By understanding the unconscious we free ourselves from its domination. This is really also the purpose of the instructions in our text. The pupil is taught to concentrate on the light of the inmost region and, while doing so, to free himself from all outer and inner entanglements. His life-impulse is guided towards a consciousness without content which none the less permits all contents to exist. The Hui Ming Ching says about this detachment:

‘A halo of light surrounds the world of the law.

We forget one another, quiet and pure, altogether powerful and empty.

The emptiness is irradiated by the light of the heart of heaven.

The water of the sea is smooth and mirrors the moon in its surface

The clouds disappear in blue space; the mountains shine clear.

Consciousness reverts to contemplation; the moon-disk rests alone.’

How did this effect come about? To understand or explain the detachment described in the text, our mentality requires a somewhat roundabout approach. There is no use in our miicking Eastern sensibility; for nothing would be more childish than to wish to aestheticize a psychic condition such as this.

This detachment is something I am familiar with in my practice; it is the therapeutic effect par excellence, for which I labour with my students and patients, that is, the dissolution of participation mystique. With a stroke of genius, Levy-Bruhl has established participation mystique as being the hallmark of primitive mentality. As described by him it is simply the indefinitely large remnant of non-differentiation between subject and object, still so great among primitives that it cannot fail to strike European man, identified as he is with the conscious standpoint. In so far as the difference between subject and object does not become conscious, unconscious identity prevails. The unconscious is then projected into the object, and the object is introjected into the subject, that is, psychologized.

Plants and animals then behave like men; men are at the same time themselves and animals also, and everything is alive with ghots and gods. Naturally, civilized man regards himself as immeasurably above these things. Instead, often he is identified with his parents throughout his life, or he is identified with his affects and prejudices, and shamelessly accuses others of the things he will not see in himself.

In a word, even he is afflicted with a remnant of primal unconsciousness, or non-differentiation between subject and object. By virtue of this unconsciousness, he is held in thrall by countless people, things, and circumstances, that is, unconditionally influenced. His mind, nearly as much as the primitive’s, is full of disturbing contents and he uses just as many apotropaeic charms. He no longer works the magic with medicine bags, amulets, and animal sacrifices, but with nerve remedies, neuroses, ‘progress,’ the cult of the will, and so forth.

But if the unconscious can be recognized as a co-determining quantity along with the conscious, and if we can live in such a way that conscious and unconscious, or instinctive demands, are given recognition as far as possible, the centre of gravity of the total personality shifts its position. It ceases to be in the ego, which is merely the centre of consciousness, and instead is located in a hypothetical point between the conscious and the unconscious, which might be called the self. If such a transposition succeeds, it results in doing away with participation mystique, and a personality develops that suffers only in the lower stories, so to speak, but in the upper stories is singularly detached from painful as well as joyful events.

The creation and birth of this superior personality is what is meant by our text when it speaks of the ‘holy fruit,’ the ‘diamond body,’ or refers in other ways to an indestructible body. These expressions are psychologically symbolical of an attitude which is out of reach of intense emotional involvement and therefore safe from absolute shock; they symbolize a consciousness detached from the world.

I have reasons for believing that this sets in after the middle of life and is actually a natural preparation for death. To the psyche death is just as important as birth and, like it, is an integral part of life. What happens to the detached consciousness in the end is a question the psychologist cannot be expected to answer. Whatever theoretical position he assumed, he would hopelessly overstep the boundaries set him by science. He can only point out that the views of our text with respect to the timelessness of the detached consciousness are in harmony with the religious thought of all times, and with the thought of the overwhelming majority of mankind. A person thinking differently would stand outside the human order in some way, and therefore would be suffering from a disturbed psychic equilibrium.

If viewed correctly in the psychological sense, death is not an end but a goal, and therefore life towards death begins as soon as the meridian is passed.