C.G. Jung and Hermann Hesse by Miguel Serrano

‘That may well be,’ said Jung, ‘for the Hindus are notoriously weak in rational exposition.

They think for the most part in parables or images.

They are not interested in appealing to reason.

That, of course, is a basic condition of the Orient as a whole . . .. As for your hypothesis about the Super-conscious, that is a metaphysical concept and as a consequence outside of my interests.

I wish to proceed solely on facts and experiences.

So far, I have found no stable or definite centre in the unconscious and I don’t believe such a centre exists.

I believe that the thing which I call the Self is an ideal centre, equidistant between the Ego and the Unconscious, and it is probably equivalent to the maximum natural expression of individuality, in a state of fulfilment or totality.

As nature aspires to express itself, so does man, and the Self is that dream of totality.

It is therefore an ideal centre, something created.

The Hindus have written wisely on this point.

According to the Sankya philosophers, the Purusha is the Self, and the Atman may be similar to it.

But the definition always takes the form of a parable.

Do you know the story of the disciple who went to visit his Master to ask him what the Atman was?

The Master replied, “It is everything.”

But the disciple persisted: “Is it the Maharaja’s elephant?” “Yes,” answered the Master, “You· are the Atman and so is the Maharaja’s elephant.”

After that, the disciple departed very satisfied.

On his way back, he met the Maharaja’s elephant, but he did not move out of the road because he thought that if he and the elephant were both Atman, then the elephant would recognize him.

Even when the elephant driver shouted at him to move, he refused to do so, and so the elephant picked him up with his trunk and threw him to the side.

The next day, covered with bruises, the disciple: once again called on his Master and said, “You told me that the elephant and I were both Atman, and now look what it has done to me.”

The Master remained perfectly calm and asked the disciple what the elephant driver had told him.

“To get out of the way,” answered the disciple. “You should have done what he told you to do,” said the Master, “because the elephant driver is also Atman.”

Thus the Hindus have an answer for everything/ said Jung, laughing. ‘They know a great deal. .. .’

‘The Hindus live entirely in symbols,’ I said, ‘They are penetrated and inter-penetrated by them, but they don’t interpret them, nor do they like anyone else to interpret them, since that would be like destroying them.

I [Serrano] think that is why your work is not much known or discussed in India, even though you have devoted so much time to its culture and to the Orient in general. You interpret symbols. On the other hand, you are very well known and widely read in my own country.’

‘I [Jung] know, I am always receiving letters from Chile and from other countries in South America, and that surprises me since all of my work has been directed towards myself; all of the hooks that I have written are but by-products of an intimate process of individuation, even when they are connected by Hermetic links to the past and, in all probability to the future.

But since they are not supposed to be popular, and are not directed towards the masses, I am somewhat frightened by the sudden success I have had here and there.

I am afraid it is not good, because real work is completed in silence and strikes a chord in the minds of only a very few.

There is an old Chinese saying which states that if a man sitting alone in his own room thinks the right thoughts, he will be heard thousands of miles away.

Dr. Jung remained quiet for a moment before continuing:

‘Yes, India is an extraordinarily interesting country, and you should live that experience right, and you should live it intensely until the hour comes …. I also wanted to confront that universe and, as a product of the Christian West, to use it to test my own ways, and to give life to those zones within me which correspond to those of the Hindus, but which in the West for the most part remain dormant.

And that is why I went to India in 1938.

Let me tell you  what I now think of that country, and you can correct me later.

So far as I can see, an Indian, so long as he remains an Indian, doesn’t think-at least in the same way we do.

Rather, he perceives a thought. In this way, the Indian approximates primitive ways of thinking.

I don’t say that the Indian is primitive, but merely that the processes of his thought remind me of primitive methods of producing thoughts.

Primitive reasoning is in essence an unconscious function which only perceives immediate results.

We can only hope to find that kind of reasoning in a civilization which has progressed virtually without interruption from primitive times.

Our natural evolution in Western Europe was broken by the introduction of a psychology and of spirituality which had developed from a civilization higher than our own.

We were interrupted at the very beginning when our beliefs were still barbarously polytheistic, and these beliefs were forced underground and have remained there for the last two thousand years.

That I believe explains the divisiveness that is found in the Western mind.

Still in a primitive state, we were forced to adopt the comparatively sophisticated doctrines of Christian grace and love.

A dissociation was thus produced in Western man between the conscious and the unconscious part of his mentality.

The conscious mind was undoubtedly freed from irrationality and instinctive impulses, but total individuality was lost.

Western man became someone divided between his conscious and unconscious personality.

The conscious personality could always be domesticated because it was separated from the primitive; and as a consequence we in the West have come to be highly disciplined, organized and rational.

On the other hand, having allowed our unconscious personality to be suppressed, we are excluded from an understanding or appreciation of the primitive man’s education and civilization.

Nevertheless, our unconscious personality still exists and occasionally erupts in an uncontrolled fashion.

Thus we are capable of relapsing into the most shocking barbarisms and, the more successful we become in science and technology, the more diabolical are the uses to which we put our inventions and discoveries.

‘But to make man aware of his conscious side is not the only way to civilize him, and in any case, is not the ideal way.

A far more satisfactory approach would be to consider man as a whole instead of considering his various parts.

What is needed is to call a halt to the fatal dissociation that exists between man’s higher and lower being; instead, we must unite conscious man with primitive man.

In India we can find a civilization which has incorporated everything that is essential to primitivism and, as a consequence, we find man considered as a whole.

The civilization and psychology of India are well-represented in their temples, because these temples represent the Universe.

I make this point in particular in order to explain what I mean by not thinking.

What I mean is simply that, thank God, tlu·rt: is still a man who has not learned how to think, but who still perceives his thoughts as though they were visions or living beings, and who perceives his gods as though they were visible thoughts, based on instinctive reality.

He has made peace with his gods, and they live with him.

It is true that the life he leads is close to nature.

It is full of hope, of brutality, misery, sickness and death; nevertheless, it has a completeness, calm satisfaction and an emotional beauty which is unfathomable.

Undoubtedly, the logic of this civilization is imperfect, and we see fragments of Western science side by side with what we call superstition.

But if these contradictions are improbable to us, they are not to the Indians.

If these contradict exist they are merely the peculiarities of autonomous thought and are responsible only to themselves.

The Indian himself is not responsible for these contradictions, since his thought comes to him.

This phenomenon is illustrated by the Indian lack of interest in the details of the Universe.

He is only interested in having a vision of totality.

But alas, he does not realize that the living world can be destroyed in a struggle between two concepts. ‘ ~Carl Jung, Jung-Hesse A Friendship, Page 50-54