Zarathustra Seminars

[Carl Jung on the “Whirlwind,”John the Baptist, Christ, Paul, John and Gnostics]

Prof. Jung:

The Brausewind, then, is this catastrophic wind that breaks into social existence.

Whenever the opposites meet, whenever a cold layer of air touches a warm layer of air there is most probably movement, there will be a cyclone, or a wandering whirlwind; one sees those wandering columns of water on the ocean, and in the desert one sees columns of dust.

That is the simile for the peculiar collective movement by which people are seized, ergriffen.

Here and there spouts of air gather up dust that moves and dies down, and then in another place it starts up again, like the little whirls of water on the sea or on our lakes when the Fohn is coming.

And that is so in human society when the Fohnwind begins to blow.

Since it shows in very different places one doesn’t connect these phenomena, but it is one and the same wind really.

Of course when it is in the desert it gathers up sand, and in the garden it gathers up leaves, and in a library it gathers up papers in heaps, and in crowds it gathers up hats, so each time one thinks it is something different; but it is always the same meteorological phenomenon: when opposites meet there is a whirlwind.

That is the manifestation of the spirit in its most original form.

So a savior is one who seizes, the Ergreifer who catches people like objects and whirls them into a form which lasts as long as the whirlwind lasts, and then the thing collapses and something new must come.

That is the great wind described in the Pentecostal miracle, because there two worlds were clashing together, the world of the slaves and the world of the highly differentiated mind.

You see, the teaching Christ received through his teacher, John the Baptist, must have been the ripe fruit of the time; otherwise it could not have been so in tune with the surroundings, with all the great problems of the time.

And it is also absolutely out of the question that one man alone could have invented it in his own lifetime without making use of an enormous tradition.

Christ draws very freely from the Old Testament and from other sources which are to us more or less unknown, partially because the early church did not care for any ideas previous to Christ.

It was in her interest to have a body of writing that fell from heaven, with no heathen material.

It should be quite obvious that God himself was the author of that stock of books, so that nobody would be able to do any better.

Any such institution must found itself upon an unquestionable authority.

So already in the early church nothing was known about the things that had happened before; they were soon buried in oblivion.

But we have evidence that John must have belonged to a certain religious movement, current in those days, which must have been something like the Essenes, also called the Therapeuts, who were chiefly occupied in healing the sick and interpreting dreams.

They were sort of directeurs de conscience for rich people at the courts, and we have evidence that they were called in in cases of particularly ticklish dreams.

When the Tetrarchos of Palestine had a disagreeable dream that was too hot for the court interpreters, they called in a doctor from abroad, an Essene, to tell the old man about it because they were afraid for their heads.

The Essenes had great authority, as if they belonged to a feared body of medicine men.

Then we know from Philo Judaeus of Alexandria that monasteries existed in those days and that there were considerable settlements on the Dead Sea and in Egypt, and they naturally had a body of teaching.

There are still disciples of John in the neighborhood of Basra and Kut-el-Amara in Mesopotamia; they have a collection of sacred books, one of them has been translated recently, the Mandaeans Book of John.?

The Mandaeans were disciples of John and they were Gnostics.

Peculiarly enough, the Gnostic Evangel is also called the Evangel of St. John; this is obscure, but since it was written only at the beginning of the second century, it is possible that the name of John covers the Gnostic side of Christian origins; on the one side, he was decidedly an orthodox Jew and on the other side he must have received the Gnostic teaching.

Paul also had been a Gnostic, a disciple of a Jewish Gnostic, the Rabbi Gamaliel the elder; and we have definite evidence in his writings of a Gnostic education: he uses Gnostic terms, particularly in the Epistle to the Ephesians.

So we are almost forced to assume that Christ received Gnostic teaching and some of his sayings-like the parable of the Unjust Steward which we recently mentioned, and particularly the so-called “Sayings of Jesus” which are not contained in the New Testament-are closely related to Gnosticism.

Also those Evangels which were not accepted by the church, and therefore mostly destroyed, contained Gnostic teaching; we can substantiate this from the knowledge of the
fragments which we still possess, the Gospel of the Egyptians, for instance, and among the Apocrypha of the New Testament, the Acts of St. Thomas, where the Holy Ghost is called Sophia and where she is the blessed mother.

So already in its origins, Christianity was so closely surrounded by Gnostic and by Alexandrian wisdom that it is more than probable that Christ received a Gnostic initiation and possessed a rather profound understanding of the human soul and the peculiarities of spiritual development.

One could say that he himself was the ripe fruit of antiquity; he gathered up in himself the essence of the wisdom of the Near East, contained the juice of Egypt and of Greece, and came together with the mob.

And that caused a great whirlwind which moved masses and formed them, which brought about that form which we call Christianity. ~Carl Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Pages 1030-1032.