In Simple Reality we would define Jung’s term “individuation” as the creation of consciousness. We will begin by honoring Jung by hearing his more elaborate definition and explanations as expressed by the Jungian analyst, Edward Edinger. “The process whereby a series of psychic contents—complexes and archetypal images—make connection with an ego and thereby generate the psychic substance of consciousness.”[i]  Wherever we see the word ego we can substitute the false self thereby creating a broader context without losing Jung’s meaning.

“This process has as its most characteristic feature the encounter of opposites, first experienced as the ego and the unconscious, the I and the not-I, subject and object, myself and the ‘other.’ Thus we can say that whenever one is experiencing the conflict between contrary attitudes or when a personal desire [the pursuit of plenty, pleasure or power] or idea is being contested by an ‘other,’ either from inside or outside, the possibility of creating a new increment of consciousness exists.”[ii] Again, in the context of Simple Reality, the point at which we choose response instead of reaction is when we create consciousness, entering the present moment and avoiding the creation of suffering by choosing to remain conscious.

“Experiences of inner or outer conflict which are resolved creatively and are accompanied by a sense of satisfaction and life enhancement are examples of the creation of consciousness. Such encounters, sought deliberately and reflected upon systematically, are an essential feature of the individuation process which is a continual coming to terms with contents that are ‘other’ than or opposite to the ego.”[iii]  Obviously, the opposite of the ego is the True self.

“Understood psychologically, this tells us that in the process of creating consciousness we shall at first be thrown back and forth between opposing moods and attitudes [and beliefs and values]. Each time the ego identifies with one side of a pair of opposites the unconscious will confront one with its contrary. Gradually, the individual becomes able to experience opposite viewpoints simultaneously.”[iv]  Entering P-A we find it possible to resolve the paradoxes with insights that would be beyond the boundaries of the intellect.

Individuation occurs both individually and collectively and Jung first realized the existence of the “collective unconscious” and its influence on human behavior. The Christian religion would figure prominently in the process of individuation in the West. “Job is the pivotal book of the Old Testament. Considered psychologically, the Old Testament as a whole represents a vast individuation process unfolding in the collective psyche. Its pivotal crisis is Job and its culmination is the mandala vision of Ezekiel.”[v]

“Motivated by the autonomous urge to individuation (the Holy Ghost), the ego must strive to know the Self and to realize it consciously. As Jung says, ‘[Individuation] means practically that he [man] becomes adult, responsible for his existence, knowing that he does not only depend on God but that God also depends on man.’”[vi]  God depends on man in that God is a projection of man which is why Job with compassion superior to God’s was able to influence God to move from an identity as the judgmental Old Testament God to the compassionate God of the New Testament. God with His transformed compassionate identity appears on the earth as Christ.

Jesus knowing that his death was imminent reminded his followers that they had the inner wisdom necessary for the creation of consciousness. “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor (Paraclete) [Holy Ghost] will not come to you; but if I go I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convince the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgement [individuation].” (John 16: 7-8)”[vii]

“In psychological terms, the incarnation of God means individuation. To the extent that one becomes aware of the transpersonal center of the psyche, the Self, and lives out of that awareness, one can be said to be incarnating the God-image. This experience involves encounter with the opposites. The Self is a union of opposites.”[viii]  “Note that this text [Mysterium Conjunctionis by Jung] equates the creation of the Philosophers’ Stone with the incarnation of God in Christ. From here it is but a step to the equation of individuation with divine incarnation.”[ix]

Edinger is now joined by several other Jungian analysts who also had an affinity for Jung’s work. “Jung also emphasized the importance of living one’s unique life. The key element in individuation is to develop one’s own personality as opposed to living collectively [conforming to a P-B identity], Jung was particularly concerned about the plight of the individual in modern society, for he observed that the moment the individual combines with the mass, his or her uniqueness is diminished and blurred.”[x] Jung agreed with Emerson on the importance of Self-reliance and resistance to accepting the false-self identity.

Philosophy can also shed some light on the dangers of conformity. “The 18th century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote about ‘amour-propre,’ a kind of self-love based on the opinion of others. He considered it unnatural and unhealthy, and believed that arbitrary social comparison led to people wasting their lives trying to look and sound attractive to others.”[xi]

“This would seem to describe our current epidemic. Indeed, in the Greek myth, Narcissus falls in love not with himself [his True self], but with his reflection [mirage of the false self]. In the modern version, Narcissus would fall in love with his own Instagram feed, and starve himself to death while compulsively counting his followers.”[xii]

In Zweig and Abrams’ book, Meeting the Shadow, we find the stories of Taoist philosopher Chuang Tsu teaching the pitfalls of conforming to the conditioned behavior of the false self: “We must become useless to the world. Otherwise, we will live bitter, dissatisfied lives, abused and stripped of precious parts of our personalities.”[xiii]

“The more we align ourselves with our own individual paths, the less we can live strictly according to collective norms and values. To realize our wholeness, we must free ourselves from the suggestive power of the collective psyche and the surrounding world and be willing to appear useless or stupid.”[xiv]  Without a firm grounding in our True-self identity supported by the powerful process inherent in The Point of Power Practice few of us would have the strength to appear “useless or stupid.”

“He [Jung] had always stressed that no man was wholly extroverted, nor were the interior functions ever completely unconscious; these were all relative states. But what he did stress was that all men and women particularly in the second half of their lives, if they were to avoid this swing from one opposite to the other in themselves, had to labour at differentiation, raising their inferior functions and making them equal partners of the superior. That was an elementary goal of individuation and of immense importance in redeeming one’s shadow.”[xv]  Becoming conversant with the nature of the shadow, both individual and collective, can provide profound personal insights that would support the process of individuation.

“The unconscious wants to flow into consciousness in order to reach the light, but at the same time it continually thwarts itself, because it would rather remain unconscious.”[xvi]

“Obviously, it makes a great deal of difference subjectively whether he knows what he is living out whether he understands what he is doing, and whether he accepts responsibility for what he is doing, and whether he accepts responsibility for what he proposes to do or has done. The difference between conscious realization and the lack of it has been roundly formulated in the saying of Christ already quoted: ‘Man, if indeed thou knowest what thou doest, thou art blessed: but if thou knowest not, thou art cursed, and a transgressor of the law [Luke 6:4].’  Before the bar of nature and fate, unconsciousness is never accepted as an excuse; on the contrary there are very severe penalties for it. Hence all unconscious nature longs for the light of consciousness while frantically struggling against it at the same time.”[xvii]

“The difference between the ‘natural’ individuation process, which runs its course unconsciously, and the one which is consciously realized, is tremendous. In the first case consciousness nowhere intervenes; the end remains as dark as the beginning. In the second case so much darkness comes to light that the personality is permeated with light, and consciousness necessarily gains in scope and insight.”[xviii]

“We find ourselves in best agreement with psychological experience if we concede to the archetype a definite measure of independence, and to consciousness a degree of creative freedom proportionate to its scope. There then arises that reciprocal action between two relatively autonomous factors.”[xix]  No behavior yet discovered by humankind will support the process of individuation (awakening) more than the conscious choice of a response rather than a reaction to life’s circumstances, whatever they may be.


[i]     Edinger, Edward. The Creation of Consciousness: Jung’s Myth for Modern Man. Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books, 1984, p. 17.

[ii]     Ibid., pp. 17-18.

[iii]    Ibid.

[iv]    Ibid.

[v]     Ibid., p. 70.

[vi]    Ibid., pp. 109-111.

[vii]   Ibid., p. 21.

[viii]   Ibid., p. 84.

[ix]    Ibid., p. 10.

[x]     Zweig, Connie and Abrams, Jeremiah. Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1991, p. 255.

[xi]    Brooks, Arthur C. “Are You Narcissistic? Who, Moi? The New York Times. February 14, 2016, p. 10.

[xii]   Ibid.

[xiii]   Zweig, op. cit., pp. 254-255.

[xiv]   Ibid., p. 255.

[xv]   Van der Post, Laurens. Jung and the Story of our Time. New York: Random House, 1975, p. 249.

[xvi]   Jung, C. G. The Portable Jung. New York: Penguin Books, 1971, p. 633.

[xvii]    Ibid., p. 637.

[xviii]   Ibid., p. 647.

[xix]      Ibid., p. 649.

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