"The formula presents a symbol of the self, for the self is not just a stable quantity or constant form, but is also a dynamic process. In the same way, the ancients saw the imago Dei in man not as a mere imprint, as a sort of lifeless, stereotyped impression, but as an active force.... The four transformations represent a process of restoration or rejuvenation taking place, as it were, inside the self...."
"The formula reproduces exactly the essential features of the symbolic process of transformation. It shows the rotation of the mandala, the antithetical play of complementary (or compensatory) processes, then the apocatastasis, i.e., the restoration of an original state of wholeness, which the alchemists expressed through the symbol of the uroboros, and finally the formula repeats the ancient alchemical tetrameria, which is implicit in the fourfold structure of unity.
What the formula can only hint at, however, is the higher plane that is reached through the process of transformation and integration. The 'sublimation' or progress or qualitative change consists in an unfolding of totality into four parts four times, which means nothing less than its becoming conscious. When psychic contents are split up into four aspects, it means that they have been subjected to discrimination by the four orienting functions of consciousness. Only the production of these four aspects makes a total description possible. The process depicted by our formula changes the originally unconscious totality into a conscious one."
-- Jung, Collected Works,
Vol. 9, Part 2,Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self (1951)
"Although 'wholeness' seems at first sight to be
nothing but an abstract idea (like anima and animus), it is
nevertheless empirical in so far as it is anticipated by the psyche in
the form of spontaneous or autonomous symbols. These are the quaternity
or mandala symbols, which occur not only in the dreams of modern people
who have never heard of them, but are widely disseminated in the
historical recods of many peoples and many epochs. Their significance
as symbols of unity and totality is amply confirmed by history
as well as by empirical psychology. What at first looks like an
abstract idea stands in reality for something that exists and can be
experienced, that demonstrates its a priori presence
spontaneously. Wholeness is thus an objective factor that confronts the
subject independently of him... Unity and totality stand at the highest
point on the scale of objective values because their symbols can no
longer be distinguished from the imago Dei. Hence all
statements about the God-image apply also to the empirical symbols of
-- Jung, Aion, as quoted in
Carl Jung and Thomas Merton