Jung: Deep in Nature
Jung: Deep in Nature
Jung's connection with Nature continued to deepen through his adolescence and he refers to it often in these early chapters of Memories, Dreams, ReflectionsMemories, Dreams, Reflections. After his direct experience of God, being unable to find human consolation or understanding, he sought out the peace and magnificence of Nature, which he felt was "God's world" (66). He took refuge in his Other, his No. 2, who was
skeptical, mistrustful, remote from the world of men, but close to nature, the earth, the sun, the moon, the weather, all living creatures, and above all close to the night, to dreams, and to whatever 'God' worked directly in him
and Jung truly felt that nature "far better exemplified the essence of God than men" (45). Jung had a special fondness for plants, which
expressed not only the beauty but also the thoughts of God's world, with no intent of their own and without deviation. Trees in particular were mysterious and seemed to me to be direct embodiments of the incomprehensible meaning of life. For that reason the woods were the place where I felt closest to its deepest meaning and to its awe-inspiring workings (67-8).
While Jung felt closer to God in Nature, he observed that both animals and humans seemed to have forgotten, in their sorrow and mundane existence, that "they dwelt in a unified cosmos, in God's world, in an eternity where everything is already born and everything has already died" (66-7). His father exemplified this behaviour, he was a religious man, yet he took no joy in his offices, and appeared to have no experience of God, and was disconnected from Nature. His mother, on the other hand, seemed to have a much more solid grounding, though he reflected that it was much more pagan as well, as if she were "rooted in deep, invisible ground [and] somehow connected with animals, trees, mountains, meadows and running water" despite her outward Christian "assertions of faith" (90).
During this period, Jung continued his practice of sitting on the large stone that jutted from the hillside. This practice was undoubtedly meditative, though he does not use the word, and his intuitive affinity for these long periods of sitting still in nature show, in my opinion, a strong embodied wisdom. After these session he would be free of all his doubts, and feel very deeply that though he was "only a passing phenomenon which burst into all kinds of emotions, like a flame that flares up quickly and then goes out," he was also the 'Other' and "timeless, imperishable stone" (42).
The stone upon which Jung spent many hours of his childhood was perhaps the inspiration for the lifestone he paired with his manikin. This soulstone was an oblong, blackish river rock he pulled from the Rhine, and, he discovered as an adult, very similar to the tribal tjuringas of Australian Aborigines, which were felt to hold the life essence of the ancestors and were stored “away as their most treasured possessions” (Wikipedia).
I've included quite a few, and longish, quotes in this post because I have found that Jung is at his most eloquent (and the Translators as well!) when he talks about Nature. I wanted you to have a real feel for the lyricism and beauty with which he writes. This book is definitely worth reading, not only for the insights into Jung's life, but also for the enjoyment that comes with reading well-written memoir.