The Eight Systems of Consciousness – Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary.

To understand neurological space, Dr. Leary assumes that the nervous system consists of eight potential circuits, or “gears,” or mini-brains. Four of these brains are in the usually active left lobe and are concerned with our terrestrial survival; four are extraterrestrial, reside in the “silent” or inactive right lobe, and are for use in our future evolution. This explains why the right lobe is usually inactive at this stage of our development, and why it becomes active when the person ingests psychedelics.

We will explain each of the eight “brains” briefly.

I. The Bio-Survival System

This invertebrate brain was the first to evolve (2 to 3 million years ago) and is the first activated when a human infant is born. It programs perception onto an either-or grid divided into nurturing-helpful Things (which it approaches) and noxious-dangerous Things (which it flees, or attacks). The imprinting of this circuit sets up the basic attitude of trust or suspicion which will ever after trigger approach or avoidance.

II. The Emotional-Territorial System

This second, more advanced bio-computer formed when vertebrates appeared and began to compete for territory (perhaps 500,000,000 B.C.). In the individual, this bigger tunnel-reality is activated when the DNA master-tape triggers the metamorphosis from crawling to walking. As every parent knows, the toddler is no longer a passive (bio-survival) infant but a mammalian politician, full of physical (and psychic) territorial demands, quick to meddle in family business and decision-making. Again the first imprint on this circuit remains constant for life (unless brainwashed) and identifies the stimuli which will automatically trigger dominant, aggressive behavior or submissive, cooperative behavior. When we say that a person is behaving emotionally, egotistically or ‘like a two-year-old,’ we mean that s/he is blindly following one of the tunnel-realities imprinted on this circuit.

III. The Time-Binding Semantic System

This third brain was formed when hominid types began to differentiate from other primate stock (circa 4-5 million B.C.) and is activated for the linear left-lobe functions of the brain, determines our normal modes of artifact-manufacture and conceptual thought, i.e., third circuit ‘mind.’

It is no accident, then, that our logic (and our computer-design) follows either-or, binary structure of these circuits. Nor is it an accident that our geometry, until the last century, has been Euclidean. Euclid’s geometry, Aristotle’s logic and Newton’s physics are meta-programs synthesizing and generalizing first brain forward-back, second brain up-down and third brain right-left programs.

IV. The Social-Sexual System

The fourth brain, dealing with the transmission of tribal or ethnic culture across generations, introduces the fourth dimension, time.

Since each of these tunnel-realities consists of biochemical imprints or matrices in the nervous system, each of them is specifically triggered by neuro-transmitters and other drugs.

Notice how drugs that stimulate the first four circuits, which are already activated, tend to be dangerously addictive, roughly ordered ascending from the first circuit.

To activate the first brain take an opiate. Mother Opium and Sister Morphine bring you down to cellular intelligence, bio-survival passivity, the floating consciousness of the newborn. (This is why Freudians identify opiate addiction with the desire to return to infancy.)

To activate the second tunnel-reality, take an abundant quantity of alcohol. Vertebrate territorial patterns and mammalian emotional politics immediately appear when the booze flows, as Thomas Nashe intuitively realized when he characterized the various alcohol states by animal labels: “ass drunk,” “goat drunk,” “swine drunk,” “bear drunk,” etc.

To activate the third circuit, try coffee or tea, a high-protein diet, speed or cocaine.

The specific neurotransmitter for circuit four has not been synthesized yet, but it is generated by the glands after pubescence and flows volcanically through the bloodstreams of adolescents.

None of these terrestrial drugs change basic biochemical imprints. The behaviors which they trigger are those which were wired into the nervous system during the first stages of imprint vulnerability. The circuit II drunk exhibits the emotional games or cons learned from parents in infancy. The circuit III “mind” never gets beyond the permutations and combinations of those tunnel-realities originally imprinted, or abstractions associated with the imprints through later conditioning. And so forth.

But all this Pavlovian-Skinnerian robotism changes drastically and dramatically when we turn to the right lobe, the future circuits and extraterrestrial chemicals. The four evolving future ‘brains’ are:

V. The Neurosomatic System

When this fifth “body-brain” is activated, flat Euclidean figure-ground configurations explode multi-dimensionally. Gestalts shift, in McLuhan’s terms, from linear visual space to all-encompassing sensory space. A hedonic turn-on occurs, a rapturous amusement, a detachment from the previously compulsive mechanism of the first four circuits. I turned this circuit on with pot and Tantra.

This fifth brain began to appear about 4,000 years ago in the first leisure-class civilizations and has been increasing statistically in recent centuries (even before the Drug Revolution), a fact demonstrated by the hedonic art of India, China, Rome and other affluent societies. More recently, Ornstein and his school have demonstrated with electroencephalograms that this circuit represents the first jump from the linear left lobe of the brain to the analogical right lobe.

The opening and imprinting of this circuit has been the preoccupation of “technicians of the occult”–Tantric shamans and hatha yogis. While the fifth tunnel-reality can be achieved by sensory deprivation, social isolation, physiological stress or severe shock (ceremonial terror tactics, as practiced by such rascal-gurus as Don Juan Matus or Aleister Crowley), it has traditionally been reserved to the educated aristocracy of leisure societies who have solved the four terrestrial survival problems.

About 20,000 years ago, the specific fifth brain neurotransmitter was discovered by shamans in the Caspian Sea area of Asia and quickly spread to other wizards throughout Eurasia and Africa. It is, of course, cannabis. Weed. Mother Mary Jane.

It is no accident that the pot-head generally refers to his neural state as “high” or “spaced-out.” The transcendence of gravitational, digital, linear, either-or, Aristotelian, Newtonian, Euclidean, planetary orientations (circuits I-IV) is, in evolutionary perspective, part of our neurological preparation for the inevitable migration off our home planet, now beginning. This is why so many pot-heads are Star Trek freaks and science fiction adepts. (Berkeley, California, certainly the Cannabis Capital of the U.S., has a Federation Trading Post on Telegraph Avenue, where the well-heeled can easily spend $500 or more in a single day, buying Star Trek novels, magazines, newsletters, bumper stickers, photographs, posters, tapes, etc., including even complete blueprints for the starship Enterprise.)

The extraterrestrial meaning of being “high” is confirmed by astronauts themselves; 85% of those who have entered the free-fall zero gravity describe “mystic experiences” or rapture states typical of the neurosomatic circuit. “No photo can show how beautiful Earth looked,” raves Captain Ed Mitchell, describing his Illumination in free-fall. He sounds like any successful yogi or pot-head. No camera can show this experience because it is inside the nervous system.

Free-fall, at the proper evolutionary time, triggers the neurosomatic mutation, Leary believes. Previously this mutation has been achieved “artificially” by yogic or shamanic training or by the fifth circuit stimulant, cannabis. Surfing, skiing, skin-diving and the new sexual culture (sensuous massage, vibrators, imported Tantric arts, etc.) have evolved at the same time as part of the hedonic conquest of gravity. The Turn-On state is always described as “floating,” or, in the Zen metaphor, “one foot above the ground.”

VI. The Neuroelectric System

The sixth brain consists of the nervous system becoming aware of itself apart from imprinted gravitational reality-maps (circuits I-IV) and even apart from body-rapture (circuit V). Count Korzybski, the semanticist, called this state “consciousness of abstracting.” Dr. John Lilly calls it “metaprogramming,” i.e., awareness of programming one’s programming. This Einsteinian, relativistic contelligence (consciousness-intelligence) recognizes, for instance, that the Euclidean, Newtonian and Aristotelian reality-maps are just three among billions of possible programs or models for experience. I turned this circuit on with Peyote, LSD and Crowley’s “magick” metaprograms.

This level of brain-functioning seems to have been reported first around 500 B.C. among various “occult” groups connected by the Silk Route (Rome-North India). It is so far beyond the terrestrial tunnel-realities that those who have achieved it can barely communicate about it to ordinary humanity (circuits I-IV) and can hardly be understood even by fifth circuit Rapture Engineers.

The characteristics of the neuroelectric circuit are high velocity, multiple choice, relativity, and the fission-fusion of all perceptions into parallel science-fiction universes of alternate possibilities.

The mammalian politics which monitor power struggles among terrestrial humanity are here transcended, i.e., seen as static, artificial, an elaborate charade. One is neither coercively manipulated into another’s territorial reality nor forced to struggle against it with reciprocal emotional game-playing (the usual soap-opera dramatics). One simply elects, consciously, whether or not to share the other’s reality-model.

Tactics for opening and imprinting the sixth circuit are described and rarely experienced in advanced rajah yoga, and in the hermetic (coded) manuals of the medieval-Renaissance alchemists and Illuminati.

No specific sixth circuit chemical is yet available, but strong psychedelics like mescaline (from my 1962-63 “sacred cactus,” peyotl) and psilocybin (from the Mexican “magic mushroom,” teonactl) open the nervous system to a mixed-media series of circuit V and circuit VI channels. This is appropriately called “tripping,” as distinguished from straight-forward fifth circuit “turning on” or “getting high.”

The suppression of scientific research in this area has had the unfortunate result of turning the outlaw drug culture back toward fifth circuit hedonics and pre-scientific tunnel-realities (the occult revival, solipsism, Pop Orientalism). Without scientific discipline and methodology, few can successfully decode the often-frightening (but philosophically crucial) sixth circuit metaprogramming signals. Such scientists as do continue to study this subject dare not publish their results (which are illegal) and record ever-wider tunnel-realities only in private conversations–like the scholars of the Inquisitorial era. (Voltaire announced the Age of Reason two centuries too soon. We are still in the Dark Ages.) Most underground alchemists have given up on such challenging and risky self-work and restrict their trips to fifth circuit erotic tunnels.

The evolutionary function of the sixth circuit is to enable us to communicate at Einsteinian relativities and neuro-electric accelerations, not using third circuit laryngeal-manual symbols but directly via feedback, telepathy and computer link-up. Neuro-electric signals will increasingly replace “speech” (hominid grunts) after space migration.

When humans have climbed out of the atmosphere-gravity well of planetary life, accelerated sixth circuit contelligence will make possible high-energy communication with “Higher Intelligences,” i.e., ourselves-in-the-future and other post-terrestrial races.

It is charmingly simple and obvious, once we realize that the spaced-out neural experiences really are extraterrestrial, that getting high and spacing out are accurate metaphors. Circuit V neurosomatic rapture is preparation for the next step in our evolution, migration off the planet. Circuit VI is preparation for the step after that, interspecies communication with advanced entities possessing electronic (post-verbal) tunnel-realities.

Circuit VI is the “universal translator” often imagined by science-fiction writers, already built into our brains by the DNA tape. Just as the circuits of the future butterfly are already built into the caterpillar.

VII. The Neurogenetic System

The seventh brain kicks into action when the nervous system begins to receive signals from within the individual neuron, from the DNA-RNA dialogue. The first to achieve this mutation spoke of “memories of past lives,” “reincarnation,” “immortality,” etc. That these adepts were recording something real is indicated by the fact that many of them (especially Hindu and Sufis) gave marvelously accurately poetic vistas of evolution 1,000 or 2,000 years before Darwin, and foresaw Superhumanity before Nietzsche.

The “akashic records” of Theosophy, the “collective unconscious” of Jung, the “phylogenetic unconscious” of Grof and Ring, are three modern metaphors for this circuit. The visions of past and future evolution described by those who have had “out-of-body” experiences during close-to-death episodes also describes the trans-time circuit VII tunnel-reality.

Specific exercises to trigger circuit VII are not to be found in yogic teaching; it usually happens, if at all, after several years of the kind of advanced rajah yoga that develops circuit VI facility.

The specific circuit VII neurotransmitter is, of course LSD. (Peyote and psilocybin produce some circuit VII experiences also.)

Circuit VII is best considered, in terms of 1977 science, as the genetic archives, activated by anti-histone proteins. The DNA memory coiling back to the dawn of life. A sense of the inevitability of immortality and interspecies symbiosis comes to all circuit VII mutants; we now see that this, also, is an evolutionary forecast, since we stand right now on the doorstep of extended longevity leading to immortality.

The exact role of the right-lobe circuits and the reason for their activation in the 1960s cultural revolution now becomes clear. As sociologist F.M. Esfandiary writes in Upwingers, “Today when we speak of immortality and of going to another world we no longer mean these in a theological or metaphysical sense. People are now traveling to other worlds. People are now striving for immortality. Transcendence is no longer a metaphysical concept. It has become reality.”

The evolutionary function of the seventh circuit and its evolutionary, aeon-spanning tunnel-reality is to prepare us for conscious immortality and interspecies symbiosis.

VIII. The Neuro-Atomic System

Hold on to your hats and breathe deeply–this is the farthest-out that human intelligence has yet ventured.

Consciousness probably precedes the biological unit or DNA tape-loop. “Out-of-body experiences,” “astral projection,” contact with alien (extraterrestrial?) “entities” or with a galactic Overmind, etc., such as I’ve experienced, have all been reported for thousands of years, not merely by the ignorant, the superstitious, the gullible, but often by the finest minds among us (Socrates, Giordano Bruno, Edison, Buckminster Fuller, etc.). Such experiences are reported daily to parapsychologists and have been experienced by such scientists as Dr. John Lilly and Carlos Castaneda. Dr. Kenneth Ring has attributed these phenomena to what he calls, very appropriately, “the extraterrestrial unconscious.”

Dr. Leary suggests that circuit VIII is literally neuro-atomic–infra, supra and meta-physiological–a quantum model of consciousness and/or a conscious model of quantum mechanics by the turned-on physicists discussed previously (Prof. John Archibald Wheeler, Saul-Paul Sirag, Dr. Fritjof Capra, Dr. Jack Sarfatti, etc.) indicates strongly that the “atomic consciousness” first suggested by Leary in “The Seven Tongues of God” (1962) is the explanatory link which will unite parapsychology and paraphysics into the first scientific empirical experimental theology in history.

When the nervous system is turned on to this quantum-level circuit, space-time is obliterated. Einstein’s speed-of-light barrier is transcended; in Dr. Sarfatti’s metaphor, we escape “electromagnetic chauvinism.” The contelligence within the quantum projection booth IS the entire cosmic “brain,” just as the micro-miniaturized DNA helix IS the local brain guiding planetary evolution. As Lao-tse said from his own Circuit VIII perspective, “The greatest is within the smallest.”

Circuit VIII is triggered by Ketamine, a neuro-chemical researched by Dr. John Lilly, which is also (according to a wide-spread but unconfirmed rumor) given to astronauts to prepare them for space. High doses of LSD also produce some circuit VIII quantum awareness.

This neuro-atomic contelligence is four mutations beyond terrestrial domesticity. (The current ideological struggle is between circuit IV tribal moralists-or-collectivists and circuit V hedonic individualists.) When our need for higher intelligence, richer involvement in the cosmic script, further transcendence, will no longer be satisfied by physical bodies, not even by immortal bodies hopping across space-time at Warp 9, circuit VIII will open a further frontier. New universes and realities. “Beyond theology: the science and art of Godmanship,” as Alan Watts once wrote.

It is therefore possible that the mysterious “entities” (angels and extraterrestrials) monotonously reported by circuit VIII visionaries are members or races already evolved to this level. But it is also possible, as Leary and Sarfatti more recently suggest, that They are ourselves-in-the-future.

The left-lobe terrestrial circuits contain the learned lessons of our evolutionary past (and present). The right-lobe extraterrestrial circuits are the evolutionary script for out future.

Thus far, there have been two alternative explanations of why the Drug Revolution happened. The first is presented in a sophisticated way by anthropologist Weston LaBarre, and in an ignorant, moralistic way by most anti-drug propaganda in the schools and mass media. This explanation says, in essence, that millions have turned away from the legal down drugs to illegal high drugs because we are living in troubled times and many are seeking escape into fantasy.

This theory, at its best, only partially explains the ugliest and most publicized aspect of the revolution–the reckless drug abuse characteristic of the immature. It says nothing about the millions of respectable doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc., who have turned away from second circuit intoxication with booze to fifth circuit rapture with weed.

Nor does it account at all for the thoughtful, philosophical sixth circuit investigations of persons of high intelligence and deep sensibility, such as Aldous Huxley, Dr. Stanley Grof, Masters-Houston, Alan W. Watts, Carlos Castaneda, Dr. John Lilly and thousands of scientific and lay researchers on consciousness.

A more plausible theory, devised by psychiatrist Norman Zinberg out of the work of Marshall McLuhan, holds that modern electronic media have so shifted the nervous system’s parameters that young people no longer enjoy “linear” drugs like alcohol and find meaning only in “non-linear” weed and psychedelics.

This is certainly part of the truth, but it is too narrow and overstresses TV and computers without sufficiently stressing the general technological picture–the ongoing Science-Fiction Revolution of which the most significant aspects are Space Migration, Increased Intelligence and Life Extension, which Leary has condensed into his SMI²LE formula.

Space Migration plus Increased Intelligence plus Life Extension means expansion of humanity into all space-time. SM + I² + LE = infinity.

Without totally endorsing Charles Fort’s technological mysticism (“It steam-engines when it comes steam-engine time”), it is obvious that the DNA metaprogram for planetary evolution is far wiser than any of our individual nervous systems–which are, in a sense, giant robots or sensors for DNA. Early science-fiction of brilliant writers like Stapledon, Clarke, Heinlein; Kubrick’s 2001–all were increasingly clear DNA signals transmitted through the intuitive right lobe of sensitive artists, preparing us for the extraterrestrial mutation.

It is scarcely coincidental that mainstream “literary” intellectuals–the heir of the Platonic-aristocratic tradition that a gentleman never uses his hands, monkeys with tools or learns a manual craft–despise both science-fiction and the dope culture. Nor is it coincidental that the Whole Earth Catalogs – created by Stewart Brand, a graduate of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters–are the New Testament of the rural drop-out culture, each issue bulging with tons of eco-technological information about all the manual, dextrous, gadgety know-how that Plato and his heirs consider fit only for slaves. Not surprisingly, Brand’s latest publication, Co-Evolution Quarterly, has been devoted to publicizing Prof. Gerard O’Neill’s space-habitat, L5.

Nor is it an accident that dopers seem to prefer science-fiction to any other reading, even including the extraterrestrial-flavored Hindu scriptures and occult-shamanic circuit VI-VIII trip-poets like Crowley and Hesse.

The circuit VI drugs may have contributed much to the metaprogramming consciousness that has led to sudden awareness of “male chauvinism” (women’s liberationists), “species chauvinism” (ecology, Lilly’s dolphin studies), “type-G star chauvinism” (Carl Sagan), even “oxygen chauvinism” (the CETI conference), etc. The imprinted tunnel-realities which identify one as “white-male-American-earthian” etc. or “black-female-Cuban” etc. are no longer big enough to enclose our exploding contelligence.

As Time magazine said on November 26, 1973, “Within ten years, according to pharmacologists, they will have perfected pills and cranial electrodes of providing life-long bliss for everyone on Earth.” The 1960s hysteria about weed and acid was just the overture to this fifth circuit break-through. Nathan S. Kline, M.D., predicts real aphrodisiacs, drugs to speed up learning, drugs to foster or terminate any behavior. … Those who were jailed or beaten by cops in the 1960s were forerunners of the Revolution of Inner Technology.

Star Trek is a better guide to the emerging reality than anything in the New York Review of Books. The life-support and defense-system engineer, Scotty (circuit I), the emotional-sentimental Dr. McCoy (circuit II), the logical science officer Mr. Spock (circuit III) and the alternately paternalistic and romantic Captain Kirk (circuit IV) are perpetually voyaging through our future neurological history and encountering circuit V, VI, VII, and VIII intelligences, however crudely presented.

In short, the various levels of consciousness and circuits we have been discussing, and illustrating, are all biochemical imprints in the evolution of the nervous system. Each imprint creates a bigger tunnel-reality. In the Sufi metaphor, the donkey on the which we ride becomes a different donkey after each imprint. The metaprogrammer continually learns more and is increasingly able to be aware of itself operating. We are thus evolving to intelligence-studying-intelligence (the nervous system studying the nervous system) and are more and more capable of accelerating our own evolution.

Copyright: Robert Anton Wilson

The eight circuits explicated by Leary are:

1. The Bio-survival Circuit is concerned with the earliest modes of survival and the basic separation of objects into either harmful or safe. This circuit is said to have first appeared in the earliest evolution of the invertebrate brain. It is the first to be activated in an infant’s mind. Leary says this circuit is stimulated by opioid drugs. This circuit introduces a one-dimensional perception: forward and backward (i.e., forward towards food, nourishment and that which is trusted as safe, and backwards — away from danger and predators; Also called the “Oral Bio-Survival Circuit” by Robert Anton Wilson in reference to the oral stage of human development from Freudian Psychology).

2. The Emotional Circuit is concerned with raw emotion and the separation of behavior into submissive and dominant. This circuit appeared first in vertebrate animals. In humans, it is activated when the child learns to walk. Leary associates this circuit with alcohol. This circuit introduces a second dimension, up-down, linked with territorial politics and tribal power games (up, as in swelling ones body in size to represent dominance, and down, as in the cowering, tail-between-the-legs submissive stance; called by Robert Anton Wilson the “Anal Emotional Territorial Circuit” in reference to the anal stage of human development from Freudian Psychology).

3. The Symbolic Circuit is concerned with logic and symbolic thought. Leary said this circuit first appeared when hominids started differentiating from the rest of the primates. Leary believed this circuit is stimulated by caffeine, cocaine, and other stimulants. This circuit introduces the third dimension, left and right, related to the development of dexterous movement and handling “artifacts”. (Also called by Leary The Dexterity-Symbolism Circuit; called by Robert Anton Wilson the Semantic Circuit.)

4. The Domestic Circuit. This circuit is concerned with operating within social networks and the transmission of culture across time. This circuit is said to have first appeared with the development of tribes. This fourth circuit deals with moral-social/sexual tribal rules passed through generations and is the introduction to the fourth dimension — time. (Also called by Leary and Wilson the Socio-Sexual Circuit). Leary never associated a drug with this circuit, though some have hypothesized that Oxytocin (released during and after childbirth) or MDMA might activate this circuit. Additionally, endorphins and other psychoactive substances produced by the body itself during social interaction can be connected to this circuit. The lack of knowledge about the cause and mechanism of these chemicals, as well as lack of a method to stimulating their production, would explain their non-mention in his works.

5. The Neurosomatic Circuit is the first of the right-brain, “higher” circuits which are usually inactive in most humans. It allows one to see things in multi-dimensional space instead of the 4 dimensions of Euclidean space-time, and is there to aid in the future exploration of outer space. It is said to have first appeared with the development of leisure-class civilizations around 2000 BC. It is associated with hedonism and eroticism. Leary says this circuit is stimulated by cannabis and tantric yoga, or simply by experiencing the sensation of free fall at the right time.

6. The Neuroelectric Circuit is concerned with the mind becoming aware of itself independent of the patterns imprinted by the previous five circuits. It is also called “metaprogramming” or “consciousness of abstracting”. Leary says this circuit enables telepathic communication, and that this circuit is impossible to explain to those who have only left-brain activity and is difficult to explain to those with active fifth circuits. It is said to have appeared in 500 BC, in connection with the Silk Road. Leary associates this circuit with peyote and psilocybin. (Robert Anton Wilson called this circuit The Metaprogramming Circuit, and places it 7th in the hierarchy.)

7. The Neurogenetic Circuit allows access to the genetic memory contained in DNA. It is connected to memories of past lives, the Akashic Records, and the collective unconscious, and allows for essential immortality in humans. This circuit first appeared among Hindu groups in the early first millennium and later reappeared in Sufi sects at the end of the first millennium (ca. 9th century). This circuit is stimulated by LSD, and Raja Yoga. (Robert Anton Wilson called this circuit The Morphogenetic Circuit.)

8. The Psycho-atomic Circuit allows access to the intergalactic consciousness that predates life in the universe (characterized as the Godhead, the Overmind or aliens), and lets humans operate outside of space-time and the constraints of relativity. It tunes the brain into the non-local quantum communication system suggested by physicists such as Bohm, Walker, Sarfatti, Bell, etc. Israel Regardie compared this to the Buddhist concept of Indra’s Net. This circuit is associated with Ketamine and DMT by Leary. While Wilson agreed Ketamine was associated with this circuit, he also believed very strong doses of LSD could unlock it. (Called also by Leary The Neuro-Atomic Circuit or The Metaphysiological Circuit, Robert Anton Wilson called this circuit The Non-Local Quantum Circuit.)

Leary claims that this model explained, among other things, the social conflict in the 1960s, where the mainstream, said to be those with circuit 4 active and characterized as tribal moralists by Leary, clashed with the counter-culturists, said to be those with circuit 5 active and characterized as individualists and hedonists.

Leary’s book on the subject was called Exo-Psychology, and has been republished with additional material in recent years under the title Info-Psychology.

(New Falcon Publishing)

The I-Ching an introduction.

The Book of Changes — I Ching in Chinese — is unquestionably one of the most important books in the world’s literature. Its origin goes back to mythical antiquity, and it has occupied the attention of the most eminent scholars of China down to the present day. Nearly all that is greatest and most significant in the three thousand years of Chinese cultural history has either taken its inspiration from this book, or has exerted an influence on the interpretation of its text. Therefore it may safely be said that the seasoned wisdom of thousands of years has gone into the making of the I Ching. Small wonder then that both of the two branches of Chinese philosophy, Confucianism and Taoism, have their common roots here. The book sheds new light on many a secret hidden in the often puzzling modes of thought of that mysterious sage, Lao-tse, and of his pupils, as well as on many ideas that appear in the Confucian tradition as axioms, accepted without further examination.

Indeed, not only the philosophy of China but its science and statecraft as well have never ceased to draw from the spring of wisdom in the I Ching, and it is not surprising that this alone, among all the Confucian classics, escaped the great burning of the books under Ch’in Shih Huang Ti.[1] Even the common-places of everyday life in China are saturated with its influence. In going through the streets of a Chinese city, one will find, here and there at a street corner, a fortune teller sitting behind a neatly covered table, brush and tablet at hand, ready to draw from the ancient book of wisdom pertinent counsel and information on life’s minor perplexities. Not only that, but the very signboards adorning the houses –perpendicular wooden panels done in gold on black lacquer — are covered with inscriptions whose flowery language again and again recalls thoughts and quotations from the I Ching. Even the policy makers of so modern a state as Japan, distinguished for their astuteness, do not scorn to refer to it for counsel in difficult situations.

In the course of time, owing to the great repute for wisdom attaching to the Book of Changes, a large body of occult doctrines extraneous to it — some of them possibly not even Chinese in origin — have come to be connected with its teachings. The Ch’in and Han dynasties[2] saw the beginning of a formalistic natural philosophy that sought to embrace the entire world of thought in a system of number symbols. Combining a rigorously consistent, dualistic yin-yang doctrine with the doctrine of the “five stages of change” taken from the Book of History,[3] it forced Chinese philosophical thinking more and more into a rigid formalization. Thus increasingly hairsplitting cabalistic speculations came to envelop the Book of Changes in a cloud of mystery, and by forcing everything of the past and of the future into this system of numbers, created for the I Ching the reputation of being a book of unfathomable profundity. These speculations are also to blame for the fact that the seeds of a free Chinese natural science, which undoubtedly existed at the time of Mo Ti[4] and his pupils, were killed, and replaced by a sterile tradition of writing and reading books that was wholly removed from experience. This is the reason why China has for so long presented to Western eyes a picture of hopeless stagnation.

Yet we must not overlook the fact that apart from this mechanistic number mysticism, a living stream of deep human wisdom was constantly flowing through the channel of this book into everyday life, giving to China’s great civilization that ripeness of wisdom, distilled through the ages, which we wistfully admire in the remnants of this last truly autochthonous culture.

What is the Book of Changes actually? In order to arrive at an understanding of the book and its teachings, we must first of all boldly strip away the dense overgrowth of interpretations that have read into it all sorts of extraneous ideas. This is equally necessary whether we are dealing with the superstitions and mysteries of old Chinese sorcerers or the no less superstitious theories of modern European scholars who try to interpret all historical cultures in terms of their experience of primitive savages.[5] We must hold here to the fundamental principle that the Book of Changes is to be explained in the light of its own content and of the era to which it belongs. With this the darkness lightens perceptibly and we realize that this book, though a very profound work, does not offer greater difficulties to our understanding than any other book that has come down through a long history from antiquity to our time.


The Book of Oracles
At the outset, the Book of Changes was a collection of linear signs to be used as oracles.[6] In antiquity, oracles were everywhere in use; the oldest among them confined themselves to the answers yes and no. This type of oracular pronouncement is likewise the basis of the Book of Changes. “Yes” was indicated by a simple unbroken line (___), and “No” by a broken line (_ _). However, the need for greater differentiation seems to have been felt at an early date, and the single lines were combined in pairs:

To each of these combinations a third line was then added. In this way the eight trigrams[7] came into being. These eight trigrams were conceived as images of all that happens in heaven and on earth. At the same time, they were held to he in a state of continual transition, one changing into another, just as transition from one phenomenon to another is continually taking place in the physical world. Here we have the fundamental concept of the Book of Changes. The eight trigrams are symbols standing for changing transitional states; they are images that are constantly undergoing change. Attention centers not on things in their state of being — as is chiefly the case in the Occident — but upon their movements in change. The eight trigrams therefore are not representations of things as such but of their tendencies in movement.

These eight images came to have manifold meanings. They represented certain processes in nature corresponding with their inherent character. Further, they represented a family consisting of father, mother, three sons, and three daughters, not in the mythological sense in which the Greek gods peopled Olympus, but in what might be called an abstract sense, that is, they represented not objective entities but functions.

A brief survey of these eight symbols that form the basis of the Book of Changes yields the following classification:

Symbol Name Attribute Image Family

the Creative strong heaven father

the Receptive devoted,
earth mother

the Arousing inciting,
thunder first son

the Abysmal dangerous water second son

Keeping Still resting mountain third son

the Gentle penetrating wind,
first daughter

the Clinging light-giving fire second daughter

the Joyous joyful lake third daughter

The sons represent the principle of movement in its various stages — beginning of movement, danger in movement, rest and completion of movement. The daughters represent devotion in its various stages — gentle penetration, clarity and adaptability, and joyous tranquility.

In order to achieve a still greater multiplicity, these eight images were combined with one another at a very early date, whereby a total of sixty-four signs was obtained. Each of these sixty-four signs consists of six lines, either positive or negative. Each line is thought of as capable of change, and whenever a line changes, there is a change also of the situation represented by the given hexagram. Let us take for example the hexagram K’un, THE RECEPTIVE, earth:

It represents the nature of the earth, strong in devotion; among the seasons it stands for late autumn, when all the forces of life are at rest. If the lowest line changes, we have the hexagram Fu, RETURN:

The latter represents thunder, the movement that stirs anew within the earth at the time of the solstice; it symbolizes the return of light.

As this example shows, all of the lines of a hexagram do not necessarily change; it depends entirely on the character of a given line. A line whose nature is positive, with an increasing dynamism, turns into its opposite, a negative line, whereas a positive line of lesser strength remains unchanged. The same principle holds for the negative lines.

More definite information about those lines which are to be considered so strongly charged with positive or negative energy that they move, is given in book II[*] in the Great Commentary (pt. I, chap. IX), and in the special section on the use of the oracle at the end of book III[*]. Suffice it to say here that positive lines that move are designated by the number 9, and negative lines that move by the number 6, while non-moving lines, which serve only as structural matter in the hexagram, without intrinsic meaning of their own, are represented by the number 7 (positive) or the number 8 (negative). Thus, when the text reads, “Nine at the beginning means…” this is the equivalent of saying: “When the positive line in the first place is represented by the number 9, it has the following meaning…” If, on the other hand, the line is represented by the number 7, it is disregarded in interpreting the oracle. The same principle holds for lines represented by the numbers 6 and 8[8] respectively.

We may obtain the hexagram named in the example above — K’un, THE RECEPTIVE — in the following form:

8 at the top
8 in the fifth place
8 in the fourth place
8 in the third place
8 in the second place
6 at the beginning

Hence the five upper lines are not taken into account; only the 6 at the beginning has an independent meaning, and by its transformation into its opposite, the situation K’un, THE RECEPTIVE,

becomes the situation Fu, RETURN:

In this way we have a series of situations symbolically expressed by lines, and through the movement of these lines the situations can change one into another. On the other hand, such change does not necessarily occur, for when a hexagram is made up of lines represented by the numbers 7 and 8 only, there is no movement within it, and only its aspect as a whole is taken into consideration.

In this way we have a series of situations symbolically expressed by lines, and through the movement of these lines the situations can change one into another. On the other hand, such change does not necessarily occur, for when a hexagram is made up of lines represented by the numbers 7 and 8 only, there is no movement within it, and only its aspect as a whole is taken into consideration.

In addition to the law of change and to the images of the states of change as given in the sixty-four hexagrams, another factor to be considered is the course of action. Each situation demands the action proper to it. In every situation, there is a right and a wrong course of action. Obviously, the right course brings good fortune and the wrong course brings misfortune. Which, then, is the right course in any given case? This question was the decisive factor. As a result, the I Ching was lifted above the level of an ordinary book of soothsaying. If a fortune teller on reading the cards tells her client that she will receive a letter with money from America in a week, there is nothing for the woman to do but wait until the letter comes — or does not come. In this case what is foretold is fate, quite independent of what the individual may do or not do. For this reason fortune telling lacks moral significance. When it happened for the first time in China that someone, on being told the auguries for the future, did not let the matter rest there hut asked, “What am I to do?” the book of divination had to become a book of wisdom.

It was reserved for King Wên, who lived about 1150 B.C., and his son, the Duke of Chou, to bring about this change. They endowed the hitherto mute hexagrams and lines, from which the future had to he divined as an individual matter in each case, with definite counsels for correct conduct. Thus the individual came to share in shaping fate. For his actions intervened as determining factors in world events, the more decisively so, the earlier he was able with the aid of the Book of Changes to recognize situations in their germinal phases. The germinal phase is the crux. As long as things are in their beginnings they can be controlled, but once they have grown to their full consequences they acquire a power so overwhelming that man stands impotent before them. Thus the Book of Changes became a book of divination of a very special kind. The hexagrams and lines in their movements and changes mysteriously reproduced the movements and changes of the macrocosm. By the use of yarrow stalks,[9] one could attain a point of vantage from which it was possible to survey the condition of things. Given this perspective, the words of the oracle would indicate what should be done to meet the need of the time.

The only thing about all this that seems strange to our modern sense is the method of learning the nature of a situation through the manipulation of yarrow stalks. This procedure was regarded as mysterious, however, simply in the sense that the manipulation of the yarrow stalks makes it possible for the unconscious in man to become active. All individuals are not equally fitted to consult the oracle. It requires a clear and tranquil mind, receptive to the cosmic influences hidden in the humble divining stalks. As products of the vegetable kingdom, these were considered to be related to the sources of life. The stalks were derived from sacred plants.

The Book of Wisdom
Of far greater significance than the use of the Book of Changes as an oracle is its other use, namely, as a book of wisdom. Laotse[10] knew this book, and some of his profoundest aphorisms were inspired by it. Indeed, his whole thought is permeated with its teachings. Confucius[11] too knew the Book of Changes and devoted himself to reflection upon it. He probably wrote down some of his interpretative comments and imparted others to his pupils in oral teaching. The Book of Changes as edited and annotated by Confucius is the version that has come down to our time.

If we inquire as to the philosophy that pervades the book, we can confine ourselves to a few basically important concepts. The underlying idea of the whole is the idea of change. It is related in the Analects[12] that Confucius, standing by a river, said: “Everything flows on and on like this river, without pause, day and night.” This expresses the idea of change. He who has perceived the meaning of change fixes his attention no longer on transitory individual things but on the immutable, eternal law at work in all change. This law is the tao[13] of Lao-tse, the course of things, the principle of the one in the many. That it may become manifest, a decision, a postulate, is necessary. This fundamental postulate is the “great primal beginning” of all that exists, t’ai chi — in its original meaning, the “ridgepole.” Later Chinese philosophers devoted much thought to this idea of a primal beginning. A still earlier beginning, wu chi, was represented by the symbol of a circle. Under this conception, t’ai chi was represented by the circle divided into the light and the dark, yang and yin, . [14]

This symbol has also played a significant part in India and Europe. However, speculations of a gnostic-dualistic character are foreign to the original thought of the I Ching; what it posits is simply the ridgepole, the line. With this line, which in itself represents oneness, duality comes into the world, for the line at the same time posits an above and a below, a right and left, front and back-in a word, the world of the opposites.

These opposites became known under the names yin and yang and created a great stir, especially in the transition period between the Ch’in and Han dynasties, in the centuries just before our era, when there was an entire school of yin-yang doctrine. At that time, the Book of Changes was much in use as a book of magic, and people read into the text all sorts of things not originally there. This doctrine of yin and yang, of the female and the male as primal principles, has naturally also attracted much attention among foreign students of Chinese thought. Following the usual bent, some of these have predicated in it a primitive phallic symbolism, with all the accompanying connotations.

To the disappointment of such discoverers it must be said that there is nothing to indicate this in the original meaning of the words yin and yang. In its primary meaning yin is “the cloudy,” “the overcast,” and yang means actually “banners waving in the sun,”[15] that is, something “shone upon,” or bright. By transference the two concepts were applied to the light and dark sides of a mountain or of a river. In the case of a mountain the southern is the bright side and the northern the dark side, while in the case of a river seen from above, it is the northern side that is bright (yang), because it reflects the light, and the southern side that is in shadow (yin). Thence the two expressions were carried over into the Book of Changes and applied to the two alternating primal states of being. It should be pointed out, however, that the terms yin and yang do not occur in this derived sense either in the actual text of the book or in the oldest commentaries. Their first occurrence is in the Great Commentary, which already shows Taoistic influence in some parts. In the Commentary on the Decision the terms used for the opposites are “the firm” and “the yielding,” not yang and yin.

However, no matter what names are applied to these forces, it is certain that the world of being arises out of their change and interplay. Thus change is conceived of partly as the continuous transformation of the one force into the other and partly as a cycle of complexes of phenomena, in themselves connected, such as day and night, summer and winter. Change is not meaningless — if it were, there could be no knowledge of it — but subject to the universal law, tao.

The second theme fundamental to the Book of Changes is its theory of ideas. The eight trigrams are images not so much of objects as of states of change. This view is associated with the concept expressed in the teachings of Lao-tse, as also in those of Confucius, that every event in the visible world is the effect of an “image,” that is, of an idea in the unseen world. Accordingly, everything that happens on earth is only a reproduction, as it were, of an event in a world beyond our sense perception, as regards its occurrence in time, it is later than the suprasensible event. The holy men and sages, who are in contact with those higher spheres, have access to these ideas through direct intuition and are therefore able to intervene decisively in events in the world. Thus man is linked with heaven, the suprasensible world of ideas, and with earth, the material world of visible things, to form with these a trinity of the primal powers.

This theory of ideas is applied in a twofold sense. The Book of Changes shows the images of events and also the unfolding of conditions in statu nascendi. Thus, in discerning with its help the seeds of things to come, we learn to foresee the future as well as to understand the past. In this way the images on which the hexagrams are based serve as patterns for timely action in the situations indicated. Not only is adaptation to the course of nature thus made possible, but in the Great Commentary (pt. II, chap. II), an interesting attempt is made to trace back the origin of all the practices and inventions of civilization to such ideas and archetypal images. Whether or not the hypothesis can be made to apply in all specific instances, the basic concept contains a truth.[16]

The third element fundamental to the Book of Changes are the judgments. The judgments clothe the images in words, as it were; they indicate whether a given action will bring good fortune or misfortune, remorse or humiliation. The judgments make it possible for a man to make a decision to desist from a course of action indicated by the situation of the moment but harmful in the long run. In this way he makes himself independent of the tyranny of events. In its judgments, and in the interpretations attached to it from the time of Confucius on the Book of Changes opens to the reader the richest treasure of Chinese wisdom; at the same time it affords him a comprehensive view of the varieties of human experience, enabling him thereby to shape his life of his own sovereign will into an organic whole and so to direct it that it comes into accord with the ultimate tao lying at the root of all that exists.

In Chinese literature four holy men are cited as the authors of the Book of Changes, namely, Fu Hsi, King Wên, the Duke of Chou, and Confucius. Fu Hsi is a legendary figure representing the era of hunting and fishing and of the invention of cooking. The fact that he is designated as the inventor of the linear signs of the Book of Changes means that they have been held to be of such antiquity that they antedate historical memory. Moreover, the eight trigrams have names that do not occur in any other connection in the Chinese language, and because of this they have even been thought to be of foreign origin. At all events, they are not archaic characters, as some have been led to believe by the half accidental, half intentional resemblances to them appearing here and there among ancient characters.[17]

The eight trigrams are found occurring in various combinations at a very early date. Two collections belonging to antiquity are mentioned: first, the Book of Changes of the Hsia dynasty,[18] is called Lien Shan, which is said to have begun with the hexagram Kên, KEEPING STILL, mountain; second, the Book of Changes dating from the Shang dynasty,[19] is entitled Kuei Ts’ang, which began with the hexagram K’un, THE RECEPTIVE. The latter circumstance is mentioned in passing by Confucius himself as a historical fact. It is difficult to say whether the names of the sixty-four hexagrams were then in existence, and if so, whether they were the same as those in the present Book of Changes.

According to general tradition, which we have no reason to challenge, the present collection of sixty-four hexagrams originated with King Wên,[20] progenitor of the Chou dynasty. He is said to have added brief judgments to the hexagrams during his imprisonment at the hands of the tyrant Chou Hsin. The text pertaining to the individual lines originated with his son, the Duke of Chou. This form of the book, entitled the Changes of Chou (Chou I), was in use as an oracle throughout the Chou period, as can be proven from a number of the ancient historical records.

This was the status of the book at the time Confucius came upon it. In his old age he gave it intensive study, and it is highly probable that the Commentary on the Decision (T’uan Chuan) is his work. The Commentary on the Images also goes back to him, though less directly. A third treatise, a very valuable and detailed commentary on the individual lines, compiled by his pupils or by their successors, in the form of questions and answers, survives only in fragments.[21]

Among the followers of Confucius, it would appear, it was principally Pu Shang (Tzú Hsia) who spread the knowledge of the Book of Changes. With the development of philosophical speculation, as reflected in the Great Learning (Ta Hsüeh) and the Doctrine of the Mean (Chung Yung),[22] this type of philosophy exercised an ever increasing influence upon the interpretation of the Book of Changes. A literature grew up around the book, fragments of which — some dating from an early and some from a later time — are to be found in the so-called Ten Wings. They differ greatly with respect to content and intrinsic value.

The Book of Changes escaped the fate of the other classics at the time of the famous burning of the books under the tyrant Ch’in Shih Huang Ti. Hence, if there is anything in the legend that the burning alone is responsible for the mutilation of the texts of the old books, the I Ching at least should be intact; but this is not the case. In reality it is the vicissitudes of the centuries, the collapse of ancient cultures, and the change in the system of writing that are to be blamed for the damage suffered by all ancient works.

The Book of Changes escaped the fate of the other classics at the time of the famous burning of the books under the tyrant Ch’in Shih Huang Ti. Hence, if there is anything in the legend that the burning alone is responsible for the mutilation of the texts of the old books, the I Ching at least should be intact; but this is not the case. In reality it is the vicissitudes of the centuries, the collapse of ancient cultures, and the change in the system of writing that are to be blamed for the damage suffered by all ancient works.

After the Book of Changes had become firmly established as a book of divination and magic in the time of Ch’in Shih Huang Ti, the entire school of magicians (fang shih) of the Ch’in and Han dynasties made it their prey. And the yin-yang doctrine, which was probably introduced through the work of Tsou Yen,[23] and later promoted by Tung Chung Shu, Liu Hsin, and Liu Hsiang,[24] ran riot in connection with the interpretation of the I Ching.

The task of clearing away all this rubbish was reserved for a great and wise scholar, Wang Pi,[25] who wrote about the meaning of the Book of Changes as a book of wisdom, not as a book of divination. He soon found emulation, and the teachings of the yin-yang school of magic were displaced, in relation to the book, by a philosophy of statecraft that was gradually developing. In the Sung[26] period, the I Ching was used as a basis for the t’ai chi t’u doctrine — which was probably not of Chinese origin — until the appearance of the elder Ch’êng Tzú’s[27] very good commentary. It had become customary to separate the old commentaries contained in the Ten Wings and to place them with the individual hexagrams to which they refer. Thus the book became by degrees entirely a textbook relating to statecraft and the philosophy of life. Then Chu Hsi[28] attempted to rehabilitate it as a book of oracles; in addition to a short and precise commentary on the I Ching, he published an introduction to his investigations concerning the art of divination.

The critical-historical school of the last dynasty also took the Book of Changes in hand. However, because of their opposition to the Sung scholars and their preference for the Han commentators, who were nearer in point of time to the compilation of the Book of Changes, they were less successful here than in their treatment of the other classics. For the Han commentators were in the last analysis sorcerers, or were influenced by theories of magic. A very good edition was arranged in the K’ang Hsi[29] period, under the title Chou I Chê Chung; it presents the text and the wings separately and includes the best commentaries of all periods. This is the edition on which the present translation is based.

Day 74 – The individuation process.

The individuation process is a term created by the famous psychologist Carl Gustav Jung to describe the process of becoming aware of oneself, of one’s make-up, and the way to discover one’s true, inner self.

Individuation means that one becomes a person, an individual, a totally integrated personality. It is a process of self realization during which one integrates those contents of the psyche that have the ability to become conscious. It is a search for totality. It is an experience that could be formulated as the discovery of the divine in yourself, or the discovery of the totality of your Self. This does not always happen without pain, but it is necessary to accept many things that normally we would shy away from. Once a person has accepted the contents of his unconsciousness and has reached the goal of the individuation process, he is conscious of his relationships with everything that lives, with the entire cosmos.

Individuation is a natural, inherent process in man. It cannot be stimulated by something external, but it grows from the inside. Just as the body can become deformed or sick by lack of nutrition or movement, the personality can be deformed by lack of experience or education. Jung stresses that our modern world does not give enough opportunity to experience the archetype of the Shadow. When a child expresses his animal instincts, generally it is punished by its parents. Punishment does not lead to the extinction of the Shadow (repressed tendencies, more about this later on), which is impossible, but it leads to the suppression of this archetype. The Shadow retreats to an unconscious state, primitive and undifferentiated. Then, when the Shadow breaks through the repressive barrier, and this does happen once in a while, it manifests itself in a sinister, pathological way.

“There is in the unconscious of each man an inherent image of woman who helps him to understand her being.”

The anima is the personification of all female psychological tendencies in the psyche of a man, including feelings, moods, intuition, receptivity for the irrational, the ability for personal love, a feel for nature, and the man’s  attitude toward the unconscious.

This image becomes conscious by real contacts with women, especially the first woman he encounters in his life. Normally this first woman is his mother, who is the most powerful in shaping him. There are men who have never been able to free themselves from her fascinating power. A man’s  experience of his mother is of course subjective. How  she behaves is less important than his experience of how she behaves. The image he builds is not an exact representation of how she really is, but it is colored and shaped by his inherent ability to produce an image of her, that is, his anima.

If man has the feeling that his mother has had a negative influence on him, then the anima will often  be expressed with irritating, depressive moods, insecurity, a feeling of being unsafe, and touchiness. This negative anima can be expressed in nasty, effeminate remarks, with which he demolishes everything possible. Another anima trick is pseudo-intellectual dialogs which prevents a man from feeling life closely and coming to real decisions. He thinks so much about life that he cannot live, and he losses all spontaneity and the flow of life.

Without a healthy anima, a man becomes effeminate, or becomes the prey of women, and he is not capable of handling the difficulties of life. Such men can be very sentimental or touchy.

When he is grown up his image of the anima is projected onto the women that attract him. It is then that a lot of misunderstandings arise, as most men are not aware that their projection does not correspond with who the woman is in reality. This is the cause of a lot of strange love affairs and divorces. Unfortunately, this projection does not happen in a rational way. It is not that a man is actively projecting, but that the projection happens to him automatically.

Because the anima is an archetype, she has characteristics that continue to appear throughout the ages. She has a quality of eternity. Often she looks young, although she has the feeling that she already has years of experience. She is wise but not overpowering. She often has the feeling of being special, or having a secret knowledge. She is often connected to the earth or water and can have great power. She has both a light and a dark aspect. She can be the pure, good, noble figure, almost a goddess, but she can also be a prostitute, a seductress or a witch. Especially in children’s dreams these opposite aspects are pronounced.

The dark aspect will most likely appear when a man has suppressed or underestimated his female nature, treating women with contempt or carelessness.

He anima can also appear in the form a fey or an elf and lure men away from their work or home, like the sirens in ancient times. In mythology and literature she continues to appear as a goddess and ‘femme fatale’.

In the life of men the anima expresses herself not only in the projection to women, but also in his creative activities, in his fantasies, his moods, premonitions, and emotional explosions. An old Chinese text says that when a man wakes up in the morning with a heavy or bad mood, it is his soul, or anima, that is responsible for this. She disturbs his concentration by whispering absurd ideas and spoils his day by supplying him with a vague feeling that something is not all right, or she wanders through his dreams with seductive visions.

Positive and negative as just two sides of a coin. In essence the anima is a guide to the psychological development of a man. Each time when man’s logical mind is not able to recognize or understand unconscious contents, his anima will help him to dig them out. His anima helps him to tune himself to the correct inner values and thereby helping him to open the door to his inner world. Thus the anima takes the role of guide and mediator in his inner world. Then man has to take serious those feelings, moods, expectations and fantasies sent by his anima, and fix them in one form or another, like writing, painting, sculpting. When he is working on this with patience then his unconscious contents will well up and connect with earlier material. Whatever results from it has to be examined both intellectually as well as with his feelings. It is important to consider it is not  just ‘fantasy’,  but that is very real.

The animus in women is the counterpart of the anima in men. Like the anima, the animus has three roots: the collective image of a man that a woman acquires, her own experiences with men in her life, and the latent male principle in herself.

The animus also has good and bad aspects. In contrast with the anima in men which appears most often in the form of erotic fantasies or moods, the animus has a stronger tendency to appear in the form of ‘sacred’ convictions. This male part in women is apparent when she lectures with a loud, obtrusive, male voice, or by unreasonable, emotional scenes. Even in a woman who at the outside is very feminine, the anima can be a hard, unforgiving power. That woman can suddenly become stubborn, cold and completely inaccessible.

Typical for such  women is the endless repetition of thoughts like: “The only thing in the world I want is love, but he doesn’t love me.” Or “In this situation there are only two possibilities, and both are as bad”. The animus never believes in exceptions. In general one cannot contradict an animus, because usually it is right, but at the same time it doesn’t quite fit the individual situation. It is mostly only a reasoning, an opinion. It looks right, but is beside the point.

Just as the anima of a man is formed by his experience of his mother, so the animus of a woman is formed through hers of her father. The father gives her indisputable ‘true’ convictions that never include the personal reality of the daughter herself.

In his negative aspect, the animus is personified by a cocoon of dreamy thoughts, filled with desires and judgments of ‘how things must be’, excluding the reality of her own life. In his positive aspect, he can be very valuable aid in building a bridge to the Self by his creative ability.

The animus often appears (especially in dreams) as a group of men, this shows that the animus personifies a collective element rather than a personal element. Because of the collective aspect, women usually in reference to “they’ or ‘everybody’ include  ‘always’, should’ and ‘must’.

The animus is a kind of a collection of fathers and similar authorities, who pass an intellectualized, indisputable judgment. It is mostly formed from words and opinions picked up from childhood on and later brought together into a canon of half-truths, a treasure chest of preconceptions. They are justified by “It is always done like that” or “Everybody is saying that it like this”. This critical judgment can sometimes act against her self resulting in an inferiority complex limiting her self-initiative. In other situations she can turn against people in a completely destructive way. She will criticize her neighbors, demolish the reputation of strangers without any reasonable explanation, or she makes belittling remarks to her family members or people with whom she works with the opinion that “it is good for them”, or “I like to call things by their name”, or “I just do not want to spoil them”.

An intelligent and developed woman is just as susceptible to the negative aspects of the animus as less developed one. A less developed woman will quote a newspaper instead of the state or a university. If her opinion is being questioned she will become quarrelsome or dogmatic. This side of a woman craves for power. She can become aggressive, dominating and unreasonable.

Because of this aspect of the animus it is very difficult for a woman to think in a non-prejudiced way. She always has to be aware of that inner voice that constantly tells her “that it needs to be this way”, or “they should do it this way”.

The positive side of the animus is that when a woman needs the courage and the aggressively he will be there to support her. When a woman realizes that her opinions are based on generalities and authorities, then the animus can help her to look for knowledge and wisdom.

Extracted from: