We explore the Father (God) archetype and our relationship with the Divine. Referencing the Book of Job from the Old Testament and Carl Jung’s “Answer to Job,” the concept of the Father archetype and its connection to the Self is examined. In this episode, we discuss:
- The Father archetype in the Book of Job
- Our relationship with the Divine through the Father archetype
- Jung’s “Answer to Job” and the purpose of suffering
Debra Maldonado 00:27
Hello, welcome back to Soul Sessions with CreativeMind. I’m Debra Maldonado, here with Dr. Rob Maldonado, my partner in crime. We’re continuing our series on key concepts of Jungian psychology. I want to remind you, before we begin and dive deep into the father archetype, I’d love for you to subscribe to our channel. If you’re listening to us on any of the podcast services, don’t forget to subscribe because you want to go back to the rest of this series and continue with the series with future shows.
Robert Maldonado 00:49
I’d like a shout-out to our team. We put them through hell with all our crazy ideas. We love you, guys. Thank you.
Debra Maldonado 01:00
If this the first time you’re listening to us, we’re going to identify some descriptions, the archetype, and a little review of the mother archetype before we get into father. What is an archetype?
Robert Maldonado 01:14
It’s an often quoted but often misunderstood concept. It’s hard to understand, probably of all Jung’s work, the archetype, or the concept of the archetype is right up there with the collective unconscious, they go together. If you think of the collective unconscious as the reservoir of human history, all human beings have contributed to the collection of these images and archetypes that are in the collective unconscious. The archetypes are patterns of behavior, of thought, of experience, that are in the collective unconscious, that the individual draws from, through myths, dreams, patterns of existence.
Debra Maldonado 02:06
Another way to think about it is as our universal collective experience of being human. For example, all of us have an experience of mother, father, children, birth, marriage, religion, God. We have these universal ideas that have been in human history and a part of our human nature, that our personal history is shaped by. We didn’t invent being a mother in our lifetime, we didn’t invent being a father, we didn’t invent God in our lifetime, over thousands and thousands of years, humanity has this history. It’s like constellations of organizational structures that we rely upon on a deeper level. It’s this universal intelligence that binds us together and a template or unconscious blueprint of being a human being.
Robert Maldonado 02:59
The definition sounds like they’re very abstract and remote from our human everyday existence, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. In actuality, Jung says, the archetypes construct the matrix of our reality. What you’re seeing when you see the world is the archetypes in action. The patterns, the structure we see in the world is a reflection of the inner structure of our psyche, which are made out of archetypes.
Debra Maldonado 03:34
They’re more than just characters, like mother or father, but also processes. The hero’s journey, many of you who studied Jung or Joseph Campbell heard of the hero’s journey. It’s a process. Birth is a process, marriage, these very conceptual ideas we take for granted. War is an archetype. We’re looking at this world in this template, we replace it with new characters. If you look at a movie, there’s actually archetypal structure to every movie, there’s the hero, there’s the victim, there’s the villain. There is a process of transformation the hero goes through. That is an archetype as well. It’s much more than just “I’m mother, father”, it’s a lot deeper. If you think about everything in life, there’s this commonality we share as human beings and our human nature. If we could tap into that, can you imagine the troubles or the world we find unity with each other? Because we all come from this well of wisdom and knowledge, from ancient antiquity, forming who we are today.
Robert Maldonado 04:42
In reviewing the mother archetype, we think about matter, actually the words are connected. Matter comes from or is related to the word “mother”. We’re made out of matter. The universe is a material expression. When we talk about matter, we’re talking about the mother archetype. Instinctually, we think Mother Earth, what gives sustenance to our body, what creates our body. In yoga philosophy, the Annamaya Kosha, which is the outer expression of the body, is made out of food, it’s made out of the elements that we take from the world, consume them, and reconstruct our body from within.
Debra Maldonado 05:31
I think we’d be healthier, if we knew that our bodies were made out of food versus food just gives us energy. It gives us more of an energy system, this is food we’re seeing in ourselves. Then if matter is what we see and the material world, the father would be the opposite, the unseen.
Robert Maldonado 05:53
Here, we ask people to put away the gender issues, we’re not talking about gender here. These are mythological, archetypal symbols that Jung is using to talk about deeper structures of the psyche. We can flip them around if we want and say, matter is the father and spirit is the mother. It leads to the same place. But in the typical mythology that we see in the world, in different cultures, the father is the archetype of spirit, the Father God that moves the world, creates the world, often through its movement. Most people are familiar with the Judeo-Christian God archetype, which is Yahweh or Jehovah, he’s the creator god, he creates and brings the universe into existence.
Debra Maldonado 06:53
But we can’t see him directly. It’s always this unseen part. We try to depict it, the image of God in images, such as Michelangelo, who did the Sistine Chapel, God and Adam connecting, the old man with a beard symbol of this father that we can’t see.
Robert Maldonado 07:14
When we talk about the Father archetype, just like with mother, we can talk about our personal experience with our fathers as a starting point, for our personal conceptualization of God and the divine spirit. In our work, what we see is that if you don’t do your personal exploration, examination of your past history with your parents, with the mother and the father—
Debra Maldonado 07:46
The projections that you placed on them with regard to these archetypes. When we talked about the mother, she’s this ordinary human being, and we project the mother archetype on her, this divine person that she can never live up to. We’re always disappointed that our mother didn’t meet all our expectations. Then we do the same thing with the Father.
Robert Maldonado 08:08
When people don’t do that examination, they carry those personal elements, elements of the personal unconscious, as Jung would say, into the collective unconscious. They project their personal narrative, father and mother, unto these archetypal structures. That’s a mistake because what you’re seeing then is your own narrative instead of the universal archetypal structure. Your relationship is tainted by your personal history, instead of creating and relating to these archetypal structures in a more creative way.
Debra Maldonado 08:50
For example, you’re saying that when we project the father archetype on the Father, and say, we’re raised in whatever religion we’re raised in, or concept of God we’re raised in, we tend to project that relationship on to the divine image. My father was very strict, he had to follow the rules, there was no room for failure. When I thought of God, of course, a lot of Catholics can relate, maybe Jews too, that punishing father, you have to follow the rules or you’re going to sin, you’re going to be punished, you’re going to be sent to hell. Jews don’t believe in hell, but for Catholics, you’re going to hell if you break the law. That’s my projection of my relationship with God. I was always so fearful in my early life of not wanting to serve Him and making sure I obey, which led me to be the do-gooder, always trying and then beating myself up if I failed in any way, going to confession and having to confess my sins. We ended up thinking that God is not a friendly God. He’s like “You got to follow the rules. If you do everything right, you go to heaven. You get a reward.” That’s an example of that.
Robert Maldonado 10:03
What you’re describing is the personal and the cultural aspects of the individual. These personal and cultural aspects are part of our everyday lives. They seem natural to us, of course, we’d interpret it and see the world through this lens. But Jung is talking about a much different way of experiencing the archetype, especially the Father God archetype. He says that if you don’t individuate, if you don’t transcend your ego, your identity with your persona and your body, you as a cultural being, if you’re not able to transcend that, you’re playing out your own personal assumptions about what God is and what the universe is based on your personal experience.
Debra Maldonado 10:56
You don’t have really a true, pure relationship with God, you have a projected relationship, it’s distorted by your own relationship with your father and those assumptions. It’s not something you’re conscious of, you don’t even notice that there is a similar projection until you examine it.
Robert Maldonado 11:16
I remember talking about some of these things with friends. They would literally back away when I mentioned the word “God”, because they project their own personal experiences with their fathers on to that image of the Father God, the Spirit God. Of course, if you reject, and it is your duty to reject your father’s point of view, their worldview, because you’re meant, as a child, to bring something new into the world. Your task, in part, is to reject that old world. They reject everything that has to do with God and spirit, all the rich mythology and culture that comes with that because of the personal interpretation.
Debra Maldonado 12:07
Can I ask you a question? What about same sex parents? There’s a lot of people that are gay and they adopt. Is there’s one person that takes on that more fatherly role and the other person takes on more motherly role in that dynamic? Or is it a mixture because like you said, this has nothing to do with your sexual orientation or gender, it’s more of an idea.
Robert Maldonado 12:29
All of those are possible ways of being a family. Every family has its own dynamics.
Debra Maldonado 12:37
There’s some straight families, where the mothers are authoritarian, and the man plays more of the feminine role. That’s why I wanted to say, get out of your head that it’s just male and female. It’s more the authority in the family and who’s in charge.
Robert Maldonado 12:57
This conversation so far, we’re talking about the cultural, religious structures of how these archetypes play out in human society, the deeper layers, which is what Jungian psychology is able to do. It’s able to take us much deeper than these generals and cultural norms. You’re talking about ying yang, about spirit and matter, questions of mysticism, questions of transcendence, mystical experiences that go way beyond our identification as individual human beings. That’s a very different layer of the work that only Jungian psychology really goes that deep.
Debra Maldonado 14:46
So what else about the God archetype is important?
Robert Maldonado 14:47
Jung wrote this remarkable book, I read it every few years just to remind myself of how deep and rich his work is. It’s called Answer to Job. Job, of course, is a book in the Old Testament, the Bible. Job’s story goes something like this, just briefly, I’m paraphrasing. Job was considered an ideal servant of God. He’s righteous, he follows the rules, sacrifices, devotes his life to God. He’s prosperous. He has many children, home, wealth, great business, great friends, great family, we all aspire to those things. God is pleased with his servant Job. But the devil comes to God’s throne and says “Job is a great servant, you see him as a great model for human beings. But he’s in service of you and adores you, worships you because you’re giving him everything, because he has a good life. Take away his good life, his health, his family, his money, his success, and see what happens.” It’s a temptation, a daring, if you really think he is devoted to you, test him. God tests him, he takes away his family, his children die, takes away his homes, they burned down or something happens. He took away his health, he starts to develop sores all over his body, he’s sick. Then his friends start to criticize him, they’re saying he must have done something terrible with God to deserve this. Everything is falling apart around him. Then in the book, he starts to have this conversation with God, Jahweh, that is essentially challenging God as to his position and his relationship with his creature. Job is the creation of God, God is the Creator. Therefore, Job is pleading his case and saying “If you created me, why are you making me suffer?” That’s the beginning of Jung’s examination of the book of Job. His answer to that, or his interpretation of what is happening here in this relationship of a human being, as created creature, to the creator being, to this Spirit, God.
Debra Maldonado 17:52
What does it ultimately say? It sounds like the dark night of the soul. It’s unconditional love for the deity or the divine within ourselves, not loving them just when things are going well, or thinking when things go well, then you’re being blessed.
Robert Maldonado 18:11
If we fall back on our definition of these archetypes, he’s not talking about something external to us. Jung is talking about an internal God archetype that is part of our psyche.
Debra Maldonado 18:25
The part of us that we relate to that’s beyond the personal. Most people believe there’s some higher power or something like that, and your relationship to it.
Robert Maldonado 18:36
We’re taking a depth psychology point of view, not just the ego perspective of things. There are deeper layers of the psyche that touch upon not only the personal unconscious, but the collective unconscious. That’s Jung’s perspective on the book. We can see what the book of Job is talking about in relationship to our human existence. We’re happy when things go our way. But as soon as things don’t go our way, which is inevitable, we curse our fate, or we rebel against life where we feel that God left us.
Debra Maldonado 19:19
Even Jesus said that the night before he was crucified, he said “Why have you forsaken me?” One thing I took out of Answer to Job, was one phrase he said. “Everything I feared has come upon me.” This idea that we always talk about, your thought create your life. It’s his fear that created those circumstances, not the devil and not God, but his own fear and that he was projecting on to God that God is punishing him versus taking responsibility for his own mind and his own fear, working with his own fears. How can I have a deeper understanding of this power within me or the God archetype, higher power, higher self or true self or whatever that is that we talk about. How can we not blame fate or other thing besides our own consciousness and being responsible for our thinking and our own personal growth, our default ego desires and examining that a little more? What do you think?
Robert Maldonado 20:26
The book Jung wrote, Answer to Job, is his interpretation of that experience. He’s talking about how our relationship with the father archetype, God within, as he sometimes calls it, which in Eastern philosophy is the true self. He sees there’s an evolution going on here, moral questioning of what is the purpose of suffering. Because that’s what Job is about. It’s human suffering, it’s stark nakedness. We create all these things with families, home, success, yet it all vanishes or is all subject to be taken away by life, by time. In going inward and examining what my relationship to the creator element in me, the divine, the self is, he sees that there’s an evolution happening that is portrayed in the book. Not only of the human being, the ego, the persona that Job is, is forced to examine his life from within and ask the question of what my relationship to this divine element that is the creator, or the creative element within me, is, but also that the divine element is forced then to respond to this creature.
Debra Maldonado 22:02
It’s not a one-way communication. It’s two-way, it’s a relationship.
Robert Maldonado 22:09
The Creator God is individuating. It transformed itself through that relationship.
Debra Maldonado 22:20
Our God archetype and father archetype transforms, as we bring consciousness to it just as much because we’re changing our personal projection onto it.
Robert Maldonado 22:31
It goes back to this idea. When Jung was in Africa, he saw the unconscious animals, hundreds of thousands grazing on the savannas, but they were unconscious. Their heads were bobbing up and down, eating grass and just being. He realized the position human beings have in the creation. We are conscious in a different way than animals, we’re self-aware in a way most animals aren’t. That was his vision of what is the need for human beings and the creation. We represent both the animal nature, but also the divine self-awareness. We’re the bridge between the animal nature and the unconscious nature of the world, the divine awareness that allows the creator to experience its own creation.
Debra Maldonado 23:35
If you think about it, none of the animals keep record of their history. Maybe they pass down tendencies for survival and adaptation through evolution. But human beings record our history, we record what we have done, we have this capacity to remember and look back and look forward. It has a higher level of experience. It’s like witnessing the experience of being alive in this thing we call the world and to record it in a way, just like we do with our lives, we remember more than an animal does. I think domestic animals are more like us, because they adapted to being in a human family and become part of that, but for the most part, it’s let’s pass down this family story, let’s remember where we came from, our ancestry, history of our countries, science, sharing information, discovering more, unveiling more.
Robert Maldonado 24:41
If you remember the myth in the book, where the book of Job is taking place, the original myth was that the knowledge we gained got us kicked out of the garden because we didn’t fit into nature anymore in the typical way that animals do. We were outcasts because we gained this self-awareness, and self-awareness doesn’t allow us to live unconsciously.
Debra Maldonado 25:10
A unified, balanced state animals live in. The only reason many of them are suffering right now is because of the human intervention. If humans left the earth, the world would be in balance. We’re shut out from that garden of perfection and perfect balance because we have self-consciousness, self-awareness.
Robert Maldonado 25:32
This back and forward, this two way street, is essential in the universal construct. Eastern philosophy helps us understand this a little bit better. In Eastern philosophy, the atman, the individual soul, is identical to the Brahman, which is a universal God element. God would be Brahman in the Vedic non-dual system, or philosophy. The atman, the individual soul, the individual awareness is identical to that. The aim of human life and experience is for us to realize that unity, to realize that my consciousness, my awareness is identical to the universal creative consciousness, one and the same, they’re not different. The only difference is that we forget that, we identify with our persona, ego and lose our connection to that divine consciousness.
Debra Maldonado 26:37
We create religions that are far away from us, it’s outside of us. In my book, Like a Spark from Fire, Adi Shankara said, “We’re like a spark from fire, we’re the same substance, we’re just different in name and form and awareness.”. But we can have the same awareness. I don’t know if we can have the totality of awareness the pure divine has, space and time, mathematics, all those trans-time ideas, but we can have access to that deeper wisdom in our lifetime, we can examine ourselves, connect and have a different relationship to this god image that may be different than we had when we were children or when we were in religious backgrounds. One thing I do know is that there’s many people we’ve worked with over the years that didn’t have any religion growing up, so they had no relationship with a god. As adults, they have to cultivate it. It’s not that it’s not there. It’s how do we cultivate that image?
Robert Maldonado 27:36
We see this power in the story, the myth, but we have to read it in its original intention. It wasn’t intended to represent a literal history of something that happened. It’s talking in metaphor, in symbolic language, as we say in dream work.
Debra Maldonado 27:58
You see this in Greek myths too. Hercules was half god, half human that comes down to earth. Achilles had the same thing. There were so many myths of them forgetting who they were, they weren’t an ordinary person, someone had to remind them that they were a descendant of God. So many of those myths are mirroring that idea.
Robert Maldonado 28:20
The myth portrayed in the story of Job is speaking about the unity of the individual, the creature that we are as individual, with Atman, or individual soul, but the soul is identical to the creative principle, consciousness, pure awareness. Therefore, it’s always talking about how to realize that because if we get lost in the idea that the material world is going to support me and give me enough to be happy for my identity—
Debra Maldonado 28:57
The security you get from a partner, from a steady job, from having a family that loves you, having a house, shelter—
Robert Maldonado 29:06
It’s a story, a narrative, a myth that is giving us a way to understand what our relationship with those things is, which is essentially a temporary, impermanent relationship, as a way of letting go of it. Not of rejecting it. It doesn’t mean we should reject money, success, family, but as a way of understanding its position in the structure of creation. What is our relationship to the divine God, Father God principle?
Debra Maldonado 29:43
For example, you can have success from the place of that divine self or you can have success from the ego. You can have a family based on ego or you can have a family based on your true, pure self that wants to connect and wants the other partner to be happy, wants your children to flourish and grow versus “I need them to be students, I need to impress my neighbors,” all those things we fall into. It’s not bad. But we get caught up in the social structures of building a life. We think those things are so important that we forget our own divine nature.
Robert Maldonado 30:18
One last thing to note about Jung’s Answer to Job is that he very elegantly incorporates this idea that Jahweh, God, the divine creative principle is both light and dark. Because if you think about how we perceive it from our individual perspective, we want good, we want light, we always want to live in happiness and joy, but that’s not reality. Sickness, aging, and death are part of our experience. If we ignore that, if we split it into that false duality, it is the nature of suffering, it is what causes our human suffering, then we interpret anything that doesn’t fit that goodness and light model as evil, as bad. But it’s not that it’s bad. Or you want to curse your creation, or your Creator, reject that, like Job’s friends did. It’s a great lesson in human suffering and moral understanding, in spiritual integration. What does this mean about my individuality in the context of this universal consciousness?
Debra Maldonado 31:45
Very well said. What a packed episode this was. We hope you enjoyed it. Before you go, if you’re listening to us on Spotify, iTunes, or any of the podcast services, don’t forget to subscribe. We have another great episode coming next week. Thank you so much for joining us, and we’ll see you soon.