“To the superficial observer, it will appear like madness.”
While most will not purchase this pricey book, and even less will take the time to plow through the confounding personal revelations of Jung’s psychic journey, it is my aim to glean some of the jewels of wisdom that are found in this remarkable journal and make them available for everyone.
As I am reading through the Red Book I have highlighter in hand marking numerous passages I want to remember and share with others who may be curious about this much-talked about publication.
Making a Journal Sacred
“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can – in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them… Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”
Source: NY Times Magazine article, The Holy Grail of the Unconscious.
Importance of Dreams
I must learn that the dregs of my thought, my dreams, are the speech of my soul. I must carry them in my heart, and go back and forth over them in my mind, like the words of the person dearest to me. Dreams are the guiding words of the soul. Why should I henceforth not love my dreams and not make their riddling images into objects of my daily consideration? p.233
The spirit of the depths even taught me to consider my action and my decision as dependent on dreams. Dreams pave the way for life, and they determine you without you understanding their language. One would like to learn this language, but who can teach and learn it? Scholarliness alone is not enough; there is knowledge of the heart that gives deeper insight. The knowledge of the heart is in no book and is not to be found in the mouth of any teacher, but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth….But how can I attain the knowledge of the heart? You can attain this knowledge only by living your life to the full. You live your life fully if you also live what you have never lived, but have left for others to live and think. p.233
We also live in our dreams; we do not live only by day. Sometimes we accomplish our greatest deeds in dreams. p.242
- If you are boys, your God is a woman.
- If you are women, your God is a boy.
- If you are men, your God is a maiden.
- The God is where you are not. p.234
If we set a God outside of ourselves, he tears us loose from the self, since the God is more powerful than we are. Our self falls into privation. But if the God moves into the self, he snatches us from what is outside us. We arrive at singleness in ourselves. p.245
I must say that the God could not come into being before the hero had been slain. The hero as we understand him has become an enemy of the God, since the hero is perfection… But the Gods are not with him who wishes to be perfect… p.244-45
I understood that the God whom we seek in the absolute was not to be found in absolute beauty, goodness, seriousness, elevation, humanity or even in godliness….I understood that the new God would be in the relative. If the God is absolute beauty and goodness, how should he encompass the fullness of life, which is beautiful and hateful, good and evil, laughable and serious, human and inhuman? How can man live in the womb of the God if the Godhead himself attends only to one-half of them? p.243
Everything that becomes too old becomes evil; the same is true of your highest. Learn from the suffering of the crucified God that one can also betray and crucify a God, namely the God of the old year. If a God ceases being the way of life, he must fall secretly. p.241
In everything regarding your salvation and the attainment of mercy, you are dependent on your soul. Thus no sacrifice can be too great for you. If your virtues hinder you from salvation, discard them, since they have become evil to you.
The slave to virtue finds the way as little as the slave to vices. p.235
To the extent that the Christianity of this time lacks madness, it lacks divine life. Take note of what the ancients taught us in images: madness is divine. p.238
…mustn’t it be a peculiarly beautiful feeling to hit bottom in reality at least once, where there is no going down any further, but only upward beckons at best? Where for once one stands before the whole height of reality? p.265
Importance of Low Point
I therefore need the bottom-most for my renewal. If I am always on the heights, I wear them out and the best becomes atrocious to me….At your low point you are no longer distinct from your fellow beings. You are not ashamed and do not regret it, since insofar as you live the life of your fellow beings and descend to their lowliness you also climb into the holy stream of common life, where you are no longer an individual on a high mountain, but a fish among fish, a frog among frogs. p.266
Realness of Imaginal Beings
This I learned in the Mysterium: to take seriously every unknown wanderer who personally inhabits the inner world, since they are real because they are effectual. p.260
You may call us symbols….But we are just as real as your fellow men. You invalidate nothing and solve nothing by calling us symbols. p.249
We are real and not symbols. p.246
Living Your Own Life
But one thing you must know: the one thing I have learned is that one must live this life. p.232
But how can I attain the knowledge of the heart? You can attain this knowledge only by living your life to the full. You live your life fully if you also live what you have never yet lived, but have left for others to live or to think. p.233
But fundamentally you are terrified of yourself, and therefore you prefer to run to all others rather than to yourself. p.254
You are Christians and run after heroes, and wait for redeemers who should take the agony on themselves from you, and totally spare you Golgotha. p.254
It is no small matter to acknowledge one’s yearning. For this many need to make a particular effort at honesty. All too many do not want to know where their yearning is, because it would seem to them impossible or too distressing. And yet yearning is the way of life. If you do not acknowledge your yearning, then you do not follow yourself, but go on foreign ways that others have indicated to you. So you do not live your life but an alien one. But who should live your life if you do not live it? It is not only stupid to exchange your own life for an alien one, but also a hypocritical game, because you can never really live the life of others, you can only pretend to do it, deceiving the other and yourself, since you can only life your own life. p.249
To live oneself means: to be one’s own task. Never say that it is a pleasure to live oneself. It will be no joy but a long suffering, since you must become your own creator. If you want to create yourself, then you do not begin with the best and the highest, but with the worst and the deepest. Therefore say that you are reluctant to live yourself. The flowing together of the stream of life is not joy but pain, since it is power against power, guilt, and shatters the sanctified. p.249-50
If you are aggravated against your brother, think that you are aggravated against the brother in you, that is, against what in you is similar to your brother. p.251
He who enters into his own must grope through what lies at hand, he must sense his way from stone to stone. He must embrace the worthless and the worthy with the same love. A mountain is nothing, and a grain of sand holds kingdoms, or also nothing. Judgment must fall from you, even taste, but above all pride, even when it is based on merit. Utterly poor, miserable, unknowingly humiliated, go on through the gate. Turn your anger against yourself, since only you stop yourself from looking and from living. The mystery play is soft like air and thin smoke, and you are raw material that is disturbingly heavy. But let your hope, which is your highest good and highest ability, lead the way and serve you as a guide in the world of darkness… p.246-47
The serpent is the earthly essence of man of which he is not conscious….it is the mystery that flows to him from the nourishing earth-mother. p.247
The way of life writhes like the serpent from right to left and from left to right, from thinking to pleasure and from pleasure to thinking. Thus the serpent is an adversary and a symbol of enmity, but also a wise bridge that connects right and lift through longing, much needed by our life. p.247
Man and Woman
You, man, should not seek the feminine in women, but seek and recognize it in yourself, as you… You, woman, should not seek the masculine in men, but assume the masculine in yourself, since you possess it from the beginning. But it amuses you and is easy to play at femininity, consequently man despises you since he despises his femininity…But if you pay attention you will see that the most masculine man has a feminine soul, and the most feminine woman has a masculine soul. The more manly you are the more remote from you is what woman really is, since the feminine in yourself is alien and contemptuous.
But if you remain with yourself, as a man who is himself…then you will remember your humanity. You will not behave toward woman per se as a man, but as a human being, that is to say, as if you were of the same sex as her. You will recall your femininity…It is bitter for the most masculine man to accept his femininity…
You are a slave of what you need in your soul. The most masculine man needs women, and he is consequently their slave. Become a woman yourself, and you will be saved from slavery to woman….It is good for you once to put on women’s clothes: people will laugh at you, but through becoming a woman you attain freedom from women and their tyranny. The acceptance of femininity leads to completion. The same is valid for the woman who accepts her masculinity. p.263-64