Mary S. Howells
When a great man dies, myths and legends begin to gather around him which are fascinating but seem to me undesirable, because the actual truth and the mystery of simplicity carry so much more meaning.
Therefore, I am choosing to write, not of his wisdom and priceless humor, but of the simplest things which to me are still poignant experiences.
After weeks of trying to shape life to my own idea of what I thought was reasonable and right, I sorrowfully acquiesced to fate, i.e., I renounced my ego drive. I was completely spent by strain and sadness.
As I was leaving his study at the end of a conference he said, “Remember, there is only one sorrow and one joy that goes round the world.”
These words have remained with me and have helped me to equalize what the Zen Buddhists call the buffetings of pleasure and pain.
The second incident occurred again as I was taking leave.
Following through on the thought of the hour, I said: “Do you then believe in free will?”
“Certainly I do,” he replied.
I, who was trained in obligation and duty, was dismayed and looked up for an explanation.
“Free will,” he said, “is doing gladly and freely that which one must do.”
One morning in 1929 as I waited for Dr. Jung to come up to his study, I noticed with deep concern that his usual light step was ponderous and slow.
I asked him if he were ill or very tired, and he said, “No …. Wilhelm has just died.”
Thinking that he might wish to be alone for the hour, I offered to leave.
“Oh, no,” he answered, “life goes right on.”
This was typical, for to him, there never seemed to be any beginning or any end-birth and death formed one continuous cycle.
My visits with Dr. Jung, in 1949 and 1955, were at Kusnacht, Zurich, in his wonderfully warm study, or in the lovely living room by the fire, or in the blossoming garden sloping down to the lake, or at Ascona, along the shores of the lake near his hotel.
My impression throughout all my meetings with Jung was of a man who met one as an equal.
To me, there is no greater tribute than to say that each time I experienced with him an “I-Thou” relationship.
Dr. Jung always respected the other person, and responded with greatness and with humility.
The directness of the meeting of the eyes and the smile around the mouth conveyed this dramatically.
From the first moment I met him-when he laughingly said, “Oh, I hear dark rumors about you and your work in the New Testament!”-until the last time I saw him-when he said, “Go on talking about the religious aspects of my work.
They are the most important parts”-! was involved in probing with him the whole religious process of individuation.
From these talks, and the very great deal that was said, two personal impressions stand out in my memory.
One is that this man did in fact accept the shadow, and that this acceptance brought problems and tensions but also aliveness, reality, integrity, and depth of being.
This inclusiveness, in the offering of one’s life to God, made him in what he was an effective exemplar of his belief that “incarnation” is not an idea but an achievement.
The second feeling that remains central out of my talks with him has to do with the controversy about where Dr. Jung stood personally as regards the relationship between the Self and the image of God, and as regards what he felt to be behind the image.
Regardless of what he tried to do in remaining scientific in his writing, when he talked with me face to face he left no doubt in my mind that when he spoke of God he was speaking of more than the archetype of God.
This is sharply emphasized in a statement he made after he had been talking most movingly about the use and need of prayer.
“Why do I have to talk about God?
Because He is everywhere! I am only the spoon in his kitchen.”
And what great things have been stirred by this spoon.
For the world, and for us personally.
We must take hold more firmly of our own spoons now that his is put away.
That we know much of how to do this, is our great debt to Dr. Jung. ~Mary S. Howells, J.E.T., Pages 119-121