Indian Intermezzo 1937–1938
The journey to India in 1937–38 had a very different background from any of Jung’s previous journeys.
The first two, to North Africa and to the American Indians, were undertaken in an effort to see Europe from the outside.
The journey to East Africa and Egypt had the ostensible purpose of studying primitive psychology and approaching Egypt from Africa, down the Nile, instead of, as is usual, across the Mediterranean.
I am sure the revelation which Jung’s unconscious gave on the Nile impressed him deeply: that the unconscious itself had had a very different reason for encouraging him to take that journey, namely, to bring up the rather embarrassing question, “What is going to happen to Jung the psychologist in the wilds of Africa?”
It was probably the further unconscious reason which he then discovered, that escape from the rising tension in Europe had also played a considerable role in his decision, which made him refuse a tempting suggestion that he go to China about 1934.
He had been enormously impressed by Chinese wisdom, even before meeting Richard Wilhelm, when he first experimented one summer with the I Ching.
He gave up a burning wish to learn Chinese only when his studies in alchemy convinced him that he could never find the time to learn that most difficult of all languages.
He also longed to go to China to form his own conclusions about Chinese culture there, so I do not think there was anything he would have liked better than to accept a proposal that he go on a long journey through China which would have taken at least six months.
When he told me he had decided against it, he added sadly: “I realized my right place at present was here!”
Unfortunately, during his lifetime I did not see the connection between this decision and his realization on the Nile, and was not able to ask him whether such a connection existed, but I am convinced that it was the feeling he should not escape a second time from the mounting tension in Europe that made him deny himself this longed-for journey.
By 1937 he had somehow found time to read a great deal “about Indian philosophy and religious history,” and he “was deeply convinced of the value of Oriental wisdom.”
Therefore the invitation of the British Government of India “to take part in the celebrations connected with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the University of Calcutta,” which were being held in January, 1938, came as a welcome opportunity to see something of the Orient after all.
The guests landed in Bombay in December, 1937, and were taken to see quite a lot of India on the way to Calcutta.
Jung did not want to be bound by a fixed itinerary, so he suggested that Fowler McCormick also go with them, and that he and Fowler make some expeditions on their own, especially to South India and Ceylon, after the celebrations in Calcutta were over.
The whole journey, however, took less than three months, so he was away for a much shorter time than he would necessarily have been had he gone to China.
It was not easy, however, to add this journey to a year which already included the Terry Lectures at Yale and a seminar in New York.
He cut down his time in America to a minimum; even so, there were only a few weeks between his return from America and his departure for India.
Since he was leaving his patients and pupils for so long, he saw them all as often as possible, although that winter he necessarily omitted the English seminar and all his lectures at the E.T.H. Unfortunately, he did not allow sufficient time for his personal preparation for the journey (such as inoculations), and Toni Wolff was always convinced that his illness in Calcutta was a result of this omission.
I do not know if Jung cast an I Ching for this journey, as he had before going to Africa, but I certainly got the impression, when I saw him for the last time before he departed, that he was reckoning with the possibility that he might not return.
At least it seemed to me, from one or two things he said, that he was preparing his pupils for that eventuality.
A dangerous illness did indeed stand before him, the first of many he was to go through before his death.
Jung was sixty-two at this time and already considerably detached from life, although at the same time he still gave himself to it completely.
He told me that day what a different attitude he had toward this coming journey.
Before Africa, for example, he had been caught up in the prospect of the coming journey and would have been bitterly disappointed if it had been put off. “I look forward immensely to experiencing India and Indian culture for myself,” he said, “yet should it suddenly be cancelled I should not really be disappointed. Instead of traveling to Marseilles next Friday, I could quite easily settle down to doing something else that day.”
He fully realized, as he made clear in Memories, that this time he must remain in himself, “like a homunculus in the retort,” as he expressed it.
“India affected me like a dream, for I was and remained in search of myself, of the truth peculiar to myself.”
We can see clearly how far Jung’s inner development had progressed in the twelve years since his return from Africa.
That he was not so set on the journey was also partly due to his being so engrossed at the time in his intensive study of alchemy.
He even called the journey to Indian an intermezzo in that study, and he took with him a large volume, the first of the Theatrum Chemicum, and read it from beginning to end before he returned.
This volume contains the principle writings of Gerard Dorn, which Jung then read for the first time.
Readers familiar with the Mysterium Coniunctionis will remember that Jung quoted Dorn at considerable length in the last chapter, “The Conjunction,” because Dorn had seen deeper and knew more of alchemy’s subjective side than any of the other alchemists.
Jung described the effect of this reading during the journey to India:
Thus it was that this material belonging to the fundamental strata of European thought was constantly counterpointed by my impressions of a foreign mentality and culture.
Both had emerged from original psychic experiences of the unconscious, and therefore had produced the same, similar, or at least comparable insights.
Returning to the diagram on page 17: both his reading of Gerard Dorn and much of what he was seeing in India evidently came from the deepest levels of the unconscious, from “the primeval ancestors” layer or even lower.
We have already seen the same phenomenon at work when we were considering the writing of Jung’s commentary to The Secret of the Golden Flower.
But, as he stated: “India gave me my first experience of an alien, highly differentiated culture.”
This “alien” element came in from the higher levels, beginning with the large group layer and going on through the nation, clan, etc.
In the culture which Jung was absorbing, which came from these higher layers, the insights were by no means entirely the same, similar, or even comparable to his own psychic experiences, and it was these aspects of Indian culture that— during the rush of sight-seeing on the part of the whole group—proved completely indigestible to Jung.
He told us when he got home: “I could not digest India, and that is why I had to be so ill in Calcutta.”
Dysentery is a disease connected with digestion, and in his case it became so severe that there was no escape from ten days in the hospital during the celebrations in Calcutta.
Jung always hated not being able to meet obligations he had undertaken.
Therefore, he was, on the one hand, very embarrassed not to be able to attend all the celebrations for which he had been invited to India.
On the other hand, however, it was force majeure and in no way his own fault.
So the advantages on this occasion outweighed the disadvantages and, as he recalled in Memories, this enforced rest in the hospital was a “blessed island in the wild sea of new impressions, and I found a place to stand on from which I could contemplate the ten thousand things and their bewildering turmoil.”
In fact, such an opportunity for introversion was a godsend in the extraverted rush of his journey to India.
This journey necessarily followed the program arranged for the delegates to the Indian Science Congress at Calcutta.
In view of their itinerary between landing at Bombay and arriving in Calcutta it must have been a very full schedule.
Not only did they see one place of enthralling interest after the other but the program included “a good many dinners and receptions,” at which Jung learned a great deal about the social life and the individual psychology of many educated Indian men and women.
When he got back to Zürich, the women in his environment were obliged to reconsider their orientation toward being a woman.
He had been enormously struck in India by the skillful behavior of the Indian woman and by the fact that she really lived by her Eros principle, and thereby giving the men in her environment the opportunity to live their principle, supported on the feeling side by every woman they met, instead of—as is all too general in Europe—being douched with cold water from breakfast time on.
Soon after his return to Europe, he wrote about this, in The Dreamlike World of India:
I had a chance at these [dinners and receptions] to talk to educated Indian women. This was a novelty. Their costume stamps them as women. It is the most becoming, the most stylish and, at the same time, the most meaningful dress ever devised by women. I hope fervently that the sexual disease of the West, which tries to transform woman into a sort of awkward boy, will not creep into India in the wake of that fad “scientific education.” It would be a loss to the whole world if the Indian woman should cease to wear her native costume. India (and perhaps China, which I do not know) is practically the only civilized country where one can see on living models how women can and should dress. . . . It is a sad truth, but the European woman, and particularly her hopelessly wrong dress, put up no show at all when compared with the dignity and elegance of the Indian woman and her costume. Even fat women have a chance in India; with us they can only starve themselves to death.
He did not, however, think so well of the Hindu man’s clothing; the Indian male, he wrote, is “too fond of ease and coolness.”
But he also felt that Indians knew a great deal more about how to behave in a large family than Westerners do.
He said later in the same article:
You have to adapt yourself to the family and know how to talk and how to behave, when twenty-five to thirty members of a family are crowded together in a small house, with a grandmother on top. That teaches you to speak modestly, carefully, politely. It explains that small twittering voice and that flowerlike behaviour. The crowding together in families has the contrary effect with us. It makes people nervous, irritable, rough, and even violent. But India takes the family seriously. There is no amateurishness or sentimentality about it. It is understood to be the indispensable form of life, inescapable, necessary, and self-evident. It needs a religion to break this law and to make “homelessness” the first step to saintliness. It certainly seems as if Indians would be unusually pleasant and easy to live with, particularly the women; and, if the style were the whole man, Indian life would be almost ideal. But softness of manners and sweetness of voice are also a part of secrecy and diplomacy. I guess Indians are just human, and so no generalization is quite true.
Jung went in for generalizations as little as anybody I ever knew.
I realized painfully at the time, however, that it is unfortunately a fact that Western woman is going through a stage in which it is very difficult for her to live by her own principle, Eros.
As he made very clear in Woman in Europe, this is primarily because circumstances have forced her to live her masculine side.
“Masculinity means knowing what one wants and doing what is necessary to achieve it. Once this lesson has been learned it is so obvious that it can never again be forgotten without tremendous psychic loss.”
Jung in no way advised the European woman to try to put the clock back and return to earlier models.
“When she still wears her national Tracht (costume), European woman dresses very meaningfully, if never quite so successfully as her Indian sister. But now that she has opened the door to greater consciousness, she can never shut it again “without tremendous psychic loss.”
To realize how far one’s essential femininity has been lost is a very helpful though painful lesson, and those of us in Zürich gained a lot when Jung pointed this out to us on his return from India.
All these impressions were naturally very tiring for him and, although still very vigorous and enterprising, Jung was considerably exhausted when he reached Calcutta.
Jung often spoke of his experiences in India, but I never heard an exact itinerary of the route they took from Bombay, where they landed, to Calcutta, where the prearranged part of the journey culminated and ended.
A glance at the map shows one that they traveled right across India; they certainly visited Delhi, the hill of Sanchi, Agra, Allahabad, Benares, Darjeeling, and undoubtedly many other places as well.
The universities of Allahabad and Benares, as well as the university in Calcutta, bestowed doctorates upon Jung.
I have mentioned the deep impression—one could even say enlightenment—that he received at the Taj Mahal.
He was certainly equally moved by the stupas on the hill of Sanchi.
Later he often spoke of this experience, which eventually revealed “a new side of Buddhism to him.”
There is a vivid description of it in Memories but another one, in The Dreamlike World of India, is less well known and at least equally vivid:
Not very far from Agra and Delhi is the hill of Sanchi with its famous stupa. We were there on a brisk morning. The intense light and the extraordinary clarity of the air brought out every detail. There on the top of a rocky hill, with a distant view over the plains of India, you behold a huge globe of masonry, half buried in the earth. According to the Maha-Parinibbana-Sutta, Buddha himself indicated the way in which his remains were to be buried. He took two rice bowls and covered the one with the other. The visible stupa is just the bowl on top. One has to imagine the lower one, buried in the earth,. The roundness, a symbol of perfection since olden days, seems a suitable as well as an expressive monument for a Tathagata. It is of immense simplicity, austerity and lucidity, perfectly in keeping with the simplicity, austerity and lucidity of Buddha’s teaching. There is something unspeakably solemn about this place in its exalted loneliness, as if it were still witnessing the moment in the history of India when the greatest genius of her race formulated her supreme truth. This place, together with its architecture, its silence, and its peace beyond all turmoils of the heart, its very forgetfulness of human emotions, is truly and essentially Indian; it is as much the “secret” of India as the Taj Mahal is the secret of Islam. And just as the perfume of Islamic culture still lingers in the air, so Buddha, though forgotten on the surface, is still the secret breath of life in modem Hinduism. He is suffered at least to be an avatar of Vishnu.
This passage also provides considerable enlightenment concerning the difference between the two vivid impressions at the Taj Mahal and on the hill of Sanchi.
It was the “secret of Islam” that was revealed to him in the former, the secret of India on the latter.
The first fell on well-prepared soil.
It was eighteen years since he had first come face to face with Islam, on his journey to North Africa in 1920, and he had been pondering it ever since.
Therefore, its central secret, that is based on Eros, not on Logos, as the other great world religions are, could be brought up into consciousness at once, answering many questions that had been consciously puzzling him through all the intervening years.
These questions had been renewed in 1925, when he again very often came face to face with Islam on his journey to East Africa and down the Nile.
But this was his first direct contact with India; therefore, the levels above the primeval ancestors were still strange, even alien to him.
One fact indeed rose from the very deepest levels of all: [He ] grasped the life of Buddha as the reality of the Self which had broken through and laid claim to a personal life. [Jung had already realized much the same in regard to Christ. ]
For Buddha, the Self stands above all gods, a unus mundus which represents the essence of human existence and of the world as a whole.
The Self embodies both the aspect of intrinsic being and the aspect of its being known, without which no world exists.
Buddha saw and grasped the cosmogonic dignity of human consciousness; for that reason he saw clearly that if a man succeeded in extinguishing this light, the world would sink into nothingness.
Jung had already experienced this fundamental realization from the deepest layers of the unconscious, for himself and quite independently, on the Athi Plains in Africa, twelve years before he stood on the hill of Sanchi.
Although this fundamental realization probably came to him then and there, there was still so much entirely new to him on the Asian and Indian levels of the unconscious that one cannot doubt that it was also this experience on the hill of Sanchi that contributed to the “wild sea of new impressions” which landed him in hospital at Calcutta.
In fact, he related in Memories that at Sanchi he “was overcome by a strong emotion of the kind that frequently develops in me when I encounter a thing, person or idea of whose significance I am still unconscious.
There was still a great deal about Buddha and Buddhism that needed years before it would rise to consciousness, exactly as we have seen was the case with “the central secret of Islam.”
In What India Can Teach Us Jung spoke of the strange fact that:
Buddha has disappeared from Indian life and religion more than we could ever imagine Christ disappearing in the aftermath of some future catastrophe to Christianity. . . . India is not ungrateful to her master minds. Universities like Calcutta and Benares have important philosophy departments. Yet the main emphasis is laid on classical Hindu philosophy and its vast Sanscrit literature. The Pali Canon is not precisely within their scope. Buddha does not represent a proper philosophy. He challenges man! This is not exactly what philosophy wants. It, like any other science, needs a good deal of intellectual free play, undisturbed by moral and human entanglements. But also, small and fragmentary people must be able to “do something about it,” without getting fatally involved in big issues far beyond their powers of endurance and accomplishment. This is on the right road after all, though it is a longissima via. The divine impatience of a genius may disturb or even upset the small man. But after a few generations he will reassert himself by sheer force of numbers, and this too seems to be right.
Jung said earlier in the same article:
The remote goal of the transformation process, however, is very much what Buddha intended. But to get there is possible neither in one generation nor in ten. It obviously takes much longer, thousands of years at all events, since the intended transformation cannot be realized without an enormous development of consciousness. It can only be “believed” which is what Buddha’s, as well as Christ’s followers obviously did, assuming—as “believers” always do— that belief is the whole thing. Belief is a great thing, to be sure, but it is a substitute for a conscious reality which the Christian wisely relegates to a life in the hereafter. This “hereafter” is really the intended future of mankind, anticipated by religious intuition.
These passages—especially the words “and this too seems to be right”—show very clearly Jung’s amazing tolerance and acceptance of every man as he was.
He took every human life seriously, at whatever level of consciousness it had to be lived.
He was convinced that mankind’s greatest need is more consciousness, and he did everything he could to achieve this end himself and to help other people to do so.
Sometimes, his own “divine impatience of a genius” did disturb or even upset the small people in his environment, yet fundamentally he never rejected them for a smallness they could not help; although he deplored the general unconsciousness, he never condemned those who were unable to escape from it, for he knew that this also “seems to be right.”
His principal concern in India, however, as he reported in Memories, was “the psychological nature of evil.”
The burning problem of evil—which had concerned Jung since his childhood—had now, with the rise of the Nazis, forced its way into the front row of European problems.
As he wrote, many years later, in “Late Thoughts”:
“Evil has become a determinant reality. It can no longer be dismissed from the world by a circumlocution. We must learn how to handle it, since it is here to stay. How we can live with it without terrible consequences cannot for the present be conceived.”
Although Jung struggled all his life with this problem, we can see from the above words that he by no means regarded it as solved, even at the end of his life.
And he soon discovered in India that, though we can learn a great deal from the Indians’ very different conception of evil, yet they have not solved the problem either, at all events not from our point of view.
Even before Jung went to India he had been very much impressed by the way the Indian has integrated this problem of evil into his spiritual life.
His recognition of this achievement cast a new light for him on the whole subject, and he now realized how well the Oriental can integrate so-called evil without losing face, a thing we cannot do at all in the West.
But he soon saw the disadvantages of the Eastern point of view; good and evil have no outline and are never seen as quite real.
He remarked that we are thus left with “the paradoxical statement that Indian spirituality lacks both evil and good, or is so burdened by contradictions that it needs nirdvandva, the liberation from the opposites and from the ten thousand things.”
The problem of morality takes first place with the Westerner but this is by no means the Indian point of view.
The Indian regards good and evil as “merely varying degrees of the same thing.”
The Christian strives for good and succumbs to evil, the Indian declares the world to be only an illusion and strives to be liberated from it.
The Indian practices meditation and Yoga to achieve this end, whereas Jung realized, right through his “confrontation with the unconscious,” that the most important stage in meditation is above all to realize what has come to us from within in our own actual life.
Real life was always the most important thing of all to Jung, for he recognized it as the unique opportunity for the eternal Self to “enter three-dimensional existenece.”
When Jung got home from his Indian journey he told me that, in some ways, it had been the most bewildering experience of his life; but that as a result of it he had eventually found a standpoint, through realizing that the most important quality to cultivate is what the French call sagesse.
He then quoted—for the first time that I remember—the essence of Greek wisdom in the sentence he afterward quoted in Psychology and Alchemy:“Ex aggerate nothing, all good lies in the right measure.”
It seems to me that the motto he used at the beginning of The Psychology of the Transference, and which he sometimes also quoted, is nearly related:
“A warring peace, a sweet wound, an agreeable evil.” (John Gower: Confessio amantis.)
Although the Indian sees the outline of the opposites far less clearly than we do, he undoubtedly lays far more emphasis on their union and for that reason has taken sexuality into his religion in a way completely unknown in the West.
The Indian realizes fully that sexuality is not just a personal matter between man and woman, but is also the meaningful symbol for the reconciliation of all the opposites that remain tom apart so disastrously in the West.
Jung said in What India Can Teach Us:
If you want to learn the greatest lesson India can teach you, wrap yourself in the cloak of your moral superiority, go to the Black Pagoda of Konarak, sit down in the shadow of the mighty ruin that is still covered with the most amazing collection of obscenities, read Murray’s cunning old Handbook for India, which tells you how to be properly shocked by this lamentable state of affairs, and how you should go into the temples in the evening, because in the lamplight they look if possible “more (and how beautifully!) wicked”; and then analyse carefully and with the utmost honesty all your reactions, feelings, and thoughts. It will take you quite a while, but in the end, if you have done good work, you will have learned something about yourself, and about the white man in general, which you have probably never heard from any one else. I think, if you can afford it, a trip to India is on the whole most edifying and, from a psychological point of view, most advisable, although it may give you considerable headaches.
Jung very often referred to the “Black Pagoda of Konarak,” to the obscene sculptures, and to the amazing remarks made to him by the pandit who was with him. These obscenities were there “as a means to achieve spiritualization.”
Jung objected that, judging from the openmouthed delight shown by the young peasants, it was more likely they were having their heads filled with sexual fantasies.
That, the pandit replied, was just the point; they must be reminded to fulfill their karma or these “unconscious fellows” might forget it.
(One is reminded of the church bells being rung in South America to remind man of the need for propagation, as Jung mentioned in the 1923 Polzeath seminar.)
He was even more amazed when the pandit confided in him, as they left the temple and were walking down a lingam lane, that, as Jung had been so understanding, he would tell him a great secret: “These stones are man’s private parts.”
Jung used to say when he spoke of this experience: “I was dumbfounded; with us every child knows that fact, and in India it is the great secret.”
I never heard him say more than just to tell the story to illustrate the essential difference between the way sexuality is regarded in East and West, and to advise us to ponder it.
It seems to me, however, that the main difference is that, in the West, we regard sexuality almost purely biologically, as a means of propagating the species and to further personal relationships between man and woman, whereas, in the East, it is (or was) regarded as belonging to the gods, a matter for them alone.
It is, therefore, the great secret that man has also a physical right to participate in the mystery.
The Indian obviously lives sexuality much as we do, but perhaps even more unconsciously and purely instinctively.
Jung always said that the more primitive a people were, the less important sexuality was to them; it is no problem to them because it is not repressed as with us. Food, Jung used to say, is far more problematic to the primitive because it represents much more uncertainty.
When I speak of the Indian as “primitive,” I do not, of course, mean the educated Indian, who knows his own wonderful ancient culture, but the teeming multitude in the streets and the peasants to whom the pandit was referring when he spoke of the purpose of the temple obscenities at Konarak.
It was the specific way the Indian regarded sexuality that amazed. Jung, not the fact that it was attributed to the gods, for he had seen “its spiritual aspect and its numinous meaning” over twenty years before; it was indeed, as we have seen, the main cause of his break with Freud.
One could say that Jung’s wholeness led him to see both aspects of sexuality, long before he met it in India or in his reading about Eastern religion and philosophy.
Freud, on the contrary, saw sexuality only as it is usually regarded in the West: as a purely biological and personal matter, although he was profoundly affected unconsciously by its other religious and spiritual aspect, so that it was his real, but unrecognized, religion.
All these bewildering new impressions were too manifold and diverse for even Jung’s digestion, and in Calcutta he finally had an opportunity to catch up with them, while he was in the hospital.
He said that he returned to the hotel “in tolerably good health,” but Fowler McCormick recalled that he still looked very ill and that his condition gave Fowler cause for anxiety, both then and during their whole journey together through Southern India to Ceylon.
Jung refused, however. to let his health interfere with his profound interest in, and even enjoyment of, the end of his stay in India, or with his time in Ceylon.
In the meantime, while still in his Calcutta hotel, his unconscious sent him a dream which ignored his present environment, as did the dreams he had when he was in East Africa, and imperiously “wiped away all the intense impressions of India and swept me back into the too long neglected concerns of the Occident, which had formerly been expressed in the quest for the Holy Grail as well as in the search for the philosopher’s stone.”
He recorded this dream in full detail in Memories.
It concerned the search for the Grail, which urgently had to be in its castle that very evening for a special celebration.
Jung realized that it was the task of the group he was with in the dream to bring the Grail to the castle.
Six of them set out on an exhausting walk toward an uninhabited house where the Grail was hidden.
They found that it was on an island divided from where they were by an arm of the sea and Jung’s exhausted companions camped where they were and fell asleep. Jung had just concluded that he must swim this last stage alone when he woke up.
Jung reported that this dream took him out of the world of India and reminded him that India was not his task, but only an admittedly significant part which would carry him closer to his goal.
He said that the dream was asking him:
“What are you doing in India? Rather seek for yourself and your fellows the healing vessel, the servator mundi, which you urgently need. For your state is perilous: you are all in imminent danger of destroying all that centuries have built up.”
We are reminded of Jung’s realization in Africa that the unconscious was interested only in what “was going to happen to Jung the psychologist in the wilds of Africa” not primarily interested in Africa itself.
But there is an enormous difference and progress between the two experiences.
This time there was no reproach: Jung was not escaping from something he did not realize sufficiently in Europe, but it was now time to turn the searchlight of his mind onto the European problem and how it could best be served by the healing vessel of the Grail.
We shall see, from what happened in Europe only a few weeks after Jung got home, how urgent the problem was and why it was so vital for the Grail to be in the Grail Castle that very evening, to speak in the symbolism of Jung’s dream.
Ceylon, the last stage of Jung’s journey, no longer seemed to be India but more nearly related to the South Sea Islands with their touch of paradise.
Two things happened to him in Ceylon which made an especially strong impression on him and of which he often spoke later.
Two peasants collided and got stuck with their carts in a narrow street.
Jung waited for the furious mutual accusations that would certainly follow such a mishap in Europe but, to his amazement, “They bowed to each other and said: ‘Passing disturbance, no soul!’
That is to say, the disturbance takes place only outwardly in the realm of Maya, and not in the realm of true reality, where it neither happened nor left a mark. One might think this almost unbelievable in such simple people. One stands amazed.”
Jung then went on to give other examples.
Many years before Jung was in Ceylon, I had been enormously struck by a similar incident.
On my second visit to Bollingen in 1930, Jung hit the doorpost with the fender of his car while backing out of the garage.
I expected him to be very much annoyed and upset (as most people are by such things), but not at all. It did not seem to touch him in any way.
Evidently it was just “a passing disturbance, no soul,” and left no mark at all in the world of reality!
It was easy to overlook this quality of Jung’s, but as a matter of fact he never allowed himself to be upset by such superficial “passing disturbances.”
The reason many people overlooked this was that he could sometimes be very irritable and annoyed with apparently trivial mistakes.
But if one looked back carefully and objectively at the incident, instead of feeling ill-used one could always see that much more was involved than appeared at first sight. In my own case I usually learned that something unconscious in me—animus or shadow, in Jungian language—had thrown a monkey wrench in the works without my knowledge, or in other words, these things had a double floor of which at first I had seen only the superficial aspect. If what happened touched “the realm of true reality,” it also touched Jung, but not otherwise.
Later one saw the same thing in Jung’s reaction to the annoyingly persistent rumor that he was a Nazi. It never touched him in “the realm of true reality.”
Though the persistence of this unfounded rumor sometimes seemed to be longer than a “passing disturbance,” in the eyes of his No. 1 personality, he remained essentially unmoved.
Since the busy international port of Colombo in Ceylon had little to interest Jung, he soon left it and went inland.
In Kandy, the old royal city, there was a small temple (containing the relic of the Holy Tooth of Buddha) which held a special charm for him.
He often spoke of an evening ceremony in that temple which deeply impressed him.
It was preceded by a “one-hour drum concert” which he described in detail in Memories.
This music, which does not speak the white man’s language of the head, appeals to an even deeper layer than the American Indian’s language of the heart.
It speaks the most “ancient language of the belly and solar plexus,” right from the deepest layers of the human soul: the layer of the primeval ancestors and the layers below.
Prepared by this music, Jung was moved to see young men and girls pouring enormous quantities of jasmine flowers into mounds in front of the altars and singing a mantram under their breath.
Naturally, Jung thought they were praying to Buddha, but the monk who was with him explained: “No, Buddha is no more. He is in nirvana, we cannot pray to him.
They are singing:
‘This life is transitory as the beauty of these flowers. May my God [in sense of deva = guardian angel] share with me the merit of this offering.’”
Jung felt this to be an illumination of his life-long preoccupation: “The thorny problem of the relationship between eternal man, the Self, and earthly man in time and space.”
It was certainly one of the most important impressions that India left on him.
By the time he set out on his homeward voyage he had such a plethora of impressions that he stayed on the ship at Bombay, once more entirely engrossed in medieval alchemy.
He ended the chapter on this journey in Memories with these words: “But India did not pass me by without a trace; it left tracks which lead from one infinity into another infinity.” ~Barbara Hannah, Jung: His Life and His Work, Pages 173-182