The Archetypes of Confucius and Carl Jung

With Guest: Pia Giammasi

Episode Qi120

Archetypes are deep influences that all humans share. They give us a glimpse into the complicated landscape of our psyche. They can live in the light or influence from the dark. Carl Jung had a lot to say about our intrapsychic world, how these influences are shared across culture and time, and how they manifest in personal and societal behavior. And while they are separated by the distance of culture and thousands of years Confucius had a lot to say that rhymes with the Jungian ideas on Being, Doing, Thinking and Feeling.

Listen into this conversation with a translator of Buddhist texts who also has a background in
Chinese medicine for a discussion on the similarities in outlook between these two great influencers and thinkers.
In this conversation we discuss:
  • The first glimpse of a connection be Confucius and Jung
  • Archetypal images of being, doing, thinking and touching
  • Master Nan and Confucius lived in similar times
  • The problem with using simplified characters
  • The Yi Jing is the basis for so much Chinese thought
  • Understanding benevolence and the character Ren 仁
  • The energy of being
  • How do you entice people to be respectful and faithful?
  • The energy of doing
  • The power of thinking and learning
  • Learn as if what you already knew was inadequate and as if you might lose what you have already learned
  • Understanding through feeling
“The more you cultivate the ability to remain in a state of sustained, uninterrupted, relaxed, quiet observation enlivened by curiosity, the better you will be able to wield and grow your healing tools. The more you fall into jumping to conclusions, ignoring your gut feelings, observing through the lens of preconceived notions, the less information you actually glean from your patients and the less you will have access to your innate abilities.”
Pia Giammasi
A yearning to access the deep wisdom of the East brought me to Asia in the mid-80’s and, due to its depth, I am still here in 2020 with much to learn yet. My first time living in Taipei, I was in a very small scooter accident which left me with a numb leg from the knee down. One acupuncture treatment and the numbness was gone. I was awed and also, being able to feel energy meridians, intuitively understood healing through energy manipulation. The circuitous path of my life has taken me in and out of monasteries, countries, occupations, healing modalities and understandings. If my life activities were a horizontal line graph, you would see layers of alternative healing (TCM, movement, sound, etc.), Buddhism (traditions, teachers, sutras…), Chinese culture (philosophies, the Way of Tea, I-Ching, martial arts, guchin and so on), translation, teaching, yoga, international NGO work, voice recording, and so forth, interactively influencing each other’s growth and progress.

My understanding of health, well-being and healing seems to be ever expanding. Once you have deeply seen/understood/accepted inter-being, the boundary between microcosm and macrocosm can be drawn at various levels of the time-space continuum. Healing—understood as bringing different elements back into balance—can also happen at the intersections of these micro and macro cosmoi. Therefore, plants, food, sounds, colors, life habits, relationship quality, habitual emotional states and thinking patterns, the place where you sleep, your pets, and so on ad infinitum can all be medicines or poisons so to speak. Once, before I had studied TCM, I had the opportunity to go for a walk along a forest path with a great Tibetan medicine doctor from Sikkim. As we were walking, he asked me, “Do you know these plants? These trees? To most people, they look like weeds, very ordinary and useless. But if you know them, they can all be medicine. Anything can be medicine if you know it well enough.”

King, Warrior, Magician, Lover by Robert Moore is the book that Pia talks about in this conversation.


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I’ve heard it said that for something to be heard — it takes someone to speak and another to listen.

Michael Max

Acupuncturist, Podcast Host
About me
I've always been more drawn to questions than answers. And the practice of medicine seems to more lively when infused with a sense of curiosity and inquiry. It's been delight and honor to be able to discuss our medicine with so many thoughtful and skilled practitioners.

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