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Record Type: Review   ID: 852

C.G. Jung's Psychology of Religion and Synchronicity

Aziz, Robert

 This is a very important book for persons interested in Jungian (or analytical) psychology, the psychology of religion, parapsychology, and/or most if not all types of exceptional human experience other than psi and synchronistic experiences, with which the book is directly concerned. This is because a feature many seemingly disparate EHEs, such as UFO encounters and creative inspiration, have in common is that they are often accompanied by a series of synchronistic experiences or phenomena. Aziz can be credited with completing Jung's thinking in regard to both synchronicity and the psychology of religion. The book is based not only on Jung's collected works but his correspondence, lectures, interviews, his autobiography, and secondary sources. As Aziz suggests, Jung's time may have been too early for the bombshell of his theory of synchronicity set forth in all of its ramifications, including those for religion. Additionally, it may have been more even than Jung himself could attempt, coming, as it would have had to do, on top of his already heretical views. His brand of psychotherapy itself was revolutionary enough, without revealing how revolutionary it really was. Coming at this time, the view Aziz sets forth can be seen as evolutionary rather than revolutionary, although there will doubtless be many who will find it too radical. In the space of a mere abstract, which is already lengthening like a full-length book review, it is not possible to set forth in this brief space the views that required an entire book. All I can do here is to point out that Aziz highlights the shamanistic quality of Jung's personal approach and his psychology of religion, when fully set forth. Aziz writes that the major finding of his research is Jung's concept of "immediate religious experience." In light of the theory of synchronicity set forth in this book, Aziz points out that this should "now be taken to refer not merely to an encounter with the compensatory contents of the unconscious, but to a direct encounter with the the compensatory patterning of events in nature as a whole, both inwardly and outwardly. With the introduction of the synchronicity concept, therefore, Jung's notion of 'immediate religious experience' is dramatically transformed. Through it one is drawn into an encounter with nature that has . . . a very strong parallel in the type of encounter with nature that characterizes the worldview of traditional Chinese philosophy." He adds: "The synchronistic worldview . . . opens the door to a completely new understanding of the meaning of life" (p. 222). It is our view that most, if not all, EHEs introduce us to the possibility of meaning in our personal lives. Synchronistic experiences, if followed up, seem to develop that schema at the individual level, and Jung, with the assistance of Aziz, has given us a worldview that can accommodate our EHEs, which in effect are all instances of "immediate religious experience."
Publisher Information:Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1990. 269p. Bibl: 253-262; Chap. bibl: 223-251; Index: 263-269
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