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The “Secret of Life.”

999 secret

Letters Volume II


Dear N., Bollingen, August 1959

As promised, I will try to sketch my “reaction”:

I was drawn into the dream which oneself is, and in which there is no I and no You any more.

It begins with the great parents, the King and Queen, who own many forests, fields, meadows, and vineyards.

Late in life someone finds his inheritance, a tiny little bit of land, where he grows his vine and tree of life (vita = life, vitis = vine, vinum = wine).

He has to acquire it for himself because he has been expelled from paradise and has nothing more, or rather he has but doesn’t know it.

It is walled round like a holy place.

There he sees everything that has ever happened to him: sun and rain, heat and cold, sickness, wounds, tears and pain, but also fruitfulness and increase, sweetness and drunkenness, and therewith access to the All, the Whole.

Though he doesn’t know it, somebody else is there, an old man who knows but doesn’t tell.

When one has looked and laboured for a long time, one knows oneself and has grown old. – The “secret of life” is my life, which is enacted round about me, my life and my death; for when the vine has grown old it is torn up by the roots.

All the tendrils that would not bear grapes are pruned away.

Its life is remorselessly cut down to its essence, and the sweetness of the grape is turned into wine, dry and heady, a son of the earth who serves his blood to the multitude and causes the drunkenness which unites the divided

and brings back the memory of possessing all and of the kingship, a time of loosening, and a time of peace.

There is much more to follow, but it can no longer be told.

Ever yours,


Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 514-515