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Re: Reincarnation: HPB & Jung

Aug 19, 1996 02:35 PM
by Jerry Schueler

>I would be interested in a citation here if you can find it, Jerry.  I
>sold my part set of his collected works some years ago in order to eat.

Alan, I wrote an essay about reincarnation for my Enochian Journal
awhile back.  The essay contains some neat models of Jung's
psyche, but since this has to be in ASCII, they are not included here.
Still, you can get the idea.  The main quote you are asking about is
is Vol 17 of his Collected Works.


     Occultism and magic teach that we all reincarnate, or
periodically take on new physical births on this Earth.  But
exactly what does this mean?  First of all, the occult doctrine
does not suggest that we slough off this physical body like an
overcoat, and simply don a new one while "forgetting" our last
life.  This is a naive exoteric view that can be found in many
texts, including the Bhagavad-Gita.  Lets take a closer look.
     Many people think that it is the personality that
reincarnates.  H.P. Blavatsky assures us that it is not:

     "What is the false personality?  It is that bundle of
desires, aspirations, affection and hatred, in short of action,
manifested by a human being on this earth during one incarnation
and under the form of one personality.  Certainly it is not this
(which is in fact, for us, the deluded, material, and materially
thinking lot, Mr. So and So, or Mrs. Someboddy else) that remains
immortal, or is ever reborn.
     "All that bundle of Egotism, that apparent and evanescent
"I," disappears after death ...Nothing remains of that "bundle" to
go to the next incarnation, except the seed for future Karma ..."
(H.P. Blavatsky, Theories about Reincarnation and Spirits)

     OK, the personality does not reincarnate.  So then what
does?  In the same article, she says:

"There are re-births, or periodical reincarnations for the
immortal Ego ("Ego" during the cycle of rebirths, and non-Ego, in
Nirvana or Moksha when it becomes impersonal and absolute); for
that Ego is the root of every new incarnation."

     HPB thus distinguishes between ego and Ego, which she also
calls personality versus the individuality, the latter being
somewhat higher and more lasting than the former.  In other
words, the Ego expresses itself as an individual ego during any
one of a series of incarnations.  Her Ego is thus equivalent to
the occult idea of the oversoul.  We see then that not only do we
take on a new physical body with each incarnation, but also a new
ego or personality - albeit one that is based on the karma of the

     The teaching that we are different while remaining much the
same during each incarnation is familiar in the East.  In Eastern
esotericism, especially Buddhism, the teaching is that each life
is like a wave rising up from the surface of the ocean.  As one
wave rises and falls, shaped and buffeted by karmic winds, it is
soon replaced by another.  Each wave is different, yet most of
the water is the same.

Now lets look at what Jungian psychology has to say on the
subject of reincarnation.  Jung taught that the ego has access to
both conscious and unconscious contents as shown in the figure
below.  The line separating consciousness from the unconscious is
fluid and will shift as we go through life.

Jung taught that the unconscious can be divided into a personal
unconscious, unique to each individual, and a collective
unconscious that is shared by everyone.  This is shown
graphically below.  <FIGURE>

The personal unconscious is that part of the unconscious that
contains contents personal to an individual that were forgotten,
repressed, subliminally perceived, thought, or felt.  Most of
these contents can be restored to consciousness (consciousness
can only hold a few things at once). (Jacobi, J., 1973, The
psychology of C. G. Jung, New Haven: Yale University Press, P 8)

The collective unconscious is that part of the unconscious that
does not contain contents relating to an individual ego, but
rather those that result from "the inherited possibility of
psychical functioning in general, namely from the inherited brain
structure." (Jacobi, p 9)  There is a connection between the
psyche and biology because the psyche, as it is experienced by
us, is inseparable from the physical body, but this does not
imply a biological dependency.  On the contrary, the psyche does
not seem to be limited to space and time (Jacobi, footnote 5, pp

The collective unconscious constitutes the foundation of every
individual psyche (Jacobi, p 9).  The figure below shows this
structure geometrically: <FIGURE>

Now that we have the structure, lets see what Jung says.

"Our personality develops in the course of our life from germs
that are hard or impossible to discern, and it is only our deeds
that reveal who we are ... At first we do not know what deeds or
misdeeds, what destiny, what good and evil we have in us, and
only the autumn can show what the spring has engendered, only in
the evening will it be seen what the morning began" (Jung, C.G. &
Hull, R.F.C. (Trans.) 1991, The development of the personality:
Papers on child psychology, education, and related subjects,
Bollingen Series XX, vol. 17, Princeton University Press, p 172).
Jung's germs sounds a lot like karma.  Now lets look at the ego:

"The ego, the subject of consciousness, comes into existence as a
complex quantity which is constituted partly by the inherited
disposition (character constituents) and partly by unconsciously
acquired impressions and their attendant phenomena.  The psyche
itself, in relation to consciousness, is pre-existent, and
transcendent" (Jung, p 91).

Jung says here that the psyche exists before the birth of the ego
and after its death.  This sounds a lot like HPB's Ego.

Jung also says that most of the conscious develops during the
period from birth to "psychic puberty," which is to say, about
twenty-five years for a man, and about twenty years for a woman.
"This process of the conscious rising up from the unconscious is
like an island newly risen from the sea" (Jung, p 52).  Here Jung
uses the Eastern metaphor of the waves upon the sea.  He warns us
about this:
"By virtue of its indefinite extension the unconscious might be
compared to the sea, while consciousness is like an island rising
out of its midst.  This comparison, however, must not be pushed
too far; for the relation of conscious to unconscious ... is not
in any sense a stable relationship, but a ceaseless welling-up, a
constant shifting of content; for, like the conscious, the
unconscious is never at rest, never stagnant.  It lives and works
in a state of perpetual interactions with the conscious." (Jung,
p 51).

He also points out that according to a law of evolution, our
species repeats itself in the embryonic development of the
individual.  Thus man in his embryonic life passes through the
anatomical forms of primeval times (Jung, p 53).  Here Jung
argues for an ancient occult teaching; every foetus goes through
a miniture version of the entire evolution of our physical body.

"The child has a special psychology.  Just as its body during the
embryonic period is part of the mother's body, so its mind is for
many years part of the parents' mental atmosphere" (Jung, p 74).
This passage suggests that a form of telepathy exists between
parents and their children.  Jung also notes that the mind of the
neonate is not blank.  He says that the child's psyche prior to
the stage of ego-consciousness is not devoid of contents.  Soon
after speech has developed, consciousness is present and is
exercising checks on the previous collective contents (Jung, p
44).  At three and four years of age, the dwindling collective
psyche dreamily reiterates the contents of the collective soul of
mankind.  These unchildlike premonitions, when discovered later
in life, form the basis of the belief in reincarnation (Jung, p
45).  Jung says here that many of our "rememberings" of past
activities are actually images from the collective unconscious to
which we all have access.  How does one go about differentiating
between such visions and true memory of past lives?  He does not

"Primitive peoples often hold the belief that the soul of the
child is the incarnation of an ancestral spirit, for which reason
it is dangerous to punish children, lest the ancestral spirit be
provoked."  This belief is a more concrete formulation of the
idea of the individual psyche rising up from within a collective
psyche (Jung, p 45).  The figure below graphically shows this
idea of the individual rising up from the collective.

What Jung calls "central energy" we would call pure
consciousness, which is to say consciousness without any
attributes or characteristics assigned to it.  This is the Seer
of Eastern yoga or cit.  Finally, Jung says, "The unconscious
psyche of the child is truly limitless in extent and of
incalculable age" (Jung, p 45).

     Although Jung never outwardly admitted to reincarnation as a
fact, his teachings strongly suggests the likelihood.  But not in
the exoteric sense of the ego simply switching to a new body and
"forgetting" the past life.  Jungian psychology suggests the
possibility of reincarnation in the esoteric sense that we have
described above   the psyche or Ego giving birth to a whole new
ego and body with each incarnation.  Like a wave rising up from
the sea, the psyche pushes up a new individual ego, with a new
personal unconscious, from the depths of the collective
unconscious.  Jung's collective unconscious, like the Buddhist
 laya-vij  na, is the storehouse of all of our past experiences
on this Earth.

A quick look at quantum field theory shows us a striking parallel
to the wave and sea analogy.  In the Hamilton-Jacobi theory, a
collection of wavelets in a small region of space has the
appearance of a material particle.  According to this theory,
subatomic particles are not solid building-blocks of matter, but
are groups of energy wavelets.  "This group of wavelets
constantly folds in and out of the general wave motion of the
background much like a large wave of water is produced by the
overall motion of the ocean" (F. David Peat, Synchronicity: The
Bridge Between Matter and Mind, 1987, p 169).  By means of a
cyclic process of enfolding and unfolding, these wavelets take on
the properties of particles with deterministic trajectories
through space.  This theory clearly suggests that all material
objects are just forms of energy (which is what Einstein said
with E=mc2) which rise up from a common background for a time,
and then return.
end of essay

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