Satan as God’s shadow?

Answer to JobIn Carl Jung’s remarkable work, Answer to Job (also reprinted in full in the Viking Portable Jung), Jung advances the hypothesis that Job forces God to evolve psychologically.

Recently I found myself reflecting on this as I struggled to come to terms with an edict I had unexpectedly received from my Tai Ji society, with whom I teach on a voluntary basis. In stark contrast to previous interactions, which had been conducted amongst adults, I was suddenly told that a discussion had taken place about my class, that they had decided what I needed to do, and that it was hoped that I would do it. In Transactional Analysis terms, suddenly they had switched from Adult->Adult to Parent->Child.

I was bewildered by this email which came as a slap in the face. Was it meant as a slap in the face? I couldn’t tell. I replied in terms that acknowledged their right to behave in this way, whilst wondering why they had done so, when it had been completely unnecessary. In TA terms, I replied Adult->Parent.

Curiously, this totally wrong footed the author of the email, who immediately asked someone else what to do – i.e. he switched to Child -> Parent in his own interaction, which is quite telling.

Quite unexpectedly, the next day I suddenly remembered Jung’s Answer to Job and the parallel was quite obvious. Except, once I could apply it to my own situation, it was clear to me that Satan is no third party, but the part of himself that God doesn’t acknowledge. In other words, Satan – the adversary – is God’s shadow. This is entirely consistent with Jung’s thinking of God as the archetype of the Self.

This is not to deny the existence of evil beings, which is something Jung seems to do; R J Stewart roundly criticises Jung for reducing everything to the psychological domain (see The Underworld Initiation). But the episode seemed to me an important one in my own psychological growth.


~ by scalambra on November 4, 2008.

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