Red Book

The Bath of Diana by Clouet, Francois (1510-1572)

To be that which you are is the bath of rebirth. In the depths,being is not an unconditional persistence but an endlessly slow growth.

You think you are standing still like swamp water, but slowly you flow into the sea that covers the earth’s greatest deeps, and is so vast that firm land seems only an island imbedded in the womb of the immeasurable sea.

As a drop in the ocean you take part in the current, ebb and flow.

You swell slowly on the land and slowly sink back again in interminably slow breaths.

You wander vast distances in blurred currents and wash up on strange shores, not knowing how you got there.

You mount the billows of huge storms and are swept back again into the depths.

And you do not know how this happens to you.

You had thought that your movement came from you and that it needed your decisions and efforts, so that you could get going and make progress.

But with every conceivable effort you would never have achieved that movement and reached those areas to which the sea and the great wind of the world brought you.

From endless blue plains you sink into black depths; luminous fish draw you, marvelous branches twine around you from above.

You slip through columns and twisting, wavering, dark-leaved plants, and the sea takes you up again in bright green water to white, sandy coasts, and a wave foams you ashore and swallows you back again, and a wide smooth swell lifts you softly and leads you again to new regions, to twisting plants, to slowly creeping slimy polyps, and to green water and white sand and breaking surf.

But from far off your heights shine to you above the sea in a golden light, like the moon emerging from the tide, and you become aware of yourself from afar.

And longing seizes you and the will for your own movement. You want to cross over from being to becoming, since you have recognized the breath of the ;sea, and its flowing, that leads you here and there without your ever adhering; you have also recognized its surge that bears you to alien shores and carries you back, and gargles you up and down.

You saw that it was the life of the whole and the death of each individual.

You felt yourself entwined in the collective death,from death to the earth’s deepest place, from death in your own strangely breathing depths.

Oh-you long to be beyond; despair and mortal fear seize you in this death that breathes slowly and streams back and forth eternally.

All this light and dark, warm, tepid, and cold water, all these wavy; swaying, twisting plantlike animals and bestial plants, all these nightly wonders become a horror to you, and you long for the sun, for light dry air, for firm stones, for a fixed place and straight lines, for the motionless and firmly held, for rules and preconceived purpose, for singleness and your own intent.

The knowledge of death came to me that night, from the dying that engulfs the world.

I saw how we live toward death, how the swaying golden wheat sinks together under the scythe of the reaper, / like a smooth wave on the sea-beach. He who abides in common life becomes aware of death with fear.

Thus the fear of death drives him toward singleness.

He does not live there, but he becomes aware of life and is happy; since in singleness he is one who becomes, and has overcome death.

He overcomes death through overcoming common life. He does not live his individual being, since he is not what he is, but what he becomes.~Carl Jung, The Red Book, Pages 266-267.

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