Life after Death
April 21, 2010 § 5 Comments
The latest issue of Parabola is appearing here and there and in my completely biased opinion it is very beautiful and rich. Please buy it! Please talk about it and post and twitter about it! Thank you! We really need your support! Among the other riches I’ll be blogging about is a fascinating article about Carl Jung’s Red Book by Jung biographer Claire Dunne. What is the meaning and significance this mysterious work, which was hidden from the public for so long? In the words of author Dunne: “Cary Baynes, a former patient who was asked by Jung to transcribe the text, called it a ‘record of the passage of the universe through the soul of a man.’ It records the search, experiences, and initial findings of a man who at age forty had, by his own account ‘achieved honor, power, wealth, knowledge and every human happiness,’ yet had somehow lost his soul.”
Many of us have had at least a fleeting sensations of losing our real selves, if not our real souls–of being carried along passively by habits and deadlines and pressures, losing the thread of what we deep down feel we were meant to be. It’s a truly haunting feeling. There used to be this strange expression you would say when someone shivered: “Someone step on your grave?” That’s a pretty good description of what it can feel like to be gripped with the sensation that you’ve lost track of your inner life, stopped caring about the development of your own soul, letting it be drowned out by the din of outer life. How do we begin again? How can we see into our lives as if for the first time? In the words of T.S. Eliot (and continuing a thread begun in a previous post):
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)…..”
Jung chronicles how he passed through that gate (and pays the price of not less than everything). Interestingly (in light of the poem), his journey began by rediscovering child’s play, remembering what he loved to do as a child. What did you love to do? Build things? Draw? Stare at clouds and daydream? Investigate. Follow whatever it is. It can lead you from shallows to the depths.