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Another Perspective

A Working Definition of God

A reporter from Good Housekeeping Magazine interviewed C. G. Jung just days before he died.* One of the questions the interviewer asked Dr. Jung regarded his thinking about God. Dr. Jung responded: “To this day God is the name by which I designate all things which cross my willful path violently and recklessly, all things which upset my subjective views, plans and intentions and change the course of my life for better or worse.”**

This delineation of God may at first reading appear quite crude and primitive: “all things which cross my willful path violently and recklessly….” Is someone cutting in front of me on the freeway without signaling an encounter with God? I think not. Yet with deeper reflection, this definition of God acknowledges both the human inability to define the ineffable while also pointing to the reality that God is greater than any awareness we may have of him/her. Note Dr. Jung’s focus. He is concentrating on the willful path of the ego and its subjective views. It is whenever the ego is shaken out of its comfort zone in what feels like a violent and reckless manner; is shown that its views, plans, and intentions are in need of change, that Dr. Jung says he knows God is present.

Allow me to offer a couple of illustrations from my own life. The first example feels as if the course of my life is changing for the worse. I am currently striving to sell a house I have rented to others for several years. I water, mow, clear away leaves to present the house in its best possible light. I’ve already poured a lot of money into fixing the interior. Several possible buyers “have fallen in love” with the house and property, yet for what appears to me to be strange reasons – “there are too many cobwebs” – have turned away without making an offer. My ego experiences these disappointments as “violent and reckless.” It feels as if my plans and intentions for life after selling the property are being denied. My ego is trying to bring about a positive change and circumstances beyond my ego’s control are saying, “not at this time.” I wrestle with “my” time versus “God’s” time.

On the other hand, several of you may have noted that I have not been writing lately.*** I have been both busy trying to get the house ready to sell and struggling with some discouragement about my writing. Then on a recent Friday evening, I receive a telephone call from a woman I do not know who lives just outside Albuquerque. She’d stumbled upon my first book, Inner Treasure, Reflections on Teachings of Jesus, at her church’s used book sale. She told me reading my book changed her life. I was caught totally by surprise by her call and comments. It felt like a wondrous wind had blown across my path and upset (positively) my subjective views. I am starting to write again.

To see God depicted as Dr. Jung suggests keeps my ego humble but growing and reminds me repeatedly that bidden or not bidden, God is present.

What is your working definition of God?
*The interview was published in the December, 1961 issue.
** This quotation was found in Edward Edinger's, Ego and Archetype, Individuation and the Religious Function of the Psyche[Baltimore:Penguin Books, 1974] 101.
*** I want to give a shout out to Jamie and Dave for not giving up on me, for regularly checking for new blogs. Thank you and all the others who have done likewise.
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