One of the main sources of misunderstanding of the nature and magnitude of Jung's contribution to the life of our time, is due to the assumption as common, alas, among his followers as among others, that his overriding interest was in what he came to call "the collective unconscious" in man. It is true he was the first to discover and explore the collective unconscious and to give it a truly contemporary relevance and meaning. But, ultimately it was not the mystery of this universal unknown in the mind of man but a far greater mystery that obsessed his spirit and compelled all his seeking, and that was the mystery of consciousness, and its relationship with the great unconscious.
It is not surprising, therefor, that he was the first to establish the existence of the greatest and most meaningful of all paradoxes: the unconscious and the conscious exist in a profound state of interdependence of each other and the well-being of one is impossible without the well-being of the other. If ever the connection between these two great states of being is diminished or impaired, man becomes sick and deprived of meaning; if the flow between one and the other is interrupted for long, the human spirit and life on earth are re-plunged into chaos and old night. Consciousness for him is therefor not, as it is for instance for the logical positivists of our day, merely an intellectual and rational state of mind and spirit. It is not something which depends solely on man's capacity for articulation, as some schools of modern philosophy maintain to the point of claiming that that which cannot be articulated verbally and rationally is meaningless and not worthy of expression. On the contrary, he proved empirically that consciousness is not just a rational process and that modern man precisely is sick and deprived of meaning because, for centuries now since the renaissance, he has increasingly pursued a slanted development on the assumption that consciousness and the powers of reason are one and the same thing.
Laurens van der Post