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C. G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters (Bollingen Series XCVII)


Georges Duplain: I am astonished that you should be willing to see a journalist when so many of your own medical followers cannot get near you!

Dr. Jung: I am astonished, too, to see you here; that a journalist should want to see me—ever since the busi- ness of the flying
saucers arose, they have been trying to pass me off as senile! But I must say that the French Swiss behave relatively well.
I have met with a surprising understanding on your part.

As far as the flying saucers go I haven’t much to add.

I have received quantities of new documents since my book appeared; ’they don’t make the matter any clearer but they
show more and more how important it is.

Oh, there’s an immense amount to this phenomenon.

Georges Duplain: You speak of a change of era, of a new Platonic month, of the passage into another sign of the zodiac.

What do you mean by that, what reality do such constellations have?

Dr. Jung: People don’t like you to talk about that, you will get yourself laughed at. Nobody has read Plato—you haven’t either.
Yet he is one of those who have come closest to the truth.

The influence of the constellations, the zodiac, they exist; you cannot explain why, it’s a “Just-So Story,” that proves itself by a thousand signs.

But men always go from one extreme to the other, either they don’t believe, or they are credulous, any knowledge or faith can be ridiculed on the basis of what small minds do with it.

That’s stupid and, above all, it’s dangerous. The great astrological periods do exist.
Taurus and Gemini were prehistoric periods, we don’t know much about them. But Aries the Ram is closer; Alexander the Great was one of its manifestations. That was from 2000 B.C. to the beginning of the Christian era.

With that era we came into the sign of the Fishes.

It was not I who invented all the fish symbols there are in Christianity: the fisher of men, the pisciculi christianorum.

Christianity has marked us deeply because it incarnates the symbols of the era so well.

It goes wrong in so far as it believes itself to be the only truth; when what it is is one of the great expressions of truth in our time.

To deny it would be to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Georges Duplain: What comes next?

Dr. Jung: Aquarius, the Water-pourer, the falling of water from one place to another.

And the little fish’ receiving the water from the pitcher of the Water-pourer, and whose principal star is Fomal- haut, which means the “fish’s mouth.”

In our era the fish is the content; with the Water-pourer, he becomes the container. It’s a very strange symbol.
I don’t dare interpret it.

So far as one can tell, it is the image of a great man approaching.

One finds, besides, a lot of things about this in the Bible itself: there are more things in the Bible than the theologians can admit.

It’s a matter of experience that the symbolism changes from one sign to another, and there is the risk that this passage will be all the more difficult for the men of today and tomorrow because they no longer believe in it, no longer want to be conscious of it.

Why, when Pope Pius XII in one of his last discourses deplored that the world was no longer conscious enough of the presence of angels, he was saying to his faithful Catholics in Christian terms exactly what I am trying to say in terms of psychology to those who stand more chance of understanding this language than any other.

Georges Duplain: But what recommendations can you make for the passage that is about to take place, whose difficulties you fear?

Dr. Jung: A spirit of greater openness towards the unconscious, an increased attention to dreams, a sharper sense of the totality of the physical and the psychic, of their indissolubility; a livelier taste for self-knowledge. Better established mental hygiene, if you want to put it that way.

Georges Duplain: The religions have tried to be this, but the result is not entirely satisfactory, don’t you agree?

Dr. Jung: What is very important is to exist, and that’s rarer than one realizes.

To have a daily task and to accomplish it; and at the same time to attend to what is going on, inside oneself as well as outside, conscious of all life’s forms, all its expressions.

To follow the major rules, but also to give free rein to the least familiar aspects of oneself. Drawing, and the fantasies and visions that it brought about, was a valuable thing.

Now we take photographs, and that doesn’t fill the same need at all.

In return, the painters recognize no limits to the most impassioned fantasy.

They are becoming specialists in certain needs for expression; but all of us have these needs, we can’t divide up the personality’s inside work the way we think we can divide its outside activity.

That breaks up something essential in it and causes an appalling psychic illness.

In writing about flying saucers, I explained why men are so attentive to anything resembling a circle or a ball, the symbols of unity, of the totality of a person’s being, of what I have called the self.

There is a terrible spiritual famine in our world, but there are also people who don’t want to be beak-fed or fed with infant’s

Georges Duplain: May I ask you to repeat the principal points of your system which may assist man to dis- cover his totality and allay his spiritual famine, when he no longer adheres to the words of Christianity?

Carl Jung: In the first place, I have no system, no doctrine, nothing of that kind. I am an empiricist, with no metaphysical
views at all.

I have only hypotheses.

From them I have gained some basic principles.

There is the self, which is the totality of one’s being, known and unknown, conscious and unconscious, as opposed to the distinction between physical and psychic.

Then there are the archetypes, those images of instinct.

For instinct is not just an outward thrust, it also takes part in the representation of forms. The animal, for example, has a certain idea of the plant, since he recognizes it.

Our instincts do not express themselves only in our actions and reactions, but also in the way we formulate what we imagine.

Instinct is not only biological, it is also, you might say, spiritual.

And it always repeats certain forms which can be studied down the ages among all peoples. These are the archetypes.
The crossing of a river, now, that is an archetypal situation. It’s an important moment, a risk.

There is danger in the water, on the banks.

Not for nothing did Christianity invent great St. Christopher, the giant who carried the infant Jesus through the water.

Today men don’t have that experience very often, or others of that sort either.

I remember river crossings in Africa with crocodiles, and unknown tribes on the other side; one feels that one’s destiny —human destiny, almost—is at stake.

Every man has his own way of approaching the crossing, you see.

And think of King Albrecht’s death near Wettingen, too: the knights were hesitant, not very determined, one can’t be at all sure that they would have attacked the king just anywhere.

But they surprised him in the middle of the ford, in the place where fate strikes—and jumped at the chance.

There is also the collective unconscious, that immense treasury, that great reservoir, whence mankind draws the
images, the forces, which it translates into very different languages, but whose common source is being found out more clearly all the time.

So many coincidences come from there.

Georges Duplain: Is your explanation of man and the world understandable to simple people or reserved for the intellectual elite?

Dr. Jung: There are two distinct things: the use of psychotherapy is reserved for medical specialists—not everyone can fool around with that—but what you call the “explanation” reaches a lot more people than I would have thought possible myself.

I always remember a letter I received one morning, a poor scrap of paper, really, from a woman who wanted to see me just once in her life.

The letter made a very strong impression on me, I am not quite sure why.

I invited her to come and she came. She was very poor—poor intellectually too. I don’t believe she had ever finished primary school.

She kept house for her brother; they ran a little newsstand.

I asked her kindly if she really understood my books which she said she had read.

And she replied in this extraordinary way, “Your books are not books, Herr Professor, they are bread.”

And the little travelling salesman of women’s things, who stopped me in the street and looked at me with immense
eyes, saying, “Are you really the man who writes those books? Are you truly the one who writes about these things no one knows?”

Yes, in the long run I am very optimistic.

The people do follow it. In the French part of Switzerland the first edition of my L’Homme a la decouverte de son lime’ was sold out in three months.

Georges Duplain: Who reads it? Dr. Jung: Not the professors.

Georges Duplain: How did you arrive at your global concept of the human being, of the totality? Dr. Jung: Empiricism, I tell you, observation.

One must admit that the psychological fact is everything.

Perception makes reality psychic, we live in the sort of a world-image that our senses and intelligence can per- ceive; we do not know true reality, in so far as all of it is not conceivable to us.

Georges Duplain: But we have quantities of signs of the reality beyond. Dr. Jung: We should try to understand what is beyond us.
That is accomplished by stages.

A whole evolution was needed before the idea of the unconscious was accepted. Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Pierre Janet, Charcot, Freud: they were so many steps. The conjunction of several lines of study in one man was also needed.

I have had the good luck to be able to study all my life.

My father was a theologian, specializing in oriental languages; he passed on a bit of his gift for language to me.

I studied the literature, I studied medieval and ancient alchemy.

Comparative religion, of course, and, to begin with, philosophy at the same time as medicine.

All of that was necessary to work out the line of thought and the mental attitude that have led me to uncover certain laws.

And don’t forget my travels, particularly in India and Africa, where one meets men of other epochs.

By dint of observation, of discovery, one notes relationships, resemblances, coincidences, and one tries to get back to their common source, for there certainly must be one.

It’s the sum of experience, that’s all.

Let me tell you a story which happened a long while ago, to show you how empiricism leads to certain discoveries.

The doctor of a small town in Canton Solothurn had sent me a young patient who suffered from incurable insomnia.

She was pining away from lack of sleep and narcotics.

He could think of no way to help her except hypnotism or this new psychoanalysis that they were beginning to talk about.

But she came to me.

She was a teacher, twenty-five years old, of a very simple family, who had successfully completed her studies, but who lived in constant fear of making a mistake, of not being worthy of her position.

She had gotten into an unbearable state of spasmodic tension. Clearly, what she needed was psychic relaxation.
But we did not know much about all those ideas then.

There was no one in the locality where she lived who could handle her case, and she could not come to Zurich for treatment.

I had to do, as best I could, whatever was possible in an hour.

I tried to explain to her that relaxation was necessary, that I, for example, found relaxation by sailing on the lake, by letting
myself go with the wind; that this was good for one, necessary for everybody. But I could see by her eyes that she didn’t understand.
She got it intellectually, that’s as far as it went, though. Reason had no effect.
Then, as I talked of sailing and of the wind, I heard the voice of my mother singing a lullaby to my little sister as she used to do when I was eight or nine, a story of a little girl in a little boat, on the Rhine, with little fishes.

And I began, almost without doing it on purpose, to hum what I was telling her about the wind, the waves, the sailing,
and relaxation, to the tune of the little lullaby.

I hummed those sensations, and I could see that she was “enchanted.” But the hour came to an end, and I had to send her away brusquely.
I knew nothing more about her.

I had forgotten her name and that of her physician. But it was a story that haunted me.
Years later, at a congress, a stranger introduced himself to me as the doctor from Solothurn and reminded me

of the story of the young girl.

“Certainly I remember the case,” I said. “I should have liked so much to know what became of her.”

“But,” he replied in surprise, “she came back cured, as you know, and I was the one who always wanted to know what you had done.

Because all she could tell me was some story about sailing and wind, and I never could get her to tell me what you really did.

I think she doesn’t remember.

Of course, I know it’s impossible that you only hummed her a story about a boat.” How was I to explain to him that I had simply listened to something within myself? I had been quite at sea.

How was I to tell him that I had sung her a lullaby with my mother’s voice? Enchantment like that is the oldest form of medicine.

But it all happened outside of my reason: it was not until later that I thought about it rationally and tried to arrive at the laws behind it.

She was cured by the grace of God.

Georges Duplain: How can you speak of the grace of God? Dr. Jung: And why not?

A good dream, for example, that’s grace. The dream is in essence a gift.

The collective unconscious, it’s not for you, or me, it’s the invisible world, it’s the great spirit.

It makes little difference what I call it: God, Tao, the Great Voice, the Great Spirit.

But for people of our time God is the most comprehensible name with which to designate the Power beyond us.

The images of God—it’s an immense story.

I remember an African tribe whose members greeted the first rays of the sun by spitting in their hands and turning them towards it.

That’s classic: since breath is the soul, the saliva which accompanies the breath is the substance of the soul.

What that gesture means exactly is: “My God, I offer you my soul.” I tried to find out if they knew the meaning of their gesture.

No, the young did not know, nor the fathers.

But the grandfathers knew, it is they who guard the secrets.

And elsewhere you see this gesture in the carved dog-headed baboons of Abu Simbel.

I watched the tribesmen and when I thought I had understood them I asked, “Your god Mungu, he is the sun?” Homeric gales of laughter from the tribesmen.

This poor imbecile of a white man, imagining that we worship that ball of light and heat!

I looked closer. The same rite also greeted the new moon.

So, in the end, I understood their god: it was the moment when darkness changes into light, not the sun it- self, but its appearing.”

There is Horus, too, among the Egyptians.

There are so many things and they all hang together.

The French writer Colette once said to her husband about some bit of animal behavior, “Maurice, there’s just one animal, just one animal!”

I wasn’t familiar with that but it’s exactly the same idea, the same sense of totality, expressed in the language of someone very close to the animal world.

There are so many possible forms of the truth.

We must find simple words for the great truths; we must try to approach the living truth behind things, it’s mankind’s oldest effort.

In our time, it’s the intellect that is making darkness, because we’ve let it take too big a place. Consciousness discriminates, judges, analyzes, and emphasizes the contradictions.

It’s necessary work up to a point.

But analysis kills and synthesis brings to life.

We must find out how to get everything back into connection with everything else.

We must resist the vice of intellectualism, and get it understood that we cannot only understand.

Two or three more centuries will go by before the new era I spoke of in connection with the flying saucers.

A lot will still have to happen to mankind.

Many things will have to change before the new style comes to birth, the new formula for the realization of humanity.

I remember a marvellous sight I beheld one evening in India at the Darjeeling observatory.

Sikkim was already in shadow, the mountains blue to about four thousand meters, violet to about seven thou- sand.

And there in the middle of that ring of mountains was Kanchenjunga in all its glory, resplendent as a ruby. It was the lotus with the jewel without price in its center.
And all the savants and scientists, lost in wonder at this spectacle, said “OM” without realizing it.

That’s the primal word, the sound that passes from mother to child, and what some primitives say when they approach a stranger.

And after the learned men had regained consciousness, they felt the need of a word and they asked me to re- cite part of Faust.

Georges Duplain: Faust—you know how Goethe spoke of that work, of the research into the essential that it meant? As “das Hauptgeschaft,” the main thing, the essential.

Dr. Jung: Man has need of the word, but number is a much more important thing. In essence, number is sacred.
Lots of important things might be said about it.

The quaternity, above all, is an essential archetype. The square, the cross.
The squaring of the circle by the alchemists.

The cross in the circle, or, for Christians, Christ in “glory.”

It is not I who have made up all that. It exists, and it’s important.

Georges Duplain: What can men do, and especially we Swiss, to prepare ourselves and help everyone prepare himself to face a future already disturbing in its immediacy?

Dr. Jung: There is no entirely simple, thoroughly rational recipe.

Most of us are too academic-minded to come face to face with living reality in its wholeness, its totality.

We prefer to deny it because that’s easier, and because we can find such a lot of good, honest, reasonable arguments for doing so.

What would you have me do?

I say what I know, what I believe, how I see things.

But I know very well that truth is ineffable and all our approaches to it, gross. Just the same, we’re moving ahead.
But it’s such a long story.

In the case of Switzerland there are some profound symbols which are very strange: the union of white and red in
our flag, for example, is a “sign” of the reconciliation of opposites.

I pointed out in my book on “flying objects” that the white star on American airplanes and the red star on Soviet planes also show this opposition of masculine and feminine colors.

In Switzerland this symbolism may be said to point to their reconciliation, since the two colors are conjoined.

And besides there is also (on our flag) the cross, which is the sign of the quaternity already to be found in the center of Switzerland, where the rivers take their rise, as though the play of nature had marked out that quaternity.

If we were more conscious in our country, we might think more of this; we might allow these great symbols to penetrate us.

But there is no entirely simple, thoroughly rational recipe: though the Swiss want that above all.

The sort of things that we have been talking about are, without doubt, harder to explain to the Swiss than to other people.

We are extremely materialistic in the broadest sense of the term. Feet on the ground, heads not too high in the sky!

We believe in nothing but what we see, what we touch, what we know.

The Swiss is much too literal-minded to come face to face with live reality in its wholeness, its totality.

He prefers to deny it because that is easier, and because such a lot of good, honest, reasonable arguments can be found to support his

What would you have me do?

I say what I know, what I believe, how I see things.

But I know very well that the Truth is ineffable, and all our approaches to it are gross. Just the same we are moving ahead.
But it is such a long story.

There is one thing that counts, though: we’re beginning to look at history in the light of perspectives gained from the study of the psyche and of human behavior.

And not only history but economics, too.

Men like Professor Karl Schmid” at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, or Professor Baler” and his Insti- tute for Economic Research, have a very extensive acquaintance with psychology; their better knowledge of man and what motivates him should
permit a better understanding of political and economic conditions.

With time and accumulated experience, we shall not only understand the past better, but maybe we shall also learn how to avoid the most dangerous situations in the future, to forestall political crises just as we now begin to know how to forestall economic crises.

That would be progress, if men were wise enough.

But remember what the Pope said: “The world should be more conscious of the presence of angels.”

There was a man who was conscious of what the unconscious brings us, who was in contact with the living truth. Carl Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, Pages 410-423