The goal of the spiritual practice of yoga is liberation from the cycles of birth and death. The goal of the Buddha’s meditation is to end suffering. The goal of Jung’s psychotherapy is “individuation,” which means the integration of our unconsciousness with our consciousness, allowing the Self to arise.

Jung was unique in the West. He not only sought to end the suffering of his patients from their illness, he also wanted to help healthy people realize their full potential. His therapy was not limited to those afflicted, as were all the other psychotherapies of the day. Like his ancient Eastern counterparts, he wanted to cure his patient’s present problems and make them strong enough to face the real existential problem – he wanted them to become whole.

The Self, according to Jung, is the source in the beginning – and this same Self is the goal in the end. Between these, there is unfolding a continual development, an integration of the personality. That is the process of individuation. This transformation occurs through the interaction of the ego and the unconscious.

Around the middle of his life Jung was introduced to the teachings of Daoist alchemy through his friend Richard Wilhelm and Wilhelm’s translation of the book The Secret of the Golden Flower. Jung realized that alchemy was a metaphoric approach to the transformation he was seeking. The alchemists, in trying to transmute base elements into gold or silver, were really attempting to liberate God from the dark matter of the universe. To Jung, this was the whole psychic process of liberating our Self from the dark matter of our unconsciousness. [1] Many spiritual teachers, throughout the ages, have sought this same goal.

The Tibetan Buddhists believe that we can become liberated only if we shine a light on our inner darkness, so that, at the moment of death, the darkness’ metaphoric apparition does not overcome us. Jesus, in the Gospel of Saint Thomas, preached, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” These teachings are the same as Jung’s exhortations to achieve individuation: the fractures within us must be healed and a new being will emerge the original being, the Self.

How to achieve individuation is the next understanding we need to gain.

  1. — Yoga itself is an alchemical process see Tim Miller’s article using this metaphor in his The Alchemy of Yoga at

(Next: Individuation )