What follows are the highlights from a discussion on Carl Jung with my brother-in-law, Guy. It began with this Faceborg post:
OK, so I have finally found something substantial to sink my teeth into viz a viz, why Jung is not an *entirely* [edit for Guy] trustworthy source. The above is from p. 405-7 of The System of Antichrist: Truth and Falsehood in Postmodernism and the New Age. Upton drops his argument only half-formulated, which in a way is even more interesting, as it leaves the space open for the reader to complete it. As best as I can sum up his argument:
Point 1: Jung’s unwillingness to posit objective metaphysical dimension combined with materialistic (brain-related) model for consciousness.
Point 2: The notion of an individualistic/modernist approach to truth (rejection of objective reality) by which the “gifted individual” can pick & choose those elements from the archetypal mix of history that suit his or her notion of reality, a precursor to New Age “You create your own reality” belief and to post-modernism, aka, satanism lite.
Point 3: The rejection of morality as restrictive, unscientific, too-subjective, in tandem with the rejection of tradition and the common man is in line with the philosophy of the controlling elites and the creation of a secular religion based on power. (Just trying to unpack it a bit here, not necessarily expressing my own opinions).
It’s too early for me to say but my current feeling is that traditional metaphysics and orthodox (esoteric) religion are closer to objective reality, which is eternal & unchanging, than later adaptations, mutations, degradations, or deviations (depending on your point of view). I base this mostly on my felt sense (and cognitive sense) of where we are at now, collectively, with post-modernist insanity and id-politics. Add to that the evidence that occultism seems to invariably intersect with, provide rationale for, government mind control and organized child abuse (ie, traumagenesis), and that this relates directly to the Promethean core or Will to Power of occultism, modern or pseudo-metaphysics, and New Agism, the primary error of which is to confuse psychic and spiritual realities in order to supplant God with the Ego.
In this regard I am in pretty much full accord with Upton and Guenon that this is the age of Antichrist and that surrender to God (Reality) is the only “path” to take. All that said, we can’t help but BE postmodernist, insofar as we are born into this culture, and for me, a simple return to orthodoxy has not, as yet, been feasible, or even thinkable (until recently). I am beginning to see how there may be genuine merit in such a strategy, however, and I am interested in the strong resistance to even the idea of it, and how the rationales are generally themselves based on post-modern and possibly fallacious ideas, i.e, that God is evolving, or that He is becoming conscious/individuating through Man, and so forth and suchlike.
Guy: Interesting. Jung would direct new clients to begin to reconcile with the religion of their childhood, if they were alienated from it, if at all possible as the first step in the process of healing what had brought them to a psychologist for help. Also interesting is that ‘surrender to God’ is the corner stone of the Hare Krishna movement. It is also mentioned as one of the paths to achieve samadhi (enlightenment) in what might be the ‘bible’ of yoga (not just the postures) The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. ‘Or [Samadhi] is obtained through devotion to God.’ (Chapter 1, verse 23) And of course the Born again Christians have that same foundation. And… so on and so on. Does such a repeated pattern qualify as an archetypal energy? Its genesis does not begin with the objective realm, but elsewhere.
Jasun: The problem comes when people surrender to their concept of God, which is something other entirely. To submit to reality means knowing it, but paradoxically, to know reality we have to surrender to it. Orthodox religion seems most characterized by a kind of humility which the modern man can only simulate.
Guy: Jung did argue that the unconscious was objectively measurable. Archetypes, etc. are a metaphysical concept in that we are unable to touch them. But their affects can be, and with repeatable patterns which provides those seeking empirical confirmation something to point to.
Looking deeply into our sources of knowledge is . . . de rigeur and perhaps even ‘morally’ honourable and proper. However, it requires effort and the willingness to have one’s gold turned to lead. We mostly are lazy, in general, and are very reluctant to have our truths overturned.
To allow enculturated inertia to rule. . . for the most part … is the rule. For various reasons and under various influences we like our ruts. I’m not sure why but we have become habituated to fixate on a truth and then ignore all the counter indicators of that truth. And this is one of the great humours of being alive: the truth that now enslaves us was the truth that once liberated us. One of the great lessons of reading the long since dead writers like Epictetus is that this behaviour is not new. Reading Epictetus is like reading a contemporary social and power structure critique.
Your reference to the paradox of to know reality is to surrender to it is, itself paradoxically, one of the reasons why Jung called himself an empiricist in the face of his critics. He accepted fully, surrendered to, the experiences of his and his patients as being real. All their experiences, even their so-called ‘metaphysical’ ones. And from those experiences he experienced the spiritual truth of God in Life, which is likely why he said that he knew God. And it is interesting to note that he did not say ‘I am God.’ That phrase is reserved for, paradoxically, the modern man in search of a soul, who thinks with his/her disembodied head that thinking is enough, and for the true yogis, who know that to know God requires being fully embodied in Life and to quiet the mind enough for God to be experienced/known.
I am not convinced that orthodox religion has that humility you refer to. Perhaps in its foundation, but not in its manifested orthodoxy, in which the bones of the religion have been displaced by or are mostly ignored, by the manmade canons.
Guy continued by email:
“The hero is the man actively engaged in becoming himself – never a very reassuring sight. The villain, on the other hand, has already become something.” (Donald Richie. The Films of Akira Kurosawa. )
[Quoting long passage from Jung:]
The well meaning rationalist will point out that I’m driving out the devil by Baalzebub and that I replace an honest neurosis by the cheat of religious belief. Concerning the former I have nothing to reply, being no metaphysical expert, but concerning the latter, I must point out that there is no question of belief, but of experience. Religious experience is absolute. It is indisputable. You can only say that you never had such an experience, and your opponent will say: “Sorry, I have.” And there your discussion will end. No matter what the world thinks about religious experience, the one who has it possesses the great treasure of a thing that has provided him with a source of life, meaning and beauty and that has given a new splendour to the world and to mankind. He has pistis and peace. Where is the criterium by which you could say that such a life is not valid and that such pistis is mere illusion? Is there, as a matter of fact, any better truth about ultimate things than the one that helps you live?
This is the reason why I take carefully into account the symbols produced by the unconscious mind. They are the only things able to convince the critical mind of modern people. They are convincing for very old fashioned reasons. They are simply overwhelming, which is an English rendering of the Latin word “convincere.” The thing that cures a neurosis must be as convincing as the neurosis; and since the latter is only too real, the helpful experience must be of equal reality. It must be a very real illusion, if you want to put it pessimistically. But what is the difference between a real illusion and a healing religious experience? It is merely a difference in words. You can say, for instance, that life is a disease with a very bad prognosis, it lingers on for years and to end in death; or that normality is a generally prevailing constitutional defect; or that man is an animal with a fatally overgrown brain. This kind of thinking is the prerogative of habitual grumblers with bad digestions. Nobody can know what the ultimate things are. We must, therefore, take them as we experience them. And if such experience helps to make your life healthier, more beautiful, more complete and more satisfactory to yourself and to those you love, you may safely say: “This was the grace of God.” ( Jung, C.G. Psychology & Religion. Yale University Press, 1963, p 113.)
He also put it a different way, by stating that those who do not fit into the ‘canon of collective ideas’ may find themselves marginalized or labeled neurotic. An interesting example is that of Galileo, who threatened the official Church by proposing another belief, for which he was labeled insane, an heretic, etc., and threatened with death. Anyway, here is Jung again:
[The canon of collective ideas] intervene almost automatically in all our acts of choice and decision, as well as being operative in the formation of concepts. With a little reflection, therefore, we can practically always tell why we do something and on what general assumptions our judgements and decisions are based. The false conclusions and wrong decisions of the neurotic have pathogenic effects because they are as a rule in conflict with these premises. Whoever can live with these premises without friction fits into our society as perfectly as the primitive, who takes his tribal teachings as an absolute rule of conduct. (Jung, C.G. The Practice of Psychotherapy: Essays on the Psychology of the Transference and other Subjects: CW Vol 16, 2nd edition. Pantheon Books: Bollingen Series XX, 1966. Par. 247. LCCCN 52-8757.)
Here he has in a typically Jungian backhanded way suggested that the evolution of consciousness, from that of the primitive man to an individuated person, requires facing the possibility of being labeled a neurotic by the governors of their society’s truths. (If you read more of Jung, you will also see that it is the neurotic who is the most interesting, because they are struggling towards being something, as Donald Richie wrote, above, whereas the status quo is the home of the ‘villain’.)
[Guy then included a very long Jung quote, which I will include in a footnote.]
Jasun: I like the Richie quote a lot… I like that it comes from a humble book about movies too
The Jung quote was TL;DR I’m afraid
Perhaps my final bone with Jung is not in any single thing but that together all his fine discoveries and insights have now coagulated into a system of thought called Jungianism, an occurrence he not only failed to prevent but actively encouraged, IMO.
Since this is itself the process by which orthodox religions are created, it seems to make sense to me to refer back to those original systems as a counter-measure (a nail to drive out the nails of our modern and postmodern teachers) which at least may have been the result of divine revelation of some sort (tho of course Jung claimed this too, but I am as inclined to suspect “demonic” influence).
The postmodern assumption is that new is better because human consciousness is evolving (everything is about progress & evolution); the religious position is the reverse, because what is eternal is also absolute, infinite, and unchanging, and so cannot evolve. All that can happen is that Man can become more or less estranged/removed/”individuated” from God, and history entire is nothing but that “nightmare” of continued estrangement from the divine, and from our true nature as a collective expression of God. Hence we wind up becoming and expressing the shadow of God, or Antichrist.
This makes all the great modern philosophers and their Promethean efforts to wrest knowledge of the divine from the eternal and into the temporal ~ perhaps no more than how the human ego (man under the illusion of individuality) exhausts himself and burns out his will to power, just in order to finally collapse back into God.
Guy: I’ve been thinking about your response for a while. . . . I do not agree with your comment about Jung encouraging ‘Jungianism’. I read somewhere him descrying [sic] the existence of ‘Jungianism’. Not that that will convince you, of course, that he really didn’t like it unconsciously, and so unconsciously encouraged it. His specific criticism against Jungianism was that each client he met with was unique, and that an ‘ism’ was unable to properly respond to the uniqueness uniquely. Sorry, not likely to find the source. And, of course, we could argue that despite his claim he did in fact rely on dreams and his conception of the collective unconscious and archetypes to guide him. While that is true, it is also false, in that that argument is not much different from arguing that he relied on the use of language, with its constraints and predefinitions of understanding, to help people. And I won’t say that some part of him enjoyed [sic] the adoption of his ideas, as that is a human thing. But he was aware enough of ‘isms’ to know that even Jungianism could or would eventually become stultifying dogma. . . .
You have stuck Jung in with postmodernist/new age thinkers. He was not that. His ideas, like the ideas of the Gnostics or Christ, etc, can be and have been taken and twisted into that. Although far less so than those of Freud. One of the great things about post modern (modern and even old) thought, is the ability and desire to pick out the bits you want, and to ignore the bits you don’t. Jung, for example, firmly believed in the old testament God/devil of hell fire and damnation. The extended quotation I sent discusses the ‘death’ of the God(s) and to an extent the psychological consequence of that. Now that I have spent some time watching Jordan Peterson talk this week, I will say that he describes that consequence well: the removal of the foundation of our existence, and the falling into the desert as the fool looking to discover the ‘proper’ new way. The post-modernists remain stuck as the fool because they entered that desert so lost in their ignorance of the truth of history and the foundation of orthodoxy, that they remain lost in the desert of their flaccid and lifeless ideas. What is amazing, and even preposterously amazing, is that they have like false prophets built a following in their empty tents in the middle of the desert. And the reason that they are scary, to me and others, is that their ignorance is so vast that no amount of argument can convince them they are ignorant.
….Do read the long Jung quote. It addresses many of the ideas/issues you have been wrestling with and discussing from a long range perspective. . . It stands out in my mind as the single most important book I read, in no small part because it spotlighted the true depth of my ignorance and enabled me to begin to open my eyes to the importance of the broad arc of history and to the uniqueness of each individual’s experience of the common arc.
As to the issue of the evolution of consciousness, that is not really a matter of belief. It is more a matter of empirical experience. We do not consciously think the way hunter-gathers do/did, nor the cultures of ancient Egypt, despite the still common characteristics such as torpidity, inertia, stupidity, fear, etc. Jung was very much aligned with the unchanging nature of the infinite substrate of human existence. The collective unconscious, for example. And even the orthodox religions ascribe some ability to evolve from a sinner to someone worthy of heavenly beatification. . . . Furthermore, Jung discusses the issue of the evolution of consciousness in an interesting way in his essay/book Answer to Job. It’s been a while since I’ve read it (I think I’ve read it three times), but the summary is basically that it describes a development of conscious awareness of the divine, by showing God as moving from being unconscious. The question it poses in its answer is that perhaps the existence of the human with its unique awareness is to become conscious, to become awake to itself within this universe. I suspect I’m not describing this well. Hmmm.
The individuation process of Jung was not to alienate oneself from God! Just the opposite. That that has become the sense of that word is new to me – I have been reading Jung for a long time – and both surprises me and doesn’t at the same time. That is one of the reasons he was not really popular in the masses or by the social manufacturers of consent – Bernays, Lippman, Freud, etc. He was popular with the few, except for a smattering of words and ideas taken out of the context of his argument. Such as the word ‘individuated’, from your comment. He argued, perhaps in his book The Development of Personality, that the process of ‘individualism’ is a kind of evil that perpetuates ignorance and allows for the idiocy and real danger and evil of group think. It is the individual, disconnected from the spiritual / religious grounding that the individuation process brings, who can become with not too much encouragement, the killers of others in big or small ways, as either the Hitlers or his death camp guards.
It seems to me that you are projecting on to Jung the very thing Jung was arguing against. He was dismayed that our ‘postmodernist’ society had thrown away the Gods. As I said before, his first response to people suffering from ‘mid-life’ crisis or depression, etc. was to return them to their childhood orthodox religion, if that was at all possible. Why? Because these orthodoxies had the gravitas to settle their angst and anxiety about being alive as human beings in a rather brutal and short existence.
‘Finally collapse back into God’. Of course! That is what Yoga – not just the asanas – is about. And the Taoists say the same thing. I love how it’s described in something called ‘The 10 Ox Herding Songs’ aka the 10 Bulls: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Bulls. The practice of yoga is to stop running after god in your mind or your body in order to, not ‘collapse back into God’, but to gracefully return to God, even if that search has been if not exhausting, than at least challenging. As Peterson says repeatedly, it is hard. Of course he is quoting Jung when he says that! 🙂
And this is one of the great reasons that I ague that there is a God of some kind: this structure is simply too funny not to have been made up consciously rather than randomly. For this kind of joke to exist requires consciousness or, at the very least, some kind of awareness.
Jasun: Out of respect for you I went back to read the long Jung quote, and found that it is not merely the length but the style that prevented me from finishing it. In the past, I have found Jung wholesome and enriching, if far from easy reading. But this particular quote I found dry and rather tedious. Perhaps something has changed in me? My eye was caught by this passage however:
if he did not first succumb to the saving delusion that this wisdom was good and that was bad. It is from these adepts that there come those terrifying invalids who think they have a prophetic mission. For the artificial sundering of true and false wisdom creates a tension in the psyche, and from this there arises a loneliness and a craving like that of the morphine addict, who always hopes to find companions in his vice.
Why artificial I wonder?
The Faceborg post, I tagged you because Jung is a central intelligence in your development and because I think I recognize a tendency in you to rely on the conceptual teachings of a safely distant, abstract father figure, a tendency that I have been all-too dogged by in my adult life. I am now “addicted” to examining these influences to parse the true from the false wisdom, and admittedly this often (?) gets entangled with a projection of a “sour grapes” complex that is like reverse Groucho, I refuse to pay attention to any club that doesn’t have me as a member, specifically, the cultural elite, of whom Jung was, I think indisputably, one.
These are two separate things, not trusting the messenger vs. examining the message for validity, that can work together or can be at odds with one another, depending on how conscious/honest I am able to be.
My overall view is that we are living in a time in which a very complex and sophisticated simulacra of wisdom-knowledge has been assembled for the express purpose of, “if it were possible, to deceive the very elect.” Jung may have addressed this in psychological terms but not, as far as I know, in social ones (he was not a conspirologist), and yet he was clearly affiliated with the groups and agendas that can be traced and mapped as being (partially) behind this “mythic engineering,” whether simply because his ideas proved useful (the view I lean towards) or whether he was consciously complicit in some form (which seems less likely to me, despite his questionable associations). Here’s where I am interested in delving.
One thing I noticed, on reflection, about the long passage you cited is that Jung here writes with an authority that may also be authoritarian. How does he know all of these things? I didn’t get any sense of that from reading it, and found the “voice” quite hermetic and alienating. He doesn’t seem to be writing here from a place of ongoing discovery but of presenting foregone conclusions. It’s this voice of authority that encourages adding an -ism to the author’s name.
The other point I should raise, more generally, is that via my association with Dave Oshana, I am becoming less and less trusting of conceptual knowledge, or even any knowledge, as being a genuine means to any end, as opposed to an end in itself. Or said differently, that the end of such knowledge-gathering seems to be related more to power than truth, which seems to be there for the “knowing” independent of any knowledge or experience base.
This relates to the cunning counterfeit of wisdom I suspect we have all been conditioned to accept as the real thing, because we are all conditioned from birth to recognize, adulate, and emulate power as if it were synonymous with goodness, and hence with truth.
So then my feelings about Jung, my doubts, aren’t limited to, or even specific to, Jung. They pertain to my own beliefs about what I know and every last cultural source of these concepts.
I will end on a brief recent exchange with Guido Preparata, my conversation partner for this week’s podcast. We discussed the possibility of certain conspiracy presses being disinformational, and Guido asked me about a specific book written by a military whistle-blower, one I was not familiar with.
Jasun: It’s always a question when an insider speaks out, is he really “out” or part of a controlled disclosure?
I meant to bring up “revelation of the method” in our talk; the term comes via James Shelby Downard, who some say was an invention of Adam Parfrey, and it was picked up by Michael Hoffman; but I think the theory has merit. Essentially it states that the ruling class have an interest in revealing their activities to the public in a controlled fashion. This is what I was touching on when we talked about how they may give us information without the necessary understanding to apply, like giving matches to babies. I always look for context: is the context simply revelation for its own sake, or is it part of a healing process?
Guido: I like the metaphor of matches to babies. The question is to explain what that means exactly case by case. In a more pedestrian sense, I understood “controlled disclosure” as mixing truth with falsehood in order to confuse even further. I now understand why you zeroed in on that quote in my website about conspiracy theorists. But what you are saying is that the propagandistic game is even more perverse: that they want us not just confused, but “burnt” —by the controlled disclosure of shocking truth…
Again one would to explain what that means practically case by case
Jasun: Yes, case by case, and there are two obvious approaches that occurred to me: one being to look at cases of people or groups who have been “burned” by too much “knowledge” about the nature of social control; an obvious example might be the Branch Davidians at Waco (currently being dramatized in a not-bad TV show that so far seems sympathetic towards the BDs, and exposing of government malpractice: more “rev-method”?). A lot of average Americans, when they start to find out more and more about deep politics, & lacking the insight to apply the knowledge wisely (for self-understanding, say), stockpile weapons and start militia groups (i.e, start to play with matches).
The other approach would be to look at a specific event that’s an example of a conspiracy, such as 9/11, and look for ways that there’s been a controlled “disclosure” of truth emanating from higher levels (whistleblowers, etc) that has then led to movements (911 truth movement) that serve the ends of the ruling classes.
Actually, now you have made me think about it, the whole UFO phenomenon is perhaps a perfect example of this, making Prisoner of Infinity a case study for what can happen when you give an infant matches (or pass them out at a nursery). A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
How does the 911 Truth Movement help the elite?
I left it at that, since I am not well-versed enough to answer this question without simply winging it, as I usually do. I thought it was a good question to put out there, for the “alt. perceptions community” and C-theorists to ponder.
Last up, new Youtube video.
Long Jung quote, from Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious.
21 Dogma takes the place of the collective unconscious by formulating its contents on a grand scale. The Catholic way of life is completely unaware of psychological problems in this sense. Almost the entire life of the collective unconscious has been channelled into the dogmatic archetypal ideas and flows along like a well-controlled stream in the symbolism of creed and ritual. It manifests itself in the inwardness of the Catholic psyche. The collective unconscious, as we understand it today, was never a matter of “psychology,” for before the Christian Church existed there were the antique mysteries, and these reach back into the grey mists of neolithic prehistory. Mankind has never lacked powerful images to lend magical aid against all the uncanny things that live in the depths of the psyche. Always the figures of the unconscious were expressed in protecting and healing images and in this way were expelled from the psyche into cosmic space.
22 The iconoclasm of the Reformation, however, quite literally made a breach in the protective wall of sacred images, and since then one image after another has crumbled away. They became dubious, for they conflicted with awakening reason. Besides, people had long since forgotten what they meant. Or had they really forgotten? Could it be that men had never really known what they meant, and that only in recent times did it occur to the Protestant part of mankind that actually we haven’t the remotest conception of what is meant by the Virgin Birth, the divinity of Christ, and the complexities of the Trinity? It almost seems as if these images had just lived, and as if their living existence had simply been accepted without question and without reflection, much as everyone decorates Christmas trees or hides Easter eggs without ever knowing what these customs mean. The fact is that archetypal images are so packed with meaning in themselves that people never think of asking what they really do mean. That the gods die from time to time is due to man’s sudden discovery that they do not mean anything, that they are made by human hands, useless idols of wood and stone. In reality, however, he has merely discovered that up till then he has never thought about his images at all. And when he starts thinking about them, he does so with the help of what he calls “reason”— which in point of fact is nothing more than the sum-total of all his prejudices and myopic views.
23 The history of Protestantism has been one of chronic iconoclasm. One wall after another fell. And the work of destruction was not too difficult once the authority of the Church had been shattered. We all know how, in large things as in small, in general as well as in particular, piece after piece collapsed, and how the alarming poverty of symbols that is now the condition of our life came about. With that the power of the Church has vanished too— a fortress robbed of its bastions and casemates, a house whose walls have been plucked away, exposed to all the winds of the world and to all dangers.
24 Although this is, properly speaking, a lamentable collapse that offends our sense of history, the disintegration of Protestantism into nearly four hundred denominations is yet a sure sign that the restlessness continues. The Protestant is cast out into a state of defencelessness that might well make the natural man shudder. His enlightened consciousness, of course, refuses to take cognizance of this fact, and is quietly looking elsewhere for what has been lost to Europe. We seek the effective images, the thought-forms that satisfy the restlessness of heart and mind, and we find the treasures of the East.
25 There is no objection to this, in and for itself. Nobody forced the Romans to import Asiatic cults in bulk. If Christianity had really been— as so often described— “alien” to the Germanic tribes, they could easily have rejected it when the prestige of the Roman legions began to wane. But Christianity had come to stay, because it fits in with the existing archetypal pattern. In the course of the centuries, however, it turned into something its founder might well have wondered at had he lived to see it; and the Christianity of Negroes and other dark-skinned converts is certainly an occasion for historical reflections. Why, then, should the West not assimilate Eastern forms? The Romans too went to Eleusis, Samothrace, and Egypt in order to get themselves initiated. In Egypt there even seems to have been a regular tourist trade in this commodity.
26 The gods of Greece and Rome perished from the same disease as did our Christian symbols: people discovered then, as today, that they had no thoughts whatever on the subject. On the other hand, the gods of the strangers still had unexhausted mana. Their names were weird and incomprehensible and their deeds portentously dark— something altogether different from the hackneyed chronique scandaleuse of Olympus. At least one couldn’t understand the Asiatic symbols, and for this reason they were not banal like the conventional gods. The fact that people accepted the new as unthinkingly as they had rejected the old did not become a problem at that time.
27 Is it becoming a problem today? Shall we be able to put on, like a new suit of clothes, ready-made symbols grown on foreign soil, saturated with foreign blood, spoken in a foreign tongue, nourished by a foreign culture, interwoven with foreign history, and so resemble a beggar who wraps himself in kingly raiment, a king who disguises himself as a beggar? No doubt this is possible. Or is there something in ourselves that commands us to go in for no mummeries, but perhaps even to sew our garment ourselves?
28 I am convinced that the growing impoverishment of symbols has a meaning. It is a development that has an inner consistency. Everything that we have not thought about, and that has therefore been deprived of a meaningful connection with our developing consciousness, has got lost. If we now try to cover our nakedness with the gorgeous trappings of the East, as the theosophists do, we would be playing our own history false. A man does not sink down to beggary only to pose afterwards as an Indian potentate. It seems to me that it would be far better stoutly to avow our spiritual poverty, our symbol-lessness, instead of feigning a legacy to which we are not the legitimate heirs at all. We are, surely, the rightful heirs of Christian symbolism, but somehow we have squandered this heritage. We have let the house our fathers built fall into decay, and now we try to break into Oriental palaces that our fathers never knew. Anyone who has lost the historical symbols and cannot be satisfied with substitutes is certainly in a very difficult position today: before him there yawns the void, and he turns away from it in horror. What is worse, the vacuum gets filled with absurd political and social ideas, which one and all are distinguished by their spiritual bleakness. But if he cannot get along with these pedantic dogmatisms, he sees himself forced to be serious for once with his alleged trust in God, though it usually turns out that his fear of things going wrong if he did so is even more persuasive. This fear is far from unjustified, for where God is closest the danger seems greatest. It is dangerous to avow spiritual poverty, for the poor man has desires, and whoever has desires calls down some fatality on himself. A Swiss proverb puts it drastically: “Behind every rich man stands a devil, and behind every poor man two.”
29 Just as in Christianity the vow of worldly poverty turned the mind away from the riches of this earth, so spiritual poverty seeks to renounce the false riches of the spirit in order to withdraw not only from the sorry remnants— which today call themselves the Protestant church— of a great past, but also from all the allurements of the odorous East; in order, finally, to dwell with itself alone, where, in the cold light of consciousness, the blank barrenness of the world reaches to the very stars.
30 We have inherited this poverty from our fathers. I well remember the confirmation lessons I received at the hands of my own father. The catechism bored me unspeakably. One day I was turning over the pages of my little book, in the hope of finding something interesting, when my eye fell on the paragraphs about the Trinity. This interested me at once, and I waited impatiently for the lessons to get to that section. But when the longed-for lesson arrived, my father said: “We’ll skip this bit; I can’t make head or tail of it myself.” With that my last hope was laid in the grave. I admired my father’s honesty, but this did not alter the fact that from then on all talk of religion bored me to death.
31 Our intellect has achieved the most tremendous things, but in the meantime our spiritual dwelling has fallen into disrepair. We are absolutely convinced that even with the aid of the latest and largest reflecting telescope, now being built in America, men will discover behind the farthest nebulae no fiery empyrean; and we know that our eyes will wander despairingly through the dead emptiness of interstellar space. Nor is it any better when mathematical physics reveals to us the world of the infinitely small. In the end we dig up the wisdom of all ages and peoples, only to find that everything most dear and precious to us has already been said in the most superb language. Like greedy children we stretch out our hands and think that, if only we could grasp it, we would possess it too. But what we possess is no longer valid, and our hands grow weary from the grasping, for riches lie everywhere, as far as the eye can reach. All these possessions turn to water, and more than one sorcerer’s apprentice has been drowned in the waters called up by himself— if he did not first succumb to the saving delusion that this wisdom was good and that was bad. It is from these adepts that there come those terrifying invalids who think they have a prophetic mission. For the artificial sundering of true and false wisdom creates a tension in the psyche, and from this there arises a loneliness and a craving like that of the morphine addict, who always hopes to find companions in his vice.
32 When our natural inheritance has been dissipated, then the spirit too, as Heraclitus says, has descended from its fiery heights. But when spirit becomes heavy it turns to water, and with Luciferian presumption the intellect usurps the seat where once the spirit was enthroned. The spirit may legitimately claim the patria potestas over the soul; not so the earth-born intellect, which is man’s sword or hammer, and not a creator of spiritual worlds, a father of the soul. Hence Ludwig Klages 22* and Max Scheler 23* were moderate enough in their attempts to rehabilitate the spirit, for both were children of an age in which the spirit was no longer up above but down below, no longer fire but water.
33 Therefore the way of the soul in search of its lost fatherlike Sophia seeking Bythos— leads to the water, to the dark mirror that reposes at its bottom. Whoever has elected for the state of spiritual poverty, the true heritage of Protestantism carried to its logical conclusion, goes the way of the soul that leads to the water. This water is no figure of speech, but a living symbol of the dark psyche. I can best illustrate this by a concrete example, one out of many:
34 A Protestant theologian often dreamed the same dream: He stood on a mountain slope with a deep valley below, and in it a dark lake. He knew in the dream that something had always prevented him from approaching the lake. This time he resolved to go to the water. As he approached the shore, everything grew dark and uncanny, and a gust of wind suddenly rushed over the face of the water. He was seized by a panic fear, and awoke.
35 This dream shows us the natural symbolism. The dreamer descends into his own depths, and the way leads him to the mysterious water. And now there occurs the miracle of the pool of Bethesda: an angel comes down and touches the water, endowing it with healing power. In the dream it is the wind, the pneuma, which bloweth where it listeth. Man’s descent to the water is needed in order to evoke the miracle of its coming to life. But the breath of the spirit rushing over the dark water is uncanny, like everything whose cause we do not know— since it is not ourselves. It hints at an unseen presence, a numen to which neither human expectations nor the machinations of the will have given life. It lives of itself, and a shudder runs through the man who thought that “spirit” was merely what he believes, what he makes himself, what is said in books, or what people talk about. But when it happens spontaneously it is a spookish thing, and primitive fear seizes the naive mind. The elders of the Elgonyi tribe in Kenya gave me exactly the same description of the nocturnal god whom they call the “maker of fear.” “He comes to you,” they said, “like a cold gust of wind, and you shudder, or he goes whistling round in the tall grass”— an African Pan who glides among the reeds in the haunted noontide hour, playing on his pipes and frightening the shepherds.
36 Thus, in the dream, the breath of the pneuma frightened another pastor, a shepherd of the flock, who in the darkness of the night trod the reed-grown shore in the deep valley of the psyche. Yes, that erstwhile fiery spirit has made a descent to the realm of nature, to the trees and rocks and the waters of the psyche, like the old man in Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, who, wearied of humankind, withdrew into the forest to growl with the bears in honour of the Creator.
37 We must surely go the way of the waters, which always tend downward, if we would raise up the treasure, the precious heritage of the father. In the Gnostic hymn to the soul, 24* the son is sent forth by his parents to seek the pearl that fell from the King’s crown. It lies at the bottom of a deep well, guarded by a dragon, in the land of the Egyptians— that land of fleshpots and drunkenness with all its material and spiritual riches. The son and heir sets out to fetch the jewel, but forgets himself and his task in the orgies of Egyptian worldliness, until a letter from his father reminds him what his duty is. He then sets out for the water and plunges into the dark depths of the well, where he finds the pearl on the bottom, and in the end offers it to the highest divinity.
38 This hymn, ascribed to Bardesanes, dates from an age that resembled ours in more than one respect. Mankind looked and waited, and it was a fish— “levatus de prof undo” (drawn from the deep) 25* — that became the symbol of the saviour, the bringer of healing.
39 As I wrote these lines, I received a letter from Vancouver, from a person unknown to me. The writer is puzzled by his dreams, which are always about water: “Almost every time I dream it is about water: either I am having a bath, or the watercloset is overflowing, or a pipe is bursting, or my home has drifted down to the water’s edge, or I see an acquaintance about to sink into water, or I am trying to get out of water, or I am having a bath and the tub is about to overflow,” etc.
22 [Cf. Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele.]
23 [Cf., e.g., Die Stellung des Menschen im Kosmos.— Editors.]
24 James, Apocryphal New Testament, pp. 411-15.
25 Augustine, Confessions, Lib. XIII, cap. XXI.