Part I: Forever Jung
A primordial swamp of sexually charged soup that Sigmund Freud called ‘psychoanalysis’, was the beginning of popular psychology. This seething cauldron of repression, guilt, and daddy issues has since its inception been the platform by which, either through edification or denunciation, all other personality theories are measured.
Freud propounded the idea that the cause of behavior for any given human is largely unbeknownst to that individual. Freud saw that we wander through life stabbing in the proverbial dark; and for what, we are really not sure – but Freud was. Sex. Freud defined the ‘id’ as an underlying primitive sexual impulse; man’s motor as Sigmund defined it. As he explains, the id is single purposed, “only striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle.”
In stark contrast to the id stands the ‘super-ego’, essentially a giant buzz kill, which imposes upon us feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse for getting our sensual jollies. This influence develops from habitual interaction with parents, and then is supplemented by teachers, bosses, meter maids, and the rest.
Sandwiched uncomfortably between these two extremes is the ‘ego’, which serves the id by maintaining the appearance of decorum. If the whole world knows you are only in it for yourself, no one will ever let you get close enough to take anything. So by maintaining the auspice of morality, the ego lulls our environment into a false security in order to preserve our sense enjoyment. See American History for a more detailed explanation of this principle. As Freud saw it, all behaviors are caused by our repressed sexual urges. The good doctor laments, “Much of our highly valued cultural heritage has been acquired at the cost of sexuality.”
Srila Prabhupada, Founder of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), confirmed Freud’s theories in a conversation about the philosopher/psychologist. Prabhupada said that “as soon as there is an embodied living being he must have hunger, he must have sex impulse.” In fact, Prabhupada’s impetus for founding ISKCON, and encouraging the chanting of Hare Krishna around the world was to free man of a ‘cat and dog society’ built around sex desire. The structures of the super-ego are losing out to the collective cravings of the id. We can all agree on this point, including Prabhupada and Freud. Being ‘googoo for GaGa’ or not, the knowledge of her existence makes our use of the word ‘society’ dubious at best.
The Vedas, India’s ancient spiritual canon, and Prabhupada’s own source for knowledge warned of this degradation years ago. In Canto 12 of the Srimad Bhagavatam, titled ‘The Age of Deterioration’, it is explained that our time in history will be a depraved one. It says, “wealth alone will be considered the sign of a man’s good birth, proper behavior and fine qualities. And law and justice will be applied only on the basis of one’s power.” The text goes on to say, “Men and women will live together merely because of superficial attraction, and success in business will depend on deceit. Womanliness and manliness will be judged according to one’s expertise in sex ….”
So by the Vedic standard Freud was on to something. He offered few solutions though, and the inability of his therapies to produce any positive effects has left his reputation on thin ice in today’s Prozac world. One commentator writes, “even applying his own indulgent criteria, with no allowance for placebo factors and no systematic follow-up to check for relapses, Freud was unable to document a single unambiguously efficacious treatment”.
So intuitively Freud’s conclusions seem right, though his methodology was dicey. He also, as our critic points out, offers no tangible solutions. The Vedas offer a sophisticated structure for human society that is meant to harness and dovetail this latent sex desire in order to advance each individual’s consciousness. Through a miraculously intuitive process of speculation and soul searching, one of Freud’s protegé’s, Carl Jung, was able to do the same.
Carl Jung (that’s Jung like Brigham) is a man whose work is the true foundation of all substantive personality theory today. He also happened to be for some time a student of Dr. Freud. Jung had this to say about his guru, “Sexuality evidently meant more to Freud than to other people. For him it was something to be religiously observed.”
The more sophisticated Jung did appreciate his teacher’s explanation of the apparently erratic actions of humans as symptoms of each individual’s ‘subconscious’. Spring boarding off this theory, Jung wrote his prescient book “Psychologische Typen” (Psychological Types). The Swiss man asserts that there are two ways in which the mind could be working at any given moment, either taking in information or processing information already obtained. Both of these functions could be done in two ways. One could take in, or as Jung called it ‘perceive’ information either by sensing or intuiting. Then, one could process, or as Jung noted humans do, ‘judge’, the information by thinking or feeling.
This hodge-podge of possible packages could then be wrapped in an extroverted or introverted mood, rounding out our system, and creating eight possible types as Jung saw them. These types give a clearer explanation for the way different id’s, ego’s and false ego’s dance together. Jung addressed more of the how than the why and became famous for it.
Though Freud’s work of establishing sex as a driving factor in human behavior was essential, Jung’s elaborate explanation of the mental tango between super-ego, ego, and id gave psychologists and lay people alike a way to understand themselves more completely. This is the intention of the varnasrama system offered in the Vedas. By understanding the four classes, or we might say ‘types’, society can curtail the counter-productive ‘tale chasing’ we might otherwise revert back to, and instead elevate our consciousness by engaging in service conducive to our mood.
It is true Jung’s original work had 8 types, but only the indebted servants of graduate level psychology degree programs know of them. The common understanding of psychological types has been narrowed to mirror the varnasrama system thanks to a few more white people we will briefly discuss below.
Indeed, ‘Typen’ was an eso’terrifying monster of a work. For a public understanding of Jung we can partially thank two American women, Isabell-Briggs Myers and her mother Katharine Cook Briggs, whom according to their web-site (www.myersbriggs.org) “set out to find an easier way for people to use Jung’s ideas in everyday life.” These kind women “wanted people to be able to identify their psychological types without having to sift through Jung’s academic theory.” Proving that one’s consciousness can have its cake and eat it too, these ladies standardized Jung’s work by developing a set of questions that indicate where on the scale of taking in and organizing information one falls.
But the cherry on top of this neuro-Neapolitan sundae came in 1984 when David Keirsey published his book Please Understand Me II. In doing so, he provided the most accessible version of Jung’s work. Used by everyone from McDonalds to the United States Army, over 40 million people have been ‘sorted’ into one of Keirsey’s four types. By knowing whether one is an idealist, rational, artisan, or guardian, Keirsey claims that ‘The more you know about yourself, your strengths, your dreams, and your options, the better choices you can make.’
One might ask the question, ‘why do we have such a hard time knowing about us in the first place?’ Jung posits, “the attitude-type regarded as a general phenomenon having an apparent random distribution, can be no affair of conscious judgment or intention, its existence must be due to some unconscious instinctive cause. Therefore, the contrast of types as a universal psychological phenomenon must in some way or other have its biological precursor.”
Jung’s explanation of ‘biological precursors’ is affirmed in the Bhagavad Gita, a seminal text within the Vedic canon. Krishna explains in the Gita, “Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature[…]”. Indeed, most people do seem to have their lives planned out for them whether they would like it that way or not. What Jung called ‘biological precursors’, Krishna calls ‘modes of material nature’. What Krishna goes on to explain is that though afflicted by the material nature, people are actually spiritual beings.
The Gita is a conversation between Krishna, or God, and a great king. The subject of this dialogue addresses the very ills Freud, Jung, Keirsey, and the rest speculate to assuage: mainly human kind’s enslavement by sentimental sensuality. As spiritual beings trapped in a material body, we are like Red Sox fans living in Manhattan.
Jung himself, especially in his later years, wrote openly about his realization that humans are of a spiritual nature, and that the soul is something distinct from the body. Though Jung was, as far as we can tell, relying only on his own intuition, he perceived that the laws governing the transcendent soul, specifically karma and reincarnation, are ever-present. It began to dawn on Jung in his later years that the accumulated experiences of past lives by a given soul were responsible for latent subconscious behavior patterns. He commented that “I can only gaze with wonder and awe at the depths and heights of our psychic nature. Its nonspatial universe conceals an untold abundance of images which have accumulated over millions of years.”
So if these images and traits have been accumulating for millions of years, why is it that we only seem to remember the experiences of this life? God says to Arjuna in the fourth chapter of Gita, “Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot ….” As souls, we are drops in the ocean of the cosmic manifestation, tiny parts of an enormous whole. Most people have difficulty remembering to mail back their Netflix, what to speak of recalling previous lives. So what is a soul to do?
As good Americans, we will say ‘whatever you want’. A comparison of the four Keirsey Temperaments alongside the four classes within the varnashrama system will help us weigh our options. The Vedic texts explain the society as a whole by using the metaphor of an individual’s body. The four classes (brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya, and sudra) make up the head, hands, stomach, and legs, respectively. The Keirsey parallels are idealists, rationals, artisans, and guardians.
The Vedas posit that the goal of human life is liberation from the material world. A person studying and progressing in the yoga systems ascribed in the Vedas endeavors to reach the highest system of bhakti yoga, by which they can rekindle their own exclusive relationship with God. Per our example, you might say a bhakti yogi wants to put on their brightest red, head back to Fenway, and cheer with uncontrollable fervor in the glorious shadow of the Big Green Monster forever more.
Conversely, while still being a Red Sox fan, it can be assumed someone more interested in their Keirsey temperament is simply trying to find a Jeter jersey that fits them. Take the brahmanas and idealists for instance. Brahmanas, in the Vedic system, are meant to uphold the highest standards of morality and justice. They see the essence of each individual as a spirit soul and for that reason can respect all members of society, and the contribution they have to share. The Keirsey explanation of an idealist’s mood is a natural parallel that says the “idealists pride themselves on being loving, kindhearted, and authentic. Idealists tend to be giving, trusting, spiritual, and they are focused on personal journeys and human potentials.”
In the Keirsey paradigm, teachers and counselors are two different sub-categories of idealist. In the Vedic system, brahmanas are the ‘head’, and are meant to guide the rest of the body on how best to act. Similarly, kshatriya means ‘warrior’ and Keirsey’s rationals are often referred to as ‘field marshals.’ Kshatriyas are meant to be the pragmatists that implement the lofty ideals of the brahmanas, and rationals are characterized as individuals best suited for strategic planning and long term organizational leadership.
The sudra and vaishya classes, said to be more controlled by the senses, are matched by their analogs. Like their aforementioned counterparts, Keirsey explains guardians and artisans take in information more so with the five senses than by intuition. Vaishyas are the business people of the Vedic system, responsible for making sure the society has adequate material goods, and they distribute these goods evenly to ensure the proper functioning of society. Keirsey calls artisans passionate “about the ‘art of the deal’ in business.”
Here, in a comparison of these two ‘Typen’s’, we can see the stark difference between the system offered in the Vedas, and all other personality theories. Vaishyas have a purpose in Vedic society, and their abilities to craft a deal are checked by the kshatriyas and brahmanas who serve that purpose. Another well known western psycho-philosopher, Maslow, explained with his hierarchy of needs that food, water, shelter, et cetera, must all be secured by an individual before he can begin the process of self-actualization. So the Vedic varnashrama system engages vaishyas to use their talents as businessmen in the service of providing everyone with these basic necessities. Thus freed from animalistic anxieties generated by wondering ‘what’s for dinner’, a person is free to pontificate on the higher reality of things.
In the Keirsey paradigm, which is simply a tool affirming Western materialism, vaishyas are expected, and in fact, encouraged to get what they can by any means, with no regard to how their actions affect others. Donald Trump is an archetypal artisan that the Keirsey sight makes note of. Enough said?
God says in the Gita that “According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are crated by Me ….” God’s goal is that we use our free will to realize our eternal relationship with Him. Yet, like a fourth grader could not be expected to pass a test on derivatives, so too a person with a bodily state of conscious can not be expected to realize his position as an eternal spiritual soul overnight. So God has made nice divisions within society to help each of us gradually ascend to the highest levels of realization.
It is a fair criticism to mention that the class system of the Vedas is implemented as the caste system of India, and causes arguably more suffering than the gross materialism of the West. This is an article about archetypes though, and such discussions are befitting an article of their own.
For now we will note that some, like Donald Trump, might say that the raising of enormous sky scrapers is what life is all about, but another famous artisan once sang that ‘castles made of sand, fall in the sea’; and so Krishna says you will come ‘to Me’…eventually.