I wonder what brought you tothis blog? I wonder what your story is, andhow one or both of these “mystics, madmen and messiahs” may have changed yourlife. I wonder if you might have a sense that there is something deeplypersonal in this material for you. I hope so…for it is my intention that thiswriting might restore in you a sense of wonder and forgiveness: wonder for thewisdom that was shining through their human imperfections and “shadow”—and forgivenessand tolerance, not just for them, but for yourself, and for all who dare tocourageously ask the larger questions of life and commit to it with an“unchosen passion.”
I must admit that “Mystics, Mentors, andMessiahs” is a radical title for two men who haveinspired meforover forty years. They were two men, who like many spiritual teachers in the1970’s and 1980’s were put on pedestals and then knocked down years later. Theircourageous attempts at earnest self-inquiry, and inquiry into the collectiveunconscious, not only changed the course of history, but could change your lifetoday, deeply, and for the better. I am committed to sharing their wisdom and passion,as they were committed to sharing what they knew.
Carl Jung was once asked ifhe believed in God, and he answered slowly and carefully: “No, I don’t believe, I know.” To trulyunderstand what he meant by that you’ll need to re-open your mind and heart—toleave behind some opinions, prejudices, and even that old “chip on yourshoulder” attitude that you may have developed. Why not?
Both of these men were products of their timeand culture, and they also transgressed laws and culture norms for their times.They were human, not perfect. People don’t like to talk about the ‘darker sides’of a great teacher or thinker that they admire. But their brilliance stillshines through if we are open to it, despite their ‘shadows.’ We can askourselves, why was I drawn to this teaching? When I look at one of Jung’scircular mandalas or listen to Krishnamurti’s talking on freedom, I sensesomething true in my gut. They have tapped into something numinous, something sacred —awellspring of wisdom that holds more hope and optimism than I have ever heard.
And what about you? Do youremember them? How did they change your life in ways you barely remember? Like a song you barely remember from earlierin your life, your connection with either of these sages may have changed your life subtly or profoundly. Theirinfluence permeated the culture of the 1900’s; they were the harbingers of theNew Age. Their ideas seeped into our songs, our philosophy, our politics andour priorities.
Their ideas changed our tolerance andunderstanding for people who suffer from mental illness and soul sickness. Theychanged how we see ourselves—opening a door for us to think with compassionabout our human struggles and pain, not with judgment and demands. Because ofthem, we no longer bow subserviently to the unquestioning laws of patriarchy, thechurches, and institutions that disregard the inner wisdom of the Self.
Becauseof these men, we ask more questions—and when we have emotional or spiritualproblems, most of us will not end up in a mental hospital, but will practicetalk therapy (psychotherapy), or will go to 12 step groups like AA (did you know that Jung wroteand influenced the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W.?) or we will havethe courage to buy a “self-help” or esoteric book without judging ourselvescrazy. We are able now to reject what we aresupposed to belief and forge our own way—for now we do see, as Krishnamurtionce said: “Truth is a pathless land.” Jung would agree, add that you are both theSeeker and that which is sought….the Self.
In these times of focus on science andtechnology, and radicalized politics, we could use a more balanced spiritual,tolerant and unconditioned approach to problem solving. Jung and Krishanmurtihave something to say about that—and they each suffered and sacrificed to bringforthwhat was in them--despiteconsequences.They laid the groundwork for such writersas Eckhart Tolle’s (“The Power of Now”), Herman Hesse and others.
But the “story” that has grabbed and obsessed me all these years is not their teachings,but their lives. Their courage and their curiosity. Their daring to live lives that were shockingthen and now, despite the profoundness of their teachings. They would havepreferred their lives to be private and secret. But it is out of the stories of theirlives, and how their ‘teachings’ and wisdom evolved that has grabbed andobsessed my heart and mind for so many years.
Both men were introverts whowould have found honest self-disclosure and comparison with each other,difficult and distasteful. They could be said to have hidden among “words” anddense books…perhaps so as not to be crucified by the scientific rational agethey lived in. They were the old guard of this new age, but the writings ofthese two men men was almost too verbose and overwhelming to understand. Bothwrote long voluminous tomes that are almost unreadable by today’s standards,but their stories are similar, radical and revolutionary.
Theywanted respect and objectivity, and in most ways they received it. However in recent years so much more hassurfaced about their lives, and yes, they were “madmen” at times. And who amongus hasn’t been? There is much hidden about their lives, and much judgement.
Both Jung and Krishnamurtiwere icons and gurus of the 1960’s—although both would vehemently protestagainst that labeling. Krishnamurti, (1895-1986)who I will now call “K” as he was often referred to by his friends, was knownas an “anti-guru Guru” because his essential message awoke us to questionwhether we needed churches, doctrines, or other people’s teachings to lead usto Truth and Freedom. He abhorred gurus. Yet he spent his lifetime teaching and“shaking us psychically”— pleading for us to become awake and aware of ourcultural conditioning that has kept us in bondage—asking us to stop aligningwith all sorts of ideologies and ideas that keep us from being free. He didn’tsay: you must meditate, you must be a vegetarian, or you must see God a certainway. K was the Guru who said: no more gurus; do it yourself—become free, awakeand aware of your own conditioning;He said forge a new trail--whereas Jungsaid simply: become yourself. Experience the numionus and sacred directly.Find the God within by being truly yourself--ie:“individuate.”
So who was this man, Carl Jung? He was a Swisspsychiatrist, (1875-1961) who was well known for his break with Sigmund Freud. Hehad a passion for alchemy and astrology, andthe idea of what he called the ‘natural man,’ which allowed him to be, withhonest conscience, with many women and to see these anima figures as his “muses”.Jung was born twenty years before Krishnamurti (another man who had his “muses” as well.)Jung was married to one of Switzerland's richest women, and had 5 children.Jung, and Jungian thought, especially through James Hillman and Thomas Moore,has regained muchpopularity in recent years. Andnow with the publication of his hidden journal “The Red Book” there is a renewed interest in why Jung took his most important book (according to him) and never published it...it was taken out of a locked cabinet in his house and given to the world a half century after his death. This enormous red-leather bound tome of a book has even been compared to the "Book of Kells" forJung's beautiful illustrations and mandalas.
The “Herr Doctor Professor” wrote thisprivate masterpiece during and after his nervous breakdown, and declares that all his major insights into the collective unconscious came from this delving into his own unconscious process through active imagination. He was his own experiment...he was the "scientist" who drew mostly on his own experiments with himself.I would call this the work of a mystic, an artist, and arather pedantic scholar, rather than a scientist.
Both men had manysimilarities…. both suffered from painfully long nervous breakdowns in theirthirties, that radically changed the course and teachings of their lives. Bothmen lived in an elite upper-class society, and both men were idolized, put on apedestal and most recently, torn off their pedestals with charges of everythingfrom anti-semitism, to womanizing and callousness. Some of these charges arenot true (i.e. the anti-semiticism, but others one could make a case for.)
And who was J. Krishnamurti? A child adopted out of India whowas raised and bred to be the avatar for a new age. He was raised like ayoung god or fine racehorse, a person born to be a Star—he was in fact, schooled and trained by the Englisharistocracy of the early 1900’s to be the next coming of Christ! He was clairvoyantly declared to be the Messiah of this age--but he rejected it, and instead of following the path of the Theosophists, hespent most of his life teaching how to be 'free'. That was what he had to learn for himself, and it was what he taught us.
Jungwas much more "unchosen"(more about that later) and insteadwas expected to follow in Sigmund Freud’s shadow, to be famous, and to staywithin the boundaries of Freud’s psychoanalytic circles of the time—and mostlyto stay away from any ideas about God, the occult, and the "dark mud ofoccultism". Jung rejected it. In his later years he deeply delved into alchemy, astrology and the world of the Spirit.
So this is a beginning. I do hope you’ll be able to relax your judgments so that you can find the men behind their persona-masks and to see the gold in the shadows of their lives. I do see them as "mystics, madmen and messiahs" but not negatively. They are the most fascinating people I've known, and sadly I never knew them personally, thoughthey dwell in my heart. I moved to Ojai California only one year after Krishnamurti died there, but although I missed him, I did get to know many of his closest friends and family.I have studied Jung, and poignantly stood in front ofthe door to his house, but was unable to go in. Above this door it reads in Latin: "Called or not called, God is present." He honored the synchronistic spirit of God that enters into allwho enter into relationship with their 'higher power.'He didn't see himself as a Messiah either, but he dwelt in those realms.
My hope is that this blog,and eventually this book, will give you an unexpected joy and optimism andcourage in a time when we seem to need it most. ~Elizabeth Spring~ December, 2012 www.elizabethspring.com and email@example.com