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Visions Seminar

Dr: Jung: Yes, quite literally, she grows over the obstacle, she assumes the position or the attitude of the tree; that is, she does not do it by will, she makes no violent attempt to force her way, she leaves it to natural growth.

There is no other way.

She has to stand still and wait until she has grown enough to reach over the top.

That is a very definite psychological situation.

You see, the unconscious always has a tendency to create an impossible problem, and as long as a patient has not been faced with such a problem, or as long as he can promise himself a solution of it, he has certainly not yet reached his particular problem, and all else is merely preparatory.

For the unconscious always produces an impossible situation in order to force the individual to bring out his very best.

Otherwise one stops short of one’s best, one is not complete, one does not realize oneself.

It needs an impossible situation where one has to renounce one’s own will and one’s own wit, and do nothing but wait and trust to the impersonal power of growth and development.

The vision says to our patient: here is this wall and you can only see the other side by turning the eye inward, you can only get over the wall by growing like a tree.

This is, of course, an absolutely different mechanism from the animal way of running after a thing-like a dog.

Now on the other side she sees an old man.

She says: I looked into his eyes and saw therein a great river full of writhing bodies.

A few men stood upon the bank and called with a loud voice to the struggling masses in the rushing water.

The water cast a few souls upon the bank.

Then the men who stood there lifted them up and showed them a star and a sun.

This I saw in the eyes of the old man.

The old man said: “You have perceived” and he sank into the earth.

What is this intermezzo?

Who would the old man be?

Mrs. Crowley: The wise old man

Dr. Jung: Yes, in this case the animus, but in the disguise of the old man.

She looks into his eyes-here is the eye again-meaning that she sees what he sees.

This man is of legendary age, I don’t know how many centuries old; he is the personification of the collective unconscious which is of immense age, and in his eyes she sees with the vision of the collective unconscious.

And what is the view the old man has in his eye?

What is this great river full of bodies?

Prof Eaton: The river of time.

Dr. Jung: Do you remember the dream of the river of time in one of the former seminars?

The bodies are the individual lives, twisting and turning and writhing themselves into a sort of pattern that dissolves and reforms again and again.

It is the river of time, of life, in other words.

Now why are those men standing on the bank?

Why are they not all in that chaotic river?

Mrs. Schlegel: Perhaps they are conscious Remark: They are individuated.

Dr. Jung: Yes, these are the people of detached consciousness, people who are conscious of themselves and of life.

And that they call to the struggling masses in the rushing water produces the effect that a few souls are cast upon the bank-they wake up and leave the great river.

Then the men who stand there lift them up and show them a star and a sun.

What does that mean?

Remark: Consciousness and individual fate.

Dr. Jung: Exactly.

The star is the individual fate, and the sun means the light of day, and it is also the symbol of the deity.

Consciousness of the individual life and of the deity is the idea.

Then the old man said, “You have perceived,” and disappeared.

What has she perceived?

Miss Sergeant: The necessity of consciousness. I should say the difference between the people in the water and the people on the bank.

Dr. Jung: The interesting fact is that what one gets from that wise old man has always a universal sense-if he is really a positive figure.

Prof Eaton: The old man said “you have perceived,” without qualification, which to my mind means that she has perceived all.

Dr. Jung: Exactly. What she sees is really a point of view, a Weltanschauung.

It is a very simple thought, but of tremendous consequences.

She sees the chaos of life, an interminable river of life that rolls on to eternity, making no sense whatever because everything is merely chaotic.

Only a few are standing on the bank and are aware of it.

And so in our world only a few are standing upon the bank and really understand, see with their eyes what is happening; all the others are just toiling on as blind as ever.

The unconscious emphasizes here the extraordinary importance of consciousness, consciousness as a sort of redemption from the eternal wheel of death and rebirth.

Like the wheel in Buddhistic philosophy, death and rebirth, the curse of that eternal illusory meaningless existence.

In this vision we find the same principle as in Buddhism, the consciousness of what is happening as a redeeming principle.

The people standing on the bank are aware of the individual fate, and the relation to the deity, or the star and the sun.

Those are the two important principles. Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Pages 321-322