The First International Conference on Jungian Psychology and Chinese Culture was held in Guangzhou, China in December, 1998. My paper was among the conference papers translated into Chinese and later published in English in Quadrant XXXI (2) Summer 2001. An abridged and slightly revised version is presented here.
For many Westerners an introduction to Chinese culture comes through the use of the I Ching. This profound book, a compendium of wisdom extending back to the roots of one of the planet’s most ancient cultures, has become an important companion for many in the West, including myself. Use of the I Ching challenges the reigning scientific paradigms in Western culture and brings a dimension to the Jungian psychoanalytic process that is sympathetic to the deepest and truest spirit of Jungian psychology.
In Jungian terms, one could say the I Ching is a book that emerged out of the archetypal depths of the human psyche and the psychoid dimensions of the Self. The origins of dreams and the genesis of hexagrams in response to questions addressed to the I Ching are grounded in the same source. The Chinese ideogram for the sage, “the ear listening to the Inner King,” describes the process and goal of Jungian psychology.
Scientists are giving ecological perspectives more credibility, where patterns of relationships are central. Psychoneuroimmunology research and the statistical verifications of the power of prayer and belief blur the distinctions between mind and matter. Our outlook on life, the way we perceive the world, and our ability to reflect and see meaning in experiences have been shown to affect our health and physical well-being. Dreams, particular psychological approaches, certain spiritual practices, and the I Ching address these issues at deep and subtle psychogenic levels where mind and matter meet (1).
Analysts are in a good position to notice synchronistic events because we work with dreams at an archetypal level. Synchronistic events are usually related to archetypal events like birth, death, strong love relationships, and jealousy. Circumstantial evidence that synchronicities occur prompted me to develop an experiment to statistically test the possibility. This was part of my thesis (1983) at the Jung Institute in Zurich entitled “Synchronicity Experiments with the I Ching and Their Relevance to the Theory of Evolution.”
Synchronicity convinced Jung there was an element of the psyche outside time and space: space and time are relative to the psyche (3). Incorporating the concept of synchronicity into his theoretical system late in his life led Jung to substantially reformulate his concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious, putting them on a transcendent basis. Jung thought of archetypes as forms of existence without time and space, with the archetype per se being a “just so” ordering principle, an imperceptible structural element giving order to ideas and completely integrated with physical reality (4). Archetypes have a psychoid nature, meaning they have both a psychic and a physical dimension: psychic and physical are two sides of the same coin (5). An analogy in physics would be light, which behaves as a particle and a wave; matter (particles) and field somehow being two sides of the same phenomena…