The greatest and most important problems of life are all in a certain sense insoluble. They must be so because they express the necessary polarity inherent in every self-regulating system. They can never be solved, but only outgrown.
I have often seen individuals simply outgrow a problem which had destroyed others. This ‘outgrowing’, as I formerly called it, on further experience was seen to consist in a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest arose on the person’s horizon, and through this widening of his view the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms, but faded out when confronted with a new and stronger life-tendency. It was not repressed and made unconscious, but merely appeared in a different light, and so did indeed become different. What, on a lower level, had led to the wildest conflicts and to panicky outbursts of emotion, viewed from the higher level of the personality, now seemed like a storm in the valley seen from a high mountain-top. […] One certainly does feel the affect and is shaken and tormented by it, yet at the same time one is aware of a higher consciousness, which prevents one from becoming identical with the affect, a consciousness which takes the affect objectively, and can say, ‘I know that I suffer.’ What our text 1)↓ says of indolence: ‘Indolence of which a man is conscious and indolence of which he is unconscious are a thousand miles apart’, holds true in the highest degree of affect also…
It would be simple enough, if only simplicity were not the most difficult of all things.
What did these people do in order to achieve the development that liberated them? As far as I could see they did nothing wu wei 2)↓ but let things happen. As Master Lü-tsu teaches in our text, the light rotates according to its own law, if one does not give up one’s ordinary occupation. The art of letting things happen, action through non-action, letting go of oneself, as taught by Meister Eckhart, became for me the key opening the door to the way. We must be able to let things happen in the psyche. For us, this actually is an art of which few people know anything. Consciousness is forever interfering, helping, correcting, and negating 3)↓, and never leaving the simple growth of the psychic processes in peace. It would be simple enough, if only simplicity were not the most difficult of all things…
One who chooses only the things acceptable to his consciousness is gradually drawn out of the stream of life into stagnant backwater.
These exercises must be continued until the cramp in the conscious mind is released, or, in other words, until one can let things happen, which was the immediate goal of the exercise. In this way a new attitude is created, an attitude which accepts the non-rational and the incomprehensible, simply because it is what is happening. […] It is of the highest value for one who chooses, with an exclusively conscious critique, only the things acceptable to his consciousness from among the things that happen, and thus is gradually drawn out of the stream of life into stagnant backwater…
[…] As Master Lü-tsu teaches: ‚When occupations come to us we must accept them; when things come to us we must understand them from the ground up’. One man will chiefly take what comes to him from without, and the other what comes from within, and, according to the law of life, the one will have to take from the outside something he never could accept before from outside, and the other will accept from within things which would always have been excluded before.
The way is not without danger. Every thing good is costly, and the development of the personality is one of the most costly of all things.
[This] is a question of taking one’s self as the most serious of tasks, of being conscious of everything one does, and keeping it constantly before one’s eyes in all its dubious aspects—truly a task that taxes us to the utmost.
[…] Aesthetic or intellectual flirtations with life and fate come to an abrupt end here. The step to higher consciousness leads us out and away from all rear-guard cover and from all safety measures. The individual must give himself to the new way completely, for it is only by means of his integrity that he can go further, and only his integrity can guarantee that his way does not turn out to be an absurd adventure.
Commentary to „The Secret of the Golden Flower” by C. G. Jung
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|1.||↑||The Secret of the Golden Flower|
|2.||↑||Action through non-action. [C. F. B.]|
|3.||↑||Often a veritable cramp of consciousness exists.|