Left and Right United?

One of my favorite quotes from Jung’s Collected Works Vol. 16, from the essay “Psychology of the Transference” describes the longterm goal of achieving a working balance between the left and right, or between unconscious and conscious aspects of ourselves.  Once in a while we may achieve a balance that feels blissful, especially when it is new. But if we hold on too tightly to that bliss, we end up tipping one way or the other and disallowing meaning in any other experience, or in anyone else’s experience. Overall, the bliss of wholeness is “important only as an idea; the essential thing is the opus…” And the opus is an inner work, one that our world needs from each of us.

“Is there anything more fundamental than the realization, “This is what I am”? It reveals a unity which nevertheless is—or was—a diversity. No longer the earlier ego with its make-believes and artificial contrivances, but another, “objective” ego, which for this reason is better called the “self.” No longer a mere selection of suitable fictions, but a string of hard facts, which together make up the cross we all have to carry or the fate we ourselves are. These first indications of a future synthesis of personality, as I have shown in my earlier publications, appear in dreams or in “active imagination,” where they take the form of the mandala symbols which were also not unknown in alchemy. But the first signs of this symbolism are far from indicating that unity has been attained. Just as alchemy has a great many very different procedures, ranging from the sevenfold to the thousandfold distillation, or from the “work of one day” to “the errant quest” lasting for decades, so the tensions between the psychic pairs of opposites ease off only gradually; and, like the alchemical end-product, which always betrays its essential duality, the united personality will never quite lose the painful sense of innate discord. Complete redemption from the sufferings of this world is and must remain an illusion. Christ’s earthly life likewise ended, not in complacent bliss, but on the cross. (It is a remarkable fact that in their hedonistic aims materialism and a certain species of “joyful” Christianity join hands like brothers.) The goal is important only as an idea; the essential thing is the opus which leads to the goal: that is the goal of a lifetime. In its attainment “left and right” are united, and conscious and unconscious work in harmony.” (Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 16, para. 400.)