Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thus Spake Jung I


I thought it might be helpful to offer a sampling of short quotes from Jung's Red Book. His style was strongly influenced by Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, hence my whimsical title. Another strong influence was Augustine's Confessions; Jung addresses his soul in the style in which Augustine speaks to his God. We'll start with some selections from the first part of the Red Book, Liber Primus.

THE SPIRIT OF THE DEPTHS

"The spirit of the depths from time immemorial and for all the future possesses a greater power than the spirit of this time, who changes with the generations...He took away my belief in science, he robbed me of the joy of explaining things...He forced me down to the last and simplest things." [ch 1 "The Way of What is to Come"]

"The spirit of the depths forced me to speak to my soul. to call upon her as a living and self existing being. I had to become aware that I had lost my soul." [ch 2 "Refinding the Soul"]

DIALOGUES WITH THE SOUL

"The wealth of the soul exists in images." [ch 2]

"My friends, it is wise to nourish the soul, otherwise you will breed dragons and devils in your heart." [ch 2]

"I am weary, my soul...Now I have gone through events and find you behind all of them...You announced yourself to me in advance in dreams. They burned in my heart and drove me to all the boldest acts of daring and forced me to rise above myself. You let me see truths of which I had no previous inkling." [ch 3 "Soul and God"]

DREAMS PAVE THE WAY FOR LIFE

"The spirit of the depths even taught me to consider my action and my decision as dependent on dreams. Dreams pave the way for life, and they determine you without you understanding their language." [ch 3]

"Who can teach and learn [the language of dreams]? Scholarliness alone is not enough; there is a knowledge of the heart that gives deeper insight. The knowledge of the heart is in no book...but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth." [ch 3]

"Dreams are the guiding words of the soul." [ch 3]
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"Because I carried the war in me, I foresaw it." [ch 6 "Splitting the Spirit" - on his prophetic visions in 1913 of the coming Great War]

"We also live in our dreams, we not only live by day. Sometimes we accomplish our greatest deeds in dreams." [ch 7 "Murder of the Hero"]

BE YOUR OWN TASK

"If you give up your self, you live it in others." [ch 10 "Instruction"]

"To live oneself means to be one's own task." [ch 10]

"If you go to thinking, take your heart with you. If you go to love, take your head with you." [ch 11 "Resolution"]
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Source: C.G. Jung, The Red Book: Liber Novus edited by Sonu Shamdasani (New York: Norton, 2009). The more time I spend with this book, the more greatly I admire it as a splendid publishing venture and a portal to the secret springs of Jung's greatest work.

25 comments:

Wanda said...

"Because I carried the war in me, I foresaw it." Many of the quotes you shared spoke to me on a personal dreaming level, but this one in particular tugged at those dreams that bring me to people and places in some future that should logically be unfamiliar to me. It stirs deep within, doesn't it, to consider what we already carry within ourselves that allows us to see ahead of ourselves.

Robert Moss said...

Hi Wanda - and here's another thought from the Red Book (from the last chapter of Liber Primus)that may companion that one: "The future is old and the past is young." More to dream on...

Alla said...

I don't know people who wouldn't carry at least a little bit of war inside... Could it be a seed of a possibility to foresee? :-) Conflict is the moving force of existence, even if it is not about war. How to use it a more productive way? How to succeed every time you deal with it, stepping out without getting wounded? Sometimes it seems to me that it is necessary to get very old in order to accept some things. With the age comes resignation. Maybe, it is only my personal wrong-thinking?
Thank you very much for the post, Robert. I desperately try to keep up with constantly growing pile of my books-to-read, and you always give something new. :-)

vanessa paradis said...
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Alla said...

According to Bhagavat Gita we should fight if we know it is absolutely necessary and if it would bring us victory. Also, I believe, creating a serene space around you would definitely influence the outer world.

As for the arrows, I'm not sure about the chances of being untouched, but it could be quite literal indeed. Many years ago I read about one of the most interesting cases in medicine, when a man (in a drunken scrum? – I’m not sure) was speared in his head with a steel rod, so that the people could see a hole through it. The head was somehow hurriedly banded, and the man was brought to a hospital. He not only survived, but also retained adequacy, memory and was employable. :-)))) How to qualify this incident - good karma or just one of the oddities of life? We tend to create different systems of explanations and beliefs for to motivate ourselves and others, or to get the feeling of being protected. I don't know anything about real statistics of how it works in 100% of the cases, but it seems to me that there are always exceptions to any rules. Reality can’t be fixed rigidly.

Robert, is it ok that I have kind of moved away from the main topic?..

vanessa paradis said...
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diane said...

Hi Robert, Many of these quotes speak truly to me, too. And Wanda, how wonderfully you are able to go to the heart of a thing, touch its roots and unfold it through your words like a flower.

Robert Moss said...

Alla, I'm happy for you to follow the footsteps in the sand, as Jung does on his night journey to the hut of a 3rd century anchorite in the Red Book (Liber Secundus ch 4) that I was studying just now. But in my own comments on this thread, I'll keep to the main theme, honoring Jung's discovery of the need for limits in the face of the "unbounded".

Justin Patrick Moore said...

Thanks for these gems from the Red Book. I'll be copying them into my journal.

To paraphrase Jame P. Carse, "Finite players play within boundaries whereas infinite players play with boundaries."
His book "Finite and Infinite Games" hunted me down at work Saturday as a kind of residue from themes on your previous blog thread.

Robert Moss said...

Justin - James Carse is wonderful on the games of life. On his way to the most hellish night experiences described in the Red Book, Jung has a go at defining "real limits" as opposed to artificial and unviable restrictions we place on ourselves: "Your life will not take kindly to being hemmed in by artificial barriers. Life wants to jump over such barriers and you will fall out with yourself...Therefore try to find your real limits. One never knows them in advance, but one sees and understands them only when one reaches them. And that happens to you only if you have balance." (Liber Secundus ch 2 "The Castle in the Forest").

Carol said...

Thank you Robert, I am going to go look for the Red Book. I have found in my personal library a book I bought many years ago, but never read. Man and His Symbols, conceived and edited by Carl Jung. It was his last published work just before his death. I guess the last may be first, and the first will be later? I don't read you in order either.

Robert Moss said...

Carol - I rarely read sequentially, even within the covers of one book (except for novels that require this) and generally have MANY books on the go at once. However, I feel obliged to go at the Red Book line by line, following Jung step by step through this immense and harrowing night journey. Frankly, this makes tremendous demands on the reader. I felt such revulsion over an episode in chapter 12 of Liber Secundus ("The Sacrificial Murder") that I wanted to hoist this huge book and fling it across the room.

I can think of few reading experiences quite like this, in all my years of devouring books. It is most akin to shamanic journeys and conscious dream tracking in which I have accompanied someone troubled by terrifying imagery through their dream jungles, determined to help them get through and come out into a sunny clearing.

Alla said...

Dear Robert,
Have you read "Aghora" by Robert Svoboda, by chance?..

Robert Moss said...

Alla - Yes, I read "Aghora" and it bis on my shelves. Can't say I enjoyed it or would recommend it except for a person seeking to expand their knowledge of different approaches to the sacred for academic or literary (as opposed to experiential) purposes.

suvasini7 said...

Hello Robert, Savannah shared this link with me and I'm delighted to find you have a blog. Also delighted to find you're diving into the Red Book. I received it as a gift last November and have been studying a few lines at a time when I can.

It's not a fast read by any means! But what a treasure. Having studied Jung's other work, I find the Red Book very illuminating. Here is one favorite quote - I think you shared part of it already:

from p. 249:
"...too many do not want to know where their yearning is, because it would seem to them impossible or too distressing. And yet yearning is the way of life. If you do not acknowledge your yearning, then you do not follow yourself, but go on foreign ways that others have indicated to you. So you do not live your life but... an alien one. But who should live your life if you do not live it?"

Best to you Robert, as always, Cynthia Suvasini

suvasini7 said...
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Alla said...

Thank you, Cynthia! I'm pondering on buying this book; I definitely want it. It's pretty pricey now, though. I wonder if they would print out a more modest version of it, and if yes, then how fast.

Robert Moss said...

Hi Cynthis - It's lovely to hear your voice! The Red Book is indeed not a fast read, and not always an easy one. I've found myself down there with Jung, walking a path that is (on one side) black as hot iron and (on the other) white and cold as ice. After scenes of the making and unmaking of savage gods, hellish torture and anthrophagy, I heaved a sigh of relief at the simplicity and humility of this passage: "When thinking leads to the unthinkable, it is time to return to simple life." (Liber Secundus p.293).

Robert Moss said...

Alla - The Red Book is so expensive because it is partly hand-bound, uses two different kinds of custom-made paper, has all those gorgeous full-color plates and is printed in Italy. Its sales (though modest compared to Stephanie Meyer or Dan Brown) are an extraordinary publishing phenomenon, given the price. The book is so huge that it's hard to imagine a paperback edition with the full content that would not soon fall apart. A slimmed-down, portable "student" edition with just the translation, the editor's intro and a few illustrations would seem to me to be a possibility, and might be used even by some of us who have the full version. However, that would lose the extraordinary, shiverish sense you have - when you handle the current edition - that you are opening a book of forbidden knowledge in an old alchemist's library in a tower on a dark lake.

Alla said...

Well, I've ended with ordering it without further waiting. :-) I can foresee a problem with it, though. -Usually I use a pencil and, sometimes, even a highlighter while reading. In this case I'll obviously not be able to do that. Probably, I'll have to run a parallel notebook...

Robert Moss said...

Alla - Yes, I generally read books with a pencil in hand too. But you won't want to mark THIS book in any way. I went through the Red Book with a dedicated notebook at my right hand, as you propose. Good luck in finding the right way to angle this enormous book as you read!

suvasini7 said...

Robert, I love your descriptions of walking through the Red Book - black hot iron on one side and white cold ice on the other. From the moment I opened its strange and colorful pages and read the first line, I was captivated.

I am pleased so many are undertaking their own journey with the book. But it is no trivial task. I wonder how those unfamiliar with Jung will find the experience. It feels like wrestling with Jung's other work helped make may help my encounter now more meaningful.

For example, I've studied Jung's typology for a few years, but came to it via von Franz and Hillman and then through Meyers and Briggs. Brilliant! After a few years I felt like I was beginning to get the hang of it.

Then I tried to read Jung's original work on typology. It seemed a completely different animal! I could sometimes not make head or tails of it at all. But now, reading about Elijah and Salome and what they said to Jung and how he worked with what they said, I begin to see . . . . ah!

I look forward to hearing the experience of others - especially of dreamers! as they encounter this book.

suvasini7 said...

It's me again. I just re-read my post and hope it is not seen as discouraging anyone from diving into this book!!

Alla, I'm excited you've decided to take the plunge - hope to hear of your own journeys with this book!

The Jungian analyst John Beebe related in a recent lecture that he even purchased 2 copies of the book so that he could look at the color picture in one book while reading the accompanying text (in English) in the other! He also purchased a pulpit to hold the book at a slant because it is rather too big to hold for very long.

We've found a music stand works well to display the book and has adjustable height so we can easily read it comfortably.

John Beebe also purchased a beautiful leather portfolio for transporting the book more easily.

Just some tips for handling this large and beautiful volume!

Robert Moss said...

Hi Cynthia - Jung's "Psychological Types" was probably the first major work he produced after the seethe of experience recorded in the Red Book, and no doubt reflects his need to impose order and boundaries. In the Red Book itself, nothing has settled into Jungian characters. As his editor notes, if you compare the language of the Red Book with the journals (Black Books) on which it is based, you'll find Jung is quite uncertain about the terms he uses for central figures and aspects of the psyche. A figure called "soul" here is called "self" in another place, or "anima" - and then is renamed "bird" or "serpent".

One of the great things about Jung, as he himself noted, is that he was NOT a Jungian. Travel much further forward through his mental trajectory, when his typology of personality types and archetypes is much more solid, and you'll find he is still playing with new vocabulary, ever-willing to move the fences.

By the way, I just read in an excellent recent study of the women in Jung's circle that he became so enraged at Jolande Jacobi, one of the first to make his thinking accessible - and thereby more fixed and boundaried -that he literally pushed her down the stairs outside his consulting room.

suvasini7 said...

Robert, that's a hilarious story about Jolande Jacobi - and is similar to other stories I've heard about her. Yes, Jung was quite clear that he was not a Jungian! Von Franz tells her dream of a kind of zoo with lots of wild animals - that she and Jung understood to symbolize the Jungian community of their time!

Some seem to require order and boundaries more than others. I find order and boundaries can be helpful in some cases while I'm at an early stage of learning. Then later they can get in the way. Other times, they can get in the way right from the beginning.

I like the Red Book because even though it reveals elements of Jung's personal journey, there is nothing to preclude me from taking my own journey right alongside his. And what I encounter is meaningful, terrifying, gratifying and transforming without any mention of frameworks.