The circle and the square (part 1)

Found somewhere on r/Jung

From a theoretical perspective, if anyone’s interested, I’d propose some addendums/clarifications based on Jung’s work, particularly CW11 - Psychology and Religion (tl;dr - people are complicated, personality inevitable, circles unequal):

While a baby is a circle - a full being - just as the Buddha is a circle (for Buddha “became like a baby”), the path to Buddhahood (wholeness; karmic completion; cosmic unification; nirvana; Self/non-self) passes through adulthood. That is, Buddha became like a baby, but a baby is not born a Buddha.

Why is this? Because a baby is in effect an undifferentiated circle; while it is fully integrated, technically speaking, this is only because its aspects are entirely undeveloped. Hence, a baby is preconsciousness; a Buddha is post-consciousness. A baby’s psychic development naturally leads to consciousness (without which it could not function), but the aspects of the psyche do not all develop uniformly or simultaneously, so even in an ideal environment/society a baby inevitably ceases to be a circle through the natural psychosocial development.

So the problem is not that society only has “square pegs” (though this may well be true and presents a significant extra barrier to wholeness). The essential problem is that the survival mechanism of adapting a sufficiently functional consciousness to survive as a biological entity in a finite, material world necessarily creates unconscious psychic imbalances, which must later be made conscious, actively developed, and properly integrated. To further complicate that process, the only tool at the individual’s disposal is consciousness itself, allowing both positive feedback loops (which allow us to ‘spiral up’ but also risk causing us to ‘spiral down’) and negative feedback loops (which, once established, create strong barriers to change).

I know this is getting long, but just to give a specific example of one personality type (see Jung’s theory of types), consider an LSE-Te (also known as ESTj - logical subtype), sometimes characterised as the ‘Executive’ personality.

This type of consciousness develops primarily through the extroverted logic and introverted sensing functions, at the expense of the extroverted ethics and introverted intuition functions. This type of psyche is great for solving practical, external problems through thoughtful action (extroverted logic leading) and maintaining an outwardly healthy living environment which meets the individual’s immediate, conscious needs (introverted sense creative), so people like this typically come across as orderly, hard-working, successful and well-rounded. But… their emotional focus is merely to ‘maintain the peace’, leading to repression of ‘problematic’ feelings, lack of fluency with complex emotion (particularly their own), and extreme discomfort discussing difficult emotions and their causes (extroverted ethic role), and they are too grounded in concrete reality, with little tolerance for fantasy or symbolism, an underdeveloped imagination, and poor awareness of their internal mental world (introverted intuition vulnerable).

That means an LSE-Te (ESTj) is essentially a highly effective square, strongly prejudiced against turning inward and developing their inferior functions necessary to become whole; most would consider the very concept of ‘wholeness’ to be New Age mumbo jumbo and a foolish distraction from practical concerns. As such, they’re prone to internal instability, which they misattribute to external factors (others’ actions/environmental causes), and even if they can be convinced to turn inwards, they are likely to struggle to find anything as they are not attuned to their internal world and lack the tools to explore it, “confirming” their suspicion that there is nothing to be found. In stark contrast, an IEI-Ni (or INFp - intuitive subtype / “Romantic” personality), is so deeply attuned to their vivid, imaginative internal world, and so adept in navigating their rich, complex emotional life, that they’re often unaware of their surroundings and seem poorly adapted to actual life; to become whole would demand they stop looking inward and put mysticism/idealism aside long enough to actually get some practical, tangible work done. Naturally, they’re reticent to do so.

Done successfully, however, each individual can develop their inferior functions until they become whole and can adeptly use all cognitive functions without bias. They become a circle again, like they were as a baby, but the circle is now far larger, encompassing the entire range of fully differentiated consciousness in a properly integrated and harmonious whole; rather than merely the undifferentiated preconscious potential before any development occurs.