The Red Book (Philemon)

[Carl Jung on the need the Dead Souls have for the Living.]

Later, when I wrote the Septem Sermones ad Mortuos, once again it was the dead who addressed crucial questions to me.

They came so they said “back from Jerusalem, where they found not what they sought.”

This had surprised me greatly at the time, for according to the traditional views the dead are the possessors of great knowledge.

People have the idea that the dead know far more than we, for Christian doctrine teaches that in the hereafter we shall “see face to face.”

Apparently, however, the souls of the dead “know” only what they knew at the moment of death, and nothing beyond that.

Hence their endeavor to penetrate into life in order to share in the knowledge of men.

I frequently have a feeling that they are standing directly behind us, waiting to hear what answer we will give to them, and what answer to destiny.

It seems to me as if they were dependent on the living for receiving answers to their questions, that is, on those who have survived them and exist in a world of change: as if omniscience or, as I might put it, omni-consciousness, were not at their disposal, but could flow only into the psyche of the living, into a soul bound to a body.

The mind of the living appears, therefore, to hold an advantage over that of the dead in at least one point: in the capacity for attaining clear and decisive cognitions.

As I see it, the three-dimensional world in time and space is like a system of co-ordinates; what is here separated into ordinates and
abscissae may appear ”there,” in space-timelessness, as a primordial image with many aspects, perhaps as a diffuse cloud of cognition surrounding an archetype.

Yet a system of co-ordinates is necessary if any distinction of discrete contents is to be possible.

Any such operation seems to us unthinkable in a state of diffuse omniscience, or, as the case may be, of subjectless consciousness, with no spatio-temporal demarcations.

Cognition, like generation, presupposes an opposition, a here and there, an above and below, a before and after.

If there were to be a conscious existence after death, it would, so it seems to me, have to continue on the level of consciousness attained by humanity, which in any age has an upper though variable limit.

There are many human beings who throughout their lives and at the moment of death lag behind their own potentialities and even more important behind the knowledge which has been brought to consciousness by other human beings during their own lifetimes.

Hence their demand to attain in death that share of awareness which they failed to win in life.

I have come to this conclusion through observation of dreams about the dead ~Carl Jung, Memories Dreams and Reflections

Image: The Seven Sermons to the Dead – Septem Sermones ad Mortuos
Carl Gustav Jung, 1916