C. G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters (Bollingen Series XCVII)
AT THE BASEL PSYCHOLOGY CLUB
On November i , 1958, Jung visited a small study group of the Psychologische Gesellschaft in Basel and an- swered a series of written questions, besides other questions spoken from the audience.
The event was tape-recorded and transcribed, and it is ﬁrst published here, in translation. Square brackets indicate lacunae in the text or conjectural readings.
Dr. Jung: I would like to thank you for crediting me with the ability to say something sensible in spite of my advanced years.
This cannot be taken entirely for granted since I tend for the most part to be very absent-minded.
Concentrating on your diﬃcult questions might thus end in the ﬁasco of my getting lost in some train of thought. So I beg you to call me to order if it seems to you that I am wandering oﬀ somewhere into the blue.
What is the criterion that indicates whether an archetypal dream or a vision should make an obligatory demand on an individual, or be evaluated only as an expression of a general contemporary event which the dreamer has picked up and which does not address him as an individual human being?
Dr. Jung: The desired criterion here is whether the dreamer feels numinously addressed by the dream. If not, then it doesn’t concern him—and it doesn’t concern me either.
At most it could initiate a theoretical bandying about of words, which of course is futile.
QUESTION 2: Can myth be equated with a collective dream? If so, are we to assume that a historical event either precedes or follows it?
Dr. Jung: Here you must deﬁne more precisely what you mean by myth. Strictly speaking, a myth is a historical document.
It is told, it is recorded, but it is not in itself a dream.
It is the product of an unconscious process in a particular social group, at a particular time, at a particular place.
This unconscious process can naturally be equated with a dream.
Hence anyone who “mythologizes,” that is, tells myths, is speaking out of this dream, and what is then retold or actually recorded is the myth.
But you cannot, strictly speaking, properly take the myth as a unique historical event like a dream, an individ- ual dream which has its place in a time sequence; you can do that only grosso modo.
You can say that at a particular place, at a particular time, a particular social group was caught up in such a process, and perhaps you can so to speak condense this process, covering it may be several thousand years, and say this epoch historically precedes such and such, and historically follows such and such.
This is a very troublesome undertaking.
What precedes the myth of Osiris, for example?
The Osiris myth goes back to approximately 4000 B.C. What preceded it?
We just don’t know. And what followed it?
The answer to this is of course much easier: the Osiris myth was followed by the Christ myth.
That is perfectly clear, even though theologians assure us that remarkably enough the mental outlook of the New Testament has nothing to do with Egyptology, or precious little; but it is simply that people know too little, that’s all.
I will give you only one example.
As you know, Christ’s genealogical table in the New Testament consists of 3 x 14 names.’
The number 14 is signiﬁcant, because at the great Heb-Sed festival of the ancient Egyptians, celebrated every thirty years to reaﬃrm Pharaoh as God’s son, statues of 14 of his ancestors were carried before him at the procession, and if 14 ancestors couldn’t be found, some invented ones were added—there had to be 14 of them.’
Well, in the case of God’s son Christ, who was of course inﬁnitely more exalted than Pharaoh, there had to be 3 x 14 generations, and that is a Trishagion, the well-known triple formula for “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Sabaoth.”
This triple repetition is simply an expression of the numinosity of the “Thrice Holy.” Here, then, we have one such trace [of Egyptian inﬂuence].
If you carefully study the statements about Christ that have been handed down historically, you will ﬁnd they are mythological statements intimately connected with the myth of Osiris.
That is why Christianity spread into Egypt without meeting the slightest resistance.
The country was Christianized in no time because all the necessary precedents already existed.
Take for example the ﬁsh, the ﬁsh attribute of Christ: it was swallowed by the Egyptians without question be- cause they already had a day on which a certain ﬁsh might be eaten and on other days not.
All this quite apart from the spiritual content of the Osiris myth.
Now it is the case with most myths, when you examine them more closely, that the historical event can be es- tablished post festum but not ante festum, because the more numinous these mythological statements are, the further they recede into the dim bygone of human history.
We at any rate are in the fortunate position of late epigoni, who, looking back on three Platonic months, three aeons of conscious history, can demonstrate that these myths form a continuity.
Thus the Osiris myth was clearly superseded by the Christ myth. This is one of the ﬁnest examples of mythological continuity.
It is as though in the course of the millennia slow upheavals took place in the unconscious, each new aeon be- ing as it were ushered in by a new myth.
The myth is not new, it is age-old, but a new version, a new edition of it, a new interpretation characterizes the new epoch.
That is why, for the ancients, the transition from one age to another was an important event.
For instance Hammurabi, the famous Babylonian lawgiver, felt he was the Lord of a new aeon; he lived around 2000 B.C.
That is roughly the time when the Jewish tradition began.
Think, also, of the Augustan Age another two thousand years later, which began with Divus Augustus, whose
birth was regarded as the birth of a savior.
And if you recall Virgil’s 4th Eclogue,’ you will see that the child who ushers in the coming age is a bringer of peace, a savior, who was naturally interpreted by the Christians as Christ.
The date of Virgil’s poem is pre-Christian. For him it was certainly the birth of Augustus that was meant.
At that time there was a tremendous longing for redemption in Italy, because two thirds—please note—two thirds of the population consisted of slaves whose fate was hopelessly sealed.
That gave rise to a general mood of depression, and in the melancholy of the Augustan Age this longing for redemption came to expression.
Therefore a man who knew how to “mythologize,” like Virgil, expressed this situation in the 4th Eclogue. Thanks to this prophetic gift he is also the psychopomp in Dante, the guide of souls in purgatory and in hell.
Afterwards, of course, in the Christian paradise, he had to surrender this role to the feminine principle [Beat- rice], and this is naturally highly signiﬁcant in view of the future recognition of the feminine ﬁgure in Christianity.
But all that was in Dante’s time.
Then, as you know, it was six hundred years until the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was promulgated by Pius IX,’ and another hundred years until the promulgation of the Assumption.
QUESTION 3: Do you believe we are heading for complete barbarism in the new aeon, or is there still some likelihood that cultural disaster can be avoided?
Dr. Jung: I must confess that in this matter I believe nothing, for I just don’t know.
I can’t believe anything I don’t know, and once I know it I don’t need to believe it any more.
I don’t know whether we are heading for complete disaster, I only know that things look very black—but you know that too.
I don’t want to play the prophet, but you see, the great problem before us is over-population, not the atom bomb.
The atom bomb, teleologically considered, makes provision for the disposal of the surplus.
There are population statistics which already predict even more serious food shortages in 1965; India, the entire subcontinent of India is already in the grip of this crisis.
The slightest disturbance in the seasonal fertility leads to frightful famines, and the same is true of China.
Now they have stamped out malaria in India and that alone causes an immense population increase, quite apart from all the epidemics of cholera and plague that have been averted.
However, it is likely that in time they will have to be allowed to spread again; it is the only possible way of skimming oﬀ the surplus population.
This is not my idea; I have talked with the Chief of Public Hygiene who has a big laboratory on the Gulf of Kutch, the main import center for such articles as smallpox, cholera, and plague.
He told me that they can imagine no other solution of the overpopulation problem in India except a colossal epidemic. In 1920, for instance, following the inﬂuenza epidemic, they had a loss of 675,000 lives.
But that is exactly the surplus birthrate for one year and it goes on piling up like an avalanche. QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE: Can’t something be done with birth control?
Carl Jung: Well, they have granted half a million pounds for that, and you should just ask the Indians what good it has done and how it went down with the masses—you can imagine.
It amounts to nothing at all, a drop of water on a hot stove.
The decrease of population doesn’t begin with the educated classes who understand birth control; it must begin with the lower classes, and in India until recently only 20 per cent of them were not illiterate.
Today about half the population is still illiterate.
You can imagine what birth control means under these conditions: nothing.
They are little better than cave-dwellers, and many of them are still completely wild tribesmen. Reasonable measures like these are quite hopeless.
The birth rate can only be controlled by catastrophes, short of a miracle.
The question naturally arises: What will happen if the world population goes on increasing and people are huddled together still more as a result?
It will produce a frightful tension which can discharge itself in one way or another, and on the rational side we have no answer and on the irrational side we can expect heaven knows what, at any rate nothing particularly hopeful.
You can put this down to the pessimism of old age.
At all events, it is highly probable that we are heading for an extremely critical time, which all of us may per- haps not experience—the peak of it, that is—because we are the end of the Pisces aeon and can certainly expect that with the transition to the new aeon of Aquarius, approximately 150-200 years from now, our distant descendants will experience all sorts of things.
This atom bomb business, for instance, is terribly characteristic of Aquarius, whose ruler is Uranos, the Lord of unpredictable events.
But this is speculation.
Have you any questions? I wouldn’t want my esteemed audience to be left out of it!
QUESTION 4: Since our consciousness is one of the contents of the self, can we assume that individual consciousness continues after death? Do you know any modern dream material which would corroborate such an assumption? Does the concept of eternal life mean the preservation of individual consciousness, or that the human soul enters into other forms and conﬁgurations, thereby losing its individuality?
Carl Jung: You realize that this is very diﬃcult to answer. To put it brieﬂy, it’s a question of conscious immortality. This is a question our Lord Buddha was asked twice.
For his disciples it was naturally a matter of great concern whether the karma that passes from one genera- tion to another by metempsychosis is personal, and represents a personal continuity, or whether it is impersonal.
In the latter case it’s as though there were an unconscious karma suspended somewhere, which is seized upon in the act of birth and is reincarnated with no awareness of any personal continuity.
That is one aspect.
The other aspect is that this karma is by nature, conscious, having a subjective consciousness, and when this is reincarnated it becomes potentially possible to remember one’s previous births because of this karma’s transcen- dent self-awareness.
Both times Buddha evaded the question, he didn’t go into it, although he himself asserted that he was aware of his previous births, about 560 incarnations in all conceivable forms, plant, animal, and human.
So you see that in those times, when people were not exactly sparing with metaphysical assertions, there being as yet no theory of knowledge, Buddha rejected this question as useless.
He thought it much more useful to meditate on the nidana chain, the chain of cause and eﬀect, consisting of old age, sickness, and death, than to speculate about immortality.
And in a sense such speculation is sterile, because we are never in a position to adduce any valid proofs in this respect.
If we could eventually adduce any proof it would be of a man, say, appearing as a ghost one year or two years or ten years or maybe even twenty years after his death.
But we still cannot prove that this ghost is identical with this dead man.
There is thus no possibility whatever of furnishing proofs, because even if the ghost of a dead man were to reveal something that only he had known in his lifetime and no one else—and there are such cases, well authenticated cases—the question would still remain as to how that was related to the absolute knowledge of the unconscious.
The unconscious has a kind of absolute knowledge, but we cannot prove it is an absolute knowledge, because the Absolute, the Eternal, is transcendental.
It is something we cannot grasp at all, for we are not yet eternal and consequently can say nothing whatever about eternity, our consciousness being what it is.
These are transcendental speculations, which may be so or may not be so.
Hence for epistemological reasons it is absolutely impossible to make out anything with certainty in this matter.
On the other hand, the question of immortality is so urgent, of such immediacy, that one ought nevertheless to give some kind of answer.
So I say to myself, Well then, if I am up against a question I cannot answer and yet ought to answer for the peace of my soul, for my own well-being, I can be so disquieted by this question that an answer is
At any rate I ought to try to form an opinion about it with the help of the unconscious, and the unconscious then obliges and produces dreams which point to a continuation of life after death.
There is no doubt of that, I have seen many examples of this kind.
Now of course you can say these are only fantasies, compensating fantasies which we cannot hinder, which are rooted in our nature—all life desires eternity—but they are far from being a proof.
On the other hand, we must tell ourselves that though this argument is all right as far as it goes, we have irrefutable evidence that at least parts of our psyche are not subject to the laws of space and time, otherwise perceptions outside space and time would be altogether impossible— yet they exist, they happen.
All cases of telepathic clairvoyance, predictions of the future—they exist.
I have been able to verify this from countless experiences, not to mention Rhine’s experiments, which can’t be refuted unless you stand the whole theory of probability on its head.
This has actually been proposed, a whole new probability theory should be invented, though how this could be done without violations of logic is completely beyond me.
At any rate we have at present no means of contesting Rhine’s results, quite apart from the numerous instances of prediction, nonspatial perception, and the like.
This oﬀers the clearest and most incontrovertible proof that our conceptions of space and time, as seen from the causal, rationalistic standpoint, are incomplete.
To get a complete picture of the world we would have to add another dimension, or we could never explain the totality of the phenomena in a uniﬁed way.
That is why rationalists maintain through thick and thin that no such experiences as clairvoyance and the like exist, because the rationalistic view of the world stands or falls with the reality of these
But if they do exist, our rationalistic view of the world is untenable.
You know that in modern physics the possibility that the universe has several dimensions is no longer denied.
We must reckon with the fact that this empirical world is in a sense appearance, that is to say it is related to another order of things below it or behind it, where “here” and “there” do not exist; where there is no extension in space, which means that space doesn’t exist, and no extension in time, which means that time doesn’t exist.
There are experiences where space is reduced by 20 per cent, or time by 90 per cent, so that the time concept is only zero percent valid.
If that is so—and I see no possibility of disputing it—we must face the fact that something of our psychic existence is outside space and time, that is, beyond changeability, or one could also say, changeable only in inﬁnite spaces of time.
These are ideas which for us are logical deductions, but are commonly held views in India. For instance, if you read the Buddha stories in the [Pali Canon], you will ﬁnd many examples.
Here is one: When the Buddha was dwelling in the grove he suddenly heard that one of the highest Brahma gods had a wrong thought.
He at once betook himself to the highest Brahma world and found the Brahma god in a fort—actually the palace of the Rajah or the Maharajah—and in the spacious paradisal gardens of this fort, set on a
high peak of the Himalayas, the Brahma god was enjoying himself with his court ladies.
They had climbed up a tree and were throwing ﬂowers and fruit down and he found it delightful and said to the Buddha, This spectacle you see, this joy and this pleasure, will endure forever because I am
Then said the Buddha, There you make your mistake.
Your life will endure for kalpas, for cosmic ages, but sometime it will come to an end. The Brahma god wouldn’t believe it.
At this moment there was suddenly absolute silence.
No ﬂowers and no fruit fell down any more, the laughter of the court ladies froze, and the Brahma god was very astonished and said, What’s up?
Then said the Buddha, At this very moment the karma of your court ladies is extinguished and they are no more—and so it will fare with you.
Then the Brahma god was converted to the Lord Buddha and vowed him true discipleship. That is the story. Life may endure for an inﬁnity of kalpas but it is not eternal.
Of course that doesn’t bother us much.
But it does show that in India there was a realization of the relativity of time.
It is an intuition, naturally evolved and become second nature, of what is probably the actual state of our world.
We see a world of consciousness from which we can’t really draw any conclusions, but then we know from ex- perience that there is a background which is absolutely necessary, otherwise we couldn’t explain the phenomena of this world. In consequence, we are unable to explain a prediction of the future or a spatial extrasensory perception in terms of special radar facilities, for even the ﬁnest radar cannot predict an event taking place a fortnight hence.
We always use this radar comparison to explain seeing at a distance in space, but you get nowhere with it in explaining seeing at a distance in time.
QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE: Some years ago you once talked about the physicist’s concept of the time quantum, according to which there is not time in between two time quanta, so that what appears between them is a kind of timelessness. Would you elaborate on this?
Dr. Jung: That is really beside the point, it is only an analogy for making comprehensible how timelessness must be implicit in the time concept, as is necessary for logical reasons.
When you say “high” you also mean “low” without saying so.
When we speak of time we must also have the concept of nontime.
Just as we have the quantum concept in energy, so also, since time is a phenomenon of energy, we can speak [without any diﬀerence of a succession of such [time quanta], that is, of these gaps then produced.
The quantum theory is a theory of the discontinuity of events, and that is why Einstein tried to bridge over the gaps.
It was a thorn in his eye that discontinuities exist; the perfect world-creator cannot aﬀord discontinuities, everything should be rational, but it just isn
We are not in a position to prove that anything of us is necessarily preserved for eternity. But we can assume with great probability that something of our psyche goes on existing. Whether this part is in itself conscious, we don’t know either.
There is also the consideration, based on experience, that any split-oﬀ part of the psyche, if it can manifest it- self at all, always does so in the form of a personality, as though it possessed a consciousness of itself.
That is why the voices heard by the insane are personal.
All split-oﬀ complexes speak in personal form whenever they express themselves.
You can, if you like, or if you feel the need, take this as an argument in favor of a continuity of consciousness.
In general one could say that since consciousness is an important psychic phenomenon, why shouldn’t it be just that part of the psyche which is not aﬀected by space and time?
In other words, it goes on existing relatively outside space and time, which would by no means be a proof of immortality but rather of an existence for an indeﬁnite time after or beyond death.
In support of this psychological hypothesis you can also adduce the experiential fact that in conditions which by all medical standards are profoundly unconscious, resulting from cerebral anemia or shock, the most complicated dreams can occur, presupposing a high degree of conscious activity as well as the presence of an individual consciousness, despite the fact that for sound commonsense any psychic activity is no longer possible.
So if I fall into an absolute coma and am totally unconscious of my coma, it is possible for a big dream to take place in this coma.
Well, who is doing that, and where?
It is explained that because of the lack of blood the brain is incapable of sustaining consciousness. But how then does it sustain a dream in which an individual consciousness is present?
Two German physiologists have published a very interesting work on subjective levitation phenomena following brain injuries.
Such cases have been observed fairly often, though these things are rather rare. For instance, a soldier is shot in the head in combat and lies there as if dead.
But, in his subjective consciousness, he rises up in the air in the position in which he is lying.
The noise of battle is completely extinguished, he sees the whole terrain, he sees the other people, but it is all utterly soundless and still; then he hears his name, a comrade is calling to him and he comes to himself and is now really a wounded man.
But up to that point he is in a state of levitation, he is as though lifted out of this world, yet though it continues to exist and he has some perception of it, it no longer aﬀects him.
By any human standard such a person is profoundly unconscious.
But in his unconsciousness he undergoes a subjective experience which is simply psychic, and which can be placed on entirely the same footing as consciousness.
It is observations like these that have to be considered here.
The concept of immortality tells us nothing about the related idea of rebirth or metempsychosis. Here again we have to depend on dreams that give us a few hints.
But it is worth bearing in mind that a highly civilized continent like India—that is, highly civilized in its spiritual culture—is absolutely convinced of the transmigration of souls, and that reincarnation is regarded as self-evident.
This is as much taken for granted as our assumption that God created the world or that some kind of spiritus rector exists—that would be a ﬁtting comparison.
Educated Indians know that we don’t think as they do, but that doesn’t bother them in the least; they simply ﬁnd it stupid that we don’t think that way.
When I was in India, a doctor gave me a whole dossier about a child of four, a little girl who remembered her previous life.
She had been reborn a few years after her death and knew what her name was previously, her husband’s name, what children she had and where she lived.
So when she was four years old—in India children are very precocious—her father went with her to that dis- tant city and let himself be shown round by the child.
She led him to her house, where she had been the mother, where her children still were, where her husband was, and she recognized everybody, even the grandmother—an Indian household always has a grandmother on top—she knew them all and was then accepted as the previous wife.
I have never heard of such a thing in Europe.
Certainly there are many people among us today who believe in reincarnation.
Maybe it is simply a sign of our [. . .] and barbarism that we don’t think like that and are only just beginning to take such thoughts seriously.
But in India, whose civilization is so much older than ours and where there is also a much greater inner culture, these ideas were arrived at very early and the Indians have never got out of them.
They took them over from the age of primitives, for practically all primitives believe that there is a continuity within the tribe.
Hence the amusing [custom] of certain Eskimos who put one of the grandfather’s lice on the head of the grandchild, so that the soul substance of the grandfather shall be passed on to him.
So you see, the matter is a bit complicated, but I hope you have understood what I mean. [Two members of the audience then relate examples of the transmigration of souls.] Individual instances like this certainly do exist but they are very uncommon.
There is also an interesting story that allegedly happened in England.
A house began to be haunted and the whole household was terribly frightened of the ghost.
Now there was a society lady who had no connection with this house but had longed for years to own a certain house which she claimed was hers.
She searched everywhere to ﬁnd something answering to this description, saying she would buy it. Then she suddenly hit on this house, which was up for sale because it was haunted.
And when she came the housekeeper opened the door and ran oﬀ with a shriek, and it turned out that she herself was the ghost who had been haunting the house for a long time because she had seen it in her imagination.
So she got her house, or so the story goes. But—si non e vero!
QUESTION 5: Can I help the spirit of my dead father by trying to live in accordance with the demands of the unconscious?
Dr. Jung: Yes, provided—one must always add—that the spirit of the dead father [remains a living idea].
I call this idea hygienic, because when I think that way everything is right in my psychic life and when I don’t think that way everything goes wrong, then somewhere things don’t click, at least in the biological sense.
It’s as if I ate something that rationally considered is harmless but it doesn’t agree with me—I get the stomach ache.
But if I eat something that rationally considered is not good, it does agree with me so why shouldn’t I eat it?
It is even advisable to do so.
For instance, for many people there is no harm in drinking a glass of red wine, while for others it is sheer poison and can have very bad consequences, but that doesn’t mean that because it has bad consequences sometimes, one shouldn’t drink wine.
Rationally one can argue that the enjoyment of alcohol is harmful, but it is not true in general, only in certain cases.
So it is much better that we do what agrees with us than what does not agree with us.
It agrees with human beings to have ideas about things they cannot know.
And if they have these ideas that suit them, they are better oﬀ psychologically.
They feel better, they sleep better, have a better appetite, and that’s the only criterion we have.
It means a tremendous lot to people if they can assume their lives have an indeﬁnite continuity; they live more sensibly, they don’t need to hurry any more.
They have centuries to waste, so why this senseless rush?
But of course one always wants to know whether it is really so—as if anyone knew whether it is really so! We know nothing at all.
Think of the physicists, they are the closest to reality, and yet they speak of models, of ﬁelds of probability. That’s it, we just don’t know.
QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE: But the fact that such a need exists—We have many needs!
Yes, but just this one seems to indicate that something in the psyche proves that this idea—
Yes, but now go and ask a rationalist, he will say, Quite, quite!
And if you feel the need for a large income, what then ?—This need exists too, or to own a ﬁne car, but that doesn’t prove he’ll get it.
We have many needs, you see.
The existence of a need proves only that it should be satisﬁed, and from that we deduce that we ought to have just those ideas which correspond to this need.
But for this need to arise, there must be something in it, like the psyche’s striving towards a goal. Yes, but that still doesn’t prove anything.
It’s like when you have a patient who says, I simply must have a ﬁne car, or else. So you tell him, Then get one, go to it, work!
That is his reality, but it proves nothing.
Similarly, when someone says, I want to be immortal, that doesn’t make him immortal. He has that need, but you can ﬁnd many people who don’t admit to any such need.
And when you come to think of it, how frightful it would be to have to sit on a cloud for ten thousand years playing a harp!
Now the idea of the spirit of the dead father is a transcendent idea, but it serves a purpose and I would call it “reasonable.”
It is reasonable to think that way.
So supposing this spirit has a subjective existence, a consciousness of its own, then there also exists an ethical relation to what it is or what it wants or what it needs.
And if I live in such a way that it helps this spirit, it is a moral achievement from which I can expect satisfac- tion.
But the question we are being asked is: if I live in accordance with the demands of the unconscious. That is too general.
In such a case I would say: What corresponds to the urgent need of the father should be compensated, not simply the unconscious—that’s going too far.
For instance, something the father has left unﬁnished.
Or the father appears to his daughter and tells her in a dream or in reality that he has buried a treasure some- where which didn’t belong to him, but was stolen property and she should give it back.
These are situations that occur in reality.
Or he tells her that he had a philosophy which actually made him unhappy and so the daughter must think diﬀerently. Only these speciﬁc relationships are really satisfactory.
They must ﬁt the real character of the father, then the corresponding reaction can be expected, in so far as these transcendent ideas are any use at all.
This may be a quite ruthless question, but the real criterion is: Do they serve a purpose? Are they an advan- tage?
For if they accomplish nothing, why should I have these ideas?
But if I feel they are a positive advantage, then why shouldn’t I have them?
They cannot decide the issue one way or another, any more than we are in a position to understand actual re- ality and establish what it is: there are only ﬁelds of probability.
There are average predictable phenomena and there are just as many that are unpredictable—were it other- wise there would be no statistics!
QUESTION 6: May we assume that there is a connection between dual predestination and synchronicity, and that experientially they are the same thing? The same as being in Tao—the simultaneous reality of spirit and matter, simultaneously experienced with equal intensity, but always vibrating dike a compass needle?
What do you mean by dual predestination?
ANSWER FROM THE AUDIENCE: Karl Barth has rethought Calvin’s predestination theory along new lines and says it is not, as Calvin said, that people are either rejected or accepted from the very beginning, but that each person is both accepted at one moment and rejected at another.
Dr. Jung: The theory of predestination has of course nothing to do with synchronicity. Synchronicity is a scientiﬁc concept and the predestination theory is a dogma.
Synchronicity is a description of facts, whereas the predestination theory is riddled with contradictions.
If predestination is true, then everything goes on as it must: there are some who are chosen to go to heaven, others are predestined to roast in hell and go down to the kitchen.
If you ﬁt the bill, you’re chosen—or else the good Lord invalidates his own decree by suddenly sweeping up to heaven someone predestined for hell, or snatches someone down from heaven and sticks
him in the pit.
If you examine these things logically it is simply a juggling with words that has nothing to do with actuality.
Dual predestination, indeed! So I am predestined for hell and predestined for heaven, and then suddenly, by a sleight of hand, I am either here or there.
That is not a workable argument, it is a conjuring trick: you think the top hat is empty, and behold there is a white rabbit sitting in it!
MEMBER OF THE AUDIENCE: I had hoped this was a point where depth psychology and theology could ﬁnally meet.
Dr. Jung: Oh no, here we are not in agreement at all.
Synchronicity states that a certain psychic event is paralleled by some external, non-psychic event and that there is no causal connection between them.
It is a parallelism of meaning.
That has nothing to do with the acrobatics of predestination. Theologians do perform the merriest pranks.
One professor of theology reproached me for asserting, in contradiction to God’s word, that a man must grow up and put aside childish things.
Man, he said, must remain a child.
Now it is precisely the teaching of the New Testament that one should not remain a child but become as a child.
My view, he declared, was “en ﬂagrant contradiction avec la parole du Maitre.”
So I sent him a postcard citing the Biblical passages that say exactly the opposite. The same is true of Catholics.
A Jesuit father came to me, a very intelligent type, and said, I really can’t understand you, you must explain to me how you can assert that Christ and Mary were not human beings.
I replied, But it is very simple.
According to the teaching of the Church you were born in sin, so was I, and all men, and that is how death came into the world.
We are corruptible and have corruptible bodies, but Christ and Mary have incorruptible bodies.
Therefore they were taken up to heaven in the body as was Elijah of old, and therefore they were not human beings.
All men are mortal, all men are corruptible because of original sin. He had never thought of that!
He was so dumfounded that he couldn’t utter a word!
There’s the theologian for you—the general run of theological thinking is often simply incomprehensible. Now can a theologian not notice that Christ and Mary according to dogma have an incorruptible body? That is a divine attribute, only gods have it, or demons, but not men.
QUESTION 7: What is the psychological diﬀerence between belief in a personal God and the concept of a di- vine impersonal principle?
Dr. Jung: Men naturally have ideas about God, and as my dead friend Albert Oeri quite rightly said, some imagine a good God, the conservatives imagine him as an elderly railway oﬃcial with a beard, and the others as a little more gaseous.
So it goes—we have all sorts of ideas of a personal father god with a beard, and a universal “principle” which is really more than “gaseous”—much more abstract.
It is simply the diﬀerence between an infantile idea and a philosophical one.
Or, it is the diﬀerence between being personally addressed, the personal encounter, and a general philosophi- cal hypothesis.
If one has an idea, that is to say a rationalized idea which has been discussed and reﬂected upon, it is always a paradox.
As Kant has already pointed out, only antinomial statements can be made about transcendental positions. He exempliﬁes this by: God is, God is not.
Thus every statement about God is also represented by its opposite. Hence God is personal, he is my Father, he is a universal principle.
An inﬁnity of statements is possible, all of them valid in so far as they also state the opposite.
The antinomy of the statements is a proof of their honesty.
But naturally one cannot form any such ideas of which it could seriously be said that they must be so, because their object is one which we cannot know unless we were God himself, and in so far as we are “God” we are speaking of our unconscious, being ourselves unconscious to the extent we are “God.”
Thus it is that all the statements we make about God are statements about the unconscious.
It is local, it is universal, it is the One, it is the Many or the All, it is personal and impersonal because the un- conscious appears to us in all these forms.
One feels personally addressed by the unconscious—or one doesn’t.
QUESTION 8: Have you ever met any people who have seen Ufos, and were they prepared to interpret this ex- perience purely psychologically and not insist on the physical reality of the Ufos?
I actually do know of four cases of people who have seen Ufos or said they did. They are not in the least prepared to interpret the Ufos psychologically.
They are more inclined to ask me, Do you think this is psychological? because for them it was felt as thor- oughly real.
There was, for instance, the case of a doctor in an American city who together with many other people ob- served a Ufo for three-quarters of an hour in the form of a small silvery sphere or disc which then suddenly vanished.
Knowing this man to be a regular camera ﬁend, I assumed he had taken a marvellous photo of this phenomenon. But astonishingly enough he hadn’t, although he carried his camera with him, “as always.”
Another man was driving with his wife over the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, when she saw in the west about twenty Ufos ﬂying in the Paciﬁc.
She drew her husband’s attention to them and he saw them too. The spheres or discs gleamed like silver in the sun.
Both sent me eyewitness reports and some time later I saw the man personally, whereupon he expressed his astonishment at my interest in such things.
But this, you see, is also a contribution to psychology.
It is said that people who make the least fuss about these things are the most likely to see a Ufo.
A former patient, now an analyst living in the southwest of America, also observed a silvery object in the sky for about four minutes, after which it vanished at great speed.
She described it as “web-like” and as though sprayed with aluminum, so that one could make out its web-like structure.
She evidently wanted to convey that the object was lighter than metal.
Not for a moment did she doubt that it was real—it was like seeing a bus passing—with no connection what- ever with any kind of psychology, so that one is absolutely ﬂummoxed and thinks these people must have seen something real.
I have not concerned myself at all with the question of whether these things can be real and if so how. Ufos in dreams should be treated like any other dream image, they play exactly the same role.
QUESTION’ I0: Can our preoccupation with psychology and with Ufos be traced back to a decline of the belief in God, as though this left a void which the unconscious had to ﬁll?
Yes, we feel uneasy and dissatisﬁed and insecure and now under modern political conditions we are naturally afraid also.
And naturally we ask, What is the matter with man’s psychology?
We cannot make anyone else responsible for what is happening in the world except man. There lies the great danger: why is man as he is?
In our world miracles do not happen any more, and we feel that something simply must happen which will provide an answer or show a way out.
So now these Ufos are appearing in the skies.
Although they have always been observed” they didn’t signify anything.
Now, suddenly, they seem to portend something because that something has been projected on them—a hope, an expectation.
What sort of expectation you can see from the literature: it is of course the expectation of a savior. But that is only one aspect.
There is another aspect, a mythological one.
The Ufo can be a ship of death, which means that ships of death are coming to fetch the living or to bring souls.
Either these souls will fall into birth, or many people are going to die and will be fetched by ﬂeets of these ships of death.”
These are important archetypal ideas, because they can also be predictions.
If an atomic war were to break out, an inﬁnite multitude of souls would be carried away from the earth. How one is to explain the Ufos in individual cases, I cannot say.
It depends on the circumstances, on a dream, or on the person concerned.
There is indeed a void in individuals now that we are beginning to discover that our belief in metaphysical explanations has grown enfeebled.
In the Middle Ages the Ufos would have been taken for divine manifestations, but we must say with Goethe: “For all our wisdom, Tegel still is haunted.” Carl Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking – Interviews and Encounters, Pages 370-391