The Self and the Soul

I. Summary/Review

Berke and Schneider (2006) in their article The Self and the Soul examine the esoteric concepts of self and soul from a psychological and analytical perspective in comparison with Kabbalah. They weave their way through psychological schema of “the self” as presented by various psychologists and scholars alike, hoping to confirm and ground the reader in an ontological awareness of Self whose foundation is laid by modern empirical and speculative studies. The paradox of the conceptual Self – capitol ‘S’ designating Carl Jung’s broad view of it as a “unifying principle within the human psyche” – containing both negative (“shadowy”) and positive facets; conscious and unconscious aspects; which was to Heinz Kohut, “not knowable in its essence”, though through flexible identification with its constituents (ambitions, ideals, talents, and skills), at least describable (Berke and Schneider, 338-341). In the past the Self, the I, or the transcendent quality and being-becoming “I”, was once confusedly synonymous with Freud’s Das Ich, but as “The Ego” is only a facet of the self, or a part of the psychological center of the Mind, its association to the Self as “the self” is incomplete and limiting (Berke, 340). The once popular psychoanalytic school of Freudian ego-psychology was not concerned specifically with the Self and its ontology, rather they dynamically though mechanically pursued and focused on understanding narrower aspects of the mind – as in the ego and its development within a patient (Berke, 341).

Although, to Freud the “I” was akin to the “psyche ” or “self”, as it was the “whole of a person’s subjectivity, […] objectivity, […] the tot ality of their personality”, and his psychoanalytic therapeutic practice was to him a provided & guided spiritual quest aimed toward self-discovery; but, as widely misread (mistranslated) or evidently overlooked, Freud generally did not include the widely applicable and empirically evident, necessary mytho-spiritual connotation as Jung: defining Self as “the complete personality comprising the ego as the center of the conscious functioning, plus the infinitely vaster areas of the unconscious”, ranging from the “subhuman” to the “suprahuman”, as Self extends beyond the individual and is rooted within the matrix of collective unconscious, thus containing transcendent or Aeonic qualities (Berke, 338-342; Jung, 11). To clarify the Freudian “self” limitation: it was Freud’s English translators desire to widen the accessibility and acceptability of his work which distorted his originally intended spiritual emphasis, and focused on a more abstract mind-analysis which resulted in the absent myth & mystical grandiosity available in Jung’s work (Berke, 340). However, according to Berke and Schneider, the metamorphosis of a quest termed ‘soul-study’ into psychoanalysis isn’t a fully valid assumption, for the answer lies in Freud’s complex personality, new paradigm of healing, and his followers, who at the time had to establish themselves as scientists and doctors, not priests and shamans:

they had to operate in a world which was extreme ly hostile to their Jewish identities and backgrounds. Thus, we can speak of a revealed and concealed Freud (niglah and nistar in Kabbalistic teaching). The overt Freud reveled in the mind, its structure and typology, its repressions and cathexes. Concomitantly, the covert Freud delighted in the study of the soul, very much related to his Kabbalistic and Chassidic roots, going back at least three generations (340).

Taking the circumstances and concepts of these prominent psychologists, mentioning briefly other important ontological explorers (Carlos Castaneda, William James, Rollo May, etc…) and their identifications of “self” in conjunction with “soul” into consideration, Berke and Schneider conclude that the Jungian (analytical) Self – as a holographic representation of the universe – is a broad enough designation, and for the paper’s purpose, a most fitting foundational reference (338-345).

According to the article, Jung’s widespread delineation of the Self is conceptually similar to the Kabbalistic idea of “the soul” with its five major categories of soulfulness, ranging from animal to spiritual; which may bring to mind Jung’s anima, animus, & shadow – parts of the all-encompassing Self, “the original state of organism ic integration”, whose complex, transcendent function is the symbolic transformation of an individual – individuation. With Jung the terminology for “self”, “soul”, and “spirit” are of ten used interchangeably as practical terms, although they each remain unique as innate & archetypal entities – much like the Freudian Ego, Id, and Superego (with the Ego reserved for the conscious mind) (Jung, “Aion ; Berke, 339). But, noting the difference between “soul” and “self”, Be rke and Schneider write:

the ‘‘soul’’ is one’s primary, undifferentiated , potential. It is the central, invigorating core of one’s existence. Used almost identically in Jungian psychology with ‘’the psyche,’’ the soul is a non-material, archetypal essence which can connect one’s experience with all experience, one’s being with all beingness, whether animate or inanimate. […] it is that part of the spectrum which integrates inner reality with larger realities, the particular with the universal, personal consciousness with cosmic consciousness. Jung applied the word ‘‘spirit,’’ to  the non-material, ineffable component of being. But ‘‘spirit’’ differs from ‘‘soul,’’ because a soul may be incarnate or non-incarnated, but one’s spirit is incorporeal, ethereal and detached from the body. It is much more like the Kabbalistic entity of the ‘‘ tselem,’’ an astral body […] (341).

This poorly organized web of correspondences, from Self to Soul to tselem opens the door for Berke and Schnieder’s articles intended purpose: Kabbalistic interpretation of psychology, or psychological interpretation of Kabbalah. From moving in and out of etymological, ontological, & speculative realms they eventually beget in the reader a conceptual Self with highly spiritual constituents: the spirit is ethereal, incorporeal, and remains an ineffable component of being: of beingness itself. It is impossible to specify, is formless, spaceless, infinite, and may exist independently from a person, body, or vessel – simu ltaneously acting as a universally unifying principle; in essence it is the Jungian Self which Berke and Schnieder effectively relate conveys cyclically, empirically, & theoretically spiritual attributes regarding the “total interconnectivenes s of everything” (339). This Jungian foundation allo ws Berke and Schneider to examine the Jewish mystical tradition, wherein the soul is a spiritually elevated, transcendental entity, which exists as part of the primordial source (the Godhead) and seeks total obliteration of the self in order to achieve unity with the infinite, known as ayn sof (alternately: Eyn Sof, Einsof, etc..) (341). This is done by retrieving the sparks or qualities of God which exist in everything, and are represented by Sefirot – herein defined as characteristics or creative powers of God (not to be confused with their alternate five distinctions as Partzifum or “faces” of God):

These sefirot are depicted as spheres organized in the shape of a man or, in popular Kabbalah, as a tree. Each sphere is a bundle of illumination as well as the vessel which contains this illumination or energy, like a torus which contains energized plasma. […]Three sefirot surround the head. These are keter (representing the divine will), chochmah (wisdom) and binah (understanding). Internally, the head contains data (knowledge); the neck, malchut (the shekhinah, the feminine presence of the Godhead); the arms, chesed (kindness) and gevurah (severity); the torso, tiferet (splendor); the thighs, netzach (thrust) and hod (trust); and finally, the genitalia contains yes (connection) (341).

As an aside, according to the Etz Chayyim each sefirot exists as a parallel reality, for instance the “Image of God” represented by keter is the Cranium, and its Divine Name is Ehyeh or “I am” – this is but one of the many examples of transcendent correspondences evidenced by the Kabbalah, it’s Tree of Life, Adam Kadmon, symbolical and mystical commentary on man and existence: it offers an extremely complex matrix of thought, the very tip of a yod of which cannot be but briefly mentioned in this responsive paper. Furthermore, according to Vital: Partzufim are (personifications) anthropomorphic “faces” of God via images of the Sefirot. Arikh Anpin or “Long Face” is the Patient One, represented by the sefirah Keter – the Infinite – which indicates pure compassion (rachamim). Abba (Father): the general partzuf of Chochmah (wisdom), the first conscious power in the Soul whose divine marriage is with the partzuf Imma (Mother): as Binah, the Divine Mother; together with Abba (Chochmah) they provide a continuous flow of unbroken energy that sustains all the worlds. The offspring of Abba and Imma are Ze’ir Anpin, “Small Face” or the Impatient One, who acts as the six sefirot from Chesed to Yesod and has the partzuf female counterpart Nukva, who is identified with the Shekinah. These 5 Partzufim parallel the structures of the sefirotic worlds, the soul, & the Divine Name; with Arikh Anpin as the tip of the first letter Yod; resting above the tip of Yod, beyond Adam Kadmon, the Infinite, the Patient One, is the 6th Partzuf: Atik Yomin, the “Ancient of Days”. The following reproduced chart (p. xxxiii) contains: Level of Reality & Corresponding Names, Letter of Hebrew Alphabet, & Partzufim:

Highest Level (Yechidah)   Adam Kadmon   Tip of Yod   Arikh Anpin
Life-force    (Chayyah)    Emanation     Yod (Y)      Abba
Upper Level   (Neshemah)   Creation      Heh (H)      Imma
Middle Level  (Ruach)      Formation     Vav (V)      Ze'ir Anpin
Lowest Level  (Nefesh)     Action        Heh (H)      Nukva

(Vital, Hayyim, Ben Joseph. (1542). The Tree of Life, Volume I: The Palace of Adam Kadmon; Translated and Revised Edition (2008). Menzi, Donald Wilder & Padeh, Zwe).

For the Kabbalist, according to Berke and Schnieder, there are two types of souls, the ‘‘animal soul’’ (Nefesh HaB’hamit ) and a ‘‘Godly soul’’ (Nefesh HaElokit) (343). Nefesh HaB’hamit is surrounded by klipot, or shells, which are similar to Freud’s “Id” or Winnicott’s “False Self”, or the negative unconscious projections of Jung’s conceptual, archetypal “Shadow Self” residing within every individual, although not identical; for, the “animal soul” remains a starting point for spiritual transformation (akin to the alchemical transmutation of base metals into lapis philosophorum – of the alchemical Soul into infat solis; or the pure, archetypal child of Jung; the Inner I made manifest) and through the process of tikkun the Kabbalist may transform yetzer hara (“bad impulses”) and sitra achra (negative qualities; “the other side” – much like the Jungian shadow & its wild projections) through a process of rectification, wherein one may retrieve the embers of the infinite that are embedded in every body, every self, and every soul.

One has to raise them [impulses, qualities, drives, etc…] to their proper spiritual levels in order to bring about a complete transformation of worlds, both personal and cosmic. [Described as:] moving from Tohu to Bohu, where Bohu means the rectified state of the vessel (mind, self, soul, sefirot) literally, the ‘‘it is in it,’’ referring both to the container and the contained (Kaplan, 1990a, p. 82). [In] Kleinian terminology, this process is equivalent to the movement from the paranoid-schizoid position, to the depressive position, and then to a state of inner integration (refuah shalemah: complete healing) (344). This processional mirroring micro and macrocosm, and the return to the sublime Infinite are thus attainable through

uncovering the roots of one’s soul through the process of birur, and achieving a personal rectification was like finding the missing bits and filling in the cracks in one’s existence. […] they strove to obliterate the ego and overcome all attempts at self-enhancement. What these mystics wanted was to explore and determine the nature of their own unique spiritual life-task. In their terms, this meant realizing their ‘‘Godly soul’’ and transforming themselves into a conduit for God’s values and God’s will (Berke, 340).

Berke and Schneider rightly point out that, although soul-searching and self-enhancement is a constituent of Kabbalistic thought and practice, it differs from psychoanalytic self-understanding, self-discovery, self-investigation, etc…rather than coming to terms with and discovering ones true Self, the Kabbalist seeks to eliminate it, thereby attaining mystical union with ayn sof, becoming one with the Infinite (348). Resultantly, the Kabbalist seeks to better serve God and reconstruct the fragments of Him that are manifest in the universe, not to realize the “god within” as contemporary thought tends lean toward. Without going into further detail regarding the method by which the Kabbalists’ achieve soulfulness (as the article messily attempts, skimming the surface of the Kabbalah’s complex mystical system, seemingly picking and choosing at random aspects of the Kabbalistic Soul), it will be best to conclude the findings of their paper with a summarizing remark made by Berke and Schneider:

The soul vitalizes the self. It carries the inner essence of a person into the material world. Meanwhile, the self provides a skin for the soul. It allows the radiant energies of the soul to manifest themselves in actuality and to affect the physical universe. The self reflects, as Jung averred, ‘‘the Divine Spark within us’ (352 ).

Thus, from a psychological perspective, Kabbalah seemingly offers a profound and complex religio-mystical system of thought by which one may achieve a sense of Self and Soul. But, as Berke and Schneider fail to elucidate or succeed in providing, the system is so esoteric & mystical in nature it may not be nearly as effective as other better understood psychotherapeutic practices: a less theosophical approach and more contemporary psychological system may be more helpful to society than one reserved for rabbinical scholars, falsely led magickal (with a K, as Aleister Crowley, Eliphas Levi, Israel Regardie, etc…) practitioners, or curious students. In order to fully comprehend the Kabbalistic system and actually benefit from its practices, one need be well-read and proficient in the Torah, open to alternate religio-mystico visions whose beliefs, values, and world-view are seemingly extraordinarily contradictory & systematically traditional: stemming historically as far back as biblical Jewish patriarchs and handed down “from mouth to ear”; whose language is obsolete relative to popularity (ethnographically speaking), superior (sacredly-so, Kabbalistically speaking), yet fundamentally occult (thus automatically denied the mindful ears of otherwise intelligent christians); the very nature of a secret tradition presupposes its inherent inability to be comprehended, accepted, and profitably learned by those who seek it – hence the necessity and ability of an eventual Jungian individuation, Scientologists’ Xenu-particle cleansing up-front payment programs, New Testaments redemption and baptisms, or even neopaganism to be substantially far more effective as a source, and resource, for individual enlightenment in comparison with the Kabbalah of Jewish mysticism.

If anything, the article by Berke and Schneider does no more than confirm scholarly defeat: a proposed connexion is made between orthogonal systems, and a surface-ripple of confirmation is procured; the article confirms the correspondence between grammatically well-composed sentences (partially so, even), but not of the words therein – it seems the klippot became Qilphoth and somehow marginalized an idealistically interesting and productive proposition. Though, it’s possible (& rightly assumed) that the messy surface-appeal of the topics presented were to be further developed in the “forthcoming book” by Berke and Schneider, of which this article was a chapter. From an introductory standpoint this article effectively related some interesting ideas involving Freud & his overlooked spirituality, but seemed to irresponsibly tie grandiose “self”-psychology with the psychology and ontology of Self in a mystical light.

II. Response

Note: As I am not fully versed in Kabbalistic thought, I may only respond to, and write from (though not ill-informed) an incomplete perspective on the subject; as such, the following response uses citations where necessary, or as seemed appropriate at the time.

Of Man it is said there exists in him something phantasmagorical, fantastic, ethereal, and holographic: characterized in the traditional Western mind through philosophic enquiry, speculative reasoning, and often under the guise of religio-mystical induction, or within the realm of theological debate – as the paradoxical concept of the enduring, ontological Self and its constituents. Psychologically the unconscious and conscious, complex functions of the Self are for Jung the Ego, Shadow, Anima, and Animus. The conceptually unclassifiable, yet exhaustively defined Self striving for retribution, reattachment to or recognition of its itness as a part of the Anima Mundi (for Hillman: the Soul in the world, as the Soul of the World; or in Kabbalah identified in one aspect with the Shekinah in relation to the Rosa Mundi; as in the 13 petals of the rose symbolic of the People of Israel, corresponding to manifestations of thirteen attributes of Divine Mercy), is the procurer-producer, encapsulating-précis of psychic phenomena; the architecturally ineffable, mental and phenomenological vessel representing the Void or Abyss in and of Creation (for the Kabbalist: the Tohu and Bohu present during the Genesis of existence).

It (“the self”) is known by many names, enshrouded under many veils, and has been presented axiomatically from being sensed (or sensory being) through the minute and Individual to the grandiose, Nous or Neoplatonic Universal; simultaneously from an aetherically limited singularity to an ideologically expansive Infinite, it has been recognized as being Being itself (or the being-becoming of experiential memory and existence): it is the container and the contained – and metaphysically has been deemed Soul, Spirit, Self, or Astral [for this essays purpose all terms may be used interchangeably]. But, involving scientific objectivity, metaphysics, or theology, their definitions of “spirit” and “soul” are limiting psychologically, according to Hillman: “for psychology to be possible at all it must keep the distinction between soul and spiritification” (34).

Although, the language of spiritual doctrines, ideologies, and dogma must be borrowed in order for psychology (specifically Archetypal) to make any sense of the Self or Soul through the use of image and metaphor, for “as the soul’s made of logos, ultimately results in that abandonment to the given which approximates mysticism (Avons, 1980) (Hillman, 31). For Hillman Archetypal Psychology identifies the Western loss of a conceptual Soul as their fundamental mistake as a culture – the decline of t he West is thus due in part to its lack of connection with the Underworld & its associated images & imaginals (31). Thus the use of spiritual imagery, specifically the elastic, symbolic representations given by religious imagination and metaphor, as stated by Vico: “gives sense & passion to insensate things” – insensate things being the objectivity desired by psychological evaluation of subjective phenomena (Hillman, 32). So, viewing all as or from metaphorical perspective reawakens the poetica [sense & passion] basis of Mind moving psychology beyond the constraints of personal subjectivity, & into a psychology of things as “objectifications of images with interiority, things as the display of fantasy” (Hillman, 32). There referring to fantasy as the Jungian act of the psyche creating reality daily. Thus, for Hillman psychology itself is an act of poesis with imaging as the native activity of the anima facet of Self or of the mind: thus the epoch (phenomenological) is itself a fantasy: “of isolating, of objectification, and of a consciousness that can be truly addressed by phenomena as they are” (33). – Hence the paradox and impossibility of viewing psychology as an objective science, for objectivity is a poetic genre and experience. Thus, the poetic nature of the Soul or Self, its immaterial beauty, and otherworldly attributes make it mythically, imagistically, and experientially spiritual.

Symbol in Jungian, even more so in Archetypal Psychology, and originally in Religio-Mystical paradigm is paragon; is the All; as such, Psyche is Symbol is Soul (Spirit). Self is the symbol of All, and the Soul although separate in function and as an entity, in relation to the Self, may as psychological terms be used interchangeably. The Self as Psyche is a mytho-symbolic paradigm wherein the inwardly subjective, conscious, and unconscious aspects of the individual parallel and holographically represent the objective, empirical, and outwardly perceptual facets of the collective or World-Soul, and is evident in nearly every poetically designed Mystical system – especially so in the traditional Jewish mysticism of the Kabbalah, as esoterically presented in the Bahir, Zohar, Sefer Yetzirah, and similar foundational, speculative esoteric texts. The psychic faculties of man – emotional, intellectual, experie ntial, perspective, fantastic; respectively the Psyche, Ego, Shadow, anima, animus – are governing constituents, participatory partic les of the Whole (collective unconscious; or Anthropomorphically metaphorically, Kabbalistically-mystically: the Godhead and its Partzufim; Adam Kadmon; Sefirot; Merkavah, etc… ), or the Neoplatonic anima mundi (- the anima mundi is, according to James Hillman, the focus on the Soul in the world as the Soul of the World (Hillman, 1981); it is empirically evident, artistically expressed, and unconsciously or purposefully architected through poetical, spiritual, & sacredly manifested forms: likened as ‘thought-form’ is creatively a function of the Psyche, represented by the arts (i.e., painting), emotions as enacted or masked personae (i.e., theatre), words (i.e., literature, ethnographic tales; language itself) and their metaphorical significance (culturally relevant and era-locale-reflective quality), provide an infinitely expansive locus of meaning (again, the part as representative of the whole). In fact, for the Archetypal Psychologist, as well as the Esotericist or Mystic, Word alone is Symbolic, is Metaphor. According to Hillman, Archetypal Psychology starts in the processes of imagination; the inherent relation between psychology and the cultural imagination is necessitated by the nature of mind; additionally, the images (the metaphor, symbolism, and imagination) that Archetypal psychologists analyze operate like the etymological origin of the word ‘idea’ (eidos from eidolon): “that which” one sees and “by means of which” one sees (Hillman, 1981) (p. 20). For Archetypal psychologists, “metaphor, as the soul’s mode of logos, ultimately results in that abandonment to the given which approximates mysticism” (Avons, 1980) (31).

Before moving onward, I’ll summarize Hillman’s words regarding the metaphorical, imaginal significance of psyche; within the ‘Realm of Images’: Eidola (descent, Underworld, Hades) is prominent within “depth” psychology, where one descends into the “abyss” or “secret chamber” of the personal self; but, for archetypal psychology “depth” refers to the “interiority as a capacity for all things” (39): where the patient-practitioner is metaphorically “looking deep” within and visualizing, imagining, or experiencing the spirituality of the inner, “deep ”, realm. As a relevant example, Hillman discusses the “Ship of Death” (of D.H. Lawrence) – the imaginal vessel built by dreamwork, the metaphysical-archetypal fantasy, and day-world subjective experience: the construction of ones Soul or subtle (“astral”) body, or ocleima of the Neoplatonists, through the paradigm of Psyche, wherein the psyche is encompassing the ego and dream is transformed into image; for the “soul disregards mortal experience”(37). – Mortal experience is what Psyche relies on, yet is only as bound to it as is an Individual to his body: thus, metaphorical (or actual) ego-death, meditative OBE, “astral flight”, “near-death” experiences, and all other seemingly Soul-oriented phenomena are highly fascinating and important topics of psychological interest. When ones consciousness (or Soul, or Spirit, or Astral, etc…) apparently leaves ones body, its often been claimed, in what words were available to the ‘soul-traveler’, that the reality of the immortally substantive experience, comparable only to lucid-symbolic dreaming whereby first-person perception is allocated into the dream, is a reality far more ‘real’ than that of the waking life; long winded sentence short: Death is the primal and yet apparently contradictory non-entity of experiential Soulfulness – it’s not mortal death that’s avoided, but conscious death that’s mystically sought.

– The imagination and metaphorical dialect of Symbolic comprehension, and all that may be subjectively captured by memory, reproduced by an artist-creator (whether consciously or not an “artist”), remitted aurally and tonally by tongue or through music (as Babel; as Herme’s lyre), or replicated in language and daily consciousness as meme, etc…may be, when observed (whether by patient or practitioner) objectively comprehended, yet allocated beyond scientific (concrete) limitation, classification, and praxis into the realm of equally, if not more potent, responsive-reactive, and emotive abstraction. – So far descended into the abyss of the abstract that abstraction itself becomes and is comfortably Symbolic; as each thought and its Divine spark is made visible, flashed from and onto the Psyche-Self of another, the process of Myth (Symbol & Metaphor) is visibly present as a player-participator in its own evolution: via the transference of its patterned influx of categorical information onto and into the separate though uniquely (psychically; lest psychopathically altered) similar human/conscious matrix. Man is then the vessel through which Symbol and Metaphor grow, whereby it may bear its own fruits, and spread its seeds: man as the eventual pomegranate (an object in constant flux, always becoming and always being), producing Symbol (the objective color – the dram atic red and its dark-blood juices; its sweet and tangy bite consumed; the material providing possibility, with the subjective experience of a multi-faceted perceptual object-image-imaginal – engendering description, and enlivening opportunity for “blood” -like metaphorical correspondences, symbolic associations and representation, etc…) while offering itself as a product, and surviving off its environmentally provided nutrients (conscious and unconscious factors which influence the Psyche on a moment to moment basis; that which gives life, breathes being-becoming and itness into the fruit). Thus by expanding automatically, atomically, molecularly, naturally, the seeds (themselves Metaphor) – the ultimate becoming – are the Myth and Dream of consciousness & comprehension: the dream itself, symbolically mirroring: mirroring symbolically: is as above, so below. For Jung,

The mind is not born a tabula rasa. Like the body, it has predetermined individual aptitudes: namely, patterns of behavior. They become manifest int he ever-recurring patterns of psychic functioning.[…]man despite his freedom and superficial changeability will function psychologically according to his original patterns […] until […] he collides with his still living and ever-present instinctual roots. [They will] then protest and engender peculiar thoughts and emotions, which will be all the more alien and incomprehensible the more man’s consciousness has deviated from its original conformity to these instincts. [These] psychological manifestatinos of instinct [are called] “archetypes”. (Psyche and Symbol, Preface, xiii).

As such, archetypes are “living entities which cause the preformation of numinous ideas or dominant representations” and “belong to the realm of instinctual activity”, because they “represent inherited patterns of psychic behavior” which are characterized as being autonomous and numinous (Jung, xiii). But, as expressed by Archetypal Psychologist James Hillman, these patterns termed archai which manifest in arts, religions, dreams, and social custom, as well as in mental disorders, are phenomenal, anthropological and cultural; thus, the creativity, the metaphorical-symbolic activity of all people is spiritual: transcending time and place. – But, to Jung the archai are not phenomenal, hence Hillman and Archetypal Psychology in distinction to Jungian and Analytical Psychology, considers the archetypal to be always phenomenal, resultantly avoiding the “Kantian idealism of Jung” (Hillman, 15 – 25).

Although these concepts and aspects of humanity as described by Jung and Hillman alike (though perceived and emphasized differently) are constructed for the Analytical Psychologist ad majorem Dei gloriam with God symbolically, metaphorically equivalent to the entirety of the Self and Psyche beyond the individual: the psyche (and thus the Self and its constituents) comprises the “totality of existence outside of consciousness, surrounding and carrying the conscious ego” and these spontaneous unconscious manifestations are experienced in every individual – whether by dreams, or fantasy activity – but, are dominant themes of the collective, as made visible via cultural stories or “fairy tales, legends, myths, and rituals” (Jung, xvi). The metaphorical, imaginal significance of archai for Archetypal psychologists is an alternative to the analytical and Jungian psychologists, for whom all is seen to be, or be part of an inherently symbolic language. The individual symbol as well as the collective symbol, as evident in religious mythology, is equally worth examination; individually, a personal symbol or dream whereby a symbol is presented holds emotional and intellectual significance for not only the individual but for those to whom the dream or symbol is exposed. For “the birth of the symbol portends reconciliation into a more fully inclusive and comprehending plane of experience, which is tantamount to the attainment of greater meaning” (Jung, xviii). Jung speaks of the search for wholeness, the “transcendent function” in the birth of symbolic language and symbolic understanding as a process of achieving individuation; and as such it is equivalent to alchemical transmutation, or esoteric spirituality; but as written by Jung and his contemporaries these spiritual concepts become psychological rather than remaining limited by faith or metaphysical ‘superstition’.

Where the process of individuation is seen as the symbolic uniting of the unconscious and conscious factors of an Individual into a Whole, the Kabbalistic unification with the Godhead is seen as the death of the ego-centered Individual. According to Hallamish, Kabbalah seeks to annihilate the self (as in the original, sinful personality-being-drives of the individual), so that and (ego) is transformed into ayin (naught); this is not total fusion with the divine being, but rather is actualized communion with God through communion of thought, or an interacting accordance of the will of the individual with the Will of God; in order for this communion to take place, the area of encounter between man and God must be within the Soul, as it cannot occur within nature: for, “the intellect is limited as a part of the physical entity, as well as in its spiritual experience, but the soul is independent of the body, thus as eternal, it is a reliable source of knowledge” (Hiallamish, 12). Although in terminology, background, and reason for the practice of processional, personal (Self) enlightening behavior (abiding by Halakhic Laws, practicing prayer, fasting, etc…) or individuating spirituality (seeking the aid of a psychologist or contemporary therapeutic setting for Individual growth), Jung and the Kabbalists are empirically (though aesthetically and perhaps ignorantly) alike, for the experience participating in a symbolically enhanced reality remains the same: it’s merely the symbols themselves which alternate.

The unification of Self to World is spiritually akin to transcendental enlightenment, or psychedelically (possibly more contemporarily relatable) comparable to the “ego-death” experienced during psilocybin intoxication; in other words, the uniting of the micro and macrocosm – the self becoming a Self – may be experienced and practiced as mystical transcendence (as sought by a Sufi; or achieved via alternate paradigms by the Kabbalist), through religious conversion (as documented by psychologists such as William James in his Varieties of Religious Experiences), or by psychological growth which offers ideally individual therapy toward the cultivation of a broader sense of Soul or Self . The process of becoming, of possibility, the being-becoming and eventuality is, according to Rabbi Amiram Markel, Kabbalistically represented as heyulies (abilities) alongside Ko’ach (potentialities): the potential for ‘movement’ in every aspect of the Soul in any given moment; further, Rabbi Amiram Markel writes of the power of speech as an example of the Heyulie ability:

As much as a person may speak, it does not at all reduce his ability to speak. It is not that a person is born with the potential for five million words and that, as he speaks, he depletes his power of speech, until he runs out of words and becomes mute. Rather, his ability to speak is infinite, and the only factor which limits it, is his limited life span. Furthermore, even when he is sleeping, and his power of speech is “resting”, he still possesses the ability to speak. This is so, even though during sleep he is unconscious, and has no intention to speak (10).

Thus speech, as a simple example, represents the potency of recognizing Symbolic language (in this case Kabbalistically) : the symbolic power and intentionality of speech and its movement in mind, out of mind, and the conceptually enlightening process whereby such thought is expressed and transferred via sound and syllable, or literal and written symbol, as in pen on page. The mystic or Kabbalist seeks to improve understanding of language and its expressive components by expanding their meaning; much the same way psychology seeks to improve understanding of psyche through utilizing a broad definition of Self (as a spiritual entity, as an object with describable parts but a wordless whole, thus the necessity of a psychological-religio-mystical marriage between the use of scientific-descriptive, and mythical-ethereal language and thought). Where psychologists and psychiatrists have therapeutic practices ranging from medicinal prescription and talk-therapy, mystics and psychologists synergistically share practices such as visualization and meditation; all which seek to broaden consciousness and stimulate unification (or a feeling of) within the individual.

Regarding the faculties of symbolic language and metaphorically unifying principles, there is no better example than common practices of Kabbalistic word manipulation: gimatria, notrikon, and temurah. Through these methods the Kabbalists view and prove words themselves as symbols, denoting language with higher and deeper levels of meaning, numerous in layer and possibility. All of the aforementioned analyze or re-mechanize words, letters, anagrams, phrases, etc…and their numerical values, in order to find corresponding phrases, establishing equivocation beyond literal meaning, adaptive and dependent upon the decryption and speculative encryption used. Language as such is similar to dreamwork: as a dream is dependent upon the dreamer-interpreter, and their knowledge of myth, metaphor, and symbol, as well as their own personal understanding, the speculative geimatria is dependent upon the ability and willingness of the practitioner to in a sense “decode” and “recode” th e Torah. Having jumped through various hoops, and having only touched the surface of the Self, its constituents, and its mystically related psychological components, one may see the similarity and absolute necessity of at least borrowing spiritual identifications for a wider appreciative comprehension of the essentially spiritual Self. In a metaphorical contradictory allocation, it may be said that we need a monotheistic, yet polysemous Godhead. A Who (as the Kabbalistic Mi) and What (as the Kabbalistic Mah), or Binah and Shekinah, as the Divine lovers of the Song of Songs, with their male and female metaphorical representations of the Self, as aspects of Adam Kadmon, remaining ideologically and infinitely open though cryptically sealed gateways, their gatekeepers, key-bearers, as architects of Heaven, and as in the architecture of Heaven itself.



[For the Summary/Review all references are to the article, unless noted otherwise. Berke, Joseph H. and Schneider, Stanley(2006) ‘The self and the soul’, Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 9: 4, 333 — 354. The article may also be found here.]

Markel, Rabbi Amiram; HaBochur, HaTamim Shimon Markel DE’AH ET HASHEM (The Knowledge of G-d). Copyright Rabbi Amiram Markel, 2004.

Hallamish, Moshe. An Introduction to the Kabbalah. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999.

Hillman, James. Archetypal Psychology. Irving: Spring Publications, 1997.

Jung, Carl G. Psyche and Symbol. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1991.

Vital, Hayyim, Ben Joseph. Menzi, Donald Wilder & Padeh, Zwe. (1542). The Tree of Life, Volume I: The Palace of Adam Kadmon; Translated and Revised Edition. New York: Arizal Publications, 1999.

‘The self and the soul’.Berke, Joseph H. and Schneider, Stanley(2006) Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 9: 4, 333 — 354.

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