Psychology and Religion By Carl Gustav Jung
Famed psychologist Carl Jung delivered a short series of lectures at Yale in 1937 concerning the relationship between psychology and religion. Sticking strictly to his expertise, Jung discusses religion as a psychological phenomenon, i.e. as humans experience it. He draws on the history of human thought in both Western and Eastern traditions. He's read the popular philosophers and theologians. He's also read various ancient and medieval gnostic, alchemical, and occultist texts. He discovered various images and themes that recur throughout the history of thought. These themes and images also show up in his therapeutic work. He's had patients that describe symbols and images from their dreams that seem to be taken from ancient Egyptian mystical writings or medieval alchemical manuals. But his patients clearly haven't read those texts. Often, they have no historical or educational connection from which to draw the images. In this book, Jung describes one patient who is a thoroughly modern man and has no time for religion. And yet religious imagery from a wide variety of sources shows up in his dreams (the patient wrote down descriptions of about four hundred dreams). In Jung's analysis, humans must have some store from which they draw. He is unsure of what causes the presence of these recurrent images (which he calls "archetypes") but their ubiquity makes them impossible to ignore. The personal experience is real and needs to be dealt with in order for therapy to be successful.
The book is fairly technical about psychology, discussing neuroses and various dream images. Jung delves into certain symbols, like threes and fours as they relate to religious symbols (e.g. the Christian Trinity and gnostic attempts to create a quaternity, a group of four). He also has plenty of references to the history of philosophy. Jung adds a good number of quotes in French, Latin, and Greek without always giving translations, making the book more challenging for casual readers.
I found the content fascinating and occasionally over my head. I appreciate being challenged but wish I understood it better than I do. I thought his discussion of religious experience as only a personal experience may be too limiting. Jung as a psychologist takes no stand on the existence of God, though he clearly believes there is some transcendent reality that touches all people throughout history. I'll probably hunt around for some more accessible text by Jung.
Slightly recommended--this text is not so much for lay readers but does provide a lot of interesting content to mull over.