Zarathustra Seminars

[Carl Jung on Christian Love]

Dr. Jung: Miss Hannah also asks that in her question. The quotation is from the fifth chapter of St. Matthew: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

That Christ can be the least of your brethren is, of course, very important.

The same thought is expressed in the more primitive Islamic mysticism, in a somewhat different and more complete way. (I have already quoted to you what my Sufi head-man said to me.)”

You see, the Self is such a disagreeable thing in a way, so realistic, because it is what you really are, not what you want to be or imagine you ought to be; and that reality is so poor, sometimes dangerous, and even disgusting, that you will quite naturally make every effort not to be yourself.

Therefore, the idea has been invented quite suitably that it is even very bad morally to be yourself.

You also should not think of yourself; you should love your brother or your neighbor but not yourself.

But unfortunately Christ said you should love your brother or your neighbor as yourself, and how can you love your brother if you don’t love yourself?

Or how can you forgive your brother if you don’t forgive yourself?

So one of the earliest Gnostic philosophers, Karpokrates, translated a certain passage in the gospel of St. Matthew in a very peculiar way-that passage where Christ says:

Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Therefore if thou bringest thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

But Karpokrates interprets that last verse: If thou bringest thy gift to the altar and findest anything against thyself, go first and reconcile thyself to thyself.

That is a custom in red Indian tribes; when a man is not at one with himself on the day of the council meeting, he doesn’t go to the meeting for he recognizes that he is not fit to be just and impartial and true if he is fighting himself.

Therefore, Karpokrates rightly assumes that you cannot forgive if you don’t forgive yourself; you cannot love if you don’t love yourself. And that is really Christian.

But late Christianity, hoping to find a means to get away from oneself, invented this infernal idea that you should love your neighbor and trample yourself underfoot, in contradistinction to the words of the Lord that you should love your neighbor as yourself, supposing that you naturally do love yourself.

Otherwise, how can we be impartial, or how can we forgive?

Therefore, that Christian love of your neighbor has become most suspect.

If anybody tells me that he loves me more than himself and wants to sacrifice himself, I say: what does it cost?

What do you want afterwards? For afterwards a long account will be presented.

Nature will present it because it is not unselfish; there is no such thing as unselfishness in that sense. But if you can love yourself, you will be on the way to unselfishness.

It is such a difficult and disagreeable task to love oneself that if you can do that, you can love any toad, because you are worse than the most disgusting animal.

Now Miss Hannah also says: “I understood you to say last time that you have to cast the mind away in order to see it is the body, and that this was what Christ meant when he said you may find him as the lowest among our brethren. I suppose I am like the Strasbourg theologians, but I can’t understand what this means.”

Well, not necessarily the body, but the body is naturally under the same prejudice; the body being the lowest in man is, of course, the lowest among the brethren.

Those Strasbourg theologians did not understand what I meant, because no Christian of these days understands this point; we are all twisted in our minds through education.

We are only told to love our neighbor and that it is wrong to love ourselves.

For instance, one of the most ordinary arguments against analysis is that it makes people self-conscious: they only think of themselves.

I say that is the very best thing you can possibly do if you do it systematically.

You have done it in a dilettante way-you have only made fantasies-but from now on you write those fantasies, and as they are apt to be disgusting, they instantly draw attention to themselves.

You find then that man is worth studying and also that it is well worthwhile to live with the body. Otherwise, what on earth are you going to live with?

You will probably evaporate. Well, if you are going to disappear in a fast train to heaven within the next fortnight, I have nothing to say against it, but you cannot live as a disembodied spirit who by chance got into the body of a woman and doesn’t even recognize her own hands. ~Carl Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Pages 99-101.