The Paradoxical Meeting of Depth Psychology and Physics
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The Paradoxical Meeting of Depth Psychology and Physics

Reflections on the Unification of Psyche and Matter

Robert S. Matthews

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eBook - ePub

The Paradoxical Meeting of Depth Psychology and Physics

Reflections on the Unification of Psyche and Matter

Robert S. Matthews

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This book unites the worlds of physics and depth psychology through analysis of carefully selected existing and new dream materials. Their interpretation by Matthews provides fertile ground for the unifying of the extreme opposites of psyche and matter and forms a continuation of the deep dialogue between acclaimed psychologist Carl Jung and Nobel physicist Wolfgang Pauli.

What emerges is an individuation process where inner and outer worlds are intertwined through a succession of dream images, culminating with that of the ring i, the mathematical function at the heart of quantum physics. This mysterious function unites wave and particle and symbolically carries the quality of paradox. The occurrence of the ring i in Pauli's and the author's dreams suggests paradox is a necessary psychological state to experience a living union between psyche and matter. Analysis of accompanying materials further indicates the arising of a new world view where inner and outer, mind and matter, may again be seen as a unified whole.

This book is an engaging read for academics and researchers in the field of Jungian psychology and will appeal to those interested in the novel application of quantum physics to philosophy, psychology and spirituality.

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1 The Ordering Role of Mathematics

DOI: 10.4324/9781003222866-1
Physicists, above all else, seek to understand the order of nature. I can still recall my wonder in school when I grasped the precision of Newton’s three laws of motion. In the Newtonian universe, order was everywhere. Like the mechanism of a clock, all was regulated and predictable. But that was a 19th-century view and one not to last. In the 20th century, those ordering laws of motion were relativized by Einstein, becoming dependent on our own frame of motion. And in the atomic realm, motion even became indeterminate—forcing order alongside chaos. In the 21st century, the quest goes on. There are more physicists working today than ever before, still seeking to find this illusive order (see for example Bohm & Peat 1987), be it as strings, loops or
 Why do they? I think the urge is archetypal. The seeking of order is essential to all our lives. Indeed, life is a continual struggle to maintain order in the face of chaos. The recent Coronavirus pandemic has shown on a global scale just how fragile this order can be. In our modern secular lives, we rely on our conscious efforts to organize and navigate life as best we can. We have forgotten that for millennia, humans sought and found ordering support in the divine. These divine factors came in many forms, a sacred grove or object, an animal spirit, a personified deity, etc. But there is one form in particular that shows mathematics in service to the divine. Ancient mathematics was crucial to the early mapping and recording of the animated heavens above—making images of a divine astral globe. These globes became cosmic mandala structures, images of the Self as mathematically arranged cosmologies, which through correspondence organized earthly life below. In this chapter, I will examine the origins many millennia ago of this correspondence idea, its ultimate dissolution in the 17th and 18th centuries leaving physics as the arbiter of an inanimate cosmology empty of divine correspondence and its possible return through a unification of physics and depth psychology.
The correspondence idea or theory (as Jung called it) is the principle that the order of our individual or social life is reflected in the order of the cosmic heavens above—that we are each a wholeness, a microcosm, whose order should strive to correspond with the order of the great macrocosm, the universe in which all life is arranged. Thus, if we can know the order of the cosmos, we can regulate our own lives. This principle, often referred to by the motto as above, so below (from the second line of the Emerald Tablet) seems to have originated some 5,000 years ago in ancient Sumer at a time when priests were also mathematicians. The idea was repeated, with local variation, in all early hieratic city states. It was a remarkable galvanizing force for civilization. In the West, it survived into the Renaissance, but with the rise of the secular modern world driven by mechanistic science, the idea was increasingly ridiculed as just another “superstition.” But that is not the end of the story, for Jung, with his remarkably honest openness to the unconscious, came upon his own direct experience of the microcosm that we are—through the symbol of the mandala. This symbol runs as a Leitmotiv throughout this book.
In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung shares an early dream containing a mandala symbol. As a young man struggling with indecision over his choice of career, a typically chaotic time, he dreamt of a numinous radiolarian lying in a circular pool in the woods (Jung 1995: 105). The meaning of the mandala form was unknown to him at the time, but Jung was impressed by the dream and with healthy intuition followed its ordering message to pursue natural science, albeit a science of the psyche. Years later, as an established psychiatrist, when Jung began his own inner work in earnest, he became deeply intrigued with the interplay of order and chaos making many drawings of the now recognized circular form of the mandala.
The first formal mandala Jung drew was remarkable—The Systema Mundi Totius—which translates as the structure of the whole world (you can view this mandala image in Jeromson 2005/2006 or Hoerni et al. 2019: 109). It is a marvellous cosmogram. According to Jung “This is the first mandala I constructed in 1916, wholly unconscious of what it meant” (Jung, cited in Hoerni et al. 2019: 116). This drawing shows the typical seven concentric circles of the solar system—the five visible planets, sun and moon (Harms 2011), whose first detailed observation dates back millennia to the Sumerians as will be discussed below. Jung had read voraciously into Gnostic and other ancient writings for half a dozen years prior to 1916 (Jung 1995: 186). He was full of activation from these readings, which climaxed in his outpouring of Septum Sermones1 (Hoerni et al. 2019: 183). It is not clear how much of The Systema was a direct expression from Jung’s reading of ancient texts and how much an outpouring of his unconscious. Both appear to me to be present. It is curious that Jung waited until 1955 to publish The Systema and only then anonymously. He included a descriptor that explains it as a cosmic mandala containing many opposing symbols in a four quarter geometry and multiple shells, all arranged to reveal a mirrored expression of the macrocosmos and microcosmos (ibid.: 116). In essence, The Systema mandala is Jung’s early image of the correspondence theory.
In September of 1917, whilst serving as commandant at Chateau-d’Oex housing British prisoners of war, Jung decided to draw daily mandalas as an experiment (ibid.: 179–216). The first few drawings felt harmonious but then a seven petal mandala broken open at the top appeared. Jung was struck by its stark contrast. Where the previous day’s mandala exhibited an unbroken eight petal form containing a cluster of central seeds, the seeds now threatened to break out in this broken image. According to Hoerni et al, who cites the Protocol records, Jung had received a disturbing letter from a patient, Maria Moltzer, saying his fantasies “had artistic value and should be considered art” (ibid.: 189). Jung realized the letter had thrown him into a disturbed confusion. If he believed the letter, the value of his psychological exploration of these mandala drawings collapsed to a mere aesthetic expression (see also Jung 1995: 212). The confusion left him with a felt sense of chaos that was reflected in the mandala’s broken order.
Through these experiences, Jung realized the mandalas capacity to symbolically express the quality of order or disorder within one’s total state. Jung had early on understood the dual situation we all face, a consciousness caught between two realms:
In my picture of the world there is a vast outer realm and an equally vast inner realm; between these two stands man, facing now one and now the other 

(Jung 1916/1931: par. 777)
He saw in these mandala drawings a snapshot of the current state of one’s adaptation to within and without. It is a human fate that we suffer in chaos when the harmony of our instincts and outer world situation is lost. When confronted with the inevitable difficulties of life, a myriad of inner disturbances ensue, fuelled by warring instincts and various complexed reactions, yielding affects which can “tear the mask of adaptedness off the face of civilized man” (Jung 1952/1969: par. 755). The ego faces an overwhelming multiplicity within and without.
Over subsequent weeks of the experiment Jung’s mandala drawings showed dark waves gradually penetrating the once more whole mandala from below. What had begun as an outer disturbance now appeared as a dark, chthonic energy driving upwards threatening Jung’s unity. Breaking, inseminating and reforming. A dark content from the unconscious had been integrated into the wholeness of the individual, releasing a creative outpouring. The series resolves with a mandala nucleus thickly contained within a cosmic egg.
Jung concluded these mandala images demonstrated something from within the unconscious, something with its own intention (!), sought to organize a fertile ordered space that could act as a containing vessel within which the seeds of concentrated libido might germinate. That is, not only to find a harmonious order, but to use that order to germinate further conscious insight. Our spiritual nature wants us to become an ever greater conscious wholeness, supporting our rhythmic movement through cycles of order and chaos. With the ultimate goal being the establishment of a conscious relationship to our totality, to what Jung decided to call the Self—the cosmic egg at the resolution of the series is a common symbol for the birthplace of the Self (see Chapter 2).
Such a conclusion needed validation. It was 1928, over a decade after Jung’s intense mandalic efforts had begun, that Richard Wilhelm passed on to Jung the Chinese alchemical text, The Secret of the Golden Flower (Lu et al. 2010). The sequenced mandala drawings therein gave Jung seminal corroboration that his process was one others had also experienced. His own process had continued throughout these years and reached a climax with a mandala drawing expressing a deeply numinous dream where the city of Liverpool is laid out in geometric form as a window onto the mystery beneath the inner and outer realms, the one world of the unus mundus (Jung’s psychological term for the hidden world behind the inner and outer realms taken from the medieval name for the template from which god made the cosmos).
Jung had by that time gathered mandala images from numerous sources including religious, alchemical, even scientific and could say assuredly
The mandala 
 is the archetype of inner order, and it is always used in that sense, either to make an arrangement of the many, many aspects of the universe, a world scheme, or to make a scheme of our psyche. 
 The mandala appears spontaneously as a compensatory archetype, bringing order, showing the possibility of order. 
 We could easily say that it is the main archetype.
(Jung in McGuire & Hull 1980: 308)
The mandalas of Jung’s inner work were schemes of his psyche undergoing an individuation process. But as we will now explore, mandalas also arise as world schemes, when not the multiplicity of instinct, but the multiplicity of the cosmos is confronted. As will be shown, it is through such mandalas that the correspondence theory of old was first expressed.

When Priests Were Mathematicians

The word cosmology has its roots in the Greek word for kosmos, ÎșÏŒÏƒÎŒÎżÏ‚, meaning an ordered, harmonious world (Campion 2012: 3). For millennia, a people’s cosmology was a divine manifestation providing a sacred field within which life could find an ordered anchoring point. Although it is to the Ancient Greeks, particularly Plato drawing from Pythagoras, that our origins of cosmology are typically given, its roots lie earlier. Without written records, the possible cosmologies of the Neolithic and earlier people remain obscure. However, various artefacts (rock paintings, carvings and amulets) provide evidence of an interest in several constellations (now called) Ursula major and minor, Orion, Taurus and Scorpio amongst others (Brown 1976). There is evidence of a bear cult involving the constellation of Ursula Minor stretching back beyond 15,000 BCE (Makemson 1954). There is substantial evidence stretching as far back as 30,000 BCE of markings on bones suggestive of the counting of time in lunar months—that is, proto-calendars (Ruggles 2005: xvii). For many millennia, it is likely the use of early mathematics through counting was evoked to order life through the rhythmic patterns of the heavens. Nor should this be surprising as we have always lived within these rhythms of the rising and setting sun, the decaying and growing moon, and the seasonal changes throughout the year. Even our bodies express a daily Circadian rhythm that governs the ebb and flow of various functions including sleep and digestion. It is a natural extension to marry the movement of the heavens above with occurrences in earthly life.
Through the Neolithic period, the nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life transitions to a more settled village life supported by agriculture and animal husbandry, particularly in the fertile region of the Near East. The most remarkable series of temple structures have been discovered in this region at a site dating to around 9000 BCE called Göbekli Tepe. Klaus Schmidt, the archaeologist who first unearthed the site, concludes their purpose to be of ritual intent for no evidence of domestic use was found at the site (2000)...


  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Series Page
  4. Title Page
  5. Copyright Page
  6. Dedication
  7. Table of Contents
  8. List of Figures
  9. Preface
  10. Acknowledgements
  11. 1 The Ordering Role of Mathematics
  12. 2 The Creative Source of the Inner and Outer Worlds
  13. 3 Mathematics of the Ring i
  14. 4 Complementarity and Paradox in Quantum Physics
  15. 5 Complementarity and Paradox in Analytical Psychology
  16. 6Pauli and the Ring i
  17. 7 Pauli’s Fantasy of Die Klavierstunde
  18. 8 The Ring i as Rotating Mandala
  19. 9 Dance of the Three and the Four
  20. 10 In Conclusion—Resolving the Split World View
  21. Index