What does surrender to God look like 4

For the analytical psychologist Carl Jung surrender took the form of deep self-knowledge and what he describes as plunging down ‘into the dark depths’. He used the term active imagination to describe how he surrendered his conscious psyche in order to explore the deep unconscious. Jung tells us how the experiment eventually began:

It was during Advent of the year 1913 … that I resolved on the decisive step. I was sitting at my desk once more, thinking over my fears. Then I let myself drop. Suddenly it was as though the ground literally gave way beneath my feet … I frequently imagined a steep descent. I even made several attempts to get to the very bottom … It was like a voyage to the moon, or a descent into an empty space … The atmosphere was that of the other world.

During these extraordinary experiences Jung encountered different figures including Elijah and Salome. He recognised Elijah as a personification of the archetype of the wise old man and Salome as an anima figure – they were also he thought embodiments of the Logos and Eros principles. During his encounter out of the figure of Elijah a new person arose whom Jung called Philemon, a numinous figure, who appeared to him on numerous occasions and from whom Jung learnt many things, including the reality of the psyche.

At times he seemed to be quite real as if he were a living personality. I went walking up and down the garden with him, and to me he was what the Indians call a guru … In my fantasies I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I. He said I treated thoughts as if I generated them myself, but in his view thoughts were like animals in the forest, or people in a room, or birds in the air, and added, “if you should see people in a room you would not think that you had made those people, or that you were responsible for them.”

Despite the resulting creativity and outpouring of ideas about the unconscious these experiences of deep psychic surrender brought Jung to the edge of madness. Not only did he hear voices, play like a child and walk about his garden holding lengthy conversations with an imaginary companion, but he believed his house to be invaded by spirits. One evening when the front doorbell began ringing frantically when no one was there Jung and his companions could hear the sound and see the bell moving and the air became so thick it was scarcely possible to breathe. Jung asked ‘For God’s sake, what in the world is this?’ The response he writes was that: ‘then they cried out in chorus, “we have come back from Jerusalem where we found not what we sought.”’ Jung’s response was to write his volume Seven Sermons of the Dead over three evenings – as soon as he did so the whole thing evaporated and the atmosphere cleared. ‘The haunting was over.’

But such experiences like this warned him how desperately he needed to keep a hold on reality. His response was to adopt a creative attitude and response to each thing that happened – each needed to be understood but the insight had to be converted into an ethical obligation.