Jung's Collective Unconscious, Integrative (Mind-Body-Spirit) Yoga, and Self-Realization

Jung's Collective Unconscious, Integrative (Mind-Body-Spirit) Yoga, and Self-Realization

Manoj Sharma (Jackson State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9065-1.ch005


The collective unconscious is a construct presented by Jung to epitomize a depiction comprising of memories and impulses about which one is not aware and that is common to the entire humankind. An ancient system of mind-body-spirit practice, yoga, also implies the yoking of human consciousness to super-consciousness, which is an expanded form of the collective unconscious used by Jung. Super-consciousness is not only linked with the unconscious of the humankind but also to the entire nature or Universe all the way to the static primordial state in which there is no vibration and yet is the source of all creation. Yoga helps decipher this primordial state which is also called by some as self-realization. This chapter explicates the concept of the collective unconscious, the system of ancient yoga, a modern practical paradigm of kundalini energy yoga (KEY), and steps for self-realization to decipher and conclude this characterization.
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Among the early contributors to the discipline of psychology, as it is known in the West in present times, is Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Freud was an Austrian neurologist and father of the technique of psychoanalysis. One of his students was Carl Jung (1875-1961), the Swiss psychiatrist whom he often referred to as his most brilliant student (Shor, 1944). Jung has written 105 German and 35 English titles and is well-known for his work in analytical psychology on introvert-extrovert characterization, word association tests, synchronicity, the “collective unconscious” and rebel psychoanalysis (Carvalho, 2014; Jacobi, 1943; Meredith-Owen, 2011). The beauty of Jung’s work is that he does not come across as a competitor to Freud. His work complements Freud’s work through building on the concept of superego and establishing proactive linkages with everyday realities.

Jung (1968) introduced the enigmatic construct known as “collective unconscious” which he used to describe the inner deeper layers of the unconscious mind that he contended was common to all humankind. Jung differentiated between “personal” and “impersonal” unconscious (Jung, 1968; Wechsler, 1971). According to Jung (1968), the “personal unconscious” is comprised of things that an individual encounters in one’s lifetime such as the forgotten memories of childhood and the repressed desires or impulses as an adult. These aspects are often encountered in dreams. Freud (1923) also talked about this type of unconscious and the aim of his psychanalysis technique was to make this unconscious conscious to enhance adjustment in behaviors. On the other hand, the “impersonal unconscious” is not derived from one’s experiential base but is inherent to all humans and is derived from the collective experience of the humankind. This is also called as the collective unconscious by Jung (1968). His conceptualization of collective unconscious did not receive much credence in his lifetime because it was difficult to empirically test it and was even ridiculed as being fanciful. The concept borders on mysticism which traditional psychologists despise (Freeman, 2016). However, recently greater interest in the exploration of mutual linkages of this concept of Jung’s collective unconscious with contemporary psychology, anthropology, sociology, and other disciplines has resurfaced (Hunt, 2012).

Another system that has gained currency in recent times is the ancient system of yoga which is gaining in its popularity in its various forms and styles all over the world. Yoga often classified under the term mind-body intervention or mind-body-spirit intervention is a traditional practice but now an established part of integrative health also known as complementary medicine or alternative medicine. Some perceive yoga as a means to attain flexibility; others use it to heal bodily ailments; while some contend it to be a way of life mainly to be used to decipher the fundamental purpose of life or Self-realization. It is in this backdrop that this chapter explicates the concept of the collective unconscious as described by Jung, the system of ancient yoga, a modern practical paradigm of Kundalini Energy Yoga (KEY) and steps for Self-realization to decipher and conclude the characterization of both collective unconscious and Self-realization for oneself.

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