31 May 1933 Visions Seminar LECTURE V
Miss de Witt has brought a Batak wand to show us, a very rare specimen.
You know the Bataks are the primitive autochthonous inhabitants of a certain part of Sumatra, and they have a very peculiar civilization.
Warneck, a German missionary out there, has written a book about their religion from material gathered from the Bataks who had been converted to Christianity.
What they had to say is very interesting and sometimes rather sad.
They have the most exquisite doctrine of ghosts and magic and tondi-their word for mana.
The book is a most precious account of primitive energies.
These wands usually consist of a series of figures standing on top of each other, the legend being that they are ancestral souls which derive from the primordial incest between brother and sister.
We have very similar anthropogeny, according to the theory advanced by that famous German, Professor Lamprecht.
He very charmingly says in his book that it is of course obvious that man has passed through an age of incest, for since the children of the first parents were brother and sister, how otherwise could mankind have first propagated themselves?
If asked whether he believed in the origin of man as described in the Old Testament, he would have laughed at the idea, but so absolutely was the tradition ingrained in him that he was caught unawares, as it were, just as people believe in the Freudian fairy tales, the original incest and all that business.
Of course nothing like that ever happened, there were animals and human beings, but there was never a first couple.
But by not realizing psychological premises, such nonsense can occur.
The only thing one really knows about these wands is that they represent ancestral souls, but the primitives are never able to explain what that pile of souls, one on top of the other, really means.
On Miss de Witt’s specimen, there are figures representing both large and small
ancestral souls, and concerning this the Bataks have curious tribal teachings: If a father dies when the son is a boy, he has a small ancestral soul, he is not very important, and the son sacrifices to him only a black hen-unless the father has been much beloved or a particularly good man.
In that case he is very dangerous because particularly good people become very evil and dangerous when they die, so a black pig must be sacrificed.
But when the son is grown up with children of his own, the dead father becomes a grandfather and thereby he advances in rank, he becomes a duke in ghost land, so it would not do to sacrifice only a black hen or a pig, a bull must be sacrificed, for he is then an exceedingly important personage.
Now I make the assumption that in our word grandfather, there is the same original idea; we associate the idea of greatness with the remoter age of our forefathers.
What is the justification for such an idea? Why should the grandfather be a duke in ghost land while the ancestral soul of the father would be far less powerful, only an ordinary citizen?
Frau Durer: His soul might be more purified.
Dr. Jung: Well, the primitives are not so strong on purification, they have different ideas, which are based more on facts.
So we must assume that when the ancestral soul manifests itself as a father, the effects are not so bad, but when the grandfather stirs, things are getting serious.
Mr. Henley: He impersonates the whole of the series of ancestors, so he has the power of a big chief.
Mr. Allemann: The father is nearer consciousness; the grandfather is not so well known so he is more a figure of the unconscious.
Dr. Jung: Mr. Henley’s idea that when the father becomes a grandfather, his tribe is relatively much larger, is surely a point when looked at from the consciousness of the primitive, for they understand that the ancestral souls are just as alive as we are, only they are living on a different island, for instance.
They sometimes locate the abode of the ancestral souls on an invisible island where the rest of the tribe join them at death.
This idea is very often a reality in the South Sea islands, where they assume that the souls of the dead live in an actual locality, and this is true in other countries also.
In Africa, certain uninhabited places, like the bamboo forests where no living being could possibly live, are supposed to be the abode of the dead.
For the souls continue to live, the whole hierarchy remains, and as a man with many children is powerful, so the grandfather or the great-grandfather, who has of course many more children or descendants, is still more powerful; from the stand-point of the primitive this would surely add to the greatness of the chief of the tribe.
But we must have further justification for that idea, something in our psychology must back it up, for that alone would not cause such a tradition.
And Mr. Allemann makes the suggestion that the grandfather, being more remote, would represent the unconscious, or the series of ancestral lives; he would sum up the series.
This view can be substantiated through the attributes the grandfather and grandmother possess; they are supposed to have immense experience, and the older they are, the
more they have experienced and the more wisdom they have.
That accounts for the authority old men have always had in primitive tribes; when the Council of the Elders loses its authority, the tribe simply disintegrates.
The British colonial administration knows this fact very well, and if possible they strengthen its authority.
They do this consistently in Africa, even where the Council of the Elders has long since lost its authority over the tribe; I have been in parts where the Negroes think they
are just old fools.
Yet in spite of that, the English government gives them great power although it often leads to all sorts of injustice.
The English realize this, but decide in favor of the Elders because they have understood
this to be a sound psychological principle; they back up their decisions in order not to diminish their prestige. In that institution we see another manifestation of the authority of old age.
Then good sorcerers are always old people, and a seer is as a rule an old man, as a witch must be an old woman, a sort of grandmother woman.
So the fact that old age is supposed to have uncanny knowledge is the real psychological reason
for the increase in importance of the grandfather; he represents the
stored-up wisdom of the primordial man in us, he is the personification
of the collective unconscious.
I speak of this because in the last seminar we were just coming to the
importance of the historical layers of our unconscious. We are at the
place in the vision where the series of ancestral souls is summed up in
the one figure of that black man lying prostrate. He would be the sum
total of the ancestral wisdom, and of the secret or unconscious tradition
of the collective unconscious.
This wand, then, is the symbol of the series of ancestral lives which is in everybody, and showing the wand to a primitive touches upon a living feeling, which is in everybody, of the existence of that historical psychological tradition within.
This feeling vibration produces a sort of fascination, a mood which is absolutely indispensable for the execution of any kind of magic effect.
Unusual psychological effects need that favorable condition, they can never manifest without that particular constellation through the collective unconscious; the collective unconscious must vibrate, the archetypes must be active.
So this is the instrument by which the primitive sorcerer awakens or constellates
the primitive ancestors; instantly the people are awe-inspired and then the magic effect can take place.
Now in this vision the grandfather, the old man, is blind.
Blindness is very often the quality of the seer, for when his eyes to the world are blind, they look inward and see the things within.
His attributes are the cross of blood, his garment embroidered with Chinese dragons, and at his feet the lion carved in stone.
So two important attributes of the old man who sums up the collective unconscious, are, as we said, the power embodied in the lion and the wisdom represented by the Chinese garment.
The vision continues: I asked him: “Why are you blind?” (for one would assume, with an experience extending over a million years or more, that he would be exceedingly farsighted.) And he said: “Great forces which made me what I am have rendered me also blind, so I am chained here as a step.”
Can you explain this answer? What are the great forces of which he speaks?
Mrs. Baumann: Time.
Dr. Jung: That would be the equivalent of force; time is energy, and one can say that long spaces of time have made him what he is.
But why should that make him blind?
Answer: Generations of civilization.
Dr. Jung: Generations of civilization are manifestations of so much energy, but why should that make him blind?
Answer: I think that makes him blind for all things to come, because he is attached to the things that have been, and the old things are always the enemy of the new.
Dr. Jung: That would be the reversed eye.
But why should he look always at the things that have been?
Answer: Because they have made him, yet they are only great from his point of view.
Dr. Jung: That sounds right, but are you quite satisfied?
Dr. Adler: He is blind because he is the collective unconscious which does not promote consciousness. Seeing is consciousness.
Dr. Jung: I think that would be the most concise answer to my question.
This figure quite certainly represents the collective unconscious, and the fact that the unconscious is blind, that it does not see, is in its definition.
If the unconscious could see, there would be no unconscious, and we would be entirely superfluous.
Everything would be foreseen, we would have predestination with no freedom whatever, no chance of free will.
That seems to be a statement of fact, but it does not quite explain why those great forces which have made him what he is have made him blind at the same time. You see, he would not say he had been made blind unless he assumed that he had once been able to see.
Now we don’t know whether the unconscious has ever been able to see, but apparently
the old man could see, and then the same great forces that gave him his eyesight, or his importance, rendered him blind.
Mrs. Crowley: Would it not be that the values in things he had seen before have been reversed? What he had seen before, his conscious sight, is perhaps now much less valuable to him, not as important as the sight of the seer.
Dr. Jung: But then he would not say he was blind, he would simply say that his values had changed.
Mrs. Baumann: As he is in the primitive world, in the animal kingdom, what this old man stands for is seeing; animals can see and work through their instincts all the time, but man lost that power later.
Dr. Jung: Now you are on the right track.
The unconscious sees in the beginning and then it loses its sight.
Under primitive circumstances, even in man the unconscious can still see; it functions like an eye or like consciousness.
So one finds in primitive tribes which have been untouched by civilization that dreams have a sort of social function.
Traces of this fact still existed in antiquity, in the last years of the Roman Republic,
The daughter of a Roman Senator appeared before the Senate and said she had dreamed that Minerva came to her complaining that her temple was crumbling, and that the Senate should vote some money for its repair; and the Senate really had that temple repaired.
Then a certain Greek poet had three times the same dream about a golden vessel which had been stolen from the temple of Hermes.
The thief had not been found, and in this dream the god appeared to the poet and told him the name of the thief and where the golden vessel was hidden.
The first time he had the dream, he thought it was nonsense, and the second time he dismissed it also, but the third time he went to the Areopagus, the Council of the Elders, and in an open session declared it.
And they found the vessel and the thief.
Whether this is true is another question, but it illustrates the fact of the seeing unconscious and its social role.
Another very good example, one of the best I have ever come across, is in a book by Rasmussen, the explorer, about the northernmost Eskimo tribes of Greenland.
He tells the story of a medicine man who led his tribe in the winter across the frozen Arctic sea to the shores of the North American continent. He had foreseen in a vision a land rich in seals and other game, and he wanted to lead his tribe to that happy land where they would have a better chance to live.
Always following his vision, he led them across the ice fields, but halfway over, part of the tribe said it was all bunk and turned back, and they all perished.
But those who went with him reached the American continent where they found the seals.
That is an example of the working of the unconscious sight.
I heard of a similar case in Africa.
I asked an old medicine man if he had dreams, and he said he did not. “But my father had dreams,” he said, “he knew when there would be war, he knew where the cattle had gone, he knew where the game was.”
I asked why he also did not know, since he was a medicine man, and tears came into his eyes when he said, “I cannot see in dreams since the District Commissioner and the soldiers are in the country; they know everything.”
The D.C. being the superior consciousness of the black man, they are absolutely depotentiated, they become vague and fall into the unconscious.
That is of course the reason why so many primitives go under; they lose their faculty of vision as soon as they touch the white man.
It is replaced by the increase of consciousness, and the more the conscious prevails, the less the inspiration from the unconscious.
For our daily use we have no need of the unconscious, but under primitive circumstances people always ask whether the stars are favorable, whether one can travel today or not, and so on; they constantly appeal to the foresight of the unconscious.
For as a matter of fact, the unconscious can still see, it is still active.
So it is not quite hopeless, increased consciousness does not absolutely replace the unconscious; the unconscious is only relatively blind, it has vision but only under certain conditions.
It needs a formidable cul de sac for our civilization before the unconscious can develop its sight again, but it is forever there.
Ordinarily it is not needed, but if we get into a tight situation it will develop again.
It is true that with increasing civilization we lose these reconstructive faculties, or we are unaware of them, yet when consciousness becomes dim, we discover that the unconscious still has vision.
In this particular case it is obvious, as for most of us, that the unconscious is blind, because we have all the light we need in the conscious.
Of course we are always eager for more, but we can only have that light which we really need and not one ounce more.
Now “the great forces”-call it the original energy of life, whatever that is-have made that formidable structure of the collective unconscious.
The Gnostics call these forces the archai, which means principles.
St. Paul calls them archai and thronoi, powers and principalities.
In the Tantric yoga the klesas produce ultimately, in the long duration of development, what we call consciousness.
And these forces have made the old man, and through the creation of consciousness they have also made him blind.
He had seen in the beginning, but it was a peculiar light because that kind of seeing is not a conscious action, it is an event; and it is not felt as one’s own activity but as a thing that just happens to one.
So having become blind, the old man is now chained, because he is overlaid by consciousness.
The vision continues: I said: “Who are you?” He answered: “I am the great philosopher of the East. I am a crusader. I am Christ. I am Ahasuerus.”
This is a most paradoxical and unexpected answer which needs commentary.
To what extent is he the great philosopher of the East?
Dr. Reichstein: The philosophy of the East always touches on the experience of the past.
Dr. Jung: Yes, it is entirely based upon the knowledge of the old man, the Lao-tze. (Lao means old man, and tze is a title of honor, like sir.)
In the East philosophy is not an intellectual business at all; it is not an attempt at producing a logical system consisting of many concepts.
The Eastern philosophy is a sort of yoga, it is alive, it is an art, the art of making something of oneself.
And what do they want to make of themselves?
Mrs. Sigg: Human beings.
Dr. Jung: Oh, not at all. The East is not interested in making themselves into human beings. What do they occupy themselves with?
Mrs. Baynes: They are trying to develop the diamond body.
Dr. Jung: That is the symbol, but what is it?
Dr. Bahadurji: They want to be gods.
Dr. Jung: And what would the gods be?
Dr. Bahadurji: Nothing.
Dr. Jung: Exactly. The East tells us of the great void, the positive nothing, the being non-being.
That is what they seek, and try to make of themselves.
You remember the famous passage of Lao-tze: “They are all so clear, only I am troubled,” meaning that all the other people know what they are about, but he has no clear concepts.
That is because he is much further along the road of understanding.
Thinking, according to the Eastern meaning of the word, is never clear, it is the contrary of what we assume to be intellectual clarity.
The clarity of the French mind, for instance, is quite inferior to that sort of mind.
Certain Eastern concepts could not be expressed in any European language.
Tao is the void, it is the utter emptiness and silence; therefore it is immortality because it is being forever.
It is timeless, it has no attribute of time, and it is free from the pairs of opposites because it has no quality; it is an absolute void and that is what the Easterner tries to attain.
This wisdom is based upon a sort of instinct, it is based upon the primordial man.
Now in how far, philosophically, could this most essential insight of the East be based upon an instinct? Can you see that? What instinct would insinuate such an idea? What instinct would lead a man softly along until he understands that what he is after is the void?
Dr. Barker: Self-preservation.
Dr. Jung: That is just the opposite.
Miss Rogers: Could it be the desire for the peace of the unborn condition?
Dr. Jung: Yes, but that would be a regression, looking backward, so it would be infantile desire.
But we must give credit to these philosophers, they had no infantile cravings, they were very progressive, so we must assume it was something that led them forward, not backward.
Mr. Henley: The consciousness of the passage of all material things, and the reaching towards the immaterial.
Dr. Jung: That is our philosophical conclusion but I want to know the actual fact.
Miss Moffett: Could it not be the desire for death?
Dr. Jung: You could say death, but how does death come about? How do you reach death? How can you die decently?
Mrs. Baumann: By living.
Dr. Jung: Yes, it is life itself that leads you into things and out of things.
When you get older you quite naturally don’t cling so much to certain things, you get tired of them, they are no longer interesting and you try to get out of them; so many things turn out to be hollow illusions and you are so glad to get rid of all that, it is no news for you any longer.
For instance, when a patient comes to me with what he thinks to be an interesting case, I am not curious.
I have heard too many of them.
He thinks nobody ever had such a conflict, but I know ten thousand cases of people who have had that conflict, it is an old story, depleted and worn out.
With increasing experience you get sick of those worn-out things.
Why make the effort?
Well, if you have no illusions, you can still do just the things which are absolutely necessary.
So by living, by fulfilling your task, you grow out of it.
Then the day comes when you are outgrown and then you are approaching the void, which seems to me to be the most desirable thing, the thing which contains the most meaning.
And you end there where you started. This is the philosophy of the East.
We come now to the second attribute of the old man; he says of himself that he is a crusader.
From the Eastern philosophy to the crusader is quite a jump, I admit.
That is an entirely different proposition, so there must be a tremendous mixture in his consciousness.
How much does that make sense? How could one understand it?
Dr. Schlegel: It is the crusade from the West to the East.
Dr. Jung: You are right.
The Crusades were surely the first attempt of the West to reach the East.
Now the idea started in about the eleventh century.
Why did it start just then? Something exceedingly important happened at that time.
Dr. Adler: The meeting between the Emperor and the Pope?
Dr. Jung: No, that would not cause such a great migration to the East.
Something else must have happened, people do not migrate when they feel quite tight in their skins.
Miss Wolff People expected the end of the world to come.
Dr. Jung: Exactly. The year 1000 marks the definite end of primitive Christianity.
It was at that time that the immediate Parousia of the Lord was hoped for, the Second Coming of Christ, which would mark the end of the world, and then the Last Judgment would take place.
Early Christianity was entirely based on this idea, on the absolutely transcendental point of view that this world did not matter.
Tertullian even admonished his catechumenes to seek the arena.
Whole cities of the East were depopulated, people went into the desert in thousands; they gave all their goods to the monasteries and became anchorites and holy men.
There were sects like the Marcionites that even tried to abolish propagation; it was like a huge sort of suicidal pact in order to attain the world to come, the land of the hereafter.
Now the idea of the Parousia lasted till about the year 1000; they thought that “one time and a half time” would then be fulfilled, as it is said in Revelations, when Satan was allowed to rage in the world, and after that would come the day of judgment.
Then in the year 1000 apparently nothing happened.
But something had happened, the day of judgment had happened, for that was the turning point, something else began to work.
Now what else does the year 1000 mark?
Mr: Henley: Half the era.
Dr: Jung: Yes, half the constellation of the Fishes, the first Fish then came to an end.
The church reached its greatest importance in the year 1000, the church was everything and the empire was nothing.
But immediately afterwards the worldly power began to increase and the church lost its transcendental point of view, it became more interested in realities; the enormous power they had built up collapsed, flattened out, and the movement became horizontal.
The year 1000, then, marked the profound disappointment of the Christian expectation, and naturally when such a hope falls flat, people begin to wander, they begin to look for something else.
And a curious fact happened between 1790 and 1805.
At that time the French Revolution actually dethroned Christianity-Diderot and Voltaire having ridiculed it for fifty or sixty years before-and just then, a Frenchman, Anquetil du Perron, traveled to the East and became a Buddhist monk; he studied the sacred books of the East and brought back the first translation of the Upanishads (an Arabic translation which he translated into Latin), and it was that edition which Schopenhauer knew.
So at that time Christianity suffered its severest blow, with the exception of the disappointment in the year 1000.
A new crusader pushed through into the East and brought the East back with him, and from that time on, it has filtered in.
Mrs. Baumann: There is a group of people in England who are now predicting the end of the world on June 12th, which coincides with the World Economic Conference.
Dr: Jung: That looks very much like a new disappointment.
You see, our rationalism is rapidly losing ground.
Now this old man, this great philosopher of the East, is a crusader, namely, one that mediates between the West and the East.
But how much does he mediate? To what extent is he the man on a quest?
The crusader is always a man who is seeking something.
Something had been lost, the transcendentalism of the Christian church simply went under in the spiritual catastrophe of the year 1000, and it was then that people became restless and began to search for something beyond. Here the old man says that he is that quest.
Before, he was Eastern wisdom itself. Now I ask you to what extent is he the crusader?
You remember, the unconscious can see when there is the need; when the conscious is blind the unconscious begins to see.
And the man who is seeking uses his eyes, so the old man, when no longer expressed by a suitable consciousness, one that expresses his very nature, begins to look further.
Our consciousness, for instance, is now in the situation of the old man, we are also seeking; that is the crusader in us.
Before the year 1000 the old man was expressed in the transcendentalism of the primitive church.
He then found an absolutely satisfactory form in the Christian dogma, and the fact that that thing really lived is undeniable.
For a long time after the year 1000 mankind had no feeling of having to seek further.
There are still many people today who are convinced that nothing needs to be sought for, they think they have it, that it is revealed, and that only cranks get any other idea into their heads.
But why did mankind feel that impulse, that craving, to discover America and the remote countries of the earth?
Because they were reaching out for something, like the crusaders, but it expressed itself in a most unconscious way; if they had found fulfillment at home they would not have had that craving.
There was a need.
So when one studies the movement today, one sees that that is again true, but they do not know for what they are seeking.
Miss de Witt: Were the Albigenses an expression of the same thing?
Dr. Jung: It is difficult to say, that is a very complicated story.
The Albigenses probably were associated with the Bulgars who brought over
Manichaean beliefs from the Far East, finding fruitful soil in southern France.
The Albigenses became a sect there in the eleventh century, but were exterminated by the crusaders and the Inquisition two or three centuries later on.
In that early time, about the year 1000, certain ancient beliefs sprang up again, old Celtic beliefs, the Holy Grail, for instance, together with the strange Sufi mysticism from Persia.
It was all an expression of that spiritual unrest naturally, as later on, in the Renaissance,
classical antiquity was revived.
At that time, not knowing that anything else was to be sought for, people simply traveled, discovered new countries, conquered and destroyed towns, made wars, and tried to formulate their need in the terminology of the past.
But what they were actually seeking was what they had lost.
Now the old man says: “I am Christ.” To what extent can he say he is Christ?
Dr. Barker: He was sacrificed in order that consciousness might be born.
Dr. Jung: Yes, Christ was the god that sacrificed himself for the sake of man, that man should be redeemed.
Now from what?
We call it sin but it is really participation mystique, the unconscious interwoven oneness with matter, with the flesh.
It is an unconscious condition from which we ought to be redeemed through the increase of consciousness, therefore it is symbolized as the light coming into the darkness.
The old man is sacrificed again and again for the sake of the increase of the light, for
naturally through the sacrifice of the unconscious the light is increased.
So he is also Christ, the divine being that was sacrificed that people might have the light.
Then he says: “I am Ahasuerus.” What does that mean?
Miss de Witt: The eternal wandering and seeking.
Dr. Jung: Yes, Ahasuerus is the eternally wandering Jew.
That is not a Jewish legend, it is a medieval Christian legend which dates back to about the fourteenth century.
And this wandering Jew Ahasuerus, according to the legend, did not offer Christ help, he was one who refused Christ; in other words, he refused to be sacrificed, he did not believe in Christ or in his sacrifice.
But the old man says he is also Ahasuerus, which means that he does not believe in Christ.
How do you explain that?
Mrs. Fierz: It is in the character of the unconscious that there is the opposite at the same time.
Dr. Jung: Well, it is the character of the unconscious not to be completely expressed in any symbol; no symbol would cover it exhaustively for any length of time.
Not even Christ can symbolize the character of the peculiar immensity of the unconscious, even that formulation can only be what it is, namely, a god that dies and resurrects in a different form.
You see that god will not absolutely vanish, but he will change his form.
The collective unconscious is never entirely expressed by any symbol, it is always wandering on, seeking new forms, and thereby it creates the world, an everlasting life or everlasting change.
And so Ahasuerus is the man who will wander on till the last day of the world in order to find redemption; he will never be satisfied with any formula that could be invented.
Now Dr. Reichstein has called my attention to another interesting connection in a German book by Meyrink called The Green Face.
It is the face of the wandering Jew, and he is said to have always worn a sort of bandage over his forehead in order to cover the mark of the cross which he bore there.
The old man in this vision has a cross upon his forehead, the mark of sacrifice, and that wandering Jew bears the same sign because he is the one that is marked or sacrificed; he is the sacrifice yet also the one that is never sacrificed.
I am afraid it is rather bewildering to envisage the tremendous number of qualities associated with this prostrate figure of the old man, the whole world seems to be contained in him.
We call him a personification of the collective unconscious, but this is very humble, scientific language.
People are always thinking that it is particularly impertinent of me to formulate things in such a way, whilst to me it is merely modest to call such big things by such small names; it shows how little we are able to express these things adequately, and therefore we had better use modest language.
But we could use other and bigger words for the collective unconscious, for what being has all those qualities?
Dr. Jung: Yes, for the collective unconscious, we could use the word God, and according to the dogma God became man, God became Christ; they are homogeneous, Christ is one with the Father.
But I should say that to use that word was impertinent, because we are then assuming that all the human attributes which we use in this world are really valid for God himself. But remember, whatever we say about him is only the human word, it is never exhaustive, it will change; we have to say something about him but it will have little validity.
Therefore I prefer not to use such big words, I am quite satisfied with humble scientific language because it has the great advantage of bringing that whole experience into
our immediate vicinity.
You all know what the collective unconscious is, you have certain dreams that bear the hallmark of the collective unconscious.
For instance, instead of dreaming of Aunt or Uncle So-and-So, you dream of a lion, and then the analyst tells you that is a mythological motif, and you understand that it is the collective unconscious.
So you get that thing right into your pocket, it becomes immediate.
This god is not miles of abstract space away from you in an extramundane sphere, or a concept in a theological textbook, or in the Bible.
It is immediate, it happens in your dreams in the night, it causes you pains in the stomach, diarrhea, constipation, a host of neurotic symptoms, and you know this is the collective unconscious.
Perhaps you suffer from an abominable headache, a pressure in your head, and your analyst suggests that you make a fantasy or drawing about it; so you produce an amazing drawing, all sorts of illusory things, and your headache is gone.
Drawing or writing or a fantasy reveal contents which come from the collective unconscious; and if you try to formulate that thing, if you begin to think what it is after all, you wind up with the conclusion that it is what the prophets were concerned with, it sounds exactly like certain things in the Old Testament.
God plagues people, he burns their bones in the night, he injures their kidneys, he causes all sorts of troubles.
Then you come naturally to the dilemma: Is that really God? Is God a neurosis? Is my stomach neurosis perhaps a peculiar divine manifestation?
Now that is a shocking dilemma, I admit, but when you think consistently and logically, you come to the conclusion that God is a most shocking problem, that is the truth.
God has shocked people out of their wits.
Think what he did to poor old Hosea, a respectable man, and he had to marry a prostitute.
Probably he suffered from a kind of mother complex.
So we are approaching pretty big problems, and our patient got an inkling here that something was rather uncanny about that old man who was chained, like those other old men upon whose backs she was climbing down.
She says: “I cannot go forward and step on you.” He answered: “Go forward you fool. There shall be no further way for you until you have stepped upon me and gone beyond.” So I stepped upon him with my right foot.
What does that mean in the light of what we have just said? Do you understand her hesitation?
Dr. Barker: It means she has to make use of the standpoint of the unconscious.
Dr. Jung: Yes, any analyst would say that one has to step upon one’s unconscious, it is a stepping stone.
We need the collective unconscious to cure a neurosis, say, or we use it to make us a little more conscious so that we can control ourselves better, and so on.
So why does she hesitate?
Mrs. Baumann: For one thing, he is lying on his back.
She stepped on the backs of the others, but this time she must step on his stomach.
I should think anybody would hesitate.
Dr. Jung: But what is the difficulty?
Mrs. Rey: She must do it consciously.
Dr. Jung: Yes, before she did not know what she did, she just came down the whole series of those backs, all those historical opinions.
And now she has to face the whole thing-what the unconscious really is-so she has many doubts.
Therefore she hesitates.
Dr. Reichstein: It is the Promethean sin when she steps upon him because she is overcoming something which is much bigger than herself.
Dr. Jung: Well, when we call this thing, whatever it is, a personification of the collective unconscious, we express the fact that we can step upon it.
It is something that we know more or less, something which we can change perhaps, we can do something about it; but when we call it God, it is much greater than we are.
You see in the one case it is small, almost unimportant, it is profane, it is a scientific concept.
In the other it is immensely big, much greater than man, so naturally one would hesitate
to use it.
Now these are two aspects of one thing; it is the biggest and the smallest at the same time; the most important, the most absolute thing, and the most relative thing.
Can you understand this, and do you know any other concept that would cover this peculiar fact?
Mrs. Baynes: The concept Brahman.
Dr. Jung: Yes. “Smaller than small, yet greater than great.” That is the formula.
So it is the sudden realization in this vision that makes her hesitate. She realizes that one really could step upon this thing that is so big, so all-embracing, and so powerful, it could be used as if it were something small and unimportant.
You see this absolutely contradicts our religious ideas and convictions.
As orthodox Christians, we could never admit that God was the smallest thing, the most unimportant means to an end.
The East can do that, but we have a one-sided idea which we call God, and that is all-embracing, absolutely universal, immensely greater than man; it cannot be used, on the contrary we are all the time in its power.
Here, however, the unconscious brings up this paradoxical notion of the biggest and the smallest.
Now when a dream makes a paradoxical statement, what does it generally mean in psychology?
Miss Hannah: Two quite irreconcilable things.
Dr. Jung: But what does that mean psychologically concerning the thing which is designated by a paradox?
That a thing is the smallest and the greatest, for instance.
Well, when a thing is completely unrecognizable, indefinable, we make a paradoxical statement.
The thing that we call the collective unconscious is absolutely indefinable; therefore we
can also call it God, because it has all the qualities of the greatest thing and all the qualities of the smallest thing; it is absolutely impossible to make out what it is.
For example, ask a physicist what ether is.
It is matter, it consists of atoms, yet it has none of the qualities of matter, no gravity, no density, it is simply that thing which carries vibrations.
We cannot even say it is something which exists, we can only assume that; it is not recognizable, but it must be something, a substance of light or something of the sort, and since we cannot say what it is, we make a paradoxical statement.
In this vision is a similar statement. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 1018-1032
Karl Lamprecht (1856-1915), The History of Civilization. Jung refers to the same idea
in “Answer to Job” (1952), CW 11, par. 576, and in Dream Analysis, p. 192
Repeated in ibid. In Dream Analysis, p. 5, he notes that the poet was Sophocles, the
temple was to Heracles, and the dream was documented in “Life of Sophocles,” sec. 1 2, in Sophocles Fabulae, ed. A. C. Pearson (Oxford, 1924), p. xix.