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Carl Jung: Abeg: “Ostasien Ddenkt Anders”


The Symbolic Life: Miscellaneous Writings (The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Volume 18)

The author of this book, the entire text of which unfortunately I have not seen, has talked to me about her project and about her ideas with regard to the difference between Eastern and Western psychology.


Thus I was able to note many points of agreement between us, and also a competence on her part to make judgments which is possible only to one who is a European and at the same time possesses the invaluable advantage of having spent more than half a lifetime in the Far East, in close contact with the mind of Asia.


Without such first-hand experience it would be a hopeless task to approach the problem of Eastern psychology.


One must be deeply and directly jrnoj/e^^ almost say by the incomprehensibility, of the Eastern psyche.


Decisive experiences of this kind cannot be transmitted through books; they come only from living in immediate, daily relationship with the people.


Having had unusual advantages in this respect, the author is in a position to discuss what is perhaps the basic, and is in any case an extremely important, question of the difference between Eastern and Western psychology.


I have often found myself in situations where I had to take account of this difference, as in the study of Chinese and East Indian literary texts and in the psychological

treatment of Asiatics.


Among my patients, I am sorry to say, I have never had a Chinese or a Japanese, nor have I had the privilege of visiting either China or Japan.


But at least I have had the opportunity to experience with painful clarity the insufficiency of my knowledge.


In this field we still have everything to learn, and whatever we learn will be to our immense advantage.


Knowledge of Eastern psychology provides the indispensable basis for a critique of Western psychology, as indeed for any objective understanding of it.


And in view of the truly lamentable psychic situation of the West, the importance of a deeper understanding of our Occidental prejudices can hardly be overestimated.


Long experience with the products of the unconscious has taught me that there is a very remarkable parallelism between the specific character of the Western unconscious psyche and the “manifest” psyche of the East.


Since our experience shows that the biological role which the unconscious plays in the psychic economy is compensatory to consciousness, one can venture the hypothesis

that the mind of the Far East is related to our Western consciousness as the unconscious is, that is, as the left hand to the right.


Our unconscious has, fundamentally, a tendency toward wholeness, as I believe I have been able to prove.


One would be quite justified in saying the same thing about the Eastern psyche, but with this difference : that in the East it is consciousness that is characterized

by an apperception of totality, while the West has developed a differentiated and therefore necessarily one-sided attention or awareness.


With it goes the Western concept of causality, a principle of cognition irreconcilably opposed to the principle of synchronicity which forms the basis and the source of Eastern “incomprehensibility,” and explains as well the “strangeness” of the unconscious with which we in the West are confronted.


The understanding of synchronicity is the key which unlocks the door to the Eastern apperception of totality that-we find so mysterious.


The author seems to have devoted particular attention to just this point.


I do not hesitate to say that I look forward to the publication of her book with the greatest interest.  ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 654-655