A Critique Of Centering

A Critique Of Centering

We hear much about so-called centering prayer, centering meditation, the centering of the Self, etc. These kinds of discussions would also include mandalas, of which C.G. Jung was so fond of, a form of spiritual and ritual art that Jung borrowed from Hinduism and Buddhism, and appropriated for his psychological ideas. Here is his own description of their meaning for him:

My mandalas were cryptograms concerning the state of the self which was presented to me anew each day…I guarded them like precious pearls….It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the center. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the center, to individuation (Memories, Dreams and Reflections, p. 196).

Also, he did not believe the path to individuation was a linear one.

I began to understand that the goal of psychic development is the self. There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the self (ibid.)

The idea of a psychological center bothers me. I am a firm believer in the Hermetic Principle of Correspondence, as above, so below. We humans are many Microcosms, each one corresponding to the Macrocosm, the cosmos, and the more subtle worlds of Being. Just using the example of the cosmos and our own microcosm, what we learn about stars, planets, galaxies, moons, etc. corresponds to the particular Soul that we are. There are many Persons within us, just as there are many stars and planets in the heavens. I don’t see a center, but many centers, centers within centers, ad infinitum.

There is much agreement that our Universe is acentric. So, applying the Principle of Correspondence, we are also acentric. This is why Jung’s theory bothers me. If we are acentric, there is no single Self at the center of our Being, which we are moving toward.

I believe the centering idea stems from the Western overemphasis on monotheism, of which I have written about in The Death of Monotheism. There has been a notion in scholarly religious circles that monotheism is the end-product of thousands of years of religious evolution. In other words, polytheism would rank as a primitive form of thought. But is that really the case in Nature, since our Principle of Correspondence would apply to all avenues of human thinking? Jung himself demonstrated the multifariousness of the human psyche, giving individuality to all the archetypes.

Jung’s insistence on integration of the various personalities into a lone Self is very bothersome to me. All these archetypes have many things to contribute to us; we should not be waiting on their dissolution, when they are to be assimilated into a singular centricity. The wonders of Nature do not seem to be not moving toward a singularity, why should we? As above, so below.

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4 thoughts on “A Critique Of Centering

  1. “God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” – St. Augustine.

  2. magics explain everything. if you are able to manipulate others by manipulating the underlying feelings, it becomes obvious you can go everyware and manipulate everything. you can become everything and reach everything you want, its eternal and has no beginning and no end. The scientific complex cant experience it, monotheism is the denial of it, so they suppress it.

  3. Thanks for the post! How do you think development happens if not in a linear fashion?
    From my perspective, centering is useful, but it tends to build up a sense of separate self.
    There’s probably a need to combine that with other study/practice that undercuts the self.

  4. Hi, Jake.

    Thank you for reading the blog.

    I believe that development occurs cyclically. Jung referred to it as a “circumambulation of the Self.” I take issue with Jung that we are evolving toward a single Self; I prefer the idea that we are many Persons, simply because there are many archetypes within the soul. It seems that all things pertaining to the soul are cyclical in nature. Just as day turns to night and night turns to day, the soul is ever turning. I subscribe to the maxim, As above, so below. The soul is just as much a part of Nature as a blade of grass, or a butterfly. We can learn the nature of soul by observing Nature and its miraculous processes, and Nature is cyclical.

    Thanks again,


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