What does it mean to take Jung seriously when he says that we "continue to dream in the unconscious while awake?"

  • is this meant as an insightful answer? just answer ur own question, if so... it could even be beautiful if you did
    – user38026
    Oct 18, 2019 at 17:24
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    I have studied Freud much more formally than I have Jung, but I take it that the unconscious is always “on”, but it is only when we sleep that we access it directly. Through whatever symbols, disguises, forms it takes in our dreams. But as Jung went along I think there evolved a fairly complex (lol see the word “complex”) system, and I don’t remember all the details.
    – Gordon
    Oct 18, 2019 at 17:28
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    During our waking life we sort of see the tracks or history of our unconscious. So look for repetitions. Do we continually thwart the sex act through small arguments? Thwart ourselves at our jobs etc etc. Is there a pattern to it? It can take energy to repress unconscious urges so that we cannot respond spontaneously.
    – Gordon
    Oct 18, 2019 at 17:33
  • It seems to me he meant exactly what the Perennial philosophy means when it speaks of life as a dream. His studies of Alchemy and the Chemical Wedding led to to an understanding of this philosophy and he ended up endorsing it. For a explanation of what he means by 'dreaming' you would have to look into Alchemy. Buddhism, Taoism. Advaita or some other 'Wisdom' tradition. .
    – user20253
    Oct 19, 2019 at 11:28

1 Answer 1


Two principles, one ancient oriental, the other modern and at least quasi western may help situate this question

  • Vedantic axiom: The world we (perceive ourselves to) live in is Maya
    (Old fashioned inadequate translation of Maya is illusion. Nowadays we can say Matrix or Simulation)

  • What they (humans!) call consciousness is just a fictitious thing. When they finally discovered their real consciousness they called it "subconsciousness"
    Paraphrased and simplified from Gurdjieff's Beelzebubs Tales

To operationalize this into a meaningful life-process another Jung statement that may help:

He who looks outward dreams. He who looks inward awakens.
Carl Jung

Computability principle : Undecidable propositions are often semi-decidable.
The classic Turing example is halting.
Rice theorem is a vast generalization.

In simple terms : a program to conclusively answer yes/no may be impossible to construct. But a program to answer yes when true and hang (crash) for no may be possible.

Applied to "Is this world a dream?"
If I awaken I know it is (was) true.
If not I can (at most) keep asking

Testimony of Sages

  1. When you think that everything is someone else's fault you will suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself you will know peace and happiness.
    Dalai Lama

  2. There is only one mistake you are making: you take the inner for the outer and the outer for the inner. What is in you, you take to be outside you and what is outside, you take to be in you. The mind and feelings are external, but you take them to be intimate. You believe the world to be objective, while it is entirely a projection of your psyche. That is the basic confusion and no new explosion will set it right! You have to think yourself out of it. There is no other way.
    Nisargadatta maharaj

  3. Q: How are we to treat others?
    Ramana Maharshi: There are no others.

  • +1 - Blimey, have you really read Beelzebub's Tales. I decided life is too short.
    – user20253
    Oct 19, 2019 at 11:32
  • 😆 😂@PeterJ When I was a kid I wanted to do this. Spent some years struggling and annoying my family. Now thanks to youtube I can enjoy the athletics but not with any envy! Note particularly the sad look at end ie seriously one can waste one's life on misguided pursuits. About Beelzebub : Yeah it took me 20 years from buying the book to reading it.... thanks only to a diligent friend. Remember : Gurdjieff designed it for collective reading. And it's a treat. The closest approx I could give is Chuang Tse's rough ribald humour
    – Rushi
    Oct 19, 2019 at 12:06
  • You're obviously someone who likes a challenge, The Liszt is frightening.
    – user20253
    Oct 19, 2019 at 16:53
  • @PeterJ On the contrary! I was making the opposite point, your original : When all you have is a scratchy old LP you may delude yourself into trying. When you see you naturally back off: "Oho! Not possible! Not in this life!" I certainly don't want to be born again because I wished to play/be Cziffra!
    – Rushi
    Oct 19, 2019 at 17:04
  • I see what you mean and it's an interesting point. It occurs to me that this effect may work the other way around for nonduality teachers on youtube, which is a hopeful thought. .
    – user20253
    Oct 19, 2019 at 17:17

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