C.G. Jung Letters, Vol. 1: 1906-1950

To Oskar A. H . Schmitz

Dear Herr Schmitz, 26 May 1923

I have read your book with attention, and must again thank you for your kindness in sending it to me.

Permit me a few remarks: to the extent that I regard the psychoanalytic and the psychosynthetic method as an instrument for self-improvement, your comparison with the method of yoga seems to me extremely plausible.

But I feel it necessary to emphasize that this is merely an analogy, because nowadays far too many Europeans are inclined to accept Oriental ideas and methods uncritically and to translate them into the mental language of the Occident.

In my view it is detrimental both to ourselves and to those ideas.

The products of the Oriental mind are based on its own peculiar history, which is radically different from ours.

Those peoples have gone through an uninterrupted development from the primitive state of natural poly-demonism to polytheism at its most splendid, and beyond that to a religion of ideas within which the originally magical practices could evolve into a method of self-improvement.

These antecedents do not apply to us.

The Germanic tribes, when they collided only the day before yesterday with Roman Christianity, were still in the initial state of a poly-demonism with polytheistic buds.

There was as yet no proper priesthood and no proper ritual.

Like Wotan’s oaks, the gods were felled and a wholly incongruous Christianity, born of monotheism.

The Germanic man is still suffering from this mutilation.

l have good reasons for thinking that every step beyond the existing situation has to begin down there among the truncated nature-demons.

In other words, there is a whole lot of primitivity in us to be made good.

It therefore seems to be a grave error if we graft yet another foreign growth onto our already mutilated condition.

It would only make the original injury worse.

This craving for things foreign and faraway is a morbid sign.

Also, we cannot possibly get beyond out present level of culture unless we receive a powerful impetus from our primitive roots.

But we shall receive it only if we go back behind our cultural level, thus giving the suppressed primitive man in ourselves a chance to develop.

How this is to be done is a problem I have been trying to solve for years.

As you know, I am a doctor, and am therefore condemned to lay my speculations under the juggernaut of reality, though this has the advantage of ensuring that everything
lacking in solidity will be crushed.

Hence I find myself obliged to take the opposite road from the one you appear to be following in Darmstadt.

It seems to me that you are building high up aloft, erecting an edifice on top of the existing one.

But the existing one is rotten.

We need some new foundations.

We must dig down to the primitive in us, for only out of the conflict between civilized man and the Germanic barbarian will there come what we need: a new experience of God.

I do not think this goal can be reached by means of artificial exercises.

On this point I must part company with Darmstadt, much as I admire your efforts.

Your brilliantly written book, with its many profound and true thoughts, will assuredly have a most beneficial influence.

But so far as practical life is concerned I cannot suppress my misgivings.

I have hinted at some of them in my chapter on Schiller.

Though it would be wrong to draw a parallel between Darmstadt and theosophy, it does seem to me that the same danger exists in both cases: of a new house being built on the old shaky foundations, and of new wine being poured into old bottles.

Though the old damage is covered up, the new building does not stand firm.

Man must after all be changed from within, otherwise he merely assimilates the new material to the old pattern.

Do you not find it also rather suspect to nourish the metaphysical needs of our time with the stuff of old legends?

What would have happened in the 1st century of our era if people had taken the Dionysus legend as the material and occasion for meditation?

Shouldn’t we rather let God himself speak in spite of our only too comprehensible fear of the primordial experience?

I consider it my task and duty to educate my patients and pupils to the point where they can accept the direct demand that is made upon them from within.

This path is so difficult I cannot see how the indispensable sufferings along the way could be supplanted by any kind of technical procedure.

Through my study of the early Christian writings I have gained a deep and indelible impression of how dreadfully serious an experience of God is.

It will be no different today.

Yet nowhere in the views put forward by Rousselle can I discover that shattering conflict with the world which is the unfailing concomitant of the primordial religious experience.
ln Rousselle personally, as you know, the darkness lies buried deep.

We need it, however, and also the fear of it, otherwise we do not know what light is.

I fully understand that you can scarcely dwell upon such abysses in a book, so I do not conclude from the character of your book that you are not aware of these abysses.

Do you know Keyserling’s dreams?

And do you think he could safely stand the shock of glimpsing the face of his own shadow?

I have yet to meet a man who has done so without shuddering, and who did not talk a little deliriously afterwards.

You can hear echoes of it in Meyrink’s gruesome fantasies.

And it is characteristic that (It least in his books) he has still not got over it.

Of course I have no idea of his personal attitude to what he writes.

Please excuse my outspokenness.

I have never written such a long letter about a book, from which you can judge how vital your book is to me.

With best thanks and kind regards,

Yours very sincerely,

Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 39-41.