This probably sounds crazy, but I think I may be a bit in love with Jung.

 

Carl Jung was a contemporary of Freud’s, at the peak of his career in the early part of the 20th century. Imagine a tall man, formally dressed with glasses a kindly and courteous manner and a keen gaze.  He was a radical and mystic; his insight was that all our psyches join up beneath the surface[1] . And so in the deep understanding of another we may get to know ourselves too.

 

We discover nothing new in the mentally ill; rather we encounter the substrata of our own natures.

 

When I finished his biography I felt so sad to be parted from his mind. Such compassion, curiosity, intellect and humility seemed an awesome combination so rarely found in the world. Despite being one of the most eminent men of his time, he remained deeply humble.  ‘So you’re in the soup too’  was one of his opening remarks to a new client.

 

He taught me that my psyche is a deep and dark treasure trove of wisdom. Not to be feared but to be explored and trusted. He taught me to ‘surrender to the current’ of my own psyche. To trust it’s messages.

 

The unconscious would protect me and give me everything I needed for my life. My duty was to do my inner work.’

 

He believed that inner work, the business of getting know one’s psyche was itself spiritual growth and ultimately lead to freedom.

 

The approach to the Divine [2] is the real therapy and inasmuch as you attain to the Divine you are released from the curse of pathology.

 

In fact, Jung stated that not one of his patients that were really ‘cured’ had not regained their ‘religious attitude’, ‘which naturally has nothing to do with creeds or belonging to a church.’

 

In fact it was very absence of the sacred in our lives that created neurosis. I think he may have agreed with Rumi’s teacher, Shams who said

‘where there is no alter,, there are only gallows.’ That without a transcendent dimension to human life we are confined to the tyranny of the rational and material mind.

 

’Among the so-called neurotics of our day there are good many who in other ages would not have been neurotic – that is – divided against themselves. If they had lived in a period or a milieu in which man was still linked by myth with the world of the ancestors, and thus with nature truly experienced…they would have been spared this division within themselves.’

 

At 80 years old this kindly and learned gentleman said of himself, ‘I am in doubt about myself as much as ever.

 

And yet one of Jung’s colleague said of him that he had a kind of ‘powerfulness that is profoundly human, does not arouse fear, does not embarrass or make you feel small, but changes you; it compels veneration and awe.’

 

Jung taught me not fight the world, either the one within me or the one without. That I don’t have to reconcile the opposites in myself or in the world that I see. He wrote that peace comes from being able to hold the tension of the opposities, the good the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the monstrous and the tender and let them all be there. he taught me that the shadow and the sun must be able to share the same space. If we insist that one cancels out the other we shall be forever in pain. No-one is all good, and no-one is all bad. I am capable of deep loving kindness  but also meaness, envy, unkindness and judgement. I have exhausted myself trying to work out which is is the truth. Am I bad? Am I good? Is that person or situation good or bad?  The fact is both are true of myself and of all of us.

Rumi captured this perspective in the immortal words: 'beyond right or wrong there is a field, I will meet you there.'

 

Because of Jung I am learning not to be ashamed of my shadow; through coming into relationship with it rather than denying it I find great relief and resolution inside myself.  The joyful, unexpected bonus of that is the more I do this for myself the easier it is to offer the same to others. 'We are all in the soup' Jung once said to a new client, I suspect he also showed us a way of getting out of it together.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Known as the collective unconscious

[2] Jung used the word ‘numinous’ but it is a bit obscure for my purpose so I have taken the liberty of substituting the word Divine

 

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