Catafalque (2-Volume Set): Carl Jung and the End of Humanity 1999638409, 9781999638405 – EBIN.PUB (2023)





First published in 2018 by Catafalque Press, London [emailprotected] ISBN 978-1-9996384-0-5 (two-volume set) Copyright © 2018 Peter Kingsley All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, or stored in any database or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Printed by Lightning Source Book design by Leslie Bartlett British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library












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Et ensi comme je sui oscurs et serai enviers chiaus ou je ne me vaurrai esclairier, ensi sera tous li livres celes et peu avenra que ja nus en face bonte



Something’s beginning is always a particularly magical point, the opening into a world that’s new. There-this book has already begun, which means the magic has been done. And, now, all that’s needed is to find the words to fill the abyss between beginning and end. Probably it will be best to start with Eranos. Dreamed up during the early 1930s, the Eranos meetings began taking place each summer at Ascona in southern Switzerland and would soon become notorious. Their original purpose was ambitious but simple-to create a supportive forum for openly and sincerely discussing spirituality, philosophy, the profoundest questions humans can ask about themselves or the world around them. And over time the most influential figure at these meetings, due to his own presence as well as the people he drew to them, came to be Carl Jung. 1 Because of my work on the origins of western civilization I was invited to speak at the Eranos gathering in August 2013. This book is an expanded version of the talks that, to the shocked surprise of many respectable people present, I delivered there. Speaking at Eranos provided me with the opportunity to complete a certain circle in my life by acknowledging, and



paying deep respects to, two people with whom I have the closest of ties. One of them is Henry Corbin; the other, Carl Jung. It also gave me the chance to say a few things in public, for the first and perhaps the last time, about how my life’s work has intersected with Jung’s work as well as Corbin’s. And it allowed me to complete a much larger circle by outlining what this all has to say about the nature of cultures-especially about the fate or destiny of our western civilization. Both Carl Jung, ·somewhat ostentatiously, and Henry Corbin, a little more discreetly, played crucial roles at Eranos. Jung was one of the greatest and most original researchers in psychology the West has ever known. Corbin was welcomed into the Eranos circle as one of the greatest living experts on Sufi mystical tradition and as a scholar who, almost singlehandedly, introduced the sophisticated realities of Persian spiritual wisdom to the West. On the surface, the two of them could hardly have been more unlike each other in terms of training or formal interests. But inwardly it was a very different matter. And this can be rather difficult to grasp for people who never quite managed to learn what it means to look beneath the surface. From one side we happen to have Jung’s own words confirming in no ambiguous or uncertain terms that Henry Corbin was the one person who understood him far better than anybody else: that it was Corbin who had given him “not only the rarest of experiences, but the unique experience, of being completely understood”.2 Such a meaningful statement should give us pause for thought-a very long pause. And from the other side we have the striking words by Corbin, that he wrote to explain what became possible at



Eranos through the influence and inspiration of Carl Jung. He described how Jung’s presence produced an “atmosphere of absolute spiritual freedom in which all individuals express themselves without the slightest concern for any official dogma and with just a single goal in mind: to be themselves, to be true”. 3 This, too, deserves pondering very carefully. To be true, not to be clever or entertaining or even inspiring but to be true, was no easy or casual matter in the eyes of Corbin. It meant far more for him than all the glib, superficial talk one tends to hear nowadays about me living my truth and you living yours-just as “truth” for him meant infinitely more than some arbitrary collection of facts. To him truth, as well as the act of being genuinely true, are timeless and sacred realities that turn our whole illusory world of appearances upside down. They throw us off our comfortable chairs by showing us we are not the personalities we imagined we were: point us back to our true origin, our spiritual source. 4 Of course words like this can sound very inspiring. But that, too, is just a part of the illusoriness-because we have managed even to turn spirituality into an illusion so we can protect ourselves from the reality of the spirit. Our modern democratic age has manufactured a personal spirituality to meet everyone’s needs which is absolutely guaranteed to be calm, sweet, peaceful, polite, positive, comfortable, reassuring, unthreatening. And instead of leaving the sacred well alone, which would have been the wisest thing to do, we domesticated it no less effectively than we managed to domesticate everything else; trivialized and thoroughly prettified it; agreed on making it into something politically correct. But this happens to be almost the exact opposite of the ancient understanding-which is that spirituality and the sacred offer the profoundest challenge to our complacency, as



well as presenting the most radical threat. The spirit is not only there to make us think deeply. It exists to take us into places where thinking becomes useless and even our cleverest ideas are left behind. The story is just the same with regard to truth, or being true: they have come to mean more or less whatever we want them to mean. As a result we have lost any sense for the overarching, sacred reality of Truth that exists in virtually every culture except our own. It can be helpful now to try and remember how according to ancient Greek tradition-which aside from being the tradition I feel closest to is also the source and seedbed of western culture-truth was seen as something extremely painful, even impossible, for most people to bear. Truth, or aletheia, had its own mythology that confronts humans with the grim but glorious reality of what they are “from the beginning”: unimaginably glorious because of their boundless inner potential and unthinkably grim because of the overwhelming responsibilities such a forgotten potential brings. This is why it-or she, because Truth often appears as a goddess-was always intimately involved in the superhuman effort to stop that process of forgetting. Her role, above all, was to preside over the supremely urgent task of remembering not what happened yesterday or even last month but what happened in the distant past that shaped this present moment and will also produce our future. 5 So I am not going to be speaking very much about the past as the past. Neither do I plan on offering a view of ancient Greek spirituality as some pretty oasis: as one more fascinating distraction, yet another illusion. I have been researching, writing, speaking, teaching about the distant past for over forty years; and to me the past as past is no longer relevant. Through writing more and more about the



ancient world, about the origins of western civilization, I have ended up being forced-paradoxically but also quite logicallyinto the present time. In other words, what I am going to be focusing on is the past as present: on how those aspects of the past we have been forced to forget have shaped and created the bizarre world that we live in. 6 We are living through an extraordinarily difficult time now. The trouble is that most people, however intelligent they happen to be and however keen to keep up with the news, don’t have the slightest wish to see with open eyes what really is happening in our world. Even if they sense or intuit or suspect something, they have an overwhelming urge to tune it all out and say “No, no: I don’t want to know. I just want to go on as before.” Well, there is no going on as before. Maybe we’ll think we can act in the same way for a few more years; but what we are leaving behind us is a totally different world. And we have a certain responsibility to wake up to the awareness of what that means. I am going to be saying some disturbing things and there is no point in apologizing for that, because this is the truth of where western civilization has brought us . It has all been leading up to here. Everything that was implicit in our civilization from the very beginning, everything that was already contained inside the seed of western culture, is being acted out now- in spite of us and regardless of our best intentions-because of what we have agreed to forget. Our future is guaranteed, automatically determined, by the fundamental fact that we failed to honour our sacred source.


Talking at Eranos was the first time I’d spoken openly in two or three years. It was a dream that, back at the start of 2011, bluntly and very directly instructed me to stop all the things I was doing: public speaking, teaching, meetings, interviews. Plenty of other dreams had also been pointing in the same direction, but this one was infinitely more explicit. For a short time I found myself uncertain what to do-heavily leaning towards taking the radical actions needed, although only leaning. It goes without saying that one has to be a little crazy to pay too much attention to dreams. In fact even most of the Jungians I have met, who literally make dreams their business, insist that no balanced person should ever obey messages or instructions given through a dream. Instead you have to argue with them; do some good negotiating; assert your conscious wishes; give all due weight to your own position. But of course in this world everything ultimately becomes a question of picking one’s preferred form of madness. A couple of days later the matter was taken out of my hands. Two friends, living thousands of miles apart, called me almost at the same moment after having the most vivid dreams which very



plainly were meant for me. And, just as plainly, both dreams were confirming the obvious and explicit message of my dream. Traditionally, in important matters one indication always needs to be considered with all due seriousness-but three indications are something that has to be acted on straight away.7 It became clear to me that everything had already been settled. I was being forced to obey and start carrying out the necessary changes. One commitment which had become too late to cancel was an agreement I had made to speak at a large event near where my wife and I lived in North Carolina. I could never understand why I accepted the invitation in the first place, as the organizers were among the most difficult people imaginable. But just before the day of the event, that mystery was solved. At the last moment an old Cherokee medicine woman in her eighties came down from the hills because she had been shown there was something she needed to do. When I arrived a little early on the morning of the gathering, she was there waiting; we went into a small room together to be alone. As we talked, I remembered my recent dream about stopping speaking and mentioned it to her. Without a moment’s hesitation she told me that the only reason she was there was because a bear had recently walked up her driveway, during the night, to wake her and announce that her presence and voice would be needed at this particular event. It had been years, she explained, since she had spoken in public because she had been living the life of silent solitude ever since a clear dream ordered her to stop any outer activity and put all her energy into going entirely inside herself. Then, just before we stood up to go onto the stage and talk to the audience together, she leaned forward in her chair with the energy of a teenager and exclaimed: “Of course we obey these dreams! We always obey such dreams!”



There is no describing the refreshment of being able to see how intense and unpretentious, how simple and spontaneous, this wise woman was in responding with a whole heart to the call of life even when it disrupts all our tidy schemes and conscious plans. 8 For myself, putting a complete end to any public speaking and sinking into inner silence led to the sudden realization that I had already finished planting the seeds of my work in North America. It also showed me what was needed next: to focus on creating a far stronger support for everything already seeded by returning, as close as humanly possible, to the original roots of this work in Europe. And there is a certain edge of irony in the fact that a very dear friend-one of the few great indigenous medicine men still left in North America-was the person who summed up the whole matter most succinctly because he saw it with such clarity. At the end of every civilization, he noted, the life of that civilization always returns to its source. In the case of western civilization that source is first and foremost the regions around the Mediterranean. And my particular medicine is needed to tend that source as long as such tending is needed; to stand watch over it for the sake of a distant future which will never be ours. Wherever I am, the underlying support of Native Americans is very tangibly with me. Nothing can be more precious than the closeness of those encounters, which have always been so paradoxical; so unexpected; so surprising. And essentially there is nothing more important to talk about because this is where we have come to. We are naked as westerners because we, too, have lost everything. We may seem more prosperous, but we are in exactly the same situation they have been squeezed into for hundreds of years.



We too are broken. All of us, not just some or a few, are addicts. We have lost any contact with our ancestral homes not because someone chased us out, but because we chase ourselves out. And there is not a single atrocity westerners can inflict on indigenous people that they have not also inflicted on themselves. 9 We are no better than Native Americans-no better at all. In fact we are far worse, and worse off, because we no longer even remember what it is we lost.


For me personally one thing has been more extraordinary than any other about the Native American medicine women and medicine men, elders and chiefs I have been fortunate enough to meet. This is their intuitive ability to understand immediately, and I mean instantly, what my work is before knowing a single factual detail about it or me-and before I even get the chance to say a single word. More than once I found myself being welcomed, and from the way events unfolded I could see that what they told me was true, with comments like: ”As soon as I caught sight of you walking in, I knew from the way you walked that you work for the Ancestors.” These are people who because of how I walk, or because of what they see when they catch a glimpse of me for the first time from behind, are able to look straight into the heart of my work. They had no conscious interest in ancient Greeks, or the history of philosophy, or the origins of western civilization. Probably they’d never even heard, or ever would hear, peculiar worcls like “Presocratic”. But intuitively, instantly, they knew the job I’m here to do. And in each of their cultures, in every tribe, there is a name for what I do just as there is a name for what I am. In fact there is a whole host of names depending on whether one happens to



be closest to the west coast of North America, or in the New Mexico desert, or nearer to the east coast. Before I started meeting Native Americans, I could never understand why I was such a difficult person. I always tended to approach everything differently from other people. I would constantly do things back to front. People wanted to move forwards, I wanted to move backwards; they had to turn back, I had to keep going. I was what in many, many traditionsCherokee, Lakota, Hopi-they have their own name for, their · 1ar word t hat means “h own part1cu t e contrary”. And they said to me, one after another, in individual encounters: “Your work is tremendously important. Nobody in your supposedly civilized world will recognize what you do. No one will know the real reason. They’ll assume you are being difficult. They’ll just think you are complicating things unnecessarily. “But we know; through our traditional wisdom we understand. Your work is crucial. Who you are is crucial, because you wake people up. You help them, force them, to face what they turned their backs on. Just through being who you are and without even having to say a word, you make people question everything on a deeper level than they are comfortable questioning things. You are Coyote, howling and calling from the outer edges of your society because you can see what they don’t yet notice and because you remember what they already forgot. ”And that is your duty: to shock people into an awareness that all life comes from, and returns to, the sacred. That is your medicine: to remind people always of their source. That, as the contrary, is your unavoidable task: to dance in the open for the dead and, by walking backwards, turn people around to face their Ancestors whom they imagine they can do without.” So if I disturb you, and this is something I am guaranteed to do, try not to find ways of rejecting me and dismissing what I say-because maybe there is a reason for the disturbance.



Probably you are going to want to say: “OK, I agree with nine-tenths or three-tenths of what Peter Kingsley says. As for the rest, though: No, I don’t want to go there.” But maybe, just maybe, it will be good for you to stop and pause and simply take another look. Now of course, in Jungian terms, there is a name for what I have been referring to. In fact there are several names for what I am talking about. This ties in with the archetype of the trickster, always on the fringes, turning everything upside down. This ties in with the shadow, bringing up what no one wants to see. And for the sake of completeness I should also add that it ties in with the archetype of the prophet who makes an utter fool of himself by claiming to present grand truths others are not aware of. But, staying faithful to what I have just been saying, I am going to question all that and present everything from an altogether different point of view. Anyone trained as a Jungian will almost certainly want to say: “Well, there we go! Peter Kingsley is identifying with the archetype of the trickster! Very dangerous! One should never, absolutely never, identify with an archetype.” And, true to my nature, I am going to say: “Yes, this is very correct and that danger is perfectly real. But in my own experience-and ultimately my experience is all I have to go by-there is a secret as well as a mystery that many people labouring in the world ofJung are unaware of.” The mystery is that we start off with the familiar image of an average, modest, serene human being: perhaps Swiss, perhaps Australian, French, American, it makes no difference. And here we have this ordinary person, this very down-to-earth and reasonable human being, unknowingly surrounded by all the invisible but dangerous archetypes. Swirling around and



sometimes lurking threateningly near are the archetype of the trickster, maybe of a great goddess like Artemis or Aphrodite, perhaps the archetype of a prophet or someone else. And you are told and warned, will read, are taught, that this ordinary human being must never ever identify with one of the divine archetypes. That way lies the danger of psychological inflation. That way, for any human, lies madness. But the terrible secret which has been forgotten is that humanity, itself, is an archetype. It can be quite amazing to watch how people will diligently observe, study, even become obsessed about everything elseand miss this. We are happy to recognize the archetypal reality of anything at all, except ourselves. There is really no excuse for forgetting that the ancient Greeks in their wisdom had a single word for us as humans: anthropos, which includes woman as well as man. And you only have to look back to the Gnostics to find the plainest accounts and descriptions of anthropos in the fullness of its primordial, archetypal reality. 10 This is the hidden, unspoken danger. Even the most enlightened ofJungians can avoid every other danger to the best of their ability-and forget the danger of identifying with being a human being. The story happens to be just the same as it almost always turns out to be in the famous fairy tales or legends or myths. One fights so bravely and so hard against the threats and dangers coming from every possible direction but never manages to see the closest, and greatest, threat of all. Jung himself of course was very quick to recognize the ever-present perils of psychological inflation-of identifying uncritically, unthinkingly, quite unconsciously with the divine archetypes-and to warn against them. He was only too aware of



how deceptive the dangers are and how easily we trick ourselves: of how the pious, humble disciple is probably suffering from an even greater inflation and is even more puffed up than the spiritual master.11 One only needs to add that when we identify with ourselves as humans, when we accept our oneness with the collective human race, we are suffering the greatest inflation of them all. And what happens when we identify with being a nice, modest, ordinary human being? The answer is very simple: We die. When we live like everyone else, we die like everyone else; start to lose our faculties as we turn sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety; drift off into trivialities and completely forget what life is all about. 12 This, when everything has been taken into account and restored to its right place, is the price of identifying with the archetype of the human being. In other words, as the great ancient Greek mystics and philosophers I often will be referring to understood so well, there is absolutely nowhere protected or secure. There is no safe ground anywhere-and precisely where we think is safest is the most dangerous place to be. But the other side to this, as Jung was neither the first nor the last to realize, is that what seems to be far too risky is where our real salvation lies.13


There is an underlying problem here: a huge problem that can be summarized very easily. In essence, it has to do with the progressive domestication of Jung’s image, wisdom, discoveries. And this is where we have to get a few things straight because there are some facts many people would be only too happy to forget. Carl Gustav Jung lived an extremely strange, not to mention crazy life behind the scenes. Because of who he was, as well as his active work and interests, he constantly found himself surrounded by archetypal energies. There were even times in his life when he deliberately invoked them. For him, the need to hold on tight to at least some semblance of sanity when challenged from every side by just the opposite was much more than a theoretical requirement. It was the most urgent, pressing necessity. And the threat of total madness was, to him, something palpably real. Needless to say, there are plenty of Jung experts who collectively rally round to protect him-or, rather, protect themselves-by insisting that the wise man never came anywhere close to going mad. But the hollowness of their chorus speaks far louder than the reasoned implausibility of their words.



In fact all they manage to show is how little they really know. And over thirty years ago someone vastly more familiar than any of them with the actual, lived experience of insanity not only documented Jung’s steady journey of descent to “the brink of madness”. He also documented how carefully Jung’s students, family, followers covered up what happened during the most intense and formative times of his life by creating a pious fiction that bears no resemblance to the reality.14 A lot has happened, though, in the period since R.D. Laing wrote down his observations. New evidence and documents have come to light-including the famous Red book Jung started working on while still in his thirties, straight after his break with Freud-which are so graphic that quite frankly one would have to be a little crazy to want to minimize the intensity of his intimate encounters with insanity. We now have Jung’s own account of how he literally had to cling on to the table in front of him to stop himself from falling apart. Of course anyone can read such details and forget them straight away: intellectuals will always have the marvellous ability to make anything mean no less, or more, than they want. And perhaps only another person who also has been forced to hold on to reality by grabbing at a piece of furniture will appreciate exactly what kind of states Jung was grappling with. 15 There are undeniably the best of personal, as well as professional, reasons for wanting to isolate Jung from the stigma of madness or near madness and keep him safe from both. After all, this kind of protectionism has had a long and active history. Until the Red book, and other material, began becoming available people mainly had to resort to the sophisticated process of censoring Jung’s own words behind the scenes. Now other methods of protecting him, just as sophisticated, have to be found.



But the truth is that to try and defend him like this is not to add to his stature arall-only to diminish it. 16 Madness happens to be a primordial phenomenon very closely associated with those same ancient western philosophers and mystics I will be evoking throughout this book. At the same time, as Jung’s English translator noted with rare insight, it happens to be no less closely associated with the traditional figure of the indigenous medicine man or shaman. The unenviable discipline of first encountering, then finding ways of controlling, insanity is always essential for reconnecting the world of the human to the world of the sacred. But it also is a path fraught with risk and danger that demands superhuman strength. And anyone is a fool who tries to emphasize the element of control at the expense of the insanity.17 Right at the core of Jung’s life and experience, easily visible although tempting enough to ignore, lies an awareness that one comes face to face with the reality of the sacred not through sanity but in the terrifying depths of madness. And there-in the confrontation with madness-is where our normal, collective sanity is seen for the even more horrifying insanity that it really is. Then, every fixed idea one ever had about anything comes permanently crashing down; and the search begins to find some language that can say what everybody thirsts for but almost nobody wants to hear. 18 The realizations involved here are something so pure they can never be duplicated in any paid-up system of training. Whatever one might like to believe, or make others believe, there is no imitating Jung’s experiences; no faking them. And this is what will always separate him even from the best-trained Jungian. To Jung himself, inner realities like the archetype of a man’s feminine spirit or anima were not just



handy concepts to appeal to or throw around whenever needed. They were direct, unmediated discoveries that at times almost cost him his life. So in his raw encounters with the unconscious it meant something intensely real for him to have to keep repeating: “On absolutely no account must I identify with that archetype which is about to take me over.” This happens to be quite different, though, from the situation where someone thinks: “Oh, there is not so much to worry about because I have in my pocket Jung’s sensible warnings to keep a good distance from all those dangerous divine archetypes and not get anywhere too close. Everything will stay calm and professional because he gave us the basic guidelines we need to protect ourselves collectively in advance. We may have our thrills and moments of excitement, some victories, even a ruffled feather or two. But it will all be just fine because we are always moving forwards, progress after progress, on Jung’s broadly reassuring shoulders.” Then-just like any other human being watching television or eating dinner-we sit comfortably in our archetypal mediocrity, our archetypal complacency, our archetypal conformity. Above all, we think we can magically confine the terrifying reality of the sacred to some separate place or room. In other words we have divided ourselves off for a hundred good reasons, without even noticing it, from the divine. And this is really what I would like to talk about: the hubris, the inflation, the insanity of separating ourselves from the sacred.


Earlier I mentioned the uncomfortable process of being stopped from speaking or appearing in public by nothing more solid than dreams. There is a fair chance that anyone who has been forced to withdraw like this will have learned at least a little about what Henry Corbin, on the basis of his own experience, called “the inestimable virtues of silence”. And included in those virtues is, rather paradoxically, the inestimable virtue of speech-because only an intimate familiarity with silence can allow us to touch, then become familiar with, the root of words. In fact the first thing we forget when talking all the time is that speech is a privilege, not the right which our superficial minds so wrongly assume it to be. Speech, as every sacred tradition remembers, is among the purest of divine gifts. That makes it extremely powerful. And this is where things become very serious because it means words have been entrusted 19 to us as something to be extremely careful with. Like breaths, there is only a finite amount of words we are able to speak in a lifetime. We are not given enough that we can afford to waste them or play around, so we need to choose them with a great deal of care. Once they have been released, at a given moment and for a certain purpose, they are gone. The energy behind them will never be available for another purpose or another time.



And if we are going to use words to speak about the sacred-in other words, if we are going to make the special kind of effort needed to return them consciously to their source-then there is the constant question of exactly what to say as well as precisely how to say it. One other aspect of the same process that has to be learned is how to suffer. This too can be immensely difficult to understand because, at least at first sight, it has nothing to do with the psychological or physical suffering each of us experiences as a person. In today’s world suffering has come to be treated as a highly individualized affair. You suffer, I suffer, for an endless list of theoretically specifiable reasons. And then civilization rushes in with its fixes, all its sanitizing cures. But most people are far too frightened to ask-and ask with their whole being rather than out of rhetorical cleverness or curiosity-what kind of sanitization is possible in a world which itself is insane, is completely out of balance. The truth is that beyond our personal sufferings lies another type of suffering: a suffering so horrific that anyone unfortunate, or fortunate, enough to encounter it would dearly love to be able to avoid it and be rid of it. There is no explaining that suffering; neatly mapping it out; softening the sharpness of its edges which are enough to drive anyone crazy. But to get rid of it would be the greatest possible disaster. This is the suffering of experiencing how insanely and unsustainably selfish we have become as a culture, how unbearably forgetful-and of realizing that there always have to be a few people who through their conscious suffering are willing to balance the selfishness and foolishness and forgetfulness bearing down on the world we live in.



The fact that here lies a crucial aspect of Jung’s own work can seem hard to believe nowadays, considering all the ways it supposedly has been developed and practised and carried forward. But this happens to be perfectly true. Even his insistence that, far from wanting to put a stop to people’s suffering, his real wish was to help them suffer consciously can be easy enough to forget. There is almost nobody, though, who cares to note the lengths Jung himself felt pulled to go to so that he could suffer consciously for the sake of the sacred-“because I wanted God to be alive and free from the suffering man has put on him by loving his own reason more than God’s secret intentions”. Of course he hardly expected anyone to take this kind of talk seriously, which to a certain extent explains why he qualified it straight away as just the words of a “mystical fool”. 20 What makes things so intensely troubling is that the selfishness and unconsciousness in question, the vanity of all the reasonableness Jung is referring to, are never only haunting the most likely places; the obvious places; the predictable ones. That would be far too straightforward and easy. They are everywhere but, above all, where you would least expect: in the brightest philosophical ideas, the noblest spiritual thoughts. They tend to gather and flock around accepted concepts which sound so innocent and self-evident, so plausible and sensible, nobody thinks to question them. They attach themselves to the unshakeable convictions about ourselves that we picked up as children and keenly hold on to; the firmest of beliefs about our future, present, past. And this applies also to our concepts of healing. In fact it applies even to the most basic language we use for healing-like the simple, familiar word “therapy”.



Nowadays just the mention of therapy is enough to conjure up ideas of psychotherapy, physiotherapy, all the different ways I can be helped to get better. But this is not how things used to be. Originally, therapeia in ancient Greek meant caring. And when you go back in time as far as you can, you come to one very specific and constant expression. Therapeia theon meant attending to the divine, caring for the gods and serving them, doing what humans ought to do to make sure the gods are all right. 21 Then something quite interesting happens. There is a particular place where Plato focuses his thoughts on therapeia theon, caring for the gods. And basically he argues: “Care for the gods? Why on earth would humans want to care for the gods when the gods are so much greater and better than us that there is absolutely nothing they could need? It might be nice for people, if they really want, to make a little gesture by paying the gods a bit of attention. But to feel one is doing something useful: that wouldn’t just be pretty stupid. It would be utterly ridiculous.”22 There is no need to say too much about the enlightened rationality here, which from any reasonable perspective all sounds exactly the way it should. And so far we have only come as far as Plato-his greatest disciple, Aristotle, is still waiting at the next turn in the road. This is the way it works, though: one more milestone in the human mind’s adventure of submitting everything to the criteria of its own reasoning, just another pace in separating people from the sacred. As I mentioned earlier, words matter. In spite of all the ready justifications and superficial rationalizations, they have a significance and importance far beyond what our reasonable minds want to tell us. Always there are the consequences.



Once something like these thoughts of Plato, however original or unoriginal, has been put into words there is no going back. And from a deeper perspective nothing could be more disastrous because his argument is just another nail in the coffin of our relation to the sacred-is one more step in articulating the unconscious attitude that says “Let’s make sure the divine takes good care of us. But as for finding what, in reality, the divine might possibly need: let it look after itself.” From here onwards one can sit back and watch how the idea oflooking after the gods starts, almost as ifby magic, vanishing from the western world. It gets pushed more and more to the fringes of ancient culture until even the notion of actually caring for the gods ends up being dismissed as something altogether alien and foreign: superstitious, barbaric. 23 And those consequences extended far beyond Greece or Rome. For thousands of years Christians have flocked to church not to look after God; only to check that God is looking after them. The real motive is hardly to take care of Christ but to go on making quite sure every week he is still alive enough, suffering enough for our sins, to keep on attending to us in our absent-mindedness and self-absorption. Of course there have always been the exceptions among Christian mystics. And I have seen for myself in rural Greece how old women go on caring for the icons inside the small churches as if they are caring for Christ and his mother in person. A sense still stays alive across different communities here and there, just before they are crushed by the ruthless forces of western progress, of what it means to care for the divine. But in general the one thing civilized Christians have learned to care about is how God, at least what they think of as God, is going to care for humans. And now it never for a moment occurs to us that the



divine might be suffering, aching from our neglect; that the sacred desperately longs for our attention far more than we in some occasional, unconscious spasm might feel a brief burst of embarrassed longing for it. Rationality, spirituality, therapy of every possible shape and colour: the truth nowadays is very simple. They are all about me and me and me. And the more tricks we create for helping to make some connection with the sacred-the flattering idea of co-thinking or co-creating with the divine, oflooking to find the gods inside us, learning how to tame the divine archetypes so they will make us happier and more fulfilled-the less anyone understands what attitude and effort are really demanded if the divine is going to receive the help it needs from us. The gods, if they still exist, are just here to give us our therapy because therapy is now for us. God forbid it would be for the gods. The one tiny technicality we forgot is this: that whenever we take everything for ourselves we end up with absolutely nothing. First we have to know how to care for the gods if the gods are going to care for us.


There were other consequences to Plato’s reasoning, too. Whatever we like to think about our own intelligence, the gods are not fools; and even if nobody pays much attention to the events once set in motion, they do. It needed a while-as always-for people to start noticing, but eventually the reports began flowing in. Plutarch, a famous Platonist from around the time of Christ and also a priest at the Delphic temple of Apollo, took the trouble to note how “oracles which once used to speak with many voices are now completely finished, like springs that have run dry”. He went on to talk about whole regions where “a great drought of prophecy has covered the land” because most of the old oracle sites “have been taken over either by silence or by utter devastation”. A couple of centuries later Porphyry, another well-known Platonist, quoted at length from two oracles essentially repeating the same message: it was already finished. One of them describes how the earth has swallowed back into her depths the thousands of oracle sites she had allowed to exist on her surface. The other says that now “there is no reviving the speaking voice” of the Delphic oracle which had become weaker, and dimmer, until finally it was locked up by “the keys of unprophesying silence”.



And then there is the notorious “last oracle” ever given at Delphi which, with simple dignity, announces that for Apollo everything is over. “He no longer has a speaking spring: even the talking water has come to an end.” 24 Predictably it was militant Christians who helped shape the convenient narrative that all the old, primitive oracles had been silenced thanks to the welcome arrival of Christianity. But this is just religious opportunism at its best, and is completely to miss the larger picture-because the Platonists who so dutifully reported on the changes were much more than innocent witnesses. With the flood of their words and writings, the endless stream of their philosophizing and theologizing, their constant theorizing and moralizing about the gods, they were intimately implicating themselves in what was happening. If the gods as living realities had mattered to them as much as they liked to believe, they might have done something genuinely noble: might have sunk into silence in sympathy and solidarity so they could be there together with the gods, could help them, support them. Instead, they kept themselves busy papering over the cracks with cosmetic solutions while thinking and talking and writing without a break. And it never occurred to them that the gods might have had to go silent precisely because of all this human droning, because of so many people claiming to know more about the gods than the gods themselves. It’s a very common mistake and, psychologically, one of the easiest of all to make. We are so taken with the familiar sound of our voices that we much prefer to talk on and on about the sacred instead of allowing the sacred a chance to speak: instead of giving it the freedom to share, in its selfless ways, the secret of its own intentions. I remember once, as a teenager on my own, walking across Tunisia. A car came along and the driver stopped to offer me a



ride; he turned out to be the country’s leading psychologist. He took me back to his family estate and, as the sun began to set, told me there would be a very rare gathering of Sufis starting soon out in the countryside that same evening. He offered to take me: I said that would be wonderful. ”And before we leave”, he mentioned, “I have a home video I made of a similar gathering that I am going to show you.” I explained, as politely and firmly as I could, that this sounded ever so fascinating but why spend time watching the video when we could be experiencing the actual reality? He insisted, and by the time the film had finished the gathering was already over. The quality of the video had been so poor one could hardly see a thing. This is how the .human mind works: what we make, what we think, what we say, is far more important than any reality beyond or behind us. We were so busy with our flimsy substitutes that, before we can even register what happened, the moment of opportunity has passed. That reality is already gone. The Platonists had their very intelligent and reasonable strategies, then, for filling the void left by the departure of the gods. Now, naturally, we have ours-much more advanced, of course, far more sophisticated than theirs. And no strategy can possibly be better suited for us westerners, more pampering of our egos, than the evolutionary one. The gods left because we no longer need them: we have moved up and on. It was high time we were starting to stand on our own feet, take back responsibility for our lives. We had to begin making rational decisions for ourselves instead of depending on some oracle or divinity-although, needless to say, it’s always in our power to bring back the gods at any stage if we ever want to. As a matter of fact, so some stories go, these changes were overdue because the moment had arrived for everyone to grow



more conscious. And all that’s needed, now, is for intuitives to come along to console us with wonderful stories about where everything is heading: the fantastic human adventures in unfolding consciousness that lie ahead. 25 The grim reality happens to be a little different, though. As Jung saw, and often tried to emphasize, certainly we can look back and see changes or developments here and there across the last two thousand years. It would be incredible if we couldn’t. But to suppose humanity, with all its pious hopes and illusions and aspirations, has made any real or fundamental progress: this is only another illusion because the problems we face now are just the same as they were two thousand years ago. And we are just as unprepared to face them. 26 Culturally, we are so obsessed with the restless myth of constant evolution-material progress, spiritual progress-that we fail to see what fools we make of ourselves or how blinded we are by our obsession. At times, to be sure, Jung could appear to be going along with this grand mythology. He could seem to be endorsing wholeheartedly our western “cult of progress”; reinforcing the “illusion” of our civilized triumphs. But both “cult” and “illusion” are his own words. And often he acts exactly like the Presocratic philosophers, thousands of years before him, who realized that the only way to communicate anything at all to people was by speaking their illusory language and sharing their illusory words. 27 The basic truth was that for him our much vaunted civilization and consciousness are the most fragile, delicate, ambiguous achievements. This is why-when confronted as a man of science with the infallible dogma, which somehow still finds a place in the popular imagination and even in the minds of prominent Jungians, that not only civilization but also consciousness must of course both be evolving-he continually found himself forced to hesitate.



And instead of agreeing, as any respectable scientist would automatically have been expected to do, he would use the sharp edge of irony or the darkest possible humour to question everything. 28 Here, too, one could say he happened to be well ahead of his time. After all: in an essential sense he was only anticipating the growing awareness among leading-edge scientists today that our human species has been degenerating for thousands of yearsphysically, mentally, genetically. But it does take time for facts to find some small place among all the paradigms and dreams of evolution. 29 And there is also much more to the matter than that. In fact it’s only by going back far beyond the alchemists, even beyond the Gnostics who attracted so much of his interest, that one can really start to see why Jung’s questionings and hesitations were so justified. We still have the writings of the famous “Presocratic” philosophers who, two and a half thousand years ago, analyzed the human condition in searing and terrifying detail. But the way they described people then-hopelessly deaf and blind to reality, arrogant and confused, superficial and living their lives in a total dream, devoid of the slightest genuine consciousness and begging to be deceived, trapped by their own fantasies but imagining they are free-is not just some record of how things once used to be. It’s a perfectly accurate portrayal of the human condition right now. Because they understood so well the timeless intricacies of the human mind, they not only were able to predict with the finest precision how their own teachings would be misunderstood and misinterpreted by intellectuals like Plato or Aristotle a century later. They were even able to anticipate the way their



teachings would be twisted and distorted by the smartest of scholars down to the present day. For them, real awareness was the rarest achievement imaginable. To them there was no greater miracle than how humans can manage to blunder through the whole of what they call life in utter unconsciousness while all the time dreaming that they are aware. And their accounts of the human condition are uncannily accurate accounts of us, today, because there is no difference whatsoever between people’s unconsciousness now and then. 30 A lot appears to have happened in the last few thousand years. Great philosophers came. Christ came. Television came. And nothing changed. We may have a few more tricks up our sleeves now along with some extra gadgets in our hands; but in terms of consciousness and conscience, hypocrisy and brutality, love and morality, at the very best we are just the same. As for all our proud ideas about evolution-they are simply our best excuse for running from the reality of ourselves. Of course we can go on thinking we are free to believe the lovely fantasies put out by people stuck in their throats and brains: their noble and bright ideas about where humanity is certainly going. The trouble is that intuitions and intuitives are sometimes right, often wrong. And the only way of actually learning the truth about the past and the future for ourselves is when the spark of consciousness we are has been rammed, inch by painful inch, right down into the silent depths of our entrails.


In the darkest past it was traditional when starting to speak, or coming together with others, to invoke the presence of the sacred. Perhaps you will be able to sense that this is what, in my own way, I have been making the effort to do. But I also need to make the point quite clear that invoking the sacred means invoking what’s really sacred-not what might have been sacred for some other person or people hundreds, even thousands, of years ago. We have to start by invoking what’s sacred for us. Of course we are free to complicate things and get into the messiest of arguments by insisting we are not at all sure what that would be. The simple truth is, though, that we all know perfectly well what’s sacred to us; and have for a very long time. Ever since we were children we have been able to sense what’s sacred in a landscape-the sudden rush of birds in the morning, the smell and touch of a flower petal, watching sunlight make the trees or grass so luminously and shockingly green. We all know what’s sacred right from the beginning. No one ever has to teach it to a baby or child: they know just as we knew. They can find the sacred in a forgotten little back alley somewhere. They’ll find it even in a weed, on a piece of moss. But this leads straight to the real question that needs to be asked. I have to admit it’s the last possible subject I would want



to talk about, although at times like this there is no choice. And here is where things become really difficult because in terms of the West, in terms of this strange culture we have created and made our own, it’s not enough to look inside ourselves and see what we can see of the sacred. We also have to search ourselves and discover what it is inside each of us that-individually, but also collectively as a part of this western civilization-is hell-bent on destroying the sacred. This is the question which has become so scary and also, for the sake of being truthful with ourselves as well as honest with each other, so necessary. To be real about the sacred is to see not just what inside us is not sacred-but what it is inside us that’s against the sacred. What is it in our civilization that’s systematically, year after year and minute after minute, mile after mile and inch by inch, gutting everything sacred it touches: devouring it inside ourselves at the same time as irresistibly, inevitably, eating it up outside us in the beauty of landscape and nature? When I was a teenager I often would hitchhike down from London to Stonehenge, sometimes in the middle of the night. And it was so simple there. I could creep in and sit quietly underneath the old stones, meditate, stay as long as I needed. Then, after I learned to drive and came back years later, aside from all the extra rows of barbed wire it was almost as if you had to buy a bunch of postcards just to be able to get somewhere close. And this is simply a symbol of what we do. Whatever hasn’t already been wiped out-but by some miracle happens to have been preserved-now has to be preserved from us and put as far away as possible out of reach. There is no trusting ordinary human beings with the sacred, with what used to be sacred. Then there are the times my wife and I have spent in North America. I can still vividly remember neighbours where we



used to live, off the coast of Canada at the heart of what was once a sacred island, cutting down the enormous fir trees that held up the whole balance of nature for the sake of making a few dollars; the local government in New Mexico, bent on building a huge road right through the middle of inconceivably powerful petroglyphs that had been carved into the rocks tens of thousands of years ago; the magnificently brooding nature in North Carolina which had turned its face away from humans and hidden its deepest secrets because of what it had to witness the white man do to his black slaves, but above all to the Native Americans. And Switzerland is where I used to come, together with my family, when I was a young boy-the exquisite houses with their beautiful fo;:ades and painted shutters, flowers outside, merging effortlessly into the landscape. Now, all you see everywhere is lumps of concrete because this is the only thing people know how to build in our progressive society: concrete blocks. There is no end to the stories anybody could tell; and there is no need to ask if someone doesn’t know what I mean, because everyone does. But the question that does have to be asked is: what is it that’s happening? What is this huge tide of so-called progress that’s sweeping everywhere and pushing everything, everybody, on? We walk and watch. We are bound to notice, maybe sadly as we get older, how much things keep changing from the ways they were before. And we just do our best to make do-to justify it all as livable, bearable. Here and there we’ll do our best to compensate: put a little Buddha statue in our garden, drive an environmentally friendly car, even join a protest. But each of us, deep down inside, realizes what we are up against and knows very well the tide will never be turned back like that.

7 40


Perhaps now and then, as we look around at the wrecking of nature and the sacred, we might be caught off guard and surprised by a tiny voice in our head that quietly asks: “But hasn’t it all been done rather well?” Especially when we are tired, it can feel so much easier to rationalize everything rather than go on feeling at odds with the hard realities all around us; to do a few calculations and count up the new advantages, benefits, blessings. And there is a certain calm reassurance that comes from joining in with the collective explanations-except that none of them ever comes anywhere close to being an explanation which is authentically real. We can try blaming the population explosion. That’s true to an extent, but barely scratching the surface. We can put the blame on technology. That’s an effect of the tide, not its cause. We can feel justifiably horrified at the diabolical twistings of Christian doctrine that end up claiming Christ abolished the sacredness of land and nature when, by dying on the cross, he left the human heart as the only sanctified place on earth. 31 There is an answer, though. It’s the simplest of explanations that takes us back even beyond the beginnings of Christianity. And its simplicity must be the reason why our infinitely complicated minds have overlooked it. The answer is that every civilization has a sacred purpose. But we have forgotten ours. And it’s because of this forgetting that everything aroundas well as inside-us has gone so terribly wrong.


It was a huge surprise for me, at age seventeen, being forced by some mysterious but irresistible impulse to go back to the ancient Greeks to find out where western philosophy began. This was nothing at all, though, compared to the shock of being drawn to study in detail the surviving words of the earliest Greek philosophers-the so-called Presocratics-only to discover that the modern accounts of who they were and what they did are total fictions. Nothing, for the writers of those modern accounts, is sacred. If mistranslation of the ancient texts is needed to bring them into line with present-day assumptions, then they’ll be mistranslated. If mistranslation isn’t enough, and the only trick guaranteed to silence their message is to change the ancient Greek texts themselves, that’s exactly what will be done. But once you understand the motives and methods behind all this nonsense, the how as well as the why, it’s not so hard to put that little bag of tricks aside. The first of the early philosophers I encountered was called Empedocles. And over a period of time he demonstrated to me in every conceivable way that nothing could be further from the truth than to dismiss people like him as the primitive thinkers we imagine them to be.



These weren’t some childish intellectuals, trying to pass themselves off as creators of the ridiculously complicated mental games later thinkers would soon start playing in their bizarre pursuits of wisdom. On the contrary: they happened to be great mystics already in possession of a simple wisdom that was as practical, and focused, as it was subtle. They included immensely powerful beings who-in harmony with others, in the deepest coordination-consciously worked together bringing a whole civilization into being. These were people who laid the foundations of philosophy, of science, logic and cosmology, law and medicine, healing and education by fetching the seeds of all those disciplines from a different reality that the would-be guardians of our culture now don’t even know exists. They would go into another state of consciousness and bring their gifts into this world from the world of the sacred so that a fresh civilization could begin. And yes, one of the many things this means is that even western science itself had a sacred source. But don’t think for a moment that what I am offering here is some kind of mystical interpretation. Qyite to the contrary, it happens to be the only account capable of doing full justicewithout any arbitrary distortions or wilful neglect-to the ancient evidence and documentation. All those hard-headed rationalists who for centuries have looked down on mystics as foolish creatures, divorced from reality, have got everything wrong. It’s they, themselves, who have lost any touch with the mystical reality that their science and their rationalism originally were meant to be.32 Simply to get a glimpse of this turns everything on its head and inside out. Then for the first time you start to observe and really understand the process of history, of culture, of civilizations,



just the same as if you are watching a plant; a flower; any natural object. After all, every culture is precisely what its name says it is: a part of nature, something organic needing to be tended and cultivated according to principles only planters and farmers know. To the mind that tricks itself into thinking it sees everything in rational terms, nothing could sound more nonsensical. And this is a crucial part of the problem because we take our familiar ways of perceiving so much for granted that we completely forget what lies at the root of our own thoughts-not to mention our senses. Perhaps it will be best if I just give the example of someone closely related to Empedocles. His name was Parmenides, and he is still remembered in the West as the inventor of reason or reasoning; as the ultimate founder and father of logic. But in spite of his reputation, regardless of the hundreds of thousands of pages later philosophers have written around and about him, we have no idea any more of what logic for Parmenides really was. Exactly the same as Empedocles, he put everything he had to say into poetry-into an incantatory text full of the strangest details and repetitions, a poem that used the ancient techniques of magic for carrying the listener or reader into another state of consciousness. And originally this was the purpose of logic in the West, just as it was the original purpose of philosophy and science and culture as a whole: to take us back to the sacred. Parmenides paid the greatest attention, using all the appropriate language of his time, to explaining what happened when he was carried as an initiate along the path of the sun and down into the world of the dead; to describing how he had been given the gift of logic by the goddess Persephone, queen of the underworld, who greeted him down there in the darkness at the roots of existence.



And, in origin, this was the whole point oflogic: to allow what had been received from the divine to complete its perfect circle by taking us straight back to the divine world it had come from. That was how logic had been given. It wasn’t logic as some dry discipline to tire our brains out and make us lose our ways in endless thinking. It was a logic given through visions and dreams, a gift to plunge us into the depths of ourselves and strip us of all our thoughts so it can train us to become conscious of the sacred reality at the heart of everything-ever-present, totally aware of itself without the slightest shading or distance, the living power behind the whole of existence. There is nothing here even remotely similar to the kind of logic inflicted on children at school or whenever some person, far older and taller than ourselves, accused us of acting or talking illogically. Neither does it come anywhere close to the mechanistic accounts of it by writers like Nietzsche or Heidegger, who were only dressing up in brighter clothes the fashionable mistakes of their time. 33 And the reason for this is very simple. In our progressive sophistication and evolving civilization we have wiped out any trace of the truth that logic, along with everything else, once had its sacred place and purpose. And once the awareness of that has gone, everything else goes wrong. As for all the learned mumbo jumbo which has been repeated century after century by academics, theologians, esotericists, about the existence of some fundamental contrast between limited human logic and the divine mystery of revelation-this is just one more sign of how completely and utterly we have forgotten that logic in its origin was the most perfect example of revelation. 34 And anyone who looks closely at what this means will start to see it’s far more than a question of history, or philosophy, or literature.



As a matter of fact this isn’t even about ideas. It’s about us; about the lives we live, or try to live; about the deepest purpose of our existence.

It also is a constant reminder that truth has to be found not by taking the easy route of flying off to heaven in some dazzlingly brilliant blaze oflight but by following the path of the sun down into the depths of night where everything, including the darkest reaches of ourselves, is connected to the sacred. These were the famous laws oflogic that Parmenides inserted into the world as a seed, a gift for western culture, twenty-five hundred years ago. Like so many other lawgivers in that part of the world he belonged to, he made it quite clear none of these laws is to be changed. Nothing should be altered. Nothing must be added. Nothing was meant to be taken away; and the reason for this, too, is very simple. Just like other lawbringers-or prophets-of that time, he was bringing his laws as a message directly from another world. 35 This all became as clear as day to me in the 1970s during my years of research at Cambridge University. For me, too, it was a lonely path as I followed the thread of Parmenides’ own words that led far away from everything anyone would even remotely associate with logic. Instead, to my growing amazement it plunged me straight into a world not of rational thought but of prophecy and inspiration; of ecstasy and other states of consciousness; of incantations and the use of repetition; of deliberately accessing the realm of visions and dreams through the practice of incubation or lying down to meditate in dark places. It was only many years later that, all alone in a London library one Saturday afternoon, I happened to come across a large book that had just been published. When I opened it I realized, to my even greater amazement, it contained the results



of archaeological work which without my knowledge had been going on for years at Parmenides’ old hometown called Velia in southern Italy. Whole series of inscriptions, including one for Parmenides himself, had been found along with a set of statues all carved out of blocks of marble. And together they were linking him with a tradition of inspired prophecy; with the mastery of ecstasy and different states of consciousness; with the use of incantations and deliberate repetition of words and sounds; with the practice of incubation by lying down in dark places to access the world of visions and dreams. 36 Every detail I had deduced, one by one, from the surviving text of Parmenides’ poem was confirmed with the most haunting and striking precision by physical pieces of stone hidden for centuries inside the earth. But of course to see the significance of that confirmation means having a pair of eyes-which is very far from common in a field where professional scholars dedicate themselves to the collective pursuit of blindness. I remember once giving a lecture, to a group of international specialists who had gathered in All Souls College at Oxford University, about the self-evident links between these archaeological discoveries and Parmenides’ own poem. After my talk, the most famous scholars in the room came up to me together and said indignantly: “But we are philosophers! We deal with ideas! Why on earth would we bother ourselves about lumps of stone?” And that’s fair enough, except when what was carved into the marble happens to be about ourselves-or rather is ourselves. On an obvious level the inscriptions and statues are presenting a lineage of prophet-healers whose wisdom was transmitted, by adoptive father to adopted child, from the time of Parmenides down into the Christian era. But on another level they are simply telling the story of our own origins-together with our destiny.


This was the original fragility of western logic and western science-as flexible as life itself, in their prophetic nature as delicate and frail as a flower. To practise that logic, this science, meant learning how to work with the circlings of the sun and finding how to breathe. It was to sense when to think and when to go still; when to talk, when to go silent. It meant knowing when to lie down to rest, sink into sleep, do nothing. But, naturally, that raises the question of what happened. And the simple answer is to look to the one place whose influence Parmenides and his successors struggled, to the point of death, to protect themselves from: all the questionable grandeur, the intellectual aspirations and military ambitions of ancient Athens. 37 Aristotle lived not much more than a hundred years after Parmenides. Like Parmenides, he had what I guess one could call a professional interest in logic. He also showed a particular interest in the subject of prophetic dreams-of dreams said to be sent by gods to humans to give them the kind of knowledge or guidance they could never discover by themselves. And that interest is, one could say, more than a little interesting considering how Parmenides himself had belonged to a prophetic tradition familiar with invoking as well as interpreting the divine guidance offered through visions or dreams.



A lot can change, though, in the course of a century-which helps to explain why Aristotle in Athens would choose to use his new-found logical powers to denounce prophetic dreams as fantasies, denounce people who claimed to have prophetic dreams as uneducated idiots, and above all denounce as absurd even the idea that dreams could be sent by the gods. Of course this sounds, now, very modern and very familiar: so familiar, in fact, that there is no stopping academics from praising Aristotle to the heavens for his sophisticated reasoning as well as his brilliant insight on precisely this subject. After all, his reasoning is theirs and theirs is essentially still his. But sometimes it can be useful to preserve a bit ofbalancenot to mention a little sanity. So I will give just one token example of Aristotle’s brilliant, sophisticated demonstrations that prophetic dreams can’t possibly have anything authentic about them. To quote his own proof in his own unforgettable words: it’s totally obvious that no gods are involved in sending dreams because, if they were, then “they would only communicate during the daytime and they would only communicate with the wise”. 38 As for the part here about communicating with the wise, it’s best not to waste any precious breath on it-aside from noting that, in Aristotle’s ever so slightly narcissistic mind, wisdom was the exclusive preserve of advanced philosophers like himself or his teacher Plato. And if the gods refused to communicate straight with him, he could be perfectly sure they would never go near anybody else. But as for the part where Aristotle imagines he can lay down some rigid rule ·about gods only communicating during the daytime: this is where anyone could wonder what on earth is going on.



To solve the riddle isn’t so hard, though; and to follow the knotted thread of his logic needs no more than the slightest familiarity with the writings of his famous teacher. Plato was very clear, especially near the end of his life, about what a wise person’s attitude should be to night and night-time. According to him it would be wrong even to waste a moment’s thought on describing night, or night’s darkness, as something inferior to daytime. For him the fact of the matter was that they have absolutely no virtue at all, no presence, of their own because they are nothing but the absence of day. And what this means in practice is that any conscious, responsible human wanting to live an intelligent life would be well advised to drown out each night with mental activities by squeezing into it as many daytime tasks as possible-because “while asleep no one is worth anything”. In other words: Parmenides’ emphasis on the unique access offered to the heart of wisdom by letting oneself be carried into the darkest, most feminine, most unconscious depths of night is not only ignored. It’s methodically, systematically excluded. 39 And it’s exactly the same story all over again when Plato finds himself having to explain why the supreme group of overseers or lawmakers he envisaged for his model state would need to meet, each single night, “from earliest dawn until sunrise”. In the eyes of the older mystics and philosophers whose tracks he is following very closely here-as he so often used to do-no other time of day could possibly be more logical because this was the most sacred moment of all. It was that timeless, magical instant when the bringers of divine laws are able to fetch their gifts of justice and rightness out into the light from the darkest depths of the night. But Plato was far too bright a thinker to accept light’s dependence on night or its indebtedness to darkness. And so he came



up with a reason of his own, the smartest justification he could think of, for deciding on such a highly unusual time. “This”, he explains, “is the time that will allow everyone involved the greatest leisure and freedom from all their other activities and commitments.” Once again, Plato has worked his peculiar inverted alchemy. The choice had nothing to do with the sacredness of that dawning transition, so infinitely significant and subtle, out from darkness into day. And certainly it had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that ancient tradition connected the source of prophetic wisdom-as well as lawgiving-with the ambiguous, feminine, hidden realms of darkness. It was just about re-arranging one’s hectic calendar to avoid scheduling conflicts.40 Simply to touch on such subjects is one of the most difficult things to do, because no sensible person is even meant to mention them . It’s like scratching at the belly of reasonableness; systematically unravelling the myth of rationality that took hundreds and thousands of years to build up. As for Plato, of course he has been turned into one of the greatest intellectual and spiritual heroes in the West. And it’s understandable enough that people coming across his writings are often overwhelmed by their beauty. What’s a little harder to understand is that their real beauty is above all the beauty of the landscape he had been allowed to wander through, crushing the plants and flowers in the process. Appearances can be very deceptive. The more one grows familiar with what came before him, the more possible it is to appreciate that his magnificent myths aren’t really his at allexcept in the sense that he took them, without any formal acknowledgement, from the followers of Pythagoras who were gracious enough to host him on his visits to Italy and Sicily.



I should add, though, that this was hardly such a big deal for the Pythagoreans themselves. Evocative myths about the soul and its fate happened to be the most openly accessible, least valued or esoteric aspect of their teachings. 41

But even in the process of taking these myths over Plato did a splendid job of misunderstanding them, rationalizing and trivializing essential details, gently jumbling things up. Constantly in his artful writings he changed what wasn’t meant to be changed, modified what ought to have been left alone; cleverly transferred to his own philosophy the language of mysteries and initiation which once had belonged to the sacred, to another world. 42 Today, though, everything I have just described is fine and perfect: altogether commendable. That’s progress. It’s innovation. This is the way everyone does business in our restless, egoistic, well-trained culture of thieves. But the fact is that, in mentioning these things, I am not talking as a part of the world Plato or Aristotle helped to create. I am speaking on behalf of the world they almost destroyed.


We have slipped step by step into hell without ever noticing it, and should try to see why. If Plato was an accomplished philosopher in the modern sense, he was far more accomplished as a producer of outright fictions. And this mattered in ways that, because we have made our nests and homes in those fictions, are a little hard to grasp. Now we are perfectly used to being surrounded, even smothered, by facts and factuality. But, back then, reality hadn’t quite detached itself yet from myth. And this meant that the process of making history was still a relatively simple matter of writing it-rather than having to go to the tedious trouble of trying to rewrite it. All in all it was an extremely creative time, depending of course on how you chose to use or misuse the opportunities you had been given. 43 In one of those imaginary dialogues that Plato became so famous for creating, he invented the fanciful character he refers to with deliberate vagueness as a stranger visiting from Velia. Velia just so happened to be the name of Parmenides’ home in southern Italy-of that very same town where the prophetic tradition flowing from him as founding father went on being quietly transmitted, generation to generation, adoptive father to adopted son, for over five hundred years.



And with the help of this background you’ll be able to appreciate what Plato was doing when, in a flight ofimagination, he decided to put into the mouth of his fictitious visitor from Velia the idea that it’s time to murder “father Parmenides”. To state the situation with the crudeness needed: Plato is doing the very same thing with this Velian tradition that he also did to it in other fictional dialogues he wrote. Deviously, insidiously, manipulatively, he insinuates himself into a role that isn’t his; inserts himself uninvited into an initiatory lineage he doesn’t belong to; systematically sets about sabotaging it by destroying it from within. Certainly he puts on a good show of making his imaginary character sound ever so nervous about the whole matter, hesitant to carry through with the murder, reluctant. And the reason he does this is because he absolutely had to. At Athens, just to mention even the thought of committing patricide was considered one of the most atrocious crimes conceivable-the quintessential offence of inflicting violence on one’s ancestors. 44 But behind all the veils of literature, fiction, hesitation, that act of killing father Parmenides was carried out. The murder was done, only to be repeated time after time by scholars whose sole purpose and comfort lie in the world created by that murder. And not many things in our culture are more important than to understand just what it is that Plato killed; how he killed it; why he killed it. As the founder and father of his lineage in Velia, Parmenides had allowed himself to be taken on the most terrifying journey imaginable-straight down into the underworld, the bowels of all existence, to meet the queen of death. From every normal or sane perspective it was the craziest thing anybody would be willing to do. And it was the most horrifically frightful place anyone would ever want to go. This is why, right down to the present day, there are scholars who instinctively



try to keep the whole subject of the underworld hidden unde_r wraps: who do anything they can to cover his destination up and pretend it doesn’t matter at all where Parmenides might have arrived on his mythical journey. But it could hardly have mattered more. If you were extremely lucky you might make it down in one piece, then even come back alive-and safe. To anybody else, the underworld was deadly.45 Here, and nowhere else, is exactly where logic first came from. Logic in its purity, as originally introduced to the West, was the demonstration that nothing can ever change or die. Every single thought or feeling or perception that you imagine you ever thought or felt or perceived still exists, as a total reality, together with every other perception and feeling and thoughtnot in some restricted or abstract or qualified sense but in the fullest, most concrete sense imaginable. Everything you thought you’d forgotten even including the thought itself, everything you had tried to push aside, every waking experience together with the most haunting or fondest of dreams, is still alive in this place where everything you thought of as life is already dead and where nothing ever dies. In other words: western logic in its origin was the language, the experience, of the underworld. But that means the only way to understand it is if you are able to go there, is to be taken to the realms of the dead, let yourself be dragged there-far away from what Parmenides poetically described as the beaten track of humans with all its obsessive distinctions between existent and non-existent, alive or dead. And this is precisely what, if you allow it, his logic still has the power to do. This was Persephone’s gift from her place beside the roots of all existence, beyond even life and death: a gift freshly delivered



by Parmenides, as part of his prophetic message, at the dawn of our western world. Plato, though, was an entirely different kind of fish. Of course he had heard about the Pythagorean discipline of learning to

face death before you die; he would even write some inspiring words about it. He was extremely efficient, too, at publishing colourful myths about the underworld. But as for going there-that was another story altogether. And besides, in the figure of Parmenides he found himself confronted by an inhumanly gigantic problem. Like any intellectual he felt the desperate pressure to think and discriminate and reason. The trouble is that Parmenides’ logic in its craziness, its unbroken wholeness, its uncanny stillness, excludes those frantic human activities right from the start. In other words, his logic was the end of everything we think of as logic-before logic as we know it had even begun. So, if Plato was going to do what he wanted to do, he really had no choice at all. He would simply have to get rid of Parmenides before Parmenides got rid of him. Through the fictitious voice of his visiting stranger from Velia, he describes exactly what kind of clever mental tricks would be needed to silence the message of the goddess: the tricks of insisting that yes but also no, no but in another sense yes. And he set about killing her message so effectively we don’t even have any memory, now, of the fullness that was lost. This is what led to the murder of Parmenides’ divine logic, which through its utter stillness is beyond the reach or grasp of human thinking, and to the replacement of logic’s sacred laws-in defiance of all the ancient warnings-by human reason, by the endless superficiality of its restlessness and questioning, its continuous need to qualify and argue about everything just like some petty lawyer.



The irony is that Plato was so fascinated with the power of his own thinking he actually believed he had invented something needed; something new. In fact all he had done, though, was make the same old mistake that Parmenides himself had expressly warned against right from the start-the fatal mistake of constantly qualifying oneself, living as if something is true and real in one sense but in another sense not, just like any other human. 46 This is what happens when you think you can improve on laws brought straight and fresh from another world. But there is also a far greater irony than that. At the very beginning of his incantatory poem Parmenides had already described how people who keep on torturing reality like this, breaking it up into tiny pieces with their minds, aren’t even living on the surface of the earth as they imagine they are. In fact they are not alive at all. They are just wandering ghosts, drifting backwards and forwards and then around and around-“twin-heads, knowing nothing as they are carried along in a daze, deaf and blind at the same time”-down at some lonely but haunted crossroads in the underworld.47 And this is what happens when you think you can cut hell out of your little, well ordered life. As soon as you believe you have conveniently removed the need to visit hell, the moment you decide you have the right to silence the voice that speaks from the depths of hell, you end up in hell yourself. Or, in other words, one has to make the journey to the underworld to discover everybody is already there.


Then there is the madness. Down in the underworld where western logic comes from, where the roots of earth and water and fire and sky merge into a single whole, the entire world as we think we know it with all its imaginary distinctions and divisions disappears. Everything we cling on to, everything we hold important, is gone. And Aristotle was just being true to his usual sensible self when, with more than a little anxiety, he pointed out how utterly unreasonable Parmenides’ logic happens to be. He complained that, if taken seriously, such a logic would lead any rational person straight to madness. Or, as he liked to say, anyone refusing to distinguish between ice and fire is not just crazy like any other crazy person-but is even madder than a madman. This wasn’t only Aristotle speaking, though. Through his words you can still hear the kind of heated discussions about logic, or reason, that he along with Plato both found themselves being drawn into during the early days of the new Platonic Academy. The logic presented by Parmenides was a disaster from beginning to end because it wasn’t just irrational. It was downright insane. 48 But that’s no more than half of the madness; and there is another side to it, too.



Plato himself exposes it only too well when he has his imaginary stranger from Velia express near panic at the insanitythe sheer madness-of being forced to commit patricide by killing “father Parmenides”. And there was every good reason for fear considering how no crime was more polluting, or terrifying, in the Athens of Plato’s time than the crime of murdering the father. In short: we have all been tricked and deluded into believing that the birth of western reason was some virginally pure, immaculately rational creation. On the contrary, it was the result of methodically killing off what Parmenides had brought into the world of the living as a divine gift from the realms of the dead. Right from the beginning, what we call reason came into existence with blood on its hands because it was just madness reacting to madnessthe ludicrous human attempt to cover over the legacy of a divine ecstasy which sees straight through our world of illusions to its deepest source. 49 To judge from the glibly dismissive statements made by Plato, then Aristotle, then any number of later scholars, the whole affair could seem nothing more than a joke. But this unswerving glibness is the single factor that makes the murder so appalling, so completely crazy: is what was already preparing an entire culture for the insanity of reason. Here-not in some pretty picture postcard portrait of divine madness or prophetic frenzy-is the reality of what was done to the West to pollute the purity of sacred madness. 50 And there is nothing coincidental about how, on his own tortured journey down into the world of the dead, Carl Jung came to see and record things which by now should be haunting in their familiarity. From the very first moment he embarks on the account of his descent towards madness, which was to stay secret so long together with his Red book, he starts introducing the two spirits




or beings who are crucial for understanding his entire work-and life. What he calls the spirit of this time is full of pride in its brash arrogance and reasonableness; blind and blinding; attached to cleverness and knowledge and science, or at least what it thinks of as science. But the other spirit he meets there, down in “the dark underworld of the spirit of the depths”, is the mystery that in a moment snatches that all away. And few things could be more shocking as well as significant than the way that, almost at once, this spirit of the depths confronts Jung with the question: “Have you counted the murderers among the scholars?” Before he even has a chance to respond, though, the spirit of his time jumps straight in and sums up for Jung the totality of everything he will ever be able to write or say: “Whatever you say is madness.”51 So, as soon as he comes near the halls and corridors of the underworld, the first things he is made to face are the murder committed by scholars and the inescapableness of madnesswhich is hardly surprising, considering how the crazy reality of that same underworld was just what scholars in their own madness had started murdering twenty-five hundred years ago. Jung, however much or little he knew with his conscious understanding, was instinctively coming back home to where it all began. And one other thing he is taught there, in a hundred different ways, is the utter madness hiding at every turn behind reasonableness and reason. He is even shown how reason is a poison that has slowly infected and destroyed us all. 52 Lessons learned in the underworld, things seen and heard, don’t go away. They leave their mark for the rest of one’s life. They stay, unforgettable-and in the case of Jung, he was left with an indelible impression of what we usually call reason which is anything but usual.



For most people, anyone would have to be a little crazy to cast the slightest doubt on the value and usefulness of reasoning. It’s a natural human faculty to take full advantage of and perhaps, in the case of an artist or mystic, put aside for a while when not actually needed. But the fact is that, to him, it wasn’t just an aspect of human nature available for us to use at any time we choose. Neither did he feel any pressing need to create some supposedly balanced picture by going out of his way to emphasize that reasoning has its good side alongside a bad one, is available to be used well as well as misused. In his eyes it was something much more dangerous, potent and real-even when it might appear to be hopelessly ineffective. For him it was poison and murder, the thinnest of veneers on top of madness. It’s a constant outrage against everything natural outside or inside us; an act of violence, almost apocalyptic in its intensity, aimed at the very essence of nature. To be quite clear: it’s not just that rationality in its laziness, or rigidity, sometimes accidentally allows these atrocities and abuses to happen. The cleverness of rationality is the atrocities and the abuses itself. And all I can say is that his intuition was uncannily accurate. Even though he wasn’t familiar with the historical intricacies of how reason and reasoning came into being, he happened to be perfectly correct. He was right about the murder. And he was quite right about reason being the dully unconscious part of us that, thanks to its unnaturalness, forces the sacred to sufferbut also forces those few humans who know what they are doing to suffer, very consciously, so they can compensate for the reasonableness by restoring some balance between the human and the divine. 53 To read Jung as he wanted and needs to be read seems, no less than in the case of reading ancient Greeks like Parmenides or



Empedocles, almost impossible. It stretches our fixed expectations too far; distorts beyond every tolerable limit the ways we struggle to keep some illusion of peace with the world around us. Commentators are only too eager to leap on any comment he makes about reason that appears positive, or at least soothingly neutral. They don’t hesitate to take isolated statements out of context without looking to left or right-creating the image of a Jung itching to condemn anyone with the nerve to speak negatively about reason for doing the damnable work of the devil, ready to denounce anybody crazy enough to deny that reason and science are humanity’s crowning powers as nothing but deluded prophets. 54 What they forget to mention is the way he goes straight on, without the slightest trace of apology or shame, to do the devil’s work himself while playing to perfection the role of deluded prophet. And what they somehow fail even to register is the heavy note of sarcasm that he constantly inserts into his remarks about reasoning: the ways he diabolically twists and turns the word, openly defies and mocks our reasonable assumptions, goes politely through the motions of praising it as humanity’s highest power only to undermine it without a moment’s mercy and unceremoniously tear it from its throne. 55 In any normal world this gulf or abyss between what we expect and what Jung delivers, these assaults of his on what he can sometimes seem to treat as a virtual personification of reason, would raise an enormous question about what lies behind his persistent approach to our precious faculty of reasoning. Here, though, I will just say what needs to be said-which is that this is the inevitable result of going to hell. The underworld, as Jung understood very well, is the world of paradox: the paradox of darkness inside the light, of the sanity in madness. 56



And of course paradoxes like these are anathema to reason because its chief purpose is to cover them over while making sure, at the same time, to hide its own true face. But there is nothing more paradoxical than the fact that to get to see what it really looks like behind all its make-upbehind its apparent familiarity, the banality of its ordinariness, its everyday innocence and blandness-means having to make the journey into another world. Our modern fascination with thinking and reading about mythology can make it easy to imagine that finding one’s way down to hell is something extremely noble, even very reasonable. And I have encountered plenty of Jungians convinced that all it takes to be initiated personally into the mysteries of the underworld is a few well-regulated sessions of what’s known in the trade as active imagination. None of this, though, comes anywhere close to the reality. We each have our own hell-but, paradoxically, the underworld is the underworld because there is nothing personal inside it that hasn’t been stripped out. The underworld for Jung is the same as the underworld for Parmenides or the underworld now. It’s just waiting for anyone crazy enough to be taken there. And there you are made to face the truth in its nakedness that can be almost too terrible to bear. This is why on the most basic, instinctive level scholars have . had such a hard time accepting that someone like Parmenidesfounder of western logic-or Pythagoras would have been forced to visit the world of the dead while still alive . This also is why they try so desperately to intellectualize the terrifying, transformative power of Parmenides’ logic. And this is why until recently Jung’s assistants, editors, publishers worked so hard to cut any mention of the underworld out of his writings: is why they tried to suppress the direct



parallel he himself was so keen to insist on, between his own otherworldly journey and the traditional ancient Greek descents into the world of the dead. It’s why no one would allow him to place right at the start of his famous biography-in the original classical Greek, as he requested-the three words which, for him, were the most perfect motto to sum up his life’s story as a whole. Asmenos ek thanatoio are the words from Homer’s Odyssey that expressed Jung’s infinite relief at being allowed to return, alive and in one piece, from the underworld. They mean “Glad to have escaped from death”. 57 Now, of course, we have the published evidence of his R ed book to offer some fuller flavour of where he went-and what it did to him. We can read Jung’s own words insisting that only he and nobody else really knew what happened during the three days Christ spent in the underworld, because he had experienced it. And we have his own account of how he came to realize that “travelling to hell means becoming hell oneself”. The trouble is that even being able to study what he said doesn’t mean anyone is going to understand it, because these are hardly the easiest kind of words for people who are happy reading or writing about somebody else’s journey to hell. 58 In summer 1662 an Italian painter, Salvator Rosa, finished a portrait called Pythagoras emergingfrom the underworld. Down near the bottom right-hand corner of the painting is Pythagoras stepping out of the blackness, bent over with a twisted grin on his face: the infinitely ambiguous grin of someone who has come back to be of service to humanity but has seen through and past the crap of human illusions. Filling the left half of the picture, in total contrast, are his enthusiastically devoted disciples-radiant with gladness and



light. Women as well as men, some are raising their hands in thanks to heaven. Others are reaching down to help him up without any idea of what they might be touching. And they don’t have a clue what they will be doing in the next few years or generations to turn his whole teaching upside down. 59


Then there is the embarrassing part-just a matter of names, anyone could say, except that sometimes names can matter. Carl Jung insisted endlessly he was a man of science: a true scientist, empirical scientist. Those around him have, if possible, been even more devoted to promoting his scientific status and standing. But of course whenever there is such intense insistence, so much enthusiasm, one always has to look a little more deeply at what lies behind. 60 And there is a lot that lies behind. Documents keep emerging that show just how keen Jung was to conceal the realities of his work, his interests, himself behind the safe label of a scientist. He planned in advance what to hide and the best ways to hide it; busily manoeuvred behind the scenes to block anyone who tried questioning things he didn’t want questioned or saying things he didn’t want brought into the open; was far less concerned with any truth than with the often paper-thin impression of being a scientist that he chose to create. 61 For every strong argument that he was a genuine and respectable scientist, there is just as strong an argument that he wasn’t. But the strange thing is that-in all the pitched battles which keep being fought between those denying Jung was a man of science and those insisting he absolutely was-no one seems



to pay any attention to the balanced statement of his position offered by Jung himself. In perfect and exquisite alignment with the idea of two different spirits already introduced by him right at the start of his R ed book, Jung liked to talk about himself as having two different personalities ever since he was a little child. What he called no. 1 personality, like his “spirit of this time”, is not just filled with egoistic arrogance and pride. It also loves parading as a master of dead systems, of sophisticated emptiness and glibness: hides its chronic uncertainty about itself as well as everything else behind the smiling face each of us presents to the world with all our vanity and illusions, pretence and confidence, our thirst for impressive learning and expertise, the craving for reputation or success. And personality no. 2 is what has access to the spirit of the depths, to the realities of soul and meaning, to nature and to the life hidden away behind madness as well as death-is our “true self” living our “true life”, is the dark root of our being. Or as Jung expressed this difference on a different register: his no. 1 personality, with its unquestioning allegiance to the spirit of this time, is exactly what attracted him to science and reason. But the spirit of the depths, through his personality no. 2, is precisely what shattered that attachment; is what left him deeply humbled, an intensely lonely human being. 62 For Jung himself these two contrasting personalities, along with the two spirits they correspond to, are fundamental facts of living in the world. There is no merging of them, harmonizing of them, even any integrating of them. They balance each other as forces of nature, complement each other, struggle with each other in a conflict that never comes to an end. 63 And if to our modern ears such a harshly irreducible dualism sounds disconcerting or downright bizarre, that’s just another



sign of how far we have drifted away from the roots of our own civilization-because this same basic idea of one spirit attracting and attaching us to our human world of appearances in constant conflict with a spirit of darkness and madness and the underworld that threatens to snatch us away from everything human goes back thousands of years. To be more precise: it was absolutely central to the teaching of ancient prophet-healers such as Empedocles, or Parmenides. In fact it was, quite literally, the idea around which their entire teaching revolved. And when Jung turned to acknowledge those who had been the main inspiration for his own uncompromisingly dualistic view of the human psyche, it’s no accident that he chose to mention Empedocles by name. 64 The respectfulness expressed by Jung’s surface personality towards the arts of science is perfectly plain to see. It decorates and embellishes his work. Almost everywhere it’s on the most brilliant and ostentatious display, just like the gaudiness of a loud brass band doing the best it possibly can to drown out the mysteries of silence. 65 But that still leaves open the question of what his other personality wanted to say-even though the answer is equally plain. For a long time it was known that Jung’s Red book contained his deepest realizations as well as his most hostile statements about science. In fact that was one of the main factors always weighing against making it public. 66 And now that the book has been published, this is exactly what we find. Right at the start he spells out how his whole experience of descending into the underworld, along with his entire process of self-discovery, began from the moment when the spirit of the depths “took away my belief in science”: how it took all his knowledge, all his rational understanding, and dedicated them instead to “the service of the inexplicable and paradoxical”.



This is nothing, though, compared to what is still to come; is only a prelude to the point where Jung sets about describing with the most exhaustive attention to detail how, even more so than reason, western science in spite of its many great benefits and undeniable advantages is literally a poison. To be more specific, it’s a poison that only magic incantations can ever hope to counteract. And here, too, he is very careful to spell out how these magical incantations will need to be sung if they are going to have any effect at all. They will have to be sung “in the ancient manner”-an unmistakable reference by Jung to those ancient mystical practices which, in their own time, were so intimately familiar to both Parmenides and Empedocles. 67



It can be interesting to watch the reactions of those who at first were fullest of enthusiasm for the Red book-how unnerving they find these unscientific ideas, how embarrassing. They have the best possible reasons for doing so. After all, Jung himself felt intensely self-conscious and embarrassed about them for as long as he lived. 68 And it’s only too easy for Jungians as well as Jung scholars to want to smoothe everything over by assuming that as he got older, became a little wiser, he snapped out of them and had realized the error of his ways. He didn’t. All he did was become a bit more guarded about what he knew-although you don’t have to look very far to see what that was. To be sure, it was an important part ofJung’s mission to have his discoveries of the unconscious taken seriously and accepted by the scientific community. But at the same time he saw where science happened to be heading: straight into the abyss of destroying itself along with the rest of humanity. From the time he wrote the Red book and for the rest of his life, one word that easily came to his lips whenever he found himself talking about the effects of western science or technology was the word “catastrophe”. Another was “apocalypse”. And when



he decided to talk about what he was most afraid of, just a few years before he died, he stated without any hesitation: “modern science”. 69 But there are also two other words that never seemed too far from his tongue when the issue of modern science and its consequences came up. Those words are “diabolical”; “devilish”. 70 And this is where we have to choose if we are just going to take from Jung whatever scraps attract our fancy while disposing of everything else-or if we are actually prepared to listen to what he says, pay attention to his language, follow where he goes. Constantly he trumpets in every possible direction the announcement that, far from being a mystic, he is only a scientist. Family, entourage, associates join in as loudly as they can. Even the slightest taint of mysticism: that’s something to be avoided like a plague. 71 But then there is the reality of what was quietly going on inside him behind the brass band, without all the racket and noise. For everyone-from his own family through professional colleagues to occasional visitors-it was an open secret that this is where the real Jung was to be found, but that he kept his mysticism well hidden for the sake of keeping his scientific reputation intact. And if one were to ask why he didn’t just go public and explain himself, instead, the answer is that he did. In fact he explained himself only too clearly, although it seems there are very few who have wanted to hear. For example he once gave the whole game away when he complained how “people nowadays have such hopelessly muddled ideas about anything ‘mystical’, or else such a rationalistic fear of it, that if a mystical experience should ever come their way they are sure to misunderstand its true character and will



do anything to protect themselves against, or just repress, its numinous reality.” In other words: even to mention the word “mystical” in public is utterly futile because, as a direct result of people’s “lack of insight and defective understanding”, anything you say is guaranteed to be taken the wrong way. So for him the solution was quite simple. Either don’t talk about mystical matters at all, or talk about them in such a veiled way that only those with ears to understand will understand. And then, as if this wasn’t enough, there is the letter he wrote that comes as close as anything not just to giving the game away but to laying out the most basic rules of the game. This is the same letter-excluded as if almost deliberately from the volumes of his published correspondence-where, humbly, intensely alone, he describes how in his life he had chosen the path of conscious suffering because he realized this is the only way to compensate for all the suffering inflicted on the divine by humanity’s love affair with rationality. Immediately after stating that he saw it as his central role to help “God to be alive and free from the suffering man has put on him by loving his own reason more than God’s secret intentions”, he goes straight on in the very next sentence to state the truth quite bluntly: “There is a mystical fool in me that proved to be stronger than all my science.” 72 Here we have everything Jung always seemed so determined to take his public stand and protest against. And what we can see is that, according to his own criteria, he is no longer just a man with all his delusions playing the role of prophet. He is also a mystic together with all his foolishness. He is no mystic and he is a mystic. He is exactly what he denies. And precisely what Jung would like to accuse others of




he is guilty of, himself, just like the proverbial snake devouring its own tail. You could say it’s only a question of one single letter. And of course, in the most literal and obvious sense, that’s true enough. But nothing is more important than to understand how these things really work. Nowhere does he claim that the mystical fool in him is as powerful as the whole of his science-is equally strong. Instead he states, quite correctly, that it proved to be stronger. And there is a very simple reason why. The spirit of the depths will always be at odds with the spirit of our time, just as personality no. 2 will always be in conflict with the superficial wants and needs of personality no. 1. But at the end of the day, as he makes so clear in his Red book, the personality and spirit of the depths prove to be stronger. 73 They are more powerful; more valid. You could call it a law of gravity: the logic of the underworld. They are what truly matters. In spite of all the idiotic sound and short-lived fury, they are what has the last word.


In confronting the science of his time Jung was faced with quite a dilemma. And ultimately there’s only one honest or truthful solution to this dilemma-which is to face the fact that modern science in its existing forms, with its existing concerns and preoccupations, is no real science at all. It’s just a few broken, badly twisted fragments of what science should and could have been. In the most fundamental sense it’s nothing but a “bastard of a science”, as Jung once described the arrogant attitude that thinks it can block off access to the world of the unconscious: that believes it has the right to isolate and insulate humans from the living realms of the dead. 74 Jung’s own struggles to engage with science, to question science, redefine science, warn against science have kept people busy trying out every conceivable combination of engaging with his work or questioning it; redefining it; warning against it. But what’s so easily forgotten in this battle of interpretations, personalities, words, is that on the deepest level there was never any need for Jung to set about redefining anything. In spite of modernity’s ruthless demands and its endless pressures, all he was doing was returning as a matter of instinct to what western science had been from the very start.



He was only finding his way back to what science, in the naturalness of its fragility, had originally been intended to be-a science already perfectly integrated with prophecy and healing, a science based on the arduous process of consciously descending into the unconscious, of going down into the world of the dead to bring back for the sake of others the gifts of wisdom and life. This instinctive process of rediscovery has nothing to do with any familiar cliches about evolution or regression, least of all with any complicated intellectual schemes about regression and evolution at the same time. On the contrary: it’s just the simplest possible matter of genetics, of ancestry, of a reality forgotten by us on the surface of ourselves but remembered very well in our hidden depths. We have to keep bearing in mind that for Jung-unlike Freud-the word “primordial” doesn’t point to something we need to make a problem of or try to leave behind. “Rather, it is the solution to the problem of modernity.” And the solution to the problems of modern science lies in what science once used to be. 75 · That raises the question of how, or where, the primordial is to be found. It’s perfectly true that Jung had the finest oflibraries, full of books he studied and loved. But those books aren’t what made him what he was or even gave him the knowledge that he had. Assessing his wisdom by his books, inventing the fictional personality of a “textual Jung”, is the height of academic absurdity-because he, better than anyone, knew there is no way of finding primordial reality in some library. It has to be discovered inside oneself; can only be uncovered on the harrowing journey down into the world of the dead. As for the process of reading, all the fuss about references and different texts: the best they can ever do is lend a helping and reassuring hand, offer a few timely echoes, give a bit of extra



substance and form to what one already mysteriously knows, add some firmer outlines to the affiliations and lineages vaguely intuited inside. 76 And as for where Jung’s affiliations lie, I really don’t have to

say too much because just a few pointers should do. For example, the ancient word that perhaps came closest in meaning to our “scientist” was physikos-a term often used to describe people like Parmenides or Empedocles. But not only is it the origin of our word “physicist”. It was the source of our word “physician”, as well; and Parmenides, together with Empedocles, happened to be healers too. This is nowhere near the end of the story, though. Apart from being the common word for a physicist or scientist, a physician or healer, physikos was also the title given to alchemists alongside those prototypical scientists we like to call magicians. And that brings us straight back to Jung’s endless insistence on portraying himself as a pure empiricist who focused all his attention on the facts of experience-because the one specialist who used to concentrate more than anybody else on gathering and working with hard empirical facts was, as we can see so well with Empedocles, the ancient magician. 77 But this working correspondence between Carl Jung and the earliest Greek philosophers isn’t simply a matter of generalities. It also functions, as of course it should, even down to the kind of details so tempting to slip over or ignore. Jung found himself using techniques for communicating, talking, writing, which would be extraordinary enough if used by anyone nowadays-not to mention a scientist. What those techniques lead towards is something almost completely submerged, something very different from the heady world of literary borrowings and theoretical ideas that tends to keep historians so frantically distracted.



Hardly visible any more, thanks to the efficiency with which it was stripped out of what he wrote or said, is his fondness for expressing himself through repetition: through circling with his words around the same subjects, time and time again. 78 But that’s exactly how Parmenides as well as Empedocles also used to express themselves-repeating and circling around themselves, from beginning to end, because it was the way they had been shown and inwardly trained how to speak. After all, this was a time-honoured incantatory technique among magical healers: among the type of prophet-healer, or iatromantis, that they both really were in spite of the endless later attempts to dress them up as something else. These prophethealers knew instinctively how to use their own words not only to keep focused, but for the sake of healing; were able to use repetition for opening the doors to the unconscious and easing the passage into the underworld. 79 Just as surprising, by any modern standards, is Jung’s very conscious policy of deliberately using ambiguity in his writings. “The language I speak must be ambiguous, must have two . ” meanings. He is careful to explain why for him this is so important. Intentional ambiguity is far superior to any other available form of communication. Ambiguity alone corresponds to the nature of reality, as well as the reality of nature; can do them both justice. 80 There are some situations, though, where no amount of explaining is going to make any difference-will ever be enough. For its own part, the bustling Jung industry has naturally or rather unnaturally done everything possible to sidestep any real consideration of the subject. In fact even the people who used to pride themselves on their personal closeness to Jung have shown how ill-equipped they are for understanding why he valued ambiguity so highly. 81



But Parmenides and Empedocles, as well as other G reeks, were also very deliberate in their use of riddles and ambiguity. They, too, understood that only by being intentionally ambiguous can one evoke the fullness of reality and do it true justice. And it was their welcoming of ambiguity that, more than anything else, brought Aristotle’s mockery and fury down on their heads. As he irritably complained about Empedocles, who in his life was the perfect example of a prophet-healer: ”Avoid ambiguity! This is what people like to use when they have nothing to say but want to pretend they have something to say, like Empedocles for instance, who tricks and deceives with all his circlings and circumlocutions. And his listeners end up experiencing exactly what people in general tend to experience when listening to the words of prophets because, so long as prophets are speaking their riddling ambiguities, everyone just mindlessly nods along.” 82 Ambiguity has been well and truly excluded, drowned out by the voice of rationality-by what Jung liked to describe as the “petty reasoning mind, which cannot endure any paradoxes”. Or at least this is what rationalists choose to think. But what they forget is that originally ambiguity and paradox were an integral, essential feature of real logic: of the sacred logic which always stands untouched although savaged by their reasoning. 83 Ambiguity is the voice of prophecy, and at the same time is like the wildness of nature. It plunges us into the streams of paradox, is a constant confrontation with our conscious need for control. And, strangely enough, ambiguity itselfis not ambiguous at all. On the contrary, it’s perfectly clear; an endless invitation into the open landscape of reality. Paradoxically it’s only the process of reasoning that, with each step it takes in trying to stamp out ambiguities, ends up creating new ambiguities instead- even



while pretending to be on top of the very same situation it’s simply making worse and worse. The voices of Parmenides or Empedocles or Jung are so confusing to our conscious mind because they are calling us into places most people have lost the courage as well as the knowledge to go. Their ambiguities are total non-ambiguity: the confrontation of humans, then as now, with the truth of themselves. But, at the same time, these ties linking Jung to the ancient world reach even further and far deeper than that. Memories, dreams, reflections is the name of the famous book, published just after he had died, that he ended up ambiguously referring to as his “so-called autobiography”. And certainly it contains his own voice-along with the voices of his secretary, his editors, his publishers. Many expert hands came together to smooth over and set straight what he had said; domesticate it; “auntify” it by making it into something even the stuffiest of old maids would be happy to hear; and discreetly, when necessary, help it disappear. Some of the things he wanted to say managed to get through. A lot ofwhat he tried to communicate never did. And even though a more or less accurate record survives of the original memoirs that Jung himself dictated over a period of two years, it never was too easy for much information about them to trickle out. 84 One of those things that has never seen the light of day was his reply when-during the first week of October 1957-he found himself being asked to speak out honestly about the real nature of his work. This is hardly a surprise. His reply is bound to sound so insignificant to any ordinary reader, so trivial, so devoid of any serious or meaningful content, that it would be a miracle if the passage had been allowed to stand in his published biography. As he starts speaking, you can still hear him laugh. He declares that his entire work, all his presumed wisdom and grand



achievement, boils down to this: that he fell into a gigantic hole from which he somehow, if he was going to survive, had to dig himself out. Then-after quoting those words of Homer that always came to him whenever he pondered his luck in returning alive from the underworld, “Glad to have escaped from death”, and making sure to recommend them as the best possible motto for the story of his life-he goes straight on to make the simplest of statements. His whole science, he explains, derived entirely from his visions and dreams. 85 In just a couple of sentences, with the help of that free association he fell into when dictating his memoirs, he has spelled out a message which from any normal point of view is not just striking. It’s incomprehensible, paradoxical, bizarre. And this is precisely why no one has paid it any attention. Jung is saying that everything one could refer to as his science really came to him from the underworld; from visions; from dreams. And this is exactly what Parmenides, master of incubation or entering other states of consciousness, lord of dreams, had demonstrated when he brought logic along with the freshest discoveries in western science straight back from his journey into the underworld. Jung is simply reliving the way things used to be. But just as Parmenides’ teaching would soon be covered over, and its integrity broken by Plato along with so many other well-intentioned thinkers, the spirit of this time got to work very quickly and efficiently to cover over what Jung had wanted to say. In fact it’s essential to remember that the entity he chose to refer to as the spirit of our time isn’t only obsessed and fascinated with all the trivial superficialities of life. Just thinking about it that way could hardly be more wrong.



On the contrary, there is nothing this spmt enjoys more than entertaining itself with what it doesn’t understand-than fiddling and tinkering and interfering with the wisdom of the depths, subtly and imperceptibly rationalizing it, ever so cleverly making a mess of it by presenting it with a grand flourish as something of its own. 86 And if you wanted, you could call our present understanding of Jung a masterpiece manufactured by the constantly bustling spirit of this time.


Just two days earlier, on the 1st of October 1957, Jung was at Bollingen: the stone tower and retreat he himself had designed, then helped to build, near the far upper edge of Lake Zurich. Here too, as soon as he started talking, it was about his original dreams and visions-the visions and dreams from which all his later work would flow-that he wanted to speak. His words, that day, were duly noted down as usual by his secretary. And eventually they would turn up, mauled, as one of the most thrilling climaxes in the published version of his biography. Right at the end of the most central and crucial chapter called “Confrontation with the unconscious”, Jung appears in grand style as hero of the depths: the hero whose whole life was transformed when he managed, more or less successfully, to work on the chaos of unconsciousness and against overwhelming odds hammer it into a shape and form he could present to his contemporary world. Of course such a heroic role is something Jung himself delighted in playing when his no. 1 personality took the stage. And the myth of him striving valiantly with his “ordering mind” to inject some conscious arrangement into this unconscious chaos-just like the familiar notion of the unconscious as an incredibly destructive power that has to be worked with



but mastered, organized, directed-is central to almost any appreciation of his work. 87 There is only one problem. On that day at Bollingen, what he was saying could hardly have been more different. He begins-not ends-with a comment about his more or less successful effort to impose some order on the seething material erupting out of the unconscious; compares his initial visions and dreams to the flow of fiery lava which, after a while, turns into solid stone so it can be worked on. But only now does he explain where all his thoughts and comments have been leading: “It was the passion and intensity inside this fire, it was the stream of lava itself which is the force that compelled whatever happened to happen. And so, completely naturally, everything fell into its own proper place and order.” And this is where we need to pause before going on. Jung’s words move. On this particular day they were carrying him towards open acknowledgement of how the unconscious takes care of everything. We can have any number of anxieties about disorder; any amount of busy fantasies about imposing some order on it. And the reality all the time is that the unconscious forces we are so frightened of are themselves, paradoxically, mysteriously, the true creators of order. But for Jung’s secretary, Aniela Jaffe, this was all moving in the wrong direction. She was writing a biography, almost an autobiography-and in her commendable devotion wanted to keep everyone focused on the virtues of the great man himself, not on the virtues of some unnameable unconscious. So, with plenty of well-intentioned thoughtfulness, she scrupulously reversed the flow of his thinking; systematically inverted the sequence of his own sentences; ever so delicately turned everything on its head. 88



If it was just a question here ofJung’s own secretary dutifully tampering with the things he said, that would be significant enough. But it’s only the start. Almost as if he guessed that not everyone would understand what he had tried to say about the stream of lava taking care of everything, Jung goes straight on to repeat himself in even simpler and blunter terms. And now we no longer have to rely on Jaffe to educate, or entertain, us. The one scholar who for years was able to study these unpublished interviews independently, and in far greater detail than anybody else, decided to make a translation of this very same passage available. And here, word for word, is his version of what Jung at the tower in Bollingen went on to say next: “I wanted to achieve something in my science and then I was plunged in this stream oflava, and then had to classify everything.” The trouble is that, here too, Jung said nothing of the kind. What he really did say was very different: “I wanted to achieve something in my science, and then I bumped into this stream of lava, and then it brought everything into order.” 89 Here is perhaps the closest one could come to a confession from Jung as an old man about what, in his life, was really what. The science he had tried to lay claim to, in spite of all his dashing dilettantism and amateur theatrics-on its own it came to nothing. All it did was bring him face to face with something infinitely vaster and more powerful than himsel£ And, from then on, that power arranged and guided everything. Of course you could say none of these distortions, these gross mistranslations, actually matter; and on a certain level you would be right. We are well past the stage where a couple more murders here or there are going to make much of a difference-and I am perfectly aware that, from any rational point of view, not one



single detail in what I have mentioned is worth thinking or even reading about. Besides, nothing would be easier than to say: We knew that anyway! It’s common knowledge that, regardless of all his warnings and cautions about the dangers involved, Jung’s whole work is based on his profoundest respect for the wisdom contained in our unconscious. The fact is, though, that it never was or ever will be a question of what anybody knows intellectually. We can understand everything just wonderfully on the level of theory; of principle. But that’s not the point. The point is to watch how even the people closest to Jung alongside the brightest, most scientific ofJungian experts change him; rewrite him; silence him. And we, too, might have the most brilliant knowledge lodged away in some drawer of our theoretical brain. But the only thing that counts is what each of us does in every moment with each thought of ours, every breath. All that matters is whether we can consciously stay with the mystery of the unconscious, helping it in its wisdom to arrange and order things, or whether we use our own accumulated wisdom to interfere. Naturally one could call these misinterpretations and mistranslations sheer human error. Anybody determined to be uncharitable could even call them downright negligence, or worse. And in a sense they are both; but in another sense they are neither. It’s not just that they emerge independently, spontaneously, from some intelligent individual here or there. They are simply collective manifestations of the spirit of our time. The trouble is that, in our superficially individualistic culture, we have no context for understanding this kind of mistranslation; no language; no frame of reference. For us, these misinterpretations are just accidents-if we ever notice them at



all. It doesn’t occur to us that there could be such a thing as a psychology of mistranslation, a pathology of rationalization. And this is because those murders committed, so many centuries ago, by Plato and Aristotle have become the stream we all swim in. Our entire lives are a rationalization: one big mistranslation. But that only ever becomes visible-if we can muster the courage to look-in the case where someone like Jung steps out of the stream. Then, it’s immediately the same old story as with Parmenides or Empedocles all over again. When Parmenides was taken down to the underworld only to be given everything he knew by the queen of the dead, she sent him back into the world of the living as a messenger: as a prophet whose job was essentially to do everything in her name. Of course, in this world of illusions and deceptions, he had to appear to be a human like any other human-and, if possible, play the game of humanity better than anybody else. But for Parmenides himself, the underlying reality was that everything was being ordered; arranged; forcibly directed and guided by the divine power of the underworld inside him. And, quite naturally, that’s not the end of the parallels. Just as Jung’s words were misinterpreted, mistranslated, altered, in exactly the same way Parmenides’ words were manipulated and changed to make him say what others wanted him to say: what they needed him to say.90 Back then, as now, one had to do whatever it took to make Parmenides take the credit for his wisdom-not the sacred. It was simply a question of how best to tamper with his words to arrive at the desired result; and then that result becomes enshrined as history, the history in which we silently agree to bury reality.


A few days later, Jung gave another interview which his secretary quickly transcribed. Vividly he describes what it was like as he started sinking into the underworld-having to learn how to find his way around in the world of the dead while still alive. This is where he mentions his unbearable aloneness because there was absolutely no one who could help or understand; tells about literally having to cling on to the table in front of him to prevent himself from falling apart; explains how he was terrified by the almost constant experience of feeling again and again he was being torn to pieces, ripped into shreds by the archetypal forces and powers inside him.91 And so we are brought back almost full circle to where we started, although now it should perhaps be a little easier to appreciate the true significance of what he goes on to say next. He talks about how horrific the whole situation was. It was one endless storm; and through everything he had to pretend to be a normal father, play the role of husband, function as a doctor. That he was able to keep it all up was a matter of brute force. Anyone else, he points out, would have been destroyed. “But there was a daimonic power in me.” 92 Amazingly, all it needs is Jung’s mention of being a normal father and husband and doctor-and suddenly we know without the slightest doubt just what he is talking about. It’s the same



with the famous passage in Memories, dreams, reflections where he describes having to keep repeating the address where he lives, or reminding himself he has a wife and children, just to convince himself that he actually exists. Jung is so normal, so like us! He is so grounded and balanced, so eminently human and sane: nothing could be clearer.93 And here, too, the significance of Jung’s continuing ability to play the role of father and husband and doctor seems so obvious. Here is a man with an unbreakable ego who, through sheer conscious force or willpower, was always in command and knew how to keep everything under control. The fact that he managed to turn up for meals on time, even do his military service, is irrefutable testimony to the strength of the human ego and living proof of the fact that never for a single moment was his sanity in doubt. This was a man consciously, triumphantly, taking his stand against the unconscious and winning out against it: an example to us all. 94 But then there is the small matter of whether we care to pay attention to what Jung himself actually said. Words, for him, mattered. He was only too conscious that the phrases and expressions he used had particular meanings, implications, innuendos which few people would ever care about or even notice; that it was a constant struggle, and losing battle, to try to preserve the “full value” of his words. 95 And that final mention of a daimonic power or force, a “damonische Kraft”, happens to be far more than some throwaway statement. On the contrary: the word “daimonic” meant something very specific, and perfectly consistent, for Jung. That’s hardly surprising, because it also meant something very specific and consistent for Freu~-and for Aristotle, and Empedocles and Parmenides and Homer.



Daimonic means what’s divine in us, or as good as divine. It’s what lies beyond or below or outside our human capacities, not to mention our human understanding. It has nothing to do with our own little conscious ego and the control we imagine we have, except for the fact that it’s guaranteed to disrupt the flimsy stability of our egos and smash all our illusions of control. It comes from somewhere else, is irresistible; mostly only shows itselfin certain people who can be described as blessed, or cursed, depending on one’s point of view. In Jung’s own particular case, he saw it as an inheritance transmitted to him very specifically from his mother: an uncanny gift that has its source in the unconscious, belongs to the unconscious, points to the unconscious. 96 And now-in the midst of the ordeal that during his interviews Jung kept using words like “terrifying” and “horrific” to describe, although his secretary very discreetly either erased or replaced the majority of them with nicer-sounding wordswe can start to see the horrifying paradox unfolding in front of us. Jung is not talking about his personal, conscious, human powers at all. Just the same as with the stream of lava: it’s the power which is non-human and beyond human consciousness, or mastery or control, that takes care of everything. Now for him, held between opposing worlds, nothing was simple any more. Even to be human, or act human, involved a power that isn’t human. Even the easiest and most trivial of things we all take for granted, like performing as a doctor or husband or father, literally required a superhuman force. Even the process of appearing to be normal was an act of magic. As for his ego, its only real role was to mediate and witness and watch-watch the unconscious struggling to master the unconscious, power engaged with power, daimon against daimon.



And if you think I am making this up, that’s simply because you are a stranger to the world of the ancient Greeks or the world Jung himself used to live in. In such a world it goes without saying that only what’s beyond human inside a human can stand up to the divine. It needs one divine force to come to grips with, or combat, or get the better of another. In the words of the famous old alchemical saying with which Jung was very familiar: Nature masters Nature, He physis

ten physin kratei. 97 In other words, it needs a non-human strength to become truly human. Even being the most ordinary human is, in reality, a superhuman task. And this superhuman task is what, for Jung, the process of seemingly human individuation happens to be. To engage in it one has to be swept up into a battle of the gods, which is why the Jungian process of individuation will never be for wimps. It’s not for those who are so terrified of being overwhelmed by the divine archetypes or of falling a helpless victim to their power that they think they can shrink away from them-as even the best trained Jungian analysts might try to do when they imagine it’s safer to identify with being a poor, feeble, limited human being. That, after all, is just to become hopelessly trapped in identifying with the dark side of the archetype of humanity. In what can be numbered among the most important outlines of his whole psychology that he ever wrote, Jung described how “the strongest and best” are those who invoke danger deliberately; throw caution to the winds; “purposely expose themselves to the danger of being devoured by the monster of the maternal abyss”. This is why true individuation is the rarest and most difficult thing. It’s a path so hard it can be almost impossible to follow through to the end. Or, as he would confess when hardly anyone was listening, it’s only for the very few. After a certain stage most other people



would be much better off just going back to church and living their collective lives like everyone else.98 The way is tough; immensely dangerous. Nothing at all is guaranteed because this is the way of the magician. As for those apparently simple words about “a daimonic power inside me”, so easy to slip over even for those who should have known better but didn’t, Jung had already said everything that needs to be said-because possession of a daimonic power is, as he explains elsewhere, precisely the sign of a magician.99 And this is what, inescapably and regardless of anything we think or believe, it all comes down to. An acquaintance of Jung’s, Miguel Serrano, has left a few notes about their meetings and correspondence. To him it was self-evident that, as he would write to Jung a year before Jung’s death, there are not many people who understand you-“not even your own disciples”. But he was also much more specific about what he realized made the man tick, kept him going; observed that “even though he fought against it, Jung condemned himself to be a magician who was willing to pass beyond the frontiers of official science in our time”. And as for this Jung he had encountered-“Jung, the magician”-only a poet or priest or magician would ever be “capable of propounding his message, interpreting the underlying language of his work, which is already there like a palimpsest”.100 Perhaps you won’t know what a palimpsest is. Not many people do. It’s an old Greek term: a word that describes the nature and fate of our western culture perfectly. A palimpsest is a piece of writing material, like an ancient papyrus, on which what was written originally has been rubbed out and erased so that something else-often an entirely different kind of text- can now be written on top.



Sometimes the original text has been erased so completely that it’s impossible to make out what it was, what it had said; or perhaps one never suspects there was anything else written underneath. But mostly it’s possible to make out the traces of a few words or isolated letters here and there-and even get a sense of what the obliterated text had been, of the deleted story it once wanted to tell.



I must have been about fourteen at the time. The situation is still perfectly clear to my mind. A girlfriend in London invited me round to her family home. “My parents are out for the whole evening.” And I remember thinking, “Well, maybe now I’m going to get lucky!” When I arrived, the first thing she did was to take me straight into the living room. Qyietly she said “There is something I’d like you to see”, before switching on the television just as a documentary was starting about a man I had never heard 0£ There were some impressive views of a magic-looking castle that the peculiar man, called Jung, had built on the edge of a lake; and they awakened something in me, strangely moved me. But for years all that stayed in my memory was the ghostly image of a tower beside a lake. And that was that. First I had to go through all my teens followed by every twenty: there are so many experiences we need to have. Soon I was into my early thirties and confronted with what, back then, seemed the most impossibly difficult period in my life. One day a resolution took shape inside me that it was time to get away. I had only just learned to drive so I packed some things in a car, got up before dawn the next morning to go down to Dover and catch the first ferry for Calais.



Then I did the same thing I used to do so often as a teenager when I was searching, seeking, but didn’t have even the remotest notion of what I was looking for. I would stand hitch-hiking at the side of the road, any road, and take the next ride that came along: letting the road itself guide me. And now, in the car, I just drove without the slightest idea where I was going. I would stop to stretch my legs, have a bite to eat, keep an eye on the car’s own needs for petrol and water and oil. Otherwise, though, I simply allowed the road to take mewithout a map, without even paying the least attention to any of the directional signs. It was getting dark when I found myself at the FrenchSwiss border. But still I didn’t have the tiniest interest in where this thoughtless experiment was taking me. Choicelessly I left the highway; watched myself driving along smaller roads, then streets; out into the cold December countryside. My only consolation was that I had a good sleeping bag and would be able to curl up comfortably on the back seat. I was pulled onto a country lane, caught sight of a railway track running close by. At one point something beyond any conscious control unexpectedly told me to stop: I pulled over, with some difficulty, into the tall grass growing beside the road. And then it was as ifl was being drawn physically out of the car, forced to cross the road, walk straight ahead into the pitch darkness without being able to see a thing in front of me. My only thought was that I hoped I’d be able to find my way back to the car. After blindly groping forward and sometimes stumbling I started noticing a sharpness in the air, felt I heard a strange murmur, sensed I could glimpse a hint of something shifting in front of me. Suddenly I stopped-realizing I had come to the edge of water. Then it was as ifl was being yanked to my left, guided near the water’s edge. There seemed to be some obstacles but nothing



was clear except for a single white blur that appeared ahead of me. I came closer; saw, with difficulty, that it was some kind of stone; and experienced the abrupt, almost unceremonious need to sit down. My last thought was how lucky I happened to be at least to be wearing a warm coat. And then any sense of myself was gone. I was no longer who I had been a minute ago, a lifetime ago. Without any warning or even the subtlest kind of transition I had turned into someone totally different-and yet no other than myself. Just as sharp and clear as if I was meeting my own image right in front of me, I was a knight. My hair, I noticed, had become a pitch but shining black. I was a warrior in the fullest sense: immensely powerful and destructive but in a proper, not a vicious, way. I was being confronted with myself as a destroyer. Even more, I was being shown the perils and dangers in this; the immensely difficult process of learning how to trust myself with this; how to discover, and keep discovering, its timeless essence which will always be beyond every positivity as well as negativity. But, at the same time, even to want to name this is to let it disappear. And then, in a stunningly dramatic moment, the moon came out from behind the clouds-close to full. Immediately everything was transformed. I glanced up and around and, to my amazement, I was right in front of the tower I had seen on television all those years ago: the tower built by that man called Jung. And the building itself was enough, straight away, to convince me of his greatness. On the one hand it was incredibly squat and strong, chthonic and rooted, a place that would never allow itself to be blown away; on the other, just like the place of a magical being or a structure from out of some fairy tale.

! 100


He has literally made a fairy-tale dream come true-on earth. But it wasn’t only my surroundings that had been transformed. Just as suddenly, looking towards the tower, I too had changed into the oldest and wisest of men. It wasn’t some change I was imagining or thinking up. It was there in my body, in the sensation of my face and hands. I could feel it in the flowing grey hair, drooping grey moustache, trailing grey beard, and in the physical wisdom which is as ancient as time. The wise old man is what he is because he has endured everything the earth can throw at him but, although he can seem so thoughtful to others, doesn’t think or consider. This is the state he always abides in, which is the place of no abiding at all where spirit is united with earth. He just is the earth’s suffering, made conscious; its beauty and pain; its humanity. And then-I don’t know how else to describe it-Jung came towards me, but not as a man although it was unmistakeably him. He came like a wind moving in a spiral, stirring everything but at the same time perfectly still. It was as if he was silently speaking from everywhere, but also from inside mysel£ He carefully explained to me the real meaning of the word “home”: where my true home is. At that time I had no way of knowing just how appropriate his advice would be, considering how I’d have to spend most of my adult existence moving from place to place without any fixed or ordinary home. He went into telling me, through the silence, what I had to do; offered me guidance for the rest of my life. But finally this strangest of meetings was over and I knew it was the moment to go. Before standing up I turned round in the moonlight to look at what, the whole while I had been sitting there, I’d been leaning against. The surface of the stone was flat but full of carefully carved inscriptions which, because of the shadows and the angle of the moon, were hard to read. But with patience



I could make out symbols for each of the inner planets-Sun, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, Mars, with Mercury on a little figure in the middle-and was drawn straight to the word kosmos, which had been written in classical Greek. So was all the rest of the inscribed text: a quotation at the top that I immediately recognized as coming from the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus and, at the bottom, a few famous words from Homer about being guided into the underworld “toward the gates of the sun and the land of dreams”. When I had managed to get up, I kissed Venus. As I walked down to the water’s edge, the moon was shining above the lake but also reflected just as brightly in it. There was the moon above, the moon below. And I was both.


Making my way back to the car was easy. Inside I took out the little black notebook in my coat pocket and wrote down everything that had happened, starting with the date for title-night of 23 December 1985. From that night on nothing for me would ever be quite the same. It was as if I had somewhere touched a consciousness of work to be done without having any conscious idea, yet, of what form that work would take. And I realize, needless to say, that in telling this I lay myself open to every kind of accusation. Even the fact that Jung created a retreat for himself, here at Bollingen, where he spent most of his time alone is troubling enough for a lot of people. It’s troubling for a very good reason. This is the place he was guided to withdraw to so that, over the years, he could nurture in solitude the prophetic secrets which had first been shown to him while he was working on his Red book. And that happens to be a side of him which in spite of, or rather because of, the Red book’s publication not everyone wants to be reminded of.1 Of course I am also aware that for people nowadays who boast about how they have gone beyond Jung and left him far behind-who laugh at him for his horrific lack of rationality



or truly evolutionary thought, who mock him for clinging to some quaint idea that life needs to have meaning instead of summoning the fortitude to embrace without any reservation our meaningless modern world- the tower he built at Bollingen is nothing but his “private psycho-Disneyland”. What they somehow fail to understand is that for certain individuals a base in nature away from the relentless pressures of such a wonderfully modern world, away from what Empedocles already referred to as “the ten thousand worthless things that exist among humans and blunt their cares”, is an essential reference point of reality and sanity inside our collective psycho-Disneyland. 2 But at the same time I am aware as well of how quick those who considered themselves the select few, privileged to be intimately acquainted with Jung himself, could be to complain that far “too many people live with an image of their relationship to Jung which is utterly unreal”. Needless to say, their point is unquestionably valid. The temptation can be irresistible to get caught up in some “fantasy relationship” with the man which has no grounding whatsoever in reality. And I will be the first to admit that everything I have said about my encounter with him at Bollingen is on any sensible assessment utterly, absurdly, unreal. At the same time, though, it actually happened. I was drawn there, to his tower, to sit in the dark against his alchemical stone, driven blind. 3 But I also found it very interesting to note as I wrote this book how-while Jung talks openly in his published memoirs about only being able to incarnate the living archetype of the wise old man at Bollingen, and nowhere else-the pages where he speaks out about the central importance for him of the archetype of the knight are locked up in what used to be a heavily guarded record of the interviews he gave just a few years before he died.



Hardly anyone had been allowed even to see that record, let alone read it, back in 1985. And, right down to this day, it has never been published. 4 Naturally none of this does anything at all to change the fact that, from a rational point of view, everything I have described about my invitation to Bollingen-arriving as if by accident at that one particular place out of all the countless millions of possible places in Europe-is unbelievable. Not to put too fine a point on the matter: practically speaking it’s impossible. But, again, it was only as I was writing this book that I came across a reference to the inscription Jung had carved in Latin just above his stone fireplace-right there at Bollingen. Quaero quod impossibile: “I seek what is impossible.” This is Jung himself in his own, carved words. He was never one more, pious believer in some ridiculously impossible dogma. On the contrary, he was a Gnostic who actively sought the impossible out. 5 And as for what Jung was referring to, with these mysterious words of his about seeking the impossible, we can still say exactly what that was. He was referring to the courage of those who are prepared, regardless of risk or cost, to make the journey into the underworld so they will be able to encounter the queen of the dead-so they can come face to face with the goddess Persephone. That, after all, is what Bollingen was for Jung. It was his point of entry to the underworld. 6 On the other hand it would be easy enough to say, because it would be true, that what most of the people around him managed to do was simply to turn his great impossibility into their many little possibilities-their professional successes, satisfying achievements and especially their reassuring understandings.



But as the one person who had sat with him during some of the most intensely difficult times in his life, and heard him say things he couldn’t tell anybody else, once stated: “no one, not even those closest to him, ever knew him as a whole”. In reality there was never an inner circle around him. There were only intensifying degrees of failure to understand the mystery and secret of what Jung was, or what his work was. As for those who would go on to explain how thoroughly and fully they understood him along with the most demanding of his writings, or congratulate each other on their complete and expert grasp of his ideas, it’s only logical to consider them the biggest fools. After all, one has to be infinitely careful in claiming to know anything about a person who often confessed he could never understand himself-and understood less and less of the mystery he was as he grew older.7 This is what happens when, every moment, one lives so closely with a mystery that one becomes it.

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The question of what Jung’s work was has been answered in a hundred different ways-and, in the most fundamental sense, never been answered at all. At least it can seem safe to say that, underneath the endless shifting of trends and fashions and interpretations, there is one unquestionably stable point of certainty. This is the fact that he had an unflinching commitment to the individual: was selflessly dedicated to unlocking the secret inside each of us and helping everyone towards the goal of self-fulfilment. After all, first and foremost he was a healer; a medical expert bent on treating people’s problems and curing them of their personal suffering; a therapist of the human psyche, a carer for the individual’s soul. 8 And this line of thinking is just fine, so long as you avoid looking too closely at what he meant by the word “individual”because then you will suddenly find yourself staring straight into a bottomless hole. As for Jung the sensitive, intuitive healer: the stories told by people who visited him, only met him once or twice, stayed to be treated by him, are almost as extraordinary as fairy tales. With his magical insight he saw straight into their core; recognized



them as an individual person in a way they had never felt recognized before. And certainly that’s one side of the coin. But there is the other side, too-which is that Jung couldn’t have been less interested in what we think of as the individual. It was only the impersonal realm beyond every personal undertone or overtone, the objective behind the subjective, that held his attention. Those around him were perfectly aware of the fact. His wife, always his strongest supporter and defender, could hardly have been blunter in her observation that he showed no interest in people at all “unless they exhibited archetypes”: unless they allowed something larger than the human, something numinous, to show through. And Jung’s own language was just as plain. The people who came into his life only concerned him if they had something from the world of the sacred to convey to him, tell him, show him. “The moment I’d seen through them, the magic was gone.” It was the daimonic power inside him, he explains, that ruthlessly and impersonally decided who would hold any interest for himand for how long. He had little conscious power or choice in the matter; was forced by something far greater to keep constantly moving, hurting himself as well as others, destroying friendships, creating bitterness and resentment, leaving acquaintances far behind.9 To be sure, on a certain level the reality of the individual was always absolutely central for him. His whole view oflife, especially as he got older, circled around the question of how individuals can find the inner courage to take a stand against “the spiritual and moral darkness” of governments which have grown far too powerful and seem destined to become even more intrusive in future.



But the trouble is that what Jung meant by warning against this moral and spiritual darkness, what he was pointing to in trying to shake people out of becoming just submissive and servile servants of the state, is something much more radical than most sensitive modern individualists might expect. Constantly he kept trying to warn about the living presence everywhere of forces that are working all the time to trick us into staying asleep. Even when writing his most rarefied essays about alchemy he couldn’t resist ending with a loud cry warning about Lucifer, the diabolical seducer, “the father of lies whose voice in our time, supported by press and radio, revels in orgies of propaganda and leads untold millions to ruin”-and is also perfectly capable of brainwashing us into believing we are individuals just because we think we can decide what colour car to buy, which television channel to watch, which spiritual practice to select for the coming week. The fact is that, for Jung, nothing was more destructive of the individual than the collective western cult of the individual. And to be a true individual by becoming aware of the archetypal forces that, from moment to moment, are shaping even our most intimate and seductive thoughts: this is the coldest, loneliest thing for anyone to do. 10 The real trouble here, perhaps the most crucial problem of all in approaching Jung, already begins from the time when he was making his way into and out of the underworld while starting work on the Red book. On a superficial reading anyone could mistake this book of his for a celebration, even a gospel, of the individual: encouraging people to find their own truth and just live it regardless of anything or anyone else. It’s only when one begins to read a little deeper that the underlying message starts making its way out-that the path towards becoming a true individual involves



suffering and being tortured to a degree which is unimaginable, being ground down into nothing, having any and every illusion of ever being a genuine individual stripped away. And it was out of Jung’s almost ritualistic work in producing the Red book that the most essential aspect of his whole psychology, what he called the process of individuation, dramatically evolved. But as for what he meant by this process of individuation: that’s a fascinating story in itself. Just the same as with the workings of alchemy, it’s the most natural process in the world-although nothing could be rarer. It demands a certain consciousness, but our usual consciousness only gets in the way and blocks it; interferes. Also, it has nothing at all to do with becoming some kind of individualist. As Jung himself tried to explain: “Individuation is not that you become an ego-you would then become an individualist. You know, an individualist is a man who did not succeed in individuating; he is a philosophically distilled egotist. Individuation is becoming that thing which is not the ego, and that is very strange. Therefore nobody understands what the self is, because the self is just the thing which you are not, which is not the ego . . . something exceedingly impersonal, exceedingly objective.” 11 And please note that it’s not I who am saying nobody understands this: it’s Jung himself. And he is quite right, because in the process he is describing there is no one left to understand. As for what he says here about the extreme objectivity and impersonality of the state involved, this is exceedingly important. It’s a theme he sometimes weaves into and out of. But nowhere else does he mention it with as much power, or elegant simplicity, as during the course of a short talk he specifically dictated for his memoirs when he was already in his eighties-and that ended up being silently excluded from his published biography.



He describes the lonely, and solitary, process ofindividuation as this: as the inner process of dying “before surrendering oneself to the impersonal”. His reference here is to the ancient mystical theme of dying before you die; to the mysterious process of being forced at some stage to withdraw from society, then being taken down into the underworld only to end up stripped of everything before being reborn, which in the history of western culture is associated especially with figures such as Empedocles or Parmenides. And this is why he would explain his particular kind of psychological training, the Jungian style of analysis, as a process of dying. 12 But that’s not all he has to say here. On the contrary: he also presents individuation as a secret that has to remain a total mystery because, in approaching it, even the slightest possibility of human comprehension comes to a very abrupt and sudden end. By its very nature, the whole subject is such a secret that it’s something no one will ever be able to grasp or understand. And he explains, in detail, how the mystery of individuation is the mystery of the Grail. This, significantly enough, is the very same text I already mentioned earlier-the same talk where Jung speaks out about how centrally, how crucially, important for him the archetype of the knight happens to be because it’s only by adhering to the unwritten laws of chivalry that the Grail can ever be won. The secret of individuation is that the one and only way to discover the Grail is by being it. It will forever remain undiscovered, and undiscoverable, except by simply becoming it. And here is where he is able not just to state, as he so often does elsewhere, that individuation is always only for the very few. This is where, thanks to the ancient imagery and mythology of the Grail legend which he also shows he considers his own, he is able to explain why.



The quest demands everything. People can have as many romantic dreams, as many collective fantasies, as they want. The reality, though, is that the ordeal is far too hard. Almost no one can endure it. And those who think they are equipped to make sense of it or communicate it to others-they are the most unequipped of all. This, as it were, is the quintessential myth behind Jung’s psychology: the myth of individuation. 13 But, needless to say, we are left with a very different picture nowadays. Instead of individuation as a sacred mystery intended only for the unflinching eyes of the few, we are confronted with individuation democratized-thrown into the public sphere, open and free for all. And of course this would be just wonderful, if anybody had the remotest idea what’s really involved. The most vocal of Jungians are quick to insist it was Jung himself who claimed that the fully individuated state is everybody’s birthright: that, at least in theory, it ought to be capable of paving the way for a truly evolved humanity through “a Christification of many”. What they mysteriously agree to leave out, stay quite silent about, is how he would go straight on to add that there is not a hope in hell of this ever happening with humans the way they are. If most people were to get even the faintest taste of this Christification, the slightest whiff of this truly individuated state, they’d explode with uncontainable hubris and inflation; and then the world would end up even worse than it already is. Time and again the identical phenomenon repeats itselflike clockwork. Jung gives the clearest warnings. The warnings are ignored. He states how things could have been or should be-only to explain why, due to collective ignorance and unconsciousness,

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it’s impossible for them to be that way. But his explanations are mutely, unceremoniously thrown aside. 14 And if you were to ask why Jung’s own direct warnings, explanations, qualifications are so blatantly pushed away I’d have to say: because of that very same ignorance and unconsciousness Jung was so persistent in warning about. Here there is no mystery whatsoever. All we have is precisely that hubris he was describing, the identical inflation, acting itself out in front of our eyes. But it’s being acted out not by some ignorant members of the public-simply by very foolish Jungians.


Naturally the thrill, for fools, of ignoring warnings offered to fools is undeniable. At the same time there is really nothing to compare with the sheer rush which comes from being able to stand up in public and beat the drum on behalf of what one Jungian describes, with pride, as “a psychology that purports to offer to all a more or less clear map of the territory of ‘individuation”‘. But the fact is that aside from his often contradictory hints, not to mention his outright warnings about the risks and dangers of even trying to walk a path so razor-sharp, Jung wasn’t in the business of providing recipes or theories or rules. The simple truth is that, whatever he appeared to do or say, he was no more offering a map “to all” than those ancient Hermetic teachers he admired so much who seemed to be doing such a fine job of offering people some concrete guidance-only to confuse their pupils stupid, almost drive their students crazy by systematically undoing everything they used to think they knew. 15 And the even simpler reality is that what he was offering was completely off any map, modern or ancient. Just like the Hermetic writers he knew so well, what he was ultimately pointing to was life in God and through God.



To be more precise, he was offering immortality-opening a path to the experience of deification, of becoming a god. This is not some fancy manner of speech, though. It may not have been something he wanted to make public, for obvious reasons. Even so, it was the inner world in which Jung lived and had his being. It was a world he might pull back the veil from, for those close to him. And it was the world out of which his most important work, the Red book, would emerge. 16 There again, any serious player nowadays in the Jungian field is almost bound to feel embarrassed enough to insist there’s no way he really meant any of these things. Heaven forbid that he ever intended such old-fashioned nonsense to be taken literally. After all, he was a modern psychologist-not some religious teacher or preacher of metaphysical truths. But in saying that, the only thing they show is how totally they have misunderstood his message and meaning.17 To Jung, being a psychologist wasn’t some magical entitlement to strip everything cynically down to a reductive explanation. On the contrary, it meant the incomparable privilege of being allowed to act humbly and without pretension as a servant in the one arena where the real drama of humanity’s spirit is acting itself out: the human psyche. As for the whole problem of religion or metaphysics, what he couldn’t stand was the literalists and dogmatists who twist everything into some rigidly theoretical or moralizing formula. The only thing he was after was the living reality behind the fancy words; and all the struggling, forcing oneself, imitating, copying, inventing pious fictions is pointless when that reality is just another way of referring to nature. For him it was simply a task of bringing the reality at the core of religion back from the realms of metaphysics and dogma to where it belongs, inside the human soul. As for the essential



nature of his psychology, which so many influential religious figures would come to view with uncontrollable trembling and fear, he is very clear: “Psychology is concerned with the act of seeing and not with the construction of new religious truths”. And as for what he means here by seeing, he is even clearer. He means restoring what he calls our inner vision-which in most of us has been covered over and almost completely obliteratedbecause “we cannot understand a thing until we have experienced it inwardly”. 18 That was why he dared to infuriate people or hopelessly confuse others by describing the Christ as, in effect, a symbol of our own inner self. Only too often this is interpreted as meaning Christ was no longer a living reality for him but had just become a psychological symbol. In actual fact, that’s the exact reverse of the truth. To understand anything about Jung one first has to understand, and then remember, that for him there was no such thing as “just” a symbol. On the contrary, to him a true symbol was far more potent and intensely alive than the whole of our so-called reality.19 And when he comes to explain the Christ, symbol of our own self, this is how he defines it: as “an inner experience, an assimilation of Christ into the psychic matrix, a new realization of the divine Son” or, more simply, as “the ‘Christ within’”. To make things even plainer, he described his role as being to shift our collective focus away from “the idea of the historical Christ” towards the reality of Christ as an “immediate and living presence”. And the beauty of making this shift is that suddenly everything gets turned back to front; upside down. Instead of me seeking to imitate the Christ of history, it’s the Christ of ancient stories and legends who starts imitating the changes that silently take place inside my soul.


PART Two –

Perhaps this will all sound very mystical. If it wasn’t mystical, it wouldn’t be so hard to understand. And besides, as Jung himself goes to great lengths to explain, that’s just what it is. 20 At the same time it has nothing whatsoever to do with the crony mysticism he so justifiably despised: the mysticism of superstitious people cluttered by their esoteric bibles and beliefs which he hated being accused of because, with everyone’s muddled fears on the subject, nobody knows how to tell what’s what or frankly even cares. The reality is that, with his emphasis on direct seeing and immediate experience, Jung had pushed into a realm where any tidy or theoretical distinction between science and mysticism becomes impossible to make-in very much the same way that distinguishing between mysticism and science was utterly meaningless at the beginnings of our western world, with the great scientific pioneers such as Pythagoras or Parmenides or Empedocles. For them, their science was an outgrowth of their mystic;al attitude and practice just as naturally as a flower is the outcome of a bud. For them, too, their emphasis was not on thinking or theorizing or speculating but on actually seeing: on seeing the obvious, on learning the obscure art of noticing what’s right in front of one’s nose. 21 And from this point of view, where what Jung was trying to do is neither strictly mystical nor merely scientific and yet both at the same time, his psychology never offered even the remotest threat to religious experience. Instead, it was meant to be like a magnet pointing constantly to the secret at the heart of religion. Its central aim, as he worked so hard to describe, is to explain how the natural inner work of transformation becomes “no longer a struggle, the very deliberate effort involved in imitation, but rather an involuntary experience of the reality depicted by



sacred legend. This reality comes knocking”-it arrives by itself, spontaneous, uninvited, unannounced. This is the actual, psychological experience of God in the human soul. And this, contrary to everything we are taught but as Jung himself insisted, is not just some subjective or purely personal experience. It’s the exact opposite. The experience of God is the first objective experience available to us in our lives. All the rest is subjective confusion and chaos. And to take this line of understanding one, little step further: the experience of God is the only real experience we humans can ever have. This is the logic behind Jung’s explicit statement-in the last major book he ever wrote-that even our most basic assumptions about the workings of a mystical, or alchemical, or psychological path are pure illusions. We like to think it’s we who are treading the path; progressing; being transformed. But that’s not the case at all, because it’s not our ego who walks the path. It’s our higher self: the hidden, divine reality inside us. It never was about us. It was always about the sacred-only about the divine. 22


Then there is the part inside each of us that’s likely to be untouched and unconvinced by any of this. Here is where you may say, with every good reason, that we have come a very long way from the day-to-day actuality of Jung as healer concerned with the ordinary drudgery of human suffering. And if you were to ask what all this has to do with psychotherapy, or the facts of sickness, the answer is-everything. Jung was always looking through the personal in the people around him for a glimpse of the impersonal; looking past the individual to the archetypal. That’s just a part of the story, though, because it wasn’t only people who had to be transparent or serve as open windows into another world if they were going to catch his attention. It was the same with their sicknesses, too. In one letter he wrote, which would soon become notorious because it captured his intentions so well, he stated very directly to an acquaintance: “You are quite right, the main interest of my work is not concerned with the treatment of neuroses but rather with the approach to the numinous. But the fact is that the approach to the numinous is the real therapy and inasmuch as you attain to the numinous experiences you are released from the curse of pathology. Even the very disease takes on a numinous character.”



In other words, even a neurosis only interested Jung ifhovering over its surface-he could see the shadow of the divine. For him everybody, everything, served its own proper purpose as an “approach to the numinous”. Anyone who pointed in this direction was right: it’s the numinous that happens to be real, not the neurosis. And of course that means there is a tremendous danger, when trying to heal a person with any conventional therapy, of killing what’s most precious; getting rid of what’s most real. A magnificent success in terms of medicine could be the most tragic failure, a murder of the soul. As for this expression, “numinous”: it was a special favourite of Jung’s. One could explain the word as serving to convey a sense of the sacred, or the presence of the divine-which would be fair enough. But there is a far better and more honest way of explaining what he meant. The numinous is, very simply, the experience of the impossible in our lives. And that raw impossibility somehow never fits too well into human systems. 23 At the same time, there is no limit to human resourcefulness in escaping the impossible. And this is why, today, whole books are being industriously published by Jungians about the numinous. In fact it’s only too easy to forget that, with a subject as potent and elusive, intelligent discussion is the best possible way of persuading the reality behind the word to disappear. Talking very learnedly and articulately about the numinous is what Jung himself used to refer to as an “apotropaic” form of language-attempting to speak nicely and politely and ever so welcomingly about something in the deep, unconscious hope it will go away. And if you care to look, you will see how far away it’s gone. As Jung himself prophetically warned: “You’ll think up clever truisms, preventive measures, secret escape routes, excuses,



potions capable of inducing forgetfulness”. That’s exactly what we have in the empty words invented for transforming the impossible into multiple opportunities and turning the numinous into something intended to serve the individual, instead of the other way around. Domesticating the gods, taming the numinous by discreetly neutralizing it, has become all the rage. Jung, himself, had once called the actual practice of psychotherapy for what it almost always is: “a mere expedient, which prevents numinous experiences as much as possible”. The only thing he perhaps was not aware of is how accurately he was describing the kinds of beneficent therapy that would soon be practised in his namebecause the sacred never has been, or will be, a convenient stepping stone along our personal way to self-fulfilment. On the contrary, it’s our individuality together with all our problems as a person which is just a stone in the approach to the impossible. 24 For Jung the numinous power of the sacred was something that always, whatever anyone might try to say, had him by the scruff of the neck. Its wildness and unpredictability ruthlessly drove him; ripped through his life and the lives of those around him even while providing him with the stability he needed; forced him especially at his very best to become a willing participant in its unfolding, “like it or not”; made him go out to fight like a knight, nature against nature, in a battle where the winners are losers and the victory is only given to those who surrender everything. To Jung, himself, there never could be any escaping the fact that we are tools of the numinous whose only hope is to become conscious tools and wise ones. Nothing would be more foolish than to imagine we can turn the numinous into a tool of our own. But now the tables have all been turned.



Experience of the numinous has found itself converted into the tool of tools: been hammered and reshaped into a “therapeutic resource” to whichJungians alone can proudly lay claim. And it’s so easy to forget the things that, not so long ago, Jung himself once said about Lucifer. He explained how at the dawn of a civilization every spiritual truth only exists to point straight back to God, the creator. But towards the evening of any civilization just before it plunges into darkness-which for a culture that forgot itself is the time of Lucifer, diabolical seducer-spiritual truths are ever so subtly exploited until they end up “becoming no more than a tool in the hand of man”. 25 Really it’s quite an achievement how in the space of a single generation, regardless of any effort to cling to Jung’s original vision, Jungian psychology has already been dragged through every stage of a civilization: all the way from its beginning to its ultimate degradation. Perhaps, though, you should forget I ever said that. After all, it’s more than a little awkward to have to listen to a grown man like Carl Jung talking about the power of Lucifer as if this was something real. And there is something just as uncomfortable about having to hear him describe his mystical foolery in agreeing to follow the path of Christ because he so much “wanted God to be alive and free from the suffering man has put on him by loving his own reason more than God’s secret intentions”. But that’s not even to mention the way he still, just a few months before he died, insisted on siding with a Native American elder who saw the light of the whole world right at the final edge of being extinguished by western rationalism-or the way Jung himself added that all he can do now in his old age is privately guard his own light and treasure because “it is most precious not only to me, but above all to the darkness of the creator”.



Maybe it will be best ifl simply stay silent about his absolute certainty that, in the people who came to him for healing, one thing was more essential than anything else: a deeply religious attitude, the sense that it’s all for the sake of something far greater than ourselves. Otherwise, everything that in theory could go wrong is guaranteed to go wrong. And no doubt I should avoid saying a single word about his absurd conviction that the best way of supporting a truly religious attitude is to help people step out of their personal dramas so they can find a place for themselves in history and at last experience a real “sense of historical continuity”-because without that sense of historical continuity no genuine or enduring healing is possible and, as a matter of fact, no escape from the threat of individual or collective inflation is even conceivable. Or then again, it might just possibly be time to offer a brief reminder of what Jung himself described as authentic psychotherapy. The situation he was faced with could hardly have been more paradoxical because, already early on, he had realized that the decisive question for every person is: Is that individual knowingly “related to something infinite or not?” If not, that apparent individual’s life is wasted; a dead end. T his is what makes the personality as well as the work ofJung so numinously fascinating-the fact that every thought of his was centred on the divine. And for him even the individual patients sitting inside his consulting room could fade into insignificance because, in spite of his meticulous attention to the incarnated details of this finite world, the main focus of his work lay somewhere else. His fundamental concern was with the soul of humanity. It was with the great work of the alchemists, their opus magnum. It was with the most burdensome, but numinous, of undertakings



that makes one consciously feel and often have to carry the whole weight of humanity’s problems on one’s shoulders. This isn’t just a job. It’s a supreme responsibility: a divine responsibility, a sacred task. 26 And perhaps here is where we are brought face to face with the greatest irony of all in Jung’s psychology. With incomparable intensity he worked at handing down a host of techniques and strategies of therapy, of potent aids along the mysterious path of individuation, whichJungians have busily applied to making their clients’ lives more fulfilling as well as bearable-more personally enriching, far more humanly whole. No one seems to have considered, though, that in the transmission something essential might have gone missing; got lost. And no amount of appropriate qualifications or lip service, of saying all the right words without the understanding of what they mean, cc!n ever hope to make up for it. As Jung himself made the effort to say: the mystery of individuation is the mystery of the Grail. But Grail legend speaks very plainly about the one crucial question that has to be askedjust like Jung’s question about whether each individual is related to something infinite, or not-before the Grail itself can be won. Until then, the whole earth remains desolate; wasted; dead. You might suppose you know the general direction in which the Grail is to be found. You may even be ever so confident you have it in your grasp. But without that one question being asked, then answered, it’s not just that all your own accomplished efforts are ultimately pointless-all your strivings for personal individuation utterly useless. Even the world around you is going to be lifeless. And for the real life to come back, nothing is more important than to know that magical question which has to be asked: Whom does the Grail serve?27


Jung visited India just once, in his early sixties. The visit was filled with thrills and insights and excitements. But, as usual, when Jung needed to get sick he got sick-and was forced back inside himself. Just after being released from hospital in the wildly bewildering city of Kolkata he had a dream that at first bewildered him too, and would end up leaving an enormous impression on him: as much as any other dream he would ever have. For him, the geographical realities had a dramatically paradoxical effect. It was precisely through being so far away from Europe, so distant in Asia from the hearth and home of western culture, that Jung found himself confronted at last with the mystery of western civilization-and the secret of his role. Instead of getting lost in the sights and smells and sounds of the East, he was simply using the whole experience as a chance to plunge into the depths of himself: exactly what the ancient Greek philosophers recommended. 28 And this very same dream of his happens to be what, appropriately enough, would prompt him in his old age to start speaking out about the secret of individuation as well as about the archetype of the knight- because this was his dream of the Grail.



Physically in his Kolkata hotel room, he found himself on an island just off the coast of southern England. Together with a group of Swiss friends and colleagues he had come·to a medieval castle at the southernmost tip of the island: the castle of the Grail. But Jung felt almost overwhelmingly alone in his awareness that the Grail and the home of the Grail and all the traditions about the Grail aren’t only a matter of history or literature. On the contrary, they are vitally meaningful; absolutely alive. Then comes the main part of the dream-long, slow, brutally arduous. The Grail is missing and has to be found: needs to be brought back from such a small, nondescript house that no one would ever guess it had been hidden there. And it has to be brought back today, straight away. Jung sets off, towards the north, still accompanied by people from his group. They march for hours. The land becomes more and more desolate; the sun sets and the darkness sets in instead. Finally they come to the sea and realize the island is split into two but there is not a single bridge, or boat, or road. Frozen, exhausted, everyone falls asleep one by one until only Jung is left awake. And then he realizes that he, alone, is going to have to strip off his clothes and swim across the channel to fetch the Grail. As a dream this has all the presence, and atmosphere, of something numinous. But just as striking as the dream itself is the way Jung chose to explain it. If a psychologist was to want to help point the way towards an interpretation, it would be easy enough to suggest taking every single detail as simply an expression or reflection of the dreamer’s internal state: as a comment from the unconscious on one person’s private search for an inner meaning. But that’s not at all how Jung read or saw it. To him it wasn’t just about some individual quest for psychological integration. It was about his work in-and for



the sake of-the whole world. As his biography, with a sense of fatefulness, starts describing: “Myths that day has forgotten continue to be told by night, and powerful figures which consciousness turns into mere banalities and has reduced to ridiculous trivialities are resurrected by poets and prophetically revived.” And then it only takes a moment before we are hearing Jung begin to explain how, “imperiously, the dream wiped away all the intense daytime impressions of India and swept me back to the far too long neglected concerns of the West which had once expressed themselves in the quest for the Holy Grail as well as in the search for the philosophers’ stone. I was taken out of the world oflndia and reminded, in the process, that India was not my task but only a part of the path-admittedly a significant one-which would bring me closer to my goal. It was as if the dream was asking me, ‘What are you doing in India? It would be far better if you were to seek for yourself and for the sake of your fellow humans the healing vessel, the servator mundi, which you urgently need. For your state is perilous; you are all in imminent danger of destroying all that centuries have built up.’”29 I really wonder how many of the thousands of people who have read these words ever registered, on a conscious level, what they mean. In fact they are saying something extremely specific. To get to the place of understanding that specific something, though, almost inevitably involves the same kind of ordeal Jung himself was forced to go through in his dream. Visiting India is all very nice and fine. Experiencing other cultures, getting a taste of the delicious East, being touched and even transformed by its spiritual traditions, can be very helpful in a certain round-about sort of way. But none of this would have any value for Jung except in bringing him back to what truly matters and helping him



remember what, on the deepest level, his entire life was about. Its only point was to return him to the realization of his real task and work, of his one duty and obligation and responsibilityto play the long-forgotten role of healer to the West. For him, nothing could possibly be more important. The need is urgent: urgent beyond any words. The peril is all around us. The danger of total destruction is imminent. But it’s precisely when the need is most pressing and the peril is most immediate that people are least able to recognize the nature of the danger-let alone to explain to themselves, or others, the sense of urgency they feel. To be sure, there are those who have struggled to convey the fact that Jung’s task was cultural rather than individual. To earth these intuitions, though, to ground and locate them in space and time: that’s a rather different matter. And the trouble is that our culture has grown so sick there is not even a context or framework left for understanding what any of this actually means-because the awareness of what a culture is has just become a thing of the past. This is why so many Jungians have flown off into grandiose fantasies about Jung as some culture hero personally inaugurating a glorious new age by leaving all the trash of Christianity and western materialism behind. But this insanely inflated nonsense has nothing whatsoever to do with the way Jung perceived his own task. For him nothing new is possible without plunging back into the past-behind all of the dirt and materialism, the misunderstandings and corruptions, murders and perversions and distortions-in search of the secret at the heart of one’s own culture. The core of his task was to rediscover the essential mystery of the West that so urgently needs to be treasured and guarded, protected and preserved, because only this can provide salvation: not some fantasies about an imaginary future. 30



And here is where we find ourselves staring straight into the face of the major problem which has dogged students of Jung, as well as his critics, for years . That’s the problem of his attitude to eastern religions and spiritual practices. Certainly the seriousness of the problem is obvious enough. On the one hand, he praises to the heavens the insights offered by eastern traditions into the study of psychology and into the infinite intricacies of the human soul. On the other hand he felt an intense disgust for westerners taking up exotic practices of self-cultivation, or surrendering themselves to eastern forms of spirituality, which erupted into almost desperate bouts of impatience and irritability. And, only too predictably, scholars have reacted by picking at his arguments or trying to tear his reasoning apart with even more anger and irritation. 31 If we take a look underneath the surface, though, it’s so easy to see what Jung was really trying to say below all the things he did say. Thanks to the utter bankruptcy of rampant materialism and modern Christianity, many sensitive westerners even as youngsters instinctively turn to the East-turn anywhere-to fill the terrible emptiness of meaning they have been brought up in. And the kind of nourishment they find in eastern spiritual teachings or teachers can help to a significant extent to provide what they, as individuals, need. But we are not just the individuals we seem to be. And now, whether we know it or not, we have a collective obligation to rediscover western culture’s original purpose: have an inescapable duty, as westerners, to face up to the full reality of what we lost. Jung lays this out with a clarity, almost a savagery, that perfectly describes the situation we find ourselves in today. At the same time he effortlessly manages to undermine all our modern pretensions; our treasured assumptions and political correctnesses.



This is why in his memorial lecture for Richard Wilhelm, the Chinese scholar he had come to love and respect so much, he outlined a scenario that would have been more or less unimaginable when he was speaking almost a century ago-and with a darkly, almost perversely prophetic humour explained what others were far too pious to see. Times were changing, he noted. Instead of western missionaries pouring out everywhere across the East to convert people with their gospel as energetically and methodically as they could, Christianity had become so exhausted that Buddhists were getting ready to seize their own opportunities because they realized now was the perfect moment for positioning themselves to start becoming missionaries to the West. And in case some sincere listeners or readers were to wonder just where Carl Jung stood on such a delicate matter, he goes straight on to throw any doubt aside. For him, those westerners who would unhesitatingly open the gates of their own culture to the Buddhists weren’t open-minded multiculturalists. They were “spiritual beggars” who would blindly accept whatever handouts the East in its apparent generosity decided to offer-and in spite of all the talk about mindfulness, would practise the mindlessness of imitating other people’s nobly spiritual truths. “That is the danger about which it is impossible to give too many warnings”, he added: as if, once again, anyone would have the slightest interest in heeding Jung’s warnings. Then he continues following the thread of his logic, so unfamiliar but so precise at the same time. “What the East has to give us should be merely a help in a work which we still have to do. Of what use to us is the wisdom of the Upanishads or the insights of Chinese yoga if we abandon the foundations of our own culture as though they were outlived errors and, like homeless pirates, settle with thievish intent on foreign shores?”



And for him it all points back to darkness, back to that darkness every westerner so desperately wants to escape from-not just our personal darkness, which is hard enough to confront, but the darkness of a whole corrupted culture and civilization. This is where everything has to come back to, because the light of real wisdom “only shines in the dark”: in the darkness of our own hell. If we want to experience the benefits of eastern wisdom, any wisqom, first we have to do the impossible work of coming to terms with the western truth about ourselves. That’s where the path really begins-with the realization that the only light which is going to be of any genuine use or value to us is th~ light we manage to bring, like a new sun, out from the darkness inside ourselves. Without such an awareness, which still belongs shovelled away into some forgotten footnote, all the most potent meditation or yoga practices in the world are nothing but a recipe for even greater forgetfulness; are only going to delude us by leading us further and further astray.32 And these weren’t just the thoughts of a man who was sad at the death of a friend. Almost ten years earlier he had written what seems to have been a mysteriously poetic letter to an Englishwoman. As for the essence of what he evidently told her, it’s summed up in the one direct statement that “Gnosis should be an experience of your own life, a plant grown on your own tree. Foreign gods are a sweet poison, but the vegetable gods you have raised in your own garden are nourishing. They are perhaps less beautiful, but they have stronger medicine.” There is an underlying principle here-just as there is in the warning at the start of the Red book, “Don’t be greedy to gobble up the fruits of foreign fields.” This is that real spirituality is not about gawking at exotic scenery: that’s far too easy. It’s about



finding a way back to the sacred landscape, however horrifically desolate or abandoned it might feel, which somehow got lost and forgotten inside ourselves. It’s about learning to find one’s own nourishment and medicine, however modest at first, as opposed to begging; starving; being made to swallow poison. And, above all, it’s about rediscovering the ancient art of healing instead of joining the collective steady downward spiral into sickness and illusion and death. Otherwise even one’s best possible efforts to create, or try to enlighten, or be of help, simply hurry along the destruction. But as to what that healing could be, what the healing vessel is which Jung had to labour so hard in his dream to search for, what the particular nutrition is which he struggled throughout his life just to make available: this is something utterly impossible to understand on the level of the rational mind. Our rational mind is what hid it away in the first place. And reasoning will gladly either keep on trampling it underfoot in its ruthless march towards some global ideal of fulfilment, or go on twisting and distorting it beyond any recognition. There is only one possible way to make any sense of this at all, and that’s with what Jung referred to as the “plant-like naivete” which intuitively realizes a culture is not just some theoretical abstraction. On the contrary, it’s an organism that lives and dies; a plant; a tree.33 Our only real duty and purpose is to return far enough to the root of our civilization that we can remember-then help it remember-its sacred purpose and task. And, naturally, the only question is how.


One ofJung’s favourite themes was this: that the most precious of treasures lies ignored, totally neglected by people out in gutters and streets. And true enough, there are things stated quite openly in his name which most of us prefer not to notice because we are far more comfortable picking up the little crumbs from here and there. As for the elusive mystery that always works to bring everything together, the mystery Empedocles simply called “the whole”, it’s so much easier just to pass it by. 34 The published account of Jung’s crucial Kolkata dream culminates in its pressing message to him to “seek for yourself and for the sake of your fellow humans the healing vessel, the servator mundi, which you urgently need”. Of course his fondness for using Latin can be a little off-putting in a world where the language has been virtually forgotten. But he had his good reasons for doing so, because this was how he could hint at the history of what he was trying to convey-a history stretching back hundreds and thousands of years into the depths of western culture. Servator mundi is an older form of salvator mundi and means preserver or saviour of the world. In ancient and then medieval texts they were both standard ways of referring to Jesus Christ.



Inside the Latin alchemical literature Jung was so familiar with, it’s exactly the same story. And whenever Jung himself used one or the other, Christ is always either named explicitly or very present in the background. Needless to say, the healing vessel of the Grail was a symbol associated closely with the presence and the body of Christ. But by using this particular expression-servator mundi, cosmic protector or preserver-he was making the link that binds Christ to the central essence of his own work and duty and labour far tighter, stronger, closer. 35 To associate Jung’s work nowadays with religious ideas about saving the world is, it goes without saying, enough to get anyone crucified instantly. All sorts of theoretical disagreements about the details or practical meaning of his psychology are tolerated, even encouraged. That doesn’t include this, though. And there is more than a touch of irony about the fact that those progressive Jungians who feel terrified at the prospect of waking up one morning marked with the stigmata of religiosity are quite oblivious to how openly this theme of salvation is available for everybody to read, veiled by the lightest coating of Latin, in Jung’s own authorized biography. 36 There, it’s no question of him just functioning as a good Christian. It was a matter of working directly with the innermost reality of the Christ-and especially with Christ’s essential aspect as saviour of the world. But all this is no more than the beginning. The original record still survives of what Jung said to his secretary, during one of their interview sessions, about the dream he had in Kolkata. And it includes several details that, for more or less obvious reasons, never made their way into print. First there is that mention of the Swiss friends and acquaintances who kept with him as far as the castle of the



Grail, then went on marching to the place where at last the land came to an end. Jung himself specifies, more than once, that in real life all these .dream companions of his were members of the Psychological Club he had helped to create at Zurich as a meeting-place for people attracted to his work. He also tells how he and they arrived at the castle as sightseers, which suggests he was intensely aware on a certain level that the circle of early Jungians who gathered around him all shared the same basic attitude of psychological or spiritual tourists: were simply there for the view. They might be willing to make a certain effort, but were only prepared to go so far. And then there is the most fascinating piece of information which the published version of Jung’s biography made sure to leave out. The first spontaneous comment he offers as soon as he has finished telling his dream relates to the final scene, where all the people around him fall asleep and-completely on his ownhe has to make the supreme effort to fetch the Grail. There they all are, he exclaims: the young disciples at Gethsemane who have fallen asleep, leaving the Christ to face his destiny completely alone. And here is where everything comes together, where the story completes itself-because in his alchemical studies Jung had been very careful to note that “Christ in the garden of Gethsemane” is none other than the servator mundi, “preserver of the cosmos”. 37 But now of course there is one entirely new complexion to this whole affair, which is that Jung is no longer just the brave knight dedicated to rediscovering at all costs the healing vessel of the servator mundi. He has become the healing vessel himself: Christ the preserver, saviour of the world. And here, too, is where all these interesting details become really fascinating-because it’s as if suddenly a back door has sprung open into Jung’s own scientific writings.



Often he would rail and thunder about people who were vain or ambitious or unconscious enough to set themselves up as self-proclaimed world saviours. And now we can see why this is an issue that would have concerned him so intensely: because he himself knew exactly what it meant, precisely what it felt like, to be faced with the task of saving the world. Naturally we could just take a shallow breath and stop here: the same story as before. Nothing would be easier than to accuse Jung of blatant contradiction, even hypocrisy, and leave the matter at that. But it takes a little more courage and effort to consider that there might just be a right way, as well as a wrong way, to set about saving the world. As for the wrong way: there is no mystery about that at all. Jung makes it perfectly clear that the trap so many unprepared people fall into is to identify with the archetypal image of the saviour and then, through the sheer naivety of their identification, fall victim to a massive inflation-the almighty presumption of thinking they have literally become the one divine saviour themselves . He is even kind enough to hint at simple but practical aids for disidentifying from the seductively archetypal energies of the unconscious. No better supplement exists for psychological insight or understanding than the true virtues of love and wisdom, not to mention the healthy ability to laugh heartily at one’s god-almighty little ego. 38 And just when all of a sudden everything seems so very clear, manageable, controllable, is the moment when those dangers of misunderstanding are far more present and palpable than ever before-because the even deeper trap people fall into is of assuming that as soon as you break the identification with something it dissolves automatically, magically vanishes, is gone. This is why it’s such a terrible mistake to equate the experience of becoming a god with the inflationary state of



god-almightiness that always accompanies it. If there was no difference between them we could just sit safe at home; never bother to risk or learn a thing. On the one hand, such inflatedness is nothing but the result of a tiny ego trying to identify itself with the imprint of the divine. Battling with these obnoxious manifestations of inflation is where any true psychology shows its worth because here-in the overwhelming encounter with the sacred-we only have the start of a psychological process, never the end. And to help guard against the inflatedness of imagining Jungian psychology is alone in having access to such sophisticated ideas, I should add that there are mystical traditions which have been well equipped to deal with such very human problems for centuries. That’s hardly surprising, though, in view ofJung’s own constant fondness for appealing to “the great psychotherapeutic systems which we know as the religions”. But as for deification, on the other hand, this is an inexpressibly real experience that leaves its permanent mark on anybody touched by the fingers of the divine. It’s what gave Jung much of his knowledge, as well as charisma; was a major initiation he had to pass through. In fact he could hardly have been blunter about the matter: if you just identify with the experience and make no effort to come to terms with it as a human, you’ll end up in a mental hospital. Avoid the experience, though, and you are throwing the most valuable of gifts away. 39 In short, try to walk away from it and it’s sure to throw its shadow over you: haunt you for the rest of your meaningless nights and even emptier days . But if you learn the secret of how to relate to it consciously, then you’ll find it settling as a new awareness halfway between you and the depths of your unconscious so that you are no longer overwhelmed by the forces which sweep over you-and no longer need to overwhelm them.



Instead, there is a new harmony of mutual respect; the primordial state of divine awareness hidden away inside a human body without any of the grabbing or inflation or identification; the life in God. And there, protected from all our superficialities as well as stupidities, is where the world might just have to be saved each single moment with an urgency our egos could never come close to fathoming. In our collective human inflation we honestly think we can get away with fooling ourselves into assuming this world exists, and keeps existing, just for us to enjoy and exploit and destroy. Qiite possibly it doesn’t, though. And maybe it doesn’t even keep going by itself. Perhaps human consciousness has always been the miraculous magic that’s needed for the moon and sun to rise; to sustain and preserve the cosmos; keep it safe. But of course this would imply that to arrive at the place of discovering such a reality, deep inside, and being allowed to participate in it is the ultimate purpose of human existence-at the same time as being the hardest, most arduous thing possible for a woman or man to do. It also would help to explain why mystical traditions such as Sufism, for example, are so keen to repeat that a few awakened people are always needed to keep this physical world connected to the world of reality; why they will sometimes even specify the exact number of truly conscious beings who have to live and stay alive at any time in any given country, for instance Syria. Without them and the quiet, invisible work they do “the cosmos would collapse”. In other words, there is no question or problem about having to save the world: there never was. The only problem is all the fuss and obstacles we put in the way. The world needs saving. But it’s precisely because we can’t see this that the world is being destroyed.



So we are brought straight back to Jung himself-and his famous encounter with this very same understanding through his meeting, in New Mexico, with the Native American elder called Mountain Lake. It was a meeting of mind as well as heart which, aside from developing into a lasting friendship, would go on reverberating inside Jung for the rest of his life. 40 And as he kept summing that basic understanding up: the only true dignity for a human lies in knowing that the sun would never be able to rise without the human’s assistance. It could never even set.


I suppose so much talk about Native Americans and Sufis could be starting to sound wonderfully, intoxicatingly exotic. To be quite honest, though, there is nothing mysterious or mystical about it at all. The far greater mystery is how on earth people manage to forget that this is the way life exists, goes on existing: that the real work of saving the world has to be done, moment to moment, in a way hardly noticed or recognized by anyone. And the truth is that it has to go unrecognized, unnoticedmost of the time even by oneself. The worst thing possible would be if the ego got to know about it, because then instantly it would be wanting to have a slice of the action; become implicated; get inflated; make a mess. If you are going to have to identify with something, make quite sure never to identify with this. The greater part of the task is to keep it pure, uninterfered with, safe above all from yourself. So be sure to stay invisible, leave few or no traces of what really matters, cover your tracks. The best solution is to learn how to trick everybody by gracefully putting your worst foot forward, playing to perfection the role of jovial bourgeois, even experimenting at being a reasonable scientist. And by the same token, the worst possible



way of trying to carry Jung’s real work forward would be by identifying oneself as a Jungian. In short, the point of a psychology such as his is not to put a stop to the work of salvation but to put a stop to all the childish inflations so that the real work of saving the world can continue unimpeded; undisturbed. It’s to begin to discover and then live with the truth, which can sound so heretical from a conventionally therapeutic point of view, that the real reason for disidentifying from the archetypal energies is not so that we can be free from them but so that they can be free from us-free to move and work as they need in this physical world, assisted by our consciousness but uncontaminated by the unbecoming dramas of our human psychology. Without the ego’s inappropriate attentions and identifications, the archetypal reality doesn’t fade away or disappear. Qyite to the contrary, it flourishes. But to get to the point of understanding how these things work takes a lifetime of struggle; of battles fought and lost. Jung called the mystery of individuation the secret of the Grail for a very good reason. There are all the sacrifices and hardships and heroics that come from going in quest of it, the noble chasing after even nobler causes-plus the added benefit of being able to fall asleep at any point one chooses. At the same time, he also said what the secret of individuation is: explained that the one and only way to discover the vessel of the Grail, the servator mundi, is by becoming it. It will stay undiscovered, undiscoverable forever, except by simply being it. And such a simplicity usually only arrives, if one happens to be ever so lucky, in old age. We still happen to have a record of the letters exchanged by Jung-it would be his last winter-with an Englishman just a few months before he died. He complains about the overwhelming impossibility of the difficulties he is faced with, about the depths



of the darkness he finds himself immersed in, about how alone he feels in spite of the people he is surrounded by. The aloneness as he describes it is strangely reminiscent of that aloneness he had experienced years earlier, right at the end of his Kolkata dream, when he realized there was no one else beside him in his search for the Grail. And the Englishman somehow finds it in himself to take a gamble, even at the obvious risk of provoking or antagonizing Jung. I’ve heard you repeating endlessly, he plucks up the courage to write, that you are not some medicine man to your peoplemost certainly no world saviour. But in spite of all your public and consistent denials I am going to say this: To me, personally, nothing could be clearer than that the reference in the Gospel of John to the light which “shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not” is the most exact pointer possible to your own situation. While ordinary people can sometimes be forced against their will to take on the role of hero, your case could hardly be more different. Right from the start you were shaped out of”the stuff heroes are made of”; you have a heroic destiny, a heroic burden heavily weighing on your shoulders. And just as the human Jesus had to die on the cross to bring light to other humans, it’s the same with you. But “please forgive me for even suggesting this comparison”. Nothing could have prepared him for the surprise of reading Jung’s reply: “Your Biblical analogies are perfectly legitimate, as they are archetypic experiences, which are repeated again and again, whenever a new idea is born, or when a hero- child appears in the world. Time and again a light tries to pierce the darkness”although it’s a law that the bringer of the light will always have to pay a heavy price for the attempt. Then Jung touchingly goes



on to admit just how nai:ve he was “in not expecting the darkness to be so dense”. But the one statement he makes which stands out from everything else could hardly be simpler, or more enigmatic. “To live an archetypic life is no reason for an inflation as it is the ordinary life of man.” To be sure, Jung was fond of emphasizing how ordinary a truly individuated person would seem to be: no loud individualism, no extravagant or fantastic claims. What he is saying here is much more than that, though. Typically, in earlier years and days, the very questionable honour ofliving an “archetypic life” would have been reserved by him for the central archetypal figure of the West: Jesus Christ. But here the veil between Christ’s life and Jung’s life has been torn away. All the huff and puff of a whole life’s work-the bitter struggle against inflation, the anguished warnings and tensions and denials-has vanished in a moment. All the endless drama about needing for the sake of one’s basic sanity to disidentify from the archetypal energies because of the inevitable inflation they cause is suddenly gone. To live an archetypic life is no reason, any more, to get inflated because “it is the ordinary life of man”. 41 Jung has finally managed to walk through the eye of the needle and find salvation through the danger he had always talked about. That’s what it means to know how to keep moving with life; to be able to fl.ow beyond oneself. Where he ends up is a place of such simplicity that it’s hard for anyone to understand. For him the totally extraordinary has become the utterly ordinary which, what’s more, was the normal state of humanity right from the start. And of course the other side to this-because there is always the other side-is that the apparent ordinariness of people who



go about their disconnectedly meaningless lives is the most extraordinary violation of what we humans are meant to be. It’s this very same abnormal normalness, always ready with its bright excuses, which makes the light-bringer’s task even more excruciatingly difficult. What Jung means here by an ordinary life is nothing like what we ordinarily think of as ordinary. For him, consciously living an archetypic life is the ordinary life of a human because ultimately the archetypes are all there is. To the extent that we are humans we participate in, we are, the archetype of humanity: the Anthropos, the Christ. As would-be humans we love trying to find a rock to hide away under, where we think we can protect ourselves from the archetypes’ dark glare-their impossible demands and strains. But as humans we are archetypes. And the stone is an archetype, too. The irony is that to avoid the unbearable burden of living an archetypal life isn’t a human option at all. Whatever we think of as personal is in fact profoundly inhuman, while it’s only in the utter objectivity of the impersonal that we find our humanity. And inside that entirely impersonal objectivity is where we can come to the point at which the Anthropos and the anthropos, the primordial and the ordinary human, are one and the same: the smallest equal to the largest and the largest inside the smallest. Then you are not trying to illuminate people and save the world with your tedious possibilities in some ridiculously inflated fashion. Instead, you are allowing the impossibly simple energy of the saviour to do its work through you and finish whatever it needs to do. As Jung liked to say, no one can ever see or know where the saviour will come from. It can arrive in the fl.ash of a truly



new idea. It can appear in the sudden, unbelievable movement of letting somebody somewhere be completely cleansed and healed of guilt-before vanishing as quickly as it came. But to incarnate inside oneself that presence of the saviour, to embody it: that’s a totally different matter. And Jung makes himself very clear in his correspondence with the Englishman about the exact nature of that supposedly ordinary, but archetypal, life he has ended up being able to live without any inflation. It’s the archetypal life of the light-bringer-whom he has routinely equated in his other writings with Christ as servator mundi, “the Saviour and Preserver of the world”. But he also goes out of his way elsewhere to equate this figure of the light-bringer, who has to suffer for the ordinariness of other humans and whose burden as well as destiny Jung knew so well, with a reality that he notes has been completely suppressed and forgotten in the West. That’s the figure of the cosmic Christ as Saviour, described with such unparalleled wisdom by the Gnostics thousands of years ago, “who went forth from the Father in order to illuminate the stupidity, darkness, and unconsciousness of mankind”. The only thing to add is his own explanation-already suppressed and almost forgotten-that this benign movement of the Gnostic Christ into a darkened world precisely outlines, exactly defines, the real scope of Jungian psychology. 42


Now, Jungian psychology exists in all sorts of shapes and forms and sizes for people to use-or let themselves be charmed by-as they choose. Once, though, it was no more than a trembling fear. And that’s where the real magic lies. Through his initial confrontation with the depths of the unconscious-at those points where the borderline keeps shifting between insanity and sanity, then back again- all of a sudden Jung found himself terrifyingly alone. Or at least that was how he felt to begin with, until he fell straight into the lap of the Gnostics. With the help of surviving fragments from Gnostic writingswhich for the most part happened to be passages hatefully quoted by early Christian saints just to prove how perverse and dangerous their teachings were-he came across people who had already experienced what he was experiencing. He recognized that he was in the presence of psychologists who managed to anticipate his psychology by two thousand years; found living friends, allies, companions; was no longer on his own. And not only were they still alive, deep down inside him. He realized, to his even greater surprise, that a part of him was still alive inside them. 43



The Greek word gnostikos means “knower” or “realizer”. And Jung was quite right to emphasize that the people presented as ancient Gnostics by our history books weren’t Christian heretics, in the way most history books would have us believe. Instead, they were the real source of Christianity; were the carriers of a non-Christian knowledge out of which Christian creeds and beliefs and dogmas would all evolve. In other words, it’s not that the Gnostics were Christian heretics: it’s that the Christians were Gnostic heretics. But, as Gnostics have always known, things do tend to get turned upside down and back to front inside our topsy-turvy world-which you may already have noticed is exactly what keeps on happening, at every conceivable opportunity, with Jung’s psychology. 44 At the same time, words like gnostikos or gnosis also have the strong underlying sense of being able to see directly; of inwardly perceiving, of intuitively recognizing as opposed to just believing or accepting what.others say. And there is something almost tragic about the inability of people to see that this direct Gnostic seeing is what lies right at the heart of his entire psychology. It’s not for any lack of stating the case quite plainly. “Psychology is concerned with the act of seeing”, as he patiently explains: with the immediate “inward experience” that depends on the “inner vision” which, itself, depends on our seriously atrophied “faculty of seeing”.45 But actually to recognize what Jung is trying to say can somehow seem the most difficult thing in the world-in part. because the naturalness of this direct perception he is referring to has perhaps become so painfully unnatural to us, and in part because so much of the evidence that spells out just what he meant has been unavailable for such a long time. For instance there is the important letter he wrote to a close associate during March 1918, at a point when he was deeply



involved in extracting some sense from those experiences that form the bedrock of his Red book. This colleague, Josef Lang, was one of the few people who had stayed on with Jung after the famous break with Sigmund Freud; had played a privileged role, as Hermann Hesse’s therapist, in passing along from Jung many of the Gnostic ideas that appear in Hesse’s novels; and was a person Jung would be keen to collaborate with in the very conscious labour of shaping, defining, even promoting his own psychology as something easy to tell apart from the psychology of Freud. And in the letter he outlines two different sides to working with the unconscious. On the one hand, he explains, we need to confront and experience the unconscious directly before trying to impose our usual views or ideas or opinions on it-have to face it in all the rawness of its essential reality without allowing any conscious influence or bias to interfere. But on the other hand we also have to come to grips with the essential meaning of the ancient Gnostic teachings, because only with the help that they provide will it be possible to create “the foundations for a theory of the unconscious spirit”. Once again, in his own way Jung could hardly have stated things plainer. We have to learn to look and see, not just outwardly into the physical world but straight into our own unconscious. And if we are going to do so we need the solid support, the grounding or foundation, that only the Gnostics’ unique insights into the unconscious can provide. 46 These, if you like, have to be the two wings on the bird of Jungian psychology. And the most extraordinary thing here is not just that he is identifying the ancient tradition of the Gnostics as the only trustworthy source of knowledge available, anywhere in our



conscious world, about how to confront the unconscious. It’s that, while on the conscious side he looks for help in understanding the unconscious to the preserved writings of the Gnostics, the chief figures whom he meets deep down inside the unconscious are Gnostics. In other words, on every possible side he is surrounded by Gnostic tradition-the same as in that famous image of the cosmic serpent swallowing its own tail. And more than one wing on this Jungian bird is Gnostic: they both are. That’s not all, though, by any means; and it’s not just that Gnosticism would come to play such an absolutely central role, for the most part unnoticed, in Jung’s work. If possible, it would play an even more central role in his life-because by making his way to the underworld he didn’t only meet friends and companions. He also found his own teacher; or rather, his teacher found him. From Jung’s authorized biographywe have the beautiful image of Philemon flying into his life as an old man who sails across the sky with the wings of a kingfisher. And we have the lovely picture of Jung himself strolling up, then down, his garden absorbed in silent dialogue with this same old man he called his inner guru-a pagan, we are told, with an exotic-sounding background as well as a certain “Gnostic coloration”. But while we can be ever so grateful to his secretary for lending her feminine touch to this charmingly pretty scene, it doesn’t quite correspond to the whole story as Jung had wanted to tell it. From the unpublished records of what he actually said, the first detail that leaps out is his raw fear. He can hardly stop repeating how scared he was to begin with, how terrified on realizing that what he had assumed was just some aspect of himself in fact was something else-was an immensely powerful and intelligent being in its own right.



But then comes the even greater panic of seeing the bottom fall straight out of his life; of realizing how completely alien this new reality is to everything he has always known; of recognizing what an utter catastrophe lies ahead if he can’t find some way to come to grips with this craziness which, “once again”, is staring him straight in the face. In a sense he already gave the whole game away as soon as he chose to specify that Philemon has an “Egyptian-GnosticHellenistic” background-because anyone familiar with those quintessentially Egyptian-Gnostic-Hellenistic texts known to us today as the Hermetica wouldn’t only be unfazed by Jung’s accounts of his panic and terror, but would expect them. These are simply the standard stages that have to be passed through in the process of discovering one’s inner teacher. Of course, though, Jung’s secretary could hardly be supposed to have much interest in such historical curiosities. Her loyalty was strictly to him, not to what might or might not lie behind him. And that kind of sheer terror he describes would need a good deal of softening, massaging, toning down, because certainly it wouldn’t be right in any way to create a bad impression of the man or his psychology. As for managing, in the process, to obliterate any real continuity with those very same Gnostic traditions Jung was pointing to: that would be a trivial price to pay. 47 And then there is the other point that jumps right out from the original record of what he, himself, said-which has to do with the question of Philemon’s identity. In fact, far fro m making do with ambiguous comments about Gnostic colorations, Jung states point-blank and repeatedly: Philemon was a Gnostic. Again, though, this straightforward identification of Jung’s own teacher as a Gnostic was embarrassing enough either a century ago or half a century ago to justify simply leaving it out.



After all, he was walking on the thinnest ice by engaging even professionally with the topic of Gnosticism. Naturally one at least had to make the effort to maximize his distance from it, however small or large the cost. 48 But, now, it wouldn’t be so wise to think too much has changed-because this same attitude of needing, unconsciously even more than consciously, to keep him at arm’s length from the Gnostics is still alive and well. In the brand-new literature on the Red book there is already no end of commentaries explaining how Professor Jung saw it as his essential task to separate himself from Philemon: to bring about a “critical disidentification” between himself and this fantasy figure. His first and last obligation was to stand apart as the independent, rational, detached scientific observer engaged in his thought- experiments; his controlled, dispassionate exercises in ventriloquism. 49 And it’s purely a question of whether we choose to believe these explanations-or pay attention to Jung himself. The picture that he painted of Philemon for his Red book, of his teacher with the kingfisher’s wings, is already well-known enough from being splashed almost everywhere across books and magazines. But he also painted a very similar mural, upstairs at his own private retreat in Bollingen. At the top of both paintings he formally addresses Philemon, in ancient Greek script, as “Father”. And on the mural he has added, in the original Latin, an alchemical saying under Philemon’s left wing. It’s a beautiful text, known as a quotation from Hermes Trismegistus, that starts with the words Protege me protegam te: “Protect me-I will protect you.” It continues with the statement “I give birth to the light even though my nature is darkness.” Then, though, it suddenly comes to an end with its climactic announcement. “Therefore nothing better, nothing more worthy



ofveneration, can come to pass in this world than the conjunction of myself and my son.”50 That Jung addresses Philemon in both paintings as “Father” couldn’t possibly be less surprising: repeatedly, inside the Red book and even during private discussions about the Red book with people he felt able to trust, he refers to his teacher as “Father” and has Philemon refer to Jung in turn as “son”. This, ever so simply, is how he defined the relationship between the two of them; or, even more simply, it’s how the relationship between them defined itself. So nothing could be more significant than the fact that he has added, on the wall of his very private retreat, a Hermetic text which culminates in dramatically celebrating the conjoining-the alchemical conjunction-of father and son. One would have to be rather blind or a little crazy not to see that there’s no disidentifying from Philemon without the even more critical conjoining: that the whole point and purpose of any differentiation is to prepare the ground for the union. That, after all, is what the Mysterium coniunctioniswhichJung considered the summation of his whole life’s work is about-the separation followed by synthesis, fission followed by the fusion. 51 Probably this will sound very nice, at least in theory. But if we care to watch how the fusion of teacher and student actually manifests in practice, we just have to turn from Jung at his most private to Jung at his most public. A couple of years before he died he gave his most famous interview ever, to the BBC. And the single most famous point inside that interview arrives when, asked if he believes in God, he answers: “I know. I don’t need to believe. I know.” Only fifty years later did it become clear that these words weren’t really his at all. They were words that had been spoken to him by Philemon, his own teacher, another half-century before the interview ever took place.



What Philemon said to him silently, he spoke out loud. And now there is not the slightest room left for doubting what should never have been open to doubt in the first placewhich is that whenever Jung insisted he was only interested in knowledge and not in beliefs, as he so often did, he wasn’t really speaking as a typical modern scientist antagonistic to religious creeds or beliefs. At heart he was speaking as a Gnostic whose one concern is with the knowledge, the absolutely terrifying knowledge, hidden away not only inside the root of every science but deep in the core of each religion. 52 And at the same time, through pointing away from all the accumulated beliefs and dogmas of religions to that inner Gnostic knowledge, the Gnostic father and son were conjoined as one. It can be quite a revealing experience to spend time in Jung’s private library reading through the books about ancient Greek mystery traditions which he bought, and studied minutely, a century ago. Everything inside him springs to life as soon as he comes across any passages that touch on the initiatory process of discovering-or being discovered by-one’s true father. He underscores the printed words, adds lines or comments in the margin, inserts bookmarks when he stumbles on references to ancient Gnostic or Hermetic or magical texts which have been structured as dialogues between mystical father and mystical son; or to the esoteric practice, which reaches back to the Pythagoreans, of teachers adopting students as their own child; or to this adoption as an initiation into the mysteries of rebirth; or to such an adoption and initiation by the “spiritual father” as the most perfect merging, the sacred union, of father and son. And there is one particular passage that he carefully has noted by leaving a clear mark in the margin. He has been reading



the most Gnostic of the dialogues contained in the collection of sacred Hermetic texts known as the Hermetica, which again is not such a surprising choice when one considers how the Red book shows Philemon storing away his own sacred Hermetic texts inside a cupboard. The dialogue is presented as an archetypal discussion between spiritual father and spiritual son. And at a certain point-after all the dramatic upheaval of the son suddenly realizing the horrific impossibilities he is confronted with and bravely stating how alienated he has become from everything once familiar to him and bitterly complaining about just how terrified he is of going crazy-the mood starts to change because it’s time to move at last to the climax, to the mystery of rebirth. Now Father, as the passage marked by Jung begins, “I see myself to be the All. I am in heaven and in earth, in water and in air; I am in beasts and plants; I am a babe in the womb, and one that is not yet conceived, and one that has been born; I am present everywhere.” And as the Father replies: now you know what rebirth is. Of course, for Jung, the one place that gave him unique access to the experience of rebirth was Bollingen-the place he had ritually dedicated as sacred to Philemon. And it’s no coincidence that in his memoirs, right after describing this experience of rebirth there and just after mentioning Philemon by name, he goes straight on to say how easily he finds himself slipping into the state of feeling he is everywhere and present in everything; spread out across the whole landscape, in the water and in the clouds; alive in every animal and tree. 53 It’s not that he is copying or imitating anything. When you have the experience, you don’t need to because you know. That’s the whole point of the son being united with the Father. In that union of the outside and inside, of the Gnostic or Hermetic readings and the Gnostic or Hermetic teacher, it’s not



a question of what one reads causing the experience-or even the other way around-but a question of something no longer remembered in the West. It simply is a matter, as Jung would later apply himself in his scientific guise to trying to explain, of allowing them to exist together; independent but dependent; synchronous, simultaneous, side by side.


Philemon can take us straight to the heart of the truth about Carl Jung. And he is also able to take us, if we are strong enough to go there, right to the heart of the lie. After all, any truth that doesn’t stretch as far as to embrace the untruth is hardly a truth one could call complete. The only trouble is that, to get there, we are going to have to leave every leathered hypocrisy and imaginary honesty behind. When Jung was at the point of turning eighty, he sent a note to an American woman about the being who had been his teacher. Early on, he wrote, it introduced itself as Philemon. And so, perfectly in line with ancient tradition, Jung was left to shoulder the task of understanding his teacher’s name: what it really meant, what it meant for him. The obvious step was to trace it back to the fictional character of Philemon who, together with his wife Baucis, features in Goethe’s famous Faust. But naturally that raises the question of how Goethe himself had come by the name-and the only available answer is the abrupt reply he once gave a friend who asked him what his characters had to do with the Philemon and Baucis already well known in the ancient world.



Absolutely nothing!, Goethe snapped. They don’t have anything to do with anything; I simply used the names to create “a good effect”. And, to be sure, this was a stunningly dismissive thing for him to say. But it was nowhere near as striking as Jung’s own explanation of it: “a typical Goethean answer to Eckermann! trying to conceal his vestiges”. Here, in plunging into the mystery of Philemon and his wife which he once said he would give the entire world to be able to solve, Jung is adding his own comments-not Goethe’s. With his reference to vestiges and concealment he is offering a faithful portrayal not just of someone else’s situation, but of his own. 54 And in case his statement needs any clarifying, I will explain it step by step. Philemon’s greatest gift to his adopted son was the direct knowledge or realization that everything we experience is not only alive, but real. Even all the thoughts that we unquestioningly think we have-they are independent realities like birds in the trees or animals running wild. Each idea or fantasy that comes to us isn’t something we have imagined, fabricated, created: it’s a living entity in its own right. Just as Parmenides had said, everything you can perceive or even think about exists simply because it exists for you to perceive or think about. This is the basis of the underworld logic Parmenides had been told, two and a half thousand years earlier, to bring back to his fellow humans by the queen of the dead. And this-as Jung himself would describe it after his own arduous descent into the so-called world of the dead where of course, unlike here in the world of the living, every single thing is still alive-is the gift of psychological objectivity. It’s the gift of knowing without a shade of doubt that the psyche is real because it was a gift which had been handed to him, person



to person, by the fantasy world itself; by his inner father and teacher. But when he came to face the next challenge of handing on this gift to the world of humans, he realized he would never get very far if he offered it as something given to him by an imaginary being. So he presented it, instead, in a language that was bound to reassure and impress: the language of science. This is how the groundwork came to be laid for his entire psychology; is the ultimate origin of techniques such as active imagination which trainees around the world would soon be busy copying, imitating, learning. And, at the same time, this predictable process of focusing on the gift while leaving the Gnostic giver in the shadows didn’t just mark the stage of translating his experiences into a respectable scholarly idiom-or whatever high-sounding language we choose to use. It also marked the start of Jung doing ever so precisely what he assumed Goethe was doing: hiding away the truth about Philemon through concealing his vestiges. The funny thing is, though, that even the process of hiding or concealing always ends up taking on a life of its own. And there is more than a touch of humour about the situation Jung suddenly found himself in when, years later, he decided to fight back against Martin Buber’s very public accusations that he was a Gnostic. Buber, he complained, doesn’t have the slightest right to accuse me of being a Gnostic because he doesn’t have a clue about “the reality of the psyche”; is abysmally ignorant about my crucial discovery that there is an “objective psyche”; has no understanding at all about the complete independence and autonomy of every thought or entity inside it. In other words, to prove to the public that he’s not a Gnostic he appeals to the identical discoveries which were given to him as gifts by his Gnostic teacher. 55



The paradox could hardly be more perfect, or complete. It’s almost as if for a brief moment the whole forty years of fuss and drama spent claiming to be a faultless empiricist, the most impeccable scientist, blows away like spray to expose what was meant to stay unseen. After all: no one was supposed to notice or know that the core principles he appeals to as showing how free his work is of any Gnostic taint had, each one of them, been revealed to him by a Gnostic. But the paradoxical absurdity in this hidden irony offers just a taste of the other absurdities to come-because, as Jung already implies with his very knowing comment on Goethe’s reply to Eckermann, concealing one’s vestiges is never only a matter of concealing. It’s also a matter of pretending and denying; misdirecting and misleading; deceiving, simply lying. And the reality is that this is exactly what Jung does best. He pretends beautifully, lies magnificently, all for the sake of concealing as much as possible the vestiges of his unrepentant inner affiliation with Gnosticism. For instance there is the famous case of his Seven sermons to the dead, a mysteriously Gnostic text he had been circulating over the years among friends and colleagues as a quintessential extract from his work on the Red book. But as soon as Martin Buber dared to mention it in public, all hell broke loose. Instantly Jung swelled to the sublimest heights of self-righteousnesswaving the Seven sermons away as nothing but a naively artful little poem he once had thrown together, long ago, during the briefest flurry of enthusiasm about some Gnostic writings he just so happened to stumble on way back at that distant point in time. The unspoken truth, though, is that in private he had been keeping up his passionate readings and studies of Gnostic



literature until the moment of Buber’s attack. And even more important is the fact that secretly Jung always viewed these same Seven sermons as something altogether wonderful, embodying a wisdom “so much superior to my dull conscious mind”; as a very special gift to him from the unconscious, a unique source of light and hope, the ripest of fruits dropped into his lap; as the formal beginning of everything that would really matter to him, because through it he managed to express themes which would remain of the gravest importance to him for the rest of his work and the rest of his life. Of course this is all a little awkward, not to mention stressful, for commentators to handle. Ever so nervously and politelybecause it wouldn’t do to offend anyone living or dead-they point out with the greatest of discretion that, here as well as elsewhere, he was not being altogether “candid” in his public statements or denials. But just perhaps, faced with Jung’s acknowledged and perfectly obvious lack of candour, a little more candour is called for from us. And that’s not even to mention those cases where what he says and does is so shockingly shameless that, to be quite honest, it’s almost as if no one can bear to look. 56 He would do anything to cover his Gnostic tracks-not just fake or hide but commit what by any of our normal if hypocritical moral standards would be condemned as religious hypocrisy, intellectual fraud . And it doesn’t help at all to turn a blind eye. Even so, to keep watching certainly isn’t easy. Everything solid might seem as if it’s being swept away. Any recognizable sense of ethics or integrity or consistency could feel as if it’s being turned back to front and upside down. Jung himself, the brave man of science and wisdom, could appear to have sunk to become nothing more than the moral coward he once admitted he was.



But, in reality, everything is exactly where it should be. In fact we only have to listen for just a moment to his characteristic fury in denouncing his “medieval-minded critics” for daring to denounce him “as a mystic and Gnostic”-and immediately we are back on familiar ground. Here we are, on firm land once more, with Jung’s own dual view of the human psyche: a view inspired in no small part by the ancient philosophy of Empedocles. It’s the old song-and-dance routine all over again of his two contradictory and conflicting personalities eternally at each other’s throats, constantly struggling for the last word. 57 This time around, though, we don’t just have Jung the mystic loudly insisting he is not a mystic. We also have Jung the Gnostic shouting out even louder, as his no. 1 personality, that he’s not the Gnostic he is as personality no. 2. And there we have the definitive picture, able to satisfy everybody and nobody. Jung is a Gnostic but not a Gnostic-all in one.


To us, now, this talk ofJung as both a Gnostic and not a Gnostic is utter nonsense-and our heads simply spin. But that makes it all the more interesting to note how, once, nothing would have been easier or more natural for people to understand. Trace Jung’s own, very conscious alliance with Hermetic tradition back to its roots in the god Hermes and you will find even divinities proudly contradicting themselves by announcing the precise opposite of what everyone knows to be the case. Then there are the Popes who used to offer their full endorsement for the practice of stating, outwardly, the perfect contrary of the mysterious reality one knows inside. 58 Today, though, this kind of deviousness is only appropriate for criminals and murderers. Each of us is so completely identified with our processed little truths that we don’t even know what’s happening just one level lower down in our own psyche. And our scholars-ultimate embodiments for Jung of personality no. 1, the most eloquent of spokespeople for the spirit of our time which pats itself on the back for its cleverness at getting rid of wisdom, mass murderers of everything profoundly real-destroy any slightest possibility of following him down into the depths of ourselves. After all, our personality no. 1 isn’t only interested in trivia or sport. It loves dabbling in whatever obscure subject it fancies



misunderstanding; becomes a learned specialist in the world of personality no. 2, a leading expert on Jung and Gnostics and alchemy. This is why academics are so happy parroting Jung’s own no. 1 personality every time he insists he’s no Gnostic, because nothing can be more seductive than hearing the sound of our own superficiality bounced right back at us. 59 But nothing, for Jung, is simple until one accepts that for him nothing is simple. And simply to listen to the voice of his personality no. 1 is a recipe for utter disaster because Jung’s attitude to the Gnostics isn’t just what it seems. At the same time it’s also Jung’s attitude to Jung. For example the defining characteristic, to him, of the no. 2 personality is quiet certainty: a certainty rooted in the experience of eternity. Aside from its fondness for lies the main characteristic of personality no. 1-fleeting creature of the moment, rooted in nothing outside itself-is its flipping and flopping, inconsistencies and uncertainties, the inner experience of being endlessly wracked with hesitations and doubts. A nd we have to hold them both together if we want to appreciate why Jung sounds so undecided whenever he talks out about the Gnostics. He praises them for being so skilful at avoiding inflation only to accuse them of inflation, absolutely insists it’s “clear beyond a doubt” that they were psychologists only to doubt that they were psychologists, accuses them of being primitive and childish only to admire them for being so sophisticated as well as two thousand years ahead of their time, denounces them for being metaphysicians only to admit that he isn’t sure. Of course the predictable reaction when confronted with these constant paradoxes, these blatant contradictions, is to try smoothing them over; is to do everything possible as a Jungian or Jung scholar to blunt the sharpness of their edges by fabricating some impossibly consistent account of his attitude to the Gnostics.



But this is completely to miss the point in every conceivable way. First of all it’s to overlook the fact that when Jung defines the basic method of communication adopted by ancient Gnostics, he states that they very deliberately spoke in paradoxes and used constant contradictions. In other words: even through the simple act of writing about the Gnostics just as he did, he was demonstrating to anyone with eyes and ears that he was a Gnostic. 60 And then there is the other point-infinitely harder to swallow. People love asking the question of what, exactly, Jung’s attitude to the Gnostics happened to be. The only real answer, though, is to ask: Which of his two personalities are you asking about? Just to ask that question spells death to every sentimental idea anyone might have about the man-and this reaches far deeper than the issue of his relationship to the Gnostics because it’s a question even those closest to him were, very naturally, unable or unwilling to face. In their lives as well as their writings they all created a benignly idealized image of him; found ways of relating to him day after day on a human level by smoothly blending his two personalities into one; hung on the master’s every word unless he said something in an obvious moment of anger or it simply suited them not to. But, as always, Jung was right in insisting that real wisdom or understanding only comes from the most unexpected and unappreciated source-because it was his English translator, frowned on as a mere intellectual and rejected as an outsider by most of Jung’s inner circle, who stood alone in realizing how absolutely critical it was at any given moment to know if he was speaking from personality no. 1 or no. 2.

l 164


This, he explained, is what it means to face up to the shifting fullness of Jung’s reality “with his ‘two personalities’ who invariably contradict each other” and who can switch places in the blink of an eye. 61 Strip away the veils of familiarity and nothing can be taken for granted any more. We have to keep our wits constantly about us because there is always danger lurking under the surface of such a person’s words. And in just the same spirit, not many people who read or study Jung would ever want to take the idea of him concealing his vestiges seriously because its implications are so terrifying. It means we can never be sure if he means what he is saying or is saying what he is saying only to cover what he means. We can’t even be certain who, or what, he is. But the most crucial point of all is that, with these two personalities, there is no question of right versus wrong. It’s not that one of the two can be conveniently disregarded and only the other, the truth-teller, believed. They both have to be listened to, ever so carefully, because they both have their own place: both have their role to play in the larger scheme of things. The essential truth of Jung’s Gnostic teacher Philemon belonged inside the sacred shrine he had made for him at Bollingen-which, uncoincidentally, happened to be the one place where Jung felt free to live from the depths of his personality no. 2. But the whole point of having a shrine is to contain the sacred, to protect it against contamination and profanation, keep it safe. And his cocky no. 1 personality with all its superficialities and deceptions and misdirections, its denials and lies, played an utterly indispensable part in misleading people; fooling and distracting the curious; keeping them well away. This is why he hated talking in public about his relationship to the Gnostics, and is why the people who were near him



amplified his fears even more. It’s why he held his Gnostic “secrets” such as the Sev en sermons so tight and close to his chest, which in turn explains the strength of his anger at Buber for trying to expose them. Perhaps to talk about Jung and secrets might sound strange. But there is no reason at all why it should, because that comment of his about Goethe and vestiges is far from being the only place where he very plainly lays out the case for having to cover one’s tracks; hide one’s traces. In fact elsewhere he couldn’t be clearer about the urgent psychological need, whenever touching on issues that matter most, to hide one’s experiences by appearing to talk about things and people quite different from what one is really talking about-just as I am doing in this book. 62 In the overall scheme of things everything has its place, even the deceptions and illusions. This is exactly what Empedocles was aiming to communicate with his teaching about the dual spirits behind the whole of existence: one of them a spirit of cheerful illusion, the other a spirit far too powerful for humans to bear. It’s precisely why Parmenides, to the endless frustration and confusion of later thinkers, presented his own underworld teaching as having two halves. · One contains the goddess’ revelation of the truth, but in her otherworldly wisdom she doesn’t stop there. Instead she goes straight on to demonstrate how, alone, even the most perfect truth can never be complete by dedicating the second half of her teaching to deceptions and illusions; untruths and lies. And it’s well worth noting that Parmenides’ cutting-edge contributions to the science of his time are all included in the second half of his poem, not the first. This is the way things used to be done in an age when the arts of trickery were still appreciated: still understood. This also is why, again perfectly in line with ancient tradition, Jung states near the start of his R ed book that the spirit of the



depths is by itself as inadequate as the superficial spirit of our time-because it’s only the ability to maintain a balance between the two, even at the cost of contradicting oneself, that ultimately matters. Then he goes straight into talking the strange language, so familiar already to Empedocles but so utterly alien to us, of not one but two madnesses. One is the delusion of a human identifying completely with the wisdom spoken by the spirit of the depths; the other is the equal delusion of identifying unquestioningly with the spirit of our time to the point of seeing, just like almost everybody else, nothing but the surface of things. And one wonders how easy it would be nowadays to discover a single person who has experienced, through and through, the harrowing reality of what that truly means. Recognizing the insanity of the unfortunate few who have been overwhelmed by their own unconscious is easy enough. Recognizing the collective madness of the many who are blindly and mindlessly led along by “the general spirit in which we think and act today” is, to say the least, a little rarer. All of a sudden, we are being drawn back to that Gnostic vision of the Christ as a figure entering our world specifically “in order to illuminate the stupidity, darkness, and unconsciousness of mankind”; or to the insight of Jung himself when, just before he died, he stood amazed at how nai:ve he had been “in not expecting the darkness to be so dense”. 63 But there are some things that it’s wiser by far not to mention out loud-and it’s best simply to forget I ever said that.


In spite of his immense importance for Carl Jung, there is just one single scene where Philemon makes a physical appearance inside the main body of the Red book. And that’s not the only exceptional thing about this particular scene. The R ed book is a seedbed bursting with significance for the rest of Jung’s work. Whatever he would later discover or write about famously had its roots there, would flower from there. But the fate of this one scene is unbroken silence. From it nothing visible flowers at all; and the central theme that emerges out of his encounter here with Philemon, Christ’s friend, will never come to the surface even once in any other of his published writings.64 It could be quite tempting to assume that this is because Jung found nothing of any value in what happened between him and his teacher: nothing worth bringing into the collective world of personality no. 1. But for anyone at all familiar with how he really functioned, the alternative possibility is bound to spring to mind-which is that something here might have needed shielding from the spirit of our time, something much too fragile and precious to be made public. And, as a matter of fact, soon we’ll see the kind of unnatural disasters that instantly unfold from the very first moment even



the most seasoned of Jungians lay eyes on this scene inside the freshly printed R ed book. There is also something else about the scene which is extremely odd. In it, Jung describes Philemon as “the magician”. He goes searching for him because he realizes he, himself, is completely stuck and understands that-before he can take a single step forward into life-he is going to have to learn the secret of magic. And eventually he finds Philemon, tending his tulips, at the little cottage he shares with his wife Baucis out in the countryside. But what’s so odd about all this is that, as Jung knew very well, the cottage didn’t even exist. Ever since he was a teenager he had learned to live and breathe each scene of Goethe’s Faust as if it was his own reality. Every single incident inside the drama happened to him; and one particular event affected him more deeply, shook him more personally, than any other. It might come as something of a surprise to hear that in the second half of Goethe’s play the character called Faust already appears-two hundred years ago-as the archetypal property developer. But nothing in this world is truly quite as new as we think it is. Already for Goethe, then for Jung, land development was the sign of the times: epitomized the great tide of so-called progress rising everywhere, sweeping away everything in its path, impossible to resist or even escape. And because Faust felt he needed that little patch of land both Philemon and Baucis lived on, because he had the devil on his side, the humble old couple ended up being murdered and their cottage burned to the ground. 65 In short, it could never be a question of Jung trying to convey the secret of his encounter with Philemon to our collective modern world because the encounter never had any place inside that world to begin with__:had been obliterated, dramatically cut out of it, right from the start.



Instead, their magical meeting quietly took place in an alternate reality altogether unrelated to the spirit of our time. And meanwhile, up on the surface of himself, Jung dutifully went through the appropriate motions of insisting that of course it would be the absurdest thing in the world to suspect him of being an occultist or having anything at all to do with magic. 66 The surface is only the surface, though. And he always found it difficult to keep entirely hidden what was bubbling underneath. For instance it’s still easy to pick up on his excitement, as a young man in his thirties, bursting to tell Freud how he had found a perfect motto to encapsulate the message and purpose of the new psychoanalytic movement-a quotation he had discovered in the ancient Greek magical writings he was studying at the time. Or to be more precise, the saying he had chosen came straight from the so-called Paris magical papyrus: a text which just so happens to preserve, more faithfully than any other document in existence, many of the most mysterious traditions surrounding that famous ancient magician called Empedocles. But I wouldn’t like to give the wrong impression that all Jung had done was to find, in this one magical saying, an ideal motto to define the emerging science of psychoanalysis. On the contrary, he also took it to heart as his own guide in the inexpressibly laborious process of starting to note down every single image or thought that came into his head-a process that led him straight into creating the Black books which, in turn, directly laid the groundwork for the R ed book out of which the rest of his work would flow. 67 And as Jung grew older, the magic didn’t go further underground or just vanish. Instead it became far more apparent, although even more enigmatic. Central to his whole work is the process of individuation; and central to the process of individuation is the unavoidable



need for anyone or everyone to encounter at a certain stage, then integrate, the reality contained in the archetype of the magician. Like so much of what he tried to convey, this theme of encounter plus integration has been a cause of no small discomfort. There are more than just a handful of people who are only too eager to explain it as purely a matter of learning to disidentify from the primitive archetype of the magician and leave all that nonsense about magic far behind. As usual, though, that’s not quite what Jung himself had in mind. For him the first option, when confronted with this primordial power of magic, is to identify with it unthinkingly and in effect end up as the modern bourgeois version of what would once have been called a black magician. The second is to become so scared of the magical power that one projects it as far away as possible into the safety of the heavens and turns into a grovelling, helpless little worm overshadowed by the omnipotent figure of God. But the third way-according to Jung the correct way, what could well be called the only truly magical way of approaching magic-is to “assimilate” all the hidden contents of the magician archetype quite consciously inside oneself. And that could sound respectable, even scientific, enough if it didn’t at the same time evoke with such uncanny precision the ancient mythical legends about gods swallowing magical divinities so they can absorb and incorporate their mysterious powers. 68 For myself, I am going to steer well clear of any learned or scholarly discussion about the practicalities of swallowing and assimilating such a quintessential archetype of magic. After all, Jung knows what he is saying when he tells Philemon in the R ed book that there are no professors left who know even the slightest thing about magic any more. But it may be worth ever so qukkly mentioning how there had already, by the time Jung was alive, been a lengthy tradition



in the West of doctors as well as philosophers claiming that real magic only begins when one has left the whole external business of spells and rituals and ceremonies behind. In other words, it’s not so much a matter of doing magic as of simply being the magic instead. And we just so happen to meet with a strikingly similar picture of the magician who has left his magical doings behind in the R ed book-right at the start of the scene where Jung manages to catch up with Philemon outside his cottage only to find what he jokingly, but also respectfully, refers to as an “old magician” who seems to have retired now from the business of magic and might at the very most just do an odd spell for someone now or then. Naturally that’s not all, though. With characters like Philemon, or Jung, it never is. Almost as if deliberately to give the lie to the convenient image of Professor Jung as someone who left all his childish dabbling in the occult behind as he got older, and wiser, we also happen to have the reports of those who spent time alone with him during his final months-and would describe him, very specifically, as the “old magician”. And that’s not even to mention the people who, after being allowed to visit him towards the end of his life, would come away with the unshakeable impression that they had not just been with an expert psychologist or scientist or scholar. They had been in the overwhelming presence of a living Gnostic; a living alchemist. 69 But, as a true son of his father, the parallels between the two of them hardly stopped there. Sometimes, just like Philemon, Jung too might find himself doing the odd spell for somebody now or then. And, almost as if purposely to frustrate anyone who would like to insist all these descriptions of him were only loose or humorous metaphors, we



still have clear evidence of him performing traditional magic by following the exact procedures of ancient magical ritual right to the letter. 70 Of course, here again, I am not speaking as I should. Everybody with even the slightest investment in defending Jung’s reputation will be as appalled at the reality of Jung the magician as they are certain to be horrified at the prospect of Jung, saviour of the world. Even so, the evidence can only be pushed away so far and people can only be fooled for so long. And, besides, the truth is that the world needs just a bit of saving-not from anybody else, but from ourselves. It also needs a little magic, too, which is exactly why Jung sets out at the start of that exceptional scene in the Red book to find someone who will answer for him the central question of how magic is taught; how it can be learned. When he finally meets up with the old magician himself, Philemon could hardly be more difficult or evasive-a grinding reminder of all the hardships and frustrations, humiliations and confusions, any would-be student would typically have been forced to submit to in the ancient world. And it’s not that he hadn’t been warned. Jung’s own soul had already prepared him by predicting in the plainest possible terms that there was one thing he would have to sacrifice, and sacrifice completely, before he could even begin to learn magic. That’s the sacrifice of the slightest human desire for comfort; of any longing or craving for solace. The words almost burn through the page as his soul keeps telling him, time and time again, about the darkly unconsolable future that lies ahead of him. Jung, for his part, never speaks again with more honesty or burning intensity than when he realizes what the gift of primordial magic actually is-what the



proverbial magic wand is that he abruptly finds himself holding in his hand. It’s a black rod as crushingly heavy as iron and as comfortlessly cold as death: something of such piercingly terrible power it will tear his heart to pieces, nearly shatter his nerves. And here, twisted and turned around Philemon’s finger, he begins to experience what that means. But at last, in this never-to-be-continued debate between student of magic and magical teacher, Philemon carefully allows the odd statements to slip out-statements which just so happen to define all that i:emains ofJung’s published work far better than anyone might care to admit. He explains, without explaining anything, that even to come within sniffing distance of real magic needs tremendous cunning because it can’t be taught or learned; can’t be known, certainly can’t be understood; keeps silent and demands, ahead of anything else, the total unlearning of reason. A s Jung himself comments after leaving, even the meeting that he just had with Philemon is magical and is thoroughly impossible to understand. Then he goes on to add one crucial statement of his own: there can be no thinking about magic because “the practice of magic consists of making what is not understood understandable in a way and a manner which is not understandable.”71 Now, if this whole episode in the Red book was respectfully left alone as it should, a certain balance could be preserved and things wouldn’t be so bad. The problem is that it’s not. In fact I have heard some of the most highly respected Jungian therapists lecturing not only about the Red book-but about this section in particular. And this is how they sum it up: Magic, according to Carl Jung, is very easy to understand because it’s just a way of dealing with the irrational. It’s as simple as that, nothing more. It’s nothing grand or special.



There is no great power, no magical wand or rod you can hold in your hand or anything like that. Magic is purely a matter of comfort; is nothing but a question of learning how to feel comfortable with the irrational, how to make it fully intelligible and understandable. That, if you want to know, is all that magic really is. And if you don’t see what’s wrong with this-or, even worse, can’t see anything wrong with it at all-perhaps I can humbly suggest that you should go back and start reading this book again from the first page. That’s what happens when anyone forgets Jung’s constant warning never to explain anything away as “only” this or “nothing but” that. It’s exactly what happens from the very first moment we ignore his nightmarish implication that, whenever we imagine we understand something he says, this is because we are unaware of the magical power he is using to manufacture such an illusory understanding. Here is what happens when we have no real interest in the magic itself, let alone in paying the crushing price to be paid for learning it, but are only interested in shaping it into a tool to protect us from what it was meant to be. Above all, it’s what happens when our desperate need for personal or professional comfort is so overwhelmingly strong it forces us to run far away from the depths as fast as our expert legs will take us: to put as much space as we possibly can between ourselves and the bewildering fact that “the thing that causes the greatest fear is the source of the greatest wisdom”. This is precisely why Jung realized that his own work was destined, just the same as Christ’s, to become institutionalized-and, just like early Christianity, lose any of its real fire or spirit in a few short years. The high priests can never be stopped once they start to come.



As you can see, it would be superfluous for Jung’s enemies or critics to try to destroy his work because those who speak and write in his name do a fine enough job on their own. 72 This is how subtly, silently, invisibly the situation changes: is how easily, how surreptitiously, the intensity of direct experience slips and then slides unnoticed into something else. All of a sudden our no. 1 personality, with its cocksure ways of masquerading as master of the depths, has successfully invaded the domain of personality no. 2. And this, it can be ever so important to understand, is its own magic. It’s the very substance that our collective world is made of, a magic in reverse. It’s a thing of the most amazing strangeness and gruesome beauty to watch-the perverted form of magic known as rationality. For the rational part of us everything is reasonable and, even when we talk about magic, we are proving there is no such thing. But, for the magician, everything in existence is magic. Even trying to get rid of magic is among the most potent forms of magic: the magic of our age. Here with our own inverted kind of magic, not anywhere else, is where we can start to discover for ourselves a bit about the power of magic. The real magic itself can never be learned, is impossible to teach or be trained in, because whatever we might glimpse of it would immediately get swallowed up by this magic we live and breathe in-the magic of our time. This is the reasonable, progressive magic that invisibly destroys; the magic of a whole culture ripping itself up by its roots; of each of us celebrating new ways, just like the miniature Lucifers we are, of silently murdering our elders. And if that sounds harsh, it’s because none of us can claim to be miraculously exempt from the spirit of our time. We are all, without exception, being compromised and eaten away at every



moment by the in-satiably devouring appetite of “the spirit that runs through the masses”. Jungians or non-Jungians makes no difference. As Jung himself used to observe, those who go by the name of “Jungian” might like to think they are a little special but they are not. And there is no difference whatsoever between waving a magic wand now to get rid ofJung the magician and the centuries after centuries of industrious scholarship which, with impeccably irrational rationality, waved its own wand to get rid of Empedocles the magician; dispose of Parmenides the magician; obliterate any true trace of the primordial magic at the roots and source of our western world. To approach Jung’s magic is impossible without understanding that ancient magic, or what happened to it. I am not just referring to the irritating rituals or objectionable spells, but to the far deeper magic of how to create a whole culture-how to bring a new civilization into being. For his part, he knew only too well why this magic had to be cut away completely from our modern world. As he explains in the Red book, “our time no longer needs magic” because now is the time of reason. 73 And that’s why the only future for Philemon’s magic lies either in silence-or, with the inevitable circlings of time, in the even more silent destruction of what once destroyed it.


For anyone to suggest that the person who created perhaps the most liberating, most transformative psychology in the modern world devoted his life to penitence and repentance: this would hardly sound very reasonable. But that’s just what Carl Jung did. And its oddness is a strong hint at how many thousands of years we already have drifted away from him in the space of less than a century, just as it’s a clear sign of how quickly we are sliding away from ourselves. To be sure, he was never too open about what mattered most to him-as if that really made much difference. In fact he could be as direct and honest as he wanted and still, magician that he was, no one would quite register what he was saying. Even so, he best felt able to be himself by himself at his private retreat in Bollingen; and, as if this wasn’t secretive enough, carved a special text into the wall of the tower which he referred to as his “hidden inscription”. Four words long, it summarized for him the whole purpose of Bollingen while at the same time telling a hidden story: Philemonis sacrum Fausti poenitentia, “Philemon’s shrine- Faust’s repentance”. 74 The first two words are straightforward enough. He had built the tower at Bollingen as a sacred place for his inner teacher. But the second are the riddle.



Ever since he read Goethe’s Faust for the first time as a boy, Jung had come face to face with himself in the character of Faust; identified with him completely; felt as guilty, when Faust accidentally had Philemon and Baucis killed, as if he somehow had helped in the past to have them murdered; saw it as his personal responsibility to atone for the crime, or at least prevent it happening again, by confronting the Faust inside himself. And the only way to understand this situation, humanly, is if we are willing to relate it to ourselves. Faust is the classic example of a property developer who gets greedy, behaves badly, evicts some peace-loving people, even causes a death or two. And then what do we do? Most likely we sigh and do nothing, perhaps talk a bit about it with all the correct intonations of self-righteous superiority while inside ourselves accepting it as the terrible price to be paid for the blessings of living in such a convenient modern world. There again, we might want to take legal action if we have the ways and means. Or more probably, in line with the energetic spirit of our age, we’ll join up with the ranks of other activists to create innovative new ways of coming together to make the world a better place for everyone to live in. But Jung repented. To him all those outer solutions are the childish result of me believing I am a noble force of right and good while heroically projecting the violence of the problem somewhere else, anywhere else, as long as it’s outside myself. This is why he backed out of cooperating with the United Nations in their grand plans for world peace-because he saw the arrogance and utter futility of rushing out to correct the world’s wrongs in the firm belief that my own attitude is right and true. “It’s a very long step from this conviction to the conclusion: the world is wrong and therefore I am wrong too.”



And, as he immediately added: “To pronounce such words is easy, but to feel their truth in the marrow of one’s bones is a very different proposition”. There, in the marrow of one’s bones, is where things become serious; deadly serious. Here is where one has to choose whether to go out into the world or go in-all the way, not just dipping one’s toes as spiritually or psychologically minded people like to do-into the depths of oneself. This is why Jung insisted “one virtually has to die” before being able to grasp the full reality of Faust’s crime against Philemon or Baucis. But it’s also the reason why, right at the core of his Red book during the stage of his Christ-like descent into hell, he sees that nothing whatsoever can be done on any human or spiritual level until each one of us recognizes our own perfect “complicity in the act of evil”. 75 There is no forging such a recognition. None of the usual masks or masquerading will do-because whoever comes back with a direct awareness of that complicity has the haunting look, the unmistakable glance, of someone whose eyes have seen straight through hell into eternity. And so we come to the part of this story about what that evil is. It’s much the same story as before: Jung expressing himself ever so simply, ever so clearly, except that we don’t notice because we are not allowed to. That’s how powerful the magic is of this world we live in. Plastered across his published biography is the plainest possible statement that this isn’t the evil of some unscrupulous developer or businessman, as we would like to believe, but the evil in us all. And that’s the ruthless search for improvement-for the newest, the newer, the new. It’s the gnawing sense of discontent and dissatisfaction that pushes us faster and faster into a non-existent future, the diabolical addiction to speed that robs us of our time and strips



us of our lives while tricking us into leaving behind who we are and were meant to be, the wild violence of riding the torrents of progress that tear us away from our roots, the individual and collective stupidity of trading in something good for something promoted as much better which always magically ends up far worse, the increasing enslavement not only to technology and science but to government and the power of the state which promise greater freedoms only to take them all away. Or, as Jung expressed himself in one of his interviews that never quite made its way into print, this is the evil of those who set themselves up as vicious innovators. And, by that, he is not just meaning what’s technologically new but what’s spiritually new; innovative ways of communication, interaction, education; better ways of doing good, more enlightened methods of waking up; every spiritual solution which seems to offer a fresh new alternative to our corrupt modern world of progress and materialism but is just a prettier part of it, a fancier extension. In other words we are each of us, without even noticing it, vicious developers: are all Fausts carried along in our “hubris and inflation”, murderers of Philemon and his wife every day. We are the ones who keep burning their cottage down with the intensity of our thoughts and the cleverness of our actions, because this is the way of the times. 76 And this is why Jungians who are willing to listen to Jung are such a rare breed-because what he says is so utterly unreasonable, so absurdly and obviously unacceptable in our contemporary world. It would cost ever so much to look far enough inside ourselves to catch a glimpse of the bottomless truth that dismissing his message with such instant self-assurance is simply one more proof of our inflation and hubris. After all, there is no need to go the whole way to hell just to discover everyone’s complicity in an evil they are already quite happy admitting to.



The trouble is that we have arrived at a point where Jung is steering well away from what could seem to be the manageable problem of one, or two, individual patients’ unhealthy inflation towards something far more terrifyingly real: collective inflation. And while nothing could be easier than to sit down and wisely discuss the collective inflation experienced by Germans during the lead-up to either of the first two world wars, we are never going to feel at all comfortable sitting down to confront the mass inflation of the culture we now live in-which is why a third world war is guaranteed. Very pointedly, just as he is adding the final words to one of his most important works on alchemy, he comes straight back to the murder of Philemon and Baucis. As strongly as he can, he emphasizes that Faust’s crazy inflation isn’t the inflation of some real or :fictitious individual. It’s the inflation of the masses; and “the masses are blind brutes, as we know to our cost.” Then he goes on to say that a remedy exists for this collective inflation, which is discoverable in private. But such a remedy “is nothing that can be held up to the masses-only some hidden thing that we can hold up to ourselves in solitude and in silence. Very few people care to know anything about this; it is so much easier to preach the universal panacea to everybody else than to take it oneself’ because then one might suddenly be forced to doubt everything. And, naturally, “no doubts can exist in the herd; the bigger the crowd the better the truth-and the greater the catastrophe.” 77 This is the remedy of repentance: of Jung’s penitence, the hidden thing that he held up to himself in solitude and silence. It’s to perform the invisible, but unbelievably painful, penance of having to atone through the fabric of one’s life for the collective crimes of humanity. And only inwardly can anybody guess how much appalling darkness and hardship someone might have to face and what gruesome sacrifices might have to be made



in the sacred process of compensating for the unconsciousness and cruelty, the self-absorption and forgetfulness, of a whole country; of a continent; of the world we live in. Of course this might sound almost as grim as it actually is. But the thing is that by turning away from the evil we don’t make it disappear, and if we don’t fully face the evil inside ourselves it follows us in everything. Then we can be going out and dancing and doing the most wonderfully stimulating things while tormenting Jung’s spirit, haunted by the darkness inside us . And perhaps, just perhaps, it’s only by going into the depths of ourselves that we will ever come to discover real joy. Exactly the same as before, we are left with two magics. One, as Jung himself explains in an unpublished interview, belongs to the devil: is the vicious magic of ruthless innovation, of the new assassinating the old. The other is the magic of the solitary magician, of Philemon-or Merlin. This, unlike the magic of the masses, is the secret and sacred task of protecting the past by leaving it undisturbed; by respecting one’s ancestors, honouring the elders. Or, as Jung’s views on the subject have more publicly and politely been summed up: it means “recognition of’the ancient”‘, means working inwardly to ensure the continuity of history and culture. 78 To speak out like this about recognition of the ancient, about the continuity of history, can seem innocent enough. But actually to communicate something about it is a very different proposition-because the past he is referring to isn’t some token history book, or a handy collection of myths and symbols on the bookshelf, or even a curious trip to some museum. It’s what once used to be the only logic, the logic of the dead, but now is laughably absurd. It’s the dead themselves who call to us through the wind, sing to us through the birds, speak to us through children or our own visions and dreams. It’s everything



that eludes us as soon as we think a single thought, or just move to see it better, because there is no space at all for it in our ruthlessly functional world. And we can never be sure if what we really saw for such a brief moment was the magic of another world appearing in this, or the magic of this world erasing that. That’s why even to say these words, in our ever so reasonable existence which is falling apart as I speak, is almost impossibly difficult. Simply to be able to write them, arrange one word to follow another, is itself an act of magic-not to mention penitence. And to make any sense of them, to be able to follow them: that needs an act of magic, too. Jung often noted he was such a complicated individual and had so many sides to him that no one person could ever hope to map them all, which is true enough because his life branched off into so many different outlets. At the same time, this is only half of his story. What so mysteriously but predictably has been forgotten is the hidden root of Jung, from which all the other branches fl.owed. Repeatedly he tried to point to it as best he could; mentioned it here, there, often in the most unlikely of places. And through his whole adult life it always remained the same. He already lays it out not in one of his later works on alchemy, or during some interview shortly before he died, but while he was still in his thirties and working away at the Red book: “We are a blinded and deluded race.” The only thing we know is how to exist on the surface of ourselves, live only for today, use our minds for thinking only of tomorrow. As for the past, “we behave towards it like brutes because we are not willing to receive the dead”. Instead, we are only interested in doing the kind of work that brings visible results or success; and “above all we want to be paid.” To do some hidden work that offers no one any visible benefit or service would probably strike anybody as insane.



But this insanity is just what’s needed because “there is one indispensable, although strange and hidden work you have to do in secret: your most important work, your masterpiece”. This is the inner work you have to do before you can ever discover your outer work in life. It’s the work that you need to do, not for the sake of the people around you-but for the sake of the dead “who demand the work of atonement” and won’t let you live until you do it. So “don’t look forward too much, but back and into yourself in case you fail to hear the dead.” In a strange but realistic way it’s all for the best that most people do fail to hear the dead and do fail to hear Jung, because the past inside ourselves isn’t just the source of life or purpose. It’s also the ocean of the unconscious-infinitely fascinating, vastly treacherous and deceptive. 79 Nothing is easier than to get lost there. And whoever wants to travel into it needs one thing as badly as a compass, which is the precision of focus. What Jung found there-inside himself, deep in the past of his own culture-is something he often referred to throughout his life and tried to explain, as best he could. Again, though, almost as if by magic the image he conjures into view quickly mists over and keeps drifting off out of sight. If you are not able to stay focused on it, you will lose your bearings and forget you ever saw anything. If you concentrate too much on some detail, you will end up trapped inside the limits of your psychology and the artificial structures of your mind. But whoever is ready to keep it gently and firmly in focus will start, little by little, to make out the outlines of Jung’s life-and, behind, of the hidden mystery at the heart of our western world.


There is a time when-reminiscing as an old man-Carl Jung relived in the sharpest detail his original experience of going back into history and sinking into the past. He had been fascinated for years, when he was younger, with the legend of the Grail. Already he had started to ask himself: what is this Grail, this famous treasure so hard to attain? But Christianity gave no answer. In fact this is the one question Christianity is unable to answer. Gradually he became aware of the huge gulf or gap in time dividing the medieval myth of the knights of the Grail from the far more distant past of antiquity. And he knew that to find his answer he was going to have to make his way beyond Christianity; get behind it. Then he describes just what happened. To begin with, he let himself be carried back to the time of the knights in their quest for the Grail. But the only result was that he found himself plunged into total and utter darkness-not a single response or reply. It wasn’t until, like some inner archaeologist, he became able at last to descend all the way to the third century after Christ that he finally felt something change. Instead of nothing but darkness he began to notice things getting brighter, the beginning oflight. He had the unmistakable sensation: here lives a part of myself.



And this was his discovery of the Gnostics, including Philemon. It was as if there was something of him in them and something of them in him, as ifby reaching back through the past to his teacher in the figure of Philemon he had encountered his real self-had arrived at what, on the deepest level, he recognized to be his own truest shape and form . Here he was, home at last, not with his blood relatives or physical ancestors but together with his most intimate spiritual family where he belonged. 80 So he had literally found himself, there as well as here at the same time: two Jungs, or two halves of one Jung, almost two thousand years apart. And, as always happens, from the first moment that he found himself he was lost. He was with himself, reunited with his teacher, with those he belonged to and who belonged to him, in a period close to the time of Christ. He was in the twentieth century, too. The wisdom had started to flow from him, back then, into the newer him right now. But as for how he could consciously connect these two Jungs, make sense of their interaction, still he had no answer. Once again there was the enormous gap, the hiatus, the unbridgeable distance between present and past. The Gnostics already had the basics of psychology; had confronted the archetypes in their lives and experiences; were up against the reality of a collective unconscious that powers our existence, defines and shapes our whole world. As for what lay between them then, though, and us now: “they lived in the first, second and third centuries. And what was in between? Nothing”-nothing but a gaping hole. It was one of those riddles that could easily, to use his own expression, have made him lose his head. But, to his credit, he had the courage and integrity to avoid looking around outside himself for some cheap solution. And only eventually did he come to see that this nothing wasn’t just nothing.



Only ever so slowly did he start to realize that the hole wasn’t a hole. On the contrary, he began to become aware of an unbroken lineage linking and connecting the ancient Gnostics to our modern world: often hidden, sometimes persecuted, always to some degree or other submerged. That was the western tradition of alchemy, also known as Hermetic philosophy or the mythical golden chain. Now he had the bridge from himself and his physical family back to himself, his teacher, his innermost family. And this is what alchemy would always be for him-a bridge, simply a bridge. 81 But simple things are always the most difficult ones to understand: always the most elusive and the hardest to hold gently, as well as firmly, in view. It’s so easy to forget what makes a bridge a bridge and that its whole purpose is to allow people to get across. Instead, those who invest their minds and lives in busily helping to construct a bridge can soon end up itching to build their home on it and missing any larger sense of what exists on either side. All it takes is the slightest iota of self-importance or self-interest and the greater perspective, so subtle, so hard-won, is suddenly lost. A bridge is about flow, as opposed to constriction or rigidity; about fluidity and movement; about the traffic of continuity. This is why, to Jung, there could never be any question of alchemy as opposed to Gnosticism. Qyite to the contrary: for him the one flowed effortlessly into the other because alchemical tradition, itself, was Gnostic through and through. 82 And even the separate phases of his life that he is supposed to have dedicated to studying Gnostic tradition first, only followed by alchemy much later, are largely a myth. Naturally the emphasis and apparent priorities had to shift with the passing of time.



The fact, though, which happens to be a fact particularly rich in significance is that he was already becoming acquainted with alchemy as soon as he started his studies of the Gnosticsin much the same way that he would continue working on Gnosticism for the rest of his days. 83 But to see such a whole as the whole it is involves having to hold the completeness of it, its living reality, silently in the stillness of one’s inner self. Focus too much on this detail or that and you are lost because, paradoxically, the only way to keep one’s clarity is by viewing everything from the perspective of the surrounding blackness. T his, after all, is the reason why Jung tried the best he could to emphasize that the sense of historical continuity which was so crucial for him belongs to the world of personality no. 2-and can only be appreciated by someone attuned to the vast regions “of inner darkness”. Of course, judged by the spirit of our age, in saying such things he was stepping way out ofline. To conventional historians, or at least those few scholars prepared to waste time in studying him, history is strictly their domain and Jung with his amateurish fantasies about historical continuity was just an imposter. But the joke is on them because, very simply, he understood the all-important materials far better than them; had laboured for years to become fluent in the ancient languages which they, if they bothered to read any of the texts at all, could mostly only approach through poor translations; knew his way around the subtleties of the evidence with an openness and an attentiveness even the greatest experts couldn’t match because, like his friend as well as colleague Henry Corbin, he understood that the so-called facts of history will always remain a closed book without entering the mystery which lies behind them.



And he did these things, outstripped scholars in their scholarship to a degree they were hardly able to notice, because for him much more was at stake than they could ever imagine. 84 Many academics tend to feel quite free to come up with whatever new theories or crazy hypotheses they want-in fact often the crazier the better. But for Jung it was never about needing to be clever, although this can seem almost impossible to understand. Instead, it was about the most serious and solemn of obligations: about his responsibilities towards the living and, above all, his duties towards the dead. The thing about the dead, which should only rarely be said because one never knows who is saying it, is that they are not just dead. Whether approached correctly or wrongly, respected or forgotten, acknowledged or ignored, they are far more alive than we are. In one way or another they live with us, through us, as us. “They still live on.” A second thing about the dead is that, in whatever matters to them, they demand the most uncompromising precision. And a third is that whenever life happens to be viewed from their perspective, everything looks back to front like in some kind of mirror-appearing as just the opposite of what we are pleasantly ready to expect. What from our side of the bridge seems perfectly solid and real is the purest fantasy to them while what, to us, seems nothing but fantasy is the firmest of foundations on the other side. This is the reason why, far from boasting that through his masterful scientific work he had managed at last to place the bizarrely fantastic world of Gnostics and alchemists on a solid foundation, Jung stated the exact reverse: that only the solid foundation offered by Gnosticism, and by alchemy in leading




back to the Gnostics, had mana ed to stop his whole psychology 1 from remaining the emptiest an , hollowest “phantasmagoria”. 85 It was only the historical con inuity they were able to provide that had the power to bring h m, along with his work, back into the real world. And this re lity lies not in the hectic rush of ephemeral present moments hat keep tearing, dragging us further away from ourselves; not even in the meditative stillness of the present moment which o~ecomes just another excuse for escaping our primordial nature. . On the contrary, it lies in t e depths of a living past which every present moment exists to serve-because that’s where our true root and purpose are waiting to be found. 86 Noticed, or unnoticed, this historical continuity is the bedrock of his work and his psychology. But, as so often, we can stand watching him repeat the same statements only to see them immediately being washed away by the tides of time. For example, there is the one rare talk he grudgingly agreed to give about the Gnostics in which he explained that “if we seek genuine psychological understanding of the human being of our own time, we must know his spiritual history absolutely.” By spiritual history he meant, very specifically, the two thousand years connecting us back through the past of western culture to the time of the Gnostics. To him this recognition of the ancient, as he called it, wasn’t a matter of theory or academic speculation. It was a question of the most urgent practice. Jung was speaking as a healer, a psychiatrist, a clinician when he kept insisting there can be no real cure of a human being without understanding that person’s true history. And he wasn’t just talking about childhood history or even parental history, because “we are not of today or of yesterday; we are of an immense age.” Or as I once wrote: “We’re ancient, incredibly ancient. We hold the history of the stars in our pockets.”



It was as a caring doctor trying to help his patients deal with their apparent sufferings, their everyday neuroses, that he claimed the only genuine treatment often lies in drawing them out from the little world of their personal troubles into an awareness of the “supra-personal connections” behind what they are experiencing-into “a supra-personal consciousness with a sense of historical continuity”. The only healing for them exists in taking them beyond themselves. The only attitude or state of mind that can help them is a truly religious attitude: not religion as dogmas or creeds, but “the religious attitude per se”. And it’s precisely for allowing this religious attitude to emerge “that the sense of historical continuity is indispensable”. This is what the ancient Greeks and Romans meant by the process of being reborn, the mystical process of rebirth out of the personal into the impersonal. Otherwise, everything in an individual’s attitude will be “obviously wrong”. This is how one single person’s seeming neurosis can be undone, because what manifests as private neuroses is for the most part simply a lack of history-the collective neurosis of a culture that abandoned its ancestors and, in the process, forgot itself. What feels so wrong inside us is what already went wrong in history, and of course the other way around. Our modern-day neuroses aren’t just one person’s problem, your problem, mine. They are the delayed result, postponed but perfectly inevitable, of what happened to the Gnostics two thousand years ago at the point in time when orthodox Christianity suppressed and crushed their truth: obliterated their wisdom. And the message from the heart of Jung’s psychology is that unless we understand inside ourselves what happened then, we are never going to be free now. It’s exactly the same, again, with Aristotle-and the way he forced the western mind to deviate “from its original basis”



by making it leave the psyche, our one true source of direct experience, behind. Only when we start turning back to where we come from, back to what in spite of all our modernities we still are, can any real or lasting healing occur. And that’s the labour of repentance for the crimes of the unrepentant; recognition of the ancient in the maintenance of continuity; restoration of the bridge. This is the reason why Jung’s famous biography announces that without history there can be absolutely no psychology. But such a provocative statement is so open to misinterpretation that it can also be helpful to look at some of the much more specific things he said which were never allowed into print. For instance there is his unpublished, forgotten statement about just how crucially important the ability to read ancient Greek or Latin texts had been to him; and to be able to read them not in translation, but direct in the original language. Without a thorough working knowledge of those languages, he claims, it’s impossible to come to any real insight into western culture-or arrive at any authentic understanding of psychology. 87 One could probably count on the fingers of a single hand the number of Jungian theorists and practitioners who have taken this advice to heart, or would ever be prepared to do so. It’s far more profitable to rush off and, while claiming to be working in his name, build even more Faustian bridges across to nowhere. And that’s quite a shame, because then one throws away the chance of discovering what Jung discovered or seeing what he saw. One of the greatest miracles in existence is the way that, for us as humans to begin with, this material world becomes our only foundation and basis. If we ever have the courage to turn and steal a glance into the world of the unconscious, the only thing we can see is bottomless chaos and an infinitely swirling abyss without any firm basis or foundation at all.



But if we are able to muster the far greater courage needed to throw ourselves into that abyss, after falling and losing sight of anything solid for what feels like an eternity we finally arrive at the reality familiar to alchemists as the “everlasting foundation”or referred to by Jung as the “indestructible foundation”. Naturally, for the sake of our sanity as human beings, we always keep that longing to have a strong and stable foothold in the physical world. This is simply a symbol, though, of that other foundation; and nothing is ever the same after at last finding the real foothold somewhere else. 88 That’s where we are confronted with the primordial precision, the incalculable fineness of detail and structure, beyond anything imaginable in this ephemeral world of the living. That’s the uncanny exactness and compactness of Parmenides’ otherworldly logic which he was instructed to bring straight back from the realms of the dead. And, in the case of Carl Jung, what he was shown was the precisest outlines of a structure spanning two thousand yearsthe vast structure reaching back from our present day through all the whirling mists and darkness past alchemists, then Gnostics, to the dawn of western culture.


Once someone has been taken into another world and given a vision of reality, the whole game of personal existence is over. There have never been any people who were presented with such visions for themselves. The primordial law states that whatever is provided in the underworld is only given so it can be carried back, unchanged, intact, to the world of the living. That’s the sacred contract, signed at the beginning of time, between the living and the dead. This is why, as Jung duly noted, at a specific point he no longer belonged to himself alone and no longer even had the right to do so. From then on, his life belonged to the living as well as the dead: existed for the “generality”, for the sake of the whole. And Jung himself understood that when you truly no longer live for yourself or belong to yourself then you become, just like Christ, a source of life for others.89 Only then, when the personal inside a person gracefully or reluctantly gives way to what lies beyond the personal, is when one starts being able to grasp the true meaning of urgency-the nearly unbearable, burning urgency of eternity pressing onto and right into time. This was the urgency that, at the start of 1938 in Kolkata, burst through Jung’s dream about the Grail and forced him back



with a jolt from India to the West: back to its desperate need for the healing vessel or servator mundi which is the only thing capable of protecting and saving the western world. “For your state is perilous; you are all in imminent danger of destroying

all that centuries have built up.” There is a sad inevitability about the way that, with the particular rigidity and dogmatism only a dutiful disciple can provide, such a momentous statement would end up being embellished with the usual half-truths or half-untruths. As perhaps the most influential Jungian went on to note in commenting on this dream, inside the healing vessel of the Grail lies “the answer to the spiritual problem of our cultural tradition”-which is true enough. But then she has to add that “this secret, however, is contained nowhere save in the symbolism of alchemy” which Jung was focusing most of his conscious attention on at the time. 90 It can be such an irresistible temptation to divide a person’s life into separate phases of work; into new fields of discovery and understanding. We don’t even realize that this, too, is the Faustian solution: getting sucked along by the illusions and seductions of progress. In fact the pull is so strong that one can howl and cry and warn but there is nobody, not even those close by who could or should, who will ever notice. And it’s precisely the same in our own lives. Wisdom’s beginning is to give up on the endless fuss of looking hopefully into the future for some final solution to our ignorance, some perfect correction to the mess we’ve made so far. It starts in the same way it ends-with looking back, exactly as Jung recommended, and into oneself. Instead of stepping forwards we have to walk backwards into the place inside us all where the answers already lie and have always been waiting.91 That, in a simple word or two, is the essence of this whole book.



Dreams, especially the big dreams, never tell our lives in a straight line. They dance around, then back on themselves in circles or spirals. And when Jung was reminded inside his Kolkata hotel of the crucial need to find the healing vessel of the Grail he was just being reminded, in the way only dreams can do, of what he already knew. For a long time before visiting India he had been writing, lecturing, teaching that the symbolism of the Grail reaches back past the medieval alchemists into the Gnostic and Hermetic traditions of antiquity. To be a little more specific: he traced it straight back to the magical symbol of the krater, an old Greek word for the mysterious mixing-bowl that initiates threw themselves into so they could be baptized into rebirth and immortality and salvation. As it so happens, almost ten years earlier than that dramatic Kolkata dream he was half-jokingly talking with students about how anyone nowadays wanting to find the krater of the Gnostics-the healing vessel of rebirth and salvation-shouldn’t look for it any more in the ancient alchemical centres of Egypt. Instead it could be found, quite simply, in Zurich. And to make things even clearer he playfully if unsubtly hinted that not only was this krater the psychological work he did with his patients, but he himself was the living krater. He, Carl Jung, was the eternal fountain of youth: the saviour offering humans the pharmakon athanasias, “the medicine of immortality which makes the new man”. This was far more than some joke, though. On the contrary, the logic behind it all was impeccable. Just as the only way for a knight to discover the Grail was by becoming it, and just as the only way to serve the servator mundi is inwardly to be the saviour and protector of the world, so the one and only way to make the krater work is by becoming the krater oneself.



And to get a sense of how profoundly serious this whole matter was for him, nothing can be better than to remember that he envisaged the entire “prehistory of his psychology”-meaning the history ofJungian psychology before any Carl Jung appeared on the scene-as embodied in one single symbol. Needless to say, that was the symbol of the krater. So, in just the same way that he came to equate the mystery of the Grail with the secret of individuation and would see it as his central task to recover the abandoned Grail vessel for the sake of the West, he had discovered in the Gnostic vessel of the krater the primordial symbol of his own psychology. 92 But strange as it might seem, to be watching Jung trace his psychology back beyond himself, there is one other factor we have to bear in mind. In his published writings, as well as his lectures, he made sure to track this quintessential symbol of the krater even further than the Gnostic and Hermetic circles of antiquity. In fact already from the very first time that he ever refers to the krater of rebirth, he specifically connects it with the name of one particular person: Empedocles. Since the time when he was still a young student he had never managed to shake off his fascination with the ancient legends about how Empedocles died in Sicily by climbing the crater of Mount Etna-then throwing himself into the volcano so he could become immortal, be reborn as a god. And here, as Jung was quick to recognize with his fine eye for the sense of words, is where the old Greek term krater no longer just meant some pretty mixing-bowl or carefully fabricated vessel. Instead, it was the crater of a magnificent volcano seething with lava and water and fire-one of the most terrifying examples on earth of nature’s utterly inhuman power to destroy, transform, give birth.



Here, with these legends about Empedocles predating not only medieval alchemy but even Gnosticism by centuries, he realized he had got back as far as it was possible to go to the source and origin of all those traditions about a krater as well as a Grail: to the earliest prehistory of his own psychology. As you may have guessed, though, there is much more to the matter than that. For Jung, history was the diametrical opposite of what we’ve come to think of as history. Actually to go back into the past wasn’t a question of wandering off into the blank irrelevance of hundreds or thousands of years-but of returning to the primordial source of one’s life, one’s inspiration, one’s existence. And from the time of his work on the R ed book right through to the end of his life he was perfectly clear about the nature, as well as the identity, of his own primordial source. The single point of origin for all his later work and understanding was the experiences he laboured first to endure, then embody, then make sense of, through his R ed book. But the source of those visionary experiences themselves was the overwhelming outflows of lava he had happened to bump into at the scene of a massive volcanic crater: the crater that gave him access to the underworld. So, with the ancient Greek philosopher who is known as Empedocles, Jung had arrived at the root of his psychology in every meaningful sense. Historically, he had reached the ultimate source of its lineage and pedigree. And symbolically, energetically, psychologically, he was all the way back again at the primordial origin of its unstoppable vitality: right at the source of its raw, transformative power.93 Of course even to think of linking Jung and his psychology to some ancient philosopher is bound, nowadays, to sound like a blatant example of stretching the evidence too far. But, quite to the contrary: it’s only by allowing the evidence to speak for itself,



without any pulling or stretching or concealing, that we can help what Jung called the real “historical pattern” to emerge. For him the all-important point of historical reference was the ancient Gnostics. And he was as familiar as anyone, far more familiar than most, with the complex multiplicity of influences that had constantly fed into both Gnostic and Hermetic traditions-from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Judaism, Christianity, Greek religions or philosophies. As a matter of fact without any appreciation on our part for such complexities, for the so-called syncretism of such different influences, there are details and aspects of Jung’s writings we will never be able to understand. 94 But this makes it even more striking that, when he came to explain how he viewed the phenomenon of Gnosticism, he described it as first and foremost a philosophical tradition firmly planted in the lineage of Greek philosophy. And it’s exactly the same story, which ought to be no cause at all for surprise, when he turns to alchemy: In a letter he once sent to his Jewish friend, Erich Neumann, he stated without any hesitation that not only his own psychology but also western alchemy “is deeply rooted in Europe, in the Christian Middle Ages and ultimately in Greek philosophy”. This has disappointed, even angered, some commentators who would much rather that Jung had kept silent about philosophy and said almost anything else instead. The simple truth is, though, that here we have him being perfectly clear about how he views and experiences his own work-because here, especially in the statement about Greek philosophy, we have “his explicit confession as to his own tradition”. And there is a double logic hidden behind that statement of his.



On the one hand, while well aware of Egyptian and other elements that contributed to alchemical tradition in the West, he had the profoundest respect for the alchemists’ own insistence on describing themselves as “philosophers”. Over time he learned to live and breathe with the countless references they make throughout their texts to the philosophers’ stone, the philosophers’ vessel, the philosophical fire; to the philosophical art and work and task which is the true philosophy, as opposed to the philosophy of Aristotle; to the garden of philosophers with its philosophical tree, the riddles of the philosophers, the ancient gatherings and assemblies of philosophers. He was only too familiar with the fact that Greek, then Arab, then Latin alchemical literature often makes a point of looking back in particular to the great Presocratic philosophers as supreme masters of the art. And he was finely attuned to the exquisite subtleties of a situation where, two thousand years after Parmenides’ death, an alchemical writer in Italy could describe how it was Parmenides who had saved him from his errors by guiding him onto the right path-just as there happen to have been Arab alchemists and mystics who gathered together into “Empedocles circles” because they had found in Empedocles a greater authority, a truer source of prophecy and revelation, than even Muhammad himself.95 But as usual that’s just a part of the story because, on the other hand, there is Carl Jung’s own connection to philosophy. For modern philosophy, which “never says anything of the slightest practical value” with its hollow theorizing and useless jargon, he felt little aside from disappointment or downright contempt. This makes it all the more remarkable, though, that when asked if his psychology was just another religion he would say no: Don’t compare my psychology to the established religions with their lumbering pretensions and dogmas and creeds. The truth is that, far from being a missionary or founder of some



new religion, “I am speaking just as a philosopher” because we psychologists “are philosophers in the old sense of the word, lovers of wisdom”. And the best way of all to understand this psychology of mine, he would add, is to compare it to ancient philosophy. Of course that raises an obvious question about what kind of ancient philosophy Jung was referring to. He was hardly thinking of Plato, who to him had always been the classic example of a theorist so full of smart ideas he was never able to apply them in practice. He certainly wasn’t thinking of Aristotle, either, who in his mind was more responsible than anyone else for forcing western consciousness to deviate from its natural course. But as for what existed before this Aristotelian deviation or diversion, the most striking thing is that he goes almost completely silent. 96 And there is a very good reason for that silence because, in spite of all his intuitions and inner affinities and well-founded suspicions, something far more powerful was governing his understanding of Presocratic philosophy: sheer, unfettered prejudice. He already lays his cards on the table when he states that, right from its formal start with Pythagoras, western philosophy had never been anything more than the densest kind of intellectualism and rationalism “as moulded by the Greeks”. But that’s because he is just parroting the bastard wisdom endlessly churned out by the German textbooks of philosophy he had been devouring since he was a child-textbooks which mindlessly projected the rampant rationalism of the eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth centuries back onto the ancient world. It’s exactly the same when he declares that the Presocratic philosophers were concerned with physical objects, instead of consciousness. And this was especially true of”the nature philosophers like Empedocles” who had the most “marvellous naivete”



with regard to the objects of nature, or nature herself, because at their stage in history they had not yet been graced with the opportunity for self-reflection and inner awareness which would only be made available to humanity through Socrates or Plato. But that, too, is simply the inflated evolutionary nonsense which would lead the collective western mind into two world wars and which Jung as an intelligent European of his own time was forced to live and breathe. And it’s the same all over again with his almost laughably disjointed description of Empedocles as “one of the very early Greek philosophers and a sort of saviour”-because this is how every single handbook of ancient philosophy would introduce the man, as a hopelessly divided character who tried to live the respectable life of a philosopher and scientist on the one hand while falling into all sorts of religious quackery on the other. Still, while there is nothing very virtuous in this rehashing by Jung of the wisdom of his time, there is nothing particularly unvirtuous about it either. After all, it was Jung himself who had the rare humility and deep self-knowledge needed to admit that no one alive is “immune to the spirit of his own epoch”-and that “regardless of our conscious convictions, we are all without exception, in so far as we are particles in the mass, gnawed at and undermined by the spirit that runs through the masses.” Or as Empedocles had tried to say almost two and a half thousand years earlier, even those who go out of their way to speak the most uncomfortable truths are forced to accept that mostly they are just going to have to play along with the normal conventions like anyone else. To be sure, there were times when Jung thoroughly enjoyed performing the role of sophisticated modern scientist: when he absolutely loved spouting the usual cliches about primitiveness and naivety and cultural evolution even though he knew inside



himself, far more than any of his proud disciples, just how superficial and deceptive they happen to be. And this is because he also knew when to leave things well alone. So many signs and pointers were leading him back to the ancient, Presocratic philosophers. But the essential point is that it was never his duty or his job to follow them. There are some things that one has to be either a total fool or a helpless victim to get involved in. Jung understood the truth of this better than anybody, which is why he put off getting involved in the intricacies of alchemical tradition for as long as he possibly could. And when eventually he realized he was going to have to surrender almost a half of his adult life to unravelling the mysteries surrounding western alchemy, he saw it as his unavoidable curse and damnation. That was his task: not to make his way back even further, past the Gnostics into the collective darkness surrounding the origins of western civilization, but to make his way forward from them into the modern world. 97 And this is where my work comes in. It took the better part of half a lifetime to discover, then document, that the Presocratics weren’t the primitive rationalists they have been made out to be by hundreds and thousands of years of accumulated prejudice; to trace out every detail of the paths that led back from the Gnostic or Hermetic circles of Egypt to Empedocles, Parmenides, the Pythagoreans in Sicily as well as southern Italy; to show that western alchemical literature did derive in the most meaningful way from Presocratic tradition and that, when alchemists put what seemed to be sayings of their own into the mouths of their ancestors, they were often preserving genuine elements of Presocratic teaching which the more intellectualizing lineages of Aristotle or Plato had already stripped away; to explain how the stale rubbish we have been fed for centuries about rational Greeks versus prophetic Hebrews



and about the cold intellect of Athens versus the passion of Jerusalem was meant to cover over the fact that both Greeks and Jews had their prophetic traditions which were linked to each other even geographically, physically; and that the truest successors of figures like Parmenides or Empedocles weren’t later Greek philosophers but the greatest of Gnostic prophets. Strangely enough, in the process I found myself documenting how the symbolism of the Gnostic or Hermetic krater does reach back to the volcanic craters of Sicily and Italy. But I was also able to demonstrate that the stories of Empedocles’ death weren’t about his physical death at all. That was the crudest of misunderstandings. The legends of him throwing himself into the crater of Mount Etna were, in origin, coded accounts of his ritual descent into the world of the dead. In fact this massive volcano happened to be a major, very ancient centre of prophecy. Temples had been built out of lava on its slopes; families of prophets, referred to as “dream-prophets” because they specialized in the interpretation of people’s dreams, were living surrounded by bubbling craters of water and mud right beside the volcano’s edge. And considering Empedocles’ famous role as a prophet himself-not to mention the intimate connections between those legends of his leap into Etna and the biblical figure of Elijah in particular-it was more than a little peculiar to find Jung describing in his Red book how when he arrived at the bottom of the great crater inside the underworld he happened to be standing right beside “the house of the prophet”, the prophet Elijah. But as for the silliness about Empedocles being one of the earliest Greek philosophers plus “a sort of saviour” on the side: that wasn’t the case at all. In fact it would be hard to state the truth of the matter more incorrectly, because Empedocles



the philosopher was Empedocles the saviour. His philosophical teaching was his unnoticed work of salvation and his saving work was his philosophy.98 The personal dimension, for Empedocles just as much as for Jung, of making a jump into the underworld through a volcano was ruthlessly simple. Ritual or no ritual, it was to risk insanity if not outright death. First it meant being totally melted down into the most basic elements of what one is; recast and re-fused into one’s own primordial origin. Then it’s a matter of watching yourself being fused with the primordial, elemental origins of the entire physical world. 99 That, of course, is the point where you no longer live for yourself because inwardly you no longer are yourself as a person. And the streaming lava, for Empedocles, wasn’t just the flow of his own poetry or creativity. It was the molten lava that threw up the shape and form of an entire culture, that erupted into time so it could bring our western civilization into being-because new cultures don’t just happen by themselves. On the contrary, they are born when the right people in the right place at the right moment have the ferocious courage to leave all the dead crustings of civilization behind and leap into the volcano of themselves. It never quite made sense that Jung would only want to trace the source of his own psychology back to a bunch of solitary alchemists or some ragtag group of Gnostic heretics. But here we have what lies behind them all: the founders of a new civilization, the burning purpose at the heart of our western world.


Ever since that blind visit I unwittingly paid to Bollingen over thirty years ago, I have kept seeing the same image of a tunnel being dug through an enormous mountain. The hole was being bored by two men who started at opposite ends and were going to complete their work by meeting, halfway, in the middle. One of them was Jung; I was the other. It was only much later that, well into the process of writing this book, I began to discover how important for him the imagery of digging or boring had happened to be. From the first moment I sat down to write I had the physical, constant, almost eviscerating experience of not simply reaching down into some unconscious depths. Instead I was being forced to describe, then keep reporting, what I found as I quite literally scraped the very bottom of the unconscious. Nothing could be more deeply, impossibly inhuman; closer at every moment to insanity; nearer to physical death. But it was no surprise eventually to come across Jung’s own mention of those who manage to “touch the black bottom of human existence”-while everyone else flits around as flat and tepid phantoms ecstatic at the shallowness of their coastlines, at the tedious mediocrity of their wide and busy roads.



As for that process of cutting and scraping a hole through the mountain of stone: this is where you learn the darker meaning of eternity because it’s so infinitely slow. Of course you could say how absurdly arrogant I’m sounding, to dare set myself on a level with Jung-let alone to talk about helping to complete what he left undone . But that would only show you haven’t understood a thing. All the excruciating boring is eventually so painful that there is nothing of a person left. Then one day one wakes up to discover what it means to be faceless. There are no masks there, no personalities, because if there were you wouldn’t survive a minute. And this is the biggest problem of all with wanting to approach someone like Carl Jung-a problem that usually gets larger the closer you get. It’s so tempting to see him as a personality and then like him, hate him, love him; be amazed at his creativity or threatened by it; assiduously ignore him or turn him into the cornerstone, the foundation, of your life. That’s all an illusion and utter self-deception, though, because there is no understanding him without understanding what lies behind him. If Jung had just been a scientist, his life and work would never have become such eternal objects of fascination. If he had simply been a mystic, no one would ever have cared so much. But his science coupled with his mysticism is what’s so irresistible because it pulls us straight back past him, way beyond his personality, to the impersonal reality that lies buried at the roots of our western world and contains the secret of what our culture was meant to be. This is the reason why his published biography begins with a single statement which has probably been read a million times and, perhaps, been understood once or twice in any blue moon:



“My life is a story of the self-realization of the unconscious.” In other words, there is no Jung. His life wasn’t the story of Jung realizing himself. It was a story of the unconscious realizing itself through the passing appearance of a conscious Jung. And when you come to that point of awareness there is no one there: just a darkly mysterious substance. There is a body and a voice and hands, but only the primordial power of the unconscious emerging through a human form. Then there is nobody at all-only the carved stone inscriptions once left behind for Parmenides in his old hometown, or the inscriptions carved by Jung as he worked away on his own stone tablets at Bollingen. That’s what happens when you carve yourself into living stone through the words you write, the breaths you take, until the stone is all that’s left. 100



I have visited Parmenides’ hometown of Velia- where the inscriptions carved out of marble for him as well as other prophet-healers were found; where his logic was given to him along with all his science-just once in my life. It was the spring of 1999 and the archaeologist in charge of the area allowed me to stay at a large house she owned, within walking distance of the site where I could inspect the inscriptions and statues every day. I became friends with a local couple who invited me to dinner one evening. But a strange, inner prompting told me not to accept: simply to go to bed early instead. And almost as if it had been waiting to see ifl would accept its invitation, I was visited by an intensely vivid dream. I am a small boy but a grown man at the same time. My parents-these were my “real” parents as opposed to my physical parents-own land, beautiful fields, fields of my heart. But one day I arrive home to find that they have given the go-ahead for people to come in and cut most of the trees down; make everything respectable, domestic, lined up in neat rows. The trees have been cut down here, there, all chopped back. The wildness, the primitive power and magic, are ruined: gone. I stand there in total shock, alone. My parents aren’t home yet. It’s as if they have deliberately left, or just pretended to go



out, so they won’t be there when I come back. The horror has reverberated through the depths of my being. It’s totally gone: that magic, wonder, power, that being which had been mine, which I used to be part of. Now it’s just docked, domesticated garden land. And a man comes up to me in a slighty shabby business raincoat, beige or grey. He starts speaking to me very affably, ever so shrewdly. He says that of course I know what it’s all about because I, like he, understand the importance of legal assessment work. I know what’s what. I know why such things need to be done for insurance purposes-realistically, and so on, and so on. And I start to cry. I don’t mean cry in the sense ofweeping, but cry in the sense of gently howling. I am absolutely inconsolable. Nothing, nobody, could ever console me for what has been done; what has been lost; taken away forever by this so-justified action of my parents. I am set to leave, go, do anything, go anywhere: God knows what. The pain is through my whole being, is my whole being. My sister-even though she was older than me in physical reality, we always have been almost as close as twins-comes up to me. She tries to reason with me; says it’s really not that bad; that I’m exaggerating; mustn’t make a fuss; shouldn’t be so upset. And to her horror I start to howl out loud. I howl with primordial pain, grief, rage: the howl of the trees that don’t live any more, have been killed. It’s the howling of wild nature. But suddenly, or rather gradually, my sister hears the howl; acknowledges it, responds to it. To everyone’s civilized horror we howl together. She has heard the call of the trees, the wildness of nature, in and through me. And she has answered. We realize we could possibly be locked away as insane. But we don’t care, don’t consider. We ourselves are that wildness at last,



again-beyond reason or reasoning, argument or justification, fear or respectability and social or family ties. They were my beloved trees; my heart. And the lawyer, the assessment man in his shabby coat, had tried to say: “Well, to tell you the truth, I think it’s been done very well and looks rather good.” As a dream, it shook me to the core. Of course it was telling me some intensely personal things about myself. But even before I had fully awoken I knew that the ancient spirit of this placeParmenides’ place-was speaking through it and saying much, much more. On the most obvious level it was simply about the agonizing pain of growing up; about the loss of innocence, of oneness with nature and beauty. Soon we are doing just the same as everybody else: gritting our teeth and getting over it, moving on, learning how to look fondly at all the concrete blocks around us so we can develop an admiring eye for their wonderful storage capacities and insulation. Then, before we know what’s happened, we are no longer listening to the lawyer’s voice speaking with its constant drone of authority everywhere in the society that surrounds us. We are the lawyer ourselves, because this is what our mind has become. And wherever we look, even inside our most private self, even at spirituality or what feels most sacred, we are quietly assessing everything with the cold calculating eyes of a lawyer in his shabby raincoat: weighing each detail up, converting whatever we once hoped might bring us back to life into another shrewd trick for escaping it. Way beyond even that and behind it all, though, the wild spirit of Velia was blowing through the dream-the prophetic spirit of our ancestors, the breath of a reality far wiser and more evolved than the supposedly sensible world we stroll around in as would-be adults.



That reality, forgotte now because it was so neatly chopped down and nicely rationi ized long ago, had been and still is a world of laws: true laws, the kind of laws genuinely worthy of a human being. In fact efore leaving Velia I was shown those laws one after another, z e ,ch of them inscribed on its own block of marble, during the c rse of a dream that lasted the whole night and still continued after I woke up. · But there couldn’t rossibly be any greater distance or difference between those timeless laws and the sliding, makeshift legalities of our shabby lai½ers. And gradually I came to realize that this was the real message of the dream. In our society we tenf just to see what seems in front of us, no more, because we ha1e been trained to accept it all without question. What we don’t understand, though, or even feel any need to understand is where everything comes from. Nothing simply appears out of nowhere; and the lawyer in my dream didn’t spring out of nowhere, either. He is nothing but the inescapable consequence of killing off our sacred lawsof carefully interfering with the gifts which had been brought back from another world. And this applies tci all those things we find ourselves surrounded by, whether we think we want them or not. They are just the end product of nature being cut off and destroyed; of a primordial energy being twisted, forcibly diverted from its original course; of manipulating the sacred. We honestly tend to believe nowadays that we can choose to leave the sacred behind, forget about it and get on with living our modern lives. What we have forgotten, though, is that when the sacred is no longer honoured or valued it doesn’t go away. It doesn’t vanish into some vacuum, some void. 1 The ancient blessings don’t just disappear. Instead, the law is for them to turn straight into a curse that chases and hounds us. And perhaps I should give another example of how this works.



Different religions have all sorts ofideas and beliefs about the nature of God. But none of those dogmas or doctrines will ever do anything to change the simplest and most intimately human experience of encountering face to face-inside a doorway, a kitchen, out in the garden-the crushing reality that you realize can kill you in an instant. And, once you have glimpsed this, it will never leave you the same again. I am referring to the reality of God as omniscient and omnipresent and omnipotent: as knowing everything because of being everywhere and the power behind the whole of existence. Traditionally there have always been the people who are strong enough to endure such an experience and-most often as prophets-play the role of intermediaries between the human and the divine. But this raises a very obvious question. That’s the question of what happens when those people fade out of the picture because we no longer care as a culture for any contact with the overwhelming reality of the sacred and because, instead, we suppose we can maintain the laughable illusion of ourselves being the ones in control. The answer is that when we no longer respect or acknowledge the living qualities of divine consciousness and presence and power, they find themselves forced to adapt to our parody of a reality. And they do so by adjusting their shape and form to become the nightmare of a big-brother surveillance state which is blatantly omniscient and omnipresent and omnipotent-and will be living up to its divine attributes with even greater faithfulness and accuracy during the years to come, all because we thought we could abandon the sacred. Naturally this is no laughing matter. As they say, it’s not some ordinary walk in the park. It’s a matter of neglecting and misusing divine energy,_ the most powerful energy there is; and that never ends well.



Divine laws get twisted into human laws which end up becoming absurdly inhuman. Divine attributes are distorted into mechanisms of human control that become even more inhuman. And it’s no coincidence that the most fanatical extremes of legalism, with someone new rushing to sue someone else roughly every second, as well as the most fantastic ingenuity in pushing towards a technological ideal of total global surveillance both have their home in modern America. On the contrary: these straightforward facts spell out the secret of America in its simplest possible form. As a nation it always thought it could claim for itself the mantle, the mystique, of exceptionalism; of being totally unique and different from any other nation on earth. But the United States of America is not exceptional at all, except in one sensethat it’s the perfectly inevitable and unavoidable culmination of the course western culture has been on for thousands of years. Its dreams, its ideals, even its proudest ambitions, are not its own. America’s famous manifest destiny is nothing but the end result of the West throwing out what could have been its true destiny. And as for the steady, unconscious descent into technological hell: this is exactly what happens when a society forgets that even its science has a sacred source deep inside the underworld. It’s only logical.


It’s interesting to watch Jung’s initial impressions of the United States at the time of his very first visit. The year was 1909 and he was being welcomed as an international celebrity-encountering even more interest in his work than Freud who had come with him. But when he wrote back to his wife Emma about this “wonderland” he had found himself plunged into, he made a comment of such oracular simplicity that hardly anyone seems to have paid much attention to it: “As far as technological culture is concerned, we lag miles behind America. But all that is frightfully costly and already carries the germ of the end in itself.” 2 The prophetic tone of this comment is, just as much as the surgical precision of the warning, unmistakable. It’s a world apart, though, from the extravagant prophecies about America’s uniquely privileged future that were circulating during, as well as before and after, his lifetime. American occultists pulled back any veil covering the true nature of their country’s celebrated exceptionalism when, sometimes with the blessing of presidential approval, they revealed how the United States was at last destined to fulfil the ambitious Platonic and Aristotelian dream of seeing an empire ruled by advanced philosopher-kings. Even the ancient Egyptian priests, people were asked to believe, had already been longing to create this philosophical



empire in America. The famous golden fleece, searched for by ancient Greek heroes somewhere in the ocean to the west, was really the American Declaration oflndependence. And here was the perfect soil for producing the next stage in human evolution: “here was a virgin continent populated only by nomadic Indian tribes, a vast territory suitable in every way for the great human experiment” which simply involves following the “Universal plan” for humanity “until the Platonic empire is established on the earth, and the towers of the new Atlantis rise from the ruins of a materialistic and selfish world.” 3 Most foreign spiritual teachers who came visiting from Asia were understandably stunned by the grandness and beauty, the rawness and undeveloped potency of the land. America was a wonderfully inviting place to create new centres for their work, and it was easy to become almost intoxicated by the country’s apparently endless possibilities. 4 But Jung, to his credit, managed to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground and never forget the realities of human psychology. On a return visit in 1912 he gave an interview to the New York Times which was published under the title: “America facing its most tragic moment”. In it he warns, as directly and urgently as possible, about the tremendous danger threatening Americans-not from outside themselves but from the darkly unconscious forces inside them that they are unwilling or just unable to face. He doesn’t only point to the qualities of murderous savagery and cruelty that allowed them to conquer a whole continent with such sophisticated efficiency. Above all he points to the expansive ruthlessness of their reasoning; to the extreme brutality of their coldly abstract logic. He explains as a physician that, although he would be glad to help in the painful process of becoming conscious, there’s very little he can do without the full cooperation of the patient.



And this is where the real problem lies. “America does not see that it is in any danger. It does not understand that it is facing its most tragic moment: a moment in which it must make a choice to master its machines or to be devoured by them-and since it does not know this I would not want to hurt it.”5 Perhaps, because Jung is trying so hard to be tactful as well as truthful, I should emphasize the obvious here. What he found himself warning about was the immediately looming danger of Americans being taken over and destroyed by their machines, their technology, their gadgets-over a hundred years ago. But even more important is his ominous addition: because the consciousness of Americans “does not know this I would not want to hurt it”. Everything, here, has to be read with the greatest scrutiny and care. Jung is very plainly calling attention to a present danger while hinting, just as plainly, that the American psyche not only doesn’t know. It doesn’t want to know. It doesn’t want to wake up; doesn’t actually want, in spite of the eager words about transformation, to be transformed. And there is not the slightest good reason why it should. Jung never had any real passion for urging Americans to set off on some grand heroic search so they could discover their higher selves and wake up to their spiritual destiny-which of course is what most Americans who aren’t ruthlessly pursuing material success are already doing in their brutal quest for selfimprovement and self-discovery. Instead, they have to discover what they least want to face or confront: the ruthlessness of their mechanical thinking and rationality. Of course it’s much easier to export that brutality, or hide it behind a hundred shades of lipstick. But to come face to face with it, directly, is something almost no one is willing to do . . Far more attractive is to go on believing what Jung himself refused to believe; to hope optimistically, confidently, desperately



that if enough people can come together and wake up then all of us will enter a new age. And the entire world will be transformed. It’s so much simpler not to notice how every collective movement towards raising the awareness of humanity gobbles up what tiny remnant of consciousness people still have only to throw them even deeper into unconsciousness-or how overwhelmingly tempting it can be, in the intensity of one’s enthusiasm, to snatch at the fragments of wisdom intended to offer access to a reality beyond the ego and use them to strengthen the ego instead. 6 None of this offers any form of a solution. There is no graceful or painless exit into some glamorous new age, even newer than all the other new things Americans already are used to, out of the tragic situation in which America finds itself. And it should be no surprise at all that, when towards the end of his life Jung listed the things he was most afraid of, he chose to mention the ones he did. He was not just afraid of unconsciousness in general. He wasn’t only afraid of modern science. In spite of his very genuine fondness for Americans with their remarkable openness and intuitiveness, for American cars, for American slang, he was afraid above all of America. Communism, for him, wasn’t anywhere close to being such a threat. Even in a flattening, repressive regime at least a real individuality can survive somewhere underneath the surface. But in a society where every American is mass-educated to turn into an individual, when each single girl and boy is collectively injected with the skills of self-empowerment, then-in spite of all the song and dance, all the countless choices and therapies, all the magnificent illusions-deep down inside there is going to be a deadly emptiness.7 And then there is the danger of one day having to confront, behind its mask of individualism, the real face of collective



America: an America that crushes human beings underfoot like specks of dirt unless they agree, each single one of them, to pledge themselves to the machine. It was a little over ten years after his 1912 interview with the New York Times that, again, Jung found himself speaking in America about America. This time it was in private, to a special group of people he felt he could trust. And he was talking about the ruthlessness of the American psyche-as well as about Americans’ disrespect, their total disregard, for the “ancestors”. To him the two went hand in hand. On one hand ruthlessness is the inhumanly mechanical, unconscious attitude that stands in the way of any real access to the ancestors. On the other, once we are cut off from our ancestors we are also brutally cut off from ourselves. There was nothing he considered more important. The ancestors, the dead, are the only true source of life in our world of the living. But this fragile world of ours is linked by such an infinitely slender thread with the reality beyond our reality that to block off the realm of ancestors by refusing to value or acknowledge or respect it, as the modern psyche with its ruthless rationality tries to do, is the perfect recipe for disaster. Of course to most people writing nowadays about Jung, in fact even most Jungians, this is little more than words. And that helps to explain why no one has noted how deeply he was influenced, in the things he said about ruthlessness as well as the ancestors on this particular occasion, by Mountain Lakethe elder he had just met in the New Mexico desert during his first conversation ever with Native Americans. 8 To be sure, on one level Mountain Lake was only confirming and reinforcing the conclusions Carl Jung had already arrived at by himsel£ At the same time Jung was doing quite a bit more,



at this small New York gathering, than talking theoretically about Americans or the unsolved problem of the ancestors still present in their land: much more. To anyone attending the meeting it might have sounded as if he was leading a rather interesting discussion on some somewhat delicate subjects. But the fact is that Jung himself, along with one friend in the audience who just so happened to be the woman responsible for introducing him to Mountain Lake a few days earlier, had an entirely different experience of what was taking place. To him, far from being a simple seminar or lecture, what happened was something quite extraordinary. It was as if he had literally been caught up in performing “a ceremonial for the Dead”. And even more striking is his awareness that, in spite of such a carefully controlled environment with its hand-picked participants, the after-effects of this ceremony were on the edge of becoming explosive and evoking what would have been dangerously negative reactions. Obviously one could skate around on the surface just like anybody else; but there were unforeseeable risks involved, even among friends, in engaging on a serious level with the American psyche.9 In public, needless to say, it was an altogether different matter. Jung always had at least one eye closely watching the workings of the unconscious, inside himself but also in others, and went out of his way to pay attention to its particular wishes or needs. He was respectfully aware of how distant as well as tenuous the connection tends to be between the egos of Americans and their unconscious shadows, and felt more than a little wary of treading “on the tiger’s tail that is the American unconscious”. To him it was a part of his duty as a physician only to say what was strictly appropriate or needed on any occasion; and, as a human



being, there might be times when he preferred being just a little economical with the truth. 10 In what’s perhaps the most entertaining as well as famous presentation of American psychology that he ever offered an American audience, Jung brought his colourful repertoire of comments and anecdotes to a close by homing in on what he described as the collective attitude of America. And he defined this central characteristic, very simply, as the “heroic ideal”-the delightfully refreshing can-do mentality already drummed into Americans as children that pushes them on until they drop and tells them everybody has the makings of a hero, the sky is the limit, there is nothing I can’t achieve once I set my mind on it.11 This all sounds absolutely wonderful, provided nobody ever pauses to wonder what such a “heroic ideal” might mean in terms of Jung’s psychology as a whole. But the moment one does ask that question, things rather rapidly fall into place. For Jung, when a whole country identifies collectively with the kind of heroic ideal that sets no limit on what its people are able to achieve-that not only allows but encourages them “heroically to impose their will, have their own way” and cry out loudly “Where there is a will there is a way!”-everything might look fine for a while on the outside. But inwardly such a country is already in the grip of the same psychological disease, referred to by Jung as the sickness of god-almightiness, that dragged Germany into the First World War before plunging it straight into the ultimate chaos of Fascism and the Nazis. 12 This is only on the collective level, though. And of course for Jung everything always has to come back to the individual, which explains why he put so much intensity into describing the sphinx’s riddle he encountered on his own path into the depths of himself.



It was a riddle so essential for him as a human to solve, so crucial, that he realized there could be no dodging or escaping it. He was faced with the simplest possible choice. Either he would have to find the answer, whatever it cost him, or he would have to kill himself. And he came to understand that the unbearable question confronting him was the riddle of why he had to kill his own heroic ideal-why in spite of his overwhelming grief and remorse he was being forced to destroy all those personal qualities he had learned to value most, everything he considered noble and was most attached to, his dominant sense of efficiency and power and force but above all the power of his own intellect. There was no way around it. There is no short cut. All these conscious or unconscious attitudes have to be destroyed and left behind on the path out of unconsciousness into a real consciousness, because even what we proudly think of as our consciousness is only an obstacle. Ideals are the ultimate temptation; and to think I can do what I want is the greatest delusion. “My heroic idealism had to be abandoned, for there are higher things than the ego’s will, and to these one must bow.” 13 Here we end up at the heart of Jung’s hard-earned understanding about what really is involved in coming face to face with the truth of oneself as a human. And to anyone reading what he says about having to abandon one’s heroic idealism at all costs, it would be easy enough to suppose this is no more than Jung at his finest-as well as his most eccentric. This is simply Jung, the questionable psychologist, veering off into the mystical by discussing his own private experience in the vainest of hopes it might have some greater application. Then one would have to think a little deeper. What Jung is trying to convey here might sound strange, rather extreme, certainly quite optional in our modern world-



especially in the world of modern spirituality with its countless choices and heroic possibilities. But that only goes to show, once again, how far we have drifted away from any trace of collective sanity in the West. Jung in his struggles, his apparently solitary realizations, is not at all alone; far from it. We still have fragments of ancient texts recording the voices of Babylonian wisdom which, thousands of years ago, were saying much the same thing that ancient Greek prophetic tradition would still be saying centuries later.

Ij’somebody says ‘1 am a hero” That person will end up humiliated. If’ someone claims ‘1 can do it!” Then that person will end up a nobody. 14 There is nothing exceptional about this in the least: nothing mysterious or unusual, certainly nothing to feel surprised or troubled or defensive about. On the contrary, this is the most basic reality of human psychology. There are no exceptions at all because the laws-not the ones made by humans but the laws that make humans-are quite clear. There never are. And this is simply the voice of wisdom calling out from the dawn, the roots, the source, of our western civilization to that civilization’s ultimate manifestation.


The wonder is how everything, absolutely everything, anyone can name that makes our so-called civilization unique has a sacred source-a sacred purpose. The awareness of that sacred purpose, just the simplest act of awareness, is what shapes our culture’s sacred geography: is what creates its sacred landscape. And as we lose any sense of that inner landscape inside ourselves we lose, automatically, a sense of the sacredness all around us. When we watch the trees inside us being chopped back and down, let the sacred source of our western world be cut off for any number of extremely sensible reasons, here is where we end up. There is a hidden reality we all share-in which every slightest thing has its proper place, its beauty, function, integrity. It’s the landscape of our own true nature that contains the most detailed instructions and guidance for just what’s needed. And the loss of that sacred landscape, which once had been our culture’s life force, is the initial ecological disaster from which every other environmental catastrophe outside us follows inevitably: as a matter of course. Now there are all sorts of opportunities for positioning oneself as pro-progress or anti-progress, pro-technology or antiscience. But these imaginary choices are total nonsense. It’s utter



futility to be for technology or against it without glimpsing, knowing, understanding what western science was from the very beginning-a gift offered by the gods with a sacred purpose. Once science has forgotten that purpose, everything is already lost. And this isn’t a modern problem at all. Plato as well as Aristotle were already blazing a trail in genetically modifying the seeds of our western culture, stripping them of their natural power, thousands of years ago: squeezing themselves into the picture and taking credit where none was due. That sacred potency refuses to go away, though. It never disappears. If only it had, things might not have turned out quite so bad-because it stays but changes shape, becomes the power that haunts us by feeding on the chaos, slowly but ever so steadily destroys our world along with us. There is no expert or specialist left who holds the key to western science, or to logic, or to the human mind; let alone to our humble senses. And it’s so difficult now to say a word about this, because even the sense of how to listen has been lost. To be sure, we may think we are willing to listen. But as for the genuine willingness to change, rather than just going through the inescapable motions of change, there is far too much already at stake. We have all gone a long way down this road-have forgotten what it means to want something truly essential for ourselves. It’s so much simpler to go on listening to the lawyers outside and inside us, believing in the reasonableness of existence, compromising here and then there and then back here. And rather than starting to take real responsibility for ourselves, it’s far easier picking up the crumbs from under the tables of other cultures: doing a touch of shamanism or Hinduism, a little Zen meditation, a tasty bit of Tibetan Buddhism or an exciting mixture of them all, going away on some vacation before



coming back again to the brutality of our western society with its normality and triviality as well as the hollow emptiness of its surveillance. Honestly to want to face, then keep facing, the darkness of our western culture-where we are, are heading, have come from-one would have to be mad. The funny thing is that here I am, waving my hands; making a fuss about the origins and dawn of our western culture, sharing this guarded secret hidden by the West from the West that the West has a sacred source. It can all sound so extraordinary, so strange. But what I am saying is the last thing anybody could actually call extraordinary-because nowhere on this planet are you going to find one single traditional culture that doesn’t remember, down to the finest detail, having its sacred purpose and source. Without even realizing it, we are completely on our own. It was we ourselves who manufactured this peculiar myth called progress, where things are meant to get better. Of course there is no reason at all for bothering about origins when we are supposed to be managing so much more effectively, more efficiently, every day. From the first moment a baby becomes able to gurgle, this is what’s trumpeted in its ears; and the trouble is that, with our imaginary sense of superiority inside our adult bodies, we never grew beyond the stage of being those little babies. Leaving aside the influence of western civilization, nothing could be more intuitive-the most natural thing in the worldthan for any culture or tribe that still survives to remember and celebrate its sacred origin. One only has to think of the beautiful saying by Rumi, most famous of Persian Sufis: Look into the source ofevery skill or invention and There you’ 11find that its root and origin was revelation. Humans learned them all, each single one, from the prophets.



It sounds so nice, so pretty. Not quite so nice, though, is the realization that this applies not only to everyone else: not just to people living in some foreign, exotic country.

It also applies to us westerners because, as inheritors from the ancient Greeks, we too have our own prophets-who were closely connected in their time to the prophets of Israel and the Middle East. 15 But to let that fact sink in would really never do, because then we would have to start taking complete responsibility for the secret at the root of our own culture rather than picking away whenever we feel like it at other cultures’ fruits. This is why there can be such an excruciating suffering simply in the act of discovering that western civilization, just like any other, came into being out of prophecy; from revelation. It’s why there is such a crushing weight of aloneness in holding such a secret, because the price of taking it seriously has become so great. Mostly, the best one can do is watch as the prophecies that gave life to other cultures are puffed up into pretty stories while the prophets who gave their lives for ours go on being taunted and ignored. Historians love nothing more than to jeer at those ancient western prophets, laugh at the extravagant fools they made of themselves, poke fun at Parmenides and Empedocles for their grandiose revelations-for “condescending to lighten the darkness in which, as they thought, the rest of mankind was stumbling”. The fact that these prophetic figures had the apparent arrogance to question our own unquestionable arrogance, that they dared to challenge the integrity of our collective wisdom by claiming we are all asleep and even our fantasies of waking up are just another form of sleep, offers every possible justification for dismissing them as absurdly irrelevant or downright mad while tucking their teachings away inside some drawer. 16



And so we manage to forget that traditionally prophets didn’t only come with their pressing messages, their edifying recommendations-which of course everyone is at liberty either to accept or rather reject. They also came to cry. Beyond their attempts to communicate in ways our intelligent minds can at least pretend to make some sense of, they also came to convey the rawest pain of humans’ separateness from the sacred. And they cried at people’s blank refusal in spite of their solemn pretence, all their vacant piety, to understand-because, ironically, the anguish in the cry is justified by the response the cry evokes. But, curiously, Carl Jung didn’t forget. On the contrary: he knew that cry only too well. It was what kept pushing him on against the odds, regardless of all the opposition and misunderstanding. He was familiar with it through the teachings of the notorious Gnostic prophet and saviour, Mani, whose final shriek or cry will announce the ending of the whole world. Above all, though, he knew it as the famous “cry of Merlin”. This is the cry not just of Merlin the magician but of Merlin the great prophet who, Jung came to realize, contains inside himself the essential secret and central significance of the Grail; who ends up, in spite of all his magic, being inwardly forced to give up on people because their stupidity causes him so much suffering they make him mad; the same Merlin who finally withdraws from the world into the silence of the forest and, a bird himself, can only be heard through his cry which is no different from the crying of the birds. And during his last years Jung had the shock of his life when he suddenly realized that, through withdrawing more and more into his tower by the lake at Bollingen, he had been living the legend of Merlin down even to the smallest details.



He was Merlin. The whole of his work, everything he ever published, was that ancient prophetic cry. And, exactly like Merlin, he was doomed never to be understood by humans.17 After all, if humans don’t know how to decipher the crying of the birds it’s not very likely they will be able to understand the cries of Carl Jung.


There is something about the dream I had at Velia that took me a long time to start to understand. It had to do with the howl that came out of me, louder and then louder, before spreading to my sister. I am not saying I didn’t intuit immediately in the rawness of my own direct experience what this is-because even while I was still asleep I did. It’s the shrieking of animals, the wailing and crying of birds, shockingly articulated through a human. It’s the sound of the sacred shouting to itself; the voice of life welling up inside us that denies the rightness of everything wrong outside us. It’s the only response strong enough, primordial enough, to take a stand when even our most meditative versions of tranquillity have become nothing but the subtlest forms of complicity. It’s the roaring stream of endless emotion flowing below all our reasonableness and respectableness-way underneath our tidy and nicely domesticated spiritual paths-that we have no end of trouble reconciling ourselves with, that we don’t even have the agility to let ourselves hear. It’s the unbearable awareness that none of our clever strategies is ever going to work because they only make things worse, carefully layering more levels of illusion on top of every other illusion. It’s the call bursting out from one’s depths that has no selfconscious purpose; no stated or unstated motive; no wise wish or



hope to change, improve, bring about some better understanding. And it’s not just the pain at the loss of our inner nature, or the grief at remembering what we’ve lost. It’s also what makes that nature alive again. It’s what Jung so perfectly described as nature’s outrage against all the ruthless artificialities and sophisticated rationalities trying to crush her. And in terms of our own western culture nothing could possibly be less reasonable. Nothing could be less justifiable or acceptable, less appropriate or tolerable. On the contrary, to howl is utter madness because it’s the one and only thing that cuts straight through our shabby little fittingnesses until there is nothing left that fits. But what took me so long to realize was that-although it can feel the loneliest thing on earth to do-in being shown how to howl on that cold night at Velia I couldn’t have been further from alone. Instead, I had just been introduced to the reality of the prophets. We do a fine job, the most splendid one imaginable, of forgetting. It wasn’t at all easy to erase the awkward truth that Hebrew prophets were constantly howling and, what’s even worse, had come to instruct others in how to howl. Greek prophets, too, like Empedocles: they howled, they wailed. The cities of Mesopotamia which kept such close ties to Hebrew traditions and the Hebrew language had their own name for one particular kind of prophet. It meant “wailer” or “howler”. And when ancient Greeks came into contact, as they most definitely did, with shamans bringing their wisdom and power from Central Asia they used just a single word to describe them. They called them goes, which means the “howler”. Shamans and healers and prophets, Hebrew prophets, Greek prophets, Babylonian prophets: they all used to be howlers. Often “howler” was the only title or name they were known by. And they happen to have far more in common than meets the eye.



Whatever the occasion, regardless of the reason why they seemed to be howling, they were howling for the sake of the dead. They howled over the death of individuals, of a people; of a culture, of humanity. They would howl for all those who imagine they are still alive-but are already dead too. 18 Prophets are never just talking to someone over there, or me, or you. They are prophets because they howl to the whole world. Even if the words they’re made to speak are for one audience only, their howling has no limits. It’s heard by people; it’s heard by nature. It wakes the living. It stirs the dead. This is all a little bit too big for most of us, though. So we cut out the howl and ignore it; turn prophets into preachers and reformers and the kind of petty moralizers we can so easily relate to; reshape them in our image, bend their figure to our will, reinvent them as nothing but reflections of our own egoic ambitions. And of course we love to suppose that the one and only thing they are concerned about is reaching us-although we’ll make sure to move heaven and earth to prevent them coming anywhere near us. It can sound grating but ever so amusing when our politicians and forecasters and gurus set themselves up as prophets, pose as prophets, do business as prophets; and we wrongly assume this is what prophets always used to do. We can’t even grasp the simple fact that whatever egos those people once had were ground into the earth. Real prophets are never proud of being prophets because they are too busy being bent over sideways by the weight of our unconsciousness together with the overwhelming vision of our past, where we are headed, what we’ve become. Most of them, and not just Jonah, would beg to be freed from the need to say or do anything. They fight their role as much as they can. They would run from it if they could. 19



It may seem strange, very strange, that to return to the beginnings of western philosophy could bring us not to the beauties and clarities of abstract thinking. It brings us to this: to the sheer horror of what we have forgotten and collectively agree to go on forgetting for the common good. And underneath all the new-age platitudes being politely piled nowadays a mile high above the centuries of Christian platitudes, the pulsing heart of religion is what it always has been-the howl. Don’t think you will ever arrive at any real stillness except through the howl; and don’t imagine there is any hearing the howling of the cosmos without sinking into the deepest possible stillness. The prophets howl to knock down the cardboard of our reasoning, howl at the damage we can’t help inflicting on ourselves and the world around us, howl to give a voice to the sadnesses and depressions of a whole culture that everyone else has been left either to suffer or exploit in silence. They howl at the eternal inconsolableness buried under all the brutal consolations offered by religion, philosophy, spirituality. They howl at the pointlessness of waking people up just so they can watch them fall straight asleep again, howl at the utter futility of even hoping to make anyone understand. And they howl, not because nobody understands but because no one can tolerate their howl. After all: there is not the slightest reason why anyone in her or his right mind would want to hear it, let alone listen to what lies behind it, because the sound of that cry turns one’s whole life upside down. 20 This explains why, over the centuries, it came to be agreed that the most sensible thing possible is not just to silence the howl. A much more effective solution, not to mention far more economical, is simply to get rid of prophecy instead.



And so the history of the West, along with the Middle East, turned into a tedious story of drowning prophecy in mockery and streams of meaningless words. It was systematically silenced in Greece; neatly finished off in Judaism, too; banished as much as possible from Christianity; and removed, most elegantly of all, from Islam thanks to the dogma of Muhammad as the final prophet. 21 There is always the little trick, though, that those who think they have everything under control try to pretend they can forget. We may be ruthless enough to destroy ourselves, but we just don’t have the ability to cut off the root of prophecy. And the moment people finally fancy they got rid of it, that’s when they are likely to discover it hadn’t disappeared at all. It was simply driven underground. In other words it went where it belonged, went where reason so desperately wants and needs it to stay: hopefully safe and sealed off in the mental asylum. This is how the lineage of ancient prophets ended up passing, as it were, through Allen Ginsberg in the 1950s. He started working at his poem called “Howl” during 1954. Its very first line announces that it will be all about madness-and eventually leads through to the final chorus “I’m with you in Rockland”, roaring with Ginsberg’s undying sympathy and empathy for the mental patients at the notorious Rockland State Hospital near New York. So we have a specific year: 1954. We have a particular place: Rockland State Hospital. And very soon we’ll see how uncanny these stories of madness can really be with their sweet irony; with their strange exactness of detail that somehow no amount of reasoning can ever match. Ginsberg, himself, was no stranger to mental hospitals. He would later describe how the howling enshrined in his title was



inspired by the poetic, ecstatic cries he heard inside an asylum. But, for him, that’s not where the real madness lies. Seen through his eyes the entire world has gone mad. The whole of western culture is insane, which is exactly why it needs to lock up the only ones who are sane: who have managed to glimpse what we really are, where we have come from, where we are going. And to him that madness was, above all, the mechanical insanity of America. It was the sanctified monstrosity of robotic efficiency methodically exuded from Reason-the same machinelike reasoning that makes even the gentlest, most sensitive people crazy. But of course it’s never easy for anyone, whether Ginsberg or Jung, to say such things; and it’s no big surprise that he faced quite some challenges in saying them. 22 Through his own lengthy process of trial and error Ginsberg would eventually find there was only one way for him to portray this collective insanity, convey it in a medium that would keep its terrifying actuality alive. That wasn’t through ordinary poems but through poetry envisioned, very consciously, as a work of magic: as a deliberate act of healing, a science of incantation and repetition based on the pattern and rhythm of breathing. In other words he spontaneously, naturally, found his way back to the poetry of the old Greek prophet-healers who once helped to give birth to our western world. 23 But that’s not to say he didn’t have his own very particular sources of inspiration. Night and day he immersed himself in the world of the Old Testament prophets. As well as hearing the howling with his own ears inside the madhouse, he saw it preserved in writing across the centuries by Hebrew prophets. He found the beat and metre he used, his incantatory and hypnotic style, already present in the rhythmic language of Hebrew prophecy.



Even inside a federal court of law he was presented, and defended, as a Hebrew prophet. He cried and howled over the fate of everyone around him like the Hebrew prophets. He, too, had overpowering visions that forced him to talk about the past and present realities people in their “drear consciousness” are chronically incapable of seeing-not to mention about America’s demise. Just like the Hebrew prophets he understood that there is no escaping into God to get away from all the destruction here, because God is the destruction. And like them he appreciated that having to play the role of a prophet isn’t some egoic satisfaction or glorious honour. On the contrary, it’s a “terrible fucking situation to be confronted with”.24 But even prophecy has its tender compensations. And in the outer world Allen Ginsberg became aware of one reality that, through its infinite delicateness, brings with it “the prophetic image beyond our present strength of flesh to bear”. This is the reality of birds-above all when they fly down. That’s when they have the power to transfigure time, almost destroy it, as suddenly they embody the simple presence of the prophetic word. Whether we notice them or not, they are always here; now. They are never gone for long while we are alive. And they will be there at our graves to swoop and cry and mourn for us-shrieking and calling and remembering God’s name, the God we kept forgetting to care about, when we are gone. 25


One of the finest prophetic howls dates back a long time: close to three thousand years. The Hebrew prophet Micah perfectly manages to sum up the prophet’s role by bringing everything back to its barest basics. I will wail and howl. I will go stripped and naked. I will howl like a jackal and wail like an owl.

And there is something here in the comparison with owls and jackals that-thanks to the miracle of erudition-every biblical scholar and translator and commentator manages to slide over because it’s so downright simple, so totally i~reducible to anything else. 26 In wailing like an owl and howling like a jackal, the prophet is crying with the voice of nature. Or to say it another way: a prophet is the purest, rawest nature talking and calling as a human. That’s likely to sound, to us sophisticated westerners, the ultimate in absurdity. We mostly tend to think of prophets as pitiful, almost ridiculous figures-utterly unnatural, otherworldly, twisted, crabbed. But this is just the result of all our unnatural,



otherworldly, crabby, twisted conditioning reversing the truth completely and blinding us to what each of us needs to see. From beginning to end, prophecy is simply about what’s natural. As a matter of fact nothing in our human experience could be more natural because the reality of prophecy is all about the nature, inner and outer, we left behind. And the one thing we somehow manage to miss is that, above everything else, it’s about life. As a culture we are collectively quite happy pretending to show a bit of respect for prophecy while continuing to mock it and prostitute it, attack it, commodify it. But that’s exactly what we do to nature. And we do it because we forgot, long ago, that prophets are the guardians of creation. They are the preservers and protectors of life. This is why it’s always prophets who, in sacred traditions, know the language of the birds. And they don’t just understand it. They know, the same as shamans, how to speak it-how to talk and call and cry along with the birds. Inside their prophetic bones they carry the memory of older days when birds and animals and humans all spoke the same language; when humans could turn into birds and birds would change into humans. But they don’t only remember those days. They bring them back to life again. These were the most ancient forms of prophecy in the West: watching the swooping of birds, constantly listening to their sounds, paying attention to the meaning of the breeze stirring the leaves in the trees. Everything works perfectly together. Hearing what the birds say leads, automatically, into deciphering the message of the breeze. And it’s the same story in Jewish tradition, as well as Islam. When the prophet Solomon became king he was able “to



rely on the birds and the winds to rule wisely”-because as soon as he learned the language spoken by the birds they explained to him, straight away, the language of the winds. This is what it is not just to live in nature, or work with it, or enjoy it, or do one’s noble and sentimental best as a human to protect it. This is what it is to be a part of nature; to see and hear with nature’s own ears and eyes; to speak out with nature’s crackling, cackling voice. 27 But-and there aren’t many bigger buts-most of these legends about birds communicating with humans are placed in another time, another age, for a reason. We have come a long, tortuous way from any naturalness since then. And whoever feels moved nowadays to cry out how marvellous this mythical material all sounds, how romantic, no longer has any idea of what’s actually involved because to hear a bird speaking and also understand it isn’t going to be nice or lovely at all. Instead, it’s likely to be one of the most terrifying shocks in a person’s life. To get a genuine feel for where we are now, some true sense of what’s happened, we have to get back down on solid ground and turn around to face the past. And it will be enough just to start by looking back to Porphyry-the chatty Platonist who fondly enjoyed writing obituaries for oracles and was so pleased with his reasoning he didn’t even notice, except perhaps in a moment of depression, how his own talkativeness was contributing to the end of anything real. There is one rather interesting place where he finds himself speaking quite openly about ancient myths, even recent stories, of people being allowed to understand the language of the birds. But then-in a sudden bout of self-consciousness-he remembers what it means to be a civilized, intelligent human



being. “Let’s leave those things aside and be done with them”, he writes, “because of our natural, inborn inclination to disbelieve.” And this was closing in on eighteen hundred years ago. Even back then, nothing could be more “natural” than to disbelieve in what’s most natural. Already then the innate naturalness of understanding nature’s language was something to dismiss as embarrassingly unnatural because the unnaturalness of disbelieving in our naturalness had become our second nature. Of course, in saying this, Porphyry was dutifully doing his job as a faithful Platonist. After all, it was Plato himself who hundreds of years earlier had brought up the old myth of a golden age-when humans could talk the same language as any animal-just so he could ask a clever question. Was humanity better off then, or are we better off in our modern society now? And his ironic, abrasive answer could well prove one of the dumbest statements ever made in history. The whole question boils down, he says, to whether the people of that age used their familiarity with the language of animals to engage them at length in rational discussions about philosophy. If they did, he explains, they were better off; if not, not. But until someone comes along with a reliable account of exactly what discussions humans used to have with the animals and birds back then, “let’s leave those things aside and be done with them.” It might seem incredible that intelligent people over the centuries have taken this pretentious silliness seriously. But really it’s quite understandable-because we have nothing else left. Living on the surface of ourselves, all we have is these clevernesses to give us some sense of self-value or worth; and very few of us will feel comfortable hearing a prophetic voice like William Blake’s express anything near the full depth of fury at Plato’s “pompous ignorance” that the philosopher, for all his apparent wisdom, so amply deserves. 28



To put those things aside and be done with them: that’s exactly what we did. And what happened over the past two thousand years-the silencing of nature, the mutilating of a whole culture-has been far more thorough than we can guess. This is why even many of the greatest modern sages, experts on spirituality, authorities in the esoteric, manage to stamp out the power of nature precisely when they seem to be doing the opposite. We only have to look at the best known of the socalled Traditionalists, Rene Guenon, and the way he opens his famous treatise about “The Language of the Birds”: “The expression is clearly a symbolic one, since the very importance that is attached to the knowledge of the language-it is considered to be the prerogative of a high initiation-precludes a literal interpretation.” In other words, heaven forbid that such a mysterious language involving such a high initiation would have anything to do with dirty physical birds. Far from it: the “birds” here don’t refer to birds at all. Instead they “symbolize the angels, who precisely stand for the higher states of being.” As for all those fluffy creatures we can notice flitting outside our window and even, if we are able to stop our constant thinking long enough, hear when we step out for a breath of fresh air-we would be wise to leave those things aside and be done with them while, in the top-heavy fantasies of our intellect, imagining we can communicate straight with the world of angels. 29 That’s not the way it ever worked, though, or ever will. Learning the language of the birds is done just as the prophets do: out in the open, crying and calling with longing from the depths of one’s belly, crawling with clawed feet along the earth while eyeing every single detail, because it’s the birds chanting and howling around us that have the power to snatch us out of our reasoning minds into eternity.



Finding people who are able to explain this isn’t easy. In fact everything else about our lifeless world seems to deserve explaining-aside from this. But it’s possible. And I will just quote a few sentences from my friend Stephane Ruspoli, who was also a close friend of Henry Corbin until the day Corbin died, where he describes the personal experiences recorded by the great Persian Sufi N ajm al-Din Kubra. “Kubra begins with these striking words of praise: ‘Glory be to God who has taught us the language of the birds.’ And his masterpiece of mystical theology goes on to offer the most extraordinary details about asceticism, about withdrawing into retreat from the world-as well as about the practice of dhikr, or prayer of the heart, which Kubra connects directly with the crying and moaning of birds. ”And here is one particularly impressive passage about the ‘spontaneous cry’ that bursts from the heart of lovers when they become one with God through invoking his supreme name: ‘”The wailing and moaning oflovers keeps growing stronger with every single mouthful as they drink to the full from the cup of sadness and quench their thirst-eventually getting used to it and finding the greatest pleasure in its taste. Then the cry they utter, quite involuntarily, becomes a natural expression of coming closer and closer to God: the Beloved. “‘Just as all the sounds emerging out of a bird’s throat stem from a groaning deep down inside its entrails, in exactly the same way pilgrims too reach a particular state of mystical emotion where bird cries start escaping from them. This is the result of so much inner pressure being released. It’s the result of their familiarity with God. It’s a result of the joy that this familiarity brings them’.” Then Kubra goes on to explain how all this started becoming real for him.



“I heard these cries when I encountered a dervish, emptied of everything except for God, along the road. What he was doing met with my strong disapproval. I questioned him about it and he answered: ‘It’s all for the good if God so wishes, and nothing but a blessing.’ He didn’t go into any more details because in his clairvoyance he saw that I hadn’t yet attained the appropriate station. “But later-when the time came for me, too, to reach this station and experience for myself the extreme power of bird cries-I at last understood that the crying of a dervish is, indeed, really a cry. “And I chewed and bit my fingertips in remorse. And I praised the glory of God just like someone who has been overcome by amazement; who is dumbfounded, stunned.” Here, right from the start, Kubra does nothing to make matters smooth or tidy or easy. On the contrary, even with his opening praise of God “who has taught us the language of the birds” he is simply speaking the truth in the deepest possible sense straight as he experiences it-flouting the conventions of Islam, breaking one of its greatest taboos in presenting himself as a prophet. But what he says has nothing to do with prim or proper fantasies about prophets and angels. It’s not some sweet, otherworldly experience because it’s quite literally something that grabs you by the entrails. And it should be no surprise at all to read what Kubra goes on to add-right after describing that state of wildly crying like a bird which he, as well as the dervish he’d met, both found themselves overpowered by. “Those are the times when everyone, except for the rare individual who knows and understands, will assume you have gone mad.” 30


You may well suppose that-with so much talk about madness and prophets, language of winds and language of birds-I have completely lost my bearings. That would be reasonable enough; but the fact is that I am intimately familiar with every inch of this route. I know exactly where these access corridors lead because they are the back entrance to something you will never be able to make any sense of by approaching, the way people so often want to do, from the front. If you were to look honestly at the hypocrisy behind the pious enshrining of prophetic books in the Jewish and Christian bibles, you would have to laugh. Embalmed, preferably unread, in sacred text they are safe enough. But if you were to encounter the reality of the prophets: God help you. Hebrew prophets, just like Greek prophets, already knew from the very start all the absurdities and impossibilities they were meant to contend with. And the truth is that it wasn’t enough for one religion or culture after another to silence prophecy by attempting to cut it off at the source. That was fair enough, as far as it went-one more technique for trying to insulate ourselves from those who warn and howl and cry.



But the single defence against prophecy which, over the centuries, proved far more effective than any other has been the accusation of madness. It can be quite surprising to realize that, already in their own time, the sanctified Hebrew prophets were being mocked and dismissed as insane. They certainly weren’t alone, though. Greeks and Romans, too, almost made a business of dismissing their own prophets as mad. And this intimate habit of closely associating the prophet-whose job it was to bring a little sanity and balance back into the world-with insanity still clings tight to the roots of western culture. 31 Along with the evolution of psychology as a fledgling discipline in the nineteenth century came the urgent need, interestingly, not to change any of these assumptions or associations but just to create an updated language for them instead. Learned experiments got underway and soon experts were playing with impressive-sounding terms, like hysterical catalepsy, to account for the peculiar forms of insanity supposedly so characteristic of prophets. It was only during the twentieth century, though, that the real industry of diagnosing prophecy began kicking into action. Streams of scientific expressions started flooding the literature and manuals and textbooks. There was “psychosis”; there was “schizophrenia”, not to mention the ever-popular label of “pathology”; and, to lend an extra flourish, “paranoid schizophrenia” was added as well. Of course nothing betrayed the illness, the trauma, the psychosis of prophets more obviously than their howling. The trouble is that, logically, this might mean wolves and jackals and coyotes are all in pressing need of treatment-while Native Americans performing their sacred ceremonies must be crying out for medication. But it’s best not to be too logical. After all,



we are only dealing with madness: finding the right-sounding label is the thing that counts. And it didn’t take too long before even those flimsy scientific labels were sounding a little out of date. So, almost as if to honour the new millennium, psychologists as well as biblical scholars hatched an even better language for explaining prophecy away. With the help of the American Psychiatric Association they found the perfect term for a fresh generation. Those tragically unfortunate ancient prophets had been suffering all along, undiagnosed, from “post-traumatic stress disorder”. 32 There is one specific feature well worth noting in this steady march of progress: how quick and eager modern Jungian writers tend to be to fall obediently into step, in particular across North America. As a matter of fact there are those who have been extremely happy making the most gracious contributions of their ownciting Jonah, for example, as a classic case of obsessive-compulsive disorder or oppositional defiant disorder. 33 But in contributing their own pathologies to the psychological interpretation of prophecy, Jungian authorities went a great deal further than that. One only has to look at the case of a very dynamic and highly reputed Jungian practitioner, James Kirsch, who for years maintained a close professional relationship with Jung himself. In fact his position on the matter, stated with the unmistakable certainty of religious dogma, could hardly have been clearer. Would-be prophets, he explained, are guilty of the most fundamental misunderstanding. Anyone throughout the last two thousand years who made the grave mistake of stepping into the shoes of prophecy was heading straight for psychosis, paranoia, schizophrenia, insanity, catastrophe. And the single greatest tragedy is that all those figures who so sadly either almost fell,



or did fall, into a massive psychological inflation by imagining they could act out the role of prophet were never even aware of the fact they had been born too early. It was absolutely unavoidable that they would just become helpless “victims” of the process of individuation, rather than conscious participants in it, because each of them happened to be living “before the time was ready”. They were unfortunate enough to have lived before Dr. Jung came into the worldbefore the decisive turning point in history when his psychology was created to help them, to save all the would-be saviours by saving them from themselves. Of course the irony is that the real person suffering from a state of inflatedness here is the faithful Jungian who wrote such statements and so fervently believed them. But there is a still greater irony in the fact that Jung himself, even up until the year before he died, didn’t stop warning this man as forcefully as he could: kept trying to make him realize the massive psychological inflation he had become a victim of through identifying so closely, so ruinously, with Jung’s own work and psychology. 34 Words falter here, come to a stop, turn around and back on themselves because it’s not just ideas or theories that are on the line. It’s people’s lives, as well-the lives of prophets, of therapists, and above all of the so-called ordinary people caught in between. And if you were to suspect this isn’t the end of the story you would be right, because there is the other case I would be very glad to step around if I only could. That’s the case of Edward Edinger. Edinger has come to be described as the single most influential Jungian in America during the second half of the twentieth century-not to mention the finest spokesperson for Jung himself that North America has had the good fortune to know. He never met him; had no personal contact with him. But it was the man’s ideas that captured him.



Soon he was completely convinced that Jung’s psychology offered a new, post-Christian path of salvation. He also felt sure Jung was the most important person who had walked the earth since Jesus Christ, a relatively tame belief compared to the claims of other Jungians. And in the humblest contrast Edinger saw himself as a perfectly modest, utterly ordinary missionary dedicated to spreading the wisdom of an extraordinarily magnificent master: always a truly terrifying combination. In other words, everything that Jung throughout his life had strained to keep out of public view and away especially from his own eyes was all of a sudden being put on grand display by this self-effacing disciple for the whole world to be able to see. But it’s not his views and theories that interest me, or his unwrapping of Jung’s ideas while often managing to turn them discreetly inside out, or his rather mediocre erudition. What concerns me is Edinger’s actions; what he did. Qyite late in his life he gave a series of lectures about prophecy. And rather predictably, in tune with the spirit of the times he lived in, he came to explain that the whole business of being a prophet was sheer psychosis from beginning to end. But, in his particular case, this made him start fondly reminiscing about an incident that happened when he was still a young man. At the time of that incident he was working as a psychiatrist in a mental hospital near New York. He had also been immersed, as a patient, in Jungian analysis for several years. But far more significant than the relative newness to him ofJung’s psychology at that earlier point in his career is the undisguised pride, the total lack of reflexivity or self-questioning, with which as a venerable teacher and authority in his sixties he still derives pleasure from reliving the details of what he had done.



And for those details he mentions a specific year: 1954. And he also mentions a particular place: Rockland State Hospital. 35 “Indeed”, he explains, “the whole archetype of the prophet is a common content of the psychoses. I can give you a personal example of that. This comes from a patient I saw when I was working at Rockland State Hospital many years ago, in 1954 as a matter of fact. Here is the way I described the patient upon admission. “‘Twenty-four-year-old slender blond man. He was a minister. The story was that his difficulties began about three weeks ago when he was serving as a minister for three rural churches in upstate New York. At this time he began hearing auditory hallucinations of God, telling him that he was the Messiah, the second coming of Christ. He states that he fought against this message and carried on conversations with God, insisting that this could not be. God, however, told him that at the very least he must take this information to the churches and convey it to them. And while describing this he is rather apologetic and sheepish, knowing perfectly well that this is an insane idea.”‘ With mounting condescension Edinger takes a moment to document this twenty-four-year-old’s doubts, his conflicts, his uncertainties-as well as the strikingly thoughtful ways in which he was trying to explain his own situation to himself. And with the magnificent arrogance of a man who thinks he knows everything but perhaps knows nothing, who doesn’t even pause to consider how desperate the young minister must have been to find some way back to the freedom of nature, impatiently he goes straight on to explain: “Well, he wasn’t really as good as this sounds. He was delusional and assaultive, so he had to be confined on the violent ward. I made a record some days later from that ward:



“‘He is quite confused in thinking, still receiving messages from God that he is the second coming of Christ. Sometimes he wants to march out of the hospital and start preaching the message. The messages come from the wind and from the birds when they fly down and flutter their feathers … “‘ “That’s an example”, as our doctor expertly sums up the whole case, “of being overcome by the prophet archetype and falling into an overt psychosis.” It’s rather hard to believe that Edward Edinger, a wellread man, had no knowledge of the fact that observing and listening to the wind and the birds was the cornerstone of ancient prophecy-or that those who knew how to hear as well as see the messages contained in the sounds of the wind and the movement of birds were once considered the closest of people to the divine. But the question is not whether, as a matter of intellectual book knowledge, he was aware of this or not. The only question is why on earth, whether as a young doctor or a much older lecturer, he should ever care. For any psychologist, even any orthodox Jungian, prophecy is the last possible thing to entertain as something serious. And in the case of Edinger we can glimpse just what this means: can see how literally he took his conviction that prophecy is never an issue to be taken literally. As soon as he has finished revisiting those old case records from Rockland, he goes straight on to compare his blond minister with the ancient prophet Jeremiah point by point. Jeremiah and the minister not only were exactly the same in imagining they were prophets. They even shared the identical doubts and conflicts; struggles and fears. But above all they both made the same fatal mistake of acting out the role of prophet, because that’s the purest psychosis. “Then one is. crazy”.



In other words, with all his learned lecturing and writing about the prophets, Edinger himself “wasn’t really as good as this sounds”-because if he had come across Jeremiah he would have done his job without a moment’s thought and locked him up in Rockland, too. And naturally he had to. There is nobody alive who wants to be challenged by the reality, as opposed to the fakery, of prophecy. No one in any truly civilized culture can be expected to tolerate the brutal violence of a man who hears the sacred speaking in the breeze or in the gentle fluttering of a bird’s wings as it flies low and close to the ground. Edinger has a fascinating passage about just how bad being a prophet is for one’s social life. He notes how bitterly Jeremiah complained about his harmonious relationship to other people being destroyed when he came bringing messages from another world; how he was locked up and humiliated in public for howling. “Even at the very best, even at the most careful, it can be very dangerous to be a prophet-if one tells all that one sees or intuits.” And so only fools would say what they intuit or see. He even, along with other Jungians, leans on a false etymology of the word “prophet” so he can pretend that the true job of someone like Jeremiah should have been “to adapt his message, to mediate it to the psychological reality of those he is talking to”. Otherwise, everything goes wrong. “He loses his relatedness to other people; he fails to take into account their reality.” The simple truth is, though, that the meaning of the ancient word “prophet” has nothing whatsoever to do with adapting one’s message to a human audience. The word means “to speak on behalf of” the divine. It means just to serve as a mouthpiece: to say whatever the sacred is needing to say. 36 And one can talk until the cows come home about prophets failing to take into account everybody’s reality. But then who,



aside from prophets, is going to talk about everyone failing to take into account the divine reality? Instead we go on living out our therapeutically self-serving lives, assured that whoever threatens to disturb us will get whatever’s coming to them: be labelled appropriately, put away. And so there is no one brave enough left even to ask about the collective craziness-the total psychosis- of a world that has silenced its prophets.


So we come back at last to Jung. If one stops just to look and listen, it can be remarkable to note what starts quietly stepping out from the shadows-because while still alive he was surrounded on every side by voices accusing him, reprimanding him, mocking him for wanting to be a prophet. But these weren’t only the voices of fools. Included among them was the voice of his old friend and colleague Sigmund Freud who at times also had the nerve to describe him as a mystic, not to mention crazy. And, even more strikingly, some of them were the voices crying out inside Jung himself: taunting, tormenting, torturing him. There is nothing here to worry about, though; nothing at all. The most devoted of Jungians, those people who happened to be closest to him, were of a single mind and voice in rejecting the slightest murmur of any nonsense about him being a prophet. The same goes for the best and finest minds, apparently, in the world of Jungian scholarship. It’s all such a silly mistake: the crudest of misunderstandings. There is nothing to see here, not a single doubt to linger on; the facts of the matter couldn’t be simpler; the case is closed.



And anyone stubborn enough still to feel unsatisfied by these collective assurances is sooner or later going to be faced with something far more decisive-Jung’s own unfailing habit of stridently insisting, time and time and then time again, that he wasn’t a prophet. The case is not just closed. It’s already sealed and disposed 0£ 37

The trouble here, the awkward little problem we are so quick to overlook, is that in reality things rarely are quite so simple. As the saying goes: where there’s smoke there is often fire, and if you notice dentists rushing around intensely denying they are astronauts you are bound to ask the reason why. Also, there is the need for a healthy dose or two of common sense. It can be interesting to watch how, whenever Jung raised the question of whether Freud deserved the title of prophet, he would innocently use the term as an expression of praise. But when Freud, or others, raised the spectre of Jung wanting to become a prophet there was nothing nice intended at all. And why, with this word being bandied around as a term of such outright mockery or abuse, Jung would have cared to add to his troubles by heaping such an obvious insult on his own head is beyond any sane person’s understanding. Add to this the fact that he very shrewdly used to note how any “real prophet or saviour” who decided to go public would be destroyed by our modern world of television and media within a few short weeks, and one can appreciate why even if Jung knew he was a prophet he would have been the last person ever to admit it. 38 Then, of course, there is that matter of his constant denials which any number of people have been gullible enough to point to as the ultimate criterion of truth. But we have already seen more than enough examples of his public denials-Jung the



Gnostic denying he is a Gnostic, Jung the mystic insisting he is not a mystic, Jung the magician waving his wand and solemnly declaring he is no magician-to get a visceral sense of exactly what he meant by “concealing one’s vestiges”. I do appreciate, though, that this can all be a little hard to accept. And so, if it still seems difficult really to believe that he could have condoned the blatant act of saying things which are downright deceitful or false, I will just mention one other passage which should put everybody’s doubts to rest. In those green and innocent days when he hadn’t yet learned the full price that has to be paid for openly revealing one’s enthusiasms, Jung gave Freud quite a shock by telling him their new psychology of the unconscious was a religion: in fact was destined to be the new religion, even complete with its own saviour probably waiting somewhere in the wings. But soon he would also be offering Freud a warning. Especially among friends or colleagues, he explained, one has to be careful. All the gossip, the backbiting, the murmurs of rebellion are nothing but normal reactions to something that behaves and performs and looks just like a religion. So we have to take the necessary steps to model ourselves on the esoteric traditions of antiquity. Concealment is the key. Our psychology will only grow and thrive inside the atmosphere of a secret religious conclave that meets in private, behind closed doors. What’s more, though, we need to make sure to protect all this from our own impatient ambitions to go public with everything we have discovered-because our psychology “is much too true to be acknowledged or recognized, yet, in public. First and foremost, this is what we have to do: we have to restrict ourselves to handing out masses of falsified, adulterated extracts and passing round nothing but watereddown versions of it.”



And if you plan on looking the passage up inside the authorized English translation of Jung’s letters to Freud, you may as well give up because all you will find is a crudely diluted and falsified version of what Jung once wrote. 39 So perhaps, as most people do, you too enjoy your own drinks adulterated; completely watered down. And there is nothing wrong with that at all. But if you happen not to, and have a strong enough longing for the truth as well as the internal fortitude to handle it, then it might be time to think twice before swallowing the masses of palatable denials that Jung was a prophet-and look, instead, at what he actually said about the subject of prophecy when he chose to touch on it. The obvious place to start is with a piece he once wrote which very understandably, because it seems to come so close to mapping the unmappable territory of the psyche, has almost assumed the status of an introductory textbook for Jungian psychology. The original version dates back to 1916, when he was still struggling intensely to come to terms with the experiences documented by his Red book. In it he directly takes aim at the ambitiousness of people who are so weak-minded they give way to the temptation of believing they are prophets. Then he ends with an even more pointed comment about the danger of “setting oneself up” as a prophet: of rushing to become a missionary to others rather than quietly watching over oneself, silently integrating one’s psychological discoveries into ordinary everyday life. And, now that the Red book has been published, nothing could be plainer than the full extent to which these general warnings are based on Jung’s very personal struggles and bitter experiences at the time-while he was battling in private with what he specifically describes as his own prophetic ambition,



fighting against the almost overwhelming temptation to accept the role of prophet for hims el£ 40 But twelve years later, with the even greater experience of a man in his fifties, he went back to his original text and rewrote it. In addition to his initial warning about ambition and temptation, which he left intact, he included a whole new section on prophecy and the problem of inflation. And to judge from those who for the better part of a century have been either loudly insisting or at least silently implying that according to Jung prophecy is the direct equivalent of inflation and psychosis and delusion, that to him all prophets are false prophets by their very nature, anybody would assume he must have been very clear about the matter himself. In fact, whoever those commentators think they have been reading or listening to or learning from, one thing can be said for sure. It certainly isn’t Jung. The most surprising thing about this revision is how extremely brief his comments are about prophecy itself: “In general, I wouldn’t want to deny that real prophets do appear. But, by way of precaution, I would prefer as a very first step to question each individual case-because to accept someone as genuine is far too serious a matter to be decided flippantly or oflbandedly. Every true prophet defends himself valiantly against the unconscious demands and expectations of this role. So, when a prophet just springs out of nowhere on the spur of the moment, it’s better to suspect a psychic loss of equilibrium.” Of course, to the sceptically minded this is the plainest confirmation of Jung’s sceptical-mindedness. Nothing could be easier than to join him in brushing off the whole topic of prophecy, flippantly, oflbandedly, as pathological or very dubious at best. But the fact is that in the space of this short half-paragraph he has mentioned the possibility of real prophets, genuine prophets,



true prophets no less than three times-quite consistently with the way he often mentions the same possibility elsewhere. And all that’s needed is simply to step through the door he is holding open. 41 Jung’s statement that “every true prophet defends himself valiantly against the unconscious demands and expectations of this role” belongs in a very specific context. It refers straight back to what he has just been saying a moment before about how only the rarest and best among people are strong enough in their longing that they are willing to expose themselves, on purpose, to the incalculable danger of being devoured by the primordial unconscious; about how only the truest heroes ever manage to defeat the monster of the depths not just once, in some instant glorious battle, but time and time again; about how the only way to win the mythical treasure, the secret power, the hidden magic contained inside those depths is by absolutely refusing to identify with their collective force. And if one cares to put together everything Jung says or hints at here about this figure of the true prophet, the resulting picture couldn’t be clearer. Real prophets have the strength and virtue to do what no one else is willing, or able, to do. They struggle with all their might against their own ambitions and vanity; manage to maintain their psychological balance by knowing, in particular, how to laugh at the fools they are and never take themselves too seriously. They fight against the constant temptation to display themselves as prophets in public, together with the usual dramas that involves. Above all, though, they refuse to identify with the intoxicating role of prophet even inwardly or in private. And this plays itself out not just invisibly-because, in the hard-won battle to become a real prophet, there is nobody there to make a claim



about anything or parade some prophetic status-but also with immense patience over a long period of time. That’s precisely the reason why, in his few fleeting comments about prophecy,Jung makes everything revolve around slowness and perseverance as opposed to speed. Becoming a prophet isn’t a matter of becoming an overnight sensation: it takes time, because first one has to become the prophet and saviour of one’s own being. And judging whether someone really is a prophet isn’t an issue of making instant, spur-of-the-moment decisions either. That, too, needs time. But you may notice, now I’ve spelled all this out, that he doesn’t say any of it openly. And the name for that is magic. He says it all without seeming to say anything; touches on the subject of prophets for the briefest moment or two only to let himself be distracted almost immediately and, before you notice what’s happened, rush off into talking about something else. He cleverly uses double negatives-“! wouldn’t want to deny”rather than committing himself by stating anything directly in a positive way. And the whole time he is counting on you not only not to notice what he is actually pointing to, which would require an active attention not many people have, but to project your own unconscious prejudices onto his words and assume he is saying the precise opposite of what he is. In other words: it’s not enough for him to speak theoretically about prophecy. Instead, even when he is talking about prophets he instinctively follows the hallowed and time-honoured tradition of speaking as a prophet. He hints and hides rather than talking openly; conveys his meaning to the very few who are willing and patient enough to listen; but to everybody else he gives just enough rope to let them



hang themselves, because all they really want is to go on being deceived. This prophetic language is in essence no different from the prophetic language used by Empedocles, or Parmenides, or anyone else who has to communicate after coming back from the world of the dead. Underneath its veil of apparent vagueness it contains an uncanny exactness-a mathematical precision which we ignore at our peril. That preciseness is the reality of the timeless need for true, authentic prophets to serve their culture or community in ways they alone are ready to do. 42 And, if one cares to consider Jung’s other writings, it’s only too obvious there was nothing else he could possibly hint at or say. But even though there are so many more words one could add to his, and no doubt should, I’ll simply cut things short. While Jungians like Edward Edinger were cheerfully psychoanalyzing and classifying and diagnosing prophets in their books, their lectures, their practices, Jung for his own part kept crying out: Keep your hands off our prophets and leave them alone! Stop trying to analyze or classify them from an individual point of view because it’s the stupidest thing to do. They are acting, speaking, urgently communica~ing as representatives of the collective unconscious and burrowing into the details of their personal psychology is futile . While a Jungian like James Kirsch was insisting that any prophet who hasn’t had the benefit of a Jungian analysis will automatically become an unconscious “victim of the process of individuation”, Jung himself was stating on the contrary that throughout the whole of history prophets have always served their people as supreme models of individuation. And, far from being unconscious, they are the most conscious guides and leaders of their people; lone beacons of psychological health.



While Edinger makes such a fuss about prophets’ greatest weakness lying in the fact that they are not able to adapt to the people or the world around them, Jung himself hints that the greatest strength of prophets-just like artists-lies precisely in their failure to adapt, because this is the one way they can help bring the collective imbalance back again into balance. While Jungians in general mostly tend to see prophets as perfect models of inflation, miniature psychological disasters waiting to happen, Jung took the extraordinary step of portraying them as their people’s best protection against the supreme psychological disaster: as the only ones strong enough to take a stand against the devastating ravages of collective, not to mention individual, inflation. And while there is no denying that anyone seeing visions or hearing messages straight from God is running an obvious psychological risk, there is also no denying that nothing could be more dangerous for a culture than ignoring the true prophets who-in spite of all their own struggles to stop hearing or to prevent themselves seeing-still end up bringing messages and visions from another world because they are the only ones able to perceive the real needs of their times. 43 For most of these ,points Jung would refer to the Hebrew prophets and the Jewish people. This might make it seem ever so easy nowadays to dismiss what he says as only appropriate in a specific historical context; only relevant to some other time or place. But that would be to ignore the absolutely fundamental importance he ascribed to the Bible in his own psychology. As he tried to explain, for a westerner there is no psychology without the Bible. “We must read the Bible or we shall not understand psychology. Our psychology, our whole lives, our language and imagery, are built upon the Bible.” And there is a significant warning here: of course we can use Jung’s work



however we want, convert it into a handy tool to suit our own purposes. But unless we know the Bible almost as well as he did, can pick up on his subtle references and hints, we are never in a thousand years going to understand his real meaning. If prophets were essential for the psychological health of the Jewish people, they are essential for ours. If they were the few individuals among the Jews who could be called most individuated, least inflated, most sane, then perhaps they are the only figures available to us in our sophisticated civilized existence who are not completely crazy. And if such suggestions sound more than a little strange, it can help to remember that for Jung the most perfectly ordinary people in our modern western culture aren’t anywhere near as perfect as they seem. Qyite to the contrary: every such person nowadays “suffers from a hubris of consciousness that borders on the pathological”. But the most telling thing of all is that in his eyes even the most extreme, most psychotic, most impossibly deluded case of a religious inflation due to someone acting out the grand role of prophet is no worse than “the rationalistic and political psychosis that is the affliction of our day”-the collective psychosis of our world. 44


And so Jung’s few quick pointers to the true, real, genuine prophet simply disappear; vanish, ignored, back into the silence where they belong. But these brief comments were only the start of what he would end up contributing to his textbook account of prophecy and the problem of inflation. And the most important thing to note about his final version of the text is an extremely simple one: the number of his words. For every word he uses, in that space of half a small paragraph, to touch on the dangers ofbecoming a prophet he goes straight on to use four or five words-in the longer paragraphs that followto illustrate the dangers of becoming a prophet’s disciple. And here we suddenly encounter a very different face of Jung. The entire passage turns into a delightfully relaxed but scornful parody of all those devoted followers who find no end of sweetness and lazy joy in sitting at the Master’s feet, laying all the liability and responsibility for their lives at Master’s door, guarding against having a single thought or idea of their own, scooping the great truth straight from their Master’s hands so they can mindlessly repeat it as if this somehow makes it their own truth: their own answer, their own discovery. For them it’s an ideal situation. Somebody else is there to carry all the burden and responsibilities, the real-life dangers



and risks, while they creep about cowering behind their false modesty; gloating over the magnificent treasury of wisdom they claim for themselves although it isn’t even theirs; bursting onto the world scene to proclaim themselves proud guardians of an exclusive truth denied to everyone else, flushed and swollen with their own borrowed importance. At the same time, through their boundless adulation and deification of the Master they are able to enjoy the supreme pleasure of also feeling themselves grow in size. Even while outwardly appearing to be ever so ordinary, all of a sudden they are filling the skies-because it never dawns on them that to try hiding away in modesty and humility from the imagined dangers of inflation is among the greatest possible forms of inflation. Naturally the most striking thing about this meticulous description is the way Jung has managed to shift the whole focus away from what by any ordinary logic he ought to be explaining, which is a prophet’s inflation, onto the inflation of a prophet’s disciples . And if what he describes with such intensity sounds strangely reminiscent of the dedicated Jungian Edward Edinger, proclaiming Jung’s unparalleled greatness of stature while deriving enormous satisfaction from his own modesty and smallness, that’s no accident. In fact Edinger was well known for speaking of himself as, very precisely, “an ordinary man in most respects except for my ability to see Jung’s size”. One could truthfully say thatwith a prophetic clarity-Jung had already managed to see what kind of things were going to be unfolding for his work inside the space of a single generation. 45 But, just as naturally, nothing would be worse than to exaggerate. The best experts insist they have already fully accounted for Jung’s intimate insight into a pupil’s inflation, and state



with utmost confidence that-although in theory there might always be one or two bad apples among the very lowest grade of Jungians who perhaps could fit his image of inflated disciplesthis passage has no bearing at all on the Jungian community as a whole. On the contrary, his acute sensitivity towards the dynamics of inflation shows how infinitely careful he was to keep any such nonsense well away from the world ofJungians. In fact, we are told, he shaped and formed his Jungian community ever so consciously as a deliberate defence and antidote against such childish dynamics; a perfect model of how to avoid them. As for what could possibly have prompted such a passionate portrayal of the prophet’s inflated disciples: maybe he was thinking about a couple of lost Theosophists or other cultists who, by some unaccountable twist of fate, had once washed up in his consulting room. 46 And this is what happens when those who write about Jung have no idea of what he meant by the power of the unconscious. If we really want to understand what Jung was getting at, with his textbook account of a prophet’s disciples, it can be helpful to start by looking back at the Red book-and at what he was actually saying behind the scenes. On the surface it can all sound perfectly splendid. With his message from the underworld he is coming to set everyone free, clapping everybody on the back and encouraging them to follow their own way; find their own truth to live by which is true only for them. But, underneath that glitzy surface, Jung is also saying something slightly different: Stop trying to copy me. Leave me alone. I am sick to death of everyone imitating everything I say or do. For God’s sake find your own way and stop leaning on me as if I am going to fill your emptiness, answer your questions for you, miraculously give you the truth to replace all your lies. Stop sucking me dry, as if my life is what you need to live your life.



And don’t try taking my mysteries or stealing my secrets, because they are not yours-they are mine. Have the guts to face your darkness and jump into the crater of your own volcano because that’s the only way you are ever going to find what’s yours. The truth is, though, that being imitated was one thing he soon learned he would have to put up with even from the Jungian men and women who seemed closest to him. There would be imitation of his deepest secrets, of his teachings, of his smallest tics and mannerisms too. Absolutely the last thing that the people around him were going to do, he realized, was to leave him alone. 47 And this is where we come back, again, to his peculiarly close sense of affinity with Empedocles. It was around twenty-five years after the huge struggles he documented in the Red book that Jung revisited one of his favourite topics: the descent into hell through a volcanic crater and, much more specifically, the legends of Empedocles dying by throwing himself into Mount Etna. But, this time, he couldn’t resist cracking one of those trademark jokes that somehow manage to reveal as much about him as any of his most serious scientific texts. Of course he could never quite get to the bottom of why Empedocles would have killed himself in such a way, for the simple reason that the legends were no more talking about Empedocles’ physical or literal death than Jung had physically died when he made his own journeys to the underworld. Even so, that didn’t stop him from trying-and driving home a point or two in the process. I often wonder, he said during a famous seminar in 1938, why he did it. Ancient writers had their own kinds of theories and explanations. “But in the biography of old Empedocles we



get the real clue! You know, he was very popular: wherever he appeared, large crowds of people came to hear him talk, and when he left town about ten thousand people followed him to the next one where he had to talk again. I assume he was human, so what could he do?” And Jung has the answer. Empedocles had to find some place where no one could run after him: somewhere “to escape his ten thousand lovely followers”. So he jumped into the volcano. Here, in this hilariously simple story, we almost have it all: crowds upon crowds of devoted followers doing just what inflated disciples do best, pursuing Empedocles everywhere to scoop out his wisdom and suck up his every word as ifit holds the secret of life, transferring their hopes and expectations and fantasies onto the Master while laying their burdens and responsibilities at his door until he simply couldn’t stand it any more. At the same time it doesn’t need much of a sixth sense to be able to detect in Jung’s ridiculously forced explanation not only a major vein of sympathy for old Empedocles, but an even greater trace of autobiographical self-reference. By telling the story this way, he is hardly just telling the story of a famous ancient prophet and saviour called Empedocles. He is saying something essential about himsel£ And, as it happens, there is no need at all for any special senses herebecause we also have the most explicit of statements from someone who, for years, fiercely treasured her role as one of Jung’s most trusted confidantes. Barbara Hannah has left a very convenient note explaining that, whenever she heard Empedocles’ name being mentioned, she couldn’t help thinking back to what Jung had said about him. Immediately, she would be reminded of the way he used to describe the wise old man as throwing himself into a volcano because of all the people who “flocked around him wanting to



hear about things of life. Transferences drove him there, said Dr. Jung, and added: ‘and if you are not careful, I shall land there too!”‘ So, all of a sudden, those “ten thousand lovely followers” devotedly chasing their Master everywhere are no longer Theosophists. And they are no longer Empedocles’ disciples, either-because they are also Jung’s. What’s more: they are not just some low-grade would-be Jungians living at a distant remove from his faithful inner circle. They even include, or perhaps one would have to say especially include, those very Jungians who considered themselves his nearest and dearest. And the one most unavoidable consequence of all this is that the person playing the role of prophet to these prophet’s disciples is no longer only Empedocles. On his own admission, it’s Carl Jung himself. 48 But in case anyone has an illusion that the resulting picture of Jung as the great prophet figure surrounded by inflated, unconscious disciples is just due to a temporary lapse of judgement or seriousness on his part I’ll quickly shift the focus forward by another twenty years-to one of the last sets of interviews he ever gave before he died. In June 1958 he sat down with his secretary to talk for a bit about death and the dead. We all, he explained, have a particular task or burden which is to find an answer through the living of our own lives to the questions left unanswered by our ancestors: by the dead. This ,is what it really means to find one’s myth. To do that, though, one has to learn to live very close to the dead; one’s own dead. And for him, he adds, little by little that burden has become less and less because through his life he has answered them. He has done everything he needed to, or could. To his own dead he gave his own answer, and that has nothing whatsoever to do with



anyone else. It’s nobody else’s business! The trouble is that the only thing people want to know is what my answer is so they can mindlessly rattle it off and make my answer appear to be their answer. Of course this means they are leaving their own dead completely unanswered, but they couldn’t care less-because to set about discovering their own living answer to their own dead through their own effort would be far too uncomfortable, much too risky and stressful. Let’s just go ahead and project all our burdens onto old Jung, they say, because he knows how to make everything fine and good. Here it is again: lazy followers laying all their burdens at the Master’s feet, dodging the inconvenience of having to search for an answer themselves because it’s so much easier imitating and impressively parroting the Master’s own answer instead. After all, isn’t it an unquestionable fact that the prophet’s disciple possesses “the great truth-not his own discovery, of course, but received straight from the Master’s hands?” And inwardly he was just as sick of the situation as he had been forty, almost fifty, years before. There is one other thing, too, that he bitterly adds in the middle of complaining about the living while explaining about the dead. Who on earth, he asks, really understands anything about this at all? Where, he wants to know, is there anyone who in all honesty understands the slightest part of what this actually means? 49 It sounds an insignificant enough thing to say-the kind of comment to excuse as a purely rhetorical question and put aside. But that would be a major mistake. Often Jung used to mention the one sure, telltale sign of a saviour figure or prophet or magician: the utter conviction such people hold that there’s no one in the world who understands them. So the irony is that, in making precisely this point while



lamenting his inflated followers’ inability to understand him, he is offering the most archetypal confirmation of his own role as a prophet. In fact the older he got, the more insistently he kept asking himself who understood what he had been trying to do. The answer was always the same. Someone might understand a bit about this or that, then make a big meal of it. As for who understands the whole, though, how it all hangs together-to be perfectly frank, there is no one at all. It’s an answer that runs like a painful refrain through the interviews he gave towards the end of his life. But at the same time, in those interviews he also happened to give a very particular name to this cry of incomprehension. He called it the cry of Merlin: the prophet’s cry that no one understands and that makes the prophet cry even louder because no one understands it. This is the cry that Jung identified as his own, in just the same way he identified himself with Merlin. And so we have Empedocles the prophet, with whose predicament Jung identified so strongly; we have Merlin the prophet, too; lastly we have Jung. But rather than just lumping all three of these figures together as prophets, which would be the laziest of things to do, the crucial point to note is that each of them is a prophet with a difference because of the one characteristic they share in common. They all renounced the role of prophet. Empedocles renounced it by dying because he couldn’t take the nonsense any more, Merlin by withdrawing into the forest and crying because he couldn’t put up with it either. Jung renounced it, as well, by absolutely refusing to identify with being a prophet-or let himself get trapped in the golden cage where prophets end up imprisoned together with their disciples.



The paradox for him was that, in spite of all the exotic trappings and fancy trimmings, really there is nothing mysterious whatsoever about the unconscious relationship between a prophet and a prophet’s disciple. From a psychological point of view the whole saga is “so humanly understandable that it would be a matter for astonishment if it led to any further destination whatever”. And when something potentially so sacred is turned into the dullest example of business as usual, the only mystery left is the one of not knowing whether it would be better just to laugh or cry. The true mystery, which is the mystery of entering a world no human can hope to understand, begins with simply renouncing everything. It starts at the moment when, like the sun at midheaven, we have reached our own highest point and are faced with the great choice in our life. Either we go on struggling pointlessly to keep climbing higher and higher; automatically repeat whatever strategies we are used to until at last there is nothing left to do except accept the final pleasures of a graceful retirement; become stiffer and drier only to end up unconsciously sinking down, like everybody else, into the waters of death. Or else we die before we die and make that descent quite consciously: “No one should deny the danger of the descent, but it can be risked. No one need risk it, but it is certain that some one will. And let those who go down the sunset way do so with open eyes, for it is a sacrifice which daunts even the gods.” 50 After such a sacrifice the bird, at least the prophet bird, is no longer in the cage. But don’t imagine this is the end of Jung the prophet. It’s only the end of his soaring public ambitions to become a prophet-so that he can sink back into his own primordial depths, and the real work of the prophet can begin.


For Jung it was perfectly clear: the descent he made into the crater of the underworld, his major encounter with the unconscious, that immense labour and love he devoted year after year to creating the Red book, are what marked the start of his real work because everything he would do later came from here. One can understand the wisdom of those intellectuals who have had the courage to speak out against the Red bookto denounce it as utter rubbish that belongs in the garbage can of history and should never have been published. The truth is that it’s loaded with such grossness, so much of the disgusting crudity characteristic of the unconscious, even Jung himself was thoroughly embarrassed and discomforted by what it contains. But the trick is that unless you embrace all the crudeness of the unconscious reality wholeheartedly, unless you know like Jung that the pearl is only found in the filth, you are going to end up empty-handed with nothing aside from a cheap necklace of dried theories; of hollow concepts. It would have been best if you had never begun. 51 As for the scholars who have been wise enough to embrace the Red book and make it an object of study, the question remains whether they have understood much better than those who just reject it. Even its editor has insisted that of course this is a text to be understood psychologically-a word that can mean a million



things to a thousand people-instead of religiously, let alone mystically. Or as another scholar has explained: at the start of the Red book Jung sets off in quest of his soul, not in search of God. And that proves this is not some religious text but simply a work of psychology, a book for the analytical mind. 52 All I can say is that, if this was true, it would be very strange indeed. Right from the start of his career, years before the Red book was even a glimmer in his eye, Jung had always seen the work he did as religious through and through. As he said to Freud, quite frankly, back in 1910: the organized religions have lost their instinctive power, our psychology alone can replace them, but “religion can only be replaced by religion”. It’s a statement that would echo, more and more refined although just as distinctly, down through the rest of his days. To be sure, many conscientious efforts have been made over the years to blur or simply obliterate the religious dimensions of his work; to silence, as effectively as possible, his own emphasis on the religious nature of what happened to him during his descent into the underworld. But such acts of suppression change · nothing, at least nothing that counts. 53 And as for this question of psychology’s connection to religion-we may as well deal with the issue once and for all. It can- be almost a religious experience to realize how few people even in the Jungian community have taken the trouble to come to terms with one of Jung’s most important writings, where he states just what psychology is and why it matters to him so much. With crystal clarity he explains that, far from being a replacement or substitute for religion, it’s the very essence of religion-because the central concern of psychology is, by definition, the mystery of the soul:



“So long as religion is only belief and outward form, and the religious function is not experienced in our own souls, nothing profound or radical has happened. It still remains to be understood that the mysterium magnum”, life’s great mystery, “is first and foremost rooted in the human psyche. Whoever doesn’t know this from inner experience may be a most learned theologian, but doesn’t have a clue about religion”. Then Jung simply moves from provocative to even more provocative. “If it was not a fact of experience that supreme values reside in the soul”, he goes straight on to add, “psychology would not interest me in the least … I have been accused of ‘deifying the soul’. But it’s not I-it’s God himself who deified it! It’s not I who assigned a religious function to the soul, I merely presented the facts.” And so he arrives at the heart of psychology, as well as the core of people’s resistance to it: “If the theologian really believes in the almighty power of God on the one hand and in the validity of dogma on the other, why then does he not trust God to speak in the soul? Why this fear of psychology?” In other words, here we have his own statement of what psychology is-as well as why it matters so much. It’s the art or science oflearning to listen to the voice of God speaking in the human soul. Far from the soul existing inJung’s mind as some psychological alternative to religion, or God, it’s the only possible pathway to both. This is why for him Soul is Wisdom-Sophia in Greek, Sapientia in Latin. Inside the Red book itself he painted this spirit of Wisdom just as he wanted her to be seen: standing tall, veiled but magnificent, in a crowded church. And later he would comment on what he had painted: In all her ambiguity and ambivalence she-Soul, Sophiaappears with her veiled face as an extraordinary, utterly mysterious



feminine being “in a church, taking the place of the altar”. This is how the reality of the soul will eventually be restored “to the Christian church, not as an icon but as the altar itself”. But to understand the significance of his painting we also need to go back a bit in time. To be more specific, we have to go back to another of those letters Jung wrote to Freud when he was still trying to convince him that the real future of psychology lies in gradually pulling away the veil from the secret at the heart of religion while making sure to keep its essential mystery hidden: “I have the feeling that this is a time full of wonders. And, if the omens from the gods do not deceive, I dare say you are quite correct that thanks to your discoveries we indeed find ourselves on the threshold of something truly glorious-something I can’t think of any name for aside from the Gnostic notion of Sophia, which is an Alexandrian expression perfectly suited for the reincarnation of ancient wisdom in psychoanalysis.” The only thing to add is that Jung was never able to help along this process of Sophia’s reincarnation while he stayed with Freud. To do that, he first had to make the journey to hell all on his own. And if we want to know what the R ed book really is, this is it: the physical reincarnation of ancient wisdom which he already had predicted to Freud. 54 But with the publication, now, of that veiled wisdom we are faced with a problem. People are notoriously adept at making as much or as little as they want out of words, even images- at stripping religion of its religiousness, ignoring anything they dislike, inserting all their pet political correctnesses. So if we care to understand a little about the birthing of that private and hidden and secret wisdom, about what the process of creating the Red book involved at around the time it was actually being created, we are going to have to be able to look back at it from a fresh perspective.



And there are probably no better eyes to choose than Cary de Angulo’s. A well-educated American, she came to Zurich in 1921. Soon she caught Jung’s attention not because of her devotion but, on the contrary, because of her rigorous impartiality; because of her critical objectivity which he would learn to value more and more over the years; on account of her ability to stand beside him always ready to challenge, tease, call his bluff, when everyone else was too terrified to say a word. Even so, during the first year after she arrived she was explaining to him that “Every hour I spend with you has holiness in it for me”-not, she adds, in the sense that she is worshipping him but in the sense that his simple presence inspires her to strain and reach towards something only Jung has managed to express so potently. And this sensation of a holiness in his presence was something far from unique to her alone. But it was well over another year later before he found himself guided to invite her to help him with his work on the Red book. Immediately she realized what this meant: that he was expecting her to keep her spirit so pure, her physical body so unintrusive, her mind filled with so much tenderness that she would be incapable of causing him any harm because “you are taking me into the inner dwelling house of your soul”. Before she ever had a chance to see the Red book for herself, she was already aware-obviously because of what Jung had communicated to her-that it was a being, a personality, in its own right. Instinctively she felt she would far rather never see or touch it than approach it in a way that could come across as disrespectful, aggressive, brusque. And when she arrived at his home for her first day of work, she found it open in his study. Even so, something inside her prevented her from getting too close. The book, for her, was “so full of magic” that she couldn’t even bring herself to sit down right in front of it. And she felt



so unworthy of leaning over it that she would twist her body as well as her eyes almost beyond what was physically possible, like someone trying to bend over to look round a corner. The very last thing she wished was to impose on it in any way-as she gently allowed the pregnant atmosphere of his library to fold her back into the vast “shadows of past ages”. 55 Nothing comes even close, though, to the importance of another passage in Cary de Angulo’s personal records. She has been acknowledging how she is not always able to follow Jung or agree with him intellectually about this and that; how there are some important truths which for him are self-evident facts that she doesn’t have the evidence, and maybe never will, to accept. But strangely and quite mysteriously, as she admits to him, none of this changes a thing. In spite of every apparent pointer to the contrary, she simply knows that as a living and embodied human being he is rightand the reason she knows this is because “Your personality is that ‘Kleinod’ that reappears in the world only now and then. I know that to be so and why it is so.” What she is claiming to know, here, with such certainty can seem so obscure it’s hardly worth pausing for. But, as with so many details surrounding Jung, if we ignore it we’ll throw something infinitely significant away. “Kleinod”, in German, means a precious jewel. And there is no doubting at all what Cary de Angulo is referring to. One of Jung’s most important works, Psychological types, had been published only the year before; and a central thread running through that book is, precisely, the theme of the “Kleinod” or precious jewel. This jewel, as he explains there, is the only thing truly capable of easing humanity’s sufferings. Even more than that, though, it’s the renewer of life and of the sacred. In fact, it’s the creator of the new God.



The trouble is that, thanks to the rationalism of our conscious human world, it gets completely lost. The jewel is divine; is the irrational, impossible solution to humanity’s problems which had been foretold by the prophets long ago. It represents the birth of the redeemer, the saviour. And as Jung goes to the special trouble of pointing out while evoking his own, tireless quest for the impossible: “The saviour is always a figure endowed with magical power who makes the impossible possible”. But for exactly this reason the jewel is rejected by everyone who thinks only in terms of the possible, the rational. Even the simplest of people are completely dumbfounded by it, are left suspicious as well as troubled. To any conventional sense of conscience it’s utterly disgusting. The high priests, too, not only see nothing divine in it. On the contrary, they consider it the most insolent violation of God and just shudder at the sight of it in their total disgust-because even the priests are rationalists through and through. The academics of course dismiss it as lacking any of the qualities that would make it worth studying. The jewellers throw it out as a fake. The worst absurdity of all, though, is that you can’t even try to get rid of it because the police will catch you for possession of illegal goods. And this jewel represents not just the freedom, but also the duty, to be what one is. That’s the reason why people are so frightened of it, so quick to hurl it into the streets and even attack anyone who happens to find it. All that’s left, then, is for it to do its impossible and transformative and seemingly destructive work deep in the collective unconscious. It can be buried, almost forgotten. Or it can be rationalized, which in its way amounts to the very same thing. But it can’t be stopped because this precious jewel is the incarnate Bodhisattva, the Buddha, the Enlightened One; the jewel in the lotus. And as Jung goes on to add:



“The saviour-nature of the jewel is made perfectly clear by the fact that it appears only once in every thousand years. It’s a rare event-this appearance of a saviour, a Saoshyant, a Buddha.” 56 So when Cary de Angulo speaks quietly about him being the precious jewel that “reappears in the world only now and then”, she is not shouting from the rooftops but just talking in private to herself or Jung. And she is describing him as the great saviour. He is the Christ-like cornerstone predicted by the ancient prophets such as Isaiah, before being rejected by the builders in precisely the way Isaiah had foretold; he is a Buddha of the West. Or he is the Saoshyant, an expression Jung himself would later explain by placing it in its proper context of ancient Zoroastrian religion: “It is in the Zoroastrian teaching that every thousand yearswhich simply means an indefinite world period, about half of a month of the great platonic year-a Saoshyant appears (that is a reaper, a saviour), who teaches people a new revelation, a new truth, or renews old truths, a mediator between god and man.” This timeless figure of the Saoshyant is always “called out through the need ofthe time, the emergencies ofthe actual epoch”. Or in other words, each Saoshyant is invariably summoned by a very specific situation which Jung himself defines as a situation of enormous unconsciousness; massive confusion; a collective sense of disorientation when people are at a loss because they don’t have a clue any more what to do. And so these Saoshyants, these wisest of”prophets, appear in times of trouble, when mankind is in a state of confusion, when an old orientation has been lost and a new one is needed”. It’s the simplest of logics: “when God dies, man needs a new orientation. In that moment the father of all prophets, the old wise man, ought to appear to give a new revelation, to give birth to a new truth.”



And nothing might seem easier than to believe that when Cary de Angulo describes Jung himself as one of these saviours or Saoshyants bringing their latest revelation, “the father of all prophets” reborn, this is just the result of her own unbalanced imagination gone wild-except for the fact that it was her rigorous ability to keep a firm grip on her feelings and imaginings which allowed him to trust her in the first place. For all its comforting appealingness, soon we’ll see that to dismiss in this way what she is trying to say would be a complete and utter dead end: a very reasonable dead end but, still, a dead end. As Jung makes sure to emphasize halfway through his detailed account of the “Kleinod” or saving jewel, any normal and reasonable attitude is totally incapable of understanding what the jewel means because there is nothing normal about it at all. “Reason must always seek the solution in some rational, consistent, logical way, which is certainly justifiable enough in all normal situations but is entirely inadequate when it comes to the really great and decisive questions.” We can go along fooling ourselves for a while that our collective reasonableness and rationality will safely carry us through. But “when the rational way proves to be a cul de sac-as it always does after a time-the solution comes from the side it was least expected”. This is the unfailing law of psychology which even psychologists often fail to take the time, or immense trouble, to learn: that eventually the rational solution always fails. And as for the alternative, Jung goes straight on to explain that the other side-the side which is least expected to provide any kind of solution when all else fails, but always does-is the side of the prophets. 57



After all: it was bound to be the case that the only possible approach to the reality of the prophets would always be from the scorned side, the silenced side, the disgusting side of prophecy. At the end of the day the only lasting good is going to come

from the side openly mocked by rationalists, disposed of by Jung scholars, rejected by Jungians, even repulsive to Jung himself.


And here is where we finally arrive-whether in what could be called, quite rightly but very impolitely, our blindness we realize it or not-at what really matters. It’s best not to dabble in the Red book, because one thing is absolutely certain: whatever we believe, whatever we proudly imagine, we’re not going to be allowed to leave with our respectability intact. Of course we can try to fool ourselves individually and collectively, but nothing is going to change that unconscious fact. If we think such a book is meant to help us process new ideas in our busy brains, put out thoughtful words through our busy mouths, we are mightily mistaken. We have to go down much further than that-past even the feelings in our chest, right down to our entrails. As Cary de Angulo understood perfectly well, she was nowhere with the Red book until she was able to experience it forever twisting her bowels. Some things are just too self-evident to be denied. And one of them is that the Red book is a book of prophecy. Commentators have flocked to comment on the undeniable. For instance, it was only when the First World War broke out that Jung started work on what would turn into his Red bookbecause only then did he realize that the stream of horrific visions and dreams he had been experiencing during the months, then



weeks, leading up to the beginning of war weren’t just a sign he was going mad as he originally feared. They had been prophetic. In other words: the Red book’s creation was based, from the very start, on the prophetic power of his own unconscious and on the intensity of his need to explore what this means. Then there is the solemn sequence of quotations from the prophet Isaiah that he chose to write out on its opening page; as its opening page. After he’d finished carefully copying them he made sure to add his own name alongside the precise place, and year, when he wrote them-with the unmistakable implication that he, his work, this book he was just starting, were fulfilments of the ancient prophecies. This is not to mention, at least not yet, the prophetic tone running through the book as a whole. And there is even the title he formally gave it: Liber novus or “The new book”, indicating with all due clarity that a replacement for the New Testament of Christianity had arrived. “Thus”, as its first editor has been bound to admit, “it was presented as a prophetic work”. 58 But then the only thing to do is simply to hold one’s breathand wait for the inevitable. The three quotations from the prophet Isaiah that fill out the first page of Jung’s Red book are also cited by him elsewhere: in Psychological types, the text he was writing at roughly the same time as his much more private work on the R ed book. That’s not all, though, because both Psychological types and the Red book quote each of the three passages in exactly the same sequence even though this is different from their original sequence inside the book of Isaiah itself. Qyite obviously what he has to say about them there, in Psychological types, will have a bearing on why he is using them here. And the fact is that, there, he quotes these passages from



Isaiah ever so specifically to show what happens when people are brought face to face with the “Kleinod” or precious jewelthat very same jewel Cary de Angulo had come to see inside the person of Jung himself. · The three quotations talk about the saviour opening a path through the middle of the desert, about the opening of the eyes of the blind. But first they raise the question of who in the world of humans is going to believe this, or to whom this divine secret could possibly be revealed, because there is nothing about the saviour figure that seems worth respecting or valuing at all. Everyone tries to find some way of hiding from it: sooner or later ends up scorning and despising it, instead. For his own part Jung takes the time to explain, in modern terms as plainly as he can, just what Isaiah means. This rejection that the prophet describes is precisely what happens when people in their total blindness manage to get rid of the impossible saviour or Saoshyant-the father of all prophets-by pushing aside the unexpected and rejecting everything they consider unsuitable, unacceptable, inappropriate. And he warns, in fact prophesies, that the way people nowadays will keep on doing this is by retreating into their collective rationality or rationalistic collectivity. They’ll do it by huddling in the reassuring warmth of their mutual reasonableness and protecting each other, but especially themselves, from the irrational mystery at the heart of the unknown. 59 One might have hoped that some intelligent person, somewhere, would have managed to ·put two and two together and realize what this all means. But nobody has noticed how Jung’s prophecy has already been fulfilled to the letter. Perhaps the most obvious example of what he was predicting is a fifty-page review of the Red book, published by one of the most highly reputed Jungians alive today and instructing the Jungian collectivity in what to think and do. The discipline



of psychology, 1t insists, “belongs to the generality” because psychology’s only real concern is with “universal reason”. This is why each psychologist is not just some private individual but above all is “a member of the scientific community”-and it’s why every psychologist’s solemn duty is to reject the Red book’s appalling irrationality. “We are well advised to dissociate ourselves from the Red book and instead base our work on Jung’s published psychology”, his firmly established body of scientific writings, because “we have not become psychologists in order to listen to revelations”. Not every Jungian, though, has the strength or weakness of character needed to dismiss the Red book out of hand; and this is the point where the real power of that rational collectivity Jung was referring to comes into play, as the irresistible spirit of our time. Also, it’s the point where our own minds become incomparably clever at tricking themselves-because the best way to reject something one finds embarrassing is to make a big fuss about accepting it first before coming up with a fine, long list of reasons for rejecting it later. And so, thanks to the slow growth of consensus, an eminently sensible compromise has already been reached. Jung’s Red book may seem prophetic at first glance, but really it’s not. He can be excused to an extent for believing that those dreams and visions he had were prophetic of the great war to come, but there are far more respectable and rational ways to explain them away instead. The Red book’s tone and language might sound sincerely prophetic to an untrained ear. But in fact they are just rhetorical flourishes: nothing of the slightest substance or significance. As for the fanfare about a “new book”, it certainly does convey a sense of something religious-but the less said about that, inside our progressively secular world, the better.



And to set all these unfortunate issues to rest comes the most indispensable, most decisive argument of all. Jung himself was no prophet but, on the contrary, an anti-prophet because he did the very opposite of meekly accepting a prophetic role as any genuine prophet would or should. Instead, he courageously displays his freethinking modernity by questioning and doubting the whole business of prophecy; arguing with it; fighting it with every fibre of his being. As for the resulting tension, the extraordinary conflict pitting prophet against anti-prophet, it runs through the veins of the Red bookand only goes to prove how completely removed this is from any simple, traditional, old-fashioned prophetic text. 60 And the only question left is how low it’s possible to hold one’s head in shame at the unfathomable ignorance, demonstrated by these statements, about the reality not only of prophecy but also of Jung. First there is that little matter of his prophetic visions and dreams. On top of the very sensible commentators who instinctively know-just like Porphyry-that any talk about prophecy is something for us to leave aside as irrational rubbish and be done with, there is also ·another much more specific phenomenon involved. This is the new orthodoxy rapidly springing up in Jungian circles which insists on abolishing the word “prophetic”, whenever discussing Jung’s visions or dreams, and replacing it with the far safer-sounding term “synchronistic” so there will be no more unpleasant overtones of prophecy or of mysterious glimpses into the future. Those experiences of his during the lead-up to war and the start of his work on the Red book are something we can comfortably explain away now, by turning his own scientific language against him, as synchronicity. And everyone can sigh



a breath of relief at not only getting rid of the disturbance but, in the process, getting rid of Jung. 61 More than two thousand years before his time, Aristotle had already done a fine job of killing off all that superstitious silliness about inspired insights into the future and forcing it into a virtual underworld of its own. Since then, intellectuals have lined up through the centuries to hand him “the palm of honour” for being the person who “first entirely denied the existence of prophetic dreams”. Even Sigmund Freud ended up glad to accept the reality of telepathy along with any number of other things but, whenever faced with the question of whether dreams might be prophetic, couldn’t resist kneeling to the rational authority of Aristotle. With Jung things couldn’t have been more different. Along with a handful of equally rebellious predecessors whose memory he treasured, he not only insisted on accepting the existence of prophetic visions and dreams. He even reserved for them pride of place inside his worldview; and this is a position from which, with his instinctive underworld sensitivities, he never budged or changed. 62 Of course he was extra-cautious about the ways he actually talked about such things. There was always the most delicate balance in what he chose to say or not say, or to whom. But it’s another matter entirely when even the most devoted Jungians end up reverting to the role of little Aristotles. And at the very least, if they do find themselves needing to settle back into that habitual attitude of rational murder which Jung had almost killed himself trying to break, one could at least expect them to be conscious of just what they are doing. Then there is that other issue of Jung struggling so visibly, and tensely, with the role of prophet. The idea that becoming a prophet is some simple-minded affair of flying off into ecstasy by escaping the burdens of



humanity is one of the biggest delusions imaginable. Prophetsreal prophets, genuine prophets-have always been among the most conflicted, burdened people walking the earth. The Old Testament prophets in particular were notorious for opposing rather than meekly accepting their role; for doubting, fighting, resisting, challenging it; for arguing with God. The unbearable tensions between prophetic and antiprophetic aren’t the signs of a failed prophet, or of rejecting the prophetic task. They are among the best proofs of the presence of a true prophet. We may not know this any more, let alone understand it, with our reasonable modern educations or possible Sunday-school brainwashings. But Jung did. As so often, Cary de Angulo hit the nail straight on the head when she wrote to him about the strangely human poignancy in the turmoil of his having tried to the fullest extent possible “to avoid the task the Spirit of the Deep laid upon you, and then when you accepted it” is when the grace finally came. This drama of rejection followed by an always reluctant, if inevitable, acceptance is exactly the reality portrayed and conveyed by the Red book. It’s also precisely the reality of prophecy. 63 And as for the result of that acceptance: it could hardly be more obvious. It’s Jung’s “new book” itsel£ Strange to say, in all the growing discussions about the purpose of his Red book, no one yet seems to have noticed that he stated exactly what he meant by the idea of a “new book” within the last couple of years before he died. He did so in the context of frankly explaining what, throughout his life, had mattered to him most; talking about the battles he was still engaged in from the core of his being because, behind all the scientific appearances and rhetoric, they defined everything in his existence.



Those battles weren’t with other so-called scientists, or even with people working in the field of psychology. They were religious battles against the identical forces of repression that almost two thousand years earlier, with their allegiance to blind faith and belief and dogma, had crushed the Gnostics into non-existence. And it was not as a scientist that he found himself fighting to the very end of his days for the cause of authentic religious experience. Instead it was as an ancient but resurrected Gnostic that, already an old man getting ready to die, he still had the fire in him to challenge the Christian church which mindlessly keeps insisting: “no religious experience please, as the truth has been revealed for all times and God is not supposed to be able to produce a new book after the original edition 2,000 years ago”. Defiantly, almost half a century earlier, Jung had played his part in writing that “new book”-that revised edition, produced by God, of the Holy Bible-even though he never quite saw the possibility or the rightness of making it public. And as for the crucial question of how on earth such a new book is produced by God, the answer couldn’t be simpler. God produces it through his prophets, who do and say not what they want as humans but what the God inside them commands. And so we are brought back to the most basic meaning of the word “prophet”-which doesn’t have anything to do with telling the future. What the word was meant to describe is the person who at any moment in history speaks or writes or communicates faithfully, accurately, without interfering with the process, on behalf of the divine; serves as a mouthpiece to record exactly what the sacred is needing to convey. This is why it’s so important to note what happens right at the heart ofJung’s “new book”, straight after he has been allowed



to witness the great Mysterium or mystery of his own deification. He walks up to the prophet Elijah, kneels at his feet, and Elijah for his part tells him precisely what he has to do: “Above all, write exactly what you see”. Here we have one prophet telling another just what he needs to do as the necessary consequence of accepting his prophetic role. Like any other prophet, he has to write exactly what he has been shown or told. But it also helps to be aware of the way that here, in this scene which just so happens to take place in front of the prophet’s house at the base of the volcano leading down to the underworld, Jung is taking his own place inside a much more specific tradition-one leading back past Dante, past Plato, even past Parmenides to the dimmest beginnings of visionary literature about journeys into the realms of the dead. That’s the tradition about the solitary person who manages to go down all the way to the underworld while still alive, only to be told to return as a messenger or prophet to the world of the living so as to report “exactly what you have seen”. And, naturally, this has a rather uncomfortable implication. On the surface, nothing could be more reasonable than to assume that Jung’s immense labours in accurately documenting every single thing he witnessed or experienced during his archetypal journeys are a living proof of his commendable devotion to the principles of experimental science. Underneath these modern considerations, though, is the very different reality that his commitment to writing everything out with such scrupulous care had nothing to do with science as we understand science. It was simply the result of him accepting his prophetic task, just as it had been accepted by Zoroastrians and Greeks and Gnostics for centuries before his time. 64 Of course that means nothing could be less surprising than the way Jung’s language and tone, in his “new book”, are already



prophetic right from the start. But what’s likely to be a little more surprising is the perfectly logical consequence of this simple fact, provided one cares to look it straight in the eye. For instance, there could be no better or more blatant example of a prophet’s language than his scathing denunciation of people-not just some small group of people but humanity at large, the entire human race-as “blind and deluded”. They “behave like brutes”, ignoring what’s hidden; trampling the past, neglecting the dead. This sweeping condemnation, this blanket denunciation of humanity as a whole, is the classic style of prophetic revelation. Parmenides in his own time, over two thousand years earlier, spoke exactly the same way. And it’s not a question here of rhetorical flourish: the only rhetorical flourish is the ungrounded attempt by commentators to dismiss such revelatory language as no more than a rhetorical flourish. The best one perhaps could hope for would be to find ways of sealing off this Red book from the public, even from the unseasoned eyes of Jungian therapists; of insulating it from his supposedly scientific work. But here is where we come to the heart of the problem-because Jung’s prophetic language isn’t restricted to the Red book. It never was. On the contrary: he cries and complains repeatedly about the blindness of humanity throughout his scientific work. And at the conclusion to one of his maturest achievements in the field of psychology he goes well beyond the language of his “new book”, portraying the whole of humanity as literally crazy with inflation. But it’s still the same basic message, the same intensely urgent tone, the same choice of words. “The masses are blind brutes”. The inflated collective consciousness of humanity “is incapable of learning from the past, incapable of understanding contemporary events, and incapable of drawing right conclusions about the future”.



As for trying to reason with that collective consciousness-to work together in a constructive fashion on some healthy rational approach-nothing could be more futile. Nothing for Jung could be more pointless, because it actually hypnotizes itself “and therefore cannot be argued with. It inevitably dooms itself to calamities that must strike it dead”. 65 Up until the Red book’s publication it was easy enough to skip quickly over such passages, in spite of their desperate tone or rather because of it, and turn a blind eye. But the reality is that if you scratch away the scientific fac;ade of his psychological work, behind the veneer you will find Jung the prophet everywhere. And this is not even to take into account the things he chose to keep out of sight or deliberately hide away-such as the extent of his indebtedness to the prophetic works of William Blake. 66 But what matters most is the disturbance caused by this book’s undesirability, regardless of whether people rush out excitedly to welcome it with open arms or not. It’s a deadly virus; a massive earthquake capable of shaking every rational edifice built up on the work of Jung to the ground; the eruption of something way down inside us which is incalculably destructive of all the tricks we use not only for understanding Jung but to understand ourselves. This is the honest reason why so many people sense his Red book as a danger, however they try to negotiate their fear. What really scares them is not that it reveals a side of Jung quite unrelated to his accepted psychology or science-even at odds with them. The truly frightening thing is that it forces us to view the task of doing science, or being a psychologist, with the eyes of a prophet.


When the corn disappears is when the disaster and the rage arrive-and this is just what has happened, will happen, with the losses of our knowledge about prophecy. We have come to believe it’s all about telling the future. But that’s the least part of prophecy because the most important function of prophets, the function from which everything else springs, has always been their ability to tell the past. Even the best-known texts of the Bible show how a prophet is someone with miraculous insight into what has happened already-not what will happen. And in ancient Greek tradition, too, nothing could possibly be plainer. For a prophet like Empedocles, prototypical psychologist, the first and foremost task was to find the answer to what originally went wrong with humanity that made everything the way it is. The business of prophecy was to enter an ecstatic state of reality that lays bare the “ancient crimes” for which, in our supposedly normal existence, we are still being punished and tormented today. Already at the very start of Homer’s Iliad the prophet stands out as the one indispensable figure who can look into the unseen and see who offended the sacred, when, how; what’s behind all the sickness and suffering and death unleashed because someone, somewhere, violated divine law. It’s the same again with Cassandra, the crazy seer. She was instantly recognized as



a prophetess not because she was able to say what’s going to come in the future, but because her prophetic insight exposed her to the horror of the murders hidden in the past. And one oflife’s ironies is that sometimes, in spite of himself, even a rationalistic fool like Aristotle will end up getting something right. About the famous prophet Epimenides-who in a state ofincubation used to enter a kind of awareness that was neither sleep nor waking so he could make his way down, just like Jung, to the underworld and have encounters there with divine beings- he managed to report the essential. “He didn’t prophesy about things that will happen in the future but about things that already happened in the past and are unseen, unknown”. 67 This primordial past is the domain of the prophet as guardian of creation: preserver of nature and protector of life. It’s where prophets may have to stick their heads out of now and then, so they can offer some prophecy about the future, because there is no knowing the future without the most intimate knowledge about the past; without first learning how to move freely among the creatures of the past with their untold stories of beauties and horrors, creatures which most people even in their wildest dreams would never imagine are still alive. As a prophet Jung intuited this perfectly, which is why he describes in the Red book what made a prophet of him by using just the words he did: “And so I became a prophet because I found delight in the primordial, in the forest and the wild animals”. Gently and so eloquently he says it all-that to become a prophet means returning deep into the past until you are brushing against the root of yourself, your primordial beginning and ultimate point of origin. But a prophet whose words are noticed and understood is not much of a prophet, because the role of prophets is always to state what the collective awareness of people is not yet able to grasp.



And sure enough, Jung’s own statements don’t stand a chance because they run so completely contrary to the modern horror of us progressive little Fausts rushing to throw ourselves off the nearest cliff into another non-existent future. It seems only too obvious: his “new book” or testament must be all about the dramatically new and radically improved psychological future we can now look forward to at the solemn dawning of a new age. But so much obviousness can be quite a hindrance to seeing what the Red book is really about. The wonders and terrors it contains are the terror and wonder of our own past, with the dead hanging round our necks. As for the future, at times he is willing to bring us to its brink so we can contemplate the horrors that lie ahead if we can’t face the horror that lies behind us; in us. And he also states as clearly as he can: leave the future alone. It’s none of your business, never was. As for what our business is then, if we are not in the rationally acceptable position of being able to improve our own future and interfere with the future of others by creating the world we want-this is the question that propels Jung into one of the most desperate sections of the Red book. His answer is that our only business now as true humans is to give up all our reasoning and rationalizing and go searching, instead, for magic. It’s to sacrifice our cravings for comfort, to abandon our illusions of science and submit to the incomprehensible, to become Christs by letting ourselves be crucified all alone. It’s to face the need to return, in full consciousness, to the primordial point of origin where our own will is suddenly suspended and the mind stops still; to accept the unbearable tension of being transformed, inside the thoughtless awareness of this present moment, into what we always have been. And there is one magical ending to that tension-although you can count on it coming, absurdly, irrationally, from the one



place you would have least expected. As for what that resolution is, that saving release: Jung explains it in the most deceptively simple of terms. ”Always it’s something primordially ancient, and for that very reason it’s something new-because whenever something left behind long ago comes back again into the changed world of today, then it’s new. To give birth, inside an age, to the primordially ancient is creation. This is what it means to produce the new; and that’s what saves me. Salvation is the solution of the problem, the resolution of the task. The task is to give birth to the old in a new time.” In other words: contrary to every single assumption injected into our forward-looking minds, the only thing that’s new is what’s most ancient. Everything else is nothing but a bluff, a distraction, a waste of time. And far worse, every time we very reasonably fool ourselves into believing we know the future we need, we are blocking our true future and wrecking what needs to be. From any normal or rational point of view, we look into the past to lose ourselves in nostalgia and sentimentality; look into the future to create what’s new. But, in reality, we lose ourselves by chasing the future and create what’s new by returning into the past. And without the prophets who are willing to take us back to the primordial reality of what we are, we have no future left. Everything else is just a fake, an illusion, a waste of life, because the only real and lasting creation consists of consciously reincarnating what’s most ancient-not even of having to update or streamline or modernize it but of importing it exactly as its essence dictates. Our modern, updated, streamlined world will take care of the rest. That’s how our ancestors, whom we may have forgotten although they haven’t forgotten us, are respected and welcomed;



is how a genuine historical continuity is assured; is how we stop being passive victims of history but, on the contrary, can consciously bring the past into the present for the sake of the future. And it’s the shock of that direct encounter between modern and old which, like the shock of cold water meeting molten iron, creates the new. 68 This is one of the most revealing parts of the Red bookcreated with its archaic script, its Latin quotations, its phrases taken from ancient Greek-not just because it tells the secret of prophecy but because it states what Jung’s “new book” is. As he already tried telling Sigmund Freud a few years earlier, the only way to describe the birth of psychology at the dawn of the twentieth century was in terms of reincarnation: as the act of reincarnating the ancient Gnostic wisdom, Sophia, in a modern age. As it happens, even the act of giving birth to the ancient in the new is a Gnostic process. And that act of reincarnation was devotedly inscribed in, portrayed inside, respectfully embodied as the R ed book itself. But, of course, if we wanted to limit this process of reincarnation to some unusual writing inside a single book we once again would be sadly mistaken. And if we wanted to believe that Cary de Angulo was just indulging her personal imagination when she looked on Jung himself as the precious jewel-the Saoshyant or saviour, the father of all prophets who appears in the world by reincarnating now and then for the sake of humanity-this would be because we haven’t yet understood how to read Carl Jung. Prophets are quite used to hiding their truth out in the open, like some priceless jewel at the marketplace, because they know that our reasonable expectations will make us brush it aside. And this is precisely what Jung does in his Red book, unobserved.



Time and time again, in the text itself, he addresses Philemon as his father; time after time, Philemon refers to him as his son. But at the top of the single most famous picture in the Red book-of Philemon with his kingfisher wings spread out-Jung has clearly written out an explanation of the painting in ancient Greek. Propheton paterpofyphilos Philemon means “Father of prophets, beloved Philemon”. Again, on the beautiful mural displaying the same image which he painted upstairs at his private retreat in Bollingen, he added almost the same dedication: also in Greek, also at the top. This time, though, his wording was a little more specific. Instead of the familiar word pater or “father” he used the much rarer expression propator-a technical term for the primordial principle hovering behind the whole of creation, the incomprehensible spirit of the depths, which appropriately enough he had taken straight from the ancient Gnostic texts he studied and loved so much. Philemon ton propheton propator means “Philemon, primordial father of the prophets”. And just below Philemon’s left wing Jung has conveniently added the Latin alchemical text in which the spiritual father insists that he and his son are one. Jung is Philemon’s son, Philemon is his father, and Philemon is the beloved father of the prophets. There is no need to be some mathematical genius to see where this is leading. In public, Jung could deny he was prophet as much as he wanted for the sake of keeping his secret secret. But that’s only because, in the privacy of his own retreat as well as in the mystery of his unpublished “new book”, he was able to state silently and ever so plainly who he was: a prophet, son of the prophets’ beloved father. 69 After all, this is exactly how prophets speak for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear-openly stating without seeming to state a thing. And what separates those who take note of the




obvious from those who miss it is what distinguishes those who read Jung with their expectations from those who read him. You will note that he doesn’t describe Philemon as “father of the prophet” but is very careful to call him “father of the prophets”. And as for who those other prophets are, often in future years he will list the names of his elder brothers. They are Zarathustra, Buddha, Christ, Mani, Muhammad. Or rather, because father and son are really one, it would be better to say that the primordial saviour incarnated three thousand years ago as Zarathustra and since then “he has been Christ, he has been Muhammad, he has been Mani. He went and he came, he died and was born again.” He-the most ancient father of all prophets who reincarnates whenever needed in the shape of the son-is “the one that goes and the one that comes”, returning “only now and then”. Periodically he arrives again in the world of today, a “rare phenomenon”, the old reappearing in the new. Or according to the language of a passage from the Bhagavad gita which Jung inscribed in his Red book right alongside the picture he had painted of Philemon, as a miniature commentary on it: “Whenever there is a decline of the law and an increase of iniquity, then I put forth myself. For the rescue of the pious and for the destruction of the evildoers, for the establishment of the law I am born in every age.” That’s not even to mention the different lineages of brothers, sisters too-the rest of the prophets and saviours, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, avatars and Saoshyants, all inwardly supporting and reinforcing each other down through the ages. 70 And among them, prophetic son of his prophetic father, Jung discreetly lived with the secret suffering of knowing that he was one.


Ten years or so went by from the time when Jung was snatched down into the underworld. Conventional wisdom would have it that everything in his life had returned pretty much to normal. He had regained his balance, nicely integrated the experience, and was back to being a model of serenity: solid rock and example to all. The reality was a little different. Years earlier he had gone in search of his soul, then found her. Now she wouldn’t leave him alone. During the first week of 1922 he was noting down the discussions between them. She is explaining that she is totally in charge now. She rules him because she serves him. Or rather, she doesn’t serve him personally but serves his calling; his mission. And when he nervously asks what that mission is, her answer is simple. It’s to bring a new religion into the worldthen proclaim it. All Jung can do, for his part, is complain. The one issue he complains about more than anything else is, very humanly, his inability to sleep: he works during the day but can’t get any rest at night. And she is open enough to admit that already for a long while she deliberately has been keeping him awake, interfering with his sleep, because there are far more important things he needs to be attending to than his day-to-day chores.



Of course myths have to exist, in particular around a personality as commanding as Jung’s. People close to him were keen on maintaining the soporific notion that his sleep was blessedly sound, miraculously deep, because no one could be more at peace with the unconscious than he was. That’s only a part of the truth, though. The fact is that as soon as he started writing, young or old, the first thing likely to go out of the window was his sleep. When he was meant to write but didn’t, he got sick to the point where he couldn’t get any rest; when he did write, the process was often so intense that he couldn’t sleep either. From the moment that the daimon inside him took over, whatever its name, his nights were no longer his own. 71 One of the blessings that did stay with him during those early years of the 1920s was the chance to talk about his experiences honestly, directly, intelligently with the woman he had come to trust so much-Cary de Angulo. On a winter’s day in January 1924 they sat together. And this is what, based on her memory of their discussion, she would later write down with that quality of preciseness he valued her for so highly: Jung, she noted, informed her he had just dreamed the previous night that she was to help him with the Red book. Faithful to his dream, he already had decided to hand everything over and explain the entire material to her as completely as he could so that she and she alone would be able to understand each of his ideas from “the foundation”. He described how painful the process of writing, even of painting, was; how mad it all seemed; the difficulties he found himself surrounded by. And in her meticulous style she went on to record his account of what was really happening with the Red book, reciting his own explanations back to him. “There were various figures speaking, Elias, Father Philemon, etc. but all appeared to be phases of what you thought ought to be called ‘the master’. You were sure that this latter



was the same who inspired Buddha, Mani, Christ, Mahometall those in fact who may be said to have communed with God. But the others had identified with him. You absolutely refused to. It could not be for you, you said, you had to remain the psychologist-the person who understood the process. I said then that the thing to be done was to enable the world to understand the process also without their getting the notion that they had the master caged as it were at their beck & call. They had to think of him as a pillar of fire perpetually moving on, and forever out of human grasp. Yes, you said it was something like that. Perhaps it cannot yet be done. As you talked I grew more and more aware of the immensity of the ideas which are filling you. You said they had the shadow of eternity upon them and I could feel the truth of it.” Overwhelmed, she added that she didn’t see herself as being in any way capable of really helping him with the gigantic task he had taken on.72 Of the various names here, many will already be more or less familiar: Philemon father of prophets, the prophet Elias or Elijah, the other prophet Mahomet or Muhammad, Buddha and Christ. But the one name that, strangely enough, may sound strange is the name of Mani. I say “strangely enough” because, of all these names, in a way his almost deserves to be known best. Jung, for sure, knew perfectly well who Mani was. He had been an extraordinary prophet and healer and painter, born in Babylonia about two hundred years after Christ, who founded an immensely sophisticated world religion known as the Manichaean religion which was to take root from the western edges of Europe right across Asia into China-before being systematically wiped out by Christians, Buddhists, Zoroastrians as perhaps the most potent and terrifying form of Gnosticism that ever existed.



Coming on for two thousand years before the new-age movement even saw the light of day, Mani had not only claimed he was bringing together in his own mission the most essential teachings of Buddha; of Christ; of every other prophet, including Zarathustra, who had lived before him. He also proclaimed himself as the fulfiller and completer, as the one true successor and superseder of all their wisdoms: as the Seal of Prophets. At the same time, and very consciously in the mould of older figures like Empedocles, Mani presented himself not just as a saviour and prophet and healer-but as a scientist, too, with a detailed insight into the workings of the world and of the human psyche which only the direct experience granted through revelation can ever hope to provide. Carl Jung, for his own part, was fascinated by Mani’s amazingly intricate explanations of the physical world; followed the unearthing of Manichaean manuscripts, by German archaeologists at Turfan in Central Asia, with riveted attention; warmly praised Mani for his skills not just as the founder of a world religion but as a wonderful painter. 73 And here he is, late on a January afternoon in Zurich, comparing himself to a series of these prophets and saviours. Understandably enough, for a minute you might have started wondering what on earth he is up to-referring to himself in one and the same breath right alongside an entire list of redeemers, prophets, fathers of prophets. Then comes the word to conjure with, the golden key to our peace of mind: identify. And it only takes a moment for everything to fall neatly into place. All those prophets whom Jung might seem at first glance to be comparing himself to had made the crucial mistake of identifying themselves with “the master”. He, on the other hand, “absolutely refused to. It could



not be for you, you said, you had to remain the psychologist-the person who understood the process.” The magic spell has been broken. Once again, with his grand gesture of disidentifi.cation we can breathe easily and sleep even easier. Here he is, once more, the man we know and trust and feel safe with: the pragmatic psychologist, the sensible scientist who with a sceptical wave of his hand can leave all that prophetic nonsense behind. But of course, if you pay attention, you will see that no spell was broken. And Jung has left absolutely nothing behind. That act of disidentification has done nothing whatsoever to get rid of “the master”. On the contrary, it brings us up very close to a man aching to help people understand how much they needed to get rid of any notion that “they had the master caged as it were at their beck and call”. What he wanted was for them to let him be free, allow him to move freely-which is why Jung and Cary de Angulo both found themselves discussing this same master a week later and agreeing to describe him as a titanic being who, striding across the universe, transcends the whole world. And here, it’s all about learning to see him “as a pillar of fire perpetually moving on” just outside of human reach. Needless to say, this pillar of fire isn’t some image arbitrarily picked out of nowhere. Biblically, it was the mystery of the divine presence itself: the living God who, every night, would appear to the chosen people to guide them through the desolation of the wilderness. But, significantly enough, the pillar of light or fire also happens to have been a symbol of immense importance in Manichaean tradition as well as for Jung-symbol of the complete human being, of the perfected prophet. 74



And as for Jung himself, what we are left with is not the reductive theorizing of some calculating psychologist. Instead, nothing remains except for the image of a man left face to face with the sheer immensity of living directly underneath the shadow of eternity; and in those eternal darknesses there are so many impossible things just waiting to be done by the being who, as Cary de Angulo realized, is a jewel precisely because he doesn’t identify with being a jewel. In other words: if you care to look at what was happening, are interested enough to read sentence by sentence what our text is saying, you will see what the effect of Jung’s psychological disidentification actually is. It’s the same story as before-all over again. It’s not about disposing of the archetypes and making them vanish. It’s about consciously setting them free; about helping them as only a human can, through the non-inflation of non-identification, to carry on with doing their real work in the world. What might have sounded such utter heresy, because it flies straight in the face of every reasonable therapeutic mentality, is no heresy at all. Disidentifying from the archetypal realities was never just about keeping our human psychology uncontaminated and pure. It’s also about keeping the archetypal realities pure and uncontaminated by us. Mani, Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, Zarathustra: they all did the best they possibly could. The only problem is that even to accept and identify with the role of prophet or saviour is to corrupt it. And if you still want to think I am talking heresy I’ll simply have to prove you wrong by quoting from one of Jung’s most famous seminars. “Zarathustra was a saviour, the great teacher, just as good as Christ or Mani or Muhammad or any of the great prophets. But if a human being identifies with that figure, there is an



admixture of human psychology, and it is due to this mixture with human imperfection that the face of Zarathustra appears like the face of a devil … is no longer pure.” 75 This, if you like, is Jungian psychology not from the merely human but from the sacred point of view. And now, if we dare to watch, we can start to see the grand trick being played out behind all the fine-sounding talk about being a humble psychologist; nothing but a scientist. The human work of learning how to disidentify from the archetypes was always inspired by something more than purely human. From the very start, Jungian therapy was never meant to be just another therapy in the modern sense of being about me and me and me: it was about the therapeia of serving, and caring for, the divine. Behind their exterior there is far more to Jung’s professional role as a psychologist, his respectable scientific job, than meets the eye. They stop him from identifying, getting inflated, puffed up. They allow him to stay grounded in this world, modest, objective, critical especially of himself-and do the work of a true mystic. This is a paradox we have been forbidden in the West to remember, hardly allowed even to understand. It’s a paradox that his friend Henry Corbin was to become well acquainted with, thanks to those Sufis who had kept the teachings ofEmpedocles and other Presocratics alive in the East. Mysticism alone is just useless gush; but, trained to work together, mystical experience and a scientific attitude become the two wings of a single bird. Someone full of mystical beliefs can perhaps at best be considered a third~rate mystic, just as a scientist full of reasonable assumptions and firm convictions is a scientific fool. Real mysticism is to abandon any possible identification and, from moment to moment, surrender everything-which is why scepticism is the most mystical attitude of all.



One has to be infinitely cautious, though; be endlessly sceptical about one’s scepticism; constantly remember to doubt one’s own doubt. People who like to call themselves sceptics are mostly just superficial compromisers who settle on a little patch of scepticism that attracts them because they are afraid of going further. But true scepticism, followed to its logical conclusion, grows into what Jung himself called the “greatest doubt” and leads straight to the secret oflife. 76 In other words his famous psychology, his much vaunted science, had a mystical goal all along. Here, more than anywhere else, is where the scientist son is reunited and perfectly conjoined with the mystical father. Or to state the matter just a little less discreetly, his science and psychology are serving a prophetic purpose-carrying the great work of prophecy forward, leading the lineage of prophets and saviours one step further into the future. And that brings us right back again to his discussion with Cary de Angulo. There happens to be something in what he tells her that anybody nowadays is almost bound to skip over without noting its significance. In fact only someone as familiar with Gnostic or Manichaean literature as Jung himself was would ever recognize it. But it’s not just a question of what he says. It’s even a matter of the subtleties inside the way he says it. At a certain point he makes the impressive claim that the supreme master inspiring his work on the Red book “was the same who inspired Buddha, Mani, Christ, Mahomet-all those in fact who may be said to have communed with God”. He was unlike all those older prophets, though, because in one crucial respect he has left them behind: has learned the absolute need no longer to identify. In other words he is just like them on one fundamental level and on another, equally important level has gone beyond them.



But what’s not nearly so obvious is that this very same double claim lies right at the heart of Manichaean as well as Gnostic traditions. In a certain sense it even defines them. First, the newest prophet in the latest generation takes care to list the names of his major predecessors: there was a general fondness for listing the names of prophets in groups of four. He also has to make sure to state that the source of his own inspiration is the same as, is identical to, the source that inspired all those who came before. And then he is confronted with the need to explain how he has gone beyond every one of his distinguished predecessorshow he is not just continuing their work but taking it to another level altogether by adding his own, unique contribution. That’s what it means to be carrying the lineage of prophets to the next stage, to fulfil and complete their work at the same time as totally transforming it: to become, in oneself, the Seal of Prophecy. This is just what Mani did, for his own time and age. Perhaps I should mention that two of the ways he chose to advance beyond those who had gone before him were by deciding to paint his revelations, as well as write them; and by consciously coming to grips with the fact that the major culprits always responsible for destroying any revealed religion by already subverting it within the space of a single generation are not, as one might suppose, its obvious competitors or enemies. It’s the devoted apostles, followers, disciples. 77 And in repeating the identical formality this is exactly what Jung does, too. Even while outwardly he is presenting himself as a psychologist, inwardly he is doing something else. At the same precise moment as he seems to be announcing how modern he is, he is revealing how ancient he is in his deepest mode of thought. He is talking just the same way Mani did. He is speaking as a Gnostic.



It still might sound a little strange to hear someone pointing to such an intimate connection between one of the most influential figures in the twentieth century and a forgotten heretic called Mani. But the fact is that, whether we want to notice or not in this record of a winter’s conversation, the early 1920s would find Jung taking the pages right out of Mani’s book: reading straight from Mani’s script. And it’s no coincidence that four years earlier, at the start of the year 1920, he had a major dream in Tunisia about one particular book-the book which he came to realize would be “absolutely essential” in giving him the power to confront, and ultimately master, the overwhelming daimonic forces of the unconscious. It was a book which, in his dream, gave him the extraordinary sense that “this was ‘my book’, that I had written it”. If he could only hold on to that sense, he knew he would find inside its pages whatever strength he needed for commanding and befriending the archetypal realities beyond his conscious reach. But as for what this book, Jung’s own book, looked like: with its magnificent calligraphy on milky-white parchment it wasn’t written in a European script, not even in Arabic. “Rather, it looked to me like the Uigurian script of West Turkestan, which was familiar to me from the Manichaean fragments from Turfan.” 78 This book of his, so uniquely written not just for him alone but by him alone-the book of his own psychology which would allow him to understand and even make friends with the unconscious-is at the same time the writing produced by Mani and Mani’s followers. Once again, the language of Jung is the language of Mani. As for that intricate script he has been shown, the script of the unconscious so many others will soon be trying so hard to decipher: it isn’t European or Arab or African.



In its quintessential form it’s the script of ancient heretics; the calligraphy of the Manichees. Exactly the same as emerges with such revealing detail in that discussion between him and Cary de Angulo, the prophet Mani with his searing teaching about light and darkness has got deep underneath his skin. And in spite of every appearance to the contrary, Jung’s magnificently scripted psychology wasn’t some solitary creation. On the contrary, it was simply the new religion that his soul once hinted he would be bringing to the world-the latest, most updated, most freshly reincarnated method of salvation. For us today, in spite of his earlier comments to Freud about creating a religion which would replace Christianity, nothing could be more tempting than to dodge or reject outright that terrifying statement by Jung’s soul about a new religion and its proclamation. But while this may be the way we treat our souls, it’s not the way he treated his; and, in reality, some things don’t ever go away or become unsaid. 79 He definitely might, almost certainly would, reject the literal and crude interpretation of what she does say-because the entire point of his psychology was to work towards finding its innermost meaning. This is precisely the reason why, in line with his Gnostic dedication to direct experience, he would never be the founder of some cult with set dogmas or creeds. After all, even Christ never had any intention of creating an outer religion. But it’s also why he would repeatedly tell those who worked with him that they and he belonged to an “invisible church”: to a “secret church”, free of any outer rules, which exists behind and beyond every visible or formal institution. 80 And so Jung would present himself to the world as a man with a mission but no mission; as a mystic without being a



mystic. He would be the bringer of a message but no message, in the same way that he was both a prophet and a saviour without being either. As for his whole psychology, far from serving to dispose of prophetic traditions it was itself the purest of offerings at the altar of prophecy. And, although he felt unable to say very much except to the closest or most trusted of colleagues, in reality his science was exactly the same as Mani’s science-or Empedocles’ science. It, too, was prophecy and revelation through and through: a science designed to let the presence of God become even more present by allowing the prophetic role to fulfil itself, without any contamination or identification, in the modern world.


Right at the start of the R ed book Jung states that according to the spirit of this time there can be no justification, or defence, for the things he is going to say. No, that’s not good enough and I need to be more precise. In the very first sentence of the Red book he admits that-if he was to speak in the spirit of this time-nothing whatsoever and absolutely no one would be able to justify the message he has to proclaim. “Verkunden” is his word for proclaim; but it’s also a word that means, as it most certainly does here, both preach and prophesy. And so, from the opening sentence, Jung is presenting himself as a prophet with a mission and a message to convey. In the same spirit, according to the same logic, I realize there can be no possible justification for documenting his unadorned experience of the relationship between prophecy and sciencebecause this is the very last thing that on the surface of our collective existence we want to hear. But here, based on his own exquisitely consistent accounts which stretch across almost fifty years, is what he said: The spirit of the depths wanted him. Even though he had the personal and overpowering sense of needing to keep going deeper inside himself, the reality is that it was needing him.



It tore him away from everything including any reassurance of sanity-shattered all his childish attachment to worldly wisdom and science. Next, it forced him to serve as its mouthpiece and speak on its behalf; overcame his resistance through the mystery of its grace; compelled him to write what it was so urgently and timelessly needing to convey to the world of humans. “Glad” every day “to have escaped from death”, he was helpless in the face of this primordial spirit’s overwhelming power: amazed it hadn’t crushed him already. And he had absolutely no choice. If he held off on writing down what needed recording, refused to say what had to be said, automatically he’d be robbed of his ability to speak on behalf of anything or anybody else; robbed of any joy; robbed of any life. His one and only hope was that just by obeying, by writing down exactly everything he had been shown and whatever he’d been told, he would be released from his ordeal-freed from the prophetic task. But he wasn’t freed at all. And slowly he learned the central lesson already learned by that favourite figure he was always glad to keep in mind: Odysseus. After each ordeal comes the next ordeal. There was a part of him, the human part we all know so well, that simply couldn’t stand what he was being forced to do. The crude, raw reality of having a prophetic mission turned his stomach; revolted him. with its repulsive aura of unconscious pretentiousness. As for the grand prophetic language of what he was being made to write, its bombastic archetypal style, working with it was like sheer agony and torture. He knew very well he had his message and mission, his “Botschaft” as he called it in German, which he was needing to bring to the world: the prophetic task he had been given by the spirit of the depths and that he soon came to realize, beyond



any doubt or question, would never be taken away. He was perfectly aware that trying to abandon it wouldn’t just make his life worthless. It would kill him. But he also knew the language he was using for this message wasn’t the right one-and he was going to have to find another. So, gradually, he started understanding that to stand any chance at all of getting the message across he was going to have to make his way back from the world of the depths to the human side of reality. He would need to find solid ground again under his feet, which in his case would mean returning to the world of science with its seemingly solid methods; its firm conclusions. In other words, the next ordeal was to be a task of translation: was to set about translating his prophetic message into the language of science.81 Of course he wasn’t the first person to have to complete this archetypal return from the realms of the gods, and the dead, to the land of the living. Two and a half thousand years earlier both Parmenides and Empedocles found themselves having to adapt, after their own underworld journeys, to living and speaking again as more or less ordinary people by very consciously re-adopting the normal human conventions-above all to translating their experiences of a reality beyond anything human into a familiar, everyday language which anyone could understand and which would contribute to the science of their times. But one of the points most worth noting about their returns from the world of the gods to what Jung would later describe as the “human side” is that this wasn’t something they had to try and work out by themselves. Qyite to the contrary: very visibly, in Parmenides’ case, it was the divine that took care of everything. And for Empedocles, together with Parmenides, the one decisive factor that made it possible for them to return effectively



as prophets to the world of humans was the divine reality called metis. Metis is the ability to adapt, translate, shift shape; is the instinctive inner wisdom that can steer a consistent course for us across the constantly changing waters of existence; is the infinite subtlety and alertness that’s needed to make the impossible transition successfully, faithfully, exactly from one level of reality to another; is the cunning of knowing how to keep concealed and disguised while revealing no more than is appropriate at any moment. Above all, though, metis is the supreme art of trickery and deception in a world that’s full of deceit and tricks. Naturally to us modern, well-adapted humans nothing could sound more absurd than to think of someone’s successful return to the warm and safe and solid world of humans as a deception. But that’s only because in our collective, inflated, unquestioning identification with the human condition we never experience what it actually means to fall under the archetypal spell of becoming human. Neither have we probably ever experienced what it feels like to be snatched away from all that’s human by a power far greater than oneself and forced to leave the world of humani_ty behind-before eventually being forced to return. This return is never an easy matter. And to understand just a little of what the process involves, it’s enough to think of that mythical figure who already was so familiar even before the time of Parmenides or Empedocles. When Odysseus finds his exhausted way back, at long last, to the seemingly safe and solid world of his own home he doesn’t rush straight ahead to embrace his wife. Every single detail is going to need a great deal of calculation. And the first thing he does after his enormous sufferings and losses, his horrific aloneness, his journey into the underworld as well as all his other magical ordeals, is to face the next ordeal.



Now he has to disguise himself and, of course with divine assistance, pretend to be a beggar. For Empedocles, as well as Parmenides, the situation is just the same. As they both keep emphasizing, and as somehow keeps slipping the keen minds of their modern commentators, the use they are going to have to make of human language will be sheer cloaking and deception and disguise. It couldn’t possibly be otherwise-because as soon as you come back to the human side and start talking to people in their own language, the only thing they are going to hear is the hum of their familiar words and concepts. All they are going to see when they look at you is their own humanness and mundanity reflected back to them, which is simply to say that your translation was a great success. You have translated so well from the language of the dead into its mirror opposite, the language of the living, it never once occurs to them that all the time you are actively translating from something else. You don’t have to trick or mislead anyone, because people are so excited at the sight of their own reflection that they are delighted to deceive themselves. And this, unnoticed, is just what happened with Carl Jung. Almost the funniest part of it all is that there have been several times when popular writers suggested he was no ordinary scientist but-on the contrary-nothing but a prophet in disguise masquerading as a scientist. Of course the reactions haven’t been nearly as amusing, or amused, and those who claim to know and understand most about Jung will have absolutely none of it. If he says he is a scientist then he is simply a scientist and that’s the end of the story. What’s even funnier, though, is the way Jung lays his own cards so plainly on the table but so few people care to look. It’s not just a matter, either, of those explicit comments he makes towards the end of his life about how the whole of his



work consisted of one single need: the need to translate the prophetic message he had been given by the spirit of the depths into the language of science. There are also the equally clear statements he made when he was far younger, going out of his way to explain that “today the voice of one crying in the wilderness must necessarily strike a scientific tone if the ear of the multitude is to be reached”. Needless to say, this voice of one crying in the wilderness is a direct appeal to language once used by the prophet Isaiah-and this comment ofJung’s could hardly be more to the point, considering his own awareness that today any real prophets or saviours who announce themselves to the public as prophets or saviours will be destroyed by our modern world in a matter of weeks. 82 In other words: the prophet who puts on the princely, or beggarly, disguise of being a scientist isn’t a failed prophet but an extremely intelligent prophet. And so at long last we arrive again at the same passage I already touched on earlier, which has been buried under more than its fair share of random misunderstandings; wilful misinterpretations; arbitrary mistranslations. But, as Empedocles already said a long while ago, what’s worth mentioning once is worth mentioning twice. This is the passage dating from the 1st of October 1957, when Jung was talking openly at Bollingen about those original experiences of his from which first the Red book and then all his later work would flow. A question had happened to come up about the enormous difference in style between his published works-which of course didn’t include the Red book at that time-and the spontaneous accounts he was willing to offer of his dreams or inner life. And his answer, as recorded by his secretary, was to talk about lava. Those dreams and inner experiences, he explains, are the primordial substance underlying everything. But to describe his published books he evokes the image of a creator god busy



producing order out of chaos and explains them as simply an attempt to shape this primordial material, this seething volcanic lava, into some kind of orderly cosmos. Then he goes straight on to add that “it was the passion and intensity inside this fire, it was the stream of lava itself which is the force that compelled whatever happened to happen. And so, completely naturally, everything fell into its own proper place and order.” But almost as if he knows he won’t be heard, and in the dim hope of preventing any misunderstanding, he takes the trouble a moment later to repeat himself: “I wanted to achieve something in my science, and then I bumped into this stream of lava, and then it brought everything into order.” We have already seen how well that attempt to avoid any misunderstandings worked out-and how the only two people who took it upon themselves to translate this passage both totally distorted its meaning. But, again, nothing is more important than to understand that these mistranslations aren’t just a matter of accidents or technical errors. And it’s time now to be a little clearer about what’s really involved. What Jung is actually doing is, in one fell swoop, cancelling out our human language as well as all our normal understandings of ourselves or the world around us. We assume we are the ones who shape and create some order out of the primitive lava. Always we talk not only to others, but also to ourselves, as if we are the ones responsible for making something out of the rough rock and stone of existence. But it’s all done through us, for us. In fact we don’t do a thing because, thanks to a divine process we can’t or won’t acknowledge, it’s the sacred that takes care of everything. And in case you want to argue with this as any normal human has to, in case you feel the need to misinterpret it as any rational



person is obliged to do, I will quote another passage-from a seminar Jung had given over twenty years earlier-to show how far I am from making anything up. He had been talking, in the seminar, about the archetypal reality of the unconscious and how ambiguous it is. It’s the source of life but also the source of all destruction and death. And our own skill as humans is what determines, or at least seems to determine, whether we are able successfully to navigate a course for ourselves over the turbulent waters of the unconscious. This- he explains-is why every single religious system in existence has been built, with such care, as a ship which will offer people the specific kind of wisdom they so deeply need for navigating a path through the elementary dangers of life. But then, sure enough, he comes to the crux at the heart of the paradox. Qyite obviously, unquestionably, it’s the skill of humans that brings everything together and creates such sophisticated systems. And yet the very obviousness of this is, precisely, the biggest trap. To believe that we, ourselves, bring anything together is just a delusion. To claim that our own skills are responsible for producing such systems, or creating anything else, is to make the most hopelessly inadequate statement. It’s nothing but our thoughtlessly conventional human language-“the ordinary language” we use in assuming that we are the inventors of things, that Moses invented the laws he brought, that Christ and the Old Testament prophets were kind and good-hearted folk who came up on their own initiative with suitable ways for helping their people. But the problem with this whole grand narrative,Jung insists, is that it doesn’t come anywhere near to explaining the real facts. And the real facts are that all these methods and techniques for building ships are not human “inventions, but are revelations”. They are “a revealed truth or a perceived truth which has been



thought before man has thought. Before I had that thought it had already been thought, and I merely happened to perceive it once in time; it has been there since eternity, is always there, has always lived, and I just happened in a certain moment to perceive it.” Of course that briefest moment of perception, that little glimpse we are allowed to have as humans into the thinnest slice of reality without ever managing to see the whole, is what leads straight into inflation. Suddenly the little human is saying: Look what I saw, look what I invented and discovered, look at all the things I can do and know! And then, needless to say, you are behaving exactly the same as any other unconscious person. Inwardly, though, “you are absolutely done for”-because in your ordinary arrogance you have wiped out any trace of “the revelation of the thought that existed before man had the thought”. Now you just have perfectly human religion, completely human science. And the reality of that revelation is gone. 83 So, here again, Jung is moving in a direction few people are even able to notice; let alone are willing to go. Most of us are, quite frankly, desperate to rescue him from his early days of prophecy and revelation: to restore him to the role of a respectable scientist tinkering with his human remedies for this problem or that. But here he is, again, pointing everything back to the reality of revelation-to that timeless, primordial revelation which has existed “since eternity”. The trouble is, though, that this reality isn’t a theoretical concept or something to understand with the mind. On the contrary: there is only one possible way to approach it which is when it’s directly seen, and experienced, as a reality. And the direct vision of this pre-existent eternity is the one



thing able to save us from drowning in the impossible paradox that even our skill at navigating the waters of the unconscious is, itself, a skill given to us by the unconscious. As for what this means, the implications are very simple. Whenever you hear Jung talking about himself, or read him offering his human assurances about this and that, make sure you have enough metis or alertness not to believe him. Whenever he discusses the things we have to do and achieve to become conscious, avoid problems, grow up, don’t believe that either because he is only using a convenient kind of shorthand. He is just using the conventional human language which, he is quick to admit, is totally inadequate. This is the problem with returning to the human sidebecause to become a whole human means having to learn how to deceive and be deceived. As he states the matter with such clarity, to create the possibility of being understood by humans means using “the ordinary language” which automatically pulls down a veil over eternal truth; hides the revelation. Or as Empedocles, for his part, had already gone to such lengths to explain: the ordinary language used by humans turns reality upside down and back to front, magically obliterates the timeless truth of what we are. But, just like Jung, he had absolutely no choice and was forced to add nomoi d’ epiphemi kai autos. “I, too, conform to convention.” 84 For anyone involved in this process of return to the human side it’s a completely hopeless situation-from the human point of view. You have to take a stand against human conventions and refuse to conform because this is the only way to balance or correct the massive ignorance they contain. But if you blindly refuse to conform, you are lost. You have to be ready and flexible enough to adapt. But if you make a deliberate attempt to adapt by consciously compromising,



as any sane or reasonable person would recommend, again you are lost because you sacrificed your own integrity together with the essential wildness of your message. And then, as always, there is the forgotten third alternativewhich in this particular case is to stand back and let the unconscious itself do the adapting, is to allow the flowing lava with its own divine metis to do precisely what’s right. The result will be completely baffiing to any human observer: a riddle that defies every attempt at some sensible understanding and for which, ultimately, there can be no rational defence or justification at all. Still, whether in the middle of people or alone, you will be impossibly lonely. At least you will have the satisfaction, though, of knowing that your real work is being done for you. And in the case of Jung, all his apparently conscious choices had been made for him already by the unconscious-even the choice of scientific language for translating his prophetic message into, even the particular design of the disguise or costume he was going to have to put on. Even the cloak he would use to cover the raw power of the unconscious was selected for him by the unconscious itself. And everything his ego would so normally, so effortlessly but so foolishly take the credit for had already been taken care of on his behalf.


But then there is the rest of what he said on October the 1st,

1957. Just before emphasizing for the second time that he doesn’t deserve any personal credit for his life’s achievements, that everything fell naturally and quite spontaneously into place thanks to the unconscious flow of lava inside him, Jung makes a sudden confession about himself: “I’m the damnedest dilettante who ever lived. I wanted to achieve something in my science, and then I bumped into this stream of lava, and then it brought everything into order.” And here, as so often, we are faced with a simple choice. We either go on fabricating our collective fantasies, keep weaving our reasonable myths about what he meant-or we work our way down with him to the truth of what he actually said. 85 As it happens, Jung goes straight on to explain why he has just dismissively called himself a damned dilettante. By this, he says, he means he has spent the whole of his life borrowing other people’s knowledge. To be sure, a little of what he did was original. But in everything else, the material he used for creating and building up his psychology didn’t come from his own being; didn’t have its source in the raw primal substance, the primordial prophetic material, flowing deep inside him.



Instead he took it all from outside, grabbed pieces from here, snatched bits from there. Regardless of every appearance to the contrary, he didn’t really create anything himself but just dabbled in this or that like any other dilettante. And that, he adds while being interviewed by his secretary at the Bollingen tower, is exactly what happened in the case of his involvement with alchemy. His work on alchemical tradition was never an inner experience for him: he simply snatched and grabbed whatever he happened to find outside. Year after year he read books, then more books, searching for some kind of material that would allow him to cloak and cover the “primordial revelation” he had received-the “Uroffenbarung”, as he called it-which by himself he was completely unable to master or cope with. 86 As far as Jung is concerned, there aren’t many things that are more important to understand. A few weeks later he would also mention to his secretary how extraordinary it was to discover that his experiences, during the time of his critical descent into the unconscious, were the same as the experiences of the alchemists and the other way around. But the fact of this simple correspondence, stated by him here so clearly, isn’t what mattered most. What’s even more significant is the fact that in writing about their experiences he was actually covering over and hiding his own. Jung loved complaining as well as exaggerating. And when the sheer amount of work involved in tracking all the intricate details of alchemical tradition weighed him down, he enjoyed groaning to the people around him that this ordeal of researching and writing about alchemy was causing him far more pain and trouble than anything he’d had to suffer during his earlier ordeal of descending alive- into the underworld. Of course to those helpers of his who hadn’t made the journey to hell-and were I



happy for the most part to see with his eyes, live through his experiences-it was irresistibly tempting to take him at his word. But, at the same time, there is an element of truth in his complaint. His terrifying ordeal of travelling down into his innermost depths was a task of stripping everything away so as to open himself to his own naked, primordial, eternally solitary, prophetic reality. Then his enormous, years-long ordeal of studying alchemy was the task of covering that reality over once again. As a covering, it couldn’t have been more appropriatebecause one aspect of alchemical tradition which has strangely been overlooked, although Jung himself was well aware of the fact, is that from the very beginning western alchemists viewed their tradition as prophetic. So even when he was translating his prophetic message, cloaking his prophetic mission, he made sure to select a prophetic tradition to complete the task; or, rather, let it be chosen for him. Still, though, that precious alchemy of his was no more than a covering: a disguise. 87 And this is just what his science would be for him. It’s what he himself called a “Bekleidungsstoff”-a cloaking material to cover and disguise what was most important. Many people feel a huge sense of victory, not to mention relief, because he finally grew up; slammed the door shut on his immature silliness about prophecy; managed to “find his true life’s work” by shaking that nonsense off and abandoning it definitively in favour of science. But while these explanations might seem valid enough if you are just looking at the reflective surface of things, the reality is that Jung didn’t abandon anything. He simply covered it over, decked it out, disguised what was most essential. In the early days of his nai:ve ambition, when he still wanted to achieve something for himself through science and hadn’t yet bumped into that stream of lava, he already had plenty of



doubts and reservations about becoming a scientist. Even so, he immersed himself wholeheartedly in the scientific world and began to see it as his future and destiny. And his encounter with the lava took all that away: took away his belief in science, took away his heart. From then on, it was just a matter of snatch and grab-of playing the role of dilettante not because he enjoyed being a dilettante or wanted to become a better dilettante, but because now his heart was somewhere else. In fact, on the most obvious level, a dilettante is precisely what Jung became. He turned here, drifted there; let himself get dragged into grand new projects and schemes only to abandon them, often causing the other people involved a vast amount of trouble and frustration, in midstream. All the time through the science he had his eye on something beyond the science, and everyone who didn’t share his vision simply couldn’t see what was going on. 88 For instance, there is what now has become one of his most famous scientific ideas: the theory of synchronicity. After he had died, the leading British Jungian Michael Fordham proudly presented it to the English-speaking world as Jung’s successful attempt “to strip off the fantasy, magic and superstition which surround and are provoked by unpredictable, startling and impressive events” and show that “they are simply ‘meaningful coincidences’”. But the fact is that Jung’s theory of synchronicity wasn’t aimed at “simply” anything; and certainly, whatever anyone might like to think, it wasn’t aimed at stripping out magic. Qyite to the contrary, Jung himself had made it abundantly clear what he was wanting to offer with his idea of synchronicity. He was presenting to the world an updated, reincarnated version of the ancient magical theo~y known as sympatheia-the occult western tradition of “sympathies” or correspondences which



happens to be traceable back all the way to Empedocles and was always understood as revealing the mysterious hand of God, the magical insertion of the timeless into time. And rather than wanting to strip such mumbo jumbo away so as to make synchronicity scientifically respectable, his real aim was to achieve almost the exact reverse through the most elegant act of sabotage: to plant a bombshell inside the scientific consciousness that would shake it to the core, to strip away scientists’ pretensions by rupturing the fabric not just of time but of contemporary science itself, to drag the modern rational mind right to the border of what’s acceptable or possible only to push it into the unknown. Beyond everything else, though, his central concern was not to create and then promote one more scientific theory. Instead, it was to shock people out of their mental complacency into a direct experience of the fullness-the Gnostic pleroma-that lies at the root of our being. This primordial experience, as he passionately explained to those who were willing to listen, is where his idea came from. And this is where it was supposed to lead back to again. 89 So everything comes back to what lies behind his science; what hides below it. In other words, there is not the slightest chance of understanding what Jung actually means when he talks about his scientific dilettantism without relating it straight to what he calls his “Uroffenbarung”: the “primordial revelation”, so overwhelmingly real and powerful and alive, that was flowing deep inside him at the core of his whole being. There is nothing at all accidental about his choice of such a striking expression. “Uroffenbarung” is a word that already had been used in the German language for years to describe the existence of direct divine revelation outside of Christianity, or before Christianity-a kind of revelation open and accessible to prophets anywhere, everywhere, since the beginning of time.



Of course anyone can talk about such primordial revelation as a matter of theory. But the actual access to that timeless reality belongs to prophets alone while the only traces of it, as a direct experience, are to be found in prophets’ lives. And thanks to the markings he left inside his books we can still see how closely Jung associated this notion of primeval revelation, as well as the word “Uroffenbarung” itself, with one prophetic lineage in particular. That was the lineage of the Gnostics-and especially of the prophet Mani. 90 Once again, everything fits perfectly into place on every possible level. Jung not only saw himself, inwardly, as a prophet. He was also able to situate that prophetic role in a far broader perspective not just spiritually, but historically too. And then there is the coherence, equally perfect, of the picture that emerges from those late interviews he gave-as duly noted and recorded, day after day, by his devoted secretaryduring the proverbial winter of his life. Every word and expression Jung used, towards the end of 1957, has its proper place and function and logic. The unique access he was given to primordial revelation, to “Uroffenbarung”, is the crucial factor that unavoidably forced on him his “Botschaft”: his prophetic mission and message to the world which had already been announced from the very first sentence of his Red book. Or to rephrase that in slightly more human terms, he was unable to master or manage or cope with the sheer wild power of this “Uroffenbarung”-which he ended up having to wrap inside the cloak of science-in exactly the same way and for precisely the same reasons that he was unable to tolerate the raw prophetic message he had been handed, and which he ended up having to translate into the language of science.



Now it should be ever so easy to understand why the point had to come when Jung would give up his work on the Red book so that he could start working away at the study of alchemy instead. And at the same time we can understand why he never published the Red book as long as he stayed alive-because it contained the raw, prophetic material he couldn’t handle by himself but worked so skilfully to cover over and disguise. Of course that wild destructive power is something no human can ever manage or cope with, which is why Jung couldn’t hope to master it on his own. Instead, it has to manage and cope with us. But this brings us straight back again, as yet another demonstration of how perfectly everything holds together, to the prophetic lineage of Mani. Back in 1920, when he had his dream at Tunis about the extraordinary book which would allow him to master the overwhelming daimonic power of the unconscious, he realized that this mysterious book of his-his own book, the book he already had somehow written himself-happened to be a Manichaean text. The book of his own psychology turned out to be a book of Mani. And this is how it has to work, because the only power strong enough to master the primordial prophetic revelation is the prophetic power of the primordial revelation itself. That revelation or “Uroffenbarung” is always the same in its primordial timelessness. But the infinitely subtle wisdom of the unconscious as it manifests through a prophetic lineage creates the paradox that, in the lives of the prophets, this revelation is always changing. Like each new wave as it crashes on the shore of our human existence, it’s fresh; reborn. It’s the wave of revelation that, in mastering us, sets us free. Or to say this in other words: the unconscious is the problem and



the unconscious, if we can consciously watch and humbly wait as only a real prophet knows how to, is its own solution. Mani’s book is a gift from the unconscious, so generous, so inexpressibly intimate and personal, which will allow Jung to master the impersonal power of the unconscious because the unconscious is the key to itself Everything else, the scientific posturing along with all the dilettantism, is just a distraction from the real work being accomplished in the depths of silence; an elaborate ruse for throwing everyone, including oneself, off the scent; a totally faithful translation into the ordinary human language which can never get anything right; the most complex dissimulation which at the same time is the simplest possible method, thrown up by the unconscious itself, for keeping one’s vestiges well concealed. And here, too, the consistency in Jung’s understanding could hardly be more perfect. Over forty years before sitting down to tell his secretary how he had once been forced to translate his mission and message into the language of science, he was still deeply immersed in his work on the Red book. And that’s when he recorded the details of a conversation he’d just had with his soul: the kind of details which so easily, so conveniently, could stay lost in some forgotten footnote. Now is the time for you to grow up, she tells him pointblank, and leave science behind. Your destiny lies in the depths and, for that, science is hopelessly superficial and shallow- is “mere language”, nothing but a tool for you to use. Although it might look and sound impressive enough, it’s just the latest edition of scholasticism. That’s all. You had better get over it; be done with it, once and for all.



But here is where the conversation becomes even more interesting. Jung is getting worried and objects that, if he renounces the whole of science, this will surely be a failing on his part: a blatant offence against the spirit of the time. No, she says back to him, you don’t understand. That’s not what I am saying at all, because “you shouldn’t renounce it completely but should consider science merely your language”. From now on, it’s nothing more than the language you need to use. And that’s all it would ever be for him. But we do love to be fooled, which means we miss out on noting the exquisite agreement between what he stated so clearly in his eightiesabout having had to translate his prophetic message into the language of science-and what his soul had already told him almost half a century earlier about having to use the language of science as a simple tool. There is a popular Faustian pastime nowadays, which is to discuss all the ways in which Jung’s concepts and theories kept evolving over the course of his career. And to be sure, that’s a fair enough insight into the shallow surface of his dilettantism; into what can quite accurately be described as his “many unfinished beginnings”. But if we look far enough down underneath the shifting tides of scientific language and terminology, absolutely nothing changed at all. 91 Of course it’s altogether natural to be wanting as humans, just like Jung himself in a certain way, to leave the prophetic revelation behind for the sake of science: for the science which ideally, as Parmenides or Empedocles already acknowledged, represents the very best any human intelligence is capable of. But actually to do that isn’t too easy when even the science, as we’ve seen from so many different angles, is just a part of the inescapable revelation.



In fact the essential nature of this primordial revelation which exists, as Jung says, since eternity and can only be glimpsed with the eyes of eternity is its timelessness. It’s behind and ahead of us, was there before either we or our culture were born and will still be there long after we are gone. You don’t ever leave it behind because, far deeper and greater than any science of ours, it’s what endures- what, once again, has the last word.


And so we are brought back, one last time, to that letter Jung once wrote about the mystical fool; about the mystical fool inside him always being stronger than all his science; and about what as a mystical fool he knew he had to do. We can trick and delude ourselves, as his letter explains, about the future evolution of consciousness if that’s what we want. But the only way forward for humanity doesn’t lie through sweetness and hope. It lies in crucifixion, along “a path of blood and suffering”. And who really cares for such an excruciating increase in awareness, consciousness, responsibility? Who can stand or endure it? Who on earth would find the deliberate, and willing, embrace of such suffering worthwhile? That, he says, is the question; and naturally he would never force his own answer on anybody else. “But I confess that I submitted to the divine power of this apparently unsurmountable problem and I consciously and intentionally made my life miserable, because I wanted God to be alive and free from the suffering man has put on him by loving his own reason more than God’s secret intentions. There is a mystical fool in me that proved to be stronger than all my . ” science. There is no way, now, not to come back to this letter because only now is it possible to appreciate what Jung is saying. And



the place to start is obviously with his deliberate, conscious, intentional acceptance of suffering-suffering to compensate for the ignorance of humans while, at the same time, suffering for the sake of freeing and healing God. One of the absurdities that Jungians and Jung scholars have silently come to live with is the unspoken need to keep certain aspects of his life and work well apart because, if one was just to let them fit together into a natural whole, the results would be too horrific to bear. And that’s exactly the present situation with regard to the theme of psychological compensation. On the one hand we can see very clearly how, an old man in his eighties, he would look back over his entire existence and explain it all as a process of compensation. Everything he had spoken or written, everything he was as the being called Carl Jung, had essentially been nothing but a compensation for our modern times; a counterweight to our rational world; a conscious remembering of what in our reasonableness everyone has chosen to neglect and forget; a coherent unveiling of the things that, in spite of any apparent interest and fascination, nobody really wants to see or hear. On the other hand, he used to explain that this work of compensation is precisely the work of a prophet. As he would say about any great beings, anywhere in the world, who appear as modern prophets: they are going to play “the same compensatory role in relation to their people as the Old Testament prophets did in relation to the ‘faithless’ children of Israel. Not only do they urge their compatriots to remember their thousand-yearold spiritual culture. They actually embody it and, by doing so, serve as an impressive warning never to forget the claims of the soul even in the midst of all the novelties of western civilization with its materialistic acquisitiveness and its technological and commercial worldliness.” And of course in this passage he is



exactly portraying himself-his own inexhaustible efforts at urging westerners to remember their cultural continuity and spiritual past, at bringing a little sanity into the “lunatic asylum” of western rationalism, even at warning about how the modern disease of acquisitiveness spreads like wildfire out from our material into our spiritual worlds. God forbid, though, if anyone was to connect these two streams and suggest he himself was playing a prophetic role; if anybody was even to hint that this one hand belongs alongside the other hand because they are the two hands of a single being, Jung the prophet. But this little letter ever so conveniently brings everything together, once and for all. What Jung is saying here about being prepared to suffer for God, about wanting to set God free, make God whole, takes us straight back to a crucial passage in the Red book where he is saying exactly the same things at the same time as peppering each statement he makes with quotations from the prophet Isaiahincluding the very same quotations he already had placed, so prominently, at the beginning of the Red book itself. It’s the norm nowadays in our post-modern, post-structural world to note those opening quotations from Isaiah for half a second or perhaps even for two and rapidly move on to the rest of the text before leaving that behind as well. But nothing could be more nai:ve than to suppose those quotations were put there by Jung just for the sake of superficial sightseers and intended to be left behind as soon as possible. On the contrary: they are there not only to set the tone for the rest of his “new book” but, at the same time, to set the tone and serve as model for the rest of his life. Everything that needs to be known about the thankless existence of a compensator is stated, so completely, so compactly,



inside the very first passage Jung quotes from Isaiah right at the start of the Red book: “Truly, he himself has borne our sicknesses and he himself has carried our pains.” For Jung, just as for Isaiah, the role of prophet is never-even for a moment-what it seems. As he constantly keeps warning, it never is going to be what one expects. Humanly, nothing could be more tempting than to think of saviours or prophets as missionaries arriving to lecture and preach. But for him that’s the worst conceivable kind of caricature alongside the ridiculous image of a saviour as someone sent to help us escape from life, because a true saviour will only be able to extricate us from our illusions by incarnating the wisdom of life itself. Real prophets or saviours don’t set themselves up for anything except to labour and suffer, often silently or alone, for the sake of what the collective consciousness of humanity doesn’t have the strength to face. Here is where the task of prophet merges without the slightest effort into the task of saviour, because the prophet’s job isn’t just to announce some future saviour but to embody the saviour’s presence by consciously embracing suffering. And here is where we come straight to the heart of western psychology’s problem with prophecy. That hunger the prophets have for suffering, for making themselves miserable in the name of what they consider some higher cause, is to our modern minds the most blatant symptom of obsessive masochism; psychotic perversion; mental sickness. But this is where we are also brought straight to the hard core ofJung’s stubbornness in so strenuously refusing to subject ancient or modern prophets to psychological analysis. Prophets may suffer terribly: inevitably do. They often have to suffer intentionally and consciously, too. The crucial point is,



though, that the suffering is not their own. And neither, for that matter, is the psychotic perversion. Instead they are simply the ones who have to hold, through suffering, the unbearable tension of balancing inside their consciousness the unconsciousness of humanity as a wholewho are called to carry the weight of humanity’s psychosis in the remote hope that a few other individuals, here or there, might take enough responsibility to share the dark burden of learning how to suffer rightly. When Jung used to mention no longer belonging to himself, this is a large part of what he was referring to: the harshly humbling reality of discovering how to balance, inside oneself, not just one’s own individual psychology but everyone else’s. The healthy focus in Jungian circles on leading a personally full and balanced life is all very fine and good. At the same time, though, it has to be viewed in another light entirely if for a few people it might need to take the back seat to discovering a quite different kind of balance; if it’s no more than a prelude to the vastly harder, and riskier, task of compensating not only one’s own imbalances but the imbalances of the world. Then the rules of the game are changed completely. All the bets are off and the best anybody can hope to do is to live the most balanced life possible in an outer sense by acting- to the maximum capacity of one’s human powers-as a seemingly ordinary human being. But as for the rest: whatever guidance and wisdom are needed will have to come from a far deeper place than anything human, as the ancient prophets explained and as Jung knew just as well. So when he talks in his letter about consciously and intentionally making his life miserable-“because I wanted God



to be alive and free from the suffering man has put on him”Carl Jung is taking his place, very knowingly and deliberately, inside a long tradition of prophecy.92 And then there is the other detail he goes straight on to add: “I wanted God to be alive and free from the suffering man has put on him by loving his own reason more than God’s secret intentions.” But, here too, we can’t afford to skip a single word. To hold up our faculty of reason as the one thing that makes God suffer, then to perform the intentional act of quite consciously compensating for the damage done by this reason, is something impossible to understand through reasoning. In fact each normal, plausible, perfectly justifiable and ever so reasonable thought anyone has without paying any attention to the divine mystery behind it: that’s exactly what a prophet has to suffer, and compensate, for. Or to state the matter a little more bluntly, reason has become God’s enemy. What Jung is saying is that not just every minute but every moment of our compulsive reasoning, every obsessively reasonable act or word or thought, each tolerably scholarly murder, is a direct offence against the sacred. And don’t imagine you are going to understand, even notice, what he is really thinking and saying and doing if you are identifying with your daylight rational faculty-because he is simply having to compensate for you. That’s not all, though. There are other places, too, where he states with equal intensity that the human faculty of reason is the greatest violator and chief enemy of nature. And what may seem almost impossible to register any more in the massive ocean of collective reasonableness is that to present our human power of reasoning as the enemy, not just of nature but of God, isn’t the teaching of a psychologist; let alone a scientist. There is something totally different involved here.



But we only have to look towards the prophetic tradition William Blake belonged to, and which Jung knew so well, to see that it’s the teaching of prophecy. Or rather, it’s the primordial roar of suffering that we can hardly tell how to recognize any more. It’s the silent howl of prophets working with the full weight and force of nature behind them to neutralize all our politely murderous rationalizations of life, of God, of the unconscious. And-behind even that-it’s the need deep inside each of us to reach back prophetically to the forgotten logic which has been murdered, which keeps being murdered, by reason itself. Unnoticed because there is such a heavy cost for noticing, each statement Jung is making in this letter is the statement of a prophet; then, again, of a prophet. And so we come to the next comment of his, offered almost as a gentle explanation for the things he has just said: “There is a mystical fool in me that proved to be stronger than all my science.” As we already have seen, these are the words of someone instinctively attuned to the spirit of the depths-which, for all its hiddenness, has far more strength and endurance than the shifting trends of science or the spirit of our time. There is also something else, though, contained in this seemingly straightforward comment. But it’s something that will only become apparent if you know the Bible as well as Jung did: in fact as well as he insisted any genuine student of psychology would have to know it. This expression “mystical fool” was his own, shorthand way of using standard prophetic language to describe the prophet who goes unrecognized; unacknowledged; unheard. 93 Everything he says here in his letter is the perfectly consistent confession of a modern prophet-a real prophet in both his life and work, not the absurd caricature of inflated prophets



which we with our inflated rationalism mistake for the reality behind it. And the substance of what he says couldn’t be truer. Jung the prophet would always prove stronger than Jung the scientist; outlast his own science; not only have the last word but the last silence, as well. In the autumn of 1959, just a year or two before he died, as he was getting weaker he decided to go back to the Red book so he could finally bring it to completion. But he couldn’t. He tried to finish off the last, unfinished, painting. He wasn’t able. As he told his secretary-who was better at noting down his words than at daring to ask what they meant-it was death that stopped him. And we can still see why. His last painting was of over a hundred human faces: most of them vividly alive, some of them nothing but ancient skeletons. For him, though, evoking people’s faces was far from being some casual or innocent process. On the contrary, it was an almost magical act. As a matter of fact there is one passage in his published biography where he explains how-throughout his whole life from childhood into old age-he kept experiencing visions of human faces that would appear to him while he was falling asleep. Often these were the faces of people he knew who, after they had presented themselves to him in this way, would soon die. And then there is the other detail that never made its way into print. This is the detail of what he, himself, originally wanted to say-which is that those visions of faces actually revealed the future to him by predicting people’s coming deaths. But his immediate family was none too happy at the thought of such intimately mystical confessions getting out; and so the mention



of Jung’s prophetic powers was deleted, ever so discreetly, from the published text. Being shown the faces of people before they die is one thing. Making the effort to paint such human faces, not just the way

they appear alive but already as ancient skulls, is another. And so even when Jung made the final effort to return from what he called the “human side” to his prophetic Red book, even when he tried as an old man to complete at long last what he’d started almost half a century earlier, it would seem his prophetic powers are precisely what stopped him. Theoretically there was no end even then to the possibilities of what he could have gone on writing, or painting, just as there is no limit to what I could keep saying here. But Jung wasn’t interested in chattering on about the realms of possibility or possibilities. His quest was for the impossible. And as soon as he had magically managed, just like the prophets he wrote about, to make the impossible possible it was already time to be moving on. 94 From our superficial and altogether legitimate point of view, the problematic failing or inadequacy of the R ed book is that it didn’t include the human perspective-the perspective that brings us all together, with our ordinary language and ordinary thoughts, to get almost everything wrong. But underneath this, its problem has nothing to do with incompleteness or lack. On the contrary, its only problem is the overwhelming power as well as the indescribable fullness and perfection of that other reality it was meant to convey: a reality in the face of which every human effort is inadequate, in which the end is already tucked up inside the beginning. And just as the R ed book had begun with prophecy, it was prophecy that would abruptly bring it to an end.


Everything he had written, Jung explained towards the end of his life, was the result of what he’d inwardly been instructed to say and do. He couldn’t escape any of it, evade it, avoid it; couldn’t write anything else, either, aside from what he was commanded to write. Each book he started working on soon shaped up to be another unique attempt at introducing the utter ineffability of a completely different reality-the “unsayable” always lurking in the background of our collective existence-into the familiar, objective world of science and learning. The process had a beginning, a middle, and then an end in the last major book he ever wrote. When he finished Mysterium coniunctionis he realized he also had finished the underpinning, the solid grounding, of his entire work. This is when he was released, at last, from his post; acquitted of his task. And in the very same instant that he arrived at the ultimate foundation of his whole psychology, he simultaneously bumped up against the remotest boundaries of what can be known: against the transcendent, where everything and everyone goes silent. Of course this is hardly the confession of a scientist or psychologist-but of a religious, and profoundly mystical, person. At heart Jung wasn’t placing the study of religion, of



what sometimes is referred to very professionally nowadays as the “religion-making process”, in the context of science or of psychology. On the contrary: the many commentators who claim this have made a little mistake, because at root he was placing his whole science and psychology in the context of religion. After all, he was the first to admit that even his psychology itself happened to be nothing but “a movement of the spirit”; a movement rising out of the depths which, far from him owning or possessing it, had taken complete possession of him and his life. His only role was to submit, and serve.95 While he was still in his sixties this process of submission rapidly intensified after he got so ill, during 1944, that he almost died. The unspeakable experience of ecstatic mystical union in coming face to face with death started pulling him away again from the “human side” and back, unavoidably, inescapably, towards the world he already had sunk into while being worked on by the Red book: that other reality to which the death we all run from is always the key. And if we are going to understand the published works he produced during the final years of his life, we will have to do better than view them as individual islands of creativity. We are going to have to understand the sea. The first major book to emerge, with irresistible force, from his ordeal in 1944 was called Aion. But its title isn’t just the ancient Greek word for an age in the history of the world, or even for eternity. It’s also an extremely deliberate reference by Jung to the name of the great god who ruled over time in the ancient mysteries-the very same god he had found himself dramatically merging and uniting with during his crucial experience of deification in December 1913, right at the start of what would become his engagement with the Red book.



And to avoid any misunderstandings about the importance ofAion as a written work, it will be enough just to quote his own way of connecting it back to the illness that almost killed him in 1944: “Before my illness I had often asked myselfifl were permitted to publish or even speak of my secret knowledge. I later set it all down in Aion. I realized it was my duty to communicate these thoughts, yet I doubted whether I was allowed to give expression to them. During my illness I received confirmation and I now knew that everything had meaning and that everything was perfect.” The problem, though, with secret knowledge is that it still remains secret even after it’s been written down. You can labour over it; analyze each word; intellectualize or wax lyrical about them all. But the secret is never available to the mind because what appear as intellectual ideas and theories are just a cloaking for something else. So I will restrict myself to mentioning a single detail about Aion, which is that one particular figure happens to be absolutely central to the structure and content of the book as a whole. This is Joachim of Fiore, a twelfth-century mystic and heretic who for many reasons-with the famous teaching of past, present and future world ages that was revealed to him-can be considered one of the most influential prophets in the course of Christian history. The entire structure of Aion is masterfully designed as Jung’s continuation or extension, his updating or renewal of the “vision” given to Joachim almost eight hundred years earlier. And to prevent any misunderstandings about the importance for him of Joachim, or Gioacchino as he sometimes called him, I will just quote something Jung wrote to a trusted friend. He has been explaining that we are very close to the end of what Joachim called the Christian age, or aeon, at the critical



point of transition into the post- Christian aeon due to come next. But the trouble is that almost nobody, including among so-called Christians, has learned yet what it means to be a real Christian; has learned to walk what he calls elsewhere the voluntary “path of blood and suffering”. There is hardly anyone who has done the inner work that was needed and is even remotely prepared. “The vast majority of people is still in such an unconscious state, that one should almost protect them from the full shock of the real imitatio Christi. Moreover we are still in the Christian aeon, threatened with a complete annihilation of our world.” Then Jung goes straight on to hint at his own role in this situation, at the particular nature of his “job”: ”As there are not only the many but also the few, somebody is trusted with the task to look ahead and talk of the things to be.” Or as he moves into stating the matter even more clearly, “Thus I am approaching the end of the Christian aeon and I am to take up Gioacchino’s anticipation and Christ’s prediction of the coming of the paraclete. This drama is at the same time exquisitely psychological and historical. We are actually living in the time of the splitting of the world.” In other words, Jung was voluntarily stepping into the role of prophet who has been entrusted with extending and renewing Joachim’s prophetic vision for the present age. Learned commentators have been duly horrified. Expecting for some reason that his one and only concern would be to act the respectable part of objective psychologist, or detached historian, they stand amazed at the “remarkable leap” he unpredictably makes from cold textual analysis into playing such an engaged and unexpected role. But the sense of such remarkable leaps might simply be due to the fact that Jung was never, even to begin with, in the place we imagine he was leaping from. And others have been a little quicker to admit that here he is presenting



himself, quite plainly, as a contemporary prophet: “as a modern Joachim di Fiore ushering in a new age of the Spirit”. That’s only the start, though. When he talks about “taking up” Joachim’s work and vision, Jung is using the identical language he also uses elsewhere for describing his relationship to Merlin-whose prophetic role he had very specifically “taken up again” in his psychology. This language of taking up, through or rather as one’s lifetime, an unfinished task that needs renewing and completing in our present age was his way of hinting at the essential mystery of what he called karma or rebirth. And so we see Jung karmically linking himself, as well as his psychology, to two of the most potent prophetic figures in the western world. But even this is only a part of the story-because it just so happens that the prophetic traditions stemming from Joachim became inextricably intertwined with the prophetic traditions ascribed to Merlin. Prophecies of Merlin merged through the centuries with prophecies of Joachim to the point where, in practice, one could often hardly tell them apart. And it’s this dual but single tradition of prophecy that Jung found himself inescapably carrying on.96 As for Merlin, with his solitude and craziness and haunting cry: we have already seen how wholeheartedly he identified with this mythical predecessor of his. As for Joachim: there is just one point I will mention because, if it’s grasped, it’s enough to show how hopelessly with our modern naivety we doom ourselves to misunderstanding Carl Jung. Time after time Jung used to deny he was a prophet and, fools that we are, there is something so gullible inside us we just want to go on taking him each single time at his word. I can keep pirouetting around myself citing all the details of his statements about needing to lie, his references to the practice of concealing



one’s vestiges, his own endless dancing between personalities no. 1 and no. 2, and it probably won’t change a thing. Ever since we were children we have been trained to believe obediently almost everything we are told and-in spite of our headstrong opinions which aren’t even our own-that’s precisely what we do. But there is one point I didn’t yet have a chance to mention, which is that in the history of our western culture nothing is more standard or routine than for prophets to deny they are prophets. One of the most notorious cases of a prophet denying he is a prophet was none other than Joachim of Fiore. It’s not only a question of Joachim, though, or of the different prophetic figures in and around his time who also wisely pretended not to be prophets-because prophetic visions are all very well and good provided they come from a distant past but are apt to cause no end of problems when they come from someone you happen to know. Qyite to the contrary: the denials have been going on for thousands of years in a tradition that reaches back all the way to the world of the Old Testament itself. And in fact the Hebrew prophet Amos perfectly managed to create the template for whoever came later with his most straightforward of declarations that “I am not a prophet”. In other words, just as to resist and challenge and struggle with and even rebel against becoming a prophet isn’t the proof of not being a true prophet but only an indication of the opposite, to deny outright that one is a prophet is the mark of an authentic prophet too. It’s simply part and parcel of the prophetic job. And by “taking up” the work of Joachim, Jung was finding himself at home with a long line of individuals who were like him in many more ways than one. When he insisted so adamantly that there is no understanding him or his psychology without knowing and understanding the



Bible, he was being far more serious than one might think. But we are so contaminated with the inflation of modernity, we don’t even realize how great a problem our ignorance has become. And this ignorance of prophetic tradition, in particular, isn’t limited to Jungians by any means-because we live in a world where even most Jews nowadays hardly have the slightest clue about their prophets any more. With Jung, things were rather different. His father was a tragic but very talented man who not only studied every corner of the Hebrew Bible, including the ancient prophets. He even became an expert on biblical commentaries written, centuries before his time, at Jerusalem in Arabic. And Jung’s poor opinion of him as a human being would only strengthen the extraordinary influence that his father’s interests kept exerting on him, at a subterranean level, for the rest of his life. But it wasn’t just a matter of the subjects his father had studied. There is something else about these subjects that mattered far more-the infinite subtleties and refinements of the culture behind them, an intuitive sense for intricacies which comes from studying them but is as distant from anything offered by a modern education as an oriental carpet from a doormat. Perhaps you still want to think such quaintly biblical sophistications are details we can easily afford to ignore when approaching Jung. The truth is, though, that these subtleties don’t just exist to add to the finer resonances of his message or offer a touch of richer colour here and there. They change absolutely everything: convert the most categorical no into a resounding yes, transform every yes of ours into a no. But, today, the mention of such subtleties might give us a moment’s shock; even a split second of disorientation. Then, the chances are we’ll just spring straight back into taking everything at face value-into trusting what shouldn’t



be trusted while making sure to ignore what should-with the result that our cats or dogs would probably understand Jung far better than we do. 97 And so we come to that other book he wrote which, as things turned out, would be his ultimate gesture of reconciliation with his father. From the point of view of his superficial everyday personality, Answer to job was a damnable piece of work: the words of an “unspeakable fool” who was stupid enough to disrupt the wishes of the bourgeois coward inside him and disturb his own longing to go on sleeping peacefully like everyone else. From the point of view of his deeper personality, at home in eternity, it was the greatest gift; the fisherman who magically catches a whale, or the whale who catches the fisher; a magnificent piece of music; something so perfect that, after the initial revisions he made to remove the worst and craziest of his apparent blasphemies, it was the one piece of work he would never dream of modifying or changing. As for how exactly it related to Aion, Jung’s answer was simple. In theme and topic the two books were intimately linked. At the same time, though, Aion had been far too polite-much too civilized and “man-made”. Now was the time to go wild. And that’s literally what happened. For forty years, since the time of his work on the Red book, the material that would erupt into Answer to Job had been bottled up inside him. And the only way it could come out, as so often with Jung, was through sickness. He became ill, the fever itself is what forced him to write, and only when he had finished did the sickness leave him. All sorts of wonderful fantasies have been spun, half-true, about Jungian psychology as an eminent method for avoiding extremes; for finding internal balance and equilibrium, true



groundedness, the seamlessly accomplished integration of each function and faculty inside a human being. Then there are the well-manicured notions about Jung himself as the perfect model of a serene, fully balanced, equilibriated wise old man. But sometimes the humble reality tended to be a little different. And when the daimon of Jung’s creativity erupted, all hell broke loose. Writing Aion, which had caused him more and more sleeplessness the deeper he went, was difficult enough. But Answer to job swept through him, along with his home and household, like a storm. Although his fragile health obviously wasn’t up to it, as always he had no choice. For the months that he was writing, then revising, the text there were times when he not only hardly slept but hardly shaved; hardly washed. People in his immediate circle were terrified of what might happen to him as well as what he might do to them. He shut himself away for hours and worked until he was exhausted. Then he became moody and often furious, lashed out for no reason, was crude and rude. The greatest fear of all was what would happen if journalists turned up unexpectedly to interview himand the secret hope was that they just might end up interviewing the gardener instead, because at least he was much “closer to reality. Jung lived now in another world.” 98 As for what the book itself was about, what he was being driven so hard to say: it was about the darkness of God and the suffering the divine darkness causes in our human world. But just as important as its main topic and theme is the fact that, in spite of any appearances hinting otherwise, Jung wasn’t going to be talking theoretically or historically or theologically about this darkness-about the darkness ofJob’s God, the God of the Old Testament. On the contrary, he made himself perfectly clear that through his little book he wouldn’t be debating or arguing about God.



He would be arguing with God, directly, instead. What he was being forced so overwhelmingly to do, and what his father would come back from the dead to thank him for, was to stand up and confront God; challenge God face to face; speak to God, argue with God, as only a human can. And that meant being as incapable of distancing himself from God with the help of the usual nice theories, polite abstractions, as Job with his excruciating suffering had been unable to remove himself. It meant consciously and intentionally suffering just as Job had chosen to suffer-and not only as Job had nobly suffered but as Christ, the archetypal suffering servant, would suffer too. It involved deliberately taking God’s darkness on himself by entering so deep inside it that, from there, he could compensate for humans’ ridiculous obsession with the deceptive light of reason. It also involved, needless to say, having to accept all the misunderstandings and abuse that would be hurled his way. But those were hardly going to make any difference because, as he answered when asked what the writing of Answer to job really entailed: thanks to it “I live in my deepest hell, and from there I cannot fall any further”. And if this sounds very familiar, it should-because we are back in the place we never even left, which is the land of prophecy. I do understand that any memory of such a long-forgotten place, of our own indigenous land and earth and nature, is far too painful now to recognize. That’s why for the most part all we allow ourselves to appreciate in Jung is the person, the inventive man, the self-willed character: never, God forbid, the force he himself pointed to time and time again as the reality responsible for overpowering and compelling him to do the things he did. A large part inside each of us refuses, to the bitter end, honestly to acknowledge that he was serving as the mouthpiece and spokesperson for something far beyond him-to recognize his



indispensable role in what he called the “tragic self-contradiction” of being forced from the depths of the unconscious to challenge God’s unconsciousness, of having to help the power of the unconscious take a stand against the power of the unconscious, of making it possible for God to argue with God. That’s all, in its purest form, a little too disconcerting to admit. And so it could only be a matter of time before Jung had to face the full impact of the abuse, not to mention misunderstandings; before everything would be reduced, very rationally and systematically, to the petty and personal and biographical; before he would even be accused of anti-Semitism for his tasteless attacks on the Jewish God, or at the very least of bad timing because he’d dared to produce Answer to job so soon after the horrors of the Holocaust. But what’s almost never noticed is how strange it is, for a supposedly anti-Semitic text, that Answer to job contains such respectful references to Jewish sacred literature and traditions. And even when these references are occasionally pointed out, what’s even stranger is the failure to realize that it’s not just a question of the Jewish material contained inside the book. What’s far more important is the book’s essential form, because-according to Jewish sacred traditions-there is only one kind of person who has the ability, the authority, the audacity to challenge or argue with God face to face. And that, naturally, is a prophet. One rare bird who, even before the book’s official release, realized the truth of what Jung was doing through Answer to job just so happened to be his closest Jewish friend: Erich Neumann. The very first message he sent to Jung after reading an early copy of the text was to say how intensely this book, the finest and deepest Jung had ever written, was gripping him. As a matter of fact, he added, it’s so much more than a book that it can hardly be called a book at all-because “in a very



real sense it’s an argument with God, similar to what Abraham found himself involved in when he argued with God”. And just as Abraham was the very first person in the Bible to be described as a prophet, he was also the earliest of the biblical prophets to challenge or argue with God. With the passing of time an entire lineage of argumentative prophets would follow on from him: a lineage culminating in the most notorious disputer with his own maker, and crier against the violence of the divine, who was the prophet known as Habakkuk.99 Of course, though, there should be no need to state the obvious which is that most of us are sensible enough for our tolerance to have its limits. Nowadays, to hear Jung mentioned in the same breath as Isaiah or Abraham or even Amos is hard enough. But to hear his name coupled with an obscure prophet like Habakkuk- that’s pushing things much too far. And I am not going to argue with that. Instead, I’ll just leave the matter to others who are far more capable of arguing than me. One very odd characteristic that Jung became famous for was seeing everything, even the most ordinary of everyday objects, as alive; as a conscious, individual, often nameable being. It’s a tendency that his followers weren’t quite sure whether to laugh at, imitate, or generalize into impressive theories and dogmaswithout ever realizing or admitting to themselves that this strange quality of seeing everything as timelessly and interconnectedly alive is, itself, a unique feature of a prophet. But in Jung’s particular case there is yet another factor to consider, which is that this gift of seeing all objects and even thoughts as conscious living beings had been given to him directly by his own beloved teacher Philemon: the propheton pater, “father of prophets”. And of all the objects that surrounded Jung through his later life, there is one specific set which in a sense mattered to him more than anything else.



His smoking didn’t just give him pleasure; make his physical existence tolerable; his work and efforts bearable. It also symbolized what held him to the earth-his identity and most basic existence as an utterly simple, very lonely human being. As for the pipes he used: they came and went. But the one object that didn’t go or come was his bronze tobacco pot which he used for filling each different pipe. It had been handed down to him, obviously through his father, from his grandfather. And you will already have guessed its name. It was Habakkuk. 100



I prefer to say little about Henry Corbin not because there is little to say, but because what does have to be said is best surrounded by silence. From my teens through to my early thirties I was held fast in an awareness that the oldest western philosophers-the socalled Presocratics-weren’t just the rationalists they are usually claimed to be. They also included mystics and prophets. This might sound like a matter of purely historical or antiquarian interest, except that it was nothing of the kind. The awareness weighed on me with an inhuman, inescapable, almost crushing burden. And at the same time it penetrated every aspect of my very human daily life with the sense of something not only immensely ancient but, in particular through the presence of Empedocles, infinitely alive. Nowhere in the whole of western literature was there any serious tradition that made the slightest effort to come to grips with this. It was a secret which had been so effectively sealed off from our collective western nightmare that nowhere in the world around me was there the slightest reflection of any such reality-until one day the proverbial book flew off a shelf as I was walking across the floor of a London bookstore and landed, already open, right in front of me.



When I stopped to see what peculiar message was lying at my feet, I noticed that the book was by someone called Henry Corbin. As for the passage staring up at me: it was a quotation from a seventeenth-century Persian Sufi stating that the oldest western philosophers, back before the time of Aristotle, included the greatest of mystics. It added that they’d given their whole lives to the “effort of spiritual struggle” and, very far from being devoted to reasoning or rationality, “one might even say that they are frankly hostile to them”. Just like that, with Henry Corbin’s abrupt eruption into my life, the aloneness I had been suffering from was over. Through slowly searching the rest of his work I soon discovered that, according to Persian Sufis, the Presocratic philosophers were crucial early links in what Corbin himself came to call “prophetic philosophy”. And so I was brought face to face with the ridiculous paradox that Persian Sufism had rescued and preserved the secret of the West which the West itself had forgotten-the secret understanding that western philosophy, logic, science, even the apparent arts of reason, all had their origin in the experience of another world. 1 Then, as such things happen, I was introduced to Henry Corbin’s widow. The deepest and most mysterious of friendships began, with her revealing details about her husband which he had always hesitated to put in print. But now there was a constant intensity and urgency in what she told me because things had already got so out of hand, with all the misunderstandings and misinterpretations of what he’d written, that she felt the crushing burden of needing to set matters straight. One of the many key points she kept coming back to during the hours we spent together was the question ofher husband’s real identity and purpose-not as a scholar with some minor mystical leanings but as a mystic, inwardly directed to play the role of academic. And she loved talking about the time she and he spent



together in Iran; describing how the great spiritual teachers or sheikhs often offered to initiate him as a Sufi on condition that he converted to Islam; and how he always politely refused. “Thank you for your invitation but there is no need, because I already have my inner sheikh inside me.” Even so, although there seemed almost no end to the personal and intimate details she confided to me, it’s not as if the whole of what she told me had simply been kept unsaid. Instead, some of it already had been publicly mentioned by him in such an elusive and allusive way that nothing would be easier than not even to notice. Once for instance, in the context of an unusual interview shortly before he died, he explained just what his view was on the subject of conversion. In it Corbin recalls his experience at an international conference about twenty years earlier, when “one colleague from a distant country” heard him talking about Persian spiritual tradition the way he normally used to do and “whispered to his neighbour: ‘How can anyone talk like that about a religion that isn’t your own?’ “But what does it mean”, Corbin stops his story to ask, “to make a religion or a philosophy ‘one’s own’? Unfortunately, there are people who are only capable of thinking in terms of ‘conversion’ because that’s what allows them to attach a collective label to who you are. No way! Anyone who talks about ‘conversion’ hasn’t understood anything about the ‘esoteric’.” Then he goes on to describe what real esotericism, or inwardness, actually implies for a person-by citing the prophet Isaiah. Such an individual “is forced to keep his secret. Secretum meum mihi, ‘My secret is for me’. The secret of the castle of the soul.” And he makes sure to add that “the community, the ummah, of esotericists from all places and all times is that ‘inner church’ which demands no outer act or gesture of belonging as a requirement for being allowed to take part. But this inner



connecting link is the true link because no one can remove it or take it away, it can’t be damaged or destroyed, and because only thanks to it is there any truth in the saying that ‘the mouth speaks from the fullness of the heart’.” 2 Here, of course, we are brought straight back to the essence ofwhat Henry Corbin meant by that “absolute spiritual freedom” he encountered at Eranos in the presence of Carl Jung. Helped along by his biblical quotations, he arrives right at the heart of Jung’s whole psychology with its overriding emphasis on the devastating effects of every external collectivity. At the same time, what he says here about the reality of an “inner church” corresponds exactly to what had already been said by someone over half a century earlier. That was when Jung himself appealed to the example of Christ by quoting from the Bible, just like Corbin, and for the sake of those around him explained how “if we belong to the secret church, then we belong, and we need not worry about it, but can go our own way. If we do not belong, no amount of teaching or organization can bring us there.” 3


There is always another side to everything, and on the other side of outer spiritual freedom lies something else. That other side is freedom’s darker half: the reality of the inner teacher or sheikh. Here, too, Corbin explained the essential quite plainly-although there is no saying for certain if what he allowed to be published was far too brief or, on the contrary, not nearly brief enough. Again just a few months before dying he had taken the greatest care to record how in October 1939 he left Paris, with his wife, for Istanbul. It was meant to be a three-month mission to gather manuscripts containing texts by a Persian Sufi called Suhrawardi. But that was just life’s excuse or pretence. Thanks, outwardly, to the war those three months turned into six years; and during this time of freedom from any outer distractions “I learned the inestimable virtues of silence, of what initiates call ‘the discipline of the arcane’ (ketman in Persian). One of the virtues of this silence is that I found myself placed, I alone together with him alone, in the company of my invisible sheikh: Shihab al-Din Yahya Suhrawardi, who died a martyr in 1191 at the age of thirty-six which happened to be my own age at the time.”



Day and night, Corbin describes, he worked on translating Suhrawardi’s writings-and “when those years of retreat finally came to an end I had become an Ishraqi”. 4 Probably there is no point at all in spelling out the obvious. But this deceptively simple passage, with its passing reference to the quintessential mystical experience of encountering one’s invisible teacher, contains the most secret kernel of his life as well as his work. For him Suhrawardi would always be his single, innermost orientation: his central point of focus. And Suhrawardi’s own inner focus and orientation would always be on the ishraq-on the point of dawn in the East. This Ishraqi tradition he gave rise to wasn’t, as people in the West are lazily inclined to suppose, a tradition of pure enlightenment or illumination. It was, much more specifically, the tradition of those who appear with the dawn; who belong to the moment of dawning; who tirelessly and timelessly work at fetching the gifts of the sacred into the light of day. And as for Corbin himself: on his frank admission he wasn’t just some scholar studying or reporting on the intricacies of this antique tradition. He was now an initiated Ishraqi in his own right. 5 There is one important detail, though, which is missing from this published account of his-but which his wife made sure to discuss with me a number of times. This is the fact that he realized Suhrawardi was invisibly, silently, overwhelmingly, even geographically,. holding him fast. He had the very distinct, quite physical awareness that he wasn’t holding the strings of his life because his teacher was; using outer circumstances to corner him; trap him and trick him; keep him, for whatever time was needed, all to himsel£ And from then on, his life was no longer his own.



But even this had been noted and mentioned by Corbin in his published writings, for anyone willing to look. Ten years before he died, he briefly described to an academic audience in France how his fateful introduction to Suhrawardi’s

writings is the single event that sealed his destiny. “I was drawn (entraini ) into becoming publisher of the works of Suhrawardi and Suhrawardi drew me (m’entraina) far, far away from the peaceful tasks entrusted to me at the National Library.” It would be so easy to ignore the repetition here of the word entrainer, “drawn … drew”, except that there is nothing accidental about it at all. On the contrary, this kind of repetition is literally a signature. For ages it’s been the standard sign of initiation into the sacred mysteries, just like Jung’s announcement at the start of the R ed book about how he had been forced, forced, taken, taken by the spirit of the depths-or Parmenides’ account right at the start of his poem evoking how he had been carried, carried, carried, carried into the realities of another world. This is how Corbin and Jung and Parmenides were pulled into meeting with their superiors, as Empedocles called them. And the point of this pulling, in Corbin’s case, could hardly be clearer. It was to show that our ideas of truth, or reality, are just an upside-down illusion. We, among the so-called living, are not in charge of our lives as we think. The real fingers around our necks or on our pulses are not our own. As a matter of fact we are hardly alive at all, here, because the real truth is that we are held fast in the grip of the dead. 6 This is why Suhrawardi’s tradition is, itself, so dangerously alive. It’s able to reach out through and across the centuries, secretly, silently, whenever someone is ready-whoever, wherever, you are. And that aliveness explains the name he gave his Ishraqi tradition: the “eternal leaven”.



Just like leaven or yeast it contains its own living germ, its transformative enzyme, inside. But that also makes it a perpetual source of ferment; of disorder and disturbance, agitation, unpredictable change. And this in turn is exactly why Suhrawardi was killed at the age of thirty-six, put to death by the rigid powers of dogmatism for opening the door to too much life. Instead of admitting as expected to the Islamic clergy that prophecy was dead, that it had come to an end with Muhammad, when interrogated he gently indicated it was still alive inside him. But even more threateningly, and offensively, he allowed prophecy to spread unchecked not just forward into the present or future. He also followed it far into the past-openly announcing that his own tradition of the dawn reached back way beyond Muhammad to the earliest Greeks and Persians. That was one of the main reasons for his execution: that he made the mistake of treading in the footsteps of the Ancients. In fact aside from describing this troublesome leaven or restless ferment as eternal, he had another name for it too. At times he also called it “the leaven of the Pythagoreans”. And he traced this livingness back not just to the sacred figure of Hermes but very specifically, very explicitly, to somebody else in particular-the philosopher and prophet Empedocles. 7


Just like some cosmic cycle, the prophetic impulse to find life in death is always going to be met by the deceptive need to turn life into death. Even through his final role as a martyr, not to mention many of the details in his teachings, Suhrawardi was following the traces of one very particular prophetic tradition: the lineage stemming from the great Gnostic known as Seal of the Prophets, Mani. And as is bound to be the case with such sacred traditions, that heretically challenge every cherished collective belief, the most potent threat to the threats it poses is never going to come only from outside. On the contrary, it’s going to come from the innermost circle-in exactly the same way that it also comes from inside us. As a twentieth-century Ishraqi Corbin lived, for the most part unnoticed, the life of a knight: a spiritual knight entrusted with upholding the laws of chivalry. And in his case this meant, especially, always looking for the absolute best inside the people around him. That was his protection but also his vulnerability, even naivety. This is why during the times he spent in Iran forming collaborations, forging friendships, creating alliances, he learned to expect the highest and finest among his closest colleagues; assumed they too, like him, understood the mystery of that



invisible bond which comes from belonging to the inner church beyond any empty formalities of external religion or conversion. It was this inner bond, this direct link between heart and heart, that he believed would let “my Iranian friends feel perfectly at ease” with him as they all laboured together in “a friendship free from any mental reservation or ulterior motive”. 8 But, needless to say, things didn’t quite work out that way. It was the same story whether Henry Corbin was present or absent; still alive or already dead. His most intimate and influential Iranian colleagues just couldn’t resist, whenever the opportunity presented itself, criticizing him sharply for failing to take a physical teacher by converting to Islam. The irony is that they were perfectly familiar with the altogether legitimate tradition, inside Islam, of the so-called Uwaisis: Sufis who happen to have no outer teacher because they have been initiated, all alone with their teacher alone, by an invisible sheikh. They also knew very well how these rare Uwaisis are supposed to be guided and sustained by the spirit of Khidra mysterious figure often identified with the prophet Elijah. At times they were even tempted to cite the Uwaisis as a direct and obvious parallel to the case of Corbin, only to dismiss such a parallel straight away. After all, Corbin’s appeal to the reality of an inner teacher was plainly little more than the fantasy of a dreamer; the product of too active an imagination. And what was equally significant was their eagerness to dispose of the inescapable awareness that gripped Corbin of being held fast by an invisible sheikh-the physical and gut-wrenching experience Corbin’s wife Stella and I were often drawn to discuss of being pulled in one direction as opposed to another, dragged by the finest intelligence away from every distraction, forced without the slightest choice into the depths of oneself. But, upstanding men of religion that they were, to them this was basically all just words. For them nothing could be simpler



than to turn the ruthless reality of faceless force into some pretty image of Suhrawardi taking Henry Corbin, “almost literally”, by the hand and kindly guiding him from place to place. At the same time, for them such images were only fancy metaphors

meant to gloss over the fact that everything Corbin had done was purely the result of his own conscious choices and wishes and decisions. And in saying all this they were just as much rationalists as every one of those upstanding Jungians who benignly imply that Jung himself was only talking the language of metaphor when he reported being forced and dragged away from everything familiar by the invisible spirit of the depths-because his dedication to plumbing the abyss of the unconscious was, of course, the result of his own very conscious decision and wish and choice.9 That’s only the first half of this little tale, though. And even more significant than the treatment of Corbin by his so-called colleagues is the way they treated Suhrawardi. In the eyes of Corbin, one of the most striking things about Suhrawardi’s vision of sacred history is that it valued ancient Greek sages just as highly as Islamic mystics. It was a vision that saw both West and East as ultimately, not to mention primordially, one. The timeless energy inside the leaven moves through time wherever it wishes and chooses-not where we choose or decide. But for Corbin’s closest Iranian friend and collaborator, who even worked with him in editing the actual texts ofSuhrawardi, that was totally unacceptable. So he did what anyone in his shoes would be bound to do; cut off, ever so subtly, the flow of life through Suhrawardi’s tradition of dawning; did what he could to kill off the living leaven inside it. And instead of mentioning the idea of an “eternal leaven” he silently, absurdly, replaced it with something else: the notion of an “eternal dough”.



Suddenly the mystery so alive in this ferment had been downgraded to some passive substance waiting, inert, to be activated by the right people at the right time-especially by orthodox forces inside the tradition of Islam. Everything was back again under human supervision and conscious control, the borders of orthodoxy not only protected but tightly closed.10 And, needless to say, it’s the same story as Carl Jung’s lava all over again. When Jung made the mistake of talking about the living stream of volcanic lava -spontaneously taking care of everything, bringing everything into its right place, that wouldn’t do at all. We can very comfortably state with perfect assurance what he had been meaning and wanting to say, which is that he himself took good care of everything; put it all in its appropriate place. In other words: the only sensible, dependable solution is to mistranslate. Now everything has been fixed with Suhrawardi, too. To any casual eye, Corbin’s work is being faithfully continuedbut, in reality, discreetly undermined. It’s so simple, so subtle. Everything seems and sounds the same, but nothing is. Just the slightest twist is needed, the tiniest hint of dogmatism or excess rigidity, and the entire dynamic has changed; just one speck of impurity and the original, prophetic vision is lost. And this isn’t only a matter of how some person, here or there, translates a text. It’s a question of how each of us lives, at every moment of any day or night. Whenever we let go of ourselves because we don’t trust enough, or there is something deep inside we are desperate to forget, then we have missed our chance. But if we hold on too tight-convince ourselves we’ve mastered what our little minds can never grasp-the betrayal is complete and the damage has already been done.


The tenderness in Carl Jung’s confession of his “extraordinary joy” at being completely understood by Henry Corbin, while the rest of his life was a more or less total “intellectual vacuum”, is like the intimacy of horses recognizing each other by their scent. And, needless to say, an equal tenderness is called for if we are going to understand the nature of this understanding. But, instead, it’s been sucked up and away into the vacuum of total incomprehension. Nowadays the authoritative account of Corbin’s relationship to Jung has it that, after meeting him, he got terribly excited; had a wonderful intellectual honeymoon with Jung’s ideas; was quick to assert his freedom and sooner or later had left any Jungian influence behind. And this had to happen, we are told, because Jung and Corbin were different. Jung carved in stone and Corbin didn’t, so it would be absurd to imagine there could be any enduring empathies or profound similarities between them. These encounters of independent-minded thinkers are always just a flash in the pan.11 In fact, though, that’s not how things happened at all-for a very good reason. This archetypally American story of excitement and instant thrills only touches on the outermost surface, the external, the



exoteric: on what Jung called the world of personality no. 1. And such a superficial approach is bound to end up utterly clueless in the face of what Henry Corbin, for his part, referred to as the true inwardness of esotericism or the esoteric. The first time that Corbin and Jung ever met was during the late summer of 1949. After the Eranos conference in southern Switzerland Jung invited Corbin back to his home on the outskirts of Zurich for a discussion that, “so warm and open, so full of promise for the future”, lasted for hours. And they had plenty to talk about-not, as one might naively think, by butting heads over this particular issue or that but by exploring together the kinds of awareness which are needed for gaining access to the inner truth behind every external issue. For instance it’s no coincidence that they both, quite independently of each other, had been absorbed in uncovering and evoking the cognitio matutina or “dawn consciousness” buried inside us all: the selfless awareness which, still inspired by the wisdoms of the night, hasn’t yet been contaminated by the irresistible urge at the sunset of a civilization to exploit any spiritual truth until it becomes one more diabolical tool in our all-too-human hands.12 Then, three years later, came the great encounter for which Corbin would say all their previous meetings had been just a preparation-their encounter over Jung’s Answer to Job. Henry Corbin’s enormous review of the book is what prompted Jung to write that it was Corbin who had given him not only “the rarest of experiences, but the unique experience, of being completely understood”. And it might seem tempting to dismiss this statement as no more than the enthusiastic acceptance of the enthusiastic review of one, particular book. But that would be to miss the point entirely.



For Jung Answer to Job was the one, and only, book he ever published that was brought directly into existence from the depths of the sacred inside him. It, not he, had done the writing as it swept like a hurricane right through him. At the same time he described hearing it as music: the same music Corbin, too, would hear when he sat down to read it. Everyone else was panicking about the book’s acceptability; desperately doubting or attacking it; nobly trying to rationalize it; justify it. But Corbin and Jung were the two people who silently listened.13 The acuteness of the situation was perfectly clear to Jung. Writing this one book brought him face to face with the most essential aspect of his whole work, of his real task. And the entire medical profession-psychiatrists, healers, cliniciansdidn’t have the slightest idea what that work or that book was about. This doesn’t mean he just gave other professionals the cold shoulder, though, or dismissed them for their total lack of understanding. On the contrary, with striking humility and the rarest honesty he realized that their attitude of defensive mockery and aggressive stupidity was also his; that the typically dumb medical point of view which had infected them had infected him, as well; that their resistance to the numinous reality of the sacred was, at the same time, the stubborn resistance and idiocy of his own “dull conscious mind” which will always claim it knows what it never can. Now, of course, everything works exactly in reverse. We all have Jung’s wisdom implanted like some clever little computer in our dull conscious minds and our understanding is crystal clear even when we don’t understand a thing. 14 But that’s not the whole story, either, because he didn’t just find himself confronted with the incomprehension of indepen-



dent scientific experts or of the expert scientist inside him. He also found himself face to face with the incomprehension of his well-intentioned followers. And from their initial reactions to the book, even before it was officially published, he realized that the Jungians too are no different from anyone else. It was the same situation, all over again, as with Christ’s disciples falling asleep in the garden at Gethsemane. Far from Jungians being able to fill the abysmal void in which he was so accustomed to living, that intellectual vacuum also consisted of them. 15 This was the vacuum, the terrible aloneness, that Henry Corbin stepped into. And as for what it was that made his response to Answer to Job so special, the answer could hardly be plainer. His long review of the book, which Jung considered not only so rare but so completely unique in its understanding, presented Answer to job from start to end as a work of prophecyand Jung, himself, as a prophet in the truest sense of the word.16 Of course Jung’s closest Jewish colleagues would also try to say as much, in their own ways. Erich Neumann, for his part, would compare the Jung of Answer to job with Abraham in his typically focused but suggestive style. James Kirsch, shortly before he died, would devote a passionate lecture to painting the Jung who wrote Answer to Job as the greatest prophet of our age. And it’s to Kirsch, too, that we owe one of those vivid details which lend an altogether new complexion to our understanding of the time when Jung was working on his Red book: “He, himself, told me that during the years in which he received the revelations, i.e., from 1912 to 1916, his face became quite luminous, radiant, like that of Moses, and that people were afraid to look at him.”



But Kirsch, as Jung’s friend, was afflicted with an insight that psychologically he couldn’t handle. And what made Henry Corbin’s extended discussion of Jung as creator of Answer to job so exceptional is that-because of his own immersion in a living prophetic lineage stretching all the way from Persian Sufis back even beyond the ancient Greeks-he lived what he wrote. That’s why he could not just describe, but also recognize, the most intimate tastes and smells of prophecy so well.17


The discussions over Answer to Job continued between Jung and Corbin during visits, by both Corbins, to Jung’s home in the Zurich suburb of Kiisnacht; also at Bollingen. But there is one particular meeting they had, in September 1955, which is worth mentioning. Years later, after Jung was already dead, Corbin would look back at it with special fondness as well as regret because-“alas!”-it was the last in-depth encounter they ever managed to have. And it just so happens that the handwritten notes he made of that discussion, straight after the meeting had taken place, still survive. The notes are full of “yes, but”; of agreements followed by subtler points of disagreement. And anyone who skimmed through them without paying attention could even imagine Corbin wanting to complain because Jung wouldn’t simply accept, or submit to, his personal point of view. Again, though, that would be to misunderstand the situation completely. Corbin lists, from memory, the subjects they discussed: music, God and soul and devil, therapy and revelation, vision and visionary consciousness, psychological integration and the sacred, going beyond the profane and leaving the rational intellect behind, Ibn al-‘Arabi and the mystical identity with God, true individuation as becoming God or God’s secret.



But at the same time he also lists the subtleties of movement from subject onto subject, with the conversation gracefully shifting through the most delicate and esoteric aspects of Sufi teaching. In fact just to follow that movement, step by step, is to realize what this conversation really was-not some clumsy rough-and-tumble of different ideas, but a dance. 18 And anyone at all familiar with the practices of Sufism will recognize this dance for what it is. In Persian as well as Turkish its name is sohbet-the traditional name for the inexplicable closeness and pleasure and joy felt by the pure-hearted in each other’s company. This is the reason why “Sufis say there are three ways of being with the mystery: prayer, then a step up from that, meditation, and a step up from that,” sohbet or the supreme joy of mystical dialogue. To be drawn into the reality of sohbet is suddenly to have the direct experience that, instead ofjust talking to some other human, you are speaking with “a person like the dawn”. And the funny thing is that, right at the climax of noting down this conversation with Jung, Corbin even states explicitly what’s going on. “Supreme joie du dialogue”, he carefully records: the supreme joy of dialogue. But he’s not just noting down some theoretical idea they discussed, one more passing subject of conversation. He is also recording what actually took place in that space between him and Jung-as an immediate continuation and confirmation of the “joie extraordinaire” or “extraordinary joy” Carl Jung had already experienced on being so uniquely, so completely, understood by Henry Corbin. In other words, what they were talking about and what they were doing were one and the same thing. Their discussion was, itself, the experiences they were discussing. 19 And to have left their interaction there, in the borderless formlessness of infinite mystical union, would psychologically have been a total disaster.



But Corbin was no fool-which is why, at the end of his notes, he marks the stage of bringing everything back again into a world of separation. There is Jung, and there is Corbin, and there is a healthy reminder of the differences between them because Jung will always be the psychologist and healer; Corbin will never stop being the mystic and metaphysician. Or as Corbin himself explains, Jung’s main focus will always be on the case of some sick patient needing help while mine will always be on the ideal case of a mystic. And then he adds the three words, in ancient Greek, which bring everything to a close: monos pros monon, “alone to alone”. This, originally magical and mystical, expression was a key theme for Corbin because it conveys so well the nature of our invisible bond with the divine reality inside us. For him it captures the infinitely simple, but endlessly mysterious, essence of true individuation-of the process which allows would-be humans to grow up to become real individuated humans, genuinely “solitary, authentically alone, freed from every collective norm” because they just let themselves be held in a constant alignment with the eternal aloneness of their higher self. Here is that same inner secret, again, for which Corbin liked quoting the prophet Isaiah’s Secretum meum mihi; “My secret is for me”. And it’s a secret which always will be monos pros monon, alone to alone, “in the sense that no one else is present to such intimacy”. But this, too, isn’t all. Behind that mystical sense of connection to one’s own divine reality there is another, even more ancient meaning of those words. Monos pros monon also can refer to the most intimate conversation and dialogue between two human beings. And as a matter of fact this particular meaning features right at the start of that review Corbin wrote for Answer to job.



Or to be more precise: this is how he introduces not just his review, or the book, but Jung himself. Jung, he launches straight into explaining, is one of those very few rarest of people who have become genuinely and authentically alone inside themselves with the divine mystery; have managed to do what’s almost unheard of by separating from every ready-made opinion or collective idea. And “it’s because we find ourselves, here, in the presence of this man alone that I would like to invite all those who are alone to meditate on this book and to listen to this message if they truly are alone.” Of course the terrifying consequence of what he is saying is that hardly anyone is alone because most people are surrounded all the time by their collective projections, cluttered by ghostly illusions, crowded out by constant expectations and aspirations wherever they go. Even so, his conclusion is remorseless. Whoever hasn’t discovered this total inner aloneness is doomed to fail from the very outset in any attempt at understanding Jung, or Jung’s work-because only the alone can understand the alone, monos pros monon. And just how accurate he was in his estimate of Jung, not to mention Jung’s work, is perfectly evident from what we know about the period when Jung himself was being worked on by his Red book. Now we can see in its naked clarity how he conceived of the individuation process: as the way to become God, for sure, but as a way that’s closed off completely from everyone not able to tolerate the cosmic aloneness of their own almost unbearable singleness and uniqueness. To be individuated, as Jung understood, is to become a single distant star-is to have to learn how to live far out in the coldest and most solitary spaces, beyond even the experience of death. And to fail in this process of individuation, which is also the



process of becoming a real human, means being sent to join the swarming masses of the collectively unsatisfied dead. Once again, then, Corbin with his monos pros monon isn’t just listing another quick topic of conversation between him and Jung on one September day in 1955. On the contrary, he is describing the secret dynamic of the conversation itself; the innermost nature of their interaction; the spirit instructing the dance. To anyone else the dance is, naturally, bound to be as inscrutable as the spirit behind it is invisible. Exoterically, people can’t stop themselves obsessing over the obvious differences between Corbin and Jung without ever glimpsing what lies beyond. When Corbin describes coming to a place where formally he had to separate from Jung, the last thing they will guess is that he is just noting what two knights will always have to do at the crossroads-follow their own, lonely path in the search for what both Jung and Corbin knew to be the ultimate mystery of the Grail. Even then the separation is only outer, never inner. But it would never once occur to them that all the outer differences are simply what guarantees the inner aloneness which allows the divine aloneness to flower. And, just as naturally, they’ll fail even to register the comment made by Corbin in his review about “the ultimate, the unforgivable, truth of the alone to alone”. That, as he explains in the obvious hope of not being noticed by anyone unable to understand, is the inexcusable truth of the solitary prophet who is forced to speak out and bear witness to the ultimate aloneness ofGod. 20 Only now is it possible to make out the real thread connecting this meeting, in 1955, to the original creation of Jung’s Answer to Job. When Corbin looked back at that particular meeting,



years later, with such affection and regret there was one specific feature of the encounter which still struck him forcefully. This was the way that the theme of music, which is how they’d begun their dialogue, led back even further to Jung’s original experience of hearing the book playing itself as if it was music. Right at the start of their discussion, Corbin had taken the initiative of asking Jung how he experienced the real power and virtue of music: its therapeutic virtues, its spiritual power. And what touched him most of all was Jung’s reply-which is that “music only has any purificatory virtue if it leads us into an inner visionary experience, using that word in its strongest and prophetic sense”. 21 Again, for Corbin, every single road he travelled with Jung started and ended with prophecy. This could hardly be less surprising, though, when we consider the main themes and interests that held both men together. One simply has to think of Khidr: the mysterious prophet and inner guide, more real than any outer teacher, who only appears in all his modest greenness to those he allows to see him. And nothing could be less unexpected than the fascination with him these two men shared-considering that for both of them their teachers happened to be, just like Khidr, invisible prophets of the most special kind. 22 It would be easy to add other examples such as their shared passion for Joachim of Fiore, the Christian prophet who pretended not to be a prophet, and their shared awareness of his crucial importance for any true understanding of the West. But then there are the less obvious cases, like the importance of imagination, which take us straight into the powerhouse of their ideas. Jung’s work is famous for the central role it gives to “active imagination”; Corbin’s, for the central role it ascribes to what he



would call the “imaginal” as opposed to the merely imaginary. And with one, as well as the other, a kind of complacency can make it easy to imagine one knows exactly what each of them means. The reality is, though, that at the back of their ideas about imagination lies one ancient notion known to both of them by its Latin name. That’s the idea of imaginatio vera: of real or true imagination. This profoundly paradoxical idea, which derives from ancient Hermetic and mystical traditions, is like the hidden heart beating at the core of everything else they said or did. For both of them alike, and in this they were perfectly at one, it’s the forgotten principle that divides reality from all our usual self-indulgent fantasies; our constant imaginary thinking. At the same time this true or real imagination is the power responsible for creating everything around and inside us, from our inner thoughts right out to the stars. It’s also the power that can bring us back into the productive, functioning centre of ourselves-because, as Jung states the matter so succinctly, “the real is what works”. And historically, as Corbin knew only too well, this aptitude for “true imagination” is the rare faculty that belongs to one particular kind of person. It always has been reserved, above all, for prophets. 23


Henry Corbin arrived back in Paris from Tehran, for the very last time, at the beginning of 1978: his final return to the West from the place he had come to consider his spiritual home. Inwardly, during the months leading up to his death that October, he was living more and more in a world of prophetsand of the mysterious inner music he already had discussed with Jung a quarter of a century earlier. Outwardly, right to the end there were people yapping at his heels from every corner wanting their meal; their little pound of flesh. Even so, in the West just as much as anywhere else, his chivalrous ethic held him back from objecting when they twisted or manipulated his writings and ideas to suit their own self-centred ends. His policy was crystal clear. He felt duty bound never to criticize colleagues openly or disagree with them in public; only to emphasize the points on which they agreed; even, if necessary, to invent the points of agreement; and, especially when disappointed or betrayed, to keep addressing individuals as his dear colleague and friend. 24 And among the worst problems he had to face, back in the West, were the Jungians. On one level, in the spirit of collegiality he was happy to offer them his fullest encouragement and support. On another level he was exhausted by them, along with



any number of other people or things: sick to death of the way they kept psychologically pushing him over the edge by trying to convert the Sufi ideas he had been introducing to the West into a tool they could exploit with their all-too-human hands . For instance there was the case of James Hillman. Jimmy from New Jersey had a truly brilliant, scintillating, fearless mind. And in a very public move he decided to make not just Carl Jung but also Henry Corbin the two “immediate fathers” of what, eventually, he would choose to refer to as his imaginal psychology. What was kept much less public, and what Stella described to me in the greatest detail on more than one occasion, is how things turned out when Hillman made his pilgrimage to Paris to ask Corbin’s blessing for this “imaginal psychology” of his. With only Stella present, Corbin yelled at Hillman for misusing and abusing the language of the Sufis; denounced his appropriation of the word “imaginal” as totally illegitimate; and left the room in a storm after asking his wife to show him out. After that, of course, Corbin’s chivalry prevented him from openly offering any criticisms or ·even the slightest hint of disagreement. And in public Hillma!l would remain, to the end, his dearest colleague and friend. 25 But this isn’t to say that when he felt the full burden of the situation weighing down on him, as it did just a few months before he died, he didn’t issue warnings: the clearest, strongest warnings about reducing spiritual truths to the level of trivial intellectualizing and cheap psychologizing. Naturally, though, Hillman paid no notice and neither did anyone else. Or to be a little more precise, American intellectuals would come out in force to criticize Corbin severely for even daring to issue warnings. Everyone, we are told, has the right to make anything out of anything-and for elders to warn their juniors is nothing but stuffy, old-fashioned, patriarchal authoritarianism.



And in one of those strange ironies it’s safer not to notice, Corbin happened to be more familiar than almost anybody else with the old Persian sacred traditions that vividly depict young people’s disrespectful refusal to heed the warnings of their elders as the surest pointer to the dissolution and destruction of a culture; to the death and ending of an age. For him it was an indescribable pain to watch what’s most sacred being turned into a plaything and to witness the powerful ancient prophecies being fulfilled right in front of his eyes. 26 Nothing could be wider of the mark, though, than to think that the Jungians he encountered would only be a problem for Corbin in his old age. Since first coming into contact with them he had always found their collective unconscious fondness for imitation and clever cliches and second-hand, warmed-over ideas a total travesty of what Jung himself valued above anything else: the fullness of individuation, a total inner aloneness, the willingness to be guided inwardly wherever that guidance leads and “with all the consequences this entails”. 27 But, by the end of Corbin’s life, Jung had already been gone for over fifteen years-which was a long enough time that, under the pressure of constant bombardment from Jungians, he sometimes mentally forgot what it had all been about. On a certain level, the meetings between the two of them had drifted into almost a distant memory. Even so, the essence never changed. The love and affection, respect and inner gratitude he felt towards Jung ran just as deep. 28 And so did his loyalty. It can be easy to miss the significance of the way that Corbin’s closest Iranian collaborator, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, used to keep on taunting and needling him by denouncing Carl Jung as a misguided fraud. Nasr belonged to a band of intellectuals



and would-be esotericists who called themselves Traditionalists. Mostly, aside from Nasr himself, these Traditionalists were Europeans who had become converts to Islam and somehow believed this entitled them to speak with authority about all the world’s religions-not to mention everything else, including Jung’s psychology. To begin with, some of them had an undeniable quality of piety; even saintliness. And a fair amount of what they said could be a little banal, to be sure, but wise enough. The most noticeable thing was not so much the rigid orthodoxy of their intellectualism as their tendency to pontificate about subjects they simply couldn’t understand. 29 In a peculiarly unconscious re-enactment of the fullscale assault by ancient Platonists, almost two thousand years earlier, on the Gnostics they launched the most vicious attacks against Jung-making all the same mistakes as the Platonists of substituting their supposedly valid beliefs for the immediacy of direct experience, of laying claim to the possession of some “primordial tradition” which was nothing but a manufactured fantasy. They would write at length with the greatest apparent learning about esotericism but without realizing that when you talk like this about the esoteric you turn it, just like Jung’s spirit of our time nicely dressing up as the spirit of the depths, into its exact exoteric opposite. And even though many of these Traditionalists were Muslims, the fact had mysteriously escaped them that with all their theorizing they were violating the essential spirit of Islam. In laying out their grand systems and mental schemes they’d forgotten how, according to the Qyr’an, every human structure is just another speck of dust waiting to be swept away from the Face of God. 30



As a young man, Henry Corbin’s initial approach to them had been open-handed as well as diplomatic; but when he came up against the full force of their hidebound righteousness that didn’t last for long. And, much later, every time that Nasr chose to lash out at Jung it was Corbin who passionately sprang to his defence. By standing up for Jung he was fighting in support of what, to him, would always be most precious. The truth is that it was Jung, as spokesperson for the unknown spirit of the depths, who had turned into a living embodiment of Khidr-and it was the so-called Traditionalists who “really hit the roof’ when Jung as Khidr appeared on the scene out of nowhere to point people back again towards the source of life. Any superficial differences in opinion between Jung and Corbin faded into insignificance compared to this. That’s why, even when Corbin was trying to describe to westerners the realities of spiritual experience in ancient Persia or among Persian Sufis, he found himself being brought straight back to Jung. Or as he explained: we are dealing here with realities which are so subtle and so archetypally powerful but “so alien to our normal modern consciousness that, without the teaching of C.G. Jung, it would be difficult to get any sense of what they mean as a lived . ” experience. And as he also expressed himself far more personally, trying to convey in public his infinite gratitude to Jung: “It was at Eranos that the pilgrim who had arrived from Iran was destined to encounter the one who, through his Answer to job, made him understand the answer he was bringing inside himself from Iran. The path towards the eternal Sophia”-the same Sophia painted by Jung for his Red book as the lived experience of the soul who snatches you away into eternity before helping you, or at least some part of you, to return. 31



But then there is the even more significant fact that Corbin wrote what almost amounted to a whole book, which has just been published recently, about Jung. He wrote it with one key purpose in mind which was to show how, when understood as it should be, Jungian psychology is the only real equivalent for westerners of Zen or Tibetan Buddhism in the East. And it’s the only real equivalent because, beyond the dogmatism of Traditionalists as well as the dogmatism of Jungians, it offers direct access to the essence of spiritual experience-the original “primordial experience”, potentially available to all of us in the West but rejected for so long as heretical, which has been banished century after century by the dogmatism of the Christian Church. 32 Naturally there is the strangest paradox here-that an orientalist who spent the whole of his adult life specializing in Persian traditions and spent half of it feeling at home outside of Europe would point back, so emphatically, to his own western culture. But this is exactly what Corbin did. And it’s also why he felt so little sympathy for the western Traditionalists who took what they thought were new identities by converting to Islam and, in some cases, abandoned their own original culture for dead. To him, everything he did in the East was intended as an act of service to the West. He knew he would always, first and foremost, be a westerner; that his ultimate duty was to contribute to the West; to help heal it, rescue it from its forgetfulness, return it to its spiritual source. 33 And it’s important to understand just what he saw when, as a westerner, he looked at Jung and Jung’s psychology-which for him as an outsider was far more than some specialized technique. It was Jung’s knowledge, his real science, of the soul. In the work he wrote about Jung, and about Jung’s teaching of individuation, he describes exactly what he found himself



looking at. I see, he says, the arrival of the dawn. I see the sun rising in the east. But by this he didn’t mean the physical east. He meant the inner east: the east inside us all. To reject our western culture by looking to the geographical east for one’s identity and true self, for teaching and guidance, is the perfect way to end up lost; to get ripped up, as Corbin quotes directly from Jung, by our roots; or as Jung also says, to forget we ever had a garden and try to feed ourselves by gobbling up foreign fruits. And Corbin explains that this point of the sun rising at a new dawn which he encounters in the work ofJung is the same as the moment of dawn or ishraq in the Sufi teaching of Suhrawardi. It’s strange to see how not only did Corbin understand Jung in the light of this Sufi tradition but Jung only felt completely understood by a Sufi. 34 This could all sound very pretty, except that prettiness is not at all what it’s about. What it is about is the last thing we want to know about, which is the responsibility we have as westerners to face the darkness of our own culture without looking away. And nothing could be more wrong than to imagine that Corbin was too spiritual to face this inner darkness. He didn’t talk too much about it because he saw that as Jung’s job; but he knew perfectly well when to face the darkness, and how. It can be very useful to study and learn from eastern teachings-except when you try to use them to cover over the darkness and emptiness you feel inside. They may be able to throw some light on your problem, but they are never going to solve it. And they aren’t going to solve it because the only real solution ever comes from the problem itself. When Corbin wanted to illustrate this he turned back, appropriately enough, to western legends of the Grail. The best way he knew of making his point was to quote the beautiful



saying: Seule guerit la blessure la lance qui la fit, “The wound is only healed by the lance that made it.” Jung, too, was intimately familiar with this same situation in the Grail legend-this impossible task of healing the wound through the instrument that caused it. On one hand, of course, this was precisely his task. On the other, when he talked about it in objective terms, he described this work of returning to heal the gaping wound caused so long ago as the impossible work of the equally impossible saviour or Saoshyant; of the precious jewel, father of all prophets, who comes back after thousands of years bringing a completely new revelation. And just how impossible this task is starts to become clear when one finds the courage, if only for a moment, to face that individual but also collective emptiness and darkness inside oneself-without trying to do anything, such as thinking good thoughts or inventing childish schemes, to fill the hole. 35


Shortly before he died, Jung recalled a prophecy his soul had told him-predicting his future when, almost half a century earlier, he still was immersed in the work he was doing on the Red book. She had prophesied that first he would be drawn and quartered; then the different parts of him would be thrown onto scales to be weighed before being sold off. Like so many shamanic realities, this prophecy had the profoundest significance along with the crudest of implications. And helped along by everyone who has no time for the reality of the soul, or the mysteries of prophecy, what she described is precisely what happened. As soon as somebody turned up, especially from America, with the exciting news that another organization had been created for training potential future Jungians he’d feel crushed: devastated. Also, far closer to home, it was only thanks to a great deal of artful blackmail and trickery that people were finally able to persuade him to accept the inevitability of an institute being founded at Zurich in his name. But even at the grand opening in 1948 he had trouble concealing his grudgingness or reluctance about the whole affair. Somehow the words managed to slip out that “My grandfather, Carl Gustav Jung once founded a home for retarded children. Now I am founding one for retarded adults.” And



behind what he said was the implication, as always, that people wanting to understand his work simply had themselves to blame if they tried consulting those who claim to act or speak in his name. They should go straight to his books, instead. Occasionally he did decide to turn up at the new institute, but not often. In line with his usual philosophy of non-interference he deliberately, and very humorously, kept aloof; left everybody to do the kinds of things they were going to do anyway, make fools of themselves according to their choosing, draw their own conclusions, cause all the usual confusions. 36 There was just one single condition he insisted on when agreeing to so much hocus-pocus, because it was the only thing that to him really counted. This was that the primary aim and focus of the Zurich institute would be to pursue interdisciplinary research into a whole range of subjects he took great care to list and name. That it would become a place for training therapists was the last possible purpose he had in mind. In fact even the institute’s director stated, right from the start, that to create training courses for would-be Jungians would be a total absurdity because the individuation process for every individual person is so utterly unique. Soon enough, though, the institute had been turned into a training centre for producing future Jungians while any plans for in-depth research were abandoned. And, thanks to that peculiar inverting of reality one so often encounters in such situations, it didn’t take long before people were looking back amazed at Jung’s failure to grasp the true aim of the institute or understand what its purpose was meant to be. 37 This is how delicately, but persistently and insidiously, history is rewritten. In Jung’s own name, officially and very efficiently, Jungians were managing to get rid ofJung. Naturally there could and still can be any number of plausible excuses, round-about reasonings, in-depth defences to justify the ongoing march of



evolution. But the result was described with horrifying simplicity by Wolfgang Pauli-the famous physicist, and collaborator with Jung in their work on synchronicity, who had been invited to serve as scientific patron before threatening to resign because

the institute had totally betrayed its principles. According to him the grandly named C.G. Jung Institute had already devolved into a conveyor belt aimed at the mass production of what can never be reproduced; into some kind of Faustian assembly-line mentality although, of course, inbuilt in this mentality is a refusal to see the truth about itself. And there is more than a little irony in the fact that it was Pauli as a scientist who felt he had to defend the unconscious against therapists who were professional experts at ruining their patients’ dreams. 38 But it wasn’t only Wolfgang Pauli who happened to see things this way. Henry Corbin, too, stood appalled as he watched those who called themselves Jungians taking the discoveries made by Jung in the depths of the unconscious and then converting them into mechanical tools-into little instruments or some kind of automatic apparatus they can conveniently switch on in any and every situation regardless of how appropriate, or inappropriate, the device might happen to be. For him, as for Pauli, it was a horror to see people with their collective fantasies about individuation turning discoveries ofsuch profundity into such mechanical and even destructive cliches. In the case of Corbin, though, what astonished him most of all wasn’t the Jungians. It was the fact that, when he mentioned his very negative impressions to Jung, Jung immediately and from the core of his whole being agreed. 39 There is no real need to say that actually there was no need to be so surprised. Jung himself had made it only too clear in his writings how painfully aware he was of the tendency for well-meaning followers and disciples to get everything back to



front by confusing discoveries with dogmas; by never learning truly to explore or discover for themselves; by snatching at the end result of someone else’s learning experience “in the hope of making the process repeat itself” and, in so doing, “turning the whole process upside down”. “This”, as Jung adds, is how it happened in the past “and how it still happens today.” Then there are all the times he used to write about the endless rubbish his pupils loved fabricating and inventing on the basis of things he himself had said, or published; about all the people who claim to speak as legitimate representatives in his name but essentially don’t have a clue “what it’s all about”. And that’s not even to mention his own observations of how, at those moments which matter most, the so-called “Jungian gang” were neither better nor wiser than any other perfectly ordinary humans-let alone the observations made by others about how quickly Jungians could turn into little more than monsters. 40 But as for what it is that Henry Corbin found most surprising in Jung’s full-bodied response: Jungians have already enjoyed for years playing around with the report that once, in an exasperated although humorous mood, Jung had announced to a group of his followers “Thank God I am Jung and not a Jungian.” What they apparently are not aware ofis that this was much more than some kind of in-joke intended for Jungians alone. As a matter of fact Stella Corbin used to describe to me how Jung physically came alive from tip to toe at the exact same moment he would say these words, to her and her husband, each time they met in private. And she remembered in particular when the two Corbins were leaving Jung’s Zurich home one evening and, still standing on the doorstep, he boomed out at them through the night: “Thank God I’m not aJungian!” 41 This problem ofJungians was inseparable, to his mind, from the problem of institutes created in his name as well as from the



even bigger problem of the future that lay ahead for his work. And it’s no accident at all that-when he spoke about the Zurich institute, in particular, to people he trusted-his forecast was rather bleak. At times he would describe it as coming along well enough, only to add what a danger there is of professional teachers and teaching systematically killing off every true idea. That, he adds, is the sad fate one can hardly escape; but with a great deal of care it should be possible, at best, to keep the boat “afloat for a while” and help those archetypal ideas to live out their destiny whether inside the institute or outside it. And then he notes that no real truth can ever be destroyed, however desperately people try to wipe it out. He also could be even more specific, though, about all the problems of followers and disciples-insisting that “the Institute would be lucky if it did not outlive its creative uses within a generation”. With other teachers and teachings sprouting up everywhere, all of them bursting to promote themselves into eternity, Jung’s grim view about the future ofany organization created in his name might sound like an extraordinary testimony to his scientific modesty. But to understand his statements that way would be to misinterpret them entirely, because he wasn’t comparing his own work to the work of some modern scientist. He was comparing it to the work of Christ. For him, everything he said about living ideas and the impossibility of keeping them alive in an institutional organization was based directly on his understanding of what happened to Christ’s teaching as it was absorbed; totally transformed; killed off bit by bit by the Christian Church. Everything, naturally, has its place in the grand scheme of things. As he used to say: the spirit and fire of the Christ had to vanish, be stamped out, so that the lovers of institutionalism



could exist. The birth of the Church was simply Christ’s second crucifixion and death. And, after that, the only way the spirit of Christ could stay alive was inside the heart of a few hidden heretics and mystics. Aside from them, the institutions of Christianity would turn into exactly what he predicted would happen to the world of Jungians as soon as he died. Both of them, the one just like the other, would be taken over by the official quackery of priestly posers enthusiastically peddling their fake remedies and dead imitations. But there is one other detail in this picture which can be easy to miss-because even Jung’s virtual prophecy that the institute in Zurich was unlikely to stay alive for more than a single generation is nowhere near as arbitrary as it might seem. That great predecessor of his in the lineage of heretics and Gnostics he belonged to was the prophet Mani; and it was Mani who stated, very specifically, that only the words preserved inside the prophets’ own books are capable of keeping their teaching alive. For all those prophets who failed to take due precautions by either not writing any books, or writing too few, the corruption of their teachings was guaranteed. “Their first disciples already had misunderstood them, and the misunderstandings had multiplied from generation to generation . . . so that in the end the kernel of truth was completely lost in the medley of error.” And that effortlessly brings us to the same point where we started because, “from the Manichaean point of view, the traditional enemies of the other religions were not greater sinners than their apostles, teachers, and propagators. All of them were equally guilty of leading mankind astray from the path of the truth.” 42


It’s not a very welcome surprise nowadays to hear Jung placed back, again, in his own spiritual context because suddenly everything risks making too much sense. And none of this is very good news for any of those many Jungians who have made a business of modernizing and streamlining him; of adapting his psychology to the realities of the twenty-first century by efficiently arranging its exit from the claptrap of disreputable texts such as his Red book. The greatest trouble with such attempts at modernization was always going to be that, to arrange a successful exit from something, one first has to understand what’s being exitedbut really to understand that, in this case, is to realize there can be no possible exit at all. And the neglected reality this all comes back to is, for Jung, the fact that everything meaningful or worthwhile depends absolutely on the divine will. Each book he ever wrote came to him as a divine task, commissioned by the unconscious. At the same time each genuine contact that he or his books ever happened to have, with anybody anywhere in the world, was the direct result of a divine “grace” working mysteriously beyond the understanding of any human.



He was aware of being able to make himself immediately present through his published words to individuals living in different places, other countries; and this unmediated contact has nothing to do with the structures ofinstitutions or organizations because, as he explains, it has nothing to do with space and nothing to do with time. In fact a person doesn’t even need to read a word Jung has written, but just hear something about him, to be given instant access to the innermost secret of his being: to what he calls “the divine cause of my existence”. And as he adds, sounding strangely like Christ, “Conforming to the divine will I live for mankind, not only for myself, and whoever understands this message contained in and conveyed by my writing will also live for me.” Everything else-including any other book written about him or even by him-is a total waste of time unless it, too, is produced in conformity with the will of the divine. And as for the forming ofJungian institutes or organizations, certainly anyone could claim that these also have been willed by the divine. But, just as definitely, that won’t be the same divine will which Jung himself had in mind.43 Of course his pessimistic prophesying is not going to be the best of news, either, for the many Jungians who are more spiritually inclined-who look up to him as ushering in the glorious new age of Aquarius, who believe the Christifi.cation of the many is well underway and are ready to come together to celebrate an unprecedented new era oflearning how to co-create with the divine, who recognize in the Red book’s publication a wonderfully synchronistic sign of our collective advancement to the stage where the whole of his teaching can at last be absorbed and understood. It would be too much to hope such people might realize that all this speculative frenzy is nothing but a transposition of the



brutal modern fantasy about material progress from an economic onto a spiritual plane. It’s exactly the same euphoria; the same insane manipulation of facts and figures; the identical dishonesty and self-deception. The reality is that fifty Red books can be discovered or published, a hundred, and if we don’t know how to read them they will make no difference at all. Each time we clap ourselves on the back for our increasing familiarity with Jung we walk in exactly the opposite direction from Jung himself, who had the terrible modesty to stand face to face with his idiocy and came to understand less arid less about anything as he grew older. As for the Red book itself, it’s about our own blood. The true synchronicity has nothing to do with flushed egos but with the fact that, when he started work on it, the world was being faced with a major calamity-while when the book came to be published, almost a century later, the world would be facing calamities far greater. And unless we are prepared to go even deeper into the darkness of the unconscious than Jung went, unless we are willing to find the superhuman strength it takes to laugh as he did at the prospect of total destruction, we don’t stand a chance of getting close to the real spirit and fire. As for that Christification of the many: Jung gave good reasons why it luckily hasn’t happened yet, which means the Christ is still free to come and go with the breeze. As for co-creating with the divine, or becoming divine, the only divinity Jung could find the honesty to speak about was the superhumanly divine power we together now have to destroy ourselves. 44 And that just leaves the age of Aquarius. To be sure, Jung was able to speak as a v1S1onary of a “new religion” which finally will emerge six hundred years in the future-of the gigantic temple already starting to be built



invisibly by countless people “in India and China and in Russia and all over the world”. But there are some essential aspects of such a vision that we owe it to ourselves to take note of. First, it’s quite clear from Jung’s account that this vast temple whose foundation and pillars are already being built by any number of people everywhere around the world isn’t just the work of Jungians. Its structure, and nature, reach far beyond that. Second, those few people involved with him who here or there are truly working for the future are helping in their small way to build not the new psychology but what he refers to as “the new religion”-one more sign out of a thousand that for Jung his work was always, first and foremost, a matter of religion. And third, this isn’t the only place where he happens to talk about a period six hundred years in the future. Qyite to the contrary: he also used to explain that he was perfectly resigned to the prospect of his own work not being recognized or acknowledged for a very long time. In fact he anticipated a future where it simply would disappear, along with pretty much everything else, due to war or an age of “barbarian disintegration”. His one slender hope was that “ifour civilization survives or somewhere mankind survives, perhaps in Australia or God knows where”, then his work might somewhere or somehow be dug up once more. And in that case he would share the fate of Meister Eckhart whose work was buried and forgotten for six hundred years, then suddenly got dug up again so people could realize he was one of the most important mystics who had ever lived. Here, too, there are some crucial points to take note 0£ Once again, nowhere is there the smallest trace of him wanting to be remembered as a famous scientist because again it’s all a matter of religion: of comparing himself, a lonely figure in the modern world, to one of the few greatest mystics from the Middle Ages.



But that’s only the least of what Jung here is actually saying. For him the most likely future lying ahead of us all is global annihilation, massive war, the catastrophic descent into barbarism on the part of a civilization which had existed for thousands of years. And if-only “ij”-some tiny remnant of that civilization still happens to survive after the coming period of utter destruction, then there is a distant chance of his work being dug up somewhere so it can be a part of the new world. Of course, on the large scale, that doesn’t speak well for the survival of our own world or for the continuity of everything we have come to consider ours. On a vastly smaller scale it’s also another little dent in the self-importance of organized Jungians, because none of their busyness is going to make the tiniest real difference; isn’t going to change the inevitable outcome in the slightest. If six hundred years in the future Jung’s work is dug up, just as Meister Eckhart’s had been dug up, that will be due to the grace inherent in his work itself and won’t have anything to do with the interpretations or misinterpretations imposed by followers. For a long while, Tibet has had its tradition of terma: spiritual treasures which are buried and forgotten during the darkest of times only to get dug up by someone, or spontaneously reveal themselves, when the time is due. But the West has its own tradition of these buried treasures, too. 45 Now it should be clear why, in the greater scheme of things, Jung had so little energy for helping Jungians along with their institutional dreams. It should be even clearer, though, that what lies ahead for humanity in Jung’s own mind is much more than just a speed bump or two. Instead, what he inwardly foresaw was the darkest period of forgetfulness. And this brings us straight to the most important point of all.



Always Jung would emphasize that the future is totally alien and incomprehensible to us in the present. Any life and earth and new humanity will be so completely different in the age of Aquarius that it’s a waste of time to speculate about them in our old, dying age. He explained how one aeon always provides the seeds and the seedbed for the aeon to come. But, as the ancient Gnostics pointed out, no one tries to sow in summer or harvest in winter. And as Jung pointed out, what the seeds planted now will sprout into is none of our business to be sticking our noses into; is none of our concern. What is our concern is what none of us, rushing towards our doom, has too much time left for-which is to learn about our real culture and psychology by learning, naturally with the help of Latin or Greek, about our past. The first thing to appreciate is that times of transition from one age into another are always intensely difficult. Then the second is that any transition becomes not just difficult, but more or less impossible, when the lessons of the age being left behind haven’t been fully learned. This is why Jung as prophet placed so much internal emphasis on his private life of voluntary suffering and conscious sacrifice, and is why those commentators and interpreters who quaintly claim his psychology was aimed at transcending all the Christian values couldn’t be more wrong. It’s why he also emphasized that, sinking as we are into a state of darkness, we are still living inside the Christian aeon of Pisces which means “we shall need Christian virtues to the utmost”; and it’s why, far from abandoning those close to him, he kept supporting and encouraging them. After all, a little encouragement in the face of the impossible is always welcome. We have to understand that prophets involved in the impossible work of saving the world from itself aren’t interested in profit and loss. They don’t do what they do for the sake of failure, or success.



They do it because they have to. But, needless to say, that doesn’t in any way lighten the abysmal darkness lying ahead. To fantasize about a new world or a new humanity hundreds of years away is utter futility because the only thing worthy of us as conscious humans is to confront, with all our strength and honesty, our own present along with its immediate future. What he saw in this particular transition was something far worse than the usual affair, at such times, of mass melancholy and despair. “Now we are coming to Aquarius”, as he wrote to a friend, “and we are standing only at the very beginning of this apocalyptic development! ” And, as he would do more than once, he quoted a Latin text from the ancient Sibylline oracles that contains an old visionary prophecy not exactly in line with the new-age celebrations of an Aquarian age: Luciferi vires accendit Aquarius acres, ”Aquarius sets on fire the savage powers of Lucifer.” 46


During the last year of his life, the man who had helped so many people through their depression fell into the deepest depression. In November 1960 Jung wrote some words of explanation to the same Englishman to whom he also wrote, with such simplicity, about the utter ordinariness ofliving an archetypal lifeand about never suspecting the darkness of the modern world could be so dense. He described, for Eugene Rolfe, how a disease which had just almost killed him is what forced him “to understand, that I was unable to make the people see, what I am after. I am practically alone. There are a few; who understand this and that, but almost nobody, that sees the whole.” And he asked: “Why should I live any longer? My wife is dead, my children are all away and married. I have failed in my foremost task, to open people’s eyes to the fact, that man has a soul and that there is a buried treasure in the field and that our religion and philosophy is in a lamentable state. Why indeed should I continue to exist?”47 But he wouldn’t be left alone with his questionings for long. Rolfe was so touched by the letter, he shared it with leading Jungians in London. News about it spread and soon people were flocking around, as they still are, to convince themselves his sense of failure was nothing real; just a momentary lapse; that



he didn’t stay depressed for long and soon was fully back to normal. Also, they’ve been quick to answer his questions for himmore firmly and intensely as time goes by. Of course, they tell him, you didn’t fail! If only you could look at us now, fifty years on, you would see that we are the ones you were waiting for. You have no idea how fast humanity has moved forward since you died. Thanks to you there has been such a collective awakening, so much progress in making the unconscious conscious, that what people couldn’t dream of understanding while you were alive we understand quite easily now. You sowed the seeds. We are the fruit. Needless to say, no one with the exception of Rolfe was very much concerned about Jung: only about themselves, their reputations, especially their self-justification. And in that, they showed themselves incapable either of seeing the whole or of understanding what he was after. Also, they don’t seem to have realized that in making their grand claims to be just the ones he was dreaming of-in warming up the fake Native American prophecy that we are the ones we have been waiting for or, according to the latest popular Jungian jargon, “we are the leaders we have been waiting for”-they might be precisely the reason why, looking ahead, Jung became so depressed in the first place. 48 Failure, for true prophets, is absolutely guaranteed. It’s also why, to the extent that their message is left alone, they will always be unpopular. And the eagerness to see the seeds sown by Jung already bearing fruit might sound ever so humanly natural except that, in the greater scheme of things, it’s to miss the most essential purpose of his work. The real fruit lies, if anywhere, hundreds of years down the line-even though in our own world of instant self-gratification it can seem inconceivable to think of anything taking so long.



And as for that modern cliche about making the unconscious conscious: it can sound immensely impressive when talked about this way. Sometimes a little reality check is helpful, though. Jung, himself, was so concerned with maintaining the balance between consciousness and unconsciousness that he tended to view this exclusive emphasis on making the unconscious conscious as a , summary of Freud’s intentions rather than his own. The law is that, from generation to generation, some things can be made conscious only for others to slip back into unconsciousness; new virtues come into play while old ones fall away on the spinning wheel of time. And where Jung is concerned, few things could matter more right now than to note how-during his last months alive-his ideas about consciousness profoundly changed. There had always been a lingering hint of ambiguity in the importance and value he attached to consciousness. But finally, through his meditations, he was taken into states where he left any trace of conscious awareness far behind and admitted that at the end of the day “he does not trust consciousness in the usual sense any more”. 49 Eventually he managed, in a manner of speaking, towards the end of 1960 to snap out of his depression-even if not straight away. That, in a nutshell, was the beauty of his two personalities. He was, just like Henry Corbin, a master of appearances and disguises; accomplished showman; prodigious diplomat. Right to the end he knew how to smile radiantly for group photographs, enjoy tasting the best of wines. His personality no.1, with its expansive worldliness and joviality, had all the massive grandeur of the swankiest American hotel in Chicago or New York. It was positively presidential. 50



But, underneath, there was something even more massive going on: something no amount of showmanship could manage to hide. And, if you wanted, you could call it war. War was, literally, the ultimate source of his most creative and significant work. It had been the prophetic dreams and visions which kept haunting him during the months before the start of the First World War that would lead him to begin the work on his Red book from which so much else would come. Still, though, it’s not just that Jung was already aware of impending disaster before war ever broke out. He stayed aware of war’s dark reality even after the worst seemed over. When the Second World War at last gave way to peace, most people in Europe were only too happy to begin breathing again; throw themselves into the process of restoration and starting anew; optimistically get back to living life as usual. But Jung couldn’t, because he knew western culture was over. To him Europe was nothing more than a “rotting carcass”, and he could clearly see the same things that anyone whose eyes were open at the time would have seen towards the end of the Roman Empire. For him the nightmare of war had brought the world not to peace, but to “the precincts of hell”. And although it can feel wonderful to go on enjoying what little still survives of a great civilization, deep inside themselves the people know that it’s just “a remnant and that its days are counted”. To Jung, in his awareness, there was no snapping out of the grimness of war; no return to normal. And he was simply forced to stay immersed in that awareness all the time-because if you are concerned in the real sense with saving and preserving the world, that’s exactly what you have to do. If you can’t stop people from acting out their need to go to war, there is ultimately no point in fighting the inevitable. Then



at least you have to salvage, and protect, the secret essence of their culture so that its seeds or embers can be kept alive for some distant future through all the destruction which is still to come. 51


Jung had been trained very well as a lord of war by the spirits of war. His job was to go where no one else will; do and say what others will do their best to forget. While everyone else tries as well as possible to get on with their little business, swallow the fabricated news they are fed and then regurgitate it as verdicts that are never theirs, he would have none of it. As he explained in the Red book, the real reason he could see war coming was because he carried the war inside him. But then, of course, there is no avoidance or escape. Then you are forced to breathe with the inhuman as well as the human, to heave with the sea. And it’s no coincidence that the alchemists described this inner fight to perfection-the immensity of the internal struggle, the “fighting and violence and war”. Appreciating the ways Jung loved living in harmony and sympathy with nature can seem relatively easy. At the same time, though, he was so completely committed to what alchemy calls the work opposed to nature that it can be hard to notice its markers or signs. One of the simplest examples is the fact that the deeper he had to sink into the unconscious for the sake of his writing, the worse his sleep would be disturbed. Over the span of a human



lifetime, this all takes its toll so that what for others is sleep and normalcy is never quite normal any more. And it’s touching to see how, up until the month before he died, he kept struggling and fighting with his weakened body just so he could bring the writing to an end. 52 But then there is also what happened in 1944, seventeen years before his death when he nearly died. People love reading as well as writing about the mystical experiences he had at the time, out on the boundary line between living and dying. Even so, almost no one cares about what he described as happening next-because for us humans even the greatest experiences of blissful ecstasy or mystical union take their toll, ruin us just a little more. He described the torment and torture of being forced back into this, grey, box-like material world. He talked about the unbearable restrictedness and clumsiness and crudeness of physical existence which, of course, is the existence we humans happily run around in with all our subjective dramas of suffering and aspirations and illusions. He explained what an agony it was, literally, to leave the inexpressible fullness of objective reality behind and exchange it for such hollowness; to be separated from the objective world of true imagination beyond our rational fantasies and crazy imaginings. With an honesty that can hardly be appreciated except by those who have experienced what he is referring to, he admits how infuriating and irritating he found everything on his returnmaking a mockery of every easy cliche about psychological integration. And one devastating implication ofwhat he is saying is that the famous experience of mystical union, the tremendous secret of the mysterium coniunctionis kept hidden from us so well, doesn’t take place on the physical level of existence at all. It doesn’t take place here for the simple reason that, just as the Gnostics used to say, this material world is nothing but the



crudest of illusions. The real mystery of union belongs to another reality, not ours; and compared to that reality our physical world, for all its importance, is impossibly empty and pale. He also makes a point of not only saying but repeating like the ancient Gnostics, just like Mani, just like Persian Sufis such as Suhrawardi, that this physical existence he had to return to is a prison. The trouble is that, once you have experienced it as a prison, you don’t wake up one day and-because the sun just so happens to be shining-the bars and the cage are suddenly gone. As Jung himself points out: even though he managed to find his way around again inside his hideous little box and objectively accept it with all its idiotic limitations, for the rest of his life he would always remember it was nothing more than a box. True freedom, once tasted, is something we never forget; and the fact is that, after such an experience, the greater part of us never comes back because it simply couldn’t fit inside the prison. Then there is only a little bit of us left here while the rest of us remains behind. And this is why, especially when he was writing, it became more and more obvious to the people near him that he was living in another world. It’s why, in finishing his last major book, he came up against the experience of transcendence-because to arrive at such a paradoxical place of being impersonally present while, at the same time, profoundly absent you need to be more inhuman than human. It’s also why, during the last few months before actually dying, he spent so much time immersed “in an ‘in between’ state” where our human feelings tend to count for very little and all our normalcies become just a distant memory: a state he had always known about but never had the chance to sink into so deeply. 53 Of course, though, most of the people around him were far too well adapted to a life behind bars to know anything about existence beyond the prison or about the inner realities of war. And there is more than a little to learn from the story of Michael



Fordham, who in many respects was the most influential of the British Jungians; a chief editor of Jung’s collected works; and who has been described as being, together with James Hillman, one of the “two major original figures following in the wake of Jung”. The letter that Jung had ended up writing to Eugene Rolfe, describing his sense of total failure and the inability of anyone to understand his work as a whole, fell into Fordham’s hands. Reading Jung’s confession to his sense of total failure, not to mention his lament about no one understanding his work as a whole, he was none too pleased-and jumped on a plane to Zurich. “I believe that I was, if not the last visitor to Kiisnacht, very nearly so, before Jung’s death”, Fordham explained. “When I arrived he was in his dressing-gown looking very frail. I told him about the letter and how distressed I was about it. I then went on to say how we in England were in a strong position to rebut open misunderstandings and were striving to further recognition of his work. As I talked I started to realize that Jung did not want to hear such reassurances. He seemed to become weaker and weaker, looking at me as if I were a poor fool who did not know a thing. He did not reply but, after a short time, he rose from his chair and I thought he was going to have a fit. All he said was: ‘Fordham, you had better go’ and I walked out of the room feeling sad and a failure. I think he died, if not the next day, at least in the next few days.” That feeling of failure, not only Jung’s but now also his, lingered with Fordham for the rest of his own life. He supposed it must have been Jung’s concern for the survival of humanity, as he went on to speculate, and his intense engagement with such “profound matters that had made him feel that he had not succeeded in his mission. When I came to see him I did not



touch on these matters but spoke superficially. If I had not done that I would have had to convey my thought that it was the delusion of being a world saviour that made him feel a failure.” 54 Here was one of the greatestJungians, editor of his published

works, who never noticed Jung’s delicate insistence that behind the delusion of being a world saviour lies the true inner work of selflessly safeguarding the world-just as behind the delusion of being a prophet lie the agonizingly timeless realities of prophecy. And this just goes to show that you can get on as many planes as you like without ever taking the first step.


At the end of his life in 1961, Jung had visions no one wants to know about. For the few details that still survive we are dependent on his closest collaborator, Marie-Louise von Franz-and an interview she gave in her rough-and-ready English almost twenty years after Jung had died. · When she was asked by her interviewer for the truth about what had happened, her answer was edgy and abrupt: “I don’t want to speak much about it. But he tried to convey to his family some things when he was right dying, and they didn’t get the point, so he called for me. But they wouldn’t let me be called. But one of his daughters took notes, and after his death she gave them to me. There is a drawing with a line going up and down, and underneath is ‘The last :fifty years of humanity’ and some remarks about the final catastrophe being ahead. But I have only those notes.” The interviewer asked her to say how such a prospect made her feel. “One’s whole feeling revolts against this idea!”, she answered. “But since I have those notes in a drawer, I don’t allow myself to be too optimistic.” Even so, she adds, she does try to pray that the catastrophe of humanity being destroyed along with the rest of life on our planet won’t happen-that a miracle will happen instead, because



“I think one shouldn’t give up. If you think of Answer to Job: if man would wrestle with God, if man would tell God that He shouldn’t do it, if we would reflect more, we might just sneak round the corner with not too big a catastrophe.” And on that more hopeful note, relaxing ever so slightly, she brings the subject to a close by offering one final detail. “When I saw Jung last, he also had a vision while I was with him. But there he said, ‘I see enormous stretches devastated, enormous stretches of the earth. But, thank God, it’s not the whole planet.’ So, perhaps, that is what lies ahead.” There are just a few points here, after everything said in this book, that perhaps still need to be made; and the first has to do with Jung’s family refusing to call von Franz. There is something remarkable about how consistent families can be in denying the requests of the dying. I know of a man whose one, final wish while still in his own home was to call for the family cat to be brought and placed on his belly. But his wife and daughter would have none of such nonsense. And it’s not that the business of dying is far too frantic, or serious, to allow for any distractions. It’s that the wishes of the dying have to be denied as a matter of principle, for the sake of control, because to give in to them would be to give in to death itself: to end up getting sucked into its chaotic swirl. By refusing to grant what a dying person asks for, the family stubbornly holds on; unconsciously ensures that the wishes of the living win out over the wishes of death. And often this is only the beginning of an even more unconscious process that keeps dragging everyone downwards, generation after generation. Family members can take control of the dead person’s memory, money, reputation, books-but they have absolutely nothing because the spirit is already gone. And only by consciously, collectively, allowing such a spirit to go free can they ever free themselves.



The second point has to do with that vision von Franz mentions at the end: the vision he had in her presence, the last time she ever saw him, when he was shown vast stretches of the earth altogether devastated and supposedly said to her “thank God it’s not the whole planet”. In theory and on paper, to anybody with little direct experience of visionary realities, that probably sounds just fine. Psychologically, though-and we do happen to be talking here about psychologists-it’s totally wrong. Even blissful visions of mystical union can be powerful enough, in their sheer rawness, to wreck a human being. But visions of catastrophe are far more devastating for any healthy person, let alone for a sick and weakened old man on the edge of death. You don’t just jump out of such a vision so you can announce with your conscious mind “thank God that’s not too bad”, and calmly assess it from outside. You are physically held inside it; caught in its lingering aura. And if Jung was really the one who said “thank God it’s not the whole planet”-rather than von Franz letting her memory impose the comment on him-this will have been the result of her insistently questioning him, as he struggled the best he could to communicate, and dragging out of him some reassurance because that’s what she wanted to hear. Of course this already adds a little wrinkle to the smooth continuity of Jungian tradition which not everyone might be glad to accept. In 2013 I brought up the subject with von Franz’s interviewer and suggested that perhaps her instinctive need to soften the harshness of Jung’s prophecies might have helped to throw a cloak over his own experiences. But, with a commendable firmness, the lady who had interviewed her stated she would have absolutely none of that. Such speculation, she insisted, would be completely meaningless



and lead to utter confusion. Marie-Louise von Franz, with her unfailing thoroughness and carefulness, makes it quite clear that after Jung’s vision of total destruction she visited him on a quite separate occasion and during this visit he had a second visiona vision of far less devastation. To be sure, she admitted, this second vision indicated that the devastation would be enormous; but the prospect now was nowhere near as bad because, unlike with the first vision, there would be no destruction of humanity or end to life on our planet. And it would be so nice to end the discussion here, except that what she was telling me so firmly and forcefully is wrong. That second, and supposedly softer, vision is the one Jung had in von Franz’s presence when she saw him last. But according to her partner and housemate, Barbara Hannah, the last time she ever saw Jung was eight days before he died. And on the other hand nothing could be easier than to understand what von Franz meant by her odd statement that he had his, supposedly first, vision about the terrifying end of humanity “when he was right dying”. “Right”, here, is clearly the best she could do in English to find a direct equivalent for the German word- “gerade”-which . 1y t he same moment “. means “·JUSt “, “exact1y”, “at precise In other words, the vision Jung is supposed to have seen first was experienced by him right at the moment of death; and the vision that supposedly came afterwards had in fact come to him a week earlier. The second vision is the first and the first is the last. As the Gnostics knew, as Empedocles understood so well, we humans can’t help inverting the logic and sequence of reality. Every time we come up against something important, our minds infallibly end up getting everything back to front and upside down. Through her very understandable reluctance to discuss such a horrible subject, or confront it directly, von Franz has



created a perfect example of the ancient phenomenon known as “ring composition”-starting by complaining that she doesn’t want to speak about it, ending by trying as hard as she can to sound some optimistic note, while tucking away what mattered most of all in the middle. And the absurdest part of this magical drama, this modernday re-enactment of the avoidance rituals surrounding what used to be considered taboo, is that it’s totally unnecessary. It completely misses the point because the contrast imagined by von Franz between ultimate destruction and a destruction that “only” devastates enormous stretches of the earth, between Jung’s first vision and the second, is no real contrast at all. Traditionally it has always been understood that-in those gigantic catastrophes which wipe out virtually every last remnant of humanity-somehow and somewhere a few tiny seeds or embers will manage to survive. A part of the prophetic design, just as much for ancient Greeks as ancient Sumerians or Babylonians or Jews, is that there has to be some Noah. Naturally, though, that doesn’t help everyone else very much. And with her optimistic version of only enormous stretches of our planet being destroyed, Marie-Louise von Franz was just clutching at straws. But that’s exactly what we are reduced to when we end up hiding someone’s final vision away in a drawer. 55


At death the rules change, and all of a sudden you are entering another domain: the domain of the contrary. What used to be valid no longer is. What once was important no longer matters, which is why dying means having to learn how to live in a totally different way. And someone with Jung’s natural intelligence would instinctively do what he did in the months before-start dying before dying by withdrawing more and more from our normal consciousness, dive deeper and then deeper into the unknown. That’s what, traditionally, has always been understood as the preparation for death: needing to develop a new organ as if one suddenly is having to discover how to function in water or a fish is being forced to adapt to breathing on dry land. But what’s often even tougher than the ordeals of learning how to die is the challenge of facing the utter incomprehension of the people one is leaving behind. At the time of Jung’s final vision about the last fifty years of humanity, in June 1961, his immediate family not only didn’t get the point or have the slightest clue what he was going through. They even refused to call the one person who, theoretically, might have. Then she in turn-instead of passing on to others what he’d gone to so much effort to have recorded when he hardly



could use his voice to speak, his hands to gesture or draw-just shut it away for the rest of her life inside a drawer. Of course you could say she was within her rights to do so, which she definitely was; that her decision was eminently sensible for the sake of keeping the Jungian enterprise optimistic, credible, afloat. In fact you could claim that, in shutting the evidence away inside a drawer, she was doing no more than repeating what Jung had done when he shut the Red book away from the public inside his home. And, at the same time, she had just knocked the last nail into the coffin of Jung as a prophet. There were plenty of other nails. His own family would also act quickly and promptly to knock all such gruesome rumours on the head: take every necessary step to erase any hint at Jung’s prophetic powers from his biography. Marie-Louise von Franz, too, would play her dutifully reasonable part in squashing his reputation as a prophet-along with a fair amount of the truth, as well. 56 But that was the least of it. Jung’s secretary, Aniela Jaffe, has led any number of people astray by silencing his own confession that he was forced to put the work on his Red book aside because of its wildly prophetic nature-and by creating, in spite of his urgent warnings, the total fiction that he ended up having to lay it aside because he found it too “aesthetic”. 57 Then there has been the steady rush of Jungians ever since, stamping out any manifestation of Jung the prophet as fast as they can. Just in the last few years, since the Red book was published, they have had a field day discrediting or disposing of every single reference to prophecy they possibly could. And in doing so they have managed to justify all his doubts about allowing the book to be published: have demonstrated, to



perfection, why for the rest of his life he chose to keep it hidden away. Jung himself had always been immensely sensitive to how much, or little, he could openly say about prophetic matters. People since then no longer have any need for such sensitivity, though, because they throw everything to do with prophecy straight out of the window. 58 The great reluctance expressed by von Franz to speak out about his final, prophetic visions fits only too well into a vastly larger picture. Even so, there is something very particular about them; very special. And that has to do with the way Jung’s last vision, about the end of humanity, took place “when he was right dying”: precisely at the point of his death. All the staking of claims to his inheritance and legacy, the excitement about carrying his work forward into the future, has completely obscured and covered over one crucial consideration which would be obvious to anyone with a genuine understanding of history; a true respect for the past. This is the fact that for thousands of years western culture has valued the visions and words of the dying at the moment of their death even more than anything they ever happened to see, or say, while alive. Malista anthropoi chresmoidousin, hotan mellosin apothaneisthai. “People prophesy especially”, as Socrates is supposed to have said, “just before they die.” This tradition of divinare morientesof the dying being able to see as prophets, speak as prophets, during their crucial last moments alive-has been massively important throughout western literature as well as inside the physical texture of people’s lives. 59 And beyond this vital element of prophecy at the moment of leaving the body, of being given the insight that’s needed to see accurately the future lying ahead, other more humanistic



elements also came into play in a way that would define the essential aspects of ars vivendi-or the art of living-and ars moriendi-or the art of dying-during the centuries before Jung’s own time. One was the understanding that, at the moment of death, the masks are finally stripped away. All the faking and posturing and hiding, all the fancy ambiguities and double-talk, give way to naked honesty. “There is no more pretending”, as Montaigne said in the sixteenth century: you just show what’s “at the bottom of the pot”. And another had to do with the attitudes and responsiveness of the living. There was a perfectly intuitive understanding that the real function of family members is to stand by in full sensitivity and support during this critical moment of transition because what the dying person experiences and sees and tries to convey at the hora mortis, the hour of death, is like a condensed biography-a summary of the whole life just lived. But even more critically urgent in certain circles was the importance of a close and trusted friend being present, as “the essential intermediary between a dying speaker and the public”, to record the person’s final words and gestures; faithfully to preserve each single detail of them; and, above all, to transmit them fully and selflessly to the people at large for the sake of generations to come. 60 Of course, thanks to the unrelenting rationalism of the twentieth century, when it was Jung’s turn to die in the summer of 1961 all these ancient and humanistic traditions were already in tatters. At the same time, though, not only did he happen to be intimately familiar with the details of this centuries-old wisdom about how to live: how to die. In fact that was the very least of it, because ever since the time of the work he was forced to do on the Red book-which would be little more than his formal invitation into the world



of the dead-he had found himself becoming an integral part of those traditions. For the rest of his life, as the rest of his life, he would be inwardly living them; dying them. And considering not only his profound respect for our history as westerners, but above all the uniquely high value he ascribed to prophetic visions as well as dreams, the very least one could have done would have been to restore his final terrifying visions to their rightful place in his life. But for the sake of propriety, and the usual fakery of trying to continue with business as normal, they have been completely suffocated instead. Rather than seeing this as a positive sign of progress and evolution for Jung’s psychology, though, it would be far more accurate to see it as a sign of radical regression to an infantile state; as showing how immature the psychology still is of those who, as Jung contemptuously used to comment, “mouth my name” without any idea of “what it’s all about”. After all, he did repeatedly insist that the ultimate goal of his psychology-just like the ultimate purpose of ancient philosophy-is simply to prepare for the moment of death. But as he also explained to someone close to him, only a couple of years before he died: my psychology, to be sure, like any real psychology is purely a preparation for an end. Or to be more precise, it can be considered a preparation for the end. And he makes it quite clear, here as well as elsewhere, that he is not only referring to the end of an individual. He is referring to the end of our culture. Then he adds that there is only one real question left, which is the question of what precisely we are going to end up killing. And the choice for him was very straightforward. Either we all manage to kill our collectively “infantile psychology” by going through the painful process of growing up-or we just kill ourselves. 61



Two years on, it was exactly the same story for Jung: simply a later chapter. And now we, too, are left with a choice. Either we hide the evidence of his life and death away so we can shuffle on with our own, because we don’t understand what’s needed. Or we do the right thing and look at the bottom of our pot.


It was one night just at the start of 2011. I had no idea, at the time, of Jung’s final vision fifty years earlier about the final fifty years of humanity. My wife and I were living up in the mountains of North Carolina and, halfway through that night, it was like a call I could no longer resist. I knew I had to sink deep down inside myself to see what’s happening in my life; with my work; in the world. And then there is the shock of being shown, all of a sudden, what already has happened-not just in my own little life, my private world. In the intense quiet which sometimes comes at the middle of the night I see that everything has stopped. But the stillness is full of terror because this isn’t the stillness of nature resting for the night. This is the stillness at the end of a civilization. Qyite literally, our western world has come to an end. When I looked more closely I could see how each culture has a momentum, just like the spiral movements described by Empedocles that lie behind any cosmic cycle. In a cycle everything spins in one direction-before eventually coming to a stop. For an indefinable moment, neither inside nor outside of time, there is the stillness between two contrary motions. Then everything begins rotating in the opposite direction. And this is



the point we’ve come to: that torn poise of utter stillness at the end of one movement, one cycle, one directional thrust, before everything turns into reverse. 62 As it is in the cosmos, so it is in any animal or human but also in the life of a civilization. And this civilization has come to an end. The movement has stopped. The energy behind its momentum is over; spent. Anyone sensitive enough to the depths can recognize this instinctively, physically, deep inside. But to feel it needs a certain courage because the stillness at the end is horrifying. It’s not the beauty of nature’s silence with the birds and animals tucked up, asleep, and the sun’s loudness concealed for a while from the earth. This is another silence. It’s the silence of everything you know coming to an end, just like that. But of course to realize this consciously would be too big a shock. And so what happens is that-like a wheel or a disk still spinning even after it’s been switched off-people keep on rushing around because they don’t want to realize anything has stopped. Just the same as those cartoon characters who race out into the void and don’t notice they are right above the abyss, we go on trying to think everything is normal. For a few unreal moments we are running above empty space although there is nothing any more, no foundation or support, to hold or take us forward. We are simply being carried by the ghostlike residue of that original movement which is nothing more, now, than the momentum of our own unconscious habits. But even that will fizzle out: come to a stop until everything drops, which is when there is chaos. And this is the reason why all the familiar structures around us are having to crash and collapse. It’s not because of corruption, or because the wrong people got into power, or to make way for something fairer and stronger and better that we can build.



It’s because the energy needed to prop up our collective existence is exhausted-and there is the undertow, ever so imperceptible, of the opposite movement stirring. The trouble is, though, that this new direction has nothing to do with anything our minds are familiar with. It’s nothing those minds of ours can be a part of, because it’s completely contrary to whatever they think they know. It’s so new we can only even possibly start to intuit it by going deep into the nothingness inside ourselves where we become free from every pattern of thinking, every single thought form, any memory of the way things have been along with any expectation or fantasy or noble ideal or hope of how things should be-because that’s all still the momentum of the old. First comes the silent call to die totally into the stillness, so as to be able to become a part of what the new movement will be. First one has to experience the ending, not only of oneself but of a whole civilization: has to realize that it’s all already finished. And then it becomes clear that, although everyone can appear not to be aware of how nothing is real any more, secretly most people already are. They are just too confused, or afraid, to say anything about what they sense inside themselves. It’s only a process of nature: nothing to be scared of. Our own culture, like any other culture in the past or future, is simply a natural organism-just as the word, itself, implies. And every organism happens to be finite, which means it dies. The big problem is that, humanly, this is almost impossible to accept. It’s so hard not to want to hide our deepest intuitions away somewhere inside a drawer; so undignified to go ahead and hide them. But certainly sentimentality isn’t going to help. Neither, for that matter, is hope.



Neither is the technology that brought us here, because we lost the keys to its sacred dimension long ago. Consciously we just don’t have the wisdom or knowledge needed, although with our tricks and toys we do like to fool ourselves that we do. We have forgotten what it means truly to miss that wisdom: to howl for its loss. And right to the edge of the precipice we go on trying to deceive ourselves it will all work out just fine .


Five months before March 2011, which is when the earthquake and tsunami struck Fukushima, I was taken high above the earth in a dream and allowed to look down over the north-east coast of Japan. There, I was told, is where a major disaster will happen. Populations will be forced to leave. But the entire world is going to be affected-and that will only be the first in a whole string of catastrophes. I was even shown the dimple on the cheek of the very feminine being, serious but with the faintest trace of a smile around her face, who had been empowered to carry the effects of the catastrophe over sea and land on the winds. And I understood that this will be the work of the mythological Harpies brought back to life all over again: the female spirits, part human and part bird, who are responsible for snatching away half the food of their blinded victims and making whatever they leave behind inedible by taking care to shit on it. Their most famous victim in myth was a prophet who had given the gods’ secrets away. But, strange as it might sound, we have all become prophets now with our pride in predicting the little things as well as the big-and in thinking we can take the gods’ secrets for free. In our modern, rational age we despise



the idea of prophecy or prophesying not because we have gone beyond it. We hate it because we long to be even better prophets than the prophets once were, by cutting out any dependence on the divine. It’s not that we look down on them because we dislike what they did but because we crave to have their divine powers for ourselves. This is the wanting that makes us so special; so extraordinary; and will bring us down. As for the reality of prophecy: it’s so simple and ordinary, nothing special at all. As this example of Fukushima shows, it’s still quite possible to see things clearly in advance. And that’s because everything first appears inside us, then takes months or even much longer to work its way out. Considering that fifty years on from Jung’s final prophecy in 1961 brings us to 2011, you could say he was wrong about the end of humanity. After all, no pictures of us being destroyed were ever shown on the television. But that’s not how these things are measured-because the real endings, the ones that matter, don’t happen outside. They take place far down inside us, where the living and the dead rub shoulders and pass each other on their way to work. When my wife and I were still living in New Mexico I often had to fly to California. And one afternoon, returning to Albuquerque, the flight crew started their usual announcement over the speaker system as we were preparing for our descent. Everything was just the same as normal except that, this time, it was totally different. Although the woman’s voice churned out the standard statements she had made hundreds of times before, there was something in her tone that sank straight into my being. And I realized that when a culture forces a human to act so automatically, talk so robotically, the humanity inside the person is lost-lost first in that individual, then in the world.



But what’s lost, this way, is never recovered; it’s gone for good. It’s exactly the same with the fancy invention of phone menus that came from America. First, it was enough to press this button or that. After a while, pressing a button was no longer acceptable and now you had to start talking into the phone. There is one minor problem, though: a little catch. Every traditional culture or society in the world has known that the power of the spoken word is sacred. Humans were given the tools of language or speech by the divine so that they could communicate, and honour, the divine. And when we end up using that sacred gift of voice to talk to machines, then we have crossed an uncrossable line. Everything can seem to go on working and functioning, for a while. But our role in existence has been hollowed out; our human purpose on this planet turned completely upside down. There are divine laws we are no longer aware of that are nonnegotiable, because they are there for a reason. And when certain violations progress from accidental, to repeated, to deliberate, there are consequences from which there is no coming back. Humanity isn’t something we have a right to. It’s the finest possible commodity that has to be cultivated, treasured, protected: otherwise it just slips away through our fingers and, before we even know what happened, is gone. The haunting question is who is left to know it-because it needs humanity to tell the difference between humanity and the lack of it. This is such a delicate matter that we can glimpse it only to lose sight of it in the next moment; drift close to it, only to slip away. 63 Needless to say, we can recite from memory and parrot and mimic as much as we want. But we don’t prove we are human by patting ourselves down and reassuring each other we have two



arms and legs and a head. This just proves we are animals in human bodies, which is easy enough to confirm if we honestly are ready to look. And once that germ of humanity is gone, nobody will ever be the wiser.


At the end of January 2012, I was staying with friends in the south of Switzerland. One afternoon I went up to my room at the top of the house and lay down to incubate in the old way-the ancient western method of meditation used for entering into the depths inside oneself. And almost straight away I came to the strangest place I had ever been before. There I was brought face to face with the reality of this present age, not as it’s seen from our world of the living but as it’s viewed from the world of the dead. What I was shown was like a huge picture book, but continuous and without any pages. It contained all the smallest details of each aeon and stage in life on earth, including the great periods of human civilization: explained in images how they actually function, are made possible, what their real purpose is from the perspective of eternity. At the far left of every period was a vertical line separating it from the age before, with another at the far right marking it off from the age to come. Stretching out from the line on the left was something that looked like half of a horizontal belt or band, with the other half reaching towards it from the line on the right. And the aim of each age is to link the half of the



belt on the left to the alf on the right to create a single chain connecting its point oi origin to its point of destiny. This is the contin ous band, running from the distant past into the distant future that humanity is asked and expected to travel together with the rest of life on earth. But the one sectio~ I was being encouraged to see, inside that pageless book, is /the section corresponding to this period we now are in. And w~at was most extraordinary about it, when I looked, was that we l re not at the end of an age at all. On the contrary, we are right 1n the middle of it-and totally lost. A voice coming fr~m beside me explained that because of our collective “forgetfulne s and laziness” we abandoned any path, which means we’ve brj ken the essential link between our future and our past. We are so hopelessly disoriented, so sure when there is nothing to be/ sure of and so uncertain where certainty is the one thing needed, that we can no longer tell left from


right or down from ujl. And I started to understand the exquisite logic of what I was being shown: th quintessentially underworld logic which, as always, is so much fnore rigorous than the ridiculous attempts we make at pretendin~ to be reasonable. We like to thi1 of each age as a single unit, with its beginning and end. ut the dead are far more cunning than us, and strap the second half of what we call an age to the first half of the next so they ca~ see exactly what’s happening-what really works. It’s the trans+ ons between ages, as Jung understood so well, that truly matter; have such a central importance. And if we can carry the essence /o f one age, unbroken, into the beginning of another we have achifved something genuinely worth recording. The trouble is tpat in our case nothing is being carried forward. I Halfway through this period of life on earth which was 1

meant to count for r omething in the eyes of eternity we lost



our bearings and, thanks to the laziness of our forgetfulness, let the crucial link between past and future fly apart. The result is that we are left wandering and spinning in a void, searching for remedies perfectly designed to make the situation worse, incapable of getting back on track. The faster we spin, the more desperate the solutions; and instead of realizing that we are lost at some insignificant point out in the middle of nowhere, we prefer to dream about some grandly critical climax. To compensate for the overwhelming sense of confusion and utter uselessness that keeps rising inside, we conjure up illusions of some global awakening even while steadily falling further asleep-try to console ourselves with fantasies about being at the cusp of something magnificent, about edging to the threshold of a glorious renaissance, to the dawn of a great rebirth. The reality is, though, that now isn’t the time for giving birth to anything truly new. Instead, it’s just a question of how little or much of the initial impulse that originally gave rise to our culture we are able to carry through the coming maelstrom. And to be quite clear: if that forgotten sacred impulse at the root of our world is simply allowed to fizzle out because of our laziness, this doesn’t mean our present age will finish early so as to make way for something new. It will just drag on into eternity for its allocated time-a blank, an empty nothingness that counts for nothing. And whether that happens to be a time of brute barbarism or technological annihilation or technological perfection doesn’t matter at all, because in terms of humanity there will be nothing doing. From the point of view of the dead, that will be the futile and inglorious ending of our current aeon. From the point of view of the living, it will be the first few centuries of what we prefer to think of as a new age: completely fallow, static, dead. And as I was coming close to writing this, it was quite a shock to



find how Joachim of Fiore used to describe the first six hundred years or so of every new period or age. He mentioned being shown how “each age must be preceded by a period ofincubation”: a time of enormous outer changes and disturbances during which any remaining seeds of humanity are quietly left to incubate, latent, inactive, fallow. 64 If we had only learned what it means to beat our way back all the way past our inhumanity to our primordial nature, we could have discovered how to move straight through the eye of the storm. It would have been possible with the tiny light of our individual awareness to incubate in the depths of the darkness during the far greater incubation of the world-and consciously nurture those seeds for the future. But that’s not going to happen this time, at least hardly at all, because we lost the link to our primordial past.


Halfway through the night, in the middle of March 2013, I woke abruptly with a dream. The dream was as simple as it was insistent-one single word being displayed in front of me, spelled out for me with perfect clarity. It was a word that I somehow knew, in my sleep, I had never known the meaning of or even heard of in my waking life: Catafalque. When I did wake up, I was still repeating the word time and time again so I wouldn’t forget. I was almost certain it must just be an imagined invention of my subconscious mind that doesn’t actually exist. But as soon as I managed to look it up in a dictionary I found to my great surprise that, down to the very last letter, it does. And whether or not I, personally, had come across the word already at some forgotten point in my daily life couldn’t have mattered less-because the unexpected experience of a word or expression presenting itself so forcefully is always, if you watch the process, nothing short of magic. It didn’t take a long time of reading the dictionary definitions before the meaning of the dream started sinking in. I took and told it to a very holy old man who always welcomes me ever so politely when I visit him at his tiny home, the walls all covered



with paintings, on the rocks beside the sea. And he explained to me not only that, but also how, I need to write this book. “Catafalque” comes from an old Italian word used to describe the decorated, elegantly embroidered, wooden structure that would be erected as the base on which a famous or important person’s coffin could be placed. It stood there as a basic framework, supporting whoever had died, in the middle of all the funeral ceremonies; the processions; the paying of final respects. And that, in a word, is the purpose of my work: to provide a catafalque for our western world. If such a statement sounds strange to you, it’s because you don’t understand that this world of ours is already dead. It existed for a while, did the best it could, but is nothing more than a lifeless remnant of what it was meant to be. And while the optimistic consciousness of our mass media, our education system, our collective hysteria keeps trying to practise some weird necrophilia on the body of our culture there is something else completely different that needs to be done. The correct attitude right now is to come together to raise a ritual lament. You could call this the most basic hygiene, as well as sanity. We need to grieve; need to celebrate the ending before a clean new beginning can ever take place. As indigenous people instinctively know, but we’ve forgotten in our cold-heartedness, when the time comes for weeping one has to weep. And this is the moment for marking, and honouring, the passing of our culture. It’s the time to tie up the loose ends and tidy up; finish off with nobility and dignity; clear everything away and put one’s house in order. There is no need now for optimism or hope. On the contrary, we have entered a place where every hope has to be abandoned and to keep on indulging in optimism is a shameless dereliction of our duty. The one thing needed is the exact opposite of our



manufactured hoping, which is the divine reality of faithbecause faith is the most extraordinary flower, as alive and intelligent as it’s beautiful, which you can meet out on the street in the dark or alone back home if your vision isn’t stunted by hope. As for optimism, it’s just as devastating as pessimism in preventing us from seeing the realities everywhere around us. Of course even to talk about the possibility of some magical middle ground, hidden between hope and despair, is almost pointless when confronted with the collective pressure to rush off the cliff out of sheer expectant greed for more and more. And as for the foolishness of claiming everything is over: nothing could sound as rationally or blatantly absurd. But this is simply the impossible nature of the situation we are faced with. As Jung once noted, in pointing to the realities of the soul “I am refuted all along the line, just like someone prophesying a thunderstorm when there isn’t a single cloud in the sky.” There is nothing that could seem more crazy. “The truth is, though, that questions of the soul always lie below the horizon of consciousness. And in addressing this problem of the soul we are talking about things right at the boundary of what’s visible; about the most intimate and fragile things; about flowers that open only in the night.” There are times, as he said, when you don’t go on trying to fix or solve-when, not just with a difficult patient but with a whole age, you acknowledge there is nothing left to be done. Then, as great Sufis and alchemists have realized, even to pray is to interfere: is an act of disrespect. Naturally that doesn’t mean you don’t submit to accepting with humility, with a genuine sense of ethics and responsibility, whatever duties are imposed on you by life. But it’s only what Jung



called the “small and fragmentary people” who always need to occupy themselves with doing something, improving something. And that could even include psychologists, so busy with their bag of tricks they completely miss the crucial atmosphere or essential spirit out of which every trick emerges and into which it will also disappear. All the inner work of exploration and integration is nothing but the first very tentative, preliminary steps: little more than the crudest of ruses for distracting people long enough from their superficial selves that perhaps, for a moment or two and even three, they’ll really start facing their depths. But the ultimate purpose, as he made very clear, is not to integrate. It’s to die-consciously leave ourselves behind, shed absolutely everything, strip every trace ofidentification or attachment away. As for the existence of some future: to me it was quite revealing, after years of telling people we belong here in the present and should leave the future alone because it belongs to the people of the future, to open the Red book when it came out and find Jung saying the same thing in just the same words. “The future should be left to those who belong to the future .” And as he paradoxically adds, this is “the great way-the way of what is to come”. 65 Just as there have to be people who consciously help to bring a culture into being, there have to be those who consciously help to bring it to an end. And this is the moment for the catafalque, when we need to be brave enough to focus on just what’s needed because the catafalque is also for us. It’s the time for learning our primordial or original instructions, as Native Americans have referred to them for centuries, all over again; the time to turn around and face our ancestors, to dance for the dead.



As for this book: you are welcome to take it seriously if that will help you not to take yourself seriously. But the worst thing would be to take it seriously only for it to trouble you or weigh you down. Its style is likely to feel strangely unfamiliar-because this is the ancient style we’ve forgotten, along with the modern. It’s the choiceless rhythm of the winds and rain. I would never want you to know even a thousandth of what its writing involved. And you can try your best to criticize it if you are an expert at judging how the weather should be assessed. The enormous notes are a joke, grotesque monuments to a culture that abandoned itself. But if you ever care to dip into them, you might find some of them are like a miniature book offering an opening to another world. As for the point behind it all: that’s very simple. The point is to leave us stripped of everything-even of Jung who so badly needs to be set free, even of this book. It’s only by shedding everything, including ourselves, that we sow the seeds of the future.





First published in 2018 by Catafalque Press, London [emailprotected] ISBN 978-1-9996384-0-5 (two-volume set) Copyright © 2018 Peter Kingsley All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, or stored in any database or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Printed by Lightning Source Book design by Leslie Bartlett British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library










otes to Part One


Notes to Part Two


Notes to Part Three


Notes to Part Four






C .G. Jung, Archetypes and the collective unconscious (Collected works, vol. 9/I; 2 nd ed., London 1968)


H. Corbin, L’archange empourpre (Paris 1976)


C.G. Jung, Aion (Collected works, vol. 9/II; London 1959)


H. Corbin, Autour deJung, ed. M. Cazenave and D. Proulx (Paris 2014)


C.G. Jung’s unpublished alchemy notebooks (1935-1953), held by the Foundation of the Works of C .G. Jung in Zurich


P. Kingsley, Ancient philosophy, mystery and magic (Oxford 1995)


H. Corbin, Avicenne et le recit visionnaire (3 vols. Tehran 1952- 54)




C.G. Jung, Alchemical studies (Collected works, vol. 13; London 1967)


H. Corbin, Alone with the alone (Princeton 1998); originally published, without the preface by Harold Bloom, as Creative imagination in the Sufism ofIbn ‘Arabi (Princeton 1969)


C.G. Jung, 1he black books


The archive of Cary Baynes (born Cary Fink and, from 1910 until 1927, called Cary de Angulo), held in the Wellcome Library, London


C.G. Jung, Children’s dreams, ed. L. Jung and M. Meyer-Grass (Princeton 2008)


Esther Harding’s unpublished notes on the “Cornwall seminar” given by Jung at Polzeath in July 1923 (Beinecke Library, Yale University)


C.G. Jung, Civilization in transition (Collected works, vol. 10; 2 nd ed., London 1970)


C.G. Jung, Dream analysis, ed. W. McGuire (London 1984)


C.G. Jung, 1he development ofpersonality (Collected works, vol. 17; 3rd ed., London 1970)


H. Corbin, En Islam iranien (4 vols., Paris 1971-72)






cited according to the fragment (fr.) numbers in H. Diels, Poetarum philosophorum fragmenta

(Berlin 1901) 74-168 and L. Gemelli Marciano, Die Vorsokratiker ii (2 nd ed., Berlin 2013) 138438


P. Kingsley, “Empedocles for the new millennium”, Ancient philosophy 22 (2002) 333413


C.G. Jung, Erinnerungen, Triiume, Gedanken, ed. A. Jaffe (Zurich 1962)


The Fonds Henry et Stella Corbin, held in the Ecole pratique des hautes etudes, Paris


Sigmund Freud/ C .G. Jung, Briefwechsel, ed. W . McGuire and W. Sauerlander (Frankfurt 1974)


C.G. Jung, Freud and psychoanalysis (Collected works, vol. 4; 2 nd ed., London 1970)




Remembering Jung, two conversations with

Marie-Louise von Franz during March 1977 and September 1979, produced by George Wagner and directed by Suzanne Wagner (3 DVDs, C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles, Los Angeles 1991)




Henry Corbin, ed. C. Jambet (L’Herne, vol. 39; Paris 1981)


Carl Gustav Jung, ed. M. Cazenave (L’Herne, vol. 46; Paris 1984)


P. Kingsley, In the dark places ofwisdom (Inverness, CA 1999)


Internationaljournal ofJungian studies


C.G. Jung, Introduction to Jungian psychology, ed. W. McGuire and S. Shamdasani (Princeton 2012)


Journal ofanalytical psychology


C.G. Jung, Briefa, ed. A. Jaffe and G. Adler (3 vols., Olten 1972-73)


C.G. Jung biographical archive, Countway Library of Medicine, Boston


Jung history


Jung journal


Journal ofJungian theory and practice


C. G. Jung, Emma Jung and Toni Wo!ff, ed. F. Jensen (San Francisco 1982)




The Jung-Kirsch letters, ed. A.C. Lammers (2 nd ed., Abingdon 2016)


C.G. Jung, Letters, ed. G. Adler and A. Jaffe

(2 vols., London 1973-76) JM

S. Shamdasani, Jung and the making of modern psychology (Cambridge 2003)


C. G. Jung und Erich Neumann: Die Brie.ft 19331959, ed. M. Liebscher (Ostfildern 2015)


The Jaffe Protocols, being Aniela Jaffe’s initial transcript of the biographical material she noted down in shorthand during her interviews with Carl Jung between September 1956 and October 1958 (C.G. Jung Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.)


Jahrbuch fur psychoanalytische und psychopathologische Forschungen


C.G.jung speaking, ed. W. McGuire and R.F.C. Hull (Princeton 1977)


S. Shamdasani,]ung stripped bare by his biographers, even (London 2005)


C.G. Jung, Visions, ed. C. Douglas (2 vols., Princeton 1997)




7he]ung-White letters, ed. A.C. Lammers and A . Cunningham (Hove 2007)


journal ofthe Warburg and Courtauld Institutes


James Kirsch, “C.G. Jung’s individuation as shown especially in Answer to Job”; unpublished transcript of a lecture given in the 1980s and cited with the permission of Thomas Kirsch


C.G. Jung, 7he psychology ofkundalini yoga, ed. S. Shamdasani (Princeton 1996)


C.G. Jung, Mysterium coniunctionis (Collected works, vol. 14; 2 nd ed., London 1970)


C.G. Jung, Memories, dreams, reflections, ed. A. Jaffe (London 1963/New York 1973)


The original English-language typescript for Memories, dreams, reflections, held at the Countway Library of Medicine in Boston


Matter ofheart: a documentary film directed, produced and written by Mark Whitney, Michael Whitney and Suzanne Wagner (C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles, Los Angeles 1983)


G.F. Nameche and R.D. Laing,Jungand persons: a study in genius and madness (University of Glasgow special collections, MS Laing A3);



for the origins and composition of this unpublished typescript see Nameche, On the origins ofthis book (ibid., MS Laing A6)


C.G. Jung, Nietzsche’s ‘Zarathustra’, ed. J.L. Jarrett (2 vols., Princeton 1988)


Shihab al-Din Yahya al-Suhrawardi, Opera metaphysica et mystica, ed. H. Corbin (i, Istanbul 1945; ii, Tehran 1952)


C.G. Jung, Psychology and alchemy (Collected works, vol. 12; 2nd ed., London 1968)


cited according to the fragment (fr.) numbers in H. Diels, Poetarum philosophorum fragmenta (Berlin 1901) 48-73 and L. Gemelli Marciano, Die Vorsokratiker ii (2 nd ed., Berlin 2013) 6-95


W. Pauli, Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel mit Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg u.a., ed. K. von Meyenn (Berlin 1979-2005)


From Poimandres to Jacob Boehme, ed. R. van den Broek and C. van Heertum (Amsterdam 2000). 17-40 = P. Kingsley, “An introduction to the Hermetica”; 41-76 = Kingsley, “Poimandres: the etymology of the name and the origins of the Hermetic a”


Psychological perspectives




C.G. Jung, The practice ofpsychotherapy (Collected works, vol. 16; 2 nd ed., London 1966)


C.G. Jung, Psychology and religion (Collected works, vol. 11; 2 nd ed., London 1969)


L. Gemelli Marciano, Parmenide: suoni, immagini, esperienza (Sankt Augustin 2013)


C.G. Jung, Psychological types (Collected works, vol. 6; London 1971)


The question ofpsychological types: the correspondence of C. G. Jung and Hans Schmid-Guisan, ed. J. Beebe and E. Falzeder (Princeton 2013)


C.G. Jung, The red book, ed. S. Shamdasani (New York 2009); in cases where my English translation differs from the published one, I refer to Jung’s original text according to the German edition (RBu) or the folio and page numbers of his illuminated manuscript


C.G. Jung, Das Rote Buch, ed. S. Shamdasani (Dusseldorf 2009)


P. Kingsley, Reality (Inverness, CA 2003)


H. Corbin, Spiritual body and celestial earth (2 nd ed., Princeton 1989)




C. G. Jung, 7he structure and dynamics ofthe psyche (Collected works, vol. 8; 2 nd ed., London 1972)


San Francisco Jung Institute library journal


C.G. Jung, 7he symbolic life (Collected works, vol. 18; 2 nd ed., Princeton 1980)


C.G. Jung, 7he spirit in man, art and literature (Collected works, vol. 15; London 1966)


Jung’s seminar on Nietzsche’s ‘Zarathustra’, ed.

and abridged by J.L. Jarrett (Princeton 1998) SSO

H. Corbin, Sohravardi: L e livre de la sagesse orientale (Lagrasse 1986)


C.G. Jung, Symbols oftransformation (Collected works, vol. 5; 2 nd ed., London 1967)


P. Kingsley, A story waiting to pierce you (Inverness, CA 2010)


C.G. Jung, Two essays on analytical psychology (Collected works, vol. 7; 2 nd ed., London 1966)


C.G. Jung, 7he Zojingia lectures (Collected works, supplementary volume A; London 1983)



The Eranos gatherings have recently become a subject of intense interest for academics. See e.g. R. Bernardini, Jung a Eranos (Milan 2011) and in Spring 92 (2015) 1-26, H.T. Hakl, Eranos (Sheffield 2013), and that strange masterpiece of modern prejudice and pseudo-learning-Religion after religion by S.M. Wasserstrom (Princeton 1999)-together with Maria Subtelny’s patient response, Iranian studies 36 (2003) 91-101. 2

“C’etait pour moi une joie extraordinaire et une experience pas seulement des plus rares, mais plut6t unique, d’etre compris completement. Je suis accoutume de vivre clans un vacuum intellectuel plus ou moins complet … “: letter from Jung to Corbin dated 4 May 1953 (FC). For the French original see HC 328 =Af 156; for an English translation,]L ii 115. This letter is ignored by Tom Cheetham, who wastes his time listing all the theoretical points on which Jung and Corbin would and should have disagreed while-as a true follower of James Hillmanmissing what is most essential (Green man, earth angel, Albany 2005, 47-54; After prophecy, New Orleans 2007, 103-12; All the world an icon, Berkeley 2012).

466 3


cette atmosphere de liberte spirituelle absolue, ou chacun s’exprime sans souci d’aucun dogme officiel et en ne s’efforc;ant qu’a etre soi-meme, a etre vrai”: Revue de culture europeenne 5 (1953) 12. Compare also Corbin’s comments, recorded 25 years later just before he died, on the lasting legacy of Eranos: “… une liberte spirituelle integrale. Chacun decouvrait peu a peu et laissait parler le trefonds de lui-meme .. .. Cet entrainement a etre franchement et integralement soi-meme devient une habitude que l’on ne perd plus … ” (HC 48). ” •••


See e.g. his Avicenna and the visionary recital (London 1960) 27-32 (AR Vii 31-7). When Jung found himself being drawn to say that the only truth there can be for you is your truth (R B 231 n.27), he was warning against the psychological dangers of trying to imitate someone else’s truth (ibid. 231b)-which ironically is where the superficial attempt to live one’s own truth always tends to end up-and, similarly, was speaking out of a depth of experience far removed from the level of the conscious personality. On the weighty implications for Jung of living “my truth”, and the essential requirement that it embrace the sacred reality of the timeless as well as all the dramas of time, see the prologue to Memories, dreams, reflections (MDR 17/3) with P. Bishop’s comments, Car/Jung (London 2014) 10-13. 5

On the undesirability and painfulness of truth see e.g. Empedocles fr. 114.1-3 Diels = fr. 159 Gemelli Marciano; R eality 313. T.S. Eliot, with his “human kind/ Cannot bear very much reality” (Burnt Norton I), speaks as a perfect student of the Greeks. Truth and remembering “from the beginning” (ex arches): cf. especially J.-P. Vernant, journal de psychologie




normale et pathologique 56 (1959) 6-7 with M. Detienne, Les maitres de viriti dans la Grece archaique (Paris 1967) 47; also G. Nagy, Homeric questions (Austin 1996) 122-6. 6

It was some time after writing this that for the first time I

came across these words by Henry Corbin:” … The past must be ‘put in the present’ … The genuine transcending the past can only be ‘putting it in the present’ … And I believe it can be said that the entire work of Eranos is, in this sense, a putting in the present . . .” (Man and time, ed. J. Campbell, London 1958, xvii). 7

See e.g. M. Lings, Muhammad (London 1983) 105-6.


Significantly, Jung himself had little patience with those who made an issue of doubting whether the so-called “primitive medicine man” could in any true psychological sense be called conscious or individuated. “‘Well, I don’t know about that’, he said. ‘They may not be conscious but they hear the inner voice, they act on it, they do not go against it-that is what counts’” 211).



On Hitler’s heartfelt gratitude to the British and especially Americans for inspiring his concept of concentration camps, and how he “often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination-by starvation and uneven combatof the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity”, see J. Toland, AdolfHitler (Garden City, NY 1976) 702. For the venerable ancestry of the term “final solution” in the nineteenth-century history of the American military, and more specifically in the “final solution of the Indian problem” devised



by General William T. Sherman, see M. Fellman, Citizen Sherman (New York 1995) 260,274,452; J.A. Emison, Lincoln uber alles (Gretna, LA 2009) 21, 67, 269-70. 10

Jung felt it important to emphasize almost exclusively the transcendent aspect of Anthropos, with the paradoxical result that he separated this archetypal “human” from ordinary human reality and experience. See especially Aion 198 §310 (Anthropos as “homo maximus”, the king figure in direct contrast to “the anonymous individual of the populace”), 204 §318 (Anthropos as “empirically the most important archetype”), 231 figure A (distinguishing “Anthropos the higher Adam” from “Man the lower Adam”), 246 §388 (Anthropos as transcendent), 257 §406 (“the archetype of the Anthropos”); JL ii 619 (questioning the ability of our selfconscious egos “to establish a conscious relationship with the Anthropos, i.e., the natural self. For, as you rightly point out, it would mean extending ego-consciousness into the realm of the transcendent”). This is all fair enough from a certain point of view; but it also is only one side of the coin. The other side is the perspective that Gnostics themselves were much more inclined to emphasize. According to that perspective, we ordinary humans are absolutely nothing outside of or without this archetypal reality. We are literally shapeless: unable not only to think or talk but even to stand or walk. See e.g. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata (Adam was created “in the name of Anthropos” when the primordial Anthropos “was established inside man”) and (“the Anthropos in the pleroma and the man ‘according to his image’ who received the archetype inside him”) with F.-M.-M. Sagnard, La gnose valentinienne et le timoignage de saint Irinie (Paris 1947) 121-2 and 137-8; Extracts from 7heodotus 50.1-51.1 (” … the



Man inside man … “; c£ RP. Casey, 7he ‘Excerpta ex 7heodoto’ ofClement ofAlexandria, London 1934, 72-5, 143); Corpus hermeticum 1.12-17 (W. Barnstone and M. Meyer, 7he Gnostic bible, Boston 2003, 505-7); J. Lacarriere, 7he Gnostics (London 1977) 31-2; G. Qyispel, Gnostica,Judaica, Catholica (Leiden 2008) 157-60. Ironically, on this particular issue Jung turns out to be more of a dualist than many of the so-called Gnosticsalthough the relationship between them is usually described as being the exact opposite. 11

TE 170-1 §§263-5; J. Hopkins, Chung-Hwa Buddhist journal

21 (2008) 163, who wisely points out (ibid. 163-4) that even to believe in finding real solutions through politics or economics or social change is for Jung an unfailing sign of psychological inflation. Of course one would need to include most Jungians nowadays in the category of pious disciples. For a recent attempt at summarizing Jung’s ideas about inflation see L. Schlamm in Encyclopedia ofpsychology and religion (2 nd ed., New York 2014), ed. D .A. Leeming, 870-3. 12

Some time after writing this, I came across these words by Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz: “Old age is … the gradual breaking down of the bodily machine, with which foolishness identifies ourselves. It is indeed a major effort-the magnum opus in fact-to escape in time from the narrowness of its embrace and to liberate our mind … ” (Spring 1971, 135, cf.JL ii 580); “… at the end of life there is the big showdown. Have you frittered away your life in superficiality, or as Jung said about a woman once, ‘Five minutes after her death, she’ll not remember this life any more’. Or have you built something eternal … ?” (von Franz, PP 38, 1998, 16).




This is one of the most constant, and central, themes in my book Reality: on the dangers of identifying with being a human see especially 347-495. Jung himself became familiar with the ancient linkage between danger and salvation especially through the work of Friedrich Holderlin, and his poem “Patmos”: JPPF 4/1 (1912) 432-4 = Psychology efthe unconscious (New York 1916) 445-7 (cf. ST407-10 §§630-5), a passage that already connects Holderlin’s words “Where danger is, there lies salvation” with descent into the underworld; RB 300 n.205; PT264 §446; CT94 §195;JL i 65 with n.5 and ii 193 with n.1; MDR 231/245; P. Bishop, 7he Dionysian self (Berlin 1995) 100-1; S. Shamdasani, C.G.jung: a biography in books (New York 2012) 12-19, 215 n.19. 14

R.D. Laing in NL 99-103. One recent example of the valiant Jungian protectors is Marvin Spiegelman with his insistence that, far from ever coming close to being schizophrenic or schizoid, “Jung, of course, was nothing of the sort; he braved immersing himself in the unconscious without succumbing to it, providing an example for many of us to do the same and find our own myth” (PP 49, 2006, 317). Recent attempts to squash “the familiar myth of Jung’s madness” have been spearheaded by the editor of the R ed book itself (]SB 72-5, 80, 95); but despite Sonu Shamdasani’s unique access to original documents, he together with James Hillman both reveal themselves as ungrounded intellectuals in their lighthearted tiptoeing around the topic of madness and in Shamdasani’s quaint denial that Jung was “at any point on the verge of tipping over” (Lament efthe dead, New York 2013, 69-71). Compare also L.S. Owens, 7he Gnostic 3 (2010) 23-4, 30, who relies a little too heavily on Shamdasani; and T. Kawai, ]AP 57 (2012) 380, who argues quite sincerely that Jung’s most overwhelming experiences are far removed from schizophrenia



or psychosis because he happened to see things “very clearly” (not the wisest of diagnostic criteria) and because he had visionary rather than acoustic hallucinations. In fact the material preserved, thanks to the Red book, is just as much

acoustic as visionary; and Jung himself remembered the entire process as an experience of hearing rather than seeing (JP 145, 170). 15

For Jung grasping at furniture see S. Corbett, New York Times magazine (20 September 2009) 36-‘”I often had to cling to the table’, he recalled, ‘so as not to fall apart”‘-together with the famous original Protocols on which Jung’s Memories, dreams, reflections was based but that were held back from publication. There he describes in his own words how he often had to cling on desperately to the table in front of him to prevent himself from falling apart; and during those times experienced the most terrifying of moments, again and again having the constant feeling of being torn to shreds (JP 174, a passage badly rationalized and miscontextualized by S. Shamdasani, Spring 57, 1995, 125). For madness in the Red book see Jung’s patently authentic musings at RB 238, 295-8; also the touchingly honest appraisals by V.W. Odajnyk, PP 53 (2010) 448-451 and M. Stein,]] 4/4 (2010) 96 as well as Tina Keller’s important eyewitness testimony that Jung “would now and then say how close he had felt to insanity” (W.K. Swan, ]AP 51, 2006, 503 and 7he memoir of Tina Keller-Jenny, New Orleans 2011, 27 §68). For the even earlier threats of “delusion and madness” that already confronted Jung years before he started work on the Red book, cf. A. Carotenuto, A secret symmetry (New York 1982) 190 with A.C. Elms, Uncovering lives (New York 1994) 67-8. In light of all this it would seem more than a little simplistic of Shamdasani to claim that Freud’s repeated complaints during both 1912 and 1913 about



Jung being downright “crazy” are nothing but “psychoanalytic character assassination”, carried out by Freud purely “as a way of discrediting” Jung’s ideas (]SB 72). As for the relation between going mad and being afraid of going mad, which is a fear Jung experienced far more than once: Shamdasani again argues with the same simplistic reasonableness that there is a world of difference between the two because “in some sense, the fear of losing one’s mind is a mark of one’s sanity” (Lament ofthe dead, New York 2013, 70). What he fails to mention is Jung’s own insistence, based on vastly more intimate as well as professional experience, that the transition from a fear of going mad into becoming mad is the slipperiest slope imaginable (I]P 105-6). Also worth noting is Jung’s inner conviction as a medical student that actually to go mad and experience madness for himself would be the best way of understanding, and helping, his patients (JP 252). 16

Prior to publication of the Red book in 2009, one had to make do with Jung’s warning that the book “will strike any superficial observer as sheer insanity. And this is exactly how it would have ended up if I had not been able to contain the overwhelming power of the original experience” (ETG 387; cf. RB 360). But even this comment was restricted to the German text of M emories, dreams, reflections: for the English version, Jung was only allowed to note in passing that the experience could theoretically “have driven me out of my wits” (MDR 181/189). On the saga of control and censorship surrounding the editing and eventual publication of his socalled autobiography, see A.C. Elms, Un covering lives (New York 1994) 51-70; S. Shamdasani, Spring 57 (1995) 115-37 and]SB 22-45; also D. Bair’s account,]ung (Boston 2003) 585-617. One of the main editors of Jung’s collected works in English, Michael Fordham, has quaintly commented on



the madness (“far madder”) contaminating original drafts of Memories, dreams, reflections before the text had been subjected to an appropriate editing process (Spring 57, 1995, 122-3: his use of the comparative form of the word “mad” is very

eloquent). For the so-called “subtleties” silently introduced into the text by Fordham and his secretary see e.g. Bair 614, and contrast Jung’s own desperate plea: “I want the book to look crazy!” (ibid. 613). 17

For madness and mastery of madness in early Greek philosophy see Reality 430-53, 479-80; for the continuation of the theme, RB 238 n.89, 321 n.313. One of the first people to recognize Jung-“a walking asylum in himself, as well as its head physician”, “a lunatic” who “went through everything an insane person goes through”-as someone whose achievement is that he belonged “in a long line of ‘shamans’ who understood ‘madness, and can heal it, because at periods they are halfmad themselves’” was his own translator, R.F.C. Hull. See D. Bair,]ung (Boston 2003) 292-3, 616-17. I trust I will be excused for laughing at the irony of modern-day scholars denouncing Hull as a “rationalist” (]SB 50; cf. N. Pilard, Jung and intuition, London 2015, 10, 117-18), or of prominent Jungian intellectuals dismissing him as an intellectual (]SB 51 n.136). On Jung’s immense, lifelong regard for Hull and for the “aliveness” of his translations see Bair 583-4 together with the copies of their correspondence held at the Library of Congress (especially Jung’s letter to Hull dated 27 December 1958). For shamanism and madness cf. e.g. M. Eliade, Myths, dreams and mysteries (New York 1961) 225; M. Hoppal, Shamans and traditions (Budapest 2007) 35; C. Pratt, An encyclopedia of shamanism (New York 2007) 4, 91, 116, 304, 436, 513; Reality 440.




Madness as the place where one encounters the sacred: see e.g. M. Stein,]] 4/4 (2010) 96 on Jung’s “transformed view of sickness and health. In the Red Book, he advocates embracing one’s madness on the grounds that God is to be found there precisely…. Just how deeply Jung carried out this project in his own case is amply demonstrated in the text. He gives very convincing impressions of pushing the mental envelope to the edge of insanity … “. Ordinary sanity as insanity: RB 2386 (when talking about delusion and sickness, don’t forget to include the insanely obsessive influence exerted on us by the spirit of our time which never stops forcing us to view only the most superficial surface of things), 298a (our everyday existence, even more so than all our noble philosophies and great words of wisdom, is not only illogical but totally mad). Of course this raises in passing the question of just what madness is and what possible usefulness the term can really have, aside from denoting states of unusual psychological intensity: cf. J. Custance, Wisdom, madness andfolly (New York 1952) with C.G. Jung, SL 349-52; J.W. Perry, ‘Ihe far side of madness (Englewood Cliffs 1974) and Trials ofthe visionary mind (Albany 1999); J. Hart, ‘Ihe way of madness (London 1997); P. Williams, Rethinking madness (San Rafael 2012). 19

For Corbin’s very brief autobiographical comments, recorded just before he died, about the process of being taught “les vertus inestimables du Silence” directly by his inner teacher or sheikh see HC 46. For Empedocles’ exquisitely beautiful comments on the nature of words see ENM 353, 399-404; Reality 518-33. To him, as well as other so-called Presocratic philosophers (for Parmenides note e.g. Theophrastus, On the senses 4 = Parmenides fr. 33.21 Gemelli Marciano = A.H. Coxon, ‘Ihe fragments ofParmenides, 2 nd ed., Las Vegas 2009, 142-3 §45),



absolutely everything in existence is full of consciousness and life-even right down to the words we humans speak. MarieLouise von Franz has claimed that what makes the “alchemical myth” the only one worth living in the West, and the only

one capable of reviving western civilization, is the alchemists’ appreciation of matter as alive and conscious; their deep understanding of the feminine; and their willingness to face the problem of opposites (PP 38, 1998, 16). What von Franz fails to note is that all these understandings were quintessential aspects of the Presocratics’ teachings (for the feminine see IDPW; for the opposites, Reality 29-30, 85-6, 212-13). No doubt this is because she held the faultlessly rationalistic and commendably evolutionary-minded view of Presocratic philosophy as nothing but a youthful and nai:ve “kind of springtime of the spirit” (Puer aeternus, Santa Monica 1981, 101). 20

Jung was quite open in stating that his work was never intended to help people escape their suffering but was meant to give them the strength they needed to suffer consciously (cf. e.g. PPT81 §185; also R. Aziz’s comments, C.G.]ung’s psychology ofreligion and synchronicity, Albany 1990, 42-4 and M. Stein’s,]] 4/4, 2010, 96). Only in private, though, did he indicate just how far he took the practice of conscious suffering: see especially the letter published by G . Adler in PP 6 (1975) 12 (” … I consciously and intentionally made my life miserable, because I wanted God to be alive and free from the suffering man has put on him by loving his own reason more than God’s secret intentions . … Try to apply seriously what I have told you, not that you might escape suffering-nobody can escape it-but that you may avoid the worst-blind suffering”). On God, for Jung, as a directly experienced reality rather than a theological belief cf. e.g. JS 251, 427-8; for his protest at the



utter superfluousness of mere belief in the presence of such experience, which thanks to its directness is naturally the greatest possible threat to believers and disbelievers alike, JL i 141-2. 21

On this absolutely fundamental idea of offering therapeia to the gods see e.g. Hesiod, 1heogony 100 and Works and days 135; Homeric hymns 3.390 and 32.20; Pindar, Olympian odes 3.16; Herodotus, Histories 2.37; Euripides, Electra 744 and Ion 187. 1herapeia and cognates were also used to describe the process of tending the sick or wounded, and this was the sense that helped Plato to shape our exclusive modern preoccupation with providing therapeia for body and soul (Gorgias 4646, 513d; Laches 185e). It should perhaps be added that James Hillman’s favourite etymologizing of the word therapeia (A bluefire, New York 1989, 73: “.. . the chair of the therapist is indeed a mighty throne … “) is complete self-serving fantasy. 22

See Plato, Euthyphro 12e-15c; F.-G. Herrmann in A companion to Greek religion, ed. D. Ogden (Oxford 2007) 390. One of the many dark ironies here is the way Aristotlealong with a steady lineage of later thinkers-managed to convince himself that, if anybody is to be capable of offering real therapeia to the gods, it can only be by becoming the purest of rationalists (Aristotle, Eudemian ethics 1249613-23; M.L. McPherran,journal ofthe history ofphilosophy 23, 1985, 287-309). This is nothing but a mockery of Socrates’ sacred service to the god Apollo (Plato, Apology 236-c, 30a), which had led him to heal people of their illusions by destroying all their proud concepts instead of helping to build them up (cf. PJB 29-31 and Reality 129, 150-6; for Apollo as both healer and destroyer see IDPW). But it also is a shining example


27- 34


of how easily perceived realities can become distorted and even inverted within the space of just a single generation or two, although we soon will be encountering many more such examples in the case of Jung and his successors.

A. de Jong, Traditions ofthe Magi (Leiden 1997) 213-22, 399-400; H. Remus in Text and artifact in the religions of Mediterranean antiquity, ed. S.G. Wilson and M. Desjardins (Waterloo 2000) 535-6. 23

Plutarch: On the ending ofthe oracles 411e-f. Porphyry: G. Wolff, Porphyrii de philosophia ex oraculis haurienda librorum reliquiae (Berlin 1856) 172-4; K. Buresch, Klaros (Leipzig 1889) 41-2 n.8; B. Haussoullier, Etudes sur l’ histoire de Mi/et et du Didymeion (Paris 1902) xxviii-xxix §XLIII; J.J. O’Meara, Porphyry’s ‘Philosophy from oracles’ in Augustine (Paris 1959) 70 n.1; J. Fontenrose, Didyma (Berkeley 1988) 219-222; Porphyrii philosophi fragmenta, ed. A. Smith (Stuttgart 1993) 370 §322F (the reductionist explanations of the second oracle by A. Busine, Paroles d:Apollon, Leiden 2005, 350 are quite absurd); for the background cf. A.P. Johnson, Religion and identity in Porphyry of Tyre (Cambridge 2013) 172-8. On the famous “last oracle” see T.E. Gregory, Greek, Roman & Byzantine studies 24 (1983) 355- 66; to explain the oracle as prompted by an earthquake blocking a physical spring (M. Henry, Phoenix 39, 1985, 50-2; P. Athanassiadi, Deltion tes Christianikes Archaiologikes Etaireias 15, 1989-90, 277 and n.65) is to overlook the centuries-old prophetic language about the drying up of prophecy’s flow. 24


For a modern example of this fashionably half-rational, half-intuitive view see J. Naydler, 1hefuture ofthe ancient



world (Rochester, VT 2009) 168-204. With unshakeable confidence Naydler declares, on the basis of so much growing interest among people today in divination and different forms of spirituality, that “for us the gods and spirits are returning” (179)-evoking the new-age naivety which leads contemporary pagans from California to visit Delphi for a few days, interfere with the earth there by burying a few crystals, and then claim they have re-activated the ancient oracle. Re-activating sacred sites or gods or goddesses is the new craze: it seems never to occur to anyone that they might have no interest whatsoever in being re-activated or playing our little games. For his broad view of history N aydler follows in the footsteps of Rudolf Steiner, who during his life was given some beautifully fruitful intuitions; but one only has to look back at what Steiner said about the ancient world to see how utterly unintuitive his ideas about the history of western culture happened to be, or how deeply contaminated his understanding was by the collective prejudices of the time he lived in. As for his supposedly revealed knowledge of forgotten civilizations, Carl Jung’s drily humorous earthiness says it all: So long as “Herr Steiner” claims to understand the language of Atlantis but can’t understand the Hittite inscriptions recently discovered in the Near East, there is no good reason to get too “excited” about any of the great things he has to say (IL i 203-4). For the pervasive ignorance of history underpinning most modern ideas about both material, and spiritual, evolution see e.g. SW172-3; for the actual source of our mythologies about Atlantis, ibid. 127-8. 26

Note for example Jung’s finely balanced statement from a few years before he died that-while it was only his extended and solitary study of Gnostic as well as alchemical tradition which at last had shown him something real about “the development




of our unconscious relations to the collective unconscious and the variations our consciousness has undergone”-we westerners are totally lost without any understanding of the alchemical or Hermetic wisdom which bridges the gap between ancient

Gnostics and our modern world. “The Gnostics lived in the first, second, and third centuries. And what was in between? Nothing. And now, today, we suddenly fall into that hole and are confronted with the problems of the collective unconscious which were the same then two thousand years ago-and we are not prepared to meet that problem” (R.I. Evans, Jung on elementary psychology, New York 1976, 232; cf. JS 350-1). 27

“Our cult of progress”: MDR 230/244. The “illusion” of our triumphs: ibid. 227/240. For the Presocratics, their selfevident self-contradictions, and their immensely subtle uses of language see Reality 415-25; ENM 382-4. Failure to approach Jung’s work as a whole in the fullness of its ambiguity leads to the ridiculous situation where he is condemned for not being enough of an evolutionist by scientifically-minded thinkers and for being too much of an evolutionist by “traditionalist” authorities on religion (P. Pietikainen, Utopian studies 1211, 2001, 51-4; R.P. Coomaraswamy in 1he betrayal oftradition, ed. H. Oldmeadow, Bloomington, IN 2005, 61 with W. Smith, ibid. 266): cf. G.-F. Calian’s timely comment, Annual of medieval studies at CEU 16 (2010) 176. 28

Note e.g. his published comments in 1936: “I would call it progress that in the 2,000,000 years that we have existed on earth, we have developed a chin and a decent sort of brain. Historically what we call progress is, after all, just a mushroom growth of coal and oil. Otherwise we are not any more intelligent than the old Greeks or Romans” (New York Tim es for 4 October 1936; cf. JS 89). Compare also his



climactic, and equally sarcastic, warning against imagining one is “infinitely cleverer than all the benighted heads of the Middle Ages” (PR 200 §294);]Vi 148-9 (on the Middle Ages as a period when “the idea of any real improvement did not exist … Real belief in any kind of progress is an absolutely modern invention”) with ii 1047-50 (where Jung is forced by the insistently optimistic attitude of a prominent Jungian, Barbara Hannah, to address his “more or less temperamental” tendency to question whether there is “any movement for the better in the world … one could say things have become better. But in another sense that is most questionable. I don’t know whether our life is happier than the life of the primitive man, or whether life today is better than life in the Middle Ages … it is quite doubtful whether things have become better … don’t forget that we have very limited knowledge … we simply do not know … “); RB 330b (on the question of returning to, and slowly working towards completing, the Middle Ages) with n.354 and MDR 2231236; Man and his symbols (New York 1964) 52. And for Jung’s demonstration, not only through his writings but also through his way of living, that what haunted him more than anything was the “deplorable shortcoming in modern humanity” due to our complete loss of ancient and medieval sensibilities cf. A. Haaning’s comments: ]AP 59 (2014) 22 and (“Back to the Middle Ages”) 27-8. 29

There are some good lessons in human psychology to be learned from observing how those same scientists who used to relish equating increases in relative brain size with an increase in intelligence-so long as it supported the thesis of our superiority to our ancestors as well as other animals-are now busy chasing their own tails after discovering that the brain size of humans has been shrinking for thousands of




years. See e.g. B. Hood, 1he domesticated brain (London 2014) 3-4: “The finding that the human brain has been getting smaller over our recent evolution runs counter to the generally held view that bigger brains equal more intelligence, and that

we are smarter than our prehistoric ancestors … Nobody knows exactly why the human brain has been shrinking, but it does raise some provocative questions about the relationship between the brain, behaviour and intelligence. First, we make lots of unfounded assumptions about the progress of human intelligence. We assume our Stone Age ancestors must have been backward because the technologies they produced seem so primitive by modern standards. But what if raw human intelligence has not changed so much over the past 20,000 years? What if they were just as smart as modern man, only without the benefit of thousands of generations of accumulated knowledge? We should not assume that we are fundamentally more intelligent than an individual born 20,000 years ago … ” For brain shrinkage and other signs of degeneration cf. also K. McAuliffe, Discover 3117 (September 2010) 54-9; C.N Shaw and J.T. Stock, journal ofhuman evolution 30 (2013) 1-8; A.A. Macintosh, R. Pinhasi and J.T. Stock, American journal of physical anthropology 153 (2014) 173 and journal ofarchaeological science 52 (2014) 376-90. As for the Darwinian theory of evolution itself, together with the huge number of noble or savage lies which since the time of Darwin have been needed to defend it, see e.g. M. Baigent, Ancient traces (London 1998) 23-39, 100-116. 30

See Parmenides fr. 6.4-9 and Empedocles fr. 2 Diels = Parmenides fr. 13.5-10 and Empedocles fr. 7 Gemelli Marciano; IDPW221-3 and Reality, especially 83-125, 32641. “What they call life”: Empedocles fr. 15.2 Diels = fr. 15B.6 Gemelli Marciano (to de bioton kaleousi); cf. ENM 360 with



Reality 404-5, 419. For the language used to describe humans by Empedocles as well as Parmenides compare the Aeschylean Prometheus bound 447-50-a passage which eloquently underlines the fact that, for both of them, any real process of human evolution has not yet even begun. 31

See e.g. R. Williams, Open to judgement (London 1994) 103; D. Brown, God and enchantment ofplace (Oxford 2004) 154-5. And for the continuing vitality of this theme, which is so much favoured by property developers across the very same region of southern Switzerland where the Eranos gatherings have always taken place, see M. Caratti’s editorial in La regione Ticino, 12 June 2013, 1 (“Dal momento in cui Gesu muore su una croce … non esiste piu nessun luogo sacro sulla terra. Sacro e l’uomo

.. .”). 32

See APMM; IDPW; Reality, together with my comments in ENM, especially 354-6; Works and conversations 22 (2011) 2237; PSIE with L. Gemelli Marciano, Die Vorsokratiker ii (2 nd ed., Berlin 2013). One would hope there is no need to emphasize how different this is from the familiar scholarly practice of picking out the religious, mystical and even shamanic ideas inadvertently “inherited” by Presocratic philosophers from their ancestors-only to claim that the unique feature of Presocratic thought was its constant efforts to rationalize these older traditions. See for example H. Diels, Parmenides: Lehrgedicht (Berlin 1897) 3-27; K. Joel, Der Ursprung der Natur-Philosophie aus dem Geiste der Mystik (Jena 1906); F.M. Cornford, Classical quarterly 16 (1922) 137-50, 17 (1923) 1-12, and Principium sapientiae (Cambridge 1952); W. Jaeger, 1he theology ofthe early Greek philosophers (Oxford 1947); E.R. Dodds, 1he Greeks and the irrational (Berkeley 1951); and, on the concept of”inheritance”, G. Vlastos, Gnomon 27 (1955) 70.





On the nature of Parmenides’ logic see especially R eality 11-306, 563-85 with ENM 369-81; PSIE 43-126, 215-87 with Ancient philosophy 28 (2008) 21-48. For Friedrich Nietzsche’s fantasies about the icy coldness and “rigor mortis”

of the goddess’ teachings, see his Philosophy in the tragic age ofthe Greeks (South Bend 1962) 69-90. Martin Heidegger’s even clumsier misunderstandings of the poetic language and style so exquisitely, and deliberately, used by Parmenides are on full display in his Parmenides (Bloomington, IN 1992). As for Rudolf Steiner’s quaintly patronizing words about the role played by Parmenides “in the progress of human development toward the stage of thought experience”, these too are utter nonsense-partly due to the numerous mistakes and inaccuracies in Steiner’s account of Presocratic philosophy, most of them imported by him without any question or discrimination from the textbooks of his time, and partly due to his insistence on forcing everything into a nai:ve evolutionary mould (so e.g. The riddles ofphilosophy, Spring Valley, NY 1973, 28-30). Much the same as with the crude misreadings of Heraclitus by the great yogi Sri Aurobindo (Essays in philosophy and yoga = The complete works ofSri Aurobindo xiii, Pondicherry 1998, 215-54; for Heraclitus’ so-called “logos doctrine” see R eality 566-7), the lesson waiting to be learned is that spiritual teachers are all well and good but to mistake their intuitive insights for divine omniscience is a little childish. Even the most genuine spiritual realizations have little power by themselves, regardless of all the rhetoric and wishful thinking, to correct the prejudice and collective misunderstandings embedded in the human brain. 34

Altogether typical in this regard is the so-called Traditionalist, Frithjof Schuon, whose writings on the subject demonstrate just how far removed he is from representing



any authentically “primordial” tradition-or even from being able to convey some genuine understanding of the impulses that gave rise to our western world (Logic and transcendence, Bloomington, IN 2009, 42-6, 95-6). Schuon’s “logic” is simply the humanized reasoning of Plato and Aristotle which, as the last head of the ancient Platonic school emphasized with appropriate finality, is altogether incapable of accessing reality. For Damascius’ elaborate contrast between the apparatus of human reasoning (apodeixeis anthropikai) and the simplicity of divine intuition, which is precisely what logic once used to be, see e.g. his Questions and answers aboutfirst principles l.5 (Traiti des premiers principes i, ed. L.G. Westerink and J. Combes, Paris 1986, 9- 11; Problems and solutions concerningfirst principles, trans. S. Ahbel-Rappe, New York 2010, 72-4) with P. Athanassiadi’s comments in Damascius: 1he philosophical history (Athens 1999) 55. And for some timely help in exploding the mythical notion that rationality and reasoning are somehow designed to help us arrive at the truth, see the recent research published by H. Mercier and D. Sperber, Behavioral and brain sciences 34 (2011) 57-74. 35

For Parmenides as a lawgiver, for the extremely real sense in which his entire logic was given as laws, and for the intimate links connecting this lawgiving with prophecy as well as with the practice of incubation, see IDPW; Reality 15-178, 563-76. On the absolutely fundamental importance of not changing anything in these laws see IDPW209-10 and Reality 55-9, 563 plus the further references cited; Deuteronomy 4:2 with e.g. D.I. Block, How I love your Torah, o Lord! (Eugene 2011) 6 n.3; and the usual rationalizing modern discussions such as G. Camassa’s in Les savoirs de l’ icriture, ed. M. Detienne (Lille 1988) 147-50, in Le ligislateur et la loi dans l’Antiquiti, ed. P.




Sineux (Caen 2005) 29-36 and in Scrittura e mutamento de/le leggi nel mondo antico (Rome 2011). 36

The book I had come across was M. Fabbri and A. Trotta,

Una scuola-collegio di eta augustea (Rome 1989). I integrated the archaeological discoveries with Parmenides’ own poetry in IDPW; cf. ENM 375-80, R eality 578 and more recent discussions such as L. Bergemann, Kraftmetaphysik und Mysterienkult im Neuplatonismus (Munich 2006) 19, 301-25. For the discoveries in Parmenides’ hometown of Velia and their crucial links with prophetic tradition note also G . Pugliese Carratelli in Magna Grecia, ed. Pugliese Carratelli (Milan 1988) 233, G. Camassa in Magna Grecia e Oriente mediterraneo (Atti del trentanovesimo convegno di studi sulla Magna Grecia, Taranto 2000) 348, L. Vecchio, Le iscrizioni greche di Velia (Vienna 2003) 74-6, 91 and Filosofi e medici (Pozzuoli 2004) 38, 40, 46, PSIE 64 (cf. L. Rossetti and M. Pulpito, ibid. 16); for their links with the practice of incubation, S. Musitelli, La parola def passato 35 (1980) 241-55, G. Sacco, Rivista di.filologia e di istruzione classica 109 (1981) 36-40, Pugliese Carratelli 230, Camassa 347 and G. Costa, La sirena di Archimede (Alessandria 2008) 168-81. 37

For Parmenides, his successor Zeno, and the modesty of their hometown in southern Italy versus the imperialist “arrogance” of Athens, cf. e.g. IDPW197-203, 225- 6 and Reality 301-6; PSIE 108-110. On the issue of relations with Athens see also APMM 155-6, 339-41; SW114-16, 127-8, 148. I documented at length the traditional practices of learning how to breathe, be silent, use one’s senses to the full, in R eality. One sign of how completely out of touch modern intellectuals, including so-called experts on Jung, are from such realities is provided



by the ridiculous statements of Wolfgang Giegerich: “It has been said about Pythagoras, who believed in the transmigration of souls, that when he erected himself and craned his neck with all his mental powers he was effortlessly able to view every detail in his ten or even twenty former lives” (]JTP 6/1, 2004, 23, supposedly citing Empedocles). In fact what Empedocles had said about Pythagoras is that he was able to see back into previous lifetimes not by craning his neck but through conscious breathing, when he stretched his lungs and diaphragm a certain way (Empedocles fr. 129 Diels = fr. 186 Gemelli Marciano; ENM 355, 400-1). Giegerich should perhaps think twice before criticizing Jungians, as well as Jung, for the fundamentally amateurish and unscholarly nature of their publications (]JTP 6/1, 2004, 41-2, A. Casement,]AP 56, 2011, 542). 38

Aristotle, On prophesying in dreams 464a20-22. For the praises still heaped on him because of this text see e.g. E .R. Dodds, 7he Greeks and the irrational (Berkeley 1951) 120 (“coolly rational without being superficial, and he shows at times a brilliant insight”); P.J. van der Eijk, Medicine and philosophy in classical antiquity (Cambridge 2005) 189 (“intriguing … sophisticated”); W.V. Harris, Dreams and experience in classical antiquity (Cambridge, MA 2009) 233.


While asleep no one is worth anything … “: Plato, Laws 807d-808c; the continuation, where Plato specifies that all children absolutely have to be supervised each single moment of every day because otherwise they are no better than beasts, is also worth reading. The difference between this attitude and the great “nocturnal work” imposed on Jung by his soul (RB 2116; L.S. Owens, 7he Gnostic 3, 2010, 30, 41) is as plain as ” •••




the difference between night and day. For Parmenides’ own approach to the unconsciousness of darkness and night-which to him is no reason to avoid them but, on the contrary, an invitation to penetrate and explore them-see IDPW 64-5 with

ENM 377-8 n.108 and also R. Padel, In and out ofthe mind (Princeton 1992) 71. The traditional mystical view of the soul’s prophetic powers while the body sleeps at night (so e.g. Pindar, fr. 1316 Maehler) would of course be subjected to the usual rationalizing treatment by Plato (Republic 571d-5726, Timaeus 70d-726) and was still acceptable to Aristotle right at the start of his philosophical career (fr. 10 Rose = On philosophy fr. 12a Untersteiner). But for the disparagement of night, as opposed to daytime, in Aristotle’s own later writings cf. P.J. van der Eijk, De insomniis, de divinatione per somnum (Berlin 1994) 319; and note how different the attitude to sleep and dreams held by Plato in his “mature” old age has become from what was clearly the attitude of the historical Socrates (W.V Harris, Dreams and experience in classical antiquity, Cambridge, MA 2009, 25, 55, 161, 250-2). 40

“From earliest dawn until sunrise” and “this is the time … “: see Plato, Laws 951d, 9616 with, for the traditions he followed and then obscured, IDPW207-13. It will be noted that Jung, too, was drawn to an awareness of the unique importance associated with “the sun at the moment of rising”: with “the moment”, “the moment of dawn” (]AP 58, 2013, 165 with n.6, cf. also JL i 44). On the depths of darkness and night as the ultimate source of laws see IDPW213-19; and on the crucial linkage in ancient Greece betweeen prophecy and darkness cf. R. Padel’s fine observations, In and out ofthe mind (Princeton 1992) 69-77. As for Arthur Versluis’ claim that, with its exclusive focus on a spirituality of light, “Platonism represents



the original intellectual inheritance of the West”-few assertions could be more misleading or misinformed (Religion oflight, Minneapolis 2013, 26; cf. 83, “the essential wisdom tradition of the West”). 41

W. Burkert, Lore and science in ancient Pythagoreanism (Cambridge, MA 1972) 121-3; APMM 368. In other respects, though, Plato must certainly have worn the patience of his Pythagorean hosts rather thin-for instance when, after sending messages begging them to find a practical way to break him out of prison because the man he had naively wanted to train to become a philosopher-king had locked him up, he went on to criticize them for being too practical. See SW155-7.


On the extent of Plato’s indebtedness to earlier mystical as well as mythical traditions, and his failure to grasp their subtleties, see APMM; on his rationalizations of those earlier traditions, IDPW; and on his inability to hold or transmit the reality they contained, SW Neither can Plato in all honesty even be credited with discovering the famous Platonic archetypes or “ideas” (cf. APMM 88-93, 103-7 for Pythagoreans; J. Broackes, Classical quarterly 59, 2009, 46-59 for Socrates): basically he just tried to make sense of them with his reasoning mind, which is quite impossible, and ended up creating a terrible mess. For his transpositions of initiatory and mystery terminology see e.g. C. Riedweg, Mysterienterminologie bei Platon, Phi/on und Klemens von Alexandrien (Berlin 1987); A. Bernabe in Plato’s ‘Sophist’ revisited, ed. B. Bossi and T.M. Robinson (Berlin 2013) 41-56; B. Sattler in Philosophy and salvation in Greek religion, ed. V. Adluri (Berlin 2013) 151-90. 43

For the general situation see IDPW39-43 and also, on the I nature of facts, R eality 17-22. One example of flesh-and-blood




figures reacting to Plato’s inclusion of them as characters inside his published fantasies is offered in Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists 505d (Gorgias 82A15a Diels-Kranz; Reality 483). 44

On killing “father Parmenides”, the details about the Velian background, and the related discrediting of Parmenides’ adopted son Zeno by Plato in his other fictitious dialogue called Parmenides, see Sophist 241d-242a with IDPW39-45, 150-62; Reality 303-5; PSIE 107-113, 232, 275-84. As for “Elea”, the crude form of the name Velia which was to become popular in the West largely thanks to Plato, see ENM 375 n.101. It will be noted that the word “father” or pater, applied by him here to Parmenides, also had the much broader sense of “ancestor”: G. Nagy, Pindar’s Homer (Baltimore 1990) 177 §58, 195 §88. On the enormity of patricide for ancient Greeks see e.g. J.N. Bremmer’s comments in Interpretations of Greek mythology, ed. Bremmer (London 1987) 49: “An ever-present possibility, parricide was considered to be one of the most appalling of crimes … Imputation of parricide was one of the ‘unspeakable things’ which could result in legal action; even the word ‘parricide’ was only mentioned with reluctance, if at all”; and note also Plato’s own strictures, Laws 869a-c, 880e-881e. For the quite insanely foolish lengths to which some contemporary academics are still willing to go in the remote hope of being able to distance Plato from any accusation of committing patricide, see e.g. J.A. Palmer, Plato’s reception of Parmenides (Oxford 1999) 145-7; D. O’Brien in Plato’s ‘Sophist’ revisited, ed. B. Bossi and T.M. Robinson (Berlin 2013) 117-55. And for the repeated murders of Parmenides committed ever since Plato’s time by not only distorting his teaching, but also violating and changing his own words, see especially Reality 117-44, 566-9; PSIE 217-29.




See e.g. Strabo, Geography 14.1.44 (tois d’ allois adytos estin ho topos kai olethrios, of an incubation shrine offering access to the underworld), IDPW81-3; and for the full implications of Parmenides’ outi se moira kake proupempe (Parmenides fr. 1.26 Diels = fr. 8A.32 Gemelli Marciano) see ibid. 61-5, 101-5. On the perfectly specific and coherent geography of Parmenides’ descent into the underworld cf., aside from IDPW, W. Burkert, Phronesis 14 (1969) 1-30 = Kleine Schriften viii (Gottingen 2008) 1-27; G. Cerri, La parola def passato 50 (1995) 458-67 and Parmenide di Elea (Milan 1999) 98-109, 172-83; ENM 369-81 and Reality 23-272, 563-70; L. Gemelli Marciano, Ancient philosophy 28 (2008) 21-46 and PSIE 65-81, plus the further references at IDPW239-40 and ENM 373 n.94. Those brave academics who try to cast doubt on Parmenides’ destination (e.g. M. Miller, Oxford studies in ancient philosophy 30, 2006, 1-47) no longer have the remotest understanding of how to approach, or read with respect, ancient mystical texts. 46

For Plato’s murder of Parmenides together with his paternal logic as stemming from the desperate need to qualify what Parmenides himself had left dangerously and, for all the busy thinking of our “wandering minds”, very frustratingly unqualified see the plain statement he puts into the mouth of the “stranger from Velia” at Sophist 241d (… patraloian … biazesthai to te me on hos esti kata ti kai to on au palin hos ouk esti pei .. .); Reality 83-8, 97, 304-6. The whole point and purpose behind Parmenides’ most basic law of logic-that reality as well as everything in it “either is or is not”, without the slightest possibility of compromise or qualification-was that anyone willing to take the risk of meditating on it will sooner or later be brought to a direct awareness of the timeless reality beyond all existence (IDPW 162-223, Reality 44-8). The whole point and purpose behind Plato’s explicit violation of this law was




to restore the possibility that what is not also “in one sense” (kata ti) is and that what is also, “in a certain respect” (pei), is not. By violating Parmenides’ laws with his patricidal little “in one sense” and innocent-sounding “in a certain respect”, with

his endless need to qualify, his constant ifs and buts, Plato was able to lay the ground for all the complicated theorizing of later western thought. At the same time, he also ended up walking straight down the path of “is but also is not” which the goddess in Parmenides’ poem had already mocked as being the quintessence of human futility (Parmenides fr. 6.4-9 Diels = fr. 13.5-10 Gemelli Marciano). 47

Parmenides fr. 6.4-7 Diels Reality 83-110.


fr. 13.5-8 Gemelli Marciano;


The roots and source of every element: Hesiod, 7heogony 736-45, 807-10; M.E. Pellikaan-Engel, Hesiod and Parmenides (Amsterdam 1974) 19-30, 49; IDPW 51-3, 125-6. Parmenides’ logic as madness: Aristotle, On generation and corruption 325a13-23 (… maniai paraplesion einai … oudena gar ton mainomenon exestanai tosouton … dia ten manian); c£ Reality 212, 479 and, for some crucial remarks on the Academic as well as sophistic background to Aristotle’s statement, L. Gemelli Marciano, Democrito e l’Accademia (Berlin 2007), especially 120-1. 49

For the stranger from Velia on the madness involved in deciding to kill Parmenides see Plato, Sophist 242a (manikos einai). Aside from being obvious to Plato himself (maniais orges ton gennetoron tolmesai kteinai tina: Laws 869a), the connection between patricide and madness is deeply embedded in the unconsciousness of western culture (cf. e.g. A.N. Pfau, Madness in the realm, PhD thesis, University of Michigan 2008, 152-3);



and Jacques Derrida does well to note the potent presence of this connection here in Plato’s Sophist (On hospitality, Stanford 2000, 3-11). But otherwise Derrida’s analysis of the passage is invalidated by his strange failure to realize that the stranger is not just a stranger, any stranger-but an Eleates xenos, a stranger who quite specifically has come from Velia. 50

The most famous discussion of sacred madness or prophetic frenzy in western literature is, inappropriately but predictably, the iconic passage where Plato posits the existence of “divine” or good kinds of madness which are quite separate and distinct from any other kind of craziness (Phaedrus 244a-245b, 249c-d, 265a, 266a). Certainly this rationalizing, even sophistical, attempt at separating good types of madness from bad ones can make for some pretty literature-but its popularity shows how, as a culture, we always will prefer empty rhetoric over reality. The truth is that any such distinction is completely artificial (E.R. Dodds, The Greeks and the irrational, Berkeley 1951, 68; for the ambiguities involved cf. also IDPW 55-92), ignoring all the paradoxical and chaotic and hellish aspects of madness as an actual reality. On the deceptiveness, and dangerousness, of such superficial distinctions see R eality 438-41; and note how, in spite of his high-fl.own insistence that we shouldn’t be afraid of madness (Phaedrus 245b), when it came down to daily life Plato wanted to have as little to do with mad people as possible (A. Gocer, Apeiron 3214, 1999, 32). 51

RBu 230 (cf. RB 2306). For the two spirits see RB 207-8, 229-30, 238-9 n.91 (” … the dark underworld of the spirit of the depths …”); and, for Jung’s initiation into the mysteries of the underworld by the spirit of the depths, 246 n.162. It will be noted that, although Jung formally dedicates some sections of the R ed book to the theme of descending into the




underworld (RB 2376, 2886), the presence of the underworld is constant almost throughout; and the “technique of descent” that he employed corresponds, even down to the smallest details, to ancient methods for the practice of incubation (IJP 68; MDR 174/181; RB 246 n.161). Also worth noting is the fact that Jung’s two favourite terms for describing his descents, katabasis and nekyia, both derive straight from ancient Greece. For katabasis see already Ff 540 §300J (25 February 1912) and, as an early indicator of his enthusiasm for the word, the handwritten note he tucked away at the back of his own copy of Albrecht Dieterich’s Nekyia (“katdbasis … !”); also ST 365 §572, KY18, 86, SM 139-40 §213, RB 239 n.96, SL 38 §80, 120 §264, NZ i 694, ii 1194, PA 329 §436 (compare M. Stein’s comments,JAP 57, 2012, 281), PR 508 §828, MC 350 §493, CT 355 §674. Nekyia: see especially ETG 103-4 and PA 53 n.2; also SM 138-9 §§210-13, SL 38 §80, 107 §239, PA 120 §156, 141 §178, ACU 184 §311, Aion 209 §327, ST 431 §671, MC 73 n.211. 52

On the madness constantly standing behind the thin fac;ade of reasoning, see for example RB 298a. For reason as poison, note especially his powerful account of how not only have we all been poisoned but we then proceed to “spread poison and paralysis around us by wanting to train all the world around us to be rational” (RBu 280a; cf. RB 2806). On a superficial level one could compare the hostile attitude to rationality that manifested in the circles surrounding Stefan George and Ludwig Klages: see e.g. R.E. Norton, Secret Germany (Ithaca, NY 2002) 226-8 and, for Jung’s relation and reaction to both men, CT 181 n.3 (cf. 347 §657) with P. Bishop, 7he Dionysian se!f (Berlin 1995) 197 n.26, 291, 302-3 and n.7, 309-11. But Gemelli Marciano makes the essential point that what we are confronted with in the Red book is far less a question of literary



concepts, or even attitudes, than of hard inner experience (PSIE 231-3, 280). 53

For Jung on “outraged Nature” seeking revenge against “the individual and his rationally ordered world … for the violence his reason has done to her” see especially PR 344 §531 together with the commentaries of bewildered scholars such as L.O. Gomez in Curators ofthe Buddha, ed. D.S. Lopez (Chicago 1995) 199-200. And note also Jung’s concluding words to the same paragraph, “Man is never helped in his suffering by what he thinks of for himself; only suprahuman, revealed truth lifts him out of his distress” (an expression of the purest Gnostic sentiment: W.C. Grese, Corpus hermeticum XIII and early Christian literature, Leiden 1979, 72, 84). On the apocalyptically destructive powers of reason, c£ e.g. JL ii 209 (January 1955); and compare his much earlier comments in the R ed book contrasting the living experience of God with the “ashes of rationality” (RBu 337a, c£ RB 339a). As for the passage already cited earlier, where Jung describes embarking on the path of conscious suffering to save the divine from having to suffer “because I wanted God to be alive and free from the suffering man has put on him by loving his own reason more than God’s secret intentions”, see PP 6 (1975) 12; and on his personal sense of needing to balance, or compensate for, everyone else’s reasonableness cf. SL 704 §1585. Without any doubt, as Walter Odajnyk has been honest enough to point out, nowadays that would include the need to compensate for the reasonableness of many Jungians. Compare his frank comment on Jung’s words about all the murderers among the scholars: “Unfortunately, one could add, the same can be said of psychotherapists and psychoanalysts whose rational reductive explanations kill the living spirit and undermine any creative




resolution of the problems they are asked to address” (PP 53, 2010, 449). 54

In a strange monument to lopsided scholarship Sonu Shamdasani cites part of an unpublished letter that Jung wrote to his colleague Josef Lang on 17 January 1918, where he warns Lang about the risks of working with the unconscious, as a plain illustration of Jung’s absolute refusal to be dismissive of reason or science (cf. RBu 209a and RB 207a, unwisely followed by S.L. Drob, Reading the R ed book, New Orleans 2012, 181). “The danger lies in the delusion of being a prophet which often is the result of working with the unconscious. It is the devil who says: ‘Be disdainful of reason and science, humanity’s supreme power’. This is something we must never forget.” Shamdasani correctly notes that Jung here is quoting Mephistopheles, the devil in Goethe’s Faust (“Verachte nur Vernunft und Wissenschaft, Des Menschen allerhochste Kraft”, 1.1851-2: in the original letter Jung writes out these words as verse). But he completely fails to take into account the intense and enduring sympathy Jung felt for Goethe’s Mephistopheles (MDR 68-9/60-1, 85/80, 221-2/234-5,JP 212), not to mention the intimacy of his relationship with the devil (RB 259-61). He also omits the previous paragraph of this same letter which, aside from showing how eager Jung was to enlist Lang in the project of presenting a solid scientific foundation for his psychology (cf. SL 825), helps as well to highlight how little Jung’s own unconscious was ultimately committed to such a project. The multiple mistakes in Shamdasani’s English translation at RB 207a (“prophet’s delusion” instead of “delusion of being a prophet” for “Prophetenwahn”, “That is never appropriate” for “Das ist nie zu vergessen”) are-especially from someone



claiming to be alone in setting true scholarly standards for the study of Jung (Cult.fictions, London 1998, 112; ]AP 45, 2000, 469)-inexcusable. 55

For instance M .H. Barreto makes a noble effort to challenge “the misunderstanding” ofJung as someone who “discards or undervalues reason”, and to correct it by quoting Jung’s own assurance that “I am far from wishing to belittle the divine gift of reason, man’s highest faculty” (]] 9/1, 2015, 37, citing ACU94 §174). But if Barreto had turned back just one page, and taken the trouble to read such a reassuring statement in its context, he would have realized that this apparent exaltation of reason as humanity’s divine and highest faculty is dripping with irony. In fact, despite his propitiatory claim to be “far from wishing to belittle the divine gift of reason, man’s highest faculty”, Jung has just done precisely thatdescribing how the attachment to rationality derives its power from an “infantile parental complex” which always “turns into sheer intellectuality”, and painting the most gruesome picture of reason as emitting “a deceptive light” that “spreads a darkness over all those things which it would be most needful for us to know” (ibid. 93-4 §§173-4; compare his scornful rejection of the worshipful attitude towards reason as “our overwhelming illusion”, SL 261 §598, as well as his horror at the “rationalistic darkness which will yet extinguish the little lamps of understanding”,]AP 46, 2001, 194). With equal determination Jung also goes on to do the exact same thing elsewhere, disdainfully mocking the authority of reason while openly dethroning it from its usurped position as humanity’s “supreme arbiter” (PR 452 §735). Barreto continues to argue for the idea of Jung as a defender of rationalism by quoting his statement that “a relativation of rationalism is needed, but not an abandonment of reason, for the reasonable thing




for us is to turn to the inner man and his vital needs” (]] 9/1, 2015, 37, citing]L ii 286). Here too he fails to note the deviousness of Jung’s dark subtlety as he twists the very essence of reason inside out and outside in, ironically insisting that the only reasonable course of action is to pursue the one thing reasonableness resists more than anything else: the impulse to turn inside (compare his abrupt use of the same strategy in QPT76; SD 380-1 §§738-9). And it’s the identical story again when, in one of his seminars, Jung not only praises animals for their reasonableness but sweetly insists that we humans can only become reasonable if we make the effort to imitate them: “for it is very difficult to be reasonable” (]Vi 168; c£ JL i 119). This of course is Jung skilfully and systematically undermining the very basis of rationality by standing on its head the standard western doctrine that animals are aloga, beasts deprived of reason. 56

For underworld as place of paradox in antiquity see e.g. APMM 77 with n.27, IDPW 67-8; compare Jung’s comments linking the spirit of the depths with paradox, RB 2296; and on his appreciation for the deliberate ambiguity and multiple meanings of”the ancients” see RBu 244 n.144. 57

The suppression of Jung’s strong desire to express a parallelism between his own destiny and the fate of Odysseus in descending to the underworld is, itself, a sorry story. The German edition of Memories, dreams, reflections does permit him to reflect broodingly on the solitary destiny that had been assigned to him of performing, “like Odysseus, a nekyia, the descent into dark Hades”; but in the American and British versions this has been surgically removed (ETG 103-4, cf. NL 102 with RB 304 n.223 and S. Muramoto, Spring, 1987, 166-7). Shamdasani has also dug up an unpublished note,



short but poignant, by Jung’s secretary about the central chapter of Memories, dreams, reflections called “Confrontation with the unconscious”: it states that “The strong excitement Jung underwent still reverberates when he tells of these matters. He proposes as the epigraph for this chapter the quotation from the Odyssey, ‘Happily escaped from death”‘ (]AP 45, 2000, 465, citing MDRC 120 n.1). This comment by Aniela Jaffe is certainly very significant-although Shamdasani seems to be unaware here not only that ever since 1962 it has been included in the published German edition of Jung’s biography (ETG 180 n.4), but also that the unpublished Protocols on which the biography is based contain Jung’s explicit statement recommending these same words from the Odyssey be used as an opening quote or motto for the entire book rather than one chapter alone. See JP 147 where, straight after being invited to speak openly about the whole scope of his life’s work, Jung is recorded as quoting the Homeric saying “Glad to have escaped from death” and noting that in its original Greek wording it would make the most perfect epigram or motto if it could be printed right at the beginning of his autobiography. And yet all these details only add extra force to Shamdasani’s conclusion that “with the complete omission of all these statements in the English edition, the Homeric echoes of Jung’s confrontation with the unconscious were lost, together with the connection to his numerous references to Odysseus’ nekyia in the Collected Works” (470 n.5). For the source of the Greek words Jung so much wanted to quote from Homer see Odyssey 9.63, 9.566, 10.134. On the ancient background to the traditions about Pythagoras’ descent into the underworld see W. Burkert, Phronesis 14 (1969) 1-30 = Kleine Schriften viii (Gottingen 2008) 1-27 and Lore and science in ancient Pythagoreanism (Cambridge, MA 1972) 151-61; APMM; S. Schorn in A history




ofPythagoreanism, ed. C.A. Huffman (Cambridge 2014) 300-1; and as a typical example of the persistent attempts by “rational” scholars to keep suppressing any traces of these traditions see now L. Zhmud, Pythagoras and the early Pythagoreans (Oxford 2012) 216-18. 58

Experiencing what happened to Christ in the underworld: RB 2436, c£ 3046; L.S. Owens and S.A. Hoeller in Encyclopedia ofpsychology and religion (2 nd ed., New York 2014), ed. D.A. Leeming, 979. “Travelling to hell means becoming hell oneself”: RBu 240a, 244a (cf. RB 2406, 244a). Christ, too, became Hell: RB 2426. Toshia Kawai offers a frightening example of orthodox Jungian reactions to such statements when he notes that, although Jung’s descent into hell was “surely terrible”, his account of it shows he “has never lost sight of the position of the ego. This was not a total loss” (]AP 57, 2012, 381). 59

For Rosa’s own delightfully caustic comments on the scene see Lettere inedite di Salvator Rosa a G.B. Ricciardi, ed. A. de Rinaldis (Rome 1939) 141 §107; also X.F. Salomon in Salvator Rosa, ed. H. Langdon (London 2010) 87. Qiite predictably the archetypal modern scholar, Carl Huffman, inverts the entire symbolism of the painting: “Pythagoras himself is an obscure figure … What is at the center of the painting and takes up the bulk of the space is the reaction to Pythagoras by the other figures. Thus, the historical Pythagoras may not be as important as the reactions to him” (A history ofPythagoreanism, Cambridge 2014, 2). For Huffman’s unfailing ability to turn Pythagorean tradition on its head and, regardless of any real cost, sacrifice the most important evidence in the name of some illusory rationality see e.g. Reading ancient texts, ed. S.



Stern-Gillet and K. Corrigan (Leiden 2007) i 57- 94 and 1he Continuum companion to Plato, ed. G.A. Press (London 2012) 26 together with my warnings in Classical review 44 (1994) 294-6 and SW155-8. 6

°For Jung as scientist, and psychology as science, see e.g.

S. Shamdasani,]M 29-99 along with the surreally onedimensional essays in Jung and the question ofscience, ed. R.A. Jones (Hove 2014). R. Main in his book 1he rupture oftime (Hove 2004) not only was unable to take advantage of the Red book’s publication, but also downplayed the complexity of many statements by Jung about science which had already been published. And although he is to be commended for noting Jung’s “bold attempt to return to the kind of unitary world-view that had prevailed before the emergence of modern science” (123), his belief that this just involves skipping “two or three centuries of the dominance of reason and science” (2) is more than a little wide of the mark. 61

See e.g. Jung’s letter of 4 December 1931 to Gustav Heyer, carefully insisting on the strategic need to distance Jungian psychology “for quite a long time” from any association with mysticism or parapsychology (H.T. Hakl, Eranos, Sheffield 2013, 66), or the angry letter he wrote to Rascher Verlag on 27 July 1957 “claiming that it had been the responsibility of Rascher, as his publisher, to ensure that his psychology was not presented as unscientific, or even alchemical” (P. Bishop, Seminar 34, 1998, 381). Bishop goes on to describe not only how Jung’s “disciples were manoeuvring in the background to influence the reception of his psychology” but also what a significant role Jung happened to play “in establishing his public image”, constantly promoting himself “as a scientist who nonetheless managed to go beyond the boundaries of




conventional science” (381, 384). For more of his perpetual shuffiings behind the scenes see D. Bair, Jung (Boston 2003) 550-5-as well as independent reports about the lengths Jung would go to and the concealments he would keep operating “in order to preserve his scientific reputation” (P. Brunton, Reflections on my lift and writings = 7he notebooks ofPaul Brunton viii, Burdett, NY 1987, 214). 62

For personalities no. 1 and no. 2 see MDR with JP 297-303; also D. Bair, Jung (Boston 2003) 15-16. On the correlation of personalities no. 1 and no. 2 with the spirit of this time and the spirit of the depths see S. Shamdasani, RB 207-8. Dead systems: RB 2326. “True self’: MDR 55145. “True life”: ibid. 18/4, 214/225. For the spirit of the depths, the spirit of this time, science and reason cf. e.g. RB 2296, 234a. 63

Mark Saban well emphasizes the fundamentally “dual nature of the human personality” according to Jung, a duality which regardless of every Jungian cliche will never in a human’s lifetime be outgrown or integrated into a homogenous whole: a dualism of two “radically incompatible” personalities which, although perceived and noticed “only by the very few” (MDR 55/45), presents a constant threat to the psyche’s unity and sustains a tension that will never be resolved (How and why we still readJung, ed. J. Kirsch and M. Stein, Hove 2013, 17-20). This is the underlying reason why Jung himself always stressed how complicated he was and how full of contradictions he, as well as his work, happened to be. See e.g. JL i 441; his letter to E.A. Bennet dated 10 October 1956 (]AP 45, 2000, 466); T. Keller, Inward light 35 (1972) 11 (c£ 7he memoir of Tina Keller-Jenny, ed. W.K. Swan, New Orleans 2011, 20 §47); D. Bair, Jung (Boston 2003) 300.




For the fundamental conflict in Empedocles between two opposing spirits or “daimonic” beings, Aphrodite versus “mad Strife”, see Reality 345-461; for Aphrodite against Persephone in Parmenides, ibid. 205-20. It will be noted that the competing claims of both spirits have to be balanced in our human awareness and consciously given their places in our lives, just as Jung himself emphasized (Reality 215-30, 255-94, 377-487; RB 2386). For Jung’s early acknowledgement of Empedocles see ZL 79 §203 with P. Bishop, The Dionysian seif(Berlin 1995) 37-8. In the same text he had just evoked Empedocles as a prime example of the “ardent desire for truth” (ZL 70 §179), although anyone familiar with Empedocles’ writings will realize that his presence and influence on Jung also extend far beyond these two mentions of his name. See e.g. ZL 83 §217 (“The elements began to love and hate each other, and multiplicity was born out of their opposition”) and even 83 §218 on “the roots of dualism” (for Jung on Empedocles’ “roots” c£ PR 38 n.9, 167 n.5; AS 195 §242). Tellingly, Freud too was very glad to acknowledge Empedocles as anticipating his own most fundamental views about the essential polarity and duality of the human psyche: see G. Tourney, Bulletin ofthe history of medicine 30 (1956) 109-17. 65

For the imagery of the brass band as symbolic of Jung’s superficial and worldly personality no. 1 see his finely accurate self-characterization: MDR 204/214. The real-life brass bands that evoked this striking dream image are listed by him in the still unpublished Protocols for his autobiography (JP 83-4). 66

See, for example, Paul Bishop’s comments in 1998 (Seminar 34, 384) on the active suppression of the Red book specifically because it questions the conventional image of Jung as a scientist. Cary de Angulo’s personal notes about Jung and his




Red book, dating from the early 1920s, are especially precious in this regard. Note, in particular, her mention of how certain he was that he would totally “lose out” as a scientist if the book was ever published; her reference, again, to his conviction that by publishing it he would permanently exclude himself from being able to enter into battle in “the world of rational science”; and her own wish that there was some way he could make the book available to all the people who need it while at the same time protecting himself against the “stupidity” of those who would reject it (RB 2126, 214a; CEA). In an excellent demonstration of this stupidity, soon after its publication the Jungian scholar Robert Segal dramatically cursed the Red book for expressing “a shocking hatred by Jung of science per se” and dismissed it as “an embarrassment” that “should have been kept locked away forever”. He even, irony of ironies, cites Aristotle as an eminent example of what Jung should have aspired to be (I]]S 6, 2014, 74-9). But in fact all Segal has done is revive, quite unconsciously, the age-old game already played by Aristotle of trying to salvage the respectable parts of Presocratic wisdom while trashing whatever seems “unscientific” or mystical. See APMM with my further comments in ENM 350-6. 67

“Took away my belief in science … the inexplicable and paradoxical”: Red book, folio i verso= RB 2296; cf. 238a (Jung begs his soul to protect him from science and keep him far away from the bondage of its cleverness), 267 n.44, 307-8, 313a, 3366. Science as a poison in spite of its advantages: RB 278-83. The magical incantations sung “in the ancient manner” (“nach uralter Weise”): 283-6. It will be noted that for ancient Greeks, and especially in the magical or Orphic circles associated with healers like Empedocles, the single word pharmakon meant both poison and incantation; remedy as well



as spell. See e.g. D. Collins, Magic in the ancient world (Oxford 2008); F. Jourdan, Revue de l’histoire des religions 225 (2008) 5-36. Murray Stein has, correctly and very appropriately, connected this dramatic passage in the Red book about magical incantations to ancient Orphic traditions (]AP 57, 2012, 291-3). For Jung’s fascination with these traditions see]PPF 4/1 (1912) 167-8, 178, 370-3, 398 = Psychology ofthe unconscious (New York 1916) 133-4, 147, 373-7, 406; RB 237 n.83, 301-2 n.211, 327 n.340, 364; Stein 291-4 plus G. Qyispel, Gnostica, judaica, Catholica (Leiden 2008) 249-50, 255-60. And note, too, his crucial quotation from Goethe’s poem “Urworte. Orphisch” near the start of the Red book which has been pointed out by Paul Bishop (How and why we still read Jung, ed. J. Kirsch and M. Stein, Hove 2013, 69, citing RB 233-4). Jung’s own pencil markings inside the books belonging to his personal library (e.g. W. Schultz, Dokumente der Gnosis, Jena 1910, lxxxv-lxxxvii; H. Leisegang, D ie Gnosis, Leipzig 1924, 99; cf. AN vii 118) also show his very specific interest in the influence of Orphic lore, particularly relating to the god Phanes, on later Gnosticism. For the direct links between Orphic magical traditions, Parmenides and Empedocles see APMM; IDPW62-8, 89-94, 121-3, 132, 212-14; ENM 373-80. Empedocles and magical incantations: APMM 222, 247-8, 342; ENM 395. Parmenides and magic incantations: IDPW119, 141, 170; G. Pugliese Carratelli in Magna Grecia, ed. Pugliese Carratelli (Milan 1988) 234-6. 68

On 3 October 1957 AnielaJaffe triggered a spirited monologue by Jung about the very same passage in his Red book-the Izdubar episode-where the poison and incantations are mentioned (JP 147-8). He vividly relives the experience of being forced against his conscious will to write such ridiculous nonsense; complains bitterly about just how much this cost




him; and insists that no one could possibly understand what he had to endure. For Jung’s overriding fear of science see e.g. JJW 92: “I am not afraid of communism; I am afraid of unconsciousness and of modern science … The atom bomb is in the hands of unconscious people. It is like giving a baby a kilo of gelignite, it eventually blows itself up” (spoken in 1955). It can be disconcerting to watch how even the most reputable Jung experts assume that, whenever he describes western cultural history as culminating in “modern science”, he must be telling a nice “linear narrative of history” based on an optimistic model of evolution which automatically excludes any possible “apocalyptic” ending (cf. e.g. P. Bishop,jungs ‘Answer to job’, Hove 2002, 132: “… although he is deeply attracted to the apocalyptic convictions of some of the texts he is analysing, ultimately he remains committed to a linear narrative of history … ‘via alchemy to modern science”‘). What they completely, and one could say conveniently, forget is that modern science for Jung had its own apocalyptic as well as catastrophic connotations. See e.g. PR 450-l §§733-4 (modern science’s creations “eclipse even the horrors described in the Apocalypse”), 461 §747, 463 §749, and especially the “evolutionary” picture sketched by him in Modern man in search ofa soul: we as humanity are now “the disappointment of the hopes and expectations of the ages. Think of nearly two thousand years of Christian ideals followed, not by the return of the Messiah and the heavenly millennium, but by the World War among Christian nations with its barbed wire and poison gas. What a catastrophe in heaven and on earth! In the face of such a picture we may well grow humble again. It is true that modern man is a culmination, but tomorrow he will be surpassed. He is indeed the end-product of an age-old 69



development, but he is at the same time the worst conceivable disappointment of the hopes of mankind. The modern man is conscious of this. He has seen how beneficent are science, technology and organization, but also how catastrophic … ” (London 1933, 230; cf. CT 77 §§154-5). 70

On the diabolical consequences of modern science and technology see e.g. SL 567 §1306, ironically addressing “the benevolent god of science” who has “produced the most diabolical war machinery” (spoken in 1936); PR 48 §85, “Look at the devilish engines of destruction. They are invented by completely innocuous gentlemen” (1937); M. Serrano, C.G. Jung and Hermann Hesse (London 1966) 53 = JS 397, “The more successful we become in science and technology, the more diabolical are the uses to which we put our inventions and discoveries” (1959). 71

See e.g. R.I. Evans, Jung on elementary psychology (New York 1976) 147, 217 = JS 333 (“Everyone who says I am a mystic is just an idiot”), JL ii 290, JJW 46; A. Jaffe, Was C. G. Jung a mystic? (Einsiedeln 1989) 1; M.-L. von Franz, PP 38 (1998) 15; S. Shamdasani,JM 1, 101. Freud had already worked hard to make Jung sensitive to the slightest accusation of being a mystic. See his letter to him dated 12 May 1911 about “dem Schimpf’Mystiker”‘, the ultimate insult of being called a mystic (Ff 466 §255F), as well as his letters to Alphonse Maeder dated 21 September 1913 (Schweizerische Zeitschrift fur Psychologie 15, 1956, 117) and to Ernest Jones dated 19 May 1921 (1he complete correspondence ofSigmund Freud and Ernest Jones, 1908-1939, ed. R.A. Paskauskas, Cambridge, MA 1993, 424). Last, but not least, see Jung himself: IJP 25 and FP 339 §781, where he humorously sticks the label of “mystic” back onto Freud.





Letter written in 1926 and, as Gerhard Adler calmly notes, “not published in the selections now available”: PP 6 (1975) 12. For the common knowledge during Jung’s lifetime that he kept his mystical side a secret, note e.g. Paul Brunton’s record of the

time Jung privately admitted to him in his home at Kiisnacht “that he kept his mystical belief and experience secret in order to preserve his scientific reputation” (Reflections on my life and writings= 1he notebooks ofPaul Brunton viii, Burdett, NY 1987, 214; for Brunton’s visit cf.JL i 236 n.); and compare the similar admissions by colleagues and family as recorded in 1hefountain ofthe love ofwisdom, ed. E. Kennedy-Xypolitas (Wilmette 2006) 318 (von Franz), 321 (Jung’s son Franz). “People nowadays . .. defective understanding”: C.G. Jung, Symbolik des Geistes (Zurich 1948) 422-3, cf. PR 184 §274; and compare the wording of his letter to J.B. Rhine in 1935 (]Li 190). 73

See already the opening paragraph of the Red book where the spirit of the depths is introduced as possessing a “greater power”, throughout all time, than the spirit of this time (RB 2296: “hohere Macht”); RB 2336 (the spirit of the depths surpasses and dominates the spirit of this time, which in comparison is ineffective and invalid), 239 n.91. For no. 2 personality as far more valid and powerful than no. 1 see especially Jung’s crucial explanation at]P 302 of how, while no. 1 personality keeps rushing towards one thing or craving another, no. 2 will say something altogether different but that’s what matters (“aber das gilt”); and while anybody identifying with personality no. 1 is bound to be haunted by constant feelings of uncertainty due to living in an unpredictable and relative world, what counts (“was gilt”) is the world of no. 2. Mark Saban is only very partly correct in claiming that, of Jung’s two personalities, “neither is more ‘real’ nor more



fundamental than the other”; and from a practical point of view he is altogether wrong in denying that Jung considered personality no. 1 “in any way inferior or subservient to personality No. 2” (How and why we still read Jung, ed. J. Kirsch and M. Stein, Hove 2013, 20-1). Significantly, just as with Jung, the story is the same with Empedocles: the hidden principle of Strife, his spirit of the depths, is what will ultimately always have the final word on every level by returning each part of existence to its primordial nature or “root” (ENM 384-6, 392-4; Reality 347-453). 74

For Jung’s fiery denunciation of Freudian rationalism, in particular, as a “bastard of a science” because it’s simply a very respectable attempt at “blocking off and protecting oneself” from the huge dangers of making the journey into the unconscious see]B i 185 (cf.]L i 141). Note here, in the contrast he draws between the illegitimacy of modern rational science and the journey of medieval knights on their sacred quest, his obvious allusion to the legends of the Grail. For the genealogy of his vivid bastard imagery see the opening to Otto Rank’s famous June 1924 lecture at the University of Pennsylvania (A psychology ofdijference, Princeton 1996, 51-2; E.J. Lieberman, Acts of will, New York 1985, xxvii). 75

“Rather, it is the solution …”: P. Bishop, Carl Jung (London 2014) 15. And compare S. Shamdasani’s tentative comment, referring to the episode in the Red book where western science is described as a poison that has to be counteracted by incantations: “Jung tries to construct a new science that will no longer wound or lame Izdubar. He’s trying to construct a new science that redeems or provides new access to the ancient” (]AP 57, 2012, 375).





See Jung’s classic comments on the role of “primordial experience” in art: SM 90-8 §§141-52; and for his own, inner experience of returning to the “primordial beginning” see

RB 247a, 251a. The fashionable attempt to reduce him to a

“textual Jung”, conveniently cutting away the raw dimension of experience from his life and work, is made by P. Bishop: Car/Jung (London 2014) 18-21. But Sonu Shamdasani tooaside from his gratuitous and irrelevant mention of a “primal scream”-sadly shows how little he understands of Jung when he claims that in the “depths, we do not find pure experience as such, no ‘primal scream’, but biblical and classical figures” (C. G. Jung: a biography in books, New York 2012, 100). If only he had read carefully the passage from Jung that he himself cites, he would have found him saying just the opposite: “the primordial experience … is so dark and amorphous that it requires the related mythological imagery to give it form . In itself it is wordless and imageless … It is nothing but a tremendous intuition striving for expression. It is like a whirlwind that seizes everything within reach and assumes visible form as it swirls upward … ” (SM96-7 §151, c£ 91-2 §143). For the process of discovering the words and the imagery needed to convey a primordial experience of the depths see also R ed book, folio i verso (poorly translated at RB 2306) with PSIE 231. 77

On the word physikos, its particular meanings and applications, see Marcel Mauss’ simple but elegant comments in A general theory of magic (London 1972) 143; A. Dieterich, Abraxas (Leipzig 1891) 51 n.2 (a book unique in its importance for Jung: RB 349 n.93); APMM 229; IDPW140-6 (for the significance of Parmenides being called physikos) with the detailed bibliography on the word at 248. For Jung’s repeated, and emphatic, declaration that his own interests were purely



empirical as opposed to metaphysical-“! observe, I classify, I establish relations and sequences between the observed data” (]L ii 567)-see e.g. B. Hannah,]ung, his life and work (New York 1976) 78, S. Shamdasani,]M 99. No one in this connection stops to consider that, for centuries and millennia, those experts who specialized in empirical as opposed to metaphysical issues were traditionally the magicians (Mauss 139-44; APMM 227-32). 78

AnielaJaffe had initially wanted her biography of Jung to start with him explaining how much he valued repetition because “My thinking is circular; I circle around questions repeatedly. That method is congenial to me …”. But, as Shamdasani has noted, the passage was omitted and this means “something rather central to Jung’s self-understanding landed up on the cutting floor” (Spring 57, 1995, 124, referring to MDRCv). For the German original of Jung’s comments here on repetition and circularity see JP 2601275; and for Jung on the importance of “circular thinking” especially in Gnostic or alchemical tradition compare e.g. PR 96 n.59, AS 84 §§110-11, MC 102 §123 with n.54. 79

Repetition and circularity in the writings of Parmenides and Empedocles: Parmenides fr. 3 Diels = fr. 12 Gemelli Marciano; Empedocles frs . 24-5 Diels; J.P. Hershbell, Classicaljournal 63 (1968) 351-7; L. Ballew, Phronesis 19 (1974) 190-6; D.W. Graham, Classical quarterly 38 (1988) 305; G.M. De Rubeis, Studi classici e orientali 41 (1991) 87-93; ENM 334 with n.2, 358-9, 363, 370-1. On their underlying role and function see IDPW118-27, 246, ENM 379-80 with n.111, Reality 34-6; L. Gemelli Marciano, Ancient philosophy 28 (2008) 32-45 and PSIE 58-9, 71-103, 267-70; also M. Detienne andJ.-P.




Vernant, Les ruses de !’intelligence (Paris 1974) 51-6, 261-304 with J.M. Rahm, Deconstructing the western worldview (PhD thesis, University of Alaska Fairbanks 2014) 12, 26, 44, 62, 86, 118. For scholars’ brutish impatience with repetition as used, especially, by Parmenides cf. H. Diels, Parmenides: Lehrgedicht (Berlin 1897) 23-5 (“careless … nai:ve … amateurish”), A.P.D. Mourelatos, The route ofParmenides (2 nd ed., Las Vegas 2008) 35 (“almost puerile … awkward and pointless … expressive failure”); and on repetition’s altogether unhealthy associations with “archaic thought” see B.A. van Groningen, Mnemosyne 24 (1971) 179. Parmenides as a iatromantis: IDPWlOl-230; and for the healing power of a iatromantis’ words cf. e.g. euekea bax in at Empedocles fr. 112.11 Diels = fr. 157.16 Gemelli Marciano with APMM 220 n.7. One other aspect of repetition which may become familiar to readers of this book is the ancient habit of touching on a theme or subject very briefly to begin with, only to return to it later-each time filling in more of the missing details and helping to make the implicit just a little bit more explicit (Diels, Parmenides 22-4; ENM 371). 80

See especially his letter to Zwi Werblowsky dated 17 June 1952 (]L ii 69-71); also RB 2446 with n.142, 268-70, 302 n.211, AS 162-3 §199, PA 15-16 §18. With characteristic earthiness Jung emphasizes that real ambiguity involves far more than verbal games-note his comment in the R ed book on how easy it is to play at ambiguity, but how hard to live it (RB 2446)-although of course his warning has done nothing whatsoever to stop modern Jungians from engaging in the soulless mental gymnastics of post-structuralist “indeterminacy” (M. Saban in How and why w e still read Jung, ed. J. Kirsch and M. Stein, Hove 2013, 6-25).




Gerhard Adler, for example, cites the words Jung wrote to Werblowsky about ambiguity in June 1952 simply so that he can distinguish his attitude from the “clear, systematic, technical way of thinking” of Freud (Selected letters of C. G. Jung, Princeton 1984, vii-viii)-as if the significance ofJung’s writing style can only be grasped in the context of a relationship ended forty years earlier. Otherwise there is more than a little tension between Jung’s own emphasis on the crucial importance of ambiguity and the predictable rush by Jungians, especially in North America, to make his message as clear and plain and simple to digest as possible. No one stops to ponder the dangers posed by Edward Edinger’s altogether commendable efforts (“Many people compare his writings to those of Jung but find him much easier to read”) to strip Jung’s ideas of their ambiguities and transform them into something “more accessible to the general reader”, “easier to grasp” (T.B. Kirsch, 1he jungians, London 2000, 71, 101). And meanwhile Jung’s explicit statements about the vital need for ambiguity are conveniently forgotten by scholars so that they can turn back undisturbed to their task of criticizing him for the confused, murky, nebulous and unsystematic nature of his writing (so e.g. P. Bishop, Jung’s :Answer to job’, Hove 2002, 132; R. Main, 1he rupture oftime, Hove 2004; J. Mills, IJJS 5, 2013, 19-43). 82

For intentional ambiguity in Presocratic philosophy see e.g. P. Merlan, Kleine philosophische Schriften (Hildesheim 1976) 4-5; APMM and ENM 362-81; G . Costa in Linguistica e storia, ed. S. Marchesini and P. Poccetti (Pisa 2003) 73 and Ainigma e griphos, ed. S. Monda (Pisa 2012) 56-68. On unsolvable riddles, ambiguity and initiation into the mysteries of the underworld cf. IDPW; ENM 378. This is of course worlds apart from the mentality of most later Platonists, who




spent their time “ferreting out” the ambiguities of much older philosophers and claiming to be able to unravel them in the brilliant light of reasoning (J.M. Dillon and W. Polleichtner, Iamblichus of Chalcis: The letters, Atlanta 2009, 14-15,

70). ”Avoid ambiguity! … “: Aristotle, Rhetoric 1407a32- 7 (abbreviated); cf. H. Diels, Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte der antiken Philosophie (Hildesheim 1969) 177 with n.3, APMM 43-4 and ENM 370 n.85. The passage is, naturally, very valuable in showing that ambiguity as well as repetition was linked with circularity. For Empedocles as prophet and iatromantis see especially frs. 112.10-11 and 146 Diels = frs. 157.15-16 and 184 Gemelli Marciano withAPMM220 n.7, 344-5, 382-3, IDPW206-7 and ENM 343 with n.19, 380, plus e.g. M . Garani, Empedocles redivivus (New York 2007) 3-4. In deciding to question whether Empedocles considered himself a prophet, M.A. Flower (The seer in ancient Greece, Berkeley 2008, 81 n.23) inexplicably forgets to read the texts he himself refers to (mantosunai belong by definition to a mantis). Far more reliable guidance is offered by James Olney, who astutely bestows the title of iatromantis on both Empedocles and Jung: The rhizome and the flower (Berkeley 1980) 155-7. 83

On the quintessential role of ambiguity in Parmenides’ logic see Reality 15-306, 401, 565, 577 with ENM 369-81. Jung on “this petty reasoning mind, which cannot endure any paradoxes”: PA 16 §19. It should be remembered that Jung specifically praised the “ancients” for their mastery of ambiguity and multiple meanings (RBu 244 n.144, cf. RB 244 n.143). 84

Jung on the “so-called autobiography”: JL ii 550; D. Bair, Jung (Boston 2003) 606, 639-40; S. Shamdasani, ]SB 35. And for Jung’s protests at the “auntification” of his own words



see A.C. Elms, Uncovering lives (New York 1994) 51-70; Shamdasani, Spring 57 (1995) 129-31; Bair 611-15, 632-6. With regard to the still unpublished Protocols, Jung’s secretary and editor Aniela Jaffe would later go out of her way to deny that they correspond exactly or word for word to what he himself had said while being questioned and interviewed by her: see her letter of 26 November 1981 to William McGuire as well as her covering letter to the Library of Congress dated October 1983, both filed on open access with the library’s copy of the Protocols. But one has to realize that she had the strongest legal reasons for asserting at least some degree of creativity in producing them because-throughout her extended battle with Jung’s family to claim copyright of this original autobiographical material for herself-she had to maximize in every possible way the importance and extent of her own contributions while paradoxically minimizing the extent and importance of his. This is not even to mention the psychological difficulties she clearly ran into through her work on Jung’s biography, suffering a “gigantic inflation of the ego” and ending up as confused as “a hypnotized bunny” (Bair 599, 606). At any rate her later reminiscence, in the letter to McGuire, of how Jung had talked to her by following a kind of “Freudian line of associations” (cf. Shamdasani, Spring 57, 1995, 123) agrees down to the smallest detail with what one still finds in the Protocols; and there is Ximena de Angulo Roelli’s significant comment, too, that reading them for the first time was just like hearing Jung himself talk again. In fact, as she notes, his characteristic rhythms are so intact that Jaffe must have been extremely accurate and careful in preserving what he had said (letter to William McGuire dated 1 October 1979, held in the same files).





JP 147. For Jung’s method of free association here in

replying to Aniela Jaffe’s question, see her letter to William McGuire dated 26 November 1981 (Library of Congress); S. Shamdasani, Spring 57 (1995) 123-4. 86

Note, for example, how the enormous metallic volumes containing the entirety of Jung’s knowledge are presented to him not by the spirit of the depths-but by the spirit of his time. See Red book, folio i verso (RB 2306); and compare folio ii verso (RB 2336) on all learning and scholarly erudition belonging, by definition, to the spirit of this time. 87

For a fine recent discussion ofJung’s “ordering mind”, and its role in converting the chaotic contents of the unconscious into their opposite, see M. Stein, Minding the seif(Hove 2014) 6475. Stein’s study also has the virtue of showing how easy it can be to choose between opposing perspectives when explaining what happened to Jung during his period of descent into the underworld. Very humanly Stein describes how Jung “decided to follow what he called ‘the Spirit of the Depths”‘ (66), even though Jung himself explains that he never had any choice in the matter at all (cf. e.g. JP 145, 173). Or as he says right at the start of the Red book, he has “no choice” because the spirit of the depths “forces … possesses a greater power … subjugated … took away … robbed … forced . .. took … ” (RB 229b)-in just the same way that Parmenides emphasizes right at the start of his own account how he was irresistibly taken into the underworld, “carried … carried … carried . ..” (Parmenides fr. 1.1-4 Diels = fr. 8A.7-10 Gemelli Marciano; IDPW53-4, 119-20, ENM 370-9, Reality 26-7, 34-6, SW90, 103-7). All due respect and acknowledgement absolutely have to be



paid to Jung’s classic statement that “a real settlement with the unconscious demands a firmly opposed conscious standpoint” (TE 213 §342), although in reality there are various different levels involved. And when (e.g. JP 169) he warns against overvaluing the unconscious he is referring, very specifically, to the dangers of identifying with it or being devoured by it. 88

The crucial sentence here in the Protocols is “Das ist die Leidenschaft, die in diesem Feuer lag, dieser Lavastrom, der hat’s erzwungen und alles hat sich dann ganz natiirlicherweise eingeordnet” (JP 149; Jaffe had started typing the words “was ich dann” after “und alles” and before “hat sich dann”, but crossed them out). Jaffe has completely missed the point of this sentence in rewriting it for the published German version of Jung’s biography (“und die Leidenschaft, die in seinem Feuer lag, hat mein Leben umgeformt und angeordnet”, ETG 203), while the English version only carries her misunderstanding a step further: “and the heat of its fires reshaped my life” (MDR 190/199, cf. MDRC 145). Of course these are beautifully inspiring new-age sentiments; but they are not what Jung had meant, or said. Otherwise, comparing this page of the Protocols with the corresponding pages of the published German or English biographies offers a valuable insight into Aniela Jaffe’s working method. She inverts the order and sequence of more or less every single sentence, almost systematically reversing Jung’s own flow. Also-a major exhibit for anyone studying the arts of mistranslation-she replaces Jung’s mention of his initial wish to bring the seething material of the unconscious together into a coherent and orderly world (“in eine Welt einzuordnen”: clearly he meant “world” here in the ancient Greek sense of an ordered kosmos) with the altogether different idea that he had wanted to incorporate it




“into the contemporary picture of the world” (MDR 190/199; cf. JP 144, 169). And she personalizes what for Jung was a statement of principle, that out of the fiery lava emerges solid stone and then out of the solid stone it becomes possible to

create something, by replacing it with the simple declaration that he himself was able to work on the stone (this sentence has been struck out of the English text). With regard to Jung’s principle, and how it actually works for someone who stays conscious of all three phases during this process of creating something out of stone, we have his own account of what happened when he worked on carving the famous stone at Bollingen. First he became aware that the stone was looking at him; and from then on, in the inscriptions he carved, he just allowed the stone to speak (MDR 214-16/226-8; cf.JL ii 290: without thinking “I just brought into shape what I saw on its face”). On the other hand, regarding the destructive effects of Jaffe’s often arbitrary and chaotic method in reworking for publication the original statements made by Jung, see already S. Shamdasani,]AP 45 (2000) 465-6 and]SB 29; D . Bair,Jung (Boston 2003) 778 n.87. 89

“Ich wollte etwas leisten in meiner Wissenschaft und bin dann auf diesen Lavastrom gestossen, und der hat dann alles angeordnet” (JP 149); Jung expresses himself in more conventional language at]P 177, RB 190/360. The mistranslation is Shamdasani’s (]M 22), who ironically on the very same page-as often elsewhere-criticizes the English Collected works for the shoddy quality of their translations from Jung’s German. 9

°For Parmenides, illusions and deceptions, his role as prophet

along with the game of being human, and the manipulations



as well as mistranslations of his words, see Reality 9-306. Well worth mentioning in this context is the process by which the goddess’ original demand that Parmenides should yield, without a moment’s doubt or hesitation, to the irresistible force of her persuasion became corrupted into the philosophically far more acceptable command to “judge for yourself by reason”even though this corrupted version of the text is impossible to justify on any rational or philological grounds. But, as usual, scholars will still go to the most ridiculously irrational lengths in the effort to support their rationalistic misreadings. See R eality 117-44, 566-9; PSIE 84-90, 215-29; and for similar examples of specialists falsifying ancient texts and other evidence in the name of some spurious “rationality”, repeating their predecessors’ flagrant mistakes from century to century simply because they are unable to face what that ancient evidence was wanting to say, compare e.g. ENM 353-6, 399- 401. 91

JP 174 (12 October 1957). Shamdasani mentions this fear

of being torn apart, very misleadingly, right at the end of a paragraph about Jung’s “problem of what to do with Toni Wolff”-implying to any casual reader that it stemmed from the internal conflicts and tensions in their relationship (Spring 57, 1995, 125). But Jung makes it perfectly clear that what he is afraid of is of being torn apart by the overwhelming power of the many archetypal forces or voices, such as Philemon, who are rising up and speaking through him: in other words, the various beings who appear throughout the Red book. See especially JP 144-5 and 174-5 (Philemon); also Cary de Angulo’s draft letter to Jung dated 30 January 1924, recording how Jung told her he had been “very nearly torn asunder” in the battle between the world of physical reality and the world




of spirit (RB 2136; CEA). As for Toni Wolff: at this stage, with her “bird-fluttering”, she was little more than a helpless and disoriented bystander who was unable to guide or reassure him in any meaningful way (draft letter from de Angulo to

Jung dated 26 January 1924: RB 2136, CEA; cf.JP 171-4). Well worth noting, in this context, is Jung’s own association of lava imagery with insanity: ]Vi 594-5; compare also Virginia Woolfs “Madness is terrific I can assure you .. . and in its lava I still find most of the things I write about” (The letters of Virginia Woolfiv, ed. N. Nicolson, London 1978, 180; C. MacKenna in Insanity and divinity, ed. J. Gale, M. Robson and G. Rapsomatioti, Hove 2014, 72). 92

Aber es war eine damonische Kraft in mir”:JP 174. The sentence, as well as Jung’s immediate thought process, ends abruptly here. Once again, AnielaJaffe shows her true colours in the version she helps to cook up for the published biography (ETG 180; MDR 171/177). Naturally she leaves out any mention ofJung clinging to tables. From elsewhere she introduces comparisons to Nietzsche and Holderlin (cf. e.g.JP 149,227), shifting onto a literary and philosophical level his grimly raw account of the day-to-day struggle for sheer survival. Then she becomes Jung’s cheerleader-in-chief, replacing his statements of fear and terror with the bold assertion that he had never entertained a single doubt; has him affirm his “unswerving conviction that I was obeying a higher will” which offers a notable contrast to his own confession that everything for him had seemed impossible until, immersed in a horrific darkness, he realized his only hope was to obey a higher will and endure even though he didn’t understand one single thing (JP 171); and ends her paragraph with his dramatic celebration that he “had mastered the task”, “der ” •••



Bewaltigung der Aufgabe”, which is something Jung himself at the time considered unachievable (” die ich selber nicht bewaltigen konnte”, JP 149). But none of this comes even close to the way in which she inserts a comma right at the end of Jung’s crucial statement that “there was a daimonic power in me”, before making him go straight on to add “and from the beginning there was no doubt in my mind that I must find the meaning of what I was experiencing in these fantasies” (cf. JP 175)-demonstrating with her busy “improvements” that she didn’t have a clue what Jung had meant by daimonic power. In fine collegial spirit Gerhard Adler praises Aniela Jaffe for “her complete grasp” of Jung’s theoretical ideas (JL i and ii xviii); but predictably he says nothing about her far-from-complete grasp of the realities behind those ideas. 93

See for this MDR 181-2/189 and JP 226-7. Of course not many of us will want to consider in any depth what the snapshot of a man who has to recite his own address just to convince himself that he exists, or the fact of having a wife and five children, really tells us about his state of mind at the time. It will be noted that, although Jung refers throughout the whole passage to his family alone, three times this has been changed by his editors and publishers to “my family and my professional work” or “my family and my profession”. Aside from that, calling his family a “joyful reality” in the English version of his biography (MDR 182/189, repeated by Shamdasani: Lament ofthe dead, New York 2013, 72) is not only rather too strong a translation of Jung’s own “begliickende Reali tat” but is hardly a true description of his family life at the time (NL 100-1, 110). 94

This explanatory stance is best exemplified nowadays by the discussion held between Sonu Shamdasani and James




Hillman: L ament ofthe dead (New York 2013) 69-72. Of course it has been aided immensely by the heroic spin Aniela Jaffe introduced into the published biography. 95

See for example Jung’s letter to Michael Fordham dated 18 April 1946 and published now in]SB 48-9. 96

The classic definitions of daimonios offered by S. Tromp de Ruiter are still a good starting-point for understanding the daimonic in Homer: De vocis quae est ‘Daimon’ apud Homerum significatione atque usu (Amsterdam 1918) 169 (“whoever is led or carried along by some divine or numinous power … and whose character and abilities exceed the limits of humanity due to the working of an occult power”), 169 n.1 (“only as a result of divine influence”; ‘”Daimonic’, ever since the time of Homer, means any individual who seems to draw on an inexplicable source and every influence which is experienced as superhuman”), 171 (“not of one’s own will but due to a certain hidden power”). The daimonic in Parmenides: 0 . Gilbert, Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie 20 (1907) 25-45 with ENM 370-1. In Empedocles: M. Detienne, La notion de ‘dai”mon’ dans le pythagorisme ancien (Paris 1963) with W. Burkert, Gnomon 36 (1964) 563-7; L. Gemelli Marciano, Aevum antiquum 1 (2001) 205- 35; R eality 358-65. In Aristotle: P.J. van der Eijk, Medicine and philosophy in classical antiquity (Cambridge 2005) 145 n.27 (“The ‘daemonic’ … consists in the fact that it escapes rational control”), 191- 2 (“‘beyond human control’, the opposite, so to speak, of’human’”), 247 n.30. In Freud: D. Kalsched, 7he inner world oftrauma (Hove 1996). For the daimonic in Jung see RB 2646 (the daimonic lies beyond all the pretty appearances of our visible world), JV i 257, JL i 344 (defining it as “an unconscious content of seemingly overwhelming power” linked



to “possession”) and ii 487 (“compelling”; ever since “ancient times” it has been understood that “no amount of reason can conjure” it magically away), 531-2 (“To hell with the Egoworld!”), MDR 328/356 (“There was a daimon in me … it overpowered me”) and 387-9 = RB 352-3. On the daimonic inheritance, the mysterious nature that Jung inherited from his mother in all its primordial ruthlessness and power, see MDR 59-60/50 with J. Sherry, Carl Gustav Jung: avant-garde conservative (New York 2010) 19; and contrast James Hillman’s predictably kitsch rendering of Jung’s “daimonic inheritance” for the American spirit of our time (Sphin x 1, 1988, 9-19). 97

Compare especially MC 350 §493, where Jung cites the Latin version of the saying-natura naturam vincit-in describing the primordial “conflict of opposites” that acts itself out when the adept is “drawn involuntarily into the drama” of the unconscious as the direct result of a katabasis, or descent into the underworld. See also ibid. 29 n.152, 79 §86, 264 n.23; AS 77 §102, 161 §198, 321 §426; PPT 262 §469; ACU 130 §234; Aion 159 §244. Basic references for the original Greek saying are Physici et medici graeci minores, ed. I.L. Ideler ii (Berlin 1842) 214.15-215.14; Collection des anciens alchimistes grecs, ed. M. Berthelot (Texte grec, Paris 1887-88) 20.6, 43.201, 57.14-15; H. Diels, Antike Technik (2 nd ed., Leipzig 1920) 131 and Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, ed. Diels and W. Kranz, ii (6 th ed., Berlin 1952) 219.20-1; J. Bidez and F. Cumont, Les mages hellenises (Paris 1938) i 203-4, 244-6, ii 313-21; A.-J. Festugiere, La revelation d’Hermes Trismegiste i (2 nd ed., Paris 1950) 228-37, 433-4; J.P. Hershbell, Ambix 34 (1987) 12-14 = Alchemy and early modern chemistry, ed. A.G. Debus (London 2004) 70-2; M. Martelli, 1he ‘four books’ ofpseudo-Democritus (Leeds 2013).





See e.g. Jung’s comments to Miguel Serrano in May 1959 about someone who “worked with me for a while, but he was unable to follow through to the end. The path is very difficult … ” (C. G. Jung and H ermann Hesse, London 1966, 61); or to Esther Harding in May 1960, “People may have to go back to the Church when they reach a certain stage of analysis. Individuation is only for the few … ” (Quadrant 8/2, Winter 1975, 17). “The strongest and best … the maternal abyss”: TE 169-70 §261 = 287 §477. 99

With the “damonische Kraft” at]P 174 compare especially the “urspriinglichen und darum damonisch wirkenden Kraft” of the medieval magician, Psychologische Typen (17 th ed., Solothurn 1994) 197 §316; cf. 219 §347 and 239 §383 (“als damonischer Machte … als Zauber, als mit magischer Kraft geladen”). For the intimate connection between the “daimonic” and magic see also RB 2406; TE 96-7 §§153-5;JL ii 82. The idea of a special magical, or non-human, power accessible to certain humans is one of the main themes that drew Jung to ancient Gnosticism: note e.g. his deliberate underlining of the word “Kraft” in the copy he owned of Hans Leisegang’s Die Gnosis, at the point where Leisegang is explaining the extraordinary powers of Simon Magus (Leipzig 1924, 61). And note, too, Jung’s dramatic description of the magician as a being of pure mystery who is “superior in strength to all men” (“an Starke allen Mannern iiberlegen”): RB 328-9. Of course the mistake of rendering “damonische Kraft” as “demonic strength” in the published English version of his biography (MDR 171/177: contrast the original and more accurate rendering at MDRC 120) is, considering all the modern nuances of the word “demonic”, an even worse distortion of what Jung had meant by these words; but the verbal landscape



has already been so scarred and disfigured here that a bit more damage makes little difference. 10

°C. G. Jung and Hermann Hesse (London 1966) 82, 61, 64.



See Walter O dajnyk’s finely perceptive comments on howin service to the spirit of the depths and also in a movement directly parallel to the traditional withdrawal of mystics into monasteries or deserts-Jung himself “would have to withdraw into the desert, into a monastery. In time, Jung’s need for a withdrawal from the world so as to nurture the terrible secret he carried was realized with the construction of his hermitage at Bollingen” (PP 53, 2010, 450-1). It will be noted, too, that the highly unusual living arrangements which were to make such a powerful impression on Jung as a child when he visited the hermitage of the famous Swiss mystic Brother Klaus or Nicholas of Flue were also the first and most obvious inspiration for the living arrangements he would later recreate at Bollingen. What a good idea, Jung was already thinking as a young boy, to have one’s family in one house and live the life of a saintly hermit in another building which would be somewhat distant but not too far away-“with a pile of books, and a table for writing, and an open fire . ..” (ETG 84; cf. MDR 84-5/78-

9). 2

Bollingen as Jung’s “tiny private psycho-Disneyland”: Wolfgang Giegerich,JJTP6/1 (2004) 48, reiterated years later



by his claim that in reality Bollingen for Jung was nothing but a false “simulation” or “cloud-cuckoo-land” (IJJS 4, 2012, 14-15). For the hollowness of Giegerich’s theorizing see, aside from his own writings, Sophia Heller’s 1he absence of myth (Albany 2006); and for a pithy reply to Giegerich, Murray Stein’s comments in Initiation, ed. T. Kirsch, V.B. Rutter and T. Singer (Hove 2007) 87-91. There are few greater ironies than Giegerich’s own failure to realize that the imaginary “logic” on which he bases his entire posturing-the narrative of an evolutionary push from mythos into logos, from myth into rationality-is itself an outdated myth which has become completely obsolete. See e.g. APMM with G.W. Most in From myth to reason?, ed. R. Buxton (Oxford 1999) 25-47. “The ten thousand worthless things … “: Empedocles fr. 110.6-7 Diels = fr. 156.8-9 Gemelli Marciano; ENM 353. 3

“Too many people live with an image … ” and “fantasy relationships”: Gerhard Adler inJSB 65. Only after speaking at Eranos did I come across my notebook from 1985 containing the full details exactly as I had recorded them. Needless to say, in describing what happened on that night I have absolutely no intention of condoning-let alone encouraging-trespassers. Even Jung himself had more than enough trouble with unwanted visitors at Bollingen while he was still alive (D. Bair, Jung, Boston 2003, 324). But it seems that whoever, or whatever, wanted me there had some very different concerns.

JP 308-9. The published biography does allow Jung to mention twice, in passing, the dream image of a knight (MDR 160-1/164-5, 167/172-3). But here, in the unpublished Protocols, he brings both of those dream occurrences together during the course of an extended commentary on that very same dream about his search for the Grail which-




uncoincidentally-we soon will come to. In the process of doing so, he explains that this dream figure of the knight represents his own ancient forefather or ancestor; describes how the Grail is a reward for living the life of a true knight and how one can only set off in quest of the Grail after inwardly being accepted as abiding by the rules for becoming a knight; and emphasizes in no uncertain terms that the mysterious gift of the Grail received by a knight is the deepest secret possible for a human which is the true secret, or mystery, of individuation. Neither is there anything coincidental about the fact that the archetypal figure of the knight, along with the equally archetypal rules of chivalry bound up with traditions surrounding the Grail, were also of the most fundamental importance for Henry Corbin in both his life and his work. See e.g. Face de Dieu,foce de l’homme (Paris 1983) 31, 208-31; EJ39 (1970) 87 with nn.32-3, 92, 140; ibid., 40 (1971) 311-56 with IDPW2l7-l9; EIIiv 178, 390-460; Corbin and M. Sarraf, Traitis des compagnonschevaliers (Tehran 1973); Cahiers de l’Universiti Saint Jean de Jerusalem l (1974) 8-9, 25-51 with R. de Chateaubriant, ibid. 13-23, 5 (1978) 166-9, and C. Jambet, ibid. 10 (1983) 49-67; R. Bosnak, SFJI7/l (Winter 1987) 26. As a matter of fact one could say that the entire encounter and friendship between Corbin and Jung was governed by their ancestral values of chivalry, about which most people nowadays who try to discuss Jung’s relationship with Corbin sadly no longer have the remotest understanding. 5

For the inscription Quaero quod impossibile at Bollingen see the unique report by Fowler McCormick in Carl Gustav Jung, 1875-1961: a memorial meeting (New York 1962) 13, who rightly calls attention to its “challenging words”; also MH 1:16:05-22. About the forgotten art of working with the impossible I already wrote a little treatise several years ago



(SW). Interestingly, the identical Latin saying is quoted by Victor White in a letter he wrote to Jung during June 1948 (JW 125). White’s mention here of this very same saying, which is unattested anywhere in classical Latin literature, implies that he had come face to face with the carved inscription during one of his earliest visits-he was first invited in 1946-to Jung’s retreat at Bollingen. There is an obvious and fundamental contrast between “I seek the impossible” and the famous statement Credo quia impossibile, “l believe because it’s impossible”, often attributed to Tertullian although in fact just a popular paraphrase of Tertullian’s own words at On the flesh of Christ 5.4. This is why White in his letter quotes the two Latin sayings together, Credo quia impossibile as summarizing the attitude of Pistis or belief and Quaero quod impossibile as embodying the attitude of Gnosis or the thirst for direct knowledge. This, also, is why Father White has just stated in the same paragraph how profoundly moved he was by Jung’s definition of his own lifework as “essentially an attempt to understand what others apparently can believe” (JW 125; cf. ibid. 119 = JL i 502 and e.g. PA 15-17 §§18-19). In his eyes Jung would always be, whether for better or worse, a perfect spokesperson for the way of the Gnostic. 6

As for what lies behind the Latin saying that Jung chose to inscribe above his fireplace at Bollingen, I am deeply grateful to Jung’s grandson Ulrich Hoerni who has pointed me to its obvious source of inspiration. In Goethe’s play, Faust is encouraged by the prophet Manto to descend into the underworld to meet Persephone herself with these words: “Den lieb’ ich, der Unmogliches begehrt”, “Him I love, who seeks the impossible” (Faust 2.7488; these words have, indeed, been specially underlined by Jung in his personal reading copy of Faust: Goethes Faust, ed. H .G. Graf, Leipzig 1913,



353). Manto, daughter of Asclepius and greatest of healerprophets, then continues (and Jung has marked these words, too, in his text): “Enter, bold spirit! Joy will be yours! The dark passage leads to Persephone who … lurks waiting for

the secret, forbidden greeting. Here I once smuggled Orpheus in …”. Meanwhile, just outside the tower, the bottom of the inscription I had been leaning against directly quotes Homer’s words about being led by Hermes past the gates of the sun and the land of dreams into the underworld (Odyssey 24.12). Even the lake beside which Jung built his tower was intimately associated, in his mind, with the Homeric portrayal of journeying into the world of the dead (ETG 103-4); he was perfectly explicit about the direct connections between the Bollingen tower itself and the world of the dead (MDR 213-24/225-37: cf. T. Ziolkowski, The view from the tower, Princeton 1998, 144); and just before he died he dreamed that he was going to live in an “other”, otherworldly, Bollingen (B. Hannah,]ung, his lift and work, New York 1976, 344). I have devoted a book (APMM; cf. IDPW) to the ancient Greek idea of sacred places as points of access to the underworld. 7

“No one, not even those closest to him …”: Cary Baynes in ]SB 64; for the sentiment cf. 39-42. Just how intimate and important a role Cary Baynes had played as Jung’s confidante is shown by the ease with which he spoke to her about things his own lover and supposed source of inspiration, Toni Wolff, was unable or unwilling to understand (draft letter from Cary de Angulo to Jung dated 26 January 1924, CEA; cf. ibid., 13 February 1924; RB 213-14). On Jung as not able even to understand himself because he remained a total mystery to himself, see especially the famous closing words in his published biography: MDR 329-30/358-9. The frequent remarks he makes, whenever he has an opportunity, about



the abysmal inferiority of his “dull conscious mind” (letter to Henry Murray dated 2 May 1925, Papers of Henry A. Murray, Harvard University Archives; cf. ]L i 42, RB 215a) are comments that should always be taken seriously. 8

For Jung’s axiomatic concern with the individual see e.g. TE 3-5; CT 148-9 §315 and 153-4 §§326-9 with ibid. 247-305 = ‘Ihe undiscovered seif(London 1958); SL 609 §1392 with 261 §599;]L ii 461-2; and the programmatic statement about his whole life being devoted to the goal of finding a way to penetrate the “secret of the personality” (MDR 1971206,]P 14). Wolfgang Giegerich comments on some of these passages but, with his brittle rationalism, draws the strangest conclusions UJTP 6/l, 2004, 39-40). 9

For some general observations see Aniela Jaffe, From the life and work of C.G. Jung (2 nd ed., Einsiedeln 1989) 132-3; NL 120-2, 157-8; P. Pietikainen, Alchemists ofhuman nature (London 2007) 124-5. For Emma Jung’s protest to her husband, that “you are not interested in anybody unless they exhibit archetypes”, see M . Fordham, ‘Ihe making ofan analyst (London 1993) 117; W. Colman,]AP47 (2002) 493. And for Jung’s own comments on the matter see especially MDR 3289/356-8; also]L i 49,]Vi 7. “The moment I’d seen through them .. .”: ETG 359, cf. MDR 3281357.

°For Jung on “the spiritual and moral darkness of State


absolutism” see especially ‘Ihe undiscovered self (London 1958) 2 = CT 247 §488; and R. Main, ‘Ihe rupture oftime (Hove 2004) 120, who takes note of Jung’s concern that the most vulnerable country in this regard is America. On Lucifer as “the father of lies .. .” see AS 250 §303 and, for Jung’s intense sensitivity-




unmatched by many supposedly conscious people nowadays-to the powers of propaganda or mass suggestion, SL 605 §1386, 609-10 §§1392-3,JM 340-4. 11

On the Red book as a template for Jung’s developed understanding of “individuation” see Shamdasani, RB 2076; ]AP 55 (2010) 38-9; JM 322; and for some very brief comments on the history of the word cf. ibid. 306 n.41 with R. Noll, 7hejung cult (2 nd ed., New York 1997) 367 n.42. On the absolutely central significance of the individuation process in Jung’s later work see MDR 200/209;JAP 57 (2012) 366-7. For individuation as an entirely natural process that may require a kind of consciousness but often does not, see e.g. JS 210-12 and JL ii 583 = ]AP 46 (2001) 482; these statements by Jung about the total naturalness of the process are something that a conscientious modern Jungian can, of course, hardly be expected to accept (B. Stephens, ibid. 482-3). “Individuation is not that you become an ego … “: KY 39-40. On that “which is not the ego” cf. e.g. JL ii 258-9, and for Jung’s sharp distinction between individuation and individualism see especially TE 173-4 §§267-8; PPT 108 §227 (on extreme individualism as “essentially no more than a morbid reaction against an equally futile collectivism”). James Hillman once again reveals his ostentatious flair for trivializing Jung when he defines individuation as “the realization of innate idiosyncrasy … It appears phenomenally, in any odd moment of differentness” (Sphinx 1, 1988, 14). For the utter objectivity-as well as impersonality-of the individuated state according to Jung see MDR 270-7/289-98, together with Paul Bishop’s comments on the close correlation in Jung’s mind between objectivity and eternity (Car/Jung, London 2014, 187-8). And as for why the word “self” happens to be spelled with a small or lower-case



“s” in the standard English editions of Jung, it can be helpful to recall the simple explanation that “lower case is used in the Collected Works to avoid the appearance of esotericism” (A. Samuels, Jung and the post-Jungians, London 1985, 73). 12

Individuation as the inner process of dying “before surrendering oneself .. .”:JP 309 (” … bevor man sich dem Unpersonlichen iiberlasst”). For the terminology of surrender, or “sich iiberlassen”, in German mystical literature see e.g. Semantik der Gelassenheit, ed. B. Hasebrink, S. Bernhardt and I. Friih (Gottingen 2012); Jung’s use of it here raises major doubts about the truth of any blanket statement to the effect that “the mystic’s unconditional and permanent surrender of his whole being, even his consciousness, to God, cannot be identified with the individuation process” (L. Schlamm, European journal ofpsychotherapy and counselling 9, 2007, 412 n.3). But it also raises additional questions about the validity of attempts to differentiate categorically between the process of individuation and mystical processes in general. On this important issue see now F. Bower,JAP 44 (1999) 567-9; Schlamm, Harvest 46/2 (2000) 108-28 and 52/1 (2006) 7-37; J.M. Spiegelman, PP 52 (2009) 260; J.P. Dourley,]ung and his mystics (Hove 2014); and note Jung’s clear tendency to model the individuation process on mystical traditions while also formulating it, wherever possible, as a further refinement of spiritual norms (e.g. SD 225-6 §431, PPT 234 §448: for surrender cf. 82 §§186-7; and compare S. Shamdasani’s comment that “Individuation only means something in a soteriological context”,]] 4/1, 2010, 172). On Jungian analysis as preparing to die see RB 266-7, 273-5; the letter from Jung to Cary Baynes dated 2 November 1945 (CEA; c£ Shamdasani, Quadrant 3811, 2008, 23-4); Spring (1970) 178 = JS 360; and note, too, Jung’s pithy portrayal of



the individuation process as what happens to a person when “outwardly he plunges into solitude, but inwardly into hell” (SL 453 §1103). Unfortunately there are scholars now who enjoy comparing such statements by Jung with Pierre Hadot’s research into the tired theme of philosophy as preparation for death among ancient Platonic and post-Platonic intellectuals (cf. e.g. R. Madera, Spring 92, 2015, 235-54). But what Jung found himself involved in has very little, if anything, to do with the trivializations and rationalizations by later Greek or Roman philosophers that Hadot has done such a skilful job of popularizing: on Hadot’s own obsession with rationalizing and “rational control” see SWlll, 171. The experience of dying before one dies according to Parmenides, Empedocles and ancient mysteries: IDPW 61-76; Reality 29-43. 13

JP 308-9. When Jung calls individuation a “mystery”, he

also intends this word to be understood in the much stronger and more literal sense that the individuation process is a reenactment of ancient initiation mysteries (cf. e.g. SL 486 §1162,JL i 141). His extended use of the Grail mythology here, just a few years before he died, in explaining the real meaning of individuation gives the lie to the very rational and unfortunately very fashionable idea nowadays that Jung saw his evolutionary task as being to leave the antiquated world of mythology behind so he could introduce people instead to a scientific or “post-mythic” world of psychology. On the contrary: his psychological work was aimed specifically at renewing forgotten myths and mysteries by restoring them, as a true scientist, to life. Note also his statement in 1934 that “individuation is now our mythology … It is a great mystery .. . we don’t know what it is .. .” (NZ i 208; cf. P. Pietikainen, Alchemists ofhuman nature, London 2007, 127). In the sharpest



contrast to contemporary Jungians, who are often inclined to present individuation as a “system” which “is commonly nurtured in a consulting room in the presence of a therapist” (J. Weldon, Platonic Jung, Asheville 2017, 184), Jung himself emphasized that by no means does Jungian therapy lead to individuation except in the remote sense of being just one small step along the way towards the distant and elusive goal of a potential individuation (IL ii 469). On the reality of individuation as only for the very few see-aside from JP 308-9, spoken by Jung in 1958-SL 453 §1099 (written in 1916) with R. Noll, 1heJung cult (2 nd ed., New York 1997) 249; M. Serrano, C. G. Jung and Hermann Hesse (London 1966) 61 (spoken by Jung in 1959); M.E. Harding, Quadrant 8/2 (Winter 1975) 17 (spoken by him in 1960). In the 1940s Jung drew the quite logical conclusion that the vast majority of people are beyond being helped directly, and can only be influenced at all by a handful of individuated leaders who are not afraid to exert complete control through the power of “suggestibility” (SL 609-10 §§1392-3, cf. CT 221 §451). Pietikainen (Utopian studies 12/1, 2001, 48-9) is quite right to compare this scenario with the familiar Platonic, and ultimately Pythagorean, notion of philosopher-kings; but he is altogether wrong in suggesting that these leaders’ purpose would be to “divine the psychological processes in the deep recesses of the human mind and explain to other, less privileged individuals what is wrong with them and how to right the wrong and to become true personalities”. On the contrary: their role is not to deepen people’s understanding or even change their attitudes, but simply to change their behaviour by exploiting their gullibility (SL 610 §§1393). That, as Empedocles would say, is as much as can be humanly accomplished (ENM 360-9; Reality 326-37).




On the democratizing of individuation see A. Samuels’ dry analysis,jung and the post-]ungians (London 1985) 110-13. The words “a Christification of many” occur inside the crucial final paragraph of Jung’s Answer to Job but, if they are to be understood, they have to be read in their proper context: “The indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the third Divine Person, in man, brings about a Christification of many, and the question then arises whether these many are all complete God-men. Such a transformation would lead to insufferable collisions between them, to say nothing of the unavoidable inflation to which the ordinary mortal, who is not freed from original sin, would instantly succumb …” (Answer to job, London 1954, 180; cf. PR 470 §758). In other words the “Christification of many” is logical enough as a theoretical or potential next step for humanity, if individual humans would only take on themselves the enormous burdens and sufferings involved without any trace of self-deception (RB 234b), but practically is unrealizable. As Paul Bishop sums the situation up: “From this conclusion, as logical as it might seem, Jung retreats, for various reasons. How would they all get on? Very badly … What would the consequences for each of them, as an individual, be? Equally devastating … Here-in the very final paragraph of his Answer to ]ob-Jung himself shifted the moment of total integration from the here-and-now into the Gnostic wastes of infinite time” (Jung’s :Answer to job’, Hove 2002, 161-2). But for the famous American Jungian Edward Edinger, and any number of later writers who have been fooled by him, these were all irrelevant niceties to be dispensed with. He abruptly stops quoting Jung at the catchy “Christification of many”, forgets about the rest, and declares: “That is the relevant phrase ‘… the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the third divine person in man, brings about a Christification of many’ . .. That is what



is meant by the imagery of the incarnation of God in many through the agency of the Holy Ghost” (PP 25, 1991, 44). As for pinning down the source of such evangelical strategies and infectious zeal, it may help to consider that Edinger’s parents were both Jehovah’s Witnesses (]JTP 1/1, 1999, 58; PP 39, 1999, 42). John Dourley also shows the irresistibility of such interpretative tactics when he quotes Jung’s rough sketch of how the ancient gods turned into one god, then the god became man-and now “even the God-man seems to have descended from his throne and to be dissolving himself in ordinary people”. Dourley swiftly announces that this means humanity itself is now “encouraged by the unconscious” to “pursue the emergence of its native divinity into consciousness”, but somehow forgets to mention what Jung went on to say: “in our day even the God-man seems to have descended from his throne and to be dissolving himself in ordinary people. That, no doubt, is the reason why his seat is empty. Instead, modern man suffers from a hubris of consciousness that borders on the pathological. This psychic state in individuals corresponds to what, on a larger scale, is the hypertrophy and totalitarian pretensions of the ideal State … ” (Psychologie und Religion, 4 th ed., Zurich 1962, 99, cf. PR 84 §141; Dourley in Psychology and religion at the millennium and beyond, ed. J.M. Spiegelman, Tempe 1998, 24). 15

For the comment about “a psychology that purports to offer to all … ” see M. Saban in How and why we still readJung, ed. J. Kirsch and M. Stein (Hove 2013) 10. On the razor-sharp path which will cut you to pieces and is so full of suffering that only very few are capable of walking it, see TE 239 §401 where Jung makes sure to quote the biblical and ancient initiatory saying “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14; cf.



Plato, Phaedo 69c). On the inadequacy of all theories, routine rules or recipes cf. e.g. SL 493 §1172; C.G. Jung, Entretiens (Paris 2010) 173;JPB27 (13 June 1958). For the methodology and techniques of ancient Hermetic teachers see P. Kingsley,

Parabola 2211 (Spring 1997) 21-5 and in PJB 17-40. Jung was very conscious of the debt owed by his theory of individuation to “Hermetic” philosophy in the broadest sense of the word (SL 486 §1162, cf. PR 468 §755). 16

Hermetic immortalization and deification: J.-P. Mahe, Vigiliae Christianae 45 (1991) 347-75; M.D. Litwa, Becoming divine (Eugene 2013) 94-101. For individuation as life in God see SL 719 §1624, where Jung can still be heard crying out that “Individuation is the life in God” because a person “is obviously not whole without God” and this wholeness is the only conceivable meaning of either divine incarnation or individuation. Individuation as deification: “Whoever does not follow the principium individuationis to its end does not become a god, because he is not able to endure the singleness” (BB v 168 = RBu 371b, presented by Jung as a commentary on John 10:34). For immortality see e.g. IJP 154 (“when we obtain a complete realization of self, there comes with it the feeling of immortality .. . a feeling of eternity on this earth”); G. Lachman,Jung the mystic (New York 2010) 145. As for the “certainty of immortality” that comes from being initiated into the “mystery of deification”, one of the most telling passages is Jung’s autobiographical account of what happened in December 1913 when he experienced being transformed into the lionheaded god Aion of the ancient Mithraic mysteries. See IJP 103-7; RB 252; R. Noll, Spring 53 (1994) 12-60 and 7hejung cult (2 nd ed., New York 1997) 209-15; M. Stein, Transformation (College Station 1998) 43-6 and in Initiation, ed. T . Kirsch,



V.B. Rutter and T. Singer (Hove 2007) 91-4 (although Stein’s attempt to distinguish between “deliberate” and “spontaneous” initiation has little basis in fact); C. MacKenna in Insanity and divinity, ed. J. Gale, M. Robson and G. Rapsomatioti (Hove 2014) 64-6. Many things could be said about the blatantly false claim that this “mystery of deification” and the resulting “certainty of immortality” were, according to Jung’s account at IJP 106, only experienced by ancient initiates and not by Jung himself (A. Stevens,]AP 42, 1997, 673) but none of them is polite; and the rational insistence on distinguishing in such a context between “actual transformation” and merely “symbolic” experience (L. Corbett,]] 513, 2011, 73) reveals, as we will see, a complete misunderstanding of what Jung meant by symbolic reality. There are two points about this experience of deification that need mentioning here. First, Cary de Angulo’s visualization of Jung as a Mithraic priest belonging to the “highest rank of all” (draft letter to Jung dated 13 November 1923: CEA) demonstrates how very alive and potent this seminal experience of Jung’s still was for those around him ten years later. Second, years before the Red book’s publication, Gilles Qyispel had already concluded that Jung must have been familiar with one crucial passage in a major work by Robert Eisler which identifies this same lionheaded god as the Orphic god Phanes-who just so happens to overshadow Jung’s Red book as well as Black books. See R. Eisler, Weltenmantel und Himmelszelt (Munich 1910) ii 398-405 with Orphicorum et Orphicis similium testimonia etfragmenta i, ed. A. Bernabe (Munich 2004) 90; G. Qyispel in Gnosis, ed. B. Aland (Gottingen 1978) 497-507 = his Gnostica, judaica, Catholica (Leiden 2008) 248-60; RB 113, 301-2 n.211 “… Phanes is Jung’s God …”, 354-5 n.125, 364. And Qyispel was right: the precise start of that very same passage he had guessed at is still carefully indicated, with a silk bookmark, inside Jung’s own



personal copy of the book by Eisler. As far as Jung’s library is concerned, it also is worth noting that the marginal markings in his books show how fascinated he was by the ancient Greek phenomenon of immortalization and deification; he was

particularly struck by Empedocles’ own declaration that he had become a god (H. Leisegang, Die Gnosis, Leipzig 1924, 84; compare his copies of A. Dieterich, Eine Mithrasliturgie, 2 nd ed., Leipzig 1910, 5; R. Reitzenstein, Die hellenistischen Mysterienreligionen, Leipzig 1910, 19-20, 25, 44-5; W. Scott, Hermetica i, Oxford 1924, 239-49). And as for becoming a god, there is no reason whatever to question the authenticity of a report involving the prominent Jungian Jolande Jacobi (NL 165; ]BA): “On one occasion she had a dream in which Jung appeared to her as a God-figure. On telling him the dream, he replied, ‘So now you know who I am!”‘ 17

For example Sonu Shamdasani falls straight into this trap when he asserts that, if Jung ever mentions the lived feeling of immortality, he of course doesn’t mean immortality in any “literal” sense and is discounting the whole phenomenon as nothing but a projection from the unconscious (Cultfictions, London 1998, 52; contrast e.g. IJP 153-4). This distorted rationalization by Shamdasani of Jung’s ideas would have made even his mentor, Michael Fordham, blush with shame. In fact he is demonstrating exactly what, according to Jung himself, happens when intellectuals impose their “overvalued reason” on a mystery like the experience of immortality-and leave everyone “pauperized” as a result (MDR 280/301-2). On Jung’s own disdain for reductive attempts at explaining psychological phenomena in terms of “nothing but”, cf. e.g. C. G. Jung: psychological reflections, ed. J. Jacobi (2 nd ed., Princeton 1970) 11, 16-17, 93, 121, 201.



“Psyc h o1ogy 1s · concerne d …”, “·mner v1s10n . . “, and “we cannot understand a thing … “: PA 13-14 §§14-15. Unfortunately Shamdasani (Cult.fictions, London 1998, 29) cites Jung’s firm opposition to “the construction of new religious truths” without explaining the other half of his equation: the need to help people rediscover the act of seeing by restoring their inner vision. On the crucial importance of learning simply to see without imitating or identifying with what one sees, see RB 251a. By temperament Jung was, of course, completely hostile to the construction of new religious truths-but that’s only because his own work lay in the reincarnation of ancient religious truths (Ff 484 §269J, 29 August 1911; RB 311). 18


For an introduction to Christ as symbol of the self see e.g. Aion 36-71 §§68-126. An essential element of symbols is, for Jung, their mystical openness to the mysterious and the unknown (PT474-6 §§815-19, QPT140-1). They are always more, not less, than any physical object or concept they correspond to: are “pregnant” with a special healing and redeeming value which unifies both conscious and unconscious, rational and irrational (PT 474-7 §§816-20, CT 18 §24, AS 28 §44, Man and his symbols, New York 1964, 20-1, 55; and compare the exact definition of a symbol at RB 311a). On one level the Red book, and Jung’s work in its entirety, can be seen as a passionate protest against the view that symbols are less real than physical entities-even ourselves. See especially RB 233-4 (the physical reality of Jung and of those he loves is no more than a symbol of their souls), 236 (symbols predate and outlive our physical world), 246-9 (Elijah humorously insists that he and any other figures Jung meets in the unconscious are no less real than Jung is, and can only be called symbols if one agrees to call every physical person a symbol; this is completely misunderstood as “Jung’s ambivalence about symbolic versus




literal reality” by A. Collins and E. Molchanov, Spring 90, 2013, 68 n.45), 250a (the symbol as infallible lord and master), 291a (symbols are the only access to truth), 304a (only symbols have power to save from the worst of acts or deeds), 310-11, 3396. Paul Bishop has pointed to the relevance for Jungian psychology of Goethe’s ideas about symbolism, especially his paradoxical insistence that a symbol “is the thing without

being the thing, and yet it is the thing” (Goethes Werke, Erste Abtheilung, xlix/1, Weimar 1898, 142.7-8; Bishop in Morphologie und Moderne, ed. J. Maatsch, Berlin 2014, 160-1). But at the same time, Jung was very familiar with ancient resonances of the word symbolon (see e.g. MDR 309/335: for some of those resonances compareAPMM238, 289-90, 3013); and that only serves to intensify the similarities between the refusal of most Jung scholars to take his ideas about symbolism seriously and scholars’ almost universal refusal to take those beings who appear to Parmenides, during his descent into the underworld, as anything more than simple “allegories” or metaphors. On this major problem in the study of Parmenides see R eality 29, 273-4, 583, L. Gemelli Marciano, Ancient philosophy 28 (2008) 21-7, PSIE 54-8, 257 n.92; for Jung’s own explicit differentiation of symbols from mere allegories see PT 474 §815, ST77 §114, 222 §329; and on intellectuals’ “secret fear” of real symbols because of their living power compare J. Jacobi’s comment, Complex, archetype, sy mbol in thepsychology of C.G.Jung (London 1959) 87-8. Unfortunately, in this respect many practising Jungians nowadays fall headlong into the category of fearful intellectuals. 20

“An inner experience, an assimilation of Christ …” and “the ‘Christ within”‘: A ion 183 §§285-6. The “immediate and living presence” as opposed to “the idea of the historical Christ”: ibid. 68 §123. The inescapably mystical nature of understanding



Christ as symbol of the self is acknowledged with all due clarity by Jung at PA 355 §452-where the recognition of oneself “as the equivalent of Christ”, and of “Christ as a symbol of the self”, is described by him as such a “tremendous conclusion” that even westerners acquainted on a strictly intellectual level with “the spirit of the Upanishads” or other eastern mystical ideas stand no real chance of understanding it. And to remove any possible ambiguity or doubt he takes great care to situate this same reality that he himself refers to as “the ‘Christ within”‘ (Aion 183 §285) in the specific context of medieval mysticism, Gnosticism and esoteric Christianity (SL 280 §638). Each of these factors helps to explain Cary de Angulo’s realization that only through being granted special access to Jung’s work on the Red book had she been given the clue to uncovering what was really “true” in the world of mystical literature and thought without losing herself, as people always do, in the usual superficial or literal misunderstandings (draft letter to Jung dated 22 October 1922, CEA). Needless to say, finding the clue to the true essence of mysticism ignored even by most mystics is the ultimate mystical endeavour. Aside from Jung’s own unending frustrations at people’s hopelessly confused ideas about what true mysticism is (see e.g. PR 184 §274; FP 339 §781), note also the remarkable passage he wrote about symbols at a time when he was working on his Red book. In the chapter he devoted to definitions near the end of his Psychological types he effectively equated the three terms “mystical”, “transcendent”, and “psychological” (“an as yet unknown and incomprehensible fact of a mystical or transcendent, i.e. psychological, nature”: PT 474 §815). 21

Parmenides frs. 2.1, 6.4-7, 1.34-5 and Empedocles frs. 2.1-7, 4.9-13, 17.21 and 25-6, 21.1-3 Diels = Parmenides frs. 11.1, 13.5-8, 14.3-4 and Empedocles frs. 7.8-17, 9.15-19, 26.28 and



32-3, 31.5-8 plus 28.15-24 Gemelli Marciano; Reality 79-125, 179-99, 326-559. 22

Both the words “no longer a struggle .. .” and the striking

statement that it’s not the ego but the alethinos anthropos, the “true Man” or divine self inside a human, who walks the inner path of transformation come from Mysterium coniunctionis (ii,

Zurich 1956, 102-3 §157 in the original Swiss edition; cf. MC 349 §492). The truth in this statement is something only a mystic can understand: see Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, 1he circle of love (Inverness, CA 1999) 136-7. 23

“You are quite right … “: letter to P.W. Martin, written by Jung in English and dated 20 August 1945 (IL i 377; A. Jaffe, Was C.G. Jung a mystic?, Einsiedeln 1989, 16; M. Stein in 1he idea ofthe numinous, ed. A. Casement and D. Tacey, Hove 2006, 34 = Minding the self, Hove 2014, 38; S. Shamdasani, ]AP 55, 2010, 41; L.S. Owens in A. Ribi, 1he search far roots, Los Angeles 2013, 7). On Martin and Jung see SL 606 n.l; W. McGuire, Bollingen (Princeton 1982) 136-7; also Emma Jung’s letter to Cary Baynes dated 24 October 1944 (CEA). For the connection in Jung’s mind between the numinous, the unexpected, the inconceivable and the outwardly impossible see e.g.JP 324-5; alsoACU17 §35, MDR 328/356. 24

For a partial insight into modern strategies for handling the numinous see e.g. Jung’s ‘Red book’far our time, ed. M. Stein and T. Arzt, ii (Asheville 2018) and especially The idea ofthe numinous, ed. A. Casement and D. Tacey (Hove 2006). On Lucy Huskinson’s blunt denial that the numinous can have any healing power (ibid. 210) see L. Schlamm, European journal ofpsychotherapy and counselling 9 (2007) 411 n.l; her assertion that “although the numinous cannot be understood on an



objective level, it can be known subjectively” (200: compare the similar remarks by A. Samuels, Jung and the post-Jungians, London 1985, 27, 43) undermines the very foundation of Jung’s own deepest understanding. As for Samuels’ apparently wise statement that with the numinous “there is considerable room for self-deception” (ibid. 77), what he avoids mentioning is the even more considerable room for self-deception which exists in thinking one can avoid the numinous. During her final lecture Marie-Louise van Franz offered an appropriate reminder that “disregard of the numinous powers is, according to Jung, the essence of evil” (Jj 212, 2008, 12); the shocked reaction on the part of prominent modern-day Jungians to this last lecture of hers (e.g. J. Beebe, ibid. 3/4, 2009, 28-38) is an interesting indicator of where many of them might line up along Jung’s own moral spectrum. Jung explains the meaning of the word “apotropaic”: TE 238 n.7; KY33; SD 99 §§206-7; Entretiens (Paris 2010) 96-7. “You’ll think up …”: RB 2916. On the subject of domesticating the gods, John Dourley is willing to state in clear words what others might prefer not to acknowledge openly (Psychology and religion at the millennium and beyond, ed. J.M. Spiegelman, Tempe 1998, 23). ”A mere expedient … “: JK 171; Jung’s comment here deserves to be set alongside J.S. Bernstein’s poignant observations about the more or less inevitable “one-sidedness” of any psychotherapy when faced with the numinous reality of what Bernstein refers to as borderland persons, or phenomena (Living in the borderland, Hove 2005, 78-9). 25

“Like it or not”: JL ii 112 (cf. ii 20); P. Bishop, Jung’s ‘Answer to job ‘ (Hove 2002) 41-4. For the numinous as our tool or the other way around see e.g. RB 2916, “You want to employ it, but you are its tool”; PR 84 §141;JL i 492. Reference to experience of the numinous as “the therapeutic resource that distinguishes



Jungian therapy and theory from other traditions”: J. Dourley, ]AP 47 (2002) 490. For Lucifer in Jung’s account of how “every spiritual truth gradually turns into something material, becoming no more than a tool in the hand of man”, see AS 248-50 §§301-3. Characteristically, prominent Jungians who do comment on this passage make sure to invert the sequence ofJung’s own exposition so as to give it all a positive spin (e.g. E.F. Edinger, Anatomy ofthe psyche, LaSalle 1985, 179-80)-which happens to be the identical technique used so effectively by commentators to sanitize Empedocles’ cosmic cycle, and with such disastrous results (ENM 343, 385-6). 26

“Wanted God to be alive …”: PP 6 (1975) 12. For the indigenous elder known as Mountain Lake, the disastrous effects of ”American rationalism”, and Jung’s own comments about guarding his light because “it is most precious … “, see M. Serrano, C.G.]ung and Hermann Hesse (London 1966) 88 = ]L ii 597. For Jung on the crucial importance of the “religious attitude”, and on the absolute indispensability of a true “sense of historical continuity”, see e.g. PPT 46 §99 with ]L ii 48 8; for the decisive question in a person’s life, and the life that’s wasted, MDR 3001325; and for the soul of humanity, the alchemical opus magnum, “the whole weight of mankind’s problems” and the “supreme responsibility” this involves, PPT 235 §449. On Jung’s thoughts all circling around the divine see also JL ii 235-8. There have been some fine studies of Jung’s religious attitude (cf. M. Stein in Analyticalpsychology, ed. J. Cambray and L. Carter, Hove 2004, 204-22), although without an exact understanding of what he meant by historical continuity they can only tell a fragment of the story. 27

Chretien de Troyes, Le roman de Perceval ou le conte du Graaf, ed. K. Busby (Tubingen 1993) 138-40, 271, 504.




The repeated image of Jung during his journey to India as someone constantly withdrawing in search of the inner truth unique to him alone (MDR 2571275, 2621280, 265/284) is an obvious reminiscence of the famous words spoken by the ancient Greek philosopher he was most familiar with, Heraclitus: the saying “I searched inside myself’ (edizesamen emeouton) was specially annotated by Jung in his own copy of Heraclitus’ collected Greek fragments (Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, ed. H. Diels, 3rd ed., Berlin 1912, i 97.14, cf. 86.11-12; J. Olney, The rhizome and the flower, Berkeley 1980, 90 n.4, 93). On the paradoxical effects of being so far removed from Europe see JP 309. The immensity of the impression made on Jung by his Kolkata dream, although understated in MDR, is duly noted at JP 306 and 308; it’s also no accident that he compares the special significance of his time in India during 1938, including the sickness and dream, to the crucial importance of his famous illness during 1944 (JP 359). 29

ETG 286; cf. MDR 263-4/282-3, MDRC 287-8. For the dream itself see MDR 262-3/280-2, MDRC 283-8,JP 306-10, 357-9. The utterly inhuman qualities of the dream as emphasized by Jung-metallic, cold, full of horror and terror, inexorably harsh and hard-have a direct bearing on his comment that the intensity of what he experienced while visiting India was something to be measured not in weeks or months, but in centuries (JP 358). For the small, nondescript place where what is most precious has been hidden away unnoticed by anyone see JP 308; this was a Gnostic and alchemical, as well as biblical, theme very dear to Jung. 3

°Compare, for example, the point where Jung calls salvation

“the resolution of the task” and specifically defines this as giving birth to the ancient; as bringing back the old in a time



that is new (RB 310a, cf. RB 3116). For comments on Jung as healer of his culture see e.g. J. Hillman and S. Shamdasani’s impressionistic meanderings in Lament ofthe dead (New York 2013) 145-61, or A. Haaning’s more coherent observations at]AP 59 (2014) 8-30, plus Jung’s own telling comparison of himself to a medicine man-which to him was the simplest way of describing the task he had been “wrestling with” for the whole of his life (IL ii 586-9). Joseph Henderson famously came up with the Jungian theory of a “cultural unconscious”; but however satisfying as a concept, it lacks any sense at all of the urgent need or focused duty or very particular obligation that Jung found himself confronted with in regard to the healing of western culture. See e.g. J.L. Henderson in Proceedings ofthe second international congress far analytical psychology, ed. A. Guggenbuhl-Craig (Basel 1964) 3-14 and Cultural attitudes in psychological perspective (Toronto 1984); S.L. Kimbles, SF]] 2212 (Summer 2003) 53-8 with The cultural complex, ed. T. Singer and Kimbles (Hove 2004); Singer and C. Kaplinsky in Jungian psychoanalysis, ed. M . Stein (Chicago 2010) 22-37. 31

For references to the scholarly literature see e.g. L.O. Gomez in Curators ofthe Buddha, ed. D.S. Lopez (Chicago 1995) 197-250; L. Schlamm, IJJS 2 (2010) 32-44 and in Encyclopedia ofpsychology and religion (2 nd ed., New York 2014), ed. D.A. Leeming, 956-61. In this context the section of the Red book where Jung encounters Izdubar coming from the East is, symbolically, very revealing (RB 35-66, 277-86). 32

I am summarizing and translating the text as first published in Chinesisch-deutscher Almanach fur das]ahr 1931 (Frankfurt 1930) 10-11 and reprinted in Jung’s Uber das Phanomen des Geistes in Kunst und Wissenschaft (2 nd ed., Ostfildern 2011) 68-9



§§87-9, with the help of Cary Baynes’ magnificent English version (R. Wilhelm and C.G. Jung, 7he secret ofthe golden flower, London 1931, 145-7); the supposedly authoritative translation offered at SM 58-9 §§87-9 is altogether unreliable. Jung refers quite explicitly to Wilhelm’s own “cultural task” in the healing of western civilization and of its spiritual need (Chinesisch-deutscher Almanach 11; Uber das Phiinomen des Geistes 68 §87; 7he secret ofthe golden flower 145). As Edward Edinger very nicely put it when asked what Jung thought of westerners embracing eastern religions: “he thought it was an evasion of their own destiny and heritage” (JJTP 111, 1999, 54). Compare also Jung’s own statement about the urgency of the need “to build on our own ground with our own methods. If we snatch these things directly from the East, we have merely indulged our Western acquisitiveness, confirming yet again that ‘everything good is outside’, whence it has to be fetched and pumped into our barren souls” (in W.Y. Evans-Wentz, 7he Tibetan book ofthe great liberation, London 1954, xxxviii = PR 483 §773); 7he secret ofthe golden flower 80, “It is not for us to imitate what is organically foreign, or worse still, to send out missionaries to foreign peoples; it is our task to build up our own Western culture, which sickens with a thousand ills”; ACU 14-15 §§27-8. On the all-consuming hunger and greed of missionaries, as well as those who stand behind them, see NZ i 213. As for Jung’s comment about the light of wisdom that “only shines in the dark” (Chinesisch-deutscher Almanach 11 = 7he secret ofthe golden flower 146): this takes us right to the heart of his life, not to mention his work. Already since a child he had felt like an initiate into the realms of darkness, and this inner alignment with darkness guided him in his work for the rest of his life (MDR 28/15, 55145, 92/87; compare JP 176, on the “dunkle Substanz” or dark substance that linked him to the alchemists; and see also JP 211-14 on Jung, Merlin and the



magic of darkness together with S.A. Hoeller, 1he Gnostic Jung and the ‘Seven sermons to the dead’, Wheaton, IL 1982, 204 and R. Padel, In and out ofthe mind, Princeton 1992, 72 n.84). He agreed to identifying the essence of his work with the biblical pillar of fire that offers guidance through the night, as opposed to the pillar of cloud that provides guidance through the day (RB 2136). And in describing “the primordial light-bringer, who is never himself the light”, he was not only defining the role of darkly ambiguous Mercurius. He was also defining, to perfection, his own role in life (AS 248 §300: for Jung himself as light-bringer in the depths of darkness see E. Rolfe, Encounter with Jung, Boston 1989, 163, 176). That, after all, is why he would give such a special place of honour at Bollingen to the alchemical saying “I give birth to the light even though my nature is darkness” (Artis auriferae volumen secundum, Basle 1593, 239; this crucial statement is reduced to gibberish in the English translation at AS 125 §161 and in e.g. S. Marlan’s 1he black sun, College Station 2005, 99). Very wisely he understood that, while the selfless task of humanity two thousand years ago had been to help the darkness understand the light (John 1:5-10), now our collective attachment to light has become nothing but selfish laziness. Everything changes with time, and the present task is for the light to understand the darkness (PR 468 §756). Or as Jung stated the matter very simply, “One doesn’t become enlightened by visualizing images of light but by making the darkness conscious” (Studien uber alchemistische Vorstellungen, 3rd ed., Olten 1988, 286 §335, cf. AS 265-6 §335)-although the trick is that we don’t make the darkness conscious through our own conscious intentions, but through the intelligence of the darkness itself (RB 237a with n. 78). 33

For the “plant-like na:ivete” which “is able to express profound things in simple language” see R. Wilhelm and



C.G. Jung, 1he secret ofthe golden.flower (London 1931) 149. “Gnosis should be an experience of your own life … ” is from Constance Long’s transcription-as preserved inside her diary, now held at the Countway Library of Medicine in Boston-of a letter Jung had sent her on 17 December 1921. Apart from the fact that Richard Noll’s published rendering of her transcript is as a whole astonishingly inaccurate, the way he interprets the text in terms of a supposed “German spirituality” is the crudest twisting and distortion of Jung’s own aims and purpose (1he Aryan Christ, New York 1997, 258-9). In tone, as well as content, this letter is particularly close to the already famous address by Jung to his “friends” at the start of the Red book (RB 231 with nn.23, 29). “Don’t be greedy … “: RB 2316. On the poison for westerners of “foreign gods” see also JK 25 (Indian breathing exercises; cf. 33-5) and KY14, 20; for the crucial importance of tending one’s own garden, RB 306a, 316a. 34

For the masses who “claim in vain that they have found the whole” see Empedocles fr. 2.6 Diels = fr. 7.15 Gemelli Marciano with H. Stein, Empedoclis AgrigentiniJragmenta (Bonn 1852) 30; ENM 360-1 with n.62; Reality 326 (cf. 24, 81, 165). 35

Regarding traditional usage of these expressions, see for example the Gospel of John 4:42-where Christ’s characteristic title in later Greek, ho soter tou kosmou, would be translated into Latin as both salvator mundi (Vulgate) and the more classically stylish servator mundi (Erasmus). It will be noted that in ancient Greek, as well as Latin, saving was an essential part of preserving while protecting or keeping safe was the natural job of a saviour (H. Ebeling, Lexicon homericum ii, Leipzig 1880, 269-70; J. Fontenrose, Didyma, Berkeley 1988, 140-1). For the praise of Christ by alchemists as salvator mundi



see e.g. Musaeum hermeticum (Frankfurt 1678) 725 and, on the role of Christus servator at the intersection between Latin occult and theological literature, W. Schmidt-Biggemann, Geschichte der christlichen Kabba/a ii (Stuttgart 2013) 183 with n.114; 348 with n.87. Jung himself was particularly fond of one passage in Khunrath (cf. ibid. 51) that describes the crucified Christ as both saviour of humanity or the microcosm, salvator mundi minoris, and preserver of the world or macrocosm, servator mundi maioris: AS 126-7 §162 with n.43; MC 264-5 §355, 580 n.28; reformulated by Jung as salvator macrocosmi at PA 24 §26. For his use of the words servator and salvator together compare Aion 183 §286; AS 235-6 §283, 250 §303, 295-6 §390; and note also Flying saucers (London 1959) 28 = CT 332 §629 on Mercurius as “a kind of panacea, saviour, and servator mundi (preserver of the world). Mercurius is a ‘bringer of healing’ … as the ‘food of immortality’ he saves Creation from sickness and corruption, just as Christ saved mankind”. Christ or the self as mystical vessel filled with the Holy Spirit which is servator mundi: JL ii 267. On Christ as salvator mundi see esp. Aion 127 §194, AS 242 §290 and ETG 215, where the Latin phrase has been stripped out of the English edition. Interestingly, while the English version of Jung’s published biography has his Kolkata dream culminate in the phrase servator mundi, the German version here has adopted the more familiar salvator mundi (ibid. 286). 36

Richard Noll famously encountered a savage reaction to his claims that Jung was responsible for creating as well as promoting “a religious movement whose goal is not only the salvation of the individual, but also of the world” and that already right from the start he had considered psychology “the new salvation of the world, with Jung as the prophet”. See his 1he]ung cult (2 nd ed., New York 1997) 202,254; 1he



Aryan Christ (New York 1997) 112, 201; P. Homans, SFJI 14/2 (Summer 1995) 8-9. But although there is no denying that Noll’s books are cesspits of sensationalism and sloppy scholarship, it’s only right to note that they occasionally contain some very accurate intuitions-and also to ponder Jung’s constant reminder that the rarest of truths is always found in the unlikeliest and dirtiest of places, despised by the high priests as well as academics (cf. e.g. PA 80-1 §103, 123 §160, 313 §421, 430 §514). 37

“Christ in the garden of Gethsemane” and “servator cosmi (preserver of the cosmos)”: AS 295-6 §390. On Jung’s identification of his dream companions as members of the Psychological Club see JP 306, 307; and for his comparison of himself to Christ at Gethsemane, and the members of the Club to Christ’s disciples, ibid. 308. It will be noted that Richard Noll, for all his faults, arrived by a different route and using different texts at precisely the same conclusion: Jung “even drew the analogy between the members of the club and the apostles of Christ” (1he Aryan Christ, New York 1997, 156). Sightseeing: JP 306; D. Bair, Jung (Boston 2003) 428. 38

Jung’s attacks on those who set themselves up as world saviours go back to the inaugural dissertation he wrote during his mid-twenties. See e.g. Psychiatric studies (2 nd ed., London 1970) 16 §34; RB 2316, 2986, 3096, 316-17; Collected papers on analytical psychology (2 nd ed., New York 1917) 462 (“GodAlmightiness”) and TE 169 §260 (“inflation”), 286 §476; SL 750 §1699;JS 363. For the record, one should add that Freud together with his close circle were very much taken aback by Jung’s early aspirations to save the world through becoming “another Christ” (1he complete correspondence ofSigmund Freud and Ernest Jones, 1908-1939, ed. R.A. Paskauskas, Cambridge,




MA 1993, 180, 182). And good note should also be taken of Jung’s own clear hint that the inflationary effects of contact with the unconscious can never be altogether avoided (TE 233-4 §§389-90). On the virtues oflove and wisdom see his letter to Alice Raphael dated 7 June 1955 (Alice Raphael papers, Beinecke Library, Yale University; JH 212, 2007, 6); for the “necessary humour”, TE 170 §262 (where Jung’s original “Lacherlichkeit” would be better translated as “laughable absurdity”) with SL 750 §1699, JL ii 324 and E. Rolfe, Encounter with Jung (Boston 1989) 179. 39

IJP 107. For a classic example of failure to distinguish between the experience of deification and the inflationary state of god-almightiness see S. Shamdasani, Cultfictions (London 1998) 50-1. On deification for Jung as a major “initiation” he had to pass through cf. e.g. M. Stein in Initiation, ed. T. Kirsch, V.B. Rutter and T. Singer (Hove 2007) 93; also his comments in Transformation (College Station 1998) 44-6. That “the experience of self-deification represents the beginning and not the end of a psychological process” (L. Schlamm, R eligion 28, 1998, 98) is a truth acknowledged not only by Jung, but by many mystics. The famous Sufi Ibn al-‘Arabi demonstrated through his own life the paradox of how, after the state of oneness with God, comes the stage of becoming God’s humble servant (C. Addas, Questfar the red sulphur, Cambridge 1993)and, incidentally, also explained that the God I experience is not the Godhead itself but the very personal God-image unique to me (see Corbin, AWA). This can be a useful reminder that such distinctions are not unique to Jung and don’t require any knowledge of German philosophy. For a vivid account of practical Sufism and its intimate familiarity with the phenomena of inflation see Irina Tweedie’s Daughter offire (Nevada City 1986), especially 378-9; ancient Hermetic



texts with which Jung himself was very well acquainted reveal a similar insight into the subtleties of human psychology (P. Kingsley, Parabola 2211, Spring 1997, 21-5 and in PJB 17-40); and for the direct links between Hermetic and Sufi traditions see ibid. 29 nn.24 and 26, 38 with 39 nn.45 and 46. On the recognized problem of inflation among Christian mystics cf. e.g. Schlamm in Encyclopedia ofpsychology and religion (2 nd ed., New York 2014), ed. D .A. Leeming, 872. “The great psychotherapeutic systems …”: ST 356 §553. 40

Halfway between one’s conscious self and the depths of the unconscious: compare, for example, TE 221-2 §§364-5. Hidden away inside the human body: PR 278 §421; MC 477-8 §681, 499 §711, 543 §775. On Jung and his meeting with Mountain Lake-he describes the encounter as so uniquely and profoundly real that it left him at a loss for the right words to explain what happened (JP 370)-see e.g. MDR 233-8/247-53; M. Serrano, C.G.Jung and Hermann Hesse (London 1966) 87-8 = JL ii 596-7. But note, also, Jung’s own earlier reference to the “saving symbol” of the spoken word that “leads the sun on high” (RB 3106: compare the comment by D.G. Barton about Jung’s encounter with Mountain Lake mirroring back to him his own experiences while working on the Red book, IJJS 8, 2016, 82). The deep respect and admiration displayed by Jung for Mountain Lake were reciprocated: the two of them stayed in touch and remained friends for many years (W. McGuire, Spring 1978, 43; cf. JL i 101-2). “The cosmos would collapse”: M.H. Yousef, Ibn :Arabi – time and cosmology (Abingdon 2008) 15, referring specifically to the symbol of the pillar as image of the perfected human being. This image of the perfect human being as a pillar was very familiar to Jung, and he annotated each mention of it carefully in his own copy of the Manichaean Kephalaia (ed. H.J. Polotsky and A. Bohlig i,



Stuttgart 1935-7). For the controversial popularizing of similar traditions in Judaism about the hidden few who are needed to keep the world intact see Andre Schwartz-Bart’s 1be last ofthe just (London 1959) with e.g. B. Wolfsteiner, Untersuchungen zum franzosisch-judischen Roman nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg (Tiibingen 2003) 168-80, 350-1; Murray Stein, sensibly enough, cites this material for its relevance to Jungian issues of inflation and identification (Soul, Hove 2016, 155). 41

For Eugene Rolfe’s correspondence with Jung-in Englishthrough November and December 1960 see his Encounter with Jung (Boston 1989) 157-80, esp. 163, 176. It will be noted that to another Englishman, Sir Herbert Read, Jung in fact makes a very deliberate point at around the same time of comparing himself to a medicine man (JL ii 586-9, 2 September 1960). On the other hand Rolfe complains to Jung with more than a little sadness that, although the British Society of Analytical Psychology which had been founded to further his work contained “a number of brilliant names”, nobody there was even remotely capable of combining “the roles of Discoverer, Healer, Teacher and Artist” because Jung alone represented a “living embodiment” of his own theories (Rolfe 164, cf. 161-2). On the apparent ordinariness of an individuated human being see e.g. JL ii 324; and for Jung’s typical association of the phrase “archetypal life” with the legendary life of Christ, PR 157 §233. It can be helpful, here, to remember that at the start of the same year Jung had also written to James Kirsch-a particularly influential and thrusting Jungian-to give him the soundest of verbal thrashings for the chaos he was causing through his inflated identification with the archetype of the Anthropos or cosmic Christ (JK259-60: 12 February 1960). This helps to put in its full and true perspective his rare comment almost thirty



years earlier to the effect that, even though to start with there is a constant danger of being swallowed by an archetype, there is also a very long but perfectly natural process which ends at last in the mastership of realizing one’s identity as a human with the archetype: of discovering that the archetype “is in a peculiar way man, as man is an archetype” (NZ i 318-19). That Rolfe, for his part, was spot on in referring to Jung as a living embodiment of his own teaching is clear from Jung’s lighthearted conclusion to the light-hearted interview he gave on his eightieth birthday: “Do you know who already anticipated the whole of my psychology in the eighteenth century? The Hasidic Rabbi Baer from Meseritz, who was called ‘the Great Maggid’. He was an extremely remarkable man” (Michael Schabad, “Besuch bei C.G. Jung”, National-Zeitung 26 July 1955; cf.JS 271-2 and, for Jung’s lively laughter and humour throughout the interview, ibid. 268- 9, 271-2). Sanford Drob has beaten this delightful statement to death in a hundred different ways, taking it as proof that inwardly Jung became a Jew before he died while citing abstruse teachings of Rabbi Baer which Jung himself could never have read or heard about in his lifetime. But, in sober fact, there can be no doubt at all as to what Jung had read inside the comfort of his own library which triggered such a special sense of affinity with the Great Maggid: “The new movements gave birth to a new type of leader, the illuminate, the man whose heart has been touched and changed by God, in a word, the prophet . . . Rabbi Israel of Koznitz used to say that he had read eight hundred Kabbalistic books before coming to his teacher, the ‘Great Maggid of Meseritz’, but that he had really learned nothing from them … The new element must therefore not be sought on the theoretical and literary plane, but rather in the experience of an inner revival, in the spontaneity of feeling generated in sensitive minds by the encounter with the living incarnations of



Mysticism … Rabbi Baer ofMeseritz … gives a new emphasis to psychology, instead of theosophy … the secrets of the Divine realm are presented in the guise of mystical psychology. It is by descending into the depths of his own self that man wanders through all the dimensions of the world .. . in his own self, finally, he transcends the limits of natural existence and at the end of his way, without, as it were, a single step beyond himself, he discovers that God is ‘All in All’ and there is ‘Nothing but Him’ … Hasidism is practical mysticism at its highest. Almost all the Kabbalistic ideas are now placed in relation to values peculiar to the individual life, and those which are not remain empty and ineffective … A tale is told of a famous saint who said: ‘I did not go to the Maggid ofMeseritz to learn Torah from him but to watch him tie his boot-laces’. This pointed and somewhat extravagant saying .. . at least throws some light on the complete irrationalization of religious values which set in with the cult of the great religious personality. The new ideal of the religious leader, the Zaddik, differs from the traditional ideal of Rabbinical Judaism, the Ta/mid Hakham or student of the Torah, mainly in that he himself ‘has become Torah’. It is no longer his knowledge but his life which lends a religious value to his personality. He is the living incarnation of the Torah” (Gershom Scholem, Major trends in Jewish mysticism, Jerusalem 1941, 329- 39). One has to remember that Jung didn’t call Rabbi Baer from Meseritz a man who held extremely remarkable beliefs: he called him an extremely remarkable man. 42

On the “irrational and impossible condition” always associated with the appearance of the saviour- which “occurs just when one is least expecting it, and in the most improbable of places”-see PT 261 §§438-9, RB 229a with n.2, 311. On the relation between the archetype of light-bringer and Christ as servator mundi, “the Saviour and Preserver of the world”,



see e.g. AS 127 §§162-3 (cf. also 247-50 §§299-303). For the Gnostic figure, “suppressed and forgotten”, of the cosmic Christ as Saviour and light-bringer “who went forth from the Father …” and its immediate relevance to Jungian psychology see SL 671-2 §§1514-17, 826-9 §§1827-34. See especially JP 113 for Jung’s own important unpublished statement; also B. Hannah, Quadrant 16 (Spring 1974) 27 with Jung, his lift and work (New York 1976) 53, 114 and J. Dehing,JAP 35 (1990) 379 with G. Qiispel in The rediscovery of Gnosticism, ed. B. Layton, i (Leiden 1980) 21, 23. I am grateful, as well, to Gilles Qiispel for personal comments he made to me on several occasions about things said to him in private by Jung. On the aliveness of the Gnostics compare also the exquisitely profound and funny story told by Jung about his good friend, the famous Gnostic expert G.R.S. Mead (JP 195-6). On the Gnostics as psychologists see in particular Aion 174 §269 (“for the Gnostics-and this is their real secret-the psyche existed as a source of knowledge”), 222 §347 (“it is clear beyond a doubt that many of the Gnostics were nothing other than psychologists”), 223 §350. 43


For gnosis as-by definition-a matter of direct knowledge or realization instead of belief see e.g. E. Pagels, The Gnostic gospels (New York 1979) xix-xx; W. Barnstone and M. Meyer, The Gnostic bible (Boston 2003) 8-9 (on the recent trends towards “de-constructing” ancient Gnosticism as a recognizable phenomenon, cf. ibid. 12-16). With archetypal perversity Robert Segal opens his book on The Gnostic Jung by stating that “The belief known as Gnosticism is definable in various ways” (Princeton 1992, 3). On the surprising realities of ancient “heresy” and “orthodoxy” see the foundational work by Walter Bauer, Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei im altesten



Christentum (2 nd ed., Tubingen 1964) = Orthodoxy and heresy in earliest Christianity (Philadelphia 1971); H . Koester, Harvard theological review 58 (1965) 279-318 and D.J. Harrington, ibid. 73 (1980) 289-98; B.A. Pearson, Gnosticism, Judaism and Egyptian Christianity (Minneapolis 1990) 194-213; A. Bohlig and C. Markschies, Gnosis und Manichiiismus (Berlin 1994) 170; P. McKechnie,journal ofecclesiastical history 47 (1996) 413-

14. For Jung’s own clear statements regarding the matter see e.g. CS 14, where he explains that Gnosticism derives directly from the unconscious while Christianity derives in turn from Gnosticism; PA 357 §453; J. Dehing,JAP 35 (1990) 380. For the Gnostic perspective as the reverse of every ordinary perspective, or the other way around, cf. J.Z. Smith, Map is not territory (Leiden 1978) 151-71; Reality 417, 588. 45

On the underlying link between the words gnostikos, gnosis, gignoskein and the immediacy of sense perception see e.g. Empedocles frs. 5.3 and 89 Diels = frs. 10.6 and 130.2 Gemelli Marciano; Reality 551-4, 591. “Psychology is concerned … faculty of seeing”: PA 13-14 §§14-15. Very significantly, in struggling to answer Martin Buber’s accusations that he was a Gnostic, Jung is pulled straight back to the word’s original meaning: “What Buber misunderstands as Gnosticism is psychiatric observation” (IL ii 570, cf. PR 307 §460). 46

Letter written by Jung to J.B. Lang on 9 March 1918. The letter as a whole remains unpublished but the central part of the text has been printed, with no comment, at RBu 209a; I have added an exact date for it based on the details mentioned by Jung, in the original letter, just above his signature. It will be noted that, although he refers to the “Erkenntnissinhalt der Gnosis und des Neoplatonismus”, by Neoplatonism he meant what today would be called Hermetic or occult philosophy (PA



83-4 §109 with n.38, PR 97 §159,JL i 317, MC 309 §425; cf. PJB 68-9). The language that Jung uses throughout the letter is highly significant. His mention of “the unconscious spirit” is a clear reference to the philosophy of Eduard von Hartmann (IJP 4-5; D.N .K. Darnoi, The unconscious and Eduard von Hartmann, The Hague 1967, 19, 56 with n.2). But at the same time his conscious or unconscious choice of words here in explaining how he wants to use Gnostic systems to create (“bilden”) the foundations for “einer Lehre des Ubw Geistes” is strangely reminiscent of the familiar phrase “Lehre vom Hl. Geist”, which instead of “theory” means “teaching” or “doctrine” of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jung himself,JP 384, with e.g. H. Leisegang, Der Heilige Geist i, Leipzig 1919, 3 on “der Ausbildung einer Lehre vom Heiligen Geiste”). And, if anything, it’s even more reminiscent of the standard language used in Jung’s time-a language with which he was intimately familiar-for describing the creation of those ancient Gnostic systems themselves. See e.g. W. Schultz, Dokumente der Gnosis (Jena 1910) 135 on “