Jung: His Early Embodied Wisdom
Jung: His Early Embodied Wisdom
In Memories, Dreams, ReflectionsMemories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung continued to explore the relationship between himself and the Divine, both in the waking and dream worlds. His developing sense of himself, his body, and the Oneness of existence provide many examples of embodied wisdom (and I’m going to just kinda list them here). He also continued to struggle with his feeling of isolation, searching for those who understood him.
He "felt that at some time or other [he] had passed through the valley of diamonds, but I could convince no one – not even myself, when I looked at them more closely – that the specimens I had brought back were not mere pieces of gravel" (104).
In this search, between the ages of 16 and 19, he continued to read Western philosophy, noting that, though he did not understand him, Meister Eckhart inspired him, St. Thomas left him unimpressed, Schopenhauer gave him hope, and Kant gave him confidence with a new critical method to understand and examine the arguments of everyone else (69-71).
» Once, having been accused of cheating, as his "grief and rage threatened to get out of control," he suddenly experienced an inner silence, "as though a soundproof door had been closed on a noisy room" (65). He was touched as if by “a breath of the great world of stars and endless space” and he realized that his teacher’s mistrust was only a reflection of the relationship between his No.1 and No. 2 personalities (66).
» Immediately after his experience at the hermitage he met a young girl and it seemed "it were the most natural thing in the world we descended into the valley together" who captivated his interest and who caused a "strange feeling of fatefulness… and she walked along with [him] as naturally as if we belonged together" (79). He wondered if this were, indeed, fate, but it was not to be.
» He had "a strong feeling that [plants] ought not to be pulled up and dried. They were living beings which had meaning only so long as they were growing and flowering – a hidden, secret meaning, one of God's thought. They were to be regarded with awe and contemplated with philosophical wonderment" (83).
» In medical school he developed a similar abhorrence of dissection and cut all such classes that he could. In spite of his love for pathology and internal medicine, he felt that dissection was "horrible, barbarous, and above all unnecessary" desecration of the animals with whom he felt a deep "unconscious identity" (101). On the other hand, he felt no such reverence for insects and took every opportunity to punish them for "preying on plants" (83).
» Jung put off the decision on which career path to follow at University until the very last moment, leading his father to comment that, "The boy is interested in everything imaginable, but he does not know what he wants" (84). I totally understand that problem, I have often remarked that I am interested in everything but I don't know what I am most passionate about. I'm hoping that the ability to pursue my interests wherever they carry me will be one of the benefits of this blog and that my passion for reading, coaching, and writing will bring it all together. Anyway, back to Jung, he was finally able to make his decision based on two dreams he had. The first was about finding the bones of a prehistoric animal which caused him to know that he "must get to know nature, the world in which we live and the things around us" while the second was about a giant, opalescent radiolarian that he discovered and that "aroused in [him] an intense desire for knowledge, so that [he] woke with a beating heart" (85).
» Finally, in similar fashion, his decision to specialize in psychiatry happened while studying for his exams. In the Intro to his Psychiatry text he realized it was a “more or less subjective” study and that psychoses were “diseases of the personality” (109). He had a “flash of illumination” and knew that “the only possible goal was psychiatry,” where his two personalities could both explore and develop, and he had to stand up and draw a deep breath, he was so moved by this realization.
One of the cool things about Jung was that he had the courage and stamina to follow his wisdom, despite the disbelief of his friends and colleagues that he would stoop to enter such a disreputable profession. He had “once again got himself into a side alley where no one could or would follow [him]” but that it was okay as he was not in control, but rather carried by the river of fate “toward distant goals” and that finally having a “united double nature” was more than adequate reward for his isolation (109).