Transformation Begins Within
Having arrived at the threshold that marks the transition from the first half to the significant second half of C. G. Jung’s life, we pause, as observers and companions along the way, to take note of this change, which makes its more or less pronounced appearance in the course of every human life.
. . . for there is no place That does not see you. You must change your life. -Rilke
Here was a man who drew from an extremely rich intellectual and spiritual heritage-or more precisely one from whom this heritage burst forth, striving for clarification and consciousness, and ultimately for the integration of the unconscious, demanding to become whole.
It would not be enough simply to point to the psychic gifts of the Preiswerk family, for instance, reducing Jung to a psychological magician who manipulated atavistic psychic powers the way the alchemical magician did the elements.
And yet the example, or rather analogy, of the alchemist is indeed applicable, for the goal of this ancient hermeneutic discipline was transubstantiation, the transmutation of substances through the creation of a new quality.
In other words, it was meant to lift the inheritance of the soul out of the depths of the psyche, transforming it so that the treasures of the human spirit become clear and can be made accessible.
And this had to happen at that moment in the historical development of consciousness when, as a consequence of rationalism and materialism, of extraversion and the conclusion that “God is dead,” the spiritual dimension of the depths (but also the heights!) was lost to a large part of Western
A religious vacuum had been created, because the traditional guardians of the religious life had themselves succumbed to this Zeitgeist, and there was no lack of signals to indicate that the consciousness of modern man was passing through a zero point.
One thinks also of the various spiritist and spiritualist or theosophical movements that forced their way into the public eye around the turn of the nineteenth century, seeking to reactivate ancient psychic alternatives or borrowing from eastern religions.
So it was no coincidence that Jung, while studying medicine around the turn of the century, read the spiritist and parapsychological literature and carried out his own experiments of this kind as a young man.
It was also no coincidence that Jung was born in the same year, 1875, in which the Anglo-Indian Theosophical Society of the medium Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) and Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907) was first formed in the United States.
But it is also important to make clear the enormous distinction between these ancient psychic faculties, as they appear in spiritism and mediumism, and the scientific mode of consciousness.
In the end the modern technique, to be feasible and manageable, demands rationality in the highest degree, whereas the mediumistic and magical mind is firmly fixed in the prerational or irrational.
The mere tacking on of magic and mystical elements to modern rationality clearly cannot solve the problem.
The manufacture and operation of a complicated machine require quite a different mental and emotional disposition than does a religious practice, for instance, for here the mathematical mind is predominant; the whole world is looked upon as a machine.
And yet to today’s entirely outer-directed objective consciousness, the rehabilitation of the psychic and spiritual seems indispensable.
The question is, how can an integration of the inner and outer worlds, the psychic and the material, be brought about, so that the disjointedness of modern man can be overcome?
One thing is clear: the process that leads to the integration of the person with the world (what the alchemists called the mysterium coniunctionis, the “secret of joining together”) obviously must be set in motion within the person himself.
The scientific demonstration of the existence of the unconscious that Freud and his school achieved at the threshold of the twentieth century had certainly been a pioneering accomplishment in this area, and this bridgehead to the territory of at least the personal unconscious, with its contents originating among other things in the process of repression, undoubtedly represented an epoch-making achievement.
But for the time being, a wide field of psychic investigation was still hidden.
It has been pointed out often enough how much Freud remained imprisoned by the intellectual presuppositions of his time, the nineteenth century.
To get a look at the human psyche’s tendency to unity, what was needed was a more profound method of inquiry, one that would give due recognition to the transpersonal.
And someone was needed who would first experience the double face of the psyche within himself, who would learn firsthand the laws of integration, of individuation.
What had seemed at first sight to be a dangerous split Jung’s experience of the No. 1 and No. 2 personalities turned out more and more to be the indispensable prerequisite for any further realization of the human psyche as a whole.
Only when the “two souls in his breast” had become a single symbolic and metaphorical experience could he set out on the way “to the mothers,” to the archetypal powers.
We think, for example, of the suggestive dream Jung had during his trip to America with Freud, which the two pioneers of depth psychology attempted to elucidate each in his own characteristic and distinctive way-the multistory house with its contemporary furnishings in the upper story and the dead skeletons in the depths of the cellar.
Whereas Freud, wholly in keeping with the psychology that was conditioned by his own view of the world, suspected individual death wishes on the dreamer’s part, Jung’s attention turned to the archaic, supra-personal or collective roots that form just as much a part of the human psyche as the personal unconscious and its unrecognized drives, wishes, and repressions.
Jung, who had come to know the deep-lying psyche step by step through his own early inner experiences as well as his historical interests, and who as a psychiatrist had practiced testing the usefulness of the psychoanalytic method, could not stop at the borders asserted by Freudian views and methods.
Even at the cost of a personal friendship with Freud that had lasted ten years, Jung had to go beyond the bounds of Freudian psychoanalysis, to extend its scope as well as its methods.
The son was compelled to escape his “father,” the “crown prince” to reject the inheritance-as Freud understood it-his Viennese master had intended for him.
But clearly the separation, painful for both of them, did not accomplish this by itself.
Whosoever would push forward into a new country must fulfil the necessary preconditions.
One approaches the archetypal world not through mere reflection, and thus persisting in the rational mode of consciousness, but through transforming and deepening it.
To reflection must be added a willingness to undergo a complete transformation of the human being, a change that begins within, in the confrontation with one’s “own” supra-personal unconscious.
When this task arose for Jung at the middle period of his life, the outlines of the problems of consciousness and of an era merged with those of the individual. ~Gerhard Wehr, Jung: A Biography, Pages 161-164