Jung: The dead, it seems, do not possess great Knowledge!


Francesco Botticini — The assumption of the Virgin

I was struck by a few lines in C.G. Jung’s ‘Memories, Dreams and Reflections’.

They reinvigorated my own growing impression that this three dimensional world, of time and space, is really at the cutting edge of ‘the spiritual endeavour.’

It seems to be where the real ‘graft’ happens. The gems are mined here to be sent back to the other place.

It feels as though the appearance of (our) consciousness in this waking world is a sort of scout or avant garde; A focussing device, developed from the unconscious in order to expand, manifest and clarify it’s possibilities.

Jung uses the term ‘unconscious’ as an umbrella term for ‘the other’. The particular term we decide to use for this, though, has more to do with our particular interests than anything concrete.

Quite early I had learned that it was necessary for me to instruct the figures of the unconscious, or that other group, often indistinguishable from them, the ‘spirits of the departed’. — Jung p338

Jung alludes to the idea that it is here and now that the clarifying force of knowledge is aggregated. The Knowledge there is sweeping and diffuse; It lacks focus.

The figures from the unconscious are uninformed too, and need man, or contact with consciousness, in order to attain knowledge. — Jung p337

Jung further discusses the incremental accumulation of knowledge, while relating to a dream he had:

Not until years later did I understand my dream and my reaction to it. The bewigged gentleman was a kind of ancestral spirit, or spirit of the dead, who had addressed questions to me — In vain!

It was still too soon, I had not yet come so far, but I had an obscure feeling that by working on my book I would be answering the question that I had been asked by, as it were, my spiritual forefathers, in the hope and expectation that they would learn what they had not been able to find out during their time on earth, since the answer had first to be created in the centuries that followed.

If question and answer had already been in existence in eternity, had always been there, no effort on my part would have been necessary, and it could all have been discovered in any other century. There does seem to be unlimited knowledge present in nature, it is true, but it can be comprehended by consciousness only when the time is ripe for it.

The process is presumably like what happens in the individual psyche: a man may go about for many years with an inkling of something, but grasps it clearly only at a particular moment.

Later when I wrote the Septem Sermons ad Mortuos, once again it was the dead who addressed crucial questions to me. They came — so they said — ‘Back from Jerusalem, where they found not what they sought’ This had surprised me greatly at the time, for according to the traditional views the dead are the possessors of great knowledge.

Apparently, however, the souls of the dead ‘know’ only what they knew at the moment of death, and nothing beyond that. Hence their endeavour to penetrate into life in order to share in the knowledge of men.

I frequently have a feeling that they are standing directly behind us, waiting to hear what answer we will give to them, and what answer to destiny.

….The mind of the living appears to hold an advantage over that of the dead in at least one point: In the capacity for attaining clear and decisive cognitions. — Jung p339

Only here, in life on earth, where the opposites clash together, can the general level of consciousness be raised. That seems to be man’s metaphysical task –which he cannot accomplish without ‘mythologising’. Myth is the natural and indispensable intermediate stage between unconscious and conscious cognition.

True, the unconscious knows more than the consciousness does; but it is knowledge of a special sort, knowledge in eternity, usually without reference to the here and now, not couched in language of the intellect. Only when we let its statements amplify themselves does it come within the range of our understanding; only then does a new aspect become perceptible to us. — Jung p343

We then, find ourselves vessels of transformation; Channels for a creative force, that ‘we’ convert, crystalize and send back.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s