Some Excerpts from Memories, Dreams and Reflections:
Jung regarded himself primarily as a doctor, a psychiatrist. [p. x]
On the other hand, my recollection of ‘inner’ experiences has grown all the more vivid and colorful. This poses a problem of description which I scarcely feel able to cope with, at least for the present. Unfortunately, I cannot, for these reasons, fulfill your request, greatly as I regret my inability to do so. . . .”
This letter characterizes Jung’s attitude. Although he had already “resolved to take the plunge,” the letter ends with a refusal. To the day of this death the conflict between affirmation and rejection was never entirely settled. There always remained a residue of skepticism, a shying away from his future readers. He did not regard these memoirs as a scientific work, nor even as a book by himself. Rather, he always spoke and wrote of it as “Aniela Jaffé’s project,” to which he had made contributions. At his specific request it is not to be included in his Collected Works. [p. ix]
“My life has been permeated and held together by one idea and one goal: namely, to penetrate into the secret of the personality. Everything can be explained from this central point, and all my works relate to this one theme.” [p. 206]
In those times the omnipresent, crushing power of Rome, embodied in the divine Caesar, had created a world where countless individuals, indeed whole peoples, were robbed of their cultural independence and of their spiritual autonomy. Today, individuals and cultures are faced with a similar threat, namely of being swallowed up in the mass. [p. 212]
Blind acceptance never leads to a solution; at best it leads only to a standstill and is paid for heavily in the next generation. [p. 215]
The less we understand of what our fathers and forefathers sought, the less we understand ourselves, and thus we help with all our might to rob the individual of his roots and his guiding instincts, so that he becomes a particle in the mass, ruled only by what Nietzsche called the spirit of gravity. [p. 236]
In reality a darkness altogether different from natural night broods over the land. It is the psychic primal night which is the same today as it has been for countless millions of years. The longing for light is the longing for consciousness. [p. 269]
As a rule, however, the individual is so unconscious that he altogether fails to see his own potentialities for decision. Instead he is constantly and anxiously looking around for external rules and regulations which can guide him in his perplexity. Aside from general human inadequacy, a good deal of the blame for this rests with education, which promulgates the old generalizations and says nothing about the secrets of private experience. Thus, every effort is made to teach idealistic beliefs or conduct which people know in their hearts they can never live up to, and such ideals are preached by officials who know that they themselves have never lived up to these high standards and never will. What is more, nobody ever questions the value of this kind of teaching.
Therefore the individual who wishes to have an answer to the problem of evil, as it is posed today, has need, first and foremost, of self-knowledge, that is, the utmost possible knowledge of his own wholeness. He must know relentlessly how much good he can do, and what crimes he is capable of, and must beware of regarding the one as real and the other as illusion. Both are elements within his nature, and both are bound to come to light in him, should he wish—as he ought—to live without self-deception or self-delusion.
Today we need psychology for reasons that involve our very existence. We stand perplexed and stupefied before the phenomenon of Nazism and Bolshevism because we know nothing about man, or at any rate have only a lopsided and distorted picture of him. If we had self-knowledge, that would not be the case. We stand face to face with the terrible question of evil and do not even know what is before us, let alone what to pit against it. And even if we did know, we still could not understand “how it could happen here.” With glorious naïveté a statesman comes out with the proud declaration that he has no “imagination for evil.” Quite right: we have no imagination for evil, but evil has us in its grip. [pp. 330-331]
There is no better means of intensifying the treasured feeling of individuality than the possession of a secret which the individual is pledged to guard. The very beginnings of societal structures reveal the craving for secret organizations. When no valid secrets really exist, mysteries are invented or contrived to which privileged initiates are admitted. Such was the case with the Rosicrucians and many other societies. Among these pseudo-secrets there are—ironically—real secrets of which the initiates are entirely unaware—as, for example, in those societies which borrowed their “secret” primarily from the alchemical tradition.
The secret society is an intermediary stage on the way to individuation. The individual is still relying on a collective organization to effect his differentiation for him; that is, he has not yet recognized that it is really the individual’s task to differentiate himself from all the others and stand on his own feet. All collective identities, such as membership in organizations, support of “isms,” and so on, interfere with the fulfillment of this task. Such collective identities are crutches for the lame, shields for the timid, beds for the lazy, nurseries for the irresponsible; but they are equally shelters for the poor and weak, a home port for the shipwrecked, the bosom of a family for orphans, a land of promise for disillusioned vagrants and weary pilgrims, a herd and a safe fold for lost sheep, and a mother providing nourishment and growth. [pp. 342-343]