Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume 2, 1951-1961
To Miguel Serrano
Dear Sir, 14 September 1960
Your letter of May 7th, 1960, is so vast that I don’t know where to begin answering you.
The way towards a solution of our contemporary problems I seem to propose is in reality the process I have been forced into as a modern individual confronted with the social, moral, intellectual, and religious insufficiencies of our time.
I recognize the fact that I can give only one answer, namely mine, which is certainly not valid universally, but may be sufficient for a restricted number of contemporary individuals inasmuch as my main tenet contains nothing more than: Follow that will and that way which experience confirms to be your own, i.e., the true expression of your individuality.
As nobody can become aware of his individuality unless he is closely and responsibly related to his fellow beings, he is not withdrawing to an egoistic desert when he tries to find himself.
He can only discover himself when he is deeply and unconditionally related to some, and generally related to a great many, individuals with whom he has a chance to compare and from whom he is able to discriminate himself.
If somebody in supreme egoism should withdraw to the solitude of Mt. Everest, he would discover a good deal about the amenities of his lofty abode but as good as nothing about himself, i.e., nothing he could not have known before.
Man in general is in such a situation in so far as he is an animal gifted with self-reflection but without the possibility of comparing himself to another species of animal equally equipped with consciousness.
He is a top animal exiled on a tiny speck of planet in the Milky Way.
That is the reason why he does not know himself; he is cosmically isolated.
He can only state with certainty that he is no monkey, no bird, no fish, and no tree. But what he positively is, remains obscure.
Mankind today is dreaming of interstellar communications.
Could we contact the population of another star, we might find a means to learn something essential about ourselves.
Incidentally we are just living in a time when homo homini lupus threatens to become an awful reality, and when we are in dire need to know beyond ourselves.
The science fiction about travelling to the moon or to Venus and Mars and the lore about Flying Saucers are effects of our dimly felt but none the less intense need to reach a new physical as well as spiritual basis beyond our actual conscious world.
Philosophers and psychologists of the XIXth and XXth centuries have tried to provide a terra nova in ourselves, that is, the unconscious.
This is indeed a discovery which could give us a new orientation in many respects.
Whereas our fictions about Martians and Venusians are based upon nothing but mere speculations, the unconscious is within the reach of human experience.
It is almost tangible and thus more or less familiar to us, but on the other hand a strange existence difficult to understand.
If we may assume that what I call archetypes is a verifiable hypothesis, then we are confronted with autonomous animalia gifted with a sort of consciousness and psychic life of their own, which we can observe, at least partially, not only in living men but also in the historic course of many centuries.
Whether we call them gods, demons, or illusions, they exist and function and are born anew with every generation.
They have an enormous influence on individual as well as collective life, and despite their familiarity they are curiously non-human.
This latter characteristic is the reason why they were called gods and demons in the past and why they are understood in our “scientific” age as the psychic manifestations of the instincts, inasmuch as they represent habitual and universally occurring attitudes and thought-forms.
They are basic forms, but not the manifest, personified, or otherwise concretized images.
They have a high degree of autonomy, which does not disappear when the manifest images change.
When f.i. the belief in the god Wotan vanishes and nobody thinks of him anymore, the phenomenon, called Wotan originally, remains; nothing changes but its name, as National Socialism has demonstrated on a grand scale.
A collective movement consists of millions of individuals, each of whom shows the symptoms of Wotanism and proves thereby that Wotan in reality never died but has retained his original vitality and autonomy.
Our consciousness only imagines that it has lost its gods; in reality they are still there and it only needs a certain general condition in order to bring them back in full force.
This condition is a situation in which a new orientation and adaptation are needed.
If this question is not clearly understood and no proper answer given, the archetype which expresses this situation steps in and brings back the reaction which has always characterized such times, in this case
As only certain individuals are capable of listening and of accepting good advice, it is most unlikely that anybody would pay attention to the statement of a warning voice that Wotan is here again.
They would rather fall headlong into the trap.
As we have largely lost our gods and the actual condition of our religion does not offer an efficacious answer to the world situation in general and to the “religion” of Communism in particular, we are very much in the same predicament as the pre-National-Socialistic Germany of the twenties, i.e., we are apt to undergo the risk of a further but this time worldwide “Wotanistic experiment.
This means mental epidemics and war.
One does not realize yet that when an archetype is unconsciously constellated and not consciously understood, one is possessed by it and forced to its fatal goal.
Wotan then represents and formulates our ultimate principle of behaviour, but this obviously does not solve our problem.
The fact that an archaic god formulates and expresses the dominant of our behaviour means that we ought to find a new religious attitude, a new realization of our dependence upon superior dominants.
I don’t know how this could be possible without a renewed self-understanding of man, which unavoidably has to begin with the individual.
We have the means to compare man with other psychic animalia and to give him a new setting which throws an objective light upon his existence, namely as a being operated and manoeuvred by archetypal forces instead of his “free will,” that is, his arbitrary egoism and his limited consciousness.
He should l earn that he is not the master in his own house and that he should carefully study the other side of his psychic world which seems to be the true ruler of his fate.
I know this is merely a “pious wish” the fulfillment of which demands centuries, but in each aeon there are at least a few individuals who understand what man’s real task consists of, and keep its tradition
for future generations and a time when insight has reached a deeper and more general level.
First the way of a few will be changed and in a few generations there will be more.
It is most unlikely that the general mind in this or even in the next generation will undergo a noticeable change, as at present man seems to be quite incapable of realizing that under a certain aspect he is a stranger to himself.
But whoever is capable of such insight, no matter how isolated he is, should be aware of the law of synchronicity.
As the old Chinese saying goes: “The right man sitting in his house and thinking the right thought will be heard a 100 miles away.”
Neither propaganda nor exhibitionist confessions are needed.
If the archetype, which is universal, i.e., identical with itself always and anywhere, is properly dealt with in one place only, it is influenced as a whole, i.e., simultaneously and everywhere.
Thus an old alchemist gave the following consolation to one of his disciples: “No matter how isolated you are and how lonely you feel, if you do your work truly and conscientiously, unknown friends will come and seek you.”
It seems to me that nothing essential has ever been lost, because its matrix is ever-present within us and from this it can and will be reproduced if needed.
But only those can recover it who have learned the art of averting their eyes from the blinding light of current opinions, and close their ears to the noise of ephemeral slogans.
You rightly say with Multatuli, the Dutch philosopher: “Nothing is quite true” and should add with him : “And even this is not quite true.”
The intellect can make its profound statement that there is no absolute Truth.
But if somebody loses his money, his money is lost and this is as good as an absolute Truth, which means that he will not be consoled by intellectual profundity.
There is a thing like convincing Truth but we have lost sight of it, owing the loss mostly to our gambling intellect, to which we sacrifice our moral certainty and gain thereby nothing but an inferiority-complex, which-by the way-characterizes Western politics.
To be is to do and to make.
But as our existence does not depend solely upon our ego-will, so our doing and making depend largely upon the dominants of the unconscious.
I am not only willing out of my ego, but I am also made to be creative and active, and to be quiet is only good for someone who has been too-or perversely-active.
Otherwise it is an unnatural artifice which unnecessarily interferes with our nature.
We grow up, we blossom and we wilt, and death is ultimate quietude-or so it seems.
But much depends upon the spirit, i.e., the meaning or significance, in which we do and make or-in another word-live.
This spirit expresses itself or manifests itself in a Truth, which is indubitably and absolutely convincing to the whole of my being in spite of the fact that the intellect in its endless ramblings will continue forever with its “But, ifs,” which however should not be suppressed but rather welcomed as occasions to improve the Truth.
You have chosen two good representatives of East and West.
Krishnamurti is all irrational, leaving solutions to quietude, i.e., to themselves as a part of Mother Nature.
Toynbee on the other hand believes in making and moulding opinions.
Neither believes in the blossoming and unfolding of the individual as the experimental, doubtful and bewildering work of the living God, to whom we have to lend our eyes and ears and our discriminating mind, to which end they were incubated for millions of years and brought to light about 6ooo years ago, viz. at the moment when the historical continuity of consciousness became visible through the invention of script.
We are sorely in need of a Truth or a self-understanding similar to that of Ancient Egypt, which I have found still living with the Taos Pueblos.
Their chief of ceremonies, old Ochwiah Biano (Mountain Lake) said to me: “We are the people who live on the roof of the world, we are the sons of the Sun, who is our father.
We help him daily to rise and to cross over the sky.
We do this not only for ourselves, but for the Americans also.
Therefore they should not interfere with our religion.
But if they continue to do so [by misssionaries and hinder us, then they will see that in ten years the Sun will rise no more.”
He correctly assumes that their day, their light, their consciousness, and their meaning will die when destroyed by the narrow-mindedness of American rationalism, and the same will happen to the whole world when subjected to such treatment.
That is the reason why I tried to find the best truth and the clearest light I could attain to, and since I have reached my highest point I can’t transcend any more, I am guarding my light and my treasure, convinced that nobody would gain and I myself would be badly, even hopelessly injured, if I should lose it.
It is most precious not only to me, but above all to the darkness of the creator, who needs man to illuminate His creation.
If God had foreseen his world, it would be a mere senseless machine and man’s existence a useless freak.
My intellect can envisage the latter possibility, but the whole of my being says “No” to it.
C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 592-597