The God Archetype
Monday, November 22, 2021
Father Richard shares the importance of archetypes for the soul’s encounter with God, which Jung explored in great depth.
Depth psychology tells us that our lives are guided by subconscious, ruling images which Jung calls archetypes. Jungian archetypes include the father, the mother, the eternal child, the hero, the virgin, the wise old man, the trickster, the devil, and the God image. These worldwide archetypes just keep recurring in different ways and form part of what he called “the collective unconscious.” These fundamental patterns show up in dreams and behavior in every culture, fascinate the soul, and appear in symbols and stories that go as far back in time as we can go.
For Jung, the God archetype is the soul’s whole-making function that drives us toward giving ourselves totally to something or someone, and initiates our desire for the absolute. It says to us: “Become who you are. Become all that you are. There is still more of you to be discovered, forgiven, and loved.” In the journey toward psychic wholeness, Jung stresses the necessary role of religion or the God archetype in integrating opposites, including the conscious and the unconscious, the one and the many, good (by embracing it) and evil (by forgiving it), masculine and feminine, the small self and the Big Self. I call this deep center of the psyche the True Self, the Christ Self, which has learned to consciously abide in union with the Presence within us (John 14:17).
Jung sees the unconscious as the seat of the “numinous,” where the God archetype lives. The Latin word numen is actually another word for the Divine. Something numinous is an awesome, wondrous experience that pulls you into a transcendent moment. Jung thus offers a foundation for rediscovering the soul and recognizing that soul both as within and yet shared with a much greater reality. God is not just out there! This essential insight overcomes the gap between transcendence and immanence.
Augustine (354–430) said much the same: “God is more intimate to me than I am to myself.”  Meister Eckhart (1260–1327) preached: Between God and the soul “there is neither strangeness nor distance.”  Yet most people have never been told there is a place to go to that’s called the soul. Soul is the blueprint inside of every living thing that tells it what it is and what it can still become. When we meet anything at that level, we will respect, protect, and love it. Much of religion, I’m sorry to say, doesn’t teach us or give us this essential light. It doesn’t help us understand the deep character of the Incarnation and how God has chosen our soul as God’s enduring dwelling place. We would have done much better to help other Christians discover their souls instead of always trying to “save” them.
 Augustine, Confessions, III.6.11.
 Meister Eckhart, Induimini Dominum Jesum Christum (Put on the Lord Jesus Christ), Sermon on Romans 13:14.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, unpublished “Rhine” talk (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2015).
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