Quotes By Man and His Symbols

“The girl dreams she is dangerously ill. Suddenly birds come out of her skin and cover her completely ... Swarms of gnats obscure the sun, the moon, and all the stars except one. That one start falls upon the dreamer.”


“I myself found a fascinating example of this in Nietzsche’s book Thus Spake Zarathustra, where the author reproduces almost word for word an incident reported in a ship’s log for the year 1686. By sheer chance I had read this seaman’s yarn in a book published about 1835 (half a century before Nietzsche wrote); and when I found the similar passage in Thus Spake Zarathustra, I was struck by its peculiar style, which was different from Nietzsche’s usual language. I was convinced that Nietzsche must also have seen the old book, though he made no reference to it. I wrote to his sister, who was still alive, and she confirmed that she and her brother had in fact read the book together when he was 11 years old. I think, from the context, it is inconceivable that Nietzsche had any idea that he was plagiarizing this story. I believe that fifty years later it has unexpectedly slipped into focus in his conscious mind.”


“Christians often ask why God does not speak to them, as he is believed to have done in former days. When I hear such questions, it always makes me think of the rabbi who was asked how it could be that God often showed himself to people in the olden days while nowadays nobody ever sees him. The rabbi replied: "Nowadays there is now longer anybody who can bow low enough."

This answer hits the nail on the head. We are so captivated by and entangled in our subjective consciousness that we have forgotten the age-old fact that God speaks chiefly through dreams and visions. The Buddhist discards the world of unconscious fantasies as useless illusions; the Christian puts his Church and his Bible between himself and his unconscious; and the rational intellectual does not yet know that his consciousness is not his total psyche. This ignorance persists today in spite of the fact that for more than 70 years the unconscious has been a basic scientific concept that is indispensable to any serious psychological investigation.”


“Man as we realize if we reflect for a moment, never perceives anything fully or comprehends anything completely. He can see, hear, touch, and taste; but how far he sees, how well he hears, what his touch tells him, and what he tastes depend upon the number and quality of his senses. These limit his perception of the world around him. By using scientific instruments he can partly compensate for the deficiencies of his senses. For example, he can extend the range of his vision by binoculars or of his hearing by electrical amplification. But the most elaborate apparatus cannot do more than bring distant or small objects within range of his eyes, or make faint sounds more audible. No matter what instruments he uses, at some point he reaches the edge of certainty beyond which conscious knowledge cannot pass.”


“Even a scientist is a human being. So it is natural for him, like others, to hate the things he cannot explain. It is a common illusion to believe that what we know today is all we ever can know. Nothing is more vulnerable than scientific theory, which is an ephemeral attempt to explain facts and not an everlasting truth in itself.”


“In order to understand the symbolic indications of the unconscious, one must be careful not to get outside oneself or "beside oneself," but to stay emotionally within oneself. Indeed, it is vitally important that the ego should continue to function in normal ways. Only if I remain an ordinary human being, conscious of my incompleteness, can I become receptive to the significant contents and processes of the unconscious. But how can a human being stand the tension of feeling himself at one with the whole universe, while at the same time he is only a miserable earthly human creature? If, on the one hand, I despise myself as merely a statistical cipher, my life has no meaning and is not worth living. But if, on the other hand, I feel myself to be part of something much greater, how am I to keep my feet on the ground? It is very difficult indeed to keep these inner opposites united within oneself without toppling over into one or the other extreme.”


“Anthropologists have often described what happens to a primitive society when its spiritual values are exposed to the impact of modern civilization. Its people lose the meaning of their lives, their social organization disintegrates, and they themselves morally decay. We are now in the same condition. But we have never really understood what we have lost, for our spiritual leaders unfortunately were more interested in protecting their institutions than in understanding the mystery that symbols present. In my opinion, faith does not exclude thought (which is man's strongest weapon), but unfortunately many believers seem to be so afraid of science (and incidentally of psychology) that they turn a blind eye to the numinous psychic powers that forever control man's fate. We have stripped all things of their mystery and numinosity; nothing is holy any longer.”


“Obviously, the problem of the shadow plays a great role in all political conflicts. If the man who had this dream had not been sensible about his shadow problem, he could easily have identified the desperate Frenchman with the "dangerous Communists" of outer life, or the official plus the prosperous man with the "grasping capitalists." In this way he would have avoided seeing that he had within him such warring elements. If people observe their own unconscious tendencies in other people, this is called a "projection." Political agitation in all countries is full of such projections, just as much as the backyard gossip of little groups and individuals. Projections of all kinds obscure our view of our fellow men, spoiling its objectivity, and thus spoiling all possibility of genuine human relationships.”


“When a person tries to obey the unconscious, he will often, as we have seen, be unable to do just as he pleases. But equally he will often be unable to do what other people want him to do. It often happens, for instance, that he must separate from his group-from his family, his partner, or other personal connections-in order to find himself. That is why it is sometimes said that attending to the unconscious makes people antisocial and egocentric. As a rule this is not true, for there is a little-known factor that enters into this attitude: the collective (or, we could even say, social) aspect of the Self.”


“There are two reasons why man loses contact with the regulating center of his soul. One of them is that some single instinctive drive or emotional image can carry him into a one-sidedness that makes him lose his balance. This also happens to animals; for example, a sexually excited stag will completely forget hunger and security. This one-sidedness and consequent loss of balance are much dreaded by primitives, who call it, "loss of soul." Another threat to the inner balance comes from excessive daydreaming, which in a secret way usually circles around particular complexes. In fact, daydreams arise just because they connect a man with his complexes; at the same time they threaten the concentration and continuity of his consciousness.

The second obstacle is exactly the opposite, and is due to an over-consolidation of ego-consciousness. Although a disciplined consciousness is necessary for the performance of civilized activities (we know what happens if a railway signalman lapses into daydreaming), it has the serious disadvantage that it is apt to block the reception of impulses and messages coming from the center. This is why so many dreams of civilized people are concerned with restoring this receptivity by attempting to correct the attitude of consciousness toward the unconscious center of Self.”


“Because we cannot discover God's throne in the sky with a radiotelescope or establish (for certain) that a beloved father or mother is still about in a more or less corporeal form, people assume that such ideas are "not true." I would rather say that they are not "true" enough, for these are conceptions of a kind that have accompanied human life from prehistoric times, and that still break through into consciousness at any provocation.

Modern man may assert that he can dispose with them, and he may bolster his opinion by insisting that there is no scientific evidence of their truth. Or he may even regret the loss of his convictions. But since we are dealing with invisible and unknowable things (for God is beyond human understanding, and there is no means of proving immortality), why should we bother about evidence? Even if we did not know by reason our need for salt in our food, we should nonetheless profit from its use. We might argue that the use of salt is a mere illusion of taste or a superstition; but it would still contribute to our well-being. Why, then, should we deprive ourselves of views that would prove helpful in crises and would give a meaning to our existence?

And how do we know that such ideas are not true? Many people would agree with me if I stated flatly that such ideas are probably illusions. What they fail to realize is that the denial is as impossible to "prove" as the assertion of religious belief. We are entirely free to choose which point of view we take; it will in any case be an arbitrary decision.

There is, however, a strong empirical reason why we should cultivate thoughts that can never be proved. It is that they are known to be useful. Man positively needs general ideas and convictions that will give a meaning to his life and enable him to find a place for himself in the universe. He can stand the most incredible hardships when he is convinced that they make sense; he is crushed when, on top of all his misfortunes, he has to admit that he is taking part in a "tale told by an idiot."

It is the role of religious symbols to give a meaning to the life of man. The Pueblo Indians believe that they are the sons of Father Sun, and this belief endows their life with a perspective (and a goal) that goes far beyond their limited existence. It gives them ample space for the unfolding of personality and permits them a full life as complete persons. Their plight is infinitely more satisfactory than that of a man in our own civilization who knows that he is (and will remain) nothing more than an underdog with no inner meaning to his life.”


“Man becomes whole, integrated, calm, fertile, and happy when (and only when) the process of individuation is complete, when the conscious and the unconscious have learned to live at peace and to complement one another.”


“We do not base botany upon the old-fashioned division into useful and useless plants, or our zoology upon the naive distinction between harmless and dangerous animals. But we still complacently assume that consciousness is sense and the unconsciousness is nonsense. In science such an assumption would be laughed out of court. Do microbes, for instance, make sense or nonsense?

Whatever the unconscious may be, it is a natural phenomenon producing symbols that prove to be meaningful. We cannot expect someone who has never looked through a microscope to be an authority on microbes; in the same way, no one who has not made a serious study of natural symbols can be considered a competent judge in this matter. But the general undervaluation of the human soul is so great that neither the great religions nor the philosophies nor scientific rationalism have been willing to look at it twice.”


“(In fact, passion that goes beyond the natural measure of love ultimately aims at the mystery of becoming whole, and this is why one feels, when he has fallen passionately in love, that becoming one with the other person is the only worthwhile goal of one's life.)”


“A story told by the conscious mind has a beginning, a development, and an end, but the same is not true of a dream. Its dimensions in time and space are quite different; to understand it you must examine it from every aspect-just as you may take an unknown object in your hands and turn it over and over until you are familiar with every detail of its shape.”


“Even the most carefully defined philosophical or mathematical concept, which we are sure does not contain more than we have put into it, is nevertheless more than we assume. It is a psychic event and as such partly unknowable. The very numbers you use in counting are more than you take them to be. They are at the same time mythological elements (for the Pythagoreans, they were even divine); but you are certainly unaware of this when you use numbers for a practical purpose.”


“Every concept in our conscious mind, in short, has its own psychic associations. While such associations may vary in intensity (according to relative importance of the concept to our whole personality, or according to the other ideas and even complexes to which it is associated in our unconscious), they are capable of changing the "normal" character of that concept. It may even become something quite different as it drifts below the level of consciousness.

These subliminal aspects of everything that happens to us may seem to play very little part in our daily lives. But in dream analysis, where the psychologist is dealing with expressions of the unconscious, they are very relevant, for they are the almost invisible roots of our conscious thoughts. That is why commonplace objects or ideas can assume such powerful psychic significance in a dream that we may awake seriously disturbed, in spite of having dreamed of nothing worse than a locked room or a missed train.

The images produced in dreams are much more picturesque and vivid than the concepts and experiences that are their waking counterparts. One of the reasons for this is that, in a dream, such concepts can express their unconscious meaning. In our conscious thoughts, we restrain ourselves within the limits of rational statements-statements that are much less colorful because we have stripped them of most of their psychic associations.”


“The fact is that each person has to do something different, something that is uniquely his own.”


“It even seems as if the ego has not been produced by nature to follow its own arbitrary impulses to an unlimited extent, but to help to make real the totality-the whole psyche. It is the ego that serves to light up the entire system, allowing it to become conscious and thus to be realized. If, for example, I have an artistic talent of which my ego is not conscious, nothing will happen to it. The gift may as well be non-existent. Only if my ego notices it can I bring it into reality. The inborn but hidden totality of the psyche is not the same thing as a wholeness that is fully realized and lived.

One could picture this in the following way: The seed of a mountain pine contains the whole future tree in a latent form; but each seed falls at a certain time onto a particular place, in which there are a number of special factors, such as the quality of the soil and the stones, the slope of the land, and its exposure to the sun and wind. The latent totality of the pine in the seed reacts to these cicumstances by avoiding the stones and inclining toward the sun, with the result that the tree's growth is shaped. Thus an individual pine slowly comes into existence, constituting the fulfillment of its totality, its emergence into the realm of reality. Without the living tree, the image of the pine is only a possibility or an abstract idea. Again, the realization of this uniqueness in the individual man is the goal of the process of individuation.”


“His gods and demons have not disappeared at all; they have merely got new names.”


“The unexpected parallelisms of ideas in psychology and physics suggest, as Jung pointed out, a possible ultimate one-ness of both fields of reality that physics and psychology study-i.e., a psychophysical one-ness of both fields of reality that physics and psychology study-i.e., a psychophysical one-ness of all life phenomena. Jung was even convinced that what he calls the unconscious somehow links up with the structure of inorganic matter-a link to which the problem of so-called "psychosomatic" illness seems to point. The concept of a unitarian idea of reality (which has been followed up by Pauli and Erich Nuemann) was called by Jung the unus mundus (the one world, within which matter and psyche are not yet discriminated or separately actualized). He paved the way toward such a unitarian point of view by pointing out that an archetype shows a "psychoid" (i.e., not purely psychic but almost material) aspect when it appears within a synchronistic event-for such an event is in effect a meaningful arrangement of inner psychic and outer facts.”


“There is a desert on the moon where the dreamer sinks so deeply into the ground that she reaches hell.”


“آن Ú†Ù‡ Ú©Ù‡ ما خودآگاهی ناشی از تمدن Ù…ÛŒ نامیم، به طور جدی از غرایز اصلیمان فاصله گرفته است. انسان عصر حاضر به علت شهر نشینی تا حدی به قدرت اراده Ùˆ اختیار دست یافته Ùˆ بدون توسل به دعا Ùˆ سرود Ùˆ دهل [در رقص های مذهبی Ùˆ جادوگری]ØŒ کار خود را با کارآیی لازم پیش ببرد. اما با همه ÛŒ منطقی شدن Ùˆ کارا بودن، نیروهایی درون اوست Ú©Ù‡ خارج از کنترل او هستند. ایزدان Ùˆ اهریمنانِ انسان از بین نرفته اند، بلکه تغییر نام داده اند. این نیروها مدام انسان را در بی قراری، اضطراب های مبهم، پیچیدگی روانی، اشتهای سیری نا پذیر برای مصرف قرص Ùˆ الکل Ùˆ مواد مخدر، Ùˆ از همه مهم تر، در طیفی از بیماری های عصبی نگاه Ù…ÛŒ دارند.”


“It may seem that my discussion of synchronicity has led me away from my main theme, but I feel it is necessary to make at least a brief introductory reference to it because it is a Jungian hypothesis that seems to be pregnant with future possibilities of investigation and application. Synchronistic events, moreover, almost invariably accompany the crucial phases of the process of individuation. But too often they pass unnoticed, because the individual has not learned to watch for such coincidences and to make them meaningful in relation to the symbolism o f his dreams.”


“It is the face of his own evil shadow that grins at Western man from the other side of the Iron curtain.”