Jung on some dreams of the church

[The process is always perplexing. If Jung, how could he get part of the dream wrong? Therefore presumably not Jung, or not entirely Jung. I fall back again on my usual mantra, does the material resonate?]
Thursday, August 10, 2015
F: 5 a.m. Dr. Jung, I remembered, last night, a dream I had on my visit to the island of Iona, back in 2003. But when I went looking in my computer journals for an account of the dream, I found that I had remembered it wrongly. It wasn’t one dream but two, and they didn’t say quite what I thought I remembered them saying. At the moment, though, I am a little surprised that I could have forgotten them at all, or that they should come to mind now.
CGJ: Fill in the dreams and we can discuss them. Tomorrow, if you don’t care to do so at the moment.
F: I could find them and print them out now, if you think dealing with the computer won’t put me in too exterior a mood.
CGJ: “It” won’t put anybody into any kind of mood. “It” may lure you if you are conflicted, or may surprise you if you are unconscious. But if you are aware and intent, why should doing anything for any reason change your orientation?

F: But we aren’t very conscious usually, nor very intent.
CGJ: Being aware of lack of awareness is the antidote.
F: We’ll see. I’ll be back in a few minutes. Let’s see how many: it is 5:08 now.
5:18. Well, that was interesting, to say the least. I go up to my office and I find the computer left on, the Iona file already on screen, where apparently I had left it last night. I never leave the computer on when I’m finished with it, but put it in sleep mode. Yet there it was. And, although the long narrative is shot through with accounts of dreams, I find what I want easily enough – and find more that would be worth looking at. But I managed to restrain myself and print out just the excerpts I intended to ask about. So I guess I was able to preserve my continuity for ten minutes, anyway.
So how do we proceed?
CGJ: Copy, and re-read, the first dream. Omit the correlations with conscious life and we will look only at the dream.
[Sunday, June 8
“I am in the church that [My Scottish friend] Michael [Ross] and I were in yesterday. There is a service going on, I think.
“Two women go up to the priest – he is in the aisle. They want his help, but I from behind one of them say, “I know what you need, my dear, and I can help you. But it can’t be right now. This is not to do with you, just I don’t have the time right now.” This is accepted by all concerned. From within the dream, I am concerned lest it be 8 a.m. when I’m going to awaken (alarm set) but am glad to realize that it is not yet that, but about 3:30 real time.
“As we were coming out of the church – but still inside, in the aisle, toward the door – there was something. The woman to my left didn’t figure directly in the dream – I’m not sure she said anything – but the dream concerned the four of us, among so many strangers I did not know.
“I note that the priest and the women accepted that I had the knowledge and ability to help the woman. It was not presumption, nor a vying with the priest. I could help her as he (the church, I think) could not, and all concerned knew it. But not just yet – I had something else to do first. I stressed, it wasn’t her fault that I couldn’t help right away, it was that I wasn’t yet free to get to it. But I would be.”
CGJ: The church you had visited had been destroyed during the reformation, and had lain waste for centuries, and had been slowly and laboriously rebuilt in the 20th century. You approved of that [the rebuilding], but were repelled by the present-day church’s leaflets on the walls and by the sight of a flesh-and-blood priest walking by.
F: Yes, I remember that well. I approved, but I was not a part of it and didn’t want to be, or couldn’t. I couldn’t even bring myself to pick up one of the leaflets. That was at Pluscarden, the day before I traveled on alone to Iona.
CGJ: You were one of four [in the dream], of course. The two women, the priest, and you. Three laity and a priest as the fourth. You were with the other two, and yet not with them. They were together, you were behind them, but the three of you were facing the priest, though he too was in the aisle. He was not on the altar, you see, but in the aisle.
F: Not quite him as only another member of the laity, though.
CGJ: No, but not performing his priestly function, either. He embodied that function but he was not in the act of intermediating between humans and the divine.
F: And although I knew I could help one of them, I wasn’t ready yet.
CGJ: Let us say the time wasn’t ready yet. You had something else to do first and so couldn’t help at the moment, but all concerned knew that it was only a matter of time. And your consciousness was aware that in “real life” it wasn’t time either; you didn’t have to leave your dream for external obligations – which fitted smoothly into the dream. Note that you, and the two women – only one of whom needed the help you could give – and the priest were four “among so many strangers” you did not know.
F: I am very much aware that what I don’t know about the dream, you or any analyst would know, or should know.
CGJ: But maybe it isn’t everybody’s business. We don’t analyze in public.
F: All right, but then the second dream?
“Again at 6:15 a.m. I am up to record a dream:
“An experience that was almost suffocating in its intensity. I went into a church and proceeded down, down, down stairs to lower and lower – older and older – levels. I could see I was below the level of our civilization, where the steel foundations for it, the support of the structure, were. Construction was going on and I was concerned that I not interfere or get hurt. At a passageway, a ladder in front of me, a wooden ladder, very tall, of the A-shaped kind. A worker was sitting high up on the wall to the left. The ladder was tilted away from him [tilted onto one set of legs, on the right, its left-hand side in the air] though it was not falling. I gently pulled it down to sit firmly, and walked under it. I came to a level still far above the depths, I thought, though far below our time. But they had a press operating there, though it was not printing, but before printing. They asked if I would lend a hand for a few minutes – and hours later I was happily still there.
“They were not signatures but single sheets 8 ½ by 11 or larger, and were first individually written and colored – in many colors, not just red on black – and the sheets were collated and bound. It was full color printing, before printing, each sheet being individually prepared. [Here I sketched a sheet with the left third of the page being design and the right two-thirds being lines of text.]
“The dream ended there for the moment.”
CGJ: You related it in your mind to my dream of going farther and farther beneath the basement of my house and discovering archaic levels of my psyche. That is a valid association in so far as it concerns the descent into historical realms. Your dream was leading you to the foundations of the church. Steel, thus rigid, modern and strong, and then below the upper levels, construction was going on.
F: Yes, I noticed that vaguely, although naturally I allowed for the vagaries of a dream’s logic. In real life, you don’t construct from the bottom up, nor from the bottom down by further excavation. I mean, you don’t construct from under an existing construction.
CGJ: You persist in contrasting dream reality to “real life” although a part of you knows better.
F: True. Anyway — ?
CGJ: The dream was “almost suffocating in its intensity.” It was meaningful and you knew it was meaningful. This closely concerned your life. You had no doubt of that. You were not part of the construction work going on – you didn’t want to interfere but you didn’t want to get hurt either. In short, you knew to keep your distance.
F: But then there was the ladder.
CGJ: Ahead of you, in the direction you wanted to go, was a man on a very tall wooden (not steel) ladder. [But – I notice upon typing this up – the dream said he was on the wall, and the ladder was tipping away from him. Yet “Jung” proceeded as though my inaccurate recall was correct.] Although a man was sitting on it (that is, although he was not falling), one half of the A-shaped ladder was in the air, an unstable position. You pulled it – gently – until it sat firmly on both sets of legs – and then walked under the ladder and there you found what at first seemed a moment’s useful amusement but which turned out to occupy quite a bit of your time, happily but unconsciously.
Do you customarily walk under ladders? Is that not supposed to be bad luck, as well as perhaps slightly dangerous?
F: I had no sense of danger, and I had no sense of incurring bad luck. I can’t remember if I even thought about walking under the ladder as a sign of bad luck, either in the dream or later, writing it up.
CGJ: You remembered the sensation of working happily with the press and the printers, but you did not pay attention to the fact that you had walked under the ladder you had stabilized, to get there.
F: Does this imply that in fact working further with the printers was a bit of bad luck?
CGJ: It implies that you lost consciousness.
F: And if I hadn’t walked under the ladder?
CGJ: You would have been left with a very different feeling – suffocating in its intensity.”
F: Hmm. So I let myself get diverted.
CGJ: You were told earlier, you couldn’t help the woman yet, that you were not yet free to do so. No one and nothing implied that you were not free because of external circumstances (as if that could really happen, but we are holding to the conscious understanding here).
F: I had things to live, first.
CGJ: That’s one way to look at it. Now continue to the third dream, three days later.
F: Only that one, or the others of which it was part?
CGJ: We cannot do everything at once. Your hour is already over, even allowing for the time spend retrieving the file.
F: All right.
“There was some kind of building work being done in the church. And there was a man working who was somewhat skillful. I was involved with it at a less skilled level. The man had to quit. He couldn’t do it any more, there was something wrong. The posture hurt his feet, or something. I offered to do the work, or was asked, I forget which. The woman in charge of the thing said I had great [force?] The idea was that I could do the job, and otherwise it couldn’t be done.”
CGJ: And the point, as you well knew and know yet, is that otherwise, it couldn’t be done. It doesn’t matter how much more skillful others may be – if only you can do the job, only you can do the job. Do you imagine that I felt up to the task life set for me?
F: I am well aware that this does not refer only to me but to those who read this. I’m merely noting that I know it.
CGJ: Yes – but don’t forget that for you as well as for others there is something only you can do, well or badly, so you do not have the luxury of assuming that it doesn’t matter if you do it, it will be done by somebody else, and perhaps better. Your work can never be done by any but you yourself. Your inner work, your outer work. If you do not do it, your un-done outer work may perhaps be compensated for by the work of another, but it will remain un-done. And who is going to compensate for the work that you, as leader of your particular soul, are responsible to do?
Now, a word or two more, and we will dismiss class for the day. What do you understand the point to be, of today’s exploration?
F: I get that it may be time for me to consider that Iona manuscript again.
CGJ: Not in the form you left it, but in the form you will have to find for it. Yes, and?
F: I always knew that the church was essential but that I couldn’t really be a part of it. I guess this showed me that I could help it get more grounded on the psychic side.
CGJ: They won’t necessarily recognize the assistance, or appreciate it, but yes, demonstrating the everyday-ness of the nonphysical world in its interaction with the physical is a potential reconnection of a social institution with the basis of belief for people. It is an old, old wooden ladder, and a tall one, and the human at the top is not in danger of falling off, nor was the ladder in danger of falling over, but it is better when firmly placed on either side.
And one more thing.
F: It isn’t primarily about me and a manuscript, or printing, or helping others or placing the church on firmer footing. It is about me orienting myself correctly.
CGJ: I will be very glad to continue our conversation whenever you find it convenient.
F: My thanks, and I think those of others whose interest you arouse now, let alone so many you have helped out of the wilderness in life and in your books. Till next time, then. (6:28 a.m.)

3 thoughts on “Jung on some dreams of the church

  1. Frank,

    If by Iona manuscript you mean the story of the crystal and the monk through time that you once sent me, I would say yes, go for it. I found the piece absolutely riveting, but at the time you seemed fed up with it, even offered it to me to continue which I haven’t been able to do.

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