In the last post I used the writings of Carl Jung from his book Memories Dreams and Reflections and also from Anthony Stevens work On Jung to look at Jung’s extraordinary surrender to the depths of the unconscious. It was clearly impossible to continue such a perilous journey and he describes how he would repeat to himself that he really existed and that he was not ‘a blank page whirling about in the winds of the spirit, like Nietzsche,’ who went mad when he had similar experiences. Jung recognised that through active imagination he was merely entering realms of the psyche which are normally inaccessible to people. He stopped his travels when he understood more that the goal of all psychic development is the Self. The Self he experienced as an archetype and the centre beyond which it is not possible to go – it’s the goal to which everything is directed and for Jung the Self equates to God. The nearer one comes to an experience of the Self the opposites become transcended and there is healing in the psyche.
Jung’s surrender to these experiences led to an inner peace – he knew them to be true. His experiments of surrendering to the deep psyche ended with a dream where he found himself in Liverpool – literally meaning ‘pool of life’. The city was arranged about a square:
In the centre was a round pool, and in the middle of it a small island. While everything around about was obscured by rain, fog, smoke and dimly lit darkness, the little island blazed with sunlight. On it stood a single tree, a magnolia, in a shower of reddish blossoms. It was as though the tree stood in the sunlight and was at the same time the source of light.
Companions who were with him commented on the abominable weather and spoke of another Swiss who was living in Liverpool expressing surprise that he should have settled there. ‘I was carried away by the beauty of the flowering tree and the sunlit island and thought, “I know very well why he has settled here”’.
Jung writes that the dream brought him a sense of finality. The unpleasant black opaqueness of the fog represented what he’d undergone up to that point but now he had been given an image of an earthly beauty and with that he could go on living in the ‘pool of life’. The dream had depicted the whole process of the development of consciousness and satisfied him completely. ‘I had taken the step into darkness. When that happens, and then such a dream comes, one feels it is an act of grace.’