I purchased a book for a buck a few weeks ago that is old, its pages yellow and brittle: Memories, Dreams, Reflections by C.J. Jung. Because of its condition, I resisted reading, afraid it will fall apart before I finish it. But this morning, I ventured into the introduction written by Aniela Jaffe’, who interviewed Jung and did the primary writing of the book. I could see in a short time that this is a perfect follow-up to The Varieties of Religious Experience by Willaim James that I completed a while back.
I realize that my failure to blog in the past year has been a priority issue. I tend to read in the early morning when it is quiet and then move into my day when things start to bustle around here. When I wrote regularly, blogging was the second task of the day and often the subject of my blogging was something I had read and found meaningful to my own self or to whatever was going on in the world at that time. Since the world and I seem to change so rapidly, the thoughts pass by and are quickly replaced by others. I have decided to fix that. So here I am, sitting in my pajamas ready to take what Jung offered me today and pass it on to whoever has the time and interest to read this morning.
Jung wrote to a young clergyman in 1952, “I find that all my thoughts circle around God like the planets around the sun, and are as irresistibly attracted to Him. I would feel it to be the grossest sin if I were to oppose any resistance to this force.” Eleven pages in and I have been hooked. This has been my own experience, thoughts of God always tugging at me like a child trying to get my attention or like the little people of Whoville shouting into the ear of an elephant, “We are here! We are here!” God, that unseen force that has all the answers but keeps them a secret because if He* gave them away, no one would seek Him anymore. Such an insecure God! I will write some other time about the many ways that God tries to get my attention.
Jung was a scientist and, as such, would speak of his religious experience as though he were talking about anatomical structures. He does this by choice and with awareness. Speaking of his own experience as a youth, he writes, “At that time I realized that God – for me, at least – was one of the most immediate experiences.” In his work as scientific, he seldom spoke of God, but he used the term “the God-image in the human psyche.” For him this is not a contradiction, for one is subjective based on his own experience; the other is the objective language of the scientist.
Jung rarely spoke of his subjective religious experiences and this book promises to share some of these. There is reason for his hesitancy. “His subjective statements will be acceptable only by those who have had similar experiences-or, to put it another way, to those whose psyche the God-image bears the same or similar features.” I can relate. While I yearn to share my own experiences and to hear of the religious experiences of others, I find that people who are willing to listen and share are most often people who have at least some common thoughts of spirituality, religion, and the divine. When sharing with others about my experience of God, I usually begin by putting my toe in the water to test whether there are places of common seeing. At one time, if doubted that anyone out there could possibly understand how I felt about things spiritual, but I was wrong. That sense that one is unique in all the world and no one could possibly understand is the mischief of the ego for it leads to separation – and loneliness.
- Please forgive the use of the word “He” for God. Jung, writing when he did, used the masculine and it is sometimes hard to loose myself when I am discussing an older work. I can wrestle with a sentence for an hour trying to speak of God as other than human, which He is. (Oops – I did it again.)