[Carl Jung on “Active Imagination.”]
To Mr. O.
My dear Mr. O. 2 May 1947
I’m somewhat astonished that you haven’t learned yet to apply what I call “active imagination,” as this is the indispensable second part of any analysis that is really meant to go to the roots.
I wish you would carefully study what I have written about it in “The Relations between the Ego and the Unconscious.”
It is true, not much has been published about this subject.
Most is contained in my Seminars. It is too difficult a subject to deal with before a merely intellectual public.
The dream you write about is suggestive in that respect: it is a massa informis which is meant to be shaped.
It shouldn’t go down the sink as it is always expected to do, it must remain on the surface, because it is the prima materia4 of whatever you are going to
do about it.
The point is that you start with any image, for instance just with that yellow mass in your dream.
Contemplate it and carefully observe how the picture begins to unfold or to change.
Don’t try to make it into something, just do nothing but observe what its spontaneous changes are.
Any mental picture you contemplate in this way will sooner or later change through a spontaneous association that causes a slight alteration of the picture.
You must carefully avoid impatient jumping from one subject to another.
Hold fast to the one image you have chosen and wait until it changes by itself.
Note all these changes and eventually step into the picture yourself, and if it is a speaking figure at all then say what you have to say to that figure and listen to what he or she has to say.
Thus you can not only analyse your unconscious but you also give your unconscious a chance to analyse yourself, and therewith you gradually create the unity of conscious and unconscious without which there is no individuation at all.
If you apply this method, then I can come in as an occasional adviser, but if you don’t apply it, then my existence is of no use for you.
~Carl Jung, Letters Volume 1, Pages 459-460.