Jung: The individual is a vessel of life

 

From an interview of CG Jung by Georg Gerster conducted on June 7, 1960, for broadcast on the Swiss radio network, as found in the book CG Jung speaking.

G: “When I asked you earlier about a critique of our civilization I… was thinking of the problem of our time, as they say. There must have been periods when man’s relations with the unconscious through various other channels of communication were infinitely more alive than they are today.”

J: “Yes, there is no doubt that it was only the 19th century that broke with this tradition and became increasingly intellectual, with the result that a lot of vitally necessary things have become obsolete. Just think of the crisis of Christianity we are passing through today — it simply means that we have lost all sense of its necessity. We no longer know what it is good for. In earlier times people knew, in a way. Naturally they had faith, but this faith was rooted in the feeling that the Christian tradition was ‘satisfactory,’ it was something self-evident, part of the picture. Even with scientific books, you need only think of old Scheuchzer, of Zürich who began his scientific works with the story of Creation!”

“Do you see any chance for psychology to do something here? I mean you can’t put the clock back.”

“No, that’s impossible.”

“On the other hand, as a psychologist with these insights, you can’t let the world go its own sweet way!”

“Yes, but what is the voice of a single individual? These things are evidently so difficult to understand that you just can’t talk to people about them. It is amazing how little people understand of such matters. They don’t think about them at all. Naturally, a very great deal could be said in this respect. But, you see, it concerns the individual so very much that it is far too boring for people! Of course, if I knew a remedy that could be injected into 10,000 people at one go, that would be popular, especially if one didn’t have to do anything about it oneself. But the very idea that you should begin with yourself, that is totally out of the question! One must always have something that is good for 100,000, for a million people, but not for the individual, he is far too uninteresting.

“We have been so convinced by science how nugatory a human life is, and contemporary history has indeed demonstrated before our eyes how human lives count for nothing. And the individual is so utterly convinced of his nothingness that he makes no effort to get anywhere with himself, to develop himself inwardly in any way. It is too hopeless, the individual is nothing, and is naturally a false view that the individual is nothing. The individual is a vessel of life. Every individual is the bearer of life, and life is worn only by individuals. It does not exist in itself, there is no life of the millions. That is nonsense, but millions of individuals are vessels of life and for each of them the problem of the individual is the whole problem. And then they say: ‘Yes, but look at So-and-so, that’s no vessel of life!’ The individual is banalized, you see. Most people get discouraged.

“The theologians surely ought to be convinced that the individual soul is the vessel of life, and the thing of greatest importance. Yet a theologian told me himself: ‘We must get through to the masses. If we tried to treat every single individual we would never get anywhere!’ I said: ‘Well, how did Christianity conquer the world in the first place? It always went from individual to individual.’

“…. But taking yourself seriously is considered improper, you’re an eccentric, putting on self-important airs, etc. Everywhere you come up against this depreciation of the human psyche. Of course when you say ‘the human psyche’ everyone thinks it’s fine, it is someone else’s affair, but I myself and what I do are not considered at all. If nobody bothers about his own psyche, then there is nothing you can do from the psychological angle, you can only say how things are and make yourself unpopular!”

 

Three books that will make a difference in your life

Friends,

About a decade ago, by way of an email from Colin Wilson, I got to know a remarkable Englishman, about my age, named Robert Clarke. Robert was a quiet man who had been led through the individuation process by the works of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and, remarkably, by some 30,000 dreams. These dreams, and that process, changed a relatively uneducated man into an independent scholar and mystic. Delving deeply into the realms of philosophy, religion, and psychology, he discovered unsuspected connections between the world of the unconscious and the world of our history, tradition, and scriptures, because the things that scripture and mythology describe, he had experienced as spontaneous productions from his own dream world. In other words, he had experienced just the process that Carl Jung’s work described.

Robert and I met only twice (when I visited England in 2003 and 2007 specifically to see him) but via email he and I became friends, or perhaps I should say we discovered that we were already friends and just hadn’t yet discoverer each other. Hampton Roads published his first two books, which sold modestly and not nearly as well as they deserved to do.

Then last spring he emailed me to say that he had only a few months to live, because the cancer that had been found was pretty far advanced. He was fine with dying – we owe God a death, and he who dies this year is quit for the next, after all, and Robert had long since lost any doubts he had ever had about immortality – but he had three unpublished manuscripts, and he hated to think that the work he had put into them might have been for nothing.

As he had no better prospects, I told him I would publish them. Robert died last fall, but not before he had a chance to review and approve my content-editing.

Today, nearly a year after his death, the books are produced and in house, ready for sale. I think they’re pretty important.

The Royal Line of Christ the Logos shows how the West lost its way when it began to regard the Christian mystery as an outdated superstition. This, in turn, happened because Christian orthodoxy ceased to realize that the Christ phenomenon was not a matter of someone’s biography but was a as a concrete, explicit expression of the psychological process of individuation. Gnostic Christians retained this understanding. (Robert explains that the Gnostics’ teachings sprang from direct experience, and that “these sects, largely Christian in esoteric ways, existed side-by-side with the orthodox Christians. Their teachings were based upon direct inner experience. Like Jung, the Gnostics had no need to merely believe, they knew.”) But the hierarchy did not, and the exoteric view they taught people ultimately failed, which is where we are now. In The Royal Line of Christ the Logos, Robert shows the path not taken.

Books such as Holy Blood, Holy Grail assert that Jesus was the originator of an actual physical bloodline. In The Grail, the Stone and the Mystics, Robert shows why he believed that this is a materialist misunderstanding. The Grail legends refer to psychological processes — the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene as the sacred marriage through the unconscious, and the child is the divine child in the inner processes, ultimately what the Greek mysteries called the Logos. Using insights from the work of Carrion and from his own individuation processes, he investigates the related subjects of the Grail, the philosopher’s stone, alchemy, and the visions of saints such as St. Teresa of Avila.

The Sacred Journey is in two parts. Part one presents a remarkable treatise on Jung and his discoveries and what they mean to the world—particularly the West. Part two is divided among several elements: Mme. Blavatsky, Frederick Nietzsche, Marian visions, UFOs, and aliens. What holds the book together is that all of these elements in their own way further develop the theme of the interconnection of history (culture, civilization, etc.) and the processes and manifestations of the unconscious as experienced by individuals. The result is a stimulating re-visioning of what has been going on around us for the past hundred years—and an equally stimulating suggestion as to what lies ahead.

Thanks to the behind-the-scenes wizardry of my friend Rich Spees, webmaster extraordinaire, all three books are now available on my website, www.hologrambooks.com, and can be ordered separately or at a combined price that will save you a few dollars.

Trust me, this is important work, worthy of your time.

The Coming Evangelical Collapse

Sometimes a blog can be a time machine. For some reason unknown to my conscious mind, a minute ago I went looking in the March 2009 Archive and found this, which I find extraordinarily interesting, and which I can’t quite remember reading, let alone posting.

Gives me hope that my past-life review will be more interesting than I sometimes think! But then, I am so rarely really “here,” really conscious, that I have said that much of my past-life review will be a first-run movie!

Anyway, this extraordinarily interesting message from a man who calls himself the internet monk.

http://hologrambooks.com/hologrambooksblog/index.php/2009/03/11/the-coming-evangelical-collapse

Deriding today’s idols

John Anthony West derides what he calls the Church of Progress. Me too. I am really tired of people pretending they are profound when in fact they are merely sheep following trends. The trend of the past tiresome century, and this one to date, is to regard religion as superstition, as if  blind faith in “progress” or in “science” were anything but superstition.

A friend’s comments since I posted this reminds me that I should make clear that of course I did not mean that everyone who rejects religion does so only because it is fashionable to do so – merely that it is the fashion to do so, and the sheep do go that way. As to creeds, I believe it was Jung who said that the gods never reinhabit the temples they once abandon. Similarly, the old formulaic Christianity (and Judaism, and Islam, and Buddhism, and Hinduism, I would argue) is not something we can or should go back to; however, it (whichever one we were raised in) is likely part of what we step off from.  

This piece, via my brother who called it to my attention a while ago, from The New York Times http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/god-talk/?emc=eta1 .

God Talk

 Stanley Fish

In the opening sentence of the last chapter of his new book, “Reason, Faith and Revolution,” the British critic Terry Eagleton asks, “Why are the most unlikely people, including myself, suddenly talking about God?” His answer, elaborated in prose that is alternately witty, scabrous and angry, is that the other candidates for guidance – science, reason, liberalism, capitalism – just don’t deliver what is ultimately needed. “What other symbolic form,” he queries, “has managed to forge such direct links between the most universal and absolute of truths and the everyday practices of countless millions of men and women?”

Continue reading Deriding today’s idols

“It is in the very dogma and authority that you distrust …”

Once you get the knack of talking to the other side, any little journal entry may turn out to become an entry into a new dimension. Sometimes you get knocked for a loop.

Continue reading “It is in the very dogma and authority that you distrust …”

Something else took over — Michael Ventura column

I have a number of very intelligent friends who nonetheless seem to believe that the world’s events are pre-determined by a relatively small number of people engaged in conspiracies. I have no doubt that conspiracies exist, and that some of them succeed. (I am, after all, of the generation that in its youth, within five years, saw the public murder of JFK, RFK and Martin Luther King, all supposedly the work of deranged lone gunmen.) Still, mostly life doesnt happen that way. Not every conspiracy is put together from this side of the veil. Michael Ventura’s latest column in The Austin (Texas) Chronicle is a case in point.

MICHAEL VENTURA

LETTERS AT 3AM –
THE MOM, THE BOOK, THE KID AND THE NUN

– Austin Chronicle –
May 22, 2009

    Psychology and sociology pretty much explain my life until about age 10. After that, something else, for which I have no name, took over.
    My mother must have pondered what to do with her 10-year-old when New York City’s public school system informed her the kid’s reading score was that of a high school senior. Or junior. It was an “nior” sound. I can’t swear which. What with caring for 5-year-old twins and a 3-year-old, Mama hadn’t much to spare for her eldest anymore. (Pa, he went thataway months before.) But she made time to discover the Landmark Book Club, which sent out volumes designed for curious children.
    I’d been reading encyclopedias hungrily since the end of third grade, but a Landmark volume, The Wright Brothers, was the first hardcover that was all my own, read again and again until the next arrived, The First Men in the World — a book that changed our lives. On its colorful jacket a mastodon upset two blond men clad in furs. They held spears. Cro-Magnon men they were, successors to Neanderthals. Difficult, now, to express or decipher my love for that book – read it so many times it was almost memorized, until the word “evolution” seemed, magically, the key to all mystery.
    Wednesdays, Catholic kids left public school early to attend catechism classes at a Catholic school. We were instructed in our religion by a stern nun whose name I’ve forgotten. Came her lesson on Adam and Eve, I eagerly raised my hand and explained that Adam and Eve must have been Cro-Magnons, or perhaps Neanderthals. The word “evolution” passed my lips. Sister bade me step forth and put my hand on her desk, palm down. She rapped my knuckles with six swift strokes of a wooden ruler.
    I didn’t resent the punishment as such. If you messed up, you got hit. That’s how things were. But I’d never been good at anything, and here it was recognized by no less an entity than New York City that I was good at something, even if it was only reading – not much street cred for reading, but better than nothing. That nun’s ruler drove me to tearful fury. I declared I was standing up for truths I’d discovered, but really my response had more to do with pride. To be punished for the one thing I was good at was more than my 10-year-old pride could tolerate.
    “I’m never going back there,” I announced to my mother when I got home. “I’m not a Catholic anymore.”
    I meant it, and my mother took me at my word. I was that kind of kid and she was that kind of mother.
   We searched for a different church. Tried Quaker services twice, our tribe of five dressed in our best and even the twins awed into stillness. But Mama probably figured that, being Sicilian, we’d make lousy Quakers.
    Next came a church with a name that didn’t sound religious: Unitarian. Mama attended the service while my siblings and I were put into Sunday school classes by age. What was discussed in my first Sunday school session? Evolution! I was overjoyed. What a church! I needn’t believe in God, I needn’t believe in anything, and the people were so nice. As far as I ever learned, a commitment to reason and kindness was the ideal of Unitarian belief. For them, the word “God” seemed to mean the principle of reason in a reasonable universe. (Not until I grew up did that seem as naïve a notion as any in Christendom.)
    Now my tale becomes intricate and long, but its telling must be brief.
    At that Unitarian Sunday school, I met Dave. Remember that name. Poverty and insanity plagued my family, and when I was 13 it fell apart. I was on my own. After a circuitous, solitary and serendipitous journey, a Unitarian minister’s family took me in, saving my life, while All Souls Unitarian Church of Manhattan supplied funds for my support. I attended a small, extraordinary high school, Coburn Classical Institute, in Waterville, Maine, where Mr. Carlo, Mr. Judson and Mrs. Willard taught English and history remarkably well. Without them I could not have become a writer. (I would spend two fragmentary years at colleges where education wasn’t nearly as rigorous. Those Coburn teachers constituted all my formal education.) Throughout high school Dave and I kept in touch.
    And here it gets weird. Stripped of nuance, it goes like this.
    I’m 20-ish. My siblings, my mother, and I live in a 2-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. Mama works as a file clerk, I’m a typist, and we make ends meet. While I’m doing that, enter Irene and Anne – women my age, of whose existence I am unaware. They meet by chance at a hostel in Europe. Their meeting is the most pivotal event of my adult life, and I wasn’t even there. Had no idea.
    Not much time passes. Anne meets Dave. They marry. More time passes. Irene is now in New Mexico, where she meets Janette. Janette goes back to her native Texas to be with her boyfriend, Butch, in Lubbock. Irene drifts to Lubbock. Irene meets Crash. Crash has never seen the sea.
    By this time, Anne and Dave live in Oakland. I’m drifting around the country, 27-ish by now. I stay a few weeks in Oakland with Anne and Dave, then head to Santa Cruz to live on the sofa of Sarah and Duke – Duke being a friend met at a Unitarian summer camp during high school. Irene and Crash visit Dave and Anne so that Crash can see the sea. I visit Dave and Anne while Irene and Crash are there. I’m about to hitchhike to Nashville for Mikey’s wedding. Crash invites me to ride with him and Irene as far as Lubbock. I’d never heard of Lubbock. I go with them and stay at 14th Street and Avenue W during a snowstorm — among other residents of that house are Butch Hancock, Joe Ely and Jimmy Dale Gilmore. I dig it there. I bus to Nashville for Mikey’s wedding, hitch to New York to see my family, get a ride to Boston to see friends, and run into Watson, who was a camper in my cabin when I was a high school counselor at that Unitarian camp. Watson tells me he’s about to drive to New Mexico. I say, “Drop me off in Lubbock.” After two years in the Panhandle I drift down to Austin just as some wildcat journalists start The Austin Sun. They give me a job. The rest of my life happens next: 30-odd years, so far, as a working writer.
    (A strange aside: I’d decided not to visit Dave and Anne’s for dinner with Irene and Crash. But, when standing quite alone, a voice said, “Go. It will change your life.” Cross-my-heart-and-spit, that happened.)
    If Mama hadn’t subscribed to a book club… if I hadn’t protested my punishment… if Mama hadn’t found the Unitarians… if, through them, I hadn’t met Dave, Duke, and Watson, and gone to camp and Coburn… if Irene hadn’t met Anne, if Anne hadn’t met Dave… if Mikey hadn’t married Martha… if Irene hadn’t met Janette and Crash… well, my life is unimaginable without all that, yet these crisscrossing meetings had little to do with me. What does one make of a pattern like this? What does one call it? How does one possibly untangle its elements?
    That nun, whom I’ve maligned all my life – now I see that had she been tolerant and kind, she’d have ruined me! Nothing that guided my path after age 10 would have happened. What does one do with a fact like that?
    Every now and again I go to Mass. I sit in the back. I like the atmosphere of Catholicism. Next time I mean to light a candle for that nun, thanking her and the saints she believed in – the Blessed Mother who looks after children, Saint Christopher who guides wanderers, and Saint Anthony who finds what’s lost. Her vehement faith and stern ways had as much to do with setting me on my path as anything else, and, until now, I’ve never thanked her.
   How did G’Kar of Babylon 5 put it? “A brilliant cascade of cause and effect. Isn’t the universe an amazing place? I wouldn’t live anywhere else!”
   My nun would have expressed the same idea differently: “God works in mysterious ways.”

Deriding today’s idols

I am right there with John Anthony West in deriding what he calls the Church of Progress. I am really tired of people pretending they are profound when in fact they are merely sheep following trends. The trend of the past tiresome century, and this one to date, is to regard religion as superstition, as if  blind faith in “progress” or in “science” were anything but superstition.

This piece, via my brother who called it to my attention, from The New York Times http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/god-talk/?emc=eta1 .

God Talk

 Stanley Fish

In the opening sentence of the last chapter of his new book, “Reason, Faith and Revolution,” the British critic Terry Eagleton asks, “Why are the most unlikely people, including myself, suddenly talking about God?” His answer, elaborated in prose that is alternately witty, scabrous and angry, is that the other candidates for guidance – science, reason, liberalism, capitalism – just don’t deliver what is ultimately needed. “What other symbolic form,” he queries, “has managed to forge such direct links between the most universal and absolute of truths and the everyday practices of countless millions of men and women?”

Continue reading Deriding today’s idols