Psychological Model Connects People with God

A well-known Cayce aphorism, "Know that you are an individual, yet one with God," may seem trite in the face of contemporary problems, but Jungian analyst and scholar of scripture, Edward Edinger, revitalizes this aspect of the Christ Consciousness as essential to personal and spiritual progress.

Edinger affirms that Christ is wholly both God and human in his recent book, Ego and Archetype (Shambhala Publications). Psychologically, Christ is a symbol for both the Self and the ideal ego. The Self is the ordering and unifying center of the psyche (conscious and unconscious), which, in some cases, is simply described as God. The ego is the center of conscious personality that is subordinate to the Self. An affinity between ego and Self is illustrated mythologically by the Old Testament doctrine that the human being (ego) was created in God's (the Self's) image.

Using a model called the Self-Ego axis, Edinger explains how people can be thrown back and forth from full participation in the divine life while coping with the cramping confines of the ego. Christ exemplifies the perfect pattern of the individualized ego becoming conscious of Self-direction.

According to his hypothesis, individuals spend their lifetime cycling repeatedly within a threefold pattern through growth in consciousness: (1) ego identified with the Self--inflation; (2) ego alienated from the Self; and (3) ego reunited with the Self through the Self-Ego axis. These three stages correspond with the three terms of the Christian Trinity: the age of the father (Self), the age of the son (ego), and the age of the holy ghost (self-ego axis).

Understood psychologically, the relationship between ego and Self varies throughout the psychic life of the individual. The Self supports the existence of the ego, yet it remains hidden in unconscious identification with the ego. Inflation is the willful act to seek independence for ego development by assuming oneself to be total and complete and, hence, a god that can do all things.

The experience of alienation is the natural consequence of inflation as divine punishment is for sin. Alienation is also a necessary prelude to distinguish the ego from the Self. Allegorically, God is imprisoned in the immature personality, but the repetitive cycle of inflation and alienation helps to restore a conscious realization of divine connectedness. Liberation is imminent through the Christian myth of crucifixion, where the two worlds of consciousness unite. Jesus as ego and Christ, representing the archetypal psyche, merge on the cross the assimilation of the Divine with the dissolution of the barriers built by the ego.

Edinger's Self-Ego model maps the human journey from a pre-exiting (a priori) wholeness through a life of fragmentation, where individuals discover that they are not one, but many. Underlying this apparent multiplicity is a pre-existent unity that urges the realization to wholeness at a conscious level.

Like Cayce, Edinger points out that one's unique individuality merges with universality (or God) by discovering the Self through the total efforts and resources of the personality. Jesus' encounter with the rich young man illustrates that the suprapersonal center of the psyche is the sought-for treasure when He says: "If you would be perfect go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me." (Matthew 19:21)

(Digest by Clayton Montez, Atlantic University)