[Carl Jung – “After this dream I gave up drawing and painting mandalas.”]
Some years later (in 1927) I obtained confirmation of my ideas about the center and the self by way of a dream.
I represented its essence in a mandala which I called “Window on Eternity.” The picture is reproduced in The Secret of the Golden
Flower (Fig. s).
A year later I painted a second picture, likewise a mandala, with a golden castle in the center.
When it was finished, I asked myself, “Why is this so Chinese?’
I was impressed by the form and choice of colors, which seemed to me Chinese, although there was nothing outwardly Chinese about it.
Yet that was how it affected me.
It was a strange coincidence that shortly afterward I received a letter from Richard Wilhelm enclosing the manuscript of a Taoist-alchemical
treatise entitled The Secret of the Golden Flower, with a request that I write a commentary on it.
I devoured the manuscript at once, for the text gave me undreamed-of confirmation of my ideas about the mandala and the circumambulation of the center.
That was the first event which broke through my isolation.
I became aware of an affinity; I could establish ties with something and someone.
In remembrance of this coincidence, this “synchronicity,”
I wrote underneath the picture which had made so Chinese an impression upon me: “In 1928, when I was painting this picture,
showing the golden, well-fortified castle,
Richard Wilhelm in Frankfurt sent me the thousand-year-old Chinese text on the yellow castle, the germ of the immortal body.”
This is the dteam I mentioned earlier: I found myself in a dirty, sooty city. It was night, and winter, and dark, and raining.
I was in Liverpool.
With a number of Swiss say, half a dozen I walked through the dark streets.
I had the feeling that there we were coming from the harbor, and that the real city was actually up above, on the cliffs.
We climbed up there. It reminded me of Basel, where the market is down below and then you go up through the Totengasschen (“Alley of
the Dead”), which leads to a plateau above and so to the Petersplatz and the Peterskirche.
When we reached the plateau, we found a broad square dimly illuminated by street lights, into which many streets converged.
The various quarters of the city were arranged radially around the square. In the center was a round pool, and in the middle of
it a small island.
While everything round about was obscured by rain, fog, smoke, and dimly lit darkness, the little island bkzed with sunlight.
On it stood a single tree, a magnolia, in a shower of reddish blossoms.
It was as though the tree stood in the sunlight and were at the same time the source of light.
My companions commented on the abominable weather, and obviously did not see the tree.
They spoke of another Swiss who was living in Liverpool, and expressed surprise that he should have settled here.
I was carried away by die beauty of the flowering tree and the sunlit island, and thought, “I know very well why he has settled here.”
Then I awoke.
On one detail of the dream I must add a supplementary comment: the individual quarters of the city were themselves arranged
radially around a central point.
This point formed a small open square illuminated by a larger street lamp, and constituted a small replica of the island. I knew that the
“other Swiss” lived in the vicinity of one of these secondary centers.
This dream represented my situation at the time, I can still see the grayish-yellow raincoats, glistening with the wetness of the rain.
Everything was extremely unpleasant, black and opaque just as I felt then.
But I had had a vision of unearthly beauty, and that was why I was able to live at all.
Liverpool is the “pool of life.”
The “liver,” according to an old view, is the seat of life that which “makes to live.”
This dream brought with it a sense of finality. I saw that here the goal had been revealed.
One could not go beyond the center.
The center is the goal, and everything is directed toward that center.
Through this dream I understood that the self is the principle and archetype of orientation and meaning.
Therein lies its healing function. For me, this insight signified an approach to the center and therefore to the goal.
Out of it emerged a first inkling of my personal myth.
After this dream I gave up drawing or painting mandalas. The dream depicted the climax of the whole process of development of consciousness.
It satisfied me completely, for it gave a total picture of my situation.
I had known, to be sure, that I was occupied with something important, but I still lacked understanding, and there had been no one among my associates who could have understood.
The clarification brought about by the dream made it possible for me to take an objective view of the things that filled my being.
Without such a vision I might perhaps have lost my orientation and been compelled to abandon my undertaking. But here the meaning had been made clear.
When I parted from Freud, I knew that I was plunging into the unknown. Beyond Freud, after all, I knew nothing; but I had taken the step into darkness.
When that happens, and then such a dream comes, one feels it as an act of grace.
It has taken me virtually forty-five years to distill within the vessel of my scientific work the things I experienced and wrote down at that time.
As a young man my goal had been to accomplish something in my science. But then, I hit upon this stream of lava, and the heat of its fires reshaped my life.
That was the primal stuff which compelled me to work upon it, and my works are a more or less successful endeavor to incorporate this incandescent matter into the contemporary picture of the world.
The years when I was pursuing my inner images were the most important in my life–in them everything essential was decided.
It all began then; the later details are only supplements and clarifications of the material that burst forth from the unconscious, and at first swamped me.
It was the prima materia for a lifetime’s work ~Carl Jung, Memories Dreams and Reflections, Pages 197-200