The Divine Wager


— Carl Gustav Jung —

Some Upaniṣad explain that the ultimate goal of the Veda, of its hymns, songs and formulas, is metaphysical knowledge.

What does this knowledge consist of?

Some wise men have said that such knowledge may fit in just one sentence.

Others indicate that it touches on the nature of the world and the nature of the Self.

They state, for example, that « the world is a triad consisting of name, form and action »i, and they add, without contradiction, that it is also « one », and that this One is the Self. Who is the Self, then? It is like the world, in appearance, but above all it possesses immortality. « The Self is one and it is this triad. And it is the Immortal, hidden by reality. In truth the Immortal is breath ; reality is name and form. This breath is here hidden by both of them. » ii

Why do we read ‘both of them’ here, if the world is a ‘triad’?

In the triad of the world, what ‘hides’ is above all the ‘name’ and the ‘form’. Action can hide, in the world, but it can also reveal.

Thus the One ‘acts’, as the sun acts. The divine breath also acts, without word or form. The weight of words differs according to the context…

We will ask again: why this opposition between, on the one hand, ‘name, form, action’, and on the other hand ‘breath’? Why reality on the one hand, and the Immortal on the other? Why this cut, if everything is one? Why is the reality of the world so unreal, so obviously fleeting, so little immortal, and so separated from the One?

Perhaps reality participates in some way in the One, in a way that is difficult to conceive, and therefore participates in the Immortal.

Reality is apparently separated from the One, but it is also said to ‘hide’ It, to ‘cover’ It with the veil of its ‘reality’ and ‘appearance’. It is separated from It, but in another way, it is in contact with It, as a hiding place contains what it hides, as a garment covers a nakedness, as an illusion covers an ignorance, as existence veils the essence.

Hence another question. Why is it all arranged this way? Why these grandiose entities, the Self, the World, Man? And why these separations between the Self, the World and Man, metaphysically disjointed, separated? What rhymes the World and Man, in an adventure that goes beyond them entirely?

What is the purpose of this metaphysical arrangement?

A possible lead opens up with C.G. Jung, who identifies the Self, the Unconscious, – and God.

« As far as the Self is concerned, I could say that it is an equivalent of God ».iiiiv

The crucial idea is that God needs man’s conscience. This is the reason for man’s creation. Jung postulates « the existence of a [supreme] being who is essentially unconscious. Such a model would explain why God created a man with consciousness and why He seeks His purpose in him. On this point the Old Testament, the New Testament and Buddhism agree. Master Eckhart says that ‘God is not happy in His divinity. So He gives birth to Himself in man. This is what happened with Job: the creator sees himself through the eyes of human consciousnessv

What does it (metaphysically) imply that the Self does not have a full awareness of itself, and even that It is much more unconscious than conscious? How can this be explained? The Self is so infinite that It can absolutely not have a full, absolute consciousness of Itself. Consciousness is an attention to oneself, a focus on oneself. It would be contrary to the very idea of consciousness to be ‘conscious’ of infinitely everything, of everything at once, for all the infinitely future times and the infinitely past times.

An integral omniscience, an omni-conscience, is in intrinsic contradiction with the concept of infinity. For if the Self is infinite, it is infinite in act and potency. And yet consciousness is in act. It is the unconscious that is in potency. The conscious Self can realize the infinite in act, at any moment, and everywhere in the World, or in the heart of each man, but It cannot also put into act what unrealized potency still lies in the infinity of possibilities. It cannot be ‘in act’, for example, today, in hearts and minds of the countless generations yet to come, who are still ‘in potency’ to come into existence.

The idea that there is a very important part of the unconscious in the Self, and even a part of the infinite unconscious, is not heretical. Quite the contrary.

The Self does not have a total, absolute, consciousness of Itself, but only a consciousness of what in It is in act. It ‘needs’ to realize its part of the unconscious, which is in potency in It, and which is also in potency in the world, and in Man…

This is the role of reality, the role of the world and its triad ‘name, form, action’. Only ‘reality’ can ‘realize’ that the Self resides in it, and what the Self expects of it. It is this ‘realisation’ that contributes to the emergence of the part of the unconscious, the part of potency, that the Self contains, in germ; in Its infinite unconscious.

The Self has been walking on Its own, from all eternity, and for eternities to come (although this expression may seem odd, and apparently contradictory). In this unfinished ‘adventure’, the Self needs to get out of Its ‘present’, out of Its own ‘presence’ to Itself. It needs to ‘dream’. In short, the Self ‘dreams’ creation, the world and Man, in order to continue to make what is still in potency happen in act.

This is how the Self knows Itself, through the existence of that which is not the Self, but which participates in It. The Self thus learns more about Itself than if It remained alone, mortally alone. Its immortality and infinity come from there, from Its power of renewal, from an absolute renewal since it comes from what is not absolutely the Self, but from what is other to It (for instance the heart of Man).

The world and Man, all this is the dream of the God, that God whom the Veda calls Man, Puruṣa, or the Lord of creatures, Prajāpati, and whom Upaniṣads calls the Self, ātman.

Man is the dream of the God who dreams of what He does not yet know what He will be. This is not ignorance. It is only the open infinite of a future yet to happen.

He also gave His name: « I shall be who I shall be ». vi אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה, ehyeh acher ehyeh. If the God who revealed Himself to Moses in this way with a verb in an « imperfective aspect » ‘, it is because the Hebrew language allows one side of the veil to be lifted. God is not yet « perfective », as is the verb that names Him.

Pascal developed the idea of a ‘bet’ that man should make, to win infinity. I would like to suggest that another ‘bet’, this time divine, accompanies the human bet. It is the wager that God made in creating His creation, accepting that non-self coexists with Him, in the time of His dream.

What is the nature of the divine wager? It is the bet that Man, by names, by forms, and by actions, will come to help the divinity to accomplish the realization of the Self, yet to do, yet to create, the Self always in potency.

God dreams that Man will deliver Him from His absence (to Himself).

For this potency, which still sleeps, in a dreamless sleep, in the infinite darkness of His unconscious, is what the God dreams about.

In His own light, He knows no other night than His own.

iB.U. 1.6.1

iiB.U. 1.6.1

iiiC.G. Jung. Letter to Prof. Gebhard Frei.1 3 January 1948. The Divine in Man. Albin Michel.1999. p.191

ivC.G. Jung. Letter to Aniela Jaffé. September 3, 1943. The Divine in Man. Albin Michel.1999. p.185-186

vC.G. Jung. Letter to Rev. Morton Kelsey. .3 May 1958. The Divine in Man. Albin Michel.1999. p.133

viEx 3.14