeshara)
  • In this conversation, Dr. Jung discusses some of his most influential ideas in psychology, including individuation and the power of myth

Jung’s Most Influential Ideas

  • Individuation
    • The achievement of self-actualization by integrating the conscious and the unconscious
    • You become a truly useful individual in your community
  • Archetypes and archetypal images
  • The Collective unconscious
  • Capital S, Self
    • Which governs our collective unconscious and is the unifying force between us
  • The role dreams play in our lives
  • Extroversion and introversion
  • The Shadow
    • Repressed aspects of ourselves that we don’t want to look at
  • Synchronicity

Dismantling Heroes

  • In this century, we’ll need heroes more than ever
    • “We need heroes in the midst of flaws, strength in the midst of weakness” Carl Jung
    • Yet, we are not able to find them
  • In history books and in fiction, we idealize heroes
    • Our idealized heroes have no flaws
    • In real life, no one has no flaws and that’s why we’re incapable of finding modern-day heroes
      • We wait for people to die so that we can remove their flaws and turn them into heroes
    • “How many heroes living around us do we miss on? Do we not empower?” Carl Jung
    • Jesus has been put on such a pedestal that we can no longer relate to him
  • Our heroes should be unclothed and have their flaws revealed
  • When we can be comfortable with flawed heroes, we can start finding and treasuring heroes around us

Significance of Myths

  • Myths are not just entertainment stories
    • They are maps that guide our lives, directing us to satisfy our biological needs
  • The Myth of the Hero points us to the ideal that we can pursue to find fulfillment and satisfy our needs
    • “The most true direction is to be useful, to provide for your community” Carl Jung
      • Serve yourself and you will lack love, connection, nutrition
      • Serve others, and your community will keep giving back to you 
    • The hero isn’t just a part of the community, it is an invaluable part
      • “You become invaluable by either doing what only you can do or by doing what no one else will do” Carl Jung
  • We are constantly in search of the myths that best serve our biological needs
  • Myths developed and refined over 25,000 years, they survived because they work
  • In the mythological sense, “sin” is to live separate from your target, your direction in life
    • In reality, we are not separate, but we feel that way
    • “If you zoom out to a time horizon that begins with the Big Bang, we (everything) was connected physically. It’s less obvious, but we still are. Connected that is” Carl Jung
  • The individuation process, the hero’s path all aim to help us remember our truth, that we are connected

Paradoxical Truths

  • To tell if a paradox is true or not
    • Zoom out and see if it unifies you and your “target” or if it separates you
    • If it unifies, it is true
  • Conflict is needed for harmony
    • White blood cells attacking a virus allow you to live
    • Nuclear explosions on the sun give us a peaceful spring day
  • The main paradoxical truths are in our myths
    • Does being selfless starve or serve the self?
    • You can test this in your own life
  • “Holy shit” is not just a colloquial myth, it is a biological truth
    • When we hear something that rings true, we instinctively say “Holy shit”
    • Consciously we think of shit as waste
    • But unconsciously, we know that it is holy
      • Dung is biological gold, the feed for all plants, the source of life

Individuation is Unification

  • Individuation does not mean becoming more “individual”, or a more divided self
    • On the contrary, it is a process of unification
  • The process of individuation is the unification of the
    • Lower Self and the higher Self
    • Conscious and unconscious
    • Individual and their community
  • “Individuation is when an individual transcends the attachment to the individual, the lower self, and attaches fully to the collective” Carl Jung
    • Transcending the self is a painful and scary process
    • “The treasure you seek is in the cave you least want to enter” Joseph Campbell
  • Before individuation one lives a typical life; concerned about money, prestige etc…
  • After individuation, you are concerned with truth, biological truths
    • “Do you choose uncertain life or do you choose certain death? Each day you have a chance, several times a day, you make a choice between those when you choose comfort over truth” – Carl Jung
  • “Being liked is not being loving. Love thy neighbor has nothing to do with being liked or being nice. Sacrificing being liked for others’ well-being, that is love. That is kindness.” Carl Jung

On Freud and Divergence of Ideas

  • Freud was not concerned with the latest trends or research, he was in search of Universal Truth
    • His influences were the mythological truths of Shakespeare and Nietzsche
    • “He wasn’t on this earth to cure an illness. He was on this earth to cure mankind. That was his mission” Sigmund Freud
    • That’s what attracted Jung to him
  • With time Jung recognized he would be more useful in creating his own identity
    • Separation from Freud meant that Jung had to face his deepest fear, loneliness
  • Where Freud and Jung started diverging
    • To Freud, sexual desire was the ultimate master of our behavior
    • To Jung, our unconscious was also co-created by our collective myths 

Alchemy and Turning Lead Into Gold

  • Jung used to discard the ideas of alchemy, but with time, as his understanding improved he started seeing the value in its implications
    • Isaac Newton was also fascinated by Alchemy
  • Interpretation of the idea of turning lead into gold
    • Most people see lead and gold as “dead” materials
      • Jung thinks that all matter is alive and continuously transforming
      • What is gold was once not gold
    • Time horizons for such transformations are much longer than humans’ infinitesimally small horizons
  • To understand Alchemy, replace the desire for personal gain with the desire for Universal understanding

Additional Notes

Below the Line : , ,
Notes By Giorgio Parlato

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