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Jung My Mother and I

[Carl Jung on Power, Love and Tao from an Analysis Session with his patient Catherine “Katy” Cabot who recorded this passage in her Diary. She affectionately refers to him as “Onkle.”]

Onkel said, when I told him that I enjoyed society things, and that society was my bid complex, that behind it was “a role in society” which was not what I really wanted. On one side, there was my social complex trying to make an impression on society people, and to be “in” with them; and on the other side, I have feelings of inferiority-even with his secretary, Miss Schmid. (I had told him that, for years, when Miss Schmid opened the door, I felt that I was in her eyes, a swine being ushered in!)

On one side, he said, I have projections on Miss Schmid. (Somehow, I did not feel that I had projections on Miss Schmid, as for years, I have felt she was antagonistic, but never mentioned it before as I had other things to talk about. But I did not say all this to Onkel.)

Onkel went on to say that, on the one side, I was a social climber and on the other side, less than a worm with Miss Schmid. Onkel said that what I was playing was a power game, and where there is power, there is not love-a pair of opposites. This brought to my mind what Onkel says in his book, Psychological Types, Chapter Five. In Chinese philosophy, there is the idea of the “middle Path” that lies between the opposites. It is called Tao. Tao is usually associated with the name of the philosopher; Lao-Tze, born in 604 B.C. Tao expresses itself as, “Dwelling without desire, one perceiveth its essence; clinging to desire, one seeth only its outer form.” – “Tao is an irrational, hence a wholly inconceivable fact. Tao is essence, but unseizable, incomprehensible.”

Tao is an irrational union of the opposites (opposites-one’s good and bad sides blended to make an acceptable whole)-therefore a symbol which is and is not. Tao is the creative essence as father begetting and mother bringing forth. It is the beginning and end of all creatures.

He whose actions are in harmony with Tao becometh one with Tao. Therefore the complete person is freed from the opposites whose intimate connection, and alternating appearance, he is aware of. Therefore to withdraw oneself is the celestial way, and he is the complete one inaccessible to intimacy, inaccessible to estrangement, inaccessible to profit, inaccessible to injury, inaccessible to honor, inaccessible to disgrace! Being one with Tao resembles the spiritual condition of a child.

The Taoistic religion says that Tao is divided into a principal pair of opposites, Yang and Yin.

Yang is warmth, light, masculinity.
Yin is cold, darkness, femininity.
Yang is also heaven.
Yin is earth.
From Yang force arises, Schen, the celestial portion of the human soul.
From yin force arises, Kwei, the earthly part.
As a microcosm, man is also in some degree a reconciler of the pairs of opposites. Heaven, man and earth form the three chief elements of the world.

This imagery is a primordial idea we find elsewhere in similar forms, as, for instance, in West African myth, where Obatala and Odua, the first parents (heaven and earth) lie together in a calabash until a son, man, arises between them-hence a microcosm, uniting in himself the world of opposites. Man corresponds with the irrational symbol which reconciles the opposites.

The Chinese Tao presentation is also suggested in the familiar passage in Faust:

Two souls, alas! Within my bosom dwell-
One would from the other sever:
The one in full delight of live
Clings with clutching organs to the world:
The other, mightily, from earthly dust
Would mount on high to the ancestral fields.

The existence of two mutually contending tendencies, both striving to drag man into extreme attitudes and entangle him in the world-whether upon the spiritual of the material side (thereby setting him at variance with himself) – demands the existence of a counterweight, which is just this irrational fact: Tao. That is why the followers of the Taoistic philosophy make anxious efforts to live in harmony with Tao, lest they fall into a conflict of the opposites, Since Tao is an irrational fact, it cannot be deliberately achieved, a fact which Lao-Tze emphasizes.

Thus the aim of the Taoistic ethic sets out to find deliverance from that tension of the opposites, which is an inherent property of the universe, by a return to Tao.

Now to go back to: “Where there is power, there is no love.” I asked Onkel just what he meant; he said he meant love in the greater sense: love for one’s fellow beings. He added that love had chiefly had come to him because I had had a fantasy about him. And by seeing his wife, I had put up the right facade for Miss Schmid, his secretary, and neither she nor anybody else could suspect of bad designs. He asked me why I always had plots. I was a bit surprised at all this, and did not quite understand what he meant, but shall ask him next time. ~”Jung, My Mother and I”; Pages 339-341.