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The spirit of this time ~Carl Jung


The Red Book

If I speak in the spirit of this time, I must say:

no one and nothing can justify what I must proclaim to you.

Justification is superfluous to me, since I have no choice, but I must. I have learned that in addition to the

spirit of this time there is still another spirit at work, namely that which rules the depths of everything contemporary:

The spirit of this time would like to hear of use and value. I also thought this way, and my humanity still

thinks this way. But that other spirit forces me nevertheless to speak, beyond justification, use, and meaning.

Filled with human pride and blinded by the presumptuous spirit of the times, I long sought to hold that other

spirit away from me. But I did not consider that the spirit of the depths from time immemorial and for all the future

possesses a greater power than the spirit of this time, who changes with the generations.

The spirit of the depths has subjugated all pride and arrogance to the power of judgment. He took away my

belief in science, he robbed me of the joy of explaining and ordering things, and he let devotion to the ideals of this

time die out in me.

He forced me down to the last and simplest things.

The spirit of the depths took my understanding and all my knowledge and placed them at the service of the

inexplicable and the paradoxical.

He robbed me of speech and writing for everything that was not in his service, namely the melting together

of sense and nonsense, which produces the supreme meaning.

“This supreme meaning, this image of God, this melting together of the hot and the cold, that is you and only


But the spirit of the depths spoke to me:

“You are an image of the unending world, all the last mysteries of becoming and passing away live in you. If

you did not possess all this, how could you know?”

For the sake of my human weakness, the spirit of the depths gave me this word. Yet this word is also superfluous,

since I do not speak it freely; but because I must. I speak because the spirit robs me of joy and life if I do not


I am the serf who brings it and does not know what he carries in his hand. It would burn his hands if he did

not place it where his master orders him to lay it.

The spirit of our time spoke to me and said: “What dire urgency could be forcing you to speak all this?”

This was an awful temptation. I wanted to ponder what inner or outer bind could force me into this, and because

I found nothing that I could grasp, I was near to making one up.

But with this the spirit of our time had almost brought it about that instead of speaking, I was thinking again

about reasons and explanations.

But the spirit of the depths spoke to me and said:

“To understand a thing is a bridge and possibility of returning to the path. But to explain a matter is arbitrary

and sometimes even murder. Have you counted the murderers

among the scholars?”

But the spirit of this time stepped up to me and laid before me huge volumes which contained all my knowledge.

Their pages were made of ore, and a steel stylus had engraved inexorable words in them, and he pointed to

these inexorable words and spoke to me, and said: “What you speak, that is madness.”

It is true, it is true, what I speak is the greatness and intoxication and ugliness of madness.

But the spirit of the depths stepped up to me and said:

“What you speak is. The greatness is, the intoxication is, the undignified, sick, paltry dailiness is. It runs in all

the streets, lives in all the houses, and rules the day of all humanity. Even the eternal stars are commonplace. It is

the great mistress and the one essence of God. One laughs about it, and laughter, too, is. Do you believe, man of

this time, that laughter is lower than worship? Where is your measure, false measurer? The sum of life decides in

laughter and in worship, not your judgment.”

I must also speak the ridiculous. You coming men! You will recognize the supreme meaning by the fact that

he is laughter and worship, a bloody laughter and a bloody worship.

A sacrificial blood binds the poles. Those who know this laugh and worship in the same breath.

After this, however, my humanity approached me and said:

space, which had turned every living thing into ice. There stood a leaf-bearing but fruitless tree, whose leaves had

turned into sweet grapes full of healing juice through the working of the frost. So I picked some grapes and gave

them to a great waiting throng.

In reality; now, it was so: At the time when the great war broke out between the peoples of Europe, I found

myself in Scotland, compelled by the war to choose the fastest ship and the shortest route home. I encountered

the colossal cold that froze everything, I met up with the flood, the sea of blood, and found my barren tree

whose leaves the frost had transformed into a remedy. And I plucked the ripe fruit and gave it to you and I do not

know what I poured out for you, what bitter-sweet intoxicating drink, which left on your tongues an aftertaste of blood.

Believe me: It is no teaching and no instruction that I give you. On what basis should I presume to teach your

I give you news of the way of this man, but not of your own way. My path is not your path therefore I / cannot teach

you. The way is within us, but not in Gods, nor in teachings, nor in laws. Within us is the way, the truth, and the life.

Woe betide those who live by way of examples! Life is not with them. If you live according to an example,

you thus live the life of that example, but who should live your own life if not yourself. So live yourselves.

The signposts have fallen, unblazed trails lie before us.

Do not be greedy to gobble up the fruits of foreign fields. Do you not know that you yourselves are the fertile

acre which bears everything that avails you.

Yet who today knows this? Who knows the way to the eternally fruitful climes of the soul? You seek the way

through mere appearances, you study books and give ear to all kinds of opinion. What good is all that? There is only

one way and that is your way.

You seek the path. I warn you away from my own. It can also be the wrong way for you.

May each go his own way. I will be no savior, no lawgiver, no master teacher unto you. You are no longer

little children.

Giving laws, wanting improvements, making things easier, has all become wrong and evil. May each one seek

out his own way. The way leads to mutual love in community.

Men will come to see and feel the similarity and commonality of their ways.

Laws and teachings held in common compel people to solitude, so that they may escape the pressure of undesirable

contact, but solitude makes people hostile and venomous.

Therefore give people dignity and let each of them stand apart, so that each may find his own fellowship and

love it.

Power stands against power, contempt against contempt, love against love.

Give humanity dignity, and trust that life will find the better way.

The one eye of the Godhead is blind, the one ear of the Godhead is deaf, the order of its being is crossed by


So be patient with the crippledness of the world and do not overvalue its consummate beauty. Carl Jung,

The Red Book, The Way of What is to Come, Pages 229-231.