7 February 1934 Visions Seminar LECTURE III
Our last seminar produced two very complicated questions.
Miss Hannah says: “I should be very grateful if you would say a few words about the best attitude to take towards the Self in the aspect you talked of last seminar: that of not wanting this or that, but the conflict itself.”
Will you explain your question in more detail?
Miss Hannah: I understood from you that the Self was leading the patient into New York, into everyday life, but at the same time it produced a neurotic conflict which kept her out of life. I want to know the best practical attitude to take under such conditions.
Dr. Jung: But that is exactly what I do not know.
If I knew, it would be quite simple, then we would not have to analyze these visions.
That is just the point; it is so complicated that one cannot know because it is an
One can never say an attitude is the best one could possibly choose.
There is a way provided you follow it; or, provided you make it, there is a way.
Then this is the way that has solved the problem; or, that is the way on which you have gone astray.
The solution is entirely creative, it is a manifestation of the Self; for the creation comes out of the unknowable, out of the Self.
Only in minor situations, in which the question of the issue is more or less settled, can you choose the attitude and decide to deal in such and such a way with a thing.
But the real problems, the profound conflicts of life, cannot be solved in any prescribed way.
If one could be advised, it would be a minor conflict which could be solved on a lower level, and the individual would remain unconscious; if the problem could be solved by a ready-made sort of procedure, he would never experience the Self.
Only when you are confronted with an insoluble conflict do you know something about the Self and how the Self operates; only in a situation where you are absolutely in need of a creative solution will you experience the source within yourself; so it always needs the impossible.
Therefore any true analysis will lead you into a completely impossible situation where there is no answer; there is only a way to be created and you yourself cannot create it, you depend upon the functioning of the creative sources within.
You know in the supreme fight of the hero, the ordinary weapon which he always
carries-like the club of Hercules-fails him, it breaks or is lost, and he has to do the work with his bare hands.
He depends entirely upon luck, or the creative possibilities in the situation.
You see, it is always necessary that the intercessio divina takes place; otherwise one will never have experienced it, and it takes the impossible to bring about such a manifestation.
As long as we can do it ourselves we do not need to have recourse to any divine assistance, that is an old truth.
Mrs. Sigg: I think you said something last time about the necessity of liking the conflict, which I did not quite understand.
Dr. Jung: Oh, perhaps I made some allusion to amor fati.
Mrs. Sigg: I think the most difficult thing about a conflict is that even if one has chosen the right way, there is a time when one has to carry the burden of feeling guilty without knowing exactly whether it is right or not, and sometimes it is a long time before one finds out that one really was right.
Dr. Jung: Exactly, and sometimes one never finds out.
Mrs. Sigg: It is a most disagreeable feeling.
Dr. Jung: Yes, a disagreeable and painful business-it is dealing with shells that explode; it is not just maneuvers, it is a real battle.
Mrs. Sigg: One thinks sometimes that it is unnecessarily hard to have the burden of a feeling of guilt as well.
Dr. Jung: I know; one always wants to take it easy and keep smiling. That is not sinful.
Do it by all means, as long as you can, but know that there are certain situations where you cannot take it easy because the devil sits on your back and you cannot shake him off.
Otherwise it would not be a conflict.
You see, life is really a very hard proposition, it is no joke; it is a joke too, a comedy, that is true, but it is very tragic.
The closer you come to it, the more you see it is a tragedy.
The gods have a tremendous laugh over the world, I am sure, for they are far away on Olympus and look down upon it, so to them it is altogether comical.
But it is tragic in itself.
Now we come to Mrs. Crowley’s question: “Last week you made muladhara vivid as a ghost land. Did you mean in the sense of no separation of shadow and object? And if so, is that due to the fact that transformation has not taken place? In other words, from the sthiila aspect, is it a condition of violent participation mystique with the object and from the sukshma aspect a condition like suspension, yet where the potential energy contributes the impetus of growth?”
Well, I spoke last time of the two aspects of muladhara.
The objective aspect would be just the concrete real world in which we are rooted.
Then besides that, it is a certain condition of consciousness; that is the more psychological aspect of it but we leave that now.
The muladhara condition, then, inasmuch as it is a universal condition outside of ourselves, is this world; but this root world has of course two aspects, and the other one is the ghost aspect that one sees in primitive psychology.
To any primitive this world consists not only of rational things, but of irrational
Among the people move also ghosts; causal connections are accompanied by magic effects, by irrational unaccountable effects.
To us this visible world is rational and human and real, but besides all that it is the world of the unconscious, because there is in everybody-in myself, in yourself-something that is unconscious, dark.
There is something unknown even in objects, which gives an opportunity to project the unconscious into them.
So our world consists necessarily of things that are conscious and of things that are unconscious to us, because that is our mental condition; as our mental condition is, so is our world.
Muladhara is on the one side the most tangible, visible reality, and on the other side the most intangible, invisible reality.
Thus far we are clear.
Mrs. Crowley: I meant, is the ghost side of things more the sukshma aspect?
Dr. Jung: No, it is a sort of sthula aspect.
Ghost land also belongs to the sthula aspect in the primitive mind-to them a ghost is as real as you are.
You see the sukshma aspect is already an ideal condition; that is, to understand the sukshma aspect needs ideation, it is the world of ideas that has nothing to do with ghosts.
It has to do with ghosts only inasmuch as ideas which are not developed, not elaborated, take the form of ghosts.
Ghosts are ideas or thoughts on a lower level, and you can lay a ghost, or
dissolve a ghost, by thinking its content.
There is no exteriorization any longer; that process of ideation finishes its existence
as a ghost.
Then there is no spook, no exterior
Mrs. Crowley: Is that objectivation?
Dr. Jung: No, the ghost itself is objective, or a thought.
Certain effects which you call spooks. If you have certain thoughts in your unconscious which ought to become conscious and you refuse to make them conscious, then those contents are either projected into other human beings or they are simply exteriorized into space, where they can cause peculiar
But if you think those thoughts, instantly that whole structure of exteriorization
As for instance, when you have projected something into human beings and realize the process, they at once become quite ordinary.
Before, they had horns and tails, they appeared like fiery devils perhaps, and then suddenly they lost their glamor and are quite ordinary people because you have withdrawn the projection.
Muladhara is not shadow land only, it is double.
Of course muladhara is in itself one, as this world is just one, but to our psychological understanding the world has two aspects.
If it had not, we could not grasp it.
So it is also a shadow land, in the sense of no separation of shadow and object.
Sure enough, in the ghost land, things are represented by shadows.
If you could put your consciousness into the shadow land, as you might do by the aid of a certain negative mood, if you dropped into an abysmal melancholia, for instance, it would then be possible to see this world as a shadow world, as if no life were left in it.
All the people would look ghostly and livid, sort of death masks instead of human faces, everything would be most sinister; then you would have an idea of how the shadow land looks, a really horrible Hades, as it appeared to antiquity.
It is obvious, then, that in the negative aspect of this reality everything is shadow, there are no other objects than shadows.
Now you say: “Is that due to the fact that transformation has not yet taken place?”
Well, you are only about to transform into the next level of consciousness; the transformation has not yet really taken place, so it is only a potential relationship to life, you might say.
Mrs. Crowley: But if there is no transformation there is also no assimilation.
Dr: Jung: In muladhara things are always in the beginning, in the embryonic condition, nothing has come off yet.
Mrs. Crowley: I mean, is that particular state or condition like suspension?-from one aspect appearing absolutely static, as if nothing were happening, transformation not having begun, yet from another aspect contributing the potential force or impetus?
Dr: Jung: It is a play of pairs of opposites, not only on the outside but inside.
You see, an observer sitting inside of your mind would say nothing was happening.
But there is a creative Shiva point, that creative center which is identical with the Self, and that is always there and always vibrating with potentiality, as it were; and there nothing can remain the same, nothing can remain static for any length of time.
So when we think nothing is happening we are badly mistaken, it is only that we are
not aware of it; we are skimming the surface and underneath lots of things are happening.
If we could go down into it we would see preparations going on as in wintertime.
Nothing is visible, nothing moves, life seems to be extinguished, the trees and the grass and all vegetation seem to be not only dormant but dead; yet everything is making ready for spring-it is an eternal beginning.
We had been dealing with the apotheosis of the woman who symbolizes the Self, and I read you the next statement, that she put on the blue robe and became the old woman again; she also advised the patient to put on a gray veil since they were going among the ghosts.
What does it mean that she appears as an old woman?
In reality she is a goddess of dazzling beauty and full of divine life.
Mr. Allemann: It is a thing of the past, therefore she is old.
Dr: Jung: Yes, it means something that she is old; she ought to be old, it is necessary.
We can say that she is playing the role of the past, or that she is impersonating old age, which would make sense too.
Now under what conditions do these unconscious figures impersonate old age?
Mrs. Crowley: When the conscious attitude is too young.
Dr: Jung: Yes, when one is too inexperienced, too childish, the unconscious figures, chiefly the animus in a woman’s case, take on an oldish form in order to compensate the childishness of consciousness.
In this case the Self assumes the role of an old woman for a certain reason.
Mrs. Sigg: Because it means old age, experience.
Dr: Jung: Yes, instead of the animus in the role of the psychopompos, the Self takes the lead now for a while and impersonates what the future attitude ought to be.
And that is the old woman, because our patient is approaching the middle of life or the beginning of old age.
Also, she takes on the form of the old woman because they are about to enter the ghost world, which is the land of the past, the land of the ancestral souls, according to the statements of primitive and antique psychology.
So she takes on the form of the ancestral lives, as well as that form which is to begin after the midday of life, when she will have become an old woman; she is really going forward in time, as it were, to meet an attitude which will be hers in future years.
For the time will come when she will have to confess that she is an old woman, no matter how young or how foolish she may feel inside.
Now why should the Self carry her forward in time? For what purpose?
Mrs. Sigg: If too much impressed with the actual present conditions, it is sometimes practical to look forward.
Dr: Jung: That is true.
Mrs. Baumann: It gives encouragement, or it might also be a warning.
Dr: Jung: Yes, to somebody actually in distress one might say: “This is just for the time being, in five or ten years things will be quite different.”
Or it can mean the contrary.
Dr.: Strong: It might be to take her down a peg, in case she is a bit inflated.
Dr: Jung: Yes, one might tell her that in five or ten years she would have gray hair, there would then be things which could not be denied any longer.
So this old woman is a sort of anticipation of the things to come, which curiously enough are identical with the things of the past, the ghosts.
Now to what extent are the things of the future identical with the things of the past? This is very paradoxical.
Mrs. Crowley: Is it not because age includes the past and the future? It is the future from one angle, and the past from another.
Dr. Jung: Well, the future really comes out of the past.
The things of the past form the future, they are the conditions of the future, so the
future is a sort of renewal of the past; what you have been before, you will most probably be in the future.
That things change altogether is very unlikely.
Therefore the French proverb: Plus ra change, plus ra reste la meme chose.
So if anybody knew the past completely he would be able to forecast the future; whatever has hitherto played the greatest role in your life will remain and dominate your life to a great extent also in the future.
Mrs. Crowley: Could you put it this way, that it is an original image which takes form and transforms?
Dr. Jung: Yes, you could say that.
It is the image which has always tried to take form, and in the future it will take on more form than ever before.
So the ghost land is, as it were, the receptacle of ancestral spirits or souls or lives which are meant to come off.
That is the reason why, in the primitive idea of redemption, the ancestral souls are liberated from the belly of the whale-dragon.
Exactly the same idea is expressed in the Epistles of St. Paul where he says that all living beings, the whole of creation, is waiting for the revelation of the children of God; they are waiting to celebrate their apokatastasis, their reinstallation with the redemption
of the children of God.
So in the redemption of the individual, the whole past will be redeemed, and that includes all the inferior things as well, the animals, and all the ancestral souls, everything that has not been completed; all creation will be redeemed in the apokatastasis-there will be a complete restoration of things as they have been.
Primitives express that quite plainly; they say that when the hero steps out of the belly of the monster, not only he comes out but his dead parents who have also been swallowed by the time dragon, and not only his parents but all the people of the tribe who have disappeared in time, and even rivers and mountains and woods, whole countries come out of the whale-dragon.
All the vanished memories of former situations will be restored, everything will be brought back to its original condition.
It is a psychological fact that the original trends of our nature have an obstinate tendency to reoccur, to realize themselves.
So when our patient enters upon the future as an old woman, she is in a way entering
the ghost land, because the ghost land also contains the things of the future-it is a land without time.
Now the part which follows is an anticipation of the future.
She says: “I did as she bade me. We emerged into a great circle in the rocks.”
This is obviously a mandala again.
All these later series of visions are called “Circles”; this particular series is the sixth
They are really attempts at mandalas.
It is as if she were drawing for each variation of mood a different mandala expressing the particular psychological condition.
You know, people rarely draw one single mandala, they usually make quite a number; they either change the themes or they make alterations, complicating or simplifying them, perhaps arranging the colors in different ways.
In Lamaism and in Tantrism there are a great variety of mandalas, different forms for different purposes; they have different meanings, of course, and show different psychological conditions.
So here is a new attempt at forming a mandala.
Now what is the general idea of the mandala? Why should she form a mandala under that new condition?
Miss Hannah: It is a protection.
Dr.: Jung: Yes, and at no time is it more necessary than when dealing with ghosts.
I spoke in my lectures at the Polytechnikum of the mandala as a protective circle during the ceremonies for conjuring up ghosts.
A protective circle must be made, fortified either by the many secret names of the gods or by their emanating powers, in order that the spirit which is conjured up shall not come across and kill one.
Also, special circles are often made where the ghost must appear, he is fixed in a
certain place which he must not leave.
In that case it would not be called a protective circle, it would be a magic circle to hold the ghost down to a certain spot, but of course the general idea is protective.
Do you know an example of such a katabasis into the ghost world?
Answer: In the odyssey of Ulysses.
Dr. Jung: Yes, when Ulysses goes down to Hades, he sacrifices sheep and offers the blood to the spirits.
The shadows come to drink the blood, but he stands over it with his sword and wards them off.
He only allows certain ones to approach, the shadow of the seer Tiresias, for example, because he wants to ask his advice.
A sword was often used in the ceremonies to draw the magic circle, because a sword also means self defense against the ghosts.
Mrs. Baumann: But where is the circle?
Dr. Jung: The circle was made by the ghosts all round him.
Ulysses was standing over the bowl of blood in the center, holding them off with his sword.
Now she says: I saw ghosts and phantoms whirling round and round making great moan.
Some were like harpies with great claws which reached down to clutch us.
Others were beautiful and voluptuous, making sweet sound, while others with pinched and haggard faces screamed and rent the air. The woman at my side said: “I will show you.” She walked to the center of the circle. Here the phantoms caught at her, clutched her, tore at her. I cried out in fear.
If you enter the ghost world, the shadows try to get at you; if you make a mistake in drawing your magic circle, they tear you limb from limb.
The same idea is in folklore.
There is a southern German folk song about a girl who was untrue to her lover and ran away with another, and then the devil seized her and dismembered her.
That is what happened to Dionysus Zagreus; he was dismembered, torn into shreds by the Titans; in order to escape them he changed into all sorts of animals, but finally in the form of a bull they got him.
The maenads did the same thing in reality; in an orgiastic state, they tore living animals into shreds with their teeth and ate the living flesh.
They behaved like wild animals, in other words, which meant a tremendous renewal; they went down into their animal condition again in order to gain new life; they repeated the dismemberment of the god with the animal that represented the god it was a sort of totemic feast.
Now that symbolizes the dismemberment which happens to you when you enter the ghost world without the protection of the magic circle, you then become a victim.
How would you express that in psychological terms?
Mr. Allemann: It would be schizophrenia.
Dr. Jung: Exactly, it would be a sort of explosion.
You know the Titans that dismembered Dionysus were the forces of the interior of the earth, the volcanic or geological forces which pile up the mountains, and so they are the Titanic forces in everybody.
Our own system is like a conglomeration of the different trends of ancestral units, inherited peculiarities, etc., which are rather unsafely bound together.
It needs only one or two explosions, and it is as if the seams suddenly burst open,
making rents through the structure so that the whole thing falls apart; that is the schizophrenic process.
It is like the old myth in Plato’s Timaeus, that the creator, when he had made the world, cut it into four parts and then sewed it together again, and the seams can still be seen in the heavens in the form of the Greek letter X, a sort of St. Andrew’s cross.
We cannot see it here but it is visible in Athens and in North Africa, particularly in the desert.
In one direction is the Milky Way, and in the other direction the zodiacal light, a peculiar light which is best seen at the time of the spring equinox, rising out of the sea on the western sky about one hour after sunset, in the form of a parabolic luminosity a little inclined toward the equator.
There is then a faint luminosity all over the sky almost to the east, and the zodiacal light crossing the Milky Way at the zenith forms the two sutura or seams.
The Gnostic cosmogony contains a similar idea: the Demiurgos first created all the parts of human beings, hands, feet, heads, and so on, and then he put them together-like a puzzle-and when it was done he covered the whole thing with forgetfulness.
So nobody knew it, they simply began to live, knowing nothing about the way they had been made.
But when the veil of forgetfulness lifts suddenly there is an explosion, and everything that the creator put together so loosely falls asunder, a bit looser and itwould not live at all.
It was not a perfect creation, nobody will ever make me believe that it was perfect.
So that typical descent into the ghost world means dismemberment.
In other words, a psychological dissociation takes place when one goes into the unconscious.
Why is there such a change? Why can one not remain whole?
Mrs. Sigg: Perhaps one risks falling into an identification with different ghosts.
Dr. Jung: You mean the change is because one identifies oneself with the contents of the ghost world? That is true, but why does one identify with such contents?
Mrs. Crowley: Because in a sense they are in us.
Dr. Jung: But there are many things in us and we do not necessarily identify with them, we can keep aloof.
Otherwise we would be continuously mad, and we must start from the assumption that we are more or less sane.
Mrs. Baynes: We know it as a fact in our experience with the unconscious.
Dr. Jung: It is a fact, but I want to know the reason why it is a fact.
Mrs. Baynes: You mean, why has the unconscious such a powerful attraction to the conscious?
Dr. Jung: Yes, why do we identify?
Miss Hannah: Because it is easier to live ancestral lives, it is laziness.
Dr. Jung: But you can say just as well that it is easier to live your own life; if you had to live the life of an ancestor, you would find it extremely annoying.
Mrs. Crowley: I think it is because the line is so thin that separates the two.
Dr. Jung: Exactly. Otherwise it would not be possible at all.
You see going into the unconscious means that you become unconscious as well,
there is no difference any longer, you become one of the gray cats; in the darkness every cat is gray and you are just one of them, even to yourself you are gray, you cannot see yourself.
The old woman puts that gray veil on the patient in order that she may be like them, in order that they shall not see her; the veil is also a protection, for she should not be seen
by the contents of the unconscious.
When you go into that darkness, into yourself, you become dark; otherwise you could not get into it.
Going into the unconscious simply means, then, that you become unconscious, you no longer know what you are doing.
So don’t entirely lose sight of your conscious contents, for you are then in danger of being dissolved into unconsciousness.
You see, if you lose your consciousness you no longer exist, you may assume that your body is still there but you are not aware of it, with the loss of consciousness you are dissolved.
That identity takes place when there is no longer a chance of distinguishing differences-it is too dark to know who one is, one could be anything else just as well.
And that amounts to dismemberment, complete psychological dissociation.
So when our patient sees the ghosts clutching at the old woman she cries out with fear because she thinks she also will be torn to bits.
Then by some strange magic she became whole again and led me forth upon the narrow path beyond.
I said: “How did we emerge?” She answered: “Because I was with you there was a way out. Had you entered alone you would have been lost.”
What does that mean?
Dr. Strong: She preserves her relation to reality, to the guide-the guide being her Self, her individuality.
Dr. Jung: The Self within her has protected her, but how can we understand that psychologically?
Miss Hannah: ls it not the divine intercession?
Dr. Jung: Exactly. One could say by the grace of God she has been preserved, protected against dismemberment; without his presence she would have been lost.
But psychologically what could we say there? How does the Self protect against dissolution?
I admit this is very mysterious.
Mrs. Sigg: The figure that was green inside and old outside was a goddess, so she represented the creative force and therefore could protect her.
Dr. Jung: Well yes, but why should the creative force protect?
Mrs. Baumann: Because she is a non-ego consciousness, which is a wider consciousness.
Dr. Jung: ls it sure that the Self has consciousness?
Mrs. Baumann: l thought you made a picture of it last time.
Dr. Jung: l made a picture of the Self with the consciousness included, but we can also be included in unconsciousness.
Well, as a matter of fact we simply don’t know.
As I said, the smaller circle cannot know about the bigger circle, we cannot make out with our consciousness whether that psychic medium in which our ego consciousness is contained is conscious or not.
I am sure that a flea crawling over you cannot know whether you are conscious or not, nor can a cell in your body know whether your body as a whole is conscious.
And if you were the servant of an immensely superior being, an amazing genius, you would ask yourself every day: “Is that fellow really sound or is he mad? Is he conscious or unconscious?”
You see we cannot understand.
There is a myth which expresses that.
The chapter in the Koran called “The Cave”s contains an account of an adventure which befell Moses when he was about ninety years old.
He was seeking the well of life, and he met the Angel of the Lord, Khidr, the eternally Green One.
The angel told him to follow him although he would not understand all that he beheld, and Moses, being a prophet, thought he would understand; but he could not, because the angel did such outrageous things that dear old Moses could not keep up at all, he was dumbfounded in the end; the angel was the superior consciousness in every respect.
Khidr is the superior man, and he is still a living deity in Sufism.
My head man in East Africa was a Sufi initiate, and he believed in Khidr as the immediate manifestation of Allah.
Allah has no form, he is invisible, not to be experienced; the form that can be experienced is the emanation, the first angel of Allah.
So this Khidr, the visible or even tangible manifestation of Allah, appears as a man like yourself.
My head man said: “You may meet him in the street and you will see that it is Khidr; then you must go up to him and say: Salaam Aleikum, and he will say: Aleikum Salaam, Peace be with you too, I am Khidr, and all things will be fulfilled unto you.”
Khidr is the human revelation of the god that cannot be experienced.
To experience Khidr one must be a superior man.
My head man assumed that I might experience him because I was considered to be a
man of the Book, the Koran.
He marvelled when he found that I knew the Koran better than he did, and said if I would chant the Koran for forty days and forty nights, I would be able to meet Khidr and also I would discover the gold in the great volcanos of central Africa-and other interesting things.
Whenever we came to a Negro king or any personage of importance-they were chiefly Mohammedans-he introduced me as the great lord, the doctor man who was a Mussulman and a Christian at the same time.
Well now, this figure of the old woman is an excellent example of the Self, which is in a way a superior consciousness, or unconsciousness-we cannot judge.
At all events the Self surely arranges the incomprehensible things of life.
For instance, the Self may arrange a perfectly plausible situation for you in which you think you are entirely normal, but after a couple of hours or a couple of days you cannot understand how you could possibly have got there.
If anybody had told you that in ten days you would be in such and such a situation and behave as you did behave, you would say it was impossible, absolutely out of the question.
But there you are. Well, who has done it?
You see that is what the Self does, and if it is disagreeable, you say: “God! what extraordinary blindness of fate, what a mistake! I must be a blind ass that has blundered into a sack full of pitch.”
But if it comes off happily you say: “What a clever fellow I am!”
You give yourself the credit, or if you are a pious individual, you are convinced that God is very personal and very far-seeing.
So it is impossible to make out whether that thing is conscious or not, but sure enough
Mrs. Crowley: Could you say it was another kind of consciousness? I mean, one doesn’t have to assume that our particular consciousness is the consciousness.
Dr. Jung: You can say anything you please, it cannot be contradicted because it is not to be made out.
Anything can be said but nothing can be proven.
Mr. Allemann: We said last time that it was neither consciousness nor unconsciousness but both at the same time.
Dr. Jung: Exactly. It is a ridiculous statement, but what can you do with a thing that is hopelessly bigger or smaller than yourself?
Any attempt at defining it must be paradoxical, so it doesn’t help to speculate about it.
But the curious thing here is that the Self makes the statement that the patient would have been lost had it not been present; the Self assumes the role of protector and also of the one who knows the way out of the impasse, out of an impossible situation where no mortal mind would know the way.
Now to what degree is that true? Or how could it be understood?
Mrs. Fierz: Is it not perhaps that in going down into the ghost land, this schizophrenic effect would be produced by the loss of value on the ego complex? That is to say, there is no longer an ego center, and according to the picture, it is the Self that steps into the center of the mandala. So the Self becomes the center of the whole system, and that is the protective effect.
Dr. Jung: Yes, it is as if the egocentricity-the ego as the center of the psychical system, that is-were too weak by itself to resist the dismembering or schizophrenic effect of the unconscious.
But when the Self steps into the center, it would be the equivalent of that dismembering power of the unconscious, it would be a Titan against Titans.
Of course, in formulating the thing like that, we are still moving in the field of mythological expression, we use symbols or mythological metaphors.
If you try to reduce it to psychological common sense, you might say that if you
are in a situation which is quite impossible looked at from a collective point of view, where collectively you could not possibly see a way out, the Self would find the way.
But that is still mythological.
Or you can say there is an individual way which is not law abiding-in this particular case there is a particular hole through which you get out of the situation.
You can also say that there are certain situations into which anybody can get, but there is one individual path or individual hole into which you fit, you particularly, nobody else, and you naturally get into that.
I have often expressed this problem in another, somewhat grotesque way.
You see, one is always inclined to handle a psychological problem from the standpoint of the eleven thousand virgins-what would the eleven thousand virgins do?
That is like asking what all humanity can do. They can do nothing at all.
Things will remain the same forever if a problem is looked at in that way; it is simply postponed or put onto other people.
That we think in terms of statistical numbers is the contemporary prejudice, our particular insanity; we think how a certain individual problem could be solved as a sort of mass production, as if it were manufactured in a factory.
We have so many virgins too many, and now what are we going to do about them? Or what shall they do? Nobody can say.
Yet we want to erect a factory in which the solution is manufactured as a standard model and handed out to a million virgins, which is of course absolutely wrong.
The problem is always this particular girl in the particular situation in which she finds herself, with such and such qualities, such and such conditions in general and in particular, and she will do such and such a thing which will eventually settle her and in the end she will be buried.
Then that case is settled.
And what takes place on the way is her own business, it has nothing to do with the ten thousand nine hundred ninety-nine other virgins.
Not as a standard article, or by a general description, but by the individuality of the case is the problem answered.
All the talk of a general solution, a sociological solution, for instance, is bunk; nobody will do anything about it, nobody can do anything about it, it will always be the same.
We can only ask ourselves what can be done when this particular girl gets into trouble, or out of trouble-for some suffer because there is too little trouble and others suffer because there is too much of it.
This is the only way to deal with the problem, it is quite certain that there is no general solution.
Miss Wolff: But is thinking in general terms a new acquisition? In medieval times did they not think in general terms?
Dr. Jung: I am speaking of the scientific spirit of modern times.
In the Middle Ages, or in the development of the Christian virtues, they thought in a different way, they thought of souls and of the individual welfare, what they could do for the people just near them.
In modern times the scientific spirit thinks of so many heads of cattle, so many virgins.
They take the poor, for instance, all together, no matter who they are, and count them as so many heads.
That is thinking in abstractions and handling the problem as if some mechanical contrivance could solve it, as if a scientific solution could be invented.
But the problem itself is utterly unscientific because it consists of individuals only.
This is also scientific, sure enough, but in the end it must be an individual problem.
Mrs. Sigg has just said to me that we cannot speak of individuals as long as there are none.
She says most people consist of a certain amount of individuality and probably a much greater amount of collective material; in other words, there is little consciousness of individuality but much consciousness of collectivity.
So inasmuch as there is practically no individuality, why should the problem not be soluble from a collective point of view?
Inasmuch as people are merely gregarious, merely a troupeau, they could be handled like sheep and they would never complain.
That is perfectly true, but in handling people like that, you are handling them below their worth, you are making a sheep stable of humanity, which is a bad business in the long run because it means moral degeneration for the individual.
So the things which destroy the individual value of man are called immoral and are desperately fought against, because they kill what can be called the divinity of man, his real worth.
To handle a sociological problem in such a collective way offends or even kills the
best in human beings, for they feel that they are being treated as number so-and-so, that it is mere routine and any automaton could do what they are doing, that they are just stones rolling down, or dredging machines or something like that.
Mrs. Crowley: Could you say it resolves itself into two kinds of thinking, the Yang and Yin point of view, the collective or the individual point of view?
Dr. Jung: It has nothing to do with the Yang and Yin point of view; they are philosophical concepts of opposition, phenomena that can take place in many different forms.
But always when the spirit of a certain historical time loses itself in the ghost land, when it is dismembered, attracted by things which are not individual, a condition ensues which can be compared to schizophrenia, and then naturally our infernal pride suggests thinking in collective terms.
Our particular enthusiasm now is the so-called scientific thinking, science will work everything; if a solution is said to be scientific everybody believes it without looking at it at all. In other times it was something else.
But always when the spirit of a time is too much attracted by a side issue, when it loses the central vision, such phenomena occur.
When the Roman Caesar assumed that he was God, he handled the Roman Empire in just that way-human beings were just cattle.
It is always a sort of one-sided inflation which accounts for such inhuman and devilish devices.
Anything collective wipes out the importance of the individual and is destructive to life, it is a nuisance and in the long run it becomes an obsession; it then takes the place of real life which is always individual.
For everything that really lives is individual, life exists only in individual forms, in individual units.
Yang and Yin are conditions of the fact that things exist at all but they don’t qualify the things.
You see, the most remarkable fact is that which made it necessary that man, the most awkward nuisance in the universe, should be in existence at all.
Why should man appear? We have a most marvellous Yang, a most marvellous Yin, why this disturbance of man in between?
That is the little atom which is not made and not influenced by either of them, they are merely conditions of its being.
The bit of metal which is attracted by the magnet is not formed by it, the magnet makes it move, but its existence or its particular form is not caused by the magnet.
This is a very important point: the fact that the individual is an entirely new and peculiar thing in itself which cannot be derived from any general principles.
If he could be, if he were that and nothing else, he could never be a protection against these general conditions.
The conscious world and the unconscious world are the general conditions, and the individual could never resist them, he could never be a creative center if he were not something by himself. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 1275-1290