A worldview that originates from our archetypal roots is meaningful, containing. Jung often encouraged his patients to give thought to developing a worldview and many eventually returned to childhood faith. However, the modern individual may no longer feel so contained by the religious systems of earlier times.
The religious attitude, a basic psychic attitude, may instinctively manifest as traditional religious practice, an ‘-ism’ of some kind, a living conscious relationship to the divine within, the Self, or a mixture of it all. Making sense of human suffering, and mortality, is a basic containing religious function. Religion, as a mythological pattern with an archetypal foundation, centering around and contained by the Self, grows from the instinctual depths of the unconscious. In the relationship between ego and the Self, the Other is experienced as numinous, sacred, godlike, and this mystery has been projected outside and worshipped since time immemorial.
Death followed by rebirth is one of the oldest mythological patterns, dating back thousands of years; in the moon mysteries, “the moon, after the full, wanders across the heavens in search of its vanishing light until the darkness seizes it completely, and it is gone,” to reappear again after three days, reborn (1). In ancient Egyptian mythology the scarab beetle was a symbol of rebirth carrying great weight.
In the final months of his life Jung described the beneficial effects of a meaningful mythological worldview:
“The need for mythic statements is satisfied when we frame a view of the world which adequately explains the meaning of human existence in the cosmos, a view which springs from our psychic wholeness, from the co-operation between conscious and unconscious. Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great many things endurable – perhaps everything.” (2)
He ends by saying about meaning and meaninglessness that both are true, but if meaninglessness outweighs meaning, the meaningfulness of life will vanish, and with it hope and faith in Life, for “Life is – or has – meaning and meaninglessness.” In the words of Lao-tzu: “All are clear, I alone am clouded.” (3)
- Anne Baring and Jules Cashford, 1991. The Myth Of The Goddess, Evolution Of An Image, Penguin Group, GB, p. 385
- CG Jung, 1961. Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Random House Inc, New York, p. 340
- Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 358, 359