Monday, October 19, 2009

Jung's Red Book: Soul and God, pp. 233-4

Jung continues to describe his search for his own soul. He tells us that for many years he wandered, having forgotten that he even possessed a soul. He speaks of the paradox involved in finding one’s soul: “Where I sowed, you robbed me of the harvest, and where I did not sow, you gave me fruit a hundredfold….And time and again I lost the path and found it again where I would never have foreseen” (233). Further, “Dreams are the guiding words of the soul.” Scholarliness is by itself insufficient to grasp the soul,” as “the soul is everywhere that scholarly knowledge is not.” The soul can only be approached through a “knowledge of the heart,” which can be attained “only by living your life to the full.” Jung is here formulating non-Gnostic, life-affirming ideas that will later become the foundation for his concept of individuation, an idea that will also appear, somewhat transformed and without credit to Jung, in existential/humanistic psychology as “self-actualization.” One particularly existential formulation Jung provides is that “The spirit of the depths demands: ‘The life that you could still live, you should live” (234). Interestingly, Jung tells us that the heart is both “good and evil.” Later in The Red Book, he will have much to say about the dark and evil side of God and man. For Jung, “God” and henceforth one’s soul or Self, is in the “other” unexpected place, “If you are boys, your God is a woman…The God is where you are not.” We are seeing the beginnings of Jung’s thinking about the shadow and the anima.

Jung tells us that if he crosses the world this is ultimately in the service of finding his soul, an idea that echos the Hasidic notion that one who is moved to travel to a distant place does so in order to "raise divine sparks" that are unique to his mission in life, an act which at once a "discovery of the roots of one's soul." (We should recall that on his 80th birthday Jung told his interviewer that the Hasidic rabbi, thE maggid of Mezhiretch, anticipated his entire psychology.)

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