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Encounters with C. G. Jung: The Journal of Sabi Tauber (1951–1961)
As their daughter-in-law I had the privilege of getting to know Sabi and Ignaz at a more mature age, as elders.
The major storms in life and in their marriage, which form much of the content of this journal, had either softened or been outgrown, as Jung would say.
Remarkably, the threads weaving my parents and my future in-laws together reached back to the mid-1930s, when they all attended medical school at the University of Zurich.
There they knew each other and bonded with their respective partners.
Some students were aware that a certain psychiatrist, C. G. Jung, held interesting seminars at the ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), and to go or not to go was a topic of discussion.
As I’ve heard it, Ignaz declined, too busy earning his livelihood, and Sabi refused, at the time still dismissing psychology altogether.
My mother, on the other hand, secretly attended one or the other of these seminars, as she much later told me.
My parents settled in Zurich, both of them practicing medicine while raising their family.
It was a bilingual household, given that my mother had grown up in Biel, a town at the border between the German and the French speaking Switzerland.
She exposed us children (of which I was the oldest) early on to the French language, which included hiring French speaking household help and even hosting a school girl from war-torn Paris for a year.
Since then, my love for languages and translation was a constant.
In 1962, we moved to Winterthur when my father accepted a chief of staff position at the Canton Hospital.
The parents celebrated a reacquaintance, joining the families together and subsequently nurturing their new-found friendship in various ways.
Meanwhile, there was a gradual rapprochement between the Tauber’s elder son, Jurg, and myself.
We got married in 1966 – he, fresh out of medical school and ready for his surgical residency and I in the third year of the Romance Languages program at University Zurich.
Sabi and Ignaz had become my role models through their very way of being: their humor facing the vicissitudes of daily life and a playfulness with each other and with whatever arose from the unconscious.
They introduced me to Jung’s psychology with all its ramifications, including the / Ching, the tarot, and astrology – all of it new, mysterious, and promising.
I started to record my dreams and imitated Sabi’s way of painting images.
I was intrigued by this different kind of translation, from night-time dream stories and images to day-time language and practice.
Since Jung’s death, Sabi had intensified her studies in Eastern philosophy.
She’d become an avid reader of books written by the great Chinese philosophers and Japanese Zen Buddhists.
Years later, she would feel especially gratified when she discovered that her childhood nickname had a particular meaning in Japanese.
As she wrote in a letter, July 18, 1985, it means “true art,” in the sense of an attitude
characteristic of Zen, “Where this beauty of the incomplete is related with the ancient, original-unrefined, there you find a wisp of Sabi.”
Her enthusiasm and devotion inspired us young ones in turn.
Indeed, aside from Jung’s psychology, medicine, music and the arts, Zen practice would become part of the foundation of our marriage and family life – before and after our immigration to the United States, in 1971.
As is the case for most immigrants, we preserved our native language and customs within our family.
During the first seven years in New York City, I entertained a lively correspondence with those “back home,” and I considered myself lucky to spend most summer vacations in Switzerland with our two, later three children.
I’ve given a synopsis of our life in the introduction of my book, The Soul’s Ministrations (Chiron, 2012), leading up to the tragic moment when Jurg was diagnosed with a tumor in the brain stem and surgery was scheduled immediately.
It was May, 1984, in Chicago. Sabi and Ignaz arranged to come to our aid for much-needed physical, emotional, and spiritual support.
At that occasion, Sabi brought a machine-typed copy of her journal along. “For the waiting time,” (during recovery), she’d scribbled on the cover.
It was a welcome gift, and ever since I’ve kept the manuscript like a sacred treasure.
Jurg died in November 1989, in Sacramento, leaving us bereft and at a great loss.
I started analysis, unsure of the direction my life was going to take.
Looking for an inspiring task that would help me overcome my grief and spiritual loneliness, I remembered Sabi’s journal: Could I engage in the formidable task of translating it into English, perhaps for later publication?
In her response to my letter, asking for her opinion and permission, Sabi happily agreed.
I made some inroads at the time, and at the occasion of the next family visit to Switzerland Sabi and I had several conversations about it.
However, once I returned to graduate school, in 1993, earning an MA in counseling and a PhD in clinical depth psychology, the project was put on hold.
Regretfully, my mother-in-law didn’t see it come to fruition anymore.
Two decades would pass before the time was right for me to pick up the translation of Sabi’s journal again.
I started from the very beginning, this time around with considerably better mastery of the English language and the necessary computer skills.
Nevertheless, it remained an enduring and tearful labor of love.
If, in my initial attempt, I cried over my own inability, it now was the very content, page by page, that moved me to tears.
~ I value the journal as a unique and precious document that will significantly contribute to the Jungian literature.
Los Angeles, May, 2021 ~Marianne Tauber, Sabi Tauber: Encounters with Jung, Page 232-234