Carl Jung and “Four Contacts with Jung.”
Introduction: Michael Fordham, the leading medical analyst among British Jungians and co-editor of the Collected Works, edited Contact with Jung (London, 1966), a collection of “essays on the influence of Jung’s work and personality” by forty-two of Jung’s pupils in Europe, England, America, and Israel.
Excerpts from four vivid and immediate recollections, dating from the late 1930’s to the late 1950’s, have been chosen. (The selections from Charles Baudouin’s journal for 1945 and 1954, in the present volume, were also included, in French, in Contact with Jung.)
A. I. ALLENBY (OXFORD):
I first got in touch with Jung after the end of the second world war.
I then wrote to him, and told him who I was and what I was doing, which included writing a thesis on the psychology of religion.
With his reply Jung sent the manuscript of his article on the Trinity’—a new version which had not yet appeared in print.
This was generous indeed, and an endearing token of encouragement for the complete stranger that I was to him then.
Only about a month before his death I again received a letter from Jung, in reply to one of mine, in which he went with great care into all the questions I had raised.
It ended with these words: “My best wishes for any further discoveries you may make.”
This is the first characteristic one encountered in Jung: his respect for the other person, whoever he or she might be, and his concern for the individual value in anyone.
When I first went to visit him at Kusnacht, I was full of appre hension as to how I should fare in meeting the great man—but the moment I entered his intimate little study I felt completely at ease.
Once he wanted me to understand that one should not feel guilty about events which happen on their own account.
“They are just like acts of God,” he said.
“Think of it as if a building had been hit by lightning; that, also, is an act of God. There was a church in a Swiss village which had been damaged by lightning, and the pastor went round the village to collect money for the repairs, and one shrewd old
peasant said to him: ‘What—you are not going to make me give you anything, if he destroys his own house!’ That man had got it right,” Jung said and laughed.
On another occasion Jung explained to me what happens when one mistrusts one’s feelings and refuses to act on them.
“You can see from the window my boathouse down by the lake,” he said.
“Some time ago I went for a swim and then lay on the balcony of the boathouse to sun myself. The level of the lake was so high that the boathouse was surrounded by water. There came my dog in search of me. He could not see me, and was not sure whether I was there. Being of a somewhat cowardly disposition and not very fond of the wet, the dog first put one paw into the water, then withdrew it, and then another paw and withdrew it, too. And this went on for some time. Eventually I made the faintest little noise, and the dog shot through the water and up the steps of the boathouse in one jump. The dog is conditioned by instinct and has no will-power of his own, except when a little noise from his master releases it.”
Jung, of course, wanted to convey to me, although he left it to me to draw the conclusion, that a person who mistrusts his own feelings or thoughts and does not utilize his will to put them to the test is hardly distinguishable from an animal; as a
conscious human being he hardly exists.
Another time Jung reverted to the problem of self-doubt, using a further example by way of illustration.
“Our needs and desires are always active,” he said.
“Trouble occurs only if they are active in the unconscious, if we do not take them consciously in hand so as to give them a definite form and direction. If we refuse to do this we are dragged along by them and become their victim. Then they are like a
sledge rushing downhill in the snow, with no one at the steering-ropes. You must place yourself firmly at the steering- ropes, not hang on at the back or, worse, be unwilling to take the ride at all—that only lands you in panic. Our unconscious energies give momentum to our journey through life and, if we direct their course, our actions will have strength; we may even sense that God is behind us.”
He told me that he once met a distinguished man, a Quaker, who could not imagine that he had ever done anything wrong in his life.
“And do you know what happened to his children ?” Jung asked.
“The son became a thief, and the daughter a prostitute. Because the father would not take on his shadow, his share in the imperfection of human nature, his children were compelled to live out the dark side which he had ignored.”
I remember Jung stating on one occasion:
“Every human being is inherently a unique and individual form of life. He is made like that. But there is something which man can do over and above the given material of his nature, and that is he can become conscious of what makes him the person he is, and he can work consciously towards relating what is himself to the world around him. And,” Jung added reflectively, “this is perhaps all we can do.”
Another time he said to me, as if he were speaking to himself: “This is how you must live—without reservation, whether in giving or withholding, according to what the circumstances require. Then you will get through. After all, if you should still get stuck, there is always the enantiodromia from the unconscious, which opens new avenues when conscious will and vision are failing.”
KENNETH LAMBERT (LONDON):
One way to express a personal debt to Jung is to recall certain personal experiences of him in action as a person at certain points of time, communicating his experience to another person—as compared with him as a theoretician.
I have two such memories.
The first was of him in London in 1939, when he answered questions put to him by a group of doctors, psychotherapists, and clergymen, including a bishop.
The result was a series of communications on “The Symbolic Life,” and the poverty and neurotic potential of individuals and groups for whom such an experience was meaningless.
At that time Jung’s personal exuberance and physical size were noticeable, and we last saw him marching out, with a certain playful humor, arm-in-arm with the gaitered bishop—arm-in-arm, although communication on the subject of the symbol had not greatly advanced between them.
Eleven years later Jung gave me half a morning for a personal interview.
He spoke with a spontaneous frankness and an unashamed sense of paradox.
He remembered the group and the bishop, and asserted that the theologian is now passe, owing among other things to his inability to understand projection.
But, he added, “Always I have a feeling of compassion for the clergyman. He has a devil of a problem.”
He had, of course, participated in this, for he spoke with feeling for his father “with all his intelligence, who had to be helpless over all this—so restricted and out of touch with nature and the dreams.”
Indeed, the intensely personal and historical basis of Jung’s scientific motivation revealed itself as he showed me photographs of his grandfather the doctor and of his father the pastor—high-foreheaded and sensitive in facial expression.
“I had the whole problem of the father to solve,” he said, “I am always unpopular—with the theologians and with the doctors. I am always mettant mes pieds sur le plat. The medical chaps have no intelligence,” he added.
“They work too much from the outside, whereas everybody’s psychology is making careful plans to get them into a state in which they have to face themselves, and the shadow. It’s their chance to realize the self. If you can get them out of their hole by giving them a kick in the pants you’ve cheated them of their birthright.”
The same feet were put on the priest’s plate.
For he emphasized how Christianity forces people to meet the shadow, and he outlined an argument he had worked at to show that St. Thomas Aquinas really believed that the world was created by the Diabolus.
Jung’s own sense of the difficulty made him tell a rabbinical story of how God wanted to make a world with his mercy and his justice.
The trouble was that if he used his mercy there would be too many sins, and if he used his justice you couldn’t live.
So he mixed both of them up and said: “Oh, how I wish there would be a world.”
Jung roared with laughter, and went on to mention the symbolism attached to Christ, indicating opposites in his nature, as, for instance, the Leviathan, the Lion, the Serpent, the Black Raven, and his crucifixion between two thieves.
Then the symbolism became astrological.
Jung stated that, at the birth of Christ, Saturn the maleficent god and Jupiter the beneficent god were so near to each other that they were almost one star, that is, the star of Bethlehem, when the new self, Christ, good and evil, was born.
Jung then associated to this by telling two stories about people.
A man told Jung about a Quaker who seemed a perfectly good man.
So where was his shadow?
Jung asked about his wife.
Apparently she was perfect, too.
His children? “Oh,” said the inquirer, “one of them is a thief.”
In Jung’s words, “He went out wagging his tail.”
The second story concerned a theologian without a shadow, but it turned out that his son was “getting into the way of forging checks.” J
ung’s comment was, “The son assumes the father’s shadow. His father was stealing, you see, from God his sins.
The son was punished for the father’s sins not rendered to God.”
RENEE BRAND (SAN FRANCISCO):
The year was 1955, in the fall.
We were stepping from the living-room where tea had been served into the garden of 228 Seestrasse in Kusnacht.
Ten students from the Institute had been delegated to celebrate with Jung the planting of a Ginkgo biloba tree given to him for his eightieth birthday.
We stood in a semicircle by the place chosen for the tree while two gardeners started digging the hole.
Between them they fell into an alternating rhythm, accentuated by the spades breaking up the earth and the thud of throwing it out.
Jung was giving directions about the width and breadth of the hole, concerned that the roots should get enough space.
As I looked at him in the outdoor light of the afternoon, he suddenly seemed less sturdy, his frame less powerful—different than in his study at my recent visit, or even a few minutes ago at tea.
He looked all of his eighty years and very frail, with the frailty of old age.
With the shock of this realization, a sinister crescendo seemed to get into the rhythm of spades going in and earth thumping down.
Irrationally, it seemed that this hole was not for planting a tree, that these were not gardeners, they were grave-diggers.
The feeling about death was so strong that the scene became unbearable, and I stood in utter helplessness, wishing and praying for it all to stop.
Suddenly I heard Jung saying: “This has nothing to do with death. They are planting new life.”
He was looking straight in front of him, addressing no one.
Having my unspoken thought picked out of my head and answered was so startling that the irrational panic turned into a numinous experience.
ELIZABETH OSTERMAN (SAN FRANCISCO):
The heavy wooden door on which I had just knocked was set in a thick stone wall which seemed solidly part of the earth.
This was the entryway to the medieval-looking, secluded country place which Jung had built by hand through the years at Bollingen on the shore of Lake Zurich.
On my way to the Aegean Islands on this first trip away from the western United States, I had stopped in Switzerland for this visit.
Leaving the highway some distance from the town of Rapperswil, I had traversed a footpath which skirted a dense wood at the rear of a complex of walls and stone towers.
A few feet away to my left the lake water lapped among the reeds.
The July sun warmed the rain dampened earth, and a soft haze covered the distant mountains.
As I stood waiting before the door I was somewhat nervous, but was reassured by sounds of wood-chopping coming from behind the wall.. . . Now the door opened, and I was invited into the inner garden by his household companion.
There, beyond a second doorway, was the strong-bodied, white-haired, eighty-three-year-old man in his green workman’s apron, seated before the chopping block.
Behind him was a large square stone carved by him in earlier years when he was attempting to give form to his emerging realizations.
I felt as though I had stepped out of time and had entered into an inner world where everything was relevant, unhurried, natural.
At the water’s edge we settled into comfortable chairs, and through that afternoon the conversation wandered back into the prehistory of the earth, into the depths of the psyche, into the wonders of nature around us.
Once I looked at my watch and he said, “Never mind a watch; I’ll tell you.”
He returned frequently to the theme of what man is doing to himself by living in a fast and meaningless way, how he has become estranged from himself.
With immediacy and great simplicity he said: “We must give time to nature so that she may be a mother to us. I have found the way to live here as part of nature, to live in my own time. People in the modern world are always living so that something better is to happen tomorrow, always in the future, so they don’t think to live their lives. They are up in the head. When a man begins to know himself, to discover the roots of his past in himself, it is a new way of life.”
The force that emanated from this man sitting beside me was amazing. He seemed at once powerful and simple; real, the way the sky and rocks and trees and water around him were real.
He seemed to be all there in his own nature, but what made it so exciting was his awareness of it.
A knock on the door broke into the conversation; the taxi man had arrived. Jung remarked, “That says it.” It was time to leave. ~Carl Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, Pages 156-163
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