Carl Jung: There is little use in teaching wisdom


Found on Facebook, posted by Larry Winters.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Carl Jung: There is little use in teaching wisdom

To Chang Chung-yuan

Dear Sir, 26 June 1950

I have read your pamphlet with great interest and I can tell you that I fundamentally agree
with your views.
I see Taoism in the same light as you do.
I’m a great admirer of Ch’uang-tze’s philosophy.
I was again immersed in the study of his writings when your letter arrived in the midst of it.
You are aware, of course, that Taoism formulates psychological principles which are of a very universal nature.
As a matter of fact, they are so all-embracing that they are, as far as they go, applicable to any part of humanity.

But on the other hand just because Taoist views are so universal, they need a re-translation and specification when it comes to the practical application of their principles.
Of course it is undeniable that general principles are of the highest importance, but it is equally important to know in every detail the way that leads to real understanding.

The danger for the Western mind consists in the mere application of words instead of facts.
What the Western mind needs is the actual experience of the facts that cannot be substituted by words.
Thus I’m chiefly concerned with the ways and methods by which one can make the Western mind aware of the psychological facts underlying the concept of Tao, if the latter can be called a concept at all.
The way you put it is in danger of remaining a mere idealism or an ideology to the Western mind.
If one could arrive at the truth by learning the words of wisdom, then the world would have been saved already in the remote times of Lao-tze.
The trouble is, as Ch’uang-tze rightly says, that the old masters failed to enlighten the world, since there weren’t minds enough that could be enlightened.
There is little use in teaching wisdom.
At all events wisdom cannot be taught by words.
It is only possible by personal contact and by immediate experience.
The great and almost insurmountable difficulty consists in the question of the ways and means to induce people to make the indispensable psychological experiences that open their eyes to the underlying truth.
The truth is one and the same everywhere and I must say that Taoism is one of the most perfect
formulations of it I ever became acquainted with.
Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung

~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 559-560

15 thoughts on “Carl Jung: There is little use in teaching wisdom

  1. VERY Interesting Frank. Always educational, thank you.
    I became very curious as usual, looking up explanations about Taoism on the net, about the historical, the ancient, and modern interpretation of it. Hm, why am I always a bit suspicious when some teachings say “It Is The Only Way” to reach Enlightenment ? AHA ! A light-bulb came on in my head while I was sitting here behind my old PC…. What if ALL ways (probably always) are “The One Way? (Smiling too). And questioning myself in “How The Perspective of Time” is taken into consideration about Tao; wrapping my mind about it at large. Especially what Seth says about other dimensions & parallel existences: We are doing all the things simultaneously within all sorts of “Framework.”
    BTW: Do you recall the old western with a song titled: “I was born under a wandering Star”? I recall the melody and the deep male voice but cannot recall the singer. Okay, I now have to look it up on YouTube again. It must be about Texas in the old movie ?
    B&B, Inger Lise

    1. I recall the song, but not the singer. I’m not the guy to ask about Texas! 🙂 It does sound like a song from a movie.
      I’d be interested in more about your insight about every way being “the only way.”

      1. Hi Frank.
        It is Lee Marvin in “Paint Your Wagon”: And the song-theme: I WAS born under A Wandering Star.
        I could not but listen to the song ” Ghost Riders in The Sky” by Johnny Cash as well (when at first looking into “UTube).”

        Hm, well, cannot explain exactly WHERE the idea about “all ways are the One Way,” came from (into my head) all of a sudden. I may asking about it before going to sleep tonight and see if to receive any explanation to the same ? Somehow the dreams are more “clearly pictured” when asking about the things.
        B&B, Inger Lise.

        1. Boy, that brings me back. In 1970 my wife and I were in London, at the end of several weeks of Europe, tired of traveling and ready to go home. We went to the movies and saw that movie, and even though the plot was sort of stupid, i sat there (after five or six weeks of European spaces and cities) absolutely intoxicated with the space and wildness of the scenery. I’ve never forgotten listening to them sing “Mariah” — what a sense of loneliness and vast surroundings.

          1. Yes, absolutely agree Frank.
            Funny though. You & Wife in London watching the movie. At the same year, in 1970, my husband and I am living among the american troops in Bangkok. Memories are rather peculiar when thinking about it.
            Many times it is felt as dreaming and not real.
            What a difference from todays living, not to mention the public difference in making movies and films….and songs.

            Humming and singing the song by Engelbert Humperdinck. He had a warm and soft voice: ” Another Time, Another Place, I see you standing there and say hello my friend….” etc.etc. And I am absolutely NO romancer believe it or not but love to dance (laughs).
            LOL, Inger Lise.

  2. I remembered Clint Eastwood singing in that movie, too, and looked it up. He sang two songs: I Talk to the Trees and Gold Fever. Too funny what we remember.

    1. Jane, I am thinking in us so called “ordinary” people, and with an somewhat “ordinary”, or “normal standard” of upbringing within a so called ” normal ” family-life and surroundings ….
      We do have a lot of HAPPY memories in bringing forth. I have come to see now how lucky I was. Europe at large worked hard rebuilding their own countries in the 1950-60s( Sweden was NOT occupied by Nazi-Germany as Denmark and Norway were for 5 years ).
      Back in the 1950-60s to have all the freedom to do anything I wanted to do. And among them to go and watch all the old American western movies, which I have loved from early childhood. AND likewise the American Broadway musicals. Norway became more or less “Americanized” after WWII. But of course all three Scandinavian countries with their inhabitants had long history back (before that time), in settlements in the U.S., and Canada. It is not far from the truth to say almost each Scandinavian family in former generations has some American ( or Canadian) relatives from old.
      At least MY generation. But we were FEW inhabitants only 40 years back in time, and very easy back then to recognize each others outlook. And placing each other so to speak. We could “see” whom came from Denmark, and who came from Sweden & Finland, and who came from Norway….VERY FUNNY indeed. The Finnish people a bit different of course, ha, ha !
      I had some American friends come for a visit ten years back and they were asking me with surprised voices, looking about us when walking in the streets of Oslo: ” WHERE are the Norwegians?” Because they thought to have come to the middle east somewhere, they could only watch peoples with black hair and dark skin (and some with the burkas
      )…. HM, I am NOT a racist my dear, but sometimes it IS felt very strange.
      Love & Delight, Inger Lise.
      P.S. AND KRISTIINA…..FINDHORN in Scotland is one of such Perfect Communities. At least it is a beginning to new sophisticated/spiritual living.

      1. So interesting, Inger Lise! I married a Norwegian man. His mother (Ruth Ahlquist DeGroot) was a first-generation Norwegian, one of 12 children whose family homesteaded the “bad lands” of Eastern Montana. She had so many stories of the old country and life in the new country, I wish she or I had written them down. She was a remarkable woman. I have students now on scholarship from Norway, the Netherlands, and Denmark (and students from the Middle East, too). Another reminder of how our lives cross and connect, always.
        And I still listen to old Broadway tunes when I’m working at my computer. Love them!
        Thanks, Inger Lise. It’s a pleasure talking to you.

      2. Inger Lise, I always appreciate your Scandinavian insight and humor. Like Jane, I also have a Norwegian connection. My great grandparents (Peder and Mathilde Engelstad) were homesteaders in the Dakota Territory (Thief River Falls, Minnesota) in the late 1800’s. They came from the area around Hamar (Hedmark) Norway. My grandfather wrote a detailed family history that included descriptions of daily life on the Engelstad farm. As a funny side note related to his descriptions of the home healing remedies used on the farm, my grandfather warned the reader that “the author does not recommend them” (most likely from personal experience – lol, he was the youngest of 13).

        I had some thoughts related to Inger Lise’s idea of “ALL ways are the one way to reach enlightenment”:

        Every incarnation is a unique combination of strands (perspectives) and all their resonances. This combination of energies interfaces with specific historic and geographic contexts including family structure etc. As a result, there are many variables that lead us along the path of 3D life. We may resonate with certain spiritual traditions or may be indifferent to or repelled by others. In some incarnations we may be atheists. These spiritual resonances may fluctuate in the same lifetime.

        Different spiritual traditions resonate with our level of consciousness (the level of awareness of our connection with the All-D). Level of consciousness has no value judgement, rather it corresponds with each incarnation’s unique make-up. Some incarnations may be too short for spiritual or philosophical viewpoints to develop in the 3D but each incarnation is purposeful. At a deeper level we are already enlightened (in the state of unity).


        1. WOW Karla ! Yes, absolutely agree. I am saying the same as Frank: It makes sense to me, also.”

          As for the Norwegian/Scandnavian heritage … The family name ENGELSTAD at HEDMARK county is easy to find. Back then, VERY FEW inhabitants in this country.
          My sister & husband live in the surroundings of the Hamar/Hedmarken district which is not far from the Swedish border. Her husband is from the inland district with the borders to Sweden. His family came from FINLAND in the 17th century and settled, making a farm in Norway. The same farm has been in the same family for nearly 450 years.

          LOL, Inger Lise.

          My sister and I were born in Oslo. Nowadays I am living at the opposite direction of the inland-area in the country….. I am living at the west-coast, two hours drive from the “oil/gas” city of Stavanger, as my husband came “from the coastline.”

          The coastline and the inland areas are very differently from each others by nature and weather conditions.

          As for the Scandinavian humour my friend…. It was and is, I`ll guess, a necessity for “the harsh conditions” of survival.

          More Norwegian humour to tell you when reading one article with an headline here the other day: AS for the INTEGRATION of or NEW citizens it behooves in changing our national hymn for our King ( Norway adopted the English National Hymn in 1905 when we became free from Sweden to include our NEW Danish KIng with and ENGLISH PRINCESS AS A WIFE );
          As all of you know the English National Hymn beginning: ” GOD SAVE OUR PRECIOUS KING ( King in Norway, and the QUEEN IN ENGLAND )….. The headline of the news paper said to change the text to begin with: ” ALllah save our precious King ” instead the word “God” to show our tolerance !
          I laughed as much as I fell apart … BECAUSE it is told in such a way as YOU HAVE TO LAUGH. And nobody took the humour as hurtful or ironical, because the majority of the native Norwegians are atheists. They simply don`t care about it, just shaking their heads.
          The headline came the day after our King Harald gave a speech about TOLERANCE and embracing our diversities & new citizens.
          You cannot compare our Royal family with all the other Royalties in Europe…. No “downstairs” or “upstairs” with them…..The Norwegian Royal family is very popular among the population.
          They have NOTHING to say anymore when it comes to politics of course, they are only front-figures and nice ambassadors for the country.
          And yes, THE STRANDS still working by no doubt.

          BTW: Very nice weather today, but it is easy to tell the autumn is on its way nowadays….more chilly air.

          Bliss & Blessings, Inger Lise.

  3. Whee, so timely, as it always seems. Just living my life, the clear starry skies of the evening, at work taking a break and watching out a 4th floor window, watching a feather float smoothly upwards in some invisible gentle updraft – as if everything is there/here. All the frantic seeking, squeezing myself to “get” something better out of myself – while being framed by the other side. The other side that is this, too. The rigidity of the brain, the linear thinking rut, seems to soften. Thoughts appear more like fragrances, floating in their way, me watching with curiosity. And witnessing the recurring anger-thoughts, too. The tendengy to get stuck in them, to chew and chew, as if there was something juicy in them. Brain seems more and more like a lousy program full of kinks. And there is a feel of something, a field of something that is clothed in “this”, is it 3D, or what to call it? That field of something is not words. The experience of this is the interface to that field. Not the thinking/words/stories. The wholeness of experience is the interface.

    The concept of last lives keeps popping up in my mind. Rounding up the experiences to fulfill a certain phase. I keep asking myself is this my death approaching? Because it is as if I have made my accounts clear now. Peace with who I am. Feeling quite healthy, though, and no ill forebodings. Except, of course culturally – we are in a dead end as a culture.

    1. I keep this quotation in my email signatures file:
      “The transition from tenseness, self-responsibility, and worry, to equanimity, receptivity, and peace, is the most wonderful of all those shiftings of inner equilibrium, those changes of the personal center of energy, which I have analyzed so often; and the chief wonder of it is that it so often comes about, not by doing, but by simply relaxing and throwing the burden down.”
      — William James

  4. FB is such an interesting thing. Happened on this: “Many people dedicate their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like, rather than actualizing themselves. This difference between self-actualization and self-image actualization is very important. Most people live only for their image.” ~Bruce Lee
    Just so interesting to think about how would everything look like if we took this seriously. Because the culturally transmitted self-image, and what we do to conform to it is what is making the trouble we are calling upon ourselves. How would it be to live from inside out, not just as a secret life, but as communities and societies?

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