Under the Sign of Wholeness: The End
C.G. Jung’s end lay immediately ahead-only a few weeks and days of further declining strength.
For some months he knew and even occasionally said that he “had his marching orders,” as he put it.
One more time he had himself taken out for a drive in his own auto, as it was necessary to say goodbye to the world and the things around him.
The earthly Bollingen had already drawn far into the distance.
Now and then he looked out across the lake from the balcony of his house in Kusnacht, and the last days played themselves out between his bedroom and his study on the second floor.
On 17 May an embolism occurred, a blood clot in the brain.
The few visitors who still appeared noticed a slight impairment of his speech.
Ruth Bailey, who was now near him day and night, recalled:
“It happened during breakfast …. After a few days he recovered, and talking tired him less. Only he could no longer read well, so mostly I read to him. Then came the thirtieth of May:
After another peaceful and happy previous day, while we were drinking tea at the .window of his study, he had a second stroke. That was the last time he was in that room; from then on he stayed only in his bedroom.”
“Do the people know that I am dying?” he asked once, as though he wanted to be sure that his distant friends were informed of his departure from the earth.
But there are more impressive tidings than external information, as Jung knew.
Above all, he could not be restrained as those closest to him may have intended.
Visions and meaningful dreams and daydreams preceded him, as he had already started out on his last walk.
Eight days before his death he told Marie-Louise von Franz of a vision in which he had seen the destruction of a large part of the earth-“Thank God, not all of it,” he added-a hopeful look into the gloom of his premonitions.
Ruth Bailey shared some of their last conversations with Miguel Serrano.
In a letter of 16 June, ten days after Jung’s death, she wrote: “During the last two days he lived in a faraway world and saw wonderful and magnificent things there, of that I am sure.
He smiled often and was happy.
When we sat on the terrace for the last time, he spoke of an enchanting dream he had had; he said: ‘Now I know the truth down to a very little bit that is still missing.When I know this too, then I will have died.’
Then later he had another dream which he told me about in the night.
He saw a huge, round boulder standing on a high pedestal.
At the foot of the stone was engraved the inscription: ‘This shall be a sign unto you of wholeness and oneness.”‘
And Ruth Bailey added the personal note:
“Throughout that whole day I must have known that he had now left me. Probably I knew it inside, but repressed it. And that was good; I would hardly have been able to do what needed to be done for him. All I could do was watch over him day and night …. “
The dream Ruth Bailey reported contained a few other motifs; in one Jung saw many pots on the right side of a square place, in another the dreamer observed trees with fibrous roots growing around this place.
Among the roots shone golden threads.
These dream elements, suggesting the image of wholeness, pointed to connections with ancient mysteries, the symbols of germinating seed, that is, rebirth.
In ancient Egypt people spoke of the dismembered pieces of the god Osiris which were kept in pots and of whose resurrection they were certain.
Adonis, the god of resurrection, was honored by sowing fast-growing seeds in boxes, thereby representing the coming of new life.
The Gospel of John has the grain of wheat that falls on the earth, dies, and for that very reason “bringeth forth much fruit” John 12:24).
Barbara Hannah recalled how Jung sometimes applied the image of the pot when taking on a student or a patient.
He would say for instance, “Oh, I thought he or she was a good pot, and therefore I would invest in it.”
Hence there was no doubt that the image and likeness of roots played an important role in Jung’s conceptual world and hence naturally represented a means of expression in his dreams.
Thus in his memoirs we find the passage referring to the rhizome:
“Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away-an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.”
Thus it was the witness to an imperishable world who was confirmed one last time, by the productions of his unconscious (to the extent they were verifiable), in what had determined him and his activity, however the one scarred by weakness and at times haunted by despair, the earthly ego of person No. 1, might be overcome by thoughts of futility and ignorance.
On the afternoon of 6 June 1961, at about four in the afternoon, it was over.
Jung died in the bosom of his family in his home in Kusnacht.
The “burning demon” of his will to live, as he had once called it eight years earlier, escaped.
A very last tribute to him might have been the last words he said to Ruth Bailey the night before: “Let’s have a really good wine tonight.”
He had always liked a good red wine and drunk it with gusto.
It later turned out that not a few of Jung’s closest friends had been “aware” of his passing.
Laurens van der Post, for example, who was on a voyage from Africa to Europe, one afternoon witnessed a sudden vision which he described thus:
“I suddenly had a vision of myself in a deep, dark valley in avalanche country, among steep, snow-covered mountains. I was filled with a foreknowledge of imminent disaster. I knew that even raising my voice in the world of this vision could bring down the bulging avalanches upon me. Suddenly, at the far end of the valley, on one Matterhorn peak of my vision, still caught in the light of the sun, Jung appeared. He stood there briefly, as I had seen him some weeks before at the gate at the end of the garden of his house, then waved his hand at me and called out, “I’ll be seeing you.”
And then he vanished down the far side of the mountain.
Instantly I fell asleep and slept for some eighteen hours.
I woke next morning just as the sun was rising, and pushed aside the curtains of the porthole of my cabin.
I saw a great, white lone albatross gliding by it, the sun on fire on its wings.
As it glided by it turned its head and looked straight at me.
I had done that voyage some fifty times and such a thing had never happened to me, and I had a feeling that the day before me was going to be utterly unlike any other day I had ever experienced.
I had hardly got back into bed when my steward appeared with a tray of tea and fruit, as he always did, and handed me the ship’s radio news.
I opened it casually.
The first item I saw was the announcement that Jung had died the previous afternoon at his home in Zurich.
Taking into consideration the time and the latitude and longitude of the ship’s position, it was clear that my dream, or vision, had come to me at the moment of his death.
Similar synchronistic phenomena were common, and on the day Jung died there was a definite increase in them.
Soon after his death a strong thunderstorm came up.
Lightning struck a tall poplar tree on the edge of the lake in his garden and tore a great hole in its trunk, so that afterward the ground was littered with small pieces of bark.”
Barbara Hannah recalled how shortly before the moment of his death she had been fetching her car and found that the relatively fresh battery had run down.
When Ruth Bailey telephoned her about a half hour later with the news, Miss Hannah was better able to comprehend the motiveless connections of this “coincidence.”
Such acausal phenomena, in all their unusualness, were something as natural for Jung as life itself, or dreaming.
He too was aware that today more than ever an expansion of view and consciousness is necessary, if the “miraculous” is not to be split off from the supposedly normal.
He had expressed it simply some months before his death, in a letter of 10 August 1960:
“It is quite possible that we look at the world from the wrong side and that we might find the right answer by changing our point of view and looking at it from the other side, that is, not from outside, but from inside.”
This statement on the required turning from without to within, however, cannot be taken as absolute.
Jung also knew and respected the dimension of the between.
Hence it is surely no coincidence that two days after this letter, in regard to the early death of his English friend Victor White, he recorded the following sentence:
The living mystery of life is always hidden between Two, and it is the true mystery which cannot be betrayed by words and depleted by arguments.”
And Gerhard Adler, the co-editor of The Collected Works as well as later the letters of C. G. Jung, who had once emigrated to England-he too was among the last to visit the departing Jung-reported of his final meeting:
“He sat in his library and seemed to be deeply absorbed in himself. It was clearly perceptible that his attention was directed entirely to the inner realm of psychic images.
Then he noticed me, and in a trice his expression changed.
He turned toward me, and the place of his deep introversion was taken by a cordial and lively relatedness.
The two aspects-concentration on the inner world and immediate openness to other people-imparted a memorable picture of the wholeness of this man. ”
After the funeral service, the so-called “send-off” in the village church in Kusnacht, Carl Gustav Jung was buried in the Kusnacht cemetery.
The rectangular gravestone, the height of a man, bore the arms of the Jung family, and beneath this the names of father, mother, sister Gertrud, Emma Jung Rauschenbach, and C. G. Jung.
The top and bottom borders repeated once more the motto he had chosen for his house:
Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit.
Called or not called, the god will be there.
The right and left sides contained a saying from the great resurrection chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:47):
Primus homo de terra terrenus Secundus homo de caelo caelestis.
The first man is of the earth and is earthly, the second man is of heaven and is heavenly. ~Gerhard Wehr, Jung: A Biography, Pages 452-457