Children represent the culmination of dreams that both parents have for the wellbeing of the life they created. Children have a divine nature because of the innocence associated with their lack of consciousness. Many historical examples of the divine child archetype occur in the motifs of world religions, mythologies, and fairytales. Jesus Christ was a divine child, who was born of immaculate circumstances. The foundation of the Christian religion rests on the belief that Jesus was prophesied to fulfill a destiny to help woman and man to be forgiven for the original sin of becoming conscious beings. The Buddha was also a divine child, an exemplar figure that represents the means by which human consciousness can realize its divine nature. Both prophets were wanderers and parallels exist between the journeys they undertook and the wandering journeys associated to the Greek God Dionysus.
Siddhartha’s parents had clear expectations of him. Although Siddhartha lived a luxurious lifestyle, he was indifferent towards his parents and others in his life. In Hesse’s story, Siddhartha presented as an internally driven individual that cared little about the needs of the people whom surrounded him. The attitude of indifference would haunt Siddhartha throughout his life, and formed the basis of the shadows that would eventually form the cornerstone of his adult development.
Siddhartha pursued a transcendent level of consciousness at the expense of living life to its fullest potential. By chasing this single goal, Siddhartha became blind to the world of possibilities that surrounded him. In a way, Siddhartha represented a “high chair tyrant” (Moore & Gillette, 1990) type of divine child archetype. Siddhartha’s parents gave him everything and he accepted it. In return, he turned his back on those who loved him most in order to pursue his personal longings.
Siddhartha was narcissistic in his pursuit of the Self. Narcissism is common during early childhood development, but must wane as one learns to relate with others in the world. The relationship one develops with their parents during early childhood directly affects the quality of relationships one will establish in adult life. Oedipal dynamics are apparent in the way Siddhartha challenged his father for independence and his father requested that he kiss his mother goodbye; however, Siddhartha also showed unresolved oedipal dynamics through the indifference he showed when relating with others.
Because Siddhartha never developed a primary relationship with either parent, he became self-serving in his pursuit to understand his true nature. Siddhartha could not develop love for any individual, because he truly did not know how he operated in relation to others. Because Siddhartha thought that the love of his parents would not fill his waiting vessel, he turned his back on the love they freely gave him. Siddhartha needed to develop a loving kindness for himself in order to learn how to love others. Siddhartha knew himself, lost touch with himself during his early formative years of spiritual training, and spent the rest of the story searching for the true beauty of the Self that he had lost. However, in order to find the true beauty that was his, Siddhartha needed to learn the how to take part in life as a functioning adult.
The case analysis of Siddhartha’s childhood presented a variety of archetypal themes that drove the his individuation process forward. Hesse (2002) portrayed the intimate dynamics that exist between a mother, father, and child when he considered the dreams that both parents had for young Siddhartha. Hesse also showed the complex themes that arise when parents and teachers can no longer satiate the growing inquisitiveness a maturing child develops. Parents are the first teachers that fill the waiting vessel of their child’s mind. However, a child cannot remain dependent on their parents forever; therefore, it is imperative that a child also be formally educated into the industries common to a culture. This forms the basis from which formal education within the cultural context begins, indoctrinates the child into a cultural philosophy that assures the child will become a willing and active participant within their culture’s expectations, and assures that cultural norms will continue despite a child’s natural inclination to develop a personal and individualized knowledge base.
Infants have the instinct of attachment; at its earliest stage, attachment manifests through the abilities a child has to root and suck. The ability to attach also allows an infant to develop the close emotional bonds needed to support life (Weiten, 2000). While an infant typically establishes a primary bond with the mother due to the natural ability she has to nurse (Lamb 1987), other caregivers play an equally important role in the infant’s life as consciousness emerges. Furthermore, the quality of the initial attachment an infant has to the caregivers greatly affects the development of all future relationships (Ainsworth, Blehar, & Wall, 1978). Appropriate psychological attachment between children and parents helps assure appropriate psychological, physiological, and relational development.
At birth, the developing infant shares a close bond with the mother that began during the pregnancy process. Hesse began the story with a paradox that existed between the light and darkness. The womb represents a period in which darkness reigns; the developing fetus has yet to become conscious of the outside world. However, an unconscious representation of natural entities exist a-priori to the conscious representations an infant develops to the outside world. If Jung is correct, a collective storehouse of our species history and its links with our animal brethren are stored within the contents of the collective unconscious. The inquisitive nature of the human psyche allows an infant to develop conscious representations of the outside environment. Consciousness emerges from the unconscious as the mind begins to make sense of one’s internal and external environment.
The process of becoming psychologically aware promotes the ability a child has to begin the process of separating from one’s parents. The symbiotic relational dynamics that exist between an infant and mother could lead to a developmental arrest that could inhibit the individuation process if a child is unable to sever this relationship. Freud (1917/1966) wrote extensively on this subject. Therefore, it is imperative for a male child to sever the dependent relationship he has on his mother to assure an appropriate transition to adulthood. While Freud concentrated extensively on the natural arrests that occur if a person cannot break the symbiotic relationship they have with the mother, Carl Jung (1917/1966) also wrote on the adverse psychological effects that an embryonic state of consciousness has on the continued development of character. Jung (1917/1966) stated:
We are not to understand a particularly good or intense conscious relationship, but something in the nature of a secret, subterranean tie which expresses itself consciously, perhaps, only in the retarded development of character, i.e., in a relative infantilism. The developing personality naturally veers away from such an unconscious infantile bond; for nothing is more obstructive to development than persistence in an unconscious – we could also say, a psychically embryonic – state. For this reason, instinct seizes on the first opportunity to replace the mother by another object. (p. 104)
The subterranean tie a boy has with their mother is indicative of the oedipal dynamics that help drive the initiation of more complicated forms of object relationships. A person must learn to relate with their parents to avoid becoming stuck in a period of relative infantilism. Siddhartha failed at this task. His childhood suggests that he never developed a loving relationship with either parent. Therefore, he could not develop the ability to “replace the mother by another object” (Jung, 1917/1966, p. 104). Because of this failure, Siddhartha developed a “relative infantilism” that retarded his ability to relate with other individuals.
While an infant’s initial attachment lies with the mother, he or she is also born into a family, a race, a tribe, a culture, and a civilization in which he or she must adapt. This leads to an interaction between the universal aspects of the collective psyche that govern the development of all individuals (intelligent design) and the development of the ego. An infant can take part in the a-priori social structures common to their personal lineage through the interaction of collective and personal components of the psyche as they emerge to promote individuated development. Concerning the interaction that occurs between the collective and personal aspects of consciousness, Jung, (1928/1966) stated:
Inasmuch as there are differentiations corresponding to race, tribe, and even family, there is also a collective psyche limited to race, tribe, and family over and above the “universal” collective psyche. To borrow an expression from Pierre Janet, the collective psyche comprises the parties inférieures of the psychic functions, that is to say those deep-rooted, well-nigh automatic portions of the individual psyche which are inherited and are to be found everywhere, and are thus impersonal or suprapersonal. Consciousness plus the personal unconscious constitutes the parties supérieures of the psychic functions, those portions, therefore, that are developed ontogenetically and acquired. (pp. 147-148)
A child is never born alone. The life of a child remains intimately linked to the cellular consciousness (Grof, 1985) and the genetic heritage of both parents. Therefore, the consciousness stored at the cellular level can unfold in a normal developmental sequence provided the developing child receives appropriate psychological and physiological nurturing.
It is a parent’s responsibility to provide the initial nurturing a child needs to survive. As childhood progresses, it becomes the responsibility of social institutions to provide the social nurturance a child needs to assure that normal development occurs within the cultural context. An extended family, state and religious institutions, and the development of close bonds with others represent a few of the many social institutions common to cultures throughout the world. These social institutions can also promote a sense of belonging for those children that may face adversity in other social or personal settings. However, social institutions also face a dual role, implementing both the nurturing and devouring aspects common to the mother archetype and the moral commandment and prohibition aspects of the father archetype. Social institutions nurture individual growth by enforcing moral commandments by prohibiting behaviors deemed a-social (Jung, 1954).
A developing child needs nurturing to assure psychological and physiological growth. Psychological growth and the ability to sustain physiological survival are dependent on the morals, values, and social order passed from one generation to the next. The safety net established by the successive passing of values and moral based systems allow each generation to nurture their children in an appropriate manner that assures the continuity of the system created. The collective history of one’s culture and family affects the emergent psyche of the child. Therefore, parents, teachers, and other important figures in a child’s life must pass on the social morals common to a society. Individual development promotes cultural development. While the development of particular morals and subsequent prohibitions occur later in life, it is important to mention within the context of childhood development because the initial development of the rule based conscience occurs during the triadic love affair that develops between a father, mother, and child.
Freud (1917/1966) called the conflict that arises during this developmental period the Oedipus complex. Siddhartha entered an oedipal conflict after he questioned whether his parent’s love could provide the lessons and support he needed to understand his emerging self.
The mother archetype houses the polarities of nurturing and devouring. The developing fetus has close attachment to the mother even before he or she develops a conscious awareness of the woman that will house the polarities of nurturing and devouring common to the mother archetype. After birth, the breast provides the physiological nourishment an infant requires to survive; therefore, a child’s mother becomes the first environmental entity that an infant projects archetypal content. When a child enters the oedipal phase of development, the initial dyadic bond that exists between a mother and child during pregnancy and early infant development becomes a triangulated relational structure between the father, mother, and child. By working through the triangulation common to the oedipal conflict, a child learns the means by which to separate fantasy from reality. While primary narcissism helps a child survive, the development of the ego during early childhood development assures that a child will learn to separate his or her identity from the parental dyad. One’s ability to navigate the early oedipal stage allows the emerging psyche to develop the subjective and objective awareness (Hanly, 2001) needed to face the social realities that underlie the competition for an object of desire (Künstlicher, 2002). In other words, early childhood relational experiences prime the psyche for later adult relationships.
In Siddhartha’s case, he was indifferent towards his parents. Siddhartha sought knowledge of the Self at the expense of isolating himself from the people who loved him. In the initial part of the story, Siddhartha sought to leave his childhood home and the title bestowed upon him through his family lineage. However, the indifference Siddhartha showed to his parents would prove to haunt all his future relationships. Siddhartha’s inability to navigate the oedipal conflict successfully caused him to become stuck in a primary sense of narcissism that did not allow him to learn how to grow in relation with others.
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung differed on their thoughts about the importance that the collective nature of myth has on the overall development of personality. Freud remained primarily interested in the direct effects mythological motifs had on the patient’s he served; however, Carl Jung formulated an understanding of the effects that all myths have on the collective development of the human psyche.
Freud’s pioneer work… gave access to the well-documented history of psychic phenomenology, and this allows us something like a synoptic view of the psyche. The psyche does not express itself merely in the narrow subjective of the individual personality but, over and above that, in collective psychic phenomena of whose existence Freud was aware, at least in principle, as his concept of the “superego” shows. For the time being method and theory remained… in the hands of the psychiatrist, who of necessity is concerned only with individuals and their urgent personal problems. An investigation of fundamentals involving historical research is naturally not in his line… For this reason Freud saw himself obliged to skip the… wearisome stage of comparative psychology and press forward into the conjectural and highly uncertain prehistory of the human psyche. (Jung, 1958/1970, pp. 348-349)
While Freud concerned himself with the personal significance that unconscious variations of mythical content has on the development of a patient’s personal problems, Jung saw that myth represented a collective storehouse from which humanity passed on morality. While Jung concerned himself with the significance that myths have on the collective development of human history, Kradin (2009) published an article in the Journal of Analytical Psychology that reiterated the specific dynamics the oedipal conflict has on the development of pathological family myths that underlie psychological despair.
Our developmental sequence is pre-determined, unfolds in a systematic manner, and governs all living beings. Archetypes are similar; they are predetermined, unfold systematically, and prompt the psyche to realize its true nature during the life-cycle. Although Siddhartha is an exemplar of the ability consciousness has to transcend itself, he developed within the sequence that governs all individuals’ development.
In stories of a mythical nature, the protagonist and antagonist are capable of multiple lives, never truly die, and pass through the story as if a destiny were set in motion from which the characters of the story have no choice but to participate in an omniscient observers story-line. The pull of destiny apparent in many themes common to mythology and fairy tales represents the collective journey that drives individuated development. The prominent Jungian analyst, Marie Louise von Franz (1995 & 1996) drew attention to the collective themes that fairy tales portray when analyzed from an archetypal perspective. Siddhartha needed to deal with the relational triad that existed between himself and his parents to individuate.
Siddhartha disavowed his family lineage. Hesse (2002) portrayed young Siddhartha as cold and indifferent in his quest to leave his family home. Siddhartha sought to know himself at the expense of not knowing from where he came. Siddhartha bred discontent within his soul due to the pull his psyche had to understand his emergent Self at the expense of denying relationships with those who loved him.
Siddhartha had begun to breed discontent within himself. He had begun to feel that his father’s love and his mother’s love, and even the love of his friend Govinda, would not bring him enduring happiness, would not bring him contentment and satisfaction, would not be sufficient to his needs. He had begun to sense that his venerable father and his other teachers, the wise brahmins, had already shared with him the better part of their wisdom; they had already poured their all into his waiting vessel, and the vessel was not full, his mind not satisfied, his soul was not at peace, his heart was not content. (Hesse, 2002, pp. 5-6)
When viewed from a relational perspective, the story Siddhartha has clear oedipal themes. However, Siddhartha does not resolve the oedipal conflict because he failed to learn how to relate with either parent. Instead, Siddhartha followed his destiny at the expense of negating the dreams his parents had for him. While Siddhartha did not destroy his father and marry his mother as the Oedipal conflict would suggest, he did stand up to his father’s will and ended up consummating a relationship with a woman that showed many similarities to that of his mother.
Siddhartha entered the room where his father was seated on a hemp mat. He moved up behind his father and stood there until his father felt there was somebody behind him. Siddhartha said, “With your permission, Father, I’ve come to tell you that tomorrow I must leave your house and go off with the ascetics. I long to become a shramana. May my father not oppose this. The brahmin was silent and remained so for so long that the stars moved and changed their configuration in the little window in the room before the silence came to an end… Finally the father said: “it is not fitting for a brahmin to speak hard and angry words, yet in my heart I cannot accept this. Do not let this request cross your lips a second time. (Hesse, 2002, pp. 9-10)
King Laius ordered Oedipus’ death so he would not suffer to grow up (Sophocles, 2007). Siddhartha’s father forbade him to leave his home, which represents murderous intent towards his son establishing an independent identity as an adult separate from the man his parents wish him to become. The judgment apparent in this scenario shows the dynamics that occur between a child willing his development to occur and the unconscious dynamics a parent has to see their child not suffer the same injustice they suffered during childhood development. The ability to protect individuals from injustice is a common trait of the father archetype.
Jung explained that the father archetype is “representative of the spirit, whose function it is to oppose pure instinctuality” (Jung, 1956, p. 261). The father archetype assumes the poles of moral commandment and prohibition. Siddhartha wanted to become an ascetic, a person that lived an instinctual life outside of the socially acceptable norms common to the brahmin caste. The paradoxical conflict between Siddhartha and his father rested on the protagonist’s brahmin lineage and the pull of his ascetic personality. Siddhartha’s father opposed his son’s request from the basis of moral commandment and the social norms that governed their caste, only to realize that his son’s personal resolve had already taken him away from his family home.
A son must detach his identity with both parents’ in order to become a man within their community of origin. Siddhartha learned the lessons of his caste from his father and mother, but became indifferent to their love as he sought ever-increasing knowledge about himself. Siddhartha viewed his father as an obstacle to overcome so that he could pursue his destiny. While a normal developmental sequence would consist of a male child learning to identify with their father through a process of emulating the very behaviors they once found adversarial, Siddhartha turned his back on the rituals taught to him by the elders of his community. Siddhartha showed no joy for himself. He turned his back on the concept of love to push himself through his early childhood experience. Siddhartha could not be happy with the experiences, the love, and the lineage given to him by his parents. This represented the childhood shadow that Siddhartha needed to overcome to understand his familial lineage.
During the oedipal complex, a child learns to imitate the social roles portrayed by the parent of the same sex; this allows gender identification to occur within the child. While Freud (1917/1966) believed that the oedipal complex was a key component of personality development, Jung (1928/1966) believed that it represented an opportunity to sever the anima and animus archetypes from the mother and father archetypes. The dynamics that exist between the anima, animus, mother, and father archetypes allow increased differentiation to exist between the initial relationship held with one’s parents and the relationship a person seeks with a mate. Siddhartha failed in this task, and its aftermath is apparent in the protagonist’s record of failed relationships throughout the story.
For a male child, the oedipal conflict represents an initial attempt to sever the mother archetype from the anima. This allows the boy to differentiate between his mother and the future relationships he will pursue. Concerning this process, Carl Jung (1928/1966) stated:
The first bearer of the soul-image is always the mother; later it is borne by those women who arouse the man’s feelings, whether in a positive or a negative sense. Because the mother is the first bearer of the soul-image, separation from her is a delicate and important matter of the greatest educational significance. Accordingly among primitives we find a large number of rites designed to organize this separation. The mere fact of becoming adult, and of outward separation, is not enough; impressive initiation into the “men’s house” and ceremonies of rebirth are still needed in order to make the separation from the mother (and hence from childhood) entirely effective. Just as the father acts as a protection against the dangers of the external world and thus serves his son as a model persona, so the mother protects him against the dangers that threaten from the darkness of his psyche. In puberty rites, therefore, the initiate receives instruction about these things of “the other side,” so that he is put in a position to dispense with his mother’s protection. (p. 197)
The conflict associated with severing the anima from the mother archetype drives a child to develop an adult personality. This process occurs through initiatory rites, which allows a son to assume the role of being a man within his community. This forms the basis of Robert Bly’s (1990, 1991) argument about the importance initiatory experiences have on fostering ideals that are more adult-like. While Jung did not explain the dynamics mentioned above as being oedipal, it is clear that Freud’s idea of oedipal conflict influenced Jung’s ideas about the dynamics an individual must overcome to grow into a healthy adult.
Complexes developed during childhood form the foundation of a story that will unfold during adult life. A person must work through the very complexes that find their ontology in early childhood development to individuate. This allows the complex consciousness associated with the adult psyche the ability to rectify problems that find their ontology during early childhood development.
No developmental sequence stands alone. All theorists have a particular way in which they view the natural progression of human development. While Jung focused on archetypes, many of his theories about the archetypal mother, father, and divine child correlate to other developmental theories. I will further explore this concept in articles to come as I present differing perspectives from which to view the developmental events that unfold in the story Siddhartha (Hesse, 2002)
Siddhartha had parents who had lofty dreams for their son. However, Siddhartha’s destiny called upon him to fulfill his own dreams. Siddhartha’s narcissistic Self-exploration caused him to fail at developing any sense of a loving relationship with either parent. This failure haunted all of Siddhartha’s subsequent relationships. While Siddhartha had a loving family, he needed to leave his family to pursue adult life. Siddhartha, like all individuals, needed to work through the initial relationship he had with his parents to become a functioning adult who could relate with other people. Because he failed in his early oedipal task, Siddhartha relived his inability to relate with other people throughout the majority of his life. However, the divine nature by which development perpetuates itself assures that the protagonist will re-visit the same themes by which a developmental arrest occurs. Siddhartha needed to resolve his inability to love before he could develop love for the Self he sought. While Siddhartha’s childhood ended after he left his parents’ home to pursue his own path, his childhood formed the foundation of the inquisitive nature that lead him to individuate. Siddhartha may be an exemplar of individuated development; however, the path Hesse showed in the story suggests he was a normal individual during his early developmental years. Siddhartha needed to learn the lessons common to his cultural inheritance, questioned the authority of the generation that preceded him, and stood up to his parents in order to pursue his dreams.
Three archetypes prompted Siddhartha’s childhood development. Like all individuals, Siddhartha had a father and a mother. He was a prince, a parallel construct to a divine child. His quest to understand himself caused him to fail at learning how to relate to others, which in turn formed the foundational complex of the shadow that would lead towards his state of Self-realized development.
A Holy Triune is present during his early childhood development: Mother, Father, and Divine Child archetypes stand as a catalyst from which his psychological complexes arose. They also formed the basis from which his individual strength arose, passing on a means to develop the self-introspection and understanding needed to traverse unknown territory in a journey of self-discovery. It is through this initial dynamic, that Siddhartha separated from, individuated within, and eventually developed the deep practices of self-introspection needed to attain an individuated state of consciousness. Siddhartha’s early childhood relationship with his parents, friends, community, successes, and failures formed the cornerstone from which he would develop the very shadow material needed to realize his full potential.
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