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The Red Book

Jung elaborated on this issue many years later in Answer to Job (1952), where he studied the historical transformation of Judeo-Christian God images. A major theme in this is the continued incarnation of God after Christ. Commenting on the Book of Revelation, Jung argued that: “Ever since John the apocalyptist experienced for the first time (perhaps unconsciously) the conflict into which Christianity inevitably leads, mankind is burdened with this: God wanted and wants to become man” (CW II, §739).

In Jung’s view, there was a direct link between John’s views and Eckhart’s views: “This disturbing invasion engendered in him the image of the divine consort, whose image lives in every man: of the child, whom Meister Eckhart also saw in the vision. It was he who knew that God alone in his Godhead is not in a state of bliss, but must be born in the human soul. The incarnation in Christ is the prototype which is continually being transferred to the creature by the Holy Ghost” (Ibid., §741).

In contemporary times, Jung gave great importance to the papal bull of the Assumptio Maria. He held that it “points to the hieros gamos in the pleroma, and this in turn implies, as we have said, the future birth of the divine child, who, in accordance with the divine trend toward incarnation, will choose as his birthplace the empirical man. This metaphysical process is known as the individuation process in the psychology of the unconscious” (Ibid., §755). Through being identified with the continued incarnation of God in the soul, the process of individuation found its ultimate significance.

On May 3, 1958, Jung wrote to Morton Kelsey: “The real history of the world seems to be the progressive incarnation of the deity” (Letters 2, p. 436). ~Footnote 200; Red Book

In Black Book 4, this is spoken by his soul. In this chapter and in Scrutinies, we find a shift in the attribution of some statements in the Black Books from the soul to the other characters. This textual revision marks an important psychological process of differentiating the characters, separating them out from one another, and dis-identifying from them. Jung discussed this process in general in 1928, in The Relations between the I and the Unconscious, chapter. 7, “The technique for differentiation between the I and the figures of the unconscious” (CW 7).

In Black Book 6, the soul explains to Jung in 1916: “If I am not conjoined through the uniting of the Below and the Above, I break down into three parts: the serpent, and in that or some other animal form I roam, living nature daimonically, arousing fear and longing. The human soul, living forever within you. The celestial soul, as such dwelling with the Gods, far from you and unknown to you, appearing in the form of a bird.” (Appendix C, p. 370).

The textual changes that Jung makes among the soul, the serpent, and the bird from the Black Books in this chapter and in Scrutinies can be seen to be the recognition and differentiation of the threefold nature of the soul. Jung’s notion of the unity and multiplicity of the soul resembles Eckhart’s. In Sermon 52, Eckhart wrote: “the soul with her higher powers touches eternity, which is God, while her lower powers being in touch with time make her subject to change and biased toward bodily things, which degrade her” (Sermons & Treatises, vol. 2, tr. M. O’C. Walshe [London: Watkins, 1981], p. 55).

In Sermon 85, he wrote: “Three things prevent the soul from uniting with God. The first is that she is too scattered, and that she is not unitary: for when the soul is inclined toward creatures, she is not unitary. The second is when she is involved with temporal things. The third is when she is turned toward the body, for then she cannot unite with God” (ibid., p. 264). ~Footnote 252; Red Book.

In Jung’s copy of Eckhart’s “Writings and Sermons, the phrase “that the soul would also have to lose God!” is underlined, and there is a slip of paper on which is written: “Soul must lose God” ~Footnote 39; Red Book; Scrutinies.

The Pleroma, or fullness, is a term from Gnosticism. It played a central role in the Valentinian system. Hans Jonas states that “Pleroma is the standard term for the fully explicated manifold of divine characteristics, whose standard number is thirty, forming a hierarchy and together constituting the divine realm” (The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity [London: Routledge, 1992], p. 180).

In 1929, Jung said: “The Gnostics … expressed it as Pleroma, a state of fullness where the pairs of opposites, yea and nay; day and night, are together, then when they ‘become,’ it is either day or night. In the state of ‘promise’ before they become, they are nonexistent, there is neither white nor black, good nor bad” (Dream Analysis: Notes oj the Seminar Given in 1928-1930, ed. William McGuire [Bollingen Series, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984], p. 131).

In his later writings, Jung used the term to designate a state of pre-existence and potentiality, identifying it with the Tibetan Bardo: “He must … accustom himself to the idea that ‘time’ is a relative concept and needs to be compensated by the concept of a ‘simultaneous’ Bardo-or pleromatic existence of all historical processes. What exists in the Pleroma as an eternal ‘process’ appears in time as aperiodic sequence, that is to say; it is repeated many times in an irregular pattern” (Answer to Job, 1952, CW II, §629; see also §§620, 624, 675, 686, 727, 733, 748).

The distinction that Jung draws between the Pleroma and the creation has some points of contact with Meister Eckhart’s differentiation between the Godhead and God. Jung commented on this in psychological Types (1921, CW 6, §429f). The relation of Jung’s Pleroma to Eckhart is discussed by Maillard, op cit., pp. II8-20. In 1955/56, Jung equated the Pleroma with the alchemist Gerhardus Dorn’s notion of the ‘unus mundus’ (one world) (Mysterium Coniunctionis, CW 14, §660). Jung adopted this expression to designate the transcendental postulate of the unity underlying the multiplicity of the empirical world (Ibid., §759f). ~Footnote 82; Red Book; Scrutinies.