Visions Seminar

25 March 1931 Visions Seminar Lecture IX

Last time we dealt with the symbol of the eye, which is a very widespread archetypal image; it appears in the history of the human mind at different periods and in many parts of the world.

I could have brought you a number of contributions to illustrate that, but I don’t want to go too far into this symbolism just now because it does not play such an immediate role here; it is only an anticipation of mandalas which the patient drew later on.

But I have a few contributions at least. I will read you first a short quotation from the Upanishads, where there are a number of passages about the eyes.

In one, for instance, there is the aspect of the two eyes as the male and the female eye, the male eye being

identified with the sun, and the female eye, the left eye, with the moon.

The same idea is found in Egypt in the famous Unas text.

Unas was one of the very early kings and from a text of his time are derived those strange ideas of devouring the gods, where the Pharaoh eats the small gods for breakfast, and the big gods for his midday meal, and the middle-sized gods for his evening meal.

And there is an apparently unique passage about the white eye and the black eye of Horus.

Usually there is only question of the one eye of Horus, but in the Unas text he has two eyes.

So the Pharaoh eats also the eyes of Horus, the white and the black eye.

The interesting thing is that the white eye is the summer sun and the black eye is the winter sun, the weak sun.

Then Ra is also supposed to have two eyes, and the left eye would be the winter eye and the right eye

the summer eye.

Also there is the comparison with the sun and the moon as being the two eyes of heaven.

This is the passage from the Upanishads: “The man that is here in the right eye is called by the name Indha, the kindler of fire-yet, although he is Indha really, they call him also in a veiled way Indra” (the idea is

that the people called him Indra, thus linking him up with the great god Indra) “because the gods love that which is concealed and are shy of the things that are manifest.

Furthermore the human figure in the left eye is his wife, the viraJ, the shining one.”

So the right eye would be the male eye that kindles the fire and the left eye would be his wife, the female


Those are the two things which our patient sees on the black wall, the star that emanates and the eye that receives.

Now Dr. Reichstein has just given me a contribution from a book by Jane Leade, Revelation. I don’t know it.

s it a modern book?

Dr. Reichstein: No, it is from the seventeenth century. She was an Englishwoman. A German translation of her writings was published in Amsterdam in 1696. This passage is quoted from a German edition published in Strasburg in 1807.

Dr. Jung: It is called Revelations, the Tree of Faith or the Tree of Life.

There is a vision of a bowl of crystal, and seven golden arrows with which one shoots at the goal where the insurmountable power is located.

Then a week later the same vision occurred, but this time five arrows have reached the goal; two are left over which are destined to make a breach in the sphere that should be pierced or traversed, but they are hindered through a sort of obstacle, a pool of slime.

Then the last, the seventh arrow, is the symbol of an all-seeing eye with two wings, which enable the

arrow to fly over the pool; that is the idea of penetration, of overcoming the obstacle, and penetrating the secret chamber.

Arrows have the meaning of directed libido, and golden arrows would mean value, which would be of course energy or libido, so they are directed units of libido.

Seven is the holy number.

Seven does not mean the arithmetical number in such a case, it means a quality, just as primitive numbers mean qualities and not arithmetical values.

So when the number seven occurs in a dream, it refers to the quality seven, which simply means mana, just as the number four, or three, or any other of the primary numbers are supposed to contain mana.

To the primitive, numbers represent magic qualities.

The possibility of counting was discovered relatively late, and the first perception of numbers was merely an extension of individual knowledge of the units.

For instance, a primitive chief had a herd of about six-hundred-fifty head of cattle that were driven into the corral every evening, and the chief knew when they were all there; sometimes he apparently counted them, but he could only count to ten so he must have known every head individually.

As our peasants in Switzerland always have individual names for their cows, and they count them by their names instead of with their fingers, so the primitive chief knew when all his cattle were in by the fact that they all had individual qualities, or individual names.

Also, he can estimate the size of a herd of gazelles or elephants by the extension of ground they cover when pasturing.

Numbers are, to begin with, a sort of geometrical design to him, which accounts for the symbolism of the so-called holy or mana numbers; all numbers from one to nine are mana and certain numbers besides.

That is, all the primary numbers, the first that man could count, were mana because they formed particular recognizable geometrical designs; and then the next mana numbers, like 12 or 2 1, were constructed geometrically from the primary numbers.

For instance, twelve was represented in Egypt as a perfect crystal with twelve facets, and that is a symbol. In the Musee Egyptien at Cairo there is a beautiful blue crystal-well, it is made of glass-that represents the

number twelve, and each surface consists of a triangle which is another mana number; so the whole thing is mana and probably used for magic purposes.

These seven arrows, then, simply mean libido arrows that are seeking the goal, and the goal is characterized by the quality of insurmountable power.

That is the Shiva bindu point, the point of unextended intensity.

Then the last arrow, which should transcend the obstacle, that black pool of slime, is characterized by the symbol of the all-seeing eye and the two wings.

This leads us a bit beyond our actual symbol of the eye; the eye with the two wings is a derivative of the eye which we are dealing with here.

It means a winged view, a winged thought, a sort of magic thought that carries the libido across, indicating that the last part of the way can only be done by winged thought.

Now the highest center in the Tantric yoga system is between the eyes, the so-called ajna center, the center of knowledge or of knowing, and that is represented by a circle, a mandala, with two wings.

This is very ancient symbolism; one eye of Ra, the summer eye, is the disk of the sun with the two wings, and that disk is surrounded by the cobra, the royal serpent.

The Egyptian symbol which you see on all temples is a parallel to the Hindu symbolism of the creative

intensity, where Shakti, the goddess of creative energy, appears in place of the snake.

Now we will go on to the next series of visions.

We are here concerned with the question of whether our patient can penetrate and pass beyond the black wall.

She says: I beheld a strong giant. He stood lifting up his hair to the rain which fell upon his head.  When he saw me he put me on his head and we descended underneath the sea.

We have no reason to assume that she could not penetrate the eye, though it is not mentioned that she has done so.

So, since she is in a symbolic situation, which shows that she is in the unconscious, we may assume that she has really passed into the interior of the eye; and the interior of the eye is liquid, and she is here under the sea.

Then the figure one sees in the eye is identified with Indra, the great god in the text I read you, so that giant is the figure in the eye, “smaller than small yet greater than great,” and it is of course again an animus figure.

His gigantic dimensions show that he is a sort of god or demigod.

We see him here engaged in some activity of his own apparently, before being concerned with her, as if she had caught him in the act of doing something meant for himself only-lifting up his hair for the rain to fall


Have you an idea what that could mean?

Mrs. Fierz: He is strengthening the power of his head.

Dr. Jung: Yes.

This symbolism sounds very absurd, but it is really a sort of primitive magic ceremony, of which the patient is not aware; these images come rapidly, one after the other, and she herself cannot make out what it is all about.

The rain that falls from heaven has always a fertilizing quality, and since it comes from above it has celestial mana.

So the rain is more than water pouring down, as the sunshine is more than wavelengths coming from the sun; it is also mana and therefore has all sorts of psychological effects.

For instance, the fuss we make about sun cures has much to do with the mana of the sun; it has the most extraordinarily psychological effect upon people.

And so practically everything which is natural is not only what we understand it to be, that thing and nothing else, just rational; it is irrational at the same time, it has a hidden mana quality which can only be discovered by analyzing the unconscious effects of these very natural events.

To know what the rain means, you should expose yourself to the rain in order to experience the mana


Naturally your conscious mind would think it was just water falling down, but there is something particular about it.

Certain people quite definitely like to be in the rain.

Expose yourself to the rain in your bathing suit and see how it works; it is entirely different from a mere


Dr. Adler: There is a custom in Germany of putting children in the rain in spring so that they may grow quicker.

Dr. Jung: Exactly.

You see rain in popular superstition is used as a charm, it is magic, and that is not to be rationalized; it is an entirely psychological effect.

You can say that is only a poetic idea, but it is a fact, it is poetic mana.

It seems as if one-half of the world had been made by an engineer and the other half by a foolish poet.

So the giant is strengthening his hair by receiving that mana; it is like watering his flower beds, he is making it grow.

And what about the hair in itself?

Mrs. Deady: In the story of Samson, his hair was his strength.

Dr. Jung: Yes, when his hair was cut he lost his power. Hair is supposed to be a sign of strength.

Therefore a person with very thick strong hair is assumed to be temperamentally strong, particularly passionate, or brutal, or a sexual hero.

Then the hair has much to do with the head, and therefore people, especially women, have always been very keen about hairdressing.

Primitive women sometimes arrange their hair in a very elaborate way, and not only women, but men also.

One sees in Africa astounding fantasies upon the heads of those people, built up with the aid of clay and wax and all sorts of things.

So what would hair mean?

Miss Sergeant: Thinking.

Dr. Jung: Well, yes. It is mana emanating from the head, and therefore you often see sunlike structures upon the head.

And what people cannot do with hair they try with hats-by way of expressing something with the head.

Naturally one always tries to make up for whatever is lacking.

One can almost tell the condition of their mind from the kind of hats women wear.

Now this giant obviously wants to strengthen the emanation from the head, whatever that is.

It usually has something to do with the power of thought, and it may have to do with will, or with understanding and insight; that is not quite clear.

But I assume that in this case the giant would be the animus, who is trying to increase the power of his head

because he feels that a task is waiting for him.

Something very difficult seems to be ahead, and it is now as if he were just waiting for the coming of his lady into the unconscious.

Then he puts her upon his head, again emphasizing it.

This shows how big he is; she appears like a little figurine, and he is like Zeus holding his daughter Pallas at the moment when she came out of his head as a newborn baby.

So we may conclude that the task must be rather formidable from the fact that she needs such an enormous animus to cope with it.

Then from underneath the sea, she says:

There we came upon a woman asleep surrounded by writhing snakes. The giant called to her: “Arise, the time has come.”

At this the snakes subsided.

The woman arose, and walking over the quiet snakes, she came to me and kissed me. Her face was dark, her lips full and red.

She seemed very strong.

She took me by the hand and led me into a room where many young men were standing.

I saw her go to one and embrace him. He called me and took us both into his arms.

Then again she took me by the hand and led me to another room.

There I saw many old men sitting with their eyes fixed upon the ground.

She called out to the old men: “I bring you a gift,” and the old men stood up and lifted up their eyes while we passed by.

This is the picture of the big woman, this Etruscan type, clearly a goddess, and my patient is the small figure who is to be initiated.

This would be the cave under the sea. Now what about this big woman?

First of all we have the attribute that she is surrounded by snakes which writhe about her.

What would that indicate?

Mrs. Crowley: The earth quality, the earth energy. Also a sort of magic.

Dr. Jung: Well, here it just means, Look out!

I told you about that famous inscription on the Palatine in Rome-like a sort of exclamation mark.

Magic, mana, dangerous, important!

It indicates that there is something very definite about this woman.

As she describes her, what would be her chief characteristic?

Dr. Baynes: Erotic.

Dr. Jung: Yes, that is indicated by the full red lips.

Women paint their lips nowadays to mark their erotic quality. It suggests cherries that ought to be eaten. Sure enough, it is a shameless advertisement of the Eros.

You see, they cannot do such a thing and believe afterwards that they were quite innocent.

So this is the woman that appears now in civilized humanity, the woman with the very visible legs and the painted mouth and all the other paraphernalia of the cocotte.

Here is the very substance of it, it is the chthonic woman par excellence, and since she is of superhuman size, she would be the chthonic goddess.

And from the subsequent events, what do you think she is doing with the poor little initiate?

Mrs. Crowley: It is a sort of introduction.

Dr. Jung: An introduction to what kind of adventure?

Mrs. Crowley: An erotic adventure.

Dr. Jung: She says that there are old men sitting about and the woman says, “I am bringing you a gift.”

What does that mean?

Please use your imagination, it is getting very exciting.

Dr. Richstein: She is offering her to them.

Dr. Jung: Yes, it is sacrificial prostitution, quite simply. She is thrown to the wild beasts, as it were.

Now that is very much against her conscious intention and conscious convictions.

Naturally such a very decent woman would loathe the idea of being thrown into the street, being a prey to men and particularly to old men.

This earth goddess is offering her as a sort of sandwich to a club of old men.

What conclusion would you draw from such a shocking fact?

Mrs. Crowley: I should say it was perhaps a mental thing; they would represent a more developed side.

Dr. Jung: We must leave the mental side for the time being because we are in the bowels of the earth where things have a very peculiar aspect at first; we shall come to the mental side later, that is the conscious side.

But these old men represent the animus under the chthonic aspect, which is absolutely different from his mental aspect.

Obviously, it is a compensatory gesture in the unconscious, from which one can gauge this woman’s pride; she wants to spare herself, to guide her life, with not one thought of sacrifice or any kind of application to life.

Naturally if she were very young it would be the right thing to do, because young people must assert their will.

But she is no longer really young, she is rather over thirty, approaching thirty-five, the fatal year when things begin to turn, so she cannot afford to behave as if she were seventeen.

She must think of giving herself up, so that the divine will in her, that wants to realize itself, can fulfill its decree.

And that is the way the unconscious presents it, the way life appears from the unconscious.

When she had these visions I did not know what they meant, for I had no time to go into the detail.

So this is the absolutely unprejudiced voice of her unconscious, saying: “If you want to be initiated, you must be offered to the men; you will be a sort of temple prostitute.”

That is a reference to the famous old institution where prostitution in the temple was thought to be highly creditable; the women were called hierodules, the servants of the god or of the sanctuary.

In Babylon, it was the prerogative of the women of the nobility to sleep on the roof of a temple in turn, being ladies-in-waiting of the god, so to speak.

Every night another woman was ready on the roof of the temple in case the god should descend and want her. That was such an offering of the body.

To the primitive mind these things have an entirely different value, what we call spiritual or material are to them not separated.

The stone is spirit and the spirit is stone, the body is soul and the soul is body, there is no difference.

What one does with the body may be highly spiritual, and what one does with the mind may be highly material.

If nowadays the ladies of the nobility should take turns in sleeping on the roof of the cathedral, it would be highly improbable that a god would descend, though it might be a grave moral danger to the person or to the men working on the roof.

Such a thing has no meaning to us any longer, but it has a meaning in the unconscious, where it would indicate an attitude of absolute submission to whatever fate decrees.

Usually we only submit to what our head thinks, and not to what our heart really wants or needs.

We always want to control our fate, and this gesture in the vision is directed against just that headstrong attitude.

She wants to do the thing which is reasonable or hygienic.

As the Bishop of York recently said: “Sex is not only wholesome, it is holy.”

But that the Bishop of York said such a thing means that it is a modern point of view, with nothing holy about it.

So this woman’s attitude of always knowing what is best, not only for herself but particularly for other people, is combatted by a gesture of utter abandon, a complete surrender to the decree of fate.

For she cannot make her way further with a headstrong attitude.

That cannot be done by the head alone; that would be too poor a business.

Therefore it is here compensated by the court of old men who are apparently sitting there in judgment.

You see, it is a chthonic animus-behind the conscious attitude is a club of old beasts to whom she is simply delivered over as if she were the worst street prostitute.

There is something like that in the animus, he really can prostitute a woman.

I remember one woman in particular who committed the most atrocious offence against good taste and morality, through a sacred conviction that it was wholesome and reasonable-like mothers who torture

their children because they think that is what ought to be done.

It is appalling what the animus can do.

If such an animus-ridden woman gets it into her head that to go without clothes is wholesome and decent,

then she just goes about naked and is not in the least disturbed by it, disregarding the fact completely that she is not beautiful, that she is an old hag.

That woman had three sons and she walked about the house before them, and then marveled that they went wrong and had sex fantasies.

And that was a well-meaning woman who always tried to be hygienic, to eat the right kind of salad and all that stuff.

She was liberal and full of the idea of social service, she helped along everything under the sun that was of public use.

And to wear no clothes was much cheaper and so wonderfully clean, and why should the body be ugly?

It is mere prejudice.

Like Mr. Wells’s tea party in the year 3000 on the Lago di Maggiore.

Of course the climate would be completely changed so they would not get colds.

They do not think for a moment what bad taste it would be to sit in the cold surrounded by corpses.

We have all heard of that cult of nudity, and this was such a woman.

Mind you, she was an Englishwoman, not even a German; I could have forgiven her if she had been German.

That is what the animus can do, cruel nonsense.

So a woman can prostitute herself if it suits the animus, not to suit herself, but to do the right thing or the usual thing, never considering her own instincts.

Now here is the gesture against that, and I emphasize it because it is not a unique problem; it is a problem of modern civilization.

Too many women have lost their instincts altogether and only live for what is useful and applicable.

Therefore my patient, having lived the ordinary reasonable, intelligent life of the surface, finds that red-lipped woman of tremendous size in her unconscious, who really introduces her to the psychology of prostitution, of course with the particular quality of sacred temple prostitution, to make it more acceptable.

That is dangerous, for if she goes too far into it on the standpoint of the unconscious, the thing will be enacted in reality; then there will be again a situation of exceedingly bad taste, a too forthcoming attitude unbecoming in a young woman.

Now, after going through the room in which the old men were, she says: “We entered a room where stood many sorrowing women.

When the women saw her many fled.” That is, when the women saw that child-woman with the goddess. “To the few who remained she said, ‘Know me.’

She touched them on the brow and they stood filled with new strength” [plate 13].

The problem as far as the animus is concerned is dealt with for the present, but now there is another; here the problem comes to the woman herself.

It is now a question of the behavior of other women who have the same kind of problem.

Many run away, the vision says, they simply funk it.

Some remain and are strengthened by the chthonic goddess.

Those women who remain and are strengthened by her touch represent herself; she has not realized it yet, but she sees it in other women, and so it should happen to her.

Now the question is how to accept the earth.

The whole thing began when the black snake crawled up her left leg; this is merely an elaboration of the idea which that expressed.

It means acceptance of the chthonic element; that becomes a powerful principle, and the strength it gives to the human being is the strength of the earth, of the instincts, which is absolutely indispensable.

She cannot go one step further in her development without instinct.

Here the animus has full sway; he could move her in any direction, she would fall from one pitfall into another, from one danger to another.

She would be lost because she would have nothing to help her to decide.

So the power to be gotten here is the instinctive power which is solid ground under her feet.

Otherwise she is simply dissolved by the powers of the collective unconscious: the collective unconscious not only as a sort of psychological factor but also as it appears in the outside world.

Society, for instance, is just as dissolving in its effect; one can be dissolved in the collective conscious as well as in the collective unconscious.

One’s standpoint can be swept from under one’s feet, because the collective unconscious is without as well as within.

So the danger is quite understandable.

She says: “I followed her down many steps and beheld a pit of seething inchoate chaos.”

These are the dissolving powers; here she is vis-a-vis the chthonic melting pot in which things are made, dissolved, and created again.

This is a moment of supreme danger.

If she did not possess the certainty that solid ground gives her, it would be very difficult for her.

There is usually a moment in most cases when one has the feeling that things are slipping away, dissolving or sliding.

I remember a woman who came to tell me that things had suddenly begun to slide; she felt as if the road was sloping off, and the walls were about to fall, everything was in motion.

That was a projection of the fact that chaos was overwhelming her from within.

The vision continues:

While we stood a man of crystal was created from the formless mass. She breathed life into him and he became flesh and blood. She disappeared and the man and-ascended from the pit into the light of day.

It is interesting that in her text she simply says “the man and ascended from the pit.”

She left out the “I,” she omits herself, which means that she is not able to put herself into it; she is mistrustful despite the fact that at the time she had the vision she was in it.

This vision means that as she receives strength and form and definite substance through the touch of the earth, so the object receives form-the man, or whatever the object is.

For if you have no form, nothing has form, nobody has form; if you are not definite, nothing is definite; if you are chaotic, everything is chaotic; if you have no meaning, nothing has meaning.

Your world depends upon yourself; even the meaning of the world depends upon yourself having a meaning.

Being individuated, having form, is indispensable.

Also it is indispensable that objects have a form, and that simply would not appear to you if you had no form.

In the moment when she gets definite form, gravity, a place to stand on, whatever her object may be will fall into shape too; it will become definite, even very definite, of hard crystal.

It is as if out of that seething chaos a crystal was formed, which is of course a projection of her own condition; she is forming now into a crystal, or a crystal is forming in her.

Therefore the Chinese term, the diamond body, the center of the mandala.

The diamond body is the crystal, and it appears to her as projected into an object, a man.

The man may be a subjective figure at first, the animus who is still in possession of the treasure, the diamond body.

Inasmuch as she is not conscious of it, inasmuch as she is not ready, she naturally would not possess it.

So it appears to her in the animus if taken psychologically, or if in reality, her animus would be projected into a man who would be suspected of possessing the treasure.

People have a transference to their analyst because they suppose that he is in possession of the treasure.

It is like rubbing up against the shrine containing the bones of the saint; they get the grace, as if he were the

savings bank of divine treasures.

It is inevitable at a certain stage.

When the idea of the crystal becomes formed in the unconscious it is projected, and then they suspect somebody of possessing that particular treasure which is really in themselves.

Inasmuch as this woman has received form through the touch of the earth mother, she is that crystal

herself, but she is not conscious of it.

It is a mere intuition and having an intuition of a thing does not mean that one possesses it; it only means

that one sees it from afar.

Therefore she still sees only the crystal projected into a man.

And you see what follows: the goddess disappears, and she ascends a flight of steps up to the surface, to the light of day.

She is then alone with that man, and as he is of flesh and blood it means that it is a real projection.

She really sees the treasure appearing in a living individual.

Now I say this is inevitable.

You cannot dissolve a transference by analyzing it away, that is quite impossible.

You only get over a transference if you get the projected value out of the object.

When you can realize the treasure in yourself, you will not envy it or desire it in the object; then you have an equal value within you.

Of course you can analyze away certain projections, but even so, things are pretty difficult.

Suppose you project a father complex onto your analyst; you know you are making that projection, yet he appears nevertheless as a father.

There is nothing  to be done about it, you have to accept it.

And when a man projects his anima into a woman, he has to accept it; even if he knows it is the anima, it is a projection.

Only through personal contact do people become able to extract the value which is behind the projection; only in that way can they integrate whatever is their own in the projection.

For the time being our patient simply has to accept a certain kind of relationship to a man who represents the individuated man, with the heart of diamond or the crystal body.

You see that little omission in the end of her text shows that she does not want to appear with him.

She sees herself going upstairs with him, but then she omits the “I” in the text.

She wipes her own figure out, she doesn’t want to be seen with him; it is too shocking, which shows that the thing is not yet accepted, it is only seen.

Dr. Reichstein: May I ask about the other animus whose head was rained upon, and who afterwards put her on his head? Does this not mean that she wants to dominate the animus?

Dr. Jung: No, because the animus puts her into the dominating position.

The interesting point is that she ought to dominate him to a certain extent; he wants her to take the lead, as Pallas is the thought of Zeus.

It is not a mistake that she is on his head.

Now we come to the next vision. Here she is again before that same black wall; she is still held up by the same obstacle.

She says: I stood before the black wall. I said to the eye: “How shall I surmount the wall?”

The eye turned inward on itself. I also turned my eye inward and within myself I saw a growing tree.

Again the eye which now turns and looks in upon itself; so she looks into herself, and sees a growing tree, which is a symbol of development.

She continues: Then I looked outward again at the wall and I beheld a tree growing near it.

I walked over to the tree. It gathered me up in its branches and lifted me over the wall.

On the other side I beheld an old man.

What does this symbolism mean? It shows how she overcomes the obstacle.

Mrs. Sigg: She overgrows it.

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


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.

Now of what is this vision making our patient aware?

Mrs. Crowley: That she is one of those people who are on the bank.

Dr. Jung: But he tells her something more important, at least in my humble opinion, it is more important.

Prof Demos: That everything must perish is a very pessimistic fact; but to realize this fact in one’s consciousness is somehow to rise above it, to conquer it. To accept the fact that you perish in time is a sort of victory over time, which is perhaps the meaning of tragedy in the drama. This vision is a presentation of the meaning of knowledge-a conquest of fate by accepting fate.

Dr. Jung: Exactly, and that is again the Buddhist idea.

So this vision is a sort of reconciliation of herself, or of her point of view, with the great nonsense of the world.

It gives her a philosophical explanation; it points out that that river only makes sense if a few escape and become conscious, that the purpose of existence is that one should become conscious.

Consciousness redeems one from the curse of that eternal flowing on in the river of unconsciousness.

This is an exceedingly important idea and is the next parallel to the central Buddhist teaching.

Now, mind you, our patient has had no particular education in this respect.

This really comes directly out of the kitchen of the unconscious; she is shown in a most impressive way the meaning of human existence.

It is exactly like what is happening in the universe.

For instance, in one of Sir James Jeans’s books, one learns the very interesting fact that most of the stars are quite uninhabitable, that the conditions which organic life demands are very seldom fulfilled, so that the number of inhabited worlds must be very small.

Moreover, most of the matter in space devours itself without producing anything but radiation; it just goes on in an eternal aimless radiation, and only a very little matter forms ashes.

The goal of the universe would seem to be that all the splendid feu d ‘artifice which one sees in the heavens is merely transforming matter that ends in a silly kind of eternal radiation.

And if you come down to the earth and look at human life, what is the use of human life really?

Look at history!

It is a lunatic asylum, that thing going blindly, blindly on forever, and nobody conscious of it really-or only a few.

According to this vision, then, the real meaning of life is that a few people become conscious.

It looks almost as if one were securing a position outside of time through consciousness, that consciousness forms the bridge over death.

That is exactly the teaching of Lamaistic philosophy, for instance: The dying man should never lose consciousness, he should retain the continuity, so that rebirth shall not overtake him unawares.

It is an exercise, the greatest effort of the Buddhist initiation, that the initiates should remember their former lives, thereby establishing a continuity of existence, which defends them against the dissolving

influence of the unconscious.

So they have the same appreciation of consciousness.

It is as if through conscious realization, one were climbing up to a place au-dessus de la melee.

Prof Demos: This brings in immortality. I suppose to be conscious of time is to be out of time, it is to be timeless, and therefore immortal.

Dr. Jung: Exactly. As if consciousness were a means to attain timelessness.

That is a most interesting philosophical thought which for this woman is tremendously important from a practical point of view.

And that is what I want to get at-why from a practical point of view?

What does it convey to her quite personally?

Mrs. Sawyer: That it is worth working for.

Dr. Jung: Of course. It is highly worthwhile to work for consciousness and to accept life as it is, because it makes sense after all.

Prof Demos: Don’t you think there is a lot in this: to recognize and accept the world as it is? Especially for the patient, this vision that she must accept things as they are is significant, since, being an American, she would be inclined to reform and uplift life.

Dr. Jung: Yes, you can never become conscious of it if you don’t accept it.

If you don’t accept your whole life in all its chaotic entanglements you don’t live it, so how can you become conscious of it?

You cannot detach from the entanglement of life if you are not in it; only through an intimate knowledge of it can you detach from it.

This is, of course, practically, a tremendously helpful thought to her, and it is just what might enable her to accept the connection with that crystal man which was impossible before. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 309-324