Visions Seminar

6 May 1931 Visions Seminar Lecture I

Ladies and Gentlemen:

You remember that we were very much concerned in the last seminar with the question of the eyes; they appeared as a star and a human eye in that black wall which symbolized the obstacle of her problems.

The patient succeeded in penetrating the dark wall to a certain extent, and we dealt with an initiation ceremonial in the underworld.

I will show you again the picture which represents that primitive initiation to the Great Mother.

In a way it is like the pictures in the Villa dei Misteri in Pompeii.

It is a sort of autochthonous repetition of symbolism which was the main essence of a religious cult that just

preceded Christianity.

You know in the centuries just preceding and immediately after the birth of Christ, the two main religions in the Roman Empire were the cult of Mithras, a religion for men; and the cult of the Great Mother, the so-called Magna Mater, a religion for women; she was called the Dea Syria in Asia Minor, where the cult originated and whence it was introduced into Rome.

We know very little about the actual ceremonials or their particular dogmatic ideas, but we know a certain amount about the symbolism.

Those cults were more or less wiped out by the early church, though it took over a good deal from them.

Recent excavations have shown that the amount borrowed by the church was considerable.

We are very badly informed about the origin of the Mass, but some of the details were taken from the cult of Mithras-those little bells designating the particular moment of transformation, for instance.

And our Communion, which seems to be quite specifically Christian, was like the one celebrated in the cult of Mithras; they also had a Communion table, and the Host, little round loaves of bread marked with a cross.

So probably many things in their manner of building were after the style of the earlier churches, like the separation of the choir from the rest of the church; and the crypts were presumably a development from the mithraea, which were in grottos or entirely underground.

Also, the birthday of Christ, 25 December, was originally the birthday of Mithras.

We cannot tell how much from the cult of the Great Mother survived in the worship of Mary, the Mother of God.

This reached its full development rather late, in the early church it did not play the same role.

In about the thirteenth century the cult of Mary developed tremendously, and it was at that time that the famous Lorettanian Litany was invented, that invocation to the mother, where she is called the vas in signe devotionis, the excellent vessel of devotion, or the Jons signatus, the sealed fountain, or the hortus conclusus, the hidden garden, or the rosa mystica.

This symbol has been repeated many times in Catholic cathedrals-the beautiful mystical rose of Chartres, for instance.

And there an element comes in which points to the East.

The rosa mystica is a mandala, a magic circle, called in the East the yoni, a female symbol and a symbol of the mother.

It is difficult to tell how much of this has been taken directly from the cult of the Great Mother, but we know that the vas is analogous to the life-giving chalice in the legend of the Holy Grail, and this goes right back to two sources: to the Celtic source where the sacred vessel was a conspicuous symbol, and to the so-called Vase of Sin in the Gnostic cults.

Of course the designation ”Vase of Sin” is entirely Christian nomenclature.

In Egypt the idea has often been repeated in the form of the jars on the water wheels by which water is brought up from the Nile; they are always represented with sort of ligamenta or ribbons on the sides.

Their origin is uncertain, but they can probably be explained as the ligamenta lata of the uterus, because this jar was a symbol of the uterus, the life-giving vase.  It is very often found on Gnostic gems.

And the same sacred vessel was used apparently in an antique cult mentioned by the old alchemist Zosimus,

where it was called the krater, we still have his letter to a lady friend in which he advises her to go to the krater to find rebirth.

(Krater is the Greek name for the vessel in which wine and water were mixed.)

So you see very little is known about the transformation of the ancient cult of the Great Mother, and we have practically no direct tradition in our religions which would explain this particular symbolism.

It is an autochthonous repetition of the original ideas, a repetition which is possible again and again; it is eternal truth, one might say.

Now, through that initiation the patient has been confronted with a tremendous problem.

This Great Mother means to a woman Mother Nature, the great mother principle in her.

One cannot designate such a principle in a definite intellectual way because all the original primitive ideas-the most important ones-are universal ideas of extreme vagueness.

As soon as one tries to formulate them too definitely they lose their meaning and their value altogether; for then one could say it was just that and nothing else, whereas it is many other things at the same time.

This accounts for the great power of such ideas; the Magna Mater is an idea of extraordinary wealth.

One is probably closest to its meaning when one calls it Mother Nature, or the Female Principle itself; any attempt to formulate it more closely gets farther away from it.

So we can best explain the vision by saying that the patient was confronted, through this initiation, with the problem of woman’s nature.

That sounds very simple but it is a terrible thing really. What is woman’s nature?

You see, women prefer never to mention it, and a man never dares to speak of it.

Or if he dares, he will most probably be accused of violating the most sacred values of a woman and so on.

It is hidden with the utmost care and it needs a woman of quite unusual consciousness and personal courage to speak the truth about it.

I am afraid women often have a tendency to talk of things as they ought to be or as they desire them to be, or as they should become, but never as they are.

Now, however, the patient’s unconscious has shown her the necessity of facing herself as she is; and she understood that she had to deal with that fact with no further twisting or deceiving herself about it.

So it is quite comprehensible that in this next series of visions the obstacle was still there.

She says: I stood before a 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. Then I looked

out 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.

In this vision we find the thoughts we were trying to formulate when speaking of the psychology of the eye-the eye that receives or conceives, and the eye that creates.

These are two different aspects of human thought.

She looks into the background of her own eye and sees the tree there, and then she looks outward and sees the tree outside.

Now how would you explain that?

If you understand it, you understand the whole problem of the symbolism of the eye of Horus-no small matter!

You see, the eye on the wall obviously shows what she ought to do; it turns upon itself and instead of looking out towards her, it looks in, or to the other side.

So she, imitating the revolving eye in front of her, turns her own eye inward where she sees the growing tree.

Then she again looks outward at the wall, and there she beholds the tree which is growing outside.

Mrs. Crowley: One is a reflex of the other, is it not?

Dr. Reichstein: She is beginning to realize that man is a microcosm, and things outside are like those within. Therefore, if he looks into his own mind, he can get an idea of the whole world.

Dr. Jung: You mean what he sees in himself is his world? Or he touches upon the essence of the world by seeing his own essence?

Yes, it is a very old idea that man is a microcosm and the exact replica, as it were, of the macrocosm, that what is without and what is within are the same.

Of course, this formulation has been disproved many times, and it is exceedingly difficult to substantiate it, because the difference is quite obvious-it is obvious that our psychology is not at all what things are outside. But in what way is such an analogy proved?

Where is the real analogy?

Dr. Barker: Can you say it is only possible to realize something external if the internal experience is first realized? That anything outside must be able to reflect the internal experience?

Dr. Jung: Take some concrete example. Take, for instance, an elephant.

Can you realize an elephant without first realizing the elephant inside?

Dr. Barker: Not the first time. You first see a mass which is later called an elephant; it is only after you have seen various animals and have built up pictures of them in your mind that you realize them.

Dr. Jung: Suppose you discover an animal that has never been seen before, like the famous duckbill, that funny Australian mammal.

Dr. Barker: You understand that by making use of your inner experiences of the pictures of other animals.

Dr. Jung: Yes, but those experiences all come from without.

Dr. Barker: Originally, but we have built up a system.

Dr. Jung: You say we have nothing inside that has not been outside? That would be the idea of natural science.

Mrs. Sawyer: Is it not that growth takes place within us, and she sees it as a tree outside?

Dr. Jung: Well, yes, but we are here concerned with the philosophical point of view, with the idea of the microcosm and the macrocosm.

I want to deal with the problem in a general way now and not in the specific way of this vision.

This is still a continuation of our philosophical discussion at the end of the winter.

It is a general question and a question of primary importance, which has a great deal to do with the nature of the mind or the psyche.

Mrs. Crowley: They are both symbols, one is the symbol of the other; one is form, and the other is the idea or the essence.

Dr. Jung: You think they are both symbols, exchangeable against each other? That is worth discussing.

Dr. Barker: I think we are empty inside until we come into contact with objects.

Dr. Jung: You have the standpoint of natural science, as I said. But we are not empty inside.

Mrs. Crowley says the one world is the symbol of the other; that is, we have an explanation of the world within as well as without, because whatever we understand within we understand by our own intellect, and since we have access to it, we can never say we are empty inside.

We have our own experiences, the experiences of ourselves.

Dr. Barker: I meant that the human mind has been developed through contact with the outside world; if our ancestors had never contacted objects they would be empty inside.

Dr. Jung: Yes, but you can be your own object.

There have always been external objects, but even if there had been nothing, man himself was there, and from the way in which he lived he acquired definite empirical contents, images, by which he grasped the world.

In studying the earliest theories about the world, you find that things have always been understood by analogies.

There are innumerable cosmogonic theories, the theory that the Creator made the world out of a lump of earth for instance, shaped it as a potter would shape a vessel; or that the body of man was created as by a potter’s wheel.

We see in the first attempts at philosophy that man drew his conclusions from the facts which he discovered

in himself, in his own body; he concluded that the earth was produced by vomiting or by defecation, for example.

There are Indian myths that the waters of the rivers and seas rose from the fact that a wild dog pissed.

All these ideas came from the immediate experience of man, and in that respect he creates the world from within himself.

But here we are concerned with a much deeper question-whether we really have access to a layer of facts within, which are the essence of the world outside.

Have we access from within to facts which are equally essential to ourselves and to the world?

I mean essential to the world as, say, the chemical or physical structure of bodies is essential. Have we

inner access to these facts or have we not?

You know, the Eastern philosophers and all the old medieval philosophers were quite convinced that

this was possible, that we have access to the substance of the world through the inner way.

The only question is: can we see any justification for that belief?

Well, there is no definite answer to this question.

But we have to admit that the products of the unconscious do speak as if the things without were the things within, and vice versa.

One can call this archaic language, and that may be; but sure enough, it is the language of ancient wisdom.

The point is only whether it is still alive for us.

First of all we must admit that the unconscious still talks in such a style, and then we must say it occasionally happens that things are the same within as without, and with no causal explanation.

And inasmuch as the unconscious is a part of our life, lives with us and must live with us, we have to accept that kind of language as the expression of the unconscious thought, though it may not coincide with our conscious rational views.

It is as if one had a friend, or a father, who was a theosophist, with whom one had to deal as a business partner; one must bear with the fact that he has funny ideas.

And in the same way one must recognize the peculiarities of the unconscious.

Moreover, specific experiences of psychological facts almost force one to assume that there really is a category of cases in which things outside do coincide with things within, where one must recognize that the formula of the unconscious does come through.

It is as if one were a microcosm which mirrors the macrocosm, and from that one might conclude that there must be an avenue inside us that leads, not to our particular psychological curiosities, but to the essence of things in general.

And if one admits that, well, one has to admit the truth of the Hindu and Chinese philosophies.

Here we have a piece of that language.

This part of the vision says that if you turn your eye inward, you will behold the tree, something developing,

growing over the wall; so if you are in its branches it will in time lift you over the wall.

You see that as a psychological idea within yourself, yet if you look outside you also see the tree outside.

That is, it is not only a subjective psychological fantasy, it is also an objective fact; the tree will grow in reality, which would amount to the fact that if one is in an uncomfortably tight corner and sees the tree growing outside, one can sit down and wait for it to grow.

It has nothing to do with oneself, it is outside, it is a real situation; the outside circumstances will coincide and the thing will happen, as if the growth of the tree inside had caused things outside to behave in a desirable way.

Of course, that cannot be explained causally, it is an entirely magic idea.

Therefore people are often afraid to look inside, assuming that what they see there will happen in reality.

This is a superstitious notion, yet it is not entirely superstitious, on account of the peculiar coincidence of within and without.

This is an exceedingly speculative idea, following the suggestion of the unconscious that our patient should look at the vision in such a way.

She is up against an obstacle which is not to be overcome, but the fact that she sees a tree inside is reason enough to sit down and wait for the tree outside to grow.

It means: just wait, don’t worry, the external situation will arrange itself according to laws which are apparently your own subjective psychological laws.

It is as if the merely psychological laws ruled outer events at the same time, and this is the Chinese idea.

I will quote again the story, which I have told you repeatedly, of the rainmaker of Kiao Tchou.

That gives you the idea in a nutshell. Professor Wilhelm told it to me himself.

There was a great drought where Wilhelm lived; for months there had not been a drop of rain and the situation became catastrophic.

The Catholics made processions, the Protestants made prayers, and the Chinese burned joss sticks and shot off guns to frighten away the demons of the drought, but with no result.

Finally the Chinese said: We will fetch the rain maker. And from another province, a dried up old man appeared. The only thing he asked for was a quiet little house somewhere, and there he locked himself in for three days. On the fourth day clouds gathered and there was a great snowstorm at the time of the year when no snow was expected, an unusual amount, and the town was so full of rumors about the wonderful rain maker that Wilhelm went to ask the man how he did it.

In true European fashion he said: “They call you the rain maker, will you tell me how you made the snow?”

And the little Chinaman said: “I did not make the snow, I am not responsible.”

“But what have you done these three days?”

“Oh, I can explain that. I come from another country where things are in order. Here they are out of order, they are not as they should be by the ordnance of heaven.

Therefore the whole country is not in Tao, and I am also not in the natural order of things because I am in a disordered country.

So I had to wait three days until I was back in Tao, and then naturally the rain came.”

That is the way the East thinks-without causality. He simply got back into Tao.

You see, when the atmosphere in this room is wrong, I restore here a little bit of Tao and it spreads like a quick-growing tree, with branches extending everywhere.

Tao is in the room and nothing wrong can happen. This is the idea of what I call synchronicity.

We think acording to the Western assumption of causality, that one thing brings about another thing.

But that is in itself a magic idea; we give magic value to causes, we think one thing inevitably gives rise to another.

In reality we see only regular sequences and make the hypothesis of causality; we attribute the virtue of causality to a thing and explain the regular series of events by that magic hypothesis.

The East does not make that hypothesis, the East sees events in an entirely different way.

The idea of magic causation is known there, because it plays a role in black magic, as when a person causes an illness or a death by magic means.

But the higher philosophical idea is synchronicity.

We see in history that certain chains of happenings lead to such and such events, but there is no connection between them.

Suppose I am discussing this particular question with you now, and a dog barks in the garden, and you hear a car passing, and a bird sings.

The East would consider such things, but we exclude them, we look for the cause; we say that the dog barks because he saw a cat.

But the bird sings, not because a dog barks or because I lecture here or because a car is passing; also the car is not passing because the dog barks.

There is no connection, these things just happen independently, it is mere chance that they happen.

To us it needs no explanation, we cannot even see the problem.

While to the Eastern mind, this covers the whole ground because he perceives the thing as a totality; the dog barks, the bird sings, the trees are green, the car is passing, all this is an ensemble, experiences which cannot be disconnected.

He sees the intrinsic and only important connection of events in this transversal way.

It is important that at this moment the dog barks.

You heard something breaking in the kitchen a while ago; the Eastern mind says, well, naturally things must


Now looking at it in this way, one discovers an entirely different world, which is just as natural and nice and interesting as the world of causes; instead of looking at the causes that brought about certain conditions,

one can look just as well at the actual being together of things.

For instance, to you and to myself, that we are here in this room and that things are happening here and now, is far more important than the reasons which led each of you into this room.

It does not matter where you came from, it only matters that you are here, and that this one and that one are here.

To Eastern people there is any amount of justification for that point of view.

You see, their concern is to bring about the right situation, which, since one cannot rule the causes, can only be done in the way the rain maker chose; he turned his eye inward and sought Tao, and then it was outside.

Of course, the European would say he waited just so long until the rain came, that the rain was due to come.

If it had not come in three days it would have been four days-or it might have been six days.

But the rain maker got into Tao, one cannot gainsay it, and he took just so long.

One cannot prove that the man was a swindler because he never said that he produced the rain; when he was right himself, the rain fell.

It is a miracle only to someone who thinks along the lines of causality, but if one thinks psychologically, one is absolutely convinced that things quite naturally take this way.

If one has the right attitude then the right things happen.

One doesn’t make it right, it is just right, and one feels it has to happen in this way.

It is just as if one were inside of things.

If one feels right, that thing must turn up, it fits in.

It is only when one has a wrong attitude that one feels that things do not fit in, that they are queer.

When someone tells me that in his surroundings the wrong things always happen, I say: It is you who are wrong, you are not in Tao; if you were in Tao, you would feel that things are as they have to be.

Sure enough, sometimes one is in a valley of darkness, dark things happen, and then dark things belong there, they are what must happen then; they are nonetheless in Tao.

It is, of course, a kind of experience which to our Western mind is sheer nonsense.

One can never prove, for instance, that one’s attitude is sincere.

One says to oneself: Well, I feel right, and the fact that you come to see me is also right in the right moment-and it seems like empty talk-yet looked at from a psychological point of view it is exceedingly important.

It makes all the difference in the world, because in the one case the world is as it ought to be, one is the brother of everybody; and in the other case everybody is a fiend, everything is wrong, and one feels wrong too, which is of course not an ideal condition.

One can explain the condition causally and scientifically, theoretically it is perfect, but that does not prevent one from feeling like hell.

So I assure you, from a certain psychological point of view, the Chinese idea is worthwhile; at least it is worth discussing.

This woman is up against a very difficult situation. You can guess what it is.

The solution of her problem depends not only upon herself, but upon a number of external factors, and she sees only a black wall and does not know what to do.

And the vision says that if she sees the growth within, there will be growth without, and she can trust herself there equally well.

So the tree gathers her up in its branches and lifts her over the wall, which is really the fulfillment of the idea that what has been seen within also appears without.

It creates a situation which will eventually lift her over the wall. Now I will go on with the vision.

I have already read this series, but there are a number of new members, and I assume that the rest of you will not remember every detail of it.

Also, it is of particular importance in forming the bridge to things to come.

On the other side of the wall I beheld an old man.

I looked into his eyes and saw therein a great river full of many writhing human 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 sank into the earth.

A few small animals and flowers growing in blood appeared where he had stood.

We have seen that this is the archetypal old wise man, symbolizing the acquired wisdom which is the common inheritance of man.

At a certain depth of the unconscious mind, one cannot fail to meet that inherited treasure of wisdom.

It begins to function here, we have in this vision a piece of that wisdom-that what is within is without-and it is stated as if it were a most vital truth.

It is a truth which has little to do with our rationalistic views, yet for the life of our soul it is most important.

For if you are able to think like that, to have such a point of view, an avenue is opened up in yourself by which to arrive at a harmonious or peaceful condition, a mental condition where you are in tune or harmony with things; whereas if you adapt to the world as being only a jumbled causal chain, you never arrive at any settled attitude, you have no feeling of certainty or security.

What the actual condition of things seems to be is simply of no consequence because, as I say, if your attitude is right, things are right, they are the things that belong.

Whether they are sound, or moral, or wrong, looked at from another point of view, simply does not matter; for it is then your subjective experience, and as you experience your life or world, so it is.

Any other consideration is a mere speculation and of no particular use.

Naturally, from one point of view one could say this was a most miserable life, or the most beautiful life one could imagine.

But it is perfectly inane to make such speculations, because the only question is how you live your life, how you experience it.

If your attitude is right, then things are right.

Now this old man, being essentially the personification of the inherited wisdom of the ages, has a certain philosophical way of conceiving of all things, but it is not philosophical in the usual sense, in that it is an

involuntary kind of philosophy.

It is a system of ideas which are the deposit of events and experiences of untold ages, so that what the old

man says is always a proverbial truth-as a proverb that proclaims a certain conviction or a certain truth is not the invention of one individual, but rather the effect or many experiences; it formulates the way in which things move or how they behave over immense lengths of time and among all sorts of different nations and races.

It is always the consensus gentium that formulates such a truth, and so it is proverbial wisdom conforming absolutely to the general course of events.

So when the old man says that what is within is without, it is a truth which in specific instances is hardly ever true.

I mean, when one looks closely at things one always sees a tremendous difference between within and without; but in the long run, in general experience, it is eternally true.

The vision, then, shows that our patient arrives now at the very seat of that way of thinking or conceiving of things, and she sees a strange vision in the eyes of the old man.

What does that mean?

Mrs. Crowley: She sees as he does.

Dr. Jung: Yes, she sees what he sees as if mirrored in his eye.

She sees the river full of human bodies, and a few hear the shouts of those people standing on the bank and come out of the river.

What do you understand by that?

Dr. Reichstein: It is the river of life, which is always rolling on, or round and round, and then a few come out to get a fixed point.

Dr. Jung: This is another piece of his wisdom: life envisaged as a river in which human beings are swimming or carried along, and all perfectly unconscious-they are submerged in the water, which means in the unconscious.

A little group on the bank are conscious, and those call to the ones in the river, so that others emerge and are also made distinctive and conscious-but there are only a few.

In the words of the New Testament: “Many are called but few are chosen.”

The central Buddhist belief is that we are in an eternal circular movement on the wheel of death and rebirth as long as we are not conscious; but if we become conscious through the right meditation, or through the right kind of life, the functioning of the eight-fold path as it is expressed in Buddhism, then we shall eventually reach Nirvana.

Here a very central Christian belief and a very central Buddhist belief come together, and this is the wisdom of the old man.

Now our patient has not invented or thought out the idea, she simply saw the picture.

And subsequently, when one comes to think of it or to rationalize about it, one discovers that it is again that universal wisdom.

I could quote a number of dreams of other people who had very much the same vision.

Always the same archetypal idea, formulated in different ages in different ways naturally, is at the bottom of all psychotherapeutic systems, or at the bottom of all religious systems, for they also are systems of healing.

What this woman gets out of it is a very universal view of the goal of life.

According to the statement of the unconscious, many are carried away by the river, but a few hear the voices of those on the bank and come out of the water; they become conscious, they no longer participate

in the great unconscious movement of life.

This is shown to her as the meaning of her life, and this reconciles her with the fact that she feels herself completely at variance with her conditions.

On account of her problems she grew away from the atmosphere of her family and her friends, the convictions of her milieu, and she naturally felt isolated.

Of course she will be told that it is neurotic and wrong to be isolated, but the unconscious says that is exactly what she is meant to do.

Such a vision may help her to be reconciled to her own particular life task.

For anyone who undertakes to live the individual life will be confronted with such a situation, it eternally recurs.

It has always happened that a few left the stream and it will always continue to happen.

This wisdom, or this proverbial formulation, is a deposit in our unconscious, and it comes up at the moment when one is called to face it.

Now, when she has perceived this truth about her life, the old man disappears and in his place he leaves a few small animals and a few flowers growing in blood, rather insignificant looking symbolism, but full of meaning. It is obvious that they mean the life of the earth, the ordinary life.

Yet they are growing in blood, she says in her telegraphic style. Now why the blood?

Mrs. Crowley: It means her own efforts, her own energy.

Dr. Jung: Well, it means a great deal of suffering when a thing costs blood; things grown out of the blood are very serious, they come really out of the essence of life.

And that has a particular effect upon the way in which she perceives life.

What would be the difference in her attitude?

Mrs. Crowley: They become more significant to her.

Dr. Jung: Exactly. And that leads us to something very important: as long as she is not herself, not living according to her own nature, as long as she is not baptized in her own blood, nothing is real, everything is banal.

Naturally there are flowers and naturally there are little animals, and they are nothing but animals and flowers; she does not understand their life, she never experiences them as things born out of blood.

I don’t know whether I make it clear, but I can tell you, nothing is more bewildering than the different ways in which people experience things.

Certain people have absolutely no realization of their experiences, everything is self-evident, everything is there as if outside, painted on the wall.

When such a person tells a story, it is as if he had told it ten thousand years ago, it is neither here nor now, he has no relation to it.

If he has an experience, he doesn’t know it, and nobody else knows it.

If he talks of it at all, he never gets excited, he takes it calmly, passively assuming that the other fellow, the one listening, has had the same experience.

It is a perfunctory kind of experience.

He lives a provisional life; he does not exist really, he is only a spectator; so any experience is ghostlike, perfectly abstract, without a trace of realization.

People can live the most amazing things and remain entirely detached.

I have told you several stories of people with compartment psychology who live one thing in one compartment, another in another, never knowing it because they never confront these facts.

So when things become queer and you begin to wonder at them, it means that you are beginning to have a certain realization.

And if you get as far as that, if you reach out to your own truth, down to your own blood, to your own law, if you know how far you are real, you will then have your own experiences, and you will understand what things are.

Then you will see that everything real, everything alive, really grows out of the blood; they are not just there, self-evident.

It is a very infantile consciousness that takes things as self-evident; children come into the world where things are, and everything is taken on the guarantee of the parents.

Such people can go through life-and even die-without having noticed that they were alive.

I remember a very impressive case of this, a girl about twenty-five years old who had a compulsion neurosis.

She proved to be absolutely inaccessible.

She lived things, she did things, but she did not know what she was living.

I said: “Cannot you see what you do, damn it?”

But no, nothing touched her, so she had no relation to the world at all, she lived in a sort of mist.

Finally I said: “Well, it is no good, I cannot waste my time any longer; if you will not try to see what you are doing I must give it up.”

And it happened that three or four months later she shot herself, and since she was a stranger here I was called in to give evidence, I saw the corpse.

She had shot herself through the heart in the street and had not lost consciousness for a minute or two.

The expression on her face was completely altered. For a long time I stood watching her face and

asking myself: “What kind of expression is that?”

It was most extraordinary, the expression of someone who was convinced, say, that a thing was black and to whom it was very important that it was black, but to whom one had finally proved that it was red; and now it was as if she suddenly realized it was red.

It was a look full of bewilderment and a sort of pleasant surprise.

I saw what had happened: at the moment when she shot herself, while she was still alive, yet felt it was done and irrevocable, she understood what life was for the first time.

I have seen several cases where serious attempts at suicide have occurred, and just as they thought: now it is the end, they understood what life was, and they never tried it again.

Sometimes people have to injure themselves very badly in order to awaken to what life really is.

I had another case many years ago, an hysterical girl who tried to burn herself with methylated spirits.

But when she was all in flames, she suddenly understood the terrific nonsense she was doing, and she never tried it again, she became reasonable.

The unconscious works sometimes with most amazing cunning, arranging certain fatal situations, fatal experiences, which make people wake up; they are dangerous, they may cost their lives, but that simply shows how deeply unconscious people often are.

And they cannot understand the psychology of other people; they live in a world of their own, never noticing that they are living beings like themselves.

Such a realization only comes when things come to a head with them.

Often it takes the death of the father or mother, who have guaranteed things for them, to bring the provisional life to an end; then it is borne in upon them that things depend upon themselves, and they begin to revise their former lives.

They discover the world as it is, which naturally gives them a chance to establish a real connection with it.

So this is the moment when my patient should realize what life is.

Small things, which were formerly just banal and self-evident, should now have a real value, they should mean something and have a life of their own.

For then one can take care of things properly-value things.

One becomes considerate, and if it is a deep realization, one begins to pay attention to the things that simply happen.

One never says, “this is nothing,” but one says, “this is.”

And then one discovers what the transversal connection, the synchronistic connection, really is; one understands better the Eastern mind.

A significant thing now happens in the vision.

She says: After the old man had spoken, my robe became green, then turned to white. About my head played white flames. I walked through waving fields of wheat.

She illustrated that stage by this picture [plate 14].

You see, it very obviously symbolizes enlightenment.  This is typically Eastern symbolism.

When insight, or understanding of the unconscious contents, has reached the highest center, the seat of consciousness, then the light bursts forth-a white light.

The fact that her robe first becomes green simply refers to the color of vegetation; and that it turns to white means that it becomes light.

What has been unconscious life now becomes light, or understanding, consciousness.

She should become conscious in an entirely new way, she should be conscious of life, as well as of things, in complete distinctness.

A white light is supposed to be the brightest light, and that gives the power of discrimination, one can distinguish best then.

And what would the fields of wheat symbolize?

Mrs. Sigg: The harvest.

Dr. Jung: Yes, the wheat is ripe, it is the time of fulfillment, of complete maturity. But there is a particular thought connected with this wheat. Do you remember?

Miss Wolff In a former dream she was driving a harvesting machine through the wheat, so, as the harvester, she was the goddess of wheat.

Dr. Jung: That was an anticipation of this moment which came some time ago, but what would be the meaning of the wheat now?

Miss Hannah: Meister Eckhart says that wheat is the highest form of grain.

Dr. Jung: Yes. Wheat is very symbolical because it is bread, the fruit of the earth.

Therefore Meister Eckhart says: “The innermost nature of all grain meaneth wheat, and of all metals, gold, and of all birth, man.”

So wheat would be almost like the essence of vegetative or plant life.

And since plant life is a symbol for the spiritual qualities of man, what would wheat symbolize?

Mrs. Zinno: Resurrection.

Dr. Jung: Yes, and it is also the symbol for the one that resurrects, for Iacchus, the divine son of the earth that is born in the winnowing fan; and for Osiris out of whose sarcophagus wheat grew; and for Christ inasmuch as he is the Host, made of the flour of wheat.

St. Augustine called Mary the virgin earth which had not yet been fertilized by the rain, and so Christ is the son of the earth, the wheat.

Here again is the fact: as within, so without. In this vision, our patient is enlightened, she has become fully conscious, and at the same time the earth has given birth to the wheat.

The mystery of Eleusis, the mystical birth of Brimos is accomplished, the earth has brought forth the god.

This condition would be expressed in Chinese philosophy as a condition, for the moment, of complete Tao, namely, the highest illumination within and the highest fertility without, the god born within and without, or resurrection.

Then, while walking through the waving fields of wheat, she says: I came upon a face in the ground. I said, “This is the face of suffering.”

The face changed into the dead body of a child. I lifted the child in my arms and carried it to a stream.

When I laid it in the water it became alive and it put around my neck a chain with a jeweled heart.

The heart burned into the flesh of my breast. The child rose and walked away.

As he walked I saw that he was growing into a man.

While I sat alone by the side of the stream a flame of fire shot up from the water.

In the flame was a laughing face.

I also laughed and so the face and I held communion together.

The illumination is immediately followed by the realization of the great difficulties that were awaiting her, which meant great suffering.

That the face of suffering is in the ground means suffering connected with the earth, and that is really a great difficulty, the earth causes a lot of suffering; so the face which looks at her from the ground changes into the dead body of a child.

What is the meaning of a child?

Dr. Baynes: New life.

Dr. Jung: Yes, but why should that be dead in just this moment, when one could say that she was now beginning a new life?

Mrs. Crowley: It is the idea of sacrifice.

Dr. Jung: Well, a child always means a beginning, a new attempt at life, so this refers to her new way of life.

But now she recoils.

All these visions were in order to increase her courage and her spirit of enterprise, but here she finds the corpse of her enterprise; the spirit of enterprise is dead.

You see, having received the illumination, there naturally will be suffering, and therefore that child is dead.

It is the suffering of childbirth, she must give birth to the new attempt at a solution.

Then she lifts up the child, she accepts the difficulty, and she puts him into the running water of the stream; in other words, she tries now to put her attempt into reality.

And the child comes to life and puts round her neck a chain with a jeweled heart that burns itself into the flesh of her breast.

We encountered very similar symbolism some time ago, the ring that burned itself into her forehead, meaning that it took possession of her intellect, her thought.

Now it is the heart, the feelings are reached; now things will be more real.

The idea is not only in her head, it is also in her heart, she cannot get rid of that mark.

As she was first marked in her thoughts, she is now marked in her feelings.

Then the child walked away and was transformed into a man, which means that the attempt will become adult.

The child transforms into her real problem and this would naturally be the thing from which she recoils most.

This child who now becomes a man means a very specific man, and therefore there is a moment of hesitation, she sits alone by the stream.

Then up comes the vision again: out of the unconscious-out of the water-arises a flame and in the flame appears a face.

Now I know nothing about that face. I can tell you very little about this symbolism because she says nothing of the meaning of that communion. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 327-343