Your question is not so easy to answer.
My interest in these matters was not the result of a primary interest in Chinese philosophy, from a study of which, it might be supposed, I had learnt all sorts of valuable things for my psychology.
On the contrary, Chinese thought was very alien to me to begin with.
I owe my relations to China and to Richard Wilhelm simply and solely to certain psychological discoveries.
In the first place, it was the discovery of the collective unconscious, that is to say, of impersonal psychic processes, that aroused my interest in primitive and Oriental psychology.
Among these impersonal psychic processes there are quite a number which seem absolutely strange and incomprehensible and cannot be brought into connection with any of the historical symbols known to us, but for which we can find plenty of unquestionable analogies in the psychologies of the Orient.
Thus a whole group or layer of impersonal contents can only be understood in terms of the psychology of primitives, while others have their nearest analogies in India or China.
It had previously been supposed that mythological symbols were disseminated by migration.
But I have found that the occurrence of the same symbols in different countries and continents does not depend on migration, but rather on the spontaneous revival of the same contents.
Years of observing such processes has convinced me that—for the present at least—the unconscious psyche of Europeans shows a distinct tendency to produce contents that have their nearest analogies in the older Chinese philosophy and the later Tantric philosophy.
This prompted me to submit my observations to the eminent sinologist Richard Wilhelm, who thereupon confirmed the existence of some astonishing parallels.
The fruit of our collaboration is the recently published book called The Secret of the Golden Flower.
These parallels bear out a conjecture I have long held, that our psychic situation is now being influenced by an irruption of the Oriental spirit, and that this is a factor to be reckoned with.
What is going on is analogous to the psychic change that could be observed in Rome during the first century of our era.
As soon as the Romans, beginning with the campaigns of Pompey, made themselves the political masters of Asia Minor, Rome became inundated with Hellenistic-Asiatic syncretism.
The cults of Attis, Cybele, Isis, and the Magna Mater spread throughout the Roman Empire.
Mithras conquered Roman officialdom and the entire army, until all these cults were overthrown by Christianity.
I do not know how much the spiritual and political decline of Spain and Portugal had to do with their conquest of the primitive South American continent, but the fact remains that the two countries which first established their rule in East Asia, namely Holland and England, were also the first to be thoroughly infected with theosophy.
It seems to be a psychological law that though the conquerer may conquer a country physically, he will secretly absorb its spirit.
Today the old China has succumbed to the West, and my purely empirical findings show that the Chinese spirit is making itself clearly perceptible in the European unconscious.
You will understand that this statement is no more for me than a working hypothesis, but one which can claim a considerable degree of probability in view of the historical analogies.
My journey to Africa arose from the same need that had taken me to New Mexico the year before.
I wanted to get to know the psychic life of primitives at first hand.
The reason for this is the aforementioned fact that certain contents of the collective unconscious are very closely connected with primitive psychology.
Our civilized consciousness is very different from that of primitives, but deep down in our psyche there is a thick layer of primitive processes which, as I have said, are closely related to processes that can still be found on the surface of the primitive’s daily life.
Perhaps I can best illustrate this difference by means of an example.
When I ask an employee to deliver a letter to a certain address, I simply say to him: “Please take this letter to Mr. X.” In Africa I lived for a time with a very primitive tribe, the Elgonyis, who inhabit the primeval forests of Mount Elgon, in East Africa, and are still partly troglodytes.
One day I wanted to send some letters.
The nearest white men were some engineers who were working at the terminus of a branch line of the Uganda railway, two and a half days’ journey away.
In order to reach them, I needed a runner, and at my request the chief put a man at my disposal.
I gave him a bundle of letters, telling him in Swahili (which he understood) to take the letters to the white bwanas.
Naturally, everybody within a radius of a hundred miles would know where to find them, for news travels fast in Africa.
But after receiving my order, the man remained standing before me as though struck dumb and did not stir from the spot.
I thought he was waiting for baksheesh in the form of cigarettes, and gave him a handful, but he stood there as dumb and stiff as before.
I had no idea what this meant, and, looking round me in perplexity, my eye fell on my safari headman Ibrahim, a long thin Somali, who, squatting on the ground, was watching the scene, grinning.
In his frightful English he said to me: “You no do it like so, Bwana, but like so—” And he sprang up, seized his rhinoceros whip, cracked it through the air a couple of times in front of the runner, then gripped him by the shoulders, and with shouts and gesticulations delivered himself of the following peroration : “Here, the great bwana M’zee, the wise old man, gives you letters.
See, you hold them in your hand. But you must put them in a cleft stick.
Ho boys”—this to my servants—”bring a cleft stick,give it to this pagan. Hold it in your hand so—put the letters in the cleft here—bind it tight with grass—so—and now hold it high, so that all will see you are the runner of the great bwana.
And now go to the bwanas at the waterfall and seek one till you find him, and then go to him and say to him: ‘The great bwana M’zee has given me letters, they are in my stick here, take them!’
And the white bwana will say: ‘It is well.’ Then you can return home. And now run, but so—” and Ibrahim began running with upraised whip—”so must you run and run, until you come to the place where the little houses go on wheels.
Run, run, you dog, run like hell!” The runner’s face had gradually lit up as though witnessing a great revelation.
Grinning all over, he raised his stick and hurtled away from us, as though shot from a cannon, Ibrahim close behind him with cracking whip and a flood of curses.
The man ran 74 miles in 36 hours without stopping.
Ibrahim had succeeded, with an enormous expenditure of mime and words, in putting the man into the mood of the runner, hypnotizing him into it, so to speak.
This was necessary because a mere order from me could not conjure up a single movement.
Here you see the chief difference between primitive and civilized psychology: with us a word is enough to release an accumulation of forces, but with primitives an elaborate pantomime is needed, with all manner of embellishments which are calculated to put the man into the right mood for acting.
If these primitive vestiges still exist in us—and they do—you can imagine how much there is in us civilized people that cannot catch up with the accelerated tempo of our daily life, gradually producing a split and a counter-will that sometimes takes a culturally destructive form.
That this really is so, is clearly shown by the events of the last few decades.
Naturally, the purpose of my travels was not to investigate only the differences, but also the similarities between the civilized and the primitive mind. Here there are many points of connection.
For instance, in dreams we think in very much the same way as the primitive thinks consciously.
With primitives, waking life and dream life are less divided than with us—so little, in fact, that it is often difficult to find out whether what a primitive tells you was real or a dream.
Everything that we reject as mere fantasy because it comes from the unconscious is of extraordinary importance for the primitive, perhaps more important than the evidence of his senses. He values the products of the unconscious—dreams, visions, fantasies, and so on—quite differently from us.
His dreams are an extremely important source of information, and the fact that he has dreamt something is just as significant for him as what happens in reality, and sometimes very much more significant.
My Somali boys, those of them that could read, had their Arabic dream books with them as their only reading matter on the journey.
Ibrahim assiduously instructed me in what I ought to do if I dreamt of Al Khidr, the Verdant One, for that was the first angel of Allah, who sometimes appeared in dreams.
For primitives, certain dreams are the voice of God.
They distinguish two types of dream: ordinary dreams that mean nothing, and the dreams they call the great vision.
So far as I was able to judge, the “big dreams” are of a kind that we too would consider significant.
The only dream that occurred while I was there—at least, the only one that was reported to me—was the dream of an old chief, in which he learnt that one of his cows had calved, and was now standing with her calf down by the river, in a particular clearing.
He was too old to keep track of his many cattle that pastured in the various open places in the forest, so he naturally didn’t know this cow was going to calve, let alone where.
But the cow and the calf were found just where he had dreamt they would be.
These people are extraordinarily close to nature.
Several other things happened which made it quite clear to me why they were so convinced that their dream told the truth.
Part of the reason is that their dreams often fulfil the thinking function over which they still do not have full conscious control.
They themselves say that the appearance of the white man in their country has had a devastating effect on the dream life of their medicine-men and chiefs.
An old medicine-man told me with tears streaming down his face: “We have no dreams any more since the white man is in the land.”
After many talks on this subject, I finally discovered that the leading men owed their leadership chiefly to dreams that came true.
Since everything is now under British control, the political leadership has been taken out of the hands of the chiefs and medicine-men.
They have become superfluous, and the guiding voice of their dreams is silenced. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 553-557